Tag Archives: SSBB

Unorthodox Offerings

It’s been over a year since I put anything out with Shousetsu Bang*Bang. I would have given the current issue, Hot for Teacher, a miss as well, as teacher-student has long been one of those themes I just can’t get into. Except. Oh, except. A friend decided to write something for it, her first submission (check it out–“The Makeover, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Comic-Con”), and wanted a writing buddy. I’m not sure which one of us suggested detectives, but that was all it took for my muse to run amok. My story is “Incognito” and it’s a little unorthodox.

I’ve been looking for an excuse to do a story in which the sex scenes are viewed by a third party over some sort of surveillance system. WHY I wanted to do this is unclear, as writing sex scenes is still something that gives me hives. I generally try to avoid thinking about the process of writing them, even while actively engaged in said process. (I-I am getting better, I think?) Still, this was the perfect opportunity. I happen to like the blend of horribly uncomfortable and hot that I think I achieved with the scenes. This is maybe not the ideal feeling combination to evoke with one’s erotica, but there you have it.

I’ve also been looking for an excuse to cast a woman as the main character and narrator in a story for SSBB. (Obviously, not for one of the female special issues, because that would be easy. And sensible.) This required the above-mentioned methods for depicting sex scenes, so I figured this would be my one chance to do both. In my last story for them, ApocalyptiCon, the female main character seemed to go over well and I certainly enjoyed her. I wanted to see just how far I could take a female lead in gay romance. Pretty far, as it turns out.

As far as the plot of the story goes, I blame romance publishers. I’m always poking around in listings of publishers, largely in search of interesting anthologies to submit to or to steal theme ideas from. So I’ve read submission guidelines from a lot of publishers. Romance publishers have a…fondness for beefcake. Which, okay, fine, who doesn’t? But some of them state that they want to see women of many body types, but only beefcake for their men. I will point no fingers and name no names. This is not really out of fear of offending possible publishing venues, though I suppose that is a good reason. It’s just that I don’t need to point out any one publisher when so many seem to subscribe to this policy.

The idea is that women of varied body types are a) easier to identify with and b) desirable in spite of or because of looking like something other than models and beauty queens. Because all of us women reading romance want to be told that what we look like is good, is desirable, is worthy of being pursued by gorgeous men. But when it comes to men, the story goes, every woman wants the captain of the football team and his washboard abs. Cover art illustrates this nicely. Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome is alive and well. His endowments are as substantial as ever. Flaxen-haired, size 0 princesses are all so last century, but Prince Charming seems to be stuck. Maybe we’re afraid he won’t fit in his shining armor if we let him put on some weight or stand a little less tall.

I take issue with this.

I would just like to go on the record saying, as a woman with interest in both attractive people and creative fiction, that this is boring. I am only too happy to see men who are more than gym poster boys. I’m not talking about treating “unconventional” bodies as exotic, weird, and sexy only for being deviant. I’m talking about honoring the erotic potential of all sorts of bodies. I’m talking about recognizing how context and emotion can make the “plain” into the “perfect for me.”

So in the spirit of putting my pen where my mouth is, I made one of my boys not at all pretty or beefcake-y. I made him actively engaged in challenging conventions of appearance. I wrote about beauty and ugliness and desire and identity. I threw in some class and wealth distinctions for added discontent. Then I put it all into a setting where science lets parents construct perfect children if they have the money. I certainly had fun with the story and I think others will, even if I am suffering from a shortage of beefcake.

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Happy 25th Issue, SSBB!

The 25th issue of Shousetsu Bang*Bang is out. The theme was 25 Rooms and I chose a modular housing unit. This factors into the story only a bit, I’m afraid, but I was pleased that I could at least work it in some, as this was the story that I swore I would go off-theme to write if I had to.

The story is ApocalyptiCon, or It’s Not The End of The World, and I really love how it turned out. Admittedly, I originally envisioned a funny convention romp and what I got instead is a by turns snarky and hopeful convention romp. I’m learning that I cannot write comedy plots. I think I don’t believe in funny things happening; I only believe in funny responses to unfunny things.

