Girding Up for Fall

Fall promises to be hectic: We have less than sixty days left before the midterms. Looking at my wall calendar, election day is November 6. There is a chance that I may be working in a Bay Area Vote by Mail unit around election time, a seasonal job that I would actually enjoy and find worthwhile. Our American democracy is pretty fragile at this point, and we need to be super-vigilant about our voting systems. I hope that if there was any voting irregularity this time in an important race, it would be discovered pretty quickly… but who can be sure? I am also looking forward to Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, though because so many excerpts have been released, I feel I’ve read it already…

Two writing/publishing projects are in the works for me. I have never turned any of my books into audiobooks, but Findaway Voices makes this easy now. The book is one of my shortest, my self-help memoir Connecting the Dots. I’ve narrowed down my choice of a narrator to one very talented person and just want to hear her read a section of the book to be sure it’s a good fit. If all goes well, it’s likely that the audiobook will be out by Christmas! Since this is my first go-round, I’m going to make it available on as many outlets as possible (and there are many!), and charge $5.99. Keep an eye out for it.

Return to Carlsbad will be published October 9.

Pre-order now!

My other news is of a pre-order. Return to Carlsbad, book 3 in my MM contemporary romance Elsie Street series, is available to purchase now for $3.99 and will be released October 9! Look for it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo. (I might release it on Google Play a little early, just for fun.) Haven’t read Book 1 yet? Just to make it a little easier for folks to try the series, the first book, Elsie Street, is now free at virtually all stores.

In this final book, dramatic changes come to Aaron’s and his older sister Tessa’s lives as they both finally move on from the past, though in Aaron’s case healing comes from confronting the past and returning to his childhood home in coastal Southern California, where so many of his early experiences with loss and trauma took place. But it’s not entirely a sad book: there’s a passionate love story in there too, an understanding lover who offers Aaron both sex and friendship. Aaron’s challenge, though, is to feel worthy of it.

It’s the first evening of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival here and I am going to go eat a moon cake.

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July Summer/Winter Sale Starts Tomorrow!

Phew, it’s hot! Smashwords holds its monthlong Summer/Winter ebook sale starting tomorrow and running through July 31. It’s a great opportunity to pick up new reads.

Visit my book page to see my bargains. A Knight’s Tale: Kenilworth is free, and its sequel, A Knight’s Tale: Montargis, is 50 percent off. My ADHD memoir, Connecting the Dots, is a whopping 75 percent off, as is the Elsie Street follow-up, The Pull of Yesterday.

These discounts are only available on the Smashwords site. They’ve been in business for ten years, and I think that’s something to be celebrated.

Fellow writers, you can add your books to the promotion by visiting the Smashwords.com home page at any time.

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A Pride Month Update

It’s Pride Month, and I have been fairly busy on the writing and self-publishing front. First, I just put A Knight’s Tale, Books 1 & 2, my LGBT medieval historical romances, on Smashwords; they can be found here. I’ll update links for the other vendors when I have them. For readers who prefer epub files, I’m sorry it’s been such a long wait!

Update: Here is the link to A Knight’s Tale: Kenilworth on Google Play.

Find the ebooks on Barnes & Noble!

And one more: a nice, pretty link to ALL my books on Apple!

GW-ReturntoCarlsbad-bk3-200x300I started thinking about and mentally drafting Book 3 of my contemporary gay romance Elsie Street series; to help me along, I got a premade cover from Fantasia Frog Designs, my go-to cover designer. I expect Return to Carlsbad will be out sometime in the fall. It’s Aaron’s story, from his POV, and probably in third person (because it’s easier to do Aaron that way, for some reason!).

Although I am continuing to work as a freelance copy editor/proofreader at Editforindies.com, and I welcome author queries, I’ve found that the self-publishing landscape has changed so much over the past five years. Perhaps many of my former clients have thrown in the towel and returned to work, or stopped writing. I have been looking for work, too, but trying to think of it as a search for something I would like to do and can commit to doing long-term. This is difficult, but hopefully not impossible.

 

 

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Memorial Day Sale

Foggy weather has started early and even the opening of the Salesforce Tower, a big deal in San Francisco, was spoiled by it! The month was made a little more fun by the Royal Wedding, which I enjoyed thoroughly. And my birthday followed shortly after, so I can always hope to be a little wiser!

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A Knight’s Tale is set in 13th-century England.

I wanted to let readers know that my gay historical novel A Knight’s Tale: Kenilworth will be free on Monday, May 28 on Amazon (regularly $1.99). A recent 5-star reviewer wrote, “Laced with intrigue, love, and battles for supremacy, this book measures up.”

And for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, both Kenilworth and its sequel are free… though I am planning to take both books “wide” sometime next month. It is always a dilemma, how soon to do this, but it seems unfair to leave readers on the other platforms (Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo) out.

Hope everyone is having a good start to the summer.

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A May Anniversary, or Two

Hard to believe, but May 30, 2011, was when I published my first ebook, a literary novel called The Leaving. I did the cover myself and chose Smashwords as the first ebook platform to upload it to. Back then there was no KDP Select, and I felt no hurry to put the book up on Amazon KDP, though I recall I did this sometime in June 2011. Since I didn’t make the Amazon payment threshold the first month, it took three months for me to be paid!

But I was just delighted to get in the game, and in the next couple of years things improved rapidly. 2013-2015 was the golden era, where those of us who were writing erotica did quite nicely, since Amazon paid a flat payment no matter how short the story was. I published all of my backlist over the years. On Smashwords, my erotica shorts took off on Barnes & Noble under a pen name, so I experienced a surprising upswell there too.

In these seven years since I started, the self-publishing landscape has completely changed, but I’m always one for looking back, so I was interested to read CEO Mark Coker’s take on Smashwords’ 10-year-anniversary, presented in one of his characteristically long blog posts!

Here is an excerpt. I like Coker’s sentiments here:

Against the backdrop of publishing’s culture of NO, I imagined it would be really cool if an enlightened publisher or publishing service could say yes to every writer in the world, and do it at no cost to the writer.  And then I wondered, “What if that someone could be me?  What if I could take a chance on every writer in the world?”

This was the genesis of Smashwords.

Throughout my career, I’ve always been drawn to “change the world” ventures that carry a higher purpose.  I’ve long believed that a life without higher purpose is a life squandered.   Every person with a pulse has an opportunity to take small but significant steps today that will leave the world better than we found it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a  writer, entrepreneur, home maker, school teacher, garbage collector, artist, doctor, mechanic, baker or retired.  Pick your passion and make a difference.

Writers are some of the most passionate, inspiring world-changers I’ve met.

In late 2004 I set to work on the Smashwords business plan.

I wanted to turn the conventional publishing model upside down.  I wanted to give authors full control over their rights, pricing and publishing decisions, and I wanted to flip the compensation model so that 85% of the net proceeds went directly to the author.

It was also important to me that Smashwords’ interests be aligned with the interests of writers.  Rather than sell publishing packages or charge upfront for our services, we’d offer our service for free and we’d earn our income on commission.  If the author made money, we made money.

cbd3b17ef855312da27f11db4f0e16ba85c87a6d-thumbThere is one short, health-related nonfiction ebook title remaining that I sell at Smashwords which still has my original Photoshopped home-made cover on it. Here it is, in all of its glory!

It’s been a strange ride, but I have to hand it to Mark Coker for continuing to evolve in what must be an incredibly tough business landscape. The financial terms he offers writers have never changed for the worse, and although some of my peers complain about the visuals of the Smashwords site, I personally think there’s a lot to say for something that *doesn’t* change radically over time. Which isn’t to say that Smashwords hasn’t made improvements. I love being able to check my daily sales onsite and I enjoyed doing their interview feature, where I was able to rattle on about my own writing process and history. Has Smashwords made me a ton of money? Nope, but over time I’ve made about 20 percent of what I’ve made on the Amazon US platform, and with a lot less hassle!

 

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April Promotions

It’s April and we’re in Mercury Retrograde. Seems like a good time to have a promotion or two in the M/M romance genre.

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A Knight’s Tale is set in 13th-century England.

