Saturday, August 31, 2013

James Franco Full Frontal Nudity; Cory Booker Looking For Gay Vote?

James Franco Full Frontal Nudity

Someone sent me this link, and since it's Labor Day Weekend I thought I would share. Can't post the photos here on this blog, but the link is safe and it works very well.

Hotness career student, and all around renaissance man James Franco derives many a pleasure from teasing his gay and straight fans alike. We will never forget his Flaunt derriere cover and be forever grateful for it.
 
But this here photo is one of the best-est gift that could be extended to his legions of fans worldwide. See more pics of Franco after the jump!
 
Franco is no stranger to nudity on screen – Milk pool scene immediately jumps to mind – but full frontal has alluded all of us waiting for the final frontier to be showcased. Some lucky shutter-bug, however, apparently caught this very missing link while Franco aired out his family jewels on some beach, reaping the benefits some of us would pay a hefty price to witness first hand.
 
This photo actually supports one of my theories about male full frontal nudity in films, and with well known actors. It's obvious James Franco has nothing to hide, but this could be the reason why we don't see more full frontal nudity with male actors. I know they can make it look real with stand-ins. However, no man wants to go there unless it's absolutely necessary.

Stand-ins are not good for the ego.


Cory Booker Looking For Gay Vote?

There's been some talk recently about the NJ Democratic candidate running for the Senate, Cory Booker, and whether or not he's gay. I posted this earlier this week. It was the topic of discussion in a few places I went yesterday. And now it seems he's being accused of being ambiguous about whether or not he's gay so he can allegedly snatch up the gay vote.

The Senate campaign of Newark Mayor Cory Booker said his Republican rival was "bigoted" for saying that Booker was "acting ambiguous" in an effort to attract gay votes.

Booker's team was reacting to comments by Republican Steve Lonegan, a conservative who is trailing badly in polls.

Lonegan, who is known for his blunt style, seemed to raise old rumors that Booker might be gay and told the conservative Newsmax TV that recent Booker comments where he said he doesn't care if people do think he is gay because "I want to challenge people on their homophobia" were "weird."

This entire discussion just shows how little the mainstream actually knows about gay men, and how the gay stereotype is perpetuated all the time. It seems to be a given that all gay men are liberal Democrats, as if this is part of their birthright. And just because Cory Booker is a liberal Democrat who gay men "think" might be gay they will run out in droves to the voting booths just for that alone. And that's just not how it works.

The fact is not all gay men are liberal Democrats. Personally, I'm an independent. Not all gay men vote according to a candidate's sexuality. If I still lived in New Jersey I probably would vote for Cory Booker. But not because he "could" be gay, or because he's a Democrat. It's because I've seen what he's accomplished in the city of Newark and I'd like to see someone in Washington who can get results like that.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance; Indie Publishing

Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance; Indie Publishing



Instead of adding a link to the other post about the release of this book, I wanted to mention something for those who think indie publishing is simple in a separate post. This book was uploaded to Amazon around six o'clock this morning and I just received an e-mail verification that it went live a few minutes ago. Thankfully, Smashwords and allromanceebooks.com were faster to deal with. This is also why it's so hard to pinpoint an actual release time unless you have a web site of your own and sell the books from there.

In any event, this is the Amazon link.

Rainbow Award Jurors Thanks; Racism on Big Brother 15 Confronted

Rainbow Award Jurors Thanks

Each year the jurors who are part of the rainbow awards work very hard reading and rating books, so when I saw this note of thanks today I asked if I could have permission to post it here on the blog so readers can see what's going on behind the scenes. I have one good friend who I know is reading at least eight books, and others are reading even more. And it's nice to see that all this hard work is helping a cause in the long term.

From my inbox:

Dear Jury,


I really want to thank you for all you have done and are doing, reading for the past 6 months, reading all the last minute entries, and be willing to read for the October/November for more than what you have initially agreed. That means a lot, but not only for the Rainbow Awards and the authors, that means that we were able to raise almost 6.000 dollars, and since my input is to not spend a lot of money to print the certificates to the winners (I'm sure they will be more than happy with a nice paper to frame), most of them will go to charity. I want to give you a feeling of what YOU have achieved: with $150 Ali Forney center provides temporary shelter to a kid for one week; with $500 a week they connect with these youth through Outreach Services, which include safe sex education, counseling, and services to help them off of the streets. I'm sure you are proud that we will be able to give them help.


Again, THANK YOU, Elisa
 
Racism on Big Brother 15 Confronted
 
I've posted about racism and gaycist comments on the TV reality show Big Brother before this summer, and what's been happening on Big Brother 15 this season seems to continue to devolve into a display of bullying and hate from certain individual players, Aaryn Gries and Amanda Zuckerman being two of the biggest bullies and racists in the house. There are others. In this article titled, Big Brother 15: A Cesspool of Homophobia and Racism you can read more. For those who don't know what a cesspool is, that's where waste water and human waste goes for people who live in rural areas. It's a dated term, because most have septic tanks, but it's also an appropriate example of what's been happening in BB15 this season.
 
And you have to understand that these people know they are being filmed 24 hours a day, nonstop. So it's either arrogance or stupidity or a combination of both.
 
Last night I watched the live eviction show and Aaryn Gries was finally voted out of the house, which meant she had to face Julie Chen at the end of the show before a live studio audience. I have to admit that I've been waiting for that all summer. Some of the shows were so vicious I had tears in my eyes. The moment Aaryn Gries walked out on the stage there was a mixed reaction from the audience, to which she didn't seem to react at first. Julie Chen asked the usual questions she normally asks each contest who has been voted off, and then she went into a few questions about Aaryn's racist comments that I won't mention here on this blog. You can see them yourself here.
 
This post is interesting. There are more examples of what has been said, too, you can find with a simple search.
 
CBS has little choice but to air the comments during the shows, since the situations are seen and heard on the show's live feed. The comments spread like wildfire over Twitter and other social media. The repercussions outside of the house are unknown to the house guests, but jobs have been lost and some people are clearly making their lives after the show more difficult.
The most interesting thing is that none of the players who have made the racial and anti-gay slurs have any idea what's been happening outside the Big Brother house all summer. Several have been fired from their jobs, and one was close to being fired last I'd read, as a result of this racism. And from what I saw last night by the way Aaryn reacted, she's in for a few more surprises when the season is over and she goes back home to Texas. At one point in last night's show she even blamed her comments on being from Texas, which I didn't buy at all. I know plenty of people who live in Texas and they aren't racists.
 
And what's going on with Amanda and that boyfriend of hers isn't worthy of posting anywhere. You have to wonder that if Amanda is the way she is openly, and her boyfriend on the show seems to support her, does that make him any less of a bully than she is?  
 
As a side note, Julie Chen, an Asian American, handled the interview with Aaryn as a true professional, especially considering the fact that some of Aaryn's comments were directed toward Asian Americans.
 
 



FREE Excerpts Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance; Miss Richfield in Philly

Women Who Love to Love GR Release Day

Update: Link to Smashwords  and here's one for Allromanceebooks.com Link
 
Today is the release day of my recent anthology, The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance. When I began this project last January and put out the call for submissions I knew it wouldn't be a fast book to release. In other words, I wanted to take my time, gather the right stories and authors, and put together a book that will hopefully be entertaining and interesting for everyone. Each story has a strong plot, and each one is markedly different from the other. I've already written several posts about the book as things have cropped up since January, and here's a link to most of them.
 
