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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. So begins the week of Halloween short stories!! We featured several stories this month and welcomed members to decide why they liked them to share with other readers. What drew you in? Title? Description? Type of monster-riffic plot to enjoy? Well... I can't wait to hear it! Share your thoughts and comments below. me Zombie Tired of the same old zombie thing? Looking for different? Well drop in to visit with Stephen and family. Nice twist on this well-worn genre. Great job, tim! ~ MichaelS36 June 30, 2018 Shepherd's Crook I have been waiting for this story to be posted in full in order to read it, and as the number of reviews grew I figured it must be a good one! You write very realistic dialogue, K.C., which I admire. So easy to be taken out of the story when the dialogue is stilted. There were a number of surprises in here, definitely an original tale. They kept me turning the pages...or scrolling down in this case. Engaging characters throughout though I would have liked a little more insight into the foundation of Amanda's cruelty and lack of remorse. Pure mental illness or were there other factors? Well done K.C. And I look forward to your next. ~ Percy September 30, 2012 Z is For Zombie It may say "Z is For Zombie," in the title, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is just another Walking Dead clone. It's not. Geron creates a world that feels alive in the post-apocalyptic sense of what happened during the Changes. It follows a brief period in the lives of a group of survivors who after two years, are more family than just a collection of people. And they are all under the age of 18. Five stars for this terrific tale. ~ Brayon September 29, 2018 Purpose "To borrow a famous quote, this story is "a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma" with deadly and frightening consequences. The two main characters are bonded by forces outside themselves and it takes luck, persistence and danger to tease out the meaning of it all. It is wrapped in a love story between two men. So those who are repelled by homoerotic love should be warned, but love scenes are not explicit. Their journey to self-awareness and knowledge of the forces that bind them is tense and dramatic. I heartily recommend this story for everyone with a sense of danger and adventure." ~ Daddydavek August 8, 2017 Don't forget to share your thoughts about these stories in the comments below. And on Wednesday, we have even more coming with the Halloween Hunt short stories! And Thursday's the Anthology Haunted look back.
  4. Wow, it's October 2019, and I've been doing the CSR blog every month for 7 years this year.... 7 is one of those spoooooky numbers. Or is it lucky? Guess it depends on who you ask... or if you're in Vegas? When the holiday season comes around, I like to change this up, or really, any season where I can theme the stories or give readers a chance to try something a little different. I've been doing interviews, a LOT of interviews, over the years as well. Well, this month it's going to be a little different. I've picked several stories, and I'd love for readers who enjoy the CSR to tell me which story they'd pick to read/comment on this month and why it grabbed their attention. Just a sentence, or two, or four if you really want to go on and on. You can do that as soon as you read this blog. Especially if you've read all these stories and know you love one of them, or you like one type of paranormal plot-type, or if you check out all the stories and try reading the first chapter and one sucks you in, or... I don't know. You tell me and your fellow readers! These comments will be featured on the Discussion day, and then everyone can still share their comments on the story plot/characters below the blog feature. And since it's the month for all things spooky and fun, I've chosen the theme of Spirits and Spare Parts (Zombies, of course!) with 4 stories of varying lengths. (Is that one aspect that matters to you?) How many people like the CSR blog as it is? How many people have the 7 year itch and want a change and have an idea for me? You can share them below too! I'd love to keep featuring stories on the site and authors, but we want to keep this activity interactive and what people want to see/read/take part in!
  5. Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #49, we heard from authors AC Benus, Parker Owens, HinderToyBL, and Milos. Today in AtA #50 we hear from authors Mann Ramblings, Parker Owens, Mikiesboy, and W_L. First up today is Signature Author Mann Ramblings. In addition to writing, this Michigan Man is quite the artist; have you seen the new avatar image? or the book cover he did for Cia? It’s been four and a half years since Mann first followed his heart to GA, and we’ve sure benefited from it. While his time with Wayward Ink was not as long as anticipated, I’m sure that Mann’s stories will find another home soon. In the meantime, if you snoop around his GA stories, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied. He’s got a Premium story now: Innocence & Carnality Part 2 is the sequel to what was originally written in 1k word-spurts for the flash fiction group. The original story (Part 1) is also a Premium story and explores the changes to main character Nathan as he finds out about the arrangements for his marriage and what happens in his life from there. Given Mann’s rather wicked humor, this is a can’t miss. But, as the author says, make sure you read them in order! To Mann Ramblings: Your pseudonym is a nice play on words, how did you come about it? When I was first getting