Friday, December 18, 2015

Realism in Romance (part deux)

In the M/M romance genre where we have shifters of every kind, vampires (who don't sparkle... that wasn't praise btw sparkly vamps ROCK!), kidnappings and shootings much higher than the national average we have cries for realism.

First, I'll go back to:
1) What is realism?
2) Who defines it?

And I'd like to remind you:
Everyone's experiences are different so your REAL may never have been experienced by me or vice versa. Heaping on judgment doesn't quite work in the scheme of things.

In the M/F romance I wonder if we'd see these criticisms. I'd guess maybe a few. (Hell many of us reading and writing in the M/M romance genre is partly because we couldn't identify with the characters.) But overall I don't think you'll see as many vocal complaints by readers. Why is that virgin having multi-orgasms? Why isn't he shooting off in her mouth? Why is she tolerating his sexist behavior? Why... You get the idea.

But why is there such an outcry in the M/M romance genre?

In my humble opinion I think that's because in Het Romance there's a clearer line between fiction and romance.  M/M romance has become a catch all for gay stories that haven't found a home elsewhere.

I think that's awesome and great... more the merrier!!!

What I don't find great is when I'm at a romance convention and I'm told that romance is a lesser form of literature. I'm not happy when readers of romance are laughed at or made fun of because they enjoy characters who are left or right of the spectrum of average... or certain activities squick them out.

Recent Facebook exchange about using spit as lube.
Does it happen in real life sex situations? Yes.
Is it comfortable? NOT always & especially not when the spit dries up it can hurt the fucker and fuckee... unless the ass is quite spaceous...  or maybe the couple are into pain (which is fine but then reader needs to know that & can cheer YEAH MAKE HIM HURT!)

May I suggest instead of laughing at readers who has an issue with this realism you must write to be true to the story HELP THE READER! Bring the reader deep into the heads of the guys who OMFG just have to have each other now. Make the reader pant so hard they are cheering the guys on. And go ahead and show the realism of what happens to dick and asshole when the spit runs out.

I read a M/M scene in a M/F romance using only spit and was horrified. (BTW I'm not against only using spit especially for quick cummers) The lack of intimacy hurt my heart for the characters... the lack of lube was a symptom of the lack of caring between two characters in love for years.

Let's remember gay fiction is different than gay romance. Don't judge one book by another genre's criteria.

I'm not saying realism doesn't have a place in romance but let's bring the reader's with us and be clear some reader's don't want/need the level of realism a writer is pressed bring out in the pages of a book. Absolutely your right as an author. But then accept the romance reader might not be thrilled with that realistic detail... or maybe they will. (KNOW THY TARGET AUDIENCE)

Hugs, Z.


















Thursday, December 10, 2015

Realism in Romance

When we talk about realism in romance:

1) Who defines reality
2) What is that reality

We each have a unique set of experiences and filters…
The world is a diverse and wonderful place. How I might experience might be different than someone else experiences it... and that's okay.



Just because it's not your reality doesn't mean it's not someone else's...


I know some readers require more “realistic” story lines, characters and plot with more grit.  I’m one of the many readers who pick up a romance to escape “reality”. My preference is happy fluffiness. And that bleeds over into my writing...


Sometimes I wonder how much reality people are looking for... There’s a lot of REALITY I don’t usually include in my romances not because I'm clueless but because these are things that don't up the romance factor for me as a reader/writer. (Adjusting my beret & shrugging)

Here’s some that come to mind:

*Come streaked brown leaking out of a gaping asshole (BTW realistic when one has anal sex)
*Hemorrhoids & anal tears & bleeding
*Stealthing (act of pretending to wear a condom than not)
*Gift giving (knowingly transmitting a disease usually refers to HIV)
*Bug chasers (knowingly seeking to catch a disease)
*Men who have sex with men just to get off and don’t fall in love with a hookup/rentboy
*Going to the bathroom (bodily functions don't excite me... so you can imagine golden showers aren't my cup of tea either... hee hee yeah I know what I did there...)
*Certain fetishes or sexual practices
*Unhappily ever afters/bitter sweet/meaningful but not happy endings

You get the idea… I as a romance writer simply don’t want to go there…

Reality I would/have put in a romances that can/do annoy readers:

*Sex that is it just for the sake of sex
*Characters having a ton of sex (based on their age=realism)
*Sometimes it takes more than a few pages for a character to accept something (especially a perceived change/adjustment in their orientation)
*Misunderstandings: can and do affect how people act which can spiral out of control based on assumptions (Has happened to me many times)
*Insta-love happens in reality (I’m a product of it)
*Characters who aren’t like your average people (Lots of different people in the world and I enjoy writing about people who are atypical… I worship the fringes and enjoy the edges)
*Orientations: Aren’t just three little boxes so I explore them and try show the variations within each.
*Troupes are troupes because they do tend to happen in real life…

Reality necessary in a romance is in the eye of the reader.

As a reader I pay careful attention to the author’s brand… I know authors try REALLY hard to clarify themselves so the readers know what they’d be getting (aka how much reality will be injected into the romance).

May you always have as romance as you want.

Hugs, Z. 


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Yaoi in The Economist????

Over Thanksgiving my father-in-law (who is a super cool guy) asked if I heard about this thing called Yaoi… (He knows I write rainbow romance). I nodded and said "Yes that’s what I sort of write." He let me know it’s becoming popular… He’d read an article in The Economist...

Let me type that again… The Economist discussed YAOI!!! WOW! Being treated as the oddity for so long when someone comes along and says "Hey what you're doing is 'something'"… the validation feeds your soul.

Why is Yaoi/Slash Fanfiction popular?

At Yaoi Con 2010 I remember rushing off to a panel discussion on this topic. I wanted some answers damn it! Someone explain to me why I need to see and write about gay romance? Why does this trigger something deep and very primal in the fans?

