Just because it’s not how you love, doesn’t mean it’s not love

artofToday has been a little odd. And this is going to be a little long.

This weekend, Erin and I are participating in OutWrite, a queer literary event in Washington DC. I’m doing a panel and a reading, we’re seeing friends and selling books, and we’re super excited. This year, we’re even more excited because we just got word that an excerpt of The Art of Three is going to appear in MetroWeekly, DC’s longest running gay weekly, which has been in operation since 1994, the year I left Washington DC after completing university and working, briefly, at the legendary Lambda Rising. What a weird, magical, full-circle moment. Especially for a book that is odd, personal, and despite being wildly gentle, was a genuinely terrible ordeal for Erin and I to write. There was a lot of crying involved through which we found the theme of that story, as well as the theme of trying to be ambitious people with complicated lives: You can change your life without blowing it up. You can build on what you have. You can find your way home.

Today, we also received our RITA scores for The Art of Three and A Queen from the North. Neither book finaled, which is fine. A Queen from the North did exactly as we expected in terms of scores. The Art of Three actually did too, even though those scored ranged from 3.6 to 9.5.

But hey, it’s not a book for everyone. Low-heat polyamory doesn’t show up in romance a lot. And the book’s pace is slow. While it was named a winner in the Bisexual Romance category in this year’s Rainbow Awards, we weren’t expecting anything from the RITAs other than a huge range of scores, and we’re completely happy with that. Seeing how niche romance lands for a relatively random selection of romance professionals is a super valuable experience.

Here’s what we’re not happy with:

When judging the RITAs, judges must answer whether the book contains a central romance and whether the book has an ending which is satisfying and optimistic. And one judge said no.

Here’s the central story of The Art of Three: A happily married couple who have been polyamorous for their entire 20+ year marriage have a relationship with a younger man with whom they form a polyfidelitous triad. An unexpected pregnancy within that triad  is then received with joy.

Here are the supporting stories of The Art of Three: The younger hero’s sister with Down Sydrome gets engaged to her boyfriend. One adult daughter of the married couple gets married. Another adult daughter of the married couple gets engaged. A third adult daughter of the married couple has a baby. The older hero learns how to be a better husband and father. The heroine learns she can have everything she wants with the support of men who love her. The younger hero falls in love, has a family, and strengthens his relationship with his supportive parents. Also in the book? What it means to have survived generational trauma with joy and love — whether that trauma be the AIDS plague years,  the damage done to women and families by the Magdalene laundries in Ireland, or the erasure of faith in the heritage of those who are of converso Jewish backgrounds

So I don’t care if someone gave the book 3.6. Maybe you were bored. Maybe you hated the characters. Maybe you don’t like our prose. Maybe you really wanted a higher heat level. But don’t tell me it’s not love. Don’t tell me it’s not optimistic.

The great joy and problem of romance is that it’s always personal. Whether a given book reflects our relationship(s) or not, it does reflect what we think love is. And to tell any author polyamory can’t be love or that bisexual people can’t be loved is profoundly ugly. And that’s what happened for us today.

But hey, tomorrow, 45,000 people will get to read an excerpt of a story I cried my way through Europe to write. And one day, the damn bigots will get out of the RWA, and Erin and I will earn our 3.6’s on the merits of our storytelling and not the judgement of our identities and lives.

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Cardinal (Love in Los Angeles 4) content information post

CardinalFinalHi! We’re really excited Cardinal will be out in the world soon (August 28, 2018), but as this has always been a series about imperfect people dealing imperfectly with trauma we wanted to provide you some content information about this book.

