OutWrite DC – Women Write Gay Erotica (or Romance)


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Custom drawing by Reese Dante. ReeseDante.com

If you’re in the Washington DC area this coming weekend, I strongly encourage you to hit up the¬†OutWrite book festival. It’s not as huge as some of the other LGBT reading events I’ve been to–nothing quite compares to the
Rainbow Book Fair in NYC–but it’s growing every year. This one looks like it’s gonna be interesting and fun. ūüôā

This year I’m intrigued and excited to be a panel member of the¬†Women Write Gay Erotica event¬†(Friday night, August 2nd, 6:30 – be there!). I classify¬†what I write¬†more as romance than erotica (we can debate the differences if you want but that’s really a whole other post), but there are some blurred lines I suppose, and either way I’m always happy to be involved in a conversation about writing the stories I love.

The topic of women who love to write about men who love other men seems to be an ongoing source of fascination in particular. Perhaps because it’s slippery and tough to pin down, because the bottom line is that the reasons we women love to write gay romance (or erotica) are as many and varied as the women who write the subject matter. Multiplied by a factor of the characters we write.

But I’m rambling. Come join us this weekend, if you’re within traveling distance of U-street. It’s gonna be fun. There will be readings. And shenanigans. Plus, I know a really great bar down the street.¬†

This. So Much This.


I know, you’ve probably seen this video by now. I’m always so busy living in a cave that by the time I discover something it’s gone viral and people are all “stop showing it to me already.” But still, it’s beautiful. Honest and raw, and it connects me to a place I’d almost forgotten existed inside of me. That first crush I was afraid to give voice to. We pretty much all have one of those. I always swore I never wanted to write YA, but I have to tell you this video kind of makes me want to try.

Something to put on the list, I suppose.

A few awesome things happened, too


The day of the Sandy Hook School shooting, I fell apart just like a lot of people. I cried, of course, over the shock and the horror of the children who died. For the parents who wouldn’t get to bring their babies home. And also, with the guilty relief that my children were still healthy and safe.

So for me at least, going into this holiday season has been bittersweet and very emotional. I just wanted to take a minute to think about a few good, happy things that I knew had taken place in the world as I knew it, that were worth focusing on. Because we all need the good:

  • OneRepublic is raising money for Sandy Hook: Sometimes the only good thing we can say about a tragedy is that it shows us the best parts of humanity. Rock band OneRepublic started a fundraiser to help the families who need money for funerals, therapy bills, and missed time from work get back on their feet. They also started the fund by kicking in $20,000 of their own money. I decided that instead of rushing around to buy last-minute Xmas gifts this year, I would donate money in honor of each person I hadn’t yet bought a gift for. If you’d like to donate you can do so here.
  • A USMC captain proposed to his partner at the white house. I started following Matthew Phelps on twitter shortly after DADT was repealed, I think someone re-tweeted his triumphant declaration about how he could finally serve openly and I happened to spot it in my timeline. I congratulated him, he said thanks. So I started following his blog, etc… Captain Phelps writes a lot on his personal blog about his personal experiences both serving under DADT and what has happened after, and his stories have been really eye-opening and informative for me as a civilian. The personal experiences he’s shared changed not only gave me a clearer understanding of DADT but gave me a higher degree of respect for those who serve in the military. So even though I never had the chance to meet him personally, the information he shared was important to me personally, and obviously important on a grander scale. I appreciate his hard work and his service, and wish him and his partner a lifetime of happiness.
  • A man celebrates a homeless woman’s birthday with her. People who usually are forgotten enjoy celebrating birthdays too and I’d wager most of never think twice about this sort of thing. The video is in Spanish and mine is rusty but seeing her excitement is still beautiful.
  • The Bridegroom and Fearless Projects both got their funding on KickStarter. The nasty little secret about Kickstarter is that if you set a funding goal and don’t reach it, you don’t get any¬†money. Bummer. So I’m a little biased because I contributed to both projects and helped campaign to raise funds for them, but I am really encouraged that both of these projects got fully funded this year: The Bridegroom project was another hopeful light that came out of tragedy. A young man who lost his partner and plans to tell their story to help further the cause of marriage equality. Fearless is a decade-long photo documentary project about brave “out” LGBT athletes in high school and college. Both of these projects, I hope, will have positive social reach. I believed very strongly in their message and the people trying to accomplish them.
  • Husbands–I’ve been pimping this all over, because it’s funny as hell. And it’s the kind of funny you have to think about for just a second, which I utterly adore. Plus, the funny is now also in comic book form. Times like these, you need a good laugh. I’ve watched and re-watched (and read, and re-read) the husbands videos and comics a multitude of times and it’s never stopped being funny to me. Or making me go “awww.” Not many things you can say that about. You can check out the¬†review I did of the Husbands comics at I Smell Sheep, here.
  • Boxer Falls – Boxer Falls was a joint collaboration thought up by Damon Suede, and coordinated by me, him, Poppy Dennison, and Brita Adams. The idea was to create a serial story set in the gay-friendly Berkshires and have a soap-opera theme that would allow for all sorts of fun and off the wall¬†shenanigans¬†to take place. We had some amazing guest writers from Mary Calmes and Amy Lane to Eden Winters and Ally Blue, Edmond Manning, Jacob Flores and Geoff Knight, Alix Bekins, etc. The list goes on. An amazing roster of guests who took readers on a roller coaster of break-ups, makeups, murders, kidnappings, and even wedding proposals. The interaction with the readers, getting to work side by side with the guest authors, stretching my editing muscles, getting to play with the challenge of working with characters who weren’t “mine…” was all very exciting. There were ups and downs, and sometimes Boxer Falls was a huge challenge, but sometimes it was huge fun, and more than anything I am grateful for the experience.

