10 things I wish someone had told me (as a queer person) before I started writing LGBTQ+ romance

Writing_in_LA1. If you want to understand the genre you need to read and socialize in M/F romance spaces too.

2. There are fine, and hotly debated, distinctions between M/M romance, gay romance, and gay lit. These discussions are interesting, relevant, involve constantly shifting borders, probably matter less than you think, and are a huge time suck.

3. Some readers will care that you are queer — both in positive and negative ways. Most, however, won’t care at all. Your queerness brings you a certain sort of expertise, yes, but we’re not writing non-fiction here, and the degree to which your audience cares will vary pretty widely.

4. You can’t make assumptions about the identities of other writers in the genre. People are complicated. They have narrative, not labels.

5. The same generational divides that exist in LGBTQ+ social and activist spaces exist in LGBTQ+ writing spaces.

6. People will offend you.  Whether that’s “I’m a gay man trapped in a woman’s body” uttered by cis-gendered straight women; people who say “family-friendly” to mean M/F romance only; people who assume you can’t be gay and a person of faith; people who insist all LGBTQ+ romance is erotica; or people who use “coming out” to talk about their reading habits versus their identities — there will be days when you feel bruised and damaged. None of this stuff is in the majority; some of this stuff has reasonable contexts you can’t quite see (i.e., people still working on coming out to themselves); all of it is probably a little more prevalent than you suspect.

7. People’s hearts are mostly in the right place.  Everyone is just trying to get by, keep their audience happy, and figure out how to navigate this world we live in. True hate, versus conversations people just haven’t had yet, is pretty rare.

8. Conventional wisdom says people don’t buy paperbacks, both because they’re more expensive and because “people don’t want to be seen reading gay lit!”  My experience is the opposite.  Some people want paperbacks.  They want a visible queer library on their bookshelves.  The number one question I get about every release I have is “when will it be in paperback?”

9. Being queer is more than being an urban sophisticate (whatever that is). In fact, as a queer person from NYC who has been out since she was a teen, the LGBTQ+ romance space has done more to expose me to queer people outside of the coasts than anything else in my life.

10. Your readers are diverse.  No, they are not just gay men.  No, they are not just straight women.  And yes, Virginia, bisexuality is real!  The T isn’t just there for decoration. Lesbians do read romance! And the + means things — I meet ace readers all the time who are desperate for their stories. Whatever/whoever people tell you your readers are, they are probably leaving someone out.

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Rainbow Book Fair recap — Thank you!

RBF-picYesterday was my and Erin’s first book fair — the Rainbow Book Fair in NYC.  For me, who once worked at Lambda Rising in Washington DC and enjoys the occasional foray into retail work, it was fantastic to be in a queer book space.  While LGBTQ+ bookstores are increasingly a thing of the past, LGBTQ+ book fairs have actually been growing, both in number and size.

Not only did the book fair bring us a decent number of sales and a sense of personal achievement (from “hey, we’re written a lot of stuff” to “Erin survived driving in NYC”) it also meant that we got to say hi to an incredible range of people we know, including online friends, author and publisher peers, and a woman I was in a sorority with I haven’t seen in 20 years.  We talked to LGBTQ+ people of my generation and older about the evolution of labels and identities and how that challenges us and what we can do to support queer people in rural communities.  Erin knit in public (apparently stamping her lesbian card in the process) and we got to meet the organizer of the OUT WRITE LGBTQ+ book fair we’ll be at in DC this summer.

Basically, it was a huge giant win.  And if you were a part of it — in person or online — we just want to say thank you.  And if you weren’t, we’d like to encourage you to check out similar events that may be happening near you.  They do a tremendous amount to provide historical continuity that has often been tremendously (and tragically) difficult for our communities to maintain.

At one point, after I’d been chatting with someone who had visited our table for a while, Erin turned to me and said, “Now I know where Victor comes from.”

I smiled, and couldn’t resist wagging my finger at her just a bit.  “No.  Now you know where I come from.”

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Midsummer (Love’s Labours 1) now available for pre-order

MidsummerFSJohn Lyonel, a long-time theater professional and teacher, heads to Virginia to play Oberon in the Theater in the Woods’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, intending to focus on his work. John is recovering from the tragic loss of his family and needs a break. The last thing he expects is to become captivated by Michael Hilliard, the professional actor playing Puck, especially since John has never been attracted to men, let alone one so much younger. 

