to the mainstream!

Josh Lanyon has a post up at Jessewave on the mainstreaming of m/m. I started to comment there but then realized I was being crazy long-winded, so I decided to start a new post.

My take is this: 2013 promises to be a banner year for LGBT romance, and the book everyone is talking about is J.R. Ward’s Lover at Last. Here are some thoughts:

Confessions of a Shameless Romance Reader

13570854If you’ve been reading my Friday wrap-up posts, you know I read the entire Black Dagger Brotherhood series last fall. It has some flaws and Ward has some writing tics I wish an editor would disabuse her of, but generally, I find the series engrossing and entertaining and there’s been so much build up in the Qhuinn/Blay relationship that I cannot wait to get my grubby paws on Lover at Last. (Confession: though the series has been on my radar for a long time because so many people whose tastes I usually agree with really love it, my real incentive for finally reading it was the Qhuay book announcement. And I’m enough of a series completist that if there was going to be a huge m/m release late in a series, I better read the whole series.)

In addition to Ward, Lanyon name checks Suzanne Brockmann. Now, I’m a huge fan of Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. The Jules/Robin arc was one of the first (if not the first) m/m plot I ever encountered. That was part of what inspired me to start writing m/m in fact; I loved it so much that I wanted to see more books like those.

It’s All About the Series

Best book in the series, as far as I'm concerned, and there's some great Jules/Robin stuff.

Best book in the series, as far as I’m concerned, with plenty of Robin/Jules.

Brockmann hasn’t been reviewed that well on m/m blogs and I wonder if that’s due in part to reviewers reading the Jules/Robin arc in isolation. I know there are a significant number of m/m readers who will not read m/f and so might not have been as interested in the rest of the series, but to me, the moment when Jules and Robin finally get together is many books in the making. Jules first showed up in, I think, the second book, and his friendship with Sam is one of my favorite recurring elements in the series; that’s something you kind of miss out on if you only read All Through The Night, for example. (I will confess to be an unabashed Brockmann fan. I love the Troubleshooters series. I’m kind of sad it’s pretty much over.)

I think Lover At Last could have the same problem for readers who have been m/m-only for a while. The book falls so late in the series that if this is the only book you read, I can’t imagine it would have the same pay-off as it would have if you’d experienced all of the Qhuay-related angst that preceded it.

The one thing these authors, and Lori Foster who Lanyon also mentions, have in common is that they introduced m/m storylines to existing series. I wonder if that makes the stories more palatable to those who wouldn’t pick up a m/m book otherwise? Readers are already hooked. I don’t know how the new Ward book will play out, but the Brockmann books interlace the Jules/Robin storyline with those of other characters, so there are other series arcs going on at the same time. If a reader weren’t invested in Jules/Robin, s/he might keep reading to find out about Max or Decker or Cosmo or whoever. (And sometimes, the books are what fans are asking for. Apparently Foster’s fans wanted an HEA for a character. I suspect some of the clamoring for Qhuay comes from ward denying us Butch/Vishous (EVEN THOUGH THEY TOTALLY BELONG TOGETHER, but whatever). And the publisher was originally going to relegate Qhuay to a novella, but Ward/fans insisted otherwise.)

I’m pretty certain that Lover at Last will sell gazillions of copies, but would a standalone m/m book be as successful?

Sexy Times

Briefly, I just want to touch on sex. When I met her last year, Brockmann said she wanted to include more explicit m/m scenes in the Troubleshooters books but was stymied by her publisher. (There are more explicit scenes in her more recent stuff: the m/m shorts and with the m/m couple in Born to Darkness.) Ward has said there will be a long Qhuay scene, though. I personally don’t care if sex is included or not—I like sex scenes, but I skim them a lot, too. I think authors should do whatever seems appropriate for their stories. But what IS irksome is when m/f pairings get on-the-page love scenes but the m/m pairing in the same book/series get faded to black. I think Lanyon is right in his post; if a writer is uncomfortable or just in it for the money, it’ll show in the writing.


I think two things will happen by the end of 2013. We’ll see a few mainstream romance authors write m/m (or other LGBT romance) and we’ll see a few established m/m (or other LGBT) writers get picked up by “mainstream” publishers. (Examples: Katie Porter is the writing team of Lorelie Brown and Carrie Lofty, both established m/f writers. They wrote a couple of m/m holiday stories that were well-received. ZA Maxfield has a book deal with Berkley.)

