Blog Archive - January 2013

What's the Rumble?

cones heartHello all! So here's what's been going down in Charlietown. I'm in the process of designing a swanky new site, which is why when you connect to the 'website' from the blog, you get er... a second blog, or a maintenance page with my lovely fellas on it telling you what's going on. I had to strip away the domain name and ya da, ya da, ya [insert technobabble here], anyway, that explains some of the weirdness going on. Until the new site launches, it's business as usual on this blog and the current weekly writing series will still be posted here.

What does designing this swanky new website entail? This is my first venture in creating a website pretty much from scratch in Wordpress. Well, the base template is there and you gotta do the rest. I made sure to choose a theme template that would allow me to tear it apart and put it back together. I should probably add that I'm not a programmer. I'm a Google-the-hell-out-of-what-I-don't-know-and-figure-it-out er, but I've been doing THAT for years, and when you do something long enough, you get pretty good at it. I'm more of a designer than a programmer. When I see the word HTML, I instinctively groan. But a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.

code orangeI've spent the last week pretty much from sunup to sundown wading through code and style sheets to customize everything on that sucker. So I had my blank canvas, and soon started painting. I wanted the graphics on the site to be my own, and those that couldn't be my own, licensed. So far, the only thing I haven't created myself are my social media 'follow me' icons--though I did have to alter the colors to fit my theme and make one icon based on the others because the pack didn't come with a Goodreads icon. I know, you're wondering why if I can make my own graphics didn't I just make a bunch of icons? Because it would have taken me forever to think up one design and go with it. Sometimes having too much choice can be a bad thing. It was easier for me to browse, find a set I liked and go with it. Also it was one less thing I had to spend ages on designing. I want the site to look great, but I don't want to spend a year on it because I have books to write gosh darn it!

Anyhoo, I had to create a color scheme that would be used throughout the site, change the fonts, their color, their size, add individual sidebars to most of the pages, insert images and links, create buttons, badges, and headers from scratch in Photoshop, format all my book covers and any other images I needed, type everything out, link everything, move all my posts and comments from this blog to the integrated blog on the new site (and oh my god, those bloody little hearts you see in the blog titles? Now I have to manually remove them all. Way to go Charlie). I have to re-categorize and re-tag all my posts, deal with the evil RSS feeds, and you get the drift.

love booksThere are 44 pages so far, nicely streamlined and purty. Why go through all this trouble? Because my website represents me as an author, and as this is my career, I want to make sure that I'm putting my all into every aspect of it. But this website isn't just about me, it's about the readers. Without readers I would have no career. So, I've done a good deal of research to make sure the new site has more than just the usual blurbs, excerpts, and promo stuff. I want fun, exclusive content, and engaging extras because my website is as much about the readers as it is about me. I want to give something back, show my appreciation, because even though I might not know you or chat to you because you're somewhere out there in the ether, I want you to know I care and this isn't all about me. (There's also going to be some fun bits for fellow authors).

So I'm also going to ask those brave souls who leave comments to volunteer information. I've already come up with some fun new pages, but I'd like to know:

What do you want to see more of on author websites? What do you like or not like? What frustrates you? What keeps you coming back or sends you running for the hills? We're talking author websites so it doesn't have to pertain to any specific genre. The floor's all yours!


Charlie's Guide to Writing Historical Gay Romance - Part 3: Setting

Charlies Guide SettingHello all! Welcome to the third installment of my series on writing historical gay romance. Today we're talking about setting. Setting is more than a time and place, it also encompasses the social milieu--the culture which will help shape your characters and the world around them. To fully immerse your character in his time period, you need to research the timeline leading up to your current setting.

Society can change drastically in a few years, and your character will have lived through these changes. For example, in my stories set in the thirties, my characters would have grown up in the early 1900's and spent their young adult lives in the 1920's. There were huge changes for them to deal with on their way to adulthood. Much the same way some of us look back at our own childhood or teenage years and what was happening around us at the time.

