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  1. G’day, y’all! Can you tell I’ve been writing something with an Aussie and a Southerner as the main characters? Who cares, right? After all, you’re here to read what other authors have to say. I’ll shut the heck up for now. ҉ ҉ ҉ Which author/poet (alive or dead) do you identify with most, and why? ҉ ҉ ҉ @BDANR I'd say Essex Hemphill. His work moved me with its rawness, activism, and he elevated other marginalized, talented authors not seen as having a story worth hearing. He's unapologetic in his delivery, imagery, and leaves a lasting impression on whoever reads his work. He is one of my biggest inspirations and influences my own artistry. I only wish I could've known him, but he passed when I was still a toddler. It also didn't help that he lived on the other side of the country. ҉ ҉ ҉ @lilansui I have more than one, because I am constantly searching for inspiration. First, I do lean a lot on Paulo Coelho for words of comfort. Manuscript Found in Accra is a favorite. He has a way with words that makes me nod and agree no matter the occasion, and I think that's powerful. His books are great for when I'm feeling my soul is a little battered. When it comes to writing inspiration, I find it in manga-kas. I love manga and how insanely creative it can get. My first and forever inspirations came from creators like CLAMP of Legal Drug and Maki Muramaki of Gravitation. They got me writing my first fanfiction. The list gets long from there, all I can say is that I could spend hours reading manga because it entertains me on such a basic level. It can get obsessive. I love discovering strange concepts that sort of open new worlds to explore. There's nothing impossible in a manga. You just need to level up, 😉. I can obsess over genres I come across, when their characters take a grip of me and won't let go. This can also turn so obsessive it morphs into full blown research and character write ups. 😆🤣 My latest author obsession is Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. She writes great suffering and enduring love. 😎🙈 And now, I have decided that this is a tough question to answer. So many authors stick with me and I want to mention them all. Why only one? hahaha ҉ ҉ ҉ @lomax61 I’m choosing to answer this question in terms of the author’s writing style, body of work, and characters they’ve created - and not as the person themselves. When I first aspired to writing gay fiction, the gay authors I read tended to be serious fiction writers, the likes of Edmund White, Alan Hollinghurst, and Paul Monette. You know, the kind of fiction where you have to pay attention and often have to go back over a paragraph to make sure you understood what the author was trying to say. Not a style to which I was ever going to aspire. Thankfully, I soon stumbled upon Armistead Maupin and Joe Keenan, both who not only have a unique sense of humour, but whose gay characters are never tragic, and are mixed up in stories with plots that are fun to follow, if at times a little absurd. At the same time, I discovered the very English Patrick Gale, whose style of prose I continue to admire (but who is far more fearless than me when it comes to subject matter). The author that brought me out of the writing closet, so to speak, was Josh Lanyon with the Adrien English series. Finally, I thought, an author of gay fiction who could write believable and relatable gay men with all their quirks, foibles and insecurities, but men who are still essentially men (very different men, admittedly). Moreover, one of them is not simply a pronoun shift from she to he (as happens with all too many female authors of commercial MM fiction). The Adrien English series is still my go-to favourite when I want to settle in an armchair, kick off my shoes, and lose myself in something warm and familiar. Around 2015, when Josh came out as a women (Diana Killian, I believe), I felt as shocked and betrayed as the rest of the MM reading community. But at the end of the day, good writing remains good writing, and I love the readability of Lanyon’s prose, the light touch of her humour, the way she builds her mystery plots around her main characters, gives them brilliant dialogue, and never loses sight of them, growing them along the journey. I even love the way she has me invested in minor characters. So the simple answer wrapped up in my long-winded response is that the author I identify with most is Josh Lanyon. ҉ ҉ ҉ @northie An interesting question which can be taken in all kinds of directions. I'm sticking with the 'author who's influenced my writing the most' angle. I often seem to kinda cheat with these questions where one, and only one, answer is permitted. So what's new... In that vein, I'll present a runner-up before I settle on the main act. Pat Barker is best known for the Regeneration trilogy which looks at an element of WW1 from a very different angle. She comes from north east England (like me) and that comes through in her writing, whatever the actual subject. It's difficult to put a finger on - language, style, outlook on life, but I know it when I read it. That's what I'd like my writing to be like, and to match her spare, characterful prose. My main act is Susan Hill. You'll probably know her best as the writer of The Woman in Black. It's an excellent, scary ghost story with heart-stopping moments achieved with an economy of style. (Spot a trend?) She writes about ordinary people and allows us into their thoughts and actions. Even the worst offenders in her detective novels see 'normal' to others as they so often do in real life. My favourite novel of hers is Strange Meeting. In one tiny corner of a WW1 battlefield, she creates a quiet, profoundly moving meeting of two lives. A friendship deepens, broadens, until you wonder whether in another age the two men would have become lovers. Then one is killed and the other wounded and you're left to ponder. ҉ ҉ ҉ @ObicanDecko I definitely don't mean to sound presumptuous and imply the quality of my works matches that of these authors, but just in terms of subject matter and style, I identify myself with Lloyd Alexander, who wrote fantasy (mostly aimed at younger audiences), specifically The Chronicles of Prydain; also there's James Hilton, whose adventure/fantasy novel Lost Horizon always inspires me, and it definitely had an impact on my short story The Island of Poa. I find their ideas refreshing and original, and their style of writing enjoyable and easy to read, which is something I aim for in my stories. ҉ ҉ ҉ @Parker Owens I find it hard to choose a single author with whom to identify. There are many I admire, others I might wish to emulate, others with whom I might find common life experiences, still more with whom I’d like to share a long weekend lunch. Bring them all together at once, and the room might get very crowded indeed. W. Somerset Maugham comes to mind. Here is a writer who believed his own work to be labored and mechanical, as I have often felt. Yet I have come to admire his variety and prolific output over decades of work. I have a number of his books still on my much-culled shelves. Robert Louis Stevenson is another I can take to heart, if only for our shared weakness as children and similar birthdays. I still smile at his Deed of Gift, in which he gave his birthday to young Annie Ide of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, who, “… was born, out of all reason, upon Christmas Day, and is therefore, out of all justice, denied the consolation and profit of a Proper Birthday ….” He, too, was an exile of a sort, though he felt the need to go all the way to Samoa. And then there is the composer Alexander Borodin, who wrote brilliant and beautiful music – symphonies, operas and exquisite chamber pieces – all while teaching and doing important research in chemistry and medicine. I empathize with his dual passions in creation and education, in science and in music. His story inspired me as a young man to try writing in my own spare time: first music, then fiction. It is a tragedy his untimely death cut short such a marvelous musical output. This list could be a lot longer, but I fear I may have already tried the patience of GA readers ҉ ҉ ҉ @Timothy M. I had a hard time answering this question. At first I didn't understand it, but Carlos gave me this explanation: What author do you like so much they influence your writing or you try to emulate them? So then I spent a while trying to come up with author names and reasons why. I've read a lot of stories in the past 50 years, and there are plenty of authors I enjoy reading and admire for their skills. But I don't identify with any of them. To me, the idea is absurd. The main reason for this reply is I would never presume to compare myself with real authors or pretend I could live up to their example. I'm simply not able to say I want to write like this author, or identify the 'technical' reasons why I like their stories in order to emulate them. And this includes all my favorite authors on GA. The only way I can manage to improve my writing is via the hard work of my editors and input from my readers. What they praise or approve of, I try to keep doing. ҉ ҉ ҉ @Valkyrie I can’t think of one author I identify with the most, but there are several throughout my life I would say I identified with for one reason or another. When I was a teenager, I read a lot of poetry and the work of Sylvia Plath really spoke to me. I was pretty dark as a teen and struggled with depression, so I identified with the darkness of her writing. I would also say Piers Anthony, since I love a good play on words, and his entire Xanth series is basically one pun after another. I also identify with Tolkien and his love of language. Language is something that’s always fascinated me. I actually spent a summer once translating and learning Tolkien’s runes and Elvish language with a friend of mine. When I went to college, we wrote letters to each other in runes and Elvish. Unfortunately, I’ve lost the skill throughout the years. ҉ ҉ ҉ I don’t know about you, but I had to google a few names after reading the responses. A couple of things were added to my reading list in the process. On a serious note, I really, really need questions. How about helping?
  2. Here’s hoping this month’s issue proves as popular as the last one. We are back to one question for several authors but this month’s query is somewhat different from our usual fare. It does, however, dovetail nicely with Myr’s history of Gay Authors so many enjoyed in August. As usual, responses are in alphabetical order and posted as the respondent submitted them without editing. ҉ ҉ ҉ We are putting together a Gay Authors Time capsule. This capsule will be opened in 10 years. You have been asked to input your thoughts. What would you like to include in this time capsule? ҉ ҉ ҉ @AquariusGuy So I've given this a lot of thought. I would like to see the work of some of the older Author's who haven't written in a while to preserve their stories. The liking of DomLuka, NicolasJames8, Vlista, Afriendlyface and CJames. These are some of the Authors who have inspired me to write and I always enjoyed their stories. ҉ ҉ ҉ @Bill W Seeing this would be for Gay Authors, I would suggest articles about how the current administration was trying to push back against the LGBTQ community with their 'religious freedom' claims and remove them from guaranteed rights, such as employment, health care, etc., and that the Supreme Court had decided against some of it. I think any articles about the current situation for the LGBTQ community would be good, so in ten years we can see how much we've gained, or lost. If you're asking specifically for Gay Author related items, I'm not sure. The library should still be available by then, but possibly a memorial tribute to those who contributed to the site, but are no longer with us. This way in ten years new members can read about those we lost that helped to make GA great. ҉ ҉ ҉ @Brayon Hello GA! Today is Sunday, August 9, 2020, and I’m currently sitting at my desk and typing this message for the Time Capsule. First off, I want to say congrats on being around in 2030! I hope the community has continued to be a thriving place, for authors who want to tell a story beyond just erotica. I hope that everyone is finding the place inclusive still, and that any old hatreds have been settled. Life is too precious and short. Cherish every moment you have with friends, family, and each other. Aside from this letter, I’ve placing in the capsule some items that I feel would be a reminder for how crazy 2020 has been. 1. A Covid-19 test kit. 2. A Mail-in Ballot for the US 2020 Election Cycle. 3. A Facemask from Universal Studios during Pride Month. 4. A video archive of my online classes. Remember to break the rules of writing from time to time. It’ll make your story unique. Say yes to Infodumps, they are the bread and butter of certain genres. A good Infodump won’t read like an Infodump and will lay a foundation for the reader to engage with your world. Say yes to “Tell, Don’t Show.” Because sometimes, dogmatic adherence to “Show, Don’t Tell,” will bog down your story. Sum it up and move on. Bottom line, it’s your story, tell it like you want to. If this capsule is resealed, and buried for another ten years, then I hope the community at GA continues to thrive, and new stories and content is added. May you write your stories and continue to be kind to each other. Cherish each other. Thanks for listening, ҉ ҉ ҉ @CLJobe When this Time Capsule is opened, I'll not be here. I have lived my life trying to help those who have a hard life because of the ills of society. I write my stories illustrating some of the problems the gay community faces because of the bigotry and the lack of sympathy among those who could help. If you read any of my stories, I would hope the world is better than it is now, 2020. People care about everyone, gay or not, Love overcomes hate, and most of all gays are accepted as a normal human being. As much as you would like to live forever, it isn't going to happen. Leave you mark on this earth, love your neighbor, gay or not. ҉ ҉ ҉ @Mikiesboy Thanks for the question. My thoughts for a time capsule? The question is a broad one, but here some of the things I think about now that I hope for the future. § I hope GA is still around and offering a home to LGBT+ authors § It’s my hope that people are accepting of each other no matter, colour, race, sexual preference, or religion. I hope we see each other as brother and sister finally. § I hope we have learned from the past. It has much to teach those who bother to learn from it § I pray for a new breed of politician; one who believes in the People and their rights § I wish for a world where community and the good of all, not the individual, is what’s important, where more wealth and health are available to all. § And it’s a wish really, that we learn and respect all life on this planet. That we see that each life is worth living and it is not any one person’s place to snuff out another. § On a personal note, I hope my Husband and I are still around in 10 years. I hope my friends are also. ҉ ҉ ҉ @RichEisbrouch Just a reminder about how far we've come in the last seventy years and a hope we continue to make progress in the ten years between 2020 and 2030. Without younger people, and the increasing and casual acceptance of gay people since 1990, I'm not sure there would have been gay marriage. And without the people who started working for acceptance in 1950 and continued, maybe specifically in 1970 and the mid-1980s, I'm not sure there would have been the casually accepting young people from the '90s onward. And no matter how hard it sometimes seems, it's a lot easier to grow up gay in 2020 than it was any time earlier. So let's not forget that, and let's hope growing up gets increasingly easier. And thanks for asking. ҉ ҉ ҉ @Wayne Gray What a wild question! Okay, cool. A GA time-capsule. I'll approach it from this angle - what would I want GA to know in ten years about what is happening right now? To GA in the year, 2030. It's September of 2020 right now, and we are in the middle of an historic event. We're watching our governments struggle to control the COVID-19 pandemic. While that issue is important and worth talking about, it'll be in the history books by the time you read this. I'm sure those will do a much better job of explaining it than I. To that end, I wanted to talk about something that probably won't be nearly as discussed. That is the problem of disinformation in this time of ever-increasing connectivity. So what I'd like you to know about these times is that the need for critical thinking has never been higher. As more "information" becomes available, more of it is simply junk that has to be filtered out in order to understand what is really going on. COVID-19 has truly rammed that lesson home. Access to information is no guarantee from drawing the wrong conclusions. Be critical. Look at your sources. Think about what a source has to gain from earning your trust and belief. Because if we're dealing with this now, in 2020, then 2030 will prove even more of a minefield of misinformation and outright lies. ҉҉҉ That’s all for this month. Still hot in South Florida, and I’m still sitting naked beneath the AC vent as much as possible. I took the Harley out yesterday and, after an hour riding around, my arms and my face were screaming for relief. Even through the hair on my arm, the outline of my watch on the skin is more noticeable. My face’s also tanner. Once again, thanks for reading. Same GA channel, same GA time next month. As usual, I’m in the market for questions.
  3. We’re changing things up this month. Instead of one question being asked of several individuals, we’re back to one author one query. One being the operative word. @Myr was kind enough to provide a detailed response, so I’m featuring it by itself. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. ҉҉҉ Why did you decide to start Gay Authors and how did you go about it? Also, how has it lived up to your expectations and how has it diverged from your original intent? ҉҉҉ Why did I decide to start Gay Authors and how did I go about it? At the time I started Gay Authors in 2002, the world for gay stories was a completely different place. There was no such thing as an ebook market yet. Kindle on Amazon didn't exist until 2007. At the time, there were a handful of sites out there that allowed people to post their works. Nifty was (and still is) the big kahuna for archives of posted works. Nifty accepted all stories (pretty much), but they tended to be heavily geared towards um... action. Plot in most Nifty stories was a bonus. There was a time, 1995-1998 or so, where I actually checked every story posted on Nifty across a number of categories I was interested in. I quickly started spotting authors that had plot with their action. Real character development, etc. That was a new thing really. Amazon had gay books, of course, but there were so few published in those days that I had pretty much every gay fantasy/gay sci-fi book that Amazon sold. Most of them weren't as good as some of the free gems on Nifty. So, understanding that background, I went about identifying and contacting authors of stories that had plot and character development. I approached them and said, I'll build a website where you can post your stuff so that you stand out more than getting drowned in the deluge on Nifty. Comicality signed on as did Bill W, and dkstories not long after. DomLuka and others followed. We started hosting in September 2002. By the time July 2003 rolled around, I decided to give IP.Board 1.1 a try and the forums were born. You'll notice that I'm member number 3. When I started the forums, the default first account was 1, of course, and called "Administrator". The name on the account now is "GA Staff" and it is used for our program/developer for the Stories software. Number 2 was a friend that has since passed away that helped me with testing the forums in the early days. Active posting and other things on the forums didn't really kick in until about 2004. In those early days, Hosted Authors would email me their stories and I'd do the web development. Most authors went this route. Some, like CJames, were given FTP accounts and allowed to roll their own. The more authors we got, the more work it was, of course. It didn't take long for me to want to find a way for authors to have a way to post on their own. I turned to eFiction, which was a stand alone free software package that allowed members to post stories. I also programmed, on my own, a Story Archive that allowed links to stories and a quick way to sort and find stories. This left us with 3 separate, competing systems, each with their own member system. It was a bit of a headache for a while. Eventually, and with spending some money, we got all three systems using the forums member database. But keeping eFiction and the forums working together was a nightmare. Enter our biggest software development action in our history... the creation of "GA.Stories" which was a spin on Invision software IP.Whatever (IP.Forums, IP.Blog, etc). This is where we went from Hosted Author websites, stories in eFiction by any author, and a separate list of linked stories to one Stories Archive to rule them all. It was December 2010 or so. This is why so many stories are posted at that date. We posted all the Hosted Authors stories in one go, and imported most of the stories in from eFiction. This was in the forum software version days of 3.X. We've kept that system since, though changing developers. The leap from 3.X to 4.X was sizable. But we're now in a position where the Stories Archive is a third party application in the Invision Community Software. So, some of the quirks of the Stories Archive are tied to how the forum software works. But all the benefits, like following, liking, notifications, etc are all because the Stories Archive is just part of the "Invision Community" software package. Those around at the times of the big change will remember the growing pains. The last major revision to the software was pretty smooth. We've got one coming up very soon that should be pretty smooth as well. (Stories works fine on the new forum software even without the update, minus some formatting) Has it lived up to my expectations? Has it diverged from my original intent? Yes it has and more. We've been going for 18 years now (almost). The world and technology has changed a LOT since then. Kindles, iPhones, tablets, smartphones in general, are all things now that weren't then. We have grown and adapted to new technology and have weathered the changes over the years. I've worked to keep us up-to-date and relevant as well as a safe port in the storm. While I'm pretty political, I've kept that out of Gay Authors for the most part. I'd rather Gay Authors just be. Everyone else can have an agenda. My agenda is "great stories people want to read." If you can write a story with a message that people enjoy reading and it stimulates thoughtful discussion, then great! We need less yelling and partisan BS. Live and Let Live was a great concept out of the free love 60s. Hell of a lot easier to have a happy life that way then looking over your shoulder afraid to be canceled for breathing wrong at any moment. I guess that probably explains my operating philosophy most and fits my original intent. I just want to read and enjoy stories. Perhaps have some inspired debates. I can't tell you how many hours I went back and forth with dkstories over his political take on something. It was quite enjoyable to have that exchange of ideas. But society is no longer in a place where that's even allowed. Hence my policy of no politics except in The Pit. Its purpose is to keep the divisiveness in an isolated place to allow everyone of all political stripes to enjoy the great stories our authors have shared with the world. I know people have commented on that in the past. The "if you are for free speech, why can't I post this here?" Well it is because you are deliberately antagonizing someone who has an opposing view. The Pit allows you to know what you are in for when you go in there. So, go read and let an author know that you enjoyed what you read. Let Gay Authors be your escape. And if your escape is riling people up, then hop into the Pit and have a go. =================== There you go. I probably meandered. I have not diverged from my original intent. Gay Authors is still about having quality stories I want to read posted in one spot and having a community support each other and enjoy the content. ҉҉҉ And there we are, a quick history of the site we all seem to enjoy. I mean, your reading this blog means you’re interested in what our authors have to say, now you have an idea of how we all came to share this cyberspace. Myr mentioned he’s member #3, to give you an idea of the amount of traffic this place has, I joined some seven years ago and my member number is 19841. I just looked at one of our newest members and we’re up over 36,000. Finally, here’s a link to something you might enjoy reading: https://gayauthors.org/anniversary/ That’s all for this month. At least in South Florida, August is horrible. Heat and humidity drive us indoors, and GA is a perfect companion for sitting naked on the couch with the AC blowing on you to cool you off. Ooops, is that overshare? Anyway, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it, and we’ll see you back next month. In the meantime, send me some questions, dammit!
