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River City Chronicles blog tour—$25 GC giveaway and a double helping of excerpts from J. Scott Coatsworth

COVER-River-City

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer magical realism book out:

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

Amazon (ebook) | Amazon (paperback) | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4710/?


Excerpt

Matteo stared out the restaurant window into the darkness of Folsom Boulevard. It was getting dark earlier as summer edged into fall. Streetlights flickered on as cars drifted by, looking for parking or making the trip out of Midtown toward home.

The sign on the window read “Ragazzi” (the boys), lettered in a beautiful golden script just two months old. Investing in this little restaurant his uncle had left to them when he’d passed away had been their ticket out of Italy. But now with each passing day, as seats sat empty and tomatoes, pasta, and garlic went uneaten, the worry was gnawing ever deeper into Matteo’s gut.

Behind him in the open, modernized kitchen, Diego was busy cooking—his mother’s lasagne, some fresh fish from San Francisco, and some of the newer Italian dishes they’d brought with them from Bologna. The smells of boiling sauce and fresh-cooked pasta that emanated from the kitchen were entrancing.

They’d sent the rest of the staff —Max and Justin—home for the evening. The three customers who had shown up so far didn’t justify the cost of keeping their waiter and busboy on hand.

Matteo stopped at the couple’s table in front of the other window. “Buona sera,” he said, smiling his brightest Italian smile.

“Hi,” the man said, smiling back at him. He was a gentleman in about his mid-fifties, wearing a golf shirt and floppy hat. “Kinda quiet tonight, huh?”

“It always gets busier later,” Matteo lied smoothly. “Pleasure to have you here. Can I get you anything else?”

“A little more wine, please?” the woman said, holding out her glass so the charm bracelet on her wrist jangled.

“Of course.” He bowed and ducked into the kitchen.

He gave Diego a quick peck on the cheek.

His husband and chef waved him off with a snort. “Più tardi. Sto preparando la cena.”

“I can see that. Dinner for a hundred, is it? It’s dead out there again tonight.”

Diego shot him a dirty look.

Matteo retrieved the bottle of wine from the case and returned to fill up his guests’ glasses. “What brings you in tonight?” Maybe they saw our ad.…

“Just walking by and we were hungry. I miss the old place though.… What was it called, honey?”

Her husband scratched his chin. “Little Italy, I think?”

“That’s it! It was the cutest place. Checkered tablecloths, those great Italian bottles with the melted wax… so Italian.”

Matteo groaned inside. “So glad you came in” was all he said with another smile.


Now an exclusive excerpt!

Brad was rousted from bed by someone pounding on the front door. Who the hell was coming by at ten thirty p.m.? He grabbed the bat he kept next to the bed.

“Who is it?” Sam asked blearily.

“I don’t know. I’ll find out.”

Sam sat up, and Brad smothered the urge to jump back in bed. Screw their visitor. Sam looked adorable with his sleepy eyes and blond hair sticking up at odd angles.
The pounding sounded again.

“Want me to come with?”

“No, just be ready to call 911.” They were downtown, after all. Things happened here, sometimes. “I’m coming!” Brad shouted to whoever was knocking. He pulled on his robe and clambered down the stairway to the front door. “Who is it?” he called, bat held at ready.

“Brad, it’s Marcos. I need your help.”

Marcos… the web designer? He unlocked the door. “How the hell did you get my home address?” he asked, staring at the man. “You do know I’m married, right?”

Marcos grinned sheepishly. “I know. You had a fundraising party here last year for the Center, remember?”

“Oh, crap. Yeah.” He’d forgotten all about it. “So why are you here?”

“I need your help. Remember that girl, Marissa?”

“Yes. What happened?” He was starting to regret having shared the information with Marcos. If anything had happened to her as a result, he could lose his job.

“She’s in trouble. She called me from the County Jail up on I Street.”

Brad scratched his chin. “Why did she call you?”

“I don’t know. I left my number for her where she hangs out. I guess I was the only one she could think of.”

“Maybe so. Many of these kids don’t have anyone. Hey, come inside. It’s cold out there.” He let Marcos in and closed the door.

“Who was it?” Sam was standing at the top of the stairs in only his white briefs.

Marcos looked up and whistled.

“Just our web designer.”

Sam blushed. “Um, sorry. I’ll leave you guys alone.” He vanished into the bedroom.

