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So I went to GRL. It was AWESOME. I went as my alter ego (and a reader) and it turned out that people kinda sorta vaguely recognized me! It was probably the pink hair, because it’s pretty damn memorable. (Next year, it will be actually-pink, and I will not need a haircut as badly as I did this year.)

I mentioned next year, because yeah. I am SO TOTALLY GOING. And as an author, which means I have to figure out what kind of swag I’m going to take — at least I have plenty of time. And I am hoping to have a few more stories out, so that I can actually have some recent swag (or recent stuff to talk about, anyway).

Did I mention it was awesome? Because it was. I usually avoid anything that you could generally label as part of having a social life (i.e. going to bars/parties, concerts*, etc.), but I didn’t have any problems with crowds at GRL. Maybe because they were small, but more, I think, because everyone was so damn awesome that I never felt like I was lost inside an overwhelming group that had no interest in the people that made it up. (I don’t know, it’s a bad analogy. Trust me: I was so comfortable with the social aspects of GRL that the only reason I didn’t get up and sing at karaoke was the fact that the DJ didn’t have either of the songs that I wanted, and I had no idea if karaoke versions of either exist. Normally, you couldn’t PAY me enough to sing in front of a bunch of people I didn’t really know.)

I had to mail my swag (and my books) home. I read both of the books I saved out, and they were both great — I’m pretty sure I had people in both Denver and Seattle thinking that I was kind of crazy because I was grinning and laughing at both stories. (In other news: The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux and One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O’Shea are totally worth buying in any format. I happened to be able to get them in paperback (and then signed, woo!), but whatever’s good for you.)

Speaking of getting things signed… I was so glad for the signing event on Saturday, because it meant that I got to find people that I’d been wanting to blither fannishly at and do so without coming across as a stalker. (What can I say? I’ve been reading the various ‘Dude, don’t be a fucking creeper at a con!’ posts that Scalzi and friends have put up this summer. As someone who tends to be painfully self-conscious in the presence of Very Cool People I Don’t Know, I figured it was just safer to keep to myself instead of seeking them out outside of the signing event. It’s complicated and I’ll probably try to explain it again in another post. Eventually.)

I actually had a point to that previous paragraph, and it was this: I got to make some people who write–and draw–beautifully light up with a few words of my own. I loved that, I loved being able to give them the same fizzy-fuzzy feeling I get when people tell me they like my stuff. Getting stuff signed was a nice bonus, because I was happy enough to tell them things like ‘this is my favorite by you’ or ‘If I have the chance I want you to do my next cover’ or even just ‘I love the way you write’.

All in all, I’m glad I went, I’m glad there are such awesome people in the world, and I’m looking forward to Atlanta like you wouldn’t believe. (And if you have swag preferences, let me know…)

Finding New Things To Read

Because that To-Be-Read pile isn’t going to grow on its own… And besides, I don’t think it’s possible to have too many books. Even if the garage is currently full of boxes of books. Anyway.

So! Smaller publishers often have the first chapter or so up for free, right on the buy page for the book; sometimes they have a link that opens a pop-up window with the excerpt. If you’re looking for M/M stuff in particular, you can try:

Dreamspinner Press (full disclosure: they’ve published two of my stories and I love them to bits)
Samhain Publishing (I can definitely recommend The Balance Of Silence and The Slipstream Con)
Torquere Press (GLBT publisher)
Amber Allure (the GLBT arm of Amber Publishing)

If you’re looking for a community with which to interact, you can try:
The Goodreads M/M Romance Group (It’s a restricted membership group, but not hard to get into; if you don’t want people to know your precise birthdate, use the proper month/year and pick a different day. It’s also very active, with lots of author/reader interactions; for the past two years, the group has put together an annual anthology of over 100 free stories. It’s a great way to discover new voices.)
The LoveRomancesCafe mailing list (Two important things to know: 1) it’s VERY busy, and can/will swamp your inbox, especially on Mondays and special-event days and 2) the age-restriction is due to the adult excerpts (M/M and het) that get posted. As for the list itself: There’s usually a monthly Dreamspinner chat and a GLBT-only day every month/6 week. Monday is open promo day, which means you get some of everything. Also a great way to find other groups, since some people cross-post like crazy without bcc’ing.)

And if you’d rather have someone else read it and give you an opinion, here are a few review sites to get you started:
Rainbow Book Reviews (Run by Serena Yates and friends; freshly revamped and reopened)
Reviews By Jessewave (Reviews, giveaways, and gratuitous pictures of lovely men.)
Mrs. Condit Reads Books (Not exclusively M/M, but she does review it on a regular basis.)
A Bear on Books (thoughtful reviews of M/M only)
– and not least, the tag ‘read this you might like it’ right here (I do my best to avoid spoilers.)

