Guardians of the Gaylaxy take over the Seattle Public Library on Nov. 17!

GuardiansOfTheGaylaxy_BannerJoin GRNW, Gay City, and the Seattle Public Library on Monday, November 17 as we present a free public reading event highlighting local LGBTQ science fiction and fantasy authors. Authors reading include: Astrid Amara, Ginn Hale, Laylah Hunter, Langley Hyde, and Nicole Kimberling.

It’s going to be an out-of-this-world evening of storytelling and discussion! We hope you will join us!

The event starts at 7pm! We hope to see you there!

Visit the Seattle Public Library to learn more!

RSVP on Facebook!

Pre-Reading Meet-Up at Vovito!

For those that want to meet prior to the reading, GRNW will be hanging out at the Vovito cafe across from the library from 5:00pm – 6:30pm. Just look for the table with the GRNW sign! 😀

About the Authors:

Astrid Amara, author of the Lambda Literary-nominated fantasy The Archers Heart, and the new fantasy novel set during the Crimean War, The Devil’s Lancer.

Ginn Hale, is a Lambda Literary nominee and Spectrum Award winner for her fantasy/steampunk novel Wicked Gentlemen, and author of the new novel Champion of the Scarlet Wolf.

Laylah Hunter’s first novel, the fantasy Gabriel’s City, releases November 2014. Laylah is also the author of short fiction, including “Safe Harbor.”

Langley Hyde, is a Clarion Writer’s Workshop graduate whose first steampunk fantasy novel Highfell Grimoires was released spring 2014.

Nicole Kimberling, winner of the Lambda Literary award for her speculative fiction novel Turnskin and founder and editor of the LGBTQ speculative fiction press Blind Eye Books.

GRNW 2014 Authors Celebrate Queer Romance Month

QRM_Badge-2-300x300From October 1 – October 31, over 120 authors and readers came together to celebrate a new blog project, Queer Romance Month.

Throughout the entire month, contributors shared 3-4 essays posted daily that celebrated the many facets of queer romance fiction, and the many layers of being queer, of being an ally, of loving romance stories, and highlighting this rising supply of romance stories that represent and celebrate LGBTQIA lives and relationships.

Please go and enjoy the many wonderful and heartfelt posts and stories that share so much about love and desire, about sadness and loneliness, about separation and rejection, and about resilience and realization, hope and triumph.

(Not to mention some hilarious and fantastic posts about writing, about slash fanfiction, and about what it felt like to first discover the existence of queer romance books and their Happily Ever Afters for queer characters.)

Among the many amazing contributors, you will find posts by GRNW 2014 authors as well. Please find them listed below, but please also enjoy the Bounty that is the QRM library. It is reading not to be missed.

GRNW 2014 Authors Writing for QRM 2014

Title Hell by Astrid Amara

“So trying to find a title that’s catchy (UnderWere) , memorable (The Anus of Caesar), but not disturbing (The Anus of Caesar), captures the story (Disenchanted Angel Seeks Revenge on God), but doesn’t reveal the end (Balls No More) is a real challenge.”

Mambo Italiano and My First happy Ending by Heidi Belleau

“Mambo Italiano was my very first queer rom com. My very first queer love story. My very first queer happy ending.”

Shimmer by L.C Chase

“I don’t know how long we stood like that, gazes locked, bodies frozen, with five feet of marbled tile between us. He was the one who decided it had been long enough though.”

Love Is Love Everywhere, Everywhen, Everyhow by Kim Fielding

“Love is love, right? It’s one of the mottos of Queer Romance Month, and it’s a concept that I—and all the other authors featured this month—recognize as a basic tenet of our work. But I want to add three more words to the motto: everywhere, everywhen, everyhow.”

Well now what? by Rhys Ford

“I’d want someone—gay, straight, purple or polka-dotted—to be able to carry themselves through life without having to fight for the right to love or to live.”

9 stories and 10 links by Ginn Hale

“But we writers aren’t the only ones exploring expanding the definitions of romance. Numerous amazing creators are writing, illustrating and producing, (often completely at their own expense) brilliant web comics. And I’d like to share a few that stand out for me.”

