SA Collins

Words and Errata

Something Wicked(ly Awesome) This Way Comes…

Something Wicked(ly Awesome)
This Way Comes …

 

The podcast banner

The podcast banner

 

Sorry there haven’t been any recent posts. I’ve been busy with Angels of Mercy Vol 2 and Quarrel of Sparrows and something else I am really excited about.

AUTHORS! READERS! Lend us your ears!

Along with author pals Vance Bastian and Jayne Lockwood on a slightly audacious endeavor – we’ve put together a M/M podcast where authors (and their readers) roundtable topics, the art of the craft, and the worlds we create. It is intended to be a forum for authors from across the multiple sub-genres who want to discuss their works from the author’s perspective that they may not have much in the way of opportunity to do. Interviews are often limiting, and the range of what can be discussed is usually fairly focused.

 

This isn’t that type of podcast.

Authors will grouse. Authors will praise or rant about others in the field or works that were an absolute struggle to get out into the world.

And we’re not limiting it to authors alone.

READERS! You too, can be part of the conversation. The intent is to foster and engender that sort of discussion not only amongst ourselves as authors, but also with the readers who buy our works. We invite this sort of discussion across the table between the two parts of producing and consuming the works.

Episode one will be out shortly (within the week if we can swing it – the ep is recorded and edited – it’s just up to distribution to get it out there).

You can find us on the web at 3mmusketeerspodcast.

Our Twitter account is – @3mmusketeers

Facebook Group Page

You can email us at 3mmusketeerspodcast@akwekon.com

Please join us for the release – (to be updated when we have a firm date this week).

 

3M/Musketeers Podcast is a Akwekon Media production in association with VanceBastian.com, LadyJAuthor.com, and SACollins.com. All rights reserved where applicable.

 

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When Gay Men Have Straight Sex… [NSFW]

When Gay Men Have Straight Sex …

-or- why my guys are more like real guys than the stuff you read in m/m romance.

 

I’ve done it now. Angels of Mercy won’t be an easy read for the chicks who dig their man-on-man (-on-man?) love action. There’s a cardinal rule there that gay men don’t play on the other side of the fence.

Only, after being around the block as much as I have – and I’ve really been around the block so much I can give muthafuckin’ tours and sell shirts and shit – I know that gay doesn’t always equate to GAY with a big ol’ pink triangle and a rainbow flag. Men are far more fluid when it comes to sex. They won’t talk about it honestly with others if they know they can be identified – but in the course of my Human Sexuality class I took last semester we ran a world-wide sex study and the results were rather enlightening (well, more so for the class than myself). Mostly because the survey was completely anonymous. No tracking, no cookies, no way to link it back to you as the participant. So I think we got really refreshing responses. It turns out that across the over 600 respondents from around the globe, the spectrum of gay vs. straight ain’t so lopsided as one might think. In fact when we added up the queer populace it came damned near EQUAL to the total self-identified straight population within the sampling.

Read that again so it’s clear to you all – THE QUEERS (LGBTQAI, etc) WERE DAMNED NEAR EQUAL IN NUMBERS TO THEIR STRAIGHT COUNTERPARTS.

 

A little man on man action never hurts...unless its done right.

A little man on man action never hurts…unless its done right.

 

In my past I’ve bedded enough “married straight men” to know that straight doesn’t always mean what it says. DL much, guys?

Honestly put (and this is NOT news, ladies and gents):  GUYS LOVE TO GET THEIR ROCKS OFF.

And don’t let all that straight boy bravado fool you – a gay boy will do just fine if there’s no pussy to be had. Just callin’ it as I sees it. And believe me, I’ve seen plenty. Sex positive here and all that rot.

So my literature work is not genre romance. It just isn’t. I never really saw that it was. I mean, I think it could be embraced by that audience, but they are so deeply entrenched in their own genre dogma that they often rail against stories that don’t fit into their nice and tidy rainbow box.

Well, as a fully fledged GAY man, I know that the world is a whole lot grayer than the black and white everyone likes to classify things into. We all like tidy little boxes. Well, human sexuality is not so fucking tidy.

And neither are my boys.

I’ve known gay men who have sex with women on an on-going basis. The difference is they can’t emotively connect with women beyond friendship. Men, on the other hand, turn their little heart crank in 0.065 seconds flat. They become a puddle of emotional goo if a guy begins to woo them. Therein is the difference, sweet cheeks. That emotive quotient that is added to the sexual mix between gay men and their male lovers.

It’s no different than the ‘gay for pay’ adult actors who want to earn more money by doing gay porn than they ever could doing straight porn work. They may get all the pussy they want doing straight porn, but the real money for the men is on our side of the fence and they’ve figured that shit out. And the guys in gay porn who are gay are stretching the boundaries of what gay men look and “act” like (though I grouse at the word “act” when it comes to anything gay – I am only using it here because of the commonality of how many use it in the sex work industry).

Colby Keller is one such man that I admire not only for putting himself sexually out there (which, let’s face it, takes REAL BALLS to do that – and believe me, Colby’s got ’em – and then some!), but also has a brilliant mind and a real sense of aesthetics in art and literature. A man I can really admire with all of his sex-positive stuff going on that makes it oh so sexy to watch in a man. He’s hella sexy and that ginger status only adds fuel to the fire in my book (just sayin’).

But I digress, that’s not what this blog post is about really.

 

Colby Keller and all of his auburn glory

Colby Keller and all of his auburn glory

 

What I did that many readers of M/M Romance genre might take offense, was organically developed in the way that my story needed to evolve. Angels is about choices gay men have to make to try and eke out some happiness in their lives. Some of those choices go epically wrong. Horrifyingly so. Especially within the context of organized/team sports. They (the jocks) have a script that they have to go by to be a fully fledged member of the “club.” Even if there is no literal script to run with.

