Bold Strokes Books

I hate for people to think I am purposefully ignoring them. I hear readers asking for F/F Romance and I know there is mucho Lesbian Lit out there available when I hit the shelves of the gay bookstores it’s just that much like Gay Lit most of the publishers are shall we say slow and seem to have not caught the eBook wagon or are just not interested.

So, I was rooting around in several GBLT (*Teddy Pig Trademark and extra mayo please!) bookstore sites and ran into this place which looks to me like an ePublisher the way they are supporting the eBook in their offerings.

So if you are looking for F/F Romance go for it and let me know what their quality is like.

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"Bold Strokes Books: F/F Romance" by TeddyPig was published on July 11th, 2009 and is listed in Lesbian Romance.

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Comments on "Bold Strokes Books: F/F Romance": 95 Comments

  1. MB (Leah) wrote,

    Bold Strokes has some good authors (most of the well known authors of lesbian fiction), with good quality writing. However, I don’t think they are really an epub. They offer some of their books in ebook, but the prices are almost the same as their paper, around $12, which is ridiculous to me. And, I think they only have three formats: pdf, mobi, sony.

    As for readers of f/f, if you like straight up lesbian stories/romance that are about the lesbian lifestyle, then these books are very good.

    But just for the record, amongst us who like to read f/f, there’s a huge difference between f/f and lesbian romance.

  2. TeddyPig wrote,

    What? F/F is code for “Lesbian for you” stories or something?

    You know I think the whole M/M is different from Gay books is bull don’t you?

  3. kirsten saell wrote,

    I don’t know if I think the whole f/f:lesbian thing can be equated with the m/m:gay debate, Teddy. There are subtle differences in what I’d define as lesbian romance and f/f romance. Sometimes it’s hard to articulate those differences, but I know them when I read them.

    F/F doesn’t necessarily mean “lesbian for you” (although it can, and I think it’s a trope that works better in f/f, perhaps, than “gay for you” does in m/m, because the dyanmics of attraction and libido are different for women than for men).

    F/F simply means romance/erotica between women who are not necessarily lesbians, or who do not necessarily define themselves as lesbians. It can be anything from “lesbian for you”, “lez-lite” as JenB calls it which is more experimentation, BFFs with benefits, whatever. I know the “bromance”/”gay for you” thing is often sneered at as unrealistic, but for women it isn’t unrealistic at all. The number of women who have always considered themselves straight, who find themselves falling in love with a female friend or coworker (especially in their 40s) would probably surprise you.

    I know I enjoy f/f a lot more than I do lesbian fiction–especially in romance. Despite being bisexual, I don’t identify much with lesbian issues, don’t really relate to lesbian characters (at least, not their lesbianism, if that makes sense), and despite the debacle of my marriage, I haven’t reached the point where I’m interested in a strict vagitarian diet. There are often sexual dynamics in lesbian romance and erotica that I find unappealing–both the butch/femme thing and the egalitarian relationship thing, which may seem contradictory, but there you go.

    The f/f books I want to read most are the ones where sexual orientation doesn’t even enter into it. The characters like sex and are open to love in such a way that gender is immaterial. That’s what I try to write, and I’ve had women readers tell me that one of the things they enjoyed most about my books was the way I dealt with (or didn’t, really) the characters’ orientation.

    I don’t write lesbian romance, I write f/f(/m) romance, among other things. And I know at least one writer of lesbian romance who does NOT want her work described as f/f, because lesbian fiction is more than f/f.

    :)

  4. MB (Leah) wrote,

    Yes, I know that you and most m/m readers don’t distinguish between Gay and m/m. I don’t either. And I think that’s because most m/m is about the gay lifestyle in general.

    Many of us in the romance world screaming for f/f usually mean sexual encounters of a bisexual nature or where there’s a guy in the picture somewhere (f/f/m), or lets just say, a fluidity in sexual attractions to women (gay for you).

    Lesbian fiction books are about the lesbian lifestyle, which doesn’t really appeal to a lot of us who are straight, but who like to read f/f encounters.

    I like reading sexual encounters between women, lesbian, bi or just experimenting, but I don’t want to read about a lifestyle with all that goes with it like Femme/Butch dynamics and so on.

  5. TeddyPig wrote,

    Kirsten,

    Then what she is saying is she simply writes Fiction and does not want to follow the Romance rules that is not a F/F vs Lesbian debate but simply Fiction vs Romance.

    I think sometimes people have no clue what the history of GBLT Lit really is and say things that make absolutely no sense.

  6. kirsten saell wrote,

    No, she very clearly stated that she writes “lesbian romance” not “f/f romance”. She was very resistant to using a slash-tag on her work because she doesn’t feel f/f defines what she writes.

  7. TeddyPig wrote,

    Well, I think these writers having issues over labels like F/F or M/M or Gay or Lesbian are spending way too much time defining their readership and not showing me how they exert this magical control in their writing.

    I am thinking what they are describing has already been done.

    Just read Lesbian Pulp Fiction by Katherine V. Forrest

  8. kirsten saell wrote,

    Let me put it this way. What I think of as lesbian romance is a story about two women falling in love when one or (usually) both of them are lesbians. It may be a story where one of them doesn’t realize she’s a lesbian until she falls in love, but it’s a love story about lesbian(s).

    What about a story about a bisexual woman and a 99% straight woman falling in love? Just because it’s between two women, it’s not lesbian romance because neither of them are lesbians. How about a story where a woman falls for a cross-dressing bisexual woman believing she’s a man, and when she discovers otherwise, she’s still in love and willing to give it a go? That’s more m/f romance than lesbian romance, IMO.

    I have an online buddy who identifies as lesbian, who’s never been able to make a relationship work with another woman and has somehow found herself in a poly relationship with two straight men she loves to death. Yet she still considers herself a lesbian.

    Dude, women are different from men. They can become aroused by erotic material that has NO correlation with their sexual orientation. Just look at the many lesbian readers and writers who are m/m aficionadas. Women who are a 0 on the Kinsey scale can become extremely aroused reading or watching f/f sensual material. They may even fall in romantic love with another woman in spite of their sexual orientation (although those relationships don’t always last long, heh).

    To classify all f/f romantic stories as “lesbian romance”, IMO, is oversimplifying something that is extremely complex. And it’s just not the way female sexuality works.

  9. TeddyPig wrote,

    it’s not lesbian romance because neither of them are lesbians

    Sorry but if but if the sex scene is two women. It’s Lesbian!

    OK… So the dialog is like “How about those Lakers?” after the sex scene I guess.

  10. kirsten saell wrote,

    All semantics aside, there are enormous differences between, in your words, a “lesbian romance” between two lesbians, and one between a heteroflexible woman and a bisexual woman.

    The sex scenes may be “lesbian”, but the dynamics of the relationship and the focus of the story are likely going to be different. It’s kind of a disservice to readers to assume that a reader who likes one type is going to enjoy the other, just because the sex is between two women. And labelling helps readers differentiate between stories they’re likely to enjoy, and ones they aren’t.

    And what about the B in LGBT? If a bi-female romance must have sex scenes that are m/f and f/f, where does monogamy come in? Does every bi romance have to be poly or menage?

  11. kirsten saell wrote,

    Also, I can see why lesbian writers would not want to have their work associated with f/f. Look at it this way: do you think lesbians would be all gung-ho if we decided to start calling Girls Gone Wild and Lesbo Strap-on Orgy III lesbian erotica?

    Gay men are only now having to deal with the exploitation of their homosexuality for the titillation of straight people. I think that’s why there’s a push now among some to distance “gay romance” from “m/m romance”. F/F has been dealing with this for centuries, and I can totally understand the resistance among writers to classify all girl-on-girl sex as “lesbian”. Doing that equates actual lesbians and their sexual orientation with every f/f sex scene in pornoland.

  12. TeddyPig wrote,

    Well honestly, I think at the heart of even a Menage M/M/F Romance, at least the ones I like, you have to define the M/M relationship clearly as well as the M/F relationship along those separate lines. It’s not just some haphazard pile of limbs. You have to show why the people involved are emotionally involved with those other people.

    The bi simply comes in as defining the literal fact that at least one of the male participants has to be bisexual in an M/M/F Menage Romance right?

    So as I said the writing has to show those mystical dynamics of what is so different between F/F and Lesbian and if it is anything like the whole M/M vs Gay argument in my opinion it is bull.

  13. kirsten saell wrote,

    you have to define the M/M relationship clearly as well as the M/F relationship along those separate lines. It’s not just some haphazard pile of limbs. You have to show why the people involved are emotionally involved with those other people.

    Oh, totally.

    But again, I think more along the lines of slash-tags defining the sex scenes (which makes things so simple and specific, whether it’s f/f or m/f/m or m/m/f or what-have-you). And there’s a big difference between an m/m/f menage romance (which may only include the second m as a cameo character), and an m/m/f poly romance with an HEA for three.

    But I don’t read romance for the sex scenes (or not solely for the sex scenes, heh). I think labelling every book about two women falling in love as “lesbian romance” is kind of like assuming any book with f/f scenes in it (say, my second one, which has f/f scenes, but is a m/f romance) will appeal to lesbians, and a book about two lesbians falling in love will appeal to me. And that’s just not the case.

    And anything that helps readers find the stories they want to read before they spend their money is a good thing.

    And I do think it’s a more sensitive issue with lesbian romance than with gay romance. If lesbian is the term a woman uses to define her sexual orientation and identify herself, she might be really offended to have the f/f scenes in my second book categorized as lesbian. Especially since they’re largely there for the titillation of the hero. Way back when, “lesbian” was a term used to define f/f sensuality. But it’s become more than that. It’s a word people use to define themselves. And because f/f sensuality has been fodder for straight men’s titillation for basically ever, I’m not going to tell a lesbian writer who writes lesbian characters for a lesbian readership that what she writes is the same as the most recent Hustler all-girl orgy pictorial.

