I didn't make it here this week, but I did get things done. I found another writing deadline that's more realistic and that has me genuinely excited, so happy about that. Things are rolling along in my group writing blog, always great. Two awesome fans got in touch with me and made my day each time, can't beat that. And I've laughed more this week than I likely have in the last six months--WIN! Let's break it down, shall we?
Writing: I wrote words. Words were written. There are words. Yeah, so there's that.
Social: I've got some guest blogs coming your way that are awesome. Girls and boys and variations thereof, can you say, Multicultural Steampunk? I knew you could. You're going to enjoy that feature. I also have some ideas in place to build me up to blogging here three to five days a week down the line. Yay!
General Health: Two days of severe, "am I going to faint" fatigue in the middle of the week, but feeling fantastic today and yesterday. Digestion seems to be on point, minor food sensitivity but all in stride. Mental clarity was up, I'll need to work out a few things there. Pain level was tolerable if higher than hoped.
Mental Health: Maybe the workout endorphin highs have been lasting extra long, but I've felt fabulous five of the last seven days, and even those other two days were really good.
Fitness: I made June's cycling goals two weeks early and beat the time I was aiming for by two minutes! Hands Up!
WIPs: Gender Variant F/M-V/M-V Sci-Fi Romance, Demon-Bound Bisexual M/M/F or M/M/M/F or M/M/F/F (or something else) Horror Romance, Sequel to A Way To A Dragon's Heart, Sequel to Its Sweetest Form, Revision of BloodSprite. PsiCorps Chronicles Book 3.
Lots to do and feeling good enough to work my way through them, slowly but surely. So that's this week, bring on next week!
Wrap-up Ramble Done, Kittens!
The dust is thick, but everything still seems in place, imagine that. It's been just under a year since I last blogged, nearly that long since I last wrote. It's been a trial and a tribulation, but I'm here...I'm here.
I'm starting from scratch, getting back into forums and blogs, looking through open submissions, and getting my writing feet wet again. There's a lot I don't remember because of the dyscognition and even more that's changed in just the short time I've been out of the loop. All of that's a good thing. A brand new start is just what's needed. I've spent too much time in the past and the things I can't go back to.
I've always been reluctant to discuss my health concerns here, or anywhere really, primarily because I lacked the language to convey the depth of what I was going through. It was also difficult to see where such a topic fit in what was supposed to be a writing blog. Being too sick to write has put things in perspective. My health is directly related to my creative expression, as are so many things, so all of them belong wherever I speak about my existence.
I have ME/CFIDS (Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome), fibromyalgia and circadian dysfunction. The symptoms range across insomnia, IBS, vertigo, memory loss, inability to concentrate, chronic headaches, chronic muscle pain, chronic joint pain, and crippling fatigue. I was in remission from November 2005 to 2010, stayed in denial until 2011, and made things worse with a full time job and other stresses that couldn't be avoided in 2012. All of that led to a collapse of everything in 2013 and I've spent much of the last 15 months housebound and the better part of 10 months bedbound.
I'm still symptomatic, but no longer stuck curled up on my side with a ice pack or heating pad. I can walk short distances, stand for a small bit of time, and can even run errands up to twenty or thirty minutes before my back locks up. It doesn't sound like much, but it's everything. The last three weeks have shown significant improvement and I want to follow through with taking back the important things.
As always, I'm ambitious in the task. I found an open call with a July 1st deadline. 35K in 30 days is doable, if over-reaching for just getting back, but hey it's win-win. Either I finish it, editing as I go, and have something submission ready at the end of the month, or I'm 15 to 35K closer to a finished ms than I was when I started. Win-win all the way.
After so long, I know it's likely no one will even see this, but it was important to write it anyway, to get a foot back in the game. I've been on the sidelines too long.
I hope everyone is well. I want to get here three times a week this month and rebuild that habit, but I'm not going to push. I'll do what I can and celebrate how far I get. Seeya soon.
