Monthly Archives: March 2013

reading standards

Well. Most of my corner of the internet is making noises about Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads this week. I’m trying not to panic too soon but I’m wary and not pleased; I really like Goodreads, and if it goes the way of Stanza or Shelfari I’m going to be really disappointed.

More than that, though, I’ve been kicking around an attempt to define my frustrations with reading in m/m. I was fussing at a friend earlier this week and suggested that maybe my standard needed to be “would I still read this if the characters weren’t gay?” …That’s not quite right, though. If the main characters in Alex Beecroft’s The Blessed Isle weren’t gay, what remained of their story probably wouldn’t draw me in. But I loved that book, devoured every sentence like a mouthful of the most elegantly crafted dessert. Her command of her prose is inspiring, and an utter delight to consume.

Other things I’ve picked up have been less thrilling. I tend to skip most contemporaries, in part because the setting doesn’t interest me, but also because if I never read another “omg, I’m gay? do I have to like musicals and interior decorating now?” passage—or even another “just so you know, being gay doesn’t mean I like musicals and interior decorating” passage—I won’t feel like I’m missing anything. Those passages always feel to me like hand-holding for straight people, coaxing them toward the shocking revelation that queers are real people with a variety of personalities and interests. I figured out that I wasn’t straight when I was 13. I’ve had two decades to come to terms with the fact that I’m still an individual rather than a template. I don’t want to read books that include the Meeting Your First Gay Person primer. I’m sure they do good things for some people, but I am not their audience.

…Which is not to say that my chosen spec fic genres are free of problems either. I love fantasy settings but I’ve seen too much d&d worldbuilding, too many cases of “of course gays are persecuted,” too many cases of “women make babies and stay out of public life, duh,” far too many cases of “religion exists to punish those horrible gay people,” and definitely too many cases of “oh no what are these strange feelings for a person of my sex that Nobody Has Ever Felt Before.” It all just feels so cookie-cutter after a while. Give me variety! Give me worlds that seem like interesting places to escape to. Give me queer heroes who have other struggles in their lives than “oh no queerness???” Give me stories where gay characters face an enemy other than homophobia: yes, we deal with that shit a lot, but it is not the only struggle in our lives.

As I write this out I’m coming to the conclusion that there’s a parallel here with straight fantasy’s rape-of-female-characters epidemic. Yes, true, this is a problem that many people in this demographic deal with. But writers: please stop acting like a female character’s sex, or a gay character’s sexual orientation, are the only possible reasons for them to be hurt or struggles for them to deal with. We’re still people. We still want to prove our theories and fight our dragons and find our treasure and discover our magical talents. We are not defined solely by the prejudices against us. Let us face other challenges.

There’s another tangent here about the importance of speculative fiction in suggesting that our society’s current prejudices are not universal, but I’m already wandering. I’ll save that bit for next time.

And if you have any recs for really strong queer spec fic that does the things I’m asking for—especially if you have recs for f/f that does this—I would absolutely love to hear them.

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spring! when a young writer’s fancy turns to thoughts of… new projects?

The days are getting longer! We’re getting occasional sunlight in Seattle and the first trees are starting to blossom. My energy and enthusiasm generally hits a slump during the dark season, but now that we’re moving into brighter times, I’m feeling my gears start to turn again.

Just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo! Which I’m looking forward to—I love the structure of having a group of people to write with, but November is always a terrible month for me to do it. April, though? Yes please.

I have two projects on deck for the occasion, I think: first, I have a story to write for the Goodreads M/M Romance group, which is having their annual summer story event right now (prompting and claiming is still open!). I picked up a delicious fantasy prompt inspired by a painting by Omu Upied (who is wonderfully talented, gosh, go browse that gallery). There will be magic, D/s, and rescue missions, and I get to write a main character discovering that submission can be an uplifting, joyful experience. Yum.

The second project has no deadline, so I’m going to try to get through the prompt story first, but I’m excited about the second one—I’ve been thinking about trying to put together a story for Loose Id for a while, and pondering what kind of storyline I’d want to write for them. This week I got ambushed by an idea for an amnesia story that I think I’d have a lot of fun with! So that’s also on deck.

Of course, ideally this will mean that I’ll go into April with my current WIP—the space lesbians—fully drafted and ready to rest for a bit before I revise it. So I’d better get back to writing! They still have some highly illegal cargo to deliver before they can get down to the fun stuff.

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“Cultural Hospitality” and full collection MASKS OFF TOO! now on sale!

Release day!


Cultural Hospitality is now available direct from Torquere, with third-party options coming soon. This was one of the most straightforwardly fun stories I’ve written in quite a while — the submissions call wanted vampires and masquerade balls, both of which already felt like deeply self-indulgent ideas for me to play with. So I piled on some interspecies romance, a bit of literal intoxication, and the sweetness of “I didn’t think I could have this happy ending, but I was wrong,” and basked in the entire writing process.

If you, too, can’t get enough of sexy vampires in fancy costumes, try the entire Masks Off Too! collection. Mmmmm.

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Filed under my books

the long dark teatime

I woke up this morning to both of my cats investigating me curiously, purring in the hopes of coaxing my hands out from under the blankets and into petting range. I got up and went to turn on the computer & make coffee. I stood there in the kitchen assembling my delicious caffeine delivery mechanism and I thought, “I really like my life.”

I really like my life.

It’s so good to have that feeling back. I have chronic depression; I’ve lived with it to more or less success for the last twenty years. I finally started managing it with medication when I was 31, and the difference it made in my quality of life was staggering. Suddenly I could spend all of my energy on doing things, instead of having to reserve about a third of every day’s processing power for just “no, we’re not going to give up.” I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started submitting work for publication the next year. All was going great, right?

And then I lost my job in November. I probably started going downhill within a few weeks, after the elation of “I don’t have to keep doing that anymore!” wore off. Looking at it now I’m pretty sure I was in trouble by the end of December, when I slept through a doctor’s appointment and then couldn’t summon the energy or the determination to call and reschedule. I missed a New Year’s party with friends because the idea of being in a room full of people made me want to cry. I felt like I wanted to sleep all the time, no matter how much I’d just been sleeping or how little I’d done since I got up. By late January one of my friends was asking if I’d considered talking to my doctor, since it was pretty obvious I wasn’t doing well. I kept telling myself it was fine, though, or if it wasn’t fine then it was understandable and I should just tough it out and it would get better. It was all in my head!

Then it got bad enough that I couldn’t write. My head was still full of stories and I had no problem coming up with new scenarios I wanted, but I’d sit down to turn any of those stories into words and just despair. Every sentence felt like I had to drag it through knee-deep toxic sludge just to bring it to the page. Being unable to produce words made me miserable. When my (extraordinarily patient) friend asked about the doctor again, I finally made an appointment.

I got a prescription for more exercise, more vitamins, and a little tweaking in my pharmaceutical assistance. And today? I’m awake, I’m pleasantly sore in most of the major muscle groups from my shoulders to my knees, and I really like my life.

Time to open one of those stalled documents and make exciting things happen.

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