Category: Behind the Writing

Let’s Talk about Sex (in Writing)

April is the first time this year I’ve had a moment to pause and breath. The world behind the scenes for this author have been busy and productive (more busy it seems.) I’m one of a trio putting together an anthology with the New England Speculative Writers and while it’s extremely rewarding, nobody warned us how much work it would take. Along with that I released the   of Suburban Zombie High and much to my surprise, it blew away my expectations. And now my attention has been firmly set on finishing books two and three of the Children of Nostradamus. But enough of the boring stuff, let’s get to the fun stuff.

Let’s talk about sex.

If you’ve read my books, you know I’m anything but a prude. My characters get into fights, wade through puddles of blood, and have no problem severing a head. However, in all my books, there has been a consistent lack of low-light turn up the Barry White sexy time. In Suburban Zombie, even the busty school nurse and her male play thing only do the nasty behind closed (extremely thick) doors. In the Children of Nostradamus, it’s been hard to give my characters down time have some “get down” time. Writing novels in a condensed time frame (each of my books takes place in two or three days) and you’re being chased by bad guys, typically survival is more important than doing the horizontal mambo. However, in Night Shadows, we get jiggy with it. The two characters decide surviving isn’t enough, they let off some steam of the naked variety.

Fade to black.

I make the joke that eventually I’ll write some sort of smut. But here’s my dirty secret, I have performance anxiety when my characters get bumping and grinding. In Night Legions it gets a bit more explicit. As the stakes are risen, tension is at its worst, I decided to have another go at it. The showers are steamy, the characters are naked, and it the mood is perfect. Fade to black? What the hell? Yet again, I wuss out.

I’ve read numerous novels in which there is sex, but most often I find it’s an indulgent fantasy completely unnecessary to the story. Even at times when the sex is essential to the plot, it gets clunky. The author has done a great job at creating these characters and being candid with their responses, and then sexy time language comes into play. Who, and I mean who in their entire life, has referred to “their manhood” or “nether regions?” And how sexy is it to refer to human anatomy by their actual names? That leaves a lot of slang which requires some porno music and a shag carpet.

My beta readers are pouring over the rough manuscript right now. They’ve been asked to gauge my character’s need for stress relief. We’ll see what makes it into the book and what drops to the cutting room floor. Death? No problem. Cannibalism? Sure! Soul theft? All the time. Sex? Whoa, slow down.

So how do you like sex handled in your novels? Turn up the steam or close the blinds?


2018: A Plan Executed in 365 Days

For the past three years, at the suggestion of fellow author C.L. Alden, I’ve picked a word to help guide my year. Unlike a resolution, it’s not about doing or not doing, but giving yourself some guidance when shit hits the fan and a pat on the back when it pans out. In 2016, I decided to ABDICATE by cleaning a list of tasks off my plate to make room for new adventures. For 2017, I focused on the word EMERGE, and with co-founding the New England Speculative Writers with C.L Alden, releasing five books and a short story, I definitely made a splash.But what will 2018 hold?

In 2018 I want to resolve a list of outstanding “chores” on my todo list. Most of these are bringing to fruition a years worth of planning, and it will let me complete projects. For the last year, I’ve taken some tiny steps (though they seemed like leaps at the time) to lay the groundwork for this year. It’s time to make it happen. Some of the items on the list:

  • Release the Suburban Zombie High Box Set
  • Complete Book Three in the Children of Nostradamus Series
  • Complete Book Four in the Children of Nostradamus Series
  • Translate Nighthawks into German
  • Continue to Connect with Readers
  • Complete Anthology with the New England Speculative Writers
  • Submit Short Story for an Anthology

Not all of this is time intensive, nor overly difficult. However, they are things sitting on the table that need to be finished so new projects can begin. With stand alone novel brewing and a cyberpunk series manifesting, it turns into a situation where there are more ideas than time. I’m excited to see where this goes and how the business behind the writing expands.

What are your goals for the new year?

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My Secret Identity: Unmasking a Superhero

There is no superhero costume underneath my t-shirt or claws sheathed alongside my knuckles. My origin story doesn’t involve being the prince of a mythical land or a millionaire playboy genius. However, known to very few, Superman and I, Jeremy Flagg have something in common.

Like any comic book, we must start with an origin story. I, Jeremy Jeremy Flagg, was born to Phillip & Susan Flagg. Once my father retired from the military our family returned to my parents’ hometown. In an elementary school of a little more than one-hundred students, I should have been unique, one-of-a-kind, but no, I was not the only Jeremy inside the walls of Brownville Elementary. A female name-thief, Jeremie Smith, with a tenure track exceeding my own robbed my identity. Answering simultaneously as the name was spoken, a split second decision occurred, changing my life forever. Jeremy James died and J.J. was born.

It wasn’t much of a loss. My name isn’t pronounced Jur-mee or worse Germ-ee. Despite it’s spelling, it holds three syllables. Jair-ra-mee. Neither of my parents refer to me by name, my mother opting for “Boogie bear” and my dad, mocking those who pronounce my wrong, “Germ.”

By high school my nickname had become a slurred. J.J. required two syllables, and with the right slur it could be reduced to one. Birthed from laziness, Jage became the norm. In college it would later get shrunken to Jer. In a room mixed with friends from different periods of my life, I can be called upon half a dozen ways without my birth name being used. Each salutation gives away the age, association, and origin of our meeting.

The first half of my name took a beaten during my youth, but in college, the second half would be the name that carried me into adulthood. Via instant messenger, Virginia Castagno referenced my love the X-Men’s Gambit by referring to me as Lebeau. The realization the last half of my first name was Remy spurred an inside joke. For the sake of anonymity in social media, it hid me from the world. But as I acquired friends through Facebook, my real name faded away into the nothingness. Like Wolverine having his past wiped away in place for Weapon X’s Logan, my identity vanished.

