Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Brilliant Five-Year Old


My son, Graham, turned five in February.  A keen learner since infancy, he was definitely at an advantage since his older sister, Gillian, loved to teach him things.  She taught him the alphabet before he turned two. Even though his pronunciation was slightly delayed, and it was only this past year that he was able to speak in a way that everybody understood him, his other skills, such as counting, adding and subtracting were distinctly advanced.  At my first interview in late November with his junior kindergarden teacher, she couldn't say enough good things about him.  She was so impressed with his skills, his positive attitude and his behaviour.  We were slightly concerned about his pronunciation but we both felt his speech would refine itself over the course of the year, and it has.  He is such a bright little boy!

He learned to read this year.  By Christmas he was beginning to read single words, by February he was burning through the tiered readers that were sent home each day.  Greg and I were so impressed, because our daughter, who had no older sibling to compete with/mirror, progressed much more slowly at learning to read.  She is a wonderful reader now, but she would rather do some artwork or dance to a CD than read.

Graham read his first chapter book this past weekend.  I had been reading him some of Gillian's Junie B. Jones books, about a precocious and spirited kindergardner who gets into all sorts of fixes.  He enjoyed them, but when he picked out this latest one, he insisted that he wanted to read it to ME.  For a few days he only read it to me at bedtime.  But then over the weekend, he started picking it up and reading more whenever he felt inspired.  It was almost like every time I looked over at him, he had a book in his hand. Either the Junie B. Jones book or Dr. Seuss' 'Oh Say Can You Say' (a book of tongue twisters so tricky that it took me awhile to be able to read it through quickly).  This thrilled me so much.  I've always been a hardcore bookworm, and honestly was quite surprised when my daughter showed little interest in reading initially.  I always hoped she'd become like me, picking up a book and losing herself in it for the pure pleasure of it.

So to see my second child obviously heading in the direction of being a dedicated bibliophile, thrills me to the core.  I can hear him sounding out the words he doesn't know and repeating them in a whispered voice to himself to feel their rhythm and weight.  He is a word man, and loves to play with words to make them sound silly or unusual.  Who knows, maybe he will write his own stories some day?

Perhaps he will write a book and my daughter will illustrate it with her beautiful drawings ;)  They'd make the perfect creative team.

~ Liz

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Into Thin Air - Again - the Problem with Unbridled Optimism



"This forms the nub of a dilemna that every Everest climber eventually comes up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you're too driven you're likely to die."


~ Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air


***


A Canadian woman met her death near the summit of Mount Everest just over a week ago.  Shriya Shah-Klorfine, a healthy, extremely driven, Toronto woman in her thirties, collapsed from exhaustion and altitude sickness on her way down from the summit.  She achieved her goal of climbing up Mount Everest, but it cost her her life.




According to reports, all efforts were made to convince Ms. Shah-Klorfine to turn around before reaching the summit, to no avail.  Her dream was to climb the tallest mountain in the world, she knew in her heart she could do it, and damn it no-one and nothing would stand in her way.  Unfortunately, this kind of thinking lead ultimately to a lonely death on the side of a mountain.  It also put two Sherpas at risk of being killed by the rising winds and increasing cold of a late descent.


Here is a quote from an article in the National Post:


"Most importantly, we found that majority of deaths above 8, 000 metres, the so-called death zone, occurred during descent. This is at first glance paradoxical as the climbers have made it to the summit and are descending into warmer oxygen-rich air. However, climbers tend to be more fatigued during descent after the adrenaline that fueled their ascent is expended.  We also confirmed the long-held belief that summiting early in the day is preferable. In particular, we found that survivors typically summited between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning; while non-survivors usually arrived at the summit over four hours later. Late summit times are associated with slower ascents that are usually the result of a fatigued or inexperienced climber. Summiting later in the day also increases time spent in the death zone and the cumulative effect of the hypoxic and hypothermic stresses may also contribute to cognitive impairment that can impede a successful descent.


