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  1. Who has their holiday decorations up? I certainly do! It's the first Wednesday of December, and we have something special. It's a fantastic edition of Ask An Author! I know many missed seeing the November issue, but as Renee put it, the well ran dry. Let me tell ya, I felt the site rumble with activity and the messages came flooding in! But I'm not one to act in desperation, folks. Ask An Author relies on readers sending in their questions. Let's end 2021 on a high note and stuff the AAA piggy bank full! I want to be buried in questions! Send them through PM, snail mail, telegram, or any other way you possibly can. This... is my wish for the incoming holidays. With that out of the way, you're probably asking, "Aaron, you said this edition is fantastic. We're going to need some proof." Oh, it's fantastic alright. As a matter of fact, one might even say it's epic! Someone brought out the big guns in the questions department. I saw the name on this bad boy and I had to break out my scouts uniform to confirm I had some merit badges involving boats. Yep! Canoeing and Rowing, but I missed out on the Motorboating and Small-boat Sailing badges. Did I give enough clues? Am I starting to act like @wildone a bit? Are y'all ready for the biggest AAA 3.0 yet? I hope so, because we got three five questions for the longest story on the site! Circumnavigation. This story title is one of GA's finest gems. I haven't had the pleasure yet, but I think I'll need to take a deep dive after these amazing answers from @C James! Let's jump right in! • • • • • Circumnavigation C James Word Count: 1,080,266 / 158 Chapters / Status: Complete / Genre: Action/Adventure, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense / Rating: Mature Trevor, through little fault of his own, finds himself with few choices. Desperate and hunted, he decides that his best chance is to head out to sea on his boat, for a circumnavigation of the Earth. His boat, Atlantis, is a fifty-five foot cruising catamaran, bequeathed to him by his mother prior to her mysterious disappearance. Come along for the ride and explore with Trevor, as he discovers many things, not the least of which is himself. In Circumnavigation, you hooked me in for the long haul after the first chapter, with the prologue as a teaser. How do you manage to suck in readers so they are interested right at the onset? Some rely on a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat craving for the next chapter, but in this story, you didn’t do that until later. What is your secret to get the reader to come back? I really don't know, other than I sure do remember worrying that there wasn't a "hook" right up front. I guess I kind of relied on the title to show what the story was about, plus I opened with a prologue, set years before, when Trevor's mom vanished at sea, and hoped readers would notice it's central to the story. The story was part mystery, part adventure, and I hoped to at least show the mystery part up front. It didn't work for all readers; some did leave (for a while, anyway) after chapter one. Then, knowing that I needed to give readers sort of a tour of Atlantes (due to most being unfamiliar with big cruising seagoing catamarans) I was facing a chapter with a lot of dry narration. So, I figured that wasn't a good thing for chapter 2, and decided to do it differently; play with reader's heads a bit, and rely on their expectations - a future lover interest showing up early in a story is fairly common. So, in chapter 2, we have Ben - who was only ever to be in chapter 2, though most readers thought otherwise. His real purpose was to give readers a tour of Atlantis from Trevor, and also do some character development for Trevor (and Lisa too). It was the only way I could think of to avoid having an overly-dull chapter right up front. I also, especially in the first few chapters, tried to mention things that were not only critical to the story, but (I hoped) would make readers curious enough to look at the next chapter. One example is Trevor finding a certain box of old paperwork in the Chandlery, then not actually looking at it until a couple of chapters later. Another thing I worried about (especially for an adventure story!) was the main antagonist isn't revealed until many chapters into the story (though they'd been in it from early on). To be honest, I was very surprised that the story became as popular as it did. Trevor and Joel were like brothers. Trevor knew Joel only since he dated Lisa. Did you consider how this could be an issue with Trevor truly finding someone? How did their relationship contribute to other issues in Trevor's life? You are right, Trevor hasn't known Joel as long as he has Lisa. The story also alludes to Trevor having a bit of a crush on Joel, though never says explicitly - and yup, best friend Lisa was a rather large consideration there. I did that as part of Trevor's character development; he started off having major qualms about his own sexuality, and was very uptight about it. Joel getting him to loosen up and accept himself was the key to Trevor eventually finding love - as was seeing Lisa and Joel's relationship. Your attention