Monday, 23 December 2013

New Release: The Dom Project

Happy holidays, all! I come bearing gifts of dirty books!

Namely my M/F friends-to-lovers BDSM romance The Dom Project is finally out from Carina Press!

By day, Robin Lessing has a successful career as a university archivist. By night, she blogs about her less-than-successful search for Mr. Tall, Dark and Dominant. Living up to her handle "The Picky Submissive," she's on the verge of giving up and settling for vanilla with a side of fuzzy handcuffs when she discovers her best friend and colleague has a kinky side, too. 
Sexy, tattooed techie John Sun is an experienced Dom who never lacks for playmates, male or female. If he can't satisfy Robin's cravings, maybe no one can--after all, he knows her better than anyone. So he offers to help her master the art of submission for one month. 
Robin eagerly agrees to John's terms, even the pesky little rule forbidding any friendship-ruining sex. But rules are made to be broken, and once they begin their stimulating sessions, it's not long before she's ready to beg him for more--much more...

And with our new release comes a blog tour! Follow along and you can win a gorgeous gray pearl necklace like the one Robin wears to symbolize her submission to her best friend and Dom, sexy tattooed techie John Sun. Click the graphic below (it's an image map!) for more info.







Heroes and Heartbreakers: Exclusive Excerpt
Heloise Belleau at the Carina Press Blog
Weekend Feature - The Dom Project
Asian Sex Symbols and BDSM
Wonkomance: Interview with Solace Ames & Heloise Belleau
On Writing BDSM: Romance Novels in Color

Monday, 9 December 2013

December Update!

So I discovered I haven't posted in a really long time. Fact: when it comes to social media I am a great tweeter, a middling tumblr-er, a somewhat lacking blogger, and a FUCKING TERRIBLE facebooker. Now you know.

So here's the haps:

Personal Life

I'm going to Irelanddddd! In less than a week! I'm staying with my in-laws for Christmas and we're going to be there right through until after the new year! This is awesome, but also massively stressful because I have a LOT of deadlines coming up and the thought of trying to manage them while also being on vacation is kinda nuts.

Releases

In December, I have two. The Professor's Rule #3: Inch by Inch comes out December 16th. And on December 23rd, my first M/F writing as Heloise Belleau comes out! It's called The Dom Project and it's a friends-to-lovers BDSM rom com.

Books on Netgalley

If you're a reviewer, you can find several of my books on Netgalley at present: a few of my current Riptide releases, a couple upcoming titles (including King of Dublin, my Irish M/M Post-Apocalyptic novel written with Lisa Henry), as well as The Dom Project.

Current Projects

I just finished the first draft of Bliss, which is a dystopian mind control story I wrote with Lisa Henry. I'm just finishing edits on King of Dublin and just starting edits on Straight Shooter (Rear Entrance Video #3, aka my hockey BDSM GFY). As for the writing end of things, I'm working on a novella called Cinderella Boy with Sam Schooler, all about a young man who has a terrible debt to his evil step father. I'm also midway through writing season 5 (the final season!!!) of Flesh Cartel with Rachel Haimowitz.

Upcoming Projects

I am about to start solo work on a contemporary small town romance I'm contracted to write for Riptide that I'm tentatively calling The Burnt Toast B&B, which I intend to have finished by mid February. And then in the new year, I'll hopefully be writing a femdom f/m/m with LA Witt/Lauren Gallagher. For reasons. (Pervy ones.) I've also got plenty of other ideas which should keep me busy right through the year!

Goals for 2014

I want to be finished The Flesh Cartel. I want to have published at least one more title as Heloise Belleau, be that M/F, F/M/M, or F/F. Most importantly, I want to land an agent, and potentially have a title accepted by a traditional big-six publisher. Possible? Likely? Who knows, but there ya go!

Awards

I submitted my genderqueer novel Wallflower into the Transgender Fiction category for the Lambda Literary Awards! I don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning, and I wasn't even going to enter, but somebody spontaneously pinged me on twitter to tell me there was a chance the Transgender categories weren't going to have enough interest to be split into Fiction and Non-Fiction, and that's just not right, so I put my name in to bump up the numbers.

Links

Love in the Margins hosted an awesome Multicultural Romance Roundtable talking to POC authors of MC/IR romance their thoughts on the genre. It's a really fascinating topic being talked about by some really thoughtful commentators, and there are awesome comments on the post, as well! As a white author of IR/MC romance, it was a very enlightening read, but I bet there would be something there for everyone.

Some disappointing news from Jeannie Lin at The Jade Temptress & The Future of Jeannie Lin. I fully believe in Jeannie Lin's potential for success, and I think she'll do well for herself in e-publishing, but I can't help but feel sad hearing that she won't get another print run from HQN for her next title. I still remember the first time I saw her book Butterfly Swords on the shelf at my podunk local bookstore. I had never seen a romance novel with a POC on the cover before, and it was amazing for me to see that yes people were writing it, and somebody out there was willing to publish it. Amazing! Jeannie Lin, you're an inspiration, and I wish you nothing but success. I hope this setback turns out to just be a minor one!


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Queer Romance Blog Hop

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 Heidi Belleau, and I accidentally arranged this whole thing after a discussion with Laylah Hunter about how we felt that sometimes queer voices got lost in discussions of queer romance . . . even thought it's ostensibly about us! For the rest of November, I've gathered a whole pile of my fellow queer readers/writers/reviewers/editors/publishers to talk about queer romance: what they like, what they dislike, what growth they're hoping to see in the future, and what everyone, queer, questioning, and straight alike, can do to make that growth happen. So without further adieu, onto the interview!

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'm a cisgender bisexual woman. What that means is the gender of my heart matches the gender I was assigned at birth, and that I like people of the same gender as me, and people of different genders from me. My porn tumblr describes myself as a lady of "broad but exacting tastes".

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

For the past while, I've been really into M/M, after moving from reading exclusively heterosexual M/F romance (because I didn't bloody know better!) However, I've been gathering recs and buying copies of other queer romance books. I've loved the trans* romance I've tried and am really looking forward to reading the f/f that's on my ereader. And of course, I have a soft spot for bisexual characters of any gender, because hey, they're just like me!

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

I write and of course read. The penname Heidi Belleau is for my M/M (which includes gay and bisexual men, and now a male-assigned genderqueer person). Heloise Belleau is for everything with women, basically. So I've got an M/F with a bisexual hero, and then I'm hoping to next write an M/F with a bisexual heroine and am also plotting an M/F/F!

I'd like to think being queer at least lends a little bit of legitimacy to my writing. On the other hand, because I'm a woman, sometimes I feel like my queerness doesn't "count," especially in M/M. Sometimes I feel like I'm having to say "I'm actually queer" once a day because of the whole "straight women write/read m/m thing", but also because many believe that only gay men can write genuinely queer stories about male relationships. My expressions of queerness don't stop being valid/genuine to my experience just because I'm writing them through a male lens. Sure, queer women can still be fetishistic of gay men, but I'd love people to judge that by the author's text, and not their gender!

4. What drew you to queer romance?

I've always included queer characters in everything I've written, because hey, I wanted to write books about people like me! Imagine my delight when I discovered there actually was a market, and a whole pile of readers hungry for stories not only about queer characters, but about queer characters in fulfilling relationships with happy endings! Yes!

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

Happy endings. Positive portrayals. Feeling, a little bit, like I belong. After being raised on dead queer people and queer villains, I'll never get enough of romance's optimism.

6. What’s your pet peeve?

In M/M, the rampant internalized misogyny (or just plain old misogyny, in the case of gay men). In queer romance in general, the centring of cis gay men, like no other love stories in the genre matter. And I'd say I likely contribute to that by writing (largely) M/M, myself, but I hope that I'm more on the "genuine attempts at being inclusive" end of the spectrum than the "meaningless lip-service or outright disdain for the LBT" end of things.

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

What I'd love to see is the rise of an actual Queer Romance subgenre. Not just M/M with 0.001% trans content and then F/F (and anything with vaginas) over ---------------> there. I think there's a reason for having stuff that's not M/M be their own genres so that they're not completely subsumed by M/M, (which they pretty much are already, sigh) but on the other hand, I'd love to see a successful queer anthology with mixed orientations portrayed, or a book about a bisexual character who actually has sex with people of different genders, or a queer press with a genuinely mixed catalogue versus the ones we have now that might strive for inclusivity but still mostly specialize. I want to see all the people saying "love is love" about reading M/M standing by those words and reading love stories about all orientations and all kinds of people.

