Monday, September 30, 2013

Gay Dad Pens Toys R Us; Straight Guys Avoid Gay Guys; Drag Queens as Role Models

Gay Dad Pens Toys R Us

A gay dad has penned an open letter to Toys R Us, and the beginning of the letter is interesting because he talks about gender roles, especially with regard to the heteronormative traditional roles straight men and women have played in society. In other words, we are taught straight dads go to work in the morning so they can bring home the bacon. Straight moms stay home and take care of the house and do mom things. And even if moms don't stay home and take care of the house, straight moms and dads provide something that two gay dads can't provide to children. Then he gets into studies that disprove all this nonsense.

The main focus of the letter is that companies like Toys R Us promote gender politics, and most of us don't even realize it. Think fast food restaurants that have toys for kids: there's a boys toy and a girls toy. They even ask you which one you want. I know this because Tony and I have many nieces and nephews. And I've always been put off when they ask me that question.

Mega conglomerates like Toys R Us are making sure that it won’t be a “woman’s world” for a long long time. This SHOULD be a woman’s world. Women make up almost 51% of the United States population but in store marketing clearly tell little girls where their world is. It is a pink land that exists in between the easy-bake-oven kitchen and the frivolous glitzy fashion world, and no where else. It is far from a woman’s, or future woman’s world, if we define that world as one of choice and pursuit of individual skills, aptitudes and talents.

He makes points about the girls' section being frilly and pink, and the boys' section being rough and rugged. He also links to an organization called Let Toys Be Toys, which is an organization in the UK that has actually gotten Toys R Us to just put toys out on the shelves as they are, without gender classification, so kids can choose what they want instead of what we tell them to choose.

You can read the message in full here. It's an interesting piece for anyone who has ever wondered when their little boy told them he wanted to learn to cook instead of shoot guns or play football.

Straight Guys Avoid Gay Guys

I have no links to this part of the post. The open letter above reminds me of some of the subtle unconscious forms of discrimination I face daily as an openly gay man. For example, I have a few straight male "friends" I've met online over the years and they've always been friendly and very accepting in private. However, when it comes to interacting with them on social media in public they always go blank. They interact with all of their straight buds and women friends, but when the gay guy makes a comment on facebook they go dead silent as if he doesn't even exist. And the gay guy who comments doesn't even have to do or say anything flamboyant or over the top. He could just write a nice sentence that has no hidden meanings, and he's still ignored, really, as if he doesn't even exist. And that's because the straight guy doesn't want his straight buds and women friends to know he's associated with the gay guy. Trust me, it happens all the time and gay people are always sensitive to that brand of discrimination.

I know a straight male blogger who had a highly successful blog going for a while. It was even mentioned on Huff Po and a few other mainstream publications. He's a very articulate straight man who takes pride in his home, his car, and his property. He's attractive, works out, and has a killer body he's not shy about showing off in public on social media. But, he's about thirty and he's still single. I commented a few times on his blog to offer a few positive remarks about what he's doing and he was polite, but kept his distance. And then a few other people commented, offhandedly in a harmless way, that he keeps such a great house and is so articulate he could be gay. I watched this closely to see his reaction when his gender role was challenged. It was obvious he wasn't pleased, and he defended himself by slamming stereotypes. He was spot on correct about the stereotypes, however, he eventually shuttered the blog with a very weak excuse.

So this mind set isn't just something that happens with Toys R Us, where the straight male is supposed to be the big tough guy and shun everything pink. It begins with places like Toys R Us, in childhood, and continues for the rest of our lives. And believe me, I don't think the straight men I talked about in this post are by any means anti-gay. They really are great guys who all support gay rights. They just don't want any of their straight friends to know they could possibly be *too* friendly with the gay guy. That would give the wrong impression, and challenge everything they've been taught to believe. It would make them look bad. I actually have to think before I comment: I know where I'm not wanted and I don't want to cross the lines.

Drag Queens as Role Models

In keeping with the theme of gender classification, this next article deals with a mom who would rather have her daughters look up to drag queens as role models than Disney princesses. I can almost hear the cringing from the straight men I know online that I mentioned above who go blank with gay men who aren't even slightly effeminate.

In this article, Disney princesses make this mom cringe, but drag queens give her a sense of hope for her daughters. It's one of the smartest pieces I've read in years.

When it comes down to it, I respect drag queens. They are artists. They are able to conceptualize an idea and transform themselves -- without the help of magic, I might add. They are risk takers. They are punk. But Disney princesses? They are a man-made franchise created to sell cheaply made shit to our daughters. They are a perpetuation of the stereotype of the weak, dumb woman who obediently waits for a man to come along and make her valuable. Between the two I'll always promote the big-wigged man crooning "I'm Every Woman." Werq.

You can read more here.

As a side note, I have known a few drag queens personally and I've always found them to be some of the toughest most determined people within the LGBT community.

Photo attribution can be found here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

FREE in October: Fall Into Romance Blog Hop

FREE in October: Fall Into Romance Blog Hop

October is shaping up to be a busy month with online events for romance readers, not to mention free give-aways I've noticed all over the place this weekend. And one of the events in October is the Fall Into Romance Blog Hop, where I'll be posting about how my two favorite characters met and fell in love, and where I'll also be participating in the free give-away.

This will all take place on October 26, 27, and 28. Others are encouraged to join and participate if they are so inclined. I'll announce the prize (or prizes) I'm giving away very soon in an update.

You can read more here for details. There's also an advertising program I decided to participate in, too. It is, to date, the most inexpensive advertising I have ever done.

Authors, Publishers, Reviewers want to be a paid sponsor of the Hop? There are advertising opportunities on the Personalized Marketing's Blogspot. Sidebar Ad Images will be scaled down to 180 width x 300 height. Advertising is also available below the post for larger banners and displays.

