Hiya guys! Today we have the lovely Frey Ortega stopping by with his newest release Play by the Rules, Frey also shares his insights with a Tip from the Pros post, I’ve pinched a bit of an excerpt to share with you and Frey has a fantastic giveaway where two lucky winners will get their own ecopies of Play by the Rules. So guys, check out the post and then leave a comment to enter the giveaway! <3 ~Pixie~
Play by the Rules
It was just supposed to be an interview.
It was just supposed to be one morning.
It was just supposed to be a memory…
How did it end up like this?
Sensitive and melodramatic Emmett Yang has had enough of the dating world. Enter Joe Kaminski, former quarterback–driven, determined, recently out of the closet–and knows exactly who he wants. That just happens to be Emmett.
Emmett is convinced that their chance meeting is just a one-time thing: a memory to be cherished. He doesn’t think that Joe would ever really want to be with him. After all, he’s…him, and Joe is Joe. He’s nowhere near Joe’s nebula, and there are rules and norms and mores to be followed about this sort of situation, none of which end with Joe and him together.
But can the former quarterback show Emmett that there are no rules in love?
Play by the Rules is a standalone gay romantic comedy in the first-person perspective. This book is steamy and includes full sex scenes, searing kisses, dramatic declarations of love and a protagonist’s questionable knowledge of sexual health. It is a HEA, has no cliff-hangers or cheating, and is approximately 59,000 words.
Tips from the Pros(?)
by Frey Ortega
I put a little questioning question mark over at the pros because, much like Emmett from my latest novel, Play by the Rules, I’m constantly second-guessing where I see myself. I have a lot of self-doubt, and much like many authors out there, I’m my own worst critic. Is my work okay? Is this manuscript going to be good? Does it seem like I’m phoning it in? (Spoiler alert: most of the time, no, except during a sex scene and—ugh, I am absolutely NOT feeling sexy) And perhaps the worst question of all:
Am I really a professional now?
Truthfully, I don’t think so.
Honestly, it’s odd to me to be considered a pro being only three years into the world of being a full-fledged author and novelist. It’s the only job I know and the only job I can see myself doing my entire life, but to be sure, there’s a lot of things I wish I knew when I started out with writing.
Now, three years in, I’m nowhere near where I want to be—and I think that’s a good thing. Having room to grow means there’s still a lot of potential left in me that I want to tap into, and there are still so many stories I want to share with everyone out there.
I think that I have three basic tips to give anyone and everyone who wants to start on the journey to being a writer. I’m the kind of guy who does his research: I google obsessively about anything and everything (and doctors hate me for it) and that translates to a desire to be fully prepared for whatever scenario I come across when I’m in a given situation.
With writing, it’s no different. After doing all my research, I’ve been with publishers and I’ve been trying self-publishing; I’ve had dry spells and I’ve had times of great creativity; I’ve done a lot of experimentation with my own career to different levels of success; and if you’ve talked with some of the other authors I constantly whine and bicker with, they know that I’m a worrywart and planner to the extreme. So, if you’re like me, and you need to do your research before you do something totally new, and want to set foot in the world of gay romance fiction writing, I have these three tips to give you.
- Everyone is doing it their own way, and that’s okay.
In the three years I’ve been writing, I’ve talked and asked questions about whether or not Kindle Unlimited is worth it for an author (where, no questions asked, it is probably worth it for an avid reader,) talked and asked questions to exclusive authors who write with no one else but a single imprint of specific publishers; and all manner of authors in between. The truth is that everyone is doing it their own way. Their metric of success is different from your metric of success, and any advice that they give you will not necessarily translate to your own success because what you write and what they write are different.
At any given moment in time, there are hundreds, if not thousands of books about werewolf shifter romances. Some of them have male pregnancy. Some of them involve knotting, or BDSM kinks. Others have no sex at all (the nerve!) If you and Author B write a similar story about those same werewolves, it’ll still be different in a million different variations, and in a million different minuscule ways that add up to a completely different product. These different variations all spell different levels of success.
