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Something Like Winter release date and FAQ

Something Like Winter sketchesSomething Like Winter will be released on November 2nd. That’s just one month from now! To help prepare you for the occasion, I’ve prepared this spoiler free guide to everything you should know about the book before it comes out. This should tackle most of the questions I get asked, as well as a few I made up.

Q: I can’t wait to learn about Ben and Tim’s future! That’s what the book is about, right?

A: No way! An entirely new story means new conflict, and I think Ben and Tim deserve better than that, don’t you? Instead I decided to write Tim’s story, and believe me, there’s a lot you don’t know about him. Tim goes through a tremendous amount in his years away from Ben. In addition, we also get completely new scenes of Ben and Tim’s history together, both when they were younger and as adults. By the time you finish with Something Like Winter, you’ll feel like you only knew half of the story before.

Q: … But I want to know what happens after Something Like Summer.

A: That’s not a question, but I will say this: There are some unresolved issues at the end of the first book, and I did feel comfortable in addressing those. So this book does go beyond where Something Like Summer ends, giving you a glimpse of the future, even if it’s only a small one.

Q: I guess that might be good, but aren’t you just selling us the same story?

A: Something Like Winter is a whopping 127,000 words. Of those words, only about 27,000 are scenes from the first book, and even they have been rewritten completely (aside from dialog) to provide fresh perspective. Take away all the rehashed scenes, and you’re still left with a book of 100,000 words of new material. Considering that Something Like Summer is 95,000 words, you’re actually getting much more with this book.

Q: I can’t wait to see [insert favorite scene here] from Tim’s perspective.

A: You might not get to. I want Something Like Summer to remain special, so many of those favorite parts will stay exclusive to that book. There are many scenes I couldn’t avoid revisiting, like the first time Ben and Tim meet, but aside from those I wanted to explore new territory. Did Ben ever tell Tim that he loves him? What was the first time at Ben’s house like for Tim? I hope that I’ve created new scenes that will become your favorites too, and that will compliment the first book rather than replicating it.

Those are the most common inquiries I could think of, but if you have more, feel free to ask them. Naturally I won’t answer anything specific about the plot, but if you have a general question about the release, ask away. I might even update this post with new info. Oh, and the art attached to this article is a snapshot of Andreas’s sketchbook. We’re in Paris on vacation right now, but he’s still working away, the poor guy. The above image is just one of many concepts for the cover, and not one that we’re using. What he has come up with will be revealed later this month. Be sure to check back soon!

*New!*Q. What about Tim’s past before meeting Ben? Any of that goodness in there?

A. Yup! What Tim went through in Kansas is crucial to understanding his character, so there is some of that, as well as life in Texas before Mr. I-Can’t-Rollerblade crashes into him. I don’t make you wait long before he and Ben finally meet though.

*New!*Q. What sexy formats will the book be available in? Can we preorder?

A. All the usual eBook formats: Kindle, Nook, iTunes, etc. iTunes will probably be out late, since they often manually review books, especially if there are naughty parts in them. You can always use Kindle for iTunes to grab the book right away, or get an iTunes compatible format from Smashwords. A paperback version will be available too, but since I’m an indie artist, there’s not a convenient way I can set up a preorder. This is a small price to pay for getting to keep my royalties and not starve to death. Of course if I went with a traditional publisher, I’d probably have a sexier waistline. Then again, life is short. Somebody get me a cookie!

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Inspiration – From Darkness to Darkness

ColeWhen I wrote The Cat in the Cradle way back in 1863, there wasn’t a lot of music and images that inspired me as I worked. I suppose my fascination with the color spectrum was a definite influence, and I know my lifelong love of Pier’s Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series was a definite inspiration. Aside from that, the process was much different than with my later books. With From Darkness to Darkness, I started out with an image of Cole, as you can see on the left. A little bit emo and a lot a bit hot, having a photo like this was very inspiring for the character’s mood and demeanor. I don’t know the model’s name, unfortunately, but having a starting point for one of the main characters was very helpful.

Music is always a huge influence when I write. I can’t stand having it on while I’m working, but I’ll often play different songs beforehand to get in the right mood. This time, Alphaville’s Inside Out had the right vibe. The lyrics seem to be about a relationship that took a wrong turn, perhaps due to a twist of fate.

“And always I think where we might have gone, if we’d never met inside this song.”

That’s very suiting to the events of the plot, since both Cole and Dylan spend some time pondering what could have been. Naturally this song is also where I took the book’s title. I had this track and another called New Horizons playing on frequent rotation while working on this story. I obsessively hammered out the first draft in under a month, which I believe remains the fastest I’ve written any book. Something about writing fantasy leaves me exhausted, but I hope a similar fever overtakes me someday for a third installment.

