Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Hit F/F, F/F/M Wonders

video

Waring: music plays on this slide show

The other day I finished a book that really I enjoyed and like many before it, I went looking for the author’s backlist to see if she/he had written some more f/f. Outside of authors who specifically write to the lesbian audience or write erotica, in all cases the one book I read was the author’s one and only f/f, f/f/m book. *sigh*

I can’t tell you how disappointing this is to me every time. So many authors actually hit the mark and write really nice f/f stories but then stop after that one book. And what’s most interesting is that many times it was an author’s earlier or first book.

This tells me that authors are interested in writing it for themselves or in general, but due to unpopularity, lack of sales, fear of being associated with the genre or whatever the reason, they stop after that one book.

I understand that authors need to make money in order to continue writing and I don’t begrudge them that. But when I read a good f/f, f/f/m story, I want more, and from that author. Selfish of me? Yes. I’m starving for good f/f and authors who write good ones are far and few between.

There are some authors out there like Jenna Byrnes who manage to keep writing f/f in between their m/f and m/m’s even with a crappy f/f market, so it can be done. And then there’s Kirsten Saell of course who is willing to keep writing it out right, which I can’t get enough of and appreciate.

Maybe one day this situation will be different. I hope so. And I hope authors who have written it will take a chance and write it again at some point.

Authors:

1. If you’ve written a f/f and stopped at one, do you ever think about doing another?

2. If you’ve thought about or wish to write a f/f and haven’t, what are the reasons why wouldn’t consider it?

3. If f/f was a more popular or viable genre, would you consider writing f/f?

Readers:

1. When you read a good f/f, f/f/m do you check out the author’s backlist for more f/f, f/f/m and if you don’t find it are you disappointed?

Or are you OK with the f/f that was in a book but don’t bother about looking for more?

2. Ashamed to say because I don’t, but if you read a good f/f and find the author’s back list full of m/f or m/m do you also buy some of those?

2. Have you ever asked an author if they will be writing more f/f, f/f/m?

3. Have you ever asked a publisher to offer more f/f, f/f/m?

18 comments:

Cathy in AK said...

As a writer just starting out in the world of f/f fiction, this is an interesting post. I've written only the one f/f story (peddling it as we speak) and am currently working on a m/f story in the same universe, but the third idea I have for the world is another f/f. A higher potential for salability is part of the reason for the m/f, but mostly it's the next story that came to mind. But I still have a strong desire to write the other f/f story. You can't keep a good woman--or a couple of good women--down ; ) And I oh, so want the f/f market to open more, especially for the non-erotic cuz mine isn't erotic. Sensual? Maybe, but not erotic.

I don't want to be a one-time only f/f author. I don't want to be a one-time only ANYTHING author : )

As a reader, I go looking for more of the same types of stories by authors I like, but partnership permutations isn't necessarily at the top of my reasons to buy list. I've never asked a publisher to publish more f/f stories, because it would seem sort of self-serving, yes? "Dear Publisher, Please put out more f/f. Like the one I happen to have one right here on my computer! Wanna see it?" : )

kirsten saell said...

I write across the board, and I'll admit that a lot of it is or contains f/f(/m). I suppose I have enough m/f stories started that I could move them to the top of the pile if I were in this only for the money, but it really is about what story seems ripest in my head at any given time. And because I have a soft spot for f/f/m, those stories call to me more loudly and persistently than the others.

I'll admit, there was an element of the self-serving in making my next release an m/m/f--although I wouldn't have ever forced myself to write it. Again, the characters demanded a story, and I kind of said, "Hey, if it sells like whoa and like damn, maybe some of those readers will give Crossing Swords a try, and maybe some of them will like the incidental f/f in that enough to give my others a go, and maybe the whole f/f/(/m) genre will gain some readers."

But many authors will just go where the money is, and I can't really blame them. I'll keep plugging away as I am because I'm contrary that way, and because I honestly believe the market will even out between subgenres.

As for backlists--I write and read across the board, although I prefer m/m/f to m/m (it's nice if there's a woman in there somewhere, and not just as window dressing or the spurned also-ran in a m-m-f love triangle). If I love an author's work, gender/orientation has little enough to do with that. But yes, it does disappoint when I find one who's particularly good at f/f/m, like Michele deLully, who's other books are m/f. They're wonderful (I've read them, and damn), but I do find myself wishing she'd write another f/f/m. Because La Bonne? DAMN.

MB (Leah) said...

