I received a message on Facebook the other day from an old high school friend. She was actually the one who tarted me up for my high school graduation because I knew nothing when it came to make-up or dresses and the like. (Is my genderqueerness showing? Yeah. I thought so.) In any case, she, like myself, currently has the red equals (=) symbol as her profile picture on Facebook at the moment. There is a post ranting about the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), that it’s run by old white guys with their own agenda, etc. My friend was asking my thoughts on the whole thing, since she wanted perspective from someone part of the QUILTBAG community instead of getting involved in an already heated debate from the post. So! I messaged her back and wanted to share my thoughts here on my blog as well. I’ve expanded and reorganized the message a bit here, since I want to be a little more thorough than what I thought was called for in a quick Facebook message.
When it comes to HRC, there are certainly some less than savory things about the company itself. There’s controversy for a reason, of course. Personally, I don’t have much to do with HRC itself. I’ve never volunteered to get people to sign up for their campaigns and the like, I’ve never been to a rally, and I’ve never protested anything on their behalf. I’ve never been too terribly gung-ho in the way of marriage equality. Might come as a shock to some people, since I’m such an active writer of gay, lesbian, and bisexual fiction (and hopefully trans* soon as well). I have a different stance on the subject, one I’m sure a lot of people would call utopian and dispute ’til kingdom come. My ideal is beyond what is currently feasible in our current political and social climate. C’est la vive. I recognize that, and I welcome people to have their own opinions. I don’t like the status quo any more than others who are moving toward equality.
I’m a little different in that my personal opinion is to separate marriage completely from civil unions. If it were possible, I’d make “marriage”, as a term, only applicable to the ceremony provided by a religious institution. It would be a ceremony without any legal backing and would be up to whatever religion is being practiced/expressed. On the flip side of that coin, “civil unions” would involve the same paperwork, rights, and privileges that are currently termed under “marriage”. The unions would be available to any and all who seek them, regardless of race, gender or sexual identity or expression, you name it. It completely separates the term “marriage” from the legislation. No debate would have to be raised in the legality of civil unions because they wouldn’t carry the same weight that the term marriage has. The separation would mean that the status of being married would be between the individuals (couples, multiple couples, even) and their chosen religions. In a way, this is your classic separation of church and state. The religious standpoint on marriage would have no sway on the legal standing of the citizens who are getting civil unions, and that would include everyone.
Bringing it back to the present reality, if two individuals want to be considered legally married, I’m all for it. Make no mistake about that. But the term marriage has gotten so bogged down in whether it’s appropriate or not from a religiously based moral standpoint that no one is about to agree one way or the other on who may marry whom. In an ideal world, separating the terms would happen and everyone would be equal legislation-wise while the issue of being “married” would just stay out of it. I know that’s not going to happen because people are, forgive the pun, too married to their terminology at this point, but it’s where I stand on the issue. ^_^
I understand people not wanting to support HRC and that the = symbol has been their campaign symbol for ages now. However, my stance on this is that the symbol has become more than just their campaign. The symbol has become indicative of equality in general, seeking equal rights for everyone regardless of their sexual and gender identities and/or expressions. It’s a cause that is championed by more than the HRC, so the symbol is more than the slogan for their particular campaign.
In the end, I feel one can support the CAUSE without necessarily having to support the COMPANY behind a particular cause. That’s where I stand on it. I support the cause of equality as a female-presenting genderqueer individual. I don’t have any ties to the HRC campaign, but I do hope that the US as a country takes a step toward equality.
Hey, everyone! It’s been a while, despite my belated post yesterday, and I wanted to do another ‘behind the scenes’ sort of post that is related to my “Goals for Immortal Symphony” post. Episode 2 of the serial I’ve written with my co-author, S.L. Armstrong, is out! The third part of the serial is in editing, and we’re probably a day away from completing the first draft of Episode 4, so I felt it was time for a bit of an update! As the marketing director at Storm Moon Press, I’m very watchful for how our serial as well as Cari Z’s Cambion: Dark Around the Edges serial is received. The great news is that the serial format seems to be accepted for what it is. It’s a different format and won’t be for everyone, but there haven’t been any complaints so far as to the format the story is being told in. However, through perusing the reviews on Goodreads in addition to the reviews that have been posted on review sites, there are a few things I’d like to clarify for readers based on the comments I’ve seen.
“You’re Copying Ben Barnes!”
