Pot Luck: Comment Policy; Other People’s Stories; WIPs

Comment Policy: I have WordPress set up so that each new commenter has to register and then have their first comment approved — but once that happens, you can comment all you like. While I may get a bit cross about certain topics (punctuation, people making assumptions about why I do certain things, etc.), I have committed to a policy of allowing pretty much any and all comments unless they are A) laden with vile language/insults or B) revealing personal info about myself or others (phone number, address, shoe size). That means that yes, your first comment can be about how I’m an idiot for feeling possessive about my ellipses, and I will approve it.

Other People’s Stories: Reesa and Michelle will be releasing a new Slipstream short sometime in the near future. Huzzah!

Works In Progress: I may miss the deadline for at least one of the sub calls I’ve been working on. (I did just double-check, however, and discovered that it’s later than I thought it was.) For reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture, I’m not getting much work done on anything — and it drives me crazy. On the other hand, I do finally have an appointment to get my hair cut, so there is that.

Apparently, I think you’re stupid.

From the post ‘4 Writing Crutches That Insult A Reader’s Intelligence‘, on Kristen Lamb’s blog, after the usual “NEVER USE ADVERBS OR YOU SUCK” advice*:

In fiction, bold font and italics are almost never acceptable. Again, if the prose is well written, the reader will stress the word(s) in his head. Trust me. We don’t need to hold our reader’s hand, or brain, or whatever.

Bold font I’ll give her, because in fiction, bold font is the exclusive domain of things like chapter headings and the like. Italics, on the other hand… I don’t agree that “well-written prose” automatically equals the reader “stress[ing] the word(s) in his head”. Let’s try an experiment!

Here I have a passage from First Flight, italics removed. Can you tell what’s supposed to be emphasized?

The top came open easily, and he stared. Eggs. LOTS of eggs. More eggs than he’d ever seen in his whole life, as far as he knew. Chris picked one out and held it up, suddenly realizing that he didn’t know how to get them open. He needed help. He needed a tool. He needed… a spoon.

And here’s the same one, with the intelligence-insulting italics in place:

The top came open easily, and he stared. Eggs. LOTS of eggs. More eggs than he’d ever seen in his whole life, as far as he knew. Chris picked one out and held it up, suddenly realizing that he didn’t know how to get them open. He needed help. He needed a tool. He needed… a spoon.

I don’t use italics because I think my readers are stupid. I use italics because I want my readers to have the story the way I see and hear it in my own head. That’s what they’re looking for, after all–the story that I am telling. Don’t I owe it to them to tell it the way it and the characters demand it be told?

As usual, the post ignores dialogue entirely. Here’s another little experiment with italics, this time with Benny and Phil. (This scene is in first-person, from Phil’s agrammatical POV.)

“Will was drunk and he was being silly. Was that it?” I was gonna say no, but he kept talkin’. “Or are you planning to kill me?”

“Kill–Sweet Jesus! What the hell?” I stared at him, my mouth flappin’ ’cause I din’t know what to say about that. Din’t he know me? “What the hell? Why the hell would y’think that? I ain’t gonna kill you, Benny; I ain’t even thought about it. Kill you? You lose your mind or somethin’?”

Benny shrugged. “You’ve heard the other guys talking about that kind of thing. It’s happened before.”

Where does Phil’s emphasis fall? How do those words sound, what cadence do they follow?

Here’s the original version:

“Will was drunk and he was being silly. Was that it?” I was gonna say no, but he kept talkin’. “Or are you planning to kill me?”

“Kill–Sweet Jesus! What the hell?” I stared at him, my mouth flappin’ ’cause I din’t know what to say about that. Din’t he know me? “What the hell? Why the hell would y’think that? I ain’t gonna kill you, Benny; I ain’t even thought about it. Kill you? You lose your mind or somethin’?”

Benny shrugged. “You’ve heard the other guys talking about that kind of thing. It’s happened before.”

So did that make you feel stupid? I hope not, because all that was supposed to happen was that you were supposed to hear Phil’s voice, loud and clear.

I’m the sort of person who, if they were going to insult someone, would make it a bit more obvious than through the use of formatting in my writing.

* Which, to be absolutely fair, she did** temper with the note that one can use adverbs as long as you weren’t pedestrian about it.

