Monday, September 15, 2014

Fat Ladies and Swans Sing

My life as a book reviewer at All About Romance, Booklist, and The Romance Reviews has come to an end. 

I pulled the plug a couple of weeks ago when it suddenly occurred to me that if I was going to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a published author, I needed to stop reading so much and start writing.

I'm sure to most people this sounds like common sense, but obviously I had to come to this astounding conclusion the long, painful way.


Truth be known, Dreamspinner Press can take a little credit for my decision.  I signed a contract with them for my novella, "What's in a Name?," to be published right after the first of the year.  It seemed like a conflict of interest that I was reviewing some of their books after signing the contract.

So after kicking the review habit and vowing to work on my fiction writing career, I also contacted my former colleague and friend Shawn Hansen and will be getting together with her in the near future to see what she has to offer as far as promotion is concerned, not only for the novella, but also for the first book in the Vampire's Food Chain series.

But what about the Swan Song, you ask.

A core collection list of gay and lesbian romance novels has gone public in the September 15, 2014, issue of Booklist.  I suggested running a list of "must have" books to editor Donna Seaman earlier this year, and she took my list of 15 proposed titles, whittled it down, added lesbian romances, and voila! a list was born.

Below is the original list and my comments about each title.  I wish each of these books could have been in the list published by Booklist, but alas, there wasn't room.  However, I want the authors to know that I was thinking about them.

Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger (Morrow / PB 0060595833 / EB B001DF4GW4)
            Joie de vivre bubbles out of this story of two men who separated after high school, but never forgot each other.  Twenty years later, college history professor Travis goes searching for his long lost love, Craig.

Beyond Duty by SJD Peterson (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1627980029 / EB B00EAE7HQM)
            Two career Marines are retiring just as "don't ask, don't tell" is being revoked.  Should they come out to their families and friends or stay in the closet?

The Broken Road Cafe by T. A. Webb (Bear on Books / EB B00GENANEU)
            Betrayed by his job and his boyfriend, an attorney decides to run a rural cafe and meets a closeted sheriff.  Blue Ridge Mountain charm and snappy dialog make this change of life story brilliant.

Covet Thy Neighbor by L. A. Witt (Riptide / PB 978-1626490017 / EB B00C0BECZQ)
            A gay minister and an atheist tattoo artist work with homeless GLBT teens and debate whether God loves gays in this gritty, powerful book.

Eddie: Grime Doesn't Pay by Z. A. Maxfield (Loose ID / EB B00GXKWCWA)
            A well-read teacher and a severely dyslexic man become a couple in this exploration of modern technology bringing two dissimilar people together. 

Encore by Shira Anthony (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1627982481 / EB B00GLGZS0O)
            Through the first thirty years of two musicians' lives, the book references the larger world of gays including AIDS and "don't ask, don't tell" and other notable, often horrific milestones, all the while focusing on classical music.

Hound Dog & Bean by B. G. Thomas (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1627983488 / EB B00HYDXYNQ)
            Couched in magical realism and facts about coffee production, the personality of one man brightens and enlivens the life of another whose reliable steadfastness helps ground his flighty lover.

Junk by Josephine Myles (Samhain / EB B00DW47I8I)
            To make his life livable again, a British librarian, nearly trapped in his over-full house, calls on clutter experts, one of whom is also a psychologist.

Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan (Samhain / EB B00CZ8MCG0)
            College roommates are blindsided by love as it sneaks into their friendship and binds them. Particularly charming is one who turns from Lothario to mother hen as he shields the other from potentially debilitating allergens.

Music Box by John C. Houser (Dreamspinner / PB  978-1627984256 / EB B00HYE9EYS)
            Rarely are gay romances about men in middle age, so this interesting, well-written gem shines, despite its themes of bullying, gay bashing and suicide.

The Nothingness of Ben by Brad Boney (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1623801380 / EB B00AC3D9LW)
            When his parents are suddenly killed in an accident, a gay attorney comes home to find his three younger brothers dreading what will happen to them.  Their homophobic relatives want to remove the boys from their brother's custody, but the lawyer battles to keep the family together.

Raining Men by Rick R. Reed (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1623807221 / EB B00D3XHMFW)
            The Lifelong AIDS Alliance and Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) are featured in this gritty story of an out-of-control gay man, whose lover persuades him to get his life in order. 

Screwups by Jamie Fessenden (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1627986595 / EB B00IUMQHOS)
            Two gay college juniors in 1996, one out-and-proud and the other closeted because of his homophobic father and brothers, work through their personal problems in order to come together and find happiness.

Sex & Sourdough by A. J. Thomas (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1627983075 / EB B00HAGFLJM)
            Hiking the Appalachian Trail and the culture of long-distance hikers become the framework bringing together a lupus sufferer, nicknamed "Sourdough" who's an experienced hiker, and "Sex," a naive novice whose boyfriend has dumped him.

Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy (Dreamspinner / PB 978-1613727034 / EBB0094GZ4WA)
            Australian football and art cinema collide as a closeted athlete and a openly gay festival organizer become friends and then lovers to the amazement of their charming, sports-mad friends.

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