  4. Half the year is behind us, and I suspect by the time 2020 is over, we will look back and marvel at how different the twelve months turned out to be from what we might have expected. If the COVID19 pandemic, social distancing, and quarantines weren’t enough to shake us, police brutality and Black Lives Matter protests surely did. Not surprising then that two members sent in similar questions referencing the pesky virus and our reactions to it. Responses are posted in alphabetical order. ҉҉҉ How has living with social distancing affected your writing? Do you find it odd to write actions which are currently disallowed or socially frowned upon? ҉҉҉ @Carlos Hazday I’m semi-retired, work from home, and lead a nearly monastic life; being isolated should not have bothered me. But it has. Because most of my stories take place in the real world, and I’ve written into the near future, many of the things I described happening in 2020 could not have taken place. It took me a while to realize it was okay since I spin fiction. For now, I’m ignoring the virus. In my alternate universe the pandemic did not occur. The events of 2020 do provide material for many a story in the future, though. For others and myself. Surprisingly, the murder of a black man in Minneapolis and the subsequent worldwide reaction have helped pull me out of my stupor. Barely able to write at first, I now have outlined several chapters in different stories dealing with the ensuing social unrest. There are countless tales out there waiting to be told but maybe we need a little distance before we can tackle them. Thanks for the question. Remember the virus is still out there and we are all susceptible to it. Keep your distance, wash your hands, and wear a mask. It may just save your life. ҉҉҉ @CassieQ I am an introverted person by nature, so I didn’t have much of an issue with social distancing. I work in healthcare (Physical Therapy) and our business was considered essential during the pandemic, so I worked with people all day and wanted to relax and write at home when I was off, which is how I am normally. I write to help escape stress (regardless of what my whiny status updates say) and like everyone, I had plenty of that to fuel me. However, when I was working on my Spring Anthology I recall writing a scene where one of my characters just hopped in his car and left on a trip out of state. It felt weird to be writing something like that when we were under stay at home orders and traveling was very discouraged and I remember thinking of how my character couldn’t do that if it was set during this time period. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about it. ҉҉҉ @Geron Kees That's easy. I have not addressed the virus in my writing at all. That's the nice thing about fiction: you don't need to confront reality if you don't need to. So far, I have not needed to. The coronavirus is big now. But in a few years it will mostly be a bad memory. I don't really want this thing hanging around in my stories. Most readers have lived a lot of years virus-free before this outbreak, and will live a lot of years after it the same way. Why capture such an unpleasant moment and make it a factor people have to read about later? The last story I posted on GA was written before the pandemic emerged. I have another written since then, not yet posted, and I am working on another for posting around July 4th. None mention the virus. This isn't really just about avoidance, though. I live in the back of beyond, the Adirondack Park. We've had five cases of the virus in my whole county, and one death. There have been no real local horror stories. Social distancing is almost the norm here as a way of life. There are only a little more than 5000 people in the entire county, which comprises 1800 square miles. I was driving about 35 minutes to reach my office in the next county each day (I tend to drive fast, so this is not a good indicator of distance!). What I have experienced is a hell of a contrast with what life has been like for people just a couple of hundred miles south of me, around New York City. I have not experienced the pain and distress that so many people have, so I am not qualified to write about it, other than tangentially. I own my business. My sole concession to the virus has been that I simply stopped going to my office in town at the start of March and have worked online from home since. I have one employee, who works on the office net with me each day from her own home. The remove from normal life for us has just not been so large as to see it sitting squarely in front of me like with so many others. I know people in other parts of the country that have been ill, or lost people, and I absolutely feel that. But the pandemic is largely a remote event for me, and I don't feel I can legitimately write about this except as an observer, not having really experienced it other than in the news. It seems unfair to those that have been living with it daily, like posing. I'd much rather write something that can take readers away from this event, than serve to remind them of it. So for now, I won't. I may, at some point. Maybe. ҉҉҉ @Headstall I've thought a lot about this question. The fact is this epidemic has gone on for a long time and how it affects me changes from day to day. Lately, I've been depressed. I suppose I should stop watching the news, but it's like a car crash that goes on and on, and the worldwide bungling is sucking the life from me. I miss my kids and grandkids and feel guilty about all the things my sons and daughters insist on doing for me. Yet, I still try to write. I prepare to write for the day, open my document, but the words aren't coming. Instead, I get frustrated—and sometimes angry. I have had spurts earlier on, and even started a new, out of the blue story that is now stuck at chapter five, while another sits at chapter seven. I tell myself it's okay, and this will pass, but I'm not feeling it. I have written some poetry, some of which is in the spring anthology, and I wrote a story as well for the same one—but I finished that seven weeks ago. Now when I sit at the computer I feel dread, so I busy myself with outside work like painting, mowing, gardening, and playing with my dog, while I pray for a vaccine. Social distancing has me off balance. I feel lost, as I'm sure many of us do, but I'll keep trying to get out of this slump. As for the last part of the question, I don't feel odd writing about human interaction as it was before all this started. In fact, I hope to find solace in it. Thanks for the question. Cheers... Gary.... ҉҉҉ @Mikiesboy Thanks for the question. The act of social distancing hasn't stopped me writing or changed it, at least not yet. The pandemic affected me for awhile but i've been fine the last couple of months. Wayne Gray and i are writing well together. Our latest is currently at 48,000+ words. I don't find it difficult to write things which are disallowed or frowned on. Writers shouldn't tiptoe around, they should write their story. If the site you post on asks you to put warnings on, use them, but authors/poets are meant to write. I can see writing something about the pandemic and its effects on people. Then in that case i'd write about wearing masks, or staying two metres apart, but only if it's part of the story. People also don't always want to read about what is currently happening because they want to escape it. If we start being afraid to write our story, and the character's truths, then we shouldn't bother writing anymore. A reader from another site where i post e-mailed me. He said, please never stop taking these risks in your writing, because it makes it real and believable. I smiled at that, because that's how we should write and because i have always said; write bravely. ҉҉҉ @Wayne Gray Social distancing has affected my writing because it has affected the ritual of the act itself. I used to do most of my writing sitting in the corner of a little coffee-shop a few blocks away. I had a steaming latte, a breakfast bagel or a scone, and a nice walk back home to look forward to after finishing. So now I try to reproduce the coffee-shop experience at home. I will set up in our back bedroom with my coffee, and away from the distraction of my powerful gaming desktop. But I'd have to say the biggest impact has been adjusting to the new world we're in. I'm sure we all feel the interruption of our daily lives. Some will feel it more than others, and I'd love to think my case is extreme due to my work, and the shift to almost entirely dealing with COVID-19. But I know that we're all affected. Just the stress of dealing with "the different" is huge. I don't find it odd to write about life before COVID-19 and social distancing. That is the baseline and social distancing is the oddity. Social distancing will end - there's far too much economic incentive for it to continue, so one way or another it will end. Plus, it's nice to write about the times before all this began, or to think about what it'll be like after. Thanks for the question. 🙂 ҉҉҉҉҉҉ That’s it for this month. If you like this feature, if there are things you’d like to know about a specific author, or if you’re tired of the same authors being featured all the time, do something about it. Send me a question or two and I’ll do my best to get responses.
  5. Last month’s installment of “Ask An Author” was one of the most popular ever based on the number of comments from readers. Not sure we can match the response, but this month’s question is just as fascinating. Let’s see what some of the Author/editors on Gay Authors have to say. Participants were selected by the member asking the question, and they're featured in alphabetical order. ҉҉҉҉҉ Amateur writing can have some differences, and no one is perfect. As many of us on GA are, I am an author as well as an editor of others' work. I'm wondering if editing has affected how you enjoy reading in general? Do you lose the flow of a story because your 'editor eye' keys in on your perceived rules of writing? Are you quicker to dismiss a work because of mistakes than you used to be? What about published mainstream works... are you pickier? Does it make reading frustrating at times, especially when the story itself is good? If so, have you been able to overcome it over time? ҉҉҉҉҉ @ColumbusGuy Happy to answer any questions sent in by fellow GAers. Since my vision problems and eye surgeries at the start of 2016, I haven't done as much editing as before; I now use narration software for my computer work, and my visual acuity isn't sufficient to notice the symbols most programs use. I limit myself to spelling and the flow, and suggesting a few word changes to make things smoother without changing the author's intent. I always put the story first when reading, both in print and digital formats, so I can let a lot go by unless it truly mangles the sense and quality of a story. Learning German in college taught me that writing is more than the words themselves--you may have the right words, but making it sound good is almost an art. Modern programs can correct most spelling and word choice errors, but nothing can put in creativity and emotional punch if it's lacking. My reading used to range from history and archaeology to poetry and fiction of many genres before 2016, and I'd read nearly all of my 6,000 books by then. Science-fiction and fantasy have always been major genres for me, but Literature became my major by default. What teen read Chaucer in Middle English in 10th grade, or the entire sixteen volumes of the Arabian Nights by Richard Burton by age 22? I've been writing my own stuff since 5th grade, and some of it was truly awful. Back in 1969 when I began, there were no computers available to kids, and we learned reading from the 'Dick and Jane' readers in our first years; I moved on fast to real books above my grade level, and that joy remains even now though it's limited to online sources now. I got my first computer in 1990 from one of my first roommates after moving to Columbus, and found a few sites to read at, and a few to write interactively with others with an interest in ancient history--my Pompeii story is what I could salvage from that site before it went under about five years ago. About that time, I began reading here, and tried writing a few months later. My vision has slowed me down, but I'm not out yet. One final thing to add: I learned my rules of writing and grammar before computers, so I don't adhere to any of the purported online 'experts' who claim dominance these days. Many of these guides are fine for writing articles or reports, but fiction derives far more of its impact from style rather than technical correctness that many consider of primary importance in digital media. Uniformity is an asset in the online community for global understanding, but it is a severe limitation to creativity as was once seen in regional language variants and fiction. How would Charles Dickens or James Whitcomb Riley fare in today's online world? Editing was always tricky for me in that I wanted to preserve the author's meaning with as little alteration as possible, making the story the goal rather than technical perfection. One of the best books I read before my surgeries was a great example of this: it is a British science-fiction tale set in a post Atomic future as told by a young teen in his own then-current English of about 2600AD. The spelling defies all modern rules, as does the grammar, but the story itself is riveting and I highly recommend it--Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. ҉҉҉҉҉ @Mann Ramblings It can be difficult. When I read, I find myself re-writing lines in my head of authors I really like. Some more than others. It makes me sensitive to grammatical errors and I try to ignore it, but if a story is too messy, it can pull me right out of headspace and make me stop reading. I haven't learned to ignore it yet, partially because my sadistic side likes to use the red pen. (for constructive purposes... honest.) However, if the story is good enough, I can be more forgiving than I can if the story is just "all right." Turning off the correction vibe is real work some days. ҉҉҉҉҉ @Timothy M. Spotting mistakes in spelling and grammar is something I did long before I became an author. It’s always annoyed me. When I began writing stories for GA and had editors and readers point out my own blunders, I actually became more tolerant of the occasional typo. Because no matter how many times I (or my editors) go over my own stories, something always slips through. But I still notice mistakes whatever I read (online or printed), and I don’t think this will ever change. Luckily, I’m usually able to enjoy the story, while rolling my eyes at the occasional blunder, unless the mistake makes something difficult to understand. However, really sloppy writing will destroy my pleasure in reading. If the story content is great, I try to grit my teeth and shoulder through, but fortunately, such cases are rare. It’s possible to be an average author with good technical writing skills (like me), but it’s unusual to find a great author with really bad grammar and spelling. One of the great advantages about reading on GA is that I can send a message to authors to point out any mistakes I notice. Somehow, this possibility makes it much less frustrating to spot mistakes. Most authors (including me) appreciate such hints as helpful. In fact, I’ve gotten several editor jobs that way, which is a fair payment for being a busybody. On the other hand, if I edit for someone, I certainly expect any mistakes to be corrected (if I pointed them out and the author agreed). If they’re not fixed in the published version, that’s when I get annoyed and may send the poor author a grumbly message. ҉҉҉҉҉ @Thorn Wilde That's an excellent question! Yes, I think editing has changed the way I read. I do tend to notice people's mistakes a lot more. Though I've always been like that when it comes to online fiction, it's probably gotten worse. I do also notice stuff in published books. That might actually be one of the reasons why I prefer audiobooks nowadays, come to think of it; can't see the mistakes if I'm not reading them. It can break the flow and the immersion, but if the story's good, I can ignore a lot of mistakes and still enjoy it. Really good storytelling pulls me into the action and I'm less likely to notice the mechanical issues. If it's really obvious that English isn't the author's first language, I tend to make more allowances too, again provided it's a good enough story. I do try to give a story a chance and not dismiss it out of hand just because there are mistakes, but that only works up to a point; I'm probably a little quicker to give up on a poorly written story than I used to be. I often wish I had an off switch, so I could prevent myself from noticing mistakes, but I've never let my overly discerning eye prevent me from enjoying a really good story. At least I don't think I have, as good storytelling is to a point dependent on a decent handle on the craft of writing. Though I have had a tendency to contact authors whose stories I love and let them know they need an editor. Sometimes, I have offered to be that editor. ҉҉҉҉҉ @Valkyrie This is a fantastic question, and the answer to if editing has affected how I enjoy reading in general is an unequivocal ‘yes’. I discovered online fiction about twenty years ago and joined another site in 2003 (well before I’d ever heard of GA). I discovered a story on that site that quickly became my favorite. I even re-read it multiple times, and I rarely re-read online stories. The story had its share of detractors, and I thought they were nuts. I loved the story and thought it was well-written, so screw them! Several years ago, after I had started writing and editing, I decided to re-read that favored story. To say my eyes were opened is an understatement. While technically edited well, the story contains just about every gay fiction trope out there and is not what I consider good writing anymore. It felt like losing a good friend. I still enjoy the memory of it, but reading it is most definitely not the same. The answer to the next couple of questions is also ‘yes’. Because the majority of reading I do now is with a critical eye, it can cause me to lose the flow of a story when I find errors. I am able to ignore the editor voice and continue reading, but it can be difficult at times to get back into the story. Because of this, I do tend to dismiss works that are riddled with mistakes. I consider writing a craft, and as authors, we should be looking to better our craft. If a story contains multiple errors within the first paragraph, or even the story description itself, I’ll generally give it a pass. If the story title has an error, then I’m pretty much guaranteed to move on to something else. That being said, when reading amateur online fiction, I try to overlook errors and concentrate on the story itself. If the author is a good storyteller, I’ll continue reading, especially if it’s a newer author. We all started somewhere, and I cringe at some of my early writing. I hold published mainstream works to a higher standard, since those would have gone through professional editing and review. Finding errors in those is disappointing and disheartening, as it’s something I’ve paid for vs. free online fiction. I won’t get started on errors in professional writing, like news stories or articles. And sometimes Facebook makes me weep for the English language, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic. ҉҉҉҉҉ Y’all stay safe out there, and we’ll be back in July.