Times Square NYC 1908

Some of my fellas, like Bruce and Hawk would have been children during the early 1900's, their parents undoubtedly of a certain mindset, one that was challenged after the Great War, of which by then, these fellas would have most likely fought in. Then came the Roaring Twenties, which might not have affected them had they lived in a small rural town somewhere out west, but as they were both born and raised in New York City, this new, fast-paced, 'anything goes' attitude would have swept up these now twenty-something year old young men. They survived a war, they're young, they're going to say 'the hell with it', and get their kicks while they can. Come the stock market crash, things change. Society no longer tolerates them. It's now illegal for them to be served a beer down at their local bar should anyone question their sexuality. Of course if someone found out, being refused a beer would be the least of their worries. They'd lose their jobs, face imprisonment, or considering their careers in law enforcement, probably face worse. The country is in despair, millions unemployed, soup kitchens at full capacity, the breadlines never ending. To fully understand the 1930's and the fellas who resided there, I had to research the years leading up to it.

Times Square NYC 1927

Let's discuss location. The further back in history you go, depending on place, the more difficult it may be to come up with research material. But in order to have believability, you need to research your locations, find out what was and wasn't around at the time. For my stories, I often refer to the WPA Guide to New York City, which is a guide to 1930's New York City. It has in-depth coverage of all five boroughs, including photographs and detailed maps. It's an amazing book, but I always have to double check my facts, because the book was published in 1939, and my stories tend to be set in the early 1930's or in the 1920's. Obviously a book published in 1939 will be closer to how things were at the time than a modern day guide of NYC, but I need to make sure if I mention a certain building or landmark, that it actually existed at the time. I can't have Julius and Edward in awe of the Empire State Building when it hadn't been constructed yet.

I use a lot of photo references of locations, people, and maps. It's always far easier to describe something when you've seen it. Even if you don't use a specific photo for your location, it gives you an idea of the area. With larger cities, it's usually easier to find books on that city's history, and at times you can even narrow it down to specific boroughs or towns. Small details like architecture, design, stone color, building facades, shops, cleanliness of the streets or lack thereof, all help toward a more believable image. You're not just writing in a backdrop, you're breathing life back into this long gone era. This is the world your characters live in, where they work, interact, fall in love. What's it like for them there?

Once you have enough reference material for your setting, you can then add your atmosphere.   Combining the two will go a long way in creating a believable world. You have your location, then you add your mood. When we watch a film, why do we feel as though we're there? What do you see, hear, feel? Don't forget colors. They also help set moods. The other day I watched Cinderella Man, and aside being a very enjoyable film, I really liked the look of it. I noticed there were a lot of browns and muted colors, which added to it's historical feel and went well with the depictions of the Great Depression, whereas The Gangster Squad which was more of a homage to the gangster films of yore, was filled with bright neon signs, popping colors, and sharp Art Deco architecture. It was all about glamour.

As I mentioned before, you can refer to Hollywood movies, but don't forget these films have a way of being over-dramatized and exaggerated where the history is concerned, so if you are going to turn to films for inspiration on setting, make sure to double check your facts. They have a habit of sneaking in things because it looks good even if it technically doesn't belong in that period. Here are a few links with some pretty amazing photographs from various periods of history.

http://www.old-picture.com/ http://www.old-picture.com/american-life-1920s-index-001.htm http://www.old-picture.com/american-history-1900-1930s-index-001.htm http://www.paris-in-photos.com/paris-world-fair-1900.htm http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/charles-dickens/9018185/Dickenss-London-in-pictures.html http://www.talktalk.co.uk/lifestyle/galleries/view/lifestyle/victorianlondon1888/browse/127007 http://www.historicalstockphotos.com/

Conclusion to Part 3: Setting is more than just location, it includes the culture and social mindset of the time, all things which would have an impact on your characters and the men they grow up to be. How does the world view them? What are society's laws? The government's laws? What occurred in the years your character was growing up? Was there great change? Very little change?

I hope you enjoyed this week's post! Stay tuned next week for Part 4: Details.

Charlie's Guide to Writing Historical Gay Romance - Part 2: Atmosphere

Charlies Guideatmosphere300

Hello all, and welcome to part 2 of my series on writing historical gay romance. Last week's post (which you can find here) covered some key elements of creating character. This week we're talking about atmosphere, something I strive to improve with my own writing every day. Writing historical isn't just about getting the details right. You need your readers to feel and see the world you created, this era long gone. When I write one of my stories, I see it as a movie in my head, and if I don't feel as if I'm there, how am I going to get readers there?