No answers just more questions were found...

The Economist estimated 275 million people in China enjoy Danmei (romantic/sexual stories about two men). I lived in Suzhou China for six years and “gay” as the West knows it doesn’t exist (except in the dark corners & very tiny pockets). My friends (including people I know who were involved with a same sex partner) told me Chinese people aren’t gay… ????? (Statistically impossible!) But people who I met and watched in the only gay bar in Suzhou were all married to the opposite sex and were passing around pics of their children. For most people, gay wasn't part of their identity just something they did when they could slip out of the house...

((I'd love to see how Danmei affects LGBTQIA understanding/rights in China in the year 2030))

The year after I left 2007 the government decided to do a crack down on pornography aka targeting people who wrote Danmei. April 18 2014 Twenty people were arrested for writing male/male fanfic. Many of them continue to do so if The Economist chart is to be believed. 

                                        


Why are these women driven to continue to write/read even though it is illegal? In the West why do some of us read and write it even though we receive censure from society, some of our families, some of our friends and hell there's even people in own romance genre shaking their head at us? WHY?


Lots of Reasons 

Keep in mind these are my own personal opinions based on watching interactions at Yaoi Con, on Facebook, at the GRL (Gay Romance Literature Retreat), Twitter, conversations with readers, writers, fans of Yaoi & M/M romance, private messages and e-mails. (So not all reasons are listed...)


1) Gender Identity: 

If you don’t identify with your assigned sex at birth reading/writing Yaoi or M/M romance is a way to experience what you (for whatever reason) can not live or reinforces how you are living. It’s a vent for gender identity expression. Many gender queer/non-binary/gender non-conforming people express their sexuality in a different ways. Some people assigned female at birth express in more masculine ways & they might identify with male attitudes…Yaoi gives that a voice with characters that make sense to them.

2) Women & Sex: 

People assigned female at birth have certain expectations placed on them regarding sex. (This is changing but it’s there and constant).

Here’s some of the messages society has tried to rain down on my head since birth:

*Women aren’t supposed to want/enjoy sex… those that do must be sluts.
*Women shouldn’t masturbate.
*Women are the gatekeepers of sexuality so they need to be careful with it (Careful how you dress/act you don’t want the male of the species to lose their minds…)
*Rape (even though it’s about violence and not sex) Victims are blamed because of action,dress, environment
*3+ women are KILLED every day in the USA due by their domestic partners (& there doesn't seem to be a lot done about changing the value society places on women)
*Women (for the most part) are not valued as much as men (wage gap, glass ceiling, different expectations=self fulfilling prophecy that usually are not about success...)
*Women's reproductive freedom is questioned. (Some would like people assigned female at birth not to be able to make decisions about their own bodies…)
*Women aren’t given the same freedom to explore their sexuality (teenaged boys are given a free pass to sow their “wild oats” while girls better save it for marriage or keep it quiet about it)
*Sex is for procreation.
*Women receive messages everywhere about the roles they should be playing. What markets target them as the audience... what does that say about where their attention should be?

These and many other messages may contribute to why some people assigned female at birth to dissociate from their own sexuality.  Slash/Yaoi/ M/M romance is a venue that gives a place to explore, reconnect, experience what society has tried to steal.

3) Rebelling against norms that don’t fit. 

When I read most (not all but most) M/F romances I wanna throw up in my mouth. Why? I can’t identify with either character. I wouldn’t make those decisions (BTW I’d not wait until page 68 to do something sexual & I’d SWALLOW). Pregnancy does not make a happily ever after complete. The inequality makes me ill because it feels like we are reinforcing sexist norms. ETC.

Yaoi removes society's expectations on what people in the relationships are supposed to do. (Granted you have the semi & the uki but well worn pathways of how females react is absent because there usually isn't a female main character). Gender lines might be blurred. It's easier to see different outcomes because the usual rules/troupes don't have to apply.


4) Sex in Yaoi: 

I like that sex isn’t shrouded in an off the page mystery. It’s dealt with head on usually in graphic detail. (It may reconnect the reader back to their own sexuality that society tried to swipe…) Or maybe it just turns the reader on… you know what? GOOD! That’s okay. Sexual excitement is wonderful and fingers crossed it will lead to an orgasm… I will always come down on the side of sex positive expressions. (Non-con & self-lubrication are discussions for another blog post).

5) Validation:

A reader who is gender queer/non-binary/non-gender conforming finds validation in seeing a story with characters they can identify with… making decisions they would make… let’s the person feel less isolated.

There’s a bunch of other reasons and sub-reasons and it varies from reader to reader. The fact that The Economist is discussing Yaoi/Danmei… is an incredibly positive thing.


We can discuss the pitfalls of Yaoi another day (because there are many) but I believe by women reading and enjoying Yaoi (M/M romance) allows them to connect (for a variety of reasons) with characters who are on the rainbow. Since the last study I read suggested women were the primary care takers of kids 83% of the time I believe mommies being rainbow positive is a wonderful thing. It fosters understanding and acceptance which is passed on to the next generation!


Psst, yup that's right that's my agenda: To increase understanding and acceptance of the rainbow.  (Too many people suffer from intolerance) Honestly I'm good with Yaoi being a venue to do that. I'm a firm believer in using all the tools in the toolbox! (Yaoi might be a gateway from some... Sure it may start out as ogling men...but the readers start to really care about the characters and usually that morphs into a deeper understanding and acceptance of not only LGBTQIA but of ourselves. Most of the readers and writers of Yaoi I know fight, vote, and support equality.) Whatever brings us closer to everyone believing LOVE IS LOVE... I'm all for it. I hope you are too!


Hugs, Z.


