Friday, January 15, 2010

First Sale Friday: Wren Boudreau

Welcome to another installment of First Sale Friday. Today, Harmless Smut is pleased to welcome Wren Boudreau. Wren is a fellow Loose Id author that I met on the boards and begged to have on the blog.

HS: First of all, thanks for visiting Harmless Smut!

WB: THANKS for having me!!!!

HS: First of all, how long have you been writing?

WB: I guess I've been writing on and off since I was a kid. In terms of writing, um, professionally, "Ice Cream on the Side" is my very first book.

HS: LOVE that title! What attracted you to writing romance?

WB: I discovered m/m three years ago or so. Kind of stumbled upon it and wow - I was hooked immediately. Something about the dynamics of two men in a relationship really spoke to me as a reader, and I devoured a lot of books. I experienced the wonderful spectrum of quality that exists in these books. Periodically I’d say to myself, “Hey, I could do better than this.” (Then I’d read something by Josh Lanyon, or Jordan Castillo Price, or JL Langley, and I’d say, “Nah. It’s not that easy. I’ll just keep reading.”)


Then in late 2008 I stumbled across a contest a publisher was having. I literally wrote the book in a month’s time (my own private nanowrimo). Every entry was supposed to get editorial feedback, which I thought was great, since I didn’t have any beta readers or critique partners and lord knew I couldn’t ask my rl friends to review because holy crap the book has man on man sex in it! I just looked at it as a chance to see if I could write something others might want to read.


Well, I never heard back from the publisher, except for the automated we-got-your-document response. So I wallowed in bitterness and anger for a while then segued into self-pity and finally acceptance that I probably suck as a writer. A few months later, don’t know what possessed me, but I opened up the story file and re-read my book and thought, “This needs a lotta work. But it isn’t too awful.” So I revised. And sent the synopsis and three chapters to one of my favorite publishers, Loose Id.


Lo and behold! They wanted to see the whole dang thing! And after they read it, well, wonder of wonders, they wanted to publish it. And, la, here it is!



HS: That's awesome. I also got my big break from a contest. Loose Id rocks! How many manuscripts had you completed before you sold?

WB: Just the one. Neat-o, huh?

HS: That's flippin' amazing! Double congrats! Tell us about the day (the minute, the second) you received "The Call" (or email). What was your initial reaction?

WB: I’d been waiting…and waiting…a couple of emails back and forth with the editor I was working with at Loose Id gave me the sense that I would hear from management soon. One part of me felt pretty confident, because the editor had thought it good enough to send on up the ladder. Another part of me felt very unsure and kept coming up with little pep talks: It’ll be okay, maybe you’ll get some insights into what needs to change. There are other publishers to try. If you get rejected it’s not you personally they’re rejecting. Et cetera.

My husband and I were off on a cruise! So I had my laptop with me (‘cause y’know I had to be able to keep in touch with my college-age son in case of emergency, right?) and sure enough, while cruising off the coast of the U.K. I received the email that said “Welcome to Loose Id!” I read that a couple times to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating. Then I did the “hey guess what” thing with my husband. Did the happy dance. Smiled a lot.


HS: That's a great story! What did you do to celebrate after?

WB: We went to dinner at the nicest restaurant on the ship - the one where you have to pay extra. Had Asti Spumante (my fav) and talked about how cool it was that my book was going to be published.

HS: Nice way to celebrate. Anyone whom you wanted to rub their nose in it?

WB: Oh, it sounds so petty, but yeah, that first publishing company that never followed up. I got over that quickly, though.

HS: Success will do that for you! Tell us about your current release.

WB: “Ice Cream on the Side” was released on Dec. 8. It’s on the Loose Id website: http://www.loose-id.com/Ice-Cream-on-the-Side.aspx


Blurb:

Dylan Forest is really pretty happy. He’s a successful architect, lives in a great little town, and has good friends. More than ten years ago, Dylan’s first boyfriend betrayed him. Since then he’s learned to appreciate men briefly and intensely, with no lingering complications. But Dylan finds himself wanting something more with Michael Gilmore, the new art teacher in town.

Michael moved to Raven Pass to get away after a bad break-up. He just wants to teach and he’s got an exhibit of his own work coming up. He doesn’t expect to find himself attracted to anyone just yet. He has to give up his fear so he can explore a possible relationship with Dylan.

The guys manage to get past their insecurities and into bed, where they find out just how compatible they are. Before their romance gains momentum, however, life gets complicated. An old dead body and a new murder are both connected to Dylan’s love life, and it appears that Michael will be next.

What’s going on? And can Dylan and Michael stop it before it stops them?

Excerpt:


The pile from the backpack was an interesting assortment of things: tins of charcoals and pastels, pencils of different sizes, crumpled papers, an orange, several sketch pads, an iPod, headphones, tubes of acrylics, a six-inch wooden manikin, and a notebook computer.

The whole thing reminded me of Mary Poppins’s carpetbag. “If I stuck my arm in your backpack, would I pull up a hat rack?”

He didn’t bat an eye. “No, but you might get a floor lamp.”

Michael used the computer to make notes and write an outline of our plan. His fingers flew over the keyboard. When I tried to think, my eyes were drawn to his hands, and thoughts of architecture were replaced with thoughts of what those hands would feel like… I had to get up and move around the room in order to speak coherent sentences.

Eventually, my stomach pointed out that I hadn’t eaten yet by growling loud enough to be heard in New Jersey. Michael stopped typing and tilted his head to listen.

“Sorry,” I said. “Snack time?”

“Good idea.” He closed the laptop, set it off to the side, and stretched his arms toward the ceiling. My mouth watered when his stretch exposed a strip of skin at the bottom of his shirt. I turned rapidly toward the fridge and stuck my head in, hoping the cold would wash all the way to my cock.

“Do you feel like veggies and dip, or chips and salsa?” I yelled from the bowels of my Amana.

“Definitely chips and salsa.” His voice sounded from right next to me, and I nearly gave myself a concussion when I jumped. My scowl was lost on him; he only grinned at me when I straightened up. I handed him the salsa, and he poured it in a bowl while I dumped the chips into a basket. We each grabbed another beer and returned to the table, sitting at the far end away from the mass of papers strewn about. Michael turned his chair to face out toward the deck. Our conversation turned from our project to other topics.

I discovered, among other things, that he was originally from western Pennsylvania, had two sisters and a brother, graduated from my alma mater -- Penn State -- with a major in art education and a minor in graphic design, and at twenty-six, was six years younger than me. He learned that I was born not far from right here, my mother died when I was ten, my favorite thing to do was design buildings and landscapes, and gardening was a stress-relieving hobby.

I was just about to ask him about the kind of music he liked when I noticed a glop of salsa at the corner of his mouth. “You’ve got some, um, salsa, there.” I tried to point without pointing, to, you know, be polite.

“Where?” He rubbed at the wrong side of his mouth.

“No, the other side.”

He wiped a spot on his cheek. “Did I get it?”

“Here,” I said and scooped the offending sauce off with my thumb, which somehow then ended up in his mouth.

I watched with fascination as he sucked gently, pulling the digit in, swirling his tongue around it, his eyes closed as if this were the best thing he’d ever tasted. My other fingers rested on his face, feeling the suction through his cheek. He pulled back and opened his eyes; I got lost in them for a minute. When I moved my hand to the back of his neck and drew him to me, he gave no resistance. Our lips met, flavored with salt and salsa. We shared a series of little kisses, tasting each other gently.

He had turned his chair around, and we sat facing each other. His hands rested on my biceps, and my hands slid to his chest -- where they noticed that Michael did have more interesting piercings.

The soft little kisses grew stronger. The more I had, the more I wanted.

Without moving his lips away, Michael said, “I’ve wanted to kiss you since I met you.”

“So kiss me,” I mumbled back.

I caught his tongue with mine and sucked on it, a hopeful foreshadowing of events to follow. He pulled on my bottom lip with his teeth. The frenzy meter ratcheted up, our lips and tongues exploring, probing, claiming. I felt his hand in my hair, and my own hand twisted his shirt. Breathing became a secondary need, behind tasting. When air proved to be necessary, we slid back into short, small kisses. It didn’t take long for me to feel refreshed, and I plunged back into kissing him deeply, rolling my tongue across and under his teeth. He groaned when I held his face between my palms and bit lightly at his lips. He tried to take back control, but I couldn’t get enough of tasting him.

His tug on my hair pulled me away enough to look in his eyes. “Dylan,” he whispered.

“Shh,” I said. “A moment.” We were still, just breathing, and I could feel the reverberation of each kiss.

He gave me that moment; then he leaned back. “Wow.” His hands slipped away from my shoulders as he stood up. He walked to the sliding glass door and leaned against the jamb, staring out across the hills. This did not seem like a good sign to me. I didn’t know if I should follow or back away. I opted for the middle road, stood up but stayed near my chair.

He turned toward me.

“I…that was…” He shook his head. “I’ve never been kissed like that.”

“That makes two of us. Why are you over there?”

He looked out the window again. “I’m overwhelmed. This wasn’t what I expected.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“Neither. Both. I’m not sure.” He crossed the room to where his belongings were piled. “I have to go… I need to think.”

“Michael, no. I want you to stay.” This time I did follow him, stopping just within reach.
He threw his things into the backpack. I grabbed his hands to hold them still. “Listen. I maybe didn’t do this right. I moved too fast.” He stared up at me, waiting. “I like you, and I don’t want to screw this up.” I thought about the different men I’d been with and how everything with them happened so fast because there was so little time for it. I realized I was walking new ground, here. “I’m sorry I scared you.”

He clenched my hands. “No…don’t…I think I scared myself. You remember I told you about the relationship I’d been in?”

I nodded.

“When I left, I promised myself that I would not jump into another one. I can’t do things part way.” He let go of me, and his pacing emphasized the words he spoke quietly. “Tim -- my ex -- and I, we were together almost a year, and I completely misread him. I was so excited about our being together -- I was looking at houses and furniture, but he was looking at other men. Our arguments left me realizing that I expected too much -- made too many big plans. Tim said some cruel things to me, but he made me think about not only ours, but other relationships I’d been in. I leap too quickly. I can’t trust myself.” He stopped moving, shrugged, and gave a little unhappy laugh. “My mom used to tell me I was too passionate about, well, everything. My brother used to tell me I was a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.”

He suddenly looked so very young. I felt like a lecher. I wanted to rewind back to where we were building a friendship. Before I could say anything, he continued.

“I thought I’d learned my lesson, but you were so unexpected. And it threw me.”

I’ve been called a lot of things, but “unexpected” was a new one. “I’m not sure I’m following you.”

His pacing brought him to the opposite side of the table. He leaned on it. “I never expected that I would find anyone like you in this place. You’re smart. Funny. Kind. Gorgeous. I’ve been thinking about that kiss for so long, I was sure the reality would never live up to the fantasy. I was wrong. It was better.”

I stood speechless. No one had ever said anything like that to me. I replayed his words in my head a few times so I wouldn’t forget them.

A sigh came from deep in his chest as he shoved his belongings into his bag. “It scares the shit out of me.” He zipped up the backpack and headed to the front door.

I tried to shake off the fog that was swirling around my head and stopped him with my hand on his arm. “Wait. Can’t we work through this together?”

“I just need a little time. I don’t want to go into anything blinded by my fantasies. And I don’t want to ruin something with exploding baggage before it begins.” A look of fear passed over his face. “Oh, God, have I ruined it already?”

I was too flummoxed to answer anything with conviction. “No, no, you haven’t ruined it. I think we both have baggage we need to unpack.”

Michael gave me a shaky smile and reached up to kiss me on the cheek. As he opened the door and stepped out, he said, “I will call you. I know that sounds stupid, but I promise I will.”

Before I could think of anything else to say, he was gone.


HS: Whew! Excuse me for a sec...