The most intimidating part for some folks is getting the details right, but you don't need to write out every tiny detail, only enough to create a clear image and set the tone. You know why? Because most folks have seen enough TV, movies, artwork, photography, to get an idea of what certain things look like for certain eras that a good deal of the foundation is already there for you to build on. But you don't want to just throw out any old clichéd description.

Let's say I'm writing a noir-ish style story. Why do I say noir-ish style and not noir? Because noir is very specific. It's a very stylized type of crime drama with certain elements needed to make it that genre, and my stories don't really fall into that category. When I get around to writing Bruce's story, it'll probably cover a lot of those elements, as he's the only character of mine modeled after a Hollywood film noir type detective. The focus of my stories tend to be the romance, not the crime--if any, hence noir-ish. Anyway, so what do we know about noir? I use a lot of film analogies and examples because I'm a big film buff and as an artist, prefer to have visuals to draw from. You don't have to be an expert to get an idea. Film noir is french for "black film". (Note: The term wasn't applied to these films until the mid to late 1940's by a French critic, and wasn't widely adopted until much later. Your fella isn't going to know what the hell film noir is. He'll understand characters being hardboiled, but not noir.) Okay, so we're writing this noir scene. What's the one thing that comes into your head first? You guessed it: lots of shadows and darkness.

Big ComboType film noir into Google images and what do you see?  A wall of black and white images. And not just black and white, but look at those shadows. The smoke, the fog, the intensity. If we're writing our scene, it's not enough for our character to just be walking down a darkened New York or L.A. street. We need to describe these shadows, the fathomless darkness, the veil of fog, the sounds he hears around him but can't see. Is it raining? How heavy? What's he wearing? Is the rain and wind getting through his overcoat, whipping at his skin through his upturned collar? What can he smell? Rotting garbage? Is there steam coming up from the sewers? Is there any lighting at all? Where's it coming from? How's he feel walking down this street?

If it's Bruce, he would be in his element. He's not afraid of the shadows or the world they're a part. He's seen worse, done things he's not proud of, but what the hell, we're all damned anyway, right? He's not afraid to die and any mug who wants to go a few rounds can bring it on. He's a booze guzzling, cigarette smoking, hardboiled detective who always carries a gun, a sap, and his smarts. He fought in the war, sinking into the rotting yellow mud of the trenches while young fellas fell dead at his feet. This street ain't nothing, and if he gets home at the end of the day with only a few bruised ribs and a nice new shiner, he'd write it off as a good day. This is your movie. You're the director. Add texture to your scenes, sounds and taste. Then let the imagination of the reader do the rest.

Let's talk interior. If I'm describing a scene in a character's bedroom, I want enough detail for readers to get an image of the room. Am I going to use the official name of every piece of furniture he comes across? Let's say your readers are getting all swept up in the sexual tension between these fellas. One is on the brink of losing it. He can't deny himself any longer, standing by watching Joe every day, working beside him, being his friend and pretending he feels nothing more, putting up with Joe's teasing--and all of a sudden, Joe slams his fist on the Chiffonier. What? What the hell is a Chiffonier? It might seem obvious to some, but is there really a reason why I have to call it a Chiffonier and not a chest of drawers--which is technically what it is, just higher and more narrow. Am I writing a story about furniture or guys in love? I'm not saying don't use any terms of the time, because that sort of defeats the purpose of writing a historical, I'm just saying to use them sparingly. It's an intense scene where something is about to happen, something big. Emotional drama! Do I really want readers to be thrown out of the moment because of furniture? Which brings me to a very important question: Who are you writing your story for?

The sad truth about historical fiction is that many folks find themselves intimidated,not just with writing it, but reading it as well. It's not the sole reason some don't read historical, but it's one of them. When I decided to write in the 1920's and 30's, I had to decide what kind of stories I wanted to tell and who my audience was going to be. There was so much going on during these periods, the possibilities were endless. The fact is, I wanted to entertain. I've never been one for tough drama. I'll never win a Pulitzer with my hard hitting depiction of humanity during these eras, and I'm okay with that. If this were the movie business, I'd never win an Oscar because I'd be making films like Gangster Squad and Sherlock Holmes, not Downfall or Thin Red Line. I love the latter two films, but I haven't re-watched them since the first time I saw them. Same with films like Schindler's List. I've lost count with how any times I've seen The Untouchables or L.A. Confidential.

