Let’s Talk About Sex

First things first, let’s get this out of the way. Today is another book release day–the last one for a few months. So, if you haven’t purchased your copy yet, the guy below can be bought here.

Also, I was so fortunate to collaborate with @DeanColeWriter on the covers for the JACOB MICHAELS IS… series. He was an absolute God-send that made my work really shine. After he designed the first book cover, I didn’t have to tell him anything except the future titles for him to create the perfect cover for each book. I don’t have words to explain how much I loved having him do the covers for JMI (he also designed the cover for THE GRAVITY OF NOTHING). If you’re a writer looking for a designer to collaborate with, don’t be afraid to reach out to him. You can click on his Twitter handle above to reach out to him, or click on the advertisement in the toolbar on the right. You won’t regret it!

But, let’s talk about sex now, shall we?

Within the last few days, I was having a private conversation on Twitter with a few other people in the Writing and Reading Communities. Three of us in the group started to discuss being labeled as erotica authors…even though that is not really what most (or any) of our work is. Collectively, we were all somewhat confused by how that happens to writers.

Then, one person said that she felt that books with M/M (male/male) pairings are just automatically seen as taboo–as compared to books that have heterosexual relationships. Of course, this could be applied to any LGBTQ+ pairing in a book–as long as that romantic relationship is at the forefront of the story.

Immediately, I pointed out that, though not often maliciously, but instead, ignorantly, some people assume that M/M relationships are all about sex, so, of course a book with a M/M pairing would make certain people assume that there will be graphic sexual situations.

At its core, people automatically assuming a M/M romance will also be erotica is low-level homophobia.

To believe that heterosexual relationships are deeper and have more meaning, and that homosexual relationships are just about sex is ignorant at best. This doesn’t make me mad–maybe frustrated–because I don’t think most of the people who hold this opinion are intentionally trying to cast gay people in a bad light. They are just misinformed.

Guess what gay guys in a relationship do besides have sex?

Pay bills.

Work jobs.

Have children.

Discuss finances.

Argue about who put the milk carton back into the fridge with only a sip left in it.

Fight over who the real cover hog is.

Go grocery shopping.

Talk about things that happened at work that made them feel bad.

Investigate who dropped the Death Fart™ that woke them up in the middle of the night.

Attend funerals, weddings, church.

They hold hands and support each other when there is tragedy and loss.

They celebrate when joy comes.

Depending upon the couple, gay men in relationships may do a lot of fucking or a little fucking, or some level of fucking between the two.

Writing “fucking” is fun.

Being gay does not mean that a person’s life will have a higher or lower level of fucking than anyone else’s. It just identifies who you will be doing that fucking with–should you be so lucky and want to do it.

Gay men–like any other pairing–experiences times when there is no fucking. When there is illness and grief and the most important thing is being there for each other emotionally and mentally. They lean on each other in the hard times and lift each other up. They congratulate each other when a job is well done and tell each other when they could do better. Like all good relationships, each man in a gay relationship will push the other to be their best self, autonomous from each other.

But we are sometimes more angst-riddled, equally angst-riddled, or less angst-riddled than other couples. Not every gay relationship is dramatic. Sometimes they are quiet and strong, yet just as passionate as any other relationship.

Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that part of this problem has been started by heterosexual female writers who fetishize gay men. I get that you have your fantasies and these books help boost your sales. I, too, get a tingle thinking about two guys humping like rabbits. But when you are a heterosexual female writer who reduces gay men to beings who merely thrive on sex–you’re ignorant at best and homophobic at worst. You’re doing a disservice to gay men when you write these stories. We are more than our penises and our sex drive, my fellow writers. Of course, and I’m not really joking, if you are a heterosexual female writer producing these stories about men over the age of 50, I will give you a pass. Those men get reduced to being old farts reminiscing about the one time they saw Bette Midler on Broadway and flouncing about telling the younger gays what it meant to be gay “way back when.” Those men are also more complex than that and deserve a full spectrum of humanity.

To me, it seems like the publishing world wants to flag LGBTQ+ books at times because these might be “taboo” stories if they have romance in them. Homophobia aside–you’re just as likely to see two characters having sex in a Stephen King novel as you would in any of my books. Conversely…

Consider my latest novel, BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE. The heat factor in it is almost zero. Unless you find deep emotions and discussions super sexy. In the entire 304 pages, there is a single romantic kiss. That’s it. And it is obviously, at least in part, an LGBTQ+ novel. Instead of being reductive and balancing the relationship between the two main characters simply on sexual attraction (and getting it on), I wanted to show how two people (regardless of gender or orientation) go through the first step of falling in love. I wanted any human who wants to fall in love to see themselves in the present day chapters of the story.

