Friday, February 17, 2017

Spotlight! Manny Makes Three by Sean Ashcroft

Hello gorgeous ;)

First of all, I want to thank you for helping me make the release of Spring Fling such a success. I'm overwhelmed by the positive response and so excited for the year ahead--I've got a ton of books planned that I think you'll enjoy!
For example: this one! The official release date for Manny Makes Three is the 13th of February (just in time for Valentine's Day), but because you're a newsletter subscriber, you get an early sneak peek. It's unedited, so please forgive any embarrassing mistakes...
“Hey, have you seen an Alabama licence plate yet?” Mark asked, glancing in the rearview mirror to look at his son. Dylan was colouring peacefully, clearly tired, but Mark felt guilty for leaving him for so long.
Thanksgiving and Christmas had been easy enough. He’d been able to get time off, his family had been around, and babysitters had been everywhere when he’d needed one. Spring break was a different story entirely. He hadn’t seen Dylan in over a week, and he hadn’t realised how much he’d miss him until then.
Dylan was the only person Mark really had in the world. Without him at home, sleeping in his office a few nights a week had seemed like a better deal than driving back and forth to work every single day. He’d been miserable the whole time.
“No,” Dylan responded after going through the checklist in the little notebook he was carrying. They’d started the game when Mark had dropped Dylan off with his sister-in-law, and were continuing it while they drove home to New York.
“He’s a long way from home,” Mark said. “How many you got left?”
“Eleven,” Dylan said after a pause. Sometimes, it was weird that he could count at all. Mark remembered him as a tiny baby, gripping his fingers and grinning up at him. He’d grown up a lot since then, but the memory of him being small enough to hold in one arm was still there.
Not that Mark wished he was still that tiny. Dylan had gotten more fun to be around as he’d aged, developing his own personality, learning stuff about the world. Mark hated that he didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with Dylan as he wanted to. When he’d been little, it hadn’t made so much difference. Now that he was school-age, he knew how often his dad was away. He cared.
Leaving him with Alyssa had been hard. He couldn’t keep doing it. There had to be another solution.
Aside from getting married again, which he didn’t think was about to happen. No one wanted to take on a widower with a kid. Mark wasn’t even sure he was ready to love again.
“Eleven including Alaska and Hawaii?”
“Got Alaska,” Dylan responded.
“Oh, yeah!” Mark smiled as he remembered how excited Dylan had been when he’d spotted it. “Nice. So which ones are left?”
“Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.”
“Maybe we’ll go visit some of those one day. Maybe in the summer,” Mark said, knowing that it wasn’t going to happen. He had no idea how he was going to manage over the summer holidays. When Dylan had been young enough for day-care, it’d been fine, but now that he was in school and there was no one to look after him over the holidays, Mark was screwed. Single parenting was hard, and he had no idea how so many people just did it. He could barely remember how his mom had managed.
She’d had family nearby, though. As an only child, Mark had no one. Not anymore.
“Okay,” Dylan said. It was obvious that he didn’t believe it, either. Mark had never felt more like a bad father than he did now. He’d missed so much of Dylan’s life already, and without help, he’d miss even more of it.
Alyssa had offered to take him on full-time. The idea had made Mark cringe at the time, the thought of losing the only thing he had left in his life too horrifying to really consider. It might have been best for Dylan, though. The stability of always having someone at home when he needed them was more important than Mark’s feelings.
What he actually needed was a nanny. He wasn’t sure those still existed outside of sitcoms, but he could find out. If they worked like he thought they worked, it might serve as a solution to his problems.
He had a spare room, after all, and that room had its own bathroom. He could have someone else living in the house.
The thought was daunting--bringing someone into his life like that, having to share his home with a stranger--but then, the thought of leaving Dylan with Alyssa permanently--or even over the summer--was much, much worse. Mark wasn’t sure he’d survive that.
He glanced in the rearview mirror again and saw that Dylan had fallen asleep. When he was awake, he was all questions and excitement, but asleep, it was impossible to forget that he was still a baby. Six years old wasn’t nearly old enough to understand why Daddy was never around. Why he had to stay with his aunt over the school holidays.
For Dylan’s sake, he’d have to deal with it. He wasn’t going to let his kid grow up feeling like his father didn’t love him. If that meant living with a stranger, fine.
It was much better than having to miss Dylan all the time, or only getting to spend time with him when he was trying to get him fed and bathed and to sleep, or up for school in the morning so he could go in extra early for before school care. That wasn’t fair, either. He deserved to live as normal a life as Mark could give him.
When they got back, he’d look into how nannies worked in the real world. It couldn’t hurt to do a little research. Looking it up didn’t mean he had to do it.
He definitely had to do something, though.

Author Interview

1. Why writing? and why M/M romance?

Like most writers, I was always that kid who sat in the back corner of the library with his head in a book while he was growing up. I've done loads of other things, but I always come back to books--and fiction in general--as the thing I love the most. I write M/M romance because I'm a sucker for a love story and I like one I can imagine myself in even better.

2. What authors influenced your writing and or who are your go to authors to read when you are not writing?

Oh gosh, so many! I read just about everyone in M/M, but I can never quite call that non-work, because I can't help analysing as I go as well. Everyone I've read has influenced me one way or another. I know for certain that I pick up turns of phrase and other snippets in everything I read. I think everyone does.

3. Have you ever collaborated a story with another author?

I have not! I imagine I'd be a nightmare to work with between having no particular sleep schedule and not necessarily writing things in order.

4. Do you find in recent years the popularity of M/M romance has risen drastically?

I suspect it has, since I hadn't heard of it until relatively recently and I now know it's been around for a while, but it could just be that I'm the last one at the party, as usual.

5. What is your typical day like? Do you have a set word count you set for yourself to achieve or do you just let the story flow?

I've tried set word counts and found that what happens is I get to about 90% of them and then... stop. Instead, I set myself a 30 minute timer and make myself write without stopping for the full 30 minutes, then take a little break, then start all over again. I set myself impossible deadlines when I start a new book to speed myself up.

6. How many books do you typically write in a year?

Well, my current pace is about one every five weeks, but I haven't been doing it for a full year yet. I suppose that's 10 a year, but we'll see!

7. Are you a full time writer? 

I split my time between writing and editing these days. One day I might give up the editing, but I rather like meddling with other people's work.

8. Do you find your readership is more men or women?

I don't honestly know. I think the common perception is that most readers are women, but I suspect there's a lot more men reading this genre than people believe. I think a lot of them are mostly quiet about it in public, though.

9. Any advice you can give to new writers in this genre (like myself?) 

Make friends! By far the best thing I've done so far (... other than emotionally torturing innocent fictional queer men) is formed friendships with readers and other authors. You can't do that in every genre, so it's nice that you can do it in M/M romance.

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