  6. We were granted a reprieve. I’ve received several questions since last month and Ask an Author will remain a feature for the next couple of months. Of course, that does not mean I am done asking you to submit new queries. Seems asking several authors the same question’s becoming a thing. I kinda like it, since it allows us to explore different outlooks. Here’s this month’s question, and for the record, it does not matter if it has been asked before. Authors are listed in alphabetical order. ◊ ◊ ◊ I have a question if this has not been asked before. It’s a 2-part question. #1 - What GA story character (not your own) did you read that you said “damn I wish I had written that character” and why? #2 - Now that you have chosen this character which of YOUR stories would you put him in and Why? For example I like yours Carlos - CJ in Singer, and I think he would be a great add to Wayne’s Camp Refuge. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Brayon The timing of these questions is spot on, as I’m actually doing this. One of my editors, @Backwoods Boy has a story here on GA that he wrote called Indian Summer. I’ve always had a connection to Native Americans, both by blood and relationships, so when this modern fantasy came out, I loved it from the start. Then I started talking to BB in private messages and ended up helping him with the story. The two principle characters, Pahana and Tocho are among my favorites, and it goes beyond what is posted, but also what I’ve discussed with BB when giving feedback as a beta reader. So, I’m writing a story now, called Freedom Station, which is about twin young men, and what they are going through in their lives. In a later chapter, they are meeting Pahana and Tocho who are in their late 20’s at the time. It’s been a fun addition to my story to have BB loan me these two and allowed me to use them in my story. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Carlos Hazday Although I can’t recall any specific character making me wish I had created it, there have been several I liked so much I’ve already included them in my stories. The first one was Tyson Hill. Ty was the protagonist of Marc MacNally’s Love on the Rocks. An Aussie performer, I had two of my main characters attend a concert of his in Sydney. That was in Winter, but I referenced him a couple of other times in subsequent CJ Series stories. Since I have the author’s permission to use his character, Ty could show up again in the future. Michael Quintana and Blaine Emerson, minor characters in @Parker Owens’ Predator Prey, have made multiple appearances in my stories. The most recent one was in Singer. The similarities between Parker’s Michael and my CJ were too tempting to avoid. Gay Hispanic teens with two fathers and non-Latin boyfriends was good; the fact Michael and Blaine attended the University of Miami clinched the deal. Chipper, Singer’s protagonist was also a student there. Michael and Blaine have made at least three appearances in my work. @Dayne Mora’s Cory and Efrain became favorites when I read Wolf Like Me. Since the author abandoned them (please bring them back, Dayne) I asked for permission to use them. They are football players at Virginia Tech University, and the school conveniently scheduled a football game against the University of Miami in November 2018, I crafted a chapter in Goodnight, My Angel around it. I had some of my characters and Parker’s Michael and Blaine travel to Blacksburg from Miami and Washington for the contest. Their interaction with my CJ was through the mail. However, I left the possibility of further encounters open. As for the future, I’ve toyed with using more than one of @Jack Scribe’s characters. Private Investigator Oleg Petrov, a partner in AOI’s West Coast security operation was a consideration for Singer in place of the FBI agent I created. I also considered using his Brent Williams as the LA attorney in the same story. I could still do so in an upcoming one, but since Jack passed away a couple of years ago, I’d have to do it without the author’s permission. If you’re interested in finding out more about Oleg and Brent, check out Scribe’s Splash Trilogy. If you like my work, you’ll love his. https://gayauthors.org/story/parker-owens/predatorprey/ https://gayauthors.org/stories/browse/series/e-p-i-c/ https://gayauthors.org/stories/browse/series/splash-trilogy/ ◊ ◊ ◊ @ColumbusGuy This is a tough set of questions, mainly because I can't always remember where a character I liked appeared. Second because you want me to pick just one. 1. I'm gonna cheat a bit on what character--I'm picking a duo--a pair of brothers who you really can't separate. I choose Alex and his little brother Luke from @Dodger's 'The Cockney Canuck'. Why? These two have had a crappy life and just want to be together and somewhat safe, but Fate is always against them. Alex has trouble dealing with life due to his abusive family issues, and Luke just wants to stay with his brother, the only stable person in his life. 2. What story of mine would I put them in? If you mean one I wrote rather than someone else's in the example cited, then I'd put Alex and Luke in my 'Jay & Miles' story. It has an atmosphere and an environment that puts one's emotional well-being first rather than conforming to society's expectations. And, the characters help one another develop their own better vision of themselves and of their place in an accepting and caring group. Hope this helps you out. I did have a fun alternative, but you only wanted one...but I'll tell you about it anyway. I'd choose Difris, the alien robot created by @Geron Kees as his Portal station guardian. I'd put him in my 'Tales of Three Worlds' story because nothing goes better together than a robot and Neanderthals in a bizarre future history. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Cole Matthews I love Clay Moore, Little Man, by @Mann Ramblings. The character is so well-rounded and unpredictable, yet he's also likeable without being 'nice' per se. I don't know that I'd necessarily put him in one of my books, but I could see Rush Romer dating Little Man if something happened to Ben. I don't think it would be a relationship exactly, probably more like an episode in their lives and they'd part, wistfully, but knowing it was the right thing to do. Does that answer the question? Thanks for asking ◊ ◊ ◊ @Mikiesboy These answers are likely not what you want to hear, but it's how I feel. I don't have writer envy like that. I enjoy other's work for what it is. I don't recall a time I wished I'd written someone else's character. I'm glad for them when they write a successful one. And you will likely be disappointed in this answer also. I am just not interested in borrowing characters. I don't really enjoy stories where that has been done. It's not my thing and if others are into it, they can certainly do so. I'd rather write a new story with an author I like, rather than borrow characters. Thanks for the question. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Talo Segura To answer this question I had to really think, and yes, there was one story and one character that stuck in my mind, but it was a few years ago when I read the story. It's probably not true to say I wish I had written the character, because back then I read, but didn't write. However, @Sam Wyer wrote a great character named Cal in a book of the same name: He brought the character to life in a way that was summed up beautifully in one of the reviews. He (Cal) shares what he's going through which draws you into the story and makes you like him, just as you would if you met him for real, he becomes your friend. What better compliment could you give to an author than telling them the character they created lived off the page and was so real you wished you met him? So yes, now, "damn I wish I had written that character," and maybe I'll get close one day. There is only one story that Cal would fit into and that's Camp Echo, maybe because both stories offer up a gritty realism, but also by pure hazard. Cal is inspired by a real life person the author knew, and Camp Echo is a fictionalised biography, so also inspired by real people. Pure hazard: Cal in Sam Wyer's story is nineteen, exactly the right age for Cal, the American who makes a cameo appearance in chapter seventeen of Camp Echo. Now there would need to be a little tweaking, because Cal is short for Carlton in Sam Wyer's tale and Cal is short for Calvin in Camp Echo. Nevertheless, it's kind of an odd coincidence and my story almost answers your second question for me. You know what they say: "Real life is stranger than fiction!" ◊ ◊ ◊ @Wayne Gray Thank you for the questions! I'm going to get to them right away. #1 - Keter, in The Searcher, by @Mikiesboy. He's one of my favorite characters in any story I've read. The reasons are that he's complex, conflicted, quietly powerful and yet lovable and affectionate. Those characters are rare, and when I find them I take notice. #2 - Silverwolf! For certain. Keter would easily slip right in among the characters in that tale without any issue at all. They're both fantasy/supernatural sorts, and a little time/planar travel would see Keter romping around with werewolves, tribal shamans and spirits. If I ever talk tim into a crossover, maybe we'd see it! That’s it for this month. My thanks to the member who sent in the question and the authors who were kind enough to provide responses. If you like this blog, remember to send me any question you may want to ask so I can share them with the GA community.
  7. Ask an Author #48 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #47, we heard from authors Riley Jericho, SkinnyDragon, Craftingmom, and Roberto Zuniga. Today in AtA #48 we hear from authors JackBinimbul, Mikiesboy, Palantir, and WolfM. Please welcome Texan and Author JackBinimbbul to the blog. Jack has been with GA for almost a year but has dabbled in writing for a long time. He’s the author of the popular crime/romance story Painted Blue, just what the BDSM genre needs after the horror that is “Fifty Shades....” Jack’s family has a history of service in law enforcement, and you know what they say: “write what you know!” Painted Blue is about a detective who begins to understand and allow himself to enjoy aspects of himself that our society often labels taboo. Law enforcement and BDSM are two genres commonly ridiculed or demonized, so it’s awesome to have a story that’s so real. Despite the play on the Dorian Gray name, the characters are wonderfully down-to-earth and the information about what happens in a real “scene” is a can’t miss, even if you’re not normally a fan of the genre. To JackBinimbul: How have you planned out the crime/mystery part of Painted Blue? What challenges have you run into attempting to weave the mystery aspect of Painted Blue into Dorian and Felix's story? Well, I won't be giving any spoilers! That said, it's been relatively difficult to weave everything on the crime/mystery level so that it's not readily apparent, but in hindsight, the reader will be able to see all the threads as they converge. It will be a fairly large reveal, but I want it to still be believable. It has been a bit of a challenge working everything in with the relationship between Dorian and Felix. I didn't want either elements of the story to completely overshadow the other, but I also want them to feel interconnected and to play off of each other organically. It has been tempting to just focus on the crime aspect, or the developing relationship and I've really had to be disciplined about giving them equal consideration. Author Mikiesboy joins us once more. For those of you not familiar with this guy, Timmy is from Ontario, Canada and has published about 20 different items in his year and a half here on GA. An avid participant in the weekly prompts, Timmy also writes some amazing poetry. In January, Timmy gifted us with Miss Silver Pretty-Pink-Toes, a fairy tale story with some breathtaking imagery. While I am not the only one wanting more from this author, unfortunately life has a way of throwing curve balls. We might be seeing less of Timmy in the future as he puts things in perspective and focuses on what is truly important to him. Still, he’s given us some rich memories which will be treasured. To Mikiesboy: Do you have any future projects planned? I don't plan to write poetry, not like you'd plan to write fiction, poems just sort of come to me. They are a way for me to deal with issues, good or bad, that happen in my life. However I do work on AC Benus' Poetry Prompts, which are a great opportunity to learn. For these I have to plan to write them. It's a challenge and I think making yourself try new things, step out of your comfort zone, follow the restrictions of the form, makes you more creative and a better writer. Future projects, yes, I am currently working on a new fictional piece, a kind of dystopian story. I also have something almost ready for the Pre-2016 Anthology Themes. It's something completely different for me. I'll probably continue to write a weekly prompt now and again and definitely will do any of AC Benus' O'Henry Prompts when he puts out another one. You might remember member and writer Palantir by his former name Iarwain. With GA since 2009, Palantir has had an amazingly varied life. He calls Melbourne, Australia home now but he has travelled extensively over the years and can tell you quite a bit about a number of different places. I’ll bet all those stories made him a wonderful teacher, too. He now has a website dedicated to his stories about what he’s calling the Terran Diaspora, which you can also read here. For those of you who are not sci-fi fans, this generally refers to Terrans (us, Earthlings) leaving Earth and settling on other planets. Closer to home, you might remember The Ocean Walk, one of Palantir’s first stories. Two guys off hiking along the beach keep meeting up as small catastrophes keep trying to ruin their adventures. If you like nature, this is one for you. To Palantir: What inspires you to write? How is it that you put an idea together for a story? The inspiration to actually write? = a sense of achievement - hopefully a kind of legacy - the wonderful gift when readers express their enjoyment - the act of creation Inspiration is a very tricky beast and I never know where it's going to come from. All my major stories have started with a germ of an idea and then fleshed out with the characters somehow running away with their own ideas and actions. When I've committed to a story it's with me everywhere. Sometimes I realise I've walked through the bush or along a beach and seen nothing because my mind has been trying out ideas and approaches for the next section of the story. Last but not least today is author WolfM. We’ve seen a lot from this author in the past few months, as he’s the creative force behind Running with the Pack. With more than 350 reviews on this story alone, can you believe WolfM was once told he has no talent? Running is an epic tale pushing 250-thousand words and 50 chapters as of January 2017 and WolfM should feel pride in such an accomplishment. He’s enjoying some time off writing right now, but let’s hope he brings us some more of Ethan and Aiden soon! To WolfM: Do you plan on having expanding the world of Running with the Pack with future stories or creatures? As I've been writing Running with the Pack I have given thought at times to a possible follow up story. At this point I have absolutely no idea what form it would take, what characters would be included or even if new species of shifters would make an appearance. Unfortunately the best answer I can give to any of the readers who have encouraged me with their support to keep working on RWTP is that my current focus is on completing this project and taking a little break from writing so I can catch up on many of the stories I very much want to read. I will say that after spending so many years with these characters and having them in a sense before friends and family to me, I might not be able to let them go completely once I do reach the final chapter. 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! I’ll see you next time, with authors AC Benus, HindertoyBL, Milos, and Parker Owens! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  8. Ask an Author 2.0 - #5 Welcome back y’all. So far this year we’ve featured seven different authors in this blog; this month we add four new ones to the mix. I’ll continue to showcase different ones as long as you keep sending in your questions. Remember this is your chance to ask any author anything you want. The identity of the member asking the questions shall remain a secret in order to protect the guilty. J • • • • • @MacGreg Mac’s current avatar on Gay Authors is a length of rope innocently left on a wood floor. Don’t let it fool you, he uses it to rope readers into his world and once you get a taste of his writing it’ll be tough not to return for more. • I love the connection I'm able to feel with your characters and your story even though I may never be in their situation. That's with every story you've written. My question is, what are you hoping to communicate with your writing, and with Dissonance where did the inspiration come from for that story? • First of all, thank you for including me in the Ask An Author series. It pleases me to hear that you feel a connection with the characters of my stories. Honestly, I can’t think of a better compliment than that. I would say that a common thread throughout much of my writing is a focus on character-driven plots as opposed to event-driven plots. Although plenty of events happen within each story, the driving forces are the perceptions and reactions of the characters involved. I’m interested in psychology and sociology and the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, so I suppose the biggest thing that I’m trying to communicate with my writing is the intricacy of human relationships. Life is a great big jumble of positive and negative points that we bounce around on, and our reactions help mold our personalities. We all want to end up on a positive point, but it can be extremely challenging to get there. How we interact with others along the way is important, because we are all connected. Dissonance illustrates some of these positive and negative points. The ways in which Travis Cooper and Ben Mansfield navigate through the obstacles of their budding relationship is just as important as the obstacles themselves. I first got the idea for this story many years ago while driving from Colorado to Texas. Something in the air triggered a thought, and nine hours later, I had a story in mind. What happens when two people from very different backgrounds strike up a connection? Opposites attract, yes, but discordance can also happen. It’s an old story line, yet it remains relevant. Nothing is ever as it seems. Add into the mix the fact that these two characters are gay/bi, struggling with self-identity, self-loathing, fear of rejection, fear of the past, fear of the future, societal pressures, and a myriad of family issues (things so many of us can personally relate to), and the result becomes dissonant. This story sat for a long time before I was compelled to pick it up again in the fall of 2016. The characters of Travis and Ben never completely left me alone, and I’m glad for that. Thanks to everyone who's been reading it! • • • • • @jfalkon Having joined in 2007, jfalkon is one of Gay Authors oldest members. His thirty stories on the site show his versatility; the genres are as varied as the tales themselves. Having read some of them, I have enjoyed how his writing has evolved and the variety of emotions it evokes. • What prompted you to write Under The Surface? It was quite a dark story and I'm interested in your motivation. • Thanks for the question. I usually write about things that are on my mind. Before writing the story, I had watched some documentaries on kidnappings and religious cults and had heard a few stories about failed treatments designed to change a person's sexual orientation. This all happened in a period of about two months. The stories melted together in my mind and resulted in this rather dark story. • • • • • @northie One of the benefits or coordinating this feature is being exposed to authors I’m not very familiar with. Northie is one of those. Although I’ve know her for a bit, my interest in her work peaked when she sent me questions for the blog and again when someone sent questions in for her. Since then, I’ve read a few of her stories and plan on reading more. Her characters leap of the page and seem as real as if they were sitting next to me. • You have posted quite a few stories on GA in a short amount of time. Including an impressive 7 short stories in 2017. Were some of these stories already written, posted on other sites, re-vamped, or did you start each one from scratch this year? • Everything that's appeared on GA is new, and with the exception of the Anthology stories, they are usually posted pretty much hot off the pencil. I only started writing in late 2016, after a friend on GA (who's now my editor) planted the idea in my head that maybe I could write. My first efforts were short prompt responses (posted in 'Am I late?'). About the same time, I started a multi-chaptered story which is now complete, but has yet to be posted. Prompts continue to inspire my stories, because as an author who is still inexperienced, I love the opportunity to experiment. Genre, form, style, I enjoy playing around with them. Cia's writing games are another source of inspiration, and also, practice in writing to order. Some things that started out as shorts have evolved into longer, ongoing stories ('Soul Music', 'hell_is.com'). • • • • • @Hunter Thomson Hunter’s our resident jock from Canada. Who else could get away with a picture of a curler as their avatar? The man isn’t only interested in sports, politics battle it out for attention. If you get a chance, read one of his blog entries concerning running for public office. They’re fascinating. • In your bio, the focus is very much on real life and your own personal experiences. How much of your own life goes into your work, bearing in mind that you’re only 27? • I do tend to use my life experiences as a template for what I write. I feel that doing so gives me a more authentic point of view, and I can write about sports more effectively because I understand the thoughts and feelings of the players from my own experiences. That isn't to say that my Out on the Field series is a biography, its not. But there are certainly a number of elements to Devin's life that are similar to mine. It's been argued in the past that Devin's stories are a way for me to relive my life in an alternative universe where things were different (like making the UBC Thunderbirds). I can see where the argument comes from, but what happens in my stories is fiction; my life experience just give me some extra perspective on the psychology and internal aspects of the characters. I find it interesting that the question frames me as 'only' being 27. I guess from a chronological viewpoint I haven't been around the planet for very long compared to some people (and potentially the person asking), but I've given myself a chance to lead a rich life in the time I've been here, and the wealth of positive and negative experiences I've lived through gives me a lot more to work with in my writing than I thought I would have. • • • • • BONUS QUESTION– ASK AN EDITOR @Kitt A little detour along the way. Someone suggested asking editors a question and two of the ones I approached were kind enough to reply. Here’s what Kitt had to say. • Can you give examples of edits you've made of mistakes which were really funny or really strange? • I edit for a gent whom English is his second language. Actually several of my authors fall into that category. I think the most amusing one is where he put shrubs in where scrubs ( the hospital wear) belonged. Was several minutes before I could continue working. I kept seeing this little older woman wearing a bush!
  9. And we’re back. Sometimes I wish a few of my favorite GA authors were still around. I have questions about what inspired them to write a particular story, how they decided on locations, or even how they settled on a character’s name. Unfortunately, those I’d most be interested in asking aren’t around these days. Will you face the same regrets I do in a couple of years? Think of one of our new hotshot writers and send me a question. I’ll get it answered and we can all learn a bit more about those who entertain us. • • • • • @Dodger Well-known for his distinctive avatar and having published ninety-five chapters of his long-running story The Cockney Canuck, Dodger is not a one-hit wonder. I’ve enjoyed reading several of his short stories and this month’s question is about a different ongoing story: The Church and the Tradesman. • Your The Church and the Tradesman is a highly original and engaging work. How did you get inspired to create these characters? • Most of my characters are loosely based on people who I have met in real life and The Church and the Tradesman follows the same principle with the exception, unsurprisingly, of the unruly and thoroughly dislikeable pop star, Tyrone. It’s definitely not fan-fiction so I’m not going to throw any names out there but his character is based on the typical, manufactured, teenage, pretty boy, pop idol. Needless to say, I’ve never met anyone who falls into this category so it’s possible that Tyrone’s personality isn’t an accurate representation, but I like to think it is. The protagonist Andy, his friend Jazz, and sly colleague Bob are all slightly exaggerated variations of people who I met or worked with whilst living in the UK. They do, however, come from completely different backgrounds and environments and their paths in real life would probably never cross. I just thought it would be fun to put them all together and throw in a pop star for good measure. The inspiration originally came from an iconic gay nightclub in London that was nicknamed ‘The Church’ because of its unusual opening hours. In the story, this is the spiritual home for Andy’s gay alter-ego and a counterbalance for his very straight weekday job with Bob. This bizarre, hardcore dance venue, only opened one day a week on Sunday mornings from 4 am until 1 pm and gained notoriety in the nineties following a number of high-profile sex scandals. In its day it was probably the most infamous gay nightclub in the world but a reputation for sleaze and drugs inevitably led to its closure. Mercifully, I was never old enough to attend church when I was in England but I once had the dubious privilege of meeting some ex-members of the so-called ‘congregation’. Their vegetated states and vacant expressions were enough to convince me that the stories that I had heard about this place were probably true. This was supposed to be a light-hearted story but it does touch on the very serious problem of drug abuse, which I do not condone but could not ignore either. Drugs play a very big and very destructive role in Andy’s life and it was difficult for me to write about this without glamorizing it in any way. I hope I did okay. • • • • • @Dabeagle & @Cynus One question, two top dogs in the GA greyhound track– talk about a perfecta. I gambled and posed the same question to both authors in one message so they could read each other’s responses. Here’s what they had to say. • Dabeagle has just finished writing a story The List which is set in the universe of another writer's creation: Cynus' Weightless and Fearless. I'm curious as to the effect on both writers. Cynus, with someone else using, inhabiting, and possibly changing his own world. And Dabeagle about the pressures of writing something knowing that another author was likely to take a close interest in what resulted. How much collaboration was there? Or did Cynus hand over the characters and their environment and let Dabeagle get on with it? What attracted Dabeagle to those stories in the first place? • Dabeagle For me writing with others is old hat. Some of my best ideas and stories come from discussion and brainstorming with other people. I had worked with Cynus before - he's a relatively old friend - and we'd been successful in our plotting and execution of the story we'd wanted to tell. With respect to The List, Cynus had put out an invitation for people to come write in his universe. That particular thing isn't something I do. I have borrowed characters, with permission, such as Craftingmom's Devyn Kennedy. Sometimes a character, usually a secondary one, resonates strongly with me and I'll be moved to write them. My motivation in this case was to create characters that could interact with the existing universe yet be individual. I follow some basic rules or guidelines when working with other's characters. First is not to change them in order to suit me. For instance, breaking up a couple for my own use unless the original author approves. For instance, Cynus had already told me that Angie and Travis wouldn't last, therefore opening a door. I'd never have broken them up on my own. Secondly this sort of thing needs the blessing of whomever you're either working with or, in this case, whose universe you're playing in. Cynus was very supportive and loved Parker and Shane which made things much easier. I asked him a lot of questions in order to stay true to characters as well as not running afoul of any plans he had made in terms of new stories. So this wasn't a collaboration in the traditional sense, but neither was it a carte blanche. As I completed scenes or had ideas for new ones I'd often chat with Cynus via text or once a phone call. Communication is essential, for me, to create in a situation like that. I didn't feel a great deal of pressure as Cynus was involved in my idea process and read things as they got done. As far as what attracted me to them, I've read most of Cynus's work and given him critiques as well as sought critiques from him. I liked his characters and thought it would be fun to start out on the ground floor, as it were, and see if things would go like my Sanitaria Springs series. Primarily, though, I did it because Cynus is a friend and I felt I could do it. If this had been in some of his other universes, I'd have not had the ability. • Cynus Dabeagle's being a bit kind to me here. The perk of answering second is being able to read his response first, and I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity. There was a point in time where I was feeling a bit sorry for myself as an author. I felt I wasn't properly connecting to my readership, and that I wasn't having the level of success I felt capable of reaching. I kept complaining to Dabeagle about how no one ever wanted to write with my characters, and I questioned if that meant they weren't lovable enough. It sounds silly, I know, and in hindsight my mind really wasn't in the best place at the time (If you have any doubt, check out the note at the end of "Weightless"). Dabeagle knew I wanted someone to care about my work in that way, and he was generous enough with his time and talent to accommodate my self-pity. I'm grateful to him for that, even if it didn't quite pan out the way either of us expected. That was a rough time for me, and his willingness to contribute to my universe was in fact something I really needed emotionally. We'd collaborated before on Sanitaria Springs stories (where Dabeagle fell in love with one of my characters, Logan Whitmore), and working with him has always been fairly natural. With respect to the world/setting, I gave him fairly loose rein. The only areas which became tricky at all involved his use of my characters, but through extensive communication I think we handled that very smoothly. Shane and Parker are delightful--I have a soft spot for Parker especially--and I think they play well with my characters. For the record, if anyone else wants to consider a collaboration (or sponsored fanfiction) in my worlds, please feel free to talk to me about it. My characters always need friends, and if you're as good at collaboration as Dabeagle, we'll create another great story like "The List". • • • • • @MythOfHappiness Although no stranger to prose, MythOfHappiness has delighted many a reader with poetry. In my continuing effort to highlight GA poets, here’s another one for you. • You write so beautifully in poetry about images and experiences common to so many of us. Do you see poetry as a way to tell stories and share experiences? What led you to share your gift for image and word in poetry with everyone? • I write because it makes me happy. I can't really do anything else artistically, I don't play any musical instruments, I can't draw worth anything... writing is kind of all I have. I publish on here because I want to improve at writing and because if I didn't, I wouldn't ever finish anything I started. My drive at home is half-full of stories and poems I began to write but never finished. I'm not good at ending things, I guess. Thanks for asking. You're the first person to ever do so, and it really surprised me when I opened my GA account today.
