Almost there …

waiting anxiously for a new story :-)

I’m still running behind schedule, but today I posted the synopsis for First Love, First Time. You can access it by clicking the link or from the drop-down menu above where you’ll find it as a sub-heading under The Liberation Anthology.

I’ll be posting the first chapter of this new story a week from today.

As written, First Love, First Time is a standalone tale. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end; if you as a reader choose, you can read it once and be done with the story. However, the story could also continue at a later time depending upon your reaction to it.

If you enjoy it and would like to see it continue and you are willing to engage with me to make that happen, it may continue. But that’s partly up to you because the story will only continue if you’re willing to share your own ideas and suggestions for how it should and I buy into what you’re suggesting.

As you’ll see once you begin reading it a week from tonight, the chapters I’ll be sharing with you in coming weeks are labelled Part I. That raises an obvious question. Where are the remaining parts?

The honest answer is that they don’t exist at the present time. They haven’t been written or even imagined. But they could be out there somewhere in the mind of someone reading Part I.

First Love, First Time is set in 1973 and has a main character and two major secondary characters, all of whom you’ll know reasonably well by the time Part I of the story concludes. As you read the story, you’ll also be introduced to some other, less well developed, characters.

All of the characters in the story were born before 1973; being young, it seems possible, even likely, they’ll live for many years after 1973 and watch as the gay liberation movement in America takes root and grows. That’s where you come in.

How did these characters become the people we first glimpse in 1973? If you want, the story can move back in time and explain how that happened for one or more of them. Alternatively, you can try to answer different questions.

What happened to them in later years? Did the gay liberation movement affect their lives one way or another; if so, how? Did they meet people not yet introduced in the story? If so, who are those people and why are they important?

Or did they live through events in future years that did affect them, say 9/11 for example? What events and how were they affected?

The answer to these questions and others is somewhere inside you the reader if you want them to be. If you’re interested in helping develop further parts of this story after reading it, please stay tuned as I’ll have more to say about how you can do so after we’ve finished Part I.

For now just sit back and enjoy the story and think about how you feel about the characters as you meet them and what you would do with them if you were the author. Later on I’ll share the cast of characters with you along with some tips and suggestions about how you could participate in the story’s future development.

Like I said, it’s an experiment and probably a more difficult one than I currently envisage. How it turns out depends on you at least as much as it does on me.

In any event, I hope you’ll come back a week from today to read Chapter 1 of a story I’m actually quite excited about. Even if it doesn’t continue, I’ll be satisfied with the story as currently written. I hope you will be as well, but you’ll only know for sure if you come back next week and read Chapter 1.

See you then.

Happy New Year …

hny16

Wow!

Hard as it is to believe, still another year has come and gone. None of us are younger or better looking, but the changes are small and perhaps more than well compensated for by having grown in wisdom this year; at least I hope that’s the case.

2015 was a good year for me in many ways. I got back into writing stories and posting online and that allowed me to renew some old friendships from days past. I struggled a bit with the story I shared with you, but your support and encouragement kept me going.

Thanks!

I hope 2015 was a good year for you and your loved ones. Hopefully 2016 will be even better for all of us.

I’m not actually here at the moment because I’m looking forward to celebrating the new year’s arrival big time later this evening. But I am thinking about all of you. And while the words remain pretty much the same from year to year, they come from the heart nonetheless.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, have fun welcoming the new year in!

Just be sure to be safe about it! Like I’ve said before, my audience is a small one and I can’t afford for any of you to end up in a hospital or worse.

That said, be sure to give all the boys you meet a kiss from me and break their hearts with your smile! Have fun, be safe, and come back for the new stories 2016 will bring once all the festivities are over :-D

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

We’re Mobile Friendly …

Likes to live dangerously and doesn't care what you think :-)

Well here it is Christmas morning and all the toys have been unwrapped at last. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I got more than I deserved :-D

Merry Christmas everyone!

So now we have to fill up the rest of the day and here I am with my default activity when I have nothing better to do. I’ve told you before that I’m not much of a blogger and that point was driven home to me recently when I discovered some settings buried deep within the recesses of the WordPress dashboard.

But perhaps a few words of background will help you better understand what I’m talking about.

