Tag Archives: topher carlisle

Belated #TeaserTuesday from Saugatuck Summer (#mmromance coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks) inspired by a FB convo

So over on Facebook, Lisa from The Novel Approach posed this question about barebacking in m/m romance:

Okay, peeps, opinion:

Brand new M/M author, chapter one, first few pages, guys are already gettin’ busy. It’s their first time together, neither are virgins. They bareback, no mention at all of condoms or status.

This is a real-world contemporary, not paranormal, not fantasy.

Thoughts – irresponsible on the author’s part? Not a big deal? What?

This question keeps popping up occasion. Leta Blake has had a couple great posts about her research into why gay men bareback over on her blog, and it came up not long ago at Jessewave as well.

Yesterday, people on Twitter were doing a #UnpopularOpinion thing. Well, here’s mine:

The prevalence of protected sex in m/m romance is out of proportion with reality to the point of being a rather trite.

(/me dons flame-retardant suit. Any flames on this post will be unanswered and/or deleted)

I know WHY this is. M/M romance is written primarily by straight women, and we love the gay men we write about and we want to portray them in as positive and responsible a light as possible and never show them doing things which are, in popular opinion, Bad Things.

But we as storytellers have no moral or ethical obligation to show our characters doing the perfectly correct thing all the time. We do, however, have a moral or ethical responsibility to portray minority characters as fully rounded, complete, un-stereotyped beings. And that means letting them do things that maybe aren’t politically correct.

The Perfectly Correct use of condoms is another branch of the same school of thought that says 1-finger-2-fingers-3-fingers-fuck is the only way to gear up to anal sex, and that spit isn’t lube. Except some men–and women–have anal sex without any manual prep whatsoever, and some of them are perfectly okay using spit as lube. What we assume as gospel because our genre has been preaching it as gospel Ain’t Necessarily So.  When you scream “SPIT ISN’T LUBE” you are basically telling real people who use it as their lube of choice with no difficulties URDOINITRONG.

I think the insistence on the Protected Sex All The Time Unless They Have The Talk trope in m/m romance is its own form of well-intentioned homophobia. First off, because most people don’t raise nearly as much fuss–if any at all–if characters in an m/f romance have unprotected sex. This reinforces the idea that HIV/AIDS is a Gay-Only issue, and yes, it is an issue in the gay community, except maybe there are members of that community who don’t perceive it that way. Who, for whatever reason, to not consider condom usage to be an Absolute Necessity in any and all circumstances. Maybe they’ve just decided it’s their risk to take, for whatever reason they want to risk it.

Secondly, it trivializes the other issues surrounding the choice whether or  not to use condoms, many of which are emotional and personal and subjective to each individual. We like to over-simplify and make it a black-or-white issue, but it ain’t.

If we as writers are going to portray characters within the gay community, we need to give visibility to all its various schools of thought and behavior.

Someday I’m going to write up a blog post about Strain and why I chose the fuck-or-die trope for it. Let’s just say a lot of it has to do with subverting the idea that fluid exchange = death. But this #TeaserTuesday segment is about Saugatuck Summer and one of the many reasons why a character might willfully, knowingly, choose not to use condoms.

And this time I’m going to put it behind a cut because this is actually from Chapter 12 and features a rather significant conflict spoiler.

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#SevenSentenceSunday from Saugatuck Summer (coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – Owning it

As usual, my #SevenSentenceSunday snippet is longer than seven sentences. In this passage, we have Topher, a 21-year-old, slightly gender-fluid college student, answering some questions from his BFF’s dad about himself and the reason he’s estranged from his conservative family:

I gave him a slightly self-deprecating smirk, taking a long drink of my zin before it got warm and bitter. “Well, it’s more just giving in to the inevitable, I guess. I mean, really, look at me. I’ve been pinging gaydars since before I knew what being gay was. I flamed as a freaking toddler. I sashayed before I could walk. This isn’t just me putting on a show, it’s who I am. It would be ridiculous for me to even try to be anything else. It is what it is, you know? Might as well own it.”

“Well, it should be self-respect,” Mo said fiercely, giving me a shake. “You got nothing to be ashamed of. You’re amazing.”

I shrugged uncomfortably, leaning my head against hers, almost forgetting Mr. Gardner’s presence as Mo and I fell into that sort of exclusionary, near-telepathic best-friend’s communion. She knew that I would argue that I wasn’t ashamed, but that I just hadn’t quite figured out how to truly mean it when I held my head up high, because my entire life, people had been telling me to keep it down and stop being an embarrassment. I was still in that “fake it ’til you make it” stage, hoping genuine pride would come if I pretended confidence long enough. For now, I was relying on bravado and a complete lack of give-a-fuck to carry me through.

Saugatuck Summer is coming in May, 2014 from Riptide. As usual, this excerpt is not yet edited. Any mistakes are my own.

