Monthly Archives: April 2012

The First Gay Marriage Proposal On A US Marine Base

This past Tuesday (April 24th), Navy veteran Cory Huston proposed to his partner witha a pink morganite engagement ring, Marine Avarice Guerrero, in the first gay marriage proposal to ever take place on a US military base! Well, possibly others have occurred under more private circumstances, but this one had reporters photographing it.

After a few minutes of emotional holding and kissing, Huston went anxiously down on one knee; looked up at Guerrero, who was dressed from head to toe in military fatigues; and produced an engagement ring and the time-honored phrase, “Will you marry me?”

Huston’s mild tremble, a result of hours and days of anticipation about this day, was quickly quieted by the one word every hopeful fiancé wants to hear: “Yes.”

“I was blown away,” Guerrero said, staring at the shining ring on his finger shortly after the proposal. “I was shocked that after all we’d been through, he would honestly want to spend the rest of his life with someone like me.”

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Final Galley Proof for “Saturn in Retrograde”!

I submitted the second edit of “Saturn in Retrograde” last night.  I have a bad habit of holding onto them until the very last minute, which I’m sure the editors just love.  This time, there were some questions the editor had about the repercussions of the sequence of events.  I made some tweaks to clear a couple things up, but it is, after all, a time travel story.  There are bound to be paradoxes, and I didn’t worry about them too much.  It’s not a comedy, but it’s intended to be lighthearted fun.  The editor seemed to think it all came together nicely at the end, with a lot of weird little moments sprinkled throughout the story (foreshadowing) suddenly being explained, and that’s what I was shooting for.

Only a few hours after I submitted my edits, the galley proof came back to me.  Now my job is to go through with a microscope and try to catch any dropped words or incorrect words — things that always seem to be missed, no matter how many times you and the editors go through the text.

There is a misconception (and a rather petty one) that eBooks are always badly edited.  While I have certainly come across a fair share of eBooks that are, it isn’t necessarily the case.  When compared to mainstream publishers, I do think eBook publishers tend to have more errors, but this is largely because mainstream publishers have a much slower schedule, putting out just a few books per year, whereas eBook publishers may put out hundreds of books in a year.  This isn’t because eBook publishers are “book mills,” as the critics like to call them.  It’s because the returns on eBooks are much smaller (initially, although the shelf life of an eBook is much longer than a paperback or hardcover), and if your competitors are putting out hundreds of books a year, you can’t afford to just put out a few.

I do find editing mistakes in mainstream publications.  It happens.  If it happens a bit more frequently in eBooks, it’s not because the editors aren’t good.  It’s simply that they have a faster-paced schedule.  However, the great thing about eBooks is that, if a mistake is found after publication and reported to the editors, it can be changed fairly easily, so that the next person who downloads it won’t see the same error.  In fact, if you purchase an eBook, most publishers will allow you to download it again, so you have a chance of getting the “patched” version.

What I don’t get is the attitude that, if you discover a few editing mistakes in a novel, it totally kills the pleasure of reading the novel.  What kills the pleasure of reading a novel for me is the novel itself.  If it’s written awkwardly, so that I simply can’t read more than a chapter without being constantly aware of the stilted prose, or if the characters are simply unlikable, or the plot is dull.  Typos…not so much.

But of course I don’t want typos in my own novels, so I’ll spend the next few days trying to prevent that from happening.

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Filed under Romance, SciFi, Writing

Getting Depressed For Fun and Profit

Well, not very depressed.  More like the kind of delicious depression we settle into when we watch a movie like Brokeback Mountain or read a book like A Separate Peace.

With the first edits done on Saturn in Retrograde, I’ve begun another project, tentatively called Billy’s Bones.  (Not a great title, so I’ll probably change it.)   Like By That Sin Fell the Angels, which I can’t wait to begin editing, this is a contemporary, and I’m going for a stark, realistic feel.  Unlike By That Sin…, it’s a romance, so I’m hoping it will appeal to a wider audience.

Billy’s Bones is about a psychologist (Tom) and the suicidal patient (Kevin) he treats at the beginning of the novel.  Kevin bails on the counseling, when things get too intense for him, but Tom meets up with him again years later, after buying a house in the country and discovering that Kevin is one of his neighbors.  The two begin to fall in love (of course), but Kevin is haunted by repressed memories of a tragic series of events in his childhood and he can never be happy until the secret he’s buried is uncovered.

I won’t give specifics about the Deep Dark Secret, but really there aren’t a lot of childhood traumas to choose from in a story like this.  We’re pretty much stuck with sexual abuse, physical violence in various forms, or traumatic events such as car accidents or fires.

As much as I love fantasy and science fiction, there’s something immensely satisfying about delving deep into the psyches of ordinary people who just happen to be screwed up.  Not screwed up to the point of being serial killers (I went through a phase of loving serial killer books and films in college, and I’m pretty much done with that), but screwed up in a way that a lot of people are.  Just magnify it a bit.

 

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Filed under Drama, Psychological Drama, Romance, Writing

“By That Sin Fell the Angels” has been accepted for publication!

A lot of people have already heard this news, since I shouted it all over the Internet when I got the contract last week, but I haven’t had much time to blog about it.  Dreamspinner’s new religious/inspirational imprint Itineris Press has offered me a contract for my story about a small town in Maine dealing with the suicide of a gay teen.

I’m very excited, of course, but also a bit worried.  The novel is brutally frank about a lot of things, throwing biblical arguments around and depicting teen sexuality and drug use.  No doubt there are plenty of people out there who will consider it tame, but I did have at least one beta reader put off by the level of “raunch,” as he put it.  And with all the biblical stuff in it, I could be in for a world of hate mail from Christians and non-Christians alike.

Or maybe nothing will happen, which might even be worse.  I’ve been going through a dry spell recently, where I’ve received some nice e-mails from readers about my stories (for which I am very grateful), but sites like Goodreads no longer seem to know I exist.  I’ve been reminded of a quote from Oscar Wilde:

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Hopefully, I’ll get a little more attention in June, when Saturn in Retrograde is released.  It’s not so much that I’m an attention whore, as I would like to someday support myself with my writing, and that’s unlikely to happen if I fall off the radar.

But then I have a habit of whining too much.  I’ve just finished one of the rounds of editing on Saturn in Retrograde and now I’ve received this contract, so my life is pretty good right now.

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Filed under Drama, Romance, SciFi, Writing

First Wave of Editing on “Saturn in Retrograde”

I just received the first edits back from the Dreamspinner editors for my novella, Saturn in Retrograde.

I only have a week to get through them, either approving the edits or rejecting them (with an explanation) but fortunately most of the edits are just grammatical and I rarely quibble over those.  I’m not so enamored of my prose that I object to swapping a “which” for a “that” or adding a comma here and there.

The only only comment that might give me trouble is a note that one of my surprises at the end isn’t foreshadowed well in the earlier parts of the story, and perhaps I should go back and drop some hints.  That will take some thinking.

Elizabeth, the executive editor, has been encouraging editors to comment when they think a section is particularly good, so the author doesn’t feel like the editors never like our writing.  So this draft had a couple “This made me laugh” comments, which is nice.

 

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Filed under Romance, SciFi, Writing

Farewell To An Old Friend

We had to put our old tom cat, Butterscotch, to sleep this weekend.  He was 17 and had been with me since he was a 6-month-old kitten.

Over the years, he’d certainly given me his share of trouble:  tearing up the wallpaper in some apartments, peeing on things — and houseguests — when he wanted to show his annoyance at not being fed on time or not having a clean litter box.  Once I was away on vacation for a few days on some escorted tours to israel and, even though I’d arranged for him to be fed, of course, the moment I came in the door, he ran right up to me and sprayed all over me.  How dare I leave him for that long!

But he was also the friendliest cat I’ve ever owned, immediately greeting strangers when they entered the house with a cheerful purr.  When we got a new kitten, Koji, who was terrified at being in a new place and refused to let anyone come near him for a couple days, Butter spent that entire time sitting peacefully nearby, inching gradually closer over a period of hours, then backing up when Koji’s hackles rose, only to start gradually inching forward again.  Eventually, Butter won Koji over and they became best friends.

I like to tell the story of when we first adopted Butter, as a kitten.  I already had a middle-age dog named Lady, at the time, who was terrified of cats.  But Butterscotch took one look at her and decided she was his new Mom!  Lady would curl up on her pillow to sleep and within minutes she’d have a tiny orange furball curled up against her stomach.  She didn’t shove him away, but she would watch him fearfully, waiting for him to explode like a hand grenade or do something else horrible to her.  But he didn’t.  All he ever did was lick her ears and her muzzle until she grew to trust him.  Right up until she passed away, the two continued to sleep together, and when she was gone, Butter was the only animal in the household who kept looking for her, clearly missing her.

When we adopted Kumar, a boisterous, black lab pup who outweighed any of the cats by about 65 pounds, Koji terrorized him, while Priscilla, the cranky female stray we’d taken in after Lady passed away, ignored him.  But Butter curled right up beside Kumar on his pillow in the kitchen or even in his crate and made him feel welcome.

It was incredibly hard for me, the day the vet called me to tell me that the routine teeth cleaning for Butter had revealed that he had cancer in his jaw.  The vet recommended that we not even wake him from the anesthetic, but I couldn’t make the decision that quickly and without having a chance to say goodbye.  Erich picked him up and brought him home with some pain-killer medication and for a couple months Butter seemed to be doing better than he’d been doing in over a year — more energetic, climbing the stairs that had grown difficult for him, more of an appetite.  My guess is that he’d started suffering from arthritis and the pain-killers were making him feel better.  I wished I’d known he needed them earlier!

But there was nothing we could do to stop the cancer, without removing a large portion of his jaw and subjecting him to radiation treatments that would have made his last days miserable.  Eventually, he started to fade.  The tumor grew to the point where it was visibly distorting his face and he could no longer eat without pain, even with the meds.  So I made the call to put him to sleep.

I’d never had to do that before, with any of my animals over the years.  Buffy had been shot by an asshole neighbor, when I was a kid; Dwan had been hit by a car; Lady had died of pneumonia, despite everything the vet could do.  But Butter forced me to make a decision.  If I avoided it, his suffering would continue to grow worse.  So I know I had to do it.  But unfortunately that doesn’t get rid of the guilt — not quite.  I held him as long as the vet would allow me to, and then Erich and I continued to pet him while he was on the table, along with our friends, Kristen and Claire.  I crouched down so that I could look directly into Butter’s eyes and try to tell him not to be afraid, but I still felt him shaking in fear for those last moments, and I will never forget it.  And I will always know that I had the power to say, “No.  Not today.” and take him home with me again.  And that knowledge brings with it another incredible wave of guilt.  But what would that have done for him, really?  A few more days, lingering in pain; a few more days of always being hungry, because it hurt to much to eat more than a tiny bit.

Afterwards, Erich and I went home with Butter’s collar and held each other while we cried, wondering how do you tell the other pets that he won’t be coming home again?

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Filed under Life, Pets