Romantic Inclusivity

Now, I’ve said before that Romance is not a genre I’m well acquainted with. It mostly bores me and drives me up a wall.

To be fair I do watch good rom-coms like Imagine Me & You, But I’m a Cheerleader, For a Good Time Call …, Pretty Woman, etc.

But it isn’t something I read I’ve tried but I can’t get into it.

I realised today, thanks to @NeolithicSheep just what the problem I have is.

She decided to tweet-stream a book. And I mean zero criticism to the charming Comrade Shepherd herself; she’s merely a catalyst and her tweet-stream is quite entertaining … far more so than I find the story itself.

And I may have made a brief subtweet on the subject of today’s blogpost but there’s zero point linking to that because I’ll say the same thing here with LOTS more words.

In fairness to the authors of these stories, I do not have the faintest idea how monochromatic they are. For all I know the were-bears are Iroquois, and were-tigers are Nepalese, and … stuff. Which, I’m sure, Tumblr-folk (look, they haven’t settled on a new platform so the name can’t change yet) will complain “that’s so problematic!” but there’s a reason nobody takes the Tumblr crowd seriously: They’re the looking for reasons to be offended sort and I’ve no patience for that; won’t even argue with it, occasionally contemplate slapping the snot out of it but mostly I roll my eyes and move on, because there’s no discussion or debate with that sort. They’re basically the alt-left, the liberal-Nazi … you know, the opposition’s morons. But to return to my point, the cast may be if divers skin tone, accent, religion, and nationality 🤷‍♀️.

But, you know, despite my wife’s cruel sense of humour including reading about all these crazy subgenres of Romance she never hits a single lgbt+ example?!

Not among were-erotica romances, not among the 50 Shades knockoff garbage (I abhor 50 Shades as much or more than Twilight), none of it. The Romance shelves are barren of a Red Sonja-esque Fabia with a damsel draped in her arms. Of a Sean Connery kissing a Valentino. Of … gimme a break, Romance covers don’t get very creative.

I mean, if you’re diligent enough you will find a het-romance with a male POV character or a 3rd person that is either over his shoulder or includes his perspective in the omniscience. That bends the mould a little.

But where’s the shattering?!

I mean, literally – near as I could determine it after weeks (months?) of scouring both trad & self pub – Now & Forever is either first of its kind or damn-near-so as being gay fiction that’s happy. I wrote the Male POV Bodice Ripper of Gay Teen Romance (note: Both girls’ bodices remain intact in the only occasion any bodices are worn).

Now, I’m probably going to have were-things in Færie Patrol because why not. And they’re going to be anywhere on the gender spectrum and anywhere on the sexuality one as is my wont.

But where’s the cliché, formulaic nonsense about A Woman and a Were-Tigress? The Alpha-Bitch taming the New York Banker Man? The (oh gods, I can’t not go here) Were-Bear Bear Couple? (Sorry, not sorry) The Trans Marine Time-Traveller and The Viking Princess/Prince?

Nowhere to be seen! Even in the nightmarish dregs of Smashwords‘ strangest tags (not for the faint of heart, it’s safer to go have tea with a Lovecraftian Horror) I found nothing.

I’m sure it exists. Schrödinger’s Novella mandates it must; but then again, Law of Cliché Themodynamics may overrule and state that no one has actually tried to counter the cis-het momentum in any meaningful way! thus it actually does not yet exist! Which, of course is in keeping with Schrödinger’s Novella because quantum cheats by maintaining strict neutrality.

Why, my dears, must we all suffer at the hands of [Insert culturally stereotypically masculine animal] were-bro of muscles, machismo, misogyny, and let’s collectively vomit 🤮 now wins the vaginal canal (surely he wouldn’t know a clitoris if it bit him on the pecker … oh! An Akira twist! I love it!) of the Lovely Lady With Humdrum Life (or sometimes a bit Kardashianesque Life) which the author conflates with her heart and they all live abusively ever after, amen 🙏?!

