SA Collins

Words and Errata

The Pen IS Mightier …

The Pen IS Mightier …

 

violetquillmasterSparkle_960x330

 

Truly. Who knew? I always thought that was a cliché. Guess not. That shit’s for realz, y’all!

So here’s the dealio … I’ve started this thing over a the Violet Quill Redux, another blog site. Yeah, I know, I KNOW. I barely keep up with this one. But ya see, this blog site is very different. It’s my blank canvas for a new work I am starting to form. This one is very close to the bone. So close that it’s about me. My life – with all it’s beauty, and inherent warts, too.

Totes Clamath Boy.

 

Me (left) and my bestie, Bobby. We were inseparable back in the day.

Me (left) and my bestie, Bobby. We were inseparable back in the day.

 

And that’s the scary part – the whimsy of it all.

I’m really bearing my soul here. Artistic endeavors aside, this is the real deal, kids: a no-holds-barred, unflinching look at where I’ve been and what I’ve done.

Make no mistake, this is terrifying. It’s also rather liberating. I find that I am resonating with readers, too. I’ve already had more than one person pull me aside (either through email or private message or what have you) and tell me things about their own lives, how what I wrote pulled memories almost forgotten or set aside from their darkened pasts.

Truly epic and deeply felt stories have been brought to me. So it seems I’ve struck a nerve.

But as with all things when it comes to my writings, I think this one will be a slow burn. I think it’ll catch fire though. I’ve led a colorful life. Well, let’s put it this way, there are some thing’s in my past I’ve had to quietly research to see if legal statutes of limitations still apply or not. Yeah, I wasn’t always the good guy I made myself out to be. Love, or rather lust, can make you do some very stupid shit. Sex was the greatest form of self-expression in my youth. I suppose for most gayboys that’s a very true statement. Sex is pure pleasure in our worlds.

But way I figure it, why not put it out there? There are Reddit exposés being released all the time that catch fire. So why not mine, eh?

 

What good is living all this stuff if you can’t relay it all?

 

I mean, how many of us live, love and die and our histories are lost the moment we take our last breath? Sure some family members or friends might recount some odd exploit of yours, but really, the bulk of your life fades away, doesn’t it? Those smaller details of every damned thing you’ve gone through simply slip into the ether. But it doesn’t have to, that’s the thing. You just gotta have the courage of your convictions (as they say) to get it out there.

I found I can’t have that; the losing myself to the ether after I am gone. I know I am not a celebrity. Yet, I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the stage as a professional actor and classically trained singer, so I’ve had my time in the sun where that’s concerned. But why not a “common man” tale? I think I am worthy of relating to. Might give some insight for those who aren’t queer to see what it’s like from the inside. But I realized that my thoughts, my impressions and perceptions will be lost the moment I let go of this mortal coil, as it were.

 

Who will speak for me then? I will, that’s who.

 

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And I’ve had rocky parts to my life, too. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, ya know. Not by a bloody long shot, actually. Let’s just say that a few times I didn’t know if I’d make it out in one piece. I’ve been quite lucky. Probably why I haven’t won the lottery. I think I used up all my luck on my fool-hearty twenties and have now lived to tell the tale, as it were.

But that’s part of the challenge, isn’t it? To face what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve failed, where I’ve gone along with, who I’ve done. Make no mistake, and it’s not like you haven’t heard it before, but sex sells.

I just need to put it all out there – to write it all down. They’re not chronological in how they’re presented over on VQR. They need to waffle up from the pit of my belly and demand their time in the sun. Hedonistic weekends that I have to not only face, but write about or else none of it is worth putting out there. I can’t hide from it this time. I have to detail it all.

Why?

Because I am truly embracing my queerness. I am totally reclaiming what that means for myself. My life is queer. Those jocks who teased me back in high school were 110% correct. I am queer. But what I didn’t get, what I was too naive and green to see, was that I shouldn’t be shamed by it. I needed to embrace it. To take hold and ride that bitch into the night.