Cathy- first, I hope your story gets picked up. :)

I can understand from both you and Kirsten that the story is what's important and less about oh I must write a certain genre.

I guess I kind of assume that when an author writes a f/f that they are open to it as opposed to many authors who will only write m/f, or m/m or variations of that in menage.

As for asking authors, I asked an author once whose back list is all m/f or menage m/f/m and who has a special site devoted to f/f if she will write more f/f and got no answer.

And I did mention on a Samhain questionnaire that I wished for more f/f, but never wrote directly to a pub.

One thing interesting for me is that if I find a great f/f book I'm reluctant to buy that author's m/f or m/m although if I really like them, I will.

On the other hand, if I've read an author's m/f or m/m that I've loved, I would definitely buy their f/f. Reverse prejudice I guess.

I think for me it's that there are so many m/m, m/f authors whom I love already that trying out new ones in those genres aren't that appealing. Whereas, there's so few f/f, f/f/m that I'm always willing to go out on a limb to try a new author.

And Kirsten, about Michele de Lully, *sigh* I wish so bad that she'd do another.

MB (Leah) said...

And I oh, so want the f/f market to open more, especially for the non-erotic cuz mine isn't erotic. Sensual? Maybe, but not erotic.

I forgot to mention this but a few of the authors I've read are non-erotic. Mostly they are lesbian oriented stories though.

I think it's very possible to create sexual heat and romantic tension without any sex. For me anyway. It's the passion (not necessarily sex) going on between the characters that makes a story really good.

Cathy in AK said...

I'll admit, there was an element of the self-serving in making my next release an m/m/f--although I wouldn't have ever forced myself to write it.

I don't think an author really can force themselves to write in a genre or even a particular scene if they feel it's forced. You're comfortable straddling the lines, Kirsten, which works for you as an author and for your readership as well.

I guess I kind of assume that when an author writes a f/f that they are open to it as opposed to many authors who will only write m/f, or m/m or variations of that in menage.

I wonder if those who wrote their single f/f did so and just decided it wasn't really for them, for whatever reason. I'll admit, I have not inclination at this time to write m/m. I've read a little of it, but writing it doesn't appeal to me. Am I cutting myself off from a potential route to publication? Maybe, but it goes with Kirsten's staement above. You can't force it.

And thanks, Leah, I hope my story gets picked up too ; )

Ver word: exterww. Why yes, I would like some exter w/w. kthnx

Cathy in AK said...

I think it's very possible to create sexual heat and romantic tension without any sex. For me anyway. It's the passion (not necessarily sex) going on between the characters that makes a story really good.

Me too, Leah, but I think sometimes there is an assumption that if it's same sex tension it's going to be erotic romance or or erotica or whatever. I'm mostly coming at this from an unpubbed view where I was looking to enter a contest or two and not have to stack my non-erotic story against all out erotics just because I have two girls smooching : ) But once I start hitting up the proper editors I'm sure I'll find this isn't the case.

MB (Leah) said...

I wonder if those who wrote their single f/f did so and just decided it wasn't really for them, for whatever reason. I'll admit, I have not inclination at this time to write m/m.

I guess for me, if I were a writer, I don't think I could write something that didn't excite me or turn me on in some way. And I don't mean sexually exactly.

I don't like BDSM generally, so while I'll read it here and there, I would never write it.

So part of me assumes that these authors had some kind of interest in it or were curious enough to write a f/f to sit down and spend hours working on it and go through that whole process, which is a lot of work. Many of them were first books and now they are writing strictly m/m.

but I think sometimes there is an assumption that if it's same sex tension it's going to be erotic romance or or erotica or whatever.

I think you are right there and I don't know why. I guess because same sex is still considered a sexual "kink" by mainstream and therefore it's lumped in with all sexual kinks.

I don't think that way and some coming out stories that turned me on were some that I saw as a teen in a movie or a little kiss scene in a book or whatever, but not romance at any rate. So same sex relationships can be done in other genres and still be very interesting and a turn on.

M. A. said...

Hi everyone. Hope you're all having a great weekend!

If you’ve written a f/f and stopped at one, do you ever think about doing another?


I've coauthored several f/f and f/f/m stories though only one's been published. I definitely come up with ideas for others. I'm so bogged down with pending projects and school I'm not going to start anything new until I get some of the pending work off my desktop.

If you’ve thought about or wish to write a f/f and haven’t, what are the reasons why wouldn’t consider it?


