When gay fiction becomes a personal journey

Friend and fellow author, Allen Renfro discusses his new book, Ambiguity. As many writers (and readers) can attest, a novel in the making is often a testament to a life’s journey.

AmbiguityBridgeI think I speak for many writers who become inspired that sometimes a story simply won’t leave you alone. The words come to you as you try to sleep. Walking along the street you see the characters in the faces that pass by. You hear the voices of the characters as you’re sitting in a restaurant and quietly listening. Finally you surrender and began the process of putting words to paper. The story for my novel Ambiguity came to me in such a manner and I think the story resonates even more right now at this point in time than when I first became inspired.

If you’ve read any of my work you are very much aware that my characters often wrestle with the centuries old conflict between religion and sexuality. In my novel Ambiguity, this conflict erupts into all out war. I wanted to explore the horrors of religious hatred toward homosexuality and also show the repercussions on both sides of this hatred. I wrote Ambiguity more for myself than anyone else. I needed to delve into my own experiences with religion, to understand my own mistrust of people who claim religion as their sole purpose for condemning homosexuality. In my own cynicism I wanted to show that many times people use religion to hide behind, to cover up their own secrets. There are many closets to hide in and come out of. [Read more…]

Crafting the Heart-wrenching Reads

broken heartRecently I was asked about the polarity in my writing. It stretches from erotic to emotionally devastating, and all places in between. Because of this, I have two very different reading audiences. On one side, I have my m/m readers who seek happy endings and hot sex, while the other readers look for less eroticism and more of a literary read, which often (with my novels) leaves them in tears.  Today we’re talking about the more literary of my novels – The Value of Rain, Listening to Dust, and Summer SymphonyIf you would like to review the topics I explored in those novels, you can see this post.

Why do I write about such emotionally charged issues?

It certainly isn’t for the money. My gay romance novels outsell the more serious fiction books 50:1. I write these books because the stories need to be told. There is more to our existence as LGBTQ people than flippancy, fashion trends, and fucking. [Read more…]

The Writer’s Life – in GIF form

According to people smarter than me, there are five stages of writing. Actually, I think there are eight, but that’s just me.

1. Prewriting

The muse whispers in your ear… “I have an idea!”

2. Drafting

And the muse is suddenly on vacation…

[Read more…]

Honest Reader Reactions to Bad Books

Here’s the flip side of  Authors Honest Reactions to Bad Book Reviews post. This one is for the readers, because, let’s face it, authors are human and they make mistakes too. And yes, sometimes a book needs a fecking DNF review. It’s all in fun, so enjoy.

Authors, listen up. (Culled from thousands of reviews around the web.)

 

1. Labelled Erotic Romance/Fiction

But the sex be like. WTF?!
[Read more…]

The Awkward Conversations of a Gay Romance Writer

A lot of my posts are on the serious side, so I thought we’d have some fun and asked fellow authors what kind of reactions they got when someone they knew found out they wrote gay romance. These answers come from both male and female authors alike. Feel free to add the nuances of your own ‘outing’ in the comments. We can always use more lols.

 1. You write M/M? Isn’t that like…gay smut?

Not necessarily no, some of it is highly erotic; some of it is based more on love and passion.

[An awkward pause.] Have you had the kind of sex you write about?

[To mom/other relatives/kids]: No, I’m a paragon of Southern gentlemanly virtue.

[To a really hot man-hunk]: You want a test run? That can be arranged. Let me call my agent.

don't hate

2. OMG, what if your boss finds out?!

[Read more…]

Losing My Con Virginity

rainbowcon2014So, I finally did it. I took the plunge and came out to visit a few of my fans. It was a pleasant experience. Humorous mostly. The ladies were so gentle, as if I was going to run away if the crowd got too thick. “You okay?” was a constant. And, other than a developing cold that had me running back and forth to the loo (to blow my nose) like a coke head, I was okay. The panels were informative. I got a chance to meet so many of the authors I know only online, and I got a chance to grab a few books too. I wanted more, but no one was manning the tables at times.

Sue Brown made my whole day right from the start when she came racing around her table speechlessly grabbing me into an embrace. Loved that bubbly little smile the moment I saw it. We had a chance to have dinner later with several others and she made quite an impression on me, enough that I asked her to bring me some real British tea when we get a chance to meet again. (Which I hope happens.)

