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Story Review: Losing Kevin

One thing many readers have in common here on GA is that, at one time or another, we've had to grapple with the fact that we're not quite what everyone expects us to be when we're growing up. We're different. But others can't tell. And sometimes, when you're reading, that's a good thing! There are a lot of teen coming-of-age stories on GA, but BlindAmbition really connected with this one for his review. Read on to find out why!    Losing Kevin Ronyx Reviewer: BlindAmbition
Status: Complete
Word Count: 57,913   Choosing a story to read can be difficult, whether you’re craving a certain genre, or a specific mood. Deciding which story to review can be just as difficult. GA has a vast library of stories and authors. I gravitate more to stories that evoke reaction, or real emotion. Losing Kevin by Ronyx is one of those stories. This story has your typical teenage angst, but there's so much more complexity within these characters and their relationships. It’s a binge worthy pleasure from one of GA’s Classic Authors.   Losing Kevin centers on Kevin Williams. A boy who is coming to terms with his sexuality, and what exactly that means for him going forward. A difficult moment for any teenager. Add in his identical twin Devin, and well, it’s a recipe for disaster. The brothers have become increasingly distant as they grow older.   Kevin is a master at blending in and keeping secrets, while Devin is Mr. Popularity juggling a social climbing girlfriend. The only thing these two have in common is pleasing a demanding father. Each has their own way of dealing with him. This has created a certain level of sibling rivalry.   Kevin has kept a low profile. That was until new student Cameron Lynch enters the picture. There’s instant chemistry. Something which hasn’t gone unnoticed. Brewing storms from multiple fronts are ahead for Kevin and Cameron. The realization of secrets and truths will pit brother against brother, friend against friend, parent against parent, parent against child in this complex tale.   Ronyx masterfully dissects these relationships layer by layer, giving the reader multiple views of situations. He does this with extreme neutrality, leaving the reader the opportunity to form their own opinion.   I’m usually not a fan of too many teenage coming of age tales. Ronyx is an exception. He tackles tough and taboo subjects. Sometimes the issues are hard to read about, but they are handled with an honest and delicate curiosity. The teen characters are well formed individuals. You know they are teens, but there is a level of maturity there. Losing Kevin is a good introduction to Ronyx’s stories if you’ve never delved into his library of work. Happy Reading!   Category: Fiction   Genres: Drama, Romance  Tags: teen, gay, coming of age, university  Rating: Mature

Cia

Cia

 

August CSR Feature: The Hidden Ones: The Spotlight by Aceinthehole

Oh, how the world turns... for so many in the upper hemisphere, summer is coming to a close and that means school is beginning again. And with school, we think of teenagers and all that comes with them--the angst and pain of growing up and fitting in or maybe not fitting in. One of our recent promotions to the ranks of Promising Authors, Aceinthehole is one of the site authors who has written a popular story featuring a story that is "a slice of reality of broken people. The ups and downs of growing up" (review by mogwhy). Intrigued by that review and the others on the story, I'm going to take a leap and feature a story that so many readers seem to have been drawn to already even though it's a lot longer than a normal feature. So take advantage of these few last lazy days, if you have them, and enjoy August's CSR feature before the Discussion day on Monday, August 27th.    The Hidden Ones: The Spotlight by Aceinthehole   Length: 188,633 Description: Imagine your perfect life. What’s it like? Are you rich? Are you popular? Do you have a million cars? Well 17 year old Teddy Haner doesn't have to imagine. Being student body president, and captain of his lacrosse team…he has everything! However when a new mysterious friend flips his world upside down, and starts to ascend to stardom, he finds that there’s a lot more to life than popularity.   A Reader Said:  Great story about the rejected kid and the most popular one in school and what they want in life. but keep a box of kleenex nearby for some of the chapters.  ~tabaqui   Remember to come back and share your thoughts on the Discussion day on Monday, August 27th. 

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Cia

 

