By B.D. Heywood (Guest Author)
Thank you Lisabet for having me guest blog today. This is a new experience for me, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to chat with your readers. Is everyone comfy, feet up, glass of wine, Guinness, cuppa tea in your hand? Lovely.
Although I’ve been a writer for twenty-five years, I was a complete noob when it came to playing in the world of man-love novels. When the Cyber Universe laid a trap for me, I fell right into it.
I’m a bi-sexual, or genderqueer some may say, woman who trains horses, rides a Harley (when it isn’t in the shop) and worked a real job in the real world as a magazine editor. I march in the Gay Pride parade and grumble with my neighbor about taxes and crab grass. Normal enough that often someone will say to me in disbelief, “You write gay erotica?” I always answer with a resounding “yes.” If they haven’t shuffled away in embarrassment, I explain all about my adventures in Yaoiland.
Four years ago, I retired from my job as a non-fiction editor and writer. I was burned out and swore I’d never write another word. My Muse had bailed and was on permanent vacation in Fiji.
Then I fell down the hole into Yaoiland. It was a defining moment in my life. No kidding! I have chronic insomnia. About 2 a.m. while channel surfing, I landed on the exact moment in one of the most popular yaoi animes where two men kiss. Okay, my lifestyle is not exactly mainstream. I pal around with guys who kiss and hug and cop feels and are not shy about letting their feelings hang out. But this beautiful anime was a total revelation.
Utterly captivated, I tracked down the series and discovered there were more like it. And in book form called manga. And it was called “yaoi.” I was hooked. Within three months, my chubby mailman was complaining about the multitude of packages trooping daily to my door. I tried to explain. He looked at me and mumbled, “Takes all kinds,” and wandered away into the Arizona desert never to be seen again. Opps, sorry folks, he just walked back to his little mail truck.
Anime and manga were not enough for me. I wanted more about my favorite characters. Just like the commercial says, “more is better.” Then I found the Holy Grail—fan fiction. (Not alone am I? Some of you started your journey into M/M via fan fiction.) I posted several stories and to my astonishment (yes, really!) received many positive and thoughtful reviews.
Then I travelled to the country of M/M romance novels. Bought dozens and dozens of them by many popular authors. Somewhere during this total self-indulgence, I realized some of the stories were well-written, hot and sexy; deserve all the praise and profits they can get. But some were banal with two-dimensional characters and a plotline as thin as a razor blade. Those left me feeling cheated out of my money and time. And ticked off at the publishers for putting out the same banal junk over and over.
Originally, I thought I was being too critical. Once an editor always an editor. Many of my male gay friends love a good romance but they want stories have action and adventure in addition to anal sex. After reading my erotic fan fiction, my friends urged me to write a book. I laughed.
But the more I read, the more I became convinced that I could write an original story. I’d just spent a good chunk of my professional life as an editor and writer. Some of that knowledge should pay off. My Muse, looking fit and tanned, returned from Fiji and yelled, “What are you waiting for? Find a plot with a twist and put in lots of sex.”
I had time. I had a computer. I had ambition.
I had no story.
Anime and my Muse led me to Japan. Or to be exact, the Battle of Mii-dera and the Buddhist warrior monks who committed suicide. Honor through death. I could picture two lovers. The anguish of a betrayal. Eternal revenge. Eternal love. A plot!
I wanted to explore how my characters dealt with choosing between vengeance and love, knowing that choice could cost the most important thing to a samurai—honor. Although I chose to include some history, I wanted this to be a contemporary story with all screwing, sucking, rimming and other hot action that guys enjoy with each other. Somehow I had to move one of my heroes eight-hundred years into a dystopian future. Again, a 2 a.m. epiphany. One MC became a vampire. And the other was the reincarnation of his lover.
The Japanese culture became my new obsession. I immersed myself in movies and travelogues. I read Japanese romance, history, martial arts, myths and legends; took conversational Japanese and shinkendo classes, attended tea ceremonies, even tried cooking Japanese food (the burnt wok attests to the failure of that research). Next year a visit.