Articles referenced:
http://www.economist.com/news/china/21678255-homoerotic-fiction-doing-surprisingly-wellamong-straight-women-click-bait
http://www.dailydot.com/geek/in-china-20-people-women-arrested-for-writing-slash



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gender Queer

 (From Dictionary.com)


It's a hard definition to pin down because personal experience, expression... repression affects how each person relates to this word.

Gender queer is a spectrum like every other identity and orientation.

Let's play show & tell...




Big hugs,
Z. Allora













Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ode To The BIG MISUNDERSTANDING

Oh, I’m aware how some readers HATE the big misunderstanding.(SHRUGGING) I don’t know about you but throughout my life goofy things have happened or I thought one thing was the cause but actually it was another.

Many wrong interpretations of words and actions impact life.

Granted the “too stupid to live ones” annoy EVERYONE. Juliet offing herself before checking to see if the jackass Romeo was really dead. (Come on Billy S. come on enough with the morality tale)

Drastic measures=major overreactions  (My boyfriend didn’t respond to a text therefore I moved across country changing my name and we lost contact for forty years...) Seems intense and maybe something more was at play then the text...

I try to judge romance novel misunderstandings through the eyes of the characters:  Their Age, Their Filters, Their Location Or A Combination of Factors are determine how realistic the BIG misunderstanding troupe is...

Age of the characters: needs to be taken into account. Looking at my own actions/beliefs from when I was younger 18 or 20… I think WOW, no way in FUCK would I have said or done that. How could I have thought that? Why did I see this person’s action as so much stronger than it was? Why did I react that way?


Illusions & Dreams: At 23 my beautiful Boon-nam launches head over heels in love with a bad boy while her bestie Lalana 28 dig in her heels and fights her feelings for Randy because her experience tells her she’ll be hurt by the man she has feelings for... The younger inexperienced 23 year old whose never had her heart crushed is open to love where Lalana’s age and experience gives her more caution.


Filters: Everything we see, hear, and experience is put through our personal filters. Our filters have developed over our life time: childhood, where have you lived, education, acceptance and expression of our sexuality & gender identity, family interactions, jobs, experiences, travel, love/sexual relationships, interactions with others, etc. So many things build our network of how we process information.


>>>This is why it can be difficult to really understand someone else’s actions or words. We don’t have their filters and are forced to process their actions by our own filters.  The actions may or may not make sense with our filters.

Finally Fallen:

Dusty Davis has two younger brothers who he’s had a big part in raising. He was forced to remain calm when crazy happened and he cast used to the role of fixer/caretaker his entire life. So when Justin Cohen’s hot mess of a past comes up… Dusty bounces it and finds workable solutions. When Dusty’s mom goes off on him he remains calm. He rolls with whatever life throws at him because his filters developed into less reacting and more finding a solution where Justin’s original filters told him to head for the hills and avoid problems instead of finding a solution.

Location: Where the characters are from shapes their choices and as well as options available. 

Club Zombie: Zombies Ahead 

German ex-pat Kai doesn’t have at the option of exploring his sexuality. If he wants to live with his homophobic uncle (& protect his cousin) he doesn’t analyze his feelings that closely because he doesn’t feel there’s any options open to him. When he moves to Club Zombie he’s able to take a look at himself and figure out who he is in relation to other people and the open world around him. It still takes him a little time to figure things out.

Combination of Factors: Sometimes there’s so many things happening at once and processing what they mean to our world freezes us and puts us into denial.


With Wings:

Darius Stone never thought of himself as anything but straight so being raised by a homophobic father the result of being bi-sexual have far reaching consequences… one’s that he’d rather avoid. When he finally does accept that fact he’s insecure. (Mind you being in love with the rock god Angel Luv doesn’t make it easier on him.) Dare and Angel are the only couples I’ve published that have a happy for now ending… don’t worry you know they will have their happily ever after. They showed me how it finally works out… but because their big misunderstanding(s) happened through so many layers and was so BIG… they need more time to work things out between them.

I think BIG misunderstandings happen in real life. I know they’ve happened to me… so yes they will from time to time find their way into one of my plot lines… not because it’s “easy” but because it happens.


Hugs, Z.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reviews Matter


Most writers I’ve talked to and posts I've read about reviews suggest a mix of feelings about reviews. Reviews are an odd dynamic. I mean we give blood, swear and tears to our work... then hand people a knife and wait. No it's not that dramatic but people are affected deeply by the words we share. 

Everyone believes people have the right to an opinion and the right to express that opinion. Writers maybe better than most understand the time it takes time to stop and write a review so most of us truly appreciate the effort.

Some writers read reviews and some don't. Some study and utilize the feedback so they can apply it to their writing and their critique partner’s work. Some engage and well, we’ve seen how that plays out. Mostly we try not to talk about reviews... but they matter.

But back in 2011 I was alone. I published my first novel while living in a complete vacuum aka China. I had no critique/beta partners, no Facebook, no GoodReads, didn’t even know other review sites existed, didn’t use English much in my day to day existence, got my news from the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and I had limited access to anyone in the M/M romance community. I was in my own little bubble… I didn’t even know an entire tribe existed. (Yes, it was a dark time).

I had NO clue how readers would receive With Wings. On my next visit to the USA at 230am I braved GoodReads (which is banned in China).  I’ll admit I was terrified. I got a decent number of four and five star reviews but almost every new writer knows those aren’t the ones you carry with you…

My self injurious nature allowed my confidence to be shredded: 
“A too faithful copy of a Jet Mykles story without any of her charm and way too sappy.”
“The writing style just didn’t gel for me…”
“Not a bad effort, but the author has a way to go to achieve the charm and quality of the "Heaven Sent" series.” ((Which was a four star review))
“Not working for me, so stopped reading.”
Someone else shelved it as junk.

