WROTE – The Evolution of One Author’s Journey

Hey all. SA “Baz” Collins here.

When Scott asked me to guest blog on his site I was immediately intrigued. In the short time I’ve come to know Scott and his works I’ve been nothing short of impressed at the sheer volume of work he does in queer storytelling (writing novels being just one aspect).

So what to write about? I pondered talking about my current work (Angels of Mercy – which has a new release coming out at the end of September) that dives into homophobia in competitive sports (in this case American high school football). And while a great opportunity to talk about a subject that means a great deal to me, I thought I should reach deeper and talk about where my life in writing has taken me.

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I’ve babbled about it from time to time on my own author blog site. But then I realized that I haven’t spent a whole lot of time talking about how my journey has been affected by other authors (like Scott) who I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to cross paths with via the podcast I co-host with Jayne Lockwood and Vance Bastian – the 3M/Musketeers Podcast and where that journey has led me and how it has affected my own works.

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I’ve always been one for conversation and if you’ve heard me on the podcast you know I am never at a loss for words (sometimes I can’t shut my pie-hole – believe me, I know, I get it. You should see the post-its and little windows I have up with big words broadcasting back to me – LET THEM TALK!). I know it’s a thing with me. But what you may not know, what drives me to be so vocal, is that these amazing authors stir up passions about the things I am most passionate about.

Some backstory (because as authors, we’re all about the backstory): The show began as a conversation between Jayne Lockwood and me several months ago. To be honest, I don’t recall who reached out to who back then. But reach out to each other we did. You see, Jayne had just penned a short story where two guys in a story evolved into being gay (god, she’ll have a laugh that only I can say that men “evolve” when they become gay). The emails started between us, then evolved into Trillian chat sessions where we’d chat with each other over the craft of writing, capture it and post it on our blogs. She’d interview me and then the next time I’d interview her. It went back and forth like that for a bit. She’d post her interview and I’d post mine on our respective sites. It was fun, we didn’t know what we were doing with it all but one thing did become quite clear: we wanted to explore why we were doing what we were doing. This is the seed that eventually gave birth to the podcast we have today. We toyed with the idea that we’d invite another author into the chat and see what we could capture and post about there.

It was about this time that Jayne posted a blog conversation between us where I said something akin to straight women writing about us (gay men) was a disconnect for me. Not that I didn’t think women could write about us and said so – but everyone seemed to have missed that point – it was clear: I’d stepped in it nonetheless. I posted on a MM Monday something to that effect not knowing that I’d poked the hornet’s nest that I found out later had been raging in the group from time to time. To put it bluntly, I got bashed for it. Now, since the podcast is out there, and if you’ve heard a single episode, you’ll know I am not one to walk away from a heated debate. This comes from years and years of such debates at the family dinner table while I was growing up. When coupled with a very thick skin from my years in pro-theater/opera, I can take (and dole out) just about anything that comes my way. So the debate that raged then I actually welcomed. Good, I thought. Let’s have at it. I’d rather talk about the elephant in the room than to pretend it’s not there. It’s just how I roll.

It was about this time that Vance entered the picture. He suddenly showed up one day in the Queer SciFi facebook group Scott runs and I struck up an conversation with him. Little did I know the production super hero I’d just met was about to change my life, for a whole lot better. And I don’t say that lightly. Let me be absolutely clear on this singular point: Vance is the powerhouse behind what we do with the podcast. He is the show’s super hero, nothing short of it. He is the keel that keeps us on course. We couldn’t do this without him. I know Jayne would agree.

So I introduced Jayne and Vance to one another (at least that’s how I remember it) and we sort of started the conversation between us. It was clear that we were all doing our own thing trying to sort out why we did what we did. We soon discovered that not only was Vance an amazing writer but he was a professional in traditional publishing. Eureka! We had someone with insider knowledge! So we started to have a conversation between us. We bandied about trying to do it via a Trillian chat and posting our rambles when I thought of another way to do it: podcasting.

You see, I’d done it before back when it was all new and exciting. I just never found the people that had a passion for it like I did. So I proposed the idea to Jayne and Vance, and it went from there. The concept of the show took form and Vance came up with the name and the direction. Our first episode we didn’t have anyone on. We hadn’t sorted how to get that particular ball rolling. But what we did figure out early on was that authors needed a platform. More than the Facebook postings, the book tweets, the cover reveals, the blog tours, they needed something else.

