K. Piet

Guest Post: RainbowCon 2015

Rainbow Con

Hello, and welcome to The Novel Approach, which has temporarily been taken over by the folks of RainbowCon. If you haven’t heard of us, the Rainbow Conference (aka RainbowCon) is a four-day conference taking place in Tampa, Florida July 16th through 19th this year. Four days of nothing but GLBTQ content geared toward bringing people together over artistic diversity!
We’ve expanded our programming since our first conference in 2014, so there’s a lot of new and exciting things happening in just a month. RainbowCon’s first event took a relatively narrow approach, focusing entirely on the wonderful diversity of GLBTQ fiction, from sweet and adventurous YA books to stories on the fringes of the more adult-oriented genres. We had panels spanning the vastness of fiction to take on light and serious topics alike, but there were also workshops for aspiring or established writers and a couple fun events in the evenings. For our 2015 event, fiction is just the tip of the iceburg!

Art Courtesy of Guests of Honor Adam DeKraker & Alex Woolfson

If you take a look at our schedule online, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is that the topics vary widely. Here are a few sneak peeks!

  • Fiction – Yes, it’s true, we still have many panels devoted to fiction. From craft and industry panels to tropes, taboos, genre crossing, and handling criticism. In addition to the wide variety of panels (a couple of which will be making a second appearance from our first con), we have an entire room devoted to workshops throughout the extended weekend. Everything from taking the step from hobby to career to worldbuilding, action, dialogue, or writing awesome bad guys. If you want to add to your skill set as a writer, you’re likely to find a workshop right up your alley.
  • Fandom – Because of the lower representation of QUILTBAG characters in various media, fandom is often where fans of television shows, movies, and/or fiction can find a bit more representation of our diverse community. Whether it’s reading Between the Lines of Sherlock or Queering Middle-Earth with fellow Tolkien fans, there are plenty of opportunities to commiserate with other fans at RainbowCon. Sometimes, it’s not just what was in the original media so much as the ripples it made in the community of fans that makes a character or plot so beloved.
  • Comics – This medium has an amazing impact due to the tantalizing combination of both storytelling and visual elements. Our Guests of Honor for 2015 are Alex Woolfson and Adam DeKraker, the creator and illustrator of The Young Protectors, an online comic surrounding GLBTQ themes and superheroes. The pair will share their knowledge in a few panels. They even made that custom image above for us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to encourage visibility of GLBTQ content online!
  • Television – From Star Trek to Xena: Warrior Princess to Queer as Folk, there’s no doubt that television has had an incredible impact on the QUILTBAG community, both in terms of visibility and the perpetuating (and sometimes dismantling) of stereotypes. We have a broad spattering of panels that will take a look at the lasting effects of certain television genres as well as specific shows, both past and present.
  • Movies – Come on. Do we really have to tell you that we’re also covering movies? While not all the panels single out individual titles, we’ll hit upon topics such as Why Does the Gay Dude Die First?, the Appeal of the Fairy Tale Retelling, and even a lighthearted discussion of GLBT Movies That Sucked (And Some That Didn’t). A little bit of everything!
  • Other Media – Other arts can certainly play a role in the QUILTBAG community, and RainbowCon wants to celebrate them as well! GLBTQ content on stage (theatre) and in music can completely captivate us. In addition to that, pop culture provides many instances of actors, musicians, and activists becoming icons, some outspoken and others whose lives in the past are still beloved. Whether you’re a fan of Angels in America or know every lyric to RENT‘s “La Vie Boheme”, you’ll have a place here!
  • Education – We’re thrilled to also feature an entire track of panels and workshops aimed at educating con-goers on various topics, from dispelling bisexual myths and understanding genderqueer identity, to coming out and bullying, to queerbaiting and even getting kids reading. There are plenty of opportunities to learn a little something new or share your knowledge with others eager to know more. This part of the programming allows the con not only to be fun but to also make a potential impact.

And, if you can believe it, that’s still just a peek! We have activities for those who want to get crafty at the con, we have GLBTQ games available, and even a field trip out to our official charity, the Tampa Bay Big Cat Rescue. We know it’s a lot of content, but we hope that everyone will find something to enjoy at the con. The very best thing about coming down to a con like ours is that, whether you identify within the QUILTBAG spectrum or just enjoy queer content in various media, you’ll be coming to a safe space where you can express yourself, network, and make new friends. These are your people, this your community, and when we all come together, it really can be a once in a lifetime experience.

To learn more about RainbowCon, visit www.rainbowconference.org or follow along on Facebook or Twitter!
Registration is STILL OPEN!
Dreamspinner Press, Skylar M. Cates

Guest Post and Giveaway: Countdown to Rainbow Con With Skylar M. Cates


The Novel Approach welcomes Skylar M. Cates back today to talk a little bit about crafting a scene, and she’s also offering the chance for one reader to win an e-copy of any book from HER BACKLIST. This is a Rafflecopter giveaway, so click on the widget below to enter.

Good luck!


Crafting Scenes: From Sex to Sadness

I’m often asked where I get my overall ideas for a book (short answer = everywhere), but I thought it might be fun to explain how I work at different types of scenes.  Crafting a scene is important. I like to write it once and then rewrite it, layering it more and more. That’s also why conferences like Rainbow Con are so important. It’s a chance for all of us — writers and readers alike— to spend a few days sharing our love of a good book and of craft.

