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Renee Stevens

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It's the first Wednesday of the month again (can you believe it's already September?!) which means that it's time for our monthly Ask An Author feature. A big thank you to Dark for their continued contribution to the blog with one of our most popular features. Don't forget, if you have a question you'd like Dark to cover, send a PM!

 


Ask an Author #42

 


Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors!

 

In AtA #41, we had questions for authors Headstall, Mikiesboy, Sammy Blue, and Sasha Distan.

 

In AtA #42 we hear from authors Andrew Q Gordon, Nephylim, skinnydragon, and W_L.

 

It’s funny how time flies. Like, I remember when Classic Author Andrew Q Gordon went by something that started with a Q that was hard to pronounce. Back then he hadn’t yet made an honest man of his husband, he was working all the time, and Andy was begging everyone to read Second Shot. Next thing you know, Second Shot is climbing the charts as one of the most-read, most-liked, most-reviewed story on GA, Lil’ Q makes an appearance, there’s publishing demands, a wedding, and a new name to go with that shiny new “Classic” Author mantle. Where have the last five years gone? Did you know that AQG has a website? Visit and you can get one of his published stories for free. Personally, I’d like to see another collaboration between Andy and Anyta. But I’m also looking forward to the new book, due out in the beginning of 2017. It’s called “When Heroes Fall” and the plot is still hush-hush. You’ll have to stalk Andy at RomCom or through his blog to learn more. ;)

 

To Andrew Q Gordon: I notice that you edit for Riley Jericho, for his story 'An English Teen, Circumcised in the USA'. He's English, you're American...how's that all working out, and do you enjoy editing other writers?

 


First let me say that Riley is an amazing person. He definitely makes my "List of people you'd like to meet." The English/British thing isn't a problem, in fact I think that is where I provide some of my value to Riley. Because English Teen (ET) is written from a few different Points of View, he and I go back and forth on word choice. For the most part, when we're in one of the Summers' 'heads' i.e. Luke, Simon, Lucy or Geoff - I leave his British usage, but if we're in an American's head - Ryan for instance - I try to change things to an American usage. There are exceptions. Sometimes Luke is thinking about something at school - say the Gymnasium or an assembly and for those things because the school uses a specific word for it, I try to steer him to an American usage because that's more likely what Luke would think, not the British word.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond those types of things, I've tried to give Riley some tips I've learned from my editors with Dreamspinner Press. One thing about Riley, he doesn't have an ego and is very receptive to suggestions and help. If you love the story and think he's awesome, you're correct on both counts. I can point to times he and I have had a discussion about some point or another and then the following chapters he applies it. That's really very cool to see. The trick for me is to not take away his voice. He and I have a running joke about something he does that kinda drives me nuts, BUT it's his voice and I try not to interfere except in those instances where it's needed. (And I shouldn't muck with that because his voice is most likely one of the things people love about his story.) Riley's really great at taking advice and he's good at standing pat when he feels he needs to. I really enjoy working with him and being able to see the story before most others. Like I said, he's on my bucket list of people to meet for a reason. Now if I could convince him to try his hand at publishing something. A task for another time I suppose.

 

 

 

 

 

As for editing for people in general, I shy away from it for the most part. I like helping people grow as a writer they way others have helped me, but I'm probably a poor teacher. I'm not good at sugar coating things or making them nicey nice. I warned Riley at the start I'm direct and to the point (blunt, bordering on rude I suppose) at times. I've apologized in advance if I do it, and I wish I didn't. I think of us as friends, and I don't want to hurt his feelings. (Sorry if I have Riley, but you know I don't mean to do that.) So, to answer the "do I enjoy it" part of your question; yes I do. Very much, but I'm not for everyone. In fact I'm probably hard to work with, which is why I tend to avoid editing too much. It helps me avoid making enemies.

