FRIEND FRIDAY: Brita Addams talks historical fiction #gayromance #FriendlyFriday @BritaAddams

Today I’m thrilled to welcome, Brita Addams to talk about why she writes historical fiction. I’m inspired to check out some more books from this genre where I only occasionally read, and I’ll definitely be reading Beloved Unmasked.

I started my writing adventure with Regency romance, because as a reader, I had immersed myself in ornate ballrooms, the smell of beeswax candles, and the hero’s relentless pursuit of his ladylove. They sold well and I kept writing, but my reading veered off that path when I read a book by Phillipa Gregory that contained a short but impactful scene between two men. I read the scene over and over, studying the nuances of their dance around each other, their reactions to emotions they’d hidden beneath marriages and children and responsibility and anger. They’d buried their passions and forsaken their true selves and sadly, had thought themselves happy.

I favor historical fiction in my reading, so writing it feels natural to me. I love researching the customs, the manners, the very idea that “way back when” was a more genteel time, though study has revealed something quite different, particularly for those born gay.

My last published book is Beloved Unmasked, and takes place in the early years of twentieth century New Orleans. As a Storyville prostitute’s son, Pic grows up in a sex-soaked brothel, amidst dissolution and abject ignorance. To rise above the only way of life Pic had known required more than his knowledge allowed. Throw in his budding attraction to men, and his life looked bleak.

Homosexuality was against the law, and into the late 19th century, was a hanging offence in many countries. Can you imagine men living what is natural to them under those circumstances? The fear often forced men into lives that were unnatural and even abhorrent to them. Or, like Oscar Wilde, cast their fortunes to the winds that blew them into jail.

For me, depiction of my characters requires reverence. I keep in mind, even before I write the story, what life in the era I’m writing must have been like for men like them. The underlying fears and rejection that would intrinsically be a part of their lives from their moment of revelation. The rebellion within them that festered and overflowed, perhaps into recklessness or sadly, conformity.

Gay men in history weren’t just products of their upbringing. They learned the signs of danger early, resulting in the need to hide and lie, to others and themselves. While they smiled at their fellows’ weddings, they faced questions about why, at their age, they weren’t married. They questioned the reason why their wayward glances focused on the neighbor boy and not the sister, their desires for the hunky longshoreman and not the petite blonde. With these thoughts came doubts—was something wrong with them? And more, wondered “why me?” Who could they talk to about such confusion? To be out and proud often meant death.

My characters face the world with these thoughts, though not being an angsty writer, I don’t have them gnashing teeth and wringing hands. They don’t speak openly at length about their obstacles gth, but instead instinctively act in a way that keeps them safe. I don’t write about gay bashing, but about my characters winning the day. They are products of their times, and are therefore aware of the dangers. They can’t afford naivete, though there is always the possibility that someone will expose them.

Here is the blurb for Beloved Unmasked.

Born in 1898 to a heartless prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, a name meaning “of little value” or as his mother reminds him, “nothing.”

In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a fortuitous meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.

As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. A telegram from the War Department deals a staggering blow and interrupts David’s pursuit of a law degree. He must gather his wits and move forward. While his future looks bright, specters from Storyville return.

The past holds both pain and love, and facing it head-on might destroy David or give him the freedom to live the life he has dreamed.

2016 winner of the Best Gay Historical and fifth runner up in Best Gay Book Rainbow Awards.

About Brita Addams

Born in a small town in upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband. All their children are grown.

A writer of both het and gay fiction/romance, Brita was proud to win a Rainbow Award in 2013 for her first gay romance in her Tarnished series, Tarnished Gold, in the Best Historical Romance category. The book also received nominations for Best Historical and Best Book of 2013 from the readers of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group. In 2016, Beloved Unmasked won for Best Historical Gay Romance and was fifth runner up in a field of over 400 entries, for Best Gay Book of 2016 in the annual Rainbow Awards.

Readers can find more information about Brita Addams on her website,



Fan page



Queeromance –


A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter.


