Hi there! I'm Jay Bell, the guy who writes the Something Like... series. The first book, Something Like Summer, is soon to be a movie. I also wrote Kamikaze Boys, which is the tale of two guys versus the world. If you're wary of smooth talking indie authors, then you can check out Like and Subscribe for free. Or maybe you already love me as much as I love you. Boy, I sure hope so! Either way, take off your pants and get comfortable!
While at a concert last night, it struck me just how gripping music can be. All the trappings of storytelling are there in the lyrics, but there’s another element too, an extra edge. A book has to talk you into feeling emotional, but audio can instantly transport you to anywhere in the emotional spectrum. What power! I contemplated giving up writing to become a rock star, but I don’t know how to play guitar and my singing voice sounds like a stoned frog on his deathbed. Luckily there’s a happy medium. Hearing a story read out loud—especially by someone talented enough to infuse it with drama and humor—can also take a book to the next level. That’s what I feel Kevin R. Free, narrator extraordinaire, accomplishes with my Something Like… series. Speaking of which, the latest installment is now available!
If you haven’t listened to Something Like Summer yet, please check out a free sample below. Confession time; I’m not a regular audio book listener, but this narrator in particular makes the experience more like a fun play rather than someone simply droning out text. I was very excited to have Winter performed in this way, since this book introduces characters like Eric and Marcello for the first time. And of course Ben, Tim, and Jace are there as well. You can buy Winter or listen to free samples from Audible, Amazon, or iTunes. There are also beefier samples of both books below. If you’re already an audio book listener, I really hope you enjoy hearing the second book brought to life. More is on the way!
We’ve got Something Like Summer shirts for sale! Art prints too! We’ll get to that in a minute. First I want to talk about something else that’s changed. The cover art for Something Like Winter has been overhauled. To an extreme. Why? Well, Andreas doesn’t have much time to work on these covers. First he’ll read a late draft of a book to get the vibe. Then he has to dream up a cover and start creating it. My final drafts tend to go pretty fast, leaving him almost no time to revise his ideas. Thankfully, Andreas is used to working under the wire and keeps cranking out masterpieces. But with Something Like Winter, he was never completely satisfied. Personally, I like the cover we had, but when Andreas asked if he could change it, I wanted him to be happy. I figured he would touch up the cover a little. Instead, it’s almost an entirely new composition. Check it out!
The guy up on stage playing the piano? Yeah, that’s Tim Wyman. I’m always willing to let Andreas chase his own artistic vision, and this is perhaps the very best example because no, Tim cannot play the piano. Luckily, we’d always envisioned the cover to be Tim’s dream of seeing Ben up on stage before their second reunion, and it’s not hard to imagine Tim wanting to play some music for Ben to sing along to. The good news for those of you with the old cover art is that it will never be sold again or reproduced in any fashion. You have a genuine collectors item that will remain rare, especially considering that the old cover was sold for a mere six months or so. But what if you want to get your hands on the new cover?
Well, that bring us to the new merchandise. We’ve teamed up with Redbubble to provide you with quality art prints of all Andreas’s book covers. Sound too fancy? There are posters too, which are sure to please your inner-teenager once taped to the wall. A variety of his illustrations from the Loka Legends books are also available as prints or postcards, as well as a selection of his non-book related art. My favorite though is the new Something Like Summer T-shirt, which is available in all sorts of colors and sizes. These shirts are the perfect way to subtly communicate your love for books and all things gay. Forget Grindr! I’m already dreaming of someone meeting their true love by wearing one of these shirts. Not guaranteed of course, or even likely… but not entirely impossible either.
If you guys like the idea of T-shirts and these sell okay, I have some really cool original ideas that don’t utilize the cover art. Or feel free to make your own suggestions, because we’d love to hear them! You can visit our store on Redbubble right here.
Still not convinced about all of this? Check out this video of me showing off some of the new merchandise. Did I mention my father was a salesman? It’s in my blood!
Curious about Something Like Autumn and Spring? I drop a few hints in a recent interview over at True Colorz, a new site that’s chock-full of gay goodness. Book reviews, author interviews, reading lists, freebies—the resources over at True Colorz are amazing and growing every day. Please check them out! Quite a few gay book sites bit the dust last year, so it’s great to see a big ol’ rainbow phoenix rising from the ashes. Aside from the next two books in the Seasons series, I also talk a little about my troubled past and the inspiration for Kamikaze Boys. Read the article about me all the way to the end for details on how to win a free paperback or eBook copy of Something Like Winter!
In other news, the results of the 2012 Member Choice Awards are in, and you guys were very very good to me. I won five awards in total, or more accurately, you won five awards for us. This particular award is very special to me, since it’s based on what readers like. That’s the only criteria. Read it, love it, and vote. And man oh man, thank you guys for all the love! Something Like Winter won an award for Best Cover, which made Andreas very happy. Ben and Tim won an award for Best Couple. Don’t tell Jace! Kamikaze Boys won an award in the Best Coming Out Story category. At first I thought that was a little odd, since the book begins with both characters already out, but then again, living with the consequences of being openly gay is also part of coming out. David and Connor also scored in the Best Story Featuring Young Adult Characters category. Last but not least, Something Like Winter nabbed a prize for Best Contemporary Story. I literally couldn’t have done it without you guys. Thank you so so SO much. The only way I can think to repay you is by writing more. Rest assured, Something Like Autumn is progressing nicely!
How many books does a series make? Two is a pair, three a trilogy, and four… Hm. That sounds about right. Four books is enough for a series, and just happens to be the number of seasons there are. How very convenient then for us then, because what started as a stand-alone book (that I was sure no one would bother reading) is now expanding into a series. Something Like Summer told the story of Ben’s love for two very special men. Something Like Winter gave us Tim’s perspective on their history, both together and apart. Now I think it’s time to hear one more tale before moving on. What do we really know about Jace?
