Saturday, June 30, 2007

Story on ERWA

My story Nations (hate the title) is up on ERWA this month.

I haven't been contributing too much lately to ERWA. I do critiques when I can, but that's the first story I've submitted in ages. Writing novels takes a lot of time, and I've been writing a few of them lately, so my short stories are suffering.

The thing about this story, and it drives me insane, is that I thought of it two days after the close of submissions for Greg Herren's queer sci-fi anthology. I might have pleaded with him for an extension, but having the idea of a story and having one written are two vastly different things, so I didn't. That gave me plenty of time to think this one over. Unfortunately, maybe too much time.

One of my deciding factors between a short story and a novel is the size of the underlying theme. Nations has a couple big ideas squeezed into it, with no room to
really explore any one of them. So while I'm okay with the story, now I'm
thinking this deserves to become a novel. *sigh* Another novel. I'm working on one right now. I guess when I finish it I'll take a serious look at Nations (and come up with a better title) and decide if I really want to pursue it. And if I do invest the months it will take to write it, who is publishing queer science fiction novels? Oh let's be honest - I know I'm going to write it anyway. It has too many of my
favorite themes (communication devices as machines of isolation, connection, the tyranny of collective correct-think, and how much I truly hate clothes and hair cuts as group identifiers) to ignore it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Big Shout Out to LA County Sheriff's Dept

and while I'm at it, the Justice Department, and the Police Department of a small town in New England. (yeah, I can see where you came from. Isn't the lack of privacy in this country simply horrifying? I mean - wiretaps without subpoenas are one thing, but some snarky erotica writer telling the world that you visited her blog is an outrage!)

I'm so glad you law enforcement types take time out of your busy day to drop in on my blog. Really. And to show my appreciation, I'll save you a little time

1) no naked pix on this site, so no need to run in waving your USC 2257 and demanding I give you the home address, social security number, and phone number of a model you'd like to stalk, er, um, investigate.

2) no erotica posted here either. Sorry to disappoint in case you felt the need to rub one off while on duty, but seeing how many of my stories have already been ripped off by copyright pirates (a crime, in case you're wondering, but I don't see anyone rushing to enforce that), I don't feel the need to gather my work in one convenient place for them. Besides, I use this blog to talk about writing, and soccer, and sometimes about my political views, which are (currently) still legal to express, not to showcase my stories. If you want to read my work, buy the books.

3) no child porn. Believe it or not, I'm strongly against child pornography and any act of non-consensual sex. Just because I write about sex doesn't mean I have no morals. I'm probably more law abiding than your average citizen. Heck - I even return shopping carts to their stall when I go to the market. I realize that the Justice Department has a vendetta against sexual acts between consenting adults, and seeks to infringe on the right of free speech of anyone who talks about it on the internet, but I don't even do that on this site.

So, my dear peace officers, thank you for dropping by while you're on duty. Glad to see my tax dollars are hard at work. But there's nothing to see here. Move along.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Very Bloody Marys

I've been indulging in a M. Christian reading binge lately. I finished his vampire tale, Running Dry (very good), and then slipped right into The Very Bloody Mary's, his newest vampire story.

Valentino is a 200-year old rookie vampire cop who is fated to spend eternity as
the screw-up assistant to undead drill sergeant cop and all around bastard,Pogue. That is, until Pogue mysteriously disappears. The powers (of the night) that be want Valentino to find Pogue and stop a rogue band of vampires who call themselves the Very Bloody Marys. The only problem is that Valentino has no clue what he's doing.
He stumbles around San Francisco, making an unholy mess of the case, while sinister otherwordly beings manipulate him into doing their bidding. Valentino isn't as
hopeless as he thinks he is though, and manages to find out what happened to his mentor, figure out who the real bad guy is, and take down the Very Bloody Marys.

The Very Bloody Marys isn't a story about being a vampire (although that's part
of it). It's a good-ole gumshoe novel, a mystery with enough twists to keep me guessing and page-turning action. The characters were so original that it never felt like a rehash of vampire legend (thank god!). And the best part - this book supplied enough of a taste of otherworld San Francisco to pique my interest, but left me wanting more. Hopefully, M. Christian will do me a favor write another one. Soon.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Scamming of Desperate Writers

Almost all of the Bradean write. Like depression, it's in our blood, and no generation escapes unscathed. And also like depression, it's been the dirty little secret that no one used to talk about even though everybody knew.