I know I posted I wouldn't do another blog hop for a while because it takes so much time. But this looked like fun, I look at these things like other people look at their hobbies, and I genuinely enjoy doing them. I also like the contact I make with new readers all the time. That kind of connection is really what I love most, and what I cherish most about being an author in the Internet age.

And, I think this is important about ALL blog hops and online events. For those like me who can't just pick up and saunter off to every convention and event in the romance world, or book world, it gives us an alternative to connect. These online events like the Fall Into Romance Blog Hop are the next best thing to being there. And, most of the people who read romance e-books love these events because they can participate and it doesn't cost them anything. Not a dime.

Isn't that what it's all about nowadays with e-books and technology? We all have mortgages, student loans, car payments, family obligations that come first, etc...and most of us just don't have the luxury to pick up and run off to a convention in a foreign city, especially a city we normally wouldn't ever travel to in the first place. These conventions and events are not inexpensive when you factor in all costs.

So now's the chance to be part of what I believe is the future of book events for most authors publishers and readers. In many ways, it's the beginning of the pioneer age of marketing and promotion and the end of the old conventions as we knew them. And best of all, this Fall Into Romance event is not just for the elite. Everyone can participate, and everyone can have a little fun, too. And I know many of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ryan Field Books Smashwords; Bloggers and Pen Names

Ryan Field Books Smashwords

I've had books published with publishers up on Smashwords for a long time. Here's link to that page.

But we recently uploaded all my indie books, which include backlist titles I've been publishing alone since June on Smashwords and other web sites, and I wanted to mention that link, too, because I've had a few e-mails from readers about it.

I honestly don't know how this works, but for people looking for books I think it's a good thing to know that with authors like me you won't find the same results with just one search. In other words, my books with publishers are not grouped with books I've indie pubbed with Ryan Field Press. So if you're looking for other authors and for a specific book and you don't find it in one search, try another and be more specific (book title and author). There are a lot of imperfections still with online booksellers, and if you don't know these things you're going to get confused (me).

In any event, here's the link to my recently uploaded indies on Smashwords. All are .99 e-books. I think there are thirty-eight right now.

Side note: You can also find me here at Barnes & Noble. If you notice all my books on B&N, both indie and those released with publishers, are grouped together in one place.

Bloggers and Pen Names

First, this is only about bloggers, not about fiction writers or authors who have blogs that only deal with their fiction. I want to make that clear, because the most popular bloggers don't write fiction. They focus on news, pop culture, opinion, and other non-fic related topics, which include book reviews. So again, this isn't for fiction writer who have blogs or use pen names to write fiction.

If you search the web for articles about pen names and bloggers you'll find many varying opinions on the topic, and there doesn't seem to be a set rule. Mostly I found that those bloggers who use pen names defend pen names, naturally. Those who don't use pen names, don't trust bloggers who use pen names. If you search for journalists and pen names you'll also find a few different opinions. However, none of the opinions I found that are pro pen names for bloggers and journalists make a significant least not enough to sway my opinion about those who blog about real things with fake names and identities. And I found a post that sums up the way I feel about blogging news with a pen name.

I think this article sums it up well, and makes a few valid points about honesty and integrity when blogging. I've always believed that if you're a journalist or a serious blogger writing non-fiction oriented news or even reviews and opinion pieces you should be able to stand behind your own name, and be proud to do it. I realize there are some cases where the rules can be broken, but not in most cases. This excerpt below from the article is the best I've seen so far, and why I decided to use my real identity a long time ago. I have no regrets.

It keeps me honestThe Internets (word to George “Dubya” Bush) are a safe haven for anonymous and over the top speech — and by anonymous and over the top I mean ratchet and uncouth verbage slung by those who would never say such things in real life. The allure of going all in on somebody is decreased when you affix your real name to the end of a tweet, blog or article. I’ve gone hard on people before, but I have no problem standing behind what I say (and such was the case when I got blasted over my UFC rankings on a popular MMA website, which has left my Google search in shambles).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Free Gay Fiction Excerpt: Down the Basement II

Free Gay Fiction Excerpt: Down the Basement II

As promised in the earlier post today, here's a free excerpt from the sequel to Down the Basement, Down the Basement II: Santa Saturday. It's a novella that runs about 25,000 words, not a short novel. There's a difference. And as I've done in the past recently with excerpts of this nature, I'll post the g-rated parts here on google blogger, and then you'll have to click the link to my WordPress blog to read the rest.

It's also a .99 e-book. Here's the Amazon link to the novella, and you can find it at Smashwords and other places where e-books are sold.

From the raw unedited version:

After the Halloween costume party, I started seeing Kadin on a regular basis. And this left me speechless more than once. I couldn’t understand why a popular guy like Kadin would want to be with me. Kadin was the star quarterback on the college football team, all the girls in school were after him, and all his fraternity brothers loved him. When he walked me back to my dorm the first night we’d fooled around in the basement of his fraternity house, he kissed me good night in the dark hallway. Though he was the only guy at the party who had figured out I wasn’t a woman, he didn’t seem to care. I just stood there gaping, with one hand pressed to my throat and the other dangling at my side.

            When he left a few minutes later, I watched him lope down the sidewalk with his hands buried in his pockets and his shoulders hunched forward. He hadn’t worn a jacket and the weather had turned cooler that night. As he rounded a corner at the end of the walkway and disappeared from sight, I stood there staring into the darkness for another fifteen minutes, wondering if this had all been a dream.

            But it wasn’t a dream. I’d given him my cell number and he called me the next day and asked if we could get together that night. I agreed, with reservations. Kadin had only seen me in drag, not as a man. I’d gone to the costume party at the frat house in drag for fun, never expecting to hook up with anyone. And I had no intentions of doing drag again for a long, long time. When he picked me up that night, I worried Kadin would expect me to flit out of the dorm in high heels and a pink dress.

            I wore an off-white sweater and faded jeans instead. When his huge black SUV pulled up to the curb, I was standing there waiting for him with my hands in my pockets. It occurred to me that he might not even recognize me as a man. But he reached over the front seat and popped the door open. When I sat down and buckled my seat belt, he smiled and said, “You look nice tonight. Nice sweater.”

