Saturday, December 31, 2011

When Semes Collide -- What Happens When Characters Don't Get Along

Ensnared, the Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE  
Ensnared Kindle Ebook Available HERE

Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!
To write a character well, I believe the writer must be empathetic to him or her. That applies to the unsympathetic characters as well. I never think of any character as evil. They each have reasons that are internally valid for their actions. It's just that their goals are diametrically opposed to the protagonists. That said, in my writing, protagonists are good guys and the antagonists are bad guys and never the twains shall meet. I have never had an occasion to turn a protagonist into an antagonist until now.

In A Soldiers Destiny, my enigmatic vampire, Simon Molinar from Demon Under Glass, is a less than sympathetic character. He is not quite an antagonist, but he is highly problematic for Rik and Vincent. Simon remains one of the most complicated characters I have ever written. I never write him from his point of view, so those who interact with him – mostly Joe McKay – have to sift through the words and motives and hope they can figure out the truth. Simon has centuries of experience in manipulating humans. Thus, aside from being innately funny and charming, He knows how to read people quickly and completely from his experience. He can be all things to all people. This works in the Demon Under Glass books, because Simon's goals are the same as Joe's for the most part. And those goals keep Joe by his side without any manipulating. Their pursuers' motivations and goals are horrific, thus it is easy to portray Simon as a protagonist.

The Foundation for Alterds is not like the Delphi Project. They have no sinister ulterior motives. The organization exists to better the lives of those with the genetic mutation whether they become soldiers or not. There are gaps in their knowledge about Delphi that Simon can fill. Also, he knows a great deal about where Delphi technology traveled beyond US borders and what has been and is being done with it. For that more than anything else, the Foundation is willing to extend him their considerable resources and protect him in great comfort indefinitely. Simon's situation is dire because the word has become much smaller than it is now. It is virtually impossible for anyone to exist without detection of a government. And there are organizations as powerful as some governments who know what Simon is.

The match appears to be perfect. But it is very difficult for a being as ancient as Simon to turn off his instincts or curb his desires. They have ruled his life for longer than anyone can imagine. Times have changed for Simon in many ways. He does not understand how the political climate affects his position. He believes that what he has is valuable enough to give him leeway in his life at the Foundation. Simon cannot help manipulating his surroundings to his advantage in order to feel as safe as possible. Rik and the rest of the staff expect that and are prepared to counter that tendency and make him feel safe. The bigger issue for Rik and Vincent is Simon's tendency to misbehave and believe that there will be little in the way of consequences because of the vital nature of the information he holds. There Simon is potentially gravely mistaken. The military brass is not happy that Simon actually exists and they are very afraid that the real origins of the Altered program will become public. Their stance is to destroy him immediately – no matter what he may know. Most of the Foundation's Benefactors are uneasy about his presence in the facility. Vincent gleefully informs Simon that an Altered soldier can be destroyed on the whim of the military despite the millions spent in creating them, so what chance does he think he has if he crosses the line? Simon is in an unprecedented situation. Though mortal, Rik and Vincent are stronger and faster than he his. They can also be as remorseless killers as he is despite their warm and fuzzy reputation in the media.

Rik and Vincent's motivation is simple. They want to find ways to protect mutants like them from exploitation and death. They also are very protective of the family they have cobbled together at the Foundation. They have found a happiness and contentment with this odd collection of people that neither had known since entering the Altered Program. For Rik, it's the only family he has ever known. They view anything that might threaten their goals or their family with great suspicion and, in Vincent's case, hostility. Readers who have taken the journey with them through the previous books understand how hard they fought for the lives they lead. They understand the kind of friendship and support Simon could have if he can resist his impulses. So, I suggest to the Demon Under Glass fans who have not read the Soldier's books to go through and read the excerpts from both books at or by the books at Smashwords (scroll down to the middle of the page). The ebooks are really cheap and you can read 20 percent of the book free on that site.

Simon is in a position with these men that he has never known. Charm will not work on them. They are soldiers. Actions are what impresses them. Simon is thus faced with the notion of going through both basic and advanced military training with these men before he can hope to cut any ice with them. That gives me an opportunity for a lot of humor. Which is a relief, because I find writing these scenes very awkward. It's like having an intimate dinner party with groups of friends who don't like each other and who each wonders why I bother with the other. Since I enjoy writing all of them – or I wouldn't write them – it's been a conundrum. Still, I think the story is coming together well and will be something both factions of my readers will enjoy.


Friday, December 23, 2011

A Very Bishie Holiday Greeting

Seasons Greetings! Cook Like a Uke – Christmas Cake is delayed due to illness on the host's part, a heavy manga editing schedule and some hairy strawberries. It was all too much. But there are 12 days of Christmas, after all! It will be up soon. Meanwhile, enjoy a very Bishie greeting from Sybaritic Press and!

And there is still time for some last minute e-books:

 Ensnared, the Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE  
Ensnared Kindle Ebook Available HERE

Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bent-con Round Up -- LA's Gay Comic Convention

 Ensnared, the Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE  
Ensnared Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!
Cook Like A Uke -- Octopi Wieners and Apple Usagi is LIVE!   

Bent-con, like Yaoicon, was an event I really wanted to attend last year but could not because of chemotherapy. I've been posting my nerdier blogs on for a few years, and the founder of that site, Jody Wheeler, has been a buddy online all that time. There is something very exciting about young conventions [this was Bent-con's second year]. Connections with fans and with dealers and even with guest speakers can happen when the attendance is smaller than the huge conventions where there are throngs of people all divided up into their own cliques of interest. There were a couple of thousand people spread over the convention area at the Westin Bonaventure, the iconic Downtown LA hotel. In that regard, I was not disappointed. I talked to many of the dealers and signed up for a few mailing lists and one fan club. I discovered during one of the smallest panels I've ever spoken on that I have fans that still await my fanfiction and met another fan that was so thrilled to meet me that I was humbled beyond words – a rare feat for this big mouth.

Just a little Fan Girly!
But it was the lengthy encounters with three of the guest for which I will be grateful that Bent-con invited me to be a panel moderator. Everyone who reads my blogs knows how much I adore Jane Espenson's work. She blazed a trail on Buffy the Vampire Slayer that dragged me from being only mildly interested in the series to a rabid fan. And I'm still not sure how she did it, but she brought a new depth, sexiness and humor to Battlestar Galactica without taking away from the hard space opera edge. I loved her blogs on the trails and the foods she encountered while writing a TV series. And I now follow her witty observations on Twitter. I've also benefited from her Twitter writing sprints where she encourages followers to take some time and work creatively for 30 minutes to an hour.

Brady(left) and Cheeks (right)
Jane was there to talk about the incredibly funny and touching web series, Husbands. It's premise is that on the day after gay marriage becomes legal in the US, a famous actor (Cheeks) and a Major League Baseball player (Brady) wake up from a drunken celebration to find themselves married. Unwilling to undermine the cause by divorcing, they decide to stick it out for the cause and each other. Comedy and drama ensue. It is amazing how much complexity is packed into those brief episodes. It has one of the best lines about the nature of marriage I have ever heard. It was fascinating for an independent filmmaker who has worn many hats (most often that of a plumber on set) to hear about such similar struggles to mine in producing Husbands. Somehow, I thought that if you've had studio resources for the day job, they would be available for a producer when they did something independent. I'm a silly billy. I could certainly relate to the fatigue I saw in some of the behind the scenes photos. It all looked very familiar. As expected, Jane was a fascinating speaker. It was a thrill to have that kind of insight into the nuts and bolts of the business from her. And luckily, none of what went on in her personal panel or the Husbands panel would be repeated territory in my panel. Please, click on the Husbands LINK and watch the episodes. They are brilliant!

The second of the three people I really wanted to meet that day was Cheeks. He is not just a character. He's also a person who acts, writes and sings. I discovered his youtube videos via a tweet from Jane. They were about his life, the news and pop culture. I saw the first one when I was between major surgeries and had a zipper of staples up my abdomen. It hurt to laugh, but laugh I did until endorphins kicked in my brain. It was an uplifting experience that I repeated every time he posted. Those videos have been pulled in favor of Husbands. I hope he puts some of them up again for all to enjoy. He was an important part of my recovery from the first surgery and I was pleased to tell him that – and give him cookies.

