It's been awhile since we just talked about stuff. I'm now setting aside at least one day of the month to ramble at you and hope you ramble back!
Fall is probably my favorite season, because it means sweater weather, crackling fires, and brilliant sunshine interspersed with cozy rainy days where the best thing is curling up under blankets on the couch with a good story to read or listen to, along with great big mugs of cocoa or tea.
To prepare for those good days, I went over to the local bookstore and browsed the other day. I try to read mostly electronically because my place is relatively small and I have too many paper books as it is. But sometimes I like the limited choices of the bookstore and the feel of real paper in my hands.
I was thinking as I was browsing the shelves and looking at the pretty covers in the fantasy and science fiction section what it was about any book that first drew me to it.
In a bookstore where you're seeing books spine out, its the title really that would draw me in. That title has to elicit some intrigue for me. The cooler the title, the more likely I am to pull it off the shelf to take a closer look. Words like "dragon" or "lost" or "dark" or "crown" or "fire and ice" always call to me.
The cover then is the next thing that has to speak to me.
If its fantasy, it's got to have certain elements that intrigue me like an elven warrior on the cover in fantastic clothes in a deep wood, or a human in armor with a mythical beast, or a party of adventurers heading towards a distance fabulous city. I want to feel what the adventure is going to be about from that image and want to either join the person or people on the cover or be them. In science fiction, visions of fabulous cities
if on other planets always draws me in, or if more cyberpunk the neon drenched cities of the future that look lived in and dangerous. I want to feel I'm leaving our world entirely. I want to just drown in this other place, feel I could be there, and forget everything else.
And, finally, it's the blurb that gets me. It's not that the blurb has to be well-written (though yeah, that's a good sign) but more than it has to have those almost buzz words for me. I picked up a novel called Stiletto (cool title yeah?) with a very clean image of a knife carving down the page. But it was the descriptors in it that really got me: secret societies, supernatural creatures, bizarre attacks, London, and otherworldly that had me purchasing it (I didn't even see that it was book 2... until now).
So what draws you into a story (and no, you don't have to talk about mine!)? What are your criteria? What's your catnip for picking one up and putting another down? Anything good you're reading, listening to or watching that you want to share? Put it in the comments! As book reading season is upon many of us, I'm sure people would love recommendations! I know I would!
If we're talking about whatever we want, then I want to talk about what I want next for the characters of Winter Haven.
1) I'd like a demonic wedding for Nate and Emrys. I don't think Emrys has seen TUO in his true form yet, but it would be cool if he saw it maybe accidentally somehow and then gets cold feet. Like, "What am I doing? Marrying The motherfucking Unnamed One!?". Nate would get caught in the middle as he always does between his other self/evil twin and get hurt and angry. But then true love conquers all!
2) I used to be in awe and afraid of TUO. He's gotten too goodie goodie. I'd like to be reminded of just how much power he wields and why everyone fears him.
3) Can't wait for the resolve between Staphanus and Cole! Big powerful sex god, sex expert Staphanus showing vunerability with Cole and making love for the first time makes my heart happy!
4) I already talked about wanting to out Alric and Ethan to spur feelings, inner thoughts and philosophical conversation on ethics of manipulating the minds of humans. I have know idea how you would resolve something like that, but I'm sure you could find a way!
It was more about the topic above, but no problem! I should give you guys a chance to have a whole blog on that.
(1) If I do Dark Magic, which is to wrap up the things left over in The Pact and WHCC, I think this issue between them will be interesting. Not exactly what you said. I think physicality is shallow and not what Emrys will care about but there are other things.
(2) I think you should wait to see the next chapter in The Fell before you think TUO is "good" let alone "goodie goodie"...
(3) Again, not until Dark Magic and that probably won't be awhile, but we will see.
(4) I'm not sure what you mean here. The Elves of everyone hardly do that. But it is an interesting topic.
I remember exactly what made me pick a book when I was a kid: 1. it had to be fantasy and 2. it had to be BIG. No, really XD I read all the biggest books in my local library just because the sheer volume of them attracted me! And of course it had to be series of at least 3 books!
