Thursday, 1 November 2012

Welcome to Sandy Garcia

I am thrilled to have Sandy Garcia on my blog. I met her at GayRomLit, and she is lovely... and very talented.

Defeating My Fear of Real Life Stories

Let’s face it, I am something of a scaredy cat. Instead of viewing the world as a wonderful surprise full of magic and sparkly unicorns, when I’m in a twitchy mood, I regard my surrounds as an wicked place lurking with annoyances waiting to bite my ankles.

Like the times when I’m in the passenger seat while my partner is driving and we’re passing a truck. I always suffer the sick feeling that one of the damned tires will burst and send tire pieces through the windows. Two times truck tires have burst when I was driving behind a truck. Hard rubber treads have struck the car. The irrational fear remains.

Cars don’t frighten me, but the other idiots driving them do scare me. Actually our old truck did frighten me, since I never knew when it would break down and leave me stranded. I can’t consider that a true irrational fear because the fear often turned factual.

I conquer my fear of flying by telling myself the experience really isn’t happening. We’re not really up at 33,000 riding a cloud of air—of course not— it’s more like a virtual reality thrill. For some bizarre reason this displacement works for me.

Oddly enough I’m not frightened of typical things like spiders or insects. I was the little jerk who used to chase my friends around while holding out a worm. By the way, never put a cicada casing in a friend’s hair unless you’re prepared for serious mayhem. Snakes don’t bother me, well, unless I’m climbing over a rough stone wall in a Connecticut (only three misspellings there) forest and one hisses at me from mere inches away. I think my scream still floats over the old trees.

Probably one of my most irrational fears of all is my fear of writing about real life. What is hard about writing contemporary characters? It’s not like I never interact with normal people on a daily… oh wait, I don’t interact with people on a daily basis. Never mind. Interacting with my partner is a safe, comfortable event. Before I became a hermit author, I did go to work every day. I communicated with people across the globe.

Why does writing about people in the here and now bother me so much?

I did set my novel “Temptation of the Incubus” in the modern day. In theory that doesn’t count, not when Amando is a centuries-old incubus and Mads is a human with something extra special. They are far from normal, everyday people. I don’t tend to run into too many incubi at the grocery story.

Sound the trumpet! With “Cupid Knows Best”, I finally cracked my fear of the here and now. Welcome to the world of today occupied by Carl Conrad and Marcelino Moya. Sad but true; the story took me years to complete. Somewhere in the middle I wandered away from it and never returned. Eventually I felt bad for my stranded characters and returned to rescue them with a story overhaul.

Are Carl and Marcelino normal? Well, neither of them shifts, sucks blood or can summon supernatural powers, although after a few joints Carl believes he can create world peace. They live in New York City, a city I know fairly well due to countless visits involving the wonderful museums, galleries, film festivals, and clubs. I know, entirely too many stories are set in New York City. Spank me. But NYC fit these gentlemen.

A sad amount of people would consider Carl and Marcelino abnormal due to their love. Since I wrote in the real world, I added real world family responses to both men’s histories, but never did I want that angst to become an anchor. Other issues added trauma to their romance. That’s what I wanted to explore.

As I wrote another blog post the notion struck me that I stopped wanting to write about the real world when AIDS ripped into the world. Of course that was long before I ever thought about being published, but it did affect the stories I wrote for myself. One friend died from AIDS in 1989; another dear friend died in 1995. Their passing really drove me into writing fantasy and historical stories. Fantasy provided me an escape. I didn’t need to protect my characters from AIDS’s ravages. That sounds odd, but I realize it is the truth about my writing. It has taking this long to reconcile my head-in-the-sand attitude toward reality.

Well, I just drove this post into the depths. Sorry, sometimes my posts turn into little therapy sessions.

Back to the real question at hand: do my new characters fit into the traditional m/m romance world? Let’s see, they aren’t fireman, policemen, soldiers, strippers, or prostitutes. In that regard they don’t fit certain tropes. They are almost too normal. Carl is a mild-mannered professional photographer who teaches at university. He has serious relationship issues to the point where his friends call him a serial relationship killer. Marcelino is a set-design student also holding serious relationship issues. On certain levels, he is more complex than Carl. Now, now, I don’t want to give too much away.

Yep, they seem fairly normal. Okay, Carl has an abusive ex who is stalking him. We need some drama, correct? Carl seems to have a better relationship with his pet hamsters than he does with his lovers (don’t start thinking nasty thoughts!) because it’s simple, uncomplex affection.

Neither man is alpha. Alpha males bug the hell out of me, which is probably why I have a problem with most shifter pack stories. One man is far more sensible that the other one and surprise, it’s not the older one in the pair. Let’s see, I’m mentally examining the cliché m/m romance checklist and not finding too many other correlations. No kidnapping or stripping, nope.