So imagine my surprise when Pop started talking about his writing. He told me, "I'll let you read my novel."

Lucky me. The chosen one.

He started mailing me manuscripts. A new one every two months or so. A couple hundred pages each - single spaced. Breathtakingly bad.

Perversely enough, I enjoyed reading the first one. To quote my favorite line from Sunset Boulevard, "Sometimes it's interesting to see just how bad bad writing can be. This promised to go the limit." But too much of even a deliciously bad thing can be too much, so I sacrificed my sister to him. I reminded him that her degree was in liberal arts, which was practically an English major, and since he'd paid her college tuition, she owed it to him to apply that degree to his work. (And to think that at the time I was pissed off that he refused to pay for my college.) Then I packed up his stuff and sent it to her. Unless she's waiting a hell of a long time to take her revenge, she's forgiven me. Amazing. But then, she's always been a much better human being than I am.

Eventually, he sent me another novel though. My only comment was that perhaps he should start a new paragraph when a different character spoke. He was furious that I dared critique him. That was followed by several years of stony silence on the writing front. Until now.

At the family reunion last weekend, Pop found me hiding in a deep chair in the living room trying to read. He started talking. Instead of playing the good daughter and pretending to listen, I walked away. He followed me. I went into the kitchen, where there were potential victims in abundance. Alas, I am truly the chosen one. Pop sat opposite me and continued talking.

Pop does not do conversations. He delivers sermons. Generally, I tune him out, because nothing is required of me but occasional eye contact and a few nods. He wouldn't get the subtle sarcasm of an "Amen."

It was a bit funny listening to him rant and rave about how unfair bookstores are
that they won't stock vanity publishing books. He doesn't use the term vanity publisher,because somehow he believes that the company he pays to print his stuff is a legitimate publisher. I don't bother to correct him. He wouldn't hear it anyway. Besides, I'm not into dream crushing.

Everyone in the family was giving me those pity looks, those "thank god it's you and not us this time" glances that are half guilt, half relief. I can't hate anyone for that. I've also given those looks to Pop's victims.

My mind wandered, as it usually does during his sermons, but something he said snapped me back into consciousness. He found an agent. Huh? Come on. Even good writers can't get agents nowadays. He must have sensed that I was listening at that point,because he told me the whole sordid tale. Some con artist is asking thirty thousand to represent him. Thirty-thousand dollars. I don't care what Pop does with his money, except that it sucks to be old and broke. So I did something absolutely
unthinkable. I interrupted his sermon and offered to be his agent for thirty-thousand. Hey - if someone is going to rip him off, it might as well be someone who will turn around and use it to pay his nursing home bills later on.

It amazes me that despite all the warnings out there that people still fall for this scam. The thing is, too many people are looking for a shortcut to success. They want to believe that the publishing world is hostile to new writers, that publishing houses "steal" ideas, and that the rules of good writing somehow don't apply to
them. There are whole groups of these people, each as ignorant as the last, and they swap around rumors and myths like they're gospel. The truth isn't that hard to find. A few hours of research on Predators and Editors would be a real eye opener. But those writers won't take legitimate criticism, they won't take advice, they won't even bother to do their homework and get educated about how the real world of publishing works. It's painful to watch. It's even worse when it's someone you know. But what can I do? It's not as if Pop will listen to me. I obviously know nothing about it.

I Survived

I took the train in from Connecticut early in the morning of the reading and DL King met me at Grand Central. We took the subway to her place in Brooklyn and hung around for a bit, talking writer stuff. She showed me her toy cabinet, which was quite impressive. Then we headed back into the city and went shopping at Purple Passion on West 20th. She was looking for a new flogger and liked a few, but lamented that there was no way to test them out. Being the pal that I am, I turned my back to her and said, "Go for it." My favorite moment - after using the second flogger on me, she said, "Too bad you have on a top, or that probably would have stung." Probably? Trust me, the shirt didn't absorb that much of the blow. The cross dresser in the back of the store darted back into the dressing room when I caught him watching us, which was too bad. I should have told him how great he looked in the blue corset, but he seemed to be avoiding us after he changed back into his khaki dockers and blue shirt. So anyway, my back stung a bit for the next hour, but it was a nice sting. (I have a small bruise on my shoulder blade - my NYC momento.)

