Blush: Non-het Relationships in the Media

I’m certain that this topic could be discussed in WAY greater detail. A whole dissertation’s worth, in fact. However, I don’t have that kind of time and I’m not getting a PhD afterwards. Feel free to continue the comments.

Story time:

We watched Let it Snow on Netflix a couple weeks ago. (Super cute movie) In this movie, there is a lesbian relationship. I don’t think it’s spoilers to say that the girls kiss at some point during the movie. Our 3 year old daughter was very confused by this kiss. “Where’s the boy?” she kept asking. It took us a few tries to figure out what she was getting at. Apparently we’ve been watching too many Disney movies, because to her, relationships were a boy and a girl. I say were, because as soon as the movie was over, we corrected her. She didn’t believe us. So we pulled out a book that we haven’t read to her in a while (apparently). Promised Land. It’s a typical fairytale romance, with just the one slight change. The romantic leads are two men. She believed us after that, thankfully.

I’m not saying that Disney movies (or any other movie or book) is wrong to portray heterosexual relationships. Go for it.

But I’d like some diversity, please.

I’d like, for once, for a Christmas movie to have two men play the romantic leads. And I DON’T want the movie to be about them “finding themselves” or “coming out to the family” or any other trope.

I want the typical romantic movie. One goes home for Christmas to his family from the big city. Oh look, the guy he had a crush on is still super hot. Hijinks ensue. Due to Christmas magic, they end up together. You know, the Christmas movie we usually get on Hallmark channel.

And I know the perfect book to adapt. Faux Ho Ho, by ‘Nathan Burgoine, has ALL my favourite tropes. They were roommates, check. Fake relationship, check. There was only one bed, check.

So come on, Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime! I know the book was only released yesterday, but why haven’t you made a movie yet??

I want my children to grow up with movies and books that include all types of relationships. Gay, lesbian, poly, ace, you name it, I want it. And please use the same tropes as for the het relationships.

Think of all the new movies you could make!

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Untrained Deception Checks, (or How I Found the Right Voice for Faux Ho Ho) – Guest post by ‘Nathan Burgoine

This summer, I was lucky enough to take part in an all-writer Dungeons & Dragons campaign, alongside some amazing authors. Brandon Crilly was our DM, Marie Bilodeau was our fast-talking, shanty-singing aasimar bard, Evan May played a hysterical bugbear monk of few words (and even less grammar), Kevin Hearne played a grumpy human former-soldier turned ranger, and I rounded out the group with my perceptive—but really honest and trusting—half-elf cleric of the sea goddess. In the middle of a tense scene, where we were pretty sure we were up against a particularly bad foe who was skeptical of our arrival not being a hostile invasion (it was totally a hostile invasion, but we were hoping to convince him to leave without a fight), my wee half-elf tried an untrained deception check.

It went poorly. Or at least, he ended up having to blast the villain with the wrath of his sea-goddess, so it didn’t go as planned. But that’s D&D. You make a plan, the plan falls apart, you throw lightning and thunder around. Repeat.

Over the same time period, I was also working on a holiday-set, fake relationship trope romance novella, and our D&D sessions turned out to help coalesce some facets I was struggling with when it came to my protagonist, Silas. The set-up for Faux Ho Ho is pretty simple: Silas’s family isn’t particularly supportive of him, but they’re in the public eye as a political family, so they take pains to make things look better than they are. He lives in Ottawa, they live in Alberta, allowing him to keep his distance when he can, but at the start of the story, they’re trying to wrangle him back home for Thanksgiving, partly so they can have him included in an event for his eldest brother, a Member of Parliament, keeping the optics of “we support our queer kid” if not the actions. Silas can’t think of a single thing to get out of it, and then his roommate—who his parents don’t know exists—pretends to be his boyfriend, claiming they have plans already with his family for Thanksgiving. This sets into motion a series of further fibs that send Silas and his roommate on a path to a happy-ever-after, albeit one with quite a few hiccoughs on the way.

Now, Silas is an introverted sort, a coder geek and a gaming nerd, and while this is by no means outside of my wheelhouse (I mean, I don’t really code, but otherwise) I was struggling to find the right way to present Silas to the reader. His voice, in early drafts, wasn’t landing right.

