SA Collins

Words and Errata

October 2014

Happy Halloween All! It’s all about the Were’s today…

Happy Halloween All! It’s all about the Weres today…

 

That be WERE'S in them thar hills! (And that's a very good thing!)

That be WERES in them thar hills! (And that’s a very good thing!)

 

I am ready and rarin’ to go with my gay werewolf story set in a fictitious town of Sparrow’s Hollow, West VA. It sort of came to me (as most of my stories do) as I signed up for the Nanowrimo event. Gay weres are not a new thing in the M/M (gay lit fic) genre. There are literally TONS of them out there. But I wanted to play with it a bit myself. I love being spooked. I love the thrill of not knowing but fearing it beyond all measure of what’s right around that next corner! EEEKS!

I am totally pantsing it…

What the hell is pantsing, you ask?

It means while I know the characters, the arc and the general setting, I don’t have a planned outline. I don’t have everything mapped out to the nth degree. I have a feel for what I am going to do and I am just gonna sit down and hammer it all out. One. Word. At. A. Time. I am literally and physically flying by the “seat of my pants…”

Pantsing it…

I think it’ll be scary writing it from that perspective alone.

 

Am feelin' the love of the lycan sort today! HOWL y'all!

Am feelin’ the love of the lycan sort today! HOWL y’all!

 

And I’ve got something that is really quite different in my world of weres… I wanted something new to write about if I was going to take it on. I think it’s rather exciting and could reset the genre if I can do it right.  We’ll see. Don’t want to write too much about it until it starts tomorrow.

BUT, what I will say, is that while I am gonna be writing this I will be blogging about the experience too. I don’t know what I’ve bitten into, but it is gonna be epic in its own way, I can just tell. And weres are all about the biting, and the rutting, and the feeding, right?

So on this All Hallows Eve, I’ll just cross my fingers (after I’ve completed the werewolf makeup on the granddaughter for trick or treating) and plunge in at midnight tonight!

It’s gonna be EPIC!

Thar be wolves in them thar hills!  (and that’s a VERY good thing!)

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Running with Wolves…

Running with Wolves…

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

 

So the NaNoWritMo event is coming up. I have to admit this is the first time I’ve heard of it. I guess I had my head down on my own shit I was writing to think about any sort of writing event outside of my carefully crafted worlds.

Let’s see the line up, shall we?

  1. Angels of Mercy (Volumes 1-3) – This one isn’t a surprise that it’s first because Volume 1 is in the can and on its way for final smoothing edits from a highly qualified editor that I am over the moon happy to be working with.  So yeah, the boys (and girls) of Mercy, California are first on the list but theirs isn’t a supernatural story (despite the mention of Angels in the title – that is a reference to the high school mascot – an Avenging Angel).
  2. Far Wars – Fear the Feigr – This is my fantasy story that has quite the sci-fi slant all over it. I am talking Fae. But not just any Fae of the Celtic sort, no we’re going further back than that – I am talking NORSE fae – their forebears, the Feigr. Only my Feigr are fierce. They are in your face, kick assed dangerous bad asses – and we humans had better just learn to give them a wide birth. This one is a dark tale with a big gay twist (in that for the Feigr, it’s not gay at all… what could I possibly mean by that?).
  3.  The Cove Chronicles – My Lord of the Rings epic tale gone completely NATIVE (as in Americans). This one is bold. It begins in the small town of Hallet’s Cove, Long Island (which later became Astoria) in the early 1800’s but wends its way to the Gold Rush time in San Francisco. But the Chronicles don’t end there. They stretch all the way to our more modern times in  present day Hallet’s Cove – relocated to an inlet bay in Northern California. The Natives are restless and there’s good reason for that. They’re only defending the world against total annihilation as we know it. Yeah, it’s another epic. I tend to think Cecil B. DeMille epic.
  4. HO’M,O – Yeah, you read that one right… I have a book called HO’M,O. They really are initials that just happen to spell that the book is one big euphoric gay werewolf romp fest. Okay it doesn’t imply wolves at all, but I am telling you that’s what it’s about.

