Finding my labels: on my experience figuring out I’m aroace

I believe we can learn a lot from listening to each other, so when I learnt about ASpec April I offered to write a post to share my experience with figuring myself out.

First, let me introduce myself. My Name is Laura, and I’m asexual and aromantic. I’m also a writer of queer romance. And last but not least, I’m Spanish.

The first time I saw the word asexual was in fanfic. And I think I was lucky enough to be able to read in English, because until two years ago, I hadn’t ever heard the word asexual in a Spanish conversation. It’s still pretty unknown in Spain, except for very specific queer circles. To give you an example: two years ago I was studying for a masters in teaching, and I offered to do a presentation on queer identities since none of our teachers had even mentioned them. Out of a 70 people class, no one but two people had ever heard about asexuality or aromanticism, and I had been the one who had talked about asexuality with them before.

Up until I was 27 years old, I didn’t have that word to describe myself. I never knew why I was different. Conversations about sex made me uncomfortable. I could joke about it, when it wasn’t personal, but conversations about the sex my friends were having made me feel weird and like I wanted to hide under the table. My friends thought I was a prude and they would tease me about it, which let me tell you, didn’t feel great.

But still, I didn’t think the word asexual could apply to me. Not until I first saw and interview and someone talked about being autochorissexual. Because that label, that one was exactly me. That one described exactly how I felt. Everything around me shook and it felt like sliding into a well-worn jumper: warm and soft. Because I was not alone, there were more people who felt like I did, I wasn’t just “weird”. Ever since then, I have worn that label with pride.

But it wasn’t until two years later that another label surprised me, that I felt I could also identify as aromantic. Because I do like the idea of romance: I love reading romance novels, and writing them. And I love the idea of having that close relationship with something, of having that *someone*. But I examined how I really felt, and while I did love that idea, I had never felt romantic attraction towards anyone. So there I was, 29 years old and identifying as aroace. And everything clicked into place.

And you know what? I’m almost 31 years old now, and I have an amazing partner in life and in crime. I love him to death, I am just not in love with him. And I couldn’t be happier.

My 2018: a year of ups and downs.

It’s the last day of the year, and I’ve been debating forever whether I should write one of these posts or not. As you can see, I finally decided to write one.

This year has been a bit of a wild ride for me, I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, it feels as if I haven’t written as much as I should have, but thinking it over, I think it’s been a pretty good one.

On the writing front, I felt like I hadn’t accomplished much: I only published a novelette and wrote and submitted a novella. But you know what? Those were still a big win. My novelette, No Rulebook for Flirting, made it into the Top 10 Gay Romance anthology published by JMS Books. It’s probably my favourite story I’ve ever written, I love the characters, and making it into a Top 10 with this story, which has a trans main character, it’s one of the biggest wins in my career as an author so far.

When it comes to the other story I wrote, Waking Up the Sun, I’m very proud of it. It’ll be published with Nine Star Press next year. I’ve been editing it lately, and even though it’s the tenth time I look over these words I still love them. It’s a Basque mythology inspired story and it’s very dear to my heart. My beta readers liked it, and one of them suggested I make it into a full series, with every book inspired by different myths and legends, which I thought was an amazing idea and it’s unleashed a reasearch book shopping spree. So that’s something to look forward to in the new year.

On a more personal level, although I still strugged with my mental health and had some very dark weeks, it’s been a good year. I’ve travelled, I’ve learned new things, I’ve started a new and healthier lifestyle, and I got engaged.

I visited Córdoba in April, and I travelled twice to the UK, on my own, beating my anxiety and having an amazing time both times. I met online friends in person, some again, and some for the first time, and they all give amazing hugs.

I studied a literary translation course, finding along the way how much I would love to make of translation my profession. So much so that I’ve started studying a professional translation course, which again is something to look forward to in the new year.