I say bollox to all that. Go forth, my lovely minions! I say: Subvert, pervert, and anything else ending in -vert all the Romance Genres! Flood them with lesbians, Enbys, aces, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, drag queens, bears, and twinks, a veritable Pride Parade of queery awesomeness 🏳️‍🌈! Drape the cover models in rainbow flags! Have the Naga Queen with the mostly nude virgin in her clutches from behind have her hand upon yon maid’a crotch and breats the embrace rapturous rather than terrible!

Why? Because it’s getting boring around the genre. I used to boggle at the “plot” crap my wife would torment me with from this stuff and now I just shake my head and finish washing the dishes.

Let’s shake things up like the megaquakes that broke Pangea!

P.S. I proofread this twice. Any typos have earned the right to live via natural selection.

Nominate your favourite indie author(s)

I hope, maybe, some of you will nominate Love or Lust certainly I do hope that some indie author or other has put a book out in the past year that has inspired or impressed you enough to nominate he or she.  You can also, by the by, nominate multiple books/authors.

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The 50 Self-Published Novels Worth Reading (2013/14)

Nominations Now Open!!!

We need your help in putting together a list of some of the best self-published books from the past year. Read something great? Nominate it. Written something great? Urge a fan to nominate it.

The interest our list has already generated has been phenomenal; in the three days since we opened up nominations it has already become our most popular post ever. That’s great for our ego, but more importantly, it means that whichever books make the list will get the exposure they deserve.

The Rules

1. The book must be self-published or published by a small, “indie-minded” house.
2. The book must have been published on or after 1 January, 2013.
3. The book must be available for purchase, in paperback or ebook format, from a large store – Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
4. Only nominations received on or before 21 April, 2014 will be considered.

Haven’t read a self-published book yet? Here are some we think might be worth your consideration.

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Book 3 is going well!

At the very acute risk of jinxing myself I really have to say that Book 3 is proving loads of fun to write and is going smoothly and, relatively, quickly.  

I’m not far enough in to have a title yet; I’m not 100% sure what it’s about just yet, I’ll probably have that worked out around what will prove to be the half-way mark.

Still, if it manages to retain its smoothness and ease of writing I could actually see my way to putting it out late this year, then again I may just use the extra time for more editing passes and to get a head start on Now & Forever (what I’m currently thinking the final book’s title will be).

As with all so far this one is proving highly emotional and full of ups and downs for our lovely protagonists — and I’m only into chapter 3!  

A curiosity with this one is that, so far, the chapters have been quite shortish.  I don’t think a one will be more than 15 or 20 pages typed up; the longest is something like 11 pages written.  

In any event, keep an eye on your favourite way to keep track of me.  With anything like luck I won’t be posting any nervous breakdowns and emotional distress over the book in another couple of weeks and in a month’s time or so I’ll probably have a title and cover.

I know, I know, supposedly there’s meant to be a big deal with the whole “cover reveal” concept and making a big deal of it.  Don’t really know when/where/how that got started and don’t care.  It doesn’t interest me as a reader and doesn’t seem like a big deal as an author.  I’ll just post the cover once I’ve made it and let you all marvel at my lack of artistic skill.

 

“True art is angsty & inaccessible”

I desperately wish I could fathom just where this idea originates.

It is a remarkably pervasive idea, and to such an extent that things that were popular and contain no angst will frequently receive interpreted doses of the latter to make literary scholars feel better about enjoying them.  And obscurity is, somehow, a hallmark of awesomeness and brilliance; though this one I think they feel no need to bother over much with — odds are even that those literary scholars have read more about Gilgamesh than of it.  They remind me of Star Wars fandom … enough I oft wonder if there’s significant overlap.

Why, though, must art be tragedy and sorrow?  Drama, angst, etc.?  Why can art not, too, be sunshine and kittens, laughter and love, romance and spiritual awakening?

Why cannot literary brilliance be measured, in part, by lasting popularity?  Why must The Hobbit and Harry Potter be “guilty pleasures”?

Why is the only fiction, supposedly, worth reading ‘literary fiction’ (a pretentious name for any genre or work, I feel)?  Why does a story need to answer any question more than ‘what happens next?!’ or ‘will they live happily ever after?’ and so on?  It’s not ‘will the hero survive?’ it’s ‘how will the hero get out of this mess?’  Why does this lack literary merit as opposed to twenty pages of someone’s thoughts who is standing in line at a post office (not making it up, don’t remember the title)?