Then we had the D&D session with my half-elf’s botched deception check and it struck me. While Silas is staring down his parents on the Skype call, his “boyfriend” behind him, Silas has to lie outright to them if he wants out of the Thanksgiving visit. I slipped into his point of view and wrote:

Okay. He could do this. He’d never put any points into deception in his entire life, but natural twenties happened, right?

And there he was. From that moment on, Silas took shape in my head, and everything started to flow just-so. Before I knew it, writing Silas’s dialog, his reactions, and his thoughts wasn’t just easier, it was fun, and I realized it was the first time I’d written a D&D playing adult as the protagonist of a romance, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’d waited so long. I write queer characters in romance specifically because I want to see people like me with happy endings, but I hadn’t gone that extra step to add this particular flavor of nerdy gamer into the mix.

Dungeons & Dragons became one of the geeky lenses through which Silas viewed the world, and it was a joy to put those references in there. Luckily, my editor also has a history with the game, so I didn’t have to explain too much (and, in fact, some of the editing notes that came back included D&D references in return). Silas and his gaming group even get to play a session in Faux Ho Ho. Silas also dresses up in a Dungeons & Dragons cartoon cosplay outfit at one point (spoiler: he’s Presto).

In short, if it wasn’t for those gaming sessions this summer, and my writer friends who always have my back, I’m not even sure Faux Ho Ho would have made it out of the gate.

As for Silas’s ongoing deception checks to maintain the illusion of him and his “boyfriend” at his sister’s Christmas wedding, and how it all works out with his family and his roommate? Well, if you want to know how that particular campaign turns out, the answer is in Faux Ho Ho. But since Faux Ho Ho is a romance, it’s not a spoiler to say that even though it absolutely doesn’t go to plan, it definitely ends happily.

The Blurb:

Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious—and gorgeous—personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.

Silas’s parents try to browbeat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so tolerant for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.

Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving. And maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.

You can pre-order Faux Ho Ho at the Bold Strokes Books webstore in all e-formats; it will also be available December 10th, 2019, wherever quality LGBT e-books are sold.


‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was “Heart” in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. This began his long love affair with short fiction, which has seen dozens more short stories published, including his first collection Of Echoes Born. Even though short fiction is his favorite, ‘Nathan stepped into novel writing, and his first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Triad Blood and Triad Soul are available now from Bold Strokes Books, as well as his first YA novel, Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks. More novels, novellas, as well as works of short fiction are always under way.

Last Day for Coffee Advent Calendar Pre-orders

Hello Coffee Lovers,

ALL ORDERS MUST ME PLACED BY TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT!!!

Would you or a loved one want 24 bags of coffee for advent? Or would you prefer 12 larger bags?

JenEric Coffee has you covered.

Order Now!

This is a pre-order for our Advent Calendars. Flavours will be picked from our current selection and a few experimental flavours.

Orders will ship mid-November.

Pick up will be available Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition 2019! (November 9-10)

Order Now!

Enjoy!

Éric

Coffee Advent Calendar Pre-orders

Hello Coffee Lovers,

Would you or a loved one want 24 bags of coffee for advent? Or would you prefer 12 larger bags?

JenEric Coffee has you covered.

Order Now!

This is a pre-order for our Advent Calendars. Flavours will be picked from our current selection and a few experimental flavours.

Orders will ship mid-November.

Pick up will be available Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition 2019! (November 9-10)

We will be delivering or shipping any orders received before the 31st of September in mid-October. Any orders received between the 1st and 31st of October will be delivered or shipped in mid-November.

Order Now!

Enjoy!

Éric



Coffee Advent Calendar

Hello Coffee Lovers,

Would you or a loved one want 24 bags of coffee for advent? Or would you prefer 12 larger bags?

JenEric Coffee has you covered.

Order Now!

This is a pre-order for our Advent Calendars. Flavours will be picked from our current selection and a few experimental flavours.

We will be doing 2 waves; the first wave will ship mid-October. The second will ship mid-November.

Pick up will be available at Can*Con 2019 (October 18-20) or Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition 2019! (November 9-10)

We will be delivering or shipping any orders received before the 31st of September in mid-October. Any orders received between the 1st and 31st of October will be delivered or shipped in mid-November.

