Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
How many of you remember Chapter Books? I devoured those as a child. According to Wikipedia, Chapter Books are story books intended for the 7-10 year old range. They are more complex than picture books for beginning readers, yet are short enough for children without the attention span to finish books that are longer and more complicated.
I adored Chapter Books when I was little, but now that I’m an adult, and a published writer in my own right, I wondered how I could incorporate something I loved into what I do. So, I have created a story…in Chapters…to be loaded on my blog each week. This is a free read, work-in-progress story that will take you from the beginning, through a journey of discovery of life, love and acceptance.
This is the story of Cayce Harper, from his struggle into adolescence, the angst in learning he is gay, to the good—and bad relationships and choices he’s made. This is entirely fictional and is ultimately a love story. It will take you on a hard road to a happily ever after that will make laugh, cry and get angry.
Enjoy the journey…
Cayce ducked his head and raised his arms, trying to protect his face. He didn’t have time to worry why his best friend Megan was yelling his name. Not with Dane Flanders trying to pulverize him.
“You are such a wuss.”
Cayce didn’t argue. He was. Dane had been picking on him since they both started school. Why, Cayce didn’t know, but he was used to it by now. The bigger boy had always had it in for Cayce.
“Dane! Leave him alone!”
Megan. Why was she here? Cayce’s humiliation doubled at her defense of him. It was bad enough he was so much smaller than Dane that he couldn’t defend himself, but to have Megan, who was bigger than him too, stick up for him? He would never be able to show his face in school again.
“Go away little girl.”
Yea, Megan. Go away. Cayce didn’t need a girl showing him up, not that he was doing very well as Dane slammed his fist into Cayce’s head and knocked him to the ground—again. He could taste the coppery blood in his mouth from the first blow. Could feel his eye swelling. God, his mom was going to kill him! He’d already been grounded for fighting. Not that this could be called a fight. More like a beating. But there was no convincing his mother that he hadn’t instigated it. Cayce had a smart mouth, so his mom just assumed he asked for the bruises he sported nearly every day.
“Dane! I told you to leave him alone. Mrs. Penski is on her way!”
Oh, that was just fucking great! Mrs. Penski, the Assistant Principal and the second bane of Cayce’s existence. A woman that agreed entirely with his mother. He shook his head, trying to disperse the ringing in his ears. He heard Dane’s running steps, along with his two cronies, making a hasty retreat. He felt Megan’s cool hands on his arm, trying to help him up. “Stop. Leave me alone Meg.” His voice rasped and he jerked his arm out of her grip.
“Come on Cayce; let me at least help you up.”
“I don’t need your help.” Cayce looked up at Megan in time to see the hurt on her face. Damn it!! He didn’t mean to hurt her, but this was embarrassing. And, personally, Cayce would just as soon get the hell out of there before Mrs. Penski showed up. He shoved his way to his feet, ignoring his backpack that Dane had emptied all over the concrete walkway for the moment. His legs were wobbly and his head was pounding. He felt sick to his stomach and could feel the bruises on his side beginning to throb where Lance Chambers had kicked him. He kinda hoped he didn’t have any broken ribs. He didn’t want to listen to his mother gripe at having to take him to the hospital. She’d already warned him to knock it off the last time. And he sure as hell did not want to come under his father’s notice. No way, no how!
“Are you going to be ok?” Cayce cringed at Megan’s small voice. He ignored the question and slowly started to gather his school papers and text books and stuffing them back into his backpack.
“Just watch out for Mrs. Penski.” He growled at her.
“She’s not coming Cayce. I lied to get Dane to leave you alone.”
Cayce sighed in relief and then gave Megan a small smile. “Thanks Meg.” He didn’t mind that kind of help. She just nodded at him and then knelt to pick up a few pencils and a ruler that had skidded over by the boy’s bathroom door. She handed him what she’d gathered and then fell in step with him when he turned to make his way off the school grounds. He limped, his hip, where Lance had also kicked him throbbing with his head. Maybe he could sneak in without his mother noticing.