Angels of Mercy - Volume 2: Marco

Angels of Mercy – Volume 2: Marco

My protag, Marco Sforza, in the second volume (Angels of MercyVolume Two: Marco) is just such a young man. He knows he is in love with the out, but shy, gay boy on campus. But he is also painfully aware that the big bright shiny spotlight that follows him everywhere on campus is not what will bring the love of his life into his arms. He knows that there are other factors at play here. He knows he has to “play the game” so he can play the game (of football, in this case). Marco’s good at what he does. His stats are some of the top in the nation for high school athletes – especially those who are eyeing a college career, if not a professional one. Marco knows he is going to be scouted as he gets to college level playing. But that only serves to put an added layer of pressure to be one of the guys.

This doesn’t do anything for his heart. It only denies him what he wants most in life – to have that boy of his dreams (Elliot) in his arms and in his bed day in and lights out.

But he chooses to “play the game” rather than give up the game he loves to play. So he finds a girl that he’s comfortable with. She’s a good fit for him. She doesn’t pressure him, she enjoys his company, she is everything he could want in a relationship. This is something that takes him by surprise. Something that he doesn’t expect to happen to him. And Holly, the girl in question, is easy for him. Not in a slutty girl way, but rather because he doesn’t feel put upon when he’s with her. This only serves to cloud the issue of whether he really is gay or not.

But each time he goes out with Holly, he finds himself back at that boy’s house, out back in the woods that surrounds his home, just waiting for any sign of the boy who still has his heart. Marco has some big choices to make in this case. He knows he needs to let what’s easy go, in favor of that much harder choice of what will feed his heart and his soul.

But then, there’s the added complication that he’s an hormonally charged teenager too.  And despite what mothers and the girls in their lives, that’s never an easy thing to wrestle with. Hormones in a teen boy are massively and epically confusing to deal with. Part of me thinks this is why so many boys choose team sports – it is a way to direct that pent up sexual energy.

Holly has decided that Marco is the guy who will be her first. And for Marco, who hasn’t been with anyone in that way, decides that she will be his. So they have sex. Nailed to the fucking wall, kind of sex. Sex on steroids kind of sex because, as it turns out, Marco and Holly are very sexually compatible. Each one driving the other to new heights of pleasure. And to Marco’s surprise he actually finds he enjoys himself in doing it. It’s just easy, that way. And that is what makes everything so much harder for him.

But inwardly, he knows it’ll never be what he wants most in life so he let’s that slip away from him in favor of what he’s always wanted. But his time with Holly answers so many questions he has about himself. It gives him clarity so when he makes the conscious choice to set all fear aside and move in to tell Elliot (the boy he’s secretly loved) how he feels, he does it with real conviction, no longer unclear about who he is and what he really wants. No one can ask him: “Well, how do you know you’re not straight if you’ve never tried it?”

‘Cause he bloody well has, that’s why! And his boy Elliot, STILL came out on top!

Angels of Mercy - Volume 1: Elliot

Angels of Mercy – Volume 1: Elliot

Book one covers their relationship from Elliot’s perspective. It’s heady and very over-the-top romantic. Book two is Marco’s perspective on it all. But I wanted these books to be real character studies. I wanted the reader to know these boys intimately. Seventy percent of the books are inner-monologue. They are fashioned that way so the reader goes through this emotive questioning that all gay men go through. The struggle to answer that question of who am I and what does it all mean?

Gay men do have straight sex. It happens more than people realize. And the reverse is quite true too. Straight men will have gay sex (even beyond the “acceptable” practice of it being prison sex). Sexual fluidity is a far more potent place to write stories. Why? Because all cards are on the table, all bets are off.

The real stories can be told when nothing is guaranteed.

Let the gloves come off and start swinging… that’s my motto.

Some men just can't wait... it's all good.

Some men just can’t wait… it’s all good.

It may not win me any points with M/M genre fiction readers. But I think they are, by and large (though not everyone, I’ll grant you), limited in scope of what are acceptable storylines. There should be no guarantees in the writing of these stories. Only then do we let our true creative sparks ignite and become the storytelling firestorm that they can be. Otherwise, we’re just swapping characters and occupations around and rehashing old ground.

So Angels is not a player of that M/M genre game. My boys won’t fit in tidy fucking boxes. I hope those readers give it a chance. But since one of my main characters (the jock in the relationship) has straight sex in it, I may have just lost that appeal for them. Too bad really, because I think it makes him infinitely more real and accessible. The experience defines him, gives him greater clarity. It also allows him to push for what he really wants without the need to put these characters on unattainable pedestals. Elliot does that for most of book one – Marco is a god to him. Only to have that smashed when it looks like Marco has strayed on the very same night Elliot does with another boy – but now I am getting ahead of myself. Best to leave that for when the books come out.

So yeah, broke a rule here for that audience. Maybe they’ll take a chance on it any how. I know that the readers who have groused about some of the positions I’ve taken and then previewed the first book found that I really did have something here that is a bit of a game changer. It is different than what’s out there. I am striving for real literature. Beyond genre. Beyond that sort of (IMHO) myopic rule set.

No guarantees. 

No automatics.

No ‘they must not…’ 

Because they do. And they will, and I wouldn’t have them any other way.

 

Until next time …

SA C

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Banned By Association

Banned By Association

Guilt by association? Banned by my own hand? You be the judge ...

Guilt by association? Banned by my own hand? You be the judge …

 

Okay, maybe it was my fault.

Maybe …

So I hit a BIG learning curve here.  Epically so.  Why, you might ask? Because my first work, a novel that was released to the world from several selling platforms, Amazon being just one of them, got BANNED! But since it all took place this past week I didn’t want to do a knee-jerk blog post about it. I wanted some distance from it to sort it out. I’m like that. I can be wordy and preachy when my ire is provoked, but at times, like this time, I was able to quell that rash desire to lash out and opted instead to think things through.

I’m glad I did. And while I might not like Amazon’s decision, I recognize it was theirs to make.

I mean, they’re the big guns in the literary world, like it or not. Even the big publishing houses have to play ball with them. So a little guy like me doesn’t have much pull. I haven’t brought enough money to the table. And I know that it is all about the money.

I mean, I think it is interesting that my book, with a rough sex scene (the hero in the story is raped physically by the bad guy in the series) near the end of the book, could be blocked/banned because of that scene when say EL James 50 Shades (of crap, if you ask me) gets a pass. Though to be fair, I guess rape wasn’t in the cards for that drivel. But what about the Bible? It has rape, pillaging and all sorts of violence spread throughout the work.

