Why I Write Bi Characters

I sort of recently realized I have a fair number of characters (main and secondary), as well as both MCs in an upcoming book, who are bi.  As the statement implies, I didn’t necessarily do it consciously. I write M/M romance because I like it, it appeals to me, and that’s where my stories are (which is all the justification I’m going to give that). So why bi and not just gay?

Simplest and most straight forward answer is that I’m bi. I intimately understand what it’s like to be attracted to both men and women. To figure it out, accept it, tell people, when to be quiet for fear of retaliation or hurtful and hateful words…I understand it completely. And while every person’s experience is different, and it’s different for all of my characters, at the core, the basics, I get.

And then there’s the larger, more complex reason.

Look, I know I don’t have a huge audience, and I’m fine with that. I don’t expect to be able to change a lot of minds or enlighten anyone. But what I do want is for there to be representation in my writing. And I’ll be honest and say that my writing probably won’t run the whole gamut of LGBTQIA+ spectrum. I’m drawn to certain stories and characters, and that’s where my muse directs me. There’s certain stories I don’t feel equipped to tell, and I’d rather pass on those plots than cause harm. That’s the very last thing I want. But one thing I am equipped to talk about, one thing that means a great deal to me is is this:

Bi-erasure is a very real, very hurtful thing. I’ve experienced it. I’ve seen so many others experience it. The disparaging remarks, the sneering tones…from within the community and without…it seriously hurts my heart that in this day and age, when we as a society are moving toward (though certainly not there) acceptance of so many facets of humans, that bisexuality is still dismissed and erased. By writing bi characters, I hope to increase visibility. Even if it’s just a little.

Representation matters. When I first realized I liked girls too, I didn’t know being bi was a thing. I had a terrible crisis internally for a while, knowing I couldn’t be a lesbian because I liked guys but having no idea what it meant that I found women attractive as well. Had I seen men and/or women like myself I wouldn’t have had that struggle. I would have known. For me, the label was important and if there had been some sort of representation, things would have been easier on me. I probably wouldn’t have taken so long to come out, either. But that’s me. I just know that seeing people like me would have made a huge difference in my life.

So. Basically, the tl;dr version is this: bi characters matter, to me and to others, and I’ll continue to write them when the story and character directs. And by doing so, hopefully with all our voices together, one day it won’t even be a question anymore.

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The Thing That Happened

So writing is a solitary thing. I mean, I bounce ideas off people, sometimes to the point of annoyance. But when it comes down to getting the words on the page, it’s me, in the writing nook, at my computer, cat sometimes at my feet, and writing. The words come from my head and make it on the page with no other interference…jaunts onto the internet and social media not withstanding.

But making the story publishable? That is decidedly collaborative. I have my betas first, to see if what is in my head actually made it onto the page. And then there’s the editors. These hardworking folk take my words and help me make them shine. They point out things that need clarification, and weird word choices I don’t pick up because my own speech pattern is decidedly strange (and a little made up). They point out the things that need to be removed or added for flow, for narrative, for world and relationship building. That’s their job, and they are good at it. (At least I’ve had the exceedingly good fortune to work with awesome editors over the past three years. I’ve learned a lot, and aside for the occasional clash in style (which is usually resolvable with a little conversation) it’s really been a great experience.)

As I said last week, edits interrupted my writing of Want. They took up the entire focus of my writer brain. And it was great to revisit these boys, to see them in a slightly different light, to work on making their story the best it can be. There were things I needed to tweak, stuff to remove, stuff to add in.

One of those things that I added was another character. A not much character. A mentioned twice and never seen or heard from character. I gave him a name I loved without much thought, a J name of course, because he was just a little something extra, something to flesh out the story a bit. I’d always imagined someone like him on the sidelines, but he never got fully formed in my mind until I dropped him in. Then I knew what he looked like, and had a little sense of his personality. But still, he was…well truth be told, he was nothing. He was guy on the page we would never see.

And then he started talking to me.