The third person I wanted very much to meet was Wendy Pini. She was already a legend in fandom for Elfquest  which she created with her husband, Richard. I had long admired their work. But it was for her Wendy Pini's Masque of the Red Death that I wanted very much to speak with her. Masque had everything that pushes my buttons – beautiful but flawed and potentially tragic male characters who are drawn toward each other and inevitably bound. Death threatens their love and their lives at almost every turn of the page. I love writing about those kinds of characters. I will digress here – because it's my blog – to expound just a bit. In A Soldier's Choice and A Soldier's Fate there are only two options for Rik and Vincent – love or death as they literally cannot live without each other. But it's Ensnared that shares a worship of hedonism with Masque. The relationship between Darius and Andreas threatens to upend the social order and endangers them both. [experts for all titles mentioned can be found on the left under Hot Links]. There is tragedy in Ensnared, and I punish Andreas for his beauty and his flaws, but I could not dare what Wendy dared in Masque. And there in lies her brilliance to me. 
I am not a fan of tragedy. I know it is said that to read tragedy is cathartic and therapeutic for the reader or the viewer. This gal is not one of those people. I found Wendy's artwork compelling, so I thought I could skim Masque and enjoy that without getting involved too deeply. That was impossible after the first pages. I was hooked. Despite knowing where the Poe story led and where this was clearly leading early on, I was so enthralled by Anton and Steffan that I had to take that ride to the end. I wanted to tell Wendy that she was brilliant in how she wrote Masque, but it came out as a highly exasperated question about the proposed libretto for Broadway based on the webcomic. Thankfully, my reaction was the very one she had hope to evoke in her readers. Masque is just the kind of well written, accessible story that could introduce yaoi themed content to a wider audience. I'm hoping there is a way to make that happen. That intimate panel was a wonderful opportunity to connect with another talented writer I admired.

Sunday's panel on Women Make Queer Genre was a lot like a literary salon of old. The panel included Jane, Wendy and Shelley Doty, the writer/filmmaker/musician behind the intriguing  Strange Frame, sci-fi, Lesbian anime. The discussion covered why each panelists was drawn to Queer genre, the reaction of long time fans both gay and straight to their works and where they saw Queer Genre developing in the future. The panel managed to be both highly fannish and scholarly. I could see a paper being written about it. It was an amazing experience enjoyed by the audience and panelists alike. A big shout out to Mars Homeworld. You are welcome in any panel I moderate!

I am certain that Bent-con will become a large convention someday. It absolutely deserves to be. I hope to continue to be a part of it as it grows. But the fangirl in me will always cherish the unique opportunity I enjoyed while the convention was young.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cook Like a Uke -- Episode One is Live!

Ensnared, the Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE

Ensnared Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!
Cook Like A Uke -- Octopi Wieners and Apple Usagi is LIVE!     

Please, watch, Like, and share. If you decide to make the dishes, please send photos or a reply video. See the link under Hot Links to submit a recipe suggestion!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In Praise of Headstrong Ukes

Ensnared, the Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE

Ensnared Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!
Cook Like A Uke is Coming Soon!  View the Teaser now!

I never understood how a shy, timid Uke could attract the attention of a powerful and arrogant Seme. With all that blushing and shrinking away, how do they seem in the least bit interesting, no matter how beautiful they are. I like Uke's that are hot tempered and headstrong. Blushing is lovely, but it should be followed up with a heated, frowny glare and  possibly screaming. In rare cases, a bar fight is good, too. [Spoiler  Alert for two anime] For example, in Junjou Romantica, Usami Akihiko,
would not have been interested in a shrinking, demur Misaki. Usami”s attention was attracted when Misaki went off on him with great fury and indignation. Those flares of temper were a hallmark of their relationship. In fact, Usami's father didn't understand how the relationship could exist at all until he saw that Misaki was capable of and very willing to shout at his son. I could never see Misaki topping Usami, but there is a balance of power between the two. It makes for delightful chemistry in and out of the bedroom. Likewise, in Ikoku Irokoi Romantan, Ranmaru is far from a blushing and shy Uke. The foreplay his and Alberto's first time in bed is a bar fight where they are heavily outnumbered. Alberto is very protective of the beautiful Ranmaru, but the man is almost as good at getting out of trouble as he is getting into it. I love that when Alberto arrives to rescue his Uke from kidnappers, Ranmaru had almost made it out on his own. And even as the pair fly off into the sunset, Ranmaru promises that there will be problems of his making along the way. Alberto can't wait. The Semes in these titles are as attracted to their Ukes as much for their fire as they are for their beauty.

Volume Two is coming soon!
When I write yaoi, I first focus on what the character traits are that would bring a couple together beyond their looks. In Ensnared, Andreas noticed Darius first for his looks, but what initially piqued his interest was the incredible sensuality in the way Darius did things like eat. Despite a reputation for a viscous temper, Andreas playfully provoked Darius and teased him publicly more than once. Instead of responding in anger at what could be considered an affront to his dignity, Darius became intrigued at the man's cheekiness and bravery. As they become more deeply connected, Darius grows to adore Andreas for his sense of humor and willingness to tease him. Additionally, Darius had respected Andreas for his reputation as a tough underworld Crew Leader. Part of the attraction of acquiring him as a submissive lover is getting such a strong willed beauty to yield completely to his desires. And Darius expects Andreas to remain the same strong willed Leader in his own circle, because he enjoys seducing him into surrender each time they make love.

