Ajax Bell

Author of the Queen City Boys books


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What stories smell like

Scent memory is so much stronger for me than anything else and association is equally important. I have a few colognes I wear when writing certain characters. There are scents that can drive me completely away from a story or emotion. I’ve had a lot of life changes in recent years, personal growth left a new me who was never completely comfortable smelling like old me.

I spent a good nine months shopping for new cologne. Lots of samples, lots of fails. I’ve mostly resorted to CK One and CK Be because I enjoy smelling like 1996 and they are easy unisex scents.

But after so much trial and error I think I found two. Commodity’s ‘Book’ which looked interesting, obviously from the name, but also someone described it as smelling exactly like their grandparents’ house in the Pacific Northwest (shelves of books, evergreen forests, and a little marine air). And holy smoke does it ever. It smells like a hippie farm where I spent some of my childhood. Simultaneously greenly crisp and woodsy, and also like old books and worn wood (in a good way).

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The second one is TokyoMilk Curiositie No 68 ‘Tomorrow.’ Described as “marine salt and cypress” it smells exactly like a trip to the north Pacific coast: salt air, damp old trees, and sweet moss.

Now I smell both strange and delicious, genderless, and very much like home. These scents make me feel settled and comfortable, much more like myself than years of lavender and grapefruit (also good, but never quite perfect). I’ll keep the CKs for when I need to be less exotic, but what a delight it is to smell like a room full of old books in a Pacific coast rainforest.

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‘Book’ is a fantastic scent entrance into my next task of finishing the next Queen City Boys book, Bad Reputation. The main character, Shane, comes to Seattle from a small coastal town, more used to woods than concrete. To sit and write this story smelling of home, of coastal forests, and feeling a wistful sense of a missed home feels exactly perfect, the scent memory I needed to connect to my own words.

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It’s finally here!

My new novella, Star Quality is for sale on Amazon!  In September 2015 it’ll be available at all online retailers, but isn’t it great you can read it now? I mean, you know, if it’s your sort of thing.  It’s got a lot going for it though!  I mean who doesn’t want an m/m/m threesome, featuring an open marriage, a gfy/ofy character, and a brief bisexual interlude with a female character? Okay, definitely not for everyone, but at least two people like it so far:

“Boy oh boy you better be ready for some major hotness friends, because when these men come together, watch out!” -Bec, Bike Book Reviews

“A really enjoyable, sexy read and a very different follow-up to This Charming Man. Loved it!” -Leta Blake, author

And hey, it hasn’t even been out for 24 hours and already it’s #15 in bestsellers in its category! Wheee!

 

So I’m feeling pretty good!  Maybe you will too, if you go read it. And then you can come back and talk to me about it! Or not if you’re shy. That’s okay too.


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In the home stretch

Writing a book is an all consuming journey. Research, plotting, writing, revising, editing. And then once you’ve labored through all that there’s still blurbs and marketing copy to write, covers to approves, book for format, and check and recheck for typos (they never go away, I think they magically generate in clean books). At some point it feels like nothing will ever happen, nothing with is at the end, you’ll just be looping around forever polishing cover copy. But eventually it all ends and a book is born!

I’m getting close on Star Quality, covers are coming so soon I can barely stand it! And we have achieved blurb!

Star Quality by Ajax Bell

On-screen passion and off-screen intrigues

Kevin Kaisho plays gay on the popular nighttime TV drama Shadow Lane. Kevin’s on-screen love interest is his long-time friend, the out and proud (and married) Nick Jantzen. After spending a press junket flirting with Nick to titillate fans, Kevin’s feelings become complicated: Nick’s husband Andrew shows up, making suggestive overtures. With unexpected desires invading his dreams, Kevin must discover what kind of starring role he really wants.

Andrew Walker is successful in his own right as a fashion designer, and he’s quite happy with his life, even if he and Nick are often kept apart by their work. But when he sees a picture of Nick and his new co-star Kevin cozied up for the camera, he’s intrigued. Can he coax Kevin–and Nick–into seeing that starring together in real life can be richer and more complex than a TV drama?

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Star Quality is an erotica novella coming on June 1, 2015 to Amazon, and wide release in September 2015.


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Where does the time go?

10062I had such high hopes for this year. I had a plan, a schedule, things to do. How is it nearly half way over already? The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men and all that. Nothing to do but gather my (few) accomplishments and push on, gentle, but not into that good night.

Obviously I’ve been reading too much poetry (is there such a thing?) but what else have I been doing? Not finishing books, that’s for sure! All right, that’s not true. I have finished a novella and it’s coming soon to an Amazon screen near you (other venues to follow eventually).

Star Quality, is a smutty little story of falling for your hot friend and his husband. In Canada! With bonus TV show production back drop. Yeah I definitely realize this isn’t everyone’s cuppa, but hey, some of you, somewhere, have been looking for really explicit m/m/m married menage, gfy/ofy fic with made up TV stars, right? If so, watch this space for details forthcoming, just as soon as there’s a cover!).

That’s an accomplishment I’m pretty proud of, but life has mostly just gotten in my way this year. Some family stuff. Some personal stuff. Then I started a new job, which is a great job, but has upheaved my life just enough to cut down writing time. I travelled to Seattle, to New York city, to San Francisco. But I’m home and I’m ready, I’m steady, I’m gonna get back to it. I have the next Queen City Boys novel, Bad Reputation about halfway done (what does that even mean?) and a good start on an as yet untitled sci-fi book. And two short stories in the making. Things are coming!

