Rainbow Snippets – 4/29/17 – Trustfall

Hi everyone!

I thought up a working title for this piece! I hate it, but it’s better than just calling it “new story” all the time, so we’re going with “trustfall” since a huge part of this novel revolves around trust. I think “trust fall” is actually two words but I’m exercising creative license here and making it one.

Last week, in the first six lines of the novel, POV character Saul was “ogling” a handsome man his sister had told him about. These lines (slightly more than 6, sorry) pick up right after that.




Speaking of my sister… I glanced around, but didn’t see her. Ah well. The man I presumed to be Alex walked around the desk then to head elsewhere, and I caught him with a light touch on his forearm.

“Excuse me.”

He stopped and turned, polite smile in place. “Can I help you?”

“I’m looking for my sister Hannah. Supposed to be picking her up.”

His eyebrows went up and he gave me a quick once-over, taking in my black slacks and tie. “You’re Saul?”

I wasn’t sure what to think of the surprise on his face after that once-over, but I smiled. “Someone’s been talking about me. And I’m willing to bet you’re Alex.”

An adorable reddish flush crept up his cheeks. “Guess someone’s been talking about me, too.”

“She talks a lot.”




Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Writing M/M Romance – Why?

I am a straight[ish] married chick, and I write m/m romance. I recently asked for blog post topic suggestions on Twitter, and I had someone suggest/ask “Why m/m romance?”

This is a question I’ve seen thrown at other m/m romance authors, and it’s a question I’ve wondered about myself on a few occasions. Why are all my characters gay? Why am I, a straight-ish female, constantly writing about two men doin’ it? Why can’t I just write some nice straight m/f romance that my mother wouldn’t be shocked by?

To be honest, I can’t really answer the “why” of this. Why do all my characters end up gay? I don’t know, why do your characters end up straight? I don’t make an active choice for them to be gay, they just pop into my head and say, “Hey, lady, I like dick.” and I go, “Okay, let me create a handsome dick-bearing love interest for you, dear.”

I can tell you why I read m/m romance, and I suppose the “why” of writing it is the same, or at least partially so. I like to read m/m romance because 1) it’s hot, and 2) I enjoy the power dynamics in a m/m couple more than a m/f couple. M/M romance allows/forces men to be portrayed outside their “typical” gender roles, and I find that intriguing.

Let me start out with why I don’t read m/f romance. I hardly ever read fiction featuring a female protagonist in general. I have realized this about myself and am actively working to read more female-led fiction. As someone who calls herself a feminist, avoiding female protagonists is a huge character flaw of mine. I will probably never read m/f romance, but I want to read more female-led fantasy, scifi, urban fantasy, etc. “Why,” you may ask, “do you, as a woman, pointedly avoid female protagonists?”

Well, I’m trying not to anymore, like I said. But it’s hard. I have issues with female-led fiction. So often in writing, women fall into some kind of pigeonhole where no matter how tough they are, they need to be saved by a man. Or the second a man shows up, they’re overwhelmed with attraction to him and are suddenly not so tough anymore or are terribly misguided because of their feelings.

It’s bullshit. Maybe some women are that way. Maybe some women see a hot guy and suddenly can’t think of anything but boning him. I, personally, couldn’t care less about boning hot guys, and if I was a tough female protagonist, I would have better shit to do than swoon because a handsome muscular man swaggered into my life. Perhaps my strong aversion to female swooning is because I’m ace and don’t identify with the need/desire for sex. Perhaps what I need is asexual female protagonists. (know of any? throw me some recs in the comments. please.)

Oddly enough, I can handle this kind of behavior from a man… because this is not a male pigeonhole. Needing to be saved, being distraught with emotion, etc, are not typical male roles, and you don’t typically see them portrayed in straight male characters. Guys feel the need to act tough. Society drills that bullshit into their heads from a young age (“boys don’t cry,” “man up,” “be a tough guy”) Women are allowed/expected to be emotional and sensitive. When the couple does not involve a woman, there isn’t an “easy out” for emotional events to occur–in m/f couples, women are clearly the more emotional, so they clearly are the ones to start all the fights, cry over dumb shit, and force conversations to occur around tough topics. In m/m couples, these guys have to navigate the emotional waters of a relationship without the aid of an always-more-emotionally-aware woman.

This also leads to interesting power dynamics. In m/f couples, if the woman holds the power in a relationship, the guy is often seen as “whipped” or somehow weak for letting a woman have control over him. In m/m relationships, there’s no gender-related socially-imposed “power.” They’re both men, so they’re on equal footing in the eyes of society. I like that in m/m romance, men often struggle with figuring out the emotional aspects of relationships and that in order to be a healthy couple (which is the goal in romance, after all), they have to kick through that socially-imposed idea that men can’t be soft, can’t be emotional, can’t be “weak.”

