The Glory of Love, Loser’s Edition

Y’know, it’s actually quite brave to say all this. And, in the spirit of the same level of honesty, I’m there, too. Light was shortlisted for a Lammy, and I was stunned. Triad Blood, which I truly believe is a better book, was not. “Deflating” is the right word.

I absolutely write for readers, and for myself, and for this sort of “what-if?” version of myself who never got to read the books he wanted to read that included him. But there are times where a little bit of outside, “Wow, well done you!” is helpful.

Aurora Rey

I promise this is not a post about Peter Cetera. Or The Karate Kid Part II. It is a little bit about love, though. And glory. And why I write.

I’ve reflected before about why I write romance novels. Of my delight in having readers. Fans, even. I’ve touched on how nice the money is and how much it has meant to me–as a writer and a person–to have found a home in the lesfic community.

But today I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m also in it for the glory.

Perhaps glory is the wrong word. Esteem might be better, with a layer of recognition. But glory is definitely part of it. And I’d already committed to the Peter Cetera reference, so here we are.

Today, the last batch of finalists for the Golden Crown Literary Society Awards (the Goldies) were announced. Built to Last

View original post 395 more words

Writing Wednesday – Noisemaking

triad-soul

Obligatory reminder you can pre-order.

 

I’ve handed in the proofs, and Triad Soul is on it’s way to becoming a real life book. Which means, while I’m still working on Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks and Of Echoes Born, I’m also now gearing up on the whole promotion/making noise aspect of being a writer.

It’s always a little bit amusing when you get final version of the book to me. I end up thinking some variation of: Oh yeah. This. I wrote this. Huh. Almost forgot.

So, now it’s time to remember what the book is about, to crack my knuckles and get the blog posts and interviews and everything else lined up properly, and hope that the signal is higher than the noise.

And speaking of stuff you can hear: I’m going to be guest on An Earful of Queer (a delightful new podcast hosted by Matt Bright), and you can send in questions, which I promise Matt will consider asking (especially if they’re uncomfortable questions). I’m looking forward to every part of it except listening to my own voice. Hyperconscious of not stuttering isn’t a good sound for me, but I’ll do my best.

And as I’ve said a bajillion times before, as much work and worry as it is to release a book, I can’t wait to share more of Luc, Anders, and Curtis (and the rest of the gang) with y’all. June can’t come fast enough.


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

I had a few good breakthrough moments these last two weeks, and although it hasn’t turned into a great word count, it’s helping. I’m also still working on chatting with that pride club, so we’ll see how it goes.


Of Echoes Born

 

The three Ian Simon stories are really shaping up now. In the three tales, we meet Ian at 16, revisit him at about 26, and then the final story of the collection he’ll be 36. The decade thing might be a bit on the nose, but I’m hoping it works.

I also made myself cry with a scene where young Ian has one of his psychic moments and gets to see a reflection of his older self in a mirror, and the two can interact across time. The future Ian points, and makes the “okay” hand symbol a few times until the younger Ian gets the message: You’re going to be okay.

So much of Of Echoes Born is a variation on this theme of the past and the present and an unknown future. I hope it works.


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 April: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance.

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).

  • 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.
  • Chelsea Station – Nonpaying, but a great magazine; deadline May 1st 2017.
  • 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 Quick Note for a Quick Sale

in-memoriamNot sure for how long, but right this moment, my wee novella In Memoriam is half-off at audible.

With one diagnosis, editor James Daniels learns that he’s literally running out of time. Looking at his life, he sees one regret: Andy, the one that got away. Andy was the first man that James ever loved, but Andy has been gone for years, and might not want to be found.

But as his cancer progresses and James starts to lose his grip on time and memory, it might just be that time and memory are losing their grip on James, too.

It’s the biggest and most important re-write of his life. Restoring love from nothing but memory might be possible, if the past isn’t too far gone to fix.

