Lysistrata Cove has launched

Now for attaining escape velocity!

I’m getting feedback already, some of which is exciting, some of which is absolutely thrilling.

Sally Bend reviewed Lysistrata Cove on her review blog Bending the Bookshelf, and she pinpointed some things I’m truly proud of.

First, who wouldn’t love seeing this:

Honestly, this is one of the most remarkable erotic romances I have had the luxury to enjoy in quite some time. There is a lot going on, both on an emotional and an intellectual level, but it all meshes together in a queer, kinky, seamless fashion.

Second, I was worried that this part wouldn’t translate, so this got a full fist-pump:

…what Eve is after is a really fascinating idea, and one that is sure to make readers think about creative freedoms, copyright laws, and piracy.

Yes!

Lysistrata Cove is also mentioned in The Pleasure Lab podcast #22. It’s about a third of the way through and is more about my lifestyle (sailory, not sexuality) that my writing, though I get good props there too.

All right, Lysistrata Cove – go, be free! Fly into many many hands!

Publishers Weekly: Heart of the Lilikoʻi is “strong and satisfying”

With almost a month yet to go before Heart of the Lilikoʻi becomes widely available, Publishers Weekly has weighed in on the book and found it good. The online review is not yet available [Update: Publishers Weekly reviews Heart of the Liliko’i], but the print edition has this to say:

Hankins (Blue Water Dreams) tackles weighty political and personal subjects in this intriguing contemporary. Kerala is the construction project manager on an experimental, environmentally-conscious vacation home, and comes under increasing pressure as progress is delayed by sabotage and threats. She’s usually only interested in women, so she’s surprised to fall for the home’s financial backer, Ravi, who’s transmasculine and genderqueer. The two suss out the boundaries of their newfound relationship as they get to the heart of the project’s troubles, but everything is further disrupted when they discover a corpse on the property. Hankins constructs a heartfelt relationship between her leads. Mutual lust and the contrast between the no-nonsense Kerala and starry-eyed Ravi lead to some intensely vivid erotic encounters. In constructing artificial-sounding dialogues about Hawaiian independence, green technology, and nonbinary gender, Hankins borders on the preachy, but the core romantic story is strong and satisfying.

While not without its caveats, this review thrills me. The most important part of a romance is the growth of interest, respect, and love between the leads (which, by the way, is a great way to pare down the clunky phrase “main characters”). And as I’ve said before, I believe that we reveal more than our bodies through sexual intimacy. I’m so glad that the reviewer saw that the character of these people was so crucial to the sex they had.

Favorite bits:

“intriguing contemporary”

“a heartfelt relationship”

“intensely vivid erotic encounters”

“strong and satisfying”

WIP Wednesday

I’ve recently found the Facebook phenomenon called Binders.  The Binders Full of Women Writers and the spin-off groups for subcategories like romance, travel, and “rainbow” writers are active, vibrant communities of women sharing their successes and spreading word of opportunities.

The romance binder has organized a Work in Progress (WIP) Wednesday.  I imagine the intent was less transparent than this post, but being new to the binders makes me want to show some appreciation for these women and their willingness to support one another.  I’ve gotten new Twitter followers from the binders already, and now I’m hoping to see some new traffic on this site.

With that background established, I’ll move on to the actual purpose of the post.  Heart of the Lilikoi comes out October 13th and I’ll debut it at the Provincetown Women’s Week in Massachusetts.  It is still my work in progress, though I’ve sent it to my Bold Strokes Books editor and my Hawaiian-language editor.

Romantic suspense is a new subgenre for me and I found it both fun and tough to write.  Fun in that I was able to explore human motivation in all its aspects, not just the romantic.  Tough in that I have a hard time getting into the heads of characters I don’t like.  Living with these people for such a long time, living in Hawaii with them and shaping their reality with my words, tested my determination.  I move often and easily, but I stuck with these folks to the end of the first draft and through subsequent rewrites.  Now that I’ve reached the point where my world is getting outside visitors, I’m looking forward to jumping back in and seeing how I like the place I spent so much time.

Here’s a taste of the beginning.

