The Joy of Writing for an Anthology guest post by @LelaEBuis #guestpost #YLOH @supposedcrimes

I’m excited to have Lela over on my blog today, mostly because I loved her short story in our anthology!


 

The Joy of Writing for an Anthology

Magazines can be a hard sell for a writer. If it’s a popular magazine, you have to visualize something like 500-1000 manuscripts stacked in the back room, with one or two lowly slush readers doggedly slogging through the pile. Maybe it will avalanche and your submission will slide unheeded out the window, or maybe yours gets stuck somewhere under the bottom and the janitor sweeps it out years from now. After six or eight months, you send a query and get an instant rejection. So, was that because you had the audacity to query, or was it because they’ve really lost your manuscript? Maybe you just had no idea what they’re looking for.

Anthologies, on the other hand, take a lot of the guess work out of what the editor is seeking. Often anthologies are themed, and the editor gives you a prompt to write from—a general direction and maybe some hints about the characters, theme and conflict. Presumably there will be a smaller slush pile, too. This suggests you can find compatible markets by sifting through anthology calls and writing stories to suit. Over the years, this certainly has increased the number of stories I’ve had published. That’s a definite joy!

 

Website: http://lelaebuis.wordpress.com/

Blog: http://lelaebuis.wordpress.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lela.buis

Twitter: @LelaEBuis

Please promote: http://www.amazon.com/Competitive-Fauna-Collection-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B00OKILOJO

 

Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case

Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen

 

Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.

Lesbian

Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon

Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.

A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith

Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.

Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.

When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.

That December by Lela E. Buis

Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.

Gay

The Arrangement by Helena Maeve

When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.

New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen

Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.

The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz

1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.

Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.

Say You Do by Kassandra Lea

Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.

 

Buy Links:

|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||
Add to Goodreads

 

 

About the Publisher

Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.

“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.

|| Website || Facebook || Twitter ||

 

 

 

 

Debut author Stacy O’Steen guest posts! @torn_treasure @supposedcrimes #YLOH #guestpost

Stacy and I met in a bar on a dark and rainy night in the beginning of November over two years ago. Since then, she and I have become fast and close friends. And her writing ability has grown tremendously! I’m so excited to have her here for her first published piece.


 

My short story New York Minute, as you probably could have guessed, is set in New York City. I honestly have never visited New York. I love the idea of the city and I have heard that everyone that goes there loves it. The reason New York Minute is set there is because I was binge watching way too much Gossip Girl at the time. Lol. My husband always jokes that if I was dropped in the upper east side I would be able to find my way around simply due to watching so much of that show.

 

Seriously though, I loved the scandals in Gossip Girl and the infinite possibilities of a city that large. I did do some research so I wasn’t just spouting out untruths, resulting in a million tabs up on my computer of the upper east side and Brooklyn.

 

Also, I feel like New York is the backdrop for some many stories about big dreams. I want Colton to have the movie star back drop even if his dream is only one of returning to a sense of normalcy and a place he can call home. I think dreams are important no matter the perceived impact and I wanted Colton to reach for his.

 

I would love to one day travel to New York City and if anyone has a dream of opening a restaurant in New York please feel free to call it Le Canard Humide and please write me to tell me about it!

 

 

Website: www.stacyosteen.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stacyosteenbooks

Twitter: @Torn_Treasure

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/StacyOSteen

Endless Days of Summer to be released July 1st

 

Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case

Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen

 

Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.

Lesbian

Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon

Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.

A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith

Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.

Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.

When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.

That December by Lela E. Buis

Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.

Gay

The Arrangement by Helena Maeve

When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.

New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen

Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.

The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz

1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.

Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.

Say You Do by Kassandra Lea

Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.

 

Buy Links:

|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||
Add to Goodreads

 

 

About the Publisher

Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.

“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.

|| Website || Facebook || Twitter ||

 

Defeating Writer’s Block with @HelenaMaeve #YLOH #GuestPost #amwriting

Helena is someone who came to my attention well before we were put together in an anthology. She is a writer of great skill and many abilities, and I’m certainly honored to have my story next to hers in Young Love, Old Hearts. even seasons authors have struggles, and Helena talks about them candidly.


 

Defeating Writer’s Block

Helena Maeve

 

When I stumbled across the Young Love, Old Hearts submission call, I was waging battle against the gods of writer’s block. I can only assume they felt neglected after a few months of solid writing and decided to exact punishment. And I, a mere mortal, felt powerless against them.

Rubbish. Although it sometimes seems otherwise, writer’s block is not an external force besetting us. Its power is only fuelled by our own actions. In my case, it was a combination of exhaustion, lassitude, and the persistent fear that I’d already written my best ideas and whatever came next would be drivel. The more I repeated this to myself while trying to come up with the next novel, the next novella, and the deeper I seemed to sink into writer’s block.

Pursuing submission calls and looking outside one’s playground can be a solution, but sometimes there are deadlines involved and writer’s block can’t simply be ignored. A few strategies have worked for me in that regard.

Food. Eat your feelings, as they say. I’ve found that going out or cooking something nice at home can take my mind off the problem I’m struggling with. Setting aside the troublesome white page sometimes unlocks the kinks in our minds on its own, but even beyond that, our brains need sustenance as much as our muscles. For some people, that’s coffee or tea. For me, it’s a good meal at my favourite restaurant, alone or with friends.

