Tag Archives: gay romance

LABYRINTHIAN giveaway – ebook and trade paperback!

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OKAY SO

I love giving shit away. Let’s give some shit away

Between now and February 10, you can enter to win one of three copies of the Labyrinthian trade paperback over here. WHICH IS AWESOME

BUT I’M NOT DONE

Between now and February 10 you can ALSO enter to win one of three copies of the ebook in your choice of format right HERE:

And of course I won’t spam you unless you want me to and even then it’ll just be pictures of my cats. And if I sell your info to anyone else it’ll just be my cats, and they won’t do anything with it because they’re cats.

FREE BOOKS YAY

LABYRINTHIAN: here is a FAQ

I HAVE A BOOK COMING OUT ON THE 20TH

14794919024_73b09979e4_cI haven’t been talking about it as much as I would prefer for reasons of workload, but I figure it might be good to post some info on it given that it’s like ten days away. It’s a book I’m really proud of. There are some things you may wish to know about it, so here are some answers to some questions you may have. You’re welcome.

  1. Q: What the hell is it? A: It’s a book. It’s a book about mythic science fiction and spaceships and bounty hunters and shooting and more spaceships and genetically engineered supersoldiers with anxiety about social situations and family-related angst and the bounty hunter who might eventually figure out how he feels about him. It’s about facing death gracefully and the long journey toward self-acceptance. It’s about faith and confronting the loss of it. It’s about learning to love someone. There are more spaceships also. And dudes making out.
  2. Q: When is it out? A: I told you. The 20th. Pay attention.
  3. Q: Okay, don’t get snippy. What formats? A: Ebook in all the flavors of the rainbow and trade paperback both.
  4. Q: Can I preorder it? A: FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK also if you do you get a nifty discount
  5. Q: Are you going to be giving away any copies? A: Yep! Two copies of the paperback via Goodreads, starting tomorrow. Concurrently I’ll be giving away three copies of the ebook via my site. I’ll post the link when it’s up.
  6. Q: How long did it take you to write it? A: A month. It was extraordinarily fast for me. Ironically I started it in mid-October and finished in the middle of November so it would have counted as winning NaNoWriMo if I had just timed it right.
  7. Q: Is it good? A: I like to think so.
  8. Q: Is there sex in it? A: Quite a lot.
  9. Q: Is there plot? A: Quite a lot.
  10. Q: Are there feelings? A: A tremendous amount.
  11. Q: Is it actually romance? A: I’d say absolutely so, though it’s romance with the SFnal parts equally important and deeply interwoven. It does not work at all without the science fiction. I hate genre finickiness but if that’s a thing you wonder about there’s the answer.
  12. Q: I notice it’s in the same universe as this other Line and Orbit book. Do I need to read that too in order to get what’s going on? A: Nope. This is fully a standalone. That said, reading Line and Orbit will give you a heftier dose of worldbuilding and probably allow you to get a little more out of it. Also I like when people buy my books. Buy my books.
  13. Q: I love you and I want you to have money. Where will buying it give you the most money? A: Buying it anywhere at all is awesome but if you want me to have slightly more money buy directly from Samhain. I get a higher royalty rate there.
  14. Q: Will you sign my copy? A: If you track me down in meatspace, sure.
  15. Q: Will you be my friend? A: I will be your bestest best friend.

I think I’ve covered everything. But shoot me a line if I haven’t addressed your question here.

LABYRINTHIAN STUFF (omg)

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I’ve been completely neglecting this book because a lot of other projects have been heating up – some of them super-secret as yet but I can’t wait to talk about them so STAY TUNED – but there’s news about my big gay mythic-SF novel: IT IS NOW UP FOR PREORDER ON SAMHAIN’S SITE.

And here’s the other thing that’s really cool about that.

When Line and Orbit was released, there was a year’s gap between the ebook and the paperback. As of the new year, Samhain is no longer doing that, so you’ll be able to buy the trade paperback at the same time as the ebook.

Which is good because I know a lot of people still prefer print. SO YOU CAN GET THAT.

Big gay mythic-SF novels make excellent last-minute seasonal presents. Just sayin’.

If you’re a straight cisgender woman writing m/m romance, sorry, you are not striking a blow for equality

Stahp

[Dear people reading this in the Year of Our Lord 2017: I don’t know where you’re all coming from, or why you’re coming here now, but I wrote this literally years ago and don’t give a shit anymore, so please be aware that when you feel the need to register your disagreement with me, all you’re doing is clogging up my inbox with opinions I don’t care about regarding a thing I don’t care about. Which annoys me. Given that, I’m locking the comments. Thanks and enjoy your stay.]