As ever, if you need more details (specific question, chapter numbers, etc) we’re happy to provide once we have the final formatted file.
Cardinal contains the following content you may wish to be aware of in advance of reading:
Discussion of intense dietary choices to look a certain way for an acting role (being bulkier/more muscular for what’s basically a super hero movie) and then intense dietary choices to reverse that. There is no discussion of eating disorders but these choices aren’t entirely non-toxic. This is a minor thread that shows up for maybe four sentences about four times in the course of the novel. It’s a background thread, not a plot line.
Discussion of past family violence, which has been mentioned earlier in the series, is mentioned again. Alex’s sister, Delilah is a character in this book. She’s out of prison and Alex is not emotionally prepared for this, in part because of two times she threatened him when they were both children.
Discussion of a male character being threatened with sexual assault in his past. Assault threat is not descriptive. Assault did not take place. Character was not touched in any way during the threat. The person making the threat, however had a gun. This scene is brief and not graphic but is emotionally very hard. It’s in the Indiana section of the book, and it’s telegraphed pretty clearly that it’s coming, but we can let you know chapter or page numbers once formatting is done.
Repeated reference to a childhood incident in which one of the characters almost drowned in a lake on his family’s property. Incident is not described with any detail.
Discussion of Catholicism as the subject of a TV show in the narrative. This discussion is neither pro- nor anti- faith, nor does it address any church scandals.
There is other content in this book that doesn’t need a warning, but may cause some readers to worry something bad is going to happen. We would like to assure you of the following:
The trans woman introduced in this book experiences no transphobia or sexism or violence; the fact that she is trans is not framed as a secret anyone discovers, and she gets a happy, romantic enemies-to-lovers narrative in which the fact that she is trans is not an issue in the relationship progression.
In fact, no one experiences any violence whatsoever in the present timeline of the book.
There are several children in this book. Nothing bad happens to any of them.
All animals in this book are happy and healthy for the entire book.
We would also like to remind you of the following:
This series includes both monogamish and polyamorous characters some of whom are still figuring their deal out. While there is no cheating in this book, there is consensual non-monogamy.
Characters use harsh, and sometimes cruel, language, often as regards the mental health issues they themselves are navigating.
All of that said:
Cardinal is a hopeful book about finally putting the past to rest and finding out your future is much better — and fuller and richer and stranger — than you ever thought it could be. It is book 4 in a series that needs to be read in order.
The Love in Los Angeles series will contain two more full-length novels, book 5 Kinglet and a book 6, which is not yet titled.
Any questions, you can email us at erin.and.racheline@gmail.com or ping us on Twitter and we will answer confidentially and to the best our abilities
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After the Gold – out now!

After the Gold is now available wherever you buy ebooks, and the paperback will be available later this month. Additionally, we did make our preorder goal, so embarrassing skating live-blog/streaming will happen later this summer.

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay | B&N

Winning isn't everything (3)For over a decade, world-champion ice skaters Katie Nowacki and Brendan Reid have been partners in every way but one. But now that their electric on-ice chemistry has led them to Olympic gold, they’re retiring from competition. 

As they cross America on an exhibition tour with their fellow athletes, Katie and Brendan’s always volatile relationship becomes more turbulent than ever as they face down the media, their fans, and their increasingly nosy teammates. 

When Katie realizes she wants to go back to the farm she grew up on, leaving Brendan behind in the city where they trained, their fairy tale seems destined to end.

But will Brendan be able to convince her to trust him with the off-ice intimacy that only spelled disaster in their past?

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay | B&N

(P.S., if you’re one of our readers, and you happen to be going to the Thank You Canada skating tour stop in Kingston, let us know!)

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Paperwork, polyamory, and vampires, oh my!

Sex... death... taxes....pngJust a quick post to share a link to this lovely review of Snare, our M/M/M novella set in an alternate New York City in which Manhattan’s culture has evolved out of its role as a vampire prison island. (Yeah, I know, when I summarize this book in once sentence, I blink a lot too).

Snare is a weird book that may not be a great fit for all readers, but this review will definitely help you figure out if it’s the right book for you!

Since Snare lives deep in our back catalog, we were delighted to see some renewed interest in it, especially since we’ve had a completed outline for a sequel on hand since we wrote it.

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After the Gold playlist

Gold6 copyErin and I haven’t done a playlist for a book for a long time, in part because we came to the conclusion that no one really cares but us. That said, a book about competitive figure skating necessarily has music at its core. And, for all the skating (and general hotness) inspiration we’ve talked about, we haven’t really talked about music, and how much After the Gold wouldn’t exist without some of the songs on this list.

Before we had even decided to write this book, my brain couldn’t stop choreographing a skating routine to “Glitter & Gold” (the jumps are in the pauses, the footwork sequence in the bridge). And if it weren’t for “Sky Full of Song” we might not have realized this book needed a Heroine Cries in the Shower scene.

