GfY and the Love’s Labours series

There’s an important, ongoing discussion in Romancelandia about “Gay for You” books. That is, M/M romances where one or more of the main characters has never been attracted to men before. But things happen and our hero makes an exception for his one true love.

Quite reasonably, this particular trope causes a lot of frustration for bisexual people (among others) in the romance community, because it is, among other things, bi-erasing. Invariably, a bisexual author will post about their feelings on this subject and other authors will then weigh in. When it gets messy isn’t around disagreement between queer authors on this subject (it exists), but when straight authors tell bisexual authors how they should feel about this trope. (In general, telling people how to feel about things is how stuff goes wrong, but so it goes).

This post is not about my and Erin’s opinion on this trope as bisexual authors or anything else (lots of people have already written great think pieces on this we don’t need to replicate). Rather, we just want to clarify what our Love’s Labours books Midsummer and Twelfth Night contain, since early on in their lives we referred to them as GfY as that seemed necessary to capture the reading audience. We regret that choice now for the reasons outlined above and because a couple of years into this romance writing thing we’ve realized we don’t need to try to squish our books into boxes that don’t quite fit (and are at times troubling) to find readers. Also, flat out, we’re sorry if we’ve contributed to any shittiness in a genre that is certainly experiencing some growing pains.

The relationship in these books is between a gay man and a man who has never found himself attracted to men before. This man does not devalue his past with women (he has an ex-wife unrelated to the new relationship with whom he is close friends); it does not stop him from continuing to be attracted to women; and it leads him and his boyfriend to discuss labels, what they mean, why they are or aren’t important, and which he prefers (queer or bi). Additionally, this character doesn’t deal with much internalized homophobia; he’s much more concerned his boyfriend might be a changeling.

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Cover release and pre-order dates for The Art of Three and A Queen from the North

We’ve been working with Victoria Cooper Art on the cover designs for our upcoming books The Art of Three and A Queen from the North, as well as for the Love in Love Angeles relaunch.

We’re so excited to share these new covers with you, but alas, that won’t be until next year. Pre-orders will launch the same day as the cover reveal. Below is the tiniest hint of what’s to come!

artofthree_promo     qftn_promo

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Big Changes (or, an important announcement about availability of some titles)

As some of you may have noticed, Erin and I have recently taken some small steps into being hybrid authors (that is, authors who work with publishers and also self-publish) with a few shorts placed in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program.

As of today, we’re taking a much bigger step in that direction, having reacquired the rights to all our titles with Torquere Press, including those in the Love in Los Angeles series and our forthcoming releases, The Art of Three and A Queen from the North.

What does all of this mean for you? Lots of good things!

First, our titles originally released by Torquere will soon cease to be available through their website or any distributor. But never fear! They will be back. While we’re still working out a calendar of re-release dates, we can report the following:

Starling, Doves, and Phoenix will be re-edited to get the love they always deserved and rereleased with new covers in 2017, as a lead up to the release of book 4 in the series, Cardinal. The books will be available in print and digital editions across multiple distributors. Evergreen, the Liam-centric Christmas novella, will also be re-released as part of this effort. We will also be looking towards producing audiobook editions of this series. Which, yes, is still slated for six books.

Short stories, novellas, and novelettes will begin being re-released digitally within 30 days of their removal from distributor sites. These will also have new covers and fresh edits. Some of these stories will be released across all distributors and some will go to KU for a period before being released to all distributors.

We will also begin to compile two anthologies of our short stories and novelettes — one featuring paranormal romance stories, and one featuring contemporary stories. These will be released in print and digital across multiple distributors when they reach an appropriate length. We’ll be writing some new shorts to make that happen.

The Art of Three, our low-heat polyamorous MMF romance novel featuring the formation of a multinational poly triad and a 48-year-old heroine will remain on the same release schedule, and will be in your hands — print and digital — March 28, 2017. We will also be looking towards producing an audiobook edition of this title.

A Queen from the North, our contemporary royal romance set in a not-so-United Kingdom still riven with the wounds from the Wars of the Roses, will also remain on the same release schedule, and will be in your hands — print and digital — May 23,2017. We will also be looking towards producing an audiobook edition of this title.

New works continue to be developed. Some we may self-publish; some we will publish traditionally.

There is no change in status, or intent to change the status, of our works with Dreamspinner Press or Cleis Press or for our recently signed contract with Riptide Publishing for our first F/F title, Desperate Needs.

We are excited about these changes, and love the editorial and creative team we’ve assembled to make our new releases and our re-releases the very best they can be.

We also want to take this moment to thank Torquere for its support and enthusiasm for our, at times, eclectic work. We wouldn’t be where we are, or able to take this step, without them.

If you have any questions, you know where to find us. We’ll post release schedules as soon as we have them sorted. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to update our website and marketing materials to reflect these new changes. This month’s newsletter will go out after the approaching holiday weekend.

Thank you for coming along for the ride!

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New project, new contract… and it’s F/F!