The most unique pairing I've written in the yaoi genre is Colonel Rik Heron and Major Vincent Greven from the Soldier's novels (A Soldier's Choice and A Soldier's Fate and the upcoming A Soldier's Destiny). While Rik can easily be considered the Seme in the relationship (he is the superior officer and older of the pair), the pair switches of on who is on top in bed or on the sofa or even the kitchen table. Rik is very much the typical Seme. He is arrogant and can be very cold and aloof. On the battlefield or even just training soldiers, Rik's reputation is entirely justified. Meanwhile, Vincent has the well-earned reputation of being one of the most volatile genetically Altered the US military ever produced. His nickname Hardcase though Rik often thought it should be Collateral Damage. He is extremely strong willed – sometimes to his own detriment. Yet despite what everyone perceives to be a hostility toward his commanding officer, Vincent is madly in love Rik. For his part, Rik is oblivious until it's too late to do anything about it. When they are given a second shot at a life together, Rik seizes the opportunity despite knowing that Vincent will continue being the volatile, headstrong soldier he trained. Behind closed doors, both men are fragile and deeply battle scarred emotionally. That is why switching off dominance in bed works. Sometimes, Vincent needs to be submissive and just feel what is happening. Sometimes Rik does, too, though he is surprised that this is the case.

So, gentle readers, you can trust that though my Ukes are occasionally unpredictable, they will always be headstrong and amusing especially to their Semes.

Excerpts for both A Soldier's Choice and A Soldier's Fate can be found at .

Excerpts for Ensnared Volume One and Volume Two can be found under Hot Links on the right side of this page.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cook Like A Uke

The Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE

Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Keep checking in for the PRINT VERSION this week! 
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!

Cook Like A Uke is Coming Soon!  View the Teaser now!

From Octopi wiiners to Tonjiru to Christmas cake, learn to make the foods your favorite Semes love! Or submit ideas for the foods you'd like to learn to make (see the Cook Like a Uke link in the menu on the right side of this page for details).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

In Praise of Possessive Semes

The Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE
Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Keep checking in for the PRINT VERSION this week! 
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!

The excerpts below contain NO spoilers. They may be from volume one or two. You'll have to read them both to find out.

Just as the D/s relationship is complicated and can appear to be abusive to an outsider, so is the very possessive lover. I understand completely. After all, the behavior is often cited in applications for restraining orders – and rightly so. If someone demands to always know where you are, is jealous of any time you spend with anyone else – including your personal staff, and even wants your thoughts to be on no one but that someone, running away is the best advice. That is how to deal with an overly possessive lover in real life. But this is yaoi, and the lover in question is a tall and gorgeous. His magnetism is irresistible. There is nothing the uke wants more than to surrender to his Seme. For me, that is a key point on why this sort of relationship can work. The uke willingly allows himself to get into a relationship with a possessive Seme. The key is consent.

In Ensnared, along with being possibly the most arrogant man on the planet, Lord Darius Galatea is a possessive lover. When he meets Andreas Hesper, it is not enough to get the man in his bed, he wants to own his time to the exclusion of everyone else. This should be a problem for Andreas who is very popular in his own social circle and later in the one Darius travels in. Even the household staff at the Galatea Penthouse like spending time with him. He is a very social being, yet he consents to be owned by a man who may truly lock him away from everyone.In fact, he can't do anything else but submit to the power Darius has over him.

Mykos left shortly after that. Andreas wasn’t sure what was said when he left. His mind was in turmoil. And then, he was in a warm, strong embrace being held against a powerful body. The kiss was open mouthed, hot and hungry. Andreas groaned as he yielded to that kiss. His strength failed him. His body felt weightless until his back hit the mattress, knocking the breath from him.
"Don’t move,” Darius said. There was a growl in his normally lilting voice.
Andreas obeyed, watching Darius undress while he was frozen in place. The Cosi’s eyes were intense a his gaze roamed over Andreas.
“I should simply hold you through the night,” he murmured as he undressed. “I should gently comfort you until the bliss of sleep gives you peace. Alas, I find I cannot do that.”
Darius moved to the bed. It took everything in Andreas not to try to move away from that big, muscular figure looming over him.

