Tag Archives: m/m romance

SWORD AND STAR – preorder and excerpt!

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Been spreading the word just about everywhere else and neglecting my actual website as usual, but here: SWORD AND STAR, the final book in the Root Code trilogy, is available for preorder.

And will be out on the 23rd, so that is soon.

If you preorder, you get 20% off the retail print price, and 30% off if you order print and ebook together. So that’s a pretty sweet deal. You can also read an excerpt at the link above, and I’ll be posting more goodies here coming up. Watch for stuff, including a blog tour, which will feature me throwing free things at you. Throwing them really damn hard.

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This has been a very long time coming, guys. Amazing to finally be done.

Very late blog post roundup

My blog tour in support of my latest book release – Fall and Rising – has concluded (a while ago, d’oh) and I thought I’d real quick do a thing on the posts I wrote for it, because I’m pleased with them and you may be interested.FallAndRising_500x750

Fall and Rising didn’t have the easiest path to publication (and I’m very, very grateful to Riptide for giving it a chance). Its precursor, Line and Orbit, was purposefully left open for a sequel, though I and my then-coauthor weren’t completely certain there would be one. But we eventually decided to try to write one. We ran into trouble when she needed to spend more time with her dissertation (she’s since graduated with her PhD, which is so awesome), so I ended up taking the project on alone. The initial draft of the book took a few months to write and I was reasonably happy with it, but once it was finished it struggled to find a home. It wasn’t quite right for the publisher of Line and Orbit, so I had to take it back and stare at it and poke it for a while, and consider what my next move should be.

And the decision I came to – and it was not in any way an easy one – was that it didn’t work.

Here’s a thing about Writer Brain that’s kind of fun and interesting (and in fact this is true of almost all brains): it’s plastic. You can train it; you can subtly alter the way it functions. Habits form themselves, but they can also be formed. Sit down to write every day, and after a while writing every day gets easier. Your brain gets used to the idea that this task is going to be regularly expected of it, and it adapts. Start with minimum target word counts, and you may find that over time those word counts increase as you’re able to write more words, faster. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it has worked for me and it may work for you as well.

I knew these places, these people, this history and this lore, but I didn’t walk back in with any particular ease. It took me some time to settle and feel comfortable again. I had to get reacquainted with the layout. I had to have conferences with some characters. So what’s up with you right now? What’re you doing? What’s your goal here, what are you hoping to get out of this?

I came out of fandom, as a writer. Fanfiction was what taught me to write (I still write it), and fandom was my first literary community. It’s literally why I’m writing this now. Among other things, a lot of my first fic was slash – fic focused on the development of queer relationships. I discovered that it was possible to write these kinds of stories through my first encounters with slash, and it was a revelation. I quickly picked up the fact that for people outside fandom, fanfiction was often disparaged and made the butt of jokes – along with the people who wrote it – and this was especially true of slash fic. I think there are a lot of reasons for this, but I think some of it – maybe most of it – is because we aren’t supposed to be telling these stories, and these stories don’t matter. They’re silly. They’re worthless. They’re also inherently poorly done.

I knew that wasn’t true. It irked me. So very early on, before I had the language to articulate what was happening, I came to see this kind of writing as resistance. Not only as resistance, but as a way of taking existing stories and making them queer. Almost a way of remaking the world.

Because stories matter.

[W]hat helped me wasn’t taking a step back so much as thinking back, to the book that preceded it and to the process of getting to know the world and its inhabitants, and trying to remember why I fell in love with it all in the first place. Why I wanted to spend time with these people, and why it felt like a story worth telling.

Because generally you don’t get through writing an entire book that you then feel is good enough to publish without loving the world in which you’re working.

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’.

LABYRINTHIAN: Ten things to know about it

14794919024_73b09979e4_cWelcome to September, everyone. I’m pretty much entirely losing my cool over the last few thousand (PLEASE ONLY A FEW THOUSAND, I CAN’T TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS OH GOD) words of Rookwar, so let’s take a break from that and from my broken sobbing on Twitter and instead look forward to January, which will bring Labyrinthian.

I’ve already talked about it a little, just in terms of its outline and general elements, and I’ve posted the first chapter here, but there’s obviously more to it, and I figure a little bit of a FAQ probably wouldn’t be out of line. So here it is.