            Well. Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, we started seeing each other at least three or four nights a week. He never asked me to dress up in drag for him and he seemed perfectly content with me as a man. We drove to dark parking lots and jumped into the back of his SUV. Kadin explained he was bi-sexual and wanted to take it slowly at first. He even went into great detail about his frustrations and his anxieties about dating another guy in public. He looked me in the eye; he was honest. He said he wasn’t ready to be open about it. And I decided not to push him into anything too soon. I enjoyed being with him. Spending time alone this way, even though it was on the down-low, allowed us to be together without any other interruptions.


Cory Booker's Woman; Erotic Romance Book Review; Porch Swing Gay Romance

Cory Booker's Woman

I've posted about Newark, NJ Mayor, Cory Booker, in the past, mainly because he's running for the US Senate right now, he's a confirmed bachelor, he's in his forties, and there have been insinuations that he might be gay. He's denied these insinuations. So far, he's absolutely not gay.

Cory Booker is also the consummate politician, he's been preparing for much bigger things than mayor of a NJ city for most of this adult life, and I have no doubt whatsoever that he will win the senate seat this fall, and he will continue to move forward because he's such a consummate politician.

However, it's interesting to read a few recent incidents involving Booker, and a female stripper from the west coast who considers herself, "Stripper Model Weirdo." It's really all very harmless, and nothing like other sex scandals we've seen with other politicians. It seems this stripper woman is somewhat infatuated with Booker and Booker has been responding to her in a friendly way.

At a news conference Thursday, Booker said he communicates with people who send “kindness” his way and he doesn’t “study peoples’ profile(s).”

“That’s really what this is, is me responding to people, which I do every single day,” he said. “And frankly, finally, I just have to say, it is all about just that, is about listening to people and engaging with people no matter what their profession.

“I’ve tweeted people back from all different backgrounds,” he added. “It’s not something I pay attention to. But when somebody’s kind to me, I often say thank you.”

You can read more here. And in this article you can read some of the tweets the stripper woman sent to Booker and actually see a few photos of her. It's as entertaining as it is creepy.

“I want @CoryBooker to plow me through the night . . . ” she wrote in one tweet first reported on the website BuzzFeed.

I guess this is even more proof that Cory Booker isn't gay, not if he's tweeting to a female stripper. And frankly I like Booker, and I'm glad he's not gay. Because if he were gay, and he's been hiding it all this time, I would lose all respect for him at this point in my life. I've never been one of those people who believe everyone should come out of the closet at one time, and I've always believed that coming out of the closet is a highly personal matter and not everyone is ready to do it. I even think it's okay if a man or woman spends his or her entire life in the closet, quietly and without attention. I feel sorry for them, but I have empathy for them and I understand that. In my own personal life, I even support a few closeted gay men all the time.

But when it comes to politicians, and others in the public eye who are setting examples for younger gay people, I have no patience anymore for high profile liars, including politicians or anyone else who wants to promote the shame that's always been associated with being gay, with denial of the fact. And that includes all politicians, Democrat and Republican, who try to scam us into believing it's wrong to be gay. The lives of too many decent gay men and women have been ruined with that kind of mind set.

I know the old argument is that "it shouldn't matter" one way or the other if a politician, or another public figure, is gay or not. And in a perfect world I would agree with that. In a hundred years, I hope this really is the case. However, right now, that's not how it works. We are fighting too hard for equal rights. It does matter in some cases, especially if you're in the public eye and we're depending on honesty. Younger gay people need role models, too, and they aren't going to get positive signals from those who continue to hide being gay based on the concept of "it shouldn't matter."

It matters.

Erotic Romance Book Review

I may or may not have posted about the following book review I received last spring from On Top Down Under Book Reviews for my stand alone short story, Down the Basement.  I know I have posted about Down the Basement a few times over the years, mainly because it's always surprised me at how well that story was received. When I say I'm surprised, I'm talking more like stunned. When I wrote that story a long time ago and submitted it to a Cleis Press anthology I never thought anyone would even notice it. This is truly one of those deals in publishing where you never know what to expect. It was even part of a Lambda Award Winning book, which I posted about here.

In any event, it constantly surprises me. And this review is truly one of the most entertaining reviews for Down the Basement I've read so far. As a side note, I didn't solicit this review, and I most certainly didn't pay for it.

It's Halloween. There's going to be a frat house costume party and Rush has himself all ready to go - 6 inch black stiletto fuck-me heels, check, black lace-up corset, check, black, tight skirt, check again, black thong-sock, yep. Rush is tanned, terrific and ready to go to the frat house party. He's not cruising for guys, just wanting to feel sexy all dressed up with somewhere to go.

On the way some guys scope Rush out, 'pussy-hounds', commenting they would like to get some of what she's got. First test passed. Rush looks and feels like the woman she wants to be tonight.

You can read the entire review at the link above. And take the time to check out the rest of the web site while you're there. It's a great site, with a strong voice.

As a side note, I post about reviews sometimes, but I don't always remember to offer this one little hint to other authors who write gay erotica or gay erotic romance. If you're going to solicit professional online blogs or web sites where book reviews are done for free, please take the time to check out the kinds of books they review. In other words, you don't want to submit gay erotica or gay erotic romance to this book review site because they don't focus on gay erotica, and they know nothing about gay erotica or gay erotic romance. They're great with mainstream romance and some lighter brands of harmless m/m romance, but their concept of what's gay (gay culture and gay men) comes from hearsay and text books, not actual experience. Make sure you do the homework and find a book review site that fully understands gay erotica and gay erotic romance, or you might be disappointed. Same thing applies for straight erotica and erotic romance. This information is right there. All you have to do is check out what they've reviewed well as compared to what they haven't enjoyed.

