Dirty books shouldn’t need defending, should they? However, there’s a certain kind of book I’ve noticed that gets badmouthed everywhere it goes. It’s treated like an uninvited guest who turns up at a formal party looking like a streetwalker, then proceeds to get drunk, foul-mouthed and does a lewd dance on the table top, flashing her skimpy undies. Everyone considers her an embarrassment, but you can guarantee most of them are secretly enjoying the show.
What books am I talking about? I’m talking romantic porn. You know the sort of book: the one where the plot is the thinnest excuse for hanging together a series of sex scenes. Romance readers feel cheated because there’s little in the way of a romantic arc: just two unfeasibly hot men (or whatever gender combination you like) shagging like rabbits at every opportunity. Erotica addicts get annoyed because it isn’t edgy or literary enough, and there’s too much lovey-dovey snuggling for their tastes.
So I am in Chicago this week, away from what is now home (Seattle), but back in what, for many years, was home to me: the city of big shoulders, the Windy City. I lived here for more than sixteen years and this city, more than any other, is home to me—and more than that, it’s inspiration.
That’s what I’m thinking about this morning: how places inspire us, both in writing and in life. Chicago for me is an inspiration I simply cannot get away from. Its mean streets, its gorgeous boulevards and skyline, its hard-working, but complicated people. For me, it’s always been easy to return to Chicago in my mind, which is maybe why I use it so often as a backdrop in my writing.
Okay, here’s the scenario: Our Intrepid Hero, Dr. Binky, has just found the man of his dreams.
Commander Brutus is everything that Dr. Binky could have asked for and more. A strong soldier, good leader to his men, Brutus also writes poetry. Unbeknownst to anyone, Brutus has been extensively published. He wants to be a father, even though he’s gay. Strong, yet sensitive—that’s our Brutus.
After meeting in Afghanistan, where Dr. Binky had been volunteering for Doctors Without Borders on a massive inoculation program, Binky and Brutus begin a whirlwind affair that leaves them both breathless and infatuated.
Then tragedy strikes—a roadside bomb leaves two men under Brutus’ command dead while Brutus is only mildly injured. Binky rushes to his bedside but meets with only a cold stare.
I wrote a post recently about, among other things, the lack of originality in M/M romance. The reason I mention this post is that the following essay by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock shows what the authors in this genre are capable of writing, which goes counter to much of what I read in a lot of books. This essay is so quirky, unpretentious, fresh, extraordinarily funny and just freaking warm that I’m very pleased to profile it and the authors’ upcoming book on the site.
Lisa Henry: It wasn’t my idea to co-write a book
That sounds like an excuse. But, officer, it wasn’t my idea! So how about this:
Co-writing a book with J.A. Rock was a great idea, but it wasn’t mine.
I’d wanted to try co-writing with someone for a while…but I had no idea how to go about it, and didn’t really know anyone well enough to ask. So when J.A. approached me and asked, I dived right in.
Yes! Absolutely! Let’s do this thing now! Let’s do it YESTERDAY!
A recent post in one of my publisher groups got me to thinking. Anything that gets me to thinking is a dangerous thing because it usually leads to me doing something I shouldn’t. But, in this case, I think it’s probably worth following up on.
A writer posted on the m/m romance publisher group that she (with her two-initials first name) had recently received a note from a potential reader, who asked her if she was a male. She wondered how she should respond—and many other writers chimed in, with suggestions for everything from silence to snark to courteousness.
Ever the smart-ass, I surprised myself by coming down on the side of courteousness. This is what I wrote:
Or “Red means, ‘knock it off you fuck, that hurts!’”
“Joe, you like causing pain.” Kabe turned the tap into a caress up and down my arm. “That’s a sadistic trait. There’s other ways you express dominance: you own a room when you walk into it, you like ordering people around.” My mom always called me bossy, saying it was a great trait for a cop and a lousy one for whoever had to live with me. “But with you, it’s inflicting the hurt that gets you off.” I got a soft smile that lit up those hazel eyes of his. “That’s okay since you don’t do it to people who don’t want it. And it’s okay, ‘cause I want it.” He rolled over onto my chest and grinned down at me. “Good?”
~Joe and Kabe from Laying Ghosts
Four letters strike fear into the hearts of romance writers everywhere: TSTL.
Too Stupid to Live—the worst possible criticism. The brand on the forehead of idiotic protagonists that just can’t be ignored. The sign that the reader really, really hates your character and hopes that they won’t survive till the last page.
Today I ask what, really, is TSTL Syndrome? Gut instinct says that it’s a problem with characterization, because the ire of the reader gets focused on the offending character. But I suggest that TSTL is merely a symptom of other afflictions in a book—and not just one.
Here’s an example:
This post by Sean Kennedy (who is Australian) will be controversial but when have I ever steered away from controversy? Sean does have a point, but GBLT allies may feel that they, and the work they have done to advance the cause of gay rights, are not appreciated. However I would like you to read Sean’s post with an open mind and as usual, your comments are welcome, but please be polite.
This is going to be a difficult subject to talk about, because when we talk about privilege and allydom feathers always get ruffled. But I think it is important that these issues get discussed.
