Friday, December 13, 2013

Sex & Sourdough Released Today!

I've been so busy over at the Dreamspinner Press Blog that I've ended up neglecting my own! But it's the official release day for Sex & Sourdough! This is my second novel, and my first crack at a contemporary boy meets boy romance!


Anders Blankenship never intended to hike the Appalachian Trail alone, but when his boyfriend cancels, Anders steels his courage, leaving the abusive relationship to tackle the long-distance hike. Though a hiking virgin, he’s glad he made the decision when he receives threatening messages from his ex. Luckily, Kevin, an experienced backpacker, takes him under his wing.

Kevin Winters isn’t looking for a hiking partner, let alone a fling with a cute man on the rebound. After learning he has the autoimmune disorder that killed his father, Kevin left his family to wander remote trails. Convinced his future holds only pain and death, Kevin refuses to get close to anyone. The family sourdough recipes he recreates over a campfire are his only solace.

In the wilderness, Anders and Kevin discover a lot of common ground. While the future holds uncertainties they may not be ready to deal with, it might also hold the chance for happiness.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Dreamspinner

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Goodreads Chats, Taking Over the Dreamspinner Press Blog, and Giveaways!

When A Casual Weekend Thing released, I hiked down into Bryce Canyon and tried to hide there for the entire week. This time around, it's too cold. So, I'm going to try to do the usual promo stuff.

In addition to my "I can't keep the paper back copies of this where innocent eyes, or my mother-in-law, might find them!" giveaway, I'll be....

Friday: I'm taking over the Dreamspinner Press Blog on Friday! I'll be posting, and chatting,  throughout the day on Friday, and giving away an ebook copy of Sex & Sourdough!

Saturday: I will be doing a Meet the Author chat on the Dreamspinner Press Goodreads Group, from 9:00am - 12:00pm PCT, with another giveaway!

Come join me for a chance to win!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Enter to Win One of 4 Signed Paperback Copies of Sex & Sourdough!




TODAY I am opening up my giveaway to celebrate the release of Sex & Sourdough! I will be giving away 4 free signed paper-back copies on this blog! Here's the blurb:

Anders Blankenship never intended to hike the Appalachian Trail alone, but when his boyfriend cancels, Anders steels his courage, leaving the abusive relationship to tackle the long-distance hike. Though a hiking virgin, he’s glad he made the decision when he receives threatening messages from his ex. Luckily, Kevin, an experienced backpacker, takes him under his wing.

Kevin Winters isn’t looking for a hiking partner, let alone a fling with a cute man on the rebound. After learning he has the autoimmune disorder that killed his father, Kevin left his family to wander remote trails. Convinced his future holds only pain and death, Kevin refuses to get close to anyone. The family sourdough recipes he recreates over a campfire are his only solace.

In the wilderness, Anders and Kevin discover a lot of common ground. While the future holds uncertainties they may not be ready to deal with, it might also hold the chance for happiness.

The contest will be open until 8:00 PM PST December 31st, 2013.

 
Official Rules:


  1. To enter, leave a comment on THIS post with a valid email address, or a comment on the corresponding Goodreads post. If you're really uncomfortable leaving your email address, you'll still receive an entry in the drawing for commenting, but you'll have to check back to see the Winners announcement on January 1st!
     
  2. By entering, you're stating that you are at least 18 years of age.

  3. Winners will be selected using the fun randomizer tool at Random.org. Because it's neat, free, totally objective, and some twit commandeered the Santa hat I like to draw numbers from for drawings.

  4. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to reply and tell me where they would like their copy sent.


Also on the agenda:

Friday, December 13th: Sex & Sourdough officially becomes available for purchase! I'll be posting some background info about the book, here and possibly on the Dreamspinner Press Blog!

Saturday, December 14th: I'm scheduled for a Meet the Author chat on the Dreamspinner Press Goodreads Group, provided I don't chicken out. And, I'll be giving away a free ebook to one lucky participant during the chat session!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cover Art and Updates!