I knew this would come up at some point, and I want to address it. For those who don’t follow much when it comes to Dorian Gray interpretations, there is a 2009 film version of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. In that film, the role of Dorian was given to Ben Barnes (best known for his role as Prince Caspian in two of the Chronicles of Narnia movies). Ben Barnes is gorgeous, and his particular look very much expresses the duality of Dorian’s nature, being young and innocent looking while also capable of being utterly debauched and devious. I’m so not arguing that point. The man is fucking gorgeous. To be told I’m copying isn’t really an insult.However, I want to be clear here that Dorian Gray, as he is written by Oscar Wilde, was blond and blue-eyed. That’s the canon, so the Ben Barnes portrayal of Dorian Gray is essentially a departure from the source material they drew inspiration from. This is not unheard of. (There’s actually a great post about all the different interpretations of Dorian Gray.) It’s artistic license, and in the case of Ben Barnes, I still feel like the look of him captured the essence of the character, despite the incongruousness of his coloring. In Immortal Symphony, S.L. Armstrong and I depart from the canon in this respect as well, writing Dorian Gray as a brown-eyed brunet. We did this on purpose to enable our Dorian Gray to make the argument that Oscar Wilde took liberties with his story when he wrote it down. It’s subverting the canon, making Oscar Wilde the one who actually twisted the truth. We state that in the blurb: “You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you don’t.” Just like Louis in the film version of Interview With the Vampire denounces Bram Stoker’s Dracula as “the vulgar fictions of a demented Irishman”. So, while our Dorian Gray bears a certain resemblance to Ben Barnes, no, we didn’t create our Dorian Gray to mimic him.
“This is Dorian Gray seen through Gay Goggles.”
Firstly, ‘gay goggles’? XD Um, that’s honestly a bit offensive to me. That so is not what we’re trying to accomplish with this serial. In Oscar Wilde’s work, the sexual subtext between Dorian and various other male characters (Basil along with many unnamed boys left in Dorian’s debauched wake, Alan Campbell being one of them) made it quite clear that Dorian was, for all intents and purposes, bisexual. To boil this down to a statement that we’re making “Dorian Gray: The Gay Version”, I feel, is an underestimation not only of the work we’re writing, but also of Oscar Wilde’s work.While we are certainly paying homage to Oscar Wilde’s work (obviously ^_-), we are trying to bring the character of Dorian Gray to a new time and into a more paranormal/supernatural world than was ever described in Oscar Wilde’s work. Dorian is still very much bisexual in our fiction, so we don’t want readers to get the impression that this is simply gay fiction. Nor is it general mainstream paranormal fiction. Dorian is pansexual, he’s omnisexual, he’s sapiosexual, he’s fucking Harkness-sexual. “Anything with a postcode.” As such, trying to simplify it as Dorian Gray through Gay Goggles is seriously missing the mark. Is there gay content in this serial fiction? Yes. Gabriel is gay, and he becomes involved with Dorian. Dorian, however, is not gay, and we make certain readers know it from the very first scene of the very first episode.
“Gabriel is just TSTL.”
This one threw me off a bit, I’ll admit. TSTL = Too Stupid To Live. Now, does Gabriel, the main character in the serial apart from Dorian, make mistakes in the story? Oh, hell yeah he does. He puts himself in danger occasionally on his ghost-and-spirit hunting assignments, to be sure. That’s an occupational hazard he accepts, though, and having Michael along to warn him when shit is getting really sticky definitely helps. It’s a fair argument that he takes risks that he probably shouldn’t, but if he didn’t go after Dorian at the end of the first episode and follow him to Scotland, well… that would be the end of the story. And it would be a lame end. XD
Gabriel is young, naïve, and impressionable, despite the hardships he’s been through. These are actually three characteristics that were originally perfectly suited to Dorian before he was influenced by Lord Henry and became the debauched character we all know (and love, c’mon, you know you love him too ^_-). There’s a bit of “The apprentice has become the master” in Dorian’s story. He was influenced, and he then went about (both in The Picture of Dorian Gray‘s canon and in our serial) and influenced a great many others to his form of the new hedonism. That’s part of the tragedy of Dorian Gray.