I guess I’m really bringing this up because this week the Macklemore song Same Love actually got to #1 on the Australian charts. My first reaction was, “Great!”
And I still think it’s great. A song about gay rights at the top of the charts? Fucking awesome! Especially seeing how gay marriage is an issue of contention and one frequently brought up by voters despite both sides of government refusing to allow it – and although approximately 63% of voters are said to be in favour of it.
But then I began to think about it a little more.
Rick R. Reed has been a valued contributor to this website for a number of years. I am one of his biggest fans and I have been reviewing his books since 2008. When I asked Rick to write a few pieces for our series Ins and Outs of M/M Romance a couple years ago he was most gracious and produced a number of helpful articles for new authors. I can’t recall any time that I asked Rick to write an essay for the site when he has turned me down. Now he has accepted a new challenge. He has agreed to be a regular Author Contributor on the site starting this week, joining Josh Lanyon, Jordan Castillo Price, Nicole Kimberling and Ethan Day. Aunt Lynn, Christian and I wish to welcome Rick in his new capacity and hope you will too..
The boyz in the Hot Tub and the Friday Guys are also looking forward to having Rick on board and checking his credentials. They believe there are too many hot men on the site with fake cred. and that it’s their job to screen out any imposters
Most of you already know Rick but here’s his official biography:
We all know the answer to the first question: Most are straight women. As for why, I hear the groans already. Hasn’t this topic been beaten to death? Probably. But I love animals and would sooner beat a dead horse than a live one. I readily admit that, since I don’t meet any of the criteria to speak for straight women—gender, orientation, professional training in psychology, etc.—my qualifications to answer the question are… well, questionable. However, as often as I’ve seen the subject addressed, I have yet to see it answered, at least to my satisfaction.
While surfing the net recently I came across the enclosed article by Lisa Henry. I asked her for permission to reprint it here which she gave.
Here’s Lisa’s piece:
Is it just me, or is there a lot of Bad Author Behaviour on Goodreads lately?
I won’t link to the latest incident or call anyone out, because whether it’s the author, a sock puppet, or some random helpful fan who thinks they’re doing the author a favour, I don’t know. But it’s unattractive behaviour, and nothing will land you on a “Don’t buy” list quicker than slagging off the people who bought your book in good faith.
Here’s how I see it.
Goodreads is for readers, not authors. The second someone pays for your book, they can like it, hate it, or they can desperately want to KILL IT WITH FIRE. It’s their right. And it’s also their right to tell all their friends what they think. That is the whole point of the site.
When Jeff Erno asked me to post the enclosed article about the launch of a new website dedicated to Young Adult GBLT literature I was very pleased and honoured to do so. True Colorz was the brainchild of a group of YA authors as well as readers who recognized the need for a site which exclusively featured YA books and their authors. I believe strongly in this concept and I think our GBLT young adults and their stories are taking a strong hold in today’s fiction marketplace which will only grow as the audience for these stories increases. The new website is linked at the end of this post and will officially open on January 1, 2013 which is very timely as it will provide a place for our young adults to visit without fear of censure and a knowledge that help will always be available to them, especially in these times when they are under attack it seems like every day.
Here’s Jeff’s article:
There is a misconception that young adult literature is a tiny sub-genre that appeals only to kids and teenagers. Anyone who believes this should take a few minutes to check out J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyers, or Suzanne Collins. Young Adult fiction is hugely popular and is arguably as successful within the mainstream as adult fiction. And like mainstream general fiction, YA books span a wide variety of genres which include romance, horror, sci fi, historical, fantasy, etc.
This is the second of our Christmas essays and they couldn’t be more different. I decided to go with two because they were both wonderful representations of the holiday season that most of us don’t experience here in North America. I hope you enjoy Karin’s memories.
When Wave put a call out for someone to write a little Christmas essay, I was both intrigued and daunted. It’s been years since I’ve had to write an essay, to the point where I’m not even sure how to write one anymore. Still, I was compelled to try, especially when Wave explained she wanted to hear about favorite Christmas memories. Now those, I have. Not specifically for one Christmas, but more the season as a whole during a chapter of my life.
Very few of you who’ll read this know me. I am, after all, no published author (though a few who roam the “halls of Twilight fanfic” might recognize me). I’m just one of you: a reader and follower of this awesome site. So, let me start off with a very brief introduction beyond the above. I’m Dutch, though I live in the USA. Now, as you may or may not know, the Dutch do not celebrate Christmas as you do in the States. Oh, over the years we’ve adopted much of the holiday, but mainly it’s Sinterklaas that’s celebrated, especially for kids. At least, such was the case back when I grew up. I’m certain things have… changed, since then.
When Stephani and Cody Hecht told me they were going on RuPaul’s Drag Race cruise I asked them to put together a short post with photos, and now you get to enjoy their cruise without paying:
Stephani, Cody and Alexis Mateo Bam!
During the entire cruise I found myself comparing it to GayRomLit. The good: Almost all of the Queens were open and so nice. They hung out with everybody and were always willing to pose for pictures, much like the authors at GRL. The bad: The coordinators of the cruise could really use a lesson in organization and tact from Ethan, Damon, Carol and the rest of the GRL team.