Return Ramble Done, Kittens!
Welcome back to the Hot Summer Romance Giveaway Hop . Today, as an author of bi-poly romance, I’d like to talk about love triads vs. love triangles, and the progression from bromance to romance.
Fiction of every stripe has made use of the love triangle since we sat around camp fires, huddled against the night. The oldest love triangles are often centered around brothers who love the same woman. This is in part because the relationship between brothers has always fascinated us. The rivalry, the intensity, the fierce loyalty and the sacrifice between brothers has been part of an epic tapestry that stretches as far back as Remus and Romulus and even further to Osiris and Set and beyond.
Competition for a mate meets competition for familial attention and recognition when the brother dynamic is wed to the love triangle. The explosive possibilities for betrayal and even lethal retaliation raises the stakes. Higher stakes means a greater interest in the outcome and so we tell the stories over and over again. In modern Western culture, the minutia may change but the story is inevitably the same, with the more heroic brother winning the girl, sacrificing the relationship for his brother, or dying by his brother’s hands. As many ways as this can be spun, it does inevitably require an upgrade. Step in...the best friend triangle.
Close male relationships were once the norm, especially among the educated elite. Time spent with ones intellectual peers was considered beneficial—even necessary—and these relationships were fostered at every turn. Meant to mirror siblingship and even exceed it, close bond friendships still honored their origins. This lead to the widespread formation of brotherhoods among scholars and tradesmen and terms like brothers-in-arms for those who served together in military ranks.
Where brothers-by-birth are meant to compete, chosen brothers inspire a different, deeper loyalty. After all, these men lack the history of a childhood being compared to each other, trying to outdo each other or feeling inadequate in one another’s presence. And if any of these elements are present, well it simply fortifies the connection since in the end these two people chose to remain close. As a result, these are the relationships meant to endure. And they usually do—until a woman arrives to tear it all apart.
Be she divine angel or evil temptress, if you listen to the stories, historically women are the most destructive force to close male relationships. In part, this mirrors the severing of childhood ties for adult marriage, elevating sexual and reproductive relationship above all others. Its vilification represents the resentment to growing up and relinquishing the carefree days of bachelorhood. It is also a visceral response to leaving the company of the knowable masculine for the unknowable feminine. But what do you expect when for so long men wrote the tales and sung the songs? So what happened when women took up the pen?
Well, for the most part they wrote about relationships between women, but when romance finally made its way onto the pages, the love triangle was alive and well. For women, the perfect love triangle existed when both men adored the heroine but held disdain for one another. In this way, the heroine was not culpable in altering heart-held ties. In fact, in early works men rarely had any heart-held ties. Instead there are many gothic, brooding counts, widowers who would never love again and otherwise grumpy, gruff alpha males all waiting for the right woman to come along. Ever so often we get the dueling noblemen, figuratively or literally, competing to make the virginal heroine swoon.
It would take more time than I have here to breakdown exactly what happened with male friendships but sufficient to say in America, the rise of the labor class, military careers, isolated suburbs with long commutes and a general nose to the grindstone mentality changed our definitions of masculinity. Real men worked and provided for their families and didn’t have time to sit down and talk about feelings “like a bunch of women”. Emotional interaction was a luxury men didn’t have and more and more adult male relationships were reduced to alcohol fueled laments on life or sports analogies where no one asked anything deep, least they be viewed as less than men. This is not just a caricature women see about men, but a true loss men have expressed in their relationships and one finally taking a turn again.
We got our first taste of changing male relationships in the 1970s and fiction followed suit, but it was not to last through the cutthroat ‘80s. Romance fiction held on however and filling in the gap with the return of the brother themed love triangle in full force. The 1990’s introduced the “sensitive male” personae and held out emotional security and intimate connection as sexy. As a byproduct, men not only connected with women better than they had all century, they actually began to connect with other men on a genuine level. After the near-cannibalistic everyone-out-for-themselves ‘80’s, the ‘90’s saw the resurrection of the male best friend.
