writing

Throwback Thursday: The Appetite series

Appetite is still going strong!

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I should have been working on a prior commitment these past couple of months. I should have, but an Appetite story, Five Stars Rising, snuck its way into my heart, insisted to be written, and now I have 50k+ words completed and waiting for a cool-off session before I do a self-edit and find one last beta reader before submission. (And if you’re interested, by all means feel free to volunteer.)

Most recently, Boys on the Brink gave A Cut Above the Rest a lovely review and I certainly hope Jamie continues to read and enjoy the series.

Appetite is my tale of attraction, distrust, hot tempers and hotter guys in the kitchen. It goes from behind-the-scenes fine dining to competitive cooking and back again, as Alex and Nik battle for supremacy with their cuisine and their growing desires for one another.

There’s no better time to check out the series! Add any one of the books, or the Appetite compilation, to your cart at Less Than Three Press, enter “ANDOR” for your coupon code, and save 20%! But act now, because my featured author savings is good only through the end of this month.

Are you excited to hear about another installment of Appetite?

Awkward writers anonymous

What is it about writing something in public spaces that makes people feel entitled to ask about your writing, or even to read it? This happens to me on a semi-regular basis and I’m still struggling with ways to respond that don’t outright alienate the person inquiring or somehow embolden them and make them even more persistent in their questioning. These people approach me in the hallway, in the break room where I write during my breaks and lunches, or even on one memorable occasion in the bathroom, and they bludgeon me with well-meaning but very annoying questions that I can’t answer to their satisfaction.

It’s so very tempting to print up a blunt FAQ and tape it to the lid of my laptop monitor.

FAQ for the Excessively Curious:

Q: What are you doing on your laptop all the time?
A: Usually one or more of five things – writing, editing, reading, watching videos, or procrastinating.

Q: You mentioned writing! I know someone who writes/I always wanted to write/I am someone who reads the products of writers. What do you write?
A: A variety of writing from short stories to novellas, in a variety of genres.

Q: That was awfully broad and didn’t really answer my question. Do you not want to tell me what you’re working on?
A: It was a shallow answer for a shallow question. At any given moment I am usually working on half a dozen projects*, all of which would take too much time to explain to you in the small amount of time I can spare in this, my personal break time, during which I would prefer to be writing. If this sounds surly, you don’t know many actual writers.

Q: Okay, maybe it’s none of my business. But what you’re doing sounds really interesting despite, or because of, the enigmatically limited amount of information you’ve provided. Can I read it when you’re done?
A: What I write is such a specific sub-genre of fiction it’s not only something you wouldn’t be interested in, you would be actively uncomfortable if I shared it, so in order to spare you embarrassment and awkwardness, I must decline. I have plenty of pre-readers at this time, thanks.

Q: I’m just trying to show interest in something that you’re doing which has nothing to do with me!! Why are you so secretive? TELL ME MORE! Seriously, what are you writing?
A: ARE YOU FIVE, GO AWAY. Consider that if someone doesn’t want to tell you about something, they are probably not being coy and have a good reason for not telling you. Besides the obvious: it’s none of your business.

* Current projects:
– Just wrapped galley proof for Body Option
– Awaiting second publisher edits for Klaxon at the Core
– Working on re-write for The More Plausible Evil
– Working on pre-submission beta edits for Dragonspire
– Working on pre-publisher edit draft for Castle on a Cloud
– Writing highly illicit** Appetite-spinoff novella
– Awaiting publisher first edit for My Sexual Superhero
– Awaiting publisher first edit for Like Stolen Pearls
– Germinating ideas for mistletoe fic for upcoming anthology call
– Germinating ideas for In Lesbians (working title), my lesbian enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance
– Back burner: Which Boy (working title), an uncommon paranormal love quadrangle
– Back burner: Beta edits to re-cut Casting the Bones into a YA novel

** I’m not supposed to be working on it, look at all the other stuff I have to do.

Huh, I guess that’s an actual dozen. To be fair I’m only actively engaged in four of those and waiting on the others, or they are waiting for me to have time to work on them.