 

But somehow I came to the Con too late and missed the strip show and the hunk flashing his hot self to one of the ladies upstairs. (Think I might try getting “lost” in the hotel if I attend another con. Don’t think I’ll be so lucky though.)

Lisa, Joann, Susan, and Jodi were a hoot, and I want to especially thank them for their courtesy and graciousness.  They made the trip worthwhile, as did many of the other authors I had a chance to meet.

If you get the chance, I would recommend Rainbow Con 2015, especially if you’re a reader looking for some great lgbt books. Or, if you’re an old cranky author who shies from the spotlight (like me), it’s still small enough that you’re not overwhelmed. Though honestly, I’m expecting this con to be one of the hottest tickets in just a few short years.

B.

 

Oops, I Didn’t Know I Couldn’t Write About Sex

Welcome friend and author Brian Centrone with a few words concerning his new short story collection, Erotica which features seven stories, one for every sin.

erotica-brian-centrone-cover-ebook-WEBD.H. Lawrence got in trouble over it. Anne Rice used a pen name to write it. E.L. James made a fortune off it. No one can deny that sex sells, yet it remains controversial. The mere mention of erotica sends literary noses pointed toward the heavens in a triumphant stance of superiority. For the majority of the literary world, erotica is not literature at all.

The truth is that some believe erotica is cheap. They dismiss it with other genre writing like Sci Fi or Romance. Many see these types of stories as inferior to scholarly or academic works. I disagree. I won’t argue that some erotica is pure smut, merely words to get off by, but not all, and certainly not mine. I believe that there is such a thing as “literary erotica,” and I consider my work to fall into that category. Why? Because I write erotic stories the way I write any fiction. I use the building blocks of literature to craft and develop tales which seek for more than just to lube a reader up. My stories aren’t about sex. They feature sex, yes, and prominently—that’s the nature of erotica—but they are always about something more: love, relationships, self-discovery. [Read more…]

Incidental Sexuality in Literature

Welcome Spring Horton to the blog. She stopped by with a subject that is getting more and more traction from both within the LGBTQ writing community and from outside of it as well. – B.

book cover4I wanted to write this guest post to discuss the future of LGBT characters in literature. I have to admit that we’ve come a long way; much further in books than in film and television. The explosion of new queer characters is amazing, especially in the male/male romance genre. And not only are droves of books being written, they also seem to be selling well, if Amazon sales rank is any indication. Now, there’s definitely nothing wrong with a good male/male romance (I’m currently working on one myself) and there’s nothing wrong with books that center around a character’s sexuality. I just wonder if we aren’t lacking in LGBT characters in mainstream books though. In almost every genre the characters are assumed, by default, to be heterosexual unless deemed otherwise at some point in the story. [Read more…]

Museum Of Broken Relationships

It’s Valentine’s Day 2/14/14. On this day we’re supposed to think of love and loved ones, perhaps more so than on any other day. But as a writer I normally approach the subject of love from the opposite end of that spectrum – broken relationships.  Heartbreak is the manna from which real human stories are made. Think about it. If every story and every relationship was a happily-ever-after, how boring would that be? And how unrealistic? (Sorry die-hard romance fans.)

watchWe humans evolve from broken relationships, we grow into the people we are, and are to become, from how, and how often, our heart is broken.  The irony with this post is that not only is there an entire museum dedicated to broken relationships, but that it sits in Zagreb, Croatia the setting for my next novel, Summer Symphony. The new novel deals with… (drum roll please) a broken relationship, a broken man, a broken woman, a broken marriage and all the outside forces that conspire to shape how those inside the relationship should view themselves. [Read more…]

Heteronormativity in MM Romance?

Betty Postelwaite couple

Photo Credit: Betty Postelwaite

Watching a conversation unfold on Twitter about a reader searching for ‘who is a top and who is a bottom in MM romance.’ For this particular tweeter it seemed confusing and relevant, especially when writing gay fiction.

I was surprised and delighted with the response that came back to him/her:

I just think that searching for who bottoms is like searching for who is “woman” in the relationship.

I love that, because unfortunately, in MM, all too often I see ‘roles’ which are specifically defined without actually stating them. Granted, there are specific sub-tropes that play into this, but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how heteronormative ideas about gay relationships permeate MM romance.

Have you seen it, and does it matter to you?