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  1. I hope everyone likes contagious things, because I got a smile on my face. While I'm comfortable with my "resting retail" face, I figured I could put on a genuine one for today's sake. This month's edition of Ask An Author features one of GA's favorite authors, and is easily one of the kindest people on the site. Honestly, I've never seen the guy in any sort of negative mood. If I'm being even more honest, I firmly believe he's an actual horse that has learned to write stories on a comically large keyboard. Coming from GA's Signature Author pool, we have some questions for @Headstall! • • • • • Headstall 38 Stories / 1,093,410 Words Your stories cover many genres. How difficult is it to write in a new genre, and what problems do you face as the author? It's true I have tried a number of genres, but writing is writing, and there are challenges to any new work. I don't see those as problems, though, just parts to examine, play with, and work through. Still, tackling a new genre does instill a certain amount of fear in me. My shifter story, "Morningstar: The Malaise", for example, terrified me at the start. I felt truly out of my element, but my muse said otherwise. I'd never written a mystery before, never mind a shifter story, and this one was intricate. Hence, I had a real fear of failure, and that I would make a mistake and giver something away before the right time. It truly was a weaving process, right from the first chapter. In retrospect, I can say I thrived on the challenge, immersing myself totally in this new world I created. It gave me a lot of confidence, and I believe it remains my crowning achievement as a writer. You create authentic dialogue, settings and behaviors true to the time and place. Can you describe how you do this difficult task? Thank you for thinking so. I guess the simple answer is research. I research everything... even names. It is time consuming, but happens to be something I can enjoy. I go down some rabbit holes, but that can often give me ideas for future stories. I think the most research I have ever done was on the "Sidewinder" series. It was definitely a challenge to find a dialect and rhythm I was happy with, but I'm satisfied with what I came up with. In fact, I think in that dialect sometimes. I give a lot of thought to settings. We all like to dream, and reading is a time we can do that, so I like to put readers into a place they can see themselves, but somewhere they might never have been before. How could anyone not like the magic of Larkspur and Red Apple Farm in "Sidewinder", or the charm and character of Cloud Nine Manor in "Cards on the Table"... or the hidden valley Wiley and Cooper find themselves in "Finding Refuge"? Or Grandma's crafted house on the river in "Gone Fishing"? Or what about the barn where Caleb and Dalton meet again in "Big Boy Pants", or Eagle's Nest bluff in "Morningstar: The Malaise"... or Kellar's rescued cabin? My point is, these places, only some of many, are like characters in their own right, enriching our escapes as we turn the pages. The stories would be far less without them. As far as behaviors, it is a good question. My pet peeve as a reader is when characters do one-eighties, and become something different from what I invested myself in. I mean, they can change, certainly, but the author has to do a thorough job of making us understand why... otherwise, I am out. That doesn't mean I am not a patient reader, because I am. For my own writing, I make sure what my characters do make sense, even if we don't understand their actions right away. There is a fine line there. In one of my stories, "Endings", there is a character we don't really understand, but he is that way from the beginning. There is a slow reveal until we can finally see why he is who he is, and that was a fine line I had to get exactly right. Did I? I believe so, because of how the many readers responded. You took some time off from writing recently. What prompted you to start writing again? Here I am asking about the influence of reader comments, reviews, friends, and challenges such as the anthology this year. I have had some roadblocks in the past few years that affected my production, that is true. It was a huge deal when I tore three ligaments/tendons in my shoulder. I had a year wait for surgery, and then a hard year of rehab. It meant I had to type with one hand that whole time, and even capitalizing was almost impossible. But, I got through it. Then came the pandemic, and like so many, I found myself rudderless, and lost any desire to write. What prompted me out of that? I definitely have to thank "Sidewinder" for it. After many attempts to finish up a half written story to no avail, "Sidewinder" came out of the blue (no pun intended... readers will understand ) and took hold. It ignited a passion in me, I think because I have always loved westerns and had wanted to write a multi chapter one ever since writing "Finding Refuge". It coalesced in my mind rather quickly, and then the research began. It was fun to write again, and thus I continued on with "Larkspur: A Sidewinder Tale", a sequel that was asked for. But, the pandemic was far-reaching, and I hit my most recent slump. And it is true the latest anthology got me fired up again, and I produced three works for it. Reader comments and reviews can inspire me for sure, but the fact is, and one I have come to accept, is that writing can be very hard work and I cannot force it. I have to be patient where my muse is concerned. Definitely, support from my friends really helps as well, but I have to wait for that perfect storm to arrive. In your own opinion which of your characters is your favorite? Most vile? Most lovable? Most humorous? Briefly describe how you develop characters, please. Most favorite character? Oh, boy. That is a hard question because my characters are my children. I'll give it a try. My first characters were Michael and Kendall of "Cards on the Table", so I will say they rank up there, but how can I ignore Kellar and Tobyn from "Morningstar: The Malaise"? And Boone and Coy from "Sidewinder"? Oh, and Jared from "Treading Water"? That guy broke my heart. And then there is Wyatt Burnham who bent but never broke... and Mitch Willard and Will Merrick... and Chase and Hank... and Dawson. See what you've done to me? This part of the question isn't just hard... it is impossible... because I have created so many different characters who still live in my head and heart. Jeremy from "Cards on the Table" just came to mind, as did Maurice and David from "The Watcher" series. Yeah, I can't choose. Most vile is easier. I would have to say Candy from "Cards on the Table". Oh wait. Carly from "Treading water" might be worse, and I think there are readers who would say Kevin from "Endings" or Ian from "Song and Dance", but I personally don't think they were vile no matter how unpopular they were... just needy and foolish. That brings to mind Perry's appearance at the "Amarok Hotel" in "Endings". He was more of a douche, though. Wait again. I think I've got it! The sidewinder himself, Will Diamond, was the most vile. Oh, but then there was the Reznicks from "Morningstar"... hard to top how evil those two were. And Lucas from "Boundaries: An Old West Tale" probably deserves a mention. I give up. Most humorous? I've got to get it together, so I will say Mrs. B from "Cards on the Table", although Big Mike from the same story had some wonderful zingers, and Michael and Kendall's banter would keep me chuckling for days after writing it. Most lovable? Again you make it hard, but I am going to go off the board for this one. I could say Mrs. B. because I have a soft spot for characters who make me think of my mom, but I am going to say old man Corker from "Sidewinder". There was something about that guy... what horrors he has endured, and yet he has this irrepressible spirit and joy that leapt off the pages for me. Finding him was like discovering gold. Briefly describe how I develop characters? I had to laugh at the 'Briefly'. Briefly speaking is not my forte. I guess the simplest way to say it is they develop themselves. They come into my brain, and I get to know them. I play scenarios with them over and over in my mind before they make it to the page, and that helps me figure them out. Of course there are exceptions who appear as I write and I just go with it. Honestly, I don't know where these characters come from. I've always had this incredible imagination, though, so maybe that is where they live, and they come out to meet me when I need them. I will say one more thing. Characters are the easiest part of writing for me... they become real rather quickly, and I consider that a blessing. Thanks for the thought provoking questions. I tried my best to answer them all, but you made it hard, and I appreciate that. Writing has taught me I like a challenge. Cheers! Gary.... • • • • • I loved reading "Sidewinder" and "Morningstar." They're in my favorites folder when I need a pick-me-up. Thank you for answering these questions, Gary! Well, that'll do it for this month. As for March, I'm afraid I'll have to go searching under some rocks. The AAA piggy bank is dry once again! Don't forget to submit 3 questions to me via private message. Let's get specific, folks. I'm challenging you to focus on a singular story. I know y'all can do it. You were probably in the middle of reading a GA story before you stopped to read this. Ask questions that forces the author to think. Get them to open up about the nitty-gritty details that made their work shine! Pick these authors' brains, people. Toodles!