** This is non-fiction, so it’s okay to use italics.

A New Free Read!

Option Three: The One That’s Never On the List. Shelby Foster has never really been fond of bureacracy, and when it interferes with his job one too many times, he takes matters into his own hands. He already has plenty of aliens in his life, so what’s one in his bathtub? Besides attractive, in a slippery sort of way… A definite R rating, for nudity and rather more intimate human/alien relations.

More Hot Summer Days Recommended Reads

I haven’t been getting much writing done, for reasons that don’t need exploring at this juncture. In an effort to try feeling accomplished, I caught up on my HSD reading. Here’s the latest that I’ve liked, in no particular order whatsoever:

Bridges, by M. J. O’Shea. More of an enemies-to-lovers story, so it takes a little time for the guys to get their heads around the idea that maybe there could be more to their relationship. I definitely need more O’Shea and Vaughn in my life.

Photo Booth, by Neil Plakcy. A cowboy hooks up with an FBI agent: it sounds like that should end with “can they get along in the suburbs?!”, but Mr. Plakcy makes it work. (Full disclosure: I’m proud to say that Mr. Plakcy was the first editor to ever buy one of my stories, but that has nothing to do with the fact that I liked Photo Booth.)

Delivery With A Smile, by Megan Derr. A delivery guy finally meets the son of one of the ladies on his route. She’d told him her boy was single and handsome, but she left out that whole ‘tends to kill people’ thing…

Like The Taste Of Summer, by Kaje Harper. Jack Korbel hasn’t regretted a single minute of his life since the moment he decided that the only way out was straight through.

The Tears Of The Sea, by Marguerite Labbe. A lovely interpretation of an Irish folktale, and if you’re at all a fan of the things that live in the sea, you should give it a try.

Luscious Love, by Zach Sweets. A confession, first: having been through food-handler’s licensing classes, my first reaction to the picture was “Oh, God, they’re gonna have to throw out the whole batch and start over, and tempering chocolate can be kind of a bitch…” That, however, has nothing to do with the story, which is a cute little read about a man finding more than just a job. (Also, it pokes my Characters With Communication Issues button.)

Cupid’s Beau, by the intentionally-punning (and aptly-named) Jade Archer. You’d think finding love would be easy, for a Cupid — it’s understandable, he’s a Cupid, after all. Sadly, you’d be wrong… At least until the right person shows up.

The Importance Of Being Denny, by Kari Gregg. If you dislike stories wherein everything would be resolved in about ten minutes if one of the characters would just STOP ARGUING already? Yeah, this might not be for you. (He does knock it off, finally.)

The Boy Next Door, by PD Singer. He’s grown up, and he knows what he wants… If the object of his affections will just stop thinking of reasons it won’t work.

Say A Little Prayer, by Clare London. Another story about the seaside, and the unusual things that one can find on the beach. For instance, a naked man.

Super Sock Man, by Amy Lane. I am a fan of Amy Lane’s writing, and this is one of the stories that I was really looking forward to reading. What do hand-knit socks, Pablo Neruda, and a dancer have in common? Donnie’s not entirely sure, but he aims to find out.

Just One Kiss, by Lisa Worrall. This reminds me of Damon Suede’s Hot Heads, but that’s not a bad thing. I’m not a huge fan of “gay for you” stories, but both Hot Heads and Just One Kiss do a good job of selling me on the relationship between the guys. It really helps that they’re both friends-to-lovers stories (which I seem to have developed a real Thing for — who knew?).

Between Friends, by EM Woods. As I said, I’ve developed a Thing for friends-to-lovers stories. This is, surprise! yet another; the friends this time are a soda-delivery guy and his boss. Soda Guy gets into some trouble on his route, and his boss doesn’t take it well…

Sucker-Punch, by Sarah Black. A world champion boxer and his physical therapist take their relationship beyond the typical therapist-patient boundaries. I’m not a fan of boxing at all, but I kept reading to the end, which was worth it.

Be My Boy, by Casey K Cox. Owen is adrift, asea, lost in the fog of grief; Mitchell is a young man who doesn’t seem to have any need for Owen at all… Until Mitchell changes his mind.

