I Don’t Want to be Your Obligation

I am among many when I tell you that much of my time gets sucked up by watching pointless things on Youtube or scrolling through Facebook. I love to follow a new music artist down the rabbit hole and see what great tunes I end up with after my 14 hour marathon but there is someone who has moved beyond just being an ear-gasm for me. She’s influenced me in ways she will never know and cannot know.

I find Youtube to be such a mythical beast. I can know (seemingly) so much about someone but they do not even know I exist. It’s a paradox and at times can be a dangerous one. Fan girls, you know I’m talking about you. Mobbing people isn’t nice even if you think you might get to touch them as they walk by. Anyway, this woman’s name is Meghan Tonjes and she preaches what lives in my soul and fuels my brain. (Casually and not fan-girling at all!)

She’s said this a few times before and I’ve know it to be fact but I was recently helping someone deal with their life when her words slapped me with their truth. Here’s the light for those of you stuck in the dark: “If someone wants to spend time with you, they will. If someone wants to be with you, they will.”

I have spent so much of my life making excuses for the people who weren’t there, lovers and friends. I questioned my thoughts and my judgement in favor of someone who had tossed me aside without some much as a wave. I would make excuses for their behavior like applying a relationship band-aid. Eventually though I had to stop. It’s hard, I know. But if they wanted to make time for me they would. I wouldn’t be thinking about how I would like to spend time with them because I would be with them.

My least favorite part of relationships like this is the other person usually gets defensive. “Well, you never contacted me.” I hate this for two reasons. One, in the age of technology I can pull up on my phone exactly how many unanswered texts there were. Two, “Bitch the phone works both ways.” Despite the fact that I did call them seven times in the past two months, most of which went unanswered or resulted in a two minute conversazione of them saying, “I’ll call you later.”, it’s not solely my responsibility to be the communicator in this relationship.

It sucks to realize I’ve put effort into a relationship that I now feel alone in. The more effort I put in, the more pain. I would begin to wonder what I did wrong and how to fix it. Or I would think of all the other relationships that have ended and wonder if it’s more than that. I would wonder if it was less about this one relationship and more about my love-ability as it were.

But I learned somewhat along the way to stop doing this to myself. I am proud of who I am and sometimes people just grow apart and even more often people either aren’t who you thought they were or they grow into someone you don’t know anymore. It’s not fair and it’s not right but it’s my truth.

It’s time to let go of the ships that we’re sailing alone. Let them sink on their own and grieve them as the weight tugs at you but release it to the watery depths. Someone who once meant a great deal to you, the person you knew when the relationship was good, would never want you to feel the way you do now. Imagine they weren’t the one letting go. Pretend to tell them about this failing relationship. What would they tell you to do about your sinking ship?

And finally, love yourself like you loved them. Don’t mistreat yourself and don’t second guess yourself. Give yourself the confidence you need to stand up and fight for your feelings. But mostly give yourself the room to feel sad before turning your face to the sun and trying again.

Branching out

Branching out by Helena Maeve

Writers come in every flavour. Some of us start in self-publishing, go into more traditional methods, or delve into freelancing. Or we vow to restrict our writing to a hobby. Others define a plan and go about achieving it in a more targeted way. Naturally, neither approach comes packaged with a guarantee of success, but personally I’ve found huge fulfillment in trying new things.

My first foray into publishing, under a different pseudonym, was brief. It was in the early days of Amazon’s e-book platform and I had very little clue of what I was doing. My second attempt was to approach an online publisher and see what happened when I sent in my manuscript. As with Amazon, the experience was eye-opening and confusing at the same time. Both were rewarding in radically different ways. With one I made more profit, with the other I had more control. But both demanded a time commitment that made it easy to settle into a routine.

