December 26, 2012

Asians in Romance

Due to traveling over the holidays, here's an attempt at a scheduled post with some thoughts on a topic close to my heart.

The depiction of Asians in mainstream media and, more specifically, the romantic aspects of such media, has always been something of which I was keenly aware.  Perhaps it's because I grew up in the diverse city of San Francisco or perhaps it's because (surprise!) I'm Asian myself.

Yup, I'm Asian, and I write about boys who like boys. Talk about breaking stereotypes, eh?

Image from Myxer.com.
Anyway, this subject came to my attention again recently in an unexpected way.  I happened to have "Prince Ali" stuck in my head (yes, the song from Aladdin), which led me to think about the Disney princesses.  And, being the romance novel reader that I am, of course that led me to think of the romantic attachments of said princesses.

Now, call me crazy, but is it just me or did Mulan get shortchanged in the prince department?

It's been a while since I've seen that movie, to be honest, but I seem to remember lots of focus on the movie's action, very very very little, if any, focus on the romance.  In fact, I just had to IMDB search to confirm that the guy's name is Shang.  While the name might not be all that important as an indicator (e.g., I know Little Mermaid/Ariel's dude was Prince Eric, but I don't remember if Sleeping Beauty/Aurora's prince ever had a name), I still think there was a distinct lack of romance in Mulan compared to the other Disney animated films. They don't even kiss, for Pete's sake! I think he might've shown up at the end or something, but it was definitely not romantic enough to get my HEA buzz going.

The first time I looked deeper into the non-romanticizing of Asian characters actually occurred in college, when I wrote a paper on the depiction of Asians in the Jet Li/Aaliyah action movie Romeo Must Die.  Now that I think about it, I'm probably the only person who can say that they made that movie the subject of a serious academic paper. BUT I got an A, so my use of it was totally legitimized. :D  Anyway, don't read the rest of this paragraph if you've never seen it and you don't want some gentle spoilers.  ***ARRR, SPOILERS BE HERE!*** So the title of this movie seems to suggest a "Romeo & Juliet" type doomed relationship between the young leads, and, indeed, the movie's plot is loosely based on Shakespeare's play.  In the movie, two rival Mafia-like families - one Asian and one African American - are competing for waterfront property for a business deal.  Children within each family - an Asian guy and an African American woman - are caught up in the fight.  However, instead of a love story, they have...a friendship.  Instead of sharing kisses, they share...an ice cream cone.  To which I respond: Where's the romance??? ***ARRR, SPOILERS BE DONE!*** So, yeah, you could say I was a little disappointed.

Finally, in romance novels, I very rarely have seen an Asian, and when I have, they're usually women.  Maybe there's some m/m out there, but as far as I'm aware, I've only read one thus far. (That was Z.A. Maxfield's Drawn Together.)  If anyone has any recommendations for good romances with Asian characters, please drop me a line!

The thing is, I don't think of myself as some kind of crusader for the rights of Asians to be depicted as totally hottt and sexay men and women.  Not all Asians are hottt and sexay. Yours truly not included, of course. *tosses hair saucily*  Totally j/k there, in case you couldn't tell. :)  But really, I'm not saying every single face on a romance cover or movie poster should look like mine. It's just that I find it really odd and unrealistic when there just...aren't any of them out there. And really, I don't even think that's a product of my growing up in San Francisco, a city heavily populated with Asians.

The other thing that I wanted to mention on the subject is that not all Asians eat with chopsticks, are really good at math, love wearing the color red, or have long, shiny, and straight silky hair. No, really, we aren't all like that.  It's possible to be Asian in America and, as an Asian American, have grown up (1) eating Twinkies and Honey Nut Cheerios with milk (no, we're not all lactose intolerant), (2) taking AP English and not AP Calculus, (3) going to the New Kids on the Block concert (woop woop!) with your dad, and (4) regularly seeing spaghetti with meatballs or chicken a la king on your dinner table. Really, a lot of us Asian Americans aren't that much different from everyone else, which is why it's so bizarre to me that there are pretty much no Asians having their romances told between the covers of the thousands and thousands of romances that are being published every year.