LOTS of updates today! I'm really tempted to create three long, complicated posts to avoid actually working on my National Novel Writing Month project. So, they're all going up at once.

 I got the final cover art for Sex & Sourdough this morning! The cover below was designed by Dreamspinner Press artist Aaron Anderson, and I'm really looking forward to the December 13th release! There is so much to this story, I can't wait to share it!

 
http://ajthomasromance.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.htmlAnders Blankenship never intended to hike the Appalachian Trail alone, but when his boyfriend cancels, Anders steels his courage, leaving the abusive relationship to tackle the long-distance hike. Though a hiking virgin, he’s glad he made the decision when he receives threatening messages from his ex. Luckily Kevin, an experienced backpacker, takes him under his wing.

Kevin Winters isn’t looking for a hiking partner, let alone a fling with a cute man on the rebound. After learning he has the autoimmune disorder that killed his father, Kevin left his family to wander remote trails. Convinced his future holds only pain and death, Kevin refuses to get close to anyone. The family sourdough recipes he recreates over a campfire are his only solace.

In the wilderness, Anders and Kevin discover a lot of common ground. While the future holds uncertainties they may not be ready to deal with, it might also hold the chance for happiness.

Read an excerpt!
Pre-Order!









In other news, Holding Out for a Fairy Tale, my sappy take on Ray and Elliot from A Casual Weekend Thing is officially under contract! It's slated for a May, 2014 release date.


Also, I'm proud to announce A Casual Weekend Thing is a Rainbow Awards Mystery/Thriller finalist! (I know, finalists were announced a while ago, but when I went to update this blog, I got distracted by something shiny....)


And now back to the NaNoWriMo craziness I go!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Holding Out for a Fairy Tale...?

My current work in progress is always affectionately referred to as "the damn book." When I've got to write the climax and want to skip to the ending, I complain that I have to finish the damn book. If I really want to start a new project rather than make dinner, I announce that I'm ordering pizza because I need to finish outlining the damn book. It stays the damn book through the entire writing process, from outline to rough draft edits. It's not until I begin to put together query letters that I ask the dreaded question: "What do I call the damn book?"

I suck at coming up with titles. I really, really do. I agonize over them. I come up with lists, think about the connotation of every single word, and then cross-out everything on the list. It sometimes takes me longer to pin down a title than it does to outline a novel, and I almost always give up.

So, what do I do? At a loss for an appropriate name, I end up going through the text while editing and looking for any phrase that I can rip out of context that might sound interesting. It's a creative cop-out, but I did it again this time.

Ray & Elliot's story, tentatively entitled Holding Out for a Fairy Tale, is done and will hopefully need one more proofread before being submitted later this week.

You can read a short excerpt at: Holding Out for a Fairy Tale.

I don't think any special warnings need to accompany the excerpt, but I'll post something worthy of a warning label as the story works its way through the submission process:)



Monday, August 26, 2013

I'm an AMB Ovation Awards Finalist!




I've just learned I'm a finalist for the The AMB Ovation Awards for Outstanding Author in GLBT Literature for A Casual Weekend Thing! Not even in the Debut Author category, which my fragile ego is taking to mean I'm now counted among writers who do this kind of thing professionally! The award strives to recognize "published romance authors who addressed a challenge, problem, or issue facing AA/IR/Multicultural couples today in their romance novels."


This is the first I've heard of the award and I am thrilled by the nomination!

The notice also shed a bit of light in an otherwise stressful transition in my life. I've spent the last few weeks living in a hotel, awaiting a housing assignment at my dear husband's new duty station. Entertaining three little kids in a hotel kitchenette isn't as easy as one might think, even when there's cable TV, because the novelty of living in a hotel loses its appeal really fast. One of the many joys of this transition is that this particular military base hotel has spotty wi-fi, and even spottier cellular coverage. The standing-on-the-dresser acrobatics needed for 3G access were fun, but the last thing my kids needed was to come to the conclusion that climbing the furniture is a good way to pass the time.

So, needless to say, I've been out of touch. Getting my computer unpacked and having regular internet access again was a relief, and finding such awesome news in all of the unread email I still have to sort through made my day.

