Tag Archives: Smithsonian Heritage Month

SAPAHM Encore Guest Eilis Flynn Celebrates a Festival of Stars in a Year of Diversity

Hi friends! I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Eilis Flynn to ALBTALBS!! For once I didn’t include any of her other book covers because I think the focus is as it should be – on Festival of Stars and I hope you’ll find a new book to love. (I’m also super excited to have this little visit back to APAHM.) I love fairy tales and twisted fairy tales! <3 

Celebrating a festival of stars in a year of diversity

By Eilis Flynn

Like the fairy tales that kids in Western culture grow up reading and hearing about, the story of the festival of stars is one that kids all over Asia know. The annual meeting of the Weaver Princess and the Cowherder—that’s the version I knew when I was a kid growing up in Japan; you’ll find it under several different names—is a wonderful, tragic, yet hopeful love story, and I always wanted to adapt it to modern, American times. It goes like this: The princess and the cowherder meet one day, and fall in love. But because they neglect their duties in their devotion to each other, the Celestial King rules that they must be separated, with only one chance a year to get together. This is the “romance of the Milky Way,” the Tanabata, as the ancient Japanese poems refer to it, the Festival of Stars.

That kind of love is universal, and it speaks to us all, I figured. Right? So I wrote it.

When this book was originally published in 2007, it was the book of my heart, allowing me to retell the story of what I had always regarded as the ultimate romance, but set in the United States of contemporary times, taken from the Japanese folktales with which I had grown up. But I ran into a road block when I was told, and told again, that the majority of readers wouldn’t be able to relate to it because of its theme of biracialism and bigotry. Editors to whom I submitted it literally told me that Asians didn’t read (which surprised the heck out of me and possibly to the billion literate Asians out there) and thus would have no interest. In any case, when I did sell it, despite decent reviews the book sold poorly, so when I eventually got the rights to it back, I laid the book to rest, assuming it would never see the light of day again. Continue reading

SHM Pride Guest Author: Motzie Dapul on Creating the Content I Want to See in the World

We are so excited to have so many new guests to ALBTALBS for Pride month this year! Today author Motzie Dapul joins us with a beautiful post discussing two LGBTQ+ stories she has written. I’m a huge fan of romance and of comics, so when the two are combined you can’t pull me away! Please give Motzie a warm welcome! 

Creating the Content I Want to See in the World

It’s a bit odd to be talking about one’s own work when it comes to Pride, but a lot of great LGBTQ+ stories come from authors who, unable to find the kind of content they want to see in the world, create their own.

Start Here short story anthology edited by Ronald Lim and Brigitte Bautista book cover In the case of my own stories and comics, there was a list I found myself ticking off, of stories I’ve never seen in media, even in LGBTQ+ media, that I decided to create for myself. One of these things was the presence of the lesser known queer identities beyond lesbian and gay, which pushed me into writing a story between a pansexual woman and a non-binary person. Another of these things is something that’s becoming more frequently seen in media lately (in the year of our lord “20GayTeen”) is genre fiction with LGBTQ+ characters.

Which brings me to two of my works, putting F/F and F/NB fiction front and centre: Gorgeous, from the short story anthology Start Here: Short Stories of First Encounters, and BEHKomiks, a Filipino supernatural, urban-fantasy, action comics series centering on Filipino LGBTQ+ characters and their monstrous romantic partners. Continue reading

SHM Pride Guest Author: Alyssa Linn Palmer on Alberta’s GLBTQ2S+ History, and Me

We continue our Pride Month posts by welcoming another first time guest Alyssa Linn Palmer. I’m especially excited to welcome Alyssa because she’s Canadian, as am I, even though I live in the States these days. Welcome, Alyssa, it’s great to have you here!

Alberta’s GLBTQ2S+ History, and Me

Two young children on a tricycle, one on the seat, one on the handlebars

The author before she knew how life would change

There were times when I thought that nothing would ever change.

I knew I was bisexual from quite a young age, but until I was a teenager, I didn’t have the words to articulate it. And even then, given the homophobia prevalent in the early 1990s (the Calgary Pride Parade began in 1990 and some marchers wore paper bags over their heads so they wouldn’t be identified), those words stayed silent inside me. A few very close friends knew, but that was it.

