less than three press

Win LT3 December releases

Tuning in from Nanowrimo-land to report that yesterday I broke 100,000 words. My goal is 125,000, so I’m on track and happy to report I’m still enjoying the story. Always a good thing.

Once I’m done with the month I’ll have a rough, very rough draft of Dragonspire. Like all rough drafts it’s going to need to sit in a drawer for a month before I revisit it and start the hard work, but I’m pleased with how things are going and I haven’t hit any bad patches this year so I consider myself lucky.

If you haven’t pre-ordered The Fall Guide yet–or even if you have–Less Than Three Press is offering an amazing giveaway: a copy of all their December releases!

Visit the giveaway thread on Goodreads and leave a comment to sign up for your chance to win. Don’t miss this amazing chance! I’ve never seen such a massive giveaway from a publisher…early Merry Christmas, eh?

Later this week I’m going to post my Queer Romance Blog Hop post, talk about my ever-expanding slate of writing projects, and give thanks by hosting a giveaway of my own. 🙂 Have a great week!

Preorder: The Fall Guide

In two weeks, The Fall Guide is available to buy, which means … pre-order is up NOW!

The Fall Guide is my latest novel, and it’s available at a pre-order discount now through Less Than Three Press. Save 15% off from now until the evening of Dec 3rd if you order through the press.

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    Eric is a popular beauty blogger, and hopes to use the momentum of that to start his own business selling makeup for men—but his first attempt to launch makes it painfully clear he has a lot to learn and a long way to go.

    Unexpected help comes in the form of Devon: Gorgeous, successful, and far too smooth. He is everything Eric would like to be, all the things Eric is starting to fear he’ll never achieve, and the success that Eric is striving for in both his professional and personal life is jeopardized by Devon’s inability to understand that business and pleasure shouldn’t mix, because they can have disastrous results for both.

There are a lot of reasons I can’t wait to share The Fall Guide with you. And if you give me a few days, I’ll be better able to articulate them, but for starters: representation is important to me, and neither Eric nor Devon are your typical gay cis white males. Eric defies gender norms; Devon is biracial. They have a lot of obstacles in their way, including Eric’s boyfriend Martine, Eric’s own pride, and Devon’s intimidating advantages.

More to follow, but I wanted to put the word out that you can pre-order your copy now!

Happy Release Day! And two new reviews.

First and foremost!

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Are you ready for a rocking good time? Rocking Hard: Volume One is ready for you! My novella, Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues, is sandwiched in between four other tales of music and love, the rhythms that move the world.

Cannot wait to hear what you all think!

Speaking of feedback, this week has been fruitful for The Competitive Edge, which netted 4.5 pants off over at Pants Off Reviews, and 4 kisses and an avowal to check out the other books in the Appetite series from Top2Bottom reviews.

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At Pants Off Reviews, Darien Moya says, “If you are a cooking afficionado and like m/m romance this is a must read!” Check out the rest of the review here!

Over with Top2Bottom, Susan says, “A quite long read, this series is promising. The writing is captivating, and I was fully immersed into the story.” See what else she says here!

And in case you missed my Tweet, Top2Bottom also gave me a lovely spotlight review. Thanks to all the wonderful peeps at Less Than Three Press, too, for arranging the tour!

Giveaway: Appetite paperback!

Tonight I’m doing two things: making braised beef short ribs, and the lingering aroma permeating our house is utterly divine; and bringing you an exclusive giveaway of the gorgeous, weighty paperback version of Appetite, the compilation volume of A Cut Above the Rest, The Competitive Edge, and Surfeit for the Senses.

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Summary from the first novel:

Alex always had it easy growing up, indulged by loving, but busy parents as he flitted from one interest to another without settling. Then he discovered the world of fine dining and became determined to be a chef capable of producing such magnificent meals. Despite the doubts of a father who limited his funds, and the difficulties of leaving Germany to live in the United States, Alex stuck to his new goal and graduated the Culinary Institute of America.

Fresh out of school, he is eager to begin work at the restaurant owned by a good friend of his father’s, a restaurant well known for the beautiful, innovative meals its chefs create. He is primed to join the ranks of those masterful chefs—until the day he starts, and learns that he is nothing more than kitchen lackey, lower in rank than even the dishwashers.

Worse, his boss is none other than Nik, the beautiful, infuriating, highly talented classmate that Alex could never best—or resist.

You can find summaries and excerpts from all three books from the series page here. It’s also got a nice spread of Goodreads reviews here.

The Appetite series is near and dear to my heart, not only for all the amazing food but because presiding over the journey that Chef Alex and Chef Nik take over the course of the story is tremendously frustrating, certainly difficult, but ultimately satisfying.

