Monthly Archives: December 2010

New story and more reviews coming in

So, I’ve been waffling back and forth between two story ideas, since finishing the first draft of my (still unnamed) cyberpunk story.  One is a Christmas story intended for submission to Dreamspinner for next year’s Advent Calendar anthology.  (Yes, it’s already open for submission.)  The other is just a light-hearted sex romp. 

The Christmas story began as a light comedy, but as I’ve developed the story further, it’s taken on a bittersweet romantic tone.  It has a happy ending, but as things got weirder in the story, I decided I wanted to mull it over a bit more, before writing it.  The sex romp — a story of two college roommates who agree to have sex in a porn video, tentatively called Zack and Larry Make a Porno — caught my interest, sheerly because it promised a bunch of raunchy fun.  So, that’s the one I’m currently working on.

Yes, I know — when Erich heard the title, he didn’t exactly groan, but he gave me an I-don’t-know-about-that-one look and said, “Something tells me, I’ve heard that title before.”  I assured him I’m covered under parody law.  I’m not sure I’ll use it, anyway.  But I probably will use the names Zack and Larry, so anyone familiar with the brilliant Kevin Smith film will get the joke. 

The story brings up another matter that’s been bothering me, though.  I don’t mind writing fluff…I guess.  But I like to think that my stories — even the ones with sex in them — are first and foremost good stories.  If they contain sex, then the sex is just something extra.  But it could be removed without damaging the story.  This, to me, is the distinction between erotic stories and porn.  I don’t mind porn, but I don’t think that’s really what I want to be known for.  I want people to read my stories and be caught up in the plot and the characters, and generally in the romance.  If someone happens to enjoy the sex scenes in the stories, great.  But that’s not my primary goal.

Is Zack and Larry more than just a loose framework for a bunch of porn scenes?  I wish I knew.  I have to admit, I’m enjoying the story because it’s raunchy.  But does it have any other redeeming value?  

I’m reminded of the explicit sex scene in John Cameron Mitchell’s Short Bus, in which Jamie, James and Ceth attempt a threesome.  The scene has to be explicit, because the humor revolves around the awkwardness of the situation, and the fact that our heroes have no idea what to stick where.  The scene is hilarious, and more importantly, it demonstrates how James and Jamie are trying desperately to save their relationship.  That’s what raises an explicit sex scene above the level of pornography: it’s an intrinsic part of the story.   

Hopefully, as I write it, the characters in Zack and Larry will take on a life of their own and there will be something going on between them that makes the story worth reading…as something other than masturbation material.

In other news, more reviews have come in for both The Christmas Wager and The Meaning of Vengeance.  Some good; some not so good.  The two worst reviews were 3 out of 5 stars, and both reviewers seemed to like the stories. 

The comment on The Christmas Wager was that it was “delightful,” but the major plot twists seemed forced.  This is, perhaps, a valid criticism.  I was less concerned with the plot in that story (which is, admittedly, rather formulaic) than I was with the romance developing between Thomas and Andrew.  This is, in fact, the real story.  It’s this story arc which requires action on the part of our heroes, in order to resolve successfully.  The story of the wager itself is resolved fairly easily.

The 3 star review on Vengeance was a little harder to fathom.  Apparently, he had thought the story was about the mafia, based upon its title, and that had intrigued him.  So he thought it was okay, but it wasn’t what he’d hoped it would be.  That’s fine, but it seems odd to me to read a story intended for a particular audience, then mark it down specifically because it was intended for that audience.  I didn’t write Vengeance for people who like stories about the mafia.  I wrote it for people who like Vikings.

On the plus side, The Christmas Wager has received two 5 star reviews from people who don’t generally like historicals, but fell in love with the characters.

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Filed under Christmas, Romance, Victorian, Viking, Writing

Great reader review for “The Christmas Wager” on Amazon!

A reader posted a terrific review of The Christmas Wager today on Amazon!

With Christmas upon us, I haven’t had much time for writing.  But I’ve at least been plotting a Christmas story for next year.  It’s been gradually morphing from a light comedy into something with a more emotional center to it.  But I need to work out some of the details, before it will make sense.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Yuletide!

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Another good review!

The Meaning of Vengeance is doing very well, so far.  I just picked up another wonderful review from Jeff at!  My rating at Goodreads has climbed up to 4.25 out of 5 stars!

On the same site, The Christmas Wager has picked up one 5 star rating!  No reviews yet, but it was just released, of course.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that people like it as much as they seem to like Vengeance.

I have a friend currently reading my first draft of my as-yet-unnamed cyberpunk story, and in the meantime, I’m getting back to a Christmas short story idea I have for next years Advent Calendar anthology.  I might as well get most or all of it written while I’m still in the Christmas spirit. 

