19 January 2015

Beyond: Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Who in your personal life was the biggest supporter of your writing?
I come from a family of librarians and booksellers, so growing up, everyone was always very supportive of my writing. These days, my husband and my best friends are my biggest cheering section—they get why writing LGBT romance is so important to me.

Do you prefer quiet or background noise when writing? If background noise, what?
I do a spotify playlist for each book I’m working on. Different books demand different music—it was non-stop a cappella music for Treble Maker, a lot of Katy Perry with a side of Jethro Tull for Delivered Fast, a steady beat of heavy metal for Resilient Heart, and some super-fun college music for Winning Bracket. When I can’t focus on music with words, I use movie soundtracks.

What is one thing you wish your readers could understand about the writing process?
I think it’s hard to understand how much of writing is actually rewriting—it’s not enough to just love a story and want to tell it. It’s being willing to wrestle with it, shape it, come back to it dozens of times to get it right.

If your characters could come to life and be a real human, which one do you think you would get along with best and which one would drive you crazy first?
I think Ollie from Winning Bracket and Robby from Served Hot (coming in March) and Lance from Delivered Fast (coming in May) would be the most fun to hang out with. Each is a really fun, happy guy who loves having friends and good conversation. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that * I* would drive Xander and Mackey from Resilient Heart a little nuts in person—my DH has a lot of ex-military friends and they don’t always get my crunchy granola Pacific Northwest persona.

When did you start writing and what was your inspiration?
I’ve written ever since I was a kid. My very first inspiration? I wanted my Barbie dolls to come to life, so I wrote stories for them instead.

Is there a genre or type of book that you love to read but could never write and if so why?
Historicals. I love historical fiction, but I don’t have patience for the research or a good grasp on world building like one has to have for a historical series.

Since you've been writing how much has the genre changed? Good, bad?
The m/m and LGBT romance genre has absolutely exploded in the last two years! The romance genre in general is on a huge upswing.

Seeing more and more authors going the "self-pub' route. Thoughts?
I believe in doing a mix of self-pub and traditionally published books. I love working with my agent and the awesome people at Kensington publishing. I can’t wait to bring out my Portland Heat series this spring with them. But self-publishing lets me bring out previously released titles and add new content like I’m doing with Winning Bracket and Resilient Heart. Regardless of method, I am obsessive about the editing process—I think a good editor is worth their weight in gold.

How much thought do you as an author put into your cover, cover models etc. And has that changed since you started writing. If so, have you or will you go back and re-do covers you’re no longer pleased with?
My publisher handled the covers for the Portland Heat books, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. For my self-published titles, I relied on good word of mouth to find a cover artist with a style I loved. Each cover went through multiple drafts before my cover artist and I were satisfied!

What is the most intense scene you have ever written? Did you find it difficult writing that scene?
In Resilient Heart, there is a really intense scene where Xander is very depressed. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but the tears were totally worth it.

If you could write in any genre that you've never tried, what would it be and why?
I’m lucky. I write exactly what I want to. But that said, at some point it might be fun to try a YA.

When thinking about writing any specific genre, what triggers your fears and insecurities the most?
I think the same fears surface with any new project: Can I pull this off? Can I make this authentic? Can I treat this subject with the respect it demands? Can I make this complex character likeable? The more I love a story and love the characters, the more anxious I get that I can’t do the story justice.

When writing, what comes first? The characters or the plot?
A scenario usually comes to mind first—like a short little book blurb creeps into my brain. Then I flesh out the characters, learn more about them. Next, I do more plotting, then as I plot, I learn even more about the characters and continue to shape the characters through plot.

Do you find that you write what you love to read? Or a different genre?
I read just about everything—romantic suspense, historical, mysteries, erotica, YA.

Do you ever write your own personal fantasies into your books?
Not really. I think you have to have a certain distance from the plot and the characters to let them have a life of their own. I’ve had plenty of characters with tastes very different from mine. And that excites me—I like spending time with very different personalities.

How much if any of your story line comes from real life people or events?
Occasionally a news story will spark a plot bunny. I usually tweet/share those!

How many times do you read what you wrote and think "where the hell did that come from?!"
All. The. Time.

Do you have to look at the keys when you type?
Not usually, but if I’m not familiar with the keyboard sometimes I have to double check J

How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
A whole lot of wood.

What are you two favorite 80’s movies?
The Breakfast Club and Risky Business.

Why are man-hole covers round?
Because circles are pretty :)

   Originally published as part of the Campus Cravings bundle, Winning Bracket is now available on its own with a BRAND NEW bonus epilogue/short story!

A sexy bet on a basketball tournament challenges nerdalicious Edwin and party-boy Ollie to change their relationship status from frenemies to lovers.