The trade paperback is quite thick! And worth its weight.

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The Giveaway:
I am offering this trade paperback to ONE lucky winner, chosen by a random number selected by random.org from the comments of this entry. I’ll autograph it however you like, and I will ship Appetite anywhere that accepts U.S. mail from me to you.

To enter, drop a comment (you MUST include an email or means of contact or I CANNOT count your entry). Comment between now and next Sunday, October 6th. Winners will be chosen Monday morning.

Tell me in your comment about your favorite dish, savory or sweet! I love to hear about what foods everyone regards as their favorite. That’s it–comment (and include your email or a way to contact you) and you are entered!

If you would like additional chances to enter, you may also do the following:

– Promote/share my Facebook post promoting Appetite’s print release.
– Post a comment on my/your Facebook about the novel.
– Reblog my Tumblr post promoting Appetite.
– Retweet my author tweet on Twitter regarding Appetite’s paperback.
– Become a fan on Goodreads.
– Make a comment or make a post promoting the novel on your own social venue (any and all – WordPress, LJ, DW, blogspot, just link me so I can verify)

Basically, spread the word in any possible fashion and you can get an additional chance (for each extra action) to win your own signed trade paperback copy of Appetite!

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Thanks for your support! Good luck, bon Appetite, and have a great week!

Guest Blog: Male pregnancy…but not.

Greetings everyone–today we have a guest blog from Lexi Ander, author of the intriguing new debut Alpha Trine. It’s sci-fi, with a twist:

I first wanted to say thank you for having me here. I’m going to try and not bore you today.

When I set out to write Alpha Trine I was following a story prompt that directed there be male pregnancy without the use of technology and one of the main characters must be alien. Even though Alpha Trine is set in the far future on the other side of the universe I decided didn’t want the men to become pregnant.

I know! I know! Male pregnancy means a man somehow becomes pregnant but I wanted something different. So I started looking around at what was currently possible in earth’s environment without the use of technology. Chances are if it exists here, if there is life somewhere else, it could be possible there as well.

There are frogs that switch gender if the opposite sex isn’t available. Male seahorses carry the developing eggs. There are asexual creatures who can procreate by themselves. There are other creatures who have huge territories, when they come across a male they collect the sperm, and hold it in their body in a type of stasis until the creature is ready to procreate. Really, the wild kingdom has so many variations that I could have a supply of alien pregnancy scenarios if I wanted.

In some science fiction stories you can read about a Third Sex. Neither male nor female the third sex is required in some science fiction societies in order for a race to procreate. The perfect example is Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series. (Loved that series)

What about humans? Is there no way for there to be that kind of scenario? I said yes. With a genetic twist, I could see the hermaphrodite identity equal to the sci-fi third sex concept. In today’s reality, it breaks my heart that doctors and parents make a sexual identity decision for children who are born as hermaphrodites, instead of waiting for the child to grow into which ever identity they choose. I have read too many heart breaking stories so I chose to create a central species called the Fal’Amorics where being born a hermaphrodite is celebrated.

Ah! But I didn’t stop there. Dargon is a marsupial lion who shares a symbiotic relationship with Alpha. An interplanetary war stripped two planets of one primary sex. One planet became the homeworld of the females and the other belonged to the males, and they couldn’t stand each other. The Alpha-Zetamites stepped in after the war and offered their assistance by playing middlemen, dare I say the Third Sex, between the males and females of the species. This allowed for Dar Massaga’s, regardless of sex, to be able to procreate since both sexes have the marsupial pouches.

These three species allow for many different scenarios. Even as I wrap up Alpha’s, Dargon’s, and Zeus’s story in Striker, there can be several more different male pregnancy scenarios… but not.

Thank you for stopping by and a warm thank you to Tay for hosting me today. Before I leave with the blurb and an excerpt remember…

I’ll be giving away a paperback copy of Alpha at the end of this blog tour. Every comment on this and the other four posts will be another entry into the drawing. On September 28th I will email the winner at the end of the day, so remember to leave a comment with a way to contact you.

Blog tour schedule:
September 23rd – Babes In Boyland (http://www.babesinboyland.net/)
September 24th – Raining Men (http://rainingmenamen.blogspot.com/)
September 25th – Pants Off Reviews (http://pantsoffreviews.blogspot.com/)
September 26th – World of Diversity Fiction (http://sean-norris.com/)
September 27th – dreaminginfinity (https://dreaminginfinity.wordpress.com/)

Alpha Trine

Blurb:
The sole survivor on a science vessel adrift in deep space, Zeus was adopted by the Emperor and Empress of the Mar’Sani, though he is both human and blind, and seen by most as unfit to join the royal family. Though they were able to repair his vision, Zeus does not trust his eyes and the nobles of his parents’ court refuse to ever trust a frail human.