TO BE CLEAR: I don’t consider the Bible (or any other religious text, for that matter) to be holy or sacred. They are books like any other – written BY MAN. So yeah, I so won’t get into that debate ’cause to my way of thinking that’s just messing with 9 bags of cray-cray (as my granddaughter says).

But as a newbie author, doing the self-pub thing on my own, I know I have a learning curve ahead of me. I know that my works will stumble and I might make some epically bad moves. I get that it’s part of the process. I don’t expect to be “the next BIG thing” when it comes to literary works. Though to be honest, I do write literature. I write character studies. I find them infinitely fascinating to write from. I want to immerse the reader into the psyche of the character who is telling you the story. All of the inner monologue that we all have in our day to day lives that never gets said to the outside world.

Those monologues are deeply fascinating to me. At times I listen to my own mental ramblings as I interact with others. Not that there are voices in my head – well, okay there are, but they are my characters working out their upcoming scenarios that I need to get sorted before I write them down – I SWEAR!

Anyway, so my first work was out there on all platforms –

 

The reworked and final image for the first of my HOMO series of gay werewolves set in 1956 West Virginia.

The reworked and final image for the first of my HOMO series of gay werewolves set in 1956 West Virginia.

 

Amazon   (Sold as The Shrill of Sparrows – abridged edition – A point I’ll come to later) 

 

The Shrill of Sparrows - the reworked abridged edition as sold by Amazon.

The Shrill of Sparrows – the reworked abridged edition as sold by Amazon.

 

Amazon had the original work – HO’M,O – Henry O’Malley, Omega  as it was originally released (with the rape scene in the next to last chapter). But here is where I think I misstepped and it only became apparent to me as I woke up this morning.

 

Inspiration for Hank O'Malley in my story

Inspiration for Hank O’Malley in my story

 

The book does have sex scenes in it. This is for three reasons:
  1. It was meant to be a fluff, fun and slightly scary read as part of my NaNoWriMo 2014 writer’s challenge project that I won last November -writing the bulk in what made it into the published work within 26 days out of the 30 for the challenge. The werewolves have this ease with themselves where sex comes into it because that is how pack life is for them. The sex keeps them rooted to their human existence.
  2. It was meant to be a story for my very first fan, Michael, who has a penchant for sexy guys and werewolves. I wanted to do some thing for him. I even made him one of my wolves IN the story. He loves it and I couldn’t be happier. The hot and heavy man action was a nod to him.
  3. Sex within my packs of werewolves (which are ONLY male, btw) is a way of exchanging power. It is a metaphor I am using in that submissiveness doesn’t equate weakness. Sometimes, it actually takes far more courage to be there for another in that way. I wanted to play with that dynamic. My wolves keep telling Hank (Henry) that, as the pack’s new Omega, he doesn’t belong to them – they belong to him!

 

That is a very distinct but important difference. But that isn’t the topic at hand here. What is is how I classified it and where I think I went wrong with it all.

 

Amazon, like many of the distributor options out there for self-publishing authors, has their own guidelines and category systems to publish your work.

 

Where I think I went awry is that I classified it as erotica because of the sexual nature of my wolves. It really wasn’t that. That was my misstep. I see that now. BUT, what I do rail against is how Amazon handled it. I got this as my only warning regarding the work:

 

 

Hello,
We’re contacting you regarding the following book:
HO’M,O – Henry O’Malley, Omega: A Sparrows Hollow Lycanthropic Adventure by Collins, SA (AUTHOR) (ID:5629640)During our review process, we found that this content is in violation of our content guidelines. As a result, we cannot offer this book for sale. If we identify additional submissions with similar content that violates our guidelines, we may terminate your account or you may lose access to optional KDP services.

To learn more about our content guidelines, please visit our Kindle Direct Publishing Help page at:

https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2TOZW0SV7IR1U

Best regards,

Kindle Direct Publishing
kdp.amazon.com

 

That was it. No – “can you modify the work to address the issues we see here (and then list them)?” There was nothing much for me to go on. When I clicked the link they provided, I got this as the only explanation (which wasn’t much to latch onto):

 

The scarcity of Amazon's KDP policy with regards to content. There's precious little to latch onto and learn from.

The scarcity of Amazon’s KDP policy with regards to content. There’s precious little to latch onto and learn from.

 

Since the work was classified as Erotica, I assumed that the first two sections of this lack of direction was the Pornography and the Offensive Content areas of this little policy write up. But how was I supposed to work with that?

It could’ve meant that ANY of my sex scenes were objectionable, right? I had to question it all. So I went out and offered a “hey, I’m new – what do I do to address this so I can learn from it and not repeat it?” I just wanted something or someone to direct me to what was in violation of the policy.

All I got was this (the bolding and underlining of the email content are mine as I am just drawing attention to what stood out for me when I read it):

 

Hello,

We’re contacting you regarding the following title:

HO’M,O – Henry O’Malley, Omega: A Sparrows Hollow Lycanthropic Adventure by Collins, SA (AUTHOR) (ID:5629640)

We’ve confirmed that your book(s) contains content that is in violation of our content guidelines and we will not be offering this title for sale in the Kindle Store. As stated in our guidelines, we reserve the right to determine what we consider to be appropriate, which includes cover images and content within the book.

If you wish to re-publish your book(s) with content that meets our guidelines, it will need to be submitted as an entirely new ASIN and go through our standard review process. Previous customer reviews, tags, and sales rank information are not transferable because the title will essentially be a different product.

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website.

To learn more, please see: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2TOZW0SV7IR1U

We appreciate your understanding.

 

So all I got was a ‘confirmation’ that they were right in their first judgement of the work, and that I better pay attention or my entire account with them would be cancelled.

 

For a publishing company, this is woefully short of any real direction and leaves it wide open to capricious interpretation that any given reviewer might object to. Indeed, there are works I know to be up there that are definitely in violation of their policy but somehow I got flagged because of it. I feel like I have a big old red flag waving above my head now with them.

 

So what have I learned from this? Words matter. DUH! I should’ve seen that one coming.

