Author Archives: Andi Marquette

Questions answered!

Hi, everybody! Every once in a while, I take random questions from people and post them here along with my answers. This is one of those times. So here, you go. Auntie Andi’s on it.

1. From Fran (a 2-fer!)
A. “Is it easier now for lesbian authors to get published without having to go the vanity press route?”

Yes. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on your view. Here are my pros and cons, which I stated elsewhere today:
PRO: gets more books to people, allows easier access for those who are isolated.
PRO: brings more attention to lesfic and F/F writing, which allows access to more “mainstream” venues.
PRO: expands the audience for lesfic and F/F
PRO: expands networks of writers worldwide

CON: through “mainstreaming,” are we perhaps losing an aspect of creative lesbian culture that has sustained us for decades?
CON: (this applies across the board, though)–loss of “gatekeeping” and, in some cases, quality control (not all, and I’m certainly not suggesting that traditional houses don’t publish poo or mistake-ridden books–this does happen).
CON: perhaps unravels tight-knit lesfic creative culture and instead creates disparate pockets of lesfic without coherent networks.
CON: an overabundance of writers means a market glut and it becomes more difficult for individual writers to find an audience.

NOTE: I am not in any way judging either traditional or indie publishing, as I do both. These are merely observations.

B. Also from Fran: “Are you seeing more lesbian/gay content in mainstream writing? Is it gaining cultural acceptance?”
I’m not sure how to define “mainstream.” I think that LGBT characters are appearing more and more in so-called “mainstream” fiction, but I think it’s harder to find LGBT main characters (a few exceptions–e.g. Ellen Hart, Sandra Scopettone) and when you do find them, their sexual relationships are totally curtailed. Whereas in, say, a “heterosexual” thriller you’ll have the main character having sex (however that author expresses the scene, there’s no mistaking what’s going on), but you certainly won’t have an LGBT character having sex (not even a hint of it) in a more “mainstream” book. If there is stuff out there along those lines, let me know!

Overall, I think that will change, with time, however, and same-sex relationships will start to be accepted within mainstream canons. It’s a matter of time, I think.

2. Eh: “Beer or Wine”
Yes.

3. E.J.: “Are you going to get married?”
Dunno. Depends on the woman.

4. From Stephni (another 2-fer!):
A. “Of the seven deadly sins, which do you think is the lesser of the aforementioned?”

I don’t believe in “sin.” Everything on that list is a personal choice, so it’s your choice whether you want to engage in it. Too much of any of ‘em might make people think you’re a douchecanoe, so it’s in your best interest, I suppose, to not be a douchecanoe.

B. Also from Stephni: “Lastly and to finish the seven theme which of the 7 heavenly virtues is the most trying for you to maintain?”
None of them. I try not to be a douchecanoe overall. Except sometimes at the holidays, I might get a little crazy and suck down too much chocolate, which could mean I’m being a glutton, but it seems to me that to be a glutton, you have to do that stuff all the time and not share your chocolate. Is it gluttony if you share your chocolate? I don’t think so. :D

5. From Daniela: “Have you met a deaf person?”
Yes. Several.

6. Also from Eh: “Ever consider updating your covers on your older work? (Just looking at your Far Seek Chronicles)”
Yes. But I don’t consider it “updating.” I consider it “changing.” And if you’re an artist who does that sort of thing for this genre, send me stuff from your portfolio to have a look at.

7. From Joan: “Do you approach fiction writing differently than nonfiction? Are there different rituals or habits of mind you employ? Do you find it harder to do one or the other? Or easier? Wording of your choice, my friend!”
Yes. I enjoy writing fiction more than nonfiction. I write to music, incense, and candles when I’m working on a fiction project (which makes it sound like I’m dating my fiction). Nonfiction stresses me out a bit more because I’m super-anal and it has to have valid, solid sources that support it. I don’t really have a ritual with regard to nonfiction, though I have been known to procrastinate a lot more before working on a nonfiction project than a fiction project. I’d rather be in my own private batcave, writing fiction.

8. From Tara: “Is there anything you can’t do?”
Yes. I still can’t fly, walk through walls, go invisible, or run faster than a speeding train. I keep trying, though. And I can’t field dress a deer. Though it looked pretty cute in that matching camouflage outfit. Oh, and you probably wouldn’t want to trust me with brain surgery.

