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Harley Austin

How Not to Write Male Romance 383 543 Harley Austin

How Not to Write Male Romance

I am not going to pretend that I am the be-all-end-all of male romance writers. However, I have noticed some things about male romance novels (typically gay romance novels written by women for a male audience) that leave me wondering if women even know anything about men to begin with?

Women who write for a female audience do  very well. Some men who write for a female audience also do rather well. I would not put myself in that category. Men writing for a male audience do just as well as women writing for a female audience. But then we come to the issue of women writing for a distinctly male romance audience, specifically gay romance. This appears to be where things often, not always, but often fall apart.

Lately, I have endured reading a handful of the so-called gay romance novels written by women. Some were really good. I’m not talking to these female authors who actually “get” men and what we like to read. Others, hmmm, not so much.

Ladies, if what we read in your novels is what you really think men are like and what we think about and how we really behave, you, many of you, have a very sore understanding of what makes the male mind “tick”.

Sure, there all many different kinds of men, just like there are different kinds of women. But when two guys get together for a romantic encounter, good God, we are not brainless savages.

So, either I have just been unlucky enough to be choosing and reading rank-amateur female authors, or there are quite a few female authors who just do not understand men. At least not this civilized man.

So in the spirit of understanding, allow me to offer a few tips and insights into the male psyche that might help you as an author understand men, straight or gay, just a little better.

1. Men are not idiots. At least no more than women are.

The recent gay romance novels I’ve read paint a lot of guys involved as stupid, dumb, aimless, insecure Neanderthals with smelly bad habits and a one-track mind of doing anything that moves. Yes, I do know a few people like this, and I avoid them. They exist. But they are not the majority of the male population.

Please stop writing these idiots into your novels. You don’t like seeing women portrayed as idiots, they are not representative of your gender as a whole, stop creating the impression that men are the same way. I hate reading a plot-driven story where the heroine does something incredibly stupid just so the guy can swoop in and rescue her. You hate it too. Guys doing stupid things are equally irritating in stories.

Most of the gay men I know are successful, highly intelligent, cultured people that would give your “gaydar” a run for its money to pick them out of a crowd. They are not football jocks, gym rats, mechanics, rodeo cowboys, Navy SEAL team commanders, nor any of the other typical male fodder I’ve been reading. Not that these are bad professions, but not everyone in them are brainless dweebs.

2. Men love “romance” as much as women do.

Guys like to date, ladies. Just like you do. They want to be asked out. They don’t just bump into each other in the hallway at work one minute and then start doing it in the men’s room the next. Male relationships build just like any other. Sure, there is the occasional fast hookup, but that can happen in any meeting between two people, gay or straight.

Too many of the male romance stories I’ve read just push the couple into sex before either of them knows anything about the other guy. Huh? Yea, sure, I do know a couple of people who are rabidly promiscuous like this, but they are the exception, not the norm.

Men, especially a first time romance with another guy, is going to be a very different dynamic than the a straight couple romance where sex is not just anticipated but all but expected. Not every guy is flaming gay or wants to do it with every other guy. Unless you’re sitting in a gay bar, most guys are timid about approaching another guy–even if they know he’s gay. And just because you’re gay, doesn’t mean another gay man is going to want to hook-up with you.

3a. Upgrade your vernacular.

This one is just personal taste as a writer myself, so take it with a grain of salt if you like; but as a guy, I do not like reading certain words in romance novels.

Because of that, as an author, you will never read certain words in my books, including: balls, pussy, her sex (when referring to female anatomy), dick, cum, cunt, and there are probably a few others. Why? Because they’re low-class vernacular. Move into a little purple prose if you like, but when I read certain words in a romantic scene and the event reads like a vulgar scene from a low-class porn movie, I’m done.

I’m not saying don’t use low-class vernacular when and where appropriate, but don’t drag your story into the gutter with low-class verbiage when it doesn’t need to be there.

3b. Limit your use of the expletives.

Just because you’re writing to a male audience doesn’t mean guys like reading expletives. The fact is most men, real men anyway, don’t use expletives as often as you might think. Vulgar low-class men do, a lot. But your readers are likely not vulgar low-class men, now are they?

If you’re trying to make your story more “macho” or appealing to men by dropping the word “fuck” (or any derivative of it) within the first page or two of your book, you are totally misunderstanding the male mind.