 

 

 


Another oldtimer (to this blog and to GA) is vampire, fallen angel, and Author Nephylim. At one time, Nephy was a Promising Author and then Signature Author (back then we called them “Hosted” Authors). Like myself and Andy, real life has taken Nephy away from GA more than she might wish. With GA since 2009, Nephy has posted some 50 different stories and poems. She has been an inspiration to many, including myself, and it’s been said by many that she’s as nice in person as she is to chat with online. There were a few meet-ups for those GA authors living or willing to travel in Europe, and Nephylim was one of them, traveling at least twice from her home in Wales. She may not be as active on the site anymore, but we still get her stories! :D She finished posting her latest, My Brother Daniel, just this past summer, and that was quite the ordeal, from the sound of it. Like many of her stories, Daniel, Sara, and Rayn help us readers learn and deal with some tough topics that are not for everyone, but this classy lady makes all the drama and heart-ache worthwhile.

 

To Nephylim: In your story "Boy Called Slave", how did you bring yourself to write about some of the really dark and serious aspects of the story without impacting yourself emotionally? You create characters that readers instantly connect with, so I'm curious about how you shut off those feelings.

 


The truth is, I don't. I'm totally invested in my characters and I laugh and cry with them. I'm often to be found sobbing all over my laptop. I have also cried on a train, at a bus stop, in a legal lecture - all over the place. Wherever I write. I find it cathartic rather than depressing, though. My writing is a therapy and when I'm totally stressed or upset or angry, I sit at my keyboard and torture characters. It's my stress-buster.

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps I have a twisted mind, but I find it difficult to write sweet and fluffy without dark and deadly lurking in the background. I recently wrote a book I tried very hard to keep light, and I even wrote a lot of myself into it. I used my own beliefs and experiences and built some very strong characters - only to have one of them jump off a cliff (well not jump exactly). I feel at times as if I have no control over what the characters do.

 

 

 

 

 

The way I write is strictly pantser. The characters and story carry me and I often have no idea where a story is going until I write it. When the characters/story take a turn for the worse I follow and hold on for grim life, with a box of tissues, coffee and chocolate to hand.

 

 

 


Please welcome Author SkinnyDragon to the blog! This young Canadian has been with GA a couple years now and enjoys the “fine” things in life. Currently, he’s off sailing in the shivery-cold waters of stormy Maine. I hope he comes back alive and in one piece! :o And not blue! :P But I suppose he is from Ontario…. Something you may not know about Skinny is his skill with the dead language of Latin. I wonder what he makes of the Monty Python monks with their Latin chants just before they smack themselves in the face with a board? Anyway, this guy has recently posted the final chapter to 18 Weeks of Twoey, his first full-length story here on GA. You might have also seen his collection of poetry and flash-fiction, not to mention the prompt responses. For a self-proclaimed non-author and non-poet, I’d say Skinny isn’t doing too bad! Twoey has received over 800 reviews, so Skinny’s definitely doing something right! And don’t let the 122 chapters intimidate you; it’s not a conventional story, but a real gem nonetheless. Don’t believe me, see what some others had to say: “The balance between serious and humourous is perfect, IMO, and all the characters and their interaction is well done too,” and “Loved this chapter, SD. Here is a blockbuster surprise. All kinds of bets just got wiped off the table,” and “You’ve done it again, Skinny! An amazing chapter. I truly felt David’s anguish and helplessness as he began figuring more things out….”

 

To SkinnyDragon: What inspired you to create David in 18 Weeks of Twoey? Was it someone you knew, or was it a situation you encountered?

 


Actually, it was a little of both. I encountered the two boys who would become David and Twoey, or I should say they befriended us, because they correctly guessed we were a couple. The eager young boys had lots of questions for us. The real David had some of the same religion/not-gay issues as the fictional character, but dealt with them in a more off-handed and lighter manner. The brooding and psychologically dark aspect was purely my own invention for the story which subsequently spun from my mind. They were our uninvited beach companions for nearly two weeks during which time I filled a composition book with snippets of overheard conversations. Some of their comments were so hilariously startling they made it into the story, virtually unchanged. I invented neither PPF nor Dannyspeak.

