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Blog Entries posted by Dabeagle

  1. Dabeagle

    Character Building
    I find characters fascinating. If the story isn't that great, sometimes a neat character can really lift the whole thing up - or sometimes poor characters can drag down a neat story idea. When I write I can spend weeks thinking of the story and how a character may react in a given circumstance - sometimes coming up with scenes that would be very deep into the story and then having to write all the supporting scenes to get to that point.
    Character building can be done tons of ways, but I usually start off one of two ways - either an image that I work from or I have no idea and build personality first. If I use an image my approach is normally that they are the love interest and so I will write from that direction - building on the image in the main characters mind because I think most folks start with the packaging - the outside - and then discover the product underneath. That's not to say there aren't other methods - meeting online such as in a virtual environment allows us to meet people by personality and the sound of their voice before we see their outside, as a for instance.  If I choose to start writing without a firm idea of appearance it usually begins with an inciting incident - but I find it kind of funny that if I do so, I generally struggle early because I don't even have names for the characters.
    Over the course of a story or a series my characters will grow from a couple of different potentials: one is outside influences. This mostly happens during story development - I'll read or watch something and imagine how I'd do it differently. One example of that is the Tull Unification. I read a story - actually two by the same authors - and while enjoying the initial concepts, found places where I'd have made hard right turns on the choices the authors made. Will Tull the initial concept was of one of the primary characters dying, which can be a tough story two balance between the reality of death and not being maudlin so as to disengage the reader. The 'gimmick' here was the use of the band songs that ended up tying all the differing viewpoints together, but also because I chose not to extend the character dying very long. We meet Charlie Hampton, and in  short order we lose him. By doing this we get an impression for who he is, but not a complete one so the reader is left with the impression, and it gives me a chance to alter that impression down the road.
    I think character building also includes character development. As a story progresses the character changes - not the basics of their personality, but perhaps they learn new things and adjust accordingly or situations change that make them reconsider or grow on a position or accepted set of behaviors. To me this can be a tricky area because the reader has grown used to the character, perhaps relates at that point and then things change. I read one story, by the unnamed authors above, whereby the reader was brought into a different characters POV and there was a scene that not only didn't seem to advance the story, but was decidedly uncomfortable to read (for me and some others, not to say it's a universal). The thing is reading is a subjective experience so when a character changes or grows, the reader may not approve. I used to not think about this very often, but I admit it affects my decision-making to a point now.
    One example would be that while writing the story arc in Sanitaria Springs with @Cynus, we developed the characters of Logan, Seth and Grayson. Cynus and I spent a lot - and I mean a ton - of time talking to each other and planning our characters to be consistent with who they are, honoring their motivations and allowing them to be breathing, living characters. The result of that was that, for a time, the three formed a 'thruple', or all three were dating each other at the same time - a form of a poly relationship. I can clearly recall a reader asking us both if this was a poly relationship, and then letting us know they'd no longer be reading. I understand. There are bright lines for every reader of discomfort or personal experience or (insert reason) that they won't read certain things. However as a writer it's a little frustrating because the characters have to grow as they would, not how I think life should be. Through the natural course of their development they tried the three-person relationship and it eventually failed. I think it was a valuable thing to have seen people make an honest effort to have the relationship they think works besot for them, and they continue to learn and grow whether it fails or succeeds.
    Another example would be a story that, at the time of this blog, is currently posting - Bloom. This story was influenced from many, many directions including a primary character in @Mrsgnomie's story, Three Strikes. The main character was developed over the course of several conversations with a young man who is very active in social media and he explained his motivations with various platforms and how people he knows of his own age group view his efforts. I found it very interesting, though I think many people would find it to be something of a generational or moral gap due to differing opinions and sets of morals. It was one reason I found my main character so interesting to write because his opinions weren't necessarily my own - though I feel more enlightened after having gone on his journey.
    My characters have allowed forays into the tried-and-true boy-meets-boy, but also boy-meets-boy-meets-boy. I once had couple + couple. One guy - okay more than one - has a thing for legs. One kind of has a thing for feet. Some like blonds while others find cinnamon colored skin attractive; some are dying to have sex and others just want a solid cuddle. Of the hundreds of characters I've written, the challenge sometimes is to make them stand out on their own. Sometimes it's hair color - like Caleb Montgomery's golden-red - or sometimes it's because the relationship isn't standard or because their boyfriend is a Nephilim (angel/human hybrid).
    Good characters can take us to strange, uncomfortable, scary, fun, sexy, heartfelt places all from the safety of our screens. Through these unique characters we get the chance to look through keyholes into a new experience. Thank you to the readers who are indulging my forays into the different ways people relate and fall in love.
  2. Dabeagle

    Readers are a wide-ranging bunch and enjoy tons of different content. Some will read certain genres far more than any other - romance, sci-fi or only want happy ending stories. As a writer I can't possibly fit into all categories, nor should I. Rather than write something I wouldn't enjoy as a reader, I tend to write the strange things that flit across my consciousness and just hope someone else enjoys them too - that's the easy way. Then there's the complicated way, but to get to that I think I have to understand myself as a reader as well.
