In recent months and years there has been a tremendous amount of positive news. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is part of history. You can no longer be given a dishonorable discharge simply for being gay. Some previously discharged service men and women have even rejoined the ranks. And more recently, the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, and the Pentagon has begun directing that benefits be extended to the spouses of soldiers who are legally married, regardless of gender. These are all wonderful news, but there are still lots of bumps in the road. Three states (Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) are refusing to follow the federal directive regarding benefits for their personnel. That may well mean more legal battles. And as people start to take advantage of the newly available benefits, no doubt more issues will come to light.
People love to read romance featuring military men. They have daring adventures, perform heroic deeds, and wear really sexy uniforms. The reality is a whole lot different. Most of the jobs are tough, unglamorous, and they put a tremendous strain on everyone involved - the service member, and their family. It's easy to forget those families - after all, they're sitting at home where it's safe and comfortable, right? Being an active service member is tough, but so is being their family. Their loved ones are away for long periods of time, often out of communication, and frequently going in harm's way. And all the family can do is sit at home, wait and pray.
My brother-in-law is with the Army Reserve. He's had two deployments to the Middle East, in addition to a lot of time away from home training. He loves being part of the Army, and he's still in although he's hoping to make it to retirement without a third deployment. He doesn't talk much about what he may have seen on deployments. I've heard a lot more from my sister, about the stress it puts on the family, especially if there are kids involved. She relied on the spouses' support group on quite a few tough days. They held each other up when the news media reported that someone from NH had been killed or injured, but no names had been released. They talked about how to deal with it when kids who didn't really understand why Dad or Mom wasn't a home acted up, and the school system didn't think a deployment was a good reason to cut the kid a little extra slack. And were just there for each other when a thousand little things went wrong that they had to deal with on their own, instead of sharing the problem with their spouse.
Now imagine dealing with those issues without any of the official support system. Because your marriage isn't as good as the straight marriage, or even being the ex-spouse of a service member. Or imagine your beloved partner has been killed, and you're not entitled to any of the support from his or her superior officers, or benefits, or even recognition of your grief except under the table as an unofficial kindness. Those situations are why equal benefits and recognition matter, and why we need groups like OutServe to help fight to get them, and to help people claim them in spite of obstructions once they are legally enacted.
For happy endings, and a good cause, come check out the Charity Sip collection on Wednesday. And go read some of my fellow-authors blogs about their stories, and why they took the time to be part of this effort.
Our Bloghop Starts Here: Torquere Press
If you've read my current charity story, Heaven's Heretics, this is sort of a prequel. The guys in A Hidden Battle will eventually go home after the war, be unhappy trying to integrate back into civilian life, and join up with some other veterans with talents in a motorcycle club that will grow into Heaven's Heretics in due course.
The new story will be out in September. Sales will go to benefit Out-Serve SDLN (www.sldn.org/), a group which supports GLBT service men and women with legal problems.
This started out really wanting to be a novel, and I curbed it fiercely to make it fit the word count for the charity sips collection. But this is the kind of reader reaction that encourages me to let these guys have more story.
Today's blog is part of Torquere Press's Charity Blog hop for the NoH8 Torquere Charity Sips. I suspect many of my readers are already thoroughly familiar with Torquere Press and our annual charity collections, but I'm going to share the elevator speech anyway. Every year for the past four years Torquere authors have banded together to create stories specifically to benefit a charity – 100% of our normal royalties go to that charity, and Torquere Press matches that sum out of their profits. We choose a different charity every year, but they are all GLBT-related. Not all the authors at Torquere are GLBT, although many of us are, but I'm confident they all feel strongly about supporting GLBT rights.
I hope you'll check out everyone's blogs, not just mine. You can find a complete list on the Torquere blog: http://glbtromance.blogspot.com
And after that, I hope you'll go check out the stories. You can find the charity sips here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?m
I'm proud to say that this year we chose the NoH8 Campaign (http://www.noh8campaign.com/) as our beneficiary. I feel I have something of a personal connection because one of the founders is the nephew of a dear friend from my college days. My friend Rick was a very special person, and I think he'd be very proud of the NOH8 campaign and what it stands for, because love was one of the virtues he lived. He had a special knack for bringing out the best in people just by being there. I know I'm a very different person thanks to having known him.
I've been thinking a lot about love as I reflect on the presidential election campaign which just ended. So very much of the campaign was about fear and hate. Both ends of the political spectrum have discovered that it's much, much easier to motivate voters by playing on their fears and hate. It's also very hard not to respond to hateful messages with fear or hate in return. The trouble is that now the election is over, you can't turn off that us versus them attitude and get on with life. It's entrenched and hard to kill, and that's bad for all of us. I've watched political differences destroy or damage friendships, and that's sad.
It isn't easy to stay aloof from it though. If someone says they want to pass a law which will dissolve my marriage, that strikes at a major piece of my life. It's a threat. It's human nature to respond to threats with fear or anger, or both. But that's not a good answer. It propagates a vicious circle. While we need to keep fighting in the courts so that we have legal support for our rights, court verdicts don’t win people's hearts. They won't make people think love or marriage between two men or two women or a transman or transwoman and anyone else is reasonable and normal. The only thing that will really accomplish that is to have examples of it out there, and visible, so they see that we're people just like them, with jobs and families and the same kinds of worries and joys in our relationships.
