Joining the 21st Century…

I’m working on making my stories available for sale and download through this website. I’ve downloaded the plugins, and now I need to run some tests. Best guess I should have that ready in two weeks, but in the meantime…I’m still available on Amazon and ARe, plus Dreamspinner.

Here’s to 2014…

I’m a terrible blogger. There is only so much time in every day, and given a choice between writing fiction and writing a blog post, I’ll go for the fiction every fricking time.

On top of that, I made some bad decisions last year in terms of work, and ended up spending most of 2013 not writing—or at least not writing anything I should have been writing. Since then, I’ve been scrambling to get some momentum going again…and it’s coming. Slowly.

I do have a short story—Not Water Resistant— coming out with Dreamspinner Press in April of 2014, part of the Juicy Bits anthology. The idea behind the anthology was to feature stories that are just the sexy/smexy/juicy bits—the part of the story you turn to when you want a turn-on. I had this really short M/M/M/M (yes, that’s four Ms) story that I really liked, but had no idea what to do with. It fit the submission guidelines fairly well, so I thought I would give it a shot. And there you go—it was accepted.

Aside from my editing job—I am a contract editor for a publishing house—I have five stories I’m trying to wrestle to the finish. One has a tentative deadline for the end of April, the others are more open-ended.

The novel-length version of A Hard Dazed Knight is one of those I want to finish in the foreseeable future. I hit two plot-snags, and it was only recently that I realized where I’d gone wrong. I know where the story needs to go, but keeping Jay and Simon true to the plot arc has been like herding cats.

And then there’s my were-jaguars…but that’s another headache—I mean blog post.

And even more Complicated…

I have two deadlines to meet in the immediate future, but once those are past, I guess I need to decide on how to handle the follow-up to Complicated, my story for the Love Has No Boundaries event.

When I originally created the world of Pax and Stone Mountain, the plot revolved around Aidan Forester and his relationship with Emery, the female werejaguar. It was supposed to be a straight paranormal romance, in every sense of the word; the tale of their adventures as Aidan came to terms both with the genetic changes forced on him and his attraction to Emery—which touched on a lot of personal issues for Aidan. Not much different than a lot of other stuff out there. Then I created the character of Blais DaSilva, and the whole thing went to hell. Mind you, this was long before I wrote any M/M romance, and before the genre was as popular as it is now. Blais was originally intended to be Aidan’s mirror image, what Aidan would have been if he’d born a werejaguar. I even made their birthdays a week apart. And Blais, like every other male werejaguar, was bisexual, although the more I wrote him, the more I saw that his preference was for males.

No matter what I did, Blais wanted Aidan and vice versa, despite the deep feelings between Aidan and Emery. And Emery didn’t help things any, because it was clear early on that she had no issues with Aidan being with males. The more I tried to keep Aidan heterosexual (and Blais out of their bed), the more forced things seemed, and even though I finished the novel (all 140,000 words of it), it never felt right to me.

Fast forward a bit, and I started playing around with the story of Danny, Aidan’s much-younger brother. By now, I had a far better handle on the jaguars, and Danny was, at the very least, bi-curious. He also didn’t have half Aidan’s hang-ups/issues or Aidan’s PTSD. In order to understand the jaguars even more, I wrote a chunk of backstory regarding the original jaguars captured by the government back in the 1950s. All of that made me rethink the Blais-Aidan-Emery triangle, and I began to see how I might make that work. I already had snippets/chapters about Blais, and now I’m starting to think I can re-work the original novel to get the three of them together earlier on—or at least start them on their collision course.

Fortunately, self-publishing means I can play with releasing this in “episodes”, rather than trying to wrestle their whole story into one volume. I guess my biggest concern is that the story will have both M/F and M/M elements, as well as M/M/F once they are all together. I toyed with the idea of skimming over the M/F sex, but those scenes reveal a lot about jaguar society and their biology. Cutting those scenes would mean explaining all of that somewhere else, and… no.

So, not sure how this will go, but I’ve lived with this world in my head and on paper for over eight years now—time to give it another chance.

Complicated…

Despite swearing to myself that I would not, could not, participate in this year’s writing event hosted by the M/M Romance group on Goodreads—as a behind-the-scenes volunteer, I knew I’d be beyond busy—I did it anyway.

A member requested a feline shifter story, and I just couldn’t resist, ’cause about three years ago, I finished an unpublished monster of a story involving jaguar shifters. So I wrote Complicated, a 50,000 word novel, and used the species I’d created years before. On the one hand, I had all this backstory for a huge cast of characters, and on the other, this needed to be a standalone story. I decided to set Complicated ten years in the future, in 2023, which meant I could use a character who was a child in the original novel—Trey—and give him a grown-up romance of his own.

Trey himself isn’t complicated, but his family is, and any male who wants to get involved with him is going to have to pass muster not only with Trey’s biological father, Blais, but the male who raised Trey, Aidan. Blais and Aidan are lovers, and have been for over fifteen years, and they share their bed with Emery, Aidan’s wife. Then there’s Emery’s much-younger teenage sister, Eva, and Aidan and Emery’s four children, plus Blais and Emery’s daughter. All of them want to make sure the new male who has just arrived in Stone Mountain—Reiner—is good enough for Trey. And things get, well, complicated.

