Friday Links: Whither f/f, the BDB, Sensitive Porno Guy, Author Advice to reviewers

1. Over at All About Romance, Sandy is bored bored bored:

I just can’t get excited about yet another Regency featuring yet another Miss and yet another wallpaper duke.

Ditto paranormal  and those fated mates.

And spare me from all those small towns are the bestest places in the whole wide world brand of contemporaries.

And, for anyone who might suggest that category romances might fit the bill, as someone posted on an AAR message board a few months ago, when did millionaires get replaced by billionaires?  Greek (b)millionaires, Spanish and Italian aristos, it’s all just the same old.

I have to admit, I need a good long break from Regency London.

2. Another day, another set of Tips on Writing Reviews … from an author:

A friend of mine recently finished reading the advanced copy of Nickels.  She wanted to write a review for it on Amazon, but wasn’t really sure where to begin or what to include.

Just as I felt a few weeks ago that it was unlikely that a reader would read an author’s blog, yet not know how to write an Amazon review, I find the scenario that a reader savvy enough to get ARCs doesn’t. There’s nothing objectionable in the advice given here, but I really have to wonder, when as consumers we are inundated with requests to rate and review everything we purchase, why authors think readers need special help. Posting a review for a book on Amazon is really not different for most people than posting a review of a waffle iron, something obvious to anyone who has clicked a book reviewer’s name only to see all the nonbook items they review.

3. Porn That Women Like: Why Does It Make Men So Uncomfortable? from Slate (via @JessicaScott). This essay on “sensitive” porn star James Deen is so full of fail, I don’t know where to begin, but I did want to point out the Jewish stereotyping: the figure of the sensitive Jewish lover sounds nice, but it’s a bit too close a cousin to the stereotype of Jewish men as unmanly for my comfort. Anyway, it turns out Deen stars in porn films featuring rape scenarios and really rough play. check out the comment thread for arguments for and against the idea that this kind of porn is “porn women like”.

4. LEGO, once the last bastion of gender neutral toys, has come out with a gender coded pink set for the girl this holiday season. check out this post for an analysis of how far Lego has fallen, and tell me that comparing the old Lego ad from the 1970s to today’s doesn’t break your heart a little. Oh, and for everyone who says LEGO is a “boy toy”… I have two boys and a basement full of LEGOs that they never so much as sniffed at (via @vassilikiveros).

5. The Fancy Reader has some excellent suggestions for what would make good steampunk romance, for example:

different perspective of social construction, e.g. race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Remember: if you can change the history of a country, then you can change its laws and attitudes. Surprisingly, a very high percentage of authors failed to take advantage of this very best thing about steampunk. Most seem to show that the best they could do is associate women with traditionally male-dominant professions (professor, pilot, engineer, scientist, pirate, etc.) while keeping all major characters white and straight. If you set a story in Britain, consider the possibility of taking advantage of Britain’s neglected/ignored history: black, Indian and East Asians Britons; many were certainly born and raised in Britain before 1880s.

6. If you aren’t yet tired of feminist rants against the portrayal of women in J. R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, here’s one from Fangs For the Fantasy.

7. Here’s a post from a blog intriguingly titled Requires Only That You Hate on lesbians, where are the lesbians.

Lesbian visibility is pretty bloody terrible in the fiction I enjoy, or even fiction I don’t. So the schtick of those graduated-from-HP-fanfic YA writers, who are ever so lauded for their beautiful wonderful inclusivity? It’s nine times out of ten about hot, hot gay boys. Hot, hot gay boy angst. You’d be lucky if one of the girls in the background… somewhere… likes other girls… somewhere… honest.

We still really don’t see much f/f written, reviewed or talked about in the romance world. And, I hasten to add, I don’t read it and have no interest in it, despite that fact that I do occasionally read m/m. Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital first imprint, is publishing some m/m but not, as far as I know, f/f. Does it not sell? Or is this one of those self-fulfilling prophesies (“if you don’t publish it, they won’t come.”)