Real life examples accomplish that. I'd like to share one of my own with you. I'm married to a wonderful woman, and her family wasn't universally comfortable with this situation at first. Family members were varying degrees of superficially polite mixed with awkward when we started dating. We've been together for 12 years, and married for 5 of them, and I've seen my relationship with my in-laws change and grow.
It made a difference to them when we made our relationship legally binding (which we did as soon as New Hampshire passed the law allowing it), and it made even more of a difference when they saw us go through difficult situations together as couples will – job loss, illness, my mother's death – and deal with them more or less the same way that they expected their son and daughter-in-law would deal with them. That showed them, far more than clever slogans or educational campaigns, that our marriage was just as real as her brother's. And I'm very proud to say that this election my father-in-law casually mentioned that he was going to vote in favor of Maine's marriage equality ballot question.
This kind of example won't win over the hard line fanatics. I don't think anything would. Our examples do have the potential to win over the people who are more in the middle, or who just haven't ever thought about what marriage means to us. Changing enough of those hearts and minds can change the world. And we'll do it by loving each other and showing everyone what it looks like, not by returning hate for hate.
Stories have a role to play there too. If we can write stories with gay or lesbian protagonists who are real people, with hopes and fears and loves, those can touch the hearts of people who may never meet us in person. That's a big goal to shoot for, but I'm going to enjoy trying, even if I never write anything quite that good. Maybe my work will touch a few hearts, or just make someone's day a little better.
Now, I hope you'll go check out our stories. Buy my story (Heaven's Heretics: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?m
My latest short story has gotten some reviews.
Rainbow reviews tend to be more or less Cliff's notes versions of the story, without a lot of opinion behind it, so I'm pretty neutral about this one. It may catch the eye of readers who would like it but didn't take that away from my cover blurb. I do think tagging it post-apocalyptic is bit over the top, and hope it doesn't disappoint people who are looking for *real* post-apocalyptic stories, not a contemporary fantasy that's set in an economically depressed area.
This one has more of the reviewers opinion, and I'm pretty happy with it. She's noticed, as usual, that it could really be a longer story, but she wants the longer story, and to get to know the secondary characters better. I love it when a reviewer gets the story. Thanks very much, Maya. I have another project in the fire at the moment, but I do plan to come back to these guys for something longer.
As you might expect, being from Torquere,it's M/M romance. It's kind of urban fantasy in terms of setting, with bikers and magic, but no shifters or vampires. This is just a quick update. A more polished blurb and tagline will be along in a few days, just as soon as I come up with them. :-)
I have a story in Spells and Swashbucklers, an anthology of stories about pirates and magic, edited by Valerie Griswold-Ford. I'd understood that it was coming out at the end of the month (Memorial Day weekend), but it showed up on Amazon today. You can buy it there in either paperback or Kindle.
Other e-book formats will follow, but I think the publisher has promised a Kindle exclusive for the first few weeks.
The release party will be happening at Balticon over Memorial Day weekend. I'll be there, and will be around for the rest of the convention, although I'm not on any other programming. That means my time is my own, except for what I spend keeping Val out of trouble....
For those who've read my other published work, this one is a bit different. It's a fantasy adventure, quite PG, without even a hint of romance or sex. Safe to show to the entire family.
I'm on the program, although not a guest. I'm doing 4 panels & 2 presentations:
Fri. 9:00 PM - Romance, Eroticism, and the Demon Lover (Panel)
Sat. 10:00 AM - "My Game Would Make a Great Novel!" (presentation)
Sat. 4:00 pm - How Magic Works (panel)
Sat. 5:00 pm - LGBTQIAOMGWTFBBQ: Queer Science Fiction, Fantasy and Anime (panel)
Sun. 11:00 am - Faeries (panel)
Sun. 2:00 pm - E-Publishing, Self-Publishing, and E-Books (presentation)
It's a student-run conference, focused on women interested in SF/Fantasy/Gaming/Anime and other geeky pursuits. It looks like it's going to have some great programming.
I'm cautious, and believe in backups, so I do, but I thought I'd just pass on a warning about this to my friends here who may be less cautious. If you have messages you care about, forward them somewhere else and back them up.
Oh, and if you sent me a message recently that may have been in the 9 unread messages that I never even got to see, I apologize for not replying.
I have to say I'm surprised and disappointed by this. A mail system where you can nuke everything with 2 mouse clicks in the and not get so much as a warning message saying "Hey, you're about to delete your entire mailbox? Are you sure you meant to do that?" Even Microsoft does a better job of user interface than that. Not to mention that all the big players (Microsoft, Yahoo, Gmail) have an undelete option.
Now I'm wondering if Live Journal handles this any better. Time to go check.
I'd like to exclude things like the Dragonlance books, that are explicit, licensed spin-offs of popular FRP modules. I think those are a different category of fiction than the book that grew out of a game the author played with his friends. I'm more interested in the latter.
