It can be more than just a dream...
To write the kind of stories that you love to read - that's what you really want. If only you knew how to get started.
*Help from someone who knows...*
What you need is professional advice, help from someone who's been there, who can support you through the creative process, with the goal of writing for publication. What you need is Man, Oh Man.
So, why this book...
Why not one of the other "How to Write..." titles? Because everything in Man, Oh Man is geared to the M/M market and the M/M writer, to you and the genre that you love, whether you're an aspiring writer or you're already published.
Lambda Award finalist Josh Lanyon takes you step-by-step through the writing process: from how to find fresh ideas and strong hooks, to how to submit your carefully edited manuscript. With help from the genre's top publishers, editors, reviewers, and writers - experts in the field of M/M and gay romantic fiction - Lanyon offers insight and experience in everything from creating believable masculine characters to writing erotic and emotionally gratifying M/M sex scenes.
Indulge yourself and your dreams...
It's within your grasp to be a published author in a growing market. Man, Oh Man shows you exactly how to do it.
Interview for MAN. OH MAN: WRITING M/M FICTION FOR KINKS AND CA$H: Josh Lanyon interviews Elisa (from Elisa: once in a while, it's my turn to answer the questions :-) )
Josh: How long have you been reading M/M fiction? About how many stories do you read/review a month?
Elisa: I started reading M/M fiction more or less 1 year and half ago. My first romance with an M/M relationship in it was “Ménage” by Emma Holly, but in the end the M/F couple wins over the M/M one, so it’s not really a M/M romance. The first truly M/M romance was “Crossing the Line” by Stephanie Vaughan. I approached the genre through Loose Id publisher and then Torquere Press. Soon after I discovered a lot of other publishers, but Loose Id and Torquere remain my preferred.
I read a lot, you can’t believe how much. For every book I read, I have begun to write a brief review that I archive in my LiveJournal as well in my LibraryThing, so I can give you an exact answer: in ten months I have written 327 reviews, and only few of them are hetero books, so, more or less, I read a book per day, but most of them are short story. So my answer could be, 2 novels per week plus a lot of short stories between them.
As I always say, mine are not really reviews: they are a brainstorming, a way to fix my thought soon after I have finished reading a book. Writing them I have the chance to share my thought with other readers, and I’m happy to do that. This is also the reason why I don’t write about books I didn’t like. Most of the time, if I don’t like a book, I also don’t finish it, so there is no reason to write about it. Recently I have been chosen by two e-publishers as official reviewer and often authors send me their books to review: I’m like this opportunity, ‘cause sometimes I don’t have enough money to buy all the books I’d like to read, but I feel always guilty when I can’t write something about these books, for me not writing is equal to not liking.
Josh: What kind of characters and character dynamic do you like best in M/M fiction?
Elisa: This is a rather common answer I believe. I like the Alpha male/Omega male pair. A strong man with a weaker one. But usually the Omega male is also a smart man. The classical top from the bottom character. This is in absolutely my preferred couple. But I have also read books with a Alpha/Alpha pair: it could be interesting, but very unusual, so I have no chance to fully appreciate this type of relationship. Never read an Omega/Omega pair… but I have the feeling I would not like it.
I like the presence of a Alpha male pair in the story because I like it when my “men” have feelings and they are willing to share them. In a classical romance, the strong male is an action/no words man, and the heroine has to figure him out without any aid from him. And usually the heroine is a spoilt woman who has no interested in understanding his man. A non-communicating couple. Jealousy and trouble are behind the corner.
Josh: What kinds of stories (plots) do you most enjoy in M/M fiction?
Elisa: When I started reading M/M genre the most common plots are the futuristic one and the contemporary. I have never been very fond of the futuristic plot in the traditional romance, but it seems pretty popular in the M/M genre. So I read a lot of futuristic novels, and some of them I like very much, but still it’s not my preferred plot. I think it’s so common because you can imagine that your gay couple is able to do a lot of things that in the real world are forbidden… but this is the reason I don’t like it very much: if they can do everything like a hetero couple, in the end they act like an hetero couple, and they slip in the routine I don’t like in an hetero romance.
So contemporary plots are my preference. I like to read of real life, of the joy and trouble to be a gay couple in a world sometime friendly sometime hostile.