9. From MM Perry: “Boxers or Briefs?”
Yes.

10. From Linda: “Have you ever written a time-travel story? If not, would you?”
No, I haven’t. I don’t know if I ever will. I have written historical fiction (19th-century; unpublished), but there are lots of time travel stories out there, so I’m not sure what would make anything I’d do different or interesting in that regard. If a story comes along in that vein, I suppose I’ll write it. None have, though.

11. From Diane: “You are a fan of Walking Dead – have you ever thought of writing a lesbian-themed zombie story?”
Yes. I’ve got one kicking around in my head and it has been for a few years. Not sure I’d call it lesfic, though, since it’s the apocalypse and there’s not a whole lot of sexy-time going on. And honestly, there shouldn’t be. You should be busy surviving and not getting your swerve on with every survivor you think is hot. That should be the farthest thing from your mind. Having said that, the MC in the story I’ve been kicking around identified as lesbian prior to the collapse of civilization as we know it.

12. From PA Andrews: “Do you listen the music when you write? If so, what type do you prefer?”
Yes. Each genre has its own type of music and each project has its own soundtrack. You can find out what by checking out my playlists at Spotify. Here are links on my blog:
Far Seek Chronicles: Friends in High Places, A Matter of Blood; Land of Entrapment; From the Boots Up; From the Hat Down.

13. S. Marie: “Toilet paper roll- over or under?”
Depends on whose house I’m visiting. When in Rome…

14. JRob: “How tall are you?”
Not very. But I’m loud, which makes me seem ginormous.

15. J. Chavez: “What are your ties to New Mexico?”
I was born in Albuquerque. I ended up growing up in southwestern Colorado, but spent a lot of time in NM with the family. I returned to Albuquerque in ’92 and was there until ’04. Returned to the Southwest in ’08. New Mexico is home, and will always be home, whether I’m living there or not.

There you go, peeps. Another round of questions answered. Here’s the first round, in case you wondered.

Happy Monday!

I swear.

No, really.

It’s true. I curse. And, like many people who do, I generally use swearage in contexts in which there is precedent for it (i.e. friends and yes, family).

For those of you who know me personally, you’re not shocked by this revelation. For those of you who don’t, sorry. I’ve blown your image of me as a pristine, untainted virginal woman with an entire closet full of white dresses who coyly smiles and demurely defers.

I bring this up today because I was recently answering some questions for a book group and one of the questions I got asked was why there was so much swearing in the book.

Context of question: The book was one of my mysteries, whose main characters identify as lesbian. The book group was predominantly (if not all) women and, I presume, lesbian.

Someone else then said that she hadn’t even noticed the swearing. I responded that there was far more swearing in one of the other mysteries I’d written, and that some people swear. Ergo, some of my characters swear. It’s unrealistic, I think, for characters not to swear. I did wonder what the person considered “swearing.” There were a few F-bombs in the book, but for the most part, it’s “hell” and “damn” in my books, which, on my swearage scale, ranks a bit above “crap” and much below “fuck.”

But the deeper issue here is this:

If I were a man writing mysteries and thrillers (regardless of sexual orientation), would that question even have come up?

I doubt it.

Language conveys many things, including where in the social hierarchy someone is. The way you use language and the way you express yourself linguistically signals certain things to listeners. Language can convey power, and the way you say things (your intonations) as well as what you say provides clues about how you think of yourself, where you’re from, and what your background might be. did-you-mean-damn-with-an-n-or-without--13cea

Swear words (which are found in pretty much every human language) are typically considered “power” words (maybe “scary” words), and have historically been most associated with men. Women who curse have historically (and still) been viewed as “unladylike,” “dangerous,” “uncouth,” “ugly,” “trashy,” “harlots,” and [fill in epithets here; the list does go on]. Buzzfeed has a nice GIF-ridden list that addresses the double standard that women face when they curse.

Professor of linguistics Robin Lakoff opened a whole new field in linguistics — language and gender as an object of study — in 1975. She identified “women’s language,” i.e. the characteristics and kinds of language women were expected to use and often were socialized to use. Here’s a chapter she did, “Talking Like a Lady” (Language and a Woman’s Place, 1975). Below, a relevant quote from said chapter.

