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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 . 

Cia

Cia

 

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!

Cia

Cia

 

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

Cia

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!!   

Cia

Cia

 

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!

Cia

Cia

 

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.  

Cia

Cia

 

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. 

Cia

Cia

 

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!

Cia

Cia

 

Featured Story: Travelling Home

Monday, Monday, Monday. What could we possibly have for you on a Monday? Oh yeah! We have a new featured story for you. This week, courtesy of Timothy M., we are taking a look at Travelling Home by podga. Hopefully you'll like what you read and it will prompt you to go and read the story itself!   Travelling Home
podga Reviewer: Timothy M.
Status: Complete
Word Count: 24,715   With this review I pay homage to the author who brought me to GA five years ago, and to a story which warms my heart every time I read it. I’m sad to say podga disappeared before more of his stories, including the companion story to Travelling Home, got posted on GA. All of his tales center around the theme of adult guys trying to find love through the obstacles of shyness, family, not being out, a broken heart and other hang-ups from the past, or simply work schedules and conditions which make it difficult to build relationships and be open about them.   The latter is the case with Jordan who falls in love with a man he meets at a conference in Stockholm. They travel all over the world, but mainly Europe, and their relationship progresses through five meetings in different cities. The one in London is my absolute favorite because of the hilarious descriptions of their growing attraction and teasing interactions in and out of bed. The ‘drilling into the mattress’ quip has me every single time.   Jordan is half Greek, half American, and spent his childhood in Athens and his college years in the USA. He feels rootless and wary about committing himself, and a few remembrances during the story explain why. In both good and bad ways I guess you could say his past comes back to haunt him. I like Jordan who is real, normal, intelligent, self-aware, and easy to relate to, especially when he’s trying to hide how much he cares about David and the potential for love and a permanent home.   As one reader @sorgbarn said back in 2012: I still think this story has a more realistic feeling to it than most romance or relationship fiction I've read online.   Give this journey a try, and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.   Category: Fiction   Genres: Romance  Tags: mature adult, gay, europe, 20th century  Rating: Mature
 

April CSR Feature: X-Dream Makeover by Cris Kane

Happy April! This year is moving right along, isn't it? Well let's take a moment to read a story that might seem too good to be true... but yes, it just might make the characters' dreams come true! Part of a series, let's start at the beginning with X-Dream Makeover by Cris Kane!    X-Dream Makeover by Cris Kane   Length: 40,362 Description: A mysterious shop in San Francisco's Chinatown draws customers who wish to transform their lives.   A Reader Said: If you want to make changes in yourself, Mr. Lee is glad to help. These four stories have Mr. Lee and his unusual shop in common. Each story can stand alone, but I think reading them in order gives the reader a clearer picture of what is happening. These were easy to read and very enjoyable! Yet in spite of being lots of fun to read, the message I got was "be careful what you wish for." ~JeffreyL   Remember to read the story and come back on the last Monday of the month, April 30th, to share your thoughts! 

Cia

Cia

 

Improve & Encourage #10: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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.   Between a Rock and a Hard Place Dodger   Critique By: Sam Wyer   Please give us a short summary of the story you chose. Charlie and Roger are two teenage guys who have been friends since fourth grade.   Their friendship turns a corner and teeters unpredictably for the few awkward moments it takes for both of them to realise what is really happening. What do you see as the strengths of the story/poem? The most obvious strengths are the key players in it, as both Charlie and Roger are well characterised.  Given it’s a relatively short story, the introductions don’t feel rushed, and you get a very good sense of who the two of them are, and how close their friendship is.  Whilst written completely from Rogers point of view, Charlie is still very easy to relate to.  Yes, so maybe it is a ‘classic’ storyline, but it’s done really nicely here, and it develops well in a short format.  It’s definitely towards the realistic end of story telling, and the dialogue works well throughout. What do you see as the weakness of the story/poem? As for weak points, it’s honestly hard to point to much here.  There’s very little wider context to Charlie and Roger, so you don’t get much of a sense of how they relate to other people, other friends, or their families.  There are nods towards this, but that’s all. How do you think the story/poem could be improved? So could it be improved?  The lazy answer is definitely yes, by writing more!  These two guys are very likeable, engaging, and well written, and I know I’m not the only one who thought that it would be good to hear more about them.  Other than that, a bit more context for the wider worlds of Charlie and Roger would be nice, as I mentioned above.  I’d also like to know how they manage the next, but unseen moments / days / months / years.  I don’t mean the sex, I think we all pretty much know how that works, but emotionally they are very different people, and for me, there’s a lot of questions about how the interplay that has worked so well as friends transforms with their relationship. What was your favorite part? My favourite moment in the story takes up the whole of the second half of the final chapter, and is brilliantly managed.  To give you a flavour of it:    
 

