T.J. Masters
Passionately Writing. Writing Passion.

Writing

Musings on the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet 2014 (Or: Losing my Writer’s Meet Virginity!)

 

Just a week ago I was still a ‘Meet’ virgin, but no more. I’m just glad that if I had to lose my cherry that it was at the UK Meet in Bristol last weekend.

It was a weekend of many firsts for me. I went along with my own set of objectives in mind, but I couldn’t have known just how transformational such an event could be. All I’d wanted to do was:

  1. Increase my knowledge of the business.
  2. Get myself better known among my peers.
  3. Increase my social network.
  4. Sell some of my books.

It’s fair to say that those objectives were reached by the time we stopped for the first coffee break on day one.

During that mid-morning break I had my first epiphany of the weekend. A large number of the delegates attending the meet were readers. It was one of these who came up to me and told me how much she loved my books and how reading ‘Dear Santa, Dear Dad’ had resonated with her because of her relationship with her own father. Now, I’ve grown use to online reviews and comments both good and bad, but nothing can prepare you for the first time that a real person praises your writing face to face. By the time this lovely lady had finished I was trying to hold back my own tears and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Every word I write matters to me, but surely the greatest joy for an author is to find that your words also matter to those who read them. That one encounter made the whole weekend worthwhile for me and yet it was only the start of things to come.

Another expected benefit for me was the positive impact that the weekend hadon my lovely long-suffering partner, who I’d dragged along with me. First of all we were both blown away by the incredibly warm, friendly people who made us both feel part of the ‘gang’ right from the start. For him also came the realisation that it was not just me, all writers appear to be equally as mad! Best of all was seeing and hearing the reactions of my peers, both writers and readers towards me. In his mind this gave value to my work and somehow vindicated my efforts.

Apart from the personal benefits, the programme for the weekend delivered a wealth of useful, practical and valuable content. The panel lead sessions were all delivered by experts and generated lively discussions. Whether you were a seasoned author or an unpublished writer, a reader or a publisher, there were many things to be shared and learned.

We all know that writing can be the most solitary, even lonely of occupations.Possibly the most beneficial outcome of the UK Meet was the feeling that we really are not alone. We do not work in isolation. We are all part of an amazing collective. In any other business we would be strident competitors and yet there is a shared love which truly embraces the most disparate of characters in mutual support and understanding.

The whole weekend was well organised and full of awesome content. There was a lot of fun to be had and plenty of networking opportunities too. All this and yet it was organised and managed by a small team of hard working fellow authors. I have been to professionally run business conventions where valuable lessons could have been learned from the amazing UK Meet team. There we no low points in the event at all, not even the usual post lunch slump, because there was just too much to be awake for. I’m sure that just like any smooth running operation there was a lot going on beneath the surface (writers can be Divas too) but they kept the swan gliding gracefully throughout.

All good things do end but even on the last afternoon I had yet another epiphany experience while listening to the outstanding final key-note speaker Aleksandr Voinov. His words served to pull together all the threads of the weekend and reminded us why we write. I have come to this game in the second half of my life and there are stories to be told, passions to be directed and causes to be fought for. Yes I achieved my objectives, had a lot of fun and made some very real friends. I can’t wait for UK Meet 2015 to come around.

I have come home with a goal blazing before me. Writing about passion, with passion.

I want to write

I need to write

I will write.

Taught to Love – A Romance of Unlikely Parts

Today, 4th June,sees the release of Taught to Love by Dreamspinner Press!

 Taught to Love is about the developing friendship and subsequent romance between Ken, a handsome widowed father and Rob, his son’s young gay teacher. Father and son are living with overwhelming grief following the death of the wife/mother in their lives, and teacher Rob awakens the father to his son’s difficulties at school and then agrees to deliver some private tuition for Sam. For Rob, of course, this has the added benefit of more time spent with Sam’s sexy dad!

Both Father and son benefit from Rob’s genuine support of them both and Ken begins to appreciate the difference this selfless young man is making in their lives. With the surprising encouragement of Sam who is concerned about his dad’s loneliness, the young teacher allows himself to be drawn ever closer to the object of his desire. The relationship then quickly develops from appreciation to affection and ultimately to sex.

Get it now:

DreamspinnerAmazon.com – Amazon.co.ukAll Romance E-Books

Working Hard, Loving Harder: Window Cleaner’s View

I’m pleased to announce the fourth story in my Working Hard, Loving Harder series: Window Cleaner’s View!

Young James Cooper is cleaning windows to cover for the regular guy who is in hospital. James has also been receiving therapy following his troubled early retirement from the Army. Whilst cleaning a customer’s windows James spies a sexy young guy indulging in some solo fun watching a gay porn movie in his bedroom. Soon the two guys get together and horny student Steve no longer needs porn to stimulate him. The attraction is purely physical at first but as the two men learn more about each other it appears that the connection is more than skin deep.

Window Cleaner’s View is now available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and All-Romance E-Books.

