But promises. To myself. And I guess, to you.
Now, where were we? Oh yeah.
But promises. To myself. And I guess, to you.
Now, where were we? Oh yeah.
So: I got my first-ever one-star review on Amazon recently, for A Lie Within A Lie: The Singer. Here it is, in all its incisive, detailed glory:
So, many people will say you should leave one-star reviews the hell alone. And I am, effectively. I’m not wallowing in this. Clearly, for whatever reason, the book wasn’t for him. Okay; that’s fine.
What does irk a little is the ‘didn’t get past Chapter 4’ part. Because – and SPOILERS if you haven’t read the book, shame on you, get on that, etc etc – Chapter 4 is literally where the book’s big turn kicks in.
In other words, if he’d made it to Chapter 5, he’d probably have started to realize just what he was reading. Which is, in case you’re wondering, exactly in line with his other buying habits. (I checked, based on his reviews. It’s not as if he bought this thinking he was getting anything other than a book involving transgender themes, soooo….)
Anyway. His loss, right? I’d say so, given the other reviews of The Singer, every one of which I really appreciate. The fact is I’m happy to get bad reviews, if they’re constructive. This is just the review of someone who, for some reason, couldn’t be bothered to read a little further, let the story play out. You could argue that he wasn’t ‘hooked’ inside the first four chapters… but fuck it. I’m not going to give him any more brain power.
So that was the bad. How about the good?
I’ve been very fortunate to get reviews for Practice to Deceive and A Lie Within A Lie: The Singer from Sally Bend, over at TG-book-review-blog Bending The Bookshelf. Sally had some ‘real life problems’ delaying her recent reviews, so she didn’t get to review A Lie Within A Lie: The Spy until after release.
It was worth the wait. Here’s an excerpt:
I love that Ghostly Writer keeps so much of Dominic’s plans from the reader, only giving us as much insight and knowledge as Ethan and Nicole share. As a result, we share each of their fears and hopes, and really do have to wonder what the climax could possibly be. Of course, I love even more than the story indulges the erotic side of masking so intensely, really driving home the fantasy element of being intimate with someone who can become anyone. It gets intense, and turns very dark in the latter parts of the novel, but you really do get a sense of how much arousal comes from our mind as opposed to our genitals.
What I really enjoyed about reading this review – apart from the praise, of course – is that I feel Sally understands what I was trying to go for in the book, and indeed, understands something about my writing in general. While there’s plenty of sex in my books, ultimately, I know the arousal you’re going to feel reading them has to happen in your mind, in your imagination. That’s why I try to tap into that as much as possible, to get you to feel what’s going on, as much as show it to you. That’s the idea, anyway.
Read the whole review here. The conclusion is so ridiculously nice, I’m sure I’ll disappoint Sally with my next release!
Well, the dust has settled (AKA the sales have gone down) on A Lie Within A Lie: The Spy, so inevitably, my thoughts turn to what the hell I’m doing next. Good question. Let’s dive in and figure it out, shall we?
This is a definite. For anyone coming in late, I ‘re-imagined’ Victor G’s classic tale of a boy, a teacher and a mask (or two…), rewriting it from Darien’s point of view (the boy using said masks) and expanding it to completion. I did all of this with Vic’s buy-in and advice, by the way, although it’s very much ‘my take’ on the tale.
The result is a 90,000 word novel, which is currently completed, but needs editing. I think I probably won’t get to that until about July, but I’d hope to release as a result in August or at latest, September. I think it’ll be worth the wait. Just like Practice to Deceive it features a lot of M2F transformation scenes, some quite kinky stuff, and of course that flawless impersonation we all love so much. (It also features more than a little smoking fetish action, which I inherited from Vic’s draft. It was new for me, but I did my best with it!)
If you’ve never read The Substitute, and don’t mind getting a little spoiled (Even though I added plenty, the book obviously shares events with Vic’s story) you can read it online at Sapphire’s Place.
For the old and infirm amongst us – er, like me – you may remember this title. This is a non-completed tale of a father who, having recently separated from his wife, discovers that his step-daughter is more than willing – and able – to impersonate her mother to help him out of a tricky situation. The question is, can this straight-arrow father resist when his wife returns to him, sexually invigorated and with the body of a much younger woman….
So, this was infamously (well, to me) never finished because frankly, I couldn’t figure out the damn ending. After a lot of false starts, I think I’ve finally got it. Now all I need to do is write it. At the same time however, I’m probably going to rewrite (and possibly expand) the existing material I have to make it bigger and better.