  10. I can't believe it's already March. Not only that, but it's the first Wednesday of the month, which can only mean one thing. It's time for another Ask An Author feature provided to us by Dark. If you have questions you want to ask your favorite authors, but don't want to ask the questions yourself, you can always send your questions to Dark for inclusion in the Ask An Author feature. Ask an Author #47 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #46, we heard from authors Comicality, Mann Ramblings, Mikiesboy, and Parker Owens. Today in AtA #47 we hear again from authors Riley Jericho and SkinnyDragon, plus Craftingmom, and Roberto Zuniga. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had the pleasure of quizzing lady craftingmom (way back in AtA #34, fall of 2015). She had just finished Lie of the Serpent, a story revolving around protagonist Bryan finding his missing fiance. I, like many others, found myself fighting tears several times. Craftingmom does love a good tear-jerker! Since then, she’s been promoted to Promising Author and gifted us with more than half a dozen more stories. Currently she’s working on a sequel to “Guarding the Line” called Finding the Line[/url. While I haven’t read it (you know I’m not a big fan of teen romance), the reviews are intriguing. I think everyone has had that one crush you just wish you’d said something to, but what would have happened if you’d actually gathered the courage to do so? If you have read the original, this is the same story but from the opposite point of view, and it’s just beginning! you can flip back and forth between them or read all of Brady’s story first. But buyer beware! Craftingmom writes character-driven stories. You’ll certainly feel the drama as if you were the protagonist yourself. You can also catch her at her other sites; she’s really branched out over the past few years. Look for her pen name Taylor Ryan, if you want her M/M stuff. To Craftingmom: What sort of things do you do after dealing with the darkest parts of your stories? That's a tough question. I'm not really sure I do anything specific afterwards. I do go through a bunch of tissues while writing them. I think since I tend to do most of my writing between midnight and 4am, the fact that I get to crawl in bed with my husband and cuddle up with him helps too. Before bed, my girls also crawl into my bed and beg me to read to them. Mind you, they are 13 and 15, so the fact that my 'teens' still want to be with me and have me read to them is very comforting. One other thing my husband and I usually do is, when we are eating out, if any first responders come in to eat, we'll pay for their meals. (When 12 walked in at once, that was a little more overwhelming!) It's not something I do specifically because of the dark subject matter I write, but I do think about how these people help the kinds of souls that I write about, and it's a small way of thanking them for their service. Back with us again is Author Riley Jericho, most well-known due to his epic saga An English Teen, Circumcised in the USA. Riley flirted with us for four years before finally completing his saga last fall (Sept 2016). He writes to us from all the way over there in Manchester, UK. Although a quiet, private person, Riley is quite friendly, do don’t hesitate to swing by his profile and say, wish him a belated birthday (Jan), or poke him about writing us something new, not that I’m one to talk. Still, who knows what random comment or thought will lead to the next big story? To Riley Jericho: How do you feel about your stories being so popular and well received here on GA? I'm a Brit. It's genetically impossible for us to accept compliments, so that's a tough question! The truth is, I value every chapter read, and drink in each review, answering them methodically. I love hearing what people think and it also feeds me with many new ideas. Some of my least-proud moments here on GA have been the times I've disappointed readers. I think you know what I mean, and even though my reasons and situation were very real when I disappeared for a long while, I'm also very sorry for doing that—and thanks to all who sent hugs and kept looking out for me. So in answer to your question, it astounds me that most of my readers still stuck around! And yes, I'm extremely grateful my stories are well received. That said, I've learned the lesson that you have to write because you want to. Sometimes there will be lean times when it comes to how well readers respond. It's only when the story is important to you, do you keep writing. Author Roberto Zuniga is the better half of Albertonothlit, who you might remember appearing in this blog once or twice. In addition to writing, Roberto is an amazing artist and has created book cover art for his husband. Mexico certainly has its challenges when you’re gay, but these two almost make it seem like a fairy tale. An interesting tidbit for those Star Wars fans out there: Roberto’s birthday is Star Wars Day! (May the 4th) Now you’ll always remember. According to his friends, this is one sweet man, and he can also write a mean story. Roberto has several stories that are in progress, but I think the hidden gem in his collection is Bred for War. In this story, there are two countries at war. They’ve been at war so long that their entire economy has slowly become only about the war. What will happen when two soldier-boys from opposite sides meet? They’ve been raised from birth to believe their enemy is “evil.” It’s a devilish conundrum for the main characters and the world Roberto has created makes my inner sci-fi geek purr. To Roberto Zuniga: First, congrats on your husband being promoted to Promising Author! So, when it comes to writing, have you two collaborated on projects or bounced ideas off each other? Not really. Carlos is very secretive when it comes to his writing, I think it's basically a matter of wanting everything to be perfect before he shares it with anyone, including me. I have been lucky enough to get to read many of his works before everyone else (LOL) and I've also encouraged him to carry on and publish. Take Earthshatter for instance -his new novel published by DSP-, I loved him so much I wouldn't stop bothering until he accepted to publish it LOL. Something I do have to say is I love his finished products and drawing for those projects. Regarding my writing, pfffff! I'm so messy! Ideas can flow through my mind sometimes, scenarios, particular characters. Sometimes I share some of my ideas or tell him I feel conflicted about this or that character, but he usually advises to work it the way I feel I should. We do read each other's work and encourage each other to keep on writing, since we both enjoy it so much. Author skinnydragon comes back to finish up our blog for the day. Skinny is the author behind https://www.gayauthors.org/story/skinnydragon/18weeksoftwoey]18 Weeks of Twoey and has recently begun a sequel that is generating a lot of attention. Unfortunately, Skinny received bad news at the end of 2016. Send him some love and well-wishes. I feel blessed to have been able to be on the periphery of his life the last couple years. I hope that he is able to maintain the strength of body and mind long enough to see his bucket-list completed. Headstall I think said it best: “I just want you to know, though we've never met in person, you have impacted me from the first interaction. You are one of the bright lights in my life, skinny … I wish I could hug you for real... I really do.” To skinnydragon: What motivates you to write? For example, do you hope to publish or is it simply a creative or artistic outlet? That’s a good question. It is an artistic outlet, in a way. I certainly never intend to publish - ever. I am not a writer, which should be pretty plain to any reader. I’m an artist. I was challenged by a mentor/writer, when younger, to write a back story for a few things I painted. In doing so, I discovered it helped improve everything I subsequently drew. Now I do it all the time and they have become the germs for a few story ideas. Some stories may even get written and make the journey from my laptop to GA. 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! I’ll see you next time, with authors JackBinimbul, mikiesboy, palantir, and WolfM! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  11. My threat to ask myself questions in a previous entry sparked the following from a GA member: A question or two for you... Or for anyone else with a long-running saga. How do you keep track of everyone? And indeed everything they do? Do you just remember, write notes in a separate file, rely on your beta-reader to keep you on the straight and narrow? Do you ever mix characters up, giving them characteristics belonging to someone else? I decided to accept the invitation to share the question with others and approached the authors of the two longest series on Gay Authors: @Mark Arbour and @Bill W. • • • With sixteen books and nearly four million words, Mark Arbour’s Chronicles of an Academic Predator is a series of historical fiction spanning the late twentieth century and early twenty-first. The author was gracious enough to reply to the question. • I have a really good feel for my characters and their personalities, so I really don't have to worry about losing track of that aspect. When I'm writing, I periodically go back and re-read prior books, and that helps keep me in their heads. That being said, I'm not very good with details. That's where my writing team and my readers help keep me on track. In addition to editing, my team will point out any inconsistencies or grievous errors. With the CAP series, for example, Jeremy (Methodwriter) has been instrumental in watching out for important dates (Iike birthdays) and even set up a reference topic on my forum. My readers have also been amazingly helpful. In the past, when I've had questions about something (like how many people did this character have sex with?), they've jumped in to do the research for me. • • • Bill W’s The Castaway Hotel follows the life of Josh and the children he provides shelter for. At eleven books and nearly two million words, the saga is the second longest one on Gay Authors. Here’s his reply to the question. • I keep notes in a document/file pertaining to the characters, specifically ages and any other information that might change as my story The Castaway Hotel progresses, but mostly I know the characters and their personalities, so I depend on my memory for the most part. I also keep a document with a synopsis of each chapter for easier reference, especially if I need to go back and check to make sure what I'm writing is in agreement with what I've already written. I also rely heavily on my beta(s) and editor to catch any slip-ups I might make, although sometimes the readers still catch things we've missed. • • • I guess it’s my turn. • Excel is my best friend. I have a file with multiple spreadsheets I use to keep track of several things including characters. Name, nickname, physical characteristics, date and place of birth, education, and myriad other things. The more important the character is, the more information I keep. Some of the minor characters have no more than a first name and a few words on who they are. Something like Georgetown Cupcakes baker. Considering I have named around 250 named characters so far, it’s the only way I can track everyone. My team also helps. Mann, Kitt, and Reader1810 have caught me mixing things up a few times. Particularly Reader since she gets to beta read an early draft of each chapter. • • • That’s all, folks. See ya next month.
  12. Welcome to a special edition of Ask an Author. Some members may not realize the individuals who help Gay Authors thrive are themselves authors. Most of them have stories on the site. My thanks to Renee Stevens for the suggestion leading to this blog entry. @Renee Stevens provided the inspiration for this edition of Ask an Author so let’s start with her. Im hoping she gets to read this before Baby J comes bounding out! This is her take on an issue that has been previously discussed on Gay Authors. • For any of the lady staffers who write the stories: I've always wondered how straight ladies got into writing gay fiction. Not sure I've ever seen it asked. • • I can't talk for all the straight women who write in the M/M genre, I can only speak for myself. I can't even remember how I got into reading the genre, but I became part of a gay fiction group and met some wonderful people. At the time, I was writing M/F romance and a couple of my new friends read what I wrote, but other than that, I never really shared my writing. The more I read, and the more I saw how supportive the group was, the more I thought about trying my hand at M/M romance, especially as I had the people available and willing to answer any questions I might have. My first story, Eternity, was received rather well, and those I had read it had no problem telling me if I had something wrong, or if my characters weren't acting or doing like they should. After I finished Eternity, I wasn't really sure if I had done the story justice, but the community I had become involved in was so supportive and encouraged me to write my next novel, Puppy Love. After that, I never looked back. • • • @Cia's name has been known to strike fear in many an author. She’s the gatekeeper when it comes to moderated stories and has the difficult task of sifting through posts by newer contributors. I’m not going to lie and say she’s a pussycat; I’ve suffered the pain of her communications. However, she’s a talented, published author with plenty of experience under her belt. I bristled at her comments on my first ever anthology submission, but once I calmed down, I took her criticism to heart and my writing’s better because of it. She can critique my work any time she wants. • You write in a bunch of different genres. What is your favorite genre to write and what is your favorite story of yours in that genre? • • I'm an eclectic writer as well as reader. I like to try a little bit of everything, and generally enjoy most of it, because, helloooo, we're talking books! I love the written word, to the point I have an appointment next month to get a tattoo of a multicolored galaxy coming out of an opened book and the quote "open books lead to open minds". That's also a pretty good indicator of my favorite genre, which is definitely science fiction. I'm a huge geek when it comes to research (though I sometimes play a little fast and loose with actual science as it morphs into fiction) and I love creating alien worlds and species. And when I write sci-fi, I feel more creative and inspired, so writing flows easier for me too. As for my favorite book... that is so much harder to decide, and I could never pick just one book or author! The genre leads to stories that are all so different, and I enjoy them for those differences. I began my journey through alien worlds on dragonback and singing ships with Anne McCaffrey, and she remains one of my favorite authors of all time, but the intriguing concepts and complex societies spanning the universe in Dune by Frank Herbert really cemented my love of the genre when I was twelve. If I had to pick my favorite MM authors who've written science fiction eBooks I love, I'd have to say it's a tie between M.A. Church and Lexi Ander. All of those worlds and styles I've read over the years have influenced me, and I think one of my favorite worlds and stories is one I've barely written, actually. Coupled in Synchronicity was a short story for an anthology where I played with Jung's theory of synchronicity in a sci-fi theme setting. Writing it led to a plot bunny of epic novel proportions that I still can't decide how to write. A romance? A bromance? Post it free? Expand my publishing to more traditional publishers and try my hand with a 'nomance' at all story? Do one of the first two options and self-publish? Until I figure that out, I just can't seem to get going on the story since the two main characters' relationship has to be defined first. But that would be the first chapter of the story, so everyone can check it out and share their thoughts with me! . • • • @Graeme, one of our prolific Aussie authors, has over fifty stories on GA. He’s recently begun posting the fourth installment of his Lilydale Leopards series; if you’re not familiar with his Aussie Rules Football team, you should be. I’ve enjoyed following the antics of the delightful cast of characters. • With the release of new Leopard story I’m curious. Graeme has very detailed storylines... How do you go about planning a Leopard story? How long is the process? • • Actually, it's more the research that takes the time than the planning. The planning is usually restricted to working out some major events and how I want the story to end, and that's about it. When I write, I simply head the story in the direction of the first major event and see what happens. The writing is a discovery process for myself, too! While it may look like I have things plotted out, one of my talents is furious rationalisation after the event. I can usually come up with a reason for something that justifies what's happened before. My favourite example is Matt's motivation for his behaviour in Heart of The Tree. When that motivation is revealed, it ties everything back to the start of the story, and looks like it was all planned, but it wasn't. I came up with that motivation when I was writing that late chapter. Research is where I tend to go overboard. For example, I went down to the level of identifying which California district Mason's mother represented in the Assembly, and which Congressional district she was running for in the primaries. They're not mentioned explicitly in the story, but that research gave me demographics, crime rates, historical voting patterns, the distance to the school that Mason intended to go to, etc. And that's only one of the items that I've researched during the writing of the story! • • • @Myr is probably missing chunks of hair from pulling them out while dealing with software update issues. Although most of his time is dedicated to the nuts and bolts of running our favorite site, he’s also an author. His Harry Potter fanfic and Science Fiction stories are a treat. However, the question we’ve asked him to answer gives us a bit more background on GA’s boss man. • First, thank you for all that you do for us at GA. I can’t impress how much your efforts and that of the team mean to us. We’ve been learning a lot more about you recently, with the blogs and such. The world building in your Sci-fi and magical realms is nothing short of amazing. However, this question is not about your writing. We know you have an extensive and varied book collection so, tell us, what is the most ridiculous fact you know? Tell us something we’d be surprised to learn about you • • I haven't really ever talked about it on GA, but I've been obsessed with trains of all sorts since I could walk and talk. To the point that I spent several hours while at Disney World, chasing the train and monorails around getting pictures. Or in the case of the Monorail, back when it was still allowed, getting video from the front seat up with the driver. A fair few of my books are dedicated to trains and model railroading as well. I'm currently working on a very sizable room so I can build a very sizable model train empire. It's a great hobby for getting away from the stress of things. • • • @Mann Ramblings is a man of many talents and I have a soft spot for him. Get your minds out of the gutter! He took a chance on a newbie author and any success I’ve had with my writing owes a lot to his patience and guidance. I’m giving him some time off so we can hopefully have something new from him in the near future. (I know I’m gonna pay for the time off comment.) I’m stretching the staff definition to include him since he’s a member of the GA promotions team. • I noticed you are using a different name on other sites. Is J. Alan Veerkamp your real one? If not, how come the change in pseudonyms? • • J. Alan Veerkamp is a new pen name I created after a discussion with my new publisher. There was some concern that having a pen name like Mann Ramblings which is a play on words, might make my writing seem less serious to the main public. So with that in mind, I put together the new name which is a combination of aspects of mine and my mother's maiden name. I did it to honor the side of my family where all my creativity comes from and who have given me unwavering support in all of my endeavors. In spite of it all, I decided not to change my identity on GA, because I didn't want to create additional confusion and I didn't see the need on the site that started it all. • • • That’s it for this month. Remember to send me any questions you may have for GA authors, and I’ll do my best to get them answered for you.