Want to really appeal to men? Write about what men like: sports (I hate sports personally, but that’s just me. Lots of guys cannot stand sports and find it boring.), business, cars and fast road bikes, tech, sex (of course), construction, and physical things like weight lifting, running, or martial arts, even boxing. Again, you run the risk of turning off a certain segment of guys if you are too focused on the details of the sport, but you get the idea. 

When I see a female author drop a vulgarity or unnecessary expletive on the first page, my first thought is that you don’t know your audience.

4. Men have more than a 3-word vocabulary during sex. Really, we do.

The last few novels I’ve read were like the men lost all of their ability to communicate during sex. “Oh, baby / man” is followed by “you’re so hot” is followed by “grunting” is followed by someone finding religion.

I cannot remember the last time (meaning ever) I “growled” and “grunted” the phrase “OH GOD!” during sex while clenching my teeth. I mean, I may have, I just don’t remember. What I do remember is being intimate, there was sweet conversation, not a lot, obviously, but I distinctly remember using more than say, six words during the event.

If your personal vocabulary is limited to only a handful of words during sex, then, well, I’m sorry. I like to compliment my lover; show them my enthusiasm. I’m not saying the people in your stories should be doing a TED Talk during intimacy, but let’s show a little more Humanity here than just a couple of gorillas going at it.


I love reading and writing romance. Any romance–gay, straight, threesomes, what have you. (I don’t consider BDSM romance, but that’s just me.) I find male romance the most intriguing because, well, I’m male. I wish more men wrote male romance. In any event, ladies, I hope I’ve offered at least some insights into the heart and mind of the male gender. We’re not all low-life Neanderthals, just like women are not all damsels in distress who need rescuing.

If you know of any really good male romance novels, let me know! I’d love to read some good ones!

All the best,

~ Harley


10 New Awakened Titles Coming in 2019! 880 1024 Harley Austin

10 New Awakened Titles Coming in 2019!

My fans have been chomping at the bit, calling and emailing me, asking for when the new Awakened titles are going to be released! For those who do not know, I am not a full-time writer―yet. I have a day job, a new startup company, and a semi-neglected family. (My kids are in high school and college, so they’re more or less doing their own things now anyway. I’m sure my wife would like to see more of me too!) It’s a busy schedule.

But during 2018 I have managed to dive into writing and produce close to a dozen new novels all tied to the Awakened Series or Chronicles. These books will be released in succession beginning in January 2019 with a new release approximately each month or so.

NEW! Awakened Series: 2 New full-length Novels

The Awakened Series continues to move forward within this epic universe with the release of books 7 and 8, DECEPTION and VALOR. I’ll not go into the details of these two new releases in-depth here, but suffice to say the novels are full-length and expand the epic story with new people and revelations that will keep you riveted to your reading nook. Old faces also return as we learn the fates of others you might have thought were just background noise characters within the series.

NEW! 5-Book Expansion of Awakened Chronicles

For fans who cannot get enough of Awakened, I’ve added 5 new short novels to the Awakened Chronicles, each book a full-length novel at around 300 or more printed pages. Awakened Chronicles are backstories, of people and places that the main series didn’t spend a lot of time with. If someone pops up in the main series that you’re wondering, “where did they come from?”, there’s a good chance they showed up in one of the Awakened Chronicles books. You just gotta read them to find out!

NEW! Fierce Professions Series

In the middle of all of this, I found time to write what began as a normal-boring mystery-thriller series. I wanted to see if I could write something, well, normal. No paranormal. No sci-fi. Nothing like that. Okay, so I failed.

Book one of the Fierce Series started out with only subtle hints of paranormal from the Awakened Series, but by book two I was done with the subtly. All of the people return from book one in book two with new faces and places that dive headlong into the Awakened universe in a fun and thrilling mystery ride that adds even more backstory to the original series.

