THE PASSION STROLL...
a blog by author Ashavan Doyon
As some readers already know, I am changing jobs. My last day in Student Affairs was Friday (which reminds me, that means I need to update my bio). I've worked in Student Affairs at the college for just shy of 15 years. I was hired just after September 11 as a temp and managed to transition to being a full time regular employee in my department in June of 2002. While there were longer term employees in the department, in the core office I had been there the longest. I was the person with all the answers; I could answer pretty much any question. Over the course of that time I'd assisted every position in our office, from the residence life staff to the dean of international students and scholars.
While that service will serve me well, I am acutely aware that I am moving to a new office where I won't know things. It's a scary thought, not unlike trying to write a story with a hero or setting radically different from my personal experience. I know that there's a base of knowledge as an assistant that will serve me well, and because I transferred within the institution, my knowledge of the college and its procedures will allow me to continue the appearance of casual competence.
It's not that I'm worried, not really. I will tackle the new job with the same sort of strategy that I might use if I was writing a story about a soldier. I'll research. I'll ask questions, and I'll brazen it out.
Comfort in a job is important to me. Long time followers of my work will remember how I struggled when I first moved to my new house to do any writing until my office was set up. For me this is much the same. So I went over on Friday (with the blessing of my outgoing supervisor) to get the new digs at the college setup. As promised, my new desk mascot is in place!
A few housekeeping items
No doubt some of you noticed that September had only one chapter of The One That Feels released. That's my fault, work and my life offline made any more impossible. In addition to my own impending departure from my workplace, we were also working short one member of the administrative support staff, during opening, in student affairs and residence life at a college. Needless to say, there was a lot of stress. To make it up to folks, there will be THREE chapters in October, starting tomorrow with Chapter 11!
I'm working on the next issue of ARDOR—a full issue this month rather than news briefs. Part of that is continuing work on the planned freebie for subscribers. It probably won't go out with this issue, but there may be an additional mailing with details. If you haven't signed up for the newsletter, now's the time! I will make sure that currently signed up folks also get the freebie once it's available, so there's no reason to wait.
My pup is Dulcy. She's cute and lovable and she snuggles close at night making sure I know that I'm part of her pack—her family. I don't need the reminder, but I love it. My parents were workaholics, so growing up I had my brother and my puppy. The pup I had then was named Mitzi. She was tiny dog, a mix of dachshund and something else. She was the runt of her litter and I remember her being so tiny she fit in the palm of my mom's hand. She had an impossible spirit and was fearless. When she was a year old she was run over by a car. Impossibly the local vet hospital put Mitzi back together. Forever after we had shocked vets as they took x-rays of the real life bionic dog—held together by bits of wire, screws, and metal plates. Among her worst injuries were three broken legs, a separated pelvis, and severe road burn across her back that left her with scarred patching where the hair never grew back.
We had Mitzi for twelve years before cancer took her from us. She was my little sister, my companion, and more often than not my confessor who listened to my rage and hurt as I struggled with being a rape survivor in a world that didn't recognize that such thing was possible for a young man. With listening to my angst when I came out. With loving me—just that.
We got Dulcy from a breeder when she was only 11 weeks old. An AKC pug, her breeder clearly allowed the kids to name the puppies that he kept, and they all had names like Charmander Bulbusaur. We named her the Lady Dulcinea. For over fourteen years, she has done what pugs do: sniff, snuffle, lick things, bark at things, and, of course, piddle at the most inopportune times—that last has gotten particularly pronounced in the last year. Worried that she might not survive being boarded at her advanced age, we cancelled vacation plans this year. Instead we've kept Dulcy company, stayed at home.
I spend a lot of time worrying about my puppy girl. So today is mostly about her. Love you Dulcy.
Anyone have any great dog stories? Let me know in the comments, and don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter!
True believers (no, really, I'm not Stan Lee), I'm making a brief post tonight about posting. Why? Because posting hasn't been consistent, and it needs to be. So here's the deal:
The goal is for there to be two posts that are part of the The One That Feels serialization every month. These are intended to be posted on MONDAYS - once in about the middle of the month and once at the end.