I will be posting a long free excerpt from the sequel to Down the Basement later today, so it's up for the weekend.

Porch Swing Gay Erotic Romance

I'm not even sure there is such a thing as porch swing gay romance. So rather than going into a long explanation of what I consider a "porch swing" romance novel, I think this explains it well.

Though Nora Roberts's novels are good any time of year (curled up in bed on a cold night, outside on a porch swing in the crisp fall air), summer is when I find myself reaching for her romances most often.

For me, it's also a feeling of comfort, with a small town feel...without the billionaires, lavish settings, and elaborate backgrounds that include jets and helicopters. Only I rarely see this in any erotic romance, or even gay erotic romance. And I've been guilty as charged because I've done more than my share of billionaire themed books. We like that, too, and we like the escape billionaire romances bring to us. We can also curl up and read them on a porch swing.

But sometimes there's nothing more comforting than curling up on a porch swing and reading a romance that's set in a small town where everything's quaint and perfect, and where most old homes have old porch swings themselves. And just because you're gay doesn't mean you can't have that. In fact, I would be willing to bet there are more gay people now living in small quaint towns across America than ever before.

So in the next book I'm writing, the first in a western series for Ravenous Romance, I'll be focusing on the small fictional town of Glendora, Texas. It's the most perfect little town I've ever written about, where the homes are all Victorian or turn of the century craftsman style, and where everyone's front yard is stippled with pots of flowers and perfectly round boxwoods. They have town celebrations where everyone gathers to sing and dance. They have old cars they treat with pride and love. They even have a sheriff who maintains the kind of perfect structure all small towns would like to have. And most of all, they are all having sex, especially, in some cases gay sex.

My inspiration for this came from many sources. But mainly it's because I've always wanted to read a porch swing romance with erotica, and I've never actually found one I liked. I'm about thirty thousand words into this first book in the series, The Sheriff and the Outlaw, and I'll be posting free excerpts very soon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Matt Bomer In Time; Foot Cream Kills HIV; Paid Reviews

Matt Bomer In Time

For those who've been disheartened by Matt Bomer not getting the part of Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey, I recently came across the film, In Time, where Bomer plays an interesting character that basically sets the stage for the rest of the film.

It is the year 2169 and humanity had been genetically engineered to be born with a digital clock, bearing a year's worth of time, on their forearm. At the age of 25 a person stops aging, but their clock begins counting down; when it reaches zero, that person "times out" and dies. Time has been turned into the universal currency; one can give time for products or services, as well as transfer it to others. The country is divided into time zones based on the wealth of its population. The film focuses on two time zones: Dayton is poor, with a populace that has learned indifference to the timed-out bodies on its streets; and New Greenwich, the wealthiest zone where inhabitants enjoy the benefits of their immortality and wealth, but are constantly surrounded by bodyguards and spend their time worried about accidental death.

You can read more here at Wiki.

I'm not the biggest fan of this genre, however, this film is excellent. The concept will make you stop and think about how you've always thought about time. And Bomer is great as always. His part is small, but you can't stop thinking about what he did throughout the entire film. Of course Justin Timberlake holds his own, too. I feel a little guilty, as if I'm betraying the gay guy here, because I do like Matt Bomer. But Timberlake is the man of which all dreams are made.

Foot Cream Kills HIV

Whenever I see something like this I like to post about it because it creates a continued sense of hope that one day, hopefully in our lifetimes, there will be an end to HIV/AIDS. Now there's evidence that a common foot cream might be beneficial to those with HIV.

In a study performed at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, not only does the drug Ciclopirox completely eradicate infectious HIV from cell cultures, but unlike today's most cutting-edge antiviral treatments, the virus doesn't bounce back when the drug is withheld. This means it may not require a lifetime of use to keep HIV at bay.

If this is accurate, it's highly significant for anyone who is HIV positive and is now taking HIV meds. HIV is looked upon as a chronic illness, and in order to keep the virus at bay expensive drugs that have multiple side effects have to be taken daily. It's a very difficult lifestyle that requires constant blood work and monitoring, not to mention discipline. And if they can come up with something to keep the virus at bay millions of lives will be vastly improved.

Paid Reviews

There are some very strong opinions on the web about authors paying for book reviews. And a few things I didn't google can penalize you if you get caught buying reviews for your books or any product you're hocking to the public. This article covers all businesses on the web that depend on reviews. But from what I hear, it includes authors, too.

Google states that they have methods in place to automatically remove reviews that they believe may have violated their guidelines. They also pre-apologize because they know they might incorrectly remove some perfectly valid reviews.

I can just hear the free speech zealots harping on that one.

In this next article the blogger is adamant about authors who pay for reviews. Adamant to the point of stating it as bluntly as possible so there's no misunderstanding.

Paying for reviews is stupid from a marketing perspective. As an author the only feedback you should care about is honest feedback. And you’ll never know if you’re getting honest feedback when you pay for that feedback. Even if you don’t insist on a positive review, not all reviewers going to tell you what they really think. They’re too afraid of how you’ll react or they’re afraid others won’t pay them for the same. There are ethical paid reviewers out there. But you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. And you can’t improve your product or your marketing strategy based on a bunch of bullshit.

I actually posted about this dude in August 2012. He started out with the best of intentions trying to market and promote authors. However, he found out there's an easier way to make a buck.

Suddenly it hit him. Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted — that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.
In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.
I don't see the paid for book review issue disappearing. It's part of our culture now, and unfortunately retail web sites promote the behavior. I just wish they would be a little more discreet about it, is all. I've discussed this with other authors I know in private and we all agree that when you see a book being released by a relatively unknown author and the very next day after the release that same relatively unknown author has over fifty five star reviews on Amazon something's rotten in Denmark and it's not the cheese. And no matter how many times they swear on their moms, dads, kids, and dead dogs, that they aren't buying reviews, once the red flag is up there's no turning back.
I'd like to see the FTC getting more involved.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

George and Barbara Bush At Gay Wedding; Steve Jobs' Home Historical Site

George and Barbara Bush At Gay Wedding

This past weekend former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, served as witnesses at the wedding of two women, Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalson.

