Recently I was asked if there was an author whom I admired and why. Well, there are several authors who have inspired me. Many who have personally helped me with my writing and my publishing career. But one author I’ve yet to meet, Jayne Ann Krentz is on my bucket list. JAK has inspired me not just because of her success but also because of her failures. When her sci-fi romances didn’t sell under the penname Jayne Castle, Jayne tried another penname and began writing historical romances. When they didn’t sell, she tried writing contemporary romances. Suddenly all of her books under three different pennames started selling and she became an overnight success with several years’ experience. I say that as a joke, because when we find a new author and think wow, they’ve made it. We don’t always see the years and hard work it took to get there. Now, Ms. Krentz is traditionally published so her story is a bit different than others who have gone the indie route, though I see her and others using the indie methods of marketing to be proactive especially since Covid.
As an indie author we have to wear many hats. We have to be creator, planner and marketer, as well as seller. If you are a creative, whether you are a crafter or a builder, a mechanic or painter, if you are your own boss, you have to wear many hats. It takes different personalities to handle each aspect of the business of being an entrepreneur. For most of us, we would like to just be the creators. We like to make things and that is where we excel. To set up a business plan and figure out how to sell your wares isn’t the same mindset or personality as the person who created the work. You have to put on a new hat and think differently. For many of us we have to train ourselves to do this.
How do you learn to be a businessperson? For an indie author and publisher, we are learning two sometimes three businesses. We want to write the best possible stories, so we learn the craft and business of writing. We want to sell those stories, so we have to learn to market them. If you are looking for a business loan you need to be able to show what your expected growth is. There are several resources but there are also scammers. Who do you trust? This is why I joined RWA: Romance Writers of America and my local chapter, The Heart of Carolina. It’s what I hope to give to my writer’s group in Washington, the Pamlico Writers’ Group and it’s the resource I am so thankful I receive from ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors.
I will be speaking at the Carteret Writers’ Conference in April on Why ALLi and I’ll be giving a brief talk March 28th to the Pamlico Writers’ Group via Zoom on ALLi as a practice run. If you are interested in learning more about what ALLi has to offer or joining Pamlico Writers’ Group or attending the Carteret Writers’ 40th Anniversary Conference, I have provided links below.
The County Compass will be featuring a brief interview with me Thursday, January 19th. To celebrate, I’ve put together a little behind the story information and I’ve placed all of my eBooks on sale for 99 cents through Tuesday, January 24th at all eBook retailers and on my website.
I started out writing historical romantic fiction. I even sent off a couple of manuscripts, pieces of manuscripts and hundreds of query letters to agents and publishers long before doing it by email was a thing. But then tragedy struck and we lost our home to a house fire that pretty much wiped us out. My husband got us all out with our lives. I still have flashbacks of that night.
After losing all of my research books, my big computer and files, my husband and friends encouraged me to get back to writing. I took an online class about creating characters. The instructor said describe someone. I chose my husband. The next day, she told us to change their gender, ethnicity, keep some of their traits but expand others. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever write again but with the love and support of my family, friends and writers’ groups, Rae Lynne was created.
My town, Aurora was the inspiration for the fictional town of Leeward. I decided on a fictional town in order to have a little more creative freedom, but locals recognize places like the Depot Café as Wayside, the Hardhat Lounge and of course, the fossil museum and library.
Chrome Pink was inspired by several things that happened at nearly the same time. I’d created the character Rae Lynne but she was just a paper doll, I didn’t have the rest of her story, but my husband and his boss were restoring a motorcycle in memory of a nephew who’d passed away. At the same time my friend’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and my sister-in-law was always volunteering me for something or other that had to do with Relay-for-Life or other projects. Then I met one of my sons’ friends, a lovely half-Hispanic lady who was very kind but she was tattooed and pierced. When I asked about the tats and piercings, my son simply said, she’d had a rough life. From there, I found Rae Lynne and had my theme for Chrome Pink. https://books2read.com/u/4jaeBk
Reading that North Carolina was ranked 9th in human trafficking and growing up listening to seafood trucks running in the middle of the night got my imagination playing in the dark. What if they weren’t really carrying seafood, or not just seafood?
