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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. ATTENTION: All COVID 19-related restrictions have been lifted. The pandemic is over! Ooops, April Fools’ Day here in the old U S of A. Welcome back! And welcome to the best month of the year. We celebrate fools—we all know a few of those—this month. Mother Earth has her day this month. My niece—didn’t I just hold her as a newborn?—will turn twenty-four this month. And a foolish, tree hugging, white-haired, old biker has his birthday this month. Happy April, y’all. The member who sent in last month’s question also asked something of poets. Due to the total number of individuals involved, I decided to feature them in separate months. And even though not all poets I contacted replied, the responses we do have are outstanding. ◊ ◊ ◊ Do you have a favorite metaphor? An image or analogy you come back to again and again? If so, what is it about that metaphor that draws you back? ◊ ◊ ◊ @AC Benus When I first got this question, I thought, "No. I don't go back to well-worn ideas over and over...." And then, lol, I thought of a couple of things that I have gone back to a few times. One seems to be the "Alice in Wonderland" theme. It has appeared several times as allusions in my poetry, and then, last year, it somehow wound up being the central theme in my havin-a-baby novella Finding Joy. Another area I come back to is more nebulous. This especially shows up in my poetry as opposed to my fiction, but I use concepts and theories from Physics as metaphors. String Theory, the Butterfly Effect, Quantum Mechanics, and many more wind up as ways to express the sort of mystical connections some of us feel for others. One area I have plans to write a prose piece deals with discoveries made by a doctor of Anesthesiology concerning the human body and reactions people have far, far, far below the conscious level. So, thank you for your question. It really made me think ◊ ◊ ◊ @Mikiesboy Hmmm , interesting question. I write a lot about depression, i have lived with it for many years. To me it is a soul and spirit sucking vampire. I often use words such as fog, darkness, viscous, heaviness and chains, to describe it. I included some samples in my answer: In the early morning I can hear its song though its wee small voice is fleeting my soul yearning for something more and sadness I can feel comes creeping And the tears sit waiting but are not wept for what earthly good will it do? I can cry for an age but it would not be enough There is no cure for what ails, not even you You speak of hope but I have none at least I don’t today But I cannot do what must be done To take this pain away On days like this I am tired of life of the pain I carry like a canker It’s a Dickensian chain heavy and thick and its weight wants to drag me under I like words with texture. To describe clouds for example: felted or woolen skies. Here is an other example of clouds: Whales of gray clouds drift past my windows blown by on fierce seas of gusty wind While the sun teases and taunts us with golden rays The first cold of winter is triggered and as the first flakes fall i think spring And i write a lot about life and what it means, i write what i see and feel about it and people: I walk in the world, a pretender, a lonely visitor I don't know the path and there is no map There is no place to stop to ask for directions I watch the world around me and despair People don't see outside, their universe is inward It easier to ignore the downtrodden, to close our eyes Our houses are crammed with baubles Shiny toys that blind us to what is right in front of us And we scamper on whirling wheels Like hamsters ignorant of life's meaning I am one - and there's no reason or rhyme Ours is to race to the end; to the finality of death Desperately I search my cage for a map Seeking the reasons for my incarceration But i am terrified to take that step Afraid of what i think life really means. I hope that answers your question and the examples helped a bit. Thanks for the question. ◊ ◊ ◊ @Wayne Gray Yes. I love the power of storms and the ocean. They're these tremendous forces of nature - awesome, impossible to stand against. Instead we're battered about, forced to simply endure. If we're lucky, we're looking at them from some safe place, marveling at their power. You can see my take on them both here. Thunder Just Breathe Thanks for the great question. ◊ ◊ ◊ Hope you enjoyed those as much as I did. We’ll be back next month with another edition. In the meantime, send me additional questions for any of our authors, and I’ll do my best to have them answered.
  7. Welcome to the final installment of Ask an Author. Yep, you read correctly. I’m out of questions, so unless I get a few new ones, there will not be a December blog entry. In the meantime, a member sent in a query for several authors. "Which is harder to write and why... short stories (so much has to be crammed into so little space) or a chapter story (so much research to get it right, like CJ and his environs or Donny and Louis in Mikiesboy's Changes & Changes Again?) @Carlos Hazday Unless it’s a throw-away flash piece, writing a short story’s harder than some chapters in a multi-installment story. Part of it, as you mention, is the need to cram so much into so few words. Just because it is short does not mean it should be incomplete. Leaving certain blanks to be filled in by readers’ imagination, does not absolve authors from the need to provide a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even when creating a slice-of-life tale, the need for a structure remains. If not, a shopping list could be considered a short story. Now, there’s an idea for a prompt. Anyone interested in writing a flash piece with ‘The Shopping List’ as the title? A chaptered novel or novella is definitely more difficult than a short story; mostly because of the time required to research, write, and edit. You ask us to compare an individual chapter within such a tale to a short and in many cases those can be easy. Every long tale has a rhythm; some chapters are full of action while others not so much. Those slower chapters can be easier to create. Giving readers a break from non-stop action allows us to write atmospheric chapters. A quick glance at past events, location descriptions, or small romantic interludes can round out the story and provide the breathing space needed before plunging back into the maelstrom. @Mikiesboy Which is harder to write and why? Wow, okay, let’s see. They are not really comparable; they are two different things altogether. It’s a skilled author who can write a good short story and that’s not just my opinion. Anyone who wants to or thinks they can write, should start with short stories (yes, Virginia, there are always exceptions to any rule). They help you learn plotting; help you find your voice and style. They will help you develop the skill you need so you can write that novel you want to write. Okay, this isn’t answering the set question. Short stories normally have one main character and plot, while novels have more and may have a number of subplots. Short stories are not shrunken novels yet they must have a beginning, middle/climax and end/twist. To me a short story should be around 7,500 words or it’s drifting into novella territory. That’s a chapter in some novels. Novels, though, should not be long rambling things that go on and on just to raise the word count. Unnecessary words, subplots, and the continued introduction of new characters, show up very quickly. They muddle things. Long descriptions, and character’s mental diarrhea (in other words, a lot of Telling) make your novel a long trip to Dullsville. But novels let you show your world to the reader, up close and personal. So, which is harder? The answer is both, each have their own personality, and needs. Each must be written differently, if they are to work. @AC Benus Right now I’m tackling a new genre of book, and the research needed to do an historical murder mystery is driving me insane! Well, okay, it’s not that bad, but it takes a lot of time. However, is an honest to goodness Short Story any easier than a novel? The two are not scalable. A novel can’t be boiled down without harm, and a Short Story cannot be “padded out” to 20 chapters without losing its soul. Both require individual types of inspirations. Short Story inspirations are probably rarer, which makes GA’s writing prompts such a valuable asset. Keeping in mind that real Short Stories should have twists at or near the end, one can look over the posted prompts and see if anything sparks. Once the idea comes, a Short Story can be organized and written in a few days. For me, it’s all about the drive to get it out. There is almost a kinetic buildup, and the story itself should flow easily if you are ready to write it. With novels, first and foremost, novelistic elements should be present. I guess these are unexpected turn of events as well, but very large-scale ones. Think of Oliver Twist. The boy runs away to London, and through some accidents, is eventually placed in very home of his dead mother, with his grandfather and aunt. Fate has stepped in, and we as readers – just like Twist himself – know nothing about this till the very end. Novels can do these things very well, where in Short Stories, they seem artificial. The why of it is, novels offer more room to explore and develop people, situations and relationships. But they take more time to plan and write. So, it is easier to get started on a novel, but easier to finish a Short Story. That is my backwards conclusion @northie Well, there's something to make me think. In my case, a 'short story' can be anything from micro-fiction (under 50 words) through to a tale that stands on its own but has in excess of 10,000 words. As you might expect, both extremes have their separate challenges as well as some similarities. I regularly post flash fiction pieces on my external blog, written to one or more prompts, which have to be 750 words or under. The prompts are posted on a Saturday; the entries have to be in by the following Wednesday. Finding an idea that fits exactly into the word limit is key. There's enough space to tell a complete story with all the components you'd expect, but it must be focussed, and pared back to the essentials. I have a chequered history in this respect. One of the worst comments you can receive is 'This is a great start'. It's difficult to let go of an idea when it can't be made to fit, no matter how many words I excise. Writing such a piece is an excellent discipline in being concise, showing, not telling, yet coming up with something that grabs a reader's attention. At the other end of the scale, finding a story to fit is still key. Yes, the canvas is larger, allowing more detail, conversation, and depth. However it must leave the reader satisfied that the story is complete: no hanging threads, no redundant characters. It has to gather momentum throughout, with little room for diversions. Questions might still remain – that's OK. Sometimes it's good to leave people wondering about what happens after the conclusion. I have much more experience in stand-alone shorts than ongoing stories. That said, my two chaptered stories are where I feel my learning is more apparent. One thing I wrote early on in my writing career was the first chapter of Never Too Late. Here I am, a little over two and a half years later, preparing to close the second volume. That story in particular documents what I've learnt. Quite apart from my increasing technical knowledge, this is where I've discovered story and character arcs. And becoming so wrapped up in my principal characters, they talk to me; direct the story almost. That depth of characterisation means I have to spend much more time discovering just who they are. You can't get away with the outline sketch that serves for a flash piece. The locales are another matter. I started out in Eric's story not naming anywhere; in a way the intimacy of the first few chapters doesn't make this a problem. Gradually it became more of an issue; this combined with my increasing confidence meant that when the second volume began posting, most places are named except for his home town. Yes, they're real places and what I describe bears some resemblance to reality. To come back to your original question of which is more difficult – my answer would be neither. Written properly, both long and short stories should challenge authors. I know they do me. @Geron Kees I have to say that I don't see much difference between short stories and longer ones, other than the time involved in creating them. I usually write long stories, anyway. I have written some stories that were planned as chaptered tales from the get-go. I don't think there is more planning for a long tale than then a short one. I research subjects as I need to while moving along, so while it does require more research for something longer, there is no more planning involved, because I start with an idea and simply create the balance of the story as I move along. I know some writers plot out the whole tale before they start, but I don't do that. So I'll have to say that neither format is more difficult, and that one just takes longer than the other. If anything, very short pieces are hard for me, because I generally wind up with more ideas I want to add, and have to stop myself before it gets out of hand. That’s it for now. I hope someone hears my cry for help, and we get to visit again next month.