It’s hard to believe, but I actually first opened this site back in June 2011. Here’s a link to what I think was my very first post.

Back then everything on WordPress seemed new and difficult, but from the very beginning I did everything on my desktop computer. Whether writing a chapter for one of my stories or a post for one of my sites, it was always just easier to use a computer with a large monitor and a separate keyboard that could stand up to the pounding I give it.

I’m still using the same computer and monitor by the way. Not surprisingly, I suppose, I tried to design my web sites in a way that would look good on that large monitor. I’ve used a variety of themes and added different menus, widgets and gadgets to the sites over the years, but the reason for the blog has never changed.

I love writing! And I needed a place to post the stories I wrote.

But I happened to be reading a story about a week or ten days ago about how up to fifty percent of people access the internet through a tablet or smartphone, not a desktop computer. I don’t know whether that’s true, but it’s a pretty astonishing figure and made me wonder how my sites looked on those devices.

I had used an iPad to view the site over the years and it looked fine, but I had never used a smartphone. The truth is I’m kind of like Sean rather than Holden when it comes to phones. I own an older (hence cheaper) Android Tracfone, one where I have to keep track of my data usage, messages, and minutes.

That being the case, I had never actually tried to access these sites on my phone.

So now you know I’m not especially well-off financially, which is okay. It doesn’t bother me. But when I did finally get around to looking at my sites on the phone, I wasn’t entirely pleased. It turns out that the new theme I’m using at The Annex is actually mobile-friendly, but the old theme I use at the Café wasn’t.

To make a long story short, I went searching and found that WordPress does have settings that help in this regard. They were turned off by default, but I’ve turned them on and now both sites look much better on a phone.

To enhance the experience even more, I’m planning to go back and add links at the end of each chapter in the rest of my stories like I’ve already done with two of them. That will make it easier to move from one chapter to the next. So there’s some encouragement right there to go back and read all of my stories again!

I’m not sure what I’ll do with new stories. I can’t link you to a chapter that hasn’t been posted already so I’ll have to go back and add links to the older chapters after I’ve posted a new one.

Whether I’ll do that immediately or wait until I’ve finished a story completely remains to be seen, but feel free to weigh in on that by leaving a comment.

I still believe this site looks better when viewed on the larger monitors that typically come with desktop computers. But if you’re in a pinch and have to use a phone, you’ll find reading chapters or posts a lot easier now; and you’ll also find moving around both sites on a smartphone easier now as well using the menus.

You’ll have to scroll all the way down to get to the galleries though. But, hey, that will be good for your thumb :-D

By the way, you should definitely visit the other one of my sites as I have a different picture of that boy with his cellphone living dangerously up above. I love both of those pics.

None of this is money in the bank, of course, but it’s something.

I’m off now to visit some friends and see what toys Santa brought them. I apologize for interrupting your holiday with my compulsion, but I hope the rest of your Christmas is festive and merry :-D

Site Changes …

Change is good :-)

I’ve made some changes at The Annex this weekend. They’re not especially dramatic because the theme I switched to is fairly similar to the theme I had been using. But the page header will look better if and when I eventually end up adding a second line of stories to the menu at the top of the page.

Although the changes are mostly subtle, I think they’ll be helpful to you. Wherever you are on the site, for example, you can always get back to the main page by clicking on the Home button in the top menu; and as you move around the site, it will also be easier to know where you are.

If you click on the Connected heading in the top menu, for example, you’ll be moved to that page and the top menu will highlight the actual page you’re on in a darker black color. If you then click on one of the chapters, that will also be highlighted in black as well.

In other words, you’ll have a better sense of where you are on the site at any given time as well as an easier way to get back to the main page.

In still another change I’ve added a new placeholder, Holiday Tales, to the main menu at the top of the page and moved With Apologies Mr. Dickens and Stuffed to sub-menus under that heading.

I also edited the chapters under those two stories so you can move to the next chapter easily just by clicking on a link when you reach the end of the chapter you’re reading. That change will mostly benefit new readers, not those of you who have already read the stories.

Moving those two stories under the Holiday Tales link freed up some space on the top menu for now. The Liberation Anthology link in the top menu will work the same way once I start adding a synopsis and chapters for the two stories planned for 2016.