As a result, Hollywood gave us the buddy comedy in abundance, while television and romance novels gave us the best-friend love triangle. Even in print these relationships always played it safe and resolved in one of two ways. Most often they resolved into a heterosexual pairing where love had conquered all and there were no regrets concerning the now discarded male. When that was too predictable, they were momentarily subversive where all parties tried to make it work through loads of angst only to arrive at the inevitable course correction of a tragic ending. The overriding message? That the heroine must choose or fate would chose for her, often with the subtlety of a cross-town bus out of nowhere.
For those of us who hate the love triangle trope things seemed hopeless. Then came the new millennium and the rise of the ménage. Suddenly, on the page at least, the heroine didn’t have to choose. These best friends, and sometimes even brothers, could find a way to share and prosper rather than destroy everything between them by competing. Of course sharing didn’t always mean enduring love. Most ménage fiction as early as three years ago still held with the one-off sexual adventure from which everyone eventually came to their senses.
It’s been a short jump between ménage and polymory and those one-off encounters blossomed on the page into full relationships. They aren’t yet abundant but I believe they will be as male relationships continue to grow closer. Currently, Hollywood has taken notice of evolving connections between men and we see the rise of the man-crush, the man-date and the bromance on screens big and small. Is it any wonder that more love triads have also been published and more and more of those have been MMF where the men love each other as much as the heroine?
I’m not expecting Hollywood to jump on the bi-male bandwagon tomorrow, but the first few sincere offerings can’t be that far behind. For now, I’ll take the acknowledgement of being in love with more than one person and fully wanting relationships with both of them, as a great start. Right now, it appears that paranormal fiction will be our answer on the screen to inspire more authors to put it on the page.
*Spoiler Alert* The triangle in The Vampire Diaries is built upon the premise that both Salvator brothers are loved by Elena, as they were by her predecessor Katherine. This was finally accepted and acknowledged by all sides, and although a choice was made at the close of season, this is still the only network show that may still cross that line down the road. Although I’m not caught up on this season yet HBO’s True Blood is a step close, with Sookie openly admitting to being in love with both Eric and Bill and actively wanting both of them. Both are classic triangles, and even with choices made, neither come with the imperative of the old to, “choose or else”. Without this imperative, the outcome of not only choosing both but actively pursuing it to a positive conclusion becomes natural. The idea is there and ripe for exploration. To date however, only the non-fiction movie Savages directed by Oliver Stone has crossed the divide of two het men in love with the same women and willing to share. It’s a harsh film with its share of violence but at least our lovers all make it out alive.
Once they successfully cross the line into working polyamory on a popular show and mega hit movie, it’s just a short hop, skip and jump from the male intimacy of the het bromance to that of the bi-romance. Happy Hopping!
Remember to comment to win a copy of A Way To A Dragon's Heart or the backlist title of your choice. Please leave an email where I can contact the winner or winners and don't forget to keeping visit over the next few days, there's a grand prize of Kindle Fire and a $50 Amazon gift card through the larger Insatiable Reads hop!
Return to Linkz Page
Welcome to the Summer Chillin' Blog Hop. I hope you find some great recipes and delightful promotions to help carry you through the hot weeks ahead.
For my entry I've chosen a dessert. Yes, it might heat up your kitchen, but trust me, these cookies are more than worth it. To further make amends, I've provided a refreshing beverage to cool you back down.
I encourage making things from scratch, but I know we don’t always have the energy or the budget to keep the ingredients on hand. Box cake mixes are the perfect back up/alternative. I stock up on my favorite mixes any time I see them on sale and often for $1.25 or less, have the perfect base for sheet cakes, cupcakes, cookies and bars. Here’s the newest favorite in my household.
