Jeff & Will love the Happily Ever After Collective, a subscription service that began in July and offers four new, exclusive books, focused on a specific trope, each month. Romance author Avery Flynn joins us to talk about why she created the HEA Collective, how it works, and how its been received by authors and readers so far.
Rien Gray and Sera Taíno, two authors who have released queer romances as part of the Collective, are also here to talk about their books, what they like about the collective, and what’s coming up next for them.
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Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Happily Ever After Collective:
- Happily Every After Collective Patreon | website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok
- Avery Flynn website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Rien Gray website | Newsletter | Twitter
- Sera Taíno website | Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram
- Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
- Husband Material by Alexis Hall
- Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly
- Annabeth Albert on Amazon
- Cat Sebastian on Amazon
- Her Wolf in the Wild by Rien Gray
- Love Kills Twice (Fatal Fidelity Book 1) by Rien Gray
- A Delicious Dilemma by Sera Taíno
- The Best Man’s Problem by Sera Taíno (pre-order until February 21, 2023)
- The Trouble with Exes by Sera Taíno (pre-order until April 25, 2023)
- R.L. Merrill on Amazon
- A Fashionable Deception by Sera Taíno at the Happily Ever After Collective (part of the October novellas)
- KinnPorsche on IQ.com
- Double Exposure by Rien Gray at the Happily Ever After Collective (part of the August novellas)
- Episode 397 – Summer Reads Reviewed (includes Jeff’s review of Double Exposure)
- Leverage on Amazon Prime Video
- Ocean’s Eight on Amazon Prime Video
- Bound on Amazon Prime Video
- A Lady for the Duke by Alexis Hall
- For the Love of April French by Penny Aimes
- This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
- The Gunrunner and Her Hound by Maria Ying
- Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
- Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
- Everything Everywhere All at Once on Amazon Prime Video
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast Links
- Rainbow Romance Reader Report Subscription Sign Up
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: Coming up on this episode, we’re joined by the organizer behind the Happily Ever After Collective, romance author Avery Flynn, as well as two authors who’ve released books in the Collective, Rien Gray and Sera Taíno.
Will: Welcome to episode 405 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of queer romance fiction. I’m Will and with me, as always, is my cohost and husband, Jeff.
Jeff: Hello, Rainbow Romance Reader. It’s great to have you back for another episode of the show.
I’m so happy that we’re talking about the Happily Ever After Collective. I think when Will showed it to me when it first started coming up in July, I was like, that’s really cool. You’ll hear me talk about, in these interviews we’re doing this week, that it reminds me of like old school book club. You’d get your selections for the month. You might mark a little card, you’d send it back, you’d get some books. I think this is a really interesting way for people to perhaps check out new authors.
Both Rien and Sera are new to me and I have really enjoyed their book so far. Given all the new ways that we have to get books, whether it’s this way or book boxes, I think this is really cool.
Will: Yeah, I’ve enjoyed the books that I’ve read through the Collective as well. And I also love how the authors who are part of the Collective are pushing for new ways to be innovative within the genre.
Jeff: So we’re gonna find out where this idea came from as we kick off our discussion on the HEA Collective with romance author Avery Flynn.
Avery Flynn Interview
Jeff: Avery, welcome to the podcast. It’s awesome to have you here.
Avery: Thank you so much for having me. Really appreciate it.
Jeff: Yeah. So excited to talk about The Happily Ever After Collective, it’s gonna be so much fun.
Jeff: Before we get into that though, please introduce yourself to our listeners and let them know what you write.
Avery: So, I am Avery Flynn. I write mostly contemporary romance. Some of it is just sort of giggle-inducing, and some of it gets, you know, put under the hot rom-com thing. I will say my illustrated covers are deserved. I rarely kill people, if I do they deserved it, and it’s a little sexier sometimes than people are expecting, but yeah, nobody dies, I don’t make anyone cry. That’s not my jam.
Jeff: Excellent. Now, for our readers who haven’t discovered The Happily Ever After Collective yet, tell them what this is about because it’s kind of a new way that we’ve seen to distribute some books within the romance genre.
Avery: Yeah. I like to think of it as happiness in your email. So, what it is is you get up to four novellas every month, all of the novellas, you get to pick which ones you want, so it’s choice. Especially this day and age, sometimes it’s hard to find the time to read, find the brain space to read, so novellas are kinda perfect for that quick stop and enjoyment factor, so you’re still reading and getting that romance high without as much time and brain commitment that sometimes you’re not able to offer.
So, it’s four novellas a month. All of the novellas circle around the same trope, which we think is really fun. And I think one of my favorite things about it so far has been, you know, romance sometimes takes a knock for it’s too formulaic or whatever, but it is so great to see all of the authors start in the same place, with the same trope, and see all of the many different ways that people go. It is just phenomenal, I love that. Every month you are guaranteed a romance with a main character or both main characters who are queer. Every month you are guaranteed to get novellas where the main characters are Black, Indigenous, People of Color. All of the sub-genres I think we cover throughout the year, so it might be historical, it might be contemporary, it might be paranormal, romantic suspense, all that fun stuff. And it just gives you a chance to kind of have a surprise every month on what’s coming, and a little bit of that romance happy.
Jeff: You cannot get enough of romance happy?
Avery: No, no.
Jeff: What was your inspiration to bring this together? Because it seems like big idea that it also involves a lot of execution.
Avery: Well, I’m a Virgo, so logistics are my happy place absolutely 100%. But, you know, I love romance. I love reading romance. I have been lucky enough in the…geez, how long have I been doing this? Eleven years I’ve been doing this, to meet phenomenal authors, and I just love pretty much everything about romance. And I love the amount of variety that you can get in romance. There’s a romance for every person, for every mood, for whatever it is that you want.
So, my idea was really just to find a way to number one, as a reader, what would make me happy as a reader is having, you know, all of the romance I could get. So, there was that, and then as an author, what’s really fun about this is, you know, a lot of times we’re contractually obligated or our readers expect a certain thing from us, and sometimes we wanna stretch our wings out a little bit, right? So, all of the authors that came in got their choice of what kind of sub-genre they wanted to write, what kind of storyline they wanted to go with, whether they wanted to make it super-angsty or, you know, things like that. We have somebody who is known for her rom-coms that’s coming up, and she wrote a paranormal. And she just had the absolute most fun in the world of it and that’s just not something she gets a chance to write, so it sort of made both sides of my reader and author happy.
Jeff: And we didn’t really mention as you were going through it, this is all happening on Patreon. This is where you get the books, where you interact with the authors. Because you’re also, on top of getting the books, there’s author chats that go on and a whole bunch of other interesting stuff as well.