Dargon Kal-Turak, along with his symbiote and lover Alpha, command one of the most dangerous ships in the stars. Narrowly escaping a trap, they dock in a space port to make repairs, but find that the Psionics hunting them are closing in fast. In desperation they kidnap the port Master Mechanic, unaware that the man they’ve brought on board is more than he seems, and will bring far more upheaval to their ship, their lives, and the stars than any of them could have imagined.

Excerpt:

Prologue

Canry was lost—no—taken.

Empress Ashari ignored her attendants. She knew they would report back to her mate, Emperor Valdor Vondorian, and she cared not. She was hollow inside, the pain turning to a numbness that ate at her core until there was nothing left for her to feel. She refused to pretend everything was normal because it was not. Nothing would ever be normal again because he was gone—stolen. Her youngest son, Canry, had disappeared in the Waters of Poseidon only two short months ago, and yet it seemed like yesterday.

Ashari slipped a hand under the cream-colored pillow and pulled out Canry’s little nightshirt. She had made the weave herself from the finest spyder silk. Ashari handled the material carefully. Her claws were ragged from nervous chewing, and she did not wish for the fine thread to catch on them. Her eyes burned as she tenderly fingered the colorful clothing. Her heart might have been hollow but her tears were rivers that fed the sea.

She wondered what she could have done differently. All Mar’Sani younglings were introduced to the Waters of Poseidon when they turned six lunar months. She and Valdor had been delighted Canry had quickly taken to the waters, more so than the twins or his sister, Shaneva. The youngling had been swimming, diving perfectly at her side and then slithering through the water, his black scales glistening in the sunshine.

She noticed the tips of the barbs that ran along his spine and down his tail were beginning to turn red, a sign of his royal blood. Canry splashed Ashari with his tail and dived into the water—never to surface again. Within moments everyone began searching for the royal youngling. Those who lived in the waters combed the depths and found nothing. Canry was simply gone—disappeared—no trace or body had been found. He had vanished.

Never in Mar’Sani history had a youngling or adult been lost in the Waters of Poseidon. For days Ashari refused to leave the shoreline of the great sea in hopes her son would find his way back home. She spent hours diving and swimming until she was overcome by exhaustion and the attendants pulled her ashore.

Finally, she accepted the fact that Canry would not be coming home. She took to her sick bed and there she stayed.

Every day she ate a little less. Her mate, Valdor, tried his best to console her, but there was little he could do. Poseidon had, for some unknown reason, taken her son, and in a few short years, he would claim their daughter as well.

Their now youngest child, Shaneva, had been showing signs of The Longing prior to Canry’s birth. One in every two thousand younglings born would return to the Waters of Poseidon. These children would eventually choose to reside in the waters over living on land. The reasons for The Longing were unknown, but neither were the children discouraged from the choice. As natural as The Longing was to the Mar’Sani people, Ashari could not help but wonder what she had done that Poseidon would lay claim to two of her four children.

A large Mar’Sani male filled the doorway. His black scales gleamed like polished rock. Dark yellow eyes narrowed at the sight of Ashari lying on the platform, his barbed tail swishing side to side. Resplendent in the imperial red and gold robes, the Emperor strode into the room. Ashari knew that look of determination on his handsome face and was unfazed. She tucked the outfit back under her pillow as Valdor sat on the edge of the low bed.

“Your attendants claim you are not hungry this morning.”

Valdor’s voice was deep, resonating throughout the room.

Ashari refrained from replying for there was nothing to say.

“They also relay you are too tired to rise.” Again, she responded with silence.

Without another world, Valdor unlaced his boots and set them aside before climbing onto the platform. He gently nudged her to rise up, and he slid under Ashari before pulling her down to his chest. He released a great sigh and stroked the smooth ridge of her forehead until her curiosity slowly surfaced.

“What are you doing?” Ashari softly inquired.

“He … Canry was my son too. I miss his laugh. I miss watching him sleep. I miss … Being the emperor requires that I put my personal sorrows aside to care for others, but I cannot keep doing so if I lose my mate as well. I, too, hurt and grieve. I am exhausted and food holds no appeal. So I will lie with my beloved for a time and keep her company in her sorrow.”

Ashari buried her face in the crook of Valdor’s neck, the scales pliant against her cheek. He needed her, Ashari reminded herself, and Valdor never gave up.

Convergence and Rocking Hard 1, up for pre-order!

There are loads of amazing books hitting the Coming Soon page over at Less Than Three Press!