  2. Another month has come and gone. Over here in Kentucky, we're actually getting some autumn weather for once. I'm used to going from intense heat to severe cold within a week. No need to immediately break out the heavy coats. However, I am getting used to coming up with innovative ways to freshen up Ask An Author. No questions came in this past month, so we're switching things up. We're going back to interactive. When we didn't have questions last time, our authors and readers asked and answered a chain of questions with each other. It got a bit chaotic, and as much as I revel in it, let's keep it nice and simple. I'm giving y'all five easy questions, and everyone is welcome to answer them. How do you like your eggs? Scrambled? Over-medium? What is your favorite story on Gay Authors, and why? What brought you to GA? If your life was a book, what would be the title? What is your favorite soup? See? Pretty easy to come up with questions. How about we work on getting 10 responses down in this month's AAA comment section? Okay, y'all. In two days, I'll be the resident birthday boy, and I got a short wish list. Aaron wants several sets of three questions. Anyone can ask them, and they can be for any author's story. I'll take anything at this point, people. You don't want to disappoint the birthday boy, now do ya?
  3. OMG, where is Aaron If he lived up here, he might have got hit by a snow plow, but down where he lives that is not very likely. Or is it? Someone told me that he was stocking a shelf when the whole aisle collapsed on him and he was by himself. Then they say he saw all the spilt liquor and couldn't bare the idea of all the good spirits going to waste. So injured on the floor he started slurping up everything he could get. Luckily he was lying at a low point of the store floor so all the split booze flowed to him. Now I guess he has a wee bit of a hangover Actually personally I think he went AWOL. I'm not sure who told him he could take the month off! Oh, it was me Okay, for the truth none of the above is true except getting the month off. So we have a different AAA 3.0 that was sent in this month in where one of our anonymously question suppliers came forward with some questions for none other than @astone2292. Rather than have him appear full of himself (appearances are everything) I decided I would take over the blog, just this once to ask him the questions. 1) What interested you in writing stories about shifters? I write shapeshifter stories as an escape, of sorts. Living with a basic, daily routine (wake-up, work, sleep, repeat), the paranormal genre gives me something life can’t. The ability to transform between human and animal is a concept that would provide one such freedom, even if the animal is odd. A wolf can run in a forest. A mole can dig in the dirt. A bird can sit on power lines and shamelessly defecate on passing strangers. A Golden Retriever can walk around and be called a good boy/girl. Shall I continue? 2) Since you have already hinted about crossover stories, what pros and cons did you consider as you deliberated writing a crossover? The one crossover I performed was not an easy decision. Combining the In the Shadows series and Cernunnos into the same universe had its issues. I had to create a reason for the differences between the shifters and their differing abilities. As time passed, I desperately wanted certain characters to have the opportunity to meet. I can only imagine my readers’ delight if Cyrus ever met Cyn, or if Kaplan met Keiran. The cons… Well, my primary concern was if my In the Shadows readers hadn’t enjoyed Cernunnos (or vice versa). I hate spoilers more than the next person, so potentially causing someone to be exposed to who met who, or who did what unspeakable action was a heavy detractor in the decision. 3) What things do you consider when creating a new universe? By this, I mean considerations between canon and personal ideas about how things work. Going back to my answer to the first question, I want to escape. What could I do to alter life around me to make it more interesting yet believable? I think of a concept, flesh it out, and either stick it in the “to-write” pile or toss it if it’s not beefy enough. Sometimes, I’m met with a stunning image or hypothetical situation through conversation, and my imagination dives into the rabbit hole. Putting a story in consideration, I evaluate whether I have the attention span to commit to the idea, and how passionate I am about the concept. If I know it hasn’t been done before on GA, I’m gunning for it. Two of my projects are going to be unique: Cow-man, being an anthropomophic fantasy/western, and a Pokémon story, a first for GA’s fan-fiction archive. 