My low self-esteem tried to wipe out the five and four stars:
“A beautifully written book Z.Allora has made a fan of me, and I want more.”
“Pure, sexy, rock star yuminess!”
“This was such a GREAT book!”

Well, case closed. The reviews were clear to me: I should NEVER EVER share my writing again. I wouldn't stop writing because no one could make me do that but I'd stop publishing. That was the answer. This would appease the writing police so they wouldn't come crashing through my door and scoop up my laptop to save the world from my drivel.

In my devastated and jetlagged state I don’t remember how but I found Elisa Rolle’s review of With Wings, which gave me perspective (& hope).

“A pure yaoi novel, like it was long I haven't read; it’s like the author wanted to claim, I love Yaoi, and so what? She never once tried to make it pass for something else, and she pushed all the by the book buttons: young, cute and pretty characters, long hair, big eyes, pop start, I’m straight/I’m not gay, Gay for You, Gay Virgin, and if you toss some other rule, it’s probably here. So no, this is not a novel for whom doesn’t like this type of story, otherwise they will start to find the “flaws”: yaoi is yaoi, and we all know it’s to entertain and not for realism.”  
((At the GRL 2015 I was finally able to verbalize to Elisa how much her words meant and how she kept me from hiding under a rock))

Her review helped me gathered up all my ratings and make sense of my world.

The one and two star reviews made complete sense now. While all opinions are absolutely validate, Elisa’s review helped me realize that some of these reviewers may not be my target audience. The same way I’m not the reader for a bittersweet romance, these folks do not like the over the top nature of my yaoisque writing style. And that's okay.

Whew! I don’t have to stop sharing (aka publishing) my writing!!! But I needed to make sure the readers understand what they are getting when they pick up a Z. Allora book. This has to do with "branding". 

I started thinking about how to clue in readers so I could help readers make the right decisions. 
I don’t want to disappoint them with my yaoified smexy world view. My covers are distinctive and thus far drawn with a clear yaoi style. I try to ensure my blurbs are clear. 
My e-mail Z.AlloraHappyEndings@gmail.com suggests HAPPILY EVER AFTER as well as SEX. When in conversation I’m the first one to say if you read my rockers or sexy zombies as a contemporary you are going to think I’m a loon!

Now some of the negative comments about my writing style, editing or issues were dead on and I spent 2014 re-writing my entire first and second series. The feedback encouraged me get a beta/critique partner team together to help untangle my Z. speak because I didn’t get it all on the page the first time. The reviews helped me strive to become a better writer.

Reviews are critical. They can help guide people to or away from your books. And if you see over the top, insta-love, and lots of sex as a negative please follow your instincts and don’t buy my book. 

Not every book is for everybody and that’s okay.

While reviews still scare me but I’ve tried over the past four years to develop perspective. Much like more established writers, I designed a kind of a filter to help me utilize the information. 

Reviewers know your words can impact the writer, other writers, readers, publishers... Words matter continue to use them with care.

Much love and appreciation to the reviewers and review sites who help guide the readers toward and away from our books.
 
Hugs, Z.






Thursday, October 29, 2015

ORGASMS...

 It distresses me when a man/woman says he has NO idea if his partner came...

ONE: I'm wondering why s/he didn't ask?
TWO: I'm wondering why the female didn't say?

>>> Clear communication as well as setting an EXPECTATION EVERYONE gets to the destination might be key in evening up the orgasm gap.

No rolling your eyes...

It's very simple: If women have an orgasm every time she had sex... She'd want more sex... 


But we live in a society where there are tons of articles of How-To-Fake-An-Orgasm...
WHY?
Reasons vary:
1) Didn't want to hurt his/her feelings (cause lying to him/her wouldn't do that)
2) You were tired (you could simply say that... and if you make it a habit to fuck when you're not into it... guess what sex becomes a favor...)
3) You couldn't (it happens... but is there anything your partner can do or do you need some alone time)
4) Never had an orgasm (not surprising in a world that discourages and demonizes female sexuality... many have been disconnected from their sexuality)
5) S/He was too quick (that's fine now it's your turn)

Faking your orgasm denies your partner the right & ability to satisfy you. (S/he is learning techniques that don't get you to your climax).

Am I advocating for an orgasm economy? Not really but I believe people do things they are reinforced to do... orgasm is the ultimate reward... You DESERVE it.

This video gives a simple suggestion: MASTURBATE!



30% of women have trouble orgasming
80% have trouble orgasming through intercourse alone (>>> That means fingers or vibrators should be active)
Most women need at least 20 minutes of stimulation to reach climax (sometimes LONGER)
>>>>I've heard these basic figures before here's a source (http://www.womansday.com/relationships/sex-tips/a5144/10-surprising-facts-about-orgasms-111985)<<<<

Suggestions:

Communicate with your parnter(s)
Accept what turns you on... toss out society's rules of what's appropriate
Work on your self esteem (Love yourself... and yes I mean literally)
If there's a medical condition or medication impeding your pleasure talk to your doctor
Set an EXPECTATION of ORGASM (by hook or by vibrator CUM)

Here's something interesting: Energy Orgasm
People can think/read/mediate themselves into a "no hands" orgasm.


Hugs, Z.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Surviving Devastion


Twenty years ago Oct 22nd, I lost half of my world. My mom died after a quick diagnosis ten days prior. The devastation spun my life out of control and forced me to look for an out. (So Pretty ones when I say I understand the depths of pain life can give you… I truly do).

I’m not going to focus on my misery or the intense desire I had to exit. I will say I’m grateful to be here now… (thrilled more than you know to have my Pretty ones!) At the time, I couldn’t live for myself so I lived for others until I found reasons to strive for me.