Avery: Yeah. So, the authors have been really great. They put together sort of behind-the-scenes posts, behind the novellas type of thing. So, it might be, “Hey, here’s the Spotify list that I listened to on repeat writing this.” “Here are recipes that were inspired.” “Here’s what got me really thinking about writing this book.” Those types of posts.
And then we’ve got author chats on Zoom every month, which are super fun. And if you miss it live, we post it on the Patreon afterward, so you can enjoy it afterward. Surprisingly, one of the things that gets a lot of patrons really excited is we post a poll every month at the end of the month and ask people to guess which authors are gonna be in the next month because that’s always a surprise and people have a lot of fun on that. And I’ve gotten messages from folks saying, “I got one right,” and so, you know, it’s the little things that bring you joy.
Jeff: Because it’s quite the guessing game too, especially in these early days because there’s 48 authors. And, of course, the number available for the next one will decrease over time because they’ll be fewer of them that haven’t done it yet, but yeah, it’s like, “Who do I think will do this?” And as you said, now that they’re branching out and going to other genres, it’s not easy to necessarily pick.
Avery: Right. Exactly, yeah. The one I’m really most excited about is seeing what people do with the secret baby trope that’s coming up next year. So, secret baby / surprise pregnancy, I think was what we did with it. And there’s gonna be…that’s not a trope…that’s a trope that some people really love and some people really hate, so I am really interested to see what happens.
Jeff: And as an author, it’s not easy to decide what to do with that either because…
Avery: Right. Yeah. So, that’ll be interesting to see what they come up with on that.
Jeff: That’s gonna be fun. How did you find the 48 authors to go in on this experiment?
Avery: So, I’ve been in this business like I said for, like, 11 years. I’ve been super lucky to make some connections with amazing authors. And so, sort of branch started there and then had got recommendations from people, other people to invite in. We had some people that were unable to join, but they were like, “Oh my gosh, you have to check this person out. This person would be great for it.”
And it’s really cool because some of the authors are, you know, New York Times bestselling authors, some of them have been around for, you know, years and years. And then we’ve got more baby authors, I would say, that are up and comers within the industry, so it gives you a chance to…there’s a wide variety of people to pick from. It’s not just always the usual suspects, so that was really fun too. Basically, I just ask. I figure the worst they can say is no, so I just ask.
Jeff: And I love that there are authors in there that people will find who are new to them and who are baby authors like Rien Gray from the August set of books. It was romantic suspense, it was a heist, so I’m like, “I have to read this book.” And then, my God, it was amazing, and now I want to read more of what they write.
Avery: Yes. They are amazing. And yes, that’s pretty much all I can say. Yeah, and that’s the thing is it’s super…it’s just…you know that high you get when you discover somebody that you haven’t read before and you’re like… It’s really joyful to click with somebody’s books and then to fall down that rabbit hole like you said, to go through that backlist is…and then you come up like a month later gasping, but you’re so happy.
Jeff: Yeah. They’ve got a whole series that I need to go off and, you know, add to my TBR and then make the time to read it, of course.
Avery: Yes. It’s really good. Yes.
Jeff: Possibly even more difficult than bringing together 48 authors, how do you decide the tropes? There are so many tropes, and variations of tropes, and tropes that everybody loves and, you know, some like secret baby that are a little more, you know, splitting the difference on likes, but narrowing it down to 12.
Avery: Narrowing it down to 12 was actually really hard. So what I tried to do was just sort of look because this was our pilot program, right? We had no idea if anybody would even enjoy this or like this. I had no idea when I was setting it up if any of the authors would even say yes, so. So, what I did was I kind of looked through a lot of the chatter within authors in the reading community, and seeing what kind of books people really kind of reacted to, or, you know, what tropes people were like, “Oh my God, that’s my favorite one.” So, like, for example, just one bed. Just one bed is such a huge, you know, reader-high, and as an author, I love writing just one bed. So, you know, that’s sort of how we picked was just looking at some of the more popular ones.
Jeff: Nice. I can’t wait to see what else comes this year.
Avery: It’s a good time. That’s all I can tell you, is it’s a good time.
Jeff: How was the author reaction as you were putting this together to this very different way to offer books through Patreon, through keeping things, you know, exclusive within that sphere for some amount of time. It’s very new, and sometimes, you know, new kind of scares people a little bit.
Avery: Well, I probably gave them more information than they ever wanted when I put the pitch out, again, Virgo. So, you know, listing all of the different, what would happen, how we would pick stories, how readers would choose stories. I had, you know what, some great talks with people who were unable to participate, who gave me really great feedback on saying, “Hey, you might look at being able to do this as well,” and I was like, “Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. So, let’s snag that idea and scoot that in.”
So, it was really great the amount of feedback that came back, people had questions and they asked. I’m honestly kind of in awe because not only are people trusting this thing that is a little bit different, I’m sure somebody else has done this at some point in time, I just couldn’t find anything. If they had, it probably would’ve made it easier to set up. But, you know, I’m really in awe and super thankful that people trusted me not just with their books, and that this would be a pretty seamless and easy process for the authors, but also their money. You know, that’s a big trust, yes, so I’m thankful, good people.
Jeff: It’s relatively early days. You launched in August, a soft launch in July, we’re talking towards the end of September, how’s the subscriber reaction been so far to this method? It, to me, kind of makes me think of like book boxes to a degree because you subscribe to something and get something, or because of my age, you know, back in the day where it’s like, “You’re in this book club and here’s your selections for the month, and you can check one” or, you know, whatever. That’s also kind of what it hearkens back to a little bit for me.
Avery: Yeah. Absolutely. You know, it is sort of, like, a digital book box really, where you get to pick all the goodies. The readers, we’ve got, I wanna say just north of 250 patrons right now, which is amazing because again, from a reader perspective that is, it’s something new and weird and how is this gonna work? We deliver the novellas through Prolific Works.
I wish there was a way to do it through Patreon so we could keep everything on that platform. I have yet to figure out how to do that, and unfortunately, Patreon hasn’t either, so if anybody knows a workaround, you know, let me know. So, people have reacted really well to it. Folks have enjoyed the stories. We’re getting a lot of folks who are watching the Zoom chats afterward, who’re submitting questions. That’s the other part that’s fun, is people are sending in questions for the Zoom chat with the authors. And so, I think the level of interaction has been really good and the stories are kind of a pain because you’ve gotta sideload them, but beyond that, the reaction has been really good from readers.
Jeff: And at least a sideload from Prolific Works is not terrible. Probably most people have done it because of a newsletter promo or something else that’s gone on out in the community that they already are familiar with that platform, which might actually be easier than having to make them learn Patreon from that angle.