An Illuminating Example

To see something that would be irrevocably harmed by the elimination of adjectives and adverbs, go here, click on “Read First Chapter For Free”, and read through at least the line that ends “…through a broken window and out into the alleys.”

There’s no way you could write anything half as effective as that prose without adjectives or adverbs.

And now for Ylendrian Empire news!

Because there can never be too many reminders of how awesome Michelle and Reesa are. So!

Kellen Frey would like to tell you about his favorite places in the ‘verse.
– Reesa and Michelle have a new free read: Want, Take, Have, which features Tal, Van, and Kellen celebrating their anniversary, woot!
– Michelle and Reesa were also interviewed over at Friskbiskit.
– If you like dead-tree versions of books, The Slipstream Con in PRINT is now available for preorder at Amazon. (And no, no one knows why Reesa is the only author listed–not even Reesa! At least the cover has it right.)
– Reesa and Michelle are also working on Tal, Kellen, and Vanya prequels. <-- This? Makes me squeak with glee. It's undignified, but what else is new?

Pot Luck: Comment Policy; Other People’s Stories; WIPs

Comment Policy: I have WordPress set up so that each new commenter has to register and then have their first comment approved — but once that happens, you can comment all you like. While I may get a bit cross about certain topics (punctuation, people making assumptions about why I do certain things, etc.), I have committed to a policy of allowing pretty much any and all comments unless they are A) laden with vile language/insults or B) revealing personal info about myself or others (phone number, address, shoe size). That means that yes, your first comment can be about how I’m an idiot for feeling possessive about my ellipses, and I will approve it.

Other People’s Stories: Reesa and Michelle will be releasing a new Slipstream short sometime in the near future. Huzzah!

Works In Progress: I may miss the deadline for at least one of the sub calls I’ve been working on. (I did just double-check, however, and discovered that it’s later than I thought it was.) For reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture, I’m not getting much work done on anything — and it drives me crazy. On the other hand, I do finally have an appointment to get my hair cut, so there is that.

More Hot Summer Days Recommended Reads

I haven’t been getting much writing done, for reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture. In an effort to try feeling accomplished, I caught up on my HSD reading. Here’s the latest that I’ve liked, in no particular order whatsoever:

Bridges, by M. J. O’Shea. More of an enemies-to-lovers story, so it takes a little time for the guys to get their heads around the idea that maybe there could be more to their relationship. I definitely need more O’Shea and Vaughn in my life.

Photo Booth, by Neil Plakcy. A cowboy hooks up with an FBI agent: it sounds like that should end with “can they get along in the suburbs?!”, but Mr. Plakcy makes it work. (Full disclosure: I’m proud to say that Mr. Plakcy was the first editor to ever buy one of my stories, but that has nothing to do with the fact that I liked Photo Booth.)

Delivery With A Smile, by Megan Derr. A delivery guy finally meets the son of one of the ladies on his route. She’d told him her boy was single and handsome, but she left out that whole ‘tends to kill people’ thing…

Like The Taste Of Summer, by Kaje Harper. Jack Korbel hasn’t regretted a single minute of his life since the moment he decided that the only way out was straight through.

The Tears Of The Sea, by Marguerite Labbe. A lovely interpretation of an Irish folktale, and if you’re at all a fan of the things that live in the sea, you should give it a try.

Luscious Love, by Zach Sweets. A confession, first: having been through food-handler’s licensing classes, my first reaction to the picture was “Oh, God, they’re gonna have to throw out the whole batch and start over, and tempering chocolate can be kind of a bitch…” That, however, has nothing to do with the story, which is a cute little read about a man finding more than just a job. (Also, it pokes my Characters With Communication Issues button.)

Cupid’s Beau, by the intentionally-punning (and aptly-named) Jade Archer. You’d think finding love would be easy, for a Cupid — it’s understandable, he’s a Cupid, after all. Sadly, you’d be wrong… At least until the right person shows up.

The Importance Of Being Denny, by Kari Gregg. If you dislike stories wherein everything would be resolved in about ten minutes if one of the characters would just STOP ARGUING already? Yeah, this might not be for you. (He does knock it off, finally.)

The Boy Next Door, by PD Singer. He’s grown up, and he knows what he wants… If the object of his affections will just stop thinking of reasons it won’t work.