Reread. Chances are you’re not blocked on the first thing you’ve ever written. So go back, pick through the archives and see how you did it before, what ideas you tried out and took to their logical conclusion or dropped halfway there. I’ve rediscovered many old drafts this way, and some are now well on their way to becoming fully realized novels. Other times, it’s simply useful to have tangible proof that the inner bully is wrong.

Routine. It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re battling a lack of inspiration, but sometimes sitting down in the same spot every day and going through the motions of trying to write can wear down the inner critic. Once that’s done, it’s much easier to trust that whatever ends up on paper can be used or learned from or revised. Too often we treat first drafts as a measure of our talent because we compare them with published works. We don’t see the thousands upon thousands of words that our favourite authors balled up and tossed into the wastebasket on their bad days. We just focus on our own.

The biggest trick of all is not to be discouraged by writer’s block. I’m still working on remembering that myself. On my bad days, I set aside the manuscripts that won’t cooperate. On my good days, I try to remember that there was a time not so long ago when I could write without questioning every word I put on paper and remind myself that the slump won’t last forever. Apparently even cold November rain can’t do that.

Website: helenamaeve.com

Twitter: @HelenaMaeve

 

Excerpt from The Arrangement:

Cyril brandished the bundled envelopes before he felt compelled to say something as inappropriate as that. “I wanted to drop these off.”

August cut his eyes to the package.

“I see.”

“You look well.” Cyril cleared his throat. “Probably should’ve led with that.”

“It’s kind of you to say.”

Yet August made no move to take the money from him. Aware of Lloyd watching them, Cyril lowered the parcel. “Please take it. Doesn’t feel right to keep it.” It hadn’t felt right whenever he slid it into his back pocket at the end of the night, right before letting himself out of August’s house like a cheap hustler, but he’d taken it.

August had made it plain when they started that the fee was non-negotiable.

The elevator doors slid open with a muted sigh, cleaving through the tension Cyril had felt building between them.

The sound distracted Lloyd from pretending he wasn’t eavesdropping.

August greeted his neighbours, but he was quicker to turn his attention back to Cyril. “Would you like to come upstairs? The way we left things… doesn’t sit well with me.”

There was a right answer to go with that request and it perched on Cyril’s tongue with a glut of colourful language.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the one he offered.

Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case

Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen

 

Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.

Lesbian

Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon

Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.

A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith

Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.

Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.

When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.

That December by Lela E. Buis

Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.

Gay

The Arrangement by Helena Maeve

When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.

New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen

Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.

The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz

1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.

Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.

Say You Do by Kassandra Lea

Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.

 

Buy Links:

|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||
Add to Goodreads

 

 

About the Publisher

Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.

“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.

|| Website || Facebook || Twitter ||

 

 

The Art of the Farce with @Racheline_M & @ErinMcRae #guestpost #YLOH @supposedcrimes

I’m so excited today to have Erin & Racheline here with a fantastic guest post! They are cowriters in every sense of the word, which is something I love partaking it. So give them a round of applause!

***

One of my and Racheline’s favorite story elements to play with is farce. Sure, we write a lot about death and coping with the difficult realities of relationships and life, but we even in our most serious stories we keep coming back to farce. After all, there can be farcical elements even in the midst of crisis, especially when crises keep happening right on top of each other.

 

“Adjunct Hell” is no exception. Carl is waiting to hear back from the tenure committee on whether he still has a job or not. He’s also conducting — and trying to keep secret — a relationship with his student, Phil, who’s a couple decades older than he is. Add in gossipy students, meddling colleagues, and Phil’s ex-wife who just happens to know the dean, and farce becomes essentially unavoidable.

 

Farce is more than just a hilarity-inducing plot device, though. In life, everything happens at once, all the time. Often, disastrously. Like the Thanksgiving where I, in one 24-hour period, got stuck in a snowstorm driving home, was trapped in the middle of really intense family drama over pierogies (my father-in-law is Polish), misunderstood an email and thought all of my friends hated me, and got Racheline’s and my first novel contract — while I was at a bar.

 

The contract aside, that was a weekend I could have done without. But still, even in the midst of it all, while the terrible kept piling on, it was kind of funny. Farce is all about that. It’s the way we make one of the most pain in the ass truths of life part of our story while also keeping it — the story and our lives — fun.

 

Social media links:

 

Joint Blog: http://Avian30.com

Joint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline

Erin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/erincmcrae

Racheline’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/racheline_m

Erin’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8323893.Erin_McRae

Racheline’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1015335.Racheline_Maltese

 

Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae are also authors of the following series:

 

Love in Los Angeles: http://avian30.com/books/love-in-los-angeles/

Love’s Labours: http://avian30.com/books/loves-labours/

 

Excerpt from “Adjunct Hell”:

 

“So apparently your classmates have a betting pool going,” Carl says as soon as Phil picks up the phone.

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yes. About whether and when the old dude with the crush is going to get with the professor.”

 

Phil makes a strangled noise. It takes Carl a moment to realize he’s laughing.

 

“It’s not funny!” Carl protests.

 

“It’s funny.”

 

“I’m still waiting on my boss to tell me whether or not my colleagues hate me and whether I, you know, still have a job. The last thing I need is rumors about me and a student…” Carl trails off in despair.

