The second edition of Spark is out today, but I’m a nervous wreck. This book has been in the world for nearly five years and is loved by many, but the whole North Star Trilogy always seemed to hide in the shadows, even when readers praised it to high heaven. So I’m hoping this reboot will help new readers discover this series and fall in love with the men in it. Hugo and Kevin forever is what several readers have told me all these years later, so I’m hashtagging that! Haha. #HugoKevin4Ever
I’ve had some theories as to why this series didn’t sell well. I discovered at book signings that people didn’t know the series was romance. Many were interested in the books but the price didn’t fit into their book budget. Some picked up Spark and never picked up Fusion or Flare, so I knew I had to fix a few things. My fingers itched to improve these books for a long time, and I edited them from top to bottom. I fixed pacing, characterization, scene order, and a whole lot more. They’re even better than the first edition, and I’m hoping the new covers will revitalize this book so new readers are willing to take a chance on it.
I’m so proud of these books. If I never wrote another thing in my life, I’d die a happy woman knowing these books are now what I first envisioned them to be.
And as you can see, I have a gorgeous man on the cover that fits Kevin so well, it was as if someone made a man from the image I’d created in my head as I wrote. Oh, and the price came way down: from $6.99 down to $3.99 for ebook. Paperback went from $18 down to $14.
Buckle in to read these. Hugo, Kevin, Brooke, and Finn are characters who will revisit you as you go about your day and week. Maybe months and years. Hence the hashtag. Hugo and Kevin feel like real people to many readers and this is a series people re-read again and again.
If you’ve been reluctant to pick up the North Star Trilogy now is the perfect time to take the leap. It’s better than ever, just like Hugo and Kevin are on their second chance at love.
As I offered advance review copies of Spark to reviewers, I’ve had a few people ask me if this was much different than the original release. The answer is truly, that depends on who you ask. Ask me, and I’m going to say it’s vastly different. Ask a reader, and they’ll likely not notice a ton of difference unless they pull out the original and compare it to the second edition, which I do below. I show how the opening scene in Spark has changed to give you a taste of how the narration has tightened. I also discuss a few other changes.
But first, why am I treating this like a full-on new release?
My North Star Trilogy was released in 2013 and 2014 when the MM Romance genre existed in a quiet corner of the world. We didn’t have a ton of authors and we certainly didn’t have a huge readership. That’s changed a lot in the last several years. After Damon Suede spoke at RWA or RT about MM Romance being the fasting growing subgenre of romance, we’ve seen a huge uptick of readers. Readers discovered this fantastic genre and then told their friends who told their friends. It’s great to see so many new readers!
By that point, Spark, Fusion, and Flare were no longer on any best-seller lists, the USA Today “Happily Ever After” Recommended Reads articles touting the books were buried under hundreds of newer recommendations, and the Rainbow Award Finalist distinction was likely forgotten too. The books were buried in the Amazon listings, so new readers likely never heard of them, and I didn’t have the ability to advertise on Amazon to boost visibility since they were with a publisher. Add in the fact that I’ve hardly had a new release in years, and it’s no surprise sales fizzled to nothing. Posy who? Despite readers recommending the trilogy to other readers, it is still nearly invisible.
When I was assured I’d be getting my rights back to this series, I dove into my manuscript and discovered how green of a writer I was back in 2012. Since then I’ve grown a lot, I’ve fixed writing techniques, and I’ve toiled over my craft to improve. I’ve learned about marketing, what sells, what doesn’t, and how to take charge of my own promotion, which I didn’t do before.
The first thing I wanted to change was the covers. At author events, I’ve had readers not recognize Spark, Fusion, and Flare as romance because of the more abstract covers. Romance sells better if there are photographs of people, so I hunted town images that would fit Kevin and Hugo. I wrote about this process over at Two Chicks Obsessed, if you’re curious about the cover redo.
But what’s actually different in the second edition of North Star vs. the first edition?
Mostly it’s how the story is told. The narrative is crisper and will read at a faster pace. I cut out a lot of unnecessary words and simplified sentences that made reading a bit clumsy. I’ll show examples below, but first, the climax . . .
