Wednesday, July 24, 2013

RWA: Talkin' the talk but not walkin' the walk?

After reading some very encouraging accounts of the recent Romance Writers of America conference (yes, THE be-there-or-be-square event staged by Romanceland's preeminent professional organization), I felt heartened. Attendees who represented the m/m romance (sub)genre said they were heartily welcomed, and treated with as much regard and even enthusiasm as their m/f romance counterparts.

This hasn't always been the case. Not that the ladies of RWA have ever behaved like members of Westboro Baptist Church at a gay soldier's funeral. I'm sure they were gracious about their initial aversion to GLBT romance. But there was an aversion in some quarters (likely still is), and a good deal of acrimony ensued as a result.

Now -- yippee! hurrah! huzzah! -- the tide seems to be turning.

Or is it?

Here's where I get confused. GLBT authors can join Rainbow Romance Writers, a "special interest chapter" of RWA. (Why the segregation?) This in turn means, from what I can gather, one must join RWA before joining RRW. (Does that entail paying double dues?)

Now let's examine RWA's two big awards competitions, the RITA and the Golden Heart. I checked the 2013 finalists for and winners of both. Here's what I found:

 The RITAs ("recognizing excellence in romance fiction" -- keep that phrase in mind)

11 categories
8 finalists (on average) in each category
88 total finalists (approximate)

The Golden Heart Awards ("[promoting] excellence in the romance genre by recognizing outstanding romance manuscripts" -- also keep that phrase in mind)

6 categories
8 finalists (on average) in each category
48 total finalists (approximate)

This adds up to 136 finalists (approximate) in 17 separate categories. At first I wondered why there was no M/M or GLBT category for either award. Then I thought, Well, why should there be? Love is love and romance is romance and a good story is a good story, regardless of the gender(s) of the central characters.

But . . . But . . .

Out of +/-136 finalists in 17 categories, there wasn't a single title featuring a "nontraditional" couple or threesome. Not one. (Please, PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong! I didn't have time to read all the novels' blurbs.)

I know damned well that "excellent" GLBT romance fiction is published not just every year but every month. Why wasn't it represented? Why didn't, say, a dozen books final? Or even a half-dozen? What's up with that? Why are dues-paying, bona fide romance writers being squeezed out of these competitions? Are m/m authors and publishers simply not entering? If that's the case, why? Don't they have every right to enter? If not, does it have something to do with discriminatory definitions of publisher eligibility? If so, why are those standards in place?   

Might this rather dated statuette hold some answers? 

I doubt I've ever used so many question marks in one post. But honestly, I cannot fathom what's going on here. Sorry to say, my skepticism has returned.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Who is Simon Bentcross?

Seems the poor guy is always being dissed by somebody: a young pitchman who ends up dumping him, an employer who ends up firing him, a vampire lover who's been trying to avoid him, a Branded Mongrel who's clocked him twice, and a merman who wants him dead. 

In spite of all that, he's actually a pretty decent guy -- good-natured, loyal, considerate, and unashamedly sentimental in spite of his gruffness and occasional vulgarity.

Simon, who's in his early thirties, is a bit more rugged-looking than the man below. Aside from that, there's definitely a resemblance, right down to the broad-brimmed hat. So, mentally add some disheveled hair, thin the beard and mustache to a carelessly shaved state, add some laugh-lines to that face . . . and there you have him!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Mongrel 3? Here's the opening.

Now that the publication of Merman is approaching, a notion has taken hold of me. A duology in the Mongrel storyverse simply feels incomplete. I need a trilogy. Then I'll call it quits. I'd like to explore where and how Branded Mongrels originated, and find out more about Fan's parents, and see what happens when the two central couples' commitment is tested.

I don't know if Machine (a very tentative title; it could change to Miscreant, or something else entirely) is going to appeal to anybody or not. Too soon to say. If the interest isn't there, I'll either scrap this story or, if I finish it, offer it as a free read. Hell, maybe I'll just write it for myself. :)

Stay tuned.


Starless midnight. November had begun. The air, bearing small blades of frost, hinted at December’s cruelty.

Like a gilded and festooned ark, a showy wagon crept down Division Highway. Its wheels creaked laboriously as they made their slow revolutions through the dirt. The highway was deserted. A team of black horses plodded silently before the wagon, their hooves never touching the ground.

The driver paused at Whitesbain Plank Road and, considering, directed a narrow-eyed look down its shadowed length.

“Not yet,” he whispered after a moment.

Team and wagon resumed their trek.

On Whitesbain Plank Road, Simon Bentcross breathed irregularly in his deep sleep. Dreams bounced from jagged peak to jagged peak. Alone and restless, he swaddled himself more snugly in his quilt, as if this bunting would protect him. He sensed things he had no desire to know. And he knew only his lover’s presence would calm his mind.

Clancy Marrowbone, concluding his feed from a willing booth-tender at the Marvelous Mechanical Circus, swiped his tongue over the puncture wounds in the man’s chest. His saliva would hasten their healing.

Gods forgive him, he'd imagined it was Simon’s chest pulsing beneath his lips.

A sickening feeling suddenly lassoed his ribcage, squelching his arousal before it reached its natural conclusion. He stumbled backward as his host slid out of his grasp and crumpled to the floor.

Something was coming.

All he was sure of in his guilt- and blood-drenched daze was that he wanted no part of it.

A brown leaf dove toward the glass like a sparrow, tapped once, and swirled away. Darkness concealed the path of its flight. Soon, another gust coaxed a rustle and rattle from the withered vegetation in the yard.

 Fanule Perfidor continued to stand at the window, trying to see beyond his reflection. He couldn’t. The night would not allow it. The night pushed his image back at his eyes. He felt like a seer without sight.

Strange thought….

“Fan?” William sounded half asleep and wholly bewildered.

Fanule turned. “Yes?”

“What are you doing?” Sluggish movement stirred the bedclothes. A moan, inadvertently enticing, fell into a pillow. Then a mumbled “Come back here,” muffled by a clot of feathers.

“In a minute.”

Air seeped between frame and glass, raising gooseflesh on Fanule’s bare arm. He lowered his hand from the window. Winter whispered through the wind.

Something’s about to happen, he thought with an added chill of apprehension.

Stuporous, a fat fly buzzed and spun on the windowsill.

Damn it, something’s about to happen… as the bottle-green fly, twitching wings powerless beneath its back, sputtered through its death throes.

Fanule made his way toward William and warmth. And the fragile comfort of certainty.

Chapter One     

The tradition had begun when Alphonse Hunzinger owned the Mechanical Circus. On the first of November, the last day of the carnival’s season, peddlers, spiritualists, amateur entertainers, spreaders of cultish fervor—anybody who hungered for attention or had something to sell—were allowed to gather at no charge beyond the Circus’s high fences and take advantage of the crowds.

The entire city of Purinton looked forward to this chaotic spectacle. And why not? Solemn women conjured ghosts in tents. Mr. Dulhorn sang operatic arias for the sheer satisfaction of having, finally, an audience other than his collection of indifferent cats. Politicians and preachers stood on crates and shouted their evangels, hoping the messages would lodge in at least few listeners’ ears. Whittlers sold carvings, housewives sold pies, gypsies sold spells.

Even in the rain, the first of November was a glorious day.