The Third Viewfinder Story Progress – Problems on the Wall

This week's problems. I've blurred out anything that could be considered a spoiler.
This week’s problems. I’ve blurred out anything that could be considered a spoiler.

This week I’m reviewing all the chapters for story problems to solve. There are loops I need to close and story points I need to figure out. Many times I’ll come up with a good idea to add to the story but it’s unfocused or unfinished. I’ll add it then realize while editing that I never finished figuring it out.

Though I do everything in Scrivener, I decided to try writing down some of the more difficult problems on large sheet of paper I’d taped to the wall. I thought about using index cards but there is something very cool about seeing the questions on the wall like that.

It’s a simple idea and works well for me. I like how it helps keep the story problems percolating around.

 

April 2016 Junk Mail

Hey, how’s it going? This is a post of random tidbits that I do sometimes.

Tom Hiddleston is so gorgeous I can't even...
Tom Hiddleston with director Marc Abraham (4/1/16)

I saw Tom Hiddleston last night. Live. In person. He was doing a Q&A for I Saw The Light and came out to answer questions afterwards. Me and my friends were sitting in the FRONT ROW CENTER! And he was only a few feet away from me! If you want to see more pictures and a video I took, check out my Tumblr posts here and here.

I’m still working on the last Viewfinder story in the trilogy. I know, it’s been forever but I won’t stop until it’s done and until I’m really happy with it. Right now, I’m feeling really good about this story.  It’s very complex with lots of characters and threads.

I’m gearing up for the emotional devastation called Captain America: Civil War. I’ll be seeing an all Cap movie marathon (5 films) on opening night and seeing it again the following week with other friends. This movie is going to make me cry buckets!

I run a writing group every week called Shut Up & Write. You can find it on Meetup.org. I was recently promoted to City Manager of San Francisco and East Bay which means I help the organizers for those areas. It’s been quite a bit of work BUT I’ve been getting a ton of writing done.

I’m working on launching another blog, this one with non-erotic content. Basically it’s a place for me to post random things I’m interested in like movie reviews, places I visit, photos, things like that. I find myself putting that kind of stuff up on various social media channels anyway but would like it all in one place. I’ll link it here in a sidebar or something when it launches.

I’m going to TCAF with a friend in May! It’s going to be such a good time! I’ve never been to another con other than Yaoi-con so it will be really interesting to see what it’s like. I know, there won’t be any bishies running around taking off their clothes but I’m sure it’s still going to be super fun.

That’s it for now. Back to working on that Viewfinder story 🙂

Chris Evans Filmography: Puncture (Dirs. Kassen 2011)

Based on a real case
Based on a real case

I’ve been having fun learning about Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan by watching their filmographies.  As part of an ongoing series, I’ll be posting about some of their movies.

I finally watched Chris Evans in Puncture and really enjoyed it. It’s a flawed film but he’s riveting as a brilliant, relentlessly coked up/drugged up lawyer. I loved all the lawyering aspects since I spent so many years working in litigation.

Also, it seems like he’s shirtless in every other scene 🙂

 

Some of my favorite parts were when he was practicing his courtroom arguments with his drug friends.  You can see a bit of that in trailer below.

The case is about a nurse who was accidentally stuck with a needle and contracted a fatal disease. A friend of hers invented a needle that retracts after you use it, thereby minimizing these kinds of risks. Chris Evans plays Mike Weiss, a brilliant lawyer with serious problems. He decides to take on this case when he realizes that hospitals don’t want to provide these needles to their staff.

His performance is wonderful in this film
His performance is wonderful in this film

Seeing Chris Evans play Mike, who is constantly snorting coke and shooting up, took some getting used to but he does a fantastic job with this role. Mike is almost too far gone until this case brings him back from the brink.

I didn’t like the ending, it felt really abrupt to me, but it doesn’t retract from Chris Evans’ performance at all. Well worth seeing and as of today’s date, it’s available on Netflix.

Life as a Fangirl – My Ships: Stucky

Spoilers for Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Since I’m a fangirl, I thought I’d write some posts about my favorite ships. First up, Stucky!

Stucky is pairing from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Steve Rogers/Captain America, played by Chris Evans, and his best friend, James “Bucky” Barnes/Sargent Barnes/The Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan, make up this pairing.

Steve and Bucky
Steve asks Bucky if he’s ready to follow him back into battle. From Captain America: The First Avenger

A Late Start

I didn’t see Captain America: The Winter Soldier until at least four months after it had come out and Captain America: The First Avenger until just before I saw Winter Soldier. My good friends were swooning over Steve Rogers/James “Bucky” Barnes and I had no idea why.

Then I watched Winter Soldier.

Yeah, that was pretty much it for me. Like my friends, I was suddenly, totally, madly in love with this pairing and these two characters, especially Bucky for his tormented mind, body, and soul.

A Little Like Being in Love

Bucky and Steve2
Bucky is looking at Steve…like he’s the center of his entire universe. From Captain America: The First Avenger.

I couldn’t get enough of them and all I could think of was Bucky, Bucky, Bucky. All the damn time. It’s embarrassing now that I think about it. As I pointed out to a good friend on while camping one evening, it’s a little like being in love.  I’m fascinated by this character, the journey he’s on, and how he’ll turn out in the end.

I wasn’t as much into Steve Rogers or Chris Evans at first (notice I said, at first). Steve is a good man, very straightforward, always does the right thing but seemed a little bland to me though I really liked him in Winter Soldier. Then I was invited to join a Marvel group and am now in charge of posting pictures and information about Chris Evans (Sebastian Stan was already taken). In the year that I’ve been doing this I’ve really enjoyed learning about Chris, watching his films and writing about them. And I have a much better appreciation for Steve Rogers.

“Who the Hell is Bucky?”

What I love about this relationship is how these two are men out of time, they don’t really belong in this century, and the only thing they have from their previous lives is each other. Yet the circumstances of their individual experiences threatens their lifelong friendship. Even though Steve went into the ice and was frozen for 70 years, he basically came out with his morals and personality intact. Bucky, on the other hand, was modified, brainwashed, and tormented into The Winter Soldier, the world’s deadliest assassin. The questions this situation raises are fascinating:

  • Does Bucky really remember Steve?
  • Are they capable of loving and forgiving themselves and each other?
  • Even if Bucky does remember Steve, who is he now?

And, most important, are they capable of loving each other and sustaining a long-term relationship?

About Every Four Weeks

Since starting my obsession, I’ve been watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier about once a month though in June/July of last year I went for about two months without watching it. Each time I watch the entire film and usually watch all the Bucky scenes at least twice.

Even if I didn’t love Stucky so much I would still love this movie. It’s so well done, does a great job with expanding the characters, and has outstanding action/fight sequences. One of my favorite scenes is the elevator scene.

Stucky has also introduced me to new things. For example, I never read much fanfiction (even though I write Finder fanfiction(!)) until one night I decided I needed more Stucky than I was getting and cracked open AO3 (Archive of Our Own) on my phone. I absolutely love reading Stucky fics and will write a future post about my favorite recs.

Captain America: Civil War

I pretty much cried when I watched this trailer.
I pretty much cried when I watched this trailer.

Needless to say, I CAN’T wait to see Civil War. The directors, the Russo Brothers, have assured us that this movie is about Steve and goes into his relationship with Bucky. I do hope that’s true. It seems the cast, including Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan, are proud of it which is a really good sign.

I’m sure I’m going to bawl my head off when I finally see it.

Yaoi Manga Review: Seven Days

General Information

I finally finished reading Seven Days by Venio Tachibana (story) and Rihito Takarai (artist). Seven Days is a two volume yaoi manga put out by Juné and has been licensed and released in English. Volume one is Seven Days Monday – Thursday and volume two is Seven Days Friday – Sunday. This manga is a love story, more of a shounen ai or romance in that there’s no explicit sex.

ray of sunshine :)
4 out of 5 stars

The  premise is Touji Seryou, the most popular guy in school, will go out with anyone who asks him on Monday but if he doesn’t fall in love after seven days, he will break up with them. Yuzuru Shino, our protagonist and Seryou’s sempai at the archery club, is also popular due to his refined good looks but girls always break up with him because they find his personality disappointing. On an impulse, Yuzuru asks Seryou out on Monday morning and is accepted.

Shino asks Seriyou out on Monday morning.

Impressions

This is a sweet story and I really enjoyed it. I found both characters engaging and the story goes into their frustrations at constantly being taken at face value based on how they look. As they start to develop feelings for each other, they try to laugh off each attempt to get closer as a misunderstanding.

The story is fairly light and has a gentle quality about it. Both boys are navigating their feelings, the looming seven day deadline, dealing with day-to-day school life (all the girls hanging around!), and having to hide the fact that they are dating. The story touches very lightly on the difficulties they would experience if anyone found about about their relationship.

Artwork

I really enjoyed the artwork. It has a sketchy quality but not in a distracting way. The boys are drawn well and their beauty really shines through.

Overall

I would definitely recommend this yaoi manga. It’s available at Amazon.

Also, while writing this post I found out that there’s a live action movie based on it! Whoa! Here’s a link to an article that goes into more detail and has photos. I have not watched it yet but will definitely do so

| Filed under BLOG/NEWS, Manga | 2 Comments

Living In The Tower

The Ferry Building along the Embarcadero in San Francisco is a foodie paradise.
The Ferry Building along the Embarcadero in San Francisco is a foodie paradise.

Last year I went with a friend to see the Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit Concert. My friend and I took a break from the music to look for something to eat and she asked me a very interesting question:

Have I ever felt like I wasn’t seeing how most people really live because I live in a city?

It’s an odd question but I knew exactly what she was talking about. I told her I felt this idea was true BUT only if you can afford to live in a city, especially San Francisco. If you can afford to live in a good neighborhood here then, yeah, your view of how other people live might be skewered.

