Friday, October 6, 2017

Check out 'Love Unmasked' by AJ Llewellyn!

A.J. Llewellyn
Male/Male Romance

     Readers, help me to congratulate AJ on her new release of 'Love Unmasked' that is available at Amazon. I love the idea of masquerade parties and to be able to hide your identity from others. I hope all of you enjoy the post and click over to follow AJ at her Amazon author page.

Tonya:  Readers love to know more about their authors. Tell us a bit about yourself. 
A.J.:  Hi Tonya, thanks for having me here! I consider myself a bit of a dinosaur because I’ve been around for 11 years writing M/M romantic fiction. I love what I do and I have published over 250 books so far. Many are published through online publishers and I also have many self-published titles. I also own a company, Black Point Books with my frequent writing partner, D.J. Manly. We are looking for authors to publish so please, hit us up!
Tonya:  Do you have a day job?
A.J.:  Yes. I read and critique screenplays for movie production companies here in L.A. It’s also a job I love. I get to read the latest trends. I’ve read some wonderful screenplays that never see the light of day and I’ve read some really awful ones that get produced. For authors who have stars in their eyes, they should know that Hollywood writes by committee. If you think book edits are rough, dealing with creative executives is painful. Many, many times, the original writer doesn’t even end up getting a writing credit! I’ve had friends who’ve been forced to go into arbitration with the Writers’ Guild of America—and they don’t always win.
Tonya:  That sounds like a job that keeps you on your toes, AJ. Wow! Some of us have things we do to get into the writing frame of mind like music, or drinks. Do you have anything special you do to get into the writing mood?
A.J.:  Yes, it’s so true, isn’t it? I have to have all my animals fed, I need to take a shower and have a cup of coffee to get cracking!
Tonya:  Where do you keep story ideas? Where do they come from?
A.J.:  Stories come to me from everywhere. I am a recluse by nature (hey, those 250 books didn’t happen by accident) but I force myself to go to the weirdest events I can find. I attended a speed-dating event at the Petersen Automotive Museum (I am not into cars) but it gave me the basis for my book Bunyip. I get ideas eavesdropping on people’s conversations on the train and at coffee shops. I am a rude girl.
Tonya:  I love your sense of humor, AJ. That’s too funny. If you’re self-published, can you tell us a bit about that and how it’s going for you?
A.J.:  I did not self-pub until last year when Amber Quill Press, with whom I had the most amazing working relationship, closed on January 3, 2016. That was not a good way to start the New Year! I thought I would die. I’ve had so many small publishers close. About 10. A few ripped me off (Silver Publishing, Torquere Press) and I lost income. When AQP folded, I was left with 118 books to re-home. My income plummeted and the realization that I would have to purchase new covers, ISBN numbers, get new edits etc.etc. put me in a state of severe depression. I could not write. I cried all the time. For months I wondered if I could keep doing this, then I bought a couple of covers for my Phantom Lover and Mingo McCloud series books and self-pubbed. I was surprised that I did well. I am making money and doing better on my own than I do with most publishers I am still with.
     Having said that, there are things to keep in mind. Purchase the best covers you can afford and promote, promote, promote. The industry has changed dramatically since I started out. Very few people were self-pubbing and it was considered “vanity publishing” back then. Now, everybody is doing it but when an author is new and has no publishing experience, they have no idea what they are in for. The authors who are doing well now are newbies. They under-price their books and sell like mad. It gives them an over-inflated sense of their own worth. I’ve read Facebook posts from new authors boasting about their sales. If they are not good and their material needs editing they learn the hard way that after two or three books their sales drop. People are on to the next hot new author. I’ve seen more authors quit this year than I have my entire time in the M/M business. If you are doing this with the expectation of making a living purely on royalties, you will be in for a shock. Some books sell well. Others don’t. There is no reason why. One author posted lengthy Facebook posts about how he’d figured the formula and spent money on a great cover, fancy editor and promo and the book flopped. His word. Not mine. He quit writing. Keep writing and keep learning your craft. Don’t give up. Never surrender!
Tonya:  Great advice. I’ve been around awhile also and wonder about those .99 books. I have bills to pay and in the long run, that won’t pay the bills. I still self-publish but need to write more often. Since I own my own business with hubby, the office requires my attention once in a while…LOL. AJ, are you a daytime writer, night time writer, and do you have to be alone to write?
A.J.:  With my output, I write all the time. If I have chunks of time to write that’s great. But I steal moments. Fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there. You learn the value of time as a writer on deadline! I don’t have the luxury of always being alone but I do have my own writing space. I consider myself very lucky that I started out on newspapers. The first test I was given was being forced to type a story (on an old-fashioned typewriter. Computers did not exist then) with a phone ringing nonstop beside me. What a valuable lesson! I have learned to tune things out so well that I don’t notice distractions now.
Tonya:  Perhaps I need to learn to use those ten or fifteen-minute chunks! What advice would you give to new authors?
A.J.:  I get asked this a lot. I guess because I’ve been doing this a while. You have no idea how many writers contact me and ask me to read the manuscripts. I am always surprised when they ask advice and don’t take it. For example, an author sent me a very long book recently and I told her it needed a lot of edits. It had bad typos and plot issues. She unfriended me on Facebook. Then she sent it to three other authors and got the same reaction. She was so shocked. She’d hired an editor, she told me, and even mentioned that the editor told her not to publish the book because it wasn’t ready. She didn’t listen to anyone and published it to scathing reviews and poor sales. I noticed she posted on Facebook that she was quitting writing. My advice is if you seek guidance, listen to it. Think about what people are telling you. I am not Shakespeare but I have a voice. And I am well-read. I critique screenplays for a living. I am very supportive of other authors, but if I mention an issue, don’t take offense. If six or seven people tell you the same thing, you need to really listen. Also, consider the source. I wrote a book for a publisher who kept asking me to submit. She turned it around with multiple revisions. I was shocked. She wanted a page one rewrite. She is an author herself and I told her she was editing as an author, not a publisher. I did not listen to her and I sold the book elsewhere. I won awards for that book and I am so glad I stood my ground. That book was Xu, which I will self-pub again next year. I still love that book.
Tonya:  Great advice! Listening to critiques of our own work is never easy, but we have to step outside ourselves to see what others see. Do you write better when you first have an idea of what your characters look like or do you write, then add character looks? 
A.J.:  To be honest I don’t often think about the looks. I have to go back in and add that stuff. Similarly, I am not one to write five paragraphs about what the characters are wearing.
Tonya:  What attracts you most about men?
A.J.:  I love men! I guess that’s why I write gay erotic romances. More men to love! One man is great. Two or more are fantastic! I love men who have flaws but love their partners and families. I love men who will go to whatever lengths necessary for love. Those are my guys in real life and in books
Tonya:  We’re dying to hear about your latest book. What can you tell us without spoiling the storyline?
A.J.:  Love Unmasked is my latest release. I love this book. I wrote it after a trip to Venice, Italy. I had an idea for it, then I read about a woman who fell and hit her head and wound up in a coma. When she woke up she was speaking in French and was unable to do things she used to do but had developed some odd and unusual new abilities. I researched this and found it so fascinating. It was the basis of my book. It’s kind of an amnesia story but it’s also about two men who are both lost and lonely and looking for their Someone. I loved writing this. And I love the supporting characters. Including a chicken named Shakira (based on a real chicken).
Tonya:  Where can our readers find you and your books?
A.J.:  People can find me here: 
Tonya:  Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?
A.J.:  Yes, thank you for having me here! It’s so much fun.
Tonya:  What is your favorite night time snack?
A.J.:  Chocolate.
Tonya:  Do you like toppings on your ice cream?
A.J.: Yes, I love caramel sauce. You just made me hungry!
Tonya:  What’s your favorite meal - Italian, Mexican, Thai, etc?
A.J.:  I love Thai and Hawaiian food.


