The Last Three J.S. Wayne Books…EVER?

Yes, you read that right. And this may be the hardest post I’ve ever written.

I remember when I made my first foray into erotic romance, WAAAAAAY back in the summer of 2010. At that time I played coy about it, nervous as a newly-minted eighteen-year-old walking into a strip joint for the first time with that same tingle of excitement, embarrassment, and a healthy dose of “God, I hope no one I know sees me in this place!” After a couple of stories, though, I really thought I’d found my niche and decided if I was going to do it, then goddammit I was coming out with guns blazing. And so, in January of 2011, I did.

It seemed like a good time to be a guy in romance…and for a while, it was. The sales weren’t spectacular, but I racked up a number of wonderful reviews and made a pretty solid splash on Twitter. For a time, I really believed I could make it in a world that seemed to be the sole and exclusive domain of women.

Then something happened. I don’t know if it was the ongoing battles with The Publisher Who Must Not Be Named, one too many missed deadlines or promises I failed to deliver on, or just a shift in the reader landscape. Maybe it was too many irons in the fire, too many personal issues, too little time hanging with my readers here and elsewhere. Whatever it was, the reviews dwindled and my books started showing up for free on pirate sites. Soon things reached a grim point where I couldn’t even GIVE my books away, try though I might.

Despite all that, I put a brave face on it and kept moving. After all, everyone experiences ebbs and flows, right? I was determined, I was motivated, and by God I was going to set the romance world aflame.

But…that didn’t happen. The sparks I kicked off originally started a small fire, which faded to coals…then embers…and finally ashes.

This came to me in particularly sharp and savage relief this weekend. I was in Las Vegas to obtain a professional certification for the new job. Once I got the testing out of the way, it left me with the balance of the day to indulge in two activities that I can’t here in Utah: drinking and playing penny keno, both of which I enjoy.

Unfortunately for me, these two activities almost inevitably led to another activity which may or may not be a good thing, depending on the day and the topic: thinking. During the course of the day I thought about where I’ve been and where I’m going, both personally and in the creative sphere. I asked myself what I could have done differently, or better, or at a more propitious time, to achieve a better result. I considered where my place is in the modern romance world, or if I even have one at all at this point. I thought about posting a two-word blog post that said “I QUIT” and just let everyone wonder what happened to Sporky.

However, I was raised to finish what I start, no matter what some in my family might say about my track record in doing so. After a lot of thought, some soul-searching, and even a little prayer (yes, it may surprise some of you to learn I am deeply, albeit unconventionally, religious) I decided that I owed it to my loyal fans and readers to finish what I started.

So, I have decided that, for the time being, there will only be three more books under the J.S. Wayne name. Soulbearer goes to a well-known agent who handles several high-profile authors, including one of my personal favorites, at the end of the week. Likewise Everyday Angels goes to the publisher for final approval and hopefully scheduling for publication on Friday. This leaves only Mindblade, which I will complete over the course of the next several months.

I have my reasons for this decision, and I hope you will believe me when I say I did not arrive at it lightly. However, I also want to make it clear this choice is far from irrevocable. Right now, it all depends upon YOU, gentle reader.

If you’ve enjoyed my work over the last four years; if I’ve made you laugh, cry, think, have fun, or seek out your significant other (or yourself) for an intimate encounter; if you’ve found something, anything of value in my words and the stories I’ve created; then you can turn this around and convince me to change my mind about this. How, you may ask?

First is the most simple: Leave a review. Shoot me an email. Leave a comment on here. Tell me what you liked, what you didn’t like, what you want to see more and less of. I’ve always listened to reader feedback, even if I didn’t necessarily agree.

Second, tell your friends about my work. If you know someone who really loves stories about angels or sci-fi or, hell, any of the other who knows how many genres I’ve dipped into, and you think they might enjoy it, tell them to try it out! Loan them a copy if you can.

That’s it. Two simple things that will determine whether I write anything else beyond what I’ve described here as J.S. Wayne or walk away from romance to seek out other avenues.

Let me know what you think. And yes, silence is just as much an answer as a page-long diatribe.

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

The World’s Weirdest Office

Whew! The last month has really beaten me up. It’s hard to believe that just thirty-four days ago, I was a full-time writer and perfectly content to be there. Since then, I’ve moved from the relative insularity of my command post for world domination (aka my humble home office–meh, the former sounds better) to a much more interesting and extreme office.

You see, my new office is my work truck, which I spend a good 65% of my average day in one way or another. Moving at an average speed of 52 miles per hour (yes, I’ve done the math), I’ve pretty much covered most of Southern Utah and seen some sights that the vast majority of people never will.

