Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Fiction - The Ring Toss Pt. 2

A last-minute change lands Mack in a long white dress, but can she commit?

So last week I posted the first installment of The Ring Toss, a short story sequel to my holiday story The Santa DragJump HERE if you want to check out Part 1.

This time, Mack's been cast to play a bridesmaid in an equity-waiver production of "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", though the play's director wants to talk to her. Sorta like being called to the principle's office, but not as relaxing...

Dusty Squires, our director, had commandeered the only room with a window. It was a narrow slice of sunshine set high in the wall, an opening that would let in all the smog anyone could want. The room itself was smaller than most of the others, with barely enough space for a computer desk and a rolling rack for costumes. Dusty directed plays at the Houstonian a couple times a year and had turned the room into his space.

I put a few solid raps on the door before I pushed it open, knowing Cheyenne had headed in this direction. She and Dusty were a very affectionate couple and I so didn’t want to catch the two of them between “costume changes.”

“Hi-ho,” a deep baritone voice called in response to my knock.

I pushed the door open. “You beckoned, oh fearless leader?”

Dusty stood behind his desk, his precision haircut just barely flecked with grey. Between his voice and the way he carried himself, I half expected him to be wearing a beret and a cashmere scarf wrapped around his neck, even though eighty degrees and sunshine would discourage both of those things. Cheyenne was across the room, leaning against the wall with her arms crossed.

“Well if it isn’t the girl of the hour,” Dusty said. I heard Cheyenne tsk as she re-crossed her arms.

“What’d I do now?” I glanced from him to Cheyenne and back. She didn’t look nearly as sprightly as she had when we’d met up at the back door. Something was wrong. I shook my head, indicating he should go on.

“Candi’s flying out in the morning to shoot a series of Coke commercials up in the Bay area.”

“That’s fabulous,” I said, even as my mind was putting the pieces together. “We open tomorrow.”

“Yeah, so, like, I figure you can take over the role of Brittney.” He only sounded a little desperate.

“The bride? I…um…I guess.”

“I’ve got the part memorized already,” Cheyenne blurted.

Okay, issue identified.

“Cheyenne, sugar, the costumes won’t fit and, well, I want Mackenzie to do it.” So there was a downside to dating someone in the cast. Dusty’s smile was a mix of chagrin and embarrassment. This dirty old man wasn’t going to get any sweet, young loving tonight.

“I can manage it,” I said, bringing them back from the brink of war. “You want me in all of Candi’s costumes?” I sure hoped not, because that meant wearing a trashy little dress for the party scenes and a wedding gown at the end.

Dusty showed me his inner hard-ass. “Yeah, because I’m going to play Kenley so I’ll need your jeans and things.”

I looked away so he wouldn’t see how fast my eyes were rolling.

“I’ve done drag before, Mackie, and God knows I remember your lines better than you do.”
He had me there. “I guess, sure. I’ll do my hair quick and look over the script.”

“I can do your hair, Mackie.” Cheyenne squared her shoulders and did her best to act like there was nothing bothering her. Kudos to her for that.

“Cheyenne.” Dusty would die before he’d grovel, but something in his voice came close. I made for the door, figuring Cheyenne wasn’t going to make things easy for him. I didn’t want to get in the middle if I could help it.

“Great,” I said, and gave her a half-smile. If she could play nice, so could I.

She crossed the room in about three strides. “Worked as a hair stylist back home. We’ll get you fixed up in no time.”

Dusty smiled at me, trying to share his bulletproof confidence as I followed Cheyenne out of the room. He was right about one thing. My raspy, lady-tenor voice sounded masculine enough no one was likely to notice the difference with him playing Kenley.

“Someone should pinch his head off and use it for bait,” Cheyenne whispered as we walked up the hall.

I totally knew how she felt.

An hour later I was perched on a folding chair in front of the big mirror in the dressing room. Cheyenne was behind me, making my hair a whole lot straighter than God had ever intended. She was also pulling just hard enough I could tell she was still pissed Dusty had asked me to play Brittney. I wanted to sympathize, but it was hard when I was worried about losing my hair.