So why am I writing this? I guess I want to save the events that occurred during that time because I don’t want time to dull them. I want to put down some curious things, which allows me to take comfort that this isn’t the end of our stories. I really believe once we leave this existence we continue elsewhere and here’s the crazy that allows me the belief.

*Moments prior to having my world smashed to bits:
My mother always hated the idea of flowers at the cemetery. She made my sister and I promise to just buy yellow flowers for ourselves and put them on our tables. My love and I were in a hotel and someone set out their room service tray. They hadn’t appreciated the small vase of flowers so I nabbed for more room… carnations they wouldn’t make me sneeze. My husband returned the call from his family to learn of my mother’s death as I was putting the yellow flowers on the table.

*Day of funeral:
My mother would have wanted her floor mopped (people would be coming over)… My father yelled at me when I tried. His watch stopped working. I was insisting on cleaning the house and my husband suggested I didn’t need to do that… his watch stopped working too. Another five minutes passed and the washing machine that wasn’t running began to spew water out of the hoses and all over the floor… I got the mop with a smile and mopped the floor like my mommy would have wanted me to…

* First year exceptionally hard
My loss was encouraging suicidal ideations which I fought but at times the appeal was almost overwhelming. I wanted so badly to just make the pain stop… during these times a ladybug would appear. (My mother and I used to love ladybugs… it was our thing) I found 54 throughout that first year (including in my freezer!) Occasionally my love or my best from college would get one and tell me about the odd places they would show up.

I continued to go through the motions of life. One day on the drive between my offices, I was sobbing (as I did whenever I was alone). I was losing it in a grand fashion. I demanded “Send me a fucking ladybug if you love me!” I stopped at a red light. Something was in the crosswalk in front of my car… it was a beanie baby. I got out of the car and picked up the ladybug stuffed animal. I screamed, “That’s not enough but thank you!”

I thought I was losing my mind… I went for help.

*Therapist
I poured out my guts to a sympathetic therapist. On the third week I talked about my adventures with ladybugs. I could see the sad look in her eyes because I was clearly diluting myself. I was self-soothing by connecting ladybug appearances to my mother letting me know everything was alright.
The therapist wrote down my ramble down.
Tap.
She brushed her yellow pad.
Tap.
I asked, “What?”
She brushed off her pad again. “Just a bug.”
Tap.
We looked up and her light was filled with ladybugs milling around. There was a line of them marching from the window to the light.
She ended the session early.

I should write more and tell you how amazing my mom was but I can’t see the computer screen. She accepted me (even though she didn't quite understand me), encouraged me to reach for my dreams and she loved me.


Time doesn’t heal all wounds it allows you to figure out how to deal with your loss.

I say it once again: If you can’t live for yourself live for someone else. In between devastating events that shatter your world please find happiness (or give happiness to others). Eventually your world will reform and you’ll find new purpose. I believe to do so honors the ones who've left before us.

Much love and many hugs to my Pretty ones,
Z. Allora
(BTW Since I've started to write this I've had five ladybug encounters)

Addendum: Oct 22, 2015 the BIGGEST hurricane in reported history was named Patrica... My mother's name was Patrica... probably a consequence. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The GRL: Gay Romance Literature Retreat

Every October many writers & readers of gay romance gather. We have panel discussions, readings, book signing and parties. It's an amazing (& overwhelming) experience.

You see many of us don't fit in our worlds (though many do). Many of us were assigned female at birth and people don't understand why the fuck we write about gay romance. The questions are endless!

1) What could YOU possibly know about GAY sex?
Well, apart from one body part (which we usually have complete and total access to) and a gland... SEX IS SEX.... and since this is romance it's not all about the sex (or so I'm told repeatedly by my critique partners).

WARNING!!! SHOCKING INFORMATION: People with female parts CAN have anal sex & can love it. (BTW some of my Pretties assigned female at birth seem to adore anal sex more than some of my Pretties assigned male... I know it's subjective self sharing but there you have it). Writers of gay romance can round out personal experiences with a huge array of gay porn... not to mention many of us have friends who are happy to overshare their personal experiences.

2) How do you write about men when you're a straight woman?
Excuse me need to correct the basic premise: Assigned female at birth is not that same as gender identity. Many writers and readers of this genre consider themselves somewhere on the rainbow (gender queer/non-binary, bi, trans, asexual, etc.). How many writers will laughingly tell you they feel like gay men in a women's body... BTW that statement might not always be a joke...

Basic Information: One does not write with their genitals... Though one could physically do so with the insertion of a writing implement...but  trust me if that was really a thing I'd have seen a sex show featuring it.

BTW males have been writing female characters for eons and no one ever wondered HOW that was possible. (Smells kind of like sexism at play).

Newsflash:  Most of the murder mystery writers haven't committed the horrific crimes they depict... and I'm going out on a limb but Anne Rice isn't a vampire.

3) You're objectifying men.
Um... romance genre focuses on love, relationships and sex.

4) Why don't you write NORMAL romance?
Who defines NORMAL?  LOVE IS LOVE. This is normal... 

5) Men aren't like that?
Um... okay. The world is a BIG place and while someone who throws this at me at a criticism might not know men like some of our/my characters... they do exist. BTW people on the edges of any spectrum don't feel comfortable sharing with people who have a  narrow attitude. We need to stop trying to paint people with the wide brush of HOW YOU SHOULD BE... I dislike when people refuse to acknowledge everyone DOES NOT fit into labeled boxes because it implies people on the fringes are somehow wrong.

The questions of WHY and HOW go on and on but at the GRL for this glorious span of days the question is WHEN? WHEN is the next book in your series coming out? WHEN will you write about this kind of character/plot? WHEN is such a better question than why or how...