  14. TeddyPig wrote,

    Gay men are only now having to deal with the exploitation of their homosexuality for the titillation of straight people.

    Are straight women being exploited by me for my reading and reviewing M/F Romance now?

    I don’t get this idea that Straight Women writing Gay Romance is exploitative since most of my favorite Gay Lit has been written by Straight Women long long before the internet and your argument sounds rather elitist which is alarming to me as a Gay Man.

    I am sorry but Annie Proulx and her Pulitzer Prize and her movie deals are not exploiting me. In fact I don’t think many Gay Writers can touch her talent.

    As a Gay Man I have always felt inclusiveness and respect for talent go farther than insults and suspicion of motives.

  15. TeddyPig wrote,

    And I do think it’s a more sensitive issue with lesbian romance than with gay romance.

    Well I guess I am just an insensitive pig because to me either the story works and makes sense or it does not. Crap writing is crap writing you can’t cover it up with a sub category label change.

  16. kirsten saell wrote,

    I don’t get this idea that Straight Women writing Gay Romance is exploitative since most of my favorite Gay Lit has been written by Straight Women long long before the internet and your argument sounds rather elitist which is alarming to me as a Gay Man.

    Dude, I’m the last person to argue writers should not write what they want. And I’m not arguing that m/m written by women is exploitative, just that some gay men might feel it is, hence the push to distance “gay” from “m/m”, or the reluctance to label all m/m as gay. But here, you’ve said it perfectly:

    I am sorry but Annie Proulx and her Pulitzer Prize and her movie deals are not exploiting me. In fact I don’t think many Gay Writers can touch her talent.

    There’s quite frankly always been a lot of f/f erotic material produced by men for men. And I would guess that most of it would not appeal to (or would actually put off) many lesbians because a lot of it is exploitative. And that doesn’t mean I don’t think that material shouldn’t be produced. Straight guys are entitled to material that indulges their fantasies just like everyone else.

    It’s a fortunate happenstance that women’s fantasies often involve emotional as well as sexual titillation. They don’t just want to see two dudes who might as well be blow-up dolls get all up in each other’s junk. When you’re talking m/m romance, women want to see the characters fall in love. They want to feel emotionally connected to the characters.

    And I agree that some of the most emotionally engaging m/m romance, with some of the hottest sex, is written by women.

    But at the same time, I wonder if we lived in a world where you couldn’t turn on the TV after 9 at night without seeing Guys Gone Wild ads, where straight men were filled full of liquor and convinced to suck each other off on camera to indulge the voyeuristic fantasies of straight women, you might feel differently about applying the term you use to identify your sexuality with all m/m sexual interactions.

    That doesn’t mean I’m judging anyone, or think they shouldn’t write (or film) what they like. But I just don’t feel all erotica and romance centering around f/f sex can (or should) be defined as lesbian.

    TO ME, a lesbian romance is a romance between two lesbian characters, written with a lesbian readership in mind. And all philosophical arguments aside, labelling every piece of f/f romance or erotica as “lesbian” will make it a lot harder for me to find the stories I want to read.

  17. TeddyPig wrote,

    Straight guys are entitled to material that indulges their fantasies just like everyone else.

    But that in my mind makes it porn or erotica,
    You are telling me the story is about the sex in that case.
    So yes it would not work in any other categories like romance without meeting other criteria.

    It sounds like you are also delving into erotica to prove your other case and then we would have to talk about the focus of the story since erotica does not deal in relationships as much as a single character’s experiences and growth so different rules.

    Romance to me is simple and has defined standards in forcing the writer to address the developing relationships M/M or M/F even in poly situations so that is where I am not seeing this dynamic you are talking about since it would undercut those requirements and the HEA or HFN in the story or have no place.

  18. kirsten saell wrote,

    Well I guess I am just an insensitive pig because to me either the story works and makes sense or it does not. Crap writing is crap writing you can’t cover it up with a sub category label change.

    Well, I don’t think crap writing necessarily has anything to do with it, really. If I like m/m/f poly romances (which I do), but books where the second guy goes off into the sunset at the end make me sad (which they do), I want to know whether the m/m/f romance is a poly or just a manage. And I’d like to know before I spend my money on it. And complaining that a well-written m/m/f book sucked because it didn’t end in an HEA for three is like criticizing a briliant sci-fi novel because it wasn’t the steampunk I thought it would be when I bought it.

    If the only way I care to define a love story is by the sex scenes, then I’d be cool with an m+m/f short-term menage so long as it was well-written and I got my guy-on-guy-on-girl action. But the gender configuration of sex scenes are not my only criterion in defining a romance.

    Target readership has a lot to do with how books are labelled. Even if I were new to this whole reading thing, I’d assume a lesbian romance was a romance between lesbians that would appeal to lesbian readers. One reason one finds them in the Gay and Lesbian section of the store. Not being a lesbian, or necessarily interested in reading about lesbians, I’d assume a lesbian romance is not for me.

    I don’t want my books to only appeal to lesbians, or only bisexuals, or even only women. Which is why I define even the f/f romance I’m working on as f/f, not lesbian. The characters are not lesbians, my target readership is not lesbian. The only thing lesbian about it is (some of) the sex, and to me, the sex scenes aren’t the sole criterion by which I define the romance.

    You may feel differently, and that’s fine. I don’t think you’re insensitive, TP. Stubborn and contrary, perhaps, but in a lovable kind of way. And it’s almost always fun debating with you.

  19. kirsten saell wrote,

    It sounds like you are also delving into erotica to prove your other case and then we would have to talk about the focus of the story since erotica does not deal in relationships as much as a single character’s experiences and growth so different rules.

    Romance fiction does not exist in a vacuum. It’s a combination of all kinds of social and sexual issues that makes the subject so touchy. F/f sexuality presented as titillation is so pervasive in the media, it’s hardly worth noting anymore. I think it was Mima who said to me once that f/f love is not two women in bikinis hugging at a Nascar race. But that image is something that’s kind of flung in the face of women all over the place.

    So I think that lesbians may be more protective of their sexuality and the words they use to define it than gay men might be. Hence the reluctance to label every f/f sex scene as lesbian, or base the categorization of a novel as lesbian on the fact that the sex scenes are predominantly f/f.

    And again, I think if we set all these questions of exploitation and social norms and all this other crap aside, we do have to ask ourselves who we’re serving when we label a book. Do the labels serve the sex scenes, or the target readership? If it’s the sex scenes, we should label every f/f book as f/f. If it’s the target readership, well, I think books aimed at a lesbian readership should be labelled “lesbian”, and books aimed at a different or more homogenous readership should be labelled something else.

  20. TeddyPig wrote,

    See, two guys making out at a Nascar race might be hot. I don’t think Harlequin would write that romance for me though.

  21. kirsten saell wrote,

    See, two guys making out at a Nascar race might be hot. I don’t think Harlequin would write that romance for me though.

    Agreed, on both counts. :P

  22. JenB wrote,

    So I think that lesbians may be more protective of their sexuality and the words they use to define it than gay men might be. Hence the reluctance to label every f/f sex scene as lesbian, or base the categorization of a novel as lesbian on the fact that the sex scenes are predominantly f/f.

    I think this explains it very well. Authors of lesbian lit often want it made perfectly clear that the women in their stories are proud of the fact that they’re 100% lesbian and not in any way accepting of the idea of attraction to a man or any male involvement in their lives/relationships. It almost seems defensive in some instances.

    F/F writers usually write about characters who are open to experimentation and who don’t define their entire lives by their sexual behaviors.

    It really is a semantics game. It very well may be complete bull at its psychological core, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference.

  23. kirsten saell wrote,

    Authors of lesbian lit often want it made perfectly clear that the women in their stories are proud of the fact that they’re 100% lesbian and not in any way accepting of the idea of attraction to a man or any male involvement in their lives/relationships. It almost seems defensive in some instances.

    I think it is defensive, but I can’t really blame them, either. When so much f/f material out there is not “lesbian” in any meaningful way, but the equivalent of a Katy Perry song, well, it stands to reason that they don’t want it all thrown in the same bin. And I don’t necessarily want my f/f romance (which I feel is a deeply emotional love story, despite the fact that neither woman is a lesbian), to be judged by the standards of a lesbian romance. I don’t want it to be read only by lesbians, either.

    I’m not much into labels as far as defining myself, either. I tell people I’m bisexual in the service of brevity and simplicity, but the reality is much more complex than that I can swing both ways. In my own head, I don’t apply a label at all. I like men, I like women, I’m pretty sure I could like a transgendered person (although I’ve never been attracted to one specifically). One thing I do know, though, is that I’m not a lesbian, lol.

  24. TeddyPig wrote,

    Well then that sounds to me like it is writing to a message or limited POV which I tend to find boring and preachy and fake.

    I can read an OK Homo story and like it (Fantasy or Sci-fi can work) but I do find it limiting and in some ways detracting like any over the top setup. Stories that head for more of a realistic balanced experience are much more authentic and have more weight.

    That’s the only real bias I bring is wanting more complexity in the characters. The reality is Gay or Lesbian that the essence is the homosexuality. THAT IS SEX! You can call the ghettoized city centric areas a form of “Gay or Lesbian culture” but when you get down to it there are still homosexual people living in middle America not doing all that.

    So that is where I have difficulty seeing the idea of authenticity of the gay experience being that ghettoized ideal.

    Just because I grew up in San Francisco the mecca of teh ghey does not make my experience similar to someone growing up in podunk South Carolina. The only thing we might share at that point is our sexuality not many of our experiences.