“I have my foundation with me.”
Cayce nodded silently to Megan’s whispered words. He’d borrowed her makeup plenty of times over the last two years to cover the evidence of Dane’s bullying. He’d hoped, at thirteen and in junior high that Dane would find other things to occupy his time, but apparently, beating up on Cayce was Dane’s favorite thing to do. Megan remained silent by his side as they headed across the football field towards the woods that separated the school from their neighborhood. They would stop in the middle so Cayce could use Megan’s makeup to hide the bruises he knew peppered his face. It wouldn’t conceal the puffiness of his black eye, but maybe his mother wouldn’t notice. She wasn’t really that observant and tonight was her ladies poker night, so he probably wouldn’t see her at all. He counted himself lucky that Dane’s fist had missed splitting his lip this time.
Cayce stopped by their favorite tree, a weeping willow that had to be twenty or thirty years old. It was tall, thick and Cayce and Megan had made a hideaway under the sweeping branches almost seven years ago. It was their place. Cayce had found it first, hiding from Dane. He’d brought Megan here after they had fought over a soccer ball at the park and Megan pinned him to the ground laughing. They had become fast friends, best friends and Cayce loved Megan like a sister. Now, years later, they had added touches that reflected each of them. Megan’s favorite books, Cayce’s flair for multicolored rugs, all hidden under a water proof tarp to protect them.
Cayce pushed aside the branches, making his way to the center, Megan glancing around and then following him closely. They pulled the tarp off the ground together, hooking it to the nails that were buried in the tree trunk and tying it to some of the more sturdy branches. While Cayce finished securing the tarp, Megan started unfolding the rugs and making sure her precious book collection was dry and safe. Once she had things situated, she beckoned to Cayce.
“Come on. Let’s get you prettied up.”
Cayce would have rolled his eyes if his face didn’t hurt so badly. Megan was always calling him pretty. Even accused him of being prettier than most girls she knew. Cayce didn’t think so. He thought Megan was beautiful. She had light blond curly hair that was thick and silky and fell past her shoulders. She had huge blue eyes with long sandy colored eyelashes, and a pixie face that any guy should like. She had a bubbly personality with a shy streak that came out when she was complimented. Cayce was kind of surprised Megan didn’t have a boyfriend already.
He limped his way to her and slowly lowered himself to the rugs she’d laid out. He winced as he crossed his legs and scooted closer to her.
“Aww, he ripped your shirt.” Cayce could hear the disgust in her tone and looked down to see a large hole at the bottom of his t-shirt. He would have shrugged, not caring, except the shirt was one Megan had given him on his birthday a couple of months ago.
“Sorry Meg.” He mumbled. Dane was always ruining everything. Cayce had gone through a lot more clothes then most boys his age did. Dane ripping, stretching, staining with food or blood, burn holes. Another thing Cayce's mother complained about.
“It’s ok Cayce. I’m just glad you aren’t hurt too bad.”
Cayce didn’t say anything as Megan pulled her foundation from her bag and began to softly apply it.
“At least he didn’t make you bleed this time.”
Cayce gave a snort to that observation and held up his hands, palm side up for Megan to see. Cuts across both oozed blood.
Cayce didn’t want to hear the sadness in her voice. He just leaned away and pulled an old towel from the crate that sat against the trunk of the tree. He wiped his hands, ignoring the stinging, and then tossed the towel back into the crate. He rummaged around and pulled out a tube of antibiotic ointment. Slowly, over time, both Cayce and Megan had added to what they called the “Dane-aid kit”. Antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, band-aids, ace bandages, gauze, tape, antiseptic wipes, iodine and a multitude of other things. Even a bottle of Pepto-Bismol for when Dane hurt Cayce enough to make his insides churn with pain.
Megan took the tube of ointment from him and set it aside. She finished with his face, and then searched for a couple of antiseptic wipes, before adding ointment to the cuts. They were in an awkward place, so she didn’t bother putting band-aids on him.