“Come have a seat.” Brad ushered Marcos into their small living room.

“Congratulations, Brad. The hubby’s quite a catch.”

Brad cleared his throat. “Marissa?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry. She said she was framed. She needs me to come get her out, but I don’t think they’ll let me, since she’s underage. You know people there, right?”

Brad nodded. “What was the officer’s name?”

“Um… Donna? Dorothy?”

“Doris?”

“Yes. I think so.”

“I’ll come with you and see what I can do. What will you do if they release her to you?”

Marcos shook his head. “I don’t know yet. Get her home and in a warm bed for tonight. I can figure out the rest tomorrow.”

Brad touched Marco’s shoulder. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because she’s me twenty years ago.”

Brad nodded. “Okay, let’s go. You brought your car?”

Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth

Scott lives with his husband Mark in a little yellow bungalow in East Sacramento, with two pink flamingos by the front porch.

He spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jscoatsworth

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

 

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Filed under Author, Book tour, Contests, just a category, New Release

Community 2018 — Author Kaje Harper on rainbow YA and more (and a giveaway!)

As promised, Kaje Harper visits the blog today! Read on for an interview both fun and thoughtful, and comment below for a chance to win an ebook of your choice from Kaje’s backlist—an opportunity you won’t want to pass up! Click for a post about Kaje’s book, The Family We Make.

Hello Kaje, and welcome to Romance Across the Rainbow on sylvre.com. I’m very pleased to feature you and your work as part of my 2018 series on community. It’s a tough road, these days, being involved in the community of rainbow-friendly “book people.” We’ve seen hard-won human rights erode, and it seems like books with LGBTQIAND (very long acronym, so from now forward I’ll just say “Q,”) characters and content are getting flagged and picked on by everyone from readers on Goodreads to major booksellers. It’s easy to get discouraged, and without support from one another some of us might easily unravel. For this series I’m looking for people who exemplify support among us, those who go out of their way to uphold us in our interwoven Q book community—the warp threads, if you will. I’ve seen you in that role, and I’ll want to talk some about that, but I visited your website and checked out your bio, and I’d like to start with a few questions about you as an author and a human (not necessarily in that order).

Kaje says: Thanks so much for inviting me to be on this bog. (And wow, for including me among the warp threads.)

Q: From these pairs, choose which make your happier: (Note Kaje’s choices are in bold type.

All of them?

Sunshine or Old trees
Wildflowers or Crystals
Sexy humans or Wild horses
Laughter or Sleep
Cat noses or Dog tails
Long books or Walks in the woods

Q: You’ve been writing a long time, but your first publication of a M/M story was 2011. Before being published, what were you writing? What was the theme of the first mature story you remember writing, and why did you choose that theme?

A: I wrote my first M/M novel in 1974, when I was 14. I’d read The Persian Boy by Mary Renault and was deeply affected by the love and loss, and the intrinsic unfairness of the way a gay love story was considered less valid and viable than a straight one. Although my family was quietly committed to equality and social justice, I wasn’t at that time aware of LGBTQ family members, or the specific issues they faced.

After the Renault story, I began reading both non-fiction and fiction with LGBTQ people in them (of which there was not much that didn’t end sadly.) I’d been writing novellas as a young teen, but I was driven to give two gay men a love story that had a deservedly sweet, secure, and happy ending. I wrote (but didn’t try to publish) all sorts of stories in many genres over the subsequent years, most with gay main characters.

Q: Are there authors within the community of Q writers who significantly influenced your own writing? Particular books? If so, who and why?

A: Besides The Persian Boy, I was inspired by Patricia Nell Warren’s The Front Runner. I read both books when I was a teenager. Both shone with their portrayal of love between two men that was human and deep and undeniable, set against a society that devalued, demeaned, denied, and destroyed it.

I read very little genre M/M for the first few decades I was writing it (and no slash fanfic, although I wrote some in those pre-Internet days.) I read other books with gay and bi characters (like Diane Duane’s The Door Into Fire or Tany Huff’s The Fire’s Stone, or Michael Nava’s Henry Rios mysteries.) Then when my husband began pushing me to publish, I had just read and loved James Buchanan’s M/M mystery Hard Fall. The characters and story felt like the kind of thing I was trying to write, and my first submission was to James’s publisher, MLR press.

