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Hello February! By the time you read this, stores will be full of red and pink decorations. Chocolates and love cards will be prominently displayed everywhere. Florists will be busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger in a windstorm would. And GA readers will be searching for love stories to read. Our focus this month is on the authors of three such tales. • • • • • @Rip Skor I was not aware of Rip Skor’s Boy Story until one of its fans sent in a question for the author. The story’s description and Rip’s reply to the question have led me to adding it to my reading list. Moral of the story? If you are an author, how you describe the story when you post it can gain or lose you prospective readers. • I happened upon Boy Story a while ago, and it was hard to resist Matt and Parker. It was great watching their romance unfold and seeing them live their lives. You mentioned the story is semi-autobiographical, so, why was this the time to tell it and how hard was it to separate fact from fiction? And since it is the month of Romance, what is the best love advice you’ve received? • Being an English Major, I've always written well, but I hate to write because it saps a lot of my energy. So the fact that I put pen to paper seems perplexing even to me. I was sitting at home with Parker one night and we watched another horrendous gay-themed movie. They always seem to end up sad, as if it's some kind of penance for being gay. Just look at Brokeback Mountain for example. Can't a gay love story have a positive ending, yet still be entertaining? Can't a gay love story keep itself from getting mired down in gay culture, which turns off most straight people? Parker said, "You're a good writer, why don't you show them how it's done?" That started the ball rolling. Only problem is I had no idea what to write about. I find it easier to use real events even if just for a framework to build around. But once I turned the faucet on, things came flooding out, like I was watching a movie. One of my college professors said "Write about what you know." So I wrote about what I know...my life. Specifically, when things drastically changed for me, yet kept me feeling alive and happy and thankful. Parker had become like a drug that I could not live without. Being with him fed my soul and I guess that's where the term soul mate comes from. Others have experienced the same kind of all encompassing love. I didn't change much of the events. I did compress the timeline a bit to keep it moving. Otherwise we'd be on Chapter 247 by now. I kept most of the names the same where I used only first names, I changed my last name and Parker's last name to protect our privacy. So there was not a lot of fiction to separate from fact. Like Parker winning the car in a drawing that Aunt Helen entered him in really happened! My Grandmother hit the nail on the head when it comes to relationships. She simply said "Be good to each other." I found that's how you keep romance alive. • • • • • @Headstall Headstall began posting Cards on the Table three years ago, in January 2015. Since then, the story’s sixty-three chapters and over 300,000 words have attracted nearly 180,000 views, 2,700 comments, and over 300 followers. I think it is fair to say Gary’s story about two hockey-playing friends taking their relationship to a new level struck a chord with readers. This has to be one of the all-time most popular love stories on the site. • How difficult did you find it returning to Cards on the Table after a long break? Had your writing style noticeably changed since you'd last written a chapter? Did you have to alter anything to get back into your previous style? • There was a lot of emotion/angst involved with my return to Cards on the Table. The biggest thing that made it difficult was the guilt I carried for being away so long, and the pressure I put on myself because of it, at a time I really needed a good extended rest. I had no intention of taking such a long absence. This new, strange story was making a heck of a racket in my head, and I had already taken breaks in the past to write two other stories (Song and Dance and Treading Water), and both had gone quickly. But, Morningstar: The Malaise, my shifter story, turned out to be a different animal (sorry... couldn't resist). I really thought I could write the bulk of it and then return to CotT, writing both at the same time, but it was such an intricate undertaking, it became impossible to go back and forth between these two epic length stories. I found I could write anthologies during that time (four of them), but only because they were relatively quick endeavors. Consequently, I was nervous about returning to my original story. Morningstar was still living in my head, even though Book One? was complete, and after a year and a half of living it, it was hard to let go. That whole time I had been barraged with requests to get back to CotT, and I felt a very real pressure. I learned a huge lesson. As far as altering my writing style, I will say this: my writing is always evolving. It