8. I’ve been reading a lot of m/m this week as I do annually for Ham/mukah, and I got so sick of first person point of view, I actually sought out third person, and had a hard time finding it. On Twitter, someone said first person is easier than third because of the “pronoun problem” in m/m, and I can see that, but I suspect there is something else going on, although I have not read enough m/m to say what exactly. I will say that anecdotal evidence suggests that the first person narrator is usually the thinner, smaller, and more introspective of the couple. I’ll stop there before I get into trouble.

9. Last day of grading today, I hope.

10. This blog — the first real hobby I have ever had  —  hit half a million page views this morning. Thanks so much for reading.

 

43 responses

  1. Have you read Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels? Third person m/m and absolutely outstanding book. Highly recommended.

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  2. There was a post on James Deen not long ago on Jezebel. He apparently has quite a devoted following. The post links to a longer, much different interview with him and why he’s so popular among women who watch porn (which isn’t me, since I’d rather read about it, so I’ve no idea how accurate it is ). Again the comments are one of the most interesting parts.

    http://jezebel.com/5859818/why-wont-the-porn-industry-give-ladies-the-man-they-want

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  3. Thanks again for writing the blog, the most consistenly thoughtful and insightful one that I read. I don’t often comment, but you do provoke a lot of thought :-)

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  4. You be nice to James Deen. He’s made me pay cash money for porn in the past. He has a gift for doing rough sex without disrespecting the female performer.

    Also, he amuses me on Twitter,

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  5. Carina Press published Rulebreaker by Cathy Pegau recently, which I believe was their first F/F.

    I follow on F/F urban fantasy series, but otherwise, it doesn’t appeal to me. And recently I’ve had a guest reviewer post F/F reviews -maybe once a month, and they rarely, rarely get comments. I just don’t think there is interest – at least from the audience that read my blog or those who I tweet with etc. Why is that? I don’t know. I’m all about equality, but I want to read m/m, not f/f.

    I agree with Chris – give Ava March a try. Also KA Mitchell.

    My favorite m/m series at the moment is the Cut & Run Series by Roux and Urban. So so good :)

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  6. m/m romance is like f/f porn. It’s not about equality, it’s about fetishization. Hetero women are turned on by m/f and m/m couplings and hetero men are turned on by m/f and f/f pairings.

    f/f romance doesn’t sell because bisexual and lesbian readers are a minority of the romance reading community.

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  7. I have heard, many times, “conventional wisdom” that f/f “doesn’t sell.” I think what they mean is that it doesn’t sell except to lesbians and a few others.

    Maybe it would sell if it was written for the Male Gaze. *ahem*

    I’ve never understood why (for the most part) straight women say they don’t like f/f, when I feel like it’s a perfect tool to fight patriarchy. Straight women don’t like seeing two women have sex, but will read m/m? Gay women also read m/m – not sure how many also read f/f, that could be interesting data. If we say we want strong women characters, what’s wrong with having them fall in love with each other now and again?

    When straight women say they don’t like f/f, does that mean they don’t like seeing beings with bodies/social positions like themselves in the story? Or do they feel like they’re brought down because they’re not the object of a man’s gaze? Or is that no one wants to be the oppressed minority (women), even in her fantasies? Or is it fear? (Fear of what, you ask? Well, that could be a whole blog post.)

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  8. On Legos — I’ve never thought of them as a “boy toy”. My daughter, who’s 3, has tons of them that she plays with all the time. One of the things I appreciate about them is that they usually aren’t gender coded like so many other toys. Of course she has pink things, it’s impossible to avoid these days with toys, especially when other people buy them. But I’ve tried to avoid the all-pink, too girly problem. It’s sad that Lego is caving. I loved the Twitter quote at the end of that article, from Michael Smith: “Radio just said LEGO is a boy toy & it’s hard to get girls into LEGO. I found it easy: 1. Buy Lego for your daughter. 2. Play Lego w/ her.”

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  9. When straight women say they don’t like f/f, does that mean they don’t like seeing beings with bodies/social positions like themselves in the story?

    I’ve not read much f/f or m/m because I don’t have an ebook reader (I have a limited book-buying budget and get most of my books second-hand or from the library) but I’ve enjoyed the f/f novels I’ve read. When I came across a whole archive of one author of m/m’s free short stories, I also enjoyed them as individual stories, but after reading so many in quick succession I ended up feeling as though there was something wrong/lesser about having a female body. It was a very odd sensation – as though women and women’s bodies had been completely written out of existence. So, given the choice, I think I’d rather read f/f.