Q: Ever since I started sylvre.com, I’ve asked every featured author this question. What are the hottest 50 words you’ve ever written. Feel free to fudge on the word count, and to define “hottest” according to your own lights.

A: Wow. Sex scenes are not my forte. I mainly want the heat to convey important things about the characters or story. Maybe this one, from Learning Curve, the 4th book in the “Life Lessons” series. (And I’m fudging a lot on the word count)

“Yeah, oh yeah!” Mac shook so hard he almost threw Tony off him, coming in hot, slick spurts over Tony’s hand. Tony fucked him through it, not slowing, until Mac’s gasps became whimpers. Then he moved his hands back to Mac’s hips, straightened to watch the force of his paler body driving against Mac’s big, dark frame in that mirror. And came, in uncontrolled, shaking pulses, deep inside Mac’s ass.

Afterward, they stood there, trembling, as the color ebbed from their foreheads and necks, and muscles twitched and relaxed. Mac’s back was sweaty and warm under Tony. Tony slipped free and Mac grunted, bringing his legs together stiffly. Tony planted a hand on his spine to keep him bent over, though.

“Look in that mirror,” he whispered. “There. That stunning, big, dark man, and that smaller guy. That’s you and that’s me. And that’s fucking hot and gorgeous and just about perfect. That’s as gay as an Easter parade, and still completely about two real men. Your family can throw insults, and they can shun us, but they can’t make that less than fucking perfect.”

He waited, his gaze boring into Mac’s in the mirror, until Mac nodded. Tony took his hand away.
Mac turned and hugged him, leaning over to bury his face in Tony’s neck. “You, um, undo me. Every time.”

Q: You live in Minnesota and you love it, I see. Are the people in your life—family and community—aware that you write rainbow-friendly books? If so, do you find people to be accepting and supportive? Is Minnesota in general a forward-looking state in terms of human rights and protections?

A: Minnesota’s a good state for LGBTQ rights and human rights, in the Midwest. We were the first state to reject a one-man-one-woman amendment by popular vote. Obviously it’s far from uniform across the state. We have a relatively liberal urban population, and more conservative outstate one. Some of our schools have significant issues with homophobia, but there is more access to LGBTQ support and resources here than in many states. Our Medicaid and ACA plans must cover trans health procedures, including surgery, which many states don’t.

Most people in my life know what I write, including my husband, kids, brothers, friends, employer, and coworkers, parents of kids’ friends, and random folk like bank tellers if they asked when I deposited my Amazon checks. If they don’t, it’s because the topic hasn’t come up. Part of my supporting the community is being out and visible about it, from the bumper stickers on my car to discussing the books I write.

But I’m also relatively safe in doing so. My family is liberal. I’m white, het, married, and middle class. If it had cost me my job, I have the skills to find another. I have occasionally had someone preach at me over my bumper stickers (and once threaten me, after Trump won the election), and I’ve disconcerted the occasional friend or acquaintance, but not more than that. I’d never pass judgment on someone who’s not in the same position, and chooses to keep it quiet. I’m lucky, and I know it.

Q: You have written a few YA books and are a moderator in the Goodreads YA LGBT books group. How did that role come about? Why did you decide that group was an important place to spend your time and effort? How important is it that we support and promote Q YA books, those (especially the youth) who read them, and the authors who write them? Is there anything you believe people can do to get these books into the hands of young people, and do you think it’s important to target only Q youth as potential readers, or should that target readership be broadened to include all young readers? Please explain your answer.

A: The group began as an M/M YA offshoot of the M/M Romance group, when an underage gay boy really wanted to join that one and couldn’t. The M/M mods ran it first, and I joined – I’ve always read YA. At a time when they were very short of help, I volunteered to co-moderate. Real-life demands for the others made me the most active moderator for the last few years (although Sammy does what she can, given family and health crises she’s had. May she finally have a good year to come!) We now have 7100 members.

I think YA LGBTQ books are vitally important. They give those teens and the people around them, including their peers, real, positive, and varied depictions of the lives of young people who identify as gender and sexual minorities. For many of our older members (and we have all ages from 13 to “older than dirt” as one guy said) books were their first view into a world where people like them were normal and accepted and could expect full lives. Many cite Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn as the first time they saw a gay boy as a hero, and gay love shown as something good.

