Wednesday, August 27

Goals: Not Always Helpful

Well that's an odd thing to say, isn't it? Shouldn't writers (or artists of any kind, really) have goals?

Yes.

But goals need to be both reasonable and flexible

I have a goal of writing 2000 words a day. Most day I make that and a little over, but it wasn't so long ago that I was struggling to even make 500 words a day. There were a couple of days when I barely got 100 words down on the page. 

I spent the day after, beating myself up--which isn't a terribly good way to keep the Muses dancing in my head. 

A few years ago, I set my goal at releasing 6 titled in the following year. I released 1. There are a bevy of reasons, most of which you all, already know about. (For those who aren't regulars, I had a major bout of depression last winter, but even before that, I was dealing with it off and on and it is *very* difficult to be creative when all you want to do is sleep all day. And my depression isn't server. Even last winter, when the past few years finally caught up with me, when we realized we were losing our house, and when the weather was just *awful* I was definitely depressed--but there are far worse cases out there. Which I don't say to lift myself up or tell myself that "see, it's not so bad." I'm saying that because you might know someone suffering with depression and you might not even know it, because most of the time it's invisible. It isn't taken seriously. It should be, because it's real.)

Okay, PSA over. 

But in all seriousness, depression of any level of severity is nothing to be brushed aside. Even though most days I did eventually get out of bed and get dressed, I still didn't seem to be able to get anything done, especially writing.

And I love writing.

It became this viscous cycle of not writing because I just couldn't find the mental and emotional fortitude to put words together, then beating myself up for not being productive (because one of the habits of happy, productive, successful people is to write or produce their art whether they feel motivated or not--only amateurs wait for "motivation"). And of course, the more I beat myself up, the deeper into depression I sank, the more difficult it was to string words together on the page, the fewer words I produced, the more I beat myself up. 

On one of my worst days not so long ago, one of my Facebook friends (and I am so sorry I've forgotten who it was, because it was another author) said to my complaint about taking so long to write so few words that "any progress forward in the story is progress" (or something incredibly similar). For once, I took the simple (true) encouragement to heart and since then have been doing better. There will still be days that are better than others. I still have a house full of boxes to unpack and drywall to tape and "mud" (which thankfully has nothing to do with actual mud, but is going to be a heck of a job, because there are a *lot* of seams in the drywall and they're not all real even and...and yeah. There's a lot of work to do.) I still have to sand and stain my office floor. 

So I had to lean to be flexible. My goal is 2000 words a day, but if I don't make it, that's okay. I put *some* words on the page. Or maybe I unpacked some boxes or tackled one of the kajillion projects still waiting for me around this place. I've also learned that, at least for me, "writers' block" is just my subconscious telling me that something isn't right with the story and keeping me from going forward until I fix it. Sometimes it takes time for my subconscious to figure it out and let me know what needs to be fixed. While I'm let it chew over the problem, I can do other things. I can do anything but beat myself up over taking the day off from writing.

So I'd like to encourage you to stop reading all of those "habits of happy, successful, wealthy people" memes and figure out what works for YOU. Sure, some of the advice is pretty universal (the more time you spend on Facebook, the less time you'll have to produce art; spending time with people who actively discourage you--or even not-so-actively discourage you--is totally counterproductive to an artistic career), but "just smile and do it anyway" doesn't always work in life. Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to miss a goal, build a blanket fort, or go hang out with your best friend. 

My (flexible) goals:

  • Finish and submit A Place to Belong and Bound: Damaged Goods by the end of the year. 
  • Keep up with my monthly newsletter and weekly (or more) blog
  • Write 2000 words a day (more when I can)
  • Spend 2 hours a day reading (instead of farting around on Facebook)
  • Work on meditating every day (or at least every other day) and get back to working out

Next year:
  • I will write and submit 4 novel-length books for publication (which involves promotion, blog tours, marketing...heck, it involves editing and a lot of hard work above and beyond 2000 words a day!)
  • Keep up on my newsletter and blog (which count toward my writing word goal)
  • Attend Rainbow Con (I'm already booked in as an author)
  • Attend Dragon*Con (which is really a family vacation, but it's a monetary goal of staggering proportions! I'm also going to submit my name for the author track and see if I can get on a couple of panels)
  • Have a vegetable garden (good for both the pantry and my emotional well being)
  • Finances available, remodel kitchen (because you know, stuff always comes up when you least expect it and something else might become more important)
  • Work on some other artistic endeavors I bought the supplies for but haven't gotten around to doing anything with (oopsie!)  
  • Continue making time for my spiritual life
  • Continue working on my body, not because of anybody else's idea of what I should look like , but because I just plain feel good when I work out 4 or 5 times a week and make healthy food choices (at least most of the time. According to Bill Cosby, chocolate cake is food, right?)
  • Join a professional organization--but it probably won't be RWA (Romance Writers of America). I'm looking at AG (the Author's Guild); I may or may not blog about my reasons in an upcoming post. 
  • Above all, remain flexible (except w/ Dragon, because oh boy were those hotel reservation terms scary!)

Have any goals you'd like to share? Or any anything else you'd like to say? Leave a comment!

Friday, August 22

Tentacles and Chain (ch. 8)

I normally post new chapters on Saturday, but due to popular demand (emphasis on the "demand" part), I'm putting this up a day early. (I suppose I started a bad habit, posting early one week because I'd had a sucky day  ;-)  )

Although I also suppose I have been a bit mean with where I chose to end my chapters. Ch. 8 is no exception....

.............................................