There will often (but not always) be a post on off weeks. I am really trying hard to make those posts happen on Mondays also, but this week—because of this post—it will happen on Tuesday instead.
There will be occasional posts relating to current events (sometimes about how they relate to my stories, and sometimes just because I'm a person and current events are important) outside of this Monday-as-posting-day framework.
So that's the schedule. How does that look? well, for starters it means that this month fudges that schedule good. For serial posts the schedule looks like this:
That should put us back on schedule for The One That Feels, and come September we should be back to the schedule as planned. I am working hard at balancing content between platforms, and the introduction of Dreamspinner's update feature is both a blessing and a curse. My latest post "Sticks and Stones" was made entirely on their platform. I was feeling really good about that until I remembered it created a gap for readers here.
So I will be making a concerted effort to be posting regularly, with a particular focus to making sure my serial posts are on time and that posts elsewhere are not resulting in this space for readers being abandoned.
Today is All American Pet Photo Day. Who decreed this, and why, I'm not sure, but it coincided with the day Facebook decided in its wisdom to show an old post from when I first moved into the new house (that's a year ago) of Piggy, one of the first times she actually got comfortable in my new office. It made me think a lot about her. She was determined to always be in the same room as me, but didn't like to be held, so pictures of us holding her are pretty rare. Most are like this one, and she has that terrified "I'm being held" look that means that probably two seconds after this was taken she was trying to wriggle out of my grasp. One never really got to hold Piggy for more than about 10 or 15 seconds. Still, because of that look, which was so very like her, it is a poignant reminder for me of what I lost when she passed in November.
Do you have pets? Tell me how you feel about pets in your gay romances in the comments!
Mother's Day... it makes me think a lot about my books. I write a lot of college age protagonists. That means I write a lot of young gay men with family struggles. While that is getting better, it's far from good. LGBT youth represent a staggering disproportionate percentage of homeless youth because of both feared and actual rejection by their parents.
I've tried to be even handed about writing nasty parents and supportive parents. The relationships can get complicated, and they can be downright strange. Sometimes they involve total rejection, others there is more nuance involved. Sometimes one parent is supportive and acts as shelter. Sometimes the support is only in comfort afterward. So when I think about Mother's Day, I struggle.
I've been thinking about relationships with mother's a lot in part because I've been working on the current Work-in-Progress, The Rodeo Knight, and the mother/son relationship is a turning point in that story. Let's face it. Moms are important.
Mother's Day is over, but relationships with mother figures are still something formative. I'm revealing a bit about my next College Rose Romance, Book 4, below. But for a moment I hope you'll think about book 3. Because Andrew's Prayer is a lot about mothers, and how they love their gay sons, and also about how gay sons love their mothers.
I'm going to leave you with a quote from Andrew's Prayer, from the very first page of the book, but it's one that's particularly appropriate for Mother's Day, and also one that I think sets the tone for Drew's relationship with her:
Coming home hadn't been a difficult choice. Sure, it was over a thousand miles. Sure, it was going to be hot, sticky, and miserable. It was still home. His mom was the only person in his life who'd said "I love you" that he had believed. She'd even said it after she found out. She'd been in tears, she'd screamed. But she'd still said "I love you," and Drew never doubted for a moment that she'd meant it.
Andrew's Prayer is available at Torquere Press, Amazon, and other fine e-book retailers. The best ways you can support an author are to buy directly from the press or to leave an honest review or rating (especially on Amazon).
COVER REVEAL - BECOMING RORY
Rory Graeble returns to college determined to reinvent himself. Too many years have been wasted with masks, but becoming a student leader is a step Rory isn’t sure he’s ready for. A new identity takes more than just a new nickname, and Rory knows he has to take the chances that his old self would never risk. When that chance is a party that ends with an anonymous hot skater’s tongue down his throat and a phone number in his pocket, Rory knows what he has to do.
