Another gorgeous artwork from Amy! You can find more Daron’s Guitar Chronicles art at Amy’s etsy shop.
Another gorgeous artwork from Amy! You can find more Daron’s Guitar Chronicles art at Amy’s etsy shop.
The New Orleans venue looked familiar because it was. Moondog Three had played there in 1989. In fact one of our band stickers was still prominently displayed on a supply cabinet in the green room there, a metal cabinet so scuffed and dented that for all I know was held together by all the band and promo stickers on it.
I know. I said “our” band stickers as if I weren’t there with a different band. That just goes to show how I think about it, I guess. Moondog 3 would, and always will, be “ours”/”us” in my mind.
Besides our beloved Daron, there is a lot of free fiction on the internet. Not everything is good. There is a lot of dross, but there are many gems as well. In this contribution to the Thursday posts I am going to share a few of the original (not fanfiction) short stories that I have found worth reading over the last few years, in the hopes that you’ll enjoy them as well. All of these have m/m themes. All of these are fun, (relatatively) short and, best of all, they are free! If you have others to share, I’d love to see your recs in the comments!
1) El Presidio Rides North – Domashita Romero, 19K words
Blurb: In a post-zombie apocalypse world, an almost-madman named Mercury and his newfound companion, Gaga, seek refuge in a RV-turned-mobile-fortress.
Why I rec it: I don’t do zombies. Or werewolves, or vampires or what have you. And yet I loved this story. It is fresh and quirky and poignant. I wouldn’t call it classically romantic, but there is something between Mercury and Gaga that makes you want to cheer. Whether they will end up in the North with other survivors or back at the World’s Largest Adult Bookstore, it doesn’t really matter. The ending is Happy For Now (HFN) but a very positive one. Perfect beach read.
Romero has a large collection of stories with a wild variety of characters. They are listed on ArchiveOfOurOwn.com (AO3) under whitachi. If you’re unfamiliar with AO3 (it’s a fanfiction site), you can download everything you find on there by opening a story, clicking the download button in the upper right corner and choosing your format.
Blurb: Nikhil “Nik” Larson is a snarky, dark-skinned adoptee from India who grew up in the Whitest Town in America. Back to visit his parents Nik meets Trooper Jurgen Dammerung, a blond, butch motorcycle cop who’s so hot he leaves a con trail wherever he goes.
Jurgen is the epitome of everything Nik hated about growing up the lone Indian boy among a town of white people. But Jurgen surprises him rather (ahem) pleasantly, in spite of — or because of — Nik’s attempts to needle him. By the end of his visit, Nik realizes he likes Jurgen. But Jurgen’s so not the relationship type.
Why I rec it: You may know Anne Tenino from books she has published, but this was the story that started it all. It was originally written for the summer story project of the m/m romance group on goodreads. Everything works in this story: the structure, the characters, the conflict, the sex and it has many brilliant one-liners. One of the side characters, Sam, got his own book with Too Stupid To Live, and you can find a short sequel for Nik and Jurgen here or here.
3) Of Sweaters and Heartache – LyingOutLoud, 14K words
Blurb: I had a pretty good life going, but then my ex had to march into my favorite coffee bar and back into my life. I hate him. And his stupid sweater.
Why I rec it: Excellent break up – make up story. Lucas has anger issues for sure. And Matt so obviously still loves him. They are not easy characters to like, but they are perfect in their imperfection. I am not normally a fan of flashbacks but they are used very well in this story. It’s emotional, but you’ll smile through the whole thing. Definite Happily Ever After (HEA).
4) It’s More Like Scifi, Really – Freak Perfume, 34K words
Blurb: Somehow what should have been a typical summer holiday turns into something straight out of a rejected romance novel. His friends are sure he’s heading for happily ever after, or at least some heavy petting. Rhys isn’t entirely convinced.
Why I rec it: Freak Perfume’s stories tend to start a bit rambling and chaotic, but once you hit 20% mark or so you’ll be in love with the characters and completely sucked in. The stars of this story are the 3 friends Rhys, Cerwyn and Gwenliann. They live in a small Welsh town where nothing every happens. When Max and his mother move into town AND the traveling performers, Les Enfants, arrive for their yearly stop, things do happen. In unexpected ways. Which I am not going to spoil for you. The story is light, funny and totally endearing. HEA.
Or you could try In Bad Taste, 41K words
I kept going back and forth about which Freak Perfume story I wanted to list here, so hey, here is your bonus story.
Blurb: It’s not easy being an executive transvestite in a position of power over a bunch of eccentric drama queens. It gets worse when you despise your clients, but thank god for coffee and PA’s.
Why I rec it: Leslie wears women’s clothes but is all man. Add a modeling agency full of queens, an amorous boss, the boss’ cross dressing famous shoe designer twin brother, too much alcohol and cigarettes, and Grigori, Leslie’s shoulder to cry on, and what you get is chaos and something unexpectedly romantic amidst the crises and the cat hair. HEA.