  25. Ally Blue wrote,

    This is a fascinating discussion. Having read through all the comments, I feel that I’ve learned a little bit. Not least of which is that my hubby is right, and I am not a real girl at all, because I feel like I am struggling to understand the f/f vs lesbian distinction. Sigh. He keeps telling me I’m a guy with girl parts <_<

    BUT, I'm trying to get it, and I think I'm getting there. I can certainly see why the lesbian community would be touchy about the use of the "lesbian" label. I can usually ignore most of society's casual sexism (it's either that or drive yourself crazy), but the freakin' Girls Gone Wild thing makes me want to throw things at the damn TV before I change the channel. Grrrrrrr…

  26. kirsten saell wrote,

    Well then that sounds to me like it is writing to a message or limited POV which I tend to find boring and preachy and fake.

    Well, a book doesn’t have to be preachy to be kind of…ensconced in a lesbian headspace. I would love to read more lesbian sci-fi or fantasy romance, because those pervasive socio-political undertones are kind of hard to extricate from contemporary fiction.

    I feel the same way about m/m–I’d rather read it in fantasy or sci-fi or even historical because the socio-political stuff either isn’t there, or especially in the case of historicals, it’s overt enough that it can stand in as the villain, and I’m removed enough from the period for it to bother me. Lucky me, I have plenty of writers to choose from there.

    But. I’d say that what is realistic in m/m to a man is not necessarily the same as what a woman might see as realistic in f/f. :)

  27. TeddyPig wrote,

    It probably has a lot to do with my personal tastes too. Nothing bores me to death like some queen going on and on about gay movies and gay music and gay fashion and gay gay gay gay.

    That is not the world I grew up in or live in or even really relate to and I find the obsessive nature of it as fake as a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

  28. kirsten saell wrote,

    That is not the world I grew up in or live in or even really relate to and I find the obsessive nature of it as fake as a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

    Me too. I’m much more drawn in by stories that just explore the characters’ feelings for each other, without any wangsting about applying labels and without all that subcultural baggage seeping in. I mean, I think with lesbian romance the way I define it, it almost feels like it’s lesbian first and romance second.

    I didn’t grow up agonizing about my attraction to women (although I didn’t share it with many people), and coming out to my parents and my small, rural town hasn’t been a big deal at all. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience, but that’s why I have a hard time relating to some lesbian stories.

    Granted, I’d rather see characters hiding their relationship (whether it’s homosexual or poly or whatever) because of societal pressures than gag on the saccharine sweetness of a utopian society where anything and everything is A-okay. And I think that the hiding of things can make the relationship itself kind of exist inside an emotional and sensual bubble that can heighten the intensity and up the stakes for everyone, which might be why historical m/m and f/f appeal to me.

    As for personal taste, it’s all subjective. But it is frustrating when people say, “Hey, you want f/f, well there’s plenty of it out there!” Yeah, there is, but it’s not to my taste. Lesbian fiction, romance or otherwise, can be bogged down in lesbian and feminist issues that drive me absolutely insane. Just give me a love story, please.

  29. rory wrote,

    As a lesbian I love Bold Strokes Press and yes Lesbian romance is very different from f/f.
    A good example of the latter is Jade Black in her ‘Empress’ New Clothes’ series. There is some f/f between the high priestess Ari and the heroine, but the heroine is quite het or bi.
    Radclyffe is the doyenne of lesbian romance and yes, the equality of the dynamic is a big part, just as Kirsten said. Also you will find from time to time, remarks from previously married female characters that the insensitive male, poor/inattentive lover…etc.

    I see the difference, and that’s why I buy books from Bold Strokes, love them as opposed to buying something merely f/f. It’s not what I want, just as Kirsten doesn’t want Lesbian romance. Vive la difference!;-)

  30. TeddyPig wrote,

    Well as I said Rory when we start “protecting ourselves” and being non-inclusive and encouraging this ideal of ghettoized culture I start getting leery of the reasons for it.

  31. kirsten saell wrote,

    Well as I said Rory when we start “protecting ourselves” and being non-inclusive and encouraging this ideal of ghettoized culture I start getting leery of the reasons for it.

    The problem is, though, that labelling all f/f as “lesbian” is not only inaccurate (since often neither the characters nor the target readership are lesbian), but it makes it hard for readers to find the stories they want.

    I wouldn’t mind if it was all labelled f/f, as long as the blurb clarifies whether the MCs are lesbians or not, because the term f/f is an inclusive one–it means female-female, however the characters identify themselves within their relationship. But “lesbian” has evolved to become a non-inclusive term. It’s a specific and loaded way of defining some women’s sexual orientation (one that is exclusive of men), and so I don’t think it really applies in the old-fashioned sense of simply f/f sensuality anymore.

    But I’m not gonna be the one to try to push the f/f label on all those lesbian romance writers. :P

  32. TeddyPig wrote,

    (since often neither the characters nor the target readership are lesbian)

    I’ve already said what I think about all that. It’s bull.

  33. kirsten saell wrote,

    Not sure I understand, Teddy. Are you saying that any woman who’s engaged in girl-on-girl sex is a lesbian, therefore if the characters have lesbian sex, they’re lesbians by definition?

  34. TeddyPig wrote,

    No, are you saying that romance which is what I was talking about is only about sex? I have stated before romance does not allow for this wishy washy behavior so if the characters are involved in a lesbian romance and we have an HEA then we are talking more than just sex and the romance has to define the type of relationship they are having.

  35. vein wrote,

    It seems to me that sex between two women is lesbian sex, romance between two female characters is lesbian romance. I don’t really care how those fictional characters self-identify be it is staight, lesbian, bi, queer, asexual or don’t-ask-don’t-tell. Romance is about the romance, erotica is about the sex, neither is about which box you tick at census time,

  36. vein wrote,

    (Or course if any author really doesn’t want my nasty F/F reader money, I guess I could oblige them)

  37. TeddyPig wrote,

    I think you have the right answer Emily.

    All I know is I am getting confused.

    So if I have sex with a bisexual man is it bi sex or gay sex? Because one of us happened to identify as bi or do we both have to agree to be bi? Or if we are in love is it gay bi or bi gay romance?

    Dang it, It’s still two men having sex and one of them is me so I swear that’s pretty damn gay.

    That’s it! I’m not authentically gay, I’m just M/M!

  38. kirsten saell wrote,

    I think this is one of those “All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles” things.

    I would argue that a romance between two women of whatever orientation, aimed at whatever readership is an f/f romance. But what I’d assume most readers think of as “lesbian” romance is a romance between one or more lesbians aimed at a primarily lesbian readership. I know most of the authors who most vigorously insist that their books are labeled as lesbian rather than f/f are writing about lesbians for lesbians.

    If we’re talking about the kind of sex and the kind of relationship in the way you define them, Teddy, then f/f would be as appropriate a label as lesbian, wouldn’t it? So I don’t understand why you would want to insist an author to label their book in a way contrary to their wishes.

    And just as I prefer to have labels like m/m/f poly and m/m/f menage to differentiate the type of story I’m buying, I’d prefer my own f/f stories be labelled f/f romance, because I’m writing them for a more homogenous readership, they don’t really deal with lesbian/feminist issues, and they don’t involve characters who only love women. They may end up in the gay/lesbian section of the bookstore, but because the term lesbian has come to mean “women who don’t do men”, I don’t feel that label–in the case of my books–is as accurate as f/f.

    (Or course if any author really doesn’t want my nasty F/F reader money, I guess I could oblige them)

    Hey, I’m all about the money. That’s why I write f/f and f/f/m, don’t you know. I’m getting filthy rich…not. LOL

  39. rory wrote,

    woah this is pretty fascinating. As I was just participating in a discusssion over at Amazon ‘s romance forum. And got hosed for wanting gay & lesbian romance to be included in the Romance aisle and not be segregated in the gay section!
    The women, were pretty wrought up at the thought that they might buy a book with 2 female characters who fall in love and have sex. Having a surprise like m/m didn’t bother them at all, neither did the fact that bdsm, menage is shelved there…And yeah I think it’s homophobic.
    I mentioned labelling books f/f but Kirsten’s posts made me think. And I agree with her.

    Teddy, I agree that living in an enclosed subculture can be stifling. I went to a girls school and loved it, we all competed but supported one another to achieve… Men and their opinions dominate the current culture. So women, especially lesbian women see value in a certain amount of separation.

    Gun Brookes writes lesbian sci fi that isn’t preachy at all,

  40. kirsten saell wrote,

    The women, were pretty wrought up at the thought that they might buy a book with 2 female characters who fall in love and have sex. Having a surprise like m/m didn’t bother them at all, neither did the fact that bdsm, menage is shelved there…And yeah I think it’s homophobic.

    I just do not understand this at all. It is homophobic–do they think because they’re women and lesbians are women that it’s okay to feel that way? Does a straight woman who accidentally picks up an f/f romance (which is pretty unlikely to do by accident, IMO) need to scrub in a decon shower with lye and a wire brush? “Oh noes! I accidentally read the beginning of an f/f sex scene! I’m all dirty now! Quick, pray for me!” WTFingF?

    Here’s an appropriate response in such a situation: they could, oh, I don’t know…return the freaking book? Or, maybe they could…read it? I mean, the sex scenes might not get you all worked up if f/f eroticism isn’t your thing, and you might even find yourself skipping them, but if you’re so squicked the mere thought of it makes you put down a book…yup, that says homophobic to me.

  41. TeddyPig wrote,

    I went to a girls school and loved it, we all competed but supported one another to achieve… Men and their opinions dominate the current culture. So women, especially lesbian women see value in a certain amount of separation.

    Well for years lesbians and gay men have always kept separated to their own groups and bars and really only got together over pride rallies and political causes. I never saw value in that, I always saw it as a form of gender prejudice on both sides and the emotional response of a five year old. Ewwww girls have cooties. I never justified it or thought it had any valid excuses and still don’t.

    So just remember that we do it ourselves and always have when picking on the poor straight people. I hate hypocrisy too you know.

