Writing Wednesday – Today

 

Today is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Listen to our voices, and read our stories.

Learn our history, and demand it be taught. Speak out against those who would dehumanize us, even when it’s “just” Uncle So-n-so.

See and recognize our intersections, and understand it’s not just one thing for many of us. Especially from others within.

Fight for our equality and rights, as though the next under attack could be yours. Stop fighting terms when they help others be seen as human beings (I’m looking at you, “I don’t like the term cisgender” people). Expand your definitions instead.

It’s not just love. It’s gender, identity, freedom, rights, and visibility. Queer is more than just sex and love. For some queer folk, it’s not about sex or love at all. Hold the queer umbrella high enough to cover all the LGBTQIA2SP+ queerfolk, and understand making room doesn’t lessen the whole.

Or get the hell out of our way.


triad-soulOkay, there’s that said.

I’ve got very little to report writing-wise this week. Renovations on the house continue at a great (but loud) pace, and I’ve been working on some short fiction for the calls listed below and falling behind and the panic of deadlines is rising.

So you know, business as usual. 😉

Triad Soul got its first NetGalley-based review, and it was very positive. I will admit to a full-body exhale. There’s just something about the first review.

As always, if you’d like a copy of Triad Soul for yourself, the best place to go is Bold Strokes Books (you’ll get it earlier). If you’re a librarian or a teacher or a bookseller, then definitely check out NetGalley (the link above).

Onward!


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

 

Renovations have called a halt to much of my work on Exit Plans, but I’ve figured out the teacher character now. I wanted to do some things very purposefully with Exit Plans, and one of those things was to make sure there were awesome, supportive, and trustworthy adults. The teacher  was going to be one of them.

It finally clicked that I could use Mr. Andrew Jones (from In Memoriam) as that teacher, and I had a big happy.


Of Echoes Born

Did I mention renovations?


Open Calls for Submission

Every Wednesday I try to include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

Tallies for May: Still nothing yet. (I know, I know).

The year thus far: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April say 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance (woo-hoo!).

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • Totally Entwined – Many calls, various dates and lengths.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.
  • Myths, Moons, and Mayhem – M/M/M ménage; Deadline June 1st, 2017; 4k – 6k word count limit.
  • The Witching Hour – Mythical creature visitation theme; deadline July 30th, 2017; 10k to 40k word count limit.
  • Futurescape Contest – “Blue Sky Cities” theme; 8k word count limit; deadline October 13th, 2017.

Gatecrasher – Stephen Graham King (Bold Strokes Books)

I’m over at Out in Print today, discussing Stephen Graham King’s Gatecrasher.

Out in Print: Queer Book Reviews

Buy from Bold Strokes Books

I’ve long been a lover of Space Opera, but it was so rarely a place I saw myself represented that I drifted away from it over my years as a reader. I always felt a disconnect: how come we got to the stars, but there’s never a queer person in sight? Why can’t the cocky space pilot be bi? Why can’t the tech-smart engineer hook up with another guy?

Well, they can. Allow me to introduce you to the Maverick Heart Cycle.

When I first read Stephen Graham King’s Soul’s Blood, I fell in love with his trio of Lexa-Blue, Keene, and the sentient space ship, Maverick Heart (Vrick to the ship’s friends). Space Opera is difficult to pull off well. Balancing world-building, which so often includes linguistic nuances to show an evolution (or devolution) in culture, alongside the narrative itself is a tricky…

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Grab Some Soul

triad-soul

Available June 20th… unless you jump the line at Bold Strokes Books.

It’s almost June, which means Triad Soul is almost released. I’m really, really stoked (and really, really nervous) about this on two fronts: One, it’s a sequel, and I’ve never done that before. Two: it’s the Triad guys, which people seem to really like, and I’m generally afraid of rising expectations. It’s a thing.