What makes my new office so extreme is the fact that I’m constantly on the move. Muscles I hadn’t exercised in years are now being forced to cope with the fact that yes, I’m five years older and yes, we’re going to do this anyway. Lugging around anywhere from 50 to 80 pounds of gear, I’ve had to climb, crawl, and occasionally slog my way to testing sites all over the southern half of the state. Given I’m thirty pounds heavier, this is not an easy feat, but I’m adjusting. Perhaps the most exhausting part of the job is the mental demands it levies: keeping up with myriad pieces of paperwork, working out how to get to Job B without leaving Job A high and dry, making sure the soil, asphalt and concrete samples I take are logged in correctly and in a timely fashion. This is where experience comes in, and outside of writing I have as much experience only in this job and one other.

The financial compensation for the job is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. Especially in a small town in Southern Utah, where the economic picture is cautiously changing but not nearly as frantically as other more optimistic but short-sighted places, I make REALLY, REALLY good money compared with most, and insanely good by the lights of the average college student. However, the best compensation is the views I get from my office and the access I get to places most people can never see. One example of this is this picture, which I took from the Ski Patrol overlook at Brian Head, UT. In case you’re curious, the elevation at which I took this picture is 11,000 feet:

0711141329Now, the obvious question is, what was I doing at Brian Head?

On this particular day, I was waiting for concrete trucks. Funny: I had never given any serious thought to what goes into building a ski lift. If I’d thought about it, I would have realized that just about any erection that sticks more than six feet in the air has concrete involved. However, since ski lifts are not a normal part of my daily life and never have been (I don’t ski. Sonny Bono, hello!?!) it never occurred to me to give them much consideration. However, pouring the foundations for them has given me a new appreciation for how much work goes into the science of fun, to say nothing of the work involved in pouring on a nearly vertical slope as opposed to the relatively flat ground I’ve become accustomed to. And operating over two miles above sea level? Good God, I thought I was going to have a stroke a couple of times!

While I was in a holding pattern waiting for the next mud truck, I noticed this little pond. I’d driven by it several times in the previous days, but had a perfect chance to take a picture. What does this pond do? I’m guessing it’s an artificial detention basin. What’s its purpose? Aside from holding water, I don’t know and truthfully don’t care. As the Polish proverb making the rounds on Facebook has it, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I just knew it looked pretty, with the pines all around and the reflections of the fat, fluffy clouds shimmering in its mirror-still surface. So, click!

Not all my jobs are so picturesque. Take for example a field trip I took to the Back of Beyond just today. On the way to the testing site, the red dirt and gravel road made a jarring contrast to the more muted greens and browns of the desert grasses and trees. The sun shone through a light, thin haze of clouds, casting a warm brassy light over the scene. I toodled along my way, occasionally raising two fingers in salute at the rare vehicle in the other lane. (Only one failed to return the greeting; for all their faults, Utahns tend to be very friendly people.)

I located the turnoff to the site and promptly found myself on an only slightly less well-maintained gravel road, which I followed for what felt like hours and my odometer claims was less than three miles. As I drove, I scanned the metal gates I passed looking for a white rag, the sign the client had left to assure me I was in the right place. Finally I located the gate, which was closed, and hopped out of the truck to muscle it open. This, in turn, startled the flock of sheep who had been grazing placidly on the other side, and they turned almost as a single unit and loped away into the trees. I smiled, relieved I wouldn’t have to explain to some sheep rancher with an itchy trigger finger how his prize Rambouillets got out of his pasture. (I guess they were probably Rambouillets, anyway; I barely know a sheep from a mountain goat, never mind being able to pick out individual breeds.)

The moment I got to the site, however, things got a lot more interesting and less placid. Steel-gray clouds scudding menacingly over the treetops like the inevitable harbingers of an alien invasion, accompanied by menacing rumbles of thunder. I hurried to get my nuclear density gauge and the ancillary gear together, hoping to take my tests and be gone before the weather closed in.

As it happened, I was not so lucky. Large drops of rain began to pelt my head, my arms, and least fortunate of all, the paper on which I was recording the readings I had taken. Worse, the thunder grew even louder, and through the trees I could see flashes of lightning. This made me especially nervous because I once saw a ginny hopper (the name for the person who works beside a scraper making sure the grading indicators are visible) get struck by lightning. The bolt arced off the blade of the scraper and nailed him. I still recall this happened on a Thursday. The guy was back and good to go on Monday morning. Tough mother; I’d’ve taken a solid week off after that if it’d been me.

So I finished my tests as quickly as professional ethics and thoroughness would allow and raced for the shelter of the truck. After securing my gear, I pulled off the site and started back down the road toward town, some forty miles away.

In just a few minutes’ time, the weather had gone from cautiously benign to deeply menacing. The quaking aspens, which had reflected the sun’s glow back so cheerfully only a quarter hour prior, now reminded me of white-robed mourners at a Wiccan funeral in the dingy gray pall cast by the clouds and rain. Some of the darker faerie tales I’ve read came to mind, and I found myself unconsciously scanning the sides of the road with a little extra caution lest I should find myself confronted with something miraculous or diabolical. Ichabod Crane, skinwalkers, and other even less cheerful tales capered and cavorted in my mind, seeming to peer out at me from the trees.