I’m sure there are writers out there for whom there is comfort in routine and I can definitely see the benefits of having a system already set up so one can concentrate on the writing part of the gig. But I’ve found that sooner or later comfort zones lead to atrophy. I miss the intellectual exercise of making something new work for me, even if it’s easier not to bother. I miss the challenges of new requirements, whether in genre or house rules or simple file formatting.

Comfort zones can be excruciatingly hard to leave. They lure us in under the guise of taking our minds off simple things like language use and siphon our ability to adapt. They’re a false promise of daily monotony paying dividends somewhere down the line. Most importantly, they can be a drag on the imagination.

When I started looking for anthologies I might write for, I was in a creative slump. I had just finished a series for my main publisher and I didn’t know what to do next. The Young Love, Old Hearts submission call came at just the right time. Suddenly I had characters kicking around in my head and ideas that badly wanted to be laid out on paper. I had the desire to do my research and see how I might come up with a story that would be worthy of the anthology. And then the coolest thing happened: the floodgates opened. Suddenly I was bursting with storylines I wanted to explore in different formats, in different genres, for my main publisher and others.

Part of me will always prefer sticking to what I know. It’s the comfortable thing to do. But now I have proof that sometimes a lateral step is the only way to move forward.

Website: helenamaeve.com
Twitter: @HelenaMaeve

Excerpt from The Arrangement:

The bed sheets had been stripped and replaced with clean linens, corners tucked in tidily. His clothes lay on the ottoman by the window, as he’d left them.

There was no trace of padded restraints or floggers.

As for the envelope that awaited on his folded jeans and shirt—it wasn’t a surprise.

Cyril bundled his frustration and quickly scraped the towel over his skin. His hair was still damp as he tugged on the cotton tee. Droplets flecked the white fabric, but as soon as he covered them with his plaid button-down it was as though they weren’t there.

Denial was a universal remedy.

“I’m out, then!” he said to no one in particular, dithering for a moment in the foyer. He couldn’t remember this part being so awkward when he’d first started coming here.

Of course, the buffed mahogany floors and penthouse views over the city had left him tongue-tied and a little distracted. Embarking on an arrangement to service someone with digs like these had prompted a quiver of disquiet at first, but the sentiment faded week after week, mind-blowing orgasm after orgasm.

“Would you come in a moment?”

The call came from the study.

Cyril hesitated. He’d never gone in there before.

Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case

Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen

Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.

Lesbian

Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon

Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.

A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith

Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.

Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.

When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.

That December by Lela E. Buis

Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.

Gay

The Arrangement by Helena Maeve

When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.

New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen

Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.

The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz

1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.

Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.

Say You Do by Kassandra Lea

Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.

Buy Links:
|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||

Add to Goodreads

About the Publisher
Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.

“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.

|| Website || Facebook || Twitter ||

Age Differences and Unlikely Relationships

Today is the second part of my lovely guest blog series, brought to you by the duo of Racheline and Erin:

Like many of our stories, “Adjunct Hell” is, among other things, an age difference story. Our interest in writing relationships with age differences comes from a lot of different places. Sometimes, it’s just fun (and sexy) to write stories about a young adult discovering relationships and sexuality with someone with more experience. Other times, the age difference creeps into the story less overtly, so that we can each have a character we relate to since, as co-writers, there is a sixteen-year age difference between us.

Increasingly, however, I’ve begun to suspect that the reason we write age difference so much is because of some of the realities of being queer people. For me, as someone who grew up in New York City in the 70s and 80s and was active in protests related to AIDS funding in the 80s and 90s, I am always conscious of the hole in the gay community created by AIDS. That hole has been and continues to be devastating.

One of its consequences is an interruption of how our cultural history gets transmitted. With arguably much of an entire generation missing, relationships with significant age gaps are likely more common. They’re also a way to navigate that hole, and ensure the continuity of culture and community. This isn’t something I have the statistics on, but it certainly feels truthful to me in terms of the relationships I see amongst my friends and peers.