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Newly available for pre-order at a sweet 15% discount, you can grab a copy of Convergence, going up for sale October 8th as part of the “Proud to Be a Vampire” collection.

Chris and Ling travel the world in search of rare, exquisite curiosities, but treasure hunting is rife with danger and comes with a price. In order to retrieve a lost treasure deep within a perilous mountain, Chris hires on a vampire. But traveling with a predator comes with its own risks, and their venture may collapse into absolute loss unless they can each find the opportunity in one another.

Tomorrow’s WIP Wednesday excerpt will be from Convergence, so please look forward to it!

Also up for a pre-order discount is Rocking Hard: Volume One, which includes some awesome tracks, as well as my novella Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues.

Summary:

Bailey Kravitz, lead singer of Courage Wolf, is a high-strung, perfectionist diva of a front man. Gunner Lansing, bassist of Courage Wolf, is a laid-back, hang loose ladies’ man who is only serious about guitars and sex. They say opposites attract, but Bailey’s terminal crush on oblivious Gunner is tearing the band apart. Meanwhile, his longtime friend, quiet but intense guitarist Tor Macleod, helps him pick up the pieces yet again. Between annihilating everything they’ve built and reeling from total rejection, there may be a third option Bailey has been overlooking all this time. Problem is, Bailey’s always been more than a little difficult when he’s out to get his way, and that may ruin his prospects after all.

Don’t miss ’em!

Nibbles and Drinks, Ocean-scented Air, and Gay Romance Everywhere

Today’s entry was meant to be part two of two for what you can do to grow the gay fiction genre, but I’m deferring it for later. A trip retrospective is long overdue, so here it is! Join me on my rambling re-creation of the journey.

On Friday the 13th, my best friend and I made the four and a half hour drive from our home base in Oregon up to Seattle, Washington. The goal: Gay Romance Northwest, a one-day event presented by Old Growth Northwest and sponsored by a number of gay fiction presses, including my publisher, Less Than Three Press, for whom my friend also works as an editor.

We got off to an erratic start. After planning on leaving around noon, I woke up and decided instead of going into work for four hours, I wanted to take it easy that morning and get on the road sooner. We planned on having dinner with a friend up in Seattle who I haven’t seen in years. Leaving at noon to meet up for a six-thirty dinner would cut it awfully close.

There were also other events and socializing that sprang up around the event on Friday, and I wish I’d kept a closer eye on all the information coming from the group discussions on Goodreads. A four-author reading event took place, books by all the attending authors were sold at the university bookstore, and it sounds like a great time was had by all. Next year I’ll hopefully be more on point!

I’m going to divide this up into the three days of our adventures and try not to get too wordy.

Friday

After a quick lunch at Falafel King, our favorite local purveyor of shawerma (the Yemeni owner always corrects my pronounciation, no matter how hard I try), we climbed into my new bb Prius, Calypso, for the long haul. From our home base about an hour and a half south of the border to Seattle itself, we only made one stop, and that was for coffee. At Starbucks. On our way to Seattle. I know.

We arrived around five-ish, hitting a slow crawl of traffic at two points, which really was not bad for a Friday and totaled our journey around four and a half hours. The Hotel Monaco, where we stayed, was very spacious, better than your average Hampton I guess, but after recently staying at L’Hermitage in Vancouver it was obvious it wasn’t as upscale as it wanted you to think. Still, location, location, location. Kitty-corner to the library where the event took place, a stone’s throw from a Starbucks, a bar/restaurant, and any number of great places to eat or hang out, we could not ask for more from the price we paid. (Which made my eyes bulge when I checked out, but that’s another story).

Leaving early was the best of all decisions, because we got there with enough time for each of us to take quick showers to cleanse the sweat of our travels and relax a bit before heading over to the restaurant where we’d arranged to meet my friend.

On the .9 mile walk over, my poor BFF threw her back out. This would be a physical harbinger for her weekend.

Still, we made it to Sitka and Spruce on time, met my friend, and discovered the restaurant had an hour and a half wait. Um…well, we’re in a foodie town, let’s check out our other options. We ended up at Terra Plata on the corner, and merriment was had. I only remembered to tweet a few pics, because we fell on our shared plates like ravening foodies. We had a roasted grape dish with walnuts and blue cheese to start, a risotto that I plated out for the three of us, salmon tartare with house-made chips and a dill puree, and pork belly with an Asian pear slaw. Sooooo good, so yummy. I also had a couple of drinks, including a Seattle Rain Drop that was similar to a lemon drop.

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Afterward, I walked and my poor friend limped back to the hotel and we tweeted back and forth with the LT3 ladies, arranging to meet in the Hotel Monaco’s lobby because of mobility reasons. BFF and I had fully expected the LT3 ladies to crash after their long day, and the events they’d gone through, but they met up with us to hang out and have drinks!