The series follows the lives of people touched by by the Awakened, but are swirled, dare I say ensnared, by the actions of one PETER FIERCE, an intrepid high-stakes entrepreneur bent on pulling Humanity kicking and screaming into a brave new world. In 2018 I launched a new startup company, so Fierce in many ways is like an alter-ego of myself, and several very successful entrepreneurs I very much follow and admire. If you liked the Awakened Series, FIRECE COMPETITION, as I said, has a great story with subtle hints of the Awakened. By book two, FIRECE REBELLION dives headlong into the Awakened universe and becomes the Awakened story as told by people peripherally touched by the Awakened gods and their knowledge. The books are formatted for mass-market paperback at about 250 pages. Look for the FIERCE PROFESSIONS Series to be release some time in March or April of 2019.

For a complete list of all of my published novels, checkout Harley Austin’s Amazon author page!

I hope 2019 will be a great and fun-filled year for you and your family. As always, thank you for reading. Your encouraging Amazon reviews are always needed and appreciated!


~ Harley

New Fantasy Series Coming Soon! 150 150 Harley Austin

New Fantasy Series Coming Soon!

NEW: An EPIC Fantasy Series

After what has been close to a year of thinking about it, I have finally put pen to paper, so to speak, and began writing what will become the pilot novel for an epic new fantasy series. The series name has yet to be determined, but the pilot novel is titled BLUERAZOR.

Fans of the AWAKENED Series will be right at home with the typical Harley Austin prose, steamy romances, and an unexpected story that is not typical of everyday fantasy novels. If you’re cemented into the staid Tolkien universe of Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, and Hobbits battling armies for hoards of gold, you might not like what you read. However, if you are open to a new universe where Elven Lords fall suspicious of Humankind; where wooden sailing vessels move across the skies; and dragons and ki-rin are caught in the middle between two powerful realms, you might want to pick up a copy of the pilot book to see what happens.

 Building New Worlds: Plan by not Planning

Whenever Harley Austin sits down to write a new story, whether it’s a book within an existing series or something new like BLUERAZOR, I don’t spend weeks and months trying to figure out every detail of what this new story is going to be like, nor what the world setting is going to be. Some authors literally spend months fleshing out their universe, painstakingly detailing every piece of the social fabric of every race, critter, and how this or that “works” within their ‘verse.

I find such tedium to detail nauseating. Why? Because it locks me into something I may not like later on as the series progresses. In the end what the author ends up doing is simply recreating something they’ve already read, either in novels or from some gaming system they’ve played for years. Let me put it this way, if you have to tell the reader how magic “works” within your story, I’m done. You’re no longer telling a story, you’re rehashing your fantasy gaming days.

World building should come from the story, not something that is pre-planned. I once read an author who said they put to paper the detailed backgrounds of over a hundred people within her romance series before they even started writing the novels. This kind of thing gives me hives. Now the author is locked into relationships, personalities, backstory and all of his or her creativity must now conform to this pre-planned framework. All it does is stifle the imagination.

When Harley Austin sits down to write a story, yes, I have a vague idea of what’s going to happen as the story begins–very vague. But I just start writing. There is no planning grid of when this needs to happen, or that event needs to take place. I very often don’t know who the people are within the story until I start writing.

What emerges then, is not some pre-planned world, but pure, unbridled creativity. I am not locked into anything. I just follow the people in the story. As the story develops, yes, people and personalities develop, and a milieu rises from the pages. By the end of the first story we have a pretty good understanding of the world in which we live. But then it only builds more detail from there, not from some syllabus, but from what was created from the previous stories.

And right now some authors are having kittens trying to figure out how Harley Austin can write without “a plan”. I’ll be the first to say that this method of writing doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, probably very few. I don’t really know, I’m just guessing. The thing is, as a story progresses, my imagination is able to flow without constraint. I follow the people within the story and the truth is, I am often, very often, just as surprised as you are by what happens within the story. This happens to me in every book I write.

But now you have a sense of how a story, or even an entire world gets built from my imagination.

FREE Books!

I have placed the first two books of the AWAKENED Series, Awakened and Dominion, as permafree downloads. As always, you can read them for free as well, in fact the entire series, if you have Kindle Unlimited.

~ Harley

The Story Behind: PARADISUS 300 425 Harley Austin

The Story Behind: PARADISUS


“You cannot put that in a story!” My editor said. “No one’s going to buy it!”

At this point in the Awakened Series, I believe I have thoroughly cemented the fact that I have broken nearly every so-called “rule” of book publishing there is to break in building a successful book series. Crossing several fiction genres, deliberately incorporating social, political and religious taboos, promoting a romance written for men, incorporating steamy same-sex relationships … the Awakened Series truly defies not just description, but kicks-to-the-curb every so-called mainstream publishing “no-no” as well.