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  10. I’ve never understood why (for the most part) straight women say they don’t like f/f, when I feel like it’s a perfect tool to fight patriarchy.

    Why can’t we just plop down on the couch and read what we enjoy? What makes us smile and fret and get involved in the story. It doesn’t have to be anything bigger than just reading a book for enjoyment.

    When straight women say they don’t like f/f, does that mean they don’t like seeing beings with bodies/social positions like themselves in the story? Or do they feel like they’re brought down because they’re not the object of a man’s gaze? Or is that no one wants to be the oppressed minority (women), even in her fantasies? Or is it fear?

    No. NONE of that. It’s that f/f doesn’t do it for me. I’m not turned on. I have no desire to see a f/f relationship grow and unfold. Nothing to do with oppression or fear – nothing to analyze. I just like penis in my romance ;) And I am not going to spend money on something I don’t enjoy.

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  11. Growing up, LEGO was the perfect toy for my mother to buy–all three boys and two girls played with the sets, constantly (as in, at least a couple of full-fledged LEGO mania days a month) for close to a decade. My son? Got over the sets before first grade–and my daughter quite simply didn’t touch them.

    That said, I see how both the marketing and the actual product have…well, degenerated is the word that comes to mind, into some more same-same useless clutter. As the article says, build a set once and you are done. Very little, if any, room for creativity or innovation left.

    And once again, thank you for writing your blog–aren’t we glad you decided to allow yourself this hobby! *confetti* Congrats on the milestone!

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  12. Mandi pretty much says how I feel about it. I’m ALL for f/f being written and sold and loved by many. I just do not get the same, dare I say pleasure, from reading it as I do het couples. Of course, I haven’t read many f/f books at all, but the general idea just doesn’t interest me.

    NOW…publishers, it would still be nice if you would provide it, there are people who want to read it, after all. I know, I’ve spoken with some.

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  13. I can assure you lesbian romance sell very well, at least for me. I made the most money this year because of my Lesbian titles. My one book, The Princess’s Bride in 9 months (I don’t know my 4th quarter earnings yet for this year) sold 2,000 copies. Because of this I plan on writing and publishing more lesbian romance next year than straight and MM romance.

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  14. One of my top selling titles this year is my anthology of F/F erotic fiction. This surprised me, because typically the M/M stories I write sell best among my work. I imagine with eReaders becoming mainstream the audience for lesbian romance is actively seeking the work.

    I definitely plan to write more lesbian romance.

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  15. I wonder if f/f is selling so well for KB and Leigh because there is demand and relatively few authors writing at the moment? A few years ago, m/m was probably in the same situation, but now there are many more authors writing m/m, so individual writers may not be selling as well?

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  16. Chris: It may as well be. I only know a handful of authors writing lesbian romance such as Leigh, Kelly Yeakle, a new author who is writing lesbian for Evernight. Ravenous Romance wants more lesbian and I plan on writing more with them. RR has a nice amount of authors writing lesbian, including Louisa Bacio. Kate Richards writes lesbian romance for Decadent Publishing and is selling well there.

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  17. Personally I don’t find f/f appealing, but I don’t think it has anything to do with deeper psychological reasons besides the fact that I just don’t like it, plain and simple. I like men and I like to read romances with men in them, I can do without the women but not without the men. I read a lot of m/f romances so it’s not a matter of me not wanting to see “beings with bodies/social positions like myself in the story” because otherwise I would only read m/m. And it’s not because I’m afraid of what I might find about myself because I went to an all-girls catholic school and believe me, when you spend so many years surrounded by women and nuns it doesn’t take long for you to figure out how you feel about girls and God (maybe I do have a deeper psychological reason for not liking f/f after all). Anyway, just like Mandi and Kendra I think it’s all about what does it for you.

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  18. I had a very long, very thoughtful answer to Laura Vivanco’s question about why I don’t like f/f romances all worked out in my head and in the end I will just go with – Yeah, what Brie said (except my Catholic school was co-ed).