to detail is amazing, which leads me to the assumption you do an incredible amount of research. Want to build a nuclear bomb, fly and land a jet plane? You are the guy! How much research was undertaken for Circumnavigation? Is it from self-experience? How do you do your research? I indeed do a lot, though I was fortunate enough to know a bit on much of this, which gave me a basis, thus making the research easier. I do know how to sail, but I hadn't ever so much as set foot on a big cruising cat like Atlantis at that time. And, most important of all, I had expert help - one of my beta readers, Red, is a yachtsman, and helped me in all kinds of ways (and on that point, my writing team gave all sorts of input and advice, and were vital to the story - this story is theirs as much as mine). Other parts, such as the radar system in Australia, I already knew about, so it was easy. Geography and scenes from all the places visited was easy as well; I've been to most of them. In fact, I think I was in Italy when I wrote some of the Italian bits, though the scene in Pompeii was based on an earlier trip (which was when I took the photos in that chapter). And harking back to Let the Music Play, there's a scene in the Piazza Navona in Rome. I wrote much of it while sitting in the patio of a cafe at the north end of the piazza. Some of the other stuff, like bits about a single-engine plane, were easy; I've flown that particular model. For other things, like Florida law, statutes of limitations, etc, I did online research to look up the text of the actual laws, plus on a couple of things I asked a lawyer to double-check me. Generally though, for things like port entry procedures, bridge heights, weather patterns on specific days and dates, etc, etc, I just look them up online (not always easy, because I didn't need current ones, I needed ones from what was already several years in the past). Online research usually works, but it also caused me to make a massive error that's still in the story. It's the shuttle launch Trevor sees. I looked up a launch manifest to get that (to make sure that shuttle was actually flying on that day in the story). Well, oops, I didn't double-check (and didn't know until a reader pointed it out); turns out, the site I looked up had an error; they'd copied the prior year's shuttle manifest to the following year's page. There was no actual shuttle flight that day, not even for months before or after, and by then, I'd posted too much of the story to fix it (it would have required a massive rewrite, as I was timeline-constrained by many other real-world events that the story is built around.) Being one of the longest stories on GA, it must have been a challenge and a hugely rewarding experience. What did you do when you just didn’t really want to tackle the next chapter, or did you have times like that? You posted nearly weekly for what two years! What was the ultimate reward when you finished? The posting schedule for Circumnavigation was... well, hard. Yup, weekly, for nearly two years. Often, I had a reserve of completed chapters to fall back on when life got in the way. Sometimes, I didn't. I was very ill for a month (and too zonked to write) which did derail the posting, but another time I was traveling for nearly two months, and had chapters ready to post before I left. Another thing that was hard about posting as a serial was the inability to change past chapters when later chapters developed a bit differently than I anticipated. As for it being the longest story on GA, that didn't phase me, because I just called it a short story. With so much passed time since you finished Circumnavigation, do you consider it your swan song? Or do you ever see doing a short story of Trevor and some or all of the cast, five or ten years later? Will I be posting more stories? I sure as heck hope so. I've promised to (in my forum) to be doing so long before now, and feel like a jerk for letting my readers down. For a while, I was burned out after Circumnavigation. Then, life got in the way, so did family responsibilities (I've been caring for an elderly family member). I've been writing again, on and off, for several years, though nothing completed yet. One story, Going Sideways, is at around chapter 20 of about 30 (and most of the chapters are very long - 20k or more words). I hope to get it done soon. I'm not posting anything until done, because I learned my lesson from Circumnavigation on that, plus I can't devote the time per week I did to writing Circumnavigation, so no way could I post on a schedule. Another story, Damaged Goods, is underway, though I'm writing it piecemeal. Will we see Trevor and Shane again? Not in Going Sideways. • • • • • I need a roll call in the comments. Shout out if you've completed reading Circumnavigation! I think I'll make this story one of my New Year's resolutions for 2022. Thank you @C James for answering these questions! If you've read a riveting story, shoot me a PM with three questions! I'll track down the author, knock on their front door, and ask them for you. All authors and stories are fair game. Ask An Author is a great way to give your favorite author a spotlight on their work! I'll see y'all next month!