4) Can you explain how you develop a character from the beginning to the end of a story? Here I’m thinking about the minor character, Sarah, from the In the Shadows series and her arc in Death in the Shadows? Planning, planning… Nah, I can’t say that. I wrote In the Shadows while flying by the seat of my britches. Did I have plans for Sarah back in the first book? Oh, hell no! As much as I’d like to say, “Oh, I just made a bunch of side characters that don’t matter so I can use them when I need to,” but that would be a lie. That’s just the miraculous way it turned out. Being a young and inexperienced writer is both a blessing and a curse. Even now, it’s what I continue to do: write the story, incorporate some minor characters, and when a plot point starts to unfurl, I think whether to give one of the side peeps a spotlight or not. 5) Anything you can add about character development of main characters would also be appreciated. With main characters, I’ve kept them either relatable (Vincent) or true to their nature (Cyn). I find embodying a MC to be the best. Using Cyn as an example, what can, would, or should he do? He’s a deer shapeshifter, and hasn’t been around humanity and their modern ways in his upbrining. I… ate… that… up! Cuisine, transportation, technology. The poor guy sat on a mattress for the first time and thought he was on a cloud. My point is to dive in with a character. Make them stand out and be individuals, but be cautious. It’s easy in the supernatural and paranormal genres to make an all-mighty character without weakness. With Vincent, I did my best. He is a mage with several abilities, even before he became a lycan. What was his weakness? A lack of fighting experience and a morality that prevented him from killing in a ‘kill-or-be killed’ situation. Well that is it for this month! If you didn't enjoy this out of control train about to go off the tracks, don't worry it probably won't happen again. Aaron will be back next month, but only if you continue to send in some great questions like the ones above! Just click on his handle here @astone2292 and then click on the Message button to submit them to him. Easy peasy
  4. First Wednesday of the month, so we’re back at it. One question, five authors including me. I decided not to ignore my name on the list of authors the questioner supplied. I liked this one. Since responses are listed in author alphabetical order, I get to go first. ◊ ◊ ◊ Are there themes that can’t seem to let you go? Ideas that you never seem to tire of exploring? ◊ ◊ ◊ @Carlos Hazday The predominant theme in nearly all my work is one of the most common ones in literature: good vs evil. And in my case, the triumph of good. Whether it’s a bully having the crap beat out of him, or a crooked government official caught in a sting operation, one way or another my characters end up on top. Happy endings are the other mainstay of my work. Life’s hard, often painful, and I dislike stories where tortured characters suffer and struggle without achieving their goals. I enjoy sports, read stories, and watch TV shows and movies to escape; my tales hopefully offer readers a similar road to travel. I don’t want to write Pulitzer Prize-winning stories, I thrive on creating popular fiction that makes my fans smile and cheer, and maybe shed a tear of happiness. I guess a good summary of my favorite themes would be: Yes, we can. We may have to battle along the way, but in the end we will vanquish our opponents. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Cole Matthews I'm not sure these two approaches are themes, but they do recur often in my work. First, I see stories as snapshots in time, kind of like vignettes, that capture an episode in an otherwise full life. Characters have pasts and hopes for the future. They have past sins, current desires, and ambitions. I think this can be challenging for readers at times, because there is no real ending. Even the beginning is transitional from one point in a life that proceeds onto another point. Despite these being entirely fictional characters, their endurance past the page is important to me in order to mold a complete persona. When that sense is lost with me, the character is no longer vital in my mind. Secondly, I believe there are no truly good people and so I don't have totally 'good' characters. They are a mix of positive and negative traits. Characters need selfish traits, fits of pique, and blemishes of some kind. It only makes them more human and realistic, and I believe it makes better writing as well. One of my favorite characters is from the "Confederacy of Dunces", Ignatius J. Reilly who is truly one of the most repugnant people ever, but it makes for a riveting story that explores so many human traits. Minnette Walters' The Sculptress does the same thing. Olive Martin is morbidly obese and in prison for killing her mother and sister. There would appear to be nothing positive to explore with this character, but Walters strings the reader along with Olive's lies and half-truths until we find her truth, and in it Olive's humanity. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Headstall Thanks for the question. Themes? I've given this some thought, and went through and considered my entire story list last evening. Some things did eventually jump out at me. There is one prevalent theme, a common one for many of us writers, which I will get to later. I like to write new and different stories that challenge me, with different characters, different genres, and different subjects. That said, I have always been fascinated by human drama, and the foibles of men--the human condition, and the influences of past experiences and societal expectations. I like getting inside characters' heads and exploring the reasons behind the whys, so that probably lends itself to a recurring theme. Life and people are full of mysteries, misunderstandings, and hardships, and I believe exploring those intricacies and their complications is a driving force behind my writing. I want readers to be able to relate on some level, regardless of whether they've been in similar situations, so even in my one wolf shifter story, Morningstar: The Malaise, a central theme is 'human' society. Sort of a contrast and compare social commentary which runs throughout, and I believe that is in keeping with said theme. I am posting a story now, Endings, that delves deeply into the subject of depression, something I've only touched on, in a somewhat lighter way, in other stories, and while it is quite different for me, it still very much fits into the theme I've mentioned. For anyone who knows me, the most obvious recurring theme in my work is love, not just between main characters, but also encompassing friends and family, and how important they can be in our lives. I could never let go of that one, and I suspect I'm not alone in that regard. This might sound corny, but it feeds me something I need, and I hope it sometimes does that for readers. I should also admit that I like including a bit of 'magic' in my stories... a mystical or spiritual aspect, if not actual 'magic' itself. As for my poetry, themes do show up, but most often run their course rather quickly. My poems are a reflection of my life at a given time, whether past or present, so they pretty much run the gamut of subject matter. They feed me something I need too. Again, thanks for the question. Cheers! Gary. ◊ ◊ ◊ @northie As a writer, I hope never to tell exactly the same story twice. On the surface, my writing can stop off at a number of genres – horror, romance, drama, humour – but there are common themes. These can dominate, providing a driver for the narrative, or they might lurk in the background, perhaps obvious only to those who know my writing well. They may not appear at all. Themes only become real after several stories reference the same subjects or tropes. I write stories that branch out in other directions, particularly if they're in response to a prompt that pushes me out of my normal groove. Eric's story (Never Too Late) is a perfect illustration of many themes I keep returning to. If you've read any of my musings on writing and my life as a writer, you'll probably be tired of hearing about Eric. Sorry, but that yet-to-be-finished novel is central to my writing. In it, you can see my development as a writer, and yes, it explores a number of things which have become elements of other stories. An older protagonist – this ranges from early 30s to 60s or 70s. This comes partly from the simple fact I have no interest in writing about a teen as a lead character. There's also so much more to explore – often they've lived a life already, and that feeds into the story. A sense of being apart – this comes from my own situation. In my stories, part of a character's journey is often the lessening of that 'looking in' stance. A life changed – my strapline as a Promising author is 'new lives'. You'll be unsurprised to find this is a foundation stone of my writing. For good or bad, this is a common driver for my plots. Self-discovery – this is a more recent theme, again having its roots in my own life. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Wayne Gray I love finding value in the "worthless" or the discarded. People are not tools, yet they're often valued as if they are. Their worth is contingent on a use, and this is dehumanizing, selfish, and short-sighted. I don't know why so many can't see what it is that they're doing, so I feel this is almost a duty for me ... that I'm required to show the falseness of this inherent belief. Great question. Thank you for asking. ◊ ◊ ◊ That’s it for this month, Peeps. See you in April. In the meantime, I’m always looking for more questions so if you have any, send them my way.
