Posts Tagged ‘gay romance’

Hard to imagine, I know, that it’s two years since my first publication – On My Knees. I’ve come a long way since then and to celebrate I’ve reworked the story and re-released it – with British spellings, too. This time round it’s available exclusively through Amazon so that readers who are members of Prime can borrow it for free. Links are below, along with an excerpt and new blurb. It’s also at a reduced price if you feel like buying it – and if you do, you can always send me a request on Authorgraph for a signature.

Get a free Authorgraph from Tristram La Roche

Thank, you everyone. I hope you enjoy it!


(PS: I’m also chatting to Kiran Hunter – you can join us here )

The All New On My Knees

The All New On My Knees


Mark’s life is in turmoil. Held together by alcohol and antidepressants, he ducks and dives through the war zone his marriage has become, and watches helplessly as his business spirals down the plug hole. After yet another blazing row with his wife he escapes to the gym, intending to work off steam – and the effects of too much wine – but a tall and very handsome stranger catches Mark’s eye.  Feeling uncomfortable and weird, and in no hurry to return home, Mark agrees to a pint in the nearby pub. Before the night is out, Mark finally understands that he isn’t weird – he’s gay – and a new world opens up for him.

(Novella circa 25,500 words. Contains explicit gay sex scenes /group scenes)


Chapter One

London, May 9


“For Christ’s sake, Diana, will you stop your fucking nagging for once?”

I’d barely got through the door before the usual evening bust-up flared. All because I’d stopped by the wine bar on the way to the tube station for a few drinks. Just a foursome: Alex, the guy I shared an office with, and a couple of his mates who’d come up to town for a night in the West End. And me, of course. In any case, I’d long ago lost any eagerness to get home early. I used to count the minutes to home time then rush off to catch the train and get back to my wife. Things change. If we didn’t argue about one thing it was another, and since the row came guaranteed whatever I did, I’d started taking the view that I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Jesus! That’s something I picked up from her – talking in clichés.

“You’re drinking too much.” Diana funnelled the words through pursed lips and frowned. “How much have you spent? Eh? Show me the bill.” She hurtled towards me and tried to dig my wallet from my jacket pocket.

“Get off,” I said, wrapping my arms around my body. Four grown men after work could drink a lot more than she would ever forgive. “You treat me like a child.”

“You behave like a child.” The neighbours would be able to hear her raised voice and I told her so. She craned forwards into a posture that would have been threatening if only she’d been nine inches taller. “You’re just…just…”

And I hated that, too. She did it all the time, start a sentence and leave it dangling in the air. “Just what?”

“You know very well. I didn’t marry an alcoholic,” she said, clenching and unclenching her fists by her side.

Alcoholic? I was not and never have been an alcoholic. A drunk, yes, but that’s different. “And I didn’t marry a nagging bitch.” Oh, I regretted it instantly. I threw my hands up in a gesture of peace. “Sorry, sorry. Please can we try to have a normal conversation?” She grabbed a knife off the kitchen work top and lashed out. I leaped back just in time. “You’re mad. Like your mother. You’re unhinged.” I struggled to hide the fear. For a little person she packed a punch when she wanted.

She lunged at me again, her unruly hair falling across her face. “Well, if I am, it’s you that’s driven me to it.” She missed. The knife flashed by my side and I brought my hand down on her arm, knocking the blade to the floor. She squeezed her wrist with her left hand and cursed.

“I’m sorry,” I said, reaching out to her. The love had gone but I had no wish to hurt her. “Here, let me look.” I took her hand but she snatched it away.

“Don’t you dare touch me.” She stamped on the floor and turned her back on me.

I couldn’t win. I knew it from previous experience. The best thing I could do was put space between us. I took my chance and bolted out of the kitchen door. We lived on the top two floors of a Victorian house in a duplex we’d bought together. From the central landing a dog leg stair led to the ground floor. As I rounded the turn in the stairs I heard her coming from the kitchen. I should have left it at that and just scarpered – but I didn’t. By then my blood boiled with anger so I shouted over my shoulder. “Well, if I am an alcoholic, you’ve driven me to it.”