It’s not on any sort of special sale in e-book format, but as an e-book, it’s available through Kindle Unlimited (or for a buck).

Bunnies

I’m going to take a little moment today to talk about the latest set of heated voices in the m/m world, and I hope, as with discussions in the past of Pseudonyms vs. Identities, and Gay for You plots, and Family Reconciliation plots, that everyone can play nice. I still get nasty comments on those posts, but comment screening is magic, and they’re far more outweighed by actual, thoughtful discussion, so it still feels worthwhile.

But I’m going to come at it from perhaps a different angle in hopes I can shift the narrative a bit from finger-pointing and self-defence and so I’m going to talk plot bunnies.

Most writers I know (and especially those in the romance or spec-fic business) talk about plot bunnies. In fact, it’s pretty much a short hand. Someone in the queer spec fic group online will post an article about, say, a newly theorized method of faster-than-light travel, and I’d lay a wager that one of the comments on the article will be nothing more than: “Plot bunny!”

Seriously. We do that.

Pictures, too, can garner this response (especially pictures of models or actors, as nothing quite sparks a character like a well-crafted image—I see this more in romance, where the right fella with the right smouldering look can inspire a bunch of different takes). News articles, too, which definitely source ideas for many an author.

Most recently? I saw an article about a woman who figured out a way to rescue a moose that had fallen through the ice, and I swear I could almost see the steam coming out of the ears of a romance author who loves unique shifter stories—what if the moose is actually a shifter, and what if she turns out to be his mate, and what if..?

in-memoriamWell, you get the idea. Plot bunnies come from everywhere and anywhere. I’ve had plot bunnies, myself. One short story appeared through a song (“Elsewhen,” in Riding the Rails came almost entirely from the song How it Ends by DeVotchKa), and a novella was formed through a visceral reaction to the pat phrase “Everything happens for a reason,” when someone said it to a friend admitting they were facing down a severe illness (In Memoriam was the result of that anger). I’m really proud of both of those stories. In fact, “Elsewhen” continues to be my husband’s most favourite thing I’ve ever written, and I consider In Memoriam to be the most personal thing I’ve ever penned.

Now, as a writer, the whole plot bunny thing is just part of the day to day. Stuff inspires. That’s how it works. But sometimes? That stuff can also be people.

And that’s where things can get heated. Because people don’t stop being people when they’ve also become a plot bunny for a writer.

I use “#ownvoices” and the phrase “living, breathing culture” a lot when I talk about criticism, and—big surprise!—I’m going to do it again. Here’s the rub: when an author writes about people who exist (and yes, I realize they’re fictionalized versions of people who exist), they are now representing those living, breathing people.

Whether they want to or not.

That can kind of suck, and I get that. The author has, by writing those characters, opened up to criticism from those living, breathing people if they accidentally mess it up, regardless of intent.

Now, for the most part, that’s just common sense, right? I mean, if a writer screws up a factual detail in, say, a police procedural, and a real-life cop were to point that out, they’d probably be a bit embarrassed, maybe mention it in a blog, share some tips on how to avoid mistakes like that (usually it involves finding someone with the knowledge and asking them if they’d be willing to give a manuscript a once-over). It happens, though, and we’ve all done it.

The difference when these plot bunnies involve queer people, I think, is how heightened the experience is for the queer reader, and how often so much of a non-queer author’s intent was absolutely to do no harm. No matter how often I try to explain my queer life, no matter how many anecdotes I tell, and no matter how much progress is made, my day-to-day life is full of reminders of ways in which I am less-than, different-from, or anathema-to. And that’s exhausting.

Queer folk are allowed to be exhausted (so are every other group of marginalized people, by the way, in case that wasn’t clear). We’re just as human as everyone else.

Now, as an anecdote, I’m going to drop one specific example before I get back to the plot bunny thing: “Are you brothers?”

I recently went on vacation with my husband. I cannot tell you how many times we were asked that question on the trip. Now, I took his name when I married him, and my identification shares a surname with him.