Oliver Marshall has been a sexy pain in Edwin Schultz’s side since freshman year. Now seniors and competing dorm resident advisors, the two are in constant strife over noise levels and study hours. However, deep down, Edwin’s been nursing a painful crush on Ollie for years. When Ollie proposes a bet on a basketball tournament, Edwin seizes the chance to put his inconvenient feelings for Ollie behind him once and for all.

Edwin’s not the only one suffering a case of unwanted attraction—Ollie’s been running from his feelings for Edwin for a long time. He doesn't understand how someone who drives Ollie so crazy with his adherence to rules can be the same guy who makes his pulse pound. In fact, Ollie’s never been so eager to lose a bet in his life.

As the challenge becomes a hot bedroom battle to avoid real emotions, the two “frenemies” must change their definitions of losing to win a shot at lasting love.

BONUS Epilogue/Short Story, Winning Wedding: When a lost receipt threatens their special day, Ollie and Edwin must wager on finding a solution before time runs out.
Ollie kept looking at him, dark eyes patient and kind, like he really did care about Edwin and Edwin’s GPA. The dark slashes of his eyebrows were a contrast to his creamy skin and heart-shaped mouth, offsetting his elfin features with a masculine edge that had always intrigued Edwin.
Edwin exhaled a long, you-win sigh. “Maybe I’ll try not to go all RA Buzzkill while the games are on.”
“Awesomesauce! You should come grab some pizza too.” Ollie grinned widely, showcasing a row of perfectly white, straight teeth. Having an orthodontist dad had its perks—high limit credit cards and a gorgeous smile. “And you should do the bracket challenge!”
“For what reason?” Edwin refused to be dazzled by Ollie’s smile. Or charmed by Ollie’s attempts to rearrange the English language. If he wasn’t adding “-ie” sounds to perfectly good nouns, he was coining his own adjectives. Like “awesomesauce.” Ridiculous word.
“For fun.” Ollie snorted like Edwin had asked an absurd question. Like randomly picking game-winners from an array of schools Edwin had never heard of was the best way to spend Sunday. “I’ve got some great prizes lined up.”
“I don’t need a prize.”
“Oh come on. We could bet.” Ollie’s eyes sparkled. “Like if my final-four bracket beats yours, you host the watch party.”
“Dream on.” Edwin tried to ignore the feeling of intrigue curling low in his gut.
“Oh come on, Eddie. Think about what would happen if you won! Isn’t there something you want from me?”
You have no idea. Really, none. Edwin had spent the last three years being very, very careful to hide even a hint of “something” from the too-perceptive Ollie. This year had been the worst. Ever since August…
 And okay, he was not going to think about August right then. Not with Ollie sitting on the bed looking all eager. Like he’d enjoy nothing more than making Edwin’s dreams come true, though Edwin knew that was far from the case.
Edwin wasn’t a jock, he wasn’t a party guy, he wasn’t tall, he wasn’t cute—he was nothing like the guys Ollie crushed on. No, Ollie was a lit firecracker, and Edwin knew better than to grab on and hope the bang wouldn’t explode in his face.
“I don’t know anything about the teams—no point in doing random guesses.”
“No point? The whole point of the tournament is random guesses! Grady won our floor’s pool last year by picking all dog mascots to advance and all cat mascots to lose. I kept track of the teams the whole season, and I came in second. There’s no way to predict which big-time teams are going to choke.”
Ollie’s hands grabbed at his own throat, his fingers curving like claws, his eyes crossing, his mouth emitting horribly realistic gagging sounds. Right when Edwin started to get a bit worried, Ollie dropped his hands and grinned. “You know. Choke. Whiff on their chances. Lose even though everyone thought they’d win. But that’s the absolute best part of March Madness—the Cinderella stories. The tiny teams that no one sees coming, and they seize the moment!” Ollie’s hands grabbed at the air in front of him. Like the moment was a real thing to seize. Like randomness and chaos were things people should want.
“Cinderella stories?”
“Because they finally get a chance to go to the big dance.” Ollie’s hands stopped moving. His face sagged. Like Edwin’s lack of basketball IQ was zapping his energy. “Come on. You make some guesses, and if you’re right, I’ll do whatever you want. And if you’re wrong—”
“Hold up. If I filled out a bracket and mine beat yours, you’d do whatever I wanted? Like anything?”
“Sure.” Ollie shrugged, an insolent lift of surprisingly wide shoulders inside a too-big shirt. “I mean not all day. But sure, you want me to be a slave for an hour or something, I can take it.”
Ka-pow. The firecracker exploded, hot want raining down on Edwin, sparking against his skin. Anything. Ollie-as-slave images began to run on repeat in his brain, Ollie getting considerably less clothing with each pass. Edwin could ask for anything, and it would just be a joke to Ollie—a lark to be laughed over later, no more of a big deal than opening up with a can of silly string or shorting his sheets every night for a week.
Oh my God. Would it work? Could he use something like this—a stupid bet on stupid basketball—to exorcise the Ollie demons that had plagued him for years, all without having to admit how he felt about Ollie? Because while Ollie had been busy with the jock-crush-of-the-month plan, Edwin had been hung up on Ollie. For three and a half years. If a stupid bet could shake Edwin free, then it was worth having to learn something about basketball.
“Okay,” he whispered.
“Yay!” Ollie clambered off the bed, springs squeaking as he hit the floor. “You’ll see. This is going to be a great couple of weeks! So what are we going to play for this week? If my bracket does better by Sunday night, you send an email supporting the next watch party and you show up. And if you win…”
“I want a kiss.” The words escaped Edwin before he could call them back, before he could temper them with logic or suppress them with reality.