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♬♬♬ Music ♬♬♬

I love the story in this one. Oh, and all the ab shots 😉

This is Never Know by Brandon Stansell


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Nic xx

♬♬♬ Music ♬♬♬

An oldie but a goodie 🙂

Ryan James Yezak presents the “Only Gay In The World” music video, a gay interpretation to Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In The World)”


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Nic xx

FRIEND FRIDAY: Dale Lowry talks about sign languages #gayromance #FriendlyFriday @DaleCLowry

Dale Lowry is my visitor this week, joining us with a really interesting post about sign languages, and the role sign language plays in their books. It’s a fascinating guest post. There’s also a discount code so make sure you take advantage! So over to Dale…


Thanks for having me on your blog today to talk about sign languages, Nic! This is one of my favorite topics. Heck, I even wrote a thesis on sign languages. And they keep popping up in my stories—in my recently released collection Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love, and again in my erotic short story “What Marriage Is About,” which appears in the Sexy Little Pages anthology Silence is Golden. (Both are on discount at Smashwords through March 11 when you use the coupon code found on the books’ info pages in the Smashwords store.)

Before talking about how I include sign languages in my stories, I want to offer a little background in the form of common questions that people have about sign languages and deafness.

What is a sign language?
A sign language is a language that primarily uses the hands and visual cues to convey meaning. Like spoken languages, natural sign languages have evolved over time as they were used in everyday conversations by groups of people. They have words and grammar, and some have standardized writing systems.

Is sign language the same around the world?
No. Someone who knows American Sign Language will not understand British Sign Language (or French Sign Language or Australian Sign Language or Japanese Sign Language …) without studying, and vice versa. Ethnologue, an encyclopedic directory of the world’s languages, lists 142 sign languages around the world.

Who uses sign language?
Sign languages have tended to develop wherever there are groups of deaf people. But anyone who encounters a sign language on a regular basis is likely to pick up at least some of it up. At least one sign language developed among users who were mostly hearing (though it has also been used by the deaf): Plains Indian Sign Language of North America.

So sign languages are all about the hands, right?
Although people often think of signed languages as “languages of the hands,” other parts of the body play a role in forming words as well. In American Sign Language, for example, the most-often used words for “man” and “woman” have the same hand shape. The only difference in the words is where the hands make contact with the face, which you can see in the first few seconds of this video (turn captions ON for English translation):

Also, facial expression can convey meaning. In ASL, people raise their eyebrows when asking a yes/no question like “Did you go to the store?” and lower their eyebrows when asking a who-what-where-why-how question like, “Where is the store?” In Nederlandse Gebarentaal (NGL, or Dutch Sign Language), raised eyebrows are used for all questions. This difference leads to a small miscommunication between a Dutch signer and an American signer in my story “Reading the Signs.”

Writing about sign languages

Writing about characters who use sign language gets complicated. Writing systems for signed languages exist, but they aren’t standardized and most aren’t based on the alphabet used by English. So I can’t just drop snippets of sign languages into a story the way I might with Spanish or German. Any signed dialogue has to be translated into English, though I try to convey something about the language itself by describing some of the movements and expressions involved. For example, this is how I described a snippet of conversation between the two main characters in my story “Reading the Signs,” featured in Falling Hard:

“How do you say ‘what’ in Dutch Sign Language?” Alfonso asked one afternoon as they finished their desserts at the I Scream Ice Cream parlor.

Theo, satisfyingly full of coffee-and-salted-caramel ice cream, raised his eyebrows, lifted his index finger, and waggled it back and forth.

“And ‘where’?”

Theo raised his eyebrows and held out both hands, fingers spread apart and palms facing upward. He moved them toward each other and then apart.

In this snippet from “What Marriage is About” from Silence is Golden, the description isn’t as detailed but still conveys a little bit about the language:

Ed used the old-fashioned form of I love you, the one that required three words and two hands, and looked like the German Sign Language words he’d grown up with.