  42. Treva Harte wrote,

    I’m not totally sure I got all of this but what I think I understood was very interesting. Trust me, I’ve read enough submissions on what men think women are doing when they have sex with other women. Yawn. I think — am I getting this? — that lesbian romance also includes a whole culture of women with women, not necessarily just two women falling in love and having sex.

    Hmm. Maybe that’s a little too general. I grew up in an enormously female-centric world but none of the women who raised me, hung out with me and worked with me would have ever identified it as lesbian. It was just different than a male-centric world. That would be the whole girl school argument, I guess. Interesting.

    But I still don’t know much about Bold Strokes.

  43. MB (Leah) wrote,

    But I still don’t know much about Bold Strokes.

    They’re a small press that specializes in lesbian fiction. I’ve read several of their books and I’ve been very impressed with the writing quality.

    I don’t know if it’s the case with all of their books, but while they do focus on romance, I wouldn’t call them erotic. The language is more sensual in sexual situations. Maybe they do have erotic romance or erotica, I don’t know.

    Since they are a small press though, their books are quite expensive; like traditional trade PB size and prices. However, most of their books are only 200 pgs.

    And their ebooks are way too expensive.

    So, while I think they have really good authors, it’s just too expensive for me to buy their books in general. And frankly, I like a little sex with my romance.

    Radclyffe, who runs Bold Strokes as Len, is one of the most popular authors in lesbian fiction and she does write lesbian erotica. However, I’ve only read her erotica in anthologies published by other publishers.

    About the discussion of f/f vs. lesbian you have it correct Treva, as far as I and others feel about it. Sex between two women is technically lesbian sex, yes. But as a straight woman, I just don’t identify with or get turned on by reading a story in which the women are called Mack, or Patrick or whatever. I also don’t like when the women dress and act like men or the whole butch/femme dynamic. This is what you often get often in lesbian romance and it’s a turn off for me. Yet, I do like to read about women together. So how is that to be distinguished?

    I’ve read enough of what I call f/f and lesbian fiction/romance to know there’s a huge difference.

    Maybe this doesn’t come up in m/m because there’s hardly a straight male readership of m/m fiction. Otherwise there might be huge discussion about the semantics in the labeling of books in which just two men fall in love vs. the whole gay lifestyle being portrayed.

  44. rory wrote,

    To get back to Bold Strokes Books:
    their. quality is as good as or better than mainstream and yes they are expensive. One good way of sampling their authors is to read them first for free; here
    http://www.academyofbards.org/authors/
    Radclyffe is no 1 in Romance. or Fantastic, smoking love scenes
    Xenia Alexiou write terrific thrillers, really smoking good love scenes (2)
    Jane Fletcher fantasy (just a kiss, no sex)
    Gun Brookes sci fi
    Catherine Friend time travel historical [I prefer Branded Ann, by Merry Shannon]
    Bold Strokes has an erotic line too

  45. katiebabs wrote,

    I have submitted my F/F romance I posted about a few months ago to a few epubs. Hopefully, the epubs I have submitted to will think my writing is something they are interested in.

    Haven’t heard of Bold Strokes. Now I do! :D

  46. kirsten saell wrote,

    am I getting this? — that lesbian romance also includes a whole culture of women with women, not necessarily just two women falling in love and having sex.

    Well, I’d categorize things like this: f/f is any romance/erotica that features two women falling in love and/or having sex (whether that’s written by men for other men, or lesbians for lesbians, or any other combination of authorship and readership). f/f is by definition a generic term–all it means is two women together.

    If f/f/ is the genus, then in my mind, “lesbian romance” is the species. I don’t think lesbian romance must necessarily be written by lesbians or solely for lesbians, or be overtly feminist/political or whatever. But I do think it’s written in a way that is likely to appeal to a lesbian readership. That readership may have some overlap with straight women, bi-women, straight men, but it may not.

    While I have had a lesbian author (who writes for Bold Strokes, BTW), email me to say she really enjoyed my first novel and then go on to pimp it on her blog, I didn’t write the girl-girl action or the cross-dressing heroine to appeal only or primarily to lesbian readers. I wasn’t even thinking of what a lesbian would think of it when I wrote it (although I was pretty stoked that I managed to charm her. I will say, she warned her blog readers that it was an m/f romance, I’m guessing because her readers are mostly lesbians).

    The characters in my books–even in my f/f–are not lesbians. They may have lesbian sex, but not because they find men unappealing or are only/primarily attracted to or sexually/emotionally compatible with women. There are no references to the “insensitive male, poor/inattentive lover” as Rory put it.

    My characters are sexually fluid. My target readership is generic, not specific. Which is why I prefer the more generic term of f/f.

    Anyhow, that’s just the way I see it, based on my own reading experiences and what other authors have told me. YMMV.

  47. TeddyPig wrote,

    I think it is not healthy to think that “all” lesbians act the same way or like relationships the same way. If you are talking about a defined topics like BDSM and roleplay or cross dressing then that’s fine. There is more than enough agreed on parts of those communities to portray them in that type of light. Lesbian on the other hand… I don’t know. I am sure there are more exceptions than rules.

    I might joke about certain stereotypes that can seem to be alive and well like all hairdressers and florist tending to be gay men and chuckle about it. But… it’s not the whole truth or fact based it’s just an impression that hangs around. We have gay garbagemen and auto mechanics now you know.

  48. kirsten saell wrote,

    LOL, that’s certainly true, Teddy. And yes, stereotypes=bad. But again, I think any kind of targeted marketing relies on them to a degree. I’m writing (I hope!) to a generic readership. I’d rather use the most generic term to categorize my work.

    And again, I think “lesbian” is kind of an exclusive term. Way back when, it might have meant simply women who were open to loving and being sexual with other women. But I do think it’s become something different, and more specific. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t need the term “bisexual”, because any woman engaging in female/female sensuality would be by definition a lesbian. Any man who had gay sex would automatically be gay.

    In the f/f I’m working on, the hero(ine) has a sexually fulfilling, loving relationship with a man, then falls in love with a woman. The second heroine believes she’s falling in love with a man, then discovers otherwise. The romance at the center of the story may be a monogamous one between two people with vaginas, but the story itself is centered on the hero(ine)’s bisexuality and gender fluidity, and the heroine’s openness to explore a non-conventional relationship despite the fact that she’s straight.

    I think “lesbian romance” just doesn’t apply to this story the way f/f does. F/f might not come close to defining it, but because it’s a generic term, without any connotations attached to it, it’s the one I prefer. That’s not to say that lesbians wouldn’t be unable to enjoy it, just that I don’t think the term lesbian is broad enough to encompass the issues in the story.

    (And, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it qualifies as a transgender romance, either. The hero(ine) neither thinks she’s a man, nor wishes to be one.)

  49. MB (Leah) wrote,

    I think it is not healthy to think that “all” lesbians act the same way or like relationships the same way.

    I don’t know who you are addressing or if you are addressing anyone in particular, but I agree with you on this.

    My sister is a lesbian. I’ve spent a lot time hanging out with lesbians for much of my adult life and I know for a fact that most lesbians don’t fit the stereotype of being butch or femme, or dressing like men with short haircuts, etc. They are normally just two people who love each other and are in a relationship.

    I think though, when you get into fiction– romance and erotic romance– then you get into what turns people on specifically in fantasy. Because let’s face it, romance novels hardly represent RL relationships. They are mostly fantasy; what we’d like it to be like or what we’d like to escape into.

    So when I want to read a f/f love story, I want to read my fantasy around it and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Nor do I feel wanting to make a distinction in what I like to read as being bad. I’m buying a book to escape, why shouldn’t I read what I like?

    I’m one of those f/f readers who does read a lot of straight up lesbian romance/fiction. And it is all over the board with the lifestyle having a strong presence in it— to just two women in love, at the other end of the spectrum. And I don’t mind it so much. But I do prefer to just read two women in love without the whole lifestyle around it and I don’t think I’m shoving lesbians into a stereotypical box by preferring to read f/f that fits my fantasy and having it labeled as such.

  50. TeddyPig wrote,

    I think any kind of targeted marketing relies on them to a degree.

    Well then it’s uber niche marketing because when I think of Lesbians they tend to be a very progressive and ultra individualistic and well read. So I would not recommend thinking of them as a static marketing group with defined roles from years back.

  51. kirsten saell wrote,

    Well then it’s uber niche marketing because when I think of Lesbians they tend to be a very progressive and ultra individualistic and well read. So I would not recommend thinking of them as a static marketing group with defined roles from years back.

    Actually, I’m not thinking of lesbian readers as a market, I’m thinking of everyone else. I don’t want straight women or men or anyone else to see my book labeled “lesbian romance” and think it won’t appeal to them because they aren’t lesbians. And that is kind of the prevailing sentiment out there, that lesbian romance is written to a lesbian readership. That’s what I’m getting at.

    I would personally prefer it all to be labelled simply f/f. But as I said, good luck forcing that one on authors of lesbian romance and erotica.

  52. kirsten saell wrote,

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever typed the word “lesbian” so many times as I have in the last 48 hours or so…

  53. Treva Harte wrote,

    Kirsten, there must be a joke in there somewhere. But OK, I can get marketing to readerships. Thanks. I was feeling a bit lost.

  54. kirsten saell wrote,

    Kirsten, there must be a joke in there somewhere. But OK, I can get marketing to readerships. Thanks. I was feeling a bit lost.

    Heck, someone somewhere is probably laughing her butt off over this whole thing. I know I sometimes find the distinctions overly nitpicky and silly. I mean, I suppose I could label my f/f project a “bi-female/gender-fluid/quasi-heterosexual/lesbian” romance. But that’s getting a bit ridiculous. I’m happy calling it f/f.