Avery: That is a really good point, yes. Yes, that is really true. But you know what? What’s been great about the readers as well is they have reached out when they’ve had questions, and so I’m like, “Oh, that explanation totally made sense in my head, but it obviously didn’t make sense to everybody outside of my head.” So, they’ve been great about giving a heads-up on, “Hey, this is a little confusing” or “We would love it if you could add this.”
A good example is we had somebody join and they sent out a message and said…you know, our top tier was four novellas a month, and they were like, “I really wanna catch up on the ones that I missed.” So, we responded to that by adding another tier, that’s five novellas, so you can still keep up with the four novellas that are new and yet at the same point in time catch up on the ones that you’ve missed, so that’s really fun too.
Jeff: That’s good to know because I was gonna ask how people can catch up if they’re, you know, subscribing after they hear this and want to get something in the backlist.
Avery: Yeah. So, no matter what tier you’re on, you get to pick which story you want. So, it could be, you know, “Hey, I’m gonna go with the two-novella level and just pick which ones I want and then go from there,” or you could be like, “I’m all in, both feet,” and go to the five-novella tier. But yeah, folks have been really pretty good about that in letting us know sort of what they want, and we’ve been flexible enough to try and figure out a way to get that to them.
Jeff: That’s very cool. Again, early days, but what are you thinking for future of the Collective?
Avery: Well, so far, even though it’s early days, I’m hoping… Like I said, this was a pilot program from us to even see if it would work. I’m hoping that we’re able to carry this on, you know, into the future as long as, basically, readers want it. It’s a really fun way for authors to be able to experiment, try something new, do something fun. I think it’s a great way for readers to discover new authors and then also get something from maybe an author that they love that they can’t get anywhere else.
I’m sorry, I’m really guilty of that where I’m like, “Oh, wait. I can’t get this anywhere else. Oh, I have to have it then.” So, as a reader, I’m super guilty of that, so being able to offer that is really fun.
We love book recommendations here because, of course, it is everything among the romance readers to share. What have you been reading in the queer romance space lately that our listeners should go grab if they haven’t already?
Avery: All right. What I have been reading. Okay. So, I’m really late on some things because that’s me. “Husband Material,” Alexis Hall, I loved “Boyfriend Material.” I finally started “Husband Material,” so I’m a little behind on that one.
And then the other most recent one that I loved a lot, illustrated cover person, is “Love & Other Disasters” that Anita Kelly put out, I really enjoyed that. And I would read the phone book if Annabeth Albert wrote it, so I love her. That’s a really, really easy one for me. And then some of the historical queer romances I really enjoy from Cat Sebastian have also been really amazing. And yes, Rien Gray’s werewolf series is really, really fun, so I highly recommend that too.
Jeff: That’s the one that’s on my TBR now, since I talked to them, it’s like, “Oh, okay. I’m gonna have to read that. Thanks for putting that into my TBR.”
Avery: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s worth it, and move that up. Move that up, it was super.
Jeff: Move that up.
Avery: Yeah. Well, the pacing is really good and the characterization is great and it’s…I don’t know, I just love it. This is why I don’t write reviews because it would literally just be like, “I loved it, squee,” right? You’d think I’d never written a word in my life.
Jeff: Sometimes it’s hard.
Avery: People who write reviews are amazing. I can’t do it. Yeah, hats off to them.
Jeff: And how can everybody keep up with not only the Collective but also you as an author?
Avery: Well, you can find The Happily Ever After Collective on Patreon. We also have a newsletter. The website is thehappilyeveraftercollective.com, and you can sign up for the newsletter and just sort of check it out. We send it out once a month when the new novellas come out, so you can sort of take a peek and see if there’s anything there that would interest you. So, those are the best places… Happily Ever After Collective is also on social media on different spots, so you can follow it that way.
I’m basically everywhere, I think, @AveryFlynn or Avery Flynn author. My favorite places are Twitter and TikTok. So, I am one of those. I’m just not an Instagram person and Facebook is the devil, so yeah.
Jeff: Avery, thank you so much for spending some time with us and telling us all about the HEA Collective.
Avery: Thank you so much for having me. And thank you, all of those out there who are our patrons, we really appreciate it.
Jeff: And now to talk to two of the authors. We’ve got Rien Gray and Sera Taíno, who have written two of the queer romances that have been released through the HEA Collective so far.
Rien Gray and Sera Taíno Interview
Jeff: Welcome Rien and Sera to the podcast. It is so great to have you here.
Sera: Great to be here.
Rien: Yeah, no, it’s awesome to be here. Thanks Jeff.
Jeff: As we get started, I’d like you both introduce yourselves. So in case our listeners don’t know who you are. And Rien, we’ll start with you.
Rien: Hello. I’m Rien Gray. I write primarily f/f and f /non-binary romance, although I’ve kind of like dipped my toes into queer and trans horror lately. Been in a few anthologies, so I’m really enjoying that.
I have my ongoing series, the “Fatal Fidelity” series is about a non-binary assassin and the woman they save from her abusive husband. And so I’m working on the, the fourth book on that now which will finish the series. And then I have like a werewolf romance as well. That’s f/f with Carina Harlequin that I’ve done as well.
So I’m kind of bouncing back and forth in between those and then of course, “Double Exposure,” but we’ll get to that later. So go ahead, Sera.
Sera: So, for me, I actually, my debut romance came out with Harlequin Special Edition last year. It’s “A Delicious Dilemma,” which is actually one of a series of books in “The Navarros” family series. I’m mostly. Well, so far I mostly write Latinx leads. My online Harlequin free read is an f/f romance which is really exciting, in the same universe.
My first book is a male/female romance, my second book which is coming out in March is a male/male romance. And my third book features a bisexual lead with her love interest. So I try, I try to write as inclusively and wide as possible.
Rien: Yeah. I was about to say, you got like the whole spectrum there.
Sera: It’s gonna reflect a little bit my upbringing. So, I mean, I’ve come from a massive family and everyone was there. Everyone was a part of it. So, it doesn’t… and I grew up in New York City, close to New York City in the Hoboken area. For me that feels like the type of community I feel at home in.
Jeff: Both of you are relatively new to writing romance coming in in the last year, two years. What drew you into writing romance?
Sera: Well, even though my debut is only a year old. I’ve been writing for years and years. I come from a fan fiction background. And so as you know, like fan fiction I have a lot of fandoms that I was a part of, but fundamentally the writing was all romance oriented. And so I feel like I had a lot of I was on, you know, I played a lot with romance and wrote a lot of romance and read a lot of romance before I actually tried my hand at writing something that someone should pay for to read, because up until that point, people got it for free.
So I’m a long time romance reader. I got the bad habit from my mother, so, who left her Harlequins around for me to unfortunately find.
