Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gays in the Military

Hi everyone, Jaxx Steele here to give you my take on being gay in the military.  I will not divulge which branch I was in, but I will give you a small peek at what I experience. By no means is this blog meant to be a ‘military bashing’ experience. This is only a politically correct retelling of my personal experiences.
During my time ‘in’ I learned what all other soldiers learned: to tolerate horrible food, build my stamina, shoot a variety of cool guns and how to tune out people that yell in your face. I also learned to conceal my true nature and that was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
I went in knowing, of course, about the ‘don’t ask-don’t tell’ but being young and na├»ve I thought that if I did that I would be fine. I soon found out that that was not the case. If someone even accused you of being gay whether you were or not didn’t matter. You were ostracized by everyone. In front of the brass and the suits all was well, but down time was another story. 
I was not the only one on that side of the fence, but the heterosexuals out number us for sure. Even those who called themselves your friends would shun you fearful of being labeled the same and thus receiving the same treatment. I won’t go into detail on said treatment for fear that it could cause a psychotic like episode that would leave my left eye twitching for days. I will just say it was reminiscent of a few distasteful scenes in Full Metal Jacket.  
Time moved on and even the emotional scars healed. Although I eagerly scratched each day off my mental calendar, I would not have changed my years in the service. The experience made me stronger mentally and physically and the man I am today. Even though the repeal of the DADT is on the books, I believe it will take time to affect the folks on the ground level of things and change to occur among the masses. I hope it doesn’t, but…
Recently, I wrote a story about a gay couple in the military called Care Package (available at Silver Publishing). The counselors they make you see when you are released may say writing this story was somehow therapeutic, but I say it was pure fun. LOL

First Sergeant Dwayne Roman was asked to leave his life as a soldier. Reluctantly he did so and settled fitfully into civilian life. The law of the land and a military cover up separated him from the most important person in his life. After suffering three years with regret and loneliness, he had the chance to get back what an unjust law and self-serving people took from him. 
Jaxx Steele…has left the building!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Words of Wisdom from author J.P. Bowie

I guess because I’ve been writing m/m romantic fiction for some time now, I get asked by writers new to the genre how I got started, and where I get my ideas from. This article isn’t advice to fledging writers by any means—just maybe some helpful hints I have accrued over the years.
I started writing in this genre about five years ago. Until then I’d been writing gay romantic fiction without the erotic edge. Yes, my men kissed, caressed and fell in love, but the love making was, in a word, discreet. When I wrote My Vampire and I, I opened the bedroom door and let the guys go for the gold, and after reading  the words of one reviewer – “What a delightful surprise from J.P. Bowie” I figured I’d found my niche.
Elisa Rolle, our favorite Italian reviewer, also pointed out that although the story was about creatures of the night, there was a lot of humor in it, and very little angst, something I strive for in all my stories. Even in my darker tales, I have to inject some humor. Readers have to first love, or at least really like, the characters. They must want to cheer for them as the heroes’ mutual attraction grows and their lips meet for that first kiss. The readers must feel fundamentally involved in the men’s lives and want  them to succeed. If that doesn’t happen then the writer has failed in some way to convey the hopes and fears of the protagonists, and to make the reader care for them.
Writing m/m erotic romance isn’t just a case of stringing sex scenes together. Quite often, too much sex in a story can get a bit boring after a while. Here’s where the character building comes in. The men should be real flesh and blood characters, not just buffed and gorgeous with big dicks. On the other hand, all that combined with intelligence, compassion, a sense of worth—and please, a sense of humor—will earn you points from most readers!
Then there’s the plot. Even in a short story there should be more than just boy meets boy, boy beds boy, and they live happily ever after. Yes, HEA’s are pretty much called for by most m/m publishers, but getting there should involve some conversation, perhaps some conflict (rather than angst), indecision, maybe even betrayal, something to hold the readers’ interest other than the fact the lads are buffed and gorgeous with big you-know-whats. I like mystery and adventure stories so a lot of my books contain those elements; even my paranormal stories tend to lean toward a mystery to be solved or action sequences. Anything to get the readers’ attention, and not have them skipping pages.
If you’re a new author, or yet to be published, gird your loins for those first reviews. Every author has had a rotten egg thrown at him or her at one time or another. Once your work is out there it’s fair game for everyone who thinks he/she can do better. Some are good and constructive critiques, others are simply destructive. But hey, it goes with the territory, and I, who have had my fair share of rotten eggs, try to learn from even the worst review. 
Writing m/m erotic romance is above all else, fun. You get to invent these great characters, have them fall in love, have mind-blowing sex, chase villains on horseback or in cars or planes, have mind-blowing sex, face down bigotry, put the world to rights, have mind-blowing…Well, you get the idea. All you wannabe m/m writers out there – go for it, and have fun!

