Queer as Folk – 13 years late


Okay, okay, I admit it. I am 13 years late to Queer as Folk.

Well, truth be told, I’m not that late. In, oh, the early 2000s, I was *mumblemumble* years old, and I would sneak watching it in my very conservative parents’ house. But a few months ago, in my very own house, I sat there, flipping through Netflix, desperately looking for a good LGBT+ show to watch. I was honestly looking for something I found on some random listicle, but it wasn’t available, and the always-helpful Netflix suggested QAF instead. I was delighted.

Watching it was a bit like revisiting my youth, remembering those days before I understood myself, I watched Justin and Brian fall in love. Before I understood that I have a particular attraction to the lives of gay men, before I really understood that I was queer and what that meant to me, I knew that I loved this show. So I indulged myself, and started watching.

Somewhere along the way, my husband joined me. We had been watching something dark and intense, and one night I asked him to give me a reprieve and to watch QAF instead, and he got hooked. Along the way, he did mention “this is the gayest show I’ve ever watched,” and remarked at the high number of penises seen in the later seasons, but other than that, we both enjoyed it immensely.

In any case, we recently finished the series. I am pretty sad about it, not just because of the ending (no spoilers here!), which was appropriate and true to character, but because I miss them already.

It also made me want to write a love story like Brian and Justin’s. I love them both individually (even though Brian’s a bit of an asshole) – something my husband will never understand. I think missing seasons 1 and 2 really set him back on the loving Brian train.

In any case, now I’m on the hunt for something relatively light to watch. What shows do YOU love? Bonus points if they have an LGBT+ slant.

Happy 2018!

Holy mackerel. Okay, it’s not that I *forgot* about this blog, exactly, it’s just that I realized I couldn’t keep up a several-times-a-week posting schedule and got discouraged. So I gave up.

I’m going to try not to let it happen again.

Things have changed. And they haven’t. I didn’t write much in 2017. Until NaNoWriMo of course. I DID create a Twitter account, posted my picture publicly for the first time (eep!), and joined several writing groups. I’m now a member of RWA, Rainbow Romance Writers, and Passionate Ink, as well as the RWA chapter for Virginia (my home state).

I also bought a new laptop.

In 2016, I wrote a sequel to Falling Apart, my love letter to Billy and Ryder which needs an immense amount of work. In 2017, I wrote what is tentatively titled Pulling Strings (which may be a little to on the nose, but again, tentative).

In 2018, I plan to edit Strings, as well as the sequel to Falling Apart, write at least two more books, win NaNo, and begin attending workshops. I also hope to attend GRL (https://www.gayromlit.com/home) this year (it’s in Virginia – how can I not go?) either as an author or as a reader, create a newsletter, tighten this website, blog more, submit to a publisher at least quarterly, and so much more. 2018 is going to be my YEAR.

That said, I hope it is OUR year, dear readers. I hope this is the year that readers find me, connect with me, and fall in love with my boys as deeply as I have.

If you are interested in following me on Twitter, find me at @writerrileylong.

I love you all, and I apologize for my disappearance. I hope you are willing to stick with me as I work towards making 2018 the year of Riley.

That would be a win

So. I chalked up another NaNoWriMo win this weekend. I didn’t doubt that I would, as I’m super competitive with myself. This year I challenged myself to finish earlier than ever, and I accomplished that goal. Now I’m extending the plan by  writing every day in November. I’ve also been lucky to find several new friends who would like to be Beta reading buddies/critique partners, and we’re working on figuring out that new relationship arrangement. I’m very excited. I’m taking this time in my life to dedicate more time to writing and become a more serious professional (as evidenced by my joining RWA, for one).

The sequel came out much better this time around, and I think you’ll enjoy it. We have a new supporting (but very important) character, meet Billy’s parents, and there’s a special surprise at the end.

Here’s an excerpt:

Ryder stopped abruptly. “Roll over.”
“What? I—” Billy protested.
“I’m serious. Roll over.”
“But I was getting so close.”
“Like I give a shit. Roll your ass over.”

I’m pretty pleased with how this one turned out. I hope you enjoy it as well!

Remarkably well

Another short one – I have a date tonight to watch American Horror Story with one of my besties – but I wanted to check in on the NaNo front with you all. It’s going remarkably well. I hit 20k yesterday, which I didn’t think I was going to do, and I’m farther ahead than I’ve ever been. Six days ahead, to be exact.

The downside is, I’m hitting the slump early. I’m feeling it, that mid-novel fatigue, and I’m tempted to switch to something else just for a bit to reinvigorate myself, but the only other WIP I have right now is handwritten, and I hate counting words by hand.

In any case, Billy and Ryder’s story is proceeding apace – lots of angst and relationship drama and uncertainty. Rest assured that they will get their HEA in the end (else it wouldn’t be a romance novel), and all will be well in Falling Apart land.

Speaking of which, I need a title for this sequel. I’m the worst at titling things. My working title is Coming Together – too cheesy? It’s not meant to be a double entendre, though I suppose it could be, if one wanted to look at it that way.

Regardless, NaNo is coming along remarkably well for me. How’s it going for you?

It’s going well

We’re three days into NaNo, and I’m going to make this a brief one, but it’s going well so far. I’ve got about 7,000 words, and the sequel is proceeding apace. In the first 5,000 words I crammed in two and a half sex scenes and an off-screen death. This is going to be a bit of a rollercoaster. I’ve got plenty planned, but I’m currently facing a little bit of a block, so today’s word count has been slow in coming along. I have about a half hour of writing time left for the night before I have to pack it up (Supernatural is on tonight), so I’d love to hear how NaNo is treating you all so far!

Last Minute Prep

Tomorrow is NaNo. In less than a dozen hours, I’ll be scribbling away in a notebook or pecking away at a computer keyboard, feverishly trying to get my word count in for the day. Okay, that’s maybe a stretch, because *checks clock* I’ll actually be at work in not-too-many hours, but you get my point.

I’m excited. I may have mentioned that before, but I’m more prepared than ever, and I feel good and ready. I’ve got the scenes plotted out, and I know I need to write a little more than a scene a day, and that each scene needs to be at least 1500 words. That’s a little neat and tidy, so I’m sure the actual execution will be messy as hell, but it’s a good starting point.

The one thing I haven’t done that I promised myself I would do is re-read Falling Apart. I swore I’d re-read it to get a feel for the voices again, and to remind myself of some of the important details (like eye color). I have started reading it, but there’s no way I’ll finish by tomorrow, unfortunately.

I’ll do my best to keep my blogging going – even minimally – throughout November. Are any of my friends here participating in NaNoWriMo?

Membership and Community

This week, I finally joined RWA. RWA is the Romance Writers of America, and it’s the professional organization that encompasses all romance writing. Being a romance writer, I figured it was time.

I’m already delighted by the options available to me as a member. There’s a great message board, and there are many online and in person chapters that cater to localities and special interest groups. There are online workshops, and if one joins the local groups, there are in person workshops as well. There are even contests.

My next “join” will be a special interest group, but I can’t decide between the erotic romance group and the LGBT+ romance group, and I think joining both is probably overkill at this time. (For me, anyway.)

It’s interesting, this sense of community and membership that I get from these organizations.

I realized how much I was missing/needing that when I started chatting on the NaNo forums, actually. NaNo has forums divided into genre subgroups, and I’ve been utilizing the Erotica, LGBT+, and Romance forums quite a bit. When I hit the Romance forums, I always feel like taking a breath and saying, “Ahh, I’m among my people.” But even there is a sense that erotica is the odd duck. The LGBT+ and Erotica groups are a little more tailored, but they, too, have the feel that as a m/m writer, I’m just not quite into one mold.

My local critique group is fantastic (I adore them, I really do), but I’m definitely the only erotica writer, and the only LGBT+ writer (in writing practice, that is), so once again, I’m just a bit off of the beaten path (wow, three metaphors for one experience… so sorry!). They are great, and are often my Beta readers and critique partners, but it would be nice to not feel like I’m imposing many of them, or having to censor myself for the group. (That said, Eye is fantastic and has never once complained about reading my stories – she’s a great crit buddy.)

Even when we have NaNo get togethers during November, I have to censor myself, or at the very least, I can’t share my writing with most of the writers there. Not that we do a lot of sharing – mostly we just write – but it would be nice not to feel slightly embarrassed of my work. I’m proud of what I write, and I wish I could feel that way all the time.

All of that is why I’m excited to join RWA and special interest groups. I’m hoping that I can find a community of practice there that makes me feel less like an outsider and more like a family member.

I’m curious – are you a member of any professional organizations? Writerly or otherwise? Do you plan to join one once you’re published or hit a certain level of status in your writing? Or, if you’re not aiming for publication, do you ever plan on joining one?

Why I Love to Write

It’s no secret that I love writing. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother with it. It’s hard, in so many ways. It’s intellectually challenging, emotional, and taxing on the brain and body (carpal tunnel, anyone?), so why would anyone write if they didn’t love it? Well, maybe for the paycheck, but – now maybe this was a secret – I don’t get enough of a paycheck for writing to be my reliable source of income. Maybe one day that’ll change, but it’ll take a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get there.

So the question is, then, why do I love to write?

The answer isn’t so simple.

  1. I love to write for the escape it provides me. Now, that makes it sound like I’m trying to escape my real life, which I’m not, not really. But we can all use a healthy escape outlet, and writing is one such outlet for me. It helps block out the bad and let me get fully immersed into a world of my own creation from time to time.
  2. I love to create. Writing is the unique sensation of creating a world, sometimes from scratch. Creating people from nothing. Building cities, shaping things in my own way. It can be a lot of fun.
  3. I love to bring joy to others. This one sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I know that at least some of the people reading my stuff enjoy it, and making people happy makes me happy.
  4. I write to leave something behind. Now, most people might not think of smutty m/m novellas as something worth leaving behind, but I write because it leaves me a legacy. My writing will live on once I die. It’s a little grandiose, but it’s true.
  5. I write because I can’t not write. It’s like I have a fire burning inside of me and I have to write to relieve the fire. That’s not a very good metaphor, but it’s the best way I can explain it. I feel as though I have to write, as though I must write. Stories inside of me are dying to get out, and I don’t have any choice but to write them down.
  6. I write because the characters won’t leave me alone. This one is more related to my NaNo project, but sometimes I have characters and ideas that just won’t go away, or won’t be satisfied with a little piece of flash fiction. Never has this been more true than in the case of Billy Cunningham and Ryder Sullivan, cowboy-meets-rocker and falls in love. They just won’t go away, damn it, and they insist there’s more story to tell.

As you can see, there are many reasons I love to write, and these are just some of them. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing. Writers, what are some reasons that YOU love to write?


Imagine: You’re locked in a room with no way out, and a small group of people are locked in with you. You are faced with a series of complex tasks, puzzles, and clues, all of which will lead you to a door that is your salvation. You have one hour to escape, or be locked away forever.

I have recently had the joy of experiencing two escape rooms. Both were vastly different experiences, and in one, my team narrowly missed escaping (we were about 5 minutes from solving the final clue when our time ran out), and in the other, my team narrowly escaped (we had about 25 seconds left on the clock when we found the last door and put in the code that opened it). Without giving too much away, I thought I’d share these experiences with you.

In my first escape room experience, we found ourselves recently deceased and at the gates to Heaven. St. Peter had stepped away from the gates, and we had one hour to rummage through the room and find evidence of our misdeeds in order to slip through the pearly gates and be allowed access into Heaven. The room was set up with a series of puzzles that needed to be solved (some were sequential, some were not) before the pearly gates would open, freeing us. There were word puzzles, logic puzzles, math puzzles, secret codes to decipher, and more. We did find the evidence of our misdeeds, and disposed of most of it, but our time ran out just when we realized that there was one final puzzle to solve, and that we weren’t free after all. We had so much fun, but we were all very disappointed that we didn’t escape in time. (Even the organizers were surprised we didn’t escape – they had been watching us throughout and had predicted early on that we would actually beat the course record.)

In my second escape room, we were a little better prepared. Three of us had participated in the first, and that gave us a slight edge – we knew, in some ways, what to expect. The room was different (very different), but having had the experience previously gave us a feel for the flow of the game. This room was titled “Glitch in the Matrix” and in some ways was much harder than the first. It has the lowest solve rate of all of the rooms at this particular escape room experience (#humblebrag). The room was a little mind-blowing. When you enter, you are completely taken by surprise. I won’t ruin it by telling how it was surprising, but suffice it to say, it was nothing like what any of us had expected. There were several chambers in this room and  you had to pass through each chamber to ultimately escape. The puzzles were hard, but we managed to crack the codes and freed ourselves with seconds to spare. It was great fun.