has from chapter to chapter and book to book. The first chapter of CotT is much different from the latest, and eventually I will clean the whole thing up. A better question might be whether I could fall back into Michael and Kendall's world with ease. It was the question I had, and I found the answer as soon as I started writing the 'Christmas Cards' chapter. It was a huge YES. It was like I never left these guys at all. Every character was right there waiting for me, and I can't begin to tell you how relieved I was. I had Kendall's inner voices and sense of self in my head and on my fingertips, and Michael's sense of humor and fearless approach to love were still a part of me. Even Nate and Bodie were every bit as nuanced as they've been from the beginning. So, even though my skills may have improved while being away, I don't think it has altered the essence of Cards on the Table in any way. Thankfully, judging by the comments, the readers agree. I hope my long-winded reply answers your question. Thank you for your interest. • • • • • @Renee Stevens Our final author this month is Renee Stevens. I suspect the woman does not sleep a lot. How the heck else is she able to have a life and still serve as part of GA’s staff, coordinate weekly blogs, anthologies, author promotions, and who knows what else. From personal experience, I will vouch for her support of rookies; she is always willing to share what she has learned. Of course, she is an author first and her love stories about rugged, working men enjoy huge popular support. • I read Puppy Love after it was featured in a recent blog. When compared to your other love story I've read (Studly Ranch Hands which I loved) both have a similar feel. Kind of an open country atmosphere. As some of the blog comments mentioned, the quality of the old story is not as good as your most recent work. Why? How did the changes come about? How long and how hard was it to get to where you are now as an author? • Thanks for the question! Puppy Love was only the third novel I’d ever written, and the second M/M novel. The first was Eternity and that has many of the same issues as Puppy Love does. (We won't even get into the issues that my first ever novel Life After Loss has). I looked at my files and the earliest files I could find on Puppy Love dated back to 2007. It could have even been written before then, I can’t remember, and that’s just when it was first saved in my current files. The “Why?” is simply because I didn’t know any better back then. I didn’t have the community of support back then that I had after I came to GA just over 8 years ago. Sure, I had friends who read over what I wrote and they helped improve the story line, but there are so many things that none of us knew. Once I came to GA, I developed some wonderful friendships and really started to get some assistance in improving my writing. It’s taken over ten years for me to get where I am now, and a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it and I hope to continue to learn and improve. The one thing that helps me is I make note of repeated mistakes and now I check all of my stories for these issues prior to posting.
Happy New Year! We are back and this month our blog entry focuses on poets. Figures my first themed entry would be about a subject I rarely understand and often avoid. However, I’m here to pass your questions along, not to editorialize on what I like. So let’s get to it. • • • • • This month’s first question is for asamvav111. Hailing from India, he’s an example of GA’s worldwide reach and membership. Don’t you all think GA should underwrite my travels so I can ask future questions in person? A member since 2012, this young man posted his first collection of poems in 2017 and has quickly garnered a solid fan base. • There is a certainty and deep conciousness that comes from your poems. What does poetry do for you? Is there a poet that you recommend we all read? • Poetry as an art has so many facets, it is difficult to choose one. In my poetry, I always try to capture a mental state or an emotional response & give it flesh. Poetry begins with poesy, the act of creation itself. Everyone of us are creating our own reality, commissioning our own funhouse of mirrors, every day, every moment. I just use words to give others a glimpse into the one inside me. I think, we should read every material we can get our hands on, because it helps develop our own art & our own critique. Beside all the old masters like Wordsworth, Whitman, Baudelaire, Frost etc, I would suggest to read our very own AC Benus, Parker Owens, Mikiesboy. And also join us in Live-Poets-Society where we have wonderful discussions on every possible aspect of poetry & showcase our work. • • • • • Asamvav111 recommends three GA poets so let’s hear from them. Mikiesboy’s one of those members everyone seems to like. His friendly and thoughtful disposition when dealing with others has endeared him to many. Adept at poetry and prose, I’m not sure how he finds the time to write, edit, and beta read for others, and participate in his Drop in Center forum thread. • Why