July CSR Discussion Day: The Tampa Chronicles by BHopper2

Well this was a nice long month between Mondays, so I picked a short story and the novella continuation of the tale written by BHopper2 in A New Life and a New Home and My Son. Did you have a chance to read them before or this month for the feature? Make sure you share you thoughts below! You might also consider writing a review for the story or copying your comments there; authors always appreciate those! But first, as always, I have an interview with BHopper2.    Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point? The short answer is no, and yes. Back when I was still in college, I took a course in Human Reproduction and Development. One of the assignments we had involved reading over a report from the CDC about the dangers of making your bed in the morning. Basically, it is better to not make your bed so that it can air out during the day, and get rid of the sweat and germs you slept off overnight. Of course, I do make it if someone is coming over that might see my room, but overall, nope, I don’t make the bed. If you were an animal, what would you be? I’ve been called a cuddly bear many times by my Ex’s, so I would be a bear. LOL. In the nomenclature of the Gay Culture, I would be classified as a bear. However, I’ve been partial to cats most of my life, and I’ve always liked Snow Leopards, Florida Panthers, and good old alley-cats. So, I think I would be a cat of some sort while hoping it was a Snow Leopard. Which is odd, because my native Floridian self can’t stand the cold. Or a bear… LOL If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do? I have too much free time as it is. I’m disabled, and not currently working. But if I had 30 mins to spend on anything thing I want, I would look for a nice quiet place to perform meditation. I’ve started to get back into the practice of doing meditation daily, and I feel that it helps. Just need to find the quiet, which is hard when all the family is running through the house. Especially now during summer. What brought you to GA? I first came to GA in early 2016. I was over on Nifty, reading some stories, and it was Comicality’s story called Shelter that I wanted to see if there were any more chapters. I did a Google search, and that led me to GA. I started reading the stories here and eventually created an account to interact and post my own stories.   What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Depends on the day, and if my disabilities are getting in the way. But, if it’s a good day… watching sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico, sipping coffee with some friends while talking about various topics, hockey, taking a stroll on Bayshore Blvd and the longest sidewalk in the world, hockey, watching the military men that use Bayshore as an exercise trail, hockey, watching some good shows, reading, and of course my Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. What’s the best part of being an author? Creation. Being an author it lets one create a world, fill it with dynamic characters, and tell a story (or stories) set in that world. Yes, some may use the real world, and take elements from real people to make a character, but the bottom line is storytelling is creation. We are making something from nothing. I recently relearned that according to one study it is estimated 75-80% of Gay Men have some form of Mental Illness, with the primaries being Anxiety, Bipolar, and Depression. I have all three. The feeling you get from creating a world, even if you don’t share it, can help with these issues. Most gay men will never experience the birth of a child that they help create. Not to take anything away from that experience, but writing can help fill the gap with the creation of stories and characters. My stories are my children, my legacy if you will. A prompt inspired A New Life and a New Home. What led you to expand the storyline in My Son? When I wrote A New Life and a New Home, I had just finished talking to the real-life person that inspired the character Chandon. I was looking for an idea to write about and saw the first line prompt. It reminded me of how the real-life version of Jill met her son’s boyfriend, and the rest they say is history. I changed the names of my friend, his boyfriend, and mother, and wrote the story. (They liked it btw.) It was the first story I worked with @Kitt on with her as my Editor. Posted it, and got some good feedback. When I started My Son, I was actually struggling with a different story. I was posting in tim’s Chat Thread @Mikiesboy Drop-In Center about struggling, and tim’s husband Mike (@MichaelS36) suggested I try something different from what I usually do. I had notes and an outline from a story I was planning on doing, that I felt could be used. I sat down at the kitchen table and was looking at House Design plans for a cousin that was building a house. While I was there, that’s when I spotted the house that I would use in My Son. It was gorgeous, and it sparked the first paragraph of the story. I excused myself from the family, set up my laptop, and immediately started the first chapter. Later, I took the notes and New Life and combined them as I kept thinking about Chandon and Brayon, while I was writing about Adam, Duncan, and Rob. I had originally only planned for one chapter for My Son, but the readers wanted more. I had the notes ready to go and finished out the story of Adam and Robert coming together. I now have Tampa Chronicles 3, which is about Duncan’s Nephew Jeremy Isen, and getting ready to start writing Tampa Chronicles 4, which will have all the character together. I must give credit to two people though. Without @Mikiesboy’s and @Kitt’s editing help, neither story would be as good as they are. If your story were made into a movie, could you picture anyone playing the main characters parts? I can see Christian Bale playing the part of Adam Smith, and Duncan Isen would be played by Chris Pratt. As for the kids, Tom Holland would make a good Robert Turner. Brayon Hopper could be played by KJ Apa (Archie for Riverdale). For Chandon Bolton, I can see Cole Sprouse playing him. What was your favorite part of the stories? Showcasing my hometown in My Son. Tampa is just as much of a character as the rest of the ensemble. Also, the sense of love and family, I’ve tried to convey.   Can you share a little idea of your currently working on/future projects with us? I’m currently working on three projects. Getting Tampa Chronicles 4 plotted and planned. I do High Overviews in long arc stories, and I have a list of places I want the boys to go see. I have to give credit to @BabyXander1990, a fellow Tampa resident, for giving me some places for them to visit, that I hadn’t thought of. It will start off with a train trip that has Adam and Duncan taking Robert, Giles, Brayon, Chandon, and Jeremy to Boston for a bit, and then other places around the country before coming back to Tampa. Freedom Station is a new SciFi story that I’m working on. It tells the story of Twin Brothers who were separated and adopted by different families at birth. Their biological mother was part of a government gene-therapy program, and her pregnancy wasn’t discovered when they started. So the twins are more than they seem. They are a successful splicing of Human and Alien DNA. While the story is character focused on the Twin’s reuniting and developing a relationship, in the background Earth is in danger from an alien armada which will reach the Sol System in 36 months. Earth and her alien allies are trying to mount a defense, and Freedom Station a space station in lunar orbit, will be the shield. The last project is called Timeless, and it’s about Garrett. He’s a former US Army Ranger who was a career military officer until a roadside IED caused him to lose both legs at the knee. He’s an avid gamer and went to college to be a computer programmer. Garrett wakes up inside the game Timeless a VRMMORPG. He doesn’t know how he got there, and the story is about him escaping. Think TRON or TRON Legacy, but inside an MMO game, with other players playing normally. This is my first attempt at a LitRPG story, where it’s a story within a story, and when writing the game-world portions, there will be a discussion on game mechanics, the damage being dealt, etc. It’s a fairly new genre of stories that a major motion picture was made of one of the books called Ready Player One. Of course, there is a lot of shorts, practice pieces, and others I’ve done that don’t get published. I would say, about 90% of what I write, doesn’t see the light of day.

Cia

Cia

 

Story Review: Blood of the Neko

Well, happy Monday! Are those groans I hear? Well, hopefully you will either survive, if you're checking this blog before work or you obviously managed to make it through the day if you're home and hopefully relaxing. And what better way than to first read this review by LitLover of this eko tale written by our very own Promising author, Craftingmom?    Blood of the Neko craftingmom Reviewer: LitLover
Status: Complete
Word Count: 61,158   Blood of the Neko is the sequel to the very popular Tears of the Neko by Craftingmom. This is a story about love, loyalty, and most of all, trust and how easily trust can be damaged.  I’ve had a hard time reading stories about abused characters, but there was something about Kaden that drew me in and had me impatient for this sequel.     Kaden is a young Neko hybrid; people who in this world appear part feline, with ears and a tail, and the agility of a cat. In Tears of the Neko Kaden was a slave, purchased as a gift for a nobleman. His sweet and loyal demeanor quickly endeared him to the household and to his new master, who eventually becomes his lover. In Blood the new lovers are learning how to live together as a couple and Kaden is adjusting to his freedom and life as the consort of a powerful lord.   Kaden, fiercely protective of those he loves, decides he want to learn how to properly fight so he can protect Damien if he’s ever attacked again. Knowing his duke would disapprove putting himself in harms way, he decides to keep his lessons a secret. Damien, still smarting from his brother’s deception, immediately thinks the worst when he realizes his young lover is keeping secrets. The seeds of doubt fester as the days go by, resulting in angry accusations, a devastated hybrid and a kidnapping. The whole thing leads to an exciting ending that I won’t spoil for you. You’ll have to read the story yourself to see how everything plays out.  
  Blood of the Neko is a story that pulled me in and had me wanting to wrap Kaden in a protective hug, while smacking Damien on more than one occasion. Warning; there is reference to abuse of a child in this story and it does involve physical abuse in the present day. It won’t be a story for everyone, but I think if you give this series, and this tale in particular, a chance you won’t be disappointed.    Category: Fiction   Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Romance  Tags: young adult, alternate earth, serious, renaissance, love, abuse  Rating: Mature

Cia

Cia

 

July Classic Author Excerpt: Fish out of Water by Altimexis

Did you catch Monday's blog featuring Altimexis's coming of age contemporary novella, Fish Out of Water? If you're a fan of the story, don't forget to download the signature graphic to share it through the month. If you haven't read the story yet, maybe this excerpt will help change your mind!    I picked this excerpt both to share with readers and to help design the ad because who doesn't think of fireworks and love together? Okay, so maybe it's cliché or corny, but really, if you've been in a relationship in the summer (and in the US, for the most part, for our Independence day like the setting of this story) then you've experienced the hot summer night under the sparkling lights that are the explosions of color rocking the horizon. Or maybe wrote someone's name with a sparkler? Maybe cuddled up on a blanket if the heat of the day suddenly cooled and gave you a good excuse to canoodle? Well... there might be some of that (and more) going on in this chapter... but you'll have to check out the excerpt to find out!   To read more, click here. 

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Cia

 

July Classic Author Feature: Fish Out of Water by Altimexis

There's something about summer that brings back a tinge of nostalgia. The heat, the hormones, the first flush of love... and that's what Altimexis's story, Fish Out of Water, has in spades! Check out this story from the 2009 novella contest featuring two American teenagers experiencing all life has to offer for those just starting to look forward to adulthood!      Length: 62,573   Description: Danny and David are two typical American teenagers who share a passion for skateboards, alternative music, philosophy . . . and each other. (2009 Gay Authors Novella Writing Contest) The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David of Hope in editing and Alastair in proofreading this story, as well as the support of Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Nifty. I would also like to thank Rigel for correcting errors with respect to Orthodox Jewish practices.   A Reader Said: Absolutly beautiful and warming story. Love does seem to triumph in many cases. I do not believe in ANY organized religion, however, Dannys take on helping humanity is an excelent substitute for the negativity portrayed by many faithful people and Davids father has truely seen the light in his sons eyes for the betterment of us all...…  ~ wenmale64 If you want to spread the word about Altimexis's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!