The gravel road that had given such excellent purchase now swelled under the kiss of the water like a lover responding to the ministrations of someone who knows her body as well as her own, revealing something I knew at a glance when I first saw it: the dirt was actually clay, which can be very slick and treacherous to drive on when it gets wet. The rain was coming down so hard it cut rivulets, tracks and pools in the road, making the going even more tricky. The wind gusted, abusing my pickup with wheezing fists. When this failed to slow my old but still game truck, the hail began. From stones the size of peas to a couple of overachievers the diameter of dimes, they rattled against the roof of the truck like gunfire from above, making it all but impossible to think, never mind hear anything but the infernal racket of fast-moving bits of ice striking metal.

And then it happened. A gust caught the tail end of my truck at exactly the wrong moment. I fishtailed once, twice, three times, fighting the wheel desperately to prevent a slide. A moment later I came to rest on the margin of the road, where large vehicles and time have not compacted and bonded the earth to itself as happens on gravel roads. I growled something that would make my boss’s ears bleed if he’d been present and kicked the truck into low gear, romping on the pedal as I did so.

No good. I was stuck. I put it in reverse. Same as. Now the hail was coming down in earnest and I thought nervously of the scraper behind me, planing the road into corduroy as a form of repair from the ravages of the winter. I seesawed the shifter back and forth, from reverse to low and back again. Every move seemed only to get me more stuck.

A red Jeep Cherokee turned onto the road, moving slowly and cautiously. Even so, they nearly clipped the two-point buck which bounded over the barbed-wire fence just past the roadway, took three graceful leaps, and cleared the plain wire fence on the other side. Only luck and the fact they were driving carefully spared them. Just beyond this incident, of course, was me, stuck in my truck miles from help in a hailstorm with a piece of heavy equipment coming up behind me and nowhere to go.

He rolled down his window and shouted, “Are you okay?”

I wasn’t, but I still offered a slightly surly thumbs-up.

“Are you stuck?”

Yes! I wanted to scream. “Yeah,” I mumbled, nodding just enough to make sure he got the point.

“If you have something to pull you, we can get you out!” I think he yelled. (I say I think because the racket of the hail had now escalated to a full-scale assault on my eardrums.)

I shook my head. “I’ll be okay in a minute. Just need to wait for this to go away!” I called back.

He nodded skeptically. “Okay!” he called. Kicking his vehicle into drive, he departed at a stately pace.

A moment later I managed to catch onto something. Maybe it was a chunk of rock, a dry patch of non-clay material that my previous struggles had exposed, or a particularly robust tree root. Either way, a little more rock and roll with the shifter got me skidding across the road and safely out of harm’s way. My pulse thudding and my cheeks flaming with embarrassment, I turned up my smooth jazz playlist and putted away from the scene at a measly 15mph.

Now, sitting here, the same storm I met up with almost four hours ago is back for a return engagement, howling through the trees like a bean’sidhe and glowering down at the town. I’m safe and warm in my house, drinking a beer and talking with you fine folks. All’s well that ends well, so they say…and frustrating as my office can be sometimes, it sure as hell ain’t dull!

So, I’m curious: What’s the weirdest or coolest thing that’s ever happened to you in YOUR office? Leave a comment and tell all! ;)

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Crossroads

I should be in bed right now. Like, RIGHT right now. You see, I’m supposed to be up in three hours to get ready for a concrete pour that some bright spark scheduled for a time of day I usually associate with hangings and other unpleasant and unhealthy activities. So, naturally, I couldn’t sleep. Might as well be working before I go to work. *facepalm*

On the upside, I’m listening to the signed CD of the Steph Johnson Trio I picked up at Groovefest this weekend and which I’m just now getting the chance to listen to all the way through for the first time. It’s called Nature Girl, and is probably one of the best jazz albums I’ve ever listened to as a whole leaving aside Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis. Her voice reminds me of Amy Winehouse, only more mature, or maybe Minga, and her backing musicians are top-notch jazz players. The lyrics are excellent: simple, meaningful, and universally relatable, as all the best lyrics are. Although she was clearly tired, having been up all night to get to Cedar City for the show, she was very sweet and sunny when I approached her after her set about picking up her CD. If I wasn’t listening to it right now, I’d post a pic of it.

Maybe next time.  :)

In other news, Dusk: Tides of Astaroth comes out Thursday from Changeling Press, just in time for the Fourth of July weekend.  I confess to a certain amount of perplexity, because it feels like Darkness Rising just came out and now I’m gearing up for another release.  I’m not complaining, mind you: this is more of a commentary on the extremely subjective nature of time. Finish the book and hit send. Blink and you’re in edits. Turn around for a second, and the thing’s about to hit the public eye. It’s good to finally have the whole story out there, so those who have been waiting to see how the cliffhanger at the end of Darkness Rising resolved itself get their chance at long last. And, of course, there’s the beautiful cover from Renee George!