So that’s my answer for why I write m/m romance, I suppose. Or at least, that’s my answer for why I read it. And I guess the fact that I read it is why I write it. I used to try to fight my characters, to make them straight. I did it for classes in high school and college. I still recall my high school creative writing teacher suggesting to me that I include more female characters in my writing… so I gave my MC a female love interest. And yet, every time I wrote a scene between the MC and the male antagonist, the damn antagonist flirted. Mercilessly. I kept writing what I call “character exploration” scenes (scenes that don’t make it into the novel, but are just hypothetical situations to see what shakes loose if I put the MC in this position) and no matter what happened, the antagonist and MC ended up hate-fucking and/or eventually falling into grudging love with each other. No matter what I did, they ended up a couple. I never did finish that novel. I have another novel I tried to write in college, a scifi story, and it contained a female love interest, and… I never finished it, either. I tried to do NaNoWriMo back in 2013 with a no-romance fantasy story, and I bet you can guess what happened with that one.

So I gave up. I write m/m romance, and that’s just all there is to it. My muse demands the dicks, and so my muse gets the dicks. You cannot deny the muse.

What do you guys write? Does it call to you with an irresistible urge and no matter what else you try to write, it just doesn’t work?

 

Nothing Wrong with Writing Romance

I am one of those oddities who actually got a degree in creative writing, because I followed the advice of “go to school for something you love” and not worry about making money. Happiness is more important than dollars. Here’s the thing: One of the biggest impacts my CW program had on me was to instill a deep-seated insecurity about my chosen writing genre(s). I didn’t really realize it at the time, but now, years after graduation, it has dawned on me that while teaching me some important lessons, it was also subconsciously cutting me down. The entire fiction program was focused on getting us into grad school, and Grad Schools Don’t Want Genre Fiction. They Want To Know You Can Write Real, Literary Fiction.

So I spent three years not writing scifi, not writing fantasy, and not writing romance.

Don’t ask me what the hell I did write, because I honestly don’t remember. I wrote specifically to get a grade, and tossed the pieces to the side as soon as I could. When people asked me what I liked to write, I would reluctantly admit scifi/fantasy. I never admitted I wrote romance, let alone gay romance. Writing romance is like, ugh, bottom of the barrel in skill-level, as far as my creative writing program was concerned. Anyone can write romance.

Right?

Right?

WRONG.

Fuck that!

Do you know how much bad romance I’ve encountered? And I don’t mean the kind with weird outfits.

bad-romance-2
The more I watch this gif, the more I wonder if these ladies were really meant to be flailing around so haphazardly.

I never wanted to go to grad school for writing. That was never in my end goal. The entire program was devoted to teaching me how to do something I never planned to do, and in its pursuit of preparing me for a goal I did not want to achieve, it taught me that the things that I did want to do Weren’t Good Enough.

Ugh, no, no, no. I graduated from that program in 2012. It has taken me five years to get over that and embrace who I am and what I write. It took me finding the m/m romance genre–specifically starting with Josh Lanyon, and realizing that holy shit, there are authors who write this, exclusively this, extensively this. And write it well. Josh Lanyon uses some really great figurative language, beautiful descriptions, strong dialogue, realistic emotion–all that kind of shit my creative writing program encouraged me to write as “literary fiction.” There it is, all those Good Things… in a book featuring gay romance as a major element of the plot.

Well hot damn.

And look! There are all these other authors that do the same thing! I found Aleksandr Voinov next–gay scifi romance?! Oh my god. THIS. IS. A. THING. I. CAN. DO! THIS IS A REAL THING! THIS EXISTS. PEOPLE DO THIS. PEOPLE DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. AND THEY HAVE FANS.

Count me in!

There is absolutely nothing shameful in writing romance. I’m still getting over that preconception. I don’t go gallivanting around talking about my writing in real life, because that’s annoying, but I do mention it in passing (given the fact that I spend 98% of my free time doing it, it’s hard for me to hold a conversation without mentioning it). To my great relief, no one really ever asks what I write. But if/when they do, I always hesitate before admitting to romance. Based on blog posts I’ve read off and on over the past few months, I’m not the only one who is afraid of some kind of stigma surrounding the title of “romance writer.”

But I noticed this weird thing when I did start admitting it: No one fucking cares.

No one judges me for it. No one thinks I am any less of a skilled writer than if I was trying to write a modern To Kill a Mockingbird or Great Gatsby. In fact, the average person is probably more interested in romance than “literary fiction.” People read romance. People identify with romance. Most people read for fun and entertainment, not to get some kind of deep message ingrained into their souls. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing specifically and exclusively for entertainment. As it would turn out, only people who teach creative writing to college students are going to think that my chosen genre of writing in any way reflects on my skills as a writer overall.

This year I’m all about self-love and embracing who I am. As it just so happens, I’m a lady who writes gay romance, and the only thing you can judge me by is the quality of my writing.