My latest historical novel, A Knight’s Tale: Montargis, came out on March 6, though it seems very recent. It is more introspective and intense than the first book. Here is a review that beautifully sums up what I was trying to achieve with the novel:

A Knight’s Tale: Montargis is another great read by Ms. West. It takes off where the first book in this series, A Knight’s Tale: Kenilworth, left off. This book is just as sexy and romantic and oozes with similar medieval details and context but Ms. West digs deeper into the shadow of these characters. We feel dark things at work in their relationships that shape their emotional and sexual expressions. These characters are held back and determined by history that we gradually understand. Ms. West lets this tension simmer. Redemption is not always possible, forgiveness is sometimes out of reach and yet somehow love still tries to find a way.

The good news is, Book 1 will be free on Amazon Friday, April 6 through Monday, April 9!

I published my gay/bi contemporary romance Elsie Street way back in 2015 and have decided to drop the price to .99 for the forseeable future. It is already .99 on Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Google Play. Update: it’s now also 99 cents on Amazon!

Happy National Poetry Month as well. I no longer do my taxes by mail, but I have a slightly surreal memory of delivering my tax envelope to a local post office years ago and being handed a copy of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in honor of National Poetry Month! I think Eliot would have appreciated the irony of this.

I just found the 75th anniversary edition on my shelf and will have to re-read it.

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St. Paddy’s, Green Beer, and a free ebook today

Reblogging an old but entertaining post about St. Patrick’s Day. I still haven’t tried green beer!

While the ADHD and Food Dye book mentioned below is 99 cents on Amazon, I’ve made it free on Smashwords in honor of today: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/253748

Gabriella West

I want to make a confession: I’ve never sampled green beer! You see, I grew up in Dublin, where in the 1980s, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, held in still-freezing March temperatures, was a fairly sombre, pallid march down central city streets. It was helped along by middle-aged Americans looking cheerful and wearing green or plaid trousers, looking like they had just stepped off a golf course, and marching bands from America, which were fun to watch and listen to. All I can remember besides that were floats from Irish insurance companies, the only companies that had any money in the 80s. And if we were lucky, the family got a post-parade meal of burgers and chips at an Americanized cafe called Solomon Grundy’s around the corner.

Anyway, when I came to America in my early 20s, it was a revelation to me that people got drunk and had…

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Read an Ebook Week on Smashwords, and a New Book Out Too…

Busy week ahead. The annual Read an Ebook Week sale kicked off on Smashwords. It’s on March 4-10th, and four of my novels are discounted! My contemporary gay romance Elsie Street is free, while my three other books, including Time of Grace, are either 99 cents or $1. So it’s a pretty sweet deal, and I encourage you to check it out. Your discount is automatically applied at checkout. You can find a list of my books here if you scroll down a bit!

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I’m quite excited by the release of my new book, A Knight’s Tale: Montargis, which rolls out on March 6 on Amazon.com, and is available to read in Kindle Unlimited (KU). The novel opens in 1266 with Will and Stephen in a place of safety (albeit exile) at Montargis Abbey in central France and takes them on an emotionally turbulent journey, including a long trek to Italy for Will to hear what turns out to be Simon’s deathbed confession. The book ends in the South of France in the year 1272, with Stephen confronting the actual burial place of his parents (who were persecuted Cathars) and their friends, and learning some of the hidden history behind their tragic deaths. Deaths, burials, sex, secrets, and infidelity are huge themes in this novel, but it ends on a note of joy. You can read a long excerpt from the new book here.

A reminder that you can pick up Book 1, A Knight’s Tale: Kenilworth, for 99 cents now.

As a writer, shaping these two books has been a tremendous learning experience for me. While I plan to bring out Book 3 next year, I’m playing around with the idea of a longer series set in the fourteenth century. This is the time of the gay king Edward II (the son of Prince Edward in my current books) and of the plague decimating Europe. It would be interesting to create a story centered around descendants of the characters in my Knight’s Tale books. We’ll see!

 

 

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‘ADD & Romance’ Author Gives Intimacy Tips for Valentine’s Day

As promised, here is a little article that I dug up from my files about Valentine’s Day and keeping intimacy alive in your relationship. Although it was originally written with AD/HD in mind, in this world of screens and hyper-busyness it’s ever more relevant.