A reader at the GRL told me my stories seemed so different than most of the other m/m romance she had read. I took that as a huge compliment.

So there tada, I have plunged into the world of contemporary m/m romance, plunged without magic or supernatural elements. Have I gotten over my fear? I say yes, considering I am writing the follow up to “Cupid Knows Best.” Honest, still nothing supernatural creeps into the mix. No kidnapping. But there might be an angsty separation… oh dear. We’ll see if that thread remains in the story.

Reality is fun. I’m getting used to setting my stories in the big, bad real world. Gasp, I even have a bondage story set in the here and now, but that’s in the future, but at least it’s the real world future.

Let’s visit with Carl and Marcel, shall we? Here’s a sampling from “Cupid Knows Best.”


When it comes to his professional life, photographer Carl Conrad is at the top of his game. He molds impressionable minds at university by day and jets off to Paris for gallery showings on long weekends. Unfortunately, he pays for it with his disastrous personal life: Carl kicked his boyfriend to the curb after one too many punches, so now it's just him and his hamsters, one of which he suspects may be a space alien.

Then Cupid takes pity on Carl and hits him where it hurts. It takes Carl all of three seconds to fall head over heels in lust with set design student Marcelino Moya, despite the man’s questionable—okay, deplorable—fashion sense. Convincing Marcelino to give him a chance is the hard part, but Carl is up for the challenge, pun definitely intended.

Marcelino plays hard to get, but he isn't immune to Carl's charms. Carl talks him around to dinner, dating, and eventually moving in. There's just one tiny word standing between Carl and perfect happiness. Why won't Marcelino say it?

