Thursday, September 22, 2016

YaoiCon 2016: A Full Circle Moment

YaoiCon 2010 I flew from China because my favorite Yaoi artist was attending: Yamane Ayano. Since I lived in China & Internet being sketchy I didn't know some of my favorite m/m romance authors would be there. I spent the entire plane ride reading Locker Room by Amy Lane. When I got to the dealer's room my jetlagged brain melted.

AMY FUCKING LANE!!! She was standing right there at the Dreamspinner table (no clue who Dreamspinner was at the time).

I was so flustered I'd forgotten the name of the Amy Lane book I'd spent hours reading instead of sleeping... FAN FAIL! She was lovely and kind and chatted with me until I crept away.

Later that day my twin (my Smexy Yaoi-lick-ous friend) Felicia introduced me to author named Derekica Snake and the first in the Blood Nation series: Cake. 

 Cut to YaoiCon 2016
Amy Lane & Z. 

Snakie & Z.

Playing ring toss

The fact both of them stopped by to give me hugs, to chat & both held my books in their hands... was nothing short of incredible!

2010 I couldn't have imagined having my own booth or talking to either of these amazing authors even somewhat coherently... But um... here I was hugging and rambling at two of my favorite authors... beyond mind blowing.

My OWN booth at YaoiCon 2016 with 8 books I'd WRITTEN

And if that wasn't enough a final incredible event happened that closed the circle: I held a sobbing fan in my arms. She was exhausted and a tad YaoiCon disoriented >>> when she put together I'd written Lock and Key she broke. She'd been touched by my work... It was... there are no words.

I'm grateful for all the love and encouragement I've received and continued to get! Thank you Pretties of YaoiCon for validating me! Much gratitude, love and many hugs to Amy Lane, Derekica Snakie & Felicia you've changed my world for the better!!!

Hugs, Z.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Yaoi: Not for everyone... but definitely for me.

"Yaoi (/ˈji/; Japanese: やおい, Japanese: [ja.o.i]), also known as Boys' Love (BL), is a Japanese genre of fictional media focusing on romantic or sexual relationships between male characters, typically aimed at a female audience and usually created by female authors." Or so says Wikipedia.... or from South Park's Wendy: 

A good basic Yaoi 101 video.

                              These next three pieces are by my favorite artist: Yamane Ayano

Extremely sexual (at times bordering on non-con/relunctance)

Sometimes silly (cause big bad mobster with stuff animal is adorbs)

The art is stunning

My first YaoiCon was in 2010... I traveled from China to San Fran to meet the incredible Yamane Ayano and got to spend time with some wonderful friends I'd met via the community.

The above video pointed out some of criticism directed at this genre: focusing on troupes, not having the characters come out as gay (which means there's no dealing with prejudices in society), not addressing bisexuality, stereotypical roles and treating the subject like a fetish. (LUBE! Reality people: USE LUBE!)

Ignoring the fact that this tradition comes from Asia where public affection is rarely seen (until recently) and sexuality isn't something to be discussed, many still draw/write in a way that honors the 'rules' of the genre but that's not always the case.

Many yaoi novels do actually address some of these issues. (I ADDRESS these issues! Other yaoi authors I read address these issues) So I believe Yaoi is changing with the times.

But I'd like to suggest we look past what we see on the surface: fans fawning over prettiness. Because the bigger question is WHY are fans so drawn and affected on almost a primal level to Yaoi?

I believe Yaoi helps some (not all) fans come to terms with their gender identity and their own sexuality. Yaoi characters explore their sexual expression in graphic detail therefore pushing the societal boundaries allowing more safe space for fans to figure out who they are. (Possibility the lack of pushing labels onto the characters allow the readers/fans to explore who they are and what they like without having to deal right away with changing a label >>> btw accepting a different gender label or orientation can take time and it's not instant.)

In some cases with the people I've talked to it allows them to reconnect to their own sexuality albeit through a backdoor. (Yeah I went there!) Society can be oppressive in the way sexuality is dealt or not. Yaoi allows distance so the fan/reader can explore/process without immediate backlash to allow full discovery.

At times I don't find it much different than gay romance though maybe a bit more over the top plots and an adherence to top/bottom relationship structure.

I LOVE Yaoi fans because they are the happiest and least judgmental group of people I've ever met.   Thank you for never slut shaming me for my likes/interests.