Ms. Shah-Klorfine summited around 2 pm and this placed her in a very dangerous situation that, for the reasons described above, contributed to her death."
~ G.W.K. Moore and J.L. Semple, Canadian Climber's Death Could Have Been Avoided


Thinking that one has the physical ability and the perseverance to climb the highest mountain in the world is an act of hubris in itself.  Thinking one has this ability without adequate experience and knowledge is, frankly, an act of stupidity.  Shriya Shah-Klorfine had very little mountaineering experience.  Certainly not enough to think she could make it to the top and back down the highest mountain in the world:


"Even though Shah-Klorfine trained for two years by walking and running 19 kilometres a day with 20-kilograms (45 pounds) on her back, she didn’t have the climbing experience many experts say is required to attempt such a dangerous activity."

~ Global News



Judging by what happened on the mountain, it is very doubtful that she even read the book Into Thin Air, about the 1996 disaster that resulted from the combination of a late summit and unpredictable weather.  




The book detailed very vividly the inherent difficulties of such an extreme climb, and predicted the dangers of overcrowded climbing attempts and cash-motivated guiding companies:



"Clients fork out about $25,000 to expedition organisers plus between $10,000 and $25,000 for an Everest permit, and some have been accused of ignoring their guides when advised to turn back.
Traditionalists also worry about the growing tendency of expeditions to set records and achieve "firsts"."
~ Frankie Taggart, AFP

Judith Timson, in an article in the Globe and Mail, questioned the motivations behind any individual climber's ambition to reach the summit in the modern age of guided ascents:

"... like so many other dreamers, for her it was never just a mountain, but a way to stand at the top of the world, to do her personal best, to conquer, achieve and, well, even to become famous.


But you are also risking your precious life, not in a war to save others, not even to better society but instead to fulfill a deeply personal goal that has unfortunately become hackneyed – you practically need a traffic cop to manage the summiteers trudging up the world’s highest mountain.


Nova Scotia climber and Everest achiever Mike Sutton told the CBC that we shouldn’t be questioning Ms. Shah-Klorfine’s skill or the crowded conditions of the mountain but applaud her for “trying to succeed at her dream, for actually getting to the top of the world.”


With respect, he is wrong. Now is the perfect time to question it all – the adequacy of the training, the overcrowding, the strategies for coping with oxygen-deprived and therefore cognitively impaired climbers to help them recognize their limits, and the goal itself."
~ The Globe and Mail, May 24th 2012


You know, it's wonderful to have drive, ambition and optimism.  However, one must also have a good dose of common sense, humility and respect for nature and for people with more experience who are advising you.  I feel very sorry for Ms. Shriya Shaw-Klorfine's family and very sad that Everest has claimed one more inexperienced, overly optimistic soul in the midst of rampant consumerism and the glorification of idealistic endeavors.


~ Liz

Friday, May 25, 2012

Female Power and Strength

Drew Barrymore by Annie Leibovitz
I've been thinking alot about female strength and power, as it manifests differently from male power.  I guess in response to criticisms that the women in some of my favourite stories are weak and unassertive.  It seems to me that strength and power is only perceived as valid if it is of a male flavour, such as in women like Uma Thurman's character in Kill Bill, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  A male kind of power, which uses physical force and the threat of physical harm to impose one's will.

But I read a book a couple of years ago, called The Wonder of Girls, in which the author, Michael Gurian, examines some of the popular fairy tales to explore the intrinsic strengths and unique abilities that women possess.  Why these strengths, such as the ability to endure hardship, the ability to love with passion and conviction, the ability to nurture everything from a baby to a grown man, and the ability to use language and emotional insight to motivate and inspire, are not valued to the same extent as the ability to shove a fist into someone's face, is anyone's guess.  But it makes me sad and a little bit angry.

I believe women are capable of numerous feats of emotional strength, such as fierce love and loyalty, nurturance and protection of the love object, and negotiation as a problem-solving strategy.  True, some of these strengths backfire on us.  Such as loyalty to an abusive spouse or the perception that one can nurture the truly damaged soul of a repeat violent offender.  But the newspapers don't take into account the many ways that mothers, sisters, wives and daughters support, care for, and protect the people they love on a daily basis.

This is not to say that I think men are incapable of these emotional strengths or that women are incapable of using physical force and intimidation to assert their will.  Only that I believe inner strength and resilience comes a little easier and more naturally to women, just as physical strength and stamina is the natural arena for men.