When I told a couple of my darling, but oh-so-kinky gay guys about my story, they plied me with the best porn. Then decided that porn was not enough and enthusiastically demonstrated the how and where things went in the bed. And told me how it felt. Pretty hot. Thanks fellas.
I wrote and revised and wrote and revised. Full of optimism, I submitted Eternal Samurai to the publisher of my favorite M/M novel. Lovely folk. The reply came back in nine days, “send the full manuscript.” The crushing disappointment arrived three weeks later. “Exciting story, great characters” but … here’s the but (not butt) the editor said the story did not fit what their readers had come to expect. In other words, my mix of romance and world-building did not fit their formula.
Huh? What do readers expect besides an exciting story full of fighting and drama and pathos and explicit man-on-man, or rather man-on-vampire love action set in a dark world? (Shameless plug here.)
That is when my adventure took a curious hitch. See, somehow in my exploration of the land of the M/M novel, I’d failed to see that most are written pretty much to a cookie-cutter formula. Really hot, young guy meets other hot young guy, have sex, fall in love, (or the other way around) hit a snag, solve the snag, HEA. Harlequin for gays. And yes, these books are arousing and give us a tingle in our guy or girl parts. Their endings are also comforting, like a lovely cuppa tea on a rainy night. However, there are hundreds of these stories out there but after while many sound the same. It’s like junk food, fattening but unsatisfying.
I was pretty sure I wasn’t serving junk food. Sushi maybe with a side of wasabi sauce. Hot and spicy! Undaunted, I jumped back on the query-go-round and submitted to three other M/M publishers. The editors kindly took the time to explain my wrong turn. But wait ... I didn’t take a wrong turn. I had just written a cross-genre story of erotic romance and paranormal fantasy that fell outside their box.
I decided, no matter what, I wanted to leave a legacy of my work. So, I chose to self-publish. This is not an easy route. Sure the book gets out there, pops up on Amazon and other sites. But too often the connotation is that a self-published work cannot be of good quality, and the author is somehow a failure. To this I say, “Bullshit!” Sure, self-pubbing allows all manner of books to see the light of the published day. Some are excellent, some are abysmal. But I’ve read several self-pubbed M/M novels that are better than some of the cookie-cutter books being churned out by current publishers.
I understand why publishers need to offer a product that their readers will buy. I was in the biz, after all. Editors are at the mercy of The Profit Margin God. Still, despite stating in columns, blogs and forums about wanting “the next new thing” the truth is, most houses will not take a gamble and publish something ninety degrees out of their norm. Wishing won’t change this but talking about it might.
I salute those who have secured a publisher. Whether you got there by talent or luck, you got there. But to all other novelists who are tired of the gut-churning rounds of submission and rejection, I say, be brave, have faith in your work. Make sure your novel is the best you can do, get it professionally edited because no matter what, you miss those sneaky typos. (I did!) Then publish your book yourself. Ignore the naysayers and critics who feel more emboldened to pick your novel apart because you self-published. If not for self-publishing, your story might remain as bytes on your hard drive. And you would deprive a fan of reading something exciting.
My adventure in Yaoiland is not over. Writing is a living thing. Characters and stories make themselves known and demand to be told. Each time I create a scene, I discover a new and better way to bring it to the reader. I hope each book I write is better than the last. And I hope that when a reader finishes Eternal Samurai, he or she will be satisfied and know their time and money was well spent.
I see my friend has brought me a ladder so I can climb off my soapbox but not without saying: Self-publishers, or if you prefer the term Indie publishers, stand up and be proud. We are a force to be considered. Now go out there and kick some publishing ass.
In 1180, rather than accept defeat, Buddhist warrior monks of the Temple of Mii-dera, commit suicide. One, Saito Arisada, is turned into a vampire. Eight-hundred years later, a pandemic decimates half the human population and turns thousands into vampires. Driven by his vow of revenge, Arisada hunts a fractured world for the reincarnated soul of his lover who betrayed Mii-dera. When Arisada finds that soul in the human Tatsu Cobb, he realizes his love has never died. Arisada knows he can’t kill his unmei no hito—his soulmate. Yet, if he spares Tatsu’s life, Arisada will betray those he swore to avenge.
