Fabulous Five Blog Hop

My dear friend Charlie Cochet invited me to take part in the Fabulous Five Blog Hop. No big deal. Answer five questions on my blog and I’m done. One of these days, I’ll learn that nothing is ever as easy as I think it will be. After much pondering, knuckle-gnawing, and hair-pulling — a high cost activity at this stage of my life — I finally came up with my answers. Enjoy.

What am I working on?

At the moment, nothing. I’ve been too busy preparing for last month’s release of Happy Independence Day and A Taste of Honey to write much more than my weekly blog posts. My fourth novel will probably be a departure from the holiday tales, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Earlier this year, I wrote at least a few thousand words for three different parts of a trilogy loosely based on my life and finished a short story I’m thinking about expanding to a novella.

Writing about my life poses numerous challenges around separating fact from fiction and protecting my friends and family I haven’t really figured out yet, so I’ve moved the trilogy to the back burner. Every character in my first three novels has a story to tell. Many will come out sooner or later. But for now, I’d really like to start with a blank slate, free from the constraints of reality — mine or the one I’ve created in the Holiday Tales novels.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Good question, and one I really couldn’t have answered until recently. My stories are about gay men. Some of the characters are in or pursuing a relationship, but few who’ve read my stories would call me a romance novelist. The label I hear most often is gay fiction. My first novel (Until Thanksgiving) is a thriller set in 1996, the second (After Christmas Eve) is a mystery set in 1966, and the latest (Happy Independence Day) — let’s call it historical-action — revolves around the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.

Why do I write what I do?

To show people the way things used to be so they can appreciate how very far we’ve come. I came out in 1979, ten years after the Stonewall Uprising. Living out and proud in Lexington back then, or anywhere else for that matter, was a good way to get your ass kicked — or  worse. The local gay bar was a sanctuary and the center of our universe. A few friends were out to family. Most were not. Almost nobody I knew was out where they worked. At the bar we could dance, get drunk without worrying the gay would show, and fall in love, often several times in the same evening.

Thirty-five years ago, we didn’t talk about gay marriage. For us, the push for equal rights was about not having to fear being arrested, fired, evicted, or harassed for being gay. Entrapment schemes were still common, but police raids were rare. I’ve never been part of a raid and thought they’d gone the way of the dinosaur until cops raided the Atlanta Eagle a few years ago.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I survived to tell our stories. Too many did not. They’re the reason I write what I do.

How does my writing process work?

I wish I knew. The process from start to finish takes me about nine months and has been different for each of my three novels. The anal-retentive, OCD part of my psyche that enables me to finish a story wants detailed notes, outlines, and character profiles. The free spirit that comes up with all the good stuff resists planning and actively sabotages any preliminary ideas I may have about characters and plot. Fortunately, the OCD side knows when to get the hell out of the way.

The experts say to avoid editing or revising a story until the first draft is finished. I agree, but the practice never works for me. If I’ve set something aside for more than a few days — which is often the case because of other commitments — I go back and read from page one to get my head back into the story, editing as I read. Most the edits are minor, but if I see the opportunity, I’ll often weave in a thread that occurred to me when I was writing a later chapter. Getting to the end of a first draft takes forever, but the manuscript is usually in pretty good shape when I finally do.

Who’s next on the blog hop?

Sometime the week of September 8, the hop continues with these stops:

Sara Testarossa

Lane Hayes

K.M. Cambion

Elizabeth Noble

To hop backward, click here to bounce over to Charlie’s post where I’m tagged. Thanks for stopping by!


4 responses to “Fabulous Five Blog Hop”

  1. Interesting, informative post! I wish you the best on your next project, wherever it takes you. as I told you before, I very much understand the challenges of balancing a day job and a writing career, and that is without even having submitted anything to be published yet (mainly due to said day job). We have talked a bit about gay fiction versus gay romance, and I look forward to reading your first three novels. The first two paperbacks are sitting on my table waiting to be picked up, and the third is on my Nook. I have a feeling that your personal experiences that have influenced the books will make the stories all the richer. I know it’s possible to not just write what you know, otherwise we wouldn’t have fantasy, but there is still something neat about writing from personal experience. So, as much as I love the novels about gay and bisexual men written by women (and many seem realistic), I also greatly appreciate gay and bi men writing in the genres. I think the only male author in this genre that I’ve read more than a short story by so far is Jamie Fessenden, and I love his books. He’s among my favorite authors in any genre, haha. I like the little I’ve read by Andrew Q. Gordon so far, too. Anyway, your books are next on my list after a novel by Vicktor Alexander, which I won in another giveaway before yours! That shows how behind on reading I am (I own the first 50 or so books on my Goodreads TBR shelf). Thank you for tagging me, and I look forward to answering these questions on my blog next week.

    • Just an addition: I want to make it VERY clear that I fully respect women writing gay romance/MM. I’m one, myself! I just feel that men who are gay/bi/pan have may have an additional something to add to their stories, if they’ve lived through the experiences their gay/bi/pan male characters have. I know we all can take our personal experiences and use them for plot/characterization fodder, so that’s where my comment stemmed from.

      • Thanks, Sara! I’ve learned there are different ways to write “what you know.” Life experience plays a role. I write believable straight female characters (Linda DelGado in Until Thanksgiving, Shirley White in After Christmas Eve, and Liana Salvatore in Happy Independence Day. Nobody has ever jumped me for trying to write female characters as a gay man. Tastes vary. I took bad reviews personally at first, but now I know my story wasn’t for that particular reader.

        Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to your post!

        • You’re absolutely right! I would hope that your characters who aren’t gay men are believable as well! I look forward to reading them. You’ve probably heard the quote about George R.R. Martin writing such believable female characters – how he writes them as though they’re human beings. It’s kind of like that with this genre. We’re all people, we just have different genders and orientations.

          Tastes indeed vary, and that’s ok. Recently, I gave one story three stars due to the writing style having some things that bothered me, but in my review I said that it was a personal thing, and that others’ mileage may vary.

          I will get my post together soon!