Allowing men stronger means of expression than are open to women further reinforces men’s position of strength in the real world: for surely we listen with more attention the more strongly and forcefully someone expresses opinions, and a speaker — unable for whatever reason — to be forceful in stating his views is much less likely to be taken seriously. Ability to use strong particles like “shit” and “hell” is, of course, only incidental to the inequity that exists rather than its cause. But once again, apparently accidental linguistic usage suggests that women are denied equality partially for linguistic reasons, and that an examination of language points up precisely an area in which inequity exists. Further, if someone is allowed to show emotions, and consequently does, others may well be able to view him as a real individual in his own right, as they could not if he never showed emotions. Here again, then, the behavior a woman learns as “correct” prevents her from being taken seriously as an individual, and further considered “correct” and necessary for a woman precisely because society does not consider her seriously as an individual.

And if a woman “appropriates” what’s considered male language, she also runs the risk of being ridiculed and dismissed for “stepping out of line.” Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t (see what I did there?).

This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked that question. And each time (around 7 or 8 times, now) it gets asked, it’s a woman who identifies as lesbian wanting to know why there’s “so much cursing” in my books. Have you read John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books, I ask. And usually, the answer is “no.” Well, I say, there’s your point of comparison.

And, yes, swearage can also be a function of one’s background. I grew up in a household that used swearage in appropriate contexts. I also grew up around a lot of public defenders and other attorney-types and I’ll tell you right now, the swearage was strong with that group. Both men AND women. I grew up in a rural western town, where we snuck swearage into our conversations during high school lunch breaks and after school, and learned how to wield it with our friends. Furthermore, I’m not religious, so any kind of religious moratorium on swearage has no context in my life. And, let’s be honest, here. I grew up with strong women. Who swear.

I come by my swearage honestly.

But again, the deeper issue here is the fact that if I were a man writing, I doubt I would ever get asked why there’s “so much swearing” in (some of) my books.

And what, exactly, is “so much”? How much is that? I’m only granted one F-bomb per 100 pages? I have a finite number of “hells” and “damns” I can use? Do dudes writing have a finite number of swear words they can apply to their work? Again, I doubt it.

Regardless, I don’t believe in quotas on swearing. And I don’t believe that women shouldn’t swear, because I think ultimately, that’s what’s really at the root of that question. Some people swear. Others don’t. Some of my characters swear. Others don’t. It depends on the scene, genre, story, and the characters’ arcs.

Basically, in my world, women swear.

For realz.

To explore this further, see the following links:
Robin Lakoff, The Language War (2001)
Profanity and Gender: A Diachronic Analysis of Men’s and Women’s Use and Perceptions of Swear Words”
An Encyclopedia of Swearing
A Brief History of Swearing
Swearing: A Social History…
Swearing can help with pain
9 things you may not have known about swearing

Happy Monday!

Diving into the writing fray off your PLATFORM

Hi, peeps! Hope everything is groovy with you and yours.

First, we’re doing a big-ass giveaway of the anthology I co-edited with R.G. Emanuelle, All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica at Women and Words (AYCE scored an honorable mention in the Rainbow Awards! YAY!), so run on down and get in on that. We’ve got 2 print copies and 5 ebooks to give away. HERE IS THE LINK TO DO JUST THAT. You have until Tuesday, 9 PM EST U.S. time to play.

And now, I thought I’d just chit-chat a bit about writing. Because that is ostensibly what I do up in here. Today, let’s talk marketing. In sort of a broad sense.

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Oldies but goodies (plus update)

Hi, kids!

First, the anthology I co-edited with R.G. Emanuelle is now available in print! WOOO! Go get some.

AllYouCanEat-197x300

And second, I’ve been doing a lot of mystery/thriller reading these days, trying to get inspired to write a mystery/thriller short story. I’ve never written a short story in that genre, so I’m a little tentative about it. I do have an idea, but I haven’t really had the time to sit down and hammer away at it. I’m hoping this weekend is the key.

Anyway, I just finished Walter Satterthwait’s Joshua Croft series, which he published in the late 1980s and early- mid-1990s. Croft is a PI in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the five books (listed HERE) are full of local color and the quirks and vagaries not only of Santa Fe, but of northern New Mexico and its myriad characters. For that alone these are worth the read, but what Satterthwait does so damn brilliantly is characterization and dialogue.

