Hayden Thorne's Blog

February 8, 2017

Two-month break from blogging seemingly over, yay. Guarantee of more consistent future updates still iffy, bleargh. I've been on Twitter pretty religiously insofar as maintaining an online presence is concerned. Funny how I used to criticize Twitter as a never-ending cocktail party, and now I depend on it heavily for updates and just plain conversation with others (writers and otherwise).

So many upheavals in the past year led to my blogging attempts grinding to a halt. Andy and I finally took the plunge and moved out of our condo, and we're temporarily staying with his mom while our old unit's being fixed up for listing. This week we're hoping the repairs, upgrades, etc., will be done, and then it's waiting for a buyer to bite.

Since all of the craziness happened in the last two months of 2016, during the holidays, to boot, when my schedule at work got pretty damned intense, it's safe to say my writing's suffered from it. I've lagged on my progress, sadly, and when I at first hoped for a mid-February release, we're now looking at early March or mid-March at the latest. Hell, that's only if I'm lucky enough to keep this sluggish (and constantly interrupted) pace.

With our new, temporary living situation, writing time's been hacked to the bone, and I've been scrambling to carve out as much time as I could here and there, and the end result is extremely spotty progress. And not to mention lots of blocks because the flow of my brainstorming is severely hampered. I've lost sight of so many plot threads and have gone back and did a major overhaul on the story, and I'm still struggling.

Part the first: regarding the next book

My original goal was to publish a long novella of around 45K words. After the overhaul, the goal post moved again to somewhere under 60K. Happily enough, as I've got only nine projected chapters left to write as I type this blog post, the final word count is definitely pointing in that direction.

The book's title will be changed, as usual, seeing as how using "camera obscura" is a wee bit - uh - obscure in terms of reference. I've managed to work in elements of religion and mythology in the text, both of which figure quite largely in the AU 19th century I've established so far. The defining force in this book, which focuses on Romania, is music.

As of now, I've yet to settle on a final title, but I'm getting there. I've also got lots of new leads for a book cover. All good things to those who wait, though, and I'll be able to treat you with the unveiling just before the book's release. At this point, considering how far I've already lagged in completing this novel, I'm not going to do a pre-release listing unless I see a good reason for it.

Part the second: regarding planned future releases

When I first thought of publishing a long novella, I was hoping for a quarterly release of books in that length for 2017. Unfortunately the universe had different plans for me, so I'm back to three books every four months or thereabouts. Pretty much the same release schedule (in terms of month, not specific dates) as 2016.

So the first book of 2017 will be out in mid- to late March (Guardian Angel came out early March of last year). The next book (set in Scandinavia somewhere) will be in July (The Flowers of St. Aloysius was released in July of 2016). The third book (set in Germany) will be in November (Hell-Knights came out in November of 2016).

I won't be projecting into 2018. One thing at a time, folks. I'm already overwhelmed by real life issues at the moment. But that's the schedule I'm hoping to keep. I do have plans for career changes for this year, and if that pans out as hoped, I'll have plenty more time to devote to writing.

Though I remain cryptic as to the nature of that career change, wish me luck. It would be fantastic is things go swimmingly.

Part the third: regarding the fate of Hell-Knights and a multi-format distributor of my books

Welp - I'm sure everyone by now has heard of the implosion of All-Romance E-Books. They didn't owe me much, so I was lucky enough to be one of those authors who could walk away from the craptastic "deal" they offered as compensation for lost royalties without suffering a pretty bad financial blow.

Unfortunately it also means going back to the drawing board in finding online distributors of my self-published books from this point on. Preferably distributors who offer several digital formats of books. And that meant going back to Smashwords despite my irritation when it comes to their dreaded Meatgrinder conversion system.

At any rate, I shouldn't complain as Smashwords has been around for a long time now, and they've been pretty solid as a company. Ever since All Romance E-Books went full kablooey, my sales over at Smashwords enjoyed a surge once I reinstated Primavera, Guardian Angel, and The Flowers of St. Aloysius.