I had no idea how skewered my view of day-to-day life was until I really started getting into yaoi and connecting with people. Fact is, my beloved San Francisco is like living in the cornocopia but only if you have enough resources. Everything I do: eating, entertainment, working, my neighborhood, my apartment, shopping, all comes from an advantageous place. None this was handed to me. I’ve worked my ass off to get to get here and almost lost everything during the economic downturn but it’s still easy to assume everyone lives like me.

They don’t. People live in more economically repressed areas, they have less resources, and I’m not just talking about money, I’m talking about everything. And I’m including the many people who live in San Francisco.

Divider

Sometimes I think of living here as being in The Tower. Even the simplest, more basic things like eating are taken to amazing levels. This place is a foodie paradise and sometimes I get to partake in the bounty. Sure, I can talk about wine and restaurants and how much I love oysters but there are people who can’t even relate to that shit. I’m like the princess in The Tower who stares at herself in the mirror all day, thinking everyone is like me.

Not everyone gets to eat like I do. Not everyone gets to enjoy the diversity of people who are around me all day long. Not everyone gets to enjoy the city, culture, and the beach that are right outside my door.

Divider

One of the greatest benefits of loving yaoi is I have regular exposure to all different kinds of people from all over the world. People who have less than me and some who have more. I love that I know people from different countries with different outlooks and who have a different way of life. I love knowing people who are younger than me.

All of this regular exposure has made me a  broader person, I think. Sometimes I think I have a broader outlook than many of my peers, particularly the people I work with.

Knowing people in this way allows me to come out of my Tower. And it’s taught me that I’m not going to learn these things from people who are like me. I know all this on an abstract level but it wasn’t until I got to know people who love yaoi that I really started to understand it.

Ditching People on Twitter

Narrowing

I started out with a specific goal when I launched this website and that is make money from selling my own stories. In this quest for the all important book sale (which I’m years away from as of right now), I’ve systematically narrowed my life so I can place most of my focus there. Though I mention making book sales, I don’t have anything to sell right now but every decision I’ve made so far: launching this website, being on social media, etc. was solely made to advance book sales down the road. Even if it was waaayy down the road. I’ve mentioned a few times that I did a “soft” launch of this website by writing fanfiction and posting it on a regular schedule. Eventually, if people liked it, I might do the same with original fiction and maybe even sell it.

That’s the far term vision/goal.

I’ve been doing this for almost two years and this vision/goal is full of shit. This isn’t why I’m here, I’m realizing. Is there any wonder that I’ve been feeling that things aren’t quite right with me and what I’m doing? Is there a reason why I keep talking about this stuff? You know, reach out with your hand, enjoy the ride. What I’m saying, feeling and what I’m doing are different.

Following

A while ago I unfollowed a bunch of people on Twitter.

When I first got on Twitter, I started following a bunch of writers. I figured I could watch what others are doing, get some ideas, read some blog posts, engage in community. I enjoy some of the writers I follow but the contradictory articles and advice was wearing me down. On top of that, most of the advice doesn’t seem to be working. Sure, someone might have tens of thousands of followers but is there any real engagement there? How many people is that person actually talking to? Also, I was tired of some authors who seem to have all their shit on auto tweet and barely respond to your comments.

I enjoy wandering through the Twitter timeline, liking, commenting on tweets, and retweeting. I don’t follow back automatically and I sure as shit don’t retweet everyone’s stuff. I mean, this isn’t Tumblr where reblogging and enjoying other people’s awesome content is how we like to spend our time there.

That’s one of the major differences between Twitter and Tumblr. On Twitter, you might get really awesome content about 40% of the time due to the scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours mentality. On Tumblr, it’s more like 85-90% of the time and that’s because I’m following good friends and completely awesome fandom stuff.

I follow another bunch of people on Twitter who I count as real friends. We talk to each other all day long, share things, and hang out elsewhere. Maybe it’s because I have this group of friends and being in this community, a real one not some facsimile of one, is such a sharp contrast to what I experience that it’s making me feel disillusioned about the situation.

The thing about Twitter that bugs me is most of my followers, other than my good friends, don’t really engage with me. They rarely like or retweet my stuff and they rarely comment. Hell, they don’t even notice the stuff I tweet (probably because I’ve been muted or are on a barely seen list somewhere). There are two exceptions to this that I can think of off the top of my head. The truth is the only time these people engage with me is because I’ve commented on a tweet of theirs. We might get into a short conversation and that’s it until I comment on another tweet of theirs. I’ve been getting a slow but steady stream of followers and I believe the only reason why is because they see me talking to people.

I spent about five seconds being apprehensive about putting this blog post on Twitter but you know what? None of those people are going to even notice that I’ve written a blog post so it doesn’t matter.

Ditching

I had a medical scare not too long ago which is probably what’s fueling this post. I’ve been wondering what the hell I’ve been doing. I have no doubts about my stories. Gay romance and sex stories continue to be the right place for me to be. Instead, I’ve been wondering why I’ve been spending so much time on Twitter with people who don’t even notice my tweets and less time on Tumblr where awesome, squee-worthy content is flying by faster than the speed of light AND most of my good friends are there. I mean I could be spending my valuable time swooning over gifs of Sebastian Stan/The Winter Soldier and his pretty blue eyes and Hamlet_Machine’s beautiful Stucky art.

This is just indicative of the larger problem I’m starting to see and that is this is not about sales so I need to stop making decisions based on that. This is about love, plain and simple. Love of my characters, their love for each other, and the things I love. I need to go back to the original place where I started: I’m not a very good writer but I love my stories and characters, and if I’m lucky, I’ll gain enough writing skill so you, the reader, can see some of that love.

Maybe I’ll never sell a book. Maybe I won’t even try. One thing I do know is there’s no room in my writing life articles on how to get sales.

Mid-Sept 2015 Junk Mail

How are you all doing?

I wanted to do a check-in, let you know how things are going.

I am still working on this third Finder story and it’s driving me nuts! Fortunately, next week is Yaoi-Con and I will see my beta reader there. I hope to have a good long talk with her about it and unclog some of the places where I’m stuck.

Yes, next week is Yaoi-Con and I will be playing host to a bunch of friends who will be coming. I’m sooo excited! And I will be posting pictures here.

I’m feeling much better overall. No weird symptoms and my energy level seems to be good other than the occasional sleepless night which may or may not be partly caused by reading too many Stucky fics 😉

I’ve been decluttering my small apartment and making very good process. I generally live in a cluttered space so having some room to breathe is really good for me.

The weather here in San Francisco is really weird. Two days ago it was 95 degrees F and now the fog is in and it’s 65 degrees F and chilly.

Lastly, I’m on Instagram (cpow_sf) and really enjoying it. I never thought this app would be so much fun but it does make me think a little differently taking pictures.

Street in my neighborhood. Via my Instagram (cpow_sf)
Street in my neighborhood. Via my Instagram (cpow_sf)

Rodney

“Sam I Am, do you ever go home?” Dan is leaning on my cubicle taking off his tie.  He’s also a Database Administrator though with less years of experience.  I swivel in my chair and glare at him.  It’s 5:30pm and most people have left for the day.

“Don’t call me that.”  Plenty of kids called me that when I was growing up but hearing Dan address me as “Sam I Am” has been bugging the shit out of me.

“You need a girlfriend or wife, Sam I Am.  You’re what, thirty-two?  You’re actually kind of good-looking even if you are an asshole but girls don’t care. They like pretty men who make good money.”  Dan moves to the right and I tense up, shoulders and neck tightening.

“Stop saying I’m pretty.” I say this through clenched teeth. “And I don’t need to hear your advice about women so fuck off.” My voice is too loud. He looks at me, eyebrows raised, then glances at the cubicle to my right and moves away from it.  None of us have talked about that empty cubicle.  The guy who used to sit there died recently.  People have been avoiding it like the plague.

Dan frowns, pushing his too long blonde hair away from his face.  “You know, Sam I Am, me and the guys, we’ve noticed you’ve been bitchy lately.  Even more than usual if you can believe that.  I was thinking you should come out with us, have a couple of beers.  You’re wound way too tight.”

I stare at him, letting the silence stretch out.  Dan is annoying because he’s always trying to engage me in conversation.  In fact, most of the guys in his group have been trying to talk to me, a major change.  Before they left me alone while they had lunch together and went out after work.  I’m used to being left alone.  In fact, I prefer it so this change is disconcerting.

I lean forward.  “I appreciate the offer but lot of work has to be done while you and the boys are out getting tanked so if you’ll excuse me I’ll get back to it.”

“Suit yourself but you’re wasting away here.  I’ll check in with you tomorrow,” he says, glancing again at the empty cubicle next to me.

“You really don’t have to do that.”  My tone is rude but he doesn’t seem to notice.

“See you later.” He smiles.  He has too many white teeth crowding his mouth.  No matter what I say he keeps coming back.  He leaves, whistling some nameless tune, his tie swinging from his hand.

The 17th floor is a huge maze of putty colored cubicles that seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, a giant cluster of programmers, database administrators, and the like.  Most of the decision makers are on other floors but the real work happens here.

There’s always someone around even if you can’t see them.  Tonight I’m slogging away at a complex database roll out.  I have difficulty listening to music with lyrics while working because I get distracted so I usually listen to classical music. I could let myself listen to songs with lyrics during certain times, like when I’m inputting standardized information but that might give everyone the impression that I’m slacking off.  I refuse to slack off even at 9:57 at night.

I say I’m used to being alone but that’s not true.  Up until a few weeks ago, I did have a friend here. Or something like that. We’d bonded quickly when we went off-site for 24 hours to work on an emergency project for a client.  We knew each other before but never spent much time together; we had the same job and most projects require only one of us.  A couple of weeks after we returned, management reorganized some of the work groups and he moved into the cubicle next to me.