(of course it doesn't actually mean anything, some of the huge books I read as a kid now also exist in very small size, it just depends on the font used. But back then I remember it MATTERED lol)
Nowadays I don't read that much anymore. Aside from RR stories and fanfiction, I hardly read more than 1-2 book per year. I used to read several per week when I was a kid, but I guess TV shows, video games and social media took away my reading time x)
So the few books I actually pick up are usually the ones recommended by friends. That's how I discovered A Song of Ice and Fire, the Kingkiller trilogy and a few others. Also this year I read several books of The Expanse because I love the TV show SO MUCH and couldn't wait for season 4 ^^
It's a rarity for me to read as well. Like an event! And, like you, I used to read like crazy. But fanfiction took over from that because the stuff I wanted to actually read was there as opposed to in the trad published books.
Audiobooks are really my jam. I just spend so much time/money/etc. to listen to someone tell me an incredible story. Games and youtube, etc. take up a lot of my time too.
I have read most of the content on this site and must say how thoroughly I have enjoyed it. Needless to say I am a huge fan and look forward to what the future brings at Raythe Reign. In fact, raythereign.com has so dominated my reading, there has been little time for anything else.
Only speaking on your writings, there are many familiar themes that I expect and understand. You have indicated your preference for the story lines involving the older/younger man dynamic. It works here and I get it. This produces many similar situations and conversations between characters over the various stories.
One exception to this is the relationship that formed between Jordan and Scott in the Fell. The dialogue and tension between these two characters (especially in the beginning) was so refreshing and humorous, it has become my favorite pairing in the entire Raythe Reign universe. I would love to see more of this type of energy and playful banter between characters.
There are a couple other things I would love to share but will do so privately. Thank you for you writing!
It's always interesting to me to hear how people love certain couples and why! I often hear that "this" couple is different because X, while another reader will tell me that same couple is like all the other couples! For me I think of Scott and Jordan like Christian and Balthazar and like Nate and Emrys! You may not think so but to me those couples have clear connections/types. I think you could connect Caden and Valerius to this "type". Can you see what I see as the connections? I don't know!
These days all I read are e-books. I generally stick with kindle just because of my account. I primarily read lgbt books only because there were not such things for me growing up...so I am just making up for lost time. I am immediately drawn to the cover art but HATE when the cover is deceptive. I'm a sucker for hea or hfn. The world is too depressing these days and there seems to be so much hate. It's nice to relax with my tablet and escape.
I generally do a search for what to read. I really like the "enemies to lovers" theme. The "Cursed" trilogy is a great example. I like to look for books where the protagonist has special powers...especially when the special powers end up being much more than they should be. For example, "His Consort," by Mary Calmes (and of course in "Ever Dark" with Julian and Christian or in "Dragon's Reign with Valerius and Caden).
I also enjoy fun stories about contemporary relationships. One of my favorites is "Red, White, and Royal Blue" by Casey McQuiston. It's a laugh-out-loud romance/comedy about the President's son and the Royal English Family's son falling in love. What I loved about that book is that as funny as it is, there is a wee bit of a serious theme. At the end of each chapter there is a quote by some famous person in history which talks about lgbt issues. Who knew that King James (King James Bible) was gay?
What I love most of all these days are the web series on your website. I really had no idea what they were so I subscribed, picked a series, and was hooked. I am current with Ever Dark and Dragon's Reign. "The Abyss" literally had me on the edge of my seat. I would have to periodically step away from the story because it was so intense. The creatures are so well described they were easy to picture in my mind..and they totally freaked me out. I'm gong to work my way through the elves and then the mer-folk.
One thing I have noticed is everyone is writing about shifters and specifically werewolves. I love a good werewolf novel but good grief enough is enough. An exception to that would be TJ Klune's "Wolfsong."
That is one reason why I LOVE your vampire novels and web series (which to me are novels). I would love to grow old reading about the adventures of Julian & Dameon, Christian & Balthazar. I can only imagine how much trouble Julian, and especially Christian could get into. Finally, "The Vampire's Club" is currently my favorite book(s)/series. I can only speculate on where things are going and really haven't a clue. The relationship between Lucas and Konstantin is going to be timeless. I am smitten with them as a couple. I hope this series continues for many more books.
It's interesting about your feeling on werewolves, because it is sort of mine! I understand why they are so popular, but I can't write them that way for some reason... I've seen this great image a real wolf pack and the alpha is in the BACK on the line, behind the slowest and oldest of the wolves, making sure that these wolves aren't harmed. But in most books its all about dominance (which can be hot! but I'm not good at this) and submission and mpreg so there we go! I think I'm loving writing Dragon's Reign b/c I'm not roped into that trope or writing against expectations and I think a swarm shifter is so much more interesting and its got dragons so... well, there you are.
