Embracing the Improbable
It shouldn’t exist. I never intended it to exist, yet, there it is.
What am I babbling about now? My next release – Angels of Mercy – Phoenix in the Fire (due March 2016).
The book ostensibly is a work of fiction in and of itself. Its evolution was predicated on a mistake. I’ve blogged a bit about it before. But here it is, in all it’s behemoth glory:
Clocking in at roughly 639 pages, and 218K words it’s an opus of a book that shouldn’t exist. But you know what? I’m rather pleased with it.
As I’ve stated many times before and on the podcast, I’m all about the headspace and how perceptions rule our world but we seldom give them credence and understand the prominence they have in our lives. Phoenix doest that, and I think it does it very well.
Angels, at it’s core, is really about dealing with the physical and emotional fallout from a heinous act of homophobic proportions and how the victim in it decides not to fold but rather rise from the ashes of that terrible beatdown. But in his evolving and climbing out from that hell hole the boys who beat him put him in, there are voices in his head that do their level best to protect him and try and guide him. He is comforted by that inner-gayboy voice that has always been there for him – warning him, throwing up red flags and cautionary flares whenever that inner-gayboy perceived a threat in Elliot’s world. It had served him well for most of his young gayboy life, but ultimately that voice failed him when he most needed it. Something had to change for him to evolve.
Elliot makes mistakes as he emerges, in this he learns to find a steely core in himself (personified by a new internal voice he calls Bitchboi). I use these competing voices (gayboy and Bitchboi) to demonstrate that evolution. What Elliot learns is that it isn’t just one voice over the other, but rather a learned and intentional concert of those two voices that enable Elliot to truly soar above his beatdown.
Elliot also surprised me as a character. I mean, I know his arc, I know what he’s made of – he is my invention after all – but he still found ways to take me on a journey as his creator. In that way, he came to life even more than I ever dreamed he would. I loved his new levels of vulnerability and how he learned to turn those feelings of inadequacy into defensive mechanisms that helped him cope with not only his rising from his attack, but how to turn the tables on those who became new threats to his already fragile world.
This book truly lives up to its name – it has risen in my estimation and in my love for the work. A simple mistake of my husband nudging me (erroneously) to redo Volume 2 in Elliot’s voice (instead of the planned POV of his boyfriend, Marco) and I have been completely been blown away by what came out of that. It was a book that, when I realized the mistake of writing it in Elliot’s voice, was doomed for the digital fire as a scrapped piece of prose. It was my husband who saved it – ironic, isn’t it? He said:
Why don’t you just release it as a companion book to Marco’s?
At first I didn’t see the brilliance or the possibilities that it would present. But now I do. Now I couldn’t be happier with this mistake of a novel. I only hope my readers do.
It isn’t a proper Angels novel. It isn’t a planned part of the Angels canon but it WORKS!
I couldn’t be happier.
Here’s hoping my readers agree with that assessment.
Until next time …
– SA C
Best Wishes in #2015 and what I learned from this past year…
“…and I count the times I have forgotten to say, THANK YOU. And just how much, I love them…”
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So a quick post about where I am after this whole writing endeavor of mine that I plunged headlong into without really thinking about it all.
So what did I learn?
Quite a lot, actually.
I learned that writing is a very quiet, lonely (save for some really great discussions about the craft with my hubby and some writing pals and my betas) business. I sort of knew that, but really didn’t understand the full breadth of it all.
I learned that writing a novel, no matter the actual size, is a very cathartic craft and really does take it out of you emotionally as well as physically (just the sitting for hours on end can be a bit grueling).
But I’ve also learned to listen to others. To truly try to understand where they were coming from (even if I didn’t wholly agree with their positions). I learned that after all these years I still crave to hear what my gay brothers (and sisters) have to say about our lives – even if I feel we have quite a way to go in creating a real and lasting community amongst us.
I’ve conversed (over my social media) with some really amazingly creative people in all facets of their various occupations and social lives. I was heartened to discover that the experiences I’d amassed in my life regarding my sexuality and my perceptions about it weren’t dirty or wrong (I never really thought they were – just that everyone in the mainstream seems to have a bug up their ass about it). In taking a Human Sexuality course this past few months really gave me an appreciation about sex and humans that made it all very real and personal for me.