I’ve also started exercising and changing my eating habits for more healthy food. And I’ve already lost 15 kilos, the first of many more to come. I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve fully grasped how much I’ve improved since May, but I have noticed how good exercise has been for my mental health. It’s helped me a lot.

As for the engagement, while some people still don’t believe it, I’m looking forward to the start of a new life with my partner. And honestly? Seeing my mum’s friend’s face when I told her I do have a partner was probably the highlight of this year’s Christmas lunch.

I hope you all have an amazing start of 2019! Here’s to more books and personal accomplishments!

Reading Highlights – November 2018

I can’t believe Christmas is almost here, when did that happen?! Since we are already a few days into December, it’s time for me to share with you what I read and loved last month. I’m bringing you four books this time, two of them by the same author and another one in Spanish.

Bump, by Matthew J Metzger

It’s not a secret that I love Matthew’s writing, and Bump was no exception. I knew it was going to be a hard read, but I didn’t anticipate it making me melt. It was gorgeous, and it broke my heart only to put it together again afterwards. I recommend it with all my heart, especially if you’re looking for authentic trans representation in mpreg.

El Príncipe the los Prodigios, by Victoria Álvarez

Victoria Álvarez is my favourite Spanish writer, and she gets better which each book she publishes. This is the second book in a trilogy and I think I loved it even better than the first. Helena Lennox, the main character, is a super engaging teenage girl, and I adore her. And honestly I love how this is a spin off of a previous trilogy I loved by the same author, the trilogy that made me fall in love with her writing. This book is a mix of historical, adventure, romance and mystery, and I simply couldn’t stop reading it.

Falling For His Convenient Queen, by Therese Beharrie

I finished this story in a day and moved it directly into my comfort reads collection. It was a great love story that made me feel warm all over, and it made me go and check out more of Therese books. I loved both characters, and they fit together so well, they seemed to be the only ones who weren’t seeing it.

A Wedding One Christmas, by Therese Beharrie

Have you ever wondered if a romance story can take place in only one day? Well wonder no more, because Therese has done it! This was a great love story about two people finding each other in the most unexpected circumstances. I thought it was clever, funny, and romantic.

Reading Highlights – October 2018

I know this post is a bit late, but I’ve been busy the first few days of November. Still, books are books, so I hope you enjoy it anyway!

First, I want to correct a mistake I made in September’s post: I forgot a book I’d really loved. Alyssa Cole’s A Duke by Default was an amazing romance set in Scotland with a grumpy hero and a very relatable heroine.

Now it’s time for the books I read in October. I read a lot of books for review over on Trans Book Reviews, and sadly most of those are not making it to this list. Trans people deserve better than that. But I did read a few books that I want to mention, so fasten your seatbelts and get your wallets ready!

Life Underwater, by Matthew J Metzger

This book gave me life. I adored it. It made me feel seen as an asexual and aromantic person, and I loved Ashraf so much I can’t even put it into words. It’s a quiet romance, but it’s the kind of relationship I love Reading about. Two characters who clearly love each other, who talk to each other, and who support each other through everything. If you’re looking for a good story with trans, agender, asexual and/or aromantic rep, pick this one up.

The Craft of Love, by EE Ottoman

The best Word I can think of to describe this romance is gentle. Because that’s exactly what it was. It’s a historical romance that doesn’t swipe trans people under the rug as if they didn’t exist before modern times. It’s a story of friendship, courtship and love. Love for each other, love for family members, love for their craft. It’s a gentle love story and I recommend to anyone looking for that.

Run in the Blood, by AE Ross

This was such a great fantasy! It was action packed, and I loved the worldbuilding. And it has dragons! It’s one of those books that leaves me hoping for a sequel, and AE Ross is working on one! So if you’re looking for a queer fantasy with lots of action and character developmetn, give this one a chance!

And that’s all for this month! What have you read that you’ve loved? And are you picking up any of these?