Chapter Eight

Trellen’s heart thundered in his ears. “What…what do you want me to do?”
Master stroked his face gently and his heart started to calm. “I will offer you a choice, sweet.” Master’s voice was as soothing as his touch. “You may ask me to fuck you, or you may ask to be allowed to suck my cock. But,” he cautioned, placing a finger on Trellen’s lips, just as Trellen was about to protest that he couldn’t say those words, “you must use the words I have prescribed. Say anything else, and I promise you, it will be a very long time before I allow you another orgasm.”
Trellen’s heart sank at the thought of being denied. He wasn’t a slave to a monster, he was a slave to himself, to his own selfish desires. And maybe that means I really am enslaved to a monster. “Why?”
“Why?” Master questioned.
“Why do you want me to…,” to debase myself. “To use such vulgar words?”
“Words are not vulgar, my Pretty. Vulgar is an idea imposed by people.” He slid higher up on Trellen’s body and rubbed his erection over Trellen’s hard cock.
Trellen let out a soft moan of pleasure. Why does that part of my body have to be so damned sensitive? If it didn’t feel so good….Goddess, why can’t I have more self-control?
“You must learn to use words with which you are uncomfortable in order to convey your desires,” Master said softly, his lips so close they ghosted over Trellen’s cheek. “You must tell me what you enjoy so that I can make you happy.” He rocked his hips back and forth, so their cocks rubbed together.
Trellen found himself leaning up into the movement, obscenely trying to mimic it, desperate for more contact.
“Come, my Pretty. You must decide and tell me which you prefer. Shall I fuck you or would you like to suck my cock?” He pulled himself away from Trellen’s cock, so that it was left straining in the cold water, aching. Trellen whimpered. It wasn’t just his cock, his whole body throbbed and ached!  
Master caressed his face. “I promise that no matter what you choose, I will allow you to come again, if you only say the words.”
“You’re turning me into a wanton!”
“I cannot create something if there were no raw materials with which to work, Pretty. But. Are you stalling?”
“No.” Yes. “Maybe.”
“No more then. I require your answer and I require it now.”
Trellen shuddered at the sharp edge to his Master’s tone. He was growing impatient, but how could he expect Trellen to choose? Trellen thought he could do what Master had done to him before, use his hand to bring his Master to completion. That wouldn’t be so bad. But that wasn’t one of his choices and Trellen doubted the wisdom of begging for it.
Only to be violated, to have him…. He swallowed back a lump of fear in his throat. Males were not supposed to lie beneath other males. And yet here I am, doing just that. But…. But could he actually bear to be…fucked. The word struck a chord of fear deep inside. Trellen swallowed again and forced his lips and throat to work. “I…what you did to me. With your mouth. I choose that.”
“Tut-tut, Pretty. If you wish to be allowed to climax, you must say ‘Master, I would like to suck your cock, please’.”
Shame heated his face. But lying there, arms and tail still bound, his body crying out for another release, what else could he do but give in? My soul is already tainted beyond hope. What was the harm in a few vulgar words at this point? He closed his eyes. “Master. I….I would like to…to suck your cock, please.”
Master tilted his chin upward, as if looking at him. “Now once more, with your eyes open, Pretty. You know where my face is.” His tone was firm and steady, but without threat or malice. “Make me believe it is what you truly wish.”
Trellen shuddered but opened his eyes. He tried to picture the face behind the voice, but his mind couldn’t fathom it. Was the Unspeakable One the monster of childhood’s tales? Or is he like me? Was he handsome? Ugly? Did it matter? “Master. I… I would like to suck your cock, please.”


Saturday, August 16

Tentacles and Chain (Ch. 7)


Chapter Seven


Sunlight filtered down from Above, casting a golden glow on the sand beneath the crystal clear water. Laughter filled the air every time Trellen and Lucien breached the waves, each seeing if he could leap higher than the other until at least, they reached the white-sand beach. Still laughing, the pair hauled themselves up onto the sand lay together in the warmth of the sun.
A cool breeze blew down from the jungle that stretched out beyond the beach, bringing with it green, exotic scents and strange sounds. Trellen inhaled deeply—contentedly—and turned to face Lucien. Luce’s eyes sparkled in the sunlight and his grin made Trellen’s heart do strange, happy things. Trellen rolled closer to his best friend and let his arm fall over Lucien’s slender back. Luce was slight and dark compared to Trellen’s own nearly-white hair and pale complexion. Trellen traced the line of his friend’s spine and Luce shivered, arching into his hand.  
“Hmmmm, that feels good,” Luce murmured.
Trellen smiled. There was little he loved more than touching Luce’s skin. It was soft. Smooth. But underneath it lay strong, hard muscles. Trellen let his fingertips play over Lucien’s spine and along his lower back, almost to the place where skin became scales. Trellen’s stomach fluttered. What would it be like to kiss those perfect lips, or feel Lucien rubbing up against him?
Lucien’s eyelids drooped. “Trell…I….” But he hesitated and Trellen pulled back.
“We should go,” Trellen said, praying Luce didn’t see the shame heating his cheeks.
Lucien opened his eyes again and nodded, though several moments passed before he pushed himself back into the waves. Trellen followed.
                   