  2. Wow! Time flies! It's time for Ask An Author! We're dipping our tootsies back into some fantasy writing, but with a healthy dosage of sci-fi! This one is a little special because it's a sequel. I got the chance to interview another rising star in the GA community, @Yeoldebard! As a member of the Million Word Club, this author has a plethora of stories in their arsenal. Let's dive right in! A little message from the author first! This story can stand alone, but the first story, Wolf Pack, will help shed light on how this story was born. Inspired by other Gay Author News and Writing World blogs, I'll add in a few more details about the stories we interview. Let me know if this encourages interested reading! • • • • • The Neko's Tail Yeoldebard Word Count: 94,020 / 42 Chapters / Status: Complete / Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi / Rating: Mature For those of you who wondered what happened to Elias when he went missing in Wolf Pack, here is his story. A young neko, lost in a new reality, making new friends and being brought out of his quiet shell. Elias, to me, was a beloved character in the first story, Wolf Pack. I was thrilled to see him getting his own story. His character's mentality is powerful, and he is one of the most beautifully crafted MCs in any story I've read. What was the inspiration for creating him? Elias was originally just a throwaway character, one inspired by a friend's insistence that I was more furry than anything. I decided to mix nekos and werewolves because of her, and the rest is quite literally history. But Elias took on his own role in the story. Quiet, broken, he became a symbol of me, of my own struggles. Throughout my childhood, I found it hard, nearly impossible to be heard for who I was, and Elias was my way of working through that. You'll notice more than a few of my characters are selectively mute, or fully mute, because for the longest time, I was not allowed to have a voice. They are my way of talking to the world, of getting my story out. This is a sequel. The first story is full of medieval and fantasy tropes. You completely turned this sequel upside-down, turned it around, and sent it in a direction I didn't think was conceivable! How... Did... What... Why... I'm speechless! Straight up, this is the most creative thing I've ever seen! It was absolutely beautiful! Are you a god? A writing god? But seriously, where did this come from? Elias was never truly meant to be in Wolf Pack. But I had made his character, and I couldn't let him go. He needed a different story to shine in. I had just finished reading Kidnapping Is Always an Option for the first time, and it got me thinking about why we always see modern people abducted by aliens. And I decided to try my hand at changing that. It was the perfect out for Elias. He could escape his former life, and I could start building new species, new creations, something that I have always enjoyed doing. More than that, it was a way for me to stretch my horizons, challenge myself. And it really was a challenge. I learned a lot about myself as I wrote The Neko's Tail, and even now I enjoy looking back to see my early work, to remind myself of where I've come from. At this time, I haven't continued on into the series, but that will be changing very shortly. Iason is an interesting character to me. Not much is given regards to his and Artemis' history. Is there a possibility for seeing my second-favorite Egaro in a future story? I can make no promises of seeing this particular Iason again, but Egaran Stars has a Iason that is very similar to this one. While that story is a much later inclusion to the universe as a whole, it goes much more in depth regarding both Egaro and Faro culture, and even introduces a new species discovered by Elias himself during his travels with Artemis. Iason himself is sort of a spiritual successor to another character of mine, Maximus Markhaus. His story is one of those included in my furry story, though he is not nearly as sexual as the average Egaro. • • • • • Well, that's another Ask An Author in the books! I hope y'all go check this story out. As soon as I got this set of questions, I had to read it! Give a comment down below if you've read this, or any other of Yeoldebard's stories. If you haven't, links are in the title and author's name above. If you've read a riveting story, shoot me a PM with three questions! I'll track down the author, knock on their front door, and ask them for you. All authors and stories are fair game. Ask An Author is a great way to give your favorite author a spotlight on their work! I'll see y'all next month!
  3. What is this? Is it the first Wednesday of the month? What does that mean? Why am I asking all these questions? Maybe I should... Ask An Author! We have another three questions for a wonderful author. Let's get right into it! Due to potential spoilers, some details will be redacted. • • • • • Effigy Geron Kees Michael finds himself in a predicament: someone knows his darkest secret, and hates him for it. But who? A brief tale on the subject of fear. This story spoke to me. I connect with Michael and his fears, although I was not outed in high school. Because of the area I was brought up in, it was vital to keep my true self bottled up. Did Michael have these fears beforehand, or was this not an area where he had to be concerned? Let's say that before the incident that launched the story occurred, Michael was living a cautious life. I'd say the place he lived in was about average for being gay, in that the responses to it could be expected to vary across the spectrum, and so that caution was a reasonable course to chart. He was living with the knowledge that his parents pretty much knew who he was, but also that they were comfortable with not openly speaking about it. He had no reason to feel anyone else suspected that he was gay, and so he wasn't living in fear on a daily basis. He was not out. But even so, this state generates a sort of fear-but-not-fear that lends to a moody awareness of what might come, and that it's there at all allows for it to be easily inflamed by small things. The incident of the effigy in his yard was scarcely a small thing; it virtually screamed to Michael that someone did know about him, and that they aimed to make him pay for being the way he was, as well. So he went from the moody awareness that there could be fear in his life to having it arrive full blown, all at once. Fear, depression, and paranoia go well together. To me, one can start with any of the three, but eventually the other two will follow. Writing a story that combines them hooked me. What was the inspiration to use this theme? I don't think anyone that has ever lived with what they feel is an uncomfortable secret is ever far from a little bit of fear of exposure. Paranoia is too strong a word for the way most people would probably react to having a secret they fear having exposed, but they do have a heightened awareness of the way people react to them. An alertness to the signs that others suspect. And a comfortable sense of complacency over time when it becomes obvious that they don't. A lot of gay guys are extraordinary chameleons. They so obviously fit in that no one ever suspects otherwise. For others, living a secret life makes them nervous wrecks. And still others are OUT with a force of their own, and so open about who they are that there is no doubt at all. It's an individual thing, how you handle it. So personality plays a great part in the response that someone in Michael's position takes. Fear breeds paranoia and depression, certainly. I chose to have the forcefulness of the situation initially overwhelm Michael's fairly complacent defenses, but then to have his innate strength slowly rise to take charge as he realized that he was on the run from his own fears. For this to happen he needed to transit the worst parts of living in fear, that included some paranoia and depression, but not to have any of it take him over. I wanted him to learn to deal with others possibly knowing, and become comfortable with living with it. And, I wanted him to learn to defend himself if the need arose. To not be a victim of his fear. Or the attitudes of others. When John was arrested, Michael seemed rational when stating he would be out before him or Barry would know it. While I admire Michael's attitude in this, was this secretly produced from his fear/depression? Michael's interest in mystery novels and what he had learned of police procedure from them was what prompted his comment that John would be out of jail before either Michael or Barry knew it. At least here in the US, a young offender on a first arrest is likely to be released back into the custody of his family very quickly for most anything short of a capital crime. Michael was just cautioning Barry not to feel like his troubles were over. That may have surely been a result of Michael's new awareness of his own problems, though. Confronting any fear would tend to heighten a person's awareness of where trouble might come from next, I would think. Michael was sharing his experience at that point, but it's fair to say that the warning came out of his new, heightened sense of caution. • • • • • Looks like I'm adding another story to my reading list! These answers got my mind pumping. Forget adding it to the list, this one's going right at the top! Y'all know the drill! Send me three questions about a story, I'll go bother the author, and we'll see you next month!