 

This last entry is the one I want to discuss today. You see, I am starting this bad boy off with the NaNoWritMo event that challenges authors to write a novel in 30 days with a minimum of 50K words. Now for a guy like me who can hammer out close to 10K a sitting (I am NOT bullshitting in the slightest – just look at my blog entries – words and the speed in which they flow are NEVER a problem for me), 50K is gonna be a breeze. I am more worried that I’ll get into it by November 15 and go well shit, I am only half way through the story and I’ve just broken 150K words! What the fuck am I gonna do now, Blanche?

That’s the real worry I have with the NaNoWritMo event. I think I’ll get too far ahead of myself.

HO’M,O is a tale about a young man in his senior year in high school. He lives a quaint and generally quiet life in the fictitious town of Sparrow’s Hollow (Holler) in the southern part of West Virginia (I chose it because my hubby is from WVA and can give me the 411 on it since he grew up in that area around the time I am setting the book (the latter part of the 1950’s). So no cell phones, no social media, hell, there’s barely ANY media of any kind in this po’ dunk of a town! And there be wolves in dem thar hills!

The Celtic Take on Lycanthropy

The Celtic take on Lycanthropy

I wanted to play with the whole supernatural werewolf/shifter element in the m/m genre.

Now, to be clear, I still don’t fully ally myself with the m/m romance genre that so many of my author contemporaries write to. My books, from my perspective as they are created that way, are Gay Lit Fic across other sub-genres – in this case, supernatural. It has the gay element (which is why the whole Gay Lit thing is first). With my work, that is implied. It will generally always have a gay element to it. Why? Because there is a boat load of that other straight shit out there that they don’t need me reminding them of why they fall in love. Their romances do not intrigue me in the slightest. They are fully represented by the masses of authors who have to keep reminding that crowd of why they do what they do. Our side is still woefully under-represented. So yeah, totally on-board with the whole gay lit thing. It’s a given.

Anyway, I also wanted to do classic horror setup from the 1950’s. I am utterly fascinated with the 50’s in that it was an era of absolute dullness (nothing really went on). The social upheaval of the 60’s was still around the corner and down the road a piece. The frantic forties (what with the War occupying a great majority of it) are also of interest but in this case I wanted the horror classic feel of the 50’s in this book.

 

Straight from 'American Werewolf in London," right?

Straight from ‘American Werewolf in London,” right?

 

So yeah, wolves. In West Virginia, no less. It just sort of popped up in my head. I’ve never been to WVA. I have no knowledge of the area first hand BUT I do have it second hand (as I said my hubby was born in Wheeling, WVA). So yeah, I got that part covered AND from the same era as the book (hubby is a tad older than me).

I am working like hell to get the character sketches down. To flesh them all out. To make my bad boys be more, I dunno, wolf like. Wolf primed? Wolf  enabled? I gotta come up with something better than that when the contest begins (I have to keep reminding myself that I m not competing with anyone other than myself to get the job done). The contest is to complete a novel in 30 days with at least 50K words in the body of the book. I think I can do this.

So why the blog post?

Because I am on pins and needles about it all. About the whole crafting it by the seat of my pants. Yeah, I am pretty much a pantser (what writers call themselves when they write by the seat of their pants) when I write. I have a general frame work, I have fully formed characters (and I do mean formed when I say it). I also have a majority of the plot line fully formed in my head before I ever put a word down on digital bytes and bits. It’s all a matter of hammering it all out.

 

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

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

 

Alfred Hitchcock (an idol/hero of mine) often said that for him the fun of making his movies or telling his stories was in the planning of it. The rest was just busy work to get it all down. I sooooo, get that. Epically get it. Epically – to the nth degree – do I get it.

Hank O’Malley (my Omega – and if you don’t know what those are in Lycanthrope lore, you better do your homework like I have) is my protag. He’s an amazing character. I love him already. I can’t wait to throw him to the wolves of Sparrow’s Holler (so to speak).