  8. 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.
  9. In October 2017, @Renee Stevens resurrected the popular Ask an Author GA Blog. Two months later, I was entrusted with coordinating the monthly feature. Including this month’s entry, the blog has featured 119 responses by 66 different authors. I’ve been lucky with readers asking question and authors providing replies. Over the last 24 months I’ve been astounded by their generosity in answering whatever I asked of them. Only twice was my approach rebuffed for personal reasons. Out of all the responses shared, @AC Benus leads the pack with nine. Here’s number ten: • Is a particular form which inspires a piece of poetry, or do you have an idea, then find a form that fits? Is the discipline needed to keep to a form part of the creative process, or does it represent another, different challenge? • • This is a deep question, as it’s a bit of ‘chicken or egg’ coming first. Not everything leading to writing a poem comes from the same place. Sometimes the idea itself comes first. That happened when I was inspired to write one of my Kevin Poems. It was based on how I relished being with him, and how he stimulated all of my senses. As that suggested a form with five something-or-others, I immediately thought Ballade! Knowing I could use those stanzas for various senses in turn came back to inspire me more. My original concept was limited to the five basic senses, but Ballades have a final section called an Envoi, so my poem expanded to include thinking of Kevin with my sixth sense. I’m happy with the way that poem turned out. A Ballade being a French form, there are others in that family of poems that are so difficult to render in English, you almost have to decide first “Okay, I’m gonna sit down and write a Triolet (or Sestina, or Pantoum) today,” and then figure out a concept which lends itself to all the elements of repetition needed. Naturally, a poet can get to the point where these forms are keys for them, but it would take work to get to where inspiration comes first. So, lol, the answer is “Yes!” Sometimes the inspiration leads to a form, and sometimes the form comes first and you have to find a subject that works best with it. Thank you for the question! • • • AC’s position atop the list won’t be challenged for a while; three authors are tied for second place on the list with five responses each. One of them is @Graeme • Question 1. Presuming your children know you are gay, are they also aware that you write gay fiction? If your answer is no, go to question 2. If yes, go directly to question 3. Question 2. How have you managed to keep this a secret? Have you any plans to tell them in the future? Question 3. Have they ever read any of your work? If so was it on Gay Authors? Question 4. How did they react when you first told them and how interested are they in your work as an author? Are they indifferent about it or do they take a keen interest or even have some kind of input? • • My kids don't know I'm gay. I discussed this with my wife several years ago and we decided that there was little point in saying anything to them. Doing so would potentially have prompted them to wonder if my telling them was the prelude to my wife and I breaking up. Since that's not happening, we decided to keep things quiet. One of the reason (and it's onl yone reason) is one of our boys was being bullied at school. My coming out would have potentially openned him up to more bullying, and there was no way I wanted to be responsible for that. He's now in university, so that reason is now gone, but the youngest boy is still in school. Having said that, we're not adverse to discussing gay issues at home. During the Australia-wide survey on whether to change the definition of marriage to allow same-sex couples to wed, we discussed the matter with both of our sons. We gave them our views, but we told them that this was a matter for them to decide for themselves. After a lot of thought, our eldest boy (who was the only one old enough to participate) decided that love was love, and voted accordingly. I suspect my youngest son may be aware that I'm gay, since he's seen me visiting GA several times, but he's not said anything. This is something my wife and I may revisit in a few years time, but we'll probably wait until the boys have completed their education before saying anything. As for my writing, the boys haven't seen any of it, but my wife has read most of it. She gets copies before they're posted online I've valued her comments on the early drafts many times. • • • I’ll close this anniversary edition by featuring a younger author. I’ve had the opportunity of working with @WolfM and was delighted by his willingness to learn and interest in improving. I wish more authors would be as interested in improving their craft. • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? • • The short answer to that is I don’t. On the stories I’ve written so far, the research comes later in the process. In the case of The Journal of Chris Williams, I had the entire outline of the book written in about three or four days. Size wise, it was about half of the final release, but it gave me the framework to fill out the rest of the details. The research came when I did fill in the details. I’ve never been to the Portland, Oregon area, but knew that’s where the story would take place from his exile in RWTP. Trying to find things for him to do, I spent a lot of time on Google Maps. From there I picked a place outside of the city for the wolf pack to have its hometown and took advantage of the sights available. Finding a fire lookout tower that is available to rent ended up giving Chris a good bonding experience with his escorts as they did repairs to it. Learning the glaciers on Mt. Hood for a run with friends in their fur, or the tours available at a hydroelectric plant added to things the characters could do. Even finding there is a large rock fireplace in a hotel the family goes to for dinner is something I don't want to overlook. I took the same approach in RWTP. Once I settled on something I wanted to use, I would look for details. I know a lot of writers spend a lot of time doing research up front, but for me, building the framework and then researching the details seems to work. • • • I’ll close this anniversary edition by once again thanking all members who’ve sent in questions and the authors who’ve answered them. No time to rest though. I have next month’s issue set but I’m out of questions for subsequent ones. Take the plunge, pick an author you like, and send me a question for them.
  10. Happy New Year! We are back and this month our blog entry focuses on poets. Figures my first themed entry would be about a subject I rarely understand and often avoid. However, I’m here to pass your questions along, not to editorialize on what I like. So let’s get to it. • • • • • This month’s first question is for asamvav111. Hailing from India, he’s an example of GA’s worldwide reach and membership. Don’t you all think GA should underwrite my travels so I can ask future questions in person? A member since 2012, this young man posted his first collection of poems in 2017 and has quickly garnered a solid fan base. • There is a certainty and deep conciousness that comes from your poems. What does poetry do for you? Is there a poet that you recommend we all read? • Poetry as an art has so many facets, it is difficult to choose one. In my poetry, I always try to capture a mental state or an emotional response & give it flesh. Poetry begins with poesy, the act of creation itself. Everyone of us are creating our own reality, commissioning our own funhouse of mirrors, every day, every moment. I just use words to give others a glimpse into the one inside me. I think, we should read every material we can get our hands on, because it helps develop our own art & our own critique. Beside all the old masters like Wordsworth, Whitman, Baudelaire, Frost etc, I would suggest to read our very own AC Benus, Parker Owens, Mikiesboy. And also join us in Live-Poets-Society where we have wonderful discussions on every possible aspect of poetry & showcase our work. • • • • • Asamvav111 recommends three GA poets so let’s hear from them. Mikiesboy’s one of those members everyone seems to like. His friendly and thoughtful disposition when dealing with others has endeared him to many. Adept at poetry and prose, I’m not sure how he finds the time to write, edit, and beta read for others, and participate in his Drop in Center forum thread. • Why does free verse appeal more than anything else? • Free verse may sound free but it isn't, there are still poetic rules that apply. There must be flow, meter is important even in free verse, and it must be written poetically. You can't just write down sentences and call it a free verse poem. Why do i choose it? Well, it suits my mood normally. I don't always want or even like rhymes. One exception is the Rubaiyat, it's a form i really enjoy writing and i like the rhyming pattern of : a-a-b-a; b-b-c-b; c-c-d-c; d-d-e-d; e-e-f-e. This is a real challenge. But free verse lets my thoughts flow more than other forms that are more restrictive. • • • • • Parker Owens asked me to beta read one of his stories earlier this year and I can’t thank him enough for it. It was a pleasure to do so and I discovered Parker was open to criticism and suggestions unlike some authors. However, his writing is not limited to prose; his poetry collections have earned him the respect of other poets as we saw in the first entry on this blog. • Do you think your math skills and musical ability contribute to your innate sense of form and meter in your poems? Your ability to look at your surroundings and use mathematical and scientific principles as allegories to love and life is quite remarkable and definitely unique. Do you look at an object or read a mathematical concept and see the poetry within? Or do you have a poem in your head and look for a concept to fit it? • I wish there were an easy description of how music and mathematics relate to what I write. Often, it has their interplay that conveys to me a sense of balance and sound to each line or couplet. If I listen to what gets scrawled in my notebook, I hope to hear something as compelling as my favorite music, or as true as any axiom. Frequently, I am taken by the sound of a scientific or mathematical word, and a poem gets built around that. Words like implicit differentiation and lanthanide series have their own rhythms and stories to tell. A few times, someone has dared me to write about a concept that was foreign to me - such challenges have proved irresistible. Often enough, it is what I see my students reviewing in their study halls that plants those words in my mind. Thank you for asking! • • • • • We visit again with AC Benus in this installment. Last month he answered a question about his Christmas at Famous-Barr series; in this entry, he addresses his poetry. Poems are more prominent on the site than when I first joined and a lot of the credit goes to AC. He’s encouraged, prodded, and mentored poets to the point they have become a vibrant subset of the community. • You write sonnets beautifully. What advice would you give someone starting out? Are you self-taught? If yes, what did you do to become such a good poet? • The answer to am I self-taught is yes. As for advice, I’d say listen to your heart and what moves you. Poetry is all around us at all times, in song lyrics, in jingles, in the lessons we learn in school, but maybe one day something will break through and make you go ‘wow.’ That happened to me the first year of high school. There was something about Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn, and particularly the concluding lines "Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all we know on earth, and all we need to know," that made me wake up and want to write myself. So I’d look for that moment and that piece of poetry, in any style or form, that makes you go “Oh…”. Learn from it and figure out what exactly the poet did to shake you up. After that, read as much as you can, and get busy writing. Thanks for a great question, and I will post a longer answer in Live-Poets Society, so please look for it. • • • • • That’s it for this month. Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season and the New Year brings you health and peace. Remember to send me your questions so we can discover more about our authors, their lives, and how they craft their stories. How about we focus on the authors of your favorite love stories next time around?