From ABC News:

Former President George H.W. Bush was an official witness at the same-sex wedding of two longtime friends, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, attended the ceremony joining Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen as private citizens and friends on Saturday, spokesman Jim McGrath said.
Thorgalsen posted a photo on her Facebook page showing Bush signing the marriage license as a witness. She captioned the photo: "Getting our marriage license witnessed!"
The article goes on to explain more about how the Bush family feels about gay marriage, and how former Vice-President Cheney feels about it. It's an interesting article for those who think politics is so black and white, without any gray areas. As things continue to move forward and more Republicans start supporting LGBT people, and more Republicans start coming out of the closet, my prediction is that it won't be a Democrat or Republican issue in the future.  
Steve Jobs' Home Historical Site
One of the things I often get into in my books whenever I set them in northern California is the architecture, especially the famed designs of Eichler. They weren't grand by any standards, and yet there's an artistic quality that marries form with function that's become a staple in modern home design.
But this takes that magnificent architecture to a higher level now, especially because it's finally being recognized as important. For a long time...most of my life...US architecture was only recognized as important if the likes George Washington slept there.
The family home where a young Steve Jobs built the first Apple computer may soon become a protected historical site.
The seven-member Los Altos Historical Commission has scheduled a "historic property evaluation" for the single-story, ranch-style house on Monday.
If the designation is ultimately approved, then the house on 2066 Crist Drive in Los Altos, California, will have to be preserved.

Are Engagement Rings Anti-Feminist; TransAmerica Reality TV; Gay Superdads

Are Engagement Rings Anti-Feminist

When I read the following article about a young straight man getting stuck with a $10,000 engagement ring, I couldn't help thinking in terms of gay marriage and gay relationships. I think that with most gay couples at this point in time, at least from what I'm hearing with friends and from what I'm doing with Tony, we are all equals in our relationships, at least when it comes to rings. In other words, I'm not buying Tony a $10,000.00 engagement ring, and he's not buying one for me either. We've had rings already for a long time. But if we didn't have them we would buy wedding rings or engagement rings for both of us, and not just one huge ridiculously expensive ring for just one in the relationship.

I'm sure there are gay couples who might think differently somewhere (especially if one is much, much older than the other...those younger second husbands of gay mid-life crisis relationships make out like bandits), but this is what I've always known in the circles where I travel. This all gets into a more complicated area, and how in this case there is no gender power in most gay relationships...or gay romances...but I'll save that for another post.

In any event, in this article a young man who was engaged to a young woman came home one day and found she'd left him, canceled the wedding plans, and decided she wasn't ready to get married. No problem there. We all have the right to change our minds. Good thing she realized it before they got married. However, as is the case in most of the straight relationships I know, the young man was left holding a $10,000.00 engagement ring that he'd purchased for her with his life savings. And these rings are not investments, at least not unless you have the Hope Diamond or there's some significant storied famed that comes with the ring. The retail mark up with jewelry is a crime.

When he tried to sell the ring he'd spent most his life savings on, he found that he could only get a third of the original price.

"The offer was staggeringly low," Opperman says on his website. "Rather than get mad I decided to break even."

The article goes on to discuss how young men who have been taken this way, and left holding an item that had been marked up tens times its worth, can get back something so they aren't at a staggering loss. And there's an emotional investment here, too, that can't be ignored. If a guy is willing to part with his life savings to buy a tiny little hunk of metal with a clear stone, he's definitely in love and he's willing to do anything.

And I can't help thinking how counter-productive this is to feminism and all the things we hear about these days when it comes to equal rights for women. It just seems to me there's a double standard when the man is expected to spend thousands of dollars on an engagement ring and he doesn't receive something of equal value in return. In the same respect, this tradition of engagement rings is just as antiquated as the tradition of the bride's family paying for the wedding.

TransAmerica Reality TV

From the producers of Ru Paul's Drag Race, comes a new reality show that might be titled TransAmerica

According to a press release sent to the Huffington Post, Doron Ofir Casting is seeking "beautiful," "dynamic" and "fashionable" transgender women to take part in a new reality series that will explore the personal and public lives of modern day women who self-identify as trans. "TransAmerica" hopes to redefine stereotypes by exploring the complex world of dating and careers for transgender women, in an effort to both entertain and educate audiences.

You can read more here. I hope they do this right, in the sense that it's not something that resembles a carnival or sideshow, like TV producers tend to do with anything LGBT, especially with the T part. There are a lot of misconceptions about transgender people out there, and I would hate to see anything that would only promote more misconceptions. I also think there is a hidden aspect that's rarely discussed often. More straight men out there who aren't willing to admit it find transgender women highly attractive. If that weren't the case, the transgender adult entertainment industry wouldn't be doing so well.

I wish we would see more of this in LGBT romance.

Gay Superdads

This is truly one of the nicest pieces I've read in a long time. A gay couple in Arizona, a state like Pennsylvania that doesn't allow legal same-sex marriage, is adopting fourteen kids.

Despite living in a state where gay marriage is still prohibited, the longtime foster parents have successfully cleared several legal hurdles on their way to adopting a family that requires a 15-seat van just to go to the park, reports.

The Hams' journey began back in 2003, when the Phoenix couple took in Michael, then 5, a victim of abuse who was living in a group home.

This is another example of real life heroes who often go unnoticed.

You can read more here. The article goes on to explain one of those things that many people consider real life coincidences, or twists of fate. I've been studying metaphysics for a long, long time, and I don't believe there are any accidents.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gay Character in Kids Book Causes Kerfuffle

Gay Character in Kids Book Causes Kerfuffle

Just when we see a positive gay character in a kids book, the heavens explode and all the adult content warning labels come out. From what I gather, Better Nate than Ever isn't a gay book, but there's minor sub-plot that deals with coming of age and the character is starting to realize he's attracted to boys and he's not certain why. (I think any gay man alive can relate to that feeling.)