J.P. Bowie

Friday, September 2, 2011

How I started writing Gay Romance

Hi everyone, Jaxx Steele here again.

This time I'd like to share how I started writing gay romance. As a kid I was surrounded by readers, both parents, aunts, baby sitters... Anyway, one day I was at the baby sitter's after school and she put her book down to make me something to eat and I picked it up. The rest as they say is history. I was hook! I read everything she had on her shelf. She had plenty of Danielle Steel and Barbara Cartland, but when I came to the one lonely Bertrice Small book and a Thea Devine book, there was no going back.

That was when I was 14, by the time I was 17 I knew girls were not in my future so the stories lost some of their luster. I loved the idea of the romance and the sex in Ms. Small and Ms. Devine's books and I wondered if there was anything like that for gay men. At the time there was no internet and I doubted if there was anything I was looking for in the library so I decided to write my own.

Thus began my journey into the writing world. In college I took elective courses to improve my writing and asked my English and writing teachers as much as I could without giving away what I was really doing. And then, lady luck smiled upon me. I ran into a gay teacher! He wasn't out of course, but you know your own, you know? Anyway, I gave him one of my stories and he loved it! With someone other than myself liking my work I kept writing. The internet blew up a few years later and saw that there was plenty of gay romance to go around out there! Knowing that encouraged to me to write even more and search for a publisher.

I graduated and went into my career. I am still friends today with that teacher and I have never forgotten what he taught me. He gave me 3 rules about writing. I would like to share them with you:

1) Find your voice and stay true to it.

2) Keep improving your skill as a writer.

3) Learn all you can from other authors who have been there and done that!
I still use these rules today. My stories have touched many genres, but they have all been romances. Here are a few of my favorites:

Care Package (Silver Publishing)
First Sergeant Dwayne Roman was asked to leave his life as a soldier. Reluctantly he did so and settled fitfully into civilian life. The law of the land and a military cover up separated him from the most important person in his life. After suffering three years with regret and loneliness, he had the chance to get back what an unjust law and self-serving people took from him.
Papa Knows Best
Dominick 'Papa' Pappas was a handsome, young photography teacher at Indiana University given to impulsive behavior and an overwhelming passion for his craft. Professor Bradley Louis taught philosophy at the college and had the reputation of being the sternest and most unsocial of all the teachers on campus. When Papa first laid eyes on Professor Louis it was love at first sight. Professor Louis was handsome, intelligent and twenty years his senior. Papa approached him, but the professor turned away from his advances claiming they had nothing in common and belonged to two different generations. Because of that he didn't think they had a chance to survive as a couple. Can Papa convince him of otherwise or will Professor Louis' theory on May-November relationships prevail?
Right Side of the Tracks
Faced with the consequences of one careless night, Russell Drake left his lover, James, to marry a woman he barely knew. It certainly wasn't what he planned, but one look at his son's tiny face convinced him that he'd do whatever was necessary to make his child happy— even if it cost him his own happiness. But fate has something else in mind for him, and an unforeseen accident once again sets off a cascade of change. Three years later, Russell no longer has to settle and exist for his son's sake. He has the chance to rediscover the life he'd wanted with James?

Jaxx is out!