Very excited that Bold Strokes Books has released my novel, Branded Ann, as part of a three-book pirate romance sampler in e-book format, just in time for Christmas! Also included are Colette Moody’s The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin, and Catherine Friend’s award-winning A Pirate’s Heart (which, if you read carefully, dear friends, contains a wee reference to Branded Ann, because Catherine Friend is just THAT awesome.) Three swashbuckling lesbian pirate tales for a bargain — snap them up now n’ get yer yarrr on!!
Things have been quiet on the blogging/social media front this past month or so, mostly because I’ve been writing frantically.
The light at the end of the tunnel is beckoning, my friends. I am currently finishing up what I think is the second-to-last chapter of Prayer of the Handmaiden. The big battle is concluded, and there’s some sweet lovin’ going on at the moment. ^~ Then we just have to wrap things up, and Qiturah has to get in her last word, of course, and then the complete book draft will be finished at long last.
I plan to go back through it over the course of another month or so, especially the later chapters, for some deep-cleaning, and then it will be time to send it off for *gulp* judgement.
In the mean time, it seems like every possible kind of stress has been tossing me around the past month. Work. Family. Money. Everything. Trying to hang in there and just breathe and tackle one thing at a time, but it’s getting overwhelming. I’ll be glad when the tide goes back out again… till then, just gotta close my eyes and hang on, right? :P
This morning I stumbled across another really nice review of SotG, this time on the blog Queer People Doing Stuff:
“It did everything I wanted it to. I wanted the heroes to struggle but win in the end, I wanted the ladies to get together, and I wanted an awesome girl doing boy things. If you like those things too, then you’ll probably like this book. I know that for me it was one of the funnest reads I’ve had in a long time.”
The lesbian-historical-fiction bloggers over at Bosom Friends just posted such a nice review of Sword of the Guardian!
“Romantically speaking, Sword of the Guardian is one of the most alluring love stories I’ve ever read. The characters of Shasta and Talon are so lively, and their romance is so captivating, it truly broke my heart to see their story end. The fact that we have access to them as individuals from a young age (especially in Shasta’s case) allowed for a deeper connection to their characters that is hard to find nowadays. Seeing them grow as individuals alongside their growth as a couple was truly a treat…”
Thank you so much, ladies! <3
I compiled this list rather hastily in preparation for the Queer Monsters round table at Sirens this year, and I shared my list of round table discussion questions in a previous post, but I thought I would share the indie monster book list itself as a separate blog so that I could spend hours getting every book title linked to a page where you could research/purchase said book, if you were so inclined. ^~
I find it such a shame that so many book lists out there completely gloss over the existence of books published by independent presses and self-published authors, especially when it comes to seeking out queer fiction. I guess everyone assumes that queer fiction is bound to be amateurish erotica, and admittedly there is a lot of that out there… but there’s so much that’s truly great, too.
Anyway, this is a list of paranormal / monster themed books from independent publishers that feature a lesbian protagonist. This is by no means a comprehensive list as I know there are probably far more of these out there than even I’m aware of, so please do comment if you know of one that should be added!!
By Winter Pennington (Bold Strokes Books):
Witch Wolf, Raven Mask and the forthcoming Bloody Claws (vampires, werewolves, witches)
The Rosso Lussuria Series
Darkness Embraced and the forthcoming Summoning Shadows (vampires and some other interesting creatures)
By Ronnie Massey (Copperhill Media Corporation) – Crimson Dawn (vampires)
By Sarah E. Glenn (Pill Hill Press) – All This and Family, Too (vampires)
By Ali Vali (Bold Strokes Books) – Balance of Forces: Toujours Ici (vampires)
I’m sure there are many more to come, so if you know of one you’d like to add please leave it in the comments! :)
Well, 81%, really, if my word count estimation is correct. Which it might not be, since this story is turning out to be a lot bigger than I had originally imagined. It’s hard enough to weave a gripping romance, but when you do it against the backdrop of a very complex fantasy world with its own intricate religion that plays a major part in our heroines’ quest to be together, there’s just so much that needs to go on in order to keep the world accessible and real and free of logic-holes. Add to that an epic villain (because of course there has to be an epic villain) and some very frustrating hopping all over the kingdom in order to get people where they need to be for the key plot points to take place (fight! run! rest! fight more! run more! EPIC MOMENT OF GLORY! Another fight! More running!! MORE EPICNESS!!) it gets exhausting, as the writer, to keep up.
You also have to ask yourself questions like… how will so and so manage to travel from this point to this point before this other so-and-so catches up to them? What if all the starting moments have to occur on the same night, but then in order for the ending to work there has to be some drag time during which no one would, logically, be sitting around dragging? What to do, writer, what to do?!!
Don’t worry, friends, I *will* figure it out. :P And I drew a lot of inspiration from the conference this weekend. Though I was ashamed–utterly ashamed–to realize that in one month we are coming up on NaNoWriMo. And remember how last year I was oh-so-optimistic that I’d have this story finished during 2010’s NaNo? Yeah… Guess that didn’t work out so well. *hangs head in shame* I suppose it’s too much to hope that I’ll have it done before this year’s event?