Say A Little Prayer, by Clare London. Another story about the seaside, and the unusual things that one can find on the beach. For instance, a naked man.

Super Sock Man, by Amy Lane. I am a fan of Amy Lane’s writing, and this is one of the stories that I was really looking forward to reading. What do hand-knit socks, Pablo Neruda, and a dancer have in common? Donnie’s not entirely sure, but he aims to find out.

Just One Kiss, by Lisa Worrall. This reminds me of Damon Suede’s Hot Heads, but that’s not a bad thing. I’m not a huge fan of “gay for you” stories, but both Hot Heads and Just One Kiss do a good job of selling me on the relationship between the guys. It really helps that they’re both friends-to-lovers stories (which I seem to have developed a real Thing for — who knew?).

Between Friends, by EM Woods. As I said, I’ve developed a Thing for friends-to-lovers stories. This is, surprise! yet another; the friends this time are a soda-delivery guy and his boss. Soda Guy gets into some trouble on his route, and his boss doesn’t take it well…

Sucker-Punch, by Sarah Black. A world champion boxer and his physical therapist take their relationship beyond the typical therapist-patient boundaries. I’m not a fan of boxing at all, but I kept reading to the end, which was worth it.

Be My Boy, by Casey K Cox. Owen is adrift, asea, lost in the fog of grief; Mitchell is a young man who doesn’t seem to have any need for Owen at all… Until Mitchell changes his mind.

A Woman With A Dildo, by Cardeno C. When we’re not being suspected of being indecisive or slutty or some other unflattering thing, people are worrying that we bisexuals’s heads are going to be turned merely by the equipment possessed by the opposite gender of our current partner — whether that equipment is biological or man-made (sorry). In this story, the point is made that there’s more to attraction than just parts.

Bear Naked, by JL Merrow. And to counteract the seriousness of the last story, here’s a fun little tale of a man who steps way outside of his comfort zone and discovers that he won’t regret it after all.

The Muse, by Astrid. An artist and his boyfriend live across the street from a woman with a camera. It all begins with an inadvertant pose and photo dropped in their mailbox…

— Crocodile Undie, by AJ Llewellyn. This story is, ultimately, about the blossoming of a relationship. It also involves three men named Bruce, a photoshoot at a lake, and tourists acting like, well, tourists.

One of the best parts about this project is not only reading things from authors I know I like, but discovering new voices, as well. Not that my budget can handle finding more things for me to buy, but at least I’ll have a list ready if I should win the lottery.

Reading List Update:

Black Mustard: Justice, by Dallas Coleman. Bayou hoodoo brings an asshole prosecutor low. It’s your typical jerk-learns-a-lesson-about-humanity-and-humility story, but it’s sweet and funny. I do have to admit to a bias, first–I have a Thing for characters with difficulties in communication–but it’d be good even if I didn’t.

Reading List

So I’ve been reading a fair amount, lately, and I thought I’d tell you about it. So far, I’ve read:

    Boots, by Angel Martinez. A contemporary take on the classic tale of Puss In Boots, with a twist. There were parts of it that made me squirm and one passage that made me yell, but the ending is worth the trip.

    The Locker Room, by Amy Lane. Amy has a knack for writing characters that you want to hug while whacking them with a shoe, as well as stories that make you ache and cheer. (I also love Talker/Talker’s Redemption; don’t read the dedication for Talker until after you finish it (it’s spoilery) and it does involve rape, just FYI.)

    Mongrel, by K. Z. Snow. A riff on the classic theme of not judging by appearances, the world of Mongrel is deliciously drawn, and the characters are intriguing. It’s also got funny bits in, which is always a plus.

    Jump First, by Charles Edwards. Another story about things–and people–not always being as they seem. It’s fairly sweet, involves writers, and may take you back to the first time you had a crush on someone.

    Visible Friend, by K. Z. Snow. This is a hard one to talk about, because I’m still not sure what I think of the whole of it. I loved parts of it — the epilogue was a bittersweet surprise, and if it had come at the beginning of the story, I don’t think it would have had nearly the same effect — and parts of it… It’s not that I hate them, it’s just that I need to think about them for a while. It’s not a bad book, by any means. It has a hopeful ending, for Denny and Chris; the epilogue answers at least one question from the main story. There’s angst and regret, but it’s not Misery Lit, not at all.

I’m in the process of reading The Inventor’s Companion, by Ariel Tachna. It’s pretty good, so far, but I’m only about halfway through. I’ll have more of an opinion when I see where the plot goes. It’s a well-defined world, too, without being full of infodumps.

And that’s about it, for now.