In 2024, Tatsu Cobb, the last of an ancient samurai house, comes to Seattle, hunting for the vampire that slaughtered his family. He meets Arisada who calls him “beloved” and kisses him. Even though Arisada might be his enemy, Tatsu falls in love with him. Both know that their love may not only cost them their lives, but also what is more precious to a samurai—his honor.
In this scene, the eight-hundred-year old vampire Saito Arisadahas just lost a sword match and a bet to the vampire hunter, twenty-four-year old Tatsu Cobb. Tatsu orders Arisada to undress. The vampire that killed Tatsu’s family was slashed across the back by a katana. Arisada’s back is covered by a beautiful tattoo but no scars. Naked, except for his fundoshi, loincloth, Arisada faces Tatsu. (Note: Because of their extreme age difference, Arisada refers to Tatsu as a boy.)
Tatsu’s sharp order to freeze surprised Arisada. He looked into that young face, the forehead furrowed into a scowl. The mouth, bowed lips bared over perfect white teeth. The eyes now turned sea-dark with lust. Saw with complete clarity that this was the true spirit of the warrior in Tatsu. The warrior who knew what he wanted, and was going to take it.
The katana’s tip nudged into the indent just below the vampire’s Adams’ apple. It touched the pale flesh, and halted a hair’s width from piercing the tender skin. Arisada froze. An incremental increase in pressure and Arisada felt the wound. Smelled the copper scent from that first drop of his own blood. He stepped back, weight on his rear leg. Still the katana kept up its relentless press. Arisada moved back again, his eyes never leaving Tatsu’s face. Another step, then another. With a hard thud, Arisada’s back hit the wall of the dojo. Perhaps the boy was going to take his life after all. Wakatta, so be it.
The move, so fast it was a blur, stunned the vampire. The sword sliced through his fundoshi at the waist. The blade continued its arc straight into its saya. In the same moment, Tatsu’s tanto replaced its brother at Arisada’s throat. Seconds later, the loincloth reached the floor.
Arisada’s cock bounced out free—pale and long and growing rapidly toward full arousal. The foreskin stretched back tight and thin revealing the head as pretty as a ripe apricot, the slit oozing with precum.
The feral look burned in Tatsu’s eyes as he stared at Arisada’s erection. Tatsu licked his lips, the lascivious gesture clearly unconscious.
His tanto never wavered as Tatsu moved chest-to-chest with Arisada. Their gazes locked. Understanding rippled between them. Both knew the vampire could break free perhaps before Tatsu realized it. Both accepted that escape was not even a consideration. A tiny moan escaped Arisada as he submitted.
A fine quiver washed over the vampire’s skin as the callused pads of Tatsu’s free hand trailed down his ridged belly. A harsh tug at curls around Arisada’s shaft, then the sublime, unutterable delight as the boy’s fingers curled around his cock in a hard grip, as if to inflict pain, as if to deny the pleasure of his actions. Arisada gasped as heat rolled through the turgid length of his pounding prick. His eyes, now scarlet with lust, closed in sweet surrender. Arisada’s top fangs slipped their channels and caught his lower lip.
Tatsu smelled that blood. As if he were kyūketsuki, its scent captivated him. His hand tightened its painful grip, pushing the silken foreskin back from Arisada’s weeping crown. Tatsu tugged Rolled his thumb over the slit that throbbed and leaked with raw sensitivity. Pearly juice seeped out, caught in Tatsu’s palm. He slicked it back along the swollen shaft. Rubbing, teasing, demanding. Tatsu’s hand assaulted the vampire’s tender flesh, each stroke faster than the one before. Yet, never for one instant did he release the relentless pressure of that knife tip against the vampire’s jugular.