Cia

Cia

 

Story Review: How The Light Gets In

This week we're featuring a story by one of GA's Classic authors, one that isn't quite finished based on the story status (always important to check if you have a preference). Good thing we have a lot of ways to filter stories. Even better than just doing a search for stories, are these great reviews by our very own review team. And today's review of Duncan Ryder's story is by Parker Owens. Let's see what he thought of How The Light Gets In.    How The Light Gets In Duncan Ryder Reviewer: Parker Owens Status: In process (= unfinished)
Word Count: 91,687 The lives of two young men who have known too much darkness in their lives intersect. They and their friends search for relief, and for healing. This is a sequel to the excellent story Everybody’s Wounded, but it can stand alone.   How the Light Gets In is the second in a two-part novella. In the first part, Everybody’s Wounded, we meet three of the four central characters in part two. Even so, How the Light Gets In is the more powerful, more compelling of the two halves, perhaps because the reader is given deeper insight into the dark night of hurt which haunts each one. Readers should be warned that this story deals with very problematic subjects: rape and suicide. Ryder writes about these things with considerable and commendable care and compassion for his characters.   The two central personalities, Luc and Matt are returning to university in deeply unhappy circumstances. Each is enveloped in his own inky well of gloom. Josh and Scott, students at the same university, are lovers. They, too, have a history of hurt. These four men share interlocking stories and injury and love. The tale unwinds some of these, while each man slowly gravitates through his own ache to that place in the dark where he realizes he is not alone. Ryder shifts viewpoints deftly to describe and develop their intersections, and these drive the story forward.   One might be forgiven for feeling that one is reading or watching a French film. Conversation, both intimate and general, propels the plot onward at many points. This is not to say there aren’t dramatic moments of action; there are. Yet it is not these instances we recall, but how these young men handle, discuss, and interpret them. Growth comes with reflection and dialogue. It is a subtle way to tell a story, but effective, and very much in keeping with the way real people recover from deep injury.     The growth and depth in the central characters is an abiding strength of the novella. Each has many facets, each has multiple layers. These young men, as well as their circle of friends, are well drawn without forcing too much detail upon the reader. One can easily call each person in the story to mind, but variations in what readers invent are certain. It is a trait of good writing to allow the reader to imagine, and Ryder does this especially well.   However one imagines them, Ryder gives us understanding to connect with these men individually. One cannot help but care for them and sympathize with them as they make their way toward something more hopeful.   How the Light Gets In is not without its flaws. There are times when characters respond to situations with maturity and wisdom quite unexpected in young undergraduate students. They seem older than their years, perhaps because of the burden each one carries. In addition, readers complained that the final chapter did not feel like an ending. A number of comments expressed a need for more, for some definite feeling of closure.   Ryder does not give readers a happy-ever-after denouement. Instead, we get a far deeper moment in which darkness is transcended by the ever brightening and broadening cracks in its curtain. In this way, Ryder connects us to the quote from Leonard Cohen’s lyrics which provided the title for the story.   This was one the first things I read on GA. Its quality made me return to explore further. I hope other readers will find this classic tale still compelling, and that it still sings its song and weaves its spell for many more to come.   Category: Fiction   Genres: Drama, Romance  Tags: young adult, adult, gay, university   Rating: Mature

Cia

Cia

 

July CSR Feature: The Tampa Chronicles by BHopper2

What? Another 2 story series? Yes, that's what's on tap for this month's CSR feature too! Of course, instead of two short stories, we're featuring a prompt and a novella-length story written by BHopper2. This contemporary coming of age story is rife with feels, but also contains some graphic content (no sex) so please make sure you check out the tags and the story description. It's quite popular already, so I'm hoping we'll have a great Discussion day on the last Monday of the month. And hopefully lots of reviews posted on the stories too!    A New Life and a New Home Length: 2,254   Description: Sixteen-year-old Brayon came out to his Progressive parents, but they did the one thing he didn't expect. They disowned him and kicked him out. This is his story.    A Reader Said:  This had me hooked! There's a style here of 'just the facts, ma'am' that's balanced and nuanced. I was drawn right in, like I was watching it happen and not reading about it at all.  Read it for yourself, and you won't regret it. ~ AC Benus     My Son Length: 32,530   Description: Adam Smith is a successful businessman, who recently came home to Tampa, Fl. Retired at age 38, living in a newly constructed house, he feels like he's set for a new chapter in his life, with plans to set up a Micro-Brewery.   A Reader Said: An interesting plot, well-drawn characters, and realistic dialogue take us through the joys and fears of meeting your child as a teen.  ~ JeffreyL   Don't forget to come back on the Discussion Day, Monday July 30th, to share your thoughts!!  

Cia

Cia

 

Cia's Torturing Me: Mod Queue Tips

Cia’s Torturing Me! by Cia   If you’re an author, I’m sure you’ve thought that at least once, right? I swear, it’s nothing personal! GA’s posting system is complicated, and there is always a learning curve for new authors to figure out the ins and outs of posting here. I'm also the primary staff member who reviews Stories submissions, so I am not picking on any one person if you receive more than one PM; I'm simply the staff member who reviews everything in the queue unless I am away from GA for some reason. That being said, there are a few things that will get you on my hit… uh, kindly message list.   Posting Issues Most Likely To Trigger a Moderation PM:   *A posting bug issue noted by some authors since the update: Chapter text or other content uploads as files instead of pasting as text. This should not happen. If it does, try a different browser.    Posting More Than One Chapter New stories should always be posted with a single chapter only. These should be properly edited, ready to go live and be read by readers. A prologue can be added when you post the new submission, and published separately from the story and chapter, but you can't go back and add a prologue later. Additional chapters CAN be posted, but only if you post-date them. You can read about the post-dating system in the faq here.   Paragraph Spacing This might be the most common mistake I see. You can check the spacing using the "Preview" button in the text editor (looks like an magnifying glass over paper) to view how it will appear after you save your content.  Check your story content after you post, please.   Some writing programs, browsers, and/or devices (tablets/phones) are not compatible with the text editor. It can either strip out or add extra spaces between the paragraphs. Reviewing your chapters allows you to fix that before I find it in the queue. A fix in Word for extra spacing can be found in the faq here.   If you use other writing programs, like Google docs, tablets, etc… try posting with a new browser or placing your text in another program before you copy to GA until you have the correct spacing. We can't always tell you what the exact problem is in these cases to fix the spacing issue.   Flash Fiction and Poetry Short stories under 1k in length, such as prompt responses, or poetry must be placed in a ‘collection’. This is as simple as creating a title that implies a collection, such as ‘My Shorts or My Haiku’ and then posting a single submission as the first chapter. Then subsequent posts would be made as chapters to that ‘collection’. The chapter titles can be edited and notes can be placed in each chapter as a description, if you choose. You may have more than one collection, though we ask authors to limit them to 4 or 5 at most, to separate types of poetry or stories if you have a large number of varied content available.   Posting a Series Title If you are posting a story that isn’t a follow up story to one already existing on GA, you do not have a series. Please don't use this field. Once you post the 2nd story in your series you can go back and edit the first story to include the series information for the search engine. Also you can never have story 0 of a series.   Content Yes, we have limits of basic editing standards and quality for stories posting on GA. If you don’t know the word ‘I’ should be capitalized, or how to use a basic spellcheck, you will be placed under review and your story may be rejected until you can edit it up to a minimum level of readability. Yes, we allow stories with erotic content. We also allow stories that show drug use, suicide attempts and actual suicides, abuse, rape, etc… but there are criteria for each that must be followed, such as not glorifying the acts and adding content warnings to the story/chapter notes for extreme content. Erotic content must be integral to the plot and cannot be more than half the story plot. There is a narrow band of acceptable incest and bestiality themes, but necrophilia is NEVER allowed.   Various Meta Data Fields Filled Out Incorrectly We have a 3 step rating system for stories for authors to use. They include Everyone, Teen, and Mature. Teen and Mature ratings apply for stories containing content like sex, violence, abuse, or suicide stories. Mature would mean any ‘on-screen/graphic’ content. Teen includes those themes, but it might occur in the backstory or off-screen such as a ‘fade to black’ sex scene not actually written in. Everyone means no graphic content.   We have a story status system that has 3 levels. In Process means you’re still posting the story on GA (even if you have completely written, until you post the last chapter live it is not complete on GA) and On Hold means you’re not posting the story for whatever reason. Make sure you post to the right category for your story. There is a drop menu with many options, so please check them all to ensure you have chosen the best ones for your story.   And there's more… This is why we ask that authors read the entire Author and Story related faq topics before they post.   Any story deemed suspect for any reason will be placed under review and discussed by the forum moderation team to ensure a fair team decision on acceptability. I am not a dictator with the only say in what does and does not get approved.   Questions I Get The Most From Authors:   Why are you checking my stuff in a moderation queue? We check to ensure proper posting procedure is followed, that the content falls within our guidelines, and that you’re not a plagiarist. The fact is, we’ve been burned before with people stealing stories and posting on GA. We don’t always catch it, but we try our utmost to protect authors’ rights on this site.   How long does the queue take? Typically 24 hours, at the most. I say this because I check the mod queue once a day. Usually I attempt this between 5-10 AM, Pacific Standard Time, but I do have a life and things sometimes crop up. If you post at 9:00 AM and I already checked the queue, and something comes up the next day and I don’t get to it until the afternoon… you may wait longer than 24 hours. Sometimes I can review and approve submissions several times a day. Anything with questionable content triggering a team review can take several days, as all staff are volunteers.   Please remember I’m one person who dedicates time every day to this process, but I am not perfect. In the past we’ve found bugs with the posting system when author’s work didn’t post to the queue properly as well. IF your submission remains in the queue for an unreasonable amount of time without any contact from me, you can PM me.   How long am I in the queue? There is no set time limit in the queue, but there is a cut-off point. You must have 250 likes on your forum content, stories, and chapters before you're moved outside the queue. Once you have achieved that level, your stories and chapters will post when you publish them. So, it behooves an author to be active, posting consistently, and interacting with readers and other members on our forums as well.   Is your decision the sole factor in submission approval? No, it’s not. As I said before, any story deemed suspect for any reason is reviewed by the forum moderation team for a fair discussion and consensus.   Why can’t I edit my story/chapter or why did I get an error message when I tried to edit my story/chapter? The system has a fail-safe set in place to prevent large amounts of text in a chapter or story from being removed. We expect that you post your best work that has already been edited. If there is a serious problem, or you do not take advantage of the offer, I will remove the story/chapter content for you to repost if you PM me.   Why can’t I delete my story/chapter(s)? Again, there’s a fail-safe built into the system to prevent that from occurring. Authors can place their work unpublished so no one but the author or staff can see it, but they cannot delete. No, we will not refuse to remove your work, but you must PM me to ensure complete deletion from the system. I will usually want to know why, because if there’s a problem with the story, posting, or a moderation issue with another GA member, a cooling off period and discussion can sometimes resolve the issue without the story actually being deleted.   I’m so confused! How do I find help? We have a FAQ you can find under the Help tab in the red menu bar. The topics there explain all this and more, plus there is a step-by-step explanation of what each field is for in our story submission form as well as various things unique to our system. If you’ve read the FAQ and still don’t know the answer to your questions, please feel free to PM me. It can often be easier to ask ahead of time than to sort out posting issues after you submit your story.

Cia

Cia

 

June CSR Discussion Day: Anthologies by Mark Arbour

June flew by! Alas, all too many years have passed since these times in the stories written by Mark Arbour in this month's CSR selections, Furlough and War's End. Did you have the chance to read these anthologies? They do tie together, so you really should read them that way so you can review both of them. If you haven't, first enjoy this interview with Mark and then go check out the anthologies and then come back and share your thoughts in the comments below! If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do?  When I have half an hour of spare time, I generally pick up my iPad and catch up on games (like Words with Friends) or the news.  I guess the preferred answer would be that I’d write, since that goes with the theme here, but to do that it takes more than time: it takes motivation.  What’s one location you’d love to go to research for a story?  I’m hoping to get to England in the next year or two.  I’ve spent limited time there, and what time I spent was in London, which I loved.  My plan is to spend some more time in London, then head down to Portsmouth to the Royal Navy Museum, and most importantly, to visit HMS Victory.  What's your favorite room in your house? Do you plot or write there?  The bathroom.  No one bothers me there.  I don’t write there (SMILE). What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know? I flew on the Concorde from Paris to New York and I’ve travelled on the Orient Express (train). If you had to only work on one project for the next year... what would it be?               My ADD addled brain finds the idea of working on just one project absolutely abhorrent.  What draws you to work on period pieces when you write stories? There’s really two pieces to that question…there’s the time period and there’s the location.  I’m an avid reader, so during my reading travels, occasionally a time and place will intrigue me, and I’ll store that away for a potential story topic.  For a longer story (like the Bridgemont Series), it has to be an era that has truly captivated me.  You didn’t ask, but if I were to write another historical series, it would probably be set in Ancient Regime France, most likely around the reign of Louis XIV or XV.  Did you pick WWI as a time period for a particular reason for Furlough and War’s End? I picked World War I for three reasons, the first two of which are books.  I’d finished reading John Keegan’s “The First World War,” then I’d read Jeff Shaara’s “To the Last Man.”  Keegan did an excellent job of outlining the war from a historical perspective, and then Shaara made it come to life in the talented way that he has.  The final reason was that my grandfather fought in WW1, and I had been going through some boxes in the basement and I’d uncovered his gas mask and helmet, stark reminders of the hell he’d gone through at Verdun.  Do you have a preference for one story over the other? I like War’s End better, because I’m a sucker for happy endings.  Both stories have strong themes relating to soldiers/war and recovery. Was this just their story that came to you, or was there an underlying theme to the story from events in real life at the time? I wrote these stories in 2009-10, and during that time frame our soldiers were coming back from the debacle that was the Iraq War and Afghanistan.  There was much talk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but unfortunately the talk didn’t seem to manifest itself into action.  Suicides were much too frequent, and when it happened to a family friend, that brought the whole issue to the front of my brain.  I continue to agonize over how we, as a nation, glorify our soldiers when they go off to fight, yet after they are done and come home, we really don’t give a shit about them.  Do you have a favorite scene/moment/sentence in either story that resonated with you that you’d like to share with readers?

Cia

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Classic Author Excerpt: The Union of Darkness and Light by Lugh

Well, it's Wednesday. Did you check out this month's Classic Author feature on Monday, or download your copy of the graphic for your signature? It's definitely an unusual little tale and has an ending I don't think you'll expect. Well, if you read Lugh's stories, you probably already know that the story won't go like you think it will and the ending is never far from assured. But let's talk about another part of the story, because there's a hint in the beginning that just captures the attention and hooks you, and that's the excerpt I chose.    To read more, click here . 

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June Classic Author Feature: The Union of Darkness and Light by Lugh

June is transition month... hot to cold, cold to hot, the spring equinox. The month of weddings for many; gay pride month. The end of the school year and the start of summer vacation. And this month, June is also the month we're featuring a different kind of transition, and union, with Lugh's short story, The Union of Darkness and Light. An interesting tale spanning years in the lives of the characters, we see the tale from multiple POV and learn that all we think is good and light and bad and dark is not always as it seems.    Length: 19,719 Description: Some faery tales start with a kiss; some end with a kiss. They all take place in a perfect world. Well, if you don't count the wicked step-mother and the prince-eating dragon. This is my version of a modern faery tale. There are no wicked step-mothers nor prince-eating dragons, but not everything is exactly perfect either. And it all starts with a kiss...   A Reader said: Sweet... a lot of fun Lugh. I look forward to reading more of your work. ~ Stephen ODonohue   If you want to spread the word about Lugh's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!

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Story Review: The Lilydale Leopards

What's better than another great featured review from the hardworking review team here on GA? When it's about one of my fellow admins (you're reading that right, if you missed that Graeme is now stuck on our unruly team) that members might not know is also an accomplished author with a very popluar sporty epic. Sound intriguing? Check out Timothy's review we've been keeping under wraps to surprise @Graeme with today!    The Lilydale Leopards Graeme Reviewer: Timothy M. Status: Complete Word Count: 821,737   Would you like to meet a team of hunky Australian footballers? If so, then Graeme’s Lilydale Leopards series is the perfect place to go. You’ll experience plenty of game action and footy skills, but no intimate bedroom stuff. Graeme’s writing never goes beyond kissing and cuddles. However, since most of the guys are straight, perhaps that’s OK? As for the locker room and shower scenes you’ll have to use your imagination.     Of course, there’s an exception to the rule — the gay footballer— who makes the story even more interesting. In the first book, Leopard Skin Cover, ‘Ken’ is deep in the closet, mainly due to the lack of acceptance in the macho sport of Australian Rules football. He knows his chances of advancing to AFL, the major league, would be hampered by coming out. On the other hand, staying in the closet has several disadvantages, one of which is being unable to date Tony, the new marketing employee of the Leopards club. Another problem is the stress of pretending he’s straight to everybody around him, something many GAreaders can probably relate to.   The sequels, Leopard Spots and Leopards Leap, are just as well written and the full story explores not only relevant themes of friendship, bullying, and bigotry, but also the striving for achievement and acceptance. I’ve returned to the series several times to spend time with the friends I’ve made there. The core group of team members and supporters, both staff and fans, are described and shown in such caring and fun ways that we readers engage ourselves in their lives and fortunes as if we know them personally. We cheer, groan, laugh, gasp, and keep our fingers crossed for the success of the Lilydale Leopards, and some of us occasionally rant at the stupidity of various characters. 😊   Don’t be put off by the sports setting. I had no knowledge about Australian football, but Graeme seamlessly weaves the information into the story. The training, games, and constant need for sponsors and winning strategies provide a rich background for the main story arcs. This is a tale with passion, drama, sadness, and joy, as well as love and the kind of loyal friends we all wish for. Well, maybe except for Alex.    Once you’ve become part of the Lilydale Leopards family you’ll never forget them, or in the words of another devoted fan:   Defiance19: Thank you for creating this family of football players whom we came to know as friends. For sharing their lives, and telling their story. We loved them, shared their pain, celebrated their highs, suffered their lows and everything in between.
Take your time to savor the first three books and join the rest of us in the ongoing Book 4. See you there.   Category: Fiction   Genres: Drama, Romance  Tags: young adult, Australia, no sex, coming out, psychology, sports, friendship   Rating: Teen

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Cia

 

June CSR Feature: Anthologies by Mark Arbour

This month I thought we'd try something a little different. Instead of a single story, I picked two of Mark Arbour's shorter works (instead of his epic series, sorry to his fans!) from his anthologies. I hope you're in the mood for a trip into the past, something Mark does all too well, with his stories from the Carpe Diem and the I'd Never Do That anthologies.    Furlough      War's End    by Mark Arbour Furlough Length: 4,853 Description: Two wounded men meet in Paris during World War I. One is wounded on the outside, both are wounded on the inside. Will their accidental meeting help heal both of them? A Reader Said: I found this beautiful story very touching. I think the war setting added a tension and immediacy to the encounter between the two men, causing me to feel compassion for them quite deeply. Thank you ~ DonR2D2   War's End Length: 6,287 Description: World War I is coming to an end, but for two men, both former soldiers, peace means a return to their separate homes and their separate lives. A Reader Said:  Stop!  Read Mark's story Furlough  before reading this story which is more than an epilogue!   This is a fitting finish to Furlough and is a fast and scintillating read!     As always with Mark's stories, there is a bit of sex, a lot of love and much thought.  ~ Daddydavek   Don't forget to come back on the Discussion Day, Monday June 25th, to share your thoughts!!   

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Improve & Encourage #12: Stars for the Star

I hope you all enjoyed the last Improve & Encourage feature, because it's time for another one. These features are meant to both provide feedback to authors and, similar to story reviews, point out stories that readers might not otherwise have found. It's similar to a review, in that the person doing the critique tells you what they liked about the story, but it differs in that they also provide constructive criticism. Each author signed up to participate, and sign up's are still open!  These will post once a month until the last author signed up is critiqued. If you'd like to provide a critique for the blog, sign up in the thread. Just remember, by signing up, you are also volunteering to have your story critiqued and featured. I'm currently out of these critiques, so if you've already signed up, and haven't yet provided your critique, please get them in as soon as possible. As I will be gone for a while, for the time being, please include @TalonRider and @Cia in the PM.   Stars for the Star Parker Owens   Critique By: CassieQ   Please give us a short summary of the story you chose. Beau left his hometown of Lafayette to brave the colds of Ohio only to have to deal with bad Southern accents, jealousy, stage fright and his handsome and charismatic coworker George. What do you see as the strengths of the story/poem? This was delightful to read.  There is a fantastic subtle humor in it that I wasn't expecting, from Beau's opinion of the Ohio winters, to his coworkers ridiculous Southern accents.  Beau's emotions were so vivid; I could feel the way he seethed with jealousy over Harold, the paralyzing trepidation of being on stage and the sexy undercurrent of all the scenes where he interacted with George. What do you see as the weaknesses of the story/poem? This was extremely well done, but the ending felt a bit abrupt.  It was a sweet and delightful conclusion, but it didn't appear to match the pacing of the rest of the story and therefore came off as rushed and a bit jarring.  How do you think the story/poem could be improved? A little bit more resolution near the end.  It was a lovely conclusion to the story, but after all the build-up to it, I would have liked to see just a little bit more.  (Also, I was a little bummed because I liked reading about these characters so much).  What was your favorite part? I liked the scene where George brought in some Vietnamese shrimp fried rice for Beau.  It showed that George was thinking of Beau when he was out to lunch and knew him well enough to know that he liked the rice and would be hungry.  It was very sweet and thoughtful. And this line:  " Something definitely pinged, and it wasn't just my brain."  Nuff said.   
 

May CSR Discussion Day: Lie of the Serpent by Craftingmom

Welcome to the end of May... how did that happen? No, seriously! It's crazy how fast the year is flying by, and we're almost halfway done with 2018. And what does flying have to do with this month's author and featured story? Well, did you read Lie of the Serpent? Or you can check out my interview with Craftingmom. And don't forget to share your thoughts on her story below.    If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Of course, I've recently watched the Infinity Wars movie, so the Marvel superheroes and their powers are what's coming to mind.  I think manipulation of time, like Dr. Strange, would be cool so I could fix things I feel I did wrong (but then you get into the whole question of how that change would affect future outcomes and all), but, still, I have regrets that would be nice to not have.  Of course, a lot of my dreams involve flying, so maybe that's my subconscious telling me I'd prefer flying as my superpower! What are you wearing (and no fibbing!)? A grey comfy nightgown and cozy slippers—it is 2 am, so yeah...   What’s one location you’d love to go to research for a story? I'd love to go to Greece.  Mythology was my specialty in my English minor and I'd like to eventually write something with a Greek or maybe Roman setting.  It would be hard because there is so much out there involving the Greek and Roman gods, but maybe twist off of a minor myth.  What brought you to the GA? I originally had started posting at AFF and Fiction Press with Tears of the Neko.  Then I found GA in looking for stories, and tried posting Tears of the Neko here.  The feedback/critiques I received here were (and have been) by far the most helpful and insightful.  They helped me to revamp Tears by adding over 20k words from its original form.  Comments and questions from readers have greatly helped me to advance my writing and grow as an author.  And now I only post here! What’s the best part of being an author? Well, I've been writing since at least middle school (so over 30 years).  Obviously, the 'old' stuff is mediocre at best, but even then the thrill of creating my own world and characters has been a driving factor in my writing.  Of course, there's the tiny part of me that enjoys sharing my writing with others and hoping they like it.  For the longest time (years—until college anyway), the only person who I ever allowed to read any of my fiction stories was my best friend, and she'd try to steal my spiral notebook while I was still writing.  In college, I allowed a few more friends to read my stories.  I would publish short stories and poetry in the school's literary journals, but never any of my longer works.  I didn't put anything major out for the mass public to view until putting my young adult works on Amazon in 2013, and then Tears of the Neko on AFF in 2014—the start of my journey into writing m/m fiction. How did you come up with the title for Lie of the Serpent? Well, I think of a snake laying in wait to pounce and devour its prey.  They're stealthy and slithery and can often hide in plain sight.  So that's how I think of Bryan's mother.  And of course she's lying to Bryan about Wyatt and how she feels about his relationship so.... Lie of the Serpent. Lie of the Serpent is actually based off of an idea of a story I wrote back in high school.  The title then was The Sexton Keeps the Key, a line from an Emily Dickenson poem.  While some basic plot elements are the same (the mom kidnapping and trying to kill her son's significant other and the disabled brother helps save them), Lie of the Serpent became so much more, as the original was not nearly as engaging, detailed, or planned.  I kinda suck at coming up with titles.  So sometimes when reading poetry or listening to music, I'll jot down a line or phrase that intrigues me and keep a list.  Sometimes those help trigger me to think up more interesting titles... sometimes, not all the time... Is there anything you found particularly challenging when you wrote Lie of the Serpent? I find writing a hateful or abusive parent rather difficult, but they are out there as we see in the news all the time.  There has to be some motivation behind their actions and detailing that can be challenging.  Eddie was also difficult, because while he's complicit in Wyatt's captivity, he also wants what's best for his brother.  The conflict his mother creates for him is difficult for him to reconcile because he wants to please both his mother and brother. Did you do any kind of research for it? A little research on the health problems Wyatt would be facing during his captivity and after his rescue.  A lot of times readers will offer suggestions or ask questions that has me looking things up as well. What’s your favorite scene in the story? Probably Wyatt's rescue where Eddie brings Wyatt out to Bryan.  Bryan and Eddie's utterly unconditional love for each other is what familial love should be, contrasted with their mother's selfish betrayal of her sons.  If you could write a spinoff story for character(s) in this story, which one would you pick? Oh Eddie, definitely.  While Bryan and Wyatt are whom I would consider the main protagonists, Eddie is a strong third and is definitely a dynamic, sympathetic character who deserves his own love interest.

Cia

Cia

 

May Classic Author Excerpt: Stonegate Stables by Gabriel Morgan

Did you catch Monday's blog featuring Gabriel Morgan's sexy contemporary Texas story, Stonegate Stables? If you're a fan of his story, don't forget to download the signature graphic to share it through the month. If you haven't read the story yet, maybe this excerpt will help change your mind!    I chose this short excerpt from chapter three because it's incredibly descriptive in a way that makes you desperately want to see what the characters are seeing, for one, and two, because it gives you so many ideas about what is going to happen next. You get a glimpse of Sean's day-to-day life and then, bam, a big moment hits. Those sorts of you'll know it when you see it, if you're ever lucky enough to have it happen to you, life's about to change because this person is just... them.    But life doesn't always turn out how you think it will, and Stonegate Stables might be a contemporary story with a hefty dose of romance (and sex, lots and lots of sex) but the author didn't forget that either. So this excerpt might just not mean what you think it means... but to find out, you'll have to read it, and then read the story!   To read more, click here. 

Cia

Cia

 

May Classic Author Feature: Stonegate Stables by Gabriel Morgan

All you have to do is look at the title to know there's going to be a lot of *coughs* fun going on in this story. Because where there are stables, there are horses, and where there are horses, there are guys dressed in tight pants who ride horses... and... I'll let your imagination take it from there. Or, you could just go read Gabriel Morgan's Stonegate Stables if you haven't already!      Length: 221,486   Description: Against the backdrop of a horse stable in Texas, Sean deals with the lives and loves of his friends and neighbors as he pursues the biggest prize in show jumping and works to keep his own relationship strong and steady.    A Reader Said: I think this is the sixth or seventh time I've read Stonegate Stables, stem to stern. Delighted to do so again here at GA, discovering some new (to me) authors and writing. Gabe, I love your style, your honesty, your ease with which you create both the characters and the relationships. Most of all I appreciate your sense of normalcy that each of these relationships expresses, the richness of being true to one's nature and being engaged and contributing to community in the here and now. You're a model for the greatness of being within all of us in these stories, and I thank you! ~ Sclyburn   If you want to spread the word about Gabriel Morgan's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!

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Featured Story: Button

Well, it's the start of a new week, and for today's schedule, we're bringing you BlindAmbition's review of Button by Cole Matthews. Featured story days are a great way to highlight one of the many stories that can be found in GA Stories. With so many stories, it's easy for a single story to get lost in the shuffle. Now, onto the review. Hopefully you enjoy BlindAmbition's review enough to go check out Button for yourself!   Button Cole Matthews   Reviewer: BlindAmbition
Status: Complete
Word Count: 77,786   I’m happy to be providing my first official GA story review. There are so many wonderful stories on GA, so it was hard to choose one. I decided on highlighting the story Button by Cole Matthews. It’s a little gem that flies below the radar. The story is full of heart and meaning, without being preachy. It offers a little something for everyone. I read this story before joining GA, and it still resonates with me.
The story revolves around a full cast of characters, but it’s truly Button’s story. He is left on the doorstep of his father Craig’s house. Craig and his partner Graham take on the Herculean task of raising Button. Each chapter represents another year in their lives. Craig is the buddy and most relatable figure to Button, whereas Graham is the overprotective nurturer. Each father plays an invaluable part in what Button will become.
Button will experience hardship through his learning disability. He will also learn to achieve and overcome adversity. Button gains confidence through an abundance of love. Learning how to deal with the curves life throws at you can be difficult, but it’s what you make of any situation that counts.
Cole has written a story with a lot of heart. It’s not fluffy and sugarcoated. It’s also not depressing and a Debbie Downer. Button is just an honest portrayal of life, life that isn’t certain and often changing. The story's strengths come from  showing people are flawed, constantly evolving and resilient. These are all things we inevitably learn in the game of life.
The only criticism I have of the story is wanting more. Each chapter represents a year; this limits how much of Button’s life can be included in those chapters, although I  feel writing in another format would have taken away from the story’s special quality and voice.   Category: Fiction   Genres: Drama  Tags: gay, light-hearted, parents, psychology, modern, love  Rating: Teen
 

May CSR Feature: Lie of the Serpent by Craftingmom

It's May... already?! How did that happen? I swear the time keeps flying by, but that just means we have to remember to take some time out to stop and enjoy ourselves. This month, that means you get to read Craftingmom's story, Lie of the Serpent. This contemporary crime mystery will hopefully keep you on the edge of your keyboard from start to finish!  Lie of the Serpent Lie of the Serpent by Craftingmom   Length: 70,591 Description: When Bryan finally finds the man he wants to be with forever, he thinks his life will be perfect. But it's taken time to convince not only Wyatt that he's sincere, but his own mother as well. Between Wyatt's anxiety to trust again after a brutal breakup with an ex, the ex still trying to wreck havoc in Wyatt's life, and Bryan's own mother's doubts, Bryan is over-stressed. So when Wyatt disappears days after their engagement, he's left devastated and confused.   A Reader Said: I love all the books by this author and have read them all.    This one was slightly different from her usual writings, but still a compelling read.    I liked the storyline in this one because even when you find out who is the bad guy, you still can't see how the good guys are going to work it out in time. The bad guy isn't unexpected, but the lengths they go to are.    As always a well written and thought out story from an imaginative author.  ~ Caz Pedroso   Don't forget to come back on the Discussion Day, Monday May 28th, to share your thoughts!! 

Cia

Cia

 

April CSR Discussion Day: X-Dream Makeover by Cris Kane

Did you have a chance to read these short stories featured in Cris Kane's fantastical tale, X-Dream Makeover this month? While there is a common thread in all 4 chapters, they do standalone quite well, so I hope a lot of people got a chance to read at least one of the four. Did you have a favorite character? Makeover? Make sure you share your thoughts below in the comments, but first, as always, I grilled the author to find out a little more about him and his writing!    If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do? Nap.   What's your favorite room in your house? Do you plot or write there? The bedroom. That's also where my computer is located, so I guess the phrase "that's where the magic happens" actually applies in this case. The stories I've posted here are unusual for me in that I haven't outlined them in advance. I've come up with a premise and let the writing process tell me where it needs to go. That said, once things start to fall into place and a structure reveals itself, I end up jotting down lots of notes for events and details that should fall later in the story, if only so I don't forget them.   What’s the best part of being an author? As many have said before me, I like having written more than I enjoy the actual work of writing. That said, my favorite part of the process is the moment when a particular phrase or sentence pops into my head or flows out of my fingers and surprises me. Something that perfectly fits the precise situation. Something that could ONLY work at that exact point in the specific context of the set of characters and circumstance I've put in place.  Some realization that I would never have come to if I hadn't been writing this particular story. I don't feel like I can take much credit for such brainstorms, but I do feel lucky that I'm the first person who gets to enjoy them at the moment of conception. I hope they eventually give the reader a similar amount of pleasure.   What kind of research did you do for X-Dream Makeover? Location? Theme? Character? The most helpful "research" for this series of stories has been my visits to San Francisco over the years. I don't live there, but have been there enough that I have a general lay of the land that I figure my sense of geography won't be glaringly off the mark. Otherwise, this group of stories didn't require a lot of intense research. Despite the fantastical nature of the transformations, I did try to treat the situations as realistically as I could, exploring the potential drawbacks that might come about if Mr. Lee's various potions and devices actually existed.   The line in the first chapter, “So what is it you wish to have that your money cannot buy you?” feels particularly… sinister. Sort of in a ‘Beware, go no further, danger, danger’ vibe that directly contradicts the modern Mr. Lee we see at first. Did you deliberately merge these two natures of his character or did it develop organically as you wrote? From the very beginning, I wanted to paint Mr. Lee as enigmatic, leaving his origin and even his age intentionally vague. He might seem like a stereotypical "old Asian wise man" but he knows more than he's letting on. He's clearly putting on an act to some degree, speaking in a stilted manner and purposely coming across as less worldly than he actually is. From the get-go, I have him hiding a Whopper Jr. and a Mello Yello from his customer. I like that he's fundamentally a benevolent person, but with a sly sense of humor that he hides behind his created persona. Perhaps the key descriptor in that first chapter is "When you've been doing something as long as Mr. Lee, it becomes inevitable that you start to fuck around with the clientele, just to keep it interesting for yourself." I enjoyed taking his point of view, as someone who had been doing this a long time and had seen many situations, so little surprised him. He knows the pitfalls of his clients' requests because he's seen how wishes have backfired on people in the past who haven't thought things through. He also wants to stay under the radar, so it's to his benefit to discourage ill-advised transformations.   Each chapter has a very different tale with insightful lessons the characters learn about themselves. What message do you think the story has, beyond ‘be careful what you wish for’? We all have things we would change about ourselves if we could, so there's a definite wish-fulfillment aspect to these stories. I would hope the stories also convey that sometimes what we think is a flaw could actually be a strength, or that often what we want to change about ourselves isn't actually what's causing our problems. In the end, hopefully the characters end up with a better understanding of their true selves. Nobody goes through an encounter with Mr. Lee without being changed, although probably not in the way they anticipated.   Do you plan to write more stories for the people Mr. Lee helps? He's such a fun character to write that I would definitely go back to using him if the proper story presented itself. It helps to have an established character who we know can do fantastical things, rather than having to come up with a brand new story device every time you want to bring about a magical transformation.   I did write one additional chapter, titled "Where'd He Go?", which I consciously did not post as part of this series. I like it, but it's a bit darker and more cynical than the other four chapters, which I feel have a more consistent tone that allows them to hang together as a coherent group. That standalone chapter can be read here, along with some other transformation tales I've written over the years: https://www.gayspiralstories.com/newStory/show/2320   What other projects are you working on that you might like to share with us? I'm attempting to motivate myself to write a screenplay, so I haven't been too productive lately on the fiction front. I do have one story pretty well mapped out that could find its way to GA someday if I somehow find the time to write it. All of my stories seem to have an element of the fantastical, although it doesn't reveal itself immediately in this one.  

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Improve & Encourage #11: TJ

I hope you all enjoyed the last Improve & Encourage feature, because it's time for another one. These features are meant to both provide feedback to authors and, similar to story reviews, point out stories that readers might not otherwise have found. It's similar to a review, in that the person doing the critique tells you what they liked about the story, but it differs in that they also provide constructive criticism. Each author signed up to participate, and sign up's are still open!  These will post once a month until the last author signed up is critiqued. If you'd like to provide a critique for the blog, sign up in the thread. I'm hoping to have a lot more authors sign up, and just remember, by signing up, you are also volunteering to have your story critiqued and featured.   TJ JayT   Critique By: jkwsquirrel     Please give us a short summary of the story you chose. After his parents are killed, TJ must move in with his brother and nephew in Texas.  But his brother has a secret which sends TJ’s world into a chaotic whirlwind.  As TJ adjusts to his new life, he finds the love he needed, and begins to feel wanted. What do you see as the strengths of the story/poem? The plot of the story is strong and you can tell Jay did a lot of planning right from the beginning.  I think the characters really began to find their voices and hit their groove around chapter four and then continuing through the book.  Everything is well thought out and the story gets stronger as it goes along.  The reader can relate to TJ’s plight easily as the story develops. What do you see as the weakness of the story/poem? I thought the pacing of the first chapter or two was a bit rushed.  The reader barely has time to figure out who is who and what is going on.  The first chapter could have easily been three or four chapters.  When TJ’s parents die, it doesn’t have as much impact as it could because the reader barely knows them enough to care about their deaths.  The story doesn’t have time to breathe in those early chapters as everything happens so suddenly that it’s hard to keep up. It takes a few chapters for the characters to really find themselves.  TJ’s nephew, Josh, takes a while to mature.  He is a junior in high school but he sounds much younger in the early chapters. How do you think the story/poem could be improved? Again, the pacing of the earlier chapters is where I think the story could be improved the most.  We never have time to feel much of anything for the characters because everything happens too fast.  Jay sometimes has to backtrack in later chapters to fill in details that could have been fleshed out earlier.  For instance, the reader finds out that Robert is the assistant principal at TJ’s new high school out of nowhere with no build up.  Jay has a good story to tell but rushes to get through the introductory things.  Slow down and let the story develop, then when the events of the plot happen the readers will feel a deeper connection to the characters and the story. What was your favorite part? For me, my favorite part was seeing the growth that Jay displayed as a writer as the story advanced.  Much of the weakness in the pacing in the earlier chapters settles down in the later chapters, and Jay allows the story to tell itself without rushing through.  TJ is a strong protagonist, and it’s fun to get into his head.  The characters really begin to find themselves once the pace slows down and they are given room to grow.  I really liked the characters and grew to like them even more as they interacted.  The dialogue is witty and enjoyable.  Overall, an enjoyable reading experience!
 

Featured Story: Boy Story - The Road Taken

Before we get started this beautiful Monday morning (at least here), I wanted to give a quick Thank You to @wildone for handling the wrap up for me. It was greatly appreciated!  Now, let's take a look at what the review team has for us this week. Today we're featuring Boy Story: The Road Taken by Rip Skor. Thank you to Puppilull for this review!     Boy Story: The Road Taken Rip Skor   Reviewer: Puppilull Status: Complete Word Count: 172,006   As I sat down to write this review, I thought about how to describe the story and not put people off from reading it. You see, Boy Story isn’t a tale of extravagant action, heartbreaking drama or romance so fluffy you need wool cutters to get through it. No, this is a story about the lives of two boys and to be honest, they lead pretty ordinary lives. They work, go to school, do sports, hang out… So why read it? I would say just for that reason. I have rarely read a story that manages to be so close to a documentary and still have me longing for the next chapter.   So, who are the boys? Our main characters are Matt, who defines himself as straight, and Parker, who isn't shy about where his appetites lie. The attraction when their paths cross is so strong Matt can’t help but give gay sex a try. After that, he doesn’t really go back, and we get to follow the boys through those formative years at the end of high school and then through college.   The lack of drama is never a drawback, but instead, for me, it's the main selling point of this story. The writer’s 'slice of life' approach works so well, and I enjoyed reading about quite normal people with quite normal issues and struggles.   Also, as a woman who for some unknown reason likes to write about men having sex (hint: HOTNESS!), this story has taught me a thing or two about the male anatomy, by being just as honest when it comes to describing sex—and the effects thereof—in a very open manner. The way guys react to relationships and life in general also gave me food for thought, even if I did disagree at times with our protagonists. My rants in the chapter comments are only testament to how close I felt to these guys and how real they were to me. To see their love story unfold before me was such a treat.   Category: Non-Fiction   Genres: Drama, Romance, Creative Non-Fic, Screenplay  Tags: young adult, mature adult, senior, bisexual, gay, autobiography    Rating: Mature
 

April Classic Author Excerpt: No Strings by Sara Alva

Did you catch Monday's blog featuring Sara Alva's coming of age short story, No Strings? If you're a fan of her story, don't forget to download the signature graphic to share it through the month. If you haven't read the story yet, maybe this excerpt will help change your mind!    I chose this except because it tells you a lot about the story. Yes, it gives away a bit of the "BIG EVENT" but the true insights you get are into the characters. Sara has a knack for bringing them to life in amazing ways, with so little information shared about the actual characters. Instead, we learn about them as they're facing whatever trials and tribulations stand in their way... even a best friend who is making you her reluctant wingman in a bid to get her laid.    To read more, click here. 

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April Classic Author Feature: No Strings by Sara Alva

Oh, those tumultuous days of teenage angst, as the high school years are winding down and graduation looms--real life is coming. How do they bridge the gap between child and adult? Well... Yeah, so it's not necessarily a complicated question. But then again, for some, it's not that easy either. Check out this great short story by Sara Alva, that just so happens to be our featured Classic Author story this month.  No Strings by Sara Alva   Length: 11,010   Description: Josh's friend has made an important life decision. Given the opportunity, will he make the same one?   Some Readers Said: Really cute tale with some interesting switches, role reversals and a clever take on strings attached. Thoroughly enjoyed it. ~ Bill W   The story is powerful and impactful without the length, something I hadn't expect Sara to be able to grasp immediately since her last story was technically a multi-part story. ~ JT   Oh. My. God. I am literally the slowest person on earth. I FINALLY GET WHY BRENNAN TIED THEIR SHOELACES TOGETHER LOL, I think I read it too fast the first time around. OH GOD SO ADORABLE *dies* ~ Luc Rosen   If you want to spread the word about Sara Alva's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!

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