This playlist will probably expand as release day approaches, but if you need something to set the mood now, here you go:

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So about those ice skaters….

Chemistry is weird. So is partnership.

When I was in Revolutionary Road, people on the crew kept asking me and my dance partner on that film how long we had been together. “You guys just look so in love.” We had met that afternoon, didn’t really have much to say to each other, and I’m pretty sure he would later get it on with one of the other women in the cast. But we loved performing love with each other. The cameras would roll and it was just this really exciting feedback loop of being willing to be in an honest, performative moment with each other. It was addictive and cool and hilarious. And no matter how many times we told people we had just met and weren’t vibing outside of scenes, no one believed us. So we took it as a hilarious compliment, giggled and pressed our heads together, and kept doing it until our work was done. It wasn’t puzzling to us. Just lovely.

In part because we’d had these experiences before. Years before, when I studied acting at NIDA in Sydney, we were working on the Scottish play, and my Macbeth and I, his Lady, just liked to sit close. Something about the characters made us feel like the other was safe when no one else was. But we weren’t into each other — I’m pretty sure he had a gf and I know I was nursing two incredibly complicated situations at the time. I remember feeling mortified more than once when we lost our lines because staring into each other’s eyes was just so much fun.

It’s is no secret whatsoever that After the Gold, our ice skating romance out on June 12, happened because Erin and I couldn’t stop talking about Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. For those not in the know, they’re the Canadian ice dancing pair that did that super sexy routine to Moulin Rouge and everyone is super sure must be dating each other. Except, of course, they keep saying they’re not. But how can that be?

Let me tell you, I and various near strangers I have worked with as a performer can tell you exactly how that can be. Or at least, that it can be. That doesn’t mean I know how to explain it. The closest I can get, really, other than the stories above, is a line in our Love in Los Angeles series, where Alex and Liam, both actors, are talking about their weird, intimate, and unsettling friendship. It’s okay, one of them says, the guy in my head is still in love with the guy in your head.

I’ve got no idea what Virtue and Moir’s deal is. But I absolutely believe them when they say they’re not in a romantic relationship off the ice. I’m just super glad we get to watch their performance of a romantic relationship on the ice, and that they are still willing to talk publicly about the nature of creative collaboration at all.

Becausedamn, nothing turns our crank harder around here. Collaboration, public/private tension, city mouse/country mouse, and anxiety/depression are all places our stories like to live whether were writing about TV stars, film actors, royalty, or competitive athletes. That those stores are (also) romances isn’t about simplifying them (seriously, stop saying wack things about the romance genre) so much as choosing a joyful common language through which to talk about the incredibly strange experience of uniting for a shared purpose.

While you’ll recognize our love of figure skaters and ice dancers like Virtue and Moir (and Torvill and Dean, and Oksana Baiul, and Gordeeva and Grinkov, and many many more… I’m going of the top of my head here) in After the Gold, you will, we hope, mostly recognize our characters as what they really are — their own people with their own unique challenges of living public lives that only reflect a small portion of a private story.

Gold6 copy

After the Gold (June 12, 2018)

For over a decade, world-champion ice skaters Katie Nowaki and Brendan Reid have been partners in every way but one. But now that their electric on-ice chemistry has led them to Olympic gold, they’re retiring from competition. 

As they cross America on an exhibition tour with their fellow athletes, Katie and Brendan’s always volatile relationship becomes more turbulent than ever as they face down the media, their fans, and their increasingly nosy teammates. 

When Katie realizes she wants to go back to the farm she grew up on, leaving Brendan behind in the city where they trained, their fairy tale seems destined to end.

But will Brendan be able to convince her to trust him with the off-ice intimacy that only spelled disaster in their past?

(Also, P.S., this was originally going to be an ebook only release, but we’ve just decided to bring it out in paperback too!)

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Royal Wedding Romance Recs!

An ancient rivalry. A modern romanceWe’re so happy to see A Queen from the North on this royal romance rec list paired by astrological sign from Alyssa Cole writing for Frolic.

Also, more lists like this please! It’s fantastic, appropriate, and necessary to see trad and indie books, heroines with a wide variety of backgrounds, authors and characters of color, and queer and het books all in the same place. If you like royals, be sure to check it out!

 

 

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