If I had to guess, it’ll land as a novella-length book, probably in the 20-30K range. What I had was 17K, so potentially it’ll double in size. With that in mind… I’d probably expect this to arrive in August, if I can find some time in June to bang it out. As you can probably tell from the description, this one will heavily feature F2F masking and impersonation, which I know is a favorite of some, and arguably kind of underserved in our niche, so I hope you enjoy when it lands.
What will definitely not be called ‘Practice to Deceive 2’ will hopefully arrive in early 2017 at the latest. This is the heaviest lift in terms of writing – at least 100K to go, if I had to guess. While I have the whole thing plotted and have for a while, I just need to blitz the writing. However, knowing these things, despite having the plot written I’m sure I’ll uncover holes and hit bumps along the way.
In the sequel, Billy does indeed go to Comic-Con with Linda… but that’s the broadest possible summation of what’s planned. Put it this way: there will be more masking, more impersonation and more people involved than in Practice to Deceive. Billy is most definitely not alone. Ah, but who will join him…?
I’m looking forward to writing this but it’ll be a long slog. I’ll let you know when the trek begins!
There’s always other stuff, of course. There’s Love Hotel, which started (literally over a decade ago) as some scribbles and really deserves an ending, even if it’s short. There’s the potential to reboot or remake Beneath the Veil, which I’ve been telling myself I can/should do for some time. And then there’s whatever else my fevered brain will make up.
Of course in amongst all this, there’s still the ongoing tale that will unfold for subscribers to the newsletter. Scroll down a bit and you can sign up and make sure you keep up to date on that, completely free.
Oh yeah, I also figured out what a sequel to A Lie Within A Lie would look like. But that would be a way down the road.
As always, I want to hear from you. I want to hear what you like, what you’d love to see, and even your ideas. I never guarantee that I will use any of them, but I love inspiration and I just love to reach out and talk to people. If you haven’t, feel free to go ahead and register to comment, and leave one below. Alternatively you can reach out via the contact form. Last but not least, if you’d prefer to just stick my name in an email, sending something to my initials (gw) at this domain (ghostlywriter.com) will reach me. (As will my name at gmail. I like to give you options.)
So what’ll it be, mask fiction lovers? You tell me.
Writing A Lie Within A Lie took, all told, about 8 years to write. That might seem like a long time. Of course, I wasn’t actually writing every day of all those years – that’s enough time to generate a library – but it took a long time to gestate, is the point. Here’s a look ‘behind the words’ of The Singer, trying to give you some insight into the writing process.
When I originally conceived A Lie Within A Lie, the working title was The Babysitter (in fact that was the actual title forever, until I wrote the phrase ‘a lie within a lie’ in the book and thought it’d make a nice title). The idea loosely came from an old comic story and I detailed it in a blog post that I wrote in January, 2008.
At the time the core idea that excited me was a woman staying in someone’s house who’s not what they seem to be. In the comic, it’s a woman in disguise, but I don’t think I ever entertained that idea. My earliest notes – from July 2008 – talk about a man in disguise called Dominic.
At the time it was the story of the Lane family, and the main male protagonist was going to be called Evan. I expanded that to Ethan at some point, although not until after I’d started writing. (I think it was a little nod to Mission: Impossible‘s mask-wearing Ethan Hunt.) A few of the other key points of The Spy were established early, too; there would be a sister (originally called Amelia / Amy) and she would have cameras all over the house.
Unlike in the final book, Dominic’s relationship with Evan was established early with Evan clearly being gay, but nervous about coming out to his parents. In the original conception Dominic would meet Evan ‘by accident’ in a club, they’d go home together, and that would be it. Months later, when the Lane kids get a new ‘chaperone’, it turns out she’s actually Dominic in disguise, as he reveals to Evan. Later, he unmasks on camera to Amy, revealing… another woman. In broad strokes this is pretty much exactly how the book turned out, and this was established in 2008.
I started writing then, too. In the first draft I was thinking that Dominic was my protagonist, and the book would be from his point of view. As the reader, you would know from the beginning that Dominic was a con man, and that he wanted nothing more than money from Evan’s family. (You might not have known that his ‘chance’ meeting with Evan wasn’t chance at all. I never did decide.)
This is actually the opening, still preserved in my files:
“Do you come here often?”