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Belated #TeaserTuesday bonus from Saugatuck Summer (#mmromance coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks)

Seeing Leta Blake’s post on her blog today, which is where she fulfilled my tagging of her in the 7/7/7 game over on Facebook, reminded me that I had made a post in response to being tagged and forgot to share it here. So consider this a bonus #TeaserTuesday post (I did post it on Tuesday, so there’s that.)

I think I will just quote the whole thing here, since I’m not sure people can see it on Facebook if they aren’t signed up for Facebook.

This snippet has not yet been edited, so any errors are my own. Saugatuck Summer is coming May 2014 from Riptide.

Okay, so I’ve been tagged by Kade Boehme for another round of 7/7/7. I have a hard time isolating 7 sentences that make sense, and I’m not sure about the 7 lines of dialogue rule (is that a new thing?) so I just decided to go with 7 paragraphs.

This is from page 170 of Saugatuck Summer, when Topher is reunited with a guy he hooked up with once before, Jace.

NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW*NSFW

It felt good, yes, but it was also incredibly intimate, covered like that, his body flush against my back. His lips moved slowly and gently over the back of my shoulders and his hands soothed up and down my arms. He began to rock into me with small rolls of his hips. Not hard, not deep, not nearly enough to drive me to the edge. Leisurely. Like he had all the time in the world to just be there, on me and in me.

I felt protected.

That thought scared me; I’m not sure why. Suddenly I was trying to buck underneath him, to lift my hips and thrust back, maybe even get to my hands and knees so he’d have to move off me.

“Shh,” he murmured. “Take it easy. We’re not in any hurry.”

“You might not be,” I choked. “Fuck me, dammit.”

“When it’s time,” he said patiently. No matter what I did, he refused to be rushed. Eventually my only choice was make him stop or go quiet beneath him and let him do it his way. Once I’d gone still, he began to pull his hips back a bit more, sliding in a little deeper and harder each time, though he kept up the undemanding pace.

“You don’t have to rush, Topher.” His voice was soft and hypnotic, barely more than a whisper, and so tender. His breath warmed the back of my neck. “Not with me. You don’t have to settle for getting off and getting gone because you think a quick, barely satisfactory fuck with someone who doesn’t give a shit is the best you’re entitled to. You’re better than that.”

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#Seven-Sentence Sunday from Saugatuck Summer coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks #mmromance

In honor of signing Saugatuck Summer with Riptide this week, I decided to share a passage from it for Seven Sentence Sunday. Only it’s more like Seven Paragraph Sunday, because Imma wordy bitch and that’s just how I roll.

Saugatuck Summer tells the story of Topher Carlisle, a 21-year-old college student who is spending the summer at a beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan with his best friend, Morgan Gardner, and her father, Brendan, while he figures out his future and copes with his past. Unfortunately for Topher, he’s developed a slightly awkward crush.

I shrugged. “Fine by me. There’s plenty of eye-candy to go around. Choose your fantasy-fodder and help yourself.”

“Ew. Can you not talk about my dad ogling people? Scarlett Johansson may be gorgeous, but still.”

“It’ll be a challenge, but I think I can refrain from licking the screen,” Brendan deadpanned, placing the wine bottle on the coffee table next to the bowl of popcorn and settling in the chair where he’d been working on his computer earlier.

EW! DAD!”

I laughed so hard I had to set my wine down before flopping onto the sofa, rolling and giggling. When I caught my breath, Brendan grinned at me and dropped a conspiratorial wink.

Oh, Lord have mercy.

That was it, I decided as Mo pressed play. My new mission in life would be to find as many excuses as possible to stay away from the house all summer, before I embarrassed myself by giving away my cute little crush on my BFF’s dad.

Saugatuck Summer is coming May, 2014, from Riptide.

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Saugatuck Summer is officially contracted with @RiptideBooks

As of this morning, I signed the contract to publish Saugatuck Summer with Riptide.

Some of you may recall back in late January/early February, I had a project which at my brain for two weeks. That project was Saugatuck Summer. I wrote 93,000 words in 15 days, all the while feeling something I’ve never felt about a book before and I’m not certain I will ever feel again.

I felt like I was making something truly amazing.

I know that sounds horribly egotistical, but that’s really how it felt, and I have a loud and brutal enough internal critic that I can be fairly confident it’s not ego, because I certainly don’t delude myself that everything I write is brilliant. But my internal critic was quiet on this one, like it, too, was standing back watching the process thinking, “Yep, this time you’ve got it right.”

Judging by the responses from my beta reader and Sarah Frantz, my editor at Riptide, I think I might not have been entirely wrong in that assessment, either.

So I wrote Saugatuck Summer like it was a fire consuming my soul and I’ve spent pretty much every day since I submitted it anxious for the day I could share it with the world. That day will now be in May 2014. Which is way too long for the impatience I feel, but that’s the way it works.