Of course, I find myself in the Christmas spirit about four times a year, but that’s beside the point.

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Filed under Christmas, Cyberpunk, Romance, Victorian, Viking, Writing

Another great review for “The Meaning of Vengeance”!

The review site BriefEncountersReviews has just released a review of The Meaning of Vengeance, giving the story a B+!

That makes the fourth review and/or reader feedback I’ve received, giving the story good marks.  I can’t say enough how delighted I am that this somewhat dark story seems to have to struck a chord with readers.  The Viking Age Iceland setting appears to interest people, at least because it’s unusual.  And the slow, careful development of the romance between the two characters has been commented on several times (in a good way). 

Last night, despite earlier problems with their website, Dreamspinner Press released my novella, The Christmas Wager.  This novella is very different from The Meaning of Vengeance, so I don’t know what kind of reception it will get.  It was really written as a fun exercise, to see if I could pull off a Christmas Regency (well, it ended up being Victorian, due to some elements I wanted to include), but with gay characters. 

It’s not an original idea.  The author, Erastes, had written a gay Regency novel called Standish, which I read and liked a lot, but it was very dark — so dark, in fact, that I had difficulty finishing it.  (Ultimately, I went back to it and I’m glad I did.)  At Dreamspinner, Connie Bailey and J.M. McLaughlin wrote a short story called Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, which I enjoyed.  I’m sure there are others — possibly a large number of others.  But at any rate, it was a fun exercise and I enjoyed writing it.  I was thrilled when it was accepted for publication. 

I’ve received a number of comments (in forums and such) that people are tired of Regencies, so I’m a little concerned about the reception of The Christmas Wager.  The same reviewers who like Vengeance might very well consider Wager to be trite and riddled with cliches.  I’m dreading a review like, “While his first story showed some promise, this latest offering by…whatever his name is…proves that we should never buy anything this author writes in the future.  Ever.  In fact, I think I’ll call the publisher right now and have him boycotted from publishing anything in the future.”



Filed under Gay Marriage, Viking, Writing

My novella, The Christmas Wager, is now on sale!

I’m sure there are hundreds — nay, thousands! — of potential readers around the world who have been waiting in anticipation for this moment.  Yet, it was almost not to be.

Dreampsinner Press has been having trouble with their website.  I won’t go into the reasons, but I would consider it to be a completely technical issue that was more or less beyond their control.  And they’ve been working around the clock to fix it.  It’s at least partially back online — the link above should take you to the store, even though the main page seems to still be broken.  It would, of course, happen just as my novella is about to be released. 

I’ve been concerned about the fact that it will only be available for three days, before Christmas day.  It will be available after that, of course, but how many people are still in the mood to read Christmas stories after the 25th?  (Well, me, for one, but I’m a freak.)

I completely understand that Dreamspinner has a lot of novels, novellas and short stories to put out the door this month, so not everthing could become available on December 1st.  So, yeah, I’m whining.  Let me reiterate that I love Dreamspinner and I am very happy to be working with such a wondeful publishing house for my first published stories.  But I also want readers!

So read The Christmas Wager!  Please.

My short story, The Meaning of Vengeance, has been doing well, in terms of reviews.  So far, no bad reviews, and three people have publicly praised it.  One wonderful reader even sent a note to Dreamspinner about it!  I am very grateful, and delighted that people are enjoying the story.  The Christmas Wager is a very different animal, told in what is, for me, rather flowery “Victorian” prose, and concerned with the dire consequences of failing to put on a proper Christmas ball, rather than, say, the paltry matter of falling in love with your brother’s killer. 

But I found it entertaining and funny, and hopefully readers will, as well.

In the meantime, the Raymond Town Clerk finally has all of the proper paperwork to issue us a marriage certificate!  I will be going down there tomorrow morning and hopefully buying three copies — a couple for us to keep, and one to lock up in the Tower of London.  Or maybe the vaults under the Vatican.  (Now, wouldn’t that be a hoot?)

My blog issue has, I hope, been “fixed” by changing to a different theme, which has a white background behind the text.  Erich figured out the problem with the other theme, but it isn’t something we can fix, and the developer doesn’t appear to be reachable.  Too bad.  I liked that theme.

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Filed under Christmas, Romance, Victorian, Writing

Why is blogging this ridiculously hard?

So, setting up a wordpress blog seemed easy enough.  The themes are limited, as they were in LiveJournal, but at least you aren’t spammed constantly like the victims of LJ are.  However, linking my RSS feed to Facebook has proven to be a challenge.  I followed some instructions someone posted in a forum I’m in, and it seemed to work.  At least, it imported the last five wordpress blog entries and displayed them on Facebook.  The implication was that new entries would appear on Facebook, as well.