up my nerve to write M/M, I figured I needed a pseudonym because I knew my stories would have erotic elements. (In the beginning, that was the focus.) Granted, I hadn't actually written anything yet, but organizing a plan is how I function. Anywho, I only knew of one mainstream writer who had delved professionally in erotic stories: Anne Rice. I have a number of her earlier novels and I was a fan. One of the names she wrote erotica under was Anne Ramplings. Looking at it, Ramplings became Ramblings since I wasn't overly confident in my writing skills. (I hadn't written anything in years and never finished any stories that weren't for school.) And since I wanted to emphasize the male aspect of my writing, Anne became Mann. It was all a play on words and a nod to a author whose work I respect and appreciate. Yes, you read that correctly; Parker Owens joins us once more! This is a rare double-shot, getting the same author two months in a row, but Parker keeps his name fresh in our minds with his regular poetry submissions and activity in the forums. He recently finished Predator Prey, a story about finding redemption. If you’ve been the bad guy all your life, and then suddenly become the victim, how might that affect you in the future? Prey explores this and more. Another recent addition is Fool Me Once, Parker’s submission to the April Fool’s anthology. Author and the main character Oliver have a lot in common, both being math teachers, but Oliver has a bit of a problem - or, really, more than one problem. It’s like Murphy’s Laws are out to get him: if it can go wrong it does go wrong. Read and find out how Oliver handles the obstacle course falling in front of him. To Parker Owens: How and why did you get the idea of using science subjects for your poetry? I am a math teacher and all around nerd. These are fun subjects to play with both for the ideas, for their metaphors, and for the words on their own. Math and science subjects for poems sometimes come up as a consequence of a student question, or an image from a way of thinking about a complex subject. Besides, who can resist the challenge of writing poetry about the universal gas constant? Foodie and Author Mikiesboy is up next. Despite protesting being called a “food blogger,” Tim continues to keep us apprised of his food explorations. He used to be the guy with all the food pictures and although he’s down to only 4 pictures of food, it’s still enough to make your belly rumble. Mike is amazingly lucky to be the recipient of all that good food…. Even if he does buy pie from the store. Tsk! We’ve had a lot of poetry from Mikiesboy this year so far in 2017, but take a chance on Miss Silver Pretty-Pink-Toes, a delightful short story told like an old-fashioned fairy tale. Complete with love, revenge, magic, and a riddle, Miss Silver will take you on a fun ride reminiscent of childhood, but without all the innocence. To Mikiesboy: How hard is it to write about your personal life and the hard moments you've experienced through life? Wow, good question. It is hard in a way but it is also cathartic. I starting writing poetry after I was thrown out of the house at 15 and was learning to survive on the street. Years later when I survived a severe beating, and was off the streets, I decided to write as a therapist thought it might help me deal with things. I had recurring nightmares for many years. So I decided i couldnt be timid about it, that I had to be honest and brave and face the things that frightened me. But when I write about myself, I have to do it like a reporter. I have to take a step away and write it without a lot of emotion. The facts, baby, only the facts!! So when I write about me or anything, I try to be brave, and try to push myself. Today’s final author has been with us for just over 9 years. Author W_L writes to us from Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Be careful talking politics with this guy, as he’ll definitely tell you what he thinks in that sharp, dry wit he possesses. He, like Parker Owens is an unrepentant math geek. When I see math jokes in the Make us Laugh thread, this is one of the guys I think of. For example: how do you make seven an even number? WL also enjoys food, and if you ask nice, he might share some of his recipes. In the part of his brain not trying to master calculus and not taking pictures of his dinner to share with us and the part not devising more ways to educate us on current events, WL has managed to squeeze out a story or two. The Real Me is an entry for the April Fool’s anthology, a curious mix of comedy and sarcastic commentary of local governments. Herman is a retired superhero who gets to swoop in and save the day one more time. And he still remembers to get his coffee! To W_L: AJ sees you have written a story called 0's and 1's. He wants to know if you can actually do binary math. if not, why not. 01001001 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01000001 01001010 That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat! I’ll see you next time, with repeats from MrM, Timothy M, Headstall, and a last chat in memory of SkinnyDragon. I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  6. Please join the Author Promotion Team in congratulating Mikiesboy as GA's newest Promising Author! Mikiesboy, or tim as many know him, has been a member of GA for almost two years. During that time he has written a total of 21 stories, both prose and poetry, and has touched the hearts of many members. If you want to check out Mikiesboy's stories, and check out his new banner and author bio, you can visit his author page. Please join us in congratulating Mikiesboy on his well deserved promotion.