He had to raise his voice to say it, and he enunciated every word, just to be sure the boy heard. It was a pick-up line cornier than a wheatfield in Iowa – but that was the idea. Get him off his guard. Get him laughing. It worked. He smiled at that – the first victory of the night – and handed the boy a beer, much to his surprise.
That first 1,000 or so words took a while though. Between July and August 2008 I struggled with the idea, trying to figure out how it needed to be written, what the tone should be and so on. At some point I abandoned what I have, and I believe in consultation with long-time confidante Val, I reworked some of the basic ideas. The book began to get a lot closer to what you’ve read at that point.
Val was the one who suggested that the babysitter be a family relation – an aunt; he suggested that the kids be stepchildren, not directly related, and he suggested as I recall that the ‘Aunt’ be English. (Because it’s sexier, he reasoned. I agreed, but also realized if the aunt was English, that would make for some complex backstory. I settled for having her live in England, specifically London, where I’d spent ten years.)
All of that helped move the story forward, but I didn’t start to write in earnest until January 2009. I have no idea exactly why I decided to open the book in a nightclub, and to make Marla a singer, but I do remember that when that scene came together, it wrote very quickly.
I sprinted for a while. I wrote all the way through to the end of Ethan and Marla’s first night together, which I was very proud of, but maybe not for the reasons you’d expect. While I think that scene is extremely sexy, perhaps one of the sexiest I’ve ever written, I was proud because I really felt that I had the potential to actually fool readers into thinking ‘Marla’ was a real woman (possibly in disguise, but still biologically a female). Now, there was every possibility – even likelihood – that people would just assume it was a man in disguise. But I tried hard to make Marla’s reaction as believable as it could be, to write it as if she really was a woman. In reality I knew I was describing a great actor, but that didn’t matter. I was describing Dominic’s performance.
The best moment for me was the sudden reversal by Ethan. Up until the moment he talks about wanting to see Marla’s cock, there’s no suggestion he thinks of her as anything other than a very sexy woman. The fact that he wants more than that – and she can’t give it to him – was a great turning point, I felt.
I knew then, and obviously know today, that keeping that ‘secret’ was going to be nigh-on impossible. When I eventually published the book I knew I couldn’t keep the transgender elements quiet. However, I got some satisfaction from when I sent the book to early readers. A number of them said they were completely surprised by Marla’s ‘revelation’. So at least some people benefitted!
Writing the early part of The Singer took me through May of 2009. I can’t be sure why, but judging by document creation dates, I took a break and didn’t get back to the story until August of that year.
I seem to recall about then – Chapter 7 in the final book – I was having trouble figuring out how exactly the next stage of Dominic’s plan could happen. It couldn’t be an obvious play, where Dominic suggests he comes to the US. In case you didn’t realize, Dominic doesn’t have everything planned when he first meets Ethan. It’s only after he discovers who Ethan’s father is that he wonders if there’s some potential here. Once he realizes how attracted Ethan is to Marla, and by extension Dominic, that’s when he decides to move forward with things. However, he also doesn’t want to make the obvious suggestion of infiltrating the Landers household. So he lets Ethan come to the conclusion himself, and then Dominic even resists the idea initially to make his acceptance more believable. This is an essential part of any con; making the person being conned believe they’re driving things, that they’re in control, rather than the con artist themselves.
It’s easier explained than written, however. After everything had exploded (erm, literally) after their first encounter, I needed to make it feel believable that Ethan would suggest Dominic come to the US. It took me quite a while to get satisfied with that, as the latter half of Chapter 9, where Gillian takes Ethan to lunch, wasn’t started until October 2009. For whatever reason I stalled again after that. I remember the book being ‘stuck’ at the point that ‘Roger’ leaves Ethan behind.
It wasn’t until May 2010 that I really started writing again in earnest. The idea of Dominic using another persona – Holiday – was what spurred me on. Holiday’s actions, believe it or not, echoed those of a girlfriend I once had, who for some reason (despite me being devoted to her) worried that I might cheat. To ‘test’ me, she approached me online via IM, trying to get me to agree to a date with this mystery woman. No masks were involved! I dug into my own personal experiences and emotions to try and detail how Ethan felt as reality seemed to warp around him when ‘Holiday’ was revealed.
With that written, I knew I was coming to the big moment; Ethan leaving the UK. It’s now approaching mid-2010 and I really have no idea how the plot is going to unfold when ‘Gillian’ arrived at the Landers house. I knew I needed a stepsister, and wrote the opening chapters of The Spy (then just a continuation, as I had no idea how long it would become) quite fast. Then, right before I wrote about Gillian’s arrival, I hit a wall again.
