Monday, June 18, 2012

Flame Wars, The Forever War and Ai No Kusabi


I was going to post the newest CookLike a Uke video  and blog, but I am still having trouble with our PC. Meanwhile, I have something stuck in my crawl that I had to address. The video will be up this week.

I don't mind people reading my work and not liking it as much as I believe they should. That is the nature of the beast when a writer publishes. What I don't like is when a reader makes snap judgments or serious allegations based on the cover of Ensnared Volume One (see the banner image above) or the synopsis. And I do know for certain that the most vitriolic of these reviews were written by people who had not purchased nor read the book. The first one appeared on Amazon within an hour of the book going live. I had issued no advanced copies. None. There were no sales reported within that hour. I happened to be online when the review went up. Even if there were sales, Volume One of Ensnared is nearly 250 pages. No one could read it well enough to write a credible review in less than an hour. This is infuriating after all the time and effort I put into that book to have it dismissed as plagiarism without being read. Sure, I should let it go. Why open the kettle of fish and risk further ridicule? Because it's unfair and just plain wrong and I'm tired of acquiescing to trolls. So, belly up and read on. I challenge readers here to read both volumes of Ensnared after reading this blog and see for yourselves that I am no plagiarist If you don't like the books, so be it. But I want it known that those works sprung from my own twisted brain.

Ai No Kusabi

Like most yaoi fans, I have read Ai NoKusabi (ANK) and I've seen the first OVA. Unlike most yaoi fans, I came away very disturbed by both versions of the title. Because of that, I did not watch the re-do of the OVA. I found the books to be unrelenting in brutality and horrors of all kinds. I kept reading hoping that the payoff would be worth the pain and degradation that Riki endured at the hands of his Master, Iason. There was none. By the time Iasons acts in a way that is completely unselfish, it is far too late. I can't even call what happened at the end an act of love on Riki's part. He had been so thoroughly conditioned through constant physical and emotional torture to remain at Iason's side, I can't really say he had a free will. The only good that came out of that end is that Riki couldn't be hurt anymore by his Master or his so-called friend, Guy. I know I'll get hate mail, but I was terribly sad and quite angry after my ANK experience. This reaction is very consistent if you have read the other blogs here about Non-consensual relationships and correct portrayals of D/s couples. I am saying nothing new here.

The Forever War

But what to do about this ill feeling? How do I shake the images of that horrific relationship from my mind? I could write fanfiction and revise the relationship and the ending. I read quite a bit of ANK fic that did just that. I also read a lot that went a lot farther than the author with the torture and torment. No comment. I certainly am not adverse to writing fanfiction (see http://novad.org). I have won awards and been in a documentary (Trekkies) because of my fanfiction. I've even published my fanfiction (This was legal, because the books are considered parody and thus do not infringe on copyright. See, I do know about these laws). But a fanfiction arc would take up a lot of time and effort for a work that would only be read by ANK fans. And it would cause a flame war that wouldn't get anyone anywhere in the end. I wanted to reach a wider audience and I wanted to spread my gospel of consensual D/s. There is a tradition in literature of one author writing a literary answer to another author's book. Technically, Earnest Hemingway's first novel was The Torrents ofSpring. It was a literary answer to Sherwood Anderson's Dark Laughter. I highly recommend The Torrents of Spring. It's a hoot. In scifi, the most famous literary answer to an author's book was Joe Haldeman's The Forever War. This was a response to Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

I decided to write a book that was an critical response to ANK. Beyond a similarity in appearance in some cases (Andreas is taller and more beautiful than Riki with green-gold eyes), the characters from Ensnared are not the same. Darius does look at Andreas in terms of owning him body, mind and will, but he wants Andreas to willingly submit to that ownership. He is also confident that he can persuade without force of any kind. Andreas is, in fact, the one who first approaches Darius and provokes him publicly because of a strong attraction. Andreas is also not at all what he appears to be (I don't want to spoil twists for new readers). Beyond this couple, I built a mythos for a society based on a cast system that makes more sense to me. I have a history for that planetary system that reaches back thousands of years and is not controlled by a petulant computer. There were societies before the one that Darius and Andreas exist in. Each one was destroyed because of hedonistic excesses that suppressed and brutalized most of its population. The current society is about to make a similar mistake to those past. Darius is just beginning to understand where the fatal errors were made by those doomed societies at the end of Volume Two. Whether or not he can prevent another apocalypse is the question for the next books (some of my readers want more of Darius and Andreas). Ensnared Volumes One and Two is about a D/s relationship that evolves into an intense love that puts both men at risk. There is D/s, but there is not multiple rapes, forced oral copulation, whippings or castrations. There is intrigue and suspense and a lot of humor. It is a completely different reading experience to ANK.