I'm an entertainer, and to some, that's a bad word. Critics are always searching for hard-hitting and meaning. Yes, I want my stories to have meaning, to evoke emotion, and yes, they'll have drama and angst, heartbreaking moments, and a message or two. But I write to entertain. I write so anyone--even those who don't normally pick up historical can easily read one of my books and enjoy it. I write with the slight exaggeration of a Hollywood motion picture, looking to whisk readers away for a while, to add a little glamour and decadence. The characters will still be very real, with very real traumas, troubles, and heartache, but it will be balanced with humor and fun, because personally, who couldn't use a little laughter in their lives? The point is, I know the purpose I'm trying to serve. I know the reasons I write what I write, I know who I write for, and I'm happy with it.

Conclusion to Part 2: Atmosphere is about immersing your readers into the world you're creating not only through accurate detail, but with sights, sounds, and texture. To have readers "see" and "feel" the setting. Use visuals to help you. Movies stills, photography, anything visual that evokes emotion, draw from it. Picture what you want in your mind, how it makes you feel, and slowly translate that to words. Determine who your audience is. Who are you writing for? What do you want to achieve? What kind of story do you want to tell?

Well, I hope you enjoyed Part 2! Stay tuned next week for Part 3: Setting.


Charlie's Guide to Writing Historical Gay Romance - Part 1: Character

Charlies GuideHello and welcome to Part 1 of my guide to writing historical gay romance. As I stated during the introduction, this isn't a definitive guide, just merely how this author goes about writing m/m historicals. Getting your characters right is vital, because no matter how amazing and accurate a world you build for them, if your character doesn't fit in with that world, your believability will suffer, and your readers will have trouble staying immersed.

When creating a historical character, there are many things I take into consideration before I start piecing him together. Before you can start giving him quirks and personality traits, a job or secret crush, there are some very important details you have to work out first.

1. Manner of speech - Where a character was born, where he grew up, and where he ends up will have a profound effect on what he sounds like. If your book is set in Europe, especially Great Britain, your character's speech will be determined by what region and social class he grew up in, unless he moves from one class into another or is self-taught. It is possible a character born and raised in a certain area can teach himself to speak with a posh accent. I know a few folks who've done this. In Britain, there has always been a very profound separation of class, and depending on what part your character is from, there's dialect to consider.

downton_abbey3

Each region carries its own accent, and believe me, each one is very distinct. The slang is different, the phrases they use, names for things, swear words, even the speed at which they talk. If your character is from Manchester, he's not going to talk the same way as a fella from London's East End. And I know it may seem silly, especially to my lovely Brit friends, but not a lot of American folks know that England and Great Britain are not interchangeable. Great Britain (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland) includes Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and many smaller islands, whereas England is part of the United Kingdom, bordering Scotland and Wales. Then there's the British Empire. It wasn't that far back that the British Empire held sway over a huge chunk of the world's population, with colonies and territories from Fiji to Canada. You don't have to research every country and who was under whose administration, but at least be aware, especially so if your character is going to move about.

If your book is set in America, again, there are still social classes to consider, back then even more so than now, and this, along with the region will influence how your character talks. In The Auspicious Troubles of Chance, both Chance and Jacky were raised in New York, though Chance being an orphan and growing up on the streets has a much rougher way of talking than Jacky. He uses a lot of slang, talks faster, swears a hell of a lot more (though that's more part of his charm than anything), and his accent is stronger, whereas Jacky is the opposite. Also because of the time Jacky spent in England, his accent isn't fully American. English phrases, slang, and words occasionally slip into his speech. In A Rose By Any Other Name, the erotes: Julius, Lawry, and Terry, speak properly, but it's something they were taught. Before they began work at The Pantheon, they were prostitutes in the Bowery. They're orphans and grew up on the streets in the worst parts of town. Underneath the high-society primness, there's a completely different layer of speech, which can slip out during certain circumstances. Hawk, from The Amethyst Cat Caper is self-taught. He came from a humble family, but studied for a while at Harvard. To fit in, he taught himself to speak properly. Despite his time working as a Pinkerton, he maintained his manner of speaking though he mixes it up with some street slang. When he gets in a lather, or drunk, he reverts to his old way of talking. Back then, not all children and adults received a school education, so keep that in mind as well.

