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In last month’s newsletter I shared a scene from A Forbidden Rumspringa, my gay Amish romance coming this fall. In June’s edition you’ll get another taste of Isaac and David’s secret love affair — only available to newsletter subscribers.
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I’m over at Romancing the Jock this week talking about Michael Sam’s historic draft into the NFL, and I thought it would be fun to also do a picspam of the adorableness that is Michael and his bf Vito Cammisano. Enjoy!
I have no problem at all with sex scenes in YA. Obviously these scenes can’t be as erotic/explicit as scenes in adult books, and fade to black is fine. But sexuality should certainly be addressed. Teenagers are sexual beings, and I think the idea that when a person turns 18 they are magically an adult is ludicrous. Teens younger than that do have sex, and even if they don’t, they are very curious and interested in it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Plus, in many countries the age of consent is below 18.
I was reading bodice rippers when I was 13 (thank you, Virginia Henley, for my realization that oral sex was not French kissing), and I certainly wanted to read about teenagers dealing with sex. As long as we keep treating sex as taboo, hang-ups that last into adulthood are going to remain.
Romance and sex are natural bedfellows
My YA novel, The Next Competitor, does feature tame sex scenes. The characters do happen to be over 18, but that was a function of the story and had nothing to do with the sex. Since my target audience was teens, the scenes weren’t graphic, but sex was a natural part of the romance. I didn’t think twice about including it.
And of course this isn’t to say that YA romances must have sex scenes. Just that sex and sexuality shouldn’t be ignored if characters aren’t the magic age of 18. I’m not encouraging teenagers to run out and have sex, but I think YA novels should address sex with the honesty and realism young people deserve. If violence, abuse and drugs are fair game, why not an honest depiction of sex?
I had an epiphany yesterday. Something sparked a memory of my last day job (as a marketing communications writer), and I felt the shiver of dread and anxiety I experience every time I worry that I won’t be able to make a living as a full-time romance author. But this time I realized something vital: I don’t have to go back to an office job.
I suppose it’s pretty stupid that it’s never occurred to me that going back to corporate writing isn’t my only option. I don’t have to work nine to five. I could do anything. I hated sitting at a desk in a cubicle all day doing work I wasn’t passionate about and never would be.
All in all I had four “career” jobs, beginning in 2000 as a copywriter at an ad agency. While the jobs were fine for the most part, they were a means to an end. They never made me happy — they made me able to pay my bills. Most of you probably feel the same way about your job, although I hope you don’t. I hope you’re doing something that excites and challenges you.
Farewell Sunday night blues
For me, writing romance novels full time is a dream come true. I don’t miss a single thing about office jobs. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I love working from home and setting my own schedule. I love only looking at the clock to marvel at where the last three hours have gone. I love having peace and quiet. On Sunday nights I’m excited for the week of writing to come.
In Provincetown last summer I went on a dune tour with my friend Christy. One of the guides was a former lawyer or accountant (I’d had a fair bit of wine, so I can’t recall which) who had ditched it all to be a dune buggy tour guide. He had zero regrets. I thought of him yesterday as I realized there’s no reason I ever need to go back to an office job. Sure, not working in an office would very likely mean less income. But I don’t have kids, and I’m frugal. If I had to get another job, I’d love to do something active and outdoors.
Of course for the foreseeable future I’ll be putting my heart and soul into making it as a full-time romance writer. I have so many books planned, and still not enough time to write them all. It’s a good problem to have. And when I worry about the future now, I know that whatever happens, I don’t ever have to work in an office again.
This week I have the pleasure of editing Leta Blake’s new novel The River Leith. The title is a play on Lethe, one of the five rivers in the Hades of Greek mythology. Lethe was the river of forgetfulness and oblivion, and in Leta’s book Leith Wenz is a young boxer who wakes from a head injury to discover he doesn’t remember the past three years of his life. He especially wishes he could remember his friend Zach, who visits him in the hospital and makes him feel a strange longing — and attraction. Which is all very confusing, since Leith doesn’t remember being gay or bi.
I’m a sucker for a good amnesia tale, and especially for hurt/comfort. I roll around in these tropes like a pig in poop, and Leta knows just how to push readers’ buttons and deliver on the angst and romance. This M/M romance should be out by early June, and I’m excited for you all to read it! Also, check out the dreamy cover by Dar Albert:
How about you? Do you enjoy the amnesia trope? How about hurt/comfort?
Favourite Things Friday! Now, I’m not one to wax poetic about condiments. If I were, I’d likely spend most of my time extolling the virtues of mayo, the king of condiments in my book. Yet here I am telling you about the greatest mustard I have ever tasted.