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

I read books whose blurbs sound good from publishers I trust to bring me quality content. On the other hand, if I find out an author is queer, I spend a little more time combing through their backlist to see if they've got any books I'm intrigued by, and those books might wind up at the top of my to-read list! I don't write off straight authors, but I definitely want to support my fellow queer authors!

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

Straight people likely make up a good chunk of my audience, and I've written with straight co-authors, so yeah, I'm totally fine with straight people in the genre. They have a right to explore the stories that call to them, and a good ally is always welcome.

On the other hand, expecting back-pats or being overly self-congratulatory, ignoring the criticisms of queer people, or elbowing into queer space or demanding attention from queer readers and organizations, that's not the behaviour of good allies, which I think straight people in this genre ought to be.

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

Dark Soul by Aleksandr Voinov. It's dark, it's sexy, it's violent, and it includes a gender-bending assassin and a mafia wife who's so much more than she first appears. And hey, bisexuality! Yes!

Hot Head by Damon Suede. It's sexy, it's over the top, it's a little beyond the realm of belief at times . . . and it's completely heartfelt.

The Island by Lisa Henry. Nevermind the beefcake-y cover. This is a fantastic thriller with compelling leads, a great plot-twist, and a sensitive portrayal of two men coming together after terrible trauma.


Aaaaaand that's it for me!

Thanks for reading and for following the tour! Be sure to use the links below to check out more great posts from our participants! Also, if you leave a comment on any of the hop entries, you'll be entered in a chance to win a prize book of print and ebooks from the participating authors! Yay, books!





Tuesday, 15 October 2013

GayRomLit 2013!

I'll be there! Tomorrow! At noon-ish (after a cross-continent redeye flight).

This is me:


I have free books, and also spoopy Canadian Halloween chocolate, so come say hello!

PS: Have you voted on what kink Amelia C. Gormley and I will be writing next in The Professor's Rule?

Monday, 30 September 2013

Plan the Next Lesson in The Professor's Rule!


The first two instalments of The Professor's Rule are out now, but for the third, we thought we'd try something a little different . . .

Namely, we thought we'd let you (yes you!) pick the kink James and his Professor explore next. From now until October 2nd, you can stop by The Jeep Diva to make suggestions of kinks you'd like to read, either anonymously or no. After the 2nd, Amelia and I will pick our five favourites, and open it up to a vote! The winning vote gets featured in the next instalment of the series. And even if your kink doesn't get picked, just making a suggestion gets you entered in a draw to win a $10 Riptide giftcard.

What are you waiting for? Click the gif and get your kink on!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

News, news, news!

Item One:

GRL is happening in Atlanta in less than a month! I'll be there. I'm packing sensible shoes. If you can't find me at first, just look for the tubby little Canadian complaining about the heat with eyeliner melting down her face. (This is only slightly a joke.) Seriously, I'll be there and giving out a free book so fiiiind me. Just promise not to punch me over the ending of the last season of Flesh Cartel, okay?

Item Two:

Lisa Henry and I have a contract and a release date for our M/M post-apocalyptic King of Dublin, all about a post-pandemic post-economic-crash Ireland that's fallen to anarchy. It's got all of the dark sex and violence and suspense you can expect from Lisa Henry or myself. Oh, and did I mention? It's a big meaty book of 90+k, so if you like me but dislike my penchant for short formats, now's your chance! Look for it next February from Riptide! I'll be posting here when I have coverart/blurb/pre-order info available.

Item Three:

I've paid my registration fees and I'm signed up to speak on an LGBT romance-themed panel with some Big Fucking Names, so I guess I can say it: I'll be at the RT Booklovers Convention 2014 in New Orleans! I am soooooo excited for this convention and meeting all the awesome Romancelandia folks in M/M and beyond. Should be fun, too, because this convention falls AFTER the release of my first (still queer) M/F! So I'll be there representing myself as Heidi Belleau and Heloise Belleau.

Item Four:

Wallflower got a positive review in Publisher's Weekly! Yes, really! :faints: They called it a "thoughtful exploration of complex gender identity." Talk about ego stroking, right?

Item Five:

Speaking of Rear Entrance Video, I'm nearly finished the third in the series, Straight Shooter, which stars none other than Austin! If you haven't seen it yet, here's my (working) blurb:
This macho jock has a crooked little secret. 
SFU hockey winger Austin Puett has a big problem: he’s getting kicked out of his place if he doesn’t straighten out his act when it comes to how he’s been treating his flamboyantly gay roommate. And speaking of straight, Austin swears up and down that he is—and he’s got the list of past puck bunny conquests to prove it—but insults implying he’s gay still get him hotter than an entire store’s worth of straight porno. Which, when you’re skating in the ultra-macho world of competitive men’s hockey, happens way too often. And it’s been getting worse. His old methods of coping with his unique problem have all stopped working, and he thinks his roommates and his job at the newly-queer Rear Entrance Video may be to blame. 
He’s one slur away from losing his home and his job, and one inconvenient boner away from losing the respect of his team. Pure desperation drives him to rent a popular Mischievous Pictures BDSM series about straight men tricked into servicing a male Dominant, all in the hope that giving into his twisted desires will let off some steam and get him back on the straight and narrow again. Instead, it just leaves him craving more, more, more. And he might just get it—because professional dom Puck (real name Liam Williams), who stars in the video, just so happens to be a Rear Entrance Video regular. Meeting the charismatic, assertive Liam in the flesh sends Austin’s addiction to humiliation into overdrive, and Austin himself into Mischievous Pictures Studios looking for an audition. After all, you can be Gay For Pay and still straight . . . can’t you?
Sadly, thanks to my illness the release date of this one is getting pushed back from January to April of next year, but I promise you it'll be worth the wait. It's a sprawling GFY with the unlikely combination of gay BDSM, porn, and college hockey. Austin's a complete asshole, but hopefully this book will help you learn to love him (while still wanting to punch him in the face sometimes). I'm about 4-5 scenes away from finishing up, and hoping to have it in Sarah Frantz's inbox before GRL. Wish me luck! (Or tell me to get the fuck off twitter if you catch me slacking.)



Monday, 16 September 2013

Eight Things I Learned At GRNW

1. If you're going to the gay bar, don't wear heels.

I went to R Place in Seattle with a bunch of fellow M/M readers and authors. I wore gorgeous but impractical heels. I thought I could drink tequila until my feet stopped hurting, but I ended up just drinking until I got sloppy drunk and I had to pour myself into my hotel bed.

2. The gogo boys are not your muse.

Corollary to point 1, after several glasses of wine and several tequila sunrises, a gogo boy named "Danny" introduced himself to me and Anne Tenino. Anne went on with her evening as any spry young woman would. I, however, in my maudlin drunken state, concocted an entire sad backstory for Danny. Good for an angsty m/m contemporary I'm hereby calling "The Lonely Gogo Boy", bad for not being the lady projecting your issues onto a dude who just wants to twerk his way to a paycheque.

3. The Hotel Monaco is amazing.

It's clean, it's well designed, the staff is super friendly and they're welcoming in ways you'd never expect: a free wine hour, free cold drinks in the lobby, a yoga mat and umbrella, BIKES? I felt like royalty the entire time I was there. And the food and drinks at the "happy hour" were faboo.

4. Everyone is beautiful

Seriously, I spent the entire convention in absolute awe of everyone attending. You were gorgeous, you were funny, you were well-dressed, you had great hair and great leggings and great shoes and great jewelry. I fell in love with everybody!

5. Meeting new people is dangerous for a compulsive co-writer

Laylah Hunter (whose breathy voice makes sex scenes EVEN SEXIER) and I are on to write some F/F. Kade Boehme and I are on to do something gay and filthy that takes advantage of our balls to the wall crazy chemistry. Possibly something to do with my delightful Freudian slip: "Christian Gay".

6. Let other people have the mic

Speaking of my Freudian slip, I did my first panel EVER during GRNW and I talked wayyyyyyy too much. Next time I will try and shut my mouth ever so slightly more so other people can speak, too. (Sorry, fellow panelists!) I do think other than the "talking too much" thing, I managed to do decently well, though? It was such a fabulously interesting set of topics to discuss; one I had, uh, a LOT of thoughts on. I can't wait to see how a year's experience and lessons learned will affect all the panels and panelists!

7. Meeting readers is the BEST FEELING EVER.

Seriously. I can't even describe how great it is to have someone come up to you and say "I read your book." Even better when it's someone saying "Thank you for writing this." That's why I'm here. That's why I do this. I want to tell stories that satisfy people, make them happy, give them an afternoon's distraction or a little bit of hope. Putting faces to the people I'm sharing this weirdly intimate relationship and exchange of ideas with... it's pretty epic for me. Makes this whole thing real in a way I am never going to forget.