I’ve liked my on-going conversations with sex workers (like Rocco Steele, Boomer Banks, Tayte Hanson, Colby Keller, Levi Michaels and Armond Rizzo, to name a few) who have been kind enough to respond to my little tweets to them about the work they do and the other things that interest them outside of the porn business. I really am fascinated with all they do – beyond their current incarnations as porn stars. They are truly some amazing individuals and I am heartened to see how truly brilliant they are in how courageously they live their lives.
I am emboldened that the few who have previewed my current work (I haven’t published anything yet – though they’re all going to hit early in 2015) have said that I really have something with Angels of Mercy. That’s been the most rewarding thing of all this past year.
For my wolves of Sparrows Hollow – A BIG THANK YOU – ’cause you’re gonna be my very first release to the world in 2015!
I like that my musical muses – Steve Grand and Jay Brannan have been kind enough to exchange and, in their own way, encourage me to reach for my own stars. It makes my devotion to their craft and their art that much more special and personal. These men, these brilliant writers, inspire me each and every day in the things they do.
To all of my newly formed author pals I’ve come to know and interact with, I am heartened and enriched by our exchange. A special shout out to Jayne Lockwood and Brad Vance for being the great people you are. Thank you.
To my family and friends – you still teach me so much and I am looking forward to knowing what you have in store for me next year. To Michael Rumsey, Matthew Gallien, Vincent Mazza, Patricia Hamilton and the hubby JL. To Zorro and Katya (my two brilliantly smart, and infectiously lovable cats). To Matt Rayne and L.a. Le – two crazy cats in my FB life… I look forward to what you’ve got in store for me next year!
To Keely and Whitney – the girls in my life and the family I cherish.
And lastly, to my cast of characters in my works. Thank you. Even if you aren’t real except in my mind and heart, you mean the world to me because you’re mine. Of my heart, of my mind, of my flesh and blood and tears (there’s been a little of each to create them all).
So I’ll close this first year in the chapter of my writing career and be thankful for what I have and what I know I have yet to do. It’s a lonely craft, this writing thing is, but I can’t think of anything else I want to do.
So in these final hours – I’ll leave you with a simple song that from the time I heard it as a boy it affected me so. It is from the Carpenters – who were my absolute love when I was a boy. Karen’s voice still gives me the chills every time I hear her. I miss her creativity so.
And for any nay-sayers this next year – yeah I got only one thing to tell ya…
Boomer and Rocco both were quick to respond to my NYE tweets – proving yet again, what lovely men they are! LOVE THESE GUYS!
Rattling the (Emotive) Cages
So this one’s a short rant – comparatively speaking.
I’ve become frustrated over whether or not the work is ready. On one hand I feel really good about it all. Now that the cover is sort of put to bed (I’m happy with it), I think I just want to toss it to the wind.
But here’s the fly in that ointment – I reached out to a very good editor and had a very nice conversation about what I was doing and where Angels of Mercy was. She read through it (she has some fairly amazing writing and editing cred so, yeah, ears were definitely perked and listening) – well what I had posted to my site anyhow.
Her response sort of shocked me. I mean, I’ve been getting fairly great responses from my betas out there and they’re very much hooked in and invested in my characters. But here was someone from the ‘biz’ who could give me a little 411 on where I really was in the process.
Grammatically, it seemed (unlike the stream of consciousness I babble here about), I was very clean and spot on with what I’d put down. That seemed to impress her that I had that much polish to what I had already. Not that it couldn’t be tweaked and tightened. But she was really liking my boys in Mercy and what they were up to. She got, without my prodding too much, that you were firmly entrenched in Elliot’s head and letting his gayboy self slather all over your eyeballs because he’s just that kind of gayboy. Elliot is all over the place. But he’s cuter than fuck, so yeah, he gets a pass.
She thought she could help me out with the real meat of the story because my prose was so clean. We could actually hone in on the whole arc and look at the bigger picture as well as laser like gaze over the finer details that would just put AoM – Vol 1 on it’s best possible feet – literary speaking.
I know it sort of needs that. Not that I am not happy with all that I’ve done so far.
Then came the price tag (and let me be clear right here, I fully think she’s worth the dough – no gripes there) but it still was a fair chunk of change. So I have to weigh it.
Then I had a thought: (uh-oh, as my family would say) – What if I crowd-funded the editorial costs? Could I get that much traction and attention? It certainly seemed plausible. The work definitely warrants a try. What could it hurt? There are books out there that are giving far less for the money asked for than what I’ve been mulling around in the back of my mind.