NaNoWritMo – it’s just around the corner as the final days of October come to a close. November 1 is the date. I start writing my new opus then. It’ll be far shorter than my other works, but I can already see a path to writing a series on these boys. It’s an ensemble cast from many aspects, so yeah, it could definitely grow into a real series. Hell, it’ll probably be even gayer than that whole Teen Wolf thing on MTV.

Sort of a Happy Days cross with Teen Wolf – eh, no, wait. That isn’t what I was shooting for at all. Well, it’ll come together I am sure.

In 30 days.

Thirty…

Days…

Tic-toc, tic-toc, tic-toc…

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Our Dirty Little Secret…

Our Dirty Little Secret

A discussion with Savannah Smythe on the release of her new work – Dirty Little Secret and a few other topics that cropped up…

 

Dirty Little Secret - by Savannah Smythe

Dirty Little Secret – by Savannah Smythe

 

SA Collins: So when do you think you can recall when you found yourself bit by the whole writing bug? Was there some impetus that got you into writing?

Savvy Smythe: I’ve always loved weaving stories, even from a very young age, probably to get me out of some kind of trouble, I guess.  But I never thought of writing anything down until after my first child was born.  I think it was boredom more than anything else.  I was hitting the treadmill at the gym and my daughter was in daycare, and my first character just kind of popped into my head and said “Hello.”

Actually, that’s a lie.  He said something like “Hey, bitch, I want a woman and a decent story. Get to it.”  He can be rude like that…

 

SA Collins: Yeah, that’s usually a hallmark of a writer: our characters really sort of control us – dictate when things need to get done.

Savvy Smythe: Absolutely.  I think all writers with fiction should identify with this, and sometimes you need to go with the flow and see what comes out.  It can surprise you.  It sure as hell surprised me!

 

SA Collins: Did your writing always have the erotic slant it has now? If so, why do you think that is? If not, how did it evolve into that?

Savvy Smythe: It certainly didn’t start out as erotica, although I’ve never shied away from portraying sexual scenes between my characters.  How the erotica thing started was simple.  I couldn’t get the damned book published so I sliced, diced and spiced it as an experiment, because sex sells, right?  I knew I had a juicy story, but it needed a lot more juice to interest the erotica market.

To answer your other question, I guess I’ve always been interested in, not the ins and outs of sex per se, but the interplay between characters, the growing intensity of feelings and setting moods where sensual happenings can take place

 

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

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

 

SA Collins: So, given that, did you find that your sales changed when your writing did? Or was it a slow evolving process? Do you still see your work as erotica? Because, here’s my take on it: I really don’t think that sexual situations make it erotica. Sex is a part of the human condition. I think what erotica is is a piece written to titillate and inflame, sometimes at the expense of a real story, but when woven into a real bona fide tale, then I think it crosses back over to adult fiction. I think you can have a sexually active and sex positive character without it being erotica. Do you know what I am getting at here?

Savvy Smythe: Yes, I do, and I agree on the whole.  There are different levels of erotica though.  In my mainstream contemporary fiction books, the sex is used as a potent way of luring two characters together and making them want each other, and when they do, it’s fireworks.  But in my role as an erotica writer, the sex is definitely the most important thing.  I wrote straight erotica for Virgin Books for five years, and sales were good enough that they kept renewing my contract, which was great.  But after a while it became slightly boring to be honest because the sex was the main event (as it has to be in an erotica book, obviously.)  The challenge was to make it interesting.  Actually, I nearly got my editor fired because my attempt at making it interesting contravened several decency laws – oops!

So yes, there is a big difference between the role that sex plays in erotica and “mainstream” fiction.  And this goes back to what I was saying about different forms of erotica.  There are the one-handed reads, and books with characters that people can actually get involved with.  Three dimensional characters with stories that don’t insult the intelligence of the person reading them.  And that’s what I tried to do.

