Posted in LGBT, Writing

Read Around the Rainbow: Can AI write an LGBT romance story?

The challenge we all set ourselves this month was to write (or re-use) a 300-ish-word short m/m romance story and use it as a prompt on an AI site to see what it could come up with. There’s been so much hype about AI lately; if you believe half the stuff you read then it’s well on the way to replacing all of humanity. But does that include LGBT romance writers?

I chose an old story, Concrete Jungle (inspired by the surrealist gardens at Las Posas in Mexico, pictured above courtesy of the Guardian), because it was the right length, and because it’s in a strange, prose-poem style which I guessed AI would have problems replicating. I’m not naming the AI site I used because I don’t want to give advertising space to something I don’t agree with, but it was freely available on Google and I didn’t need to sign up to use it. I fed the summary from Concrete Jungle – two men skinny dipping in a garden pool surrounded by lush plants and butterflies – into the dialogue box and hit ‟write”.

And I was surprised by what it came up with. Most of the other webring members said their results were rubbish, with a depressing mix of poor prose and deeply divisive attitudes. Some AI sites even refused to write ‟gay romance” at all on the grounds that it was ‟offensive”. Go figure. But my result is depressing for a different reason, because it’s actually rather good. The prose flows nicely, the story makes sense, it’s about the right length (although I hadn’t specified word count) and there’s even a romantic element. The only thing lacking is what I’d call the ‟feelz” – the show-not-tell, the emotion, the subtle nuances of a relationship. But if AI keeps on learning at its current rate, it may only be a matter of time before it can do that, too. At which point we writers really will be f*cked.

Below are the two different versions of Concrete Jungle so you can see for yourselves. The first is my prose poem, the second is AI. The styles are obviously very different, but would you have known which was which if I hadn’t told you?

Clutch and thrust of the concrete jungle reminds me of you. Roots clutch at the soil, fingers of men buried alive, gasping their last into the thick brown earth. Stems thrust lightwards like cocks of men at play, criss-crossing, bobbing, stretching towards their life. Leaves clutch the sky, stitched to the heavens, your fingers in my hair.

Your body a brown arrow as you dive, diamond drops capturing the light and holding it to ransom on your skin. You laugh, the sound echoing down the waterfall, smashed on the rocks below. It could so easily be you; I peer uneasily. You eel past my legs underwater, skin brushing skin, and you laugh again. Your voice as tantalising as your touch, promising more. Your teeth startling piano keys against your black moustache, but the piano does not make such sweet music as your voice.

You emerge, a salmon leaping for the land, scattering the diamonds which wither, releasing their pent-up sun back to the sun. The sun warms your brown naked body as you lie, head pillowed on my chest, my heart speaking to your ear.

Sudden flash of blue amongst the twisted shadows of fig trees: a jay scolds from a twig. Like sun on moving water they come out of the forest: a cerulean pillar of butterflies. Five, six, a dozen, their wings reflecting the reflection of the sky. They settle on your torso, painting it with light: cornflowers in coffee, blue eyes in a brown face.

You raise your hand to brush them away. I catch it, bring it to my head. Your fingers take root in my hair. We are complete.


The sun was setting over the horizon, painting the sky in a vibrant orange hue. The air was warm, the temperature just right to take a dip in the nearby pool. Two men, both handsome in their own ways, stripped out of their clothes and jumped into the pool. The water was cool against their skin, and the lush plants surrounding them added to the romantic atmosphere.

The moonlight glowed down on them as they swam, their arms brushing against each other. They were lost in the moment, the only sound being the occasional splash of the water and the chirping of the crickets. As they reached the opposite end of the pool, they stopped and just looked at each other.

The butterflies in their stomachs were going wild, and they both knew what was coming next. They embraced, their lips meeting in perfect harmony. They kissed for what felt like an eternity, and in that moment, all of their worries and fears melted away.

After some time, they separated, both still feeling the same electric buzz that had been present from the start. As they got out of the pool, they realized that this moment was something that they would never forget. They knew that this was the start of something special, something that would last forever.

As I mentioned, the other webring members had very different experiences. Why not pop along and see what AI did with their stories? I suspect some of it will be hilarious!

