Feature Friday, RJ Scott, MM Romance

It All Began with a Book

Thanks so much to my host RJ Scott for inviting me here today to take up a bit of her digital space. It's always a little weird to be on this side of the blogging table. Thankfully (for you), I’m not invited to do it often. Being asked to come up with a post to share now makes me want to apologize profusely to everyone I've ever asked to write something for me. It’s not as easy as it sounds ::apologizes:: The prompt helped, though, so here it is: Why I do what I do.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who read a book… Back in early 2010, to be exact. I actually read a lot of books that year (as one does, amiright?), but this particular book was something special. Browsing Amazon, on a mission to find my next great read, I came across a recommendation on my page. That rec was for a book called Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville, from a new little publisher you may have heard of—Dreamspinner Press. Why I chose to give that particular book a chance, I don't know. Why it even ended up in my recs is a mere mystery of the Zon's algorithmic gods. But, I ended up falling in love with it, and even if I can't declare it the best LGBTQ book I've ever read, it was the first book I'd read with a romantic story arc between two men, and from it, from that one little book, my life veered off on an unexpected course.

I've been asked why I read what I read, what is it about LGBTQ+ fiction and romance that draws me, a straight ciswoman, in, book after book, year after year? Honest answer: I don't know the answer to that question. Why do we love any book, irrespective of its genre? That's like asking me why I chose to fall in love. It wasn't a conscious choice at all; it just happened through some inexplicable mix of chemistry and karma and chance. What I do know is that I love books in which people are imperfect, vulnerable to their own feelings, impacted by their own choices as well as through the twists of fate that are beyond the control of human influence. I love that words are magic, and I believe wholeheartedly in representation, that diversity in fiction matters—in sexual orientation, in gender/non-gender specific roles, in ethnicity and belief systems, and it especially matters for kids. Everyone who loves to read deserves to see characters who are like them, heroes and heroines who find their truth and their path to acceptance of self, and of hope for their future whether the setting is historical, contemporary, sci-fi or speculative fiction. What I can say for myself is that reading diverse books has taught me so much about our capacity to see the world with a compassionate eye, through the lens of other's experiences. It has broadened my limited perspective and introduced me to people I love and admire, friends I never would have met otherwise. It’s why, when I find books in which parents accept their kids without prejudice and love them without conditions, I can see my own kids and myself in that story.

2018 will mark my eighth year as a blogger/reviewer, which means, at some point, I should probably have my head examined (this being the least of reasons). The Novel Approach is the third review site I've been involved with—the first I've owned outright—and it just turned six years old in December. It's a project I'm so proud of, something I created and built from the ground up, but let me tell you, I couldn't maintain it without the help of my brilliant team of reviewers. With their unwavering support, we provide some sixty to seventy reviews every month, which may not seem like so many, but it equates to a lot of reading and writing hours, not to mention formatting and posting hours on the back end. And, of course, we also have the pleasure of hosting authors who stop by to chat about their latest book releases, which is always a treat. It’s a busy place.

I've often said that blogging is a labor of love (if I didn't say that, then I'd have to confess to being a little bit crazy), but it’s true. I do it for the love of the community, and strive to be a productive member here. How much longer I'll do this, I don't know. When it's not fun anymore, I reckon. I haven't got there quite yet, though, so I live to blog another day.

The Novel Approach, Lisa Horan

If you'd like to visit The Novel Approach, here’s the LINK to the site. Take a look around; I love a visit from fellow bookworms! Also feel free to follow/friend me on Facebook (Blog Page/Personal Page), Twitter, and Tumblr, but do beware of silly memes and sometimes politics. What can I say? I’m a rebel who likes puppies and sarcasm.

Happy New Year, everyone! May we all strive to make 2018 count for the good. <3