Hop Against Homophobia

HAHABT 2015

Hello and welcome to my little corner of the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi-and Transphobia.  Today (May 17th) is International Day Against Homophobia, Bi-Phobia and Transphobia.  Check out the website and read about the movement here.

WordPress is quirky about linky lists, but you can click here to go to the main hop page and view the links of all the other participants (117 at last look. Woohoo!)  And everyone one of them is giving away prizes- double woohoo!  My prize info and instructions are at the end of this post.

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Can’t believe it’s been one year since I last participated in the Hop against Homophobia, which happened to coincide pretty closely with the release of my first m/m erotic fantasy, Touch of Salar.  What an eye-opening, awareness-raising year it has been. I didn’t charge into the realm of gay romance with idea of being a crusader- I just wanted to write about the stories of love between men that came unbidden (and sometimes unwanted) into my head.  I realized pretty quickly that my right to write whatever I wanted was intimately tied to the gay rights movement and that if I wanted to create literary worlds where everyone was free to love whomever they wanted, I’d best get on board with the fight to make this world safe for the exact same thing.  No more waving from the sidelines but jumping in and adding my voice to the growing symphony of writers, readers and everyone else demanding fairness and equality.

Easier said than done, as many of you have probably experienced in different ways  and on many different levels of difficulty.  My personal road to being “out” pales in comparison to the gay men and women who’ve struggled against rejection for the most of their lives.  I’m straight, but I’ve got this dirty little secret.  I get turned on by two men having sex. Gasp!  For a good chunk of my life I really believed I was the only straight woman on the planet with this “problem”.  I thought something was wrong with me and went through periods of trying to repress or deny the stories, but they just kept coming.  I even felt guilty about wanting to write male protagonists. I’m a liberated woman, right? I should want to write about strong heroines and champion womens’ causes, so I stuffed the erotic images away and focused on writing women in a series of bland, SEXLESS novels.

No surprise my stories lacked passion, right?  No surprise my life lacked passion. No surprise my stories didn’t sell.

Then one fine day I discovered that women writing gay romance was a thing.  Like, a really big thing.  I was not alone! And very quickly, I was envious!  Realization to publication took about six months.  I’ve got twenty years of stories back-uped and ready to see the light of day, people. This has been the most productive and satisfying year of my writing my life.

But, and here’s the catch, I’m now writing not only erotica, but gay erotica. At first I explained it to my friends as a sort of experiment, a way to shrug off the yoke of traditional white old men in suits New York publishing and get something out there.  Kind of a joke, you know?  Bu the joke was on me. I was so excited about finally getting to write what I wanted I didn’t see the irony of going from deep-dark-secret to Published Novel That Anyone Can Read, Including My Mother, in such a short space of time.

And so here’s my confession; I didn’t tell my family what I was doing until recently.  I fear rejection, you see, and still do. I know there are people in my extended family who will shun me as word trickles out.  And the pain, and the fear, in a small  but intense way, becomes real.  When I look at the courage of all the homosexual, bisexual, transexual, gender fluid people standing up and being counted, and being oh-so-vulnerable, I am amazed, awestruck and more than a little befuddled by my own reticence.

Freedom turns out to be intoxicating.  It is worth fighting for and taking risks, and I commend everyone who has ever faced their fear, large or small, and let their true voice be heard.

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Prize time!  I’ll be giving away a copy of my first novel, Touch of Salar, an erotic m/m fantasy, to celebrate it’s one year anniversary and this hop!  To enter, just leave a comment with your email.  I’ll draw a random winner on the day after the hop (May 25th) and notify them via email. And as an added incentive, I’ll donate a dollar for every comment I get to Old Growth Northwest, a Seattle-based group supporting  a diverse literary ecosystem.

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New Year’s Resolution Hop

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Once again I’m joining the writers at House of Manlove for a hop. This time we’re sharing our New Year’s Resolutions.