So, sitting down to lunch on our disaster of delayed flights to Hawai’i, it happened: “Are you brothers?” I told the waitress that no, we weren’t, and didn’t clarify we were husbands, but whatever. We ordered a meal, and ate. At the gate when another flight had been canceled, the woman helping me asked as well. I was at one desk, my husband at another, as there were big line ups and we had no idea which line might clear faster. I got to the front first, so I waved him over. As he walked over, she asked, “are you brothers?” “No,” I said. “He’s my husband.” She went back to booking a new flight for us. More flights canceled and delayed. We made it to Vancouver, and then had to get a hotel. Westjet comped us a hotel, which was good. Our suitcase wasn’t at the airport, which wasn’t. The woman at the counter asked which of our suitcases hadn’t shown up, mine or my brother’s? “Husband,” I said. “And it’s both of ours,” I said. “We only brought one.” “Oh,” she said. “Which phone number should I put it under?” We took our hotel coupons, and left. At the hotel desk, the clerk said, “Are you brothers?” and I lost it.

“No,” I said. “He’s my husband.” It came out sharp, and angry, and had a day’s worth of flight cancellations, delays, and a day’s delay of derailed trip to Hawai’i behind it, as well as the usual annoyance of having to explain that I was with a man and he was my husband.

Every single person that day didn’t need to ask that specific question. There might very well have been reasons for them to want to know—the hotel clerk, for example, could have been confirming we only needed one bed—but “Are you brothers?” wouldn’t have answered that question. The question “One night, one bed is okay?” would have.

It wasn’t the first person who asked that did me in. It was the fifth (or sixth?) in one long day of constantly having to out myself to people who frankly didn’t need to know and who, for all I knew, could make what was already a difficult day worse because they could decide with a few key strokes to make our trip harder if they didn’t like gay people.

From the hotel clerk’s point of view, though? He’d asked me one simple question, and I’d lost it and completely over-reacted. He had no idea of my living, breathing experience that day as a queer man. Frankly, he was lucky I answered, instead of my husband, who has even less patience for that shit.

But back to plot bunnies.

When an author chooses a queer plot bunny and makes one of those mistakes—a gay for you plot that doesn’t include the word bisexual or pansexual anywhere, off-handedly saying “Oh, I identify as a gay man” when not actually meaning it on a trans-identity level, shrugging off queer criticism as “haters,” or using “clean” in the narrative as a way to describe a character as HIV negative—and a queer person corrects the issue, I imagine it can feel very much like an attack. Especially when the criticism comes across with a tone of anger or frustration, I can see how easily an author might get their back up. Especially an author that considers themselves to be very much an ally. I can see why so many authors in this situation say things like, “I wish we wouldn’t react so strongly,” or “We have to work to educate, and not attack,” or “If we remain calm, and remember we all love and support each other here, it’ll go better,” or “Please don’t lump all us m/m authors in under one hat when one of us makes a mistake,” or… or… or…

And you know what? To a significant degree, that’s correct. It’s unfair. Let’s assume the person who made that mistake made the mistake once, and this is the first offence. It certainly feels harsh to have a few dozen queer voices pop up and say, “Woah. That’s hurtful/harmful, problematic, homophobic/transphobic/bi-erasure/acephobic, and dismissive/whatever.” I know it smarts. I’ve been on the receiving end of it in other ways.

Honestly, though? We react strongly because these are our lives. They are not fictions. We do work to educate, but it never ends, and it’s exhausting, and sometimes we’re human and our education feels like an attack. We’re sick of being told to remain calm. We’re not dismissing love and support—we’re clarifying when that love and support isn’t loving nor supportive. We want it to go better. And, truthfully? We’re not lumping all of anyone in together, and it’s really, really important for those on the receiving end of criticism not to use the “not all” response, which takes the discussion away from the queerfolk at hand and turns it into a discussion about the feelings of those who aren’t even making the mistake being discussed.