An historical plot? I read some of them, but there are very few examples, and sometime they are only a way to wear your characters in cute dress. Real and accurate plots are rare. I love History, with capital H. I read essays and biography. So my historical romance has to be very good to satisfy me.
Josh: As a non-native English speaker, how important is dialog to you in an M/M novel?
Elisa: Very important. A mix of dialogue and description: both of them of right length. My attention is easily lost if I have no dialogue for too long, but at the same time without description I cannot imagine the story in my mind. Not knowing all the words I read, I try to build the story in my mind and replace the unknowing words with my intuition. I don’t use a dictionary. I skip a word I don’t know and try to understand it in the context of the phrase.
No hiding here. I read romance, and now M/M romance, because I like love story and I read erotica because I like to read sex scenes. But if a book is only an unending sex scene, it lose my attention.
Josh: How important is scene and setting to you in M/M fiction? Can you think of any books where it was done especially well or really added to your enjoyment of the story?
Elisa: Scene and setting is essential for me for the reason above. I build the story in my mind through them. Recommended reads include:
Carolyn Gray in “A Red Tainted Silence” draws a story using essentially the characters’ memories. The setting is almost claustrophobic, an hospital and a house. But in more than 700 pages she manages to keep you linked to the story.
Chris Owen in “Bareback” sets her story in the western world of cowboys. The setting is pretty realistic, a medium size ranch and the life of ranch’s hands. Another long novel which doesn’t need to be cut.
Elisa Viperas in “Dark Lord Seeks Friendship, Maybe More” develops a fantasy world where evil characters are the good one. Only in a fantasy world this is possible, and so the choice is perfect.
Emily Veinglory and her Maewyn Prophecy Series about elves and religion is not an easy reading, and all the series is mostly setting in an house and a nearby abandoned church. After four books and a brief prequel, the setting is still powerful and enthralling.
G.A. Hauser in “For Love and Money” and “The Kiss” builds the entire story with dialogue. She uses the English slang and the American one to underlying the differences between her characters. And like they use imperfect English, they also are imperfect characters.
J.L. Langley in all her books pushes on the humour button. Cowboys, Werewolfes, Futuristic Noblemen, in all you will find the stoic alpha male who has to deal with a troublemaker omega one. Regardless the setting, her factory mark is always recognizable.
Jet Mykles and her Heaven Sent series is all about pretty boys doing pretty boys. Very light-hearted stories, yaoi style, but a very classical theme: Love wins over all. If you want to finds reality, don’t read them; if you want to be entertained and have happy hours without thinking, read them.
Kirby Crow and her Scarlet and The White Wolf series are almost an epic saga. The setting is wonderful, a fantasy world, with drama and betrayal, like a Shakespearean play. Almost no sex, but really you don’t miss it.
Laura Baumbach and her alpha males. Not one in particular. All her stories have a worthy alpha male. Contemporary, Paranormal, Futuristic…all this men want commitment, they are absolutely sure of their love and no one can stand between them and their lover. Not very realistic, but sometime you read to dream.
P.L. Nunn in “Bloodraven” has almost an hard core plot. A love born between a Halfling Ogre and his sex human slave. A love born after rape and non consensual sex. A fantasy world described in details in a very long novel. You have to want to read it, because is not an easy reading.
William Maltese. Not simple. Sex for the sake of sex. Love is not an optional but it is a instinctual love, born from the gut and not from the heart.
Josh: Is there anything -- characters, plot, etc. – that you are tired of seeing? That has worn out its welcome?
Elisa: Not really. I’m a very traditionalist reader. I like to know what happens next and know that the author will not deny me my happily ever after. It is not the plot which is important for me, but how the author deals with the plot. The same story could be a wonderful one or a bad one. All rests on the author’s skill. I like variety and tradition: I like to test new authors and genre but when I find an author I like, I always follow his career reading all he writes.
Josh: Do you have any advice or thoughts for aspiring M/M writers?
Elisa: Share. Make the people know you are writing. Talk, chat, and write. Internet is a wonderful way to keep in touch, to build useful networks. Not leave all in publishers hands, be your first promoter.
Josh: What is it like -- how difficult is it for gay writers in your country? Is there a stigma attached to these books?