 

Reading Highlights – September 2018

A few days ago, I asked my followers on Twitter if they would be interested in me doing a monthly blog post about what I’ve read and liked each month. Not surprisingly, since most of them are bookish people, they were interested, so here I am!

I haven’t read that many books this month, but what I’ve read I’ve really liked! So here you have some recommendations:

Erik the Pink, by Matthew J Metzger

It wasn’t the first time I read this, since I’d done sensitivity reading for its Spanish main character. I’d already liked the story then, but I LOVED the final version. It’s fluffy, it’s lovely, and it’s full of amazing characters. If you’re looking to read more fiction with trans characters, go pick this one up! Also, Erik is my book husband and I’ll fight you for him if necessary.

Practice Perfect series, by Ruby Lang

This series is just great! I liked the first book, Acute Reactions, then loved the second one, Hard Knocks, but my absolute favourite was the last one, Clean Breaks. The female main characters are all strong, Asian American doctors. I have a soft spot for doctors, nurses and such in my romances, so I was looking forward to reading this series. And it didn’t disappoint!

Eidolon, by E.S. Yu

I finished this book just this morning. One of the main characters is asexual, so I was really excited to read it. And I liked it a lot! It was very engaging, and I just couldn’t stop reading once I was completely involved in the story. So if you’re looking for more reads with asexual characters, pick this one up!

What about you? What have you read and loved this month?

Recommended reads, and more!

This year during Pride month I did a thread on Twitter where I posted one queer book recommendation for each day of June. I tried to stay away from cis gay main characters and recommend more diverse characters: you’ll find asexual, bisexual, transgender and lesbian characters. Sadly, I haven’t read many FF romances I could recommend, so there are only a few of those. But I asked for recs and added a lot of books to my TBR, so I hope to do better next year!

Are you curious about which books I recommended? Check out my thread here.

Now, more news! Are you interested in reading and discussing more books with trans main characters? Then why don’t you join the new Facebook group for Trans Book Reviews? We will have weekly discussions, and I promise we’ll try and make it as fun and interesting for you as possible! You can join us here.

And finally, here’s a sale! My Christmas short story, A Special Delivery, will be on sale for just $0.50 over at Nine Star Press for the whole month of July. It’s nothing but fluff, with two guys forced to spend the night together during a snowstorm. Plus, there’s an adorable doggo!

Just click on the cover and you’ll be taken straight to the publisher.

Read an Ebook Week at Smashwords

My publisher, JMS Books, is participating in Smashwords Read an Ebook Week. What does that mean? That means that among others, you can get my novella, No Rulebook for Flirting, with a 50% discount. That makes the book $1.50!

All you need to do is go to Smashwords and buy the book using the code RAE50 at checkout. Here’s the link that will take you directly to the book: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/791446

And here are the details of the book:

norulebookforflirting

When Gabriel goes to the annual gaming convention, planning to play as many games as he can during the next three days, he doesn’t expect to be glared to death in the parking lot by a really cute guy. So when the same guy joins the game Gabriel is playing, Gabriel is determined to make him smile, even if it takes some awkward flirting.

When Aitor makes it inside the convention center after someone steals his parking spot, he doesn’t expect to be so attracted to the man he decided to hate just a few minutes earlier. But as he gets to know Gabriel through gaming and flirting, he just can’t look away.

The game of flirting has no rulebook, but for Gabriel and Aitor, it may just have two winners after all.

And while you are there, don’t forget to check the other books from JMS participating on the promotion. There are some amazing authors there!

No rulebook for Flirting

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post, but I hope what I have to show you in this one will make up for it. I’ve been having a weird time lately, my depression has been acting up and I haven’t written a single word in ages. But then I got something pretty exciting yesterday and I’m ready to star writing again. Do you want to know what that was? I hope you do because I’m going to show you!

norulebookforflirting

No Rulebook for Flirting is a story about two nerds who meet in a board game convention. They clash at first, but then they have the time of their lives flirting over board games. Writing this was a lot of fun, and I’m super proud of this little story. I’m excited and scared about people getting to read it soon, and I’m certainly hoping readers will love Gabriel and Aitor as much as I do.

