Dollar Photo Club shuts down in 2 days.
I had around 70 prepaid photo credits, so I “bought” a bunch of photos.
Is that a pleather tie, Boston Strangler Bunny?
Some pics/picks were better than others.
Neigh! Don’t judge me.
Dollar Photo Club shuts down in 2 days.
I had around 70 prepaid photo credits, so I “bought” a bunch of photos.
Is that a pleather tie, Boston Strangler Bunny?
Some pics/picks were better than others.
Neigh! Don’t judge me.
I’ve been editing this week–like, seriously in the trenches where my editor points out I used look too frequently and so I replace one such occurrence with gazed and search to see where the next nearest gaze falls and it’s too close, so I try peered, but there’s a jeered nearby and it’s too rhymey, so I change it to glanced but glanced at his pants sounds like I ripped it from Dr. Seuss, so I rewrite it to say He picked his nose, because that hasn’t happened yet, I’m quite sure of it, but I’ve already substituted one of a billion pulls for a pick and it’s right. Freakin’. There. FUCK ME! Go back to the start…back. Didn’t I just read that word? I type it into my find box, the entire screen lights up like the Fourth of July, and my head explodes.
This sort of dog-chasing-its-tail crap. All day. For days and days.
Okay. Enough complaining, because the good thing about editing is I’m sending round one (the biggest, baddest round, really) off today after a final spellcheck. And my editor made some glowing comments about Balancing Act (she hasn’t even read Hard Act to Follow and loved Kyrie and Greg’s 2nd installment–so happiness and confetti!).
Oh, and the other great thing about editing? I missed the latest M/M brouhaha while my eyes were bleeding. Score!
Truly, as much as I enjoy the gossipy aspect of poring over posts and comments and wasting my entire day, I’m happy I (mostly) missed it.
The mostly is because I did happened upon Alexis Hall’s post last night. I decided his lovely breakdown of the situation was all I really needed, so pardon me if I’m less informed than I should be to write a post alluding to this shit show. 🙂 I’m assuming he outlined the basics, and I’m only weighing in on one minor topic here.
It’s late, and my head exploded earlier, remember?
Anyway, AH’s post reminded me I’d been meaning to take a Kinsey test for years now, but had avoided it because who likes tests? I did it, though (after opening the link and wishing aloud it wasn’t too long). Score again! It was super short, and it turns out I’m bisexual! Sleep with a few girls in your wild and single years and you get a label (and not the “slut” one I usually identified with–hey, I owned it so it didn’t own me).
I don’t care in the slightest about labels. I’ve always gone with mostly straight (with plenty of room for persuasion), but I’ve been married to my lovin’ man for, well, forever now, so mostly straight suits fine.
Oh, and while I’m on the bi train, this is a fun site to click around, full of stuff and things. Ride on the bi train, ooo ahhh eeee ahhh ooo ah!
So, my point, if ever I could make one, was AH’s post reminded me of an old review of Forever is Now. Basically, someone had taken offense to my use of “sexual preference.” I immediately asked the only guy (at the time) in the M/M crit group I was in if he thought it was offensive. He didn’t, but said he could see why some people might dislike it. I vowed to never use it again, but had a niggle about why. Of course I don’t want to offend readers. Ever. Times change and perfectly serviceable terms from back in the day become hate speech every so often. It happens, and I try to keep on top of the evolution of language as much as possible.
But my sexuality has always been a thing I decide on. I decided long ago that I mostly like men, and occasionally like women depending on…well, I guess the usual considerations. Personality. Intelligence. Looks. How much alcohol I’d consumed. Never have I hooked up with a random woman at a party (unlike men). They’ve all been women I was friends with. Loved or at least liked a whole hell of a lot. So, clearly there were other factors at play there–a deeper connection than purely physical.
But to act like preference didn’t have a part is silly. Of course it did. I prefer men in the grand scheme of things. I chose a man to hitch my cart to for better or worse. But I could have chosen a woman if the right one had come along and knocked my socks off.
And I’m not saying (and I won’t reiterate AH’s thoughts about gay kids of religious families who grew up having the “IT’S A CHOICE AND YOU’RE MAKING THE WRONG ONE” drilled into them) that some people will (and should) dislike that terminology. I’m just saying it applies to me and maybe other people, too. I’m going to avoid it out of consideration for those it bothers, but I don’t hate it either. <Plunks down 2 cents.>
Enough philosophy for one day. I just sent those edits and now I’m going to go exercise this ass so it remains appealing to members of both sexes, you know, depending where they are on the Kinsey scale.