While I’m holiday (a holiday consumed with editing, producing and behind devoured by sand flies) and Erin is recovering from hanging out with my cats and seeing Hamilton, we have some news!

We’ve just signed a contract for Desperate Needs, our first F/F romance to be published by Riptide Publishing probably in 2018. Desperate Needs will be part of a multi-author series of interlinked books that all center around a private social club for women who love women with branches in New York and Los Angeles.

Here’s the pitch blurb on the book (although P.S., character names may change because sometimes we’re persnickety like that):

Diane Darling is the daughter of a dynasty. Although she has been raised since birth to walk red carpets and carry on her parents A-list acting legacy, Diane fancies herself an auteur. There’s just one problem: Securing financing from a Hollywood money machine that only puts women in the director’s chair 10% of the time.

Diane thinks she’s found her big break when her parents’ connections lead her to Walter Bancroft, a successful producer responsible for two of the last decade’s Best Picture winners. But when he offers to pony up 80% of the funds she needs to film her movie, Diane finds out his largesse comes with strings–of the casting couch variety.

When Diane turns down the funds, Walter’s wife Cynthia, who has spent years watching her husband “help” creative women while her own life has been devoted to supporting Walter’s career, catches her on the way out. She hands Diane a business card for the Rose and Thorns and suggests Diane might find allies, and funds, there.

As Diane follows the lead provided to her by Cynthia, she encounters a whole world of female power players the Hollywood myth told her never existed. She also discovers that Walter has a long record of preying on women looking to get ahead. With the aid of Cynthia and her new friends, Diane sets about making her movie, bringing down Walter, and winning Cynthia’s heart for her very own.

We’ll be posting more about this series, including all the participating authors as they announce on their own social media!

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Did you know we’re self-publishing?

Okay, only a little. Mostly, we’re still working with the great teams at Torquere, Dreamspinner, Cleis, and more, but we’ve also begun to get our rights back on various short stories and have been re-editing them and re-releasing them.

While eventually we’ll release these titles with other distributors and do a collection of short stories you can also buy in print, right now, these two re-releases are available via Kindle Unlimited or for $.99 each on Amazon.


Lake Effect

When Kyle and Daniel return to their hometown to get married, they find themselves facing an obstacle course of family drama and small-town misadventure. Relatives misbehave, a reformed high school bully shares some surprising news, and the wedding party is in crisis.

But all the chaos only cements Kyle and Daniel’s desire… for each other and their own happily ever after!

This story previously appeared in They Do, an anthology published by Torquere Press, June 2014.


reluctant2The Omega’s Reluctant Alpha

When young omega and newly minted lawyer Andrew takes a job at a local Savannah law firm, he struggles to hide his uncontrolled shifting. Luckily for him, the firm’s owner, William, offers to help, ensuring they both get a lot more than they bargained for!

Previously appeared in His Animal Instinct: More Tales of Wild Pleasure, March 2016.

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Will & Jane… and a short personal history of desire and shame

389521This past weekend, I was in Washington DC for the OutWrite book festival, which meant Erin and I absolutely had to go see the Folger Library’s Will & Jane exhibit, about the construction of celebrity around both William Shakespeare and Jane Austen.

Afterwards, I asked Erin if she wanted to write about it or if I should.

“You’re funnier,” she said.

Except I don’t think this post is going to be very funny.

From the time I was a little kid, my parents have, periodically, asked me what I’ve wanted and then told me why I didn’t actually want whatever was contained in my reply. Cabbage Patch Kid dolls were just a fad, I didn’t really want that for Christmas, did I?  The other girls at summer camp may have worn sexy underwear, but I didn’t want to be sexy, did I? Boys with eyeliner were all the rage, but I didn’t want to date someone like that, did I?

From ice cream cones to vampire novels, my desires — or the very idea that I had desires at all — were always suspect. I learned early to stare at things I wanted with a quiet longing. If my parents noticed and found my desires acceptable, they might offer to get it for me; if they didn’t, I wouldn’t be mocked. I kept the things I desired secret and safe. I kept them as talismans. And I kept them as shame.

Which brings us to the Folger.

Will & Jane is a small exhibit that even the most exhaustive viewing of could hardly take more than an hour. It acknowledges, frequently and without further explanation, fan fiction and other forms of fan production, highlighting the degree to which these terms are now common both in daily life and in academia. Objects of fannish devotion are displayed throughout the exhibit and include everything from porcelain figurines of legendary Shakespearean performers to a Pride and Prejudice board game.

Also Mr. Darcy’s shirt.

Yes, the shirt from the lake scene in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice which has resulted in such a scene existing in virtually all of the Pride and Prejudice adaptations since, despite not appearing in the original novel.

A lot of people were there to see the shirt.

Let’s face it, we were there to see the shirt.

Because when we heard about the exhibit, we went, “Well, this is funny. We should go. As romance writers, it’s our job.”

Also friends kept emailing us, so we kept having to email back: Yes. Yes. We know. The shirt Colin Firth wore in Pride and Prejudice. Yes, we’re going. Yes, we’ll tell you about it.

