Every year about this time my bestie, Rick and his partner Freddie host their annual Halloween Party…their GAY annual Halloween Party…their “we’re inviting every gorgeous available single gay guy whom we will then secretly rate and salivate over” gay annual Halloween party. I am the token MSSF (married straight scorekeeping female). You think I’m joking? This year I have been informed I am to prepare a spreadsheet on Excel just for the purposes of keeping notes.
The first ever OzMMmeet took off on the second weekend of October, 2013, in Sydney. The aim was to meet each other, share information and spread awareness of the M/M genre (as it has not yet taken off in Australasia like it has in other continents). And it all started with a comment to A.B. Gayle from Shaz that Sydney should have meetings the way Melbourne does (a group in Melbourne meet every two to three months for lunch).
As promised, here is Tracy Timmons-Gray’s wrap-up and recommendations following the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up held in Seattle on September 14. I think her recommendations have a lot of merit if we want this genre to thrive even more in the current competitive environment.
On September 14, 2013, more than 120 attendees joined the Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up at the
Seattle Central Public Library, the first conference on LGBT romance fiction in the Pacific Northwest. The
event was hosted by the Seattle nonprofit Old Growth Northwest, which focuses on fostering community and building resources for authors around the Pacific Northwest. I served as the event coordinator for GRNW (on a volunteer basis. GRNW is entirely volunteer-run. For the record, I’m speaking here as myself, and not for Old Growth.)
When I was emailing Tracy Timmons-Gray about the Gay Romance North-West Meet-up in Seattle held on September 14, she mentioned that the keynote speaker for the conference was Marlene Harris who works for the Seattle library system. She indicated that Marlene would be talking about how authors, publishers, and readers could connect to libraries to help spread awareness of LGBT books and expand LGBT library collections. Tracy asked me whether I would be interested in having Marlene write a post for the site that included her recommendations.
I thought this was an excellent idea and I’m enclosing Marlene’s article which I’m sure readers and authors will find not only interesting, but helpful in expanding the reach of GBLT romances through local libraries.
Tracy’s wrap-up of the conference will be on the site soon.
My name is Marlene Harris and I’m a biblioholic. I’m addicted to reading. I read for fun and I read a LOT. While my first loves are science fiction and fantasy, I also read just about every kind of romance, including gay romance.
But I am also a professional book-pusher. That’s right, I’m a librarian. My current position is at The Seattle Public Library, but for the record, I am not speaking or writing officially on behalf of that library.
I’m here to talk about how readers can work with their libraries to get what they want to read on the shelves, both physical and “virtual”.
In order to get your book into the library’s collection, you have to navigate your way through the library’s methods for getting material into its collection. In other words, what are the rules for navigating past the gatekeepers?
When J.A. Rock emailed me to ask whether this site could be part of a blog tour about the Loose id wedding collection called I Do – Unless I Don’t, I indicated that we didn’t do blog tours but if she wanted to write a post about gay weddings, that would be great. So, not being one who is easily daunted, she said she was up to the challenge and here’s the result which I’m sure you’ll enjoy as much as I did. The Loose id collection will be released starting tomorrow.
When I asked if I could guest and Wave suggested writing a post about weddings in m/m romance, I said sure, because it behooves me to commit to things before I think about what they actually entail. This way I never get tripped up by my own limitations. It’s like cramming a bunch of food into my stomach before my body has time to realize it’s full.
The problem is I’ve never read an m/m romance about a wedding. Or any romance about a wedding. Part of that could be that I read almost exclusively BDSM romance, and books like My Best Friend’s Collaring Ceremony and Always a Witness to a Slave Contract, Never a Slave haven’t been written yet (Next project. Check.). But also, weddings don’t particularly interest me.
Maybe that’s not totally true, because I did write a wedding book, and it was wildly fun. It got me thinking about what does interest me about weddings—namely, the backdrop they can provide for mayhem, as well as what the institution of marriage says about people, society, and the way we define and redefine our relationships and values.
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.
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:
“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
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.
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.