I wanted to share the news and extend my thanks to everybody who's taken a chance on A Casual Weekend Thing!

And for those cynical friends who know me offline.... I swear, the name of the award is just a neat coincidence. Angie is an awesome, beautiful, and under-appreciated, name.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sex & Sourdough Is Under Contract!

I'm so excited to announce that Sex & Sourdough, my 2012 NANO project (finished only six months late) is now under contract with Dreamspinner Press! It's slated for a December 2013-January 2014 release date!

Here's a rough blurb:

Anders Blankenship never intended to try hiking the Appalachian Trail alone, but when his abusive boyfriend cancels on their summer plans, Anders steels his courage and tackles the daunting long distance hike alone, leaving his boyfriend in the process. He lucks out when an experienced backpacker, who goes by the name Sourdough, takes him under his wing. Kevin Winters isn’t looking for a hiking partner. He definitely isn’t looking to be Anders’s rebound fling, no matter how cute the other man is. After years of watching a debilitating autoimmune disorder kill his father, the news that Kevin had the same condition hit him so hard that he grabbed a backpack and walked away from his home and family at the Rock Creek Bakery. He has wandered remote hiking trails ever since, refusing to get close to anyone because he is convinced the only thing his future holds is pain and death. His only consolation comes from the family sourdough recipes he recreates over a campfire. When he finds Anders stuck at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, the easy friendship that forms between them threatens to break through Kevin’s self-imposed isolation.

Despite his ex’s obsessive voice mails, Anders is ready to move on. He makes no secret of how much he wants Kevin, but Kevin’s disease has left him convinced that Anders can’t possibly be sincere. When Kevin finally gives in to his desires, their friendship morphs into an intense physical relationship that leaves both men reeling. As the summer ends and Anders goes back to school, Kevin’s disease wreaks havoc on his heart, forcing him into the hospital. By the time Anders realizes how miserable he is without Kevin, and confronts his ex-turned-stalker who is still trying to insinuate himself into Anders’s life, Kevin has vanished. Anders searches from New England to California, following gossip and rumors in his desperate search for Kevin. When Anders finally finds Kevin, he has to persuade Kevin that facing the uncertainties of a future together is worth the risk, even if those uncertainties include medical problems and homicidal ex-boyfriends.



I'm really pleased with this one, even if it's still rough around the edges, because it's my first crack at a contemporary m/m romance. When I write, it's so hard for me to think of the relationship itself as the plot. I inevitably end up trying to include some kind of homicidal maniac by the end. Did I manage to keep the plot focused on the relationship this time around? No. But it came really close!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Giveaway Winners!

The Contest is Over!


It's is 8:04 PST! The giveaway entry period is officially over! 

Congratulations to our four winners: Penumbra, Zora, zeoanne, and Humsini Murali! I will be sending out emails here shortly, and if any of the winners don't get back to me within 48 hours, I will draw another number from the hat. 

And now I can stop pimping this giveaway on my other stories around the internet and get on with this daily writing thing. 
 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cyclic Violence – Drawing Inspiration from the Darkness




I write about things that bug me. 

Not small annoyances that leave me wishing the world came with a built-in heavy metal soundtrack, but things that are really disturbing. 

Obviously, “A Casual Weekend Thing” is no exception, and since I’ve had a few people contact me to talk about the darker themes of the book, I thought I’d share the inspiration for the story itself.

Years ago, I was sitting in a small lecture hall with thirty law enforcement and corrections officers for a fun (i.e., agonizing) day or workshops and training sessions. Most of the workshops were on communication skills, verbal judo, and defusing big, angry men in bars. The last lecture of the day stuck with me.

The lecturer was a short man in his fifties who was making a valiant effort to keep his comb-over from being obvious. He was heavy set and looked more like a librarian in a sweater vest than someone who should be teaching at a law enforcement academy. He was the assistant director of a women’s shelter, not a law enforcement officer at all, and I wasn’t the only one wondering why a social worker had come to talk to this class about due diligence. (For those who aren’t familiar with the term, due diligence is the duty a law enforcement officer owes to investigate anything and everything, just in case someone might be hurt if they don’t.) 