Kerala circled the plot of land, striding from the black beach cliff to the rough lump of exposed pāhoehoe lava that marked the far edge of the construction site. Salt glistened in the bright, tropical sunlight wherever waves had crashed ashore. The Kona side of the Island of Hawai’i didn’t get enough rain to wash it away.

She mounted the hill and turned to look back at the marker flags and check their positions. The litany of what’s-next flowed inexorably in her thoughts, but her eyes focused on the job at hand. She took a step to the left.

The hill disintegrated under her boots.

Surfing the lava-rock wave, Kerala dropped ten feet in an instant and thought, oh, shit.

Near the bottom, her feet scraped against the flattening slope and she crumpled, curling and dropping a shoulder faster than thought. She and the rubble hit the bottom of the grade and she rolled until she cleared the falling debris.

Momentum spent, she lay on her side and kept her arms around her head for a moment, listening to the ground. Adrenaline sharpened her senses. Tender, tough greenery lay smashed under her. Its freshness complicated the smells of saltwater, dirt, and sun-heated lava rock. She listened closely, tensed to move, but only small spills continued from the top of the new slope. When she confirmed she wouldn’t be buried under another rock fall, she rolled onto her back and stretched out flat. She opened her eyes gingerly and blinked into the tropical sun, feeling along her bones and muscles from the inside. No real injury.

A burst of fury propelled her to her feet.

Shouts and commotion from the top of the hill cascaded toward her as several men slid-fell to where she stood. By the time they reached her, she had checked the newly exposed rock for clues on why the grade had given way. She would hurt like a bitch later, but she’d use the adrenaline high while it lasted.

When the crew supervisor, Jack Zelinski, stepped forward, he did so with all the care of a handler feeding a tiger.

“Quite Inventive Sexually” ALA Reviews Blue Water Dreams

I always go for the sexual references.  Not that this is news to me or anyone who’s been friends with/followed/slept with me over the years.

The American Library Association has a sub-group called the GLBT Round Table, which has published a review of Blue Water Dreams.  Its tone reminds me strongly of the librarian in Moses Lake, where I went to high school.  She took her job seriously and gauged each book almost dispassionately.  The same tone is clear in the review, even with multiple references to sexy-times.

The reviewer finds it “refreshing to read a love story where there is no jealous triangle” and notes that Lania and Oly are both “fairly free of hang-ups” (which made me smile).

The wrap-up has the tone that I referenced above.  It’s so wonderfully librarianish that I’m going to quote the whole last paragraph.

Blue Water Dreams falls well within the expectations of the romance genre, albeit with an atypical male lead. It may appeal to romance readers who are willing to try something a little different. It may also find a readership among trans men for the ways it affirms their sexuality and desirability.

All Quiet Down the Coast

Olympia and Portland were quiet events.  It’s occurred to me that the most successful events so far have been those where I go to someone else’s regularly scheduled meeting and we discuss the book.  Check!

Orca Books in Olympia was a Sunday event, which they warned me almost guaranteed a low turn-out.  It was the only day that worked, though, so we went through with it.  Sold some books, met some great people!

I love reading aloud, so that was fun.  And listening to the pieces by (in order according to the photo above) David Holly, Jeffrey Ricker, and Eric Andrews-Katz was a gas.

To be perfectly honest, Portland was a bust.  The feminist bookstore that was hosting my workshop has been having troubles of the might-have-to-close kind, and my Facebook event was on Eastern time rather than Pacific, meaning that everyone thought it was in the middle of the workday instead of early evening.  Le sigh.

On the other hand, I had a tremendously enjoyable and very necessary meal at an Ethiopian buffet that recharged my magnets.  And I stayed with an amazing woman I would probably never have met.  Thanks, Markie!

Plus, the great coffee continued.

PortlandCoffee

Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up in Seattle

My GRNW experience was great, worthwhile, and valuable, but slightly overshadowed by the emotional impact of coming home to a place that has both changed and stayed the same.

First, the conference or meet-up.

The first author-centered panel went quickly.  Only 45 minutes long and I started to realize how very little we would get to say in the next one.  I was a panelist on the Writing Diverse Characters panel and we could have gone for hours.  Firstly, because the topic is broad and deep and necessary.  Secondly, because the other panelists were bright and thoughtful and had tons of valuable insight into the needs of writers and readers in bringing intersecting oppressions to the table when planning a book.