  13. May Day! May Day! I’m floundering, here. I know April has thirty days. So thinking the first Wednesday in May was next week was a total brain fart. My apologies for the late posting and the brevity of this issue. Coffee has yet to properly do its job. A member sent me a question and suggested I ask it of either Cia or Mann Ramblings. Not one to waste an opportunity, I approached both. @Cia You are an artist in many forms, be it the written word, photography, sculpting, painting, etc. Does your art of writing influence your art of other mediums? Or vice versa? Yes, it does, actually. Photography/digital art and writing are both creative outlets for me. I often pair them, using art for scene inspiration or published works. I love to take photos of the beautiful locale I live in, but hot gay men draped over each other are seriously lacking in my real life, lol. In all seriousness, the saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I'm always striving to find the ideal angle to capture a beautiful shot or the most expressive language to share a scene. Whether what I see is in front of me or in my mind, the goal is to use the most visceral, the most real, language or viewpoint to paint a picture that pulls others in and enables them to feel. Photography isn't easy, but writing is even harder. If I do that just once with one reader in a whole story, I'm ecstatic. @Mann Ramblings You are an artist in many forms, be it the written word, photography, sculpting, painting, etc. Does your art of writing influence your art of other mediums? Or vice versa? The answer is kind of yes and no at the same time. While I've drawn character sketches of my cast (some have ended up in GA's gallery) I don't make fanart of my work per se. I have a fascination with Victorian imagery which I will incorporate into ceramic design or decorate pieces with steampunk themes, but I don't make them to go along with my ongoing stories. For example, I don't make mugs with quotes from my stories on them, no matter how cool they might be. (The context would be lost for most of my customers.) There's no way to say my different media don't cross-influence one another. I think it's less of a conscious decision and more of directing one another into color pallets, literary genres, and visual elements. Sometimes I make pottery with book/library graphics on them, so it's all connected, I think. @Thorn Wilde is a long-time member who’s also a musician. I felt they would fit well into this crowd of authors. In much of your recent work, including stories, poetry and blog posts, you champion the importance of (and struggles with) transgender/non-binary inclusion. This is a subject not discussed a whole lot on GA. What are the biggest challenges you see in writing about this subject? What are the biggest rewards? Oh, that's a great question! I guess the biggest challenge is approaching it in a way that people understand. There are a lot of readers, especially older readers, who don't really have a concept of what transgender means, let alone non-binary or genderqueer. There's a lot of misrepresentation, inaccuracy and simplification when the media presents trans identities, a lot of sensationalism and so on. Which is, of course, why I think it's so important to write about it in the first place, to try and get around the stereotypes and the misunderstandings. I kind of see it as my duty to educate, because someone has to, and that requires a certain amount of patience, which can be very challenging in and of itself. I muddle through, though. The reward is when a reader says, this is something I never thought about but I get it now. Knowing that I reached someone who would otherwise not have thought about the issue much feels really good. Then I feel like I've accomplished something important, and it gives me a reason to go on doing what I'm doing. And, on a more personal level, perhaps people understand me better as a result, too. And maybe, just maybe, by talking about it and putting it out there, it may help someone else come to terms with their own gender identity. It took me a long time to understand how and why I feel the way I feel, and I did so largely because other people talked about it and gave me the language to put my own feelings into words. If I can pay it forward and help someone else do the same, then that's the greatest reward I can think of. @Wayne Gray, in contrast, is one of our newest members. His first story garnered a large response and earned him instant fans. Y’all keep sending in questions for him so we can get to know him better. Okay? As a newbie to GA, you've already made a big impression with Guarded and your latest piece, Silverwolf. You write characters who are very believable/relatable but also have unique, and sometimes quirky, characteristics, which is one of the draws to your stories. What is your creative process for developing your characters and bringing them to life? First, I'm flattered that anyone would want to know about my process. Thanks for that! For characterization, I start with a blueprint based on someone I've met. I amplify certain traits, mute others to turn my character into someone new. I've found starting with a real person gives me inborn attributes with which to work. Karen in the coffee shop in Guarded is one of those quirky characters. She's wildly goodnatured, bubbly, and has an infectious joy about her. I had a lot of readers "warn" me not to hurt her during the process of Guarded's plot. I consider that a successful character. There's more to it than starting with that base model. Before I begin anything at all I think about the "roles" in the story I want to tell. Protagonists, antagonists, side players, red herrings, flavor only, allies - these are all categories make it onto my character tracking sheet. If you're really interested in that, then I'll link it so you can see it. BEWARE: There are spoilers on the sheet! Don't click it if you actually want to be surprised by the twists and turns of Guarded. Guarded Character and Resource Sheet Thanks again for your interest. I look forward to posting many more stories on GA. That’s it for this month. I promise to start working on the next issue today, but you can help ensure it’s a good one. Send me your questions!
  14. And we’re back! My inventory of questions is rapidly diminishing and unless I get some new ones, I may start making some up for myself. You wouldn’t want that would you? Pick an author we haven’t featured, ask a question, and let’s see what they have to say. Aren’t you curious about what type of sneakers someone wears? Or maybe how they go about naming chapters or characters? Anything except for XXX matters is fair game. @Hunter Thomson has agreed to a return engagement. Our politician/jock from the Great White North was gracious enough to share a bit more about himself. • Your stories tend to have a sporting theme or background, is this a reflection of your own experiences in high school? In other words, were you, or are you still a sportsman or like most of us, an armchair fan? • The short answer is yes, this is a reflection of my experiences in high school. I started playing baseball when I was four years old, and I retired from the sport once my high school days were over, as I did not make the cut on the university team I tried out for. I spend most of my curling now, and I've been doing that for the past fifteen years. There's no plans to write a curling based story right now, I don't think there's enough of a market for it either on Gay Authors or in the world at large, although I suppose if I did write a gay curling romance it would be the best-seller (only seller?) in its field. I'm actually heading to my third regional playdowns the December 9-11 weekend, so I still play rather competitively. • You can find Hunter’s stories here: https://www.gayauthors.org/author/hunter-thomson/ • • • • • @northie also returns for her second appearance in the rebooted Ask an Author. If you haven’t been following her Never Too Late, I suggest you check it out. Fairly well written, the story’s a look at the budding friendship between an older gay man and a younger one. No, you pervs, it’s not about sex. It’s about the plight of a closeted man in the sunset of his life. • Short stories seem to be your forte and you definitely have the knack, but it can be a challenge for a lot of authors to tell a complete story in a limited amount of words. I think that it takes a certain amount of discipline to write short stories; are you naturally quite a disciplined person? • Thanks for the compliment. Am I self-disciplined? Yes and no … If I'm working to any kind of deadline (at home or in my job), then, yes, I can be disciplined in how I operate. Otherwise, I'm dreadful. 'Tomorrow' is one of my favourite words. I aim to write something every day, whether that's original writing, writing up, editing, or otherwise making alterations. As for the stories, mine vary wildly in length. The shortest is 500 words ('An Uncommon Daisy') and the longest is something over 16,000 ('The Bard's Tale'). When there is an actual word limit imposed (as some of Cia's writing games do), that certainly adds self-discipline into the equation – the story can't just run its course, but must be planned, then contained, refined, reduced as necessary. • You can find northie’s stories here: https://www.gayauthors.org/author/northie/ • • • • • @MacGreg continues the trend. This is the second time we hear from him in the past few months. Previously, we heard about his story Dissonance. Mac’s one of those gifted authors who share stories and poems and this time around he talks about his poetry. • You write both prose and poetry. What do you feel that poetry does for you as an artist/author that prose doesn't? • Good question. Writing prose is creating a story. It involves building a scene, developing characters, pulling the reader into the moment and letting them stay there for a while as the plot unfolds. Like most authors, writing prose gives me a platform to express myself and create fictional people, places, and experiences to share with others. Poetry is a similar outlet for me – but the impetus for writing it comes from a very different place. It derives from a deeper, unconscious source and is much more emotion-driven. It allows me to express myself in a less-structured way than prose (I tend to forego poetry patterns like rhyme, line length, and meter - sorry, poets). Because of this free-form style, I’m able to expel what I’m feeling in short order, sort of like purging something. Get it out, move on, and maybe a few readers will find value in it along the way. • You can find Mac’s work here: https://www.gayauthors.org/author/macgreg/ • • • • • @AC Benus takes the prize, this is the third time he gets featured. I may be renaming the blog Ask AC if this continues. Not only is the man from San Francisco a prolific author, his fans are prolific inquisitors. • Among the 58 stories and poems that you have posted on GA are a few of screenplays. You have a done a remarkable job, but what made you decide to attempt these in the first place and how difficult were they to write? • Like most of us, I was exposed to Moby-Dick in high school, and lucky for me, one of the scenes we studied in detail is the overtly homoerotic “Counterpane” chapter. This is where the two heroes of the book wind up in bed and consummate a marriage as true and inspiring as any in literature. So years later, one day browsing the shelves of my local used book seller, I happened on an edition of the book Melville published right after Moby-Dick. As I was expecting an enjoyable read, I was completely befuddled by Pierre, or the Ambiguities. It was dense – so dense, I felt like a dunce – and I gave up trying to read it, even though I hate to lose any battle. After a while, I settled on a way to conquer Pierre; I would read Melville’s novels from the beginning. I found a copy of Typee (published when he was 24) and was off. If I thought Moby-Dick was open about its portrayal of same-sex love, I was blown away by the male couple in Typee. The book was a phenomenon when originally published, and Melville feared he’d only be remembered for having written it. As far as my filmscripts on GA, I suppose I’m still surprised when people tell me screenplays So, long story short, I did read all of author’s novels in sequence until I was finally able to return to Pierre. My strategy worked, as I could now breeze through this very challenging book. But after I was finished, I wanted to bring the remarkable sequence to life for others. That’s when I hit upon doing screenplays, and organizing them so they tell Melville’s own story, from being a ship’s ‘boy’ at age 19, until the devastatingly negative reviews came in for Moby-Dick’s open and far-too homoerotic love story. Are they difficult to write? I would say they are a fun challenge to write. Most films unfold over a sequence of 8 to 10 large sections, or Parts. Once you get in the mindset of seeing tales developed this way, it helps you structure novels you wish to write as well. There are several online guides on how to start, but be aware, there is an almost Byzantine code of do-and-don’ts to learn and keep in your head. Nonetheless, I’d recommend the exercise to any writer looking to expand their abilities. As far as my filmscripts on GA, I suppose I’m still surprised when people tell me screenplays are difficult to read. They are like any other form: you start at the top and read your way down the page. Scripts are meant to be evocative too, so you should be able to see the scene as if watching a movie unfurl. • You can read some of those countless posts here: https://www.gayauthors.org/author/ac-benus/ • • • • • We’ll see you back next month but only if you send me enough questions to pass along.
  15. Wow, July is gone and August has started. In Canada, the first week of September is considered the end of summer. No matter where you are, let's make the most of August! Currently I'm on vacation , so a big thanks to Cia for running the stories Saturday night and putting them in and publishing the wrap up! Monday, Cia started the close of the month with the CSR Discussion Day: Wednesday, Carlos brought us another edition of Ask an Author 2.0: Friday, I was a bit late featuring the Prompts, but CIA had them up nice and early. Anthologies 2018 Fall Anthology: Fight Back - Due Nov 15th 2018 Fall Anthology: Good Intentions - Due Nov 15th Blog Opportunities Story Critique: Open to all GA authors. Sign up here. Ask An Author: Send your questions for your favorite authors to @Carlos Hazday (no questions = no Ask An Author) Story Recommendations: Open to all GA authors & readers. PM your recommendation and why you recommend it to a Site Admin. Premium Updates: Harbinger by Cia *Premium* Classic Updates: Conversations With Myself by Altimexis Mark's Revenge by Ronyx Wild Heart by Dabeagle Signature Updates: Aria Graice by Nephylim Clouded Purity by Cynus; Book 2 of The Trial Denied by Cia Dinner is Prompt-ly at Eight by Cole Matthews Leopard Hunt by Graeme; Book 4 of The Lilydale Leopards Mojo by AC Benus The Angel of Retribution by CarlHoliday Translation Trashbin by AC Benus; Book 7 of Verse Promising Updates: Here Kitty, Kitty by Caz Pedroso The Cockney Canuck by Dodger tim's Bits and Pieces by Mikiesboy ***Check out this GA Classic*** Escaping the Pain By Cia When things go wrong what would you do to get away? Dane tries to escape by running but something stops him. Is there a better way? Don't forget.... Read, Write, and REVIEW!!!
  16. I can't believe it's already time for our December Ask An Author feature! This year just seems to have flown by and now it's almost over. The next Ask An Author will be the start of a new year! If you have a question that you'd like to ask a specific author, but don't want to do the actual asking, then send your question to Dark! I hope you enjoy this edition of Ask An Author, and a big THANK YOU to Dark for continuing to provide these. Ask an Author #45 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #44, the blog was all about Dayne Mora. Today, we go back to our regular programming. In AtA #45 we hear from authors albertnothlit, Nephylim, Riley Jericho, and skinnydragon. Today’s first author is no stranger to this blog. Promoted to Promising Author status back in May 2016, Albert has had a busy year filled with stories, moving, and winning a silver medal in 2016’s FAPA President's awards (you may have seen that announcement back in August). Not one but two books were picked up and published by DSP Pulications, an off-shoot of Dreamspinner Press. Check out his website for more info. He’s also publishing a new story here on GA called Life Seed with 36 chapters between January and September. Like much of his other work, Life Seed is sci-fi. Albert writes powerful and intriguing characters in some utterly bizarre and yet fascinating settings. I’m dying – dying! – waiting to find out what new twist is coming up next, but sometimes life gives you a kick in the pants and it takes awhile to recover. Send some warm wishes his way and let’s hope we see Albert back again in the new year. To albertnothlit: Do you prefer to publish chapter by chapter and see where the story flows in response to readers, or do you complete most or all of a story before posting? In an ideal world, I usually prefer to have the entire story written out, edited, and proofread, before I publish it. That was the case with the very first stories I published here on GA, and it allowed me time to really look at reader feedback and figure out which things needed attention and which things I had done correctly, having the entire big picture of the completed story. Alas, nowadays I no longer work like that because life has gotten in the way. Since I don't have as much time anymore, what I will do is capture the essence of a story by writing a few chapters on my own before posting for the first time. Then, I will write the story chapter by chapter, as fast as time and my job will allow, while simultaneously working with editors or beta readers to polish chapters before they see the light of day. I would say both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. Writing week by week is a great way for new ideas to flourish, and take the story in unexpected directions. I have found that by writing in this way, creativity is maximized because you have so much more time to think about the story, even if it's just on the back of your mind while you're doing other things. I will very often be surprised with the direction the story has taken after having been constantly writing it for more than, say, three months, which is entirely different from simply sitting down and finishing an entire novella or short story in one week. I enjoy both ways of working, but nowadays I write in little batches, read feedback, and carry on! 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! 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: I know you deal a lot with issues of gender fluidity. Does this stem from your background in anyway? And do you think by having more stories involving people who don't fit the same mold that others are used to seeing, that perhaps they'll gain greater acceptance in the so-called normal world? I'm absolutely on a crusade to make sure every single young person can find a character to relate to. There are more out there than I thought mostly, I have to say, in young adult/new adult books. My next goal is to get them out of the LGBT niche and into the mainstream. I'm only one person but I think people are beginning to get the message because I've been banging on about it for a long time. I very much hope there are others out there doing the same thing. My characters are always out of the ordinary in one way or another. Recently I've been writing a lot about mental health issues which is in the realm of personal experience, and I suspect I will continue to have elements of that in my work. I like to worked with flawed characters, to show that not only perfect people deserve their own story and their Happy Ever After. As for gender fluidity - all I will say is that I have experience of elements of that in my own life. I've never met anyone quite as fluid as Ari, for example, but most of the trans/gender fluid people I know are pretty comfortable in their own skins and therefore easy to be around and to talk to We were just talking about this guy, not too long ago: Riley Jericho, author of An English Teen, Circumcised in the USA, the longest single story on GA. Although the story is now complete, interest is still strong, as you’ve seen with all the questions for the author. Now we can only wonder what Riley will write for us next! To Riley Jericho: Regarding An English Teen Circumcised in the U.S.A.: Circumcision, especially of teen boys, is an usual topic. Why did you choose it as the focus of your story? Lol! Well there certainly hasn't been much competition for the theme, that's for sure! There's a lot of cultural perspectives that play into circumcision as well, and, let's face it, not everyone is comfortable with the theme. Concluding things today is everyone’s favorite classical music-loving reptile, Author skinnydragon. This cool Canadian concluded his young adult story Toph’s Empty Year in November and has now gifted us with The Valedictorian. This new story is also young adult, with two teens in love dealing with life apart at different colleges. It’s a dilemma which plagues many high school seniors and college kids, so there’s a great opportunity here to ponder the “what ifs” that Skinny is bringing out in his story. And, in case you missed it, this story is something of a sequel to 18 Weeks of Twoey. So, if you were in love with those characters, then this story should charm you as well. To skinnydragon: You seem really good at describing your characters as being at the center of a network of friends and relationships. Do you conceive of these webs first, or do they grow organically as you write your story? In Twoey, David’s gang and the relationships among its members were pretty much worked out first, as the axis around which the story could build. Other webs, such as Matty’s little nebula of boys, grew organically. On the other hand, in Toph, the friends Nico and Austin, were originals. I thought more would develop from them, but it didn’t happen, even though their ghosts sort of followed Toph to New Glory. All the friends and relationships in New Glory grew as the story did - except for Gary. 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! I’ll see you next time, with authors Comicality, Mann Ramblings, mikiesboy, and Parker Owens! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  17. It's time for the first Ask An Author of 2017! Typically this would have been posted in January, but there were a few hiccups, so you're getting it now. Better late than never! If you have a question that you'd like to ask a specific author, but don't want to do the actual asking, then send your question to Dark! I hope you enjoy this edition of Ask An Author, and a big THANK YOU to Dark for continuing to provide these. Ask an Author #46 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #45, we heard from authors albertnothlit, Nephylim, Riley Jericho, and skinnydragon. Today in AtA #46 we hear from authors Comicality, Mann Ramblings, Mikiesboy, and Parker Owens. Signature Author and founding member Comicality start us off once again in today’s blog. Comsie has an enviable success, continuing to churn out story after story without fail. He’s more reliable than many cell phones. We’re at over a hundred stories right now, go ahead and ask him what his secret is. Better yet, stop by his forum. Comsie can often be found refusing to give spoilers and discussing plot arcs. His most recent story is Release Me, a story with only 600-ish reviews, quite low by Comsie standards. Perhaps it’s the holiday season or perhaps the zombies, or maybe the teenagers are throwing folks off. You’ll never know unless you give it a try! You know Comsie won’t let you down. To Comicality: Are you planning to offer Cody (#NKIS) a spinoff, a story of his own? Actually, there have been some requests to get a peek into Cody and Sean's relationship from interested readers, as well as the relationship with his sister, Ronnie, and his foster parents who took them in. However, there aren't any big plans for Cody to have a solo series just yet. That's not to say 'never', but I don't have any plans for it so far. Mostly because I'm enjoying having a little bit of mystery to Cody's character right now. As long as everybody gets to see him from an outsider's point of view, I get to reveal little bits and pieces of Cody's personality and his past as he becomes more comfortable, and (dare I say it) a bit more vulnerable about offering it up. I think it makes for good storytelling. But, like I said, I never say never. And folks are definitely interested in seeing a Cody story. So who knows? It might just pop up somewhere out of nowhere. Maybe my muse will put me in a chokehold and tell me to do it some time in the future. Hehehe! Another Signature Author in today’s blog is Mann Ramblings. At 12 stories and half a million words since 2012, Mann has definitely overcome his nerves about posting his thoughts online for everyone to see. Recently, Mann has become a published author and you can check out more of his work on Amazon. He also has something of a wacky sense of humor, for those of you new to his style. His most recent story on GA is the second half of Innocence and Carnality. This is the continuing story of Nathan and Rother, a somewhat historical, somewhat sci-fi tale with that guy we’ve all learned to dislike as more and more of his character has been revealed. What’s next for these two? Before you venture into this one, you’ll definitely want to read Part One first. To Mann Ramblings: What has been your most difficult character or story to write and why? And also, will we see a sequel to So Little Magic? I think Kenrick from So Little Magic Left was one of the hardest because of his complexity. I had to hide his true nature, show his gentile qualities while allowing his sadistic side to surface, and make his obsession with Shawn almost romantic at times even though we know how bad the whole situation could be. On top of all that, I needed him to sound real enough for people to hate and not turn into some caricature or cartoon. He received a nomination for best villain that year, so I feel like I managed it fairly well. One of the things I loved about SLML, (after all the work and frustration when I couldn't touch it for months at a time) was that it felt complete when I typed "The End" and hadn't planned on extending the story. I say that, but I can't say the possibility of a sequel is zero. You never know when inspiration strikes. I still have a lot of love in me for this story. Canadian author Mikiesboy joins us in today’s blog. Although he calls himself a poet, Timmy has several items written in prose now. Much of his work (prose and poetry) is gritty and achingly close to real life, but they’re also wonderful and full of characters you can’t help but love. Take The Pledge, for example. It’s an intriguing twist on the standard vampire-master & servant story. There are so many ways to interpret this story and the dissenting opinions are just as interesting to me as the story itself. You may be familiar with After the Past, a story about how one thing can change a person’s whole life forever. For me it was a real tear-jerker but there’s no denying that Timmy can write a character that sticks with you long after the last word is read. To Mikiesboy: Since you have expressed yourself in both poetry and fiction, have you ever considered or would you ever consider writing a story focused around a poet? Are there any connecting factors between your poetry and your fiction? Ummm, never thought about writing about a story focused around a poet. Interesting idea. I'll mull that over. Are there connecting factors between my poetry and fiction? I'd have to say no, not really. My non-fiction yes, somewhat. Poetry is my way of sorting out my feelings and my world. I suppose I might apply some of that to my fictional characters but it's nothing I plan for. Author Parker Owens makes his blog debut today as we finish things up. Besides posting his stories and poetry, Parker is also posts pictures of his beautiful garden from this past summer. Most people know Parker from his story A to Z. It’s certainly a dark tale; it gets darker and darker and every time you think things couldn’t possibly get worse, something even more awful happens. But eventually rock-bottom is reached and things start to look up for our main character. It’s fascinating to see how Andy views the world and finds his own way to happiness. Most recently there’s Predator Prey, a story that I think is even darker than A to Z. At this point in the story, it’s hard to see where things are going but Parker keeps a lively discussion going in the forums. I’m still hoping for a happily ever after, but I’m also the kind of person who can’t help but root for the anti-hero. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Parker has in store for us. To Parker Owens: One of the things I pick up on when reading your stories and poems, is your love for math and science. What got you interested in these subjects in the first place? It's funny to get this question because I came to love math and science much later in life than many do. I was not a particularly good math or science student in grade school or high school. College and university changed that; I had one extraordinarily gifted math professor in a calculus course I had to take as a required general education credit. He showed those of us in the 8:00 AM class that mathematics was both interesting and comprehensible to mere mortals like ourselves. He gave me the confidence to try for a math teaching job. My transformation into a math nerd soon followed. I find that simple, genuine encouragement is often the spark that ignites the fires of creativity and intelligence. This is one reason I find GA to be such a wonderful community, as I have found the same degree of welcome and encouragement to exist here. Because it’s the perfect tie-in for today’s blog, I have a bonus for you: another question for Parker! You have graced us with some wonderful stories. But in a few, there have been brutally long and brutally describe periods before the protagonist is saved or redeemed. 'AtoZ' and 'Predator' immediately come to mind. My question is, how does such depth of depravity even get into your thinking? Writing for Predator Prey, and especially for the predator character, was a real struggle. I spent a lot of time trying to write in the point of view for such an unappealing individual, that I tied myself in knots several times. The result was shorter, more condensed chapters. I could not face extended contact with him or his business. Afterwards, I would want to write something gentler and brighter. But the question of whether such a character can experience change kept drawing me back. Can he be redeemed or find a new and better direction? That's a critical question to me. The search for that answer kept me going on with the draft, rather than discarding it. 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! I’ll see you next time, with authors Craftingmom and Roberto Zuniga joining Riley Jericho and SkinnyDragon! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  18. Who's ready for this month's popular feature, Ask An Author. This month is all about Dayne Mora. A quick reminder: Dark can only continue this feature providing they have the content. Dark is running out of questions, and that's where you come in. Don't forget to send questions for your favorite author so that we can keep this feature going!!!! Ask an Author #44 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #43, we had questions for authors Mann Ramblings, Mikiesboy, Riley Jericho, and Wolfm. Before we begin, let me take a moment to say that for the first time in a really long while, I’m running low on questions to ask our dear authors. Got one? Send it my way! Now, it’s that time of year again! Some time ago I decided that to keep this blog series interesting, I’d do a special edition every once in a while. This is a blog number divisible by 11! In the past, other special editions have had extra authors and different question styles … This time, I decided to feature only one author: Dayne Mora. Dayne is an interesting person in a lot of ways, but was chosen this time around because she just lacks that certain something, that gene that allows us to know when to, well, to shut up. Dayne, you know I adore you, but we have this … thing, between us that we (and by “we” I mean “you”) can’t seem to stop. The rambling, rambling, rambling. Dayne says: “Yeah.......I can get a bit chatty. Teacher thing, I guess. But, captive audience AND I get to talk no stop? Bring it on!” Sure, you’re popular. You’re “unstoppable” in fact, even though you only have something like 200 people hanging on your every word and 30,000 people stopping in to read every time you post something, as if they like your writing or something. But can we, like, just … stop? So much writing! There aren’t enough hours in the day to edit it all. And it was question, question, question, everyone wanting to ask the amazing Dayne Mora a question! What’s a person to do? Besides roasting her a little, I decided to publish all my Dayne questions all in one go. For the few of you who don’t know who this “Dayne” person is, you might have seen her in chat, since she’s a moderator, there to smack you if you get out of line. Though only a member for not-quite a year, Dayne’s been writing for awhile. She’s also a Texan. Anyway, Dayne birthday is coming up next month, as is her anniversary here at GA. Dayne is in fact a high school teacher, English, or should I say was? For reasons that we won’t go into here, Dayne is stepping away from education for the next little while. Perhaps she’ll put that pseudonym to good use… Dayne says: "Dayne Mora" is based on the pseudonym that I was going to publish a tell-all memoir under. Couldn't remember if it was "Dana Moore" or "Mora Dane." Fun Fact--my real name is even more strange and pretentious, and takes up two lines on my social security card besides. Don’t forget the very understanding hubby, Dayne’s fur-babies, and her deep love for Publix (Dayne’s originally from Florida, which … Florida? to Texas? ). But Dayne’s also something of a comedian and a poet. Seriously, I about busted a gut reading the blog entry “Dayne vs fitbit or a conversation with my glorified pedometer.” In one word: shake-weight. Okay, that’s technically two words, but, hey, I only learned about the “shake-weight” thing in early October and it’s still funny to me. (I know, living under a rock, so sue me). And then of course there’s Wolf like Me. Readers know all about this story. It used to be called “Efrain and Cory.” It’s a little bit teen fiction, little bit drama, little bit tongue-in-cheek, and lots of really smooth, delightful dialogue. The sequel, Wild Card starts shortly after “Wolf…” and throws you into the deep end right away. With only 5 chapters but 55 reviews …! Readers are really loving this one. I don’t want to say too much, but you get to see more of Cory’s family and what with how the beginning’s going, there’s bound to be some surprises along the way. Now, let’s get down into the dirt with Dayne. To Dayne Mora: Dayne, you come up with some of the most interesting titles for your chapters, are they easy to come up with or do you have to wrack your brain before you say, "Aha!"? Sometimes I have to wrack my brain for ages. I put in placeholder titles, until something better occurs to me. "The Aphrodisiacal Properties of Intersectionality and Juxtaposition" had originally been called "Talk Nerdy to Me", while "Gagging For It" was "For Demonstration Purposes". Cute, I suppose, but it just didn't feel right. In case you can't tell, "Warming Up" was a placeholder that I kinda just left (as is "In Soviet Russia, Iceman Thaws You"). Titles like "Dame Esa Leche", "Indie Comes to Jesus" (these appear as subtitles on GA since I released the initial 14 chapters as 7, which funnily enough, let me work in more titles), and "To Die in Thy Lap" were total "Aha!" moments. Sometimes, the "Aha!" happened well after the fact. "BAM! GAY DRAMA!" popped into my head the day after I released "Indie Comes to Jesus" on Nifty. Many times, I'm trying to reference something specific within the chapter. "This Little Kitten Went to Market" of course refers to the gay bar they went, but also to the emcee there (I don't think anyone got that I named her "Miss Piggy"). "Cory Has a Posse" is a nod to Fueled by Ramen, the music label born in Gainesville, FL. I used to find their "Mr. Miyagi has a posse" stickers all over when I was at UF. Other times, I've known what I wanted to title the chapter forever. I had titles worked out for the first three chapters of Wild Card since chapter 18 of Wolf Like Me. Then there are the titles I had to come up with to pass muster on GA. "Eat a Dick, Texas" and "Dame Esa Leche" weren't the friendliest titles, so those became "Cory Arrives" and "Leche". My boys like to curse, so f-bombs litter a titles here and there. You'd think a mod would a little more angelic. Now, story titles are another deal all together, just ask my Literotica readers about the whimsical fuckery that was Wolfie Kitten Iceman Maddog. /whimper To Dayne Mora: Dayne How do you manage to keep your motivation to write a story with a lot of chapters? So, I think I've told readers this story before--Cory, Efrain, and Indie were originally characters I'd created for disparately different stories that I'd had swimming around in head. Cory and Indie (Leaf and Stone) come from a high fantasy series (or at least were products of my weird habit of choreographing elaborate anime-style transformation sequences while listening to EDM). Efrain (Angel) came from a YA story. Somewhere in all my yaoi and gay erotica reading, I got this scene in my head--two football players driving home after practice, and things get hot when one tells the other "I want to make you cry." Somehow, Leaf and Angel (although a few years older) fell into those roles, and the fantasy spiraled out of control. I became obsessed with them. And then, they set their sights on Stone (originally, both Efrain and Cory were sleeping with Indie). In order to get them out of my head, I started writing out the fantasies--the sex scenes in "Warming Up", "When Indie's Away", and "Mea Culpa" (I haven't published the last two on GA as they're non-canon and I wasn't sure if readers here wanted to see them). However, once I started writing out the sex scenes, other scenes emerged. Then, Cory decided he wanted a kitten, and things progressed from there. There's so much story between the three of them, and when other characters appeared, the story expanded. As they evolve, their world expands, and it's all I can do to put the words down. I still find it strange how THIS is the first story that I've managed to put into writing. THIS is the only story I've been able to write. But, the real answer is quite depressing. I thought I'd had rough spots as a teacher, but 2015-2016 burned me out. The school district I worked for pretty much fell apart during the 14-15 school year, and shit really hit the fan in 15-16. A lot of crap went down that eventually led to three administrators doing the work of six. I got saddled with preps I couldn't teach, and kids I couldn't handle, and as one of the top teachers in the district, they just assumed I'd be fine, even when I repeatedly insisted that I wasn't (I don't think it helped that I complained about being unqualified to teach AP, yet had a bunch of kids pass ). I already suffer from a host of mood and pain disorders, but those went into hyper-drive. I lost the drive to do much of anything. Hobbies like video games and knitting were abandoned, and I neglected housework. Hell, I even stopped dressing up for work, and I LOVE dressing up. I went from working 60-70 hour weeks, to just my contracted 37.5. I phoned it in last school year (which is really weird because I still out-performed the rest of the district--even my lazy IDGAF version kicks ass!). I'd finally allowed myself to recognize how much I kick ass as teacher, but it just..............went away..............all of it. The one thing, however, that got me through was writing Wolf Like Me. I'd come home, put on my pajamas, then sit with my laptop and write. I stopped bringing work home, and even wrote at work. And then, I started publishing it, and people reacted! Things took off here at GA, as I got to interact with readers and fellow writers. Through these interactions, I was finally getting the recognition for my efforts and feelings of accomplishment that I wasn't getting from my job. Getting readers hot, making them laugh and feel the all the feels, didn't make it easier to face that one class that always made me cry during my planning periods, or help me force myself out of bed and into my car, but it gave me something to look forward to when I got home. I'm taking at least a few years off from the classroom, possibly working up into higher ed, but I can't let go of the thrill of reader feedback To Dayne Mora: I have seen [Wolf like Me] posted on various other sites (Nifty and Literotica), and I'm curious how your fan response varies from site to site. Are the readers that different? Are they looking for different things? What are the pluses and minuses of the various sites? There are some variations between readers and reader responses between the sites I post to, most of which can be tied to the sites themselves. Nifty and Literotica are first and foremost erotic writing sites, so responses tend to focus on the erotic elements of ExC, while the romantic and comedic elements are a second thought. Nifty readers expect more sex acts in a given entry, but are okay with more "unpolished" writing (my initial drafts were hella rough). I could cut out all the back story and just post the sex and they'd be fine with it (but, what's the fun in that!). I get (sometimes explicit) requests for certain acts (some I have or will use) and effusive praise for my epic grammar skills. Strange how bad grammar could be such a boner-kill. Literotica, as the only non-LGBT centered site I post to, accounts for a greater part of my straight/bi female readership. LitE readers appreciate the romance and comedy more, but the more highly rated chapters still tend to be those with the most erotic content. Since readers are able to comment publicly, commentary is a little less explicit. I was posting ExC under a rather regrettable and silly yaoi-inspired title that turned off readers, but I'm hopeful that the recent change will attract more readers (even if the title doesn't stand out as much anymore). GA, as a site dedicated to LGBT writers that just happens to also host erotic stories, attracts readers who are there for the narrative and consider erotic content a bonus. It still amuses me that most GAresponses are about plot and character elements with an "oh yeah, and the sex was hot" thrown in (if it's mentioned at all!). And only GA readers have noticed that I try to keep character development consistent during erotic scenes, that there's a difference between how Cory and Efrain experience sex versus how Preston and Indie experience sex (and that it feels different depending on whose head you're in). Also, GA readers seem to handle the multiple narrative viewpoints and viewpoint shifts within the chapter. Or at least they complain about it less. I don't know if it's because I've gotten better at signalling the shifts, or if it's easier to follow narrative when you aren't trying to read and do arm cardio at the same time. Benefits and Drawbacks As there are significant differences between Nifty, LitE and GA, each provides it's own benefits and drawbacks. The Nifty site is low-maintenance and laidback -- no forum, no chat, no fancy images -- a kind of lawless no-man's land where anything goes. It's hard to sift through stories to find gold (a running theme in reader emails) and not another golden sh....nevermind. As ExC is my first attempt at writing extended fiction (well, any fiction, really) and my first erotic work, I had absolutely no confidence when I started out. Nifty was perfect for me because there was enough terrible fiction (Mikie knows what I'm talking about) that even my poor attempts would look good. Kinda like the novice erotic writer's version of the fat friend. However, I worry that ExC gets lost among the literary detritus. Plus, there's no metric for comparing stories, so feedback is limited to those bold enough to email. It was great at first when I worried about getting umpteen million comments about how bad I suck. Literotica is more organized, even if it is difficult to find and follow stories, and the rating system and view counts give me a good idea of my success. Stories in the Gay Male category tend to rate higher than other sections, so my ratings may be a little inflated, but I consider it a good thing that only a few of my chapters rate below 4.7. There's more commentary from readers, more feedback, but not really a way for me to comment back. And with the way the site is set up, my story gets lost within a week of posting, so I have to post often to keep myself at the top of the deck (this is also an issue on Nifty). It doesn't help either that LitE readers expect longer entries (my 4-6k word average is short by LitE standards). Although, that has challenged me to really expand moments within narrative. The GA platform is much more interactive and easier to navigate. Readers get notifications when I post, and there are various ways to stay in touch with readers between postings. I feel closer to GAreaders and authors than I do to those on other sites, and I'm on here so much that my psychiatrist actually warned me that I wasn't socializing enough with irl people. There isn't a rating system for individual chapters (and I'm not sure how much attention readers really pay to them anyways), but counting likes and followers is a good enough metric for me. The ability to comment on reader reviews allows me to validate and show appreciation, and since many readers are also writers whose works I enjoy, the commentary challenges me to grow as a writer. Of course, I do get a little "OMG! SEMPAI NOTICED ME!" when another author reviews my story (Here's a simple check: are you a GAauthor? are you interacting with me? If you answered "yes" to both questions, I am having a "sempai" moment). Sometimes I get nervous that I won't measure up to the other authors in the GAfamily, but that just pushes me to raise the bar. Thank the light for Thorn Wilde, or else I'd be a nervous wreck about posting! To Dayne Mora: One of the things I appreciate about Efrain and Corey [Wolf like Me] is that it is a fairly realistic story with three dimensional characters and true-to-life dialogue. I'm curious if parts of it are autobiographical, if characters are based on real people, and if so, where does reality begin and fiction end? My characters aren't so much based on real people as informed by them. I "collect" things from people around me from the typical writer/artist/creator stuff like ear hustlin', observation, reading, and way too much time daydreaming. The initial sparks of characters float around in my head with all those little scraps -- names, mannerisms, speech patterns, quirks, physical attributes, styles, desires, etc -- and pull in the things that make sense to them. Pieces of me also fall into the mix, but not to the point of being too autobiographical. There are traces of me in all four of the major characters (Preston's nicknames, Indie's defense mechanisms, Cory's shoe collecting, Efrain's competitive streak), and even the minor characters (JJ Teague's mismatched socks, Romero's gossiping). Yet, there's not enough of me in them that they are me. And not even I could tell you who is the most "me" and who is the least (my husband, as the person who knows me best, has some theories). There is one exception: Jameson. He's more a composite than an accretion, but at his core is a college boyfriend who pretty much destroyed what little sense of self-worth I actually had. Jameson's spark latched onto my memories of that bottom-feeder like a douchebag kindred spirit. I try to not let characters become too close to their real life inspirations, and I seriously doubt a certain cretinous scumbag engineer would recognize himself (Jameson is more attractive ), but he's close enough that I've been able to work out some lingering demons. That’s it for now! You can regularly find Dayne in chat, but her forums are usually hopping, too, and she’s open to receiving more emails and reviews. I’ll see you next time, with Ask the Author #45 and authors albertnothlit, Nephylim, Riley Jericho, and SkinnyDragon. I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  19. Ask an Author #43 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #42, we had questions for authors Andrew Q. Gordon, Nephylim, skinnydragon, and W_L. In AtA #43 we hear from authors Mann Ramblings, Mikiesboy, Riley Jericho, and WolfM. Signature Author Mann Ramblings starts us off today. We last saw Mann in this blog about a year ago, back in AtA #33, but he really hasn’t been featured since AtA #7. That takes us back, doesn’t it? I know I’ve got at a couple more questions for him, if he’d answer his emails… Anyway, this nice gent is from Michigan, USA and I can poke at him a bit because I know I can handle the bite of his rather wicked sense of humor. Have you seen his profile pic lately? Mann has designed a few of those! He’s quite the artist, and I don’t mean just writing, which his 7,000+ followers already know. His first year with GA saw 3 stories; now Mann has more than 10 to his name. He writes a lot of drama and sci-fi (naturally), but his stories cross over into many different genres. One of my favorites is Rudolph’s Tijuana X-mas, in which Rudolph leaves the North Pole and, well, goes to Tijuana. Of course, since it’s a comedy, hilarity ensues. Like many another, this gem of a short story made me laugh until I cried. Oh, and did you know? Mann is now a published author with Wayward Ink Publishing. His published works have some changes, so if you liked them the first time, go check it out.  