Readers interested in reading the material can find a long chapters from each volume Hot Links in the menu on the right. Beyond that, readers can read 20% of each title for free at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DLWarner. The titles are toward the bottom of the page.

If you've read this far, thank you for indulging this little fit. I really appreciate your patience and indulgence. Now, back to talking about smut!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On Possessive Semes Part 2 and New Book Reviews


Before I get down to the business at hand, I want to announce a new section of this blog. This week, I will begin to do book reviews of tasty titles that catch my eye. I begin with The Highest Bidder by Kimberly Hunter, a very creative spin of the sex slave story. The links for books reviews is on the right under Hot Links, but here is a direct link to the review: http://www.sybpressyaoi.com/p/book-review-highest-bidder-by-kimberly.html.

Also, Cook Like a Uke is delayed again due to technical difficulties with the editing program. I hope to have it up this week as we are shooting another one soon! I really appreciate the interest and concern. I ask for patience a little longer.

And now...

When I first wrote about possessive Semes, it was solely in the context of one particular Seme in one particular book. This time, I want to talk about the subject in broader terms and cover more characters from my books along with those in anime and manga. For those just joining my blog here, I'll briefly cover some necessary ground rules. Possessive lovers can be really romantic – if the partner is completely fine with that kind of behavior. It's just like being a kinky lover is great if that lover's partner is a kinky sort. However, in most relationships, couples need space to enjoy friends and family on their own. It's healthy for a relationship, because each partner is always bringing something new to the conversation. Healthy is a very important word in this discussion. Keep that in mind for later. At any rate, if the a lover is not comfortable with possessiveness in a partner, it can end badly. Words like 'restraining order' and 'house arrest' can come up. This is far from sexy and romantic. If your lover is behaving like any of these characters, and you don't completely dig it – run!

Possessive Seme's have magnetism as characters because of the intensity of their focus on their lovers. It's all the more thrilling when they are handsome and accomplished and powerful. Often, the ukes cannot believe that they have such attention from these men. That kind of romance is a lot of fun to read. It is also a lot of fun to write. However, the pragmatist in me can't have possessiveness without some sort of character background to explain the behavior. I simply cannot ignore reality – even when I am writing absolute fantasy. It makes no sense that a man with all of those positive attributes (looks, wealth and power) would have the need to be possessive of a lover. They are beyond confident in themselves and their ability to hold onto a lover. There is no need for possessiveness. Why indeed?

Before I get to my own works, let me talk about one of my favorite yaoi anime series, Junjou Romantica . For those who want to give yaoi anime a try, this series is a funny and mild introduction. You can check out the 1st and 2nd episodes here on the official Youtube site. In this story, Akihiko Usami is the very handsome scion of a powerful and wealthy Tokyo family. He has a law degree from a prestigious university. He became a wealthy bestselling author and the winner of Japan's highest literary prizes by age 28. Legions of women and some men chase after his affections. On the surface, there would be no reason a man with all of this going for him would clamp onto an 18 year old orphan who required tutoring to make the wait list at a university for dear life. Usami-san is not all he appears. His childhood was full of family strife and acute loneliness. When he finally fell in love, it was with someone who could never return more than friendship – the older brother of said 19 year old orphan. Misaki chanced to find out that Usami-san was in love with his brother. He figured out something no one else could see – that Usami-san was a fragile soul. And he reacted with protectiveness. Misaki even protected Usami-san from his own brother. Such a gesture given so easily and with such fervor was something that shook Usami-san to the core and permanently shifted his affections. He takes Misaki as a lover as soon as he can and is highly possessive of anyone who comes near him – something he readily admits. He is quite upfront that he means for Misaki to stay at his side forever. That tends to be a bit much for a college guy who is just testing his wings. And thus begins the epic and often comedic battle between them. Misaki loves this crazy author who has a fondness for stuffed bears with all his being, but he will not sacrifice his college experience and his new found friends. I love this series for that.