  7. Being the start of a new week, Monday's are also a good time to take a look at some of the different stories that can be found on Gay Authors. With so many great works, it can be easy to overlook one and Monday's provide an opportunity for us to help make one of them stand out and maybe catch your interest. Today, we're bringing you a review by AC Benus of Mikiesboy's story "Miss Silver Pretty-Pink Toes." Enjoy! Miss Silver Pretty-Pink-Toes Mikiesboy Reviewer: AC Benus Status: Complete Word Count: 5,622 Mikiesboy’s range is pretty amazing. How many of us have thought of tackling a fairytale, and doing it old-school? In Miss Silver Pretty-Pink-Toes you will encounter a beautiful goat who suffers a horrible fate: humanifacation! Her curse is to be set adrift among the caprice of mankind and to try to make her way back. Along the way, she meets unlikely love, and pure devotion – which she will need to return to her original form. We also meet a one-eyed goat, a massive slime-covered snapping turtle and an evil toad. In this highly original tales, many of Mikiesboy’s talents are called into use. There is poetry, fantasy, love and longing. There is also pain and confusion as some of the forces around Miss Silver act with malice. If you have not ventured into this remarkable fantasy world, please do. Like me, I think you soon be asking the author to create more imaginative tales along these lines. Category: Fiction Genres: Fantasy, Romance Tags: magic, sorcery, witchcraft, wizards, no sex, friendship Rating: Everyone
  8. Have you thought about writing your first story, but it seems a little daunting? Don't worry, every new author has been there at one point or another. Thankfully, you're part of a great community that has plenty of authors willing to share their knowledge, and/or what they wished they'd known when they first started. If you're thinking that you've heard that before, it's because you have, but that's the best intro to this feature. Back in December we first introduced the "New Author Advice" feature and it seemed to be well received. So let's take a look at what advice our site authors have this time. Building Readership & Criticism Mikiesboy Ok... building readership... read others work, comment/review, be active in forums, say hello to people be friendly. That's what I did. Works from my experience. It can't be a one way street. And reply to people who comment. They took the time to read your work, you should do the same in return. Criticism? Well that can be hard to take, depending on how it's written and the kind of person you are. If you're unsure, ask the person who commented what they mean. I've not experienced any sort of mean-spirited criticism on GA. Most people are pretty helpful and thoughtful. At least the ones I've met. You can also use the Your Status thing to advertise .. but I don't personally. Feedback Carlos Hazday Encourage readers to give you honest feedback. Reviews pointing out what they liked are great, but the ones where they tell you what they didn't like are even better in my opinion. If you want to make your stories the best they can be, knowing what didn't work for readers is a priority. If you react badly to criticism, you may miss out on great advice, your writing may suffer, and in the end you could end up losing readers when your style stagnates. Before You Start Jamessavik First, read a lot. Read a lot of different authors, different genres and different styles. Read with an eye towards not just the plot but, the craft in which the story is developed. You will see that some authors do a great job in this respect while others- not so much. Second- Start with short stories. They can teach you a great deal. Unlike a novel, you can't wander around for a 40,000 words to make a point. Short stories require a certain discipline to do them well. You have to balance things very carefully with an economy of words while providing characterization and description while advancing a plot. Don't expect to master this over a few weekends. It's more art than science. In fact it's a lot like golf. When you are in the zone, you can do great things. If not, you bogey every hole. Finally- before you embark on a novel, learn how to plan it out. We all make the mistake of sitting down at a blank page on the computer, write a great beginning and then hit a wall. There are numerous GREAT but INCOMPLETE novels on the web. Unfortunately several of them are my own. Know where you are going because, if you don't, your chances of getting there are slim. If you're a current or experienced author and have some advice for newbie authors, send me a PM with your advice and be featured in a future "New Author Advice" feature. If you're a new author, or even an existing author, what questions would you ask your fellow authors? PM me your questions regarding writing and if there is enough interest, we'll start a new feature where I post your questions for the various site authors to give their opinion. You can choose to remain anonymous if you'd like.
  9. It's time for the first Ask An Author of 2017! Typically this would have been posted in January, but there were a few hiccups, so you're getting it now. Better late than never! If you have a question that you'd like to ask a specific author, but don't want to do the actual asking, then send your question to Dark! I hope you enjoy this edition of Ask An Author, and a big THANK YOU to Dark for continuing to provide these. Ask an Author #46 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #45, we heard from authors albertnothlit, Nephylim, Riley Jericho, and skinnydragon. Today in AtA #46 we hear from authors Comicality, Mann Ramblings, Mikiesboy, and Parker Owens. Signature Author and founding member Comicality start us off once again in today’s blog. Comsie has an enviable success, continuing to churn out story after story without fail. He’s more reliable than many cell phones. We’re at over a hundred stories right now, go ahead and ask him what his secret is. Better yet, stop by his forum. Comsie can often be found refusing to give spoilers and discussing plot arcs. His most recent story is Release Me, a story with only 600-ish reviews, quite low by Comsie standards. Perhaps it’s the holiday season or perhaps