Here's where I'll be Sept 15-18:    YaoiCon 

Big hugs, Z. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Don't Open A Hamburger Restaurant In A Vegan Town...

Write what people want to buy. It seems like a no brainer... but when you're a writer that's murky. (Or we want to pretend it's unclear... otherwise aren't we compromising who we are as writers to sell books?)

I've had this conversation a number of times this past week. Partly because I was struggling with a work in progress which caused a logic loop: you're a writer >>> you wanna sell books >>> WRITE WHAT SELLS >>> but these aren't my characters/my plot/ME and I also had a number of discussions with my writing friends who were beating their head against low sales.

My advice is figure out what your top priority is and direct yourself to that goal.

It truly is that simple and that complex.

I want to please my publisher with decent sales but my top priority is to validate differences in people should not just to be tolerated but celebrated. I worship the edges and adore the variations within each of us.

I know contemporaries sell... shifters sell... things with Alpha males sell. I tried two write about two 'regular' guys and my characters wouldn't talk to me... I struggled because I was fighting against my style against my core: I write a yaoified version of love (and usually there's BDSM undertones). I can't help it... or maybe I chose not to...

If your top priority is to make $ from your writing: WRITE WHAT SELLS.

Then I realized I don't have to... Z. Allora writes characters who are on the edges and aren't average, some of my characters will be Alpha (like Alex from Zombies Suck >>> he's a virgin who wants to be a Dom by the way due to an abusive past he's afraid to orgasm) So most of my characters won't be Alpha males, my stories will tend to be a little over the top...

Maybe it's my own place on the fringes I need to validate... I don't know but I want to push the boundaries to create more safe space for everyone.  

Instead of changing what I write I need to focus in on getting my books in the hands of people who love a bit of Yaoi with their romance. They get characters like Jordon Davis (appears in Finally Fallen, Happy Holidays and Lock and Key), Boon-nam (from Illusions & Dreams), Robin Strider and Angel Luv (who both appear in With Wings, Tied Together, Finally Fallen, and Happy Holidays). I'm looking for readers who can suspend their disbelief and want hot rockers with issues and zombies who need come not brains to survive (Club Zombie 1 & 2).

I believe books are contracts between writer and reader. Readers should know what they are getting. If you sit down and open a Z. Allora book: smexy fluffy graphic yumminess. Yes, I deal with some harsher topics at times but I'm yaofying my romance... cause I was written that way!

(BTW: This was written at 4am before Pride cause it's 2 days late... sorry and if you need clarity on wtf I'm talking about find me on Facebook and ask!)

Big Hugs, Z.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Big Misunderstanding

Ohhhhh I’m aware how much some readers/reviewers/some of my critique partners hate it… but at the same time I feel like it is reality or at least my own. Last Friday this happened:

Some of you know my love (whom I adore beyond reason and is my everything) >>>  we have been together for almost 29 years. We know each other extremely well.

On Friday I was with Eden Winters (we were having a writer’s playdate… you know we hang out and talk about writing and what you’re working on but we NEVER actually write). My love called and said he could leave early. (We share a car so this means I needed to nab him earlier) AWESOME!

We had a conversation via speakerphone.
Love: So I’m good to go anytime.
Z.: Okay I can be there at 4pm.
Love: Great call me when you get here.
Z.: (not wanting to be rude to Eden more than I have to I said) I'm with Eden so I’ll be there at 4pm. Just come out when you're ready.
Love: Okay love you.
Z.: Love you.

Few minutes later I realize I apparently don’t know how to tell time. So I call him back.

Z.: Sweetie I’ll be there at 345pm.
Love: Okay so you’ll call me when you get here.
Z.: No just come out I’ll be there at 345pm. Love you.
Love: Okay. Love you.

350pm incoming call
Love: Um, are you outside or am I waiting for you to call?

Eden just started laughing.
Z.: See THAT’S WHY I WRITE THE BIG MISUNDERSTANDING it happens all the time to me.

>>>>By the way the same scene played out on Monday.

Communication issues are BIG between couples. Even when you’re together a long time, everyone's world filter is different so people hear things differently, interpret words differently. One of the biggest problems in relationship problems is faulty communication.

In Illusions & Dreams, Lalana and Boon-nam don’t do what they desperately want since communication between their lovers and between each other was flawed.

Dusty Davis in Finally Fallen heard something one way because that’s what would be easier in his world.