Bunnies Aren’t Just For Easter

Or: How The Plot Bunnies Stole My Life

The inside of a writer’s head is a scary place to be. Whether focussed upon the current Work In Progress (WIP) or planning a future project, the corridors of the mind can be overrun by that ubiquitous creature, the plot bunny. Definitions for the term are many and varied, but it is most commonly used by writers to refer to that state of mind where they have more plot ideas than they can use. It can also refer to that condition where your characters or your plot have taken on a life of its own and refuse to bend to your will. More of that later.

The term plot bunny has really been popularised by the NANORIMO movement. I’ve even seen it claimed that the term originated here, but there is clear evidence that it was in use long before the writers claimed November. In fact most people now believe the term to have its origins in the famous John Stienbeck quote : Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them and pretty soon you have a dozen.

Some writers see the wild plot bunny as a plague. It’s true that untamed and undirected they can drain a writers energy and clog up the creative flow to the point where Work In Progress can become Work With No Progress.

Personally I love my plot bunnies. They are a valuable resource which, with the application of a bit of careful animal husbandry, can fuel creativity enormously. Bunnies like attention and when they wander, all cute and fluffy into your brain you must welcome them lovingly. Provide a home for these little friends and nourish them, but then allow them to do what they know best, grow, find mates and multiply. If you are dismissive, unwelcoming or just careless, you will scare them away. Plot bunnies are timid creatures who are easily scared off and are very hard to entice back again.

 

For me, the plot bunny comes in as many forms as there are breeds of pet rabbit. One might be a song, a phrase or a quote. Another might be a person who I have seen or met. Buildings, places and events also inspire me. It may be that none of these can be used in the current WIP but it is essential not to discard or lose them.

Plot bunnies by their very nature will stroll into you headspace at the most inconvenient moments. You may be busy writing, eating dinner, out with friends or even sleeping. It is all too easy to tell yourself that you will remember this new idea later, but in my experience that rarely happens. You need to record every fluffy friend the moment it appears, or risk losing it for ever.

Personally I find a notebook to be the easiest way to store all these random thoughts and I dip into it frequently. This notebook has proven to be a treasure chest for plot ideas and there is great joy to be had from introducing two or more disparate plot bunnies and watching them breed. Do beware of sharing this behaviour with the uninitiated unless you are prepared for the pitying looks and confused responses. The brain of the writer is someplace akin to that part of  town you don’t venture into after dark, or if you do it is with the car windows wound up and the doors locked!

How can you expect your nearest and dearest to understand your mood when your characters have stopped talking to you? Have you ever tried to explain to your Significant Other how your story is not progressing because your main character is refusing to do what you want them to? This is the plot bunny reverting to its skittish wild rabbit origins.

Of course it’s not all so stressful. I clearly remember a new character walked on to the page while I was writing my first novel. I hadn’t planned Mrs Perkins in any way at all, but suddenly she opened the front door and there she was, a named and fully formed character who I had never met before! Mrs. P. remains one of my best loved plot bunnies and I thank the goddess of the burrows for delivering her to me.

I know that bunnies in pots are not a popular image but let me suggest a way to overcome that view. How about having a Plot Bunny Pot? Write down all your plot bunnies on pieces of paper and put them in a pot or box of some sort. When you’re in need of inspiration, start pulling out the ideas and arrange them in front of you. Unexpected matchings will breed new ideas. New characters and settings will be born and the writing will flow.

Be kind to your bunnies. Give them a good home but don’t fence them in. Let them run free and make friends with each other. Care for your plot bunnies and they will reward you with a constant flow of new ideas to feed your stories. Just remember that when you are chatting with your plot bunnies, do make sure that you’re alone.

 

Working Hard, Loving Harder: Draining the Plumber

Here we are at the third book of Working Hard, Loving Harder! This time the sexy workman is a plumber called in to replace some kitchen taps.

Brian works from home, so when his next door neighbour Ann needs a minder to keep an eye on their plumber at short notice he rushes around to help in her hour of need. Not only does Jack the sexy plumber grab Brian’s interest, but he wastes no time in seducing the willing samaritan. As soon as the work is finished the two horny guys move next door to Brian’s house where the workman teaches his lover just how a plumber likes to be drained. This proves to be no one night stand either, and so an even hotter second date is arranged.

Draining the Plumber is available from All Romance E-Books, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Sparks Fly

I’m pleased to announce the next entry in the ‘Working Hard, Loving Harder’ series, which began with The Gasman Cometh. Cover art and blurb below!

Young Alex Evans is not at all happy when he is expected to cut short his morning lie-in to welcome the electrician which his father has called. The lad’s mood soon changes however when he opens the door to a fit young sparks called Greg who openly flirts with him from the outset.

Greg, for all his flirting, is no pushover but the boy charms him and soon they are naked in Alex’s bedroom. There is still a big surprise awaiting Alex in more ways than one but before long the sparks fly!

Sparks Fly is available from All Romance E-Books, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Hands of Power

Welcome to my latest steamy tale of masculine sex and lust. This is the story of athletic amateur rugby player, Richard Doyle who is injured in a match. After a visit to a hospital A & E he seeks the help of a sports therapist to get him fit to play again before the next important game. Physiotherapist Alan Jennings is a very fit, attractive and skilled man. Ex-army, divorced and gay, Alan is immediately attracted to his stunningly good looking new client and wastes no time in seducing the younger man and introducing him to the joys of masculine m/m sex. As Richard’s shoulder is treated so a powerful relationship develops between the two men.

The therapist’s powerful hands work their magic on the handsome rugby player and soon he is fit to play again. At the same time he has become a hungry submissive partner in their discrete but intense sexual adventures. The day of the semi-final arrives and Alan accompanies his lover at the request of the team coach in order to look after their star player. After winning a great game the team are ready for their traditional night of drunken celebrations but Richard just wants to get his sexual mentor back to their shared hotel room as soon as possible.

Get it now from All Romance E-Books and Amazon!

The Gasman Cometh – Available Now!

My new title, The Gasman Cometh, is now available from Amazon!

The Gasman Cometh tells the story of sexy young central heating engineer Chris who is sent to the home of the older and more confident Colin Andrews to repair a fault. So far the lad’s life has amounted to little but Colin takes a shine to his repair man and circumstances now lead him to want to help turn things around. Of course mistakes must be punished, but who says that love cannot start with a spanking?

You can get it at All Romance E-BooksAmazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

New Book Release

My new Christmas story, ‘Dear Santa, Dear Dad’ is now available worldwide to download from Amazon and from All Romance Ebooks. For readers of Taking the Gardener, this is a very different work with no sex described. This is a very seasonal feel-good story full of gay romance and family reconciliation. My readers will recognise very realistic characters in a very real English rural setting, albeit blanketed in snow.]

In the story, widower Steven drives to the North of England two days before Christmas to see his estranged son Andrew hoping for a reconciliation. Steven had rejected his son when, as a 19 year old student, he came out to his parents as being gay. Andrew now lives with his partner Peter who initiates contact with Steven by forwarding on to him the almost childlike ‘Letter to Santa’ that the lad has written asking for a father who loves him.

At first Andrew is hostile to his father’s overtures but the bad weather conspires to strand them all together over the Christmas period. Father and son both experience a steep learning curve, not helped by the father realising that his son’s lover is actually older than he is. Proximity breaks down barriers and the three men work together in the spirit of cooperation and of the season to create a Christmas experience which will change their lives for ever.

Available now on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dear-Santa-Dad-T-J-Masters-ebook/dp/B00GVGAY26/

Also availabe in other formats at All Romance E-Books:
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-dearsantadeardad-1366340-149.html?referrer=52a431285edbd

UK Book Sales: Where Are We?

Some 8 months ago I was blogging about the competition between printed physical books and their electronic counterparts. When sales tracker Neilsen published figures for UK book sales at the end of 2012 we had a few surprises, but mostly pleasant ones. Best of all the figures provided the quantitative evidence that our gut feelings about the state of book selling in the UK were not too far from the truth.

For anyone who assumed that book sales were in decline, think again. British publishers reported record sales of £3.3bn during 2012, a rise of 4% on the previous year. This total can be broken down into e-book sales of £411m and physical book sales of £2.9bn. Yes, the e-book sales grew by 66% but print book sales only fell by 1% on the previous year.

The growth of digital sales is due to the rise of e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle series along with iPads and Smartphones. But any fears that they rang the death knell of the printed book seem to have been completely unfounded.

Maybe it came as no surprise that E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy were the best sellers of 2012. They occupied the top 3 spots in the chart with combined sales of 10.5 million copies. As a writer of erotica it seems that I cannot mention what I do without the inevitable comparative questions or comments. Those who know me well also know my opinion of those books both from a literary point of view and the quality of the content. I do, however, believe that they hold a pivotal place in the development of the industry. All praise to ELJ for her success and her millions but aside from that, she has got millions of people TALKING about books. More importantly, she has people READING books. Of course, she has also helped authors like me in a big way by causing erotica to be more widely read and accepted. Currently a quarter of all fiction is read on e-readers and this has made it possible for readers to engage anonymously with any material even in public.

The future of publishing is looking positive and I am pleased to think that the demise of the physical book is still a very long way off. Luckily my publisher, Dreamspinner Press, like to publish books in both physical and digital forms.

Much still needs to be done to ensure the survival of good quality books and bookshops too. There is certainly work to be done around the pricing of digital books. It is worth taking a look at the best seller charts for their content and variety. What must now be done is to ensure that once readers are drawn into book, whether it is through the Fifty Shades route or via the latest celebrity chef glossy tome, that there is a next step available to them. We must now work hard to provide good quality further reading opportunities for all.

You can click here to see the sales charts described above.