“I cannot do those things,” Darius said softly. “I cannot comfort you while your mind is on another who wants you as I have you. I have to push any thought of him from your mind and heart. I must know that you are only thinking of me.”
Before Andreas could bristle at the arrogance of that statement, Darius was on him to rip his clothes away. And then those hands and that mouth were roaming over his body. The Cosi was ruthless in the way he worked Andreas to the point of coming. His cock was still throbbing and the pleasure was still coursing through him when Darius began opening him and slicking him to be taken. 
"You can’t even pretend to fight this, can you, Andreas?” Darius asked softly. “Your body knows that you are mine. Does your mind? Do I eclipse everything in your beautiful mind, sweet Dami?”
 Andreas moaned loudly as he was filled and taken and overwhelmed by Darius body, mind and will. Though he had just come, Darius soon brought him to the brink once more.
 “Darius!” Andreas cried out as he came with a blinding flash.
 Andreas felt like his limbs were made of lead and his mind was full of wet paper when Darius gently withdrew. He could barely open his eyes when Darius had him take a drink of cool water. As he was gathered up against his Cosi to sleep, Andreas realized that Darius had comforted him and eased his turmoil.

But there is more to Darius' possessiveness with Andreas aside from not wanting his lover's mind on anyone but him – though he really does want that. There are dangers for both men that stem first from their unusual relationship and then from Andreas' evolving social standing and the worries that is causing in some quarters. Powerful forces want to tear them apart and take Andreas from Darius' side. Mounting physical threats combined with those who share his attention push Darius to the limit at times.

Andreas was lost in thought for quite some time after that call. He hadn’t noticed the passage of time until Yannis approached him.
“Are you troubled, Andreas?” He asked.
“Not troubled, but I do have some things to sort out,” Andreas said.
“May I be of any assistance?”
“Maybe...I have a feeling that Darius will ask something of me that half of me has a problem with,” Andreas replied.
“A feeling?”
“Sometimes, when I get very close to someone, I can tell what they will do or how they are thinking,” Andreas replied with a shrug. “Like I know that you and Lexo really like me, but you also believe that I am important to Darius beyond making him happy.”
“You are,” Yannis said. “As he is important to bringing us all back under the rule of the ancient texts, you are very important to help him achieve that goal. And we do like you a great deal.”
“Thanks, I like you guys, too,” Andreas said. “I know that Darius will want us to stay here while the apartments are being renovated.  He didn’t make up his mind until he knew that I liked this place and felt okay being here. He thinks I won’t be safe at home.”
“It’s a prudent precaution,” Yannis said. “While the workman are there, it will be difficult to limit access to your living spaces. We will post guards to prevent theft, but that would also limit your privacy.”
“Darius hates that, but then, so do I,” Andreas admitted. “I don’t mind staying here for that. I’m worried that he will limit how much I am at the hotel office or at Club Zero without him. I can see him seriously thinking about locking me away.”
“Yes, I think you are likely correct,” Yannis said. “You must not permit that. You must be at his side in these things he must do to advise him.”
“If I go along with being here for the renovations, I can put my foot down about further restrictions?”
Andreas asked. “Would that work?”
“I think so. The issue with having obtrusive guards at home is your privacy,” Yannis said. “That is not the case when you are working or out socially. Odigos reports that you don’t mind his presence in the office with you or at the Club.”
“No, I don’t mind. I’d have five guys in that office, if that will make him happy,” Andreas muttered.
“Tell him that if he presses for more isolation,” Yannis said. “And tell him that you need to be free to help him. You have it in you to persuade him to relent.”
Andreas blushed profusely but somehow felt a lot better.

Though those that love Andreas fear for his freedom, Andreas does not. He is so hopelessly enthralled to Darius that refusing him anything he wants is simply impossible. If his lover really demanded it of him, Andreas would submit to being chained to his bed. However, Andreas doesn't believe it will come to that. He is willing to put up with anything Darius requires including personal security, an over protective household staff and rules about checking in and returning immediately to him when called. Though this submission rankles some of Andreas' Crew, Andreas doesn't see the restrictions as being oppressive. He really loves Darius and is willing to do anything to spare him pain or worry over his actions.

On the flip side, during his time with Darius, Andreas grows very possessive of him. Darius. Though he has a well deserved reputation for a vicious temper and has the power to have anyone on the planet executed, Darius is a beautiful man with a highly sensual nature. When Andreas first laid eyes on Darius, his looks and the way he ate his food drove him to act outrageously toward that very dangerous man just to get his attention. As they grow closer and more attached, Andreas sees that others want his lover. He is surprised to find that he has become possessive as well.