 

“It’s a school. Do you have any idea how many rumors are flying around? Or how many professors are banging their students?”

 

Carl collapses face down on his bed and makes a pitiful noise into the phone.

 

“Look, I know this is making you crazy,” Phil says soothingly. “But whatever it is has been done, and if they wanted you gone, you’d know. There is also absolutely nothing you can do about it right now. So,” he says, and Carl can just picture him settling more comfortably in his bed, in which they have not spent nearly enough time together. “Tell me about the rest of your day.”

 

Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case

Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen

Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.

Lesbian

Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon

Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.

A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith

Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.

Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.

When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.

That December by Lela E. Buis

Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.

Gay

The Arrangement by Helena Maeve

When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.

New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen

Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.

The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz

1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.

Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.

Say You Do by Kassandra Lea

Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.

 

Buy Links:

|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||
Add to Goodreads

 

About the Publisher

Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.

“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.

|| Website || Facebook || Twitter ||

 

 

Do I Feel Different…? Guest post with A. M. Leibowitz #lowereducation #MM #bisexual #romance

Hello one, hello all! Today I’m so excited to host my good friend A. M. Leibowitz on my blog. She’ll be talking about publishing and finally being a published author and just want that feels like.

***

10518908_10204489956156895_156712596_nWhen Adrian asked me to write this post, I jumped at the opportunity because, well, she’s one of my favorite people, and how could I say no? Then I realized I had to actually come up with a topic. I consulted my crystal ball (also known as my spouse), who suggested I write about whether I feel different now that my book is officially available to the public.

I want to say that I don’t feel different at all, that I was a real writer before, and I’m still a real writer now. I wanted to say that having my words in a format people have to pay to read doesn’t make any difference at all. But I would be lying.

I do feel different. It’s not just because the book is really, truly, honest-to-goodness available for purchase. It’s because in some way, I feel like I’ve earned the right to say to people, “You can buy my book. Or not. And if you don’t like it, you can leave me a bad review. Or not.” I no longer have any desire to hedge my bets.

Before, people used to say to me, “Oh, I would love to read something you wrote! Please let me know when your book is coming out.” And I would hedge. I had an overwhelming desire to say, “Are you sure about that?”

I come from a very conservative religious background. For some of you, that should tell you all you need to know about why I was hesitant. If you’re in the dark about it, here’s what that means.

It means attempting to put off a few people by telling them I write “romance.” It means glancing over my shoulder, leaning in, and whispering, “But I write gay sex.” It means giving people everything about the plot of the novel except for the part where my main character is bisexual and falls in love with another man. It means my neck sweating and my face turning a thousand shades of red as I say, “I don’t know if my book is church-approved.”

I’m now at a church where lgbtq+ people are welcome and affirmed, but that wasn’t always the case. The kinds of things I write are more than a little frowned on among my conservative friends. While I probably won’t lose any friendships, I might lose some respect.

When I wasn’t a published author, that mattered to me. It created in me the almost crippling fear that if I couldn’t make these people respect my writing, by extension I’d failed to make them respect me. Having a published novel has given me the confidence to stop allowing these people to own me that way. I’m not saying being published is the cure for all our writerly anxieties; it’s not. But for me, it was the boost I needed to be able to look people in the eye and take credit for my work.

I guess that means next time someone asks me what I do, I can say with conviction, “I write queer lit that falls somewhere between literary and romance. I swear a bit, and sometimes people in my novels have sex.”

Then again, maybe I won’t. I’ll wait until at least the second time we meet.

Amazon: Kindle Edition
Smashwords: 8 Different File Types
Barnes and Noble: Nook Edition
Apple: iBook Edition

Author bio:

A. M. Leibowitz is a spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. She keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing romantic plot twists and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, she blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, and her family.

 

Find me on the Internet:

Web site:         http://amleibowitz.com

Facebook:        Amy Leibowitz Mitchell (personal profile)

A.M. Leibowitz (author page)

Twitter:           @amyunchained

Guest post with Ruth Nestvold! #authorcorner

Today I’m excited to welcome Ruth Nestvold, a fellow WIPpeteer, to my blog. Ruth released a new book, and I’m so excited to share it and her inspirations with you all.

***

The vagaries of inspiration

I love to travel, and more than once, a cool place I’ve visited has made its way into my fiction. A business trip to Taipei led to a short story I sold to Asimov’s, “Feather and Ring”; a short story inspired by a holiday in Egypt, “Woman in Abaya with Onion,” appeared in Fantasy Magazine; and “The Shadow Side of th Beast” (Apex) takes place in a near future Berlin. The initial inspiration for my newest novella, Island of Glass, also came from my travels, a trip to Venice I took with my daughter almost ten years ago now. We stayed on Murano and visited the Museum of Glass there, and I learned about how the glassmakers were forbidden to leave Venice for fear that they would reveal trade secrets. How perfect a setting is that for all kinds of built-in conflict?

Murano

Another thing I enjoy is writing alternative fairy tales. Glassmakers trapped in the Venetian Lagoon and Cinderella didn’t immediately come together in my mind, but when I started brainstorming glass, one of the things that ended up in my spiral notebook was “glass slipper.” Since I also like to turn things on their figurative heads, and I knew my protagonist would be a young female glassmaker, it occurred to me that it would be cool if the glass slippers were for a prince rather than a princess. In the baroque era, men too wore fancy high-heeled shoes. Glass slippers for a prince would be perfect if I set my story in a fictional 17th century.