I was on social media the other day (shocking, I know) and stumbled over a thread that piqued my interest. Someone had read a book in which women seemed to be vilified to the point of misogyny. The disappointed reader said it was a theme she’d been running into frequently and numerous other readers chimed in that they had the same issue with MM books. I haven’t read the book in question, so I can’t speak to its content, but women being portrayed negatively in gay romance is hardly a new phenomenon. Readers have been complaining about it for years.
When I first began writing MM, rumblings about women being cast as conniving harpies abounded on review sites–every female in nearly every book was pure evil. Or there were no females in books, in other cases.
Long ago, I vowed to be super conscientious about how my female characters came across. And then I largely washed my hands of the worry. Seriously, I’m the girl who likes to joke that women can’t do X because their vaginas are so cumbersome they get in the way. I used to go to parties in HS to challenge dudes to mercy competitions just to prove what a bad ass I was. Well, and to drink (shot for shot with the guys, of course). Yeah, also to get laid because treating men the way I perceived they’d treated women since the dawn of time–like a piece of meat to be used–was my shtick, I’m rather ashamed to say (they rarely minded, for the record, so I guess I won’t feel too guilty).
My point is, I’m not the girl who thinks women are in any way inferior to men (really–why would any woman think that?). I mean, we squeeze squalling 8 lb beings from our bodies and then we’re like, give me some fucking pizza and let me walk around or I’ll drown you in breast milk. If anything, I’ve got a chip on my shoulder when it comes to how undervalued women are.
Yet, whenever I see these posts, I get paranoid.
I shouldn’t. I know I shouldn’t. I am woman, with better plumbing, carpentry, and electrical skills than most men I know. Hear me roar. I won’t even mention my chest hair (I blame gin).
Oh, but people were complaining about the evil fictional ex-wife! The evil mother-in-law!
Well, I’ve written a character mid-divorce in a nasty custody battle. Yes, his wife came off witchy, but she’d given her best years to a guy and wanted to keep her kid. No, she wasn’t nice to her soon-to-be ex-husband, but I’ve seen more ugly divorces than I can count, and I don’t think a bit of reality is untoward. Guaranteed, if I’d been writing from the ex-wife’s POV, Gio would have looked like a total cobnobbler.
Not that anyone has accused me of defaming women. But the conversation makes me rethink every female character I’ve ever written. Was she too bitter? Did I make all women look bad by writing one woman going through a shitastic stage in her life? Should I never write female characters I wouldn’t want to be friends with IRL? Should I never write a female as an antagonist for fear of being labeled a misogynist?
I have more awesome women than bitchy women in my books, when I do the math. Probably equal amounts antagonistic men to antagonistic women. Realistically, someone needs to be the adversary in contemporary romance.
And then I just wrote a rather unlikable mother-in-law(ish)…
Maybe exes and MILs are overdone at this point. Maybe that’s the problem, in which case, contemporary MM may be overdone too because, well, as I know I’ve complained before, we can’t just pull a (sexless) monster out of our asses to make a villain.
Now, is Greg’s mom in my latest book (Balancing Act~~Coming soon to a website near you! Shameless plug!) absolute evil? No. Not even remotely. Matter of fact, she’s based on a woman I happen to adore. Is she a horse-pill to swallow? Oh, you bet your ass. On the flip side, Kyrie’s mom is a love, she just doesn’t get major screen time in this book. Same for his cool friend, Liv.
Nice can be boring, TBH. Suspense doesn’t come from that totally humorous Comic-Con scene I keep contemplating. A book needs to move forward and then get kicked in the teeth to make it step back. It needs tension. Bad guys and bad girls.
Sigh. No one was complaining about my characters, so I know I shouldn’t get all twitchy about this. And, yes, if I happen to come across a book that makes me think the author hates women, I’ll get way fucking twitchier, but I hate how this conversation makes me think twice about using female characters at all. Much like complaints about authors writing persons of color incorrectly make me nervous about just writing any damn character that comes to mind.
I don’t want to shy away from female characters–or any characters. Occasionally, I even want to write a hard-nosed bitch. Just as sometimes I want to write a psychotic would-be murderer who happens to have a penis. Neither one makes me a misogynist or a misandrist.
I guess I’ll just keep reminding myself of that and follow wherever my characters lead. No fear. After all, they’re in charge–even if that means they come off a little cunty sometimes.
