shrew (n) :
1. "small mammal," O.E. screawa "shrew-mouse."
2. "peevish, malignant, clamorous, spiteful, vexatious, turbulent woman" [Johnson] c.1386, from earlier sense of "spiteful person" (male or female), c.1250, traditionally said to derive from some supposed malignant influence of the animal, which was once believed to have a venomous bite and was held in superstitious dread.

Synonyms: amazon, battle-ax, bitch, calumniator, carper, dragon, fire-eater, fishwife, fury, harpy, harridan, hell cat, hellion, hussy, madcap, muckraker, nag, ogress, scold, she-wolf, siren, spitfire, termagant, tigress, virago, vixen, wench

This blog features reviews of LGBT science fiction and fantasy, tales of the life of a freelance writer, the occasional meme, and pictures of cats. If any of this offends you, please press Ctrl+W.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Life of a Freelance Writer and One Quasi-Review

So right up there at the top of this blog it says "tales of a the life of a freelance writer," and you know what's hilarious?

I haven't been posting here lately because I've been too busy with my freelance writing.

Does this count as a tale of the life of a freelance writer? Ironically? I would ponder this, but that means I would have to type some more. And I've been doing that all day.

In other news, I finished The Fall of The Kings by Ellen Kushner, the third in her fantasy series that begins with SwordspointI skipped The Privilege of the Sword because I am an idiot, even though I hear it is a great book. I might go back and read it. These books are amazing, and I can't recommend them enough. If you enjoy historical novels and city novels, you will enjoy Kushner's books. And of course, they have boys who love boys in them. Which makes it better. And that's all the "review" I have in me now. Terrible, I know.

Regular reviews will return when morale improves.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Got fiction? Call for Submissions from Lethe Press.

Call for Submissions from Lethe Press!

Melt in Your Mouth: Chocolate, Boys and Bed

Editor: CB Potts
Publisher: Lethe Press, Summer 2011
Deadline: March 30, 2011
Payment: 2 cents/word and a copy of the book on publication

Melt in Your Mouth: Chocolate, Boys, and Bed
Sweet, sticky, decadent…is anything better than chocolate? Yes, there is – especially when the tempting mouthful is presented by a candy artistan who looks good enough to eat…

Lethe Press is seeking well-written, inventive gay male erotic stories that feature chocolatiers, confectioners, bakers, and candy men of every persuasion – including the one that got caught with his hand in the bon-bon box! Particularly attention paid to stories that are fun, upbeat, and a step or two off the beaten path…give us your best gourmet treats!

Click HERE for more details.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Holy Bulging Muscles, Batman!

So I was browsing iO9 and came across this gem: 90s Marvel Comics Pin-Ups.

And I was struck by how many of those male superheroes look, well... gay.

Exhibit A: Captain America.

Yeaaahhh, um... iO9 said it best: "This Captain America illustration was a collaboration between Norman Rockwell and Tom of Finland."

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't point out comics' first gay superhero: Northstar. 

Now, he's hot, don't get me wrong... but somehow this is more demure than the "straight" superhero pin-ups in the bunch. I honestly wonder why that is... Is Northstar not presented as a sex object because he's gay? Because it would be more threatening to show him in a banana hammock? Possibly. Are Captain America's muscles presented to the (presumably male) viewer as something to aspire to rather than something to desire? If so, where does this put female or gay male viewers? Is Capt. America presented to female viewers as titillating, and if so, then is Northstar as well? 

Take a minute to glance at these two pictures... Captain America's ass is there for all to see (oh, those wrinkles are driving me crazy), but Northstar's is conveniently hidden by that spray of water. The Shrew wonders why. The Shrew does not have any hard answers, but thinks it's fun to contemplate the intersection of comics, representation, sexuality and the male gaze. If anyone has thoughts, feel free to share in the comments. 

If you're interested in reading more about gay superheroes, here's a few links:
Perry Moore, author of Hero (a gay superhero novel), also has a list


Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Author: Jordan Castillo Price

The Shrew had some personal issues over the past couple of weeks, but she's back and raring to go with a new author: Jordan Castillo Price!

Jordan Castillo Price writes highly entertaining and addictive M/M novels, many of which have a speculative fiction focus. This author's engaging novels are also probably termed "gay paranormal romance", though the Shrew has a somewhat irrational dislike of the term paranormal romance, even if it is prefaced by gay. In the world of M/M romance, it is hard to find quality writing, especially in sub-genres such as M/M paranormal romance, fantasy or science fiction. But Jordan Castillo Price proves the exception to this rule. Her stories are down-to-earth, funny, romantic, strange and refreshing. Her characters are fleshed-out people, men and women you could imagine knowing.

HemovorePerhaps because of her academic background, the Shrew is very picky when it comes to her M/M titles, and so she overlooked Jordan Castillo Price for a long time. When I finally gave in and searched for "gay vampire fiction", I found (and unfortunately paid for) some pretty dismal titles. It's a sad state of affairs when solid characterization is a quality lacking in many genre novels, and I was overjoyed when, after slogging through some uninspired titles, I found Hemovore.