Inglehoffer Creamy Dill Mustard is amazing. I’ve never called a mustard amazing in my life. But aside from the dill flavour, lemons and capers give this mustard a zest that really puts it a cut above the rest. Since I’m on a low-carb eating plan, I usually spread it right on slices of meat, but it’s also obviously terrific on sandwiches. I think it would also make a delicious dipping sauce for…well, just about anything.
Inglehoffer makes other mustard varieties, including an Applewood Smoked Bacon Mustard that I’m eager to get my hot stickies on. How about you? Do you have a fave mustard? What’s your poison when it comes to condiments?
I’ve had a file sitting on my Kobo for a couple of years. It’s quite a popular book in the gay romance genre, and the plot involving sports and a closeted athlete is right up my alley. So what’s the problem? Well, according to multiple reviews the sex is fade to black, with only kissing on the page. One reader commented on how “clean” the book is.
No sex, no service
Every so often I pull this book up on my ereader and think I should finally give it a try. (I did this past weekend, and stared at the cover for a few minutes before choosing something else.) It’s not that I don’t believe all those glowing five star reviews, and I’m sure I’d enjoy the story. But it’s almost 400 pages. And there’s NO SEX? It’s a roadblock for me every time.
I’ve read countless books of that length or longer that didn’t have sex in them, but the key is that they were not romances. With a romance the rest of the plot is secondary and the main thrust (if you will) of the story is the connection between these characters. When I’m investing in a couple, I want the sex. It’s not just about titillation, although that is part of it. Certainly I do read (and write) erotic romance because it’s hot and I enjoy it.
Show me the money feelings
But the major issue for me with off-page sex is that as a reader I’m missing out on a vital aspect of the couple’s relationship. I want to see them connect in every way — not just in the physical aspect of sex, but the emotional facet. I want to see the tenderness (or roughness), and hear what they say to each other, and know what they’re thinking, and how they’re feeling.
When they kiss and then wake up the next morning with cuddles, I feel cheated. It’s like the author invites us into these characters’ lives, but then shuts the door in our faces when we get to the bedroom. I don’t want endless sex with no meaning, as that just gets boring. I think there’s certainly a happy medium. The sex doesn’t even have to be explicit. An author doesn’t need to use frank language to get across how the characters are feeling while they have sex.
Of course this is my personal preference to always show sex in romances, and to each their own. I know there are plenty of authors and readers out there who don’t want to write or read sex in their romance novels. How about you?
I’m not too shabby when it comes to grammar. I’ve worked as an editor for more than a decade, and I’d say I have a strong grasp of the English language. (I’m not perfect, but who is?) Yet there is one grammatical pickle that is forever a mystery to me, no matter how many times I check the proper way to do it: lay vs. lie. It just will not stick.
When I’m writing and have to use lay or lie, I’ll examine the sentence, flip-flop a few times on which word it should be, and then go boldly forth with my choice, confident that I’ve made the right one.
Oh yeah, I’ve got this.
Then my good friend/beta Amy will read the passage.
I can’t be the only one with a grammatical Achille’s heel, right? What’s yours?
I’m very excited to be taking part in a new gay romance box set about military men. (Especially considering military men won my recent poll on your favourite romance heroes!) Cat Grant is the editor, and she’s looked for a few good men authors to contribute. Interested in writing about gay soldiers? Here’s the info from Cat below.
I’m putting together a self-published boxed set of M/M military man stories for release later this year. Right now there’s me, LA Witt, Keira Andrews and two other possible authors on board. Ideally, I’d like ten authors in the bundle.
In a nutshell, I’m looking for: Novella length stories – 15 – 25K. Contemporary preferred, the hotter the better. I’d like to have the bundle available in time for GayRomLit this October, which means I would need the completed stories (beta’ed, edited and ready for publication) in hand no later than August 15th. (I will, of course, copy-edit for consistency in grammar, spelling, etc., but the stories will have to be beta’ed and/or edited at the authors’ expense.)
The bundle will be available for a limited time only (October through next February or March). After that, we settle accounts, take the bundle off sale and all rights revert back to the individual authors.
The object here is not to make wads of cash, but gain greater exposure — ideally, to hit the NYT and/or USA Today lists. No guarantee it’ll happen, but that’s what we’re shooting for. I will be the editor/project manager on this bundle, and will publish it under my Cat Grant Books imprint on Amazon. (I will probably upload it to Nook, Kobo and iTunes through my Smashwords account as well.) I estimate the cost for cover art, formatting, etc., to be about $300-400, the cost of which will be split among all the participating authors (so if we get ten authors – $30-40 each).
Interested? Shoot me a proposal at: firstname.lastname@example.org