Tellen woke with a start, momentarily disoriented by the cold darkness and his body’s state of arousal—then he remembered. The male lying next to him wasn’t Lucien, though the two had spent many nights together before Luce left for the open sea. Kaia watch over him.
But why should Trellen pray to a Goddess who had abandoned him?
Or maybe I abandoned her when I first touched Luce’s skin.
“Whatever you were dreaming about, my Pretty,” said a soft voice that at once made Trellen’s blood pulse with desire and his stomach flip with revulsion, “it has left you in quite a state.”
Cool fingertips traced the lines of Trellen’s exposed cock and, much to his own shame, Trellen shifted closer to his Master’s hand.
“I believe I like this side of your nature.” Master’s grin was audible.
Trellen didn’t respond—but then something warm and soft replaced his Master’s hand and Trellen gasped. He reached down to find out of what he thought was happening was actually happening, but his wrists were quickly restrained, encircled by two of Master’s tentacles. Master pushed Trellen’s arms over his head and snaked another tentacle around Trellen’s tail, immobilizing him. Not that Trellen was putting up much of a fight. He moaned and his eyes rolled back in his head; Master’s mouth was hot, his lips soft, and his tongue skillful.
“Please.” Don’t stop.
Trellen was sure he felt his Master’s lips curl up into a smile—but then Master pulled back, leaving Trellen whimpering.
“Did you enjoy that, my Pretty?”
“Yes. Please.” He thrust his hips upward again in a silent plea.
Master chuckled. He placed a soft kiss on the tip of Trellen’s cock and Trellen whimpered again. The sounds grew louder as Master began teasing his cock. He licked the tip and around the head, then slowly worked his way down the shaft with his tongue and lips, while Trellen wriggled and moaned, shamelessly trying to thrust his cock forward, hoping Master would take it into his mouth again.
“I could keep you dangling on the edge of orgasm all day if I wanted,” Master warned.
“Please…don’t.”
He laughed again. “Oh, I most certainly will. But not today, my Pretty,” he said. “First I want you to learn to enjoy your own body, then I will teach you the pleasure of denial.” 
Why did the threat of being denied something he was quickly coming to crave excite him? Trellen had little time to think about it, as Master once more took his cock into his mouth and began sucking in earnest.
“I’m…,” Trellen gasped. He was so close. “Please…I’m going to…it’s….” But it was already too late.  The orgasm crashed through him and he shot his release into his Master’s throat. “I’m sorry!”
But his Master didn’t seem to object. To the contrary, Trellen felt him swallow it down before relaxing his grip on Trellen’s wrists and tail. He feathered a soft kiss to Trellen’s stomach and rested his chin there. “Never apologize for something so lovely, my sweet Pretty.”
“I—” But the soft brush of the tip of Master’s tentacle over Trellen’s lips silenced him.
“Tell me, Pretty, have you ever kissed another male?”
Heat overtook Trellen’s cheeks and he shook his head.
“Have you kissed a female, then?”
“Once,” he admitted. What use was it to lie?
“And did you enjoy it?”
“I…it was pleasant enough.”
“You don’t sound very convincing.”
He shrugged. “What does it matter who I’ve kissed or whether or not I liked it?”
“Because I should like it very much if you were to enjoy my kisses.” And with no further warning, he tightened his grip on Trellen’s wrists and tail once more, and hoisted himself up to smother Trellen’s mouth with his own.
Trellen struggled—but then submitted. He’d given his word. So when he felt his Master nipping at his lips, he opened his mouth a tiny crack. The same tongue that had only moments ago brought him to orgasm plunged into his mouth. Master was no less skilled at kissing than he was at…at whatever he’d done to Trellen’s cock was called. He tasted salty and sweet—and Trellen realized he was probably tasting himself on his Master’s tongue. But while that revelation caused shame to heat Trellen’s body, it didn’t stop him from moaning into the unexpected pleasure of the kiss. No part of his mouth was safe. Master explored him fully, filling Trellen with uncomfortable sensations that caused his cock to once more swell with need.
What would it have been like if Luce had ever kissed me like this? If he’d kissed me at all?
At last, Master withdrew, leaving Trellen breathless and trembling.
“You enjoyed that,” his Master said, making it sound almost like an accusation, although there was so much amusement in his tone, Trellen had no difficulty imagining the smile on his face.
Except he had no idea what his Master’s face looked like. “When can I see you?”
Master brushed the hair from Trellen’s face and pressed another, much softer, kiss Trellen’s his lips. “When you tell me what it is you truly fear, I will bring in as many glow orbs as your heart desires. Then and only then will you see me.”
Trellen waivered—but then shook his head. To reveal his fears—his real fears, not just the things every Cetacean was afraid of—would be to risk having them exploited. And has he not already exploiting my fear of darkness?
Master heaved a sigh. “Have it your way, Pretty. But now,” he shifted, so that Trellen could feel Master’s hard cock against his tail, “it is your turn to satisfy my need.”








Friday, August 8

Tentacles and Chain (ch. 6)

Chapter Six

TRELLEN steeled himself against the inevitable, gripping the chains that secured his wrists to the ceiling. He swore to Kaia he wouldn’t react this time—but it was no use. Master touched the slit covered his pe—his cock—and a shiver ran down Trellen’s spine, causing him to moan. 

Cock. 

It was an ugly, vulgar word, but what better way to describe what was happening to him but ugly and vulgar? His body seemed to have a mind of its own, and one completely devoid of decency, because more than anything, he wanted Master’s hand around his member.

My cock.

His head lolled back against a powerful shoulder and he squeezed his eyes shut as if that could somehow make this all go away. But Master didn’t stop. He slid one finger into the slit and Trellen whimpered. “Please.” Don’t. He bit his lip and gripped the chains so hard he was sure his knuckles were turning white. “Please,” he all but sobbed as his hips bucked forward. 

Master touched his cock, sending a jolt of pleasure speeding through Trellen’s whole body. 

Cock.

Cock, cock, cock.

He repeated the word in his head over and over Maser caressed the organ in question, bringing it to its full length so that it jutted obscenely out of its protective slit. 

“Very nice,” Master crooned in his ear. He took hold of Trellen’s cock and began to stroke it very, very slowly, making Trellen squirm with frustration.

Shame burned in his face, but he couldn’t seem to shop his hips from rocking back and forth in time with the rhythm of Master’s hand. Goddess, what was happening to him? It was like there was a wave inside him, forever mounting, but never crashing against the shore, because somehow, no matter how close it seemed, the shore kept moving further back, making it unreachable.

“Very good, Pretty. You cannot tell me you aren’t enjoying this every bit as much as I am.” As Master spoke, he rubbed his own erection against Trellen’s spine as if to prove how much he was enjoying Trellen’s misery. 

Trellen bit his lip to try and stop the noises coming out of his mouth, soft moans and whimpers, but it was as difficult to be silent as it was to be still. Soft lips pressed against Trellen’s neck and Master slid his other hand around Trellen’s waist. He caressed his stomach…his hip…he slid his hand around to the front of Trellen’s tail. 

“Goddess, please don’t,” Trellen breathed, when Master touched his anal slit. “Please. Don’t. Don’t!” He tried to jerk away from the unwanted touch, but it was no use. Master held him tight and caressed his entrance. “Not there. Don’t touch—”

“Shhhh.” Master continued rubbing his cock, using slow, smooth strokes. “Tell me why I should not touch you wherever I desire.” His tone was gentle. Patient. He feathered another kiss to Trellen’s shoulder. 

“B-because….” Because decent people didn’t do that to one another! “It…it’s a…a private place.” Each word was a struggle to get out. 

“Do you not belong to me in your entirety?” Master asked, as he skimmed his fingertip over Trellen’s anal slit once more. 

Trellen whimpered and bit his lip. He did. “Why do you want to touch me there?”

“Because I wish to make you feel good.”

“But I don’t want—” the sudden intrusion, one slender finger penetrating his most private crevice, made him gasp. 

“But I do,” Master countered. “You are mine. Every inch of you belongs to me and I will touch you where and how I please.” He slid his finger deeper and Trellen’s shame rose—shame at the obscenity being forced on him, and shame in the spark of Lightning that ignited in his veins, pleasure so intense it was almost painful. One finger became two, and Master not only slid them in and out, causing flash after flash of Lightning to course through Trellen’s body, but he scissored them back and forth, splaying Trellen’s opening wide in a vulgar display.