 Amazing how cruel threats from a violent ex-lover turned the heart into a bleeding mess. Violent Martin’s plan to stalk me like a wounded deer stumbling through the forest did not thrill me. The high priest of punching’s stalking felt uncool as fiery hell.
Why had I answered his call?
My lips tightened around the dwindling joint. The glowing tip flared bright. Pungent smoke filled my lungs and spilled from my nostrils. Someday I wanted to learn how to blow a nose smoke ring.
Someday I wanted to learn how to select a stable lover.
The nasty internal laughter bouncing around my skull needed to cease.
I pointed at my smoking pal. “Ernie, my dear, how is this for a sweet idea: Why don’t I move to Niagara Falls, crawl into a huge rubber ball, and roll off the wet edge every damned morning? Why not play the toss and retrieve game?” I waved my left hand  in the air. “Wait, call on me, I know why not. After a few rescues, the irritated EMTs will let me drown in the raging water. Bounce-ouch-bleargh-glug.” Ouch, those harsh noises hurt my throat.
A nasty grin like bright-green acid greeted my words. “No one is stopping you from living your dangerous wet dream, dude.” Ernie accepted the joint, snapped the remainder into a clip, and sucked in the smoke.
“Gee, aren’t you a bundle of prime sympathy? Here’s a better idea. What about slapping local hospital logos on the ball’s exterior? Do you think the esteemed institutions will sponsor me? Maybe I’ll drum up enough funding to cover my interment.” The weird concept appealed to me. The stunt sounded more promising than the epic romantic disaster devouring my life.
My brain cells sparked in protest. Without Martin in my life, I should feel better. Yeah, right. Great cosmic dude in the sky, spin me another fairy tale.
Ernie peered through the bluish smoke haze curling between us. “Carl, time for me to state the obvious: you need to move along. You know you need to stop letting Martin mess up your mind.”
“I can’t halt his manic messing. Devious Martin is the ultimate interior mental mess maker.” Over the past weeks, my stupid Martin-plagued life had driven me to race in sweaty mental circles that sour old Dante had never envisioned. If I met a frenzied Jack Russell terrier overdosed on puppy uppers during my lunatic spins, I’d call him brother. We could run wobbly circles together. Skid, turn, and attack unsuspecting ankles.
I hated feeling on edge, or, more accurately, feeling ready to fall off the teetering, sharp-fanged edge. If I plunged down, it would be in grand bloody chaos sans the protective rubber ball.
I glanced at the utilitarian wall clock. The red second hand always clicked back twice before it lunged forward. Unnerving. The first Photo Two class of the shiny new fall semester started in a few minutes. Instead of wrapping my mind around the class, I hid in my office, sneaking in an herbal smoke break with my pal and fellow professor Ernie Sanders. Students expected their professor to project confidence and wisdom, not hare-brained scatterings and musing about bloody fangs or waterfalls. I needed to chill to achieve a level mind-set.
Sometimes a blissful little high helped my teaching skills.
Ernie handed me the joint’s remains. He stretched his lanky frame. My friend’s elongated appearance reminded me of an El Greco Christ, right down to his wavy brown hair and lush beard. “Thanks for the savory smoke treat, Carl. I need to scram. My aspiring Van Goghs await my sage advice. Wait, don’t you have a class across the street?”
“Yes, but I need another minute to compose my mangled thoughts.”
Ernie shook his unruly hair. “I will repeat the same thing to you. Maybe I’ll learn a few other languages to keep the concept fresh. Here goes: stop allowing good old manic Martin to poison your mind. You realize you let him win. Inside your brain, he still hits you. He still ruins your sad life.”
“My sensible friend, you are right, but you just heard Martin’s sick phone call. Clever speakerphone technology makes you my sane witness to his obsessive behavior. The nutcase plans to stalk me. Golly gee, my wicked ex suddenly feels the need for closure. How does stalking me help the problem?”
A sharp smirk curved Ernie’s lips. “Admit it, Carl, placing his stuff into storage, changing the locks, and leaving the city for a week never gave Sir Punch-a-Lot the chance to perform closure with you. Aw hell, don’t start with me again. Stop baring your teeth at me. Yes, splendid, I realize his last punch chipped your tooth and made you panic. Fine.” Ernie performed his classic frustration move. His fingers fluttered near his ears like spastic birds. “Damn, you sucked me into your drama again. Listen, here’s my simple advice. Find someone sane for once. Hell, I’ll lend you Bobby so you can hang out in a play park and meet a nice, normal dude raising a kid. To my thinking, any guy who raises a kid is grounded. That’s what you need, a Mr. Happy and Grounded in your tumultuous life.”
I bared my teeth one last time. “You know I don’t understand kids.”
“You teach kids.”
I held up my hand. “Ah, wait, I teach young adults. I understand them, except when they act like smartasses.”
“Fine, no playtime in the park.” One finger pointed at me. “Above all, you need to stop thinking with your dick. Constantly picking up your boyfriends in your favorite dance club is unwise. Please, join a reading group or a Photoshop-enthusiasts club or something equally civilized. Join a hamster-lovers group.”
I choked on laughter. Ernie groaned in disbelief. “Forget that I uttered those silly words. You know what I mean. Train Spazz to dance.” He shook his finger. “Above all, spend quality time talking to your prospective lover before you dive into fucking him silly.”
“Excuse me, physical attraction is important to me.”
“Dude, care to sound a little more shallow? Fine, don’t blame me when the next handsome nutcase you unearth turns out to be worse than Mayhem Martin. Now get off your ass and head to class. See you later.” Ernie opened the door, peered around, and left me with my smoky thoughts.
Dear Ernie meant well, but he tended to oversimplify life. His settled life with his devoted wife, Bridget, and their three wonderful kids defined fairy-tale perfection. Visiting their house almost gave me a sugar high. Ernie had enjoyed fifteen years of bliss and appeared ready to experience thirty more with sweet, sensible Bridget.
My longest relationship had clocked in at five years. Not bad, but now, as I grew older, I wanted to settle into stability. I wanted to experience a true long-term relationship. Perhaps it was a fantasy, but surely someone out there wanted to share their life with a successful, financially secure but emotionally insecure photographer who talked to his hamsters like they were people.
Ouch. My description sounded iffy. Common sense smacked away my doubts.
Imagine me falling for a man raising a five-year-old kid. Not a sane concept. I never planned to nurture a sensitive child. I understood my limitations. Raising a child topped my important “do not go there” list. At least I embraced my selfishness. Geesh, nurturing my hamsters sometimes challenged me.
Damn, I sounded like some kid-hating ogre. I didn’t hate them; instead I feared warping their impressionable minds. Children’s innocence struck me as too fragile, too special. No way did I want to be responsible for shaping a susceptible young mind. What if the child I raised turned into a criminal or, worse yet, a serial killer? Yikes, what a nasty concept.
I shook in apprehension. Come on, pot, mellow me out. Work the clean magic.
Sensible Ernie understood my problem.. Martin created my ugly stress. Everything, including any world crisis currently raging in sick destruction, could be traced back to Martin. I embraced the fact as divine truth. My troubled mind had transformed my rampaging ex into the Antichrist dressed in a slick Armani suit.
Wait, I needed to add in his four-hundred-dollar haircut. Definitely the Antichrist cloaked in Armani sporting an expensive haircut and custom leather shoes purchased on his frequent Italian weekend shopping trips, trips he wrote off as banking business. Martin’s high-end tastes alone should have told me he was the slithering embodiment of perfect evil. His skills as a habitual liar added more rusted links to his Jacob Marley-style chain. Amazing how he managed to survive in the financial sector.
Mocking alarms rang in my brain. I blinked in disbelief. Wait, had my thoughts produced such rabid nonsense? Dangerous Martin and the financial sector created a perfect monster match, unlike this forgiving hippie professor and bruise-creating Martin. Wall Street adored beating up everyone. Martin adored beating me. Ladies and gentlemen, what a cruel pairing.
Being hit in the mouth by a man wearing a scarab ring changed one’s point of view, especially when I had given said man the heavy silver ring as a birthday present. Hell, my violent ex should have gotten his classic line, “Really, I’ll change, Carl, please, I will,” tattooed across his aristocratic forehead. How wonderful—Martin had enjoyed changing from a hypercritical type-A lover into an occasionally enraged psycho who enjoyed a human punching bag near his bony fist. No, thanks. My not responding to his cell phone calls or e-mails had led to today’s surprise attack.
Why had I answered the flaming nutcase’s phone call? Tomorrow I planned to buy an external answering machine for my office phone. I needed to hear who was calling before I picked up the phone. If I endured another long, heated tirade on how Martin promised to change for me if only I accepted him back into my life, I’d go bonkers.
During the weeks after I kicked him out, Martin had never apologized for hitting me hard enough to break a tooth. Instead he called and threatened me. He claimed he needed me. He claimed he planned to wait for me outside my apartment in order to correct our relationship’s tragic problem.
What did he mean by “correct”? A snickering inner voice told me that Martin’s violent correction might place me in the hospital.
I warned Martin that if he stalked me, bam, time for a restraining order. A startled Ernie had sat and listened to the sordid, heated exchange via my glorious speakerphone.
My deranged ex made me want to run screaming in mad circles around Washington Square. The manic Jack Russell could join me. Yee-haw, we’d make the stubborn pigeons fly for cover. We’d scare the tourists and drug dealers. Someone might photograph our stunt and wonder why we resorted to performance art to release emotional pain.
I appreciated the concept. Imagine—we might end up on an artsy-fartsy TV show. Carl and the Crazy Terrier Performing Live in Washington Square.
One more deep herbal puff entered my lungs. I shut my eyes in order to find relaxation. My secret, silly mantra whispered free: be cool, be calm, be Carl. I breathed in, held, released. Ahh, better, much better. Smelling the herb-scented air calmed me down. My spiking blood pressure dropped a few points, much like the stock market.
Someday the antidrug screechers would try a few tokes and understand why marijuana needed legalization. A few puffs a day chased the anger away. The lyrics from “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” drifted through my mind. Yeah, go Bob D.
Annoying reality rattled my mental cage. Reality banished my relaxation. Did I have everything ready for class? My agitated mind blanked in cluttered confusion. Crap, I needed to hustle. I grabbed my battered leather satchel. Up, up, and away! Supermoron stumbled to the rescue! I should have left before Ernie.

