Who's ready for this month's popular feature, Ask An Author. This month is all about Dayne Mora. A quick reminder: Dark can only continue this feature providing they have the content. Dark is running out of questions, and that's where you come in. Don't forget to send questions for your favorite author so that we can keep this feature going!!!!
Welcome back to another quirky question and answer session with your favorite authors!
In AtA #43, we had questions for authors Mann Ramblings, Mikiesboy, Riley Jericho, and Wolfm.
Before we begin, let me take a moment to say that for the first time in a really long while, I’m running low on questions to ask our dear authors. Got one? Send it my way!
Now, it’s that time of year again! Some time ago I decided that to keep this blog series interesting, I’d do a special edition every once in a while. This is a blog number divisible by 11! In the past, other special editions have had extra authors and different question styles … This time, I decided to feature only one author: Dayne Mora.
Dayne is an interesting person in a lot of ways, but was chosen this time around because she just lacks that certain something, that gene that allows us to know when to, well, to shut up. Dayne, you know I adore you, but we have this … thing, between us that we (and by “we” I mean “you”) can’t seem to stop. The rambling, rambling, rambling.
Dayne says: “Yeah.......I can get a bit chatty. Teacher thing, I guess. But, captive audience AND I get to talk no stop? Bring it on!”
Sure, you’re popular. You’re “unstoppable” in fact, even though you only have something like 200 people hanging on your every word and 30,000 people stopping in to read every time you post something, as if they like your writing or something. But can we, like, just … stop? So much writing! There aren’t enough hours in the day to edit it all. And it was question, question, question, everyone wanting to ask the amazing Dayne Mora a question!
What’s a person to do? Besides roasting her a little, I decided to publish all my Dayne questions all in one go.
For the few of you who don’t know who this “Dayne” person is, you might have seen her in chat, since she’s a moderator, there to smack you if you get out of line. Though only a member for not-quite a year, Dayne’s been writing for awhile. She’s also a Texan. Anyway, Dayne birthday is coming up next month, as is her anniversary here at GA. Dayne is in fact a high school teacher, English, or should I say was? For reasons that we won’t go into here, Dayne is stepping away from education for the next little while. Perhaps she’ll put that pseudonym to good use…
Dayne says: "Dayne Mora" is based on the pseudonym that I was going to publish a tell-all memoir under. Couldn't remember if it was "Dana Moore" or "Mora Dane." Fun Fact--my real name is even more strange and pretentious, and takes up two lines on my social security card besides.
Don’t forget the very understanding hubby, Dayne’s fur-babies, and her deep love for Publix (Dayne’s originally from Florida, which … Florida? to Texas? ). But Dayne’s also something of a comedian and a poet. Seriously, I about busted a gut reading the blog entry “Dayne vs fitbit or a conversation with my glorified pedometer.” In one word: shake-weight. Okay, that’s technically two words, but, hey, I only learned about the “shake-weight” thing in early October and it’s still funny to me. (I know, living under a rock, so sue me).
And then of course there’s Wolf like Me. Readers know all about this story. It used to be called “Efrain and Cory.” It’s a little bit teen fiction, little bit drama, little bit tongue-in-cheek, and lots of really smooth, delightful dialogue. The sequel, Wild Card starts shortly after “Wolf…” and throws you into the deep end right away. With only 5 chapters but 55 reviews …! Readers are really loving this one. I don’t want to say too much, but you get to see more of Cory’s family and what with how the beginning’s going, there’s bound to be some surprises along the way.
Now, let’s get down into the dirt with Dayne.
To Dayne Mora: Dayne, you come up with some of the most interesting titles for your chapters, are they easy to come up with or do you have to wrack your brain before you say, "Aha!"?
Sometimes I have to wrack my brain for ages. I put in placeholder titles, until something better occurs to me. "The Aphrodisiacal Properties of Intersectionality and Juxtaposition" had originally been called "Talk Nerdy to Me", while "Gagging For It" was "For Demonstration Purposes". Cute, I suppose, but it just didn't feel right. In case you can't tell, "Warming Up" was a placeholder that I kinda just left (as is "In Soviet Russia, Iceman Thaws You").
Titles like "Dame Esa Leche", "Indie Comes to Jesus" (these appear as subtitles on GA since I released the initial 14 chapters as 7, which funnily enough, let me work in more titles), and "To Die in Thy Lap" were total "Aha!" moments. Sometimes, the "Aha!" happened well after the fact. "BAM! GAY DRAMA!" popped into my head the day after I released "Indie Comes to Jesus" on Nifty. Many times, I'm trying to reference something specific within the chapter. "This Little Kitten Went to Market" of course refers to the gay bar they went, but also to the emcee there (I don't think anyone got that I named her "Miss Piggy"). "Cory Has a Posse" is a nod to Fueled by Ramen, the music label born in Gainesville, FL. I used to find their "Mr. Miyagi has a posse" stickers all over when I was at UF.