He began by putting four case files up on a projector screen.

The first was a child and family services case about a twelve year old boy whose teachers reported some concerns about his home life. A caseworker and sheriff’s deputy did a home check. They found that the boy had gotten in trouble a lot for fighting with his sister and had run away a few times, but because his father was a respected member of the community, didn’t think the case warranted any additional investigation.

The second was a seventeen year old boy charged with sexual assault. He was apparently dating a younger girl (twelve, I think) and coerced her into fooling around on the school bus in the morning. Because of the age difference, charges were filed and the boy spent a few months in jail.

The third case was a twenty-four year old man charged with statutory rape after engaging in a relationship with a fourteen year old girl. She defended him, telling the court she had lied to him about her age.

The fourth was a forty-seven year old man who had been sentenced to life in prison for raping several children, between the ages of ten and fifteen.

The point of the lecture was that all four case files were about the same man. If the original deputy had investigated fully (performed due diligence), he would have found that the boy and his sister had been forced to perform in pornographic videos, with each other and with their father, for many years. The point was to remind each of us that if we failed to perform due diligence ourselves, and failed to protect this generation of child abuse victims by being thorough in every single investigation, we would inevitably end up protecting the next generation from this one.

That lecture didn’t sit well with me. I had just had a child of my own, and so criminal cases with child victims weren’t just sickening any more, they were emotionally devastating. I hugged my daughter tight when I got home and got over it, but the story stayed with me. I kept wondering what might have happened to that man if things had been different. Eventually, those thoughts grew into Christopher Hayes, the main character from “A Casual Weekend Thing.” The alternative, in which no one noticed or bothered to help, grew into his brother Peter. Christopher and Peter came to life as an exploration of two paths fate might have cast the young man down—one path in which the cycle of violence was stopped, and one in which it continued without notice and the boy grew up to become a monster himself.

“A Casual Weekend Thing” is as much a story about cyclic violence as it is a story about two men falling in love. As some reviewers have commented, it’s a story that some may find difficult to read. I cast Peter as minor villain, but my hope was that readers might come to see some human qualities in Peter, too. I know it’s not fair or easy, reading about a character that leaves you hating him and mourning the man he might have been at the same time. It’s definitely not the emotional roller coaster most readers expect they’re going to be riding when they pick up an m/m romance. But it is what it is.

There are plenty of less creepy things that bug me on the agenda, so who knows… the next story might even be light and fluffy:)

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Casual Weekend Thing Release Day!




I’m so excited to announce that A Casual Weekend Thing is officially available! It has been released from Dreamspinner Press today!

And I am holding a contest to win one of four signed paperback copies! To enter, leave a comment on the CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT!

It's available directly from the publisher in ebook and paperback, and in ebook form from all of the usual retailers. 

Doug Heavy Runner left the life of an openly gay Miami police officer and returned to his home on the Salish-Kootenai Indian Reservation when his mother got sick. In the two years since she passed, he’s carved out an empty life as a small-town deputy, relying on out-of-town one-night stands to keep him sane. Then he meets Detective Christopher Hayes, and they share a wild night so incredible Doug breaks his own rule and allows a one-night stand to grow into a weekend of amazing sex.

When Christopher travels from San Diego to Montana to deal with his abusive brother’s suicide, he doesn’t expect to find the man he spent the weekend with to be handling his brother’s case. He certainly doesn’t mind spending more time with Doug—but then an arsonist destroys the house Christopher inherited from his brother, and Christopher and Doug discover they are the primary suspects.

As they investigate, they discover Christopher’s dead brother has set them on the trail of a psychotic pedophile who will stop at nothing to silence his last victim. However, the search for the victim goes horribly wrong, leaving Doug hospitalized and Christopher at the mercy of the killer….

Buy From Dreamspinner Press

Buy From Amazon

Buy From Barnes & Noble

How lame is it that I want to log on to Amazon and buy a copy of my own book just because it exists?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'm Giving Away Four Signed Paperback Copies of A Casual Weekend Thing!