JSW_Dusk3_large

Having been pretty much consumed with the Dusk project for the last half a year, I look back and I’m not at all sure where the time went. I’ve launched two new projects, gotten through another semester of college, and started a new job, but MAN! has it been frantic running. Book signings, Litfest, administrative and volunteer duties…I honestly don’t know how people like Jim Butcher do it. Just thinking of everything I’ve accomplished this year under the press of a schedule that would send a lot of people scrambling for a dark, quiet place to lay down wears me out!

This leads me to a more serious announcement, but I feel like some explanation is in order before I get to it.

Over the last several months, I’ve noticed a growing sense of, I suppose you could call it unease. A big part of this has been financial, because fiction writing and freelancing certainly aren’t making the kind of money required to keep a household going right now. (Much of this relates to my unwillingness to expend the kind of time necessary to chase larger clients on the bigger freelancing sites. My work is pretty reasonable, but I can’t afford to give it away on a slim chance that out of twenty or thirty freelancers, someone will be willing to give me a chance.)

More of it is just a sense that maybe I’m losing my way. It’s easy to get frustrated and question the wisdom of engaging in an activity whose ROI after nearly five years isn’t anything like what one would reasonably expect. Couple that with the fact that since September of 2013 I have released six works and started four more, not counting academic papers, and I look back with a sense of satisfaction…but also a lot of weariness. It’s not burnout, exactly. I know what burnout feels and looks like, and this isn’t it. I’m still excited about my projects and I still believe in them, and myself. I still think I have something of value to say and something unique to bring to the table. But when I think of all the things I have on my plate, the idea of vegging on the couch starts to sound really good, really fast.

Another big slice of the problem is a recently discovered feeling of being in a box. I dislike this feeling intensely, because I never wanted to be a “_____” author. I still love erotica, erotic romance, and romance in general…but I think maybe it’s time to start expanding my horizons again before I get caught up in something whose gravity I can never escape.

Black Hole

All this, coupled with personal and professional hiccups, jags and derailments, has left me at a crossroads where I need to decide just which direction I’m going. There are a lot of options, but only one solution that seems to address all the issues I’m having at the moment.

Crossroads At Night In Winter

This is not a pity party, and if I’ve left anyone with that impression, I apologize. Blame it on too little sleep and the time being way too early in the morning. But I felt some explanation was in order before I drop this bombshell on you, gentle reader, so you understand where I’m coming from.

As from today, I have one project to clear off my desk. That project is Everyday Angels, which I expect to have done and publication-ready save for some minor publisher-level edits this weekend. Once that’s done, I have decided to take a one-year sabbatical from publishing. Notice I do not say “from writing.” I couldn’t give up writing any more than I could give up breathing. However, I think the time has come to take a pause and look at the market trends, what more successful authors are doing that I’m not, and generally rediscover myself and writing for the sheer hell of it rather than to meet a publication deadline.

See, here’s the thing, and I just realized how to put it into words while I paused for a cigarette: Writing is about life. You have to LIVE in order to have anything worth writing about, and the last little while I’ve felt like I’m observing life rather than living it. That’s a dangerous headspace for a writer to be in, because there’s no inspiration there. Listening to smooth jazz and seeing what other writers do is all very fine and good, but saying something original requires first doing something original.  If you’re not living your life, then what can you possibly have to say? This is the quandary I’ve been fighting with for a while now, without ever really knowing how to explain it until now. Guess there’s something to be said for late-night inspiration after all.

And, fear not…I’ll still be around the bar, commenting on things that interest, irritate and infuriate me. I’ll also be working hard to bring new stories to the table for when I return. And I’ll still be reachable here or through my email and the usual social media channels, although my time may be somewhat restricted until I get back into the swing of balancing writing, school and working full-time.

In the meantime, I wish you all happy reading, joy, and lots of love. Just because I’m taking a little time to do me doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about YOU! :)

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Where’s Sporky?

A friend of mine hit me up on email last night, concerned because she hadn’t seen me around on the usual social media haunts or posting here at the bar. After reassuring her I wasn’t lying somewhere in a coma/abducted by aliens/locked up as a result of an unfortunate misunderstanding with law enforcement/dead, I realized I should probably stick my nose in and let everyone know what’s been going on that’s kept me away the last couple of weeks since the Barnes & Noble signing!

IMG_0199

Upon my return from Vegas I got very busy, very fast. (And for those who keep tabs, you’ll know that’s saying something coming from me!) A friend of mine informed me a job opening had just come up in anticipation of a busy summer at a local geotechnical consulting firm. As I have five years’ experience in that field, he strongly suggested I go by and interview. I went in that Wednesday morning and was in my friend’s truck for a refresher course in site inspection that afternoon. Considering the dire financial straits I’ve been in for the last couple of months, this couldn’t have come at a better time, but like every other blessing it comes with a price, namely my time. Hence my lack of presence on the web of late.