That's about all I have to say on the subject for now.  Yes, I'm still working on my WIP, and, yes, one of the guys is half-Asian. But it doesn't really manifest itself outside of his looks, and he's not much different from any other romance hero dude between the pages (or...sheets? *gasp*).  That's the point.

Out here in the real world, we Asians are gettin' some lovin', too, and the books available now should reflect that fact.

Asian for life (literally!),
NJ



December 17, 2012

FREE HOLIDAY STORY - "A Man-to-Man Christmas" by Nico Jaye

In lieu of this week's 3T post on Thursday, I'm posting a holiday short that I wrote for the Man-to-Man Coverage series.  (Go here for more info on downloading the FREE Man-to-Man Coverage stories.)  This holiday quickie, titled A Man-to-Man Christmas, offers a glimpse into Brad and Cam's holiday with the Hunters. Note that it is SUPER sappy, so if you have an aversion to cheesiness, then you might want to give it a pass. (Don't say I didn't warn ya!) :)


"A MAN-TO-MAN CHRISTMAS" BY NICO JAYE - CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE PDF (Click "File" -> "Download" for the PDF.) Edit: Note that it appears the temporary view of the PDF might be a little wonky. You can still download and save the PDF file if you do the "File" -> "Download" method. Thanks for your patience!


You can also find a downloadable PDF version on the new Goodreads book listing here: "A Man-to-Man Christmas" on Goodreads.

I've posted the full holiday story after the jump:

December 15, 2012

Psst...type-by posting for "A Man-to-Man Christmas"

I'm putting the finishing touches on a holiday short for Brad and Cam, the boys from Man-to-Man Coverage.  Be on the lookout for A Man-to-Man Christmas, coming soon!


I'll be posting this holiday quickie (~3000 words) on Monday morning. It's suuuuuuuper sappy, but what can I say? The holidays just bring out the cheese in me. ;)

UPDATE: The story is online HERE and on Goodreads HERE!! 

Nomming on sweet cheese and sappiness,
NJ


December 13, 2012

3T, 12/13/12 - Holiday Shenanigans

Note: I've decided to get all mathematical and use the algebraic "3T" as shorthand for "Three Things for Thursday."  I know, I just out-nerdify myself sometimes.

1) Baltimore! I spent the weekend in Baltimore eating stupid amounts of food and, in particular, crabcakes. Mmmmm.....crabcakes.


The occasion? My friend's wedding. The wedding was stellar - delicious food (seriously, plus there were THREE types of cake - all amazing, and yes, I did try them all *shameless grin*), unique setting, touching ceremony, and lively DJ.  But yes, another wedding. This is my fifth wedding in the last six months. As some of my friends have pointed out, I'm just in that age range when everyone and their mother (well, maybe not their mother) is getting married.  What's weird, though, is that while that may translate to a ticking time bomb to some people, it really doesn't feel that way to me.  Ever since I was little, I never wanted to get married, and, in my adulthood, not much has changed except I've sort of analyzed that initial feeling to death. Perhaps I'll expand on that further one day, but today, alas, is not that day.

2) Holy crap, it's mid-December already. I haven't finished holiday shopping.  In fact, I don't even know if what I have so far counts as having started. I dunno...the pressure to find the perfect gift during the holidays may be getting to me, to be honest. On the one hand, I want my family and friends to know I appreciate their awesomeness.  On the other hand, why do we have to wait for December to give these gifts?  With my best friend, we give stuff to each other all the time, and honestly? It's pretty awesome. It just feels more genuine when I show up at her place and say "surprise!" than needing to give a gift on X day, no matter what.

3) The P in WIP.  So I've definitely made progress on my swimmer story. I'm liking it, but it needs some tweaking. I'm not yet at the sexytimes part, but I think I've set the stage, so to speak.  



Separately, though, I've been making P on another thing. Specifically, I had a brainspaz for a short peek into Brad and Cam's holiday with the Hunters. Yes, a Man-to-Man Coverage Christmas! So I started writing it. Tuesday night.Well, Wednesday morning. At 3:30AM. It'll be a little glimpse into their holiday season, and I hope to have it to you all soon!