And the fans of the Awakened Series have loved every minute of it!

Honestly—it was totally by accident. All I did was listen to the advice of some of some very successful people who basically told me: “Don’t write what everyone else is writing. Write what you yourself would want to read.”

And so ends my so-called “experiment” of delivering an intriguing paranormal mystery sci-fi romantic story that both men and women would enjoy reading. The series has become a great success! I have rabid fans.

What I didn’t realize when I began writing the series was that quite a few of the couples in the story were not totally straight. I know, I know, you’re now scratching your head. “Harley, YOU wrote the story!” No, I didn’t; the people in the story do that. This may come as a shock and surprise to many, but I do not write the story—the people in the story do. All I do is follow along and write what they say and do. As a writer, Harley Austin never knows what’s going to happen within a book as I sit down to write it. I don’t know what’s going to happen or even what the end of the book is going to be. I’m very often just as surprised by a book’s story, content, relationships, and ending as you are.

Paradisus was one of these big surprises. Not just because the main characters are male, but because Paradisus explodes the Awakened epic into a hugely powerful story I had really no idea was coming. By the end of the book even I was dumbfounded and excited.

It’s a powerful, deeply moving, epic kind of story.

The truth is, I did not start out to write an epic straight-gay romance series, but at this point there are perhaps as many straight couples as there are gay couples within the series. I’m not really sure how this happened. I didn’t exactly plan the series to go this direction. I’m just as surprised as many of my fans have been. And you as the fans of the series are my biggest surprise of all.

I have been both delightfully surprised, intrigued and dumbfounded by the overwhelming positive response of readers, both straight and gay, men and women, encountering the different “ships” within the epic. Overwhelmingly, readers continue to tell me how much they love the story. My fans did not just junk the books because of a same-sex relationship. You have responded positively, engrossed in and captivated by the people living out their lives within it.

I WAS TOLD over and over, and I’m STILL being told in fact, that having steamy-hot same-sex ships within a story would utterly tank the series for traditional mystery, romance intrigue readers. I continue to have to battle editors over this. But, again, I simply wrote from the heart—what needed to be written following the lives of the people within the story.

Of course, not everyone is happy with the “ships” or a story brimming with hot romantic detail. But I didn’t set out to please every reader—I set out write an epic paranormal sci-fi  mystery romance that both men and women, I guess even gay men and women now, would enjoy reading. There is indeed something for everyone, from a romantic perspective, within the story, even if a particular ship isn’t your cup of tea.

Listening to the common knowledge, the do’s and don’ts of the traditional publishers, the Awakened Series would have been doomed from the outset. But the response from even the most critical readers of my beta team, even some of my nay-saying editors, has been very positive.

I hope you are enjoying the Awakened books as much as I have enjoyed writing them. My best wishes, thoughts and prayers to you for taking the time to make my stories a part of your life!

The Story Behind: RELIC 300 425 Harley Austin

The Story Behind: RELIC


Relic was one of those books that sort of happened by accident. After finishing SIREN, the so-called short story (nearly 200 pages in print) ended up ending leaving me with not so much a cliff-hanger, which I hate, but with an ending that was begging for a sequel.

I wrote Relic in a couple of weekends over a two-week period. In the meantime, my editor who is also a talented graphic designer was tossing ideas for book covers at me left and right. Honestly, I rejected all of them, but when I saw to golden-red cover with the Aztec-looking ziggurat and the huge being in the background, not only did I know that this was the cover I wanted but she also ended up in a roundabout way helping me create the end of the story I hadn’t finished writing yet.

Relic has become one of my faves in that it has some big backstory reveals of what will be coming in the main series, and also who some of the people are that have been a bit of mystery so far.

I loved the character development as well and some of the surprise “ships” that happen within the story.

Just so you know, I’m not done with these people: Liam, Tori, Monica, Mac and the crew of the Neptune. There’s gonna be more … stay tuned!

NEW! Awakened Chronicles 150 150 Harley Austin

NEW! Awakened Chronicles

Awakened Chronicles: Epic Short Stories

They’re here! The first two books of Awakened Chronicles have been released!