 

So I am gonna take this one on the chin. I’ll be much more clever about how I package something going forward. I am driven by this not because of this first work going through the wringer to get out there on the biggest publishing platform that’s out there, but because of the work that I have waiting in the wings.

 

The FINAL - FINAL version of the book cover for "Angels of Mercy - Volume One: Elliot"

The FINAL – FINAL version of the book cover for “Angels of Mercy – Volume One: Elliot”

 

Angels of Mercy I do NOT want to be blasted or banned by this type of capricious labelling by Amazon or any other publisher. I know it’s literature and NOT genre fiction. It is a massive work. It is a deeply penetrating look at what gay young men go through to establish themselves in the context of sports and their personal lives. It is about the pressures of what society expects of them – the script they feel they must follow to succeed in their given sport. It is about choices and compromises that we, as gay men, must constantly do to eke out some sliver of happiness for ourselves in a world that is still quite homophobic about our existing at all.

 

Another of Hank O'Malley - tough luck lookin' like that, huh?

Another of Hank O’Malley – tough luck lookin’ like that, huh?

 

The tide is changing. I am emboldened by the success stories of young men and women finding acceptance with their loved ones. But there are still so many who are thrown out of their homes, who are shunned and abused for the lives they lead. This is why character studies intrigue me so. No matter the sub-genre I write in – whatever form it might take, I will always write from that inner-monologue perspective. It is the mindsets of those characters that I think is an immensely powerful viewpoint to write from.

 

So yeah, lessoned learned. I’ll move forward. I’ve made peace with it.

 

I’ve also become more determined to get Angels in front of a literary agent rather than self-pub it myself. I want that work to succeed on its own merits and not some capricious label that some fucktard reviewer who probably can’t write a sentence to save their life making a decision that has a bearing on my work getting out there.

 

HO’M,O (or The Shrill of Sparrows as it is now known at Amazon) is fluff – it’s not meant to change the world. I mean, I go dark in it. I want it to be more terrifying than just sexing man-on-man love action (though there’ll be plenty of that because I think the sex between the boys is what will keep them rooted to their human existence and deal with the horrors of the wolf that is within them).

 

Love a boy in wolf's clothing, don't you?

Love a boy in wolf’s clothing, don’t you?

 

Monsters are a way for us to examine our darker natures. Sexual violence, along with violence of any kind, is a strong metaphor to do that. I don’t intend to start pulling punches in that. But I also can see how I need to be much more exacting in how I classify the work going forward.

 

I’m learning. I’m trying to sort it out. And in a very real sense, I am intrigued by this mistakes and missteps. As always, I learn most from where I go wrong. So yeah, lemonade out of lemons and all that rot.

 

Face forward, looking to the bright horizon.

 

Time to press on…

 

Until next time.

 

SA C.

 

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Runnin’ with the Pack – Part 2

Runnin’ with the Pack – Part 2

 

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

 

Love a boy in wolf's clothing, don't you?

Love a boy in wolf’s clothing, don’t you?

So it’s been four days of NaNoWriMo craziness. I am happy to report that I am nearly half way to my goal: 22,252 words written thus far!

That’s 22,252 out of 50,000… about 48%. That’s HUGE!

Whoo-hoo! (insert Wolf Howl here)

But I know this is only the beginning. And to be honest, this was because the week leading into it I had a fair amount sorted in my head. But now, well, we’re catching up to where I am still debating how things are gonna play out. Organically (because I am a through and through pantser when I write), I am already seeing deviations of where my wolves are taking me. Beyond where I thought I was going to go.

But it’s like that for me. I have a goal, I have an arc, but what happens is that my characters are fully formed in my head by the time I put them down to digital bytes and bits. They are present – front and center – and they often know their world better than I do! And that, from me, the God of their universe – and yet, my characters still surprise me.

It was that way with Angels of Mercy. It’s turning out to be the same with HO’M,O too.

The final cover artwork. Blood included.

The final cover artwork. Blood included.

Hank O’Malley is one helluva discovery for me. The past few weeks I’ve been absorbing my Appalachian dialects, polling my husband’s past because he was born in West Virginia and grew up in and around there.

And here’s the funny thing: Normally, I listen to film scores when I write. I tend to think cinematically, so my stories tend to be that way – so orchestral scores seem to be a perfect fit. The odd thing? This time I seem to fluctuate between those scores (usually of the Danny Elfman, John Williams or Bernard Herrmann variety) and something completely off track – I am also finding myself drawn to listening to Steve Grand‘s offerings. They aren’t contemporary to the time I am setting the piece (1956 in West Virginia) but there’s something homey and irrefutably connected about Grand’s take on things that I just seem to be goin’ with it and not askin’ too many questions along the way – mostly cause I don’t have time to spare for this if the book has to be done in 30 days.

If it works, it works – right? Steve Grand being the emotive core of my boys in Sparrow’s Holler? Well, that’s fine by me.

As much as Jay Brannan proved to be the emotive core for Angels, Grand’s music is the wellspring for my wolves of Sparrow’s Holler. Who knew? I sure as hell didn’t. I just put on Steve’s latest releases and three or four rounds of the playlist and I was writing like a fiend. Who am I to question the muse of the project? It coulda been worse… and Steve is far above anything like that. Like Brannan, Grand inspires me – I love men who are living their lives openly and with such conviction I think that is what I am emotively responding to and imbuing my characters with. Grand and Brannan both are openly gay artists, brilliant and accomplished writers in their own right, and if they give me little creative spark to play with – I am all the better for it.

So yeah, that was a surprise in and of itself. But for some reason it works – I dunno, maybe cause I could see Steve as one of the wolves? What do you think?

Grand fanboy here and proud of it! #teamproud #teamgrandfam

Grand fanboy here and proud of it! #teamproud #teamgrandfam

But it’s more than that. I think the reason it’s clicking is because there is a solid thread of warmth that weaves its way in Grand’s work. A humanity that I need to be reminded of as my wolves take over. Grand’s music addresses this beautifully. I think that is why I’ve navigated his way.