  11. Hello February! By the time you read this, stores will be full of red and pink decorations. Chocolates and love cards will be prominently displayed everywhere. Florists will be busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger in a windstorm would. And GA readers will be searching for love stories to read. Our focus this month is on the authors of three such tales. • • • • • @Rip Skor I was not aware of Rip Skor’s Boy Story until one of its fans sent in a question for the author. The story’s description and Rip’s reply to the question have led me to adding it to my reading list. Moral of the story? If you are an author, how you describe the story when you post it can gain or lose you prospective readers. • I happened upon Boy Story a while ago, and it was hard to resist Matt and Parker. It was great watching their romance unfold and seeing them live their lives. You mentioned the story is semi-autobiographical, so, why was this the time to tell it and how hard was it to separate fact from fiction? And since it is the month of Romance, what is the best love advice you’ve received? • Being an English Major, I've always written well, but I hate to write because it saps a lot of my energy. So the fact that I put pen to paper seems perplexing even to me. I was sitting at home with Parker one night and we watched another horrendous gay-themed movie. They always seem to end up sad, as if it's some kind of penance for being gay. Just look at Brokeback Mountain for example. Can't a gay love story have a positive ending, yet still be entertaining? Can't a gay love story keep itself from getting mired down in gay culture, which turns off most straight people? Parker said, "You're a good writer, why don't you show them how it's done?" That started the ball rolling. Only problem is I had no idea what to write about. I find it easier to use real events even if just for a framework to build around. But once I turned the faucet on, things came flooding out, like I was watching a movie. One of my college professors said "Write about what you know." So I wrote about what I know...my life. Specifically, when things drastically changed for me, yet kept me feeling alive and happy and thankful. Parker had become like a drug that I could not live without. Being with him fed my soul and I guess that's where the term soul mate comes from. Others have experienced the same kind of all encompassing love. I didn't change much of the events. I did compress the timeline a bit to keep it moving. Otherwise we'd be on Chapter 247 by now. I kept most of the names the same where I used only first names, I changed my last name and Parker's last name to protect our privacy. So there was not a lot of fiction to separate from fact. Like Parker winning the car in a drawing that Aunt Helen entered him in really happened! My Grandmother hit the nail on the head when it comes to relationships. She simply said "Be good to each other." I found that's how you keep romance alive. • • • • • @Headstall Headstall began posting Cards on the Table three years ago, in January 2015. Since then, the story’s sixty-three chapters and over 300,000 words have attracted nearly 180,000 views, 2,700 comments, and over 300 followers. I think it is fair to say Gary’s story about two hockey-playing friends taking their relationship to a new level struck a chord with readers. This has to be one of the all-time most popular love stories on the site. • How difficult did you find it returning to Cards on the Table after a long break? Had your writing style noticeably changed since you'd last written a chapter? Did you have to alter anything to get back into your previous style? • There was a lot of emotion/angst involved with my return to Cards on the Table. The biggest thing that made it difficult was the guilt I carried for being away so long, and the pressure I put on myself because of it, at a time I really needed a good extended rest. I had no intention of taking such a long absence. This new, strange story was making a heck of a racket in my head, and I had already taken breaks in the past to write two other stories (Song and Dance and Treading Water), and both had gone quickly. But, Morningstar: The Malaise, my shifter story, turned out to be a different animal (sorry... couldn't resist). I really thought I could write the bulk of it and then return to CotT, writing both at the same time, but it was such an intricate undertaking, it became impossible to go back and forth between these two epic length stories. I found I could write anthologies during that time (four of them), but only because they were relatively quick endeavors. Consequently, I was nervous about returning to my original story. Morningstar was still living in my head, even though Book One? was complete, and after a year and a half of living it, it was hard to let go. That whole time I had been barraged with requests to get back to CotT, and I felt a very real pressure. I learned a huge lesson. As far as altering my writing style, I will say this: my writing is always evolving. It has from chapter to chapter and book to book. The first chapter of CotT is much different from the latest, and eventually I will clean the whole thing up. A better question might be whether I could fall back into Michael and Kendall's world with ease. It was the question I had, and I found the answer as soon as I started writing the 'Christmas Cards' chapter. It was a huge YES. It was like I never left these guys at all. Every character was right there waiting for me, and I can't begin to tell you how relieved I was. I had Kendall's inner voices and sense of self in my head and on my fingertips, and Michael's sense of humor and fearless approach to love were still a part of me. Even Nate and Bodie were every bit as nuanced as they've been from the beginning. So, even though my skills may have improved while being away, I don't think it has altered the essence of Cards on the Table in any way. Thankfully, judging by the comments, the readers agree. I hope my long-winded reply answers your question. Thank you for your interest. • • • • • @Renee Stevens Our final author this month is Renee Stevens. I suspect the woman does not sleep a lot. How the heck else is she able to have a life and still serve as part of GA’s staff, coordinate weekly blogs, anthologies, author promotions, and who knows what else. From personal experience, I will vouch for her support of rookies; she is always willing to share what she has learned. Of course, she is an author first and her love stories about rugged, working men enjoy huge popular support. • I read Puppy Love after it was featured in a recent blog. When compared to your other love story I've read (Studly Ranch Hands which I loved) both have a similar feel. Kind of an open country atmosphere. As some of the blog comments mentioned, the quality of the old story is not as good as your most recent work. Why? How did the changes come about? How long and how hard was it to get to where you are now as an author? • Thanks for the question! Puppy Love was only the third novel I’d ever written, and the second M/M novel. The first was Eternity and that has many of the same issues as Puppy Love does. (We won't even get into the issues that my first ever novel Life After Loss has). I looked at my files and the earliest files I could find on Puppy Love dated back to 2007. It could have even been written before then, I can’t remember, and that’s just when it was first saved in my current files. The “Why?” is simply because I didn’t know any better back then. I didn’t have the community of support back then that I had after I came to GA just over 8 years ago. Sure, I had friends who read over what I wrote and they helped improve the story line, but there are so many things that none of us knew. Once I came to GA, I developed some wonderful friendships and really started to get some assistance in improving my writing. It’s taken over ten years for me to get where I am now, and a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it and I hope to continue to learn and improve. The one thing that helps me is I make note of repeated mistakes and now I check all of my stories for these issues prior to posting.
  12. 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!
  13. 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.