“Oh, really? And where do you think you are going?”


“That’s just typical of you. Come back here and deal with it.”

But I had no intention of going back. Not then. I turned the key in the lock and pushed open the door into the shared hallway.

“You bastard!”

A stabbing pain shot through my shoulder. I toppled but managed to stay upright as a heavy dictionary fell to the floor with a thud. From above she hurled books down the stairwell, swiping them off the shelves to judge from the avalanche. I nipped across the hall and ran into the street, slamming the outer door behind me.

Even in the street I heard the thunder of her hooves coming down the stairs. I got into the car as fast as I could and locked the doors. I started the engine but didn’t manage to make my getaway before she appeared in the street, fists thrashing the air. She grabbed the driver’s door handle just as I accelerated. I didn’t look at her. I eased the car out of the space, hoping she would let go. Half-hoping that the wheel would crush her foot.

“Come back! Come back now!” She beat her fists on the window and I feared it might smash.

Clearly, she had no intention of letting up so I hit the accelerator. She leaped back out of the way as the engine purred and the car turned. As I went down the hill, I could see her in the mirror, standing in the middle of the road with her hands on her hips, shaking her head. Well, at least she was unhurt.

But then I faced another problem. Where to go? All of our friends lived on the other side of town and, considering I’d been drinking, I didn’t dare drive far. All I needed was to lose my licence and I’d be well and truly fucked. Then I remembered that my gym bag was in the boot. The gym was no more than a mile away, and the exercise would help my system break down the alcohol.

And work off the misery of another day in hell.

Remember the Halloween Heat series from Etopia Press? You should, my short MM paranormal, Love Lies Deep, is in Halloween Heat I. Well, as Halloween approaches so this collection of books rises. Just look at the bestseller anthology list on Bookstrand:

1. Halloween Heat I (for the fourth day running!)

3. Halloween Heat V

5. Halloween Heat III

6. Halloween Heat IV

7. Halloween Heat VI

These are all great reads for Halloween (duh!) so if you haven’t started buying them you know what to do! Here’s  a little helping hand to get you on the way…


All Romance eBooks


Barnes and Noble

Welcome to the Halloween Heat author blog hop. I and my fellow contributors in Halloween Heat I are joined by Tara Lain from Halloween Heat IV to offer you the chance to win prizes. I’m offering one lucky reader the choice of one eBook from my Etopia Press list: On My Knees, Fixed or The Hun and the General. All you need do is  leave a comment below  (and remember to include your email) and follow my blog. Once the blog hop closes (Sunday 14th October) I will pick a winner at random and contact you to see which book you would like to have.

Halloween Heat I
An Anthology of Erotic Paranormal M/M Romance

(last time I looked, Halloween Heat I was no2 in the All Romance eBooks anthologies)

Click to Buy From Amazon

Five stories of gay love and passion with a paranormal twist, perfect for Halloween.

“Love Lies Deep” by Tristram La Roche
“Idle Hands” by Reneé George
“Costumes” by Dianne Hartsock
“Eden” by Kiran Hunter
“Set in Stone” by Elin Gregory

Love Lies Deep by Tristram La Roche


When a careless driver shattered Josh’s life one Halloween by ploughing into his lover, Josh found himself  living all alone in the village that had been their temporary home. He’d never liked the countryside, but stayed willingly for Sam while he wrote a novel about the area. Despite Josh’s love of the city, his love for Sam was stronger and he knew he could never move away from his lover’s resting place. Now, every day Josh visits the grave and feels Sam’s presence, but on Halloween, the anniversary of the tragedy, his visit unleashes their passion and lust as if nothing has changed.

Here’s an excerpt:

Josh handed out bars of chocolate and some toffee things that reminded him of dog chews, and waved to the kids as they ran off into the night. As he closed the door he heard another firework explode and decided it was time to be sociable. He put on his heavy boots, shucked on his quilted jacket, and grabbed the flashlight from the table in the hall. Finally, he took the carefully wrapped flowers he’d bought on the way home.