Besides, the third Ithyria book is already insistently head-butting my imagination, wanting attention. Not to mention a couple of other novel ideas that have been simmering for a while… So come on, little priestess story, let’s get you written!!
The winner will receive one personally autographed copy of either Sword of the Guardian or Branded Ann (your choice!) I will even throw in one of my super-cool new magnetic bookmarks, and possibly a couple of other treats as well. ^~
To enter, just tweet me @merryshannon with the answer to this question: who was the first person in your life that you ever came out to? (And if you’re straight – who was the first gay person to ever come out to you?)
(Following me on Twitter is not a requisite to win the contest, but of course it’s always much appreciated, too! ^~)
I will run the contest until noon tomorrow, and then draw a winner randomly from the responses – good luck!!
EDIT:: And the winner, according to this random number generator, is… @krayzdreamr!! Congratulations — and thank you to everybody who entered! This was so much fun, you guys kept me seriously entertained for a good part of the day yesterday. I might just have to do this again someday soon… ^~
Had the most amazing time at the 2011 Sirens Conference over the weekend! I tried to keep my Twitter as updated as I could with the goings-on, but there was just so much that it wasn’t always easy to keep up with. The three guests of honor, Justine Larbalestier, Laini Taylor and Nnedi Okorafor, are such fantastic, creative women and it was so much fun listening to their keynote speeches and banter during the panels (and getting signed books, yay!!) I ran into other fantastic authors as well; Mette Ivie Harrison, Sarah Rees Brennan, Marie Brennan, and Clare Bell, just to name a few, and came away from the conference with a huge stack of new treats to read.
Things I loved about the conference: Women. Magic. Anime. Urban Fantasy. Epic Fantasy. Paranormal Fantasy. Feminism. Queerness. Monsters, especially monstrous women. Fairies. Vampires. Werewolves. Demons. Writers. Autographs. Costumes. YA.
Things I would have liked more of: Romance, and adult fiction. There was a strong emphasis on YA (and I love YA!!) and probably rightly so, since all three guests of honor were YA authors, and there are far more powerful female characters in YA fantasy than in adult fantasy right now. But I would love to see more of the adult stuff too – Charlaine Harris is a great example. And, of course, being a romance lover I can never get enough of the lovey-dovey stuff. *^^* My favorite panel of the entire weekend, in fact, was “Destructive Love Myths,” in which Laini Taylor, Mette Ivie Harrison, Justine Larbalestier and Dene Low discussed some of their most disliked romance tropes, and how to avoid using them poorly.
Since the conference theme this year was Monsters, I hosted a round table on the Monstrous Queer. SO many thanks to everyone who attended and contributed such thoughtful comments to the discussion!! For those who are interested I thought I’d post a recap of our discussion questions, which resulted in great conversation including such diverse materials as Charlaine Harris / True Blood, the X-Men, and the 1872 novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu:
1. In much recent popular monster-themed fiction, it seems authors increasingly assign a fluid sexual culture to their monstrous characters – vampires, werewolves, etc. – even if the protagonists of their story are strictly heterosexual. For example, in the Sookie Stackhouse novels, nearly all of the vampire characters demonstrate some degree of bisexuality. What is it about imagined monster culture that seems to lend itself so easily to sexual fluidity?
2. Do you think queer characters are more easily accepted by mainstream readers if they’re also portrayed as inhuman?
3. Does the increasing visibility of queer fantasy monsters in popular media contribute to the depiction of queerness, in and of itself, as a monstrosity? Do you think it reinforces the idea that non-straight sexuality is evil or unnatural?
4. Regardless of whether they’re being portrayed as heroes or villains, there is always a clear line of differentiation that sets monsters apart from “normal” people, often requiring them to hide their true identity from others. What parallels might be drawn between a fantasy monster’s isolation and the prejudice often encountered by GLBTQ people?
5. A key scene in any monster story is the moment when the monster’s true identity is revealed. How are these scenes usually handled? Does the monster “come out” themselves, or are they discovered and confronted? Does the way the revelation is made make a difference in how the information is handled by the other characters and ultimately, the reader? What consequences arise once the monster’s identity is known? Are there similarities to what queer people might experience when their sexuality is made public knowledge?
6. Can you think of examples of queer “monster” characters whose alternate sexuality is not depicted as contributing to (or arising from) their monstrousness?
7. The concept of lesbian vampires seems to hold particular erotic appeal for many readers, male and female alike. What makes the idea of a lesbian vampire so alluring? Are these characters usually portrayed as scary monsters, or romantic heroines? Who do you think the concept appeals to more, women or men?
8. Bonnie Zimmerman, in her essay entitled Daughters of Darkness: Lesbian Vampires, explains how the lesbian vampire poses a particular threat to men, thereby making herself the consummate villain. “When the lesbian is also a vampire,” she says, “[a man] has an added explanation for the attraction one woman might have for another. It is not he who is inadequate, he is competing with supernatural powers… He must destroy the vampire — the lesbian — who threatens male power through sexual attacks on women. For, in fact, whether the woman vampire is lesbian or heterosexual, her real object of attack is always the male.” She goes on to describe how many popular lesbian vampire movies of the 1970’s begin with a newly married couple on their honeymoon, who encounter a female vampire that seduces the young wife away from her (usually abusive) husband. So is it the vampire’s vampirism that makes her a monster in the man’s eyes, or her lesbianism? Do you think the woman she’s seduced sees her as a monster, or as her savior? Is the story a horror… or a romance?