One of the first things I remember about GLBTQ in the news was in 1991, when Alberta teacher Delwin Vriend was fired by a Christian college he worked at, just because he was gay. He tried to take his case to the Alberta Human Rights Commission, but he was turned away because at that time, sexual orientation wasn’t protected under the province’s human rights code. He sued the government and the commission, and won. And then on appeal, because the provincial government was staunchly anti-gay, the appeals court overturned the decision. Vriend took the case to the Supreme Court, and that court finally ruled in 1998 that governments could not exclude people from human rights legislation based on their sexual orientation. This change was “written in” to the province’s human rights legislation at the time. Continue reading

SHM Pride Guest: Adriana Herrera on Who Runs in Your Pride

Adriana Herrera is our second Pride guest for 2018 and a first time guest on ALBTALBS! Adriana is an author and one of the co-founders of the Queer Romance Authors of Color Community Page, an amazing resource for authors and readers alike. If you haven’t visited this website, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so! 

Who Runs in Your Pride?

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde is one of my role models. She was a queer, black woman, and a poet, and I often look to her writings for comfort. I’ve been thinking about those words a lot in the past few weeks, and how they relate to this month when we celebrate Pride.

So what does that have to do with LGBTQIA+ romance?

In my opinion, a lot.  I love the idea of Pride. That the LGBTQIA+ community has fought and forged for space where we can march and celebrate who we are in our terms. I love that pride means, satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, and how for those of us who at times may have struggled with who we were, we can now we can come to celebrate our community, with pride.  I particularly love that pride is also the word for a pack of lions who run together. There is something so right and beautiful about the image of our community being able to running together, fiercely and proudly. Continue reading

SHM Pride Guest: Tamsen Parker on The Power of the Female Default

Hi friends! I’m super excited to welcome our first Pride guest author of 2018, Tamsen Parker! A new friend to ALBTALBS, so please welcome another first timer with a fabulous post!

The Power of the Female Default: Why I Love F/F Sports Romance

Fire on the Ice by Tamsen Parker Book CoverI went to an all girls high school, and one of the best things about being at an all-female school was that all the resources were devoted to us. Classrooms and the dedication of our teachers, but also both of the gyms, the theater, all of the squash courts and tennis courts, the classrooms, and the weight room were for women. They were women’s spaces that centered women’s effort and accomplishments.

The romance genre is also a space that centers women. As a genre that is written primarily by and for women, it centers the pleasure, agency, and voices of women in a way that most genres do not.

When the worlds of sports and romance combine, it can sometimes be jarring to find most of the books in the popular subgenre of sports romance dominated by male athletes, especially those hitting the tops of the charts. Which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising. The big money sports—both professional and at the college level—feature primarily men. That’s where the money and the media and the fame are weighted. But still… Isn’t this a space for women? Why do so few sports romances feature female athletes? Continue reading

SHM: Pride!

Hello my darlings! You might have questions. Lime! WTF are these letters? And abbreviations? I hope to always have new visitors to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet (ALBTALBS) – and of course old ones. [I SEE YOU, THE FEW LOVELY AMAZING PEOPLE WHO HAVE STUCK WITH ME, IN THIS DYING WORLD OF BLOGGING <3] … That’s literally a whole other topic though that I’m not trying to use to take over this subject.

OK! So! SHM = Smithsonian Heritage Month. Which as I addressed last year isn’t technically a Smithsonian or whatever month but, you know. When it’s important, it’s important.

It’s kind of crazy a little over a decade ago there were arguments in Romanceland whether or not M/M romances (and other LGBTQI+ stories) were romances or not. (Or whether or not erotic romance was romance … which I’m including to more show “yes it’s ridiculous people even tried to make these arguments.”)

ANYWAY! I know there is a very large and very active M/M romance community. One point I see a lot is “why say it’s LGBTQI+ romance if the only ones being discussed are M/M?” and I think that’s extremely valid, so this year I tried to focus on F/F romances, while of course also opening all of SHM to everybody. (As is how we operate.) … Am I even making sense?

I hope you also check out posts from last year, with a number of authors who not only are own voices, but also write a variety of LGBTQI+ romances.

I’m always interested in knowing also – do you have an LGBTQI+ romance authors to recommend? Have a favorite book? Is there an author I should try to have guest?

Thank you for joining us this month, and I hope you discover a number of wonderful new authors to read! <3 (As well as subjects to consider. I know so many of these SHM posts have hit me, and often made me shed a tear.)

SHM APAHM: Empresses in the Palace

This is my attempt to get you all to WATCH. THIS. SERIES!!!!!!!!! (Also for the Amazon/series image they decided to use … I kinda feel like someone there doesn’t like Susan Sun because that is like … the least flattering image I’ve ever seen of her ever. So. Empresses in the Palace. 後宮·甄嬛傳.

