state of the Hall – march edition

So, taking a brief break from blogging about games in various media to deploy some updates.

I guess the major piece of news is that Pansies has been nominated for a RITA this year in the contemporary romance (long) category. Obviously I’m super honoured and overjoyed about this, and I’m extending my congratulations to everybody else who has been nominated.  I’m also really delighted that Lorelie Brown’s Far From Home has been nominated in contemporary romance (short). Last time I kinda fucked this up but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time an f/f book has made the short list. I feel this is a really big deal because it challenges the conventional wisdom that romance readers aren’t interested in f/f and suggests that the broad spectrum LGBTQ+ stories are being taken more seriously. So yay!

While I’m very pleased about the increase in LGBTQ+ representation, it would be remiss of me to ignore the fact that other marginalised groups are doing less well. This really isn’t something it’s my place to talk about for a million and five reasons but this post on Romance Novels for Feminists has a good summary of the situation. I do believe that the RWA has made a sincere commitment to address diversity issues but change takes time and it only happens at all if people keeping pushing for it.

As always, it’s genuinely not clear how best to address this kind of thing, especially since I suspect (and I’m working on the basis on no real evidence here) that the poor representation of POC characters and authors is more likely to be a consequence of unconscious bias, rather than overt racism. A predominantly white community of judges are less likely to identify with and therefore respond positively to stories that aren’t about white people, but wouldn’t think of themselves as “marking down” books with POC protagonists.  And that’s a borderline insoluble problem because it involves getting a large number of essentially anonymous people to admit the existence of a problem that many of them will be unable to see and then to do something about it in a way that quite a lot of those people will instinctively feel constitutes “special treatment”.

And I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about this and I’ve now talked about this for a couple paragraphs but I think it’s important to ask the question: what can I, as an individual, do? And, obviously, this will be very different depending on who you are but I think basically what you can do is this:

  • Recognise that no matter who you are, you have unconscious biases. This doesn’t make you a bad person, but it can affect your behaviour if you’re not aware of it.
  • If you happen to be a RITA judge, be aware that these biases might be affecting your scores and seriously consider whether you should be giving higher marks to books that you may have responded less strongly to simply because they happen not to be about a person in whom you recognise yourself.

In other news, the first book in my new bildom trilogy, How To Bang A Billionaire will be out in April. Like most of my things, it’s quite different from most of the rest of my things. It was basically my attempt to do the kinky billionaire thing. I had a lot of fun with it and I hope you do too.

Finally, an update on Spires. People have been asking me what’s coming next for the series for a while now, especially since the RITA nomination. After some careful consideration and a long discussion with my fabulous agent, I’ve decided to go down the self-publication route for Spires (and probably, also, for Kate Kane when the rights revert to me). I’ll be continuing to publish by more conventional means as well, but this seems like the best way forward for Spires specifically.

Sarah Lyons has agreed to stay on as editor so from a reader’s perspective there should be literally no change. From my perspective, it’s about having slightly more control over the project and slightly more freedom to write across a diverse spectrum. I have a number of other publishing deadlines coming up so I’m looking at timescale in the region of sometime 2018 (maybe late 2017 if I really get my act together) for this. My apologies to people who are keenly awaiting the next book, but I’m intending to produce Spires books more consistently from then on. The book I’m writing currently is the story of Dom the Dom (from For Real) – provisionally titled Rough Ride. After that I’ve got plans for some, all, or in the event of extremely unexpected circumstances none of the following:

  • Angel’s book – provisionally titled The Shenanigans Project
  • Niall’s book – provisionally  titled Fool’s Gold (ahh, d’you see)
  • A book about a character you haven’t met yet – provisionally titled As Yet Untitled(ahhh, d’you see again)

I also have outlines for books about Jasper, Marius, Grace and at least two other characters not yet introduced. So Spires should be going strong for a good while yet, as will many, many other projects, including the next two bildom books, and my Regency trilogy.

If you would like a sneak peak at some of an early draft of Rough Ride do sign up for my newsletter. Which is a thing I have. That you might not know about. Because I never talk about it.

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