Our lives will give authors plot bunnies. But those stories can, and do, go on to represent and educate. When they’re misinformed, misrepresentative, and do harm, we’re going to point it out.

And sometimes we’ll be exhausted when we do it.

Gay people didn’t die for you to be quiet

Said quite well.

F.E.Feeley Jr

felix-russell-saw-113844

(Photo by Felix Russel-Saw)

The only way to stop ignorance is through education. But with all the education in the world, you can lead a fool to logic, but you can’t make them think.

There are those right now who are going to choose to remain ignorant because their ignorance supports their world view.

Case in point is the recent blow out in M/M romance.

For those of you who don’t know a female author pushed the idea that : I identify as a gay man. 

To which several of her followers responded in kind.

However, when gay men showed up to talk about this – their comments were deleted. They were called haters and one such supporter of the author even went so far as to say that the ‘haters’ should all be rounded up and exiled to die in the wilderness.

How Trumptastic of you. 

Anyway, following a…

View original post 349 more words

Sunday Shorts – “The One That I Want,” by A.M. Liebowitz

Every week, I take part in the #RWChat over on twitter. I often feel a bit like an interloper (what with being not just a guy, and not just a queer guy, but also a queer guy who only sometimes writes romance) but the questions are generally ones that cross all genres, and they’re generally quite thought-provoking. I also generally learn a few things, share some great discussions, and often I meet a few new authors.

Which is what happened last week.

Thanks to a tangent discussion about promoting other authors as a way to not feel like you’re constantly shouting about your own stuff into the void, I bumped into A.M. Liebowitz. I took a peek at their backlist, saw a queer short story/novellette length work, and, well, my Kobo and I had a nice night.


CoverWhen Al proposes to Chad, he has in mind a fairytale wedding with all the works. Chad’s not so sure it’s a good idea. Between the planner with her binders full of weddings, the myriad tasks, the short time frame, and Al’s meddling sister, Chad’s at risk of coming undone long before the big day. When his own fears bubble to the surface, he nearly breaks Al’s heart–and his own. They’ll need to work things out in time to be the stars of their own magical story.


This is a cute and fun little novella/short fiction piece that I believe takes characters from one of Liebowitz’s other works and gives you a “how they met” narrative (or at least, that’s what the dedication had me assuming). That said, it’s a complete story in and of itself, and certainly has a full romance arc to it of its own.

You get to see Al meet Chad at an unlikely place: Al’s sister has a kid performing alongside an orchestra, and despite Al not being at all inclined to the classical music sides of things, he has a good enough time, is proud of the kid, and can’t beat the view he’s got right in the seat next to him: Chad.

Al’s sister knows Chad, introduces him as an IT guy, and Chad mentions he’s got a season pass before the evening ends and they go their separate ways. Al decides the little spark might be worth checking out, and is correct, and after a really cute date or two, we move ahead to an offer of marriage and then the planning of a wedding.

It’s funny, but Liebowitz nailed a voice in Al that I had myself: if anyone asked, prior to marriage equality in Canada, I shrugged off needing a marriage in any way, shape, or form. It was a kind of sour grapes reaction: I can’t have it, so I don’t want it. There. Now you have nothing over me. But once the laws changed, I proposed almost immediately. Because I wanted the protections, the legality, and—yes—the symbology of what it meant to have the weight of the law behind the word “husband.”

So, Al wants the wedding to be a big gay fantasy, and Chad… is less sure. The reasons behind this, and how it nearly derails their relationship, are a gradual reveal that forms the crux of this narrative, and definitely felt organic and emotionally truthful. I liked these two, I liked that they got mad realistically and then talked things through just as realistically.

I’ll have to track down their other appearances.


A. M. Leibowitz is a spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. She keeps warm through he long, cold western New York winters by writing romantic plot twists and happy-for-now endings. She is the author of several published works, and her short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies. In between noveling and editing, she blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, and her family at amleibowitz.com.