  Originally released as part of the Unconditional Surrender bundle, now available as a stand-alone novella complete with BRAND-NEW 10,000 word short story/epilogue. When a wounded soldier is forced to accept help from his former best friend, both men discover the true strength of their entwined hearts.

Army IT specialist Xander keeps his emotions wired as tight as his NETCOM gear, but when he’s seriously injured by an IED, his whole life unravels. Running out of options, Xander must accept help from his ex-friend-with-benefits, Mackey. However, Xander’s had feelings for Mackey for years, and close quarters only complicates his emotions. Further, Xander doesn’t know which is worse: combating his inner demons or dealing with Mackey’s guilty kindnesses.

Mackey’s always kept his emotions close to his chest, but now he’s got a secret that could destroy his one chance with the man he cares far too much for. Both men will have to heal their wounded hearts to ensure a future together.

Entwined Future: In this new short story, Mackey has news that could change everything for him and Xander, but a visit from Xander's family jeopardizes Mackey's plans--and forces Xander to confront some harsh truths.
   In Portland, Oregon, the only thing hotter than the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are the hard-working men who serve it up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Robby is a self-employed barista with a busy coffee cart, a warm smile, and a major crush on one of his customers. David is a handsome finance director who works nearby, eats lunch by himself, and expects nothing but "the usual"—small vanilla latte—from the cute guy in the cart. But when David shows up for his first Portland Pride festival, Robby works up the nerve to take their slow-brewing relationship to the next level. David, however, is newly out and single, still grieving the loss of his longtime lover, and unsure if he’s ready to date again. Yet with every fresh latte, sweet exchange—and near hook-up—David and Robby go from simmering to steaming to piping hot. The question is: Will someone get burned?

First in the new Portland Heat series!
   From its famous coffee to the mouthwatering fare at its cafés, restaurants, and bakeries, Portland, Oregon, has a lot to whet the appetite, including the hard-working men who serve it all up—hot, fresh, and ready to go—with no reservations…

Vic Degrassi is a baker on the rise, and it’s all thanks to his rare ability to make—and keep—his New Year’s resolutions. Whether it’s losing weight, giving up smoking, or graduating from culinary school, Vic goes after what he wants—and gets it. This year? He wants Robin Dawson, the sweet-hearted hottie who volunteers with him at the local homeless shelter. When he learns that Robin is suddenly single after being unceremoniously dumped, Vic is more than happy to offer a shoulder to cry on—or at least a fresh-baked pastry to bite into. But it’s been a long time since Vic’s gone on a date, and he’s nervous about risking his friendship with Robin. So when their flirtation turns into a steamy night together, Vic and Robin have to figure out if they’re friends with benefits or lovers in the making, and if Robin is ready for something more than just a rebound. There’s only one way to find out: turn up the heat…

  Portland, Oregon, aka Hotlandia, where the coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries are ready to serve everything piping hot, fresh, and ready to go—like the hard-working, hard-bodied men behind the counters—with no reservations…
Sure, Chris O’Neal has problems. His restaurant is still co-owned by his ex. His flannel-and-tattoos style is making him accidentally trendy. He can’t remember the last time he went out and had fun. But he’s not lonely, he’s driven. And the hot bakery delivery boy is not his problem, no matter how sweet his buns.

Chris is old enough to know Lance Degrassi’s sculpted good looks and clever double entendres spell nothing but trouble. Lance is still in college—he should be hitting the clubs and the books, chasing guys his own age, not pursuing some gruff motorcycle-riding workaholic. Especially when he’ll be leaving for grad school in a few months. But Lance keeps hanging around, lending a hand, charming Chris to distraction. Maybe some steaming hot no-strings indulgence won’t hurt.

Then again, maybe it will…

Third in the Portland Heat series!


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