Now, I know that my work is NOT standard M/M Romance/Erotica fair. It’s just not that – not really. For one thing, it goes dark. VERY DARK by the end of book 2 and 3. At the end of this book we are only touching upon that darkness that will turn my loving and committed boys lives upside-down. And it couldn’t hurt to put that out there, right? I mean – worst that could happen? No one would spring for it. No worse than where I am now.
And here’s the other rub: while it is about two 18 year old boys who are madly in love with each other, it also pulls absolutely NO punches about their sex lives or their sex drives. My boys love sex. My boys have quite a bit of it in book 1. But the series isn’t just about that. It’s honest about it (after all they are hormonally charged teenaged young men). But the sex is not all it’s about.
The work is meant to be a character study. I rattle Elliot’s internal cage so much that the reader can’t help but walk way from it that they really know this boy and the man he loves.
So now, I am working on what sort of package I’ll be putting together for anyone’s investment in getting it on its feet. I’ve got some pretty amazing things planned up in my noggin’ already. I think it just might work.
And if it doesn’t, I’ll find another way to press on. Marco and Elliot’s story WILL be told. It will be published (even if I have to do it myself – though the editor I spoke to thought it was good enough to not give up on the traditional publishing route). That’s saying something I guess.
The hubby thinks I should work with PFLAG to get the word out about it. After all, my cousin (who has a gay son and struggled with understanding him as he grew up) read the work and found a way to connect with the work that really gave her some insight into her own world. So yeah, the potential is there that I might have a market for the work through people like PFLAG who are both proponents of acceptance for LGBTQI individuals but also wanting to educate themselves a bit about our lives. The adversity we struggle against on a daily basis. While my book is certainly NOT academic, it is deeply rooted in real life experiences. GAY MEN’S experiences. Our voices, our way.
That’s what I am trying to create here. No punches pulled, no apologies, one big hot mess of a life (or lives) that have a story to tell. A way to connect, a way to enlighten, a way to experience something that they might not have picked up any other way.
It’s like Rechy’s work for me as a teen. He breathed life into my burgeoning gayboy existence that was quite literally withering on the vine before it could take hold. Wondering if there was something wrong with me. When his big, gay, gritty as all fuck world, came in like a breath of sex laden air that completely enveloped my 16 year old self and said – “It’s cool, you’re gonna be okay kid. It’s all gonna be okay. It’s a big gay world out there, you just gotta claim your stake in it.”
And claim it, I did.
Author’s Note: This is a converted blog entry. It was originally published on 04.18.14 @ 10:15pm, US Pacific.
[NSFW] Not Safe For Work entry! Fair Warning…
So today I’ve been thinking. Thinking about my first novel. It’s dark, it’s messy, it’s balls to the wall, in your face covered in man-spooge aggressive. And I really can’t find it within me to make any apologies for that. It is what it is…
This is all over the map – I make no apologies for that. I’m in a mood…you’ve been warned.
So here’s the deal: Men are messy.
Even when we’re neat and tidy and orderly like a soldier straight outta the military, we’re messy. I’m talking about sex. Man sex. Men being the big boys that we are, and being thoroughly unapologetic about it. The only reason there is anything that remotely resembles going all sappily romantic and flowery (as it seems to permeate every facet of the M/M romance genre as of late) is that women are involved. Not that gay men don’t get romantic – there’s just a line in the sand where it gets too damned girly. ‘Sides, inside we still are… messy.
Boys like mess. It’s what we do best. Gay/straight – it don’t make a bit of difference. Don’t get me wrong. We can be orderly when called for. Men like rules. It’s how we like to run our lives. Responsibilities are born out of the rules that were handed to us, rules we follow or consciously choose not to follow. And somewhere along the line it gets messy.
We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Take real M/M sex.
Euphoric bliss much?
From what I’ve read in the genre (which is primarily marketed towards women – as a gay man I find that really astounding) – the m/m sex in it (often written by women who, I suppose, are trying to eke out what goes on in the male psyche in their burgeoning relationships as they come together, meander apart for whatever reason, only to ensure they have a big fat HEA (Happily Ever After) in the end). And if it’s anything I rail against, it’s formulaic writing structures. It may sell books but it sure as hell ain’t literature.
And before anyone in the genre starts to cackle like a hen being chased by a hungry fox – I ain’t saying my shit is high flying literature or that we have to aspire as such. But why couldn’t we? For me there is something transcendent in how two men who come together willingly in a clash of muscle, mouths and bones, so to speak. But what it is, for me at any rate, is honest to goodness male thinking about things that erotically charge my juices (along with a few of my gay male friends about all things – well, uh, male).