There’s already momentum building for m/m. Rainbow Romance Writers did a survey last year, and one of the takeaways was that a significant number of readers discovered m/m via a mainstream writer like Brockmann or Ward. It’s the most popular genre at All Romance eBooks. LGBT romance has been reviewed in RT since last summer. It’s been a hot topic of conversation at every romance convention I’ve been to in the last year. That will continue and Lover at Last will certainly keep the conversation going.

This is good news. I believe LGBT romance deserves to reach a wider audience. Certainly, the LGBT romance world has writers who deserve wider recognition and more accolades, who should be on the same shelves as the best m/f romance writers.

As the future president of the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter of RWA, helping to usher LGBT romance (the whole rainbow, not just m/m) is a big part of my agenda. As writers, we want to be respected and taken seriously.

But the bad news? Could m/m be the new Twilight knock off? Will the market be flooded by fly-by-night authors and publishers looking to capitalize on a trend and make money without necessarily putting out a quality product? Will there be a glut of terrible books? How can we ensure that the good books in an already flooded market get recognition?

Probably all these things will happen.

The Big Question

Personally, I’m a reader of all kinds of romances, and I’ve been spending more time in outside of m/m-exclusive spaces. Part of this is due in part to my involvement with RWA and going to romance-related events and conventions that are open to everyone. I’ve been greeted with nothing but enthusiasm for the last few months. It’s been really great!

But I always, always get asked, “Why m/m?”

And I get that. I understand why people are curious. But it gets harder to answer that question every time I’m asked it.

I’m not sure why. It’s a lot of reasons. It’s no specific reason. I love romance as a genre and have been reading and writing it for years. The why is easy. Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved love stories. I like reading about relationships. I like the reassurance most romances provide that things will end well. Why gay romance? That’s harder to answer. Part of it was that I read a few gay romances that I really loved back when the books were few and far between, and I wanted more so I wrote one for myself. I wasn’t really expecting all of my subsequent stories to also feature gay characters. That’s just sort of where my muse has pointed me, though. (I’ve always kept my bio a little vague. I’m not an m/m romance writer, I’m a romance writer period. All of my published books just happen to me m/m. I’ve written other kinds of pairings but haven’t tried to get any of those books published; maybe I will or maybe I’ll stick to m/m. I’m not sure what will happen. I like to have options.)

This may seem neither here nor there, but I think we’re going to start seeing this question a lot more. Why do you read that? Why do you write it?

I’m scheduled to attend RT and RWA Nationals this year, and I’m expecting all of this to be much discussed. I’m not really sure what the future holds, but I look forward to it!

Miss Mary Sunshine

I’m generally an upbeat, positive person. Glass half-full and all that. I get angry and upset and have strong opinions about things, but at the end of the day, I try to see the bright side, the silver lining, try to end the day with a smile. So sometimes I think about commenting on whatever controversies are wending their ways through the Internet, but usually opt not to, both because I’d rather not wade into it and because I’d rather see the happier side of things.

I had the flu last week. I think I got hit with “con crud” from a weekend spent in close quarters with a lot of people plus my body sort of just shut down after a long period of stress and not enough sleep. I didn’t get out of bed for two days, for some taste of the severity of it. I consequently literally slept through all of last week’s Internet kerfuffles, and I think I’m probably better for it. Whenever some fight breaks out in the m/m community, I always feel disheartened and upset, mostly because the Mary Sunshine part of my personality asserts itself and says, “Stop fighting! We’re much better together!”

So, positive things! I got to meet Suzanne Brockmann this past weekend. I’ll just say it: she’s one of my idols. I love the Troubleshooters series; so much of it just works for me: her voice, the tightly-wove suspense, the complex plots, the interesting cast, the willingness to wade into political issues. (Also, my friends can tell you all about my fascination with sailors. Fleet Week is like Christmas for me. You put a hot guy in a crisp white uniform and… hello.) I think Brockmann is actually sort of inadvertently responsible for my getting into this biz at all; I read Hot Target shortly before I discovered m/m proper and was so excited to read about gay characters that I wanted more books with them and started writing my own.