They rush headlong into an affair, which falls apart dramatically over secrets that John and Michael are keeping from each other. A steep learning curve, the gossipy cast of the show, and the sometimes sinister magic of the woods conspire to keep them apart. But stage lights and stars might work their magic and help them define a new future.

ISBN-13978-1-63216-984-6        $3.99      Release date: May 20, 2015

Now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press.

(p.s., there’s a 25% off sale at Dreamspinner through April 20th, so right now you can pre-order for just $2.99).

Amazon pre-order will go up approximately a week before the release date.

This is the story for you if you want intense monogamy, sweaty summer sex, and, although this is a contemporary non-paranormal romance, hints of magical realism and changelings.

This is book 1 of the Love’s Labour’s series. Book 2 is currently scheduled for August/September 2015, exact date to come.

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Room 1024 — now available!

room2014Yesterday was release day for Room 1024 and we’re super excited that it’s in people’s hands.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, here’s the scoop!

When Cameron takes his submissive boyfriend Noah to a gay men’s leather convention in San Francisco, Cam expects to spend the week exploring their relationship and experimenting with non-monogamy. What he doesn’t expect is to run into his own former dom, Lou, in an embarrassingly public reunion.

While Noah is enthusiastic about the opportunity to play with the former international leather title-holder, Cam is more wary. He and Lou have unfinished business. A four-way encounter with Lou and his sub Stephen could be great fun—or it could show Noah that Cameron can never quite be the dom he wants and needs.

As Cameron and Noah work through the uncertainties in their relationship, Noah is offered everything he ever wanted, in a completely different way than he ever expected, leading all four men to discover that sometimes the only way forward is to revisit the past.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Room-1024-ebook/dp/B00VU85MSG

All Romance: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-room1024-1778353-147.html

Torquere Press: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=4373

(This is a novelette (~12,000 words) for people who want relationship processing and responsible non-monogamy along with some flogging and fisting.  You know, as you do.)

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The Czar of Wilton Drive Blogtour: Why the American leather scene may be on life support (with giveaway!)

As Erin & I gear up for our own leather scene themed release this week (Room 1024 will be out on Wednesday), we’re happy to host RP Andrews with his new gay lit title, The Czar of Wilton Drive and his thoughts on the current state of the gay men’s leather scene.

Additionally, you can enter to win a chance at a $25 Amazon gift card at the end of this post.

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Czar CoverThe Czar of Wilton Drive is the story of Jonathan Antonucci, a 21 year old, barely-out-the-closet gay man from suburban New York who overnight finds himself a multi-millionaire, thanks to a bequest by his late gay great uncle. Uncle Charlie has unexpectedly died of a heart attack, leaving him the sole owner of several of the most successful bars in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale’s gay ghetto, making Jonathan the Czar of Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors’ main drag.

Flying down to Lauderdale to claim his bequest, Jon encounters Uncle Charlie’s dubious friends and business associates, and is immediately submerged in Lauderdale’s scene of unbridled sex and heavy drugs. He also discovers his great uncle’s memoirs which reveal truths not only about Jon’s own past but also what may have really happened to his uncle.

AUTHOR BIO:

RP Andrews spent most of his life in New York City as a public relations executive before relocating to Fort Lauderdale in 2002, where he enjoyed a brief, second career teaching writing at a local university.

Website: http://www.rpandrewsgayfiction.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ray.andrews.92?fref=ts

Blog: http://str8gayconfessions.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RPAndrews1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7944092.R_P_Andrews

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Why the American Leather Scene May Be On Life Support by R.P.Andrews

RP Andrews PicA few Saturday nights ago, I was getting a drink at the Ramrod, the official leather watering hole of Fort Lauderdale where I live, when this hot dark Latin guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked with a smile that could sell dog shit, “Aren’t you our neighbor across the canal?” Brazilian born Gabriel then went on to introduce his equally hot partner and fellow Brazilian Rodolfo, and explained they had just had their closing and we’re moving in. Gabriel was a corporate exec in Miami, Rodolfo a college professor teaching MBA hopefuls, and that they had been living in Chicago before coming here.