Off the top of my head, I know Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books started out as an FRP game, and I'd definitely put them in the success column. I think I recall reading somewhere that Steven Erikson's books were at least in part an outgrowth of an FRP game. I'm sure there are more that I'm not thinking of.
What should I add to my list?
Stop in, leave me a comment if the mood strikes, and check the rest of the site while you're there. There are some very interesting articles.
Last Chance by Josephine Myles
Review by Kathryn Scannell
Last Chance is another installment in Josephine Myles’ First Impressions series, but if you haven’t seen the first two stories, don’t let that deter you from sampling this one. It stands on its own quite nicely. If you have read the first two, then I think you’ll enjoy this next installment in Jez’ and Steve’s developing relationship.
Jez’ voice is very distinct, and very British. The story is chock full of little British touches, turns of phrase that sound strange and delightfully foreign to my American ear, but Myles has a deft touch for keeping the context clear so that the non-British reader won’t need a cheat sheet to understand them.
There are also wonderfully improbable images that are just perfect for the character: “I feasted on Steve like he was a pepperoni pizza and I was famished, doing my best to cram myself full of him and fill up all the empty places inside.”
Jez stands out clearly off the page as a very real character, full of depths. There are points where I found myself wanting to shake him for having indulged in so much drama earlier in his life, instead of trying to simply go around the roadblocks. Then I remind myself that at seventeen drama is a huge part of life, and it's very easy to see a real person taking that path. It’s also worth noting that I wouldn’t have wanted to shake sense into him if the author hadn’t already managed to make me care about him.
This wasn’t an easy story to read, in some ways. It has a lot of painful things in it – old rejections, aging parents, a death in the family – things we all have faced, or will probably face at some point. But it also has some wonderful positives – Jez moving beyond the pain of some of those teenage wounds, finding acceptance from parts of his family, and realizing he doesn’t have to be ashamed of who his is, or who he loves. So idespite some painful moments, it has a happy ending, with the promise of better days still to come.
Josephine Myles bio:
English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. She blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She's beginning to suspect he enjoys it.
You can read her review of another story in this collection here: http://josephinemyles.com/
Kathryn Scannell makes her living doing database management, programming, and general IT support for an environmental consulting firm. She has a BA in German, a BS in Computer Science, and a head full of facts about odd things. She lives in NH with her wife Beth and their four cats. When not writing or reading, she participates in the Society for Creative Anachronism and a variety of role playing games.
I'm happy to announce that I've just had a story accepted for Torquere's annual Charity Sip Blitz. If you're not familiar with it, every year for the past several years Torquere Press and it's authors have joined forces to offer a collection of short romances (3000-8000 words) with all proceeds going to benefit a charity. The charity varies from year to year. In 2010 it was Doctors Without Borders, and if you're hearing about this for the first time, please go check out the offerings from that collection: www.torquerebooks.com/index.php Those stories will be available until roughly mid-September.
This year's efforts will benefit the It Gets Better Project. The release date is likely to be some time toward the end of September. I'll post an exact date here when I know for certain.
Since these collections share a common theme, they tend to make me step outside my comfort zone a bit. For this collection I'm trying something new - a contemporary story with no fantasy elements whatsoever. It's a brief (for me) window into the lives a gay married couple who work for an environmental emergency response contractor, and find themselves responding to an emergency in the home town one of them had hoped never to see again...
- May 6, 2011 - Rosalie Lario's blog: Does Your Werewolf Use a Condom?
- May 5, 2011 - Romance for the Rest of Us: Weddings Matter
- May 5, 2011 - The Book Boost: My Worst Writing Mistake
- May 4, 2011 - WriteEachDay: Writing is More than Just Adding New Words
- May 3, 2011 - Suzan Isik's blog: How Does Magic Effect Society?
- May 1, 2011 - Raine Delight's Blog: Interview
- May 1, 2011 - Manlove and Paranormal: Erotica by Ellis: Breaking Rules
- April, 2011 - Creative Chatter: On How to Write good M/M Scenes when You're a Woman
- April 27, 2011 - Savvy Authors: Writing Fiction Featuring People Instead of Men or Women
- April 22, 2011 - Black Velvet Seductions : Things About My Characters that Didn't Make it into the Book
- April 19, 2011 - Haunted Dreams and Dark Destinies: How Dark is Too Dark?
- April 14, 2011 - Full Moon Dreaming: The Pitfalls of Titles
- April 12, 2011 - Suzan Isik's blog: Using Borrowed Mythology in Your Fantasy
- April 10, 2011 - Margaret Fieland: Poetry and Prose: Interview
Danny O’Riordan’s life was complicated before the vision of a past life
forced him to admit he was bisexual. There’s a war going on, and being
Liegeman to Aran, the Elven King of Avalon puts Danny squarely in the middle
of the politics of two worlds, Earth and Avalon. Adding a romantic
relationship to the mix could be explosive.
His lover from that previous life has been reborn as Mordellir, the ruler of
the Tengri Empire. The Dragon of Heaven is the most powerful person in his
world. Will he want Danny back once he knows he’s been reborn? If he does,
how far will he go to get his way?
Find out today: