Sound off! or Soliciting your $0.02

My BookshelfLately I’ve been doing some reading about how to market oneself online as an author. It’s easy and fun to help readers find my friends’ books but my mind goes blank around the idea of promoting my own. If I let it. That’s part of what led to the new title of this blog: Unconventional Love.

But then I read this article about the upcoming Baltimore Book Festival, and wonder if that title really says what I want it to say.

The article quotes Andrew Grey saying exactly what I believe about fiction—every genre—that anyone and everyone should be able to find a story they can relate to, see their life/experience in. I spent most of my life searching for stories I could identify with—the few I did find were so heartbreaking I retreated to Louis L’Amour or Stephen King* comfort reads. Sometimes both in the same day.

Which is why my heroes are unknown musicians and plumbers and unemployed teachers—those guys deserve a beautiful love story at least as much as the rock gods and fire fighters and billionaires that have been populating Romance novels since there have been Romance novels. When I chose Unconventional Love I was thinking of those guys (and gals, okay and the play on “unconditional love” too)—the folks who don’t go looking for fame or fortune, they just live their lives and try to do the right thing and hope the overall scale of their life decisions tips toward the side of good. And they wouldn’t turn down a little happiness if it came their way either.

But that article made me wonder if folks will look at the title of my blog and think I mean Gay Romance itself is unconventional.

That couldn’t be farther from the way I see it but if that’s the perception I’ll head back to the drawing board. As a writer it’s my job to communicate clearly; I don’t always hit the mark the first time, but that’s what drafts and editors are for.

What say you, friends?

What does Unconventional Love make you think of?

Any and all opinions are welcome. Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.

If you came looking for my Back to School Blog Hop post i’d like to invite you to answer the question above before scrolling to that post or clicking here.

*Yep, I love being scared by fictional things so Uncle Stevie’s books are like vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup to me.

In which i pitch my $0.02 while trying not to shoot myself in the foot.

It’s been a long time since i posted something likely to be incendiary, but that doesn’t mean i haven’t been pondering. Oh, i ponder like nobody’s business on a slow day. The plan is to come back later today and post a snippet, but until then here are my thoughts on something i’ve been hearing/talking/thinking a lot about lately. These thoughts are purely my own, so you know who to blame if they’re incomprehensible, offensive, or both.

To Mainstream or not to Mainstream, that is the question?

As someone who started grade school in the 1970s the word “mainstreaming” has a very specific meaning. When I was in first grade it had just become trendy to send kids who weren’t “perfect” to school with everyone else. During my time on the little kids’ side of the playground my classmates were deaf, legally blind, and some of them had cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. They were also every color of the rainbow: Asian, Latino, black, Pacific Islander, Native American (and I have a feeling I’ve forgotten someone so I apologize; that was a long time ago!).

Mainstreaming 1970s style was met with some strenuous opposition from some corners of society but for the most part the kids on the playground couldn’t have cared less about someone’s disability. All we cared about was who was nice and who wasn’t.

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

The latest push for mainstreaming is surrounding the LGBTQ community. There are good things to be said for fitting in and becoming an active part of the larger community of humans we all live in. However, there’s a big difference between a nice stew and paté. A nice hearty stew can contain dozens of flavors, each morsel retaining the qualities that make it special—you won’t mistake a bite of carrot for a whole clove of garlic, even if the garlic has been deliciously mellowed by its exposure to the mixture as a whole.

On the other hand, once an ingredient goes into a paté it loses its unique characteristics in order to contribute fully to the overall experience. The onion in a paté doesn’t resemble the onion in a stew.

Sorry if it grosses anyone out to liken humans to food products but hopefully at least the metaphor is clear.

I don’t want to live in paté.

If someone else does, fine, but the push to create a society where the rainbow brigade is indistinguishable from our straight white middle class neighbors just makes me sad. I have this attitude in part because I’m not straight or middle class, but mostly because I’m afraid the push toward mainstreaming will result in homogeneity—and since the overwhelming majority of people are straight, I can only guess what that would end up looking like.

I enjoyed growing up with people from all over the world, people who were differently-abled or didn’t speak English at home or who were just plain unique in their own way. My feeling about the mainstreaming of the rainbow is that it’s less about becoming fully accepted than it is about fitting in. It feels like the difference between being tolerated (gee, thanks for allowing me to continue to live), and being genuinely accepted as fellow humans. And that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


xphoto credit: bkdc via photopin cc

Why Erotic Romance?


I’ve seen some of the recent buzz in reader and writer circles about the erotic content of Romances and how the different heat levels are (or should be) marketed.  Don’t leave!  I wouldn’t dip even my little toe into those piranha-infested waters even if I did believe explicit content has anything to do with the quality of a story.  The only pot I like stirring anymore is the fictional kind. But, I read stories of all heat levels and the conversation has gotten me pondering. Like Flannery O’Connor said:  “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

I’ve always loved the idea that magic could be real, that if you turn over a rock or turn a corner you could find something amazing that would change your life forever.  For me as a reader, heat level is less important than magic (both literal and figurative).

I’ve written in a few genres in the past *cough* few years, under three names and for many different reasons.  I’ve written articles on sports and court decisions to pay bills, literary short stories to experiment with different ways of showing character, and more than one manuscript started out with the lofty goal of writing The Great American Novel.  Even though one school of thought insists that sex sells, period, nothing I sold before 2012 had any sex in it whatsoever.  All the steamy stories (long and short) were turned down flat by agents and publishers of all sizes and specialties across the country—even the ones who insisted they enjoyed my writing and would like to see something “more marketable” in the future.

For me, writing about the entire relationship between two (or more!) people is fun and reading about it is even more fun (not to mention easier).  I’d written about love, and some of my characters got their HEA/HFNs, but I hadn’t written a Romance before last August.  I tried once or twice but my characters revolted because I also tried to make them all straight.  But, that’s a post for another time . . . maybe June.

By the time I made it halfway through the draft of Comfort and Joy I was hooked.  Even though it deals with a pretty heavy subject (long-term emotional recovery from an assault), just knowing the guys were headed for happiness made me happy too.  Once Etopia Press offered to publish it, my conversion to the sexy-side was complete.  Instead of cutting the steamy scenes (which always managed to sneak in somehow), now I’m polishing them.

I wrote two more short novellas last fall and barring any disasters both should be released this summer, so it’s pretty safe to say I’m happy with my decision to follow my heart (yes, my heart) and continue writing Erotic Romance.  In fact, I’ve been working with one of my editors this weekend on the 9/June release (Jake’s story, hence the gorgeous trumpet pic), working on the blurb for the other summer release (Directing Traffic, formerly known as Sea Change), and polishing up a longer story for submission (CS).  As if that wasn’t enough to make studying difficult, my PNR guys sense blood in the water now that CS is almost done and their conversation off in the corner is getting louder.

What do you think?  Does the heat level in a Romance have any bearing on your decision to read it?  Would you ever be upset if a blurb or other marketing gave the wrong impression of a story’s heat rating?  Give me your $0.02 in the comments so I have something juicy to read on my next study break.

photo credit: gilles chiroleu via photopin cc

What Small Town Life Taught Me, or Go Ahead–Poke the Sleeping Tiger!

I moved from a big city in California to a small town in rural Northwest Oregon when I was still something of a pup.  Despite my happiness and relief at escaping, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.  I had so many “firsts” there:  deciding to write with the goal of being published, celebrating being published,  and doing so many things that can really only be done in the country (including an ill-advised tubing trip down the river in March).

The practical things were what I appreciated first:  the delicious application of the verb “to glean”, canning, the wonderful feeling of coming inside cold and tired after a day of physical labor to bask in the heat of a big fat log of maple on the stove.


It took longer, but the more subtle charms of the little country town became clear to me as well.  The fact that everyone knows who you are even if you’ve never seen them before, and how even the smallest comment can be tossed back at you from any corner without warning.

I know this may come as a shock, but for an introvert I’m a mouthy bitch.  I garnered a few nicknames during my stay in that small town, some of which were colorful and some of which were even true.  Sorry, to maintain what little earning potential I may have outside of writing I have to cultivate plausible deniability, so I can’t share any of them here.  There’s no telling what will stick in someone’s mind or for how long.  The point, though, was given to me by one of the coolest broads I’ve ever met, and may G RIP (or not, whichever she wants ;)).  G told me this (many times, because I’m also a bit thick in the head) and I’ve tried not to forget:  “If they’re talking about me, then they’re leaving someone else alone.”

She had nicknames too, some even less flattering than mine, but she truly did not care.  I haven’t quite reached that level of confidence, but I’m fine with being talked about.  (The trouble comes with NOT being talked about, but down that path lies madness—plenty of time for that later.)

The town, along with two others in the general vicinity, have been patched together to make Willston, the town in Comfort and Joy.  I’ve taken bits and pieces and re-arranged them as the whim struck me and the stories demanded (yes, I have maps!).  Willston doesn’t make much of an appearance in this short novella, but maybe it will have its time to shine eventually.  I’ve seen a few comments here and there that a prequel is in order, and since I have one drafted I may go back to it.  So I’m doing a very scientific study and asking everyone I know how they feel about prequels.  Because I’ve learned to trust word of mouth—as long as the mouth in question isn’t giving me a nickname.

How do you feel about prequels?  Love ‘em? Hate ‘em?  Could care less?

Dish me all the dirt you have on prequels!

photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc

A moment to reflect

Last year I worked up the courage to submit a story in a new genre – M/M Erotic Romance.  My debut M/M Erotic Romance novella was released on December 17 so I thought, it being January and all, I’d take a moment to reflect.  It’s a good habit to get into – taking a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come, even (especially?) when we’re still not quite where we’d like to be.

Last August I volunteered my way into a writer’s conference and found the kick in the pants I’d been looking for to get serious about writing again.  I’d been unemployed for almost two months and a lot had happened in that relatively short time (but I won’t bore you with that here).  So I wrote Comfort and Joy, and after only one rejection signed a contract with Etopia Press!  That was super exciting, and prompted me to venture into the wild world of social media.  I never thought I’d do that, but a few months later I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and seven (yes, 7!) Yahoo groups!  I’m not the most talkative gal out there, but I’m there.

Strangely enough, I owe a lot of this new activity to one of my favorite characters, Charlie Price.  He’s one of the main characters in Comfort and Joy and we’ve worked through our pain together to a good end.  A large part of the inspiration for him was my recovery from an accident which, over the course of about two years, involved a lot of trips to many different specialists and all the emotions that go along with daily physical pain.  The experience changed the way I see the world, and myself.  Not the least of which seems to be expecting more and more, and more quickly to boot!

I’ll keep myself from going on to goals for the coming year.  I’m having too much fun basking in my successes just now, and the sweet feeling that we can never really know where we’ll end up when we take that first step.

What highlights from 2012 are you taking the time to appreciate?

xphoto credit: bkdc via photopin cc