Yeah, I know that sounds exclusionary. Look, as a community we’ve been hounded from all sides – ‘too much gay shit on TV, too many songs about gays, too many… whereas I am saying – why isn’t there MORE of it? That’s my reality. That’s the world I move in. You know what it is: It’s all very tiring.
My latest gripe across ALL MEDIA – print or otherwise – is how much in our faces the “success” of a man in any advertisement/movie/tv show, is measured on whether he has some chick tagging along in his wake or trailing behind him in some skimpy getup (and let’s be fair to the ladies, I also don’t like it because not only on account of the guy who seems to need her to establish his studly qualities, but I think it demeans the woman/women in the scene as well). I don’t want my granddaughter thinking this is how her success is measured – by some guy she has to catch. Nuh uh, brother. We need to shit can that crap now.
Another thing I am so tired of? Having to translate the fucking straight world to my own experiences. Substituting the girl for me when I am NOT a fucking girl! If anything I think I might just being going gay militant (at least insofar as my writings go – maybe even beyond by the timbre of my rant here) in my literary worlds.
Way I figure it, somewhere someone else may want to read it. But really I’ve decided I am gonna write my shit my own way. Just get it out there one way or another and not translate or succumb to some marketing ploy/trend in order to appease some quick selling formula that seems to be all the rage at the moment.
This fucking industry needs a shake up. I’m going all gay beat generation on this whole writing endeavor of mine.
This isn’t new for me, not really. It’s a contrarian streak I have – definitely. Which I guess being gay is akin to being a contrarian when it comes to human relationships, I suppose. Then again, I am sure that since gays starting to permeate all facets of life (finally, thank the stars above), that there’s probably now “men who love buildings” or “statues” that will have us gays beat in the off-kilter (hey, they might even steal our ‘queer’ term for their more masonry inclined relationships) relationships arena. But as I said, this way of thinking isn’t new for me.
When I was in my English classes in college having to write academic papers I can’t tell you how often I pushed back on the whole topic sentence with supporting evidence bullshit that academia thrives upon. I wasn’t some kid fresh outta high school that needed that formula to make my report case. If it’s one thing I know how to do is make a strong argument and back my shit up. I know how to write a compelling narrative so let me get down and do my bidness…dammit!
So yeah, formulas and formulaic writing drive me bat-shit cray-cray.
So back to the sex… I am an erotica writer after all.
First off I have two words that epitomizes gay sex for me (aside from the hubby): Antonio Biaggi.
A fucking cock god if there ever was one… and not just because he’s got a rockin look and bone, either. For a guy in the porn business he’s seems to have his head screwed on straight (pardon the pun). And a very centered outlook on life (well, at least the way he expresses his views on things, at any rate.) Confident, without cockiness. Sexy as all fuck and brimming with passion (even when he might have to fake it). He’s intense. That’s what makes great sex – gay or not. Passion. Biaggi’s got it in spades. He’s my definite go to when it comes to visualizing my guys in full on rutting mode no matter the story.
Sometimes I am not even sure that the women who write in this genre are involved in gay men’s lives at all (aside from the simple mechanics involved) where they have a no holds barred open door policy on what they think and feel (provided to them by GAY men – and I don’t mean the stereotype nelly gays either) when they are intimate with another man. There is so much within the genre that I’ve run into (not all of it, mind you – I’ve found a few authors in the genre who actually have a clue – so refreshing to find them when I do) that the majority of them are really nothing more than chicks with dicks.
I love a good circus style fuck, don’t you?
I realize that might not win me readers in this genre as the market stands now. But I’ve come to a realization: like a proud black woman, I am a proud gay man.
And as a gay man, I wouldn’t take it upon me to write about the black experience in this world. I’m not black. I simply have no real context (and this is coming from someone whose parents were in a (nearly) all black gospel choir (my parents being the sole exception) – so I was knee deep in the community and the church at the very least. Grew up with it all around me). Still – I am not black, so therefore I can’t speak with any authority in that genre. It just wouldn’t ring true. Not as a focal point to my stories. Write what you know – isn’t that the old saying? I’d be a big time pretender and trying to make money on it if I did. I just can’t go there. Sure I’ll have multi-cultural characters in my story – that’s a part of life. I am not being exclusionary or ‘gated’ in who I will write about, but what I won’t do is center my story around a culture or a people that I don’t have any real context for. No life experience.