A L Lester :: Holly Day :: Amy Spector :: Ofelia Grand :: Ellie Thomas :: Addison Albright :: Nell Iris :: K L Noone :: Lillian Francis

Posted in excerpts, LGBT, romance

Rainbow Snippets: a discarded broom…

This week’s offering for the #RainbowSnippets Facebook group is from my dystopian time travel m/m romance Just Visiting, which I’m also featuring on today’s #silver #agegap feature on the Small But Mighty FB group. The excerpt is from where Madoc first meets time traveller Josh, as Josh trips over his discarded broom!

Here’s a reminder of what’s going on: “Down-trodden dock worker Madoc expects trouble when a traveller from the future trips over his discarded broom. What he doesn’t expect is to fall head over heels in love with a man who insists he’s only visiting. But Josh’s arrival is the spark Madoc needs to fight the terrible discrimination in his world. When he finally catches up with his own future, will Josh be waiting there for him?”

And if you fancy trying the book, it’s available on Kindle for only $1.20 or 99p, or free on Kindle Unlimited.

Madoc didn’t even stop to think. That was a caste member floundering around down there. A caste member who’d tripped over his discarded tools. If anything bad happened, guess who would get the blame? And the penalty for causing the death of a caste member? He couldn’t remember offhand, but it wouldn’t be good. He kicked off his boots, laid his glasses on top of them and leapt straight in. The water was freezing. The cold cut through his clothes so fast he could feel the shock setting in. He couldn’t succumb to it, though. He was used to these conditions. The stranger might not be so hardened to the elements. He took a deep breath, thrashed his way to the man, then supported his head while he paddled both of them awkwardly back to the dock.

By the time he got there the overseer had hurried over to help. Between him and Madoc they hauled the stranger out onto the dock, where he stood dripping and shivering so hard Madoc could hear his teeth knocking together. The overseer took one look at him and ran, mumbling something about alerting the proper authorities. Knowing the way things worked, Madoc thought it was more likely he was putting as much space between himself and potential trouble as possible. Something he himself would quite like to do. It was tempting to simply grab the broom and hide out in one of the store-rooms until someone else took control or the stranger took care of himself.

Posted in LGBT, short stories

Bowled Over…

I have a new, free-to-read story available at RoM/Mantic Reads magazine today. ‘Bowled Over’ is one I wrote a very long time ago, but it’s since been dug out, dusted off, and spruced up.

It’s a m/m romance set at an annual charity cricket match and is very tongue-in-cheek with more than a few double entendres including that title. If you fancy taking a look, head over to RoM/Mantic Reads now. I hope it gives you a laugh!

Posted in excerpts, LGBT

Rainbow Snippets: a misplaced broom

I wasn’t sure I’d get around to a Rainbow Snippets today as I’m feeling a bit under the weather with a bug. But I’ve been tweeting about my time-travel romance Just Visiting lately so it made sense to post a few lines from that. Don’t forget to check out the Rainbow Snippets Facebook group for more of this week’s excerpt fun!

And if you like the sound of this excerpt, you can find Just Visiting for only 99p on Kindle (or free on Kindle Unlimited) here. It’s set in a dystopian future and features a man, a visitor from the future, their impossible love, the fight against discrimination, a bittersweet ending – and that misplaced broom. Phew!

Can love follow someone through time itself?

By the time he got there the overseer had hurried over to help. Between him and Madoc they hauled the stranger out onto the dock, where he stood dripping and shivering so hard Madoc could hear his teeth knocking together. The overseer took one look at him and ran, mumbling something about alerting the proper authorities. Knowing the way things worked, Madoc thought it was more likely he was putting as much space between himself and potential trouble as possible. Something he himself would quite like to do. It was tempting to simply grab the broom and hide out in one of the store-rooms until someone else took control or the stranger took care of himself. For once, though, there was nobody else about. The stranger’s lips were turning blue. If he didn’t want a disaster on his hands, he’d have to deal with this now.

‛You’d better come back to my room. You can warm up and clean yourself there.’

‛Th-thank y-you.’

‛It’s nothing. Just doing my job.’ Or not doing it. If he’d been paying attention… if he hadn’t left that broom lying about… The fewer people who knew about that, the safer he’d be. ‛This way.’