The GRL is a gathering of tribe. Readers, writers, reviewers, publishers all together in one place to celebrate what the rest of the world doesn't quite understand... but we do.

If you are attending the GRL find me and give me a hug (if you're a hugger). I adore my tribe they know me best.

Hugs, Z.

















Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pansexuality


Someone who can be physically &/or romantically attracted to others regardless of gender or gender identity (men, women, third gender, bigender, two-spirit, genderqueer, gender fluid, agender/genderless).

Pansexuality (coming from the Greek = ALL) is also known as omnisexual.

But REMEMBER: just because someone's attraction is not limited by gender identity or assigned sex at birth… it does NOT mean they are. (Individual preferences still apply).


Difference between Pansexual and Bisexual:

Bisexual suggests attraction to two sexes (Bi=Two). Pansexual means potential attraction to all.

In the past bisexual meant potential attraction to males and females... but now in a world where gender identity is being clarified, it still means two (due to the prefix of BI) but it could mean transguys and guys or transguys and transwomen or... any combination. It's no longer limited to only male and females assigned at birth.

There you have.

Hugs, Z.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

ASEXUALITY

Asexuality is when an individual lacks sexual attraction toward others. They are NOT intrinsically drawn to have sex. 

However they can still chose to have sex.

Asexuality like other orientations is a spectrum. The individual's relationship to sex varies.
Some are sex repulsed.
Others are indifferent. For them, sex is meh, whatever. Take it or leave it.
Some view sex as favorable and are okay with sex as an activity.
And others are sex aversive and avoid it.





Keep in mind just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean they can’t have sex. Some do. Some asexuals can experience sexual arousal. Some asexual people masturbate… some do not. If they do it doesn't affect their orientation. Like all the other orientations the expression is unique to the individual.


Keep in mind just because someone is an asexual doesn't mean they are aromantic. Aromantic is experiencing little or no romantic attraction to others beyond friendship.

Someone who is asexual can lack sexual attraction to others but may still crave a romantic connection. They can still find an intimate emotional bond with someone that doesn’t involve sexual attraction.


I thought you might gain a richer understanding listening to people share their stories.









Asexuality.org is a great resource for finding out more information.



Hugs, Z.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bisexuality Celebration





Bisexual individuals have the ability to be attracted to both men and women.

Someone who is bisexual can face a lot of prejudice and confusion about their orientation. They can be accused of being indecisive or greedy or just going through a phrase.

It's true for some people the label of bisexuality is a steppingstone on the way to coming out as gay or lesbian.  For these folks, bisexuality is category they tried on to see what feels right. I’m sure many of us have known people who say they are bisexual but than later come out. Though remember identity for some individuals can evolve over time... and that's okay >>> cause we don't judge and we aren't the orientation police!

Here’s a cute man setting the record straight… 






 
Here’s a lovely lady sharing silly things that show some people are confused by bisexuality.




I think SOME of the GAY FOR YOU or OUT FOR YOU sub-genre characters are bisexual and not aware of it. As with all sexualities & orientations there’s a spectrum so a dude could be all about the ladies then… BAM meet a gorgeous male hot rocker and lose his damned mind.

That’s what happens in With Wings. Darius Stone was “straight”. His switch was never flipped for a guy… but damn he couldn’t shake his attraction and eventual feelings for Angel Luv. (Totally understandable!) 


                                                                                                 BUY




Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pride & Z. Allora's Zombies

                                                      PRIDE


Pride is about celebrating, educating and raising awareness about the LGBTQIA community. It's a place that people gather and realize they aren't alone. It's a place young people can see equality. Pride celebrates give unconditional acceptance and a place where everyone can be exactly who are. ((You don't have to be on the rainbow to attend you just need to be supportive!))
Sorry I was too short to capture the crowd!


As a rainbow romance writer I wanted to let the people of South Carolina know there are romances about people on the rainbow. Love is love and EVERYONE deserves a happily ever after (if they want one).

Eden Winters & Z. Eden is one of my critique partners who is an incredible writer and an amazing friend who is generous with her time... dealing with Z. trauma drama, untangling Z. speak and shaking the pretty out of my head.


In the middle between Eden & Z. is one of the pioneers of the gay romance genre. Ally Blue!!! Who stopped down for a visit. 



 There will always be haters. My first Pride 3 yrs ago there were 16 people screaming we'd be going to Hell. Each year people celebrating PRIDE grows and each year the protesters dwindle.

Here's the sad group on the wrong side of history this year.


The only reason why I'm showing you their negative bullshit so that you understand why it's important for everyone who can go to PRIDE events to go. Your participation as a sane normal person speaks volumes. You wearing a rainbow might reach someone who felt alone. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

Here's a list of PRIDE festivals all over the country. See which one is closest to you and make a plan to go!
                                                                         PRIDE CELEBRATIONS


                         Zombies Suck... but mine SWALLOW


September 18, 2015 Club Zombie: Zombies Ahead returns to the shelf. 

 

It's been polished and re-written into a novel (20,000 words have been added). PL Nunn made me a snazzy new cover.

Now before you turn away with an EW! I don't like ZOMBIES... I don't like the traditional zombies either... mine are sexy. My lovely young men don't stumble around seeking brains... No, though warning they may drop to their knees to receive what they need to survive male ejaculate...

I know some of you are shaking your head thinking: What the hell has Z. Allora done this time? Just correcting the zombie lore one blowjob at a time... LOL. Check out Zombies Ahead and see all the creative ways Club Zombie helps them in searching for their mates.

 

                                                                                 Amazon   Nook/Epub 


Happy PRIDE & Happy Zombie Release!
Hugs, Z.