March CSR Discussion Day: Nocturnal Emissions by JulieLHayes

Do you read fanfiction? There are a lot of readers who enjoy it, and a lot of writers who write it, including Myr. It's a small, but growing group on GA. So this month I thought I'd feature a Harry Potter fanfiction featuring Sirius Black and Remus Lupin--Nocturnal Emissions by Julie L Hayes. Did you have a chance to read it? Make sure you share your thoughts below, but first enjoy this  interview with Julie!   Do you eat your fruits and vegetables? Definitely! More vegetables than fruits, although I do love avocadoes and coffee (Did you know coffee is a fruit? It is!) Have you ever gone out in public, realized your clothing was inside out/backwards, and just didn’t care? I have to confess I have, especially if it’s almost the end of the work day. If it’s still early in the day, I’ll fix it, though. But after a few hours, if no one else noticed, I’m not gonna sweat it. What’s one thing most people on GA don’t know about you? I suspect most people on GA don’t know that I’m back in college, working on my associate’s degree, and will be going for my bachelor’s after that, with a major in history. What’s the best part of being an author? No question about it, it’s the writing. Telling the story, getting to know your characters, and putting everything down on paper (even if it is digital now lol) What’s one location you’d love to go to research for a story? So many to choose from! I think that first it would be Tuscany, because I’m dying to go there. What drew you to writing fanfiction in general? I have to confess my two daughters got me started. I didn’t even know it existed before they introduced it to me. And they were writing it and having such fun, that I decided I wanted to write it too. What made you decide to write Harry Potter fanfiction specifically? I read the books at the same time my kids kid, and was still very much into that world my daughters introduced me to fanfiction. Al first, I confess that I wasn’t familiar with yaoi or m/m themes, but once I became interested, it became a foregone conclusion that I would write it. Although my first pairing wasn’t what you might think it was. In fact, I wanted to do something different, so I chose Sirius/Severus. But once I started shipping Remus and Sirius, I could never go back. What’s your favorite line or scene in the story? My favorite scene is when Remus comes to Sirius’ rescue in Chapter Six, his Prince Charming.   Don't forget to share your thoughts below! 

Cia

Cia

 

March Classic Author Excerpt: Paying the Piper by Libby Drew

Did you catch Monday's blog featuring Libby Drew's murder mystery, Paying the Piper? 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 excerpt because it's the start of the story. It's very dramatic, for one, shocking and graphic, but you also get a very quick glimpse into the main characters, both their basic personality and a lot of individual information about each of them, but the way they interact as well. All within a few paragraphs! Libby's always excellent at that, and I couldn't pass up highlighting one of her great hooks with this excerpt. ~ Cia   To read more, click here. 

Cia

Cia

 

March Classic Author Feature: Paying the Piper by Libby Drew

This month's great mystery isn't how to find the Leprechaun's gold at the end of the rainbow... but just whodunnit in Libby Drew's murder mystery story, Paying the Piper. Set in small town, USA, this story is really driven by the characters--and with a small town, everyone knows everyone and ALL their business--so the drama is high!     Length: 81,568 words Description: One small town, two murders, and countless suspects. Irreverent police chief, Quent, and his reluctant side-kick, Cale McCoy, must discover the truth behind the crimes before anyone else loses their life. Circumstances become even more complicated when new kid in town, Drew Marcus, turns out to be the biggest mystery of all.   A Reader said: Excellent read Libby, I too will read more from your obviously talented pen. ~ Stephen ODonohue   If you want to spread the word about Libby Drew'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

 