I debated whether I should eliminate the links that run down the right side of the page (under the Read One Of My Stories heading) that provide an alternative second way to reach any story or chapter, but I’m going to leave them for now as some people find it difficult to access specific chapters through the top menu on their iPads or tablets.

I’ve made a few other small changes at The Annex as well, but I think the site still looks pretty familiar.

I’ve also updated the About page at the main site and fixed some other problems I discovered there. I’ve decided to continue using the old theme for now at the main portion of this blog. For one thing, you’ll be able to compare the two sites and let me know if you have a preference one way or the other. It will also make it a little easier to be sure which site you’re on.

Finally I added a few new pictures to the Galleries at both sites.

I realize most of you aren’t terribly interested in any of this, but hopefully it shows I’m constantly looking for ways to make your experience on both of these sites a better one.

Coming in 2016

It won't be that bad :-)

To come straight to the point, I have two new stories on tap for 2016. Both are set in the 1970s and will be part of something I’m calling The Liberation Anthology.

As the name implies, the anthology is not a story itself. At best it’ll be a collection of stories about ordinary people growing up in America while the gay liberation movement unfolds around them. All of the stories will be fictional, but fiction informed by history; and yet they’re not intended to be historical fiction either.

There won’t be a story about Stonewall, for example, or what happened in 1969, at least not as presently conceived. But there could be a story that helps explain how we got to Stonewall; and there will definitely be stories about how Stonewall and what happened in its wake affected the lives of gay people.

To put it another way, I’m not trying to write a history of the gay liberation movement. But the stories that are part of the anthology may well reference real life people and events that shaped gay life in America for better or worse.

Don’t look for chronological consistency. I’m starting in the 1970s, but could jump forward or back in time if I continue with this project. There’s no guarantee I will, but I’ve been thinking about history lately and it’s hard not to recognize how important Stonewall was or how much has changed for the gay community in America since the riots there in 1969.

There have been bad times and good times since then; and yet sometimes I wonder whether our sense of community is disintegrating with each new success we achieve. We can get married now and raise families. We can live in the suburbs and let ourselves be assimilated, homogenized and blended into the larger culture.

The old days when gay folk dismissed marriage as a trap are seemingly over and done. The days when sex was valued as an end in itself, not the basis for loving, monogamous, and lifelong relationships, seem to be dying too … although perhaps more slowly if Craigslist and Grindr are any indication :-D

The desire for acceptability and respectability seems to be everywhere in our community these days, but the question remains. Will we still have a community twenty years from now?

Perhaps these are the musings of someone with too romantic a view of what it was like to be gay at the beginning of the revolution many years ago; someone who was never entrapped by the police, fired for just being gay, ostracized by family and friends, or trapped in a merry-go-round of sexual escapades that led nowhere.

It’s impossible to go back in time to see what things were like decades ago, but I wanted to give it a try. The tougher question was where to begin? There’s so much territory to cover; and while Stonewall may provide a logical starting point, I’m really not interested in writing history. I won’t even bore you with another recounting of what happened at Stonewall.

If asked, however, everyone will tell you Stonewall was the single most important event leading to the rise of the gay liberation movement in America. And yet the importance of what happened at Stonewall was less well understood within our community at the time.

There wasn’t a neon sign in rainbow colors screaming the revolution has begun; at least that’s what I’ve been told by some of the older men I know who were alive back then.

In the years that followed Stonewall, gay people reacted in different ways. Some came out of the closet while others burrowed their way in deeper still. Some became political activists, often sacrificing personal lives in the process. Others became pleasure seekers, drag queens, or leather men (among other things) depending upon their personal inclination.

To put it more simply, the revolution spawned a rich cast of characters and they’re the ones I’m interested in exploring in these stories. I am especially fascinated by the people the revolution passed by, those anonymous souls we never hear about in all the celebrating going on today.

Hounded by personal demons, disconnected from the larger movement taking place around them, these are the people who never lived to see the revolution succeed or never benefited from its success.

In sum, how people responded emotionally and psychologically to being gay in the wake of Stonewall is the subject of the stories to be told in The Liberation Anthology.