I believe that, for women, perseverance in the face of physical or emotional pain is usually a great and intrinsic ability. Look at what a woman must go through in order to give birth.  She experiences intense pain and emotional fragility in the creation and delivery of a being on whom she will later shower the most love and loyalty she will ever be capable of giving.  Women seem to be more adaptive to change than men, perhaps because we have to adapt to change our whole lives: hormone levels, reproductive cycles, pregnancy and childbirth.

The character of Bella in Twilight is often ridiculed as a silly little girl who falls in love with her stalker - someone who actually wants to do her harm.  What they fail to see is that it is her love for him that makes him able to fight against the beast within and triumph over his darker nature.  It is the classic Beauty and The Beast tale.  It is no accident that when Bella and her Vampire family eventually discover her hidden talent, it is that of being able to protect her child and her family from harm with supernatural emotional and mental strength.

The character of Ana in the Fifty Shades trilogy is also criticized as being weak and easily manipulated by the protagonist.  But she actually has a very strong sense of who she is, and who she is not, and uses this to guide her actions without actually giving up on the man she loves.  This is also a Beauty and The Beast story.  Her love causes Christian to change and heal and become the man that she knows he can be.  It is her love and loyalty, and her expectations for his behaviour, that help him do this.

The Beauty and Beast mythology is as old as time and is no doubt the reason these two stories, written by women for women, have been as popular as they have.  They speak to the intrinsic, and often devalued, strengths and desires of women everywhere.

~ Liz

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Search of a Quiet Mind


On Friday, the day before our long weekend here in Canada, I deactivated both my Facebook accounts.  Both accounts, you say?  Yes.  I had a Liz Lister account for my writing persona, and another account under my real name.  I spent most of my time on the Liz profile, as that one was the most fun ;)  But a couple of months ago I realized that I seemed to be on Facebook an awful lot.  It was just so interesting, seeing what all of these cool people were up to.  Some had lifestyles so different from mine, that it was eye-opening and fascinating to see the kind of things they'd post about.  I started getting added to some groups and invited to lots of fun events, most of which I couldn't attend due to the fact that I have a husband and two children to look after.  Some I did attend, and thoroughly enjoyed, although it made the events that I couldn't attend that much more tempting.

And what's wrong with that?  What's wrong with being popular on Facebook?  Isn't that what everyone wants?  Well, yes.  But I simply couldn't keep up with it.  And it left my brain spinning with information at the end of the day.  Now, I suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, so it's quite possible that what I find to be cognitively overwhelming wouldn't similarly affect someone else.  Lots of people enjoy Facebook and seem to be able to manage their time well.

I always used to be great at mindless meditation.  Not self-conscious Meditation, where you say 'Now I am going to Meditate' and sit down in a cross legged pose to try too hard to do just that.  But a more relaxed, staring into space and letting my thoughts roam freely in a wavelike way while I stare out the window, kind of meditation.  I realized recently that I don't do that anymore.  If I have a free moment, I pop onto Facebook to check out the action and wind up getting sucked in for a half hour or longer.

I'm a writer.  I already spend alot of time on my laptop, working on multiple stories in various stages of production.  Add Facebook to that and I was on the computer most of the time.  Then there are my blogs, which have been getting neglected because I've been spending so much time on Facebook.

I quit Facebook before, back when I was just a stay-at-home mom, not a published author.  I remember a sense of freedom and peace when I did so.  People would ask me if I missed it and I would answer honestly that I did not.  I was quite happy not having a Facebook account.  Then, when my first story, Exposure, was contracted, I was also encouraged by several people to have a presence on Facebook.  I set up a Facebook Page and a personal profile, which I needed to administrate the Page.  And I've had a love/hate relationship with Facebook ever since.

I realized recently that my two blogs are getting a decent number of average daily views, my Facebook page is up to 212 'Likes' and perhaps I don't need to use Facebook as so much of a publicity tool.  I'd like to focus on putting up more quality content on both my author blog and my kink blog.  I'm able to keep my Facebook Page because my husband (bless him) is one of the administrators and I can access it through his profile.  All of the people with whom I interacted regularly on Facebook have my email address and I have theirs, so there's no reason to completely lose contact.  I hope that they think of me occasionally and look up my blog/s, my Facebook Page or shoot me a quick email.  I would love to hear from them.