The thing is, it’s going to hit a fair number of people I know. No man is an island, as they say. Truer words and all that rot. I don’t think most of my friends and family realize that. I mean, it’s not going to be loaded with salacious tidbits of stuff left and right with them. They’re my friends and family. But I led a double-life back then. One way with them, another when I was alone or with my then boyfriend. My twenties and early thirties were somewhat of a voracious sexual rompfest. I was careless, I was brash and unthinking. And I was extremely lucky. But before anyone goes off the deep end with rantings about “self love” and “self respect”  – fuck off, will ya? This is MY queer life, not yours. Yes, to a great degree while I didn’t go running off into the night to mimic Rechy’s characters in The Sexual Outlaw, or Numbers, while I was a teenager, I did my fair share of it in my twenties. Two completely different aspects to myself. One the loyal, front and center kind of friend and family member, the other? Yeah, let’s just say I’m amazed beyond belief I am still standing here. With a negative HIV status, no less. ‘Cause muthafucking shit got wild. A form of Russian Roulette that I some how came out unscathed on the other side.

But that’s the thing, I’ve got to put it all down. What was totally euphoric as well as the horrific. I’ve certainly had both. And great heaping spoonfuls of it, too.

And I’ll tell ya this much: I’ve never felt more alive then when I am writing out my past. It’s like a character in my book, like Elliot Donahey or Marco Sforza in Angels of Mercy, except I know this guy intimately. He can’t hide from me, because he is me.

There’s a part of me that is grateful that I severed my ties with my birth name entity across social media. Now only SA Collins exists. I’ve killed the other me. He’s history, well, as much as anyone can be in this day and age. Nothing ever truly disappears when it’s been on the net does it? But in that, he lives on in the posts on Violet Quill Redux.

But that’s cool, too. It’s definitely going to be interesting, that’s for dayum sure!

Scared (’cause Mom’s gonna read this shit).

Totally exposed.

But feelin’ so fucking alive …

 

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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[NSFW] Men of Courage – Men of Colors

[NSFW] Men of Courage – Men of Colors

 

-OR-

 

Dealing with the internal emotive pain we men bear.

 

So my Human Sexuality class at school kicked me squarely in the rubber parts. I sorta love it when that happens. Not cause it causes emotive pain on my part – I am just not into S/M (not that there’s anything wrong with it – I get the whole endorphin release shit that comes out of the pleasure/pain dichotomy).

So a couple of blog posts ago I entered a small section regarding the (young) men in that class that went a little bit like this…

… the young men tried to project that they were über cool with it. They had it down. They were bonafied stud material.

Some of those young men walked in with no small degree of swagger – all tatted up and seemingly confident in their skins. Their body language professing their assumed comfortability with the topic and their prowess in the bedroom (or whatever room is at hand).

Yeah, normally I am trying really hard in a new situation to be a bit more open minded and accommodating as everyone in a new class room scenario gets acquainted.  It’s how I was brought up. Be warm and welcoming as you can be or as comfortable as they’ll let you. No need to be pushy about it. right? I mean, we’re all going to be spending quite a bit of time talking about (whisper mode):

S-E-X.

 

Now they're having fun...

Now they’re having fun…

 

And for me, of course, that meant I was focusing on the man on man S-E-X.

Not so for most of the guys in that class. But here’s the rub: I got a little surprise from a guy in class – all tatted up with full sleeves and across the torso, up the neck to his jawline – complete leg ink work too. I didn’t think there was much of him that wasn’t covered in color. From his walk and demeanor he looked like he’d seen and experienced a helluva lot for his young years. He was decidedly young – except for the eyes. His eyes were weary already with a hard life. My heart sort of went out to him without realizing it.

