Sonnet 23: As An Unperfect Actor

William Shakespeare

As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put beside his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s rite,
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay,
O’ercharg’d with burthen of mine own love’s might.
O! let my looks be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
More than that tongue that more hath more express’d.
   O! learn to read what silent love hath writ:
   To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.

 

This is another Shakespeare that’s been adapted by Rufus Wainwright (also fuckin’ awesome) and one that sums up my entire feelings on love and the difficulty expressing it.

Willy does a nifty thing here, by breaking up his metaphors.  The opening image is of an actor who fails to stay in character because of his fear and lack of practice. I guess even in Shakespeare’s day, people felt pressured to act and behave in particular way and something as world altering as love, throws off all out easy habits and forces us into new roles. The same langue of theater is used a few lines down in “so, I for fear of trust, forget to say, the prefect ceremony of love’s rite.” I’m not sure if the fear of trust means this actor does not trust himself, will not be trusted by his would-be lover, or that this poet fear to trust the would-be lover with the confession of his passion.  Knowing Shakespeare, it could mean all three. He’s cool that way.

The second image from the third line, that fierce thing who’s own strength weakens his heart is so familiar to me. The image conjures an animal who’s lost control and in trying to express his passions does it too forcefully and destroys his own cause. That metaphor is picked up again in line 7 with “And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay, O’ercharg’d with the burden of my own love’s might.” This beast is burdened by the un-confessed love and decaying with that secret.

This interspersed metaphors serve to undercut the next section of the poem. The poet, in his writing, cannot keep his ideas straight, and yet he pleads for his books, his written words to express his love clearly.

At the final turning of the sonnet, he writes “Oh, learn to read what silent love hath writ: to hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.” The poet surrenders to his love, knowing that he cannot use his own voice or his own written words to express his devotion.  He has to appeal to the lover to learn a new way of understanding, to look beyond his muttering and his roaring to hear “love’s fine wit.”

 

ARe Best Seller

So I got this in my inbox today:

Congratulations!

Dark Captive: Manlove Edition has just hit the Allromance.com Bestseller List!

You can check out all of the Allromance.com Bestsellers here: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/bestsellers.html.

Sincerely,

All Romance eBooks

BestsellerIcon100X100-1

They also gave me this icon to use to proudly display the fact that I am now at least 1/6th a best selling author!

 

Sonnet 40: Take all my loves

William Shakespeare

Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all:
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call—
All mine was thine before thou hadst this more.
Then if for my love thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest;
But yet be blamed if thou this self deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robb’ry, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty;
And yet love knows it is a greater grief
To bear love’s wrong than hate’s known injury.
    Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,
    Kill me with spites, yet we must not be foes.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 40 is one of my favorites, not only because my favorite musician Rufus Wainwright used the lyrics in a song (though this song is fuckin’ awesome and certainly doesn’t hurt), but because it’s one of the most sensual.

The key to this one is understanding the double meaning of the word “love.” I first picked up on this here, “Then if for my love, thou my love recievest, I cannot blame thee for my love thou usest.” This idea translates, roughly, ‘I love you, so I won’t blame you if we have sex.’ Hot.

This cast a new light for me on the first four lines and made me realize that when the bard says, “take all my love,” he does mean All. In this poem “love” is not only from the heart, but from the body.  This makes the first fours lines mean, roughly speaking, “once we fuck will you have more love than you started with? No, because I already had all my love and pretty damn truly.”

The poet immediately forgives the gentle thief for taking all his ability to love, even though, he does not trust his love. He fears that the object of his affection will deceive him with another by willfully tasting what “thyself refusest” and he readily admits that this lover can hurt him more than any enemy.

My favorite line of the poem is “lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows/ Kill me with spites, yet we must not be foes.” This poet’s self-awareness astonishes me. He knows he’s in love with a bad person. His lover is someone who kills him with spites and the poet, depending on how a reader interprets “ill well shows”, is either painfully aware that his lover’s darkness is plainly visible or he’s so blinded by love that the bad appears to be good. For all those warning signs, this poet knows he cannot look at his lover as an enemy.

It’s actually not a very healthy relationship…

Here’s Rufus’s song:

Behind the Scenes: Evasive Love

evasivelove_9781419945793_msrEvasive Love is my first erotic sci-fi novel to be published. It was released on Oct. 2nd 2013 by Ellora’s Cave and I just got the rights back!

The story is about a bounty hunter who falls in love with his mark and that has been the plot line for over ten years. That’s really the only thing that hasn’t changed since 2003 when I started writing it.