What Organizing a Gay Wedding Taught Me About Being a Romance Writer by Nicole Kimberling

“For a lot of readers, venturing through any of the doors marked L, G, B, or T is going to be as confusing as the bride-free wedding was for my previous client. Even readers of G might never try and see what’s behind the door marked T. Does that make them bad people? Not at all. It just means they haven’t found the book that can translate the experience into terms they understand or are able to feel comfortable engaging.”

Why We Need Trans Romance by E.E. Ottoman

“I refuse to believe that I will always be alone, that being trans has doomed me to isolation and unhappiness. I refuse to raise another generation of trans children who believe that is true, that they are fundamentally unlovable because they are trans. Who live without ever seeing people like them portrayed as being in a happy, healthy relationship. Who never get to see themselves as the heroes of a story about love and being loved.”

Components of Gay Romance by Jordan Castillo Price

“I may not consider myself to be a romance writer. But whether the love interest in my stories functions as a contrast to the main character, or a liability, or an ally, I find the relationship subplot to be a critical component of the work I’ve written so far.”

Lesbian Romance — Becoming Visible with a Little Help from our (M/M) Friends by Radclyffe

“While we who write LGBTQ romance may have different audiences, we have a common theme, and what unites us is far more significant than what separates us.”

It’s All About Me by Anne Tenino

“Most of those people who’re freaking out, telling LGBTQ people that they’re going to burn in hell? They aren’t doing it to save you. They’re doing it because they’re afraid of being punished for not saying anything.”

Why Queer Romance Matters by LA Witt

“I would have given my right arm for some believable, realistic queer characters when I was a teenager. Maybe then I would have seen myself and learned that there’s nothing wrong with me. I might’ve even learned what in the world ‘bisexual’ meant before I realized it also meant ‘me’.”

And GRNW lead Tracy contributed an essay prior to QRM’s launch:

Working in your Community to get the Word Out about Queer Romance by Tracy Timmons-Gray

“You may think that building community awareness around queer romance fiction is limited to gaining social media followers or GoodReads friends, but there are actually a lot of ways to build awareness within your *real life* community as well, and in ways that can have a big impact for other local readers and writers.”

Thank you to the organizers and contributors to the Queer Romance Month project.

With still so much celebration to do, where will QRM go next? We look forward to finding out! 😀

And please share with us YOUR favorite(s) QRM posts, and what they meant to you!

Celebrating Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy at GeekGirlCon 2014 and the next Seattle Reader Meet-Up

We have lots of cool activities going on this weekend here in Seattle. We hope you will come join us!

Next Seattle LGBTQ Romance Reader Group Meeting!

We’ll be having the next LGBTQ Romance Reader Group Meeting at 12pm at the Kaladi Brothers Café at Gay City in Seattle at 517 E Pike Street. (Just look for the GRNW table.) It’s always a fun and relaxed time to talk with other readers about everyone’s fave books and current reads. Come join in!

And curious about our meet-up groups? Come by our GoodReads group to learn more about our activities in Seattle and Portland!

Queer Sci-Fi/Fantasy Panel at GeekGirlCon at Oct. 12!ggc13_logo_375x74

This weekend is GeekGirlCon 2014, an awesome event celebrating the many facets and fantastic features that make up female geekdom, including workshops, panels, and more!

On Sunday, Oct. 12, come join us at GGC at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle for the panel “Gaylaxy Quest: Exploring Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fiction.” This panel will feature six awesome Northwest queer sci-fi and fantasy authors, and is co-hosted by GRNW, Gay City, and Queer Geek.

The panel will start at 2pm and will be in RM303. (See the rest of GGC’s schedule for this weekend.)

About the Panelists

Astrid Amara, author of the Lambda Literary nominated fantasy The Archers Heart, and the new fantasy novel set during the Crimean War, The Devil’s Lancer.

Amber Dawn, Lambda Literary winner for her speculative fiction novel Sub Rosa.

Ginn Hale, Lambda Literary nominee and Spectrum Award winner for her fantasy/steampunk novel Wicked Gentlemen, and the new fantasy novel Champion of the Scarlet Wolf.

J. Tullos Hennig, author of the novels Greenwode and Shirewode, and winner of the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best B/T & LGBT Fantasy, Paranormal Romance & Sci-fi / Futuristic.

Langley Hyde, a Clarion Writer’s Workshop graduate whose first steampunk fantasy novel Highfell Grimoires was released spring 2014

Nicole Kimberling, winner of the Lambda Literary award for her speculate fiction novel Turnskin and founder and editor of the LGBTQ speculative fiction press Blind Eye Books.