He was the one I had commented before leading the straight male brigade in the classroom. A guy he buddied up with sat one aisle over from him in the next seat and they already started to form a bond. I always like watching two guys do that. Men can do this rather easily. We have to. That brotherhood thing is really something fierce. If we can find common ground and it clicks – it’s pretty fucking intense. I’ve written about this before, and there’s plenty scientific evidence to support this trait amongst males in general.

A part of me felt excluded but I came to realize I was the one doing the excluding. That became apparent when the professor broke us up into smaller groups and the two guys turned to me and asked if I wanted to be in their group. We gathered two other men and a single woman into our little discussion group.

While I won’t go into the details of what was revealed (because we had an agreement in class that we wouldn’t) what I will say is that these young people truly astounded me with their candor. I’d like to think I engendered some of that as I made it clear about my family life and how my parents raised me that whatever topic was at hand at the dinner table – we talked about it. No subject too sacred. I think these guys got that. They liked the camaraderie.

But here’s the rub, here’s where my tatted new found friend (at least I’d like him to be for the duration of the class) kicked me square in the teeth (mentally, that is). In the course of our conversation he relayed how he discovered what sex was about, the abrupt way it was foisted on him at a very young age. The neglect and abandonment he clearly felt to be thrown into that heady adult world well before his teen aged years and mind could wrap his head around it. As if that weren’t enough to lay bare what he’d gone through in those very early years, he expressed how something traumatic had happened to him that relates to the course work (something we’ll study later on) and how his mother, rather than being supportive at a time when her son probably desperately needed it – she laughed at him.

Fuck. Me. Running…

I couldn’t imagine that sort of response to a child (even if by this time he was 13). For fuck sake he’s still struggling at that age to sort shit out – laughing is not going to give him  what he needs to feel like he’s safe to sort it out. The pain from that moment was evident in his eyes.

 

Men of Colors...

Men of Colors…Men of Words

 

Gone was the impression I had of cockiness and swagger. I mean he could definitely put that essence out there. He had it in spades, but for that one moment, he laid it bare. The pain clearly there. Fuck me, that was courage, that was. I knew he’d done some time, even before he said it. I can usually tell those things. Incarceration does something to men that hardens them in a way that only serves to point out how fucked up our “rehabilitation” system is and how epically we’ve failed as a society to see to our own.

Yes, there are some truly bad seeds out there – chemically imbalanced from some sort of birth defect. But those are very, very rare. I think that a great deal of the men (and women) who have had to deal with that harsh aspect of life were put there by forces that were much bigger than themselves, and they were just trying to get along as best they knew how, and with what little support they had to do so.

But here, this young man, reset my every impression about him in those few brief moments. And in that he rose. He said everything very quietly, very intently, with focus. Laser like focus. He said he had a little boy on his way. He and his girlfriend (or wife – we never did clarify) were expecting. Those bright eyes focused and darkened a bit, and he said very pointedly that he was going to make sure he did right by his boy and that he’d never feel that way or that he would ensure that the boy would grow up know how to treat women right. Not make the mistakes that he himself had made (and clearly regretted).

Powerful. Potent. A part of me was humbled by his journey.

And let’s be clear – While I don’t have a single tattoo on my body, I admire those who do. These men of words and images. They fascinate me in ways that I can’t begin to describe. And it’s not the whole bad boy thing that used to accompany it. No, it’s more that they have the courage and fortitude to emblazon their thoughts and desires that are so deeply felt onto the fabric of their skin. They are emotively expressing what it means to be male in their lives with the single canvas they’ve been naturally gifted with – themselves. That’s bang on brilliant in my book. It’s not about the pain they endured to get inked up as much as my classmate did. It was that there was care or thought behind what they expressed and had etched into themselves. It’s a very beautiful thing.

 

Tatted beauty...

A Tatted beauty…

I’ve had it far easier than he. Sure I had trials and tribulations to deal with on my own path to bring me to that moment in that class, but nothing quite like the path that this young man had endured.