With Spark, I increased the stakes and made the major conflict more intense. Some readers stopped after Spark and never picked up the rest of the books, so they never witnessed Hugo and Kevin’s HEA. That could’ve been because the climax I initially wrote was too weak, or it could’ve been a number of other things. It could’ve been the $6.99 price and the book not being on Kindle Unlimited. Who knows?
I focused on what I could control. My goal was to fix as much of Spark as possible so people were invested enough in Hugo and Kevin’s HEA that they picked up Fusion and Flare to get there.
And in Flare, they get their HEA! Oh, do they get it! 😀
But first, that meant significant edits, new covers, and new summaries. Heck, I was so green back in 2013, I didn’t even know that a tagline could help sell a book. Haha. I’ve learned so much!
So, do you need to buy the new books if you have the old?
No. The heart of the story remains. I didn’t change that. If you were happy with that, no worries. If you want to see the new books, they’ll be on Kindle Unlimited the second I can ensure exclusivity, so feel free to borrow them. As for cost, they will be priced at $3.99 through the release blitz then go up to $4.99.
So what did I change?
Let’s look at the opening scene from the first edition of Spark and compare it to the second edition. The first edition scene is 373 words. The second edition scene tells the exact same story in 290 words and it’s more engaging.
A GENTLE kiss barely brushing against Hugo’s mouth startled him away from a peaceful, inattentive moment. He didn’t mind. He lay on soft grass cooled by the shade of trees. Kevin hovered upside down above him with his nose near Hugo’s chin. He felt a second kiss, almost softer than the first, bottom lips dragging and pulling against each other as Kevin lifted his head away and came in for yet another.
Hugo could feel Kevin’s soft breaths fan out over his mouth, could taste him, making him want to kiss again and again. And deeper. But Kevin kept it all sweet and tender, lips on lips, the sensitive pull and drag almost ticklish at some points.
A raindrop fell on Hugo’s cheek, but he ignored it. Nothing would pull him away from this perfect moment.
His tongue drifted up just a bit, lightly grazing Kevin’s lower lip as he moved toward Kevin’s chin, and the quiet, wet sounds of their mouths moving together was sinful to Hugo’s ears.
Another raindrop, followed by several more.
Hugo refused to give this beautiful instant up to something as trivial as getting wet, so he tilted his head, opening his mouth for something deeper—something that might ground them enough to ignore the rain that seemed to be coming down harder with each passing second. Kevin licked into Hugo’s mouth, intensifying the kiss, seeming to pour all his love into Hugo’s lips. Hugo tried to do the same, to share the moment with their mouths. They seemed to be informing each other of their love in a way their words never were able to manage.
Then water poured from the heavens, and they were drenched.
Kevin pulled away, quickly helping Hugo to his feet and dragging him by the hand away from the wooded meadow and toward the trail.
If Hugo had known that was to be the last kiss they would share, he would’ve stayed, kissing Kevin with water dripping down his face, into his ears, his mouth, his eyes—his clothes soaking through, his body getting cold. But he had run away from the green meadow framed by trees, following Kevin as tiny purple and pink flowers became a blur the faster they ran.
A gentle kiss brushed against Hugo’s mouth, startling him away from a peaceful, inattentive moment. He didn’t mind. He lay on plush grass cooled by the shade of trees. Kevin hovered above him with his nose near Hugo’s chin. A second kiss, softer than the first, bottom lips dragging as Kevin shifted away and came in for yet another.
Breaths fanned over Hugo’s mouth so he could taste Kevin, making him want to kiss again and again. And deeper. But Kevin kept it sweet, tender, lips on lips, the sensitive pull almost ticklish at points.
A raindrop landed on Hugo’s cheek, but he ignored it. Nothing would drag him away from this perfect moment.
His tongue drifted up, grazing Kevin’s lower lip. It sounded sinful.
Another raindrop, followed by several more.
Hugo refused to give this beautiful instant up to something as trivial as getting wet. So he tilted his head, opening his mouth for something deeper—something that might ground them enough to ignore the rain that came down harder with each passing second. Kevin licked into Hugo’s mouth, intensifying the kiss, seeming to pour all his love there. Hugo tried to do the same, sharing his love in a way his words never managed.
Then water poured from the heavens, drenching them.
Kevin pulled back, helping Hugo to his feet, tugging him away from the wooded meadow.
If Hugo had known that was to be the last kiss they’d share, he would’ve stayed. Kissed Kevin with water dripping down his face, into his ears, his mouth, his eyes—his clothes soaked until he shivered. But he’d run away from the green meadow framed by trees, following Kevin as tiny purple and pink flowers blurred the faster they ran.
Same story but told better. There are fewer words to trip you up, and the narration gets you to the good stuff quicker. What that meant for Spark is this: despite expanding a few scenes, I ended up cutting 14,000 words from the entire book. For Fusion, which is still going through final edits but without scene additions, that meant I cut about 9,000 words. And I have no clue how many words I’ll cut from Flare.
I hope this helped you decide if you want the new editions or if you’re happy to stick with the old. If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, consider subscribing. If I am lucky enough to get a BookBub Featured Deal, I’ll be sure to let all my readers know about that so they can pick it up at a reduced price. Same with Amazon Countdown Deals.
All three books are up for preorder on Amazon. Click on the images to buy.
I LOVED these books, guys. This series is fantastic, and I fell head over heels for these characters.
~Mrs. Condit & Friends Read Books – Jules Lovestoread
I highly recommend reading all the books in the series, and I applaud Posy Roberts again for creating these subtle stories full of interesting, lovable characters and authentic, relatable life events.
~Prism Book Alliance – Christine
At long last, I get to share the covers of the North Star Trilogy with you. I’ve been sitting on these since January! That’s an awful long time for someone who was super excited to share.
North Star will be re-released over 3 months. Each book will be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited for the first time ever, and the price will be brought down. I’m hoping more people will be able to pick up the whole series at the lower price point or at least be exposed to it via KU.
Add these USA Today “Happily Ever After” Recommended Reads to your Summer TBR List today!
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance, Bisexual, Gay Fiction
first love | second-chance | coming of age | hurt/comfort
gay romance | trilogy | angst | family saga | fatherhood
Cover Design: Olive Us Designs
So, without further adieu, let me introduce Kevin and Hugo’s new covers.
June 23, 2018
A love story with a seventeen-year intermission.
Hugo Thorson fell in love when he was sixteen. He’s maybe been in love since, but probably not. He’s been too busy directing plays to devote much time to men who can’t accept all of him. No one ever made him feel like his first love did.
Kevin Magnus married a woman and has two children, but the marriage wasn’t happy. In the shadow of divorce, he’s striving to be a better father, but he’s still a work in progress.
When Hugo and Kevin bump into each other at the lake, memories of their last kiss incite a new first kiss. Visions of the life they always wanted are vivid, but so much stands in the way of their dreams. Hugo is out and proud but no one knows Kevin’s bisexual. If Kevin comes out, he risks losing custody of his kids. If he doesn’t walk hand in hand with Hugo, he risks losing the love of his life.
Everyone in Kevin’s life knows him as straight rather than bisexual. There was no need to come out until now, but loving Hugo is worth any prejudice he’ll encounter. Hugo does his best to be patient while Kevin navigates his way toward openness, but he refuses to be put back in a closet for long.
Kevin wants to tell his kids without screwing up their newfound stability, and he worries about telling his ex because Erin might use the truth against him to renegotiate custody. Kevin wants it all finalized, but time isn’t on his side.
When Erin gets grim news, it shakes everyone to the core and rips Kevin away from the life he planned with Hugo. The news brings Hugo’s past hurts bubbling to the surface. Yet when Erin turns to Hugo for support, their new connection shows him how essential he is to Kevin and his kids.
Despite the chaos, it’s clear Hugo is very much a part of this unconventional family.
Hugo and Kevin strive to put their lives back together after tragedy, doing everything in their power to create a stable life. Hugo’s acting career is back on track, and Kevin hires a nanny to help with the kids as they discover their new normal. But when Erin’s parents seek full custody of Brooke and Finn, that stability is shattered.
With Hugo working in LA or New York, the distance from his new family gets to him. At home, the nanny’s hands-on approach leaves Hugo feeling pushed out, so he says farewell to his beloved apartment and eclectic neighborhood to move in with Kevin.
Hugo has a hard time fitting in with the suburbanites with Kevin’s passive-aggressive “friends” making Hugo feel anything but welcome. As the custody case heads to mediation, Brooke is bullied about having two dads, and Hugo realizes his mere presence might be doing more harm than good.
Hugo must decide to stay and fight for his family or leave and let them live in peace.
A few years back, I decided to save money and create my own cover for Bent Arrow. I was never in love with it, but more importantly, it didn’t convey the story behind the cover. So I decided to try again, and Bent Arrow now has a cover that conveys the lonely life of an oilman.
Luther loves his single life until Eric shows him what loving really means.
Luther’s life is perfect—short-lived jobs, temporary housing, and easy hookups. Inheriting his grandma’s lake house is the last thing he wants, even if the plumbing in his tiny trailer doesn’t work. When Erik arrives to fix Luther’s pipes, a tattoo hints he might be up for more than working on the drain, though he’s shy about it.
They kiss—unheard of—and when Luther wakes to an empty bed, he’s disappointed. He can’t get their night out of his head. The last thing he expects is to want more. Yet every time they’re together, Luther feels grounded and Erik comes out of his shell.
When the lake house demands attention, Luther asks for Erik’s help. Working side by side, he imagines a more permanent life, one where he stops running. A life with Erik. Now to ask. But the skeletons in Erik’s closet might make this relationship as temporary as all the rest.
Format: E-book & Paperback
104 Pages | 1-2 Hours to read | 22,000 Words
It’s been a tough winter in Minnesota, but this weekend we had weather that made everything better. No coats. Jackets necessary only when the sun went down. And my kid even took a little walk barefooted!
We walked Olive, our little pooch, around the block, and she was in puppy heaven with all the smells she discovered, which was wonderful to witness after the rocky week she’d had. She ended up in the ER with tachycardia because she got into something she shouldn’t have. But all is well now. She’s back to her normal self, and on Wednesday, she goes in to get fixed.
I’m getting the rights back to North Star and have been working hard to make the stories even better than they were when first released five years ago. I love these characters so much, and they all deserve my best. This new incarnation really brings them even more to life than the original did.
I know many readers of MM Romance weren’t reading in the genre back in 2013 so you may not have ever heard of these stories. I’ve had readers come up to me years after reading to tell me how much these books impacted them, and that’s about the best thing I could ever ask for is having my story sticking with readers for years.
For those who’ve read this before, you might notice some changes. Mostly I’ve rearranged scenes for better flow and pacing and taken lessons learned over the years to improve my writing. The story is still the same, just a lot better! ❤︎
This series is about second chance love amidst the complications of healing hearts, divorce, fatherhood, and life.
Spark is the most lighthearted book of the three with a nice HFN. Fusion comes with a five tissue alert but ends on a happy note, but you won’t want to stop there. Flare is where Hugo and Kevin finally find the stability they need for their happily ever after, even if there is a lot of work getting there. Guaranteed book hangover.
This is a saga told over three books with separate story arcs in each book nestled under the huge rainbow of a story told throughout the trilogy.
This week I’m working on my final read through of Spark, tweaking those last few words and polishing everything I can before sending this off to proofers. I’m not sure on my re-release schedule with that. And because I have to deal with Amazon’s rights reversion team since this was previously published with Dreamspinner Press, I’ve decided to do something new.
I’ve created a sign-up sheet for anyone who’d like to be notified about North Star when it’s released. Click on the button below! This is through my newsletter, so if you’re already subscribed, update your info so I can get you on the right list. If you don’t do that, you’ll likely get the notification after all the books are released rather than one by one.
Crazy Monday. Crazy week. Heck, it’s been a crazy month! Then again, April always seems to be.
This is my writing month (as opposed to an editing month) and also the month where Camp NaNoWriMo is happening. I love the camp far more than the huge event in November. Part of that is because of timing. Right before the holidays is not a good time for me. The other part is I get to choose my own word count rather than be locked in to write 50,000 words. This month I chose 25,000 as my goal, partly because I’ve been locked into editing jobs that authors needed to push back a month for one reason or another.
