Writing Wednesday – The Super Secret Awesome Thing Revealed

It’s snowing again, and it snowed a lot last week and I don’t even want to think about Drumpf, but I have a good news thing, so I’m going to talk about the good news thing and ignore the snow and the Drumpf.

The good thing? This.

three_300dpiBefore anything else, can we just say “Yum?” Because Yum. Yowza.

Okay, what that is right there is “Three.” “Three,” some of you lovely readers may recall, is the short story that introduced Luc, Anders, and Curtis, the three fellows that make up the Triad in my releasing-in-May novel Triad Blood. “Three” originally appeared in Blood Sacraments, a collection of Gay Vampire Erotica edited by Todd Gregory for Bold Strokes Books.

That’s Luc on the cover, by the way. Hello, Luc.

Here’s the blurb: With three nights to satiate his blood thirst, Luc can’t waste time with rival demon Anders, but when both pick a strangely resistant prey, success requires the unthinkable: working together.

I had an idea that it might be neat to give anyone who preordered a copy of Triad Blood a free e-copy of “Three,” if that was something Bold Strokes Books could do, and I pitched it to them, and instead of that, the awesome publishing machine that is Bold Strokes Books did me about a dozen times better. Anyone who buys any e-book from Bold Strokes Books in the entire month of May will receive “Three” for free.

I cannot tell you how freaking happy this makes me. I love my BSB peeps so freaking much.

Even better, it looks like this will be a revisited marketing tool – the following month, you’ll be able to get Sandy Lowe‘s “Party Games” the same way.

But Wait, There’s More!

It’s not just Bold Strokes Books with the good news.

Lethe SaleLethe Press is celebrating its fifteenth birthday (in some states I think that means you can finally marry it) and to celebrate all the e-books, for the entirety of March, are $1.50 each (with a minimum purchase of three: that’s $4.50 for three awesome ebooks).

You totally need to take advantage of this. And, because I feel no shame in pointing out anthologies in which I have a story because that supports the editors and other authors as much as it supports me, I shall make list said anthologies below, in case you wished to stock up on those awesome books in which yours truly has a wee story despite the book being so awesome.

“Vanilla” appears in Threesome: Him, Him, and Me, edited by Matthew Bright; “A Slice of Pi” appears in The Biggest Lover, edited by R. Jackson; “Wind and Tree” appears in Tales from the Den, edited by R. Jackson; “Time and Tide” appears in The Touch of the Sea, edited by Steve Berman; “The Psychometry of Snow” appears in Bears of Winter, edited by Jerry L. Wheeler; and “Aiming to Please” appears in Tented, edited by Jerry L. Wheeler.

I didn’t turn those into links, because the deal is added to the cart from the home page (the link you’ll see if you click “Lethe Press” above), and you need to list the titles and formats you’re looking for. The instructions are all there.

Oh, And One More Thing!

I know, I know, I go on and on today, right?

I’ve got a “save-the-date” for the launch of Triad Blood now. It will be at After Stonewall, here in Ottawa, on Thursday the 12th of May. More details as they become available, but that’s the evening in question. If you went to my launch for Light, and you have any feedback, please, please say so. I’m a big boy, and I can take constructive criticism.

But I should point out I probably can’t arrange another collapsing audience member. I think I can’t repeat that particular incident, regardless of how exciting it was.

The Novel(s)

Triad Blood coverHello March!

So, new month, new goal. By the end of the month, I want to be at least 30k into Triad Soul. I’m on track, and I’m loving being on track, but I know I’ve got some away time this month, so I need to be diligent.


Noise-making set up so far includes a blog entry for the release at QSF, the awesomeness that is “Three,” the BSB blog date (I need to write the darn blog, but at least my spot is booked), and the launch date is set.

Obviously, I’ve got more to put together, but I’m happy I’ve at least begun the process. Fingers crossed I can keep up the momentum as well as work on everything else at the same time. Woo-woo! All aboard…

The Short Stuff

I missed the last day of February for submitting something that month, so I’ll double-up this month and call it even. It happens, and I’m not going to beat myself up over it. The last couple of days of February just hit me with a whammy or two, and that’s okay.

The Q&As are still going strong, and the Matthew Bright one this last weekend was the most successful yet in terms of traffic and readership. I like this project, and I’m glad I took it on and left it to “one a week.” I’d originally thought about two or three authors a Sunday, but no. This is better.

