After a brief but passionate affair with my beloved Princes, I cracked down last weekend and made myself finish a book I started over a month ago.
Back in June, when I got serious about my book, I joined a couple of groups on Facebook for m/m readers and writers. In one of them, I posted this:
So, I’m currently in the rough-rough draft stage of writing an m/m romance, but this is my first attempt at the genre. I’ve been reading other m/m romance novels feverishly to get a better sense of how manlove differs from your typical f/m romance.
My question: Do you all recommend any books in particular I should pick up and read for this purpose? Are there any you consider absolutely essential to the genre?
Yep, I used the term manlove. What of it?
And to my delight, I got many awesome recommendations from other members of the group (I particularly enjoyed We Found Love by Kade Boehme and Allison Cassatta).
But probably the most helpful recommendation I received was for the book Man, Oh Man: Writing Quality M/M Fiction by Josh Lanyon. Basically, it’s a how-to guide for producing m/m romance written by someone who actually does it for a living, covering both the writing aspects and the what-to-do-once-you’ve-completed-the-writing aspects.
I took copious notes as I read this book and found it very informative and frankly, refreshing. She covers everything from the actual writing (coming up with ideas, the writing process, outlining, etc.), the technicalities of writing a good story (including characterization, setting, pacing, etc.), as well as good submitting/publishing/self-publishing practices.
Now, I didn’t just read this book and take it at its word. I know how dangerous it can be to take the word of anyone one person – even someone who’s already been successful at what I want to do. She referenced many books about writing in general, writing specifically romantic/erotic fiction, as well as – and I thought this was particularly helpful – books about men and masculinity. I’ve already rented the books that I can from the library, adding the ones that I can’t to my Amazon wish-list.
But some of the best advice she gave – compounded by everything I’d already read about becoming an author – is the need to create your author persona (branding and marketing), as well as the value of networking, not only with other authors, but with your readers/potential readers. One of the biggest reasons I started this blog was to begin building a foundation for my future as an author. Thankfully, I am fairly tech-savvy and I
am obsessed with love social media. One thing she emphasized is how imperative it is to interact with readers/potential readers and build relationships with them, something I find both daunting and intriguing. Daunting, because I’m not a naturally social person. Intriguing, because…well, I’d like to find a community that not only can I ‘sell my wares’ to, but also one in which I can enjoy a sense of belonging. Reading and writing are by far my favorite hobbies, but they can be incredibly lonely ones. And 90% of the time, I’m fine with that…but then there’s the 10% of me that wishes like hell I would’ve had more people to talk to when I finished Captive Prince. Or that could give me more in-line book suggestions based on what I truthfully enjoy reading, without the side-eyed judgement. This idea almost goes hand in hand with the ever-relevant Toni Morrison quote that I wrote on the inside of my first ‘writing ideas’ notebook back in high school:
If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
It’s almost a cliche now, but that quote changed my life the first time I read it. And I’d like to take it a step further. I’d like to engage in a community of writers and readers that, at least for me, hasn’t existed for very long…and maybe build my own little corner there were I can happily ‘earn my keep’.
All that said, I’d like to start an open dialogue. If any of you have any book recommendations, ideas, thoughts, concerns, questions, anything you’d ever like to share with me or engage with me about with respect to this project, please please please do not hesitate to reach out. All of my social media links are in the right hand column (or at the bottom of this page, depending on the device you’re using). Or if you know me in person, feel free to talk to me, ask questions, call me out if you see/read me doing something that doesn’t seem right. I can’t promise I’ll answer everything (no spoilers, I’m not ready to share my title, character names, etc. just yet), but I can promise that I appreciate any/all interest and support as I work towards my goal.