Featured Story: Predator Prey

Well, we're at the start of another week and this week we are going to look at a story written by Parker Owens called "Predator Prey". If you like what spikey has to say in the review, why not go check out the story and leave the author a review! Also, if you've read a story you've enjoyed lately, and would like to see it featured in the GA News Blog, simply shoot me a PM and send me a review. I'm always looking for reviews.   Predator Prey Parker Owens   Reviewer: spikey582 Status: Complete Word Count: 75,843   Being part of the Review Team here on GA, I often find myself on the look-out for what will be the next story I review. So, I pretty much had my eye on this fantastic story since about mid-2017 when Parker Owens posted the final chapter.   
In Predator Prey, Parker Owens introduces us to a character, who’s extremely hard to care about at the beginning of this tale. This person is a predator, preying on vulnerable people, using and abusing them in the worst ways possible, and then tossing them aside on the hunt for his next victim. Something happens to the predator early on in this story, the tables are turned on him, and he becomes the victim of another predator possibly even worse than he is. He has to leave, to get away for his own safety. But, the question becomes, who will he turn to? He has no friends, no potential allies, just fellow predators and past victims. So, who does such a person turn to for help. And, possibly more importantly, does he even deserve help in the first place?   
I personally think this story is some of the best writing that Parker Owens has posted to the site. The main character is every bit as reprehensible as I described, and yet through Parker’s talented prose, I found myself finding sympathy with this predator. I became enthralled with his story, eventually finding myself caring about him, and rooting for him to overcome his struggles, even those of his own making.
I don’t want to say too much more for fear of potentially spoiling something. I will say, this story definitely does start out in a dark place. However, it doesn’t stay there. It is the epitome of a roller coaster ride, filled with drama, romance, and thrills to satisfy all.   Category: Fiction   Genres: Drama, Romance  Tags: young adult, gay, university, rape, modern, abuse    Rating: Mature
 

March CSR Feature: Nocturnal Emissions by JulieLHayes

Happy March! This month I'm bringing you something a little different. March makes me think of St. Patrick's Day and magic... so I looked for stories that would fit the bill. What better than the magical world of Harry Potter? Plus, I've never featured a fanfic. So why not give JulieLHayes' novella-length story a try?    Nocturnal Emissions by JulieLHayes   Length: 12,449   Description: Sirius Black has a secret that haunts him in the silence of the night - his love for Remus Lupin. It's Christmas hols and the Marauders are together, as usual. But something unexpected occurs, something that threatens to bare Sirius' very soul... what is he to do?   A Reader said: I love this! I enjoy the Mauraders and I love Sirius black. I believe I have read some of your other work else where but I was not sure. Anyways, I really like this story and I can't wait for more. ~ Carrie76   Remember to come back on Monday, March 26th for the Discussion day to share your thoughts on the story and to catch my interview with Julie L. Hayes! 

Cia

Cia

 

Improve & Encourage #9: Jager

The Improve & Encourage feature is back!!! 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 all listed authors have been 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.   Jager Cole Matthews   Critique By: Dodger   Please give us a short summary of the story you chose. Jager, is a moving and powerful story about an elderly gay couple whose lives—after more than forty years together—are disrupted when one of them is affected by dementia. Despite the serious underlying theme, this is basically a love story with an interesting twist that should have you fooled. It was originally written as an entry for the 2016 GA Secret Admirer, Short Story Competition and unsurprisingly it finished in first place.   Jager, incidentally, is the name of the couples wooden rocking horse, which swings during the course of the story from hero to villain and back to hero again. The story is told through the eyes of Glen as he and his partner Adam prepare to host their annual St. Valentine’s Day party. What do you see as the strengths of the story/poem? I enjoy reading stories that are a little out of the ordinary or from an unusual perspective. Something that perhaps doesn’t follow the normal well-trodden paths and this story is a good example.   It is a truly beautiful tale, well-written and almost guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings. Part of its strength is its simplicity although this is not apparent until the end. To get there you will need to put your trust in the author, but you won’t be disappointed as everything begins to unravel. The story has a very slow, retired feel to it, as the narrator delves into the past in an attempt to explain the present. I don’t think that there are many authors who would have been brave enough to want to include dementia in a Valentines Day story, but Cole Matthews expertly strikes a good balance and the reader is constantly reminded of the couples love for each other which overrides everything else. What do you see as the weakness of the story/poem? I enjoyed this story so much that I felt a little robbed in the end because it didn’t go on long enough. Cole handles the subject exceptionally well but 3322 words don’t do it justice and it wasn’t enough detail in it for me. I feel that there was enough room to get to know the characters and their history a little better, without giving anything away.   It seems almost criminal trying to find fault in such a wonderful story but it says a lot, I suppose, if my only worthwhile complaint is that the story is too short. How do you think the story/poem could be improved? A little more character development would have been good for me. I would like to have known more about their past and their early lives together even if the recollections weren’t entirely lucid. I know that it wouldn’t have been easy for them in the early days and perhaps more could have been made of this. I obviously know why the author felt the need to limit what information was fed to the reader, but it seemed a little rushed at the end.   Maybe I’m asking a little too much but Cole has set a consistently high standard and this is one of his best. What was your favorite part? My favourite part of the story is the final paragraph, including the last four words at the end, just before you reach for the tissues. However, it’s impossible to quote this without spoiling the story for anyone who hasn’t read it.