Today I had one of those Why didn't I write a novel I can tell my conservative family and neighbors about? moments—on an international level. All because of giveaways. Giveaways seem to be the thing to do when you jump into publishing for the first time. Blog tours are lots of work and require a lack of shyness, so that was out. I have enough trouble updating this once every couple months. But I finally signed up for a Goodreads account! I thought it might be my giveaway salvation.

I sat there looking at Goodreads giveaways all morning, rehashing warnings about giving m/m erotic stories away to people who a) might be minors, although there's a check box that might, theoretically, prevent minors from entering, or b) might be horrified to receive a book that includes explicit sex between men. (I've watched my dear sister-in-law go through the list and click on absolutely everything without looking at the cover art, much more reading the blurbs, so I know it happens...)

I had this horrible premonition that anyone who won it through such a huge venue probably wouldn't even want to read it. I chickened out.

So I'm giving away four signed paperback copies on here instead! I'm announcing the contest on a couple of m/m oriented groups, and adding notes to my free stories, in hopes that the free copies will go to people who will enjoy them. 

Here's the Official Blurb:

Doug Heavy Runner left the life of an openly gay Miami police officer and returned to his home on the Salish-Kootenai Indian Reservation when his mother got sick. In the two years since she passed, he’s carved out an empty life as a small-town deputy, relying on out-of-town one-night stands to keep him sane. Then he meets Detective Christopher Hayes, and they share a wild night so incredible Doug breaks his own rule and allows a one-night stand to grow into a weekend of amazing sex.

When Christopher travels from San Diego to Montana to deal with his abusive brother’s suicide, he doesn’t expect to find the man he spent the weekend with to be handling his brother’s case. He certainly doesn’t mind spending more time with Doug—but then an arsonist destroys the house Christopher inherited from his brother, and Christopher and Doug discover they are the primary suspects.

As they investigate, they discover Christopher’s dead brother has set them on the trail of a psychotic pedophile who will stop at nothing to silence his last victim. However, the search for the victim goes horribly wrong, leaving Doug hospitalized and Christopher at the mercy of the killer….
 

The contest will be open until 8:00 PM PST May 31st, 2013.


Rules:


  1. To enter, leave a comment on THIS post with a valid email address. 
     
  2. By entering, you're stating that you are at least 18 years of age. Seriously, it's illegal to send porn to minors, and I think this book counts. (If it doesn't count as porn, I'll just try harder next time;)

  3. Winners will be selected by the time-honored tradition of assigning every comment a number and drawing four from a Santa hat.

  4. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to reply and tell me where they would like their copy sent.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Moving Beyond Stereotypes: Vegan Cowboys and Character Quirks (And a recipe for Turkish Rice)

It's confession time. One of the main characters in “A Casual Weekend Thing” started life as a cowboy.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for romance novel stereotypes—and the strong, silent cowboy is definitely one of my favorites, along with the sexy fireman, and the jaded police officer. But the challenge for any writer when trying to write a romance novel is to make characters who are unique, real, vibrant people.

Unfortunately, I often find myself reading novels where the author obviously started out with stereotypes (hello, sexy fireman!), smacked a masculine name on them, and let them fill the role of the story's hero without any more development whatsoever. And it works, but it works because most contemporary romance novels don't require anything other than that the hero be 100% alpha male and that he express his desire for the story's heroine at least once every two pages. In a romance where both main characters are men, where they're not included as a foil/romantic interest for a well-developed, spunky heroine, that trick doesn't work.