About S.A. Garcia

Thirty years ago, I started writing gay male romance. My writing remained a secret lest my friends thought me a freak. Writing about men inserting tab A into slot B didn’t seem the norm for a suburban female teenager. Reading Gordon Merrick, John Rechy and Larry Kramer helped me fill in the serious informational gaps. Yes, I read those books in my bedroom. No wonder.

As the years progressed and I discovered my sexual orientation, I still wrote gay male romance, although the stories progressed from lurking in notebooks to hiding on the computer. I wrote fantasies, contemporaries, bodice rippers; I chugged along following my muse.

Now I am glad I kept the writing faith. After six published novellas and novels along with a few spicy short stories, my life has turned into a fun quandary of too many stories hindered by my slow typing skills. I accept the silly challenge and blunder onward into more trauma, drama and humor. I just hope I can keep up with men who insist on running off with the plots!

My books are also for sale at the usual locations. Thanks for reading and thanks to Sue for having me here today!


  1. omg, YES... i absolutely hate driving next to big rigs. I always fear they're gonna swerve and squish my car like a bug or SOMETHING... I always try to speed up and get ahead or move a few lanes over without screwing up my destination... i hate trucks.....


  2. I don't mind driving with the rigs. As a matter of fact, once I have studied their driving I'd rather be sandwiched between them. I feel safer with them than with the four wheelers. When I had a CB I used to let them know of my intentions, like "Riding Their Wind" to save on my gas, and they would let me know when I needed to pull back. Sometimes carrying long conversations on long distance trips as well. I don't care driving next to them just because it's too noisy.

    1. Rush, it's not so much the rigs but the blow out tire threat that gets to me. That is a damned scary situation! Brrr, just thinking about it makes me twitchy..

  3. I love your way with a descriptive phrase in the excerpt, SA. Very elegant, witty, yet pithy.

    1. Why thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Judi, for some reason the fear keeps becoming worse and worse.

  6. Loved it! I got to say, I'm liking Carl right now. Can't wait to read his story!