“When is he ever going to stop?”
Cayce could hear the despair in Megan’s voice. He shrugged. “I don’t think he’s going to quit until we graduate, or he kills me.” He ignored Megan’s gasp. Dane had hurt Cayce enough to go to the hospital on several occasions. Cayce didn’t doubt that Dane could kill him. Why he would want to he still didn’t know, but knowing wouldn’t change anything anyway. Megan didn’t say a word and Cayce looked up to see tears in her eyes. He sighed and leaned forward enough to gather her into his arms. He hugged her tight. “Thanks Meggie.” He whispered. Megan carefully hugged him back and then extracted herself from his embrace. She dug in her bag and pulled a bottle of aspirin out. She shook out three, handed them to him and grabbed a bottle of water from their stash next to the crate.
“I just wish he’d leave you alone Cayce. You don’t deserve what he’s doing to you. I mean, what the hell did you ever do to him? I wish you hadn’t made me swear not to tell anyone.”
Cayce shrugged tiredly. He had no answer for her. He took the aspirin and then lay out on the rugs, staring at the swaying branches above his head. Megan made herself comfortable, resting her head on his chest, entwining their fingers together, but being careful of the cuts on his palm. They remained silent listening to the crickets and cicadas. There had never been any need for them to fill up space talking.
Despite Megan’s comment, she was well aware why Cayce had her swear not to tell anyone about the bullying. Cayce’s father. The man was ex-military, high tempered and as macho as they came. He was also the local Sheriff. Cayce had been a sore disappointment to the man since his birth. Cayce was always extremely glad when his father went out of town because of the arguments between his parents. Arguments that were always about him. Though his dad had never laid a hand on his mother, Cayce had felt his temper plenty of times. The more he stayed out of Jordon Harper’s spotlight, the better.
The silence wore on and Cayce’s eyes drooped. He even thought he might have dozed for a while. When he became aware of his surroundings, it was just starting to get dark, the lowering sun painting the sky in vibrant colors.
“Come on Meg, I need to get you home.”
Megan hauled herself up, stretching and giving a groan from the stiffness of the hard ground. Cayce sucked in a breath as he eased himself to a standing position, his entire body crying out in agony. He would have to take some more painkillers when he got home.
“How’s my makeup?”
Megan smiled, which was his intention. Anything to get the look of worry off her face.
“You are gorgeous as always Cayce.”
Cayce snorted and shook his head at her. He turned to grab his backpack and slowly made his way under the branches until he could see past the outer edge of them. He glanced everywhere to make sure they were not observed and then led Megan on towards their homes. Megan’s house was first, and then two doors down was Cayce’s house. He groaned when he saw his mother’s car in the drive. She shouldn’t be home.
“Are you going to get in trouble?” The worry in Megan’s voice was back.
“Probably.” Was all Cayce could answer. Unless he could sneak in fast enough to get to his room. That he was getting home before dark was a plus. Then his mother wouldn’t have reason to reprimand him.
“I’ll see you at school tomorrow.”
Megan tsked. “Should you be coming to school tomorrow?”
“I have to Meg or mom will know something’s up. You know that.”
Megan looked sadly at him. “Ok, I’ll see you.” She gave him a hug and then trotted across her front lawn, disappearing behind her front door.
Cayce turned towards his own house and took a deep, steadying breath.
Posted by CR Guiliano at 8:12 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I belong to one of those dating sites, like Match.com, but not. I don’t take it seriously, but actually have had a couple of dates through it. Nothing that panned out, but that’s an entirely different story.
As most know, I write gay erotic romance and am an advocate for the gay community. So, that being said, I will not date a man who thinks homosexuality is wrong. He would not be worth my time, regardless of what I write.
Now, here’s the interesting thing. I have been keeping track of all the “matches” I’m emailed and the men who visit my profile. There is a section where you can answer nearly 800 questions, and many of those questions consist of sexual situations. Examples:
Have you ever had a same-sex encounter?