  14. Welcome to the premiere of year two! I promised a special issue and here it is. My thanks to one exceptionally clever member who sent in all the questions used this month. Due to the number of authors featured, I will dispense with the individual blurbs this month. Instead, I’ll share the comment sent in with the questions: I thought, why not recycle some of our—ok my—favorite authors, in an Inside the Actors’ Studio rip-off? Here are questions from James Lipton, Marcel Proust, and Bernard Pivot. • • • • • @AC Benus • To what faults do you feel most indulgent? There's nothing indulgent about them, but I have many faults. Chief among them are the problems I tackle everyday as a severe dyslexic. Certain mistakes of my own are nearly impossible for me to "see," like barley for barely, illiterately for literally, defiantly for definitely, and one poor @Lisa had to tackle for years as my editor: finially for finally. Fortunately, when I read other people's text, I don't have these problems. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Well, assuming all the many questions I have for Him are barred, I guess he'd ask me what I learned this time around. My answer: "I learned to love and not expect anything in return." • • • • • @aditus • What do you most dislike? Regarding last year, being sick. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Surprise! • • • • • @Carlos Hazday • Who are your favourite fictional heroes? Superman- The ultimate Boy Scout. Honest to a fault, and Henry Cavill is HOT! Dirk Pitt- Clive Cussler’s character spends most of his time in the water, and owns a great car collection. Jack Ryan- Tom Clancy’s retired Marine uses brains and brawn to beat up the bad guys. Any of the bad boys created by Mann Ramblings. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Don’t get too comfortable. I’m sending you back so you can kick some more homophobic ass. And may the force be with you.” • • • • • @CassieQ • What is your least favorite word? Creamy, especially when used for a non-food related item. When I was younger, I read a novel where the heroine was described as having a creamy bosom or some kind of nonsense like that, and for the life of me I couldn't get the image of a woman walking around with boobs made of cream cheese out of my mind. Unless it's talking about peanut butter or ice cream, I don't want to hear the word creamy in a book. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Hmm. I would like to imagine him saying something like "Betcha believe in me now bitch." But in all seriousness, in this kind of scenario, I would like to hear him saying something about my family and friends that I've lost being in there waiting for me and that I could go and join them. It's a comforting thought. • • • • • @Cia • In what country would you like to live? I'd live in Ireland. I have red hair and a metric ton of freckles. Not to mention the whole burst into flames in the sun thing. I'd finally fit in somewhere! My husband called me an Irish vampire and made the kids bust out laughing by trying his best mix of Dracula camp and Irish brogue with the quip, "I vant to suck your Lucky Charms!" • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Well, even in a question/answer scenario I can't really make believe the whole "God might say...." answer. I'm an atheist through and through. If there is something beyond this body when it finally craps out on me, I'd like to think it's another one, because there's still so much to learn and experience. I hope we get more than one chance even if we don't know it. All matter remains matter, right? Besides, I'm a redhead. We steal souls, one per freckle, apparently. Pretty sure that'd send me right down to the Abyss instead, and the Devil would be welcoming me as his right-hand woman since I have innumerable freckles, so clearly I brought a LOT of business with me. • • • • • @Cole Matthews • What is your idea of earthly happiness?  These are interesting questions, to which my answer is about the same. I believe we were born to do good and help others by being ourselves. I believe that for a person to achieve happiness, they strive and work toward becoming their best self. This path and series of achievements are the most positive possible manifestations of happiness. True joy comes from your work and effort during the process of becoming you. I'm always happiest when I've done my best. Success for me isn't winning, per se. The honest, earnest attempt is the achievement. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? When I arrive at the pearly gates, I hope God says, "Good job! You have done more good in the world than ill. You've atoned when you trespassed. Your soul is shining with the light of your happiness. You are tried to be a good example and to ease suffering of all kinds in others. Sometimes you've fallen short, but you never gave up. Welcome home!" Thanks for the great questions! • • • • • @Comicality • What profession would you not like to do? What job would I NOT like to do? Healthcare. Definitely. I'm a huge empath, and I can't bear to see people sick or in pain. Especially kids. I worked in an animal hospital for a few months when I was in high school, and I didn't have the stomach for it. Poor animals... I can't hack it. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Hehehe, and if I got to the pearly gates, I'd love to hear God say, "You know..you just BARELY made it here!" LOL! I'm not an evil person, but I'd love to know that I had some 'fun' while I was alive. • • • • • @comicfan • What is your motto? No matter what, find a way. I've had more than my share of issues and, while it might take a while, I find a way to do the things I need to. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Finally! Do you know that number of people and pets that have been waiting for you? • • • • • @Defiance19 • What are you most proud of? The what, is my ability in knowing when and how to be patient. It has served me well as an educator, and as a mostly single mom raising a son, of whom I am most proud. Today I look at the man he has become, I hear how people speak of him, how they see him, and my heart swells. I like knowing I maybe had a little something to do with that. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  You did good, kid. I’m sorry, and I know I have a lot to explain. Your family is waiting, but if you need to hit the wine first, it’s down this hall. • • • • • • @Graeme What turns you off? That's a pretty wide-ranging question, so I'm going to narrow it to just my reading habits. My other habits are private... I like stories that go somewhere. I'm pretty tolerant, but if a story doesn't appear to progress, I'll eventually stop reading. For example, I stopped reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series after ten books because, while lots of things were happening, the overall plot seemed to be going nowhere. I know that series is now complete, but after giving up on it, I haven't been able to find the motivation to go back and purchase the final few books in the series. The other big thing that turns me off are stories that feel forced. I like stories to flow naturally, and too much forcing turns me off. That's why there are some TV series that I initially liked, but then stopped watching because the writers forced things too much. Superhero/supervillain stories are a good example of what I'm talking about. Writers tend to introduce more and more powerful supervillains, which starts an arms race of more and more powerful superheroes...and it doesn't end well. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say, when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I thought it was supposed to be St. Peter who met people at the Pearly Gates? Seriously, though, what I'd like to hear is "Thank you for helping people." The best praise I've ever received from a reader was being told that I had made a difference. That particular email still makes me proud and happy. That's the sort of thing I'd like to be recognised and remembered for when I leave this mortal world. • • • • • @Parker Owens • What sound or noise do you hate?  Generally, I prefer sweet, close harmony and sounds that incline to melody. And I hate insistent, high pitched alarm sounds that keep me from thinking. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Hello, Parker. We've been waiting for you. What would you like to drink?” • • • • • @Mann Ramblings • What do you regard as the lowest depths of misery? That's a hard one. I imagine nothing goes lower than when despite all your best efforts, all your struggles and good intentions, the universe conspires against you and you still fail, causing you to lose the most precious thing you have, be it a person, place, or thing. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Good to see you! Your friends are at the martini bar and since I knew you were coming, I collected that rugby team and muscle bear lineup you like so much to keep you occupied for an eternity or two. Everyone's waiting for you inside. You know the drill, clothing optional." • • • • • @Valkyrie • What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? This is a difficult question because I love my profession. What people may not know is I'm actually on my second profession. I worked as a horse trainer/riding instructor for quite a few years before becoming a speech-language pathologist. In some ways, it was my dream profession, even though I had to give it up for physical reasons. If I had my choice of professions to try, I would say teaching English or literature, or even being a chef, since I like to cook. Or something involving travel, since I like to do that too • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? That I lived a good, meaningful life. • • • • • There you have it! Thirteen authors for Issue # 13. There are a few more like these I’ll share over the next couple of months. I hope that was as enjoyable to read for you as it was for me.
  15. It’s been a year since Ask an Author’s reboot. Although the feature appears to be as popular as ever, getting questions continues to be a struggle. Serious or silly, professional or personal, short or long, what you ask makes the monthly blog possible. Don’t be shy, tell me what you want to know, and I’ll look for answers. • • • • • A self-described NoCal gay, @Ashi puts the social in social media in Gay Authors. The man has to be one of the friendliest people around here. What many of you may not realize is he is also an author having posted both fiction and poetry. • You’ve written a number of poems but not on a regular basis. What moves you to write a poem? Do you have to be in a certain mood? Will we see more poetry from you? • • • Anyways, yeah, I wrote just a dozen of poems here and there. Honestly, poetry is not my main genre and I do not plan on doing it regularly. The prime recipe for poetry to me is some epiphany as a starter, plus some proper mood to get going, so I can put random thought fragments together. A few pieces are particularly taxing, emotionally speaking. It creates a weird contradiction, because feeling down gets my creative juice going, yet, I need energy to write. While other pieces of poem I wrote come happily in one stroke, without dragging my feet for a laborious chisel. The 99-Cent Love Poems ended with twelve pieces by design, six-hundred words exactly by accident. The title of the last poem is a wordplay. Last signifies ending, but lasting is a continuum. Pineapple is traditionally a symbol of hospitality. Sailors from Colonial time would bring back home a pineapple, signaling a safe return from an arduous journey. Thus, I am forever thankful that a few people read this journey of angst, lament and nostalgia, though love and hope are constantly on stand by. I really enjoyed writing them. Now I just need a guy to love. LOL! • • • • • From the San Francisco Bay area, we jump across the country to the Tampa Bay area. Prolific author @BHopper2 celebrates his second anniversary as a GA member later this month; in that time, he’s shared 17 stories which have earned him wide popularity. • You are normally seen writing Sci Fi, yet your latest story’s set in the modern world with a regular (mostly) dad and son, is wildly successful. Will you go back to Sci Fi at some point? Have you learned anything from writing My Son you'd apply to your other work? • • • First off, I want to thank you for reading my work, and it's my hope that you find it enjoyable. Will I go back to SciFi? the simple answer is yes. SciFi is a passion of mine, ever since I was a kid watching re-runs, and recordings, of Lost in Space (the original), Star Trek, Star Wars, and Buck Rodgers. One of my favorite memories is of my Grandfather, before he passed away, doing a SciFi night with me. We watched a couple of old movies, Forbidden Planet and War of the Worlds, and ate Apple Pie and Ice Cream. Then in High School, I was introduced to SciFi Role-Playing Games, and have been hooked ever since. In High School and College, I was in creative writing classes, where most of my work revolved around one aspect of SciFi or another. So, again, one day I will return to SciFi, and finish what I started on a few projects. The story, My Son actually scares me on how popular, and successful it has been. To date, it's been my most successful story on GA, and the story is flowing like no other for me. I have to thank several people for its success though. @Mikiesboy and his husband @MichaelS36 first and foremost. Mike was the one that challenged me to go outside my comfort zone and write something different than what I normally do. I had some notes lying around, read them over, and wham My Son was born. tim has been helping with content editing on the story. Helping me reword passages to mark them more presentable. Last, but not least, @Kitt for being a technical editor on the project. She really gets in there and helps polish the drafts off. She's working on the first four chapters, post-publishing, but I thank her for doing the job. What I've learned with My Son, that I can carry back to SciFi is to focus on telling a character-driven story. All the dodas and gadgets are nice, with epic space battles with ships blowing up in stellar fashion, but they are all secondary to the Characters. Know the characters, give them their own agency, be in their mindset when you write their part of the scene, and take chances and see where it goes. • • • • • A member of the exclusive Signature Author club, @CassieQ has always impressed me with her thoughtful opinions. But her participation’s not restricted to GA conversations, her stories are thoughtful and well written. If you haven’t discovered them yet, I suggest you get your butt in gear and start reading. • What are your biggest motivators in life? Do these translate into the stories you write? • • • My main motivator in my life is writing. I have grown up responsibilities like everyone, but if I have any free time, I like to spend it writing, or thinking about writing or planning out my storyline. Aside from that, my family is a big motivation for me. I adore my sister and my Mom and I think that comes across in my writing a lot. Most of my characters have a kick ass sister or best friend figure. During my early writing days, my beta reader once pointed out how a lot of my characters have a relationship with their mother but don't have a strong father figure in their life (my father is alive and well, he just wasn't around a lot growing up). My Mom has finally clued in to the type of stuff I write and while she is not thrilled about it, she will ask how the writing is going and was very supportive of me going to my first writing conference this year. It was very cool of her. I hope that answered your question! • • • • • Since our previous three authors are all Americans, let's finish this month with an international flavor. In the process, another author will lose his Ask an Author virginity. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Australia but have not done so, I have a suggestion for satisfying your Aussie cravings: read a story or two by @quokka. The prolific author from Down Under charms us with his descriptions and Aussie dialogue. I’m not sure how his imagination can conjure up so many different stories when I have trouble concentrating on one. • How long have you been writing? How do you deal with writer's block? • • • Thank you for the question. I began writing as a teenager as a sort of hobby, but it was never a regular thing. It wasn't until I discovered Gay Authors, in January 2012, that I began to take up writing a lot more seriously, with action and drama, mainly about Australia, being my main themes. For writer's block, I will usually just leave the story and continue on another story or begin a new story, from ideas that develop from what I see or hear in everyday life. A lot of the Australian stories, I usually don't have to do very much research, as I have either lived or visited the places, especially in my home state of Western Australia. For the other stories that are not based on Australia, I like to do a fair amount of research before I commence a story, to get a basic outline, and on occasions I have to stop during writing, to do more research. For me, it is very much like the quote from Beatrix Potter that I have mentioned in my profile. "There is something delicious, about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell, where they will take you." Beatrix Potter - 1866 to 1943. Regards Q • • • • • That’s it for this edition, my friends. Tune in next month for more insight into authors you love and those you have yet to discover. In the meantime, remember to send me any questions you may be dying to ask but may feel too shy to do in person. I promise to protect your identity.