So now - at long last, I might add - I finally have Hell-Knights listed over there, and here's the link to the book page. So there you have it. I do apologize for taking this long to get my shit together, everyone. Unfortunately, as it usually happens when life throws you a curve ball, when it rains, it damn well pours.

Anyhoo, that's it. For now. It's a long update, but it's also way overdue. So ta for now, my darlings, and I'll see you again with a celebratory post regarding my current WIP soon.
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Published on February 08, 2017 23:44 • 4 views

November 22, 2016

All right - so let's briefly talk about new works-in-progress, yes? Yes. :D I've pretty much lightly touched on what's next on my plate over at Twitter, and it's called Camera Obscura. Note that it's got nothing to do with anything scientific or anything pertaining to, literally, pinhole images. It will, however, make good use of certain elements and concepts defining the phenomenon, the highlight of which is an inversion of an image and the role of darkness in the way that inverted image can be clearly seen.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWg5u...]

Moreover, the focal point or the conduit through which dark magic (or influences from the night world, as previous books have stated it) will be through music. That's one "inversion" I'd like to play with in approaching the story, and another "inversion" involves the setting.

Camera Obscura will be the fourth book in a non-series that takes place in an AU 19th century Europe. Guardian Angel kicked things off from an AU Victorian England. The Flowers of St. Aloysius took us to France. Hell-Knights brought us to Italy. And now it's Eastern Europe's turn, but while we're zeroing in on Romania for this new book, we're avoiding everything to do with vampires.

I mean, come on. That's pretty damned predictable. Besides, we've already tackled that in Italy.

So the "inversion" here involves Romania and Italy "switching places" with regard to defining cultural and historical elements. Italy was known as one of the great hubs of art, literature, and music, while Romania seemed to be shrouded more in folklore and myth, at least on a very superficial level. So I'm switching things around, hence the use of "camera obscura" for the book's title.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ytw99...]

Of course, the main plot and conflict will heavily be all about inversions and the significance of darkness - literal and otherwise - and everything will be wrapped up tidily in my favorite genre to write: gothic fiction. You know, same old, same old, but still so crazy fun to immerse myself in as a writer.

The two videos I'm sharing in this post are two very specific musical sources of inspiration for me, and I'm referring to not just the compositions, but the actual movements. The 1st movement of Vivaldi's "Winter" and the 3rd movement of "Summer". Note: Antonio Vivaldi = Italian composer (see: yet another "inversion" involved in Camera Obscura - seriously, folks, playing with the concept is so much fun).

As I'm trying to revive my online presence via blog, I hope to post more inspiration stuff pertaining to the new book in the near future. I suppose I can end this for now by giving our new young heroes their names: Cosmin Vasile and Iulian Dalca. As before, this will be a gay New Adult book.
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Published on November 22, 2016 23:40 • 17 views

November 17, 2016

Okeedokee, as threatened, there's an e-book giveaway happening right now over at The Novel Approach. My guest post is really a quickie introduction to Hell-Knights and an excerpt.

Add your name in the rafflecopter, and two winners will be chosen when the time comes. Good luck, my lovelies!

And Prism Book Alliance recently posted a review of the book, which makes me all shades of trippy-happy. Now if you've already gotten a copy of the book, thanks so much for your support! I hope you enjoy it, and be assured there'll be future books set in the same universe coming at you next year. :D
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Published on November 17, 2016 12:38 • 33 views

November 15, 2016

My newest gay New Adult historical fantasy novel is finally here!

TITLE: Hell-Knights
CATEGORIES: gay | new adult | gothic | historical fantasy | alternate universe | romance | victorian | paranormal
LENGTH: 111,787 words
PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon (e-book) | Amazon (print ) | All Romance E-Books | Createspace (print) | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Here's the blurb:

Decima is a centuries-old Italian city on the water, a vanity project meant to be a fairy tale escape for the titled and the privileged. But something in the distant past had turned it into a murky, putrid dreamscape instead, a crumbling city haunted by a scourge of revenants whose origins and purpose now seem destined to be hidden in the shadows forever. Not even the brave, dogged attempts at fighting midnight creatures by the descendants of a select bloodline can rid the city of the near-daily threat.