What would you think of two women fondling each other at a bar?
Would you date someone who has slept with someone of the same sex?
What would you do if you saw a same-sex couple kissing in the park?
All of these questions come with multiple-choice, premade answers. But, I’ll give you the answer that annoys me the most. And is the HIGHEST picked answer:
Girl on girl is ok, but guy on guy is wrong.
How freaking hypocritical is that!! How can an adult, supposedly educated man believe its ok for two women to have a sexual relationship, but not two men? Where does an answer like that come from? Does it go back to the number one fantasy men have of being with two girls? Does it come from the deep seated lessons in what is acceptable as masculine? Is it the result of society’s reluctance to include two men being intimate in shows/movies/commercials?
Women fought for equal rights for a lot of years, but in the concept of sexual innuendo and media, they have surpassed men…at least in straight men’s point of view. “Yea, sure, it’s ok with us if two girls get it on. Yehaw, let us watch!” Mention two men doing the same? The room clears and crickets can be heard. Well….and my cheers of “Bring it on!!” J
Is it right for me to think that straight men need a lesson in ‘live and let live’? How does it affect them anyway? They are straight. It’s not as if some gay guy is going to come along, touch them and suddenly, OMG, I need to start screwing guys!! And what about the words “sexual preference”? Being gay is not a preference, not a choice—it’s who that person is, the gender they are attracted to.
Ugh, I digress.
My point being, as a single woman who would like to meet a nice man to spend time with, maybe even fall in love with, why can’t straight men be just a bit more open minded and understand that there are all kinds of relationships and none are wrong? Homosexuality is not a threat! Get over it!
Posted by CR Guiliano at 10:49 AM
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Sub Zero Launch and a Bit of Galactic History
So, trolling through the
’s library, I came across a copy of Feldson’s A Brief History of Human Expansion (Tardis and Wells, 2935) Thought I’d share a little with you… Galactic University
An excerpt from Chapter 11 - Post-Andalusian Socio-economic Systems:
“…could only be described as a plutocracy in its waning days. While several factors, including over-expansion and the increasing isolation and extreme lifestyle choices of the ruling elite have been cited in an attempt to explain the fall of the Andalusian Corporation as the galaxy’s largest governmental body, the courage of a small band of planets in the Eridani Sector, the center of the eventual rebellion, should not be dismissed.
The Eridani Rebellion, called in ESTO territories simply “The Revolution,” resulted in several splinter groups joining the fight against the aging corporate empire, including the Interstellar
Hanseatic League and the Adanai Collective. But ESTO, the Eradani Sector Treaty Alliance, remains to this day the largest of those splinter groups, far-flung and cultural versatile, though uniquely suspicious of anything smacking of Empire…”
This post revolution universe is where Aren Dalsgaard, an officer of the Revolution, is reawakened. Hard for a freedom fighter to see what’s become of fighting the good fight. Come join him as he rejoins the universe and fights to make sense of it all in –
M/M Science Fiction Mystery
An AmberPax Forbidden Liaisons story
Major Aren Dalsgaard's newest assignment is to investigate a series of murders on the frigid planet, Drass, where relations between the Treaty settlers and the natives have taken a nasty turn. A linguist and trained xenologist, Major Dalsgaard should be the ideal Special Investigations officer for the assignment. So what's the problem? Drass is where he died, over a hundred and twenty years ago.
Sent by his family to the chigyel city, Nyachung finds himself confronted with a murder charge, racial prejudice, and a man who claims to be a hero from his grandmother’s generation. The man could be crazy or he could be lying. But the sincerity in those spring-green eyes disturbs Nyachung more than anything else he encounters in the foreigners’ city.