public enemy cagneyOnce you've decided how you want your character to talk, find a video or sound file of someone from whatever region you've chosen so you get an idea of the accent. If your book is set during a time that has documentaries available, even better. Granted, some of my characters, like P.I. Bruce Shannon, have a somewhat exaggerated way of talking. I doubt most fellas really talked like James Cagney, but my goal was to emulate that slightly over the top, Classic Hollywood movie feel. Depending on the effect I want, I'll watch old movies, documentaries, read books by authors of that time, or memoirs in order to get an idea how folks talked. The point is, research real people. Don't just refer to something you saw in a movie, because let's face it, history through the eyes of Hollywood isn't the most reliable source.

Also, don't forget that slang words and phrases have dates of origin and expiration, and they can also take on different meanings over the years. For instance the word 'queer' in reference to homosexuality wasn't used until the 1920's. Before then, it meant odd. Online Etymology Dictionary is a great place to start if you're unsure whether a certain word was used during a specific period and if it meant the same thing.

2. Mindset - Now this is extremely important. This can make or break your character. Say you've done loads of research. You've gone cross-eyed from the amount of articles and books you've read through to create the perfect setting, and suddenly it all falls apart because your character thinks and acts like today's modern man. Obviously, if you're writing a sort of costume drama, and you want your fellas to hold hands while walking down the street, that's up to you and there's nothing wrong with that. There's room in the genre for all types of historical romances, but if you want a story with historical accuracy, even if there's elements of paranormal, fantasy or sci-fi in it, you MUST research homosexuality in that period AND in that region.

How society viewed homosexuality will have a profound effect on your characters, how they see themselves, how they behave, think, and interact with other characters. It's surprising how drastically things change in the span of a few years. You don't have to know every detail of every era, but you need to research your era and probably the eras surrounding it. I write in the 20's and 30's, mainly in New York. In that one city, in a span of ten years, there was a drastic change in society and how folks viewed homosexuality. Although homophobia and danger was rife in 1920's New York, the 1930's brought new laws and new levels of intolerance. During the 1920's, in Paris and Berlin, gay culture was even more visual and prominent than in places like New York City. The closer we get to WWII, the more frightening things become.

Geroge Chauncey

If you plan on writing a gay historical, I highly recommend you read George Chauncey's Gay New York, Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940.  I know it says New York, but it's a great place to start, because you're aware of how certain things did or didn't happen, which you can then research to find out whether the same went for whatever city you're writing about. Don't make it the only book you read, but certainly pick it up. It's written in an engaging way, lists a great many sources, and refers to actual letters written by gay men of that time. Most importantly, it helps you understand where and when the concept and labeling of 'homosexuality' and 'heterosexuality' came from, and it'll surprise most folks to find that these terms, this division of men is a relatively new one. Depending on when your story takes place, is the label society uses for gay men. Behavior that would be deemed 'queer' in the 1930's, may not have been deemed as such in the 1800's.

Even if you have characters who have come to accept their homosexuality, they're still very aware of what that means to the outside world, and it will reflect in what they do. Depending on the period of history, how they view themselves and their homosexuality will differ. So the first thing you have to ask yourself is, does your character accept what he is? If he does, it's not something that happens overnight. No matter his age, he can't just realize suddenly he's gay and then go out to find true love. The truth is, many gay men throughout history led double lives. At home with their families, at their jobs, with their friends, they were heterosexual, and it was all kept separate from their life in 'gay society'. Many gay men couldn't accept it. They loathed themselves, some believed they were mentally ill, because there was a time when it was considered a mental illness. Some sought to 'cure' themselves, others were sent to be 'cured' by family. Who is your character and how does he feel about being gay? How long did it take him to understand? What did he go through in order to accept it if he did?