That said, if you’re a librarian, a bookseller, a book reviewer, or otherwise book-biz person, you can now request Triad Soul through NetGalley. If you don’t know what NetGalley is, it’s basically a way for authors and publishers to garner some noise pre-release. The e-version of the books is listed there a bit early, in hopes that reviewers and librarians and booksellers might find the next thing they’d love to hand-sell, recommend, or otherwise chat about. It’s a good site, Bront.

For the readers, if you want Triad Soul in your hands as soon as possible (and bless you if that’s you), the best option is to hop on over to the Bold Strokes Books website. You see, Bold Strokes makes all the titles available at the beginning of the month. So come June 1st, Triad Soul is available. It ships. If you’ve pre-ordered an e-book? It downloads. Ka-pow! You have demon, wizard, and vampire goodness in your hot little hand, two weeks ahead of everyone else.

Also, Anders approves of your give-it-to-me-now lifestyle.

And as always—thank you.

What it Says on the Tin

I have a request.

An author friend of mine posted recently about some frustrations he was having with the book world, and I found myself wanting to reach through the screen and offer up a hug. A lot of what he was describing sounded very, very familiar, and I wished I had some sort of advice to offer.

But honestly? I don’t have any.

I feel like I need to caveat a lot of what I’m about to say with a clear, focused statement, so I’m going to do so: I love romance. I love writing romance. I will likely always continue to write romances, especially in shorter formats like novellas and short fiction.

Please re-read that a bunch of times if at any point this post feels like maybe I’m saying something otherwise. Because I’m not.

As a queer author who writes queer (and most often specifically gay male) fictions, there’s a thing that happens quite a bit to me in the reader/reviewer world: assumed romance.

Now, romance—like all the genres—is very much like a contract with the reader. If you pick up a romance, you are completely within your rights to assume there will be a happy-ever-after (or at least, a happy-for-now) by the time the narrative wraps up, despite whatever angst, worry, conflict, miscommunication, random chance, or crazy antics are tossed in the way of the characters. It’s a romance. That’s not up for negotiation, it’s part of the deal the author makes with the reader when they label their book a romance.

The romance world is an awesome one, and the readership is vast and honestly keeps the vast majority of the book industry going. Romance matters. It’s important. I will defend romance against all those book snobs who reduce it to snide remarks or create hierarchies of what’s a “real” book versus what isn’t.

M/M romance readers in particular are a force of nature, and good lord I love the energy in the room at Romancing the Capital when I get to talk with m/m readers. Happy endings are oxygen, and as a queer author who sometimes writes gay romances, I love that my gay romance writing means my readership venn diagram can cross over with the m/m readership.

But. (And you knew there was a but, right?)

But the flip-side to that passionate readership of romance can create real frustration for queer authors like me. Before I get there, though, I need to explain a bit about why—and what—I write.

Ask a million authors why they write, and you’ll probably get a billion answers, but the most central reason I write is to put characters I never saw into the world. I write for representation of queer folk like me, which young queer me never saw. I love that my readership is larger than queer folk, and I also recognize there’s a responsibility there to represent very, very well, as part of my writing does cross over into education, and I do my damnedest to write some queers who could be living, breathing folk who walk a day to day life here in Canada. That matters a huge deal to me.

That young queer me, who never saw himself anywhere in fiction (or the media, frankly), didn’t just read romance, though. He read science fiction. He read mystery. He read thrillers. He didn’t read much horror (neither does his grown-up counterpart, for the record), and he never liked anything gory (ditto!), but my point here is this: queerfolk deserve their happy endings in romance, absolutely, and they also deserve to exist in the mysteries, the thrillers, the science fictions, the horrors, and every other genre and sub-genre, too.

And sometimes, I write those. In fact, my two novels thus far—Light and Triad Blood—were both science fiction books. Contemporary, yes. And Light definitely had itself a romantic sub-plot. But they were both science fiction nonetheless. My third novel, Triad Soul, comes out next month and it, too, is a science fiction book. My novel after that? Young adult (although, again, there’s going to be a romantic sub-plot).

in-memoriam

Gay romance novella. Oh, and wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.