In celebration of the release day for The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance, I'd like to post a few excerpts from some of the stories. I still don't have a link yet to Amazon because it takes a while for the book to go live. But I will update when I get one very soon.
 
From Changing Curses by Li Blaine
By the time she turned sixteen, new carts buckled and broke the instant she placed her hand on them. By eighteen, each and every horse she mounted stumbled and became lame. At twenty-three, the weather found her and dried the fields. Crops withered during the harvest and streams flooded during the winter. The village was near starvation when Ilya finally set off alone. The sandy mountains of the outland became her home. Food was scarce and weight fell from her bones but still she lived. For years, she watched from the dusty hillside as life returned to the community, knowing she'd been to blame for what they had suffered.
 
 
From The Facilitator by Tilly Hunter 
 
I work from home, drawing up designs for fancy dress costumes for a movie merchandising company. Jake is staying at my apartment temporarily while he looks for a new place. But the way things are going, he'll be moving in with his fella Will before long. I'll miss the company, but I'll be glad to stop hiding my romance books. I don't know why I hide them, really. I'm sure I wouldn't if they were straight-up erotica, but they're not. Generally they're kinky man-on-man smut; sometimes with fangs.
 
 
From The Courage to Jump by Oleander Plume
 
Lucy Larson was the pen name of one Brenda Suggins, age thirty, graduate of Merck County Community College, with a certificate in interior design. Which wasn't even worth the paper it was printed on since the closest thing she ever came to an interior design job was working in the drapery department at Sears. Instead, Brenda was a bank clerk by day and the secret writer of gay erotica by night. Her latest series, Brothers of the Crescent Moon, was very popular among young gay men, but lately, even more of her readers were heterosexual females. Reading about the exploits of two hot, long haired, muscular werewolves really got some women hot. The latest book in the series was highly anticipated and had already sold two thousand copies in pre-sales.
Lucy started writing erotica for fun, then at the urging of an old boyfriend (who later turned out to be gay) she sent one of her short stories to a publisher and her career took off from there. Of course only Lucy's publisher and her old boyfriend knew about her secret life. She kept it well hidden from friends and relatives. She couldn't even imagine the reaction she would get from her mother if she knew she was writing about gay sex. No, she could imagine and it was pretty ugly.
 
 
Miss Richfield in Philly

When I saw this on my local Philadelphia news channel last night I figured I would share with links. For those who don't know who Miss Richfield is, he's a well known female impersonator I first saw about twelve or thirteen years ago in Provincetown at the Crown and Anchor, and I've been following his act ever since. I don't typically follow that sort of thing unless it's something I think is really good. And for me that sort of entertainment is only good when it's done with camp, satire, and is so over the top you know you're not supposed to take it seriously. All you're supposed to do is have fun watching it. It really is an art.

In any event, there's a new TV commercial out where Miss Richfield is marketing toward the LGBT community to visit Philadelphia. The first time Miss Richfield did this was in 2004.

"Ten years ago, Philadelphia was proud to officially 'come out' as a gay-friendly destination when we invited LGBT travelers to visit," said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of GPTMC. "With our new commercial, we're going beyond our history roots and reiterating our invitation, celebrating both the city's evolution into a premier destination and the LGBT community's progress over the last decade."

In the new 30-second spot, titled "Miss Richfield's Selfie Tour of Philadelphia," the flamboyant Miss Richfield 1981 embarks on a Philadelphia tour, visiting landmarks all over the city while snapping photos of herself-and some new buff friends-along the way. While wearing her red-white-and-blue, she starts at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell; runs the Rocky steps yelling "Yo, Adrian!" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; admires the views along the Schuylkill River; dines alfresco over food and wine; dances at a crowded nightclub; and finally, collapses onto a hotel room bed.
You can read more here. And this is a web site for Miss Richfield on Word Press. We live between New York and Philly and know both cities fairly well. There's really a lot to do in Philly, and it's always been gay friendly for those who are single, those who are couples, and those who would like to be a couple.  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance; Freedom to Marry



Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance

I'm only posting a reminder that tomorrow, August 30th, is the release date for the anthology, The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance. I'll post more tomorrow about it in detail, with a few excerpts, too. (Contributing authors, I will be in touch with you very soon with copies.)

And when I say that tomorrow is the release date, please take into consideration that I don't know a specific time when it will go live on Amazon. The book will be distributed in many places, but I like to put it on Amazon first because that's where I usually get most of my feedback. And I'm never exactly certain when it will go live after it's uploaded to Kindle. As soon as I have links, I'll put them up on tomorrow's post.


Freedom to Marry

I've been posting about the Freedom to Marry organization for a long time now. You can read those posts here. In many ways Freedom to Marry has been my own personal catharsis because I'm living in PA where gay marriage is still not legal and my twenty year relationship with Tony has not been recognized like those in other states since the SCOTUS ruling. And not even in my own home town where I always thought the LGBT community set examples for others.

It's been a disillusioning week for all gay couples in New Hope, and what surprises me even more is that there are some gay people who are supporting the mayor's decision not to buck an immoral law and not to fight for equality to be on the right side of history. That kind of mind set just blows me away because it's political and not emotional. This is the main reason why I decided not to go to law school after I graduated from college and took my LSATs. When it comes to things like this I don't support or respect every single law, and I believe there are certain laws that need to be changed.

This is the latest from Freedom to Marry

This week has seen a flurry of activity supporting the freedom to marry in New Mexico. Three counties in New Mexico have been ordered by district court judges to end marriage discrimination and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. County clerks in three additional counties have followed the lead of these rulings by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in their own counties. These huge steps forward in New Mexico this week bring renewed urgency to why we need the freedom to marry uniformly across the state - and, ultimately, why we need the freedom to marry nationwide.

You can read more here.

MensUnderWearStore.Com; New Hope Mayor No Gay Marriage; 2004 Marriage License Legal in NM

MensUnderWearStore.Com

I get interesting e-mails all the time from companies all over the world. Some I even like posting about with permission from the companies that send these e-mails. In this case I'm talking about mensunderwearstore.com, where they carry a line of underwear that's different from other places I've seen. The prices are not bad at all, and I own a few pairs myself.

From my inbox:

The MensUnderwearStore.com team of photo experts recently shot Ryan Bertroche on location in St. Louis, MO. A native of Iowa, Ryan broke a sweat and kept things sizzling with his looks that resemble a young Kurt Russell. In addition to modeling the new Calvin Klein Athletic collection, Ryan also wore items from the Under Denim, Dry Touch and Fresh & Bright collections from Diesel.
 Here are a few of Ryan's tasteful photos:





New Hope Mayor No Gay Marriage
In order to give you a better perspective about what's been going on in New Hope, where I live, located in southeastern, PA where same sex marriage is still illegal in spite of the SCOTUS ruling, here are a few more links, below. For those who don't know, Tony and I owned an art gallery in New Hope for ten years, and we've lived three miles away from downtown New Hope for over eleven years. Before that, we lived two miles from downtown New Hope in a town house community surrounded with gay neighbors. We've been together for twenty-one years and Tony is a lifelong native of Bucks County, PA. We didn't just move here to live near cookie cutter developments because they look nice. We didn't just move here because the schools are good. We live here because of the fact that there is a large LGBT community. What prompted that move happened while we were living in a more mainstream community about eight miles away, where an eight year old boy living next door to us asked his dad, "Why don't we get Christmas decorations like the two fags next door." We decided that neighborhood wasn't for us.  
This one talks about how Mayor Keller is getting "heat."
New Hope has long been known as one of the most gay-friendly towns in the region, a place where rainbow flags flutter in front of boutique shops and the borough council began passing gay-rights resolutions about a decade ago, well before the recent surge nationwide.