And then librarians started pulling the book. After that, in a blog post, an amateur book reviewer who is a Christ Follower gave the book a good review, but also put a warning on the book stating that it contains homosexuality in a positive if that's grounds alone for a warning label.

This what the blogger said:

  • Throughout the story, Nate slowly realizes that he might be interested in men. You might want to have a conversation with your child about what your family believes about sexuality and specifically about homosexuality.

  • This isn't all that unfamiliar to me. I know there are web sites that classify anything with LGBT content with warnings about adult content...yes, even if the book doesn't contain sex scenes and it's completely g-rated material. Author Alex Beecroft wrote a post about this topic not too long ago in a way that I found interesting and well executed. Just the fact that there's a gay character in a book makes it adults only, as if kids aren't gay. Trust me, Mrs. Kids Book reviewer, I knew I was gay when I was three years old and my parents didn't have to explain it or tell me about it. I got it then, and I get it now. It wasn't sexual either. Most openly gay adults would agree with me.

    In an odd way, this all reminds me of what happened on Big Brother, the TV series, a few years ago when Jeff Schroeder decided that Dumbledore in Harry Potter couldn't be gay because it wasn't appropriate for kids to read. And Schroeder was very passionate about it. I posted about that here. I had to remove Schroeder's photo for copyright reasons (my own decision), which is why there's a blank in the post.

    To say this news took Jeff by surprise would be an understatement. Noting at first that Dumbledore “doesn’t have any gay tendencies,” Jeff grew increasingly agitated and irate. “He’s in school with little kids!” he shouted. “You don’t want to make that guy gay!” Asked to expound, Jeff explained, “It isn't right to have it in a little kid's book, and have the head master locked away in this magical land, be gay.

    In any event, now the author of Better Nate Than Ever is dealing with this, too. And I thought it would be interesting to let my readers know how some of these people in the mainstream view gays, or anything with a hint of gay content...they view it with adult warning labels.

    But there is a bright note. From Tim Federle's post:

    Happily, there are many more educators, booksellers, young readers and parents who have been supportive of this book and books like it, books that tell stories that star diverse characters who aren't just relegated to the sidelines as the sassy sidekick or the tomboy cousin. And some of Better Nate Than Ever's most noted reviewers celebrated its "inclusive" storyline or didn't even mention the gay thing at all, which I kind of loved. If anything's to be picked apart, let it be my exuberant usage of exclamation points and parentheses, not my character's maybe-he-is-or-maybe-he-isn't sexuality.

    Matt Damon Emmy; Unethical Authors Zon Alert; Gay Russian Sex

    Matt Damon Emmy

    No, Matt Damon didn't win an Emmy Award for Behind the Candelabra this year, but Michael Douglas, his co-star, did win one for his portrayal of Liberace.

    "This is a two hander," Douglas said, in reference to his co-star Matt Damon. "And Matt, you're only as good as your other hand. You're magnificent, and the only reason I'm standing here is because of you. You really deserve half of this. So … you want the bottom or the top?"

    I thought that was both generous and honest. Damon was equally as good, and he had to play the part of someone twenty years younger, which was amazing to watch. I'm still not thrilled that straight white men who rule the world get all the important parts in Hollywood, including the parts where they portray gay men. Especially since Matt Bomer was overlooked for the part of Christian Grey in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. But the fact is both Douglas and Damon were good in the film. It just would have been even nicer if they'd managed to leave out the funny-ha-ha gay jokes and innuendos during promotion and after the film.

    They kissed.

    They aren't gay.

    We get it.

    And we don't care.

    Unethical Authors Zon Alert

    Update: In an unrelated article to book publishing, the NY Attorney General is fed up with fake reviews.

    New York's attorney general revealed the results of a yearlong investigation into the business of fake reviews. Eric T. Schneiderman announced Monday that 19 companies that engaged in the practice will stop and pay fines between $2,500 and $100,000, for a total of more than $350,000 in penalties.

    Yesterday when I posted about Kirkus and authors paying for book reviews, I had no idea this web site even existed until later in the day. The blog is called Amazon Alert, and the web address is Zonalert. From what I gather in a general sense, they are investigating book reviews on Amazon.

    Anything written in this blog is the opinion of the blog creators. Our posts are not meant to defame, harass or personally attack any individual or company. However, as journalists, we intend to report what we’ve encountered while investigating fake reviews since 2010. Our promise to readers is that we won’t post anything without careful research and double-checking the facts.

    I have little to say on this topic, because I know very little about it. I don't pay for reviews, never did pay for reviews, and never will pay for reviews. I get them the old fashioned way: I wait for people to buy my books, read my books, and leave reviews. However, according to a recent post on this zon alert, several authors with fairly high profiles have allegedly engaged in the practice of paying for reviews, and on quite a grand scale. I'm not talking about one Kirkus review now.

    According to zon alert:

    In a rather odd turn, Hugh Howey, who was merely listed here as a review buyer in the official September 12 Fiverr Report on Melissa Foster but made no other mention of, has gone on a weeks’ long tirade professing his innocence. Bizarre behavior for someone who is supposedly innocent, especially as he’s using his ongoing tirade as a promotional vehicle to get family, friends, and other supporters to flood Amazon with favorable reviews.

    I once posted about Howey here, and a rant post he wrote about his experiences with a young woman at one of those book events we hear about all the time. Howey is a self-published author who is represented by the Nelson Literary Agency, a literary agency based out west somewhere that runs an e-publishing service for its self-published clients.

    Zon alert, according to the same post I've linked to above, is working on a book deal right now that will get more deeply involved in the investigations they've made about paid solicited book reviews and "the dark side of publishing."