The two stories in Falling Hard involving sign languages are “Pacific Rimming” and “Reading the Signs.” The narrator of “Pacific Rimming,” Mike, is a professional sign language interpreter who offers translation services between English and American Sign Language. He’s a hearing child of Deaf parents, which is often abbreviated as CODA (for “Child of Deaf Adults”) and started learning ASL before English. His husband, Ken, is Deaf and began signing as a teenager. While on vacation in Western Canada, they meet a younger man who’s been teaching himself ASL—and fall in love. (ASL is spoken in the United States and most of Canada.)

“Reading the Signs” is a little more complicated. The main character, Theo, is Dutch and grew up speaking one of the main dialects of Nederlandse Gebarentaal with his Deaf parents. A masters’ student, he comes to the United States for a summer linguistics institute with a focus on signed languages. He has few problems adapting to English, which he’s studied for years in school, but has a bit of trouble with American Sign Language. Meanwhile, he develops a crush on an older man whose main languages are—in no particular order—English, Spanish, American Sign Language, Nicaraguan Sign Language (also known as ISN for “Idioma de Señas de Nicaragua”), and a bit of Yiddish and Hebrew besides. Talk about a potential for communication problems!

My story in Silence Is Golden focuses on a Deaf married couple, and a major conflict in the story arises from the hostility that some Deaf people have faced when using sign language. Ed’s past includes abuse at the hands of his teachers and parents, who tied his hands together to keep him from signing. So when his husband, Darren, blurts out that he wants to experiment with bondage and domination (BDSM), Ed flips out. While it all works out there, it takes a lot of communication to get there—mostly in American Sign Language, but German Sign Language (DGS, or Deutsche Gebärdensprache) also makes a brief appearance in the story. Apparently I like to write about multinational couples.

Learning sign languages

Interested in learning a sign language or two? Like any language, the best way is to learn in person from fluent speakers. But if that’s not possible, or if you’re looking for extra practice, the internet has made learning easier than ever. The following are a few resources I have used to learn about various sign languages, but you can also find tons more through the amazing Google. Just keep in mind that the best resources are those that teach grammar (how to put sentences together) in addition to vocabulary. Sign language grammars are different from those of spoken languages, so you can’t just string the words together the way you would in English, for example. If you do this, signers will have a hard time understanding you.

American Sign Language

My favorite free resources for American Sign Language are and Sign School. LifePrint has an enormous amount of information—so much that it can be hard to figure out where to start. I recommend searching for “ASL Lessons” on the home page and starting with #1. You will have an easier time with the lessons if you are able to keep multiple tabs open. This will let you easily switch back and forth between lesson plans and vocabulary videos.

Sign School’s website is easier to navigate, and it also has an app that works on many phones. A feature that I really like is the “Sign of the Day.” You can sign up to get an email each day with a new sign. The downside of Sign School is that the free version has fewer lessons than LifePrint’s free version.

There are also tons of apps for ASL, but none of them work very well on my Samsung Galaxy S5, so I can’t tell you much about them.

Dutch Sign Language (NGT, Nederlandse Gebarentaal)

I’m no expert in Nederlandse Gebarentaal, but I can recommend a dictionary app that was very helpful when I was writing “Reading the Signs”: Leren Gebarentaal. All translations are to Dutch, so you need to know Dutch or have Google Translate handy. Its associated website is, which has free lessons (mostly limited vocabulary) as well as paid courses.

German Sign Language (DGS, Deutsche Gebärdensprache)

Deutsche Gebärdensprache is spoken in Germany and part of Belgium. (Austria and Switzerland use different sign languages.) Like most spoken languages, German Sign Language has several distinctive dialects that vary with geography. However, this can be more pronounced in Germany because of its previous separation into two countries and educational systems.

GebärdenLernen offers a free course that progresses the learner through the vocabulary and grammar of the Berlin dialect. The first few lessons are heavy on the vocabulary, with grammar being more heavily incorporated later on. You can also download a dictionary app to your phone: Deutsche Gebärdensprache Wörterbuch.