It was my coauthor's idea for us to write our first f/f novella. I was pretty skeptical. I feared not portraying the "real" lesbian/bisexual experience and being despised by readers more than anything else. How could a straight woman write convincingly about lesbian romance? LOL, a lesbian friend read the manuscript for "The Garden House" before I surrendered it to the publisher and assured me the quality was good so I felt better about it then.

If f/f was a more popular or viable genre, would you consider writing f/f?


Obviously the market has to be taken into consideration. I want to complete my historical romance of a f/f/m menage, but will someone publish it? Neither historicals nor f/f/m are popular markets. I'm honestly not as concerned by sales and popularity as I am about finding publishing.

At the same time, all authors want their books to be read and loved (or at least liked.)

It was a slap in the face when "The Garden House" was released and many reviewers gave it a good (above average or superior) review, but there always seemed to be this apologetic qualifier implicit in the reviews (i.e. "This is a great read even though it's f/f." It's the equivalent of racism when people define respectable black Americans as "one of the good ones." They think they're being complimentary when it's really so insulting.

M. A. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
M. A. said...

So part of me assumes that these authors had some kind of interest in it or were curious enough to write a f/f to sit down and spend hours working on it and go through that whole process, which is a lot of work.

I can only speak for myself but my quirks and impulses concerning what I want to write and how I want to write it is one deep bag of tricks.

When I wrote "The Garden House" with Jackie, I was in a very mournful transitory period in my life. New Orleans was in early recovery from the massive flooding of Hurricane Katrina/Rita. I was born and raised in New Orleans and it was a daily heartbreak to walk or ride around town and see how so many things had changed. It was all so abrupt and often so permanent.

My one source of comfort was riding the streetcar through the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue. There was little flood damage in that area and recovery was fairly swift. The large white "wedding cake house" featured on the book's cover and as a "character" (Leanor's house) in the novella is a real house, reputed to be haunted, and it inspired me.

In a way, it makes sense that Jackie (an afficionado of Mardi Gras and Cajun culture) and I wrote "The Garden House" as a lesbian love story. Both of us were in love with New Orleans and New Orleans is a lady. To understand that, you'd have to visit the city yourself.

The main characters are very allegorical. Clancy is the "foreign native coming home" and Leanor/Belle Madame IS "home" for her.

To Cathy and kisrten: Good luck with your present projects!

MB (Leah) said...

In a way, it makes sense that Jackie (an afficionado of Mardi Gras and Cajun culture) and I wrote "The Garden House" as a lesbian love story. Both of us were in love with New Orleans and New Orleans is a lady. To understand that, you'd have to visit the city yourself.

I find this very interesting. Yes, I can see that all that you went through from Katrina would translate into inspiration for a story. In this instance I get that a f/f story is apropos to what was going on and as a love story to New Orleans.

I feared not portraying the "real" lesbian/bisexual experience and being despised by readers more than anything else. How could a straight woman write convincingly about lesbian romance?

You know I think that could be a bigger issue behind authors not being willing to write f/f. I can see authors easily writing a m/m because they are writing for women, not gay men and therefore don't have to stick within some gay male criteria for authenticity.

Whereas, the biggest audience for f/f are most probably lesbians who know exactly what it's like to love a woman. And even if the many f/f readers are straight women, they would still be able to distinguish between the pr0n for men and a real lesbian romance. I think.

So yeah, that's a harder standard to live up to.

As as reviewer I feel that very much and was going to even post on it. I worry about judging a lesbian story because I don't have experience at it so who am I really? So I can see where an author might have reservations about writing it.

I'm honestly not as concerned by sales and popularity as I am about finding publishing.

At the same time, all authors want their books to be read and loved (or at least liked.)

but there always seemed to be this apologetic qualifier implicit in the reviews (i.e. "This is a great read even though it's f/f."

All of these are obviously very legitimate concerns for an author.

I suspect those are why many authors of only one f/f go on to write only m/m or m/f or both.

Again, I don't blame authors. It's just more a disappointment every time to go and find no more books by and author who wrote a juicy f/f. Mainly because I know they are capable and these good stories are so rare.

kirsten saell said...

but there always seemed to be this apologetic qualifier implicit in the reviews (i.e. "This is a great read even though it's f/f."

Even worse, to my mind, is the fact that when you send your book to a regular review site--or even one that's LGBT but whose reviews are mostly m/m,--you sometimes get some variation of: "While the f/f sex scenes didn't do it for me, I suppose they made sense within the context of the plot."