  1. It’s a queer retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in spaaaaaaaaaace. Because why the hell not. Myths are cool, space is cool, queer fiction is cool, stick ’em all in a blender and hit puree.
  2. I had the idea years ago. Actually right around the time Lisa and I finished up Line and Orbit, I think. It was only the vaguest of concepts – myth in space, dudes kissing – but it grabbed me. The timing wasn’t right, however, so it got shelved until this past fall, when it grabbed me with a vengeance. I had just finished a couple of very, very difficult novels and I wanted to do something fun. Then things got a little out of hand and:
  3. I wrote the first draft in less than a month. That’s not to brag – okay, maybe a little to brag – but to indicate how hard this idea took hold of my brain. For a while it was actually very difficult to stop working on it. The resulting draft was quite complete and not a whole lot has substantially changed between it and the final product, but I don’t think I’ll write a book at that speed again. In retrospect it was pretty draining. Like more than usual.
  4. It’s set in the Line and Orbit universe. I didn’t actually intend it to be when I first had the idea, but that ‘verse has a way of pulling me back into itself, and once I started actually teasing out some details, it seemed like a natural fit just in terms of the feel of the thing. It’s a somewhat goofy space adventure-type deal with a more serious underside, which is pretty much exactly what Line and Orbit was.
  5. It does not feature any of the same characters as Line and Orbit, nor is it a sequel. It does, however, take place somewhat concurrently with the end of Line and Orbit and the beginning of its vaporware sequel Fall and Rising. So reading L&O first, while not at all necessary, will add some depth to some aspects of the worldbuilding. If you care about that kind of thing also buy my books.
  6. It takes place on the frontier of human-explored space. Unlike most of the locations in Line and Orbit, in Labyrinthian the Terran Protectorate has a very limited presence – more symbolic than anything – and the part of space in which the book happens is somewhat chaotic. The humans there are either essentially nomadic or confined to small colonies. There’s no central authority, and nothing much in the way of law or policing. Bounty hunters and mercenaries like Theseus fill the gap in that they provide an incentive for people to deal fairly with one another – step out of line or screw someone in a deal and you can expect a hunter to come after you – and the hunters maintain a loose, unofficial guild that also keeps a kind of order. That context of chaos was a lot of fun to write within, because it allowed for a background of political dynamics that’s very different from what we did in Line and Orbit.
  7. It’s totally romance, but the romantic plotline is not the only one or even the central one. Theseus and Taur’s weird, uncomfortable journey toward each other coincides with another much more dangerous journey, and the fundamental story is how those two journeys intertwine and give each other meaning.
  8. It’s got a lot of sex. Very explicit sex. It’s the most smut-heavy thing I’ve written that isn’t actually erotica. If that’s not your thing, I think you can skip those scenes for the most part and still have no trouble getting into the larger plot. There’s a lot of character building in my porn, though, so it’s not just there for the sake of porn.
  9. It’s quite violent. Again, be aware. It’s a good bit more violent than Line and Orbit was, though the body count is lower. There’s a fair amount of gore.
  10. But it’s fun. Or that’s my opinion. Writing it, it had a very Firefly feel to me, so if you like that kind of SF I’d imagine you’d enjoy this. Hope so, anyway.

Not sure when it’ll go up for pre-sale, but you can add it to your Goodreads shelves here. And of course I’ll be giving stuff away. Yay stuff.

LABYRINTHIAN: first look!

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I wasn’t going to launch into promo for this book until September, but whatever, it’s almost September, and I want to. So here’s the first chapter of Labyrinthian, which – recap – is coming out in January from Samhain Publishing. It’s a (very, very loose) retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur IN SPACE, and it’s set in the Line and Orbit universe, though it doesn’t feature any of the characters from that book and it stands totally on its own. It takes place shortly after the events of Line and Orbit, and if the L&O sequel ever actually gets a release, one should assume that it’s happening concurrent with that.

Here’s the blurb:

A hunter should never fall for his prey.
A hunter’s heart should never fall prey to his quarry.

Still nursing his latest post-mission hangover, bounty hunter Theseus jumps at a high-paying, high-risk job that sounds ridiculously easy. Yet from the moment he nabs the alleged supersoldier with sedative gas, nothing is as it seems.

On the run from the facility where he was created and raised, Taur is desperate to locate his genetically engineered brothers and sisters. To rescue them—and himself—from slavery. Waking aboard Theseus’ ship, his fury is tempered by curiosity about his captor. Despite his doubts about his prisoner, Theseus figures it’d be risky to let Taur go—until they’re thrown together by a shared betrayal. They declare a tentative truce as they flee from a shadowy and immensely powerful organization that will stop at nothing to find them.

But as they wrestle with their growing feelings for each other, Taur and Theseus face an even greater danger. A lethal threat lurking inside Taur’s own body, waiting to explode…

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So here’s the first chapter, which introduces Taur and reveals the fact that he’s not having a very good day, or week, or life.

(Warning: this actually gets pretty violent at one point)

Continue reading

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

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[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.

LABYRINTHIAN score, part the first

As I’m going through the edits for Labyrinthian and reacquainting myself with the sense of it as a story, it strikes me again that it feels very cinematic as I write it. And I know I’m not the only one who does the fitting-of-movie-scores to my stuff. So here, as part of my process, is one of the pieces that feels like it would fit in perfectly with this particular book. Maybe even as the main/opening theme. The vaguely ticking sound goes very well with the fact that one of my main characters is dealing with a major and potentially lethal time crunch.

I mean, BT is just amazing in general. Probably gonna post more of him.