Why Gay Men Weren’t in the Closet in 1923

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My latest gay (M/M) romance is set in 1923 in a small rural town in East Texas. A Little Sin is available through Amazon and is FREE with Kindle Unlimited. While researching this historical western mystery romance, I discovered that gay men weren’t in the closet in 1923. No one was. Closets didn’t really exist back then. People kept their clothes in armoires, chest of drawers, and chifforobes (basically an armoire combined with a chest of drawers.) The idiom didn’t exist.

Instead, gay men who pretended to be straight to fit in with the oppressive heterosexual society were said to “wear a mask.” I found this phrase both poetic and poignant. It describes so beautifully what it feels like to have to hide your true self from people. I’m genderqueer, but I am biologically female and “read” female. Most people have no idea who or what I really am. (Even when I tell them, they often don’t really understand.)  I wear a mask. The stakes, of course, of someone discovering my true identity aren’t as high for me as they are for my protagonists in A Little Sin. Still, the idea that they were wearing masks made me feel very close to them.

There are so many things we take for granted in modern America. In the world of Avery and Garland, indoor plumbing and electricity have not found their way to rural areas. There are no antibiotics. “Okay,” one of my favorite words, didn’t exist until WWII (and it was OK). Prohibition made having a glass of pinot noir illegal. In Texas, literacy tests prevented many people from voting. (It was designed to suppress the black vote.) Texas legislators were openly members of the Ku Klux Klan. (At least now they make some attempt to hide it. Yes, I live in Texas. Yes, I’m bitter.)

Although women now had the right to vote, their roles were largely domestic. Even Garland, the more progressive and enlightened of my two main characters, is amazed when his secretary—a black woman—is curious about his work as a veterinarian and wants to read his old textbooks. The fact that she is interested in science blows his mind.

There were times when I felt quite estranged from my protagonists, who are deeply religious Christians (I’m not), drink buttermilk (ugh), rarely curse, and smoke like fiends. (Smoking was okay, apparently.) I kept wanting to put glasses of scotch in their hands or make them use the “f-word.” (Because I do…a lot.) Writing for these guys was like discovering a new world. Along the way, I fell in love with them. I hope my readers do, too.

There are so many things, so many advancements—both scientific and social—that we take for granted. These things didn’t always exist. They aren’t permanent. We need to be wary of people who want to take us back into a dark, oppressive, and often violent past. We need to be vigilant, vote, and keep moving forward. How can we make America great again when the past is littered with injustices and wasn’t too great for children, people of color, women, and LGBTQIA people? I like to write about history; I wouldn’t want to live there.

Cover Reveal!

A_Little_SinThis is the cover for my new m/m mystery romance, A Little Sin. (That’s Sheriff Avery O’Rourke.) Here’s the book description:

Sheriff Avery O’Rourke has tried to obey his strict Christian faith and lead a “normal” life. In 1923 in a rural East Texas town, “normal” means heterosexual. A cholera outbreak has made Avery a young widower, so he is married to his job. When a murder investigation forces him to confront his truth, will he finally be able to accept being gay?

Veterinarian Garland Sands has returned from Europe to take over his father’s practice. Struggling with shellshock (PTSD) and heartbroken by the suicide of his French lover, he resigns himself to a quiet, solitary life as a country vet. But the murder of the town doctor brings the sheriff to Garland’s doorstep looking for help with the investigation. Seeing Avery awakens dormant feelings. Can he love a man who hates what he is?

This isn’t the lavish 1920s of The Great Gatsby. This is the flip side of that coin—rural East Texas. No electricity. No indoor plumbing. No flappers. In 1923, the timber barons have left and racism, homophobia, and sexism thrive.

A Little Sin is a realistic mystery with unlikely heroes and a timeless romance between lovers caught in a world where their love is forbidden. This book contains steamy sex scenes and is intended for adults only.

A Little Sin should be available on Amazon later today (2/23/18).

Following a Story Where it Leads

magicalhorseSome writers are pantsers. They ‘fly by the seats of their pants’ and write what they feel at a given moment. I’m more of a plotter. Usually, I come up with a couple of characters and start imagining situations they could be in. I mull things over until a few scenes really gel, then I make a rough outline and start writing. I’m a control freak. I need to have some idea where all of the bits and pieces go before I can lose myself in the writing.

The new story I’m working on has decided to make me crazy. I’ve never written a mystery, but I thought it would be fun to write a gay mystery romance. I’ve never written a historical. So, why not a gay mystery historical romance? I actually did a significant amount of research for my epic fantasy series, and I enjoy research, so I thought researching this new book would be a lot of fun. Ha! The story had other ideas….