I hung out at Union Square and people watched while DL was in a meeting. Lots of nannys with their charges. Some young lovers. *awww* One steriod case strutting around in tight black pants and no shirt. He looked like a Chippendale's dancer who aged out. Some squirrel antics, including one that stared me down while he peed. Such an attitude!

Everyone warned me that NYC was going to be hot and muggy. Not true. Weather was
perfect. Mid-eighties, not too humid. The subways were a bit stifling at first, but again, not too bad, and not very crowded. And despite their bad reputation, I found the people in NYC to be perfectly nice and helpful.

We got to the Happy Ending Lounge around 7:30. Jolie du Pre and Radclyffe were already there. Met up with Stephen - another of the Erotica Revealed reviewers - Chris, Chris's not-a-date-but-not-not-a-date friend, and Scott (who is one of the few people I know who can wear lime green. It helps, I suppose, if you're gorgeous.) The place was packed. People stood in the hallway and sat on the floor.

The first reading was actually a DVD of Peggy Munson reading from her Lambda Award nominated, Project Queer Lit winning, novel. I've wanted to see this reading ever since the SCANDAL in San Francisco. Someone should record the audience as they watch the reading so that Peggy can see how the audience reacts to her words. (the Happy Ending Lounge was far too dark to do that.)

Rachel read a bit from her cross dressing story. She had us all laughing.

Too bad we only had 10 minutes each, because I was ready to hear more of JD GLass' story. She's another Lambda Award nominee, so I was in seriously great company.

Then it was my turn. I didn't have a contributor's copy of Hot Cops with me,
because the release date has been set back to mid-July. Too bad. I would have
liked to have shown the cover.When I got up to the podium, I was so glad that I went to Amie Evans and ToniAmato's master class on readings while I was at Saints and Sinners. They said to print out a copy of the story in a big font, which was helpful,because the lighting was so dim. Also, my copy had all these nice stage cues so I knew when to slow down my pacing and what tone of voice to use for certain passages. I practiced it a lot, but it was nice to have the crutch in case my mind went blank. My legs trembled the entire time I was in front of the crowd, and I choked up where I knew I'd choke up. *sigh* But I'm so glad I did it.

During the break, I gave away every business card I had on me. People said some very nice things about my piece. Being a praise whore, I ate it up.

Jolie du Pre read part of her story from Iridescence, which I look forward to reviewing for Erotica Revealed for August. Jolie and I have been running into each other a lot this year at various cons. I so enjoy talking to her. She's vibrant and smart and beautifully feminine and cuts through the bullshit like no one else I know.

Following Jolie was Michael Luongo, who read from his novel The Voyeur. If I would have had space to carry it, I would have bought a copy from him. The two passages he read were fascinating and funny. Give it a read.

The last reader of the evening was Radclyffe. Rachel mentioned that she could always count on Radclyffe for a great story, and I can see why. It was fantastic, fun, and very sexy.

After the reading, we went out for Indian food with Jolie and her sister, Chris and his friend, DL, and someone we met at the reading (I didn't catch his name. I think he was a friend of Michael Lungo's.) The company and the conversation was great. Chris's friend creates cover art for books, so of course we had a lot of questions for him. (Yes, he reads the books he designs covers for.)

By then it was past midnight. DL and I caught a cab back to Brooklyn. I'm not sure what our cabbie did, but he got pulled over by a cop who took forever to write the ticket. I told DL that this definitely wasn't a Hot Cops kind of story. We were bored out of our minds. And the cop? meh. We never get to see the hotties. *sigh* I picked up my stuff at DL's place and grabbed a cab to my hotel. He got lost. (Dude, it's on 140th. We're on 130th. How hard can it be to drive 10 more blocks? But I didn't say anything because I didn't want to get dumped in the middle of Queens at 2AM. Those could have been fireworks that went off down the street in three short bursts, but it sounded like gunfire. Apparently mycabbie agreed, because he pulled a fast U-turn in the middle of the street and went to a well-lit gas station to call for directions.)