This one is from a a web site called American Family Focus on PA Issues. They are applauding the Mayor of New Hope for refusing to marry gay couples in spite of what most legal experts claim are limited risks to him and to the town of New Hope.

Mayor Keller said that as an elected officials it was his duty to uphold the law. The AFA of PA applauds Mayor Keller’s decision to uphold the law. Even the Borough Council of State College advised their mayor, who had previously said she would perform same-sex “marriages, not to break the law.

As a side note, I don't think Mayor Keller is actually taking sides on the issue, or that he's in any way associated with American Family Focus on PA Issues. As far as I know, and from what I've read, Mayor Keller supports gay marriage. He just isn't willing to take the legal risks that may or may not be involved with marrying gay couples illegally. But I don't think he gets points for just being for gay marriage, not as a community leader, an elected official, and someone the rest of us all look to for guidance and support. The bright, outspoken woman running against Keller this fall claims she will marry gay couples in spite of any risks involved.


2004 Marriage License Legal in NM

Unlike New Hope, PA, where I live, there have been interesting steps taken this week with regard to same sex marriage. Unlike New Hope, where the mayor of a large LGBT population has decided not to marry gay couples because he's unwilling to take the legal risks involved and is more focused on what may or may not happen if he does, the Attorney Gen. in New Mexico claims that same sex marriage licenses issued in 2004 will remain valid and legal for now.The term he used was "presumptively valid."

King delivered the non-binding advice in a letter to the current Sandoval County clerk, who found that some of the 2004 licenses recorded in the clerk’s office were labeled as void or invalid.

King said a county clerk is responsible for issuing marriage licenses but “New Mexico law plainly does not provide county clerks with the rights to invalidate marriages.”

There's always a loophole.




Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Holly Golightly's Story; Cory Booker Gay Rumors



Holly Golightly's Story

This article about the creation of Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's, has several interesting points. One of which deals with her personality and how she thinks about men.

In her disregard for the conventions of polite society and her sexual adventurousness, Holly is something of an avatar of the liberated woman of the Sixties and Seventies, although she probably wouldn’t have approved of hippie sartorial practices, nor would she have likely appreciated the more strident male-bashing aspects of the radical wing of the feminist movement.

Truman Capote was a gay man, but not an openly gay man in the sense that he worried about equality and coming out. In his day the word gay meant happy and he was considered a homosexual, among other pejoratives. When he wrote the character of Holly Golightly it most likely came from many of his own personal experiences, because in his time, just like now, the world was owned by straight men.

I found this interesting, too.

One of the strongest endorsements of the novella came from Norman Mailer, normally the most competitive and certainly the most macho of all of Capote’s contemporaries, who wrote: “Truman Capote I do not know well, but I like him.

“He is as tart as a grand aunt, but in his way he is a ballsy little guy, and he is the most perfect writer of my generation, he writes the best sentences word for word, rhythm upon rhythm. I would not have changed two words of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which will become a small classic.” (Indeed, perfectionist that he was, Capote might well have placed a semicolon after the word “generation”. Capote was a master of that particular punctuation mark.)

On the surface that sounds like a compliment, but some gay men would take offense to the grand aunt reference. I know I do. As flamboyant as Capote was, he was still a man. A good deal of his career, however, was spawned as a result of his being so flamboyant, and I'm sure he knew that. Gay men have always done whatever they have to do to survive, and in some cases, if that means acting the part of a pet poodle they are not above that. I understand that, I don't fault them for that, and I admire them for doing what they had to do to survive. I can tell you one thing for certain, if the character of Holly Golightly had been written as a gay man, the book would never have been published, Mailer would never have praised it the way he did in the quote above, and I probably wouldn't even be writing this blog post about it.

I could ramble on with this topic for days. But the point I'm trying to make here is that when I parodied Breakfast at Tiffany's the way I did with gay characters in The Virgin Billionaire, I was making my own statement, not trying to become the next Truman Capote. By writing the VB as an erotic romance only took that parody to another level because that's also something Capote never would have been allowed to do during his time...books about gay men AND sex were hidden in the mattress. And there weren't that many around in the first place. Gay men had nothing with which to identify in books or in films during Capote's time...or any form of mainstream entertainment. So they wound up identifying with characters like Holly Golightly for lack of anything better. And Capote did do a great job of creating her, but I'll always wonder that if he'd lived in a different time and place if he would have made her a gay man instead.

You won't see that mentioned in the article I've linked to. I doubt the author, Jay McInerney, even thinks along those lines. And why should he? He never had to think that way.

Cory Booker Gay Rumors

I think this next article to which I'm linking is important for a variety of reasons. Cory Booker is a talented young politician I've been watching for a while now. He's the mayor of Newark, NJ, and the things he's done in that city to turn things around have been wonderful. I was born in Newark, NJ, and as a young child my family moved away because the city started to decay. And I never thought I would see such a huge rebound in my lifetime. No one can dispute this.

This fall Cory Booker is running for a seat in the senate, and another senate candidate, Steve Lonegan, has been throwing those proverbial darts in Booker's direction. And the way he's been doing this is not only shocking, it's about as sickening as it gets with regard to what he thinks of gay men in general.

"It's kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don't know if you saw the stories last year. They've been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure," Lonegan, the conservative former mayor of Bogota, N.J., told Newsmax.

This comment is an indirect result of the fact that Booker does not comment on his private life or his sexual orientation at all. Booker made this statement last week.

“Because how unfair is it to a young lady to put them in the spotlight if they haven’t signed up for that yet?” he said. “And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’”

I understand what Booker is stating, and I don't disagree with it...if Booker is NOT actually gay. I get the way the political machine works, too. But if he is gay, and he's not disclosing that now, he's really only adding to the shame other gay men have been experiencing all their lives, and promoting the concept that being gay does make a difference. I don't like that. Openly gay men nowadays don't like that. And we are tired of that brand of thinking. Mayor Koch of New York did that sort of thing all his life, and I would like to see that brand of thinking die with Koch's generation so that future generations of gay men don't have to worry about that "young lady" in the spotlight, and all they do have to worry about is that "young man" in the spotlight.

This actually even gets more complicated in this article, where Booker talks about how he once hated gays.

He added: “Allow me to be more direct, escaping the euphemisms of my past — I hated gays. The disgust and latent hostility I felt toward gays were subcategories of hatred, plain and simple.”

Booker’s self-cleansing column seems to dispute rumors that he is a closeted homosexual. Is it possible for a man to be virulently homophobic and still be gay? One published study suggests that it is within the realm of possibility.

If I were Booker, I would say something one way or the other and address the issue openly. I will never forget the day I came home from work to a news conference on TV where Gov. McGreevey of NJ said, "I am a gay American." It was as entertaining as it was pathetic. I had seen McGreevey in person once in Lambertville, NJ, up close, during a parade. I knew he was gay the moment I looked into his eyes. And this was long before his disclosure. When he did finally decide to come out, blogs all over the web branded him Governor "McCreepy."   And I would hate to see Cory Booker turn into Senator Creeper.