Here’s the (provisional) blurb:

When Gabriel gets to the gaming convention this year, planning to play as many games as he can during the next three days, he doesn’t expect to be glared to death in the parking lot by a really cute guy. So when the same guy sits down at the table Gabriel is playing at, he’s determined to make him smile, even if takes some awkward flirting.

When Aitor makes it inside the convention center after someone stole his parking spot, he doesn’t expect to be so taken by the same man he’d decided to hate just a few minutes before. But as he gets to know Gabriel through gaming and flirting, he just can’t look away from him.

The game of flirting has no rulebook, and for Gabriel and Aitor, it may just have two winners after all.

What do you think? Does it sound like something you’d enjoy? I hope so! It’ll be coming out from JMS Books on February 10. I’ll add the buy links to my books page as soon as it’s up.

And that’s all for today. Happy Sunday!

A Special Delivery

My next story, A Special Delivery, is up for preorder everywhere! It’s a short story, an MM romance that happens during Christmas and features lots of snow, a fireplace, hot chocolate and an adorable dog.

I have to admit I was indulging myself when I wrote this; I wanted some Christmas fluff, so I decided to write it, and the story was born.

Here’s the cover, blurb and buy links:

Holiday-WinterSeason-ASpecialDelivery-f500Colin only meant to take a wrongly delivered package to a house a few streets over. But a sudden snowstorm leaves him with no option but to beg shelter from his unknown neighbour James. During the course of a long night, a cozy fire, a little hot chocolate and the snow outside conspire to draw the two men closer. But will their connection outlast the storm?

Buy links: NineStar Press / Amazon

You can also add it to Goodreads if that’s your thing.

And remember that you can get a 30% discount when you preorder for NineStar Press, using the code preorder.

 

Book Birthday and Giveaway!

Into the Mystic, Volume Two came out today. This is the second time I’m celebrating a book birthday, and I’m doing so by telling you a bit more about my story in this anthology and setting up a giveaway so you can celebrate with me!

Here’s the blurb for my short story, The Holy Company:

Sophie curses the day she said yes to Anna’s idea of walking Saint James’s Way in Spain. She’s exhausted, and she doesn’t think she can keep her feelings for her a secret for much longer. But a day of rest soon turns into a nightmare when they come face-to-face with one of the local legends, and Sophie’s secret is no longer safe.

I had a lot of fun playing with this legend while writing. I’ve always found mythology to be fascinating, and I love discovering and learning about new myths and legends. This one wasn’t new for me, since I’d known about it even before I visited Galicia. But it was when I was visiting and walking around that I fell in love with the legend. More than one Spanish music group have written songs about this local myth, but I won’t bore you with those now – ask me about them if you’re curious, though!

When I started writing this short story something wasn’t working. I was eager to get to the part where the girls finally faced the legend, but the story wouldn’t flow. It was when I was 3k words in that I discovered why. I’d been writing it in third person and that wouldn’t do, since Sophie wanted to be the one telling their own story. So I went back and changed the POV, and the whole story came to life much easily that before. And then when I was halfway done Sophie decided to let me know she was demisexual, which made the story, and her relationship with Anna, made more sense. You can see this story was full of surprises for me, and that makes me hope it will surprise you too.

And now for the giveaway! I’m giving away a paperback copy of the anthology. Look at it; it’s gorgeous! Don’t you want one for your shelf? Entering is pretty easy: just comment on this post telling me about your favourite myth or legend. If you follow me on twitter (@LauraBailo) comment with your username and I’ll give you an extra entry. And don’t forget to add your email address so I can contact you if you win. I’ll choose a winner next Monday, October 23.

IntoTheMystic2-f500

 

You can buy Into the Mystic, Volume Two at:

NineStar Press
Amazon