Jeff: It’s not a bad habit at all.
Sera: No, it’s not. I being completely ironic. It totally. I mean, she was… it was great. We traded books with each other and I mean, it really made an impact on my reading so I’ve always had romance.
Jeff: And Rien for you?
Rien: So I’m actually not new to writing romance in general, because I wrote romance for romance games on your phone for six years.
Jeff: Oh wow.
Rien: Before I started writing books.
Sera: That’s so cool.
Rien: So it’s just that my medium was completely different for a long time. So all the, the like interactive stories and stuff you can play on your phone, I was working on a lot of stories that at the time, this was years ago where like some of the first, like non-binary love interests in those apps. And a lot of just queer romance in general, that wasn’t on these phone games. So that’s actually where I got started before I kind of like looped back around being like, wow, I’ve been doing this for a while.
I wanted to be a novelist when I was a kid growing up, but it just kind of looped around into, oh, well, this isn’t a practical thing, this and that, do this. So then I ended up in the games industry, writing romance, and I was like “Well, I’m stable enough now, I can like start writing some books in my spare time.” And I finally, I wrote “Love Kills Twice,” was my debut and that’s like, it was like a year and eight months ago. Something like that. And despite it just being honestly, very indulgent for me personally, I managed to find a publisher with Nine Star and then I was like, wait, I can do this. And I’ve been just going with it ever since. But yeah, I started in games actually.
Jeff: Are there games that we should go look at to check out some of your previous work. Are there places you look up to?
Rien: I wish. The servers don’t exist anymore?
Jeff: Oh, that’s too bad.
Rien: Yeah, that is unfortunately, one of the things that’s common with a lot of these mobile games is once they kind of, they run outta business, like you can’t anymore. But yeah, that was this. I did that for six years.
Jeff: That’s amazing.
Just really quickly, cause it’s a total divergent from our topic. What’s it like going from like writing for games where you’ve got all the interactive components to it, to writing a more linear novel format.
Rien: It’s so much easier. Like writing a book is never easy. Like I would never say that, but in comparison, having to account for people making choices in the middle of your story and giving them a range of options is far more complicated. I love that I could just write the romance I wanted to write and nobody else got to have an opinion on it.
Jeff: I love that. Yeah. You could go here, here, here, here, here, or here.
Rien: It’s like, oh, did they buy this option? Did they not? Is like, have they played this before? What will it look like? What if they changed their mind on this one? It’s. Yeah, it’s just far more complicated than just like being able to like plot out a linear story because I’m a plotter kind of writer and just being able to write it straight through. Oh, it’s bliss.
Jeff: Now we talked with Avery in the segment before this one, and I’m curious what brought each of you to wanting to take part in the Happily Ever After Collective since it’s such a different way than we’re used to seeing to publish books.
Rien: So I actually was given a heads up by my mentor, Karen who is a friend of Avery’s. And Karen messaged me and was like, “Hey, do you think you could write a novella by…” I forget what date she told me, but it was somewhere far enough out. I’m like, “Yeah, why?” And she’s like, “Well, my friend Avery is looking for, somebody to join the HEA Collective, that she wanted LGBTQ romance, that she was really hoping to get own voices authors for it specifically.” And that jumped out at me cause I was like, oh cool. Like looking for that. And it was, and also like it’s trope based.
I love… there are a lot of tropes I really love. So the idea of getting to be like, cool, like this is a group that wants me to do own voices romance. This is, you know, and I get to pick something fun. We’re all gonna be in this together. Like yeah, it was a pretty easy sell to me. I’ll be honest.
Jeff: And Sera?
Sera: It’s the same. Like Rien said, it took me a little bit back to the time when I used to participate in like writing challenges. And so you’re given a trope and you’re given a deadline and everything is up to you. Avery had written to me on the recommendation of R.L. Merrill. She’s my co-writer on a project that we’ve been working on over the last year and she said, “You can do this. She’s looking for, you know, Latinx writers, and writers who are willing to write queer stories as well, just to diversify as much as possible the offerings.”
And I was like, absolutely. So I was given a trope and I went for it. I had the time to do it. And I love writing in that way because I’m also a plotter and there’s something incredibly liberating about being given something and just going with whatever comes to your mind. Like it’s something… it’s completely different from my normal writing routine so it was very exciting to be involved in that.
Jeff: What are your favorite tropes cause these books, certainly from what I read with “Double Exposure” is very trope-tastic. Just so many things just jammed on in there. What are the favorite tropes for you to work with?
Sera: I was given… the trope that I was given was fake relationships. You choose like your top three and then you get assigned as close to your preferences as possible. So I was given… I had chosen fake relationships cause I hadn’t done that one yet and I really wanted to give it a try. I had already done a kind of enemies to lovers in my debut. I had done also a kind of opposites attract. And my third book features you know, like a second chance romance. So I reached for something different. And that was one of the appeals also. It was just like, I’m going to just throw in there and see what I get and then just write it. It was really liberating.
My favorite is definitely an enemies to lovers. I love, yes. I love enemies to lovers. I also really enjoy you know best friends to lovers. I like rivals to best friends to lovers. I like that just tension. I grew up on soap operas and I love it. I love the campier, the better. So, those are my favorite types of tropes.
Rien: So it’s actually funny. I also picked the ones I picked, cause I hadn’t… Mine is both second chance romance and enemies to lovers, even though I ended up in the second chance romance month. But like I hadn’t done either of them before, despite the fact that I liked them both a lot.
And so it was a perfect opportunity to be like, “Well, I really like this I should try my hand at it and see how it goes.” My favorite, however, is bodyguard romance. Like any variant, it can be fantasy like knight and queen. It can be modern. Like it can be about oof every time. That’s, that’s my big one.
Sera: I’m shaking my fingers and I’m really excited because my next project is a bodyguard romance, and I am… I’ve never written one. I love, I love them. When it comes to a trope, it wasn’t the first thing that jumped to mind because I’ve never written it before, but I recently consumed a bodyguard series and it just set me off, like I have to write this.
Rien: Yeah. I have a book in progress too. Carina actually asked for the full, so I need to finish it. Cool. But I also have one in progress because it’s like I also need to write this. This is literally my favorite, which is actually, I think that’s why I didn’t write it first and got a few books out, cause it’s like my favorite. So I feel invested. It’s like, well, this shouldn’t be my first try. Like I let’s get my feet a little wet with a book first, before I go after the thing I really like.
Sera: That’s reasonable.
Jeff: I’m looking forward to all of your bodyguard romances, cause bodyguard connects to romantic suspense 99% of the time.
Jeff: And I love a romantic suspense, so yes, bring those books on.
