Doc Brodie and the Big Thank You

In the past few months, I’ve thought a lot about where I’m going with my writing career and if I’m really cut out to be a full-time author.

Sales for “Connection” were subpar (my own fault for not promoting it adequately). Sales for “Trust” were better (but being the second book in a series I hadn’t promoted enough made them less than stellar). Sales of my backlist were solid; enough to pay the bills while I’m living with my parents, but certainly not enough to pay rent if I moved out.

When road blocks hit as I was writing “Push & Pull” (the second in the Midwest series) I began to panic. What if I’d been fooling myself? What if I wasn’t cut out to be a writer at all? With depressing thoughts of having to get at least a part-time job again whirling in my head, I gave myself an ultimatum. If my next two releases didn’t do well, I’d look for the part-time job. In the meantime, I’d stop panicking about the fact that I’m only a few months away from having lived with my parents for a year. My goal was six months.

I threw myself into getting print books out and writing “Doc Brodie”. I contacted Rachel Maybury of Signal Boost Promotions and planned a Book Blitz and Review Tour to get the word out to new blogs and readers. After a minor panic when the first two days of sales for “Doc Brodie” were sub-par, a kind word from a fellow author prompted me to take a look at my pricing. I realized that based on the length of the novella, I’d set my price too high. I adjusted that and since then, the book has been flying off the (metaphorical) shelves!

Sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly leads to good sales. The time of year, the type of book, what else is going on in the world, along with a host of other factors can greatly influence sales. In general, the summer is a good time for shorter, lighter reads so I think that certainly helped with Doc Brodie sales. I wish I could say that it was because it was such an amazing book, but I know book quality is not always correlated to sales numbers. I am certainly proud of “Doc Brodie” and I never put out anything but my best effort, but I know I still have a lot to learn.  Unfortunately, I know very talented authors whose books don’t sell well.

In the two-and-a-half years since I published my first short story, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that marketing makes a big difference. In the list of people I want to thank for Doc Brodie’s success, Rachel Maybury is definitely one of them. I can’t recommend her highly enough. Her fee was reasonable, she was timely in responding to questions, and I feel she more than delivered what she promised. While it’s difficult to say exactly how much her marketing contributed to the book’s success, I honestly believe it played a substantial part in the fact that Doc Brodie sold more copies in the first month than any previous book I’ve released!

The book’s success puts me in a solid place to focus on “Push & Pull” (with a tentative September release) and I am hopeful that as long as that goes well I will be able to move out sometime this fall. *crosses fingers*

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This blog post is my very long-winded way of saying thank you to all of the people who helped with the book. In addition to Rachel, I’d like to thank Allison Hickman and Helena Stone for their beta work, Sally Hopkinson for her editing, Jessica Stuhr Kurvers and Amy Keating Casey for the proofreading help, and the handful of pre-release reviewers from my private Facebook group. And of course, huge thanks to the bloggers and readers who reviewed and spread the word about the story. Much love and appreciation to all of you. I simply cannot thank you enough. ❤

 

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Flash Fiction Monday – Rescue

 

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“Hard to believe it’s still up there,” I murmured.

Darrell glanced at the old blue canoe, wedged between the branches of the tree.  “You said you wanted it to stay so did a pretty thorough job of rigging it up there.”

“I didn’t want to forget.” I stared over the river, watching the small ripples form and bend with the current. A year ago, it had been murky red-brown and topped with white foam as it raced to the sea, destroying everything in its path. I would have been swept away too, if not for a well-placed tree and a handsome fireman.

“Could you have forgotten?” he asked quietly and I shook my head.

“No.”

I’d never forget the sight of Darrell in his bright yellow vest. There had been other firemen in the boat working together to save me and my dog, Bonnie, but Darrell had been all I could see; a strong hand, reaching out for me, dark brown eyes promising me safety.