The Leeward Files was supposed to be a three-book series about three best friends: Rae Lynne-Chrome Pink, Dana Windley-White Gold, and Jenna McKenzie Roberts-Titanium Blue who uncover the town of Leeward’s darkest secrets while finding their strengths and falling in love.
White Gold’s Dana Windley is a force to be reckoned with. She is one of the ladies all small towns need who gets jobs done whether it’s volunteering to coach a youth ball team or organize the local beauty pageant. My sister-in-law loves this book best because she knows she’s one great ladies who inspired the main character. Dana is a plus-size multiracial woman who carves out a place for herself and becomes a hero all little girls can look up to. https://books2read.com/u/brYpjA
Titanium Blue has Jenna McKenzie and her estranged husband Tar Roberts struggling to get on with their lives after separating. This was the first book my son, Jason and his wife, Brandi helped me with. Since they were both in the Army their insight helped me make my character Tar, who was an Afghanistan vet who lost his leg and was dealing with PTSD more real. Jason served two tours in Afghanistan but thankfully returned home and is now retired from the Army. https://books2read.com/u/bzWOrq
After writing the first three books I wasn’t ready to leave the town of Leeward. Evergreen Crystals was supposed to be my first true romance with Rae’s wedding, but I can’t write anything without a murder and blowing something up. “Holidays, weddings and babies are happy occasions until someone ends up dead.” Or in Rae Lynne’s case, arrested. https://books2read.com/u/b68OqE
Red Steel is the final book in The Leeward Files series, my youngest son, a volunteer firefighter and his wife, a photographer, helped me with this book, and were the inspiration for the young couple Billy Grimes and Tracy Harrell. This is the final book is also the spin-off for The Harrell Family Chronicles. https://books2read.com/u/3yEKXB
The Harrell Family Chronicles came about from a dream my husband and I had as a young married couple of owning our own camp. I grew up in the community of South Creek which was at one time known as Stanton-Harrell thus the name, the Harrell Family Chronicles. The Harrell family turned part of a failing farm into a family campground. The middle brother, Charlie and his wife, Liz have seven children and they run the family campgrounds. Charlie’s older brother John runs the farm and his younger brother, Robert is a hunting and fishing guide.
The first book in the series was actually written third when I realized Red Steel couldn’t be the last of The Leeward Files and the first in The Harrell Family Chronicles. Willow’s Retreat deals with estranged married couple John and Willow, the oldest of the Harrell brothers and his wife, Dr. Willow Rider. The difficulty I had in writing this book was how can two people be married for thirty years and not know each other. With my husband’s help I tried to show the relationship and the couple’s choice to stay or go, and how they found their happy ending. Using my research into therapy animals, PTSD and trauma, I tried to craft a story that was both romantic and suspenseful with the deeper story of family. https://books2read.com/u/mgEra7
All of my stories have family as part of the theme whether it is the family we’re born with or one we create. Even though my stories are fiction, I feel it is important to portray honest relationships. Red Steel and Willow’s Retreat also show the family that comes about through shared experiences, such as being part of the local volunteer firefighters.