the zombies, or maybe the teenagers are throwing folks off. You’ll never know unless you give it a try! You know Comsie won’t let you down. To Comicality: Are you planning to offer Cody (#NKIS) a spinoff, a story of his own? Actually, there have been some requests to get a peek into Cody and Sean's relationship from interested readers, as well as the relationship with his sister, Ronnie, and his foster parents who took them in. However, there aren't any big plans for Cody to have a solo series just yet. That's not to say 'never', but I don't have any plans for it so far. Mostly because I'm enjoying having a little bit of mystery to Cody's character right now. As long as everybody gets to see him from an outsider's point of view, I get to reveal little bits and pieces of Cody's personality and his past as he becomes more comfortable, and (dare I say it) a bit more vulnerable about offering it up. I think it makes for good storytelling. But, like I said, I never say never. And folks are definitely interested in seeing a Cody story. So who knows? It might just pop up somewhere out of nowhere. Maybe my muse will put me in a chokehold and tell me to do it some time in the future. Hehehe! Another Signature Author in today’s blog is Mann Ramblings. At 12 stories and half a million words since 2012, Mann has definitely overcome his nerves about posting his thoughts online for everyone to see. Recently, Mann has become a published author and you can check out more of his work on Amazon. He also has something of a wacky sense of humor, for those of you new to his style. His most recent story on GA is the second half of Innocence and Carnality. This is the continuing story of Nathan and Rother, a somewhat historical, somewhat sci-fi tale with that guy we’ve all learned to dislike as more and more of his character has been revealed. What’s next for these two? Before you venture into this one, you’ll definitely want to read Part One first. To Mann Ramblings: What has been your most difficult character or story to write and why? And also, will we see a sequel to So Little Magic? I think Kenrick from So Little Magic Left was one of the hardest because of his complexity. I had to hide his true nature, show his gentile qualities while allowing his sadistic side to surface, and make his obsession with Shawn almost romantic at times even though we know how bad the whole situation could be. On top of all that, I needed him to sound real enough for people to hate and not turn into some caricature or cartoon. He received a nomination for best villain that year, so I feel like I managed it fairly well. One of the things I loved about SLML, (after all the work and frustration when I couldn't touch it for months at a time) was that it felt complete when I typed "The End" and hadn't planned on extending the story. I say that, but I can't say the possibility of a sequel is zero. You never know when inspiration strikes. I still have a lot of love in me for this story. Canadian author Mikiesboy joins us in today’s blog. Although he calls himself a poet, Timmy has several items written in prose now. Much of his work (prose and poetry) is gritty and achingly close to real life, but they’re also wonderful and full of characters you can’t help but love. Take The Pledge, for example. It’s an intriguing twist on the standard vampire-master & servant story. There are so many ways to interpret this story and the dissenting opinions are just as interesting to me as the story itself. You may be familiar with After the Past, a story about how one thing can change a person’s whole life forever. For me it was a real tear-jerker but there’s no denying that Timmy can write a character that sticks with you long after the last word is read. To Mikiesboy: Since you have expressed yourself in both poetry and fiction, have you ever considered or would you ever consider writing a story focused around a poet? Are there any connecting factors between your poetry and your fiction? Ummm, never thought about writing about a story focused around a poet. Interesting idea. I'll mull that over. Are there connecting factors between my poetry and fiction? I'd have to say no, not really. My non-fiction yes, somewhat. Poetry is my way of sorting out my feelings and my world. I suppose I might apply some of that to my fictional characters but it's nothing I plan for. Author Parker Owens makes his blog debut today as we finish things up. Besides posting his stories and poetry, Parker is also posts pictures of his beautiful garden from this past summer. Most people know Parker from his story A to Z. It’s certainly a dark tale; it gets darker and darker and every time you think things couldn’t possibly get worse, something even more awful happens. But eventually rock-bottom is reached and things start to look up for our main character. It’s fascinating to see how Andy views the world and finds his own way to happiness. Most recently there’s Predator Prey, a story that I think is even darker than A to Z. At this point in the story, it’s hard to see where things are going but Parker keeps a lively discussion going in the forums. I’m still hoping for a happily ever after, but I’m also the kind of person who can’t help but root for the anti-hero. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Parker has in store for us. To Parker Owens: One of the things I pick up on when reading your stories and poems, is your love for math and science. What got you interested in these subjects in the first place? It's funny to get this question because I came to love math and science much later in life than many do. I was not a particularly good math or science student in grade school or high school. College and university changed that; I had one extraordinarily gifted math professor in a calculus course I had to take as a required general education credit. He showed those of us in the 8:00 AM class that mathematics was both interesting and comprehensible to mere mortals like ourselves. He gave me the confidence to try for a math teaching job. My transformation into a math nerd soon followed. I find that simple, genuine encouragement is often the spark that ignites the fires of creativity and intelligence. This is one reason I find GA to be such a wonderful community, as I have found the same degree of welcome and encouragement to exist here. Because it’s the perfect tie-in for today’s blog, I have a bonus for you: another question for Parker! You have graced us with some wonderful stories. But in a few, there have been brutally long and brutally describe periods before the protagonist is saved or redeemed. 