    As a reader I enjoy several genres, several styles and there are also a few I don't care for. Like I hate the way a story - or a TV episode - opens with a situation, then backtracks 48 or 72 hours or whatever to tell you how we reached this situation. I don't exactly know why, but I don't enjoy that form of storytelling. But I can get through stories that aren't totally my cup of tea as long as the  grammar and spelling are good. I find misspellings and poor grammar (to, two, too for instance) to be distractions as I read. With the shift to so many articles being put online, it's frustrating to me to see news articles with misspellings that make me wonder 'if they cant spell it, can they report on it?'
    That leads me back to being a writer. I have heard many readers state that they aren't bothered by these things when they read - which is, of course, fine. I'm not them and I don't decide what's important for someone else in their reading material or their life (My kids tell me all the time 🙂 ) But here's the thing. As a writer I need to cast my net as widely as I can. If I write something sci-fi or a romance or a comedy, some people are going to give it a chance. Some folks won't care if they find a typo or horrendous grammar because I posted the unedited version rather than the clean copy (yeah, I've done that) and not just that, some people definitely will care (starting with the person doing the edit). So if I make the effort and then make grammar and spelling changes as per an editor, I not only have a chance with the readers who only care for the story versus the nuts and bolts of its construction.
    But by having and listening to my editor, I also may net those readers who do care about those things - never mind my own preferences. So as writers we open ourselves to new audiences if we take that extra time to get our story out there and resist the urge to post as soon as the ideas flow from our fingers. I know, it's tough. Even though I've been writing for so many years, I still want to readers feedback and affirmation just as any new writer. But giving yourself the gift of reaching a wider audience can't be bad thing.
    And as an aside...this post wasn't edited, so all mistakes are very much mine.
  3. Dabeagle
    This has been on my mind off and on for a while. There are writers of all stripes and there is an entire spectrum of ways to offer criticism and a matching spectrum of ways to deal with receiving criticism. Probably the first one many writers get has to do with punctuation. I remember well the first time someone said 'neat story, but you need an editor.' My first thought? Screw you! Which I guess brings me to my first point - being polite.
    Every single work of mine has issues and I know it. Every time I re-read something, I find something new. I'm often amazed at the number of eyes that go over a story and something still slips by. I'm convinced there are typo gremlins that adjust files before posting. Being told 'You need an editor' may be very true, but kind of rotten to say on its own. As time has passed I may ask if the author has thought of using beta readers or editors because I find my work improves so much with the extra input.
    Next, though more subjective, is the substance of a story. Given I write gay fiction there is a good chance that the characters I write about most will get together. This doesn't surprise folks. As someone I just exchanged messages with pointed out, it's more about the journey. That journey can have a lot of things happen between the first and last page and, for me, this is where beta readers come in. For me a good beta reader points out things (hey, he was Steve three lines ago, now you're calling him Simon) that you may have missed or changed by accident. I write along, looking at my keyboard as I go (don't judge!) and I have the scene playing out in my head and try to transfer it to the screen before I forget something. Like having another person in the room I didn't name or something that sort of ruins the whole thing.
    So with a beta reader, I try to knock down some of the criticism that would occur when reading something, especially items an alert reader might read and have them get jerked right out of the story. That also brings me to editors, which fill that role in my head of telling you where that comma ought to go instead of where you put it. No, not there.
    I had an editor who I shall not mention here because I'm going to try and get her to edit for me again, one day. But in my earlier work I'd write something like: "Says something," He coughed. If you're scratching your head, it's been pounded into me since that action, like the cough, is punctuated differently than 'he said'. To whit: "Says something." He coughed vs. "Said something," he said, and coughed. If your editor is pointing out the same mistake over and over, you may lose your editor if you don't at least make an effort to get better at fixing your own work. As a reader, especially with the lessons I've gotten from my editors, bad spelling or grammar will take away from my enjoying the story.
    That brings me to 'Look past that and just see the great story in there!' No. I'm sorry, it really doesn't (normally) work that way. Think of the last great movie you saw. Do you have any idea how much it could have been mangled by a poor editor? Or better still, the credit that film editor deserves for getting that great movie experience to you? It works very similarly in writing. If things are poorly punctuated it can change the meaning of sentences or paragraphs, leave you wondering who was speaking or acting in a given situation as a couple of for instances. This also brings me to the idea of listening to others. Not to the point you change who you are or your style, perhaps, but one of the great things that comes from a large writing community is the ideas people present. If you, as a writer, say 'I took a writing class and they said what you're saying is wrong' then you're kind of locking yourself in. There are tons of writing styles and no one, single right way exists for all people (except spelling and punctuation, folks) so be open to the ideas even if, ultimately, you don't use them.
    So that kind of brings us to - when do I critique something? That's a toughie. If I offer my thoughts, I choose to do it privately. Not because I know better, but because they are impressions. Recently someone said something to me that I can agree with, and I paraphrase - if you post online, you're asking for feedback. Good, bad or in-between. I love reading comments - especially speculation, but one comment sticks out for me:
    Well, I knew this was coming. I knew deep down Sean was just an asshole that was using Asher. Say what u will, but that's the truth. I think that Sean deserves way worse than just an STD. The fact that Asher forgave him was heartbreaking. To think that Asher thinks a lowlife piece of shit like Sean is all he can get. He deserves so much more. The end with he and Asher back together was pretty disappointing.
