Flare was released yesterday, so the entire trilogy is out. Spark is on 99¢ in the US and UK for the next few days, so if you haven’t started, this is the best price you’ll ever get for the entire trilogy.
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.
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.
This week I’m finishing up a major restructure and edit of Spark. Yes, you read that correctly. I’m getting the rights back to the entire North Star Trilogy later this year and each book is going to be re-edited.
Spark is getting the most work. I’ve restructured how the book is laid out, moving scenes around, combining some, and cutting a lot of words. I’ve added scenes as well, reworked the climax of the book to make it stronger, and added a bit more to both Kevin and Hugo’s heroic journies.
While I don’t want to change the meat and bones of the story, I am cutting some of the fat and adding more muscle. In the end, I’m hoping Spark will be a much stronger start to the series.
North Star is a trilogy meant to be read in its entirety to get the whole story. Each book has it’s own plot twists and turns, but there is an overall arc that spans the series.
True love is worth fighting for, even if the world tries to tell you differently.
Spark is a story about the start of a relationship that burns so hot and fast that Hugo and Kevin are overwhelmed by it. Thankfully they meet again seventeen years later when they’re more mature, and they get a second chance at romance. Even after all those years, their passion never waned, but life got a lot more complicated. Kevin has kids and an ex-wife. Hugo has a hurt heart from past relationships.
Fusion is when reality comes crashing down on Hugo and Kevin. After they’ve decided to really give their relationship a go, complications are thrown at them that could completely derail their plans to build a life together. But rather than drift apart, they make the decision to fuse their lives and support each other through a very difficult time.
Flare is where the story has been headed this entire time. It’s obvious in Spark that Hugo and Kevin belong together. Fusion made that all the more clear, even showing what great parents they’ll be. And just when you think they’ll finally have a chance to live their happily ever after, people try to throw traps in their way that put Kevin’s kids at risk. But they don’t allow any of those obstacles to get in the way of building their future together.
I introduce elements in book one I don’t resolve until book three. People who read all three books have raved about the trilogy, but there was something that stopped a lot of readers after Spark. That’s what I’m truly trying to address here.
I also have new covers, which I can’t wait to share. I don’t know when I’ll do that. Maybe once dates are pinned down. There will be men on these covers. I finally found two models who came as close to representing Hugo and Kevin for me as any. That was the hardest part in 2013 when the original covers were first being considered. Rather than being disappointed by a thousand more stock photos of men, I decided to forego people entirely.
Over the years, I’ve met many readers who had no clue North Star was a romance. A few years back I tried to remedy that by asking my publisher to bundle the three books together and putting a couple of the cover. That sold better, but the couple didn’t quite depict Hugo and Kevin. So I’m hoping putting men on the cover will give a clearer first impression that these books are romances.
Some new images popped up recently that all worked together, so experiments happened. And then covers happened. They’ll be black and white, for the most part, with titles reminiscent of the original covers, as you can see above. Take a gander on the right sidebar to see the original covers. I wanted to stick with orange, blue-gray, and green.
Once I’m done with my edits on Spark and get those sent off to beta readers, I’ll be back to working on my editing work for other authors.
That’s what I’m working on this week. What are you up to?
I recently wrote a story with a main character in an enmeshed, codependent relationship with his best friend. Months before the story opens, he begins the long journey to end the unhealthy nature of their relationship while attempting to salvage the friendship. When a new love interest shows up and it gets serious, his friend clings for dear life. He knows he needs to make even more of a change if his new relationship stands a chance.
Sounds like a meaty, angsty book, right? In fact, my story is lighthearted and playful, but it does have that serious subplot that hovers in the background. After all, at the heart of all fiction is a character’s inner journey, moving away from their current identity (living a life where they are stuck) and shifting to their essence (becoming what they are meant to be). If their identity at the start of the story were idyllic, what’s the point of moving past that? And then what’s the point to telling that story?
In my writing I deal with psychological issues (abuse, depression, anxiety, PTSD, bullying, addiction, to name a few). I went into the therapy field for a reason, but the number of people who are willing to push past the stigma of mental illness and admit they need help is staggeringly low. I had no interest in writing self-help books, though my education and work experience had essentially set me up for that. That simply didn’t interest me.
I knew writing fiction with characters facing these issues head on was more up my alley. I also knew these stories could be helpful to readers, even if all they saw was they weren’t alone in the world or discovered a name for what they’d been experiencing so they could more easily seek out help. We pick up books for entertainment, but those books can also make us think for days about what happened to those characters. And on the very rare occasion, those books have the power to change us.
Some of my books are very plotty (with some angst): Silver Scars, Farm Fresh, Picked Fresh, North Star trilogy, and Tangled Mind. I know not everyone enjoys books with that much depth. So I write light-hearted fare as well.