It’s a shirt in a glass case.

That’s it. That’s the whole story.

Except I couldn’t look at it. Like I can’t look at Cabbage Patch Dolls, lingerie, or ice cream, like I apologize for liking vampire novels and like I brace myself when my partner innocently and with all good intention asks me what I want for the holidays. Every year the question freaks me out a little less, but every year it’s still hard.

So I couldn’t look at the shirt. But what I could look at was the other women at the exhibit — and it was mostly women. They were braver than I. They could look at the shirt, and at the giant video screen playing the shirt clip. They took selfies with it and made friends with other women there to do the same things. I wondered what it was like to be women like them.

I am one of the hungriest people you’ll ever meet. Ambitious, driven. I want constantly and am considered peculiar for it often. But where I have found courage to talk about my ambitions despite what people think of ambitious women, I still largely lack courage to discuss my desires. Or really do much more than look, quietly, while hoping no one will notice.

Will & Jane is lovely and very funny exhibit about everything I care about — stories and marketing and the construction of fame and about how there’s really no meaningful divide between high and low culture. But it mattered to me mostly because it reminded me why romance novels matter.

They are about desire as it has so often been forbidden to us as women, as queer people, and as other marginalized identities that so often don’t get to desire and be desired if that desire and desirability doesn’t fit neatly into a white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied gaze.

I’m 43 years old. I’ve sold five romance novels and over a dozen romance novellas and shorter stories. I’ve been a sex worker and a model and a dancer and an actress. I’ve been looked at for a living. I’m even naked in a film with Nicole Kidman, so my ass was once made of light and dust and glowed on the big screen in movie theaters across the continent and beyond.

But I am still learning that it’s okay to want and that I don’t have to watch TV through my fingers or with a growing sense of dread if I find someone or something on the screen desirable.

And the only reason I continue to learn that it’s okay to look and to want and to talk about it is because of Romancelandia and the giddy women that populate it and fannish moments and events like Will & Jane.

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Theater review: Hadestown

Hadestown New York Theatre WorkshopOver the long holiday weekend, I saw a production of Hadestown at the New York Theater Workshop. A folk-opera set somewhere in the rust belt during the depression, Hadestown joins the story of Orpheus and Eurydice with the story of Hades and Persephone into one of the most powerful, exciting, and disturbing meditations on power, freedom, and love that I’ve ever seen.

In Hadestown Persephone relishes her six months in the sun, bringing liquor and music to the surface, before her husband drags her back down. It’s during this period that Eurydice and Orpheus meet. But once in the underworld, it’s consistently clear that they are two people who, having once loved each other are now unavoidably furious with each other, and what looms between the is the story of who each of them are — Persephone inconstant; Hades powerful.

Meanwhile, on the surface, Eurydice is hungry. Is the hunger of poverty? Is this the hunger of someone overshadowed by her lover’s obsession with his talents? Is this the hunger of the ambitious? While lyrically the physical hunger of poverty is most clearly called out, these other issues are never absent and Eurydice eventually catches a train to Hadestown to have her hunger met.

There, she signs a contract to work for Hades and when he spits her out onto the factory floor after whatever “happens behind closed doors” the other women on the factory floor (the Fates who are the chorus throughout the show) tell her she’s trapped here now. Forever. Eurydice is shocked. She’s different. Special. He said! Behind closed doors….

Don’t they always?

As the rest of the show unfolds, we see how the talents of supposedly great men — Orpheus to sing, Hades to build industry — render women invisible from their own stories and systematically block men from having the emotional skills to actually get the things they want.

Many romance readers will naturally have a strong inclination towards the young/new love story of Eurydice and Orpheus, but for me Persephone and Hades’s story was chilling and fascinating. Let’s be clear, this is a show where Hades sings a song about how the best way to chain a woman is with diamonds and gold, but at no point does the show indict the women for doing what they need to do to survive, for being seduced, for showing their talents any which way they can, or for wanting better from the ultimate failures of their men.

As someone who often writes love stories about what happens after the happily ever after, and about the burdens of success and public life on private existence, Hadestown was painfully in my sweet spot. I was raised to be Persephone, and to witness her endurance was remarkable. I thought often of the heroine of our upcoming poly romance, The Art of Three.

Since this is a romance blog, I do feel obligated to note this is not a show with an HEA. In a way, it has no ending at all — it’s about storytelling and a single iteration of a story that is always told in an eternal, endless circle, making the wedding band the story itself. We are bound to it, whether we wish to be or not.

I also feel obligated to note that the show is most effective if you know as little as possible going in, particularly in regard to a political moment that is accidentally shocking (the show began development ten years ago, that one of the songs intersects terrifying with current U.S. politics is an odd fluke).

Hadestown is currently running at the New York Theatre Workshop through July 31 (I’m hoping for another extension so Erin can see it when she is in New York in August). A concept album that is not terribly reflective of the current state of the show exists, and a cast recording of this production has been made and is due out sometime soon.

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