Once he’d left the glow of the outside light behind him, he noticed that the clouds had cleared completely to leave a deep purple sky, the stars shining like polished silver studs. He hoped it would last. While the rain didn’t spoil his enjoyment, good weather would certainly heighten it. As he approached the village green, the telltale crackling told him the fire had already been lit. The tops of the trees, almost bare now, clawed at the sky like crooked, orange fingers in the flames’ light. Children drew shapes in the air with sparklers, mothers fussed with coats and hats, fathers busied themselves with fireworks and the beer stall.

“Josh!” A dark figure loomed out of Josh’s peripheral vision. “Just in time for the fun.”

“Hi, Ben,” said Josh, slapping the young priest playfully on the shoulder. As things had turned out, it had been a godsend having a gay priest in the village, though no one knew apart from Josh and Sam, of course. Josh couldn’t understand how Ben could want to be a Catholic priest, but Ben simply said that he had his own beliefs and Rome was fifteen hundred miles away.

Ben took something from his pocket and, linking arms with Josh, slipped the object into his friend’s coat pocket. “Better let you have that before I forget.”

“Thanks. I’ll get it back to you before morning.”

“I know. Don’t worry about that. Just enjoy yourself, okay?” Ben winked and tapped the side of his nose. “Halloween comes but once a year.”

Now, leave your comment and then you can visit all the other authors by clicking the links in the table below (thanks, Elin, for the clever box!).

Dianne Hartsock Costumes
Kiran Hunter Eden
Renee George Idle Hands
Tara Lain Trex or Treat
Tristram La Roche Love Lies Deep
Elin Gregory Set in Stone

Fellow British author and Etopian Steve Emmett  tagged me in this little writer’s game. The instructions are:

Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript

Go to line 7

Post on your blog the next 7 lines or sentences exactly as they are (no cheating)

Tag 7 other authors to do the same


Um…I don’t have a work in progress, Steve! So I’ll do the 7th page, 7th line thing from my last publication, The Hun and The General and just hope that’s ok with you all:

He swam the length of the pool and reclined on the semi-circular steps, looking out beyond the curved colonnade of porphyry columns, across the undulating fields of crops, vines, and orchards, to the hills that rose like a blade to scratch the skies. He longed to leave this place and cross that distant ridge, to return to his homeland and feel the buzz of life again.

Livianus snapped his fingers, and a male slave appeared at the top of the steps to wrap a toga around him as he emerged from the water. The heat overpowered him immediately, and he sat down on a seat of carved stone. “Bring me wine, Publius.”

And now to pass on the baton:

Tara Lain

Rupert Smith


Dianne Hartsock

Brien Michaels

Erik Orrantia

Selena Illyria


Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at All Romance eBooks With A ONE DAY ONLY Sale!

All incentive eligible titles (those are the ebooks with the crowns on their detail page) like On My Knees, Lorenzo il Magnifico, Fixed and The Hun and The General, purchased on March 17th will earn you a 50% rebate in eBook Bucks to use on your next purchase!

Sale begins at 12:00 am Central US time on March 17, 2012 and ands on 11:59 PM Central US time on March 17, 2012. No rainchecks can be given.

A big THANK YOU to All Romance eBooks!

Click here to check it out.

Tris: My guest today is another Etopia Press author and another Brit, Elin Gregory. Her novella, Alike as Two Bees, has recently been published and has been selling well. Elin, welcome chez Tris.

Elin: Thank you very much for inviting me, Tristram. I’m very pleased to be here.

Tris: Would you first of all clear up one thing that’s really intrigued me? In your author bio at the back of your book it says you live in a beautiful place between England and Wales. Is there some mysterious land that doesn’t show up on any map of Britain?  

Elin: Not any more :). The border is engraved on the map, now, pinning it down once and for all, but it’s not long, historically speaking, since it used to swing back and forth between England and Wales and sometimes bits fell through the gaps. Monmouthshire, my home, was particularly contentious and it wasn’t until 1967 that it was officially recognised as being part of Wales. Also I live near the pretty ‘kingdom’ of Hay on Wye, second hand book capital of the world. I like borders – if it’s neither one thing nor t’other it’s nice to think it might display the best qualities of both.

Tris: How long have you been writing?  

Elin: Ever since I learned to write so – oh dear – over 50 years! Before that I made up stories and told them to anyone who would listen.  Making up stories is a nice, quiet, and above all cheap, way for a child to amuse herself when her parents are busy. The plus side of writing a story down is that, when one is satisfied with it, one can let other people read it – if anyone wants to. I have a pile of partially completed manuscripts. I may take another look at some of them.

Tris: Why did you decide to write historical fiction?  
Elin: It seemed natural to me to write about the things I knew. No :D I’m not THAT old, but the house I was brought up in was built in 1625 and if I climbed over the garden wall I could go and play in the remains of a medieval castle. When one hears about some historical event – say, the execution of King Charles – and thinks “There were people living in my house when that happened. I wonder what they thought about it?” it doesn’t take long before one starts to try and fill in the dialogue.
Now I work in a museum in a Georgian hunting lodge in the remains of a different medieval castle, built on the edge of a Roman fort. Ideas for historical subjects are ten a penny – all I have to do is look around.

Tris: And why Greece? I assume you know it well?  
Elin: I have to put my hand up to having been a big Mary Renault fan ever since I got my little paws on a copy of The King Must Die. When I was about nine I desperately wanted to be Theseus! Or maybe brave little Hippon. Also I ‘did’ Classics (but not the languages, I’m unfortunately monoglot :( ) as a mature student for my degree. I have to admit that it’s also a draw to be able to write about a period when two men contemplating entering into a relationship would attract approving nods as long as the correct forms were observed.
I wish I did know Greece well. It’s high on my list of places to visit should I ever win the Lottery.

Tris: How much research went into Alike As Two Bees?  

Elin: I still have all my books from my degree and memories of what I read, so I went back to the books to check half remembered facts. Also I was lucky enough to have seen and chatted with a sculptor as he was making a piece for one of our displays. That was in 2009. I thought that what he was doing might come in handy at some time so I made notes. The hand carving techniques hadn’t really changed since the days of Pheidias, nor had the tools. But no matter the amount of research one does, it’s easy enough to slip up. One hopes one will notice any errors before publication but, if it’s after, one just has to take the criticism stoically.

Tris: Alike As Two Bees is a gay love story, an MM as they are known. You have a long association with glbt fiction and writers, and you’re involved with Speak Its Name. You yourself are not gay but married with grown up children. Can you explain what it is that compels you to write this kind of story rather than a standard boy meets girl historical romance?

Elin: I don’t like reading (let alone writing) standard boy meets girl historical romances. Never have. Talking to friends who do like them, there often seems to be some element of identification with the heroine. I can’t do that. I have always identified with male characters in what I read – see above about wanting to be Theseus. My ideal story would be an action adventure story but with the intensity of emotion one finds in some kinds of romance. Insert a female love interest and she either becomes something to do between battles – like Sophia in the Patrick O’Brien novels – or a trope – the feisty heroine raised as a boy by a doting father who taught her to ride/shoot/fence etc etc as well as any man – like Teresa in the Sharpe novels. I find it much more believable for the relationship, either close friendship or love, to be between two men.
That was the analytical reason. The emotional one is that I read Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff when I was small and cried my eyes out over two minor characters, Galt and Levin, who were in love with each other. They were as brave as any other men in the company and it was tragic that, the book being much of its time, they had to die. I want to write their story – or the stories of those like them who have behaved with exemplary courage and grace even if society might have disapproved of where they bestowed their affection.

Tris: Some MM stories are highly explicit. In fact, from my experience I’d say a lot are (at the expense of other content in some cases) and one could get the feeling that some writers are involved in a kind of pissing contest to see who can be the most explicit. You haven’t done this. Alike as Two Bees is as discreet as a Victorian butler. Was this a conscious decision and, if so, why?  