Trellen struggled against the invasion. “Please—oh!” He cried and clutched the chains holding him tight. Was it possible to die of too much pleasure? “Please!” More? Stop? He didn’t know what he wanted anymore. 

“You are mine,” Master whispered into his ear, his tone was tender, despite the abuse he was inflicting on Trellen’s body and soul. “Every part of you belongs to me. And every part of you is on display for my enjoyment. From now on, your pleasure comes only from me.” With that, he inserted a third finger while at the same time pumping Trellen’s cock at a furious pace.

All Trellen could do was ride out the storm of pleasure—shame—until it finally crashed over him, pulling him under. He cried out as his orgasm erupted into the water. 

Master held him as he shook. Sobbed. Trellen had never felt so vulnerable. So humiliated. 

So sated. 

“Shhhh,” Master caressed his chest and kissed the back of his neck. “You are so beautiful, my Pretty,” he murmured. “Truly, there is nothing to be ashamed of.” 

It was only then that Trellen realized he wasn’t the only one who had come. Master’s cock was slack against his back. 

Master’s lips curled up into a smile against Trellen’s skin as if he’d noticed Trellen’s silent observation. “You see what you did to me, Pretty? Watching your ecstasy was enough to bring me to my own completion. But rest assured, the next time I will take my pleasure from you in a far more direct way.” He pressed one last  kiss to Trellen’s neck then slowly unfurled his tentacles and released the chains. 

Trellen slumped to the floor. Next time. 

The prospect terrified him.

Thrilled him. 

He wanted it. 

He hated himself for it.  

And I can never go home again. Despite Trellen’s certainty that it would never happen, a short hour was all it had taken to corrupt his soul. Otherwise I wouldn’t have enjoyed that so much. 

“Come.” Master touched his shoulder. 

This time Trellen didn’t hesitate. He accepted his Master’s hand and allowed himself to be brought upright. “What now?” He was almost afraid to ask. 

“Now you should rest, my Pretty.” He pulled Trellen close and began moving through the darkness. 

“Where…where are you taking me?” Please, not back to that tiny cell. 

“To someplace comfortable. Someplace safe.” 

Which didn’t answer the question, but Trellen was too afraid to push him, so he concentrated on trying to figure it out for himself—but it was useless. He could get no sense of direction in the dark. 

At last, they emerged from the narrow passage—Trellen could reach out and feel the rough, rocky walls—into a larger room. 

“Here we are,” Master announced, loosening his grip on Trellen’s waist.

“Will you let me have another glow orb?” he asked hopefully.

 Master guided him to the far wall and eased him onto a low bed of soft sand. “I will light the chamber when you tell me what you fear.”

“I told you. I fear the dark.”

“And I told you,” he countered, settling in next to Trellen, so that they sat side by side, “All Cetaceans fear the dark. I wish to know what you fear.” 

“I fear you.” 

Master chuckled. “All Cetaceans fear the ‘Unspeakable Ones’.” 

Though there was humor in his voice, there seemed to be something else as well. Sadness? But how could there be sadness? 

“Tell me, my Pretty, what have I done to cause you fear?”

“Besides bringing me here against my will?”

He conceded the point without irritation. “Yes. Besides that. Since you have been here, what have I done that was so terrible?” 

Trellen opened his mouth but then shut it again. What had just happened was terrible. But I want more. 

Master coaxed him to lie down, then he lay next to Trellen, one arm wrapped around Trellen’s body, but the other…if Trellen had to guess, he would say that Master was propped up on one elbow, looking at him. “When you tell me what it is you truly fear, I will light the chamber as bright as you like.” He feathered a soft kiss to Trellen’s temple. “Now sleep. You’ve earned it and tomorrow…tomorrow will bring new pleasures for us both.” 

He snuggled in next to Trellen, holding him close, and that brought a strange and unexpected measure of comfort as the darkness of uneasy sleep replaced the darkness of uncomfortable reality. 


...........................................

A number of people have asked me why I'm not charging any money for Tentacles and Chain and have suggested putting out a virtual "tip jar" for donations.
What I'd really like to do is ask anyone who is so inclined to donate a couple of bucks to my fundraising effort for AIDS Walk Detroit. (CLICK HERE to go directly to my donation site and hit the big red "Give Now" button; unfortunately, they only take credit cards *sigh*) 
Anyone who knows me, knows how important HIV awareness and education is to me. In the past few years, our funding has been seriously cut (along with everyone else's because let's face it, the economy has seen better days). That means that fundraising efforts like this are more important than ever. I know I always feel like my $5 or $10 isn't enough to make a difference, but believe me: every little bit counts, because those small donations (even $1 and $2 donations) add up. If you're enjoying this story and both want and are able to support me, please support a cause I believe in.
And if you're not in a position to give money (and believe me, I get that, too!) give some time. It doesn't have to be a big commitment, just take the time to make sure you understand HIV and AIDS, because the more people who understand it, the better off we'll be, not just in terms of stopping the spread of the disease, but in ending the stigma that goes along with it.
Thanks, guys!


About Our Organization

AIDS Walk Detroit provides financial support for programs in HIV prevention, education and services for HIV positive individuals. The organization promotes public awareness through events and activities to ensure people living with HIV/AIDS are treated with dignity and respect. To Contact Us: Phone: 248-399-9255 Fax: 248-399-3458 Address: P.O. Box 1618 Royal Oak, MI 48068-9879

Wednesday, August 6

This is me, not giving a f*^#

I would say "please excuse my language," but a) that would lessen the message here and b) if you know me, you know that I swear. 

The other night, I was talking to a friend about a workshop I'm considering doing down the road where the material is considered controversial to a small segment of the local community. This is nothing romance related or even writing related--but the conversation about it is relevant to my life as a writer and I realized that my reactions to my friend's suggestion were the direct result of having my work published and therefore put before public scrutiny.

In other words, I've learned how not to give a fuck. It's not always easy. I'm insecure and I don't like upsetting people, and I truly loathe conflict. But I've learned that as much as I might wish otherwise, it simply isn't possible not to piss people off. That might be doubly true in the M/M community.