Janie’s Secrets is about mistakes and second chances. Janie hides behind the safety of her life as a small-town librarian, she even lives at home. She’s afraid to take chances. Afraid of getting hurt and making mistakes. But life is about risk, and if we aren’t taking a risks are we really living? This is a second chance romance. https://books2read.com/u/bpDq79
Roxy’s Betrayal was a lot of fun to write. Where Janie was the good girl in the family who never did anything wrong, well, Roxy was just the opposite. She was known for her bad girl antics and it takes something truly serious to make her forget about herself and put someone else first. But even trying to do the right thing, a bad girl’s got to do a little bad along the way…and boy does she have fun doing it. She falls for the wrong guy who just might be her Mr. Right and together, they save the day. But even being the hero of the story might not be enough to salvage her relationship with her family. She had to betray them to save them. Will they understand? https://books2read.com/u/boD5Na
Christmas Inn at Teach’s Island slipped away from Leeward but not too far. After a visit to Bath, I decided I needed to write a story with it as my backdrop, so I created Teach’s Island ( a combo of Indian Island and Bath). Hurricane Irene devastated this area and took several years to recuperate from. People who don’t live in areas affected by hurricanes don’t understand the devastation. I thought this Christmas romance was a good way to show the rebuilding of the small community and making my bad guy the hurricane instead of a person was good for a change. I also used this novella to set up the next book. https://books2read.com/u/47Ong8
Trent’s Melody was partially written several years ago but I couldn’t get it right. I think the timing was wrong. Using some of the previously written material, I managed to recreate the idea and make a few changes. Trent is Tracy’s twin brother. He’s as different from her as chalk from cheese but I had to dig deep to understand why. This story revealed itself to me like an onion peeling layers away to reveal something new each time. Of all the books I’ve written Trent’s story touched my heart in ways I never expected. For one, it helped me understand one of my sons better. I had a couple of contests, one a song writing contest where my writer friend, K B Davenport sent an awesome song that fit so well within the story. If you love music competition shows like The Voice and home improvement shows like Rock the Block, you’ll enjoy this story. https://books2read.com/u/bz1vK2
I am working on Remy’s Dilemma the last in The Harrell Family Chronicles (for now). I won’t completely leave this world but the next book will be a new point of entry for the series and I’d like to lighten things up, do a little romantic comedy. I don’t know if I can write a book without murdering someone and blowing things up, but I will try. Maybe…
My historical novel, The Americans are Coming, is a cozy mystery. This is more family friendly but I still managed to blow a few things up and kill a couple of people. I can’t help it, it’s an addiction. When seventeen-year-old, wild west show performer Winnie Applegate’s brother Riley is accused of causing the death of a fellow performer, Winnie seeks to prove him innocent. Instead, she uncovers a murder and a family secret that could put her brother and father at risk. What does a mysterious benefactor, an invitation to England and a family secret have to do with murder and sabotage? Winnie along with the young man she plans to marry, and a female Pinkerton agent will uncover the truth of who is really trying to sabotage Colonel Bill Dexter’s Wild West Extravaganza even if it kills them. https://books2read.com/u/b6zzRW
I have been selected as an Ambassador for ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors)
Some of you may have noticed a new addition to my banners and cover photos. I am so proud and excited to announce that I have been selected as an ambassador for ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors). ALLi is an advocate for the equitable treatment of the independent author. Their campaigns operate and advise globally creative industry professionals, literacy programs and cultural organizations, the strive to influence and inspire government bodies and decision makers in seven core territories: Australia, Canada and the Commonwealth, Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States.
As an ALLi ambassador the goal is to be a good local source of information about ALLi’s work: their campaigns, membership, efforts on behalf of the industry, and to let authors know about their great resources both free and paid. While ALLi wants to THINK and work globally, they wish to ACT locally. Using the knowledge, resources and experience of its members, ALLi can reach independent authors on their own turf and assist in their market.
While there is still much I do not know, I am constantly learning and seeking information. That is where ALLi comes in. I started following Michael LaRonn, JoAnna Penn and Orna Ross via YouTube and podcast before becoming a member of ALLi. If you have heard these names then you know they are large part of the ALLi family and their efforts on behalf of independent authors has made a big difference in our acceptance by readers and retailers, our education as entrepreneurs, and they given us an advocate for the protection of our rights. If you haven’t heard of them, check them out, and others.
If you are an independent author or an organization that represents independent authors, then ALLi might be the options for you. Have you checked into being a member? I am a fairly new member to ALLi but I have been contemplating joining for several years. With my work with the Pamlico Writers’ Group and the Romance Writers of America especially, my local chapter, the Heart of Carolina, I felt that belonging to one more writers’ group might be too much. I am already the chairperson for the Pamlico Writers and VP of communications for HCRW, but I realized there are still things I need to know. As a leader, I need to be on top of what was happening in the industry and while I could read things after the fact, being part of the Alliance of Independent Authors allows me to have an inside view of what is happening. ALLi has a list of approved businesses who other authors have worked with and the have a watch dog desk to keep authors aware of predators.