Elin: Alike As Two Bees it was never intended to be erotica so I wrote what I felt I needed to write in the scene and left it at that. I don’t think I’m much good at writing sex for its own sake. I’ll write a sex scene, and make it clear what’s going on, if the plot calls for it. For instance in a WIP I have several sex scenes that I hope will demonstrate how a relationship develops from “I haven’t had a shag for weeks and you’ll do” through “friends with benefits” to a deeper commitment. I hope it will work and I’ll ask someone who knows about that kind of thing to look the scenes over to check that I haven’t written anything glaringly ridiculous.
It worries me that that my very mild story will automatically be lumped in with the erotica. It’s bound to arouse expectations that the story won’t fulfil.

Tris: Is there a difference between erotica and porn?  

Elin: Assuming that we’re talking about things that are generally accepted as legal, and assuming that it is accepted that this is only my opinion and doesn’t reflect on anyone else – not really. It all comes down to taste. There’s that rather flippant definition – “If I enjoy it, it’s erotica, if I don’t, it’s porn”. I think there’s an element of truth in that for most people. But, basically, whatever floats your boat is fine with me. I just reserve the right not to look at it/read it if I don’t feel like it. However, I’m less tolerant of subject matter where lack of consent is presented in a positive or titillating manner. Informed consent is key.  Make it “safe, sane and consensual” and it’s good to go. But again, that’s just my level of comfort. There are plenty of people who enjoy reading rape, torture and abuse and class it as erotic whereas it gives me nightmares.

Tris: So, what can we look forward to from you in the future?  

Elin: Quite a long way forward, I’m afraid. I’ve several stories in the pipeline set in different historical eras. None of them class as romances since the heroes are putting more effort into staying alive than they are into getting together. Closest to completion is a full length novel about pirates (summer 2011 I put on an exhibition about pirates and didn’t want all the research to go to waste), but I also have half a novel about 7th century conflict in Northumbria between the Celts and Saxons, part of a spy caper set in 1928 London and plans for stories set during the Second World War, and in 1st century Rome. I have no idea which one will be finished first. Heck, I might have a rush of blood to the head and write sparkly vampires or something! I doubt it but …

Tris: Thanks for dropping by and chatting, Elin. Before you go, please tell us where we can find you and, of course, that all important book!  

Elin: I’m about the place at (Blogspot)  (Live Journal) (Facebook)
or Twitter as @ElinGregory
I had a website too until some ratbag hacked it and made it unusable. :(

Oh, and the book!

Alike as Two Bees
By: Elin Gregory
Published By: Etopia Press
Published: Mar 02, 2012
ISBN # 9781937976194
Word Count: 19,664
Heat Index: mildly spiced – korma rather than vindaloo


Horses, love, and the tang of thyme and honey…

In Classical Greece, apprentice sculptor Philon has chosen the ideal horse to model for his masterpiece. Sadly, the rider falls well short of the ideal of beauty, but scarred and tattered Hilarion, with his brilliant, imperfect smile, draws Philon in a way that mere perfection cannot.

After years of living among the free and easy tribes of the north, Hilarion has no patience with Athenian formality. He knows what he wants—and what he wants is Philon. Society, friends and family threaten their growing relationship, but perhaps a scarred soldier and a lover of beauty are more alike than they appear.

Available from Amazon US
Amazon UK
and Kobo

Thank you very much, Tristram, for your hospitality. It’s been fun. :)

Thank you to all who entered my February competition. Wow! What a response. I guess it shows the interest The Hun and The General has generated among readers. It was a such a great success that over the weekend I will announce my Ides of March competition – so keep an eye out!

OK, the question was, what was the land of the Huns called? The answer is Pannonia (and if you look carefully at the cover of The Hun and The General you can almost see it).