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Trace, across the street, was maybe trying too hard and the music was a little too loud, but the drinks were great and the company even better. I have to say, for me, meeting LT3’s Meg, Sasha, and Samantha was the high point of a pretty darned awesome weekend. They are gracious, great to hang out with, and I felt like I’d known them for years. Next time I’m in NC to visit the parents and aunt and uncle, I hope they’ll let me crash their doorstep and bring them treats, or something.

After drinks, across the street at Hotel Monaco we made a few drunken tweets, using my phone’s wifi hotspot because the hotel wanted to charge us a daily wifi fee, and fell asleep watching the Food Network.

Day One: totally a success, except for that whole backccident. (Look, Meg, I made a word.)

Saturday

Although my iPod would not dock with the hotel alarm clock, probably a sign I should upgrade but why would I when the Classic still works, I did get the alarm set and woke at a reasonable hour to get ready. We had plans to meet up with one of Amanda’s Tumblr acquaintances for brunch, then line up (because free books!) before the event and meet my lovely friend from the night before.

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Sazerac’s was a great corner restaurant tucked along one side of the Monaco. We went out for Starbucks first, given there was an hour and a half between brunch and getting up and moving, and split a pumpkin croissant while we got our morning caffeine fix. Later, Finn Marlowe and her friend told me they had spotted us and thought we were “their people” but the book on the table was surely too thick to be gay romance. Turns out they were talking about Appetite, my pride and joy. I am long-winded? The pumpkin croissant was delightful and, I’m sure, contributed to my 5+ pound weekend gain.

For brunch, I jumped at the chance to enjoy eggs benedict over griddled corn cakes and thick-cut country ham. Bliss. Everything a vacation brunch should be. I also liked the restaurant’s bottomless coffee.

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Across the street, we rendezvoused with friends and rediscovered the LT3 ladies, only for all of us to find there wasn’t much of a place to queue up outside the event location, given the library fire marshall’s code and all. Still, we were at the head of an increasingly long line as more people filtered in. Aside from the fact that the auditorium was roped off and one of the volunteer staff directed us not to block access to the escalators or through-way, there wasn’t much by way of queue management, and people had arrived early–probably for first crack at the free books! The LT3 ladies brought bagsful of stock for the Gay City book drive donation, and headed up the queue. Registration opened slightly past noon, and we poured into the Seattle Library auditorium.

There were some minor bobbles, probably due to communication between the volunteers. The badges were grouped into roughly alphabetical, but not strictly alphabetical, so it took the volunteer some searching to realize my “Andor” badge, which should have been on top, was simply part of the “A” pile. The attendee swag was handed out later, rather than at the door. But the donation drive, free book table, and bookstore table were all clearly visible and easy to access.

After perusing the free book table, we secured excellent seats third row center and settled in to await the opening ceremonies.

Opening ceremonies were some words from Tracy Timmons-Gray, the very capable organizer, and Alexander Haddad, Executive Director of Old Growth Northwest, the event host and organizer. We also had a fabulous keynote from Marlene Harris, which I already expounded upon in an earlier entry. She is the technical services manager for technical and collection services, and spends a vast amount of time reading and reviewing books. She urged us all to return to our communities, recognizing we were from far-flung places, and request the books we want to see at our local libraries. It’s best if authors don’t request their own books, she counseled, as the library will often cotton onto those kinds of requests and they may frown on requests that are clearly a conflict of interest (the author profits off the sales of their book). Friends and fans who live within that library’s community are more than welcome to place requests for the books, but the library does pay attention to usage, and may not purchase more books from that same author if the book isn’t checked out very often.

Following the keynote, the first panel was moderated by the lovely Megan Derr (pronounced “Duhr,” we learned at Trace the night before), and covered the topic of the ins and outs of gay romance with panelists Astrid Amada, Stormy Glenn, Daisy Harris, Ethan Stone, and Anne Tenino. A wide-ranging discussion on topics from the writer perspective ensued, though as an author starting out, I’d have loved to hear more about what it takes to become successful as opposed to getting over first-time jitters and submitting a manuscript. What sort of struggles did the authors have to overcome? What kind of approaches to networking or sitting back to wait and see ended up working for them? All the authors’ answers revolved around clearing the first hurdle, submitting, and not anything beyond that. The answer on reading reviews of their work was interesting, too–the uniform answer was “Don’t, or let your friends vet it first.” Personally I find it useful to read reviews even if I disagree with them. What I am 100% behind: never, ever, ever engage with negative reviews of your own work.