Yesterday was a wonderful day.  I published two blog posts (one that I wrote Monday, and one that I wrote yesterday morning).  I played two games of Uno and Monopoly (each) with my son.  I cleaned both bathrooms and put away the laundry from the weekend.

And I even had time to sit and stare out the window for twenty minutes in the afternoon, while my kids were both at school, and let my mind wander.

Heaven.

~ Liz

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kink in the Mainstream - Fifty Shades of Controversy


Have you heard about the Fifty Shades trilogy?  If not, you must be living under a rock.  These are a series of erotica books written for women that began as a Twilight fanfic (read by yours truly as the author was writing it) and later published by a small Australian company, then bought by Random House for a wider distribution.  E.L. James (Snowqueens Icedragon on Fanfiction.net) has made a bundle off her own vivid fantasies, and good for her!

As mentioned above, I read the story when it was purely a very graphic and compelling piece of fanfiction.  I enjoyed it, but I kept wishing that the central female character (a blushing virgin at the beginning of the novel) would be drawn further into the protagonist's bdsm lifestyle.  Alas, the author felt that she had to 'justify' the straight male character's bdsm interests by having them turn out to be a coping mechanism for severe neglect/abuse that he suffered as a small child.  Pity.

This aside, the novel is adequately written and details the minutiae of a relationship being negotiated between a dominant, controlling man and a stubborn, willful woman.  As such, it is quite entertaining.  And the softcore bdsm between them, or as they refer to it, 'kinky fuckery', is well written and very erotic.

However, there has been much controversy over the series' depiction of bdsm practices and lifestyles, both from the bdsm community itself and from the more conservative public.  The conservatives argue that bdsm is deviant and no popular woman's book should contain it.  This is simply ludicrous and displays a limited understanding of both women's desires, and the current belief that engaging in bdsm play or a bdsm lifestyle is NOT a deviant practice.  Members of the bdsm community have criticized the book, and justly so, for presenting this form of sexuality as the result of childhood trauma rather than as a benign preference to experience extreme sensation play with like-minded people.

There have also been criticisms that the central male character is a control-freak stalker who should not be presented as an object of desire to the naive female populace, who may read the book and suddenly desire to give their lives over to the next man who tells them to sit down or mind the gap.  The fact that Christian Grey is a control freak and somewhat of a stalker is addressed quite frankly in the book by the female character of Anastasia (cringe - I hate the name) Steele.  She spends the entire trilogy attempting  and ultimately succeeding to, modify his controlling and domineering ways which seem to be the product of his traumatic childhood and a projecting of his own insecurities and fears for her safety.  Basically, she doesn't take shit from this man.  She ensures that her own needs are met, and her own boundaries remain, but in a way that allows their relationship to grow and deepen, and ultimately results in Grey's being able to mature and heal from his difficult early years.

One of the things I love about writing male/male romance is the avoidance of the perceived uneven male/female power dichotomy.  I don't have to worry about the subtext.  Is one character objectifying another?  Is one character using his supposed superior societal power over the supposedly weaker character?  These questions don't even come up in m/m romance.  There is a certain freedom to depicting members of the same gender enjoying sexual relations and navigating intimate relationships, especially within a bdsm context.  My books will never be as popular as E.L. James' trilogy, but if they were, at least I wouldn't have to defend the perceived power imbalance of my characters and explain the aspects of their personalities that make them real equals.  

~ Liz

Monday, May 21, 2012

Winners!!!

Thanks so much to everyone who has visited my blog over the past few days!  I received 25 comments.  I got my eight year-old daughter to pick two numbers between 1 and 25, so the winners are...

Lilly Jones and Yvette!

e-copies of Exposure and The Crush are on there way to you both!  Congratulations!

Hope everyone keeps working to make homophobia an obsolete concept :)

~ Liz

Thursday, May 17, 2012

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.  In honour of that, a group of authors of M/M erotic romance have gotten together to conduct a blog hop to stress the importance of this message.


A blog hop occurs when a group of bloggers agrees to post about the same topic over a day or several days, in order to encourage more people to visit a wider variety of blogs.  Because we write about men who have intimate relationships with other men and often fall in love, homophobia is something that we, the writers of gay erotic romance, feel very strongly about eliminating.  For myself, this is one reason that I decided to write gay romance.  I want to put gay sexual intimacy and romance into the mainstream. 