Idea

When I was in high school, I was a campy fool. The biggest proof of this is a novel I wrote called “American Dreams.” This was maybe my third or fourth novel and since I was under 18 and writing about sex it was complete shit. Some bits were salvageable (there’s a particularly nice scene in a basement/volex engine room which made it into Evasive), but some were laughable.

For example, Elliot, the criminal, was actually innocent in the original.  He was an English teacher who had fled Victorian England and it’s anti-gay laws to live in pre-colonial America ( the education system isn’t that bad, I’ll explain in a moment). Before he managed to flee, he married a lesbian who left him in America to adventure. She missed him before long, though, and hired a bounty hunter to get him. The hunter thought Elliot was a con artist and Elliot had no idea what was going on; he was just a horny kid. I mean, I was- I mean… He was conflicted! Yeah. That was my plot.

As it turned out, that story was incredibly important to my career as a writer. The fledgling world Elliot and Alik (the original bounty hunter) inhabited had debuted in a different mess of a novel, but their literal journey that these two took as they walked and fucked all the way up the east coast got me planing and thinking. This story was my first trek into world building and one of the things I hear most often praised in my workshops is my ability to build a world.

The World of the Sectors

For example, I “discovered” Alik was not Alex because the midwife was illiterate. Elliot sees a broken and decayed statue of liberty (I know it’s a cliche, but I couldn’t resist in the new novel, either). There’s even a museum in homage to the fall of America. It was not a mistake that had someone running away from the Victorian ages and into a land inhabited by Native Americans and 1930’s gangsters.

In the ten years after this first adventure in camp, I would build and mold the world of the sectors into the complex future society that you’ll find in Evasive Love and in the other stories that inhabit that same world. Some of my favorite sectors include, Albion, which is a society that combines American materialize and media obsession with Steampunk/Victorian sensibilities, Cirque, which is an anarchy of castes and clowns, and Dockside, which is a mobile fishing community with an accent that is a mix of Louisiana’s Cajun and Northeastern Maine.

First Draft Hunted

I always meant to return to American Dreams and make Elliot into a serious character, a real criminal. I thought it would be fun to explore the moral dilemmas of falling in love with someone you are sending to prison.

Apparently, so did the people at Ellora’s Cave. One day back in 2012, I’m thinking sometime in October, I was scanning contests and content calls when I saw Ellora’s Cave asking for a story of any heat level, any pairing, about bounty hunters. I was intrigued because I remembered the campy old thing I had written in high school. With no serious thoughts of being published, I started to write it.

With in two weeks I had a first draft. I edited, pared down, read and reread until the deadline for submissions came. I spent the week before the submission deadline, checking and double-checking the guidelines, my query letter, my blurb. I submitted it and moved on. I’ve been submitting and moving on for a while now. I wasn’t expecting much.

Then in January, I found out I wasn’t rejected.

Revision

Once I got over the dancing and shouting at Skype (Sweetness was across the ocean when I received the joyful news), I puzzled over the draft I had sent. The one complaint I was given was that the language and sex scenes were too mild.

I was floored by this. I’ve been publishing pornography since I was in college and I always thought the difference between a romance novel and pornography was the language. I had no trouble fixing that; now it’s got reviews about how hot it is.

For the next eight months, my editor and I struggled through the monster that became Evasive Love. I was stunned by the sheer amount of errors that I hadn’t caught, little things I never thought about, and how incredibly inflexible the human body actually is during sex (oh yeah I guess that does kinda sound like he’s wrapping his spine around Kavan… hum, better fix that).

Coming Out as Gay Erotica Writer

By far the hardest thing that came out of this novel (besides your dicks, you sick freaks ) is explaining to my friends and family what all my work has been for.  The inevitable question that comes after the statement, ‘I have a book coming out’ is ‘congratulations. What’s it about?’

I don’t think any other genre writer faces the potential embarrassment and judgment from that answer. Every writer faces criticism whether constructive of not, but few of us are actually risking revulsion with the answer. More than once I’ve muttered, “It’s a romantic sci-fi about a bounty hunter who falls in love with his mark” and quickly changed the subject to the writing process or anything else. I’ve never been so closeted. Yet, I can’t stand having something I’ve worked so hard for met with a sneer and a “Why would you want to write that?”

I have a lot more to write on the topic of shame and sex in America, the inequality given to romance and speculative fiction, and closets in general, but for now I’ll leave off with a very enthusiastic:

It’s a very explicit erotic science fiction romance about a bounty hunter who falls in love with the male criminal he’s after!