The conversation with my friend went something along these lines (this is only paraphrasing):

Me: X Group will probably be pissed off by the workshop I want to teach. [They have very specific ideas about certain things and I don't share their opinions.]
Her: Okay. Well. How do you intend to mitigate that?
Me: I don't.
Her:  ??
Me: I can't control other people's opinions. 
Her: Well. That's not completely true. You can change what you're going to teach and how you're going to teach it. You don't want to stir up a hornet's next.
Me: No of course not. I'm not planning anything intentionally inflammatory, but I've seen what these guys have to say. I know that some of them aren't going to like the way I'm doing this because we don't share the same philosophy. But that's not my problem. It's theirs.  
Her: You can talk to them and ask what you can change to make them less unhappy with your workshop.
Me: Um. No. 

The actual conversation lasted at a somewhat painful forty minutes. My friend honestly believes that it is not only possible but advisable for me to change the way a group I don't belong to (and don't want to belong to because of that whole "we don't share the same philosophies" thing) thinks about me. All I have to do is change the presentation of my material to something they find acceptable (or at least a majority of them would find acceptable).  Me? I'm mystified someone (even a good friend) would care so much what someone total strangers think about me. 

Don't get me wrong, of course I want to be liked and respected, but at forty five, I've finally started to figure out that you can't please all of the people all of the time. At best, you can please some of the people some of the time--and that means that you're going to piss off some of the people some of the time, too. 

And this is almost an exact echo of conversations I've had with other writers. When a  reader leaves a negative review or dings an author for something, we tend to get very sensitive to that subject. We ask ourselves and our colleagues "should I do this again?" or we say "My character wants to do THIS, but I know how much readers hate that. What do I do?"

To quote my friend Grace Duncan, the answer is this: Write the story that needs to be written. That may mean pissing off readers who don't like threesomes or cheating spouses. That may mean pissing off readers who don't like angst or too much sex. That may mean pissing off readers who want more sex. That may mean pissing off readers who don't like BDSM or vampires or shifters (but buy your book about BDSM vampires having alternately too much and too little sex with their shifter lovers anyway because no matter what we write, somebody is going to be pissed off about it.)

As storytellers, we have a responsibility to tell our characters' stories. 

And yes, it's easier said than done.

All creative types are sensitive. We want people to love what we produce. 

That's why we're encouraged to grow thick skins because someone, somewhere is going to hate what we've done. We have to learn to shake it off and keep working.

And that's what happened to me the other night with my friend. Of course I don't enjoy pissing people off and I (almost never) do it intentionally, but I realize it's inevitable. 

If people from X Group don't like my workshop, guess what? They don't have to show up for it. Their opinions are simply not my problem (for the record: I'm not saying their philosophy is wrong, I'm simply presenting my own take on a particular subject.)  

I honestly hadn't realized until that moment how much of a fuck I didn't give about what people think of me anymore. And it was very liberating.

Of course as an author, I don't want to intentionally piss off my readers (I love my readers!) Beyond that, when you buy my books, you pay my bills. But I know I can't make every reader happy. I have to write the stories that I need to write. Fortunately, there are enough super-awesome authors out there that every reader can find one or two or ten that they can fall in love with. Likewise, there are enough super-awesome readers out there that one or two or ten can fall in love with me. 

I do believe that as authors, we have a responsibility to be sensitive to certain topics. If you have a story that contains or even mentions acts of abuse, rape (on or off page), self-injury, threesomes, or cheating, or other well-known triggers, it is only fair and appropriate to warn people up front. At that point, the reader can decide for themselves whether or not a book is for them. 

What isn't fair is expect us to walk around on eggshells worrying about who we're going to piss off or worse, expecting us to avoid subjects because they are triggers. (Or change the way I want to teach a workshop--a way that works for me--to avoid pissing off people who seem an awful lot like that loud minority of M/M authors and readers who don't want women writing or even reading M/M.)

I've learned a very important lesson these last few years: (and yes, it is completely at odds with what my friend was trying to tell me the other night):  no matter how hard you try, you cannot control what other people think or how they're going to react. All you can do is live your own life to the fullest, do the things that make you happy, and let others do the same. 

My friend has every right to put her energy into mitigating the opinions of the people around her if that makes her happy. 

I choose to put my energy into writing what I love, teaching what I love, and doing what I love. I choose to not care what others think of me (or at least to continue to growing a nice thick skin and not worry so much about ruffling a few feathers as I dance through the remainder of this life).

I choose not to conform to other people's ideas and opinions but rather to form and value my own. I choose to express myself.

Does this make me selfish? Probably. But like I said, I'm forty five years old. I have a finite amount of time left on this planet. I don't want to spend it worrying about offending other people to the point where I feel the need to change how I teach or what I write. 

I do feel I owe it to my readers, my colleagues, and my publisher to comport myself in a professional manner. I owe it to my teachers to behave in a way that will reflect well on them. I owe it to my friends to be supportive and to be there when they need me.

What I do not owe anyone is to change myself for their comfort.

I don't owe the members of X Group to go out of my way not to offend their sensibilities.

I owe them civility; I owe them courtesy. I certainly owe them the right to their opinion. But I am under no obligation to be swayed by that opinion; I am under no obligation to attempt to change anyone's opinion of me.

Truthfully, I think that would be a disservice to them as well as to myself.  




Saturday, August 2

Tentacles and Chain Ch. 5.

Chapter Five



TRELLEN’S heart beat faster as deceptively gentle hands—or at least he presumed the gentleness was a deception—pulled his arms away from his body. Too afraid to do anything else, he remained posed like that, his arms out, his body on display, while the water shifted around him. He had the sense that Master was circling him, like a shark stalking its next meal.

Was it too much to hope that the Unspeakable One would find some fault in him that would make him undesirable?

Or did it matter?

Even if he was flawed, he could still be used. Trellen shivered. Why didn’t the monster simply take what he wanted and get it over with? As long moments ticked past, it became harder and harder for Trellen to resist the urge to wrap his arms back around his midsection, to give himself whatever meager protection he could against what he imagined was to come. But he’d given his word.

He would submit without fighting, and what was he worth if he didn’t keep his word? Even when it’s to a monster. It wasn’t the integrity of the other person that mattered; it was his own. The Unspeakable One may violate his body, but he would never taint Trellen’s soul. Never. He would hold onto that no matter what. Because what good is it to plot my escape if I can never return home?

He jumped as a hard, cold metal ring was fitted around left wrist. Instinctively, he started to pull away—but then yielded and allowed Master to fasten the circlet in place. “Very good, Pretty,” he crooned. “I do realize this is difficult for you.”