He’s the one who died recently.  He’d been a really friendly guy so when we got the news of his death it had a major impact on our department and the company.  He died in a car crash involving a semi truck.  When I heard he was gone, I tuned out. I didn’t want to hear the details. People kept trying to get me to talk about it, even the boss, but I refused.  At the funeral I didn’t speak to anyone at all.

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I keep having weird dreams. Mostly of an old movie that I can’t seem to finish. It starts flickering then goes dark about three quarters of the way through. I probably wouldn’t even remember it if I wasn’t having the dream every night. The last few nights have been even weirder. I’ve been waking up with tears on my face but I don’t know why.

I’m compiling some reports for tomorrow when I hear the inevitable footsteps on beige carpet coming down the narrow cubicle corridor.  Crap.  Someone always has to be here.  I save my work.  The footsteps stop just outside my cubicle.  I feel a wave of coldness; it feels like a walk-in freezer door opened up behind me.  I wonder what the hell is going on and swivel around in my chair.

I stare.

In front of me is none other than Rodney, the guy who died.  He’s standing a few feet away, just looking at me.

“Uh.” I can’t get any words out.  I take a sharp breath and my shoulders tense up.  I wait for him to disappear or fade but he looks as real as any live person.  My heart is pounding and my brain is screaming at me to wake up.  I blink a couple of times trying to clear the impossible image.  It doesn’t work.  I consider turning my back but there’s a dead person standing in front of me and no one in their right mind would give them their back, not in an enclosed space.

Rodney keeps looking at me.  He looks normal enough.  Tall with the same dark skin, deep dark eyes, and short cropped hair. I swallow. A lump is gathering in my throat and though he has a blank look on his face, his eyes are still…well, they’re still beautiful.

“Uh. Hey, Rod,” I say. I wait for him to respond but he just stands there. He’s wearing his work clothes of khaki chinos, blue button down shirt, and navy blue tie though they look slightly rumpled.  Rodney tilts his head, a familiar movement he does when he’s paying attention to what you’re saying, and walks forward into my cubicle.  I stand up, spilling my almost full water bottle all over the keyboard and back up against the desk. I should be happy to see him but something is really wrong with him.  As he gets closer, the air gets even colder.  It hurts inhale.  He stops about a foot away and I can smell him, a viscid smell of muck that brings up an image of fresh earth being shoveled onto a coffin.  The image of clumps of dirt hitting the coffin lid, burying it forever, freaks me out. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up and then things really go to shit.

Rodney grabs my wrist in an iron grip.   His hand feels solid but it also feels wrong, like a piece of cold meat has latched onto me.  His body wrenches forward, slamming me against the desk. He grabs me around the back of the neck with his other hand and leans towards me.

I think, is he going to…KISS ME? I panic and push him with all my strength. He loosens his grip on me and I shove him aside. I almost make it out of my cubicle and…BAM!!! CRUNCH!! I slam face first to the floor, stars flashing before my eyes.  Rodney, that dead bastard, has tripped me.  I get up quickly even though my nose is bleeding and hurting like hell.  I move fast enough so he can’t grab me then I stumble out of the cubicle, yelling all the while.

“Rod-neeee!! What is your fucking PROBLEM?!!” I’m yelling at the top of my lungs and Rodney flickers like an old movie.

I stand there, gaping. Remnants of my dream come rushing at me: The flickering image I can’t really see and the blackness after the image disappears.

I shudder then turn and run as fast as I can down the seemingly endless corridor of cubicles.  I hear a weird thumping noise behind me.  I know I shouldn’t but I turn around anyway, and I see Rodney flickering in the fluorescent light. He’s looking at me, eyes not blinking, and with a weird leap he runs towards me with long, stiff strides.  I run to a corridor on the left and then the right but I can hear Rodney behind me getting closer, the loud thump, thump of his landing feet.  I almost reach the door and Rodney grabs me, yanking me backwards. I slam up against the tall cubicle wall. He grips my throat, squeezing hard.  “R-Rodney…S-Stop,” my voice chokes out as I pull and pull on his arm then everything goes dark.  Something rises up.  A memory.

“Sam I Am?  Is it okay if I call you that?” I’m sitting at a big table full of papers and two laptops.  Rodney and I in the client’s conference room in the middle of our 24 hour emergency project.

“Sure, it’s okay.  No one’s called me that since my best friend did when I was in high school.”

Rodney laughs, his eyes twinkling.  “Well, that’s a good sign, isn’t it?”  I remember thinking to myself that it was a very good sign.

We’re smiling and I realize we are looking at each other for too long. Rodney’s smile starts to fade and the twinkle in his eyes is replaced with something else.

“You have…pretty eyes, Sam I Am. They’re very blue.”

I look away. I’m starting to blush. “Um, thanks. Girls tell me they like them.”

“Girls must like all of you,” he said. He is looking at me differently. I wonder briefly if he’s gay then push that idea away. It doesn’t matter.

I look down and push back my chair. “I need to, um, take a break.” I get up and walk past him.

He grabs my arm. “It’s all right, Sam I Am.”

“What?”

“There’s nothing to worry about or be afraid of.” He slides his hand down to my wrist. It’s warm and feels strong and reassuring.

I don’t know how to respond so I just look down at him.

“We’re good,” he says, nodding. He is still looking into my eyes.

“Uh, okay.” I gently pull my arm away but the warmth of his hand lingers.

The memory slips away and I open my eyes.  I’m the passenger seat of a car. My nose doesn’t hurt.  I touch it carefully.  I take several deep breaths, enjoying the air.

“Hey, you okay?” I turn slowly at the voice and yep, it’s fucking Rodney. He’s driving the car and looks normal.  He’s still wearing the khaki chinos, the blue button down, and navy tie.

“Uh, yeah.  What happened?  Did I fall asleep?” I cover my surprise and decide the best tactic is to let things calm down while I figure out what’s going on.

“Must have.  Sounded like you were dreaming,” he says.

“Right.  A dream.” I take another deep breath and look around the car.  We’re in Rodney’s black BMW 3 Series Coupe.  I’ve been in his car a few times before.  “What time is it?”

“3:20 in the morning.  He keeps his eyes on the road. “See the clock on the dash?”

“What am I doing in your car at 3:20 am?” I glance sideways at him.  He still looks normal. And, because he’s treating me like a friend, it seems like this is taking place before we went to the movies a couple months ago.

“You don’t remember?  We went out and I’m taking you home now.  Hey, do you mind if I put on some music?”

“No, play what you want.” He presses the button on the stereo and sounds of “Romanze,” the second movement from Piano Concerto No. 20 float over us.  A shiver runs up my spine. “Why are we out so late?” My words are coming out slowly. “And since when did you start listening to Mozart?”  Rodney hates classical music.  He used to give me crap about it all the time.

“It’s the only CD in the car.  The radio reception is lousy around here, and I seem to have misplaced my phone.  As for us going out, I managed to get you out of that cubicle hellhole for a change.  We went out for drinks.”  He glances at me.  “You don’t remember?”

“Ah, I remember you getting me out of the cubicle but the rest is a little fuzzy.  I must have had one too many, right?”

Rodney laughs.  “I told you not to throw so many back, Sam I Am.  It’s a good thing I’m driving.”

I look at him, waiting for him to return the look. He does and his smile is friendly but…that’s all.

“Are we…in a dream?”

“What?” He looks at me quizzically.

“I just feel like this is a dream or something. Maybe I’m dreaming of a different timeframe. An earlier one.” I’m watching him carefully.

“Earlier than what?” He’s clearly confused.

“Um, never mind. I’m just really tired and don’t know what I’m talking about,” I say. I look forward again deciding to drop the matter.

I take the opportunity to look around.  We’re driving on a straight dark road.  The road is empty, no stoplights, no signs, nothing.  There are no lights, no cars, hell there aren’t even any divider lines.  Nothing but the black asphalt and the car headlights.  I look behind us. It’s pitch black outside.  I can’t even see the stars.

A dark unease settles over me.  I draw back in the tan leather seat like you do when the driver gets too close to the car in front of you.  “Where are we?”

“I’m taking you home like I said.” Rodney seems to be concentrating really hard on the road.

“But…I live in the city and it looks like we’re out in the middle of nowhere.” I look out the window again.

“You don’t have to worry about that, Sam I Am.”

“Why not?  You know where I live.”

“Yes but you still don’t have to worry about it.”  He smiles, his lips stretching wide, showing most of his teeth. “There is no city here, Sam I Am.  There never was.”

“STOP THE CAR!” I yell.  I’m sweating, hoping he’ll do what I say.

The car screeches to a stop, right smack in the middle of the road.  Rodney sits staring straight ahead.  I wait for him to say something but he keeps his eyes forward. The tender strains of the piano from the Romanze plays in the background. It’s the section where one key at a time is playing.

“Rodney? You okay?”

“Sure, Sam I Am.  You asked me to stop so I did.”  I can’t figure him out. Why is he staring straight ahead like that?  There’s nothing in front of us, just the empty black asphalt that seems to stretch into forever.

“Um, I think I’m going to get out of the car now.”

He looks at me, surprised. “You don’t want me to take you home?”

“Nah, I’ve been a pain enough as it is.  I’ll be fine.”

“I’d like it if you stayed longer. It’s tiring driving this car all the time.” He smiles at me and I feel a familiar warmth.  He glances forward. “Oh.  Looks like that’s not a good idea.  Thanks for letting me take you home.”

“You didn’t take me home. No offense,” I add quickly.

“What I meant was thanks for riding with me.”  He looks forward again.  I look out the front windshield and see the glow of headlights in the distance.

“You need to get out of the car now, Sam I Am,” says Rodney, not taking his eyes off the lights.

“What?” I unbuckle my seat belt.  He looks relaxed, serene even.  The dark unease turns to a slow panic.  Something is nudging me, a feeling of coldness. “Why don’t you get out of the car too?  We can go back together, both of us.  You know?  You don’t have to keep driving on this stupid road.”