I must have read a thousand suggestions and tips for making your own characters feel real, and none of them helped me get my strong, silent cowboy beyond the stereotype. I made charts of interests, hobbies, forgotten dreams, and physical tics—but he was still just a cowboy. I couldn't figure out how to make him come alive on the page until I decided to make him everything a cowboy is not, without getting rid of the stereotype base. I incorporated every polar opposite of “cowboy” into his character development that I could think of, and a real person gradually emerged on the page. He turned out to be an enrolled member of the Salish-Kootani Indian Tribe and a well-educated deputy sheriff. Instead of riding a horse, he rock climbed. Instead of wearing a cowboy hat, he opted for a suit. And because he never forgot bottle-feeding calves as a boy, he didn't eat meat. He was still a cowboy underneath it all, but he had morphed into someone whose life and self-definition evolve and change as the years go by, into a character who finally felt real.

I even went to far as to experiment with different vegan recipes to figure out what an over-worked, totally stressed vegan cowboy might make for a dinner date. I tried a dozen recipes, experimented with every meat substitute, even bought whole vegan cookbooks that called for ingredients I couldn't pronounce. In the end, this basic recipe for Turkish Rice found it's way into the book because, like my cowboy, the simple ingredients morph from basic ingredients into something unique, complex, and amazing. Try it, it's good.

Turkish Rice

1 14oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp dried cilantro

Add everything to a large skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let simmer 8-10 minutes, or until most of the moisture has evaporated. It's THAT easy. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bombarding Fictionpress with Graffiti to Celebrate the Upcoming Release of "A Casual Weekend Thing"



A Casual Weekend Thing is now available for pre-order!!!!!!!!! The release date is May 13, 2013, and the first 20 paperback copies sold through the Dreamspinner Press site will be autographed! I will also be trying to sort out a blog tour, and giving away three free paperback copies somewhere along the way. Those will also be autographed, but it won’t be on the nifty pre-bound vellum paper that those first 20 customers get, and vellum is... well, vellum.

I’m so excited about having an actual release date that I’m going to go ahead and post an extra chapter of my fantasy mess and re-post Graffiti on fictionpress!!!!!!

A note about Graffiti—for those who remember the fan fiction version, Graffiti was converted to an original story, and posted for free because it was a bit too similar to every other story out there involving a sexually deviant Seattle billionaire to be worth marketing...  Someone who was apparently a fan of the fan fiction version (though not enough of a fan to note the identical bylines...) thought I was plagiarizing one of their favorite fandom stories and proceeded to leave me threatening reviews and spam my email. 

So I’m a little nervous making the original version available again.

I’m only putting it on fictionpress, to separate it from the fan fiction community where the fandom version was posted.

Next on my agenda, starting an exclamation-point-addict recovery group and finishing my NaNoWrMo novel before November attacks.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"A Casual Weekend Thing" Cover Art


Cover art? Cover art!!!! I have cover art! This is the draft cover for my upcoming Dreamspinner Press release, by cover artist Brooke Albrecht. I love it, but I am also a little freaked out that the book is coming out in two months and I haven't even begun to tackle that whole "promoting your novel" thing.... 

 And I appear to have written a suspense novel. This was supposed to be a blog about romance-oriented stories. But it is a romantic suspense novel, it really is. Or rather, it contains lots of sex and emotional entanglements. 

Now to figure out the nuances of Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and the rest of the social media world before the release day sneaks up on me.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Fantasy Mess: A Woman Writing M/M Fiction