Hey, don’t we all?
Since I am still churning away with edits on Balancing Act (and also writing some new stuff–yippee for new stuff!), I thought I’d do a little post on something I am not even remotely an expert on, and pass(ive) it off as a tutorial. Seriously, I suck big passive cojones, so this is to help me as much as anyone else. Here goes…in three, two…
Wow, this is such a great #teachingblog. I should totally #followit.
Anyway, the passive voice is one of those writing devils we tend to hear a ton about. It’s a stylistic “error” (for lack of a better word), rather than a grammatical one. Often, the problem with passivity (which, BTW, has not a thing to do with past tense, or tense at all), is it often reduces clarity in writing. Additionally, it can make the author read like a rhetoric-spouting politician. Let’s just look at an example:
The bill to tax individual producers of wind and solar energy was passed in Oklahoma.
That, right there, is some passive spin-doctor shit. It almost sounds like everyone in Oklahoma gave it the thumbs up, huh? Do you know how you can tell this is passive? Add by someone/something to the end.
A bill was passed by sneaky freaking legislatures whose pockets are lined by big business.
Look at me doubling down on the passive clauses!
Who is doing the acting here? It’s the legislatures (and big business). Let’s rewrite this in a more active way:
The sneaky legislatures passed a bill to screw small-time producers of green energy.
Now, it should be noted that neither sentence is grammatically incorrect. Maybe if politicians wanted to make it seem that some vague non-entity passed the bill–it’s not the government’s fault, mind you, it just happened–they would phrase it the first way. Which they do. Passivity is the politician’s playground.
Let’s take another example I like to use when trying to determine if a passive construct is preferable to an active (and it’s all entirely subjective, of course).
Barrack Obama was voted the 44th President.
I add the by at the end and see, yup, it’s passive. But should I reword this?
U.S. citizens voted Barrack Obama the 44th President.
Did I really want U.S. citizens to be my subject? Are they the most important thing about that sentence (ignoring the obvious exchange concerning for the people, by the people, blah, blah, bah)? The argument could easily be made that the subject should be the President and making the voters our subject detracts from the entire point of the statement. Again, it’s stylistically ambiguous.
Let’s take another example and see if you can tell whether it’s active or passive, shall we?
She was running from the garbage truck.
What do you think? It’s got that was, which tends to give people the heebie-jeebies, but it’s not a passive clause. She is the subject. Was (past tense of to be) is a helper for the verb running and the entire thing is written in past progressive (or continuous) tense. If you try the by trick is doesn’t add up. No one else is doing the running for her.
She was run over (by the garbage truck) is something entirely different and is entirely passive. The garbage truck is doing the acting. Of course, if she is my friend, I tend to think she ought to be the subject of the sentence even though the garbage truck was acting upon her. Bad enough she got hit, but now she’s not even the subject of her own story. Insult to injury, I say.
How about another?
The basement had been filled with exercise equipment.
Let’s see…there’s that had been, which is often a red flag. But watch out–to be (in any form) is not always passive. Try the by at the end:
The basement had been filled with exercise equipment by the homeowner.
That settles it. It’s passive. Well, fuck that–let’s fix it.
The homeowner had filled the basement with exercise equipment.
But what if you don’t know who put all that shit in the basement? What if Richard Simmons showed up with a crew of big burly guys and flipped someone’s basement for his new exercise reality TV show?
~Don’t go looking for it. I just made that up. Hey, it could happen.~
If you don’t know who did it, you may decide to leave it passive: The basement was filled with instruments of torture. Oh, but making it active, with the torture equipment front and center, is even better: Instruments of torture filled the basement, covering every square inch in enough wall-to-wall hell to make Ferdinand II of Aragon turn over in his dusty grave.
Okay. Last one.
I had been masturbating when the UPS man delivered a package to my front door.
Oooo, there’s that had been trying to screw with our heads. The sentence gets a little wordy after that, further mucking up the water. Let’s scrap the UPS man to make it easier to identify the conjugated to be as passive or not. Don’t forget to test with a by.
I had been masturbating by… Wait. What?
Hmm. Unless someone else was masturbating me (sigh) I submit that this sentence is perfectly active. I am the subject. Unfortunately, I was masturbating myself (no thanks to the UPS man–he only made the sentence of past perfect progressive/continuous tense because I was actively masturbating when he rang the doorbell and interrupted me). Jerk.