Cake Batter Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies:
1 box red velvet cake mix,
1/2 cup oil
1tsp baking powder
6 - 8oz chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. Combine Red Velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines, but any 18oz mix will do) with baking powder, eggs, water and oil until dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips. Form into teaspoon sized balls, roll in powdered sugar and place on tray about an inch apart. You can pat down the tops lightly, but these will spread fine without that if you prefer. Bake for 8 to 12mins depending on your oven, the top of the cookie will crack and it will set around the edges. Sprinkle with more powdered sugar immediately after removing them from the oven. They're crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and perfectly moist.
Blended Strawberry Lemonade:
1 ¼ lb strawberries, washed and halved, about 4 cups
2 lemons, washed and quarted
½ to ¾ cup honey or agave nectar to taste
6 cups of water
Blend the strawberries, lemons and honey with 2 cups of water. Strain and add the remaining 4 cups of water. Adjust sweetness as necessary. Serve over ice.
Alternately, blend lemons, honey and 2 cups of water. Strain and return to blender, add in frozen strawberries and remaining water for a slushie treat.
Comment for a chance to win my food-centric TherianWorld novel A WAY TO A DRAGON'S HEART, or backlist of your choice.
Ramble Done, Kittens!
Thanks to all who participated in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia! I loved the response to my post on BiVisibility and BiErasure and I appreciate all of you who took the time to comment.
I won a few prizes myself, and in celebration I'm giving away THREE copies of A WAY TO A DRAGON'S HEART. Congrats to Sophia, Lisabet and Layla!
Remember to keep speaking on these issues, every day, every time. It's only when we refuse to be silenced that we begin to see change.
The best of everything, Kittens!
A few years back, during my well days, I wrote a guest series based on “life in the middle” as a MMF romance author. Continued bi-phobia and bi-erasure has left a void when it comes to sites dedicated to—or just inclusive of—bisexual content. Navigating the stereotypes of bisexuality also means taking great care to clearly show bisexuality on the page as a true identity, without taking from the fact that most bisexuals, like most of the Western world, tend to settle into monogamous coupledom. It’s difficult to do both, the bisexual past is often erased and the relationship is ultimately considered to be gay or straight, depending on the partner the protagonist ends up with in the end. To keep the bisexual experience on the page, as well as celebrate the overlooked and misunderstood road of non-monogamy, I chose to write polyamorous romances. In my work, polyamory is expressed as polyfidelity, a committed relationship of three or more people. Romance readers of course know these books better under the label menage.
Menage, for those of you unfamiliar, is the ever growing subgenre of romance, and a natural extension of the classic love triangle. You know the one I mean: Hero A has everything she ever wanted, Hero B is everything she thought she could never have, who will she choose?
As a pre-teen, I read those books and always wondered why she had to choose at all. Menage emerged to show that she didn’t, at least not entirely. I’ve come across more than a few in which, once the deed was done, the threesome invariably learn that it’s best for her to be with just one of the men, but it’s less of a choice between them and more a clarification of what she/they really want. I can accept that, it’s just not my gig. I prefer the increasing, dare I say pervasive,
When you open my books, they’re all poly, all the time, (and there was much rejoicing). There’s also male-male love in all my work, which is not the menage standard. I don’t mean the gay couple across the street, or the gay brother-in-law and his partner, (although I have nothing against shining a light into their love lives, if they leave their bedroom doors open), I mean two or more male leads that are in love with each other. Men who want to touch, taste and caress one another. Who watch one each other walk by with that hungry, all encompassing need to ravish the object of their affection. Men in awe and appreciation of the attributes of other men, and enthusiastically in awe and appreciation of the attributes of women. Yes, I firmly put the ‘B’ back in LGBTQ with my Bisexual Poly Romance—and most people don’t know what to do with me.