Gay people of either/any gender should not be marginalized or ridiculed or abused.  Homophobia needs to be eliminated so that young people who identify as gay, transgendered or bisexual can grow up feeling proud of who they are, and proud of the society that not only accepts them, but celebrates them as members of a diverse and complex humanity.

The most vivid memory I have with regard to this sort of thing, is the way that my mother reacted when I called my older brother a 'fag' one time when I was really angry with him.  To me, that word was synonymous with 'idiot' or 'bastard'.  I had no idea that fag was a dirogatory term for a gay man.  

I thought the best thing to do for this event would be to contact some of my gay friends to find out about their experiences with homophobia.  Here are the anonymous responses I received:

***

Kevin* (living with long-term partner):


Yes it is a very important topic to discuss.  I do not feel there is much homophobia around me here in (my hometown).  I live in a city in the mountains where everyone seems to be accepting of everyone else.  I think most of the homophobia I have faced has been internalized within my own community.  Sometimes not understanding or accepting ourselves, we tend to project these feelings on others around us who are more baffled or confused trying to sort or figure it out.  I think this confusion is often mistaken for dislike or misunderstood as an open acceptance.  

The most internalized homophobia I see in my current community surrounds issues with people exposed to or living with HIV.  There is downright rejection, fear runs rampant as people become isolated and closed off from normal social networks.  Labels and suspicion are tossed about carelessly without remorse for an already heavy status.  This fear begins to mask the true face of the epidemic as those infected become hidden and now resort to anonymous sex - meeting people on a host of possible pick-up type websites where no discussion or disclosure is required.  It separates our community and in many ways has become our worst enemy.  When we loath others whom we should embrace in our communities it is harmful for everyone.  Something like HIV that should be in check after too many years of rearing its head and threatening us, divides us.  We are experiencing extremely high numbers of infection in our part of the country, far too high for such a small community.

***

Stephan (single):


The most recent incident was on the bus, coming home from the bar one night.  I got on the 95, always an adventure when the bars let out and the animals from the Market climb on.  The bus was packed, overflowing, and loud.  

Three guys were verbally harassing a guy who was not crowded in with them.  Those 3 were standing, packed in with the overflowing beer-drenched vomitus of the str8 world, and their target was seated with a very pretty girl, several seats away.  The main abuser was angry about something the guy did or said, or was perceived to have done or said, earlier in the evening.  The pretty girl was not involved in this at all, just an innocent stuck on a bus full of ignorant bar rejects.  (Gee, can you tell I hate taking the bus when the bars let out?)  

The guy eventually was yelling all kinds of abuse, insinuating all kinds of things only a ... bigoted bully can come up with, and it escalated to where the bus driver was not driving anymore.  Nobody said anything, feeling the anticipation climbing in everyone that something was about to get even more out of control.  Everyone else on the bus who was relatively sober and polite, was having enough, and the place was about to erupt.  The poor guy in the seat never said a word.  He only looked more and more scared, white in the face, and safe only by virtue of the people crammed in like sardines, between him and the abuser.  Then the insanely angry guy started screaming out how the guy was a fag, a faggot, a cocksucker, not a man.  

In less than half a heartbeat, I bellowed out, "Hey!  I'm the only fucking cocksucking faggot here.  Leave him alone!"  Me, 6', bald, a little under 200 lbs of angry white guy who knows what it is like to be subjected to that kind of abuse.  The look in my eyes said murder, because a) I hate this shit, b) I wanted to go home, and c) I hate taking a bus full of drunk assholes that smash windows out, smoke, drink and fight from downtown to Kanata.  

The silence that shook the bus was awesome.  Of course, the driver was not driving, and we could hear him talking out his window to security.  The doors opened, people scrambled off the bus and security pushed on, dragged out the abusive asshole, everyone milling around, and the driver drove off with nobody on the bus, leaving everyone there at Lebreton Flats for the next bus, that pulled in empty from who-knows-where.  The driver must have threatened to quit.  Half the people got on, the other half piled onto the next regular bus that pulled up behind.

It was, in all, a typical ride on OC Transpo after the bars let out.  I wish I had had the balls to challenge the abuse before that point, but I was close enough to risk being attacked, and you never know what someone like that is carrying.  I kind of still need my liver.  Nobody is going to get away with calling someone a fag in my presence.