And just as this accomplished author has flaws that cause his possessiveness, so do my Semes. Let's begin with my mutant, super soldier, Colonel Rik Heron from A Solder's Choice and A Soldier's Fate. He is handsome, brilliant, strong and accomplished. For a time, it was believed he would be the youngest general to hold the rank. However, as strong as he is physically, he is also fragile and deeply flawed. The process that turned him into the Altered soldier was physically punishing. The traits he possessed that caused the military to be interested in him also made him a social outcast for all of his life. Public arrogance hides all the wounds Rik carries every day. When he realizes that the most talented soldier he'd ever trained, the volatile and beautiful Major Vincent Greven, was in love with him, Rik falls very hard. Despite military protocol and all other obstacles, they come together. Rik is loathed to let anyone or anything come between them. He grows anxious if Vincent is out of his immediate reach for more than a very short span of time. He doesn't like anyone outside of their immediate circle looking at Vincent. His hyper senses can detect if anyone has even touched him. Fortunately for all involved, Vincent is as damaged and as possessive as his lover. They need to be that intensely needed by each other, so it works for their relationship. Their friends and family accept it and celebrate it, because the pair are happy for the first time in their lives. I emphasize the strength in these characters as well as the joy and the intense sensuality of the relationship. However, I make sure that the flaws that cause their behavior are clear to the reader. This is an underpinning to this behavior.

By comparison, Lord Darius Galatea is far less possessive with his uke, Andreas Hesper from Ensnared Volumes 1&2. Darius is not flawed per se. Though Andreas would argue that his monumental arrogance is a flaw. Darius is the perfect representation of his kind. He was bred and raised to be exactly that. His only real flaw is that he really doesn't suffer fools well. In fact, he has a vicious temper when when pushed, and it takes very little to push him. Andreas is never subjected to that temper. In fact, he is never spoken to or touched with anything tainted by violence. Darius comes to find Andreas so compelling and humorous and engaging that he becomes far more attached to him than he ever expected. His possessiveness is born of a need to protect the man from forces who seek to hurt him through hurting Andreas. Darius falling for this man from the underclass has endangered that lover. Before Andreas, he had no weakness that could be exploited. This is the source of his protectiveness. He is perfectly fine allowing Andreas to run his life even though that means social engagements of all sorts without him – so long as he is adequately protected. Despite the collar of physical ownership (which is a shared kink), Darius and Andreas have a healthier relationship on the whole than Rik and Vincent.

I hope this clarifies the nature of possessive Seme/uke relationships without destroying the fun. Again, you can find links to excerpts to the books I've mentioned in the Hot Links Menu on the right hand side of this page.

Links to Buy Books
You can find all my titles in paperback and Kindle on my Amazon Page HERE.
You can find ebooks in all formats for my titles on my Smashwords page HERE.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

When Seme on Seme Works


While writing the script for a Cook Like a Uke episode based on my Soldier's books (A Solder's Choice and A Soldier's Fate), my Hubs pointed out that Major Vincent Greven seemed like a typical uke, but he acted much more like a Seme. It was a valid point that caused me to completely re-write the script. I have written in a previous blog that I reading and writing about adore headstrong ukes. I'll take a uke that will yell at his Seme and give him all sorts of hell over one that is sweet and shy any day of the week. Andreas Hesper from the Ensnared novels is very much this kind of strong willed uke. He is an underworld crew leader who can handle himself in a pitched fight. But for his Seme, Darius Galatea, he is yielding. He often blushes. And he proudly wears a collar of ownership Darius demands. Vincent does seem to be that sort of uke, but one must look closer. [For links to excerpts see the Menu on the right].

