Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Our Party And We'll Rock If We Want To!

When people think of the GayRomLit Retreat they think of great books, great authors and a chance to talk about a genre that tends to grab hold of readers and never EVER lets go. Us ladies here at The LL Word got all of that and much more when we went to Albuquerque for GRL 2012. The weekend was amazing, not only did it meet our expectations but totally exceeded them. Since LA had gone to the first GRL in New Orleans we were lookin forward the activites, but mostly  we expected it to be a weekend to see friends we don't get to see nearly enough, put faces to the names of people we'd gotten to know online, and connect with new people who we now call friends.

From the first event at the which was the opening ceremony we knew that this year would be something special. After the opening words of the ALWAYS amazing Ethan Day,  JP Bowie another one of the fabulous event organizers stood up and read some touching words regarding the passing of authour William Neale. He later asked  us to take a look around and see our family in that room. This people that we share this enormous passion with were there with us and that is what it felt like... like family. We were in this room because we shared a strong love for stories of men who get to live their happy ending. ALL OF US not just the people we came with, but also those that we added during the weekend even those we didn't get a chance to talk to,or those that we might know online but had differences with...We were there together to celebrate these stories. The entire weeked had an aura,  of acceptance and love and HAVING FUN. There really is nothing like arriving at a place where everyone will just accept you for who you are, no questions, no judgement, so many people during that weekend said to us GRL was their chance to just BE.

                               From the top left: Tina, LA, Cole, Sadonna, Snow
                                                                  and Laddie

                         From the Left: Tina, Cole, Sadonna, Laddie and LA
                    At Club Effex in Albuquerque after seeing "My Big Gay Undead Wedding"
Thanks to our friend, the awesome and adorable Steph (Snowtulip on Goodreads), we were able to hear about a cabaret show that was being put on by the New Mexico Men's Chorus Group at Club Effex in downtown Albuquerque. The show "My Big Fat Undead Gay Wedding" was a highlight of our weekend.

The show was fantastic and showcased the talent of a group of fabulous Out and Proud gay men from that lovely city. Laddie was especially happy to hear the fantastic performance of "Who Wants To Live Forever" by Queen. Both of us loved the strong and emotional rendition of "Creep" by Radiohead. Bel the video we took of that performance.

From Left: Ethan Day, LA and Geoff Knight

 Some of the best moments for us were going to the readings of some of our favorites authors like Amy Lane, Ethan Day, and the very animated Jet Mykles. Meeting them was also a great treat. Laura had her fangirl moment when meeting Amy Lane while Laddie just about died when she met AKM Miles. We both got to meet were Aleksandr Voinov (an amazing surprise) who was the sweetest man and Val Kovalin who are way up high on Laddie to-read list and two of Laura's favorite authors.

We also met fellow bloggers like Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos and the LOVELY Julie from Joyfully Jay two fantastic ladies with whom we had some of the most fun moments of the retreat. The authors that we met and LOVED are too many to name so we'll just mention a few...Margarite Labbe, ZA Maxfield, Eric Arvin, TA Chase, KC Burn, Abigail Roux, Kate McMurray, Heidi Cullinan, Marie Sexton, Geoffrey Knight, Isabelle Rowan, Tara Lain...All wonderful and fun. We loved meeting you all.

                         LA and Amy Lane she didn't cry but it was a close call!
One thing that was awesome about GRL was that no matter what differences we may have had with some authors and readers online the aura and attitude of the weekend was completely friendly and welcoming. We really think that says something about the people who love the M/M Romance genre and how amazing they are.

So, where is GRL 2013 happening? Atlanta, Georgia. That's right, Hotlanta baby!! We are looking forward to seeing older friends, newer friends and a whole bunch of amazing authors in the hot, hot south next year. Will you be there? We certainly hope so!

                          From the left: Margarite Labbe, Julie, LA, HC, Gyn and Leigh.

Before ending this post we just want to say how proud we are to belong to this amazing community of people and we COMPLETELY want to express our absulte most heartfelt THANK YOU to the organizers of this event...We could never tell you in enough words what being able to gather with all of our friends means to us. Here's to a year of fabulous books and to talking all about them at GRL 2013!

                 Gyn, Tina, Julie, LA, Leigh and Alexander...Our last night. It was a good one.

-The LLadies

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis

From the first word I fell in love with this the last word I loved this book.

When you read the volumes of books that fans of this genre read in a year, things start muddling together, there are books that you love, and there are books you REALLY love...BLOWN AWAY though that's hard to come by. Happens very rarely...But then there are stories that come out of left field and bitch slap you in the nose and go Hey come here and get to know a little thing called PRIME QUALITY WRITING!!! This was no amateur hour folks, this was serious fucking writing. Like for reals. Best LGBT Young Adult book I've read this year, and in my all time top five. No fooling.