Unless, you know. You actually copy-paste their product. But please don’t. Don’t even copy-paste your own words. It’s just so…gauche. You’re better than that. (At least I hope you are.)
Whatever the case, you will find that asking for advice from people will yield a mixture of different results and a myriad of different answers. Author A prefers publishing exclusively with Amazon because they are able to churn out fifteen novellas a month and are able to put them all on KU for their readers, and amass a following the size of a small town. Author B prefers publishing with publishers because they just want to focus on writing, with nothing on marketing (because publishers help with that) and they’re okay with the publishers taking a bigger cut of the money because the publishers provide covers, too, and editors. Author C likes to do a mix of both, because money is tight and it’s easier to reach a broader audience with a varied approach.
Honestly, you do you. Experiment. What works for you will not necessarily work for others. Hell, reading this one tip makes the two other tips I’m about to say moot, because I can’t tell you what you can or can’t do as a writer! After all, what worked for me may not necessarily work for you.
- Don’t drop off the face of the earth if you have any social media.
So you write one good novel and you did the marketing circuit once. Everyone’s riding the high of your debut novel and everyone loves what you’ve written! Now you can rest and relax, right?
Wrong. Well, not wholly wrong. Taking a day off is okay—taking a month off? Not so much.
If you’re a streamer on Twitch or aspire to have a YouTube channel, you will find that a non-sporadic upload schedule yields the best results in terms of followers. If viewers know to see you at 6 PM EST every Friday, they’ll tune in every 6 PM EST on Friday.
With marketing as an author, it’s no different. If you’re able to consistently put out work within a certain time frame, you will get a following. Keeping yourself relevant in the eyes of your readership will always be the best way to make sure people follow you. Kooky marketing tactics and having a personality that interacts with your readers are great, but don’t let it be a substitute for a consistent writing schedule.
Trust me, nothing is worse than having to claw back up the ladder because you slacked on your writing. It took me six months to write the sequel to a series that to this day I still have to write the third and final book for. Those six months of no releases pushed me away from the minds of many different readers.
So please, listen to your friendly Frey on this one. Write consistently. Give updates. Don’t drop off the face of the earth, and for goodness sakes, just because you’re busy writing doesn’t mean you should stop marketing your old books, even if you do slow down the Facebook group promo posts!
- You don’t have to stick with something just because it’s expected of you.
I find that the kiss of death for one’s muse and inspiration is when they start writing to trend. It’s okay to listen to your readers and find out what they want, but if it doesn’t align with what you want, it’s okay not to write that, either. Honestly, readers will read what they want to read. Some readers love it when they have an author exclusively for the things they like to read. I’ve seen plenty of men and women who are voracious for paranormal books. Seriously, they can’t stop huffing the high of a sexy vampire or a lascivious lycanthrope longing for their mate. Then you have people who just want to read about two best friends falling in love. The other was straight, and now he isn’t. They’re cowboys. One of them is Heath Ledger. Also, it’s set on a mountain in Colorado, because he just doesn’t know how to quit you.
Finding your niche is great. If it works for you and you want to write in that niche forever, then great! But if you like diversifying and writing stories about anything and everything related to M/M fiction, that’s amazing too. Be the author you want to be, and not the author other people want you to be.
In conclusion: write what you want to write, market consistently, and recognize that what may work for you may not work for someone else.
Let’s face it: being an author isn’t like any other job on the planet, just like being a doctor or being a lawyer isn’t. I can give you three solid tips that worked for me, but another author may say that they did it another way and it was totally fine. If you’re George R.R. Martin levels of meticulous, one book a decade might work, too—but honestly? You do you, boo, and don’t let anyone else tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. Just be prepared to make a lot of mistakes along the way.