The second panel was Behind the Curtain: Editing, Publishing, and Cover Art, moderated by Tracy Timmons-Gray, the event coordinator, and the panel was composed of editors and cover artists. L.C. Chase, Samantha Derr, Lou Harper, Nicole Kimberling, and Devon Rhodes were in attendance. Some interesting discussions, but my main takeaway was that I was frustrated that questions about diversity of submission got minimalized to “we don’t publish f/f, it doesn’t sell,” and ignoring bisexual and trans*. I am very happy that LT3 accepts the entire queer spectrum. One of the big messages of this panel, beyond an amusing defense of the headless torsos on gay romance covers (truth in advertising, yo!) was for readers to pay attention to house standards, and research their potential publishers before submitting to make sure the publisher and their standards, and their cover artists, will be a good fit.

The third panel was on Diversifying and Evolving the Genre, moderated by Laylah Hunter. Panelists were Heidi Belleau, Kade Boehme, Ginn Hale, Rick R. Reed, and Andrea Speed. This panel contained some of the biggest highs and lows of the event. There were some challenging questions asked, including author Rick Reed turning a question on the audience regarding effeminophobia, or, why do gay romance authors shy away from portrayals of effeminate men? The resounding answer was that authors are either told they’re writing a stereotypical gay man, a woman in a gay man’s body (I won’t use the trans* offensive term that was yelled out), or flat-out told by editors to rein in or alter portrayals of effeminate men. I was warned by my own editor to expect some backlash for my portrayal of a male beauty blogger who wears makeup and is very much into fashion. Yet these men exist, and editing them out or criticizing women for portraying them is rooted in effeminophobia, which many authors traced back to its root cause–misogyny. There’s a dismaying amount of misogyny even in our reader/writer base, where you’d hope and think that we, women and gay men, could be past that.

There were good discussions, but not enough time. Questions about the lack of diversity, limiting queer fiction to male/male, and shutting out lesbians, bisexuals, and trans*, were not fully addressed. There was an overwhelming amount of material and topics to mine, and no shortage of lively discussion.

Afterward, I picked up some titles I’d been eyeing during the breaks, and was pleased to bustle right up to Heidi Belleau to snag an autograph. We went from the Seattle Library to Happy Hour (actually happy three hours) at the Hotel Monaco across the street and ouch, I thought happy hour drinks were supposed to be discounted – these weren’t. Still, I grabbed my rum and coke, filled my plate with an array of delectable nibbles, and sought out my seat.

While it was great to have an author seat at the table, I ended up ditching it (after getting the Irregulars signed by the very personable Astrid Amara), to hang out with my friends and the LT3 pillars of editing and author/tech support, Sam and Sasha.

A few tidbits of feedback from the newbie author perspective–there was very little by way of new author support for Gay Rom NW authors. It seemed tilted a great deal more toward established authors, leaving it completely contingent on me to a) figure out what the expectations were, and b) drum up any interest in me or my books for the event. I’m sure I missed a great deal not being as active as I possibly could on the Goodreads forum, but if there was some kind of handy checklist for attending authors, means of asking for more promotion, or call to action that would have gotten me better involved, I either missed it or believe it’s very much needed. Overall my impression of the event was the famous authors knew what they were doing, and I was there to take notes and try to figure out what to do better next time. Also, the Goodreads forum was somewhat difficult because it was extremely active and hard to keep up with, and it was intimidating because everyone participating was so much bigger and more confident. This little fishy will try to do better for Rainbow Con 2014.

At some point I suppose that means trying to procure self-promoting swag.

Another note–the author/reader ratio seemed very high. If the attendee total was where I remember it, it seemed like authors and writers were at or around half of the total attendees. In my own personal opinion, this can hurt the dynamics of such an event for reasons I won’t expound on, this entry already being too long, but I can’t suggest capping author attendance either because I’m not sure that’s the solution.

Happy Hour involved circulating with authors, nibbles, drinks, and later on there were author readings, unfortunately after most of the crowd had thinned out. There were only a few devotees left by the end of the evening, and for me it was easy to see why–I was starving!! If our dinner reservations hadn’t been until 9, I would have begged for us to leave early, too. The snacks were most welcome, especially healthy options like fruit, but ultimately not enough to sustain me from brunch all the way to a 9 pm dinner. I’d thought about keeping snacks in my purse before leaving, and dismissed the idea as being too food-obsessive. It was a fun event, maybe a little long. Marlene Harris spent some time with our little group, and it was great to sit down and talk video games and book reviews–she reviews a loooooot of them! Tracy Timmons-Gray also checked in, and she looked so exhausted I wanted to wrap a blanket around her. Conversations continued in all directions on subjects ranging from the event and topics from earlier in the day, to all the kinds of things you’d discuss with friends.