Winyan Soo HooThe complexity of gay men throughout history is something you'll have to read up on, because even if I only covered the 1920's and 30's, I'd need several posts just for those ten years, and as I mentioned, it will depend on the era you're writing. No matter how 'open-minded' your character may be, he can't kiss another man out in the open. He can't hold hands with another fella, can't have eye sex, brazenly flirt, and the list goes on. Not without consequences, or if your guy is in a specific environment, like a gay club, and even then it may have to be discreet. In A Rose By Any Other Name, The Pantheon is a secret cabaret for gay men from high-society. Each member has something to lose if they expose another, and as they're all men of wealth with high social standing, they'll do what's necessary to maintain their secret. Inside The Pantheon, men kiss, grope, and do all sorts of naughty things out in the open and in darkened booth because it's a safe environment. There's no danger of being raided, and members are considered through recommendation only, with members being accepted only by the hostess herself. What they do in there, none of them would ever so much as hint to out in the open.

Again, depending on the era, you also have to consider how these gay men view other gay men, because yes, it does differ throughout history. I know this is an overwhelming amount of information, but once you choose your time frame, it narrows things down a lot and makes research so much easier. I chose specifically to write in 1920's and 30's America-- because they're the eras I'm most passionate about, so I only had to go as far back as the late 1800's and as forward as the 1940's to get a clear understanding of things. Sure, I didn't have to, but I wanted to know what led to folks thinking the way they did in the periods I write in, what came before and after. You might ask what the point of all this is. Why go through such lengths? Because aside accuracy, you know what else this does? Minimizes info dump. If your characters think, act, talk, and breath an era long gone, you don't have to write out pages and pages of historical facts. This is where 'show, don't tell' can make a big difference.

Remi suit

3. Fashion - Who your character is, his age, and what social class he's from will reflect in his outward appearance. Hats were a staple pretty much up until the 1950's and early 60's, and gentlemen rarely left the house without one. If your fella is from a humble background, he isn't going to walk around wearing tailored three-piece suits and silk shirts, unless he's getting his money from somewhere else. How much detail you go into is up to you. Personally, I don't go into a great amount of detail unless it's pertinent to the story. In The Amethyst Cat Caper, I pretty much describe everything Remi is wearing because it says a lot about his character and his style. For him, I sought out a signature suit, because of all my fellas, Remi is the most conscious of his appearance. He's the owner of a high-society tea house with swanky patrons, so he must always look his best, whereas with Hawk, it's a black overcoat, black three-piece suit, white shirt, black tie, black shoes, and dark gray felt hat with black ribbon around the crown.

If there isn't a cause for it, like with Remi, I tend to loosely describe a fellas attire. If he's wearing a suit, I tend to mention color, any notable pattern such as pinstripe, color of his tie, and shirt. I might mention various states of undress, if he's sans his suit jacket, maybe just in a vest, sleeves rolled up, depending on what's going on. I assume folks know when I mention a hat--what with a story being in the 1920's or 30's, that I don't mean a baseball cap. If I describe a hat, it'll be either as a felt hat--maybe the color and ribbon color, or flat cap. The point is, you don't need to mention by name every single cross-stitch or item of clothing, especially when you go way back in history and have numerous layers to deal with--unless it's important to the scene or the character. Shoes: brogues, leather, maybe spats or boots. It is, however, important to know what was worn and what wasn't. If you're going to go through a great deal of trouble describing the cut of a character's waistcoat, make sure that cut was actually worn at the time. Gangsters in the 1920's dressed far more flamboyantly than regular folks. Take hairstyles into consideration. Fashion changed drastically after WWI, bringing about the birth of the teenager. It gave us flappers and dapper daddies. Society faced a different kind of war, old world traditions versus new.

Conclusion to Part 1: After you know the type of story you want to tell, what era it takes place in, and your setting, start developing how your character thinks, talks, and behaves. In order to do that, you must be aware of the world around him, what society thinks of him, and what he thinks of himself. Remember society has come a long way, and you can't judge your fellas by today's standards. There have always been bigots, but what is politically incorrect today, may not have been then, what words are taboo today may not have offended then. Words take on different meanings, slang changes. You shouldn't sacrifice authenticity, but certain situations can be handled with care, if you're worried about political correctness.

I hope you enjoyed Part 1. Stay tuned next week for Part 2: Atmosphere. If there's anything I didn't address here that you would like me to discuss, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email. If you want to read about how I develop my characters' personalities, love interests, pasts and such, you can check out this series of posts here.


And Now, A Word From Our Sponsors...