(Sidebar: I can’t wait for the album to drop – hint, hint Steve-a-rino)

Maybe that’s why I am tunin’ in as I write about my werewolves of West Virginia.  And with so much of the were lore established in the M/M genre, I am having so much fun putting my spin on things. Meaning that just because you’re the Alpha of the pack, doesn’t mean that you’re the one in control. I’ve got a new take on things that I hope will give my story an edge to it that hasn’t been present in the gay weres stories that have been out there before. Hank is an Omega in the pack, but in a way that’s never been done before – and it could prove to be an epic game changer.

Either way, Hank O‘Malley, Omega (where the title HO’M,O comes from – the main character of the story) – has that same quality Grand puts forth in his music. The exuberance and the temperance of a life that is rooted in who he was brought up to be. Yet, his life experiences are starting to color that. But the story isn’t a happy one – it’s a dark tale – I mean, they are werewolves after all. That’s not to say there isn’t hope and love threaded within the tellin’ of the tale. Cause there definitely is…

For a boy who was a loner, just work at his Mama’s general store and school to mark the passing of time for him, his world has been slowly evolving around him. He hasn’t paid much attention to the subtle changes in the 8 boys on the football team who always run together. Boys who used to taunt him and shake him up from time to time. Now, there’s a subtle difference in the air. It seems the Cavanagh High School Wolves means a helluva lot more in the town of Sparrow’s Holler than anyone thought.

Hank chides them in his mind and refers to them as “the pack”. Those eight boys, alternatingly mischievous, brooding, and lust-filled — these boys are always together. And they rule the school with an iron paw. Their word is law – even when held up to the Principal himself.

And then there’s Hank. Loner that he is – not seeing how these boys have been slowly circling him. Moving ever so much closer – as if their own continued existence depended upon Hank joining their ranks. And they’d be right about that.  Hank is something special in the way of Omega’s within the pack. He’s different in ways that the boys can’t even imagine. Hank is the dark hero of the tale.

So yeah, 22,252 words out of 50K goal. And I am only in chapter 2! Yeah, so gotta figure out how I am gonna reign this one in so I don’t go for another 205K word epic like my first volume of Angels.

I’d like for this to be a side line of short stories that have a greater arc to them. Like those serial short films that our parents or grandparents went to in the 1940’s and 50’s. Slim offerings – a morsel at a time.

At 22K words and only two chapters in? I think I have my work cut out for me to start moving forward at a greater clip to get to my HEAFN (Happily Ever After, For Now) for the first installment. I need to think like those directors of those quickie shorts of the 50’s. Gonna have to tuck in my inner Cecil B. DeMille and think more like oh, I dunno – (face palms and realizes that I generally watch epic films) one of them directors of those classic horror movies of that era. Ya know, like Don Siegel (yeah, I just IMDB’d it) like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Or better yet, Erle C. Kenton of House of Dracula (where Lon Cheney, Jr. makes his appearance as Lawrence Talbot/The Wolfman). Yeah, that’s more like it.

Okay, enough of this – I need to be writing the novel again.

Earbuds in place, Grand’s Stay is cued up – time to go run with the wolves again.

[embedplusvideo height=”255″ width=”400″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1oiZMTQ” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/i3G3xm1-spg?fs=1&vq=hd720″ vars=”ytid=i3G3xm1-spg&width=400&height=255&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep9499″ /]

@stevegrandmusic – thanks for givin’ my boys something to run with!

Peace – OUT!

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Anatomy of a Sex Scene

Anatomy of a Sex Scene 

-OR-

Why I did what I did and how I did it…

 

Let's face it - SEX SELLS

Let’s face it – SEX SELLS

A recent blog discussion over on a group I belong to in LinkedIn for authors touched upon a topic that piqued my interest, that topic being sex.

The notice of the topic appeared in my inbox (if memory serves) and I thought it was an interesting topic to discuss.

The little blurb that caught my attention.

The little blurb that caught my attention.

I was particularly intrigued by the opening line –

“How’s that SEX SCENE you’ve written? You feel good about it, or as uneasy as a cat on a raft?”

I read through quite a bit of the posts (sex sells and these authors were definitely struggling or grappling or tangling with the subject matter by the looks of the posts). At first I wasn’t so quick to jump into the fray. The posts were hetero-centric and I just didn’t know if my hot man-on-man action was going to fit in with this crowd. Then I spied one entry that made mention of a gay romance story and how the sex scenes were handled there and I thought – oh, what the fuck -DIVE IN!

So dive, I did.

What I did do was rather than inundate people with a copy/paste of my sex scene on my website (an excerpt from my forthcoming book Angels of Mercy), I decided to simply reference the link to the work and give a general statement of how and why I did what I did. The forum moderator (who posted the topic) asked me why I made the choices I did (my main protag, Elliot, is the one in control in the book – it’s his POV through and through). And while I never pulled away from the intensity of these two young men and the serious sexual situations they found themselves in, I also knew that the sex wasn’t written to titillate and be a “one-handed” read (if you get my meaning). The sex in this book had to advance these boys further into the depths of their burgeoning relationship (so what’s new? – okay, I’ll grant you that one).

But here’s the kicker (from my perspective, at any rate):  when I started out, I thought I was going to focus on romantic stories that I read when I was a teenage boy starving for some sort of recognition that there were other men out there who desired other men; yeah, not so much it turns out.

Gordon Merrick and John Rechy were my absolute go-to’s for that. Those men were my prophets – men of words and lust, of thoughts and hopes. I admired them greatly and still do. I often credit them for saving my young gayboy life. I am NOT mincing words here. These men, for whatever reason were inspired to write what they did, had absolutely no idea that some random kid in a Southern California city like San Diego, would find these books and hold them so close to his heart, taking the time to make paper bag book covers to disguise the truer nature of what was in them. I knew they were dangerous books to have (well, dangerous by others who might find them and think of them as such).

So yeah, as a writer, I thought my works were of an erotic nature because gay men like sex – we don’t have to procreate (though the tech is there if we want to use it – ala Neil Patrick Harris and his delightful hubby David Burtka) so sex is purely for pleasure and to bind the men involved together on a very intimate level. So I made that mistake to think I was an erotic writer. And more to the point – a GAY erotic writer. Sin of all sins in the mainstream literature world.