Danny Smits never expected to see stuffy lit geek Rory Graeble trying to be out, trying to be proud, trying to be… Rory. It’s damned sexy, and too much for the entrepreneurial skater to resist. When Rory calls him back the day after the party, Danny knows Rory has changed. But will Danny’s haunted past deter Rory? Or will Rory embrace the chance to experience everything the closet had stolen away? Danny believes in keeping things real, in a brutal honesty he knows means Rory will run screaming.
But this time Rory isn’t running.
Becoming Rory is book 4 of the College Rose Romances. While reading the previous books is not required to understand the story, there will be elements that make more sense if the entire series is read in order.
Published by Torquere Press. Now available for preorder. Use code preorder15 to save 15%!
I write gay romances. Pictures of hot guys are something that get shared in those circles. Often these are models, and so it's not infrequent to see this on my screen first thing in the morning:
Hot, right? But it's also frustrating. I work and write in medium where I am virtually never represented, after having lived my life and grown up in an environment where I am, again, almost never represented. While no character is a perfect stand-in, most of us growing up have heroes that we can or want to emulate, to resemble, to aspire to be.
This guy with the perfect head of teased dirty blond hair and the hot tattoos and the smooth skin and the glorious abs... so often he is the guy I'm writing. Because romance is fantasy. In my head I always wanted to be that hot guy. The one that looks hot in just his underwear.
And that of course is where this comes from. Because I do shop for underwear online, and facebook somehow knows that. And it delivers this picture to me.
I don't have the heart to ban the picture in the way I've banned so much political talk from my feed. I like looking. I like dreaming. I like thinking about how hot dirty blond boy would feel skin to skin crawling up me to do unmentionable things. But it hurts. Why? Here's a hint. The picture above is edited to take out this:
It's a shame of course, because in my desperate desire to be that hot jock, I would, as I imagine many do, join that club. Aspire to be hot. Except that an XL in those undies is a size 36. That makes me a full 12 sizes larger than the LARGEST SIZE THEY HAVE. At my size I can't get sexy underwear. At my size I'm lucky to find underwear at all. There's plenty of shame in that.
A lot of people will go on about how it's all about will power and if I really wanted to blah blah blah. Sure.
For the record, at my heaviest I topped 420 pounds. Possibly more. That's where my industrial strength fatso scale tops out. In an effort to be sexy for my hubby, shortly after I asked him to marry me, I shaved the comb over and went on a full on no holds barred I was not going to fail this time diet. Successfully, as it happens. I lost at least 140 pounds, going to a low of 270. At this weight I was still, by doctors, considered morbidly obese. At this weight I also started showing the signs no person who loses weight wants to see... excess skin. The kind that won't go away even if you lose the weight gradually.
Mind you, my six foot five frame, at 270 pounds, still had a 44 inch waist. a full 8 sizes away from fitting into the largest size of sexy underwear offers. I kept the weight off for almost five years.
That bit about you get used to it, you feel better, you don't get hungry. That's all bullshit. For me? I was hungry all the time. I felt guilty if I ate a snack. I subsisted on tiny meals and exercised daily. My knees and back thanked me for the weight loss. The rest of my body waged a full on war. I was cold all the time. I felt weak, even though I exercised. I never developed a taste for the healthy foods I needed to eat, even though I tried an endless variety in an effort to maintain the weight I'd reached.
I've bucked the odds. A full 12 years after losing the weight, I'm still down 50ish pounds over my heaviest weight. But that means I've gained back a painful 100 pounds.
But I'm terrified of dieting. It never made me feel better, and even going through herculean lengths, I never even got close to my goal. Being able to buy XL undies and jeans at a regular store.
I despaired and I searched high and low for places that sell sexy undies in my size. Like everything else I wear, it IS possible to find such a thing, but the choices are extremely limited, and heinously expensive.
Almost every book I write talks about the underwear the hero wears. About how sexy it makes them look. I think that's because I know I'll never get to feel that for myself.
Don't forget to check out the ARDOR newsletter. The April issue is out and with it a prelude to the ongoing serial The One That Feels, presented here on the Passion Stroll.