I propose a new definition of art and brilliance.  Angst and obscurity be damned!

Any fool with crayons, a pack of construction paper, and enough spare time can write a truly depressing work read by all of twenty-five people — twenty-two of whom share a skull with the author and at least one of whom is a plush horse or a rubber plant.

I hold that art should be, first and foremost, something that you put something of yourself into — I’m not sure if this works for painting and sculpture or not, so we’ll refine that to literary art, just to be safe.  That ought to be art; so by that, our madman’s crayoned insanity is still art, but the novelist version of Sven Bianchi from Questionable Content does not make art and probably doesn’t claim to.  Second, the brilliance should be measured by if it speaks to people and degree of brilliance should be:  Does it do so over and over?  If it instils a passion once, it its brilliant — Twilight or Interview With a Vampire, are both art and, to some extent must be brilliant to have sparked such reactions and readerships from people.  The Hobbit and Little Women do it, though, through hundreds of repeat readings for uncounted readers.  People come back to Mr Baggins rushing out the door without hat nor handkerchief, and relive the (mis)adventures of Jo and her sisters.  They are masterpieces.

There is, and ever has been, too much literature to say popularity alone speaks of brilliance.  Always some really amazing work lurks, largely, undiscovered.  Game of Thrones is a fair example.  It languished in veritable obscurity for nearly a decade.  Black Trillium is, I feel, another fine example.  With a, sadly, increasing tendency, the strange dreams of young Alice is not read — but for those who take the notion, they come ever back again to Wonderland.  Still, popularity and its perpetuity is a fine test.  No one disputes that old Bill Shakespeare is a literary legend … well, not anyone who wasn’t alive when his plays were new.  The poems of Lady Sappho must have been phenomenal — they are all of them lost yet, still, she is not forgotten.

Why must we make things so blasted cerebral to feel good about them?  Fun and beautiful should not be so shameful.  Perhaps ‘the masses’ know better what is good and will stand the test of time better than the literary elitist.

Few are liable to agree with me who are ‘serious writers’, but such is life.  I’ll read my Princess of Mars, they’ll read Pride and Prejudice; I’ll read Wizard of Oz and they can read The Yellow Wallpaper … to each her own.  After all, there’s no accounting for taste.

5 more stars!

For those suspicious I’ve made this up, you can see it for yourself at Amazon here and here.

It really is lovely to see things like this.  It’s very heartening to see when the characters evoke something within the reader like this.

I may have mentioned the one from October already — I suddenly can’t recall.  I know I’d meant to, so I’m mentioning it now to be sure.

The newest one is something that is very uplifting to an author.  Just as with my three star review, I’m very proud of this one — not because of the rating (though I can’t say I’m displeased with it ;)) but rather because it’s nice to know that one has created something that really jives with certain people’s lives and experiences.

And yes, I know the story is a little hard to believe.  That’s the point of fiction, though, it’s always a little hard to believe; I mean you have to swallow a lot of coincidences of one form or another — but then again, life is full of those coincidences.  It’s why people say truth is strange because fiction has to make sense; trouble is, the odds don’t normally work out so conveniently in regards of both good and bad, so the job of a writer is to balance the amazing coincidences with the day-to-day expectations to make them ignorable, or to play magician and keep distracting you from them by sufficient waving of wands and flashing of shiny things.

For those awaiting Ready or Not will be happy to know that it is, so far, still on track for release between Easter and June.  I know that’s a frustratingly vague range, but I promise to do all I can to have it somewhat more specific date by the end of January.

5.0 out of 5 stars None, October 29, 2013
This review is from: Love or Lust (Now & Forever) (Kindle Edition)

Wonderfull book. I could not but i down. I have read it twice now i love it so much. Hopefully the next one come out soon. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, December 8, 2013
By
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Love or Lust (Now & Forever) (Kindle Edition)

Great story even if it is a little hard to believe. This book really hit close to home while reading what “Pixie“ was going through. Just about every gay person goes through having those fears and freak out a as she did. I really hope their story does continue into another book. I know I’ll be watching for it.

Taboo

Oh what a subject.  And, no, I’m not here to talk about weird board games, either.