'AtoZ' and 'Predator' immediately come to mind. My question is, how does such depth of depravity even get into your thinking? Writing for Predator Prey, and especially for the predator character, was a real struggle. I spent a lot of time trying to write in the point of view for such an unappealing individual, that I tied myself in knots several times. The result was shorter, more condensed chapters. I could not face extended contact with him or his business. Afterwards, I would want to write something gentler and brighter. But the question of whether such a character can experience change kept drawing me back. Can he be redeemed or find a new and better direction? That's a critical question to me. The search for that answer kept me going on with the draft, rather than discarding it. That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat! I’ll see you next time, with authors Craftingmom and Roberto Zuniga joining Riley Jericho and SkinnyDragon! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  10. How fast the year has already seemed to go! Hopefully you found the time to enjoy Mikiesboy's story, The Pledge. Or, if you've read it already, maybe you tried one of his newer stories like "After the Past". Or, if you're a fan of his work, you've already read his work... well this is your chance to share that love with fellow readers who might be new to his work. I've asked a few questions to kick things off, but don't be shy asking Mikiesboy what you want to know too! Have you ever gone out in public, realized your shirt is on backwards, and just don’t care? No. I’d never do that and if I did I’d be mortified! I’m paranoid and terrified of making a mistake. I am a perfectionist, with a capital P. Though obviously I make mistakes all the time… What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know? Most people know I love to cook, some know I went to cooking school, but my fav recipe is one of my Grandmother’s. It’s Sheppard’s Pie, simple, not fried and my fav comfort food. It actually won a local Sheppard’s Pie taste test! What do you like to do when you’re not writing? If I’m not writing, I can be found reading, cooking/baking, or snuggled up with my giant of a husband watching British TV shows! There’s a full-time job in there somewhere, too! What’s the best part of being an author? Oh, gosh I think listening to people’s opinions, especially about how a poem made them feel. It can be so different from what I felt when I wrote it. There’s no right or wrong, and that fascinates me. The other thing is learning, trying new things, stepping out of that comfort zone to write something new. Do you prefer to write one project at a time or do you bounce from story to story as inspiration strikes? I sort of bounce around until I feel ready to finish something. Sometimes there are things I just don’t want to write. For example, the abuse scenes in Out of His Mind. It took me some time to get that finished. Once I’d done it, I put all else aside and finished Tait’s story. It was time. Do you have any special tricks when you write to get you in the right frame of mind to jump into different time periods? Tricks? No. I try to read a lot about things I’ve not experienced myself. I watch shows about them if I can and I just try to imagine myself there. People are people no matter where they are, I think. They are affected by the things around them, but they don’t really change. The Pledge has both a medieval aspect and a paranormal one. Why did you decide to mix the themes? Oh, people have challenged me to write about zombies and vamps. So I did in me, Zombie and now vampires in The Pledge. But I didn’t want the same old thing. With The Pledge, I was interested in exploring in things I’d read in Anne Rice’s novels, the Vampire Chronicles series and in my research. Anne Rice talked about the origin of vampires, so I wanted mine to be old, to live through centuries. I wondered how they’d respond to changes that happened through the centuries they’d experience. I wanted to explore if they’d remain human in some ways, or if that old adage, power corrupts absolutely, would apply. So to make them old, I looked back to Elmet, which was a real place in the north of England, where West Yorkshire is now, between the 5th and 7th centuries. Elmet was just a framework; I’m sure it was nothing like I’ve written it. Can you sum up this story in one sentence? One? You don’t know me too well, LOL! The Pledge is a story of power, love and life immortal through the ages. There, how’s that? You tend to bounce around time periods, such as your recent story of After the Past which went in a completely different direction. Do you have a preferred time period to write? My last couple of stories have been bouncy for sure. I prefer to write in modern times, it’s a bit easier to do I think. There is often less research required, but I’d look at other time periods again if I’m inspired. It’s fun to delve into the past or to try and make the future realistic. Do you have any recent, current, or upcoming stories you think fans should read? Why would you recommend them? I think I’d recommend Levko. It’s pulled from my own experiences when I was a rent boy. I think it worked well and seemed to be well received. After The Past as well, I’m rather proud of that one. It’s my longest story and I think the effort I put in and the effort of my editor, AC Benus, really shows in the quality. I have two stories I’m actively writing, the first with the working title of Magic Beans should be fun and while modern, it’s not about humans. The other I’m hoping will work out into a longer novel. It’s called Changes and it’s about Don, a very active guy, who is married to Louis and how their lives change after a terrible accident, and how they go forward together. I’m really exploring their relationship, Louis’ feelings and fears, as well as their relationships with their families.
