Friday, December 13, 2013

In The Hot Seat With H.C. Brown is Author B. Snow + Giveaway.

 Hello! I’m glad to be in the Hot Seat. It’s winter here. :D And may I say, it’s so strange to think this will be posted from Australia. It truly is a small world after all (and if that’s stuck in your head now, you’re welcome.)
Q:  Can you tell our readers a little about your writing? What genres do you enjoy writing?

A: Apparently I like a lot of different genres. I thought I had one story in me, a very long,  pirate historical which still isn’t finished. But the two short stories that I’ve had published are a contemporary and an historical (secondary characters from that pirate novel), and my first novella, which came out on November 29, is a Regency with a touch of paranormal. My current WIPS include contemporaries, one historical (the pirate novel), a contemporary with time travel, a YA, a fairytale-type story, and a collection of stories that include both contemporaries and a few stories set in the 1960s or thereabouts. I doubt I’ll ever write Science Fiction, because I have no scientific or computer knowledge, but I’ve learned not to say “I’ll never”.
Q:  Do you write on a schedule or when the Muse decides?
A. Muse? What muse? :P I do try to write every day, whether I feel like it or not. For awhile it was kind of a mania, writing at least 100 words a day, every day, but I’ve slacked off a bit, and will sometimes go a few days without any new words. That was mostly when I was editing the novella. Damon Suede wrote, “Momentum is hard won and easily lost....Writing crap is better than no writing at all.” He’s absolutely right. And sometimes you’ll be writing what you think is crap and then you’ll see how it works in the story. Or maybe it will have to be cut but it fits another story. I never just delete a section, I’ll always cut and paste it into a separate document.

Q: Can you tell us about your writing process, for example, do you write an outline first?
A: I don’t write a formal outline. Now that I read that, it would probably help….I’ve been trying to write linearly, but I think I need to go back to putting down scenes I see clearly first, even if they can change by the end of the story or be difficult to string together. I like to know where the story is going. I consider myself a plotter and not a pantser, though.
One of these days I’m going to do the thing where I write the synopsis first and the story second – that’s supposed to help you know what you need to include, plus then your synopsis is already done.
Q:  What qualities do you instill in your heroes?
A: Whew. Let’s see….I’m not sure any two of my heroes share the same qualities. Alec in “A Cunning Plan” is withdrawn and depressed, William, my pirate captain is a cheerful rogue, David, my drag queen is flamboyant onstage and mousy off of it. I suppose one thing they all have in common is that they’re decent. Kind. Protective. They’re not always the most confident of men, unless they’re faced with the possibility of a loved one getting hurt. Then they’ll get right up in that. J I have to admit that Tom, my museum curator who travels back in time to Renaissance Italy, is a bit of a dick at the start of the story. But he gets better.