  4. Whoopsie-daisies! Missed the deadline by a few hours, but don't you worry! Ask An Author is here, and we got a story for you. Without further ado, let's get celestial! • • • • • The Lesser Evil ObicanDecko Edwin is a young shop owner living a quiet life in the kingdom of Wisian, but that peace is shattered when his best friend vanishes without a trace. Desperate for help, he meets a mysterious man offering his assistance - a seductive demon named Lothar. As attraction between the two men grows stronger every day, Edwin finds himself getting entangled in a conflict between demons and angels. Will Lothar be able to find Edwin’s friend in time, and what will be the price of his help? What was your inspiration for this rendition of the never-ending war between angels and demons? I particularly enjoyed the take on angels and their abuse of humanity to recruit in their favor. I play a lot of Diablo, which is a game about the "eternal conflict" between demons and angels, with humans stuck in the middle, so I wanted to try and write my own take on such a story. There was also another game where one of the characters was a demon who is trying to seduce the player, which inspired me to create Lothar. I wanted to put some of the focus on a love story between a human and a demon, and explore the whole "making a pact with the devil" trope, and how it inevitably has bad consequences. I'm glad you liked my take on angels - I wanted to avoid having the angels be the obvious "good guys". In this case, both sides are selfish and only in it for themselves, and don't care much about what happens to humanity. Mildburg is one of my favorite characters in this story. Her intelligence/power is something to behold, but I'm interested in the world's opinion. Did humanity naturally find this power, or did one of the two warring sides leave them at some point? Mildburg is one of my favorite characters too. Very intelligent, but mysterious. The origins of her and Sigrid's powers were left unsaid because I usually like to leave some things a mystery and let readers fill in the blanks with their own theories. But my headcanon is that people with such power are very rare and that they don't even know where it comes from. They are simply born with it. It could be from either angels or demons, or maybe some combination of the two. The chapter before the epilogue had me screaming! This outcome slapped me in the face. I should have seen it coming, but dang! What influenced you, as the author, for Edwin's decision? I'm sorry for springing such a big plot twist on you, especially at the end of the story! The rest of the story was quite dark, with big threats from several sides, so I knew it couldn't have a perfect happy ending. Maybe it could've been easy to have Edwin and Lothar end up "happily ever after", but I didn't want that. I wanted a more impactful ending, something that showed the sacrifices we sometimes have to make. Also, Edwin would never be able to let himself be happy while his little sister is suffering. He had to take that chance and help her. • • • • • Oh, jeez! I love a story with a plot-twist! I'll have to add this one to my reading list. Make sure to check out The Lesser Evil and @ObicanDecko's stories through the links above! If you just finished a story and want to learn more about it, shoot me a PM with three questions and I'll pester the author for you! I'll see y'all next month!