    But, women’s fiction is marketed to women and I’d guess it’s a pretty rare man who would pick one up. Lesbian fiction is marketed to lesbians in the same way. Wouldn’t the assumption amongst many readers be that lesbian romance is, well, for lesbians? Especially if it’s shelved in the gay/lesbian section of the store.

    When you consider that the term lesbian (as it applies in general, today) involves an exclusion of the male, and many lesbian stories have subtle anti-male undertones (of the kind Rory mentioned) well, I would guess straight women might not want to read that. Men, likewise.

    What I’m saying is I want to reach the broadest market I can. Women like JenB enjoy reading a little f/f here and there, but I’m not sure if she’d buy a “lesbian romance”. She might buy an f/f one, though…

  55. rory wrote,

    Katiebabs; good luck!
    here are more lesbian publishing houses:
    Bella Books
    PD
    go over to the yahoo group lesfic_unbound at yahoogroups.com

    Treva, I really think you nailed it when you said, lesbian culture is women’s culture. That’s my experience coming out recently & worrying how i would fit in. No problem, I have a female-centric family & loved girls prep school.

    It seems to me after writing an erotic het story, that there is an element of D/s in het romance, more explicit in erotica. Additionally les romance is mild compared to het & bi. When I say Radclyffe is smokin’ i have to qualify it, the characters are intense and passionate. But toys, exotic positions, anal are definitely erotica -only. And there still has to be some meaningful relationship or one to develop!

    As for butches, Leah is really right, I dont see that kind of division in real life and in books the butch doesn’t act like a guy at all. Masculine dressed les’ are totally female in their interest in relationships, emotions and talking about it etc…Think of it as merely a fashion choice. They are totally female.

  56. kirsten saell wrote,

    It seems to me after writing an erotic het story, that there is an element of D/s in het romance, more explicit in erotica.

    There is, I think, whenever you have a, uh, for lack of better terms, a penetrator and a penetratee. In m/m, it can be a more equal footing (I think) because they’re both men, and both have that handy equipment–although my favorite m/m has always been the less egalitarian type.

    But with het, those sexual roles don’t tend to shift within a relationship. The man is always the penetrator and the woman is always the penetratee, if you get my drift. Add to that the fact that most romance is written to women (meaning the heroine must be relatable, but the hero should be someone the reader can fall in love with), and you often have those D/s roles coming out even more.

    And I think straight women miss that D/s dynamic when it isn’t there, which is why I think a lot of f/f, even if the sex scenes turn them on, doesn’t work for them as romance. Add to that the fact that a butch/femme dynamic might also be unappealing to non-lesbian women, and it gets awfully complicated and difficult to balance.

    All I know is the stuff that works for me and the stuff that doesn’t. And that my work has been pretty well-received by the straight women who’ve read it, so there you go.

  57. Emilie wrote,

    Interesting discussion. I hadn’t thought of there being such a distinction between f/f romance and lesbian romance, though now that a number of people have explained it, I can see their points. I don’t feel that I have a sexual orientation one way or the other, so I say I’m bi. I think a fair percentage of women might be that way, though some might call themselves straight and some lesbian, depending on social conditioning and who they fall in love with.

    It hadn’t even occurred to me that straight women would read f/f romance. Honestly, it boggles my mind. I can see why women who don’t identify as lesbians might not want to read books with all the cultural/political aspects of that identification. I can understand that some might have an attraction to stories in which there’s a meaningful relationship and intensely expressive communication, but for a straight woman to read romances that have lesbian sex scenes in them? That’s way more open-minded than I ever would have expected.

  58. kirsten saell wrote,

    I can understand that some might have an attraction to stories in which there’s a meaningful relationship and intensely expressive communication, but for a straight woman to read romances that have lesbian sex scenes in them? That’s way more open-minded than I ever would have expected.

    They’ve just started making discoveries about how sexual arousal mechanisms differ in women than in men. I think the results of the latest research–that the erotic material that arouses a woman often has little or no correlation with how she identifies sexually–is borne out in the fact that a fair number of writers and readers of m/m are lesbians. Some of them very much prefer m/m over f/f. Those lesbians can’t all be closeted straight women or gay men trapped in women’s bodies, can they?

    I do think for a lot of straight women (who may not be aware of this quirk of female arousal), reading f/f–especially if they get hot and bothered by the sex scenes–can be an uncomfortable experience. But a lot of women who identify as straight like a bit of girl-on-girl. They’ll watch porn with their husbands, read bi-female erotica, enjoy some f/f and f/f/m scenes in erotic romance, etc.

    But Rory is right. The vast majority I’ve come across online act as if f/f is like some vile form of super-cooties, where even a hint of f/f sensuality is enough to make them put down a book and not pick it up again. Which always makes me wonder. A “meh” reaction I could understand. An “ew! ew! ew! Get it away from me before I get some on me!” reaction makes me scratch my head. I mean, hey, even my uber-straight ex-husband didn’t fast forward through that m/m scene that time we were watching porn together. He didn’t get off on it, but it didn’t make him want to barf, either. And men’s sexual orientation IS tied to what they find arousing…

  59. Edie wrote,

    Interesting discussion..
    I am not a reader of m/m so can not comment there. But there is a broad difference for me in F/F vs Lesbian romance.. Or it could just be the Lesbian books that I have read.. lol Though I think it could be more of a taste distinction than anything, or a story with the politics vs a story of the relationship.

  60. katiebabs wrote,

    If there are writers who will write better quality F/F then more people will read these stories. The F/F I have read reads like porn or like the stories I used to read on Literotica.com.

  61. TeddyPig wrote,

    Katiebabs,

    I think you are stating the truth. My argument is J.L. Langley who was branded an M/M writer had the 2008 bestseller at A Different Light in San Francisco with her book The Tin Star. Sure that is a small independent gay bookstore but that’s the gayest damn bookstore in the gayest city I can name.

    You can’t tell me there is this huge difference between M/M and Gay Romance if the homosexual reading audience does not care. That is the key to me, show me “mainstream” readers buying into the “made up” classification not just people theorizing online. So I would not be so bought into trying to divide F/F from Lesbian Romance based on some theory. It all comes across as defensive reflexes and silly excuses.

  62. kirsten saell wrote,

    That is the key to me, show me “mainstream” readers buying into the “made up” classification not just people theorizing online.

    Thing is, almost every woman on this thread, straight, bi or lesbian, has said there is a difference. Certainly there’s a HUGE difference between the f/f erotic romance produced by men for men and that produced by lesbians for lesbians. To throw it all in one bin and call it one thing is, to me, equating an anthology edited by Zane with some of the hideous f/f porn I’ve read by male authors over the years.

    And because lesbian erotica and lesbian fiction are targeted for a lesbian readership, it stands to reason that mainstream readers might well feel lesbian romance is also targeted for a lesbian readership. In which case, it will never “go mainstream”. It will remain ghettoized.

    I also wonder who you feel are “mainstream readers”? I read across genres (both in romance and outside of it). Leah does too, and JenB did before the romance bug bit her, IIRC. Neither of them are lesbians. Doesn’t that make them mainstream?

    Romance is a woman’s genre. Sure, there are men who enjoy it, but it’s a genre written to women. And if romance is a women’s genre, lesbian romance and f/f romance (whether you make a distinction between them or not) are even more so. It’s very frustrating to have a man, a gay man at that, tell women how to categorize books they write for each other.

    Here’s a challenge, Teddy, because I can’t imagine you’re very well-read in this particular genre. Read some. I’m sure Rory could recommend some excellent lesbian romance and erotica, and I’m happy to recommend a few books I classify as f/f (to make you happy, I’ll throw a swinging dick in here and there if you like). I might even dig up some “lesbian” stuff written by men. Then I’ll be happy to debate further whether there’s a difference between lesbian romance and f/f romance. One rule, though. No skipping the sex scenes. :)

  63. TeddyPig wrote,

    Why you just negated me for being a man?

    In my opinion the real proof has to be the point of sale. Not if I buy a theory you have put forth but if people buy a book based solely on that theory. Any explanation worth listening to has to prove it’s worth in the real world.

  64. Emilie wrote,

    Kirsten’s comment: “But Rory is right. The vast majority [of straight women] I’ve come across online act as if f/f is like some vile form of super-cooties, where even a hint of f/f sensuality is enough to make them put down a book and not pick it up again. Which always makes me wonder. A “meh” reaction I could understand. An “ew! ew! ew! Get it away from me before I get some on me!” reaction makes me scratch my head.”

    Ah, otherwise known as the being afraid they’ll “catch gay” reaction. Like the guys mentioned above who love to watch f/f sex scenes, though many of them express horror and disgust at any hint of homoeroticism between men.

    TeddyPig’s comment: “I think you are stating the truth. My argument is J.L. Langley who was branded an M/M writer had the 2008 bestseller at A Different Light in San Francisco with her book The Tin Star. Sure that is a small independent gay bookstore but that’s the gayest damn bookstore in the gayest city I can name.

    You can’t tell me there is this huge difference between M/M and Gay Romance if the homosexual reading audience does not care. That is the key to me, show me “mainstream” readers buying into the “made up” classification not just people theorizing online. So I would not be so bought into trying to divide F/F from Lesbian Romance based on some theory. It all comes across as defensive reflexes and silly excuses.”

    I was surprised but pleased to see that False Colors and Transgressions were May and June “men’s fiction” bestsellers at Giovanni’s Room, the GLBT bookstore in Philadelphia. The bookstore even had the books on the display section near the register. The books are labeled m/m romance on the cover, but that didn’t stop those readers. See, that’s just people looking for a good story.

  65. kirsten saell wrote,

    I negated you for being not the target readership for any f/f material. If you’d read any amount of it, you’d know something about it other than the ways you believe it theoretically correlates with the m/m-gay debate.

    There are women here who read the stuff who are telling you there’s a difference. Don’t tell them they’re wrong until you’ve read some yourself.

