Tag Archives: Dilo Keith

Details, details: a guest post from Dilo Keith

Make_Mine_to_Go_400x600 After hearing about my struggles with beta-reading in a genre I don’t entirely understand, I thought you might like to hear from the other side. Please welcome Dilo Keith, who is a writer after my own heart in this very important way.


Like the talented woman who generously invited me to post here, I’m a big believer in research. Carefully chosen details can improve the reading experience on many levels, from a general impression of authenticity to the pleasure of finding familiar objects and places. A minor detail can set the tone for pages beyond the one on which it appears. This, however, has a downside for me: I often remember errors more clearly than other elements of the scenes in which they occur. After finishing an excellent book last month, I couldn’t shake the incongruous mental image of a nail polish bottle shattering and leaving bits of glass in a painted canvas. Plotwise, neither the nail polish nor canvas was trivial, so I can understand the author’s motivation. However, those little bottles are tough. I haven’t researched the matter, directly or indirectly, but I’d guess you’d have to hurl one into a stone wall to get so much as a crack. The nail polish incident was one of several, fortunately not all in one book, in which that author had various objects break with suspicious ease.

I’m left wondering if authors realize how many readers notice what they’d consider trivial details; perhaps the durability of a bottle seemed too insignificant to investigate. Admittedly, little things like that can be set aside, but it bothered me much more when a gay author old enough to know better wrote about a test for HIV existing two years earlier than it did. I didn’t have to look up the date — I was there, as I suspect were many other readers of gay fiction.

Another detail I pay special attention to is character names, which most authors choose with great care. I routinely check on the popularity of names around the year when a character would have been born, and their distribution by gender. After a beta reader for my upcoming release said she initially thought my narrator was female — understandable since I met her on a BDSM, not M/M site, and I had not introduced the name early in the story — I browsed name databases for one that was never used for females. All of the other characters in that story, by the way, are named after friends, with their permission and my acceptance of the condition that any character called Justin must be a top.

The re-release with a new publisher, JMS Books, is scheduled for September 13 and is 20% off the first week. It’s about a kinky, married male couple confronting a sex-related problem that could threaten their relationship. I think the story falls somewhere between erotica and erotic romance; while there’s a lot more erotic activity than romantic plot, it’s still about the love between Toby (Tobias) and Justin.  I’ve posted reviews of the first edition here.

I met most of the friends I wove into that story on the forum of a gay porn site, Just Us Boys, which I discovered during a search on the name of a porn star. I had enjoyed a funny story called “Dear Drew Peters” in The Mammoth Book of New Gay Erotica, edited by Lawrence Schimel, and I wanted to check out a reviewer’s statement that the author, Harry Thomas, had fabricated Drew Peters. He hadn’t. At the time of the story’s publication, it would have been relatively easy to find online descriptions of Drew’s predilections. While the story —  a letter to Drew explaining that he didn’t need to perform all those increasingly outrageous sex acts in order to be loved — stood on its own, it was a bit funnier once I learned more about Drew.

In addition to general discussions about accuracy of details, which most authors seem to think is a good idea, genre permitting, I’ve followed some narrower exchanges about author responsibility in portraying potentially risky activities such as BDSM. There appears to be little consensus on how much, if at all, authors should aspire to educate rather than merely entertain their readers. Some solve the problem with a warning statement, while others, including the writer who serves me as a long-distance submissive, think simply labeling a work as fiction ought to be sufficient. Unlike him, I’m firmly on the side of educating readers, or at least not misleading them. It’s not just for my own work; I consult for authors who want to write BDSM believably and/or with safety in mind. While I’m somewhat motivated by a sense of responsibility for both ethics and facts, I simply enjoy a story more if I can relate to the content. Of course there are plenty of worthwhile stories that have little to do with reality, but, with the exception of sci-fi, I’m not as strongly drawn to them.

Regardless of genre, careful attention to detail isn’t simply a matter of meeting some arbitrary standard of accuracy; among other things, it can make a significant impact on the pleasure of readers like me.


Thank you, Dilo.

To see what she’s done with attention to detail in Make Mine To Go,  swing by JMS Books or Amazon.











Beta reading gone wild

Make_Mine_to_Go_400x600Tonight I got some great news from someone I’d met in fandom. The archive where I was active had some high standards for writing, and the mods had a tendency to teach rather than reject. Our proportion of folks who later went on to be published was really high, and many of us (I definitely include myself here) gained our writing chops in the archive. Some you know well already, like Eden Winters, and others you may not be so familiar with yet.

One writer who played a while in our fandom was Dilo Keith. She gravitated to the characters in this universe who had BDSM leanings, and wrote their stories with the insight of one who understands. I was privileged to beta read for her now and then, even though the material sometimes left me perplexed. Those of you who know me well know I am BDSM-lite-if-at-all, so you already further understand that if I went back for a second helping of Dilo’s work, something in her stories pulled me past my squeamishness.

Here’s where I have to admit that I vanilla’d all over her kink sometimes. The stories didn’t always prosper in my hands because of my own limitations, something she graciously worked around, and accepted the commas if not always the philosophy. Every now and then I asked a good question in context of the story, and once in a while a good question in terms of lifestyle. She expanded my horizons, and I hope I didn’t cramp hers much. Dilo, being wise in the ways of ownership, accepted what she needed and let me own my issues.

Make Mine To Go passed through my hands on the way to publication. Perhaps I gained more than the story did in that interaction, but Justin and Toby got good reception in their first publication, as well they deserved. Now Make Mine To Go is available on preorder through JMS Press, and you all have another shot at reading how an established Dom and sub keep things fresh.

Dilo’s story dragged me right out of my vanilla-flavored comfort zone and made me understand how, in the right hands, BDSM is love. Go. Read.
Make_Mine_to_Go_400x600One key to the success of Justin and Toby’s marriage is plenty of sexual variety, sometimes with other men they know through the local BDSM club. While Toby assumes the submissive role in their power exchanges, it’s more often Justin who generously caters to Toby’s erotic appetites. Toby’s interest in flirting with a salesman should be trivial in comparison to his other desires. Instead, it sends both men down uncomfortable paths.

Toby manages to assure Justin that it was harmless fun, or so it seems at first. More troubling than Justin being unconvinced is that Toby doesn’t entirely believe his own story. When Toby finally figures out he wants something only another man can give him, he knows it won’t be easy to tell Justin. Is realizing a fantasy — even an exceptionally compelling one — worth the risk?

Now available for preorder  at JMS Books with release on September 13, and there’s a 20% new release discount for the first week.