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American author Charlie Hawkes wins a writing scholarship to spend a year in Venice, Italy. It’s a magical place, especially when he meets and begins dating sexy young café owner, Franco. But then, Charlie almost dies in a boating accident and winds up in a coma. The next time he sees Franco is during Venice’s renowned Carnivale, and Charlie truly can’t remember him. The cat mask Franco’s wearing, however, triggers something in Charlie’s shattered memory.

Franco is a young man with much sadness in his life. He’s juggling his duties between his café and a chocolate shop in St. Mark’s Square, and desperately yearning for love because his mother disapproves of his sexuality. Not only that, but the one man to whom he’s been attracted—Charlie, the handsome, forgetful American—vanishes for a short time before reappearing and seeming like a different person.

Slowly the masks come off, and it soon becomes apparent that both men have secrets that peel away in layers. Can Franco and Charlie have the passion they desire, and can the love they feel for each other ever be unmasked?



A.J. Llewellyn is the author of over 250 M/M romance novels. She was born in Australia, and lives in Los Angeles. An early obsession with Robinson Crusoe led to a lifelong love affair with islands, particularly Hawaii and Easter Island.

Being marooned once on Wedding Cake Island in Australia cured her of a passion for fishing, but led to a plotline for a novel. A.J.’s friends live in fear because even the smallest details of their lives usually wind up in her stories. A.J. has a desire to paint, draw, juggle, work for the FBI, walk a tightrope with an elephant, be a chess champion, a steeplejack, master chef, and a world-class surfer. She can’t do any of these things so she writes about them instead.

A.J. I started life as a journalist and boxing columnist, and still enjoys interrogating, er, interviewing people to find out what makes them tick.







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