Photo here







Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Last of Back Listed Books on Amazon; Noble Romance Closing Down

Last of Back Listed Books on Amazon; Noble Romance Closing Down

I just received e-mails about this last group of back listed books on Amazon. It's taken all summer, since loveyoudivine.com closed up in June, to get them all re-released as .99 e-books. There were various issues in re-releasing books, as opposed to releasing originals, as an indie publisher. Verification had to be provided multiple times to prove I hold the rights because the books had already been listed for sale by the publisher. Covers had to be stripped of logos so there were no traces of the publisher. And even though the books were already edited and copy edited by a publisher, in some cases I had to go back and triple check everything just in case there were formatting issues.

I also wanted to change the covers of all the books completely, but decided against that because I didn't want to confuse anyone who might have already read the books. People remember covers. It happened to me with a Fannie Flagg book once. I bought one of her novels without realizing that it was the same book but with an updated cover. No one mentioned that in the book description. But it's Fannie Flagg, I love her work, and I kept the book anyway on my digital shelf.

Here is the last list, I think/hope, for now.

Doughy Joey Link

You Missed a Spot Big Guy Link

Whatever, Dude Link

Pumpkin Ravioli Boy Link

I also have in-depth descriptions and posts for all of these books, and more, here on the blog. So if you want to do a search, scroll to the top left corner and type in the title of the book. I try to tag well so I don't get confused when I want to go back and link to something I've written.

As a side note, for authors who have ever wondered about what might happen if their small publisher shutters and closes, this is it. I could have shopped all these books to other publishers, but other publishers typically prefer original works. I honestly wouldn't completely trust a publisher who was too eager to get too many back listed books. They would seem too desperate to me...unless those back listed books were from the likes of Stephen King. And, I also didn't want to get stuck in the same situation in case other publishers closed up. So I decided to release the books on my own, where I know they will remain as long as I'm around. For those who think self-publishing is beneath them, you might want to reconsider next time you see a small e-publisher going out of business. It's not something I ever thought would happen to me, at least not right now. But I think we'll continue to see this happening now that more authors are self-pubbing and pricing lower, and also because there's so much more competition. Business is business.

I've been told that Noble Romance is going out of business, recently. I have no connection to them, but I've been reading about them for a while and I wish their authors well and I hope they all find new homes for their books. If you check out this link you can read more about it. If you check out this link you can see that Noble Romance hasn't even posted a closing notice on their web site, and the submission page is still up there for new authors who know nothing about them closing.

As a businessperson all my life, I think that's very telling of how they ran their business. Loveyoudivine.com at least put up this notice as soon as possible so readers and authors knew what was happening. LYD put up with a lot of snark over the years from various reviewers who thought they were superior, however, LYD was run by good, decent businesspeople from the beginning and I have not one complaint to share about them. They also paid me monthly, always on time, and I'll miss that monthly check in the mail.

But what is really scary to me is that everything I've read about Noble Romance says they are not going out of business because of lack of funds. They claim they are going out of business because they just want to get out of the publishing business. Really? Well, isn't that nice for readers and authors. You get bored and close up shop. As a businessperson I also know that any profitable business can be sold, even e-presses. I've done it before with my own businesses. Instead of going out of business, I gave someone else the opportunity to buy and run my business so customers and employees didn't have to suffer. I wanted to get out of the businesses (tanning salons), I didn't have a lack of funds, but I also didn't think it was fair to just shut my doors and walk away. But then I also had records from the day Tony and I started the business that it wasn't a losing battle. We had profits that we could prove in writing, through credit card transactions and tax records. It took almost two years to find the right buyer. I cared about my business and my customers.

Once again, I wish all the Noble authors well in searching for new homes for their books. It's not something I thought I would ever be doing, but I can't say that it was completely negative either. Now my readers can buy these same books for .99 as opposed to the 2.99 - 4.99 the publisher was asking. And when it turns out good for the reader, that's important.





Happy Belated Birthday Chris Pine

Happy Belated Birthday Chris Pine



Actor Chris Pine turned 33 yesterday, and thanks to spam I found out the hard way. A freelance blogger had e-mailed me earlier this month about doing a guest post here about Chris Pine's 33rd birthday, it went to spam, and I didn't see it until this morning.

I need to check spam more often. I hate missing out on things like that and I would have gladly let him do a guest post. If you ever do send someone an e-mail like that and you don't get a reply, re-send it just in case it went to spam. It happens.

I've posted about Chris Pine a few times and I have had so many replies to those posts I figured I would mention his birthday today, though belated as it is. I've been a fan myself to a certain extent, and I just saw a film he was in that really did blow me away, Small Town Saturday Night. He's more than just a pretty face, so to speak.

In any event, you can read more about Pine, here. And I think we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future.

Justin Timberlake's Letter; Women Love Gay Romance; She's Not Happy with Kobo

Justin Timberlake's Letter

Justin Timberlake wrote a letter to his fans. Because I think Justin Timberlake IS pop culture, and this blog is partly about pop culture, I wanted to post about it. This is a link to his web site.


The last time I wrote you an open letter, it was in January and I promised that it would be a "Big 2013."

Since then, from The Grammys to the release of the first part of The 20/20 Experience to the crowd's response at the VMAs, it's been a wild ride. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
This letter is to tell you that we're not done...Not even close.

On Sept 30th, the second half of The 20/20 Experience, "The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2", comes out. Since all these songs were written together over a year ago, it's been so hard to wait this long to release them. I can't wait for all of you to hear The 20/20 Experience in full.

So..below is a short clip of the recording of the experience so you can get a feel of what those 20 days were like. It was like no other time I've ever had in the studio.

Catch your breath, TN Kids. We've still got the 3rd and 4th quarter to go.
This is too much fun.

He's a very good businessman.

Women Love Gay Romance

The title of this book is just too long for a blog post title, but I wanted to post that The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance will be released this Friday, August 30th. I'll also be posting more about it this week, with excerpts and other pieces of info. The book will be a .99 e-book for the initial release, and may go to print. I haven't decided on print yet. This one will be distributed in as many places as I can get it, and will not be part of KDP select because I don't want to lock into the Amazon exclusive this time. I not only like to support web sites like Allromanceebooks.com, but I think readers need choices.

Table of contents for Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance. The book is 60,000 words.


Table of Contents

Introduction                             by Ryan Field

The College Years                     by Bella Stanberry

Graduation                               by Bella Stanberry

Sienna Rose                              by Bella Stanberry

Fallen Angel                             by Anna Black

Baby Got Bach                         by Giselle Renarde

A Touch of Therapy                  by Morgan Honeyman

Changing Curses                      by Li Blaine

The Facilitator                          by Tilly Hunter

The Courage to Jump                by Oleander Plume

Lustful Wishes                         by R. Noir


She's Not Happy with Kobo

There's a post over at The Passive Guy blog today where an author of Christian books claims she's not happy with Kobo and she's thinking of leaving. Among other silly issues, this is one thing that she's not thrilled with:

Too much hassle, too few sales. A few months ago, I responded to a survey put out by KWL and added numerous comments about how difficult it is to market to owners of Kobo readers. Since then, their monthly newsletters have included tips on marketing. However, none of those articles specifically addressed marketing to Kobo readers. This continues to be a point of frustration for me. Either no one owns a Kobo or they aren’t following the same book blogs, reader websites, and social media as Kindle and Nook readers are. Less than 0.5% of my sales are through Kobo, compared to 7 – 10% on Nook, and 85% Kindle. (The rest is spread out over Sony, iTunes, and Smashwords).