I can't read contemporary anymore unless its like holiday themed. I really always want that supernatural edge. And I adore action in my books, too, which is why The Abyss probably felt so frantic. I love having that breathless action.
I love the stories you write. The world's are so beautiful, and you pair them with great characters! But, as I approach the final months of my teenhood, I've sort of started to "crave" a storyline that I've only been able to find in mxm books a few times. Normally, the story's main character is someone that is still really young, and the story progress is like listen ing to 'A Whole New World'. It's a wonderful concept, but I feel like it's (in genral) getting overly exhausted. I've been hoping for a while, that I'll get to read a story that has an older, more experienced main character. And i don't really mean in romance particularly, I mean in life. I read a mxm book called 'The Only Option' and I was swept away by the fact that the main character was already settled in his own power. He knew who he was, he had learned to use his powers well, and there were lots of amusing references to his life experiences throughout the book. His confidence was already earned, and he used it in the new adventure he gets pulled into (a bit unwillingly). I've been hoping we would get a chance like this with you, so I could ask what you thought about this kind of character concept. I believe it still has room for new adventures and romance, but would create a fresh experience for the reader.
That was kind of the main thing that's been pulling me in for a while now. Thank you for you're amazing work!!
That honestly sounds a lot like Jim Butcher Dresden book! You should look up that series (its not m/m its urban fantasy). As to mine, I think only The Artifact is like that with Sean although you see the older person as the other half of the relationship in most of my books, I think. I will definitely keep that in mind and consider one like that.
One of my favourite "tropes" I guess is a happy ending, it was one of the things that really drew me into your stories. Life is already a struggle for most of us so I like my stories to be happy, and it's taken me years to realise that happy endings can really round out the ending to a book and make it truly satisfying.
Another thing that I like in stories in diversity. As a black woman myself I rarely see people who look like me portrayed in media (the fantasy books I love all somehow manage to have dragons and magic and a suspiious lack of people of colour in general, but especially dark skinned black women which is very annoying - see GOT). Another reason I liked dragons reign so much.
More specifically I like to see dark skinned women (especially black women but thats my own bias which is fine) in relationships with people other than black men. My husband is white and I know many a person in a happy interacial relationship, but media tends to never portray this. Usually with one (1) black family and the women are almost always lighter skinned than the men - something I've always found strange and very frustrating.
I just like to see people who look like me having these amazing stories and adventures, it really keeps me sane tbh
I need happy endings too because I always come to love the characters and WANT to see good things happen to them after everything they have been through!
I totally understand wanting to see yourself in your favorite genres (let alone in your fav books!) and for there to be representation within that. Like you said dark skinned black women, people with partners that are different races etc.
I think it keeps us all sane.
So for me the most important part about a book is the Fantasy genre!!! I really only read that. So first i go to that section in the bookstore!!! And like you raythe I first look out for the title and the cover art If the both facinate me then I read the description on the cover only if that also interigues me the book will be bought^^
I also agree with keith I love long books and even better long book in serials^^ Since I don't have a lot of time at the moment to read except raythe reign I hear a lot of audiobooks^^ For those the fourth criteria is a good reader^^ I hear a lot of english audiobooks but since english is not my native language some dialects are difficult for me to understand so that is important. Also if I like the voice of the reader^^ Some reading voices get annoying quickly^^
As for recomandations I loved the Iron Druid Chronicles from Kevin Hearn audiobooks^^ There are two versions of this audiobook I recomend the one read by Christopher Ragland I really brings out the irish accent of the main charakter and can also imitate all the different accents in teh story!!! Although it didn't quite have a hea...
And of cause the Black Jewels from Anne Bishop, the german Reader was just too sexy for words, but the story is also amazing!!! I also love the Kushiel Books especially the first 6 books!!! Well I think those were the last ones I heard^^ At the moment I am hearing Outlander but I'm not quite sure I like it... It is a bit to long-winded for my taste^^ So I wish everybody a nice reading autum^^
I've read the Iron Druid chronicles but I stopped after the Thor one because the main character became so preachy and annoying.
I know people love the Kushiel books! They have a bit too much bdsm for me if I'm thinking of the right ones.
