By Thorn Wilde
Looking for a beta for a new novella (or possibly novel, not sure yet). I've actually posted a story about these characters before, as part of the 2015 Secret Santa. It's called Twenty-Three Days of Advent.
This story will be a longer work about how Lance and Keenan met, how their relationship began, and so on. And there will be lots and lots of sex, obviously, including multiple kinks, some less conventional than others. I'm looking for someone who's openminded and not squeamish to beta read the chapters before publishing, with focus on plot, dialogue, and characterisation.
The idea for this story began back in the early days of 50 Shades-mania. That franchise appeared on my radar when people from the BDSM community criticised it for creating a harmful picture of what BDSM is, for failing to be safe, sane and consensual, and so on. So I thought, wouldn't it be fun to write a story with a similar dynamic (boss/subordinate), but where the relationship isn't the toxic mess found in that particular far too popular work of "literature"? And also gay, obviously.
Working title: Mr. Grahame Will See You Now
Length: 15k words so far, will likely be a chaptered novella
Summary: After leaving Her Majesty's Armed Forces, Keenan finds himself with little to fall back on. On a whim, he applies for a position as personal assistant to Lance Grahame, managing director of Red Ink Publishing. Keenan didn't expect himself to be so drawn to his new boss, and much less for his feelings to be returned, and he soon finds himself involved in a sexual relationship that is everything but conventional.
By Renee Stevens
One year ago, the thirteen stories written for the Secret Admirer Contest posted in time for Valentine’s Day. Like the regular GA Anthologies, the contest let authors try their hand at short stories within a common theme. But in this case readers could vote for the story they liked best - all without knowing who the author was.
After the contest there was a guessing game about who wrote each story. Half the stories were so well disguised no one was able to pinpoint the author. Three stories were distinct enough that the authors (Cole, AC Benus and Thorn Wilde) were recognized by four people each. Perhaps the reviews below will give you the answer why.
The Valentine's Day stories were very different; some made readers cry and others made them laugh. The genres ranged from Romance (naturally) over Drama to Mystery and even Historical. Why not explore or revisit the stories as a prelude to this year’s holiday? There is something for every taste whether you feel happy or sad. Don’t forget to leave a like and comment for the authors so they know how you felt about their stories and as an incentive to keep writing.
If you're not sure where to start, the reviews below may inspire you to choose a story.
Valentine’s Day 2016
Secret Admirer Contest
Reviewer: Timothy M.
Word count: 3,961
Of all the wonderful Secret Admirer Contest stories last year, this one was probably the most light-hearted and fun. Did you know Cupids have arrows of different colors depending on the situation? Or that missing a shot can have dire consequences, not only for the humans involved, but also the hapless Cupid who bungled the job. The management at Cupid Central assigns punishment for tardiness as well as sloppy jobs, but also rewards good work. If you want to know how, you’ll need to read the story.
I was chuckling most of the time, and I’ve asked Aditus to lend me a couple of his angels to help out in my A.I. story. But most of all, I hope we’ll get more Cupid Central stories, because the concept is delightful, the dialogue is funny, and the characters are vividly portrayed.
Word Count: 3,332
This is the story of Adam and Glenn, ‘the dynamic duo, in love and in charge for more than forty years, always having each other’s back.’
They share a life of genuine affection and care: from the beginning, when it took great courage to be together as gay men, to overcoming a severe loss, raising their son and having a grandchild. Now that old age has finally caught up with them and joints are stiff, and hips hurt, Glenn fears Adam is slowly losing his sanity. Why else would he talk to people who aren’t there or suddenly drag Jager, the old rocking horse Glenn’s grandparents gave him when he was a kid, from the garage into the house?
They are only ‘two old queens on their last leg in the journey of life. No one is there. They only have each other.’ Right? So, what is Adam doing?
If I had to associate one word with Jager, it would be trust─trust to follow through with the words they might have had promised to each other in the past: to have and to hold/from this day forward/for better, for worse/for richer, for poorer/in sickness and in health/to love and to cherish/till death do us part.
Jager won first place in the Secret Admirer Contest for a reason. Make sure you have tissues ready. And then there is this brilliant twist Cole invented, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out what it is.
