Sunday Small Talk

This will be relatively short as the pall of depression is still draped over me and there won’t be one next week because I should be walking along the Oregon coast. If nothing else, here’s hoping the trip to Portland will fire the imagination.

I finished Camp Nano with a combo of my Cassadaga story expansion and the charity story. I am happy that I did get 10K worth of new words. I am less than thrilled that I finished neither. I HAVE only a few more weeks to finish botht he charity story and the SF one for To Infinity and Beyond. It’s looking unlikely I’ll finish on time (which I’m not going to whip myself over. SF anthologies are fairly common so I’ll find a place for it).

And I did finish up my edits for Corpse Powder. They were all minor, mostly cosmetic and some clean up of places that were confusing after I had ripped out the 5K to make word count and removed scenes other scenes were referring to. oops.

2016 has been a very slow slog forward but I’m still making it.

Rainbow Snippets

I hope I get to everyone’s stuff before I leave in a few days on vacation.

This week is continuing the untitled short from the last two weeks. It’s from the Kept Tears universe. It’s coming up on the anniversary of the day Aaron suffered the explosive amputation of his arm (and nearly his leg). Rhys (and Corrine) are trying hard to keep his spirits up and love him through the hard times. Aaron has just told Rhys Corrine wants them all to go to Kennywood Park (a historic amusement park in Pittsburgh) in an effort to keep Aaron distracted from the mental pain of that upcoming anniversary. He and Rhys are debating whether or not they should go in this snippet.

“Honestly, I want to be kept busy. It helps but if I’m just not up to it when the day comes, I just hope everyone understands if I break,” Aaron whispered.

Rhys pulled him closer. “You can break on me, know that. I will ride it out with you.”

Aaron closed his eyes, shivering a bit. “You don’t know what that means.”

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Guest Blogger – Writing Your Own Backyard Jessica Skye Davies

Say hi to Jessica SKye Davies who’s here talking about her latest. I got to read an earlier draft of this and it was a lot of fun (and hey I CAN relate to Ben. I DID grow up in rural SW Pennsylvania and my grandma’s place is one of those 100 year old farm homes). So here’s Jessica.

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One of those things writers get asked a lot is, “Where do you get your ideas from?” (Or, if you’re like some of us, you more often hear “Where do you find these hot cover models?!” You’ll have to ask the cover artists!) My usual answer to the first one is something along the line of, “From the ether.” I make these stories and characters up out of whole cloth, really. My settings tend to be either fictitious or far-away places like London and Australia.

The setting of Town Man, Country Man, though, is different. This time, I wrote local, and it was Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania that gave me the idea for TMCM. The idea came about after taking a drive up to Grove City one afternoon for a picnic at Moraine State Park. I got to thinking on the way back about those lone houses that one occasionally sees on a hillside above the highways around here. They usually look like a big, old farmhouse with a great view of the surrounding countryside. Quite picturesque.

But I wondered what it’s like living there, kind of cut-off from everything. That idea gave birth to Ben, the country man who lives in such a place. Though a little further removed from the highway, he still has that big house, set off by itself, where he can see the world in its comings and goings but not really have the world observe him in return – not at eye level, at any rate.

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Clearly, Ben needed a counterpart, though. That got me thinking toward the opposite end of the spectrum – the town man sort. That’s something I relate to much more, being in the middle of everything, in walking distance of whatever you want, whenever you want it, people-watching accompanied by the vague understanding that someone is probably also making assumptions about you based on your shoes, hair-do, and presence (or lack) of yoga-mat, miniature dog, and/or venti iced green tea. Being a lot more comfortable with that sort of belvedere, Josh became the narrator, wondering, much as I did, how people actually get on living ‘way up there’.

That’s not to say Josh is representative of your dear author. I’m probably more the Dante type.

From there, the story took off, almost on its own. Spending time in many of TMCM’s settings allowed me to give Josh and Ben’s personalities and motivations geographical roots as well as psychological ones. Of course, sometimes it’s easy to forget that not everyone is as familiar as a place as you are. Sometimes you gloss over details or include references that others will miss, running the risk of confusing the reader. Personally, I like a style that doesn’t explain everything but gives enough context clues for me to get the gist, but then, I like a story that makes me want to go to Google to find out more for myself.

