I know it sounds like a broken record when I keep talking about the same things. I don't mean to, but it is what it is and this is where my life and choices have led me. When I started writing in 2006 I had no idea where my writing would lead. I sat down and wrote, and for the first time I had a complete story. (a sci-fi trilogy) That changed over time after joining Authonomy in 2008. In 2009 I wrote a paranormal, gay, romance and it was PUBLISHED in 2010. And then things happened in 2010…. I see it as a good thing now. I do. It was NOT fun to go through, but had I not experienced what I did, then When Love Is Not Enough would not have been written. That story, one which includes suicide within the story of a gay romance, has touched so many people. Probably not hundreds, definitely not thousands, but some. I think those people are worth the pain I went through. Books MEAN SOMETHING to readers when the readers connect on a deep level and relate to the characters. If I helped someone work through personal pain because they could see themselves AS my character (which happened because many people have said that and continue to), then I think my book is successful. I will not get rich in a monetary means writing about suicide. I WILL NOT. But I succeeded in string the emotions of many people and caused them to think. That is one of my goals as a writer: I WANT TO MAKE PEOPLE THINK!
And then I moved on… I wrote about church persecution in The Cost of Loving, hate crimes in My Roommate's A Jock? Well, Crap!, and labeling, bullying and name-calling in Names Can Never Hurt Me. And in Misplaced Affection I talk about child abuse and grief. I want to STIR the reader's thoughts to consider the way we live and the things we say and do. I cannot change people, just as no one can CHANGE me. But if I present material that makes a person pause and consider their actions, or the actions of others thrust upon them, or their choices, or how they feel about circumstances out of their control etc., then I think that is a WIN for me. I want my words to matter.
So my thoughts for those who disagree with my content is to PRAY FOR MY WORDS. I have always asked that. By demanding I CHANGE, you do get any anywhere. You are a sounding gong. Get to know me. See my heart. Become involved with WHY I write what I do. If you continue to disagree then we can discuss it. Sex in literature is currently on the table by MANY groups, including romance groups. IS IT NECESSARY OR NOT? Romance novels drive the industry. Without ROMANCE NOVELS, books sales would die. I forget the statistic I learned in a seminar, like 60% or something crazy! WHY? Because the audience or "target group" of middle-aged women in general is the largest group of people who suck in books and drive the market. (don't quote me, but I think I'm close to what the guy from Smashwords said.) Most romance novels contain sexual content. Some more than others. In publishing, you have to have a "target" audience in mind. For YEARS that is why a genre-crossing novel could not be published. Until maybe 5 years ago, I think, to query agents with a novel that CROSSED genres was basically futile. Traditional publishers don't like CROSSING genres because they don't know how to market it. If you can't market something, you can't sell it. NOW, there are indie publishers that snatch them up. Horror-Romance? Sci-fi/mystery, GAY/romance, paranormal romance, etc… mix them up. Readers are finding what they like because the choices are broader.
I wrote gay, paranormal romance in 2009 because I had a specific audience (person) in mind. He knows who he is. I didn't really plan it ahead, it fell together and BAM! was good enough to get published! Publishing is NOT an easy thing for those who don't know.
So, I'm published and then all hell breaks loose in 2010 and I get depressed etc… I turn to WHY and what this was all over. I wrote GAY characters. How dare I? Um, because I had a gay friend. I wrote something HE could relate to. I was writing for the specific audience. That is what an author does. But after all the hoopla over it being because I wrote a GAY character, and after EVERYONE I knew stopped talking to me, I thought about it. I thought about how harsh people are with homosexuals to the point of some thinking "God hates Gays!" (the Westboro Baptist mantra) Why wouldn't they? (I thought) I wasn't even gay and people LEFT a restaurant after I walked in. People stopped talking to me, and they shook their heads in pity, over what? A book? I am not even gay and this is how I was treated. So I wrote about suicide. Not because I felt suicidal, but because the story God gave me (yes, I believe my stories come from God) was one of pain and condemnation over sexuality to the point of the character taking his own life. He realized his mother would NEVER love him for who he was and ended it. Ironically, in 2010 after this book was basically complete and submitted, 7 people killed themselves around the country over being bullied for sexuality in school. YOUNG PEOPLE! I saw this as a sign. I do. I still do. Every time I question whether or not I should continue writing gay romance stories, something else tragic hits the news.
My target audience is made up partially by gay men. Gay young men. Teens and younger 20 somethings suck up books just as much as middle aged women. Now that there are GAY romances out there, this younger generation is finding characters they can relate to. Some stories provide hope that life can be better than being confined to a basement because your parents see you as an embarrassment. Life can get better than your parents throwing you out at the age of 15 because you came out as LGBT. These are basically "throw away kids" because many are "religious" families who can't bear having a gay member so it is easier to throw them out. What teen is capable of living on the street, I ask you? NONE!
Like it or not, they also end up having sex or selling themselves in to prostitution because they have nothing else. Writing SAFE SEX could help someone pause and think about their actions. Maybe. Writing a character that is raped after a random internet hook-up MAY make someone think, oh, I never thought about that before. Maybe I shouldn't go. Heck, even women I know where warned about dating a boy they'd just met because they could rape them. Kids don't' think about that! Writing real life situations makes readers aware!
Will I always write sex? Probably not. Will I always write gay romance? probably not. Why do I say that? Because my mind and creativity is driven by my characters. I can not believe that I am so limited as to never write anything else. I have a VAST imagination. In time, I can see all kinds of characters and worlds coming out! I have HUGE dreams and MANY ideas of what I can write. One story at a time. One theme at a time!
I believe that God is sovereign over everything. I believe I have something to say that is important to the people who read my stories and that is why God has allowed me the privilege of writing and publishing them. When God's direction changes, my stories will change. Until then, I will write what I think is meaningful to the world I live in NOW.
My stories reflect the world as I see it, and as I live it. These are MY thoughts and my experiences. I do not hear someone else's story and write it. That is their story to tell. I tell my own.
That said….. Some know, some don't…. I was asked to stop teaching youth because of the content of my stories. What I see as literary device is not seen the same by the leadership of the church. Not teaching youth is very sad. But, I am at peace with it. I see it as a business decision. Any church would probably have to "cover their butt" in case someone found out I wrote gay romance novels and then blamed me for why their son was gay. (Because I MAKE people gay. -That's a joke.) These kids will be fine. They have other's to teach them. I am still friends with them and it is not like I have disappeared off the face of the Earth. I am still there for them. But I am also there for people like Sam, who didn't have a Christmas tree until he was 19 yrs old. Or had his first Thanksgiving Dinner with a loving group of friends at 18, because his family was not so nice. My heart goes out to people like that. The kids I know have wonderful families. The kids that are out there, in the world around me, have not so nice experiences. I want to write for and encourage THEM! These "throw away kids" are the ones who need to see there is HOPE in the world when all they experience might tell them the opposite.
And to the others in my "target audience", they also need to think sometimes too. Older men and women shape the lives of these younger folks. Help them! Encourage them! Guide them! Don't throw them out because you can't "deal with a gay member of the family"! These are people! People need love and there is a short supply out there sometimes.
So yeah, pray for my words, because I want to change the world!