Regarding the readings–I was on the fence about whether to do one or not, but it turns out there was either a sign-up for them, or they were invite-only. Another thing I must have missed, not being as active as I should have on the Goodreads group. Either way, I wish that had been a little more clear on the day of. Though I still can’t decide if I would have done it or not, because everyone was doing erotic readings, and mine would have been a UST-laden moment.

Afterward, we went with the Less Than Three ladies and Piper Vaughn and our friends to Benihana where they made us wait, grr, and we were all starving! At last we were all seated, though, and it was a good if somewhat subdued time. By that point, most of us were very tired. When I told Kitty that the chef flips shrimp tails at people, she looked at me with disbelief and asked if I was serious. I grinned at her when, sure enough, the chef flipped some shrimp tails around some of the table’s occupants, including me.

It was a long day, we came away from it with our heads buzzing with information and our bags bursting with swag and new books, and once again fell asleep to the Food Network on television.

Sunday

A little less exciting–brunch, then homeward bound! One of the notifications on my phone was for discussions from the Goodreads forum, where I discovered there was dim sum and other stuff going on in the area. The Less Than Three ladies had to be airport-bound by three in the morning, and my heart goes out to them. And Amanda and I had to decide if we were going to make our way to Pike’s Place, or get brunch and go.

Turns out Amanda had pulled her leg the night before, on top of her already-out back. So we conferred with friends, and ate at Sazerac’s again before heading out. I had wanted to go to Pike’s Place and hit up a charming French bakery and get some macarons as a souvenir. However, I wasn’t willing to drive there. When we checked out, that was it–we were hitting the highway or bust. So instead, we met up with Kitty, Liz and her husband Alex, and had a really nice brunch. Once again, conversation was excellent and wide-ranging. I wish I could meet up with all of you lovely folks more often!

The trip back was much shorter, about three and a half hours compared to four and a half. We stopped twice, once for a horrible McDonald’s pumpkin spice latte which I ended up throwing out, and then for a late lunch at Panera on the way home. We talked more about the panels we’d attended the day before, and some of the issues we personally experienced with the genre.

It was a good experience. They will be organizing a Gay Romance Northwest 2014 for September 13th, and I will definitely go again. I’ll make sure to utilize all of the resources I can in advance to try and be better prepared. And my utmost gratitude to all of the organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees who made it possible!

Pre-order time: Rocking Hard Vol One!

Time to rock out with your…ahem. Maybe I shouldn’t finish that.

It’s almost here!

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You can pre-order Rocking Hard Vol One and save 15% off if you purchase direct from the press!

The anthology features a great range of hot, rocking good times, and includes my novella, Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues. All blurbs for the five stories are available at the link.

Like several of my stories, Courage Wolf features characters who don’t fall into the traditional gay paradigm. Tor is bisexual, Bailey identifies as gay but he’s been with women and believes that love knows no boundaries, and he certainly hopes to pull Gunner over the line into man-love with him. Drummer Sasha isn’t saying.

My story follows Bailey’s personal love crisis, but the trappings of their rock star life style are a strong background throughout as they go from massive stage performances to clubs to photo shoots and even a radio show appearance.

This is something I can’t wait for you all to read!

WIP Wednesday: My Sexual Superhero

Today’s excerpt is the story I just started, My Sexual Superhero, which I intend to submit to the Satisfaction Guaranteed call–that is, if I can rein it in and keep it under the submission limit! Already I’m side-eyeing the outline and wondering if I can manage to fill it in less than 30k.

Without further ado! I have a summary I came up with just yesterday, followed by the first thousand words that I wrote just today.

    “Jessan Pierce would rather spend the night with his Doctor Who collection having tea out of the Tardis than go dancing, but his best friend Maria knows what he really needs is to shake off the doldrums and get out of his well-worn groove. Felipe de la Rosa is just his type, short, well-built, and as ready with a smart-mouthed quip as he is to take his shirt off. The chemistry that works great between the sheets seems to fizzle outside the bedroom, though, and Jessan may prove too chicken to take the chance to put himself out there with Felipe, as well as the other big leap he’s facing in his life.”

“Oh my God, you are such a huge geek.”

Jessan leveled an irritated squint at his friend Marina and raised a hand, casually displaying his middle finger before using it to tuck a braid of cornrowed hair behind one ear. The Tardis-blue bead at the braid’s base clicked against its mates. “Which part of me? What was your first clue?” He covered the mouthpiece of his headset and frowned at Marina. “And why would you bust in making announcements when I’ve got my headset on? I could be taking a call.”