    I have three boys and a girl – they all played with LEGO’s but then again, they all played with Barbie’s and with trucks and jumped rope and had dolls. If you as a parent don’t make the toys about gender, then the children won’t make them about gender. They just play with what they find appealing on a day to day basis. Toys are just toys; children rarely award them any level of attention beyond what they find amusing. People need to lighten up and just let the kids play.

    Actually the two topics can be summed up in pretty much the same manner – I read what I enjoy, I play with what I enjoy. If I don’t find pleasure in it or reward in my leisure activities, I move on and find something more appealing. There doesn’t always have to be some deeper meaning or social significance to it – sometimes what you see on the surface is really all there is.

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  19. I had a very long, very thoughtful answer to Laura Vivanco’s question

    It was Victoria Janssen’s question. I quoted her by putting her question into italics. Obviously I should have used the blockquote function, but I’ve got so used to Blogger not having one that I forgot.

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  20. I’m a straight dude and I’m interested in f/f and m/m after reading the post on Requires Only That You Hate and this one.

    Personally I think the question of interest should not end at whether something turns a person on. Why not explore the unlived life? For me my first encounters with the idea of homosexuality were based on grade school jokes, thinking that gay people were fictionalized, have a gay roommate but thinking gay male sex was gross, to finally getting that my disgust about gay sex was based on homophobic conditioning prevalent in society.

    Now, gay sex is largely just a different kind of sex to me. And since I don’t see myself turning gay or bi, the only place for me to experience it is via narrative.

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  21. Ah Legos — I have a house full of Legos and my two boys would kill me if I got rid of it. Please, someone, bring on the grandbabies. But marketing pink to young ladies isn’t going to work. How about a Hermione Granger set?

    I just finished a f/f short story that was terrific — realistic and thank goodness, took place over time (I’m so tired of stories with no front story, no back story and not much inbetween story). It’s from the Agony/Ecstasy antho: “Stitch and Bitch” by A.L. Simonds. It probably didn’t hurt that one of the characters got on a subway. Never enough books set in Canada imo.

    You are my go-to/share-out/always read blog and your success is well-deserved!

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  22. I write f/f and what interests me is that many sexuality surveys from Kinsey to Hite state that it’s common for straight women to have lesbian fantasies. Never understood why this hasn’t been reflected in erotic romance. It is in erotica. Women read lesbian erotica but not erotic romance. It would make a great research project.

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  23. I understand that the Carina title Last Car to Annwn Station is f/f. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but it’s been on my list for a while.

    I read a f/f romance last week. It was well written, good storyline. It just didn’t have any… zip for me. I plan to read a few more, in case it was just this one book that didn’t do it for me. But I suspect it’s just that women don’t do it for me. (I read a short erotic f/f a few months ago, but it was so dreadful that it’s really not fair to consider that one in my personal survey.)

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  24. I experienced a similar first-person narrator overload while doing a YA challenge. Could there be any analogies to be drawn?

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  25. I love this blog and am grateful for the work you put into your hobby, Jessica. Congratulations on reaching the half-million views.

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  26. I read that link when it came out, and I’m not going to defend it, since it seems full of random assumptions. But I do think that your statement “Anyway, it turns out Deen stars in porn films featuring rape scenarios and really rough play” as a counter-argument to the fact that women like it is just as bad. Plenty of women claim to entertain rape-play or rough-play fantasies. Yes, including me. The implication that women don’t like it, or shouldn’t like it, is part of a shaming, sex-negative mindset.

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  27. @Amber:

    But I do think that your statement “Anyway, it turns out Deen stars in porn films featuring rape scenarios and really rough play” as a counter-argument to the fact that women like it is just as bad.

    That’s not how I meant it. I think the comments to the post do a good job showing that different kinds of women like different kinds of things.

    @Merrian: Thanks Merrian!

    @willaful: That;s an interesting question, although I don’t have any theories as to why YA would fit with first person POV. Do you?

    @Becky:

    I understand that the Carina title Last Car to Annwn Station is f/f. I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but it’s been on my list for a while.

    thanks for this title. I will check it out.