Coming August of 2013… keep an eye on the Love Has No Boundaries event for details…

It isn’t you, it’s fate…

I enjoy reading about people falling in love and lust and bed—not necessarily in that order, and marriage and the two-point-five offspring don’t have to be included. Science Fiction and Fantasy were my favorites growing up, and I got into Romance as a teenager. Paranormal combines all the genres I like, and I’ve read some good paranormal stuff, but one staple of most of the novels out there leaves me cold: destined mates. Authors call it lots of different things; soul-mates, true mates, bonded mates—they all boil down to the same thing. Somewhere out there in the world is your One True Love, the person destined to love you and vice versa. And once you meet them, you’ll simply know, and everything else is irrelevant because it’s destiny.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what it is about this trope that I dislike so much, because obviously it’s popular as all hell. The pop-psychology answer is that relationships are frustrating and mostly disappointing, and reading about finding the person fated to be yours is comforting. We’re also force-fed the idea of Love At First Sight… but that’s a whole other post. Overall, the destined-mate thing is an easy out, a quick fix— which puts it up there with magic diet pills and all those other products on infomercials in my mind.

To balance this, one member of the fated couple is usually all “hell, no, you crazy stalker,” but eventually succumbs to fate and falls in love after two hundred pages of angst, protests, and some sort of life-threatening situation. A lot of times, the couple in question consists of a human and non-human, and in some ways, that irks me even more. If it’s a non-human species that does not reproduce sexually (your classic undead vampire, for example) why would they even need a mate? And if they do reproduce sexually, what would be the point of Destiny setting them up with someone (or something) reproductively incompatible with their species? Unless the non-humans have a big enough gene pool that a few drop-outs here or there won’t matter, Destiny isn’t very bright, and that species is destined for extinction. In hetero romance, the human/non-human pairing is usually able to reproduce via divine intervention of some kind, or simply because they are fated for one another and now—ta-da! the plumbing works.

When M/M authors go this route, that’s where things get trickier (I am not even going to touch the whole Male Pregnancy thing, because if they can get pregnant, they are an alien and human ideas of gender don’t apply. Okay? Long as we’re clear on that.).

The other members of the non-human species usually object because—obviously—the pair won’t be reproducing, not without a surrogate of some kind. But if every member of the species has One True Mate, and nobody gets to choose who they love, why would any of them object to a same-sex pair? That would be saying Destiny got it wrong. On top of that, there’s usually an obvious Sign, like scent or a physical reaction that only occurs when True Mates encounter one another. Again, if this is the mechanism by which the species pairs off, arguing over it makes no sense. It attributes human reactions and sensibilities to a non-human species, and that is generally where I check out of the story.

Then there is the paranormal M/M pairing where everybody is okay with the same-sex aspect, but one of the pair gets all freaky over the fact that their destined mate is male. This is simply another version of Gay-for-You, and unless the fictional world-building is stellar and fresh, I’m not interested. Why? Because I don’t see the point of making a story paranormal unless those aspects—magic, fantastic creatures, alternate timeline, whatever—are integral to the story. If they’re window-dressing to avoid doing research and don’t influence the plot in any other way, why bother?

And yes, I know this is fiction, and paranormal/fantasy to boot, and the author should be able to say “my world, my rules,” and I just have to lump it. But I can’t. Sorry. This bugs me.

I do understand the fascination of this plot device—really. Finding someone to share your life forever is a daunting task, and the fantasy of your One and Only waiting out there to be found is an enduring one. Even more, the concept of an incontestable sign that you are Meant To Be is very seductive, too, the Clear Blue Easy of Love.

Now there’s a story…

A little push…

Right before the holidays, I completely lost the urge to write. I dabbled here and there, poking at some works-in-progress, but overall? Dead stop. We had a vacation planned for mid-January, and I hoped that would help. In the meanwhile, I put a chapter of a WIP on Critique Circle and tooled around over there, writing some critiques and not trying to be productive. On vacation, I managed to get some writing done, but couldn’t drum up any enthusiasm for anything in particular.

Then I saw an article about the wedding boom in New York City since same-sex marriage became legal, and how many wedding planners have changed their focus. That started me thinking about the cliché of the gay wedding planner, which then made me think of Martin Short in Father of the Bride: “The cack sets the tone for ze whole wedding.” On top of that, I wondered about all the subterfuge involved in planning a celebrity wedding while trying to keep the time/date/location secret from paparazzi.

What if a well-known closeted celebrity wanted to marry their long-time lover, and use the wedding as their coming-out party? How far would they be willing to go to keep everything under wraps until the big day?

Several twists and turns later, I had the bare bones of a plot, and started sketching out the characters. Before I had much more than the opening page, I happened on a submission call for wedding-themed stories. It was absolutley perfect… except the deadline was five days away. I honestly thought I might be able to do it: 5,000 words a day for four days, and one day to edit.

I made it through day one with 4,500 words, and the morning of day two I reached 6,000 with no trouble. That’s when the trouble started. The two main characters were more complicated than I thought, and as I wrote, it occurred to me that there were a whole slew of details I needed to address to make this fly. What about their families? Whose names are on the invitations? Is there a pre-nup?

That’s pretty much where I gave up on trying to make the deadline. Could I have done it? Maybe, but I’d have had to throw out a lot of stuff, leave out several scenes or condense them mercilessly. And then the story would suck, and it would be my fault. I don’t have a huge backlist of stories right now, so putting out a rushed attempt with big plot holes isn’t a good idea. Scratch that– actually, it’s never a good idea.

So, will I finish the story? Yeah, I will. I’m somewhere around the 12,000-word mark right now and moving right along. Even better, I’ve pulled out some other stalled stories and moved them forward as well. Seemed all I needed was a deadline, even if it turned out to be impossible.