Other times, I've known what I wanted to title the chapter forever. I had titles worked out for the first three chapters of Wild Card since chapter 18 of Wolf Like Me.
Then there are the titles I had to come up with to pass muster on GA. "Eat a Dick, Texas" and "Dame Esa Leche" weren't the friendliest titles, so those became "Cory Arrives" and "Leche". My boys like to curse, so f-bombs litter a titles here and there. You'd think a mod would a little more angelic.
Now, story titles are another deal all together, just ask my Literotica readers about the whimsical fuckery that was Wolfie Kitten Iceman Maddog. /whimper
To Dayne Mora: Dayne How do you manage to keep your motivation to write a story with a lot of chapters?
So, I think I've told readers this story before--Cory, Efrain, and Indie were originally characters I'd created for disparately different stories that I'd had swimming around in head. Cory and Indie (Leaf and Stone) come from a high fantasy series (or at least were products of my weird habit of choreographing elaborate anime-style transformation sequences while listening to EDM). Efrain (Angel) came from a YA story. Somewhere in all my yaoi and gay erotica reading, I got this scene in my head--two football players driving home after practice, and things get hot when one tells the other "I want to make you cry." Somehow, Leaf and Angel (although a few years older) fell into those roles, and the fantasy spiraled out of control. I became obsessed with them. And then, they set their sights on Stone (originally, both Efrain and Cory were sleeping with Indie). In order to get them out of my head, I started writing out the fantasies--the sex scenes in "Warming Up", "When Indie's Away", and "Mea Culpa" (I haven't published the last two on GA as they're non-canon and I wasn't sure if readers here wanted to see them).
However, once I started writing out the sex scenes, other scenes emerged. Then, Cory decided he wanted a kitten, and things progressed from there. There's so much story between the three of them, and when other characters appeared, the story expanded. As they evolve, their world expands, and it's all I can do to put the words down.
I still find it strange how THIS is the first story that I've managed to put into writing. THIS is the only story I've been able to write.
But, the real answer is quite depressing. I thought I'd had rough spots as a teacher, but 2015-2016 burned me out. The school district I worked for pretty much fell apart during the 14-15 school year, and shit really hit the fan in 15-16. A lot of crap went down that eventually led to three administrators doing the work of six. I got saddled with preps I couldn't teach, and kids I couldn't handle, and as one of the top teachers in the district, they just assumed I'd be fine, even when I repeatedly insisted that I wasn't (I don't think it helped that I complained about being unqualified to teach AP, yet had a bunch of kids pass ). I already suffer from a host of mood and pain disorders, but those went into hyper-drive. I lost the drive to do much of anything. Hobbies like video games and knitting were abandoned, and I neglected housework. Hell, I even stopped dressing up for work, and I LOVE dressing up. I went from working 60-70 hour weeks, to just my contracted 37.5. I phoned it in last school year (which is really weird because I still out-performed the rest of the district--even my lazy IDGAF version kicks ass!). I'd finally allowed myself to recognize how much I kick ass as teacher, but it just..............went away..............all of it.
The one thing, however, that got me through was writing Wolf Like Me. I'd come home, put on my pajamas, then sit with my laptop and write. I stopped bringing work home, and even wrote at work. And then, I started publishing it, and people reacted! Things took off here at GA, as I got to interact with readers and fellow writers. Through these interactions, I was finally getting the recognition for my efforts and feelings of accomplishment that I wasn't getting from my job. Getting readers hot, making them laugh and feel the all the feels, didn't make it easier to face that one class that always made me cry during my planning periods, or help me force myself out of bed and into my car, but it gave me something to look forward to when I got home.
I'm taking at least a few years off from the classroom, possibly working up into higher ed, but I can't let go of the thrill of reader feedback
To Dayne Mora: I have seen [Wolf like Me] posted on various other sites (Nifty and Literotica), and I'm curious how your fan response varies from site to site. Are the readers that different? Are they looking for different things? What are the pluses and minuses of the various sites?
There are some variations between readers and reader responses between the sites I post to, most of which can be tied to the sites themselves. Nifty and Literotica are first and foremost erotic writing sites, so responses tend to focus on the erotic elements of ExC, while the romantic and comedic elements are a second thought. Nifty readers expect more sex acts in a given entry, but are okay with more "unpolished" writing (my initial drafts were hella rough). I could cut out all the back story and just post the sex and they'd be fine with it (but, what's the fun in that!). I get (sometimes explicit) requests for certain acts (some I have or will use) and effusive praise for my epic grammar skills. Strange how bad grammar could be such a boner-kill.
Literotica, as the only non-LGBT centered site I post to, accounts for a greater part of my straight/bi female readership. LitE readers appreciate the romance and comedy more, but the more highly rated chapters still tend to be those with the most erotic content. Since readers are able to comment publicly, commentary is a little less explicit. I was posting ExC under a rather regrettable and silly yaoi-inspired title that turned off readers, but I'm hopeful that the recent change will attract more readers (even if the title doesn't stand out as much anymore).