British Sign Language (BSL)

Honestly, I find British Sign Language a bit baffling, so I went to The Limping Chicken, a popular UK deaf blog. There, I browsed some of the links, and for free online offerings I was most impressed with Sign World (it also has a paid version). What I found it really interesting about Sign World is that its vocabulary lessons show speakers from all over the United Kingdom signing the word in question. So if you live in Cardiff (or are doing to move to Cardiff), you can study the way the Cardiff signer says something. It’s like studying America English and learning to say “soda” on the East Coast, “pop” in parts of the Midwest, and “Coke” in the South.

Note: Don’t forget to turn on the video captions, or you’ll be mightily confused!

Auslan (Australian Sign Language)

Since Nic is Australian, it would be a shame not to mention Auslan in this article. Auslan is related to the British Sign Language that immigrants brought to the continent, but has changed a lot over the years and is now a separate language. I spent a little time with Sign Online, an introductory Auslan course, and found it to be fun and easy to follow. Word junkies and intermediate-to-advanced students of Auslan can expand their vocabulary at the Auslan Signbank, a collaborative online English-Auslan dictionary.


In spite of that thesis I wrote, I’m hardly the world’s leading expert in sign languages. To learn about the sign language(s) of your country, your best bet is to spend time with Deaf people and take courses offered by fluent signers. But I love talking about them and sharing what I’ve learned with others, so feel free to ask questions in the comment section or contact me through social media. I also have a Pinterest board where I keep track of cool stuff related to sign languages and deafness. Feel free to check it out or follow!

And last but not least, you may have noticed that throughout this article, I sometimes wrote “deaf” and other times wrote “Deaf.” What’s the difference? Lowercase “deaf” refers to the level of a person’s hearing; uppercase “Deaf” refers to a person’s culture, indicating someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and uses a sign language as their preferred form of communication.

About Dale Cameron Lowry

Dale Cameron Lowry is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love, and a contributor to numerous fiction anthologies, including Silence Is Golden. When not writing, Dale enjoys mending socks destroyed by the fabric-eating cat in charge of the Lowry household, as well as wasting time on Tumblr, listening to podcasts, studying anatomy, getting annoyed at Duolingo, and reading fairy tales. Previous careers include sign language linguist, grocery store clerk, journalist, gardener, and camp counselor.


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FRIEND FRIDAY: An interview with RJ Jones #gayromance #FriendlyFriday @rjjonesauthor

RJ Jones is on tour and today she’s joining me to answer a few questions. Welcome, RJ.

Firstly, congratulations on the new release. The book sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to read it. Just kidding! 🙂  I had the privilege of beta reading an early copy and really enjoyed getting to know Scott and Ben.

Aww, shucks *blushes

When you started writing the Love for the Seasons series, did you always know this story would be told or did the series evolve after you’d written the first book?

I never intended to write Scott’s story. I didn’t like him to begin with and I gave him an intense job because I didn’t want to do the research needed to actually write his story. But it only takes one person to say “Hey, I want Scott’s story!” to put the plot bunny in place. Now I know why Scott acted the way he did, he’s one of my favourite characters. It seems I also have a penchant for redeeming bad boys. Who knew!

Scott or Ben? Does one of the characters have a special place in your heart?

As wonderful and caring as Ben is, it would have to be Scott. He’s passionate and intense as a doctor but he’s had so many hurdles to overcome. It was a great pleasure getting to know him and finding out what made him tick.

You’re Australian but this series is set in the UK and your Out of the Blue series is set in the USA. What drives your choice of location for each book you write? Will your readers see something set in Australia soon?

I always try and pick locations that I’ve been to so I have a sense of place, but generally the characters will tell me where they’re from. I have a story in mind that is set in Boston, which I’ve never been to, so I don’t know how that will work out. I’ve tried to set it elsewhere but my MC is pretty insistent. That being said, I have a story set in Australia called Solid Rock that will be out later this year. It will be my first story set in Aus, but probably not my last.

If you had to pick one song to represent As the Sun Sets, what would it be?