Let’s talk about the books that you have in the Collective. And Sera, we’ll start with you cause your book is one of the October selections.
Sera: Right? So my book is actually called “A Fashionable Deception” and I’m like super thrilled that Rien mentioned bodyguard romance because I had just gotten off of a binge of a… I had never watched like Thai series before. I was always like, love K-dramas. And I love Japanese series, but this was my first Thai series and it’s a “KinnPorsche” and it was…
Jeff: Oh yes…
Sera: Oh, it was so good.
Jeff: My, God, it was so good…
Sera: and so I couldn’t get Kinn and Porsche that dynamic out of my mind. I didn’t wanna write a mafia romance cause I’m not comfortable writing that yet.
I’m not there where I could write that. And I didn’t want anything violent either. So, but I love the dynamic between them. I love this really stern, he has, he’s violent and he has to be ruthless, but deep down inside, he’s just like this romantic who is like starved of love. And then you have Porsche was like going through this. He has a really hard life, but he’s such an optimist and he’s just a go-getter and he’s very nurturing. And so I just love to smush these two together. So when I saw that, when I was given the fake relationship, I was like I’m doing it, I’m doing it. And so I used… they’re my model for the characters in the book.
But it’s set in the New York fashion world because I didn’t want to deal with the violent aspects. And you have Milo’s character. Emilio is his name, but his nickname is Milo and he needs a date for his parents’ 30th anniversary bash. And he’s been avoiding going back home to his parents.
They’re extremely wealthy and they own the fashion house that he will inherit. And he sees Alex on the runway and he says that might be the solution to my problem. And so the story sets off there.
Jeff: That’s exciting. Any other tropes looking around in there besides the fake dating? What else have you got on your trope menu?
Sera: There is the opposites attract. There is definitely a… there’s an economic disparity because Milo’s extremely wealthy and Alex is not. He’s hustling, he’s struggling, you know, take care of himself and his very small family, sister and his own. And so he’s… and they’re both Latin characters. So I wanted to bring in a little bit… some of the difficulties that come along when you’re disconnected from your extended family. So Alex is really dealing with that. He has to, sort of struggle in the world alone. And the only thing he has is his wits and his very good looks. So he has to really work hard. And Milo’s character identifies something in Alex that sort of brings out that softer part of him that he’s not really allowed to show. So it, that, so you have a lot of things. There’s a lot of things going on there, character and the cinnamon bun. I’m a sunshine only for you kind of thing.
Jeff: Sunshine only for you that could become a trope on its own.
Sera: it’s one of my favorites.
Jeff: Yeah. .
Given that you said it in the fashion world, did you have a lot of research you had to do to kind of get all the fashion components kind of nailed down in the book?
Sera: I did. I did. And I had already come off of writing my second book in the Harlequin series, which the main character, one of the romantic leads is a photographer. He’s a fashion photographer. He works for a fashion magazine. And so I’ve already had some experience with that. I, myself, when I was putting myself through, college, I worked as a makeup artist. And so I had some behind the scenes experience also with smaller fashion walks and other events that I had to participate in. So I had a little bit of that hands on, knowledge. I obviously have to upgrade it right, because it’s, it’s been a good, long time since I’ve done it myself, but I did have to do a little bit of research to sort of brush up on it.
Jeff: I am excited to read this book even more so now, knowing that I’ll read it, looking for the obvious “KinnPorsche” inspirations in there.
Sera: Yeah. There’s definitely like… that’s the fanfic writer in me. So it’s like, literally it would be considered a contemporary AU, so it’s like the same characters, but it’s a totally different setting. And so looking. I preserve some of the elements of their character. So looking for that, if someone knows it…
Jeff: And I imagine it would be easy, air quotes ,to do that cause there was so much to draw from in those episodes cause they threw everything and the kitchen sink in that series.
Sera: It was amazing. It was amazing. That series really did whatever it wanted to do. It was like, again, it reminds me of the soap operas that I grew up on. Those soap opera operas were so bonkers. Like they could go anywhere. People would die and come back to life. I mean, and… you know what I mean? You’re like…
Jeff: Oh, yeah.
Sera: …this guy’s gone and why is he showing up now? And so this incredible, just whoever was writing it just allowed themselves to go where they wanted to. And it’s really, considering the source material, they did an incredible job with that series. So it’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much. It really took me back to those times when I would watch those soap operas with my grandmother. And I was like, I dunno what’s gonna happen next. And I read the book, I have no idea what’s happening. So it so much fun. And I hope that I carried a little bit of that fun feeling to the story.
Jeff: And Rien, “Double Exposure.” It was the book I didn’t know I needed.
Rien: Thank you.
Jeff: I raved about that back in episode 398, but tell us about it in your own words about this heist story.
Rien: Yeah, so I, I love heists. Like I love shows like “Leverage,” movies like “Ocean’s Eight.” “Bound” is a really good classic. It’s more of a like small, intimate heist compared to the other ones. But like a lot of the… I’ve always been very into crime fiction, heist fiction, organized crime, et cetera, et cetera. But here’s the thing, a lot of those stories, “Bound” is a good, is a great exception. Thanks, Wachowski sisters. Wonderful movie. But most of it doesn’t have romance or any kind of successful romance. It’s often about like the crew or it’s often like one person getting revenge and trying out smart the cops or something similar. Like there’s not a romance.
So I wanted to take when I was trying to figure out, okay, tropes, second chance, enemies to lovers. When I was putting together what I wanted there, I was just like, “I’m gonna take a genre I love and give it some romance.” So, which is how I ended up with “Double Exposure,” which is about Jillian and Sloane, who are both world renowned art thieves, and exes, and going after the same set of photographs, which I know you discussed in your review before. It was great. I appreciate it.
I also like, like you, I don’t want to touch on the plot too much cause I had a lot of fun. This was my first like twist-based book and I was really nervous about it going wrong. Cause I was like, what if it’s too obvious? What if it isn’t clear at all? What if it is, the worst thing, boring?
But they have a lot of differences too. Like, Sera was talking about with her characters, like Sloane came from an extremely rich family. Jillian grew up dirt, poor. Sloane is non-binary and has to deal with that because they’re kind of the con artist like face type of thief. So they’re blending in and out of society in different ways. Jillian, meanwhile, just breaks in. She doesn’t have time to talk to people. She doesn’t really wanna be talking to people, except for Sloane, which is of course the inherent problem cause they had… at the start of the book, it is three years after their miserable breakup, in which they both left that situation thinking the other was essentially the worst person in the world. And they’ve been getting revenge on each other ever since, which was also just a fun aspect is coming up with all of the ridiculous things over the last three years, they had done to each other and ruined each other’s work.