  5. I promise, I won't sing this time! But it is the first Wednesday of the month and we got three more questions to answer. As soon as I got the message to go bother this author, I put my little "press" cap on and booked it! It's @Aditus, one of GA's Signature Authors! Are you excited? I definitely am! Let's jump into the interview! • • • • • The King's Mate Aditus TKM - a three book series detailing the lives of Diarmad, King of the Seraei--an aggressive alien species--and Noel, his mate. The King’s Mate series was a riveting roller coaster ride that made me want to alternately scream, rejoice with the characters, and smack them upside the head! This seems to be a recurring theme in your stories *coughcoughRedRunningShoescoughcough* Do you think there are similarities between Noah/Nico and Jonah from RRS? The King’s Mate series was a riveting roller coaster ride... Thank you. 😊 I have to admit the idea that some readers feel connected to a character of mine so much they yell at their computer screen, telling them in strong words what to do or not to do next or else— motivates me immensely. *evil cackle* To cut a long story short, yes, even though both stories are vastly different, with RRS being a contemporary romance set up in Europe, and The King’s Mate series created in an alternative, paranormal world, there might indeed be similarities between Noël and Jonah, because... see above. This doesn’t mean all my characters are like them; I try to diversify. 😉 Was it difficult to write Caesura after the intensity of Noel and Diarmad’s relationship in The Holly and the Ivy? Yes. I couldn’t believe what they did to each other and others in the second book. While I wrote it, I was constantly upset with myself and how they spoke to me. I believe there were times I hated them so much I couldn't write. And I thought I might just kill them off and be done with it. Going down in flames and so on. That’s why I needed a third book, to clear up the mess they/we made. Ivan and Sho are secondary characters that are brought to life extremely well. Do you think you’ll ever write their story about what happens after Kabal? The story is in my head. However, after the last word of Kabal was written, I was immensely relieved. I was forced to take a long hiatus due to illness. It took some time before I could write again and find my characters’ voices. In the meantime, I had lost many readers. I’m honest, I need my readers’ feedback to stay motivated. When even die-hard followers didn’t react to the finished book, I felt too discouraged to step foot in the mate’s universe again. I’m sorry. I might overcome my hang-up, eventually, you never know. Thank you for your interest in my stories. • • • • • Wow! After the answer to the second question, I'll need to pick these stories up. This sounds intense! Make sure to click the link in the series title to head straight there, or check out Aditus' other works through the link underneath! If you just finished a story and want to learn more about it, shoot me a message with three questions. Any story and any author will do! Until next month, buh-bye!
  6. It's the first Wednesday of the month, and you all know what that means! Bringing a fresh face to the Ask An Author universe is always an interesting maneuver, and we got a juicy one! I was sent some questions for a story that differs tremendously from the last AAA. We're going from sweet romance to dark and dangerous! Have you ever wondered what a serial killer thinks about? Well, @C. Henderson did with this gripping story! ***This is a warning to potential readers. The following interview contains massive spoilers for the highlighted story. We encourage reading the story before continuing with the interview. Click the link in the story title.*** • • • • • Inhospitable Places C. Henderson After the death of his mother, professional dancer and choreographer Louis loses his job and falls into a deep depression. When his partner, Hunter, proposes a change in scenery to help Louis heal from the loss, he reluctantly agrees to move to Hartford, Connecticut. But soon after the move, a serial killer dubbed “The Hartford Menace” starts targeting men throughout the city. Numb from his grief, Louis doesn’t pay the news too much attention. That is, until his sister Francesca points out a terrifying fact: all the victims bear an uncanny resemblance to him. This was a gripping story involving a serial killer on the loose. What made you decide to use the killer's mindset as chapters? As a huge fan of the horror/thriller genre, I like to explore various dark themes in my writing. I think it's intriguing and challenging to attempt to expose the mindset of an individual with a thought process that most people can't understand or relate to. The chapters from Hunter's perspective in Inhospitable Place served in building tension throughout the story, as well as highlighting how different a killer's mind is from our own. When you read Louis' chapters he comes across as warm and caring (rescuing a dog, grieving the death of his mother, worrying about the state of his relationship) but when you get into Hunter's POV, there is a stark difference there. He is cold, calculated, manipulative and obsessive. And what's most frightening is that he's hiding in plain sight. The box's placement was a very interesting choice. Obviously, most killers desire to keep mementos from their victims, but what was the reasoning for the location? The danger of being exposed, or is there a more underlying intention? Yes, the placement of the box has meaning behind it. The spare bedroom, which is originally supposed to be Louis' studio but turns into Hunter's room when Francesca moves in, is supposed to be a place where he finds his passion for dance once again. But little does he know that buried underneath his feet are the mementos of all the men Hunter killed. It's only when he forces himself to finally go in there and try to choreograph a routine for Derek's animal shelter dance class that he is able to uncover the truth. For a year Louis avoids dancing and lives in denial while self-medicating, so it's meant to be symbolic that it's getting back to the dance studio that finally ends up setting him free. I can't get my mind wrapped around Hunter's attitude when Louis planned a nice dinner for him! What was going on in this man's mind? You would think if your partner is going through serious emotions, it would be important to give a considerate gesture for putting forth such an effort. To Hunter, the act of killing satisfies an insatiable urge within him. After it's over, he is calm and satiated for a while, then comes the period where he picks his next victim, and the cat and mouse game begins again until it reaches its final crescendo. In chapter 4, right before the dinner sequence that comes in the next chapter, Hunter is slowly reaching the crazed stage that happens right before he just needs to kill. He gives us a glimpse into his state of mind when he says: "I pick up some groceries on my way back, then return to a mundane life. The thought of what I’m going to do to you so very soon is the only thing that gets me through the night." That night, he isn't capable of going through the motions with Louis and pretending to care about the dinner his partner made him, or the effort he put into it. The mask is slowly slipping, and all he can do is go to sleep and try to stifle his urges until he can finally satisfy them once again. • • • • • I got goosebumps from those answers! This was certainly a treat. I don't read a lot of dark stories, but I think I might have to start. If you liked this story, make sure to go check out @C. Henderson's other stories on his author page! I just loved seeing a new author on AAA. Despite his dark and gloomy stories, I think we found a bright and shining star in the community! Don't forget to send me some questions! I'm always looking for a surplus of interviews, and you can ask questions about any story by any author! I'll be looking forward to your requests so I can pester our authors. See y'all next month!