  16. My thanks to the two members who sent in multiple questions for a variety of authors following my last appeal. I’ve been pestering the authors since and I’ll be sharing their responses over the next couple of blog entries. This month we have a couple of returning ones and a couple of rookies. In alphabetical order… Gay Author’s Poetry Sensei, @AC Benus, returns with a short question and answer. • You’ve been posting lots of older work which is great. Will we see something ‘now’ from you? • • • I am working through and posting my old poems, but I also post new stuff all the time, like the Sonnets for Tony. Mojo is also rolling out, and that's entirely new • • • • • @lmoline is a sophisticated, intelligent woman with outstanding literary taste. How do I know this? Simple, she’s a fan of my stories and I look forward to seeing her react to each chapter I post in the CJ series. Fine, that was a plug, so sue me. What some of you may not know is she’s also a poet. I Started Thinking—her initial post a little over a year ago—is a moving exploration of how our life doesn’t always follow the path we thought it would. • You’ve written a few poems. They seem very personal. Does poetry help you deal with situations in your life? • • • To answer your question, yes when I write it is my form of therapy. It allows me to release all of my pent up emotions. I can say that each poem I have written or have posted has been personal to me in some way, whether it is from early experiences in my life to current situations. I do hope to post a few more soon and I appreciate the encouragement I have received. • • • • • Can an author produce both complex and simple writings? @Mikiesboy can. In prose and poetry. His work can be delightful in its flights of fancy; it can also be moving, rooted in personal experience. Based on my interactions with him, his writing reflects his personality: a serious individual who has a surprising child-like playfulness at times. • Your book about a couple dealing with disability suddenly introduced into their lives was highly successful. What inspired you to begin writing the sequel to "Changes"? Did you just feel the timing was right? • • • What inspired the character Don, who is a doer, an athlete, a marathoner, a sports writer, very alpha, a top, who, in an instant, has all he thought he was taken from him, came from a line in a story I read when I was around 13 or 14. I cannot remember the name of the book or the exact quote but it was something akin to, "And mountain goats fall too." That stuck with me. Mountain goats we think of as sure-footed, sturdy, yet even they can slip and fall. The book was about a man who wanted to kill himself after finding himself in a wheelchair because he couldn't bear to live that way. I always wondered about that. I wondered why some people cannot find what they need to continue to live in the face of huge change. Where do they find the strength to give up the only life they have? Also, what is it within us that keeps us fighting in the face of huge change or issues. Why not just give up? So, I wrote Changes. It's really Don and Louis' story, and all the others in their lives. Because when a family member has a life altering accident, it affects everyone. And so, with that bit of background, the answer to the question is twofold. Usually, when I write characters and finish a story, I am done with them, but that didn't happen in this case. These two still had more to offer to me as a storyteller. The second part of the answer is, it is droughtquake's fault. He said something to me about writing more about Don and Louis, and what he thought that might look like. I let his idea stew awhile. So after a couple of false starts, I am writing Changes Again. Thanks for the question. • • • • • The final author highlighted this month is also the newest addition to the GA stable in this group. @Superpride posted for the first time a few months ago; his six stories—five of them still in process—have supernatural and romance themes. If those topics appeal to you, make sure to check out his work. • You seem to have a fascination for more other-worldly type stories. Where does this come from? • • • First, I want to say that I'm very grateful that you're asking me this question since I love interacting with people who are interested in my stories. With that said, I think my fascination for more other-worldly type stories comes from my other fascination with mythologies and folklores from different cultures, especially from the Philippines where my parents have come from and is a major influence to a couple of my stories published on this site. There is so much that we can learn about these stories, and that is one reason why I write my type of stories, to share my own fascination with these old stories by adding my own twist to them. This includes Filipino mythology that has fairies called diwata who can change ginger into gold and vampire-like creatures called the aswang who can separate their bodies into two, independent segments while they hunt during the night. I think another reason why I write these types of stories is because I love exploring certain concepts like people having superhuman abilities to defend humanity from an other-worldly threat and use them as analogies for today's real-world problems. In today's world that is very divided in many aspects, I want to tell stories that can be used to help us to better understand these issues while entertaining us as well by using these futuristic and fantastical themes that is my form of escapism. There is something about telling stories about superheroes, fairies and mermaids and having them relate to the past, present and even future that is very fascinating to me as well. I hope this answers your question, and I'm looking forward to interacting with anybody else in the future. • • • • • That’s it for this edition, my friends. Tune in next month for more insight into authors you love and those you have yet to discover. In the meantime, remember to send me any questions you may be dying to ask but may feel too shy to do in person. I promise to protect your identity.