***

Zachary (single):


Well to be quite honest, I think the closest thing to homophobia I have ever encountered was in school during my Grade ten year back in 1996.  This is when I met my best friend, more like my unbiological brother who is still with me today.  Back in the fall of 96 I met my best friend for the first time in a coffee shop on the corner of baseline and clyde called Coffee Time with my other friends.  We introduced each other and I bought him a coffee.  From there we grew close, as friends, to the point where my other friends would ask "Where is your boyfriend?".  


Back then I didn't think much of it because to be honest he was straight and me being single we answered we don't have one :-).  My Best friend knew I was gay but didn't tell anyone because we thought it wasn't the time.  So for years, in my view, my best friend was a boyfriend - we had fights, talked about everything, stood by each other, protected each other.  So during my graduating year in 99, that is when I decided to tell my friends that I was gay and to my surprise they said "So you're gay? Why did you wait three years to tell us?  We suspected you may have been because one, you were more of gentleman with the ladies then we were with our girlfriends, two, friends with everyone, and three, stood up against bullies who called other kids gay...... So you're gay - are you the girl or the boy in your relationship?  Lol, Kidding - Let's grab a few pints."

Since then, I personally haven't really experienced any homophobia except the odd occasion when a guy thinks gays are intrinsically weak.  And I just reply: "Have you ever had your ass kick by a fag?  No?  You want this to be your first time?"

***

And then there was the response of my friend, Malcolm, who expressed his regret that he couldn't assist me with this post because he had never experienced any homophobia.  And that response gives me hope that perhaps things are changing, and maybe in thirty or forty years people will wonder what homophobia even was?



If you would like to win copies of both Exposure and The Crush, please leave a comment here about your own thoughts on this important issue.  Two random names will be drawn on May 21st and the winners will be announced on that day, here at the blog.

*Names have been changed.


~ Liz

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Well Said!!!

I came across this post in my Tumblr feed this morning:



There is absolutely nothing that makes me wetter than words.
No amount of graphic porn can compare to the power that the written or spoken word has on me. You could show me the sexiest porn on the planet and my body would not react in the slightest.
Handing me an erotic novel, on the other hand? Instant arousal.
My mind is my biggest erogenous zone; my imagination makes me drip. I don’t need the in-your-face porn to get me going. I need a well written story to stroke my libido, or a whispered voice in my ear telling me exactly what’s going to be done to me.
Use the right words at the right time and I’ll be a squirming, wet, needy mess before you even lay a hand on me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MS Walkies!!!

So, a week ago Sunday, my husband and I participated in the MS Walk in Ottawa.  My older sister and I  both have MS, so this is an important cause for my family.  

We were very lucky to have some friends join us.  In particular, my friend Karl came along, dressed as Leather Puppy Rolph.  Although his partner and handler John brought him, he handed the leash over to me, and I was in charge for the duration of the walk.  

I'd like to point out that Karl was the first person to respond when I posted about participating in the MS walk, and the first person to donate to our team, The Copaxonators (Copaxone is the medication that has helped keep me relapse-free for just over three years).

It was a blast to have him walk beside me during this important event.  I really wasn't sure what the response would be from the other walkers.  Some people were a little taken aback when they saw him.  He was wearing his pup hood, collar, leash, tail and paws - not the full leather outfit.  Most of the little kids were quite amused.  Alot of young women thought he was pretty cool.  I heard one young woman express her jealousy that I got to hold his leash.  We got asked to have our photo taken several times.

It was really alot of fun!  My husband enjoyed watching how people reacted to the unexpected sight of a human pup on a leash.  And I enjoyed getting to borrow my very own leather pup for an hour :))))))  If we do the MS Walk again next year I will be inviting Rolph along fully pupped out this time!

Very Cute Pup Rolph

~ Liz

Monday, May 7, 2012

Exclusive Interview with Jeremy Trask!