  7. This is so exciting! When I joined Gay Authors not too long ago, I began reading everything I could get my little fingers on. And Ask An Author has been one of my favorite segments! When I saw that Renee and the team were searching for someone new to tackle AAA, I pulled up my ankle socks and sent her a message. I'm so ecstatic to be even considered for such a responsibility! But before we get into this, I just want to remind everyone that these questions aren't provided by the staff. Nope. That's on you, guys! Shoot me a PM about a story you read, along with at least three questions, and we'll send the author an anonymous message. • • • • • The Hollow Hills Valkyrie This story centers around The Hollow Hills - a horse farm in Vermont - and Galen and Joshua. Galen moves to New England after breaking up with his boyfriend and meets Josh. Their relationship is anything but easy, with many obstacles standing in their way. When tragedy strikes, they need to learn how to redefine their lives and live with the after-effects Alannah is such an important supportive character to the guys. What in her past made her so empathetic? Alannah had a difficult start in life. She was raised by her drug-addicted mother in her early childhood, until she was brought to her grandmother’s farm and then abandoned there. Her grandmother was a kind and empathetic woman, who passed those traits on to her granddaughter. Alannah learned to be compassionate and non-judgmental, and understands all too clearly how otherwise good people sometimes make mistakes. Who was first? Galen or Josh. Josh. Josh first appeared in a short story I wrote for a writing assignment way back in ninth grade. Galen didn’t come around until about eleven years later. How did you come up with the setting? See question #2! After I wrote that story, the farm kind of took on a life of its own. Josh needed someone else at the barn, so I came up with Alannah’s character, and then Adam’s. The farm became almost a character in and of itself, and is based on my dream place to live. At some point I want to write a prequel to The Hollow Hills, which would cover when Josh arrived at the farm, Alannah moving there from Ireland, and it would feature Adam’s story as well. It's a long story. How did you stay motivated? Any tips? I was really gung-ho when I started writing it, then I got a nasty case of the flu and had to take a several-month-long hiatus from writing. Getting back into the groove proved difficult at times, but these characters are so dear to me that not finishing was never an option. I think my motivation was the need to get this story on paper, so to speak. It was always my dream to share their story, so I’m thrilled I was finally able to do so, and that people liked it so much. I don’t really have any tips as to how to stay motivated to write, since motivation is such a personal thing. What works for me won’t necessarily work for someone else. It’s something I’m struggling with at the moment. I think taking a deep breath and a step back sometimes is helpful. Re-reading my stories can also be motivating to me. So is reader feedback. I love hearing what people think of my work, even when they’re ranting about Josh! • • • • • And that does it for this month's Ask An Author! Since Renee made the rules for me, as per AAA 3.0 #1, we are showcasing a different author for every month this year. That means Valkyrie gets to sit back and relax! Don't forget to send me a message with three or more questions so our community can discover their next binge! After all, I'm starting to run out of things on my streaming services to watch. This pandemic is really rough! Since Valentine's Day is coming up, how about we try for a real sappy love story for next month? Go dig through your favorites and followed stories, ask some questions, and we'll get them answered! See y'all next month, unless Renee fires me! Also, Carlos! I stole your dots from 2.0. They're mine now, and you can't have them back!