An All Romance Bestseller

Lots of entries, quite a few correct ones so those went into the hat and the lucky one drawn out is – Stacie (also known as geishasmom). Congratulations to Stacie! (I have emailed you directly). Commiserations to those who weren’t lucky but – beware the Ides of March, it may be a lucky date for you.

And remember, The Hun and The General is widely available and the buy links are on the left. I might also add it’s proving very popular at All Romance Ebooks where it got its bestseller star within 24hrs and is rising yet again. Thanks to ARE readers!

I don’t know about you but I never read blogs that talk about what tea the author’s been drinking or how sick their cat has been. To me it’s inconceivable that my readers would have the slighest interest in my morning shower or breakfast. When I browse, I look for subjects with a bit of meat on their bones. The other day I came across a gobsmacking blog item called RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination. Now, when I see the word discrimination I sit up and pay attention. The post appears on The Amazon Iowan and is all about how one of the Chapters of the Romance Writers of America has banned same sex stories from their competition. This seems relevant to us here chez Tris, so I contacted the author, Heidi Cullinan, and invited her over. I’m pleased to say she accepted.

Tris: Welcome, Heidi. Thank you for agreeing to be my guest today. Would you mind starting off by telling us a little about yourself – who you are, what you do?

Heidi: I am, as my twitter bio states, “Wife, mother, professional amazon.” I write novels, ten so far and they’re all LGBT themed. Mostly m/m, though I have bisexual heroes, lesbian heroines, the whole alphabet soup. I co-own a “sexual liberation blog” with Marie Sexton we call Coffee and Porn in the Morning ( I’m also the president of Rainbow Romance Writers, the online special interest chapter of RWA for LGBT romances. And an Iowan. I really like being an Iowan.

Tris: I think it’s quite hard for some Brits to understand the huge gap between where we stand on equality and where the US stands. Some of your States and politicians seem positively primitive to us, and the religious right would make us laugh if it weren’t so serious. I guess this latest move by the RWA chapter is fuelled by that?

Heidi: I think so. The story is now that the chapter members didn’t want to be associated with LGBT, which gets really skeevy when you see that LGBT authors have won from them in the past. As for where the religious right comes from, I think you can blame the pilgrims. Though jokes aside, a lot of this has to do with cultural shifts and that much talked about divide in America, but it’s not the 99% verses the 1% or anything quite so sexy. It’s more about the emptying out of small towns, the changing demographics of Safe White Places. I think LGBT is such a lightning rod because the metaphor fits so handily. Invisible “enemy.” Masculinity  and femininity “perverted.” Religion “threatened.” All those things come from culture, not THE GAY, but a real-time enemy is so much more comfortable. Believing that eradicating THE GAY will fix everything is so much more palatable than the fact that the world is changing and nothing but nothing will bring back the comforts some of these people know and love. That and they’re given a lot of permission by politicians, religious institutions, and television networks. That helps just a little bit.

Tris: In 1979 we elected a homophobic government which, though it took its time about it, brought in the infamous Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. I’ll quote the relevant section:

A local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

As a result, many groups had to close or limit their activities or self-censor. A number of lesbian, gay and bisexual student support groups in schools and colleges across Britain were closed owing to fears by council legal staff that they could breach the Act. This was only finally repealed at the end of 2003! Hard enough to imagine, but the USA elected a homophobic president at the start of the 21st century and kept him in office until 2009! How much of a setback was George W Bush to the cause of GLBT rights and do you think this latest move by RWA would have happened without President Bush’s terms in office?

Heidi: Wow, that’s a nasty act. Glad it’s gone.

I don’t think President Bush was a specific bully. I think he’s another lightning rod but for the other side. I’ve watched him speak since leaving office, have seen footage withheld from when he was in office, have heard more of his voice and less of the people who controlled the view of his Presidency, and I think he’s more like the rest of us than we care to know. I think he believed he was doing the best thing he could do at every point of his Presidency. And more importantly, a lot of people believed that too. To me that’s the true problem with LGBT rights: too many people think limiting them and even eliminating them isn’t just good it’s necessary. That has to change. It is changing, I think, but incredibly slowly.