We hope to see you there!

Other cool GGC panels

There is a lot of cool programming at this year’s GeekGirlCon, including programming focusing on LGBTQ issues and diversity. Some of these panels include:

  • Double Others (Oct. 11, 12pm)
  • 21st Century Boys: Slash in the Mainstream (Oct. 11, 3pm)
  • Queerbaiting in Genre Television: Representation or Exploitation? (Oct. 11, 4pm)
  • Is the Seme always Taller? (Oct. 11, 5pm
  • Fanfiction: Sharing, Creating, and the Law (Oct. 11, 6pm)
  • Diversity in Young Adult Fiction (Oct. 12, 10am)
  • Gaylaxy Quest: Exploring Queer Fantasy and Science Fiction (Oct. 12, 2pm)

And much much more! See their full schedule for all the awesomeness happening this weekend

We look forward to seeing everyone this weekend for our Saturday Reader Meet-Up at Gay City and for the Gaylaxy Quest panel on Sunday at GGC! 😀

Alternative Medicine

Kimberling_Nicole_150x150by Nicole Kimberling

It’s a scene everyone has read. A weary soldier (we’ll call him Captain Brutus) returns from the war/prison camp/besieged lunar colony unable to cope with the horror/cruelty/massive decompression event he has just witnessed. Sick from experience and worn down by the weight of the world he does not know if he can ever return to the life he’s once known.

Captain Brutus even doubts he can get down with his beloved—let’s refer to this guy as Dr. Binky for now.

The scene goes much like this one:

Brutus sat heavily in the worn armchair, face cradled in his hands, shoulders slumped in defeat. Binky hesitated at the doorway. He saw that now streaks of gray shot through Brutus’ dark hair. His uniform, though clean was patched and mended. It hung on his starved frame.

Binky stepped cautiously into the room, but quiet as he was the moment the first floorboard creaked Brutus’ head snapped up. In a split second Binky looked down the cannon-like barrel of Brutus’ blaster.

“It’s just me,” Binky’s voice shook in spite of himself. The expression on Brutus’ face was one Binky had never seen before. Blank, cold, staring right through Binky as though they’d never met.

Brutus blinked and then very slowly lowered his weapon. “I’m sorry. It’s your lab coat. I thought you were one of them.”

Binky didn’t have to ask who they were. He’d seen the streams. He’d watched day by day as the hideous truth had been revealed. The corrupt executives at LunarCorp has used the soldiers stationed at the Mare Tranquillitatis in bizarre and horrifying biological experiments. He wondered what scars Brutus hid beneath his now too-large uniform.

The scarred survivor trope is such a well-worn standard among romance heroes that he’s practically become mandatory for many readers. And there are lots of reasons why it’s a standard go-to for many authors. Scarred survivors are obviously experienced. In addition to providing ample opportunity for inter-personal conflict, their moodiness makes them seem deep.

Done correctly, the scarred survivor requires little additional characterization so a word-thrifty author can get a lot of mileage out of his grim silences and thousand-mile stares.

The author now has two options. She could use the hero’s interior conflict to tell us all something about life. She can painstakingly show that the love of Brutus and Binky is strong enough to weather all manner of storms.

Or she can, in a moment of weakness, take a short cut and cure all by a liberal application of sexual healing.

Despite the popularity of sexual healing in fiction I found scant proof that intercourse cures any ailment, physical or psychological. Though I did manage to locate some anecdotal evidence that suggests guys who are bummed out can experience some relief of symptoms by making a booty call. Witness the testimony of the legendary Marvin Gaye:

Sexual_Healing_posterWhenever blue tear drops are falling
And my emotional stability is leaving me
There is something I can do
I can get on the telephone and call you up baby, and
Honey I know you’ll be there to relieve me
The love you give to me will free me
If you don’t know the things you’re dealing
I can tell you, darling, that it’s sexual healing

I think we can all agree that Gaye really nailed it, in terms of establishing the parameters under which we can expect a positive therapeutic result from sex.

But there are always authors seeking to push the envelope and now we have stories where sex seems to be the only line of defense against a wide variety of psychological as well as neurological and even physical ailments.