At the time, I don’t think I really appreciated how revolutionary putting a gay pairing in a mainstream romance series was as an act. I was too busy enjoying the books on their own merits—the way that Jules and Robin’s arc is drawn out over several books is delicious, and when they finally get their HEA, you want to scream in triumph, it’s so good. (Not to gush, but…)

Anyway! Brockmann (or “Suz,” she told me I could call her Suz) was at a bookstore on Saturday, so I shored myself up with cold meds and went to see her. I was, needless to say, very excited. Happily, Suz is fun and friendly and enthusiastic in person. And we got to chat some about the Rainbow Romance Writers (of which we are both members) and gay romance and gay rights and so on.

We talked some about gay romance going mainstream. Suz is the author of a couple of m/m shorts that take place in the Troubleshooters universe, plus there’s the whole Robin/Jules arc in the books, and her new series, while primarily a het series, has a gay subplot. (I may have more to say to that later; I’m about 100 pages into Born to Darkness.) But that’s one of the things that Rainbow Romance Writers is doing—we want to take gay romance mainstream. We want it to be commercially available to everyone, we want to reach readers who don’t know m/m romance is a thing, we want to see our books in bookstores alongside all of the other romance on the shelves.

I think it’s an exciting time to be a writer in that way, because I feel like we’re really on the verge of something, of breaking through in a bigger way.

So it’s exciting to me that Suzanne Brockmann has a m/m ebook short coming out this summer. (I just read the story last night, actually, because I got a print copy on Saturday. It’s a Jules/Robin story that may or may not make sense without the context of the series, but it’s a really sweet addition to their story. And When Tony Met Adam came out a year ago, of course. That’s more of a standalone because Tony and Adam are relatively minor characters in the larger Troubleshooters universe.) She pointed out that the book will be published by Random House, which is kind of a Big Deal.

I believe this is important, not just from a sales POV, but because I’ve heard from readers who are excited to see gay lives portrayed positively and with happy endings in fiction, and, you know, love is love. It deserves a place in bookstores just as surely as het romances do.

I saw Suz again on Monday at Lady Jane’s Salon (that NYC’s romance reading series). There was a huge crowd, and, I would say, some enthusiasm for the m/m pairings in Suz’s books. So that’s a great thing to see. (The other readers on Monday were also so much fun that I bought their books as well. Everybody wins!)

So there’s your look-to-the-future, happy optimistic moment for the day!

Also! Be sure to check out this week’s Beat Your Winter Blues, in which I and some other authors talk about our favorite winter movies.

RWA and discrimination

If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a lot of discussion happening right now about Romance Writers Ink, a Tulsa-based chapter of RWA, which runs a contest called More than Magic. Among the guidelines for the contest is one disturbing note: “Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.” (Here are the rules.) This, despite the fact that an LGBT book (More by Sloan Parker) won first place in the First Book category last year.

Heidi Cullinan’s post on the issue is great and you should read it: RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination.

I joined RWA about a year ago. I know some of the members of my local chapter through my participation in National Novel Writing Month and they’d been bugging me to join for a long time. I’ll be honest; it wasn’t clear to me at first what my dues money was going to. I wound up not being able to attend most of last year’s convention, even though it was right here in New York last year, but I thought, if anything, it was a way to connect to other romance writers. The New York City chapter has been very supportive of me when I ask for it, and I’ve written articles for their newsletter and guest posts on their blog. One thing I like about them is that they are totally open to all kinds of romance writers: erotica, LGBT, Christian, contemporary, paranormal, you name it, it’s all represented.

At the beginning of this year, I joined Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance special interest chapter of RWA. I feel like I’ve found my people. This is such a fantastic group of writers. They’ve been a real force behind making it known that RWA’s wishy-washy response to discrimination is unacceptable and spreading the word about the situation. One of the missions of the chapter is to bring more attention to LGBT romance and advocate for it. “Take it mainstream,” is how Damon Suede put it when we had dinner together last fall. These are writers who take their craft seriously, who care about the genre, who want to put out good books. (Writers, please consider joining! It’s a great group!)