Even today, despite online images, and real life role models, books have an important place Some teens still tell us that reading a YA story was their first chance to see people like them celebrated (especially our small-town and international teens.) Some found their identity and words for the feelings they were confused by in the pages of a book, (particularly some of our gender-questioning teens.)

Another factor is that, while there are now quite a few out celebrities, and porn of all kinds is easy to find, neither of those address important issues of day to day life of an LGBTQ teen. Things like dating, coming out, relationships, the role of sex, family issues, school issues – all of those may be found more easily and relatably in fiction.

Sex ed in schools often does not cover non-hetro relationships. Porn says nothing about real sex beyond (often idealized) mechanics, and yet sadly, that’s the model for some of our teens on relationships. Group members say they turned to fiction for the parts beyond “insert tab A in slot B.” While YA should not have erotic sex on page, it can and does cover a lot of the important parts of emotions, joys, and consequences of LGBTQ relationships, including sex.

I think it’s important that straight, cisgender people have access to those stories too. I love the rising popularity of books like Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and its movie, Love, Simon, and fantasies like Carry On, or The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Those stories make readers more open to the rainbow of people around them. We’re seeing trans prom queens and kings, and out gay teen couples, and I think that real teens are benefiting from open representation everywhere, including books.

Getting more books into teen hands is a goal with many approaches. Reviewing, discussing, buying, and voting for these books helps. Last year in the open “Goodreads Choice” awards with millions of members, there were more than 15 YA nominees with either primary or secondary LGBTQ characters. Requesting them at libraries helps. My group has done book drives for teen libraries of several sorts, including school Gay-Straight Alliances. We also have free short stories posted monthly, and link free books, sales, and discounts.

I think we still need more diverse stories. We’re particularly short of stories that feature POC main characters. Minority teens are among those most short of role models and accurate pictures of lives like theirs. We also could use more stories of bisexual, transgender, non-binary, and asexual teens. Looking for and supporting own-voices authors is important.

But I’m heartened by the progress being made, including more stories for middle schoolers and even kids, and the ways they can bring change. One Wisconsin school class was planning to read “I Am Jazz” about a trans girl, and bigots forced them to cancel. Following the cancellation, organizers arranged a reading of the book at a library nearby. The lead organizer, said she was hoping for about 15 people to show up. The reading instead drew almost 600 from the local community in support. Books can make a difference.

Q: In your online presence, you often choose to speak up for accuracy when a misleading story (or “fake news”) is posted, even when (or perhaps especially when?) the stories would, if they were true, support the “left,” which is where we expect Q support to be strongest. Tell us, if you will, about why you do that.

A: We’ve all seen photoshops (like Emma Gonzales ripping the constitution,) and audio pasted on video (like Bernie Sanders entering to a homophobic song.) These techniques are getting more sophisticated all the time. It’s incumbent on us, if we want our kids to survive the next century, to do our very best to find facts, support fact-checking organizations, and to take down lies even if they appeal to us. It’s been shown that Russia, among others, has been working to divide opinion by formulating lies to appeal to both sides. Opinion manipulation is a fast-growing science and social media right now is our training ground, learning to fact-check and double-check and not let ourselves be suckered in.

I check progressive stories and memes more, because I know my own confirmation biases. I want those to be true, and with my friend base, I see far more of them. But I also fact-check my small number of conservative online friends. They are well-meaning people too, and it’s scary to realize how easy it is to convince people of lies, given enough authority behind the story, or enough appeal to how it’s written.

We must not condone or make important decisions based on lies. These days, with the line between satire and news razor thin, and so many news sources, it can be hard to tell. I’ve pulled down a few stories that I shared myself, that I later checked further and debunked, or found were shaded beyond truth.

I’m sure I sometimes come off as officious, fact checking others – people say “it could be true, what’s the harm, it’s typical anyway.” Some are grateful, but some are annoyed. But as a scientist, I think checking the facts and ethics of the views I support is part of being a responsible, ethical adult.

Q: What do you have coming up for readers?

A: I just rereleased a fantasy novella – Gift of the Goddess – about a man who’s determined to rescue his kidnapped lover, and as a last resort, petitions the Goddess on his lover’s behalf. He’s not expecting an answer, particularly the one he gets.