And hey, new website is happening soon too. And there’s a mailing list to go sign up for fiction updates and extras.

So, my friends, what have you been up too?


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Fear the Kalends, let slide the Ides

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“Ides” comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be Five Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Used in the first Roman calendar as well as in the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E.) the confusing system of Kalends, Nones, and Ides continued to be used to varying degrees throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

So, the Ides of March is just one of a dozen Ides that occur every month of the year, it was only Shakespeare’s words that give it meaning, made it a threat. Kalends, the word from which calendar is derived, is more threatening to our current existence. Kalendrium means account book in Latin: Kalend, the first of the month, was in Roman times as it is now, the date on which bills are due.

"Sousse mosaic calendar March" by Ad Meskens - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


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(Seattle) punk is dead, long live punk

I don’t know if this is true for everyone else, but research when writing a book is kind of an endless hole of procrastination for me. It’s excusable, sure I’m not writing, but hey! I’m researching, that’s just as important. Who can argue with that? Still I need some structure around it because I can lose hours chasing down things that might not be useful to me. And I tell myself that research isn’t as valid as writing perhaps because I enjoy it so much. But the research is what underpins everything, it’s what saves me from going down the wrong road while writing.

My current manuscript is set in Seattle in 1982. Sure we all remember the 80s from movies, from pop culture, from our own history, but what was it really like? What was it really like in Seattle? I’ve been remembering, researching and interviewing people older than me to make sure I get it right. I keep a list of details I need filled in as I write for further interviews and research. And these days there’s all kinds of archives, things I couldn’t even have imagined when I was studying library science 20 years ago. And each is it’s own deep hole to fall down.

Seattle, 1982, view from Beacon Hill.

Yesterday I sat down to write, I went to close my browser (and shut off my internet, who has self control?) and right at the top of Facebook (who knew FB would actually be a useful research source) was a post from Vintage Seattle, about something in the 80s. So instead of closing my browser I scrolled back a ways, wondering what else I’d missed recently in that group that might be useful. That led me to discover the Seattle Punk Photo Archive which WOW I really needed (turned out to be super useful for a bunch of stuff I was trying to find years and participants for). And that lead me to where productivity usually goes to die: YouTube. And it turned out to be the most useful part of my day (besides the actual writing).

I have been having a hard time describing 1982 punks in my book. I feel like I’m describing them accurately, albeit somewhat from memory, and they just aren’t enough. They aren’t loud enough, they aren’t bright enough, they aren’t rowdy enough. And then I found these videos and discovered I was spot on in my descriptions. The problem is what was so punk and so out there in 1982 is just the usual stuff today. Those punks back then? We’re all in our 40s and 50s now, and some of us don’t dress any different than we did 25 or 35 years ago. My fictional punks seemed too mainstream because who they are is mainstream now. But it meant something then, and now I know my task as a writer: it isn’t to comically describe those punks as bright, loud, and brash as they were, it’s to describe that world 33 years ago and how different it was from ours now, because only against that background will how outrageous those punks were really stand out.

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Here’s some of the YouTube rabbit hole I fell down that showed me it did look like my memory. This first one really is kind of painful to watch. Squares, man, they just don’t get it (also, oh Portland, never change):

The “motto of destruction that sometimes confuses parents” (and aw, Wayne Cody):

“The 80s might see the strangest counter culture yet”:

(Hey buddy, I’m one of those kids, I’m well over 30 now and I’m still angry.)

If you want to feel like you were at the shows, way back when Seattle Punk and Indy Heart has a great collection of videos of old Seattle shows like this one from The Fags (hello glitter punk go-go boys):


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Hail, hail the Holly King!

I have in years past made the same post about the Solstice and all the wonderfulness that it is. Whatever your beliefs you are not forbidden from being grateful and the Solstice for me is about gratitude that the light is returning, that the Earth will spin us back towards spring.

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This is my New Year, not an arbitrary calendar date, but a scientific pinpoint when the descent into short days and long dark nights finally flips over and a little more glorious sun comes into each day. It is not hard to imagine that a day got moved here and there over the last couple thousand years by some careless scribe. So I celebrate all season, Solstice through calendar marked New Year. It’s important to me, because winter is cold and grim, and the revelry of the season keeps us going until the first flowers spring forth.

It’s about renewal, new beginnings. This year has been tumultuous for me at best. But I managed to finish This Charming Man and get it out into the world. Buoyed by that success I’m focusing on writing as the year flips over. A new Queen City Boys will come this year: Bad Reputation, taking us back to 1982 in Seattle. There will be stories in other universes as well. Star Quality, a gay erotica novella is forth coming. And hopefully a story that is much on my mind today, a fantasy short about the Oak King and the Holly King and the dance they do as the seasons switch. I’ve been avidly reading fairytales my whole life and I’m continually impressed with the new spins different writers put on them so I thought I’d try my hand at it too.

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I am exceptionally grateful this year for my online community. Both friends I’ve had for years and the new ones I’ve found as I begin this new journey as a published writer. Thank you everyone who helped me on to this path, to everyone going forward with me, to future readers even. It means a lot that you’re here with me and I am ever grateful to have found you. Now go forth and celebrate. The Holly King reigns again today, the Oak King is dead, but long live the King, for he will return to fight again at midsummer and we will dance and rejoice then, much as we do today.