Just to get my argument clear in the headline.

A lot of things have prompted this, and nothing in particular has. The truth is that this is something I’ve been feeling for a while. It’s something I’ve wrestled with a bit, given that two of the novels and two of the novellas I’ve sold have been marketed as m/m romance, though I’m not cisgender, nor am I straight. It’s something I’ve gotten shades of since I started really being aware of m/m romance as a genre, and since I started understanding the uglier side of it, it’s something I’ve come to understand features heavily in a lot of parts of the slashy areas of fandom. In fact, if something in particular prompted this little tantrum – aside from some very self-congratulatory stuff I’ve seen recently about standard m/m romance doing exactly what I said it isn’t doing up there in the headline –  it’s a good recent piece by Jim Hines about the times when something just isn’t your thing to make a story out of.

So when a reader says they don’t want white people writing about their culture, and that they don’t want me specifically to do so, I find myself struggling. And I think it’s good for me to struggle with it. I refuse to write books where I pretend other cultures don’t exist. But I also recognize that there are stories I’m simply not qualified to write well, that no matter how respectful I might try to be, my story wouldn’t be true. (An odd thing to say about fiction, but I hope you understand what I mean.) And I know that sometimes I’m going to screw up.

Here’s something you have to do if you’re in a position of privilege and you’re writing about people who aren’t: ask yourself if it’s your story to tell. Ask yourself every single time. You may not arrive at an easy answer. You may not arrive at an answer at all. But storytelling is very fucking political, and you owe it to you, your story, your characters, and everyone who might ever read it to ask the question.

You may want to tell the story. No one can stop you from telling the story. But at least be honest with yourself about what you’re doing and why. And I cannot escape the feeling – not least while so many publishers of “LGBT” romance almost entirely ignore the L, the T, and frequently shove the B into the whole “menage” category – that the reasons why a lot of m/m romance exists are not tasteful.  To borrow from Hannibal/Thomas Harris, they are not tasty.

Then I found this.

Amy began by saying that “love is redemptive” and if any group needs the redemptive qualities of love, it’s gay men.

are you seriously

Writing about two men falling in love is completely different than the traditional romance. For one thing, both characters are equals, each with his own power.

are you seriously

“In fact, in many ways, I feel like a man,” Josephine stated in her British accent. This realization makes it easier for her to bypass all the traditional tropes found in mainstream romances.

“I’m tired of women’s nasty, mean games, and don’t want to write about them,” Amy added. Backbiting and undermining of friends’ goals and aspirations aren’t often found in gay romance since men are more direct in their interactions.

oh my god

Mary echoed this thought by saying, “I don’t want to write about bitchy women.”

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I should be clear that I don’t know what the sexual orientations or gender identities of these people are. But just. Meoskop at Love in the Margins has a way more coherent takedown of this abomination and I recommend you read it. Regardless, I’ve seen this before, I see it a lot, and it’s this attitude that actually keeps me away from most m/m romance. I write it sometimes, sure. But for the most part I don’t wanna read it.

Look, I know about all the arguments that transformative works – out of which a lot of this springs – allow for queer readings/reimaginings of existing canon and that’s great. I buy that argument, because what I’m buying into is the possibility of it. But in practice, no, and that extends to m/m romance in general. In practice what we have is a tremendous amount of stroke material featuring white cisgender traditionally attractive mostly able-bodied gay men, written by and for the consumption of straight cisgender women. And you can’t claim to me that this is all striking a blow for queer equality and have me take you seriously.

“Redeeming” gay romantic relationships is patronizing. Focusing on cisgender male erotic relationships to the exclusion of other queer identities because you find that stuff hot is erasure. Reducing the significance of characters to gender and sexuality – especially in the interest of depicting erotic sexual activity – is fetishizing. I’m not the first person to say this, but now I’m gonna be another one. And sure, you can do the whole #NOTALLGAYROMANCE thing and you’d be technically correct, but when one of the largest m/m romance review sites clutches their collective pearls over any depiction of sexual activity that isn’t entirely cisgender male dudes with other cisgender male dudes, that’s at once gross and majorly indicative of some deep problems that have direct connections to not only ugly misogyny but to some very toxic homophobia:

The reduction of complex human identities to sex acts is essentializing. It’s dehumanizing. I’m guessing that most of us have heard someone at some point say something like “I have nothing against those gays. I just don’t want them flaunting it or anything.” Which really means I want them invisible. I don’t want to have to confront the fact that they exist because they threaten me.