Saugatuck Summer tells the story of Topher Carlisle, a somewhat genderfluid 21-year-old trying to work his shit out, as 21-year-olds often must do. I’d call it 60% romance/40% coming-of-age. Maybe even 55/45. It was my first attempt in a very long time trying to write in first person POV, because Topher’s voice was so very loud and clear in my head he refused to let a third-person narrator speak for him. Over the course of a life-changing summer in the gay resort town of Saugatuck on the shore of Lake Michigan, Topher copes with resolving a lot of baggage from a very difficult upbringing and his own questionable choices.

Topher is very biographical of someone I know. In fact, pretty much everything except the “present day” action in the story actually happened to the person I modeled Topher’s past after. When Topher relates details about his past, it’s a completely true story. It’s very real, and I think the emotional intensity I experienced writing it came from realizing that yes, these things actually happened to a real person. It made me cry…God, I don’t even know how many times.

I could blather about it forever, but for now, suffice to say that I’m thrilled beyond imagining to know how and when this book is finally going to happen, and I’ll be counting down the months until I can share it with you all.

If you want a taste of the Saugatuck Summer universe, check out my free Love Has No Boundaries novelette, The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams. It briefly mentions Topher and gives some insight into the community where he grew up, being the story of a classmate of his from high school.

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#TeaserTuesday from Saugatuck Summer

I don’t have a release date yet on Saugatuck Summer, but I’m anticipating it will be spring or summer, 2014. Saugatuck Summer is part new adult/coming of age and part romance. My protagonist, Topher Carlisle, is a 21-year-old college student at a critical time in his life, trying to work out his troubled relationships in his family, reconcile his history of abuse, and figure out where he’s going personally, academically, and financially.

In this segment, he meets his best friend’s father for the first time.

I turned back to trudge up the beach toward the house.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs climbing the dune, a man was coming down. He was dressed preppy-sharp: stonewashed blue Oxford shirt, well-fitted tan slacks. He appeared to be out for a stroll, not coming down to lay around the beach.

He looked like Robert Redford in his prime. Only not quite. The bone structure had that same sort of chiseled definition, but the eyes — which I could see only by virtue of the fact that his sunglasses were that weird sort where the lenses were tinted at the top but not actually dark — were long-lashed and feminine, more like Tom Hiddleston. And the mouth was softer and fuller, like David Wenham.

So, okay. He was basically an amalgamation of every redheaded man to ever turn my crank (and how!) And he lived in a popular gay resort town, which meant the chances were above average that he might actually be interested. Watching him trot lightly down those stairs to the beach, I realized what my objective this summer would be.

Agent Carlisle, your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to find out which of these residences belongs to Mr. Strawberry-Blond Hunka Burnin’ Love and convince him to have sex with you on every horizontal surface — and against a few of the vertical ones.

I was so up for that gig.

He flashed a smile at me as he reached the bottom of the stairs and slid his sunglasses down his nose, revealing eyes so dark and sparkling a blue they made sapphires turn green with envy. And he had deep smile-creases in his cheeks, too long to be called dimples. Suddenly I wondered if my loose shorts were loose enough.

And he was smiling like he knew me. What—?

His hand darted out to shake mine. “Hi, you must be Topher. I’m Morgan’s dad, Brendan Gardner.”

Abort mission! Abort! Abort! Abort!

Seriously? Fuck my life.

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NEW RELEASE: “The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams” and new series announcement

This year I participated in GoodReads M/M Romance Group’s Love Has No Boundaries event, which means you get a free story! It’s titled The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams and it’s sort of a lead-in to my Seasons in Saugatuck series, which should debut next year.

I already have two Saugatuck novels written. One, titled Saugatuck Summer, features Topher Carlisle, whom you’ll find mentioned in The Field of Someone Else’s Dreamsand the other, titled Risk Aware, is the back-story of a pair of characters you meet in Saugatuck Summer. They’re stand-alone novels, which means you can read them in any order. So, for instance, even though you meet Robin and Geoff in Saugatuck Summer, several years after their story in Risk Aware takes place, you don’t really need to have read Risk Aware for Saugatuck Summer to make sense.

What is the Saugatuck series? Glad you asked! For those of you unfamiliar with west Michigan, Saugatuck and Douglas are neighboring towns on the shores of Lake Michigan, not far from Holland, Michigan. Even though this region of Michigan is very conservative, Saugatuck/Douglas started out as an art colony and eventually became a very popular gay and lesbian vacation destination. Douglas features a gay resort called The Dunes, and the area is sometimes preferred to as the Provincetown (or Fire Island) of the Midwest.

So, what better setting for a series of m/m romances? As the Saugatuck series develops, I hope to bring in other authors to participate and make it more of a collaborative endeavor.

I can’t make any official announcements just yet regarding the publication dates for Saugatuck Summer and Risk Aware, but enjoy the freebie for now and if your curiosity is piqued, stay tuned for more coming next year!

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