    As a writer, I loved the passion. Also as the writer, I was disappointed with myself because I didn't get the message across of who the character was and hadn't made him someone the reader could identify with. Not all readers can identify with a character, it's just not possible, yet that's the goal, isn't it?
    So, when do we critique? I think errors, feedback about confusing paragraphs should be done in private. If you're going to critique the whole thing, might be good to have some sort of rapport with the author (I break this one and never learn). If you see a spot where the story could have gone two ways, get on the message board. Start a discussion. No matter how many roads an author has envisioned, he can't see every possibility. Maybe what you say gets stored and used at a later date. A critique is like a good chat, a nice discussion over tea or coffee or beer. It's not personal.
  4. Dabeagle
    There comes a point where you might look at your work and wonder how good or bad it is. You may wonder which mistakes you're making, be they grammatical or creative. Sometimes an editor or beta reader helps you catch those things, but what if it's what you intended? How much do our intentions, in the front of our mind of unconsciously, play into the final product? I'd imagine the answer is different for different writers, so I can only give you my view.
    One of the things I do is make teenage characters sound too old, too mature. There are some kids who act older than their age, but by and large they don't. I have kids. They aren't like my characters, except perhaps in small flashes. In fact my theory of parenting is tiny bits of wonderful surrounded by a whole lot of WTF. SO why would I write characters that aren't the norm for that age group? Well, I'll tell you why.
    Where do young people get a lot of information, both good and bad or just plan wrong? The internet. For all the good things, we have to accept the bad as well and the fact is you can put just about anything you like up there and some schlub will believe it. That is dangerous in a general sense, but even worse when you head toward the industry that leads the way forward in so many things - technology, online business and I'm referring to porn, of course. It's ready available, in fact you can search for something not associated with porn and still find a porn site. There are free cams that require no more than you saying that you're of age no matter how old you really are. Kids are clever, especially when it comes to satisfying those curiosities. Usually, they don't have the maturity to handle that. In my opinion, it's worse for gay kids. In a world where there are people who do all the things they do to gay people as a class, it's even worse when you're a kid. If you never wanted to tell your straight son that a VW bus full of cheerleaders wasn't going to roll into his driveway and have wild sex with him - but did because porn is all about fantasy, you did the right thing. I wish more people would talk to their kids about porn instead of just telling them no.
    So, then, if people talk to their straight kids about porn in a meaningful way (I'm guessing a middling percent might), how much lower are the numbers for gay kids? Where will they learn about relationships and the role sexual intimacy plays? Porn? If they did choose to read my stuff, they might find a better way. To delve into the ideas that we care about our partners, that they feel good with us and give consent to be a part of whatever is happening. Will they relate to the more mature characters? Maybe, if it's laid out logically and they can see the path it took to get there.
    I recall watching the Fosters on TV and someone saying to me 'They just go from the kids doing one stupid thing to another. Don't they ever learn?' I wonder how many kids it helped, and how many rolled their eyes and said 'How dumb can they be?' Hey, kids screw up. Some adults screw up more than a kid. Sometimes logic doesn't play a big role. I try to balance some of that, but in the end I want young people to take away the idea of respectful, meaningful relationships and not substitute sex for love.
    So my younger character will probably continue to be more mature than they should be, for the most part. But it's for a good reason.
  5. Dabeagle
    Yesterday I made a post on my message board and my site Facebook page because, dear reader, I'm angry with you. The numbers I am about to share, specifically, don't apply to GA—but you have just to look at the number of views for a story versus the number of reviews, as that seems to be the standard for contact on this site.
    You know, reader, I'm a reasonably busy guy. I have a full time job, husband and all the bills that go with a home and a life. I have two kids full time with more than the average kids share of issues. I have a third child on weekend visits that sometimes takes me two hours to bring him back and forth who will move in soon, full time. Three dogs, who are social creatures and need their time, as well.
    If I, say, get into anything outside that like...a video game, book series or what have you, I have less time for writing. I know this isn't brain surgery, but I want to put that out there.
    My site has always been free of charge. Through the boom early years when I posted updates once a week to more than one story line like clockwork to the famine years where I couldn't string words together, it has always been free. The coin I asked, begged, bargained and cajoled you, reader, for was your thoughts.
    I have no other metric to know how a story was received, if it was as good on your screen as it felt putting it together or if it was a dumpster fire with a few semicolons. In that respect, reader, as a group you're in default.
    I know people are busy, too. Some of you are probably busier than I am. But, as the title says, this is a numbers game so let me share a few with you.
    On 9/11 I released the Sanitaria Springs story Love and Loss. Now, given it was the anniversary of a big event, a national tragedy, there could be some give here, right? A little leeway. Those numbers, though, are: Page Hits are 333. Email responses: 3. 1 message board post with response. Out of 333 readers, excepting duplicates for reading more than once or having to close the window and come back to it, out of that raw number 329 people read it and had squat to say. I'm not sure what that works out to as a percent, but it seems fucking lopsided. Was the story bad? Was it bland enough that it was worth reading but not worth the effort to comment? Even as a guest on the MB?
    On 9/18 I released the Sanitaria Springs story The Journey. I did so with a little joke because I wonder, sometimes, if folks are tired of Lucien and Robin who are my favorite guys. In the two days since it was released the numbers are: 170 page hits. 1 MB post that only makes sense if you read the story. 2 email responses. 167 people read it and left.