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Come, Cum, Spooge, Sperm, Ejaculate



Club Zombie: Zombies Ahead is up for pre-order!!! My zombies are all about come... out. They aren’t rotting corpses stumbling around looking for brains. Nope! Z.Allora’s zombies are sweet, sexy guys searching for male essence. You guessed it: Ejaculate. I’m mean REALLY! I don’t see the excitement for the undead whining about ingesting brains… but hot guys craving come… now that’s a concept worth a series!

 


Their transition begins at nineteen and completes on their twenty-third birthday. Hopefully, they find their mates before their transition is complete or they lose the ability to orgasm until they find their other half… but they still need male essence. (Talk about frustration!) Though Club Zombie has developed interesting ways for them to receive what they need: blowjob shoe shine stations, glory holes, BJ Alley, and a favorite for zombies already past their twenty-third birthday the BDSM room where they can hid their impotence in chastity. 

Below you see my original cover... that scene was stuck in my head for 17 years!!! (But Amazon thought it too risque so it was doomed to the dungeon... and not the fun kind!)




I did a lot of research on sperm (… allowing time for your imagination to catch up). The Healing Properties of Semen  from Health Now blog did a great job of summing up the wonderful properties of what the philosophers called the ’substance of the soul’ .

Could a spurt of sperm be the next wonder drug? If these amazing results gathered in this article are valid doctors might be suggesting you suck it up and swallow.

A study in 2002 out of Albany NY suggested depressed women exposed to semen were less likely to commit suicide. It’s believed the sperm balances the hormones. Other studies have shown semen lowers the risks of breast cancer and frequent ejaculation decreases the risk of prostrate cancer. Pregnant women ingesting semen lowers the rate of preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure) and could be a possible cure for morning sickness. The protein in semen can regulate ovulation. Sounds too good to be true?
  
>>>I personally think researchers should investigate female orgasm rate with… just about anything… cause it’s important too!<<<

Hugs, Z.





 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Writers: What do you do all day?


I've been asked a number of times... my answers vary from watch porn and masturbate to WRITE! Then you get well if you're writing all the time why haven't you published more books? 

It's a valid question because I really did think writers wrote more… instead I find myself doing many other things that will assist me in publishing. 

Let's take it from the beginning:

You have written the song of your heart… a fabulous book… now what? Well, you don't exactly type THE END and head off to the best seller's list (I've heard rumors those exist... I wouldn't know personality LOL)

*Self-edit (or try to):
Usually I put the manuscript I've just written through an editing programming, make the corrections and re-read it. (This might be the 10th time I've gone through my work) Then I pass it to my beta/critique partners to shred my words. Then I sort through their feedback and improve the story.

*Submit to a publisher:
Write a query letter, and a synopsis = imagine a book report that boils down your blood sweat and tears into a couple of pages… then you WAIT  (bypass if you have an editor who adopts you as theirs)
(If accepted):
Edits: With editor 1, editor 2, and possibly a third or fourth go round, lines 1-2x, proofing

Cover Art  : Working with an artist to come up with a good representation of your book that’s marketable. 

Blurb: Boiling down your stories into a jazzy two hundred word blip to entice readers to give your story a try. 
(If not accepted>>> it’s back to the drawing board with re-writes based on feedback, court a new publisher)

*Self-pub:
You get to bypass the publisher stuff but you want to make damned sure you do the edits, proofing and you commission your cover art directly.

*Beta/critique for others because 1) it’s nice to return the favor 2) it helps you become a better writer to READ for another author.

*Read articles on the craft of writing, trends in the market, grammar, style...

*Social media
It can be a useful way to get your name out there. Yes, I’m talking about branding (who are you as an author and getting your message to your audience). It allows you to tell the world you birthed a new book. (Hopefully, without overselling cause EVERYONE including the authors HATE when that happens) But you can’t just rely on one place nope! You need to get the word out at different times and in different places.

*Blogs:
Your own blog should be updated on a regular basis. Some writers are able to do this once a day, every few days… me I’ve committed to once a week. We’ve been told you’re not writing the blog for today but for the future… meaning someone will come across a tag that leads them to you & your magical books. So blogs are important!

*Facebook:
No surprise to some of you that Facebook is my favorite venue! Maybe it was not being allowed to use it when I lived in China… but I ADORE playing with my Facebook Pretties! I love what people post on my wall, the PMs, the responses to my posts and the answers to my questions. It’s my way of staying connected. My Pretties make me think, smile and giggle! So Facebook is a joy to me. (I bop on and off of it while I’m writing to touch base so if you PM me & I’m not online I’ll probably be there soon).

*Twitter:
I’ve met with people about how to make Twitter work, I’ve even watched YouTube videos on tweeting. I’m able to do #TravelTuesday & good LBGTQ+ news… but I’m still not comfortable with it.

*Insta-graming: Haven’t attempted it… Know Thy Limits. I simply can’t do it all.

*Pinteresting: I try to pin things to my boards about travel since my books are based partly on my travel experiences. I’m even using the secret board option to work on my works in progress.

*Website: Make sure your website is up to date… oh and if you put your website on your writer banner the one you plan to put on your table at Upstate Pride>>> you might want to make sure it works… GRRRRRRR!!!! Most of my week has been devoted to making a new website.

*Keeping up E-mail

*Conventions s
Preparation (swag can take weeks to order and longer to figure out what makes sense with you and your books). Attending the classes/panels usually gives you more to dos while you try  not to implode in a nervous wreck. Of course there's the travel time and dealing with the illness in the aftermath.... But I LOVE THEM!!! It's where my tribe meets.


Your book is releasing: 

Blog Tour: You can pay for assistance or schedule it yourself (=scheduling takes time and you usually want to contact 8-15 blogs) Either way you should pull together a media package (all the information on your book, cover art, blurb, excerpt & buy links) and you need to write 8-15 blogs, announce where you will be when, and follow up with commenters.