**Okay, let me say this first. I hear other writers say that their characters talk to them. I’ve heard yet others say that’s pretentious and bullshit, that the author is the craftsman, and they have full control, and to say your characters speak to you is pompous. Screw them, because everybody’s process is different. For me, when I can’t stop thinking of a character, when they invade my brain and I suddenly see things about their life and personality, I call that the character talking to me. Some are more vocal than others. Some are quite insistent on their names, while others I have to coax and prod until I find the right one. It’s how my brain works, and this is the language I choose to use to describe it. Sorry for the side bar rant.**

So this guy, he started talking to me. I was driving home from work the day after I dropped him in the MS. The first thing that came to me was the second place he should be mentioned in the story. And then…oh then he started telling me about how his life was about to change, where he was going to go, who he was going to meet, how hard and fast he was going to fall. My drive from work to home is twenty minutes. Tops. It was more like fifteen that day. And in that short amount of time, I saw all the things about this guy.

Point of the long winded post? I want to write this guy’s story. It would be a truly standalone spin off, unlike the Something Like series which is linked and, while they work on their own, work best when read in order. This would be something else, with cameos yes, but a completely independent story.

As would be the one that came after it. (And those guys have been in my head for a little bit now.)

So basically, while Want is fairly well entwined with the ones that have come before, these three, starting with His Needs, would be linked by world only, with maybe a few cameos.

I don’t know in which order I’ll write them, because I keep bouncing back and forth, but after Want, I have two more on the docket. And that feels really good.

Want Interrupted

It’s because I made plans. I’m really not allowed to do that, and I should know better. Because every time I do, something comes along to mess it up. Okay, not every time but most times.  So because I intended to buckle down and bang out a bunch more words on Want, something now requires my focus.

But oh! It’s a good thing!

I’ve started content and structural edits on His Needs, which is on par for a Decemberish release. I both enjoy and dread edits. There’s something about cleaning things up, polishing and refining (with guidance from those whose job it is to know how words work) that I find fund and exciting. Little tweaks here and there to clarify, to really get my meaning across. I also like to revisit my guys, watch them fall in love again. And I really like making the story the best it can be.

But of course there’s dread. Because there is a part of me that doesn’t like being told I didn’t do something well enough. And yes, that’s not exactly what edits are, but it often feels that way. And I dread too, how sometimes an editor’s perception or vision is slightly different from mine, and I need to figure out the best way to tell the story. There are moments where I have to figure out if I need to stand firm on my original choice, tweak it a little, or concede if the editor is right.

It’s a relationship, and there needs to be give and take. I’m fortunate to work with editors who do exactly that. They work with me to make the story the best it can be. And after the horror stories I’ve heard, I know just how lucky I am.

What I really like about edits is that I become a better writer every time. I’m constantly learning about my craft, and I’m always striving to improve. With each new edit I complete, I learn new things, and identify some of my weaknesses, so the next story I write is better than the one before.

So I’m focused on edits right now, and will be for the better part of the next week. But after they are done, I’ll be returning my attention to Want. Alex and Spencer are waiting not so patiently for me to get back to telling their story.

Progress!

And lots of it!

The story goes like this: I had nothing at all for Something Like Want, absolutely zero, not even a whole plot, until just about a week ago. And then everything fell into place like puzzle pieces. It just all made sense, what I couldn’t make work was now working like awesome, and I made my rough outline. I was going to let it sit for a bit, but I was inspired, and I started to write. Late Friday, July 8th, I wrote the first chapter. And then I kept writing.

And in a week’s time I wrote more than 16k words. I got great satisfaction out of watching the number climb! I gleefully updated the WIPs page with the word meter every time I finished another chapter! I’m halfway through, in plot and in words, and I’m positively giddy about the whole thing!

Okay, so there was a moment or two of serious doubt. Some impostor syndrome creeping in. As it always does around this point. And I’m sure it will continue to plague me. I’m just that kind of person. But I do my best to push that away, even if I have to voice it out for a bit first.

But all that aside, I’ve made an insane amount of progress on the story. I’m loving these guys even more than I thought I would. And I’m at the turning point now, where things get more intense, more real for them. Alex is learning things he didn’t know, and Spencer is showing his true colors…or rather, Alex is seeing them in a way he never did. This story, which I was certain I couldn’t write because of the way I set things up, is flowing. It feels so good, and since I love these guys a ton, I’m even more excited to get their story on the page.

And I lined up an editor. And I’ll soon be dropping a query about a cover. And if all goes according to plan, Something Like Want will be available at the end of October.

Book News

Some of you have been wondering about the next book in the Something Like series. A few of you have even asked if Alex and Spencer would get their story. And I’ve said yes from the beginning. I always intended to write Something Like Want, have had the premise set since I was writing Trust. There was a reason I dropped them in Peace, introduced them to the world, because when I wrote their book next, I wanted everyone to know they existed and want to read their story. I was excited about it, as I am the whole series, and I wanted to tell their story.