“Why are you so abashed, Andreas,” Darius asked over dinner. “You’ve been blushing like mad since we seated ourselves.”
“Does that mean I’m embarrassed?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s the noise and the...mess we made in the living room,” Andreas hissed.
“But you are my Dami,” Darius frowned. “Our men expect us couple vigorously.”
“That isn’t the point!”
“I think that is exactly the point.”
Andreas glowered at Darius through much of the main course. Gradually, his expression changed to a different yet still intent gaze. Darius became curious.
“What is troubling you, besides the mess that was in the living room?”
“I’m going crazy,” Andreas muttered. “You’ve made me crazy. I don’t want anyone seeing how you look when you eat. It shows too much of who you really are.”
Darius smiled at him kindly.
“Now, you know how I feel about anyone looking at you at all. Your eyes, your smile, the way you laugh are all compelling,” Darius said. “And you are far more approachable than I am.”
“I approached you.”
“Yes, but only you could have gotten away with that,” Darius said. “You are singular in exquisiteness to me. I will not permit anyone else that access.”
“I’ve never felt possessiveness before. It scares me and pisses me off,” Andreas said. “I won’t let anyone approach me. Even if I have to wear the collar and tag openly all the time. I don’t ever want to cause you a moment of pain.”

So even the Uke can be possessive of the right Seme. And that kind of intense relationship makes for many, many intense sex scenes.

Next time: Darius – suave, sophisticated and always horny.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yaoi Con Coverage!

The Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE
Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Keep checking in for the PRINT VERSION this week! 
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!

The almost complete saga of my first trip to Yaoi Con is up on my personal blog. I contains photos and, hopefully, some insights to the convention. Check it out HERE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Can't No Mean No Panel at Yaoicon

The Paperback is now  on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE
Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Keep checking in for the PRINT VERSION this week! 
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!
Without further ado, here are the links to the articles I referenced in the panel for those who were there. I'll explain them to the readers who weren't below the links in the blog:

My apologies for the delay. This was my first convention in a number of years. It's taken me a while to get settled and catch up on my life. I'm slower than I once was.

For those who weren't at Yaoicon last weekend, I shall now tell the saga of the panel, Why Can't No Mean No?

I hadn't planned on running a panel. This was my very first ever Yaoicon. I was hoping to meet some favorite authors (and to my absolute delight, I did, but that's for the next blog) and hopefully, do some networking for Ensnared and my other titles. Conventions that have as many years in operation as Yaoicon does have groups that know each other well. The last thing I wanted to do on a first visit is to alienate people I want to make friends with by flouncing in with a controversial take on a very sensitive topic. But I literally asked for it.

The three instigating events began with me having insomnia which I often have of late. I was trolling through the various yaoi forums and ended up in a spirited discussion (or actually, a fight) with a webcomic critic whom I thought said some terribly unfair things about a comic I like a great deal. The critic said that Starfighter Webcomic was nothing but a story about a psychopath who is constantly raping his co-pilot. The critic cited a page where the pair kiss for the first time and called that rape. I am not a fan of non-consensual couplings in fiction, and I consider myself very sensitive to an imbalance of power between characters and the least bit of coercion involved in the seduction. I not only didn't see this in Starfighter, I found it to be a very sophisticated depiction of power exchange. There are reams of subtext beneath each page of story. The relationship is unfolding with an incredible subtlety. I changed no minds in that argument, but it bothered me. The critic maintained that all the yaoi she ran into was somehow about rape.

That same week, or at least it seemed that was the case, a fellow publisher posted a link on her Facebook from the website TV Tropes which covers all things pop culture related. She was excited that the columnist knew what yaoi was. I was impressed with that, but not so happy that the writer said that all yaoi published in the US had rape as a theme. Now, all their readers thought the same thing.

On the heels of that nocturnal battle, I was searching for a new cover artist for my books. I needed to have the covers more closely match the artwork we were using in a live action version of one of the books. I had a new title coming out, and decided to have one artist do them all. The artist I wanted had a stipulation that I had to meet before she agreed to take the job. I had to give her synopses of the work to show that I had no non-consensual relationships in the books. She had very compelling reasons that I very much respected. Fortunately, I do no write that short of pairing at all. We made the deal. But that exchange made me curious about how yaoi was seen amongst my gay friends who run pop culture web sites. I had long wondered about why my yaoi titles got a very cool reception in some gay media and with gay booksellers. My friends told me that yaoi had a reputation for portraying one half of the couple as predatory. That was not an image they wanted promoted, especially coming from primarily straight writers.

All of this happened just as there was a call for panel ideas. I wrote the panel admin to ask if there had ever been such a panel on this topic. I was thinking that there had been or they'd think it was a good idea for a more experienced attendee to run. The next thing I knew, it was suggested that I submit that idea and run it myself. On the one had, I thought this would be great. I could meet people I really wanted to meet and have a thoughtful discussion on a topic that could be important to marketing my book. On the other had, I was freaking out at how badly it could go – if anyone showed up at all.