    @Keziah Hill:

    what interests me is that many sexuality surveys from Kinsey to Hite state that it’s common for straight women to have lesbian fantasies. Never understood why this hasn’t been reflected in erotic romance. It is in erotica. Women read lesbian erotica but not erotic romance. It would make a great research project.

    I completely agree. That is really fascinating. I’d like to read some f/f now.

    @Janet W:

    “Stitch and Bitch” by A.L. Simonds.

    Another rec. Thanks! I really don’t enjoy anthos, though.

    @Saajan Patel:

    Personally I think the question of interest should not end at whether something turns a person on.

    I agree with this. There is a lot more to a romance, even an erotic romance, than being turned on. they are fictional narratives, after all. So there is really no excuse for me not to try f/f.

    @Pam Regis: Thanks Pam. Slightly terrifying prospect, but I’ll continue to do it a day at a time!

    @Daisy: I read what I enjoy, I play with what I enjoy. If I don’t find pleasure in it or reward in my leisure activities, I move on and find something more appealing.

    I can see that point of view. I think it is easy to get very burned out if we’re always reflectively trying, in everything, to be alert to every possible manifestation of prejudice in our hearts and root it out.

    @Brie: LOL. I know something about Catholic education myself.

    @LeighEllwood: @KB/KT Grant: Thanks to both of you for sharing that f/f DOES sell. Yippee!

    @KMont: I’m with you on that one, although I do plan to read at least one f/f in 2012.

    @azteclady: Thanks, and thank you for not letting me be the one parent in the universe whose kids did not love Legos.

    @Mandi:

    Nothing to do with oppression or fear – nothing to analyze. I just like penis in my romance ;) And I am not going to spend money on something I don’t enjoy.

    I guess, at a deeper level, we can ask why we don;t find it enjoyable or enticing. But, yeah, we can’t be doing that all the time about everything all the time.

    @Laura Vivanco:

    I ended up feeling as though there was something wrong/lesser about having a female body. It was a very odd sensation – as though women and women’s bodies had been completely written out of existence. So, given the choice, I think I’d rather read f/f.

    Thanks for this Laura. I do wonder sometimes, even in het romances, the more we have male POV in romances, the more they are about the men, can we still say this is a narrative about a woman’s journey? It gets even harder to say when we look at m/m.

    @Beverly: I loved that comment too.

    @Victoria Janssen:

    If we say we want strong women characters, what’s wrong with having them fall in love with each other now and again?

    right. This was what I was thinking about when thinking about whether we can call any m/m a feminist novel.

    @Ridley:

    m/m romance is like f/f porn. It’s not about equality, it’s about fetishization.

    I’m very attracted to this view myself, but I think it is more complicated than that. How exactly? I ain’t sure yet.

    and I am sorry if I seemed hard on Mr. Deen.

    @KMont: @Jazzlet: :)

    @Chris: Hey I did not know that. Thanks!

    @Neeley: Thanks very much for the rec!

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  28. “Stitch and Bitch” by A.L. Simonds. Another rec. Thanks! I really don’t enjoy anthos, though.

    I’m not that big an antho fan myself. Many’s the one I bought for the Balogh or the Kelly, and sometimes you get lucky with the others and sometimes you don’t. So yes, I’m recommending the “Stitch and Bitch” story but the antho is 21 stories/$15 — a pretty decent ratio if most of the stories were enjoyable — but for me personally that bar wasn’t met, altho there are some really good ones. It’s too bad publishers don’t allow folks to buy individual stories, say at .75 a pop.

    Still working on a comprehensive review — Agony/Ecstasy certainly provides a catholic overview of many of the favourite sub-genres so perhaps a novice reader might find it a useful starting place.

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  29. If there is anything analogous — and there isn’t, necessarily — perhaps it would be that both genres generally feature authors writing as something they’re not? Adults writing as adolescents / women writing as gay men. Maybe the first person narration lends verisimilitude. Except when it doesn’t.

    I remember reading a YA book in which there was a typo that suggested the book had originally been written in the third person and then converted to first person. Editor/publisher request, I assumed, although who knows. I would guess that first person is seen as more marketable in YA, since it’s so common. I don’t know enough about the m/m market to hazard a guess there.