In part two: the struggle to figure out the book’s ending; the many alternatives plots I considered and discarded; and what got me to the finish line.
If you like this sort of post, going into inspirations and process, let me know in a comment or email.
Thanks to the wonders of a global internet, in some parts of the world A Lie Within A Lie: The Spy is out! In Australia, for example, where you can buy it now. For me in the US, there’s about ten, twelve more hours before it’s officially available.
If you haven’t pre-ordered – please do it now! Why? Because every pre-order counts as a day one sale, and the more day one sales I get, the more likely I am to register in the sales charts. The higher I am in the charts, the more people see it… and you get the idea. You’d be surprised how high you can register in the charts for a niche piece of fiction like this.
Last time A Lie Within A Lie: The Singer charted at No. 14 in the charts (I can’t remember which specific sub-chart, but whatever). But I’m greedy! So satisfy my shameless desires, thanks…!
I spent time today bashing out the first installment of whatever it is I’m writing for newsletter subscribers. I actually quite like what I got down, even though it’s 180 degrees removed from the thing I thought I was going to write earlier in the week. Still; I hope you like it. If you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter yet, you should! You’ll get free fiction, zero spam and probably secret stuff I won’t share here on the blog. Like my banana bread recipe. I kid, I can’t bake for shit. Anyway, if you haven’t subscribed, you can here:
That’ll do for now. Let me know in the comments if you grab The Spy!
Time is ticking away, folks! We’re just about a week away from the release of A Lie Within A Lie: The Spy, and I’ve told myself that along with the release of the book, that’s when I’m going to send the first (well, second, strictly speaking) of my email newsletters. And in case you haven’t seen all the ads around the site, that also means… I have to write some fiction for it!
Sadly for me I don’t have a massive pile of fiction just sitting around, waiting to be produced on demand whenever I need some. If I did, I’d be publishing a lot more… so considering this has to come from the depths of my twisted psyche, I’d love to know: do you have a preference?
Now, I’m not asking for a specific plot here, more generic stuff. Would you like to see M2F masking? F2F? M2M? All of the above? Young people, older people? Themes you might like to read about? I’ve got a few ideas rattling around in my brain, but nothing has jumped forward just yet and said “Write me!” Therefore now is the perfect time for you to express an opinion.
Oh, and pre-order The Spy for me, willya? I have good reasons, which I’ll come back to soon.
Yeah! Turns out I was generally pretty happy with what I had in the final stretch of A Lie Within A Lie: The Spy, also known as A Lie Within A Lie 2… so I managed to finish up the editing today. Hurrah!
The other good news is that I feel confident I can get the thing formatted and ready a lot quicker than ALWAL: The Singer. Which means I can definitely hit my release date; May 14th. A Saturday! I’m giving you a whole weekend to devour this thing. (Remember, it’s twice the size of the first book….)
Anyway, if you haven’t visited the book page here on the site, here’s a sneak at the cover…
Of course, now I also have to figure out how to do paperback version of both books, which is a whole new challenge. I’m on a bit of a roll so maybe I can try it out in time for the launch? That’d be nice.
One or two of you contacted me about ALWAL and not being able to buy it via Amazon. That’s frustrating, considering Amazon’s huge reach, but it’s inevitable for a little longer; basically as part of Kindle Unlimited, a book has to remain exclusive for three months. I think I’m about to get my first royalty payments for the KU version of ALWAL, so we’ll see how that stacks up against book sales. If it’s good, then I’m afraid ALWAL 2 will be in KU for at least 90 days too. However, if you’re burning to see ALWAL 2 in other formats earlier than that, let me know. I still intend to sell them on Gumroad too at some point, probably both as PDFs and standard eBook formats, for those who are Kindle-haters.
So, editing done, pre-order soon, paperback versions to come… and then what? Who knows. On to the next thing I suppose! Stay tuned for more blog posts. And please, leave a comment! It feels a bit lonely out here some days. You can register here.
Well, the wall has been scaled, at least partially.
I’m entering into the home stretch with editing of A Lie Within A Lie: The Spy, now down to less than 20K to go. I’m pretty pleased with what I’m seeing, as well. I’m aiming to get as much of this cranked out this weekend, and then it’ll be down to the final tasks.
Fingers crossed, I’d like to be done next week. I think I may put another pre-order up, and if I can, just for my own sense of weird symmetry, might aim to have the book on-sale on May 14th or 15th. An even month from the original’s release.
