Friday, September 25, 2015

Up to My Knees In Mud

By the time you read this I will be in Bonnie Scotland and, judging by weather reports, up to my knees in rain and mud. I will be cold and wet and happy--and very likely a little hung-over from the night before.  :-)

A lot of the other kind of mud was slung my way this past week. Although I did not make the decision to reveal my identity lightly, was braced for disapproval, disappointment, even distaste...I have to admit I was taken aback by the hysteria and vitriol that boiled and bubbled for nearly a week. Slopping over not just me, but the entire M/M community. A community that prides itself on "understanding," "acceptance," "tolerance," and "compassion."

It turns out that--for a few--a prism is just a one dimensional photo on a blog page.

Many cruel and cutting comments from people who know the power of words. Aimed not just at me, but at any one who dared to speak up on my behalf.

A lot of talk about "authenticity" from people who believe it's a body part. In fact, a couple of gentlemen of the genre came perilously close to stating a straight man would have more authenticity writing gay romance than any woman ever. Because it's all about the bass, 'bout that bass, 'bout that bass. 

A lot of assumptions. Because I am a happily married woman today...I must have always been so. I must have always been this person. Never kissed the wrong boy. Never kissed a girl at all. Never wondered, never worried, never feared, explored, tested, loved and lost...

I was in junior high the first time I was called "lesbo." I was so naïve, so sheltered I didn't even know what it meant--except that it was clearly the worst thing a girl could be.

How is this anyone's business but my own? How is it some people feel they have the right to interrogate me about things my own husband has never felt the need to question?

It has been horrifying and yet fascinating to watch people who know absolutely nothing about my work history or my personal life pronouncing judgment. Feeling comfortable and self-satisfied in their self-righteousness. "Weighing in" and never asking I actually have the facts? Am I distorting the facts to fit my own agenda?

I'm a private person, but I tried to share some of the facts in this interview, because I know some people are still genuinely confused and unsure and hurt.

But there really isn't a lot more that I can say--although, like Columbo, here I am with "Just one more thing..." Though they sang louder and did a better job of clapping along with the chorus, the people who believe this kind of "deception" should be punishable by banishment and bankruptcy are a minority. I remain overwhelmed and moved by how much support and kindness I've received during the past week.

Even people who were disappointed and bewildered and hurt reached out to say I won't stop reading you. Don't stop writing. Support from my peers--which means so much--but even more support from readers, so many readers--readers being the people who maybe know me best because they've read my work and they understand what I've been saying all these years. Probably have formed a reasonable idea of who I am--without ever knowing who I kissed.

As painful as this was, I don't regret being honest about who I am. I haven't asked anyone for anything, you really think it was easy to do what I just did?

Okay, fine that was then, but why didn't she drop the veil sooner?

Think about this: for a long time dropping the veil would have meant nothing. I wasn't earning enough here to matter. I chose to drop the veil when I actually have something--a great deal--to lose. I am willing to risk it all. And despite the shrieks of outrage, I don't have any second thoughts on revealing my identity. I don't regret it. It had to be done.

I have a New Adult book coming out in a couple of months. It's a funny story, a nutty story, a silly story. But at heart it's a story about a boy coming to terms with who he is. It's a coming out story. And it occurred to me while writing Jefferson Blythe, Esquire that I could not let that book be published, could not respond to the inevitable reaching out from younger readers--readers the age of my own nieces and nephews--while concealing my truth. That I am a woman. And that my own journey has not always been easy, but I have found my own way. Sometimes by doing as society bade me. Sometimes by following the road less traveled.

Does authenticity come from destination or from journey?

I guess it depends on who you ask. My journey continues.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Coming OUT with a New Book!

Alternative blog title: OOPS, MY SLIP IS SHOWING.

This is the blog post I kind of hoped I wouldn't have to write because I really did believe in my heart that the M/M genre had surely moved past this kind of nonsense.

But I have been wrong before. And will no doubt be wrong again.

So here's how this will work. First off, I haven't read all the dramatic, finger-pointing posts about OH MY GAWD!!!! JOSH LANYON IS A CHICK!!!! And I'm not going to. I can guess what they say--pretty much what these same people have been saying for years (yes, nearly a decade now). I'm not interested. Honestly.