As the Awakened series has progressed now into six books published, and three waiting to be published, needless to say that there have been numerous ideas and stories that have made it to paper (so to speak) but are not really full-length books advancing the backstory. But they were such great stories that i just couldn’t let them go without being told.

Awakened Chronicles were created to satisfy my literary Attention Deficit Disorder. Harley Austin never met a story I didn’t want to tell in my own inimitable way. I am an avowed relationship junkie. I love “shipping” people within the Awakened universe that end up making really great stories.

“Harley, 200+ Pages Is Not a Short Story.”

My editor groaned. Okay. She’s right. It’s not. Harley Austin apparently has another problem, I’ve discovered that I cannot write a 100-page story. Siren was supposed to be just a small, short 100-page novella that advanced some background about the Awakened Universe. Nope. It came in at 200 pages in print. Relic was nearly 300 pages in print.

Okay, so in the future, look for Awakened Chronicles short stories to be between 100 and 300 paperback pages.

When Should I Read These?

As a general rule, unless you don’t mind spoilers, don’t read an Awakened Chronicle before you’ve read the last book the chronicle is supposed to before. Here’s what I mean …

Each Awakened Series novel takes place about a year after the last one in the epic story: Legacy (book three) takes place about a year after Dominion (book two), and  Dominion takes place about year after Awakened (book 1). These three books then span three years of time in the main series. That’s a lot of time between stories.

Awakened Chronicles books attempt to fill in some of these fairly large time gaps between the novels in the primary Awakened Series. Siren takes place between books two and three of the main series. You may not want to read Siren until you’ve read Legacy, book three, of the main series.

The other interesting part of Awakened Chronicles is that aspects of these stories have already begun to manifest themselves in upcoming novels. There are elements from Awakened Chronicles that manifest themselves in later novels, like Paradisus (book 6).

Where To Buy Harley Austin Books

All of my books can be found published exclusively on Amazon.

The Story Behind: SIREN 300 425 Harley Austin

The Story Behind: SIREN


SIREN was one of those stories that was supposed to be a “short story” to introduce my new Awakened Chronicles. But at just under 200 pages, it ended up the length of a typical mass-market paperback.

The truth is, I really don’t know where a new book is going until I’m into the thick of the story. By the end of SIREN I had discovered a rich new group of people within the Awakened universe that I really liked and wanted to continue. Without using a cliffhanger (I really hate it when authors do that) I deliberately left the ending of SIREN wide open for that eventuality.

For me, SIREN introduced, quite by accident, some different relationships that I honestly had not thought about exploring within the main Awakened Series. I always tell people that Harley Austin does not write books, I simply introduce fictional people into a book and let them tell their stories; all I do is write what happens. That is exactly what happened with SIREN.

SIREN came together in a couple of weekends and I almost immediately began working on the sequel, RELIC. Who knows, maybe there will be a third book that continues following this crowd.

I sure hope so. It’s like a series within a series now.


Awakened Chronicles is part of the Awakened Series created to satisfy my literary Attention Deficit Disorder.

With the Awakened Series now into its sixth published book, and with the seventh, eighth, and ninth book completed, and a prequel on the way, I found myself with a handful of really cool and rather interesting ideas that fit within the series’ milieu but didn’t really fit within the series’ main storyline. Most of these story snippets were becoming distractions within the main series; but I found them intriguing enough to put them to paper, so to speak, and flesh them out into their own novellas.

At this point, I have no idea where these various short stories are going, but suffice to say that all of them will tie into the Awakened Universe in ways that add background and even some bombshell intrigue to the original epic.

One of the criticisms I’ve been receiving from fans of the Awakened Series is that Harley Austin never met a new character I didn’t like. There is some truth to that. I am an avowed relationship junkie and I love the idea of introducing new ships and new people into the grand story.

The problem is, after six books, Awakened has close to a dozen (of what could be considered) main characters within the story. It is, to say the least, a personae-rich environment. This to me is just perfect, but to casual readers not thoroughly invested in the Awakened Universe, it is bordering on confusing. Rather important people show up in later books that were introduced perhaps three or four novels ago. Many readers simply don’t want to follow the lives of this many people. One of my beta readers, in fact, warned me, “If you introduce one more new couple I’m going to stop reading.”

Okay. Message delivered.