 

SA Collins: Fair enough. The reason I bring it up is that when I started I first listed myself as an erotic writer but after Angels fully took form it was clear that while sex was present, the sexual situations psychologically advanced the characters (more than just bringing them together) in that my shy boy became increasingly more assertive in his life – every facet of his life – which said to me that the sex, while erotic in nature, really was a different device altogether. I get the whole differing degrees of erotica writing – and I am not disparaging it as a whole genre, but I often wonder if we’re too motivated to label it as such when maybe we aren’t seeing the greys in those erotic levels as something else altogether. You know?

Savvy Smythe: Yes, and a lot of it comes down to marketing and being honest about the genre the book is for.  And that isn’t necessarily the market you assume it is for when you write it, if you assume anything at all.  Black Lace (Virgin Books) was obviously erotica, aimed at women, and that was easy because I knew my genre.  Since then, I haven’t written any erotica until this year, when I began What You Wish For, which eventually turned into Dirty Little Secret.  I wrote the book, knowing I was writing erotica, but I hadn’t given any thought about who it was aimed at, I was just writing the story.  Because once you start getting hung up on markets, etc., your creativity can go out the window.  In a way, this is what happened with What You Wish For, which is why it eventually became DLS.

And sex is obviously a great selling point, but just because there is a lot of it in a book, doesn’t make it erotica, necessarily.  I’m saying that sometimes, erotica isn’t always there to give a thrill, but to engender all kinds of emotions in the reader. As well as giving a thrill!

 

A little 411 on the DLS low-down.

A little 411 on the DLS low-down.

 

SA Collins: So you mentioned Dirty Little Secret, which is your recent release, right? How did that happen – it started out as a straight erotica piece, right?

Savvy Smythe: It did, and I guess it was aimed at women because that’s the erotica market I’ve always written for.  Straight men on the whole don’t read a lot of erotica.  They like to see the T and A before their eyes.

 

SA Collins: True enough – men are very visual.

Savvy Smythe: But then a strange thing happened.  My two male characters fell in love before my eyes.  It was a natural process and I can honestly say I didn’t force the issue.  It just came about.  So I went with it, again not thinking about the marketing issue, although I wanted to publish the story in three parts.  But when I had finished the story and had three parts, one of straight erotica and two of gay erotica, I immediately saw I had a problem. Maybe this is an assumption here, but I guessed that gay men wouldn’t be interested in straight erotica featuring women, but I wasn’t so sure about women wanting to read gay erotica.  So I did some digging and began to read gay erotica. Actually, I had been reading gay erotica as soon as I knew I was going to write it, to find out what I was up against.

 

SA Collins: Is it something you find interesting to write about? Or was this a one off “walk in a different park” sort of thing?

Savvy Smythe: I feel very comfortable writing about men, either in sexual situations or in burgeoning relationships, but I’m aware that I have a lot to learn.  I didn’t want to insult people by just swapping women for men and writing “dick lit” because men and women’s motivations are totally different.

 

SA Collins: Now you’ve hit upon one of the things that sticks in my craw about the M/M genre as it stands now. As a gay man/author I have collected a number of these writings and what truly astounds me is how very little it has to do with what our lives are like. I mean, I am all for the fantasy of a good yarn, but some of the emotive qualities are completely off the mark of how men feel – and often gay men at that. I think it stems from women not really getting that as a gay man you always, whether you can play off the straight male thing in society or not, are looking over your shoulder, sometimes swapping pronouns to make people around you comfortable. Yet the works in the genre never really reflect that. So while it’s “gay” it really is with air quotes completely implied. Do you think that the genre needs some evolving in that manner? Or do you think it is what it is…? I know it’s one of the reasons why I refuse to ally myself with that sort of market as my main market. Because my work will not follow those sort of entrenched guidelines..

Savvy Smythe: I think that every genre is evolving, mostly thanks to the ebook market.  People have access (should they choose to accept it) to almost any fiction they please.  But yes, to answer your last question, the gay erotica I read, written by women is very different to that written by men.  It seems to be either fantasy (wolf/biker/shapeshifter) or the other stereotypes (soldier, cop, mechanic) and I think that says a lot more about what the writer finds erotic than what her audience will.  Not that there is anything wrong with that but don’t mistake it for bona fide erotica aimed at gay men.