Psychotherapist Jonathan Scott Halverstadt, M.S., is the author of the book A.D.D. & Romance: Finding Fulfillment in Love, Sex & Relationships (Taylor, 1998). On staff for several years at the Amen Clinic in Fairfield, CA, he now practices privately in Fresno, CA.

I spoke to Halverstadt by phone in 2010. Diagnosed with ADHD himself in 1991, he was humorous, frank, and thoughtful about treating couples with ADHD and relationship problems. As for how ADHD affects people in the U.S., it’s everywhere. Halverstadt suspects that in the general population, around 8-15 percent have ADHD, and the vast majority are still undiagnosed and untreated.

I asked Halverstadt if it’s more common for people with ADHD to flake out on Valentine’s Day.

“To me, it’s not about whether it’s the day or not,” Halverstadt says, “it’s about where they are in the stimulation process. If the relationship has become commonplace or normalized for them, it’s just part of their standard day.”

Halverstadt adds that for people with ADHD to shine on Valentine’s Day they’re going to have to work at it—to work from their own intense impulsivity, spontaneity, and creativity.

“You know, I’m an old guy,” he says, laughing, “and Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I’m very much in love with my partner. And we will go to dinner and we’ll do something special but it’s not like in the first throes of romantic love, where it’s like “Oh, wow, we can do this or we can do that!” It’s more like, “Hmm, I gotta remember to get her some flowers.”

But isn’t that typical of everyone? I ask.

“I think it’s very much typical of people across the board,” he answers. “Where it becomes difficult for ADHD people is that if it’s not stimulating, they’re not going to focus there.

“So I try to teach people, ‘You know how to be romantic. In the hyperfocus days, you did incredible stuff.’ It’s about remembering what you did back then. And making certain that you do it now because that is then truly a gift of love, because now it’s not that you’re being driven by your biochemistry, you’re being driven by your commitment, caring, and compassion.

“One of the misnomers across the board, whatever gender or preference you are,” he continues, “is this erroneous belief that if my partner really loves me then they’re going to do this incredible thing and I won’t have to say anything. I tell them, that would be cool, but that’s not the way it usually works. If there’s something you really want, that works for you, that’s romantic and wonderful, ask for it. If you ask for it and they give it, it’s truly a gift of love. That, to me, shows way more commitment.

Finally, Halverstadt stresses: “When life with your partner becomes commonplace, you need to do something about that if you want it to be a satisfying relationship! It’s so easy for that to happen because we all lead such busy lifestyles. We stop listening, we stop being vulnerable and being honest about who we are.”

The real satisfaction in life, he says, comes from having healthy, loving, supportive relationships where we can give love and be  loved. “If that seems as if it’s missing, don’t go too long without getting a tune-up. Get that taken care of. Because life is really short. Having a good, healthy relationship or friendships, that’s really where ultimately we’re going to feel wonderful.”

 

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‘A Knight’s Tale: Kenilworth’ on Kindle Countdown through Monday

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A Knight’s Tale is set in 13th-century England.

Just wanted to let my blog readers in the US know that you can get my historical romance A Knight’s Tale: Kenilworth for 99 cents today and Saturday only; it will rise to $1.99 Sunday and Monday before it reverts back to $2.99!

Reviewers have called it “captivating” and “extremely bittersweet and romantic.”

The sequel is on preorder now. I’m working away busily to finish it! I’ve taken the hero, Will, on a grueling journey through medieval France and Italy to a castle in a small town in Tuscany where Simon de Montfort the younger is in hiding, deathly ill, after a brutal crime of revenge he and his brother Guy committed in a church. (This historical murder was so notorious that Dante even put a line or two about it in his Inferno.)

And if you want to pick up Time of Grace, my lesbian romance set in 1916 Ireland, at the .99 price, now’s the time to do it. It will revert to its normal price of $3.99 on Sunday, February 11. I had a successful BookBub: my biggest thrill was briefly getting to #67 on the “Popular historical romance authors” list, something I didn’t know existed…

Thanks to the Hidden Gems Romance newsletter for featuring A Knight’s Tale today. And happy Valentine’s Day. I think I will post something unusual for V-Day–an interview with an ADHD expert that I dug up from my files about how to keep passion and interest going in your relationship. Applies to everyone, I think! So, look out for that.

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