TodayEvasive Love Cover (5)
Here’s a thing I never knew about the publishing industry; they give the rights back.  I got Evasive Love back a few weeks ago, just in time for the new novel Uninvited Love. You can now purchase it directly from me here. I also gave it a new cover, because Evasive Love is not set in outer space.

Evasive Love Reveiwed

Evasive Love got reviewed on by Miranda Grissom from JoyfullyReveiwed.

Evasive Love by L. J. Longo
Published byEllora’s CaveGenres:MM, Science Fiction

One little moment in time, a mistake that wasn’t even his fault cost Kavan Griffiths his position on the Intersectoral Police force.  Working as a bounty hunter Kavan has more leeway these days, but he wants back in the ISP, so everything is on the right side of the law regardless of which sector he’s working in.

Kavan’s latest collar is wanted by two different sectors and so far nobody else has figured out where he fled to.  One Elliot Grayson is wanted for manufacturing illegal bacteria and he’s rumored to be the boyfriend of a drug kingpin, Rabid.

The man Kavan catches vehemently denies that he’s the criminal everyone is looking for.  So good at denial that Kavan begins to doubt he’s got the right guy.  Elliot may be wanted, yet Kavan begins to wonder if he’s truly guilty or is something deeper going on.  Getting involved with a collar is the last thing the bounty hunter needs if he wants his old career back.  There’s definitely more to Elliot’s criminal entanglement than meets the eye. But taking Elliot’s side may cost Kavan everything.

Dizzying twists and turns make Evasive Love a wild and crazy ride.  The story and characters are multi-layered, tiptoeing the line between honest and guilty.  A complex plotline with vibrant dialogue that’s sometimes snarky, other times humorous. Trying to follow Elliot’s thoughts at times is something else.  Excellent characters in a busy tale that never stops moving.  Enjoy Evasive Love.

So there you have it.  Enjoy Evasive Love here.

Behind the scene: Fair Deal

1onback.signedgettingthingsdoneIdea

 

This one is kinda nifty actually.

I am an avid read of postsecret.com, which you can get to by clicking on that secret to the left. Or just typing in postsecret.com, unless you’re lazy. Or lack the ability to type.

Postsecret is a brilliant website where people from all over the world send this guy, Frank Warren, their secrets on postcards, some are sad, some are funny, some are a bit creepy. But all of them make you think about the billions of other humans on this planet.

I discovered postsecret when I was in college and every once in a while I would come across a secret that made me think, “whoa, that would be a phenomenal story.”

So I took a bunch of those secrets and turned them into stories.

Revision

This is the only one that is worthwhile. One of the secrets is in Gloria’s confession that when she drives under the overpass she thinks all she has to do is not turn with the road and she will find some peace. There are others hidden in their between this man and woman. I’ve lost and cut out quite a few over the years, but that’s the one that haunts me.

One of the reasons why the other stories didn’t make it was that these secrets are so personal. I don’t want to take advantages of someone else’s suffering and turn it into what to me is a fine art, but to them is just something filthy. Something worthy of a post secret.

Of the actual story:

“A Fair Deal” or as it was originally titled “The Whore of Tuckerton” was a sort of post secret to myself for a while.

I don’t like writing from a woman’s point of view. I’m not sure why.  I feel uncomfortable and I don’t think I do it well, though no one has ever complained.

So for years I worked on this story, amused by it, saddened by it.  I think it’s one of my best, but I was afraid to show it to any of my workshop groups. The only reason I eventually did was because one of my friends caught me doodling a picture of a woman on a tractor and I couldn’t explain her away. That doodle is the cover by the way.

Read it here.

A Fair Deal cover

Behind the Scenes: Thug’s Night Off

Idea

Sweetness and I spend far too much time improvising various theater scenes, characters, and plays.  One of our least effective, but very funny skits was a clown routine involving a gay yoga instructor, Tristan, and a mob capo, named Joe Gianni. It’s a very silly skit.  For example, Joe doesn’t understand why vegans exist in this world (or how to pronounce the word), Tristan using the power of retail diagrams turns their Family into the most powerful in the city, mostly because the Don has dementia and thinks Tristan is his dead wife.

Here’s a sample of the dialogue:

Tristan: I’m performing an inventory to reduce Shrinkage.

Joe: Shrinkage? What the hell is that?

Tristan: Oh… it’s a retail word. It’s basically theft.

Joe: Theft?

Tristan: Basically

Joe: Basically theft?

Tristan: Yeah.

Joe: So why didn’t you just fuckin’ say theft?

Tristan: Because it’s…

Joe: Like if someone goes up to one of my drug dealers and shoots him and steals all his product. I’m not gonna call that something different. It’s fucking theft.