  66. TeddyPig wrote,

    The books are labeled m/m romance on the cover, but that didn’t stop those readers. See, that’s just people looking for a good story.
    That’s my point, no mumbo jumbo about it. The proof is in the sale of the book and you can’t argue about that.

  67. kirsten saell wrote,

    That’s my point, no mumbo jumbo about it. The proof is in the sale of the book and you can’t argue about that.

    I’m not sure I’m getting your point. You’re reasoning is that because readers don’t care whether it’s labeled m/m or gay, there’s no difference. And I’d agree, in the case of gay vs m/m, you’re probably right.

    But plenty of women who read f/f and/or lesbian romance do see a difference. I don’t buy lesbian romance (from presses like Cleis and Bold Strokes) because I don’t like the feminist/anti-male undertones I find in a lot of the books (something m/m doesn’t have to deal with, frankly), or the relationship dynamics common to the genre. Leah buys both lesbian and f/f, but sees a difference between lesbian romance and what she’s really looking for and what she’d like to buy more of. JenB doesn’t buy lesbian romance because it’s not what she wants, but she does like reading about female sexual fluidity and “heteroflexibility”. Rory happily reads lesbian romance, but doesn’t enjoy what she calls f/f.

    So if readers are seeing a difference, and basing their reading choices on that difference, doesn’t that prove MY point? And aren’t you negating the POV of all these people who read and know something about the genre(s) by insisting you–someone who’s certainly read less of it than them–know more about how to categorize it than they do?

  68. rory wrote,

    Teddy ;
    Radclyffe is the Empress of Lesbian romance, so successful she started her own publishing house: Bold Strokes Press and left her day job as a surgeon! I just finished “Turn Back TIme” one of my favorites, 2 doctors finding love. One of the heroines is divorced with a child.

    Also Radclyffe and Karin Kallmaker, wrote an erotic anthology “In Deep Waters” there is strap-on, D/s, toys, 3somes you name it. I didn’t like it and read the reveiws by other lesbians over at Amazon. In fact my lesbian friends, when I mentioned I’d written an erotic story looked rather askance. We want relationships, communication, looooove.

    I have never, ever read one lesbian romance, where one character is Bi! or where a relationship with a male was a happy one. Thanks to everyone here for the realization. Bi sexuals do not exist in lesbian romance, former [mistaken] straight heroines always realize they are gay!

    In Xenia Alexiou’s latest “Thief of Always” which is the most modern in just taking their gayness for granted [ in les romance women never swing both ways] and having males as characters, the 2 heroines dance at a lesbian bar. And this is in Holland. What do bi women want in f/f? what is their ideal partner like? I’m very interested.

    I’m just finishing a het regency romance, and I had to make a big effort to stop equalizing the relationship between the hero & heroine. Het women want a dominant Alpha male who will protect and take care of her.

    Over at Amazon romance, the female readers said theyd tear out the pages if they chanced upon f/f! I agree that sexuality is fluid and this is their unspoken fear. I’ was surprised when reading to come upon m/m, but I didn’t throw the book down, later I reread it to understand m/m sexuality. Interesting, but I didn’t feel threatened….

  69. TeddyPig wrote,

    And aren’t you negating the POV of all these people who read and know something about the genre(s)

    I am not negating anything I am saying that time will tell… Much like the proof that is coming out in the successful sale of M/M Romance in gay bookstores to gay men vs the old trope about it “not being for or read by Gay Men” this whole F/F vs Lesbian Romance has to stand that same test.

    I am saying the verdict is still out but I am seeing different things occur on Amazon and that was my initial findings before The Tin Star hit big at A Different Light.

  70. Treva Harte wrote,

    OK. I took a look at what LI has to offer and I’m pretty sure that what selection we have to offer in that direction would be f/f with the exception of maybe one that could edge toward lesbian romance. But my guess would be that f/f would be closest to what our current market readership would want.

  71. kirsten saell wrote,

    Over at Amazon romance, the female readers said theyd tear out the pages if they chanced upon f/f! I agree that sexuality is fluid and this is their unspoken fear.

    This is just so sad, because it’s an ungrounded fear. A woman can be straight as the shortest distance between two points and still get turned on reading f/f.

    Researchers have always just assumed women and men were the same in how they responded to erotic stimuli. They’ve only recently started testing this, and found that gay men need at least one swinging dick, and straight men need at least one vagina to be aroused. Nothing wilts a gay dude’s wang faster than an all-girl orgy, and nothing turns a straight guy off faster than some raunchy m/m.

    But when they tested women of all orientations, they found that despite what they said they were aroused by, their bodies were aroused by any and everything–straight women by f/f, lesbians by m/m, and almost everyone by, of all things, Bonobo chimpanzees mating. Now, you can’t tell me that the majority of the women participating in the study wanted to get it on with monkeys. And oddly, straight women were more aroused by a woman in a leotard doing yoga than a hot guy with a flaccid penis walking naked down the beach. The conclusion was that it isn’t the gender configuration displayed in the erotic material that gets women off, it’s the degree of sensuality and the strength of the sexual signals.

    So it does make me sad to see that fear of “OMG, I’m not straight! Someone get the disinfectant!” preventing women from enjoying stories and forms of erotic material they might really get off on. Everyone should be able to get off on what works for them. It’s why I watch reruns of the L-word. On mute, of course, lol.

  72. kirsten saell wrote,

    OK. I took a look at what LI has to offer and I’m pretty sure that what selection we have to offer in that direction would be f/f with the exception of maybe one that could edge toward lesbian romance. But my guess would be that f/f would be closest to what our current market readership would want.

    I’d agree, and I’d also add that considering the current market for ebooks, and the current sentiment among women readers that Rory has stumbled across, labeling all f/f books as lesbian may narrow the readership to lesbians and the occasional VERY open-minded straight woman reader.

    @Rory: I will say it’s really heartening to see a lesbian romance aficionada actually confirming that the things I dislike about the genre are not just in my imagination, LOL. There is a huge divide among the female LGBT community between lesbians and bisexual women. I’ve had some lesbians suggest I’m either a “true” lesbian in denial, or just kidding myself about being bi, and that either way, I’m a traitor to the cause.

    You don’t see this divide to this degree among gays and bisexual men, I think, because male homosexuality hasn’t really been fodder for the titillation of heterosexuals for very long–at least not as overtly as female homosexuality has. And because until recently, men have been in charge of everything, from culture to politics to everything else.

    So you have this group of women who are resentful of that age-old f/f-straight guy thing, and who are often also overtly feminist. They don’t want men to own or have an influence on any part of their sexuality. Bisexuality invites men back in. Sexual fluidity invites men back in.

    I find it interesting that some lesbians will prefer to read m/m over f/f, but at the same time won’t touch m/f. Maybe they’re interested in men and men’s sexuality, but they don’t want it anywhere near their own?

  73. MB (Leah) wrote,

    I am not negating anything I am saying that time will tell

    You know Teddy, you might be right in the long run, but I’m not holding my breath. For you to be right, that would mean that lesbians who read romance would have to embrace romances: between two straight women who find themselves suddenly attracted out of no where, or a bi with a straight woman, a lesbian with a bi woman, a lesbian falling love with a straight woman and so on. And I just don’t see them doing that. What would be the appeal for them? And I’m speaking specifically in the realm of f/f and not m/m or m/f because I know that many lesbians like to read m/m and m/f.

    I read everything: m/f, m/m, f/f. I read and review lots of f/f or lesbian. But when I label that review I label it lesbian, f/f, f/f-bi depending on how the characters identify sexually. Because I know that the people reading those reviews want to know that.

    However it all pans out in the long run as far as labeling goes, it will still not change the fact that most lesbians will want to read lesbian only oriented stories without men or women being wishy washy about being attracted to a woman, and straight/ bi women will want to read stories with characters that reflect their own fantasies and sexual identity and or experience.

  74. TeddyPig wrote,

    Honestly MB Leah I think the surprise will be simply the right book with the right cover at the right time. I think labels get over thought mostly.

    The right packaging and a well written character driven story that does not attempt any messages or povs in particular and you could probably have even those hard headed straight men buying it.

  75. kirsten saell wrote,

    The right packaging and a well written character driven story that does not attempt any messages or povs in particular and you could probably have even those hard headed straight men buying it.

    Done! I’ve had several straight men email me (or talk to me personally) to say they really enjoyed my m/f+f and m/f/f books. Granted, men in general aren’t running out in droves to buy them up, because seriously, my books are romance. Sure, there’s hot sex and some girl-on-girl and tons of bloody graphic violence and all that, but in the end, they’re romance.

    I know at least one of them plans to buy my true f/f when if comes out (if I ever finish it), and I’d assume the others might as well since it has its share of mayhem and gore.

    But I don’t think lesbian romance (as defined by the women here) would appeal to them at all–because lesbian romance either excludes the male from the picture and makes him feel like an interloper, or portrays him in an unflattering light. No guy wants to read hot girl-on-girl action when it subtly (or not so subtly, heh) suggests men don’t know how to please women in bed or treat them right, LOL. Even if a male reader doesn’t require that niggling little suggestion that maybe, just maybe, he’d be invited to join in, he probably doesn’t want to read a romance where the characters are indifferent to men at best, antagonistic at worst.

    Most straight women who like f/f feel the same way. They don’t want to be told “sex, ur doin it rong” because they love and are attracted to and in committed relationships with men. So yes, it will take, in your words, “the right packaging and a well written character driven story that does not attempt any messages or povs in particular”, to go mainstream. But unfortunately, you’re probably not going to find it in the “lesbian romance” genre.

  76. TeddyPig wrote,

    Well no one’s in a hurry here unless they want to make the bucks. I am sure some writer will keep taking a swing at it.

  77. MB (Leah) wrote,

    The right packaging and a well written character driven story that does not attempt any messages or povs in particular and you could probably have even those hard headed straight men buying it.