Q. Coffee or tea?
A: Coffee in the morning, the sometimes I progress (regress?) to black tea during the day and herbal tea at night. But what usually happens is I forget I was heating up the tea and I find it in the microwave the next morning.
Q. Beach or countryside?
A: Beach, definitely, even though I don’t sit out in the sun anymore.
Q. Do you write about the places you know or prefer to take your readers to exotic places?
A: I usually stick to places I’ve at least visited. The settings seem to choose themselves. The YA novel is set in a fictional small town in north Georgia, based on a real town that I’ve never been to. Ian, whose hot new housemate definitely isn’t gay, lives in the San Francisco Bay area, which is close to where I went to university. I have two stories that want to take place in New York city, which I’ve visited only twice, so that’s the biggest stretch for me. My story for the Goodreads M/M group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event was set in Portland, where my sister lives. I don’t think I’d try to set a story anywhere I’ve never even visited, with the exception of that small town in GA. But I have been to other small towns in GA. Although I will say that google street view is an amazing tool for finding out what places look like. It’s almost creepy, like being a ghost, maybe, to walk through the streets of a city you aren’t in.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: The pirate story popped into my head from a funny image I got when I was waking up one morning. Sometimes a Call for Submissions will drop a plot bunny into my lap. The idea from the drag queen story came from the director’s commentary on one of the Donald Strachey mysteries—he said every movie should have a drag queen. I tried to think of how to add a drag queen to a story, and the drag queen ended up as the main character. J
Q: Would you change anything in your life to make writing easier.
A: I wish I could concentrate better. When I was younger, I’d read for hours. Now when I try to read or write for a big block of time, I feel compelled to check email, jump on facebook, play a game….I blame the internet. :P I’m hoping I can somehow re-train myself to concentrate.
HC, Me too. The problem is we have to be media savvy. We have to interact with our readers and this takes a lot of time. Posting blogs and promotion takes up more of my time than writing does. It’s something we all need to prioritize I think.
Q: We have all suffered submission rejections. How do you cope? Do you have any advice to other writers on coping with rejection?
A: I’m fairly new at writing, so I haven’t submitted that many stories. And I hope I don’t sound like a jerk or wind up with anyone hating me, but I’ve had only one rejection out of the four things I’ve submitted for publication. I don’t think my stuff is awesomely amazing or unique or well-written, I think I just sent it to the right publisher at the right time.
E-publishers are a gift to writers. You no longer have to write something that will go on a shelf of a mainstream bookstore and has to please everyone who walks into that store. You can write for niche markets, which, granted, will not make you as much money as mass-market, but because they’re e-books, someone across the globe who happens to like what you write can FIND what you write. And there are some pretty niche markets out there. My point is that it might be easier these days to find a publisher who wants your work.
As for rejection: I kind of think that everything I send out will be rejected, so I’m pleased and surprised when it isn’t. The one story of mine that was rejected, well, I expected it to be, so I wasn’t crushed when I got the news. If a story gets rejected, well, take a look at it with fresh eyes, make some changes, and send it out to someone else. That’s what I’m doing with that rejected story, because I think it’s too funny not to see the light somehow.
When you send out your work, the worst an editor or agent can say is “no”. (Actually, the worst thing they can say is that your story sucks and you should quit, which never happens because 1. editors and agents just don’t have the time to let you know why it was rejected, and 2. most editors and agents aren’t dicks. If you ever do get a rejection like that, count yourself lucky that you won’t be working with psychopaths. Plus, you’ll have an awesome story to tell one day when you’re a famous author, and you’ll get to bathe in schadenfreude when that publisher goes under, and they will, if that’s the way they treat people. :D)
I’ve heard that writers have to develop a thick skin. I don’t think I have one, but the rejection didn’t hurt that much – it’s a story about a magical bejewelled codpiece, not exactly normal fare – and less-than-stellar reviews and comments from contest judges don’t upset me that much, either. You can’t please all the people all the time, and some people are just not going to get what you’re trying to say. Of course, if NO one likes what you’re writing, or if NO one gets what you’re trying to say, then you might need another set of eyes on it to figure out why. But keep in mind that “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was rejected multiple times, and Sherrilyn Kenyon was told at the start of her career that no one wanted to read paranormal romances. Also keep in mind that rejections happen for different reasons – that publisher is already planning to release a story with a similar plot/character, that agent’s bio said she’s looking for X, but she’s been swimming in X for the past year and maybe doesn’t like it as much anymore. Yes, it’s possible that your story is crap. But when I told Sandra Chastain* that I was hesitant about going to my first writer’s workshop because I wrote crap, she told me, “Everyone writes crap. Then they revise and learn and get better.” And as Maggie Montgomery** said, you’ve been given those words for a reason. Someone out there needs to read your story.