It took some negotiation and a lot of patience to find the right position and hold still. The fan was at the opposite end of the room, too far away to do me much good, and I wasn’t quite sure how I’d avoid sweating off the make-up before I hit the stage.

In between strokes with the flat iron, Cheyenne was feeding me lines. “C’mon Brittney, the limo will be here in a minute.”

With barely a pause, I responded, “I want more champagne. Can we drink champagne in the—” My cell phone chirped and I jumped, blowing my concentration and making her swear. “Joe.”

It’s beer-thirty. Where are you?

I’d never been so happy to see a text message. I ran my fingers quickly over the keys, letting him know about the change in my role. He was in New Orleans filming a zombie-vampire thing, about two weeks into his eight-week shooting schedule. Even with the time difference, he must have knocked off early. He described his role as “second hellspawn on the left.” I scolded him for making fun, because it was a speaking part and he was making decent money. Meanwhile, Miss Lonely Bits—that would be me—was making do with daily text messages and the occasional phone call.

“Type faster. You’ve got a couple more scenes to run.” Cheyenne had found her inner schoolteacher and was coming at me full force.

 She’d see me in the mirror if I rolled my eyes, so I blinked slowly a couple times to get over the temptation. “I totally miss him.”

“Must be living in a state of textpectation.”

I laughed. “What?”

“When you’re expecting a text, it’s texpectation.”

I groaned and she came close to chuckling.

She shifted around to reach the next section of my wavy hair. “Yeah, texting is good for some things, except when you want a little lovin’. Then you need ‘em right up close.”
I groaned even louder. “The other night I tried to get him to send me a picture of his…you know…so I wouldn’t forget what it looked like.” I laughed. “He wouldn’t do it.”

Silence. I looked up, but her eyes were stuck on something behind my back. I slowly turned. Geneva stood beside the rolling rack of costumes in the middle of the room. Her normally polished semi-smile looked a little tight, betraying the fact she’d just heard me say I’d wanted her ex-fiancé to text me a picture of his johnson. Timing is everything and all that.

“Hi Geneva,” Cheyenne said, waving the flat iron like an oversized spatula.

Geneva stared at me like I was a bug. “Dusty thought maybe we should run through a couple of scenes.”

I scrambled up from my seat and faced her, hoping the movement would distract her from the burning blush washing up my cheeks. Geneva is gorgeous with high cheekbones and the body of a swimsuit model—which she is. She also has a remote, Mona Lisa quality men can’t get enough of. Joe might be the only guy in history who had broken up with her. Because of me. The thought made my brain hurt. “Are you about finished with me, Cheyenne?”

“You know, I think I could use a pop.” Cheyenne propped the flat iron on the nearest tabletop and zipped out of the room.

Geneva raised an elegant eyebrow and smiled after her. “Does pop refer to something she and Dusty do together?”

I answered with a surprised huff of laughter. “I think she means soda—like, soda pop.”

“I hope so.”

“Nah, she’s not looking for Dusty. She’s pissed at him because he’s got me playing Brittney.”

“Aha. Ambitious little kitten, isn’t she?” Geneva pulled a chair closer to where I had been sitting and opened her script. She was in a turquoise sports bra and a pair of black yoga pants that slid down over her butt like fabric paint.

“She told me once that to save enough money to move out here, she only allowed herself twenty dollars a week for spending money.” I turned my chair to face Geneva’s and sat back down. It was way easier to talk about the other actors than to acknowledge the elephant squatting between the two of us. Geneva had always been nice to me, and in fact she’d married a studio executive a year ago. Guess she figured a guy in a suit would help stabilize her lifestyle. Even though she wasn’t the competition, she still made me uncomfortable. Which made her uncomfortable.

“Came all the way out here to hook up with Dusty Squires.” Geneva shook her head.

“Yeah, well, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. He’s helping her make connections and she’s, well, twenty-two.”

“And he’s forty.”

“She’ll have her SAG card in about another minute. It’s kind of surprising he didn’t give her the part.”

Geneva sighed. Getting older in this town sucked. “Okay, what scene do you want to run?”