At first glance, the cover was already light years away from the shirtless-hunk-and-bad-Photoshop covers sported by most M/M titles. Then I started reading, and a grin spread across my face. Jordan Castillo Price had created a fascinating paranormal world and a totally adorable main character. Hemovore is set in an alternative-reality Chicago where vampires live uneasily alongside human beings, ala Charlaine Harris. The twist is that the vampires were created by a virus, and they're referred to as V-positive. The main character, Mark Jensen, is the personal assistant of a very beautiful and mysterious V-positive artist, Jonathan Varga. Mark is neurotic about hand gel and gloves because he's terrified of catching the vampire virus. You would think that this would be grating, but it's ultimately endearing. You get completely sucked in and are eager to follow Mark's adventures as he gets pulled into the world of the V-positives. And that's all I'm going to say, lest I give anything away.

In Hemovore Jordan Castillo Price did some very impressive things with what was essentially a gay paranormal romance novel: created a totally realistic world in which vampires exist without resorting to cliches, wrote a very tight mystery and action plot without getting bogged down or skipping over anything, introduced readers to a main character that's totally believable but also lovable, let the sexual tension build and build throughout the novel without boring the reader, and tackled AIDS issues in the gay community without being heavy handed. All of that in one novel. After reading Hemovore, I was determined to read more from Jordan Castillo Price.

Among the Living (PsyCop)That led me to her most popular series, PsyCop, which "features frazzled psychic medium Victor Bayne and his smokin'-hot boyfriend, Jacob Marks" (from the PsyCop website). Victor is a flawed character but completely endearing. The paranormal mystery plots of the novels are interesting, and the sex between Victor and Jacob is totally hot. I read the first PsyCop novel, Among the Living on Kindle in about a day because it was so engrossing. Then I promptly downloaded the second PsyCop novel, Criss Cross, and then the third, Body & Soul. Each novel took about a day to read, but I am a fast reader and I got kind of addicted. 

The only drawback to the PsyCop novels is that they feel a little short, but I suppose that's what happens with serial novels like these. The upside to this is that each novel is reasonably priced on Kindle, so you can indulge in the whole series without breaking the bank.

The thing I love the most about Jordan Castillo Price is her narrative voice (to get all academic about it.) Plainly put, her main characters are real people, and they speak in real voices. Victor Bayne, in particular, reads like a real guy--he's got issues, fears and quirks, but he's also self-effacing and funny. You find yourself rooting for him throughout the series. The Shrew, for example, is completely in love with Victor. I would have downloaded the other books in the series already, but I didn't want to go through them too fast. Like a large box of delicious chocolates, Jordan Castillo Price's novels should be savored. 

If you want to read more about Jordan Castillo Price, you can find her fan page on Facebook, her blog on LiveJournal, or at the PsyCop website. If you fell as hard for Victor as I did, you can even sign up for her newsletter!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

On Becoming a Freelance Writer

Check out the new blog by my business partner about freelance writing. Her first post answers many of the questions we get about how to become a freelance writer.

"Rarely does a day pass without one of my well-meaning friends inquiring about how to become a freelance writer. It’s no hidden fact that I write from home, nor am I exactly quiet about celebrating my financial successes via my social media outlets. So in a way, I asked for these constant interruptions. One of the keys to my success is sheer, single-minded focus on hitting my daily financial goals. To be completely honest, it’s pretty hard to meet said financial goals when taking an hour out of my day (nearly every day) to explain how I make a living.
Unfortunately, most of my friends wait to ask for advice on how to become a freelance writer until they are in dire financial positions. Let me state this from the start:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Caturday: New Years Edition

Whut? Is Caturday already?

I promised cat pictures, and in honor of the first Caturday of the new year, I'll introduce my boy Prophet. He's a doll-faced Persian male born on September 12th, 2010 in the Treasure Grove cattery.

This is Prophet at around six weeks old. He was just one of the litter of white kittens at that time, and I didn't realize he was for me just yet.

Here he is at around eight weeks. Now you can see why I had to have him! He's got one green and one blue eye, called odd-eye in the Cat Fancier's world. And no he's not deaf. That's a myth. Only about 10-20% of odd-eyed white cats are deaf, so it does happen, but not nearly as much as you might think.

But what's with the name Prophet? I have a character in my stories who is an albino with one green and one blue eye--you guessed it--named Prophet. (Al'enshar in the vasgir language, for those in the know.) When I saw this kitten, I knew he was for me. 

Here's a close up.
That's also his Angry Face, inherited from his daddy, Snowman. 

For reference, here is Snowman.

Snowman is one of the most massive cats I have ever seen, and it just blows my mind that one day Prophet will be as huge as this guy. This picture doesn't show it, but Snowman also has that giant tom cat head and the crazy long lion mane fur around his face. One day, this will be my little baby. 

Anyway, more pictures of Prophet! 
He's getting really good at Angry Face, especially when I interrupt his scratching/catnip time for pictures.

His expression here is just classic: "You expect me to *play* with that? Right now?"
I had to get a picture of him because he was sleeping next to the toy after tiring himself out batting it around. Then of course he woke up right as I settled onto the floor. 

BONUS: Prophet and his momma, Dolly, both playing with the bug toy.

Prophet is a very playful kitten, just not once the camera comes out, of course. Even with Angry Face, I just can't get enough of looking at this little guy. He's got the fluffiest fur I've ever felt, and can be really sweet if you catch him at the right time. My only concern is that he's not a cuddler, but I think in time he will come around. Snowman absolutely loves me and begs for petting regularly, so I'm not too worried. Besides, all Prophet knows me for is baths and grooming, which are not his favorite things.