Thuds and muffled screams came from the lab up ahead, only serving to underscore the sergeant’s anxiety. Aren bulled through the door and skidded to a stop, speechless in shock. Nyachung lay on his back on the gurney, stripped to the waist, arms stretched out to either side and strapped down to extensions. The staff had shoved something soft between his teeth, either to keep him from breaking them or to keep him from screaming too loud, and they had electro-pulse leads attached to his forearms, directly over the venom sacs and spur pads. The shocks from the hookup came in pairs, the first forcibly extending his arm spurs and the second zapping the sac in an attempt to force the venom out.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Aren bellowed.
The tech stared at him, nonplussed. “Getting your venom sample, sir.”
“By torturing him?”
“It’s standard operating procedure, sir.”
“Since when is physical abuse standard procedure in any branch of the service?”
Sergeant Wickstrom gave him a little nudge. “Sir, use of force in the obtaining of information or cooperation is up to the discretion of the facility commander. It’s in the manuals.”
“In the—you must be joking.”
“Afraid not, sir.”
Aren rubbed both hands over his face. “God. Barbaric century.” Then he stalked over to the tech. “Unhook him, please. Not only is this inefficient, it’s inhumane. Do you have any idea, Corporal, how sensitive those venom sacs are?”
The hapless Corporal gulped a breath. “I…don’t know, sir.”
“Imagine hooking one of those damn things up to your testicles and then shoving another up your urethra. That should give you some idea.”
The poor tech had turned green. Aren patted his shoulder, not wanting the boy to pass out. “Just turn it off. Unhook him. There’s a better way to do this. Several, actually. You could have just asked him for a sample, but now that he’s a shuddering mess, he’ll need some help.”
While the tech unhooked the leads, Aren went around the gurney undoing straps.
“Sir, you know he’s a murder suspect, right?”
“Oh, yes. Terribly dangerous, I’m sure. Maybe you should stand back. Safety first.” Aren perched hipshot on the edge of the gurney and gathered Nyachung into his arms as he switched to dangpo. “Are you with me, little one?”
“Why are they doing this?” Nyachung tangled both fists in the front of Aren’s jacket, shaking uncontrollably.
“Sh, sh, they want some of your venom. To compare it to the venom in the woman you found. If it’s not your venom, then you didn’t kill her.”
A hoarse sound, more sob than laugh came from the little tale-singer. “They could have said so.”
“Yes, they should have.” Aren held up a collection tube. “Can you do it on your own?”
Nyachung held out one shaking arm, well away from Aren. He curled his fingers, forearm muscles contracting. “I can’t,” he gasped out.
Gently, Aren placed his hand under Nyachung’s elbow. “Will you let me help you? I know we’re strangers and this is in front of others, but it would be better than their way.”
Black eyes gazed up at him, wet with unshed tears of pain. “All right. Do you… have you done this?”
“I have.” Aren let his thumb massage the tense forearm muscles a moment, Then he reached around, encircling Nyachung with his arms, partially hiding him from prying eyes. He pressed gently on the pad with his thumb, pushing the arm spur out as one would a cat’s claw. Keeping the pressure constant and the collection tube held over the spur in two fingers, he turned his attention to the venom sac. Besides the obvious places, this was the most sensitive spot on a dangpo male’s body.
He caressed the tender, abused skin, barely holding back the urge to curl forward and kiss the spot where the electro-pulse had been. Nyachung made a sweet, whimpering sound that shot straight to his balls and Aren hoped he was holding the stone-faced expression he was trying for. He began to massage the sac, his thumb describing slow, gentle circles. Nyachung twitched in his arms.
“Easy, little one, easy. As soon as you’re able.”
With a soft cry, Nyachung hid his face against Aren’s chest, his body shuddering with pain as he released his venom. His poor sacs would most likely be tender for days but he had managed enough to fill the tube.
“There. Not so terrible, was it?”
The young man shook his head, still clinging to the front of Aren’s jacket.
“Here. Run this as a priority.” Aren held out the collection tube for the tech to take.
The lab tech took it gingerly, as if it might burn him. “Are you, ah, escorting the prisoner back to his cell, Major?”