I should really get some curtains for the front door sidelight panels.
Okay, that’s all the writing dissection I’m doing for today. If you’d like to quiz yourself, here’s a handy link. Until next time, when I tackle subject verb agreement. Or not. Maybe sentence fragments. Or I could go on and on about comma splices, they really are a pain in the ass.
Kisses & Cooties,
So, I’m finally nearing the end of my self-edit for Balancing Act. I know I’m suuuuuuper slow, but I like to fool myself into thinking that means it will be better than if I was suuuuuper fast. Right? Here’s to hoping.
Anyway, I’ve been stalled on plans for the next book for a long time now. I’ve got an idea of what will happen–I know Andy’s story fairly well, but this entire time I’ve been dreading writing it because I think it will be hard. Like, really hard. I haven’t been able to plan a love story, because all I can see is darkness. I couldn’t visualize the happy times amid all the issues. Until a few days ago, when I finally got a solid mental picture of my other MC and it all clicked.
I know it will still be hard.
Andy has baggage, so this book can’t be a walk in the park. I mean, even with that fancy wheeled luggage, he can’t drag it behind him for a stroll around the grounds– not without sore arms and a twinge in his back. Not without mud puddles and dive-bombing pigeons, stray baseballs and rude joggers throwing monkey wrenches at every turn. Hell, I’d just stay home with all my baggage and save myself the trouble.
But it MUST be a walk in the park! It’s a romance, dammit! That’s what I do! No matter how tough my characters have it (and they MUST have it tough, because they are meant to be real–they’re real in my head and I need them real in my readers’ hearts and the only way for that to work is for my guys to bleed), they still deserve the rainbows and cooing doves and ice cream sundaes.
Well, I figured it out (safe for me to say from the only outlining stage). Life isn’t sunshine and roses for any of us, but if we have someone who loves us unconditionally, who wants to make every moment sunbeams and park walks and flowers, well, it will be. Eventually. Certainly some of the time. And hauling all that baggage is easier with an extra set of arms (especially an extremely diesel set of tattooed arms–yes, I’m getting excited about this character. Suffice it to say, I’m having good times on Pinterest fleshing this guy out).
Anyway, all those rough spots will only make the good times better, the rainbows brighter, and the romance sweeter. At least, that’s what I’m banking on.
It’s a love letter. I even dipped it in tea, not that you can tell with the assholish way I’m posting this. Eh. You may need to zoom in a bit.
*441 words with a dash of artistic-license-stretchery in time period and tone (although I did read some flowery letters from the 20’s-40’s, so it all depends on the author). Anyway, I didn’t want the guy to end up with a lobotomy (in the 30’s the use of electric shock aversion therapy was just getting warmed up, but they didn’t start scooping people’s brains out until the 40’s). Also, jail was probably tougher to break out of than an old-school psychiatric facility. Maybe. I hope so for the sake of these two.
Here’s the easier-to-read version:
July 2, 1933
My Dearest R,
I hope this note finds you as well as can be. It’s my greatest fear that our final farewell left you in a state of dejection, as it has me. The slurs aimed at you were beyond any I’d imagined when first we began our friendship. I confess here and now to my fear and weakness. I failed you. I hesitated to stand by your side throughout the accusations and vile threats. I’d hoped my tendencies would remain undiscovered as yours were paraded for the masses to ridicule.
I am the worst Judas.
Oh, R, my darling, I’ve regretted my inaction every moment since. My contrition is small consolation, I’m certain, while you languish in your wretched cell and endure all manner of humiliation. Good God! The experimentation the gossips describe! As if our kind are less than animals; senseless beasts deserving of hellish punishment, and the angelic whole of mankind shouldering the burden to rehabilitate us. I know your family intends to help you, but their aid is misguided.
We are not abominations, and we do not decide whom we love. It is thrust upon us like a dagger, or soaks our skin slowly as a spring mist, but no matter, the choice is never ours. It was not mine, but I’d choose you before a tribunal now, my sweet.
Would that I’d been so brave before.
My only peace is that I remain free to aid in your escape.
Mary, my cousin and constant companion, whom you met briefly, warns that a correspondence is far from prudent at this time, but her sources within the hospital reveal the most alarming conditions therein. I’ll not sit idle another moment while your fate lies in the hands of sadists who would break spirit or spine to keep you from loving another man.