I could probably make this an even longer post, but I’m gonna end here. It’s Christmas eve and I’m gonna cuddle in bed with a book and be grateful that I can while I dream of Santa bringing me something amazing, like peace on earth, or gay porn.

I hope you have a beautiful holiday.

Love,

Ellis

Fearless Project: Support Out and Proud LGBT Athletes


Photo by Jeff Sheng – FearlessProject.org

I nearly flunked high school gym class. No joke. My mother thought I was incredibly lazy. In truth, I put a great deal of effort into¬†not participating.¬†I was in a lesbian relationship for the first half of high school. I didn’t broadcast, but people knew. I was never seriously hurt, but there were shoves and threats, and that was just walking down the hall. Heaven forbid someone thought I looked at them funny in the locker room or touched them inappropriately while holding their legs for sit-ups or Lord knew what. Gym class made me anxious as hell. Participating in any kind of sport was never even an option as far as I was concerned. I really wanted to be a cheerleader. I convinced myself I wouldn’t have been any good anyway.

So I have a huge amount of respect and awe for any LGBT athlete who comes out at any point in their career, especially in their teen years when there is so much at stake. Kids can be cruel. Parents and teachers sometimes can be, as well.

My admiration extends to Jeff Sheng as well, whose photography work I find so inspirational. He’s done phenomenal photo exhibits covering subject matter like¬†Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell¬†and the fence where Matthew¬†Shepard¬†lay dying. And for roughly the last decade, he’s also been working on a photo collection of hundreds of openly gay athletes which has gotta be as rewarding as it is exhausting. The Fearless Project is something personal for him–he was an athlete in high school, and quit because he thought he couldn’t be a gay in sports.

Even more, however, I really believe that this is a project that can bring an amazing amount of hope and awareness. The string of bullying reports and teen suicides isn’t so far back in our¬†rear-view. The country is at a crossroads. Minds are changing and still more need to be changed, one hopes for the better. These kids, their bravery should be honored.

And the more this work gets out in the world, the more good it can do. I really believe that. Sheng has mostly been footing the bill on his own dime until now, and including the travel to all of the student athletes he visits. He’s got a little over a week to drum up a few grand more to complete the project or he forfeits everything that has been pledged. He’s self-publishing the project because no photography book publisher has been interested in publishing it. This is totally doable. Please help by supporting his Kickstarter project.

The big gay week in review (the big gay books, blog, movies, and soap!)…


(this started out as a short post, I swear) It’s back to school time. I lack organizational skills. I’m running low on Kona coffee. It’s Thursday when I thought it was Friday, yet again. *headdesk*I’ve got 2 books in-progress and another one plotted, and GAH! I don’t know when any of them will be done yet (and ogawd you guys, I so appreciate all of you who keep asking, I swear I’m working on it, I’ll have something for you soon. Hopefully now that the kids are in preschool I’ll have more time to work. I need an assistant. A babysitter. A brain transplant. Moar COFFEE!). *ahems* But hey! It’s all good, because as I look back on the week there have actually been some pretty interesting goings on:

