Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homecoming King Stripped of Crown

Despite the title of the post, this is actually more of a happy story than not. Oak Reed is a high school senior in Muskegon, Michigan, who was elected homecoming king by his classmates, by a considerable margin. The principal refused to give him the title, however, because Oak is transgender. The assistant superintendant supports the principal's decision, saying "the ballot gave two choices: Vote for a boy for king and a girl for queen."

All right, so the adults in authority seem to have their heads firmly inserted somewhere dark and moist, but the cool thing about this story is that Oak's classmates aren't just rolling over. It's too late to reverse the decision -- the homecoming king and queen have already been crowned -- but the students of Mona Shores High School are rallying in support of Oak, with a Facebook page (almost 7300 members from all over the world) and a compaign to wear T-shirts saying "Oak is my King" on 1 October. The shirts are being sold as a fundraiser, to help pay for Oak's reassignment surgery, which he plans to start after he turns eighteen.

Despite my disappointment with the school authorities, I find this story wonderfully encouraging from the POV of optimism for the future. In a world (and a country) where GLBT teens are still regularly harassed, beaten, murdered or driven to suicide because of who they are, it's awesome to see all these other teenagers rallying around a transgender classmate. Go Mona Shores!

Thanks to Cindy Potts for sharing the link.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review of Candy Courage

Dawn over at Love Romances and More posted a great review of my short story Candy Courage:


CANDY COURAGE is a short hot story about a man who finds himself full of courage when he finds himself at his crush’s house with his son on Halloween. Flirting and coming on strong to Neal, Glenn wonders the next day what the heck was wrong with him the other night. Can Glenn get the courage up to make it to Neal’s house? I love this author’s writing and CANDY COURAGE gives the reader just enough to tide them over before grabbing one of her longer stories. The characters fairly simmer with life and captivated me. I wished it was a longer story to really see what happens next for Glenn and Neal. The author really delivers a hot, sexy short story to whet your appetite and leave you eager for more.

Glenn is a man who has a major crush on a fellow employee, Neal Simpson. When he eats some of his son’s candy-homemade peanut brittle-he finds himself filled with courage to go after the one man he longs for. Can he find the courage the next day when he is faced with the reality of his date with Neal? I loved Glenn as a character. A strong man but full of doubts, he finds the courage-candy and otherwise-to go after a man he longs for. Neal loves the way Glenn was so flirty the night before. Can both men make a relationship after one night of courage? Strong and well rounded main characters are center stage in this short story. I loved the aspect of having a unique twist to the homemade candy theme and found Ms. Benedetti’s version to be one I was wishing to know more of.

I don’t want to give too much away in this short story but if you enjoy a really well told M/M story that has hints of magic in it, then I highly suggest you grab CANDY COURAGE. You never know, you might find some CANDY COURAGE of your own someday.


I love getting reviews of older stories. It's like rearranging the furniture in May and finding an extra Christmas present behind the couch. :) Thanks to Dawn for the review; I'm glad she enjoyed the story!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Bad Girls?

Stephanie Draven posted today asking why there aren't more bad girls in romance. She said, "This may be because women make up the vast majority of romance readers and we can be a bit hard on our own gender."

Umm, yeah. [wry smile]

It seems to me that women are often the hardest on other women. It might well be the patriarchal culture that created the rules, but women are often the most enthusiastic and bloodthirsty enforcers of those rules. (Mainstream, het) romance as a genre reflects the traditional gender roles and limitations more than any other genre, as demonstrated in the invisible (but very solid, penetrable by only a tiny percentage of writers) rules about female protags' sexual behavior, for example. Once the guy and girl meet, they're not allowed to have (real) feelings for anyone else, and certainly not have sex with anyone else, no matter how long -- in terms of page-count or actual months or years in the storyline -- it takes for the main characters to get together. Guys are allowed to break this rule more often than girls, and the occasional girls who do are much more likely to draw howls of "Slut!" from infuriated readers.

And it's kind of entertaining to compare the proportion of 25- and 30-year-old virgins in romance novels with the actual population. [eyeroll] To say nothing of the complex and painful contortions the writers will bend their characters into in order to justify it. And of the ones who aren't virgins, the vast majority had blah or downright horrific sex. Because god forbid the girl ever have a great sexual experience with anyone other than her destined mate. Only if she's pure and chaste and innocent for a truly ludicrous amount of time does she eventually deserve the Awesome Orgasm of True Love.