5) Cold Turkey – Zebbie , 59K words
Blurb: If there were groups for this, I know exactly what I’d say. “My name is Thom Oliver, and I’m addicted. It’s been six months, 3 days, 14 hours since my last one night stand. Please keep Evan Llewellyn away from me. I think I’m going to rape him.
Why I rec it: This one is longer and angstier than the other ones, but so worth it. It’s my favorite of the lot, even if it’s not as much of a beach read. Thom is a player, or rather, was a player, because 6 months ago he decided to stop using people. He is going cold turkey off the one night stands. Things are going fine until Evan shows up. What follows is a battle of wills, a battle for control, lots of projection and the struggle to trust again when you’ve been hurt in the past. Evan has his own issues and things are complicated, often not very pretty. As regular Daron readers I know you can handle all this!
Despite what the blurb says there is no rape, but there is some dub-con. The reason I am still listing this as a ‘fun freebie’ is because of Thom’s razor sharp observations, that are funny enough to make you laugh, even while you’re cringing. It’s a love story about a young man who is deathly afraid to fall in love and even more afraid to admit that he is afraid. Barely squeeking by as an HFN, but I am determined that these guys are going to make it!
To download the stories from fictionpress, with all the chapters etc. in one file, your current best bet is a website called ficsave . Just enter the url of the first chapter in the box on the left, select the format you want and click the download button. If you have a kindle you can choose to have them emailed. Some stories (and this is true for AO3 as well) include the author notes at the beginning of each chapter. These are often annoying and break the flow, but hey, the stories are free.
Zebbie, LyingOutLoud and Freak Perfume seem to have disappeared off the face of the internet, unfortunately. In Zebbie’s case this is especially tragic since s/he left so many unfinished stories. I would grab these stories before their owners realize their youthful indiscretions are still online and they remove them!
Next month I will talk about some of the longer free online fiction that I have enjoyed.
I didn’t hear until after the show, but the word was that the St. Louis Arena had sold out, so I guess the national anthem thing worked out. The band was in the bus and rolling out of there before midnight. It was a long overnight drive to NOLA, and we weren’t sleepy right away, so me and Remo and Flip sat in the back lounge and passed a bottle of whiskey and played guitar for a while.
When I woke up it was well into the morning and we weren’t there yet, and I had slept six or seven hours. I brushed my teeth again and went back to my bunk and slept again, probably two more hours? Until we arrived. It felt like a lot of sleep.
We were at a big hotel on Canal Street, at one edge of the French Quarter, where I’d stayed at least one other time. We got checked in pretty easily and then Remo asked me if I could amuse myself until sundown while he took care of some business. I told him of course I could: me and Charlie could rehearse. We agreed to meet for an early dinner.
Charlie and I rehearsed for about an hour and then he wanted a nap. I went out and found myself some lunch in the French Quarter and wandered around listening to street musicians. The temperature was perfect, in the high seventies and not too humid.
It was late afternoon when I made my way down to the gay end of Bourbon Street and got a drink at one of the bars there. I cruised by sitting still at one of the upper level bars and making eye contact with people–men–as they went by. When I’m on a bar stool you can’t tell at first glance how short or how nervous I am.
I was trying to take Colin’s advice seriously. Ziggy’s advice, too. If I didn’t get my balls emptied on something like a regular basis, I would wind up until I snapped. The bus was not a good place to wank, and neither was the bathroom if Flip was in the bed a few feet away.
Did you know that about 98 percent of oral sex feels exactly the same with a condom on? At least when you’re the one getting blown it does. At least on my dick. Giving head to someone wearing a condom, on the other hand, feels really different to me than when they’re not.
And I’m bringing this up now because? Oh, no reason.
I was in a knickknack shop, working my way back across the Quarter to meet Remo for dinner, when Ziggy’s song came on the radio. “People can NOT get enough of this song!” the deejay said. “Maybe that’s because you can’t buy it, can’t get it on CD, album, or tape. It literally arrived in our office on a reel with a ransom-style note attached to it, but it’s pretty obvious who this is. Heck, we don’t even know the title of the song, so we’re calling it ‘Breaking Chains.'”
Why it took until that moment for me to grasp what the stunt was about, I don’t know. But I suddenly realized the song wasn’t about Ziggy breaking free from me, it was about record company control. Maybe it was even about breaking free of genre. And it was a brilliant stunt because they got all this buzz, all these radio stations playing it, and people calling up and requesting it, specifically because it was something they couldn’t sell.
And the reason they couldn’t sell it was because presumably you couldn’t put me and Ziggy together on a record at BNC right now without someone in the legal department having a conniption.
Remo and me and Alan and George met two musician friends of Remo’s and we all ate in a little private dining room at one of the really fancy-schmancy places, but I guess because we were in a private room we didn’t have to have jackets and ties on. We stuffed ourselves quite well and then the two friends–who it turned out were a banjo player and a percussionist Remo knew from folk festivals– took us around to some clubs to hear music.
