Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Running Late

Well, I'm a few weeks behind where I wanted to be on Love Runes. I did my first print last night even though I know part of one scene is missing. Why I printed it before I fixed that scene, I have no idea.

I have a hard time editing on screen. I tend to see what I meant to write, not what's actually there. On paper, it hits me between the eyes. What I like to do is edit about ten pages and then fix it in the computer, and then do ten more pages. Today I hope to get through at least 50. Because I promised this by October, and it may still be October, but just barely. (Which may explain my "late to class, can't find a seat, drop my books all over the floor, stern stare from the prof" dream last night)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What's Allowed?

As I'm working through my second draft of Love Runes, I'm thinking a lot about what erotica writers are allowed to write and what we aren't. In a perfect world, where the First Amendment was respected, there would be few limits on writers. Currently, if a story is marketed as literature, the writer can throw almost anything on the page and know that his/her publisher will back him/her up. Reclassify it as erotica and suddenly the PC police are knocking. The funny thing is that the police in this case are self-policing units from the erotica publishers themselves. Not that I blame them. A literary work can show a sixteen-year old high schooler engaged in sex. An erotica writer would probably do time for the exact same scene and have to register as a sexual offender. Think I'm joking? Read Prince of Tides and then read up on the Red Rose obscenity case. Since the DOJ has almost zero respect for the First Amendment, and doesn't care so much about successful cases as persecuting people who produce stuff they don't like, no sane erotica writer goes there. We are saddled with the unrealistic world of eighteen year-old virgins. While writing sex between minors could get us thrown in jail, in many states a fourteen year-old can get married (usually to some creepy old dude. who's the pedophile here?). The disconnect between reality and what we're allowed to write is bizarre.

Certainly with the Red Rose case, and in many other cases, the text is stuff I would never want to read and I think is in (to put it delicately) bad taste, but since when is taste to arbiter of what's legal? Probably since always, but it shouldn't be that way. Muzzle voices you don't like, and the next thing you know, there are no voices left. Text - stories made from imagination - should not be treated the same as proof (such as photos) that a crime has been committed and the marketing label - literature versus erotica - should not be the determining factor when First Amendment protections are granted or violated.

Not that I'm writing that kind of stuff, but the problem is that erotica publishers are getting nervous about mentioning all kinds of sexual play between consenting adults because the DOJ is waging a morality war against anything they don't like. First Amendment be damned. The DOJ want writers in virtual burkkas. And it really is too bad, because more than anything, Sam needs a spanking, an enema, and time in a corner to reflect on his behavior. Unfortunately, no matter how much he needs it, I can't write it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Second drafts

I'll admit that I used to hate rewrites. Somewhere along the line, I began to embrace them. Now I look forward to it. There's something liberating about giving up the idea of perfection in the first draft. Most important, it makes it possible to finish the first draft. Nothing brought on writing paralysis like having to go back and change prior chapters and the pressure to get it right the first time.

One of the great joys of the second draft is seeing the subconscious themes that developed the first time around. I can weigh their importance and either edit them out or enforce them. Usually I strengthen them, because they're interesting. Those hidden themes bring out depth in the characters and sometimes reveal their secrets.

Another good thing about the second draft is the ability to fix pacing and the sequence of events. The idea is to keep building the conflict until it reaches a breaking point somewhere in the last third of the story. Once all hell breaks loose, the last third (or less than that) of the story is putting the pieces back together again but in such a way that the picture changes. Why show this great life-altering event if it has no effect on the characters? How things resolve defines the novel. Things change for the better, or the worse, or my preference - for the better but with a bittersweet feeling. Nothing is ever gained without something being lost.

So I'm deep in the rewrite of Love Runes and working on perfection this time around. As usual, I'm sloughing off a lot of the extraneous stuff and focusing on the main relationship. I have all these other characters, and the temptation is to drag them in to be catalysts in every major event, but it's more interesting, and truer, to have the change come from conflicts within the relationship, not outside it. So I'm deleting a few scenes and adding few, and moving some stuff around, but it isn't the same process as writing the first draft.

After this, nothing changes. Everything get polished, but the story is set. The only things I may add after this will be to better describe the setting. That's my weakest point, but at least I know that I need to anchor the characters in a physical place rather than letting them be talking heads.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's alive, It's Alive, IT'S ALIVE!

Okay, it's Live, not Alive, but when I'm channeling Dr. Frankenstein, I don't paraphrase.

Can you tell I'm excited? Helen Madden (writer, artist, all around extraordinary person) created this website for my other pen name.

Jay Lygon Writes.

Pretty cool huh?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dan Boyle

I went to the reading last night for Dan Boyle's new book Housecleaning last night at A Different Light in West Hollywood. A year ago, he asked me to write a blurb for the back cover. I was really flattered, but eep! My first blurb. It was a pleasure doing it. It was also Dan's birthday and someone was brilliant and brought a little cake. The crowd warbled Happy Birthday off key while Dan blushed. Afterwards, they were headed out for dinner, but I was running on my last dregs of energy, so I went home. Ahh, the glamorous life.

Oh. This story is for Trebor, since I know how much he LOVES the Abbey. After a one and a half hour drive to WeHo, I really had to pee. Since I always park across from the Abbey, I headed in there to use the bathrooom. At the gate, this guy steps in front of me and asks if I'm there for "the event." He's giving me so much attitude that I'm tempted to tell him that no, I really just think of them as a convenient pit stop when I'm in WeHo, but I don't. He directs me around to the other entrance. Whatever. Make a beeline for the bathroom. Commit eye adultery with the cutest baby dyke while I'm waiting for a stall, and then go on my merry way, about half a pint lighter.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dia de los Muertos

I had the nieces over this weekend. We made sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos. We don't have an altar to pile the skulls on, and we won't be visiting a cemetary any time soon, so we're not truly celebrating the day the right way. This was the gringo version - suitable for school credit but completely superficial. I have mixed feelings about abetting faux cultural understanding. On the other hand - why get all angsty about it when there's spare hot pink icing to decorate our own faces with? My hands are mottled with food coloring, and I've pretty much decided that royal icing is a royal pain (not to mention how bad it smells), but we had a blast.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I have a love/hate relationship with vampires. Mostly hate, although hate implies a deep emotional reaction, where my reaction is mostly eye rolling.

To be fair, I've read some decent vampire novels. The ones I like have vampires as characters but the story isn't about being a vampire. Both of M. Christian's novels come to mind as examples of stories I've enjoyed.

I also enjoyed Bram Stoker's Dracula, but for a different reason. The Romanian side of the family was none too happy with "that drunken Irishman's" vilification of the "great Christian leader, Vlad Teppes." Seriously. One wonders what it takes to be considered a bad ruler in Romania. I'd ask Nicolae Ceausescu (AKA Genuis of the Carpathains - I wonder if he picked that himself), but they executed him before the trial, twice. Once in private, and then once again in a dramatic re-enactment for the cameras. Vlad probably would have approved. But back to Dracula... Reading the book was an act of defiance against the family. I didn't care too much about vampires being unholy beings or whatever it was that got everyone's knicker in a twist. What I loved was how incredibly campy it was. Slutty Lucy, who gave into her desires instead of holding onto her virginity, dies for her sins and is buried in her wedding dress as a reminder that she can never fulfill the pinnacle of womanhood- marriage and family- so she steals a baby from a crib and snarls over it outside her crypt while a Van Helsing wields a cross and uses it to bring her to salvation. Campy, campy, campy, campy, campy.

So why am I talking about vampires? Because I'm writing a vampire story, of course. This will be my third vampire story. I always swear them off, but then I get sucked (hah!) in. I've always seen vampires as a metaphor for disease. Invite them to cross your threshold (a worldwide symbol for protection and for body) and you're doomed. Understanding the role they played in folklore doesn't make writing them any easier though.

I have this logic problem. Things have to make sense scientifically to me, even if I'm talking about mythical beings. Vampires are improbable. If they turn everyone they feed from - like members of a pyramid selling scheme- pretty soon the geometric ratio is off the charts and everyone on earth has been turned. Then what? Oh sure, by saying a person has to be bit three times slows down the conversion rate, but still...

Maybe the reason why so many vampire stories have me rolling my eyes is that no one ever brings anything new to the myth. Vampires have these set rules that they live under. No sun, no silver, no garlic. The reason for that is that when you create a super-scary Freudian creature, you have to give average Joe Villager the ability to vanquish it with items that are at hand so that the story can end with human superiority re-established. So we're all playing with an understood set of rules that haven't changed in a couple hundred years. I'm tired of it. If I'm going to write vampires, it has to be something different, because anything that can be said about vampires as we know them has already been said a million times.

Monday, October 08, 2007

West Hollywood Book Fair

I'm making these entries out of order. Sorry.

Last weekend, I worked at the West Hollywood
book fair. I had a great time working the booth with James Buchanan. We
were right next to A Different Light's space, so everyone I knew walked
by us at some point.

Lovely people I got to see:

Stuart Timmons (Gay L.A., a double Lambda Literary Award winner)

, Charles Flowers of Lambda Literary, Trebor Healey, Moses (sorry, I can never remember your last name), Thomas Roche, Ali Leibgott, Fiona Zedde, Mike Szymanski and Nicole Kristal, and

Dan Boyle.

What a Weekend!

Writer, fellow kinkster, dear friend, and editor of Erotica Revealed D.L. King came to town for the weekend. Unlike my visit to New York, I didn't get flogged this time, but not for lack of trying....

D.L. already knows LA which is a blessing as she's already been to the obvious places. We tried to find a leather store she knew, but even our combined research skills failed us. Not one to be daunted, I instead initiated her into my love of hooker boot shopping.

Alas - we took no pictures but just in case you think I'm kidding when I say hooker boots, what I mean is a store that stocks at a minimum 4 inch platform shoes in every color as well as clear plastic platforms with plastic goldfish, silk roses, or glitter in them as well as every conceivable shade of thigh high boots from black leather spiked heels to leopard print to glittery powder blue to white vinyl platforms with lip prints and dollar signs up the leg. The first store we went into was managed by a surly Russian couple who must have decided we weren't their kind of customers and pestered us until we left.

D.L said, "That's the first time I've ever been kicked out of a store for not being slutty enough."

Those Russians should have known that appearances can be deceiving. Even our fellow erotica writers would probably agree that we have really smutty minds.

The second store is my all-time favorite. The manager was nice and actually very helpful. He offered to call his warehouse to see if they had the shoe we were looking for. Is that customer service or what? If I were as graceful on 6 inch heels as the exotic dancer who was trying on the shiny red platform shoes at the back of the store, I would probably wear some of the shoes he sells.

After hours of shopping, we drove Sunset from Hollywood to the Ocean and went to the Santa Monica Pier to watch the sun set.

But the best part of her visit was, as always, the chance to talk to her. That, and getting to see her lovely new rubber skirt.