  8. Good news, Renee hasn't fired me yet! Even better news, it's time for another Ask An Author! As requested, we got ourselves a nice love story that will just melt the hearts of any Valentine's Day haters. I haven't even brought out the questions yet, and I know this is one heck of a Q&A session! We got some juicy ones for you in this interview with @Dabeagle, one of GA's Classic Authors! • • • • • The Right One Dabeagle Corbin's girlfriend is late after their first time. Add to that this boy named Declan that just confuses Corby to no end - who, in the end, will be the right one? Corbin is a great friend and seems to be an all around great guy. I'm curious, do you see yourself in your characters at their age, and if so, how to you capture the age and maturity of them that makes them seem so real but not told from an adults POV? Usually the only thing I see in my characters that I see in myself is their being clueless. The Corbin character has some flaws in a 'character dissection' sort of discussion. Given his mother is so sharp-tongued, one might think Corbin would be more aware. However, like many people, he's not seeing the trees of reality due to the forest of his own life before him. As far as the maturity level, my biggest error in writing characters of that age group is giving them more maturity than they normally possess. However I do know that because people come in all stripes, there are kids who are 'more mature' than they should/could be. The challenge comes in figuring out why they are the way they are. Some of my characters are that way from necessity, such as Ehren from Things We Lost. Corbin comes at it from a different direction - he's given responsibility and freedom at home because he's earned it from parents who are involved with him and know who he is. For me, I think Corbin is more life-like due to his struggles and self-doubt more than anything else. Like some of your other stories, you have a great mix of supporting cast. Some are good, some are bad. What do you find harder to write, a good character or a bad one? Do you prefer writing one over the other? I find everyone has a bestie, so it only makes sense that your characters have people besides the writer to bounce their ideas off of. For some people it's their pet, like Oliver in Boy, Bus & Key, but mostly it's going to be another person who isn't your love interest. A supporting cast takes the story off in different directions as needed - like a sleight of hand so you forget the main character has a major decision to make, but the writer feels to jump right to that decision would move things a long too quickly. When it comes to 'good and evil'...I'm not a big fan of outright evil. There are reasons why people are who they are, whether we agree with them or not. Some people would be very quick to take a character like Ryder and throw him in the clink and be done with him, but why is he doing what he's doing? Why does he deal? Why did he decide it was okay to attempt to rape Declan? Is it that disconnect that somehow it's not rape (in his mind)? Has that been perpetrated on him, so that he sees it as normal? If a boy, as they flower through puberty, spends sexual time with an adult -willingly - then does that not color how they see that when they get older? Might they become the older person in that situation because they filled the other role previously? Many people recoil and discussions about morality come into play - so you have to decide first, what is evil? Where is the moral compass before we write the character off? I'm weak on 'evil' characters because I normally don't get very far into why they're jerks. The tendency is to make them more relatable so we understand why they are jerks - which is all well and good, but doesn't change what they did. In the end, I prefer redemptive arcs - 'yes, I was a jerk, but now I know I was a jerk and I'm trying hard not to be a jerk in the exact same way' sort of thing. Not always very realistic, because when was the last time you changed your mind about something? It takes a stressor, usually, and sometimes people just double down and dig in over being wrong rather than admit fault. If I was a teenage boy (still), what message would you say you are trying to get across with Corby and Declan to all your audiences' ages and genders? It does seem to me that this story would appeal to multiple generations of readers. Well, the answer may make some people uncomfortable, but I'm going to go with the truth. I'm glad for all my readers, I'm grateful for the ones who support me with messages, questions like these, and financially. As an adult, it's nice to read about the things people have the potential to achieve that we did not. Sometimes that's a bit of escapist fantasy. But the focus of these stories is to the ones that never write, never ask questions and are unable to be part of the financial wheel that helps keep things going - teenagers who may see themselves in my work. As a group, gay teens are under-served and underrepresented. We've all been inundated with sex between straight kids for years in many forms. We've seen how straight kids have and break, fix and lose relationships. Straight kids get the chance to date in high school, to learn what they want in a relationship; what they need and can give. Gay kids aren't afforded as many opportunities, so on one level it's for them to see a potential of themselves. In quite another sense, it's to show how a positive relationship between them should work - communication, mutual respect, and self-respect. In this particular series we can see examples of each - from those that need help to get there, like Bell, to those that want someone to be clear about what someone wants, like Declan. We also see that even guys like Corby don't have all the answers, but that the important part is to seek them from people you can respect, like Nelson. That trying to be a decent person nets you friends who are decent people like Chris and Noel. No one come out of a box and knows how to have a good relationship, or how to recognize a bad one. I hope that there are teens who do read these and see how positive relationships can be, and not just accept that it all comes down to how someone looks or if they have money or a car. • • • • • What amazing questions, elaborate answers, and incredible story! I think I need to find myself a fedora and put a 'press' sticky note in it. Doing these articles is so much fun! Don't forget to send me your questions, and I'll go pester the authors so you don't have to! Ask An Author doesn't happen all willy-nilly. You, the Gay Authors community, need to send in three questions about your favorite stories. You can remain anonymous to your admired author, and you just have to send it to me instead! Don't worry, I won't bite. I'll see you next month! Buh-bye!
