Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Love's Landscape event...hits and misses.

Oh boy.

So the thing about an event like Goodread's M/M Romance Group's big yearly story event, this year called Love's Landscapes, is that they're a bit of a crapshoot when it comes to the stories. You can write the most amazing prompt in the world, but there's no telling the story you're going to get from it. It could be, to be succinct, crappy. There have already been the usual fights over bad stories, bad reviews, being gentle on newbie authors versus the right to review however you want, and the list goes on. Naturally, no one is going to like every story written for this event. Some of them, quite frankly, are just bad, and that's part of the learning process of writing. The prompter might not get what they wanted. They might not like their story. Whatever, that's fine, that happens.

Then we get stories that just kill me, kill me, with how amazing they are. Like, a few of these have seriously thrown me into conniptions. Some of them are so good, so satisfying, so atmospheric that I can smell the cigarette smoke, I can feel the edge of the blade, I can taste the cannoli. I want to share a few of my absolute favorites so far, in case you're interested in reading along and getting some awesome stories for free. Because, oh my god, some of these are so good they give me shivers. And we're not even a month in, so...yeah. Much more to come.

The links lead to the download page if downloads are available for a particular story, btw, not the Goodreads page. Also, there are going to be plenty of great stories I don't list, mainly because their theme didn't really appeal enough to read. GFY, college boys, lots of BDSM...meh. Take it or leave it.

The Dreams You Made in the Dirt: Lisa Henry, guys. Guaranteed to get good writing, and it is, it really is. Dark, creepy, the kind of thing that makes you want to shrivel up a little...yeah, Lisa Henry, but it's also really good.

Guarded: Kim Fielding, epic fantasy, amazing world building, some very uncomfortable moments in the midst of awesomeness, bodyguarding, cross-cultural...look, just check it out. My synopses suck.

The Lonely Drop: Vanessa North, a really sweet story about friends reuniting and becoming more than friends, just the sort of slow burn I can get behind, plus inclement weather and people with parent issues. Sign me up.

Better Than New: Charley Descoteaux, a short story that still packs a punch with a phenomenal prompt that I was a hairs-breadth away from trying to claim for myself, and a gorgeous picture of Sebastian Stan, who--yeah. More of that, please.

Broken Phoenix: Edmond Manning, and wow, this one was at a different level than a lot of the other stories. It doesn't do more than genuflect in the direction of contemporary, just drops you feet first into a whole new world. It felt very Patricia McKillip to me, actually.

The Last Cannoli: Tali Spencer's, a long contemporary story about baking, Italian-Americans, family feuds and how to market your business. Slow, steady and delicious.

And lest you think all of my recent favorites are by long-published authors, THING AGAIN! Perhaps the best thing I've read over this whole event just came out yesterday, from a never-before-published author who had better write more, because goddamn this was amazing...

The Case of the Insufferable Slave: Gillian St. Kevern, and I loved pretty much everything about it. It's a noir detective story in an alternate history where the South won the American Civil War, and takes the slave prompt and turns it completely on its head. Hot, well-written, atmospheric as hell. Read this.

And we still have so many to go, including stories by Kaje Harper and Alicia Nordwell and, oh yeah, myself. Be part of this!  Read these wonderful stories, and check the threads out to find the ones I didn't mention that you'll love anyway.


  1. I feel like such a stalker for agreeing with all your recommendations :-)
    I've given three 5-stars so far; for Guarded*, A Point of Honour and The Case of the Insufferable Slave (which is amazingly good!). My rule is that I only give 4 or 5 stars if I'd download it to my Kindle to read again more than once, so there are lots of 3-stars I enjoyed... but not quite enough. And I'm getting tougher at rating something a 2 or 1 if it's meh or genuinely just bad, although I still feel a tad guilty doing it!
    *Treasure was one of the highlights of last year's event for me, so I should probably check out Kim's back catalogue, no? :-)

  2. The Lonely Drop and Better Than New might be my favorites so far. Also, I thought I Spy Pecan Pie was really good.

    1. Oh yes - who doesn't love a shy cowboy :-) And the prompt photo... yum!

    2. Gosh, funny, I didn't get into that one. I didn't try very hard, admittedly, I think maybe I just wasn't in a cowboy mood that morning. If you both like it, I guess I'll give it another shot.

  3. Gillian St. Kevern wrote the prompt that became "The Last Cannoli". One reason I took that prompt was it was so well-written it practically leaped off the page. That woman can write! :) I've enjoyed quite a few of the stories and read all of the fantasy ones, then any that just grab my eye. I've been impressed overall.

    1. You guys came together like a weird nexus of talent ;) It was meant to be.

  4. I totally agree with you on Broken Phoenix. :) Wonderful. I haven't gotten past the first day yet. Sigh. Life hasn't let me slow down. Although, I have the rest of the first week downloaded to my iPad....

    I'm a newbie author and my first publication is this event. It's not out...yet. Still finalizing it; but, it's coming. Pretty much everyone who has read it has enjoyed it so far. Whether it stands up to the group...we'll see. I know that I have a lot to learn. And thank you Cari for helping me with it. :)

    And I will sit down and read your blog stories...gosh darn it. But I need to find a reader for Blogger that we'll download ALL the feed so I can go back to um...last year. Sigh. Yeah. I have a lot to catch up.

    1. Don't let the catch-up stress you too much! You'll have plenty of time to grab the ones that really stand out to you later, I'm sure. I've been making a crazy effort to keep up this year, since I didn't last year.

      Aw, my blog stories will be here whenever you get time darlin'. Although, we're getting to the big climax with this one--good time to read! Good luck with your story. Maybe we'll be posted together!

  5. I totally agree with you on ‘The case of the insufferable slave’, I can’t wait to read more from this author.
    I too am a new author and my first full story is in this event, it was one of the first few posted. Waiting for the comments to see what people thought was agony but the comments I got have really encouraged me to keep writing and the suggestions I got have helped to improve my work.
    Some other stories I have liked so far are:
    500 kisses to steal a heart by Anyta Sunday: funny and serious, with a sweet story line behind it.
    Pink lace and stolen hearts by JC Wallace: this one made you want to bang the mc’s head against something to knock some sense into him lol.
    Good luck to you Cari when yours is posted, I look forward to reading it and yours too Eloreen Moon.

    1. Hi Carol Anne! Your story got up there early--I followed a thread for a while that wondered how the title was pronounced :) I'm glad you found its reception encouraging and want to do more. I feel like you took on a very challenging concept, honestly, and did a good job with it.

      500 Kisses was very cute, and Pink Lace--so sexy and so frustrating, yes.

      Thanks for the good wishes, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that people enjoy mine this year.