I try to remember to keep my resolutions to things I actually have control over. For instance, I’d really like to resolve to hit the NY Times bestseller list, but alas, that is the hands of forces way out of my control. So every year I renew my resolve to be as productive as I can be in regards to my writing. This is sort of a cheat, because I think I might be a workaholic when it comes to writing. No boundaries! I’d also like to resolve to have more time, but again, economic forces have more to say about that than I do.

I love that I’m now with a great publisher and my books are finally reaching appreciative readers. This is awesome. But in terms of being a workaholic, I need to remember to sit back and enjoy the journey instead of always focusing on the end point (the mystical bestseller list, or big royalty check that allows me to quit the day job, or the breakout novel that steams up everyone’s eReaders).

I love to write, always have, always will, but when the artistic endeavor gets all tangled up with marketing, selling, promoting, it can dim the joy of the creative process. I therefore resolve to forget all about the end points when crafting my story and simply revel in the knowledge I have a very good chance of getting this one published. Those times at the keyboard are all about the characters and their journey, not mine. That comes later, outside of the creative process. Yes, one must keep readers in mind, but not as consumers. Readers are along for the joyride just as much as I am and I have to keep my reader self close by as my writer self frolics in the realm of the imagination.

I also have to remember I have a life beyond the keyboard and I need to get out more and be with the 3-D people in my life.

To sum up, I hereby resolve to enjoy life more, to treasure every opportunity to practice my craft, to fiercely protect the small happinesses and to let go of the judgmental voices in my head saying I should be further down the road of success. Success is doing what you love, right?

Here’s to gobs of success for all of us in 2015.

Don’t forget to continue the hop and check out everyone’s resolutions!

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia

HAHAT 2014

Today, May 17th, is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and that’s why over a hundred writers, cover designers, publishers and reviewers are participating in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia.   Click the badge above to visit other participating bloggers for fun and prizes!  I’ll be giving away a $10 Loose Id gift certificate to someone drawn randomly from those who comment on this blog in the next week (don’t forget to leave an email address).  You can use it to buy my soon-to-be-released m/m erotic fantasy, Touch of Salar, or any  of Loose Id’s wide selection of LGBTQ erotica.  Also, if I get over ten comments (one per person please), I’ll be donating $25 to GLAAD!

Enjoy the hop!

 

Pretty Men, Handsome Women

Instead of writing this blog the other night I logged on to Pintrist and found myself caught in compulsive scroll mode for nearly two hours. In the search box I’d typed “handsome men” and the results did not disappoint. This is legitimate work, believe it or not. As a writer of m/m romance and erotica, I feel it’s my duty to offer a bit of man candy on my blog to enhance the value of stopping by.

Here you go:Orlando

 

So as I was compulsively scrolling and pinning, I found this photo of Orlando Bloom, one of my favorite hotties who would be on the cover of all of my novels if I had any say in the matter.

One of the comments under the photo was “he looks gay”. That’s all. My first thought was “all the better” as my characters are mostly gay and bisexual. Then I paused to reflect, what is it that makes a man “look gay”? I think the traditional stereotypic answer would be a man who looks feminine. So what does it mean to “look feminine”?

What I see in this photo aside from undeniable beauty is an aura of gentleness, even vulnerability. Perhaps a touch of style in the bracelets and long hair that a manly alpha lumberjack type wouldn’t sport? All good as far as I’m concerned, but I have to wonder about a culture that frowns upon signs of gentleness in its men.

The code of manliness seems more rigid and controlling than the code of femininity, partly I suppose because the misogynistic tendencies in our culture understand a woman’s desire to be “more manly” whereas a man’s tendency to be feminine is roundly scorned. That’s not to say that women are not judged and found lacking by the same wonky standards.

Handsome women, i.e. women who look masculine, exude strength, confidence and probably don’t have a pert nose and a bow in their hair are judged as not attractive or at least not optimal mating material. A woman should exude soft, nurturing, sexy submission, if our entrainment and advertising industries accurately indicate anything.

