Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The M/M Romance Hall of Fame

Each sport seems to have one. Rock 'n' roll and country music have them. I'm sure there are many other halls of fame for countless professions and pursuits. So why not one for our little corner of the literary world?

I first introduced male-male attraction into my published fiction about six years ago. (Actually, I explored sexual orientation far earlier than that, in some of my non-genre novels. Only one has been published). Back then, Goodreads didn't exist. Amazon was around but e-readers weren't, so Amazon peddled only print books. But blogs and Yahoo groups abounded, and it was through these that I became familiar with the pioneers of m/m romance -- authors and publishers who, to this day, remain iconic. A bit later, review sites devoted exclusively to our genre began to appear.

Therefore, I'll divide my M/M Romance Hall of Fame into rooms -- Publishers, Authors, Reviewers, Cover Artists -- and populate them with major contributors to the genre's visibility, respectability, and popularity. Keep in mind that all of my inductees have withstood the test of time.


From the beginning, my beginning, I saw certain names with awe-inspiring frequency. The work of these writers was (and still is) enjoyed and admired and often revered. Willa Okati and Ally Blue; Sean Michael,  James Buchanan, and Sarah Black; VJB and RRR and the two JLs (Lanyon and Langley); soon thereafter, ZAM and KAM and JCP. (You bet their initials will do!) Then I discovered m/m historical romance, a rich subgenre within the wider genre, and realized it had its own greats: Alex Beecroft, Erastes, Charlie Cochrane, Tamara Allen, Ruth Sims. They get their own niche in the Author Room.


Companies that released m/m (or GLBT) romance exclusively were few and far between when I entered the genre. The ones that have survived the longest certainly deserve a place in the Hall of Fame. So I'm overlooking all past kerfuffles surrounding Torquere Press, the ugly covers of MLR Press, and any grumbling about Dreamspinner Press, and I'm giving credit where credit is due. Starting these companies required vision and balls of steel; not one of them installed the safety net of heterosexual erotic romance. They deserve to be honored. (Should I include Lethe, too? I'm undecided, because they publish "literary" as well as romance fiction -- although, frankly, the distinction often eludes me.)

He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abyss of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.

~ H. L. Mencken, on the writing style of President Warren G. Harding

Love 'em or hate 'em, reviewers have been the evangelists of m/m romance. They can't be excluded from the Hall of Fame. The first two inductees have to be Elisa Rolle and Jessewave, both of whom have made enormous contributions to the genre. They've promoted acceptance, deepened understanding, and helped advance authors' careers. Perhaps most important, they've encouraged open, frank discussions among readers. I won't listen to any smack-talk about Elisa or Wave. They're both incredible women. Jenre's "Well Read" blog, Val Kovalin's "Obsidian Bookshelf," and Chris's "Stumbling Over Chaos" also go back some years. They all helped paved the way for the excellent GLBTQ review and promotional sites we see today.


Since I don't know how long most of them have been working in the genre, I currently have only one inductee. Gee, can you guess who she is? ;-)

Now . . . who would your nominees be? I know I've left people out through sheer oversight, so help me correct that! Just keep in mind there are criteria for the Hall of Fame. (Yeah, okay, so they're my criteria, but this is my blog.) Authors, publishers, and reviewers have to have proved their staying-power, and they can't have a recent history of dipping their toes into other genres.         

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Of Mongrels and Mermen

My next appearance will be on March 20 at a wonderful new website that's an offshoot of Coffee Time Romance and is devoted specifically to steampunk. Since I just signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for Merman (which should come out this summer), I'll of course be talking about Mongrels and Menfish and how I like incorporating fantasy into the industrialized world of Purinton. If you don't have a copy of Mongrel, you'll have a chance to win a free download.

So, what's Merman about? I obviously can't tell you the whole story ;-), but here are some hints:

Floating Brick Island, once the site of a penal colony that was destroyed in a ferocious hurricane over a century ago.

Tower Hole, a chasm of indeterminate depth just off the shore of that bleak heap of rocks and rubble.

And . . . an alluring mutant.