After apologizing in advance with a lascivious grin that they might be skinny dipping in their backyard pool that faced the canal, Gabriel made a very telling remark, “Besides the friggen winters, the leather scene in Chicago is dead. It’s all here now.”

It’s a conclusion I came to a while ago.

I know I’m talking in generalities and there are always exceptions. Like the short haired no-tits gal who’s a soccer mom, or the nelly cancer specialist I used to work with back in my hospital executive days who had the wife and five kids. But something’s terribly wrong with the leather scene here in the U.S. (I can’t speak for Europe since I’ve never done the scene there with the exception of London’s Hoist) and that terrible wrong is old age.

The Leather Generation is fast becoming the Denture Cream Generation.

For many younger guys, wearing leather is more a fashion statement than a symbol of who they are as gay men. (Some of these ironing board body boys look like their harness is a trainer bra.) Ditto with the emerging “jock” look: hockey gear, football shoulder pads, high socks. It’s all about looking the butch athlete even if some don’t have the body to match.

When I got into leather over thirty years ago, it was more than just looking tough. It said something about your persona, in and out of the bedroom. No-nonsense, rough and ready, not prone to bullshit, with man-to-man sex that included sweat and spit and pleasure on the edge of pain. Squeeze the right nip of today’s young bois and chances they’ll yep, “ouch!”

Sure we’ve got our high profile leather events. Take International Mister Leather or IML in Chicago which one of my buddies said has nothing to do with the contest and everything to do with fucking the days and nights away at the hotel. But a hot humpy 34 year old who adopted me as his Daddy on a recent visit to Chicago has been going to IML for over a decade and tells me numbers are declining. (I still wanna do IML once in my life before go to Great Leather Hell.) And at a recent Folsom Street in San Francisco, a rough and tough 6’ 4” friend of mine told me the only sex he had was a blow job from the leather shop clerk fitting him for a new harness.

Lauderdale hosts a Leather Weekend, climaxed by the crowning of the Mr. Ramrod who will go to next year’s IML to represent the bar. Though Ramrod where the last contest took place was packed, I saw very few faces under thirty-five. I’m an old fart and know all about gay and leather history, but having some ancient gay historian get up on stage and cry on about how he’s outlived all his “boys” or and that we should be more “inclusive” to the leather women in our aging and dwindling leather “community” does not make for a hot and horny time. The only reasons you had a crowd out on a Sunday night was to gawk at some bare asses and maybe, just maybe, score which, if you wanna talk about gay history, is what bars were once all about.

Yet from what I’ve seen and heard from other guys, the Ramrod, located in Fort LauderBottom, and doing brisk business five nights a week, is probably among the top two or three leather bars left in the U.S. today. (The Fort Lauderdale leather scene plays a pivotal role in my novel, “The Czar of Wilton Drive.”)

So what does that tell you, huh?

For further proof of what I’m saying, just look at the state of many leather bars in this country.

New York City, where I used to play extensively for decades before I headed down to Florida, had at least three or four Leather and Leather-friendly hangouts, now all gone. The Spike, The Eagle, and, of course, who could forget the Anvil where they fucked right on the bar. Then in the nineties along came the Lure, the quintessential leather bar, located in a former slaughterhouse in the Meat Market. I remember in those first months the place still stunk of the carcasses that had hung up there just a short time before. There the bouncer wouldn’t let you in if you were wearing sneakers.

Today, I think that bouncer would have a stroke if he saw how some guys in South Florida stroll into the Ramrod, dressed in a leather vest or harness, Bermuda shorts and floppies. Guys, it’s like some hunk suddenly talking to you about French Provencal furniture instead of car engines. Blows the image. And the hard-on.

Recent revisits to some of the other haunts of my younger days have proven the old cliché true: you can’t go back.

Recently I was in the gay villages of both Montreal and Toronto and neither town’s leather haunts were worth the price of a beer – or the cost of going there. For what I spent on these trips, I could have had the best rentboys in Lauderdale – in my bedroom.