And as much as I would like to respond individually to the outpouring of loyalty and God. I'm overwhelmed. Genuinely overwhelmed. And deeply touched. And in the middle of packing. So I'll write my piece for those who are genuinely confused or hurt but I will not open it up to comments because it would get crazy and I won't be here to monitor it.

I'll leave the post up during the weeks while I'm away and then we'll get back to business as usual upon my return.

Like I said, I'm not reading the AH HA!!! DIDN'T I TELL YOU!!! posts but I can guess at the venom and vitriol. I honestly think some of these folks are more pissed off than ever because I lowered the veil.

Why did I lower the veil? Why now? Because it's time. Because I'm comfortable with the idea now. And, while I don't mean to be unkind or rude, my reasons for wishing to conceal my offline real life identity remain my own business.

A bit of historical perspective for those of you relatively new to the genre. Several years ago Jane at Dear Author speculated in a blog about whether I was female or not. The wise and funny Teddy Pig took issue--and that triggered a huge, wearying debate about women using male pen names, blah blah, blah and I said repeatedly in the huge thread of comments (which I don't have time or energy to track down, but I'm sure it's all still there) that I refused to state my gender, that it was irrelevant.

Which I believed and continue to believe.

Had I wished to make life easy for myself, I could have simply answered, Hell yes, I'm a man. How dare you question me? Etc. No one could have proved otherwise and that would have been the end of it. The years of gossip and rumors and speculation were fueled by my steadfast refusal to state whether I was male or not. Which...for God's sake. THAT WAS THE ANSWER RIGHT THERE. Right? Certainly for most people that was the answer right there.

Anyway, old timers have known The Secret for years--one of my former publishers has made a point of "outing" me at every single GRL--but there are so many new faces in M/M that I guess this week's revelation does come as news for some.

Anticipating the complaints/objections/criticisms to my use of a male pen name:

1 - It wasn't just a pen name, you pretended to be a gay man

 See above

2 - It's about assuming a queer identity in order to give yourself  "authenticity" so you can sell more books.

This one has always fascinated me. I am a woman therefore you automatically assume you know my sexual history. Really? You assume too much. Here's the relevant point. I am currently happily
married to a wonderful guy. Everything else is moot. And none of your business.

As for the 2.1 part of this question, the ever popular bit about cashing in on the booming market for gay fiction. LOL. There was no "booming market" when I started writing gay fiction. I wrote and published for years and made no money at it. Is someone seriously suggesting I should have stopped using my Josh Lanyon pen name the minute the market became lucrative because...huh?

In what faraway, distant realm of publishing do these people live? I worked hard to build my brand--and that brand consists of writing mainstream-quality mysteries and being attentive and responsive to my readers.

I make money writing mainstream fiction too. I could have focused on that brand just as easily and been even more successful. I was on that path. But I prefer to write M/M fiction. At least for now.

3 - It is not misogynistic to speculate about someone's gender if they are really female and trying to sell books under a male identity. (Or something equally convoluted.)

Well, yes. Actually, it IS. The saddest part of this is that a great deal of the misogyny comes from other women within the genre. Male writers frustrated because they believe female writers have created a false expectation in the M/M audience...I get that. But these guys still don't understand that this genre evolved from a different literary tradition and the expectations and tropes were already in place when M/M became an actual marketable genre. You take away the HEA aspect and you lose your market as well.

But I also understand that not everyone is going to agree with me on this. So let's agree to disagree.

Are there other points of criticism and contention? Probably.

Look, nobody outed me. Or at least, no more than usual. I chose to drop the veil. I've been planning this for a long time. Which means I was prepared for the hue and cry. I won't deny that I hoped for a little more civility and sanity in certain quarters, but overall I've met with humbling support and kindness.

These are the facts. Make of them what you will.

Frankly, the people who have disliked me for various reasons for a long time now feel justified in that dislike, but I doubt they are saying anything aloud that they have not whispered behind my back.

 I'll leave the rest of you to decide for yourselves.


Here I'm going to reverse myself and add one final thing. A number of people have mentioned feeling hurt because I didn't share the truth--or foolish because they didn't guess it. My intention was certainly never to hurt anyone. The fact that I wasn't in a hurry to unleash the flood we saw today pretty much explains itself.  But as for not trusting wasn't that I didn't trust my online friends. It's that I don't trust circumstances. It's very hard to keep a secret and the more people who know, the harder it is.