Tristan: Fine an inventory reduces fucking theft.

Joe: Are you mocking me?

Tristan: No. I was being sardonic.

Joe: Sardonic? Sar-fucking-donic? Do you know what I do to sar-fucking-donic hipsters, like you? I bend them into my favorite yoga position, which is horseshoe, then I kick them across the street so that they swing around that streetlamp with my shoe dangling from their hippy ass.

Tristan: That was oddly specific.

Joe: This inventory thing is a waste of my time.

Tristan: No it’s not. Shrink also accounts for free give-aways and employee discounts-

Joe: Free give-aways?  What are you saying? My boys are smoking the coffee?

Tristan: No, but some of my girls drink the coffee… the real coffee. Or put out too much milk and it goes bad, or drop a cookie. So not theft, but a disappearance of product without it being paid for.

Joe: If any of my product disappeared without it being paid for, there would be hell to pay.

Tristan: Oh yeah? How do you know?

Joe: What?

Tristan: If you don’t keep inventory how do you know how much of your product has been sold and how much has disappeared?

Joe: *takes a breath to answer then can’t…* I… I just do.

Tristan: You should keep inventory. You’d be amazed at your shrink. Business 101.

Joe: I don’t have any shrink.

Tristan: Johnny is standing on the corner selling his weed.  A pretty girl comes up and wants to buy.  Does he give her more because she’s pretty?  Does he bring a little to his friends so they can get high? Does he short change that asshole he doesn’t like?

Joe: Vinny, who’s this Johnny fucker stealing my drugs?

You get the idea.

One of the things that most tickled my funny bone, was Tristan’s burgeoning relationship with Vinny, the  big dumb soldier, who has a dream of becoming a masseuse and is very gentle with cavity searches. One evening, the tickle found it’s logical way out of my system and I wrote down this story.

Revision

I’m not as campy as I used to be.  I had written it about 15,000 words longer and included an actual first date, the sex in the backroom that leads to the first date, the continuation of the story from this point, etc. But the tone was all over the place. Sometimes, Tristan was in legitimate danger of being killed (by Vinny at Joe’s request) and other times there were ridiculous conversations like the one above. In the end, I hammered out the little story you see on the site and put the rest of that material in the proverbial storage shed with the hopes that one day my flash and camp will mature into something usable.

It worked with Evasive Love.

Thug's Night Off cover

You can read it here.

 

Behind the Scenes: Alien Abduction

Alien Abduction cover 2Idea

I’ll be honest, this is a silly story with a silly, silly beginning.  I was playing Sims 3 one night (I’m an obsessive Simmer) and one of my little doll men was abducted.  Gary just happened to be gay (does that surprise you?) and came back alien pregnant, which has nothing to do with his gayness really, but I like to link unrelated ideas together sometimes and abuse punctuation; it’s my prerogative as a writer and someone who knows a bit about grammar to create unnaturally long sentences that don’t necessarily makes sense and certainly should have ended long before that semicolon.

Anyways…I over-think things. While I was playing the game, raising the alien baby, I couldn’t help but wonder if Gary enjoyed his close encounter.  Was the baby a true parasite, attached to Gary’s belly, bursting forth ala John Hurt?  Or was this an illegitimate love child?  Was the other Dad ever going to make himself known?

Well, my car ended up flooding. Gary and Gary II were destroyed in a watery grave, but it got me thinking about alien abductions and anal probing.  This story ensued.

Behind the Scenes: The Writing Tutor

Idea

This one is actually painfully obvious to those who know me.

I’m a writing tutor.

Okay, not now.  Now, I’m a professional editor.  But I used to be a writing tutor.

In my first writing center, we had a very fun, very close knit community of tutors, at least two of which I still talk to today and we all hung out until all hours of the day in “the lab.”  The lab was a room with floor to ceiling windows, a couch that we all regularly fell asleep and drooled on, and a back corner that we called “L.J.’s office” because it’s where I sat, where I hung my print outs, where my tutees knew to wait for me, and where I could be found writing any time I wasn’t in class.  The saddest thing about graduating was seeing that my “office” had been moved out of the corner to allow for a new table. Also, they took down the disembodied pirate head hanging from the ceiling. Losers, right?

I feel I should mention that this is not a true story.  I don’t know any Josh and I had the evil librarian look mastered by the time I went to college.

Revision

This is actually the first pornographic story I published under my own name.  I mean to write a novella length work on a similar premise some day, but until then, enjoy!

 

Read “The Writing Tutor” here

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. –Oscar Wilde