Awakened Chronicles will now become the Harley Austin playground for snippets of stories that wholly intersect with the primary series, but don’t actually further the main story—they simply build detail upon it. These chronicles are the lives of the people on the periphery; people deeply affected by the events unfolding within the main story, but who do not, seemingly, add to the overall events unfolding within it.

I am going to have some fun with these! I hope you enjoy reading them as well.

An EPIC Story Unfolds 150 150 Harley Austin

An EPIC Story Unfolds

AWAKENED: An EPIC Story Unfolds

The great thing about the Awakened Series is that it’s a 12-book series. The bad thing about it, is that it’s a 12-book series.

AWAKENED is an EPIC story.

Some readers prefer stand-alone novels. The books of the Awakened Series can be read individually, but they are not “stand-alone” novels in the sense if you don’t have at least some background of what it means to be “awakened”, you might miss some nuances within the story you’re reading.

In some ways, the Awakened Series is a a bit of an experiment. What I wanted to do early on was bust every mold and break every rule of traditional publishing. Whenever someone said, “you CAN’T DO that!”, I blew them off and did it anyway.

The result was a book series that shatters every Cardinal Rule in the publishing world; destroys “formulaic” stories; and delivers riveting novels that people really enjoy reading.

My Secret Ingredient? There is no Secret Ingredient.

Each new Awakened novel fits nicely within the Awakened epic; each book is different; a new couple, a new romance (or romances), and a new revelation of the overall backstory that is Awakened. People from previous novels make cameos in later novels. Not because it adds familiarity and consistency, but because they are in the story as it moves forward.

After 4, 6,  and now 8 novels with the last 4 on the way, there are without question a lot of people now within the epic story. Some we remember, some we don’t.

That’s okay. There’s always a short biography in the back of each novel of who someone is, and when they first appeared in the story.

New Novellas Coming Soon!

As the Awakened series has progressed, needless to say that there have been numerous ideas that have made it to paper (so to speak) but are not really full-length books advancing the backstory. Some of these will be released soon, perhaps this year, under a chronicles kind of series name. Look for them on Amazon to be between 100 and 200 pages.

~ Harley

The Story Behind: INTERRA 300 425 Harley Austin

The Story Behind: INTERRA

Although it has become Book 5, Interra is really the story that started it all. It is the pilot, if you will, from which the entire Awakened Series was built. While the book has undergone some rather heavy editing since its inception, the story itself has survived with the original characters and romance well intact.

Back in early December of 2011, I began writing a simple romance for my wife. At the time I didn’t really know what to expect from the story, it was my first real foray into the romance genre, and I really wanted to write something that both men and women would enjoy reading. I knew the book would have some kind of paranormal or sci-fi backstory, but I didn’t want that to overshadow the plot of the book. The book was a romance and I wanted to keep story squarely within that genre.

As it turned out, my wife loved what I had written, so I continued to evolve the story. The original working title for this original book was called “The Sentinel”. Over the next five years I continued to slowly evolve the plot and the characters, simply adding to the story in a kind of run-on rambling mess.

However, it was out of this first novel that another story began to develop based on what I had written within “The Sentinel”. My wife liked the story so much that she suggested I write another book to expand the story. “This could be an epic series!” she encouraged.

So with that inspiration, the next book, “Awakened”, began to take form. Originally entitled “Lost”, Awakened had a bunch of different titles and series names that I toyed with in trying to develop the series. I had called the series the “Books of God” for what should be obvious reasons by now, but the beta team thought that this sounded too religious and that it would turn people off. I finally settled on the “Awakened Series” which to this day still makes the series sound like the latest vampire chronicles, but it is what it is.

When I began writing what has become “Interra”, what I really wanted to do were a number of things: One, I wanted to try to capture something really different, something no one had really done before, and spin the story in my own inimitable way. Two, I wanted to try to capture the public’s intrigue with a paranormal romance but I didn’t want another dark vampire or mind-numbed shape-shifting werewolf tale. What I really wanted was a sort of mashup of the popularity of Twilight with the forbidden sex of Fifty Shades of Grey. What would that look like? And I really thought deeply about this for quite a few months.