That was half the fun, I think. So it’s second chance, but also enemies to lovers because they are in a competition and it accelerates quickly as I think Jeff found out.
Jeff: Oh yeah. It’s like, oh, oh, oh, oh. One of the things I liked about it so much, and I honestly can’t remember in this moment if I touched on this or not, was that it’s a romance. There’s an HEA there. But I’m reading it going, how are they resolving this chasm that they’ve got between them. And it’s just like… and it all came together and I think you did a great job I thought of tying it all up. It all made sense. It’s like I get it, but I also couldn’t solve it ahead of where they were, which I also appreciate.
It must have made your plotter brain happy to have to get into this cause I find that romantic suspense and heist and mystery, you’ve gotta really… I don’t know how pantsers do it because you have to seed stuff sometimes and make sure it all makes sense.
Rien: Yeah, it’s a fairly big thing for me is I’m a very much of an outline person. So I have very dedicated chapter, like each chapter has its own outline kind of outlines. And I did for “Double Exposure.” And even then, despite knowing that ahead of time, a lot of the seeds, I went back in the editing process and just tweaked. Like I did so many last minute detail tweaks, of like changing what was in one of the photographs to draw a hint to one thing, changing what information like Sloan gets at one point. Like a bunch of really little things came together in the end because I wanted the suspense to be held as long as possible. But I also wanted, if somebody goes back and rereads the book, for all those little breadcrumbs to be there.
Jeff: Oh, so now you’re telling me I have to go back and reread it to check out more of the breadcrumbs. I see how this works.
Rien: I wanna make a joke, but it’s spoilery to even imply it because you already know the twist.
Jeff: You can share that with me when we’re done.
Jeff: So I know what to come back and listen for.
Rien: Will do.
Jeff: What was your research like? Because I mean, you’ve got to understand some art and the photos and museums and security and all of these things to, to make it obviously know it well enough to tell the reader exactly what they need to know.
Rien: Yeah. So the first thing is, is one they’re stealing from the Art Institute of Chicago, which I have been to many times. My friend has like one of those yearly memberships and she and I have been there quite often. So in terms of like setting a location, that was pretty easy because I knew it.
They also have a very, very detailed website that like talks about their entire map layout and how many floors are here and where this and this. And I was like… and I actually on purpose changed a few details of the museum, cause I was like, please do not follow the interior of this museum and take something from the Art Institute.
So there’s actually a few things in there that I falsified on purpose. Because I was so familiar with the museum. But beyond that like personal experience, a lot of research went into past thefts and heists, like really well known ones. I worried that their capability sounded ridiculous and then I looked into some actual heists and there are things like the guy that decided three days after seeing jewelry, that he would drop himself out of a helicopter with a parachute and land on top of the museum. And he did it, and took the gem, and they didn’t find it for 16 years.
Rien: So people actually have done these things.
So he literally just scoped it out and went, oh, I can swap that out. This doesn’t weigh that much. He like, literally he was there with his wife, like they were there with his wife and in-laws and he looked at it and he went, I want that. And 72 hours later, he had taken it. This incredibly… like this jewel worth millions.
And that gave me confidence to be like, yeah, I can dramatize things, but I’m not even really stepping that far outta the bounce of reality.
Jeff: That’s what makes it so well, to read, cause it is grounded very nicely in the reality of our present day, which is something I like a lot. Little bit on the edge, you know, like a James Bond, tech twist or something is always good.
Jeff: But grounded as well.
What have you been hearing from readers so far about offering books in this way through Patreon and through this kind of… it’s almost like back in the day when you would have your book club selections, that would come in the mail, you can have this, this, or this, and, get your books.
And Rien you’ve been out the longest with your book now for about six weeks or so, as we’re talking, what have you been hearing from readers in general and maybe even those readers who heard about this book going, how do I get that and then having to go this direction for it?
Rien: Yeah. A lot of people jumped to the format. I think easier than I thought at first it might just be like, oh, you get books. Okay. Well, where do I buy them? Well, you sign up for the Patreon and then you pick the books.
So that, that extra step, I think initially I was worried about maybe folks wouldn’t be interested, but it seems like a lot of people jumped in on it very quickly actually. I think they missed that kind of book boxing. I think a lot of subscription services now are very popular. People get perfumes in the mail or food in the mail or something and you get that thing. So it’s just like, “Hey, do you want to get your books the same way?”
You don’t have to scour through Amazon and be like, is this really the trope I’m looking for? Maybe it is. And read 70 blurbs before you decide on picking out a book. So I think just being like, here are the tropes, here are the pairings, one to four books, go straight ahead. Like that’s, that’s like a great thing.
I think the only small thing I’ve heard from readers a little bit in terms of like less positive feedback is they didn’t know where to leave reviews because it’s currently kind of in the, the walled garden of the Patreon. So of course they can leave comments and stuff like that, but that might be something interesting to figure out in the future for how with the exception of obviously podcasts like this, where people can hear it outside, like how to get like reviews of the books, kind of out into the world and bring more people into the Collective.
Jeff: Yeah, cause Goodreads is really fussy about that kind of book being on there if it’s not widely available. I know many authors, myself included, people will put up like newsletter magnets on Goodreads and they’ll get reviews, but then Goodreads will go that’s not a real book and take it out. And that’s the same thing would happen with these as well. Which is unfortunate.
So that’s maybe something to figure out in the future, but at least in terms of readers getting what they want, that seems to work very well.
Sera: And there is something… I think there is something really exciting and fresh also about sort of having that direct line between, you know, providing the product or the author and the book. And so there’s so much in the hands of the reader. Yeah, they have these extra steps and this is true. But they don’t have to go through a publisher. They don’t have to go through a lot of, hoops to get to the product. Like I want an enemies to lovers book and here are my selections and I can get them.
And I love the idea of sort of taking that power. Cause it is a Collective and taking that and saying, we’re going to provide this product directly to the readers that there is something I really like about that.
Jeff: I like how it’s set up with, each book gets its essentially it’s post and write up and a little extra from the author. And then there’s the monthly chats as well, where all the authors for that month get together and have a session to talk to the readers and, talk about the books and everything, which I think is great.
Rien: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s cool because you can kind of offer these bonuses, like directly to your readers. I know all of us try to do like, oh, reader magnets, or you do something on Facebook, or you do so… in this case it’s just one to one. It’s like, okay, you signed up for this, you get everything.
Jeff: Yeah. It’s really awesome.
Now we love to get book recommendations as much as we like to give them.
So I’d love to know from each of you, what’s a queer romance you’ve read recently that, you know, our listeners should go pick up.