Croft is a wiseass, and the snappy interchanges between him and the other characters that fill these books with New Mexico goodness and maybe a touch of Southwestern noir lend great pacing to the plot arcs and subplots. Satterthwait is a master at pacing, and his descriptions and turns of phrase can be both brilliant and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Witness this, from The Hanged Man, the fourth in the series (that deals with murder most foul in a part of Santa Fe’s new agey community). Here, Croft is about to interview someone who was at the gathering at which a man was later found murdered. He’s gone to her house and is noticing its décor:

The basic motif here appeared to be Egyptian. …There was enough marble in the room to slap together a life-sized replica of the Parthenon. Even the floor was marble, black, as shiny as obsidian. That floor might be pleasant in the summer, on the two of three days when the temperature in Santa Fe rose above eighty-five degrees. During the winter, it was probably a bitch to keep warm. But I suppose that if you could afford a marble floor, you didn’t worry about heating the thing. You just marched your Nubian slaves in from time to time and had them breathe on it. [p. 26]

And one of the interesting things is that there are LGBT characters that pop up in some of the books, and they’re not treated disparagingly. They’re part of the fabric of the culture in Santa Fe, and for books written in the late ’80s and early 90s, that’s actually really cool.

Anyway, I also read crime fiction written years ago to get a sense of how investigation has changed over the years, and what techniques people used to track down suspects. Having a historical sense of shifts in methodology, I think, can help a writer develop a better sense of the many different ways people use to find information. And indeed, ol’ skool is still used for some things today. Reading authors like Satterthwait not only gives you a sense of shoe-leather approaches, but also of how that type of investigation can influence pacing, characterization, and plot arc.

Reading someone like Satterthwait, who weaves the setting so beautifully into his plots and whose characterization is so good, can also provide you some guidance on writing a thriller/mystery with regard to those elements, and how they should work.

So with that in mind, read the oldies, friends. You can find lists of them at links like this:

Stop, You’re Killing Me!
The Top 100 Thrillers of All Time
100 Mysteries and Thrillers to read in a Lifetime (Amazon list)
Mystery Thriller Writers (Wikipedia list)
Edgar Awards Database at Mystery Writers of America
History of crime fiction

Happy reading, happy writing, happy Wednesday!

Some notes on self-publishing

Hi, peeps –

Today, I thought I’d give you an overview of my self-publishing journey. For those not in the know, I am a hybrid author, meaning I publish some of my stuff through traditional houses and I self-publish some of my other stuff. This model works well for me, because I have a full-time day job and I just don’t have the time to really devote to self-publishing all of my work.

Now, before I go any further, I am not at all saying that any one approach is better than another, though you will find people in all camps who wave that banner pretty high. That’s fine. The important thing for you if you’re an author is that there are pros and cons to all approaches. Do your homework and choose the model that best works for you. Some people may be best served through a traditional house. Others may be better off completely self-publishing. And others may choose a hybrid model. The point is, pick the one that best fits you (author, know thyself!) and the time and resources you have.

If you’d like an overview of self-publishing in general, see this post from Writer Beware, posted at the Science Fiction Writers of America.

And here’s hybrid author Chuck Wendig on some pros and cons to traditional publishing versus self-publishing.

So here’s an overview of steps that are involved in self-publishing. That is, the steps I go through. Please add your tips and links to the comments! Share your knowledge and experiences! Share the luv!

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The lull between the storms

Hi, peeps!

Been cray-zee bizzy. You may have noticed. Heh.

I’m currently in that awkward place between projects. Kind of. I’ve published a novel this year, just released an anthology I co-edited (in which I have a story), and had 2 other stories selected for publication in 2 other anthologies. I’m also waiting to hear on whether another story I wrote is selected for a different anthology.

I am working on the fourth installment of my space opera series (I’m about halfway through) and I’m doing a bit of research on the fifth in my mystery series, so I am working on some long-term things, but I’ve just about finished up a whole bunch of things that I wanted to this year. And that feels pretty good.

Having said that, I am trying to hammer out another story this month for yet another anthology, but I’m not sure I’m going to make the deadline. If not, I’m not going to freak out about it because it’s not like I haven’t done any other writing this year.

In terms of my writing life, it generally cycles between completely slammed and these stretches where I’m not pressed to do a whole lot. I like these lulls. I still write during them, but I don’t feel the frantic OMG I HAVE TO GET THIS DONE HOLY SHIT SOMEBODY HOOK ME UP TO A RED BULL IV that can accompany my slammed periods. I also use the lulls to ponder writing projects that aren’t related to what I’m currently working on, and that’s always fun, to think about all different characters. I think that might be why I’ve written a lot more shorter stories this year than in years past. I wanted to hang out with some different characters and see what sorts of things could unspool in the narratives.