For the record, I don’t believe RWA sat down and thought, “Yes, let’s squelch LGBT rights.” RWI did, surely (The Oklahoma chapter.) I think RWA just didn’t want to bother with it. They made a legal reading that said, “It’s okay if you do it.” The thought of how moral that was wasn’t on the page, and I don’t think they care so much that now it’s being brought into the forefront. They are, I’m quite certain, angry at me for blogging what I did. Had I known this was what would happen, I’d have taken a hell of a lot more time on that post and done a lot more double checking. I had a few facts wrong, like who said what to whom and when. Basically though the end result remains that RWA doesn’t have an anti-discrimination policy, and last year when asked point blank if chapters had a legal standing to refuse same-sex entries, the executive director said yes. If that’s not abetting discrimination, I don’t know what is.

Tris: Okay, let’s take a look at your post on the subject. Is there anything you want to point out before we do?

Heidi: That I was really ill when I wrote it and overtired and had absolutely no idea that it would be viral. That’s about it.

Well, and thanks for interviewing me and giving us some higher profile. The best thing to come of this is that our membership feels full to bursting with support. And we went from feeling down and defeated to feeling like we were sailing on an amazing tide. Thank you, Tris and everyone, for that.

Tris: It’s my pleasure, Heidi. Glad to be able to offer support. Here’s that all important blog post of Heidi’s:

RWA Shouldn’t Be in the Business of Discrimination

– Note: MTM will no longer accept same-sex entries in any category.

from the contest rules for the More Than Magic contest hosted by Romance Writers Ink Chapter of RWA

It’s taken me several days to be able to write this blog post, and the worst part of it is that my job isn’t done with this. As president of the Rainbow Romance Writers, RWA’s chapter for LGBT chapter, it’s my job to address the situation. I intend to, but I admit, at this point I keep reading that above line and feeling heavy and tired and depressed. I try to tell myself it’s because I’ve been felled by a pretty impressive cold for over a week and that it’s what’s making me tired. It’s a good story, and I wish I could buy it. But the bald truth is that I read that line, and every time it just hurts all over again.

The membership of RRW has been braver than me. Several members have emailed to ask why the change; one member got a reply. She was told it was a hard decision, but some members of the chapter felt “uncomfortable” with same-sex entries. That word keeps resonating too. Uncomfortable.

Well, I have to say, RWI. Discrimination makes me pretty uncomfortable too.

I just can’t get over the balls of stating, right there in black and white on a freaking website, “no same-sex entries.” No Irish need apply. Whites only. Pick your discriminatory phrase and insert it right there, because they all fit. Does that seem harsh? Probably only if you’re not gay or passionate about the rights of LGBT persons.

Here’s the truth. LGBT romance is growing more and more every day, but don’t let anyone try and delude you it’s anywhere but at the more sunlit alleys in the ghetto of the publishing world. Despite our very good sales within our digital-first houses, we aren’t even on the map for most New York publishers. Anyone within the genre knows too that LGBT romance gets plenty of flack from LGBT literary. It’s the same fight mainstream romance has with the mainstream lit fic genre (much like snotty religions, they don’t think they’re a genre, just the True Disciples of Book) except LGBT romance gets some nice kicks in the teeth for having straight women in the room. I’d point out a whole hell of a lot of us are bi, but if you know anything about arguments within the alphabet soup, you know that gets a lot of sneers too.

So it’s nothing short of a fine slice across the hand to be skimming through places LGBT romances might submit entries for contests, trying to get more exposure and out of the ghetto—this one is for published books and last year an m/m novel won—only to find a big fat NO GAYS sign.

When I asked about this, I was told the board made a ruling on same-sex entries in contests and said basically that chapters could make their own judgments based on genre. The heading of the issue was labeled “same-sex entries in contests,” so there’s no question this is the clause that made RWI feel they could pop that line I opened with onto their website, sigh in relief, and move on with their day. Make no mistake. RWA national said this is kosher.

Do you?