Education is the key to any successful business. My husband is a mechanic and each year he has to learn about the new cars. It is important to have reliable resources. I hope to use ALLi to better help my local writers’ groups and to use my local writers’ organizations to help ALLi better serve authors in our community, to broaden their understanding of what is happening here, and to help them make the decisions that will affect changes that will allow more authors to support themselves with their craft.
If you are interested in being a member of ALLi, or are thinking about it, here are their four branches of work:
ALLi’s mission is to foster excellence and ethics in self-publishing.
We empower authors through community and collaboration—author forums, contract advice, sample agreements, contacts and networking, literary agency representation, and a member care desk.
We advise, through our Self-Publishing Advice Center—blog, podcasts, emails, magazine, guidebooks.
We monitor the self-publishing sector—watchdog desk and approved partner program.
We campaign and advocate for independent authors throughout the publishing and creative industries globally.
Discounts on self-publishing services
Approved partner directory and database of services e.g. editors
Free guidebooks, member magazine and resources
Sample contracts & agreements and a contract review service
Dedicated literary agent & rights services
Private member forums—ask questions and receive helpful advice
As an indie author it is sometimes difficult to take a leap of faith and spend money on ourselves and our careers, especially when we have a limited budget. We tell ourselves it’s a dream or hobby and it’s difficult to believe it’ll ever be anything more.
I put off taking Sarra’s class for a couple of years because I was afraid. I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough, that spending the money would be a waste of time. That I would never be a success. But learning to believe in myself, is one of the greatest gifts I received from taking Sarra’s classes. Sarra’s Publish and Thrive gave me the tools I needed to build my career and I learned to trust myself with my publishing future.
A brand new round of Publish and Thrive is coming up, starting on July 30th. I know y’all have heard me talk about my adoration for Sarra Cannon and her program. Sarra is a “Feel Good” person. Even on her YouTube channel you see her shining spirit. She does her best to lift up her students and followers. Sometimes I listen to her videos on repeat just to lift my mood.
As a Publish and Thrive student alumni Sarra’s classes are available to me for a lifetime. I can re-take the program whenever she offers it, even when she makes changes like this year. There is so much to learn and do as an indie author, it’s not just about writing a great novel. Sarra helps her students navigate the immense challenges of planning, publishing and marketing our books. She is available for questions and we often learn from each other during the question and answer sessions, and the Facebook group.
Sarra is rerecording the lessons and adding some new features. I can hardly wait to see what she has planned for us. While I am more of a pantser than an outliner, but thanks to Sarra’s programs I’ve learned to plan both my stories and my jobs to be done.
PUBLISH AND THRIVE:
$399 Pay in Full
$75/ month for 6 months
$38/month for 12 months
THRIVING AUTHOR BUNDLE:
$499 Pay in Full
$90/month for 6 months
$45/month for 12 months
The course begins with a live kick off call on Saturday, July 30th at 2PM Eastern.
The course has been extended to 6 weeks, so our final live Q&A will take place September 10th.
HB90 will start that following Sunday on September 11th.
If you can touch one life, make a difference for one person then you have led a successful life. I am just one author who has benefited from following Sarra Cannon’s Heart Breathing YouTube channel. I fell in love with her honesty, her openness and her willingness to share the bad as well as the good parts of being a published author. As an indie author, we have to be our own boss, manage our own business, do everything from plan the stories to marketing our books and making sure all the bills get paid. It can be overwhelming. That’s why I am so glad Sarra offers her Publish and Thrive Course. As an alumni, I can take the course for free anytime she offers it. The next round begins Monday, February 7th and I’m going to be front and center. Sarra has some new things she wants to share and I am so excited.