In other news, Cedar City is gearing up for GrooveFest 2014, part of which is LitFest, which I helped organize. I’ll be presenting “Redshift,” one of my poems, at the event while sharing the stage with some excellent poets, including Utah’s Poet Laureate, Lance Larsen. Afterward there will be a meet-and-greet, where I’m hoping to sell a few paperback copies of Dusk!

GrooveFest2014 Banner

Meanwhile, Dusk: Tides of Astaroth is set to release on July 3rd from Changeling Press. I’m excited about this, because I’m eager to see this first story arc concluded so I can move on to the next. My work on Mindblade of late has mostly consisted of scrawling down some skeletal scenes and a few quippy one-liners I intend to incorporate the next time I get a decent amount of time to sit down at the computer uninterrupted. When that will be, who knows, but I’m hoping after GrooveFest things will relax a little and I’ll have a bit more structure in my daily and weekly routine.

For fans of my Angels, they’re very much on my mind of late. I’m deep in final edits for Soulbearer, which incorporates all the material previously released as “Angels Would Fall,” “Angel of the Morning,” and Angels Cry plus a large amount of extra material that I had originally intended to put out as the sequel to Angels Cry, Angel of Death. The result is a full-length novel that tells the story of what happened to Azrael after the events of Angels Cry and just how far he’s willing to go to avenge himself upon his wayward, erstwhile lieutenant. I have yet to set a release date, because I have a ton of work to do still, including cover art and initial promotion, before it’s even close to ready. Stay tuned for deets!

Also, my werewolf fans are about to get a bone thrown their way as well! (*raises eyebrow* Yes, I meant that in the PG sense, but if you insist on wallowing in the gutter, far be it from me to stop you. C’mon in, the water’s fine!) I’m working on the final 5k words of “Silver and Air,” which was intended as the sequel to “Dancing On Flames.”

What am I going to do with The Wildsworn, you ask? Well, I’ve been looking at a bunch of my orphan stories and trying to figure out how best to do something with them. “Ancient Magic” is still very much a perennial request, even though it’s out of print, and in considering how best to proceed, I decided to roll together some of my favorite stories into one omnibus volume. After some intensive re-editing and tweaking, I hope to have the whole thing ready to go to market by the end of the summer, incorporating a couple of M/F stories, two M/M stories (the Wildsworn, naturally), and two F/F stories into the mix. I’m still working on a title for this one, but I’m willing to entertain suggestions. Put in a comment and tell me what you think!

Just to add to the fun, I also have Tripping Over Someone Else’s Shoelaces, my first attempt at a literary novel, to complete and Everyday Angels, the second anthology for WOCA, to finish putting together. The good news is Everyday Angels is largely done. I just have a little bit of work to do on the cover art before I put the whole thing together and send it off to press. With a little luck it will be out by the end of August as well. This is going to be an interesting one, because the focus is shifting away from child sexual abuse and zeroing in more on mental and physical abuse. Of course I’ll have a story in there as well, “.271,” about a baseball player coming to grips with the death of his father and the realization that he doesn’t have to be what he was told all his life he must be, but we’ve got a really great lineup of stories from some truly excellent authors who’ve all been extremely kind and patient with me and my unpredictable schedule for far too long. Expect another update on Everyday Angels within the next two weeks!

So where does this leave me for the moment? As usual, short on sleep and far too busy to be consistent with good mental health, but hey, writers are a crazy lot to begin with. With so many great things on the horizon and so much exciting work on my plate, I’m anxious to get on with it and start making things happen. If I’m not around as much as I should be, I apologize…but I promise my silence will be well worth the wait!

Thank you, dear reader, for coming by. I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Away For The Weekend!

As I write this I am scheduled to leave in somewhat less than 9 hours for Las Vegas, Nevada and the 2014 Romance Novel Convention Pre-Convention Book Signing!  I’m sure you can imagine I’m really excited, a little nervous, and slightly anxious all at the same time, as this will be the second major author event I’ve been a part of and the fourth such event I’ve attended.

Sitting here, I asked myself, “How do I explain to the random strangers who will certainly happen by my table how a straight male came to write romance?” It’s one thing to bare your soul with a monitor and God knows how many zillion miles of Internet between you and whoever’s on the other end. It’s something else again to have someone staring you down, waiting for an answer.

The answer that occurred to me is so simple and so elegant that it took my breath away. Subtract all the bluff and bluster of the last several years. Strip away the unfortunate political overtones that any acknowledgment of gender invariably creates and the assumptions that follow them around like lost puppies. It’s so bloody simple, at the end of the day, that few people who don’t know me will believe it’s real. And yet it’s the fundamental base for everything I do in the romance and erotica genres.

The question that started me reading and writing romance has actually been posed a billion times over the course of human history, perhaps most notoriously by Sigmund Freud.

What do women want?

mel gibson
Yeah, no, seriously: Mel Gibson was NOT the first guy to ask that question. Shocker, right?