We smiled at each other without any particular warmth. Truce declared. In all honesty, I knew most of the lines in the play just from having heard them so often. There was only one scene where she and I were the only characters onstage. If things were going to get weird, it would likely happen then.

“Since it’s just the two of us, let’s go to the third act, after Brittney runs out of the nightclub.”

She turned to a page near the end of the script and we got to work.

Isn't it nice how fate is giving Mack the chance to work out her bridal issues? Check back next Friday to see how she's coping...
Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


So Wednesdays I usually make a promo post, but this week's a little different. I'm not promoting someone else's work. I'm celebrating my own! A little over two years ago, I stared a project about a woman who inherits her grandmother's falling-down Craftsman house. She takes a hiatus from life in L.A. and comes home to Seattle with the intent to clean the place up and get it on the market. She doesn't realize how big the project's going to be, and she doesn't expect to fall madly in love.

With her best friend's (much) younger brother.


I loved the concept, but once the first rush of words had passed, I had some trouble sticking with it. In order to motivate myself, I made a series of Six Sentence Sunday blog posts (starting HERE) and the warm fuzzy feedback I got on them gave me the push to keep going. I workshopped the story in Margie Lawson's Fab 30 class, and about a year later, the project helped me get me a contract with my agent Margaret Bail.

After several re-writes - and much patience on Margaret's part - she took the novel shopping, and today I'm thrilled to announce that King Stud has found a home with Evernight Publishing! I don't have much in the way of details yet, but I'm excited to be working with Evernight. They have a great reputation for supporting their authors, and their cover art is amazing.

And so....drumroll....I present...

King Stud: An O'Connor Family Novel


Danielle’s got a deadline. She’s got three months to make her Grandmother’s rundown Craftsman house livable. Her game plan is to get in, get grubby, and get back to the job she loves in L.A. She needs help, and a high school friend’s younger brother is a skilled carpenter, so she hires him. It’s hard to ignore the buffed body under Ryan’s paint-splattered sweatshirts and worn jeans, but her friend declares her brother’s off-limits and Danielle doesn’t want anything to distract her from getting back to her real life. 

Ryan doesn’t have the cleanest record, either. His recently ex-ed girlfriend wants him back, and he has a temper, though he’s trying hard to lose the reputation for brawling. He’s also had a crush on Danielle since he was a kid. Despite their nine-year age difference, she triggers something deep, something he knows is worth pursuing.

It doesn’t take long before the paint under Danielle’s fingernails starts feeling more natural than the L.A. sunshine, and she faces a tough decision. She’ll have to navigate the professional drama, the plumbing disasters, and the cranky best friend to find something she hasn’t had before: a real home, and a man who loves her.

As soon as I know more - like the cover reveal and release dates - I'll be sure to spread the word. In the meantime, thank you to Margaret for all your input and for getting the deal, thank you to Rhay & Amanda & Michele & Ellen & Debbie & Synithia & all the Fab30 students for beta reading - and I might have forgotten someone and if so I'm sorry!!

You can probably tell from the title that this is the first in a series, which means I gotta get busy. Thanks very much for all the support. I'm so looking forward to having King Stud out in the world!


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Setting Can Screw You: A Cautionary Tale

So last week I dug down into my TBR pile and found a popular book by one of the big names in m/m romance. I've read and enjoyed several other books by this author and trusted that I'd be in for a few hours of fun.

Sadly by about half-way through, I wanted to bounce my kindle off the floor.

You want to know why?

Because one of the heroes lived in Seattle, and the other worked in Tacoma, and they drove up and down Interstate 5 and never once complained about the traffic. For someone who lives in Seattle, that's sort of like neglecting to mention the rain or the Starbucks on every corner.

In a Seattle Times article last March, a group called the Tom Tom Navigation Company said Seattle had the 5th worst traffic in the country. We were right there behind Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu. This is not a new problem. We've been in the top ten for the last twenty years at least. 

But seriously, as much driving around as the guys in this book did, most of the action would have had to take place in the FBI agent's SUV, because they would have been spent the whole novel on the freeway.