He smiles, still looking ahead, then he turns off the music. “I can’t do that, Sam I Am.  I have to keep going.  It’s the way things are.”  The car is still sitting in the middle of the road.  I look at the oncoming headlights again.

“Rodney, get out of the car with me.” I open the door, throwing it wide.  “Come on.” He’s still smiling and for a moment his expression makes me think of what he must have looked like when he was a kid.  His face is wistful and open, like he’s looking at something filling him with a quiet wonder.  I lean over him, trying to unbuckle the seat belt.

“I really appreciate this but there’s no more time,” he says.

“I’m not leaving without you!” I glance at the rapidly approaching headlights and it’s a fucking semi, of course.  How could it be anything else?

“Sam I Am.”  His voice is quiet.  I look at him, trying to stretch out the moment.

“I can’t…leave you.  Not like this,” I say, my throat tightening.

He touches my cheek, sending a shiver through me. “It’s fine. Everything is going to be all right.”

I take a sudden breath. “You…remember?”

He’s about to reply when the horn sounds.  I lean over him to unlock his door but he grabs my wrist with that inhuman strength.

“I’m really sorry, Sam I Am,” he says and he shoves me out of the car.  I fly out and land on the side of the road, the hard ground bruising my hip. The driver of the semi has applied his brakes and the tires are screeching on the asphalt.  The sound of the semi’s horn is really loud, its headlights flooding the road and then it smashes into Rodney’s BMW.  I roll myself into a ball to avoid the metal and glass that flies everywhere and there’s a terrible squealing of metal on metal.  The semi slides sideways and both vehicles go over the side of the road.  There’s a momentary silence and then the deafening sound of the crash.  I lay on the side of the road, my arms wrapped around my head.  The alarm from Rodney’s Bimmer has gone off but stops after a few seconds.  All I can hear is the sound of my own whimpering and a regular squeak, squeak that’s slowly winding down.  I sit up and everything shifts, taking on a faraway feeling.  I feel like I’m underwater.

It takes me a few moments to realize the squeaking sound must be one of the truck’s tires still spinning.  I close my eyes, clenching my teeth.  Another memory comes back to me.

“Uh. Hey, Rod,” I say.  Rodney is leaning against my cubicle entrance.

“Sam I Am, you work way too many hours.  This job isn’t worth it.”

“There’s too much to much to do.  I have three deadlines next week.”  I’m usually annoyed when people bother me but Rodney has been sitting next to me for more than two weeks and I have to admit I’m enjoying his interruptions.

“Well, I think you should leave soon.  In fact, I think you should leave now.  With me.  So we can go to a movie.  It starts in,” he consults his watch, “about a half hour so we have to go.”

“What?”

“Look, I know you’re Mr. Anti-Social but you’re getting out of this cubicle and going to the movie with me.”  There’s a stubborn set to his jaw I was starting to recognize.

“What movie are we seeing?”

“Who the fuck cares?  Just get your ass up so we can get out of here.”

I open my eyes again, tears streaming down my face.  The faraway feeling dissipates and I walk to the other side of the road, my shoes crunching on the broken glass.  I stare down at the wreckage.  They’re both dead, of course.  Rodney died in a car crash that killed both drivers.  There were no passengers.  I take in the twisted metal bodies facing each other in some weird illusion of intimacy.  One of the truck’s headlights is still on. I think about Rodney’s serene look just before he shoved me out of the car.  I collapse to my knees clenching my teeth. I can’t stop the streaming tears.  Something inside the heart of me breaks open and spills out, a rush of emotion and then a torrent.

“Why didn’t you come with me?  You could have told me about your childhood.  I would have listened to all your dumb jokes. WHY DIDN’T YOU COME WITH ME, RODNEY?!!!!”

But there is no answer to my questions and I’m alone, as usual.

I stare down at the two vehicles for what seems like a very long time until they start to flicker.  When I get up to leave, there’s no glass on the road. I don’t bother looking back at the wreck because I know it’s not there anymore.

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We’d been driving along a paved one way road in the rolling hills outside the city.  I’d managed to walk to the highway by the time the sun came up and got a ride back into town.  When I walked into my sparsely furnished apartment, I looked around.  It seemed that much more empty, devoid of feelings.  For the first time I understood what my ex-girlfriend meant when she told me I was spending too much time in isolation.  I open my living room curtains and stare out at the apartments across the way. The light from the rising dawn is tinged with pink. I sigh as another memory comes back to me. This one happened a couple of weeks after he moved into the cubicle next to me.

I’m sitting in my apartment. I’d just gotten home and flopped down on the couch. It’s after 10:30 pm. My phone rings but I don’t recognize the number.

“Hello?” I sound tentative.

“Sam I Am.”

It’s late, I’m tired, but I smile anyway. “Rodney. Why are you calling me?” I sit up, turning serious. “Is everything all right?”

“Yeah, everything is fine. Hope you don’t mind if I call you on your work phone. Are you at home? I figured you had to be done with work by now.”

“Uh, yeah. If you thought I was working late, why didn’t you call me there?”

“I don’t want to talk to you at work, Sam I Am. I want to talk to you like you’re a normal person, not some drone.”

I laugh and rub my eyes.

“Okay, Rodney. What can I do for you?”

“Ha! You can do a lot of things for me, Sam, but for now I’ll settle for hearing your voice.”

My face is heating up. “Wait a minute. Have you been drinking? It sounded almost like…like…”

“Like what?” I can hear the smile in his voice.

“Like you’re…flirting with me,” I say. I squeeze my eyes shut. “Wow. That sounded really dumb.”

“Not dumb, Sam I Am.” His voice softens. “If you think I’m flirting with you then you probably need it.”

I’d protested weakly then we talked about other things. We were on the phone for over an hour that first time. Subsequent calls became more frequent and always seemed to take place just before bedtime.

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I called in sick and then tried to sleep but couldn’t so I showered and was at the used CD store before they opened the doors.  I bought every CD I could remember Rodney listening to and probably some he hadn’t heard of.  I spent the rest of the day wandering around the city.

Th 24 hour emergency project happened about four months ago. The boss had gotten the call after 4:00 pm from the client begging for help.  He’d grabbed Rodney because he happened to be walking by his office and then they’d asked me to join them.  The next couple of hours had been a whirlwind of planning, going over the client’s account, running home, and packing.  Rodney and I had flown out that night on the redeye. We’d spent most of the 24 hours holed up in one of the client’s conference rooms, cranking out emergency database customizations.  After a couple of hours together we started talking about things other than work.  He’d told me about growing up in a big family and how he got his job.  I told him, well, not much at first but he was persistent so I told him a little about myself.  Mostly about school and how much I hated it.  We started relaxing around each other after that and I have to admit we were laughing about the stupid, silly things you laugh at when you haven’t had any sleep.  We’d gone back our hotel rooms when the project was done and slept.  When I woke up, he’d called asking if we could meet for breakfast.  I thought he wanted to talk more about the project but we never did.  Instead, we talked about ourselves and our lives.  I was sorry when that breakfast was over.

When we boarded the plane, we fairly pleaded with the steward to let us sit together but the flight was full.  He was sitting four rows behind me.  He kept getting up even when he wasn’t supposed to so he could talk to me.  When the plane reached cruising altitude, we’d hung out near the back so we could continue our conversation.  I hadn’t bonded with someone like that in a long time.

I don’t like feeling this way because those feelings vanish after you go back to “the real world.”  For a couple of days after, Rodney would pass me and make a comment that would set us both laughing again.  This gave me hope but he started backing away from me and then two weeks later he was barely acknowledging my existence, behaving as though we’d never spent 24 hours talking to each other and laughing like sleep deprived idiots.

I thought that was it but then he’d shown up with a box of his stuff and moved into the cubicle next to me.  I remember the first time he leaned over our common cubicle wall.  For some reason, we’d looked each other for a few moments, smiling.  I felt like I was at summer day camp and I’d just met a really cool kid.

“What the fuck are you listening to, Sam I Am?”

“Wolfgang.” I’d laughed, turning up the volume on Mozart’s Symphony No. 25.

“You need to start listening to music from this decade or even from this century.”

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I go to work the next day and stay late.

“Sam, hey, you weren’t here yesterday.  Were you sick or something?”  I glance up at Dan.  He’s looking at me differently, all of them seem to be.  Or maybe I’m looking at them in a different way.

“Not really.  Just needed a break.”  I should be annoyed with his questions but I’m not.

“You, the workaholic, needing a break?  That’s a first.” Dan is looking at me closely now.  “How about we go grab a quick bite or a drink?”

“Not tonight but tomorrow for sure.”  I think for the first time I might actually mean it.

“Okay, sounds good.  Don’t work too hard,” he says, glancing back at me before walking out.

As I said before there’s always someone around even if you can’t see them.  Sure enough, a couple of hours later I hear the steps coming down the cubicle corridor.  They stop behind me.  The air temperature drops.  I swivel slowly in my chair.

“Hey, Rod.  It’s good to see you.  Do you think we can skip the zombie part and get to the car? If we go to there now we’ll have more time.”  Rodney cracks a smile and the corners of his mouth start to split.  He’s still in zombie Rodney mode but when he turns to walk stiffly down the maze of cubicles, I follow.  We stop at the end of the row and he grabs my wrist.  His hand is ice cold. I brace myself, waiting, but then…

I’m back in the car.  I glance at the dash.  It’s 3:11 am and everything is normal.  Rodney is staring intently at the dark road.  “It’s good you’re here again, Sam I Am.  Thanks for coming by.”

“Uh, yeah, I’m happy to.  Here, I have something for you.” I show him the CDs I bought.

“Whoa!  That’s great. Thanks a lot. They’ll come in handy.”  The road is still just black asphalt and Bimmer headlights.  I put the CDs in the glove box.

“Long drive?”

“Yeah, but I don’t mind.”

We seem to be in the same timeframe, before everything happened. I just decide to go with it.

“You must get bored.”

Rodney smiles. “It’s never boring when you’re here.”

Again, that warm feeling. I take a slow breath hoping I’m not blushing.

We’re silent now and I think how I should fill that silence with information about the world, maybe the news because we’re running out of time but I don’t.  None of that seems important.

“Don’t worry about it, Sam I Am.”

“Don’t worry about what?”

“About making anything better or easier for me.  I’m fine with the way things are.  You’ve done more than enough with those CDs.”

“I just wish there was more time but not pressured time like this.  Regular time, work time.  It doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles or extra special.  Just…ordinary.”  I close my eyes.  I’m sounding overly sentimental.  It’s embarrassing.

I open them again and my words start spilling out. “And I don’t know why I’m saying all this crap to you. I don’t have the right to even have this time with you, especially here.”  Rodney is still staring straight ahead, focused on the road.

“I don’t understand it.  I don’t know what the fuck I’m trying to —”

“Shut up,” he says. He says it without anger or agitation.  He says it gently.

I look out the passenger window into the night.  Tears are welling up in my eyes.  I’m even more embarrassed, so much so that when I should be looking at Rodney and taking in all the details of these last few minutes, I can’t.

“Sam I Am, you really need to get over yourself.  You’re here, I’m here.  Just relax.” I can see his reflection in the passenger window.  He’s looking at me.

“I can’t relax, Rodney.” My voice sounds watery and tight.

“Sam, look at me,” he says, “Come on.”

I shake my head, still facing the window glass.  I blink rapidly and swallow trying to hold back the onslaught.

“Sam I Am, it’s almost 3:20.”  His voice is soft again.  I look at him now, tears streaming down my face.

“It’s not FUCKING fair, Rodney.  Why now?  Why when we were just starting…something?  Why did this have to happen NOW?!!”  Dammit, I’m crying again.  I wipe my eyes with the heels of my hands.

“I’m sorry,” he says. For the first time I can see that he’s sad.

“It’s not your fault!” I feel stupid again because I realize he doesn’t know why I’m upset. I try to breathe normally, trying to relax my shoulders.  I wipe my eyes and look out the front windshield.

The semi’s lights have just appeared on horizon.  Rodney stops the car in the middle of the road.

I begin breathing hard.  It’s an audible sound like I’m gasping for breath.  I glance at the clock.  3:21 am.  I look at him and I see that he’s happy.  I take a deep breath and the tension slips away.  He smiles at me.  And this is what it comes down to.  No formal declarations, no grandiose announcements, no speeches about the meaning of life, or secrets imparted.  It’s just me and my friend, smiling at each other for the last time.

“Do you…do you want me to take a message back to someone for you?”

“No, but thanks for asking,” he says. He stares at me for too long again then he reaches out, grabbing me behind my neck and I move towards him. It’s a natural movement, like breathing. We kiss and it feels as easy and right as it did the first time.

His lips are warm and soft, and I open my mouth up to his tongue. I sigh and he presses closer to me. When the kiss ends we lean against each other, touching foreheads.

“Now you know why you’re here,” Rodney says. He kisses me on the cheek.

“Um, isn’t there a truck coming?”

“Yes, but if we stay this way things are kind of…delayed for a short time.”

“You said that in the movie theater.”

“And it was true there too,” he says.

When we’d gone to the movies together, we were the only people in the audience. Rodney kept looking at me and when I finally returned his gaze, he’d traced his fingertips along my cheek. All kinds of alarms should have gone off but I just kept looking at him. He’d smiled and then kissed me. It was the first time I’d ever kissed a man, or even thought about it. I was surprised at how true and real it felt. I was even more surprised when I’d settled in his arms, responding to his passion. He’d asked me to come home with him but I’d said no. I’d told him I needed time to process what had happened and get used to the idea. The next two weeks were crazy busy for us both. We didn’t really talk much, except for short phone calls before bed but I told him I wanted to spend more time like that if we could go slow. He had agreed happily.

Our first date had been low key. We’d gone to dinner then went for a long walk. We were supposed to go to the movies again but just kept talking to each other. At the end of the evening, I’d let him kiss me again. The feeling of being in his arms made me want more but I’d held back. We spent the rest of the week talking to each other every night, sending texts, and planning to get together on the weekend.

He’d died the night before we were supposed to meet. He’d been with a friend from out of town and had taken him to the coast that day, dropping him off at a hotel. He’d sent me a text saying he was really looking forward to seeing me the next day. It was the last time I heard from him.

I kiss him deeply, not holding back. He lets out a soft sigh then pulls away. His eyes are closed and he’s breathing hard. He shakes his head, opening his eyes. “You’re a really good kisser, Sam I Am, but you need to leave.”

“I don’t want to.” The semi sounds its horn. I keep my eyes on him.

“I know but you have to. It’s okay.  Really.”

“You should be with someone when it happens.  It’s not right for you to be alone.”   

Rodney tilts his head.  His dark eyes are warm.  “I’m not alone. You’ll be fine, Sam I Am.  Everything is going to be all right.  Now get out of the car.” He glances forward for a moment and then looks back at me.

I open the door. “Do you really have to go through this again?  I can’t stand the thought of you suffering.”

He smiles, “Don’t worry.  It’s instantaneous for one thing and for another you won’t see me again.  This is the last time I have to do this. Now go.”

“Rodney, I…”

“You’re going to be fine. In time, you’ll find someone. Maybe someone like me. And you’ll feel how right and real it is with him too.”

“I can’t…” My voice is cracking.

“This is it, Sam I Am.  Say goodbye.”  He’s looking at me, his head tilted.  His face is open and wondering again, like he’s looking at something beautiful.

“G-Goodbye.  I wish things could have been different.”  I’m barely able to get the words out.

“So do I,” he says. A tear is running down his cheek. “Now go and don’t look back.  If you don’t look back, you’ll get home a lot sooner.”

I close the door and back away, waving at him.  He waves back and then sits forward.  There’s a sharp squeezing in my chest and I still don’t want to leave him alone, not at the terrible moment of his death. Not ever.

The truck is almost upon him, its huge lights very close.  I see him flicker again and force myself to turn around and walk away without looking back.  The deafening sound of the two vehicles colliding fills the air and everything seems to be moving in slow motion again.  I blink and then…

I’m back in the city in the middle of downtown.  The slow motion feeling slips away and everything speeds back up to normal.  I glance down the street, wiping my eyes with my shirt sleeve.  I flag down a cab.

When I get home I keep the lights off and go to the window.  The street is quiet and I can see the lights of the stairwell in the apartment building across the way.  A dog is barking nearby.  The night has a slight chill.  I hear the sound of a car and look up the street.  A black BMW 3 Series Coupe drives by and for a moment it seems to flicker.  I smile.  It’s good to be alive.

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AN: I would have posted this months ago but I submitted this story to Yaoi-Con in hopes that it would be included in their anthology but it was rejected. I’m pleased to finally share this original story with you. Hope you liked it!

I left work today in an ambulance

I am not even kidding.

They thought I was having a stroke. Weird tingling sensations up and down my left side. Many tests later they decided that I wasn’t having a full on stroke and I was fit enough to go home. I’m feeling better but they still don’t know what caused the situation and why it’s continuing (tingly left foot, slight tingles in my left quad, at least my left arm has stopped hurting).

There are a lot of things you think about when you’re staring up at the ceiling of a moving ambulance and a really nice EMT named Sean is prattling because he knows you’re so scared that you’re about to fall apart. You think that you could die or wonder if you’ll lose your mind. Or if permanent paralysis will settle in on the left side of your body, on your face. You wonder if you’ll ever write again, if you’ll be able to work, and do all the neat things you’ve been able to do so far. Your perspective changes, and yeah sure, the meaning of life emerges. Life too short. Tell people you love them. Do more of the things you love. Cherish each moment.

Right now, I’m big on that last one because this thing showed up with no warning whatsoever. Last night, I went to bed and was feeling just fine. I’d briefly contemplated reading another Stucky fic before turning off my light. And it happened gradually over the course of this morning. So. Cherish it, go ahead. Cherish all the good things in your life. Please.

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The big thing I’ve been struggling with for more than a year is the lies I tell about my life. If you’re reading this from my Facebook page then I’ve been lying to you. If you’re with my writing group, or we work together, I lie to you all the time. To your face. And if you’re reading this from Twitter or Tumblr, I’m still lying to you, just not as much. So here it is. Some of you might know a lot of this already (such as my name, etc.) but less than a handful know it all.

My name is Cindy. I am 49 years old. If I’ve never told you my age and we hang out Twitter, it’s because I’ve been terrified that you’ll think less of me because I’m so much older than all of you.

I write gay romance and sex stories also known as BL (for boys love) and yaoi (which is a manga subgenre, a manga is a kind of Japanese comic book). This is my website. I launched it more than a year and a half ago. I’m finishing a fanfiction trilogy but have major plans to write original stories in this genre. People come to my website all over the world to read my stories. I am part of a vibrant, marvelous community and am very active on Twitter and Tumblr. I have really good friends with whom I interact with on both sites.

If you come to writing group or we work together or you’ve known me for a very long time, this is reason why I never seem to finish my novel. I’ve actually written two novel length stories and am working on a third. In addition, I’ve drafted three original novels that I will eventually post here. I’m writing and finishing stories but not telling you about it because I’ve been afraid that you will all want to know why I write in this genre and wonder what the hell I am thinking. It’s difficult to explain and I haven’t wanted to try.

I am a fangirl and shipper. If you don’t know what a shipper is…I’m sure you don’t really want to know. Fangirl culture is tough to explain to anyone who is not in the thick of it and it’s usually a young person’s thing. I limit myself to only a handful of fandoms simply because I don’t have enough time to enjoy them all. Sports anime…I’ve been able to avoid that rabbit hole so far. NBC Hannibal and Supernatural…not so much. My obsession with those two shows have only grown as time has gone on. And let’s not talk about some of the Marvel Studio characters I’m crazy about. I attend one convention or con as we call them, and it’s Yaoi-Con, held near where I live. It’s a con devoted exclusively to these BL/Yaoi gay romance and sex stories, and this year will be my fifth consecutive year. I came to all this very late. I didn’t grow up with it and have almost no context with many of the old animes so many fangirls started out with.

I went on my Japan tour a few weeks ago because it was a special BL/Yaoi tour and featured two outstanding BL webcomic artists as special guests. I went to NYC two weekends ago because I backed a Kickstarter for one of those artists who launched a game based on her comic and was I invited to the launch party.

This is my whole life now. I needed to come clean in this way, to rid myself of these burdens. I love what I’m doing here and have wanted to share this journey but I’ve been too scared to.

I’m very worn out. Goodnight.

 

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I’m still working on the third Finder story…

I just wanted let you all know that I have not stopped working on the last Finder story. Well, okay, I might have stopped during Christmas and the week after but other than than that, I’ve been plugging away at it. As I said before, I’ve been struggling with it. Here’s a list:

  • I’m pretty pleased with three-quarters of the story but not the last quarter. This is due to the story being very long and me running out of steam while I was drafting it. I’m working on making the last part better.
  • The story is super complex. There are many characters and all the loose ends need to be tied up. This last story also “completes” the other two stories in the trilogy Ordinary Silences and Zero Hour so I’ve been having problems keeping track of everything.
  • In addition to the third story there will be at least one Omake (but probably two) so this story has to lead naturally into it which means more things to keep track of.
  • I’m probably experiencing some sadness too. I’m at the end of this journey with Asami, Aki, and the rest, and it will be a long time before I revisit them and this story world I’ve embellished and made my own. This is a difficult thing, even a little painful, so I’m sure that’s not helping this situation.

That’s latest. I’ll try to update you more often.

The Fog Line

A year ago in the summer, I took a couple of days off to decompress from a major project. I spent time reading, writing, and resting. It was very foggy in San Francisco so I decided to drive south down Pacific Coast Highway 1 to find “The Fog Line.” That is, the place where the fog stops.

I drove for 47.7 miles.

Summer in the City

As some of you know, summer in The City is all about fog. The heat causes the fog to move right in and settle among our hills and cable cars. Tourists are often shocked at how cold it is here. They think because they’re in California that it’s going to warm and sunny in San Francisco. Nope.

If you want warm and sunny, you need to go to Southern California, people.

This particular day, the fog was so thick I couldn’t even see the ocean as I drove south along the coast. I got a glimpse of the grey waves rolling in and I could hear it but the fog was clinging to the shore, hanging on for dear life.

Gazos Creek Beach

I finally reached the end of the line.

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Looking north towards San Francisco, this is what you saw: the fog hovering shyly offshore as if afraid to go further. And looking south? Brilliant clear blue skies. No clouds.

I eagerly got out of my car expecting a chill in the air but what I got was…magical. Mild warm soft clear air. There was a delicacy in the air, a gentleness. I strolled along and took some pictures. At the top of the bluffs at first.

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Softness in the air. Soft light.

As I strolled along, I looked out at the water. The fog continued to linger offshore but didn’t retreat. The mild temperatures were beautiful. I removed my jacket and put it in the car. When I returned to the bluff I saw a family walking along. I couldn’t resist taking a picture:

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I left after taking more pictures. Of Gazos Creek emptying into the ocean and some ice plant flowers.
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Uh Oh

When I got into the car, I realized I was on empty and far from a gas station. I hedged my bets and drove south towards Santa Cruz. And drove. And drove. For almost 25 miles. I didn’t find a gas station until I was in Santa Cruz proper.

I gassed up. The sun was setting and evening was exquisite. Hell, I used to live there but I only remember a few times where the night was so warm and gentle. I did what any self-respecting person did. Yep, I went to the Boardwalk.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

It’s been years since I’ve been to this place. It was well-attended but not crowded. The evening was so warm that I didn’t have to wear a jacket. I thought about going for a ride on The Big Dipper (a marvelously maintained wooden roller coaster), one of my favorite rides but I decided to just get a snack and walk.

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Beach meets Boardwalk
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The Big Dipper on the right there.
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Look at the night. Clear and magical. Everyone was relaxed and having a wonderful time.
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I visited the indoor mini-golf course, a place loaded with memories for me. I walked around. Took more pictures. It was well kept up and that made me happy. After going back outside, I decided it was finally time to leave. The night had turned a bit cooler and the drive back to San Francisco was easy and uneventful.

Writing Tips: The Skeleton Outline

I thought I’d share one of my outlining techniques. I must tell you that I’m a “pantser” as in “fly by the seat of my pants” when it comes to writing. I dive in with a vague idea of the story and have to undergo an extensive revision process to flesh things out but I almost always have the following elements in the back of my mind even if I don’t write them down. I recommend that you open a document and consider the following questions:

  1. Who is my main character and what is his problem? I use the male pronoun because right now that’s who I seem to be writing about. Usually I know who my main character is already as I’ve been thinking about writing the story for a long time BUT it’s not always clear to me what his problem is. I ran into this situation with my first historical fiction story (which I’m still working on) and had difficulty moving the story forward until I figured it out.
  2. What are some “candy bar” scenes for this story? Holly Lisle, who has a wealth of writing courses, free and paid, refers to major scenes you can’t wait to write as “candy bar” scenes. This could include the climax of the story, an amazing love/sex scene, an ending that makes you want to cry, a major confrontation between your would-be lovers. I talk about getting a good idea for a story and this is where the idea starts: with a major candy bar scene. I almost always have 2-3 in mind but you might only have one. That’s fine too because it will give you a jumping off point.
  3. Do you know how the story begins? Maybe you don’t. Or maybe you have an idea but you don’t know if it’s going to work. No matter. Write down some quick notes and take a look at it. Sometimes the beginning is a running start. You feel like you need to explain everything to reader. You don’t necessarily need to do that. You can try starting the story mese in reins or right in the middle. What would happen if you dropped your reader in the middle of some exciting action sequence, a chase, a battle, during a gut-wrenching conversation, even in the middle of a sex scene? Sure, you’d have to explain as you go but the reader would be right in the middle of the story.
  4. Do you know how the story ends? For me, the story is going to hinge on one question: Does my couple get together or not? I usually know the answer to this question but you may not. If you don’t know the answer, you can sketch out two or more scenarios and decide later.
  5. This little outline is not set in concrete! You can change it as needed, if you story changes, your character changes, or your couple’s relationship changes. This is something for you to play around with and it becomes kind of an anchor for your story. In fact, as you move through drafting and revision, this outline will likely change as you learn more about your characters and plot.

If you want to take things further, you can consider adding more ideas for scenes. What would have to happen between the beginning and the first candy bar scene? Again, you’re not writing down every little detail and making a massive document. These are just short notes you can expand later. And what would have to happen between the last candy bar scene and the end? You can stop here and have a decent skeleton of an outline to work from, a document you can change if need be, and flesh out more fully later.

Junk Mail – August 16, 2014

I started doing “Junk Mail” posts on my other blog as a way to let people know what I was up to and what my current interests are. Seems like a good thing to start here. Here we go:

  • Working on refreshing this website. I have new logo images and am working to update it. When I do the update, the site will likely be down for a day to a day and a half. I’ll warn people in advance.
  • Still working on the third Viewfinder story. I’m telling you this thing is a monster and has several plot threads, all bound up together. It’s the most ambitious writing project I’ve ever done and it’s very difficult to keep everything under control. That being said, it’s also making me stretch as a writer and a great learning experience. When will it be done? I’m not sure but it will be a while.
  • I’m pretty sure the third Viewfinder story will have two substantial omakes to go with it. One at the very beginning of Asami’s organization and one after the end of the third story.
  • I’m gearing up for Yaoi-Con next month and can’t wait! I’m meeting a couple of friends there and will be meeting Alex Woolfson of The Young Protectors for the first time. Yay!
  • I’m still learning about social media and how to manage all the platforms I’m on. Right now, I spend most of my time on Twitter with Tumblr coming in as a close second and am on Pinterest where I have a Finder Board. Oh, and I’m also on LiveJournal though I mostly go there to post Viewfinder fanfiction.
  • My current obsession (now that Hannibal is on hiatus “HeAteUs”) is Supernatural. I went to see what it was about and now I’m on the ship. It’s been fun falling in love with those characters and that show.
  • I went to NYC for fun and to attend a wedding a few weeks ago. I had a great time and tweeted some of the places I visited. Thanks for reading!

After Midnight Walk

Last night I was inspired by a conversation between two friends on Twitter. One said she couldn’t sleep, the other made a comment about staying up all night. It was about 10:45/22:45 and I had a craving for something sweet. I got the bright idea of leaving my comfortable apartment, NOT watching Supernatural again (I can do that tonight!), not working on the website, and just going out. I had no idea what I was going to do.

I haven’t been going out much lately, and when I do I’ve been going to an event or performance like a play, nothing spontaneous where I just wander around. I have a book on unorthodox traveling and one of the suggestions is to experience a new city by going out at dusk and staying up until dawn. I’ve always wanted to do that here at home in San Francisco.

I first decided that I needed to park somewhere on Market Street which is on the other side of Twin Peaks from where I live. Market is the main street which slices diagonally from the Ferry Building on The Embarcadero through the Financial District, Civic Center, Union Square shopping area, and up to The Castro. Since most public transportation shuts down around 12:30/00:30, I would need a way to get home without having to take a cab.

I ended up tweeting my little nighttime stroll.

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Cakes but no strawberry!