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Work In Progress - Johnnie's Book

I've been making the most out of the fellas and their momentary chattiness. Of course this would happen as I'm trying to get Julius's synopsis done. I swear, they're like a bunch of kids. When I want them to talk, they're all quiet and serene, then the moment one of them starts chatting, they all want to talk at once and be the center of attention. I have Johnnie on somewhat of a schedule and am trying to do less of the hopping around stories, and more of the working on one thing at a time. It worked for Julius's book, and so far *fingers crossed*, it seems to be working for Johnnie.

So I decided to share a scene. Here Johnnie has been behaving like his usual charming self while Chance is getting real tired of his bull and calls him out on it. It's first person POV, Johnnie's obviously. For those who don't know Johnnie, he was in The Auspicious Troubles of Chance as one of the brats, had just turned 19, was a pain in Chance's backside, foulmouthed, loud, and could drive anyone insane. He was also very troubled and reminded Chance too much of himself at that age. Now Johnnie is all grown up, 27 years old, devastatingly handsome, but just as troubled, foulmouthed, and can still drive anyone insane. But especially Chance. I think this scene sums up the dynamics between grown up Johnnie, Chance and Jacky pretty well.

♥♥♥

“What do I keep telling you?” I thought hard for a moment. “Don’t leave the toilet seat up?” “Besides that.” “Which by the way makes no sense. We’re all guys.” There were eight bathrooms in the house. Did he realize how many toilet seats that was to keep track of? What was I, keeper of the bog? I couldn’t be the only one in a house full of fellas who left it up. That was just statistically unsound. “That don’t mean we gotta live like animals.” “When did you become such a dame?” “About the same time you became a real prick.” I merely shrugged the insult off. “Takes one to know one I guess.” Chance came to loom over me, his index finger inches away from my nose. “Now you listen to me you ungrateful little shit. Henry doesn’t need to be on the receiving end of your bullshit. He deserves more respect than that.” “Fuck you.” I swatted his hand away with a growl. He knew how much I hated when he did that, which of course was why he did it. “I know you’re looking for a fight, but I ain’t giving you one.” “Oh? And what the hell would you call this?” “This is me worried about you and you know it.” I let out a resigned sigh, my shoulders slumping. Chance had a habit of making me feel like that lost nineteen year old kid he’d met back in the desert. It seemed like a lifetime ago. “All right then.” He pressed his lips together before giving me a wink and held his arms out. “Come here and give me a hug.” “Lay off.” I tried my hardest not to laugh and reminded myself I was annoyed with him. When I folded my arms over my chest and moved away from him, he gave up and walked over to the wingback chair, taking a seat and looking like the goddamn king of the castle. “You’ll give in one of these days.” I scoffed at that. “Over my dead body.” “That can be arranged all too easily.” “You are unbelievable,” I said, shaking my head at the truly sinister smile on his face. “I know.” “That wasn’t a compliment.” “Wasn’t it? It sure sounded like one to my ears.” “Yeah well, you are screwy in the head.” “I keep hearing compliments.” “Shut up.” I narrowed my eyes at him and shoved my hands in my pockets. Why the hell was I sticking around? Surely it wasn’t because I wanted to. That would really mean it was time for me to get carted off to the loony bin. Chance, however, wasn’t all that concerned about the daggered look I was giving him, as per usual. I, on the other hand, was very concerned about the stupid smile on his face. It meant he was up to something. “Remember what Jacky says, frowns are nothing but upside down smiles.” “Jeepers Creepers, would you just shut the fuck up?” “Glen’s a high-brow, gold-digging grease-ball.” I froze to the spot. So we finally got to the heart of the matter. How did the bastard always manage to get the drop on me? No matter how ready I was to plant a fist in his face, Chance always knew how to burst my temperamental bubble. Damn him. I flopped down onto the couch feeling drained. “I know.” “So why do you keep seeing him?” I shrugged. Sure, I could make up a bunch of baloney, but Chance would see right through it. He always did. “I do.” My gaze shifted up to me his smug one. “Well don’t let me stop you from dazzling me with your brilliance.” He chuckled. “Was I ever such a wiseass?” “What the hell are you talking about? You still are!” “Hm. Anyway, it’s because it’s easy.” “Easy?” Well that was news to me. Glen had to be the most obnoxious Brit I had ever met. “You think putting up with his pain in the ass is easy?” I donned my best prissy accent. “Johnnie do stop slouching. Johnnie take me to London. Johnnie I need a new waistcoat.” Sometimes I just wanted to plant one in his whiny, pasty face. “Easier than risking your heart and the heart of a good man like Henry. Yeah, it’s far easier. I should know.” Damn him and his sound logic. “And here I thought Jacky just kept you around ‘cause you’re pretty.” “Nope.” Chance wriggled his brows. “I happen to be amazing in the sack too.” I groaned. Loudly. “Please shut up.” “I do this thing with my tongue—” “You are a monster!” I jumped to my feet, ignoring his laughter, and started to pace the room. “Good talk.” “Piss off!” My God, how the hell did Jacky put up with him? Speaking of Jacky, when I looked up, he was walking into the room. He came to stand next to Chance who made to give up his seat when Jacky simply put a hand to his shoulder. Jacky smiled widely at me. “Having a heart to heart?” I didn’t reply, merely narrowed my eyes at him. Chance decided to answer for me. “Yep.” “How’s it going?” “Good,” Chance replied, smiling at me. “He hasn’t even taken a swing at me yet.” Jacky’s eyebrows went up. “Really?” He gave a nod and patted Chance on the back. “Impressive.” “There’s still time,” I grumbled, wondering if they had somehow forgotten I was still in the room with them. “I’m wearing him down,” Chance said pleasantly. Jacky seemed pleased. “See? What did I tell you?” “Don’t strangle him?” “And hasn’t that worked out well?” Chance shrugged. “It’s not as fun.” I was standing right there. “You two are unbelievable.” “I know,” Jacky replied with a chuckle. “He’s corrupted you.” I couldn’t help my pout. “I don’t know why you keep him around.” When Jacky’s eyes got that mischievous look, I should have run for the hills. “He’s good in the sack. He does this thing with his tongue—” “Jesus! What is wrong with you two?” I threw my arms up, gagging when Chance leaned up to kiss Jacky. How could two such hardboiled mugs be so squishy and lovey and I think I’m gonna to be sick. “I love you,” Chance purred. Jacky planted a kiss on the tip of Chance’s nose. “I love you too, snugglepup.” “I’m getting out of here before you two make me lose my lunch.” When I walked out, it was to the sound of their infectious laughter, and damn it, if I didn’t end up with a dopey grin on my face. Bastards, the lot of them.