The other reality is that same-sex relationships come with less structural inequality. When you’re not worried about the sexism in our culture coming home to your relationship, it can make other forms of power imbalances — including big age differences — easier to navigate.

For us “Adjunct Hell” was a way to look at how different power dynamics interact. By writing about an older student and a young professor we got to examine the power dynamics that we all deal with in whatever relationships we engage in from a queer and complex perspective.

Social media links:
Joint Blog: http://Avian30.com
Joint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline
Erin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/erincmcrae
Racheline’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/racheline_m
Erin’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8323893.Erin_McRae
Racheline’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1015335.Racheline_Maltese

Racheline Maltese & Erin McRae are also authors of the following series:
Love in Los Angeles: http://avian30.com/books/love-in-los-angeles/
Love’s Labours: http://avian30.com/books/loves-labours/

Excerpt from “Adjunct Hell”:
“So apparently your classmates have a betting pool going,” Carl says as soon as Phil picks up the phone.

“Oh?”

“Yes. About whether and when the old dude with the crush is going to get with the professor.”

Phil makes a strangled noise. It takes Carl a moment to realize he’s laughing.

“It’s not funny!” Carl protests.

“It’s funny.”

“I’m still waiting on my boss to tell me whether or not my colleagues hate me and whether I, you know, still have a job. The last thing I need is rumors about me and a student…” Carl trails off in despair.

“It’s a school. Do you have any idea how many rumors are flying around? Or how many professors are banging their students?”

Carl collapses face down on his bed and makes a pitiful noise into the phone.

“Look, I know this is making you crazy,” Phil says soothingly. “But whatever it is has been done, and if they wanted you gone, you’d know. There is also absolutely nothing you can do about it right now. So,” he says, and Carl can just picture him settling more comfortably in his bed, in which they have not spent nearly enough time together. “Tell me about the rest of your day.”

Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case

Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen

Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.

Lesbian

Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon

Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.

A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith

Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.

Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.

When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.

That December by Lela E. Buis

Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.

Gay

The Arrangement by Helena Maeve

When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.

New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen

Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.

The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz

1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.

Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.

Say You Do by Kassandra Lea

Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.

Buy Links:
|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||

Add to Goodreads

About the Publisher

Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.

“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.

|| Website || Facebook || Twitter ||

Sage Advice for Writers

I’m asked a lot what advice I would give to writers, those who want to become published, those who want to take a risk in this world. It’s not as much of a risk as one would think. We’re all in this together, us writers. But we forget it sometimes. There is no difference between a writer and an author. We are all one in the same, crafting our words to the betterment of the story.

I learned a lot in writing this short story. I learned, much to my chagrin, that sometimes deep revision is necessary. Sometimes we have to go back and add things in that we missed, and that it really will work to the betterment of the story. When I started writing A Blizzard’s Blow, I thought it was going to be a simple romantic story with a straight plot line. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be anything but cookie cutter.

And it would have stayed cookie cutter if it hadn’t been for revision and the sage advice from some friends. This story wouldn’t have had the impact I wanted it to have or that it needed to have. My advice to writers is it’s a draft, and the numbers of drafts you can have are limitless. Listen to yourself far more than you listen to anyone else in concerns to what you have created, but do listen to others.

Like Lollie did in this story, don’t be afraid to slam the door and not look back on something. But if it keeps popping up again and again, it may be time to take a look at it. And like Andrea, don’t be afraid to grasp the moment as it comes and go with it.

Excerpt:

The sleek black car turned into the driveway she was standing in, the bright lights blinding her. Lollie put her hands up, protecting her eyes. The wheel on the passenger side of the vehicle hit the slush puddle at the edge of the street and splashed it all over Lollie. She swallowed and stumbled backward as the car barreled forward, nearly knocking her down.

Brakes ground as the driver slammed on them, and the car slid on the ice already forming in the below freezing temperature. Lollie shivered and bit her lip to prevent the curse words from slipping and the screaming from beginning. She’d already shouted enough that night; she didn’t need to do it anymore.