My novella, In Memoriam (which, as of this morning was still free on Kindle, by the way) is a romance. So, if you read that, despite the blurb, and despite what looks like a potentially depressing topic, you know one thing for sure: happy ending. I have other novellas in the pipeline, too, and they’re all romances. Again, happy endings.

So why am I over-stressing this point?

Because far more often than you’d think, reviews of books with gay characters rate, rank, and describe the book on a romance scale when they’re not romances. This happens to me every time, and it happened to my friend who inspired this post, and it happens to so many queer authors I know.

“For a romance, this was really fade-to-black.”

“I never got the sense that they loved each other—they seemed more like friends and companions than lovers.”

“The romance plot was barely even there.”

When a book isn’t a romance, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Now, I’m not putting all the blame on the reader, either. As an author there are definitely things to do to ensure the perception of a reader is on-target. The most basic is the cover. One of my erotica shorts, Three, is an example, I think, of a cover that pretty much tells you exactly what’s going on:

threeThat’s Luc. He’s a French Canadian vampire, and he seems to have lost his shirt. That’s okay, though, because frankly a good portion of the short story involves him not wearing one. This is romance, and, in fact, erotica. The hunky shirtless guy on the cover helps make that clear. Now, there are also words on the cover, but let’s be honest, reading those will come second to that view of Luc. Ah, Luc. You can be so prim and proper and a little bit casually pragmatic, but when I see you without your shirt? It’s forgiven.

Sorry, where was I? Right! The words on the cover. If you look at the top there, it says “Erotic short story prequel to Triad Blood.” It’s safe to say there will be sex in this story. It’s also safe to say the story will be short. And hey! If you like the characters, there’s apparently more to read with them.

Reviews of this short story have included:

“This novel was really, really short. It was more like a short story.”

“Woah. The sex was really explicit.”

You see where I’m going with this, I imagine.

I try really, really hard to be clear with the book cover, blurbs, categorization, and discussions of my novels and novellas. There are no shirtless men on the covers of the Triad books, or Light. There will be no shirtless young man on the cover of my YA novel. They will be categorized correctly, and I’m still 100% sure that reviews of the book will contain “heat ratings,” discussions of the romance content, and at least one that will say, at some point, “for an m/m romance, I found this to be…”

So. Deep breath. What else do I do?

Nothing. There’s nothing else I can do. Except maybe this post, which it occurred to me to write after seeing my author friend’s post lamenting similar issues.

So, here’s my request. And before I make it, I just want to say, one more time: I love romance. I love writing romance. I will likely always continue to write romances, especially in shorter formats like novellas and short fiction.

But my request is this: before you review a queer book (especially a queer book by a queer author), please ask yourself: is it a romance?

The answer to that is easy to find. Look at the book’s listing on the publisher website or the e-tailer or the bookshelf in the brick-and-mortar store. If that book’s listing says “romance,” then by all means, judge the book accordingly (and yes, if there’s no happy ending, the author really, really messed up). But if the book is a science fiction, or a thriller, or a mystery, and you’re judging and reviewing it on the basis of the romantic content? It’s going to fail.

And, more, there’s a disservice happening to the reader and the author. Especially when we’re talking about queer folk. We’re more than our romantic entanglements. I’m still queer if I’m single. After I’ve fallen in love, gotten married? Still queer. Stories set both before and after the falling in love are still stories that queer folk need to see, need to have represented. Heck, part of the queer family also includes aromantic queers, which get completely tossed to the wayside when the conceptualization and reviewing of queer books is all done through a romantic lens.

We’re allowed these other genres. We’re allowed to be in the future on star ships, and the wizard behind the power on the throne. We’re allowed to be running for our lives from the undead, and hunting down a serial killer with our non-romantic FBI partners. We’re allowed all those stories, and all those stories aren’t romances.