My life has been a little crazy for the past two years. In the midst of writing and editing, my father-in-law became deathly ill two summers ago. I wish I could say that was hyperbole, but I'm afraid it's not. He declined quickly from the healthy man I'd come to know into a frail shell. We tried to do everything ourselves so that he could stay in his house, but it became too much. He was admitted to the hospital, and the cancer they found was inoperable. Hospitals, then nursing homes, then hospice. Mercifully it was quick and certain in a way that left my husband with few doubts about our choices. I wrote every post for my Steven's Heart blog tour from a vigil beside his bed in hospice.
Since his passing my life has been a whirlwind. We bought a new house. We endeavored to sell not just our own home but my husband's father's also. I missed the Dreamspinner Author retreat last year because I was in the midst of moving. This year I was determined to make it, and I did (There's this photographic evidence with Amy DiMartino, Charlie Chochet and Dani Maas). Authors are a frequently insular bunch, and I'm no exception. If it wasn't for Dani, I'm not sure I would have managed to actually meet anyone. The workshop was jam packed with goodness, time to make new friends and contacts, everything I needed to be energized. There was even a chance to pitch ideas to the editors and I'm really thrilled at the prospect of releasing something from Dreamspinner later this year.
Unfortunately, it also meant returning home to both the impending sale of our former home (and therefore desperate last minute cleaning, bargaining, and endless meetings with lawyers and realtors) and two days missed from work at the college in the midst of spring break housing (which I coordinate) and the implementation of a new housing assignments and lottery system (guess who is on the implementation team). Something had to give and the immediate something was my posts here. My plan was only to be a week late posting. All my good intentions were for naught, and obviously last weekend nothing new went up.
I hope none of you are too disappointed at the delay, and I promise my next post will be the blurb and cover for the serial novel that we'll be discovering here on the blog over the next few months.
One of the difficult parts about writing love stories is that you can't aim for the target. The heart goes the direction it wants, and because of that, the path characters take to get there is often a meandering one. It goes slow when as a writer you want it to go fast. It speeds by when you're begging the characters to slow down. I love that about writing, because I've learned that the characters are the ones in control. And that's splendid -- because when I let the characters loose, they thrive and grow and they live, so magnificently that they can make me cry, and they do.
So where are they meandering and how and what do I think that means? Let's find out together. A blog is practically a requirement for authors today, but I hope I can make this one worth an occasional visit. Unlike my newsletter with its fancy formatting and strict length provisions, my thoughts here will be less guarded, more raw. Sometimes they may be angry or excited in the ways the carefully placed words of the newsletter cannot be. In my newsletter I explore the characters you've seen or will see soon. Here you'll also get to see the characters half-formed, and the stories as they become.
I'm going to share a story here. I'm going to do it slowly, and if you read, patiently, you'll get the whole story. And if you're impatient, and you want it NOW... well, once I get far enough into it, I may offer an opportunity for that too. For now, as I get this beast moving, I'll be sharing twice a month for the story. And I'll post a couple more times a month about other things. Sometimes that will be a thought on current events; others it may be about a writing triumph or failure. And yes, there's sure to be a bit of promotion now and then, not just of my stuff, but of stories, beautiful stories -- the ones I love and maybe sometimes the ones I hate too, because people's taste is always different.
Next week ARDOR, my formal newsletter, comes out with its February issue. I'm still writing the content (furiously, because it needs to get formatted as well as written!), but you can be sure that love and dating and Valentine's Day will all be covered. And there will be a short in that issue as well, connected to something that has already been written. While the editorial content is still being finalized, I do have the cover for the issue, and I wanted to share it with you, because it inspired me. Maybe it will inspire you as well. Enjoy, and I'll talk to you all next week!*
*Yes, I mean talk. If you comment I will always try to answer! Books are one way communication, but this doesn't have to be... it can be a dialogue, if you want it to be.
Writer of the mysterious, fantastic, and the romantic. Sometimes sappy. Often angsty. Always searching for the sexy. Stories about men who love men.