She expected the driver to be a man, for him to be wearing a business suit and rushing home for a dinner his stay-at-home wife was making him and he was late for. Instead, when the driver stepped out of the driver’s seat, her dark hair danced around her face, her baby-blue eyes locking on Lollie. Lollie gasped, clutched a hand to her heart and took a step back as the woman raced around her vehicle, sliding on the ice and shouting.


Author Bio:

Adrian J. Smith is a Christian, author, editor, spouse and all around crazy person. She’s constantly doing something at any given time and never learned to practice the word “relax.” AJ loves stories with a dramatic flair, stories that aren’t afraid to take risk and characters that are as real as the person sitting next to her.

Where to find me!

Website: adrianjsmith.wordpress.com

FB page: www.facebook.com/adrianjsmithbooks

Twitter: www.twitter.com/AdrianAJSmith

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/adrianjsmith

 

Young Love, Old Hearts
A Supposed Crimes Anthology
Editor: C. E. Case

Stories by: A. M. Leibowitz, Adrian J. Smith, Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese, Geonn Cannon, Helena Maeve, Kassandra Lea, Lela E. Buis, Ralph Greco Jr., & Stacy O’Steen

Everyone hears “He’s too young for you.” “She’s too old for you.” Not between these pages. This anthology crosses the age gap with nine enchanting stories of cross-generational relationships. Some are sweet, some are sexy, some are heartbreaking. One is downright murderous. The protagonists are gay men or women searching for true love or trying out what’s right in front of them.

Lesbian

Verso and Recto by Geonn Cannon

Discovering their mutual love of reading leads a literature student and her professor to take a step neither of them expected.

A Blizzard’s Blow by Adrian J. Smith

Lollie dashes from the house in the middle of a blizzard in search of something she’s not sure she’ll find, but she hopes to never again see the same cold, blank stare Kimberley gave her.

Slice by Ralph Greco Jr.

When Germane relinquishes her more-than-slight kinky relationship with Lila to begin a new one with younger A.J., she finds a flirty, fun and wholly different “Slice” of life opening up for her.

That December by Lela E. Buis

Celia finds that older women and the politics of genetic engineering aren’t what they seem.

Gay

The Arrangement by Helena Maeve

When he is summoned into his Dom’s study after a mutually satisfying scene, Cyril knows he’s in for something worse than the play they normally get up to.

New York Minute by Stacy O’Steen

Stuck in his depressing hometown for far too long, Colton jumps at the chance to return to his beloved New York City. But when some odd coincidences click into place, he needs to find the truth hidden in the lies.

The Artist as an Old Man by A. M. Leibowitz

1985 is a big year for Kenny Anderson. Sent to interview artist Aaron Rubenstein, making a grand reappearance after a three-year absence, Kenny digs beneath the surface to understand Aaron’s life—and maybe his own.

Adjunct Hell by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

Phil may be in his 50s, but he’s still a student, and the fact that Carl—who’s barely 30—is dating him would bad enough even if Carl wasn’t waiting for good news from the tenure committee.

Say You Do by Kassandra Lea

Keegan Bancroft is hoping to avoid a complete meltdown before his date. But there’s something he really wants to ask Richard.

 

Buy Links:

|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||

Add to Goodreads

 

About the Publisher

Supposed Crimes, LLC publishes fiction and poetry primarily featuring lesbian characters and themes. The focus is on genre fiction–Westerns, Science Fiction, Horror, Action–rather than just romance. That’s how we set ourselves apart from our competitors. Our characters happen to love women and kick ass.