What authors needed most: was a voice.

So that’s what Jayne, Vance and I did in our first ep. We gave a voice to ourselves, hoping like a beacon in the night, we’d attract others to our little world. We wrapped up the first episode and collectively thought – OMG, we’ve got something here. We laughed, we commiserated with each other, we cheered each other on in that first round-table episode. Like everything else we figured it out on-the-fly. But one thing we did sort out very quickly – be quick at learning what does work and shave what doesn’t. The first ep was in the can. I took on editing, Vance did the website and artwork, Jayne jumped into the fray wherever it was needed. We released our baby into the world and then went: what do we do now?

Authors. We needed others like ourselves to talk about what drives them in their works. I knew to help get us rolling I wanted someone who I felt we could really break the ice. Problem was, I didn’t know if he’d do it. But nothing ventured, right? So I tapped Brad Vance to be our first guest author. Amazingly, he accepted.

And the rest , as they say, is history. We’ve now just booked our thirtieth episode (taking us into January of 2016). We’ve sourced our first sponsor (Scrivener), we’ve reached out and engaged authors who write some of the most compelling works out there. These are brilliant, brilliant, bright and delightful people. Some were apprehensive about coming on, some just couldn’t wait to ‘just do it’ and get on with it. It ran the spectrum. If you haven’t listened to the podcast, you should. The conversations we’ve been having have been so enlightening, engaging and downright humorous (if you’re a newbie to our podcast, definitely listen for the bloopers/outtakes at the end of the credit roll and you get a glimpse of how much fun these shows really are to put together).

But as with all things, change is the constant. We started out leaning heavily on M/M Romance because it is the big driver in queer fiction as of late. But we soon realized there is so much more out there, AND across ALL storytelling mediums (books being just one part of the queer storytelling arena). We weren’t addressing it all, and we felt we needed to.

So in October, the 3M/Musketeers podcast will be evolving to grow with this new thrust into all aspects of queer storytelling. We are going to broaden it not only across literature genres (Romance, SciFi/Fantasy, Crime Noir, YA, Action-Adventure, Dystopian Dramas, you name it) but also across all mediums – screenplay writing, poetry (hopefully with LIVE READS!), music, theatre, and dance – to name a few. We also want to talk to non-fiction story tellers – like the plight of our queer brothers and sisters in Russia, the dilemma of homeless queer youth, the coming out story of an out athlete – it’s all a part of this new adventure in queer storytelling. If it’s queer, and there’s a story to go with it (even if it’s lyrics to a song), we’re gonna want to talk to you!

Our new show is called: WROTEWRitten On The Edge. And just like our last launch, we’ve got big dreams for it. So if you’re an author who doesn’t write romance and thought – our show wasn’t about you, or a songwriter who writes amazing songs about the queer experience and thought – they’re podcasting about books, or a screenplay writer who wants to get the world excited about your new movie script and thought – it’s not literature, well our new endeavor is all about you. The podcast tent just got a whole lot wider. We want to engage and talk with you all.

And to all the authors who were a part of our original show, I know Jayne, Vance and I have been so enriched working with you. Your voices, your incredible works, your willingness to dive in and be a part of the conversation has been nothing short of extraordinary. My co-hosts and I are deeply humbled that you’ve embraced what we’re doing. We know we couldn’t be doing what we’re doing without each and every one of you!

And these conversations have enriched my own writing, too. They color what I do in my own works. And they’re important conversations to have. Writing is a very lonely business. It’s often isolated. Where the incredible worlds we work on are in our heads and we’re working furiously to get them all down on digital paper so we can share them with the world. Writers often don’t get to be in the spotlight and we should. We are the keepers of tales. We are the stewards and gods of our worlds. We reflect upon life and write about the human condition. Writers have a voice beyond the page. Our podcast strives to give them that voice, to cheer them on and to promote and help others discover their works. I hope if you’ve listened to our podcast in the past, you’ll like what we’re about to do. If you’re a newbie to the show, please give it a go; you just might discover a writer you never knew about and a whole new set of worlds will be there for you to enjoy. That’s the spirit of it all.

I want to thank Scott for letting me share this amazing show’s journey and how it’s allowed us to shine some light on authors to let them talk about what is important to them in their works. Please join us for this new adventure as the 3M/Musketeers evolve into a new show that is WRitten On The Edge.