Order Now!

Enjoy!

Éric

Holiday Confession

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have a deep dark secret… 

Something so embarrassing I’m afraid you’ll all hate me.

I’m sorry.

I simply don’t like A Charlie Brown Christmas.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with it. The characters are mean, the plot is boring, and I find it really preachy, but overall it’s just not all that good.

I understand why some might have loads of nostalgia attached to it, but it’s just not my thing.

What do you think about it?
Éric

Tired but alive

Hello,

So the toddler Dragon got a post-con cold last week and I have been fighting off the same thing on top of one of the worst cases of Con fatigue I’ve ever had.

I’m not complaining; the past two events we’ve done were fantastic and I truly appreciate all the kind words and awesomeness that is our business.

I just want a very long nap…

The world is an exhausting place but watching Keladry’s excitement when I unpacked the Christmas stuff last night was wonderful.

I’m off to get some work done

 

Later days,

Éric

Blush: Consent from kids

The last time I talked about consent and kids, I focused on how to teach kids how to ask for consent. This time around, with the holidays here, I want to remind the adults that read this that the children in their lives are not obligated to give hugs or kisses to anyone.

Image from Elise Gravel, a cartoonist.

For example, our daughter is terrified of men with white hair. This includes her great-grandfather, friends of the family, and, of course, Santa Claus.

Although her great-grandfather is getting older, we managed to get a picture of them by having her sit beside him on her father’s knee. It’s not the snuggly picture that we ideally wanted, but it’s a good compromise that lets her know that she has been understood, but still lets us get a picture of them together.

So remember, at holiday parties this year, that just because there is a child involved, does not mean that they are automatically obligated to give you a hug. It doesn’t matter if you’re a super close friend, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or stranger; if the child does not give you a clear indication of consent, don’t touch them!

Our daughter’s consent is uplifted arms, or pro-active climbing onto your lap, in case you come across her this season.

Happy Holidays!


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

The Guardian

What is Christmas without a ghost story?


“Honey, she’s doing it again!” I called out to my husband.

Our five day old daughter had opened her eyes and stopped her vigorous nursing to stare up at seemingly nothing. Milk slowly dripped from me, spreading a wet patch on the pillow underneath her.

She didn’t blink, but abruptly turned her head to stare at another patch of nothing.

A shiver raced down my spine and the hair on my arms stood up in response.

I thought that if a person was standing next to my chair, she would be looking directly into their face.

Just as suddenly, she re-latched and started her hmm-ing of appreciation.

Hmmmmmmm – gulp. Hmmmmmmm – gulp.

She sounded like an old dot-matrix printer, the kind that took four passes to print a single line and had the tear-away sides. I doubted she’d ever get to hear one of those. The next generation of parents wouldn’t associate their child with a printer – that’s probably a good thing, I giggled to myself.

Her eyes opened at the sound, and she stared up at me for a second before focussing on her task again.

My husband appeared in the doorway. She ignored him in favour of eating.

My neck prickled.

What could have distracted her, when a physical human didn’t?

I don’t believe in ghosts, I thought. I knew I was lying to myself. But I know someone who does.

I contacted them the next morning.

“Of course I’ll come visit and snuggle the baby!” they exclaimed.

I didn’t mention my suspicions.

They came over that afternoon, sinking into the well-used couch with a sigh. I passed them the sleeping baby, and she cooed before snuggling into their chest, still asleep.

“Is she always this cuddly?” they whispered, afraid to wake her.

We talked about anything and everything, and as the time for them to leave drew nearer, I got anxious. The baby hadn’t woken, even though we were laughing.

“I think we have a ghost,” I whispered.

Their eyebrows went up. “I haven’t seen any,” they replied.

“She sees them, I think.” I indicated the softly snoring baby.

“If she isn’t afraid, they’re not malicious.” They seemed certain of this. “Keep an eye on her, and I’ll come back another time.”

Every day for the next month, the baby took the time to stare off into space a couple times a day. Most often, it was in her room, next to the nursing chair. Sometimes it was in the living room, behind the couch. Once in our room, at the foot of the bed.

She learned how to smile voluntarily. I watched her smile at empty spaces, and tried to keep the panic at a minimum.