From there, I soon had the fairy godmother, the helpful birds (which bring something completely different than decorations for a gown), and other motifs which helped me flesh out the plot. I wrote the first version, a short story of a little under 5000 words, in about three days.

But while I was quite happy with the story and got a big kick out of the twists I’d given to the Cinderella motifs, the workshops I ran it through all had one major recurring point of critique: in places it reads like a plot summary, it has to be expanded. I resisted. I had too many full length projects on various back burners already. I was telling it like a fairy tale, where there is a lot of authorial narration. Besides, I knew it didn’t have the substance for a complete novel. And novellas are notoriously hard to sell to short fiction markets. So the story went out as a short story — and collected nearly a dozen rejections before I shelved it.

Then along came e-publishing. And a pre-made cover that looked so perfect for my story that I had to tackle it again. While novellas might be hard to sell in traditional markets, my experience at that length with ebooks was good. At the longer length, I was able to add more elements from the fairy tale, like the step-sisters. And while I worked on it, I noticed how right my critics had been. The additions gave it more depth, more conflict, more emotional credibility.

So these are the vagaries of inspiration for Island of Glass: a trip, a fairy tale, a pre-made cover, and changes in the publishing market. I hope readers enjoy the result.

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Island of Glass (Book I of The Glassmakers Trilogy)

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Island of Glass is now available for a special introductory price of only 99c!

Find Ruth Nestvold on the Internet:

Blog: https://ruthnestvold.wordpress.com

Web site: http://www.ruthnestvold.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ruth.Nestvold.Author

Twitter: @Ruth_Nestvold

Gender Neutral GUEST POST with S. A. Snow #authorscorner #bisexual #eroticromance

Hey everyone! I’m thrilled to be guest blogging here at Adrian’s blog. I’m S.A. Snow, and I have decided to write about gender neutral writing today since that’s something I’ve had some experience with that a lot of other people haven’t.

I’ll start off by saying that Across Worlds: Collision is the first novel I have written that involved non-gender conforming characters. Usnavi doesn’t identify as one gender or another at all. Zhe can be either, depending on what zhe wants at the time. Notice what I did there? Zhe. That’s in place of “he” or “she”. Other pronouns I had to get used to using are “zher” and “zhim”.

To be completely honest, I still get mixed up on using them sometimes. My betas and editors were catching me calling Usnavi “he” or “she” several revisions into the novel. I would catch myself falling back on the pronouns I was familiar with while writing the first few chapters, and figuring out when to use “zher” and when to use “zhim” was difficult. For the record here’s: “it belonged to zher”, “she said to zhim”. I think.

Going through the process of writing Across Worlds: Collsion was completely eye-opening to me on the importance of these pronouns. My characters are real to me, so by a few chapters in, Usnavi was a fully fleshed out person. Zhe had quirks and dislikes, and I knew what zhe thought about things. When I would catch myself using the wrong descriptor, I felt bad about it. It was a struggle for me to get to the point where I could consistently refer to zhim in the right way all the time.

Writing this book has translated into real-world applications for me. I don’t tend to think about things until I’m faced with them and getting to know Usnavi and exploring zher feelings about gender and the fluidity of things helped me really shape how I view things in the world we live in. Simply, our world is changing rapidly, and we have more diversity around than ever before. Instead of just assuming everyone fits into the “he” and “she” boxes that have existed for so long, we need to be open to expanding our definitions and the words we use to describe people.

Writing about Usnavi was a lot of fun. Zhe is a great character, and I loved going on zher journey with Jane. I personally felt a lot like my journey was similar to Jane’s. As I wrote about Usnavi, I learned a lot about being sensitive and aware that not everyone is like me and being open to accepting them for who they are, no matter what form that takes. I sincerely hope that reading this book takes you on the same journey it did me. If you’re interested, you can purchase it on Amazon.

Author Bio:

After chasing around puppies and corralling kittens, S.A. Snow flips open her BSG replicated console and enters her mysterious world of imagination. Seeking to escape the rigors of her day jobs, she enters flight mode and powers her engines full-speed ahead.

A prolific writer of non-traditional erotica, S.A. Snow grew up on a small alpaca farm high in the Andes Mountains. A lover of yoga and meditation, she spends her free time constructing alien space stations, organizing werewolf governments, and cataloging all episodes of Star Trek in order of technical soundness. A firm believer that one need not choose between Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas, she also has closely examines all Star Wars movies in order to determine which episode is more factually based.

S.A. Snow writes truth and only truth, factoring in all evidences she can find. She writes only about parallel universes she has personally visited, and believes if something about her books isn’t shocking, she’s not effectively telling the story.

Connected with S. A. Snow on Facebook and Twitter.

70a86-awccoverJane expected six months undercover to be hard; she expected it to be lonely and bleak. She didn’t expect to find love.

Jane Butler, a CIA operative, is assigned the task of infiltrating the Xanthians and determining if they’re a threat to humanity. Going undercover as a Xanthian mate, she boards the transport ship and meets Usnavi—her new mate. After spending six days traveling through space, Jane is ecstatic to explore the Xanthian station and soon sets out to complete her mission. The only problem? Usnavi—and the feelings she is quickly developing.