Here’s one for the ladies:Angelica Houston

I’m always surprised when I see real life indicators supporting restrictive, damaging expectations that limit one’s ability to appreciate beauty. (Does Pintrist count as real life?) I look at that photo of Orlando and basically drool and cry myself to sleep, but some bizarre creature out there looks at it and thinks “too feminine.” Likewise, some misguided fools won’t find Angelica quite feminine enough, and therefore “unattractive”.

Maybe I’m too sensitive, I don’t know, but I’d like to think we’ve moved beyond shoving people in to boxes designed to meet our primal mating requirements. Not manly enough= doesn’t suit my personal needs=bad. Labeling and judging our fellow humans based on taste rather than reveling in the simple beauty of the human form, free of rating systems, preconceived prejudices or, let’s face it, blind stupidity, should be a thing of the past. Someone might not be your personal cuddle fantasy, but that doesn’t lessen their beauty.

I admit, my tastes run toward gentle, vulnerable, perhaps feminine looking men and they always have. But it wouldn’t occur to me judge, say The Rock and leave the comment “he looks het”. Or maybe I would. That would cause a few head scratches I’m sure.

Why Nice is nice.

When I dropped off my rental car at the train station in Nice, I was looking forward to one night in that warm, Mediterranean metropolis of blue waters, beautiful bodies and seaside clubs. Coming down from the mountains of the Var region, I was a bit taken back by the heat, which approached 40 Celsius, or 100 Fahrenheit.

Being the nostalgic sort of person I am, I’d located the only hotel in Old Town, several blocks from the beach (Hotel Villa la Tour). Once an 18th century convent, it sported long, steep stairs, no elevator and no air-conditioning. But the ambiance! The ambiance couldn’t be beat.  Because I’d asked for a room with the view, I was given the honeymoon suite on the top floor.

Room with a view

Room with a view

Besides a shower big enough to fit all of your BMFs, there were cloth roses on the wallpaper, a tiny wrought iron balcony, and, as mentioned before, no air conditioning.  After lugging my souvenir stuffed suitcase up five flights (a charming maid helped me on the last two flights), sweat dripped from my every pore.  Undeterred, I took advantage of that vast shower and readied myself for a night on the town.  On the last day of a three-week jaunt, I’d run out of warm weather things to wear except for a clingy silk dress I’d purchased from a market vendor in Fayence.

Lovely and spacious shower

Lovely and spacious shower

When I wriggled my still damp, overheated body into it, I found it clinging indeed.  And I didn’t have an appropriate bra for a strappy dress.  The affect was not pleasing.  When I stepped out onto the crowded pulsing cobblestoned streets of old town, I alone seemed to feel more like hiding than strutting.  Not one to linger on my perceived imperfections, I soon basked in the near tropical delights of this fascinating city where Art Deco meets the renaissance meets medieval towers.  The markets and narrow streets are an overwhelming cornucopia of colors, scents and sounds, almost enough to make me forget my lack of personal allure.

Promenade from Castle Hill

Promenade from Castle Hill

On the Promenade des Anglais, the long walkway that lines the oceanfront, a host of glistening tanned bodies from every corner of Europe and beyond strolled, frolicked and danced.  Bikini clad urchins mixed with wing-sporting models.  In my own sticky funk, I grew ever more aware of my pale, Slavic skin, still unthawed after a long winter under wraps in northern realms; the sweat that washed away all attempts at cosmetic refinement; the sun blocking floppy hat that trammeled my locks to a flattened mass, and the unflattering way my panty lines and bra straps were highlighted by the clingy silk.  Not the lovely image I like to present to my public.

Nonetheless, as I passed from the markets of old town to the promenade, a dark-haired, dark-eyed gentleman in a white apron, smoking a cigarette, called out to me, “Bonjour, beautiful lady!”

“Bonjour!” I said, waving my hand.

And for the rest of the evening, I was beautiful. As was everyone in that most beautiful of cities.