Or at least that’s what the subject will be in my imagination :-)

In reality it may be something far less. But you have to start somewhere and I’m planning to start with two new stories next year.

Both will be standalone stories. They’ll have a beginning, middle and end. You’ll be able to read and enjoy them hopefully and then set them aside without further thought being required. Collectively, however, I hope they’ll add up to something more.

As mentioned, both of the stories are set in the 1970s not too long after the events at Stonewall. If asked, however, some of the main characters in the stories wouldn’t even know something called Stonewall had happened, let alone what it meant.

The first and shorter of the stories starts in 1973 and ends there as well, at least for now; but it’s going to be an experimental story and that could change if you want. The longer story begins in 1971 and seemingly ends about a decade later. But it could also continue if that’s what you want.

None of the characters in the two stories know one another, at least not as presently envisioned, although I suppose even that could change. For now, however, they live at the same time, but their paths never cross; and yet all of them are affected by events going on around them one way or another.

Like I said, only time will tell where this project goes.

I’ll have more to say about the two stories later, but for now I wanted to let you know I’m planning to take much of January off. Partly I need a break and partly I need some time to reorganize the site for this new project. If you haven’t noticed, I’m running out of space for story titles at the top of the site so I may be grouping some together to provide more room if possible.

As I experiment with the site over the course of the next four to six weeks you may get some notifications I’ve posted something new. I may have, but I may just be experimenting as well so you’ll have to humor me. In any event, once I’ve redesigned the site, I plan to begin one of the two new stories on or around February 15, 2016.

At some point as well I’ll post a synopsis for that story, which I’m tentatively calling First Love, First Time. I’ll probably also send out an e-mail notice announcing the story and when I plan to start posting it at some point as well.

If you’re not on my mailing list but want to get that notice, e-mail me and I’ll add you to it. As people on the list can attest, I only use the list to announce new stories and won’t share your information with anyone else. But you can just check back periodically if you don’t want to share your info.

That’s it for now.

I hope your holidays will be happy and the New Year will bring many blessings to you and your loved ones. Thanks for reading my stories and be sure to come back for two more next year.

Chapter 20

Indeed ...

And so we come to the end of another story. That’s always sad for me in some ways, but there does come a point when you have to let go of your characters and give them the freedom to find their own way in the world.

This is a story I struggled with more than any other I’ve written so there is a positive side to this ending for me; but since every ending is just a beginning in disguise, all of us can spend an occasional moment or two over the holidays wondering what happened to Sean and Holden after this chapter ends.

That’s true for all the characters in a story, of course. What happened to Kevin and Bobby or even to Roger for that matter? Did the kiosk manage to survive changing times? Was Warren able to keep his hands to himself?

And what about Professor Jeffords? He’s old now and could leave us at any time. You have to wonder what happened all those years in between when we first met him teaching at Williams College and where we end up leaving him tonight.

Did he ever find love in his life? Is he gay? Or did teaching provide all the love he needed?

That’s the fun part of writing for me. There are so many characters and so many possibilities. But if you’ve read all my stories you know I tend to be focused on boys and young men of a certain age; adolescents and young adults just coming of age and struggling to come to grips with their sexuality.

There’s a reason for that, of course, but I’m not going to go there tonight :-D

In some ways the last two chapters have been a living hell for both Holden and Sean. Roger’s cruelty was all too apparent in the way he toyed with Holden before finally revealing what he wanted in exchange for keeping silent about Sean’s drug-dealing past.

Sitting alone next to Holden’s door in Wigglesworth, Sean wondered for hours whether he had lost Holden because of his difficulty saying the magical words; or perhaps because of that old bugaboo that boys and young men who are gay tend to struggle with.

Am I man enough?

In the end Holden came to Sean’s rescue, arriving back at his room in the early hours of Thursday morning after struggling for hours with Roger’s proposition.

Finding Sean on his doorstep, he quickly made it clear he wasn’t dumping Sean. In turn, knowing how much he loved Holden and now able to share that with him at last, Sean helped Holden resolve his dilemma. Even if it meant not getting into Harvard, Sean didn’t want Holden to do something wrong like having sex with Roger to buy his silence.