Word Count: 7,169
Valentine’s Day usually makes you think of love, sweets, and romantic nights… but Puppilull’s story, Lupercalia, is set in the most unlikely of places for this: a prison. An ancient prison in Rome, actually. The story revolves around a tortured prisoner sentenced to die by the emperor in the annual Lupercalia celebrations. Varius is warned about him, but he can’t see why the prisoner might be a danger to him or any of the other guards.
But as the days leading up to the Lupercalia pass by, Varius finds out more about him, and his reason for being imprisoned, than he likes to know about those condemned to die. Varius questions the dictates of his life and the strictures put upon him as a soldier of the Roman empire, and it’s nearly impossible to accept the prisoner's fate, even though he remains steadfast in the convictions that led to his death sentence. Love and compassion should never be forbidden.
Their tragic romance might be doomed, but don’t let that keep you from reading Puppilull’s tribute to love in all its bittersweet glory. There’s always a chance… if you’re brave enough to face the potential pain in pursuit of love.
Making Sense of Secret Gifts
Word Count: 12,488
Timothy M’s submission to the Secret Admirer contest was a story about a very private man, named Colin, who starts receiving some very public attention, in the form of gifts left on his desk by a secret admirer. The gifts are thoughtful, and some, such as a carving of his cat, give the impression the benefactor knows Colin fairly well.
Colin is a caring, if lonely, man who has been hurt in his past. In order to alleviate some of his loneliness he gives up his weekends to volunteer in a group home. Colin’s partner in crime is Sol, his sneaky cat, who can coax a smile out of the most sullen teenager. The more I read about Colin the more fiercely I found myself hoping he would find someone to care about him as much as he cares for others.
This sweet, but introverted man is unsure of what to make of the mysterious packages. A part of him is flattered someone would put so much thought and effort into these gifts, but his discomfort is almost palpable when he starts to become the center of attention in the office. It takes him a great deal of courage to leave a message for his admirer, and ultimately decide to meet him/her in person.
I’m not going to give away the identity of the secret admirer because it would spoil the fun of reading the story, and trying to puzzle out the mystery for yourself. All I can tell you is you will be more than satisfied with the answer.
Word Count: 4,664
So it’s that time of year again. Hearts everywhere and everyone acting so lovey-dovey it’s making the air turn pink. Or red. But what if your reality doesn’t fit in? What if your life has taken a completely unforeseen turn, leaving you feeling disappointed, lonely and perhaps even despairing?
A story of a Secret Admirer that deals with these less written about sides to this thing we call love can be such a relief. If that story is friggin’ well written as well, things are looking up. Thorn Wilde has provided us with a story of Mike who is fighting an uneven battle to get over the boyfriend who dumped him. When that infamous date rolls around, he finds the sadness flares up and seeks ways to deal with it. One remedy turns out to be the one to lead him on his way. But where will it take him?
This is a truly bittersweet story telling us life isn’t always a bed of roses. I think it’s important to not lose sight of that. It’s actually somehow comforting to know bad stuff will happen, but you will be OK. A bit scarred perhaps, but OK.
Reviewer: Timothy M.
Word count: 9,480
Writing a Valentine’s Day story filled with sadness, loss, longing and even anger, and naming it Sunshine, is the kind of chutzpah few people can get away with. But AC Benus has the unique ability to pluck at our heartstrings and fill our guts with dread, holding the story on the precipice of anticipation, yet letting us hope for a miracle.
Will the two characters make the right choice? Will their innate goodness break through like a ray of sunshine? Will it become a Valentine’s Day to remember for the triumph of love and kindness or for the loss of innocence and trust? Go read the story, and afterwards go hug someone you care about and tell them they matter.
The Cupid Complex
Word Count: 5,127
In this little treat from last year’s Secret Admirer Contest, Valkyrie takes us through one year in the life of Gabriel as he searches for that special someone. He doesn't always have the best of luck in his search, but he is a romantic at heart with a penchant for holiday decorating.
A Valentine’s Day misstep leads to a humiliating situation, and some accompanying depression that he battles throughout his journey for the relationship his heart desires. Dealing with obvious hurt, Gabriel plays the “hook-up” game, hesitant to really put himself out there. As the year progresses, some new friendships are forged, but everything in relationship territory remains starkly “casual.”
