- The Quick and Dirty History of Erotic Romance – Wendy the Superlibrarian has an awesome post today about erotic romance in the days before Ellora’s Cave and the internet as we know it today.
The rise of erotic romance within the romance sub genre is a fairly complex one, and not something that can easily be condensed down into a magic bullet by saying, “So-And-So is responsible for it!” So as much as Ellora’s Cave has, over the years, marketed themselves as the pioneer of the sub genre, they didn’t really “invent” it. So who did? Well, a bunch of people.
- Confessions of a Category Romance Reader – RRR Jessica is at Book Riot with a wonderful article on category romance and why she enjoys it. I love to see these pieces about romance that don’t defend or apologize for the genre at places like Book Riot and the Toast. It’s great to see romance talked about like it matters.
Category romances have a kind of language all their own, and the more I read, the better I can understand the tropes, the shorthand, and the intertextual connections between the books. A description of a character or a brief gesture that seems superficial might have many levels of symbolism for an experienced reader. Maybe categories are the kind of thing you have to read a few of to really appreciate. If you read just one, you see the simple story, and you think the genre is simple. But the more I read, the more I see them as each playing a role in articulating and deepening the romance genre’s basic concerns: what romantic love is, how we achieve it, and why it matters that we do.
- Lesbian Romance — Becoming Visible with a Little Help from our (M/M) Friends by Radclyffe – A quick piece about how lesbian romance is finding an audience. It’s part of the Queer Romance Month blogging event.
The explosion in popularity of M/M romance in the last few years has suddenly catapulted LGBTQ romance into the mainstream with reviews in magazines like Romantic Times Book Reviews and Publishers Weekly, entire conventions focused on LGBTQ romance that draw hundreds of readers, and more panels at the RWA on the subject. Now we see lesbian romance, which in terms of its historical presence has been around a lot longer, gaining visibility and inclusion in mainstream fora, often because our friends who are publishing, editing, and writing M/M romance make an effort to reach out and be inclusive. While we who write LGBTQ romance may have different audiences, we have a common theme, and what unites us is far more significant than what separates us. As in all things human, that is often the case and something we might all try to remember in more ways than just what we write. I am delighted to be part of queer romance month, to be a queer romance writer, and a fan of all LGBTQ romances.
- Writing People of Color (if you happen to be a person of another color) – Cartoonist/artist MariNaomi talks about writing POC characters. It includes lots of great comics and advice from other cartoonists of color.
Recently, a friend of mine asked for feedback on her manuscript. Her novel was filled with complex characters, a thought-provoking plot, and enough intrigue to keep the reader riveted. I did what any good editor and friend would do, honestly praising the good parts, and delicately noting which parts could use work. This part is confusing, I wrote. This part seems out of character. She nodded along while reading my notes, completely prepared for all of my comments, except for one: Where are the people of color?
When we discussed this later, she (a white writer) admitted she feels uncomfortable adding people of color (PoC) to her fiction, as it feels disingenuous. “Write what you know” and all that. How could she add, say, a Japanese person without it seeming like a token gesture?
- Blog Entry: Talking About Chronic Illness, as a Reader and as a Writer – Author Stephanie Burgis writes about how hurt she was by a book’s treatment of a character with chronic illness before sharing a story about how she wrote a stereotypical portrayal of chronic illness in her own book and didn’t notice it until the end. Disability tropes run so deep, it’s easy to forget to challenge the assumptions they’re built on.
In the novel I just read, the characters and text feel occasional, high-minded sympathy for the wife with chronic illness. But they feel empathy for the husband.
As a woman who is open about her chronic illness, I can’t count the times people have told me how lucky I am that Patrick stuck by me when I was diagnosed with M.E. How amazing that was of him.
The truth is, he is amazing and wonderful and I am lucky to have him as my husband. But I was lucky to have him before I got M.E. And the fact that I got M.E. does not make him unlucky to have me. We live in a society where we tend to marry for love, and that love has stayed strong both in sickness and in health, just like the old Christian marriage vows say. Even when I’m stuck in bed, I’m still a loving, creative and supportive wife. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. Most of the time, I’m emotionally strong enough to believe it, because I have an excellent support network to bolster me.
- Yes, Disabled Teens Have Sex Too, And They Should Have Access To Birth Control – Contrary to the common assumption that disabled people are sexless or asexual, they have the same sexual desires as their non-disabled peers. We need to make sure they have access to information and contraceptioin.
It’s rare to see disabled and ill people, including teens, acknowledged at all as people who are sexual, or who might have reproductive-related healthcare needs. The AAP is reminding physicians both that disabled teens need birth control, and that numerous options are available for helping disabled teens manage their reproductive health — but that doctors need to reach out with information and advice to help their patients, instead of remaining silent on the matter.
Sexuality and sexual health care needs in this population are often overlooked, yet data demonstrate that, compared with healthy adolescents, adolescents with chronic illness have similar levels of sexual behaviors and sexual health outcomes (eg, STIs).
That may be the money shot, a sharp rejoinder and reminder to physicians that, yes, disabled teens have sex too. Not only do they have sex — they do so pretty much like everyone else. However, leaving them without access to reproductive health tools (and sexual education) means that they can be exposed to higher risks than their peers, and it can leave them vulnerable to higher rates of sexual exploitation and abuse. That’s why pediatricians, who are often the first point of contact for sexually curious youth, need to step up their game when it comes to dealing with disabled teens.