As a genre that has some diversity by default – mainstream books don’t feature a lot of queer characters – we all agreed that it isn’t enough.  That was our starting point.

From there, we immediately talked about ways of writing outside our personal experiences of color, gender, ability, etc.  The author-attendees had great questions and the moderator, Marites Mendoza, didn’t even begin to get through the prepared questions.  As I said, we could have gone on for a long, long time.

Pearl Love (who doesn’t keep her blog up to date, but has a Goodreads Author Profile that can get you to her books) is smart, sensible, and well-spoken.  She was on later panels as well and should be considered by anyone looking to book panelists who can speak to writing both outside their personal experience (as a female M/M writer) and within personal marginalized experience (as a person of color).

Alex Powell (who does update her blog) was also a font of good advice.  She has a lot of intersecting identities that aren’t usually featured in books, so she could speak to what it feels like not to read yourself and how much value there is in finding characters even remotely like you.

Panel

Pearl is fourth from the left and Alex is last on the right.  This is from a later panel.

Heidi Belleau (midrange on the blog updating) did a great job helping everyone understand that intimidation is not a good reason to avoid diversity in your writing.

I hope to see more of them all as I keep making the rounds.

One particular point I brought up was about knowing more than you think.  While the old saw goes write what you know, it’s also important to recognize that we also tend to write what we’re comfortable with.  It’s true that most white people have mostly white friends, but it’s a rare person indeed who doesn’t know any people of color.  Pay more attention in your real life and you’ll find that diversity is all around you.  Learn from it, and get help making sure you’re hitting the right notes.

BookFair

The book fair went…fair.  I had some great conversations, but didn’t sell a ton of books.  Oh well.  Sitting next to Ginn Hale was a gift.  She was warm and encouraging…and she’s the first person on my mailing list for Shriving, the science fiction manuscript I’m working on between romance books.

GoodCompany

And the rest of the trip was strange and nostalgic.

Mama’s.  An important location in Blue Water Dreams.

Mamas

The loft, crucial to Oly’s life.

Loft

The falafel shop where Oly tells Lania about his youth.

AladdinFalafel

But then there were the purely personal ones.  The madrona trees all over town.  I have a madrona backpiece tattoo so I could take home with me when I left.

Madrona

Also, a place I used to get lentil soup for a dollar – all I could afford for lunch at that point in my life – and do the homework I’d allowed to pile up.  I worked full time during college and took a full load the whole time.  It’s a good thing I went for an English degree.  I wrote so many of my assignments the morning they were due.

LentilSoup

And, once again, what’s a visit to Seattle without excellent coffee?

Vivace

GASS Gets Hot

My first event promoting Blue Water Dreams was a visit to the Gender Alliance of the South Sound (GASS). This is a vibrant, engaged group of trans* folk (though some would use other language) who welcomed me warmly. As I said in my previous post, I stayed with the group facilitators and they brought me to the meeting. People were already waiting, a half hour early, and kept streaming in until well after the start time. Almost 30 people were present by the time they gave me the floor.

I had thought I would have more time read than I ended up having, and cherry picked the excerpts that introduce the characters and give you a good sense of the book.  I enjoy reading sex scenes, so I did one of those…and it struck me in the middle that I was reading a cis woman and trans man having sex to a group that was almost completely trans feminine.  It really made the clit and wet and breast language stand out for me.  I could only hope that it would work for the listeners.

They certainly appeared rapt.  Many closed their eyes, facial clues reassuring me that they weren’t napping.  Others shifted in their chairs.  It can be hard to pinpoint the difference between the discomfort of some people in hearing explicit sex read aloud and the discomfort of listening to a type of sex that they don’t (but perhaps would like to) have.

The feedback between readings was slow but honest.  The group was big enough that I would have called on people to talk, had I know enough about them to be sure I wouldn’t make them uncomfortable.  It was like a big classroom!

The lone trans man in the group spoke up after I read a sex scene and expressed his feelings about hearing Oly’s experience of his body and sharing it with another person.  He has more gender dysphoria than Oly experiences and it made him envious.  Also, though, he was uncomfortable with the possibility that people may assume that Oly’s body image and way of relating to Lania (his sex partner and the co-star of the book) was somehow representational of the trans male experience.