Empresses in the Palace PosterSet in 1722 during the Qing Dynasty, sweeping drama Empresses in the Palace is an epic tale of love, betrayal and scandal told from inside the Imperial Harem – the story of one emperor and his countless women. In a world filled with treachery and corruption, who will truly win the Emperor’s heart and reign supreme? In Mandarin with English subtitles.*

So. Empresses in the Palace. While not as big in the Western world (at least not in the states), this period drama exploded in Asia. It started out as what I’d say is original fanfic. (Remember that section of ff.net back in the day and the like?) It became a television series that first aired in November of 2011. I want to say it showed up on Amazon some time in 2016. There had been word that HBO bought the American rights and was going to distribute it in 2014, and was set to air in December of 2015. I have no idea what happened with studio drama but … here we are. You can either buy the episodes or “series” on Amazon, or watch it free if you have a Prime membership.

First of all, it’s an amazing series. The costuming, the acting, the set … it’s all gorgeous. As you can see.

SAPAHM Guest: Hudson Lin’s “Rambling Treatise on Identity, Diversity, and Why I Write East Asian Characters”

My friends. This post. Please read it – and … I don’t usually say this, but please share it. Hudson Lin is a first time guest at ALBTALBS, and (definitely) hopefully will be willing to guest again. I have nothing to say other than … please read and share

Rambling Treatise on Identity, Diversity, and Why I Write East Asian Characters

By Hudson Lin

Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin CoverI am Canadian. I am Taiwanese. I am Chinese. That’s typically the order in which I would identify myself, but that can change depending on the situation. Sometimes I’m all of them, sometimes I’m a particular combination of two to the exclusion of the third. It’s always complicated and never easy to explain.

My racial and cultural identity is something I’ve wrestled with my entire life, but it had never inserted itself into my writing. All the stories floating around in my head were about white people and I never thought there was anything wrong with that.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled my way into the writing community and realized that diversity was a thing, and not only a thing but something that was being championed. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon stories with characters who looked like me, written by authors who looked like me. Huh. That’s new.

Until recently, 100% of the romances I read were about white people, written by white people. I didn’t know romances existed that featured people of color, or that there were authors of color writing them. I didn’t know that was allowed. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Nicole Flockton Discussses the Haka

Hi friends! This year’s APAHM celebration has been pretty heavily focused in the Pacific, and I’m loving it! I’m also really pleased to welcome back ALBTALBS friend Nicole Flockton – many kudos to her for stepping in on a Heritage Month post, and with this little slice of [close to] home. <3

The Haka in Sport

When you’re the youngest of four children, and with only one brother, your family tends to follow the sports said brother plays. Even though my brother never played Rugby, it’s a sport and if it was on the television, we watched it as a family. I’m going to show my age here, but this was back in the day when in Perth, Western Australia you had a choice of three television channels. Plus when what your parents wanted to watch—that’s what you watched too. No cable or second television in another room to escape into and watch what you want.

The rivalry between Australia and our cross Tasman foes New Zealand, is legendary. Google “Underarm Bowling Incident 1981” and you’ll understand. Actually, if you want to start a good argument between the Aussies and the Kiwis that’s a sure fire way to get one started. Even after all these years! Continue reading

SAPAHM Review: Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
Contemporary romance released by Jackie Lau Books on May 22, 2018

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau Book CoverI’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book. Alone. I like my reclusive life. That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer.

I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful. She also means everything to her brother. But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…

I read this book very quickly, and found both Will and Naomi to be sympathetic, although after a while some of the themes became repetitive. Will is a science fiction writer with a Ph.D. in physics, who is on the extreme end of introverted, and can be a little obtuse when it comes to social interactions. Naomi is Will’s best friend’s youngest sister. She’s an event planner, and bubbly—but not in an everyone-must-be-bubbly-like-me way. This is a forced proximity kind of romance, with a mini road trip thrown in for good measure. I say mini, because in my part of the world, it might take 3 hours to get across the city, if the traffic is particularly awful. Naomi is sweet, has had a crush on Will before and still finds him attractive, but is still processing her breakup with a prior boyfriend when the book begins; Will has a history of people wanting to change his way of interacting with the world, hence the “grumpy” descriptive. And yes, a fake relationship is orchestrated. Will learns that putting himself out there a little more isn’t all bad, and both Will and Naomi learn the importance of being with someone that likes you for who you are makes you be a better person. Continue reading