Robin Strider (Tied Together) even though he knows Josh better than anyone overthinks and something dramatic to seek clarity.

Zombies Suck 's communication is stunted because while people can’t know about zombies >>> the lack of confirmation (aka COMMUNICATION) makes everyone involved a tad crazy.

So yeah I’ll lay down on the altar of criticism for the BIG misunderstanding because it happens in my world on the regular… and if it doesn’t happen elsewhere could I move in with you?

Hugs, Z.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What do you have to lose? Authors & Politics

Depends on your priorites...

How many times have we heard you should never discuss religion or politics in polite conversation? And in this election cycle it's been a tall order because >>>>> well you know!!!

I write rainbow romance (LGBTQIA LOVE STORIES). My blog is LOVE IS LOVE. My group is called Yaoified Love. It's pretty clear with my Pride Marches, PFLAG Meetings and Transgender Rallies where I stand on the issues. It wouldn't surprise my readers, my Pretties or my friends to find I who I'd will be voting for...

Z. Allora (& my truest self) is first and foremost an advocate of the rainbow. That is my priority and that's why I write happily ever afters for people on the rainbow.

That being said I don't attack or trash folks with a different political views. Though I will send hearts & like/love posts I agree with on Facebook. I have PMed folks or chatted offline to understand why or how they can support something or someone I can't to help my understanding of their world view.

I've seen folks upset that publishers have recommended authors not discuss their political viewpoint (or attack) because it harms sales...

Psst, it can and if you're writing to make money pay attention to publishers & what could negatively impact your bottomline.

Authors bleed onto the page... sometimes some of what we seep is our personal beliefs (religious, political, ideas on love, marriage, sex, our worldview, etc). We can only write through our filters. We can be aware of them so they affect our stories less but they are there. So even if we try to hide or de-emphasize our politic views they may find their way onto our pages in our characters values & views.

It is my hope that we are kind to each other. When we speak I hope it's to educate and not devalue. I think by increasing our understanding we build a more accepting world.

Big hugs, Z.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sex Machine Museum in Prague NOT WORK SAFE

Tucked away in one of the many touristy alleys of shops and restaurants is Prague's Sex Machine Museum. Here you can see early vibrators (developed by a doctor to save his wrist while treating female hysteria), various penis-shaped machines, and even two erotic dollhouses.

Earlier vibrators

Allowing you to masturbate while looking at your lover

There were lots of devices that allowed hands-free penetration
Shoes that fit into vagina stir-ups
Mask with removable nose
Various fetishes were on display (Someone's head can be inserted while someone sits...)
Urination sticks (one carries as a cane)
Erotic dollhouse
Erotic dollhouse
Sex gown so you didn't touch where it wasn't necessary  

May you have the pleasure of visiting a sex museum in your travels.

Hugs, Z.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pokémon WHAT?

Pokémon GO!!!! 

Maybe you haven't noticed hordes of people with their heads down staring at their phones occasionally saying GOTCHA!

If you have noticed you may have rolled your eyes and thought IDIOTS!

You might be right but I have to say it gets me out of the house. I've been to Heidelberg Germany no less than 20 times in the past year & a half... but last week I took Pokémon Go with me and I saw things I never noticed. PokéStops (are where you go to get ball in which to capture the adorable creatures to store them) are based on area points of interest. 
Heidelberg Demon

Without Pokémon Go I missed these gorgeous pieces of history and art.

So laugh if you will... Pokémon Go ROCKS.
I adore going on hunting dates with my love searching for Pokémon.

So you might look into it!!!

It also made me think about which of my characters would be into Pokémon Go. Randy Camster & Boon-nam (Illusions & Dreams) (Their love's Jake & Lalana would be indulgent but definitely find common ground over totally not getting the craziness!)

Jordon Davis (Lock & Key) would be all about the hunt... though would get lost painting a Pokéstop for his future husband >>> whom he doesn't know yet.

The Dark Angels: Angel, Dare, Robin & Josh are definitely into the hunt... they've turned it into part of their band bonding rituals (which their manager is happy because it's drier than water blaster fights). Dusty would be begrudging get into it for the guys but secretly loves hunting with his Justin.

Lafayette, Storm, Alex, Kai and Corey from Club Zombie would be Pokémon masters of the group. Ulrich, Cutter and Jasper wouldn't quite get it but would applaud for each capture.
Hugs, Z.