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  30. I was very reluctant to read any m/m romance because gay male sex doesn’t do much for me (I’m one of those placeholder readers who has to insert myself into the story – no pun intended), but read some Josh Lanyon and realised a romance between two people is more then about sex (slaps forehead). I fell into the trap of seeing anything romance that’s not m/f as being erotic romance which is certainly not the case.

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  31. I had no idea that reading f/f would turn me on until I started reading erotica and read a few f/f scenes within a basically m/f story. Before that I probably would have said that it wouldn’t have turned me on to read. But before that I was never turned on by reading romance either.

    I’d say I almost pretty much strictly read f/f. I feel attracted to it because in a way it’s very familiar yet far more taboo for me than reading m/f. I read m/m but it doesn’t do it for me as much because I really can’t relate to it as much.

    I agree with others above though that what it boils down to is personal preference about what turns you on and what you like to read. There’s been so many discussions about why f/f doesn’t really sell or it’s not as popular as m/m and it goes in circles really with the same things being said. At this point I don’t even like to discuss it anymore. I have a few reader friends who like reading f/f and we discuss amongst ourselves the books we’ve read.

    f/f romance doesn’t sell because bisexual and lesbian readers are a minority of the romance reading community.

    One of the issues for sure is bisexual f/f vs. lesbian f/f. Unlike m/m where most readers are female and there really isn’t an issue about whether the characters are bi or gay, with f/f it is an issue within different groups of readers. The straight reader of f/f is usually more interested in a bi story or one that includes a male, like f/f/m menage. They don’t relate as much to the lesbian story that speaks to specific attributes of being a lesbian and living in that world. And the lesbian reader is not so much into reading about a male being part of the picture in a bi or f/f/m story.

    So what you have is not only a very small population who like f/f, but within that population you have splinter groups even who are more specific about what they like to read in f/f.

    I will also say that while I love reading f/f and lesbian, and have reviewed quite a bit, I’ve felt a subtle judgement from the lesbian community about reviewing their books being as I’m not part of their community and can have my straight privilege and enjoy their sexual/ romantic world without consequence. I still do it but I do feel uncomfortable. So there’s that as well. It puts a damper on my reading choices sometimes. I don’t feel that from the bi authors who write f/f.

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  32. Unlike m/m where most readers are female and there really isn’t an issue about whether the characters are bi or gay

    Actually, this is very much an issue with a certain segment of the m/m reading community. Some people get *very* upset about “girl cooties” in their gay romance. (And it’s actually called that.) If it’s clear from the blurb that one or both of the men is in a m/f relationship at any point in the story, they won’t buy it. And saints preserve us if there’s a m/f sex scene that wasn’t telegraphed by the blurb, because they will have a FIT.

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  33. @LVLMLeah:

    I will also say that while I love reading f/f and lesbian, and have reviewed quite a bit, I’ve felt a subtle judgement from the lesbian community about reviewing their books being as I’m not part of their community and can have my straight privilege and enjoy their sexual/ romantic world without consequence.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. This part is really interesting to me. I know with m/m most readers are straight women. Are most f/f most readers lesbians? If most f/f is read and written by gay women (is it? I have no idea.) then I wonder if straight readers feel more like they are entering a foreign community than when they read m/m and they know the author is a straight woman like them, and they can talk about the book with other straight readers.

    I can understand that cool reaction on the part of any oppressed minority. But that sets up a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t for straight readers, doesn’t it? Possibly, if one is looking for the “right” thing to do, putting up with a bit of skepticism from the f/f reading lesbian community, especially if it helps a straight reader (and I do not know if you are, only that you don’t identify as part of the lesbian community) be a better ally in some way, is preferable to not engaging at all, and making judgment about what that sort of fiction is like and whether one would like it without having ever tried to read it. (And I am talking about myself in that last bit.)

    @Becky:

    Some people get *very* upset about “girl cooties” in their gay romance. (And it’s actually called that.)

    Huh. This has been very educational.

    @willaful: That sounds like a good possibility. what an interesting discovery with the typo! Also, I wonder if there is an assumption about the YA audience, that it is younger and more self-interested (given the age) and might like first person better?

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  34. I’ve read very few m/m stories, but enjoyed one with first person POV of the more masculine, dominant character. It was Happy Ending by LB Gregg. She’s a great writer.