To Mann Ramblings: One of my favorites of yours, So Little Magic Left, is a largely fantasy story, and I'm curious. How do you come up with the detail and backdrop for such a mystical place and have it come out so believable? Lots and lots of notes. Days of brainstorming the details based on what I needed. Since I plotted the entire story out in advance, I knew what my settings would be and what had to be there. The underworld was medieval and stuck in time, so everything around them had to reflect that. So the buildings had to be raw and the businesses had to have limitations. I focused a lot on the world building and made a point to stick to it. Everything had to be consistent and nothing could be added without a damn good reason. I put the fantastic elements in but tried not to make them the centerpiece of the scenes rather than the setting. They're there, but we don't dwell on them beyond what's necessary to move the story along. I guess I did a good job selling the environment. Canadian “Poster Boy for Success” Mikiesboy is our next author today. In the year and change that he’s been with us, Mikiesboy has posted over a dozen stories and collections for our enjoyment. This is the gentleman who cooks all that amazing food he takes pictures of, although, sadly, there are none left in his gallery. Luckily, this word enchanter continues to gift us with his magic; I know a few of you were worried recently, but he promises to stick around awhile longer. Mikiesboy is a familiar name in the weekly prompts, and we’re all eagerly waiting the next longer project. For Halloween this year, why don’t you try out the wickedly tongue-in-cheek Wanted? Main character Sam answers a help wanted ad, and the rest will give you chills … good and bad. To Mikiesboy: Can you describe the process of writing poetry you go through when you want to start a story? Do you just start with an idea and let it develop as you write, or do you outline most of it first? I'm sort of a from-the-gut poet I guess, and often the poem, all or in part, is just in my head (keep notebooks with you always!). But lately I've been working on the different forms of poetry, and so use classic stories, films or something AC Benus specifies in his monthly Poetry Prompt. When I write poetry I just sit down and write it. I don't use an outline for poetry at all. However I do write outlines for stories. Some of you might know our next author. Although he has yet to mark it “complete,” Riley Jericho says he’s posted the LAST chapter to An English Teen, Circumcised in the USA. If I’d foreseen the end was so near, I would have posted this question months ago! At 89 chapters, I believe ET is now the longest single story on GA. Did you see the poster-like image Riley created for his epic? I like the subtlety in the colors. Way back when, Riley said he came over to GA after fighting with his previous website over the story’s name. Aren’t we the lucky ones? Now we can only wonder what Riley will write for us next. Perhaps we’ll learn more about Manchester, UK, where Riley’s from? Maybe he’ll do something completely different, like a horror story…! Oh, by the way, Riley has written some other stuff. There’s some poetry and other teen fics, and the chilling anthology entry Into a Better Place. It will make you think, but, more importantly, it will make you feel. Check out the reviews; they’re powerful, too. To Riley Jericho: Regarding An English Teen Circumcised in the U.S.A.: Is there an endgame---a definite plan or outline of what is going to happen and how the characters will end up---or is it a more organic process or like an ongoing serial? So, is there an endgame, or am I just making it up as I go along and hoping for the best? I have to smile because actually both are true. There is very definitely an endgame, and the last chapter, paragraph and sentence of ET have already been penned. However, what it is that you might possibly say to me when we get there...well, let's see. Anything more at this point would be spoilers! However, at the same time, the story has been quite fluid in some aspects, and I find there's some stuff you don't realise about a situation, until you get into it. I also feed a lot from reviews. You may not know it, but something you might have said in a review could well have sparked an idea that gets written in. Sometimes, somebody will make a comment about how a situation might develop, and for me, it's like 'oh...that's right...how come I never saw that coming?' So to answer the question, mileposts are set in stone, the end is coming into sight, but there are still many twists and turns that will be quite likely to turn up on the journey! In the end, you're going to have to ask the characters! Today’s final author is WolfM, marking his first entry in this blog, which seems funny, because I could swear he’s been around longer than just a year .... Anyway, this is the author behind the dark teen story Alone in the Night and the very popular Running with the Pack. If you haven’t read “Alone,” it’s definitely on the dark side but it’s also been a way for WolfM to exorcise some of his past and re-connect with his younger self. How much of the truth is being shared with us is perhaps something only WolfM knows, but in a world where the truth is so often conveniently brushed under the rug, it’s a story that should never be forgotten. It is in surviving his past that WolfM (like main character Matt) can bring us the gift of the present and the future. Employing a vivid imagination, after all, is how we now have RWTP, not to mention the thousands of other stories on GA. In RWTP, we get a city-boy stepping out into the “wilds” for the first time and discovering werewolves! I don’t know that I’d say it’s light-hearted, but it’s hard to escape drama when you’re writing about teens! LOL To WolfM: From where/what do you draw inspiration? We joke about muses, but what is yours? I've stared at the question on an off since you sent it to me trying to figure out how to answer it. The only answer I can come up with is, "I have no idea." I can sit down in front of my laptop one day and knock out the first draft of a chapter and other times go days to months without even feeling like writing. I usually joke that it all depends on what conversations the voices in my head are having and if they want to let me in on it or not. I have used the character I had in WoW as well as avatars I've created in the virtual world "Second Life" as elements in the current story I'm working on, though that is more an idea bed for how characters might look vs. actual inspiration. Possibly what truly inspires me is my readers as well as my desire to see this current project through to its completion. 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! I’ll see you next time, with Ask the Author #44, a special feature dedicated to one of our more popular authors Dayne Mora! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  20. 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! 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! And not blue! 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! 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
  21. One of everyone's favorite blogs, back again!! It's the first Wednesday of the month, which can only mean one thing. It's time for another Ask An Author feature provided to us by Dark. If you have questions you want to ask your favorite authors, but don't want to ask the questions yourself, you can always send your questions to Dark for inclusion in the Ask An Author feature. Ask an Author #41 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #40, we had questions for authors Cole Matthews, M.A. Church, Riley Jericho, and Carlos Hazday In AtA #41 we hear from authors Headstall, Mikiesboy, Sammy Blue, and Sasha Distan. Promising Author and Canadian Headstall kicks off the blog this week. If I understand the story correctly, this author name comes from a particular piece of tack (for horses, oh ye whose minds went elsewhere… ). Not as spry as he used to be, Headstall has had some recent health setbacks, but there are many glad to see his return. Hopefully, the words will start flowing once more with the grace and fluidity that readers have become used to. In the two years Headstall has been with us, he has posted almost a dozen stories, most of them the multi-chapter kind. He’s also a poet; you can see his responses to the weekly prompts among his collection of works, as well as Headstall’s Reflections, a collection of random musings about life, the universe, and everything. Or, you know, a blog of sorts. If you’ve enjoyed this author’s work, have you tried Morningstar: The Malaise? This is Headstall’s first story about werewolves, and in his version, the pack is dying out due to a mysterious … malaise. The main characters must find a way to not only save the pack, but themselves. Is there a way to be happy together given the desperate need the pack has for more matings and pups? I leave you with these words from editor Timothy M: “Being a sifter is complicated, even without the malaise, and sorting out your feelings is difficult, especially when they are new ….” To Headstall: How did it feel to have your first story take off the way it has? When I first posted, I didn't know what to expect, from the readers or myself. The response was immediate and somewhat overwhelming, and I honestly expected the support would die down quickly. But it didn't, and to this day I'm still surprised, and now I feel honored and encouraged to improve with every single sentence I write. It's given me the confidence to try new things, like my songs, poetry, an anthology story and a story contest. I've written two other stories posted as serials since the debut of "Cards on the Table," and that is because of the support I received initially, and continually. I'm not quite sure why it took off the way it did, but I am thankful for it everyday, and I feel I owe the readers and GA my very best effort every time I touch the keyboard. Cheers. A big welcome to Author Mikiesboy, making his first appearance in this blog – but not the last, I assure you! He calls himself an ”abecedarian poet.” You’ll have to ask him what it means. Another Canadian, Mikiesboy hails from Ontario and is a big fan of fellow Canadian Headstall. I have learned to stay away from his GA gallery, because just looking at all that wonderful food makes me hungry, lol. Michael is one lucky guy. Read more about their real-life love story in Michael and Me. I’m not sure about that tomato soup cake, though, dunno if I’m adventurous enough to try it. This past April, Mikiesboy tried his hand at NaPoWriMo, which is the poet’s version of writing one whole story in only a month. It’s a daunting task, no matter how you look at it. Mikiesboy is very upfront with his past and you can see some of that in his written works. They’re gritty and real and will make you rethink parts of your own life. Having a huge sweet tooth, however, I find that my favorite story remains Dessert. David gets a second chance at finding love with a man from his past. They meet by chance, eat and talk, and some of his inner musings and realizations will give you a punch to the gut. Of course the sex scene is pretty hot, too! To Mikiesboy: What inspired the characters you've created? Do people you know make you think of them, or is it situations you encounter? I've been inspired by situations and people I know. I guess it depends which characters you mean. In my latest story Tait's experience is partly based on my mental health struggles, and some abuse I suffered when I was much younger, but once I know the character I can figure out how he'll react or act. Two of my characters came to me when I was using a prompt, but Faris and James, have a few traits borrowed from me and my husband. So I guess I'd have to say that my characters are one part imagination, one part experience, and a dash or more of me. Youngster and Author Sammy Blue writes from Braunschweig, Germany. Recently, Sammy decided to translate one of his German stories into English. In the forums, Sammy explains some of the finer details making their way into his stories to give us non-Germans a better understanding of the culture belonging to his characters. It’s nice to have that background to ask questions about without the author feeling the need to write it all in the story itself. Sci-Fi writers are well-known for this. High Fantasy, too, can get bogged down with the details, not that you or I would ever do that, of course! LOL. But Sammy is perhaps best known for his work with Gemini. This is a story about teenage Josh and his crazy public school life. With 25 chapters now, we’ve really seen Josh grow into himself. And Jacob? That boy is amazing. To Sammy Blue: Do you have a character that you've put more of yourself into than any others, and what qualities do you see yourself as sharing with that character? Not particularly, at least not in Gemini. That might change with future stories, though. However, I do share some sort of connection with all of my major characters. The reason is simple, really. When I am writing, I am usually using one of two methods, mostly even both in combination. The first is to 'envision' the scene I am writing, almost like a movie. If I'm unsure about something, I even 'replay' it a number of times with small changes to see what fits. This also helps me to narrate in a realistic way. The other I mostly use when I write thoughts or some of the conversations. I try to really get into the 'skin' of the character I'm writing, to feel their feelings and think their thoughts. It takes some time to get psyched up enough for that, but it's usually worth it. Anyway, because I do this, I do have a pretty good understanding of what my characters feel, and I guess that is what I 'put' into them, and the connection I share with them. Today’s 4th and final author is Author Sasha Distan. We last saw Sasha in ATA #36, about six months ago. Next month it will be a year since Sasha's profile was active, which makes the last status post more ironic: Apparently I’ve been offline long enough for my avatar picture to vanish… But for those of you who need your Sasha fix, you should know that I horded one last question and answer. I, too, have my fingers crossed that Sasha will soon return with more of that British snark we’ve come to enjoy, as well as a conclusion to Sanctuary, the fantasy story where the persecuted find hope and, perhaps, love. To Sasha Distan: How do you keep all of your storylines from bleeding together when you have more than one story going at a time? I have a great filing system! My brain is a very compartmentalized place, and a bit like the filing system on my laptop, I'm very good at keeping the separate part of my life, and separate parts of my stories, very much apart from each other. Characters who exist in different worlds don't even talk, so for example I'd never have problems with Kurt and Tahryn having a chat and exchanging plot lines with Oli and Boris. The characters who do live in the same world, Kieran, Robin, Bay, Issac, and Zupan for example, are generally so self obsessed (or romantically obsessed) that they don't tend to interfere with each other. Generally writing two stories at once doesn't cause me many issues, but three or four can be more problematic. 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 AQG, Nephylim, SkinnyDragon, and W_L. I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  22. I can't believe it's already July and that the year is half over!!! Not only that, but it's the first Wednesday of the month, which can only mean one thing. It's time for another Ask An Author feature provided to us by Dark. If you have questions you want to ask your favorite authors, but don't want to ask the questions yourself, you can always send your questions to Dark for inclusion in the Ask An Author feature. Ask an Author #40 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #39, we had questions for authors Billy Martin, Dayne Mora, and Mark Arbour. In AtA #40, we hear from authors Cole Matthews, M.A. Church, Riley Jericho, and Carlos Hazday. Just shy of his three-year anniversary on GA, Cole Matthews joined the ranks of our Signature Authors. While this may be his first appearance in this blog, his new story Third Shift is already generating discussion and interest in the forums. Which, by the way, is where Cole has posted a fantastic intro to the story, so go check it out. With more than 5,000 likes and 26 stories, this boy is not slowing down anytime soon! I remember when he first started posting on the collaborative project Gaia Town. Setting up and organizing that project was fascinating to watch. What you may not know about him is that he’s something of a gardening maniac who has recently experimented with making his own jam/jelly. Those cookies he posted in his blog from the antique cookbook are also pretty good, but if you really want to know Cole, then you’ll read The Second Fifty, an autobiography of his life. It’s a must-read. To Cole Matthews: Did you enjoy writing your most recent murder mystery, and do you plan a second? I love murder mysteries, thrillers, and suspense stories. In fact, they are my favorite stories to read. I always thought my first novel would be that genre. I realized early on, I needed to practice writing dialogue, exploring characters, and establishing a voice first. Creating Barbed Wire Heart was a wonderful experience which allowed me to exercise those skills. I learned how to craft the clues and false leads more easily after becoming more proficient. I am working on more thriller shorts for anthology stories. In addition, I'm working on a suspense novel called Perdido Key, which will be set in Florida and not in Minnesota for once! Next up is popular fiction writer M.A. Church. She has been a member of GA for about five and a half years now, but early on started branching out into the online publishing genre. You may remember her from her original nom de plume “nomoretears.” She only claimed herself on GA two years ago and though she’s never said, I think it had to do with her rising popularity in the published world. Did you know she’s been mentioned in the Rainbow Awards twice now? She can also be found at Dreamspinner and All Romance Books. Check out her profile on Goodreads or her blog to see what she’s been up to lately. Of her five stories on GA, my favorite is In Enemy Hands. Of course, I’m a huge sci-fi fan, so those who know me will not be surprised by that. Like many, my favorite character is Adler. I think a lot of my love for him comes from the way MA Church writes his interactions with his brother. I also love the slow build-up between the main characters and between the supporting cast. There’s a lot of cleverly-hidden details and it’s always fascinating to see how characters navigate culture differences. There’s a lot M.A. Church has planned for 2016, so check-in with her often to see what’s new! To M.A. Church: Did someone have talk you into posting your stories for the public to read or did you decide yourself? I decided after reading several stories at a place called Literotica to try my hand at writing. After a few stories were posted, comments were left encouraging me to publish. I finally decided if the Christmas story I’d written for their Winter Contest placed, I’d try to find a publisher. A Tah’Narian Christmas came in first, lol. Not long after that I submitted a story to Dreamspinner Press. So basically, thanks to the encouragement from my fans at Lit, I started down the path as a published author. While it did not work out to include the next question into special edition #33, British Author Riley Jericho remains popular here on GA. He promises that his long-running narrative An English Teen... is finished! He’s just got to add the last chapters to the site. I’m sure his fans will be both relieved and disappointed. As with many people, real-life can often find a way to interfere with writing, but Riley has persevered, a feat not to be undervalued. Andy Q Gordon continues to work with Riley on ET, and at over 100,000 reads, it’s a partnership that’s definitely working. I wonder what Riley will work on next? To Riley Jericho: What made you decide to write m/m fiction? That's a good question, and I'm not sure I know. I guess I just thought I'd have a go. I read a lot, I love words. I thought, 'Well how hard could it be?' Jeez—what an idiot! Starting with this blog entry, I decided to shake things up just a little and feature 4 authors every month in honor of this being the 4th year of the blog series. Today’s 4th and final author is Carlos Hazday. He says that his blog question and answer will expire soon, so it made sense to start here. When I asked him this time if he wanted to participate, he said, “How could I not be up for it? I was the one who complained when your blog was pre-empted this month, remember?” Which of course I had forgotten. We’ve had a couple of questions for Carlos over the years; you might remember him talking about reader feedback, but those of you who frequent his forums already know how interactive they are. But for those of you crying over the ending to the latest in the CJ series, see below: To Carlos Hazday: I love the CJ series. What's next for CJ and his crew? There are two timelines concerning CJ running parallel in my mind. One is the story being posted on GA which is currently two years behind the real world. Spring ended as summer vacation was about to start in 2014. The second timeline is the one which tracks events taking place afterwards and through today. I have those events chronicled in outline form and will flesh them out into a story. Soon. I dislike stories which are abandoned or are posted on a very irregular schedule and don't want to fall into that pit. I am working on TRAVELS, the fifth book in the series but will not begin posting until it's entirely written. My fearless editor is also quite busy over the next couple of months, and not wanting to train a new one, I've decided to give him a break. I'm all heart, aren't I? Mann was fearless when he agreed to work with a rookie like me and his assistance has been priceless; the story is much better than it would have been without his input. I'll beg him to continue helping me once the book is at least halfway written. So no promises on when you'll read about the trips most of the major characters embark on during the summer of 2014, but rest assured there's more to come. 