I.Am.Maine was originally meant to be published under Remy Flagg. However, in a town about my youth and growing up in Maine, how could I rob myself from my most powerful marketing tool? When it came time to release the Suburban Zombie High series, I had to make a decision, use my real name and face the potential pressure from employers or remain safely hidden amongst the shadows?

I chose Jeremy Flagg.

By printing under my legal name, I simplified my financials and gave myself a legal advantage. I chose not to hide. I chose to be true to myself. I chose to remove my glasses, shed my button down and reveal the proverbial “S” on my chest. Despite the majority of my professional associates not knowing my real first name, I took a leap of faith. But while it lended itself to my image and brand, beneath the obvious ramifications, there was a philosophical and emotional plot unfolding.

Superman, unlike many characters in comic books is not an alter ego with stupendous abilities. Superman, a man with powers beyond any human is Kal-El. Clark Kent, the average daily reporter is the costume, a secret identity woven together to give him a stronger connection to the humans he’s sworn to protect. Remy Flagg is a construct, a persona utilized to connect with the outside world. He is my shroud of safety. And like in every comic book, there is an arc in which the hero is put on the shelf and they are forced to live the world as a mundane.

While my arc played out with Remy Flagg dominating the story, I continued publishing books under my real name. Tonight, while contemplating how we perceive our identities versus our outward facing selves, I had a moment of clarity. Remy, much like Clark Kent is a construct, a persona created to help me blend in with the world around me. However, Jeremy Flagg makes his appearances much like a superhero rescuing an elderly woman from a burning building. In my writing there is a piece of me known to a very small and select group of individuals. Each time I open the document and begin writing, a cape covers my shoulders and I dare to put my underwear outside my jeans. In my writing, you’re getting to see the real Jeremy Flagg.

J.J., Jage, Jer and Remy are convienent costumes. The indestructible, amazing, uncanny, fantastic, Jeremy Flagg, the man on the page, he’s the real super man.

Hi, I’m Jeremy Flagg.


A Milestone Worth Mentioning

There are a many things worthy of slipping into the milestone category. The first books released, the first time doing audio, completing a series and first time doing a public speaking gig. Each of these have been moments when I’ve stopped and thought, “Wow, I can’t believe this happened.” I’m happy to say, with the release of Wicked Haunted, the latest anthology by the New England Horror Writers, I reached a new milestone. On Friday night, our anthology reached Best Seller status on Amazon in the Horror category.

I’m beside myself.

What’s most exciting about this, it means I have the ability to make the lists. Does the list really add up to anything? No, not really, but there are bragging rights and sales doors open once this happens. With another anthology on the horizon, there’s definitely excitement about reproducing these results.

The next big milestone? It’s a huge jump, but here’s hoping for the day when I hit the NYT or USA Today best sellers list. It could be a long way off, but at least it’s an option. So much excitement.

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Writing for the One Fan that Matters

Hi. I’m Jeremy Flagg. People call me Remy (my mom hates this) partly because Remy LeBeau is an amazing member of the X-Men and partly because it sounds classier than being called Jer. I’m known as the sarcastic guy. It’s a mantle I uphold with pride. But this post is less about me the author, and it’s about my fans.

I’m incredibly uncomfortable saying I have fans.

The first time I signed a book for a fan, I signed my name wrong. I shit you not, I forgot my name. I get incredibly anxious when I discuss my fans, because rock stars have fans. Actors have fans. Angry Birds has fans. Me? I have people who read my books and like them. Fans? Right? While this seems like a no-brainer for some, it’s humbling to say somebody other than me enjoys my work. Tonight I received an email stating that somebody used the word “favorite” when discussing my book. Favorite? I think of that word and I think chocolate lava cake…my book is on the same playing field as cake? I’m humbled.

Let me talk about my fans for a few minutes, they’re some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Geeks. I love you. Selling my books at conventions, my fans are the ones who come to my table dressed as Rorschach from Watchmen one day and show up in their finest Kylo Ren costume the next. My fans are not only a geek, but they wear it with pride. They also know I have duct tape and I’m the first to mend breaking costumes. I wish I remembered to photograph more of their geeky awesomeness.

My fans are parents who have young kids who love to write. I had a young boy stop and talk to me about his “stories.” He told me epic tales of the adventures him and a friend from grade school craft. I believe they were the Adventures of Taco Man, what I believe will someday be a best seller. He spent a solid half hour telling me how he prefers to write than play outside. I listened, because someday I will be standing in line to have him sign my copy.

Tonight I opened my blog to write a post. I thought I’d write about my latest movie lists and I took a moment to check for any emails from fans. I found myself reading.

I am so incredibly humbled by this I found myself blushing. A real person took time from their life to compliment something I created. They felt strongly enough to leave encouragement to move forward. Reviews can be flattering (or devastating) but this was a human reaching out to another human. While I say I often write for myself, truth be told, I am writing for the kid I used to be. I’m writing for that geek who hid in the closet afraid to admit he was passionate about things other people remarked as silly or childish.

I write for this fan.

My fans have a sense of humor. They laugh in an awkward way that makes us all laugh. My fans are fierce masters of their fandoms. My fans get excited when new superhero trailers are leaked online. My fans know random obscure sci-fi books nobody has read before. My fans argue if Alien is a better movie than Aliens. My fans recognize at my core, I am a big kid. My fans. If I say it enough maybe I’ll get comfortable? My fans, they’re the reason I open my computer and write when I’m not in the mood.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks for being a fan. Everything I write is for you.

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