Today I am interviewing the character of Jeremy Trask from my debut e-book, Exposure, over at the Kinky Ever After blog.  Come and gain a little insight into the central character of my first m/m romance:

Kinky Kiss and Tell Interview: Jeremy Trask from Exposure


~ Liz

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Love is Always Write - Teaser



I've finished and submitted my story for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's Love is Always Write Event.  It is called Office Politics.  Here is a teaser:

***




As part of the University Security Team, Mikhos and I were charged with protecting the campus and ensuring that the protest didn't get out of hand.  So, even though I stood behind everything about which they were protesting, I had to represent the administration.  My job was crucial to my well-being.  I couldn't afford to switch sides and sacrifice a good salaried position with benefits.

Mikhos understood how conflicted I felt yesterday.  We'd worked at this job together for almost a year now.  He knew I was gay.  Hell, everyone at work knew it.  I wasn't exactly inconspicuous.  I often acted loud and flamboyant.  He seemed to like it when I huffed off in a queenly rage over an underdone bagel in the cafeteria.  I liked to make him laugh.  Sometimes I purposely overdid it just to hear that musical sound.  You could say I had a bit of a crush.  Sometimes I caught him looking at me in a way I didn't really understand, and some part of me reacted.  But he was off limits - straight, had a girlfriend, in every way the All American Boy.  I wasn't about to get my heart crushed going after a lost cause. 

So I made the best of our friendship.  I took what I could get, and I took it gladly.  So many straight men acted standoffish or intimidated around obviously gay men.  Not Mikhos.  He liked me for who I was.

But, yesterday, something changed in our relationship.  While we policed the protest, some kid accused University Security (us) of always targeting gay students.  I bit my tongue to keep quiet, figuring silence to be the best response. 

But Mikhos yelled back "Oh, do we really?”.  Before I could even process that, he pulled me to him and kissed the stuffing out of me in front of the students, teachers, our coworkers... and his girlfriend, who happened to be bringing him lunch at the time.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement.  To say I’d become slightly aroused would be another one.  To say I wouldn't be reliving that moment for the next ten years would be bullshit.

He totally ignored me for the remainder of the protest.  I stood there, my mind a whirling mess, my hard-on obvious in my security uniform, and my hormones awash with confusion.  We managed to get through it.  Then Mikhos gave me a hasty “Later” and took off, his face red with shame, embarrassment or whatever.

Later that afternoon, as I approached our small office to collect my things for the journey home, I heard voices arguing: A man’s voice and a woman’s - Mikhos and his girlfriend, Claire.  I stopped dead, listening.

"It's not like you gave him a peck on the lips, Mikhos.  That was a full on kiss.  I can't remember the last time you kissed me like that."

There was a long, silent pause.

"So, what's going on?  Is there something you've been keeping from me?"

"Claire, it's complicated." He sounded stressed and annoyed.

"It's not that complicated.  You either like women or you like men.  Do you like men, Mikhos?  'Cause it sure looks like you do." She was furious, it seemed.  Her voice sounded shrill and defensive.

"Why does it have to be one or the other?"

"Because the people who say they like both are just after all they can get, that's all.  They're sex-crazed and indecisive."

Her comment made me angry and somewhat surprised.  Were there still people who believed that, in this day and age?

"Is that really what you think?"

"Mikhos.  Do you like men?" 

"I like Tyson.  And, yeah, he’s a man."

"Very loose definition, but okay.  So, where does that leave us?"

"I don't know." He said, his voice tired and resigned.

"Well, I do.  You can't have it both ways.  If you want him, you can't have me."

More silence, while I tried not to hyperventilate too loudly in the hall.

"Mikhos?" She said, in a demanding tone.

"Goodbye, Claire."

And suddenly Mikhos came into the hallway.  He glanced at me, hesitated for a brief moment, then pushed past me, striding furiously down the hallway.

After a few moments, Claire exited the office.  When she saw me, she laughed.  "There goes your man, Loverboy.  Just watch out.  He doesn't seem to know what he wants."

She walked haughtily by me.  I stood there, stunned, trying to process everything I'd heard. 

She was obviously jumping to conclusions.  Yes, it had been a scorching, powerful kiss, but I still believed that Mikhos had done it as part of a plan to avert the protest.  She cornered him, he confessed to liking me, and she took that as a threat to their relationship.  Women were like that.  They'd take the tiniest thing and blow it up out of all proportion.  I knew he didn't like me in a sexual way.  We'd been friends for too long for that to be the case. 

***

This story will be available for free in the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, as part of its Love is Always Write event, later this month.

~ Liz