  11. Ask an Author #43 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #42, we had questions for authors Andrew Q. Gordon, Nephylim, skinnydragon, and W_L. In AtA #43 we hear from authors Mann Ramblings, Mikiesboy, Riley Jericho, and WolfM. Signature Author Mann Ramblings starts us off today. We last saw Mann in this blog about a year ago, back in AtA #33, but he really hasn’t been featured since AtA #7. That takes us back, doesn’t it? I know I’ve got at a couple more questions for him, if he’d answer his emails… Anyway, this nice gent is from Michigan, USA and I can poke at him a bit because I know I can handle the bite of his rather wicked sense of humor. Have you seen his profile pic lately? Mann has designed a few of those! He’s quite the artist, and I don’t mean just writing, which his 7,000+ followers already know. His first year with GA saw 3 stories; now Mann has more than 10 to his name. He writes a lot of drama and sci-fi (naturally), but his stories cross over into many different genres. One of my favorites is Rudolph’s Tijuana X-mas, in which Rudolph leaves the North Pole and, well, goes to Tijuana. Of course, since it’s a comedy, hilarity ensues. Like many another, this gem of a short story made me laugh until I cried. Oh, and did you know? Mann is now a published author with Wayward Ink Publishing. His published works have some changes, so if you liked them the first time, go check it out.  To Mann Ramblings: One of my favorites of yours, So Little Magic Left, is a largely fantasy story, and I'm curious. How do you come up with the detail and backdrop for such a mystical place and have it come out so believable? Lots and lots of notes. Days of brainstorming the details based on what I needed. Since I plotted the entire story out in advance, I knew what my settings would be and what had to be there. The underworld was medieval and stuck in time, so everything around them had to reflect that. So the buildings had to be raw and the businesses had to have limitations. I focused a lot on the world building and made a point to stick to it. Everything had to be consistent and nothing could be added without a damn good reason. I put the fantastic elements in but tried not to make them the centerpiece of the scenes rather than the setting. They're there, but we don't dwell on them beyond what's necessary to move the story along. I guess I did a good job selling the environment. Canadian “Poster Boy for Success” Mikiesboy is our next author today. In the year and change that he’s been with us, Mikiesboy has posted over a dozen stories and collections for our enjoyment. This is the gentleman who cooks all that amazing food he takes pictures of, although, sadly, there are none left in his gallery. Luckily, this word enchanter continues to gift us with his magic; I know a few of you were worried recently, but he promises to stick around awhile longer. Mikiesboy is a familiar name in the weekly prompts, and we’re all eagerly waiting the next longer project. For Halloween this year, why don’t you try out the wickedly tongue-in-cheek Wanted? Main character Sam answers a help wanted ad, and the rest will give you chills … good and bad. To Mikiesboy: Can you describe the process of writing poetry you go through when you want to start a story? Do you just start with an idea and let it develop as you write, or do you outline most of it first? I'm sort of a from-the-gut poet I guess, and often the poem, all or in part, is just in my head (keep notebooks with you always!). But lately I've been working on the different forms of poetry, and so use classic stories, films or something AC Benus specifies in his monthly Poetry Prompt. When I write poetry I just sit down and write it. I don't use an outline for poetry at all. However I do write outlines for stories. Some of you might know our next author. Although he has yet to mark it “complete,” Riley Jericho says he’s posted the LAST chapter to An English Teen, Circumcised in the USA. If I’d foreseen the end was so near, I would have posted this question months ago! At 89 chapters, I believe ET is now the longest single story on GA. Did you see the poster-like image Riley created for his epic? I like the subtlety in the colors. Way back when, Riley said he came over to GA after fighting with his previous website over the story’s name. Aren’t we the lucky ones? Now we can only wonder what Riley will write for us next. Perhaps we’ll learn more about Manchester, UK, where Riley’s from? Maybe he’ll do something completely different, like a horror story…! Oh, by the way, Riley has written some other stuff. There’s some poetry and other teen fics, and the chilling anthology entry Into a Better Place. It will make you think, but, more importantly, it will make you feel. Check out the reviews; they’re powerful, too. To Riley Jericho: Regarding An English Teen Circumcised in the U.S.A.: Is there an endgame---a definite plan or outline of what is going to happen and how the characters will end up---or is it a more organic process or like an ongoing serial? So, is there an endgame, or am I just making it up as I go along and hoping for the best? I have to smile because actually both are true. There is very definitely an endgame, and the last chapter, paragraph and sentence of ET have already been penned. However, what it is that you might possibly say to me when we get there...well, let's see. Anything more at this point would be spoilers! However, at the same time, the story has been quite fluid in some aspects, and I find there's some stuff you don't realise about a situation, until you get into it. I also feed a lot from reviews. You may not know it, but something you might have said in a review could well have sparked an idea that gets written in. Sometimes, somebody will make a comment about how a situation might develop, and for me, it's like 'oh...that's right...how come I never saw that coming?' So to answer the question, mileposts are set in stone, the end is coming into sight, but there are still many twists and turns that will be quite likely to turn up on the journey! In the end, you're going to have to ask the characters! Today’s final author is WolfM, marking his first entry in this blog, which seems funny, because I could swear he’s been around longer than just a year .... Anyway, this is the author behind the