Michele De Santis is a young minor sorcerer, a reluctant champion who, along with his twin sister and his cousin, has lost too much through the years and has resigned himself to a life of endless midnight hunts while selling healing and protection spells and artifacts during the day. A life of loneliness, of a forced solitude in a desperate bid at keeping collateral damage at a minimum appears to be his only future.

When long-dead corpses suddenly turn without vampire bites, logical patterns no longer hold true, leaving the weary hunters baffled and unsure for the first time. Decima's bronze guardians fall silent for no reason, a dark, binding spell muting their warnings. A long-abandoned church shows signs of life in the most grotesque ways imaginable. And everything seems to point to an unknown threat, one that's long lain dormant but has been awakened by the arrival of a young English heir and his amateur antiquarian uncle.

Romance and the gothic layer 'Hell-Knights' with the dark, rich textures of an alternate universe Europe, a nineteenth century world where magic reigns supreme, and love knows no gender.

I'll be doing an e-book giveaway over at The Novel Approach on Thursday (Nov. 17), so watch this space. For that promo, two e-book copies will be up for grabs.
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Published on November 15, 2016 08:55 • 27 views

October 27, 2016

Behold a vampire-centric (and appropriately Halloween-ly) post! Firstly, a shout out to an oldie but goodie:

Desmond and Garrick is now available as a box set over at JMS Books. It contains both books one and two, and if you haven't checked out it out yet, now's a good time to get both in one fell swoop. And that's how the story's meant to be read, to be honest with you.

Secondly, new stuff!

Edits and revisions have gone pretty smoothly this time around compared to my previous two books, and it's largely because I did a hell of a lot more editorial tweaking while writing the initial draft. Plus I tend to be obsessive-compulsive when it comes to revisions and edits, and when I plonk my ass down in front of my laptop, I'm lost to the world for hours on end. I worked on this book for two straight weeks, back-to-back days, and my shoulders and neck are sore. No kidding there.

And because of that, the release day's been moved up to Nov. 15, hence much rejoicing from here. Mind you, I'm still doing some final sweeps and can still re-upload the file at different bookstores if changes are made. But the initial pre-order links are up, yay!

All Romance E-Books (includes excerpt, yo)

Note that Barnes and Noble isn't listed yet, but the book's been submitted, and I'm just waiting for the link to go live. And with print books, I'll be waiting till next week to get that done. Print books via Createspace don't have pre-orders, so even when I get it all set up next week, you'll still have the print format available before the e-book is released. I'm cool with that.

So by the middle or the end of next week, I'll post a complete list of links here, including the print book.
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Published on October 27, 2016 11:34 • 33 views

October 17, 2016

As I begin work on revisions and edits, here's the cover art for Hell-Knights to tide you over.

Cover Art for 'Hell-Knights'. Might be tweaking a little more with my name at the bottom, but this is pretty much done.

I haven't put together a blurb yet, and that really won't be till after I'm done with the polishing-up process. In the meantime, I get to offer a bit of eye candy.

As far as the release date goes, we're still on for November, pretty much the last week of that month. There's really no way I'll be releasing it anytime during the Thanksgiving Holiday long weekend as I know too many people, especially in the U.S., will be away (and deservedly so). At the moment, I'm targeting November 28th for that. It might change, but it's less likely at this point.
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Published on October 17, 2016 15:36 • 34 views

October 12, 2016

And, yes, I survived my third long novel of the year. Hell-Knights is now finished, clocking in at the moment at 107K+ words with 37 chapters (including epilogue). I'm taking a breather and will be diving into the revisions and edits starting next week. It'll be my second and third passes, really, since I tend to go back and revise previous chapters whenever I write a new one.