Certainly St. Catherine’s, the main drag in Montreal’s Gay Village, looked festive on my last visit in May of 2012. A vast stretch of the street had been transformed into a pedestrian promenade which I found out later they did every spring. All the bars and restaurants had decks jutting out onto the carless street, which was already brimming with people though I couldn’t help but be bothered by the fact that Montreal’s legendary leather bar, Eagle Noir, was populated not with rough and tough levied leather boys but tired old middle aged men there for happy hour.

After a so-so stint at GI Joe’s, the Village’s butch bath house, I returned to Black Eagle at about 10, ready to strip my shirt off in the still comfortable high sixties temperature and found the crowd non-descript and young, not leather at all. Had things changed here, too, as they had in almost every guy and leather haunt in the U.S.? I decided to keep my shirt on.

Two French Canadian twinks were standing by the pool table blocking the way to the upstairs bar. “Excuse me,” I murmured. The taller of the duo stared at me menacingly. “Excuse mois,” he repeated sharply several times. OK, first the bar sucks, then I come up almost empty at the bath house, and now I got a Frenchie scolding me in a bi-lingual country and a tourist section that lives off Americans and other Canadians. Somehow, this trip wasn’t working out.

Even on Friday and Saturday night, the guy bars, crowded with older men in the afternoon, were now populated mostly by the young, and the streets were spilling over with str8 twenty somethings either visiting the str8 clubs that had popped up in this once very gay neighborhood, or just milling around, in a menacing gang-like fashion, that put me a bit on edge.

As for Canada’s other gay hot spot, Toronto, unlike in Lauderdale where you find a mix of ages in most of our bars, T-Town’s scene was classic Generational Divide. All the young, mostly girly guys with their girlfriends, hung out in Woody’s, hands-down T’s most popular bar, which served as the Pittsburg hotspot in “Queer As Folk,” while the over 40 crowd huddled like refugees in Black Eagle, T’s leather bar.

In fact, while Woody’s was hopping almost every night I was in town, Black Eagle was – shall I use the politically correct term? – “quiet” Thursday and even Friday night. Saturday night, however, was the exception. The bar had just re-opened its lower renovated level and I was enveloped in the kind of masculine crowd I craved for. A few guys I had chatted with on line or had seen my profile on one of the hook-up sites came up to me and made me feel welcomed. One even bought me a beer – NSA. And this shirtless, rapidly aging exhibitionist still turned a few heads while I strolled around, so no complaints.

One thing Black Eagle has over our Ramrod here in Lauderdale is a rather large lightless backroom, which was sweaty wall-to-wall Saturday night. Sorry, but I need the visual to get my motor running.

Sunday afternoon I returned to the Eagle for its fabled afternoon barbeque in its huge upstairs sun-bathed outdoor patio. Ah, it was like that scene in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” when Bette Davis slowly comes out of the shadows into the light. They were old, all so old, you know at that stage where old guys are using their harnesses as brasseries.

Ah, but to have been around for the real heyday of Leather, back in the fifties and early sixties in those alley hideaways of New York or Chicago or San Francisco when S and M sent a guy’s cock into a St. Vitas Dance of twitches.

The next best thing is to visit a sleaze hole like London’s fabled warehousey Hoist which I had a chance to check out for the first time the winter of 2008. It was like taking a time machine back 20, 30 years, one living HD, 3D porn flick. Naked butch men with bodies by God and Sir Steroids dancing on a stage across from the bar, their nine inch poles hard enough to hang clothes on; dark corners crowded with groping men, and upstairs, some guy in the shadows getting perpetually fist fucked like an automaton on a ride in Disney World. Hell, a few butch boys worked my tits over so bad I had to put them up in casts for a week. Rough bunch. I visited Paris on that same trip but wasn’t able to get to Le Glove, a fist fucker’s paradise (I opted for Sun City, a local sauna with a Turkish bath motif and got my euros’ worth). But friends tell me Five Finger Harry, as Le Glove is known by the in-crowd, is still alive and well.

So why aren’t the young guys turning to leather in greater numbers to replenish the race here in the good old U.S. of A.? Maybe because they’re over all the hang-ups about being gay that we, the first few generations who followed on the heels of Gay Liberation, were still saddled with, and who turned to leather and all its masculine smell and feel and image, perhaps, to convince ourselves and the world that we were men first. After all, when gay marriage is being discussed in Congress and the Supreme Court, what’s left to prove?