Charlie's Guide to Writing Historical Gay Romance - Introduction

WIP WedsmallHello everyone! Last year I started a series of posts on writing, and now that a new year is upon us, I thought it might be nice to continue it. As I was thinking about what topic to start with, I realized the one thing I haven't covered is a key part of my writing and the source of so many wonderful comments from folks: writing historical romance.

Now this guide isn't the ultimate guide or anything. This is just how I go about writing my historical gay romances. Heaven knows there are amazing authors out there who have been doing this far longer than I have, but if you're interested in how I do it, then hopefully you'll enjoy it.

I know the very idea of writing a historical seems daunting to some folks. Many wonderful authors I know would love to write one, but fear getting it wrong. I won't lie, it's A LOT of hard work, but once you lay the foundation of your research, it gets much easier. Granted, if I was hopping all over the timeline of history, I might drive myself barmy, but as I tend to stick mostly to the 20's and 30's, it does get a little easier for me research-wise.

So this series will consist of 5 parts. They are the following:

Part 1: Character (Creating your character's mindset, fashion, speech patterns) Part 2: Atmosphere (Feel of your historical) Part 3: Setting (Society's mindset, timeline, locations, maps, photos, references) Part 4: Details (Creating believability, reference material, music, furniture) Part 5: Conclusion (Putting it all together)

In this series I'll go over everything from creating character, how they dress, talk, interact with those around them, their speech patterns, handling slang, to creating a world for them in a specific time, how they function within that society and the little details which add believability before summarizing it all up. The above are just some of the topics I'll be covering but there will be plenty more in each post.

Here's the schedule: (Wednesdays)

Part 1: Jan 16th Part 2: Jan 23rd Part 3: Jan 30th Part 4: Feb 6th Part 5: Feb 13th

♥ I'm happy to take questions or requests. If you have something you'd like me to address specifically, please feel free to leave your question or comment here on the blog, on Goodreads, or feel free to email me.

x Charlie


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