Elisa: Absolutely yes. In Italy gay writers can be only intellectual writers. If a gay writes fiction, it can’t be mainstream; he has to use underground channel or very small publishers. It seems like gay writers have to justify themselves by stressing being cultured people: Look I’m gay but I’m also very “intellectual” so being gay is not so important, is it? But really Italian gay writers are very few. Better Italian “openly” gay writers are very few: in Italy coming out is still a taboo, something that brings you to face the public judgment and that can destroy your career. In a country of over 60 million of inhabitants, we have maybe two gay politicians, one writer, two or three entertainers… We have had a great artist, writer, journalist, poet, director: Pier Paolo Pasolini. But he was beaten to death thirty years ago, officially from an hustler: after thirty years, most of the people know him as the “murdered gay writer” and not as the “murdered writer”…
About Josh Lanyon: Josh Lanyon is the author of the Adrien English mystery novels, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews awards for GLBT fiction -- and a Lambda Literary Award finalist.
Josh lives in Los Angeles, California, and is currently at work on the fourth book in the series, Death of a Pirate King, and about a zillion other projects, including the highly anticipated Man, Oh Man!: Writing M/M Fiction for Kinks & Cash.
Title: Dangerous Ground
Price - unknown
Author: Josh Lanyon
Cover Artist: April Martinez
Taylor and Will are relearning to trust each other - and their partnership - after Taylor´s nearly fatal shooting a few months earlier. But their male bonding camping trip in the High Sierras turns into an exercise of survival when they run afoul of the robbers of a Tahoe casino searching for their missing loot.
They had instant black bean soup and the Mexican-style chicken for dinner, and followed it up with the freeze-dried ice cream and coffee.
“It’s not bad,” Taylor offered, breaking off a piece of ice cream and popping it into his mouth.
Actually the ice cream wasn’t that bad. It crunched when you put it into your mouth, then dissolved immediately, but Will said, “What do you know? You’ll eat anything. If I didn’t watch out you’d be eating poison mushrooms or poison berries or poison oak.”
Taylor grinned. It was true; he was a city boy through and through. Will was the outdoors guy. He was the one who thought a week of camping and hiking was what they needed to get back on track; Taylor was humoring him by coming along on this trip. In fact, Will was still a little surprised Taylor had agreed. Taylor’s idea of vacation time well-spent was on the water and in the sun: renting a house boat — like they had last summer — or deep sea fishing — which Taylor had done on his own the year before.
“They never did arrest anyone in connection with that heist, did they?” Taylor said thoughtfully, after a few more minutes of companionable chewing.
Taylor threw him an impatient look. “The robbery at the Black Wolf Casino.”
“Oh. Not that I heard. I wasn’t really following it.” Taylor had a brain like a computer when it came to crimes and unsolved mysteries. When Will wasn’t working, which granted was rarely, the last thing he wanted to do was think about crooks and crime — especially the ones that had nothing to do with them.
But Taylor was shaking his head like Will was truly a lost cause, so he volunteered, “There was something about the croupier, right? She was questioned a couple of times.”
“Yeah. Questioned but never charged.” He shivered.
Will frowned. “You all right?”
“Jesus, Brandt, will you give it a fucking rest!” And just like that, Taylor was unsmiling, stone-faced and hostile.
There was a short, sharp silence. “Christ, you can be an unpleasant bastard,” Will said evenly, finally. He threw the last of his foil wrapped ice cream into the fire, and the flames jumped, sparks shooting up with bits of blackened metal.
Taylor said tersely, “You want a more pleasant bastard for a partner, say the word.”
The instant aggression caught Will off guard. Where the hell had it come from? “No, I don’t want someone more pleasant,” he said. “I don’t want a new partner.”
Taylor stared at the fire. “Maybe I do,” he said quietly.
Will stared at him. He felt like he’d been sucker-punched. Dopey and…off-kilter.
“Why’d you say that?” he asked finally into the raw silence between them.
He saw Taylor’s throat move, saw him swallowing hard, and he understood that although Taylor had spoken on impulse, he meant it — and that he was absorbing that truth even as Will was.
“We’re good together,” Will said, not giving Taylor time to answer — afraid that if Taylor put it into words they wouldn’t be able to go back from it. “We’re…the best. Partners and friends.”
He realized he was gripping his coffee cup so hard he was about to snap the plastic handle.
Taylor said, his voice low but steady, “Yeah. We are. But...it might be better for both of us if we were re-teamed.”
“Better for you, you mean?”
Taylor met his eyes. “Yeah. Better for me.”