In my real life conversations, the focus is kids or money or house chores. Yawn. How fabulous it is to escape for a few precious days and be able to squeal with joy over words, ideas, and books?  That’s just one reason I’m so grateful to be able to go to Rainbow Con. I know that everybody there is as excited as I am to discuss the LGBT genre!



Happy Scenes

The description might be longer, a little lush, reflecting the character’s mood. Or I might have a stormy day, but the character is whistling. Juxtaposition often works well. For instance, the character might be having a lousy day full of petty annoyances like traffic jams and no coffee (although personally, no coffee is major to me). He’s grumpy and irritated….  But when he sees the love interest, the opposite reaction blooms inside of him. Suddenly, he doesn’t mind being caffeine deprived. He might show this happiness in an action or in his dialogue.

Then I consider how happy is he? Word choice makes a huge difference. Is he amused? Does he grin? Chuckle? Belly laugh? Does he snort helplessly and hold his sides?

The crafting comes in here. You do not want the character to belly laugh if the scene is not that amusing. Or if the character is not one to laugh. Unless this is a pivotal moment of change for the character.

If they are old friends, like Jesse and Aaron in The Only Guy, the shared amusement may stir up memories. If they formerly distrusted each other, like Rafe and Daniel in Exposed, the happy scene might be an opportunity to learn to open up and play, like in their miniature golf scene.

Happy scenes are often overlooked. But they are critical. Falling in love should make you happy. Hell, if it is the right person it should make you ecstatic.

But guess what the ultimate happy scene is? It’s not when the MC realizes he’s in love. He might be freaked out or tormented with doubts about it. No, for me anyhow, the ultimate happy scene is when the MC realizes he is loved back.


Sex Scenes

Some authors love writing these. Some dread it.

I’m in the first group.

Sex scenes need strong verbs and sensory images. How do things feel? What do they see? How does it taste? What sounds are heard? And, of course, the writer must decide the heat level and reflect that in the language, too.

Should there be dirty talk? Is the sex sweet or angry? Most importantly, how will the MCs feel before and after sex? This might change. Or each character might experience a wildly different reaction.  In any case, I always strive to make it go beyond insert tab A into slot B.  I’m not going to lie. There are moments when the sex scene frustrates me more than my characters. After all, how many times can I use the word dick or cock or rim? Hmmm…actually, I love those words, lol.  But if I focus on my goal for the scene more than the semantics, I find crafting the sex scene to be enjoyable.

Are sex scenes always totally realistic? Maybe not. Romance is in part our fantasies, right? If I wrote Het romance, you can bet my hero would LOVE going down, even if not every man does.  I don’t want my MC finishing in one second and then grabbing the television remote. No thanks.

So for me the sex scene must be realistic, but I’m not obsessed with every detail being true. I want the reader to be excited and flushed and happy reading that sex scene. I want them to go: “Whew.” Maybe fan themselves. Or if the scene is a tender one, maybe melt a little inside.

Most importantly, I want my MC to connect to the sex emotionally. Even if I write the scene in one character’s POV, I am always asking myself how both men are feeling, and what I want to convey from this scene? In The Last Guy Breathing, Henry and Locke have rough, hot, slightly public sex.  This fits their emotions at first, which have the enemy-to-lover vibe, but as they fall in love, there is more tenderness and dialogue.

In contrast, in my novella The Holiday Hoax, they were both pretty inexperienced and sweet, and the sex scene was gentle and faded out more than any of my other novels.


Sad Scenes

The key to crafting a good scene for me, whatever the emotion, is having the character act and react. He makes choices. He might fuck up. But he is going through a period of transformation that the scene highlights.

In Here for You, I attempted to write more sad scenes than I ever did before. I wanted scenes of absolute shock.

How did I craft this? Careful choices. I deliberately let the images and the dialogue get fragmented. When a person is in shock, I don’t believe they think in complete thoughts. I wanted colors, sounds—I wanted the reader to sob along with Cole, to be there with him. His shock needs to be felt by the reader or it is no good to me.

No two characters should react to grief identically. I deliberately considered how would this person react? How would another? And I tried to keep that realistic. Some people cry at weddings and laugh at funerals, for example. Others do the reverse.

If my character is not acting and reacting to the event, then it might be this scene has failed. What do I do then? Honestly, in that case I scrap it. And it hurts, it hurts! This is the point I usually go and drink too much wine or eat too much chocolate.  But then, I take a deep inhale and reimagine it. I will fight to do the scene right.

Perhaps that is the part I want to end with? Whenever you craft a scene—–happy, sad, or sexual—– be willing to fight for it!

There is no greater joy than having a reader take the time to say the book made them have the “ feels”.  Whether they tell me it made them laugh or cry, I will do a happy dance that I did my job.  Seriously, hearing that a scene you crafted touched another person makes all the hard work worth it.

Thanks for hosting me!



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Skylar’s upcoming projects:

The second book in my Sunshine and Happiness series, Lovers, Losers, and You is due out from Dreamspinner in late September. I’m working on book three and four too. For those who have asked me about it: yes, Owen, Marc, Tomas, and River are all getting stories.  I’m also working on a holiday novella for my Guys series.