Pecking away at her little keyboard,
NJ


December 10, 2012

Inveterate Romance Seeker

Just a quick post to confess to something most people might not know about me "in real life."

I am an inveterate romance seeker.

Since childhood, I have always focused on the romance of a story, whether it was the classic Disney retelling of Beauty & the Beast or reading about Elizabeth and Todd in the Sweet Valley High series.  Now, in adulthood, this interest has manifested itself in my genre of choice: romance.

Available on the Starz website.

Something happened recently that caught my attention and really drilled home how much romance is at the center of what I seek out in my stories. I began watching the Starz show Spartacus, and even though the blood and gore are truly not to my tastes, I found myself watching the first two seasons straight through in the span of one week. Indeed, I watched season two last night. As in....the whole thing, and thank goodness I'm not working because I made it to bed at *cough cough* four AM *cough cough*. What's funny to me, though, is I now recognize that, in retrospect, my enjoyment of the series definitely increased the moment there appeared to be a potential romance in the works.

Don't get me wrong - there was a reason I was watching it in the first place. I was initially drawn by the promise of bare chests and thick, steely man-thighs. Duh.  Yes, I have no shame, and I freely admit it.  However, to be honest, I was almost completely turned off by the gore and extreme violence that were in the first episodes in ABUNDANCE. Once the hint of romance came onto the scene, though, I was sold.

I was especially gratified by season two's romancing.  There's an adorable and sweet (m/m!) romance between Agron, one of the gladiators, and Nasir, one of the liberated slaves. There are just little tastes of them throughout the season - you know, just enough to make me want more more more! :) Luckily, I discovered that there are also really adorable fan sites like this Tumblr and wonderful YouTube videos dedicated to this budding romance. Their soft glances sprinkled in amongst the blood, violence, and hard living gave me hope and helped me believe that there really was a human element beyond just war and battles.

Now, I don't have Starz, but I just might have to find someone who does so that I can get my fix of them - I mean *ahem* this show *ahem* - when season three premieres in January 2013! For now, I'll just have to make do with YouTube and hrm...I'm sure there's some slashy stuff written on them somewhere... ;)

Hitting "repeat" on the Nagron YouTube videos,
NJ



December 6, 2012

Three Things for Thursday, 12/06/12

Ahhhh!!! It's December already!



1) Things to Come.  December??? What??? Holy smokes, where has the year gone, everyone?? Well, I have my update for today, and I'll have one for next week, I promise! With my upcoming holiday travels, though, I'm going to be entering The Dark Zone. There's no internet at my parents' place *gasp*, so I'll be radio silent for a while. Yes, it'll be like an addict who's gone cold turkey. *deep breaths*

But fear not!

I'm testing out the "schedule a post" option and *knocks on wood* will be posting a couple of updates on topics of...SUPER interest.  I actually drafted one already about which I am muy excited. I hope you guys like it. Let's just say...my WIP right now includes a half-Asian character, and I haven't seen many Asians out there in romance. *wiggles eyebrows*

2) NYPL Holiday Open House.  This weekend I attended the New York Public Library's Holiday Open House for donors to the library. I didn't know what to expect, but I was impressed in the end by the sheer joy I felt in the air and the friendly people I met there. One really interesting exhibit that they currently have at the main library is called "Lunch Hour," and it explores anything and everything to do with the lunch hour, from power lunches to authentic automats to delis to the origins of sushi in NYC. It was really an awesome exhibit, and it's free at the main library until Feb. 17, 2013. I highly recommend it if you're in the area!

3) Ladies love Letterman.  Yesterday I went to the taping of the Late Show with David Letterman. It wasn't my first time attending a TV taping, but it was still a cool experience.  Also, to think that the Beatles debuted on that stage is pretty amazing. :)



On a writing note, I'm still not done with my WIP, but I'm making progress. That arbitrary due date helped light a fire, and I hope to have it to my friend soon for a second pair of eyes. *crosses fingers and toes*

Have a wonderful week, folks!

Embracing the holiday spirit,
NJ