MFM, that lovely combination that’s all about a women getting everything she wants, is easily shelved with the rest of het-romance and promoted like its monogamous brethren. Change the letters to MMF to become about a man getting everything he wants and suddenly there’s a pause. When the time comes to let readers know your work is out there, some sites that cater to erotic romance readers start to get a little jumpy if you want to stand out on the bisexuality or sexual fluidity of your characters. It goes something like this:
I write erotic romance and here is my MMF book, your readers will like it. “Hmm, gay content.” They’re not gay, they’re bisexual. “Still, male-male content, I’m not entirely sure how to package that to our readers, if you want to emphasize it, have you tried the gay romance sites?” The characters aren’t gay. “But it’s male-male content and they know how to work with that.” Fine, that seems reasonable. The majority of MM readers are women and many of them were introduced by various menage stories that obviously worked for them. Some went on to launch male-centered romance/erotica sites and know what they’re looking for, great idea. Here you go, I write erotic romance, here’s my MMF book, your readers will enjoy it. “Hmm, straight content.” The characters aren’t straight, they’re bisexual. “Still, male-female content, I’m not entirely sure how to package that to our readers, have you tried the het-romance sites?”.
Before you get the wrong impression, no one is entirely throwing MMF writers to the wolves, there isn’t a mad hate-on for bisexual/fluid content, nor does the industry have a campaign of bi-erasure. It’s more a matter of neglect because of bi-erasure in society and lack of bi-visibility in entertainment media at large. We don’t see bisexuality with the frequency or positive commonality that gay male couples have achieved, so when you get to niche sites, they don’t know what to do with that representation and try to force it into one box or another—the experience of bisexuals in day to day life.
A great story will speak for itself, it just needs someone to listen. With so many books released every day, specialty sites pop up all the time to give readers a place to come and talk about favorite genres and find desired content. To make sure that their readers get exactly what they want, they narrow their focus as much as they can and those of us between boxes are forgotten. There are certainly readers who want everyone in the bed to be completely committed to the enjoyment of everyone else present, but where do they go?
LGBTQ sites offer the full spectrum, but often the implication is that the stories will be about the struggle of being LGBTQ, rather than about people falling in love and learning about each other. Sometimes it moves beyond implication to outright statements by such sites who are “Telling Queer Stories for Queer Audiences”. Well, as much as I embrace and celebrate my queerness, I don’t write queer stories, for queer audiences. I write poly love stories with sexually fluid characters, for anyone who wants to read outside the lines. Where’s my shelf?
In the end, enough writers of MMF, (and FFM, but let’s not even get into the red-headed stepchild treatment of FF content in non-lesbian romance, or of lesbian romance itself because that’s its own series of posts), or enough readers will get together and the necessary sites will emerge. In the meantime, keep lists, start group discussions and track down authors doing what you want and getting it right, then spread the word. It’s only when we see ourselves that we believe we have the right to be ourselves.
We’re out there, sexually fluid and bisexual identified authors showing what that kind of love looks like in our unique voices. Find us. We’ll be here writing and waiting for the time, when being stuck in the middle, becomes conquering from the middle out.
Leave a comment with an email address to win a copy of A WAY TO A DRAGON'S HEART or one of my other titles.
Writing from the Middle Ramble ~ Done
For more links in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia
Xakara is an openly bisexual, poly author. Her works include ITS SWEETEST FORM (A Therian World Novella) out with Musa Publishing. SHIFTING PASSONS ( A Therian World Novella), out with Samhain Publishing. A WAY TO A DRAGON’S HEART (A Therian World Novel) out with Liquid Silver Books. GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST (PsiCorps Book 1) and DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT (PsiCorps Book 2) also out with Liquid Silver Books.
It's been a while and I couldn't think of a better way to brush the dust off this blog than by letting you know of a new guest post at Beyond the Veil.
Caridad Pineiro's THE VAMPIRE'S CONSORT is coming out on April and I thought it a wonderful idea to bring you a sneak peak.
The full post is at Beyond the Veil and I encourage you to check it out. In amends for my absence, here's the excerpt.