My word count for this month is currently at 9,148, which is pathetic for those times when my words are pumping. That’s a day for me at times. Three if I’m hitting my 3K a day goal. But I’m still pleased about where I am.
Afterall, I went a year with barely a word typed on a story. I’m happy with five hundred words on my writing days. I’ve gotten that each day I’ve written.
For anyone who lives where Kindle Unlimited works, I currently have 4 books you can borrow over there. Farm Fresh& Picked Fresh haven’t been on KU together for a couple of years. Silver Scars hasn’t been on KU since 2015. And I decided to put Love on a Battlefield on as well.
Back to editing. There are some amazing stories coming out in the next month or two. Maybe I’ll start telling you about them here. 🙂
I’ve moved some books over to KU. So if you’ve been curious about a book but unwilling to take the plunge and buy it, now you can borrow it and see if it’s up your alley.
Here’s what I’m offering on Kindle Unlimited for now.
Farm Fresh is gorgeous, and the emotional impact will leave you gasping and aching for more. ~Just Love – Romance Novel Reviews
This is truly an outstanding story. I carried my Kindle everywhere with me…. All day. I refused to do anything until I finished. ~Diverse Reader
Sexy, sensual and satisfying. ~Alpha Book Club
Just like the first story, I could picture myself right there in the rainbow bus on the road with Jude and Hudson. ~Sinfully MM Book Reviews
Picked Fresh is a tremendously gratifying story that shows extensive character growth and development, giving us a much deeper look into not just Hudson and Jude, but Leo and Charlie as well. ~Making it Happen
We need more books like this. Ones that show body and sex positive people in a way that will make you rethink any preconceived notions you might have. ~Diverse Reader
All our favorite characters have some MAJOR “soul” development here. ~OpenSkyeBookReviews
This is not your usual romantic story. It goes way beyond that. I had the impression I was there, in the book, living in alongside Gil and Keith. They felt so real, their story felt real and I’m sure that, for someone out there, this is not a story at all.
~Mikky’s World of Books
This book is about one of the greatest losses that we may encounter. The loss of ourselves, of our identity, but it is also a book about hope and second chances. It is a book full of hope and optimism. Read it because it’s worth it. ~Three Books Over the Rainbow
The writing is brilliant, as is the plot, and the characters just jump off the page and straight into your heart! ~Bike Book Reviews
…feelings of hope and of loss and so much uncertainty, but they do eventually find their way. ~Jules – My Fiction Nook
Andrew conquered my heart. I feel like I knowhim well, the same way as I know a friend. ~Stella – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
A very charming feel-good love story about finding your true self and getting a second chance at love. ~Tanja – Goodreads Reviewer
Five times as many males as females are diagnosed with autism.
RJ Scott is hosting the Autism Blog Hop again this year. Check out the master post here and follow along to read about your favorite authors’ hopes, dreams, and wishes for the world. There are prizes at each stop.
My hope: Accepting a person at face value.
More than anything, that is what I wish for our world. Not ascribing a list of “must-meets” or “expectations” to a person within seconds of meeting them, but holding off on those snap judgments so we can open our hearts to get to know each other better. To really let them form from the ground up rather than be compared.
I think our world would be better for it. I think we’d all be less defensive. And when we’re less defensive, we are given an in to really get to know each other.
Opening a new book and getting to know a character is something readers do all the time. Do we go in with expectations? Maybe, but more often than not, we allow writers to take us on a journey. We might know the country or state we’re in, but we really don’t know how we’re getting to the endpoint.
Imagine if we were that open to everyone we met. We fall for fictional characters because we let them inside, we open ourselves up to them, we let them tell us their stories.
My wish for the world is that we’d be more willing to do that with each other.
Many of the characters have shut the world off because of hurt or judgments. Below are a few of my books where pushing those walls aside led to love.
Comment below for a chance to win one of the e-books above. Tell me what makes you open your heart to a character. I’ll draw the winner next week at the end of April, so check back.