We saw some of this forbidden love early in book two, with Kari and Julia in a same-sex relationship, but I didn’t get too descriptive with it. Partly because I was a much more timid writer back then, but mostly because I was pushing the limits of my own comfort zone. It would not be until book three of the series that I finally got more bold as a writer and took the plunge, diving headlong into a first-time same-sex romance.

Let me admit to you right now that I was really, really nervous about writing this episode within the story. What would people think? Both of it and of me? Would the audience be turned off and abandon ship? Would I totally tank the whole of the epic series because people would hate reading about two guys falling into and making love?

I honestly didn’t know.

I will tell you that some of the beta readers were livid about this romance showing up in the story. They hated the “new direction” the series had taken with the same-sex romances being seeded into the story. One of my editors actually quit, she hated it so much. “You’ve turned what would have been an otherwise fabulous epic series into something no one will want to read now!” my editor fumed.


I carefully weighed changing the series after this blow-up with my editor; it was an argument that lasted probably close to year off and on.

In the end, I finally did something I think few people actually expected. I went with my gut. I had written what I had written. I liked very much the characters within the story and I was deeply invested in who they were as people. After all, a part of me was within each of them.

I made the decision to not change a thing. The Awakened Series would be what it would be. If the public hated it, then they hated it. So be it.

But as the beta reader group began to grow, something beautiful and miraculous was happening. Both male and female readers alike were engrossed in the story! What I thought (from what I was told) would become a major “turn-off” for the group was actually something they had no problem with at all. One of the beta team, a woman, expressed to me that she thought reading about a gay relationship would feel funny or weird. But she admitted that the way I had written the story, the romance between the two guys was very enticing and undeniably romantic. She really could feel the characters’ attraction and affection for each other.

I was heartened by other readers on the beta team as well who expressed their fondness for the romantic twists that paired same-sex couples as well as straight couples.

In the end, I am grateful for these early beta readers and for their encouraging feedback of the series. Without them, the Awakened Series might have taken a very different, more commercially common turn.

I have made it no secret that this series has probably broken almost every so-called rule there is to break within the mainstream publishing industry. Still, nearly everyone who reads the series has become a fan. That, more than anything, has been well worth following my instincts and weaving a story unlike any other for people to enjoy.

The Story Behind: INVICTUS 300 425 Harley Austin

The Story Behind: INVICTUS

Invictus Book SmallWith the Awakened Series now moving into book four, it has become interesting for me as a storyteller to see the response from readers about the direction a story takes and specifically some of the surprising relationships that have developed within the story. Within the previous book, Legacy, I didn’t start out with the idea of “shipping” some of the characters the way they turned out. But I indeed developed those relationships because they felt to me to be a very natural kind of progression.

Some beta readers found the surprise “ships” awesome and intriguing, while others hated the relationships that developed because they simply didn’t want to see those particular characters in certain relationships. Whether some readers like the relationships or not, I was heartened that the readers were invested in the people within the story to really care.

As a story and a novel series, the Awakened Series breaks all the rules of mainstream publishing.

Things happen within Harley Austin books that are not “politically correct”, not “mainstream”, not “socially acceptable”, deeply “controversial” and even “highly offensive” to some. There isn’t a single individual who won’t in some way be offended by a Harley Austin book. For this I make no apologies. That’s life. Although a fiction series, there are many things within these books that will always hit a little too close to home, because they are indeed a deep reflection of our own true-to-life circumstances, personal desires and current real-life events.

Invictus no less carries on this same Harley Austin tradition of the earlier books in the series; perhaps going even deeper than the previous ones in bringing to light things we as people think about, but would never discuss openly—with anyone.

I believe within all of us there is a hidden curiosity that seeks to know “what if”? Stories in many ways allow us to safely explore within ourselves those “what if’s” and live out within the lives of the fictional people we read about our own secrets, our own desires, our own private fantasies and our someday hoped-for dreams.

For the record, the Awakened Series is not specifically a “gay” book series because a novel (or a few of them) within the series has a non-straight romance. There are a number of non-straight relationships that happen within this series, not because I am pushing some pet personal agenda, but because that is who we are as a people.

I wrote this series from the outset to be something both men and women would enjoy reading. I have been greatly heartened by the very positive response from straight men and women who see the people in the story for who they are. Just people, like all of us, just trying to survive.

I hope you enjoy reading Invictus the Awakened Series as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

~ Harley