My prediction is that in a decade or less, that as its traditional aging clientele drop off their chaps at the local thrift shop to be made into Prada purses in Vietnam, and trade their cock rings for a TV remote, leather bars and stand-up guy bars, if they exist at all, will go mainstream gay – read young and swishy with lots of girl girls – or even str8. The bottom line is that to stay in business, to sell those six dollar drinks with fifteen cents of liquor in them, to survive, bars that were once exclusive retreats for a mysterious “men only” leather scene will have to capitulate – and some have already – to whatever and whoever walks through the door.

In my book, “The Czar of Wilton Drive,” two rival bar owners argue about the long-term viability of the leather scene. Finally, the one who’s convinced it’s time has come and gone, ends the argument on a very practical note, “If dogs could drink, we’d run free dog biscuit nights.”

Once, I ran out on a trick that wanted me to perform asphyxiation sex on him. In my panic, I left behind my favorite leather vest. In all the years since, I’ve never been able to find a vest that fit me as well as that one did.

And now I realize I never will.

Czar Banner Final

Enter the RaffleCopter giveaway with this book tour: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/555033ec3/

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Room 1024 Book Blast

Next week our blog tour for Room 1024 starts, which will include lots of blog posts about the whys and hows of this story, but today you can enter to win an e-copy the story through our book blast with Pride Promotions.  Visit any of the sites below to check out an excerpt and enter the rafflecopter promotion.

pridepromobig

Parker Williams
MM Good Book Reviews
Love Bytes
Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
Inked Rainbow Reads
3 Chicks After Dark
Molly Lolly
BFD Book Blog
LeAnn’s Book Reviews
Wake Up Your Wild Side
Charley Descoteaux
My Fiction Nook
Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings
Rainbow Gold Reviews
Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
Cate Ashwood
Amanda C. Stone
It’s Raining Men
Michael Mandrake
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

For now, you can preorder this novelette through Torquere. Pre-orders will receive it the night of April 7. Available at Amazon and other retailers by release day, April 8.

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Coming this week: 1024 Blog Blast & Starling Paperback Giveaway

Erin & I are currently gearing up for what feels like a wall of releases: Room 1024 (April 8), a BDSM M/M/M/M novelette; “Adjunct Hell” in Young Love, Old Hearts (May 1); Midsummer (a date in May to be announced soon); Phoenix (June 10); and Twelfth Night (likely in August); and with even more to come!

While we type away on over 60 blog posts for those various tours (so if you have a topic you’d like us to address, do let us know!), we do have a few fun things to share with you now.

First up, to get ready for the release of Phoenix, we’re doing another giveaway for a paperback copy of Starling over at Goodreads. You can enter between now and June 3. Must be over 18 and in the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. to enter and/or win.

We’d also like to remind LiLA fans (and anyone else) that if they sign up to our mailing list (just drop your email address in the field at right), you’ll get our once monthly newsletter (it’s the only time we email you and we never share your information), which includes information on upcoming releases, and starting on April 1, a free short-short story. April’s will be about LiLA’s Liam and Victor; May’s will be about Alex and Gemma.

1024blastNext, this Friday, there will be a “blog blast” for Room 1024.  Our blog tour will actually start on release day, but on April 3, you’ll be able to get previews of the story, enter for a chance to win a copy, and, I think, check out some advance reviews. We’ll post links to all of the sites and the contest details on Friday morning.

We also have some fun guest posts coming up here from authors both in the M/M romance and gay lit spaces. If you’re interested in us hosting you on your blog tour, just drop to erin.and.racheline@gmail.com — we’ll happily accept most books on the LGBTQ+ spectrum (romance and otherwise), and are open to non-LGBTQ+ books if they really excite us and/or help to promote diverse romance.

Finally, if you are in NYC, don’t forget to visit us at the 7th Annual New York Rainbow Book Fair on April 18th, from 12-6pm.  We’ll be selling paperbacks of the LiLA books, Best Gay Romance 2015Racheline’s lesbian werewolf novella, and more!

Posted in BDSM, books, events, lgbtq, Love in Los Angeles, Midsummer, New release news, Phoenix, Room 1024, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment