Measuring 2016 in Joy

So, 2016 wasn’t all bad. Yes, there were a lot of monumental tragedies – the loss of far too many pop culture icons who shaped and influenced us, numerous heartbreaking acts of violence and terrorism the world over, and don’t even get me started with the U.S. election – but for me personally, there were a lot of bright moments, too.

As we approach January 1, I wanted to reflect on all the GOOD things that happened in 2016 and concentrate on manifesting that goodness in 2017.

Here’s a recap of the things that made this year a great one for me:

  1. I tested for my first rank in Aikido, earned my hakama, and served as an uke for an Aikido master (Mary Heiny sensei). Training in martial arts has proven a big challenge for me, but the work ethic and perseverance required have made me stronger and more humble. Bonus – my mental health has improved and my anxiety has lessened drastically.
  2. I had a great publishing year! My short stories “We Share Everything,” “Catch and Release,” Bad Vibrations, “Now You See Me,” “Bad Moonlight,” and “It’s in Her Kiss” all made their way out into the world. And I’m heading into 2017 with a personal essay and two short stories queued up to be published – “Shapeless” in Under the Gum Tree, “Begin Again” in the kINKED anthology by Pen and Kink Publishing, and “He Smelled Like Smoke” in an Ink Stains anthology by Dark Alley Press. I’m also working on a trilogy of magical romance novellas for the Enchanted series by Pen and Kink Publishing, which has been both challenging and a blast.
  3. Kristy Velesko and I created photography magic together. While we were only able to do three shoots together this year (surrounded by flowers, on the beach, and underwater!), they were incredible. I’m so happy she calls me every time she’s in town, because it’s good for me to glam it up and get in front of the camera.
  4. I bought a wedding dress!
  5. I started working for Cognella, Inc., an independent academic publisher, as a content specialist. Not only am I working in my dream industry (publishing), I feel like my work is making a positive impact in the world of academia. Also, the company culture is ridiculously awesome.
  6. My fiance and I launched a website together, 2 Geeks Life, to document all our  nerdy life together.
  7. I rediscovered aerial yoga.
  8. I bought a llama holiday sweater that gives me life!
  9. I became a legit graphic novel collector.
  10. There were numerous cuddle sessions with our puppies.
  11. Bryan and I celebrated one year as San Diego residents.
  12. I attended my first San Diego Comicon!
  13. I SMASHED my Goodreads reading goal – 48 BOOKS (when my goal was 35)!

Not to mention all the food adventures, trips to new locales in San Diego, sweet, romantic moments, laughter with friends, celebrations with family, and the unexpected little joys that make this life wonderful.

I look forward to all the GOOD in 2017. I hope it finds you, too.

Wishing you all a happy New Year!

Sara Dobie Bauer’s “Forever Dead” is a Must-Read

Forever-Dead

Yesterday, the offerings on Amazon got a little cooler, because sexy, creepy author Sara Dobie Bauer’s short story “Forever Dead” became available for purchase. And you should go buy it now. Because the story follows star-crossed lovers—one, a centuries-old vampire and advocate for his race, and the other, a human and renowned vampire hunter who likes a little pain along with his pleasure—who are as gritty, dirty, and complicated as the city of crime they live in. I mean, who doesn’t want to read about that?

I recently sat down with Sara to pick her brain regarding this project and the interview itself was just as fun as reading “Forever Dead.”

 

What inspired you to write “Forever Dead?” How did it come about?

In order to get to sleep at night, I make up stories in my head. I had this one image that kept coming back: What if a vampire attacked a human, and instead of being afraid, the human got turned on and the blood-sucking turned into an amazing shag? My lead boys, Dario and Zach, grew from this image.

My stories are always based on character. Fiction starts with an image (hot vampire sex, in this case), and characters develop around the image. I wanted to investigate what happens when a vamp falls in love with a human. At its basest, what happens when you fall in love with someone you know is going to die long before you do?

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of vampire lit out there and some would argue it’s an oversaturated market. Why should readers be excited about “Forever Dead?”

Well, let’s face it: I write for myself. I write stories that either exorcise my personal demons (of which there are many) or stories that turn me on. Vampires turn me on. Hot men turn me on. Mix the two, and “Forever Dead” is a story that turns me on. It’ll turn you on, too.

Oh, and a lot of vamp fiction is sappy. My leads, Dario and Zach, are anything but. These are two bad-asses who just happen to be star-crossed and in love with each other. Imagine Interview with a Vampire … on cocaine with guns and big knives.

What’s your favorite line from the story?

“Then, he closed his eyes and came. It was like watching the sunrise over the apocalypse. Doomed.”

If you could describe each of your main characters in one word, what would that word be?

How about two?

Dario: accidentally romantic

Zach: purposefully cold

This isn’t the first time you’ve written guy-on-guy action. “Don’t Ball the Boss” was published by Stoneslide Corrective in 2014 and received the most clicks on the site for the year. Quite the feat! Why do you like to write sexy man romps, and why do you think people like to read them?

There’s that joke about why men like watching women make out. It’s like a math equation. One hot girl is good. Two hot girls is better. Two hot girls TOGETHER is best. I feel the same about two hot men.

On a more serious note, I think men are fascinating (obviously, as I married one). Men like to seem so strong, so tough, especially men like Zach: a big dude who fights and never, ever cuddles. What happens when a tough guy falls in love? What happens when a tough guy is vulnerable?

In regards to why people like to read guy-on-guy? It does go back to the hotness factor mentioned above, but for me, love and sex isn’t about penis or vagina. Love is about the person, especially in the case of “Don’t Ball the Boss” and “Forever Dead.” Two people meet, form a connection, and despite social mores, fall in lust/love. Our society is so damn hell bent on labels of straight, asexual, QLGBT … we’re just people, people.

A story is good if the characters are developed and relatable. No matter the gender or sexuality, as long as the reader can relate to what the characters are going through, they’re going to enjoy the story. And hey, if the sex scenes are scalding, that doesn’t hurt either.

Who did your cover art? And how was that collaboration?

Turner G. Davis. I saw his work and was like, “I will build a temple in your honor if you’ll design my cover.” Turner read “Forever Dead,” we discussed what I considered the most important scene in the story, and he ran with it.

When Turner emailed me the final image, I was blown away by how well he understood Dario and Zach and their desperate situation. He used so many details (for instance, Dario identifying with the moon and Zach with the sun).

On the cover, they reach for each other but don’t quite touch, keeping that tough-guy distance Zach so embraces. I couldn’t have found a more perfect artist—someone who understood the story … and really, understood me.

Where can we read more of your work?

All my publishing credits are on my blog at http://saradobie.wordpress.com. I completed a satirical vampire rom-com novel this past summer called Bite Somebody: A Bloodsucker’s Diary. The first two chapters are available for reading on Wattpad, and I’m currently shopping for an agent. I’m also a constant presence at SheKnows.com, where I write about everything from books to bisexuality to my “boyfriend” Benedict Cumberbatch. (Don’t even get me started on that British masterpiece.) Also, follow me on Twitter!

 

I Don’t Believe in Resolutions

Photo by flickr user "Angle Torres."

Photo by flickr user “Angle Torres.”

Because I think starting a new year trying to “resolve” something is negative in connotation. Now, I do believe in setting goals. And if you do it right, your goals should build on successes or progress you made the previous year. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to fail because you’re starting from square one (never a fun place). New goals for a new year should be all about momentum, continuing the GOOD things you’ve already done, taking them to the next level maybe–from a place where you’re already ahead of the pack. Doesn’t that sound so much better than making resolutions?

That all being said, here are my goals for 2015:

1. Get four short stories published–with pay. In 2013, my goal was to publish one story during the year, because it was the first year I started submitting my work publicly. Invidia was published that year. In 2014, I set a goal to publish two pieces, and I’m proud to report that I did publish two–Blood Melody and Give It Back. In 2015, my goal is four, because I already have two pieces accepted and lined up to be published. Two more pieces on top of that seems very realistic but also a bit of a stretch goal. Let’s do this.

2. Be more active. Notice how that goal doesn’t mention anything about a diet or losing weight? This is because I’ve identified that I need the happy endorphins released during exercise more than I need to be a size 2. I had a revelation the other day. I get depressed when I don’t have consistent physical activity in my life. That part I already knew, but the ephiphany was that I’m a little addicted to endorphins, because growing up, I was a competitive dancer. I was naturally doping myself up on an almost daily basis through pirouettes and pas de chats. When I don’t get a hit of endorphins at least two or three times a week, I lose energy, get moody, and past body image insecurities come back to haunt me. For my mental and emotional health in 2015, I need to be very conscious and intentional about exercise. Lucky for me, I found a kickass yoga studio in 2014 and I just purchased a Groupon for bellydance classes a couple weeks ago. I’m ready to stretch and shimmy myself to good health!

3. Read 40 books. I’m a better writer when I’m reading. I get inspired by those who’ve come before me. Sometimes, the writing style of the author I’m reading seeps into my writing, and that’s always an interesting experience that I tend to grow from. Most importantly, I’m exercising my brain. Reading isn’t a passive act. It keeps me sharp and engaged with the storytelling part of my brain. On top of all that, I genuinely enjoy it. When I carve out time for reading, I feel like I’m spoiling myself. In 2015, I deserve to be spoiled. And I’m already planning out my reading list. First up, Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, and The Carnal Prayer Mat by Li Yu.

4. Self publish a collection of short stories…or at least make a lot of headway toward this goal. This is the big one, kids! I’ve had an idea for a collection for over a year now. Recently, I talked to a good friend about it and she gave me some amazing ideas for art and the confidence boost I needed to decide it was about damn time to do this. My collection will need 12 short stories, two of which I have already crafted. So, 10 more stories to go. For this goal, I’m giving myself a little leniency. If I can’t crank out 10 stories that are totally worthy of this project by the end of 2015, I’ll publish in 2016. But I want to be intentional about my work and truly start to focus my creativity into this project. It’s time for a book. And the thought of it makes me happy and excited and ready to work.

Okay, those are my major goals for 2015, a continuation of everything I accomplished in 2014. And I’m not the least bit intimidated. Rather, I’m excited. I’m ready. May this be the Year of the Writer.

What are your goals for 2015?

Photo licensingAngle Torres