Moving away from sex to other horrible, unfeminine sins, Stacia Kane was recently evicerated by a mob of readers who were outraged that her Chess Putnam was a [gasp!] drug addict! And wasn't grovelling with shame and repentance by the end of the first book!! Unholy Ghosts isn't even a romance -- it's urban fantasy, published by a SF/F house -- but it has a female protag and sort of feels romance-ish in tone. Apparently that's enough for the Pitchfork-Bearing Mob of Romancelandia to claim Unholy Ghosts for romance, and then punish the author for not following romance rules. Wow.

This kind of nonsense is one of the reasons I wandered away from het romance and went over to m/m. Aside from the fact that two hot guys is always better than one :) the genre is newer, and because of that there aren't as many rules and expectations about acceptable character behavior. A guy can have a fight with his lover, go out angry to a bar and get laid with some stranger, then go home and make up -- that is, behave like a perfectly valid type of real person -- and the vast majority of readers don't have a cardiac. (What a concept.)

So yeah. [cough] I would like to see more "bad" girls in romance. For that matter, I'd like to see fewer character types labelled as "bad." Slut-shaming is one of the major tools of that patriarchal culture we're supposedly trying to move past, so can we dump it now plskthnx? And why is it that a woman who can kick butt with the guys -- a fighter and survivor -- is labelled a bad girl?

It'd also be nice if characters were allowed to have real, serious flaws, like Chess's drug addiction. And I'd like to see female characters who can be grumpy or arrogant or focused on their work or unconcerned with domestic matters or excessive grooming/preening (you know, like any number of male characters?) and who are not presented as just not having grown up into Real Women yet. There are a few around the genre, but again, not nearly as many as there are in realspace, proportionately.

As it is, though, one of the primary messages of mainstream romance is that only women who conform to a particular, narrow definition of a Good Woman deserve romance. True love and great sex come (eventually) to the good girls, or maybe to the occasional character who was a bad girl but then learned better, and changed, and did an appropriate amount of grovelling.

It's seriously amazing how creative the really good romance writers can be within this limited range -- it takes an incredible talent to write a memorable character, especially a female, within the narrow walls of genre romance characterization. I think it'd benefit the genre as a whole if the walls came down, though, and the genre were thrown open to a wider variety of character types. Giving authors more latitude encourages creativity and exploration beyond the trodden (paved, regulated, monitored by radar) path. Not all readers would care for the new character types, but that's all right. There are still plenty of readers who prefer basic contemporary romances, but that hasn't stopped the newer subgenres (fantasy, futuristic, paranormal frex.) from doing well and finding large audiences. Variety is always better than uniformity.

Stephanie again: But I hope that society has evolved enough that we can enjoy other fantasies too. That we can enjoy stories about women in search of their own redemption. About women who don’t coax men into conforming to social rules, but who help men break them.



Sunday, September 12, 2010

Anthology Markets

If you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple antho guildelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.

Non-erotica/romance writers: check out Tattered Souls, Panverse, and Horror Library.


1 October 2010 -- Pain/Pleasure Anthology -- ed. Jane Litte, Berkley

I am looking for stories of 5,000 word length (you can go slightly over but you won’t be paid more) about the concept of the twin emotions of pain and pleasure. The submissions must be full (the story complete) and turned in to me litte. jane at gmail dot com by October 1 as an MS Word Attachment with the subject line: Pain/Pleasure Anthology Submission.

The submission can be, generally, anything with a strong erotic content. There is no limitation on genre. I definitely want a lot of variety such as m/m, femdom, diversity in characters. The work can have been published on your website but it cannot have been sold in publication.

I will be paying $500 for each contracted submission with .25% royalty in exchange for world digital, audio and print rights.

[The royalty is kind of ridiculous, but for a $500 up-front payment, they can send me all the three-dollar checks they want later on. :)]


31 October 2010 -- Tattered Souls 2 -- Cutting Block Press

For TS2, we’ll be reading original, unpublished stories of between 6,000 and 25,000 words in length, though we’re willing to go beyond that length for works of special merit and if you’ve one of those you should submit it. No simultaneous submissions. No multiple submissions. Each work must be accompanied by a separate synopsis, describing the story in full. All submissions will be reviewed by at least one editor, but a Senior Editor will read every synopsis. Only submissions e-mailed to the address below will be considered. Failure to follow guidelines may result in a submission being rejected without being read.

Submissions deadline is October 31 2010, with publication scheduled during the 1st half of 2011. A provisional response to your submission should be expected from us within 90 days of receipt.

