Hi everyone! Today I am thrilled to welcome back the lovely Anne Tenino to Joyfully Jay! Anne is here as part of our Joyful Approach: Countdown to GRL and she is talking to us about her love of the series. She is also giving away TWO copies of her upcoming book in the Theta Alpha Gamma series, Good Boy. So please join me in giving Anne a big welcome!
I love series books. I used to plan out the consumption of them carefully. When one of my favorite authors would start a new series, I’d buy that first book but not necessarily read it—I’d horde it like fine chocolate (as insurance against the inevitable cacao pod blight that’s going to occur someday soon). I’d chart my eventual reading of the series based on how many books were on the docket and when they’d be released.
Why do I love series so much? I think it boils down to secondary characters. Good stories tend to have well-developed supporting casts that make the plot fuller. The main characters should be the stars, but those secondaries are very, very important to fully flesh out, which eventually leads us readers (and writers as it turns out) along the path to developing empathy for them, emotional connectedness, and ultimately wishing for them to have a happy ending. And let me be clear—their happy ending must come when they’re the main character of a subsequent story, not while they’re playing second fiddle in someone else’s plotline.
So, when I started authoring my own stories, I was primed for series books. I knew I’d be writing at least one series at a time, and probably write a few stand-alones.
To date, I haven’t written a stand-alone novel, novella, short story, or sentence. (Well, maybe a sentence.) I’ve tried, but invariably by the second or third chapter, I’m imagining how this friend of main character A will behave when his number comes up in Cupid’s lottery.
Such was the case with Frat Boy and Toppy. As soon as I introduced Collin (first sentence, mind you), I knew he’d get a book. Oh, I started out thinking I’d write about this closeted frat boy, and then I’d move back into the world of futuristic scifi, leaving erotic contemporary romance behind like a bastard child (to keep company with my erotic contemporary romance red-headed step-child, Whitetail Rock). But I gave in to the inevitable by about chapter ten of FB&T and wrote out a basic plot for the series. By that point I’d conceived of the character of Toby also. I decided to hook up Collin and Toby in a future book, have a two-book series, and be done.
Collin and Toby weren’t that into each other. I mean, they’re friends, but romance? Not interested.
Clearly, Theta Alpha Gamma would be a trilogy then.
Except then there was Paul . . . I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. By the time FB&T came out, I was saying I’d be writing a trilogy, but within a month I’d started writing Paul’s book, Love, Hypothetically, meaning there’d now be a fourth story. Paul ended up with a novella, not a full novel, but all the same, my trilogy had expanded.
So, after L,H came out, I took a step back and analyzed things. How is it that these secondary characters need their own stories? Well, obviously it’s because I made them all single to begin with. Clearly, the solution to preventing unplanned sequels (much like unplanned pregnancies. Or maybe not, actually) is to have secondary characters who are in solid relationships.
Having all the answers, I firmly took myself in hand and began the third (and next to last) story in the series, Sweet Young Thang. This is the story of Collin and Eric, the man Collin was far more interested in than Toby. So I’m writing along, reintroducing previous characters such as Brad and Sebastian, Toby (single, but already has a book planned), Paul and Trevor, and then things take a sudden and unforeseen turn: Brad and Sebastian had an argument, with Collin at the center of it, and suddenly they needed a short story (very short, I assured myself, less than 5,000 words) to work things out.
I began writing it immediately, knowing by that time that if I didn’t, I’d dwell on it and distract myself from my other projects. It would only take me three or four days, right?
A month later, I had a 17,000-word novella titled Good Boy (not to be confused with the next book in the TAG series, tentatively titled Poster Boy—the last book, I swear. Really). Good Boy will be released October 7 by Riptide Publishing, and is available for preorder now (click on the title).
The mistake I made here was in not giving Brad and Sebastian a true Happily Ever After ending in Frat Boy and Toppy, but now I’ve done so. And you can be sure I did so in Sweet Young Thang as well, so we won’t have that problem cropping up again (I’m not listening to those of you saying “But what about Love, Hypothetically?”).
In case you weren’t keeping count, the Theta Alpha Gamma trilogy is now five stories. But that’s it, I swear. All the other frat boys are either hooked up, with firm happy endings or they aren’t gay. Period.
And if you think you saw a character in Sweet Young Thang who isn’t hooked up and might be gay? It was a figment of your imagination. Nanananananana, I can’t hear you, nanananananana.
About Theta Alpha Gamma
It’s been said that frat boys are “living the last of the staunchly heterosexual lifestyles” but it appears the Theta Alpha Gamma members didn’t get the memo—brothers keep coming out of the closet. What’s a frat to do?
First, be accepting; understanding, even—or at least fake it ’til you make it. Second, declare your frat house a Greek Love Zone. Third, institute Sensitivity Training. Led enthusiastically by the new president, Kyle—founding member of Theta Alpha Gay & Straight Alliance—TAG is coming out to the world as the safest fraternity for gay boys to let it all hang out.
The hallowed, traditional frat kegger will never be the same again…
Frat Boy & Toppy
Brad is great at meeting other people’s expectations. But his own? Not so much. Take the gay thing. Okay, so yeah. It took a morning meeting with a frat brother’s hairy, naked ass for him to admit it, but he knows the truth about himself now. Let the gay life commence.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. He hasn’t quite determined how to come out to anyone, even Sebastian, the geeky-hot TA in his history class. Sebastian is everything Brad is not. Intellectual, suave, hairy. Out. And he doesn’t seem interested in Brad, even when Brad makes a fool of himself trying to catch his notice.
Score one for foolery: Sebastian does more than notice Brad; he takes him to bed. Brad’s been with plenty of girls, but with Sebastian, the sex is something else entirely—hot, mind-blowing, affirming, and a little domineering in a way that drives him wild. But when great sex turns into something more—dare he admit the “L” word?—Brad must face the crushing realization that Sebastian doesn’t feel the same. Unless, of course, he does. After all, even grad students can be idiots about matters of the heart.
Paul’s been called many things—graduate student, humanities tutor, jock-hater, even broke—but “forgiving” isn’t one of them. When the new women’s softball coach at Calapooya College specifically requests Paul to tutor his athletes, Paul’s forced to put aside his strict “no athletes” policy for the sake of his paycheck.
Enter Trevor Gardiner, former Major League Baseball player and Paul’s high school boyfriend. Yeah, that one—the guy who sacrificed Paul for the safety of his closet and his future career. But Trevor’s come out and retired from baseball, and now he’s looking for forgiveness and a second chance.
There’s no earthly reason Paul should give him one, but he keeps letting the man state his case. And touch him. And take him sailing. The waters are far from smooth, though, and Paul says awful things to Trevor he isn’t sure he means. Now Paul has to decide: apologize and forgive Trevor for everything, or chalk it up as revenge and move on.
Sweet Young Thang
When Plan A fails, turn to Man A.
Thanks to Collin Montes, Theta Alpha Gamma now welcomes gay and bisexual students. Persuading his Uncle Monty, president of the TAG Alumni Association, that the open approach won’t adversely affect TAG’s reputation is Collin’s own first step toward coming out. As long as there are no repercussions, he’ll escape the closet by graduation.
Enter repercussions, stage left: someone rigs the TAG House water heater to launch through the ceiling, then plants a bomb—thankfully unsuccessful—in the fraternity’s basement. Now Collin has his hands full not only trying to convince his uncle that this might not be the work of homophobes, but also dealing with a fratful of brothers worried about their kegger fridge.
Paramedic Eric Dixon can’t stop thinking about the kid he met during a call at his former college fraternity house. The age gap between them is trumped by sexy eyes, so when Eric sees Collin again at the bomb scene, he pursues him. Soon, Eric is dreaming of being a househusband, fighting to keep Collin safe from whoever’s trying to destroy the fraternity, and helping his sweet young thang realize that repercussions sometimes have silver linings.
Brad “Frat Boy” Feller and Sebastian “Toppy” DeWitt have been together for nine months, and their relationship is as hot as ever. The only cloud Brad sees on their horizon is Sebastian’s stress over his thesis. And their uncertain future together after graduation. And how Sebastian sometimes takes Brad for granted. And Sebastian’s unwillingness to introduce Brad to his father.
Other than that, everything’s awesome.
All of Sebastian’s energy is currently devoted to his thesis, and getting into a top-notch PhD program. Fortunately, his boyfriend takes care of all the domestic stuff and Sebastian’s needs. Any minor strain between them will disappear and they’ll return to the status quo after Sebastian graduates. As long as nothing upsets their delicate balance in the meantime.
Then a friend Brad once had a small fling with is forced to take refuge with them, and Frat Boy and Toppy’s delicate balance topples like an elephant on a waterski. Now Sebastian has to face some truths about how he’s been treating Brad, what he wants for their future, and what he has to do to get it.
Anne has brought TWO ebook copies of her upcoming release, Good Boy, to give away. To enter, just leave a comment at the end of this post. The contest closes Wednesday, September 18th at 11:59 pm EST. Prizes will be awarded after the book’s release on October 5th.
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