Most of my books are on Kobo, here. These are my books out with publishers, and the books I have indie published through Ryan Field Press. I have never had a single issue with Kobo with the indie books, and from what Tony tells me the people at Kobo are very easy to work with on tech issues. I own two Kobo e-readers myself, and I've posted here about Kobo multiple times in the past two or three years. I love them. In fact, I do read a great deal on my iPad, but I still prefer my Kobo e-readers to the iPad for reasons that range anywhere from comfort to book purchases. As far as sales go, I'm not unhappy with them and as a businessperson I believe in supporting as many retail web sites where e-books are sold as much as possible so that readers have choices. In other words, if only 100 of my readers buy my books on Kobo, I want them to have that choice. Surveys are a waste of time.

I also think authors really need to stop thinking so emotionally and start thinking more like business people...especially if you're going to indie publish. This isn't about a popularity contest, or what makes you feel more comfortable. This is about getting a product...a book...out to as many people as you can so they can have the freedom to buy your book in places that make them feel comfortable. It's their comfort zone that matters the most, not yours.




 


 






Monday, August 26, 2013

U of Iowa Free Writing Workshop

U of Iowa Free Writing Workshop

Someone sent me this link earlier today and I wanted to post about it before I forget. The University of Iowa is offering a free online writers workshop that looks very interesting. I haven't seen anything like this before from them.

The University of Iowa is offering a free online creative writing workshop for emerging fiction writers, from Sept. 16th to Oct. 28th. The workshop consists of seven online live sessions with seasoned literary writer and author Nate Brown. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Mississippi Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Wag’s Revue (and many others). He currently serves as Deputy Director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

Connected via the Internet, writers will join as an online writer’s group to discuss and share their own work while learning proven techniques to improve and hone their craft. Each weekly session will center on one specific component of fiction writing such as character-building, plot-making, story-setting, conflict, POV, descriptive writing, and developing scenes.

Interested writers who want to participate must submit a resume, statement of purpose, and a writing sample before Sept. 6, 2013. Writers with no prior publishing credits are eligible. Only 15 writers will be accepted.

And this is the University of Iowa, with the storied Writers' Workshop that some people will do anything to get into. I'm not a total snob about schools (just a partial snob), but when I hear that someone was part of the Writers' Workshop I tend to get a thrill up my leg that's hard to explain.

The Iowa Writers' Workshop is a two-year residency program which culminates in the submission of a creative thesis (a novel, a collection of stories, or a book of poetry) and the awarding of a Master of Fine Arts degree.

For more than 75 years emerging writers have come to Iowa City to work on their manuscripts and to exchange ideas about writing and reading with each other and with the faculty. Many of them have gone on to publish award-winning work after graduating. With the spirit of an arts colony and the benefits of the research University of which we are a part, the Writers' Workshop continues to foster and to celebrate American literature in all its varied forms.

In my 8th and final novel in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, I set a good part of the book in Iowa because the two main characters both meet and fall in love at The Iowa Writers' Workshop. It's a very prestigious program, and not simple to get into by any means. Many excellent authors have been graduated from there, and I have a gay nephew in med school at U of Iowa right now. So I wanted to add this to the book, especially because the book will be titled, "The Small Town Romance Writer." The only issue I've had so far with this book is that it's turning out to be much longer than I'd expected. This one will be over 110,000 words, which is far longer than what I usually do. But the book begins and ends in Iowa.

In any event, check out the link I've provided above about the online workshop. I'm a growing fan of all higher education online, and I think with rising tuition costs most people will be looking into this more in the future.

Lady Gaga's Bare Butt; M/M Review: See the Light by Cassandra Carr

Lady Gaga's Bare Butt

For those of you who might be interested, there's a link to an entertaining GIF with Lady Gaga's bare butt.

Still dressed the seashell bra and thong underwear from her "Applause" performance that opened the evening's show, the singer flashed her bare butt on camera, which she was shaking to the sweet sounds of JT.

This happened at the MTV VMAs while Justin Timberlake came out on stage.  I didn't watch...her butt or the VMAs.

As a side note, while I'm sure there are a few people interested in seeing Lady Gaga's bare ass, I think most of us would rather see Justin Timberlake's.

M/M Book Review: See the Light by Cassandra Carr



One of the reasons I don't write book reviews often is because they take so long to write. So I've decided to post a few mini reviews every now and then. This one is about a book I read over the weekend titled, See the Light by Cassandra Carr. The book is considered M/M, it's the only book I've ever read by this author, and you can find it here.

The main theme of the book revolves around two closeted hockey players, Jason and Patrick. While I do like M/M books with jock themes, I'm not always a fan of any book that talks about the sport more than the love story. In See the Light, I was not disappointed. The author mentioned enough about hockey as a sport to keep me involved in a plot that was about hockey, but didn't bore me with too many hockey details that would have been irrelevant to the love story. I also found the way Carr handled the relationships and interactions between the hockey players to be short and sweet, but at the same time extremely real. In other words, closeted gay hockey players put up an invisible wall to keep themselves protected. Their lives depend on this. As a gay man I fully understand this, and Carr did a great job at portraying what it must really be like for closeted gay hockey players. Nothing seemed fake.

I also enjoyed the awkward way the two characters come together in the beginning, which is really about as awkward as these things get in real life for most gay men. I kept thinking as I was reading that these are really many of the things I've experienced as a gay man, which kept me turning each page to see what would happen next. The topic of top and bottom was also a part of the book, which I don't see as often as I would like in M/M romances. This top and bottom issue, for lack of a better way to put it, is something so fundamentally important to any intimate gay relationship it can either make or break a gay couple on the first date. And, the top and bottom issue has nothing to do with gender power or politics. It's something innate to gay men sexually speaking and has nothing to do with how they behave when they are not in intimate situations. Carr scored highly here, too.

This book is also erotic romance. And the erotic scenes were not only excellent, but real. I found them sexy, well executed from a tech POV, and superior in detail with an individual style. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the way Carr wrote about Jason and Patrick acting as if they were sex maniacs at some points in the story. They do act that way, and any gay man knows why. Gay men don't get a normal puberty like straight men. We are denied that and when we finally reach an age (that age varies with all gay men) where we realize we can act on our human sexual desires, we tend to over dramatize them both internally and externally to a certain extent. Half the time, just like the characters in this book I'm reviewing, we don't even realize we are doing this.

The writing style of this book was neat and tight, without most of the usual issues I find horrifying in so many romance novels, gay or straight. The dialogue tags did not make me cringe, and the dialogue constantly moved the story forward. The only thing I noticed were a few too many similes, however, I'm not one of those readers who shun all similes. I "like" them and I don't think they take the reader away from the story in this case at all. In fact, they add to the story in most cases. 

The ending was a little ambiguous, but the author has posted on Amazon that she will be writing a sequel to this book to tie things up. I don't mind that. I like cliff hangers and I like knowing that I have something to which I can look forward. 