Editing the novel has reminded me of what I put in the book, too (It can be easy to forget!). It’s broader than I remember. There’s M2F masking, as you know, but there’s also a bunch of other variants. Without spoiling things, you can expect some M2M and even F2F. For anyone who thought A Lie Within A Lie: The Singer was too focused on one specific kind of masking, the sequel might change your mind. It’s definitely got variance. And quite a lot of kinkiness too, I feel.
Right, back to it. More to come!
Don’t buy A Lie Within A Lie expecting a retread of Practice to Deceive. It’s a different book with a different ‘feel’, and for some, it might not be exactly what you want. Specifically: it doesn’t contain transformation scenes from the protagonist’s point of view.
Here’s my longer thoughts. I think A Lie Within A Lie is a great story, and sexy as hell. So do my early readers (stick around for some quotes). I hope you trust me, and I hope you love the book. But, I wanted to be clear about this so no-one buys it and then screams at me for not making it obvious. (I tried to do what I could with the description, although that might have passed some by.)
Note: This is a very old blog post (from 2008) that I moved over from my previous blog (you can find the original version here). I moved it because it’s a good insight into my original inspiration for what was originally known as The Babysitter, and finally became A Lie Within A Lie.
Can you remember the earliest times you felt – ahem – stirred by the prospect of masks or disguises?
I’m sure we all have a story (unless you just wandered onto this page by accident, in which case, seeya later), and for a lot of us it might involve Mission: Impossible or similar. That’s a common touchstone, but I bet all of us have our own unique memories. If you’re anything like me, those memories haven’t faded too badly over the years, even though your original source may have long disappeared.
One of my earliest ones was of course the primary inspiration behind the Spider-Girl series – a single panel, really, of Betty Brant pulling on her mask. Don’t know why, but that sure as hell got me. I also carried with me, for years, another turn-on from about the same time. I could see the image as clearly as anything in my mind’s eye, and I knew the story it came from. That’d be this image here:
That there is a corner of a front cover to Eagle comic, dated 22nd January 1983. I know this because I have a copy sitting next to me, lent to me by a friend (who, of course, has no idea that I asked to borrow his entire collection of vintage Eagle comics, in part, just so I could find this particular issue). Given that issue’s cover date, I would have been 10 years old when that issue hit the stands.
Well, now I know about when adolescent hormones started for Young GW.
That image drove me crazy, particularly when I read the story inside. Invisible Boy was a series where the kid in question (‘Tim’, who looked quite a bit like how 10-year old Ghostly Writer saw himself) could, erm, turn invisible. So far so dull. But of course while the comic story dealt with ‘interesting’ situations like Tim helping out refugees and stopping crimes, in reality what hormone-plagued boys like me wanted to see was Invisible Boy doing what any normal kid would do… sneak around and see girls naked.
Any normal kid. I wasn’t normal, as we all know by now.
What Young GW wanted to see was girls in disguises. I’d already developed strange feelings after watching Mission: Impossible’s Lynda Day George… and we all know how that Betty Brant crush manifested itself (admittedly, about 17 years later). So when my eyes clapped on that image on the front of that issue, you’d better believe I flipped straight to the Invisible Boy story.
It’s not like it’s Shakespeare, and no, I won’t send you scouring the Internet to find some obscure ‘torrent file so we can all read it. (Although if I had a scanner and not a crappy iSight camera, I’d share.) Basically Tim’s single scientist of a father gets a new housekeeper… and of course as we all know from that spoiler of an image, said housekeeper is actually a gorgeous blonde in disguise. Or as Tim puts it:
Yeah, emphasis on the word ‘like‘ there, Tim. Still, she was blonde and kinda cute – but more importantly, she had just pulled off a wig and glasses! For Young GW, this meant she was a mistress of disguise, and hence a sex goddess. I would not be argued with, even if we all went back in time and tried.
Over the next three weeks my little adolescent heart went pitter-patter as I picked up each issue, hoping to see ‘Miss Martin’ transform herself for some obscure reason. I didn’t get my wish, although I did get these two panels:
… and fairly obviously, so could little ol’ me. So much so in fact, that the image above of ‘Miss Martin’ pulling off her wig stuck in my brain for 24 years… and in case you were wondering, here’s where all this becomes relevant to our supposed topic…
… that image has inspired the plot of a potential story called, right now, The Babysitter. I think you can imagine where it might go.
And that, my friends, is what you call a tease.