  17. Here we go again, folks. Another installment of your questions being answered by GA authors. Have you sent me a question to pass along already? No? Why? I never reveal who send in the questions so you need not be embarrassed of anything you may want to ask. Hell, once I send the question to the author, I delete the message so I don’t even know who asks most of them in. I’m old and my memory’s deficient. • • • With twenty-eight stories and over 800,000 words posted in a little over two years, @Geron Kees could be the poster-child for prolific authors. His varied output has garnered a multitude of fans and this month lands him on Ask an Author with a question form one of his many followers. • I enjoy your writing very much and I appreciate that your stories span different categories including sci-fi. ROYGBIV, The Road of Dreams, and The Frost Covered Marker are a few of my favorites. Your stories though are all young adult/teen. What is it that appeals you to that genre? What is the most difficult thing about writing from the teenaged perspective? And just because we can’t be serious all the time: what is the most embarrassing thing that you’ve ever worn? • • Hmm. Very nice to hear that you have enjoyed the stories. I began my 'gay' life quite young. I grew to age nine in a suburb of Amsterdam, Netherlands, where the 'gay revolution' had already come to pass. Gay teens were open about their lifestyles, and as a youngster I was quite curious about it all. I and my best friend knew an older teen in the next block who was 16 and gay, and we started to pester him about what exactly it was that 'gay' guys did together. He finally got annoyed enough with our persistence to tell us. My friend and I were quite amazed, and curious, and...just not all that timid, I guess. I came to the US when I was nine, and was simply amazed at the backward state of sexual affairs here. Amazed and horrified, actually. But I soon learned that there was still gay life around, it was just all undercover. I found myself a boyfriend by the time I was 13, and never really looked back. I started writing on a dare. I was recounting some of the adventures of my youth to friends here, and one said I should "write that stuff down." I did, and submitted the results to Nifty, the only site I was aware of at that time. The response really astonished me. I just couldn't get over the fact that people would like to read about this! But, again, I never looked back. I soon found other sites to post on, and here we are. I have written some adult gay fiction, but I have not published it. Not yet anyway. The night is still young, as they say. I am more than a little saddened by the amount of misery prevalent in so many stories of gay youth. Growing up gay in America was tough for a lot of people. Through luck or circumstance, my life has not been laden with such misfortune. My teens were actually quite wonderful for me, and I enjoy sharing that sense with others , that being a gay young person need not always be so challenging. Sometimes, it's pretty darn nice! I really don't find it terribly challenging to write about teens. They're people, like anybody else. I was one, you were one. It's just about remembering what that was like. As I said, for me it was a very nice time of life. The adult world is more complex, and more challenging, I think. I do write those types of stories when the urge strikes me, but it simply is not as much fun, and I mostly write for fun. But...you never know. As for the most embarrassing thing I have ever worn? Well, you have to understand first that European values are different from American ones. When I first came to the US, I wore some clothing that was perfectly fine at 'home;' but which didn't go over as well here. Not quite enough of it, as it turned out. Very short shorts, for one thing. But I learned, and changed. But I have never been bashful about myself, so I don't become embarrassed easily. I guess the most embarrassing thing I ever wore in retrospect was in sixth grade, when a few friends and I appeared in front of the entire school dressed in nothing but loincloths and feathers and performed some Native American dances we had learned. Not a Native American among us, either, but the dances went over big, and girls followed us around for weeks afterwards. And, um, a few guys, too. Thanks for your interest. • • • @Defiance19 took many of us by surprise when she shared her first story on GA. It was so well written, technically and thematically, some of us felt she had been holding out on us. Subsequent offerings have not disappointed. On a personal note, Def has followed my series from the beginning, leaves me wonderful comments, and has more than once served as a sounding board for when my characters are in New York. I had the pleasure of meeting her earlier this year (she helped me celebrate my 60th) and I can tell you she’s even lovelier in person than in cyberspace. • You've written several short pieces, which are really very good. Do you see a longer project in the future? • • First off, whaat? So surprised, but I’m grateful to be included by whomever submitted this question. Thank you! I write the short stories mostly because it allows me to focus on a theme, and there’s a due by date. I do have ideas, and have things written toward a longer serial story goal. But also, other than second guessing myself I need to have a better writing discipline. Hopefully soon, I will have something completed. This is great motivation. Thank you again, for your question. • • • Having written about a dozen stories based in Washington, D.C. you would think I would have asked @oat327 for help at some point. However, I didn’t discover he was a resident of the District until recently. Had I known before, I could have asked him to hit Uproar on a Thursday night and meet with the Scandals Rugby Football Club after their practice to provide me with background info. Nah, who am I kidding? I’m glad I did it myself but I’ll definitely invite him to join me next time I’m in the city. • The Best Four Years of Adam Becker sees Adam trying to come to terms with his sexuality, and finding out who he is and how he fits, all while attending college. What are some of the things that get edited out of the story? Was your college experience anything like Becker’s? • • Honestly, my college experience was very similar; Tulane was a trip. I actually started this piece as a kind of way to kind of memorialize my college years, and much of the first few chapters especially are pulled directly from real life. The racially-tinged car accident en route from Ben and Jerry’s, Erik’s crazy roommate that they try to integrate into the group, weekends starting on Tuesdays at Bruno’s or The Boot, the ludicrous fraternity politics—all actually happened. Basically, I like to think of this as being a true story in the details; the main plot is generally fictional (I didn’t have a Kevin until after college, sadly) but everything else is generally being pretty accurate. Everything still follows the general arc of my college years. What gets edited out... considering this story is already about 150,000 words long, probably not nearly enough. In retrospect, I wish my editing had been a little tighter at the beginning; I think there are a lot of things in the early chapters that were fun memories for me but aren’t all that relevant to the plot. Once Becker met Kevin, I got a bit better with keeping focus. Most of what we lose is Becker's relationship with his friends. (Which is sad, because Tripp is my favorite character and I always feel guilty for neglecting him.) College is so much dicking around in other people’s dorms and doing absolutely nothing--that's how Becker probably spends 90% of his time and we definitely miss that. • • • I’ll close this month with @JohnAR. The Germany-based author created a universe full of all sort of critters defying the usual vampire/werewolf tropes found in most stories. He struck a chord with readers and his weekly posts were eagerly anticipated by his fans. • I was curious as to why he chose a shifter story to write, and how he came to write such a different shifter story. • • Some years ago I was stationed in a far-away country with little attraction of the male kind, so I read lots of ‘enticing’ books. And like in overall popular culture, the werewolf/vampire theme was ubiquitous. Unfortunately, most of the stories were so formulaic I got bored quickly: A big, young, hairy, dark Alpha wolf finds ‘his and only his’ gentle, blond, smooth, submissive Omega pup, takes him as his own rather forcefully as he cannot live without him (her?) anymore, and f***ks him (her?) raw happily ever after. I discovered that most of these male Alpha wolf/kind-of-male Omega wolf stories were written by women and for women (I think Colt explains that better in book MetaOrigins). The only exception are the ‘Tameness of the Wolf’ books, though those have too much sex (if that is possible). However, when I found that a gay author used exactly the same set-up I decided that I had enough and started to write a story that would break with all of those for me dreadful cliché characters. Hence, I created an Alpha that isn’t dark-haired and doesn’t get to do the f***ing, an enforcer that likes all sweet things but trips on pain, and a Beta that loves playing women for his pack’s advantage, but is the ultimate power bottom. This is crowned by the contrarian hero nerd who in no other book would ever get to do the unspeakable things he does to his pack wolves in Meta – after all he has to take one for the team, doesn’t he? Once those characters were set, my mean imagination did most of the rest; occasionally conflagrated by the cute expectations of my readers which I enjoyed to crush with OCD precision. • • • That’s it for this month, my friends. If you wish to ensure this feature remains alive, don’t forget to send me a question for any GA author. I have one more month in inventory but after that…
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Living in South Florida, the chances of a cold, snowy December are about as good as the chances of me not messing up commas in my writing. This time of year, my thoughts often turn to scaling the border wall and visiting our neighbors to the north. Oh, wait, never mind about that wall. Wrong direction. Anyway, because I’m thinking of snow, our Canadian members come to mind. The current issue of Ask an Author features a few of our authors from the frozen north. For good measure, I’ve added several Europeans to the mix. I’ve never been to Scandinavia, but I heard they get a couple of inches of the fluffy white stuff over there too. I have, however, visited Colorado and know what it’s like to fall on your ass and slide halfway down the side of a mountain. So, before we tackle the denizens of the higher latitudes, let’s visit with someone who can tell us all about living Rocky Mountain high. @MacGreg • What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? All three of these have elements that turn me on. Creative projects, vibrant, thoughtful, digging at the marrow of life; spiritual beliefs that we're all interwoven, connected in this life and meant to be here in this moment; courageous expression, benevolence, seeking truth, -finding worth in the mundane – all of these stimulate me. I could continue with intelligence, diligence, humor, loyalty, humility… but I won’t hog the blog with a laundry list of impetuses. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “You did a fine job whipping people into shape down there. Now let’s see what you can do up here!” • • • • • @Dodger • What natural gift would you most like to possess? I’ve learned how to read people a lot better than I used to which helps me to weed out those who are detrimental to my well-being. Some people can do this naturally, but I’ve been too trusting in the past and easily fooled. I’m talking about life in general and not merely relationships. I’m tougher now, but it took a long time to learn. It may sound lame but to be a good judge of character is a very useful gift to have. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? You’re late! That’s assuming, of course, I make the cut in the first place. I’m hoping there’s an appeal process in which case, I may have to go all the way to the supreme court to squeeze in. On a more serious note. Having seen the damage religion does to people; I tend to follow a more atheist doctrine nowadays, but everyone to their own. • • • • • @Mikiesboy • If you were reincarnated as a plant or animal, what would you be? I'd be a large handsome Airedale, the King of Terriers. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? You're forgiven, now forgive yourself. • • • • • @wildone • I’m still mourning Santa... With the holiday season upon us, what is your present state of mind? I`m jovial! Actually looking forward to this year’s Christmas. Since Santa has arisen from the dead, from what I can tell, I think everyone will enjoy the holiday season this year without worrying about me. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Welcome to the Hotel California. Wouldn`t that be cool? Really, I thought it would be neat if you went in to theatre and watched your life on a big screen with a laugh track and other sound effects to make it look like a black and white silent Charlie Chaplin film. • • • • • @Headstall • What sound or noise do you love?  Sound or noise? I would have to say the sounds of nature, and my horse's whinny would top the list. She's quite vocal, and we 'talk' every day. I also love listening to the conversations birds have from morning to evening, whether with each other or with me as I walk around the farm. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? If heaven does exist, I would want to hear God say my mom was waiting for me in the gardens on the south lawns. • • • • • @Ivor Slipper • What quality do you like most in a person? Kindness - especially to animals. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Err, I think you misread the date on your invitation, you're not due for another fifty years." • • • • • @Puppilull • What is your most marked characteristic? This is a tough question and I spent quite some time coming up with these few lines. I would prefer a friend tell me, but I’ll give it a try. I think I have to pick two traits: intuitive and analytical, if that is even a possible combination. To me, I see them as equally strong in myself. Growing up I more or less disregarded my analytical side and was convinced I was an artsy, flaky person. With dreams of writing for a living, I guess it suited me to think so, even if it didn’t really add up. Then, only a few years ago, a friend told me “Intuition is just fast track logic” and that made so much sense. Suddenly, these two seemingly opposite traits could meld. I need logic to make sense of the world around me, but I don’t have to spell everything out. Analyzing my gut feeling seems like a waste of time, and I prefer to rely on my intuition to guide me. Despite being prone to logical coldness, I have no problem reading and tuning into other people’s emotions. Sometimes I wish they would make more sense, though their weirdness does provide a lot of fodder for writing. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Initial reaction would be ”Wow, this was a surprise!”. I’m not a religious person in that way. If there are any powers to the universe, they aren’t a bearded man at some impressive gate in the clouds. More some sort of energy-based entity. But that could be my trekkie side talking. Even if I haven't believed in God while living, who would pass up an opportunity to meet the big guy? As for his judgement of me, I think I'm pretty safe. The mistakes I've made have been few and far between. And rather boring. The head honcho, on the other hand, has some explaining to do. Just look around you in the world today. I mean, what is going on? On darker days, I think it’s a rather cruel joke. When I’m in a positive mood, I view it as a learning experience. So hopefully, he'd say welcome and let me have at him with my lawyer style questioning. I can't imagine God shying away from some serious examination. In the meanwhile, I doubt we’ll ever get an answer. But that’s good. If we had all the answers, what would be left for dreams and writing? • • • • @Timothy M. • Mouthwash aside, What is your favorite cuss word? Well, in Danish it would either be Pokkers! or Pis! The latter is easy to translate since the English word Piss is similar. Pokkers means Pox or ‘May the Pox get you’ in the original version ‘Gid Pokker må tage dig.’ I have to admit to using Fuck and Shit a lot, because they’re less offensive when speaking Danish than they’d be in UK or the USA. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Welcome to the Heavenly Library. All the books you could ever want to read may be found here. You have all of Eternity to enjoy them.” • • • • • @Thorn Wilde • What is your dream of happiness? I guess my dream of happiness would be to live comfortably off my writing and my music. I have no need to be rich, I'd just like to be able to not worry about bills and rent, and have a bit left over for nice things for myself afterwards. I'd like to be able to go to concerts and spend time with my friends and be my own nerdy self. Basically, financial freedom, I suppose. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? If heaven exists, I guess I'd like to hear, 'Welcome! Come greet your dad and your granddad, and all your cats who died.' It wouldn't be heaven without cats. I don't really believe in heaven or hell, but if there's an afterlife, I'd like to spend it with all the people I miss. • • • • • That’s it for this month. Hope you enjoyed the format the last two months. In January, we return to the traditional approach. In the meantime, Happy Hanukah, Festivus, Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year!