Not so much. 

When the next blog entry failed to make an appearance, I poked at it for a bit and discovered an app called Networked Blogs, which appeared to do what I wanted.  Again, it seemed to work.  We’ll see what happens when I post this on wordpress.

But people have been complaining that, if they click on a blog link, it takes them to my wordpress blog, but the text is illegible.  This turns out to be because the page neglects to load the dark gray gif image that’s supposed to appear behind blog text.  Since the text is white (or light gray), without this dark background, it’s impossible to read on top of the Christmasy blue and white snowflake background I’ve loaded.  The annoying thing is, that dark background loads fine, if you go to the blog directly, by typing the address into a browser.

This makes little sense, and examining the CSS hasn’t illuminated the situation.  So I decided it might work better with a different font color.  But changing the font color, I’ve discovered, after browsing online for a while and reading forum postings, is nigh impossible.  Considering the fact that the two main things all users want to do with things such as a blog, appart from blogging, would be to change the background and the font color, I can only chalk this up to the developers of wordpress being completely and utterly out of touch with their users.  Possibly with the entire fucking planet.  What…the…hell?!

But I’m not bitter.

I could set up (or get Eric to set up) the opensource wordpress code on our home server, and since I have the domain name “” registered (don’t bother checking it out, just yet — it’s empty), this might be a good way to do things in the future.  But for now,  I just want my current blog to work.

I mucked about for a while with different themes, finding nothing I liked.  Then the damned thing wiped out all of my widgets, so I need to put my book references back in place.  That’s hampered by the fact that Dreamspinner is currently working on their website. 

This should not be this hard.


Filed under Writing

Finished the first draft of my cyberpunk story!

I still have no idea what to call it.  I have a bad habit of always naming my stories “The _____”:  The Sacrifice, The Resurrection, The Kiss, The Blind Date, etc.  (The Kiss eventually became Boundaries of Attraction, after an off-hand comment my friend, Claire, threw out during a script meeting, and The Blind Date eventually was renamed Sunny Cafe, after the diner where the action takes place.)  This story has been going by the working title The Bodyguard, which doesn’t indicate that it’s cyberpunk and says nothing interesting, at all.  I’ll have to work on that.

The story also needs some rewriting, of course.  I don’t think it will require much, since my stories tend to be fairly polished, by the time I get to the end.  It’s my habit to keep going back over what’s been written, as I’m working on it, so by the time it’s finished, most of it has been revised several times.  But this one took some unexpected turns near the end, with one character revealing secrets I hadn’t known he had.  So now I have to go back and make sure that’s consistent with what happened earlier. 

The romance could also use some tweaking.  By the last few paragraphs, I think I had the character motivation pretty well figured out, but now I need to go back and make sure all of that is adequately foreshadowed.  I always hate it when two characters proclaim that they love each other for no apparent reason, other than that’s what is supposed to happen at the end of the story.

I’m also in a unique position with this story, in that it’s the first time I’ve written a story that’s too long for the editor I plan on submitting it to, so I’ll have to hack a couple hundred words out of it.  That’s really not much — less than half a page.  I’ll just have to tighten it up a bit. 

I left the ending wide open for a sequel.  In fact, it sort of ends on a cliff-hanger.  The characters are safe and falling in love with each other, but they are clearly heading towards the next phase of their adventure.  I could simply stop writing, right there, and it would stand on its own.  But hopefully the readers will want more!  I have only a vague idea what that “more” will entail, but I think it will be fun to find out.

In other news, yesterday the Senate voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!  I’m not connected to the military, in any way, but I’m very happy for those in the service who will, someday very soon, be able to talk about their partners/spouses without fear of ending their careers.  Before this weekend, if a gay man or woman in the military was killed in combat, their partner/spouse might never be notified, because nobody would know to tell them.  Can you imagine your husband or wife being killed in Iraq, and you never being informed?  Months later, you might eventually figure out that the person you love isn’t just being moved around and can’t contact you — that, in fact, he or she is never coming home again.  That, in and of itself, makes current policy insane, to my mind.


Filed under Cyberpunk, Romance, Writing

The Case of the Disappearing Marriage License

So…over a month ago, the day after our wedding, our minister dropped all of the signed forms documenting our wedding into the mail.  They have not arrived at the Nelson Town Clerk’s office, according to said town clerk.  Now, I’m trying to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and convince myself that the mail is just slow at this time of the year.  After all, it took from November 6th to December 2nd, according to the USPS website, for my certified mail to the IRS to arrive in Kansas, or wherever they were going.  But a friend who married a gay couple in Dover last summer said the exact same thing happened to that couple — the marriage license was “somehow” lost in transit to the Dover Town Clerk, and it took weeks to straighten out. 

That it’s entirely a coincidence is pretty hard to believe.   But we’re talking two different towns.  And when I went to talk to the town clerk in person, she seemed sincerely apologetic at the distress this was causing us and was very helpful, reprinting the original marriage license and signing it along with me, back-dating it to when the first was issued, and explaining how Maureen simply needs to sign it and date it the day we got married.  Then she asked me to bring it directly to her, rather than trusting it to the mail again.

In the meantime, Maureen had to request new copies of her permission to marry NH residents in the state of New Hampshire, since she is a resident of Massachusetts.  Our friend, Claire, offered to drive to the State House and pick those up personally, but no, the State House put the damned things in the mail!  We’ll see if the Raymond town clerk says she received them next week.

Hopefully, we can get all of this resolved before the end of the year.  Maybe even before Christmas.  That would be nice.

In other news, the House just approved a repeal of DADT, and now it’s going to the Senate.  I’m still pissed at John McCain for his ridiculous refusal to accept the fact that the study he requested was done, and done properly, and the majority of people in the military (not to mention the entire country) are tired of DADT and want it repealed.  I doubt he’ll change his opinion, but it would be nice if he admitted that he just doesn’t like the idea personally.  But politicians never admit anything.

Also, a judge in India has just overturned a 148-year-old law banning homosexuals.  Gay men and women, who before today, could be imprisoned for expressing affection in public, were kissing in the streets in celebration! 

My cyberpunk story is still creeping towards an ending.  I got my characters safely to Canada, but was bothered by two things:  1) The trip took them several days.  In all of that time, did they never have a discussion about Connor’s feelings of betrayal, and what Luis is really up to?  And 2) I had an entire page that was reading like a travelogue, with brief descriptions of where they went and what they did, but no actual scenes to speak of.  It was too distancing from the characters.

So, I’ve gone back to the halfway point, where they’ve checked into a hotel so that Connor can jack in and hack their records.  This will allow me to have a scene resolving their personal conflict and possibly throw in a little sex, as well.  We’ll see how it develops.  But I’m at about 13,500 words, so I can’t drag it out much longer.  The cap is 15,000 words for a “short story” by Dreamspinner’s definition.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, Gay Marriage, Romance, Writing

Cyberpunk story nearly finished

I’ve written the big, climactic battle (which, it turns out, is more “creepy” than “epic”), and my heroes simply need to make good their escape and then….

Well, that’s the part I’m not quite sure about yet.  Somehow, they have to decide they’re in love with each other — or at least heading in that direction.  Technically, it might be good to throw in a sex scene, at this point, since there was only one in the story, at about the halfway mark, and it was pretty tame. 

A fellow erotic romance author was lamenting a couple weeks ago that the genre dictated that a sex scene should occur at a certain point in her story, but she wasn’t sure if the characters were ready for that.  At the time, I thought that was a bit bizarre, but now I can completely see her point.  I could probably toss in a brief sex scene somewhere, but I’m not yet sure if my characters are in love with each other. 

This story is nearly as long as The Meaning of Vengeance, but that story took place over several weeks.  This story takes place over, let’s see…two days.  Yep.  Two days.  Plenty of time to fall in love and build a meaningful life together.

I’ve always been amazed by this phenomenon in movies and written fiction.  Whenever a lot seems to happen, we expect the hero and heroine (or the other hero) to be in love by the end, and to run off together.  But often, the time period involved is very short.  Time frame doesn’t really matter to the viewer or reader, however, as long as they perceive that these two characters have been through a lot together. 

So, where does that leave my two heroes?  Well, the main character (Connor) has just learned that the guy he hired to be his bodyguard (Luis), and was beginning to trust, isn’t everything he appears to be.  I won’t give away more than that.  But although I don’t foresee this being an obstacle to their relationship, once they’ve worked things out, they haven’t had time to work things out.

Three months later, Connor told Luis, “All right.  I guess  I forgive you now.”

“Great,” Luis replied, pulling the rehead into an embrace, “Does this mean we can finally have sex again?”


Filed under Cyberpunk, Romance, Writing

My first review!

The Meaning of Vengeance just received it’s first review, on a site called Goodreads!  It was a great review, by my estimation.  Not a perfect score, but four out of five stars, and the reviewer had nothing but praise for it.  The reviewer said it was well-written, with believable characters and “true emotions.”  I’m very excited to see somebody “getting” one of my stories, the first time out the gate.  I just hope other readers feel the same.  I was afraid the story might be too dark for a holiday story (though the ending is happy, of course).  But the reviewer comments on that and says it ends “Christmasy”!

The same review appeared on Reviews by Jessewave, as well.  I’m not really sure, which site originated it.

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Filed under Christmas, Romance, Viking, Writing