Absently, Trellen nodded. The other probably did realize it was difficult. And he probably takes sick pleasure in it, too. A moment later, Trellen’s other wrist was similarly fitted and Master raised both of Trellen’s arms over his head, spreading them wide. Something dangled there in the darkness, hanging down from above.

“What—?”

But the tip of one of Master’s tentacles brushed against his lips, silencing him. “Shhhh. You have no need to ask questions. I will not keep you waiting long.” He secured one of Trellen’s wrists and then the other to what Trellen quickly figured out was sturdy chain, hanging down from the chamber’s ceiling.

Fear and anger seized him at once. “Why do you restrain me?”

But the Unspeakable one didn’t answer. Instead he lifted the chain hanging from Trellen’s collar and fastened it overhead as well, though it hung more slack than the taut chains holding Trellen’s wrists.

Trellen struggled against his bonds, but the heavy chain held fast. “I said I wouldn’t fight! Have I not been true to my word?”

Trellen’s only answer was the soft caress of Master’s fingertips, ghosting down his arms. Once again, Trellen was filled with equal measures of delight and disgust. Why must his touch feel so good?

“You have nothing to fear, Pretty. You have been most obedient—but you do still fight.”

“I do not!”

“Shhhhh. You do. But it is all right.” Master continued to explore Trellen’s body. His chest. His stomach. The soft sounds of approval coming from him made Trellen shiver. If he could just close his eyes and pretend it was Luce maybe it wouldn’t be so bad—but when Master came to his penile slit, instinct made Trellen buck and pull away.

Master encircled his tail with a tentacle, effectively putting an end to Trellen’s struggles. “Be still, Pretty, and accept my touch.”

Trellen sagged in defeat. “I’m sorry.” He was sorry he’d gone back on his word and fought, but even more so, he was sorry for the way his body reacted, becoming increasingly aroused as the other male touched his private places.

Master used his other hand to cup Trellen’s cheek and tilt it up, perhaps so he could see Trellen’s face. “You do not need to apologize, Pretty. You have been taught that so many wonderful things are vile and wrong. I cannot blame you for the lies that others have put in your head.”
“But it is wrong.” Only he didn’t sound very convincing, even to his own ears.

“What makes it so?” Master sounded amused. It was infuriating—except it was very hard to concentrate on being angry when Master was tracing the line of Trellen’s penile slit with one fingertip, making Trellen quiver, making his blood surge and his better judgment cloud over. “Is it wrong merely because someone else says so?” Master asked. “What if I tell you it is not wrong at all?”

“But you’re—” He bit his lip.

Master chuckled, clearly unperturbed at the accusation he must know had died on Trellen’s lips. “Tell me, Pretty, do you believe everything your Elders tell you?”

He didn’t. But….but what? He could barely think straight; his whole body was thrumming with need. “Please stop.”

“You should never be afraid or ashamed of your own pleasure,” Master told him gently. “Or someone else’s.” He feathered a soft kiss to Trellen’s cheek and whispered in his ear. “There is much I can teach you if you will allow me, my Pretty, but first you must let go of your inhibitions.” And with that, he withdrew completely.

Trellen cried out at the sudden loss of contact. What was wrong with him? “Please. Just…just do whatever you’re going to do and get it over with!”

Master let out a disappointed sounding sigh and laid both hands on Trellen’s hips. “I will be patient with you,” he said, his tone that of one addressing a petulant child. “For I knew the first time I saw you, that you were a beautiful flower worth possessing. But some flowers must be tended carefully if they are ever to bloom—and I would so love to see you blossom, my Pretty.”

The words ricocheted through Trellen’s head and for a moment the world stopped moving. The first time. Has he been watching me? For how long? But he wasn’t given much time to think about it, for while he’d been stunned into motionless silence, Master had been busy and Trellen suddenly realized that a heavy chain had been secured around his tail, just above his tailfin. He pulled at it, but it was too short to allow for much movement. He was truly helpless.

“Easy, my Pretty.” Master’s voice came from behind him now. “I know that Cetaceans fear being bound nearly as much as you fear the dark—or perhaps, what you really fear are the monsters who hide within the dark.” One tentacle slithered up Trellen’s tail, until it encircled his waist once more. Master used it to caress Trellen’s stomach and at the same time rested both his hands on Trellen’s shoulders. “You fear the unknown, although in that, you are hardly unique.” He slipped another tentacle around Trellen’s waist, this time from the other side, and then another and another, until Trellen’s tail was completely encased.

His heart beat harder and he gulped in water faster than his gills could process it. The creature could crush every bone in his tail if he chose! “Please—”

“Hush, Pretty.” He wrapped two more tentacles snuggly around Trellen’s chest causing fear to explode in Trellen’s heart. Only the chains and the Unspeakable One’s incredible strength kept Trellen from breaking his promise again and thrashing against his bonds.

Master pressed a kiss to the back of Trellen’s neck and Trellen whimpered. Heat rushed through his body. Kisses were so…intimate. And Master’s lips were so soft. So gentle. It was all too confusing.

Master continued to kiss him, to caress his skin, until Trellen’s breathing evened out, until he no longer had the urge to break free. He could hate himself all he wanted, but he couldn’t deny the pleasure he took in the other male’s touch.

But then something long and hard rubbed up against Trellen’s spine and his froze.

“Do you feel that?” Master asked, sounding amused. “Do you know what it is?”

Shame strangled the words in Trellen’s throat and all he could do was nod.

“What is it then?” Master persisted, teasing, even as he began to rub the part in question up and down along Trellen’s lower back. The sensation caused a new flood of uncomfortable desires. “Come now, you can speak. It’s only a word. Will you not say one word at your Master’s command?”

Trellen clenched his fists. It was just a word. I agreed to this. “P—”

But the tip of one of Master’s tentacles pressed against his lips. “Tut-tut. The word I am looking for begins with a different letter.” And the tentacle was gone again. He slid the organ in question up and down Trellen’s spine, past his waist, making Trellen shudder. “Come, my Pretty. What is this thing that causes you so much delight, hmm? I can feel the heat in your skin. You will never convince me that you are not enjoying this.”

“I…please.”

“There is no shame in a word. Words are but collections of sounds used to communicate our needs and desires. Tell me, what is the name of this thing that causes you to squirm so delightfully for me?”

Defeated, Trellen gave in. “Your cock.”

“Very good, Pretty!” He sounded so pleased. “Now, let us find your cock, shall we?”