I thought I understood my story. I thought I knew what it was going to be about. I had a spiffy outline that told me what I wanted to hear. But my research turned up new things. Horrible things. Things I thought I knew, thought I understood, but….um…no. The world I’m writing about is so much darker and more frightening than I imagined–and I chose the area because it always frightened me as a child. I chose the era because it seemed like a spooky period, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

My research turned my pathetic little outline on its ear. The story is morphing, growing into some hungry new beast. It’s thrilling, honestly. Is this why pantsers get so starry-eyed when talking about their process? I, because I’m still a stodgy control freak, am slavishly bleeding out another outline. Being thrown into the briars was fun, however.

I have an ambitious project to tame. I imagine it will throw me again when it feels bored. For the moment, I’m excited by where it has taken me.

 

The Fur Coats

Authors often talk about what music they listen to while writing, but what do their characters listen to? In my new gay romance, Zen Alpha, the two main characters get their blood pumping with the pop punk sound of Austin’s The Fur Coats. Ward listens to them every morning before work, where he teaches autistic children. On this particular day, he and Bradley listen to them after a long night looking for a lost cat.

Check out The Fur Coats here and wake up!

Zen Alpha

My new book Zen Alpha is now available on Amazon! Zen Alpha is a steamy M/M romance. It’s free with Kindle Unlimited.

When his domineering stock broker boyfriend goes too far, Bradley wonders if his flexible, mindful neighbor might be just what he needs.

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A Lovely Blog Review!

The Novel Approach, a book review blog, posted a nice review of my M/M romance Because Faery Godmonster! They said the book was: “Sweet, a little angsty, comical and sexy all apply to this story. It’s such an easy, breezy read.”

Here’s an excerpt from the review:

This book is at once lighthearted but also touched by the somber notes of both Goss’s and Pox’s individual conflicts. It’s equal parts adorable and weighty, and I loved the building sexual tension between the hobgoblin and the nightsprite. Their quest is ambitious and the eventual consummation of their feelings for each other was unexpectedly erotic. I feel like I should throw in here, now, that there is a fisting scene, because Pox evidently doesn’t like his sex entirely vanilla, so do check your comfort level with that if you’re considering giving Because Faery Godmonster a try.

Read the entire review here!

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A Different Kind of Triangle

HisDungeonDiscoveryHis Dungeon Discovery is the sequel to Because Faery Godmonster. You don’t have to have read the first one to enjoy the second one, but I strongly recommend it. Like the first book, this is a rather silly, smutty story. I did try to do something different, however.

Since the first book showed the lovers getting together, I thought the second book should show their bond being tested. Classically, this would be done with a love triangle. But I don’t especially like love triangles, and I always prefer to do my own thing. So I gave them a young orphan with a vocabulary limited to one word and challenged them with taking care of her. Goss, the more nurturing of the couple, bonds to her immediately and wants to protect and adopt her. Pox thinks she stinks and is rather tiresome.

So that’s the main source of conflict between the lovers in my story. One wants to nest, but the other isn’t ready. It’s a funny little fantasy story, but I wanted it to have an honesty to it. In my life, wanting different things/ being at different life stages have been the big relationship problems–not the tall, dark stranger.

Now you know why Lady Grawgraw plays such a pivotal role in the story!

You can find His Dungeon Discovery here, and you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.

Doms Need Love, Too

Depictions of BDSM in popular media make my skin crawl. They’re rarely anything I recognize. I really hate how doms are portrayed as crazed sociopaths who enjoy hurting people in all aspects of their lives.

Um. No. We, as a group, tend to be nice people. If you met me outside of my dungeon (yes, I have one. No, it’s not the red room of pain. It’s decorated in green men and cats) you would probably find me charming and kind hearted. (At least, that’s what people tell me….) I don’t eat men for breakfast. I don’t make cutthroat business deals. I don’t try to find ways to humiliate my husband outside of our playtime, and I don’t try to control his life.

Some people do have slave contracts. Neither of us are big on formalities or paperwork, so we’ve never bothered with anything like that. BDSM has been a huge part of our romantic life during our twenty years together. We’re both creative, playful sensation-lovers, so it fits our needs well.

But other people’s ignorance still irks me. Being a dom means seeing yourself portrayed as the bad guy almost constantly. The damaged one who hurts people because he doesn’t know how to love. Why? Because vanilla sex is love? Reduced to its lowest terms, vanilla sex is just a lot of jamming various things into various holes. Love doesn’t have much to do with it. It’s what we decide it means that’s everything. The same thing is true of BDSM.

In Lover, Destroyer, although it’s fantasy romance, I tried to show BDSM as part of a loving relationship. The men have problems, but BDSM isn’t one of them. It’s no more a problem than vanilla sex is in most vanilla romances.

Lover, Destroyer is available on Amazon. Read it for free on Kindle Unlimited!