Giveaways: Request to do them, schedule them, publicize, follow-up and give out prizes.

Reviews: You need to ask review sites if they would be interested in reviewing your book. If a review is scheduled make sure you know when so you can publicize it.

Your Rights Are Yours Again: Books are under contract for 1-5 years with automatic renewals in some contracts. You need to manage this. If the rights are returned to you the choice is they go out off all bookshelves or you get them with another publisher or learn to get them on Amazon, All Romance Books, Kobo, Apple, Draft 2 Digital, etc. (Did you need to re-write them first? If so, beta/critique partners, editing, etc. all need to be re-done.)

There’s a number of other things that come up but those are some of the basics I spend my writing time doing. Trust me when I say I'm not complaining but I wanted to share.

So if you’re wondering why your favorite author hasn’t gotten the next book out… these are some of the things a writer’s time is spent doing.

Hugs, Z. Allora

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Non-Monogamy


Wait!  Isn’t that cheating?

The word CHEAT can be defined as:
* to break a rule or law usually to gain an advantage at something
* to take something from (someone) by lying or breaking a rule
* to prevent (someone) from having something that he or she deserves or was expecting to get
((http://www.merriam-webster.com))



Non-Monogamy may not be cheating... If there are rules allowing for more than one partner...


Dan Savage views on monogamy:  


One opinion on open relationships

                  
Here's an example of the rules one might implement to stay out of the realm of cheating:




This video gives another opinion of how to express non-monogamy: POLYAMORY.   
The idea is love is not finite therefore we can have many loves.




My personal opinion:

In general, I shy away from studies/opinions that cling to sexual orientation and gender as the only factors to determine monogamy/non-monogamy. I think to do oversimplifies a very complex subject and devalues our individuality.

When gender and orientation are used as the ONLY factors:

*It increases sexism, homophobia, and transphobia
*Makes assumptions that the labels assigned are correct  (& assumes most people reside in boxes)
*Ignores that people may be on a spectrum which might vary over time.

Shouldn’t we look at the individuals involved? 

I'm truly exhausted by the Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus mindset. Or that ALL people on the rainbow reject heteronormative ideas of fidelity. I need to point out some ideas can be seen as heteronormative only because rights for everyone have been denied for so long…  and with studies reporting 30-70% of married people report having 'cheated' it doesn't look like it's got much to do with being on or off the rainbow.

I would suggest exploring other determining factors: 

*How the individual views sex? Is sex an expression of love? Or is it about getting off?
*Is the participant outside the primary relationship just a fancy masturbatory device or is there a connection giving the person in the relationship something they are lacking?
*Why is the person seeking the outside attention to deal with sexual/emotional needs?
*How does the cuckhold/cuntquean fetish play into this topic?





As a romance writer, I believe in happily ever afters. I think for some people (characters) HEA means a committed 1:1 relationship but for others the configuration might look different. My challenge as a writer if I’m going to have a non-traditional pairing (multiple partners, an open relationship, BDSM contract allowing multiple partners) I need to ensure my readers know it’s a happily ever after for these characters and that for them the non-monogamy reinforces the relationship not devalues it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Asexuality & Pansexuality & Trans-oriented


Asexuality

Someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction.

Different than celibacy which is a choice.

The person who is asexual doesn’t feel desire to make sex part of their relationship with others BUT can decide to have sex.

((Some asexual people masturbate and have sex))

Gray Sexual: Someone who experiences sexual attraction to such a low degree or so rarely they identity within the asexuality spectrum.

Romantic Attraction/Orientation: Someone who is asexual may still want to form romantic relationships to opposite sex, same sex, and/or the entire range of gender. 

This video gives a brief overview and gives you a good basic framework.




Here's another resource:   Asexual101: Questions Answered

 

Pansexuality

No this is not sexual attraction to pans. This means someone who can experience attraction regardless of gender or sex. 

Another short video you might enjoy!





Trans-orientated

Someone who is attracted to someone who is transgender. 

There's not a lot of information I can share with you because as Ms. Nina Arsenault (an educator in the video below) states most people who are attracted to people who are transgender aren't vocal about it. 

I do see parallels to the gay and lesbian communities of the past. It wasn't a safe option to admit sex same attraction let alone to act openly on it. There was little chance to explore a relationship beyond a quick fuck in the shadows. (Yes there were exceptions to this and my heart happy dances when I think of the odds these couples overcame to find love).  However, the sad truth was most of these men and women were not able to form attachments openly.

This same type of societal taboo affects most trans-oriented attraction. Relationships and marriage were/are discouraged therefore the only expression open to the trans-oriented person was/is sex>>>>> which reinforces the idea that trans-oriented people only want sex from the transgender community. 

I believe there are more people in the transgender stripe of the rainbow than actually identify as transgender (gender queer, non-binary, etc). These are new labels and people who fit into them may not even know they exist so can't/don't self-identify>>>>  therefore the transgender community sees them as THE OTHER (when they might very well be on the transgender spectrum).

At this distance it's easy to see the negative self-fulfilling prophecy that is being played out. Only through understanding and acceptance can we break this pattern. No one should sexualize the transgender community and we need to stop shaming the men and women who find trans-people alluring... to do so it extremely insulting to both parties. ((And I'm not discounting that there are some people who do sexualize transgender people and are only looking for sex... happens in every orientation.)) 
 
(This video focuses on guys who are attracted to trans women & allow me to warn you she uses some words that I find offensive but overall an interesting discussion)





One of the things I try to do in my writing is explore different expressions of sexuality. In Illusions & Dreams (categorized as a transgender romance) two of my main characters are transgender, someone who is pansexual (Jake O'Neil) and someone (Randy Camster) who thought he might be asexual until he finds he appreciates one of the singers at a club in Thailand.