five things—libraries, ladyparts, lists

Weekly wrap-up!

1. Reminder! If you’re in the greater New York Metropolitan Area, I’ll be signing at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday from 12-2pm at the Romance Writers of America table. (It’s table #170, which, according to the map, will be toward the north end of the courthouse.) The festival is at the plaza in front of Borough Hall, which is very easily reachable by subway. (Website.)

I thought we could do the rest of this post in the form of Discussion Questions. More people have been commenting lately, so I figured I’d take advantage of my new brave readers and ask your opinions on some things. So…

2. How great are libraries? So great, am I right?

On Monday, I went to the first meeting of a book club that meets at a branch of the New York Public Library. I enjoyed the books and we had a good discussion. I went to check out the books for the next meeting and learned that it’s been so long since I used my NYPL card that I’m no longer in the system.

That made me sad. Mostly I haven’t used the card since I moved to Brooklyn; I live two blocks from the Central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, which is independent of the NYPL, so I got a card there instead.

But it feels like the end of an era. I’ve been carrying around that library card since the summer of 2001, part of which I spent unemployed and aimlessly bumming around New York City. I had very little money, but the library kept me from getting bored and gave me a place to go when I couldn’t think of where else to be.

Libraries are such a great resource for communities, and it breaks my heart that their budgets keep getting cut. Support your local libraries!

3. Would you read it? #2 wasn’t a very good discussion question, because the answer is obvious. (SO GREAT!) So here’s a better one:

You may or may not be aware that the Rainbow Romance Writers conducted a survey of romance readers this past spring. I spent part of August sifting through the data. (It may or may not be available on the RRW website at some point in the future.) One of the things I was curious about was how many readers of m/m read exclusively m/m. My conclusion based on the survey data was “fewer than you’d think.” My suspicion is that a lot of romance readers read some of everything, but everyone thinks that nobody else ever leaves their sub-genre boxes. (For example, my friends list on Goodreads is, I’d say, better than half people who pretty much only read m/m lately, but I was surprised by how many of them had read and positively reviewed the Black Dagger Brotherhood books.) But it’s weird. Like, there was some implied lesbian sex in the first draft of the book I have coming out next year, and my writers group was like, “Dude, why aren’t these girls doing it on the page?” and my response was, “Gay romance readers don’t like girly bits.” I mean, we hold these truths to be self-evident, right? Although, honestly, this baffles me a little, because aren’t a lot of m/m readers possessors of girly bits? (I mean, I’ll read pretty much anything you hand to me, so I’m of no use here.)

But, so, hypothetically, if an m/m writer that you like wrote an m/f book, would you read it? Or, for those writers who dabble in both, do you just read one or the other pairing? Or do you read whatever as long as the writing is good?

The reason I ask is that I’ve got ideas for m/f books. You probably already guessed that. I’m currently developing a series that will be a mix of m/f and m/m and I want to bang out at least one book in the series during NaNoWriMo. But would anyone read it? (I think yes, but I might be crazy.)

I still love m/m, I just want to try different things. Plus, I think the audiences for these are bound to intersect more as m/m gains more mainstream attention.

4. What do you call that? Speaking of girly bits, I have kind of a conundrum.

It has been a VERY long time since I’ve written a sex scene with a woman in it. So I’m having some trouble now. Not so much with the mechanics; as a possessor of lady parts myself, I’m familiar with how these things work. No, I’m struggling with language.

Here’s the problem: I hate the word “pussy.” Hate it! So much! A lot of the words I like are things other people find offensive. Using the anatomical names sounds to dry and clinical. So what do you call it?

I like the way JR Ward writes sex scenes—sorry to keep bringing her up, but I’ve been consuming the BDB series like I’m a competitive eater at a hot-dog-eating contest—and I wonder if she had the same language problem I did. Her scenes are hot without being super explicit, but she never uses “cock” or “pussy.” She does say “erection,” which is kind of the same thing but more health-class-y, and “arousal.” The women have cores. As in, “She felt his arousal push against her core.” I mean, you get what’s going on there, right? I’m not crazy about “core,” either; I think it’s too vague, and it sounds sort of mystical? Like what you’d talk about in yoga class?

Trade secret: I get around this in m/m scenes by using “entrance.” I’m also not so thrilled with that and second-guess it every time I type it, but I don’t like the word “asshole” or “hole” in the context of a love scene. Or sometimes I write around having to use any word at all. “He pushed inside,” for example. You know where.

So I guess I could do something similar in a m/f novel. And, yes, I’m obsessing a little, but this is what I do. Language matters, it colors how readers interpret a scene, goes a long way toward conveying tone and emotion.

What words (if any) do you prefer?

5. Recs? I have a reading wait list that is not to be believed, but other types of entertainment? Fall TV?

What are you liking so far? Is the new season of Glee any good? (I have it on the DVR but haven’t brought myself to watch it yet because the second half of last season was really awful, IMHO.) Do you feel kind of dirty for not completely hating The New Normal? Is that just me? (The show is deeply flawed but has some charming moments.) Why is this season of Project Runway so boring?! (Although, it turns out Fabio’s boyfriend and I have a mutual friend, so I’m gonna try to get some insider scoop. Also, New York City is a small world after all.)

Any shows that haven’t aired yet that you’re looking forward to? Or books that aren’t published yet that you’re lusting after?

6 thoughts on “five things—libraries, ladyparts, lists

  1. Sirius says:

    It was nice meeting you today :-).

    I will just share the answer about ladybits heh. I am not a big m/f romance reader. Has nothing to do though with the reluctance to read m/f sex, nothing at all – more with general unhappiness as to how women were portrayed in many romances. I am accidentally also very unhappy how women are portrayed in a lot of mm books, but overall I am much happier reading there. I did enjoy few romances which I picked up after reading reviews at Dear Author, but really very few.

    However, I am blissfully happy with Kate and Curan for example in Ilona Daniels’ books, so I guess in general I prefer m/f love stories in urban fantasies and that means I really have to start J.R. Ward’s series, had been meaning for a while.

    There was another m/f short story I read couple days ago and cannot shut up about, so happy it made me – Pearl by Kelly Rand, really loved it. M/f and one of the characters is transgender. Looooved it.

    Oh, I definitely know the readers who will not ever read mm story with m/f story in it, period, but I cannot give you any statistics – they are just some of my online buddies, so I doubt it count as any accurate calculations.

  2. kate says:

    It was great to meet you today, too!

    I really liked Pearl, too; that story was really well-done. I recommend the JR Ward books—they’re ridiculous and there are parts that have made me role my eyes, but they are definitely entertaining.

  3. Chris says:

    But, so, hypothetically, if an m/m writer that you like wrote an m/f book, would you read it?

    Nope. Sorry! 🙂

    Part of it the lack of words for ladyparts that don’t make me cringe. And… I just don’t find it sexy, reading m/f anymore.

  4. Sirius says:

    YAY, glad to see that Pearl is getting good word of the mouth – so deserves of it IMO.

    Will eventually check out JR Ward books, thanks.

  5. Madeline Iva says:

    Hey Kate — you and I share such a deep, abiding J.R. Ward obsession. I too, have had a “lady bits” blog about the conundrum of language. We’re obviously on the same wave-length here. Wow. I loved this post.

  6. kate says:

    I just finished a Larissa Ione book that has the same issue with the ladyparts names. (She takes the Ward route and uses “core.”) Guess it’s time to dust off my het erotica books for some new ideas.

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