I don't mean to get ranty about Seattle traffic - although it does suck - but when a character in Tacoma agrees to meet someone in Seattle by 5:30 on a Friday afternoon, their first thought better be "How soon do I have to leave?"  Because if I had to drive those 45 miles, I'd give myself an hour or even ninety minutes. Though I loved the interaction between the characters and thought the plot was clever and suspenseful, in my mind the author missed something pretty basic.

And as a writer, that kind of scares the crap out of me, because you don't know what you don't know.

You know?

Regardless of the setting - or the time period, for that matter - I want to get the details right, to avoid bumping the reader out of the story with something as dumb as a missing traffic jam. Either I limit myself to writing contemporary stories set in Seattle, or I better have some strategies for ensuring my own accuracy.

I dug around to see if I could find information about how to keep from making setting errors, and to a large extent, it's a problem of worldbuilding. 

But Liv! Wait! 

Worldbuilding is for fantasy novels or science fiction, not contemporary settings. Right? 

Apparently not. 

The post Check Your Facts on The Editor's Blog is a great resource for preventing setting errors. It also reads like the mirror image of Patricia C. Wrede's list of worldbuilding questions. Ms. Wrede's list asks, "what kind of animals are in your world?", while the Editor's Blog post asks "are the animals in your story appropriate to the world?" They're coming from different angles to get at the same information.

(Janice Hardy's also got some good information on developing your setting in this Worldbuilding 101 post on the Fiction University blog.) 

When you're working with a contemporary setting, I think the tendency is to assume things are pretty much the same as your own reality. Grinding down to the level of detail suggested in any of the sources I've mentioned would take a whole lot of work, and most of the information you develop would never make it onto the page. Maybe the answer is to streamline some, to tackle the most pertinent bits of information and make sure you get them right.

But how do you decide what's pertinent for a place you've never been to?

  • Research
    • Thank God for the internet! More importantly, thank God for GOOGLE! I read as much as I can stand about all aspects of my chosen setting, and will even take screenshots of specific locations from GoogleEarth. I save the links in Evernote, organized by topic, or on the Pinterest board for that story.
  • Visit
    • All the research in the world can't replace actually standing on the ground. It may not always be economically feasible, but visiting the location of your story is the best way to get the nitty-gritty details that can make a setting pop. Google is very, very good, but it can't replace your own five senses, nor your experience of a place.
  • Beta-reader
    • If you're serious about writing, you know the value of a good beta reader, but I would argue that if you're going to set a story outside of your own home town, you should try to find a local to read through it. My urban fantasy novel Hell...The Story is set in L.A., and after one of the final editing passes, I sent a copy to my sister who lives there. Her whole assignment was to take a red pen to anything that didn't ring true, and her ideas and suggestions were invaluable.
I'm pretty sure I would have had all kinds of helpful suggestions if the author of the traffic-less book had asked me to beta read it. Maybe I should track them down and offer to help with future projects...

My list of suggestions for how to keep the setting real is by no means exhaustive. Do you have any ideas to add?


Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Fiction - The Ring Toss Pt. 1

So last Christmas I put one of my short stories up on Amazon. The Santa Drag had first appeared in an anthology for Still Moments Publishing, but when they went out of business, I got the rights back. Publishing it on Amazon was a bit of a whim, and I had a lot of fun with the process. At the time, I'd intended to follow up by publishing the sequel, The Ring Toss.


In the meantime, I ran my story Aloha, Baby here on the blog in eight installments. And as much fun as I had publishing The Santa Drag, running the story on the blog was more satisfying. Given that, I decided that rather than publish The Ring Toss, I'd start by putting it up here. It's a wedding story, so we're at the right time of year, and it picks up about three years after The Santa Drag ended...

A last-minute change lands Mack in a long white dress, but can she commit?