  9. Is it that time already? I believe so! Boy, oh boy, do we have a special treat today! We're doing things a wee bit different today, and I am so excited about it! Normally on Ask An Author, I get to pester an author about a story, but not today. This time, I got to pester one of our beloved Administrators about THREE stories! That's right, we got ourselves three amazing questions about a series! I hope y'all are ready, because we're diving right in. Here we go! • • • • • Carthera Takeover Tales Cia The Carthera are a violent race, never failing to respond to battle, they nevertheless are a proud and honorable people. Except for the ferals. Battles for territory, fighting persecution from the humans, for the right to rule, have echoed down through the ages. In these modern times things are different, easier. Laws are made--and enforced--and peace, of a sorts, is possible. Some seek to end that. My favorite pairing is Dav and Ellis, don't know why, but do you have a favorite pairing between Natham & Velaku, Bashta & Cavel, and Dav & Ellis? If so, who and why? Dav and Ellis as well! Probably because I put a lot of myself in Ellis. Oddly enough, while I loved writing Dav as a character, I absolutely hate snakes in real life. My teen daughter has a 2 year old ball python that's somewhere close to 3 1/2 feet, and it's all... ewwwww. She wears it like a necklace and watching it move around her head creeps me out. Somehow, though, the idea of all that sinuous movement in a man? 😊 Totally works! How did you come up with the specifics of the plague that spread through the jaguar clans? ⚠️ This will have a spoiler, FYI to readers who haven't read Book 2 in the trilogy! ⚠️ Carthera have only been "accepted" in "human society" for about 50 years in this trilogy. So the medical knowledge isn't quite up to date. I treated the plague much like Ebola. Exposure from contaminated surfaces (the statue) then person-to-person among the vulnerable and least 'clean' (aka children who don't tend to wash up well). Antiserum from survivors was the most effective treatment for ebola for a long time. FYI, I used to work in the medical field, so that's one of my areas I try to be very exact and make sure is realistic, even when I'm writing a scifi, paranormal, or fantasy story. The Carthera are incredibly interesting to me. What made you detour away from the typical shifters and instead create the Carthera? I'm never one for writing 'run-of-the-mill stories' where I follow along with conventional mythos. I love to create twists. Either in the idea behind the original mythos I'm basing my storyline on or morphing the character types or as I'm going along in the plot events. Okay, okay, sometimes I'm greedy and do all three. I like shifter societies who have all sorts of animals (OMG, why limit myself to a single species when I could play with so MANY?) who carry their animalistic traits into their human form, and I do like it when they're integrated instead of being hidden society alongside humans. So with my Carthera, I decided to create "shifters" with mixed animal/human characteristics who were integrated into society, but I figured by timing it to recent 'coming out' as a species to humans I could also incorporate a lot of different societal dynamics in the storylines. One of these days I want to come back to the world; I have some ideas with ocean shifters, since they are some of my favorite animals. • • • • • Unlike Cia, I love snakes! Let me tell you, if I ever got my hands on a man like Dav, I might be tempted to kick my husband to the curb (sorry, Noah...)! The second I got the request to go bother Cia, I screamed like a little girl! I dropped everything and wrote the fastest PM in my life! This series is one of the very few reasons I made an attempt at writing, and I come back to these stories often frequently regularly a lot when I want to get away from everyday life. Make sure to check out Cia's other amazing stories through the link in her name under the series title! If you have read a riveting story and want to ask the author about it, send your questions to me and I'll happily knock on their inbox for you! Until next month, buh-bye!
  10. Is it Wednesday? I think it is! Which means it's time for... 🎶 Aaaaaaaask An Author! 🎶 Oh, boy! I hope speech-to-text capabilities don't advance any time soon, because that was just awful! My husband's looking at me like I'm a crazy person! Anyway, we have another three questions for one of GA's authors! • • • • • Solitude of the Photo C.T. Piatt The lens of the camera is shallow. It sees colour and shape. It gives the illusion of motion in two dimensions. It draws the light from the dark. In that space between lens and subject, between picture and reality, lies solitude. Jonah lived in that solitude, content within its embrace. The descriptions and details really bring this story to life and made it a riveting read. Are you a photographer or artist yourself? I dabble in photography, have a decent camera and a couple of lenses - well it was decent when I bought it 10 years ago. I've tried painting/drawing but I can't get my body to create what I see in my mind. Photography is simpler to achieve that. I do create in other ways - mostly sewing (from scratch and repurposing) and jewellery. I know I can 'see' what I want to create. And I want my words to paint what I see so others can see it too. I'm pleased to hear that I achieved that. All the stories you have posted on GA are short stories. Do you have any longer work or plans for longer stories? I do have longer stories in the works, but they seem to just keep growing and I never find 'The End'. It's easier for me to write shorter and finish. Plus there is always another story jumping around in my head demanding some attention. Currently with the change in the world I have ended up with employment that takes up most of my time (too much of my time) and my hobbies are suffering. I know I need to achieve a better work/life balance - maybe this will kick my butt into doing more for me. What was your inspiration for this story? I was once that photographer - taking photos of cars racing around the track. But I was there with my family and friends, all of whom took part as drivers. Except me. I can't stand just being a spectator so I took up the camera to be active and to make memories. One such event 'Jonah' started talking to me. The story was born that night after everyone else had gone to bed. • • • • • I love the answer to the first question! I have a soft spot for a story that takes it time to paint every emotion, every movement, and every single second in the world. If you liked this interview, make sure to go read the story (link in the story title). After that, go check out @C.T. Piatt's other works (link in the author's name under the title)! Don't forget to send me some questions! Anybody can send me questions about any author's story! I'll see y'all next month!
  11. 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.
  12. 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?
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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?
  21. 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.
  22. 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!
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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