I was actually participating, not just browsing, today on the NaNoWriMo forums and incest was brought up.

Should it be incorporated into a tale?  Oh, dear me, I believe I’ve said all I can about an author asking “should”.

Still, that aside, it is an intriguing question.  Taboos aren’t like eye colour, and hair colour.  Should my character be blonde, should they be Asian, should they be Jewish.  While, perhaps, in other eras those questions can carry the same weight as incest, today it’s really unimportant.  Oh, but incest.  The ultimate sexual taboo, well it or bestiality anyway.

Incest.  Calls to mind scenes of brother raping sister.  Of father molesting daughter.  Of mother seduced by son.  Mostly, in today’s society, it is firmly in the public consciousness as a Bad Thing, so you say it and people do lean in the direction of rape and molestation, drugging, slavery, torture.  Even in the V C Andrews book my sister likes so much (no, I haven’t read it and I know it was a series and so am uncertain which title to reference, sorry) where the incest is treated far more consensually and even slightly more romantically … it’s in the face of abuse and isolation.  It’s not so bad, next to everything else going on in the characters’ lives – or so I gather from listening to her go on and on about it.  Even if I’m mistaken, it’s a good point and one someone has probably published.  QED.

Sex is a good question, in the end, when the characters will be deviating from expectations.  This, today, makes some people very squeamish.  People are unlikely to be neutral about a sexual taboo.  Take homosexuality.  Today, it’s fairly acceptable in the main stream.  Oh, certainly, you won’t get the bible thumping Southern Baptist next door to much appreciate your story (though, he may surprise you, it’s unwise to judge an individual on what they are), but in the broader scope of things people will shrug and move on.  Now, make your terrible perverted faggot a school teacher; well,now they’re someone who should be ashamed of themselves as should you for writing him!  Dear me, gay is okay, but don’t let them near the children!

Oh, dear me, the children, oh what a fun time that is.  “Oh, how sweet, little Johnny has a crush on Violet, the girl who sits next to him in Kindergarden”.  And “OH!  How romantic, they go to the prom together, they’re high school sweeties, they marry and have ten kids.”  Of course, this is how society ought to be!  That indisputable spark of True Love, the growing story of love and devotion – the opening montage of Pixar’s Up.  And, for the record, I agree.  Doesn’t have to be when you’re 5, but society could do with more thinking with hearts and less with stock portfolios and logic … where love is concerned, I mean, obviously we need far MORE thinking with our brains in many other regards.  Now, let’s make that little Johnny has a crush on little Timmy, or Violet is trying to steal a kiss from Talia.  Perversions!  My God, how could the writer do such a thing?!  That’s sick, that’s perverse, they can’t possibly be … oh what a different story it becomes from those people who’d just moments before been singing your praises.

People will ignore the narrative, the dialogue, every clue, every explanation, every characterisation, everything so that they can love or hate your for a sexual taboo.  Now, in honesty, they rarely do so to love you – partially since it’s safe to assume that some explanation is needed to actually give context to this taboo so that it might be made inoffensive; exceptions abound, there are going to be some who will just go “right on!  lesbians!” or “the author is so brave to explore incest”, but not as many.  The opposite, though.  When it comes to that which will offend them, though, people will not see that which might take away the offence.  I love to take Heinlein’s work for examples of this.  He toyed with taboo, society, norms, mores, morals, ethics, and values.  Stranger in a Strange Land, Time Enough for Loveand others.  They ask hard questions about our selves, our societies, our beliefs.  Thick books, long books, lots of very profound prose and entertaining at that; still all some people walk away with is “eww, OMG they ate part of that guy after he died!” “WTF?!  Lazarus just had sex with his mother, Heinlein is a very sick man.”  Oh, sure, taken out of context, these do seem pretty bad – hence what I said about few loving you for the taboo.  In context though, it all makes sense, it all comes together.  You understand the reasoning, the thoughts … maybe you don’t agree with it, no one said you did, that’s not the point of writing, the point is, if the author does her job correctly you have all the data necessary to understand. Your opinions will forever and always be yours to keep and have, but the narrative opens the door to comprehension.