And what is wrong with this? Well, to illustrate I’ll share an incident wherein Dr. Binky attempts the cure.

As per his morning ritual, Brutus sat at the breakfast table, leafing through the morning paper. Though in most respects an early-adopter of technology, he found that news itself felt more real when delivered on newsprint. A fit of coughing sounded from upstairs and Brutus glanced toward the bedroom.

Brutus’ beloved, Binky, had not been a joy to sleep alongside the previous night. His lithe and normally naked body had been hidden beneath flannel pajamas. He’d been hot, then cold, then at approximately four a.m. had commenced upon a snore so prodigious that Brutus was forced to don the earplugs he normally reserved for the firing range.

“You okay, babe?” he called.

Binky made no immediate vocal response. Then, from above came a thud, followed by a slight shuffling noise. Eventually, Binky slumped down the stairs. His face was puffy; his blond hair disheveled and matted. He held the duvet from their bed close around him as he crossed the kitchen floor, coming to stand, swaying before Brutus.

He said, “I think I have strep.”

“You’re not going to work at the hospital today,” Brutus pronounced. “Unless it’s as a patient.”

Binky shook his head, then winced as if the slight motion caused him almost unbearable pain.

“No antibiotics,” Binky whispered. “I found a better way online.”

“You’re not going to try and gargle it away, are you? I don’t know if there’s enough salt water in the sea.”

“Not salt water.” Leaning heavily on the back of the dining room chair on which Brutus sat, Binky lowered himself to his knees. “Open your pants.”

“What? Now?”

“I’ll do it.” Binky lifted his shaking hands and began to paw ineffectually at Brutus’ fly. Brutus caught him by the wrists. He gazed down at Binky’s flushed cheeks, his glassy unfocused expression.

sex_rx“Have you taken your temperature recently?” Brutus asked. “I think you’ve got a fever.”

“No, I’m just horny.”

“No you aren’t,” Brutus said. “You’re barely awake.”

“Don’t struggle. I need sperm to kill the streptococcal.” Binky tried weakly to pull his hands free. “It has antibiotic properties and can also cure depression.”

“What the hell have you been reading?” Brutus pressed his hand to Binky’s forehead. His skin felt as if he’d just stepped out of a sauna.

“The internet wouldn’t lie to me,” Binky said. 

“Baby, I am not going to stick my dick anywhere near your throat.”

Binky’s expression crumpled with confused hurt. Then lit again, with weird hope, “Would you jack off on my face then? I’ll hold my mouth open like in a porno. I just don’t like to swallow pills.”

“I’m taking you to the hospital right now.”

Oh no Binky! Why would the cruel author force you to use semen dosing when better solutions were available? Doesn’t she know the efficacy of sperm versus penicillin is practically nil? And what about all those other Binkies out there who have been forced to treat their various neurological and psychological problems with a course of cock alone?

Don’t their authors know that in 2009 a Norwegian scientist (Dr. Bønky of the Kinsey Institute) performed a double blind study, which proved that dyslexics treated with cock injections actually fared slightly less well than those treated with a dildo placebo?

I’m not asking authors to stop using the natural life drama created by illness, both physical and mental, in their stories. Far from it. Illness affects us all in one way or another. But I suppose what I would suggest is that perhaps a little sensitivity would not be misplaced. Try to remember that things like agoraphobia and epilepsy are not imaginary afflictions invented solely for the purpose of creating tension in fiction. Make an effort to respect the real-life sufferers by not demoting their struggle to the equivalent of a case of blue balls.

Over and out!

Nicole Kimberling is the author of various speculative fiction titles as well as a contemporary romantic mystery series set in the Pacific Northwest. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. She is also the editor of Blind Eye Books. Visit Nicole’s website.

Upcoming GRNW Events!

We have a great line-up of upcoming events that we wanted to share (and we hope you can join us!)

Feb13_BoxThursday, Feb. 13 – Rainbow Valentine (University Book Store)

On Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7pm, we’ll be hosting at Seattle’s University Book Store the special reading event “Rainbow Valentine” that celebrates LGBT romance fiction, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

GRNW 2014 authors Daisy Harris, M.J. O’Shea, Rick R. Reed, and Sheri Lewis Wohl will all be reading from their work, and following the readings there will be an author Q&A.

The event is public and free. Come celebrate love stories with us!

Visit the University Book Store to learn more.

Gaylaxy QuestFriday, Feb. 21 – Gaylaxy Quest (Gay City)

Gay City, Queer Geek, and GRNW are joining together (like Voltron!) to host the reading event “Gaylaxy Quest: A Celebration of Queer Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fiction” on Friday, February 21 at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium at 7pm.

This event will feature readings by GRNW 2014 authors Astrid Amara, Ginn Hale, Laylah Hunter, and Samuel Jarius Pettit, and should be an awesome evening of queer speculative fiction.

Following the readings, there will be an author Q&A and also an after party in the auditorium featuring free snacks and drinks. Books by the authors will also be on sale.

This event Is free and open to the public. We hope you can come!

Visit Gay City’s site for more info.

More Upcoming Events!

March 2014 – We’ll be holding our next Seattle LGBT Romance Reader Group meeting in March, most likely the weekend of March 8-9, to coincide with the Gay City LGBT Library book sale. Stay tuned for more info!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 – Seattle Public Library, Gay City, and GRNW are partnering together to present a special reading event at SPL’s Central Branch that spotlights LGBT mysteries and suspense!

The event will feature readings by GRNW 2014 authors Nicole Kimberling, Lori L. Lake, and Lou Sylvre, and will also include a Q&A following the readings.

This event will be free and open to the public. More information coming soon! 😀

We’re SUPER excited about these upcoming events and the chance to spread more awareness of LGBT genre fiction and its many awesome local authors. We hope you can come join us and be part of the celebration!

Brutus and Binky’s Holiday Spectacular!

Nicole Kimberling

Nicole Kimberling

By Nicole Kimberling

I know what you’re thinking: the holidays are over, right? Why in the world would I, or anyone be writing about holiday-themed stories now? Well, the fact is that ‘tis the season when calls go out for themed stories surrounding the big fall and winter holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas and New Year’s. In order to be ready for publication, next year’s stories will be conceived of, contracted and possibly even written in the next few months. Authors scramble to come up with an entry into the following year’s bonanza, pitching all manner of concepts to editors who are still sluggish from eggnog and bloated from gorging on gingerbread men.

Some of these ideas will turn out to be moneymakers and some will be flops. However some steps can be taken to ensure that your idea lands you in the black come next year.

Include Food

No holiday is complete without food and at least one—Thanksgiving—is pretty much solely centered on food. Food in holiday stories can practically be considered a supporting character, as well as being a reliable source of tension and even conflict. Observe:

Binky stood over the range and fretted at the large, pale dead bird sitting in its disposable aluminum roasting pan. Its clammy, rubbery skin glistened. Pink blood seeped from the carcass’ neck flap.

Never before had he engaged dead poultry in its raw state and now he stood, shocked to consider that this bird may have given its life not to become the center of their feast, but to become, in his incompetent hands, inedible garbage.

Why, oh why had he agreed to cook for Brutus’ mother, Bertha?

Match the theme of the holiday

In trying to devise a new kind of holiday story, an author can be in danger of straying too far from the holiday’s central theme. Halloween without costumes or candy is just a waste of a good theme. Likewise New Year’s without the spirit of renewal is just another cold day in winter.

Avoid writing stories about holidays that you personally dislike or fundamentally disagree with

Scrooge, having been schooled by ghosts

Scrooge, now with the Christmas program

No reader purchases a Christmas story, for example, to hear a screed about how commercial and exploitative the holiday season has become. They want to use the power of fiction to keep their own hope alive and buoy their spirits through what is a stressful time for most everyone. There’s a reason that Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the most popular and enduring Christmas story ever written. (I mean apart from the story of the nativity of Jesus that is. 🙂 ) In A Christmas Carol, Scrooge starts out a total dick, gets schooled by ghosts and eventually gets with the Christmas program. Readers would not enjoy this story nearly so much if Scrooge started off a dick and had his actions and opinions completely validated. That story would be labeled, in technical terms, “depressing” and rightly so.

Remember to make the holiday central to the plot.

The holiday itself should be essential to the events of the story. A guy in a Hannukah tale should not just be going along and casually note that he should be eating latkes with his Bubbie and then, decide he’s too busy and continue on as if there is no societal expectation during this time of year. There is no point to including a holiday if the characters are just going to ignore it.

