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Summer T-shirts, Winter’s new look, and art art art!

Something Like Summer shirtWe’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!

Something Like Winter new cover

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!

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Kamikaze Boys wins a Lambda Literary Award!

Lambda Literary Award Gay RomanceI was twelve years old when my family moved from small town Warrensburg, Missouri to The Woodlands, Texas. Much like Jace in Something Like Autumn, I was keen to escape to somewhere more exciting and much less sleepy. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand that I was just as uncool as the town I came from. Things were okay until that first day of school. That’s when it became clear that I didn’t fit in. Maybe it was my dopey clothes, or my lack of athletic ability. Or perhaps, on some subconscious level, the other boys could sense there was something different about me. I was out at recess one day when a group of about ten guys came up to me and started shoving me around. They pushed me down, picked me back up again by the ankles, and held me upside-down like they wanted to shake me down for change. When they were done with me, they dropped me to the ground and wandered off. Then a guy from my class sauntered over and explained he had paid them each fifty cents to do this to me. This experience pretty much set the stage for the next few years of my life.

Lambda Literary Award Gay Romance List of Winners Jay BellI went to school every day with a crippling sense of dread in my stomach. I pleaded with my parents not to take me there. They did the best they could, taking to teachers and such, but every kid knows how ineffective this is. My response was to lose myself in books. I’d always been crazy about reading, but now I escaped into fantasy realms with a vengeance. The lady who ran the local used bookstore felt like my only friend. Or my dealer. Things got a little better as the years went by. I fought back a few times, which helped a little, but I remained a frequent target. By the time I reached high school, I freaked out. I indulged in destructive behavior, vandalizing and other terrible things because I felt like I would go insane otherwise. If you’ve read Kamikaze Boys, this is probably starting to sound familiar. You also have a good idea of how it all played out. Like David in that story, I eventually found my way to a better place, both mentally and physically. The journey wasn’t easy, but I survived.

Jay Bell loves Andreas Bell

Andreas and I at last year’s award ceremony.

Today I woke up to the news that Kamikaze Boys won a prestigious Lambda Literary Award. Unfortunately, Andreas and I couldn’t make the trip to the awards ceremony in New York this year. Had we gone, I can only imagine what my acceptance speech would have been like. It would have been made up on the spot, because I never expected to win. As I tried to imagine myself on stage giving an impromptu speech, I considered who I would thank. Andreas, of course, and all of you readers, but then I thought of all those bullies. Weren’t they the most responsible for this book being written? The idea of thanking the people who made my life hell is laughable. My heart isn’t that generous. But winning this award does go a long way toward healing old wounds.

I’ve often fantasized about travelling back in time, showing up on that playground and protecting my younger self from that gang of bullies. But now, maybe I’d show up after the fact. My younger self would consider this a betrayal, but I’d explain to him that this is the way it has to be. Those bullies shaped who I was, put me through a number of trials that—as painful as they were—make it possible for me to write about such experiences today. Hopefully, others going through similar situations can take refuge in the pages of my books, just as I once hid in the pages of so many novels. Of course my younger self would probably hate this explanation and kick me in the shin. Then I’d have to wipe his memory to prevent a paradox. Come to think of it, I could probably beat those bullies up and then wipe their memories too!

Looks like I need to power up my time machine. Before I do, I’d like to say thank you to the Lambda Literary Foundation for working so hard to support and celebrate gay literature. As for anyone out there that might be going through a rough time as I once did, all I can tell you is to keep on fighting. Don’t let the bullies win. Survive long enough to build yourself a wonderful life full of laughter and love. That is the best revenge.

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Book release: Something Like Autumn

Joey the book seller

Joey, our top sales associate, is pleased to help you with any of your needs.

Something Like Autumn is here! Forget all the stupid blah-blah-blah that follows. You can come back and read that once you’ve finished the book. For now, go get yourself a copy and get lost in the story! It’s available in all the usual flavors: trade paperback of course, or an eBook for Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and everything else at Smashwords. Have fun!

Still here? Oh, very well. I have a confession. I used to feel like you guys cared about Jace more than I do. Not that I didn’t care about him. I too found the guy charming, was glad he was there for Ben, and I totally cried when… you know. Despite all that, there just wasn’t enough “screen time” for me to fall head over heels in love with Jace. Until now. I didn’t really know what I was getting into when deciding to write Something Like Autumn, but I did expect a challenge. How can such a nice, well-adjusted guy be explained? Was he always that way? Surely not! Picturing Jace as an angsty teenager seemed near impossible. Then I wrote the fist page of the book, and I understood. I knew where Jace was coming from, what he had been through, and how he became the all-too perfect guy we meet in Something Like Summer. Most of all, in the process of writing Something Like Autumn, I fell madly and deeply in love with him. As you read the book—a whopping 150,000 words that finally give Jace his due—I hope you guys will fall in love with him too.