Fumbling their way through varying sexual expectations, cooking catastrophes, and cultural differences, they soon discover life together is never boring. As Jane and Usnavi careen into a relationship neither of them expected, Jane uncovers dark secrets about the Xanthians and realizes she may no longer be safe. When it becomes clear she’s on her own, Jane is forced to trust and rely on Usnavi. Simultaneously struggling with her mission, her feelings for Usnavi, and homesickness, Jane faces questions she never imagined she would have to answer.

 

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The Power of Representation GUEST POST by Adrian Lilly #authorcorner

The power of representation

Whether I have one reader or 100,000 readers, I take the power of representation seriously. As authors, we have the opportunity to create characters, who in the best of circumstances can introduce readers to someone unlike a person they’ve ever met in real life, and in the worst case scenario, we create characters who reveal our own biases.

Here’s an example. If you’re a fan of the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race, you may have heard about the recent backlash involving words like “she-male” and “tranny.” Some members in the transgender community are offended by these words.

Because I am not transgender, I believe that I don’t get a say in what transgender individuals should be called. What I mean is that I believe that a group has the right to refer to themselves any way they wish, and I should try to abide by that. The same way I’d rather be called “gay” than “fag.” But, representation goes beyond our chosen and imposed labels.

When I or any other writer begins to create characters, we have a responsibility to try to create characters who escape stereotype. Stereotypical characters are flat and they don’t fully represent reality.

In the following, I focus primarily on the importance of queer characters. I use queer to try to encompass the multiplicity of sexual expression: bisexual, lesbian, gay, questioning, transgender, genderqueer and so on. And within each of those expressions are individuals. For example, if you have a character who is a gay circuit boy, do you explore all that has happened to him to lead him where he is, or just create a flat character who likes to party? Also, when creating queer characters, do we think about other intersections? Often, when someone says a “gay man” we immediately picture a middle class, white, gay man, and not a gay man with a different race and/or class background.

If, as a writer, you try to tackle an expression beyond your own, you should try to make that character as sympathetic and well-rounded as possible.

So, when tackling characters, here’s a short checklist I use:

1. Have I thought about my own biases? We all have them. Being aware of them makes us better writers (and better people, I think). If I have a bias against drag queens because one read me up and down, maybe I should try to create a beloved drag queen character to stretch my writing muscles.

2. Do I have only one character of a particular race/gender/sexual expression? If so, do I try to avoid the pratfall that this character represents everyone within that social category?

3. Is my character well developed enough to ‘run the gauntlet’? By run the gauntlet, I mean do I know enough about my character to put the character through a series of tests to see what he or she would do in any given circumstances/scenes (even if the scene doesn’t make it into the story).

4. Am I trying too hard? Let’s not work too hard to “other” our characters. In other words, being gay does not define every choice a character makes. Whether your character is straight/gay/black/white/male/female is not a defining trait in whether s/he runs from a werewolf.

5. What do my characters talk about? Have you ever heard of the Bechdel test? Basically, the test is whether female characters are fully developed or whether they only exist around men. I think the same can go for queer characters. What characters talk about is a powerful way to develop them. Dialogue is a strong tool to show interests, political persuasion, background—any host of topics. How a character talks about topics (word choice, grammar) is equally important. This can tell a reader such traits as class background.

6. How do other characters see a character? Identity is how we see ourselves and how others see us. Seeing your gay character through other characters’ eyes can tell a reader much about him or her. One character may think that your gay character is so wonderful he hung the moon while another may hate his guts. Maybe they’re both right. This can help address an important aspect of character development. Sometimes our identities are a performance. If a gay man wants to be seen by others as butch, he pulls on ripped jeans and a leather harness.

  1. Am I using societal bias for my own gain? Ouch. This question is a tough one, because it’s an easy trap to fall into. Have you ever seen any long list of movies from Psycho to Sleep Away Camp to Insidious 2 where the killers are men in dresses? That storyline is so played out, and gender nonconformity is portrayed as a dysfunction rather than an authentic expression. And in a society with very few positive representations, it is also pernicious. So, for instance, if you have a character like this, stop and ask yourself whether it’s fair.

This checklist is a reference tool—a guideline. Do I always succeed? Of course not. But I think that by opening the dialogue (with myself and with others), I’m taking an important first step in creating queer and other characters who are multi-dimensional.

As a gay man, I want positive representations of everyone in the queer community. And, I guess, the first place to start with those is in my own writing.

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Author Bio:

Adrian W. Lilly is the author of the novels The Devil You Know, Red Haze, The Wolf at His Door: Book One of The Runes Trilogy and The Wolf in His Arms: Book Two of The Runes Trilogy. His short fiction and poetry have been published in Hello Horror, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, Nervehouse and The Weekly among other publications.

He is a fan of Gothic suspense movies and novels, which greatly influence his writing. Adrian’s writing focuses on strong character development and the nuances of fear that build toward horror. The mansion in his first novel, The Devil You Know, was inspired by the grand mansions in the Victorian neighborhood where he lives.

Adrian writes novels, short stories, and poetry and has spent many years as a copywriter in the advertising industry. In addition, Adrian has directed two short films and co-directed a feature-length sci-fi comedy.