I do that, too, if one of my long-term projects is giving me some issues and I haven’t figured out how to write/re-write it to fix it. I’ll write something else — usually a short story or novella-length thing — and that helps loosen the logjam in the other project. There are times, too, that I’ve completely scrapped a project and started over from scratch. I don’t know any author who hasn’t had to do that, so if you’re in the middle of that, don’t freak. It’s normal.

So here. 5 things I do that help with the writing cray-zee.

1. Don’t force it. If a project you’re working on is just not working out, stop working on that one. Work on something else. If even that isn’t working, it’s a sign that you may need to take a couple days off (or more) from writing. In which case…

2. Read. Yeah, you heard me. Go read somebody else’s book. When I’m not feeling it, I read. And I generally read a genre that is different than the one that’s got me hung up. For whatever reasons, that gets me out of my headspace and gets me excited and interested in different kinds of plotlines. That feeds the creative stuff, and helps with logjams. If you don’t want to read…

3. Watch a movie. Or stream something. Some cool series you’ve been wanting to watch. Watch a couple episodes. Or, hell, go ahead and binge-watch. Just be careful with that. You don’t want to get into the habit of binge-watching all the time. But every once in a while, it can help get you out of a writing rut.

4. Get out of your house. Or office. Or wherever you write. Take a walk. Go exercise (which you should be doing regularly anyway, because that, too, helps the creative juices). Go do something in your community like visit a museum that’s having a cool temporary exhibit. Go catch a live music show. Call up some friends (or text or however you do it these days) and meet them for dinner or coffee. Have a barbecue with friends/family. Point being? Remove yourself from writing for a bit. Writers live in their heads. It’s important to get out of your head and, as they say, smell the roses. Besides, if you don’t, you might be missing out on good writing fodder.

5. Take a couple of days and go out of town. No, really. Leave. Even if it’s something goofy like driving a hundred miles to a neighboring town and spending the night at a B&B there. Do it. Go hiking or mountain biking. Rent a canoe and do a day-long tourist-y river float. Being outside in natural surroundings is a cure-all for just about anything that ails you. Don’t believe me? Here. And here. Oh, and definitely here.

source Ahhh...don't you feel better just looking at this?

source Ahhh…don’t you feel better just looking at this?

Find whatever combo works for you. And don’t beat yourself up if you’re in a writing rut or stuck. What that means is you need to recharge the ol’ creative batteries. It’s a normal part of a writing life, to hit ruts. So make it part of your normal writing life to develop healthy strategies to recharge.

Speaking of, what are some of yours? Leave ‘em in the comments and happy Wednesday.

Dig in to “All You Can Eat”!

Hey, kids!

Well, WOOO HOOOOOO! The anthology that I co-edited with fellow author and editor R.G. Emanuelle is officially available as an ebook at Kindle. Other ebook types are busily populating across the interwebz and there will be a print version available in the next couple of weeks or so. AllYouCanEat-600x914

Here’s the Table of Contents for your viewing pleasure:

Introduction

Appetizers

“Fresh Fruit” by Ashley Bartlett
“The Luscious Tarte Aux Fraises” by Historia
“Whining and Dining” by Jae
“Burn” by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Entrées

“Tomato Lady” by Cheyenne Blue
“East Meets West” by Karis Walsh
“Dessert Platter” by Victoria Oldham
“Appetizing” by Cheri Crystal
“Sugar and ’Shine” by Andi Marquette

Desserts

“Vanilla Extract” by Jove Belle
“Smorgasbord” by R.G. Emanuelle
“Crème Brûlée” by Sacchi Green
“Turn the Tables” by Yvonne Heidt

Whew. I’m pretty excited about this one. Really glad it’s making its debut. We’ll let you know as other formats become available and when the print’s ready to go.

Happy Friday!

Another Far Seek playlist

Hi, all!

I just posted another playlist at Spotify for the second book in my Far Seek Chronicles, A Matter of Blood. 25 songs. Scroll on the embedded-ness to check it out or just start listening.

I really dig making playlists, especially when they coincide with the projects I’ve written. I write to music, and depending on the genre, I listen to certain kinds of music. As some of you may have noticed with the playlist to the first Far Seek book, Friends in High Places, I listen to a lot of ambient, world, trance, and chill when I’m working on this series.

I’ve almost finished the playlist for the third, The Edge of Rebellion, so stay tuned for that.