I’m With You by Avril Lavigne. I imagine this is Scott being confused and hurt, trying to find his way before he meets Ben.

Please share an interesting fact your readers may not know about you.

Geez. That depends on your idea of interesting. Umm… My dog, Baxter, needs regular grooming as his hair gets too long. I try and save money by shaving him myself but he always ends up looking lopsided, scruffy and a bit of a mess. I don’t think he cares though. As long has he’s comfortable in the heat, I don’t mind what he looks like. 🙂

Tell us about your current work in progress.

Solid Rock is based in Australia, mainly around Uluru and Alice Springs with a few scenes set in Perth. James is an English lad whose estranged father dies and leaves his ashes for James to scatter at Uluru. James thinks he can go to the centre of Australia, release the ashes and leave, but that’s until he discovers there more to the red centre than just a big hunk of rock. Is that enough of a tease?

Fast Five…

  1. Shower or bath? Both depending on what mood I’m in. I have a spa so that’s always great on a winter’s day.
  2. Favourite movie: Ever After. It’s an adaptation of Cinderella with Drew Barrymore. Absolute fav!
  3. Sweet or savory? Sweet, but probably both at a pinch.
  4. Adam Ramzi or Tayte Hanson? Okay, I had to go and look these two up as I had no idea who they were. They’re both cute and Adam rocks the badboy image with his dark looks. Tayte looks too young for me so I’d have to say Adam. I’m going to have to go look at some of their vids now.
  5. Favourite pastime when not reading or writing: You mean there’s other things to do? Who knew? Probably eating and hanging out with my bestie when she’s in town. She makes eating a spiritual experience 🙂 (She sounds wonderful. I’d hang onto her if I were you ~ Nic 😉 )


 A sea change could be just what the doctor ordered.

Doctor Scott Penney used to be a Paediatric Oncologist—until he burned out. Watching children suffer and die took its toll on his mental health. To cope, he used anonymous sex as an emotional crutch, thinking it was better than hitting the bottle. But that inevitably destroyed his relationship with the man he loved.

With his tail between his legs and a year’s worth of celibacy under his belt, Scott accepts a position as an Accident and Emergency consultant, leaving his career in oncology and London behind.

Ben Jenkins is a paediatric nurse who loves his seaside city, his job, and his faithful old Labrador, Happy. When he meets the new doctor, Ben falls for Scott’s kind-yet-reserved personality—not to mention his good looks. Scott is great with the children who come through the hospital, but Ben senses there’s more to Scott than meets the eye.

Scott tries to resist Ben’s sunny charm—Scott’s not boyfriend material, after all—but it’s impossible not to fall in love with the sad looking old dog and his charming owner. As Scott and Ben get closer and the weather heats up, tragedy strikes and Ben is left wondering how much of Scott’s history he actually knows.

For them to move forward, Ben must show Scott that no matter what happened in the past, a beautiful day can always start after the sun sets.

**This can be read as a standalone**

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About the author

RJ started as a reader and eventually made the progression to reviewing. It wasn’t until two men popped into her thoughts, insisting on telling her their story that she started to write. It started with one scene. A hot and dirty one in the shower.

RJ’s initial thought was if she could write their scene then they’d shut up and allow her to concentrate on other aspects of the day. That shower scene was 3000 words long and three hours of work.  But they didn’t shut up.  They told her their entire story and she didn’t sleep for days.  Sometimes she couldn’t keep up with what they were telling her and she had to keep a notebook by the bed.

Whilst RJ was writing their story a side character decided he needed his story told too. Then other characters followed suit.

You see the problem? If RJ ever wants to sleep again then she needs to write.

RJ is a wife and a mother to two boys. Even her dog is a boy.

She is surrounded by males.

RJ writes emotionally charged, character driven romances. Her guys will always get their HEA, but it will never be easy.

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♬♬♬ #MusicMonday ♬♬♬



This is the latest song from Jeb Havens. It’s called Pushy Little Compass Heart. I love this video clip which was filmed over the course of a 5 day hike in New Zealand – great song and beautiful scenery.


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