8. We have a long way to go

I've talked with several people since the convention looking for more LBT* representation coming from authors, publishers, and panelists. Calls for diversity during panels were met with more than one comment along the lines of "we write people" or "the story has to come first", as if both of those things can't be true when authors are also working towards goals for representation. Audience comments that pointed out the focus on gay cis men at the convention and in queer romance (an issue that affects the LGBT community in general, lbr) were met with "f/f doesn't sell".

But hey, we're a new genre and GRNW is a new convention, and the overarching feeling for me, at least, was that things are only gonna go up from here. Hearing that the Seattle Public Library had bought two hundred books for its collection was amazing. The call to action, that we bring LGBT romance to the mainstream rather than us waiting for them to finally notice and accept us, was timely and spot on.

Next year the convention will be on Sept 13th, and I'll try my damnedest to be there again. I wanna meet more people, hear more perspectives, see more gorgeous queer people, read more books, get more swag, and wear more sensible shoes!

See you in 2014! :D

Monday, 5 August 2013

Riptide's Back and My Books are On Sale!

Riptide's new website is finally online! And what better way to return to business then to put a bunch of books up at a nice deep discount?

How about a bundle of rentboys for 60% off? Includes my and Violetta Vane's New Orleans paranormal short story Cruce de Caminos.

No? What about some BDS-"Mmmm"? You can get Giving an Inch for 60% off, along with some Kim Dare, Aleks Voinov, LAWitt, and Rachel Haimowitz.

I'm also this month's Featured Author, a cushy gig that includes a nice interview but also MORE SALES! Giving an Inch is a mere .99 cents, and the entire first season of The Flesh Cartel is a paltry $1.99!

In other news, why not check out my Coming Soon and WIP pages to find out what to expect from me in the future?

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Riptide's Makeover

Riptide Publishing is getting a new website! As such, their current site is going to be inaccessible from today until August 4th. Which means you can't access the Apple Polisher blog tour page or buy the book direct from the publisher.

So here's the complete listing of blog tour stops, and don't forget, every comment earns you a chance to win a week long subscription to CockyBoys or a $15 Riptide gift certificate!

July 29th: Cup o' Porn: Meet the Boys of Rear Entrance Video
July 30th: Wonkomance: On Fucking Up and Being a Fuck Up
July 31st: The Jeep Diva: Five (Weird) Facts about Rear Entrance Video
August 1st: Book Reviews and More By Kathy: Exclusive Excerpt!
August 1st: The Blog of Sid Love: Working in a Porn Store- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
August 2nd: Mrs. Condit and Friends Read Books

Want to buy the book and can't wait for Riptide to come back? How about purchasing it on Amazon or ARe?

Happy release week to me!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Release Day: Apple Polisher!

Hooray, the day is finally here! Did you know I finished Apple Polisher in, like, October of last year? That's a long wait in ebook years to finally get some readers reading my book! (Which is basically ninety percent of the point of this enterprise.) I'm soooooo excited, especially with all the people who have taken the time to tweet me their reactions. I love it! I really hope you check out the book and that you enjoy it, even if Christian does get on your nerves sometimes.

First off, I got some good reviews!

LeAnn's Book Reviews: 4 stars
"a fun yet touching read about finding yourself and getting your priorities straight with a whole lot of hot, sexy man-love thrown in to make it an awesome read."

Book Reviews and More by Kathy: B
"a funny, sexy and thoughtful journey of self-discovery. Heidi Belleau perfectly balances real life issues with plenty of humor."

My Fiction Nook: 4 stars
"so much fun"

Saucy Wenches Book Club: 4 stars
"would make a great beach book for fans of m/m"

3 Chicks After Dark:
"Her storytelling is engaging, and I really enjoy her laid back, casual writing style."



I'm also on a blog tour! Today, you can stop by Cup-o-Porn to meet the boys of Rear Entrance Video, and be sure to check out Wonkomance tomorrow. For the entire tour schedule (six stops all together!), visit Riptide Publishing's website. I'm also giving away your choice of a CockyBoys membership (link NSFW!) or a fifteen dollar Riptide gift card!

This straight-A student has a dirty little secret.


Christian Blake dreams of being a kindergarten teacher, but making the grade means maintaining a squeaky clean image: no drinking, no drugs, no swearing, no sex. And definitely no falling for his new roommate—tattooed bad-boy Max, who may or may not be a drug dealer.

Most of all, it means no working at a porn store. But Christian’s aunt has cancer, and her beloved Rear Entrance Video will go bankrupt if Christian doesn’t take over managerial duties. Soon enough, Christian finds himself juggling sticky twenty-five cent peep show booths, a blackmailing employee,
and a demanding professor who likes to make an example of him.

And then there’s Max, who doesn’t know anything about the store, but hates Christian’s preppy sweater vests and the closet Christian forces him into when they’re together. Max just wants Christian to be himself—even though Max is keeping secrets of his own. Christian struggles to find the impossible balance between his real life and the ideal one he thinks a teacher needs to live . . . all while trying to keep his aunt’s dream alive without losing his own.

Riptide | Amazon | ARe | Goodreads

Friday, 19 July 2013

Why I Write Queer Romance

Once upon a time, I was a teenager. I know, I know. It's hard to believe, looking at the confident, composed, and mature late twenties woman standing before you now. Yes, once upon a time I was a teenager. I slammed doors and wrote in my diary about my broken heart and talked back to teachers and rolled my eyes at fast food customers.

And, like now, I was a writer and a bisexual.

I wrote constantly as a teenager. Constantly. I'm not saying anything I wrote was very good--because it wasn't, both in terms of technical skill and the fact that I was a huge weeaboo. But hey, we all gotta start somewhere and practice makes . . . better.

So anyway, I have basically always wanted to be an author and spent a good chunk of my teenager-ly free time writing. I had a couple of "universes" I wrote in, mostly shorts and vignettes, just trying out characterization and attempting to get out the various scenes and scenarios and characters that were gnawing at my brain.

One issue I always had writing was how so many of my characters veered . . . gay, or bisexual like me. I can think of at least four characters from my main writing who "wanted" to be queer. And do you know what I did?

I forced them to be straight, even when it sucked, even when the subtext was embarrassingly obvious, even though it went against what I wanted to write.

Because then, as now, I didn't want to write as "just" a hobby. (I put scarequotes around "just" because I don't think writing as a hobby is in any way lesser, in fact, it's fabulous and I regularly read stuff written purely for the satisfaction of writing and reading and sharing.)

Teenage me wanted to be a published author, and by my understanding of all the books I had ever read or seen, all the stories on television, in novels, in comics, everywhere, everything I had available to me, featured straight people. So I assumed that queer relationships, whether gay or lesbian or bisexual or including trans* or genderqueer people, weren't publishable. That nobody but me wanted to read them.

Yeah, of course the logical thing to think would be "If you want it, then somebody else must, too," but it's hard to be logical when you're a confused teenager who feels isolated and weird and like nobody cares about their life or their story. Not seeing yourself represented in media hurts, as anyone in any kind of minority, whether it's racial or ethnic or sexual or related to disability, already knows. It makes you feel like you don't exist, or that if you do, you don't matter. In romance? It means you don't deserve a happy ending.

So I wrote books with queer characters I forced to be straight, or cut queer characters, or sneakily relegated them to side roles thinking that at least that way, maybe people would forgive it because it's just a small part of the story. It made my writing total shit, and it made me absolutely miserable.

Of course, fast forward ten years and things have changed. Since I graduated, marriage equality is the law of the land in Canada, and is slowly gaining ground elsewhere. My old high school (where my best friend and I got called "dykes" because we were opinionated and not super feminine) now has a gay-straight alliance. Two of my ex boyfriends came out as gay and are now leading super fulfilling lives.

And me? I'm a published author, and I get to leave all the gay stuff in! I love writing M/M: it's everything I couldn't allow myself to write when I was a youth and feeling all alone. But more than just my M/M stuff, my ventures into M/F are going to be decidedly queer, too. Because for me, M/F doesn't have to mean heterosexual, and it shouldn't . . . at least not always. My upcoming novel The Dom Project features a bisexual hero (who has on-screen gay interaction!) and a heroine who identifies as straight, but has experimented sexually with women for her own fulfillment--ie: not to titillate men--and isn't ashamed or conflicted about it. My next planned M/F will feature an openly bisexual heroine.

Every book, I write for me, to make up for every compromise I ever made, to thumb my nose at every hurtful, painful assumption I ever had about literature and media. And damn does it feel good to prove myself wrong.

Here's to you, younger me. Livin' the dream.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

What's Up With Heidi?

I realized I haven't really updated on my life/writing in a long time, so I thought I would step down from my Princess Heidi duties and do a general update post. So here's the haps.