And yes, I am working on a fourth installment to this series, and I’ve already mapped out a playlist for it. The fourth is a bit different than the first three, and the soundtrack I’ve been using for it really demonstrates that, even to me. But the music that I had been listening to for the other two didn’t quite fit the mood or character arcs, so I was kind of surprised to see that some other music made its way into my listening habits for this series as I’ve been working on this.

As an aside, the playlists I construct are generally songs I listened to while I was working on the projects, and/or songs that evoke particular scenes in the books. Some of you may have noticed that my playlists correlate loosely to the overarching plot arc of the corresponding work. I tend to put playlists together like that, so that you take a trip through the music while you’re thinking about/reading the book. If you’re not familiar with my written work, that’s fine! Have fun with the tunes.

And if you’re a newbie here, and you’d like to know more about my work, I have excerpts here on my website for my Far Seek Chronicles, my New Mexico mystery series, my novella From the Boots Up and my novel (the follow-up to Boots), From the Hat Down. And I have a bunch of freebie short stories posted here, too.

At any rate, here are links to my other playlists on Spotify:
Land of Entrapment
From the Boots Up
From the Hat Down

Should be enough music up in there to keep you busy for a bit…heh.

Happy Monday and happy listening!

5 contract tips for first-timers

Hey, peeps!

A colleague of mine and I were talking recently about things like contracts (woo. We’re wild, I know) and it occurred to me that maybe I’d do some tips for you regarding those.

Before I do a brief checklist, Women and Words has a post from a few years back on contracts, done by writer Fran Walker. Check that out HERE. A lot of that still stands, if you’re an author who is considering working with a traditional house. To be clear, I’m not weighting trad over indie here. Not at all. I myself am a hybrid (I do both trad and indie). I’m just offering some tips if you’re considering working with a traditional house.

Also, see my previous link HERE regarding things to watch out for in contracts. This post here is geared more toward the first-time author, but hey. It’s always a good thing to revisit stuff like this.

Okay, so let’s say you approached a trad house and they read your submission and they dug it, so they’re going to offer you a contract. You get that contract via email and you’re all stoked. What should you do?

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I write romance. Therefore I am.

Greetings, peeps! August is Read-a-Romance month, and I’m participating in a blog-o-rama held by the website readaromancemonth.com. Thanks to Bobbi Dumas for the invite! The theme this year is “Celebrate Romance,” and many of you readers out there, I’m sure, do just that. HatDown2a-small

But what if you couldn’t celebrate romance? What if you had to keep your mouth shut about your attraction to someone to protect yourself from rejection by your families and peers, emotional abuse, or possibly physical abuse? What if you had to hide who you really are in plain sight? That if you were brave enough to meet with the person you love most, you could never do that openly, and you could never, ever tell anyone about it? Some Kind of River cover 2012

That’s what it’s like for thousands of LGBTQ people all over the world. Imagine, those of you who do not identify as LGBTQ, what it would be like for you to have to change the pronouns of your life partner to keep your job (currently, it’s legal to be fired in 29 states for being LGBTQ). Imagine what it would be like to hide the love of your life from your family for fear that you will be rejected. Imagine what it would be like to never participate in work functions with your spouse or partner because you can’t risk anyone finding out that you’re not heterosexual.

And imagine what it would be like to be denied access to your partner’s hospital bed in their greatest time of need, and that you’re denied recognition in family gatherings as someone who is happily settled. Or even legally married.

Imagine that the greatest romance you’ve ever had and the most amazing person you’ve ever met will always be unspoken, unrecognized, and unrevealed.

And imagine what it’s like to never be seen as a full human being, but rather reduced to an act of sex — reduced to simply someone who has sex with someone else of the same sex. Imagine that the richness and deepness of your life and the many things you do and think and your career and interests and the myriad connections you have and the family ties you have — whether through blood or bond — is all reduced to one thing: who you have sex with. “Behavior.”

That’s why I write books with lesbian characters, who experience a range of relationships, who work to balance work, family, friends, and all the things that make up a day-to-day getting by. I write them them because their lives, like mine, are not merely a “behavior.”

My life, like my characters’, is a giant, glorious clusterf*ck of crazy and fun and amazing and hard and scary and painful. It’s the sum of all my parts — my past, my now, my future. It’s everything I’ve ever done and said, and all the people I’ve known and currently know. It’s the friends I keep and those I’ve lost. It’s the family I choose and the family I have. It’s the unglamorous day-to-day as well as the great highs and terrible lows. It’s a life, like anybody else’s. Not a behavior. Not a lifestyle.