After spending the better part of a day sitting in a canoe that was stuck in a tree, I’d been too petrified to move, afraid any movement would send it crashing down into the river and swept away. Afraid Bonnie, already exhausted, would drown.

I’d pleaded with him to rescue Bonnie first, and he had. Finally, when she was safe, I’d allowed myself to take his work-roughened hand and stand. Something had passed between us in that moment as our gazes locked and his arm came around my back to steady me. And when I was safely in the fire department’s boat, a wide grin had split his face, his teeth bright white against his rich brown skin. He’d held me a fraction of a second longer than necessary.

I looked down at our hands, twined together, and realized I was gripping his so hard my knuckles were bleached white.

“C’mon,” Darrell coaxed. “Just walk to the edge.”

I shuddered and took a halting step forward. I loathed open water now. Pools were okay; the scent of chlorine and being able to see to the bottom of the blue liner made it feel reassuringly safe. But the murky waters of rivers and lakes terrified me.

My breathing was sharp and quick as I approached the riverbank. The water flowed placidly today, sunlight glinting off its surface. Darrell squeezed my hand and I swallowed the panic rising in my throat.

“Almost there.” My feet hit the edge of the bank and I froze. “Great job. Now dip one toe in. Shoe on is fine.”

“What if I fall?” My voice was hoarse.

He pried his hand from mine, and switched his grip, so he was wrapped around me, steadying me. “Do you think I’d let you fall?” The warmth in Darrell’s voice was like balm over a burn.

I shook my head and took a deep breath. Inch by inch, I slid my foot forward, hesitating when my toes approached the surface of the water.

“You’ve got this and I’ve got you.”

I closed my eyes and stuck my foot into the water, forcing myself to hold it there for agonizingly long seconds before I pulled back. Darrell’s grip tightened and I turned and buried my head against his neck.

His fingertips skimmed down my spine and I felt him press a soft kiss to my hair.

“You did it, Sam.”


 

I have a feeling I might need to expand on their story. What do you think?

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Book Release – Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple Cat Toy

Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple Cat Toy - Brigham Vaughn

I am very excited to share this story with you. It’s a humorous, sexy novella that I really enjoyed writing. After the heavier angst of “Connection” and “Trust”, it was nice to work on something  light-hearted. I love Brodie and Grant’s characters, but in the end, I think Molly and Ruby may have stolen the show. I hope you love them every bit as much as I do!

Summary:

Grant Murchison is a computer programmer with a great job, a small house he’s fixing up, and a mischievous tabby cat named Molly. Doctor Brodie Hall is a veterinarian with a sleeve full of tattoos and an enormous mastiff named Ruby.

When Molly gets sick after nibbling on Grant’s favorite purple toy, he rushes her to the vet clinic where the doctor works. Grant’s embarrassed to admit what Molly ate, but Brodie finds Grant’s reaction charming.

Brodie decides to pursue Molly’s owner, but getting close to Grant is a bigger challenge than he anticipated. Despite Grant’s attraction to the vet, his past leaves him unable to trust in a future together. Doc Brodie may be great with scared and hurting animals but will his technique work on Grant?

Excerpt:

Brodie smiled at the sight of Grant’s geekery on display, complete with Doctor Who posters and a life-size Captain Jack Harkness cardboard cutout from the spin-off Torchwood, because what nerdy gay man wouldn’t have a crush on an openly bisexual character with a wicked sense of humor? Brodie had fantasized about Captain Jack more than once that was for sure.

“This is great,” Brodie said, enthusiastically. He’d grown up watching Dr. Who. “Who is your favorite doctor?”

“You,” Grant blurted out, then closed his eyes as if embarrassed by the fact he said that aloud. “Um, ignore that. I, uh …”

Brodie stepped closer, thrilled by Grant’s admission. “You like me, huh?”

“Yeah,” Grant croaked and cracked an eye open.

“Well, you’re the favorite owner of a patient of mine,” Brodie murmured before he closed the distance between them.

Grant’s eyes closed again as Brodie’s lips touched his. Grant’s mouth was warm and soft, tasting faintly of lemonade. He clutched Brodie’s T-shirt, and Brodie groaned at the contact between their bodies.

He cradled the back of Grant’s head as the kiss deepened, gently teasing Grant’s lips apart. Grant let out a little groan of pleasure, and Brodie felt his cock stir at the sound.

They were both panting when they finally pulled away. Grant’s cheeks were flushed, or maybe that was the heat between them. Brodie had a sudden, desperate hope that his deodorant had held up against the jogging he’d done earlier.

“Damn,” Brodie said with a slow grin, and Grant nodded, Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat as he swallowed noisily. “I was planning to ask you out on a date before I left, but I think that answers my question.”

Grant nodded again and licked his lips. His voice was hoarse when he responded. “Um, the answer is definitely yes.”

“Tomorrow maybe?” Brodie offered, hoping he wasn’t being too pushy.

“Yeah, I’m free tomorrow. But, uh, you don’t have to run off right now or anything. Unless you have to be somewhere?”

“I can stay. Besides, I should take a look at my patient.” Brodie winked, and Grant’s mouth curved up in a smile as he seemed to relax.

“Oh, she’s probably curled up on my bed. It’s her favorite place.”

“Can’t say as I blame her,” Brodie murmured as he followed Grant out of the office.

Buy Links:

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Notes: Oh, and if you were wondering if this story was drawn from real life? Let’s just say I had a cat who ate a lot of things she wasn’t supposed to. And all names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

 

Real Life

I posted the following on my personal Facebook page today.


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The attack in Orlando left me gutted.

I’ve spoken a lot about it with friends and have been trying to figure out what I can do. I’ve signed petitions, I’ve written to various members of the government, and I’m going to donate a short story to a charity anthology that will benefit the injured and families of those who died.

It’s not much, but it’s something.

A comment someone made on Facebook made me think though. She has multiple Facebook accounts (as do I) and she mentioned how silent her “real life” account has been. How no one is talking about what happened. How no one is coming together to grieve or console each other. How different it was from the one she uses for her writing. I checked here to see if that was the case. If my “real life” account was as silent. It wasn’t. And I’m glad. But it made me think even more. It made me think about the fact that I’ve been silent about what I do for a living.

So I guess this is my coming out of sorts.

Most of you know I’m bisexual. Many of you know that I write. A good number of you know that I write LGBTQ romance. And yet, I’ve had the privilege of keeping them separate. I used a pen name. I didn’t announce what I wrote to the world.

At first, it was because I was working at the hospital. After all, in Michigan, I could have been fired for who I am. I could have been fired for being bi. I could have been fired for my writing. If you think that sounds far-fetched, truth is indeed stranger than fiction. I know writers it has happened to.

By the time I quit to write full-time I was so immersed in the LGBTQ writing community that I was almost never on my “real life” account. It seemed pointless to make a big deal about it.  Most of the people I am close to already knew.

But part of a part of my hesitation was because I was scared. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of the consequences. And, to be frank, afraid of the hatred.

If I didn’t tell you before now, I’m sorry.

My silence has never been because I’m ashamed of who I am and what I do. I am proud of what I write. I am proud of my community.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t have a plan for my life until I realized I could write. Writing has anchored me and shaped me in ways I can’t begin to put into words. Every time I say I am a writer I say it with a sense of wonder.

But I know I have been very privileged to be able to pick and choose who I am out to.

I used quotation marks around the phrase “real life” because my writing IS my real life. My sexual identity is my real life. In the past few years, the lines between my birth name and my pen name have blurred. A few months ago I tried to sign in to a yoga class and couldn’t figure out why it couldn’t find that name in the system. I’d used my pen name. I answer to either. I am both.

I have deep respect and understanding for the people who stay hidden. Many times, there is no other choice. As we saw this past weekend, hatred runs deep. There are grave consequences for being out and proud. Until the world changes and everyone is safe, each person deserves to make that decision for themselves. In their own time.

