“My wife also gets a load of emails from people asking where our son’s father is, as though I couldn’t possibly be around and still allow a male son to display female behavior. To those people I say, I’m right here fathering my son. I want to love him, not change him. My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn’t a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life, to me it’s a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be.”
–Matt Duron, a veteran police officer, in his article My Son Wears Dresses; Get Over It
What a wonderful story…
I dedicated my latest novel, HOW TO SAVE A LIFE, to one very special young man named Gary. Who is he? I wrote a guest post several years ago where I shared about Gary, my very first love. Since How to Save a Life’s been out for a few weeks, I thought I’d repost that old blog entry for anyone who’d like to know more about the story behind the dedication.
The following was originally posted at Fiction with Friction on March 25th, 2010.
My first release is available at Loose Id this week, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The book is titled MORE and is the story of a confirmed loner who breaks all his rules for two men he meets at a sex club. Too bad his father will do almost anything to put a stop to the relationship.
Writing and submitting a book was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. And with its release I’ve been thinking a lot on life and goals and love and risks.
Thinking about all that took me back in time to my very first love.
He was an older boy who lived down the street from me and wanted to play “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Uh, get your minds out of the gutter, folks. He was talking about my horse and his goat.
And no, those aren’t some special code words for penis and vajayjay. I grew up on a farm. I really had a horse. And he really had a goat.
There was much discussion on the deal. I think it went like this…
Gary: “I’ll bring my goat tomorrow.”
Gary: “You can show me your horse.”
I think I mentioned he was older than I, and I was seriously crushing on him, so words weren’t my forte right then. I was lucky I could form single syllables.
The next day, he dragged that goat almost a mile from his house to mine along a major two-lane US highway. I can just imagine all the truckers and summer vacationing families laughing at this kid walking his goat down the center of the ditch, the blazing sun beating down on them, sweat dripping off his brow, the stubborn goat stopping every few steps, and Gary dragging it by the little rope he had looped around her neck. You really would have thought Gary was getting a piece of ass for how much effort he went to with that goat. That boy loved horses.
I would’ve loved a kiss, but I never did get to kiss Gary.
After the horse/goat deal, we didn’t see each other as much. When it came time for me to go to the same high school as he, I decided I’d work up the nerve to talk to him again. It was my chance to get him to notice me. I had it all planned out. I was going to be lost, wandering by his locker and have to ask him how to find my next classroom. Not the greatest setup, but I was fourteen. Give me a break.
Never did get to try it out, though. Gary was killed in a car crash before the school year started. As far I know, he never did get to ride a horse.
That’s a regret I still carry with me. I should have asked Gary if he wanted to take my horse out for a ride, even if it meant I’d get in trouble when my parents got home. I should’ve offered. I should’ve asked.
I should’ve kissed him.
If I had only known that summer we spent together was the only one I was ever going to have, I would have taken a chance sooner.
Sometimes taking a risk is the best option. So my advice…if there’s ever something you really want to try but are afraid to, don’t let the fear stop you. I wanted to write a novel about three men who meet on the same night and fall in love. I guess…dreams really do come true.
So what was your first love? Your first crush? Did you kiss? Hold hands? Come on, I’m feeling nostalgic. Share…
Good luck to each of you on making your own dreams come true.
To all my readers, a huge thank-you for helping HOW TO SAVE A LIFE reach the Top 10 Bestseller’s list (currently #4) at All Romance eBooks and the Gay & Lesbian Romance Bestseller list at Amazon (top location spotted was #4). My first novel MORE has even reappeared as a bestseller (#2 in Gay & Lesbian Erotica at Amazon). THANK YOU, EVERYONE!
Also, thank you for all the recent emails and other messages about the book. Hearing from readers means a great deal to me, and your words of appreciation and encouragement seriously help me through the tougher writing days. I’m thrilled so many of you are enjoying Walter and Kevin’s story.
All my thanks,
“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song”
–from “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden
An adorable Christian and Olli fan vid.
I had to permanently retire my old keyboard and have sent it off to the tech recycling center. I wrote MORE, BREATHE, TAKE ME HOME, and several of my short stories on this one. Actually, if you look close you can see there were two of them. That’s how much I loved this keyboard. I would still be using it too, but one of them no longer worked and on the other some of the keys were sticking and others had completely stopped working. Hard to type a 100,000+ word manuscript with no “S” key.
Good-bye, old friend. Thanks for helping me tell my tales.
I learn something new with each story I write. Both about me and the craft of writing fiction. As I’ve shared before, my current novel has been through a rocky schedule in terms of the actual writing, but it has had some of the biggest lessons for me when it comes to the “how” of writing.
Here’s what I’ve learned or had reinforced into my writer’s brain this past week:
- It’s amazing how many bits of dialogue or even entire scenes I thought were important that never make it in the final manuscript. They are the moments that seemed to be at the core of the story and its meaning when I was writing the outline, yet once I’m into the story on a deeper level, those “darlings” just seem to lose their punch. But they were important for the journey. They helped me get to where I wanted the story to go. Writing is a process.
- I can’t be afraid of moving a scene to a completely new setting. Sometimes I’m telling the right interactions and dialogue in the wrong place. The scene can take on a new intensity in the “right” location. Setting can influence the entire tone of a story. If two characters fall in love while moving from public place to public place, that story will have a very different feel than a story about two characters falling in love while staying at one of their homes, just the two of them for days on end.
- When I’m stuck on a character’s emotional reactions, I should always go back to the basics. What are the character’s goals, wants, needs? And how are those driving his actions and his responses? I can’t be afraid to make the story primal. Humans are complex creatures, but we are also driven by simple, personal motivations.
- I have to be “feeling” a scene to revise it. Sure, the writing hasn’t been polished yet, some of the sensory details are missing, and I have yet to write parts of the emotional responses and dialogue, but if I’m not interested in the core of what is going on in the scene, who the hell else will be? I give the scene two chances to pull me in. Maybe I was in a bad mood the first read through or maybe my mind was on something else. If I’m still not feeling it on the second read through, it’s back to the drawing board. Every scene, every interaction doesn’t just need a purpose, it doesn’t just need to move the story forward, it needs to grab the reader and hold on. The least it needs to do is get me excited to revise it.
And yet again, I think I’ve proven how crazy my writing process is, but I’m more than okay with that. It works for me.
Another thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years is to appreciate every moment I’m writing and to embrace the story I’m working on. Each of my novels has been quite different from the others. Over thinking the process and the act of writing, or doing any sort of comparison between works, is counterproductive. Enjoying the journey of storytelling and the characters I’m creating is a big part of what makes writing such a joy.
I try to start every writing session with that in mind.
It’s all about the story.