Open Calls I Know About (and find tempting)…

  • Transcendent – Short, speculative fiction published in 2015 (ie: reprints) that features transgender characters, Lethe Press, Deadline: March 31st, 2016.
  • The Alice Munro Short Story Contest – Short fiction, entry price, Deadline: April 1st, 2016.
  • Gents: Steamy Tales from the Age of Steam – Gay male erotica set during the Victorian/Edwardian era, Deadline: May 1st, 2016.
  • Survivor – SF/F anthology looking for stories of everyday trauma survival, Lethe Press, Deadline: May 1st, 2016.
  • Magic and Mayhem – Mage/cyborg or tattoo artist/soldier stories (very specific, but it’s for a charity anthology, details at the link), Gay Romance Northwest, Deadline: March 31st, 2016.
  • Novella Call – The Book Smugglers, Deadline: May 30th, 2016.
  • Animal Magnetism – Tales of men drawn together over their love of animals, JMS Books, Deadline: July 31st, 2016.
  • A Scandal in Gomorrah: Queering Sherlock Holmes – Queering the canon or something more transformational, Lethe Press, Deadline: January 1, 2017.

Don’t forget to check the Lambda Literary site for more calls, as well as the Queer Sci-Fi calls for submission page (always a trove!)


Sunday Shorts – “The Biggest Lover” Q&A with R. Jackson

Biggest LoverAnthologies don’t always get a lot of noise, and one of the things I try to do here with my Sunday Shorts series is point out some awesome anthologies that are out and about (or about to launch) by speaking with the editors and authors of collections. Quite a few authors and editors agreed to chat with me about anthologies hitting the shelves in the next few months—so many, in fact, that I have enough people to carry these Sunday chats all the way through to next June, which is kind of awesome.

Today starts the first of these anthologies I’ll be showcasing, The Biggest Lover, an upcoming anthology from Bear Bones Books, and I’m chatting with R. Jackson. What’s The Biggest Lover?

We have all heard the term Rubenesque as a compliment for plus-sized women. The baroque painter Sir Peter Paul Rubens was fond of painting women of the day that were curvaceous and full-figured. The men in his art were not. What is the comparable term for men? Because not every gay man is obsessed with twinks who list the number of visible rib bones on their Grindr profile. Or men who can remember the number of reps at the gym but not their phone number. Some of us appreciate buying in bulk and that includes looking for love. Or just plain sex. Thank goodness for Bear culture which embraces girth. During Bear Week in Provincetown the stores do not even bother to sell clothes smaller than an XL and a man’s virility is often like the potency of moonshine: the more Xs on the jug the better, so XXXL is a chub in high demand.

It has taken too long for an erotica anthology to feature such men. As Girth & Mirth founding father Reed Wilgoren stated, “Just as people are coming out every day—men and women realizing their sexuality—new Bears and new Chubbies and new chasers are also evolving in the world. There have to be people waiting to embrace them and show them the way, much as who helped me to become what I am and who I am today.” It is our hope that readers who felt denied of attention and affection will read these stories and realize that love has no weight limit, no threshold, and neither should self-esteem.

NB: Welcome! I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: you’re a force of nature for bi-visibility and bear culture. When I first saw the call for The Biggest Lover, I realized that I hadn’t actually seen a collection like it before. On reflection, I wasn’t surprised I hadn’t; you talk about that a bit in the introduction, how the focus in gay erotica is so much more often on the slender twink or the uber-fit (and don’t even get me started on the lack of chest hair). Obviously, there’s an overlap with bear culture here, but where did the spark for The Biggest Lover come from?

RJThank you for inviting me to this interview, ‘Nathan! Thanks also for your excellent story in the collection, and for your kind words about my work.

I started thinking seriously about editing a collection of chub-and-chaser erotica at least five years ago. As I pointed out in my 2001 interview with Girth & Mirth founder Reed Wilgoren in Bears on Bears, bear clubs are really an offshoot of the earlier big gay/bi men’s clubs (as well as queer motorcycle/leather clubs) that were formed at least a decade earlier. I kept thinking someone would do an anthology on this theme years ago, but nobody must have thought it a worthwhile or lucrative project.

Often an idea for an anthology theme take years to germinate, during which I talk with my readers, my publisher, my husbear, and bear and writer friends. I research scholastic and marketing considerations to determine the prospective readership, and contemplate what story themes and contributors would be fun to include. Sometimes I consult the tarot and my Magic 8-Ball, and pray to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, art, music, and learning. In my meditation on the subject I ask myself, Is this a topic that is overlooked and underexposed?  Does it have potential to reach many underserved readers? Is it a book that nobody else has done? Is this a book that I’m qualified to put together? If the answers and omens are clearly positive and the stars and planets are in the auspicious positions, then I’ll obtain a contract and issue a call for submissions. After that, it’s a matter of waiting to see what comes in, and deciding what fits my target word count.

NB: I had a blast writing my story in no small part due to being able to include both a bigger man and a chaser with the knowledge their depiction wasn’t going to come back with edits making them more “traditionally sexier” (whatever that might mean). I remember one piece I wrote, quite a few years back, where the editor wanted to cut out arm hair references, struck out a line or two about laugh lines, and asked me if I’d consider dropping the age of one of the characters below the forty mark so the two characters would be within a decade of each other in age. I’m curious: did having The Biggest Lover‘s atypical theme for erotica also translate to any other welcome surprises where the authors explored something you weren’t expecting?