    The acquisition editor writes in the acceptance letter: “I’m as appalled by this behavior as you are and I congratulate you on your dedication to revealing truth. Your photocopies of emails between authors and [the company you worked at], particularly the brazen nature of M. Foster’s emails, leaves no doubt they knew what they were doing was wrong.”

    As journalist Linda Ellerbee used to say, "And so it goes"

    And as I've predicted before, I think this is the beginning of the end of the lawless old wild west of the Internet.

    Gay Russian Sex

    In this article, the practices of gay sex in Russia are examined.

    "In the toilet a young lad came up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Let's get acquainted,'" Klimov later recalled. The man's name was Volodya. He invited Klimov to the Lenin Museum.

    "He bought the tickets with his money, and we went straight to the men's toilet."

    I know that sounds highly irregular and superficial on the surface. However the article goes into far more detail about cruising in Europe and even offers explanations as to why this happens. And, as in most cases with articles of this nature, the comment thread is just as interesting.

    Frankly, I don't see how much of it differs from the US. Cruising is, and always has been, part of gay culture everywhere. I think that will change, though.

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Ryan Field Books; Paid Book Reviews; Finding Beta Readers

    Ryan Field Books Facebook

    On facebook, I have an author page that's been around for at least the last five years. However, I've personally been on facebook for almost as long as facebook has been around with my own name, and in that time I've built up a list of friends who are a cross between readers, family, and friends from all parts of the world.

    So when I use facebook, it's not only just for book promotion. Facebook for me is also a social outlet that I enjoy daily. And what happens as a result of this is the author page, Ryan Field Books, usually suffers and my own personal facebook account is where you'll find me. And, I accept all friend requests unlike some people because I do think of that account as a place for readers, too. Frankly, I never got the concept of "Do you know this person?" on facebook. Part of the reason I'm on facebook it to meet new people, and not just stick to those I already know. It's social media. Isn't that the basic point of it? I'm supposed to turn people away just because I don't know them? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose?

    The reason I'm posting about this now is because I checked out my author page late last night for the first time in months and found messages and comments left by readers who were thoughtful enough to take the time to do that. And I felt awful about not knowing this, and even worse because one of my biggest pet peeves about authors and social media is when the author is too grand and mighty to actually communicate and socialize with readers in any capacity. I see readers leaving comments on author status updates all the time and when the author never replies I get a little put off by that. I personally think it's important to at least take the time to say something once in a while.

    So I will try to start updating that author page, and I will keep up with things more frequently now. But if you did try to reach me on the author page and you didn't get a response, please understand that was just me being absent minded and I always reply to everyone who contacts me. I would actually like to delete that author page, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea either.

    Paid Book Reviews

    I know I've posted about paid book reviews before here somewhere, but for those who don't know what I'm talking about I'll explain it again. This basically falls under the category of "Everyone says you should do this," and authors are always being told that reviews are the most important way to promote their books. I can't even count the number of times I've read this advice. And in the quest for book reviews some authors pay outside sources to read their books and review them.

    I'm only going to link to one place right now, because some of the places where you can buy these book reviews are questionable at best. This link seems reputable. Although I'm not an expert on paid book reviews, I do know that Kirkus seems to have a good reputation in the field. But it's not without pitfalls either, as this author notes in this blog post titled, "Kirkus Reviews: Is it Worth the Money?"

    Not only was I starry-eyed, but I was also impatient. Instead of paying $425.00 for a review that might take 9 weeks, I decided to fork over the extra money and paid $575.00 for the 4-6 week review.

    Once the review was published, however, nobody saw it. It got tucked away three or four layers deep into the Kirkus labyrinth of thousands of reviews, and you wouldn’t find it unless you searched for it specifically.

    I've personally never paid for one single book review in my life, and at this point I don't intend to do that. I'm not being holier than thou; I just prefer unsolicited reviews all the time. I also write some highly erotic gay romances, and most people tend to be discreet about leaving reviews for books of that nature. In other words, I get e-mails in private from someone who writes middle grade books telling me how much he loves my books, but I don't expect him to review one of my books on his middle grade web site. Or for that matter, to review one of my books on Amazon with his real name. And that's part of what comes with choosing to write anything highly erotic...and gay. No complaints. Everything about the genre deals with discretion and privacy...even what I post here on this blog. I self-censor all the time.

    I'm also too damn cheap to pay Kirkus $575.00. I'd rather have this, or this instead.  And when I think as a business person, and I think about how many books need to be sold in order to make a paid review from Kirkus worthwhile, the numbers simply don't add up unless you're writing something mainstream with the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of people. Even in that case, I have a literary agent friend who advises his newer clients against paying that much for book reviews from anyone, and then he tells his authors to focus on social media and unsolicited reviews from readers. He's a great agent and good friend and I trust him completely.

    But the general point of this post is to show that paid book reviews are not uncommon, they aren't unethical, and authors and publishers have been doing this for many years, both large and small. Of course there are a few questionable web sites out there that will review books for a fee (one for five bucks a book), but I think it's safe to say that you'll know them when you see them. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    Finding Beta Readers

    This is something one of my authors who contributed to The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance asked me about a month ago and I was at a loss. I know there are tons of beta readers out there, but I've never personally had one so I couldn't name anyone specific. But I think beta readers are great, and when I saw this article I figured I'd link to it for those who are looking for beta readers, or even those who don't know what betas are.

    Don’t ask family or friends; their critiques are worthless. Are you part of any writing groups? You should be! Go join a few now for your next novel. I have a group of awesome friends online who have been invaluable beta readers for me. For now, go to Goodreads and find an author who writes the same kind of stuff as you. Look at the people who’ve reviewed his stuff, and consider if their reviews are accurate and insightful. Message 5 of them and ask them if they would read and critique your work. But really, fellow authors are the best because they can point out tangles in your structure and help you fix them better than readers can.