dark teen story Alone in the Night and the very popular Running with the Pack. If you haven’t read “Alone,” it’s definitely on the dark side but it’s also been a way for WolfM to exorcise some of his past and re-connect with his younger self. How much of the truth is being shared with us is perhaps something only WolfM knows, but in a world where the truth is so often conveniently brushed under the rug, it’s a story that should never be forgotten. It is in surviving his past that WolfM (like main character Matt) can bring us the gift of the present and the future. Employing a vivid imagination, after all, is how we now have RWTP, not to mention the thousands of other stories on GA. In RWTP, we get a city-boy stepping out into the “wilds” for the first time and discovering werewolves! I don’t know that I’d say it’s light-hearted, but it’s hard to escape drama when you’re writing about teens! LOL To WolfM: From where/what do you draw inspiration? We joke about muses, but what is yours? I've stared at the question on an off since you sent it to me trying to figure out how to answer it. The only answer I can come up with is, "I have no idea." I can sit down in front of my laptop one day and knock out the first draft of a chapter and other times go days to months without even feeling like writing. I usually joke that it all depends on what conversations the voices in my head are having and if they want to let me in on it or not. I have used the character I had in WoW as well as avatars I've created in the virtual world "Second Life" as elements in the current story I'm working on, though that is more an idea bed for how characters might look vs. actual inspiration. Possibly what truly inspires me is my readers as well as my desire to see this current project through to its completion. That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat! I’ll see you next time, with Ask the Author #44, a special feature dedicated to one of our more popular authors Dayne Mora! I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  12. Whoops! I forgot that I was supposed to Renee this week and was sidelined by a migraine, so this featured review is a bit late... which just goes to show that, unlike Mikiesboy, I could never remember to do NaPoWriMo. Unsure of what that is? Check out the review below by Aditus and then go check it out!! NaPoWriMo Mikiesboy Reviewer: Aditus Status: In process/Complete? Word Count: 3173 Poetry. I thought I would put the word right into the first line, in case you’d rather leave, thinking something along the lines of ‘Nah, poetry is not my thing’. I dare you to read further! April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo): Thirty poems in thirty days. According to the author, his first thoughts were: Mental! NO WAY am I going to try it (too much pressure). Luckily, he had nothing else to do (his words), and wrote a poem for Friday April 1, and then, while he was at it, for the other twenty-nine days too. Are you still here? Good! I can’t agree more and could go on and on about syllable count, rhythm, rhyme and many other formal poetry characteristics and forms, which Mikiesboy executes well but are just a means to an end to make us feel. He is a natural poet who concentrates of the essence of things—sometimes with brutal honesty. I will never forget Meat: Short— and so harsh it hurts. Or Baker Boy, which makes me smile each time I read it. For me, this collection of poems is a reflection of heartfelt loneliness and hope, grief and thankfulness, severity and playfulness, in other word(s): Life concentrated in small packages. So, even if you normally don’t read poetry, give it a try. If you do, but somehow missed this, I hope I made you curious. And if you already read it—why not do it again? Category: Poetry Genres: Comedy, Drama, Free-Verse, Haiku, Limerick, Prompt Tags: mature adult, teen, adult, bisexual, brothers, friendship Rating: Everyone
  13. One of everyone's favorite blogs, back again!! It's the first Wednesday of the month, which can only mean one thing. It's time for another Ask An Author feature provided to us by Dark. If you have questions you want to ask your favorite authors, but don't want to ask the questions yourself, you can always send your questions to Dark for inclusion in the Ask An Author feature. Ask an Author #41 Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors! In AtA #40, we had questions for authors Cole Matthews, M.A. Church, Riley Jericho, and Carlos Hazday In AtA #41 we hear from authors Headstall, Mikiesboy, Sammy Blue, and Sasha Distan. Promising Author and Canadian Headstall kicks off the blog this week. If I understand the story correctly, this author name comes from a particular piece of tack (for horses, oh ye whose minds went elsewhere… ). Not as spry as he used to be, Headstall has had some recent health setbacks, but there are many glad to see his return. Hopefully, the words will start flowing once more with the grace and fluidity that readers have become used to. In the two years Headstall has been with us, he has posted almost a dozen stories, most of them the multi-chapter kind. He’s also a poet; you can see his responses to the weekly prompts among his collection of works, as well as Headstall’s Reflections, a collection of random musings about life, the universe, and everything. Or, you know, a blog of sorts. If you’ve enjoyed this author’s work, have you tried Morningstar: The Malaise? This is Headstall’s first story about werewolves, and in his version, the pack is dying out due to a mysterious … malaise. The main characters must find a way to not only save the pack, but themselves. Is there a way to be happy together given the desperate need the pack has for more matings and pups? I leave you with these words from editor Timothy M: “Being a sifter is complicated, even without the malaise, and sorting out your feelings is difficult, especially when they are new ….” To Headstall: How did it feel to have your first story take off the way it has? When I first posted, I didn't know what to expect, from the readers or myself. The response was immediate and somewhat overwhelming, and I honestly expected the support would die down quickly. But it didn't, and to this day I'm still surprised, and now I feel honored and encouraged to improve with every single sentence I write. It's given