Then Angels evolved. It burgeoned into something else. Well, that’s not entirely true. It sort of was something else all along. I just knew there was some hella hot sex going on in there (because they’re hormonally charged teen boys and sex is on the brain every 8 damned seconds). So I thought that – hey, sex sells so I must be an erotic writer.

 

Some more man on man action...just me, selling the sex.

Some more man on man action…just me, selling the sex.

You see the book evolved along the lines of the thriller/high drama I’d always envisioned. It’s a very psychological book in that you, as the reader, are in Elliot’s head. He is aware of you and (at times) addresses you directly. You’re along for the ride, so to speak. It wasn’t the plan from the start when I saw these boys populate (nearly fully formed in a matter of seconds) in my head. But Elliot had other plans for me.

You see, Elliot was my sixteen year old self wanting to finally surface and play in the make believe world I’d created for him. Elliot is a shy, artsy, stay in the shadows kind of gay kid. He’s out – only because he made the tragic mistake of telling his then best friend in the seventh grade and that bestie turned on him and blabbed to the rest of the school about Elliot. So out but not by choice; to stay in the shadows, try to be unobserved, also not by choice. That’s survival, that is.

So how the fuck does this relate to the fucking, you ask?

Simple.

It was clear to me that my boys were going to do something I hadn’t really read in LGBTQ YA or Adult fiction (romance or not). You were going to get into their heads and root around a bit. You were going to feel what they feel as they felt it (this includes their hard core fucking) – but from inside. I also had to keep in mind that book one was from Elliot’s POV, but the second book was going to be from his boyfriend’s (the star quarterback of the high school football team – the Mercy High Avenging Angels). So I had to carefully plan any situations between the boys so the two perspectives would jive when read side-by-side.

And my hubby, being the retired psychiatrist he is, put a golden nugget in my head to mentally chew on during the whole process – he said, “What is important for Elliot to remember and relate may not be important to Marco (the boyfriend).” That was far more helpful than I realized at the time he said it. It has been my lightning rod and bellwether and any other sign post I could have while I write the series. POV of both these characters is vitally important if the series is to work.

Okay, okay – so where’s the sex? I’m a-gettin’ to it… sheesh!

127666

 

So the sex… yeah.

As I said, I knew that the sex was integral to the story. Hormonally charged teenage boys – duh! But I just didn’t want to throw it out there like a bone (pun intended – sorry).

First, a little context – if you haven’t followed my blogging about the story (then, where the hell were ya – just kidding!), my story centers around the question: what would happen if the quiet, shy, and in the shadows out gay kid became the boyfriend of the most high profile football jock on campus? How would it work? What would happen? Who would support them, and more importantly, who would try to tear them apart?

Angels is not an easy piece to write. In truth, while it is the first book I am going to release, it was not the first m/m romantic storyline I’d ever written. I have three other stories in the wings at various stages of development but put all of those on hold because I didn’t feel like those epics (and they sort of are – I tend to think Cecil B. DeMille epic – it’s just in my nature to do so) were quite ready for prime time. So when my boys come together (from the first chapter, mind you), I wanted to get the “chase” of their romance put quickly aside. Unlike most stories where they try to avoid the coming together of the romantic leads (because “they say” that once you do then all the sexual tension drains from the story-line), I was more intrigued to find out the “what happens next” in their romance rather than the thrill of the chase.

So the context: Marco has been secretly in love with my artsy gay boy, Elliot, for two years now. He’s stalked him in the background, biding his time, taking unobserved pictures of the boy he can’t seem to get enough of. All of this while he tries to lead a double life of the jock image everyone puts on him. That duality in his life is very much the crux of the whole story. How the hetero-sexist world pressures gay men (even more so than our lesbian counterparts) to conform to what makes them comfortable, that we’re one of them at the expense of who we are.

Once Marco has Elliot front and center in his life – he holds onto him with a ferocity that consumes them both. These boys are lost in each other (to the detriment of their own safety as danger definitely circles them). But they aren’t concerned with that in the heady and intoxicating draw they feel in one another.

But I had a few things to consider at this juncture:

  1. These are boys of the internet age. THIS IS SIGNIFICANT AND CANNOT BE UNDERSCORED ENOUGH. (A point I’ll come to later)
  2. Hormonally charged teenage boys and the proliferation of safe sex knowledge and avoidance in such boys
  3. How men/boys think about and (more importantly) execute sex – no girls involved so the soft pillows and lacy crap was out the window – men, despite protestations to the contrary to their lady folk (in the hetero world) like their sex like they live their lives – MESSY AS ALL FUCK. Marco and Elliot were no different. Why? Because when I was a lad – the messier the sex, the hotter it was. Plain and simple. We’re boys; it’s what we do.

Now for one other element that was of consequence but how and why I employed it was purely from personal experience and not, I repeat, NOT because I was pandering to the whole über-hung sex stud romance story stereotype. Simply put, my first boy was massively hung. He even had a nickname – Glo-bone. I didn’t give it to him – he had it all on his lonesome before I met him. So Marco is a BIG BIG boy. And like me, Elliot was a bit of a twink (don’t know what that is? Google it!), so I wanted to use what I had from my own past to color how they came together (I swear these puns are not wholly intentional, well, sorta).

Elliot is a boy on a mission. He contemplates the enormity of his boyfriend and knows he’s diving into the deep end of the gay pool – but like me, he realizes that if Marco is the one for him, then what he’s got to work with from his boyfriend is something he wants to become adept at. It is important to him that Marco sees him and only him. No matter the cost (pain or otherwise) that may come in the process.

Marco, on the other hand, has his own demons to face in his first time with Elliot. Those demons don’t fully realize themselves for the reader until we get to his part of the story in book 2, but I do hint at them during Elliot’s telling of their first time together.

So now – ONTO THE SEX –

From Angels of Mercy – Volume One: Elliot [Chapter 3 – Shadowboxing and Champagne]

I already surmised that he was a man full of surprises. He was thoughtful, gentle and very passionate. But the most surprising thing about him was his patience. I was a jumble of nerves and conflicting emotions. Not about him. I knew I loved him. I was overwrought inside, concerned if I would make the grade, be an adequate lover the way he would wish me to be. Turns out, I needn’t have worried.

