Living the Dream: Five Years With Dreamspinner Press

June 8, 2015

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Five years. Wow. It’s only been five years since my first sale? Hard to believe. It seems like only yesterday that I sent in that first submission….

And it all started with a mummy.

No…. No wait…! It started with a call for submissions….

No wait! It started with an inspirational speaker who changed my life!

His name was Chris Michaels and on that particular morning he was speaking about dreams. What he refers to as “our soul’s assignment.”

He stood up there on that podium and asked us, “What is the thing that you do—that when you do it—you feel connected to something powerful and even somehow bigger than yourself? As if you were plugged into an outlet and electricity was flowing through you. And when you’re done and you look back at what you did, you are often amazed. You say, ‘Wow…. I did that?’

“It might be gardening or painting or cooking or baking or dancing or singing or writing a song, writing a poem, writing a story. It might be breeding an animal or training horses or sewing or quilting. It might be raising or caring for children. Or the sick. Or the elderly.

“Well, whatever that ‘thing’ is, that is the thing you were born to do. Whether you believe in a God or if you think it’s evolution, it doesn’t matter. Either way it is still what you were created to do.

“What’s more, if you don’t do that thing, you are blocking your own good. People who don’t do what they were created to do are often depressed, mean, get sick, and even live shorter lives.”

I sat there stunned, tears on my face. I knew that feeling of being “connected” to something powerful and then later being amazed at what I had done. I knew that depression when I wasn’t doing what I loved. I knew what my “thing” was. Writing of course. Telling stories. But I’d always been too afraid to submit anything. It didn’t matter to me that J.K. Rolling got 12 publishing rejections in a row before selling Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I just knew my ego was way too small for a rejection, especially if they told me what they told her. Don’t give your day job. It would be saying that I didn’t have what it takes to make my one true dream come true.

But listening to that man that day made me realize what I had to do. I couldn’t deny it any longer. I couldn’t be afraid. I had to try.

I went home, logged onto the internet and went to a website where the owner posted tons of publisher’s calls for submissions and soon found one that grabbed my attention. It seemed like Dreamspinner Press (whatever that was) was seeking romantic gay stories with an edge of suspense, a touch of heart-pounding fear, and/or a taste of the paranormal  “Scare us with your vampires, ghosts and spirits, zombies, and things that go bump in the night.” All I was required to do was provide a happy ending for my gay heroes. Yes! That’s my kind of story!

But I also knew human nature and figured there was a darned good chance that this “Dreamspinner Press” would get a deluge of vampire, ghost and zombies stories. So I decided to do something different. And since I was in love with all things Egypt and knew a lot about it, and because I had also loved the classic mummy movies growing up and was totally crazy for Anne Rice’s Ramses the Damned, I knew the perfect “scary” creature for me would be a mummy.

But it had to be romantic! Not an awful, decaying, dusty, evil mummy, but something far more akin to a beautiful immortal. My mind started to work. I studied my Egyptian books. I had to find just the right time period in Egyptian history to begin my tale. And I knew I wanted the story to also be set in the here and now. Finally I figured it all out. It would be about two lonely men, desperate and sad, separated my millennia—and finally brought together across the sands of time by love!

I wrote it! I held my breath! And I sent it in….

And four days later I had my first contract. What a confirmation.

Not that I haven’t had a few rejections since then. But you know what? One of the many somethings that makes Dreamspinner Press my home?

I wrote a M/M/M story called “Just Guys” for an anthology on that particular theme and I just knew it would sell.

But it didn’t. However I got the most amazing rejection imaginable. I was told they liked the story but it wouldn’t fit with what they wanted for the collection and then encouraged me to resubmit it. In fact, the editor Julianne Bentley, was more than encouraging. She all but insisted. So I reworked it, added some length so the wife character wasn’t a cardboard b*tch, submitted it again…and sold it!

And that’s the way it’s been ever since. Dreamspinner Press is the place where dreams come true. They published my first novel (and many since). They taught me and taught me and taught me to be a better writer. They partnered me with an amazing editor named Andi Byassee who “gets” me and doesn’t try to change my voice while at the same time doing a lot to teach me better writing skills.

Dreamspinner even made a life-long dream come true! They let me edit an anthology! And one about something I know quite a bit about—bears.

I’ve traveled all over the country because of them. Been to New York City and Chicago and Portland and Albuquerque and Orlando and more. I’ve met incredible people, publishers, editors, writers and readers.

And what’s more I’m getting to write happy endings! One thing I hated about gay fiction from the time I was in my early twenties was that it was always about unhappy endings. Gay bashings. AIDS and death. Sex addicts. Prostitutes who get murdered. Teenagers that commit suicide. And the message these stories told was that if you’re gay, you’re going to have an unpleasant and miserable life. Example: Brokeback Mountain. Yes I love the story and movie. But one guy gets killed and the other never really accepts himself. The Front Runner. One of them is assassinated. The list goes on and on.

I wanted to write stories of all kinds, but with gay heroes and that wouldn’t be afraid to fall in love. I wanted to write uplifting stories. I wanted to write tales that would inspire. Yes, my heroes would have some stuff to work through to get their happy endings. But that wasn’t a part of “real life” I was afraid to write about! Who doesn’t like some angst in their stories?

Imagine my surprise the first time I met Elizabeth North and found out that was a big part of her whole concept of Dreamspinner Press. To provide happier, more positive and loving stories.

I was at home!

Along the way I’ve written a number of short stories, quite a few novellas, seven novels, edited an anthology, and now have books on audio and books translated into German, Korean and Italian! Crossing my fingers for French next!

There is no way that five years ago I saw any of this coming.

But the best part has been meeting and exchanging emails with readers. I have heard some amazing stories. Stories from people who were too afraid to pursue their dreams but now they are as well. It makes my heart rush.

So thank goodness I was there that day to hear a man named Chris Michaels insist that we pursue our dreams. And it has all coalesced into an old Zen Buddhist saying for me:

Leap and the net will appear.

And it’s true. I want anyone reading this to hear these words. Whatever your dream is, go for it. It’s never too late. Leap and the net will appear.

The Universe is just made like that.

Namasté,

B.G. Thomas

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B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to conventions since he was fourteen years old and has been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. Gay men are what he knows best, after all. He submitted his first story in years and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days.

Visit his website and blog or contact him directly at bgthomaswriter@aol.com.

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