When vampire Clancy Marrowbone returns to Purin province 22 months after his departure, he certainly doesn't anticipate spending time near the sea. He intends only to visit briefly with his friend Fanule Perfidor, the "Dog King," in the village of Taintwell. He also intends to avoid his former lover, the unfortunately mortal Simon Bentcross. What would be the point of rekindling their affair? Marrowbone merely wants to know how Simon is faring.

Quite well, it turns out. Bentcross, who now owns a machinery repair shop, has designed a submersible vessel for underwater exploration. He’ll be manning his “Bubble” for the Tower Hole Research and Recovery Expedition, a project shrouded in secrecy. 

Vaguely troubled after his visit with Perfidor, the restless vampire stops at a deserted stretch of beach just south of the Marvelous Mechanical Circus in Purinton, the provincial capital. He needs time to reflect before he moves on. 

Then Fate steps in.

A startling discovery followed by an even more startling intrusion redirect Marrowbone's attention and substantially alter his plans. He's forced from thought into action. By the following evening, Clancy Marrowbone realizes his visit to the province won’t be so short after all . . . especially when Simon Bentcross reenters his life. In addition to their conflicted passion, Simon’s involvement in the mysterious Tower Hole project and Clancy’s involvement with a mysterious creature lead to a growing host of complications and dangers. As if their affair weren’t star-crossed enough, both the vampire and his mortal lover become hunted men -- in Taintwell and beyond.

(By the way, you can read the opening to Merman here. More excerpts are to come.)

Hope to see you on the 20th!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why Catholic Girls Are Easy

Hey, it isn't only my opinion. I've had a few Jewish boyfriends tell me the same. So why do we have this reputation?

The answer lies in two words: forbidden fruit.

For example: OH. EM. GEE. (Slash, slash, slash!)

Did you take a gander at that man? Did you notice he's wearing a Roman collar? Yikes, if ever the rule of celibacy (aka "continence") begged to be broken!

Today on "CBS This Morning," three young seminarians in Rome were interviewed. See the adorable one in the middle? He admitted celibacy was his biggest impediment to joining the priesthood. (Gee, ya think? He could easily get his fancy tickled by both genders!)

Straight Catholic girls and gay Catholic boys are endlessly titillated by images of desirable but untouchable men -- in churches and schools, in religious textbooks, on prayer cards. 

First and foremost in the seduction department is, of course, Jesus, who is beautiful in every one of his artistic incarnations (even those in which he's hanging on the cross!)


Then there's St. Sebastian, probably the hottest of all the holy hotties (if you can overlook the arrows), and a host of other martyrs and saints.

Young Catholics have to fend off fantasies of cute young priests, too, and even their own classmates. All are off-limits to their libidos. No wonder we're easy. By the time we're teenagers, we're ready to explode!

The older I got, the more I wondered, What is with this Church? It hates and fears "the flesh," but its most revered figures are portrayed as gorgeous people in various states of undress, not to mention suffering. Believers are expected to view them as pious and pure, and to have only spiritually refined reactions to their images. Throw the rule of celibacy -- forced sexual abstinence -- into the mix, and one could swear there's a highly charged vein of kink running through the Rock.

I've been reminded of all these things during media coverage of the papal election. How wonderful it would be if the Catholic Church pulled its head out of its antiquated, doctrinaire ass and stopped treating the human body as nothing more than a facilitator of procreation. What a miracle it would be if those portly or withered cardinals really looked at Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel -- all the vigorous, well-muscled, near-nude figures -- and had a collective epiphany: Damn, what have we been thinking for all these repressed, sexless centuries? Why have we been encouraging shame and secrecy? What's wrong with priests getting married? What's wrong with engaging in sex for pleasure, and non(cisgendered)heterosexuals engaging in sex for pleasure too? Men created celibacy, but God created orgasms! And while we're at it, let's encourage rather than forbid birth control, 'cause if Earth is the Crown of Creation, we should really try to ensure that overpopulation won't soil that crown beyond reclamation. Holy shit, have we been hypocrites or what?  

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

He ain't crazy; he's my brother.


Remember The Zero Knot? (I had to ask, 'cause I know how soon you guys forget. ;-)) This is how I imagine Jess Bonner and his kid brother, Jared ("Red"), would've looked had they posed for a portrait some years ago. :-D