This is my time to stand up and say: my name is Brigham Vaughn. I write LGBTQ romance. I am bisexual.

There may be little I can do about what happened in Orlando. But I have a voice. And I am tired of being silent.

Flash Fiction Monday – Family History

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“That was your grandmother?” Lena turned the photograph over to see Jeanette Fleming – 1943 in beautiful looping script on the back.

Amelia nodded. “Grandma was unique, to say the least.”

“Apparently.” Lena looked at the photo of a young, dark-haired woman perched on the edge of a rocky cliff. Inside of a giant egg. There were holes for her face and legs—slender, shapely legs at that—but none for her arms. Bizarre. When she glanced up, Amelia’s face was filled with mirth. For a moment, Lena could see the resemblance between daughter and granddaughter in the shape of her mouth and her laughing eyes. Not to mention the legs.

“So what was this photo for?” Lena asked. “I know you said she was a model in the 40s, but I’m perplexed about what kind of advertising campaign calls for a woman inside an egg suit.”

“It wasn’t an ad.” Amelia sipped tea from a large, blue ceramic mug. “She was a pinup.”

Lena eyed the photo skeptically. “I know the troops were hard up for women, but I would have thought the Vargas pinup girls would have been a lot more appealing than an egg. Unless this is some sort of straight-person fetish I’m unaware of.”

Amelia threw her head back and laughed. “I don’t believe so. It was part of a whole Easter series. You’ll find a few more of the photos somewhere in this box. There’s ones of her in bunny ears and a tail too.”

“Now that makes more sense to me,” Lena said drily as she set the photo aside. She picked up another photo that showed two women embracing. “Your grandma and her sister?”

“No, that’s Jeanette’s best friend Ada.”

“They look close.”

Amelia slid closer to Lena on the couch. “There are rumors they were a bit more than friends.”

“Really?” Lena inspected the photo more closely. It was always hard to tell with vintage photographs.

“It’s been a persistent family rumor. Supposedly they were involved before she settled down with my grandpa.”

“Hmm. Do you think she married because she had to? Because she couldn’t be with Ada?”

“I can’t be sure of course, but I don’t think so,” Amelia said slowly. “She and grandpa always seemed to be in love. They held hands all the time and one time I caught them kissing—quite passionately—when she was hanging up the washing on the line and he came to help.”

“Interesting.” Lena mulled over the idea. “I wonder if she was bisexual.”

“I don’t suppose we’ll ever know,” Amelia said with a soft sigh. She slipped an arm around Lena’s waist, and Lena pulled her closer. “She’s not around to ask.”

“What a shame,” Lena said. “I wish I’d met her.”

“You two would have gotten along famously.”

“Want to keep searching for clues about Jeanette and Ada’s relationship?” Lena asked, dragging the box of photos onto her lap so she could continue to search through them without letting go of her girlfriend.

“I’d love to.”


I had NO idea where I was going with this when I posted the photo, but I am really pleased with the way this turned out. Did you enjoy it?

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Cover Reveal – Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple, Cat Toy

Doc Brodie and the Big, Purple Cat Toy - Brigham Vaughn.jpg

Coming June 17th!

Grant Murchison is a computer programmer with a great job, a small house he’s fixing up, and a mischievous tabby cat named Molly. Doctor Brodie Hall is a veterinarian with a sleeve full of tattoos and an enormous mastiff named Ruby.

When Molly gets sick after nibbling on Grant’s favorite purple toy, he rushes her to the vet clinic where the doctor works. Grant’s embarrassed to admit what Molly ate, but Brodie finds Grant’s reaction charming.

Brodie decides to pursue Molly’s owner, but getting close to Grant is a bigger challenge than he anticipated. Despite Grant’s attraction to the vet, his past leaves him unable to trust in a future together. Doc Brodie may be great with scared and hurting animals but will his technique work on Grant?