I was in a unique position to run such a panel. I could certainly appreciate the seductive allure of a beautiful, sensual man submitting to the desires of a very powerful man. I am actually a lifestyle Dominatrix and I have an extensive catalog of fiction based on Dominance and submission. Ensnared is about a complex D/s relationship that includes the submissive accepting ownership from the Dominant. What I do not condone is writing a character that is forced into accepting that submission in any way. Like my leading man, Lord Darius Galatea, it is more pleasing to find a way of seducing the beautiful being into surrendering in every way to his desires.

Despite my own stance, I did not want to bash anyone's tastes or writing styles. I also wanted it clear that I was in no way talking about fan writing forums where the point is pushing the boundaries to explore their writing and sexuality. My question was more about how yaoi is perceived to the rest of pop culture and to venues that I'd like to be able to market my fiction. I was petrified at offending anyone, yet I really wanted to explore this topic.

To my relief and utter delight, the audience was very open to what I had to say, and highly articulate about their points of view. I may not have agreed with many of the positions stated during that time, but I came away with a much better grasp of why writers and readers are drawn to non-consensual pairings. I think they understood my views as well though I don't think I swayed many to my side. I also figured out how to better handle my marketing during the course of that hour. It seems that I should take a page from the fan forums and label my work as D/s but consensual in my press releases for reviews and advertising. Best of all, I felt very welcome in this community. They were very kind to this newbie. I can't wait to get to know them better.

Ensnared is Now in Paperback!

 Now in print on HERE
Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE

 Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Keep checking in for the PRINT VERSION this week! 
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page! 
Thank you, patient readers for bearing with the delays. Ensnared Volume 1 is now available in print at Volume two will be available in all formats in just a few weeks!

Post Yaoicon Prieview Update

Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE
 Kindle Ebook Available HERE
Keep checking in for the PRINT VERSION this week! 
Check out full chapter excerpts under Hot Links in the Menu on the right side of this page!

We had a very successful first Yaoicon! I will have the full blog on the panel Why Can't No Mean No along will all of the links we mentioned in the next few days. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yaoicon 2011

If you are attending Yaoicon 2011, I have a panel on Saturday entitled Why Can't No Mean No? Hopefully, it will be a spirited yet fun discussion on the public perception that most of Yaoi is about non-consensual relationships. Is it as prevalent as it seems to some? Is there a problem with loving a story that begins with a non-consensual act? Here's the schedule of events. Come by and join in!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In Praise of Arrogant Men

Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE
 Kindle Ebook Available HERE

Darius Galatea, the Cosi Lord and planetary ruler isn't the first arrogant uber seme. I've written. However, he proved to be the most challenging I've ever created. The first thing a reader must do for Darius to work as a character is clearly see why anyone would fall hopelessly in love with him. The reason must be about more than incredible good looks. There has to be a profoundly compelling reason for someone to put his body, mind and will under the complete control of someone else. The reader really needs to understand this in general, but when the submissive is a powerful person in his own right, the reason for submission must be very clear and compelling.
That last word is the key to making a really arrogant character convincing as a romantic lead. Some writers theorize that a character must be sympathetic or empathetic to successful. I disagree. A reader must be able to put themselves into the shoes of a character or relate to their point of view to sympathize or empathize with a character. That isn't necessary for a reader to find a character compelling. I don't need to know the motivation or worldview of a life long mobster to find Michael Corleone fascinating to watch. The character can behave like a saint or like the devil incarnate as long as the reader can't help but want to watch him. I had to find a way to hook the reader on wanting to follow Darius. While he is being arrogant in a charming and fascinating fashion, there is time to reveal all the aspects of his personality. The reader gets to see more and more of what is behind his enigmatic mask as Andreas does. Hopefully, the reader will not only understand why Andreas couldn't help but fall for him, they will fall for him as well.

This was far easier to pull off in ASoldier's Choice with Colonel Rik Heron. That book begins with my arrogant uber seme badly injured physically and emotionally. The reader meets him at a point when all of his defenses have been stripped away. The only thing that gives Rik an edge over Major Vincent Greven, his former subordinate, is sexual experience. The reader doesn't get to meet the hard shelled, arrogant Colonel of legend until the story is well underway. In Rik's case, the compelling factor is the fragility that lurks behind the arrogant mask. Darius is in no way fragile. The only weakness he has is to his rule and that stems from his relationship with Andreas.