GA, as a site dedicated to LGBT writers that just happens to also host erotic stories, attracts readers who are there for the narrative and consider erotic content a bonus. It still amuses me that most GAresponses are about plot and character elements with an "oh yeah, and the sex was hot" thrown in (if it's mentioned at all!). And only GA readers have noticed that I try to keep character development consistent during erotic scenes, that there's a difference between how Cory and Efrain experience sex versus how Preston and Indie experience sex (and that it feels different depending on whose head you're in). Also, GA readers seem to handle the multiple narrative viewpoints and viewpoint shifts within the chapter. Or at least they complain about it less. I don't know if it's because I've gotten better at signalling the shifts, or if it's easier to follow narrative when you aren't trying to read and do arm cardio at the same time.
Benefits and Drawbacks
As there are significant differences between Nifty, LitE and GA, each provides it's own benefits and drawbacks. The Nifty site is low-maintenance and laidback -- no forum, no chat, no fancy images -- a kind of lawless no-man's land where anything goes. It's hard to sift through stories to find gold (a running theme in reader emails) and not another golden sh....nevermind. As ExC is my first attempt at writing extended fiction (well, any fiction, really) and my first erotic work, I had absolutely no confidence when I started out. Nifty was perfect for me because there was enough terrible fiction (Mikie knows what I'm talking about) that even my poor attempts would look good. Kinda like the novice erotic writer's version of the fat friend. However, I worry that ExC gets lost among the literary detritus. Plus, there's no metric for comparing stories, so feedback is limited to those bold enough to email. It was great at first when I worried about getting umpteen million comments about how bad I suck.
Literotica is more organized, even if it is difficult to find and follow stories, and the rating system and view counts give me a good idea of my success. Stories in the Gay Male category tend to rate higher than other sections, so my ratings may be a little inflated, but I consider it a good thing that only a few of my chapters rate below 4.7. There's more commentary from readers, more feedback, but not really a way for me to comment back. And with the way the site is set up, my story gets lost within a week of posting, so I have to post often to keep myself at the top of the deck (this is also an issue on Nifty). It doesn't help either that LitE readers expect longer entries (my 4-6k word average is short by LitE standards). Although, that has challenged me to really expand moments within narrative.
The GA platform is much more interactive and easier to navigate. Readers get notifications when I post, and there are various ways to stay in touch with readers between postings. I feel closer to GAreaders and authors than I do to those on other sites, and I'm on here so much that my psychiatrist actually warned me that I wasn't socializing enough with irl people. There isn't a rating system for individual chapters (and I'm not sure how much attention readers really pay to them anyways), but counting likes and followers is a good enough metric for me. The ability to comment on reader reviews allows me to validate and show appreciation, and since many readers are also writers whose works I enjoy, the commentary challenges me to grow as a writer. Of course, I do get a little "OMG! SEMPAI NOTICED ME!" when another author reviews my story (Here's a simple check: are you a GAauthor? are you interacting with me? If you answered "yes" to both questions, I am having a "sempai" moment). Sometimes I get nervous that I won't measure up to the other authors in the GAfamily, but that just pushes me to raise the bar. Thank the light for Thorn Wilde, or else I'd be a nervous wreck about posting!
To Dayne Mora: One of the things I appreciate about Efrain and Corey [Wolf like Me] is that it is a fairly realistic story with three dimensional characters and true-to-life dialogue. I'm curious if parts of it are autobiographical, if characters are based on real people, and if so, where does reality begin and fiction end?
My characters aren't so much based on real people as informed by them. I "collect" things from people around me from the typical writer/artist/creator stuff like ear hustlin', observation, reading, and way too much time daydreaming. The initial sparks of characters float around in my head with all those little scraps -- names, mannerisms, speech patterns, quirks, physical attributes, styles, desires, etc -- and pull in the things that make sense to them. Pieces of me also fall into the mix, but not to the point of being too autobiographical. There are traces of me in all four of the major characters (Preston's nicknames, Indie's defense mechanisms, Cory's shoe collecting, Efrain's competitive streak), and even the minor characters (JJ Teague's mismatched socks, Romero's gossiping). Yet, there's not enough of me in them that they are me. And not even I could tell you who is the most "me" and who is the least (my husband, as the person who knows me best, has some theories). There is one exception: Jameson. He's more a composite than an accretion, but at his core is a college boyfriend who pretty much destroyed what little sense of self-worth I actually had. Jameson's spark latched onto my memories of that bottom-feeder like a douchebag kindred spirit. I try to not let characters become too close to their real life inspirations, and I seriously doubt a certain cretinous scumbag engineer would recognize himself (Jameson is more attractive ), but he's close enough that I've been able to work out some lingering demons.
That’s it for now! You can regularly find Dayne in chat, but her forums are usually hopping, too, and she’s open to receiving more emails and reviews.
I’ll see you next time, with Ask the Author #45 and authors albertnothlit, Nephylim, Riley Jericho, and SkinnyDragon.
I’m always in the market for new questions! Simply PM me (Dark).
Until next time!