    I wish I could fire you, dear reader. I wish there were a way to find readers who would honor, at least sometimes, the idea that says I did my job. I created and placed it publicly for you to enjoy and all I ask in return is that you tell me what you thought. Instead, maybe because it's free so has no value to you, you take. And take. And take and don't give shit back.
    I have three SS stories left to post and I accepted the challenge to write in my friend Cynus's Fearless universe. Once that's done, I have no further plans to indulge you, reader.
    I know this won't change you. You'll go elsewhere and work that cost me hours and plenty of invested emotions and late nights and trying to find just the right word or phrase to make it resonate will be about as important to you as your last oil change.
    The numbers don't lie. You aren't keeping up your end. And as far as my own site is concerned, with monthly hosting fees, site domain renewals for .com, .net and .org I am quite literally paying for the privilege of being ignored.
    I've heard the excuses (make no mistake, it's what they are) of 'someone else will do it' or 'I don't know what to say'. Let me give you a hint: someone else isn't doing it. And tell them something you particularly enjoyed, tell about something that upset you, frustrated you or if it was just a nice way to spend an hour or two, then for pity's sake, tell them that.
  6. Dabeagle
    A month or so ago (time is elastic when you age) someone in chat asked me why I write the subjects I do, especially with respect to teen characters. At the time I gave a standard answer which more or less boiled down to when I was in school I didn't get to have those kinds of relationships and now I can experience them.
    While that is true, it may not be the whole thing so I've been thinking about that question. My mother asked me that, or something similar once, because I had so many coming out type story lines. And let's face it, the farther away from being a teen you are, the less likely you're going to get that character right. I'm sure some of the things I do must seem as erratic as a kid, but really - why do I wrote what I do? I recall telling her that coming out stories are still relevant, that not all kids are safe and the norm is still 'straight until proven gay'.
    The answer is complex and not complete, I don't think. It's a question that makes me defensive, as if there is something wrong with what I write. Writing gay teens may confuse some people or make them think that they shouldn't read my stories because there must be something indecent about their subjects.
    When I was in my teens, my father was in the closet even though he was married to my mother. She knew and, of course, didn't have a very good opinion of gay people because of my father's behavior. He was an adult and responsible for his actions, but he was also shaped from the repressive times he grew up in, small town in northern California for those scoring at home. In my home those things weren't discussed and so my latent feelings were kept under wraps. One result of this was I developed a very overactive imagination to take the place of all the things I wasn't experiencing like the boys around me were. I watched Silver Spoons religiously as a kid just to see Ricky Schroeder every week. As a teen I missed out on dating and breaking up, which forms how kids learn to get out of relationships where their needs aren't being met. It stunted my social growth and when I'd 'fall for a guy' I couldn't admit it to myself, but I did everything I could to be their friend.
    As I've grew older, I've always daydreamed away my humdrum life. I spend the time waiting to fall asleep daydreaming, to this day. As a teen I'd think of guys at school and even now I wish I could go back and change things, to have learned the lessons I missed out on. Of course, maybe I would have remained socially inept and continued to hang on for people that didn't really like me.
    When I worked mindless jobs stocking shelves or (before we had machines) separating brown, green and clear class as well as cans, providing a receipt and then having to empty those bins into a huge dumpster out back, I'd let my mind wander and not just to salacious things. Dreams you might have had once or twice, too—money, travel, etc. All of this fed into my psyche and culminated in one very short relationship where I had my first sexual experience at about the age of 20. She was a nice enough person, and a friend had gotten me together with her because she was a sure thing. I can still recall her telling me her ex, Mike or something, had a ten inch penis. And I wondered what that looked like.
    My imagination also worked to my disadvantage when my unresolved and poorly understood emotions led me to a relationship where I was ended up married because I was trying to be a dad when my emotions were more conflicted.
    I was a coward and I lied to myself and I pushed myself to create a happy marriage. This wasn't possible, and not just from my end. My ex-wife suffered from depression and had led a very hard life which her own issues made harder. Her father had been a drug dealer, laundering money through an auto glass shop. Her mother had been a 'prize' to the father, he being black and her lily white. He beat her. She finally left him and fell apart in another town, drank and her kids were taken away. So my ex-wife went into the foster care system. When got pregnant the first time because she thought that her child would love her unconditionally and that was what she sought. In the end, of course, we were incompatible but as people, not simply in the bedroom, which I did try very hard to make work. For 7 years under one roof. A more honest, courageous and, perhaps, self-aware man might have broken things off far earlier or simply not gotten involved—but my imagination filled me with ideas about how life could be.
    During that time I discovered Nifty and read stories that, frankly, weren't always very good. However it opened up the path to me where being gay wasn't so far of a stretch and I finally realized who I was and what I needed to do, ironically, when my ex-wife and I had a serious discussion. She told me it would only be a few years until all the kids were gone (3 kids) and then it would just be she and I all the time. The thought, frankly, scared me. The idea I'd spend the rest of my life with someone who I didn't get along with and, though I cared for, knew I wasn't in love with. There were other reasons—my ex-wife could be violent, she was very dramatic and never so happy as when she was managing or causing a crisis. She was the very definition of a person who walks in on a campfire and proceeds to pour napalm on it.