We hit three different places, and each place had a two-drink minimum, which probably didn’t apply to us “guests” but I wanted to respect the rules, you know? And then we ended up back at the hotel playing music ourselves and you know, I’m at my most whole and functional with a guitar in my hands, so I think I made a good impression on Remo’s friends even if I was pretty drunk by then.
And then I paged Ziggy and fell asleep.
When I woke up my eyes felt like they were full of burning sand. Then I realized I had opened them because the phone was ringing. I picked it up and covered them with my other hand. “Hello?”
Ziggy. God. Ziggy. “Holy shit I miss you,” I said.
“Are you even awake yet?”
“No. Which is how you know it’s the truth. Actually can you hang on a second?” I put the phone down and went to the bathroom because my bladder was dangerously full. Then I drank a little water and puked it up immediately because it was too cold. One thing at a time, I guess. I brushed my teeth carefully, then had a tiny sip of water and it was okay. Okay.
I went back to the phone. “Still there?”
“How’d you guess?”
“This is a New Orleans phone number, you know.” He chuckled.
“Yeah, it is.” I sat on the edge of the bed. The other bed wasn’t slept in and I wondered where Flip had spent the night. “This is the same hotel where you and I had an epic epic epic fight a couple of years ago.”
“Our first epic fight? Okay, to be clear, our first epic fight that wasn’t about music. I mean, that was about…us.”
I lay back on the bed. “I’m a moron. I actually didn’t call to tell you that. I don’t know why I brought it up.”
“Because, deep down, you’re still mad about it?”
“No. I don’t think I am. I just…it was a coincidence, and I just can’t keep my mouth shut. Anyway. The reason I called.”
“You just wanted to hear my voice?”
“Yes, but also because I have been hearing your voice. All over the freaking place.”
He didn’t say anything but I could hear rustling sounds that I could easily picture were Ziggy doing a victory dance.
“I miss you.”
“I miss you, too, asshole.”
There really wasn’t anything important to say after that.
In today’s fan post, Chris K. has compiled an amazing collection of quotes. She writes:
“For me, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles has been like taking an unbelievable journey with an All Access Backstage Pass. From the first chapter, I was hooked. The story drew me in and has never let go. I found myself talking about the book frequently, usually quoting from the current chapter. I started jotting down quotes, some unforgettable, others emotional or angst ridden. I thought it might be interesting to see how a collection of a single quote from each chapter would “tell the story”. The hardest part was limiting myself to just 1 quote per chapter! Do you have a favorite DGC quote from Book 1?”
If you do have a fave quote, please post it in the comments!
Ch. 1 (I Love Rock and Roll): “I pulled my shirt off and accepted the net. When I held it up I could make out arm holes. It was some kind of string vest, and when it was drawn tight it made me look like I’d played cat’s cradle in a tornado.” – Daron
Ch. 2 (Invisible Touch): “The club was called “The Cage”, and I felt like a circus animal up there, dressed in orange and florescent pink, getting ready to play a gig with a band with the fucked-up-edly spelled name of Tygerz Claw. (I think the theory was that if it worked for Def Leppard, and Led Zeppelin before them, it could work for these guys, but I didn’t ask.) – Daron
Ch. 3 (Another Lost Classic): “You call this working? Daron, I…oh, Christ, I have to say this. You look like a five-dollar whore. I hope you know that. It’s breaking my heart here, seeing you like this.” – Remo
Ch. 4 (Always Something There to Remind Me): “And what would I have said to her, or to Digger – hey, I’m broke and whoring myself out to poodle-hair bands? Yeah, right. Oh, and by the way, I’m living a life of sin and perversion, too. Jeezus.” – Daron
(DGC News: Daron’s Guitar Chronicles volume 7 ebook is now live for pre-order. Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00ZN34BEK | Smashwords: http://owl.li/OmVAX | Daron & ctan will livechat on August 4th to celebrate. RSVP on FB.)
I did nothing much on our day off in Indianapolis. I finally got to sleep and I slept several hours, and then after the maid woke me up I slept again. I had a short swim in the pool and then a long soak in the hot tub. Clarice and Fran caught up to me there and we all soaked for a while, and then they told me they were going to take me somewhere for barbecue.
I’m not sure if Martin and Flip took it on themselves or if they were assigned to talk me down. When we got to the hotel in Indianapolis at four in the morning I was off the bus like a shot, but I didn’t make it to the elevator before they caught up with me.
“Dude, did you have dinner?” Flip was asking.
The subtitle is “9 songs Ziggy could have sent Daron, and 4 responses Daron surely would have sent back,” because, as Cecilia commented in an email, these two are definitely not above communicating through song.
It shouldn’t be hard to confess at this point that I get obsessive about certain things. Right? I mean: I know it, you guys know it. It’s not news.
But I got sort of embarrassingly obsessive about trying to hear that song again. I didn’t even know what it was. A new single? A B-side? I knew I should call Jordan to pick his brain, but I wanted to hear it first. And the thing is we were just starting a run of three shows in three nights: Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland. So we were living in buses for the foreseeable future.
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Daron's Guitar Chronicles won the 2010 Rose and Bay Award for crowdfunded fiction!