Sera: it’s been a couple of months since I actually read a book all the way through. That’s not to say I haven’t read, but to actually have read a trade romance all the way through, because I’ve been in the middle of deadlines and just working, working. I feel like I’ve just been working nonstop.
But I did recently… I always make a point to recommend the last book that I read was Alexis Hall’s “A Lady for the Duke,” which features a trans female lead and it’s such a gorgeous book. It touches on areas that… an area of historical romances that we don’t get to see a lot, which is a wonderful trans character, fully formed with a beautiful back history rooted firmly in the history of the time that he’s writing in. And I just, I enjoyed the book so much. And so I usually highly recommend that book.
I also recommended… I recently reread because it was wonderful also, “For the Love of April French” by Penny Aimes. I consider that one of my favorite books that I read last year. I just love the vulnerability and the fullness of both characters and the way that they made their way to each other. Their happily ever after. It was so raw and it was just a beautifully written romance. I love it so much.
And then the last one that I read. Also some months ago was “This Is How You Lose the Time War.”
Rien: Oh, that book’s so good. Sorry. Nope. I don’t mean to interrupt, but that book, oh, I love that book so much. Sorry.
Sera: Every time I mention that book, people are either like, “Oh my God, how did you get through it?” Or, “Oh my God, that book left a mark on my soul.” And I’m definitely in the second category.
Rien: Same. Yeah.
Sera: And the thing with that book is the way that it’s written. They didn’t care about the world building. They left it to the reader to understand what it meant to function in a multiverse. Like they literally left that in the hands of the reader. They trusted the readers to understand that and just went right for the relationship between the two characters, which develops in the most… It’s hard to even describe they’re traveling through space and time up and down time threads to find clues for of each other and they’re falling more deeply and deeply in love with each other’s. Just a stupendous book. I always tell people, you have to read it twice.
Rien: Oh yeah. A hundred percent.
Sera: And read it again to actually get it. And then when you’ve done that, go back and read it again.
Rien: Yeah. And that’s the thing is… that’s one of the wonderful things about it is that it’s so short so you can get through it and be like, wow, okay. And then it’s just like you could just turn around and read it again. There’s nothing stopping you.
Sera: No nothing. And it’s one of those things that the more you go, you go back into it and you go, you just find more. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book like that.
There was one book that I read was Oh, so, oh, and it’ll come to me in a moment. She’s a Korean-American writer and she wrote something similar to this. It was gorgeous, gorgeous also. And it gives you that feeling of just being… it mashes up different genres in her case. It does the same thing. It just draws you into this world that cannot be real, but it is, and you’re fully invested in it. And it is queer. It’s gorgeous. The book that I’m referring to has a trans lead also and just beautiful book and I recommend it to people.
Jeff: I’m gonna have to find this book because you’ve both had such an enthusiastic reaction to it and I have not heard of it.
Rien: And that’s what makes me sad is that like it’s by two fairly well known authors and for some reason, despite it being trade published and getting like rave reviews, I was like, okay, so where are the copycats of this book? I need like 40, more of this book. And it just like rose, got a bunch of awards, and then just dropped off the face of the earth. It’s very good. Sera’s right, like the reaction is always, “I couldn’t get through chapter one.” Or, “Yes, this altered me on a molecular level.”
Jeff: Okay. I hope for the latter, in my case. Yeah. So I will let you both know after I’ve checked that out.
Sera: Love to know. I love it because I’m always looking for people who will read it and say, okay, sit down and talk to me about it because I want someone to speak to.
Sera: Because it does it grips you and it doesn’t let you go very easily. I’m still thinking about it.
Rien: Yeah. The prose is gorgeous.
Rien: It is the kind of thing that like, I feel like when I was 14 reading craft books, that would be like, don’t have purple prose. You know what’s so good about the book it breaks like almost every trad pub rule. One it’s short, it’s a novella. Two it’s queer women. There’s not enough of those in trad pub. Three it’s epistolary. It’s letters back forth.
Sera: It’s epistolary mm-hmm.
Rien: They did all of those things that you’re not supposed to do with a trad pubbed book and put it all in one book and it’s fantastic.
Sera: And the writing, I’m glad that you refer back to the writing cause the writing is so lush, it’s almost Shakespearean and you would never tolerate that kind of writing in another book.
Sera: And yet that book, it almost demands. It’s almost like it needs to be there because it is, it’s almost like it’s epic. It’s beyond epic in scope. These two people who managed to find each other across space and time and universe. I mean, you really have to put your hands on it to understand the scope of what they’re describing. And I’m one of those people that when I’m done reading a book, I go look for the fan art for it. And the fan art is gorgeous. It’s beautiful.
Jeff: Rien, what’s on your recommendation list these days?
Rien: I’m gonna unsurprisingly recommend a bodyguard romance, is “The Gunrunner and Her Hound” by Maria Ying and it’s f / f / f. It’s poly. It’s set in, I believe most of it is set in Singapore, although they travel quite a bit. And it is about an arms dealer. It’s like 10 seconds into the future. Kind of like, the, the status of a lot of countries have changed and everything like that. But it’s about an arms dealer and who, with her old term bodyguard who hires someone new.
And I’ll just… I’m gonna just gonna leave it there and everything goes. But it’s very good. I love the prose. I love the voices in it. It deals with a lot of really complicated dynamics really well. And it’s the start of the series. That one’s just, well, there’s a couple of them are Butch, but mostly cis woman. But the sequel also has a trans woman lead, who’s the sister of the original protagonist. So that’s good. But yeah, it’s bodyguard romance. It has just, again, like, finding poly, queer, and bodyguard romance. It’s like, oh, it’s like, okay, I need 40. Thanks. But besides that, I feel like I’ve I haven’t been reading as much romance.
I just read through “Nona the Ninth” because I love lesbian drama and necromancers. So I’ve been re-reading those books. I’ve also been reading a lot of non-fiction just for research. But yeah, “Gunrunner’s” very good. Maria Ying in general is a great author.
I’ve also, like Sera, kind of like been in my deadline pit. Focusing on that and I try not to read stuff that’s like super similar when I’m working on a book itself. And, and since I’m working on my queer romantic suspense, I’m kind of like not looking for romantic suspense despite the fact that I would usually be eating it up.
Sera: That’s the same thing with me. I I’ve been staying away a little bit from contemporary romance, even though I tend to read a lot of it precisely because I’m writing. Right now I’m writing a lot of contemporary romance at the moment.
It’s “Light from Uncommon Stars” from Ryka Aoki.
Jeff: Oh my gosh. That book was amazing.