Next up: cover art, which I've already marked for purchase. I just need to, you know, buy the sucker and then post it here when it's ready to go. Purchase links and some such will be the last to pop up hereabouts.
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Published on October 12, 2016 19:08 • 15 views

September 27, 2016

A month later... ¬_¬

Business first, fun stuff later. Firstly, a heads up: I pulled my self-published books (Primavera, Guardian Angel, and The Flowers of St. Aloysius) from Smashwords and will not be using them in the future. It's way more trouble than it's worth, truth be told, to suffer through the formatting process in order for their Meatgrinder to convert my books properly, and practically zero sales from them to show for it. I'm now using Draft2Digital for my ebook conversion process, and they also distribute to Apple, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo, which are all I really need when it comes to distribution of purely .epub books.

My main sellers, though, are All Romance E-Books and Amazon, and at least over at ARe, I can offer readers three different formats, no different from what I used to offer over at Smashwords.

Hell-Knights currently clocks in at over 80K words, and I've only started the climactic chapters. While I'm currently at 29 chapters, I expect to have the book wrapped up between 36 to 40 chapters, which will, for sure, kick the final word count beyond the 100K marker. No biggie there. I've already resigned myself to coughing up another long novel for anyone who's interested to cap 2016, and I'm hoping this will scratch my long novel itch for the year, and I can start over with maybe novellas next year (my goal is to produce long novellas, which usually clock in at 45K words and offer them for 1.99 or thereabouts). Hell, I've already got a game plan mapped out as to how I can achieve novella-length fiction. But, yeah...

Hell-Knights is also on time for a November release (mid to late November), and I'm thinking of putting the book up for pre-release for maybe two weeks in advance or something, and that's the best case scenario. Otherwise, I'll simply announce the book's release in both print and e-book formats when the day finally comes. I was at first trying to go for an October release date, but things escalated rather rapidly, and, well, here we are.

I thought at first of deleting my site/blog over at Wordpress and simply using Twitter for my main home online while directing folks to Goodreads for longer posts. Then Wordpress sweetened the deal for me by offering paid personal blogs with the same upgrades I'm currently enjoying for only $36/year. Considering I'm paying $58/year for a domain name and no ads through their old a la carte system (I used to pay over $80/year, which included full customization), I think the $36/year is a fantastic deal, and I'm once again wibbling over the site or no site option.

Again, the downside to maintaining my current site/blog is the fact that it gets practically zero traffic, compared to my Twitter account, and I've sold way more books since I reopened it a couple of years ago. I don't pay for Twitter, but if that place closes down, given its current wobbly standing as a social media platform, I'll be shit out of luck without a site/blog as backup. Someone close to me also argued that I can still go back to blogging when the energy levels and motivation return, which, I know, makes a hell of a lot of sense.

So I'll be sticking around over at Wordpress indefinitely. I'm currently waiting till October to pay for their new package deal, and who knows? Maybe I'll be blogging again sooner than later, but that remains to be seen.

Recently I discovered - pretty belatedly, too - that Torquere Press is in a heap of financial trouble, which has left me somewhat shaken up and also relieved I've managed to get my rights back for all of my books way before the meltdown happened. It bums me out, learning about this, because they were the first press I've worked with, and they were the ones who got me going with my gay YA books, when they contacted me regarding the opening of their Prizm imprint and solicited material from me.

My first books with them were Banshee, Icarus in Flight (which was marketed as YA back then), and Masks: Rise of Heroes.

With the recent bizarreness of Samhain Publishing's situation as to whether or not they'll continue to conduct business, I'm feeling more and more confident with my decision to pursue self-publishing full-time. JMS Books seem to be doing pretty well, but I also realize I tend to write books that they'll less likely sell many copies of given the genre and the length. I was forced to cut up the Henning series into two books because I was advised that long novels in the gay YA market don't sell, and that was also the problem I ran across when I first submitted Desmond and Garrick to Prizm. That two-book series is really just one long novel, but it had to be divided into a mini-serial.