If I were a less polite, diplomatic person, this would be easier. It’s very difficult to satisfy these prurient people while at the same time honestly answering their questions and not revealing the things I really can’t tell them: in short, I’m writing something that’s not appropriate to discuss in the workplace, but I am doing it on my own time on my own laptop.

Moreover, I write queer spectrum fiction. The substantial majority of my co-workers are Christian. They don’t just read Christian fiction on their downtime. Some of them sit in that room and read their Bibles. My experience with the typical Christian has taught me avoidance in terms of discussing queer culture in general. I’m not being down on Christians, here; it’s simply how things have gone in my personal experience. The revelation that I have a female partner, disclosed to a small and select few, has already gotten me treated like I have a disability we’re all too polite to talk about. (Two of my co-workers still refer to her as my “roommate.” I have never called her that.)

It doesn’t even matter that I write a sub-genre of fiction that none of these interested parties would ever want to read. There is a weird sense of entitlement in the people who’ve asked about my writing, as though they have a right to inquire and get answers simply because they know I write. When I dodge and deflect questions like “what are you writing” or “are you finished with that story you were working on?” with answers like “I write a lot of things,” or “depends on which one,” people get huffy that I’m not giving them straight-out answers. It’s as though they don’t recognize the social cue that a lack of answer means the answer is one they’re not entitled to. Because at the end of the day, what I write is none of their business, regardless of where I’m doing it. And I didn’t volunteer the information that I’m a writer–they asked, because they saw me doing it in a public space.

The most straightforward response would probably be to say something like “I prefer not to say,” but even then most people react poorly to being rebuffed … even when it’s something that really is none of their concern. It’s as though they think, by my act of setting up a laptop and writing in public, I have invited their engagement or solicited their interest somehow.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you get asked these or similar questions? I’d be interested to hear if you have any clever responses or alternative methods of handling the nosy but well meaning inquiries when they come up.

WIP Wednesday: Dragonspire

Sorry it’s been so long since the last one. I’ve had more busy than you can shake a stick at, between work, edits, a vacation that had precious little free time, and discovering renewed productivity with HabitRPG. (It’s a wonderful thing.)

Dragonspire began its life as my 2013 Nanowrimo project. I ended up finishing it in mid-January and its final word count clocked in around 150k. It’s a bit longer than I was hoping, but there was a lot of story to tell. It’s out for its first edit right now.

The tagline, summary pending:

    “He went up the mountain to save the maiden. He pledged himself to the dragon. And together, they set out to save both humanity and dragonkind from the greatest threat to both.”

Echo paced the terrace with his hands clasped behind his back, gazing with brooding eyes out on the grayed vista of the Crown as the purple and navy mantle of night wrapped around the spires. If he were in dragon form, his tail would be lashing, short irritated bursts gusting through his nose. He remained in human form partly on the prospect of Gideon seeking him out but also to lessen the damage that a lashing tail could do.

It had been so long for Echo that he had begun to think no one would arrive at the Wroughtspire to pledge to him. It was merely a waypost for all the humans seeking passage to another world.

Yet Gideon was already from another, and he had come seeking Echo. It was all too neat, and Echo fretted at the idea of it the way he would worry it with his talons if the problem had a physical shape.

He had put word to Chant and Blaze to join him at the heart of the Wroughtspire and they had agreed. That would take as much time as he’d allotted Gideon for rest and refreshment. It was more than enough time for Echo to pace, and overthink the matter.

There was no person better suited to pledge to him than someone carrying the Amicus Draconis. Echo brought a hand up and began to gnaw at the knuckle, looking up at the icy moon as she made her ascent. Gideon smelled interested, seemed suitable, and yet … and yet …

For the Callardans, it would be like an act of war. Taking their champion and accepting his pledge would be provocation on an order that had not been offered in centuries. Already Echo had been transferring many promising youth through the Nexus but they had been the dispossessed, the ones who did not belong.