“Supposed crimes” refers to the idea that homosexuality is outlawed, and that our authors are being subversive by writing. As times change this becomes more tongue-in-cheek, but can still apply broadly to our culture. Christians writing lesbians and men writing lesbians are also subversive ideas in this industry, and we promote people bending the rules.

|| Website || Facebook || Twitter ||

Young Love Old Hearts

Over the next few weeks I am going to have some guest bloggers. They are my fellow authors in the anthology Young Love Old Hearts. It will be published on May 1st so the first guest blog will be tomorrow by Adrian J. Smith. The rest will be posted over the next few weeks so stay tuned to hear from those authors and to get a sneak peak into the anthology! Also it is currently available for pre-order and I will put all the links below and they’ll be at the bottom of all the guest blog posts.

Buy Links:

|| Amazon USA || Amazon CA || Amazon UK || Kobo || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble ||

Add to Goodreads

Soundtrack for Endless Days of Summer!

1. I’m Not Your Average Girl – India Arie – Song number one is the main character Penelope’s theme song. I can totally see her dancing around her room to this song turned up loud.

2. Lips Are Movin – Meghan Tainor – Song number two is Penelope’s song to the character Clayton. She turns it up loud in the car and scream sings it into the rushing wind!

3. I Wanna Hold Your Hand – TV Carpio – Song three is about when Penelope realizes she’s been in love for a long time but only recently realized it. It’s sweet and pleading without expectation but full of hope.

4. Hate to See Your Heart Break – Paramore –  Number four is about losing someone and the heartache that comes with it. Penelope finds herself in a situation she feared and it drags her down.

Follow The Plot Bunnies

This post was supposed for Carnival of Aces. March was for “Writing About Asexuality”, which I do. 😛  I unfortunately have been entirely lacking in focus lately so…

I write what moves me and what speaks to my heart at the moment of inspiration. I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl when it comes to writing. I hadn’t outlined anything when Nanowrimo 2013 began. As it usually does, writing that many words in a month lead to plenty of plot issues and things to be fixed later but it came out in the end to be a novel I was proud of. I spent the next year editing and rewriting it to it’s final state.

My 2013 Nanowrimo novel is called Endless Days of Summer and will be published on July 1st. It’s about a girl traveling the path of sexual discovery and all the trappings there in. The experience of writing was great. I rode high on a wave of endorphines for approximately 30 days, until the end of November. Then it was a lot of stress and hating the characters I had so lovingly penned into life. 😛

After the editing process and the agonizing wait to see if a publisher would take my story and care for it like I did, I got great news that Supposed Crimes, LLC wanted to supply my story to the masses. I was elated.

It sounds all rainbows and sunshine but I promise it wasn’t. I’m simply selectively remembering the parts I chose to. I don’t want to focus on the nights I spent in tears deleting paragraphs and rewriting the same scene for the fourth time.

One thing that I didn’t do until after my first draft was done was to investigate the troupes associated with Asexuality. I wanted my story to come from my heart about the characters I had dreamed up, unsullied by the stereotypes of people who judge before understanding.

Due to this slight oversight I ended up writing something that could be construed as a common troupe for my main character and after a lot of consideration I decided I was going to keep the story as it was. More came from that particular plot point than what the half-formed troupe itself implies and I think the link between the two are tenuous at best. I know this is all rather vague, but no spoilers!

I guess to summarize, it is good to research before you write a novel. (Especially if you have no first hand experience.) But by the same token, you need to write what lives inside of you. The story that is in there beating itself against your brain and heart. Don’t be afraid to imagine your characters complexly (John Green) and sometimes that will lead you down rabbit holes you couldn’t see until you were already in them.

And for your perusing pleasure: Common Tropes and Caricatures Pertaining to Asexuality

  • The asexual character who is magically cured of their asexuality by falling in love / having sex with another character.
  • The asexual character who is asexual because of something traumatic that happened in their past.
  • The asexual character who is torn between their self-identification as ace and their overwhelming sexual attraction to another character.
  • The asexual character who is tragically asexual despite how much someone else wants to have sex with them.
  • The asexual character whose otherwise healthy relationship is completely destroyed by their desire not to have sex.