me the confidence to try new things, like my songs, poetry, an anthology story and a story contest. I've written two other stories posted as serials since the debut of "Cards on the Table," and that is because of the support I received initially, and continually. I'm not quite sure why it took off the way it did, but I am thankful for it everyday, and I feel I owe the readers and GA my very best effort every time I touch the keyboard. Cheers. A big welcome to Author Mikiesboy, making his first appearance in this blog – but not the last, I assure you! He calls himself an ”abecedarian poet.” You’ll have to ask him what it means. Another Canadian, Mikiesboy hails from Ontario and is a big fan of fellow Canadian Headstall. I have learned to stay away from his GA gallery, because just looking at all that wonderful food makes me hungry, lol. Michael is one lucky guy. Read more about their real-life love story in Michael and Me. I’m not sure about that tomato soup cake, though, dunno if I’m adventurous enough to try it. This past April, Mikiesboy tried his hand at NaPoWriMo, which is the poet’s version of writing one whole story in only a month. It’s a daunting task, no matter how you look at it. Mikiesboy is very upfront with his past and you can see some of that in his written works. They’re gritty and real and will make you rethink parts of your own life. Having a huge sweet tooth, however, I find that my favorite story remains Dessert. David gets a second chance at finding love with a man from his past. They meet by chance, eat and talk, and some of his inner musings and realizations will give you a punch to the gut. Of course the sex scene is pretty hot, too! To Mikiesboy: What inspired the characters you've created? Do people you know make you think of them, or is it situations you encounter? I've been inspired by situations and people I know. I guess it depends which characters you mean. In my latest story Tait's experience is partly based on my mental health struggles, and some abuse I suffered when I was much younger, but once I know the character I can figure out how he'll react or act. Two of my characters came to me when I was using a prompt, but Faris and James, have a few traits borrowed from me and my husband. So I guess I'd have to say that my characters are one part imagination, one part experience, and a dash or more of me. Youngster and Author Sammy Blue writes from Braunschweig, Germany. Recently, Sammy decided to translate one of his German stories into English. In the forums, Sammy explains some of the finer details making their way into his stories to give us non-Germans a better understanding of the culture belonging to his characters. It’s nice to have that background to ask questions about without the author feeling the need to write it all in the story itself. Sci-Fi writers are well-known for this. High Fantasy, too, can get bogged down with the details, not that you or I would ever do that, of course! LOL. But Sammy is perhaps best known for his work with Gemini. This is a story about teenage Josh and his crazy public school life. With 25 chapters now, we’ve really seen Josh grow into himself. And Jacob? That boy is amazing. To Sammy Blue: Do you have a character that you've put more of yourself into than any others, and what qualities do you see yourself as sharing with that character? Not particularly, at least not in Gemini. That might change with future stories, though. However, I do share some sort of connection with all of my major characters. The reason is simple, really. When I am writing, I am usually using one of two methods, mostly even both in combination. The first is to 'envision' the scene I am writing, almost like a movie. If I'm unsure about something, I even 'replay' it a number of times with small changes to see what fits. This also helps me to narrate in a realistic way. The other I mostly use when I write thoughts or some of the conversations. I try to really get into the 'skin' of the character I'm writing, to feel their feelings and think their thoughts. It takes some time to get psyched up enough for that, but it's usually worth it. Anyway, because I do this, I do have a pretty good understanding of what my characters feel, and I guess that is what I 'put' into them, and the connection I share with them. Today’s 4th and final author is Author Sasha Distan. We last saw Sasha in ATA #36, about six months ago. Next month it will be a year since Sasha's profile was active, which makes the last status post more ironic: Apparently I’ve been offline long enough for my avatar picture to vanish… But for those of you who need your Sasha fix, you should know that I horded one last question and answer. I, too, have my fingers crossed that Sasha will soon return with more of that British snark we’ve come to enjoy, as well as a conclusion to Sanctuary, the fantasy story where the persecuted find hope and, perhaps, love. To Sasha Distan: How do you keep all of your storylines from bleeding together when you have more than one story going at a time? I have a great filing system! My brain is a very compartmentalized place, and a bit like the filing system on my laptop, I'm very good at keeping the separate part of my life, and separate parts of my stories, very much apart from each other. Characters who exist in different worlds don't even talk, so for example I'd never have problems with Kurt and Tahryn having a chat and exchanging plot lines with Oli and Boris. The characters who do live in the same world, Kieran, Robin, Bay, Issac, and Zupan for example, are generally so self obsessed (or romantically obsessed) that they don't tend to interfere with each other. Generally writing two stories at once doesn't cause me many issues, but three or four can be more problematic. That’s it for now! For more info on these authors, go check out their stories, post in their forums, and/or catch them in chat! See you next time, with authors AQG, Nephylim, SkinnyDragon, and W_L. I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark). Until next time! Dark
  14. I'll get exited every time I'll get the chance to wish someone. Now as you all can see, I am gonna be the first one to his this pretty, naughty, handsome and caring guys here(haven't I assumed a lot )... HAPPY BIRTH DAY TIM...
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