  • Big Gay Blog Week – I participated in “Big Gay Blog Week” over at Lela Gwenn’s Full Frontal Fantasy blog, and wrote an article on why I see romance as a positive thing for the LGBT community.
  • ¬†Big Gay Books¬†Steamroller¬†is out, by Mary Calmes. I love Mary’s books on a lot of levels. The dialogue and the subject matter is always intelligent, there’s (and I admit I’m stealing this description from a¬†friend) a certain witty tartness to her stories, and a perfect balance of sweet and sexy. Some are more emotional, some are darker, but you always can expect a quality story and that’s nice to have in an author. Steamroller was on the light side, and I liked that. A shorter read, about a not so often found scenario wherein a jock has a longstanding crush on a nerdy guy, and when they finally come together it’s like fireworks. I read it in an afternoon at the end of a stressful day, and it was just the thing to take the edge off. Really wonderful, and highly recommended. Also recently released was Four Corners by Kate McMurray which was another very sweet and slightly angsty story about how these four guys used to be buddies and play baseball together, but then one guy took off because he couldn’t quite come to grips with his sexuality. There’s a lot of pain and leftover anger from the friends who were left behind, one of whom has been in love with his buddy since their childhood. Very delightful and worth reading.¬†And Then¬†there was The British Devil by Greg Hogben which is a witty and eye-opening (semi-autobiographical) tale of an international love affair between two men and the many obstacles they face along the way. It’s a very enjoyable and relatable story. God, I just realized it’s a good thing my husband doesn’t read this blog. Uh, no, honey…I didn’t buy any of these books. All loaners, I swear. He DID see the title of the post, and made a point of telling me that I’m really bad at titles. Thanks, honey.
  • Big Gay Movies –¬†Used to be, I would nod and lament along with my fellow authors and romance readers that it was hard to find satisfying ending in gay movies. I felt like so much of it was depressing, angsty, or just downright WTF? And don’t get me wrong, I love angst. I love a good mindfuck! I *know* that being gay/etc can be painful. But give me a hand up after you drop me, so *I* don’t slit my wrists like the movie hero just did, huh? I was thrilled to run across both Private Romeo¬†(gay retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in an all boys military school) and A Marine Story¬†(about a lesbian Marine officer discharged under DADT). I’ve been on a military kick lately, and you can’t have gay military movies without talking either directly or indirectly about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Private Romeo doesn’t address the topic directly. It’s more of a symbolic thing with the setting and whatnot. A Marine Story is much more direct, and gives an example of one of the many potential ways that DADT ¬†impacted lives and careers. Even with the repeal of DADT, I see this subject matter as important. For someone like me who grew up largely in the¬†civilian¬†world (my dad was in the Army but my memory of that is mostly blurry and mostly negative) and who was actually raised with something of an anti-military/ anti-war outlook, it’s hard to understand the impact of DADT. It’s harder still to understand why serving in¬†¬†the military was important for those who had to hide who they were and were treated unfairly. So I’ve become fascinated by the subject, and the more I learn abut the impact of DADT and the lingering effects after its repeal, the more interested I become. ¬†So what was interesting, was that both of these movies did have positive endings. This was cool, because I think that, too, is a big important thing in gay media. I think it’s extremely important that we acknowledge and remember, but just as important that we have hope.
  • Big Gay Soap! – Welcome to Boxer Falls! If you haven’t caught up on the soapy homo romance yet, please come and join us! This past week Geoff Knight shook things up with his episode over at the GoodReads M/M Romance Group! You won’t want to miss it. Tomorrow’s episode is written by Jacob Z Flores, and I enjoyed it so much that I am now chomping at the bit to buy his book(the perk, of course, of being one of the head writers is getting to see the episodes early). I’ve actually discovered a lot of writers I love thanks to Boxer Falls. Next week will be Edmond Manning. I read his book, King Perry, and he’s definitely another really great new voice in the genre. We’ve been so lucky and SO grateful to have so many talented authors participate. Do stop by. ūüôā

In all seriousness… I was staring at his crotch.


Photo from AN HONORABLE GERMAN

I debate a lot with folks about the importance of romance. Romance is not tripe, it’s not wank fodder. Romance is valuable, and serious (yes, sometimes it’s also wank fodder, but one shouldn’t negate the other). Not to mention, it’s the top selling genre of fiction overall particularly since the advent of e-readers. I firmly believe that for all the people who snort and crack wise when I tell them that I write romance novels–gay romance novels–romance fiction has an extremely important place in the world. I know that especially in the field of LGBT fiction, romance with a happy ending is seen as a little too fluffy sometimes. A little too much like a fairy tale.