For the previous issue, historical stories, I had planned to do something about the Japanese internment during WWII, but my mind rebelled at the no-fantasy rule for the issue and I just never quite came up with anything. But I had been doing research in preparation for that since the beginning of the year. Some of the outrage brought up by that definitely leaked into this story. A mishmash of current immigration arguments did as well. I will be the first to admit that I am not particularly well-informed on the political front, but there are, I believe, some things that a person should just know are not right. Some things are born only out of the ugly parts of humanity. Some things must not be acceptable ever. /soapbox

But in there with the anger is also a lot of love for pop culture conventions and the good memories I have from them. I’ve been attending Anime Expo for seven years (though not this year, which makes me cry) and went to San Diego Comic-Con for the first time last year. I love fandom and I love being in a room full of people just fanning all over the place. I love the undignified passion and the weirdness and the disregard for normal behavior. I love to see a hall full to the point of bursting with people who care THAT MUCH about, let us remember, FICTION. Fake stuff. Lies. Stories. I think convention attendance should be mandatory for all professional tellers of stories. Because until you understand conventions, I don’t think you really understand your audience. Not, at least, the people who will be dedicated enough to make your career for you out of their dedication. But I digress.

ApoC came from all this. I am, as I said, really happy with it. I hope everyone enjoys it.

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Shabby Crap

It’s hard to update a blog that doesn’t exist. Like, oh, say, my Goodreads.com blog, which has disappeared for reasons unknown. I anticipate an exciting discussion with the people in power over there when they get my message. I doubt my security has been compromised, as all other aspects of my account remain unaltered and I have access to it. And my little book review blog could hardly have generated anything that could be deemed a violation of any TOS.

So that leaves a bug, which would be a good thing if it didn’t make me think that all my entries might be lost. Which makes me really quite sad. I know I don’t maintain blogs all that well, I know Tiny Charms wasn’t anything spectacular, but I had grown rather accustomed to it. The prospect of six months of work disappearing does not fill me with joy.

In other news, I am trying to decide my plans for the next couple months. The anthologies due in the middle of May (this weekend, I will remind you) are just not going to happen, which is unfortunate. But now I’m looking to June and July in the hopes that I can get the drop on some of the projects coming up then.

It is also my sincere hope that I can finish writing the remaining HoC episodes by the end of May. I am determined to write the last two episodes and edit them together, rather than the usual strategy of completing and posting one before moving on to the next. I have no margin for error at this point and this is the ending. If I commit to something in the penultimate episode, then decide I want to do something different to get the ending this story needs, I won’t have that option any longer. So. Two and a half weeks of intensive work should bring me to the end of this vast project.

Finally, the prompt for the June/July issue of Shousetsu Bang*Bang has been released and I am chomping at the bit to get started on it. I am working an existing idea into the prompt, which will be easy enough, though I had every intention of just going off theme if necessary to write this story. Perhaps once I finish writing HoC and have time to really get started on this, I will post some teaser material. Like the title. Which makes me smile every time I think of it. It’s a winner. I kind of wish I could spend the rest of my life writing stories that can go with this title, because I find it just that charming.

I’ll be thinking of it and consoling myself while I wait to find out where the heck Tiny Charms went.

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And it’s off

Everything that could go wrong did, which I almost take comfort in. I wouldn’t trust it if it went well. My internet connection kept crapping out on me when I tried to attach the photograph of the bread that goes with the story. It took about an hour to get it sent off. Finishing the edits was grueling as well. I had four sex scene fragments that I needed to reshape line by line, which took me all day. Then I had to go through the rest of the story with an eye for where the changes made to those scenes contradicted the rest, either in word or in spirit. It was awful.

I find sending these stories out only marginally less terrorizing than sending things out to regular publishers. On the one hand, SSBB doesn’t really reject anything, unless it needs too much proofing or is too short, or so they say. Which, okay, the proofing thing is something I’m pretty paranoid about, as the stupidest things get past me. But on the other hand, everyone at SSBB is just doing this because they think it’s cool; no one’s paying them to put up with me if I mess up. So I’m less likely to be refused outright, but I’m more likely to be shamed beyond the telling of it.

I love my job?

But in truth, I had a lot of fun with this story. It was something that had been tickling me for a while and it felt good to get it on the page. And actually, the line-by-line edits were a) good practice and b) extremely satisfying when I got them right. My whole promise to practice writing sex scenes to get over this inhibition of mine (back in November) went over like a lead balloon. Despite that, I found it easier to write them this time, just in terms of not staring at the blank page, paralyzed by the knowledge that I have to write sex now. It was also helpful to stop thinking of it in terms of the whole and just look at it one line at a time and focus on rhythm. I can handle words. Erotica, less so. But I’m a work in progress.

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