On a personal note, it’s been an interesting journey into the land of romance writing. I held off on joining RWA because, when I first found out about it, I was still writing overwrought “literary” fiction, which is what too many creative writing classes will do to you, I guess. But then, maybe five years ago, I listened to an episode of This American Life about RWA, and that somehow was the push I needed to give romance writing a try (or to admit that most of what I was writing was pretty much romance anyway). It took me a while to accept that romance was my calling (and I’ve loved genre fiction, romance and mysteries especially, since I was a kid, so I don’t know why I held out so long). And I love m/m, I still really enjoy writing (and reading!) it, so there’s that, too. It’s been a real joy for me to connect with other writers and readers over the last year, because I love to talk about books and writing and I WILL talk at length if you let me.

So it’s a shame that RWA, which has the potential to do so much good for a genre that—let’s face it—is often maligned, can’t see the forest for the trees.

Edited to add: Best course of action for now seems to be to email RWA National to let them know we won’t tolerate discrimination, and also to spread the word. Maybe a critical mass of people will persuade RWA to change their policy. See also Kari Gregg.

meeting other writers

I’m not able to attend the RWA national convention, which is going on right now here in New York, but I was able to go to the big author signing event last night, at which more than a hundred authors signed books to raise money for libraries and literacy programs. What a great event! I was maybe a little overwhelmed and a lot starstruck, as there were so many writers I admire all gathered in one place, and I’ve never really been to a convention before, at least not one on this scale.

I went primarily as a reader, and I got a few books signed and talked to a pretty wide range of writers. The one big deal for me was that I got to talk for a while with Suzanne Brockmann, who is among my favorite writers and kind of an idol, and I handed her my hardcover copy of All Through the Night and we talked a little about the marriage equality bill passing in New York, and she was really great. (My friend A was with me and kept whispering, “Tell her your a writer, too!” but I got a little nervous.)

I also sought out some other m/m writers, and got to talk to K.A. Mitchell, who was kind enough to offer advice, and L.B. Gregg, who was a lot of fun to talk to. I met a local romance blogger while waiting on line to get in. And I exchanged cards with a handful of people, so if you found your way to my website that way, welcome!

One of the things that really impresses me is that every time I meet more writers—romance writers generally and m/m writers specifically—I’m pleasantly surprised by how friendly and supportive everyone is. This is such a great community of writers and I’m really happy to be a part of it.

I also see why people love these conventions. There’s such a wonderful, positive energy there. I really wish I was able to attend the rest of RWA, but I guess there will be more conventions in the future! (And this is making me all the more excited for GayRomLit in October!)

newsy things

I hear there’s a little story about m/m romance in the latest Rolling Stone, but the newsstand I dropped by this evening was all out of copies. Hmph.

In Hot Pursuit got a nice little shout out in today’s All Romance eBooks’ Wildfire newsletter, so that was pretty cool.

I’m gearing up to participate in this month’s National Novel Writing Month and I have what I think is a fairly awesome idea. It’s historical fiction (and m/m romance, of course), which can be tricky when you have to write in a hurry, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m researching now, so hopefully I’ll have what I need by the end of the month.

Oh, and also Kindling Fire with Snow is coming out in two weeks, and when that’s done, I’ve got another novel coming out from Loose Id (although that’s a couple of months away still).

m/m writers in the news

Did you guys see the article about Alex Beecroft and Erastes in Out?

I’ve enjoyed both Beecroft’s and Erastes’s writing. The article has some interesting bits. I liked this exchange:

“It isn’t all about the porn,” Beecroft laments.

“I don’t believe you,” I say.

“I know. People don’t, and it’s such an annoyance. Do you think a 300-page book that’s got three sex scenes in it is all about the sex?”

Erastes concurs. “I think people automatically think gay equals sex. That would be like saying heterosexual equals sex, and that is a very unfair thing to say.”

Both agree that the first kiss in their books is “almost more intimate than sex.”

I know that for me as a reader, I like the sexy times, but a novel is not held together by sexy times alone; it needs a good story. I always think about story first when I’m writing. I feel pretty strongly that the sex scenes should serve the story in some way. So I agree with Beecroft and Erastes on that level.