But how does Andreas first see behind this mask? Darius Galatea is known worldwide for his arrogance, his brutality and his temper. He has the face of an angel and the body of a god along that vicious reputation. But what initially attracts Andreas is seeing Darius deeply enjoying the food at a restaurant that is far more humble than anything he'd normally encounter. The sensual abandon apparent in the way Darius consumes that food causes Andreas to really watch the Lord. For a true hedonist like Darius (though I think Darius qualifies as a sybarite), food can be as powerfully pleasurable as good sex. Andreas can see that pleasure clearly on Darius' face as he eats. He begins to wonder what it would be like to have that sensual focus aimed at him. And then when the great Lord Galatea is not only willing to go to the bar to fetch a refill of his wine, he is also playful about it, Andreas cannot squelch his curiosity. He approaches Darius. Their intense chemistry takes over from there.

Darius remains arrogant throughout the story. Andreas is dismayed and amused by the fact that Darius has arrogant handwriting. It is my plan that through the long arc of the relationship, the many facets of his personality will be revealed. He inspires fierce loyalty in most of his close circle. Andreas actually grows to feel very protective of this very powerful man. But the background of that relationship dynamic is for the next time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ensnared is Live!

 Ebooks for all types of players available on Smashwords HERE
 Kindle Ebook Available HERE

Overview -- No Spoilers

In this world, everyone is a captive. Each being has a role to play as part of a caste they were born to. This is the way things have been since the civilization that is rose from the ashes of the cataclysm. The most powerful and privileged are the Cosimo or Cosi, an word from The Time That Was that means 'Those Who Keep Order.' In every generation, one among the Cosi is chosen and bred to lead them all, making him the most powerful being in the world or off. In this generation, Darius Galatea is the leader of the Cosi. He is extraordinarily tall and very well built. Like all Cosi, Darius has beautiful features and nearly waist length hair. Darius appears as many believe and angel may look, but he is not a gentle and benign being. He is brilliant and arrogant. Though he has a great deal of patience, he is better known for his vicious temper. When he came to power less than a decade before, Darius and his Second, the platinum haired, violet eyed Mykos Estevan, laid a path of devastation that shocked the world and beyond. Though that reputation haunts the pair, they are actual far more civilized hedonists. When they aren't brutally exercising their power, they are always on the hunt for the most exquisite sensations and the most beautiful objects.

Andreas Hesper is a leader as well, but he comes from the lowest caste in that civilization. He was raised first in a foundling home and then in a charity school in the city of Eris, one of the poorest and most dangerous cities on the planet. He is unusually tall for a commoner. And he has an usual feature that sets him apart beyond his height and striking good looks. He has an amazing pair of green-gold eyes where most from Eris are dark eyed. Andreas is very smart along with being good looking. He is also charismatic. He used his assets along with a keenly intuitive nature to elevate his gang, Zed Crew, to a point where they can leave Eris and find their fortunes in Kacia. This city is where higher born commoners and those with enough money to escape Eris go to serve the needs and whims of the city of Amara where the Elite class or Calix dwell. Kacia is safer than Eris by and large and it is possible to have a very comfortable life working there. Andreas and Zed Crew use their resources to help one of their own open Club Zero, a bar/restaurant/night club that attracts Calix and Commoners alike. Through the contacts from the club, Zed Crew had found lucrative work that drew the attention of the Cosi themselves.

One fateful night, Darius and Mykos happened into Club Zero seeking it's excellent food and music. Though Zed Crew had been doing jobs for the Cosi for some time, Darius had never met Andreas. When those two men meet, social order is upended. Darius is powerfully attracted to the Crew leader as much as he is attracted to the Cosi. An affair between the two men would be highly unusual and potentially problematic. What Darius desires could threaten even his status as a Cosi Leader. There is a class of Commoner that are trained as pleasure slaves. They are Damians or tamed ones also known as Damis. A Dami sells himself into such bondage for a certain length of time so that they will earn a very comfortable retirement. The reality is that their lives are sort and often filled with pain and fear and humiliation. Darius does not want to treat Andreas that way, but he does want to own him for a time as one would a Dami. Such a notion raises questions about his judgment. Damis are privy to the most confidential parts of their Owners lives. A crew leader like Andreas could become dangerous that close to Darius.

A series of events unfold to throw the two men together. Powerful forces have conspired to end Andreas Hesper's life. The contract also puts Cosi interests at risk drawing Darius and Mykos into the mix. While they hunt those who hunt Andreas, the Crew Leader must turn to Darius to provide protection. The price for safety is simple – Andreas will become a Dami to Darius for a year. The need is too great and the attraction is too powerful for Andreas to refuse. That decision sets in motion a series of events that upend the caste system, endanger Commoner and Cosi alike and may spark the next cataclysm to destroy their civilization.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Coming Soon!

You have arrived too early for the party! Check back in two weeks for excerpts from some sexy new books, book trailers and lots of beautiful artwork.