There's also much less attention given to non-contemporary books insofar as sales are concerned, which I pretty much expected, but if I'm not going to be making much with my books in the long run, I might as well self-publish and maintain more control over the pricing and royalties that way. My experience this year has been phenomenal on the whole, and I really am feeling way more confident moving forward with it. I'll keep my traditionally published books with JMS Books for as long as needed. Maybe I'll request my rights back. Maybe not. For the time being, I'm forging a new path for myself, and I can't wait for what 2017 has to offer.

Publishing, especially with the advent of newer opportunities for self-published writers and the rise of small presses everywhere, is still in a state of flux, and right now it looks like we're seeing a massive shakeup within the industry. Great ships have run aground, while some are thriving, and some self-published writers have withdrawn from the fray, while others take their tentative first steps. There's a definite glut of books vying for everyone's attention, and those same books are competing with all kinds of forms of entertainment for people's limited time and money.

At this point, the best approach to publishing is to produce the best book you can offer, pat yourself on the back and treat yourself for achieving something great, and then move on to the next project. Don't expect anything. No instant big sales, no fawning audience scrambling to buy and review your newest release within minutes of availability, and absolutely no guarantees of - anything, really. Dwell on those, and you're sure to be disappointed. Just go. Keep writing a better book than the one before it. Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

As to fun stuff...

Okay, I've nothing really fun to share at the moment, but perhaps in a few weeks or so, I'll have something besides books, writing, and publishing to talk about. >_>
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Published on September 27, 2016 21:59 • 20 views

August 16, 2016

Well, howdy, strangers! o_O It's been a whopping month since my last post here, and things have been pretty humdrum in my world. I do have a few updates to share.

1. My WP blog's now a static site. Officially.

I tried to do that a few months ago, wibbled, went back to the usual stuff, and then wibbled again. Truth be told, no one really visits my blog for any reason other than random interest now and then for maybe three specific blog posts, and that's it. It's way rarer for anyone to check out my book pages, let alone click links to bookstores and stuff.

So, yeah. I'm on Twitter full-time and will be using Goodreads for updates on official book stuff and, maybe, a random item or two. My blog posts here enjoy more traffic compared to my site, which I pay for, fer chrissakes, with nothing to show for it.

So if you're on Twitter, feel free to follow me, and I'll follow you back. I do engage as much as I can when I'm there, and I do my best not to turn my timeline into a dumb billboard for my books.

Dear fellow writers: THAT'S NOT HOW SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS. M'KAY? M'KAY. There's a reason why it's called SOCIAL media. I've either unfollowed or muted too many writers over there, and I hate doing that.

2. Hell-Knights is coming along pretty well.

I'm currently 12 chapters in, looking at around 34K words, and my hopes for a shorter novel are dwindling by the day, alas. There's a lot of world-building and a good deal of attention I'm placing on characterization. For better or for worse, Hell-Knights might end up as long as the first two novels I wrote in the same universe, i.e., over 100K words.

Mind you, hope springs eternal, but I don't want to push things. Whatever happens, happens.

OMG, this book's getting longer and longer!

So this novel would be the third I'll be writing in the same 19th century AU Europe, where same-sex relationships and marriage are normal, and so are magic and my favorite hybrid elements of pagan and Catholic lore. I could very well continue this trend next year and even beyond, who knows? I've even been toying around with possibly setting my next book in Romania. Scandinavia's a close second.

A story idea I'd like to set in Germany is an expansion of my "Erl-King" gay YA short story from a while ago, but I'll obviously be changing character names and some situations, but the plot pretty much remains the same. If I do pursue it, I'll need to tie the setting and conflict in with those in Guardian Angel, The Flowers of St. Aloysius, and Hell-Knights.

My momentum in writing Hell-Knights has been good so far, and if my luck holds, I'll be releasing this book late this year, maybe November.

3. Don't expect a series from me anytime soon. Or ever.

With the approach I'm taking with my books this year, I find that I'm way more comfortable writing one-shots (albeit long ones, apparently) that all take place in the same universe. I find my mind much fresher and my motivation much higher when tinkering with new characters and new locations but still ensuring each new story works within the confines set by previous books.

I am special, hear me roar!