I am gonna write about a character like that at some point. It might be skewed to fit into the worlds I write, but he impressed me greatly. His courage and fortitude to rise above what life had handed him, this man of colors, emblazoned on his skin, was awesome. And it was decidedly male. As a writer, nothing is headier than that to me.

In addition to this whole thing, my teacher has asked for assistance from a technical sort of level, and given that is my area of expertise, I offered to assist. Hey, I got out of an exam for my troubles – so what the hell, right?

One problem, the survey is a series of open ended questions on sexual experiences. Now, given that most scientific oriented surveys are stipulated and built upon common answer questions (Gender: M/F –  that sort of thing), this one seems to present a problem that could skew (at best) the results or (at worst) be nearly impossible to draw any real tangible evidence with which to adequately report. So yeah, while I think the idea of gathering other’s experiences is rather a treasure trove of ideas to mine from, obviously I will keep my eye to the task and our original agreement of non-disclosure of specifics.

But all of this got me to thinking about sex – and in particular – sex of the M/M variety.

The best way to get messy - er, uh, clean...

The best way to get messy – er, uh, clean…

In my stories, the men have already moved past the am I gay or not. That quest, while each journey can be rather interesting doesn’t always inspire me to write. I’d much rather come from the standpoint of – They’re together (already) – so then what happens?

Of course there’s gonna have to be forces that conspire to draw them apart. We humans love our drama (even when it devolves into melodrama) – no one comes to a happy Opera, right? What would be the point? We respond to strife. We respond to rising above adversity.

And part of me is just tired of all the straight pairings going on. I want a much more queer world. Jeezus, I’d like it to be come so common place that the social construct would just become inured to it like most straight couplings. See people for being people rather than the sex they’re having, ya know, sex with.

 

All Inked up... hotter than fuck...

All Inked up… hotter than fuck…

 

But sadly, my new friend in class is not the only one to bear pain. Despite how much we’ve progressed – we still have instances like this:

[NOTE: This video exhibits extreme violence against a gay person by HIS PARENTS – it is as horrid as it is reprehensible. BE WARNED!]

A gofundme.com fund has been set up to support this unfortunate young man (Daniel) and he has responded to those generous and caring people. If it truly takes a village to raise a child, then this village rose up and met that challenge. Daniel’s response to what has happened to him from the greater global community follows the horrific exchange between him and his parents:

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Daniel's tearful and heartfelt response.

Daniel’s tearful and heartfelt response.

Please give what you can to this young man as he is truly alone at this point from what I can tell. Let him know that there are others in this world who will embrace him and give him the respect and love he deserves.

Gofundme.com account for Daniel

We must truly stamp out this abhorrent and reprehensible form of parenting and child rearing. If the village must rise to meet the challenge, then rise we must. I truly hope that Daniel (and so many others like him) find a helping hand in this world.

It is what has been burning within me – what has been pressing at my insides to help people like Daniel who are forced out of the only home they’ve known.

I truly want to find a way to contribute to that cause on a very personal level. I just feel this desire to let them know – I see you, I feel for you and I want to help.

While Daniel might be coming out of the worst part of his life over this, it won’t be the last time we hear of such a story.

It’s those poor souls I am terrified for. Those poor kids who don’t deserve what’s coming. It’s to them that I think about often.

I know it may sound cliche, that it might even sound trite, but if I won the lottery, I know I’d put a good chunk of it aside to do something about this. I’d want my legacy to be that I rose up and provided a path for others as unfortunate as Daniel.

For their sake, I’d like to think I’m up for the challenge.

Until next time…

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A Tightening of the Screw… [NSFW]

So it’s been a while. I’ve been busy writing. I found a publisher that really seems to get what I am about as a writer. I don’t know if I’ll rate. But it’s something I’ll definitely work toward.