does free verse appeal more than anything else? • Free verse may sound free but it isn't, there are still poetic rules that apply. There must be flow, meter is important even in free verse, and it must be written poetically. You can't just write down sentences and call it a free verse poem. Why do i choose it? Well, it suits my mood normally. I don't always want or even like rhymes. One exception is the Rubaiyat, it's a form i really enjoy writing and i like the rhyming pattern of : a-a-b-a; b-b-c-b; c-c-d-c; d-d-e-d; e-e-f-e. This is a real challenge. But free verse lets my thoughts flow more than other forms that are more restrictive. • • • • • Parker Owens asked me to beta read one of his stories earlier this year and I can’t thank him enough for it. It was a pleasure to do so and I discovered Parker was open to criticism and suggestions unlike some authors. However, his writing is not limited to prose; his poetry collections have earned him the respect of other poets as we saw in the first entry on this blog. • Do you think your math skills and musical ability contribute to your innate sense of form and meter in your poems? Your ability to look at your surroundings and use mathematical and scientific principles as allegories to love and life is quite remarkable and definitely unique. Do you look at an object or read a mathematical concept and see the poetry within? Or do you have a poem in your head and look for a concept to fit it? • I wish there were an easy description of how music and mathematics relate to what I write. Often, it has their interplay that conveys to me a sense of balance and sound to each line or couplet. If I listen to what gets scrawled in my notebook, I hope to hear something as compelling as my favorite music, or as true as any axiom. Frequently, I am taken by the sound of a scientific or mathematical word, and a poem gets built around that. Words like implicit differentiation and lanthanide series have their own rhythms and stories to tell. A few times, someone has dared me to write about a concept that was foreign to me - such challenges have proved irresistible. Often enough, it is what I see my students reviewing in their study halls that plants those words in my mind. Thank you for asking! • • • • • We visit again with AC Benus in this installment. Last month he answered a question about his Christmas at Famous-Barr series; in this entry, he addresses his poetry. Poems are more prominent on the site than when I first joined and a lot of the credit goes to AC. He’s encouraged, prodded, and mentored poets to the point they have become a vibrant subset of the community. • You write sonnets beautifully. What advice would you give someone starting out? Are you self-taught? If yes, what did you do to become such a good poet? • The answer to am I self-taught is yes. As for advice, I’d say listen to your heart and what moves you. Poetry is all around us at all times, in song lyrics, in jingles, in the lessons we learn in school, but maybe one day something will break through and make you go ‘wow.’ That happened to me the first year of high school. There was something about Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn, and particularly the concluding lines "Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all we know on earth, and all we need to know," that made me wake up and want to write myself. So I’d look for that moment and that piece of poetry, in any style or form, that makes you go “Oh…”. Learn from it and figure out what exactly the poet did to shake you up. After that, read as much as you can, and get busy writing. Thanks for a great question, and I will post a longer answer in Live-Poets Society, so please look for it. • • • • • That’s it for this month. Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season and the New Year brings you health and peace. Remember to send me your questions so we can discover more about our authors, their lives, and how they craft their stories. How about we focus on the authors of your favorite love stories next time around?
Welcome back to the new Ask An Author 2.0. Just a quick note that @Carlos Hazday has agreed to take over the Ask An Author feature, so please send your questions to him. I've already sent him the questions and answers that were sent to me. Now, I'll turn it over to Carlos. Renee has to be one of the busiest members on GA, so I’m stepping in and trying to help her a bit by taking on the Ask an Author monthly feature. I’ll remind you the questions come from you, not me or the staff. If there’s anything you’d like to ask one of our authors, send me a PM and I’ll pass the question along anonymously. Until we have a good inventory of questions and answers, we’ll be limited in the number of questions answered each installment. This month, our first two authors are part of the European contingent on the site. • • • • • JohnAR has kept his many fans somewhat happy by publishing MetaPrompts since the popular Meta Series concluded. The original books are now part of GA’s Premium Collection, so if you’re interested in reading them for the first time, or re-reading them for the umpteenth, all you have to do is join Gay Authors and become a Premium Subscriber. • I'm sad that your amazing Meta series is over. Did the ending frame your story or did it come as you were writing? How did you manage to keep all those twists in the plot together? • 1a) As Meta had always been intended to celebrate the opposite of all tropes of classical M/M romances, it couldn’t have had a HEA; so neither ‘happy,’ nor ‘ever after,’ nor ‘ending.’ Right from the start, I knew the ‘endings’ would be ambiguous and ultimately left to the reader’s interpretation. Some of those endings had always been planned like ‘Wolf 635’ that had been planted from the very first chapter. So these goal posts framed most of the story arc across the eight books. Of course, the details of the story ultimately shaped the specificity of the endings, as did some of my readers’ speculations. I decided rather late in the game to add a ‘fake’ HEA in middle of the last book ‘Fate,’ as I was repeatedly referred to as ‘evil’ author. Thanks for the compliment! 1b) For every individual Meta novel - like with the overall story arc, I had the first, central, and last chapters locked before starting to write them. Everything in-between was just stuff to fill the gaps. So I always ‘knew’ how the plot would have to ‘twist’ eventually. And in the instances I did get lost (I shall not reveal my biggest blunders), my editor (@Timothy M.) and the official MetaWiki (@PkCrichton) helped me out. Thanks, by the way. • • • • • Timothy M returns to AAA for the second month in a row. The self-anointed DROLL DANE is a voracious reader (based on the number of comments he leaves, a prolific reviewer, and as our previous author mentioned, supports the work of others as an editor. In his spare time, he’s also an author. His versatility has given us Timothy’s Terrible Prompt Stories—a lighthearted look at American teens—and The Cardmaker and the Caretaker—a romantic story involving European young adults—amongst others. • You've given us stories written in both British English and American English - can you share some of your thoughts on how you make that happen? Also, care to share any particular sources you use for finding idiomatic words and phrases? • It’s almost embarrassing to have to admit that I’m not really doing anything special. British English is what I’ve been taught, so this comes naturally to me, although reading on GA has ‘contaminated’ me. American English is harder when it comes to words and phrases, but I rely heavily on my editors (AC Benus and Kitt) to catch my mistakes. As for spelling I simply set my Word to the correct version, which works well for my stories based on pure US (Prompt story) and UK (The Cardmaker and the Caretaker). It’s harder when I mix the two which is what happens in Clueless Camping. In that one I’ve chosen American English because the main protagonist comes from the U.S.A. However, I mix in British words and phrases, because the Danish guys would use those. Examples: Russ uses Mom, apartment, elevator and vacation, but Jacob would say Mum, flat, lift and holiday. A couple of examples of British English words and phrases caught by AC Benus: “You didn’t fancy me back then” – Americans use like. Dinner instead of supper – or is it the other way around? And some terms I can never seem to learn. I keep using baseball match rather than game, training rather than practice, and lessons instead of classes. But I think the two latter are Danish terms getting mixed up. All I can do is hope my readers will forgive me any mistakes – and preferably point them out too. • • • • • Our final author is AC Benus and breaking with tradition, I’ll let you know it came from Skinnydragon. Skinny’s no longer with us and his death affected many of us who came to enjoy his writing, comments, and friendship. This question was submitted before he became ill but was never published. Miss you, buddy. • Your FB/Christmas novella is awe-inspiring in both scope and complexity. Truly one of the most amazing things I've ever encountered on GA. My question is simple -- the answer may not be. Did this project come to you for the first time as to what it would ultimately become, or did you begin writing one section, and then see the need for the next, etc. Sort of how Wagner wrote his "Ring" -- backwards? • "Did this project come to you as what it would ultimately become?" The answer is no. I'm not sure what compelled me to get beyond the wish of 'maybe someday' to rolling up my sleeves and thinking I'm going to do this, but when I conceived of the project I thought I would be doing 6 short stories. I also thought the series would take me about 8 months in total. Boy, was I wrong on both fronts. "Did you begin writing one section, and then see the need for the next, etc.?" To this one the answer is more complex. After I committed to doing the Christmas at Famous-Barr series I first pitched about deciding which years I had information on and compiled a possible list. Here arose my first problem – there were 8 Christmases that intrigued me, so my initial 6 went out the window. Before I let myself delve into writing the first one, I pulled out pieces of paper and jotted down notes and ideas for each year to be featured. Some of these notes filled up a few pages; others existed as only a paragraph or two. 2005 and 1880 are examples of the by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach. Once all 8 were grounded in a conceptual way, I immediately saw relationships of content. 