I understand that $399 is a huge investment. Sarra allows students to break the payments down in a couple of ways, $75 a month for 6 months or $38 a month for 12. If you can’t afford to take Publish and Thrive at this time, believe me, I understand. I’ve raised six sons and had to do some creative bookkeeping to make ends meet. Check out Sarra’s YouTube channel https://youtu.be/7vMuLBV-TIU
I have been following Sarra’s YouTube channel for several years. It wasn’t until I met her in person at a Heart of Carolina Writers’ Conference that I got brave enough to take a chance on myself. That is what this investment is, it’s about believing in yourself, your craft and doing whatever you can to be the best you can be. I am so thankful for this program and for the chance to take a refresher. There is so much I need to learn, re-learn, be reminded of, and I’ll be honest with working full time, sometimes I have to make a choice on what I’m focusing on this time. Each time I feel like I’ve gain another piece of the puzzle.
I am a HUGE advocate of studying writing craft books, listening to author interviews, and writing advice videos and podcasts. I take a lot of online classes in a variety of subjects to improve my writing. One of my pet peeves, the thing that will make me so angry, is when an author tells me their way, is the ONLY way to write! Now, I am hardly a genius or even a bestselling author but Neil Gaiman, who is a story telling god, said during an interview at the end of his ten-year anniversary edition of American Gods (paraphrased) that he told his friend and fellow author, he’d finally learned to write a novel, but his friend said, no, you’ve learned to write this novel.
Indie author Michael La Ronn whom I discovered via YouTube, tells of writing his novels using several different methods. He even rates the methods on one of his videos. Like Mr. La Ronn I have tried different techniques, some with more success than others. But the truth is, you have to find what works for you or what works for this book.
Every author has their own style, their own method of writing. Some writers have to plot out every minute detail before they can start, but others prefer to discover the story as they write. They have to do what works for them or they cannot create. When I hear an author say you have to do this or that in order to write, I cringe. As a new writer, I wanted to learn to outline and plot my stories and do character analysis and diagram my stories so I could give readers a better story. BUT that didn’t work for me. That is not to say I did not learn important information in those classes, books and programs. I learned what works for me and what didn’t. I learned to adapt things to fit my needs and that is the key point I’m trying to make. Do take the classes, do read and learn from other authors but do not feel that you have to do things exactly as they have done in order to write a great novel and be a success.
One of my favorite authors to follow and listen to is Sarra Cannon. She is the author of several young adult series and new adult books, her most famous ya series, Beautiful Demons has sold over a million copies and her Heart Breathings YouTube channel has over forty thousand followers. She teaches a course called Publish and Thrive which is an amazing program for any writer but especially if you are an indie or hybrid author. While her method of writing, which requires a lot of planning, outlining and then post writing discovery, which I admit I don’t always use, but it has taught me what to look for to be sure my story is complete. I have learned to adapt many of her ideas in a way that best works with my style of writing. I truly love Sarra’s way of teaching because she doesn’t say her way is the only way.
I’m on this soap box because of a recent book I purchased for a program, Lisa Cron’s Story Genius. Now, not to completely bash Ms. Cron, I loved her Wired for Story, and there was much in Story Genius I also thought was well, genius but when anyone deals in absolutes, I get a little antsy. I was angered by what the author had to say about pantsers and especially what we do not do our due diligence which results in our failure. As a pantser, or now I might admit to being more of a plantser, as I do plan some of the details of my stories prior to writing. And while I’m not a famous author with several best sellers under my belt, but Mr. Lee Child is, and he is also a pantser. Like me, Mr. Child likes to discover the details of the story along with the reader. To plot or outline it in advance would kill the joy.
While I disliked much of what this author had to say in her how to guide to be a better storyteller, it was her lack of respect for other methods that truly angered me. Do not get me wrong, the author has some valid points. I kept reading because I could glean some nuggets of genius from her book but at one point, I became angry enough to return the book and demand my money back. I don’t do that. I have even tried to go back through the book and to see if I was just being too sensitive or over critical but when I started reading the second time, I got mad much sooner. This is one of the caveats I believe we as writers need to be aware of, even well-meaning people can crush your spirit and derail your efforts if you allow them to. Had I read this book when I first started writing seriously, it would have kept me from publishing. My self-esteem was so fragile that I would have felt trapped and unable to write.