Posted in Books, excerpts, LGBT

Rainbow Snippets: Embers of Bridges

It’s the middle of another Saturday morning which means it’s time for a new Rainbow Snippet. Don’t forget to check back on the Facebook group for loads more lgbt excerpts from all your favourite authors.

For a complete change this week I’m focussing on one of my non-romance (but still lgbt) books written under my other pen name, Tess Makovesky. Embers of Bridges is a breathless comedy noir set in Birmingham and featuring hapless robber Mickey, who just happens to be falling for the irrepressible mischief of his best friend Gaz.

In this particular snippet, they’re hiding out in a hot tub, with some rather unfortunate (for Mickey’s peace of mind at any rate) results…

            He dared to let out the breath he’d been holding since time began. ‛Phhff. Think we lost them?’

            ‛Maybe. Give it another few minutes, eh?’      

The water might be cooling, but Gaz was a warm presence at his side. And now the immediate danger had passed he was aware of a reaction of a different kind. An unwanted reaction, totally inappropriate. It must be the heat. Or Gaz’s snogging jokes. Or the adrenalin, or the relief. It couldn’t, under any circumstances, be linked to Gaz. He couldn’t—the horror—have a stiffie, sitting right here next to his mate. He couldn’t want to throw his arms round Gaz’s neck and kiss him on those endlessly laughing lips.

There’s plenty more where that came from as the rest of the book is written in the same tongue-in-cheek style – although it gets a lot darker towards the end. If you like it, why not check out Embers of Bridges, which is available on Kindle for only $4.74 or free on KU.

Posted in Books, LGBT, romance

Rainbow Snippets: a bit of archaeology

This week’s #RainbowSnippet is from my paranormal romance Trench Warfare, which is set on an archaeological excavation that seems to be jinxed. Not only is the weather foul, but the site owners want the archaeologists out of the way so they can build an apartment block and their agent isn’t above trying to help Steve and Jon on their way…

The smile was getting thinner all the time. ‛That’s a pity. I was hoping you had a magic wand.’

            I raised both my hands and waggled them. ‛Sorry. No wand. But while you’re here, why don’t I give you a tour of the site? We might not have managed much progress since I last spoke to you, but there are a few finds coming up that strongly suggest it was a religious site.’

            ‛I think the board would prefer it if there weren’t.’ He examined his fingernails as though they were the most interesting thing on earth.

I featured this book’s characters in my short story ‘Combustion’ which I blogged about earlier today, so it made sense to pick an excerpt from the book for a snippet. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you want to read more about strange staircases, an unknown temple, a broken leg and something nasty in the undercroft, then why not have a shuftie at the book. It’s available on Kindle (and KU) for only £2.99 (or your local equivalent).

Posted in Books, LGBT, News, short stories

Heat Haze price reduction

Where does the time go? I suddenly realised the other day that it was almost exactly a year since I published my collection of short sultry summer/heat themed m/m stories, Heat Haze: Summer Sizzlers.

To celebrate the anniversary, I’ve decided to reduce the price of the book. I’d always wanted to charge less for it but sadly Amazon have increased the lowest price margin on all self-published books, so I ended up with a higher price than I’d intended. That lowest price is still the same, but I’ve taken the book down as low as I possibly can and it’s now only £1.77 (or your local equivalent). And of course, it’s still free on Kindle Unlimited.

Five stories, five summery settings ranging from Salzburg in a thunderstorm to an abandoned railway carriage in… a thunderstorm, and including a Maltese sea cave and a desert where everything may not be what it seems.

SAND, SAND AND more sand. It’s all I can see in every direction, stretching to the far horizon where the dancing heat melds land and sky in improbable creases. Vast plains, wind-whipped ripples, towering dunes, all shifting imperceptibly to the rhythm of the air. The closest dune is marked by a line of sagging footprints, leading my eye to the tall, slender figure of my companion. As if sensing my regard, he turns, djellaba and robe flapping like prayer flags in the wind. Even from here I can see his sardonic grin.

            ‛You are flagging, Edward. Do you wish to stop and set up camp?’