But it’s been eight months now since I finished writing Peace and the book hasn’t been written. Because stuff happened.

I don’t want to make any excuses but I would like to explain some of what’s kept me from writing it.

Right off the bat, I had a little series burn out. I’d written the first three pretty much back to back, with a few week breaks in between and a little time out during writing Peace to write Love at Roades End. So I definitely needed to take a bit of time off before I started work on the next book. I got hit with the new story idea for a holiday novella, and I wrote His Needs during the winter months, and that helped some.

So after taking the needed break, I tried to tackle Want. But I had several false starts. I changed the POV character, I rearranged plot points, I tried different things to get it going. The story wasn’t jibing, and I blamed it on the mojo. I didn’t have the right headspace to write, and I was having trouble with the story because of it. In the meantime, while I couldn’t make the story go, I had some stuff happen in my personal life. Family drama and worry, combined with some health issues of my own, and I kept telling myself it was okay to stay on the writing break. That it wasn’t working because I just couldn’t do it at the moment. What I did manage to write was Love and Cupcakes, a short story filled with sweet fluffy and sexy best friends and it was pure indulgence on my part. But it felt good to be writing again, though it was two months ago now. Especially because after receiving the prompt, the story just unfurled before me and flowed as I wrote it.

Not to mention the publisher for the series closing down right after releasing Peace. That whole thing was anxiety inducing and it definitely messed with the series mojo.

I’ll be honest and admit that I’ve had the thought many time over the past eight months that perhaps, just maybe, I shouldn’t even write the story. That I should just let it go, because the plot wasn’t working at all, and there were certain aspects I needed to include because of the way I set it up. Writer’s doubt has been high with this one, because I just couldn’t get the story to go. But it seemed like fate wants Alex and Spencer to get their story, because every time I was honestly ready to just throw in the towel, someone would contact me and ask about these guys, and I would have a renewed energy where they were concerned.

Even if I still couldn’t get their story to go.

This whole time, they’ve been in the back of my head. Not working but there. Which was frustrating and comforting at the same time. And while I wasn’t writing their story, I wasn’t writing anything else either. Long gaps of time without words on the page. The aforementioned reasons definitely played a part, but I was having serious trouble. And I had no idea to fix it.

Just the other day, a reader once again asked about Alex and Spencer, and I answered honestly that I intended to write their story. And then they were once again in my brain, but this time…oh this time, writer’s brain actually worked. They were kind of hanging out there, like a constantly running background program, when suddenly, in a flash of inspiration, I saw the plot point that needed to change. The biggest problem with getting the story to take off was that the beginning was all wrong, only I didn’t know it. And I’m a linear writer. I have to start with word one and write all the way through. So even though I often come up with plot points in a random order, when I’m actually writing, it has to be in order. Since the beginning wasn’t working, I was at a loss for writing the story. But then, with that moment, when I saw the change that would make it right, everything started to flow. Start the story at a different point, change the thing to something else, and the rest of the story all fell into place.

I was able to write my rough outline in just over an hour the other morning. When I was done, I felt so much happier about the story. Excited again. In a way I hadn’t felt about the idea since I’d first conceived of it back in the early stages during a late night conversation with the best friend. I finally, finally, had the plot for the story and I was thrilled.

And then, lo and behold, I actually started writing it. I’ve made real progress on it. It feels awesome. And I’m loving it.

So Want is my focus right now. And I’ll work as fast as I can to get it done and out there for all of you who are waiting for it. I’m not going give any deadlines or estimates on release yet, but I’m working to make it as soon as possible. Watch this space for news!

And thank you to everyone who has stuck by me, and who has been waiting for this one.

Release Day Flash Fic Friday

**The Something Like books are back on the shelves and available for purchase! A great big thanks to everyone who has already picked them up. If you haven’t and want to, buy links at the end of the post. But in the meantime, enjoy a flash fic featuring the boys. Dan had a story to tell, and it’s NSFW, but the guys from the other books make cameos. I hope you enjoy!**

For thirty-two days, the house had been filled to the brim. There hadn’t been a moments peace in over a month. But now, we were finished shooting, the wrap party was over, and the cast and crew were all gone. Well, Aaron had driven out to join Lucas yesterday, and Brandon and Jared decided to stick around for a bit and have some time together. They’d all given up their rooms at the inn and had moved into guest rooms in Vincent’s house for their impromptu vacations. Vincent was happy to have them, having gotten to know them better over the course of shooting. I just wanted our solitude back. And for the evening, while our guests were out, we had it.