I get that a lot of us like some porn, and I get that sometimes we just want our porn and we want to not have to perform sociocultural analysis of it before we make use of it. But that’s why I said what I said above. Write what you want. Read what you want. Just please, please be honest with yourself about what you’re doing.

And don’t you dare claim that you’re doing something progressive on behalf of populations to which you don’t belong. Because you aren’t. It’s not your progress to make. And I’m getting really tired of seeing straight cisgender women congratulate themselves for it.

[ETA] Read Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward. I mean, pretty much every writer should.

LABYRINTHIAN cover art. At last.

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Why yes, that does look more than a little bit like Sufjan Stevens. Let’s all take a second to enjoy that.

Here, this might help.

Sisyphus “Take Me” (NSFW) from Ryan Dickie on Vimeo.

Expect a lot more yelling and flailing soon.

On writing (cisgender male) gay romance and Strong Female Characters

image by Jason Chan

image by Jason Chan

I just got the novel edits for Labyrinthian (my tropey gay retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur IN SPAAAAACE), which is a tad overwhelming – there is much work to be done, though most of it is cosmetic – but also exciting, because I love this book and I’m looking forward to getting it in tip-top shape for its release this coming January. My editor is a lovely person and graciously takes the time to make sure I know what she really likes – which always feels good – and she mentioned that she appreciated how many of the women in Labyrinthian are in positions of power and protection. That was very conscious on my part, because I try very hard to make my stuff rich in terms of diversity and positive representation, but it reminded me of a dilemma I ran into more than once while I was writing the book itself. It’s an interesting one, and it’s one I’ve had to deal with before. I suppose a lot of people who write this kind of gay romance have done so.

My two protagonists/kissy-face participants, Taur and Theseus, are cisgender men. The story is – at least in significant part – the story of their relationship, so they’re both very much the center of the book, and they are the only POV characters. Which means that Labyrinthian, simply by virtue of what it’s about, is going to be very male-focused. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing all of the time, but looking at the structure of my book and the characters in it, I realized that – given how much I care about making my SF diverse and also feminist – I needed to make sure they weren’t the only ones getting significant screen-time, and that they weren’t the only characters with depth.

So I made a lot of my other characters women. Most of my other major secondary characters are women. Phae, Theseus’s ex, is a queer woman of color. And yes, these women are physically strong, self-reliant, smart, competent, sexually independent. Yet all of those things have been used by writers to argue for their work being feminist, leading to the trope of the Strong Female Character.

And the problem with the Strong Female Character is that she’s a cardboard cut-out. She’s there to do a thing, not be a person with all the strengths and weaknessness and complexities that a person has. She might be able to beat you up, but odds are she won’t hold your interest. And in her way, she’s just as sexist a construct as the fainting flower who exists purely to be rescued by the dudely hero. She’s still there to be a Female Character, not a character who’s female.

What makes a strong character? It’s not physical strength. It’s not even necessarily attractive attributes. Consider, oh, 90% of the characters in A Song of Ice and Fire – most of them are at least sort of terrible people who have done many terrible things, and they lie and cheat and stab each other in the back, and some of them are outright cowards, but a lot of them are interesting. They’re strong characters because – at their best – they feel real.

An actual strong female character is real. I’ve seen it reframed as “strong character, female” and I like that a lot.

So I was putting the women in Labyrinthian in important, powerful positions, because I wanted them front and center as much as possible. But I knew that wasn’t going to be enough. I had to make Phae interesting, and I had to do it on her own terms. And I had to pack as much character development for her as I could into a story where she’s not the focus. I had to do the same for the others who show up, some of whom aren’t there for long. I had to at least try. I owed it to them, and I owed it to myself.

I’m not sure if I was entirely successful – I think I did all right, but I’ve learned that readers are very often better judges of that than authors are – but I hope I did. I love the women in Labyrinthian just as much as I love Taur and Theseus, and I hope that love comes through. I hope you enjoy them, even the ones you only meet briefly. I know they’re looking forward to meeting you.

LINE AND ORBIT ~*~*paperback*~*~ giveaway!

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This time next month, the trade paperback edition of Line and Orbit will be available to purchase. Isn’t that exciting? But wait!! YOU DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR OWN COPY. Because I’m giving one away, you see (one of those pictured up there, oh they are so pretty). And even BETTER: it will be signed by me and my lovely co-author.

Want to enter? Simply fill out this handy form. I promise to guard with my very life, and completely forget, via extensive sessions of hypnosis, all of your personal information as soon as the contest is over. At midnight on February 4th, the contest will end, and I will select one lucky person.

ENTER HERE