I'm back! Tell me you're working on something now!

WB: I’m in the very, very beginning stages of a new m/m romance. It may have shape-shifters of the wolfy kind. A tortured alpha male, a sweet beta boy. I don’t want to say more because I have learned that what you start out with may not be what you end up with!

HS: Wolves? I'm in! Any advice for the "Soon to be Published"?

WB: Read. A lot. Get a sense of what you like and what you don’t like. Read reviews of books in the genre you’re going to write in. Notice the differences of opinion between reviewers and hone in on the constructive criticisms they offer. I never really thought too much about why I liked or didn’t like a book until I started reading reviews. The really good reviewers give valid, well-thought-out reasons for their opinions, which made me look closer at the books I was reading and gave me new insights. Start writing. I am a first-class procrastinator, which is why it took a contest to get me moving - that provided the deadline I needed. So if you need one of those, make something up! Just write.

HS: Great advice! Now for some fun stuff! Tell us something about you that would surprise us.

WB: I am seriously shy. In my senior year of high school I was in a very small seminar class. Near the end of the year, in the midst of a discussion about our particular personalities, one of my classmates leaned toward me and said, “All this time I thought you were stuck up! And it’s just that you’re shy!” It suddenly was clear to me why I’d had such a hard time making friends. *sigh* I’m not much better at it now, but at least I know what’s going on! And on the interwebz, nobody knows you’re shy…or whatever.

HS: Gotta love the internet! Boxers or briefs on your man?

WB: Why limit oneself?

HS: Good point! Who's your ideal hero?

WB: I’ve always (well, at least since 1977) been partial to Han Solo. I still swoon if I happen to come across the very first Star Wars.

HS: If you could have sex with one celebrity, who would it be?

WB: Hugh Jackman…wait…George Clooney…. Alexander Skarsgard….hold on…Gilles Marini…no..Ryan Reynolds. Oh crap, I’ll have to try them all. I’ll get back to you.

HS: What's the funniest or most interesting line you've ever read in a book or written?

WB: There are a bajillion in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books.

Here’s just one, from “Death Masks”:


Susan: “Elevator?”

Harry: “Stairs, if they have them. If someone shoots at us on stairs, we can scream and flail around a lot more."


HS: Good one! Facial hair or no? Chest hair? No hair on any part of the body (your partner, of course, not you)?

WB: Glad you made it clear this wasn’t about me! Not super keen on facial hair, but a closely cropped bit is okay. Some body hair is acceptable, but not furry (unless he’s a shifter and he’s…shifted) because then when you get to the licking part the loose hairs stick to your tongue and then there is that awkward moment where you have to fish hairs out of your mouth or worse yet they get caught in your throat. But long hair (on his head, I mean) trumps all. I am so a sucker for the long-haired boy. *Sigh*

HS: Great answers! Thanks, Wren, for joining us here at Harmless Smut!

What are you waiting for, readers? GO BUY!!

Later Gators!




7 comments:

Chris said...

*waves at Wren and Monica*

Harry Dresden DOES get the best lines, doesn't he?!

I notice you didn't mention your more immediate V-Day project here, Wren. ;)

msabbywood said...

What a fantastic way to break into the biz. Congrats on your book, it sounds great!

jessewave said...

Hi Wren
Great interview. Love all the new information about how you broke into being published and you know I loved Ice Cream on the Side.

Lots of luck with the new book.

wren boudreau said...

Hello! Thanks to Monica for interviewing me!

Chris: When I completed the interview, the Valentine's Day project was still kind of a radar blip.

msabbywood: Thanks!

Wave: How on earth did you have time to post here with all the activity going on at your site? You're amazing!

Lynn Lorenz said...

Wren, it's so great to have you at Loose Id with the rest of us crazy manlove fans!

And you never know about those friends, they just might surprise you in their choice of reading.

wren boudreau said...

Thanks, Lynn, and you're right - you just never know who's on the bandwagon!

Monica Kaye said...

Thanks for visiting Wren! Great interview and I hope you'll come back soon.

Monica