    In that phase, I began to write. I went into chat rooms. And I told my wife I wanted a divorce. You might think ill of me, and I won't blame you. When I think back there were many times things could have been different for me if external forces had been different or internal ones, but I wasn't strong enough. As a result I married over a dumb idea and deluded myself into thinking I could make it work. As my marriage broke up and I lost myself in the idea of wishing I'd been a teen who could have fallen in love, the world changed and rapidly. Things became commonplace or got phased out—cell phones spread like a virus, internet chatrooms began to die and, when I moved back to New York, dial up was going the way of the DoDo. I mention this because it became harder and harder to write characters people would recognize as a modern teen, just due to technological advances that virtually all of them take for granted now. Stories I wrote ten years ago lack authenticity for that simple fact.
    At that time, some people liked my characters and stories and I sure liked that, as well. But I began to grow uneasy with the content I was sharing space with at Nifty and I began to post there less and less. I recall speaking to someone who I won't name and he laughed at the thought that he'd had to post to Nifty before, just to get readers. At that time he had his own very successful site, but I recall remembering that he was able to do that and still have a big readership while I couldn't. I tried, had big names for a while and posted weekly. My imagination became my refuge as I went to a job where I had to be just to get a paycheck, but where I was really living was in my head and on the page. I began to go to gay bars, which were still relevant—or more so than they are today (another sad change) and finally to date. With more engagement with life, there was less writing time. Jobs changed, more social outlets and less writing.
    I did miss the time with people, the attention of discussing my ideas and characters, but found it hard to create. After we got our son, we were too busy dealing with him and his demanding needs for me to have time, and then our experiences in the foster care system brought yet more pressure and heartache and impotent anger. But eventually I did—I retreated into my worlds where it's okay for gay kids to fall in love. Yeah, sometimes they have sex because, well, teens do that. Even Texas keeps track of that stat. Most of the time I don't talk too much about that—we probably remember that feeling of simply being a ball of hormones and it's sort of private, anyway. But, sometimes if it fits the emotion, then yeah.
    So, why do I write what I do and who I do? Yes, because I wish things had been different for me. I desperately hope it means something to a gay teen, somewhere. But it's a place I can go to escape everyday demands—because while every life has it's demands, one also needs escapes from it. Some people travel or watch TV/movies, read books or listen to recordings. Some are darker, involved with drugs of some kind. I create and visit kids who I wish I'd known. Because, let's be frank, teens are kind of dickheads. Oh, it's not entirely their fault, not really—they aren't done yet and our expectations should probably be set accordingly. But it's one of the few things I miss about working retail is the kids and their nonsense. Even now if I see a nice looking kid out and about, they may do something that shows up as a character—an outfit, a look or a laugh. I like to imagine the best of who they might be. So, I write. I imagine. I escape. I work to exorcise crap from my own childhood.
    I guess most of all, I daydream. And that's why I write what I write.
  7. Dabeagle
    We're in a little bit of a tail spin over here.
    In March of this year we were asked if we'd consider adopting our foster child as his mother wasn't doing what she needed to. We said yes and we've been laying the groundwork since then. So you understand, this mother has had 10 years with this child. She is a meth addict who will not cooperate with treatment to get sober. She repeatedly breaks rules, something she taught her son by example, by calling our home, showing up at his school repeatedly, calling him and describing a friends suicide in detail, right down to little things like giving him junk food at visits when he won't eat dinner afterward and she knows this. She continually brought more clothes for him when she was told to stop, that we just didn't have room for anything else.
    She had a bowel perforation and ended up in the ICU for a few weeks last winter and has a colostomy. The DR won't operate to remove it until she gets sober, too dangerous so she still has it, months after she should have had it removed. They found her an in-hospital treatment facility to get sober, she got kicked out before she could go into the actual program because she was trying to deal in the waiting room. Like a lot of addicts, she lies and cannot be trusted.
    His court date is for Aug 4. I get a call that his mom has come up with a permanency plan. Some woman they knew 5 years ago and now the county, by law, has to check it out because this waste of humanity says she wants her son there. We told the county that we wouldn't allow contact, post adoption. This person will. Given how toxic moms influence is, you might wonder why the county would allow this - clearly not in the best interests of the child. Well, guess what? For all she's done, even that she's losing custody for good, she still has rights.
    All we've been able to ask over and over is when he becomes more important than her rights? And all I can do is go to court and tell the judge that this transition isn't in his best interests because 1) his mother, 2)he cannot go back to his old school ( lottery school, his place wasn't saved), 3) The school system he was due to go into is measurably better than the ones they'd put him into, 4) He has been in a stable environment where he has thrived and attached and they want to take it away based on his mother's desires?
    She had her phone calls taken away until she had some sobriety under her belt; she was talking to him while blasted.
    The system is broken.
  8. Dabeagle
    I was on my Facebook page and got a friend request from some person my husband might know—our 'friends' in common are people my husband knows. I usually put these folks right on 'acquaintance' because, frankly, we usually have nothing in common and if their crap comes up in my feed, I comment. That usually does it.
    I noticed someone else in my feed, non-relation, but I clicked on them and looked at one of their photos. Then, I noticed someone who commented looked like a cute kid and, since I'm always looking for character images and inspiration, I clicked and checked out the profile.