He was so sweet-tempered, taking his time to undress me slowly, gently batting my hands away anytime I tried to help him. With a lone small table lamp on the nightstand next to the bed, our bodies shadowboxed on the wall behind us. In that silhouette I became so ultra-aware of how inadequate my body was in comparison to his. I tried to hide it, painfully aware of how glorious he was, and how not, I was.

He smiled softly, but he said I was perfect for him in every way. He reminded me gently of how long he had watched me, how his desire to have me for himself had built over the past two years. Then he said the most amazing thing to me: he told me that he hoped that he would be everything I would want in a lover. That what I thought mattered to him so much that he was a bit nervous. He hoped it would be good for me. His hands were trembling, a slight quiver to his voice. My heart melted for him.

I just watched him. I heard the words; I knew what they meant. But for the life of me I couldn’t make it make sense. I could see he was becoming pensive, being so vulnerable with me about his insecurities. There was no way I was going to let him think he would ever be inadequate.

 

I wanted to make sure that Elliot set the tone. He was nervous as all get out but once he saw that Marco was right there with him, it completely transformed the whole scene. To Elliot, Marco is every bit the confident and studly jock that everyone says about him. To find out that Marco was just as vulnerable, even more so when (as the author) you know what demons he’s wrestling with that Elliot has no idea about. It’s quite the moment that will have to wait until book 2 for the big reveal on that front – but in the moment all we have is Elliot’s position – so let’s roll with that, shall we?

I pulled him to me and we fell onto the bed with a ferocity that I didn’t know I had. We tangled; we writhed, our bodies becoming slick with the passion we felt for each other. And it mattered to me that he was just as unsure as I was. Marco, my confident, sexy as hell boyfriend, was vulnerable with me. He allowed me to see that in him. And it mattered. It mattered in ways I couldn’t even fathom in that moment of our passion. It was something I found I would ponder from time to time thereafter. Truly astonished that someone who seemed so sure of himself and his place in the world, was worried about what I thought of him, of whether he’d measure up to what I wanted. If anything, it made my heart flutter just thinking about it, the way that sentiment from him did. But after that admission, I could see it in his eyes. Tucked there, in the furthest reaches, along with his abiding love for me was the fear that he’d fail me. Absurd. Completely absurd that he could ever fail me.

His kisses brought me back to the moment.

He whispered that he loved me, every inch of me, proving to me that he did by covering every inch of me in soft kisses. I tried to return each of his ministrations, but he wouldn’t have it. He said it was my night. He wanted to spend the night making love to me, pleasuring me. Letting me take from him what I wanted. 

And make no mistake, I wanted him.

It was important to me that Marco’s revelation about being just as vulnerable and concerned with what Elliot would think of him as a lover was out there. It’s what Elliot clings to that allows his trust in everything Marco to become absolute. It was this trust that was critical in making the scene work. Without it the whole thing would’ve been something else – something more porn/erotic. Eroticism wasn’t the point. The sex was. There is an important difference. Erotica is by nature there to titillate the reader – sex, the sex between my two main characters was put there to psychologically advance their relationship – to establish that trust that Marco was Elliot’s and Elliot was Marco’s. Nothing new from any other romance, right? Yeah, not so much – only because I knew where this was all going to go – so I had to seed this from the first time they were together. The trust had to be absolute. It had to be pervasive for the rest of the story to work. The whole series is a question of who do you trust and why. The element of safe sex (with a condom) is addressed here because it’s just the thoughtful kind of guy Marco was reared to be. But the question of youth and safe sex does percolate in the background. Boys will be boys, and given the vlogging by sex-crazed teens who post their exploits on the likes of XTube and RedTube, there is a plethora of kids out there far more sexually active and proud to post their sexploits on camera (as a matter of record, I never viewed any vlog post of anyone who appeared younger than 18 – the age of my boys in the novel – I was VERY careful about this. It may be research, but I too am sensitive to jailbait postings. But while I didn’t view them, it was clear that they were out there). The folly of youth, it seems. In any event, it was more than enough evidence to support Elliot and Marco becoming fully conversant with the ins and outs of gay sex – and messy gay sex at that.

When the moment arrived, he looked into my eyes, and he spoke of our love again – of how he knew how much trust I was putting in him. I had reason to be concerned – he was no shrinking violet. Italian Stallion didn’t begin to cover it. But there was no way I was not going to do this. With an ample gob of lube, he worked his fingers into my ass to get me used to it. I knew he didn’t have to do that, after all, he was a hormone raging teenaged boy – as was I. He could have just plowed me for all I was worth. But he didn’t. That’s not my Marco.

After a few minutes of his fingering me because we’d watched it on a porn once (exchanging charged looks between us as we did so), I told him I thought I was ready. He leaned down and we kissed very tenderly. He asked me again if I thought I was sure. He wanted me to have a way out if I was worried. No way. I was in all the way. I wanted him to take me, no matter the pain, no matter the cost. He slicked up his sizable condom sheathed cock, my eyes wide at how much of him there was. I wasn’t sure how all of him was going to fit in so little of me. But I’d remembered the porn videos about it and saw that some twinkish guys like me were able to take some massively hung men – so in theory it was possible. A part of me was inflamed with the possibility, but the more reasonable part, the part that was speaking fairly loud at this point, wasn’t so sure.

He paused, unsure if we should do this. No going back. I reached down between my legs and gripped that slicked up monster cock of his and pulled him to me, letting him firmly know that we’d passed that point of no return the moment we became a couple. I wanted him to know that I was good with it. I wanted it. I wanted him.

I don’t know if he thought it would be sexy or if he was trying to distract me from that impressive cock of his, but when he pressed into me, kissing me while he was shaking it a bit with his hand as if that would get me to loosen up further, there was precious little that would have distracted me from what I was feeling. There was no denying it. It hurt. Far more than I was prepared.