    I agree with you totally on this. But I think that will only work with a particular book here and there. Not for a whole group of people who only read a particular genre.

    I can see a few straight men reading a great, well crafted m/m or m/f romance. But I can’t see them them going to Borders and buying up bunch of romances in general. Would be nice if that were the case, that labels would not be needed at all but that a book is read based solely on the writing and characterizations.

    But at the same time, if I’m spending my money and say I don’t want to read about lesbians together, then no matter how great the writing, or characterization or the fact that the whole world might say this book is incredible, I’m not going to be interested and I want to know before I plunk down my money.

    But thank you Teddy for a good discussion. That never hurts anyone or thing.

  78. kirsten saell wrote,

    Also, packaging does include genre labeling to some extent.

    I mean, if the general public thinks of lesbian romance as being feminist, anti-male (in the more overt sense, or just in the sense that men are not welcome within the protagonists’ sexuality), rigid about never exploring bisexuality or sexual fluidity (or acknowledging they exist), and having an egalitarian dynamic mainstream readers find uninteresting, why would a mainstream reader try one out?

    It stands to reason that no matter how lauded, no matter how slick the cover, the lesbian romance label will prevent many mainstream readers from ever even picking up a book–and you have to pick it up before you get to the content.

    So in this case, because lesbian fiction and lesbian romance has kind of carved out a very specific niche with very specific tropes and sensibilities, I do think the label, as part of the packaging, will play a huge role in whether a book will ever have a chance to “go mainstream”. Whether that’s calling it an f/f romance, or just a romance, or having a blurb on the front cover that differentiates it somehow from what people have come to expect from lesbian romance, there’s going to have to be something, outside the content, that sets it apart from the well-established niche of lesbian romance.

  79. kirsten saell wrote,

    @Rory, I almost missed this question: What do bi women want in f/f? what is their ideal partner like? I’m very interested.

    Speaking for myself, I want f/f to feature characters who like men, have loved men, still would be open to loving men. I don’t want to be told that only a woman could ever make me truly happy, because it’s not true. I want characters who just fall in love with the person they fall in love with, without any wangsting about what kind of label to apply to themselves.

    I want an H/h dynamic, a heroine and a female hero if you will (though one who still manages to be feminine and vulnerable, on the inside if not the outside)–I don’t do egalitarian, even in m/m, lol.

    I like a certain degree of gender fluidity, too (Hilary Swank was damn hot in Boys Don’t Cry, and it makes me sad that the horrible ending means I can never ever watch that movie again or think of it without feeling awful). I have a huge thing for cross-dressing heroines, but not necessarily ones who think they’re men or want to be men. Women with swords, women (in historical or fantasy) in trousers, women who can make it in a man’s world, but who can be soft and squishy at times. Women who are kick-ass but not butch, who wear biker jackets and have short hair, but wear mascara and lipstick and sexy panties. Women in dresses, women who think they’re straight, or who are straight, but find themselves falling in love with someone they never expected and just going with it.

    I want characters like me–I see myself as almost a “switch”, to borrow a BDSM term. When I’m with a man, I want him to be on top. When I’m with a woman, I want to be in charge. And which gender I’m more drawn to at any given time depends a lot on how I’m feeling in my own life.

    When I’m on top of my game, succeeding, just installed a hardwood floor all by myself, rowr, go me! When I feel like that, I find myself wanting a sweet, feminine, gentle, tender woman to take care of, and I want to take the lead sexually, too. When my life is a mess, when the dishes aren’t done, when my kids are not listening and my boss is making me want to hang myself before ever going back in to work–then I want nothing more than a big, strong masculine man to lean on, to take over, to dominate me in bed.

    The perfect relationship in my mind would be a femme-girl/alpha male sandwich with me in the middle. Which is why I write those kinds of stories, and why when I find them (which is sooooo rare), I gobble them down like heroin-laced popcorn.

    These are things I don’t find in lesbian romance. Or, if I find them, they’re bogged down with other things that make me uncomfortable or angry or frustrated. It makes me mad when you have a lesbian romance where one of the women was with a man, and loved him, and enjoyed sex with him, but fell more deeply in love with a woman or even just realized she likes women better than she does men, and she now identifies as a lesbian. She’s not. She’s bi–with a preference for women, perhaps, but bi all the same. Unless the only way to be bisexual is to never have a monogamous relationship with anyone?

    I want to read romances that leave me feeling okay about who I am, that don’t require I choose a side. And as with any romance, I almost always need more than just the romance. I need a fantasy or a mystery or a sci-fi subplot or something, especially in non-het romance, because otherwise it so often devolves into the characacters’ sexual orientation being “the issue”, and I get very impatient reading that. I’m bi, and it isn’t a big deal to me. I can’t really relate much to characters who angst and angst over who they’re attracted to, especially in a contemporary setting.

    Whew! That was rather a lot of information. But I hope it answered your question. As always, other bi-women may feel entirely different from me. :)

  80. Emilie wrote,

    Well, it seems to be clear by who’s buying it that quite a number of gay men will read m/m fiction. But I don’t think there’s really so clear a way as sales from specific stores to tell about women readers distinguishing between f/f and lesbian romance — that would be more anecdotal, which is what you’re getting here.

    I would imagine that women who really enjoy f/f romance might try lesbian romance, and that a woman in a relationship with another woman might read, well, whatever kind of romance. So of course there would be some overlap. But some lesbians really wouldn’t care to read a romance which includes men in the relationship, or includes bisexual or bi-curious women. For a some, part of that might well relate to political/feminist beliefs, and not have so much to do with whether they might otherwise enjoy the story.

    I’ll have to try some f/f romance. I’ve read “gay for you” storylines in lesbian romance, and thought they were pretty plausible. But I think it’s really cool when people try reading things outside of what they’re familiar with.

  81. kirsten saell wrote,

    But some lesbians really wouldn’t care to read a romance which includes men in the relationship, or includes bisexual or bi-curious women. For a some, part of that might well relate to political/feminist beliefs, and not have so much to do with whether they might otherwise enjoy the story.

    I’ve tried googling bisexual fiction and bisexual romance, and again and again I’m taken to publishers that publish gay and lesbian books (probably because of the way GLBT is used so often online, even when the focus is more specific than the full spectrum). I’ve found a couple of bi-male books at these publishers, but I haven’t come across any that were bi-female.

    And I’ve often wondered what would happen if I subbed to them–my books are all about sexual fluidity and though they don’t always include men in the mix, the female characters don’t identify as lesbians. They’re still attracted to men and open to being with them, even if they’re in love with a woman at the moment.

    So not only do I wonder if many lesbians would care to read them, I wonder if any lesbian presses would actually publish them–without major revisions that would require the characters to reject or deny half of their nature. Which makes me conclude that they can’t really be categorized as lesbian romance.

    I’ve read “gay for you” storylines in lesbian romance, and thought they were pretty plausible. But I think it’s really cool when people try reading things outside of what they’re familiar with.

    I do think they’re plausible, too. These things do happen in real life (though they don’t always last). And I think it’s cool to read outside one’s comfort zone, too. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to start reading lesbian romance. I mean, I just can’t imagine I’m going to be able to enjoy a genre of fiction that basically implies I either don’t exist, or I’m deluded or faking it or too stupid to see the truth when I insist I like both men and women. All of lesbian romance might not be like that, but the stuff I’ve read doesn’t seem to allow for any middle ground at all.

  82. M. A. wrote,

    Hi, everyone.

    Wow. This is a really interesting discussion, and I hate that I missed the “meaty part” of it.

    I write romance,including all types of pairings and groupings. I admit I prefer to write the stories as romances, not as special interests type books. In my m/f romances, a man and a woman meet and fall in love. In my m/m romances, a man and a man meet and fall in love. In my f/f romances, a woman and a woman meet and fall in love. In my menage romances, several people meet and establish various loving relationships.

    In a m/f romance, you wouldn’t see Miss Heroine getting all flustered and worried, “Oh no! I just kissed a guy! That makes me abnormal or something!” She might worry, “Oh WHY did I kiss Brad? He was such a jerk when he used to date my boss! And he likes it rough. I’m not into rough. Am I?”

    I want that same kind of intimacy and interest when I write a same sex pairing. It’s not that I don’t think GBLT couples or groups have unique challeneges in their relationships. However, as a straight female writer, I am more interested in focussing upon the similarities and the common grounds all loving, stable relationships have.

    Kirsten has made a lot of strong arguments regarding differentiation between “slash” fiction versus gay or lesbian fiction. I do believe she’s onto something here. I’m not looking to comment on the gay community, or the attitudes of non-gays towards the gay community. I’ve got no feminist agenda. I write love stories, and that’s it. I think my work probably qualifies as more “bisexual in nature” than anything else.

    I appreciate there are probably challenges related to

  83. rory wrote,

    Woah, fascinating thanks for sharing as I know zero really about bi women and what they want. I never thought bi women were undeclared lesbians, in fact after this discussion, it sounds to me like bi women hold to the traditional het power dynamic.
    This plus the presence of men;-) is probably what turns lesbians off m/f fiction. I used to be a voracious m/f reader but now having discovered les romance, I don’t have to substitute the girl for the guy, which is what we do.

    In romance I prefer a modern approach where being les is simply part of the scenery, I really don’t want the politics, subculture, If a woman had loved a man happily, that would be okay for me. But the romance has to be egalitarian, the D/s power dynamic is a total turn-off. So maybe this is the real deal-breaker for f/f. Ladies?

  84. M. A. wrote,

    “In romance I prefer a modern approach where being les is simply part of the scenery, I really don’t want the politics, subculture, If a woman had loved a man happily, that would be okay for me. But the romance has to be egalitarian, the D/s power dynamic is a total turn-off. So maybe this is the real deal-breaker for f/f. Ladies?”