The erotica I’ve read by men is a lot more meaty, with more of their senses being used – which is surprising to me but very enlightening.  Also, every book I’ve read reflects the “over the shoulder” situation you described, where as a lot of women tend to write about being gay and proud of it, or being completely and happily segregated from “normal” society. So in order to write erotica for the gay market, I want to learn to write more like a man, and that is something which I find really exciting.  I’m not degenerating women’s writing AT ALL.  There are some really gritty women writers out there.  I want to be one of them.  Dirty Little Secret is a bit of fun, a toe in the water, but I’ve learned a lot since then.

 

Who doesn't need a little hug now and then?

Who doesn’t need a little hug now and then?

 

SA Collins: I sort of liken it to me writing about a young black woman – I might be able to imagine it, I might even be in the midst of the community, but there is something intrinsically truthful about the work when it comes from the source. I don’t blame women writing M/M erotica for their own pleasure but what I find sort of bewildering is all of the rainbow cons that really don’t seem to have very much to do with what we are working towards. To me its more about women who love the hell out of men (as do gay men) but write about them in gay situations as they would like to fantasize about men but the ‘gayness’ of them really isn’t much in play here other than its homosexual in nature.  I think the genre as a whole needs to do a little soul searching and more gay male voices need to rise to the top and write about us as we really are. Only then will the genre as a whole evolve. Otherwise I think it will just be women fantasizing about men as they want to see them rather than what we truly are… does that make sense?

Savvy Smythe: Yeah, it does, although I would say that it isn’t the role of erotica to reflect the angst going on in real life.  One of the big no-nos in straight erotica are characters with kids.  No-one wants to read about child-care arrangements before the fucking starts.  They don’t want to hear about women with problems juggling their lives, or non-consensual sex (another rule I broke – I’m all about breaking rules) or any of the other issues that people in “normal” life experience.  It is a fantasy after all.

But, this also begs the question about what motivates women to write gay erotica.  Yes, a lot of it is a fantasy about what gay men are like in bed. And I think some women do it because they feel SAFER writing about gay men.

 

SA Collins: Why? Because they think gay men aren’t reading it to say – hey, wait a minute there —where am I in all of this? What do you mean by safer?

Savvy Smythe: Because they can have their kicks writing and reading about it without feeling they have to compete.  In erotica books, the heroine is mostly beautiful, or has some quality that makes her irresistible to the hero.  Some women feel threatened by that and think, “I would never be like that.  I don’t want to hear about some bitch with perfect tits getting banged by Mr. Hardjaw.” But put Mr. Hardjaw with Mr. Sexyabs and hell, yes!

 

SA Collins: That sort of seems rather simplistic in a way. I mean you’ve read a bit of my book… right?

Savvy Smythe: I’m reading it now, but as you said, your book isn’t erotica, it’s a character study.  Erotica is there mainly for one purpose, and that is to get off, right?  DLS is erotica.  I want to make it intelligent but to be honest, I wanted to turn people on first.  And THAT is the prime purpose of erotica

 

SA Collins: True enough but let’s talk character for a second. I think that in erotica (or hell, even mainstream lit fic) women make a very interesting mistake in my mind when writing male characters. I think because in their own lives they hear the brevity of how we communicate and make an assumption that things go on like that in our heads. That we think in bits and bytes and not strung together long trained thoughts. In Angels almost 70 percent of it is Elliot’s (my protag) inner monologue. Men do think quite intensely and prolonged as we analyze our world around us – the difference is we don’t talk a lot about it. Gay men more than our hetero counterparts to a degree, but even so – gay men have short hand talking that does the same brevity communication that our straight brothers do. Most female writers miss the boat on that. I found that to be rather telling. It was one of the reasons why Elliot’s part of my series is so inside his head. It was far more interesting for me to express him internally (thus, the character study) yet, walk you through what he feels and thinks while he’s having hot man-on-man action…

Savvy Smythe: Men are from Mars, women are from Venus?