Yet, as the next Valentine’s Day approaches, Gabriel discovers gifts and notes being left on his doorstep. Whose admiration has Gabriel drawn? Will Cupid’s arrow strike after all?
This was the kind of story that left me smiling in one instant, and frowning and frustrated the next. Valkyrie packs quite a lot into such a short tale. I found myself feeling Gabriel’s sorrow and rooting for him to finally be with someone he truly deserves. Join Gabriel through this fun little tale, as he realizes life is full of surprises, which are often much closer than we think.
The Lady in the Flames
Word Count: 7,711
Imagine driving past the scene of a car accident and noticing one of the drivers slumped over the steering wheel. What would you do? There was already rubbernecking on the road, so you know someone must have called 911. Would you just drive on by, assuming the driver would be taken care of? Or would you stop and try to get him out of the car? What if you had the day off from work because you lied and told your boss you were home sick? What if, by helping this person, you were ‘found out’ and you were fired because you lied to your boss about being sick?
Our protagonist James has a lot on his mind as he ponders these questions. Of course being morally sound, he saves the driver’s life and pulls him out of the car before the big chunk of metal explodes into a ball of flames. On the news, the flames in the background make him look like a woman, so he thinks he’s pretty much off the hook of being found out.
I found this fast-paced story captivating, and I was riveted from the first line. It didn’t hurt that the characters were very relatable also. What I liked best about it, however, were the beautiful words jfalcon used toward the end of the story to describe a moment of passion.
I would highly recommend reading The Lady in the Flames if you haven’t already, and if you have, why not pick it up again and enjoy it a second time around?
These are by no means all of the stories from the Secret Admirer Contest; there are more wonderful stories for you to take a look at. You can read all of the Secret Admirer Contest stories here.
And don't forget the upcoming April Fool's Day Short Story Contest. You still have time to submit a story. Entry deadline is March 1st, 2017.
Krista is currently publishing a story call The Best Year, if you're interested in reading it, you can read it here.
I thought I might as well start a real time discussion forum if you feel inclined to comment on the story.
Being that I look over the chapters ahead of time, I will be limited to what I can say as I don't want to be the spoiler person. But I do like when people try to guess what is going to happen from what has happened. I can guarantee that I'm doing it right now.
Right now I am actually no further ahead than any of you in reading, and there is something that is frustrating the hell out of me. Krista in her coyness is not being forthright and leaving it up to all of us to figure it out on our own.
Here is the question; Is this a gay story? It has the makings of a gay story, but has she really indicated that Luke or Jackson are gay? So far there hasn't been anything 'gay' in the story that I've seen, but have you seen something in it that I missed? I'm sure it is a gay story in the fact that Krista is publishing it here, but lets say it is, who do you think is gay? Luke? Jackson? Both, neither, different category/label?
Curious what everyone else thinks
I also feel this is some of Krista's best writing. I too am looking for more
By AC Benus
It's one of those things. I really can't explain it, but I do dream about a particular department store quite frequently.
When I was six years old, my 1st grade teacher took our entire class on a holiday fieldtrip. We toured the big downtown stores, and were told to keep a tight grasp on each other's hands as we went along. At one, after huddling our cold noses against the plate glass to see the display windows, we went into the warmth. Massive chrome escalators – taller than me! – carried us up into the clouds, while our teacher pointed down to the floor. There, arrows were built right into the terrazzo to guide our way up to the next level, and Christmas was all around as we followed that magic path to ascended ever higher into the massive store – we were there to visit Toyland on the 8th floor, and Santaland on the 9th. That Christmas wonder seeped into my bones that day. It was in the smells, the music, the decorations, and most especially, it was keenly written on the happy faces of shopper and Famous-Barr staff alike.
It's been brewing in my heart and soul for many years now, but I want to write a series of stories in praise of Christmas in that place, and over a number of years. I plan on writing 6 short stories, and 2 novellas, each covering a different Christmas season for years ranging from 1880 to 2006, and naturally, all centered on the downtown store of Famous-Barr.
The first two installments are ready for this holiday season, and I thought I would offer a preview. So, without further ado, here is an excerpt from Katie's Sketchbook, Christmas at Famous-Barr 1976.