I’m editing an indie novel about a gay man with seven cats and Crohn’s Disease, and a bisexual veterinarian. I’m also in edits with Dreamspinner Press on a novella in their “States of Love” series about two small-town young men in the city, one a college student, the other a failed dairy farmer. And I’m really hoping to get the third Tracefinder book back on track soon.

(Kaje Harper May 2018)

Thank you Kaje, for visiting Romance Across the Rainbow, for your insightful answers, and for a pleasant chance to get to know you. I hope you’ll visit again! And readers, thank you for being here as always and don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win an e-book of your choice from Kaje’s backlist.

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Filed under authors, community, Contests, Interviews, just a category

If you entered the contest in my last post, you may be interested in a couple more chances to enter. Visit my post at Love Bytes reviews, and while you’re there, you can read a sexy excerpt from A Shot of J&B and take a look at a sexy guy enjoying his night. Here’s the link: http://goo.gl/X9do4k. 🙂

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by | March 8, 2015 · 1:16 pm

HAHAT 2014 blog and giveaway—Celebrate, but stay for the long haul, because *this is beautiful*

HAHAT 2014

Another year has gone by, and equal marriage rights have been popping up all over the USA.

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is a yearly event on May 17th, and the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia is one way some of us bloggers participate. (Click that link for a list of all participating blogs!) Since last May, the US Supreme Court has made a landmark decision, believe it or not, helping to prevent California state law from undermining marriage rights for people who love another of their own gender. And several states have found their conscience and passed laws equalizing marriage rights. And some state courts have overturned bans. Even the IRS has joined in to treat people in same-sex marriages equally with their heterosexual counterparts. The list of accomplishments goes on—there’s a lot to celebrate. In that spirit

I’m giving away $15.00 in money for (what else) books from Dreamspinner Press.

All you have to do to enter is comment below, naming the one event since May 2013, personal or public, that most spurred your hope for equality. You don’t have to use a lot of words, a few will do and they don’t have to be fancy. I just want to cheer when I read your comment. 🙂

But I’m no believer in blind optimism. I think there are many good reasons to hope and envision a day when who a person loves is not hung from the town hall for public judgment. We’re not there yet, though. I recently was asked why I write homophobic events into my stories. Well, my characters are gay. I’m bisexual. Homophobic stuff happens. Hate crimes happen. Bullying and abuse of LGBTQ spectrum teens continues to happen, be tolerated by some who should know better, and to cause despair to the point of suicide. And as for marriage equality, here is a map of the US. After you’ve looked at the map,

consider this: Only the solid dark blue states have fully legalized same-sex marriage. I count sixteen.

For a greater eye opener, look at the full legend, here.
US states by same sex marraige status

Honey, we have a long way to go, just for the legal stuff! Changing minds and hearts, stopping homophobia and transphobia, is another layer—a thicker, crustier, more corrosive one, and it moves glacially slow. I remind myself of this so that I

don’t lose heart, and do dig in for the long haul

.

Why does it matter?

Because this is beautiful:


logo web (smaller) jpg

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Filed under Contests, HAHAT 2014, homophobia, Marriage equality

Three Authors, Three Giveaways: Rainbow Gold chat 3/31

VJ 4 covers by Monique
Join me (Lou Sylvre), Violet Joicey-Cowen, and Teodora Kostova on March 31st, 1:00 PM Pacific, 10:00 AM Eastern! We’ll be chatting for one hour on Rainbow Gold. (That’s a link, click to go there.)

Teodora Stoyanova DanceWe’ll each be giving away a book. It should be fun, so come on by! violet joicey-cowen The Choosing

It’s going to be a Rafflecopter giveaway , multiple chances to enter, easy peasy!

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Filed under authors, Contests, Vasquez & James

Saint Valentine’s Equal Marriage Connection (and what do Wolves have to do with Valentine’s Day, anyway?)

2014 blog hop picThis is my post for The Power of Gay Love 2014 Blog Hop. At the end, I’ll tell you how you can win $14.00 to spend on sexy, romantic books at Dreamspinner Press.

Every year, chocolatiers and florists make an unholy mint on February 14th, Valentine’s day. Couples are making their first declarations of love (or lust as the case maybe), others proposing marriage, and others smiling, crying, or quaking through their wedding vows. Thank all the powers that be, in some states, some of those couples who are getting married are gay.