But the fall and winter holidays are not the only opportunity for authors who enjoy writing themed stories to try their hand at incorporating holidays into the lives of their characters. I, for one, would love to see more multi-cultural tales. Why not set a story during Epiphany? Or any of the wonderful Pre-Lenten celebrations such as Germany’s Fasching or Brazil’s famous Carnival? Or Dia de los Meurtos?

Apart from Hannukah, non-Christian holidays have been almost completely ignored. Chinese New Year would provide rich material for any writer, as would Japan’s O-bon. And what about Diwali? Or Eid al-Fitr?

thanksgiving-turkey-st-stephanNation-specific holidays have also been given the short shrift. Bastille Day, Burns Night, Hangul Day, Independence Day, Anzac Day…

Heck, even Canadian Thanksgiving could do with a story of its own

But no discussion of holiday stories in romance fiction would be complete without at least giving a nod to Valentine’s Day.

Possibly the most polarizing of all holidays, Valentine’s Day is a volatile mix of potential tragedy and dizzying triumph. Risk and reward. Expectation and disappointment. Yet all the regular rules to writing a holiday story apply. Observe:

mehWhen Binky came off shift at the hospital at seven a.m. on Valentines Day the last thing he wanted to see was a dozen roses. In fact, he would have been happy to have gone red/green colorblind just to avoid having to see one more pink candy heart, balloon bouquet or any plush object embroidered with the words “I WUV U”.

Brutus rolled up in his mustang right on time and Binky flopped into the leather seat.

“You look beat,” Brutus said.

“I hate Valentine’s Day. It’s just a holiday invented by greeting card companies to sell products. It’s manipulative, shallow and stupid.” Binky didn’t like to rant, but in this case he felt it was warranted. “Do you know how many times I’ve seen perfectly good couples break up over disappointment of this one holiday? Not to mention the hundreds of children left outcast and valentine-less, humiliated at grade school? It’s like a holiday designed to shame and depress the singletons of the world.”

“You’re preaching to the choir, baby.” Brutus shifted into reverse and started out of the parking garage. “I’ve never celebrated Straight Pride Day before this and I don’t intend to start now.”

The pair went home, ordered pizza and avoided television for the rest of the night. The next day dawned fresh and hopeful and refreshingly free of artificially hurt feelings.

Oh, B & B, how disappointing are you two? Don’t you understand that Valentine’s Day is the day of public declarations of love? The day when physical evidence of love is presented to not only the object of affection, but to the whole world?

I’m sorry boys, but no one buys a Valentine’s Day story to read about how their two favorite characters didn’t celebrate.

But in a way B & B’s terrible scene hasn’t gone that wrong. It just needs a few tweaks to be a real Valentine’s Day story.

“I hate Valentine’s Day. It’s just a holiday invented by greeting card companies to sell products. It’s manipulative, shallow and stupid.” Binky didn’t like to rant, but in this case he felt it was warranted. “Do you know how many times I’ve seen perfectly good couples break up over disappointment of this one holiday? Not to mention the hundreds of children left outcast and valentine-less, humiliated at grade school? It’s like a holiday designed to shame and depress the singletons of the world.”

“You’re preaching to the choir, baby.” Brutus shifted into reverse and started out of the parking garage. “I’ve never celebrated Straight Pride Day before this and I don’t intend to start now.”

“Straight Pride Day?” Binky had heard men—mainly cynical ones—use this term before, but hadn’t thought Brutus would be one of them. “I don’t think that’s necessarily it.”

“Sure it is.” Brutus pulled out onto the street. “Any other day I can go out to dinner with you and we’d just be two guys who happened to be simultaneously hungry. Valentines Day comes around and suddenly we’re a spectacle.”

“Because we’re obviously on a date?” Binky found himself staring down at his folded hands, trying to grapple with the sudden surge of hurt and anger that welled up at Brutus’ words. “Are you really that embarrassed to be seen with me?”

“I didn’t say that.” Brutus stole a troubled glance to Binky.“See this is why Valentine’s Day is evil.”

“Valentine’s Day doesn’t have anything to do with this.”

“Yes it does.”

“No, it doesn’t. I’d understand if you thought that Valentine’s Day was too commercialized and superficial.” Binky glared at Brutus. His lover stared straight ahead, jaw clenched, muscles working beneath the whiskers that Binky normally found handsome but today just seemed slovenly. “But I can’t believe that your reason for hating it is that you’re uncomfortable being out of the closet.”