And I argue that romance is uplifting. It can help raise awareness (many who stumbled upon the genre of gay romance have wound up becoming advocates for marriage equality, etc). Romance can also provide fantasy, escape, and hope. Sometimes love does¬†win the day.¬†It improves readers’ sex lives. Gets them through illnesses. I once had a reader tell me that reading paranormal romances like mine helped get her through the pain and depression of losing a family member. Fairy tale? Maybe so.

Sometimes people need the fairy tale.

And writing romance is tougher than people think. Crafting a well-told story takes time, effort, and knowledge. Writing is not simply typing. Right now, I’m working on a project that’s got me researching my ass off. I love research, but my noodle is so cooked I barely remember my own phone number. F’real.

Today though? Today, I was flipping through inspirational photos. I realized, after I’d been staring at one for awhile, that I’d zeroed in on the guy’s crotch. Yes, well, what can I say? Legitimately, I had been working on a love scene. I had penis on the brain. I’ve been stuck in “serious” mode a lot lately, and truthfully I’ve been more than a little down. I guess my mind was announcing to me loud and clear that it was done with all that for awhile and needed a break.

So, fine. Happy weekend, everyone. Let’s shake off the serious, shall we? I’ve got some awesome novels to dive into. The British Devil from Greg Hogben and the latest from Cameron Dane. And, ohyeah, I dare you not to stare at that guy’s crotch down there.

Oh, almost forgot! If you’re looking for some free smexy fiction, check out Sue Brown’s episode of Boxer Falls on the Goodreads M/M romance group, or Alix Bekins’s Blogwarming serial story.

photo by Eric Lon

Loving Kindness…


Thanks¬†for joining me on the Hop Against Homophobia! Leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered to win a copy of my contemporary short story “Feeling Neighborly” as well as a never before released vampire/werewolf short story called “Under the Full Moon.” Contest open to adult readers 18+ only.

I wrote and re-wrote this post several times. I wrote sad posts and angry posts, posts about religion and politics and personal opinions. I erased it all, because I truly believe that at the bottom line is that anger and fear are destructive and I didn’t want to write a destructive post.

I am many things. Mostly these days I’m an author and a mom. I don’t sleep very much, and I frequent the local Starbucks like they’re gonna put my name on a table. I get stressed. Through all of that my life revolves¬†around¬†love. Falling in love is what I write about. As an at-home parent, teaching, guiding, and loving my kids is what I DO.¬†My job as a parent is to make it so that they can go out into the world someday and be good, kind, functional¬†citizens¬†who don’t need me any more. ¬†My fondest wish is for them to grow up healthy and happy–and that they someday fall in love.

Period. If my boys are lucky enough to find someone who loves and respects them half as much as I, their extremely biased mother, thinks they deserve? I’ll be thrilled, regardless of who that person is, so long as they’re good to my kid.

When they look at me over their chocolate chip waffles in the morning and thank me for taking care of them, I can’t imagine wanting anything else.

I used to do a daily yoga and meditation practice. It’s a little more sporadic these days due to business, but I find when I make it back to the mat that the foundations are still with me. One of the things I learned, was a loving-kindness meditation: The gist is, you start out by offering loving-kindness to yourself, and then to someone you respect, someone you love, someone you feel neutral about…then someone you hate (for more info on this, you can go here). The idea, I think, is to help you keep an open heart. In the face of a thing like homophobia, I admit that can be difficult to do.

So that’s what I want to offer here today, on this International Day Against Homophobia. Loving kindness. To myself, to those of you who are friends, and those I don’t know. To those of you whose minds I hope with all my heart will soon be changed for the better. More than anything, to all the innocent babies, children, and young people out there who will someday need help and support in navigating your way through the confusion and questions you may have about your sexual orientation–I pray you will have the support that you need, and that you will always know you’re perfect just the way you are. That you deserve love and respect.

Love is love. It’s something everyone deserves.

(There are over 250 authors and bloggers participating today in the hop against homophobia, lots of really good thoughts on the subject and lots of prizes being given away. You can find the full list, here. Also, for a chance to win my latest vampire novella, Immortal Valentine, or another chance to win the free vampire/shifter short story, check out the HAH post over at Books Make Me Happy.)