I was so glad he brought this up.  I never thought that Oly would be “The Trans Man” or that his experiences and body image would represent any wide swathe of the trans experience (a far more various than homogenous thing in reality, though so often depicted in simplified fashions).  Oly is a particular person and when I wrote him doing, being, reacting, I questioned only what was realistic for him to do…not what a trans man would do.

My opportunity to specify this brought more people into the discussion.  We talked a bit about the dearth of positive, fun trans stories and how I’m hoping I’ve provided one.  I know that it’s necessary to have serious works dealing with the hardships and roadblocks common in trans lives, written by trans people or with such intimate knowledge that many people can see themselves and their own difficulties.

I also believe that it’s valuable to write stories where things go just a bit better than they usually do in real life.  Where a trans person is living without suffering for being trans, where the conflicts and challenges come from other spheres.  Books like this, books like mine, can emphasize the whole person, which includes a trans history or identity but is not defined solely by that.

What a wonderful opportunity to talk and think.  I learned a lot about my story and about the people who may read it.  I hope that those who purchased a copy read and enjoyed it!

San Francisco welcomes book tour at Good Vibrations

Dena Hankins will be at Good Vibrations, in the Antique Vibrator Museum, for a group reading September 29th and an erotica reading workshop September 30th.  She is touring the Pacific Northwest to promote her queer/trans* romance, Blue Water Dreams, published by Bold Strokes Books and available through major distributors.  The tour mixes readings, discussions, erotica reading workshops, and visits to groups for transgender people and their allies.

Publishers Weekly says this about Blue Water Dreams:  “Seattleites Lania Marchiol, a cisgender woman, and Oly Rasmussen, a transgender man, meet by chance and quickly bond over shared interests…and when Lania and Oly set their differences aside and embrace their sexual chemistry, the scenes are graceful, sure, and spicy.”

Good Vibrations Polk, 1620 Polk St, San Francisco, CA
http://www.goodvibes.com/content.jhtml?id=New-Polk-Good-Vibes-Events

9/29/14, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Queer Prism: Readings by Eric Andrews-Katz, Dale Chase, Dena Hankins, Clifford Henderson, Kathleen Knowles, and Felice Picano
Smut, humor, memoir, romance, intrigue, and outlaws—queer fiction runs the gamut.  This tasting menu of characters will make you laugh, cry, and squirm in the most delicious ways.

9/30/14, 6:30pm-8:30pm
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/845246
Open Windows: Look Inside with Erotica—Fantasy or exactly what you did last night, words add power and excitement to sex. Erotica and romance writer Dena Hankins will ask which words turn you on, and whether you want to try what you just read about. Let’s talk hot language, exploring new ideas, and sharing stories with your lovers.

Good Vibrations has been creating a buzz since 1977.  They’ve been trusted for over three decades to provide high quality products, education, and information that promotes sexual health, pleasure, and empowerment. Having invented the concept of the clean, well-lighted vibrator store, they’re proud to provide a safe and welcoming environment where customers can shop for sex toys, books, movies, and attend workshops.

Other stops in the tour include the Gender Alliance of the South Sound in Tacoma, WA, The Art of Loving in Vancouver, BC, the Gender Justice League and Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up in Seattle, WA, Orca Books in Olympia, WA, and the In Other Words Feminist Community Center in Portland, OR.

“I love these people,” says Dena.  “The characters in this queer/trans* romance are fierce, passionate folks struggling to balance magnetism and self-sufficiency, trying to love all the way to the core without losing themselves in the process.  You will be rooting for them to get it on and fall for each other.  I hope you read the book and fall for them too.”

Dena Hankins writes aboard her boat, wherever she has sailed it.  After eight years as a sex educator, she turned to writing dirty tales with far-flung settings and a queer/trans* romance novel, Blue Water Dreams.  Read more: www.denahankins.net.

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Portland, OR, stop for book tour at In Other Words Feminist Community Center

Dena Hankins will lead a workshop on reading erotica at the In Other Words Feminist Community Center on September 23rd, 2014.  She is touring the Pacific Northwest to promote her queer/trans* romance, Blue Water Dreams, published by Bold Strokes Books and available through major distributors.  The tour mixes readings, discussions, erotica reading workshops, and visits to groups for transgender people and their allies.