Renee Stevens

Renee Stevens

 

February CSR Discussion: All We Have Now by David AB

How's February treated everyone? I know it's the shortest month of the year, but it feels like it can't possibly have already passed this quickly! But, it has, and today is the discussion day for David AB's All We Have Now. Did you get a chance to read or re-read this story posted back in 2015? Make sure you gave the author a few likes, comments, or even share your thoughts and questions below. David's going to pop in as he can today, so let's encourage him to share more stories by sharing how much you enjoyed this month's read! First we have my interview with him, of course!    Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?   Not in the morning, because when I wake up I'm more corpse than man and it usually takes me a few hours before I manage to lure my soul back into my body with an unreasonable amount of caffeine and nicotine. I do make my bed at some point though, but only so I can just collapse onto it and pass out comfortably at night.     If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do? Maybe lie down on my couch and read the news or google random stuff. (That's just the least inappropriate answer I could think of though, so who knows what I might do, haha.)     What brought you to the GA? Serendipity.     Many authors like to write in genres they enjoy reading. Do you have a favorite post-apocalyptic story or book you’d like to recommend?   Well, Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" is by far the best post-apocalyptic novel (aside from "All We Have Now" of course, haha) and one of the best books in general I've ever read, but I don't think I would recommend it to anyone, because it's emotionally devastating and I kind of wish I had never read it myself to be honest.   (I know it's a bit tacky to promote my own stuff, but if you've enjoyed reading "All We Have Now", I did write another apocalypse-themed (short) story called "To Last". I can definitely recommend that one, haha.)     If the apocalypse hit and you survived, where would you go to live? I love my apartment, so I'd probably stay right where I am. (I would've answered "IN A SPACESHIP!!! O.O" However, I'm assuming there would be no more Google after an apocalypse, so to find a spaceship I'd have to drive around aimlessly and hope that I'd happen to come across a spaceship-parking lot or whatever. That just doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me, especially not if I could be lying on my couch instead, doing who knows what, haha.)      Did the characters or the plot come to you first for All We Have Now? This is probably not something I should openly admit as an "aspiring" writer, but I don't really care about plots all that much in general, I'm mainly interested in characters and their interactions and development. To answer the question though, the setting "came to me" first. At the time I loved "The Walking Dead", so I decided that I wanted to basically write a more intimate, gay version of that show. After the setting I "developed" the characters, came up with a whole bunch of "moments"/scenes to get a proper feel for them and finally I used those "moments" to roughly map out the basic plot of the story.     How did you flesh out your world? Did you plot out the events and the settings as an overall “this is the world now” or did you include the post-apocalyptic elements as they came to you while you wrote?   Before I started writing "All We Have Now" I already knew what I wanted the world and all the different locations to look and "feel" like and how realistic or rather "unrealistic" I wanted the story to be, but I only outlined the plot very roughly and let the characters heavily inform most of my decisions on what should happen between all the abovementioned "moments", so consequently I did keep adding new elements throughout the story. I also kept researching every little detail, which made me change and add a bunch of stuff as well.   One example is the [spoiler-alert] farm-chapter(s) – originally I wanted Cody and Troy to stay in the house, but the problem was that dead bodies had been decomposing in there for quite a while and I had planned for them to do a poop-ton of cleaning and bleaching etc., but when I arrived at that chapter I did a lot of research on crime scene cleaning and things of that nature and I soon had to realize that there was absolutely no way that they could realistically get rid of that corpse-stench, at least not in a day and without proper equipment. So I scrapped that idea and let them find the RV instead, which I had originally decided against, because I thought it would feel too similar to "The Walking Dead". However, in my opinion "Book 2" (which is set almost exclusively in the RV) turned out far better than both "Book 1" and "Book 3", so in hindsight I'm quite happy that corpses reek much worse than I ever could've imagined, haha.     Do you have a favorite scene or moment in All We Have Now you can share with readers? I know the whole thing drags on for way too long and probably isn't nearly as funny as I'd like to believe it is, but the chapter in which [spoiler-alert] they get stoned out of their minds was such a blast to write and there's one line in particular that I immediately had to think of: At one point Troy is wondering whether they could make [potato] chips themselves and then he lists all the stuff they have, but he's high, so he lists both "oil" and "canned potatoes" twice without realizing it. (Here's the line: "Hey, wait a minute, we have canned potatoes, oil, spices, oil, a pen, canned potatoes and a camping stove, we could make chips ourselves," he said.) The thing is, when I wrote that line I didn't do that on purpose, I simply listed "canned potatoes" twice by accident, probably because I was tired at the time. When I realized what I had done I laughed so hard, because it was exactly the kind of mistake you'd expect a stoned person to make, so it fit perfectly and became one of my favorite jokes in the whole story, even though it was just a lucky accident.

Cia

Cia

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