And romance is a wonderful vehicle to express the messy and great things about being human. That’s why I write and celebrate romance. Because I can. Because I’m very fortunate to be writing in a time when there’s a vibrant LGBTQ publishing world out there, when romance and erotica that feature LGBTQ characters can be written and celebrated and rewarded. AllYouCanEat-197x300

So I write stories about people. People living their lives the best they know how. Yes, they sometimes stumble. And sometimes they’re scared. They carry the weight of old issues and old wounds. They have friends and families and work colleagues and they try to find some kind of balance in all of that. And then something really amazing happens to those people. They cross paths with other people, and in those chance meetings are hints of possibility. Sparks. Maybe frustration. Attraction. Flirting. Romance.
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It’s an adventure, meeting someone who sets fireworks off in your stomach with a smile or the way she laughs. And you notice how she wears her hair and how she sometimes fiddles with the ring on her right hand. And maybe you notice the way she frowns when she’s trying to pick just the right item off the menu. You find out she reads a particular author (you approve), and she likes certain movies and music. You hold on to all these details because maybe, just maybe, you’ll get up the guts to ask her to coffee.Gamble Cover

Or maybe she’ll ask first. Because maybe she’s got her eye on you, too.

And maybe this is the start of a whole new adventure.

That’s why I celebrate romance. Because ultimately, it’s about people and connection and attraction and maybe even love. And the world needs a hell of a lot more of that.

Fun and groovy questions

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did.
Oh, wow. Y’know, every day can be an adventure, and I try to find inspiration everywhere I go. I’ve done a lot of backpacking. In one trip, I ended up living on a beach on the island of Lesvos for a week. Of course, I had inadvertently picked the nude beach. In another instance I had to maneuver five drunk friends across the border from Tijuana into San Diego and we ended up in the middle of a brawl between American frat guys and Mexican guys. We made it with only a couple of scratches. And then there was the summer I lived out of my truck and a tent while helping conduct an archaeological dig in western New Mexico.

There’s adventure and inspiration all around us all the time. You just have to be open to it.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)
I’ve always been writing. I wrote [really bad] poems as a child and some paranormal short stories. I discovered speculative fiction as a child, and so most of what I wrote in junior high and high school was post-apocalyptic and/or fantasy. I wrote my first two (atrociously bad) novels in high school, then wrote a couple more in college and spec fic short stories while working on my master’s degree. I stopped writing fiction while I worked on my doctorate, but then started again in 2007. That was the year I started taking it seriously.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)
This is one of those questions that is really difficult for me to answer because there are so many books from which I have derived inspiration. I will say that when I was around 10, I started reading the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Yes, he was sexist and racist and wrote some really androcentric series, but the man could world-build and even then, I crushed out on his female protagonists (often arm candy for the dudes) and always wondered why those women couldn’t just go and kick ass on their own. Ha, I decided. I’ll write them at some point so they do (and yes, I did). And I guess the novel Thendara House by Marion Zimmer Bradley was the first time I read about two women who were attracted to each other and acted on it and it was an accepted part of the culture she was writing about. Books like Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness, and the fabulous lesbian pulp fiction of the 50s and 60s generally ended unhappily for one or both of the lesbians. Thendara House opened a whole world of possibility and that’s when I started really writing lesbian-identified protagonists. I was around 17 or so.

Some Recommendations

There are myriad writers of LGBTQ romance (among many other genres). I co-admin a blog called Women and Words, and a lot of what we do is feature guest posts by many writers who write lesbian-themed romance. Start there to see who some of them are. And feel free to drop me a line at my contact page with the type of romance/theme you’re looking for and I’ll match you with some authors.

Thanks, all!

Andi Marquette is a native of New Mexico and Colorado and an award-winning mystery, science fiction, and romance writer. She also has the dubious good fortune to be an editor who spent 15 years working in publishing, a career track that sucked her in while she was completing a doctorate in history. She is co-editor of Skulls and Crossbones: Tales of Women Pirates and the forthcoming All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance. Her most recent novels are Day of the Dead, the Goldie-nominated finalist The Edge of Rebellion, and the romance From the Hat Down, a follow-up to the Rainbow Award-winning novella, From the Boots Up.bio-pic_andi-marquette

Check Andi’s website for excerpts and info about where to buy her work. You can also read some free romantic short stories there.

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