The boys sealed their love once again that evening. But in the morning Holden pointed out that Professor Jeffords was about to get blindsided unless they told him the truth about Sean’s past. Sean agreed and a meeting was set up for later that evening.

On his way to Wigglesworth at the end of the day, Sean finally came to grips with the realization he wasn’t going to get what he wanted; a chance to go to Harvard. He could have been devastated by that and indeed he was disappointed, no doubt about it.

And yet, staring at the words above the Dexter Gate, he also realized that he had grown in wisdom just by recognizing it was his own fault; and also by reminding himself what could have happened if Holden had never opened his door and he had ended up in jail instead.

We pick up the story tonight with Sean having entered the Yard and heading for Wigglesworth.

Tim mentioned in his comment on the last chapter that he could have lived with that being the final one. The more I thought about that, the more I realized what a great compliment that was. And I do think he’s right.

If I had been run over by a car this week and didn’t survive and thus couldn’t bring you this final chapter, I think I would died comfortable with the story ending at Chapter 19.

But it doesn’t end there and I hope tonight’s final chapter will tie up all the loose ends in a way you find satisfactory. It’s another long chapter so be sure you’re well fortified before taking it on.

Even knowing how much I struggled with this story and how grateful I am to be done with it in some ways, I found myself shedding a tear or two as I wrote those final two words with which all stories must end.

In any event, have fun reading and be sure to come back on Thursday because I am going to post a bit more about what’s in store for 2016. I think it’ll be a good year for story telling, but you can never be certain until it’s over and done.

But unlike when I first started posting this story earlier this year, I am looking forward to 2016.

Thank you for reading my story and for all your encouragement and support. It’s sustained me through some difficult times with this story and I appreciate it very much.

Chapter 19

Veritas indeed :-)

I don’t think you’ll like tonight’s chapter very much and I won’t blame you if you don’t. It’s one of the better illustrations why I feel so ambivalent about The Opened Door.

Sitting between last week’s unfolding of Roger’s dastardly plot and next week’s grand finale, it just seems to occupy space without doing very much.

It’s not that I absolutely hate the chapter, but I don’t like it especially either. It’s more than just meh. It’s . . .

sorry about that ...

It does make some points I wanted to make, i.e., that love, particularly young love that has not taken firm root, is very fragile indeed; that sometimes we worry about things so much we twist ourselves into knots of our own making; and that ultimately the story shouldn’t be about what kind of person Roger is.

We already know from last week’s chapter that Roger is twisted and sick. Tonight’s chapter was to be a counterpoise to that; at least that’s what it was supposed to be in my imagination. It would show us what kind of people Sean and Holden are and heighten our appreciation for what a loving relationship can be.

All good points and well worth making. Unfortunately, I don’t make them very well in the chapter. Indeed, it goes on too long in its effort to sledgehammer what are essentially simple points into your heads. So, yeah, I am disappointed with the chapter.

Part of the problem has to do with the previous chapter. It was much too long to add even a slimmed down version of this one to; and the next chapter is longer than usual as well. Adding this one to our grand finale would have slowed down the pace of that chapter considerably.

In the end, I was left with two choices. I could dump this chapter completely, which I probably should have done, or could leave it in and beg for your mercy; which is what I’m actually doing right now.

On a happier note, you’re going to get a chance to see some of what I actually did excise from The Opened Door in my next story, which I’ll have more to say about in January. For now I’ll just say that at some point I recognized I needed to cut out a lot of stuff if I was ever going to make this story work.

So I cut out a bunch of chapters and turned them into an entirely separate story, one I actually like better than The Opened Door (although only time will tell whether you share that assessment). But I probably should have cut even more, including this chapter.

In any event, enough with the self-flagellation; didn’t know I was a masochist, did you :-D

In last week’s chapter Sean and Holden finally got it on in a new and more intimate way; so much so that Holden finally figured out he didn’t need to keep a journal anymore.

Unfortunately, Holden ran into Roger after breakfast. By the way, is it just me or has Roger been stalking Holden all this time? I mean, on a campus as large as Harvard, why is it that Roger is always running into Holden unless he’s stalking the dude?

Be that as it may, Roger informed Holden there might be a problem with Sean’s petition, one that would cause Harvard’s Board of Governors to reject it.