    Rory, I agree with the ommission of the politics and subculture being ommitted. I have zero interest in writing about that, although I appreciate some readers do care about those aspects of GBLT relationships.

    Regarding D/s, I dunno that I interject a lot of D/s into my work or not. If it “works” for the characters it gets written. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t get written.

    When writing romance, I think writers need to keep in mind everybody’s idea of sexy and romantic is different.

  85. kirsten saell wrote,

    A D/s dynamic can be as simple as a sexually experienced woman seducing a more innocent one, and taking the lead in bed and in the relationship. In my own f/f WIPs, I definitely have one heroine who’s emotionally stronger and more confident, and another who’s more submissive and fragile. I think that definitely plays into my own preferences in real life. And I’ve also seen this dynamic in real life, with a cousin of mine who is definitely in the traditional “husband” role of her relationship, while her partner is very definitely the “wife”. Although I haven’t had the gonads to ask her who’s on top in bed, lol.

    And when I write f/f/m, the hero and primary heroine are virtually equal, or they have a shifting kind of dynamic where sometimes she’s on top and in charge, and sometimes he is. My heroes are occasionally beta, but most often a kind of alpha-but-not-exactly. They’re alpha, with qualifiers, because they’re okay with admitting their woman might be the better “man for the job” and letting her take the lead, even if she has to take on the more dangerous role in an endeavor.

    The second woman is there to gratify the part of the hero and primary heroine that they don’t gratify for each other, the urge to take care of someone, to be leaned on. Because the primary heroine is usually so self-sufficient and competent that she doesn’t need any looking after at all.

    IRL, I can’t respect a man who needs to be coddled at all, yet at the same time I have this innate urge to coddle and pamper someone. And IRL, I don’t like to be sexually dominant with men, but I do have a desire to be sexually dominant. So the secondary heroine really completes the relationship for me.

    And without exception (in my work), it’s the primary heroine who wants to bring the second woman into the relationship and she often has to convince a reluctant hero to go along with it. It’s her bisexuality that’s largely being served by the arrangement, although they all certainly get something out of it. It’s not some “two hot chicks seein’ to mah manly needs” straight guy fantasy.

    I will say it’s hard to write an alpha heroine (or female hero, as I’d call her), without her coming off as a hideous butch/bully. I’ve read some scenes with an almost totally overbearing alpha hero that I still found hot and emotionally gratifying, but when I rewrote them in my head and inserted a woman into the hero role–holy crap, did I want to smack her. So it’s a hard balance to strike between the masculine and the feminine. The female hero is the hardest character for me to write, and the most rewarding, really. And I’ve found from the feedback I’ve got from readers, they find her the most dynamic and engaging and memorable of my character types, too.

    All that said, I can enjoy a beta hero romance. It kind of hits me in a vulnerable place, though, and I have to be in the right mood. And BDSM doesn’t really turn me on (mostly I think because of the ritual nature of it and all the accouterments). But there does have to be some kind of power dynamic going on for me, whoever is on top, for there to be enough sexual and emotional tension to keep me reading.

    But I think most of all, what I find frustrating about lesbian romance, is that I don’t find women like me in it. I don’t find women who are bisexual, I don’t find women who are sexually fluid. It’s a narrow niche, and that’s cool. It’s just not for me. :)

  86. Emilie wrote,

    Rory,

    I don’t hold to a traditional het power dynamic at all. I like for all the kinds of romances I read to be egalitarian in the sense that both protagonists have different strengths and weaknesses, and both give support to the other. I’m perfectly happy when characters are versatile or “switch” in a same-sex relationship. I also like stories in which each character has a more strictly defined role, if there’s a reasonable rationale for it and it works for them. I don’t enjoy het BDSM stories, but I like some gay BDSM romances — ones in which the characters negotiate well with their partners, use safewords and check on how the sub is doing. The authors I like show the caring the characters have for each other in those situations.

    If I’m dating a guy, I’m really conflicted about seeming to claim “heterosexual privilege.” I certainly don’t feel heterosexual inside. Personally, I like androgynous guys and butch women, so either way I like the folks who aren’t really gender-conforming. But I want to work with them in a relationship, not have one person being in charge.

    So…my two cents

  87. kirsten saell wrote,

    OMG, I think I hit the record for # of times you can use the word “definitely” in one paragraph. Time for another beer.

  88. M. A. wrote,

    “But I think most of all, what I find frustrating about lesbian romance, is that I don’t find women like me in it. I don’t find women who are bisexual, I don’t find women who are sexually fluid. It’s a narrow niche, and that’s cool. It’s just not for me. :)”

    LOL. This is funny when you think of it. One of the most intriguing aspects of GBLT lifestyles is that they demonstrate just how fluid and varied sexuality can be. In a way, the concept of lesbian readers or gay readers wanting only gay/lesbian characters is not much different than het readers wanting only het characters.

    It’s fun to “color outside the lines.”

  89. rory wrote,

    Kirsten Emilie, M.A.;
    fascinating discussion. And I just remembered 2 bi romances, both pirate historicals;
    Branded Ann by Merry Shannon, one of the heroines was happily married & loved her husband. And
    ‘A Pirates Heart’ by Catherine Friend, lady pirate takes men to her bed & falls in love with a woman. I think both are Bold Strokes books. & there is no – ‘I realize I’m a lesbian type scene in it.’..maybe its a
    function of being a historical…….
    I’d love to know what you all think of Radclyffe, You can read her stuff for free at Academy of Bards

  90. kirsten saell wrote,

    I think perhaps I’ll try those two books out, Rory, thanks!

    I wonder, are either of them labeled as bi-romances? It occurs to me that if the characters are bi and a fair amount of the sex is bi, and it would appeal to a bi woman (because everyone likes characters they can relate to), the lesbian label might be preventing a lot of readers who might like it from giving it a go…

    And I’ll definitely try some Radclyffe if it’s free. I’m just so leery of paying small press prices for books if there’s a good chance it will be something I won’t love. :)

  91. rory wrote,

    Kirsten, oops there is little/minimal sex with the men.. Sorry if my remarks misled you. you can find female poly in the Erotica section. You have a great wide open market to cater to….I checked the Loose Id material and it’s not to my taste: erotica without the romance
    You’d probably be happier with Devyn Quinn’s series, there is a main m/f romance and the characters have poly relationships. Does bi = poly as the one bi woman of my acquaintance is indeed poly.
    here’s the link for free les lit: http://www.academyofbards.org/authors/
    Radclyffe writes suberbly about emotional connections

  92. kirsten saell wrote,

    You’d probably be happier with Devyn Quinn’s series, there is a main m/f romance and the characters have poly relationships. Does bi = poly as the one bi woman of my acquaintance is indeed poly.

    It’s frustrating because bi can coincide with poly, but bisexuals can and often do practice lifelong or serial monogamy. I’ll confess that a poly relationship really appeals to me, and would, I think, be the most fulfilling type of relationship possible for me (assuming I found the right people, of course), but I can and have been happy in monogamous relationships and have never felt a need to go outside them because something was “missing”. In my case, poly would be more a cream on the cake thing.

    As for female poly being in the erotica section, well, I need romance. I mean, I like erotica and will read it on occasion, but I do long to really connect and root for the protagonists and their HEA. I want the characters to be in love, no matter how many of them are in the mix. Of course, I like a lot of steamy sex along the way, too.

    I’d personally apply the term f/f or even bi-oriented for the books that you suggested, and it wouldn’t disappoint me if there wasn’t much or any m/f sex in them. I don’t necessarily need to see sex or love relationships with both men and women to be happy. I do, however, like to see characters like me.

    I like books where sexual fluidity is explored or at least appreciated, not frowned on or seen as a sign of promiscuity, or just…never addressed. And because of that, the majority of lesbian romance doesn’t appeal to me. That doesn’t mean I think the genre needs to change to suit me, either. Just that what it is isn’t what I want.

    It’s a genre label like Western or Fantasy. If cowboys and horses and dungarees and heroes who say stuff like “Howdy there, little lady” just don’t do it for me, I’m not going to consider buying a Western. If I associate lesbian romance with tropes that don’t work for me (or actively annoy me), I’m not going to find either of those pirate books, because I won’t even be looking for them. If they were called f/f, I’d at least consider the possibility that they might not contain those common lesfic tropes, and take a chance on them.

    So thanks for the rec. I can honestly say I’d never have bothered looking at them without it. :)

  93. JusticeisCheap wrote,

    Just have to say, I didn’t read through all of the comments but one thing that stuck out in those that I did read was the use of the phrase “lesbian sex.” I know it’s all semantics but there’s no such thing as “lesbian sex.” As a lesbian, whether I’m sexually active or not does not define my orientation–if I’m not sexually active I’m still a lesbian. Same thing with gay men. I know this is a discussion about romance, sex, etc. but the labels do nothing to educate those who have no idea what it’s like to be homosexual or bisexual. When focusing solely on the sexual aspects of same-sex relationships you denigrate the person you’re speaking about. I’m more than who I have sex with and *that’s* what makes me a lesbian.

    Great discussion I stumbled on trying to find an eReader for Mobi on Mac.

  94. TeddyPig wrote,

    I totally understand what you are saying and agree living as a Gay or Lesbian is a different story than a homosexual act in bed. The problem is in this argument when you have two men having sex that to me is Gay Sex. Two women, same thing Lesbian Sex. It is talking about a sex act from a distance without any more information and defining it and not about what a person internally identifies as so much.

    Men do that though we separate the sex we see from the underlying emotions so I am comfortable in saying even if two straight guys “do it” the sex act between them can reasonably be defined as Gay and I don’t feel I am putting myself down. Sex is just sex it does not disturb me to see it, to talk about it, or label my response to it for what it is.

  95. TeddyPig wrote,

    Oh and your software for reading Mobipocket or Microsoft Lit on OSX is Stanza by lexcycle… Free download go get it.

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