    The boy was adorable, 12, and I was already thinking about what a great little brother character he'd make when I discovered he'd died. I looked at the image, such a handsome kid and all the wonderful comments about him and I just...it brought me to a stop. I simply stared at photo after photo taken by a loving mom who was in such incredible pain. I was unable to simply let it lie and looked to try and find out what had happened. Why did this boy have to die?
    As it happens, he was bullied. I don't know what for and speculation will get me nowhere. He lived in the Carolinas and committed suicide at just 12.
    I didn't know this kid, but he's just become every scared kid who has taken their own life. It would be easy for me to see this family with their church's logo on their tee shirts (just like a corporate Nike or what have you) and the locale and think this kid could have been gay and could have been bullied and unaccepted at home, even though they loved him. Bullying happens for a lot of reasons but I keep looking at the photo and wondering...why?
  9. Dabeagle
    I know I've been a little quiet the last few weeks, and I wanted to address it with everyone - along with some thanks. I do appreciate your patience and kind words.
    With respect to serial stories: I will try to post Friday. If I cannot, there should be a large Sunday post. Due to travel on Thanksgiving, I will not be posting on Thursday.
    Sanitaria Springs: The next story up is 'Isn't it Bromantic? by Ryan Bartlet. Many of these stories were written out of order, and then we would post them in chonological order. On occasion, that meant some rewrites in order to take into account things that happened in between. For instance, with the torching of Lucien's bus and the subsequent replacement, that has to be mentioned going forward. Nicolai's arrival has to be accounted for in subsequent chapters, as well. So, not only do the stories have to go through beta and editing but they also need a touch up from someone other than the original author, in the case of Ryan's remaining work. I will get to that as quick as I can, with the edits and beta reads having been returned to me.
    The Personal: My back is slowly, slowly coming together. In truth, I pulled it over a month ago and have been limping along. It finally just got so bad that sitting for long periods, then even short ones, was exceedingly uncomfortable. We also had something of an emergency here with the dogs. I was already having a Monday when I returned to discover that the pup and the Italian Greyhound had tangled and the IG had about a 2 inch tear on the top rear of his head, exposing all the muscle and viscera underneath. Traumatized the dog, me and my wallet. Our foster managed to fail everything but gym and science and has been acting out in school. He's been grounded until his grades come up, but that's a chore at home as many of you might know. The good personal news is my son, Blake, made honor roll and is doing very well in his transition to middle school. Also, very big news, we have found our second child. We have been looking for more than two years, and found a great kid - prophetically, perhaps, named Nicholas. We met him and have started visits and hope to transition him into living here and home with us before X-Mas. We had to buy a bunk bed, since we still have our foster, and U managed to yank my back around again putting it together.
    On the bright side, we only fucked it up and had to disassemble three pieces en route to building it. Oh, and I've also lost 30 lbs on my diet.
    So, dear reader, I'm sorry for the slow posting. These varied things have kept me away and I hope the vast majority of you understand and keep coming to check in via the Message board and the Facebook page as I will announce postings there as always. I will do my best to keep things fairly smooth, but I hope you'll indulge me a bit further as these many situations play out.
    Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving.
  10. Dabeagle
    When a friend or other loved on leaves us behind it leaves a mark. I know that when my father passed away in 2003, it was expected - he'd had cancer for more than a year by then and when he came home with hospice, we knew our time with him was limited. That was very hard on him and on us, emotionally, but we got the chance to say goodbye and he knew how valued and loved he was.
    I made a friend almost a year ago who wasn't always very nice. He could be, frankly, a jerk. I know why he was the way he was and it explains some of it - not out, professionally disillusioned, sad - likely depressive - and yet we made a lot of common ground through our mutual writing. About a great many other things, we were polar opposites - movies, music, politics - if anyone on paper should not have been my friend and vice-versa, it was the two if us.
    But, over the past 10 months, we forged a strong bond. I understood - though didn't enjoy - the failings in his character. The man was never wrong! Even if you read something and liked it, he'd tell you that you liked it for the wrong reasons or that you misinterpreted it. For all that, we were able to be honest on the page and I was able to know the damaged, hurt man on the other side of the screen. We wrote an enormous amount of lines on the page during our collaboration.
    He used to write under another pen name, and was once hosted here. I joked once, asking if he'd been banned and, in fact, he had been. He was tremendously embarrassed about the 'why' of that and admitted he did something stupid and bore the blame. He never would say what it was, though. I think that, actually, may have been the only time he admitted fault!
    My friend, Ryan Bartlett, passed away suddenly on the 31st. I found out by accident a few days later because I knew enough about him to hunt him down in the real world. I stumbled on his obituary. One of the worst things about our online relationships is that we don't know what happens when someone stops responding - sick? Sold their possessions and joined a cult? Between computers? Sometimes we find out they passed away. Sometimes their family gets into their email and Facebook and chat accounts and discovers...someone they didn't know.
    For all his faults, for me he was first and foremost my friend. I plan to honor his memory by posting the stories I know he'd written and sent to me. I also plan to share the serial we co-wrote, because he deserves to be read. If you believe in such things, maybe he'd even get some joy in knowing he's still being read. He died wanting validation in his life - for his life. He had wanted to be published to prove that he could. This is the best I can do for him.
  11. Dabeagle
    You don't have to be a football fan to read this, or to understand it because it isn't really about football. What it's about is our priorities, what we allow as a society.