I expected the bullshit. What I did not expect, what overwhelms me now is the kindness and support I've received over the last few hours. Thank you--each and every one of you--sincerely for that.

As a good friend of mine is wont to say...YOU GUYS ROCK.


No, but seriously, I want to hear the "normal" reader reaction to this idea.

I was talking to a reader the other day about turning Fatal Shadows into a graphic novel, and I mentioned Kickstarter and he mentioned  Patreon. That was the second time in three days I'd heard of Patreon. I'd previously read a post by an author relatively well known in our genre, and X made an interesting argument, although I was still doubtful about how it would all work.


It's nothing new in the arts. in fact, as time-honored ideas go, patronage of the arts is right up there with chopping thieves' hands off and hanging pirates. Oh, and burning witches (which I used to get a lot, by the way). :-D And group patronage would be the best option given how few dukes are left with money for the arts burning a hole in their pockets.

Group funding.

Is it the new reality? Is it the future? For some artists--musicians certainly--it is the fiscal present.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. And I'm sincere about that--an album, unlike a book, costs a horrendous amount of money to produce (as in, if there are authors out there spending a minimum of 20K to put a book out, we need to chat.)

Confronted with such publishing realities as B&Ns dwindling ebook sales, Audible's reduction in royalties, Kindle Unlimited, Scribd's decision to cut romance titles (too many romance readers are not cost effective!!) etcetera and etcetera.

Where are we headed?

I honestly don't know. I'm taking this one step at a time, one year at a time. And I wish I was saving more.

At this juncture, it would be very difficult for me to go back into the regular workforce. But should the fiction market go away (HUH?!) I could switch gears and do ghost writing, non-fiction...I got mad typing skilz, let's put it that way.

Do I want to stop writing fiction? Hell no. The idea makes me literally ill. Of course it wouldn't be a matter of not writing, it would be a matter of not publishing. But even that feels pretty unthinkable at this stage.

The gathering funding for a specific project makes more sense to me. I'm not sure whether readers would really get behind the idea of recurring funding.

You tell me.

Oh, and for your edification, here's an article discussing the difference between Kickstarter and Patreon.

What is your feeling in general on this idea? I'm interested in hearing from both authors and readers on this one.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Blog Post Number Zillion and One

Ha! I had lunch with a writer friend last week and we started talking about tropes in romantic fiction. The things we are willing to suspend disbelief for in a book that we don't necessarily believe in real life. Or that we believe, but with qualifications.

I thought rather than me pontificating on what I think all that means, it would be nice to just have a discussion with you, and you tell me what you think it means. If anything. :-)

So here are the topics we discussed.

1 - Love at First Sight

I actually believe in love at first sight. As a matter of fact, I have personal experience with love at first sight. So this is something I believe in both in fiction and in reality.

What about you?

2 - Gay for You (or the alternative version: Straight for You)

I don't believe in this in reality. But I also have no problem admitting I haven't experienced or witnessed everything in the world--and that I understand that people are complicated and wildly diverse critters.

I do understand the romantic appeal of these GFY or SFY stories.

What about you?

3 - Love Conquers All

Yeah. Not so much. I wish it was true, but no. However, I do completely love the idea in romance fiction--especially when the characters are shown as working hard to fix the problems that exist between them. Because that I do believe: love takes work and commitment. And hard work and commitment can solve an awful lot of problems.

What do you think?

4 - Opposites Attract

This is true. I have seen this and I have experienced this. Attraction does not always lead to Happily Ever After, however, but I have seen Opposites living HEA. Or as close as we get to HEA in real life.


5 - Reunited and it Feels So Good

Again, yes. I have seen couples break-up and even years later get back together and live HEA (or, again, as close as we get to HEA in real life). I have not experienced this personally, however. I really don't have regrets about past relationships. I mean, yes, I have regrets, but not about the relationship being over and having moved on.

What do you think? Feel free to expound. I love it when we have these in-depth discussions!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy Labor Day!

It was so cool and breezy last night I actually shut the windows--for the first time in four months?

There's still plenty of warm weather ahead, but the summer is drawing to a close. I'm sad about that. I'm always sad when the summer ends, as much as I love the autumn. But I'm looking forward to each new season in this house. Our first fall, our first winter...

In the meantime, have a nice long weekend--if you're in the States. And if you're not in the States, have a nice too-short weekend!