So Brandon is a high school graduate and in the summer off before college, he is setting off on a trip to hit up all the conventions for his favorite show "Starsetter" with his best friend Bec and with his co-vlogger (and the boy he is desperately in love with) Abel. They are GEEKS ,I mean they LIVE for this stuff. The show's main characters the Starsetter's Captain Cadmus, and his android sidekick Sim are like Brandon and Abel's fantasy men, perfect in every way. They know EVERTHING about this show, deconstructing everything that happens is like an obsession, but you know that they hate? They fucking hate that all the slashers have shipped them into some romance...I mean it's RIDICULOUS! The might be gay boys, but they are not about to turn the awesomest duo in television history into a cutesy couple just 'cause! They are awesome supeheroes that are to be worshipped for their awesomeness and not because they might be DOING IT!

So they set off on the tour of conventions to dispel the myth that in the last scene of the last episode of the latest season Cadmus and Sim get together...They challenge the Cadsim slashers that they will put all that shit to rest over the summer. They know they are GEEKY and in Abel's words STONE COLD CRACKERS WITH A SIDE OF CRAZY FRIES...But not EVERYONE is gay. So they must do away with all this Cadsim shippers insanity. 

This feud between Brandon, Abel and the fandom ensues some of the most deliciously AMAZING humor I have read. OMG it was BRILLIANT!!!

There is also the fact that Brandon really is truly in love with Abel (even if Abel has a "boyfriend"), but how he feels is all muddled up with the guilt he carries for being gay. He is out to his family, but they are devout Catholics and even though they want to support him, things are different. They don't want this for him. In their hearts they believe that Brandon is making bad choices, damming choices. He loves his family, and even his family priest who is trying to help him "rectify" his feelings...He is wrecked. Just wrecked and it is messing with his head and his heart...But he wants Abel. He loves him. Abel is like the sun, bright and makes him smile. He's funny and passionate and throws himslef in to everything. Brandon is trying to reconcile the way he is, with what he has been taught about right and wrong...It's hard. It makes him shifty, makes him hurt Abel with his indecision. But he tries to be braver, to move past his guilt, because in his heart and in his brain, he KNOWS that he deserves to be happy...To be happy with a boy. To let himself love a boy that loves him back.

This part the part of Brandon struggling with his faith and what he knows is right for gutwrenching, but DAMN so well done. The author cuts us no slack here and it's FANTASTIC. No 18 year old boy can dismiss years of faith, community, the love of his parents, no matter how much he's into his boyfriend...But Brandon fights it hard, because he knows he deserves happiness.

So in that summer of utter unrepentant geekdom, Brandon and Abel challenge each other, the fandom, see the differnces between the characters they idolize and the actual real and flawed humans who bring them to life, learn about friendship, love, acceptance, patience...FREEDOM...ACCEPTANCE.

This book was such an amazing little thing, it just steamrolled me. First of all the premise of these boys being extreme fans, so devoted. But also having the sense of humor to laugh at themselves for their geekyness was truly delightful, as someone who just got home from a weekend in New Mexico of hanging out with 400 other M/M romance devotees, this book resonated with me COMPLETELY and honestly made me laugh my ass off, because I saw myself and so many of my online friends in this book so many times. It was a fucking DELIGHT. So wonderfully witty. But also with such sobering moments...Brandon and Abel learn about consequences, even by what they say and do online...Are personally affected by the recklessness of what people can carelessly do and say from behing a keyboard...People can act like there is no accountability on the net, like what we say or do is not REAL...It is, it can be. 

The secondary characters in this book were amazing, the online ones, Bec the best friend, the "REAL" people behind the show, even the parents, they were all layered and wonderful

Mostly Brandon and Abel have a wonderful summer...Of love, and friendship, moments of geekful perfection. They grow up a little, a lot actually, they have hard moments, they hurt each other, and they fall in love...And we get to have that summer with them. 

It really is an amazing summer these boys have. I am so FUCKING HAPPY to have found them in the net somewhere, and to have gone on this adventure with them.

I laughed my ass off, cried until I heaved, cringed, nodded along, smiled like a loon, LOVED EVERY SINGLE WORD. PERFECT. 

This book was perfect for me.

JC Lillis wherever you are you just made a COLD STONE CRACKHEAD of a fan out of me. I do hope there is more from you soon.


How To Repair a Mechanical Heart is for Sale (for $3.99 which is CRAZY!!!) on

Friday, October 5, 2012

Two Things: A Wonderful Online Series and One of the Most Touching Music Videos I've EVER Seen...