Echo’s thoughts shifted to the political ramifications of the day. The high priestess herself had come to his spire to challenge him, bringing with him a champion who had indeed been armed with a sword that could have destroyed him—if he’d plunged it into the Nexus. The Amicus Draconis had been gifted to the humans so long ago as a sign of trust between their races.

Chrysania had been swift to flee when the tables had turned on her, but her schemes would stop there. Of that much Echo was certain. He could not hazard to guess her next move because she was human, and there were profound differences in the way they thought. He would have to consult with Gideon.

Gideon, Gideon … all his thoughts led back to Gideon, from the moment he had made that most startling pronouncement. In a single moment he had withdrawn his allegiance to the Callardans because he had seen something within Echo, recognized him. For his part, Echo had recognized it when the Nexus responded to the pledge.

He put aside those thoughts and turned from the terrace to return to his own human quarters.

The space within the spire was divided, dragon-sized quarters for the most part but they alternated with adjoining human-sized suites. Echo and his kind could take human shape, and diverse others. They preferred human shape for the books, as well as the nimble hands that made so many tasks possible. Even though the humans had reviled and turned on them so many centuries ago, Echo had been raised to respect them and treat all those who came through his spire with the same courtesy he would accord another dragon.

He possessed a wardrobe extensive enough to satisfy his vanity, and changed into green robes that complemented his eyes. Gideon had not seemed offput by the scarred one, looking fascinated as he met its gaze as easily as the other. That was a promising factor.

A flamelike tongue of light appeared near his head as he finished robing himself, tugging on boots of black minotaur leather and stamping them to a good fit.

Cousin, we are near, Blaze’s voice said near his head. We shall emerge beside the Wroughtspire’s heart within the hour.

Echo nodded and the messenger light dissolved into brilliant sparks akin to a candle blown out. He drew in a deep, steadying breath and went to the quarters he’d assigned Gideon—quarters adjoining his own human suite.

Before he could raise his hand to pull the cord, the opaque crystalline surface cleared and wavered like a drop falling onto still water. It vanished, leaving the doorway open with Gideon standing on the threshold. Their eyes met.

“Oh,” Gideon said, head lifting. “I did not expect—”

“A great many things, so you’ve told me,” Echo replied, and risked a smile. Relief washed through him when Gideon matched it. “My cousins are near. I see you found the clothes.”

Gideon smoothed his hand down the golden-brown shirt with its voluminous sleeves. It suited his coloring, and Echo wanted to draw him in and breathe his scent. He looked so much the better for having rested and bathed. His eyes crinkled when he smiled. They were brown with subtle golden flecks and Echo was fascinated by their uncommon hue. Most eyes were gem tones save the rare human and even those tended to be solid colors.

“Yes, thank you. I hope you don’t consider these to be mercenary clothes, too.” Gideon’s eyes crinkled again as he met Echo’s eyes.

Echo had to hold his breath for an instant and remind himself it was unseemly to ravish someone with lips and teeth when they’d scarcely met. “Mercenary? Why—oh, the Callardans.”

“Yes, apparently only mercenaries wear trousers.” Gideon’s mouth quirked, and Echo had a powerful urge to reach up and trace the corner with his fingers, feel the curve beneath them. “And you’re wearing robes as well.”

“I have a wider experience of the world than simply Callar-dune,” Echo replied with a faint smirk of his own. “As to the robes, I prefer the style. I’m accustomed to freedom of movement as a dragon, and the pants are rather more restrictive than I like.”

“I guess that rules out underwear, then.” The statement seemed to slip from Gideon unbidden, and his cheeks turned red while he rubbed at his neck.

“Under … wear,” Echo puzzled out the meaning through the words, and laughed. “Garments underneath? I’ve never seen the point of that.”

“Forget I mentioned it,” Gideon muttered.

“Why should I do that? It’s rather amusing,” Echo said. He stepped closer, tilting his head, observing Gideon with delight. “You’re blushing.”