 

After some years, 20 releases, and a hatful of romance novels in every conceivable subgenre, I realize in a lot of ways I’m still pretty clueless about what women want. Do they really dream of being carried away by a Highland Scotsman wearing nothing but a kilt and a menacing scowl? Ravished by a pirate captain? A diamond-in-the-rough biker, a coarse but boyish baseball player, a tough but tender billionaire?

highlander

No, not really.

I mean, sure, there’s a lot to be said for a man who makes his own rules and lives by them, and to hell with everything that stands in his way. Of course the financial security of being with a billionaire is a fantasy pretty much universally shared by men and women, especially in this roller-coaster economy we’re slogging our way through. But very few modern women want to be raped or owned in the “classical” romance manner, and the modern literature shows this over and over again.

What women want is just as basic. They want to be seen for everything they are, and loved for everything they’re not just as much as what they are. It’s fine to see a pretty girl near a college campus who looks like a beer calendar model and remark upon her beauty, but is it just possible that behind that amazing rack and that luscious ass is a woman who’s working two jobs, subsisting on three hours’ sleep a night and catnaps, and pulls down a 3.8 while taking Honors classes and being an active part of student government?

image courtesy Eddy Van 3000 via Creative Commons
And they’ll kick your ass at Jeopardy, algebra, and Tae Kwon Do, too!

Unfortunately, we don’t see that as a society, and that’s where the modern romance hero has it right. He can be a blithering idiot upon first meeting, even a complete asshat. What he cannot and must not be is irredeemably Neanderthalic. Before he can truly have the heroine, he must first see her as greater than the sum of her parts and not an aesthetically pleasing conglomeration of secondary sex characteristics for his own pleasure. He must see her the way society demands we see men: as a complete, discrete individual in her own right, with desires and goals beyond being a baby factory or a bedroom slave.

Now, if the woman aspires ONLY to be these things, that’s certainly her choice and good on her for knowing what she wants. By the standards of many modern feminists, she is a traitor to her gender, to her body, and to the millions of women who suffer under the figurative or literal lash of patriarchal repression. The problem is that such a viewpoint by definition ignores her basic, God- or Goddess-given right to choose not to uphold a particular rhetoric.

Generally speaking, this particular woman is rarely to be found in the pages of romance. There is a reason for that, and it’s so stupidly simple people overlook it.

Much has been made of who’s reading and writing romance in the last forty years. There are a number of snide stereotypes assigned to the genre that fit just enough to draw a grudging admission there might be some truth to them, but these stereotypes are not the be-all, end-all. A woman doesn’t necessarily want a man to step in and take charge of her life and body, certain he knows better than she herself what she desires and needs.

What she does want is a man who is capable of recognizing those moments when she chooses to surrender control and take it, but who is willing to relinquish control once her need to let go has been satisfied. Now, granted, this does not apply to every woman in every circumstance. I am painting with a very broad brush and pure intentions here.  This expression of surrender does not automatically mean weakness, nor does it necessarily equate to submission. But, let’s be honest here: There are times when you want to ride him like a champion Thoroughbred in the Kentucky Derby, and times when you want him to throw you on the bed and have his way with you, isn’t that right, ladies? Soft touches, kisses, that agonizing slow build…all of these have their place, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for getting right down to it and to hell with foreplay, manners or gentleness. Just fuck me, already!

"Are you sure about this?" "Look, I said it's fine. Now lose the fig leaf and use that thing on me already!"
“Are you sure about this?”
“Look, I said it’s fine. Now lose the fig leaf and use that thing on me already!”

Guys have a version of this too. We don’t always want to be the initiator. (I use that word instead of “aggressor” for a number of reasons, not least of which is the unfortunate connotations associated with it. God forbid I should give any appearance of condoning rape under any circumstances or in any gender combination.) Sometimes we want to be seduced as well, even if most guys don’t know how to ask for it or would rather have our tongues ripped out with dull kitchen shears than admit it. Our collective problem as a species is that men are generally woefully ill-equipped to say, “I want you to take me tonight. I want you to use me for your pleasure.” It simply never occurs to us to string those words together that way and be honest about what we want. (I say “never” advisedly and in full admission this is a stereotype that does not apply to every man, anymore than every woman really wants a Highlander.)

This is why I started reading romance: I wanted to know what women want. In doing so, I had to start overcoming three decades of societal and social programming about what guys do and don’t do. I also had to start thinking for myself, something that has never been a problem for me but that needed a certain amount of direction. Inevitably, I wanted to see if I had the chops to write it.

Four years after my first story got published, the response seems to be a resounding “Yes!” Whether I’ll keep that or not depends entirely on how sympathetic I continue to be to my female readers and how well my own personal vision of “What women want” tallies with that posited by the flesh-and-blood women for whom my work is mostly intended.

