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During the dog days of summer, most South Floridians yearn for cooler, drier weather. If you are unfamiliar with the expression, it refers to days being so hot even dogs want to lay around moving as little as possible. August is the time most of us want to move to the Carolinas’ mountains to escape daily rain, tropical storms, and hurricanes. The Signature Authors profiled this month are well known and don’t require introduction. I’ll shut up now and let them answer their questions. @Comicality • You are a prolific user of sequels and serials and have a lot of stories on the go, Gone From Daylight and Savage Moon come to mind. What keeps you motivated and what do you gain by doing serials and sequels? • • • "Well, to answer all questions at once...it's the readers. The feedback makes all the difference in the world to me. So that is my number one motivation to keep going. When I was growing up, I was super heavy into comic books. I still have many of them to this day. And, honestly, comic books taught me everything that I know about character, dialogue, tension, foreshadowing, flashbacks, plot twists...and the best part was that I got a chance to come back every single month and catch up with fictional people that I had grown and evolved with over an extended period of time, and I LOVED it! I never thought I'd see the day when movies or TV shows could be treated the same way, but now you see it all the time. And it works wonders. So being able to build on my characters one chapter at a time, share them with a vocal and participatory audience, and actually feel the energy of having them enjoy what I do, is my biggest inspiration. It might take me an entire year or more to finish a whole story from start to finish, and that's if I'm LUCKY! I can't imagine going that long without some type of positive reward or constructive criticism from my audience. Without their support, I think I'd feel like I'm just typing away at this keyboard for nothing. So I treat my stories like comic books. I post new material, I get good feedback, I come up with new ideas all the time, and my readers get to see the process unfold as it's happening. They grow with the story. It creates a momentum and an excitement that helps me to keep building and challenging myself to complete whatever vision I had in mind from the beginning. I hope that answers the question! And thanks! :)" • • • • • @Krista • Looking at you library here at GA, you don’t seem to use sequels or serials but have a nice collection of stand-alones. Is there anything that keeps you away from bringing more of the characters your readers love? • • • My answer would be that it is the way I view sequels. Most of my stories are stand alone, so if I were to write a sequel or make a story into a serial then a lot of changes would have to happen. I have started a sequel in the past, but I doubt that people would have enjoyed it, because it was so different than the original. That is how I feel sequels should be though, if you created a story and completed it, any story involving those characters should be different with different themes and obstacles for the characters to overcome. The story I mean is, "Are You Christian," and the story ended on pretty happy terms. The sequel would then have to be - for me to have the motivation to write it - darker with new themes. It would no longer be a coming out story, so I would have to come up with something else. I was going with drug abuse and depression as main themes and I doubted my readers would want to see that huge of a transformation for the characters that would be involved. Also motivation and time. Most of my stand alone stories are about High School students maneuvering around coming out and being younger. I don't really have the motivation to do those kinds of stories anymore so stories that involve those characters here are either still going to be in high school or freshly out, wouldn't really be strong motivation for me. I feel that my current style of romances don't translate well to sequels overall as well. So I just don't work on making the attempt. • • • • • @AC Benus • What is it about sonnets as a form that keeps on inspiring you? • • • Thanks for the question. This gave me pause when I first read it. To me, various poetic forms are just tools. So to translate this question to another discipline, would you ask a carpenter what it is about a hammer that keeps inspiring him? He may have a long personal history with a certain hammer, and knows he can reply on it, but the tool itself is just something he calls on to build an end-result. More precisely, Sonnets are a key to me to unlock the universe. Basho had such a key with Haiku and Haibun. Villion’s was the Ballade. The discipline required to master these forms opens up the freedom to say any and everything. A quote I leaned as a teenager from an old Night Court re-run sums up this artistic principle best. “Mastery appears in limitation of form, and order alone can give us freedom.” And none of us should wrestle in disagreement with the likes of Goethe • • • • • A short installment this month; there’ll be a longer one in September. But I need questions for after. If you want to get to know ANY author a bit better, this is your chance. I forward the questions anonymously so if you’re shy, I’ll protect you. LOL
Happy 18th birthday, Ask an Author! After today, our little feature can vote but is still unable to drink legally in the United States. I think someone has been slipping it beers behind my back, though. I found it passed out in my computer complaining of a hangover. • • • • • @AC Benus, GA’s poetry guru and the author who gets the most questions will kick off the party. • When you're not writing your own stories and poems, you seem to spend a lot of your time commenting and reviewing other stories on the site, particularly those from fairly new or unknown authors. This can be difficult because those stories are often a little unpolished but have you ever come across a hidden gem or a great story from a source that you wouldn’t have expected? • • • Thank you for saying this. I often feel I don’t do enough reading and reviewing on GA. But I’ve committed to doing more. As for hidden gems, there are quite a few, however, maybe I will limit myself to one prose and one poetic recommendation. Even in its partial form, Denn’s Mobile Circus is one of the finest novels on GA. A shifter story with several differences, it’s at times funny, thrilling, sexy, touching, horrifying – you name the experience, it’s in there – and above all, consummately written by @Twisted_Dreemz. As far as I’m concerned, it should be on everyone’s read-right-now list. (The more love we show him, hopefully the sooner he’ll get back to providing us with chapters ). For poetry, it’s much more difficult to single out just one, as all of us poets on GA post what we love and feel. I’m pleased to say we have a growing and supportive community here for one another. However, anyone who loves good prose-storytelling will instantly respond to @MythOfHappiness' collection of poetry. He can paint a scene in a few words, and grip your heart while doing it. And, if enough of us get at him with comments, hopefully we’ll force him to actually reply to them ). • • • • • From the San Francisco area, we travel east to the mountains. My limited interactions with @MacGreg have left me with the impression of a thoughtful man who has a good sense of humor. I really do need to read more of his work • Many of your stories and longer poems seem to deal with “broken” men. How central do you see the healing process to the characters and journeys you create for them? • • • This is a good question. I suppose I write about "broken" people often, because so many of us have been faced with circumstances that test our strength and resolve. Writing imperfect characters feels true and honest to me. No one is immune to the burdens of sadness, disappointment, frustration, hopelessness, etc. that pass through our lives. Dealing with the fallout is all a part of the journey, and my characters' pursuit of refuge and healing acts as a mirror to reflect our own personal determinations. I'm not one to sugarcoat circumstances when writing my characters. And, as with life, not every broken person can be made whole again. But the processes of healing and learning how to cope are definitely central points to my stories and poetry. • • • • • Since Florida is flatter than an eight-year-old’s chest, I decide to stick to the mountains and head north. When I hit the Trans-Canada Highway, I turn east until reaching the Toronto area for a visit with @Mikiesboy. • You put a great deal of feeling and emotion into your work, which you have stated is down to your own personal background, but does it sometimes also get in the way and work against you? In other words, are there subjects which you feel you cannot write about? • • • The simple answer is no. If something appeals, or comes to me and I feel it would make a good story, I'll write it. My past still haunts me, you just do not ever get over that stuff, not really. You learn to deal with it. I put things into boxes and stack them in the corner. These days mostly it stays there. Pretending it didn't happen is no way to deal with it, so I'd write about it - have written about it in Levko, in Street Words and My Life in Pieces. I don't know if I'd write more about that life, I mean there is only so much you can say. Maybe but there'd have to be a very compelling reason to do it again. These days I'd rather write about other things, not necessarily happy ones just different I guess. I love writing comedy, prompts are a lot of fun and make you think. Poetry of course, is my one true love. I think you should try everything... every genre. I'd love to write a good mystery or horror. It's something I think about a lot. I may have even done some planning ... possibly. Thanks again for the question. • • • • • @Nephylim is in Wales. Since my superpowers do not extend to riding my Harley over the pond, I catch a plane to visit her. I made sure it was not a Boeing 737 Max! • What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? • • • I don't mind answering questions about anything. Any interaction is welcome. To be honest, I haven't thought about this. Given that I've been non binary all my life (although I haven't actually "named" this until fairly recently) and that my inner dialogue has always been entirely male, I think, to be honest, that writing a female character is more difficult. It's almost that female is the opposite sex if that makes sense. As I am autistic I find understanding all people, whether male or female, quite difficult and to some extent I rely on television, films, books etc to give me basic understanding of how people interact with each other. Having been a solicitor for many years in the field of family law, I have also had the opportunity to gain more insight into what motivates people on a deeper level. Sometimes it's difficult to separate the real from pure fiction, but I hope I manage it well enough. I hope that's enough to answer the question. I tend to wander off topic sometimes. If the person who asked the question would like more information or to discuss it directly, I'm more than happy to do so. • • • • • Back home in Florida, it’s a skip and a jump to Tampa Bay and @BHopper2. We get the final answer to a set of questions we asked at the end of last year. • What would you like to be? A successful businessman, and a professional writer. With a great husband that understands me and two adopted teens that we both love. Living in a high-rise condo in the middle of downtown Tampa, and living comfortable lives until we grow old, retire, and pass-away. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Welcome home, and well done. The party district is this way, it's been a lot livelier since you gays started running it. • • • • • That is it for this month, my friends. My inventory of questions and answers is severely depleted. If you have questions for any author on the site, send them to me instead of them. I’ll chase them down, get a response, and share it on AAA for everyone to enjoy. Happy 420! ps - @Myr who do I send all my travel expense receipts for reimbursement?