Marina flicked her pointer finger toward Jessan’s Bluetooth. “It’s not lit up.” She folded her arms and smirked at him. “And, another TeeFury shirt? Really? You know that no one gets those obscure jokes—”

“Except the people who are into that stuff; yeah, I know,” Jessan interrupted. “But I like it. And we don’t have a dress code in the cubicle farm, which is the one good thing about it, so I’m going to wear what I like, and you can wear your clown suits.” He gestured to her immaculate pinstriped pants.

“It’s not a pantsuit!” Marina exclaimed, tugging on the hem of her white blouse and shooting him a mock glare. “It’s dressing to impress, because I’m moving up in the world. And I barged in because it’s time for break.”

Jessan lifted his head to catch a glimpse of the clock. “So it is.” He scooted his chair forward far enough to look up and down the aisle, scanning a wary eye in all directions for their supervisor, Darnell. “He won’t like it if we go at the same time.”

“Balls to what he likes.” Marina waved a hand. “Let’s go. I’ll beg forgiveness—”

“And I’ll be the one who’s sorry,” Jessan muttered, but he pushed up from his chair and fell into step behind Marina with the feeling he was slinking out rather than taking his duly allowed break time.

Behind the call center building, there were two areas for employees to take their breaks: the sheltered haven beneath an awning, right beside the door, and the smokers’ pavilion further out, a mandated thirty feet from the building entrance. In colder weather, people could be seen huddled singly or in groups, shoulders hunched miserably against the elements as they got their nicotine fix. It was a muggy spring evening right then, and everyone outdoors either taking a walk or standing around chatting or checking their phones.

Jessan’s phone cleared his pocket the moment he was out the door. He almost bumped into Marina as she turned to give him an amused look.

“Anything good?” she asked. Her own phone was in her hand.

“Atelier Geek is having a sale,” Jessan said, half to her, half to himself as he considered the benefits of the BOGO against the relative weak performance of his bank account. He had rent, bills, and his stomach to consider, and wasn’t sure if he was up for another month of ramen and tuna fish.

“Jessan Pierce!” Marina exclaimed, and Jessan jerked his eyes up, mouth dropping open to object at her tone. “Why don’t you stow the phone and pay attention to the person beside you for five minutes out of fifteen?”

“What? You were checking your texts.” His tone was defensive, but Jessan slipped his phone into his back pocket.

“Yeah, because I was waiting to hear back from Blanca, but she’s out,” Marina said. She leveled a painted finger in his direction. “So you’re in.”

“In for what? No,” Jessan said. He didn’t need to hear an answer to be sure he wasn’t interested in Marina’s plans. They would involve going out, and he was a ‘staying in’ sort of guy.

“Come on, Jessan; wouldn’t you rather come out and have fun instead of staying in and playing Minecraft all night?” Marina clasped her hands together and aimed wide eyes at him.

Jessan returned the look with a skeptical expression. “I came out years ago, so that’s not an issue. Playing Minecraft is fun for me, even if it’s not for you, so trying to nerd-shame me, again, isn’t going to work.”

Marina stuck her tongue out. “Fine.” She abandoned that line of attack for another. “When’s the last time you got laid, Jessan?”

He slumped and looked out across the pavilion beside the building, not ignoring her so much as stalling for time. It was hard to explain to Marina, so pretty and outgoing, that it was more than introversion keeping him from a night out at a club, party, or whatever venue she had in mind. It was hard for a short, skinny, geeky half-Jamaican, half Persian kid to get a date on a good night, but any place where people were in it for looks and unable to hear witty repartee over the bass reverb, Jessan was out of luck. He would strike out before he got his hand stamped.

“A while,” Jessan replied. He folded his arms. “And it’ll probably be a while longer.”

“With that attitude, you’re damn right!” Marina swatted the back of his shoulder with a light touch. “Come out with me. I need a wing man.”

Jessan sighed, glanced Marina’s direction, and rolled his eyes. She had her lips pursed in what she probably thought was a cute pout, but looked more like a duck-lipped selfie.

“I’ll buy you drinks.” She hung off his shoulder, her tone wheedling. “Come on, I can’t go alone.”

That, at least, Jessan could not dispute. It was risky for any of his female friends to go alone, but twice as worse for Marina, who wasn’t white and was leery not only of overeager fratboys, but getting shaken down if the cops cruised by and were in a profiling mood.

“Ugh.” Jessan refused to make a verbal response that sounded like a concession. “You’ll buy me drinks until you go off with some hot hook-up and leave me at the bar.”

Marina huffed. “Would I do that?”

“If you knew the guy and wanted to get into his pants, yeah,” Jessan said.

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