NatashaGetting back to pretty pretty faces, I also had model inspiration for Natasha. She doesn’t have a large part in The Cat in the Cradle, but I enjoyed writing her enough that I wanted to give Natasha a bigger role in From Darkness to Darkness. Probably the biggest downside to writing gay romance is the main protagonist always being male. I suppose there are some creative ways around this, and I should probably take advantage of them. I’ve been blessed to have numerous strong and talented females in my life, and I’m always channeling them when I write characters like Natasha. She might appear timid or insecure at first glance, but she knows who she is, and by the end of the novel, I pity anyone that stands in her way.

The Loka Legends series feels a little bit like a pet project to me. My contemporary romances might occasionally draw on autobiographical events, but this fantasy series is like a letter to my younger self. He grew up devouring such books, and in a way I’m doing my best to entertain him. “Hey, check out these crazy magical powers and the talking cat! By the way, it’s okay to be gay and people like you can find love and have a meaningful relationship. Oh, and be sure to check out the illustrations. You’ll never guess who drew them all!” Until I get my time machine up and running, I can’t be sure if angsty younger Jay would appreciate my efforts or not, but hopefully these stories speak to the hearts of many people, no matter how young or old they might be.

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From Darkness to Darkness is out!

From Darkness to Darkness by Jay BellWhat’s the opposite of a delay? Whatever it is, that’s what going on. From Darkness to Darkness is out the gate and running for the hills. There’s no stopping it now! This is my first sequel, which is sort of a weird feeling. Usually my books sink or swim on their own merits, but this one has to politely wait in line while people judge the first book. The Cat in the Cradle was the first novel I ever published. I’d like to think I’ve grown as a writer since then, so if you enjoyed that book even in the slightest, please give From Darkness to Darkness a nibble. I think you’ll enjoy the taste. If you’re nervous about the Loka Legends series in general, you can always give Finding Fire a quick read first.

From Darkness to Darkness artFor those returning to the series, there has been one change in regard to the illustrations. Before, Andreas cranked out one drawing for each chapter, but the idea of him having to create twenty-seven more for this book seemed cruel. I also felt that there wasn’t always a suitable idea for each chapter, which is why the first book has a drawing of melons in it. It’s a lovely drawing, but hardly exciting. So we limited it to one image every fifty pages or so. The good news is that the illustrations are now full page and thus a lot more glorious. Aside from that, it’s business as usual for Dylan and his friends; Danger, romance, and hopefully a little bit of fun when they aren’t running for their lives. I hope you guys enjoy. You can start reading the first four chapters here, buying options are on the left, and the blurb is directly below. Now reread that last sentence and picture me gesturing at things like a stewardess.

From the cradle to the grave…

The Black Oligarch is dead. Some call his replacement a boy, others call him a threat. Cole lost everything the night he became Oligarch: his family, his home… even Jonah. Now he’s alone, left only with painful memories and the power to destroy the Five Lands.

When Dylan is sent to help Cole, he finds they have more in common than expected. They hope to build a new life together, but dark forces have other plans for them. The dead are rising, bringing secrets from the past that threaten to change their lives forever. Can Dylan guide a young man through the darkness and protect those he loves without making the ultimate sacrifice?

As always, be sure to let me know what you think of the new story. Something Like Winter is up next. When? Soon, I hope. I better get to work!

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Contest winners and a free short story!

Loka Legends short stories coverA huge “thank you!” to everyone who participated in the book giveaway in the previous blog post. Andreas and I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Choosing a winner was too hard, so we decided to select randomly. The winners are Paul and Jordy, but I also have something nifty to give away to everyone. Today I’m releasing a set of short stories and some cool artwork by Andreas, and it’s yours for free. One of the stories might be familiar to you. Flesh and Blood had been released previously, but I took it off the market, since I felt it was an odd introduction to the Loka Legends series. Still, I like the idea of giving readers a chance to experience that world without having to commit to a full length novel. Fantasy isn’t for everyone, but luckily I don’t write fantasy like most authors do. There’s still plenty of gay romance, even if the backdrop is a world of magic.

Now you can see for yourself. The new story Finding Fire takes place before The Cat in the Cradle, acting as a wee little prequel to the main series. Not only that, but Andreas has put together a selection of concept sketches and art that never made the final books for you to peruse in The Loka Legends Sketchbook. All three of these titles are bundled together and available free from Smashwords, where you can download the book in any format you could want. It’s also free on iTunes, and I’m hoping to get Amazon and Barnes & Noble to make it free too, but for now, Smashwords has the right formats for your Kindle and Nook. For those of you that already follow the Loka Legends series, the newest book From Darkness to Darkness will be released on September 1st! Be sure to come back here for details, or even better, sign up for my newsletter on the left-hand side there. Much love to you all!

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What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me

Published on August 23, 2012 by in Books, Gay

Hot Guys KissingAndreas and I are planning a long trip to Paris for later this year. We want to get away for a lengthy amount of time, and decided to rent a holiday apartment so we can bring the cats with us. While making the reservation, this is one of the first questions we ask. “Do you allow cats?” The next burning question is often, “Are you okay with gay people staying there?” This may seem an odd thing to ask, but when travelling long distances to stay in someone’s private property, the last thing we want is to be turned away or deal with small-minded comments. So far Andreas and I haven’t had a problem, but I suspect we aren’t the only ones to share this worry. All those gay resorts, bed and breakfasts, cruises and clubs exist for a reason. For some they are an opportunity to meet other gay people, but for others, the appeal is in the comfort of knowing you’ll be accepted and welcome.

I don’t think most straight people realize how many situations like these there are. Everyone knows that coming out is the biggest hurdle, but there are so many more obstacles to be faced. When you’re gay, something as simple as booking a hotel can cause pause, or the desire to hold another’s hand in public. There must be an exhilarating freedom that comes with being in the majority, although I suspect most take it for granted. I don’t blame them. I wish I never had to casually check our surroundings every time I kiss Andreas in public. I don’t do this because I worry someone will see. I only check to make sure no one is going to start trouble after the fact.

When I was younger and had first come out, I couldn’t understand why there were gay magazines, gay stores, gay bars, etc. I figured we’re just like anyone else, and felt we didn’t need such specialty services. But as I got older, I realized that I wanted to see two guys falling in love on the big screen. I wanted to experience stories through characters I could closely relate to—not every time, because that would be boring, but occasionally. Like those gay resorts, there’s comfort in reading a story where I know I’ll be accepted, where love, sex and relationships look just like they do in my daily life. Before The Cat in the Cradle, I wrote a similar book, a fantasy novel that stayed away from issues of sexuality. I even started on a sequel, in which was one scene where the two main characters (both male) touched. As far as I remember, the touch was innocent enough, but to me it felt like being struck by lightning. That need to see people like me in fiction, to read a story where being gay wasn’t the plot, but certainly had an effect on the story—that’s what I wanted to write. I discarded everything I’d written up to that point and started over from scratch. That’s how The Cat in the Cradle came into being, and was the beginning of everything that has followed it.

Follow the Rainbow Blog HopJust for the record, everyone is welcome to the worlds I create. Gay, straight, bi, curious, trans, even the haters and the loveless. No hotel, home, or story should be closed to any type of person. The more the merrier! Speaking of big happy families, this post is part of the Follow the Rainbow Blog Hop, to celebrate the opening of Rainbow Book Reviews. Stop by and check them out. Before you do, leave a comment below telling me why you read gay fiction, and you could win a copy of my first book, The Cat in the Cradle, or my latest, Kamikaze Boys. Two winners will be chosen on Monday by Andreas, and will have their choice of format (eBook or paperback) and which title they want.

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Glorious new cover art and a ninty-nine cent sale!

There are few things I enjoy more (sex) than revealing new cover art. Andreas always blasts his amazing talent into my book covers, and this time he’s created my all-time favorite. The cover art for From Darkness to Darkness, the sequel to The Cat in the Cradle, has actually been finished since late last year. I’ve had many opportunities to consider this image, and I fall deeper in love with it every time. So without further ado:

From Darkness to Darkness by Jay Bell

To the right we have Cole, a new character, holding aloft the magical black loka. But what is he contemplating and what does he intend to do with it? You’ll have to wait a little longer to find out. Frankly, whenever this art is around, I have a hard time to do anything but stare and drool. Not in a pervy way exactly. I’m just a sucker for nighttime scenes, a swirl of stars, and—okay, I confess—a cute guy.

I’m hoping this cover will seduce a few of you into trying the first book in the Loka Legends series. The Cat in the Cradle features twenty-five illustrations by Andreas, plus a rocking purple cover and a map of The Five Lands. Best of all, for the next week, the eBook price will be a paltry 99 cents. What could be better (sex) than a book for a buck that’s stuffed full of art, wondrous adventures, and a little gay romance? You’ll never have a better opportunity to find out! You can pick your poison on the left-hand side of this page or learn more here. Enjoy!

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