* one of the founders of Georgia Romance Writers
** winner of Passionate Ink’s 2013 Passionate Plume award for Best Novella
Q: What do you like to read and who are your favourite authors?
A: I don’t read nearly as much as I should. I’m hesitant to read in my own sub-genre, because I’m terrified that I’ll inadvertently plagiarize someone else. I like Amanda Quick; her novels (as AQ and Jayne Ann Krentz) are what got me back into reading romance in the first place. I like Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb. The Harry Potter books are what got me into writing in the first place – what a world JK Rowling created! I just wanted to stay there, which caused me to re-read the books over and over until the last one came out. Agatha Christie—how did she manage to make every single story completely different from all the rest, even the ones with recurring characters like Miss Marple? Stephen King, Jane Austen. I read some Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine until a couple of them scared me so much I had to stop. Now I can’t remember which one it was. But isn’t that good writing?! When you make your readers have to put the book in the freezer for awhile?
Q: Do you write one novel at a time or do you move between works in progress?
A: Gah. I try to work on one novel at a time until the first draft is done, but sometimes I move between WIPs, which is probably why I have such a hard time finishing things. Plus, I hate revising, so when I do finish a first draft, I put it aside for awhile, and then that awhile turns into months or even years. I did write the YA novel for 2012’s NaNoWriMo and didn’t work on anything else until I’d finished the first draft, but usually I jump around to whatever I have an idea for. I’m trying to harness the power of my short attention span, but it’s not really working out.
Q: Do you have times when the Muse is away on holiday?
A: I’m not sure I’ve ever met my muse. About the only time a story leaps into my head is when I’m writing it for fun. My story for “Love Has No Boundaries” practically wrote itself, but I realized after I was finished that it had no real plot. The characters had no goals or motivations, just conflict, and it was told in a series of scenes in which they come together and piss each other off. I couldn’t write a story like that for publication, but it poured out of me.
Another story that is chomping at the bit (I’ll get to you as soon as I finish the current one, I promise!) is one I’m writing for an anthology that will be a fundraiser for Project Fierce in Chicago. They’re trying to provide transitional housing for LGBT youth. I believe it will be out sometime in the spring of 2014. I had so many good ideas for that story when I first started thinking about it. I just hope I can recapture that mojo when I get back to it.
Q. What motivates you to write?
A: I’m a lazy writer, so my motivation is mostly from habit. I don’t have characters hammering on my brain 24 hours a day, but that could be because I need more sleep, and because spending time at the day job tends to drain the story out of my head. I will say that it’s very much a matter of momentum and inertia, like everything else in life. The more I write, the more the characters are in my head all the time, hammering to get out. When I slack off, go a few days without writing, the characters are way off in a field, looking over their shoulders and down their noses at me. “What? NOW you want us to talk to you? Screw you.”
At one point in my life, I thought it would be fun to write romances for a living. That was before I learned how little most writers make. J But I know people who do write
Q. What advice would you give to unpublished authors approaching an e publisher?
A: Just do it! (Please don’t sue me, Nike.) No, seriously, just give it a shot. The first story I sent off was for an anthology from Alyson Books. That was in 2006, before e-books were really a thing, and the anthology was published originally in paperback. I saw the Call for Submissions, had a great idea for a story, wrote it up, had the beta reader who read my fanfic look it over, then I sent it in the day before the deadline, not expecting it to be accepted. It was my first original story, writers get rejections for years before being accepted, etc. etc. One month after the deadline, I got an email from the publisher. I was confused, because the submissions guidelines said they’d contact you only if your work was accepted. When I read the email, I was honestly shocked that the story had been accepted. Maybe constantly expecting rejection isn’t the healthiest way to live, but it keeps me sane. (Although I will be very upset if the pirate story is rejected – it’s jam-packed with adventure, suspense, and sex! How could anyone reject that? :P)
I mean, yes, you have to write the best story you can write, make it as unique as you can, get the manuscript as technically clean as it can be, and have someone look it over before you send it in. And again, what’s the worst they can say? No. (And then that you suck but no time, aren’t dicks, lucky not to work with psychos, shadenfreude, etc.) Then you revise and submit to someone else.
Oh! Speaking of rejections: our local writers group, Georgia Romance Writers, has a contest every year called The Rejection Collection. In January, everyone who wants to enter throws five dollars into the pot. At the December meeting, whoever has collected the most rejections (and I think it can be on more than one story) wins the pot. The point of this game is to encourage people to Send Out Their Work. In GRW, a rejection is considered good news. It means you Sent Out Your Work.
If you want to write as a hobby, that’s fine, no one is going to yell at you. You can post your fanfiction online, and I have to admit, writing unpublishable stories is SO relaxing. No pressure. BUT if you want to be a published author, you have to Send Out Your Work.
Keep in mind, though, that if your story does get accepted, you’ll still have to make changes. My first read-through of the editor’s comments really put my back up. “But I sent in The  Perfect Story; how could she possibly want changes?” On the second read-through, I started to see some of her points. It also occurred to me that our books pay editors’ salaries, so they’re going to want our books to be the absolute best they can be. They’re not trying to sabotage your story or change your voice. They’re there to help you. (Of course, if they say, “The story is great, but we want you to change the love interest from a man to a woman,” or “10th century China is fascinating, but can you make it Steampunk instead?” then you might need to have a serious talk with them. J ALTHOUGH Jayne Ann Krentz says that as long as you know what the heart of your story is, you could theoretically be able to change the setting. Maybe she can do that; I don’t think I’m there yet.)
Q: Is there anything you would like to share with us about upcoming releases?
A: I don’t have any upcoming releases, but I did have my first non-anthology published work come out on November 29. Please see below!
Q: Can you tell us a little about your current novel? What inspired you to write this story?