Which was why I was currently sated, sore, and sticky, and my boyfriend’s softening cock was still lodged in my ass.

The sun room was my favorite place in the whole house, and Vincent loved to work out there. So as soon as our guests had left, I knew exactly where to find him. And I knew what would happen when I walked out there completely naked. He’d ravaged me, exactly what I needed, and now I rested against him, my cheek pillowed on his shoulder. It was sort of thrillingly sexy he’d only gotten undressed enough to get his dick out while I was completely bare.

Vincent held me tightly to him, one hand rubbing up and down my back, the other touching the rim of my hole where his cock was still stretching me. I shuddered and settled into the touch. One of the first things Vincent had taught me was how much I loved ass play, and having him touch me even when I was pleasantly sore and filled with his cum was one of my favorite things. Sometimes he fingered me afterwards for a long time, until I was once again hard and begging him to fuck me. We didn’t have that kind of time tonight, but I still liked him touching me there. That was one of our things, and it helped me to feel grounded in us.

It had only been two days since we admitted our love for each other. And we’d had very little time to just be.

“Love you,” Vincent murmured in my hair then kissed my temple. It was like he could read my mind. Sometimes, I honestly thought he could.

I snuggled in deeper, something a man of my height shouldn’t really be able to do. “Me too. Love you.” I sighed contentedly.

“That’s sweet, but are you two done fucking? Can you let us in?”

I jerked at the sound of Aaron’s voice, and bristled at the amusement there, but Vincent held me fast against him so I couldn’t move.

“Thought you were going to a double feature at the Blue Fox Drive-In?” he asked mildly.

“Ugh,” Aaron said, and from his tone I could practically imagine the disgust on his face. “The second movie was some horrible thing about genius babies. We left after the first five minutes. Really, can you open the door?”

“Go away. I’ll come open the front door in a minute.” Vincent was using his director voice and I heard Aaron scurry away. There was no way he was going to ignore that voice. None of us could. We were too ingrained to listen.

“If I were ten years younger,” I grumbled, slowly sitting up. I tried not to moan at the loss of his dick. “I’d be blushing with embarrassment.”

“Thank god you’re too old for that.” Vincent wrapped a hand gently around my neck and pulled me forward to kiss me soundly before he let me go. I was breathing heavily, and Vincent just grinned his wicked smile. “Wrap up in that afghan and go clean up, while I let the jackasses back in.”

I could tell by his affectionate tone he didn’t really mean it. I knew he was glad they were here. I was too. Not the getting caught freshly fucked part, of course. But having the people I was closest to here with me while we took some time off was really nice. I kissed Vincent again, then did as he said.

***

By the time I reemerged, Vincent had pulled the blackout curtains over the picture window so no ambient light could come in, and lowered the movie screen that hung over his fireplace. Brandon was in Jared’s lap on the loveseat, and Aaron was stretched out on the couch with his head on Lucas’s thigh. Lucas was running his fingers over Aaron’s short hair and smiling softly.

Vincent had pushed the ottoman up against his overstuffed chair, and he’d splayed his legs so there was no doubt whatsoever where I was supposed to sit. I’d gotten used to being open with my affection over the last few weeks, and I didn’t hesitate to do just that, leaning back into Vincent’s strong chest. I laid my head over his heart, listening to its steady thump, and loving the sound more than I could say.

I smiled as the movie started playing, a classic John Wayne film that not one of us could find fault with. I settled in, and released a soft sigh of contentment. Wrapped up in Vincent’s arms was where I always wanted to be, and it was made all the better by sharing it with the other guys. Lucas was my closest friend, and Aaron and I had a bond that went deep. I’d gotten to know Brandon when he guest starred on the show, but even more so, and Jared too, while we’d shot the film. Having them all here filled me with a sense of peace I couldn’t explain.

I didn’t try to. I just turned my head so I could kiss my boyfriend’s chest, right over his strong heart, and then relaxed into it. Love, friendship, and peace were all I needed.

Something Like Hope: Amazon or ARe

Something Like Trust: Amazon or ARe

Something Like Peace: Amazon or ARe