    I’m wondering if women relate to the smaller/gentler character, but feel less attracted to him. So authors write from that POV and deliver the gay perspective along with the hot manly love object. I think I would actually enjoy this kind of m/m more because I feel like a voyeur reading m/m anyway. I’m not necessarily turned off by it, but I don’t seek it out and I have uncomfortable feelings about it.

    @Saajan Patel:

    Now, gay sex is largely just a different kind of sex to me. And since I don’t see myself turning gay or bi, the only place for me to experience it is via narrative.

    Yes! Thank you for this comment. I’ve thought very deeply about why I like f/f and never come this close to nailing it.

    On a related note, I know a lesbian reader who loves m/f romance. I don’t believe it makes her less gay.

    As far as what sells. Selena Kitt is a very popular erotica writer and her stories sell–to men and women. She writes some f/f/m. But it’s not romance. Maybe straight women can imagine a sexual affair with another woman, just not a happy ever after. I can see that. I’m more attracted to f/f stories (about bi or straight women experiementing) than lesbian stories.

    This is just an assumption, but I think most f/f is written and read by straight women. Most lesbian romance is read and written by lesbians. Unlike in m/m, I see a clear distinction between the two, as LVLM said above.

    Thanks for the topic and the links, Jessica! Love your blog. Mwah.

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  35. @Jessica

    Are most f/f most readers lesbians? If most f/f is read and written by gay women (is it? I have no idea.) then I wonder if straight readers feel more like they are entering a foreign community than when they read m/m and they know the author is a straight woman like them, and they can talk about the book with other straight readers.

    I think most readers of lesbian are lesbian. About f/f with a bi or curious slant, I think many are straight or bi readers.

    It is interesting though that one lesbian author who writes lesbian romance stated on her blog that most of her readers were straight. I found that very curious.

    Like Jill said above, I tend to relate more to the bi/ curious character than the lesbian character, but since there’s really not many bi centric stories, I do read a lot of lesbian.

    I know that most lesbian books are usually written by lesbians. But I will say that those books generally come from publishers that have traditionally published lesbian fiction like Bold Strokes or Bella Books. Books from those publishers usually do not have bi f/f stories. They strictly cater to the lesbian reader community.

    However, a lot of f/f books published by epubs are written by bi and straight authors as well as lesbians. I don’t think really that the orientation of the author is any kind of an issue in what readers feel comfortable about. But many, not all, lesbian authors do infuse into their stories social constructs particular to the lesbian community that a straight reader might not relate to. On a personal note, I’ve read a few really good/hot -f/f written by men and they didn’t have a pornish feel to them. So it’s never been an issue for me.

    About the judgment from the lesbian community, like I said, it’s subtle. And it could be just my personal feeling to be respectful but yet wanting to review what I read. It’s sometimes hard to review a lesbian centric book when I’ve not lived in that world and don’t know if I can judge accurately how correctly that world is being portrayed. Like in a m/f, I might criticize a particular trope with some authority that it’s unrealistic. But a specific lesbian trope I cannot. And what might bug me in a lesbian romance may be something that is quite common in the lesbian world. But I do my best.

    And you’re right, it is better to at least help get more exposure since many of my reader friends are straight and willing to read a f/f here and there.

    @Jill

    On a related note, I know a lesbian reader who loves m/f romance. I don’t believe it makes her less gay.

    Actually, many m/m writers are lesbians and or bi or gender queer. And I know some lesbians who like to read m/m and m/f. Many lesbians don’t like to read lesbian. Maybe for the same reason I like to read f/f. Sometimes it’s easier to enjoy when you’re not part of that world.

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  36. Going into a Barnes & Noble (this is true of the one near me, anyway) you get the opposite impression because there are far more lesbian romances on the shelf than m/m. Last night I counted 1 m/m and a good five or six f/f, including both romance and erotica. I’m not sure why that is (or if it is so because I live in a very conservative area.)

    I’ve read some m/m in first person where the more masculine character is the point-of-view. Since most historical seems to be in third, I seldom come across first person, but I like first as well as third. As far as writing it, I’ve seen so much negative reaction (including from editors) to first, I switched to third after my first book and stuck with it.