Publishers Weekly has this to say about Blue Water Dreams:  “Seattleites Lania Marchiol, a cisgender woman, and Oly Rasmussen, a transgender man, meet by chance and quickly bond over shared interests…and when Lania and Oly set their differences aside and embrace their sexual chemistry, the scenes are graceful, sure, and spicy.”

September 23, 2014, 6pm-8pm
In Other Words Feminist Community Center, 14 NE Killingsworth Street, Portland, OR
http://inotherwords.org/events
https://www.facebook.com/events/710153919056947

Open Windows: Look Inside with Erotica—Fantasy or exactly what you did last night, words add power and excitement to sex. Erotica and romance writer Dena Hankins will ask which words turn you on, and whether you want to try what you just read about. Let’s talk hot language, exploring new ideas, and sharing stories with your lovers.

In Other Words is a non-profit, volunteer-run, feminist community center in Portland, Oregon. Their mission is to support, enrich, and empower the feminist community through literature, art, and educational and cultural events. They have a storefront that serves as a book store, a lending library, and a venue for feminist events.

Other stops in the tour include the Gender Alliance of the South Sound in Tacoma, WA, The Art of Loving in Vancouver, BC, the Gender Justice League and Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up in Seattle, WA, Orca Books in Olympia, WA, and two events at Good Vibrations in San Francisco, CA, at their Polk Street location.

“I love these people,” says Dena.  “The characters in this queer/trans* romance are fierce, passionate folks struggling to balance magnetism and self-sufficiency, trying to love all the way to the core without losing themselves in the process.  You will be rooting for them to get it on and fall for each other.  I hope you read the book and fall for them too.”

Dena Hankins writes aboard her boat, wherever she has sailed it.  After eight years as a sex educator, she turned to writing dirty tales with far-flung settings and a queer/trans* romance novel, Blue Water Dreams.  Read more: www.denahankins.net.

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Olympia, WA, Stop for Book Tour – Orca Books

Dena Hankins will visit Orca Books for a reading with Eric Andrews-Katz, David Holly, and Jeffrey Ricker.  She is touring the Pacific Northwest to promote her queer/trans* romance, Blue Water Dreams, published by Bold Strokes Books and available through major distributors.  The tour mixes readings, discussions, erotica reading workshops, and visits to groups for transgender people and their allies.

Publishers Weekly has this to say about Blue Water Dreams:  “Seattleites Lania Marchiol, a cisgender woman, and Oly Rasmussen, a transgender man, meet by chance and quickly bond over shared interests…and when Lania and Oly set their differences aside and embrace their sexual chemistry, the scenes are graceful, sure, and spicy.”

September 21, 2014, 3pm-5pm
Orca Books, 509 4th Ave E, Olympia, WA
http://www.orcabooks.com/event/bold-strokes-lgbtq-fiction
https://www.facebook.com/events/448702635270216

Orca Books is the largest independent bookstore in Olympia, Washington, located in the heart of downtown’s vibrant shopping district. They stock new and used books, cards, and journals, and are proud to carry many locally-produced items by Olympia artists and craftspeople. They also offer coffee and tea from Olympia Roasting Company.

Other stops in the tour include the Gender Alliance of the South Sound in Tacoma, WA, The Art of Loving in Vancouver, BC, the Gender Justice League and Gay Romance Northwest Meet-up in Seattle, WA, In Other Words Feminist Community Center in Portland, OR, and two events at Good Vibrations in San Francisco, CA, at their Polk Street location.

“I love these people,” says Dena.  “The characters in this queer/trans* romance are fierce, passionate folks struggling to balance magnetism and self-sufficiency, trying to love all the way to the core without losing themselves in the process.  You will be rooting for them to get it on and fall for each other.  I hope you read the book and fall for them too.”

Dena Hankins writes aboard her boat, wherever she has sailed it.  After eight years as a sex educator, she turned to writing dirty tales with far-flung settings and a queer/trans* romance novel, Blue Water Dreams.  Read more: www.denahankins.net.

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