Please let me know your thoughts.
Katie's Sketchbook Preview:
Part 2 – A Cast of Visitors
Scene Two: "How do you do?"
It was the end of their long day in the park; Katie ran into the house and left the door open.
While Sloan was coming in, he heard her father's voice: "No running in the house" and "Get washed and changed – we're going out for dinner."
As Sloan closed the door, Richardson appeared at the wide opening leading into the living room. Sloan went right up and started kissing.
Richardson did not resist, but Sloan paused, as Richardson also did not engage.
The younger man opened his eyes. Richardson's peepers were shining emeralds, but a bemused smirk played about the right corner of his mouth. "And what did I do to deserve that?" the older man inquired.
"Nothing – like usual. We haven't seen each other since before Thanksgiving…and – and maybe I missed you."
Sloan's response was to draw Richardson back into a bear hug. Movement from within the living room caught his eye just as Richardson sheepishly informed him "We have a guest."
A six-foot-two-inch-tall woman advanced with an extended smile and hand. "How do you do? I'm Julia Child."
The young man from Ohio weakly attempted to shake her hand while still latched onto Richardson. Mouth partially agape – until he swallowed the lump in his throat – Sloan finally managed to stand at Richardson's side and respond. "You most certainly are – "
She interrupted with a friendly head-toss. "Now, don’t pay any attention to me whatsoever, boys. It seems you were in the middle of a most charming welcome home."
Now, both 'boys' blushed. Sloan glanced to his side, thinking how Richardson had failed to mention exactly which celebrity he was shepherding around town.
Katie came bounding in. "Hi! You're The French Chef, aren’t you?"
"Yes, I suppose I am. You've seen me on TV, have you?"
"Oh, yes! My dad said you were coming to town, and he watches you all the time – he's a good cook too, you know."
Ms. Child raised her attention from the girl onto Richardson. "I'm sure he is. We've spent a good portion of our time together discussing food."
Katie's enthusiasm began animating her whole body with heel-to-toe rocking. "You should have my dad make his famous Mississippi Mud Pie for you. Do you like chocolate?"
"I do, and that very sounds nice."
Richardson grew rigid next to Sloan's side, and interjected. "Katie, I could never presume to cook for Julia Child."
The French Chef, unflapped, but bending down to Katie's level, told the girl, "Thank you for the reference, young lady. I may have to insist that he make it…" Her eyes drifted up to Richardson "Because I always follow local culinary recommendations."
Richardson turned all-shades, and Sloan just wanted to laugh.
Instead he said, "Well, I too can vouch for Richardson's amazing skills in the kitchen."
Julia smiled. "And can you cook as well?"
"Nope. But I am an expert eater."
Ms. Child laughed, and placed her hand warmly on his forearm. "Dear boy, you sound precisely like my husband. Paul praises my cooking skills, and can even enjoy my failures."
Sloan's face took on some color. "I didn't mean to suggest…Richardson…never 'fails' at food, at least not for me."
The smile on Julia's face made Sloan believe he had just touched the woman in some way, but he was not sure how.
(to be continued in October...)
So I'm also working on this story that smashes Silent Hill with some gay drama. I have a general inkling of how it will go but I need people to proofread it just in case because I want to give that sense of dread. I know horror's hard to pull off but I hope you guys can help me out. I was hoping to complete this before October, quite honestly.
I hope the turn around can be at most a week. An ASAP turn around is very welcome.
Never worked with a beta before, so I'm forced to check grammar myself most of the time. You can at least feel safe that I'll have generally good grammar. )
I generally need someone to help me analyze plot and scenes. I've yet to write some of the other scenes but the outline is there: the beginning and the endgame. Help and suggestions with scenes and dialogue would be welcome. As of now, I'm on Chapter 7 (around 2000-4000 words per chapter), but that's without an editor/beta-reader so I'm not to keen on posting all of it yet.
I use LibreOffice and Notepad++ most of the time, file type DOC and TXT.
Inline edits and comments are welcome. Just let me know what was edited.
My story's first chapter and prologue are already up. Let me know if you'd rather have a spoiler snippet here. I'll edit it in.
Click here for a look at the story.