The Play – Something Borrowed, Something Blue: A Bachelorette’s Adventure

Director: Dusty Squires
Assistant to the Director: Donald Loudemilk

Brittney (the bride): Mackenzie Reed
Mara (the maid of honor): Geneva Louise
Kenley (the bride’s sister): Dusty Squires
Caitlyn (the bridesmaid): Cheyenne Miller
Salvatore (the stripper): Julio Lorenze
Pete (the groom): Julio Lorenze
Synopsis: Brittney is gearing up for the biggest day of her life with the help of her friends and her older sister. The girls head out for one last, wild night and things get a little out of hand. Will Brittney pass the test and make it to the church on time?

It wasn’t the little Mexican girl’s fault. She just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I was stopped at a light on the corner of Union and Court Streets in front of Our Lady of Loretto, the big, old Mexican-Catholic church in my neighborhood. The girl and her whole fam-damily crossed the street in front of me. Teased, sprayed, and dressed in a whirlpool of white lace studded with glitter, she held tight to an older guy with a slicked-back ponytail. He looked to be about my age and I guessed he was her father. Three young girls walked behind her, their bright satin dresses ruffled like a bouquet of bougainvillea, flowers so fragile they wouldn’t survive in a vase. A Quinceañera. The girl was fifteen years old and dressed like a bride. I was over twice her age and never had that chance. Seeing her set off a rolling boil in my belly.

It was my own fault, really. Joe had asked. Twice, not counting when we were twenty-two and he begged me to move to L.A. with him. I turned him down that time. When we ran into each other back in Seattle three years ago, I said yes. To moving, not marriage. He asked me to move to L.A. despite the fact that when he kissed me my lips tasted like spirit gum remover from the Santa Claus beard I’d been wearing. He never complained— gotta love a guy who can overlook something like that.

The light turned green and, after waiting for the last of the little bride-lette’s family to move past my car, I headed up the street. I was on my way to the dress rehearsal for A Bachelorette’s Adventure—an equity-waiver production I’d signed on for to fill time while Joe was out of town.

Mackenzie Reed, ironic bridesmaid. It was perfect casting. Sometimes I asked myself why a girl who had the stones to play Santa in a mall was too chicken to be a bride in real life. Wish I had the answer to that one.

I was headed for the Houstonian Theater which is at the end of Theater Row on Santa Monica Boulevard. It isn’t much more than five miles from my house, though the never-ending rush hour turned the drive into a much longer trip. I’d heard a SIG Alert for the one-o-one, which is L.A. speak for “stay off the freeway, fool.” Traffic was still slow. There must have been some unlisted road work happening on my secret back route, so I had plenty of time to bond with my neighbors as we crawled past billboards, strip malls, and palm trees. Driving with the top down on my ancient convertible Peugeot, the early June sun tried to bake away my negativity. Who needs sunscreen?

Parking took so long that if I were a teakettle, the roiling boil in my stomach would have had me squealing higher than a dog whistle. Driving a cool, old car meant sacrifice and my baby wasn’t much for air conditioning. When I finally climbed out, my crinkled cotton skirt was pasted to the backs of my thighs. I peeled it off and settled it over my hips, leaving my layered tank-top/T-shirt combo untucked. The shirts ended about an inch above where the skirt began and that was fine with me. My plain, old belly button was cute, even without a tattoo or piercing.

Despite the traffic and my cranky attitude, I arrived on time. “Equity-waiver” means few seats and no budget. I was getting paid in good karma and didn’t want to blow it by showing up late. Good karma and the chance to be seen by a casting director who might hire me for something that actually paid money.

The theater has a deco-style clay façade fronting a plain brick box, with a parking lot on one side and an alley in the back. I crossed the parking lot in front of the brown-skinned, Betty-Boop-like mural painted on the theater’s wall. Betty’s eyelashes were longer than my arm and she was shilling for Paramount, advertising some new movie that might yet go straight to video. I’d seen her around town a lot, a freaky mélange of street art and advertising which wasn’t quite as cool as her designers might have hoped.

I was punching in the code to unlock the back door of the theater when Cheyenne came up behind me. She was brand new to L.A., an ex-cheerleader who’d transplanted herself from Chadron, Nebraska. She was also dating Dusty Squires, our play’s director.

“You look a little pickled, Mackie,” she said as I pushed open the door. All the theater people call me Mackie because Joe calls me Mackie. I’d gotten so used to it I forgot to introduce myself to people as Mack.