The other thing is that Gabriel has always been the responsible twin. When Michael died–and then when he stuck around as a spirit–Gabriel went through a really dark period and pretty much lost everything. His twin was gone, his family believed he was crazy, and everyone distanced themselves from him. He was able to pull himself together enough to finish college and all, but Michael dying really changed his life, and with Michael still around, it gives him a connection to that spirit plane. Gabriel being who he is, he wants to make good use of that unique connection and try to do some good, even though that kind of business is thankless and usually doesn’t pay well. He’s been responsible for much of his life, so when Dorian comes along and offers him a chance to reclaim the wild party days that he missed out on the instant Michael died, there’s a certain eagerness in him to finally let loose. It’s reckless, and it should be uncomfortable for readers, because it really is a 180 from Gabriel’s normal behavior. (In fact, this aspect of the serial is best explained by my co-author, who posted up a blog post yesterday about it. ^_^) So, does Gabriel have flaws and make mistakes? Sure, he does. He’s young and is still trying to find his stride in life while also looking for the occasional escape, and Dorian is exceptionally good at exploiting those weak spots and getting what he wants out of Gabriel.
Of course, we’re perfectly aware that not everyone will enjoy this serial. There are plenty of reasons for that, many of them completely valid, and I’m not trying to say people can’t dislike the story or the characters. I just wanted to explain some of our choices as the authors and clarify the point that this serial isn’t just the gay take on Dorian Gray. We’re making our best effort to create something much more than that. So, for those who are curious, Overture: Episode 2 – Life of the Party is now available. You can still sign up for the season pass, which will get you a few awesome extras not available any other way, or just get the episodes individually. I really hope a lot of people enjoy this serial. The characters do develop with a lot of depth, but it takes time on paper to give the reader a true look at them while keeping a plot moving forward. Stick with us! There is a lot more to come with Dorian, Gabriel, and Michael!
(Cross-posted over at Kassa’s 3AM blog. I thought I would share the post here as well, since it has some goals in it. ^_- It’s been in my drafts for over a month because I thought I’d already posted it. Whoops! This’ll sound a little out of date because of that, but there will be another post tomorrow that brings us a bit more up to date! I promise!)
Today, I’m thrilled to announce the release of the first episode in the serial fiction line that I’ve started with my co-author, S.L. Armstrong. Immortal Symphony is the name of the serial, with the first season called Overture. It follows the classic literary character, Dorian Gray, through our modern times with an urban fantasy twist that allows us to depart slightly from the story we know by Oscar Wilde. The other main character, Gabriel Lawrence, is a paranormal investigator with secrets of his own, including a dead twin who helps him as a ghost… and ironically gives Gabriel reality checks as only a brother could. Sparks inevitably fly when Gabriel happens upon Dorian, but it’s Gabriel’s secrets that make him intriguing to Dorian, who thrills in the conquest and corruption of his lovers. There are few Dorian finds interesting after being alive for so long thanks to the portrait that magically sustains his youth and beauty, and Gabriel makes himself the perfect target for Dorian’s games.
Aside: Is it required that you read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde before you start reading our serial fiction? Not at all! If you’re curious, all you really need to do for a basic understanding of what happened in Oscar Wilde’s book is read the summary from SparkNotes. While simplistic, it definitely gets you the essentials. Of course, I have to be honest here and recommend that everyone read the whole book, if you have the time and inclination. The tone of it is very classic, quite philosophical with some social commentary of the times (1890s), and dry by a lot of today’s standards, I suppose… but what an extraordinary piece of fiction!
While we want to remain respectful to Oscar Wilde’s characters, we do depart from his work and have our own goals when it comes to the serial fiction. Here are a few things S.L. and I are trying to do with this serial:
- Expand Upon Wilde’s Dorian Gray While Making Him Our Own – Oscar Wilde’s character of Dorian is fantastic. He’s the poster boy of youth and beauty and all things high society at the start of Wilde’s book, and we see how Lord Henry’s influence turns him toward hedonism and all things corrupt. Dorian is a character leading a double life back in Victorian times in The Picture of Dorian Gray. To contrast, we bring Dorian into modern day, where many of the scandals of British high society from the 1890s are now perhaps sensational, but not particularly noteworthy. In modern times, the character of Dorian has much more freedom to be completely and unapologetically debauched. Working on the assumption that Dorian has been alive all this time, however, means there are a lot of skeleton’s in Dorian’s closet. While the first episode of the first season of Immortal Symphony gives a glimpse of Dorian just as corrupted as in the height of his double life in Oscar Wilde’s work, there is a lot of depth and backstory that we’ll be exploring in the serial. You might not see it at first, but there is frightening depth to Dorian that the reader will get to experience over the course of the serial. Promise.