He didn’t spell out the details, instead suggesting Holden stop by his room in an hour to find out what the problem was. But Roger wasn’t there when Holden arrived. Indeed, he kept Holden waiting all day before finally revealing what was up.

Apparently what was up was something between Roger’s hips as it quickly became apparent he was determined to copulate with Holden; so much so that he made that his condition for not revealing to the Board that Sean used to sell marijuana on campus.

Stunned by the news, we left Holden wandering the streets of Cambridge, convinced he had little choice except to have sex with Roger if he wanted Sean to be admitted to Harvard. We pick up our story this week with Sean maintaining a lonely vigil outside Holden’s door in Wigglesworth.

To the extent you can, have fun reading and be sure to be gentle in upbraiding me for keeping you waiting for the final resolution next week. I added some pics to both galleries over the weekend in an effort to appease your ire :-D

In any event, hopefully you’ll enjoy the outcome of the story, if not the wait.

Stuffed: An Epilogue

Santa arrives ... but he needs your help

Much to the delight of the children in attendance, the annual Macy’s Day Thanksgiving parade in New York City traditionally ends with the arrival of Santa Claus. In that way we usher Thanksgiving out and welcome the Christmas season in.

As I’ve mentioned before, I wrote Stuffed for many reasons. One was to brighten your holidays and I hope the story did that in some small way. But the holidays are not happy for everyone.

No one know for sure, but there are hundreds of thousands of homeless and runaway youths in the United States and still more abroad. Within that population are many young people like Woody who identify as members of our community, the LGBTQ community.

I’ve written about this many times before and I won’t belabor the point. My message today is a simple one. They need our help.

There are many ways you can help, of course; by volunteering with organizations in your community that work to assist the homeless and runaways. You can also help by making a contribution to organizations doing their best to help.

I’ll mention four organizations that directly help runaway and homeless youth that I believe are worthy of your financial support: the Trevor Project, StandUp for Kids, the GLBT National Help Center, and the National Runaway Safeline.

Since another story of mine, The Opened Door, is focused on college youth, I’ll mention two others well worth your consideration: the Point Foundation, America’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students of merit, and CampusPride, a volunteer-driven network for and by student leaders working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students

Not sure they’re the right organizations for you? There are sites like Charity Navigator and JustGive that can help you identify the right charity for you and others like the Network for Good that will allow you to contribute anonymously if that’s your preference.

I’m less familiar with organizations in other countries, but I’m sure you can find them if you look. And you should look because there’s a lot at stake and helping someone young to address the challenges they face is one of the most satisfying things you’ll ever do.

And by the way, feel free to share your favorite charities that help young people, including LGBTQ youth, by leaving a comment on this post.

Christmas is a special season indeed and I hope you’ll do something to make it better for those in need, especially those like Woody who are young, abandoned, and far from home at the holidays.

Thanks for whatever you can do.

Chapter 18

filtered but inviting and clickable nonetheless :-)

We have a longer chapter than usual this week so I’ll try to keep this introduction brief. Last week Sean confronted Tony and Warren about how they were treating him. Having assessed both the men and the situations correctly, he walked away the victor in their confrontations.

During his break Sean also learned Holden had delivered his petition for admission to Professor Jeffords and that everything was in order. Holden also mentioned his encounter with Roger and how Roger still wanted to apologize to Sean.

Later, on his way to Wigglesworth at the end of the day, Sean ran into Roger. Roger congratulated him on his good fortune. Eventually he asked whether Sean could sell him some marijuana, but Sean explained he was no longer dealing.

Not easily deterred, Roger continued to press the matter. In the end, Sean agreed to ask Holden whether he was willing to give the bag of pot Sean had sold him to Roger as a gift.

As I said, this week’s chapter is longer than usual so be sure to get comfortable before you take it on. Unlike some others, this chapter requires your full attention. Among other things, we’ll finally find out whether Roger is as bad as everyone seems to think. I’m rooting for a surprise myself, but only time will tell.

I’ll have a postscript to Stuffed on Thursday so be sure to come back for that; and it looks like we’ll finish up with The Opened Door before Christmas. Once we do I’ll try to give you some idea of what my plans are for the coming year.

Have fun reading and be sure to let me know what you think.