Heat washed over the vampire’s cheeks, making the white lines of his scar stand out in graphic relief. The thin nostrils flared with every ragged breath. The full lips drew back over a mouth dropped partially open, fangs extended. Lust glittered from the vampire’s eyes, turned them molten with excitement.
Pain from Arisada’s cut lips sent want surging down into his groin. He gave free rein to his hunger, allowed his body to be engulfed in Tatsu’s fury. The skin of Arisada’s hardened cock stretched almost beyond endurance. Waves of fire spasmed from his sphincter deep into his entrails. Fingers stroked up then down with punishing force, the friction sending a sweet, delectable, pain through Arisada’s sex. The rub of a thumb over his throbbing crown. A sharp drag of Tatsu’s nail across the piss hole.
Every neuron in Arisada’s ass, his prick, his balls fired at the same time. The blast of raw heat, almost on the edge of pain, shot from Arisada’s rod. He rocked his hips, driving his sex a final time into Tatsu’s hand. Uncaring of the danger from that tanto, Arisada’s body convulsed jetting his spunk through his slit into the torturous grip of Tatsu’s palm.
With that first glistening jet, Arisada screamed. He twisted his head to one side, fighting the urge to tear into Tatsu’s throat, to feast on the boy’s rich blood and drain him of life. The vampire’s hands had gouged rents in the walls of the shiaijo. Arisada, his cock still spurting with aftershocks, lunged away from Tatsu. He felt the tanto slice across his neck. Falling to his knees, Arisada dropped his head between his hands and fought off the urge to drink. His breath came in great shudders. His vision blackened. The muscles along his arms and legs knotted as he dove within himself, seeking that infinitesimal center of peace. He fastened on it and used it drove back the lust for blood. When his body and mind at last belonged to him, he pushed himself to his feet and faced Tatsu.
The boy stood as if frozen, staring with a strange fascination at the slickness of cum clinging to his hand. Without lowering his knife, he sucked each digit one by one with slow, deliberate laps. With that final lick, the hunger on Tatsu’s face dissolved. He shook his head, the primal glare fading from his jade eyes.
“Sumimasen,” Tatsu croaked. “I am sorry.” With a strangled cry, he bolted from the dojo.
Arisada leaned against the chill surface of the dojo wall, his body supported on shaking knees. He touched the thin cut across his throat. Looked in wonder at the smear of blood on his fingers. Somehow, Tatsu had prevented his tanto from cutting deeper and ending Arisada’s life.
Many minutes passed before he felt the strength to gather his clothes from their tumbled heap on the floor. Minutes that left him filled with wonder of the power in this human boy who had brought him gasping and begging to such a total surrender. Filled Arisada also with fear of how close he had come to ripping out the boy’s throat.
The vampire fastened his clothing with fingers that shook only slightly. He tightened his obi around his slim waist and tucked in his sword. Tatsu may have pleasured him as a show of dominance but Arisada knew the boy desired it as much. When Tatsu’s fingers circled Arisada’s tumescent organ, a covenant was fused. Tatsu gave himself to Arisada. Tatsu just didn’t realize it yet.
“Next time, my bishounen, I won’t allow you to win,” Arisada whispered. He smiled, a beautiful human smile with no show of fangs.
Available in print and e-pub at:
Soon to be available through Smashwords and on other e-pub devices.
Thanks for reading! Leave me a comment below, including your email address, and you could win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.
B. D. Heywood was born and educated in England, and lived Canada before moving to the United States. She has a Bachelor’s in English and one in Secondary Education. She worked in a variety of jobs including construction, horse trainer, addiction counselor and teacher before her final career as a writer and editor. Her first novel, Eternal Samurai, was published in 2012. She is now working on a second book, Eternal Warrior, in addition writing a coming-out play for a local GLBT theater group and an anthology of erotic gay stories. She is involved in several human-rights advocacy groups, and is a volunteer an organization that serves at-risk gay youth. She lives in Arizona with her family and several horses.
For more information, contact B. D. Heywood at bdheywood88 [at] yahoo.com.