“I’m perfectly okay with being out of the closet. I marched in the fucking Pride Parade, okay.” Brutus savagely shifted gears. “Speaking of spectacles.”

“It was hardly a spectacle, and you barely stood out from all the other buff, shirtless dudes…Come to think of it, you were basically hiding in a crowd,” Binky said, flabbergasted. “I guess I never realized it until now.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth, and you know it,” Brutus snapped.

“Then prove it. Take me to dinner tonight.”

“Can’t you see you’re just playing into the hands of the military-industrial-greeting card company complex?” Brutus asked.

They neared Binky’s condo now, and Binky could not help but fire one across the bow.

He mumbled, “Scaredy-cat.”

Brutus pulled over to side and slammed the car into park. He leaned across the bucket seat till his face was inches from Binky’s. “Are you really gonna yank my chain over this?”

“Are you really gonna be such a big chicken?”

A long, silent moment passed while they locked eyes, waiting to see who would blink first.

Brutus said, “Okay, I will. I’m going to go home, take a shower, reserve a table at the swankest, busiest, most public restaurant I can find. And I’m going to take you out.”

“Fine. I’ll be ready at eight.”

“You better be.”

A gift from Brutus, the World's Ugliest Stuffed Animal

A gift from Brutus to Binky, the World’s Ugliest Stuffed Animal

And they’re away! In an effort to irritate Binky while proving him wrong, Brutus could arrive with trite flowers, a tacky balloon bouquet and the world’s ugliest stuffed animal. In retaliation, Binky could hire roving musicians to serenade their table. As the situation escalates, they both realize that they’re having the Best Valentines Day Date ever.

Till the terrorists show up, that is. (I mean, Brutus is a secret agent after all.) Then the tasteless gifts and mariachis can come in handy in the ensuing fight scene!

This scene provides a fresh take on Valentines Day—going out to dinner as a game of chicken—while keeping true to the spirit of the holiday as the lovers’ bond is renewed and strengthened by the end.

So I hope you’ve enjoyed Binky and Brutus’s Holiday Spectacular.

Till next time I remain,

Nicole Kimberling

Nicole is the author of various speculative fiction titles as well as a contemporary romantic mystery series set in the Pacific Northwest. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. She is also the editor of Blind Eye Books. Visit Nicole’s website.

GRNW Spotlight: Blind Eye Books in 2014

Highfell GrimoiresWe asked Nicole Kimberling, head of the LGBT speculative fiction press Blind Eye Books, what their plans are for 2014, and if they can share any tasty tidbits about upcoming releases. 😀

What is Blind Eye Books planning for this year?

In 2014 we plan to release four books. First in new author Langley Hyde will debut with a steampunk yarn called Highfell Grimoires which will be available in both print and digital on May 20th.

Devil-CoverAfter that Astrid Amara has a new alternate-history story set during the Crimean War titled The Devil Lancer, which will be released in print and digital this fall.

(Oh, I hope before the GRNW Meet-Up in September! That would be rad!)

We’re also trying our hand at a digital-first release. Ginn Hale’s continuation of the Cadeleonian Series, titled Champion of the Scarlet Wolf will release in digital format only exclusively on Weightless Books. (We’ll have a print version and a broad digital release in 2015.) This title features Elezar Grunito, who readers might remember from Lord of the White Hell Books One and Two.

I’m also happy to announce that we’ve recently signed Lane Robins, author of Maladicte and other titles, for a book that will also be released in 2015

Blind_Eye_booksAny other projects on the horizon?

As an author, I’m still whittling away at Bellingham Mysteries Six. I love writing Peter and Nick and manage to get a few pages done here and there in between Blind Eye Books projects. In addition to that I’m starting to conceptualize a brand new contemporary mystery series, so I’m excited about that.

Is Blind Eye open to submissions right now? If so, what should interested authors do?

Yes, of course, we’re always open! Starting in 2014 we’re looking to expand into some digital-only titles so that we can add novella and short-story length pieces to our line. Interested authors can email me at

(We love Nicole’s submission guidelines. Check them out!)

Thank you, Nicole! 2014 looks to be an AWESOME year for Blind Eye Books!