My website: www.adrianlilly.com

Facebook: facebook.com/adrianwlilly

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AdrianLilly

Twitter: @AdrianLilly1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6545875.Adrian_Lilly

 

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ON SALE FOR 99 CENTS!

Twenty-one-year-old Alec Rune is annoyed when his older sister, Lucy, ambushes him with a blind date with her friend, Jared. But Alec is immediately attracted to the intriguing, intelligent young man.

But the past has claws…

Ilene Rune nearly collapses when she meets her son’s new boyfriend. His black hair and startling green eyes are the same as a man she knew years ago—an evil, violent man with strange powers.

The present has teeth…

Investigating a string of missing persons cases leads Detective Carmen Salazar into the dark world of fairy tales and fantasy—and shakes her belief in what is possible or imagined.

And the future is filled with blood…

Alec awakes from a coma with no recollection of the night his twin brother was torn to pieces. As a madman closes in on him and his family, can Alec learn the werewolves’ plan before his entire family is destroyed?

This “multi-layered and unpredictable” (Christine Coretti) novel builds to “an absolutely epic ending” (thegayUK.com).

Amazon:

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http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-wolf-at-his-door

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http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wolf-at-his-door-adrian-lilly/1116068410

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https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/332148

iBooks

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-wolf-at-his-door/id671203804?mt=11

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Ten months have passed since werewolves changed Alec Rune’s life forever. As he and his family pick up the pieces, the mastermind behind the werewolves is revealed, and he kicks the werewolf plan into motion.

Meanwhile, Alec Rune and Jared Kincaid work to find the other members of the pack, but with limited clues they are stalled. Alec’s sister, Lucy, is wounded—and vengeful—and is sculpting her will and body to be ready for the chance to exact justice. Ilene, Alec’s mother, is battling depression after the losses she suffered at the hands of the werewolves. She unwittingly stumbles upon an 80-year-old mystery and finds herself at battle with the werewolves once again. Her husband, Jason, feels in the dark and isolated from the family that is keeping secrets from him. So he begins his own investigation.

As the werewolves come closer to realizing their plan, the family is not the only ones in the path of destruction. Millions of lives hang in the balance.

And as the werewolves close in again, Alec and Jared will realize the price of great love, sometimes, is great loss.

Amazon:

Kobo

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/The-Wolf-in-His-Arms/

Barnes& Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wolf-in-his-arms-adrian-w-lilly/1118866910

Smashwords

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/411605

Emotion GUEST POST by Meryl Scarlett Fortney #authorcorner

Emotion.

That’s what books are usually about, right? They’re meant to evoke emotion or deep thought. Something that may change the way that you think or spark a new idea that, on a small or large scale, changes the world.

But it all boils down to emotion in the end—Something that I’m not even that familiar with, if you didn’t already know.

And yet I’ve got two books published and two more on the way, one of which is the continuation to the #thepaxseries and the other the beginning of a whole new storyline!

I started writing my first series back in 2005 with a prologue that didn’t really make a whole lot of sense, but then it evolved, it evolved from life experiences that brought me and molded me into who I am now.

What I’m trying to do, though, is transform the series into something that is more inclusive of TBLG folks. Like, I’m sure there are plenty of authors out there who have done such, but maybe not on the scale that I’m working with.

My third novel and sequel to “Escape Velocity” is very science fiction and is more like a space opera than anything I’ve ever written. So, of course, there’s a spaceship and a crew—A crew that will be made up mostly of women and a few who are either lesbian, bisexual or even transgender.

The main character himself, Dante Marcellus, will be undergoing a sort of metamorphosis that I know will throw my readers for a loop. The specifics of that, though, will have to be discovered upon reading the book itself… Whenever I decide to give up procrastination and finish the third installment in #thepaxseries.

I imagine that, upon reaching the end of this story, for some of my readers, this will be a very emotional sort of deal, considering it’s the end of half of the series and the storyline of Dante Marcellus.

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MERYL SCARLETT FORTNEY is an American-born, Pennsylvanian independent author and freelance writer.

She was born in Pennsylvania’s capital and lived in many places growing up, ranging from a few handfuls of different areas in her birth state to New Jersey and Florida. To this day she has yet to spend more than three years in one spot.

As a teenager, her original plan was to become an officer of the law, but upon graduation and realization of the “real world” (whatever that is) it became apparent that this would have been what many considered a bad move.

In her earlier years, she was fond of drawing, sketching, doodling and illustration and had originally wanted to create a comic book called “PAX.”

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And then the harsh realization hit her, “I absolutely suck at illustration!” So her love for creation took a few years off, until she turned 21, when she wrote the prologue for a story that would never exist, but would eventually bring to fruition the first book in her first series, “PaxCorpus.”

 

From that point on it’s been nothing more than menial jobs and constant determination to bring these universes to life and it all started with a character named Jack and a bottle of… Jack.

 

Pax CorpusSome believe extraterrestrials will end life as we know it. Others believe the risen dead will ravage the population and dominate the Earth. And then there are the others that think terrorists will wipe us out.

I say, “why not all three?”

The year is 2020, nearly six years after much of the planet’s population has been wiped out. Through the eyes of a man named Dante Marcellus, you experience the reclamation of memories lost due to unknown reasons.

