This issue comes up every two years or so; I’ve been in the genre for about ten years now, and it seems to be some kind of cycle, like cicadas.

What kind of.. well, I was going to say “puzzles” me, but it doesn’t; it’s a common pattern … is the way that gay erotica, written by a gay man, that follows the “let’s fuck” pattern cited in the original complaint … That gets a free ride, whereas that SAME STORY, with a woman’s name on it, is likely to set someone to complaining. The ol’ double standard dies hard. A man shows “leadership,” a woman is “bossy.” That original post was not a neutral observation, it was an attack on women who are doing something that is FINE for men to do, but not for us. I don’t think I have ever once seen a post complaining about gay men ‘objectifying’ each other or ‘fetishizing’ sexual organs – but I’ve sure seen that done in gayfic by gay men.

I’m not crazy about erotica per se–I like a little plot and characterization, as opposed to the ‘any porthole in a storm’ aesthetic that you see in porn videos. It’s a genre, and there’s nothing wrong with it; I read some during my single-and-celibate years but, to me, there’s too much left unsaid – it’s simply not to my taste. Neither is the sort of angsty story where one character is chronically weepy and the other is a Manly Man; I’m not crazy about gender roles.

Now that I’ve offended half those here, let me point out that what I’ve just said is ENTIRELY a personal and subjective observation. Tons of people love erotica, a lot of it is fantasy, but humans need fantasy. Ruby Tuesday. “Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind.” Many people like the fantasy of being the “strong one” or having a strong partner to care for them. They may never get it in real life; an aunt of mine was addicted to the sappiest romances because her own love life was just plain miserable. This is a matter of taste–we don’t all like the same things, we don’t even always like the same things throughout our lives. There’s room for all sorts.

Where this hits the rocks is when the gender of the writer is an issue. There are good writers and bad writers, and dozens of genres and sub-genres. And to say that a person’s gender should disqualify them from writing anything — to the best of their ability — is like saying gay couples shouldn’t adopt. It’s ludicrous.

I once had a brief and annoying conversation with a “damn them girl-cooties” reader on an Amazon discussion thread. This gentleman was of the opinion that woman should not be ALLOWED to write gay erotica because he felt “violated” if he found out that a story he enjoyed had been written by a woman. No joke. I guess it’s because he felt a sexual connection to the author and since he did not like women (his post made that quite clear) he was offended that a mere woman was able to write something that got him sexually aroused.

Now, personally? I think that is 100% HIS PROBLEM. Because while we all put some of ourselves into what we write, I doubt if most of us are writing our stories with the intent that readers will see us as sexual surrogates. (Or maybe some do; the idea gives me the creeps but that’s, again, my subjective opinion.)

I doubt if it’s possible to stop some people from objectifying or fetishizing. Anytime someone says, “Oh, s/he’s really my type,” they’re saying that they have a particular set of standards that attracts them. At what point is that considered “fetishizing?”

My own feeling about all of this is that gay romance does far more good than harm, even the stuff that’s not top-drawer writing. With three GOP presidential candidates pandering to extremists who want to make BEING LGBT a capital offense — people who literally want to kill us for who we love — the more stories out there that show same-sex relations in the same light as het ones the better.  Stories that portray us as human beings (and yeah, there are het folks who have highly active sex lives) are something to encourage, not condemn.

And the original complainant’s anonymity doesn’t impress me with his moral courage, either. If you have something to say, own it. If you’re not willing to do that… why not?

Posted by: Lee Rowan | January 5, 2015

Reboot!

A couple of years ago I got a new computer and this blog site just did not want to play nicely with it. The computer’s hard drive crashed (was it something I said?) and this new beast seems to have no problem navigating. So – touch wood — I’m going to be making more use of my blog from 2015 onward.

I hope!

In the meantime, since the series is also in reboot, here’s the cover for Home is the Sailor… which is being launched at Dreamspinner today, and I’m blogging over there with a couple of downloads to give away!

http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/

 

Coming January 5...

Coming January 5…

WindsofChange-Eye of the Storm_postcard_front_DSP

And Ransom…

Ransom_postcard_front_DSP

which can now be found on my page at Dreamspinner: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_1201

Posted by: Lee Rowan | December 31, 2014

ZAM’s New Year’s Progressive Dinner

Dinner Menu FINAL

When I signed up for this party, there were only 3 spaces left.. all salad.  I sighed.  Being vegetarian, “but we have salad” is often the discouraging postscript to finding out there’s nothing else at a party that I can eat.

But… there are salads that consist of a few limp lettuce leaves and discouraged pink chunks of rubber calling themselves “tomatoes,” and then .. there’s the real deal.