 

 

 


Author W_L wraps things up for the blog today. This guy’s been here with GA since 2008 and his title is now amusingly “GA's Electrifying Mouse Writer.” From Boston, Massachusetts, USA, W_L faced the tragic death of his computer in August, which kept us from enjoying his sarcastic wit in the forums for a time. He’s also a fan of odd music (and, yes, I, too mourn Yellowcard) and politics and is currently single, so snap him up while you still can! :D While many of us remember with pleasure W_L’s writing spree in 2013, the 2015-2016 year has seen the completion of 0s and 1s, a mystery and thriller and young adult novel all rolled up into one. It’s a tragically under-read story, touching on more than one theme in America’s tumultuous present. The boys give powerful life to this intriguing tale which, like many a Disney movie, begins with death and ends with a sequel. Here’s to seeing what Hunter gets up to in Book 2!

 

To W_L: Your story 0's and 1's deals with technology at a very high level of understanding, and also with cyberbullying and youth trauma. Were these things that you already had prior knowledge or experience with, or was most of the information in the story based on research you had done as an adult writer??

 


Being a gay youth was hard, but being a disabled one eyed gay youth is even harder. I was always slightly more tech savvy than my peers, not just because I was smart, but I needed the technology to support me. I learned how to use short keys at age 8, touch typing (Basically I memorized the entire keyboard and learned Braille) at age 10, and I was playing around with programming at age 12. Despite all my triumphs over adversity, I was bullied by other kids, who knew I was different even without knowing I was gay. In high school, I knew a kid who was bullied so much that he committed suicide for being gay, which I let happen and am ashamed to have joined in bullying him on one occasion just to feel less alienated due to my own limits. I am no ones hero, but I hope to inspire the heroes of tomorrow to rise above this crap and be better.

 

 

 


That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat!

 

See you next time, with authors Mann Ramblings, mikiesboy, Riley Jericho, and WolfM.

 

I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark).

 

Until next time!
Dark

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Outstanding! But that's nothing new. The insights are a wonderful way to round out the authors.

 

Andy's discussion of his editing process was fascinated. I have been lucky enough to have help with my stories from wonderful editors and the relationships with them are something I treasure.

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Once again, completely fascinating. I so love this feature for the insights we gain into our fellow authors. I particularly enjoyed hearing Andrew talk about editing. I have a wonderful editor I rely on, and I edit for some amazing people. The editing process allows for great friendships to develop despite the challenges it presents. Fortunately, mine. like Andrew's, are very open to my suggestions, so it gives each party the opportunity to learn. I know I've benefited greatly from the process of editing and being edited. Further, I would recommend that every writer seek out their own editor. You may think you don't need one, but....

I have always been a huge fan of Nephy. It was so revealing to hear she writes by the seat of her pants. I understood her investment in her characters... it shows in her fantastic writing... and I also get the tears over the keyboard and the need for plenty of tissues. Good stuff!

Skinny is one of the nicest people on this site. I enjoy his comments and reviews and his overall support. When the time is right, his epic story is on my bucket list. I always like when I hear there are real people behind a writer's characters. Much respect for my fellow Ontarian.

Kudos to the honesty from W_L ... I always read his commentary, and it isn't hard to figure out how well-versed and intelligent he is. He is a very thought-provoking man, and someone I could see myself having great conversations with.

This feature, on the whole, is a treasure, Dark... thank you and cheers... Gary....

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All interesting to read!  Like to get a bit of insight into people. One of my fav features on GA.. 

 

thanks

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Interesting that Skinny released a chapter of "Toph" in which he reveals that two boys he and his partner met on vacation inspired a story similar to "Twoey".  :P

I was thinking the same thing, Dayne!! :P I didn't realize the scene in "Toph" was based on a true event.

 

I will say that Skinny is one of my favorite writers on GA. I absolutely LOVE his Twoey story (I say 'love' and not 'loved' because naturally I haven't finished it yet! :lol:), and I'm totally enjoying Toph's Empty Year also.

 

Second Shot was one of the first stories I read when I joined GA, and it was captivating. That was also the first time I ever heard of 'Missed Connections'. :P And thanks, Andy, for mentioning Ryan -- you made me cry all over again!!! :(

 

I haven't read anything from W_L, so I'll have to put his story on my To Read List. :)

 

These were awesome questions and answers, Dark! :) Thank you for this wonderful blog!

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Sorry I missed my premier appearance here.

 

Thanks for the kind words and all the support authors receive on GA!

 

And thanks, Dark!

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