However, as a parting shot, I say this to any guys who might be reading this post and thinking I’m crazy: Try reading what your woman is reading. See if you can find a commonality. It’s just possible she wants something from you that you could give her so easily, without having to live at the gym or take a bullet for her, but that you’re overlooking. If you find that commonality, then it’s up to you to try to fulfill that fantasy for her. Trust me when I say the sexiest thing you can do for a woman, more than giving her diamonds or a new car or a chocolate fountain that never runs empty, is to try to understand her from the inside, from the heart and soul, out.

Try it, and then tell me how it worked out. If you’re not more in love with her than ever and vice versa, then something’s very, very amiss. However, if you suddenly find yourself understanding her on a level you never thought possible and feeling more like “her man” than you have since the first time you made love to her…

Well, then, you’re welcome.

And with that, I’m going to call it a night. 6am comes early, and tomorrow I and my fellow authors invade Sin City!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Dusk Front Cover Final Paperback

Dusk In Paperback, Book Signings, and MUCH More!

The month of May passed in a relative eyeblink as your friendly neighborhood spork-wielding maniac got some new goodies together for your reading pleasure! Most of the last couple of weeks has been spent getting the paperback edition of Dusk ready for public consumption, which meant Crystal Esau and Patricia Lynch Sager of Changeling Press were extra busy helping me smooth out the rough spots in Tides of Astaroth. Darkness Rising released on Thursday, and I’m pleased to say I’ve already seen some great reader response for that, so things are definitely looking up in my neighborhood!

JSW_Dusk_Darkness_large(1)
Click here to go to the buy page at Changeling Press!

After some feedback from people who saw the original paperback cover I created, a local cover artist, Rebecca Freeman, stepped in and produced this for me!

Dusk Front Cover Final Paperback

You can imagine my surprise when I found that CreateSpace had already gotten the paperback edition of Dusk out to major distribution channels, including Barnes & Noble. That took a major load off my mind, and made it easier for me to make this next announcement!

On Saturday, June 7th and Sunday, June 8th, I’ll be at the Northwest Barnes & Noble in Las Vegas signing copies of Dusk and Seductress  while hanging out with cover model Jimmy Thomas, fellow erotic romance author Angela Aaron, and New York Times-Bestselling author Sharon Hamilton among others! The signing is from 1-5 both days, and I’m looking forward to getting to meet these fabulous authors and talking with readers, so this is going to be a really fun time. (And I’m planning to bring some candy, so if you see me at the table, don’t be shy!)

Also, as of now I’m scheduled to be taking part in a book signing at Main Street Books in Cedar City on June 24th as part of LitFest 2014. We’ve got some great poets coming out, including Utah’s Poet Laureate Lance Larsen and David Baxley, so if you’re in the area and want to check out some poetry, come on by!

If you can’t make it to Vegas, but want a signed copy, shoot me an email at jswayne702@gmail.com for ordering information. What I need is your name, mailing address, and any inscription you’d like me to include. Paperback editions are available for $14.97 plus $2.99 shipping for regular delivery or $5.99 for 2-day priority delivery.  Right now I’m expecting my first delivery by close of business tomorrow, at which time I’ll be posting pictures of “My Preshussssssss” for your viewing pleasure!

Thinking of “My Preshussssss:” In the middle of everything else, Skin Game, the latest Dresden Files novel from Jim Butcher, dropped. I’ve been waiting for this for six freaking months, so as soon as I found a copy in Cedar City I dropped absolutely everything. (A new Dresden Files novel is about the ONLY thing I stop the world for!) And I’ve got to say, to borrow the words of Chuck Wendig:

HOLY GOATFUCKER SHITBOMB!

I’m not going to say any more than that, for fear of giving away spoilers, but if you want to see the trailer, which has spoilers a-plenty, go check out Jim Butcher’s website for the link! In the meantime I can and WILL tell you that this latest installment in the Dresden Files is a solid 12 stars on a scale of 1-5. Plenty of laughs, all the violence you could ask for, and even a couple of “No, I’m not crying…I just have something in my eye!” moments proved once again why Jim Butcher is hands down my favorite author currently and why I tell everyone who’s never read him that they are missing out!

In the meantime, I still have miles to go before I sleep, so I’m going to wish you all a fond goodnight and hope you’ll come by tomorrow for the reveal of the shiny new paperback versions of Dusk!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Sometimes I even amaze myself…

Book covers are a scary, scary thing. Ask anyone who doesn’t make them as part of their living. Most authors I know blanch at the very idea of having to come up with cover art for their books, preferring to leave it to the professionals.

However, necessity, as they say, is a mother.

When I was asked to attend a book signing hosted by none other than Jimmy Thomas, I found myself confronted with a number of problems. What was I going to bring to sign? What’s that…I don’t HAVE anything to sign, other than a couple of print books I’ve never been able to get rid of?? What to do about cover art? I need to have all this done WHEN?