A few points of information about escape rooms:

  • No, you’re not really locked in. There’s one door that’s always unlocked, for safety and fire code reasons. People are welcome to step out to take a breather, use the restroom, or partake of the snacks in the lounge. In my first escape room, several people stepped out for various reasons, but in my second one nobody stepped out for any reason. I think this helped.
  • No, it’s not scary. It’s a little creepy (one escape room they offer is set up to resemble an abandoned asylum, for example), but never were we scared for our safety. There was one puzzle that we were a little nervous to solve, because it involved some blind faith in the organizers, but we sucked it up, and solved the puzzle. Nothing bad happened.
  • Are you in with strangers? Well, that’s a possibility. The rooms hold a maximum number of people, and if your group doesn’t buy out the tickets for a particular room, the company may sell tickets to the room to others, which means you could be working with strangers. It might be a disaster, but it might be amazing!
  • Don’t stop trying. Try everything. Try pushing, (gently) pulling, lifting, looking under. Don’t dismiss anything as unimportant. Nearly everything is a clue, and while there might be some red herrings, you can’t afford to ignore anything, at least not at first.
  • You don’t need anything with you except your brain. Some escape rooms allow cell phone usage for help on your puzzles, some do not. I don’t know of any escape rooms that allow photography or video inside the rooms – that’s just spoiling the surprises for anyone who comes after you. We frequently used our cell phones as flashlights, and in each room we looked up one puzzle – not that the answers to specific puzzles can be found on the internet, but you might look up a math formula, or the Greek alphabet, for example.
  • Work together. Teamwork is crucial. The quieter your room is (in terms of interacting with one another), the less likely you’ll escape.
  • If you have an idea, call it out, no matter how stupid or obvious you think it might be. Your teammates may be thinking of things differently, and you just might have the right idea.

In all, it was a fabulous experience. Highly recommended, 10/10, would do again. And again. And again. In fact, I’m already plotting when I can escape from the asylum.

Pre NaNoWriMo planning

​Well, it’s that time again, and NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. I know it’s not for everyone, but I’ve played seriously every year since 2012 (I not-seriously joined in 2011, and wrote about 2,000 words), and won every time. I’ve also won a few Camps, including the Camp during which I wrote Falling Apart, though I haven’t done every camp since I started. So anyway, I’ll be playing again this year.

This year I have big plans. Big, big plans. I’ve converted from being a pantser to a plotter, which is a big change, though it took lots of time. I started using the Snowflake Method about two years ago, on my first attempt at a sequel to Falling Apart. It was a terrible piece of work, truly, and I have not attempted to resurface it or edit it at all. Looking back, it was too melodramatic and contrived, and involved an ex boyfriend of Ryder’s surfacing to mess up Ryder and Billy’s happy relationship. I didn’t like the introduction of another person as a roadblock to their relationship, because I didn’t want there to be any implications of cheating. But still, I wrote it, while editing Falling Apart for MLR for that matter.

Back to my plans: I’m once again entering the world of Falling Apart to play with Ryder and Billy.

There’s something about those two that just won’t let me go. In my other stories, I have no problem giving the characters a send-off and never hearing from them again, but not Billy and Ryder. They just won’t stop. So this year, I’m throwing a different complication at them, and I’m going to attempt to craft it into something worthy of your attention. We can thank Eye for the complication. I emailed her with a plea: “Give me a plot!” and she responded with seven words that formed the basis for this novel. (Those seven words will remain a secret until I decide whether this novel is worth publication.)

I’ve really enjoyed the Snowflake Method this year. In the past, I’ve only taken bits and pieces of it, just done the first few steps to give myself a few bones to chew on. This year, I’ve taken it almost all the way through, and I have a full skeleton. I even have a list of each scene that needs to happen and whose POV it’s coming from.

The husband is dedicated to my NaNo success again this year, going so far as to call November “your month” – the month during which he will shoulder a lot of the childcare while I go to write-ins galore.

I look forward to NaNo this year, and I hope you are too! Feel free to share your project in the comments!