Then again, I've given my book to another author to have her provide a quote, and she emailed me back to say, "I was kind of uncertain, what with all the f/f scenes, because I've never really read any, but...my husband was certainly happy with the results!"

Much preferable to the "good, despite being f/f" or "good, except for the f/f", heh.

Cathy in AK said...

I feared not portraying the "real" lesbian/bisexual experience and being despised by readers more than anything else. How could a straight woman write convincingly about lesbian romance?

This is my fear also. What the heck do I know about making love to a woman, except on the receiving end? But on the emotional side of the equation, I might have a decent handle on that.

Whereas, the biggest audience for f/f are most probably lesbians who know exactly what it's like to love a woman. And even if the many f/f readers are straight women, they would still be able to distinguish between the pr0n for men and a real lesbian romance. I think.

I hope! : ) I'd absolutely swoon if a lesbian or bi woman read my story and said they liked it and I got it right.

I did some f/f reading by lesbian authors to see if I was even in the ballpark and found myself more drawn into the emotion of the writing. That's what I hope to have come across in my story--the romance more than the physical. But I surely want the love scene to work too ; )

Thanks for the well wishes, M.A. I can use all the help I can get : )

Kirsten: "I suppose they made sense in the context of the plot" ?!? Ya think??

Geez.

MB (Leah) said...

I did some f/f reading by lesbian authors to see if I was even in the ballpark and found myself more drawn into the emotion of the writing.

Actually, this is what mainly works for me as well. I don't quite know how to explain it but there's just a different quality of intimacy and emotional connection in a good f/f story compared to a m/f.

With m/f you get that opposing sex energy going on and it can be really passionate and deep. But there's always that minor little barrier of the differences between the sexes. Don't get me wrong, that's a huge turn on.

In f/f though, there's an ease of intimacy that's different. Like you could slip across the barrier and really be close. But it's only something that I can surmise at the moment since I don't have any real experience except through books.

And one thing I've noticed about f/f is that there's more cuddling and kissing, things women want that men are not so much into or I don't read so much in m/f, and I quite like that.

I can tell you a few authors who manage to get the love and passion between two women but who don't write graphic or erotic sex so much.

Rosalyn Wraight is on author who writes a lesbian detective. I love the relationship dynamics in her books. Very sweet but real.

Jove Belle's Edge of Darkness had a great juicy love story that wasn't graphic.

Nashoba's Hope by Moondancer Drake wasn't graphic but was almost poetic in the love story part.

And Kira Chase's books aren't that graphic or erotic, but can be emotionally intense.

And my new discovery Ann Bannon's books. No sex in them at all but she does capture the romance and emotional aspect of lesbian romance very well.

Cathy in AK said...

Thanks for the author suggestions, Leah. And I'll quit overwhelming your comments now :P

M. A. said...

Even worse, to my mind, is the fact that when you send your book to a regular review site--or even one that's LGBT but whose reviews are mostly m/m,--you sometimes get some variation of: "While the f/f sex scenes didn't do it for me, I suppose they made sense within the context of the plot."


Hey Kirsten!

I empathise with your point. It's bizarre to me how eager reviewers seem to be about denying interest or titillation or whatever in a f/f or f/f/m storyline.

Doesn't part of you just want to e-slap the review and exhort, "Admit it! You loved it!" LOL.

kirsten saell said...

It's bizarre to me how eager reviewers seem to be about denying interest or titillation or whatever in a f/f or f/f/m storyline.

I read an A review of an erotic print novel that had one small f/f scene in it. The review was two short paragraphs, maybe seven or eight sentences altogether, three of which were devoted to something like "The f/f scene, though competently written, didn't work for me. I can imagine if a reader enjoys f/f, they'll certainly like that scene. But f/f isn't my cuppa tea."

Which I translated as "I really liked this book, but I'm not a... a lesbian. I'm not. Not even a little. Honest."

I mean, hey, it's okay to not like it, but devoting a third of your review space to disavowing titillation over a brief f/f scene seems a bit...much.

M. A. said...

Kirsten, we should start reviewing m/m romances and note in each review "Although I did not care for the m/m sex scenes I can appreciate their relevance to the plot. Gay male sex scenes just aren't my cuppa..."

All right, I'm just being devious now, but seriously there might be something to that. Maybe if the M/M romance fandom was made to feel that same awkwardness they'd learn to be more considerate towards other genres.