I parked on Noe Street and went to look for something sweet. Fortunately for me, Sweet Inspirations Bakery and Cafe in The Castro was open until midnight. I picked a slice of caramel cake with a side scoop of Oreo cookie ice cream.

The guy at the table next to me was sleeping. No one seemed to care. There were small groups of people in the front and back of the cafe, noisily chatting. There were also two huge slices of chocolate cake at the table in the window, completely abandoned, barely eaten. I almost gnashed my teeth at the waste.

Folks would wander in and out. The door was wide open and it was a mild, clear evening, fog-free.

I checked my phone. My twitter friends have been talking about Guardians of the Galaxy lately and I had the thought there might be a midnight showing. There was but I had to get to the theater in less than 10 minutes. I wrapped things up with my cake and made my way to Church Station (MUNI). I managed to get to the theater only a few minutes after the movie started.

It was in 3D, which I enjoyed. It was also $17, which I gave me sticker shock. The funny thing is I didn’t even notice the ticket was $17 until I took a picture and tweeted it! Really enjoyed the movie. Lots of fun. I won’t say anything else about it for the folks who haven’t seen it yet.

When I exited the theater, it was 02:30. I started walking up Market Street back to Castro which almost a two mile walk. Through the Tenderloin. I thought about getting a cab but I was feeling adventurous.

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In Union Square at the start of my 02:30 walk.

The Tenderloin is located almost in the center of the city and is considered a bit of a rough neighborhood. Lots of homeless folks, alcoholics, drug addicts and dealers. I’ve walked through the Tenderloin a zillion times before, even at night, but not this late. I figured if I stayed closer to the street, didn’t make eye contact, and walked like I own the place, I would be fine. And I was. It was an interesting stroll.

The streets were so quiet. I’ve never been downtown when it was that quiet. It was eerie. I kept looking up at the buildings and there was a ten story building with a tall stairway. The top of the stairway was glassed in on two sides and a woman was standing there, looking out, with her hands on the glass. I wondered what she was thinking and why she looked so shadowy.

I walked with my hands in my pockets. I avoided people, especially groups of men, and stayed as close to the street as possible (so no one could grab me from a doorway or surprise me from around the corner).

I didn’t walk particularly fast but I moved like I had a purpose. I only checked my phone once, when I was standing in the middle of a busy street on an island waiting for the light to change and no one else was around. I figured I needed to stay alert and looking at the phone just makes you vulnerable because you’re not paying attention to your surroundings.

I noted a few things:

  • The night belongs to the men. Other than two women I saw accompanied by men, I was the only woman out there, and there were no women alone.
  • There were times when I was worried, usually when walking past groups of men. I either crossed the street to avoid them completely or moved even closer to the street.
  • From reading the #YesAllWomen tweets on Twitter and similar posts on Tumblr, I was acutely aware of how different this situation is between men and women. Most women should not do what I was doing since there is a very real chance that you could get attacked. I was holding my keys in my pocket like a weapon and my cell phone too in case I had to beat the crap out of someone with it.
  • It was exhausting being on alert all the time.

Would I do it again? Definitely not unless I was with someone.

By the time I saw the 24 hour Safeway sign at Church Street, I decided I needed to take a breather and went into the store. The employees were busy restocking shelves. A few shoppers wandered in and out of the aisles. There was a group of rather scruffy young men by the door, playing the occasional instrument.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE stared at me. The store clerk and the two security guards did double takes. Apparently, the night belongs to men even inside the 24 hour Safeway. I shopped for popcorn (random, right?) and checked my phone. I was there to take a mental break from being alert all the time before walking the last three blocks to my car.

By the time I got back to my car and home safe it was close to 04:00. I’d wanted to stay awake long enough to watch the dawn but I was too worn out. I’m glad I went on this little adventure but next time I decide to randomly go out into the night, I’ll take a cab back to the car.

 

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Fandom and Hannibal

The idea of a fandom is a fairly recent one for me though I’ve been longing for something like it for a long time. I have been prone to diving deep into subjects and pop culture at times. Sometimes obsessively.

I suppose the best way I can explain all this is with my current obsession, the NBC TV series Hannibal.

I’ve been fascinated by this character, Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter, since I first saw Silence of the Lambs. I’ve read all the books, except one, and have seen all the movies. But this appreciation I had at the time made me weird. Most people I spoke to about this character acknowledged that he was fascinating in a macabre way but thought I was going a little too far out there with my interest. The one small light of hope I had was an article about how a surprising number of people were fascinated with Hannibal and, oddly enough, many of them were women.

I remember thinking “Where are these people and why can’t I talk to them?”

Hannibal and Will have a bad breakup.
Hannibal and Will have a bad breakup.

Eventually time passed and I moved on to other interests like yaoi, writing, movies, art, etc.

Fast forward to the present day. It was announced that NBC was going to be doing a series based on Hannibal starting when he was a practicing psychiatrist (!) and Mads Mikkelsen was going to play our titular cannibal (!!). You should know I’m a purist. You should know that I think Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of this character is as close to perfect as possible. You should know that I don’t like people screwing around with movies and characters that I deem perfect.

BUT I love Mads and I trusted him and his skills. And I was completely, totally on board with him playing Hannibal. And I loved the idea of starting with Will Graham, the original FBI profiler.

I held off for as long as I could. I knew once I went down that road I was going to sucked into a spiraling obsession and I wanted to try to keep my wits about me for as long as possible. I finally caved a few weeks before the start of Season 2 and I LOVE THIS SHOW! I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT!  I love shipping Hannigram. Somebody throw me a wreath of flowers!!!!

I freaking wept during the season finale, people.

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Back to the original point of this post. I feel I have finally come home. On Tumblr and Twitter there are people just like me who are obsessed with these characters. Some are even more obsessed. And there are fandoms for almost anything you can think of. The great thing about it is that we all have a place and an outlet for our fanfiction, our drawings, our scenarios, our gifs, and thoughts. We have a place to share photos, news, and throw around theories.

Fandom is about security and freedom. A safe place to indulge all the squee worthy scenes, pictures, etc. A safe place to enjoy all these things. And it’s freedom! Free to make up your own stories to supplement the cannon. Free not to feel alone. Free to know there are people like you who love this shit.

Why I Decided to Launch My Own Website

When I came up with the idea of putting my stories out there for public viewing, I thought about posting on Yaoi Fix or a similar website. There are certain advantages for sure. The sites already have a community of readers and it would be easier for people to find me.

But I decided not to do that. I wanted to the website to be all mine and I wanted to see what I could do with it.

This has been a real leap of faith. And I’ve come face-to-face with some uncomfortable realizations. Such as:

  • Writing stories and novels is a completely different skill set from promoting and marketing. I knew this realization would put me a little ahead of other writers who completely underestimate this fact but it hasn’t helped with the learning curve.
  • Finding readers…how do you do that exactly? I know writers who tweet, blog, and Facebook themselves up the wazoo and still aren’t getting solid sales for their books. They follow formulas for increasing their ranking and working those Amazon algorithms but their efforts aren’t making them very many sales.
  • There are costs involved but a lot of the costs were of my own making. Sure, you do have to pay hosting fees and if you want a particular look and feel to your WordPress website then you’ll probably need to buy a theme though there are plenty of nice free themes available. A theme is a template for a website which has certain elements as well as a look and feel to it. Elements might include sidebars, a particular font, colors, how pictures are displayed, etc. I went a little overboard with purchasing themes, trying them out, setting them up, only to go with the current theme and its minimal appearance. The best thing about paying for your website is you get to choose your own domain name, as in gryphongirlyaoi.com. There are also plugin costs if you decide you want to purchase them, such as paying for backup and security. You can figure out these things for free, of course, but I decided to spend the money.
  • Posting the stories chapter by chapter on a regular schedule is also a risk. Many people say you should never do it because a publisher won’t touch your book if it’s already been posted somewhere. However, since I’m not planning to shop any of my stories to a traditional publisher, I figured I’d just do what I want.

I thought long and hard about how I wanted to present my work. Initially, I thought I would go the route of writing the story and offering it up on Amazon then do a bunch of promoting. My website would be for blogging and attracting readers. The more I thought about it, the more I really didn’t like this idea. I checked out other author websites and didn’t like them. There wasn’t much content and if you didn’t know the author, why would you even bother to check out their work unless you had a glowing recommendation from someone you trust?

What I really wanted to do was to follow the webcomic/fanfiction model of posting content (in my case, chapters) on a regular schedule. Webcomics tend to post pages with some regularity though some are more consistent than others. Fanfiction story chapters are often posted as the author finishes them which can make for less regular posting depending on how quickly they write.

I wanted to finish a story in its entirety, go through the lengthly beta process, and post the story on a schedule. This means there may be gaps of time between stories but I’m not comfortable with posting my work in draft form. And there are websites where you can read stories that post chapters quickly but they tend to be drafts which are then polished later.

I’m really curious to see how this experiment works. Even at this early stage, I will say it has been worthwhile all the way around if I take into account everything I’ve learned about setting up a website, using WordPress, and learning how to use social media. And this experiment has already taken me to some wonderful places. I’ve really enjoyed using Tumblr and finding new people on Twitter. I’ll revisit this subject again to see what else I’ve learned.

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My Yaoi Closet

One thing I struggle with is being closeted with my interest in yaoi. For some people, yaoi is no big deal but for many of us we feel the need to keep our interest hidden. At least from our families and friends.

Yaoi can be difficult to explain to people and, as my Beta Reader pointed out to me, it can be polarizing. I’ve been telling people I trust little by little. And I’ve been having good luck explaining my interest by mentioning that many hetero men find girl-on-girl action a turn on and no one thinks that’s a strange thing.

Telling people feels really good, like I don’t have to hide from them anymore. In a way it’s a gift to them. They get to see my complete self, weirdness and all.

Since I’ve launched my website, I’ve been dying to tell the world about it. This isn’t much of a stretch either. I’m proud of what we’ve done here and I am regularly reminded in one way or another that writing these stories is the right thing for me to do now. I have to keep making vague comments to most people about what I’m working on. I don’t get to tell them all the little milestones I’ve been reaching, the wonderful people I’ve been getting to know, and the progress I’ve been making. I don’t tell people any details, they all just know I’m writing a whole lot and not updating my regular blog.

This feels restrictive, even a little disingenuous. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to go on Facebook and make an announcement. I’m sure it will generally be well received. Some people might be a little surprised but that’s okay. I could lose a friend or two but they won’t be people I’m who are close to me.

On of the weirdest things for me is keeping this secret from my gay male friends. You would think I might tell them right away but I don’t. See, I’m worried that I can’t tell a gay love story with hardcore pornographic sex and do it any justice. On some level I don’t feel qualified no matter how good my imagination is. And you would think I’d want to ask these dear friends for their opinions about these stories, if the details and interactions make sense to them. You would think this might be a great resource but I continue to hide anyway. I just too scared.

Some day I will tell people. When I announce on Facebook to my friends I will tell everyone here. I will tell people of my plans, this website, I will let them know how serious I am about it. And I will definitely tell them how much I love it and how I’ve found many like minded people who love it too.

Dog Style by Motoni Modoru is My Favorite Yaoi Manga of All Time

Dog Style

I wrote a long-ish post over on my Tumblr about this manga where I wax poetic about reading it for the first time and why it’s my favorite. I don’t usually re-post Tumblr content to this blog, much less take screenshots of the images, but given that this manga is my favorite I don’t see that I have a choice in the matter.

Click on the image to get to the blog post.

You can read Dog Style in its entirety here.

Taking Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Heart

“…Let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.” – Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art speech.

As I mentioned (and posted) before, I watch/read Neil Gaiman’s Make Good Art speech regularly as a way to stay on track with my goals. In his speech, Neil talks about the best advice he’s ever gotten, from Stephen King no less. King saw all the insanity surrounding the success of Sandman and told Neil: This is really great; you should enjoy it. Neil said he didn’t follow King’s advice.

Maybe it’s because I keep watching this speech over and over, but I’ve decided to make a effort to let go and enjoy myself. It isn’t easy, let me tell you. I keep worrying about all the novels I want to produce as quickly as I can so I can keep to a regular posting schedule, the social media to master, the need to learn SEO so my website ranks higher, etc.

Couple that with all the excellent articles and advice in my Twitter feed about adding value to the readers, being your authentic self on social media, tweeting about something other than the book you’re promoting so people will like you; all so you can sell/promote your book. All good advice and probably worth doing too.

Fuck that.

Sure I’ll do some of that as a matter of course but my focus isn’t on selling something or providing value to my readers. My focus is to enjoy the ride, dammit.

My website has only been live a few months and already, ALREADY I’ve been to some fantastic places. Here are some of them:

  • Lovely, heartfelt comments on my LiveJournal where I first started posting my Viewfinder fanfiction. Those wonderful readers were the ones who gave me the idea and courage to start my own website and work on my own original fiction. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for their early support. They are the reason why I’m here in the first place.
  • My Beta. When I think of my Beta and how she makes my stories even better, I just want to cry. It was just a random request for a beta on Yamane Ayano LJ Community and she replied. I’m so damn lucky.
  • Learning about creating a website using WordPress. I’ve spent a long time trying to figure it all out and it’s been so much fun and a little nerve-wracking too.
  • Tumblr! I’ve been blogging for eight years on another platform about random stuff and didn’t know how to approach Tumblr but it’s been so much fun. I scroll through my dash and laugh my ass off everyday. I’m moved to tears sometimes and some things make me mad as hell. I love it. Oh and there’s super sexy stuff too. 😀
  • Camping. I started out camping on Teahouse by Emirain and have had so many fun times. Then I found The Young Protectors by Alex Woolfson which is hands down the best camping experience ever. So many funny, thoughtful people. We have such a good time making each other laugh, swapping theories, and talking about serious things too. Camping takes place Friday nights for sure, and Tuesday nights if enough money has been donated towards an extra page. Join us!
  • Putting my own work out there for anybody to see and getting used to that. I’m starting to think I’m not too terrible a writer.

I could go on but I think that’s enough for now. All these lovely things and I’m at the beginning of this journey!

Being a writer of stories is a fantastic way to live. It’s exhilarating, terrifying, surprising, and the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done.

Don’t add value or sell or market or connect with your readers, please. Instead, put yourself out there whole-heartedly and reach out with your hand. Don’t put all of your posts on an automatic feed. Spend time, look around, see what others are doing, talk to people. Don’t be in a hurry…slow down enough to be moved and excited. When you do you’ll find great and wonderful things, small and large. The world needs your stories, it’s true, but it also needs you having fun, enjoying yourself, seeing all the small wonders in this life.

Thanks so much for reading. And thanks to Neil for keeping me on track.

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Starting with LiveJournal and the Soft Launch

LiveJournal FanfictionAs I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, I have a LiveJournal blog, GryphonGirl2, same as my Disqus handle. I started out posting my yaoi fanfiction on the Yamane Ayano LiveJournal Community. Though I’d been writing non-yaoi fiction for a while, I’d never thought about writing a fanfiction story before.

Then one night I was drifting off to sleep and the central image from my Viewfinder story, Ordinary Silences, popped into my mind. I won’t mention it here because it’s something of a spoiler.

Fear/Nerves

I immediately dismissed the idea of writing a fanfiction story. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go there, first of all, and second, I was really afraid. I love yaoi so much that it sometimes scares me, and I couldn’t imagine writing down a story about two men in love and doing it any kind of justice. Fortunately the story kept coming back and nudging at me which is always a good sign. At the same time, I found this wonderful writing program called Scrivener and I wanted to test drive it. I told myself I could use this story just for the test. No one ever had to look at it and no one had to know I’d written it down.

I ended up putting so much work into the story, including conducting a comprehensive overview of the Canon. When I let the story sit after the 4th or 5th draft and read it again, I was amazed.

I loved it. All of it.

Usually I tend to be too hard on myself with whatever I’ve written but reading this story gave me so much satisfaction I could barely stand it.

I knew I needed to post it but didn’t know how so I went to the LiveJournal community and asked for a beta. I got something like five responses. Missly101 was one of them and I chose her because her writing was good and there were no typos. Neither of us had ever been through the beta process before but it was a rewarding experience in itself.

When I finally went to post the story I was so proud of it and the work we’d done. Even now when I read it, I’m still really happy with how it turned out.

The Community

Posting the story was a nerve-wracking experience but the readers were fantastic. They posted lovely, encouraging comments. They told me the story affected them emotionally which is way more than I could have hoped for. Even more amazing when I went to post the sequel, Zero Hour, almost two years later, people remembered me and said they were glad to see I’d written another story.

The very positive response to Ordinary Silences is what encouraged me to launch this website and to try, eventually, posting my own original fiction.

Fanfiction and the Soft Launch

This rather epic fanfiction trilogy, based on Yamane Ayano’s Finder series, has been the perfect way to get my feet wet with having good content for people to read, learning social media and how it ties into having a website, getting used to posting on a regular schedule, and learning how WordPress works. Posting Ordinary Silences on LiveJournal first was my soft launch, a safe way to try things out. I was able to get immediate feedback about the story and follow my traffic stats.

When it came time to launch this website, I didn’t want to do it with any kind of fanfare and didn’t see us getting any traffic for a while but people are coming to visit, some are staying, and some are coming back. We’re getting visitors from all over the world even in these early months! It’s all very encouraging. I’m so glad I went this route. It’s been really worth it.

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For a related article see my post: Why I Decided to Launch my Own Website.

And here’s an article by Thomas Umstattd, When Should I Launch my Author Website, which argues that earlier is better.

| Filed under BLOG/NEWS, Website | 2 Comments

The End of the Story Isn’t…

It’s the end of the story. Zero Hour. All done. Finished. The Extras (Omake, Blog Post about Eastern Promises, Deleted Scene, and Roundtable Discussion) have all been posted.

You think, the end of the story comes with some bittersweetness. On one hand, there’s a feeling of the proud parent, standing there watching your kid move out into the world. On the other hand, there’s the feeling of goodbye. You won’t be working this intensely on the story again for the foreseeable future. Maybe never again.

And you love this story and these characters. There’s so much more to look forward to with the next story in this series but these scenarios will never occupy your thoughts the same way.

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One of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do was to decide to share Ordinary Silences. I was really, really happy how the story turned out. I was even happier when I found Missly, my Beta, so posting the story on the Yamane Ayano LiveJournal Community seemed to be the right next step. I was terrified. I think I even delayed things a bit as a way to hold off the inevitable (kind of like how I delayed launching this website).

Thing is, with my non-yaoi fiction I’ve never felt like I needed to share it. I had some of the stories critiqued and I’d read them to friends but never to the larger world. Writing yaoi fiction (fanfiction) created an urgency I hadn’t seen before. I had to share it even while resisting mightily. I had to put these stories out in the world.

I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with being in the right place, finding my place in this world…as a writer of guy-on-guy romance and sex. It’s all very strange. This is not the place where I thought I’d end up.

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Back to the end of the story. Much in the same way that putting out these stories into the world is necessary, the stories don’t end. If my website stats are any indication, people will keep finding us and keep spending time reading. In this way, the stories will keep going on. New readers will have different reactions to them. Maybe sometimes people will come back and re-read them and notice other things about them.

This is my hope anyway.

You never know what’s going to happen. Since I started writing these fanfiction stories, posted them on LiveJournal, and launched this website, all manner of amazing things have happened. New friends have been found, wonderful communities have been discovered, and through it all I curl up with my yaoi manga to read more. And I sit here in front of my giant computer screen tapping out words, new stories for everyone to read. I can’t wait to see where I am next year at this time.