A warm welcome to author Taylor Donovan joining us today to chat to us , she also brought with her a giveaway to our readers so make sure to leave a comment to enter!
Hello everyone! My name’s Taylor and I’m an author of gay romance and suspense. Today I’m here not to talk about Six Degrees of Lust or Six Degrees of Separation, Second Edition, first and second instalments in my By Degrees series. I’m here to talk about writing and my journey, and what I’ve learned and decided. Thanks to Love Bytes for hosting me and letting me ramble! 🙂
This may sound familiar to some of you, but I’m going to share it again for those of you who don’t know me. Six Degrees of Lust is the first story I ever wrote. I am what you might call an accidental author. I never had stories in my head, and being published was never a dream of mine. This all started when a friend asked me to write something with her in order to keep her focused in her story, as I am a bit…anal, when it comes to finishing what I start. That might come as a surprise to those of you who have been with me since the beginning, as I’ve been on hiatus and my releases are taking a while, but yes—I do finish everything I start.
But back to the beginning.
My friend asked me to write something with her and my immediate reaction was “no way.” I never took creative writing classes in college. English is my second language, so I’m ESL, and I was convinced my vocabulary wasn’t as rich as I thought an author’s should be. Long story short, she convinced me. Our collaboration didn’t last. We had completely different styles, and they didn’t mesh, but it turned I liked the writing thing. I discovered I had ideas and a voice. So I got into it.
When I started writing By Degrees I didn’t think it’d go anywhere. I was doing it for me…for fun…for distraction during a rough time in my life. But three chapters into Six Degrees of Lust, I realized I had something there, and I took a step back to think carefully about it all, because the big picture was way bigger, way more colourful, and WAY more complicated than I originally thought.
I created character profiles.
I plotted individual character arcs and connections.
I came up with a full story line to bring all those characters together.
I decided to give it a go.
After that, I went into full research mode. I studied all aspects of creative writing. I learned to put a story together, but I could see from early on I was colouring outside the lines. My chapters didn’t resemble any of the gay romance stories I’d read, and I was cool with the fact no one—other than close friends—would ever read it, because I didn’t think there was a market for it. You see, I was writing an ensemble cast with multiple storylines and points of views. I was creating a web that would take hundreds of thousands of words and a few books to explore. I was basically writing the gay version of a criminal investigation show, soap opera-ish moments and all, and I absolutely loved it.
Fast-forward eight months and I had a contract. Yay! Never in a million years could I have imagined that would happen, and on the first try! Then the book came out, and people started reading my words, and that’s when my learning journey really begun.
I’m happy to report I was wrong about there not being a market for By Degrees. Hundreds and hundreds of people took a chance on a rookie author and purchased Six Degrees of Lust. To all of you who did, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your “bravery” still means the world to me. <3
The reviews started coming in a couple of days after release. Again, surprising, as Six Degrees of Lust is a long book. I was thrilled. Heck, I was exhilarated, even when I read the not-so-positive ones. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but not everyone was thrilled about not having everything resolved by the end of the story. In fact, some readers really hated the cliff-hanger—they were furious that after reading 120,000 words they still didn’t know whether Sam and Mac would make it as a couple, or who the heck was killing young gay men.
From that point on, it was on.
Readers e-mailed me wanting to know what would happen next and WHEN it would happen. They e-mailed me to let me know they appreciated the complexity of the story, and also to let me know I had no idea how to write a book properly—that I should give up.
I absorbed all the comments and opinions. I questioned myself. I let all of it get to me, even though my other books, Heatstroke and Disasterology 101 had been extremely well received. But I decided I needed to do better with every new release. I tried to out-write myself. The pressure I put on myself to find a happy medium between my style of writing and what I had learned readers wanted was insane, all while also dealing with a mountain of craptastic personal issues. The result? No new releases. Nothing was good enough. I’d end up discarding everything I wrote, or I wouldn’t write at all. Fortunately, I realized what the problem was: I was trying to please everyone BUT myself, and that’s a huge mistake.
Nothing I’ll ever write will be liked by everyone. I accept that. I’ve also accepted that I really don’t care. I definitely would like for every reader who’s spent their money on my work to enjoy their purchase, but I can’t feel like crap if they don’t. You know why? Because writing is a creative art, and I personally am affected by emotions. I need to be in a good place in order to write, and what I’ve learned after all these years is that I need to stick to the basics—I’ve got to write for me, and, hopefully, my work will always find its readership.
To my readers who have encouraged me to get better, thank you! To those of you who gave up on me for taking too long to release a new book, I apologize for letting you down, but I admit I’m not fast, and there’s no changing that. To those of you who have stuck with me and are chomping at the bits for Heavy Hitters, it’s coming in February. I figured around Valentine’s Day, because this book has been a labor of love. There’s no more fitting date. J
P.S. I’ve brought some copies of my books to give away. Leave a comment. Say hello if you know me, or introduced yourself if you don’t. I’m always happy to talk books, TV shows, the 80s! Whatever you say, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a set of signed paperbacks of the Second Edition of Six Degrees of Lust and Six Degrees of Separation, and one electronic set.
P.S. 2 Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition, released January 2. If you read the first version, I’d still recommend you get this one as well, as some characters were fleshed out and, even though the story arc remains basically the same, there are tweaks foreshadowing events in Six Degrees of Separation, which in turn leads to events in Six Degrees of Agony, finally coming to you late 2017.
Six Degrees of Lust, Second Edition
Release date: January 2, 2017
By Degrees; Book One
New York City FBI team leader Samuel Shaughnessy lives for his immediate family and his job. After a marriage gone wrong he has stuck to a firm rule when it comes to relationships: he doesn’t have them. Sexually active and emotionally unavailable keeps him satisfied, especially now that he is in hot pursuit of a serial killer targeting gay men. Former firefighter Machlan O’Bannon now manages a successful sports bar in Houston and after years of waiting he’s ready to stand up and be the man he always wanted to be: out, proud and drama-free. His politically-aligned family wants to keep him locked in the closet, but Mac just wants to meet the man of his dreams. One man is as high strung as the other is laid back. A chance meeting brings the two men together, and one night of passion ignites a fire neither can fight. Their lives are not only miles apart, but as different as day and night. They don’t want to get involved, but they might not be able to keep apart.
First Edition published by MLR Press, December 2011.
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of gay romance and suspense. She is optimistically cynical about humanity and a lover of history, museums, and all things 80s. She shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television, is crazy about fashion, and passionate about civil rights and equality for all.
When she’s not writing or making a living in the busiest city in the world, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and their terribly misbehaved furry baby in their home.