    I’ve read both m/m and f/f and have enjoyed both. The body parts involved don’t seem to matter, as long as the emotion draws me in.

    Congratulations on your readership! I hope you double the number in 2012.:)

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  37. I think the way most romance readers read their books makes f/f a difficult sell. I’m completely straight, but I’ve enjoyed the f/f that I’ve read. Why? Because I have never read to fall in love with a book’s hero. I hate the placeholder heroine common in m/f and most m/m bores me as it’s 110% het female fantasy. I read romance to meet new people and see them get their HEA. I actually skim most sex scenes as 9/10 of them are gratuitous, don’t add to the plot/characterization and are written like crap. Since I’m not reading romance for vicarious arousal (that’s erotica’s job) the fact that lesbian sex doesn’t thrill me is immaterial. I’m reading for the characters.

    If you’re a straight woman reading romance to fall in love with the characters yourself, why would f/f appeal to you? Who are you going to swoon over?

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  38. I have never read to fall in love with a book’s hero. [...] I’m not reading romance for vicarious arousal [...] the fact that lesbian sex doesn’t thrill me is immaterial. I’m reading for the characters.

    Yes, that explains why I’ve enjoyed reading the few lesbian romances I’ve come across. I certainly don’t fall in love with the hero in f/m and I read sex scenes because I hope they, like the other scenes, will develop the characterisation and/or develop the plot.

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  39. @Ridley:

    I think the way most romance readers read their books makes f/f a difficult sell. I’m completely straight, but I’ve enjoyed the f/f that I’ve read. Why? Because I have never read to fall in love with a book’s hero. I hate the placeholder heroine common in m/f and most m/m bores me as it’s 110% het female fantasy. I read romance to meet new people and see them get their HEA. I actually skim most sex scenes as 9/10 of them are gratuitous, don’t add to the plot/characterization and are written like crap. Since I’m not reading romance for vicarious arousal (that’s erotica’s job) the fact that lesbian sex doesn’t thrill me is immaterial. I’m reading for the characters.

    I’m pretty omnivorous when it comes to romance and erotic romance. I share your opinion when it comes to all GLBT romance. Anything outside of het monogamy is beyond my realm of experience, but if a story is smoothly written with compelling characters and believeable romantic elements, I’ll probably enjoy it and I’m willing to give it a shot.

    If you’re a straight woman reading romance to fall in love with the characters yourself, why would f/f appeal to you? Who are you going to swoon over?

    Your comment is so interesting to me because I feel exactly the same way about m/m romance. Although I might enjoy reading a gay romance — really like the characters and enjoy their love story — I don’t get the same “swoon factor” I experience reading romance or erotic romance involving at least one female character.

    I feel distanced from the gay male characters. They’re gay and I don’t relate to that. They’re male and I don’t relate to that, either. I may lack the voyeuristic tendencies necessary to appreciate the sex appeal of observing (on paper) two men falling in lust/love and making love together, all the while recognizing I have no shot at being part of that love or desire beyond watching, which I dislike doing. If I saw two gorgeous, hunky, bright, successful, incredibly desireable men embracing in RL, I wouldn’t think “Oh, my gooooodness, how sweeeet!” I’d think, “Rats. I’ve never wanted to be a gay man more in my life. There’s nothing there for me. All I can do is watch. ”

    I’ve chatted with straight male friends about this and some of them surprised me by saying they felt the same way about girl-on-girl pornography. As you pointed out earlier, it is a fetish and its primary appeal is voyeuristic. If you’d rather do instead of watch, there’s not much in that scenario for you.

    When I read f/f romance, my response is a little bit different. I can’t say I relate to being lesbian or bisexual. BUT … I know what it feels like to be female, to experience attraction, desire, and arousal. When I read about a heroine experiencing these things, I empathize with her in a more direct, visceral manner, even if the heroine’s feelings are directed toward a female character. I feel a bit more connected to a bisexual or lesbian female character in that sense. Because of that, I am more invested in her story, which adds to my enjoyment.

    I’m not saying I don’t enjoy m/m romance, just that I enjoy it differently than I enjoy m/f or f/f romance.

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