And then it stopped.

She slept less, paid attention to her surroundings more, and I thought that maybe she had been staring at specs of dust. Babies don’t have the greatest vision.

But around Christmas, she let out a tiny squeak and stared into space again, this time for quite a while. I tried to distract her with my breast, but she ignored it completely for at least five minutes, glancing from one spot to another and back.

I contacted my friend immediately. They came over. The baby was awake. They asked to see her room, but there was nothing unusual.

We sat in the living room and played with the baby, until she whipped around and stared beside the couch.

My friend followed her gaze, and gasped, “I see them. Two women.”

My heart in my throat, I looked over at the empty space, seeing nothing. “What do they look like?”

“One is older. Curly grey hair. Rosy red cheeks and a big smile. She’s fairly short, and a bit stout. I think I’ve seen you wear the necklace she’s wearing…thick silver chain? She has a red sweater, and a long kilt in red and green.”

I swallowed hard, tears in my eyes. I tried to speak around the lump in my throat. “That’s my Grannie,” I croaked. I started crying. “She came to meet her great-granddaughter? I miss her so much. Can you tell her that? Does she understand me?”

“She hears you. She put her hand over her heart and is looking right at you.” My friend was crying too. “The other woman is a little younger. Thinning wispy grey hair, small cheeks that pop when she smiles. She’s a bit taller than your Grannie, and much…umm…bigger. She’s wearing a navy blue dress. Her eyes twinkle.”

“My mother-in-law,” I sobbed. “She would have loved her granddaughter. She always wanted a daughter. I miss her too, but not as much as her son does. She’d be so proud of him.”

“She’s nodding and smiling at you. She knows. They’re talking to the baby again. I can’t hear them, only see them, I’m so sorry,” they apologized.

I took a moment, trying to work the words out around the lump in my throat. “Is it normal, not being able to hear them?”

“Quite. I’ve never heard or felt one.”

I got up to get a tissue from the other side of the room. “You need one?” I offered. At the affirmative, I brought the box back over as I sat beside them again. “You’ve never touched a ghost?” I asked, curious. I sniffed and wiped my cheeks.

“No, I haven’t. I’ve never seen a ghost touch a person.” They copied my motions with a tissue of their own, then paused. “Wait. I have, just once. It was a long time ago. A girl was crossing the street, and a car ran a red light. I saw the ghost yank her back out of the way. It was bright daylight, so I wasn’t a hundred percent sure of what I saw, but I think the ghost vanished after saving her life.”

“It’s not exactly like you can conduct an experiment to see for sure.” I gave them a watery smile.

“No, I guess not!” They laughed weakly.

I thanked my friend for both confirming that we were being visited by ghosts, and that they were not only benevolent, but family. “Merry Christmas!” I waved from the doorway as they left the house.

“And Happy New Year!” they called back.

The months flew by. My daughter learned how to crawl, stand, and walk. She babbled at anyone who smiled at her, which made her a joy to bring places.

All too soon, we were getting ready to celebrate another Christmas. We went shopping for presents at a local holiday bazaar, and my husband was carrying her on his shoulders.

What happened next happened faster than your eyes will be able to read this paragraph; my husband bumped into a display of ornaments at the same time as my daughter twisted around to wave at me. He jerked to catch the ornaments, and, her balance thrown off, she launched herself backwards off his shoulders.

I was too far away.

My heart in my mouth, a scream caught in my throat, I watched her tumble headfirst towards the ground. Ghostly hands steadied her fall, tipped her onto her front, and she landed on her stomach, head bouncing a bit on the concrete at the force of impact. My Grannie looked up at me from beside my baby and smiled sadly, blowing me a kiss and waving goodbye before she vanished.

My daughter let out a wild scream, and my legs unfroze, taking me to her side before I had registered the movement.

She was already pulling herself onto her feet, a nasty purple bump swelling on her temple, and buried her face in my neck, sobs shaking her small frame.

My husband, ashen, helped me stand up and led me back to the car to go to the hospital. I knew before we saw the doctor that she would be alright.

Her guardian angel had seen to that, and would visit no longer.

“Thank you for our Christmas miracle,” I whispered.


This story is part of the Renaissance holiday blog roll! Find out what it’s all about here!