I don’t mind someone reading my novel and disliking it. I don’t mind entering a contest and not being chosen. I don’t even mind someone seeing that my books have same-sex romances in them and saying that’s not what they want to read. But I do mind someone discriminating on principle alone. I do mind someone telling me that I’m a genre one can just skip but not recognizing me as a genre for the RITA awards, making me compete against people who have no idea what a ghetto looks like and how hard it is to get out of one. But to say “here you’re a genre, you can’t play” and then “here you’re not, so have fun with your teaspoon while everyone else gets a backhoe” is not fair. And not right.

It hurts. And it’s wearing. I’m supposed to be professional and I’ll get there, but right now I’m just Heidi Cullinan, author and reader and very tired person. You know what, RWA? We write damn good stories. We work very hard. Do we have some stinkers in our midst? Oh yeah. And you know what? So do the m/f books, and you know it. You know what, judges of RWI who are uncomfortable reading about same-sex relationships? I’m uncomfortable with you judging my work like that without reading it. I’m uncomfortable with you pasting RWA on yourself and then saying, with RWA national’s blessing, that you don’t want to read that gay stuff.

What LGBT romance needs are more readers. What we need is exposure and opportunity. We aren’t asking for special treatment, and believe it or not, we aren’t even asking for a genre label. Yeah, it’s hell competing against the full press in the RITAs, but we’re okay with doing it. In fact, we’d rather. We’re willing to work. We’re willing to throw ourselves at the walls of ignorance and nose-wrinkling and discomfort because boys and boys and girls and girls are kissing and wearing each other’s clothes and revealing they’re gender queer. Yeah, we’re in our ghetto alleys, but we are here and determined and ready to work to show you how much we have to bring to the table. And we’re ready to do it over and over and over until people listen.

So give us a chance, eh? You’re “uncomfortable” with our pairings? We’ll work hard to change your mind. But you have to work too. You have to let us play. You have to admit you’re taking our dues and calling us full members, and you need to treat us like them. You need to not hang “no gays” signs on your contest windows. And if you do, you need to be called out on it.

Are you an author of LGBT romances? Are you a reader of them? Are you an advocate of LGBT rights? Please write to RWI’s contest coordinator ( Please write to RWA. Please don’t yell and throw glass. You can be hurt, but please be civil. One little pebble thrown becomes an excuse to call us the bullies. And you know? I don’t even think RWA or RWI are the bullies. I think they’re not thinking. I think they’re thinking of themselves and keeping things quiet and easy. I think they don’t think for one second saying “no gays” is the same as hanging “whites only” over a toilet.

If you know that’s exactly what it is like I do, tell them. Politely. Firmly. Over and over and over again.

RWI, RWA: Let same-sex entries into your contest. Change your policies. Don’t discriminate.


Visit Heidi here:

Last month’s competition went so well I’ve decided to do one on a monthly basis. As time goes by and I get the hang of this more I may make them harder (be warned!). This one shouldn’t be too difficult, though. The prize is an e-copy of any one of my books.


Attila the Hun is the subject of my latest book, The Hun and The General. What name is given to the geographical area that made up the Huns’ kingdom? Clue: begins with ‘P’.

Email your answer to me at

Be sure to enter in the subject box THE HUN COMPETITION

Terms and Conditions

  • The competition closes at midnight GMT on 29th February 2012.
  • One winner from the correct entries will be chosen at random.
  • The winner will be entitled to choose any one of my ebooks free of charge and I will email this to them.
  • My decision is final.

I don’t know who Violi Katia is, but I do know she’s Italian and she wrote a lovely review of Lorenzo il Magnifico. As she is Italian, it meant a lot to me to read “A very realistic Italy too, dirty and messy, complete with Vespas, Alfas, dangerous drivers and obnoxious dog poops…I really enjoyed the style of this book, quite a lot grittier than most romance I ever read, and almost harsh in places, but in a very engaging way. There is a wicked sense of humour …”

Katia sounds like great fun (see her review) and if you know her, please say Grazie Mille from Tris!

Click the link below to read the review: