Wednesday, December 31, 2008
But that's not exactly what I meant to talk about. Helen and I are in a quiet period with our project because we both have things to wrap up first. I told her I was having visions, which is just another way of saying I'm getting brief flashes of story moments, like teaser trailers in a movie theater. So she told me to go ahead and run with it a bit. This time, for the first time, the movie in my brain is animated. That probably has a lot to do with the genre we plan to work in. We're aiming for Yaoi crossover.
I whipped up four pages on the opening sequence last night and sent them to her even though it will be a couple weeks before she gets to it. Any writer who has been in the thrall of a strong scene knows why I had to write it down. Sometimes after I come back to something I hate it, but this one is in medias res, as any good opening should be. It's got a bit of mystery (several), conflict, danger, action, drama, and shows a glimpse of the main characters in their "normal" life just before everything goes to hell. It is in keeping with the elements we talked about, but doesn't go too far into the story, so it's easily changed.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I so used to taking story ideas and mulling them over in my own weird leapfrog tangential fashion that as Helen and I lobbed killer plot bunnies of doom at each other, I started building Frankenbunny with bits and pieces of the ones that splatted and stuck to the wall - so to speak. (If you're getting grotesque mental pictures of spaghetti sticking to the wall, but it doesn't look quite like spaghetti, and there's some red sauce involved, I apologize. No real plot bunnies were harmed, or disinterred and used for parts in my laboratory.*)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but when you're working with someone, it's not quite cricket to grab the parts that look appetizing (sorry) and run off chuckling with fiendish glee. She's busy. I'm busy. We won't be free to pursue this until March. So I keep having to tell myself to have some mental restraint and not take off running with the story, because we have to develop this together. And I don't want to get to emotionally invested in my ideas before I know hers.
But it's hard. Some of those plot bunnies are giving me the come hither look. Even worse, they're beginning to seep into my dreams.
* as far as you know
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Writers seem to gripe about their covers a lot - sometimes with good reason - but my publisher has a form that allows us to have input (but not final say, of course) on cover art. For this novel, I simply wrote, "I have no idea." What they came back with is just breathtaking. I'm so happy with it. And I'm even happier that I didn't try to come up with an idea because I probably would have just mucked it up.
For several reasons, I'm not mentioning the novel title here, nor telling you what pen name I'm using, but if you know me and you want to see it, you know how to reach me.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I also pepper Chris Owen and Jodi Payne with questions from time to time. (Look out Myc and Shanye - you may be next!)
The closest I've ever come is working on an anthology Beth Wylde is editing for Phaze. She gave us the setting and a couple main characters and let several writers run with it. I had a somewhat similar idea last year for an anthology and even pitched it and got it accepted, but had to drop it (with the blessing of my publisher, thank goodness) for my YA novel.
So I'm fascinated by people who can co-write, but didn't think I'd ever seriously consider it. But... it's too early to talk about anything, because we're still brainstorming like crazy about what kind of project we might possibly do if we can get it together, but Helen Madden has been a friend for years now, and we come up with eerily similar stories from time to time. I can't remember the title of her story (she'll hopefully post it in my comments) about a man who meets a Goddess at a bar at the end of the universe, but I remember reading it on the Erotica Readers and Writers Association Story Time list at the same time I was working on She Comes Stars. I swear we didn't talk about it beforehand, but as soon as I read hers, I thought "She's going to hate me forever because it looks as if I'm ripping off her idea." Luckily, she didn't hate me forever, but ever since then, when I get hit by a great story idea, I run through her stories and make sure she didn't get there first. She usually does. Her novel Demon By Day and my novel Chaos Magic have some elements common. (They're both great reads, for one.)
Even if it never amounts to anything, this creative conversation between us is spawning plot bunnies like a tribble on shore leave. For every one she lobs over to me, I'm sending a couple back. Result? I'm up to my knees in killer plot bunnies of doom.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Fuck With Country Girls will probably make you laugh if you've ever had an internet hook-up go horribly wrong, and wished you could have gotten some sort of revenge on the psycho who wasted your time.
In other good news, Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades, or stories from it, seem to up for a slew of awards from the Golden Crown to Gaylatic Spectrum. Whoo-Hoo! Editor Catherine Lundoff is working her butt off to create buzz for this book. My story is Words Like Candy Conversation Hearts. Don't let the sweet title fool you. My ghost is malicious.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Of course, that's not the kind of galley I mean. I got the galley proof of
one of my novels from my publisher and I have to read through it for
I hate writing a synopsis. Blurbs are a little slice of hell. But galley reading? Dante's 6th,at least. You can't fix anything at this point but the little things
such as wrong words and those punctuation problems that appear out of
Does anyone else hate reading their own writing after a while? I've already read this thing about a zillion times, so one more shouldn't matter, but I'm dreading it. I have to act as if I've never read it and see what's actually on the page, not what I think I wrote. It's very slow going. It helps to read it aloud, but my voice is going to give out.
I'd love to hand this over to someone else to do, but only the author can proof a galley. Too bad. I could use a set of real galley slaves, and a golden barge so I could spend my days sailing the mighty Los Angeles River instead of, you know,
Sunday, December 07, 2008
This weekend, I went to see The Thunder From Down Under show in Las Vegas. Since I always critique the shows I see, now you get to read all about it.
Let me start off by saying the drunk Whoo-Hoo! chicks in the audience seemed to love this show. So if your idea of fun is getting drunk while sitting in a room full of other drunk women and shouting Whoo-Hoo! every time a guy rips apart his shirt to bare his sculpted, waxed, tanned, chest, are you ever the audience for this
show. If seeing one sculptured butt is all it takes to entertain you,
First - the positives. The music selection was great. I could have done without the half-assed lip-syncing, but there wasn't a bad piece of music in the set.
Second - the guys are nice eye candy (except the really bulked up muscle dude
with the long blond hair who couldn't dance to save his life, but I realize the TDU people try to staff with as many body types as possible.)
Third - the atmosphere rocked. Whoever put this show together did a great job of creating a comfortable and fun space.
Okay, before I say something negative, just remember that I called myself an
epic fail as a girl. I hate pink. A dozen roses are dead plants with their throats slit. I despise cute. I'm not a magpie, so don't ever gift me glittery shit like diamonds. And the perfect Valentines Day is one that passes without comment. Also remember that I spend a great deal of time thinking about and writing sex. Most women I've talked to (erotica writers aside, but even some of them) seem to have sex compartmentalized in this separate place outside of their everyday existence and only drag it out for special events. Not me. Sex might not be front and center in my mind at every moment, but it's always lurking right below everything else. This is the main reason why I consider myself an epic fail as a girl - but don't care.
Okay, now the negatives of The Thunder Down Under
First - The dancing. I've been to a number of adult shows in Vegas, and I notice when a show highlights - or fails to - the true dancing ability of their cast. I would have liked to have seen some more dance skills instead of so much S&M (stand and model in this instance, hon. I know that I usually mean that an entirely different way). A few hip thrusts to a microphone stand? Please. I'm not that easy.
Second - The Repetition. Yes, the Whoo-Hoo chicks went wild every time the guys came out, did some S&M, then ripped off their shirts. I think the Whoo-Hoo! chicks don't get out very often. After the third shirt-ripping moment, I turned to my accomplice, who rolled her eyes. So it wasn't just me. Even worse, the dancer's pants had saggy butts. What's with that? If I have to watch guys do a cowboy dance number in jeans instead of a pair of Ginch Gonch undies, those jeans better be showing off their assets instead of hiding them.
Third - Flesh for Fantasy. This is sort of a catch all, but it all comes down to the dancer's bodies. (Objectify, Sister!)
- I like a thick mat of hair around a guy's pecs, and love a treasure trail leading down to his g-string. Every guy in the cast was waxed within an inch of his life. Boo! Just one hairy chest would have made me much happier. If he was a brunette, so much the better, but any fur port in a storm...
- Only a few guys at TDU got down to g-strings, and their dancing wasn't anything that would get me hot and bothered, even after a glimpse of their very nice butts. I've seen enough gay go-go dancers to know what it looks like when a guy who can dance is really working it, and TDU didn't come close.
So overall, a fun evening with some R rated entertainment, but nothing I'd go to again. I definitely could have done without the juvenile gay remark to the two guys in the audience. However since I know I'm not the typical audience, I think the opinion of the other women there is more important than mine, and they seemed to give The Thunder Down Under a solid, screaming WHOO-HOO!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
well now that I've gone from a short story to a novella, so I have to
sit back and think things through.
It isn't easy telling a story from the POV of the Sir. Or I should say, it isn't as easy as telling it from the POV of the sub. BDSM stories tend to be internal journeys, and the one on the voyage of discovery is usually the sub, so most BDSM stories are written from the sub's POV. Why did I pick Ophir's head? I have no frickin' clue. That's one of those writing mysteries which will never be solved.
The story comes as it is and I don't usually question it.
Ophir's not giving me a whole lot to work with, the bastard.
I'm also not happy about how much my characters are talking. As Elvis so
rightly said, "A little less conversation." So I'm going to have to get
ruthless with my dialog. The sex though...mmmm. No problems there. (That might sound strange, but you have no idea what the burn-out rate is for erotica writers. You'd think we'd sit around talking about sex, but in reality, we talk about dreading sex scenes after a while.)
Saturday, November 29, 2008
You are the World
Completion, Good Reward.
The World is the final card of the Major Arcana, and as such represents saturnian energies, time, and completion.
The World card pictures a dancer in a Yoni (sometimes made of laurel leaves). The Yoni symbolizes the great Mother, the cervix through which everything is born, and also the doorway to the next life after death. It is indicative of a complete circle. Everything is finally coming together, successfully and at last. You will get that Ph.D. you've been working for years to complete, graduate at long last, marry after a long engagement, or finish that huge project. This card is not for little ends, but for big ones, important ones, ones that come with well earned cheers and acknowledgements. Your hard work, knowledge, wisdom, patience, etc, will absolutely pay-off; you've done everything right.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Since then, Lethe Press surged to life. Circlet Press, which I thought as on the ropes, had come back strong with forays into e-publishing and some well-received anthologies. (I wanted very much to write for a couple of their anthologies, but simply couldn't make the stories work.). Logical Lust is back in e-publishing and in print after being in limbo for a while. The biggest news to me, and one I'm cheering on, are the moves Bold Strokes Books are making. At the WeHo Book Festival, Felice Picano stopped by to chat at the booth I was working. He told me that Bold Strokes is re-releasing some of his backlist. Until that moment, I didn't realize Bold Strokes, which has been the voice of lesbian literature, had expanded into gay literature as well. So when Trebor Healey was lamenting that all his books were with defunct presses, I suggested he talk to Bold Strokes.
Steve Berman of Lethe Press and I chatted a bit via e-mail about the struggles of GLBT publishing. It's never going to be easy. Shelf space for small publishing houses is almost non-existent at bookstores. That's a blessing and a curse. Large book chains tend to place huge orders, but they return a lot of what they order. Paying the shipping back and forth, plus having to pay to print all those books that get returned, has put a few independent publishers out of business. Amazon is the best bet, but they're brutal too - demanding huge discounts and POD publishers pretty much have to use Amazon's in-house company. Epublishing just about eliminates all this foolishness, but e-books are slow to catch on with the reading public. Still - I have faith it will eventually work out. Or at least the cycle will start over again, and publishers will rise and fall. But the writers will keep scribbling away.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
This year's diversion food is roasted beets. I went to four markets in search of. Whole Foods had the golden ones I wanted, but I bought a few red ones because I wanted to stain my hands deep pink. (well, maybe not) I roasted them, peeled them, and tossed them with a bit of olive oil and tarragon vinegar (thank you for the instructions, William). I'm thinking about serving them with some blue cheese crumbles, but haven't committed yet. And yes, I'm aware that I'm the only person who will touch them. But I don't care.
The sleeper dish is a sweet potato casserole with just the tiniest bit of sugar. Compared to the beets, it looks quite harmless, and it is. It's even good. What's even better, it doesn't have 95 grams of sugar per serving. (R read through the recipe an commented that it needed marshmallows on top for a festive touch, but it isn't going to happen.)
Alas, I lost the green bean skirmish this year. My fresh green beans sauteed in olive oil and lemon juice was vetoed in favor of that canned green bean and condensed mushroom soup dish. *sigh* Can't win 'em all. But since I refuse to make it, at least someone else is taking care of it.
I made cranberry relish (uncooked cranberries, oranges, and apples) and cranberry sauce (cranberries cooked with a little orange juice and a cinnamon stick) today. I'm quickly running out of things I can make in advance. Mashed potato's (from scratch), gravy, and stuffing have to be done that day. The rolls have to be fresh from the oven too. The roasted yams and sweet potato casserole have to be made that day. I guess I can get away with making the pecan pies (one chocolate, one traditional - with a nip of Maker's Mark) the night before. Pumpkin pie is some other person's problem. (I won't cook something I can't stand to eat).
R's mother lives in mortal fear that someone will leave her house hungry, so I'm bracing for the panic attack that we haven't made enough food. Some poor soul (male) will be sent to the market with orders to grab stuff for a last minute dish, which she will make and then leave in the fridge and find while we're trying to figure out how to get the tons of leftovers inside it, and then she'll actually run around the house offering the forgotten dish to everyone who collapsed in front of the TV. One year, I expect a Mr Creosote "It's just a thin mint, Sir," moment when someone explodes from humoring her by taking a small bite.
My other pre-cringe for Thursday is that I'm sure someone will want to know where the traditional cranberry-pineapple jello mold is. No one ever eats it, so it's not getting made. End of story. The first person to complain that it's not there is going to rue the day, because I'm going to appoint them official jello mold maker for all family gatherings from now until the end of time. Can I do that? You bettcha. How do you think I got stuck with this job?
Saturday, November 15, 2008
1) The huge Prop 8 protests at City Hall. Many people came right from the protests to this fundraiser. Party chatter, as you can imagine, was very political. But the great part was hearing so many activists from the Stonewall generation talk about how excited they were to see the 20 year-olds marching in such great numbers.
2) It was brutally hot today in Los Angeles. Instead of going home and cooling off after the protests, people decided to come help raise money.
3) We could smell the wildfires in the foothills, and ash snowed down on us steadily all day - which is why my eyes are burning and my nose feels like it's about to bleed.
4) The sprawl of Los Angeles tends to isolate everyone. But today, we gathered together to help out. I love seeing community. One woman told me that she'd been evacuated from her home last night because of the fires, but she came anyway.
Unfortunately, Stuart wasn't able to attend. He needed medical transport and all ambulances were on call because of the fires.
While the party may have raised the targeted amount, Stuart needs a lot of physical therapy and the money raised today will only go so far. His friend Bill was telling me of the need to find specialized computer equipment so that he can write again. Giving Stuart back his voice won't just help him. It will help the entire queer community. So if you can give, please do. (Contact me off list and I'll get the info to you)
Friday, November 14, 2008
As the article says, Stuart is an important historian of gay life in America. But beyond that, he is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Smart, self-effacing, and sweet. I hope we're able to reach the goal of $20,000. (If you're interested in giving, contact me and I'll get the information to you.)
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'm sure those of you who write know what I mean by this. It's a wonderful thing. Creativity is such a gift, such a joy to experience. (Now you're really starting to hate me, right? Don't worry, I'll crash and burn soon, and you'll be the one on the ride.) If you know me well, you know how I roll my eyes at the mention of a Muse. It makes me think of fringe-clad ladies with kohl-rimmed eyes who recline on aubergine crushed velvet fainting couches. Yeah, I joke about Art Divas, but they really do annoy the heck out of me. Even worse are the ones who take pen names like LadyI'mAllMystickalAndShit. But I can see where the ancient Athenians might have attributed the rush of creativity to divine powers. It's temperamental, it's elusive, and it's downright maddening. But when it's here - damn. I'm having too much fun.
Friday, November 07, 2008
In an effort to clear out everything before the dreaded e-mail, I've been reading like mad. I finished my commitment for the EPPIES and am powering through a stack of books I promised reviews on. My plan is to get through January's reads by next weekend.
(Helen, I know you read this, so don't even think twice about asking me to beta read your MS. You know I'd do my swooning diva act if I was truly overwhelmed.)
But I'm flirting with danger here because I'm reading through the calls for submissions, and there are a couple that I might just squeak under the deadline if I get strict and write all weekend. You probably know how I feel about vampires by now, and I feel almost the same way about werewolves, but for some reason I'm mightily tempted to try to pull off a South American pulp fiction style La Lupa story. Because, you know, I'm insane. But before I delve into that one, I have to write a new Toy Box story with Master Ophir and Chris, since I promised an Ophir fan I would. Tick. Tick. Tick. I can hear those deadlines bearing down on me like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And of course I have my punk rocker who I left jumping on his bed, skull fucking a teddy bear while his neighbor watches him through the window. He's probably tired of bouncing by now, poor dear. No one ever said a rent boy's life is easy though.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Between now and then though, the haters are gloating. The message they're trying to send is "Give Up, Don't Even Try." Civil rights battles are never easy. One setback isn't going to make anyone give up. As for me and my house, we will fight to the end for Love.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
It never ceases to amaze me how petty people are. There isn't a finite amount of success in this world. So why be so jealous?
I hate it when people buzzkill my groove. But don't worry about me. I'll be over here writing about a punker jumping on his bed while skull fucking his teddy bear. That will cheer me right up.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
First off - I know how hard authors hustle to promote their books, and I know why they do it, but...
Today alone, I've seen 11 promos from a certain writer for her new novel. Granted, that's spread across six lists, but that means almost two posts per list just since 7AM today. Looking back three days, there are 33 promos from her for the same novel on the same lists. For the past week, that number jumps to well over 80. And it's the same damn message every time.
I am Sooooooo not ever reading that book.
BTW - my reading at Hustler Hollywood went great last night. It has a better space than I expected. Another big surprise - their coffee bar is really integrated into the community. People were out on the patio that overlooks Sunset Boulevard smoking a hookah and drinking their lattes, and other people were hanging out inside like it was Starbucks. (I didn't drink the coffee, so I can't vouch for the quality, but the scenery is certainly more interesting.) Down the street is the famous Whiskey A Go Go, and a little bit past that is the (infamous) Viper Room. Today will be the big festivities in West Hollywood, but I did see Dracula last night. He was parallel parking a Chevy Metro at a red curb. So know you know what the undead drive. And what those red curbs are for (reserved parking for vamps).
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Readings don't just happen. I mean, you usually have to hustle your butt off to get one, but sometimes they fall in your lap, like this one did. But that doesn't mean you just show up, crack open your book, and start reading. Oh no. This is a performance.
Even if you're reading from a specific story or novel, choose your passage wisely. With novels, the first chapter is a good idea, but you won't have time to read it all unless it's a very short opening chapter. The same is true of short stories. The story I'm reading Thursday was only 3500 words, but there was no way I can read the entire thing in fifteen minutes.
Or can I?
First thing I do to prepare for a reading is to read through the entire story to check how long it runs. My reading rate aloud is about 150 words a minute. Given 15 minutes, that's almost 2500 words. My choices are to leave the audience hanging somewhere mid-story or to
After four tries, I pared the story down to 2300 words without sacrificing much. Read aloud, that's 13 minutes. The extra time gives me space for a short intro to the piece (Really short. Like one sentence. Amie Evans and Toni Amato would be proud that I learned so much from their reading seminar at Saints and Sinners) and time to pause for audience reaction. I learned that at the first reading I did. People laughed for a long time at passages that I thought were only a little funny. Maybe it's my delivery.
So now after reading through it four times, my voice is ready to give out, but I know I can do it in the allotted time. Tomorrow I'll practice it twice and then I won't read it again until I'm in front of the crowd. The last thing I'll do is print it out in bold, large font with a few stage directions. (Again, it's a performance. Nothing too dramatic, but movement is important. That deer in the headlights look is no good in front of a crowd.) Now if I could only figure out how to stop from blushing madly, I'd be set.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
It goes something like:
Sit down at computer with determination to finish rewrite of two scenes.
Go back to MS (manuscript)
Notice dishes in the sink.
Go back to computer.
Go back to computer.
Sweep kitchen floor.
Go back to computer.
Swear up and down I'll only do one sudoku puzzle.
That one didn't count.
Either did that one.
Close down web browser and give self a stern lecture.
Give into temptation to answer an e-mail with a smart-assed quip.
How can it be 11AM already?
But as I promised Shawn I'd go through the edits on my YA novel by Sunday, I'm really serious about stopping this bad habit of procrastination and getting right to it.
...As soon as I finish this blog entry.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
For some reason, a bunch of anthologies I wanted to submit to had October 15th deadlines. As I struggled with stories for each of them, I realized I had to give up on most of them. One polished story going out is so much better than five half-assed ones. So I went with my strongest tale and grudgingly gave up on the others. I'm still not happy about it. Three more anthologies I'm interested in have mid-November deadlines. I hope to make all three, but I have a feeling it's going to come down to priorities again. (For the very dear fan who wrote and asked for more Ophir and Chris stories, I promise that the plan is to make one of these stories about them)
Last weekend was family. Big family party on Saturday, followed by a day at The Land (Disneyland) on Sunday. I'm the only non-Disney geek in the clan, so after twelve hours, I was ready to go. Luckily (this is the only time I'll say this about my job) I have to be at work 6:30 AM. That's a valid excuse to leave before the fireworks. Yay!
That should have been the end of that, but oh no.
In September, I joined the Erotica Readers and Writers association review staff. For November's entry, I had two companion books to read instead of the usual one. Then, of course, I have my ongoing commitment to Erotica Revealed. So that was three anthologies to read and then review. I sent off the last review last night.
October 30th, I have a reading at In The Flesh L.A. at the Hustler Hollywood store. If you're in town, please come. I have yet to start practicing for that reading. And yes, you have to practice for a reading. It's a performance after all. That means timing myself on several read throughs and smoothing out any sections that are tongue traps. If I don' t have time to do the whole story, I have to choose which part will have the most impact, or I have to condense it. Either way, it will take me at least three evenings to prep for it.
But wait, there's more. There's always more. And for this, I only have myself to blame.
My editor has been waiting patiently for a week to see my edits on a YA novel. That I'm starting tomorrow. (I promise Shawn, I really do.) Once I get stared, it usually goes fairly fast. I'm not the type to argue of most edits. However, I know I'm going to have to re-write one scene that includes a blow job. As a writer, my editor doesn't want to change the scene as written because it's a rather raw and honest, but we both understand the realities of the market and know it simply won't fly as written. It would seem easy enough to rewrite, but there are some heavy emotional buttons being pushed in that scene and I have to substitute the unacceptable part with something that's acceptable but that still has the same impact on the characters. I have an inkling of how I can get around this, but until I'm submerged back into it, I'm not sure if it will work. The sad thing about our society is that the casual brutality in the story is perfectly acceptable, but a blow job? Egads.
And then there's...
I agreed to be a judge for the EPPIES again this year. I did eight or ten books last year. This year I'm reading 15. I think I've found the upper limit on the number of books I can read in the given time period. Yes, I read the entire book. Every word. Just the same as when I do a review. That's a lot of words to absorb. But it makes me grateful for the differing styles of writers, and the way storytellers can, from the first sentence of their work, make something fresh. Plus I always end up judging categories I don't usually read much of, so I get exposed to some cool reads I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own.
Okay. So that gets me through mid-November. I think I'm working a soccer tournament the weekend after that, plus there's Thanksgiving, and a trip to Las Vegas at the beginning of December. Then I'm free and clear. Right? Please say right. Oh crap, I forgot about the edits on my other novel that are coming in December. *flips through calender* How far away is Saints and Sinners? I think I need some serious decompression time.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
My theory of house keeping has always been that if I didn't make the mess, I'm not the most qualified person to clean it up. Obviously, the person I live with doesn't feel the same way.
Once upon a time, I worked two jobs so that I could have a housekeeper once a week. When I started writing again, I gave up the weekend job and the housekeeper. We didn't fool ourselves into believing either one of us would take up the slack. The bathroom and kitchen were the focus of any real cleaning energy. Everything else got sporadic attention.
But now, as I said, the relatives are descending upon us. A glance around the hovel makes it clear we've been shirking our housekeeping. If I had any guts, I'd leave it as is and just ignore the horrified looks from my father who used to wake me at 7AM every Saturday morning with my marching orders for the day. Deep down, I'd be thrilled if he turned on his heel and refused to stay another second. But I'm gritting my teeth and playing nice, so by the time the relatives come over, the place will warrant a Sanitized For Your Protection sash across the doorway.
Aside from the teetering stack of smut next to my computer, there's also an aggressive dust bunny clinging to the underside of our fridge. Don't even get me started on the confused jumble that is our combined shoe collection. At about the fourth hour of cleaning today, we joked about renting an apartment down the street and pretending we'd moved. Six hours into a cleaning frenzy that's made the hovel actually look worse than it did before, the SO is taking a long deserved break. He's wistfully looking through the apartment ads. With only four days to go to R-Day though, I think the wiser choice would be to throw a circus tent over the hovel, claim we're being fumigated for termites, and take a suite at the marina Hilton. After all - they have a bar downstairs. And daily maid service.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Thursday, October 02, 2008
I'm still with Erotica Revealed. I covered Madder Love for ER this month. Read it here.
And this is crossing pen name lines, but who reads this blog that doesn't know I'm also Jay Lygon? So I have two stories coming out at Torquere this month. I have a story in Toy Box: Everyday Items. (A Small Sphere of Influence) Think of all the kinky possibilities of everyday objects around your house. The one I used was a small red rubber ball, and I used it as a sex toy three different ways. You'll have to read it to find out how.
I also have a Halloween short coming out toward the end of the month for Torquere's annual Halloween Sip Blitz. Last year it was Vampires! In Space! (Feed) This year it's Pan and a faun seducing a human in the French Quarter (The Bewitching Hour), inspired by a go-go dancer I saw dancing on top of the bar at Oz a couple years ago.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
We, the People of the United States of America are sick of providing welfare for the wealthy. This time, we want it written in stone that the people who caused this crises will be the first to pay to repair it. We want the top executives of AIG, Freddie Mac, WaMu, etc. to pay back every damn dime they were given over the past three years, and for those funds to be used to bailout the financial sector. When they're reduced to sleeping in doorways, then the government can come to me for the remainder. Oh - and Congress, don't forget to hit up every single member of the boards of these companies who approved these huge payouts. We want them to be held personally responsible for signing off on huge bonuses to guys who ran these companies into the ground. Cut the cords on the Golden Parachutes. No severance packages for failures! You politicians are so great about talking up personal responsibility. Let's see you actually follow through. For once, please prove that you mean what you say. Make reparations the cornerstone of the bailout - you broke it, you bought it. Then, just maybe, you'll get my consent as a taxpayer to approve the bailout plan.
Monday, September 29, 2008
I was at dinner with friends of a friend several weeks ago and one of the psychologists there mentioned that many writers suffer from depression and tend to be introverts. I can't disagree with either of those generalizations.
How do you reconcile the two? If you're like a lot of writers, you don't. You
stay hidden. Maybe you have a website. Maybe you belong to writer's lists. Maybe you seek reviews. Maybe you have friends who "hand sell" copies for you. Or maybe you come out of your cabin and trudge back to civilization for a book festival.
A long time ago, I worked in a boutique in a mall. Observation of the stores around us taught me something - people were more likely to come into the store if there
were other customers inside. It also helped if we looked busy. So instead of parking my ass behind the counter, on very slow days I'd go fuss with the displays up front. If people walked by, I'd make sure to catch their eye and smile, and then get back to whatever project I was doing. That didn't always work, but it did often enough that someone would come in. Maybe they didn't buy, but if they came in, we'd often
get other shoppers.
At the American Book Expo and the West Hollywood Book Festival, the same thing happened. People wandered past the many rows of booths but weren't really shopping. Neither were big book selling events. The idea was to get the name out there so that
people were aware of the product. At both events, I walked around and saw booth after booth manned by obviously bored workers. No one stopped to look at their stuff. That didn't happen at the booths I worked at. I was blessed both at Book Expo and the WeHo Book Festival to have booth buddies who stayed on their feet the entire time and tried to engage almost every person walking by. By the end of the day, we'd talked
ourselves hoarse and we'd given away tons of promotional merchandise. Motion catches the eye even more than color does, so we kept moving. Between smiles, sassy come hither lines, and the energy we put out, we almost always had people visiting our booth. Once people started coming over, we didn't have to work as hard to get others to wander over. Success and positive energy attracts like nothing else. (Free shot glasses and colored condoms don't hurt, either) Sure, we got trapped talking to
lonely people who just wanted to chat forever about nothing, but hey, that's amitzvah. Besides, it looks as if someone is deeply interested in your products. Win-win.
Maybe a better title for this entry would have been "You Gotta Get Out There
And Hustle Your Ass Off." For one day of your life, you can pretend to be one of those bold, perky people who likes strangers and loves giving the same pitch a hundred times. Pretend you're someone else. If you have a pen name, slip into that persona and sell it, baby. Because if you don't, no one will.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Festival this Sunday. Look for me at the MLR booth, or hanging out next door at sister booth Southern California Erotica Writers or at my publisher's booth Torquere Publishing. If you're there, stop by and say hi.
Sure, I work a booth, but I really go there to be a fan girl. I'll finally get to meet Donna George Story. Friend Trebor Healy has a reading. The comics section is amazing. Lots of manga publishers. Tom of Finland always has a booth.
My other favorite part is the old Russian ladies. They act as if they can't comprehend the word gay, even though they live in West Hollywood, but they sure do scoop up lots of cover art postcards that feature nude men.
I never did figure out what they were all about, but last year a bunch of twinks in pink bellhop hats and tight, brief, white shorts were running around the place.
Monday, September 22, 2008
That translates well to writing. For one story, I'm looking into the duties of a deck hand on a tow barge on the Mississippi River. For another, vanilla production in Papua New Guinea. I can spend hours doing this. Do I need to know about the tectonic plates that converge under Papua New Guinea? Not for my story, but it's fascinating stuff. I even know the name of the major daily newspaper in Papua New Guinea and what language (they have over 800 to choose from!) it's printed in.
The hardest part about research is knowing when to say when. And I'm not talking about the obvious procrastination going on here. I'm talking about how much of that research should go into the story. The problem is much worse for people who write historicals (god, I love reading them, but I just don't want to go there writing one.) than it is for those of us who write contemporary (any genre), fantasy, or science fiction. But it's still a problem. You learn all this cool stuff and want to get it into a story, but at some point you have a character soliloquizing about the spot market rate for vanilla beans and hand pollination - and you've just killed your story. So where do you draw the line? Where does the unique jargon of a job stop flavoring a story and become an impediment to smooth reading? Where do tiny details mark you as a crashing bore versus someone who knows of whence you speak? (someone asked about a policeman chasing a thief through the London sewer in the 1750s on one site I belong to. Problem is - there was no organized police force in London until about the 1820s, and no sewers for years after that.)
This is where my experience doing executive briefings comes in handy. Try to offer only three major metrics (facts) that are big picture items. Jargon should fit into the flow of the conversation and be as self-explanatory as possible within the context of what the characters are talking about. (And it should be pertinent to the plot.) Action should clarify (You don't have to have a character stand up and give a speech about the duties of a deck hand on a barge if the characters are doing it.) Ignore cool stuff that doesn't directly affect the characters during the story, but try to use unique events and props of that setting as plot points. The story is about the characters, not the facts, not the setting, not the props, not the jargon. Keep your focus on them and you'll be fine.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The question: How do you use props to evoke atmosphere? Are props just part of the setting, or are they important touchstones or emotional shorthand?
Beginning writers confuse the props in a scene with creating an atmosphere. A four-poster bed with red velvet curtains can be erotic, posh, period, tacky as hell, sinister, trying too hard, or romantic, but not because of the piece of furniture. What makes it any of those things is the emotion it evokes in the main character and the tone of the piece. A bare mattress on the floor is a place to sleep too, after all. And a bare mattress on the floor can evoke any of the same feelings if the flow leading up to seeing that prop channels the reader and the main character into the right frame of mind. That's my opinion. What's yours?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This question comes up a lot on my writer's lists. Once you've written a number of stories, I think you get a feel for the word count you're going to end up with, but it isn't always clear. Some seasoned writers intend to write a short and get so caught up in the characters that they realize there's a novel in there somewhere. But where experience helps is when a seasoned writer can keep that story short and then go on (maybe quite a while later) and extend those characters into a novel.
The word count is influenced by many things, but I'd say time frame of the plot and size of the idea are most important. Many good short stories show a span of time, but the strongest ones seem to center on a specific moment in time. They also focus on a central idea and explore it in brief depth. The bigger the idea, the more words you need to explore it. The more complicated the plot, the more words you need. The more shifts in time you have, generally the higher the word count.
If you read a call for submissions to an anthology, check the word count. If it's literary erotica, you're going to see an upper limit of around 5,000 words. That means you have to cut to the chase, hit the ground running... whatever term you use for getting down to business quickly. Within the first paragraph, you should have broached the topic of your literary thesis (the main idea) and made some statement about who your main character is. Keep this mantra in mind - "What is this story about?" Answer that question, and only that question. Do it succinctly.
If you're writing genre erotica (romantic erotica) and you're dealing with an e-publisher, the definition of a short story ranges by publisher from an average of 4,000 words to a minimum of 10,000. Read the call for submissions carefully. A longer word count gives you more room to play with time, theme, and characters. You can (although I wouldn't advise it) take much longer to define your central character and pose your problem.
Literary erotica publishers rarely take novellas. If you can't trim your story under 7,000 words, and the upper limit on the call is 5,000, write a respectful letter to the editor asking for permission to submit it anyway. The worst that will happen is that you'll be told no. Trust me - editors do not come to your house and make you write "I will only try to submit stories that fall within the word count guidance in the call for submissions" five hundred times in an essay book.
Many E-publishers of romantic erotica will accept novellas. But do me a favor. At the end, don't do the wrap up paragraph. Resist the temptation to write "Mary Ann went on to become a successful fashion designer, and married Jack, while her archenemy from design school - the scheming bitch who tried to steal Jack away from her - became the night shift fry cook at a skid row diner. " I should be able to imagine that continuation from what you wrote in your story. Even though it's a novella, it is a self-contained story that ends with the last period. Anythiing that happens after the story you're telling has ended belongs in a different book.
Novels, as with this blog entry, can start as a simple enough idea, but there are so many complications that it takes a while to work through to the end. You'll know if you don't have a big enough idea to sustain a novel if you get bored and run out of steam at about the seventh chapter. The fun of creating your world is past. Your characters are defined. Your problem is stated and you've set about resolving it. And then... it seems as if you have to throw in ridiculous complications to keep it going. If you're tempted to take the shortcut and zoom on to the end when you're only 20,000 words in, do it. Then find a publisher who takes novellas.
But what if you're 200,000 words into what was once a short and you're still going strong? Trilogy, honey. Start thinking trilogy.
For those of you unclear on the concept - sharing files of e-books is illegal. It's theft. Don't get all huffy and self-righteous, because you know you're doing wrong. When you bought the e-book, you agreed that it was for your use only. Not for you and some of your friends, and not for you and whoever has access to your file sharing account. Putting a copy out on the internet for other people to download is just morally wrong. And before you make some snide remark about publishers, or it not really hurting, please understand that there are some writers who make their sole living this way, and some of them have kids with medical problems, or have medical problems themselves. Some live close to poverty. Would you feel it's right to go into their house and take a dollar out of their wallet? No. After taking that dollar, would you then hold the door open so a bunch of strangers could also help themselves to a dollar from the writer's wallet? No. But guess what - sharing files is the same thing. So please, be your better self and stop stealing. Okay?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I suppose if you're a certain type of writer, you don't have to do any promotion, but we mere mortals work our butts off at it. Was it Macy of Macy's Department Store who said, "Half of all advertising is wasted. I just which I knew which half?" At least half of all time spent on promotions is wasted, but which half? I have no clue. So I do it all - chats, blog entries, writer's and reader's lists, social lists, readings, working book fairs, literary festivals, private correspondence, publisher promotions and writer's collective promotions. It takes a lot of time.
Another thing no one ever warns new writers about is how much time submissions, editing, etc. can suck up. Getting work accepted is only the beginning of the process of publishing.
There's a never-ending cycle of reading calls for submission, thinking up stories, first draft, second draft, polish, polish, polish, submit, acceptance, edit, promote, that leaves little time to cherish each word and set it like a jewel on the page next to the prior jewel so that you end up with this exquisite string of words like beads on a necklace. In my fantasies, at some point I'll be able to slip away to a cabin in the woods and devote myself to ars gratia artis. But I suspect that the reason it hasn't happened yet is that existing in such a vacuum would cause writer's block. That and I'm afraid that left to my own devices, I might turn into an art diva. (Fringe, velvet, paisley, and a turban - kind of like Lord Byron.) So maybe being busy all the time is a good thing. At least it stops me from committing crimes against poetry.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Of course, my first thought was lime green gelatin with mandarin orange slice and tiny marshmallows, because it reminds me of church pot lucks of my youth, but then I remembered that I once duped some poor foreigner into believing the dish was deeply symbolic* and decided I couldn't go there again.
So, this being erotica writers, my first thought was rude molds, but I don't have time to hunt them down. Since most of us write GLBT, this might be a good idea, but it's a lot of work and involves poking my finger into the gelatin (seriously. I read the instructions).
Then I thought maybe something over the top American like this: Gelatin and fake whipped topping in one fell swoop.
But this lovely idea caught my eye. I thought, hey, erotica writers! I'll bring this and set the dish on top of a vibrator! It'll be just like those old football games that vibrated to move the players down the field! (This is dating me terribly, and the joke would be too obscure for someone who didn't know about those toys.)
So what do you think? Remember, ironic is the key word here. Don't be afraid of tacky. Tacky on purpose is kitsch.
* This was at a Thanksgiving dinner. The guest in question pointed at the quaking lime green mold and asked with no small amount of trepidation in her voice what it was. Thinking swiftly, I told her that it was symbolic of the long, hard winter the first Pilgrims endured. I told her that many of the Pilgrims starved to death, so in desperation, they sent out fishing boats, but since it was winter, all they caught was jellyfish. But lucky for them, the jellyfish all had these small fish in their tentacles, and the Indians taught the Pilgrims how to get the fish out of the jellyfish without being stung, and that's how the Pilgrims survived their first winter. I said that the marshmallows symbolized the corks on the floating nets, the gelatin represented the jellyfish, and of course, the mandarin slices represented the fish. Then I had the gall to say in my extra-perky voice, "See? Now it all makes sense."
I will surely burn in hell.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Every day, a new story or sip or fun stuff donated by an author is on the site. href="http://www.torquerepress.com/anniversary/">Go Here to read. But that's not all by a long shot! You can collect clues for the href="http://www.torquerepress.com/contest/scavengerhunt.html">scavenger
hunt. Winner wins an Amazon Kindle loaded with Torquere books from the authors who donated to the prize (I'm one of them).
And mid-month the Wedding Sip Blitz comes out. Proceeds from this will be
donated to Lambda Legal to help fund the fight to keep same sex marriage legal in California.
So join the celebration!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
M. Christian is teaching an erotic writing class in San Francisco. (Information below) If I lived there, I'd go. If you live there - come on, try it! I can almost guarantee you'll have fun. Tell him I sent you.
M. Christian is a successful, and acclaimed, erotica writer. Plus he's a hell of a nice guy. He and partner Sage Vivant were my editors for Garden of the Perverse and Amazons: Tall Tales of Strong Womes, and I'd work with them again in a heartbeat.
(reposted with permission)
Come one, come all*
to the definitive class in erotica writing, taught by a master of the genre
Sex Sells: How to Write & Sell Erotica
Sunday, October 12th, 1pm - 4pm
$40 before Sept 30
$50 after Sept 30
Downtown San Francisco (location revealed after registering)
Register Via PayPal: Zobop@aol.com
The market for erotic fiction and nonfiction is booming! There actually is a secret to writing great erotica - and you'll discover just what that is in this fun, hands-on workshop with well-known erotica writer and teacher M. Christian.
For the beginning writer, erotica can be the ideal place to begin writing, getting published, and -- best of all -- earning money. And for the experienced writer, erotica can be an excellent way to beef up your resume and hone your writing skills. M. Christian will review the varieties of personal and literary expression possible in this exciting and expanding field. He'll also teach you techniques for creating love and sex scenes that sizzle.
Learn how to:
* Get started writing for and selling to this growing marketplace
* Free your creativity and get past inhibitions
* Avoid cliches, common mistakes, and pitfalls
* Write what editors and publishers will want to buy
* Plus: current pay rates, how to write for a wide variety of erotic genres, from magazines to websites, where and how to submit your erotic writing, and more.
Students will also receive:
* Several informative handouts including a list of top-notch markets and venues for erotica, as well as funny and educational articles and columns
* A personal invitation to contribute to a special erotica project
* 50% off a wide selections of erotica books
* A free autographed copy of M.Christian's collection Filthy: Outrageous Gay Erotica
The class is open to everyone (over the age of 21) interested in writing all kinds of erotica: gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, fetish ... you name it!
M.Christian is an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 300 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many, many other anthologies, magazines, and Web sites. He is the editor of 20 anthologies including the Best S/M Erotica series, The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, and many others. He is the author of the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll. His site is www.mchristian.com.
For more information write M.Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
This challenge has been making the rounds in my writer's groups.
My first inclination was to go wit:
Inject the absurd; smoke the surreal.
But now I think this better summarizes me:
I'd bring popcorn to the Apocalypse.
What about you?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
have many reference books. The ones that are titled "How to Write..." are generally of no use. They sell well, but they don't teach anyone how to write. The ability to write is a creative talent. Writing well comes from learning the craft. The only way to learn the craft is to write, take criticism, learn from it, and write some more. Reading many well-written books from a writer's perspective will teach you a lot.
There. I just saved you twenty bucks. The books I feel are worth keeping on hand are Browne & King's Self Editing for Fiction Writers, a good world atlas, and Mary Varchavers and Frank Moore's The Browsers Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases. Sure, I have a lot more, but those are the ones I use a lot.
Just as important are writer's groups, especially ones on the Internet. Some people like getting together with a group that meets face to face, but even if you can find such a group, they're writing at the same level as you, you have the time to meet, and the energy of the group keeps it going, you'll still want online groups too. Why?
1) Sheer numbers. An online group can have hundreds of members. That's great when you need information quick. Setting your story in a city you don't know well? Need to know something about motorcycles? Thinking of submitting to a publisher and want the scoop on them? Someone in a big group will know, or they'll put you in touch with someone who does.
2)Time management. With a list, people can respond when they have time, which helps keep an active core alive. It also means that you can post your questions as they arise instead of waiting a week and a half for your group to meet, only to have the time absorbed by the diva who delivers a tiradeagainst someone who Just Doesn't Get Her Magnum Opus and wouldn't know art if it bit him in the ass. Oh sure, online groups have members who dominate with their personal issues, but flouncing off
an electronic listdoesn't have the same dramatic flair as gathering your things and stomping out of the coffee shop in a huff.
3) Fit. If you're in a critique group, you want the other writers in it to be slightly better than you. It will help raise the level of your work. If you write genre, you want to be with people who already understand that genre. There are hundreds ofcritique communities online. One will be right for your level of writing and your genre. While you're at it, you might as well join a few other groups that focus on other things thancritique . Some groups talk about the business aspect of writing, so you can get a lot of advice about publishers, submissions, etc. If you write (for example) paranormal erotic romance, join a romance writer's group, an erotica writer's group, and a paranormal writer's group. It'sgoing to be easier to find groups that fit your needs online than it will be in physical space.
4) Promotion. Especially if you write romance, erotic romance, paranormal romance, etc. (but this holds true of any writer in any genre) you're going to want to hit the ground running with promotion ideas when you get published. Many of these groups offer chances to reach readers. Spending a weekend in chat is a lot easier and cheaper than doing aphysical book promotion tour. Some groups don't hook you up with readers, but offer solid advice about cheap and efficient ways to get your name out there.
Even though the Internet doesn't have everything, it sure has a lot to offer a writer beyond research. (I hope that mollifies the Internet Gods, because I'm still looking for that information on riverboat barges)
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
But despite my mad search skills, the Internet has failed me. I can not find out what the daily duties of a deck hand on a riverboat barge are. Nor can I find what the various parts of a barge are called. I found job listings for deck hands, but the were short on details. (I did find out they tend to work 28 days on/ 14 off, and the
pay is kind of lousy considering how dangerous and physical it is) So please, if you've ever worked on a barge on the Mississippi, email me. I have questions. So many questions. The person who can answer them will be conferred god status for at least a week.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Stories don't really come from nowhere. They come from the imagination. I think storytellers have strange connections in their brains that link up unrelated events and experiences and blend them like a frappichino until viola, story! When I read a call for submissions, those synaptic nerves fire up, grab whatever weird bits it can from my memory, dashes into my kink fantasy vault for a little flavor, gives 'em a whirl, and slaps a venti bisexual erotic mystery frappe on the counter before me.
Lucky for me, my brain is as full of esoteric facts as a Jeopardy contestant's. I read everything from news items about Big Foot to scientific articles about catalytic crackers, and I retain an astonishing amount of what I read. It's hard to find a subject that doesn't fascinate me. Add to that the amazing sites that happen right in front of me - a jazz funeral in New Orleans, a twenty-foot long gay pride parade in Milan, a drum major practicing his strut and mace twirling as he walked down Lincoln Blvd. - and I have a lot of material to draw from. That's been important these past couple weeks as I've been working on so many stories.
Except that it's failing me for one call, and that's driving me nuts. No matter how hard I try, I can not come up with a story for Jolie du Pre's next anthology. I really want to get something in to her, and I have a week or so left to do it, but that's cutting it very close even if I had a story to write. Which I don't. Nothing. Every little inkling I get fades to nothing just as I try to get interested in it. I've never been able to force a story. It either comes to me or it doesn't. Right now, I'm tapping my fingers on the counter and wondering just what's taking so long for my hot tall swinger fantasy to go.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
My single sip menage story Georgie Cracks the Case (The raunchy love child of The Thin Man and 1940s screwball comedies) went on sale today at Torquere. But what really has me dancing - I got word today that two of my novels were accepted for publication. One is Personal Demons (under my Jay Lygon pen name) the other is a YA novel that I won't name here. Of course, now this means I need a third pen name. Hmmm.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
The best part of the evening was listening to my friend J laugh and giggle as she sat next to me. Her husband is terminally ill and just went back into the hospital a couple days ago. He insisted that she go with us instead of hanging around the hospital with him. For two hours (straight through, I don't know how he does it), J was transported out of her worries and into joy. And for that alone, Mr.Izzard, I can't thank you enough.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
I barely squeaked in under the wire on my Where the Girls Are submission. Oh man did I have fun with that one. The title is Don't Fuck With Country Girls. It's a little slice of revenge fantasy with a lot of hot sex. The only thing that makes me pause a bit is that I wrote it present tense. I rarely do that. The only other present tense story I have published is Red By Any Other Name, and now when I look back at
it, I wonder what ever possessed me to write it in the present tense, but I do remember making that choice deliberately at the time. This one just sort of worked out that way. When I edited it, I thought about making it past tense, but the opening paragraph is:
"My clit is fat and sassy. She peeks out between my lips to lick my panties as I
walk up the stairs to the metro station. She knows I’m taking her to you."
I don't see that working as well in past tense.
Last weekend, I saw that the theme this weekend on ERWA's Story Time is mysteries. I haven't subbed a story there in ages. I've only just eased back into critiquing. But who can resist a mystery theme? The theme used to always be noir. I love noir, but I'm glad they expanded it, because so few people write noir well. So I have a caper in mind, and I'm plugging away at it. It's (as I said about my other piece with these same characters) so frothy it's almost foam. The caper isalmost an afterthought. But man, it's a lot harder to write 1940's style overlapping dialog and banter than it
would seem. The words really hold up the structure of the piece, so if I have to change a phrase, every supporting and following piece of dialog is affected. Plus it's hard to make it sound natural and not forced when it's not natural at all, and it is very manipulated. It has to be done in two days. Yipes. But I think these tight deadlines are good practice.
After this, there's another call from Jolie du Pre that I want to try to submit something to, I don't even have an idea yet. I only have three weeks to get it to her. But after that? Yes, dare I hope, I think I'm in the clear. except the novel I'm writing. And lord help me if I glance at the calls for submission, because I'll probably find something there that interests me
BTW - for the past two weeks, my Earthlink has been extremely wonky, so I've had little internet connection. Hopefully they'll solve this soon. But I doubt it. They suck.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I do not know this publisher, so this isn't an endorsement, but for those of you who have The Leatherman's Handbook in your library, you might be interested:
Call for Submissions
Palm Drive Publishing
Mark Hemry, Publisher
San Francisco CA
"Untitled Larry Townsend Memorial Anthology"
Who Dies with the Most Column Inches Wins. When the prolific and
beloved and controversial pioneer activist of leather politics and
leather literature Larry Townsend passed July 28, 2008, the legend
became myth. The new anthology The Untitled Larry Townsend Memorial
Anthology invites personal and professional manuscripts from anyone who
has a reminiscence or analysis of Larry Townsend's impact on leather
heritage, on Drummer magazine, and on their own personalleathersex
lives, on gay popular culture, etc. The extraordinary concept is to
memorialize Larry Townsend as a person as much as an author. Proposing
aLeatherfolk anthology similar to the classic book by Mark Thompson (1990), Mark Hemry
, an intimate friend of Larry Townsend, has poised his Palm Drive
Publishing to produce for Spring 2009, a collection of writing and
photographs and drawings memorializing Larry Townsend for the force he
was in helping people exit the leather closet, enjoy legitimate gay
literature with leather andBDSM and futuristic themes, and be safe and
sane in their S&M and edge play, etc. Articles can be positive or
Submissions may have been published before in any medium.
Disclosure So You Know Where You Stand: A suitable contract will be
signed for all editions paper and electronic of the book. Editing,
other than for grammatical clarity of sense, may be suggested for any
submission but not without permission of the author. Manuscripts will
mostly be "published as received." Therefore, authors are counseled to
say exactly what they want to say cleanly and perfectly in their
final-final and very proofed copy. (You are the keeper of your own
literary reputation, and can re-publish your work at will citing the
title of the "Larry Townsend Anthology.") Contributors of writing and
photography and art work, who must sign that they own their own
copyright, will keep ownership of their own copyright.
"Honorarium Payment" is five copies of this historically important anthology.
Deadline: December 1, 2008
Publisher Mark Hemry
is accepting for consideration: Personal Essays about Larry Townsend;
Interviews of Larry Townsend; Pop Culture and Academic Articles on
Larry Townsend or on Any of His Novels or Fiction or Nonfiction; GLBT
and Leather-Heritage Historical Essays on How Townsend's Influence
Molded Leather History; Incisive Character-Catching Poetry about Larry
Townsend; Analysis of Themes in the Writing of Larry Townsend's Fiction
and Nonfiction, Especially TheLeatherman's Handbook; Significant
Letters to and by Larry Townsend; even Fantasy One-Act Plays of, Say,
"My Dinner with Mr. Townsend" That Capture Something about His
Character and Influence; as well as Photographs and Drawings. Authors
are encouraged to be inventive in capturing the truth of Larry Townsend.
Email submissions to Mark Hemry at email@example.com
Please put "Larry Townsend" in the subject line.
Payment: Five copies of published book.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
It was nice taking time off work, up until the point where I walked into work and found a mound of troubles waiting for me. It's good to be missed, but come on people. Solve a few things yourselves.
I spent last weekend in San Francisco with friends. I got a good chuckle out of the tourists waiting in line at Powell for the cable cars who were wearing shorts and short sleeves. I had on a scarf, a jacket, leggings, and a hoodie, and even though we hiked all over Haight-Ashbury (sad to see how many teens still feel compelled to run away from home) and Golden Gate Park, there were times when I was cold. Thank goodness for the warming properties of a martini.
I also got to read a lot. Finished the first of the Dresden Files series, will read the next one, told the SO it was his kind of book. Read Ginn Hale's Wicked Gentlemen. Thank you for the recommendation, Syd. It was great. Also read Madder Love from Rebel Satori Press, finished J.D. Salinger's short stories, The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, and The Good Thief by James Buchanan (recommended). I haven't done this much pleasure reading in a long time.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
BTW - the quote heading this entry is from an interview I heard a long time ago. My morning show radio guys were talking to a man who ran a small "star in your own porn film" studio. They were talking about the different sets. He said they had a dungeon, a Victorian bedroom, the back seat of a car, and a sheik's tent (I think. It's been a long time, so my memory my be faulty.) When asked what was the most popular set, he said: "We run about 90% dungeon here." I don't know if this means that BDSM folks are more likely to be exhibitionists or if they tend to be comfortable enough with their bodies and sexuality to want to star in their own porn film, or if it means that people who make personal porn films want an exotic setting and a dungeon fits the bill. It might be shades of all that. I just love that quote.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I didn't mean to. Honest. Lord knows I hate to read that voice. For Scarecrow's Bible I was willing to grit my teeth and plow through it, but that was my limit. So why did I write a story that way? I have no clue. It just sort of slipped out like a huge faux pas on the first draft and I didn't even realize it until I read it through. Then horror dawned. I/You. Ack. Cringe. Mortification!
*Back away slowly from the computer and shake head in disbelief while a low groan rips from my chest.*
So now you know my dirtiest secret, and my shame.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I'm expecting the editor for my menage line short to send the edits any day now. I'm carrying those characters over into a novel, which I'll start as soon as CM III
is submitted. In my down time (hah!) I have to finish stories I've promised. I finally finished my Phaze short and submitted that to Beth, and D.L. liked my submission for Where the Girls Are, but I made the mistake of mentioning a different story, and now she's prodding me to let her see it. See it? Yikes! I haven't written it yet. I know many writers (at this stage) get the contract and then write the story, but I think I'll go back to my spec style - write it, and then look for a place to submit it. I'm more comfortable that way. Lately it feels as if I have too many things presold and the pressure to get them out is a bit much considering that I'm looking at the huge time suck of another novel so soon. And did I mention that Shawn wants to see my YA novel, but I want to do a massive rewrite before I submit it? Aiyeee. It'll be December before I have free time again. Meanwhile, other projects I want to submit to are piling up. I have two weeks to get something into Circlet for their latest anthology. At least I didn't promise it, so they won't ever know if I miss that deadline.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I'm sorry for the late answer, but somehow your email slipped into my spam box!
I have a lot of dark stories lurking inside me. It's not really possible for me to ignore them, so I tend to circle around them like a vulture, taking runs at writing something that pokes at the taboo from different angles.
I don't really feel there is anything I absolutely can't write. But I do feel that often, with the really dark stuff, the very darkness of it hampers me writing about it well. The subject looms too big and refuses to be bedded down well in the structure of the story. Although I've written some non-con, some under-age stuff, etc., I never thought I'd done a compelling enough job of it to take it via the 'literature' route.
I think the great challenges and triumphs for some of the writers that Amanda mentioned is that they took this very edgy subject, and wrote about it with such elegance, such humanity, such insight, that the reader felt safe to go there with them, because the writing achieved the reader's trust. Those writers took readers to those very morally ambiguous places, and could be relied on to examine the topic in enough complexity and humanity to leave the reader in a safe, if uncomfortable, place. That, in my mind, makes something good literature. And I can't really claim to have written about any of my darknesses as well as that.
I would say that one of the best short stories I've ever read in this category is Mike Kimera's 'Nadica'. It's incredibly dark, very erotic, and somehow you feel like the writer is an honest, non-exploitative, compassionate guide.
KB adds: I rely on RG for an edgy story. That makes me curious about what she feels is dark.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Do you have a dark story lurking in you? Is there a tale so edgy you won't touch it even if you thought it up? Erotica is probably the most self-policed genre out there. If you slapped the label literature on your work, would you feel free to go there? Go where? How bad is your bad self?
My “shit Syd, don’t write this story” is about bad bdsm. Not inept or risky, but abusive. I have an almost complete rough draft of the dark novel: The Keeper of the Keys. The top has anger management problems; the bottom has some real self-esteem and emotional paralysis. Where I think I go beyond the pale is that I don’t make this a cautionary tale, and certainly not an anti-bdsm tale. Those who’ve read my other work know I think D/s can be redemptive. The Keeper of the Keys acknowledges that bad stuff happens in the D/s world as in any other, but that’s why I won’t finish writing it. It has a realistic tone -- this is clearly not fantasy and is firmly rooted in an everyday world.
This story has its roots in two concepts I find fascinating: Stockholm Syndrome and Going Native (yeah that’s pc!). In the original, a social scientist, Fras, gets drawn into a D/s group while he’s studying a club – and goes native. He falls hard for Steve, and makes the error of not being honest about why he was in the club in the first place. He retains enough distance to try to analyze things for awhile and gets punished for claiming one of the other boys suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.
While it involves sex and is explicit in places I really don’t consider it erotica as the sex isn’t intended to arouse – in fact much of it is abusive. But I can’t see it flying as ‘literature’ – and besides, I’d not want any one unfamiliar with D/s to judge it. There’s my dilemma – writing a story with genuinely wrong sex between Steve and Fras, both of whom have confused D/s love with pain and spirit-crushing obedience. Although he didn’t know it before meeting Steve, Fras really is a bottom, he does like D/s, but he’s too naïve to understand the difference between what is happening to him and how it should be. He’s letting his “researcher” persona dig himself in too deep, and he retreats to “observer” when he’s freaked. Steve isn’t a bad man either – misguided and also confused about control and pain, but he’s sincere about loving his boy and wanting a good life for them both. He has some peers who have mentored him badly and who pressure him to stay “true” to their ideas of ownership. Steve and his friends are brutal when they discover Fras is a researcher.
Steve and Fras grow and heal together -- but they really hit the depths first. They learn from another couple – no, not a sunny happy couple – a terrifying and unhinged guy who owns the boy he used to pimp out as a child whore. The boy is over-age now and there’s no pedophilia on the page – although originally there was a flashback to him remembering his first time. Nasty stuff. The idea it could be misread as erotic is freaky. Seeing the boy nearly die with his owner in a murder-suicide shakes Steve up. Worse, the boy mourns his owner -- I’ve looked at some psychological stuff about how children attach to their abusers – and tries to die to join him.
So my story has all sorts of non-pc stuff -- an abuser and his victim do recover together and find love in a long-term D/s relationship; an abused boy is convinced his abuser is the love of his life… While it’s not as dark and perverted as, say, Dennis Cooper, I’d not want it to be seen as a manifesto or used as ammunition against us. I know we control none of our work and ideas once they’ve been published, and it’s grandiose to think Keeper of the Keys would be read, but I can’t get past a feeling that it would be irresponsible to finish it. I genuinely love Steve and Fras and they do have an HEA (I think!) I want to protect them. They’ve become the godparents to my writing.
Their story has become the broth of my writing. I dip into it and let flavor some of my other work, but I’m letting it stay my own private world. I had the idea and wrote the rough draft while I was still very much an apprentice writer. How do you write sympathetically without condoning? How do you show your characters are wrong without the book being a judgmental screed? I just didn’t have the craft to pull it off and even now I wouldn’t dare walk the lines. I’m a mere journeyman and it would take a master to do it right.
My latest project is the Dr. Fell Series from Torquere Press. Lost and Found: Pet Rescue came out in April and Lost and Found: Exotic Pets is due out on June 28. An interim story, Rude Mechanicals, is in the Summer Solstice Taste Test. Dr. Fell stresses that he disapproves deeply of the doms in the Keeper of the Keys.
KB: Syd's popular Dr. John Fell series doesn't shy away from some heavy issues. Dr. Fell is refreshingly human for a Dom. For those of you who like realistic BDSM stories rather than high fantasy, check these stories out.