Monday, July 28

Yearnin' For Some Learnin' – RainbowCon 2015

Educational content at GLBTQ conferences can sometimes be particularly slim. Sure, there are all those fun topics about fandom, and you'll probably learn something by attending them, but if you're looking for some content to really sink your teeth into? Most of the time you'll be out of luck. But not at RainbowCon!
RainbowCon is a four-day conference that focuses on GLBTQ topics and persons across various media. Our main goal with the conference is to bring people together who love and support the GLBTQ community through all the artistic forms. Our content spans from fiction, television, and movies, to fandom, theatre, and visual media like web comics, all with a decidedly QUILTBAG perspective. With GLBTQ topics slowly becoming more visible in the media, education can be exceptionally important, and we wanted to highlight such content at RainbowCon. Here are a few places you'll see educational material at our 2015 convention, which runs July 16th through 19th, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.
  • First Exposure Panels – We have panels scattered throughout our con schedule that focus on education for topics that might be completely new to some con-goers. There are con-specific panels such as Con Etiquette 101 and Dealing With Con Harassment, for those who are attending a major event for the first time. There are also panels geared toward educating attendees about various parts of the QUILTBAG spectrum that are less visible or misunderstood (e.g. Bisexual Mythbusters, What is Genderqueer?, and the differences between CD/TV/TS). These panels are meant to be introductions to both the con-going and GLBTQ communities.
  • Social & Political Panels – Never ones to shy away from the tougher topics, we've incorporated a number of panels into RainbowCon that deal with social and political areas of the GLBTQ community as well. Stop by for discussions about current events, confronting bullying, how to be an ally, marriage equality, queerbaiting, and even tips for getting kids reading QUILTBAG-positive literature.
  • Workshops – For those looking for education on a skill level, writers can enjoy our offering of several workshops intended to improve various aspects of their craft. Perspective/POV, worldbuilding, dialogue, villains... There are plenty of topics to be covered, and we hope writers will have a fantastic time and find every workshop they take to be helpful with their writing, whether it's a hobby or a full-time career. Just be sure to jump on these when RSVPs open up; space is limited!
  • Field Trip – Our big field trip for the 2015 event is to take a tour at Tampa Bay's Big Cat Rescue, which has been providing a sanctuary to big cats from near and far. Even this trip will be an educational experience, as the guides on the tours share the stories of their various residents and details about the different species that make up this majestic sect of the animal kingdom. Space is limited, so if you attend, be sure to RSVP when you register. There is a small additional fee for this event, since it is off-site, but as residents of the Tampa area who have been on these tours ourselves, we can tell you that it's truly an experience not to be missed!
So, whether you're looking for something light and fun, or really want to delve deeper into the more complicated topics of the QUILTBAG community, RainbowCon really is a fantastic chance to expand those horizons in a safe environment amongst others who enjoy and support QUILTBAG art.

Saturday, July 26

Tentacles and Chain (Ch. 4)