            Damn him. We’ve only been walking for an hour, which he well knows. Guide or no guide, I can’t let him get away with that. ‛Of course not,’ I reply and trudge on. It’s the truth, anyway. The molten sun hurts my eyes, but the native dress he made me wear protects me from the worst ravages of the heat. The edge of my turban still bothers me, dipping down to dangle in my eyes, but it’s better than the alternative, a slow roasting that would send me mad with sunstroke. But I do need a drink, and I am tired of sand. Sand everywhere—in my boots, weighing down my every step, in my mouth, in the very pores of my skin. ‛Fucking sand,’ I mutter, shaking one leaden foot, but quietly so he won’t hear. I already know he’s laughing at me.

The stories are all slightly steamier than most of my usual fare. Even though summer is now on its way out there’s still enough good weather around to treat yourself to the book and take it out onto a sun lounger on the patio with a tall glass of something cool.

Fancy a bit of a sizzle? You can get Heat Haze: Summer Sizzlers at the new, lower price of £1.77 here. Happy reading, and happy whatever’s left of the heatwave!

Posted in LGBT

RoM/Mantic Reads: first story!

I’m just dashing in to say that our new m/m romance magazine RoM/Mantic Reads has its very first story up today. It’s called One Summer Night and it’s by the wonderful Kaje Harper. So what are you waiting for? Go and read this gorgeous little rite-of-passage flash fiction now. I promise you won’t be disappointed! And there’s more to come soon…

Posted in LGBT, News, romance

Coming Soon: a Brand New Zine!

Many years ago I ran an online m/m romance magazine called Forbidden Fruit. Some of you might even go back far enough to remember it! It became quite successful in its own slightly naive way but it was also a ton of work, and after just over eight years I regretfully abandoned it.

Now, though, the wonders of modern technology – and the input of over fifteen of my fellow m/m romance authors – means I can put something similar together once more. New name, new contributors, new style, but hopefully the same blend of great short m/m fiction, reviews, articles, book news and general fun.

And it’s coming soon! Very soon, in fact, with the welcome post already in place and the first story due out tomorrow (Friday 12th August). New technology equates to a blog format rather than a standalone website which is so much easier to administrate. New contributors include the likes of Kaje Harper, Addison Albright, Anne Barwell, Jackie Keswick and Jay Mountney, to name just a few. And, er, me. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!

We’ll be introducing the entire team over the next few weeks and posting some amazing short stories, so why not hurtle over to the zine and bookmark it so you don’t miss out? You can find RoM/Mantic Reads right here. I hope you like it!

Posted in Books, Holidays, LGBT, romance

Rainbow Snippets: Night Music

Yesterday’s webring blog post was about the influence of music on our writing, and I realised after I’d posted it that I’d completely forgotten to include the short story I wrote that was entirely inspired by music. So, for today’s #RainbowSnippets entry, here’s a little burst of Night Music.

The story is set in Salzburg, where the main character has won a music-themed holiday from a music-themed magazine and invites the man he fancies along. Trouble is, the course of true love and all that… Ben is sullen and doesn’t seem to enjoy anything, not even the Mozart concert that’s part of the prize. But then they discover an ancient, shrine-lined street up to a monastery, and the music of Salzburg in a thunderstorm works its magic after all.

We’re near the top now; the hill’s crowned by a monastery of some sort, remote and forbidding behind stone walls. It reminds me of Ben: the way he hides what he really thinks, the way he retreats inside himself. He’s been retreating from me long enough.

Fretting about it won’t help. I turn aside, onto a path that winds beneath the monastery wall to a viewpoint hidden among the trees. And there beneath, lit by a sudden lightning strike, the city spreads out like a jewelled tapestry.

The street, and the viewpoint, really exist – we discovered them ourselves during a stay in Salzburg a few years ago. It was broad daylight when we visited, though, so we didn’t get up to the things that happen in the story, *cough*.

Night Music is available, along with a bunch of other summer/heat-themed short stories, in my Heat Haze collection on Kindle, or free on Kindle Unlimited. If you try it, I hope you enjoy all the stories, which are a little steamier than my usual fare and mostly written with my tongue firmly in my cheek!