I'm sick.

Not like, with the flu. I have some manner of weird auto-immune thing that I've been dealing with since March/April and still hasn't been diagnosed. Most likely candidate at this juncture seems to be neurosarcoidosis. So that's fun. It's been a lot of ups and downs as flareups get bad enough for me to go to the ER, the ER prescribes me with prednisone, the symptoms go away, and then the prednisone runs out, and then the flareups return (with a vengeance). Last time I was sick I had a horrible painful skin condition, and joint pain, and neuro symptoms (audio-visual hallucinations, headaches), and heart problems, and eye problems. I spent twelve hours in the ER with a tachycardic heart (187 bpm at one point) and a fever of 40C. Then they put me on some heavy duty prednisone, my symptoms vanished, and then I got to see a specialist, who wrote in my file "A perfectly healthy presenting young woman with some very worrying symptoms." He was mad they've just been treating me rather than diagnosing the problem or sending me somewhere that somebody could. So now I have a letter stating that the next time I'm sick enough to get to the ER, they're to transfer me to a proper city hospital where I can be treated and diagnosed by specialists. No more bandaid solutions, woohoo! So right now I'm on the downswing in my health, basically waiting to get bad "enough." Right now I'm miserable, but not ER miserable, so that sucks.

Luckily I have family in town who are supportive, so I know if I get shipped out my daughter will be cared for. And that I'm a full-time writer thanks to my husband, because I wouldn't have been able to keep up with a teaching job this sick, nor would I have been able to continue teaching if I ultimately have to go on immunosuppressants. Finally, I'm lucky because if I do get flown out, the $10,000 air-vac flight will only cost me $250. This situation sucks, but I'm very aware of the fact that it could be so, so much worse.

Not that I don't whine. Constantly. I'm currently at the point where I'm very sick for about eight hours a day and functional or sleeping the rest of the time, which I why I'm currently able to write this post. Once I get very sick, I may disappear for a couple of days. Sorry in advance, although I'll try to get word out so nobody worries.  And to all of you who've seen my complaining on twitter, thanks for the well-wishes! It means a lot.

What I'm writing:

Anyway, thanks to my nasty illness, my writing hasn't been going as well (or as productively) as I'd hoped. I'm hopelessly behind my deadline on the third Rear Entrance Video book, but luckily everyone at Riptide has been really understanding about the fact that it's my illness really mucking things up. (It may also help I delivered the previous two early.) Anyway, I'm hoping once I get a diagnosis and a consistent treatment, REV3 will all come together. In the meantime, I'm plugging away with as much a day (or a week), as I can manage. It's a tough book, surprisingly psychologically complex, but I think it's going to be fabulous if I can pull it off. (If I can't pull it off, Sarah will red-ink it until it does, so I'm not too concerned. It'll work. Somehow.)

In other writing news, Rachel and I are making progress on Flesh Cartel season 4, which is called . . . (DUH DUH DUHN)

LIBERATION.

Ohhh yes, my little Flesh Cartel (um) fans, it's the big one. That title ain't a tease. (She says, having used headfake titles many times before.) This new season introduces new characters, new settings, and most importantly, a new love interest!!! You guys are gonna die. We're three episodes in, looking at likely five episodes total for the season, but maybe four. We also just submitted the cover art request, so you may wind up seeing some cover-age soon, too!

In other current writing news, I've been plotting all sorts of things with Sam Schooler, who is awesome.  We have two novel ideas: one a little bit literary with a twisted rentboy-meets-secret-garden plot, one an m/f trans* BDSM erotic short, and one a dark dark dark sci-fi with a creepy twist. I've also got a nice story plotted to eventually write with Lisa Henry, a schmoopy holiday-themed contemporary, because, y'know, neither of us wants to write dark ALL the time. (Just most of the time.) However, I can't do any of this until REV3 is finished. So, y'know, bug me to finish it. When I'm not sick. ;P

What I've got coming out:

This month: Apple Polisher
August: Flesh Cartel #9, Professor's Rule #2: An Inch at a Time (tentative)
September: Flesh Cartel #10
October: Wallflower (REV #2)
November: (Nothing scheduled as yet, but possibly the start of Flesh Cartel season 4?)
December: The Dom Project (M/F BDSM rom-com, writing as Heloise Belleau with Solace Ames and releasing from Carina Press)
Next year: Straight Shooter (REV#3), The King of Dublin (post-apocalyptic M/M romance written with Lisa Henry! *squeals*), Blasphemer, Sinner, Saint (M/M gothic horror with Sam Schooler)

So yeah, there's the haps. Now I'm going to go collapse in bed for ten hours so I can do the fever and pain thing all over again tomorrow. (Groan.) Wish me luck, and by luck, I mean hospitalization-worthy illness!


Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Respecting Readers: An Open Letter to Jessewave

Yeah, yeah, Jesse Wave, we know you don't like vaginas. You don't review M/M/F, or M/M with on-screen M/F or M/M/F sex scenes (even if the main pairing and ultimate HEA is M/M), or trans men with vaginas (even if their vaginas are never mentioned in a sexual context). I think your vagina policies are offensive, not to mention embarrassing coming from someone who otherwise has been a positive force for inclusivity in M/M romance (for example being a strong voice promoting POC characters and characters with disabilities in M/M). But it's your site, and it's your policy. You've allowed reviews of some of my books and disallowed others. I don't seek out reviews of my books from your website, nor do I follow your reviews of other books, but I haven't disowned you entirely. Live and let live. You stick to your part of the internet, and I'll stick to mine.

Every couple of months you like to remind people of your policies, driven by this need you have to vocally represent the "majority" of M/M readers who you say don't want to read vaginas either. Usually I subtweet you a bit with my fellow vagina-lovers but don't otherwise engage or acknowledge. But man, today you really got up in my craw with this:
the M/M genre is supposed to be for romances between gay men, unless things have changed while I wasn’t looking.

At this point I can only assume that some of our writers — and/or their publishers — don’t respect or care about M/M readers; if they did they wouldn’t insert into their M/M romances on-page het physical intimacies such as oral sex, full-on vaginal sex, or anal sex, with no warning in the blurbs.

...

Why are M/M readers treated so disdainfully? Are we not on par with het romance readers? M/M romance has been around for a decade, so why can’t our authors get it right? Clearly we are not respected because if we were this wouldn’t happen, and so often. Would authors insert graphic gay sex scenes in het romances? Not f*****g likely, unless the book is a mĂ©nage or a bi romance, and do you know why? Two reasons:

1) They know that het romance readers would not tolerate this and would tell them to put their book where the sun doesn’t shine; and

2) They respect het romance readers so it wouldn’t even occur to them to include gay sex in a het romance. Definitely a double standard.
Okay, let's leave aside her assertion that no author would ever include gay sex scenes in "het" romances. I know that's not true--after all, my first M/F novel coming out with Carina this December has a bisexual hero in an on-screen sexual relationship with a man--as do plenty of other queer or ally readers/reviewers/writers of M/F romance who know what they're talking about and read widely in the genre. Are there het readers and writers who get angry about gay sex? Yes, but they're what we call bigots. I don't write for bigots, full stop. I don't read authors if I learn that they write for bigots. And really, "But bigots do it!" is a terrible defence for your own behaviour. So there goes that. The "double standard" is a false construction Wave is waving around like a red flag to try and keep the conversation from rightfully including her clear internalized misogyny, transphobia, and biphobia.

So now that I've taken care of that piece of nonsense, I'd like to talk about this accusation she's levelled at me, and at authors like me: that we don't respect or care about readers and that we're treating readers disdainfully by including the occasional M/F relationship or sex scene in our otherwise M/M novels.

Well, let me set the record straight. I respect the hell out of you guys. I love you. I care about you. I adore you. I want to make you happy. I have buckets of respect for you. You're my entire livelihood. You're my raison d'ĂȘtre. Jesse Wave is not my reader, and that's bloody fine by me.

Jesse Wave says respect begins and ends at vaginas. To me, respect looks a little differently. . .

1. I work with publishers I know are going to edit the hell out of my work. 

You guys deserve a polished product. You paid for it, and hell, even when it's free, the time you spend reading still counts as far as I'm concerned. Venessa Guinta at Loose Id, Sarah Frantz and Rachel Haimowitz at Riptide, they put my stories through the ringer, and that's why I choose (and have chosen) to work with them. Yes, editing to that standard is hard fucking work, but I respect you enough to put that work in. Period.

2. I keep my nose out of reader spaces.

I don't harass reviewers for not liking my books. I don't encourage other people to harass reviewers for not liking my books. I don't comment publicly on reviews, for the most part. I try my best not to spam or add you to mailing lists you didn't agree to or send you annoying event invitations on GR or FB. If I participate in GR groups or twitter conversations, I try not to spend the entire time shilling.