And if you think this was helpful in any way, shape or form; if you laughed or even just smiled or if you had a visceral reaction akin to dry heaving and nausea, might I suggest thanking me by buying a copy of my latest book, Play by the Rules? Or going to the doctor. That one might be more important. I would love it if you read the love story between Emmett and Joe. Because we do love our angst and inner turmoil, don’t we? 😊
I combed through my hair and set myself down in front of my desk. God, it looked like a warzone fought with red ink and a bunch of manuscripts. A haphazardly strewn-about pile of papers lay just right on top of my keyboard and my monitor. I fished for my glasses somewhere in the chaos and pushed them up on my nose when I found them.
Then, I set all the papers aside before I put on my headset and turned on my computer. As soon as everything loaded, a notification pop-up appeared on my sidebar.
My editor wanted to talk as soon as I was able.
Well, there was no time like the present. Without hesitation, I immediately clicked on the chat client and tapped the call button on his profile.
The image of my managing editor, Dale Brunson, appeared in front of me. He resembled the quintessential corporate schmoozer, with a bright white, winning smile, and a deadness in his eyes that made him look a little more insincere than most people. Blond hair, blue eyes, a smile that could have powered up a solar panel, and he looked like the kind of guy Hitler might have approved of in his heyday. Maybe ten years of working for a news site did that to you. He’d only started working on the lifestyle and entertainment section in the past two years, and it looked like he was absorbing the lifestyles of the rich and famous through his editorial writing.
But a part of it might have been that he liked bossing people around, and he just came into his own now that he was at managerial level.
The brightness of Dale’s smile was as fake as his tan. Maybe my mood was worse than I originally thought. Usually, he was about as annoying as a mosquito buzzing around one’s head. “A slight nuisance” wasn’t enough of a reason for me to get so uppity so early on in the day, though the fact that Dale looked so perfectly coiffed first thing in the morning just irritated me a little bit more than usual. How could someone look so chipper and ready to take the day on at eight o’clock?
“Emmett! You’re a doll for getting to me so quick. I’m sorry to have to call you out like this,” Dale’s cloying voice felt like an ice pick lobotomy at the moment, but I powered through my distaste for him and plastered the fakest smile that I could on my face. I had to remain professional, after all. “We need to call you into the office. I know freelancers don’t need to show themselves at HQ, but it’s a bit of an emergency and I think you’re just perfect for the assignment. Are you available to be briefed about it sometime this week?”
“Okay,” I said blankly. “Can I ask what the assignment is about? This is a first.”
“Of course, you can!” Dale replied, as he lifted up a cup from off to the side, just out of frame. He brought it to his lips—pinky finger up, of course—and took a loud, almost obnoxious slurp. As Dale swallowed, he grimaced. “Sorry, I heard something about aerating warm kombucha, to make it taste better. It just tastes even more like piss now. But it’s good for you, so who am I to complain, right?”
Dale’s smile was…effervescent. I wanted to slap the shit out of him.
He set his cup to the side once more. “Anyway, the assignment is completely out of your wheelhouse because it’s about sports,” Dale said. “Specifically, someone in sports.”
I immediately grimaced. I knew nothing about sports. “Football is the one with the goalposts and the people tackling each other, right?” I asked. “Or is it the one with the goalies and the kicking?”
Dale shrugged. “Hell if I know.”
Bless his little gay heart. He should thank the universe he was born pretty.
Frey Ortega writes erotic romance, primarily of the gay variety. He lives in what a friend affectionately calls “the south-easternmost part of Spain,” which is an archipelago called the Philippines. He’s a graduate of the Royal, Pontifical, and Catholic University in Manila, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology. Primarily, he works as a writer, a novelist, sometimes a video game journalist, and overall a homebody who spends way too much time on the internet.
He loves writing about people, especially people of all different shapes, sizes and backgrounds, falling in love. You might also find him playing video games from time to time! His favorite ones are MMORPGs, and role-playing games in general (and not just the ones in the bedroom.)