Okay, well, I had plans to put Dusk into print anyway, since I retained those rights by virtue of contract. Guess I’d better get moving. Now the money thing…

Now, listen, I’m all about faking it until you make it. On the other hand, there’s not a print book supplier out there who wants to hear about how you’re going to be huge some day. Try it once, if you don’t believe me. Be sure to let them know you don’t have any jack right now, but you’ll be glad to pay them once you break the NYT. After they get done laughing themselves sick and tell you to get the fuck out and come back when your broke ass has some money, you’ll see what I’m talking about. So scraping together the jack to be able to go on this little adventure became a priority.

Another thing I know about the publishing industry: they’re not big on licensing things for free that they had to pay for. As a result, I couldn’t use the proprietary cover art. Okay, not a big deal…until I went to look at what top-shelf, well-known cover artists charge for their work. It starts at fifty bones and quickly runs all the way up to utter madness. Granted, the results are worth it, but when the contents of your pockets consist of half a pack of cigarettes, a Certs wrapper, and some lint, might as well be on the moon for all the good it does you, never mind the turnaround time. Conclusion: That’s not going to work.

So I bit the bullet and tried it for myself.

Apparently I get a little cranky when dealing with certain programs that don’t behave the way they’re supposed to. A case in point is GIMP, which a number of people have told me is the best freeware image manipulation software out there. I actually worked with GIMP a little in a college course last year (which reminds me…more on that in a moment), but the activities were so tedious and the instructions so dry they pretty much went in one ear and out the other. Net result: I basically went into this innocent as a newborn babe and with only the vaguest idea of what the hell was going on. This, in turn, led to a look that my girlfriend apparently recognizes from previous encounters and which sent her fleeing for the safety of the 90% of the house I was not occupying at the time.

The first day’s results were…aight. (Yes, I’m well aware this is horrible grammar. No, I don’t care. There’s no better word to sum up how the first draft came out.) It wasn’t exactly horrible, but there was a lot of cleanup that needed to be done. Even so, it gave me a little boost of confidence that I could actually do this and make it look okay.

So today I got up and tended to a couple of housekeeping matters, and then started in again, this time working from a blank template. I had all the elements, having already put them all together yesterday from old pictures I had lying around on my hard drive from places I’d been. All that remained was putting them together into something semi-cohesive and that looked better than the first effort. (Not that THAT would have been hard, mind you…)

To my surprise, the second round was MUCH easier. I already had the basic visual in mind, one that would be safe for people to read on the bus without skimping on the wonderful, dirty, nasty sex I so enjoy writing. I also wanted a cover that would appeal to the sci-fi and fantasy types as much as the romance fan, no easy task when your topical matter is menage. In the interest of straddling these worlds, I kept it basic…

…and wound up surprising even myself. So, without further ado, here’s the cover for the print version of Dusk, created by none other than yours truly!

Cover art Copyright 2014 by J.S. Wayne. All rights reserved.
Cover art Copyright 2014 by J.S. Wayne. All rights reserved.

With that out of the way, all that remains are the final edits for Tides of Astaroth, which I’m expecting any second now. The interior files are already prepped except for what remains in the editing grinder, so as soon as I get the final edits done I can pop them into the file and put it through CreateSpace. It’s going to be tight on time, but this isn’t the first time I’ve overcome a harsh deadline, so I’m not overly worried about it. I feel pretty confident in saying you can expect to be able to order print copies of Dusk by June 7th, so be sure to mark your calendars! In the meantime, if anything goes sideways, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Was there a point to all this? Why yes, yes there was. The point is that sometimes you’ve got to try something new, something no one, not even YOU, give yourself a hope in hell of carrying off. When you do, you might even surprise yourself. Whether it’s cover art, that new genre you’ve wanted to tackle but didn’t know how, or whatever, the first step to doing it is to, uh, DO IT! :D

In other news: the final grades for the semester posted. I opened them, feeling more than slightly worried. I knew I’d done well, but I always worry about how everything’s going to come out in the wash. As it turns out, my worry was groundless: I pulled a 3.94 for the semester, and a 3.72 overall, up from a 3.65. This just goes to show what hard work, commitment, no social life and taking your business seriously can get you. I’m aiming for a 4.0 next semester, but if I “only” pull a 3.94 again, I’d be kind of okay with that. :D

Of course, if you’re in the Las Vegas area on June 7th or 8th, stop by the Barnes & Noble on North Rainbow Boulevard. I, Angela Aaron, Jimmy Thomas, and a number of other excellent authors will be there, signing books and hanging out! And Darkness Rising is scheduled to release on May 29th, so don’t forget to check that out when it comes available. I see I missed a scheduled live chat, due to a faulty calendar addition by ME, but I’m trying to get that rectified. I might even throw a Facebook launch party. Stay tuned for updates!

In the meantime, I’m off, y’all. It’s been a long day…but a rewarding one.

Ciao for now!

Until next time,

Best,

J.S. Wayne

Musings, Ramblings, and Rants

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