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 Headstall, mikiesboy, Sammy Blue, and Sasha Distan. I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  23. I'm back! Did you miss me? A huge thank you to AJ, Cia, Steve, and Slytherin for helping cover me while I was gone. It was much appreciated. Speaking of being back, Ask An Author is returning to start the month off right! Ask An Author is one of our most popular blog features, and I want to give a huge THANK YOU to Dark for supplying us month after month. Now, lets see what Dark has for us this month! Ask an Author #39 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #38, we had questions for authors Andrew Q Gordon, Sammy Blue, and Valkyrie. In AtA #39, we hear from authors Billy Martin, Dayne Mora, and the return of Mark Arbour. Our first author today calls the Appalachian Mountains of the U.S. home. With two stories and two poetry collections, Billy Martin is more than the simply country boy we knew way back in 2011. He’s well-versed in current events and many of you have debated with him over politics, so perhaps some of that will shine through in the new story he’s working on now that Trials & Tribulations is completed. Can’t forget about The Field of Love, either. According to Billy, these two stories will eventually merge into one storyline. I have always wondered how close Andy Collins (and friends) is to the reality of Billy’s life … and now we’ve got an insight into Sammy. I confess that when I first saw the title, I flashed instantly to the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams.” The fact that Billy’s story is also about baseball hooked me, even though I’m not generally a fan of teenage dramas. For now, I’ll wait on that update notification and continue rolling my eyes at the back-stabbing and politicking of small towns. To Billy Martin: What has been your favourite character you have written? Not that I have a lot of characters to choose from, but I would have to say that Roger, Andy's best friend from Trials and Tribulations is my favorite. If I'm allowed, in future chapters I will give him more depth and explore why he is such a good friend to Andy. I think we all need a best friend like Roger in our lives to help us off the floor when life knocks us down and celebrate the awesome experiences that will come our way as well. Don't get me wrong, I love Andy and Joey, not to mention the Judge, but there's nothing like a rock solid friend. I have a friend like that and he has always been there for me just like Roger has for Andy and I guess I've molded Roger after my very own best friend. Dayne Mora is today’s next author, though some of you may know him from the additional job he’s picked up: Chat Moderator. Dayne and I have a few things in common; we’re both American high school teachers, though I don’t have half the essays to read that he does, and we both have fur-babies. Of course, Dayne has a hubby to share the babies with. We both also enjoy Publix and Weird Al. I recently saw Weird Al on TV … I was visiting my mom and she was watching “Celebrity Name Game” and told me that Weird Al was a really good player – apparently he’s on the show a lot… The things you don’t know about your favorite celebrities, eh? But back to Dayne… Did you know that "Efrain and Cory" has a new name? It’s now called Wolf like Me and I hear there’s a sequel … looks pointedly at Dayne … If you haven’t yet read about these two college kids yet, the interactions between the friends are well worth it. There’s angst of course, but also humor, and the dialogue is so engaging you eat up the chapters before you realize it. To Dayne Mora: What do you like to write the most and what made you take the leap into posting stories here on GA? I love writing humor. It doesn't matter what genre or mode I'm working in, I can't stop the giggles from seeping in. I mean, I can try to keep a straight face, but it doesn't last long enough to justify the effort. It's so bad that my poor professors had to deal with my odd sense of humor. And lets not even talk about my lesson plans (when I actually write them, that is). Defiance19 sent me a message back in December recommending GA if I wanted to cast a wider net, and I joined pretty much immediately. And now let’s welcome back Signature Author Mark Arbour. It’s been over 10 years since Mark ventured onto what is now called GA and he’s still one of our most popular authors. Could it be his writing style? The myriads of different characters? The dynamics of the forums? The weekly updates? CAP is now 16 books long, a family dynasty as long-lasting as any soap opera, and Bridgemont is on book 7. Each of these series has its own fanatic supporters, and that doesn’t include the other things Mark gets involved with on the site. And although this article is now coming out after Mark’s birthday, he won’t hold it against you for some belated tidings. After all, when you’re as old as he is, each year is a triumph, right? With Black Widow now carrying the CAP series into the current century, eventually Mark will have to write about Obama … dunno if that’s good for an old guy’s blood pressure or heart, so, c’mon, folks, for the sake of Mark’s heart, let’s not add onto those 24,000 likes, okay? We don’t want him to keel over early. Like that word play, Mark? Now let’s get to the next chapter in Granger’s legacy and nobody’ll get hurt! To Mark Arbour: You are an accurate story-teller of historical events, which I've assumed from reading many of your stories. Your characters are also very believable, with or without their having sex. Question: If you could ask one of your historical people a question, what would you want to know and why? I'm going to change this question, and I'm going to make it two people. That seems fair, since I have two series. In the Bridgemont Series, the key character is George Granger. If I could ask George anything, I'd ask him who he considered his one true love to be. George is not a one-partner kind of guy, and much like the 17th/18th century society that he lives in, he's very hierarchical. He tends to array his lovers in pyramid format. At the end of the day, I'd want to know who ended up on top, so to speak. For the CAP Series, I'd tap into the father of the series, JP Crampton. I'd ask JP what decision/thing in his life he would have changed? He tends to bury his guilt and spend much too much time on self-recrimination, but at the end of the day, when he looks back, I would be curious about where he thought he'd made his biggest mistake. And I doubt that it would be the most obvious one. Now, as a little bonus, how about a bit from yours truly? Like the last question I answered in this blog, I’ve received a variety of questions all wondering similar things… To Dark: Is there a story behind how you chose "Dark" as a nom de plume? Sadly, no. It was a combination of things. I felt that I had outgrown my childhood nickname and was still struggling with my personal identity, and I was joining a bunch of different sites with different names, hoping that one would stick. I did sort of like part of one I was using to role-play with, so when I came to GA, I tried it and voila! No one had taken it, and thus “Dark” was born! It’s hard to think of myself as something else now, so I know it was the right choice. 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 Cole Mathews, MA Church, and Riley Jericho. I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  24. Seems like I'm constantly behind lately, but never fear, I didn't forget! For those who have been waiting, here's this months' Ask An Author feature that has been provided to us by Dark! Thank you, Dark, and all the authors who participated and the readers who asked the questions in the first place. Hopefully you enjoy this month's contribution! Ask an Author #38 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #37, we had questions for authors Bill W, Robert Rex, and Sasha Distan. In AtA #3, we hear from authors Andrew Q Gordon, Sammy Blue, and Valkyrie. First up today is the amazing Classic Author Andrew Q Gordon, a good friend known to many of us simply as “Q.” He, Mr. Q., and Little Q have had a tumultuous few years and though Q doesn’t spend as much time on GA as he used to, it’s fun to watch his published career blossom. He’s a good person to be envious of, no doubts there. Do you remember Second Shot? It’s the story that really started it all, filled with some of Q’s favorite things. It’s funny how when one thing changes suddenly everything else seems to happen all at once. For example, Lil’ Q, being published, and getting married – a real whirl-wind! It may seem like a fairy tale, but it’s a lot of work. Just reading about it makes me tired. Take a look at Q’s website these days to keep track of what he’s writing next. And don’t forget to ask about the online publisher he helped get started. To Andrew Q. Gordon: What was it like collaborating with another author to write a novel such as you did in (Un)Masked? Working with another author is hit or miss to be honest. It depends on the other person. Anyta and I worked very well together - at least I thought we did. (And I suspect she thought so too.) Working with someone else requires that both parties can accept the other person not liking what they did enough to put their name on it and being open to change. We went through about 6 or 7 versions of each chapter. We'd write it, send it to the other, make changes, send back until both were satisfied. It's harder than doing it yourself, but I think the end result can be much better because you each bring strengths to the work. The difficulty is finding works you want or are willing to share. That's the hardest part. Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I think it was the most fun I had writing. This is the first time showcasing Author Sammy Blue in the blog. A member since 2013, he was gone awhile, life being what it is, and at 25, he’s still a youngster to many of us, though we still remember those days! Hailing from far away (from me) in Germany, Sammy has posted one complete story with a holiday theme, and one story still in progress, Gemini. This is a story about teenage Josh and his crazy public school life. With as down as the beginning is, you know it can only go up, and we know that Sammy is himself a sucker for happy endings. Of course, a number of memorable characters pepper the way and I know I’m not the only one glad that Sammy didn’t leave us hanging at chapter 23! Welcome back, Sammy, and write more! To Sammy Blue: How do you get your American settings so realistic when you're not an American yourself? Research, and lots of it. Actually, some things I just 'know'. That happens when you reads millions of words here on GA. If you've read more than a hundred high-school stories, at some point you have a general idea of what to expect. I also tend to ask people if I'm unsure about details. Often I visit the GA chat or ask one of my American friends on Skype. For example the chapter I'm currently working on is set in Washington D.C. - Rigel (Editor here on GA) has been so kind to help me out by giving me general information about what areas he thinks my character's grandparents could live in and what locations they would visit with him during the weekend. From there I worked with Google (search, maps, images), and you can find out pretty much anything with Google, and Wikipedia, if you just spend some time with it. . Last but not least is Promising Author Valkyrie who is also being featured for the first time. Valkyrie is also enjoying her third year on GA and has graced us with many short stories. She’s also a regular on the Friday Prompts. The myriad experiences she’s had over her lifetime so far make for fascinating reading. I think my favorite so far is the one written for the 2015 Secret Santa: The Old Ways. Valkyrie skillfully mixes historical with spiritual and since it’s a love story, you also get the romance. It’s a touching tale of acceptance, all the more poignant in our troubled world that’s more concerned with finding boxes to shove people into or labels that supposedly “define” us. This is one of those stories that sticks with you long after reading. I have to say I hadn’t read this author before this anthology, but it certainly made me come back for more! Looking forward to seeing what more the author has in store for us. To Valkyrie: What inspired the creation of Alex from Alex's Legacy? Was there something that prompted his story? Sam and Alex appear in the story that I am currently writing, The Hollow Hills, very briefly. This story has been in my head for many years, predating Alex’s Legacy. They made such an impression on me that I felt like I had to know more about them. They were the inspiration for my response to Prompt 305, but after writing the prompt I knew I couldn’t just stop there. The ending of the prompt came as a big surprise to me when I wrote it and I felt compelled to tell Alex’s story. Now, as a little bonus, how about a bit from yours truly? Considering the dearth in my own writing, I’ve recently gone back to being a regular Author here on GA. There’s been a lot of changes in my life over the past few years: I got my teaching credential and moved to Alaska, my brother and his wife had their first kid (my parents’ first biological grandchild), my parents divorced after 30 years of marriage, and despite the fact I’ve developed some fairly serious arthritis in multiple joints, I recently came to the conclusion that I’m the happiest, most content I’ve been in a very long time. It’s weird talking about myself! But I’ve received a handful of questions directed at me for this blog feature, and I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m comfortable answering them, so here goes! To Dark: How did you write Ben, from The One I Want, so well? Specifically, his anxiety and panic disorders? In short, I can connect to Ben so well because I was him. Inside I was lost and afraid, but I’d gotten so adept at portraying the “perfect life” that I even believed it myself. On Christmas this past year (in 2015), my brother decided to apply his fist to my sister’s face in front of our mother and my sister-in-law. He had to set the baby down to go after my sister, so draw your own conclusions there. After the cops left and the family sort of dispersed to lick their wounds, my sister turned to me and said something to the effect of, “Finally, they’re paying attention.” I gave her a questioning look and she said, “If it had been you, they’d have just shrugged it off again.” It gave me a start, because she’s right. Nobody batted an eye when he and I fought growing up and nobody gave a second thought to the fact that he and I have talked maybe once a year since I moved out. It was only about six years ago when through counseling I realized my underlying anger issues probably started from his harassment of me as children. I was always told that since I was older and “more mature” that it was my responsibility to get along with my brother and that I was the one who needed to stop “picking on” him. The double-standard and middle-child invisibility I felt turned inward because I didn’t feel I was allowed to act unhappy or hurt or scared. That’s not including all the confusion about gender and sexual identity or later the knots I twisted myself into when I got involved with a man who shared far too many characteristics with my brother. Though he never raised a hand to me, being with my ex was just as damaging. I remember one night sobbing into my phone, leaving a voicemail for my ex’s mother and feeling so alone I couldn’t catch my breath and my heart was racing so loud I couldn’t hear myself talk. My ex got pissed because I woke him and he couldn’t get back to sleep. He left the room and played on his computer until I had to leave for work. Later he yelled at me for not waking him first and why did I have to bring his mother into it? She is still a good friend and I knew better even then to wake him in the middle of the night, though he had yet to be diagnosed with sleep apnea or chronic depression. Looking back now, it’s easy for me to see that when it came to writing Ben, he became the receptacle for all that baggage. He became a mish-mash of myself and my ex, complete with our health issues. All the crap I considered “evil” then got lumped onto Will. Rick was that desire for someone to rescue me. I thought at the time that I had brought all this onto myself. Pretty textbook stuff, really. Knowing what I do now, it’s not surprising that the social anxiety I’d been fighting my whole life went bonkers and I tried to deal with it by trying to control everything. I went through a series of different medications and counselors until a combination of things seemed to snap me out of the bad spiral I was in. The worst part was getting better enough to see how bad it was but still not well enough to do anything about it. Just thinking about spending holidays with my family (and brother) gave me panic attacks and bursts of depression that could last weeks. This year, I looked at him in the middle of his domineering and felt nothing. When he couldn’t get a rise out of me or my youngest brother, he went after my older sister with whom he’d never shown this side of himself. Despite how awful the whole thing was, I realized that I had healed enough that he could no longer hurt me. It was liberating. Yes, I originally wrote “Dinner with Gran” for a friend of mine. I wrote the other short stories while in and out of my first counseling sessions. Pretty easy now to see those mood swings in the early drafts as we tried to figure out the correct balance of medications and behavior therapy. Tenormin was one of the first medications we tried, and I kept it for Ben because originally he was a recovering drug addict, that’s how he dealt with his issues. When I did the revisions that became the version now on GA, that tidbit was dropped, along with several other sections that I felt no longer made sense. My last counselor ended up in the story, though he was not a rugby player. My sister was Shelly and my best friend was Hunter. Parts of other people I knew made up the rest of the cast. I have toyed with re-writing “The One I Want” again, but there’s enough distance now from that “old me” that I’m afraid I would ruin it. I guess that’s life. Gotta keep moving forward. I apologize for that long ramble. You’ll be glad to read 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 Billy Martin, Dayne Mora, and Mark Arbour! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  25. I can't believe it's already March, and time for another Ask An Author feature! If you have a question that you'd like to ask a specific author, but don't want to do the actual asking, then send your question to Dark! I hope you enjoy this edition of Ask An Author, and a big THANK YOU to Dark for continuing to provide these. Ask an Author #37 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #36, we had questions for authors Bill W, Robert Rex, and Sasha Distan. In AtA #37, we hear from authors albertnothlit, Carlos Hazday, and Julie Hayes and MA Church. For their protection, the members who asked these questions shall remain nameless (unless they choose to reveal themselves). Please note that all author replies are copied as is, spelling errors and grammar eccentricities original to the individual. Now in his second year with us here at GA, author albertnothlit has his first appearance in this blog series today. This gentleman has his own website; google his name if you want to check it out. You can also find him on Goodreads and Twitter. He may not have been with us long, but Albert has been writing for quite awhile; we’re lucky he happened to stop by … and then stick around. J Probably the genre he’s best known for is sci-fi, especially with Life Seed, his most recent story posted here on GA. Those of us who love sci-fi have all read stories that start off like this one: a new colony on a new planet that’s doomed because …. Fill in the gap here. I like this one because while there is a battlefield, it’s the colonists versus the planet itself, for the people are slowly starving. One of the things I like best is that Albert gives us little clues throughout the story that give it greater detail. Miles of explanatory text is common amongst sci-fi stories, but Albert has balanced this quite well and gives us an amazing main character to follow. To albertnothlit: How do you go on when you write? Do you have a complete plot worked out in your mind (as a draft) before you start writing the actual work or do you start with a setting and see where it goes from there? How do you make sure to avoid logic mistakes and do you have tricks to solve those? The most important thing for me when I write is having a plot outline. I start by writing down the 'main idea' of the story, i.e., what I want to accomplish by writing it. Then, I decide on characters, POV, and estimated length. After that I write freely for a bit to capture the essence of the story, and then I make a chapter list with brief one-liners detailing what will happen in each chapter. If the work is long, I'll expand on this, and for really long novels I'll also create an Excel cheat sheet with a glossary, character back stories, lore, all of that. My best trick to avoid continuity errors is to let it rest. I'll write a full tale and just let it sit around for a bit before re-reading it with fresh eyes. That way, logic errors jump out at me and I can change them! Also, learning how to work an editor is just as if not more important than learning how to proofread your own writing.. We last saw author Carlos Hazday in AtA #29. Carlos has been a member of GA since 2013 and hails from southern Florida, though he’s done a lot of travelling and often on his motorcycle. In his half-century of life, Carlos has seen and done many things and likes to model his characters after his own experiences, writing in first person with an engaging commentary. Although he was not originally planned as the main character, look for more CJ in the third book of the series, Winter, set in Australia at the end of 2013. There’s some fun reactions to local places and events, but the travelling doesn’t end there in Australia. Catch up with CJ or go back to the beginning and get to know this surprisingly appealing young man. To Carlos Hazday: What kind of reader feedback do you find most useful, and why? ALL reader feedback is welcome, appreciated, and useful. I particularly like comments about my writing style, both positive and negative. Being fairly new to writing, hearing about what I'm doing right or wrong helps me improve. Plot discussions are always fun but if you tell me why the story moved you or intrigued you, it could help me create even better ones in the future. I’ve been looking forward to this last author-duo for about a year now. Julie L. Hayes and MA Church teamed up for a couple of projects that have been received very positively out there in cyberspace. Julie has a profile here on GA and has been with us for just over three years now. She’s been a writer for a long time and says her daughters got her into the world of M/M romance. We used to know Michelle by her pseudonym nomoretears00 and found M/M through literotica. Mississippi is pretty far away from St. Louis, but these two ladies have somehow managed to work well enough together that they did it more than once! Those of us who’ve ever worked with someone else on a project know it’s not as easy as it sounds. Enjoy their love stories: Journey's End, the second in the Harvest series by MA Church, and Moving Forward, the second in the Love Without Boundries series by Julie L. Hayes. To Julie Hayes and MA Church: How did you both meet and come up with the ideas for Be My Alien and Be My Human? MA and I met briefly through a comment she left on a story of mine at a fanfic site. I got to know her when she became an author at the publishing company where I was EIC and an author too. We both belonged to a FB group called It's Raining Men, and they were looking for stories for a Valentine's anthology. We both were interested, and we discussed writing our story jointly. I had read and edited Nighttime Promises at Romance First and enjoyed them, and I wanted to write an alien story too, so Be My Alien was born. Because it was originally intended as a short story for the anthology, it had to stay within the 25k range. But we ended up having a disagreement about the anthology and withdrew, deciding to send it to Dreamspinner instead. But that's why it's shorter than the second book, as it was never intended to be full-length. The name came about by accident. We were talking one the phone, discussing possible titles, and talking about Valentine's Day. I joked about the conversation hearts, and the things they said, and I said something about one that would read Be My Alien, instead of Be My Valentine. The name stuck! MA came up with Be My Human, and the title for the third book, Be My Everything. 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 Andrew Q. Gordon, Sammy Blue, and Valkyrie! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
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