If I post this review on Amazon or Goodreads, I'll give it five stars. If I were presumptuous enough to ever grade an author, I would give this book an A+. And I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in fiction that shows what it's really like to be gay and closeted in a very straight, often unforgiving, world.

  







Sunday, August 25, 2013

#BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck; Authors Writing Bad Reviews

#BetterBatmanThanBenAffleck

Last week they announced that Ben Affleck would be playing the new Batman, and it seemed to create a reaction no one expected (I didn't). Some have even started a petition to keep Affleck from becoming Batman:

Unsurprisingly, the reaction to the news that Ben Affleck will portray Batman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel has been swift and merciless: fans aren't happy, and they're using the Change.org petition site to express that displeasure. According to Variety, more than 30 petitions have popped up to request that Ben Affleck be barred from portraying one of DC's most prominent superheroes. For example, as of this writing, nearly 10,000 people have signed a petition that simply asks Warner Bros. to remove Ben Affleck from the project, and the comments section is positively filled with vitrol. "Affleck will fail as Batman and disappoint us all," writes Aryana A. "He is worse than George Clooney as Batman," says Vinicius Moretti.

And, Twitter went into meltdown. This link is particularly interesting because they put up a series of photos of other possible actors to play Batman, in one of the best parodies I've seen in ages.

I personally don't care. But the thing that did interest me was when I went to find a reason why so many were against Affleck playing Batman I didn't find anything. And I can't help wondering if it has something to do with his politics, like George Clooney...or any other celebrity who feels the need to be vocal about politics on either side of the political spectrum. I've always maintained that actors, authors, and public people who are not in politics should remain silent about anything too political. Because when they start to get too political they run the risk of alienating large groups of people. We just want to be entertained. That's it. And since these actors make so much money and live such privileged lives compared to most Americans who are just barely getting by, they lose even more credibility when they become too political.

But I could be wrong. Maybe they just don't like Affleck.

Authors Writing Bad Reviews

I've posted here several times that I don't like to review books here on the blog, and I especially don't like to give bad reviews. As an author, I don't like to judge other authors. That might sound lame and spineless to some, and maybe it is, but you don't see doctors judging other doctors, or attorneys judging other attorneys in public. No one sticks together more as a professional group than cops. So why should authors be expected to slam their peers if no one else is expected to do that in any other profession.

This article is excellent, and it validates many of my thoughts. I don't know the author who wrote it, but I thought it might help other authors who might be on the fence about this.

I once commented offhandedly to an acquaintance about a book I was reading. I wasn’t nasty, I just mentioned that I found it confusing and the dream sequences were messing me up. I also added that it could be me. I WAS seven-months pregnant, so I added the caveat that it could just be Baby Brain.

Little did I know the acquaintance was BEST FRIENDS with the author. I didn’t even say anything all that bad and that author has HATED me since, even though I’d bought all her books to demonstrate support. Just an offhanded comment on the phone has impacted me professionally, and to this day it grieves me that I hurt her.

What if I’d posted a review?

I have refrained from writing bad reviews many times, for many reasons. I like to leave that up to readers, and I think readers are the most important people when it comes to reviews. And when I post about a book I loved, I'm not just saying that. I really did love the book. And I hope that guides people in the right direction during their book buying research.

Of course this is all subjective and it's perfectly fine for an author to give a bad review to another author. And in all honestly, there are certain gray areas that pop up every now and then where an author does have to write a bad review that I might get into in another post sometime in the future.






Saturday, August 24, 2013

Anne R. Allen on Blogging; Beekman Mortage Lifter; The Bluest Eye Called Porn

Anne R. Allen on Blogging

There were so many things I wanted to post about last week and didn't get a chance, and this is one of them. Anne R. Allen is a blogger and author I've posted about before. And now she's giving advice about blogging that I thought was interesting. She is, from what I've seen, the consummate blogger.

If you are interested in trad publishing, this quote below is good advice. In full disclosure, I have not followed most of these blogs in a while. However, I still do follow one of them (Bransford's) and I usually find something worthwhile. The only reason I don't follow the others is because I don't need to know anything more about querying. But if you don't know anything about querying, I suggest you find blogs like these to learn about it. It's a skill that will follow you throughout your publishing career, especially when it comes to writing your own book descriptions for your published works. It's important to "hook" an agent with a good query. It's 1000 times more important to "hook" readers with your book description. And that book description not only has to hook the reader, but also be accurate. If not, you will pay a price with reviewers.

If you hope for a traditional publishing career, you should also be regularly visiting agents' blogs like Janet Reid's and Kristen Nelson's and former agent Nathan Bransford's to find out how the traditional publishing process works. You can also interact with other writers who comment on the blog.

This is important, too.

Your blog can spin a good yarn, make people laugh, provide information, or all three, as long as you put it in your own honest, unique voice and you’re not too whiny or preachy. (Although experts generally advise against fictional yarns. More on that below.)

In other words, keep it real and don't screw around. I've seen what has happened to some authors who created fake blogs and it wasn't pretty. I actually once made the mistake of starting an author blog with a pen name and I started such a category five shitstorm without even realizing it I shuttered the blog after two weeks and never returned to it. It freaked me out, and that's not easy to do.

The Internet can be a nice place, but also a mean place, and if something doesn't add up on your blog, there will always be someone who can't wait to expose you, even if you are harmless. I've always prided myself on the fact that I can stand behind everything I publish here on this blog, and I've never had any regrets. It also gives you leverage and freedom, not to mention the ability to sleep well at night.

The only thing I can add to this is that you want to stick with it. You don't have to blog every day. But you want to keep some kind of consistency going. As a blog reader, nothing bothers me more than going to a blog and seeing the blogger hasn't posted anything for over a month. What happens is people lose interest and they don't come back.

Beekman Mortgage Lifter

I've posted about "The Beekman Boys" before a few times. I'm on their mailing list and I've been following their mortgage lifter plan. (I think Tony and I need one of those mortgage lifter plans, too. Maybe we could raise pachysandra; we have two acres of it here.) In any event, this is what they are doing now.

From my inbox:

The woman who helps us with our book-keeping (math is not our strong suit,) recently got an email from the company who makes accounting software, Intuit. Apparently Intuit is hosting a contest in which they will pay for a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl for one lucky small business.

We immediately thought of our "Mortgage Lifter" sauces. As you know, 25% of the profits from all "Mortgage Lifter" products go towards helping struggling small farms. Our goal is to get "Mortgage Lifter" products into every major supermarket.

How cool would it be to have a commercial all about helping small farms in the freakin' Super Bowl?! And think of the money that would be raised for farmers!

So, to get through this first phase of the contest, we need your vote.
Please go to this link to our entry, scroll a bit down, and hit the "Vote" Button.
There are also a few other things of interest going on at Beekman.

The one hour video special about our wedding will be available for downloading on Amazon on September 21st! Until then, our friends at the production company are releasing one teaser video each week- with PolkaSpot herself as narrator!

You can check that out here. And here.

The Bluest Eye Called Porn

You know how I'm always talking about how there's no set definition of porn, even though some people decide to define porn on their own terms all the time. Well, I think this is the perfect example of that. They are now calling Toni Morrison's classic novel, The Bluest Eye, porn. And, the entire post to which I'm linking has put a spin on something serious and made it sound frivolous and wrong. I've read The Bluest Eye multiple times, at various points in my life, and I have never once considered this book to be porn or obscene. In fact, it's one of the most important books I think I've ever read in my life. It changed me, and when  a book can change you there's something more to it than just words and sentences on a page.

The Bluest Eye is the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, who prays every day for beauty: for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to fit in. As her life begins to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife, such as being raped by her father and beaten by her mother, she finally appeals to Soaphead Church, a pedophile, to help her attain blue eyes. After being impregnated by her father, she loses her baby and ultimately loses her mind.

Read more at http://politichicks.tv/column/warning-graphic-common-core-approved-child-pornography/#qh4T64JIkUhQiMmi.99

The reason this all came about is because The Bluest Eye is on a list for 11th graders. That's a junior in high school.

When the blogger says this I cringe when I read it.

I understand that after reading those excerpts a lot of you may be angry that this is approved for reading in any school. I could probably end the article here.

Either she hasn't read the book in full, has no empathy or understanding of the cultural aspects handled in the novel, or she just wanted to put a spin on something controversial to get attention.

If you have not read The Bluest Eye, I highly recommend you go out and find a copy. It is not porn.

















Friday, August 23, 2013

Russia Defends Gay Hate Law; Free Excerpt Doughy Joey

Russia Defends Gay Hate Law

In the latest development from Russia with regard to the anti-gay law that has sparked outcries from many parts of the world, a letter was sent from Russia stating that there would be no discrimination, according to the rules of the Olympic Charter. However, a good deal is still unclear, and Russia stands by its anti-gay law.

The letter still leaves open the question of what would happen to Olympic athletes or fans if they made statements or gestures that could be considered propaganda.

Couldn't a simple rainbow pin be considered propaganda?

The law has provoked harsh international criticism ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi. Some activists have called for a boycott of the games, though President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have ruled that out.

As I've said before, if this were any other minority in the world I have a feeling we would be boycotting and most would be agreeing with the boycott. But because it's LGBT oriented and the shame and stigma associated with being LGBT is still there, we don't receive that kind of treatment or respect. Not even from our leaders who claim to support us.

You can read the piece in full, here.

Free Excerpt Doughy Joey

Most of the back listed books I've been re-releasing this summer have been fairly simple from an editorial POV. All were professionally edited at the time of the original release. But with Doughy Joey I'd never received an arc from the publisher and all I had was the original file in raw form. So I've been editing all day, and I figured I would put up an excerpt here for the weekend. It's not available yet, but will be next week as a .99 e-book. I did have to self-censor a little for blogging reasons, however, the uncensored version will be be released in full.


Joel Roman did not eat carbohydrates. On the day of his thirty-fifth birthday he announced to all his friends he was starting one of those all protein diets so he could become ripped, as he’d read in the fitness magazines. This was five years earlier and he hadn't touched a single starch or sugar since then (well, you couldn't really count the occasional piece of chocolate).

So was it any wonder one of his oldest friends in town, Gerry, was shocked to see him enter the new soft pretzel shop on a Saturday afternoon in mid-January. "Soft Philly Pretzels", said the shiny green and gold sign on the small, two lane highway, "We Bake'm Better". Though this wasn't actually in the city of Philadelphia; more like the far northern suburbs where city people took day trips to visit expensive candle shops and admire the leaves in autumn.

"I knew this would happen one day," Gerry said. His cheeks bulged, vigorously chewing a soft pretzel on his way back to the car. "You'd finally go off that protein diet and eat ten pounds of mashed potatoes and four dozen soft pretzels in one sitting." His round face still flared red from the cold wind and there were feathery wisps of salt and pepper hair sticking out beneath a navy knitted cap. His weighty body was zipped and snapped right up to the bottom of his double chin in a puffy red ski jacket with a faint white goose feather sticking out from the shoulder.

Joel smiled and slipped his hands into the side pockets of his smooth black leather (always a short jacket so other guys could check out his butt in tight jeans; it had never happened, but Joel liked to imagine a guy would one day walk up from behind and slither a firm hand down his pants). Though Gerry sounded as though he were joking around, he'd always been slightly jealous that Joel looked more like thirty than forty. "I'm here for the hot sausage," Joel said. "Someone told me they have these hot sausages wrapped in pretzel dough that are fantastic. I figured it would be simple enough to pull the wrapping off and just eat the sausage."

"Ah, well, I don't think the dough of one small sausage wrap…"

Gerry was about to say he didn't think a little soft pretzel wrapping would cause Joel to gain any weight because he was so trim and fit already, but he didn't get a chance to finish because of a loud crash toward the back of the store. This was one of those completely open bakeries, where the ovens and freezers and wooden work stations are exposed. You couldn't miss that the young guy who was working had just dropped a full tray of frozen pretzel dough onto the red tiled floor.

There was a lot of white noise; fans and ovens and freezer motors all running at the same time. "Are you okay?" Joel shouted to the guy.

"Oh, yeah," he said, "I'll be with you in a minute; I'm the owner…I can't get fired." He bent down, giving his gray sweat pants a jerk at each knee, to pick up the doughy mess as though this was a perfectly normal occurrence, but his bright red cheeks suggested chagrin. At a glance he couldn't have been more than eighteen or nineteen years old.

"I've gotta run," Gerry said. There was a small white piece of wet pretzel stuck to the bottom of his bulbous chin. "Now don't you go crazy and eat too many pretzels. Haha."

"I promise," Joel said, as awkward Gerry guffawed and loped toward the exit door. It occurred to Joel that although they both were the same age, Gerry looked more like fifty than forty (too many soft pretzels, no doubt).

But the baking pretzels did smell so good on a brisk winter day: doughy and floury and fresh. The ones already arranged on the warming counter were covered with specks of white salt; next to them rows of small plastic containers filled with melted cheddar, soft butter, and several cream cheese mixtures were dwarfed by a quart sized yellow mustard dispenser filled to the rim (in Philadelphia yellow mustard was the topping of choice). All of a sudden Joel was starved. If he could have made a quick exit out the door he would have driven down the road to the Gourmet Just Food and bought a small salad instead. But the guy behind the counter had already seen him; he had to buy something.

You could tell this guy was new at running a business. He should have just left the mess and taken care of Joel. It would have served him a good lesson if Joel had actually walked out. But when he took a closer look, while the young guy swept loose flour into a dust bin, it occurred to Joel there was something quite attractive about this young man. He wasn't tall, no more than five eight in running shoes. Though his body was thin, and you could see from the outline of the white t-shirt he wore he wasn't a body builder, he had that natural, messy type of sex appeal. His dark brown hair was longish and wavy…parted in the middle; all one length and cropped bluntly at the middle of his neck. Dark shocks kept falling in front of his face when he bent over. When he spread his legs and squatted to pick up the aluminum tray the fabric of loose gray sweat pants stretched.

He rinsed his hands and then jogged back to the counter to wait on Joel. "Sorry you had to wait. What can I get you?"

His eyes appeared hazel: small and dreary without much light. And his features were thin with that turned down look of a turtle face. But there was something about the entire package that caused Joel's heart to beat a little faster.

"Ah, I think I'll try one of those hot sausage wraps, and maybe a dozen pretzels," Joel said. Oh well, he couldn’t just order one tiny little sausage wrap like that. How would it have looked? The poor young thing didn't have tons of people knocking down the front door for hot pretzels, after all.