Chapter Four

There was movement in the darkness and for a moment, Trellen thought the monster had left—but then the water’s scent turned acidic again and he knew the Unspeakable One was still near.
“You will come here,” said the monster. “And lower yourself to me.”
Swallowing back a mouthful of bile, Trellen did as he was bidden, slumping to the floor in front of the heavy bars, trying—and failing—not to tremble.
“You will not look up.”
Trellen merely nodded and lowered his chin, closing his eyes so that he felt rather than saw the arms that pressed between the bars and the hands—the fingers that seemed like his—that fastened something around his neck.
A collar.
As soon as the hands left his neck, Trellen reached up to feel it. It was slender and made of some kind of metal, like the bars—but it was smooth, not corroded, and held in place by some sort of locking mechanism he couldn’t open.
“Hands to your sides, now,” the Unspeakable One said in a gentle, patient tone that did nothing to allay the shame welling up in Trellen’s heart.
But he did as he was told. “Can I see you now?” He hated the weakness of his voice.
“In time. First you must tell me if you have ever tasted another male’s cock.”
Trellen’s breath caught in his throat and he shook his head. Cetaceans didn’t—no one talked like that, asked questions like that! He was aware of his sex, but to speak of it aloud…? Heat coursed through his body. Even when his father had taken him aside to discuss the way of nature, of procreation and pleasure, he hadn’t been so blunt. So vulgar. All in all, the talk had lasted a very short time and left both Trellen and his father feeling uncomfortable.
“Has anyone ever tasted your cock, Pretty?” the Unspeakable One asked unabashedly.
Trellen shook his head again.
Long, thin fingers—fingers that ended in black, hooked talons—grasped his chin and tilted it so he was looking up into the darkness, toward where he imagined the Unspeakable One’s face might be. The glow orb was too far behind Trellen for its light to penetrate the water beyond the bars. All Trellen could see was that the Unspeakable One’s skin was pale, but it was impossible to tell its color because of the orb’s strange green glow.
“Have you known any pleasure?” the monster asked.
Yes. He knew the pleasure of the Blue, the joy of filtered sunlight on his back. He knew what it was to breach the surface and taste the air, behold the scintillating yellow glow of the sun—it was blinding, but then Trellen would dive back below the cool waves, which felt all the better for the few moments he’d spent in the unveiled sunlight.
But that wasn’t what the Unspeakable one was asking, so Trellen shook his head. He had not known the pleasure of another Cetacean’s touch. And it’s doubtful I ever will unless I find some way out of this place.
As Trellen’s eyes became more and more accustomed to the never-ending darkness, he thought he could make out the other male’s shape, a shadow against the greater darkness beyond, that was vaguely hominid except for the long, thick tentacles that grew where a Cetacean’s tail would be.
“Well?” said the Unspeakable One.
Trellen shivered as the monster slid his thumb along his cheek in a caress both pleasant and uncomfortable: the former in that it made his skin tingle; the latter for exactly the same reason. Because if I enjoy the touch of a monster, what does that make me? It was a mightily unsettling thought.
The Unspeakable One continued, “This is an interesting turn of events. I had not anticipated the pleasure of breaking you in.”
“Wh-what does that mean?”
He chuckled. “I’m sure you can figure that out on your own, my Pretty.”  
A cold knot of fear congealed in his gut. The Unspeakable one might sound pleased by the prospect “breaking him in,” but Trellen was sure he wasn’t going to enjoy it at all.
Trellen was ordered to rise and did so numbly. The Unspeakable One reached attached a chain to his collar, further demoralizing his spirit. Then the hand was gone and Trellen heard strange sounds, metal on metal, and suddenly the bars swung open and there nothing between him and the Unspeakable One.
“Come, my Pretty.”
Trellen couldn’t move. “The glow—”
“Will not be necessary. Come.” He held out his hand—the one not holding the other end of the chain leash—as if he expected Trellen to take it. 
“Wait. Please.” But he’d agreed to this. He said he would submit, that he wouldn’t fight. It’s the only chance I have to escape. Clearly the Unspeakable One meant to take him from his prison, and that meant he could look for a way out. If I survive that long.  “Y-you never said, what am I to call you,” he said, stalling for time.
“Master.”
Trellen felt weak.
“Come,” the Unspeakable One repeated, gesturing with his outstretched hand, beckoning Trellen to lay his own hand within it. “You’ve given your word. You will submit to my pleasure or I will leave you here.”
It took all of his willpower, but he laid his hand within the…my Master’s hand. Master’s skin was cold to the touch and there was webbing between his long, barbed fingers that Trellen hadn’t noticed before. His breath caught yet again as Master twined their fingers together. The gesture was oddly intimate and sent a shiver of pleasure down Trellen’s spine. How could he hate somebody who excited his body with a simple touch?
But how can I take any pleasure from a monster who wants to use me, break me in? Because he knew what it meant—or at least he suspected. He will make me lie beneath him. He will force his…. He swallowed hard. There could only be one reason why Master wanted to know if Trellen had ever tasted another male’s member.
Master gave a gentle tug to Trellen’s hand, coaxing him forward into the darkness. “Tell me what you fear,” he said, his tone as gentle as his touch.
But it didn’t matter how gentle his tone, Trellen felt sure the Unspeakable One would use his fears against him if he admitted them. He shook his head, refusing to speak.
“Unless you wish me to become cross with you,” Master warned, “you must answer me when I ask you a question, and honestly, at that.”
Trellen swallowed hard and forced himself to speak. “I fear the dark.” It was true enough, especially when he was being led through the darkness by a monster—it just wasn’t what he feared most.
But Master snorted out a laugh. “All Cetaceans fear the dark, my Pretty. What do you fear?”
He opened his mouth but then shut it again. But he didn’t have a choice, he had to say something. “I fear what you’re going to do to me.”
“Yet you accepted my offer.” He sounded intrigued. “And if I am not mistaken, you don’t find my touch wholly unwelcome.”
“I can’t help the way my body reacts.” He sounded defensive even to his own ears.
“There is no shame in taking pleasure in another’s touch, Pretty.”
Trellen tensed as he felt the other’s hand—the one that held the end of the leash—snake around his waist.
“The passage narrows. You must let me lead you through the darkness you fear so much. Besides, one thing you must never fear is being close to me. Another is speaking your mind—especially when it comes to pleasure. I’ve never understood the Cetacean propensity to repress sexual desire.”
“We do no such thing!”
He laughed again. “You blush at the mere mention of the word ‘cock’.” 
“That’s because it’s a disgusting word.”
“Says who?” he asked, continuing to sound amused.
“What do you know of…?” But the angry words died behind the lips Trellen shut tight. It would in no way be wise to anger his Master by calling him a monster and demanding to know what he knew of common decency. If Trellen was going to survive this, he would have to learn to curb not only his curiosity, but his tongue as well. “How do you know what Cetaceans think?” he asked in a more civil tone.
“I know what I see. Your kind are a sad, repressed lot who take no joy in the beauty of the open sea, but rather hide behind your coral reefs, afraid of boogie men in the dark. All but you,” he added, and stroked Trellen’s chin.
It was all he could do not to recoil away from the unwanted affection. “I am afraid of boogie men in the dark.”
Master pulled him closer. “So you are, my Pretty. But fears can be unlearned.”
Trellen doubted that, but kept his thoughts to himself. He felt another door open, but the chamber beyond was as black as the one they’d just passed through. “What is this place?”
“My home. And yours, too.”
“Do you never light it?”
“I have no need to.”
So you really will use my fears against me.
Master led him a short way farther and then stopped, turning Trellen to face him, making Trellen wonder how much the Unspeakable One could see. It seemed to be a great deal. “Stay still, just where you are,” he instructed and dropped both Trellen’s hand and the long chain. Then he moved away and Trellen was suddenly very alone and very cold. He wrapped his arms around his midsection, wishing more than ever that he could see something—anything—in the darkness, just so he would know what was happening.
There was movement, the clinking of metal against metal. He felt the currents change again as Master moved around the chamber, and the knots tightened in Trellen’s gut as his imagination began to run wild. “What…what are you going to do to me?” he asked, when he couldn’t take it a second longer.
Out of nowhere, he felt Master’s fingers stroking his cheek and much to his shame, Trellen leaned into the cold, alien touch.
Master’s answer, however, chilled him to the bone: “I’m going to teach you something of pleasure, my Pretty, because it seems to me that your education has been sadly lacking.”



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A number of people have asked me why I'm not charging any money for Tentacles and Chain and have suggested putting out a virtual "tip jar" for donations.
What I'd really like to do is ask anyone who is so inclined to donate a couple of bucks to my fundraising effort for AIDS Walk Detroit. (CLICK HERE to go directly to my donation site and hit the big red "Give Now" button; unfortunately, they only take credit cards *sigh*) 
Anyone who knows me, knows how important HIV awareness and education is to me. In the past few years, our funding has been seriously cut (along with everyone else's because let's face it, the economy has seen better days). That means that fundraising efforts like this are more important than ever. I know I always feel like my $5 or $10 isn't enough to make a difference, but believe me: every little bit counts, because those small donations (even $1 and $2 donations) add up. If you're enjoying this story and both want and are able to support me, please support a cause I believe in.
And if you're not in a position to give money (and believe me, I get that, too!) give some time. It doesn't have to be a big commitment, just take the time to make sure you understand HIV and AIDS, because the more people who understand it, the better off we'll be, not just in terms of stopping the spread of the disease, but in ending the stigma that goes along with it.
Thanks, guys!


About Our Organization

AIDS Walk Detroit provides financial support for programs in HIV prevention, education and services for HIV positive individuals. The organization promotes public awareness through events and activities to ensure people living with HIV/AIDS are treated with dignity and respect. To Contact Us: Phone: 248-399-9255 Fax: 248-399-3458 Address: P.O. Box 1618 Royal Oak, MI 48068-9879