Something Like Autumn will tell Jace’s life story. Like the other two books, it will begin in the teen years. This is very exciting, because by the time we meet Jace in Summer, he’s already a very well-adjusted adult. I love the idea of exploring what Jace’s younger years were like, and discovering how he slowly developed into the lovable and rather saintly person we see in Summer and Winter. Surely he wasn’t always perfect, and wisdom always comes at a price, so his story won’t be simple. While I’ve made good progress on the book, I’m not sure if there will be any revisited scenes like with the previous two books. Something Like Autumn might end the moment Jace and Ben meet, or it might further flesh out their relationship. Regardless, Autumn will rely even less on retreading previous scenes than Winter did.
That just leaves one season. Spring symbolizes new beginnings and fresh starts, and while I don’t want to give away too much now, I think it’s safe to say this is the book many of you have been waiting for. Something Like Spring will be told from a new character’s perspective, but will feature a supporting cast from the other three books. The best part? This story begins after the events of Something Like Winter. In other words, it takes place in the future of many characters we know and love. You want to know what happens to Ben, Allison, Marcello, Tim, and even Chinchilla? Are you sure you want to know? Are you really really sure? Yeah, me too.
It’s too early to talk release dates. I still have a lot of work to do. I can promise that neither story will see the light of day until I feel they are up to par. I want the Seasons Series to be the absolute best it can be, not just for us, but for the characters that I adore so much. I want them to continue living in our hearts and imaginations, and I hope you are as excited to see their return as I am.
I need your vote! But before we get to that, I’m having big ol’ sale. From now until January 2nd of next year, all my books will be priced at a meager $2.99. Why? I know this time of year can be expensive, so I hope to help folks out that way. I’m also aware that many of you will be getting eBook readers for the holidays, and as a big believer in digital media, I want to make your introduction to this brave new world as cheap as possible. Or maybe the lower prices will help you pimp me to your friends and family. Or make it more tempting to try out some of my weirder stuff, like Hell’s Pawn. So there are lots and lots of reasons, but the bottom line is two weeks of cheap.
In other news, Something Like Winter and Kamikaze Boys have been nominated for various awards. Want them to win? The power is yours! The M/M Romance Group is having their Members Choice Awards, and you can weigh in on all sorts of books by voting right here (voting is now closed). It’s a long list, but you don’t have to choose an answer for every category, which is good if you don’t read BDSM or books about cowboys. Or books about BDSM cowboys. The categories my books have been nominated in are:
Something Like Winter (I wanna win this one for Andreas!)
Ben and Tim – Something Like Winter
Something Like Winter
Best Contemporary Novel:
Something Like Winter
Best Book of the Year:
Best Coming Out Story:
Best Book Featuring Young Adult Characters:
Finally, if you’re wondering about the aforementioned new book news, I’ll be making a full announcement on January 2nd, so check back here for details. You guys are going to be so pumped! But I can’t leave you hanging right? So here’s a completely random image that isn’t a hint at all.
One thing I absolutely adore is when readers send me songs, saying “This one made me think of your book.” I used to do the same as a reader, discovering by chance a song with lyrics or vibe that suited a favorite story. I still do this as a writer, but in reverse. I’ll find a new tune that sets a certain mood, one that I want to capture and insert into one of my novels. Something Like Winter had quite a few songs that helped inspire it, one of my favorites being Bizarre Love Triangle by a little band called Ghost Ghost. Many of you have commented on the couch scene in the second half of the book. We have the below song to thank for it.
For me, the song encapsulates perfectly that desperate feeling of being the third wheel. Some of the lyrics suit Ben, some suit Tim, and you won’t have to dig deep to figure out that I took direct inspiration from a few of the lines. If you dig this song, you can learn more about the album or listen to all the tracks for free right here.
Speaking of art inspiring art (inspiring art!) there’s another musician by the name of Gavin Beach, who is not only gay and adorable, but has the most phenomenal voice ever. Sometimes I listen to him and imagine Ben Bentley sounds much the same. The second coolest part? While in the middle of reading Something Like Summer, he recorded the following cover, and he later told me the story was on his mind at the time:
Gorgeous! The mostest coolest part? His singing contributed to Something Like Winter. I couldn’t stop listening to Gavin’s cover. I listened to it when getting in the mood to write, and this song along with many of Gavin’s other videos, were playing while Andreas worked on the book’s cover. In other words, we’re big fans. Gavin is working on recording some original tunes, so be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel to keep up with this shooting star.
Another big… okay, tremendously HUGE inspiration in my life has been Piers Anthony and his books. They’ve influenced my personal life and my writing. Each of my fantasy novels borrows something from his stories I grew up reading, and in a weird way, so does Something Like Winter. Piers has a series called The Incarnations of Immortality. Each book was about a personified force of nature, such as Death, War, Fate, and the like. The villain in each book was the Devil. Pretty cool, especially the 6th book in the series, which is from the Devil’s perspective. In that book we learn about his early life, what motivates him and makes him tick, and then we relive all those villainous moments, but through his eyes. The twist is, the Devil has a very good reason for doing all those things that appeared evil in the other books. Brilliant! While I didn’t want to make Tim seem like a saint, since that wouldn’t be honest, I did want to provide that same “A-ha, now I get it!” feeling where his actions are at least understandable, and maybe a little forgivable.
That’s it for this time around. There’s plenty more that inspired me, like that photo of Bruno Santos up top, or The Maltese Falcon, since Marcello and The Fat Man share a deliciously offbeat charm. I could go on and on, but I’d rather go listen to more music, seek out more art, and keep working on my next release. Curious what it’s about? Stay tuned!