The discussion of gender identity was pretty interesting, too; I leave it to you to read and think about. (I have Opinions, but I don’t want to shove my foot in my mouth too far. I totally respect Beecroft and Erastes, but I’m coming at the genre from a different place.) I do like this conclusion: “M/M fans already know (and the rest of the world must catch up eventually) that love abhors all limitations, and gender is among the least of these.”

state of the kate

I called out sick from work today. I feel okay saying this on the internets because I am actually sick. The funny thing about sick days when you are actually sick is that, right after you get off the phone with your boss, you think, “Awesome, I’ve got this whole day off in front of me.” But then you realize you are actually sick and can’t do anything. I, for example, fell asleep in the middle of reading a book and lost the whole afternoon. I was thinking I’d get in some cold-medicine-fueled writing, but no. (Don’t pity me too much, though; I’m feeling a lot better now. And there are worse things than spending a day curled up in bed with a down quilt, a cat, and a Kindle.)

I’ve been reading a lot the last couple of days. I haven’t been reading much lately, mostly because of lack of time, but it turns out my shopping vice of late is ebooks, because I’ve bought, like, 15 of them in the last few weeks.

Here’s what I’ve read since I’ve been sick: After eying it for a couple of weeks, I finally broke down and read The Dark Tide. I knew the book would be good, and it was. I just couldn’t face the end of the Adrien English series. I guess I got a little sentimental. I mean, the series is fantastic, but also, Fatal Shadows has the distinction of being the first ebook I ever bought (and I think also the first m/m romance I ever read, although I’d read plenty of things with gay characters before). And it was a good intro to Loose Id, which, hey, is publishing my book in two weeks.

I also read LA Heat, a pretty solid procedural crime novel featuring a closeted cop who falls for the suspect in his murder investigation. It’s heavy on the police minutiae, but we’ve already talked about that, so you know it’s cool with me. And I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned page turner.

I’ve got a murder-mystery work-in-progress that I plan (hope) to finish this month, and all this cop stuff is making me want to get back to it. I’ve been working on this one for the last few months; I know whodunnit but can’t figure out how the characters figure it out, so I’ve been dragging my feet on the ending. It’s lighter in tone than In Hot Pursuit, though it has a higher body count. And I like these characters a lot, which makes it a joy to work on for the most part, except for the ending. (You appreciate mystery writers more when you try to write a mystery.) The one drawback is that one of the characters is a mystery writer, and after I was 20,000 words into the first draft, I had a conversation with a few members of my writers group who were all, “I hate characters who are writers.” Whoops! I’ll tell you, this character is not too prone to discussing his Craft. He’s more a pop writer, more opportunistic and arrogant than flighty and artistic. Plus, I thought it was funny to have a character who writes gritty crime novels with lots of gruesome details who then loses his shit when confronted with the real thing. It’s possible I have a warped sense of humor.

It occurred to me that my book comes out two days after Valentine’s Day, and it’s a romance, so there should be some celebrating? Stay tuned.

if you’re not doing anything Sunday…

…I will be here:

Sunday, January 31st is the first Gay Day of 2010 at Ethan Day’s Yahoo Group. Gay Day is the one day a month when the best authors in GLBT Romance stop by to post excerpts of their new and upcoming releases.

The following authors will be generously offering giveaways you can enter to win:

Z.A. Maxfield – Family Unit
AKM Miles – Too Keen
P.A. Brown – L.A. Boneyard
Lex Valentine – Fire Season
Clare London – Upwardly Mobile
Willa Okati – Lovers, Dreamers & Me
A.J. Llewellyn – A Promo pack including a print copy of Phantom Lover
Simone Anderson – Finding Love & Knights of Pleasure
Amanda Young – Readers Choice from her Back-List
Charlie Cochrane – a Goodie Bag of Promotional Items
Devon Rhodes – Gaymes Anthology including Rough Rider
Nix Winter – Timeless
Stephani Hecht – Bound by Blood
Jambrea Jo Jones is offering up one copy from her backlist which includes Heart Song & Runaway Man

The amazing Authors below will be popping in and out to chat & post excerpts from their latest books:

Carol Lynne – Resolution & Through the Montana Mist
Lynn Lorenz – Baymore’s Heir
Trina Lane – SEALing Fate
A.J. Llewellyn – Wanted
Jeanne Barrack – The Sweet Flag
S.J. Frost – No Fear
Lex Valentine – Christmas Catch
Charlie Cochrane – Lessons in Temptation
TC Blue – A Game of Chances Coming February 22, 2010
Willa Okati – And Call Me in the Morning
Adrianne Brennan – My Big Fat Greek Pagan Lesbian Wedding
Kate McMurray – In Hot Pursuit Coming February 16, 2010 from Loose Id
Jaime Samms – Muse’s Vacation

The day will begin from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST in the Ethan Day Yahoo Group where we’ll be posting excerpts, running contests for free books, and chatting about all the new and upcoming releases from your favorite authors.