 

menmarswomenvenus

The whole Men and Women thing – sorta lost on me, but Savvy seems to know quite a bit about it…

 

SA Collins: The inner monologue men go through isn’t as developed as I think it can be. I think it is simplistic for most (definitely not all) female writers to assume that how the men in their world act are how we really are. I think the inner monologues are not as complex as we sometimes can be.

Savvy Smythe: Yeah, I get that.

 

SA Collins: Sure. I mean I turned you onto John Rechy’s work… you said that you found his voice to be very powerful and you were getting some of that from him, right? Did it surprise you to read his take on male sexuality?

Savvy Smythe: I think we women make the assumption that men are simple souls, because to be honest, men have told us that for long enough.  Perhaps to stop us over-thinking things we have no hope of understanding? It wasn’t a surprise to read John Rechy’s take but it was enlightening, because I, like a lot of women have always thought that men are more visual than anything else.

 

The Sexual Outlaw as I saw it in 1979.

The Sexual Outlaw as I saw it in 1979.

 

SA Collins: True enough. I mean my daughter is on match.com looking for potential boyfriend material and one guy got playful with her and started to talk about the big trucks and tractors he drives around at work (like a big boy would). She got all over analytical about it and I stopped her in her tracks and said – “Sweetie, sometimes a tractor or a truck is just that. He’s being playfui, don’t make it a political statement.”

So I get we can be forthright in our statements and they get over-analyzed to the point of absurdity (in most men’s opinions).

Savvy Smythe: I think women are always looking for the hidden message.  It’s a defense mechanism to stop them from getting hurt.  It doesn’t work though.

 

SA Collins: When I read Rechy’s work as a gay teen (this was the late 70’s mind you) it was truly enlightening that all of the things I was questioning about myself as a man (let alone a gay one) were right there in his pages.

Savvy Smythe: A comparative work for women would be The Women’s Room, by Marilyn French.

 

The Women's Room - Marilyn French

The Women’s Room – Marilyn French

 

SA Collins: All of the textures and the senses that we as men go through. This is what I often find missing in M/M erotica… the assumptions are never analyzed by the author – simply taken as hard cold fact about us and not inquired or asked about. I know some men won’t cough up the goods or admit to what really goes on in our heads. In fact, I spend more time talking to my straight friends about their emotional shit that would truly astound their wives and girlfriends. I often laugh that straight women and straight men don’t really get what a great ally gay men are to them. They assume that our sex is so perverse that they can’t possibly be of any help to them. But I know I’ve helped my straight co-workers on a number of occasions because I gave them some insight on why their ladies might be feeling the way they were or expressing themselves how they were.  The dialog is changing but I always sort of laugh on how much of our POV on their own relationships go unasked. I always tell my daughter – I may be gay, but honey, I know my sex…

Savvy Smythe: I think straight women get the gay ally thing.  Most women yearn for a GBF. (Sex and the City, anyone?)  BUT, I think it’s become a bit like a status symbol, rather like a designer handbag. I’d be willing to bet that the women wanting a GBF want him so they can give some insight into men and make them feel good about themselves. Actually, if you examine that dynamic, it looks a bit one-sided. Are the women with GBFs any wiser about how gay men think, feel, function day to day? This is a genuine question because I haven’t a clue! Would be interesting to find out though.

It seems as if we are all shouting at each other over a divide the size of the Grand Canyon. Can women ever really understand what is going on in men’s heads, whether they are gay or not?

 

More on this discussion coming soon – in the interim I highly suggest you check out Savannah’s brilliant and provocative works via the following channels:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+

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It’s a SMUTTY Book…

It’s a SMUTTY Book…

 

-or-  Why I think that warning labels and smutty classifications are in the eye of the beholder.

 

But I can’t say it as eloquently as this man can… Enjoy! (I know I did)

 

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This one goes out to my author pal, Savannah Smythe who posed a comment question from my last blog post. I encourage everyone to visit this brilliant and engaging website.

To her question, here is my more eloquent reply (ala Tom Lehrer).

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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!

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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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