In my opinion, taboos are fun.  I like them.  It’s, I think, why I love to read SF.  I love the way that some of the greatest talents in fantasy and science fiction hold up mirrors and lenses to what we hold to be normal.  The way the run you through a funhouse of cultures and societies, of normals and taboos that are like unto our own, except when they’re not.  Like the mirrors that make you short, or tall, fat or thin, or the trick one that makes you a gorilla … Elves, and aliens, fairies and space pirates, they challenge us to reconsider our opinions, ideas, beliefs, faith, and thoughts.  Some become reinforced, some are shaken, some are shattered, but with the shaking and shattering, even with the reinforcing, that self examination and self-exploration broadens and strengthens us, because there is usually (at least in the stuff I like) a new selection of thoughts, beliefs, faiths, dreams, and opinions to take and make your own, to shape and consider and adopt to fill the void.

In the end, and in all honesty, I thought it might be nice to write a good ol’ sweet, light hearted boy-meets girl, except that’s so been done I wanted to put a twist, so it becomes girl-meets-girl.  Harmless, yes?  No.  now it’s a taboo.  Sure, not a big one.  But … I wanted to write for teens, young men and women, adolescents, perhaps the young ones just entering puberty.  The ones whose bodies have or are beginning to shift gears and open their eyes to a whole new package of wiring and experience that had been hidden away the decade leading up to this point.  Boy, that sounds twisted and perverse, doesn’t it?  I’m just saying, the ones who want to read something more emotional and complex than the latest misadventure of Amelia Bedelia.  When I was eight through ten, many both male and female took up watching Beverly Hills, 90210 and reading Sweet Valley.  They were curious about romances, sex, love, dating, etc.  That’s all I meant.  When you introduce a minor taboo to “children”, and I use quotations because they’re not so much any more at this point, the gears have shifted and they’re accelerating to adulthood, you open a can of worms where people panic and become defensive.  Little Suzy is just too young to know about that.  Worse, I made the characters, themselves, young adolescents.  Now I’ve not only become a dangerous person, but one who is a corruptive influence as now these impressionable children who can’t possibly think for themselves, and know their own bodies, hearts, heads, and passions, Lord Jesus, no, of course not, why they’re only reproductively capable now, they can’t possibly have the slightest idea what sex even is!  Let’s not be silly here.

No, no one has much taken that approach with my work, thankfully, I’m honestly not sure how I would or even ought to react to such a thing.  I’ve seen it though.  I’m sadly only adding a bit of snark to arguments I’ve seen or heard before regarding other works that parallel mine in regards to those particular themes and elements.  Are You There, God?  It’s me, Margaret., Harriet the Spy, and Harry Potter … no, not homosexuality, not sexuality in “children”, but the fact that they paint children and “children” being exactly what they are and ever have been, sometimes with the fun twists of fiction — Harry’s wizardry, for example, but it’s taboo that Margaret should be having anything whatsoever to say about sex, masturbation, and faith – it might be interestingly controversial, if the book weren’t meant to be read by children Margaret’s own age, but rather as a philosophical exploration for adult readers, but give that same exploration to those of an age to be going through that very exploration!?  God, no.  Harry’s wizardry, and Hermione’s witchcraft does bother some, yes, but besides that there’s the fact that the children, through formation of their own opinions and thoughts, challenge some authority and respect others … doesn’t Ms Rowling know that, if she’s going to be writing these books for children, then the children in them ought to do everything someone older than them saws, just because they’re the teacher, adult, etc.?!  Good God, authority should never be challenged, questioned, or ignored, let’s not be absurd, wherever might our society be today if people went around doing such things?  Cute how Harry and Harriet both have the same criticisms, I didn’t choose the two for that reason, but I may consider pretending I did, since it looks bloody brilliant.

Taboos, really are great.  They force both the author and the reader to think.  Some resist, some go with it.  Some are changed by it, some don’t bother to keep thinking for longer than needed to get through the chapter.  Still … I guarantee people will definitely talk, you may not like what some of them say, but you’ll have ’em talking.

And so much for iBooks …

The free Labour Day sale of Love or Lust isn’t quite going according to plan, it would seem.