But what makes February 14th the romantic pinnacle of the year? The day is named after a Christian (Catholic) Saint who allegedly was martyred on that day. Yes, martyred, as in put to death whilst taking a stand for a cause, which doesn’t seem very romantic, in the sense of love and happily ever after. Of course, as soon as someone says that, someone’s conscience will lead them to proclaim that, like just about every other “Christian” holiday, the celebration had pagan origins—and they’re right.

In fact, ancient Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 13th – 15th,, commemorating (who else?) Romulus and Remus, the twin hotties who, after being suckled by a wolf in a cave called the Lupercal, grew up to found Rome. “Ah,” you say, glancing back at my title. “There is the wolf connection, right there.” Well, yes, but the connection is multi-faceted and a lot more convoluted. You see, the festival was connected with the Roman God Lupercus, represented by a wolf, who strangely enough was the God of shepherds. Yes, Roman shepherds worshipped the wolf—and I’m sure they had their reasons. During the festival a goat (standing in for a sheep?) and a dog (standing in for a wolf?) were sacrificed, and salt cakes prepared by vestal virgins were burnt. Okay, vestal virgins/romance, a vague connection, but a step further reveals that Lupercus was sometimes identified with Faunus, the Roman version of Pan.

Okay, Pan. Not so much romance, but hot sex with glorious abandon. That’s possibly a connection. And in fact, before the Roman holiday, a Greek festival on the ides (13th) of February celebrated Lykaia (the wolf-god) and Pan (the pleasure and chaos god, or at least that’s how I like to think of the little devil).

But we’re still a far cry from the public vow of love (or at least commitment) which we know as marriage, and especially (see title of post), equality of marriage rights. For that, we must return to the story of the martyr, Valentine. There are many stories about the man, but it is agreed he was a real fellow and did indeed get martyred on February 14th by the Roman emperor Claudius II in the 3rd century of the common era (AD). One story about why he was martyred… wait for it… wait for it… he was performing marriages for Christians! Apparently, Christians in 3rd century Rome did not enjoy marriage equality, and our dear Saint Valentine defied the powers that were, either just because he wanted to, or because he believed love is love, marriage is marriage. (Or else he didn’t do it at all, as no one knows for sure.)

To further muddy the waters, there are a dozen or so Saints Valentine. That’s unimportant, as the February 14th date is definitely connected with the forward thinker I mentioned above, identified for disambiguation as Valentine of Rome. But it does tickle the imagination—what if we celebrated a smexy holiday for each of them?

As a last little tidbit of information, in medieval times, Valentine’s Day may already have been a celebration of love, courtly and/or marital. Chaucer took note that on February 14th, birds find their mates. Also humans, for he wrote:

For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day when every foul (fool) cometh ther (sic) to choose his mate.

So, go forth and give chocolates, send bouquets, kiss, make love, and marry the person of your dreams no matter the gender and (possibly thanks to Saint Valentine) even if you’re Christian.

So yeah, comment below, tell me something lovely about Valentine’s day, or the reason you loathe it, if that’s the case, and you’ll be in the drawing for $14 spending cash at Dreamspinner–and they just happen to be having a sale!

,p>

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Filed under 2014 The Power of Gay Love Blog Hop, Contests, Dreamspinner Press

And the HAHaT winner is…

Penumbra! Congratulations! Thank you to all who participated in the hop, read A special thank you to the HAHaT organizers and the people who keep the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (otherwise known as IDAHO) afloat.

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Filed under Contests, homophobia

HAHaT 2013: Thoughts About Legalities, Love, Fear… oh, and there’s a freebie

Hello blog-hoppers! This post is my contribution to the Blog Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, or HAHaT 2013. I hope tons of you visit, and we can discuss some serious matters, while having some fun, too. Read all the way to the end to find out about the small but noticeably free-of-charge thing I’d love to give you…

The hop supports the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Undoing the knotted mass of threads that is homophobia/transphobia is a necessary focus, because, well, it’s all over the place and it’s messed up.

“But,” you or someone you know says, “it’s all coming up roses, isn’t it? Laws are being passed, people are getting married. It’s a brighter day!”

Yes! It is a brighter day, indeed!