  5. Welcome back. One of the advantages of asking several authors the same question is the opportunity to discern something about their writing. Their responses, shared in this blog verbatim, can give us glimpses into their style. This month’s replies may also tell us if their work is to be read one handed. A while back, a reader suggested one of my stories did not belong on Gay Authors. The complaint was I barely included sex scenes. Before I could reply, several others jumped in and made it clear GA is not Nifty. How much or how little erotic content is included in a particular story is up to the author. My views on the subject have evolved with experience. I only include them these days when necessary to advance the plot. And it’s not always just between men. Let’s see how others feel about the subject. Author responses are listed in alphabetical order. ◊◊◊ How difficult is it not to overdo the gay sex part of a story (if there is any as part of it)? After all this is not a hard core gay porn site! ◊◊◊ @JimSqu Sunbelter For me it's been very difficult. As a novice author I've been working on trying to figure out how much is too much. My first story I'm afraid is a bit too much but future ones are better. ◊◊◊ @jkwsquirrel I don’t think it’s too difficult to keep the scenes of sexual nature within the guidelines of the site. The rules at this site are quite generous. If it’s going to be graphic, give readers a fair warning. Also, there must be an actual story, not just pornographic material. There are other sites where such materials can be obtained. The sex scene serves the story, not vice versa. The key to writing scenes with sexual content is to remember that it’s all about the characters, not the action. Any good scene should reveal something about the characters of the story. The actual sex can be as pedestrian as ‘insert tab A into slot B,’ but that scene may be the key to discovering something vitally important about the characters the reader didn’t know before. By contrast, the action may be hot and heavy and filled with graphic action, but if we’ve learned nothing about the characters, it might have been fun to read, but ultimately it was a waste of time, and could have been easily skipped over. It’s all about respect for the readers. The scene should offer them something worth reading that adds to the story. Readers react very differently to scenes with sexual content. Some will automatically skip over them as soon as the clothes come off, for others, those scenes are the whole purpose for reading. To each their own. I have found scenes of violent nature to be far more difficult for sensitive readers to process than love scenes. ◊◊◊ @Rigby Taylor The manner in which writers describe actions, time, place, atmosphere, and the subtle differences between characters, is critical to success. Describing sexual activity is no different from describing any other activity; there must be sufficient detail to create the mood and flesh out the characters, but not so much that nothing is left to the reader’s imagination. There's a fine line between enough description to set the scene, and what is called ‘over writing’, in which everything is described in excruciating detail, interrupting the flow and risking boredom in readers who don’t need to know the make of the coffee pot or the precise position of the light switch. Three things are essential to life—food, shelter and procreative sex. If I had to choose two, they'd be food and shelter. Starving people dream about food, the homeless dream of a safe, place to sleep, and a surprising number of people in our societies fantasise about sex. [Apparently, in societies where children are taught that nudity and sex are as natural for humans as for all animals, the ‘western world’s’ obsession with those two things is considered somewhat perverted.] It’s a good idea for authors to ask themselves why they want to include detailed, graphic descriptions of anything, not only sexual activity. Will all the extra details further the plot and provide greater insight into the character and behaviour of the participants? Serious writers are sparing with detail, because as in every aspect of life, more than enough is too much. Sex is seldom a totally serious activity. Usually, even where there’s love there’s a bit of embarrassment, humour, exploration, shyness, insecurity… that readers can identify with; their imaginations filling the gaps in ways that please them—provided the writer’s left them with something to imagine. The writer Christos Tsiolkas was once asked how he worked out how much explicit sexual detail to put in. His reply was to the effect that after writing a sex scene, he has a wank, re-reads it, then deletes most of it. ◊◊◊ @Timothy M. Very, very difficult. After all, before I joined GA almost all my stories were centered on erotic situations garnished with reality and hardly any plot. I have to admit I miss writing PWP sometimes. (assuming the PWP = porn-without-plot is a common term ?) ◊◊◊ @Yeoldebard I do not find it difficult at all. For me, sex, whether straight, gay, or otherwise, does not make a story, it is merely a tool to show the love between characters in a way that other scenes might not be able to. ◊◊◊ That’s it for February 2020. We’ll be back in a month with more for you to discuss. Oh, yeah, let’s hear what your opinion on the matter is!
  6. 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
  7. 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?
  8. 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
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