There was just a small problem. My book was too big. I get it. It’s a business. At my age I don’t wander around in a daze of euphoric writers bliss thinking that anything I put down onto digital paper is golden. That I’ll be adored by the masses. I mean, I write MALE on MALE Gay Lit Fic wtih a heavy slant on the erotic element of the story. I mean, I am a gay man. I need to write what I know. It is my world. Been my world since the first guy I boned back when I was a teenager back before the heady days of HIV and AIDS. So I got an eye opener of a entrance into all things gay when being that way wasn’t talked about openly nor was it even evident on TV. Okay, we had Billy Crystal’s Jody Campbell on Soap. He played it brilliantly if a bit over the top fey. But that character was a product of its time. Gay men were supposed to be the laughed at. It was the only way we were palatable back then.

Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal as Jody Campbell in the 70’s classic ‘Soap’

Yet, that never was an answer for me. It wasn’t who I was. Whatever that was at the time (hey, I was barely out of my teens, how the fuck did I know what I was – other than being into men). Being into men was about all I knew about myself back then. This was the era of Jeff Stryker and his huge porn cock from hell  – even though there ere plenty of other men who had bigger cocks and could fuck a helluva lot better than he could. Chad Douglas, much? That man was my wet dream of a fuck back then. As a gay boy I wanted to bed that porn star more than any other. It never happened, except in my head and in my hand. From what I’d heard he isn’t around any more (I don’t know if that’s true or not) but if it is, then maybe it was for the best that I never did get my wish.

chaddouglasplow    chaddouglas

So why the ramble about fucking? Well, it sort of colors the men in my works. Sex is important to humans – whether or not they choose to admit it. Being a gay author I have a playground to probe, prod and work through the vagaries of being a gay man in this world. Even going so far that in my first work I am seeking to get published is harking back to my youth and the mental ramblings that went through my brain while I was caught up in the euphoria that some other boy was just as interested in an intimate and physical relationship with me as I was with him. That was pretty heady stuff back then. I am sure that gay boys float on air as they discover their first loves and how incredible the simple act of fucking can make your heart soar. Fucking is great. In fact, it’s fucking great.

So with the MC’s of my story – Angels of Mercy, I am having to recall those heady days. The work begins as a contemplative piece. And therein lies the rub, I suppose. Not that any publisher has had a real chance to look at it. It is a book about GAY men written BY a gay man. I know it’s a hard fact to face but I am surrounded by female authors who are writing characters of which most of the work seem to have little in common with the world I grew up in. The world I surround myself with others like me. Not to disparage those author’s works, but inwardly I liken it to writing about a black Jewish three legged lesbian. I have absolutely no reference for me to even begin to hope to have an honest work. Yes, I get the counter argument that human frailties are human and that we have that element in common, despite the variances in our worldly experiences. But you see, that is the one element that I find in the whole m/m romance segment of the business. It has VERY little to do with me as a gay man. Other than it’s men poking and fucking other men. And even in that, it’s polite. The men are not messy. They are not really piggy. There is no cum play, watersports, and even the S/M elements simply don’t even scratch the surface of what men feel or more importantly don’t feel as they experience those elements of gay culture.

 

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So when I heard about a publisher that wasn’t caught in the trap of the same old formula being reworked and reworked – with little hope of a singular voice to break out and really transform the genre, I decided to throw my hat in the ring. So I began to write. There might not be a publisher that will come within miles of it. Though I’ve had beta readers with positive, constructive commentary to assist in tightening it. But in that I have exclusively stuck to other gay men. It is this intrinsic truthiness (apologies to Mr. Colbert) that I am seeking. I am not writing for the audience that wants the formulaic shape shifter work. Nor am I writing for that singular vampire story that has been so overwrought that there is nothing really separating it from other work out there.

And I got it honestly. The three books that changed my life would prove prophetic in how I am writing today:

Gordon Merrick’s Charley and Peter series beginning with The Lord Won’t Mind (my views on M/M romance began here). John Rechy’s two masterworks – City of Night and The Sexual Outlaw. Three books that shaped my young gay boy world before I even put a toe out into that world.

