Girl Sex

ddbb44854f796d8c3e1962444c6eb84bSome reviewers gave Hard as Roxx negative reviews because it features two smart, sexy women who sometimes have sex with each other. They have sex with others too, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue. Instead, the readers objected to my updating social mores to reflect the 22nd century.

In effect, it’s okay that Roxx decapitates enough people to start a head farm as long as she doesn’t perform oral sex on a girl, because that would be gross. Ew, girl sex. So, here’s me, saying, “Bite me.” Sure, book sales slowed when people inaccurately labeled my work “lesbian fiction.” But I don’t think I’d have changed a word, mainly because it’s not lesbian fiction.

Excerpt below. Click to read more.

Hell, Roxx isn’t even gay. Whatever. Anyone who doesn’t know that LGBTQ themes are prevalent in Sci-Fi shouldn’t read my books anyway. Seriously.

Remember her? She liked sex with girls too. Dumb shits.

Remember her? She liked sex with girls too. Dumb shits.


 

15 December 2142 07:02 a.m. – Central European Time.

Trint awoke to kisses. As the eastern light bathed their room, she turned, burying her head under the oversized pillow she had become accustomed to hugging in her sleep. She began to drift, once more, to sleep, but felt familiar lips and an impudent tongue teasing the soft curve of her belly, tickling her protruding navel, tracing a path along the curves of her hips. She could feel Roxx’s warm breath coming in increasing bursts and stole a glance at her partner, who was nude, eyes closed, her mouth pressed to flesh. She could have been sleep kissing for all Trint knew. Without warning, her partner slid her lower body to the floor and began working in earnest. Trint felt the wind pulled from her, felt her eyes clamp shut. Fluttering kisses … a touch here … another there, in the spot that always worked … and she knew it was coming and would begin soon.

Her back arched and she could hear soft moans, sweet sounds whose owner she could not identify. And it was here now and there was fire, she was aflame; her partner would not stop … she defeated her, winded her. In a flash of impassioned light, with muffled screams and hands wrenching at sheets, it was over. She gasped for breath, whispered calming words to her pounding heart and … one last kiss … felt her partner’s soft skin against her own.

“Thank you,” Roxx whispered, filling Trint’s cheeks with kisses.

“Why are you thanking me? All I did was wake up.” Trint was smiling, though her eyes were apparently glued shut.

“Just … for always giving me what I need, even when I argue with you that I don’t need it.”

Though lovemaking was Trint’s favorite way to start the day – or end the day, or steal a few moments from the pace of the day – it was all too rare an occurrence, lately. There was abundant space. Some days, she felt as if they were two continents, doomed to drift apart, with no bridge wide enough to span the gap. Then, magically, Roxx would reach across the chasm if it was not there. She would leave and take a bit more of Trint with her when she was gone. Lately, there was very little of Trint left.

She was born to wander, she had concluded. The world was waiting, and yet she spent most of her time on the land adjacent to her father’s estate. Roxx would not join her on the hunt, today. That, she knew without asking. Roxx hated the cold, detested the snow, despised winter and everything it stood for. When she did risk the cold, which was not often, she was a walking anachronism, a Viking among robots. Trint smiled, thinking of Roxx dressed in black jeans, fur boots, jacket, and a fourteenth-century sword with integrated twenty-second century technology. Roxanne fought the cold with as much vigor as she had embraced the desert. Long, lean limbs did not serve as good insulators against biting nine-month winters. So, she would not join Trint today, and there would be just that much more space between them. Instead, Roxx would be working at her father-in-law’s institute, “for the good of the girls.” Trint, meanwhile, would continue studying the neo-anthropology of the Neanderthal.

“The lonely life of an academic,” she said aloud, as she listened to the sounds of the house awaking around her. “Ten more hours with my peeps, and none with my Roxxy.”

#Mywriting Process Blog Tour

I got tagged by Christina Hawthorne at Ontyre Passages in the #amwiriting blog tour, for which I thank her sincerely. However, I must confess that I have failed. All of the writers I contacted to join the tour told me they had already participated. So, in lieu of tagging anyone, I would encourage you to stop by Christina’s new website and check out her blog, poetry, and ongoing Fantasy serial, Last Word Before Dying.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 12.40.45 PMWith that in mind, here are my response to the #amwriting questions:

1)     What am I working on?

