Today, author Rick R. Reed is guesting. He’s here to talk about his latest release The Q, a LGBTQ romance. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.
It takes two to tango. And it takes at least two to make a book. Just like a play needs an audience to fully come alive, a book needs a reader for precisely the same reason.
One thing I have to constantly remind myself as a writer is that, once I have written the words, ‘the end’ to a story is that I must let go. As much as I labored over the book, dreamed about it, had conversations with myself about it, agonized over word choice, character hair color, continuity, repetitive words and phrasing, the time comes when the book meets the public which signals that it’s time for me to step aside.
A book is a conspiracy between a reader and a writer. The reader has to bring it to life through his or her imagination. The wonderful thing about that whole process is that my story can become so many different stories when filtered through each reader’s unique frame of reference. I have no doubt that no matter the care I take in describing characters and setting, each reader sees them differently because each of them come to the table with different experiences, biases, and memories. All of those things have a bearing on the triggers my words pull in a reader’s mind.
It’s really quite a lovely process when you think about it. And maybe the readers out there reading this never really considered the vital work they play in every book’s success or failure. Writers provide a roadmap, signposts, but it’s really up to the reader to run with it, to make of it something real, a mind movie for one.
What’s my point? I guess it’s to share with you a little of what motivates me as a writer and what, for me is both a blessing and a curse. See, when I am working on a book, which is almost always, I am alone with those characters, immersed in their little world, consumed by their passions, their fears, their desires, their comedies of errors. I have never been one for sharing much of my unfinished work with anyone else. That would somehow be wrong, at least for me. In order to create, I need to be able to slip into a world inhabited only by my characters and me. It’s always a bittersweet moment when I write the words, ‘the end’ and know I am moving on. Sure, there will be editing, the thrill of seeing the cover design, the agony of trying to help craft the blurb, but once you type ‘the end’ it means just that. You’re giving your characters and their world away.
I think it’s very difficult for some writers to realize that once they’ve ‘given birth’ to a book that it really no longer belongs to them. It belongs to the readers, the reviewers, the world. If you create with publishing in mind, it’s a harsh reality to accept—your book no longer belongs to you alone, but it’s gone off into the world, much like a child finally moving out of the house. Once you let go, you also must let go of trying to control what happens (same for books, same for kids).
And that’s hard. You hate to see your book suffer at the hands of people who don’t understand it, you celebrate it when someone ‘gets’ what you were trying to say.
But you must let go. The book is a piece of the world now and takes on a life of its own. Remember what I said earlier? A book is a conspiracy between a writer and a reader and the reader, each in his or her own way, makes the story his or her own.
I guess what prompted all this was a discussion recently at one of my publishers’ forums wherein authors were discussing, once again, how to respond to negative reviews and downright nasty ones, and the prevailing wisdom, at least to my mind, was with silence. I agree.
It’s harsh but true: writers must let go. Your stories are no longer your stories. If you’re very, very lucky, they are many people’s. Take comfort in that.
Title: The Q
Author: Rick R. Reed
Genre: LGBTQ Romance
Blurb: Step out for a Saturday night at The Q—the small town gay bar in Appalachia where the locals congregate. Whose secret love is revealed? What long-term relationship comes to a crossroad? What revelations come to light? The DJ mixes a soundtrack to inspire dancing, drinking, singing, and falling in (or out) of love.
This pivotal Saturday night at The Q is one its regulars will never forget. Lives irrevocably change. Laugh, shed a tear, and root for folks you’ll come to love and remember long after the last page.
First, no one ever called it the Quench Room. To its patrons, it was just the Q. Most of them weren’t even aware of its proper name. You wouldn’t find it on a sign or in neon. Many—gay, straight, and otherwise inclined—were certain the Q stood for Queer. Some saw it as an affirming name, reclaimed from those who’d hurl it to wound. Others whispered it, snickering, rolling eyes.
Second, unless you knew what you were looking for, you’d drive right by the Q, not thinking its sad, nondescript exterior housed much of anything. Lonely and forgotten on a stretch of country road, the Q lay just outside the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Hopewell, West Virginia. Housed in a squat, gray cinderblock building, the Q had no front door—patrons entered through a chipped red-painted back door off the gravel parking lot in the back. The single window out front, long and rectangular, was black tinted so passersby couldn’t see inside. For those who came to the Q on the down low, the tinted glass provided a measure of privacy and security.
The Q’s nearest neighbors were an auto-body shop called, charmingly, Gomer’s, and, down the road just a bit, a no-name bait and tackle shop, open only in summers, for those fishing on the nearby Ohio River.
The Q didn’t look like a place where people celebrated.
It didn’t appear to be an establishment where people hooked up, hoping for a raunchy one-night stand or dreaming of a lifetime commitment—and everything in between. A casual glance would never inspire the idea that the Q was a place for socializing, dancing, and drinking.
No one, driving by, would have imagined that this one-story building, rising up out of a weed-choked gravel lot, was the origin of so many love affairs, failed, and, sometimes, rarely, successful. Who would want to meet their beloved in such a sad, little shack? Why, it didn’t even possess a tin roof…rusted.
And yet, the Q was the gathering spot for this little rural area’s LGBTQ+ folks, especially those not inspired enough to make their way up the river to the bright lights and fancy bars of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, for a lot of the Q’s patrons, might as well have existed on another planet.
The Q was open only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, although Saturday was the busiest. Then, the parking lot was crowded with pickup trucks and the hulks of various sedans, coupes, and compacts, mostly older and none even remotely close to luxury vehicles. On Saturday nights, only the early birds got parking spots in the lot. If you showed up later, you parked alongside the road and prayed you didn’t get sideswiped while inside, imbibing and hoping, perhaps, for a special love connection.
Windows down, people driving by on a Saturday night might hear strains of muffled music coming out—thumping bass, 1980s disco tunes going way back to Sylvester and Prince and right up to Lady Gaga and Beyonce, popular line dances, and even some hardcore rock and roll from the likes of ZZ Top, Aerosmith, and maybe even Iron Maiden.
The Q’s patrons traveled from the little towns scattered throughout this poor area in the foothills of the Appalachians. They came from upriver in Pennsylvania, across the river in Ohio, and, of course, from right here in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Driving along potholed roads in dusky dusk or navy-blue twilights, you might spy the golden eyes of a fox peeking out from underbrush lining either side of the road.
When you arrived at the Q, though, and stepped through its red-doored portal of a Saturday night, the contrast was almost startling. What, outside, was grim and depressing, became magical inside. Voices murmuring, ice clinking in glasses, fairy lights above the big mirror behind the bar, the crack of pool balls, laughter, and maybe, Gloria Gaynor optimistically telling the world she would survive.
And somehow, you knew you would too.
If only for a few hours.
Real Men. True Love.
Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband.
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