So, my rambling, convoluted fantasy mess is finally seeing the light of day. This story started out as random pre-teen attempts at fiction. I began writing it, with a female protagonist, at age fourteen. I had just finished reading something or other by Raymond E. Feist, and it opened my eyes to the wonder of the fantasy genre. The story became a sprawling work, covering hundreds of pages across five different incarnations, and it never felt right.
It was, in fact, the story that convinced me I cannot write about women (or magic, dragons, sorcery, elves, fantasy creatures, or magical weaponry, but that’s a whole other issue).
A lot of straight women who read and write m/m fiction argue that it's all about sex. They'll insist that reading m/m fiction is a voyeuristic activity, and that they prefer to focus on the alpha male figure and they don't want to bother paying attention to the female character at all. Obviously, if you're titillated by an alpha male, two are better than one . But I can honestly say that sex appeal isn’t the only reason I write about men. The main reason is that men are free to be assholes.
Every time I tried to write my little fantasy story with a female character I ended up hating it. I discovered it was nearly impossible to write a female main character who acted aggressive, because it came across as bitchy—even to me. I couldn’t write a female main character who was insulted when the hero acted jealous and possessive, because it just read as someone being bitchy—even to me. If the female lead resisted too much, it was prudish, regardless of whatever issues she might have been dealing with, it was just unappealing.
No matter what I ended up writing, if I tried to write a female character with real reactions to her circumstances, it sucked. I, and I think most romance fans, am so entrenched is societal prejudices and stereotypes that I couldn’t write a real female character who was still likable. That depressed me a bit. Until, while I was very bored one day in college, I came across the world of m/m fanfiction. I don’t know how no one noticed how furiously I was blushing as I sat in that lecture hall covertly reading a fanfiction about two men falling in love. (Well, not love, but lust, definitely...) What really stunned me were those few gems of fiction where both characters interacted with one another as equals, where both characters were still likeable, realistic, and neither was expected to eventually equate sex with emotion and automatically submit to a feminized role in the relationship.
Men in romance, or any story, are free to be aggressive, independent, arrogant assholes. Instead of coming across as bitchy, their aggression defines them and makes them more appealing still. In our culture, the male perspective is privileged to experience the full range of human emotion without criticism. Despite the fact that a female character's behavior and emotions might be identical, the drive toward using social correction to maintain current gender dynamics is so strong that even in fiction, we stigmatize and shame female characters who act too masculine.
The male perspective is, unquestionably, the human perspective. The female perspective is always something less. 
If I were in a philosophical mood, I’d wonder why romance readers (who are mostly female) can’t let go of the stereotypes in their heads and embrace female protagonists who are aggressive, independent, arrogant, and bitchy. Even some women writing gay fiction can't seem to set aside their assumptions that relationships must contain an inherent power imbalance. They'll rant about equality for all--regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexuality--but they often write gay relationships in a way that recreates the dynamics of a fictionalized, objectified hetero relationship. I suspect such stories are the result of the same knee-jerk reactions women have been programmed to have toward any behavior that defies gender stereotypes. In real life, it manifests as everything from slut shaming to bullying a girl for acting like a tomb boy. As readers, it manifests itself in strict genre rules about how assertive a heroine is allowed to be, how much she is allowed to resist the advances of the hero, and how she needs to be when she finally submits. As writers, it's difficult to cast those knee-jerk reactions aside.

But as much as I hate gender stereotypes, I just want to tell stories about that most basic of human interactions—falling in love despite life’s difficulties.With male characters, I feel like I can write genuine human emotion, genuine human behavior, without facing the firing squad of romance fans who can’t stand bitchy heroines. Does it spare me from having to face all of those stereotypes, reactions, assumptions, and rules that feminists have so long struggled to coax the rest of society to even recognize? You betcha.
 It also opens up a whole world of issues about the relationship between m/m fiction and gay fiction. Many in the LGBT community are legitimately angry over women having the audacity to treat gay relationships like some kind of fetish. In a community and culture so focused on self-definition, group identities, and labels, such anger is understandable. There is definitely m/m fiction out there, written by women, that amounts to little more than the same exploitation found in fake lesbian porn marketed to straight men. And the offense felt by gay men is just as legitimate as the offended reaction of lesbians to the girl on girl porn.
But I would urge those readers who find themselves offended by the mere existence of m/m fiction to consider, for a moment, that every writer tends to have a different motive for selecting the type of story they want to tell. Some women write in this genre not to objectify or exploit gay relationships, but to explore the possibility of a truly equitable relationship with fully human characters. Personally, I don't think there is any other genre where a romantic relationship, free of the trappings of gender bias, can possibly be depicted--and that's the type of relationship I want to write about.



The sprawling fantasy mess is now posted here: http://www.fictionpress.com/s/3115617/1/Demon-Spawn

Escaping from Dreamspinner Press’s Downward Spiral

This sucks. I hate having to post this, but it’s time. Like so many Dreamspinner Press authors, I haven’t been paid royalties owed to me ...