9. Must lesbian monsters, when presented with a human love interest, always take on the traditionally masculine role of pursuer and seducer? Are straight female monsters usually assigned this role? What might this imply about the role of aggressor – is it truly based on gender, or is it more about who is in a greater position of power?
10. Bold Strokes Books currently publishes a line of Urban/Paranormal romances featuring lesbian “monster” protagonists. While a good number of these are about vampires, nearly half the books are about lesbian werewolves, and they are very popular among BSB’s queer readership. Is the concept of a lesbian werewolf as inherently sexual as that of a lesbian vampire? Does it carry the same feminist (or misogynist) overtones?
I also included a list of Indie GLBTQ Monster-themed books, which I’ll post up later as a separate blog. ^~
I had a great time signing books and programs at the Afternoon Tea sessions, and all the authors were so gracious and inclusive (especially Marie Brennan, who sat next to me at the signing table and was such a delight to talk with!)
What a wonderful weekend! And next year promises to be equally awesome, with the fabulous Malinda Lo as a guest of honor! I can’t WAIT…
So this is incredibly cool! Let’s say you own a copy of one of my books on Kindle. “How I wish I could have this wonderful novel autographed,” you sigh. “With something personal and written by the author just for me… but alas, my book is digital and has no paper to write on!”
Weep no more, dear readers, because the brilliant folks at KindleGraph have come up with a solution.
I can now create personalized digital autographs for any reader, near or far, who would like to have one! Just go to my page on KindleGraph and let me know you want it, and I’ll whip something up just for you. No expensive travel to see me (especially since I can so rarely travel to make appearances to begin with…) and no waiting in lines! KindleGraph turns the inscription into collectible file you can download onto your own e-reader.
And no, you don’t have to own a copy of the books to request a KindleGraph. You don’t even have to own a Kindle, for that matter. ^~ Go check it out. It’s pretty darned cool. :)
- Sign My eBook Please! (darayoungwrites.com)
- Video: Amazon’s new Kindle e-book readers promise value (news.consumerreports.org)
- To Kindle or not to Kindle (paperparcel.wordpress.com)
I have been waiting impatiently for what feels like forever (but was, in fact, just a little over a week) to get my new Moo Minicards in the mail. These things are SO AWESOME!! The print quality is amazing, you can see all the teeny tiny details of the images, and the cardstock is thicker than a regular business card. I’m in love. For the first set I decided to use a couple of my 3D renders, just to see what the results would look like. Now that I know what these cards are capable of I have all kinds of ideas for Moo cards… more 3D characters — maybe individual portraits? — and book covers too, of course. I’m also dying to make a few for Prayer of the Handmaiden even though it will likely be a good while before I have a print copy of that in my hands. *grins* And before I go too crazy with the card-ordering I really probably ought to make sure that I am finding plenty of readers to give them away to, yes?
Anyway, I decided to try a little crafty project by using a bit of grosgrain ribbon and some sticky-back magnet strips to make magnetic bookmarks; just connected two minicards with a bit of ribbon and used the sticky side of the magnet to stick the ribbon to the cards. They’re super cute, see?
I’ve never really used promotional items like these before — for a while I was making blue feather necklaces, skull-shaped pirate rings and character-themed perfume oils, but honestly, those were really more for my own fun and need to work on something crafty than they were for real promotional purposes. I think I’m slowly getting better at
shamelessly whoring myself promoting my books in regular conversations with folks, and every now and then I find myself scribbling down the name of my books or my website url on some cocktail napkin for somebody — these cards are a much cuter and more professional way of giving out my information. Not to mention, they’re so cute that it’s actually *tempting* to whip them out in the middle of a completely unrelated conversation just so I can show them off! “Hey, by the way, check these out, aren’t they cool? I write lesbian romance novels, you should look them up sometime!” I’m kind of kicking myself for not having done this ages ago.
Sirens is in just a couple weeks. I’m so excited, seriously… this is going to be SO MUCH FUN. I have a great list of discussion questions in regard to the topic of LGBTQ monsters, so I can’t wait for the round table discussion! Also, I’m finishing up reading books by the three guests of honor, and still contemplating which sessions I’m going to attend during the day in order to work up the ideal conference schedule. ^~ I’m trying to convince my wife to head up there with me as well. She’d be able to run around the mountains hiking or biking or reading or whatever else she wanted to do while I was at the conference during the day, and I think we’d have a really great time together…
- I Moo & You Can Too (theh2obaby.wordpress.com)
- MOO Helps Small Businesses Stand Out During Small Business Week –Online Stationer Announces Business Services Platform (prweb.com)
- Graphic minimalism : MOO cards by designers (moo.com)