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Community of Storytellers by Robert Winter
I spent nearly twenty years as a lawyer in large international law firms, where all my writing was adversarial and designed to score points. I crafted arguments to persuade. I molded law and facts to tell the story I wanted a judge to know, and I asked her to give my client the ending it sought. My audience was usually limited to other attorneys in my law firm, a client, a judge or her law clerks, and opponents who wanted to find flaws in my analysis or spin a different story. It was lucrative, but it never satisfied my creative desires.
When I wrote September, I finally got to tell a story from beginning to end without worrying about whether it appeased a client or convinced a judge. I thought that would be the best thing about going from lawyer to author. I was wrong.
The biggest and most pleasant surprise about having my first novel published has been to discover that I am now part of a community of storytellers who support each other and want us all to succeed. I was lucky enough to attend GRL 2016 in Kansas City, my first M/M conference. The buzz on Facebook before I attended had me somewhat alarmed at the enthusiasm. As an introvert, I thought I would likely spend the days hiding in the back of the room for various panels, and maybe work up the courage to ask one or two favorite authors for an autograph. Instead, from the moment I arrived at the hotel, I felt I was part of a conversation. In a large room filled with writers I quickly found connections. BG Thomas signed books for me. Jordan Hawk talked to me about Whybourne and Griffin and what was coming next. Hank Edwards suggested which book of his would make a good starting point. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to talk to these published authors!
Then there were the readers. I met several people who were fanboying and fangirling as hard as I was. They were there to meet their favorite authors, to be introduced to new ones, to find out what books are coming out soon, to play bingo and even to watch ice hockey together. I realized quickly that even those readers who claimed they had no writing talent themselves actually did tell a story, each time they discussed their favorite books and what those books meant to them at different times of their lives.
It just kept getting better. I met freakin’ Alexa Land, whose Coming Home was one of the first M/M books I ever found, and whose entire Firsts and Forever series I’ve read through at least twice. I met CJane Elliott and got advice on how to promote my book. I went for coffee with BG Thomas and Pat Henshaw. I took pictures with Brandon Witt and Devon McCormack. It was like the best high school reunion, where everyone was excited to see old friends and to make new ones. I have been out as a gay man for more than 30 years, but I came away from GRL convinced I had found a new tribe.
As the release date for September approached, many of the authors and readers I met posted comments about my book, or gave me advice, or just traded funny stories. I got release day reviews, guest blog invitations, feedback on Goodreads. I experienced the joy of readers loving my characters, and finding emotional satisfaction in my story. (Does it make me a bad person that I love the reviews that mention I made them cry?) Remarkably to me, I recognized the names of some of the readers and reviewers from having met them at GRL, months before my book was out.
What I learned from this experience is that our M/M community is much bigger and more passionate than I ever imagined. The writers and readers and bloggers and reviewers and cover artists and narrators and publishers all do it because they love M/M. More, they want to spread that love because they want to keep reading and telling these kinds of stories.
I’m energized by the passion that this community creates, and I’m lucky to have found my way home.
David James is smart, successful, handsome… and alone. After the death of his lover, Kyle, from cancer, he buried himself in his law practice and the gym. At forty-eight, he is haunted by his memories and walled off from the world. When David injures himself working out, he’s assigned to Brandon Smith for physical therapy. The vibrant young therapist is attracted to David and realizes he needs a hand to get back into dating. What begins as a practice coffee date escalates to friendship, passion, and maybe something more, as they navigate a new relationship in Washington, DC, and the gay mecca of Provincetown.
But David remains trapped behind the barrier of fear and guilt. Will he remain loyal to Kyle’s memory if he moves on? Can he and Brandon manage a twenty-two-year age gap? Brandon thinks he understands David’s concerns, and for him, the answer to those questions is yes. He wants to be with David, and he believes he can overcome David’s barriers. But Brandon fails to account for the world’s reaction to a handsome young man attached to an older, wealthy lover. David’s memories, Brandon’s pride, and an unexpected tragedy might cost them something very special.
About the Author
Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other.
Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of fifteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.
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