A Woman With A Dildo, by Cardeno C. When we’re not being suspected of being indecisive or slutty or some other unflattering thing, people are worrying that we bisexuals’s heads are going to be turned merely by the equipment possessed by the opposite gender of our current partner — whether that equipment is biological or man-made (sorry). In this story, the point is made that there’s more to attraction than just parts.

Bear Naked, by JL Merrow. And to counteract the seriousness of the last story, here’s a fun little tale of a man who steps way outside of his comfort zone and discovers that he won’t regret it after all.

The Muse, by Astrid. An artist and his boyfriend live across the street from a woman with a camera. It all begins with an inadvertant pose and photo dropped in their mailbox…

— Crocodile Undie, by AJ Llewellyn. This story is, ultimately, about the blossoming of a relationship. It also involves three men named Bruce, a photoshoot at a lake, and tourists acting like, well, tourists.

One of the best parts about this project is not only reading things from authors I know I like, but discovering new voices, as well. Not that my budget can handle finding more things for me to buy, but at least I’ll have a list ready if I should win the lottery.

I’m not a delicate flower.

I do use a pansy as my profile picture on Facebook, but that’s because one of my favorite parts of living in Seattle was the fact that I could always find pansies in bloom in November and December — completely confounding those who use “pansy!” as a slur meaning soft and weak.

That aside, I am not a wilting hothouse vine, needing coddling. If you dislike something of mine enough that you’re willing to slap a single-star rating on it, I’d appreciate knowing what you didn’t like. The characters? The way I used a particular phrase or word? The fact that I [put in/left out] something you [hate/love]? I’m not aiming to please all of the people all of the time — that’s entirely impossible — but if I’ve got an area in which I could improve, then I’d like to know.

Last Lines

The last thing I wrote from the five most recent documents in Word:

  • Everyone acknowledged Andrew’s warnings, their amusement fading as they fell into a double paceline with Paragon Logistics. —cyclist thing
  • “I’m looking forward to next week.” —Max & Trev: Schooling Rhys
  • “I am not fine!” —untitled Halloween Paranormal Thing
  • Despite Kelvi’s relatively small size, he was heavy with muscles earned through long hours at his anvil; despite Tevseth’s determination to put his sorrow aside, it was too new not to bite. —Sailors Something
  • “Will that really help? They have to be getting ideas from somewhere,” Nima said. —Sequel to my Odd Anglican Thing

Free Samples For Everyone! Eventually.

A request for another story like my Hot Summer Days Story, though with “real boys” and a Happily Ever After, got me to thinking that I should really put up samples/excerpts of my stuff so that people can see what they’re likely to get. So, I’ll be doing that, soonishly.

In the meantime, the in-between time, here’s a completely random snippet of Ezekiel and Justinian, inspired by and using words from The Word Museum: Some Of The Most Unusual Words Ever Forgotten. This is all the context I have, other than “set some time after the first thing I wrote featuring them”, so it’s all I can give you.

Ezekiel raised his brows at Justinian’s state of undress. “Looking to go a-clicketing, my handsome dog-fox?”

“Dog-fox?” Justinian made a face at him, then lifted his chin in the direction of the window, through which an expanse of hayfield could be seen. “It is bunting time, isn’t it?”

He laughed, delightedly, closing the distance between them. “What happened to my easily-scandalized scribe?”

“You can still scandalize me,” Justinian said, sounding puzzled.

“But you’re the one suggesting we go out and make love in the grass,” Ezekiel said, slipping an arm around Justinian’s waist so he could pinch the younger man.

“I said no such thing.” Justinian did his best to sound both wounded and diginified, though he looked askance at the pinch. “I simply pointed out that it is the traditional time of year to go courting.”

“You’d rather be courted? Ah! I don’t know if I can remember how.” Ezekiel gave him a squeeze, only half joking. Justinian hadn’t needed courting, at least not that he could tell.

“Or at least asked politely if I’d like to go out for a stroll,” Justinian said, raising his brows and gently slipping away from the other man.

“Well, all right, I can manage that.” Ezekiel took a half-step back, dropped to one knee, and held his hands out. “Dearest Justinian, would you grace me with the honor of your presence whilst I stroll along the lanes and byways of the county?”

Justinian shook his head and took Ezekiel’s hands, pulling at him. “As if I’d refuse. Get up, will you?”