Admittedly, Vincent Greven appears to be a typical uke. He is younger than his Seme by over ten years. Physically, he is shorter and slighter than Rik Heron who was also his trainer and superior officer while they were in the military. Even in their post military positions at the Foundation, Rik is still at a higher rank in the organization. In fact, it took a nearly losing Vincent in a tragedy to make Rik realize that he was more than a subordinate. Once he does, he behaves like a typical, possessive Seme. Rik often ends arguments by tossing Vincent over his shoulder and taking him to bed where he often holds him down or ties him down to take him for hours. Vincent thus seems like a typical uke and Rik very much a very possessive Seme.


But Rik is more complicated than that. He is as fragile as he is strong. Like the other Altered soldiers from that program, he has been emotionally damaged. There are times when he needs to be protected and times when he needs to be taken out of himself and loved. Vincent always sensed that in Rik. It was one of the reasons he stuck close and always watched his superior officer. He protected him however he could when they were soldiers. As a couple, he asserted himself as a Seme to truly prtect his lover both physically and emotionally whenever Rick needed that. From the onset of their relationship as a couple, Rik and Vincent switched off the role of sexual aggressor. Rik enjoys being pursued and occasionally ravished by Vincent. Despite Vincent's size, he is very strong. He is as strong as Rik because of the way he was Altered for military service. When they fight, only Rik's experience gives him an edge against Vincent. They are also a near match in intellect. Rik is comfortable enough in his own skin to acknowledge his needs and weaknesses to someone who has his heart.

The best excerpt to show the dynamic of their relationship is from A Soldier's Fate. This is during the time they are working together for the military as consulting trainers for new recruits.

Vincent and I were putting in long hours during the weeks of training. Our day typically began at 0500. We had breakfast then met with Remak and Percival to discuss Foundation business. Both were accustomed to military hours, and the phones were silent. We’d get a lot covered then. From 0700 to 1500, we trained the cadets. The day was short because training was physically and emotionally draining. We’d meet with staff members over supper. I thought after all of that, bedtime would be a shower or bath together then fall over unconscious. This did not turn out to be the case. My lover was profoundly affected by training alongside me. I was startled by the naked hunger in his eyes as we’d reach the end of the day. Vincent’s palpable need for me had a powerful affect on me as well. It was all we could do to keep our hands off each other until all of our work was done, and we were alone. Then, it was intense.
Sometimes, Vincent had me first and always while I wore the uniform He’d hold me down and stroke me until I climaxed. All the while he watched me with hungry, predatory eyes. I would be a limp rag doll afterward, but Vincent enjoyed flipping me over and taking me in that uniform. He really enjoyed sex that way, but his favorite was for me to take him in my bastard Colonel attire. I would use my strength on him to strip him then take him hard while his gaze drank me in. It was incredible.
And before I could worry myself about the implication of his new hunger, my lover eased my mind. It was the first Sunday of training and our first full day off. I was waking gently with Vincent partially on top of me. I yawned and stretched beneath his sleep-warmed body. Then, he nuzzled my chest.
Thank you for letting me enjoy my fantasy with you,” he murmured. “But don’t think that’s the only way I’d want you now.”
He looked up at me. The morning sunlight softly illuminated his hair and eyes. His smile was sweet and warm.
I want you when you stretch like a lazy cat and moan in that deep, sexy voice,” he said softly. “I want you when you smile or when you’re angry. When you look at me in the morning with those dark, sleepy eyes, smile at me and say good morning, Love, I fall for you all over again.”
Vincent was still magical to me. He was still a balm for my soul. My heart surrendered to him every time I woke to his golden gaze. I smiled at him, brushing the hair from his eyes.
Good morning, Love,” I said softly.
I rolled us over, so I could pin him beneath me. He gasped as our aroused bodies pressed together.
Rik...please...”
I kissed him gently and deeply. We made love slowly and reverently that morning. There were no roles to play and all the time we needed.

Vincent is comfortable enough with Rik to occasionally be the sweet, shy uke. However, in reality, he is very much a Seme. In this case, the pairing works for these characters.

To read more excerpts, got to http://soldierschoice.com .