A good catching title would be the first hook. Next thing would be is it a supernatural or an out-of-the-ordinary romance story with a compelling story to tell? But the biggest lottery ticket winner for me is a story that has the two mentioned criteria above with the couple being.... two different races!! This is why the GHOST series still remains one of my favorites out of all the stories. I failed to remember this the last time we had discussions over what gravitate us towards certain books. The Brethren series by Sara Reinke is an excellent example of this elusive combo of mine! But I have not finished reading that series because some reviews of the one I need to read next are less than stellar and I don't want to waste my hard earned money on something that is gonna disappoint me (changes of the main female lead's personality I think if you're wondering) . But yes GHOST is a solid favorite of mine because it has that supernatural flavor, a very awesome story to tell, great characters both the good guys and the villains, and most importantly the couple of the stories are interracial such a delicious clash of different cultures coming together romantically in an awesome way !
It's always so cool to hear what really is someone's catnip! I've seen The Brethren's book covers on Amazon and am always intrigued, but something holds me back. What a bummer to hear maybe the later books have problems. Sigh. I know that authors don't intend those things but it happens.
I'm a sucker for large, expansive, detailed continual settings so fantasy series are often the ones that get me pulled in. Things like The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, The Hollows by Kim Harrison, or the Fever Series by Karen Moning.
I find interest in the Marvel/DC worlds. And I know quite about the Star Trek and Star Wars expanded universes because of my husband though I don't read anything with those series.
Getting past what I call the "First Book Syndrome" in a series can be pretty rough since the author is usually still figuring out their characters and setting. And in a lot of times that first book doesn't really have much bearing on the rest of the story. I kind of consider The Erl-king to be you "first book syndrome", Raythe, because The Fell Alric and Erl-king Alric are two different people but the connections to their respective characters are there in both stories. But we have ended up with your fantastic Winter Haven setting which is what I'm really in love with and the sex is just a bonus on the side.
As for book stores, I can't do 'em. Unless I know specifically what I'm in there to get I get overwhelmed by the selection and end up leaving with nothing because I can't afford to get everything that catches my eye. Or sometimes nothing really looks good. Thank god for Amazon and Good Reads.
At this moment I'm trying to get through The Handmaid's Tale because it's been such a huge success but I don't know if I'm going to finish it. It's a hard read.
I'm really familiar with the Jim Butcher books (got one of his new ones) and I'll definitely check out the other ones.
I love "the first book" syndrome because it is so so so true. Sometimes with the new serials now (I did this with Ever Dark) I actually go back and rewrite and tell you all about it because of that.
I allow myself a certain amount of fun entertainment things each month or I'll go crazy because those are the things that I love. But I totally get you about become overwhelmed! Or feeling like you can't buy everything. Amazon is dangerous for me because one-click and there you go! I can only carry so much.
I am a reader. Always have been - my mom was a reader and made sure I had books. She used to read to me as a kid, which is prolly why I can't listen to audio books...they put me to sleep - not good while driving. So, what draws me into a book is the last page. Where characters have landed always encourages me to ask " how did they get there ? " the more oblique the ending the more I'm drawn in. I've actually read books backwards...yeah strange mind - but I always think a good story like a palindrome - it reads well forwards and backwards. I was LOTR/Hobbit fan long before the movie - loved the elves - pretty men..LOL. Anything Dragon was/is always my goto read Loved Dragon ! And to keep balance ( Libra mind ) I read gay authors and novels: Leather Jacket Love Story, Running with Scissors, Giovanni's Room to name a few and the writings of Andrew Holleran, Larry Kramer and others and the classics.
So my ideal book would be gay-themed and supernatural/fantasy etc. That combo was harder to find than dust in the rain until that moment I saw the cover of Everdark and Daemon's pic in an IG story. When I went back to get information it had been taken down. And then it popped up in my fb feed...and I was in heaven. I ran to your site...and have never left ! You filled a void for many gay men like myself who enjoy reading both genres ( have made referrals). I like the relationships/couples in your stories - each character has something to bring to the table and the feminization of one character over the other is absent. Don't think I've read the word " wife " in any of your stories. One of the differences in Tidebound is that both characters are about the same age...which will put a whole new spin on the story developments - hot tempered, young , and spoiled - I love these possibilities. And of course there are the , " the read alouds" ...as I like to call them - my man loves those ! They are sensual, hot and accurate (for men) unlike many BL novels I've read which are suffice to say lacking in carnal knowledge... Anyway, as long as you writing...I'm reading...let the Fall/winter begin !
Vey cool this blog concept !