I am currently working on a mystery/suspense novel, Jeanne Dark. Dark and her partner, Foster Cain, are investigators hired by the U.S. Government to investigate a mysterious death abroad. Is it a simple case of jealously gone awry, or the leading edge of a broad, international terrorist ring? Whichever the answer, the mystery is certain to get darker before Jeanne and Foss can begin to share any light.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The primary difference is my use of first-person Point of View (POV) for both leads. It’s a challenge, as writing in viewpoints of two very different characters requires a formulating two distinct voices, while simultaneously blending the two into a harmonized whole, with lyricism and rhythm as the common element. If I’m successful, at the end, it will read like a jazz piece, an easy-to-read lyrical prose poem punctuated with humor and the occasion burst of synaesthetic poetry.

3)     Why do I write what I do?

I am a character-centered novelist and story teller. For the most part, my choice of projects is based on “channeling” a particular character that inspires me. I sit, think about who the lead is, what their personality type is, their history, and before long, their story shows up. At the end, it needs to be someone I care about and whom I think the reader will care about.

I’m not tied to a genre, having written novels in Visionary Fiction, Science Fiction, and Mystery. My short stories span an even broader set of genres, but the unifying thread in my writing, according to my best friend and love, is romance. I guess all those years of watching black and white romance movies had a lasting impact.

4)     How does my writing process work?

It has evolved dramatically over past three years, to the point where I am just beginning to recognize a pattern. As I’ve written before, I am a plotter, both in writing and in life. Particularly with mystery stories, I first determine a crime, or set of crimes. Then, once I know who’s done what, I sit down and develop a case file, much in the way I would expect my lead to do. I lay out, step-by-step, path the investigator(s) take, complete with dead ends, in order to solve the case. Once the outline is done, I’m ready to write.

And that is precisely where everything comes undone. The writing, see, isn’t really done in advance, and my characters generally don’t like to keep to the script. My leads explore emotional paths I’d not anticipated, and minor and even previously silent characters sometimes nail their auditions and end up with larger roles. As a result, my plot expands, contracts, deviates.

Writing is the hard part, and the joy. While most is at my computer, I am just as prone to write while walking. For my last book, I wrote at least half the book that way, with the scenes being acted out in my head. I feel more like the scribe, frantically trying to transcribe my characters’ lives to the book. The one thread that never deviates is the music. I have to have music with the write emotional content before I can write. Each book has its own soundtrack, with Dark’s being a combination of jazz, 70s R&B, and female vocalists. It doesn’t matter whether I write late at night, which is my norm, or in the morning; what matters is that I do it consistently. Finally, unlike everything I’ve ever read, I edit while writing. I’ve found the easiest way to keep a consistent, easy flow, is to reread and edit the previous night’s work before starting the next bit. It means the 1st Draft takes longer, but I end up with half as many drafts at the end. The last step is always the same: make it flow, make it flow, make it flow.

Step Three: Share who’s up next:

Anyone who wants to be up next. Link to this post and I’ll be sure to check yours out.

Gone Rogue

I have time for 3 things in my life: work, Maria, and work. After that, I work. Here’s some rough 1st draft work. The final piece will be substantially more lyrical. Substance first, style second, always.

Coming Soon Jeanne Dark Promo 2

I woke up in the hotel room with the sun already low on the horizon. A groggy check of the time told me it was three-thirty, nearing sunset. The maid hadn’t been in the room, judging by the clutter, but Dark’s bed was made. I was certain she’d not slept it in. We were both exhausted when we’d hit the room, and I was torpid even before she even managed to help me get off my suit. The other pillows had faint traces of her perfume, but that was understandable since I remembered her lying next to me, watching me drift to sleep. Nonetheless, given our situation and the recent tension between us, it was inconceivable that she would have slept next to me.

I got up, emptied my bladder, and decided I’d been wrong about the severity of my concussion. Forgoing room service, I grabbed some snacks we’d brought to the room and downed a half-liter of water before climbing back into bed. As lay there on the Dark-scented pillows, I wondered if she had, in fact, slipped under the covers next to me the night before. I didn’t have to wonder long. I slipped my hand under the pillow, ready to grab a bit more sleep, and got it tangled in one of Jeanne’s bras. Not only had she joined me in my bed, apparently she’d stripped off in the process. It probably meant nothing, I reasoned. I’d been out like a light and she was probably too tired herself to move. She knew I wouldn’t awaken and I was in no shape to do damage even if I had. Besides, the woman trusted me more than I trusted me. Sleep took me then, as I lay in bed watching the room slowly dim, all the while imagining my nude little Jeanne breathing next to me in bed. The dreams I had were wondrous things that night. Ah, to be a man with a vivid imagination and a woman worth envisioning.

It was nine o’clock the next morning when I finally awoke, more clear-headed than I’d been since Danni clocked me in her flat. Sleep turned out to be the only medicine I needed. The first thing I did was turn to check the other bed. It looked the same, with the covers tucked underneath in the way the maids always prepared the room. Every time we returned to our hotel room, Dark would yank out the covers along the side and roll down the bedspread, muttering about the filth on hotel linens. It was the only part of sharing a hotel room we’d agreed upon. I was sure she’d never make it up that way herself. This time, sans the fog I’d been floating through, I jumped out of bed and began to take inventory. All my things were there, and none of Dark’s were. It’d been thirty-two hours since I’d seen her last, smiling at me and caressing my forehead as I drifted off to sleep. She had been gone when I awoke the evening before, and I’d had no idea.

I was less concerned with her safety at that point than I was about my job security. My mission wasn’t only to help Dark solve a mystery. Hardesty wanted the two of us joined at the hip. He was worried about something, despite his assurances to the contrary. I needed to know what. Protocol said I was to call him if we ever got separated for an extended period. This certainly qualified.

I found my phone still tucked in my pants pocket. The battery was deader than I felt. Cursing, I plugged it in and jumped into the shower to make myself presentable. By the time I’d showered, shaved, and gotten dressed, the phone was charged and was buzzing up a swarm of messages. Most were from Hardesty. A couple were from Samuels. None was from my partner. The most recent message, with a timestamp of seven o’clock that morning, was from Hardesty. It read, I’m in London. Contact me via Monica. We think Dark’s gone rogue.

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but I think she’s gay

“Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … unless they’re, like, gay or something.” — Not the Statue of Liberty

“My being blind doesn’t make me stupid.” — Justice

Egalidad

Some of my characters end up being lesbian, bisexual, gay, or transexual. Some, like Trint in my novel Hard as Roxx or Peyton in my novelette* “Days of the Never Was” were born that way. Others, like headliners Roxx, from Hard as Roxx or Luce, in the novelette “Manhattan Transference” discover their sexuality as an integral part of the plot.

In some instances, I created a character’s sexuality somewhat randomly, like Trint, and allowed it to impact the story in accordance with how the characters’ personalities mesh. In fact, in Trint’s instance, I eliminated a planned major character because Trint and Roxx’s energy supplanted what I’d intended to be a main storyline. In “Days of the Never Was,” which follows three pairs of friends as they have their identities shifted due to a mysterious fog, I created a character in order to write a relationship that touched on how gender and sexual identities affect relationships, and then allowed it to flip.

Initially, I hesitated to do so, since I’m not gay, but then I realized I don’t have a vagina either, so … I’m guessing what creating characters requires is understanding more so than personal experience. I’m not particularly a fan of story lines like the old TV show “Will and Grace,” whose primary characters seemed to be saying, “Look at me! I’m gay! Isn’t that funny?” Well, not so much, no.

Still, one of the reasons I didn’t release Roxx, although the book is finished, is that I wondered about people’s acceptance of a gay relationship. After getting feedback from various readers, I still wonder. Not a single person so much as mentioned the relationship, even though it is the central relationship to the story. Is that indicative of how far society has progressed, or is it that people aren’t comfortable saying they weren’t comfortable? The initial publisher I’d lined up to market the novel read it, had plenty of praise and few critiques, but didn’t seem interested in selling the book. Maybe he’d decided it wasn’t his cup of tea, or maybe the industry discouraged his marketing anyone’s book, or maybe he secretly thought it was a boring story. Who knows?

I suppose I’ll never know, which is fine, because I don’t believe it’s my job to care about whether things I write cause readers discomfort. My job is to write the story. The reader’s job is to decide how it affects them. Still, it would be pretty cool if it turned out no one has mentioned any of my LGBT characters because they didn’t think it was something worth mentioning.

*Definitions:

Novel: a work of 40,000 words or more
Novella: a work of at least 17,500 words but under 40,000 words
Novelette: a work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words
Short story: a work of under 7,500 words

Why be an Author?

Why would anyone in their right mind be an author? I’m not referring to being a writer; that’s different. There is only a single reason to be a writer — you were born that way. Sure, it may take you a while to notice it, as it did in my case. But the writer is always there.

I remember being absent from school for a couple of days in the 3rd grade. When I got back, the teacher informed me the class had spent the previous 2 days learning to write poetry. I had exactly an hour to catch up. Now, in my many days in front of our in-home library, I’d spent hours reading and re-reading children’s poetry. I figured, “How hard could it be?” In my ignorance, I knocked off a poem about birds in fifteen minutes. I turned it in, and to my teacher’s surprise, it wasn’t bad. My mom carried that silly poem in her wallet for decades.

