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Late last week I submitted my latest novel, The Companion, to Toby Johnson at Lethe Press. He’d said earlier this year that he wanted to see the full when it was ready, so off it went. I can attend GayRomLit in Atlanta next week with my desk clear (figuratively speaking only!)

Jim Frey, whose workshops I’ve attended for several years, is adamant about having a clear premise for a novel. I’m a believer. Somehow, having a one-sentence cause and effect statement describing the story keeps me on track while I’m writing. It’s my litmus test as to whether a scene is superfluous or relevant to the story: does it support the premise? If yes, then it belongs. If no, then I need to cut it out.

For The Companion, which is a metaphysical mystery/romance (how’s that for an obscure niche?! It seems to be the one I’m wired to occupy) …

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Hi, folks. Joe Stalwart here. I’m a PI, a well-motivated character who overcomes obstacles in pursuit of a goal. My old buddy Lloyd Meeker asked me to come by and talk about writing conflict because he’s sulking and doesn’t want to deal with it.

Nah, that’s not really fair. The truth is he doesn’t mind conflict as long as it’s an authentic part of the story. It’s when it just gets manufactured for its own sake and shoved into a story that he gets pissed off.

But I’d better start at the beginning. Like I said, I’m a well-motivated character overcoming obstacles in pursuit of the goal. That’s the essence of a story, and I make a great protagonist, even if I do say so myself.

It used to be enough that one of my stories would start when a gorgeous dame walked into my dingy office while a solo …

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Besides doing a monthly review at Jessewave, I’m also doing one a month for Out in Print. My most recent, for Jack Fritscher’s Some Dance to Remember, is up today here.
It’s a novel about post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS San Francisco. It’s not a particularly well-written book, but it carries an intense emotional wallop — a turbulent, personal story set in the decade when gay culture exploded out of the closet and began to invent itself in the open. That evolution was not always tidy, or even beautiful, but always powerful.

My author friend Rick Reed tagged me as the next author to post in a series in which each of us shares answers to a a set of questions about our current writing project. So here are mine… hope you find the ideas intriguing!

What is the working title of your book?

The Companion

 

What genre does your book fall under?

I wish I knew. It’s a metaphysical gay mystery about death and love. What shelf does that belong on? New Age? Romance? Mystery? I have no idea. Here’s the story idea—you decide:

Shepherd Bucknam inherited more money than he’ll ever spend, so he doesn’t need a job. He’s handsome, smart, educated and polished. He’s also a sex worker. He takes his profession seriously, as a kind of mystical performing art, coaching repressed men into a more profound experience of their sexual selves. Violence terrifies him, and he’s haunted …

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Happy new 26,000 year cycle, everyone!

And in case you haven’t noticed, the world didn’t come to an end yesterday! The Mayan calendar never said this would be the end of the world. It said this would be the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

The solstice is my big holiday during this season, and this year it was an especially powerful one for me. I can’t remember the last time I moved into the new year feeling so enthusiastic.

I feel the new year’s promise pushing to be realized, in spite of the violence and madness around us, the avarice and aggression — the venal arrogance that seems rampant. I say there’s something else, something beautiful, on the move as well, and while these may be unstable times, they can also be creative times.

Ultimately, I believe we are responsible for our own behavior, and that …

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Found this stone art depiction of Kokopelli, and will add it to my list of post graphics. I love the power of it — the music, the joyful dancing, the unabashed creativity.

And a warm welcome to my new blog and website to you! Please take a look around, enjoy the free reads, and the updates that will come once or twice a week.

I’m just in transition headed back to Florida with a stop next week in Seattle for Story Masters, a writers’ workshop put on by Christopher Vogler, Jay Bell and Donald Maass. I haven’t heard any of them present in person before, so I’m really looking forward to it.