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Something Like Autumn cover art!

I love revealing cover art. When it comes to my books, I’m a pretty humble guy. I like them, but I don’t really expect anyone else to. So while the big sales pitch is a necessity, I don’t honestly feel like screaming: “Look! I made the best thing ever!” When it comes to Andreas’s art, I feel the exact opposite. So with that in mind… *clears throat* Holy shit! Check it out! Andreas created the best thing ever!

Something Like Autumn full cover

Take a moment. Ignore the text and my clumsily worded blurb on the back. Just take in the art and feel.

Are you feeling stuff? I’m feeling stuff.

Okay, now let’s talk. This cover is a slight departure from the previous two. Summer and Winter were a pair. Summer has Ben looking at Tim. Winter has Tim looking at Ben. For this cover, I told Andreas he didn’t need to stick to that pattern and he didn’t. We have a mysterious new character in the forefront—Victor. You haven’t met him yet. He’s looking across the lake at the guy in the green shirt. That’s Jace, and yes, he has long hair. It was the nineties. You’ll have to forgive him. On what will be the back of the book, we have another look at our punky new friend as he leans up against a tree and slowly inhales cancer.

Of course once the story is released, you’ll see this art in a new context, but for now let your imagination run wild. At least until May 31st when Something Like Autumn hits the virtual shelves. I hope to see you back here then!

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Something Like Summer audiobook release and movie update!

Something Like Summer movie promo image1Wanna hear Ben and Tim talking? How about arguing? How about them… uh… well, you know! The Something Like Summer audiobook is here! This isn’t an audio play with sound effects and a cast of actors. This is a true, unabridged reading of the book, and yet narrator Kevin R. Free lends each character such a unique voice that at times it does feel like a play. The boy can act too, so be prepared to have a good time! No need to wait. Check out a free sample of the first chapter right here:

The Something Like Summer audiobook can be bought from Amazon, Audible, or iTunes. At the moment, it’s only available in digital format, so you folks still listening to shiny coasters will have to buy the files and burn them to disc. I figure the audiobook is also a great way to expose friends who don’t read to Ben, Tim, and Jace’s story. Or something to hold you over until the movie comes out.

Speaking of which, the producers of the Something Like Summer movie have released new publicity images. The one above is of Ben, although not the actual actor who will be staring in the movie. Casting hasn’t taken place yet. These images are just to get investors interested and us excited. Check out the recreation of the cover art in this image:

Something Like Summer movie promo image2

Neat, huh? The movie is currently set for a 2014 release. Sounds far away, I know, but I’ll try to help ease your pain by releasing Something Like Autumn on June 6th and Something Like Spring later this year. Assuming all goes according to plan, by the time you’ve read the complete series, the movie won’t be so far away. It’ll make a nice grand finale too, but let’s not think about the end right now. Not when things are just starting to heat up! Instead, take a look at how the Something Like Summer movie came to be in this recent article on the Huffington Post!

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Autumn Update, Summer Sounds, and another Lambda Award Finalist

Autumn RosesThe first draft of Something Like Autumn is complete! The story took me much longer to write than I expected. The reason was obvious when I checked the statistics. Weighing in at 150,000 words, Autumn is the longest book I’ve ever written. By way of comparison, Something Like Summer is about 95,000, and Something Like Winter nearly 130,000 words. Of course the editing process will trim Something Like Autumn down some, but I expect it to remain the biggest of the three books so far. While it’s still too early to guess at release dates, the most time consuming part is now over. We’re getting closer!

Speaking of Something Like Autumn, in a new interview I briefly discuss the general concept of the novel. Spoiler free, so don’t worry. I also touch on other subjects, such as what I’ll be doing ten years from now, or why I’m doing any of this in the first place. I’ve also updated the “About the Author” section of this site to include links to many of the interviews I’ve given online.

In other news, I’ve decided to commission an audio book version of Something Like Summer. The most common question I get asked, is if multiple actors will be performing different roles. There’s only one narrator assigned to the project, but believe me, he’s exceptionally talented at making his voice sound unique to each character. The audio book should be out in the next month or two. I’ll update here when it gets released and send out an email via my newsletter. If you haven’t signed up yet, please do so on the left. I only email when there is a new release, so I’m barely annoying at all!

25th Annual Lambda Literary AwardsLast but certainly not least, the Lambda Literary Awards have announced this year’s finalists… and Kamikaze Boys is one of them! Something Like Summer was a finalist last year, and it’s a great honor to be nominated again so soon. I wish David and Connor were real so I could kiss their beautiful faces! I guess the cover art will have to do. Excuse me please while I go make out with my paperback copy. Also, is it too early to pack my bags? I gotta get to New York!

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