This story was actually going to be for another publisher’s anthology, but very soon it shot way past the maximum word limit, so I decided to turn it into a novella. “A Cunning Plan” is a Regency with a touch of paranormal. I love the whole “marriage of convenience” plot that works so well in Regencies, and I’d always wanted to try a M/M story set in that period. It’s really hard to say anything else about it without giving away spoilers, but I’ll just say that I tried to give the story a bit of mystery, so that the reader isn’t quite sure what is true until almost the end. I have no idea if I was successful in that or not. J
Alec, Earl of Whittlesey, lives a dull and reclusive existence, rarely mingling with society and, to his mother’s regret, refusing to marry. But his mother and society do not know he harbors a secret: a kind of madness that is driving him to deadly despair.

When Alec meets the commoner Morgan Villenie, he finds the man’s cheer and wit hard to resist, despite his own dark moods. Alec warms to Villenie, but Villenie has secrets of his own. If these two men are ever truly to be together, they must trust each other enough to reveal those secrets—even if they both believe the truth could tear them apart.

Excerpt: Since this site usually discusses erotica, I’ll give you an excerpt of one of the more “intimate” moments between the Alec and Villenie, the man who came up with a plan to solve all of Alec’s problems. Villenie is like no one Alec has met, and he’s not exactly sure if that’s a good thing or not.

Don’t you like it, being this close?” Villenie lowered his head and pressed a kiss just under Alec’s jaw. Alec shuddered. and Villenie went still. “Oh. You don’t.” He moved back, frowning, and let go of Alec’s hands. “I beg your pardon. You’ve stated many times how much you dislike my appearance. Perhaps I’ve been presumptuous to think you would have an iota of desire for—”
Alec seized Villenie’s head and pulled him close to kiss him again. He started when Villenie licked at his lips, and he pulled back, but Villenie caught his jaw.
“Open,” he murmured.
Alec didn’t understand until Villenie moved his lips insistently against Alec’s. Groaning, Alec opened his mouth and allowed Villenie inside. He slid his own tongue over Villenie’s, into Villenie’s mouth, their breaths mingling and warming each other’s lips.
Villenie tasted like ale and the good brown bread they had eaten for dinner. Alec closed his eyes, trying to taste Villenie himself, and then he yelped, breaking the kiss, when cool fingers touched him most familiarly.
“Cold hands, I apologize,” Villenie said, withdrawing his hand from Alec’s trousers, which he had unbuttoned without Alec even noticing. He lifted his hand to his mouth and breathed on it a few times, never taking his eyes from Alec’s. When he reached between them again and closed warmer fingers around Alec’s member, Alec shut his eyes, letting his head fall back against the wall of the coach.
Madness. Everything that Villenie said or did came from a place of madness. So why did Alec listen to him instead of sending him away? Because no one could look into Villenie’s lively brown eyes, feel the full force of his smile, and not agree to whatever the man suggested. The most harebrained ideas sounded sensible and even clever when they came out of Villenie’s perfect, delicious mouth. The perfect, delicious mouth that moved along Alec’s jawline and down his throat.

Buy Link:

Author’s links:
twitter: @BSnow_writer
Thanks so much to HC for this opportunity!
 Those who comment between Dec. 12 and 16, ending at midnight GMT on Dec. 17  and leave their email address will go into a draw for a copy of A Cunning Plan.


  1. I am finding so many great books. I need some GCs for Christmas>>

  2. This sounds like a good book, loved the interview!


  3. Thanks for commenting! I did a coin toss for the drawing and Emily's name came up two times out of thee, so Emily is our winner!

    Thanks for hosting me, HC!