Still, I didn’t notice I was a writer. I had no imagination, you see. The first time I really began to see the writer within was when I turned 20. Despite being an accounting major, most of my friends were either musicians, artists, or poets. The latter group used to pen poems and recite them to African drums. Sometimes, I’d accompany them, just for kicks. But I wasn’t a drummer, or an artist, because I had no imagination. In private, however, I thought I’d try to write some poems, because, “How hard could it be?”

Most sucked, a lot. But 5 of them got selected and published in a small, New York City poetry journal. So, I decided, maybe I was a poet. By then, I understood that I was a writer, because I could no longer stop writing. I’d never thought myself an artist, unless you counted the fact that I had a camera in my hand from age 12 on.

See, I’d never put the pieces together. I’d always been an artist, just not practicing. You are born an artist or a writer. It’s an innate part of your personality, whether you give it voice or not. You can certainly ignore it, but I promise, that will be to your detriment.

Being an author, however, is completely different. Being a writer (artist) is a personality trait. Being an author (painter) is a vocation or avocation. Anything that can be done as a career is a choice. You can do it, or do something else. But if you chose to be one, do so with eyes open. As an author, let me warn you: you probably won’t get rich. Some do; most don’t.

William Faulkner is considered to be one of the most talented authors in history. In fact, in my survey of the 100 Greatest Writers in History, Faulkner came out 2nd, behind the unreadable James Joyce.

Faulkner

Faulkner, all 5 feet, 5.5 inches of him. (This photo actual size)

Even so, he couldn’t make a living as an author. In order to make ends meet, the creator of such classics as The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom! worked in Hollywood for years, penning 6 credited screenplays, including “To Have and Have Not” and “The Big Sleep,” two of Bogart’s best movies. This, from the eventual winner of a Nobel Prize in literature and 2 Pulitzer Prizes. See, it’s damned hard to get noticed. Without Faulkner’s friendship with Howard Hawks, for whom he penned 5 of the 6 screenplays, he may have never gotten enough visibility to achieve the fame he did.

That’s not to say you won’t either. However, it is to say that fame and fortune isn’t the reason to pursue any career, whether its author, painter, athlete, or lawyer. The reasons to do so are simpler than that: because you find the work enjoyable and because you are willing to work hard enough to be the best at it that you can be.

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” – William Faulkner

It took me a while to answer my inner question of why I write. I used to have different answers, but they were never the reasons I gave my friends. The real reason is simple. I want to create characters that people never forget. In the not distant future, I will die, and cease to be. My daughter will have children, grow old, and die. Within the span of fifty years past the end of my life, few, if any, will remember me. Almost none will know the details of my life, because few know them now.

But maybe I can perfect my quirky, silly, brilliant, sexy and open Bacall-Deschanel-Hepburn iconic female lead. Perhaps I’ll get her right one day, and you, and your children, and their children will never forget her. Maybe I’ll stumble across a new male heroic lead, one who doesn’t shrink from a fight, but who neither is threatened by knowing the girl is smarter and maybe a bit braver.

Perhaps you’ll read my female lead, pursued in romance by her best friend, a woman as different from her as the stars are from the sea, and maybe you’ll root for them to vanquish their foes and fall deliriously in love. Maybe it’s Roxx or Trint. Or maybe you’ll meet a stranger to this planet, in physical form for the first time, discovering what it means to be a woman. Maybe Luce will be the one you don’t forget.

To be honest, I know I haven’t written that character yet. My writing is still improving enough weekly for me not to think it’s good enough. But that’s why I’m an author … because I’m determined to reach good. At the end of my life, I may have never written a character I’d love to have seen Bogie play, and maybe “Baby” was always too cool for any of my female leads, but dammit, I’m going to die trying.

Humphrey Bogart - in Casablanca, playing chess with Peter Lorre

Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, playing chess with Peter Lorre

Because I’m a writer; I may as well use it for something.

Background Work

I decided that the main character of the new book, Jeanne “Dark” D’Arc, owns a 1972 Renault Alpine. She is proudly, almost stubbornly French, and the year is special to her. Her personal symbol is the Ibis, which she had painted on her car. It is a clumsy bird, inelegant, until it can take flight. Having been injured by an accident in her teenage years, the same can be said for her.

I’ve learned that I can’t write a character properly until I “know” them. For short stories, that means grabbing the one thing that motivates them through the story. For longer stories (novelas, novelettes) I have a very brief sketch of who the main characters are. For novels, however, I get to channel my inner OCD. I have full character profiles that include any of the following items:

  • Name, date of birth, place of birth, zodiac sign
  • Parents, siblings
  • Genealogy up to 2-3 generations back
  • Full personality profile – Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), Brainstyles, psychological profile, quirks
  • Strengths and weaknesses (included in MBTI)
  • Loves, Hates, and oddities

I don’t really like spending years with a character who is exactly like everyone else you meet. Mainly, that is because I’ve never met anyone exactly like everyone else. I don’t reveal most of the above right away, and quite a bit I never include in the stories at all. However, they form the basis of the “personness” to me. Once I have them in my mind, it’s as easy to write from the character’s perspective as it would be to pen an essay about my mom. That’s as it should be. These characters are my kids.

Shouldn’t we be able to tell our kids apart?

Take Jeanne, for instance. In looking for classic French cars, I came across the Renault Alpine (above) and the 1959 Renault Floride. Now, I knew little of classic Renaults, but I knew the character was “created” while I was looking at a jazz video by Melody Gardot, and she would remain cool and elegant. She doesn’t like convention, and is an artist’s soul in a pragmatist’s body. So her choice of car would be something almost no one had. However, her pragmatism means that she rarely drives it, as parts are nigh-unto impossible to get. So, she owns a beautiful car, mainly as an occasional escape. Given it’s mostly a work of art, why not have it custom painted, to make it hers?

Who knows if the car (or her little mostly reproduction Floride) ever make it into the book? But I’ll know what she does on her weekends, and what car she’s in when she needs to head to a New England getaway. That’s what really matters, I think, that we know. It’s like telling a story to friends, where you leave out the “irrelevant” details. They will want to know the stuff you omit, based on the hints you’ve dropped. That’s how you keep them interested.

At least, that’s my theory. Who the hell knows if it works? Still, if you saw a pretty lady with a slight limp, large, dark sunglasses, wearing a hat and coat that looked as if she stepped out of a Humphrey Bogart movie, wouldn’t you be intrigued?

The Next Book, Day 1

They whisper to me, you know. Like auditory hallucinations, I can hear their breathing, inside my ear, their breathy words, their admonitions. Although they speak mostly gibberish, as if I were dreaming, it is their emotional content I recognize. She wants out, does Jeanne Dark. I begin to see the colors of her graphemes, and she screams for me to put them to paper. I can almost hear the sound the colors make, and the heady, gurgling pant of the numbers. She will never forget a number, because she can remember the color of their songs. She is insane, blindingly insane, because she manages to remain lucid in such a chimerical world. Surely, that is madness.

And dear Foss, the deep Mr. Cain, he has begun emerging in my dreams. He is more than whom I created, already. I see him in passersby. Today, at work, two African American men passed by. They were short, relatively speaking, no more than five foot seven or so. I thought of Foss, the massive six feet, four inches of him, and wondered if the men would have spoken to him were he lost in scowl-painted thought. He is bored, needs adventure, wants his turn.

Still, I keep him inside, with Dark. I can feel them clawing at me. No, it is more than that. I can feel the words; they burn, needing release. It hurts not to write them, my blue-balled determination to deny their freedom is failing. It hurts too much, and at times, I feel the need to weep. But tears would be a release. They would drip and bits of Dark’s story would come with them.

I keep her trapped, because the pain is her story. There is pain there. Perhaps she is trapped, like my imagination. Maybe that is why I will not write her. Too much of my writing is humor. My words reflect my thoughts, and I confess I see the brilliant comedy of stupidity that is the world. But Dark’s story is not humorous. She is capable of great joy – rather, causing it – but has felt little. Her world has been isolation. She hurts, but paints her face with false pleasantries. I would know none of this had I let her out.

So she will remain trapped a bit longer, until the words no longer fit inside. Perhaps it is foolishness to write so soon about writing. Maybe the ideas will be stolen. But it matters little. Dark sings only to me, and only I can write her lyrics. I begin to think there are young writers, those whom have never written a book, who would watch the process, as one would an accident laid out in super-slow motion. I will let them watch, feed their scorn, here, as I bleed on my keyboards. Already she has taken over it; I can feel her somber smile even in these few passages. Do they feel the undercurrent of her deep passion? Do they know how she yearns?

They will. I have found her cover art – the perfect photo of her shadowed self. Soon, Dark’s story will be written, the novel will be finished. …

And then, only then, it will be time to start.