And now Will was getting angry. It took him a moment to recognize the symptoms because he wasn’t a guy who got mad easily or often — and never at Taylor. Exasperated, maybe. Disapproving sometimes, yeah. But angry? Not with Taylor. Not even for getting himself shot like a goddamned wet-behind-the-ears recruit. But that prickling flush beneath his skin, that pounding in his temples, that rush of adrenaline — that was anger. And it was all for Taylor.
Will threw his cup away and stood up — aware that Taylor tensed. Which made him even madder — and Will was plenty mad already. “Oh, I get it,” he said. “This is payback. This is you getting your own back — holding the partnership hostage to your hurt ego. This is all because I won’t sleep with you, isn’t it? That’s what it’s really about.”
And Taylor said in that same infuriatingly even tone, “If that’s what you want to think, go ahead.”
Right. Taylor: the guy who jumped first and thought second — if at all — who couldn’t stop shooting his mouth off if his life depended on it — who thought three months equaled the love of a lifetime — suddenly he was Mr. Cool and Reasonable. What a goddamn laugh. Mr. Wounded Dignity sitting there staring at Will with those wide, bleak eyes.
“What am I supposed to think?” Will asked, and it took effort to keep his voice as level as Taylor’s. “That you’re in love? We both know what this is about, and it ain’t love, buddy boy. You just can’t handle the fact that anyone could turn you down.”
“Fuck you,” Taylor said, abandoning the cool and reasonable thing.
“My point exactly,” Will shot back. “And you know what? Fine. If that’s what I have to do to hold this team together, fine. Let’s fuck. Let’s get it out of the way once and for all. If that’s your price, then okay. I’m more than willing to take one for the team — or am I supposed to do you? Whichever is fine by me because unlike you, MacAllister, I —”
With an inarticulate sound, Taylor launched himself at Will, and Will, unprepared, fell back over the log he’d been sitting on, head ringing from Taylor’s fist connecting with his jaw. This was rage, not passion, although for one bewildered instant Will’s body processed the feel of Taylor’s hard, thin, muscular length landing on top of his own body as a good thing — a very good thing.
This was followed by the very bad thing of Taylor trying to knee him in the guts — which sent a new and clearer message to Will’s mind and body.
And there was nothing Will would have loved more than to let go and pulverize Taylor, to take him apart, piece by piece, but he didn’t forget for an instant — even if Taylor did — how physically vulnerable Taylor still was; so his effort went into keeping Taylor from injuring himself — which was not easy to do wriggling and rolling around on the uneven ground. Even at seventy-five percent, Taylor was a significant threat, and Will took a few hits before he managed to wind his arms around the other man’s torso, yanking him into a sitting position facing Will, and immobilizing him in a butterfly lock.
Taylor tried a couple of heaves, but he had tired fast. Will was the better wrestler anyway, being taller, broader, and heavier. Taylor relied on speed and surprise; he went in for all kinds of esoteric martial arts, which was fine unless someone like Will got him on the ground. Taylor was usually too smart to let that happen, which just went to show how furious he was.
Will could feel that fury still shaking Taylor — locked in this ugly parody of a lover’s embrace. He shook with exhaustion too, breath shuddering in his lungs as he panted into Will’s shoulder. His wind was shit these days, his heart banging frantically against Will’s. These marks of physical distress undermined Will’s own anger, reminding him how recently he had almost lost Taylor for good.
Taylor’s moist breath against Will’s ear was sending a confusingly erotic message, his body hot and sweaty — but Christ he was thin. Will could feel — could practically count — ribs, the hard links of spine, the ridges of scapula in Taylor’s fleshless back. And it scared him; his hold changed instinctively from lock to hug.
“You crazy bastard,” he muttered into Taylor’s hair.
Taylor struggled again, and this time Will let him go. Taylor got up, not looking at Will, not speaking, walking unsteadily, but with a peculiar dignity, over to the tent.
Watching him, Will opened his mouth, then shut it. Why the hell would he apologize? Taylor had jumped him. He watched, scowling, as Taylor crawled inside the tent, rolled out his sleeping back onto the air mattress Will had remembered to set up for him, pulled his boots off, and climbed into the bag, pulling the flap over his head — like something going back into its shell.
This is stupid, Will thought. We neither of us want this. But what he said was, “Sweet dreams to you too.”
Taylor said nothing.