And I hate that I felt the need–and it was almost required of me–to list the book as an LGBTQ+ novel because the story could have had any genders or orientations for the two main characters and still had the same resonance with readers.

Deep down, I don’t think publishers and the publishing world have LGBTQ+ as a genre so that LGBTQ+ people can more easily find those novels, but to warn homophobes that they might not want to buy this book. It’s censorship in many ways.

I’ve never understood a person who feels uncomfortable reading about two men or two women falling in love. I certainly don’t get disgusted by heterosexual pairings. Love is love is love. It’s all beautiful. Admittedly, conditioning might play a role in the way that I see things. I am gay, so I feel good with LGBTQ+ relationships of all flavors–yet I was constantly exposed to heteronormativity growing up, so heterosexual romance is not disturbing to me either–though I do all I can to stomp out any heteronormativity in the media I consume. I can understand that someone might not want to read any erotica because they don’t enjoy gratuitous sex–but romance is nearly the same from one type of relationship to the next.

We’re all humans. Almost all of us want to be loved and love someone back. We all want to argue with someone about why they keep leaving their dirty socks on the goddamn bathroom floor!

Don’t get me wrong–I do enjoy the LGBTQ+ tag on books at times, because sometimes I am specifically looking for a nice gay romance. Or maybe a lesbian romance. Sometimes I want to read about an asexual or bisexual main character. Maybe I want to read a novel with a transgender main character. It’s easier to find these novels if they are tagged.

But I also want to read about heterosexual love. Beyond that, I want to read about the African American experience and the black experience in general. I want to read about Asian characters (the entire spectrum, not just Chinese or Japanese people). I want to read Latinx experiences. I especially want to read these if they are Own Voices. And I don’t want to be warned about it. I won’t spontaneously die if I find out that a character looks differently than me or loves differently than me.

Understandably, content tags/warnings are being used more widely in the publishing world now. I don’t personally use them (except in one book that was very dark) but I appreciate them. Psychological, emotional, and physical things described can be very triggering for people who have experienced trauma, so it is nice to have a heads up. However, if you need a content warning that two boys might kiss…you might need to educate yourself on the fact that most of the world is *whispers* not like you.

Ultimately, I think that I’ve decided that the publishing world has the LGBTQ+ tag because they assume everyone reads romance for titillation or to see their exact self reflected back to them. They don’t realize that some people just want to read about people who find love, plain and simple, regardless of what that looks like on the outside. The publishing world assumes that, for example, a gay man like me, is picking up a romance novel because I want to be “turned on” by the pairing–thus, I’d want M/M pairings only–instead of just wanting to swoon over a really well-written romance about two people.

Regardless, I obviously don’t have the answer for how we fix this problem of LGBTQ+ M/M romance being equated with erotica (also, FYI, sex scenes in a book do not automatically make a book “erotica,” though I have written an actual erotica novel). I simply wish that people would consider why they feel this way when they see the M/M romance tag. Admit to yourself that your bias and ignorance is showing and…do better.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Word of Mouth

Last year, I joined The Lion Fish Press to publish all of my future books. In fact, you might not have heard anything about it, but my debut book with The Lion Fish Press (and their first book as an imprint) dropped today. A little guy titled BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE. I haven’t said much about it, so maybe you weren’t aware, but I’ll just drop this right here:

Regardless, I have learned one thing about publishing that is the same for indies–which I was–and writers signed to imprints and publishers–which I am now.

Word of mouth is EVERYTHING. Everything, everything, everything.

Unless you’re James Patterson, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, or Neil Gaiman, and you have a built in audience of millions…you need to get people talking about your books. Especially with each other. Especially leaving reviews. Especially mentioning your work on their social media. You just need to get a discussion started about what you’ve worked so tirelessly on so that it becomes part of the collective conscious. Marketing (graphics, videos, and ads) are all important, but they mean nothing if they do not connect with a part of a potential reader.

You can have the coolest ad in the most read magazine, blog, or website–but a pretty thing is just a pretty thing. When someone sees the marketing medium in front of them, of course you want it to catch their eye so that maybe they will stop and learn more about your work. Maybe they will even make a purchase. Maybe it will make them talk about it with others. But, more importantly, if their first thought can be: “That’s that book I heard so-and-so talking about!” it’s even better.

If you can get someone to have a thought such as that, you’ve really made an emotional connection with a potential reader. People are more likely to look at a piece of marketing, or stop to look at a book in a store, if they know someone they care about who said something nice about it.

So…how do you make a connection with readers? How do you get people talking about your book?