Sera: Yeah. You okay. So you know which book I’m talking about? Love that book so much. And it’s another one that I occasionally go back to it and reread it and it’s, and it’s bonkers in the sense that it mashes up also various genres altogether. And I love that. And it’s so centered on the main character. And so much of it is… she is the center of the book and then everything happens around her. It’s really, it’s wonderful book.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s such a beautiful book. I was so excited to see it piled up in a beautiful new stack of paperbacks at Barnes and Noble yesterday. It must have just come out on paperback cause it’s like, here’s all this, you need this book.
Cause I don’t read fantasy type books a lot, cause world building bogs me down sometimes. It’s like just dole it out to me as I need it please. And everything about that book was just beautiful. The slight fantasy elements, the space donuts as somebody I heard them refer to that, that way.
Sera: Like the donut is its own character.
Jeff: It really is, right?
Rien: Seems to be a trend this year. That was true in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” too.
Sera: Okay. And that’s another book that I need too. I need to read. I think they made a movie out of it.
Sera: I’m terrible. I don’t watch a lot of movies.
Rien: I’m very, very picky on films and that is one of the best movies I have seen in years.
Sera: Then I have to watch it.
Rien: It’s fantastic. I highly recommend it. I watched it once and enjoyed it. And then watched it with my mother, which was a mistake. Not because she didn’t like it, but because it is very much about a relationship between a mother and their kid. And that time I sobbed my eyes out. I survived the first time I did not survive the second.
Sera: Cause you had mom with you.
Yeah. It’s like, Nope. Oh, I lost it.
Jeff: So we heard a little bit from each of you about what’s coming next, but let’s really dive into that so people can have a kind of a list of what’s coming next. Rien, I’ll start that off with you. What is next that we should be looking for?
Rien: So right now, the book I’m on deadline for is “A Love So Dark,” which is the fourth and final book in my “Fatal Fidelity,” my non-binary, my romantic suspense assassin series. So, looking on that. It’s gonna be fun.
I have been thinking about this book for years. It has been such a joy to actually work on it and write it and finally come to the conclusion cause these books follow the same couple. So it’s the same two people over four books. It’s not different through series. So they’ve been on a very long journey.
And again, like this is the series… like my very first publish book was “Love Kills Twice,” which is the first in the series. So like getting to the end, it’s gonna be my first finished series. It’s very big and looming in my mind, but I’m also excited about it.
And once that’s out of the way my next one is actually gonna be a fantasy romance. Like Arthurian kinda story, but f / f, a lot of it. Knights, queens, a lot of the like it’s elements that I’ve loved again in a lot of stories, but never pursued myself. That one’s called “Out of True.” And so that’ll be what I’m working on next.
And then at some point after that, cause I have 17,000 things on my to-do list always, I’ll get back to the bodyguard romance that I sent over to Carina cause that has 30K but needs about 80 more. So…
Jeff: Just 80. Sure.
Sera: Do it on the weekend.
Rien: It’s outlined at least.
Jeff: And how can people keep up with you online to know when all this stuff’s going to be coming out?
Rien: Yeah. I’m unfortunately on Twitter all the time. So you could find me at RienGray, Twitter. Same thing, if you wanna follow my newsletter, if you like, just wanna hear about my releases and not see the bad jokes I post about my books. You can go to tinyletter.com/riengray, or if you wanna get ahold of me directly on email it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff: Fantastic. And Sera, for you, what’s coming up next?
Sera: Well, I just finished up edits for my third book of the “Navarro” family series with Harlequin Special Edition. It’s funny because with some of the issues with… There’s some issues with everything that has to do with the production of books because of different things that have happened since COVID. And so I actually had the third book finished before the second book. And so I’m now on back and I’m doing, the final edits on the second book. “The Best Man’s Problem” comes out in March of 2023. And “The Trouble with Exes” comes out in May of 23.
I also have the HEA novella that’s coming out in October. I’m really excited about that. And then I’m also working on a joint project with RL Merrill who also writes lovely queer romances. And we have a writing project that we’re currently pitching. And so we’ll see where that goes. So that’s kind of what I have on the top right now.
Jeff: And where can people find you online?
Sera: I’m also a Twitter person, although I have been, kind of keeping my head down because I’ve had so much no writing to do. But I’m SeraTaino everywhere on Instagram, on Twitter. Twitter is the best place to reach me. email@example.com if you wanna write to me. I also have a newsletter on my website. It’s serataino.com/ mailing-list. You can go on there, get a free book. There’s scenes from “A Delicious Dilemma.” And there’s also tons of free reads on my website.
Rien: I’m about to drop my Halloween read for my newsletter. It’s always fun to give out free stuff. It’s actually something that another writer, K.D. Casey, she came up with last Halloween, which was take your contemporary romance characters and put them in a paranormal AU for like a free Halloween short.
Sera: That’s so cool.
Rien: So Justine and Campbell are my main in my romantic suspense series. So I’m doing… last year I did Campbell as the supernatural one. This year I’m doing Justine as the supernatural one.
Sera: That’s so cool. I love that idea.
Rien: Yeah, it’s a really fun to do, like theme stuff, and then just flinging it at people. It’s free read it.
Sera: And if people are fans of the series and they wanna see those characters again, then they’ll…
Rien: Yeah, exactly.
Sera: They’ll enjoy. Excellent.
Jeff: I love that. I may have to steal that idea.
Rien: Yeah, no, K.D.’s brilliant. When I saw that, I was like, that’s, that’s fantastic. That’s so fun.
Jeff: Well, Rien and Sera, it has been so wonderful talking to you both. Thank you for sharing your books that are in the HEA collective and very much look forward to reading more from both of you as well.
Rien: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.
Sera: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the show notes page for this episode at BigGayFictionPodcast.com. Don’t forget the show notes page also has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: Thanks to Avery, Rien and Sera for coming to talk about the HEA Collective. If you haven’t checked out the collective on Patreon yet, we hope you’ll give it a look. It is such a great way to add some trope-tastic books to your TBR every month.
I also have to say that in addition to talking about their books, I love the fan moments during the conversation with Rien and Sera. There was Rien and Sera sharing their joint love of “This Is How You Lose the Time War.” And then Sera and I geeked out over “KinnPorsche.” Oh, such a good time.
Will: All right. I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up next in episode 406, author Lee Blair will be here to talk about her Dahlia Springs universe.
Jeff: As you may have heard me talk about a few weeks back, I loved “Pitcher Perfect,” which takes place in Dahlia Springs, and I’m excited to learn more about Lee’s low angst approach to romance. Plus, we’ll also discuss her new podcast that is aptly titled “Low Angst Library.”
Will: Jeff and I wanna thank you so much for listening and hope that you’ll join us again soon for more discussions about the kinds of stories we all love, the big gay fiction kind. Until then, keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Original theme music by Daryl Banner.