I still make this dish when I can find decent tomatoes at the farmer’s market, even in winter – our part of Ontario is Canada’s “deep south” and has a lot of greenhouse produce (and mushroom caves, but that’s another recipe.) Fresh basil is a must—and the pot I brought in last fall is struggling along on my seedling shelf. It’s trying to bloom, poor thing, so I may need to start a few new basil seedlings to keep the garden going on life-support until summer returns.

John Hansen, from Walking Wounded, would make this salad—he probably learned it from his massage therapist, who knows a bit about nutrition. Living on a disability pension before he married Kevin, John had to make the most of his grocery budget, and I imagine he helped his elderly neighbor with her garden and received some fresh produce in return. But he isn’t the sort of cook to try ambitious recipes, so this lovely dish of summer flavor would be just the sort of thing to accompany a bowl of spaghetti tossed in olive oil and grated cheese.

Summer In A Bowl

Ingredients: Ripe tomatoes, basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper. The better your ingredients, the better the result. Fresh-grown tomatoes and basil are best, of course.

This is my wife’s favorite summer salad, and one of mine, too.   No precise measurements because that’s up to you. Ripe cherry tomatoes – heritage varieties are best, grown for taste rather than durability—are prettiest, but fresh tomatoes of any size will work. Get the ripest, freshest, un-factoriest fruit you can find.

Slice your tomatoes (cherries in half, other sorts as you like) into individual salad dishes. I use largish dessert bowls so there’s room for the juices to mix it up.

Sprinkle a little salt on the tomatoes to draw out the juice, and while you’re doing that, take a few basil leaves – however many you can work with comfortably (3 is good, for a single dish) and chiffonade them—roll them up in a tube and slice them very thin. This doesn’t have to be perfect but it does spread the flavor better than using whole leaves.

Sprinkle the shredded leaves on the tomato slices. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over them – don’t skip this step, even if you only use a half-teaspoon of oil—the oil helps make the nutrients in the tomatoes easier for your body to assimilate. Then pour the balsamic vinegar over them – a teaspoon will do, but if you like more, that’s fine too.  If you’re feeling especially artistic, you can pinch off the top bud of your basil stalk and place it in the center—don’t worry, it’s like pinching back any plant, that will encourage branching off.

If you like pepper, grind a little black or mixed pepper over the top, let it sit for a minute or two so the flavors blend, and – enjoy with your meal, or just a slice of warm garlic bread (in the summer, when the tomatoes are ripe, you may not want anything more). If you drink the juice that’s left, I don’t think anyone would blame you!

You can add a bit of crumbled feta or blue cheese, or toasted walnut pieces.. but you really don’t need them.

 

Posted by: Lee Rowan | April 1, 2012

April Fool Daftfics at The Macaronis

April Fool! I’ve got a daft-fic over at the Macs – the “april fool” part being that I could not come up with anything funny, so it’s just a flashfic about two young men in the US Army who find themselves up a tree… Lots of other goodies by a bunch of Macaroni writers … Charlie Cochrane is posting even as I write, and so far there are stories by Bruin Fisher and Elin Gregory.. more to come!

ALSO – my Royal Navy anthology, Sail Away, is OUT ON AMAZON and officially out as of April 15 — and that is NOT an April Fool, it’s really back in print!

http://historicromance.wordpress.com/

And if you’re looking for Epub format:
http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-sailaway-770185-145.html

 

Posted by: Lee Rowan | December 4, 2011

Be careful what you ask for…

After my best-dog-ever succumbed to kidney failure — she was sixteen and a half, and for a German Shepherd/Chow cross, that was a respectable age –I went into depression.  Waya, my soul-mutt, came to me at 6 months and I never got to see what she’d have been like as a total baby.  I can’t describe what she meant to me, but to say she kept my heart alive for years when I had no other hope would be an understatement.  The sun went out when she went to her final sleep in my lap.

The emptiness was too much.  I told my wife I wanted to raise one more “full-size” dog from a puppy, but she was worn out from the mess of dealing with an immobile, geriatric dog and thought a grown dog would be easier.  She was right, and Cassie, named for her cinnamon coloring, is a doll who arrived housebroken and pathetically eager to do whatever we ask of her.  A rescue, she still, after 2 years, never seems quite certain she’s home for good.    She’s beautiful, smart, a little shy, and … totally unlike Waya in personality.  She is the perfect dog for my wife, who is basically a cat person.

Pippin Can Not Haz Bone

But even though I love her–it’s impossible not to–I missed the joyful rowdiness and ready-for-anything attitude Waya brought to my life.  Only a dog-owner who’s loved and lost is likely to understand this — the hole in my heart needed a puppy.