First and foremost, it is important to know what my main goal as a writer is (besides writing quality stories people want to read). I want to write books that have a life. If I ever debuted or hit number one on any chart, that’s great. However, what I most desire is to sell books consistently, constantly growing my reader base, writing books that people emotionally connect to, and having a long career as a writer. Being famous is not my goal (being rich is another story). I just want good books that sell respectably and find the people who want to read them and enjoy them. My biggest nightmare is having a book debut at number one, selling a lot of copies immediately, and then just fading away.

Great stories. Invested readers. Long career. That is what I am aiming for in my writing journey.

So…I take more of a grassroots approach in building my readership. I talk to people. I share snippets of my writing. I ask people to beta/critique. I read others work and promote them, too. I feel that all of us lesser known writers need to pull a few people towards the spotlight with us. Being rich and famous means nothing if no one is emotionally invested in your stories or your journey as a writer.

It makes my heart explode with rainbows when someone DMs me or emails me to say: “So-and-so told me about this book of yours, so I read it and loved it. I’m going to tell everyone I know about it!

You literally can’t buy that kind of publicity. If you have thousands of dollars to blow, you can have ads pretty much anywhere you choose. But to have someone read your book and love it so much that they go out of their way to tell others about it…that is priceless PR, my friends.

Phrases that always thrill me are: hidden gem, why don’t more people know about this, bought a copy for, and the like. I love seeing readers really invested in the success of one of my books and the characters. That, more than anything, tells me if I did a good job.

My method of getting word out about my work is a slow climb uphill, but I feel that I am building a loyal and friendly reader base that will (hopefully) be with me until I am done–whenever that may be. Even if there comes a day that I no longer want to write–or just can’t–at least my books will have their own life through readers’ word-of-mouth.

So…how do you help the writers you love (not just me)?

As I’ve mentioned, tell a friend (or 50 friends) if you really enjoyed a book.

Leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository–wherever the book is sold.

Write a blog post if you have a blog.

Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – light up social media with your love for what you’ve read.

You don’t have to say anything more than: “I love this book!” Insert a link where people can buy it, or a picture of the book, and you’ve done so much for the author.

Also, don’t just buy the book from Amazon. If you like supporting indie bookstores, get the ISBN (it will look like this: 978-1951860011) and take it to your local bookstore. Ask them to order it. Go to your local Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half-Price Books, or other major chain and ask them to order it. This puts the book on the bookstore’s radar.

Ask your local library to carry a copy. Give them the ISBN to help them find it and order it.

If you have a monthly book club, suggest that the book is a monthly choice to read. If the author of the book is near you, invite them to come speak when you discuss the book.

Or, if you’re not comfortable doing any of these things, just send the author a message telling them you loved their work. It’s such a boost in confidence and will keep the writer chasing their dreams.

Whatever you do, if you love a book, don’t keep it to yourself. Put that love and positivity out into the universe. We all could use it.

Last but not least, we all know that JMI6 is coming out in 2 weeks. However, my next book after that will be a YA Fantasy novel called A MILLION LITTLE SOULS. It will arrive on 4.14.20. You might remember seeing a cover for it already, but now that I’m with the imprint, it’s been given a new cover. Check it out!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Happy New Year, you beautiful, amazing people! How do you like my David Bowie impersonation? I hope 2020 is turning out wonderfully for all of you so far!

For the first post of 2020 I thought it was important to let everyone know about changes coming to Chase Connor Books. I wanted to let everyone know that I will continue to blog, but only bi-monthly (the second and fourth/last Tuesday of every month–for example, the 14th and 28th of this month). Hopefully, with a new blogging schedule, I will be able to produce higher quality posts that do a deeper dive into whatever writing topics I blog about every other week.

This means that next Tuesday, 1.14.20, BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE will drop (have you pre-ordered your copy yet??) and you will get a fresh-ass blog post from yours truly. I know you’re all just dying!

In the coming months, I will focus my posts on writing and book topics only and “Chase’s Diary” will be to inform any interested readers of projects I am working on. You can find it by clicking on the toolbar to the left.

Also, you will notice that the home page of Chase Connor Books will be redirected to “Chase Connor’s Books” – the actual page where you may click to purchase my books. To access blog posts, you will have to click on the blog archive found on the toolbar on the right. Scroll down and you will see a list of months – just click on a month to take you to an archive of each post.

You might also want to follow me so that you will get an email anytime I upload a new post, or join the mailing list so you can be notified of any exciting Chase Connor news. Both methods for following CCB can be found on the right as well.

Regardless, I will continue to post to Twitter on the Tuesdays that I upload a new post. You can follow me on Twitter here.

So, as we move further into 2020, I hope we can all continue to share our reading and writing adventures and fill our lives with hope, light, and love.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,
Chase