I still add psychological issues into the subplot of my lighter fiction. In Bent Arrow, one character had PTSD and the other suffered from depression and a fear of emotional intimacy. Fall Into You dealt with grief and depression. Feathers From the Sky addressed the fear of rejection. There was self-loathing in Cheeky Hipsters & Jocks and Risking It. None of those issues were central to the story, but they hovered in the background.
Stroke of Luck is a light-hearted, sweet story with a subplot that deals with a serious, debilitating issue that can cause people to stall out in a relationship that harms them. I show codependency in Cas and Maisie’s relationship without going into overly long explanations. I don’t explicitly tell readers this is the type of relationship Cas and Maisie are in because codependency isn’t the heart of the love story. Cas and Marc’s relationship is, even if Cas is hampered by his relationship with Maisie.
Because of the codependency, I know readers are going to dislike, if not hate, Maisie. She’s the antagonist, after all. I never set her up to be well liked, but she’s not the villain like Tasha was in Fusion and Flare or Ray was in Naked Organics.
On the surface, what Maisie does seems awful, but Cas stuck with her as long as he has to help her. Cas essentially set himself up as Maisie’s protector, and she became dependent on that safety net and expected Cas to always be around, or at the very least, to come back home after he’d had his fun. In return Cas developed low-self esteem and poorly defined boundaries. He easily flew off the handle and struggled becoming intimate with lovers.
People resist change at the best of times, but when that change comes out of the blue, human nature causes us to dig our heels in deeper. What Cas had with Maisie was a relationship both needed to find a way out of. Cas just happened to be the one to light the fuse without telling Maisie that the world as she knew it was about to blow up.
Here’s an excerpt where Cas fully realizes the cost of he and Maisie’s relationship:
Cas had spent the last four months slowly peeling one of Maisie’s fingers after the other off his wrist, but she kept latching back on. And Cas had been so focused on Marc these last few weeks, he hadn’t noticed how tight her grip had become.
He had to escape, but how did you leave the one person in the world who understood you better than anyone? He just wanted the barbed hooks that had been lodged in his heart eight years ago to be pulled free without destroying everything, if that were possible anymore. He wanted to be free to love Marc without the guilt of betraying Maisie.
He’d watched people walk out of his life for so long that he eventually set it up so no one could ever stay. Fucks only on Saturdays so he had to get home for brunch. Not telling repeats about Maisie until the last possible moment, which, of course, made the relationship seem all the more suspect. Eventually there weren’t repeats, and in the last six months, there had only been hookups.
99¢ for a limited time and on KU.
The fates conspire against Marc, setting up a chain of encounters that bring him face to face with Cas. When Marc and Cas discover they live in the same building, it’s kismet. But Marc has to invite chaos into his life if he and Cas stand a chance, and Cas faces a choice between friendship and love. Luck may be on their side… if they’re willing to risk it all.
Four years ago I wrote the North Star trilogy and three years ago the books were set free in the world one by one. Today you can get all three books, that’s 884 pages, combined in one ebook! No waiting for two months for the next book to come out. Nope. You get to read straight on through. 😀
In high school, Hugo and Kevin discover they are perfect for each other. Sadly they fell in love years too early to make a solid commitment and college and other relationships got in the way. Fifteen years later they meet again and all those old feelings are rekindled. Second chances at such perfect love don’t happen by accident. Hugo and Kevin immediately know they’re meant to be. Now they have to figure out a way to combine their divergent lives without rocking their well-established boats. If that’s even possible. Perhaps their love is worth upending the world as they know it.
Buy Links to your favorite stores—unless you’re looking for B&N. For some reason it’s not selling as a bundle there.
Anne Cain worked more magic and created a cover for this whole series.
Hugo Thorson was never accepted in his small town, and living with a sick father pushed him farther away from his peers. When Kevin Magnus moved to town, he knew what path his life would take. Until he befriended Hugo. What started out as hikes in the wood, where both teens opened up about struggles at home, soon turned into comforting touches, kisses, and more. They hid the true nature of their relationship from their friends and family, but they fell in love. And they fell hard. Their last day together, rain interrupted their kisses. If Hugo had known that was the last kiss they would share, he would’ve stayed, but instead, he’d let Kevin go.
Years later they have a second chance, but their lives come with complications. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s plan and is now in the shadow of divorce but is striving to be a better father to his children. Hugo is an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag―something that has cost him in past relationships, so he now keeps it a secret.
Hugo and Kevin have a chance meeting at a lake cabin. The spark is still there, their love is begging to flare to life again, but first they have to travel through darkness no one expected. The news Kevin gets from the mother of his children has a huge impact on his relationship with Hugo. It could tear them apart or fuse them together. But first, they have to decide if their love is worth fighting for.