We have something a little different this month. A reader sent in a question for Mann Ramblings that we’ll start the feature with. @Mann Ramblings • If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? • • • Ok. Here's my answer: You're not an erotic author. You're an author. Write what you want. Let the boys get raunchy, and sometimes beat the hell out of each other. Feel free to kill off the character if it's right for the tale. But temper the sensational aspects. Too much sex or hyper-violence will unbalance a story and they'll never let you forget that one scene. You're going to hate some of your old work. Rewriting an entire novel is a bitch, but you may do it anyways. • • • • • Considering how much I’ve benefitted from his experience when he edits my work, I found both the question and the answer fascinating. So much so, I decided to pose the same one to a few of our Signature Authors. We can all benefit from their experience. • • • • • @Cia • If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? • • • Let's see, how about, "Don't stop writing so you forget how to do all this." As a teen I wrote fantasy stories, but then I stopped. Picking it up again as an adult meant relearning a lot of rules I'd let myself forget because, frankly, you don't write dialogue when you are writing purchase orders or grocery lists. Good thing, I guess, since it would take up a lot of room to write "Your daughter's stinky butt needs more diapers because you're running scary low and she exploded three times!" the babysitter said or "Milk, you always forget you need more milk," her husband reminds her. It'd take forever to cross everything off the huge list I'd be dragging along behind me through the store! • • • • • @Valkyrie • If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? • • • I would tell my younger self to write more. I dabbled in writing in my youth and never finished a longer story until I joined GA. I wrote more poetry vs prose back then. When I tried writing longer works, I'd get bogged down in trying to make it 'perfect', so the biggest piece of advice I would give my younger self would be to relax and simply write, and not worry about revising as I go • • • • • @Graeme • If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? • • • Firstly, listen to your editor. I've been lucky in that I've had a number of experienced editors over my writing time, but when I started I didn't listen as much as I should have. In hindsight, they were correct with their observations, but it took me some time before I accepted what they were saying. Along the same lines, I would tell myself the advice I received later on in my writing, and that's to always keep in mind the end goal. Work out how you want the story to end, and then write in that direction. Don't lose sight of that goal, because that's how you can write yourself into a corner. If you know where you're headed, that will help remind you to leave an escape route to allow you to get to that goal. Meandering on your way to the goal is fine, but don't forget where you want to finish while you wander. Finally, don't be afraid to try new things. Some will work, some won't, but even the failures will teach you something. • • • • • @CassieQ • If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? • • • Set realistic goals. I started writing with the idea of completing full novel-length works when I was in high school. I sucked at it. I went for years without being able to complete a full novel length work and I grew incredibly frustrated with myself and thought maybe I just didn't have it in me to be a writer. I think it was around 2004 when I found NaNoWriMo and managed to pull off my first full length work in a reasonable amount of time. I had been setting deadlines, but they were super vague, like “I’m going to finish this novel by the end of the year” or “I’m going to have this done by the end of the summer” but without really laying down a plan or breaking a huge task (finishing a novel) into smaller goals. NaNoWriMo’s daily word count goals were like magic. It taught me how to break down a 50,000-word project into ~1,500 words per day. Right now NaNoWriMo is a bit too ambitious to fit in with my current schedule, but it helped immensely to help develop realistic writing goals when I was working on later works, especially longer pieces like Reach, Not The Sun and Geeks. • • • • • @CarlHoliday • If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be? • • • Your writing mentor gave you a list of authors to read and those not to read. Now, you need to read all of their works. Plus, go back to school and take all the writing and literature courses you can. Don't force your writing. Let your voice come out naturally through your reading, studying, and practice writing the kinds of stories you read. • • • • • I’ll finish the month off with one of the questions still remaining from a previous feature. • • • • • @Geron Kees • What reform do you most admire? • • • I would have to say that the word reform draws me in two different directions. As mostly used today in the broad sense in our country, the word means very little to me. We live in an age where words have attained new power as manipulative tools, specifically selected and used to make unpopular or unbeneficial things sound more palatable. The word reform is spat out in connection with every change that those behind the change want to sound wonderful - tax reform, health care reform, social reform - but the truth is that it is misused in most instances. The word reform, used as a noun, has a dictionary meaning of: "a change for the better as a result of correcting abuses; a campaign aimed to correct abuses or malpractices; a self-improvement in behavior or morals by abandoning some vice." All definitions point to a change for the better and/or the correction of some level of abuse or evil. In the times we live in, the word is a mask for changes that do not benefit society or the individual that lives within it. Or, shall we say, not the average person that lives within it. Most changes these days touted as reforms benefit a select few. The complete absence of real truth in political and corporate America today is frightening. Here is where reform is needed, but where, historically, it never happens, until the type of upheaval we all dread occurs. On the other hand, personal reform, as in, how can I better myself, is entirely another matter. Here is a use of the word I can actually control. In reference to myself, it really is about positive change, and it requires a change that most people - but especially me - feels betters my life and the lives of those around me. I have always been a person that, once focused on a troubling aspect of my life, takes steps to correct it. So in that area, I embrace reform, both as a word and as an action. I prefer to like myself every day of the week, and not just on Sundays, like so many others seem to do these days. You asked, and I answered. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? • "You're the last to arrive. Everyone will be delighted to see you again!" • • • • • That’s it for March! Tune in again next month. In the meantime, send me your questions, and I’ll chase the authors down to get a response. Namaste