First thing...I've been meaning to write about this show for weeks now, once I realized NONE of my friends knew about it. Including all my gay friends!

Husbands is this sweet little online show. It's a series which so far has 14 (very) shorts episodes about a pair of newlyweds.

Here is the premise...Cheeks, a pretty flamboyant sitcom actor, and Brad, a baseball player for the LA Dodgers have gotten married in Las Vegas. Marriage Equality has finally been legalized in the US, and after only six weeks of dating the pair got a little carried away with their celebrating and wake up hungover and MARRIED...Since the don't want to be BRITNEY...They decide to stay married and see it goes. What ensues is incredibly funny TV, with truly heartwarming and tender moments  and all of this in episodes that range between three to eight minutes in length. All the characters secondary and the two leads are OUTSTANDING and outrageously funny.

The series is co-produced  and co-writte by Brad Bell, the actor that plays Cheeks and Jane Espenson who one of the writers for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For the Buffy fans, you will get a kick to see Joss Whedon making cameos as Brad's agent.

So if you haven't seen husbands PLEASE give it a try you won't regret it. It is truly great and you can watch both seasons in under and hour, all the episodes are available for free on youtube. To get you started below is the very first episode titled...Waking Up in Vegas...ENJOY!!!!

The second thing is the video for the song Same Love by the Seattle based artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis which came out earlier this weekThis song IS BEAUTIFUL, and it has been making the rounds on the internet for the past few days. I decided to post here in case some of you have missed it. It's a truly gorgeous effort to support Marriage Equality and I just want to share it with as many people as I can...I am grateful for my friend who sent me the link early Wednesday morning, even if he did fail to warn me that I would cry for an hour afterwards!

So far I've watched it a dozen times and cried every single time with how beautiful it is...Watching it I think of the people in my life that I love so much, like the friend who sent this to me,  who still have not walked down the aisle, and I like to think that very soon, it will be so that they  all have the right to stand up with theirt beloved in front of all the their loved ones and say I DO! :O)

Here it is Same Love...ENJOY and SHARE!!

Have a great weekend EVERYONE! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dex in Blue by Amy Lane

                                                                        This book was interesting for various reasons:

1. It was not nearly as angsty as I expected it to be, especially as a follow up for Chase in Shadow which was such a hard book.

2. The way that these characters unfolded REALLY surprised me. 

3. Amy Lane once again got the Latino man/culture/family things to a T. I don't know where she is getting her info, but it's really working.

Dex and Kane we knew from CiS...Dex was a leader among the models at Johnnies the gay-for-pay studio him and Kane work for, he's a guy that people can count on. Dex is not really doing scenes anymore, he is directing and pretty much running the business with John(more and more on his own lately since John has developed a bit of a coke problem). 

Dex is in his late twenties and since he came to California nine years ago, running a away from the loss of the love of his life, Johnies has been the closest thing to a family and a home he's had.

Kane is a young guy, from a working class Mexican family and once he was out of high school he decided that doing porn could put the skills in the one thing he could do well to use and at least make some money. He ends up needing to stay at Johnnies, so that he can pay for his little nieces leukemia treatment even though his sister I a fucking bitch and treats him like shit for being a "pervert". Which leads to Kane being kicked out of his own house, so that his bitch sister can get away from her abusive husband...And that's how Kane and Dex end up being roomies. 

Dex has the space and he likes Kane a lot, he's a good guy and on the night that Dex finally puts an ends to his own toxic relationship Kane and Dex start to move things away from friends and more towards lovers.

Their journey is sweet, they give each other a home and companionship, love, support and in true Amy Lane style these men are as FIERCE and RIGHTEOUS for each other. 

When Dex needs him Kane takes on who he has to for Dex to be alright. Dex does the same for Kane. There is also the tribe, Chase, Tommy, Ethan (Book #3!! WOOHOO!)John, Kevin, Donnie, and all the others we knew from CiS who do for each other and well it's a lovely hodge podge reminiscent of our other beloved group from the Central Valley.

This book in many ways is very simple, two men who are alone find a person to love, and who will love them back, and accept them for exactly who they are cracks and all.

I loved them together, completely loved Kane and just really enjoyed their story. I love these tribes that Amy Lane writes ,and I truly delight in getting to know them as well as I do. They feel SO REAL. Visiting with Tommy and Chase and seeing them from another POV was also a treat and I have to say a brilliant move.

All in a all not the emotional roller coaster that I expected, it was mostly a nice walk with two men that have to go through their share of trials to arrive to a happy ending that in my opinion was well worth the patches of bad stuff...I think Dex and Kane would agree.

LOVED....Like always, it's not like it's a surprise or anything.

Dex in Blue is available at Dreamspinner Press