- Explore, Contrast, and Pay Respects to the Classic Themes – For those who aren’t familiar with The Picture of Dorian Gray, some of the themes that play out in the book are the superficial value placed on beauty and youth, the way influence can psychologically shape/twist an individual, the duplicity of leading a double life, and taking (or avoiding) responsibility for one’s actions. These themes are so tied up in the character of Dorian that it would be impossible not to explore them anew in the serial fiction S.L. and I are writing, so you’ll see our take on them as the series unfolds. In modern times, Dorian doesn’t have to live a double life, really, but the duplicity theme bends to encompass the masking that one does in real life to separate the outwardly projected image from the person’s true self that is hidden away from view. Dorian is a master manipulator, but he also knows far too well that the forces of influence work both ways. He might corrupt his lovers, but his lovers also effect him over time, even if he doesn’t like to show it.
- Show the Spectrum of Sexuality Oscar Wilde Couldn’t – Sexuality in fiction was relatively subdued in Victorian literature. Even with some of the controversial parts of The Picture of Dorian Gray edited out from its original publication in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, the book caused outrage on several ethical grounds. Today, it would be seen as so very tame! The homoerotic undertones within the book caused a huge stir back in the day, even though the relationship between Dorian Gray and the man who painted his portrait, Basil Hallward (along with other male characters like Alan Campbell), was never explicitly spelled out. S.L. and I have brought this aspect of Dorian’s character out of the proverbial closet. Dorian was depicted as a bisexual character, though the time period Oscar Wilde wrote in would never have labeled him as such. In our Immortal Symphony serial fiction, we plan to show Dorian in that bisexual light. Just because the story follows a gay relationship in modern day doesn’t negate the fact that Dorian doesn’t really discriminate when it comes to his sexual partners. He’s a character who has literally done it all, and we aren’t afraid to show that, which means there will be both M/M and M/F content out of Dorian and the whole spectrum of sexuality from various others. In Victorian London, even simple rumor of such conduct might have tarnished Dorian’s name, but in modern day, we’re happy to shamelessly show Dorian’s “anything goes” mentality.
- Tell Dorian’s Story in a New Fictional Format – As the ARC reviews of the first episode start coming out (three reviews have already been posted!), I’m nervous and excited about this new format of fiction that S.L. and I have taken on. There are many ways to write serial fiction (I wrote a blog post on that, actually), and this format is what we call the Radio Drama method, where each episode plays out a smaller portion of the plot before leaving off at a slight cliffhanger. The emphasis is on the overarching plot of the season, which means that some readers might be irritated that they don’t get a perfect “tied in a bow” ending to each episode, since the plot is ongoing and will be continued in the next episode. Like an old time radio drama or many modern television dramas, you’ll have to “tune in next week” (or month, in our case) to find out what happens next. Because of this format, you’ll get tastes of the characters in the first episode, but you won’t see the full depth of them immediately. You see what Dorian wants you to see, what he projects to Gabriel, and only the small hints of his past that he tries so desperately not to think about on his own time. Chipping away at that past takes time, so you won’t see it all immediately in the first episode, just like you don’t see every facet of a character in the pilot episode of a show like Fringe or Torchwood. I hope readers and reviewers will understand that this is a format that isn’t done often in the genre and will be able to enjoy it. *crosses fingers*
Without further ado, here is the blurb for the first episode of the first season of Immortal Symphony – Overture: A Meeting of Fate!
You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.
Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.
Episode 1: A Meeting of Fate
Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator from America, finds himself in London chasing down a supposedly haunted artifact. While there, he meets a man who calls himself Dorian Gray, who may not match the description from that famous story, but certainly has the attitude. And the seduction. And because ghost hunting isn’t exactly a lucrative venture, Dorian’s invitation into his world of opulence, decadence, and wealth may just prove too tempting for Gabriel to resist!
The first episode is Now Available! You can try out the serial by just buying the first episode on its own for only $0.99. The other option is to purchase the season pass, which signs you up to automatically get each of the six episodes in the Overture season as they come out each month. It saves you money in the end and gives you access to exclusive extras as well as he final compiled e-book of the season. So, if you love the concept and want to read the whole season for sure, grab the season pass! I hope everyone gives the Storm Moon Press serials a try. It’s a slightly new take on serial fiction in the genre, so I hope everyone enjoys it!
I love it when I learn something new in the business of publishing. A lot of the time, I stick to social media, but every so often, I see one of my co-owners stressing because they have far too much to do and not enough time to do it in. It’s times like those in which I offer to perhaps learn something new so I can help ease the pressure. At least a little bit. It takes a little training, but then they don’t have to worry about it anymore.
A while back, I learned how to put together the official SMP Newsletter. I still need a little help and input from my co-owners, of course, but I now know how to put everything together and format things so they look pretty. ^_^
What I’ve learned much more recently is how to typeset books for the printer. As in, making the e-book version of a book into the print version of the book. Typically, this job fell to either S.L. or to our freelance typesetter, but I’ve now learned the ropes and have triumphed! In the last monght, I’ve typeset the print editions of Devil’s Night, Torn in Two, Weight of a Gun II, Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs, After the First Taste of Love, and Making Ends Meet. I also helped out to re-format Fraternal Devotion, since that book was ‘supressed’ by Amazon and, therefore, CreateSpace refused to print it even for personal use. (Stupid censorship of legit incest-kink! We’re working with another printer to make sure we can get the book out in print.)
In short, I’ve been a very busy girl with typesetting a bunch of anthologies and novels/novellas that were waiting in the queue! It’s very exciting! Now, I freely admit that S.L. is the graphic genius here, so she’s the one responsible for the covers and internal illustrations, but the rest has been me. I’m still learning the ins and outs of section breaks (which are a pain in the ass when it comes to messing with headers and footers, by the way), but I’m very proud to have learned something new. It makes me feel active, productive, and helpful… not to mention involved in the printing process, which was one of the things I didn’t have a hand in at all before now.
Now that I’ve pretty much caught up the press on the backlog of print versions that needed typesetting, it’ll be back to the grindstone with proofreading and booking up blog tours. The 3rd Anniversary Blog Tour has been a HUGE success, which also makes me proud, since coordinating it with 18 authors and nearly two dozen websites was time consuming to say the least. Time consuming, but SO rewarding. I can’t describe how good it feels to see a blog tour that big come together without any big hitches. All the contributing authors got their posts in on time, there were only small formatting issues once the posts went live, and all the blog hosts were excellent to work with, including the new ones SMP had never visited before. We introduced readers to new authors, had some amazing giveaways… it’s just been fantastic this year.
And in other news, S.L. and I are making a little progress on our serial fiction, Overture, which is Season 1 of our Immortal Symphony serial. It’s a joy to be writing Dorian Gray in an Urban Fantasy version of current day, and I really hope everyone loves the series. S.L. and I are currently writing episode 3 out of 6. Can’t wait to share these episodes with everyone! Pre-orders are now up for the season pass, which pays in advance so you get each episode as it releases each month. You also get extras with the season pass that you can’t get any other way, and you get the complete e-book version of the season once the season concludes after the sixth episode. Definitely worth checking out, and you can read a sexy excerpt by clicking the picture below. ;D
Have you learned a new skill recently? If so, what have you learned? Is it busywork or does it make you feel triumphant when you complete the task?
Happy New Year, everyone! It’s 2013, and I hope everyone has a great year (and that anyone with a hangover recovers quickly ^_-).
New Years Resolutions
- Get to Bed by Midnight — I just don’t get enough sleep a lot of nights because I’m working on more Storm Moon Press e-mails and such. Time to take charge and get some sleep right along with S.L. Armstrong. ^_^
- Blog at Least Twice a Month — Because, as you can see, I haven’t posted since the beginning of November, and that’s just… completely unacceptable. I’m being conservative just saying twice a month, as I really should blog twice a week. Baby steps. I don’t want to be the ‘abusive boyfriend’ blogger who makes promises to change, and then never does. O_o;
- Go Out to Three Movies — Seems silly, but I haven’t been out to see a movie in theatres for nearly two years now. It would be great to just take a bit of time for myself and enjoy a film. This is, of course, dependent on there actually being films that I’d like to see in theatres, but… it’s a goal. XD
- 24 Massage CEUs — Since my license needs to be renewed this upcoming year, I’m gonna make sure I finish all my continuing education units before August. 12 of those 24 units have to be done in a classroom, too, so I’ll be researching where I can go and what I can do on a budget. ^_^
- Write 200,000 Words Minimum — Gotta keep writing! With Storm Moon Press getting busier, it’s really easy to just concentrate on that rather than write, but I’ll need to strike a balance. The whole point of SMP was to put out my work, so that needs to happen! (Plus, I’m really looking forward to writing the Immortal Symphony serial as well as finishing Lessons in Cowboy, a great contemporary western S.L. started ages ago!)
There you have it! My resolutions. I really must stick to them, too. Writing, blogging, massage, sleep, and a little personal time. All those things are important, and I think the goals are completely attainable.