1976 and 1929 were love stories; 1945 and 1913 were 'kid' stories; 1988 and 1964 were magic stories, etc. So, that's how I wrote them, in groups. First the two on themes of love – and a crisis appeared. These were outlined in proportions way beyond the scope of a short story, so I said, "Fine. The series will be 2 novellas and 6 short stories." That didn't work out either…. Each of the 8 Christmas years presented expanded opportunities and all of them became novellas in their own right. Thus, my original 8-month timeframe ballooned to me needing slightly less than two years to complete the project. Was it worth it…? Time will tell I guess. Thank you for your praise of my work and your excellent question. • • • • • That’s it for this month. Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season and we’ll see you again in the New Year. Remember to send me your questions so we can discover more about our authors, their lives, and how they craft their stories.
I've had quite a few messages asking about the return of Ask An Author, so here it is: Ask An Author 2.0. It won't be exactly like Dark always did it, but hopefully you enjoy getting the answers you've asked just as much as in the past. One major difference is, at least to start, we're only going to look at two authors at a time. Without further ado, here's the first Ask An Author 2.0. Today we're going to hear from Hudson Bartholomew and Timothy M. The first author for today is Hudson Bartholomew. Hudson was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with often times conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she tries to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both. Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write stories about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters. You're pretty new to GA, but I personally think you're one to watch. I'm impressed with all I've read from you so far. Did you always know you wanted to write and do you have any rituals when you get to it? 1. Did you always know you wanted to write? I have a distant memory of a grade school project where we wrote short stories with pictures and our teacher helped us bind them into books with fabric covers. I think that's when I fell in love with writing. Since then, I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with writing. School, work, life, people I love who dismiss writing as "a waste of time," these have all drawn me away from writing at some point. My old computer is filled with half written stories that will never see the light of day. Despite all these things, however, I always end up coming back to it because that's where I feel most like the real me. A couple of years ago, I finally admitted how much writing meant to me and I committed to making it a regular part of my life. What I discovered is that the more I write, the more I fall in love with writing. So, Writing--you're stuck with me now. 2. Do you have any rituals when you get into it? I don't have any rituals, per se. But I find that I need a certain level of distraction in order to concentrate, if that makes any sense. If all I have is the story in front of me, my brain will quickly wander off. But if I'm writing and also chatting with a friend online, my brain is preoccupied just enough that I can keep writing for hours on end. I'm strange, I know. The second author for today is Timothy M. Tim is from Denmark and is known for sprinkling his posts and stories with Danish words and references to the webcomic Scandinavia and the World. He's also a prolific writer of story reviews and comments, as well as editor for several authors. As a regular contributor to the site as well as being a popular author, how do you strike a balance between writing your own material and reading and reviewing other authors' work. Do you for example set aside a certain amount of time each day, where you are offline, to concentrate on your writing. No, I write when inspiration strikes me and I have time. I usually give priority to editing for others, and also to writing reviews, reading and commenting. This is probably one of the reasons my stories progress veeery sloooowly, to the frustrations of my readers. Sorry But they are patient and nice, giving me the occasional prod by PM or story topic post, and only resorting to threats of pitch forks and tying me to the computer, when I've lapsed on updating for too long. In fact, I sometimes feel a little guilty about the pleasure I get from having Hungry Birds cheeping at me for more. Well, that's it for this month!!! If you have a question you'd like to ask an author, send it to me and I'll pass the question on and see about getting it answered!