Now the kicker? I am a trained classical singer – been not the stage since I was a kid. So I get the whole – let’s pretend and role play thing. I get it, I do. But even when I read some books written by men where women were the central character I never really quite go all the way with the – yeah, that was truthful emotive core. And I am a big Joss Whedon fan, so yeah, I can give props that he gets awfully close. But even so, it still has that maleness about the strong women characters within his stories that I sorta go – meh inside just a lil’ bit. I can’t help it. He’s a dude trying to write a strong female character that comes off a bit too – male.
I guess I should be happy that there’s a market at all for things that are even remotely speaking to my life experiences. I get that. I do, I swear. Yeah, I know it’s a mass of contradictions. It’s a straight up mess.
…and like my man on man sex, I like it just like that.
I am soooo going to use this position in one of my books at some point…
So in my stories, my boys/men will be messy. Covered in man-milk both in and out. Gay guys are all about that (yeah, ladies, I get it that you know our straight counterparts are all about the cumming as well – we’re dudes, it’s all the same shit no matter which sex you are inclined to bed) but you just don’t get the whole need to seed that goes on every 8 fucking seconds in our heads from the time we pop our first boner til the time we draw our last breath. It’s RELENTLESS… even when we aren’t ‘thinking’ about it, we are. And believe me – it’s messy.
Let’s face it, men are built to breed. We’re built to seed. While I may write about Natives battling a menace from another universe (Cove Chronicles), or the ancient Feigr (Fae Wars), or my gay bashed artistic gay boy and his athletic quarterback boyfriend (Angels of Mercy), you can bet on one thing from me. No translations. No apologies. No fucking safety’s applied just because it might offend someone who can’t take the mess men make of their lives. My guys will be balls to the wall bonafide stud muffins that give into their baser needs whenever the moment arises. I’m cool with that. And I’ll make sure to wrap it all up in a good story too. I swear I will. I don’t write porn (though I know I could), I write erotica. So the story is what’s important. But it will be VERY male.
It’s what makes us fucking interesting. It’s why I love surrounding myself with men. Not just because they are the object of my desires. But because I emotively connect with them (there are so many straight guys in my life that don’t have a fucking clue about what I am all about – the private sexual conversations we’ve had about their wives, girlfriends or office temptations), I understand men. Why? Because I am one. A gay one, to be sure – unabashedly so.
And I’ll make no translations to anyone for who my male characters are in the world’s I create. The stories are what they are. I may have to self-pub and just hope I find an audience. It may not be a big time seller in the M/M genre out there or maybe, just maybe, I might shake things up a bit. Make a mess.
…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Author’s Note: This is a converted blog post. It originally was published on 04.17.14 @ 7:53pm, US Pacific.
So here’s my deal with the whole writing thing that is so fucking out there scary. I mean – it’s my shit, and well… it’s out there, on the internet. While it was mine, on my computer, I was okay with its being in existence. Not that I am ashamed of the work or anything like that. I mean, all writers have to start somewhere. I get that it’s all part of the equation. And it’s not like I am not into public displays of my work, either. After all, I am a classically trained singer so I’ve trod a multitude of stages with audiences both large and small. So no, it’s not the public thing. Not really.
Okay, maybe it is.
Talk about the total flip-flopping – yeah, that’s me on the topic of publishing. Part of me won’t ever want to read ANY review – even if, as one published author told me, they’re “pushing so much sunshine up your backside that you get a sunburn from the experience.”
Plus, now that I have one complete novel “in the can” – so to speak, I can see how my writing has grown just from the experience of completing that first novel. I look back at the works I’ve been hammering out before and think – holy fuck, I gotta fix this!
Then again, maybe it isn’t fixing that needs to happen. Maybe, just maybe, I just need to breathe.
There’s no reason to panic.
There’s no reason to freak.
It’s digital bytes and bits, bro. All editable. In this e-age, nothing can’t be written that you can’t elevate to v2.0 – it’s all in the marketing, right?
Now there’s something to grapple with. Even with all of the information that’s out there (almost too much of it, actually) that you really don’t know what’ll work for a budding novelist who is thinking of publishing all on his lonesome. I mean, in that way I control the distribution and keep ALL of the rights. But then again, I gotta figure out how to get it all out there.
Okay, the hubby helps a lot too. So, that’s definitely in the big plus column. And I’ve got very honest friends who’ll tell me – yeah, that’s shit, fix it.
So I’m good there. I guess…
See? While I write about Angels, it’s this new Demon that’s come crawling out of my inner woodwork: Doubt.
But the battle rages on…
Hey, I wrote this, didn’t I?