Buying 1st worldwide anthology rights for print, and electronic rights to publish TS2 on Kindle. We accept no reprints. Paying 1.5 cents per word, plus one contributor’s copy. For established authors, rates are negotiable. Final response time: six months or sooner.

Manuscript format: 12 point courier font, standard margins, left side of header: name, contact info, right side of header: word count, top of first page: title, author

Variances from traditional manuscript format: single space, NO INDENTS, ONE EXTRA space between paragraphs (Use the return/enter key for this space, use bold, italics and underline as they are to appear in story (No html tags, please).

Send your submission to

[See web page for a special offer for authors who want a copy of the first Tattered Souls for research purposes.]


UNTIL FILLED -- Panverse Three -- Ed. Dario Ciriello, Panverse Publishing

The anthology will be open to submissions until we have enough good stories.

Looking for pro-level novellas of between 17,500 and 40,000 words. Stories should be Science Fiction (except Military) or Fantasy (except Heroic/High/Superhero/S&S). We'll also look at Magic Realism, Alternate History, and Slipstream (whatever that is). The story should be original and unpublished in any medium (this includes web publication).

Depth of characterization will count for a lot – however clever the idea, if we don't care for the protagonist, we'll bounce it. We like stories that instill wonder. Subject matter is pretty wide open. If we care, can't put the story down, and find no big holes in the plot or worldbuilding, you've got a good shot.

What we don't want:

Military SF, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Horror, RPG, superhero, or shared-universe stuff, etc. Vampires and Cthulhu-mythos stories are strongly discouraged unless you've done something absolutely original with either theme. No gratuitous or wildly excessive sex or violence: what this means is that sex or violence which serves the plot is okay, within limits; the same goes for language. Think R-rated rather than XXX-rated.

[NOTE: there are some unusual bits in their formatting and cover letter requirements. Nothing ridiculous, but definitely click the link and read the full guidelines before submitting.]


UNTIL FILLED -- Horror Library, Vol. 5 -- Cutting Block Press

Cutting Block Press is pleased to announce an open submissions period for the 4th Volume of its Horror Anthology Series, +Horror Library+, to be published in trade paperback during 2009.

We're looking for the highest quality examples of all forms of Dark Fiction, running the gamut from traditional horror, supernatural, speculative, psychological thriller, dark satire, including every point between and especially beyond. No Fantasy or Sci-fi unless the horror elements are dominant. Read +Horror Library+ Volumes 1-3 to see what's already pleased us. Special consideration will be given those pieces that we find profoundly disturbing, though blood and violence on their own won't cut it. While we will consider tales of vampires, ghosts and zombies, we tend to roll our eyes at ordinary ones. They're just too plentiful. Your best bet is to surprise us with something that is different, while well conceived and tightly executed.

Guidelines: Stories will range between 1,000 and 6,000 words, though we'll look at longer works of exceptional merit. In that case, query before submission. Buying 1st worldwide anthology rights. No reprints. Paying 1.5 cents per word, plus one contributors copy. For established authors, rates may be negotiable. Response time: six months or sooner. Deadline: We will accept submissions until filled. All Queries to

Manuscript format: 12 point courier font, standard margins, left side of header: name, contact info, right side of header: word count, top of first page: title, author

Variances from traditional manuscript format: single space, NO INDENTS, ONE EXTRA space between paragraphs, use bold, italics and underline as they are to appear in story

Subject box: Short Story submission - title of story

Attach story in MS Word Document or RTF (only). Please paste your cover letter in the body of the e-mail. Send submissions to

[See the web page for a special offer on copies of Horror Library Vol. 1 for writers doing market research.]

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Stuff

Time to look back at my performance over the last month. (I took July as my month off per McKoala's rules because I completely hosed it in July. :P ) August wasn't very good either, but I've done worse.

3 submissions -- 3 points
7533 words written -- 2 points (less than 500 short of a third point, argh!)

Total = 5 points

Koala Challenge 5

I think part of what's hitting me now is that I have a few stories that've been circulating, but I've hit all the fast turn-around markets and now I'm stuck with some of the slowpokes. I have a story at one magazine that closed to fiction submissions in July, but I sent in my story in April. So it's been there for about four and a half months and I'm just hoping they're working through their slush pile backlog. I suppose if they open up again and I still haven't heard from them, that'll be a clue that something went astray, right? :P

I still need to do more writing, though. As awful as this month was, it was still better than any other month so far this year, so that's progress. Let's see if I can keep it up.

I hope everyone else is doing better than I am. :)