Imagine how foolish it would seem if someone reviewed every cisgender, heterosexual main character in urban fantasy on how good a romance it was. It doesn’t happen. But throw queer characters into the mix, and there’s such a heavy prejudgement that of course queer means sex (or romance).

So please, please stop assuming that queer means romance. It can. It often will.

It doesn’t have to.

 

Writing Wednesday – Freebie

 

cropped-in-memoriam-ebook.jpgBefore anything else? I have a freebie! I have no idea for how long, but right now In Memoriam, my wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey gay romance novella is free on kindle. If you don’t have it, now is a great time to nab it. I promise it’s not as depressing as it may sound, what with the whole “dying” thing. It’s still a romance, and romance has rules.

Okay, that said, confession time: I’ve been a pretty bad blogger (and writer) of late. I’ve got only one excuse, really: renovations. Trying to write has been a disaster as a group of workers rip the side and roof off our house to replace it, in no small part because of the noise (and in no smaller part because of the dog who is not okay with the noise). I’ve adjusted all my writing goals to be post-renovation, and I’m considering any forward motion during the event itself to be a positive. But wow. Loud and distracting to say the last.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

I still haven’t met with the high school pride club. I’m not going to lie, it’s a disappointment, and though I’ve interacted with administration and the kids, they just stopped answering, so I guess I should take that for what it is: no permission from the school. I’ve reached out one more time after the silence, but…

I’ll suck it up and move on.


Of Echoes Born

 

I’ve ground to a halt here, but I’m trying to get back into writing mode. I’m quite lucky in that I’ve been reading a lot of good fiction lately, which tends to put me back on track and get me writing. I just wish I had better output when I write in the evenings, as right now, renovation during the day means nothing is happening.


Open Calls for Submission

Every Wednesday I try to include my list off all the various open calls for submission I’ve found and/or am trying to write for. If you know of any others, by all means do drop them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. If this is helpful for people other than myself, it’s even better.

Tallies for May: Nothing yet. (I know, I know).

The year thus far: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April say 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance (woo-hoo!).

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul – Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Clarkesworld – Currently open for art, non-fiction, and short story submissions.
  • Cast of Wonders – Young adult short fiction market, open to story submissions up to 6,000 words.
  • Totally Entwined – Many calls, various dates and lengths.
  • Alice Unbound – Think Alice in Wonderland, only speculative and may embrace fabulist, weird, myth, SF, fantasy, steampunk, horror, etc. Exile Editions; Submission window: February 1st – May 31st, 2017; 2k – 5k word count limit; Canadians and ex-pat Canadians only.
  • Myths, Moons, and Mayhem – M/M/M ménage; Deadline June 1st, 2017; 4k – 6k word count limit.
  • The Witching Hour – Mythical creature visitation theme; deadline July 30th, 2017; 10k to 40k word count limit.

A Bold Strokes Books Catch-up Paperback Sale

Hey folks! I try not to spam too much in the way of deals, but Bold Strokes Books has one heck of a paperback sale going on right now (like, $3.99 US a paperback kind of deal), and many, many of the anthologies in which I have a story are a part of this deal.

You can see the entire list on sale here. You’ll notice many titles I’ve mentioned in the past as loving.

But! In case you’re wondering, here are the short stories included in books on sale for the weekend:

General Short Fiction


Erotica ExoticaAlso, if you’re interested in the Triad guys, the original four stories are included in the anthology deal (in order of timeline).

  1. “Three,” in the anthology Blood Sacraments.
  2. “Intercession,” in the anthology Wings: Subversive Gay Angel Erotica.
  3. “Possession,” in the anthology Erotica Exotica: Tales of Tales of Sex, Magic.
  4. “Necessary Evils,” in the anthology Raising Hell: Demonic Gay Erotica.

Erotica

cover


Young Adult