  21. Happy 2019! Here’s hoping the year’s better than the one just ended but not as good as future ones. Here at the AAA (that sounds like the Miami Heat home—the American Airlines Arena!) we’re starting the new year the way same we did the last one: a poetry special. We’ll kick it off with GA’s poet laurate and the man I get more questions for than anyone else: @AC Benus • Your poetry is so good, and you so willingly share your knowledge with anyone who's interested, how did you get so into poetry? Have you ever thought about teaching? • • • Thank you for the question. Since I first read it, I've been wondering when my interest in poetry began. I think it started early, so early I can't really say when I wasn't. Nursery rhymes are with most of us as kids, and Puss in Boots is one I had in book form. I'd read it happily to myself. But on TV at the time were also great poems: Dr. Seuss' Grinch Who Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who; Disney's Casey at the Bat (the 'No joy in Mudville' poem); and also Kipling's Rikki-tikki-tavi. These all played at least once a year. Our school readers had poetry too. I particularly remember our 8th grade book had a selection of WW1 poems in one section. But it was in high school where I first thought about writing poetry for myself. In 9th grade, one of our English books had Keats' Ode to a Grecian Urn in the back, and it changed me. So, since the age of 15 I have tried my hand at verse. As for teaching, I am rather proud of my 20 Poetry Prompts, as they form a course on teaching one's self how to write, lesson by lesson (as one builds on the other). I would like to publish them in book form one day. It'd be a sort of Poetry Writing for Dummies, and the kind of book I could have used back when I was just starting. Thanks again for the interesting question. • • • • • Next, we have @Dolores Esteban making her maiden voyage into Ask an Author waters. The prolific Signature Author may be better known for her science fiction stories, but her poetry obviously captured the interest of at least one reader. • Your work is very original and different from a lot of poetry we see on GA. What inspires you? Do you feel your work is experimental? • • • Thanks for your question. I thought long about it. What is experimental poetry? Is it a category, like we have free verse, traditional poetry, and everything else is experimental? I don’t think so. I think all poetry is experimental, because poets experiment with thoughts and ideas, words and form. I think, however, the approach to and the experience of writing traditional poetry and experimental poetry is different, at least to me. Traditional poetry is a mental challenge. It can take hours, days, even weeks, to get the words, rhymes and syllable counts right. Mastering the form is rewarding, even if the resulting poem is not a masterwork in itself. It’s a joyous but often draining process. It’s about accomplishment, closing and ending. Experimental poetry, like found poetry, is quite the opposite. Poets are looking, hunting for words. It’s an adventurous process and has an element of surprise. The found results are often mediocre, sometimes utterly meaningless, but sometimes they open a door to new thoughts and ideas. They can spur imagination and thus start a whole new process of writing, a traditional poem perhaps, a short story, a novella even. I rarely write free verse, so can’t talk about it. What inspires me? I’m not a people person, not the romantic type. I always prefer a scientific article to a love story. Hence, I’m inspired by topics and the questions that arise from them. For instance, when I read an article about Ancient Egypt, I ask myself: Who built the pyramids, how and why? When I read about an exoplanet, I ask myself: Is it inhabited? What are the aliens like? I also like words that sound good to me. I once stumbled across the word ‘opalescent’. (English is not my first language.) The word stuck with me. There are other words and phrases that I like for their sound, regardless of meaning. They inspire me, too. • • • • • @Juan Manuel Sandoval is another AAA rookie and I’m loving having all these Spanish names show up. Clear indication of GA’s international and multicultural membership. • Can you tell us about the anime connection to your poetry persona? And if you’ve reached out to others on GA with similar Japanese-style interests? If not, I suggest looking through the images people post to see who you might befriend • • • I would be more than happy to answer this question. The connection of anime to my poetry persona is actually something that developed in tangent with my growing fascination with pop culture particularly things like anime, manga, video games, and music as well as my general concerns with the individual and larger society. When I watch anime like Recovery of an MMO Junkie or Sailor Moon, I see a glossy, sparkly layer of artistry that covers characters who are genuinely flawed and fearful of themselves and the world around them. Pop music is an overload of sugar tinged lyrics and sound that sometimes detrimentally detach the humanity of the artist behind them. Video games sensationalize out of this world narratives and characters that, at the end of the day, are revealed to be just as human as us. I was fascinated by how we use the glossy, the pretty, the escapism of fantasy to hide the ugly corners of our own identities while still trying to be different and human. In a way, I saw a lot of myself within all these small worlds. Anime plenty of times creates characters that are ruled by a singular trait, stereotype, emotion, or idea and so my poetry itself began to mimic that as wel. My poetic persona shifted drastically with that realization and discovery from something generic and superficial to a style of self confession and exploration. I took singular emotions, events, tragedies, ideas, people and I sensationalized all of them. In a sense, each of my poems is a living and breathing character built off of real human fears and dreams. The Baker, for example, takes something many would take for granted or overlook, baking a cake with my mother, and sensationalizes it so that people can feel the importance of it, they can feel what I feel. When my mother explained to me that sadness was a part of life I had to accept with happiness, the act of baking a cake transformed into something more than the glossy sweetness I had seen it as before. Now this cake was a culmination of a story. It was sadness mixed with happiness all sprinkled with tragedy and hope. I also counter the sweetness of the idea of making a cake by subverting it, describing it as a long and bitter struggle to figure out the recipe. I often take these images, ideas, or concepts that I think seem “glossy, anime perfect” and subvert a readers expectation by denying them that sweetness and perfection and instead presenting the raw and human truth. Me and my writing are also strangely separate in people’s eyes. People see me as myself and it’s difficult for them to attach the melancholic and cautionary tones of my writing to me, almost as if my writing was one character and I another. In a sad way, that’s just part of us as human beings. It’s easier to accept the glossy presentation than venture into the uncomfortable truth. To finish, I’d say my poetic persona adopts the glossy and beautiful surface of anime, but it ultimately shatters any hope of real life mimicking such. I ant people to really see the vulnerability of us being human and not just act and treat each other like passing extras in an episode or scene. As for reaching out to others with similar Japanese influenced styles, I have not. I’m still relatively new and I do suffer from social anxiety. It’s extremely difficult for me to talk to others, even on online platforms, without breaking down into nervous fits over if I said what I wanted the right way or if people like me or just tolerate me. It’s something I try to work on everyday and I will definitely reach out. I just like taking things a step at a time! Thank you so much for the question if I enjoy anything more than writing it’s getting to talk about it. • • • • • New year, new authors. @Ivric is our third consecutive rookie this month. If you want to find his offerings, do not search under authors, my fellow Floridian is listed under EDITORS on GA. • Your book of poetry is marked complete. You mention in your description that poetry helped you become a better writer. How has it done this? Do you think you’ll write any more poetry? • • • Poetry helped me become a better writer by first helping me say more in less words. I was not one to express myself out loud when I was younger and moving away to college I found myself experiencing life however I could not convey how I felt. I remembered that listening to music helped me also. When I combined music with my emotions I could create, with my own voice, my poems. Second, poetry helped me put my thoughts in a logical order. My mind bounces all over with different thoughts and ideas, so with poetry I had to organize for a purpose and have rhythm and life. Lastly, I could free the stresses of my past and focus on today. I am always writing more poetry! I have never stopped. I am focused on the story that I have been writing for a few years. Also, I am expanding on the prompt that I wrote for Christmas. • • • • • I’ll close this month’s feature with one of my favorite GA authors: @Parker Owens Why didn’t I have cool high school teachers like him? Adept at writing fiction and poetry, Parker never fails to reach his audience with his writing. • What was an early inspiration for your poetry? And you seem to be interested in a strict pattern of traditional meter. Why do you think that’s so? Does it relate to your early exposure? • • • Music was my earliest inspiration for poetry. I wish I could say it was great music, but my parents and grandparents taught us all an odd assortment of college songs, silly folk songs and popular tunes from their own childhoods. Most had easy-to-grasp rhyme schemes, and regular metre, as one might expect. Many of these still stick in my memory (Passengers will please refrain / from using toilets while the train / is standing in the station, I love you…). There are times when I have my pen in hand, and I can hear my father reciting Wordsworth, and echoes of my grandmother singing bad temperance songs, all the while holding onto her bourbon and water. Perhaps it is because of this that regular, traditional metre appeals to me. There is a song in the lines one writes, but the music has yet to be written. Regular metre works for me also because it concentrates language, in the same way that syllable-count poetry does. One has to choose words carefully and structure them so that they sing. I studied both mathematics and music as an undergraduate, and continue to compose justifiably neglected pieces from time to time. This seems to be an extension of that. I rediscovered poetry upon joining GA. I found authors like @Mikiesboy, @AC Benus, @Headstall and @Valkyrie to be supportive and constructive without being pretentious. Without people like these, I should never have gone back to poetry, which I largely abandoned in high school. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll try free verse again. • • • • • That’s it for this round. Remember to send me any questions you may have, may not feel comfortable asking yourself, or wish to share with the community. See you next month.