LordWontMind cityofnightcover TheSexualOutloaw

These books color everything I do now. That isn’t to say that the works of Gore Vidal, EM Forester and Thomas Wolfe didn’t inspire. They most definitely did – and still do. Hell, TJ Klune is my go to right now. In fact, pretty much I am influenced by male authors because I find their voice speaks to my own. So along with TJ, Eric Arvin, Josh Lanyon, Jay Bell (a very personal fave) Ethan Day, Brent Hartinger, and Brad Vance, there are many others who’s works inspire. But those men I named give me something a bit more. I am deeply indebted to their creativity as it gives life to my own. That may make me sound gay militant. Maybe. But I don’t think so. As I said before, I am tired of translating other’s works into my own experiences. I can appreciate the work for itself, but it fails to completely inspire. Now give me a male protag struggling with his own gay maleness – and I’m all in.

With my work, Angels of Mercy, I wanted to do something really different. Different in that it has quite a bit of influence from my own experiences. My own sense of sexuality as  A MAN who desires and has sex with MEN. A point where my protag rails against his own mother knowing about his life as an out gay youth but he is adamant that she doesn’t understand fully what that means. She can translate it to a degree, but she’ll never know what that means for him. Elliot, my main character, is deeply in love with his boyfriend. The hottest jock on the varsity football team – Marco. I wanted to pose the question, what if the geeky artsy gay kid got the hot jock – what then? For a geeky gay kid who was used to the shadows, what would happen if he was dating (on the DL, that is) the highest profile boy on campus? How would it work? How would it fail? And what would be going through his head throughout it all. And I wanted, for once, for the Jock to be the solid one, the unquestioning one in the relationship.

 

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But there again lies the rub. It’s contemplative. It’s introspective. Elliot’s a bit of a mess. Being a out gay kid in a small town (even in Northern California) can do a number even on the strongest psyche. Elliot can’t believe his good fortune when during a completely uneventful summer Marco, the hottest guy in town, not only comes in to his family run DQ, but he tells Elliot he’s been in love with him for the past two years and he can’t hold out any longer. It turns Elliot’s whole world upside down. They have the summer to discover all things about themselves as a couple head over heels in love before the oppressive monster that is high school descends and nearly drowns them in the process. Do they go back to their separate worlds? Do they seek out a way to be openly together? Very tough calls for two gay boys deeply in love. And they are. Deeply. Profoundly. At eighteen they’ve found their soul mate. But what if the world around you didn’t see it that way – what would they do to be together?

So the screws on my characters tighten. The story goes dark – very, very dark. Matthew Shepard with a little Hannibal Lecter dark before the boys will see any light. So the work is deceptive. It begins introspectively in Elliot’s head and heart. It’s messy. It’s erotic, it’s raunchy as only two gay boys could be. Then it all implodes pushing hard to separate my lovers until they’re able to find a way out and back into each others arms again.

I had a discussion with a published author of some renown in the m/m romance field. When I explained the work, she said that my boys could come off as being a bit pervy. My immediate reaction (though I withheld it from her) was ‘gee, do you know any gay boys and what they get into?’ I get that it’s romance, but honey, if it is men on men – you better believe it will be HELLA PERVY by those terms. Men thrive on messy, pervy fun when we’re together. Even our straight boy counterparts bear that out. Ever watch them on an ATC out in the dessert? Thrashing around in the mud? Men love their messes. It’s what makes us happy. I’ve ranted about this before but I truly think I need to defend my boys in Angels. If they are anything, they are honest. Honest in that they are as close to my own experiences in growing up gay. Honest in that they are equal parts raunch as they are euphoric in their love for one another. But most of all they are definitely male. No chicks with dicks in my books.

 

 

NO APOLOGIES…

 

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