Kindle, I expected trouble there; it’s a known and widely discussed thing that they’re difficult to get the price knocked down to free with.

Nook, that was unexpected, but not exactly surprising.

IBooks … in all fairness, it is possible to cut the price to free here.  The trouble with this is either a) I’ve finally encountered an Apple product that’s unintuitive or b) the function for setting up the sale is glitched.  Regardless, I’ve been unable to mark down the book for the weekend there either.

3 of 6 is an annoying ratio.

In any event you’re still good for Smashwords, DriveThru, and Kobo.

Status update

Well, I’m still in queue for my editor’s attention on Ready or Not.  The final two chapters I’m waiting for input from her before I start rewriting, because I’m not sure if I ought to totally throw them out or just parts.

Færie Patrol is still waiting for me to finish with Now & Forever.  At least, for the time being.  It’d be one thing if I paused the latter to work on the former, but in this case I’m not stuck because of burnout or brain freeze, I’m stuck simply because I need a clean ending to book 2 before I can really get book 3 kicked off properly.

Book 3 has no name yet, but it has a concept.  I know what’s going to be happening in it.  It, like Love or Lust, and unlike Ready or Not will have a more of an actual A plot throughout.  I’ll have a page for it with a proper blurb once I’ve thought of a properly witty title for it.

Love or Lust continues to sell.  No longer at the spectacular numbers of July — sadly — but selling.  At no point was it threatening to pay all my bills so I could quit my day job, but Christmas is pretty fair covered.  Thank you, everyone, again, for all the support.  Those of you still waiting to buy it, I understand — I’ve been there; in this economy one must prioritise one’s new novel allowance.  That said, maybe I should buy a few print copies and seed them to local used bookstores … one mustn’t prioritise one’s used book allowance — that’s a perfectly preposterous notion 😉

Still room in the next edition

I know a lot of you following this blog are authors, and virtually all of you who are authors are of the indie sort.

We all know exposure is hard to come by.  Our books can’t sell if no one knows they exist!  So, we need rooftops to shout from, metaphorical as well as physical.

Indie Book Buffet‘s second edition isn’t full yet.  This magical link will whisk you away on ethereal winds to the form where you submit your title to them.

It’s free, the people who run the eZine are very friendly and wonderful.  It’s win-win.  Even better?  It can only work better.  I was in the first issue, yet there clearly were people who read the zine, the give-away I was part of had its 5 winners (all of whom got a free copy of Love or Lust from DriveThruFiction).

So!  Go on, check it out, you know you want to.

Now what?

Well, the Now & Forever ABCs are done.  Now what do I do?

First off, probably not have anything daily to say anymore.  I’ll probably cut back to something a couple times a week.  I can’t promise I’ll have anything regularly, but I will try to.  I’m, in fact, considering a rule of one post a week, and if I wind up with two or three then queuing them up to guarantee a post for the next week.  Reblogs, of course, don’t count.

Also on my list of ways to give myself Hell, I’ve finished the first edit run of Ready or Not and … well … I’m happy with it up to the final two chapters, the ones I wrote for CampNanoWriMo.  Those are awful, I think.  I’ve left them in, for now, and handed the thing over to my editor for her opinion, but odds are that those two chapters will need scrapped and a new ending written.  Until this is complete, Book 3 is still “Book 3” and still non-existent.

Færie Patrol is still a dream project.  But I might dust it off and get back to it, maybe give myself a short vacation from Now & Forever for a little bit.  Who knows.

In the mean time, Love or Lust continues to sell — not as well as it did in July, but it’s selling.  I really must say, thank you all who’ve bought the book and/or told your friends and family that they ought to buy the book.  And thank you to any who buy the book in the future.  Publishing a book by any method, traditional or indie, is a gamble; anyone who tells you they’ve the secret to what book will sell, and/or how to make sure a book sells probably will next offer you ocean-front property in Niger.  That my book spend a couple of weeks on a best seller list, was a Hot New Release on Amazon for its entire eligibility timeframe … I’m awed.  I hope, one day, to make writing my living — without the distractions of a day job I can write more, faster, and better, and this is a solider first step in that direction than I’d dared to hope.  I’m in no danger of paying the rent every month with my book, but some months — it would seem — I can.