  22. Welcome back. Ask an Author returns with another issue packed with questions and answers. This month we get to hear from authors not often featured. We’ll start off with one of my favorite New Yorkers, and definitely my favorite wine enthusiast: @Defiance19 • In your fiction, you seem to create scenes where men are on the cusp of major changes. How important do you think these moments are to where you’d like to go as a writer, and to life in general? • • • On its own, ‘..on the cusp of major changes.’ is not a terrible thing, but it made me think. I can see what you mean in relation to the stories. An easy answer would be that it’s not unusual; what I write will at times reflect some of my personality and my state of mind at any given moment. We’re almost always in transition, at crossroads, turning points, facing choices, making decisions... It’s life, right? Upon introspection, at the time most of these stories were written, there was a lot of change and upheaval happening to and around me personally. I dealt with the outcome, but I’m still not quite allowing myself to trust, beyond that. It’s almost like I’m settled at the top of a rollercoaster. The climb up was rough, I know there’s solid ground after the ride down but I’m not eager for the possible turmoil I may encounter on the way there. So I remain comfortably in between. The why will keep us here all day. Keeping in mind that these stories were written within guidelines and were always going to be short, I see how I transferred some of my experience and part of my personality to my characters. I get them through the obstacle, and write them to the point where the immediate problem is solved, and I end with a sense that they will move on happily. It may have left some feeling that there could be unfinished business. Which sort of explains the few PMs for more chapters on a couple of stories. I’m hesitant to write a longer arc of substantive plot and character transformation. Because again, comfort. Maybe that’s another reason why I write short stories...one speed-bump at a time...Hmm. As to how it relates to the future of my writing and life in general? I have an idea of how I would like to end up as a writer, but no clear plan, or discipline on how to get there. Maybe when I take the ride down that coaster, it will translate in future stories. Or maybe I should get brave, dig deep, finish writing those longer stories and hope it inspires real-life changes? Eh... Thank you for reading my stories, and for a great question. I bet that’s not quite the answer you were looking for, (I may have to send you a thank you check for that self-observation) but I hope it makes sense to you. To anyone, actually... Best, Def • • • • • We travel west to the Rockies for our next victim author. I still can’t believe studly @MacGreg once had green hair! I may want to pose a question asking why at some point. • Your characters are often very hard to forget. What kinds of traits and idiosyncrasies attract you to a character? What makes a fictional person so important that you need to write his story? • • • I'm going to guess that most of my readers already know I’m attracted to misanthropes and misunderstood characters. In real life, everyone copes with interpersonal struggles and suppressed demons fighting for dominance. In my stories, I choose to write about characters who are often flawed, emotionally bankrupt, frustrated with the world. I don’t pussyfoot around their truths, I lay it all out there. I keep it real. But I also make a point to illustrate redeeming qualities, positive traits, and actions being taken to improve their circumstances. The development of characters is never black and white, just as people aren't. There’s grittiness, there’s beauty. Although I don’t write about fairy-tale romance and happy endings, no character is ever fully doomed in my stories. Even the misanthropes have hope. • • • • • With eighteen stories posted on GA, and only two of them not labeled as romances, @R. Eric strikes at the heart of the most popular category on the site. • You’ve written a number of stories, many of them paranormal romance. What motivates you to write paranormal characters? • • • I write about love. It is what I think is the most important emotion that we have. Who wants a regular guy meets guy and they start having sex? That's dull. I consider what Daniel and I had was paranormal. North Meets South is more about Daniel and myself. I think what he and I had was a miracle. I wrote Cinderfella using the same sort of magic found in Cinderella. A same gender marriage in the middle ages!? Makarovia? A modern day prince marrying an American man...with his country's approval and the support of the prince's family's support? How did that happen. Now, Blueblood 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 have been fun. The truth was, I did it to keep Daniel alive. I made him a vampire. It worked a little. Now, I am battling something else and while I do that, I am proof reading again and boy, I keep finding errors. I will write again, but I'm dealing with a health issue. My Muse has been silent. I'm too preoccupied for the next few weeks. Writing about men that aren't normal is fun. I want the people out there to see what we have as love, make them see the fantasy and want it for themselves. • • • • • From romances to thrillers. @Twisted_Dreemz has few stories posted, but the three he has shared have earned praise from several other authors. His most recent one is a Spiderman fan-fic offering. • The relationship between teenager Peter and his ten-year-old brother Trejon is very detailed and convincing in The Black Spider. What inspired you to start this project, and are you as close to your siblings as they are, if you have any? • • • Thank you very much for checking out the story. I appreciate your questions! So, what inspired The Black Spider? I can’t answer that without sounding strange, so here we go. It came from a dream. One night, I dreamt that I was watching The Black Spider as a show on television. The dream was short, but in it, I knew everything about the show. When I woke up after having the dream, I still remembered what I knew about the show, so I wrote all of that down. Even after that, I had no intention of writing the story. Readers want original. They don’t want fan-fiction. lol. But the idea wouldn’t rest. So, I wrote up the first chapter and previewed it on the GA message board to see how people would respond. The response was good, so I went forward and here we are at chapter ten! For the second question, no, I have no siblings. I always wish I did, though. • • • • • If you haven’t read @WolfM ‘s Running With The Pack, you don’t know what you’re missing. The entertaining, action-packed story featuring shape-shifters deals with human-nature and power struggles. This month, however, we have him talking about his poetry. • You started writing poetry rather recently. What do you think poetry does for you that prose does not? In other words, what does poetry do for you? • • • I actually started writing poetry several years ago. The instructor of the creative writing class I once took suggested it might be best if I worked on things other than poetry. By the end of that class he had suggesting perhaps writing in general wasn’t for me. I decided to give it another try after reading many of the talented authors on GA. I talked with Mikiesboy (aka tim) who encouraged me and AC Benus who provided some guidance and some editing. I’m not fully convinced that my attempts qualify as poetry, but I’ll leave that to the reader to decide. The response has been positive. For me, poetry is trying to tell a very short story. I suppose that is what it truly is, but since I have mainly focused on long stories, saying what I want in only a few words is difficult. Trying to learn the structure of a poem and not get stuck on one particular format is a challenge for me. This form of writing gives me a chance to explore something different and push my comfort zone. I can write about a thought, a touch, or a mood that provokes something I want to share. While I incorporate things from my daily life in all my writing, a poem is more intimate. I find enjoyment when I manage to articulate what something meant to me in under fifty words and in some cases much less. I’m not sure if I really answered the question, but it’s the best I’ve got. • • • • • Part of the series of questions previously featured, I’ll end the month with two for @lomax61. • What to your mind, would be the greatest misfortune? The greatest misfortune has already befallen, and the world, in its wisdom, decided to call it Brexit. • • • If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "Come on in, dear boy. The kettle's boiled, and the tea's brewing nicely. I've even made some of those strawberry jam and double cream doughnuts you so love. You can eat whatever you like now. Oh, and by the way, Trump is one of ours. Who says I don't have a sense of humour?" • • • • • That’s it for this month. Remember, if you want to ask an author a question you feel the rest of us would enjoy the answer to, send it to me. I’ll do all the work, and share it in a future issue.
  23. 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
  24. 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?
  25. 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!
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