My wife deserves sainthood for going along with this…  I started scouring Petfinder and missed out on two gorgeous puppies.. I was just not quite fast enough.  Then I saw a little dude who had a really sad tale:  he and his 7 littermates were being given away on the street in a First Nations reserve, at the age  of 4 weeks.  A rescue worker from the Animal Rescue Foundation of Ontario (ARF) happened to see this, and scooped up the whole litter, distributing them to 3 foster homes until they were old enough to adopt.  This little guy nearly died from a digestive problem of some kind.   His face said “Shepherd,” the body said who-knows… when I went to see him, at 7 weeks, he was a medium-sized puppy.   He licked my nose, and my mama instinct kicked in.   He was a charmer:

Beware the Big Feet!

And he had the runs, because of a hookworm infestation the shelter missed.  That took another month to clear up, and the less said the better.   But the little sweetheart was housebroken in two weeks, all credit to Cassie.  It’s true that an older dog will train a puppy for you.

But I should never, never have said “full-size dog.”  Watson was about 14 lbs when we got him.  Then he started to grow.

HA! Touched UR paw! 5 months--and growing

Mama was a German Shepherd, Daddy was a Lab/Collie cross.  He’s bigger than any of the parent breeds, and has the sweetest disposition I could ask for–a good thing; he’s almost 95 pounds and not quite 18 months old.  Walking him, even with a no-pull harness, is a challenge, especially if we pass another dog because he roars like the Hound of the Baskervilles — even though he’s playful and submissive at the dog park.  We’re still working on street etiquette; Cesar Millan I am not.  (Cesar, if you’re ever in Ontario…)   But I have to say that he is startling to settle down, and if I can just get him to stop relating to the world on a basis of “is it edible?  Okay, can I chase it?”  he’s going to be a damned good dog. Waya didn’t settle down until she was almost 4…  and she taught me that a crazy, chew-happy puppy is worth every minute of aggravation.    This is what he looked like at 10 months.. he’s taller now, but I don’t have a picture that shows that.  Imagine another 2 inches of height at the shoulders….

His name is Watson because I wanted to name him Holmes — he reminds me of Mike Holmes, the home-renovation guru:  Big, blond, muscular, and the look of someone you don’t want to argue with.  But he’d been taking contrary lessons from the cats; he wouldn’t respond to “Holmes.”  I tried a bunch of other names, he ignored them.  Finally, I said, “Okay, how about Watson?”   The left ear went up.  (The right ear never quite made it to vertical…)   I said, “Are you my Watson?  He came over and sat, on his own, with a big doggie grin.

So Watson it is. Not a bad name for a faithful sidekick, when you think about it.

But don’t ask me to explain the ears….

c Lee Rowan, 2011

Posted by: Lee Rowan | August 12, 2011

I Do Two menagerie a quatre

The humans are not the only ones who appreciate good writing for a good cause!

Posted by: Lee Rowan | May 1, 2011

Snoot: 1990 (?) – 2011

Miss Snoot, aka Snootie Patootie... 1990-2011

Three and a half pounds of cattitude

Twenty-one years ago, some jerk pulled up on a street in downtown Kalamazoo, opened the door, dropped a tiny cat on the sidewalk, and drove away.   A cat-loving woman named Sharon saw this, rescued the kitten, and delivered her to her best buddy, who had just lost an elderly Siamese.   Ten years later, I married the woman who took Snoot in (and named her for the dark smudge on her nose.)   A couple of years after that, Snoot started having kidney trouble, and the vet warned us that a cat so small — she barely hit 4 pounds, top weight – might not last very long.

Nine years later, down to 2.5 pounds and with only one tooth left, her kidneys finally gave out and she got out of her weary, creaky little body while lying on my lap.  We buried her in the sunshine she loved, and put a white lilac over her. 

I can’t say Snoot was the most lovable cat I ever knew – she was cranky, hissed at every other animal except her mentor, Pinky (a sweet grey Buddha of a cat), and complained about everything in a voice that suggested Siamese in the family tree.  We always suspected Snoot had been raised by some dope-smoking idiot — she was never quite in focus and didn’t relate to people or other animals in an entirely normal way.  But when she was feeling affectionate, she could bang into you with amazing strength, and you could hear her purr across the room. 

As she got older and frailer–and leakier–we wound up building an ensuite for her that consisted of a large dog crate with catbox, cushion, and dining area, a cedar chest with a beach (sunlamp and soft blanket) and a plastic tub connecting the two.  Toward the end, we enclosed this with rails salvaged from a baby crib, because she couldn’t leap down anymore.   The vet said the heat lamp and oil heater beside the crate were what kept her going — she had no body fat at all.  And, she said, for 147 in cat years, she did pretty well up until the last couple of weeks.

As much trouble as it was dealing with all the extra care–and the obstacle course it created in our bedroom–the place seems oddly empty without her

Pleasant catnip dreams, Snootie.

Posted by: Lee Rowan | March 10, 2008

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