“And I’d love to move on to other topics,” Gideon said with a trace of desperation. “You came to get me?”

“Ah, yes.” Echo collected himself and stepped back. “My cousins approach. If you will take my hand, we can be waiting for them at the heart of the mountain.”

Gideon nodded and offered his hand.

Echo gave him brief, happy smile and clasped it. Gideon’s fingers were warm, his skin a golden hue unlike the darker tones of the Callardans, or the pale skin of most dragons whose pigment did not alter in the sun. Altogether he was pleasing in every aspect. Well suited, he thought but did not dare voice aloud.

He concentrated on the dark gray cavern deep within the Wroughtspire, the place that allowed access to the great black crystal itself. Between one moment and the next, they were there.

“How did you do that?” Gideon exclaimed, fingers tightening around Echo’s. “Oh, it’s dark.”

Echo willed a handful of spheres into existence, sending them out to the darker corners of the cavern. It was one place that remained a ragged chamber hewn by volcanic action, the fissures and cracks of pressure and time, and steady drips of water. He and his ancestors had not set their design to shaping the heart of the mountain, given it was the one place that sprang from the Motherdrake rather than their own making.

“Better?” Echo asked, keeping his voice even when it threatened to tremble with excitement. Showing Gideon to the very seat of the mountain was a monumental step. He could not fully articulate to any human, let alone one from another world, what a tremendous show of trust it was.

WIP Wednesday returns: The Mistletoe Maneuver

After the long, hard marathon of Nanowrimo, WIP Wednesday makes its triumphant return! And you’d think I would start sharing the manuscript I spent those frantic thirty days writing, but you’d be wrong. Dragonspire is not yet ready for reading consumption.

Instead, I’m going to share the first part of a story I’m kind-of, sort-of writing for Christmas, with the hopes I’ll finish it up on the plane on my way to Chicago later this month. The prompts were mistletoe and May/December, so I’m bringing those elements together along with my own little twist.

This one doesn’t have a summary yet, so I’m just going to launch right into it.

The Mistletoe Maneuver

The worst of all Christmas carols was jangling out its jaunty theme of cuckolding and maternal adultery when Kenneth Whitaker crossed the polished expanse of marble that took him across the vast glass-walled lobby. Kenneth clenched his back teeth and put on a smile for the benefit of Sheila, the receptionist, as he bent to sign in at the front desk. “Seems unfair that they keep you working while everyone else goes upstairs to party,” Kenneth said, as though he hadn’t been working sixty hours a week through the holidays for the past fifteen years. The Vanderbrandt company party was the one free pass for all executives.

Sheila gave him a brief show of red, red lips stretched over very white teeth. “After I sign everyone in, I lock the lobby doors and I get to go upstairs, too,” she replied. “We party all night, after all. I don’t begrudge everyone else the head start.”

Kenneth nodded. Someone from the Vanderbrandt group had left out a Montblanc to sign the register and he penned his name with an offhand flourish, dropping it into the bend where the pages met. He paused and scanned over the list of those present, but wasn’t quite bold enough to flip back a page. “Anyone from the Yamato group here yet, Sheila?”

That earned Kenneth a smirk. “Funny you should ask, when one of them wanted to know if you were here already. Twenty minutes ago.”

“Oh.” Kenneth squared his shoulders and pulled in a slow breath. Time to face the music. Hopefully it would at least be a different carol upstairs. “Better not keep them waiting, then.”

Kenneth’s short walk to the sleek silver escalators beyond the front desk was the march of a soldier going to battle. The Yamato group meant a very specific Yamato would be there waiting for him. The fact that Zach had asked Sheila was his advance notice that yet again, the hunt was on.

The elevator ascended, and Kenneth’s stomach attempted to stay on the ground floor. It had been years since he’d seen Zach Yamato–too young, too sleekly gorgeous, too precocious–and fended off his wandering hands and blunt proposition. He had to close his eyes for a moment to steady himself. “I’ve wanted you for years,” Zach had breathed into his ear, attempted to kiss him, and only when he’d pointed upward with a cheeky grin had Kenneth realized he’d been steered directly under the mistletoe at a darkened corner of the ballroom dance floor.

Kenneth’s eyes popped open when a chiming note heralded the arrival of his elevator at the party floor. The entire top floor of the Vanderbrandt building was a stadium-sized atrium complete with towering crystal skylight and sleek steel girders. They were draped for the occasion with boughs of evergreen punctuated with the bright red splash of holly. A woodsy scent assailed Kenneth’s nose as he stepped out of the elevator, gift bag dangling from the crook of his arm. The anonymous gift swap took place at midnight, and a table already piled high and wide was pushed up against a wall to his right. The table itself was covered in shiny mylar reminiscent of gift wrap. Kenneth added his contribution to the precarious stacks.

He turned to assess the brewing party for danger zones. Christmas with a more rock-driven beat drifted through hidden speakers, and the press of people was hidden partially from view by the staggered placement of three towering firs decked with all the tinsel and lights they could bear. A gauntlet of familiar faces stood between Kenneth and the wet bar at the far end, and the DJ was out of sight in a crow’s nest on the second level that wrapped around one side of the atrium. The other side opened onto a terrace that afforded one of the most spectacular views the city had to offer.

Yamato Senior was visible enough, standing in clear view within a cluster of the Vanderbrandt group’s most elite executives. As always, he wore an impeccably tailored suit and his slight frame and iron-gray hair provided no other tells for the massive clout he wielded. His bodyguards stood an unobtrusive distance apart, hands clasped in front of them, eyes shielded with dark glasses even indoors. His translator Reiko was beside him, stunning in a champagne-colored off the shoulder dress, her black hair newly clipped into a pixie cut. She was all smiles in contrast to Yamato’s stoic face.

There were other important players present, Kenneth noted, accounting for his colleagues, their allies, even a few key business rivals. The Vanderbrandt group’s Christmas parties were legendary, and not to be missed. He started out across the maze of mingling associates and headed for the far side of the room, keeping a weather eye out for a certain youthful storm.

The last time Kenneth had seen Zach, he had promised to make the same offer the following year, and reminded Kenneth he wouldn’t have the excuse of his being underage to turn him down. That had been three years ago.

Queer Romance Blog Hop: Diversity & Inclusion Version

Welcome to the Queer Romance Blog Hop, where queer writers and readers of queer romance share their thoughts on the genre, as well as a few recommendations for books to read! Everyone participating in this blog hop identifies as queer and also reads and/or writes (or edits, or reviews!) queer romance. For our purposes, queer romance refers to books with:

1. LGBTQ+ main characters
2. In romantic relationships
3. That have a happy ending. (No Brokeback Mountain here, folks!)

I’m Talya, and I’ve been publishing queer fiction through Less Than Three Press for a little over a year now and writing it for much, much longer. I’ve been reading queer fiction since around 1997/1998 back when fiction selection was slim pickings: one shelf, and we were lucky if the bookstore carried even that much. Interestingly enough, that one shelf always seemed to be across, or around the corner from, the Christian non-fiction. I used to work at a Big&Name bookstore and I would trawl the general fiction section while shelving … sometimes you could find gay fiction that way, but it was like searching for Easter eggs. Not only was it difficult, but often you’d find something that was not really to your taste.

It’s been amazing to see how things have really grown and changed over the past decade plus, but at the same time, it seems like there’s still a lot of room for expansion.

1. Let’s start off with the getting-to-know-you stuff: How do you identify and what does that mean to you? Whatever level of detail you’re comfortable with, of course!

I am a bisexual woman, and I’ve been partnered for over ten years with another woman. To a lot of people this would mean I’m a lesbian, as though my sexual preference is tied to the person I’m with rather than who I am. Being with a woman for this long doesn’t make me a lesbian; it makes me monogamous. I think (and research supports) that a lot of bisexuals don’t self-identify because we’re not really well accepted by either straight or queer communities, so we tend to hide who we are in order to make other people more comfortable. It’s easier for someone with a female partner to simply say they’re a lesbian because that’s what most people understand. But I am, and always have been, attracted to people of both male and female genders.

Bisexuality was something that was difficult, at first, for me to come to terms with because there was virtually no representation when I was growing up. You were either straight (the default) or gay (deviant), and I didn’t identify with either. In fact, I fought being associated with the queer community at first because I was attracted to the opposite gender, so that meant I “had” to be straight. It was only once I got deeper into researching sexuality and gender that I started to realize, and admit to myself, that not only was bisexuality an option—it’s been a part of me from a very young age. I simply never had the cultural background to recognize it.

2. What’s your preferred “flavour” of queer romance (e.g. trans*, f/f, m/m, menage with queer characters, etc.) Why?

I don’t have a strong preference for any unless being “in the mood” for one or the other would be expressing a preference at the time. I’ve read and enjoyed all varieties, from trans* fiction, to f/f and m/m, poly in various configurations, and I’d love to read and write a great deal more permutations including and beyond those mentioned above. I enjoy the full spectrum of “queerness,” if you will, and I absolutely delight in finding and reading more than the standard fare. Diversity in fiction is a hugely important issue to me, and it’s reflected in my purchasing habits.

3. Do you write/read/review? Do you think being queer affects your participation or platform in romancelandia?

I write, and I think it’s absolutely affected my participation in romancelandia. For one, I don’t see an overwhelming amount of bisexual or pansexual characters represented. Because that’s a component of my own identity, that’s something that has been reflected in my own writing. Several of my published works include bisexual characters. In one work, the world-building assumes that bisexuality is the default with acceptable preferences to either same or opposite gender. I’ve also tended to include characters that, in my opinion, go against what is generally touted in romancelandia to be the typical gay male main character.

4. What drew you to queer romance?

This seems like a simple question that has a very involved, complicated answer for me! I can’t really boil it down to any one factor. I think at first I had an intense fascination with queer fiction because it was like an entirely new realm of romance opening up to me, and it was something kind of taboo and compelling and embattled. A lot of queer people both exist outside the norm and feel like they are pushed outside it, and I identified with that very strongly and was drawn to it. I was drawn to it for prurient as well as non-prurient reasons. There was a lot of raw sexuality and boundary-pushing in queer fiction, as well as character dynamics, that didn’t exist in the hetero romances I’d read. There was also tragedy—a lot of gay fiction didn’t get happy endings back when I first started reading it, and I wanted happy outcomes for a lot of fictional characters I came to care deeply for. I’m pleased to say the happy ending has come within our grasp and become more plausible, at least. And the happy ending (not to mention the sweet, sweet sexual payoff) is why I favor romance over fiction in general.

5. What do you love about queer romance in general, and/or your specific subgenre?

I love that anything is possible. The sky really is the limit as far as the kinds of characters I write and what kind of people they become, who they love and how they choose to express themselves. There’s always something fresh and new and interesting to write, and new and compelling stories to tell.

6. What’s your pet peeve?

That’s a loaded question. I’m going to assume this is intended to mean what’s my pet peeve about queerness in romancelandia. I would have to say my biggest pet peeve is placing limits on queerness, as though your characters have to meet some marketability checklist before they’re allowed to go forward. Diversity and inclusion is an extremely important issue for me, and I feel like we see a lot of cis* white stereotypically masculine men in queer fiction when the queer community contains a whole lot more than that. I want to see more people from all walks of life.

Conventional wisdom says write what you know; I say the hell with that. Write what’s out there in the world, and if it’s not your personal experience, ask, do research, talk to people, find out more and give an accurate representation of others’ experiences. I want to see and read about more people of color, people with disabilities, people from other countries, people of different sizes and attractiveness indexes, and absolutely more queer people from across the entire spectrum. It’s not only lesbian fiction that is under-represented: it’s genderqueer people, pansexuals, bisexuals, trans* people, and asexuals. Asexuals can be involved in romance too, people!

Basically my pet peeve is lack of representation for more than just a single, narrow slice of what being queer is all about.

(*Cis = people who identify with the gender that corresponds with the sex they present at birth.)

7. What growth would you like to see in the genre, going forward? Any ideas on how to accomplish that?

Absolutely more representation. I think there’s so much room to grow in every direction. We need to start writing for it, but I think publishers need to be encouraged to ask for it as well, maybe by broadening their submission standards, but also with targeted submission calls.

8. Do you seek out other queer authors when you read?

I’m really wide open with my reading preferences. If the author is telling a good story with compelling characters, then I’m there. What I’ve noticed, though, is if I find out that a particular author is queer, I definitely tend to gravitate more toward their work to check it out if I haven’t already, or to continue to support and read it if I already enjoy them. I was so excited to discover Fiona Patton was married to Tanya Huff! I’d really enjoyed her Branion books and that was just icing on the cake for me.

9. How do you feel, in general, about straight peoples’ participation in reading, writing, and reviewing queer romance?

I think it’s great. I’m all for making our experiences more accessible and relatable to straight people. It’s easier for people to become allies if they have something to latch onto and understand. And fiction—telling our stories and sharing how we love—really brings people together in a way like nothing else besides food, in my opinion.

I would never tell people not to read, write, or review queer romance. I might, however, caution people who aren’t queer to keep an open mind about our genre—it’s not always going to be something from their own experience, and they ought to be prepared to be accepting of “otherness.” If a straight person says “that’s not what gay people are like,” or “that’s not what lesbian women are like,” or “there’s no such thing as genderqueer people,” you’re potentially negating other peoples’ lived experiences, and that’s going over the line from participation into imposing and regulating queerness. And that has harmful consequences on both sides.

10. Rec us 3 titles in your chosen subgenre and tell us why you love them.

This is a tough one. Limiting it to only three is really, really hard.

I don’t have a “chosen genre” smaller than queer fiction in general, so I’m going to pick three titles in that wider genre and say why they made the short list.

“Comfort and Joy,” by Jim Grimsley – I come back to this again and again because it says a lot of things about gay relationships that still hold true today, and there’s a clash of privilege, both in terms of class (rich/poor, differing job levels), and ability/disability. It addresses HIV and shows the ways in which people sometimes really have to work at relationships when they may not even be sure that they want to. All this is interwoven into a holiday tale that shows the differences between the two main characters’ very different families, the ways they are welcome and not welcome in both, and how a tentative accord is reached at the end. I also love Jim’s prose. He simply has not written a book I’ve loved as much as this one ever since.

Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite – the author now identifies as trans* and goes by Billy Martin, which I recently discovered when looking for information on whether the author would ever continue the Liquor series. Liquor and its sequels were the first domino that tipped me into a full-blown passion for foodie culture. Poppy’s queer characters were always outstanding in a landscape of literature that had formerly tipped the hat but not really “gone there.” Rickey and G-man were very real to me, and though the novels became progressively darker, they presented a lot of real issues that gay people face in the macho world of the kitchen as well as outside of it and came across in an overall hopeful, functional, lasting way.

Zi Yong and the Collector of Secrets, by E. E. Ottoman. This is the first story of E.E.’s that I’d read that really made me sit up and take notice of their writing. This is a historical, wuxia-style tale that culminates in a relationship between two women, and it was really well done, restrained and artful, and I just loved it. Between enjoying this story so much and beta-reading another ladylove story of theirs that was just fantastic, I started reading other stories of E.E.’s and the topics this author tackles, as well as the broad range of character representation, have ensured I’ll keep following E.E. for as long as they write.

That sums it up for me. If you’ve made it this far, I salute you and hope this post has given you a few things to think about.

Thanks for reading and for following the tour! Be sure to use the links below to check out more great posts from our participants!

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!