No, I’m going to hold him until he stops shaking like he’s coming apart. “He needs to be in medical, Corporal, not a cell. Still a chance he might go into shock.”
Crisis averted and prisoner carted off on a stretcher to medical, Aren leaned against the corridor wall, the bridge of his nose pressed between thumb and forefinger.
“That was a brave thing to do, sir,” Sergeant Wickstrom offered.
“Wasn’t being critical, Major. It was just courage, plain and simple, doing what you know is right.”
He lifted his head to meet her steady gaze. “That almost sounded like admiration, Sergeant.”
“Yes, sir. But don’t let it go to your head.”
“Never, Sergeant. Heaven forbid.”
Posted by CR Guiliano at 6:59 AM
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Misconception: A mistaken notion
All growing up I was either reading or writing. Of course, those early stories never saw the light of day and I couldn’t tell you what happened to them, or even what they were about, though I suspect they had knights, damsels and unicorns and dragons. Then life got in the way of both. Until circumstances changed and I can now go back to that which I love the most. Needless to say, I always wanted to be a writer—an author—to know my name was on books that graced people’s bookshelves.
But as I get more and more involved in the industry, I’m finding that all is not as it seems. I always thought that authors were above reproach, that they were true to their stories, that they were the epitome of professionalism. And in most cases I’m right. But then there are the reviewers. People that didn’t even enter my mind when I began this journey to be a published writer.
I don’t even know how to express my emotions on the public viciousness I have seen. And words are my forte. I think the confusion I feel is what bothers me the most. Especially as many of my fellow authors and friends post on Goodreads and I've never had a problem there. Who do I believe? Who has the right to attack another? Is it justified? And what about the retaliation? And the most disturbing question—why?
I’ve been lucky, I guess. I’ve not been the target of the reviewers who like to trash authors on their list. And I find it infinitely sad that there is such a list. I never thought there was anything wrong in critiquing another’s work, if it is constructive criticism and indicated as an opinion and done with kindness. After all, to read a book invites so many interpretations, that they are nearly as individualized as the human beings reading them.
But to verbally rape a story that you may or may not have even read? To tear it down, shred it beyond recognition? To miss the point of the story so completely that what you say about it makes no sense? I don’t understand this. I find no justification in such actions other than to be vile and arrogant and vindictive.
And the outcry that has come of this. To publicly give information that can be detrimental to those that attacked in the first place? So? Let us all bow down to that low level and retaliate with even more viciousness and revenge? This is all so much more than I anticipated. It’s downright scary!
If I continue to write in the genre I enjoy, will I someday become a target to a stranger that hasn’t read the book or simply doesn’t prefer that genre? And again, I ask why? Why even comment on a book you have likely not read because you “don’t like that sort of thing”, just to abrogate the author who is trying to make a living and ruin the enjoyment they have for their art?
I don’t want to that to happen to me. No one does and my heart bleeds for those that have had to endure such hate. But, I will also say that retaliation and revenge are not the answer. If ever this happens to me, I will cry, rant, vent, scream, maybe even contemplate giving up, but I will not acknowledge what they have done to me. Will not show how much they have hurt me because then I have given them exactly what they were aiming for.
I don’t like the confusion all of this has instilled in me. Building confidence as an author is hard enough without reading article after article about such nonsense. I don’t like the fear it has caused. Writing means stepping up and taking a risk. A risk that is hard enough without all the fear.
I will end this with one more lesson I have learned that is not a misconception and that I have not misunderstood. The genre I write in is a community, a family and we stick up for our own. I would quite happily defend any of my fellow authors and friends.
To the point of creating an organization that posts personal information that is now forever on the web? No. But, with words that I love, I would defend them nonetheless. Authorship is an occupation, just as any other. A career for many and hopefully mine as well some day. So let us create and leave the reading to those that appreciate our stories.
Posted by CR Guiliano at 2:14 PM