RJI’m so delighted to have your story “A Slice of Pi” in The Biggest Lover, your third Bear Bones Books anthology. Obviously I liked it enough to place it at the end, thus giving you the last word in the story series. Anthologies are a fun way to gather a lot of ideas and authors together and form a small sort of community and a dialogue that transcends geographic and demographic boundaries. Stories came in from all over North America and the U.K., from male, female, and trans* authors, including a diverse handful of stories by bears of color. Welcome surprises? I expect every story that is submitted to be a welcome surprise in some manner. It should do something different, even if it doesn’t necessarily succeed, something more than A meets B and they meet C and then they all do XYZ. A good erotic story should grab me by the balls and not let go.

NB: Canada Post hasn’t delivered my copy yet, so I’m salivating at the chance to read it. Okay, question number three is a boomerang question from my discussion with Tom Cardamone that I’m going to revisit with all the editors. He brought up how in collections, the author (or editor, in an anthology) have to select and order the tales, and how it’s such an important part of the process, but we rarely hear anyone talk about it. Also, Publisher’s Weekly mentioned that the stories in The Biggest Lover cover a lot of genres, which definitely intrigues. How did you approach the selecting and ordering of the tales in The Biggest Lover?

RJ: This is my eleventh anthology, so there’s not much I haven’t dealt with before. My greatest fear is the dread that not enough great unique stories for a book will be submitted.

As I researched what was in print in fat gay lit, I discovered this gendered lacuna of men as writers and as subjects. Same situation with my earlier books on bisexuality: most of the fiction, nonfiction, and academic writing available had been by bi women. 

So I put out a private call for submissions to a few dozen writers I’ve worked with before. Some of my regulars are incredibly dependable, so that’s nice, to have a stable of writers to call upon.

I didn’t want it to be too much the same styles as my other bearotic anthologies. Men’s chuberotica is really a new literary topic but some writers are so versatile they can handle any topic thrown their way. 

Yet it’s important and necessary to include at least half new/er writers, because you have to keep it fresh for your regular readers and you have to support and develop young/er writing talent.

In shopping the idea around to some of my regular erotica contributors I saw how enthusiastic some became. I was at lunch at a writers’ conference with authors William Holden and Dale Chase when I tossed the idea out. Bill said immediately, “I know exactly what I’ll write about!” That evening, they told me they’d already been plotting out their stories together. By the next morning, Bill reported that he had already sketched out his piece. Nothing like the feeling when your idea for an anthology theme sparks a talented writer and you watch their story ignite.

As far as nays, I avoided anything body shaming and fatphobic, intense descriptions of feeding, unsafe sex, and sex with minors. Positively, I embraced stories of chuberotic romance that turns our preconceived notions of fatness into affirmative sexual feelings.

Certainly now, romance and erotica seem relatively easy for me to judge: a story has be literate, of course, but it also has to tug at my heartstrings to be romantic and to make my pants tighten if it’s erotic. The latter aspect is usually quite easy for me to judge if a story is working!

When I’ve collected enough solid stories, first I decide which are the strongest pieces to start and end the book. Then it’s just a matter of shuffling the rest around to vary length, tone, subject, and genre, until I get the right mix. I do try to curate the reader’s experience so that each story in progression is the next perfectly unexpected tale.

NB: Well I for one can’t wait. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

You can get your copy of The Biggest Lover directly from Bear Bones Books (an imprint of Lethe Press) here, or—as always—check out Indiebound for your closest local brick-and-mortar, or look wherever quality LGBT books are sold.

RonRon Suresha is a Lambda Literary Award finalist for his anthologies, Bi Men: Coming out (2006) and Bisexual Perspectives on the Life and Work of Alfred C. Kinsey (2010).
His most recent book, coauthored with Scott McGillivray, is Fur: The Love of Hair, from German publisher Bruno Gmünder. He also authored a collection of Turkish folk Tales, The Uncommon Sense of the Immortal Mullah Nasruddin, , which was named a Storytelling World Honor Book. Suresha self-published his first book, Mugs o’ Joy: Delicious Hot Drinks, when he was 39. In 2002, he authored his first trade softcover, the nonfiction Bears on Bears: Interviews & Discussions. Under the name R. Jackson, he has edited the anthologies Bi Guys: The deliciousness of his sex (also a “Lammy” finalist), Bearotica, Bear Lust, Bears in the Wild, and Tales from the Den, published by Bear Bones Books, a Lethe imprint for which he serves as Acquisitions Editor. He also solo hosts and produces an occasional podcast for the adult men’s Bear community, Bear Soup, which runs on BearRadio.net Monday & Wednesdays 10pm Eastern / Pacific.

You can find him online at RonSuresha.com.