    I can't get it out of my head how horribly dogs died at the hands of Michael Vick and, for my part, I think he's a monster. Many people defend him with the notion that 'he did his time and he's trying to do better, raising awareness, etc'. Well and good but, yes, he's a monster. He didn't make a one time mistake, he mercilessly killed several dogs. We're not talking an isolated incident, we're talking something a sociopath/psychopath does. As to the 'he did his time' part, yes, I get that - but let me ask you this: do we completely forgive the rapist or the child sex abuser? No, we don't. For the crime of whatever sort of sexual congress with a child you are branded for life. If you raped someone you should be, but that depends on who you are in this country - a female raping a male is treated with contempt, as if there were no abuse despite the data. Female on female seems almost unheard of. Male on male is so shrouded in shame that authorities believe it to be widely under reported.
    Looking at this football season, in Steeler Nation (of which I am not a member) they are arguing 'well, you have a rapist for a quarterback, shouldn't that count more?' These people are asking the wrong question, trying to make it about if an offense is against humans or dogs. They are BOTH reprehensible and this is just as despicable as the way Minnesota Vikings fans are welcoming back serial child abuser Adrian Petersen. Because you know what matters? Winning. Money.
    That is how our society is constructed. If you can still make us enough money, you still have a job.
  12. Dabeagle
    As I have friends/minions here that I do not have at my own site, there were some things that I like to share with readers both from my stories and from my personal life. Recently I had posted that we'd gone to Philadelphia and had reason to be optimistic. I decided that upbeat item would be my first blog post here - and I hope to hear before tomorrow, when I start calling and emailing the worker in earnest.
    From my site post, dated March 31:
    So as some of you know, I recently took an overnight to Philadelphia. Unfortunately I also threw out my back, thus why I haven't been on here to say a whole lot. I'm still not great, but I wanted to put down some thoughts and share them with you.
    We've been to matching events before. Massachusetts, for example, will hand you a spreadsheet with the kids names, if there are siblings and the workers name and turn you loose. This was far more structured - but the salient point right at this stage of the story is that we were going in with lowered expectations because we'd gotten our hopes up about various kids too many times. I have a file on each child we've asked about, some 23 kids. Some we couldn't take because of their trauma, it was more than we could handle and we knew it. One child was subjected to familial sexual abuse by his grandfather and father. Another, his father would duct tape his arms and legs at night and put him in a dog crate with a sock in his mouth. So, you'll understand our attitude was that we hoped to find a child, but that we weren't quite as naive this time.
    We arrived Friday and checked into our hotel. We went up to the famous 9th street Italian Market, which is actually blocks worth of stores, and bought my mother some items from her wish list. Some of those cheeses are very, very expensive! Then we did some light shopping in the center of the city and went to a nice dinner at Mangiano's, which seems to be a small, local chain. We had a great evening with some time to ourselves, and we felt the trip was a success.
    The next day we went to the event, held inside the stadium where the Phillies play. Right away we spotted a child we liked, who was sporting a bit of a scowl. Our age range has been a tad older than Blake, our son, because we felt that plays to our strengths as well as to Blake's. This structured event put you into small groups that rotated frequently, sort of like the way people describe speed dating. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to spend time with the child that had caught our attention. Then it was time for lunch. The child, named Mike, was the only one dressed up a bit with a collared shirt, slacks and dress shoes. Desperate to find something to start a conversation I asked about the shoes - saying I needed a pair of dress shoes and asking where he got the ones he was wearing and if they were comfortable. This quickly transitioned to basketball, and then to video games and he asked if he could sit with us. 20 minutes later he was flagging down his worker and asking if he could visit with us, which is the term they use when you are getting to know one another. He wrote our names down so he wouldn't forget.
    In speaking to his worker, things look very good. As it happens, his scowl at the beginning was related to his shoes - he'd wanted to wear jeans and sneakers and was put out that everyone else was dressed more comfortably. But if it hadn't been for the shoes....
    Also his worker had a conversation with him on the way to the event and he'd asked her what to do if he was interested in a family. She'd told him to write down their names. So we came away feeling tremendously positive. We mailed outr home study, got in touch with our agency and I spoke to his worker today. Here's how things work:
    First, he's a little naive as he thought Billy and I were college roommates. His worker will have a conversation with him, but he doesn't seem to have a hateful bone in him. His worker is speaking with her supervisor today and will let us know by the end of the week if we can move forward. What happens then is we start visits - taking trips to Philadelphia to see him and let us all get to know each other. Then the city has to fill out what's called an interstate compact which goes to the state of Pennsylvania who then sends it to New York State. If NYS approves the child coming to NY for the purposes of adoption, then it gets sent down to our agency for supervision and Mike gets to start coming to NY to see us. Ideally he will move in this summer in plenty of time to start school here in the fall, if all goes well.
    So, that's where we are! Think good thoughts and I'm hoping for positive news by the end of the week!
  13. Dabeagle
    I frequently have many thoughts running around in my head at one time. Other times, there is nothing going on, so I guess it balances. Lately, I've had a kid in my brain.
    I mentioned him earlier, and let me give you some detail. Due to privacy laws, I will call him Adam, for the same of bringing humanity to him as opposed to calling him Child A or something. Adam is ten years old and is quite dimunitive. You might think, upon meeting him, that he is much younger than his biological age. You'd be right in the sense that emotionally he's younger.
    His father first slept with his mother when she was 11 and he in his teens. After being 'sent away' for a time, the father re-emerged and they coupled again, this time producing Adam. Adam has four siblings, at last count. Due to his father's actions with his mother he is a registered level 2 sex offender. Adam has spent half his life in foster care and the only thing people agree on is that his parents love him - they are just incapable of taking care of him. In the foster system there is an 'Attorney for the Child' who is supposed to represent the wishes of the child. Frequently, it seems, this attorney never meets the child, yet advocates their supposed wishes.
    There are questions about some potential sexual abuse Adam may have had in his past, due to behavior witnessed between he and one of his siblings. A test placement in the home of the mother - who lives with her parents - was broken due to the fact there are other registered sex offenders with access to the home and, thus, the kids.
    In foster care the goal is usually 'Return to Parent' or 'Family Re-Unification'. This child has been bounced from home to home and is now hospitalized while he gets the psychological and medicinal treatment he so badly needs. He throws epic tantrums, throwing, breaking things and swearing with abandon. He does this because he's in pain. Because he's been taught he has no power in his life - as occurred with political motivations when he was disrupted from a long term placement from a woman he still asks for.
    I visited him Friday, and he was happy in the hospital. He was playing and told me 'I have a girlfriend and she knows about it!'. On other nights he calls his foster mother and cries 'why do I have to be here? Why can't I just go on respite?'
    Adam was the boy we had for a month that I noted previously. He is a tough kid to have, and harder to hear his sad story. His plan is still 'return to parent' because the law says, even though you're a sex offender, it doesn't stop you from having custody of your kids and the parent has a right to parent says the Supreme Court. It is a classic example of the system and society failing a child.
    If you have free weekends and are in good health, look into being a foster parent, even if it's just for respites for the odd weekend. Kids like Adam can be tough to have full time, but when you see a kid like that in a hospital and they are happy to see you and hug you just for showing up for them...you realize you're doing some good. Maybe not world changing good, but good.
  14. Dabeagle
    There has always been some inequality of the sexes - even tonight my son was teasing a teammate that he'd been beaten by a girl and I had to explain to him why that wasn't the way to tease. But, as was discussed in the recent Sanitaria Springs story, Asher, there exists a disconnect between boys and underage sex and girls - specifically when their partner is of legal age.
    Firstly, sex in these circumstances is, in my opinion, wrong. It isn't an equal relationship, the adult has the power, the money, etc. Additionally, the adult is more mature and the child less so. This is not to say younger people can't be attractive in a variety of ways - we have but to look at advertising to prove that to be the case.
    But this inequality is far more glaring when it comes to underage boys having sex with adults, specifically when the older person is a woman. The effects of sex in those situations is far ranging and can be mild or severe depending on multiple factors. A man I have known for over twenty years who is now in legal trouble that I won't go into here, but suffice to say it's of a sexual nature. When he was a teen, the woman across the street - in her 30's - would call or pick him up when his parents weren't home and take him places to have sex.
    There are two places this inequality shows up - legally and socially.
    Legally, women get far more of a slap on the wrist for this behavior - in one recent case a woman actually received sympathy and encouragement from the victim's family and friends! Another case, a judge told the woman she was low hanging fruit and what boy wouldn't try for her? Socially boys are treated as if this doesn't affect them. In some cases the effects may be less noticeable, true. However, the argument that they 'nailed a teacher' and turned out fine is similar to the argument that 'I was spanked as a kid and turned out fine'. Research shows that people who were spanked are more aggressive and more likely to strike out in a physical way, and that includes their kids. Sometimes the effect of this kind of sex is a devaluing of relationships, intimacy and attachment issues that can last a lifetime.
    Socially, boys are often treated as heroes, and some adults will point to the fact that the teacher was caught because the child was boasting about having had sex with an adult. That should tell you a lot right there - mature people do not go around boasting they had sex with someone if there is any respect or intimacy involved. Instead this child has learned - and is now in the spotlight for - devaluing their sex partner and treating them as if they were trophies.
    Some of these folks arent' even teachers or other professionals you might feel you could trust. Some are other parents, like this lady who slept with her daughters underage ex-boyfriend. How much sleaze does it take to sleep with your child's ex, who is still a child themselves? How about when there are teachers in the school that think a female teacher sleeping with a male student is A-Okay! Imagine how fast that opinion would change if it were an adult male with a male student, or a male adult with a female student - blood would be called for. In each case the central fact is - adults slept with children and it isn't legal, and it just isn't right.
  15. Dabeagle
    I had a conversation recently where someone was frustrated about that pizza place in Indiana who got all those donations. Now there is a few different ways to look at this and mine was - how could people, presumably religious folks who supported the religious views of the shop owners (as opposed to just bigots) support this when there were so many other positive places that money could be used for? Feeding the homeless? Shelters, either human or animal? Unfortunately, the outrage doesn't always help much. The other side of that is, of course, some folks just get tired of listening to the outrage. So what's a better way?
    This Go Fund Me page. It lets you know, if 800k can be raised for a pizza place, how well can we do for homeless LGBT kids? Got a few bucks? Let's speak that way - and it'll have a bigger impact than reposting it on Facebook that we're unhappy.
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