But before we assume that laws leaning more toward fairness and equality mean the demise of fear and hate, let’s think about history. Some questions to ponder:

  • Did legalizing the right of women to vote and work give them equal standing in the community? (If you think so, you and I should talk.)
  • Did abolishing legal slavery create attitudes of fairness and equality toward African Americans?
  • Did laws prohibiting brutality lead to the end of child abuse?

In the USA, we’ve had eleven states (I think) pass laws saying GLBTQ people can marry. In some of those states, the spouses can also adopt children, should they wish. These changes have led to many lovely, loving moments and years, and beautiful images, for us all to cherish, that have made it into our lives.

Like this one:

And this one:

But eleven states is only twenty-two percent of all the possibilities. To me, the progress of human rights in terms of marriage equality has seemed like a snowball rolling downhill. But there is no guarantee that the ball will keep rolling! If anything, I think this is the point in the battle when so much can go wrong, simply by virtue of a broader, shifting field–and this is even more true because the fight for fair laws is an international one.

And the fight for legal equality is also, moreso, a fight for the hearts of all good people.

Forgive me, for I am about to commit the fiction writer’s sin of thinking all points can be illustrated by a scene in their novel. No, really. This is a very brief excerpt from Saving Sonny James, the finale to the Vasquez and James series, which has been submitted to the publisher a few days ago, but not yet accepted. Here, Luki and Sonny have recently been through hell (which anyone who’s read the series has come to expect 🙂 ). In this case, hell is in Paris, France, where equal marriage has recently been codified as law, in the real world.

The black car rolled up to the embassy, an elegant building with an expanse of lawn, a pair of huge flags—US and France, and a red-trimmed, white fabric canopy over the entry walk. Jean Baptiste let them out at the street curb, and they walked along a paved semicircle drive, hand-in-hand, though they weren’t conscious of it until they got some looks from the Gendarmerie in their peaked hats. Sonny might have tried to extract his hand, but Luki held on tight and gave one or two of the gendarmes his iciest look.

When they reached the canopy, he quietly said to Sonny, “Tell me those bigots don’t have the power to make you ashamed of me… or of who you are.”

“Of course not, Luki!” Sonny was emphatic, but he chuckled and added, “But they do seem to have the power to make me nervous.”

Luki glanced sideways at him and back at the police—whose attention had gone elsewhere, now—“Fuck ‘em, baby. We’re legal in this country, you know. Just like at home.”

“Yeah but honey, when Washington State decided we could marry, that was a vote of the people, and the people that didn’t like it didn’t join up in mobs and start beating people up and killing folks wholesale in the street. Here…”

Luki heaved a tired sigh. “I know, but it’s—”

“Safer to be right up front with it. I agree. Thanks for holding my hand, husband.”

I invite your comments and discussion! I’d love to hear about fictional characters (movies, books, TV, ballads, whatever) that have put the haters in their place. Can be humor or badass-ness, or whatever. Tell me about your fave, and you’re in the drawing for a $15 certificate for Dreamspinner Press, anything at all from their catalog. The contest runs all ten days of the blog hop, and you can enter more than once as long as you have new material in your comment. ‘Kay? Please play! (By the way, I’ve had to put comments on moderate for awhile because of ugly spammers. Please don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away.)

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Filed under Contests, Dreamspinner Press, Finding Jackie, homophobia

Lie to me! And win a free ebook…

A goodly number of people entered the Friday Free for All giveaway last week, but sadly there could be only one winner. So here’s a chance to try again, or to try for the first time.

All you have to do is lie. What could be simpler? Fiction writers do it everyday. (Okay, if you must, you may tell the truth.) Here’s the specs: In 35 words or less

If you entered the contest on Cup-o-Porn, give me the down and dirty on why you should have been the winner.

If you didn’t enter the contest on CoP, tell me why you wanted to but didn’t.

Simple, right? As usual, you may enter with a comment here, or on my Goodreads blog(which is this contests true home) or email me at lou(dot)sylvre(at)gmail(dot)com. I’ll run the contest for a week, and pick a wiinner in a completely subjective fashion.

So, lie to me, okay? Please.
Oh, and if you already have an ebook of Loving Luki Vasquez and want to lie just for fun, please do.

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Freebie: Loving Luki Vasquez for the cost of a comment

Go here to Cup-o-Porn and get a free ebook version of Loving Luki Vasquez just for making a comment.

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