“Exhaust-fume toxicity.” I held the door for her to come in, and then gave the handle a good tug to get it completely closed.

“Yuck.” She laughed. “See you in the dressing room.”

She headed in the general direction of the director’s office while I went up to the communal dressing room. Cheyenne has the wide, brown eyes and turned-up nose of a kitten. Underneath I could see the bones of the cat she would become after a few more months in Hollyweird had buffed the country off her. She brought out my big-sister instincts. For starters, I wanted to get rid of every pair of little ballerina flats and as many of her prissy, tailored jeans as I could. We’d donate them to the Salvation Army or something and I’d take her shopping for some real clothes. I’m helpful that way.

Backstage, the Houstonian was a warren of small rooms and dim hallways. The white walls had been tarnished by time and use. The hallways were covered with dark-grey carpeting and the rooms had tired, hardwood floors. We had a dressing room staked out and everybody except Dusty shared it. Julio Lorenze, the only man in the cast, didn’t appear ’til the second act so we were usually decent by the time he arrived. Wouldn’t have mattered, though. I’ve been in plays where the costumes were kept in the alley out back.  Semi-public displays of nudity come with the territory.

The dressing room was a windowless rectangle. I knocked once on the door—to be polite—and pushed it open. The door was at one of the short ends of the room and each of the long walls had a mismatched collection of old bookcases and tables pushed up against them. A couple of rolling racks of costumes ran down the center and chairs were set randomly around. The short wall opposite the door was covered with a full-length mirror.

I dropped my bag on the nearest chair and noticed a note pinned to the mirror. Going closer, I saw it was for me.

Mack—come C me—D

I translated it as an invitation to head to the director’s office. I shrugged and did a couple shoulder rolls, trying to expel some of the bubbling tension twisting in my gut, then wasted a little time by checking to make sure my costumes were where I left them. Everything was in the right place so I eyeballed my phone for a text from Joe. Nothing. Bummer.

I gave the shoulders one more twirl. It was time to put on my big-girl panties and go see what Dusty wanted.

Hmm...I wonder what kind of trouble Mack's going to get herself into this time. If you're curious, jump HERE for part 2...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shadow Beneath the Sea by Joanna Lloyd



Today my guest is fellow Crimson Romance author Joanna Lloyd, who's book Shadow Beneath the Sea is on sale this week! 


1915: Britain and Germany are at war and the waters off Great Britain have been declared a war zone. In six days the luxury ocean liner, Lusitania, sails from New York to England with 1,959 passengers on board.

The story of the 202nd Atlantic crossing of the luxury liner, Lusitania was one of the great maritime disasters of the last century. The actions of the German U-boat captain, as the great ship cruised the Irish coast, spawned a flood of conspiracy theories, investigations, a court case, hard questions of the British Admiralty, and targeted Captain William Turner as the scapegoat. The whole truth of this disaster was closely guarded to protect the actions or non-actions of the Admiralty. 

However, there sailed on this ship a group of fictional characters whose motives for travel were as varied as their personalities. In the time it took to cross the Atlantic Ocean, in the microcosm of this floating universe, lies and deceit festered, secrets changed lives, money was made and lost and a deep and lasting passion ignited between Lillian Marshall and Edward James. 


A cold chill crept up her spine, and she licked her lips, her mouth suddenly as dry as an empty coal bin. Before she could answer, there was a collective gasp in the room. The colonel had folded his cards and relaxed back into his chair. Walter and Zeke stared, unblinking at each other. 

“Did you hear me, Walt? I am calling you and raising ten thousand dollars.”

Her father pulled out a large handkerchief, patted his throat and put his money on the table. Lillian saw the nervous gesture, but it didn’t match the gleam of excitement in his eyes. “Show your cards, Zeke.”

Edward grabbed her arm. “Tell me, now, Lillian. Quickly, before they end this.” 

Tears welled in her eyes at the lies she was about to utter, but her future depended on this money. “There is nothing to tell, Edward. You have allowed your imagination to get the better of you.” His gray eyes searched her face, begging for the truth, and in that moment she knew she had wronged him as much as he had wronged her. 