"Coming right up," said the pretzel guy. His voice flowed forth like the hum and buzz from an old transistor radio; deep and low, yet soft and pleasant, too. He wore no underwear. The outline of his junk kept protruding through the gray sweat pants.

While he awkwardly shoved a dozen salted pretzels into a brown paper bag his expression remained blank, as though he wasn't quite sure whether or not he liked running this new business of his. The poor guy worked fast; his arms flailing bags and pretzels and napkins, as though there were fifty people standing behind Joel, when in fact no one had entered the shop the entire time Joel had been there. There was a thick glass warming shelf next to the cash register. When he reached inside for a hot sausage wrap, Joel noticed his thick, strong fingers. They were meaty and firm just like the hot sausage he placed into a foil wrapper.


Almost Gay Guys; New Hope Mayor No Gay Marriage for ME



Almost Gay Guys

When I read the article to which I'm linking, I had to admit it was the first time I'd really ever seen anything like this spoken about so openly. It deals with men who are mostly straight, but sometimes almost gay, and stuck somewhere in between bi and gay. I know that sounds complicated, but there is validity here. The focus of the article is a young man named Dillon who is interested in women and sometimes men, but is not actually gay, straight, or bisexual.

By his own admission, Dillon says he resides in the “Sexual Netherlands” (his words), a place that exists between heterosexuality and bisexuality. In previous generations, such individuals might have been described as “straight but not narrow,” “bending a little,” and “heteroflexible.”

Dillon is part of a growing trend of young men who are secure in their heterosexuality and yet remain aware of their potential to experience far more—sexual attractions, sexual interactions, crushes, and, occasionally romantic relationships with other guys. Dillon lives these contradictions—seemingly hetero guys who now reject that label, sexual description, and identity.

Although I'm no expert on this topic by any means, I will admit that I've run across guys like Dillon before when I was single. (Actually, I still run into them, especially at weddings for some reason.) I once dated a marine who was very open about his sexuality with me, and he told me up front he was mostly straight. I dated a semi-pro baseball player...I was eighteen he was thirty...and he basically explained his situation as being almost gay, but only sometimes. I know that sounds odd to some people, but they were very nice guys and I found them very simple and easy to be with. In fact, in most cases they were easier to be with than out, openly gay men. Many who have read my novels will notice that I sometimes have characters in my books with men who are like this, and many of those characters were loosely based on my own personal experiences.

The article goes even deeper and it's a very interesting read for those who haven't heard about men like this before. The one part I didn't buy totally was that these guys care more about romance than sex. That was never something I experienced. These guys care about sex. It's not that they aren't romantic at all, but I've never seen that as the main focus. The one thing I can say is that they've always been cool and honest about it, which was actually kind of romantic itself. And these guys can be very adorable under the right conditions.

You can read more here.

New Hope Mayor No Gay Marriage for ME

When I read this article late last night, I can't say I was totally shocked. I know many people are because New Hope, PA, (where I live) is such an openly gay friendly tourist town, and has been for many years. We even have our own Gay Pride Festival in May. We have more gay owned establishments than I can count. At one time, we had more gay nightclubs than I can count. New Hope has always been a small gay mecca, like Provincetown, MA. Without apology, it's the reason Tony and I live here.

But I have seen more than a few interesting things living here. There was once a very wealthy woman who owned property and several high end businesses in town. She lived with another woman and we all knew she was a lesbian. But she never came out, and never openly supported the gay community in New Hope. The mayor of New Hope right now, Larry Keller, the one who refuses to perform gay marriages, is middle-aged and has been a confirmed "bachelor" as far as I know all his life. So when I read that this particular mayor will not perform gay marriages for legal reasons, no one had to bring my smelling salts.

In any event, this is what's happening:

Amid the typical discussions about zoning and amplified music at this week’s borough council meeting in New Hope was mention of an Aug. 16 letter from Mayor Larry Keller to council in which he explained the reasons for his declining the recent request “by two gentlemen to officiate their wedding.”

The letter went on to say, “As part of the official duties of the office of the elected mayor of New Hope Borough, I am permitted by law to solemnize marriages between persons who produce a marriage license issued by any County Clerk of Orphans’ Court. This authorization is not mandatory. A Mayor is not obligated to officiate any wedding.

To backtrack a little, I recently posted about how they are issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in Montgomery County, PA, which is only a few miles away from New Hope.

Even though same sex marriage is still not legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County in PA issued marriage licenses to same sex couples today in defiance of the ban on same sex marriage. Tony and I live in Bucks County, PA, which is only a few miles from where the marriage licenses were issued, and it's s significant move for those who issued the licenses and those who obtained them.

The key words above are defiance and ban. It's obvious that in Montgomery County they are intentionally challenging the law in order to push things forward. Pennsylvania is the only mid-Atlantic state that doesn't even have civil unions for same sex couples. And we're tired of it.

What I found most refreshing about the article dealing with New Hope Mayor Keller was this:

Donna Deely, the Democratic contender for Republican Keller’s job in an election scheduled for this November, took it a step further: “If I am elected mayor I will officiate same-sex weddings. I think the risk there is minimal, and it’s the right thing to do, not only because it reflects the current prevailing legal winds and the country is moving in that direction, but also given New Hope’s rich tradition of acceptance. That’s why we chose to live here, and in my heart of hearts, I think it’s the fair and just thing to do.”

Even though there are legalities involved here, sometimes it's important to be on the right side of history in order to make a change. There was a time when people of African descent were not allowed to use the same bathrooms and water fountains as white people. Clearly, Mayor Keller doesn't believe the issue of gay marriage is important enough to take a stand and challenge. And this is in spite of the fact that his business has been supported by the gay dollar for many years, as well as his political ambitions. The most interesting thing here is that Keller is a Republican, and gays here have supported him in spite of that, too.

Now, Mayor Keller does have a history of issues regarding marriage.

Keller’s reluctance to engage in activity that may draw litigation seems to be founded in personal experience: he was questioned some years ago during a politically-charged environment about the propriety of the charitable donation of marriage fees he had collected, a charge he defended “at great personal cost.” Keller said he sought the advice of Borough Solicitor T.J. Walsh in this marriage request, who said “You don’t want to touch this. If he [Hanes] did something they said is illegal, you are going to be an accessory to an illegality.”

I can't find any links to that controversy now, but I do remember it. The issue eventually died down and no one heard a word about it again. However, it's important to note that marrying people is not unusual for mayors, and New Hope is also a destination for many straight couples to get married. Famed author and cook Julia Child and her husband were actually married in Lumberville, a few miles away from New Hope, many years ago. And Mayor Keller has performed marriages for straight couples.

Many are disagreeing with Keller's decision, including attorneys:

David S. Cohen, associate professor of law at Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law disagreed. “There is no clear decision from any binding court in Pennsylvania or the Federal court about the state’s marriage law, but officials like Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Montgomery County Clerk Hanes both have decided that the marriage law is unconstitutional. As a law professor and one of the attorneys representing same-sex couples in Montgomery County, I agree wholeheartedly,” said Cohen.

“If the mayor doesn’t want to go along with what the Attorney General and Montgomery County Clerk are doing, he will find himself on wrong side of history,” added Cohen.


Sometimes that's what it all comes down to in the end. And I think it will be interesting to see if Keller holds his ground with this, and, if he gets reelected this November.

Photo here.