At this point I knew I was deep in the mechanics of the sex the boys were going to have. This is where most erotica fails to even remotely draw me in. The mechanics are fairly well known to most people. Fucking is fucking… it may be creative, it may be damn near acrobatic in nature, but it’s still fucking. Fucking is fucking. That part didn’t concern me nearly as much as what Elliot felt during the process. Feeling the enormity of the man he loves as he takes Elliot’s virginity from him. The manner in which he moves Elliot from virgin to an adept lover happens fairly quickly – this wasn’t a mistake either NOR is it wholly impossible (drawn from real life, remember?). Elliot is a quick learner – he sort of has to be. It’s how gayboys survive in this world. We dance between our thoughts and our reality like a well-trained boxer. As with any boxer, some are better at it than others. Some are naturals, while others have to work hard at it. Elliot is closer to the latter rather than the former. He talks a good game, but he’s not as en-pointe as he likes you to believe he is. That’s important too. Having the über hot boyfriend, the man who is at the apex of their insular high school world, only serves to dull that carefully honed survival instinct that Elliot is ‘sorta’ good at. So their sex, their coming together, while it strengthens them as a couple, it also conspires to erode the foundation they both come to rely upon, the world that will eventually crumble from beneath them. But that was later – now I had to build upon their growing trust to be there for one another.

Some men just can't wait... it's all good.

Some men just can’t wait… it’s all good.

With my sharp intake of breath and a deep moan, he stopped – his eyes soft with fear, saying over and over how sorry he was – that we should stop. When he began to withdraw I found something within me clicked, I knew I didn’t want him to stop. I hooked my feet around his back and drew him forward. I was already committed to being there for him. I would endure anything for him – even if that meant enduring the pain as if he were cleaving me in two. I was determined for my body to learn of his passions and not only accommodate them, but become adept at pleasuring him. I never wanted to become so good at something as I did in that moment.

I once read somewhere online that Linda Lovelace had said that fucking John Holmes was like squatting on a telephone pole. That sister was preaching to the choir here. But he meant that much to me, so I begged him to continue, biting my lip as he pulled me to him. His next few thrusts into me burned, and I hissed – part in pain and part in a blossoming raw erotic pleasure. Then before I realized it, his fucking me caught fire, ignited an inferno of desire and then I couldn’t get enough of him. My legs had moved from being at his side to finding their way onto his shoulders as he brought our bodies together in a thunderous clap of sweat, flesh and passion. My toes curled from the largeness of his moving deep within me. I moaned – loudly. I tried to keep from calling out his name, afraid he would think he was hurting me. And he was hurting me – each time he withdrew, it hurt – hurt that he wasn’t there anymore and I needed him to be there. 

He chuckled softly at my pleading for more. He picked up the pace – only because I told him I wanted it to be rougher. Before long I was demanding that he give me his all. And he did. He poured every ounce of his body strength into fucking me, and I met every thrust, hoisting my hips to meet his with a resounding clap of flesh. Panting with exertion, he asked me if I was sure I hadn’t ever done this before. For his cheekiness I clenched my ass tightly around his cock causing both of our eyes to bulge at that sensation. Hands down, that became our new favorite thing. He began begging me to bear down on him as he fucked. I was a quick learner. I could tell he was pleased.

“So good, baby. You’re so fucking beautiful. I just want to make love to you. That’s all I want to do,” he murmured as we kissed between his impassioned words. I just nodded. I was beyond words to tell him what I was feeling for him. I hoped like hell he saw it in my eyes.

Without much in the way of warning he leaned forward and bit down on that tendon from my neck to my right shoulder as he continued to take me. His teeth gripped that piece of flesh, rasping his tongue against it – the pull upon my skin burned while he fucked me with reckless abandon. I was in heaven. I was shuddering with how deeply he burnished his way into me. I was on fire. I didn’t want him to stop; I wanted that burn to consume me. I found I would always want him this way. There was no going back. I could feel him sucking very hard upon that tendon. I knew he was leaving a mark. Marking me – making me as his own. I’d wear that proudly. I was putting the world on notice: I was Marco Sforza’s. That put an extra spark in our fucking that had me abandoning any pretense of being quiet. I’d become a dirty little bad boy and I begged him to keep fucking me.

Surprisingly enough, he came after only a few seconds of my dirty talk. Leaning forward so our foreheads touched, he giggled and told me I got him so hot when I said those dirty things to him. I felt sort of cheesy saying them – like I was some sexy porn star, but fuck, he was doing me good and it just seemed to spill out without much thought on my part. I told him if he fucked me like that I’d always remember to do that for him. He smiled as we kissed. I felt him wane a bit, though never really slipping from me, but as the kiss blossomed in the afterglow his cock stirred to life and we went for another round right on the spot, laughing as we did so. Ever laugh while you fuck? I can tell you now, I highly recommend it.

Marco and Elliot are one. Their relationship on more solid ground than ever before. Elliot is confident in what they are to each other – insofar as he’ll allow himself, that is. He still grapples with why Marco wants him. He can’t reconcile that with the boy he’s stared at in the mirror each morning. He’s skinny (though not really – body image issues – another gayboy foible), he’s average looking (he’s not – image issues again), he’s boring and nothing special (he’s a brilliant singer and a great graphic artist), and for the life of him he doubts that Marco will be around for the long haul. This too was the impetus for the work. Gay men always carry a degree of doubt when they find a potential mate. All the love in the world is a wonderful thing to have, but there’s always the chance that it’s purely transitory. A wisp of the real thing. Nothing to cling to.

Only Elliot will come to learn that Marco is, if anything, a man of his word. When he tells Elliot that he is the one for him, he means just that. It is a promise and a binding that will be tested as the story progresses. Each time I use sex in the story, while I don’t pull punches in it (the boys get into some very messy and involved cum play – it’s just their thing and with that safe sex definitely goes out the window – but they are exclusive to one another so they think they are safe) I don’t want to use it for the sake of sex.

Eh, what would a drama infused story be if everyone were safe? Thankfully, the manner of sex is the least troubling for the boys of Mercy, but sex is an important tool, a device I employ to color ALL of the characters of Angels.

Sex sells. I just made sure that when I use it – it advances not only the story as a whole, but the characters as well. Sex may sell, but it doesn’t have to equate to a sell out.

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