From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. CST we’ll be hosting another LIVE Chat which is pretty much a free for all, anything-goes-chat that’ll inevitably have you uttering the phrase, “What the f**k?” : )
***You will need to have Downloaded Skype in order to take part in the Live Chat.***
Once you’ve downloaded the FREE software, simply add Ethan as a contact: ethandayonline — and he’ll be able to add you to the chat room!

That’s right! Sneak peak of the novel! I’m excited! I’ve popped into Gay Day a couple of times, and it’s crazy but fun.

man oh man

There’s an article in LA Weekly about gay romance. Mostly, it’s cool that attention is being paid to the genre. But comments, I has them.

She uses the pen name “James Buchanan” because in the niche of the gay-romance novel, publishers see male writers as more authentic and, more importantly, so do readers.

I wonder about this. There’s probably some truth to it. I’ve read one of James Buchanan’s books (Hard Falling, which I quite enjoyed) and didn’t know she was a woman until I read the About the Author at the end. The statement, though, ignores excellent female writers of m/m romance with female names like Clare London and Laura Baumbach, to name a few. When I started pursuing publication, I gave the pen name thing a lot of thought. I came down on the side of having an obviously female name, I guess because I figured my readers would know they were getting a romance written by a woman. Whether there’s a difference between m/m penned by men or penned by women is up for debate. (And the article continues: “It’s an entirely hollow gesture to the genre’s growing number of fans. They know Buchanan is a woman, just as they know that most gay-romance novels are written by women like her.”)

In many ways the growing popularity of gay romance represents nothing less than a tectonic shift in a culture that says women don’t (and shouldn’t) consume porn. Hot and steamy gay-romance literature is to women what Internet porn is to men: They get off on it, mostly in secret, and keep coming back for more.

This is also true to a point, but bothersome. I hate the “romance novels are porn for women” meme in discussions of the genre, because it’s not really true. It’s certainly not why I read romance novels. I personally am a sucker for a good love story, but also, there’s a lot of interesting, subversive stuff happening now, especially out of small and ebook-only presses, and saying “romance is porn” undermines a lot of it. Not that there aren’t a lot of smutty books coming out, too.

But, example: Sean Kennedy’s novel Tigers and Devils was nominated for an ebook award in the erotica category. The book is excellent and definitely worthy of all the award nominations you want to pile on it, but there’s no on-the-page sex at all. To me, a book with no explicit sex scenes is not erotica. But both people engaging in the off-the-page sex are male, so… must be erotica?

Although, to be fair, the article discusses some other reasons why women are devouring gay romance. Some theories are reasons I’d agree with. There’s the obvious: straight women like to watch men make out with each other the same way straight men like to watch women get it on. There’s the less obvious and, to me, more compelling: gay romance is romance with the gender politics removed. The protagonists are on equal footing.

Or, you know, porn for women. *eyeroll*

For UCLA psychologist Paul Abramson, author of the forthcoming Sex Appeal: Six Ethical Principles for the 21st Century, pornography is to male psychology what romance fiction is to female psychology. These books are “the story of a heroine overcoming all these obstacles to unite with a hero,” he says. “That is what pushes these male-male romance stories. If you make it two males, they still embody female psychology. There’s still the quest for romance, love and intense emotional feelings.”

The male characters in gay romances, then, are perhaps men only superficially. At heart they’re women. They may look like boys, and make love with male bodies, but they think and act and love like girls.

I disagree. There was some discussion of this in the comments of this Jessewave post. I’ve written here that one of my goals is to make male characters read authentically male. I think the best writers in the genre (some of whom are male) accomplish this.

The article also has interviews with some big names in the genre, like Jet Mykles and AM Riley, but mostly they talk about spicy sex scenes.

I don’t know. Above all, I want to tell a good story. The tricky thing with romance is that traditional romance is so full of gender essentialism and, dare I say it, sexism. One of the things that I’ve really loved about exploring romance via the big e-publishers is that these smaller houses are more willing to take chances on novels that are unusual and different. I view the sexy parts as gravy.