To those authors who wish to share their hard learned knowledge with other writers, I ask that you remember not everyone processes information the same way nor do we produce in the same manner. Be careful of stifling creativity in your desire to show authors a new and better way to write. I will leave both the newbie writer and the master with this, thank you for your inspiration, your words on the page for they fill my dreams with possibilities and hope.
I’d like to welcome the awesome M. Lorrox to my Creekside Café. M. Lorrox and I are both members of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and I’m thrilled to have him at my virtual café.
M. Lorrox: Hi Sherri, I’m happy to be joining you, thanks so much for inviting me!
Sherri: If I ever win the lottery, I’ll build a café near the water where I can hang out with friends and talk about books when I’m not writing or reading. We’ve both been busy lately but if you’re like me you are seldom without a book. What are you reading right now?
M. Lorrox: Oooh, I’d take a lottery prize and start a cafe too, but it would be a half cafe, half rare-books library. I might call it Dusty’s Tomes or something, just for fun. I actually just started reading Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It’s wild and has elements of horror and romance–the two genres I write.
Sherri: I had to chuckle when I read your bio, raised in a barn in rural upstate New York. My father-in-law was raised on a dairy farm just outside Albany. He told me he got here as quickly as he could. He arrived with the Marines. How did you end up in North Carolina?
M. Lorrox: Hey, small world! Another New York ex-pat. I first ventured to DC, where I was a producer for a while and then a professor. My brothers ended up moving to the Triangle, and I visited a lot. I loved it down here, and after a few years, I was able to make the move.
Sherri: You are preparing to launch your first romance novel, but this isn’t your first writing career. According to your bio you wrote your first book in junior high. Although you didn’t publish that book, you have published other books. What made you decide to switch genres? Are you excited about your new venture?
M. Lorrox: I’m super excited! My first books were action & adventure stories with vampires and zombies…a real mashup. I decided to write romance, because I wanted to see more progressive heroes and heroines in love stories—people like me. I wanted to read about sex-positive people having great relationships, and I didn’t want any of them to be millionaires or shapeshifters, so I decided to write the stories myself.
Sherri: Tell us about your upcoming book. When does it go live?
M. Lorrox:Trashy Romance – Curbside Pickup is the stand-alone first novel in the Trashy Romance series of scorching, blue-collar, sex-positive, LGBTQ+ inclusive love stories. It’s about a high school economics teacher and the garbageman who services her neighborhood… It includes a pansexual character, some very hot scenes, and a teeny bit of domination and submission. But it’s a romance, not erotica. There’s ‘loads of love’ in it, tons of emotion, and because it’s an M. Lorrox novel, there’s also some suspense and action elements!
Sherri: I love your website. You’ve done a fabulous job with it. I’m so excited for you and your new author platform, https://mlorrox.com . As authors, especially indie authors, our social media is a huge part of our identity. Your website shows you humor, intelligence and passion, it is very well done.
M. Lorrox: I really appreciate it! I have an MFA and was an artist before anything else. I’ve always loved web design, and I’m glad that I can use some of my visual arts skills in my writing career.
Sherri: You studied and taught Kung Fu? As a child of the seventies I grew up watching David Carradine and the show Kung Fu. I love the beauty and choreography of martial arts and the religious teachings. As an adult I’ve learned the falseness of television but with a Cambodian daughter-in-law who was raised with Buddhist parents, she has taught me more about the religion. Do you practice Buddhism? Do you still study martial arts?
M. Lorrox: I started learning Kung Fu in college, and it was a great fit. After a few years training, I started to teach for that school. It introduced me to Ch’an Buddhism, which is kinda like a Chinese precursor to Zen Buddhism, and from there, yes, I continued to learn about Buddhism. I don’t practice Kung Fu regularly anymore, but I do practice the forms now and then. More recently, I found myself teaching the kids of my friends some self-defense techniques, and it’s been quite rewarding to see them benefit from the ancient skills. Buddhism is important to me too, and I highly recommend that people unfamiliar with its deeper principles to read about it.
Sherri: You’re a motorcycle guy, crotch rocket or cruiser? We’re a motorcycle family. My husband is a mechanic. He restored an old Honda for me. I prefer a small bike, but he keeps trying to get me on a cruiser. Do you still ride?