Buy Links

Amazon US   -   Amazon UK   -   Amazon AUS


Joanna Lloyd was born in Papua New Guinea and educated in Sydney, Australia. With a background in Psychology, she trained as a mediator and conducted Workplace and Family Law mediations for over twenty years. After muscular dystrophy caused her to be wheelchair bound, she transferred her fascination with human behaviour from real people to the written word. She now lives, and writes historical and contemporary fiction, in tropical Far North Queensland, Australia - her version of paradise.

Contact Joanna on her website, blog, Facebook, or Twitter...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

I accidentally double-booked myself, so I'm going to be a bit of a brat and give you a taste of the post here, with a jump to the Relentless Writers, my group blog for the rest of it. Please bear (bare?) with me and make the jump, but keep an eye out over here because very soon I'm going to have a happy announcement about my contemporary romance King Stud...)

Where do you get your ideas?

I'm a writer. People ask me that. And when they ask, I want to do this...

Yeah Ke$ha, I don't know either.

Because tearing my hair out is easier than trying to explain how I come up with my ideas. Take my current project...

Jack rides his bike from Portland to Seattle in January because his maybe-ex-boyfriend's mom is in the hospital and he doesn't want to accept the gift of an airplane ticket. Will his stubborn streak end things for good, or can he and Gregory find a way to rekindle their love?

As hard as it is to summarize a 200 page story in fifty words, it's even harder to explain how I came up with it in the first place. Most people who aren't writers (or artists, or musicians, or participants in any other kind of creative endeavor) think ....

Ah yes, to learn what most people think, you'll have to jump HERE. Thanks for playing along...

Gratuitous Prince. Because, Prince.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Beefcake: Then and Now

Burt Reynolds' notorious Cosmo Magazine centerfold from April, '72

It occurred to me recently that a good deal of my social media presence is NSFW. For example, there's an author I follow on Facebook who maintains a private page wherein, twice a day, 365 days a year, she posts pictures of nearly-naked men. And some of them skip the 'nearly'.

And Sunday is Peen Day.

I'm going to let your imagination take care of that one.

My Pinterest stream is loaded with masculine beauty. I figure it's an occupational hazard of being a romance writer. Some of the pictures are just pretty to look at, but some can be quite inspiring. I wrote a whole book - and potentially a series - because I needed to tell the story of the guy with the bird tattoo.

Eric Dane - source unknown

Also, I'm pretty sure this young man with the dark hair and tatts is Joey, younger brother of Ryan from King Stud. (Okay, yeah, he's not really Joey. His name is Atle Petterson, and he's from Norway's X-Games. Jump HERE to read more about him - but make sure your googletranslate is working, because the article is in Norwegian. But the pictures are pretty.)

Between authors posting photos to Facebook and Pinterest, and photographers like Michael Stokes sharing their work on Facebook and Twitter, I sometimes think that buffed young men could give cat pix a run for their money for internet popularity.

But has it always been this way?

I actually did a google search, looking for some scholarly paper that might explain why it seems we're having something of a heyday for photographing men. The closest I came (and I might not have looked that hard) was the Wikipedia definition of 'beefcake', where they state that while the cheesecake pictures of women were always more popular, as far back as the 1920s some actors were designated beefcake and photographed with their shirts off.

The Bergland Brothers vintage beefcake - 

And then there were men who were photographed for the enjoyment of other men. Because I don't think teenage girls from my mother's generation hid these beauties in their high school lockers.

Forrester Millard and John Tristam photographed by the Althletic Model Guild

So maybe there have been two changes: the number of photographs of men intended primarily to glorify their beauty, and the audience for those photographs. Because up until Playgirl Magazine in the '70s and '80s, women weren't really allowed or expected to want to see such things.

And now we have Magic Mike...

Who knew Channing Tatum could dance like that?

I totally agree, Marlon. Totally.

So I'm not sure what I proved here today, other than that men have been handsome for at least as long as people have been able to photograph them. Ah well....I hope you enjoyed the view.

Happy Weekend!