The air conditioner didn't work in my hotel room, and it was scorching. I dozed
between fits of grumpy wakefulness. A couple hours of that, and I was almost glad for my wake-up call. I dragged my butt out of bed, and headed to the airport for my flight.

I'm glad to be home, but it was a great experience. It couldn't have been too traumatic, because I'm willing to do another reading.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Things I Should Be Doing

1) packing for New York.
2) writing a review of Origami Striptease
3) answering my correspondence

This is one of those looking forward to it/dreading it trips. One part is a
family reunion. The other part is the reading followed by an evening kicking around NYC with Scott, (NYC Gay Cheer cheerleader who once promised to do an interpretive dance to my reading. Something I won't hold him to.), D.L. King (who always talks me into an adventure.), and Chris (On online friend who I'd definitely hang with in real life.)

I've been ordered to dress up at this reunion party. Lord knows we wouldn't
want to be comfortable out in that sweltering sun while we're not having fun. I admit, that's a lousy mind-set to start off with, but hey, I've known these people all my life (because no matter how far I run, they still find me) and if I've learned one thing, it's that vampires aren't the only creatures that can suck the life right out of you.

I've read Origami Striptease, but I want to read it again before I write my review. I'm thrilled that I'll get to hear the (now infamous. Go to Suspect Thoughts website to get the whole scoop.) DVD of PeggyMunson's reading. Having read her incredibly lyrical prose, I'm so glad I'm not scheduled to read directly following the DVD. So
I'm going to run close to deadline for that review, but I think it'll be worth it to read it one more time.

If I'm not meeting writers and editors face to face, I'm e-mailing them. So of course I fired off a million questions about everything on my mind, never thinking that people would actually answer all of them, and so soon. So now I'm pretending I don't see the huge number of e-mails accumulating in my in box and will deal with them when I get back from vacation.

That's what I should be doing. What I am doing is making blog entries and
improving my computer game scores. I have my priorities.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

How Hard Can It Be?

On June 20th, I have a reading in New York. It's part of the In The Flesh erotica reading series held at the Happy Ending Lounge.

This will be the first time I've outed myself as Jay in public. It's not
that I hide my boy smut persona, but that knowledge is pretty much
limited to the erotica world, which is small and protective of

Coming out as Jay isn't the hard part. Beyond the nearly paralyzing thought of
standing in front of an audience for any reason - the stuff of nightmares - I'm
worried about the time limit. It didn't sound so short when I was told
10 minutes, tops. It sounded like an eternity. Then I read through my
entire story aloud and timed myself. 25 minutes. Okay, something had to
go. It's an erotica reading, so the sex was a given. I cut everything
up to that point of the story. But it doesn't make a lot of sense
without the beginning, so I have to explain what happened up until that
point. Three sentences are enough to cover it, but it still eats into
my time. Even with half the story cut, I still ran over ten minutes, so
I had to edit it even more, and still more, until I get down to nine
minutes. (Eight was my target, just in case, but I'm to the point where
I can't see cutting any more.)

Okay, so I have nine minutes of story. Should be a breeze, right? Except that
I wrote a very emotional piece and I choke up when I read it. I talked to friend Trebor about my fear of getting emotional during the reading. He thought it
was cute. Good thing we were exchanging emails, because I might have
smacked him for that. Cute? Try humiliating.

I need for this to be over.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pure Brilliance

I don't know how I did it, but I slammed my hand in a door yesterday. Pure brilliance. For about seven minutes, I couldn't even flex my fingers to check if they were broken. (they aren't, but they're swollen) The SO asked to see my hand and I backed across the room, afraid he'd touch it. I've had arthritis since about third grade, so I always have some pain in my hands. Most of the time it's just background level. I'm aware of it, but it doesn't bother me. Today is one of those times that it feels like someone took a hammer and bashed each finger, but several fingers on my right hand hurt a lot too, so I don't think it's all because I slammed the left one in the door - but that certainly didn't help. So of course I have submission deadlines looming, and of course I haven't even finished the first draft. *whimper*

Saturday, June 02, 2007