Nothing compares to the erotic excitement of watching
The first time Eliza had realized the moan was one of pleasure and not pain, she should have walked away from the peephole.
But she hadn’t.
The peephole had been placed in the wall after a so-called Slayer had tried to stake her master.
Despite the truce struck with the Slayer,
Luckily she’d not had a reason to use the gun, but the peephole had been another thing. Peering in it had almost become an obsession.
She used it way too often, drawn by the sight of Adrian and his lovers. Unable to yank herself away from her gorgeous master as he pleasured yet another willing woman before taking his sip of their blood as compensation for the wicked satisfaction they found in his arms.
Eliza imagined herself in those arms more than she should.
It was wrong, she knew. She was here to serve
Eliza had fallen in love with
She loved him and lusted for him, she thought as she peered through the peephole once again and watched him move over the body of his latest companion.
The young woman was a lithe strawberry blonde with surgically amplified breasts that barely moved as she lay on the bed with
Bracing one hand on the wall, she tugged at the belt for her robe. The silk fabric fell open and even that subtle movement of smoothness against her body dragged a breathy sigh from her as she imagined it was
I was hit with a bit of malware on Monday that I'm still recovering, (I'll get my taskbar back yet). I don't want to dedicate any more time to the downside, just let me spread the gospel of running SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes every month, every two weeks if you have Spotify or anything else that runs 3rd party apps.
Although it took me two days to recover from it, I don't feel negative about that time. In fact, I think it was a perfect microcosm moment of what to do when things go sideways. A friend that I talked to during it, (and who I talked into running antimalware which turned up a trojan, so seriously check your systems), asked me how I kept my zen, and I outlined what I took from the incident. In case you were all interested in how my mind works, I thought I'd share it here too. Originally it was in ten steps, but I've expanded them to thirteen for your viewing pleasure.
1st, Don’t Panic. Take a breath and step back before doing anything and see what’s fully going on.
2nd, Act Instead of React. Evaluate and move forward rather than just immediately reacting on the emotion of the moment.
3rd, Remember You’re Not Alone. Any problem you have, someone else has had it and they’ve talked about it on the internet. Go and check for solutions if you can’t handle the problem yourself.
4th, Keep Asking Questions. If the first search doesn’t turn up what you need, keep tweaking the question, type it right into the search engine and continue until you find what you need, or until you find it explained in a way you understand.
5th, Verify. Don’t borrow trouble, compare your advice and verify your sources.
6th, Pace Yourself. Take the solution, whatever it may be, at your own pace and without feeling anything but empowered to turn around the situation.
7th, Be Patient. Pardon my language, but it takes time to unfuck a situation, give yourself that time.
8th, Gain Perspective. Whatever's happened, you're there to complain about it, so it could have been worse. Every time the moment begins to overwhelm you, stop, back away, see the bigger picture and get back in there to fix it.
9th, Multitask. Whatever has knocked your day off-kilter, take the moment it presents. Perhaps you needed time to yourself to be alone with your own thoughts. Nothing hyper focuses you like trying to fix a laptop, (or car, or situation in general). Take the moment not to think about anything else. And when you can do nothing but sit back and let the scan run, (or wait for maintenance, etc), consider it that time you never get to read or watch tv or work out. I mean, why waste it?
10th, Remember, It’s Not Personal, Even When It Feels That Way. It’s an incident, perhaps a couple incidents, but that’s all they are. It’s not an agenda. Even when someone takes something out on you, it’s not really about you, so don’t internalize it as if it were.
11th, Let it Go. Whatever it is, it happened and it’s over, even if it’s not entirely resolved.
12th, When In Doubt, Dance It Out. At the beginning, in the middle, at the end, anywhere during the situation, take a music break and have a time. It will elevate your seratonin and make it all look better.
13th, Call Me. Or, you know, whatever friend you have that listens to that kind of thing. Not only will you feel better to get it said, but you might save them the trouble of flying blind when their own situation comes around.
Other Thursday Thirteeners