Which isn’t published anywhere yet.

So good luck judging me.

(If you really want to judge me, I suppose you can go based off my blog. Bring it on. I’ll fight you.)

I’m curious about your experiences with talking about your writing. Do your friends and family know what you write? Do you feel like there’s a stigma around the romance genre?

 

Rainbow Snippet 4 – 1/7/16- Trystin

Happy Saturday everyone! Here’s my Rainbow Snippet for the week!

POV SWITCH! This is Trystin’s POV. Something happened between him and Andrew since last week’s snip…



Leaving now wouldn’t answer my questions. Leaving now meant I’d never apologize to him properly. I’d never see him again, never make amends, and the guilt and confusion would stick with me forever. With a sigh, I leaned against the wall and shoved my hands into my coat pockets, inhaling deeply and then exhaling for a ten-count. Making amends for something like this would be much different than making amends for forgetting a birthday or insulting someone. The hospital gift shop probably didn’t sell ‘sorry I almost sent you to your death’ cards.



 

Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!). Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Rainbow Snippet 3 – 12/31/16 – Andrew

Hello, snippeteers! Here’s my Rainbow Snippet for the week! In last week’s snip, Andrew was with a man in a bar, reflecting on the difficulties of going home with strangers vs. stealing from strangers…  This snip takes place later that same night. It was not a good night for him.



I managed to pick my jeans out of the pile. I’d puked on them. Of course. Someone on the bed shifted their weight and I froze, ready to bolt, but when no one grabbed or struck me, I continued looking for my shirt. When I shrugged it on I found that half the buttons had been ripped off in their haste to get me naked. My hands were trembling, and I tried clenching them into fists to calm myself down but my muscles seemed oddly out of my control. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move right, and I just wanted to run screaming from the room…



 

Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment to let me know what you think! I love feedback.

Don’t forget to check out the group at the link above to find snips from other authors, and check back every weekend for more!

Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

Rainbow Snippet 2 – Andrew

Happy Saturday everyone, and happy holidays! Here’s my Rainbow Snippet for the week!

POV SWITCH! This is first-person POV from Andrew, the man Trystin was thinking about in last week’s snippet. Andrew has a tough life. Poor guy.



I looked at the man’s reflection as he looked at me. His slouchy presence looked wrong there, next to the clean tile walls and sleek black countertops. On the outside, I looked right—I cleaned up well—but my insides were a turbulent sea. Alcohol made it easy for me to kiss strangers, go home with strangers. Alcohol naturally made me more physical. But nothing ever quelled the fear and guilt that came from stealing.



 

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out the group at the link above to find snips from other authors! Check back next week for more.

Rainbow Snippets is a group for LGBTQ+ authors, readers, and bloggers to gather once a week to share six sentences from a work of fiction–a WIP or a finished work or even a 6-sentence book recommendation (no spoilers please!).

Visit the group for links to more snippets from LGBT works! While you’re over there, shoot me a friend request!

IT IS DONE.

Holy shit you guys

I sent my first manuscript out as an unsolicited submission to Dreamspinner Press.

I did it. For real.

I attached it to an email and I clicked “Send” and a few hours later I got a “receipt confirmation” email and now I get to spend the next EIGHT WEEKS living in LIMBO waiting for… well, let’s be real, I’m expecting a rejection letter. I’m forcing myself to expect a rejection letter. I think my writing is good, it’s definitely better than some published stuff I’ve read, but I know that good writing isn’t the only factor that publishers consider.

So now I wait.

But, there’s no point in dwelling on it. In fact, there’s absolutely no point in even giving it a passing thought. If Valentine’s Day comes and goes and I haven’t heard anything, I’ll start to worry. But until then, until eight weeks have passed, there is nothing I can do and there is no point in worrying.

It’s easy to say, of course. It’s so easy to type things like “I am not going to worry” and “I am going to accomplish this goal.” It’s also easy to type “I am a tyrannosaurs rex” or “My hands are actually jellyfish.” Typing does not make these things true.

I’m not going to worry. I’m not, I’m not! I have another WIP to focus on, and two short stories that are in varying states of completion, plus I’m in the middle of reading three books, and Christmas is coming up, and I’m really throwing myself into this Twitter nonsense. I downloaded Hootsuite and I’m having fun with scheduling tweets. I sit around on my lunch break queuing up tweets for the next day or two. I also spend an hour or two actually on Twitter each night interacting with people (that’ll have to change though. I need to spend most of that time writing if I’m going to finish my nanowrimo WIP before Dec. 31).

I’M NOT GOING TO WORRY.

I’M NOT GONNA THINK ABOUT IT, NO SIR.

NO THINKING FOR ME.

MY MIND IS EMPTY OF THOUGHTS

SHUT UP YES IT IS