With the undead and a slew of monstrous aliens (spawned from a rift in Manhattan) walking the desolate planes of the United States of America, the remaining population fights to survive under the protection of a group named PaxCorpus.

But to make things even crazier, the homicidal terrorist movement, ZeroFactor, threatens to murder anyone not affiliated with themselves – a new world order, they say – extinction.

Fighting tooth and nail to get a grasp on the events of his past, Dante unknowingly causes a chain of events that lead to an almost mirror of the events that caused humanities’ situation to begin with.

And with a vulgar, blood-stained kick to the face, everything unwinds right before him, with the barrel of his own weapon aimed between his eyes.

This isn’t about glampires or raging teenage hormones – this is PaxCorpus – the beginning of the end.

You can download PaxCorpus for free at:

Kindle, Smashwords, Google Play, iBooks

 

 

Picking up where PaxCorpus left us, Escape Velocity shoves you face-first into the abyss, grabs hold and never lets go.Escape Velocity

Follow Dante, Meryl and a ragtag squad of survivalists, who call themselves, Belligerent Underpaid Tactical Team, from the depths of the devastated state of New Jersey to the bowels of post-apocalyptic Manhattan.

With less than a day’s worth of supplies and their underground shelter lying in ruins, thanks to the terrorist cell, ZeroFactor, there is only one course-of-action–fight tooth and nail, bullet-by-bullet, to the enemy stronghold and Rift of Manhattan–or die trying.

The insanity doesn’t stop there.

Cybernetically modified, former Harrisburg, Pennsylvanian cop, Dante Marcellus, has a new problem. An implant inside of his head, where a bullet had once been, acts as a telepathic network between him and the thought-to-be-dead, Nuhm De’Ara.

Leaving a trail of bodies all the way to New York City, survival is less-than-certain, as their enemy clamps down with violent determination.

And when there isn’t even a glimmer of hope left for who remains, a man once known as Jack Marcellus returns–with vengeance and anger fueled hatred for the only person who could possibly save him from himself.

This time, there will only be one man left standing.

There are things much worse than the bite of a deader and the undead plague.

You can buy Escape Velocity at:

Kindle, Smashwords, Google Play, iBooks

 

Find Meryl Scarlett Fortney on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter!

Write what you know, but be cautious with character assassination #authorcorner Algenon Lusch

Today I have a guest post from Algie, and I can honestly say it’s an awesome post!! It’s something every writer should think about and dwell upon before, during, and after they are writing. This happens whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Without further ado, I give you…

Write what you know, but be cautious with character assassination

 They say that writing from experience is the best way to create a story that grips people. The ‘write what you know’ adage is important, particularly if you’re relying on plot factors which require pinpoint accuracy on, say, medical treatments or the layout of a courtroom. Get it right, and readers won’t even notice. Get it wrong and, I assure you, there’ll be reviews pointing out the problems. Meanwhile, if you’re not writing from an exact circumstance, you’ll often draw on past experiences, even if it’s simply a feeling, such as when you were dumped for the first time. Experience is an essential tool for a writer, helping us to create scenarios, bring our characters to life and cause emotional reactions within readers; people who’ve only spent moments with the books we’ve held in our hearts for many months and years. But experience is also something to be slightly wary of too because what do you do if you’re book is almost an exact replica of past events?

You might think there’s no problem at all when this situation arises. In fact, writing a story in this manner essentially allows you to regurgitate exactly what happened without much thought at all. It can be nostalgic (I find that looking back into the past has a rosy tint to it), and there can be joy in revisiting the past whilst creating something new for the future. However, if you’re writing the truth, particularly from just your point of view, then care has to be taken.

I’ve been in this exact predicament myself with my 52 First Dates series. You’ll note on the cover that it clearly states ‘Based on a true story’. I can assure you, that it really is. I went through the 52 First Dates process, met the men, had my heart broken and dealt with many crisis – often from friends – along the way. But, as much as I might have hated a date, or thought them impolite and arrogant, when I’m committing them to paper, especially within these forever-lasting ebook stories, there has to be a little caution about denigrating someone’s entire character. As I mentioned, this is only one point of view; what about how they felt? How would they react when reading the latest M/M book and recognising themselves within its pages?

You could, of course, throw caution to the wind. Change their names, perhaps change the setting and then leave everything else intact. Allow yourself to deconstruct every bad trait you believed them to have, and put it out there for everyone to see. I’m not quite able to do that, and spend time trying to balance it out a little. Yes, I’m writing these dates from almost exact experience, and yes, the men in my books are pretty much as they were in real life. But, I can’t help think about how I’d feel if suddenly, and glaringly, my personality was starting up at me from the pages of a book. If you’ve created a fictitious character, even if they might be based on someone, then you mightn’t need so much care. However, if what you’re writing is true in setting, tone, character and outcome, if it’s obvious who someone might be, then I’d be a little kinder because you just don’t know what the outcome might be.

Do you write from experience? Could you be kind, or would you let your passion lead you?

Books

Portrait of handsome man lying naked on bed.The Man PLAN

Now that David’s heading towards his mid-30s, he’s finally realised that it’s time to find a husband. But with so many men and so little time, he realises he’s going to have to be strategic if he’s ever to find his soulmate.