If you still do…
Whatever your present mind, I’ll see you free from torture two days hence. Stay steadfast, my love. Ease their suspicion with lies and speak what is in your heart when you are once more in my arms. If your words crush me, it is all I deserve. If they echo the song my soul sings at the memory of your face, the whisper of your name, I swear my heart will take wing and together we will fly from this place.
You’ll know my sign when the bearer of this note makes contact again.
I will come for you, and together we’ll find freedom, no matter how far we must flee. With your hand in mine, I cannot tire.
And I’ll never again leave your side.
Check out all the other flashers! Here’s the original hop call.
I’m working on blog posts for my Crossed Hearts tour, and ended up trying to find a movie about organ transplants making donors crazy. I think I figured out the one I had in mind: a Jeff Fahey film called “Body Parts.”
Anyway, I stumbled across Repo! The Genetic Opera, which I saw a few years ago. Terrance Zdunich is fantastic in this movie; so good, in fact, I have to share this clip.
Don’t worry, there aren’t any possessed body parts in Crossed Hearts. Although now that I think about it, a possessed penis sounds like fodder for a fun erotic horror short, doesn’t it? I may need to write that in my free time.
It’s the world’s most inconsistent blogger here, feeling compelled to do the blog thing out of sheer guilt.
I figure a bit about my current projects is in order, yes?
First up, we have numero uno in my Hearts and Scars series (I say series, but they’ll all be standalones, rather tangentially related to the first book). It’s called Crossed Hearts and I am crunching the insightful comments from my beta readers and then plan to
shit ship it out to an editor. I’ll be losing my self-publishing virginity, and while I can’t say I’m not nervous, I am excited to see how things go on the other side of the fence. I still firmly intend to traditionally publish, but this has been my little solo pet project, and the autonomy of it is exhilarating. Old dogs, new tricks, yadda, yadda.
Oh, and working with my extremely amenable and talented cover artist, Dana Priebe, has been a ton of fun. She’s a close friend who happens to be like a sister to me. 🙂 I was picky, annoyingly specific, and got precisely what I wanted. Once I get on the horn with an editor and figure out the time frame for release, I’ll get a cover up for your viewing pleasure.
Here’s my cover teaser:
Kory Vansant doesn’t deserve to live.
When time sucks him dry of energy, sapping the final ounces of strength from his congenitally enlarged heart, he’s forced to end his career as Kory Kent, porn star. Staring down death, he questions his life choices and prays for a miracle, vowing to change who he is at his core, if only for another chance.
Somehow, his prayers are answered. A perfect heart now beats in his chest. Unfortunately, its previous owner was an innocent young man cut down far too prematurely, and Kory’s blemished history is nowhere near an ideal match.
As his debts skyrocket, Kory can’t help but think his resolve to walk the high road is being tested. After he meets the adorable Will Squire at the gravesite they both visit, he’s doubly damned because there’s no way he can keep up his end of the bargain. What happens when a man breaks a deal with a higher power?
Will often prefers the company of the dead to that of the living. Following a bad breakup, he pours himself into his two jobs—funeral director at his uncle’s mortuary and part-time paramedic. He’s drawn ever closer to Kory, as if fate stuck her fickle hand in and pushed them together like two unlikely puzzle pieces. But sometimes history can’t be buried, and maybe divine intervention isn’t always right. Will discovers everyone is imperfect, no matter how pretty the outer package, and opening one’s heart is never easy, but can be oh so worth the pain.
While I was on this self-publishing bender (yeah, right), I got a bee in my bonnet about my Goodreads, Love Has No Boundaries story, Sticking It. Anyone remember that bit of college gymnast-falls-for-the-nerd fluff? Well, despite its warm reception on Goodreads, a number of people wanted it to be longer. At the time of its origin, I kinda felt like it is what it is. Deal with it. Well, seven thousand (or so) words later, it is what it wasn’t, and I’ll be getting that up on Amazon as per popular request (look at me, with my big girl panties yanked up high, all doin’ stuff).
For the readers who really wanted Dane to go to the Olympics, I say, “Your wish is my command!” I hope you were also wishing for more sex. ABRACADABRA!
I can’t tell you the hours of gymnastics video footage I’ve watched to make this happen. Appreciate it, dammit! 😉
This gorgeous new cover was also crafted for me by the phenomenal Dana Priebe. Her website is in the works. I’ll link when it’s up in case anyone is interested in checking out her stuff.
Anyhoo, the second edition of Sticking It should (hopefully) be ready to go within the month, I promise. I’ll keep you posted!
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