M. Lorrox: Actually, I ride a naked adventure bike, which I like to think is the best kind of adventure, AND motorcycle! Ha! I used to ride a Honda Shadow though, a cruiser. It’s wonderful to feel the road beneath you, and although I don’t ride much on trails or gravel, my bike lets me, and it feels extra badass whenever I do! I ride pretty often, mostly on twisties or around town, but I always ride as safely as possible. Car and truck drivers: watch for us motorcyclists and don’t F-around on your phone while driving! Thanks. 🙂
Sherri: Your books are described as pan-sexual and non-monogamous, for an old-fashioned woman like myself, it is difficult to think of them as romance. How is the romance genre changing and how are we as members of RWA trying to be inclusive and accepting of more diverse romances? How do we interpret romance? Is it the traditional “Happy ever after” or “Happy for now” scenario or are we opening doors to something else? How do we reach the old-timers like me and open their eyes to other possibilities of what is romance?
M. Lorrox: Well, what is a romance story? Where people fall in love, right? There’s historical romance, gay romance, regency, inspirational, etc. These are just different settings that the romances take place in, or different themes, or different orientations of the people. Pan-sexuality is an orientation (for those unfamiliar with it, the big difference (to me), is that it rejects the notion of binary gender in bisexuality). Non-monogamy, I’d say, is a relationship style or choice. But they’re humans falling in love, and LOVE IS LOVE!
I think the romance genre is changing with more stories being published that reflect or highlight these alternative lifestyles. How to be more inclusive of these kinds of romances? Read them! Fall in love with the characters, even if they may not be attracted to the same gender of people, or if they choose to practice a style of relationship that’s different to you. Besides connecting with an interesting character with views different from the reader’s, the reader can experience a different kind of emotion as the characters face different kinds of challenges. Just like more traditional romances, the emotional journey of the characters is the most important. I think we should interpret romance genre stories as love stories, and so I don’t see why a story about person X or Y or Z or Q falling in love with _____ can’t be romance genre.
Sherri: As a member of RWA and Heart of Carolina we felt the impact of the recent upheaval and both of us along with many others debated leaving the organization. I know my reading habits are not as inclusive as perhaps they should be. When I read for pleasure, I want to read what I like but in the hope of educating myself and becoming more understanding of other authors and their needs, I’d like to widen my reading pallet. How do we go about finding authors of differing viewpoints, ethnicities and ableness in order to read and show our support?
M. Lorrox: First off, you’re doing it right now by asking questions and opening a door. There are plenty of people that want to walk through, but it’s so much easier if someone on the inside opens that door for them, especially in a historically not-inclusive situation. I’ll thank you again for inviting me on, because you’re doing the work that RWA aims to do!
I’ve got a great suggestion on how to explore these new kinds of stories, and it’s not just ‘read them,’ although that’s certainly key. That book I mentioned, Gideon the Ninth, was a huge success, and I’d be surprised if most readers hadn’t either seen the cover or read a blurb about it. It topped the charts, reaching #1 in various LGBT romance categories on amazon, but it was also a top seller in a number of other categories. By browsing the top seller lists, or Amazon or Goodreads, you’ll be exposed to books that other people are loving. While there’s no subcategory for non-monogamy or pansex yet, LGBT subcategories will suffice to give you lots of options for what kinds of inclusive stories other readers are loving–and that you might too! Bloggers who cover queer media are also a good resource for learning more about the community and its creatives.
The ARC is available until 11/15/2020. Links to it are on the site, and I’d love to have you, and any of your readers, read it!
Sherri: Thank you M. Lorrox for taking the time to talk with me and readers. Time is getting away from us quickly, if you enjoyed our chat follow M. Lorrox on social media you can find his links below and stay tuned for his upcoming book, Trashy Romance-Curbside Pickup by M. Lorrox due out November 15, 2020! Thank you M. Lorrox for stopping by my Creekside Café, I think it’s time for a drink. Name your poison.
M. Lorrox: I’ll have a kombucha cut with seltzer, please!