Maybe down the line I'll give this entire collection a specific title, but by and large, one can enjoy each without needing to know everything else that's happened in previous books.

I can also do the same thing with contemporary fantasy books, even gay YA.

So I guess it's safe to expect this kind of stuff from me for the rest of this year and even next year, which I'd like to pursue as a self-published author.

4. That said, I may very well be self-publishing my books from this point on.

Small presses are invaluable, to be sure, and they've given me my start. I've been writing and publishing since 2008 (even before that with my earlier short fiction), and from them I've learned a great deal about the publishing industry and my preferred market (genre gay fiction/romance).

I'll never win big awards (I'm so over the ego stroking from that, which doesn't really translate to actual sales), and I'm quite happy tapping away at my keyboard in my web-festooned corner of the M/M market. But I love the control, love the freedom, love the fact that everything's on me, whatever the outcome. If the book tanks, I've got no one else to blame but myself, and that's good. It's crazy humbling, and I like how that grounds me.

I only look like I know what I'm doing.

There are still several things that are beyond my control, and once in a while I still struggle with the frustrations commonly arising from those situations, but that's also part and parcel of producing art for someone to consume. I do have to remind myself it's character-building, even if I've been struggling with these frustrations since 2008.

The benefits far outweigh the pitfalls, though, and let me just say I'm glad I don't have to depend on my book sales to pay off my bills. XD No pressure, no worries, lots of wiggle room to breathe and stretch my creative muscles.

5. I watched Captain America: Civil War months ago and loved, loved, loved it, but it didn't dethrone Captain America: The Winter Soldier from the number one spot on my all-time favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movies list.

Well, hello, Captain Dorito!

And I can't wait for Doctor Strange to come out this November as well as Luke Cage to be released on Netflix next month. And to throw another blockbuster into the mix, yeah - don't forget Star Wars: Rogue One, whose trailer absolutely mesmerized me.

Aaaanndd that's a wrap for now.
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Published on August 16, 2016 19:36 • 14 views

July 11, 2016

New novel (novella?) title, yes. It's the literal English translation of the Old English word, hellcniht, which means "demon". There are no demons in the novel, but there's a lot of devilry going on - or at least the source of the vampire scourge will be demonic in nature, and rather tragic, at that.

What little I can give at the moment as I begin the long, long, looooooong, arduous work of writing from scratch...

No sparkly-ass vampires anywhere here.

As I've noted in my previous blog post, it takes place in the 19th century, in very much the same universe as the previous two novels I've released. So it's very much AU / Alternate Universe, with folktale elements sprinkled liberally throughout, and that means the normalcy of same-sex relationships and unions. It's rather coyly touched on in Guardian Angel, turned into a free-for-all in The Flowers of St. Aloysius, and it's given yet another angle in Hell-Knights. In this case, the romance between the two protagonists will fall somewhere in between that of Dominic/Edgar and Brys/Laurent.

'Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust' will need to be dusted off yet again and re-watched.

INSPIRATION: folklore. That's it.

LOCATION: an AU version of Venice, which, in the book, is called Venedictos. Yes, yes, alliterations r us. The new name just happened to start with a "V" (Venice, vampire - geddit?), but I chose it because it's a Latin name meaning "blessed", and I'm using it ironically.

CHARACTERS: Michele and Evelina De Santis - fraternal twins and local badasses. Gabriel Latham - English scholar. Pia Sartori - possibly a friend of the De Santis family who possibly takes Gabriel in during his travels. Possibly. I haven't figured out for sure what she'll be doing beyond what else I've got planned for her, but things are in crazy early infancy right now, so nothing definite there. There'll be, of course, a number of other side characters involved, but by and large, Michele, Gabriel, and Evelina are the Big Three.

GENRES: the usual. XD

And that's all I can share at the moment. Again, I'm going to have to open myself up to this turning into another novel as opposed to a novella because of the world-building, now that we've moved locations yet again and are starting over elsewhere.
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Published on July 11, 2016 11:27 • 30 views