3. I give back.

I write free stories for you, and I love it. I write stories based on requests, sometimes I consider reader input when I'm writing stories (for example, "Salting the Earth" came from people reading the WIP snippets of The Druid Stone on my blog saying "OMG Finnbheara non-con I want it!"), I write PWP of characters from my series and sell them at a loss, I release deleted scenes or short vignettes that don't go in a novel but might be interesting to fans of my books. Is this self-serving? Of course, it's great marketing! But then, so is everything on this list, ultimately, because respecting your readers sells books on the whole. I truly believe that. Being a jerk benefits no one.

But more than that, I respect this genre enough to try and better it in any way I can. I think it needs to be more diverse, so I write books with diverse characters. I think it needs higher standards of editing, I only submit to houses with editors I know I can trust. I think it needs nice covers, I spend time going over and over again with cover artists until I get something representative and attractive. (Um, mostly. But then, art's subjective!) Ultimately, I try my best to be a part of the genre I want M/M to be. Professional, fun, sexy, smart, inclusive. All of it. I'm doing my best.

4. I love hearing you love my work.

Seriously, it fills me with joy when you @ me on twitter, or I see your thoughtful or gushing (or both!) review of one of my books on Goodreads. You know why that feels so good to me? Because I respect your opinion. Your opinion matters, and seeing you happy makes me happy. If I don't respect you--cough, Jesse Wave--then your opinion doesn't matter. It doesn't affect my mood, it doesn't change how I write or conduct business. It's as simple as that.

5. Above all else, I put the story first.

Because you guys deserve the best books I can write. Writing good books means putting the story--not the opinions of anyone else--first. Do I take your thoughts into consideration? Hell yeah I do. You like romantic comedy from me? I write you romantic comedy! You like that series? I write you some more of it! But only if it serves the story. Only if I can make it work. That means I don't write sex just because it sells, I write it because it fits the story. POC characters? Female characters? No sex? Lots of sex? Sex with ladyparts? Flashbacks? Action scenes?

It's all done with the primacy of the story in mind. Do I sometimes get it wrong? Yeah, of course. Sometimes I cut a sex scene that shouldn't have been cut. Sometimes I drag out an arc that needs to be kept shorter. But I do these things as genuine mistakes and with the best of intentions, not because I'm trying to manipulate, or make more money, or insult you or disrespect/disdain you, or even pander to you, or any of it.

The story comes first, because you deserve that.

And that's what respecting readers looks like to me.


Friday, 14 June 2013

A Free Story for you! "#First Impressions #Second Chances" now available!

Good news everyone! My free short story for the M/M Romance group on Goodreads is now available to the public in your choice of formats!

#First Impressions #Second Chances is a love story on Tumblr, based on a user-selected image and prompt, and now it's available for everyone to read and enjoy. Here's the blurb:


Jonah Gilchrist lives a double life. On the internet, he’s a tumblr celebrity with thousands of dedicated followers. Readers from all over the world come for his fashion advice and designer menswear Outfit of the Day pictures, but stay for Jonah’s adorkable commentary. In the real world, things aren’t quite so rosy. Here, being an awkward gay virgin isn’t cute and endearing, it’s a target on his back; which was why five years ago Jonah dropped out of junior high in order to be homeschooled instead. Now that he’s starting university, though, he’s determined to redefine himself and start fresh. One problem: it’s hard to start fresh when you’re sharing classes with your ill-fated junior high crush. 
Sebastian Rose, with his easy-going manner and great sense of humor, was one of the most likeable and popular guys in school. He was also one of the only people who didn’t join in on torturing Jonah. Is it any wonder Jonah wound up with a huge crush on the guy? Too bad Sebastian’s kindness toward Jonah was only ever pity, not because he ever returned Jonah’s hapless feelings.

Bumping into each other again after all these years makes it seem like the universe itself wants to give Jonah a second chance at his first love. But if his out of town university and his tumblr persona are all about reinventing himself—a new glamorous popular self to replace the bullied boy he once was—then how can he ever hope to move forward when Sebastian’s presence just pulls him further into his past? Of course, sometimes just when we think we’re moving forward is when we’re not really going anywhere new at all.

Interested? Read the original prompt and download it for free here! You can also add it to your shelves on Goodreads.

And if you liked this free story, be sure to join the M/M Group for more!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

On Fucking Up and Being a Fuck Up

So I posted my latest cover and blurb reveal on tumblr the other day.

In case you're not on my tumblr/other social media or you didn't click the above link, the book was Wallflower, which comes out from Riptide in October and is the second in the Rear Entrance Video series, all about an unlikely group of roommates who wind up running a porn store. Wallflower is the story of a really shy geeky kid who has resolved to make friends and relate with people better, and comes to an unusual conclusion as to how he goes about it. (Spoilers, he dresses up as a cute girl.)

So anyway, I posted the cover and blurb on tumblr and it got reblogged and I got notes and one of the notes had a comment attached by the person reblogging that can be best summed up as "wary, but intrigued." I won't link the post because I'm not Anne Rice, but the jist of it was "X looks questionable, plot looks good, but it depends on how it's executed."

In other words, "Yeah it looks great in theory but there's a lot of potential for her to fuck it up."

And at first I was . . . dismayed! "I tried really hard on this book!" I cried. "I promise, I worked really hard to write a sensitive and nuanced portrayal of trans* issues and gender presentation and crossdressing and how they intersect and I'm queer and I promise I didn't fuck it up!" I pleaded. "I had beta readers!" I finished, quite pathetically.

Um, not in reply to the post because that's rude, but I yelled them at my screen because I'm really emotional after my near death experience yesterday okay.

And then I stopped and thought about it and went . . . wait. Yes, this is the exact reaction I should hope to be getting from my books, and here's why.

Because there is a big chance of me fucking up. 

I mean, I'm white, I'm cis, I'm bisexual but I'm in a straight relationship, which comes with attendant privileges. And here I am writing a series that has followed a gay first generation Canadian from Jamaica, an outspoken Inuit comic artist with white parents, and of course Rob, my gender-experimenting Chinese-Canadian.

Now, I've been writing POC since I got into this game. When Violetta Vane and I sat down to write The Druid Stone we pretty much simultaneously said to one another, we should do an interracial relationship. And then we did. And then we kept doing it. We liked it, it was interesting and fun and a challenge to write different voices and cultures, it was a drawing point for readers. . . Romance as a genre is still a pretty damn white place, and M/M slightly less so I'd say but still with the visible problem that a lot of the POC characters are less there as genuine representation versus for "spice" b/c ethnicity X,Y,Z is "sexy", AKA adding a new flavour of fetishization to the M/M fetishization pie. (Not naming names, but there are a few books about Asian characters that particularly bother me on this front.)

So anyway, I've been writing M/M with interracial and multicultural elements for several books now, and I couldn't be happier. I'm proud of what I'm doing, I find it fun and challenging and just RIGHT. I mean, on the point of Rear Entrance Video and why it's so diverse: it's not because I'm trying to recreate the glory days of 90s Captain Planet-style cartoon tokenism, it's because Vancouver is a diverse, multicultural city and I wanted to represent that in these books. Think of it as an anti-Girls policy.

But all this time, I've been writing with a WOC co-writer who not only has the life experience of, y'know, growing up Asian-American, but has also dedicated a lot of her time and energy to educating herself about racial issues and racial politics and participating in activism that follows those learnings. In other words, she knows her shit. I do my best and I think I'm pretty keen for a 1. white girl, 2. a white girl from an overwhelmingly white upbringing, but let's face it, I'm still a lowly worm in comparison to her.

Rear Entrance Video isn't co-written though. It's all mine. Sure, Violetta beta read the books for me because she's my friend and a damn good beta and I need her. I mean, for sentence level stuff and for bouncing plot ideas off of, not just the racial stuff. She pointed out places where I'd inadvertently written lines that were offensive, or pointed out double-meanings to things that I may not have been aware of. (For example, Rob refers to himself as "Asian, so I'm pretty small", and Violetta was the one to point out the power of the "so" in that sentence and how it would read, and in light of that would I change it to "and" or leave it?) This is the kind of nuance that I'm just never going to grasp as a white person. I empathize and listen and ask questions when appropriate, but ultimately, an outsider's knowledge is always going to be lesser.

So you know, on these books I did my best, just like I've always tried to do. But make no mistakes, these are the books of a white woman. In the case of the second book, the fact that I'm cis comes into play, as well. I'm writing as an outsider, and that means I will fuck up. Maybe my fuck up will get caught before the book goes to press, maybe it won't. (So don't blame Violetta; she's amazing, but she's not a magic racial-fuck-up-fairy-godmother and expecting her to be is not cool. I don't expect her to be, and neither should you. My mistakes are mine. Always.)

And living by my own standards, doing your best (definition: writing good books about all sorts of different people that make readers fall in love and care and that make you feel good to write them) means acknowledging that yes, you will fuck up. You might fuck up in a small forgivable way, or you might fuck up in a big terrible way that is going to hurt people or make them angry and swear off you and your books. Every conversation about lack of representation gets the same response from a certain subset of authors though: "I'm white and I'd love to write POC but I know I'll get something wrong and then people will be angry at me and I don't want people to be angry at me" and sometimes it's kind of sad and genuine like oh that's so wrongheaded but I get why you're nervous and sometimes it's just racist like "oh minorities are so damn angry all the time they want me to write them but they want me to write them PROPERLY ugh just take what you can get or TAKE NOTHING" and white cis straight authors of the world who have ever said a variation of this to justify the lack of diversity in your books I WANT YOU TO THINK LONG AND HARD ON YOUR MOTIVATIONS RIGHT NOW.

So once on Dear Author we were having the conversation about "why no POC heroes/heroines in romance, authors?" and white authors were weighing in on the ole "fear of screwing up" chestnut and I realized . . . M/M authors say this very same thing to justify the whiteness of the genre. Meanwhile, gay men have been complaining since the advent of women writing dudes fucking/loving that they think M/M is fetishizing and othering and disrespectful etc. Which it most certainly can be. And yet . . . we write it. We write REAMS of it, whether it makes a certain subset of gay men angry at us or not. Whether they yell at us or not. Why? Because we like it. We like it enough that the fear of fucking up or of making someone angry doesn't overcome our urge to write. If we're callous we just don't give a shit about gay men, and if we're kind we try to incorporate and acknowledge those mens' opinions and critiques and just do a good job while still writing what we like. So where goes that bravery when we have a chance to write another minority, be it racial or religious or political or otherwise? Where's our stated love of diversity then?

So here's a secret: I almost made Christian (of Apple Polisher) white. Without Violetta co-writing, I was genuinely concerned that I couldn't write a POC character, and that I'd suck and it would piss people off and wouldn't it just be easier for everybody . . .

And I could have "gotten away with it", too. I mean, his race is inherent to his character as the book exists so no it's not a "colour blind" story, but it has no bearing on the plot as I originally sketched it out, either. A student teacher being afraid to manage a porn store could be any race. And then I asked: well in that case, why not make him a POC? And the only answer I had for myself came down to fear. I was afraid of fucking up.

But in the end, I couldn't be a coward with Christian, or Rob, or Dylan, or any of the other characters in REV who are many and strange and I love them all. I can't criticize Star Trek and Girls out one side of my mouth and write safe white boys out the other... side. Of my mouth. Okay that metaphor didn't work.

So here's my statement:

I have tried my best not to fuck up. I am fucking terrified of fucking up. Of making people angry at me yes, but also of hurting people who don't need to be hurt anymore. I have also accepted that I will fuck up at some point. Not may. Will. Maybe it's something minor, maybe it's something huge. Maybe it's something harmless, maybe it's . . . not. I really hope it's never not harmless, I do. But when I am wrong about anything, big or small, feel however you feel about it, and react (pretty much) however you wish. Be angry, or be kind and nurturing of my tiny author flower petal feelings. Tell me what's wrong and try to educate, or just blast me in a review and warn your friends away from me. You're the reader and I have accepted that your reactions to my books are your own, you have a right to them, and you have a right to express them however you like wherever you like as long as you're not poisoning my cats or threatening me/my family with bodily harm.

I have also accepted that if the choices are between:

  1. being a coward and maintaining the status quo 
  2. trying really hard and still fucking up


Then I will choose fucking up.

At least you can learn from fuck ups. You can't learn anything from not trying at all.

ETA:
Continued Reading (feel free to send links!)
Mary Ann Mohanraj Gets You Up To Speed Part II
Five Wrongheaded Reasons for Not Writing Diverse Characters in Science Fiction

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

WIP Wednesday: Blood Oath

Hello friends! How's your April going? Mine has been busy, busy, busy! I've been taking my daughter to twice-weekly swimming lessons, which has been an absolute blast (although terrible on my hair), my and Amelia C. Gormley's new short story "Giving an Inch" was released (stay tuned for blog tour details!), I've been finishing off edits on Rear Entrance Video 1: Apple Polisher, writing a freebie short solo, and (drumroll please!) a dark, dark, dark post-apocalyptic story set in Ireland with Lisa Henry, who write one of my fave M/M books of 2012.

I thought I'd share a little snippet with you here, just to whet your appetites. I love these two heroes, and  the story's villain, the mad King of Dublin. Meet all three after the jump.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Freebies and contracts and sales, oh my!

Just a quick little news post to keep you up to date on this snowy Monday.

Item 1:

The contracts are signed and it's official! My first M/F novel, written as Heloise Belleau with co-writer Solace Ames, will be coming out from Carina Press in late December. It's a bisexual BDSM rom-com with no millionaires and an intelligent, self-sufficient heroine, not to mention a serious shoe fetish, a trove of vintage pornography, and a snarky blog. And it's friends-to-lovers, too. It's called The Dom Project (working title, not sure if it'll still be known as such come release day), and you can read all about it on my Coming Soon page.

Item 2:

Abigail Roux won the DABWAHA tournament! It's awesome to see an M/M romance beat out mainstream bestsellers to win the title, purely thanks to fan enthusiasm and love. Awesome!

To celebrate, my publisher Riptide are having a sale: 30% off all backlist titles, and 50% off select "Editor's Picks", including a couple of mine! Both episode 1 of Flesh Cartel and Mark of the Gladiator are now half off, but only until the 15th of April, so get 'em quick!

And congratulations to Abigail Roux and to M/M romance in general! Yay!

Item 3:

It's that time of year again! The M/M Romance group on Goodreads is having their yearly free story event. I'm participating, of course, and snapped up a great, sweet contemporary prompt and picture, which I'm now in the midst of writing. The title is a secret, but here's the working blurb. I'm also posting weekly teaser snippets, but you'll have to join the group to read those!
Jonah Gilchrist lives a double life. On the internet, he’s a tumblr celebrity with thousands of dedicated followers. Readers from all over the world come for his fashion advice and designer menswear Outfit of the Day pictures, but stay for Jonah’s adorkable commentary. In the real world, things aren’t quite so rosy. Here, being an awkward gay virgin isn’t cute and endearing, it’s a target on his back; which was why five years ago Jonah dropped out of junior high in order to be homeschooled instead. Now that he’s starting university, though, he’s determined to redefine himself and start fresh. One problem: it’s hard to start fresh when you’re sharing classes with your ill-fated junior high crush. 
Sebastian Rose, with his easy-going manner and great sense of humor, was one of the most likeable and popular guys in school. He was also one of the only people who didn’t join in on torturing Jonah. Is it any wonder Jonah wound up with a huge crush on the guy? Too bad Sebastian’s kindness toward Jonah was only ever pity, not because he ever returned Jonah’s hapless feelings.

Bumping into each other again after all these years makes it seem like the universe itself wants to give Jonah a second chance at his first love. But if his out of town university and his tumblr persona are all about reinventing himself—a new glamorous popular self to replace the bullied boy he once was—then how can he ever hope to move forward when Sebastian’s presence just pulls him further into his past? Of course, sometimes just when we think we’re moving forward is when we’re not really going anywhere new at all.



Thursday, 21 March 2013

New Cover Art! Giving an Inch

Check it out, readers! Here's the gorgeous new cover art by L.C. Chase for my and Amelia C. Gormley's new kinky erotic comedy short, Giving an Inch.


Releases April 15th. Pre-order it now, or add it on Goodreads!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Get away to Ireland this St. Paddy's day

It's that time of year again! Saint Paddy's day. Here in Northern BC it's wicked cold and snowy, hardly parade and cold (green) beer weather, so I thought I'd leave a few helpful suggestions on how to warm up, Irish style.

First up, you'll want to get my father-in-law's Guinness and beef stew on a nice simmer.

Next, load up your e-reader with a few sexy Irish M/M erotic romances by yours truly!

Salting the Earth
Looking for something edgier, with sexy but deadly sidhe kings? Closeted young Irishman Ronan returns from a disastrous year abroad work program to discover his twin sister has been spending every night with the fairies of Knockma mound. Sidhe king Finnbheara agrees to return her . . . but at a terrible price.
Buy it from Storm Moon Press.
The Druid Stone
Epic urban fantasy more your flavour? Cursed Irish-Cuban-American Sean O'Hara travels to Ireland in order to seek out the help the last of the ancient druids. At first, Cormac Kelly thinks it's all a prank or a plastic paddy fantasy, but then Sean's presence in Ireland awakens the mad old sidhe lords, including those thought long dead . . .
Buy it from Carina Press.
Or how about having it read aloud to you in Ian Ruane's sexy Irish accent? Get the Audible version.
Galway Bound
Want an Irish hunk without the supernatural trappings? Sean O'Hara and Cormac Kelly are suffering from a slump in their relationship, but luckily a trip to Galway--with bags packed full of bondage toys--may be just what they need to rekindle the sexier side of their romance.
Buy it (for just 99 cents!) from ARe.
Out of the Tombs, Exceedingly Fierce
Looking for something free? Canadian photography student Maxwell Lewis travels to Scotland to take some photos of creepy old castles and get over his clingy ex, but nighttime on the moors is no place for a hapless tourist.
Download it from Smashwords.



That's it for me! How about you? Got any Irish-themed recommendations to go with my Guinness?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Announcement: A Surprise Release!

I've been wanting to do some lighter shortform erotica for awhile now, and a few weeks back, Rachel Haimowitz at Riptide told me they had a gap in their spring schedule so of course I jumped on it. But not before hooking along a new co-writer, Amelia C Gormley, for a ride. I knew we were basically soulmates after hearing tell of an upcoming release of hers (an M/M highlander romance, be still my beating heart!), and co-writing this short with her basically sealed the deal.

It's the first story in what we hope to be a series, all about a romantically dysfunctional and somewhat out of control--but totally consensual--professor/student relationship. The series is called The Professor's Rule, and book one, "Giving an Inch", comes out from Riptide on April 15th. (Pre-orders--and the preceding link--should be going live soon!)

Here's the blurb:
History grad James Sheridan thinks his biggest problem in life is trying to find a suitable outfit for his upcoming Ph.D. candidacy exam. That is, until he accidentally texts a changing room selfie meant for his fashionable sister to his ex, the domineering Professor Carson. 
James and Carson haven't seen each other since James fled their power games two years ago. Back in his undergrad days, Carson was his Professor, and not just in the academic sense: a man of unusual tastes and extreme sexual demands, James had been happy to sate Carson's savage appetites. Too happy, in fact. He never could trust himself not to let Carson push too far. 
Now James is older and wiser, and sharing some seriously flirtatious vibes with a cute menswear rep. When Carson replies to James's errant text, ready to pick up where they left off, James can't help being drawn back into Carson's control. It's only when Carson suggests involving the salesman that James has to ask himself how far is too far, and whether he's willing to go there with Carson again.
It's a funny, light, but simultaneously twisty and complex story about domination and submission and boundaries. And there's a cute Indian salesman in a nice suit. ;)

So, now you know. Cover art and all the rest forthcoming.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Five Favourite Females (in M/M)

Dear Author reviewer Sunita made a post (itself inspired by a post on JesseWave) about why she was no longer reading as much M/M as she once had. Her discussion of declining quality of course resonated with me and reminded me to always make sure my own books are the very best I can write, submit, and edit.

But it's point 4 of her post that really spoke to my concerns as a reader, and inspired this one:
I’m tired of the woman-bashing. Women are evil plot devices, BFFs of the narrator/main character who exist to be sounding boards or comic relief. Generally they can’t get a date or you don’t want them to. It’s lazy, stereotypical writing and no mature genre with standards would put up with it. And that’s if there are women in the books at all. I just finished a short novel in which there are no on-page women. Granted, that may be because the entire word count was taken up by sex scenes, but having no women in a contemporary romance is quite a feat.

Both male and female authors (of a variety of QUILTBAG orientations) engage in woman-bashing. But while women writers are criticized for it, male writers are called out much less frequently. All too often, gay male authors are valorized as something special whether their work is good or not, whether they insult their readership (which is majority female) or not.
I think this is an important criticism to make, and I never get tired of reading it or discussing it (and if you're the same, the discussion going on in the comments of Sunita's post is an incredibly fascinating and worthwhile read). I hope that my own books prove my commitment to doing better. So in the spirit of rewarding authors who do well, here's a list of my favourite M/M female characters.

The second book, because Ben's so sexy ;)
1. Various Characters in Under the Hill by Alex Beecroft

The two Under the Hill books are truly remarkable for their wonderful characterization, both of the main couple and the supporting cast. The female characters are no exception to this rule. They're agents in the plot with diverse personalities and goals and motivations, and they exist to do more than help or hinder the main relationship (which is the base measurement of a good female character in an M/M, in my eyes). They're also women of colour, which makes them unique on this list. Queens and goddesses and priestesses from British, Irish, and Indian mythology. Each unique and compelling and well-rounded with virtues and flaws. Seriously, if you haven't read these books you truly are missing out on a pair of gems.

2. Donata in Dark Soul V by Aleksandr Voinov

Donata is a dark horse. Reading about women being cheated on isn't a topic I enjoy, and in the first few volumes of Dark Soul, we're told that Stefano is in love with her and doesn't want to let her go, despite how compelling he finds Silvio. It's a great, genuine conflict with no obvious resolution, but Donata herself isn't all that compelling: she's beautiful and poised and, well, arm candy. A very pretty doll on a shelf. In the fifth book, however, she really comes into her own. How she responds to Stefano's admissions, how she chooses to resolve the series' romantic conflict, is a breath of fresh air. Donata easily could have just been an object, a woman acted upon, even if her arc came to the same end, but instead she has more agency than you ever expect. She determines her fate, she drives the story's resolution, romantic and sexual. All of it combines to make me think that maybe that was the plan all along: to have her first appear somewhat shallow and flat, but then surprise you in a very good way.

3. Angelica in Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander

Shattered Glass isn't a perfect book by any means, and the concept behind Angelica seems dangerous on the first pass: the gay main character's fiancee, the latest in a line of seemingly disposable women he can't commit to. Latest and last, because of course by the end of the book he realizes he's actually been gay all along. Angelica could easily be a shrew, an over the top example of why all women are just totally wrong for the main character, but she's not. She's a human being, and the book doesn't automatically forgive the main character for his behaviour toward her just because he's gay and figuring himself out. Part of his arc includes acknowledging Angelica's feelings, talking things over with her, making up like adults. If only all exes and beards in M/M could be given those same (very basic) dignities.

4. Tate in The Usual Apocalypse by Christine Price

Tate's one of my favourite character types: the sidekick/assistant who's frighteningly competent at their job (think Ianto Jones of Torchwood). But Tate is more than someone to move the plot forward by keeping the hero from having to do all that boring research and paperwork. She's smart and funny, full of memorable snark and some of the novel's best lines, a character with wit and drive who totally "clicks" with the hero and who you as a reader just really like spending time with. Sometimes that's all you need.

5. Natalie in Shivaree by Cara McKenna

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat because Natalie is an actual POV character in this hot series filled with M/M/F sex. However, I'm including her because this isn't a typical romance (M/M, M/M/F, or otherwise), and Natalie represents an intrusion on an established gay relationship. In your typical M/M book, you can only imagine how badly Natalie would be written and treated, and in an M/F/M, she'd be some kind of irresistible goddess that is just too perfect and lovely and sexy for only one man. Here, she's an actual woman, someone I found it easy to relate to. She's attracted to a pair of hot guys, has no concept of the substantial issues in their relationship, and stumbles right on in, shamelessly chasing her desires while also helping both men to work out their issues. I won't spoil the ending, but I will say it's unpredictable and massively satisfying, and what's more, Natalie is never once cast off as a homewrecking whore, nor a kindly saviour, here to selflessly magic away a gay couple's troubles. And the sex is pure wish-fulfillment. ;)

So there's my list of favourite portrayals. Have your own? Disagree with mine? I'd love to hear from you. :)

And if there's any M/M authors reading, take this as a challenge! Include a positive, well-rounded female character with a life and motivation of her own in your next work. Go on, do it!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Five Goodreads Do's and Don'ts

So earlier this morning I got linked to a blog post series for authors on how to use Goodreads that quickly devolved into some 100% Bad Advice, namely that you should PM all the readers in the groups you're a member of with a sloppily disguised form message telling them about your books (but saying you're not going to pressure them into buying them or anything, so that makes it all okay, right? WRONG!!!)

Anyway, I thought I'd add my own two cents into the discussion by giving you some guidelines about how I personally, as an author and a reader, use Goodreads: both the things I encourage, and the things that I avoid at all costs. Oh and just by the by, I've written this list hoping you already know the basics like "don't 5 star your own books" and "don't argue with reviewers" and all that.

Five Don'ts:

1. Don't spam people with event invites.

Just because someone has trusted you/liked you enough to add you as a friend doesn't mean they want invitations for your release days, every blog post on your fourteen stop tour, your cover reveals, your live facebook chats. . . Honestly, I don't like this function at all. I almost never say "yes" to invites, and sending me one is pretty much a guarantee that I'll defriend you immediately. The only exception I can see if if you know I live in, say, Atlanta, and you're doing a book signing there next week and you're a big name author whose books I actually read and love. I also give leeway to publishers who use the invite feature in the same way as using a newsletter. One message a week, AFTER I've signed up for the publisher group knowing that weekly invites/emails would be a part and parcel. Use invites the same way you'd use an email list: have them be "opt-in." On that note, don't use the PM system to spam people, either. In my entire time as a Goodreads user, I've PMed people out of the blue exactly twice. Every other message I've sent has been in response to something they've messaged me first.

2. Don't recommend books if you have ulterior motives.

Goodreads has a neat recommendation feature that allows you to recommend books to users, either out of the blue, or based on requests from them. By all means, use this! If you know so-and-so loves the hell out of love triangles and you just read "Shivaree" by Cara McKenna (one my faves), then do send them a recommendation. If someone else is requesting recommendations for stories with fire fighters and they read M/M, then yeah, let them know about "Hot Head" by Damon Suede. But don't recommend books indiscriminately (here, person who reads literary fiction, try this ten book high fantasy series!), and definitely don't recommend your own (or your author buddys') books. Share books you love, not books you just love to see people buying.

3. Don't friend people willy-nilly.

This ain't facebook, and nothing looks more disingenuous than an author (or blogger, etc.) with two thousand friends and four books. Yikes! Coming up hot in second place is someone with a bunch of books, but all of them are generic classics, with no sign of thought or individual personality. Or someone adding me as a friend when I write (and read) M/M and they're exclusively a fan of paranormal YA. Only add people as friends 1. if you've actually interacted (MEANINGFULLY), 2. if you actually have reading habits in common. If you're an author, I'd even extend that to don't friend people unless they've reached out to you in some way first. If they add you first, if they follow you on twitter, if you've spent thread after thread joking with them and trading commentary on your shared reading tastes, etc. Sometimes a person might even be a huge fan of your books, giving you piles of five star reviews, and still not want to be your Goodreads friend. Just because someone likes their books doesn't mean they want to like YOU. Books are a product, you are a person. Don't push it. And especially don't friend people after they've already ignored or rejected your request. Friending them over and over again won't endear you to anyone.

4. Don't be "subtle".

Every Goodreads and social media behaviour list warns you against drive-by spamming people with BUY MY BOOK, but many then go on to suggest "join groups related to your book, join conversations, and then SUBTLY insert references to your book." I'm sorry, but do these authors and social media experts think people are idiots? I want you to think back to the last big budget movie you saw with visible advertising. Oh, the characters JUST HAPPEN to be drinking Coke every scene. Oh, they JUST HAPPEN to drive BMWs. I don't know about you, but it didn't take me long to catch on to the fact that if you see a brand name in a movie, it's because somebody somewhere has paid for that visibility.

Advertising is more than just full on commercials and sales pitches, and people key onto that. If you're joining a thread on alpha heroes only to say "Yes, I love alpha heroes too, that's why I wrote one in my hit series THIS AUTHOR IS A BUTT published by JESUS CHRIST JUST STOP press", well, guess what, Goodreads users know exactly what you're doing and they don't like it. Not after one sentence of joining the discussion. Not after three. Not even after ten. If you're only commenting on a thread to somehow work a namedrop for your book in there, just stop. Don't. Write a funny blog post or post a cute picture on your twitter instead. Personally, after a year of being on Goodreads, I've entirely stopped using groups to advertise my work, even in the threads/subforums set aside for that purpose, because I just don't think it works. Posting outside of those spaces annoys people, and posting within them is pointless because who goes to a forum just to be advertised at? When it comes to the readers groups on Goodreads, my philosophy is simple: Join groups for books you like to read. Discuss books you like to read. If you really, really can't participate as a reader and not as an author, stay out of readers' groups entirely.

5. Don't get sneaky with separate accounts.

I have two Goodreads accounts. I have my author account, and my real name account. My author account is for the books I read in my genre, for interacting with people as my author persona . . . basically, it's my Romancelandia self. I don't use it just to advertise, but I do use it specifically to talk about romance and be a part of this genre. My real name account I've had since college, and use to document my (non romance) bookshelves and keep track of things I read in school, etc. They have two completely separate purposes for me. I don't use my second account to:
  • Pretend to be a "reader" and recommend or rate my own books.
  • Participate (especially to sockpuppet) in places I know authors aren't welcome, such as review comments for their books.
  • Spy on people in author-free spaces.
  • Add friends solely for the purpose of eventually advertising my books to them as a "third party".
Making a fake or second account to benefit your author-self while not explicitly presenting as your author self is underhanded, dishonest, and can get you banned if you're particularly stupid about it. Don't do it. If ever you find yourself thinking, "Man if people didn't know it was me [author], I could..." close your computer, walk away, and rethink your life choices. Sockpuppeting is bad form. Period.


Five Do's

1. Actually read

Goodreads is a space for discussing books. Keep a catalogue of your library. Use it as a "to-buy" list of new releases or backlist titles you're excited to read. Review books you've read, with star ratings or not, in your own genre or not. Everyone has their policy on how authors should approach the review system and ultimately what you do is down to your personal ethics. But there should be some evidence on your book page that you actually . . . read books. Because Goodreads is a social network for readers. If you use it like one, you're a million times more likely to enjoy your time there, make friends, and maybe even find people willing to give your books a try.

2. Interact with your fans . . . if they approach you first.

On a lot of my releases, I use the "start a discussion topic about this book" feature on the book page to start a "Chat with the author(s)" thread. Readers sometimes comment on this thread asking if the book is going to have sequels, what I thought of a certain scene, how did I research, etc. etc. All the questions you think while reading a book, now they have a space to ask me. OR NOT. The key here is that they come to me. I don't hop into forum discussions of my books, I don't comment on reviews . . . you get the drift. Make yourself available to readers, but don't force yourself on them.

3. Talk about books

No, not your books, dummy. Everyone else's. Follow peoples' reviews. Comment on them, either to just say "Great analysis!" or "Can't wait to pick this up" or "That's interesting what you thought of [Character], I thought he was more..." Let people know when their reviews have encouraged you to pick up a book or avoid one. Join groups in genres you like to read and hop into the discussions there. Weigh in on your hated tropes, your favourite characters, your underrated genre classics, etc. Be a genuine member of the community, not someone counting down "participation points" until they reach the magical marker where their plugs suddenly stop being irritating.

4. Keep your author page updated

Readers do use author pages to know about you. Keep your bio professional and up to date. Link to your website and social media accounts. Make sure your books are listed correctly in Goodreads' system, including any relevant series info. Goodreads allows you to sync up your author page with your off-site blog, which is a great feature. Not many people follow this blog, but I have lots of friends, followers, and fans on Goodreads who now have a new avenue to read my posts. Let people subscribe to you or find you of their own volition, and make sure you have useful content that makes it worth their while.

5. Stay out of drama

Back when I was in student teaching, my supervisor once told me (on the subject of getting into arguments with teenagers) "Don't wrestle with a pig in mud." Even if you're Totally Just, sometimes you end up coming out just as fucking dirty as the person you're fighting with. As an author, people are watching everything you do, and sometimes the best thing is just to disengage. Internet fights have a way of escalating and getting ugly, the things you type online are forever, and sometimes in the heat of the moment you do things that outside of that moment make you look like a total unreasonable ass. Remember, you're a professional.

Now this isn't to say never ever get involved in an argument. If I said that, I'd be a hypocrite, because God knows I'm the first one to weigh in on the "eww vaginas" chestnut in M/M. The thing is, I get involved in those arguments knowing FULL WELL that somebody somewhere is going to see my participation and think less of me, or (god forbid!) decide not to buy my books anymore. For me, standing up for women is worth that risk. Every author needs to weigh that same risk/reward. Is making a stand on this issue worth losing readers over? If yes, carry on. If no, bow out of the conversation. Just remember that whatever you say does get attached to you, like a resume of sorts. Make sure your online  author resume reflects you in a way you can be proud of.


So that's it! My personal guidelines for using Goodreads as an author. Any other Goodreads users want to weigh in on their likes and dislikes? Their instablock-worthy offences? You know where to comment!