Those missing details are one of the reasons beta readers are so incredibly valuable, they will see the omissions you take as read. That lends itself to reconnecting a little more closely to those places and settings, experiencing them more mindfully, appreciating the facets that make a place so singular. For me, it was the ubiquitous scents of spring, the way the sidewalk slabs are nearly unnavigable in some of the nicest areas of town because they’ve been pushed up by very persistent tree roots (the very same trees that drop big, squishy, old-cheese scented bombs in the autumn), the fact that nobody dares to dance at clubs before 11pm, the combinations of pop radio and football fight songs in the marketing Strip District streets that are as contrasting as the empanadas and tamales on one block and the pizzelles and cannolis on the next.

One thing I love about reading things set in places I know well (like Pittsburgh) is recognizing all those little details. That grin and nod of identification that you get automatically. I loved that about Felicia Watson’s Where the Allegheny Meets the Monongahela (I mean, the title alone was a bit of a giveaway!) and I loved it again in Jana’s own Kept Tears. There are probably more ‘Burgh stories out there that I’m not at all aware of – please don’t hesitate to clue me in!

There’s always that line about “write what you know,” but the more writing I do, the more I find that for me it’s more a case of knowing what I write. And that often means coming to know the things I knew in the first place all over again.

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Blurb Town Man, Country Man
“Town man” Josh Douglass meets “country man” Ben Bauer at a mutual friend’s wedding, and passion kindles immediately. As urbanite wedding planner Josh and closeted contractor Ben spend more time together, they develop a deep, comfortable romance despite the fifty miles between their homes—and despite the drastic differences in their lifestyles. But as they grow closer, it becomes apparent that Josh and Ben have been enjoying the first flush of love without giving much thought to longer-term logistics.

A crisis leads Josh to ask himself serious questions about how his relationship with Ben can realistically work. But just as Josh is feeling ready to talk about the next step with Ben, a misunderstanding threatens to put an end to their love affair. Compromise is the key to any relationship, but it isn’t always easy to balance careers, friendships, and family expectations. Josh and Ben just need to see that bringing together the best of both their worlds is well worth the sacrifices they’ll have to make to remain in each other’s lives.

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Jessica Skye Davies
Author Page

Sunday Small Talk

I haven’t much to say. I’m moving at a snail’s pace but oddly enough a challenge I’m involved in is oddly appropriate. I have done Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation challenge for years, long before Oprah joined up. It’s free and I find it a nice way to spend 20 minutes a day when the challenge is running (almost every quarter)

This time it’s about freeing your creative self. I didn’t know that when I signed up. Yesterday’s was talking about how being unhappy affects your creativity.

That could be the story of my summer. My depression is high, almost immobilizing. I have barely been writing which makes me angry which then makes me more depressed and finally I write even less.

Maybe this meditation series will help. I need something that will.

Here’s to more accomplishments next week.

Rainbow Snippets, try #2

I’m still having internet issues. On the plus side, I’m hiding in the Parents’ game room because it’s underground and about 65 degrees (and it’s mid-90s outside). My stomach is giving me issues (I was supposed to have surgery on it but it’s not going to happen this year after all) so if I’m slow responding, that’s why.

This week is from something very rough and new, aiming it at one of the charity anthologies for the Pulse (or else a freebie down the road). It’s from the Kept Tears universe. It’s coming up on the anniversary of the day Aaron suffered the explosive amputation of his arm (and nearly his leg). Rhys (and Corrine) are trying hard to keep his spirits up and love him through the hard times.

Snippet (It’s one sentence over, forgive me but I had to put in Rhys’s rejoiner)

Rhys understood the hells Aaron had seen. Sharing his pain didn’t come naturally. Even though Aaron knew Rhys wasn’t likely to reject him at this point, the fear lurked deep inside him.

Aaron opted for the safer path. He pointed his truncated arm down. “I figured you wanted to be serious when I saw you wore trunks instead of your usual nakedness.”

“I didn’t want to distract you with my overwhelming physical beauty.”


If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!