Thus, 52 First Dates is formed; a challenge, a scheme, to go on a date with a new man, every week, for a year. If it pays off, he’ll be in marital bliss. If it doesn’t, he’ll know that he’s fated with being the eternal bachelor. With everything to live for, David plunges into the world of dating in search of the perfect man.

The Man Plan is a 12,000K SHORT STORY, or about 37 pages in length.

M/M Steam-level: HOT!!

Buy Links

 Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/A.-Lusch/e/B00EB6OWSU/

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ALusch

GooglePlay: https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=A.+Lusch

Are: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=A.+Lusch

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/a.-lusch

 Friends and FRENCHMENPortrait of handsome man lying naked on bed.

With David in his mid-30’s, it’s time to get serious about finding a husband. Too many men and not enough time, mean he’s embarked on the challenge of a lifetime; to date a new man every week for a year until he finds THE ONE.

With one date out the way, and many more to come, David’s realising there’s a reason it’s so hard to find a soulmate. And, with friends, lovers and lust getting in the way, finding a husband might be harder than he thought.

Friends and FRENCHMEN is a 12,500k SHORT STORY, or about 35 pages.

M/M Steam-Level: SIZZLING

 

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“Damn Straight” with Francis James Franklin

Welcome, welcome, welcome! Today begins the newest project I have. I’ll be posting interviews, guest posts and author spotlights every Monday throughout the 2014 year. For the first part of the year, I’ve decided to specifically focus on LGBT writers, meaning either the writer is LGBT or the novels/stories they write have main LGBT characters. This is  very small niche of which I am a part of–on both sides of that spectrum. I just wanted to represent. Now to the fun part.

 I’d like to introduce you all to Francis James Franklin! He’s from the other side of the pond, but due to the wonders that are the interwebs, he has joined us today. Today he writes about LGBTness and what that means to him.

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“Damn Straight”cover-small

In 1996 (I think) I went with a friend to the London Pride event. It was a great day. Gina G. was on stage singing ‘Ooh, aah, just a little bit’ (like I believe she was made to do again in Stockholm this year). One of the speakers that day made a remark along the lines of: ‘10% of people are gay, 10% are straight, and all the rest are bisexual!’ At which I cheered.

My friend looked at me, baffled, and asked, ‘Why did you cheer?’ The implied question, of course, being, ‘Are you saying you’re bisexual?’

Am I? No! I’m 100% straight, a.k.a., ‘damn straight’. Or maybe 99.5% straight – but I’m rounding up.

And yet… In my imagination, and in my writing, there are no restrictions on my gender or on my sexual and romantic orientations. In my first novel, Kings of Infinite Space, or: The Quest for Alina Meridon, the main character’s gender and orientations change during the course of the story. My second novel, Suzie and the Monsters – a fairytale of blood, sex and inhumanity…, features two characters whose romantic and sexual orientations differ, while Suzie herself is pansexual (or possibly omnisexual).

I’ve never questioned my gender. I am a man… but what is a man? There are so many characteristics of appearance and behaviour that we (most of us) identify instinctively as masculine or feminine. If a man has feminine characteristics, is he less than a man? Or if a woman has masculine characteristics, is she less than a woman? Should gender archetypes be limited to Conan the Barbarian and Cinderella?

cover-suzie-smallFor the first six weeks of our existence our gender is undifferentiated. Thereafter, a soup of hormones influences our development, minor fluctuations in the concentration of androgens affecting the way our minds and bodies grow. Is it any surprise that gender identity and expression, and sexual and romantic orientations, don’t always correlate with chromosomal expectations?

I am a man. Yet I read Cosmopolitan, I am quite opinionated about shoes, I have almost no interest in sport, I love reading and writing about strong heroines that don’t need to be rescued by a man… Gender inequalities trouble me, and I love stories that overturn traditional (patriarchal) gender roles.

I find the idea of gender shifts very seductive. As a teenager devouring science fiction and fantasy, two gender-shifting visions had a huge impact on me. Iain Banks’s Culture series is a utopia where gender (and, in fact, all aspects of physical nature) can be changed at will. John Varley’s Steel Beach is a society in crisis where new bodies are purchased and, to some extent, follow fashion trends; where for some people sexual orientation depends on their current gender, and for others it doesn’t.

In real life, I am a heterosexual man. In my writing I am most comfortable writing as a woman. And since attraction to women is something I understand, it’s natural for my female characters to share that passion.

So, why did I cheer? Because I believe most people don’t exist at the extremes of homo- and heterosexuality, that social conditioning forces us to take sides in a war of identity that shouldn’t exist. But perhaps also it’s because the bisexual woman in me isn’t just a fantasy…

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About Francis James Franklin

By day I’m a university lecturer and researcher. By night I’m an author. I was born in England, grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, and live now in Newcastle upon Tyne with my beautiful wife and daughter.

Over on my blog,I publish short stories and poetry, publish the occasional review, and discuss vampires and sexuality.

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LGBT Giveaway

Francis has also graciously allowed me to do a giveaway for two of his stories. So click the “Giveaway” icon to enter to win either An Aromantic Romance or Quantum Sex. Next week we will have an interview with Jaye McKenna. She has graciously donated a copy of Human Frailties, Human Strengths for the giveaway.