    Whatever you do, don't ever pay for a beta reader. The author who asked me about beta readers mentioned a company that will read and critique your book for a fee of $200.00 and I think that's just insane. There are more than a few readers out there who would be willing to read your work and critique it for free. They love doing this, they are usually the best critics, and you'll get an outside opinion that's objective and more reliable than you can get anywhere else. In most cases, the beta reader is going to be the same type of reader who will be reviewing your book when it's published.

    Sunday, September 22, 2013

    Gay Marriage in Illinois; Adam Weinstein Great/Scathing Essay

    Gay Marriage in Illinois

    Illinois is dealing with many of the same issues regarding same sex marriage that we're dealing with here in Pennsylvania. For the most part the issues are all about equality and I don't think anyone pushing for same sex marriage to be legalized everywhere would dispute that as the main issue. Everything else is secondary. However, there are also other small things to consider like the gay dollar, the power of the gay dollar, and boosting a state's economy.

    Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie sent a letter to all House members earlier this month saying it’s time to approve legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. The letter follows a push in early September by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak to lure Illinois’ gay couples to wed in Minnesota, which legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year. Attempts to approve legislation have stalled in Illinois; A measure passed the state’s Senate but the House sponsor didn’t call a vote because he said he didn’t have the votes.

    “Illinois has been missing out on this economic opportunity long before Minneapolis’ mayor unleashed his advertising campaign in our state,” Currie wrote in the letter released Saturday.

    I've posted about Illinois here on the blog before. Frankly, a good deal of the issue is coming down to money in an off-handed way. I heard a group of younger gay men talking about New Hope, PA, this weekend, where the mayor of New Hope refused to marry same sex couples recently, and they brushed off going to New Hope for the weekend without even thinking twice as a result of the mayor's decision.

    You can read more here.

    Adam Weintstein Great/Scathing Essay

    Adam Weinstein is a career writer and he has written pieces for publications I often link to here, like Mother Jones and the Village Voice. And he's recently written what many are calling a scathing essay that slams those who think his generation is lacking something...for lack of a better way to phrase that. I actually tend to agree with him, and on all the points he makes.

    Last weekend my baby had a fever, and we contemplated taking him to the ER, and my first thought was - had to be - “Oh God, that could wipe out our savings! Maybe he can just ride it out?” Our status in this Big Financial Game had sucked my basic humanity towards my child away for a minute. If I wish for something better, is that me simply being entitled and delusional?

    I don't know how anyone could even try to dispute that paragraph. If you can dispute it, you're coming from a place of huge privilege and you should remain silent and thank your lucky stars. I don't know many younger people who aren't facing that very same issue. I even argued about this very same topic with Tony last week in the car on our way to a function. In the 1970's when I was a little kid you could still go to the dentist and it was affordable. Or even the veterinarian. Nowadays one quick trip to the dentist or the vet and it's the same as a down payment for a new car. I honestly don't know how younger people are doing it these days.  

    You can read more here. It's a great essay. From what I've seen in other places, he's had over 700,000 hits.

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    LGBT Rights; Tenn. Refuses Gay Name Changes; A Woman Superhero Film

    LGBT Rights

    This is for teens and younger LGBT people, from Lambda Legal.

    If you're young and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LBGTQ), this section is designed to help you know your rights and make sure they're respected.

    There's also something for transgender people, too.

    Trust me on this, you may not think you need to know these things. But you never know and it's always better to be prepared.

    Tenn. Refuses Gay Name Changes

    Here's yet another issue started by those who would rather not see same-sex marriage legal anywhere. The state of Tennessee is now refusing to issue name changes on driver's licenses and other documents even if the same sex couple was married legally in another state that recognizes same sex marriage.

    The result is, as more Tennessee couples go to one of the 13 states and Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriages are recognized, they are having trouble getting it recognized back home. Complicating matters is the federal government now recognizes same-sex couples and allows Social Security cards to be issued in married names.

    The Tennessean reports that attorneys are recruiting potential couples for a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban.

    You can read more here. It's interesting because it gets into some of the legal arguments.

    A Woman Superhero Film

    I was just discussing this with another author on FB the other day. It seems Marvel Comics wants to bring a superhero film starring a woman to the screen, but they aren't rushing to do this just yet.

    When you think about it, most superheros fit the demographic portion of that description. Of course, on some level, this reflects the fact that macro culture is defined by the straight, white, male. Yet, the trend is especially problematic when it comes to superheroes, because of the way in which superheroes are defined. For an archetype driven by the concept of strength in otherness, superhero legends have quite the problem with others.

    Pragmatically speaking, the straight, white, male superhero thing is working. In the past year alone, Iron Man, Superman, and Wolverine "have proven to be," as the BBC put it, "just as adept at pulling in audiences as they are at saving the world." And, while we're on the subject of numbers, one could just as easily look to the failures that were "Elektra," which cost $43 million and grossed just under $25 million, or the larger-scale flop "Catwoman," which had a $100 million budget and made only $40 million. Although, that's not enough evidence to claim women aren't a big enough draw for the genre, because both also happened to be pretty bad films (scoring, respectively, 10 percent and 9 percent on Rotten Tomatoes).

    You can read the rest here. I've posted many times before the world is run by straight while males. This is another good example of the extent to which that concept goes.

    I suspect we'll see a woman starring in a superhero film much sooner than we will see an openly gay male starring in one.

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    The Disappointment in Mayor Keller of New Hope, PA

    The Disappointment in Mayor Keller of New Hope, PA

    For those who follow my posts, I've been linking to articles about the mayor of New Hope, PA, which is also my own mailing address. I live about three miles from downtown New Hope. It's a very small tourist town that I've written about before here. And recently there's been a kerfuffle over the fact that the mayor of New Hope, Larry Keller, has refused to marry gay couples because same-sex marriage is illegal in Pennsylvania, unlike New York, which is about one hour away by car. I thought I would elaborate on this one more time for my readers because it is something that is deeply rooted in civil rights and LGBT history.

    You can imagine the reaction the mayor has received from those who are same-sex couples in New Hope.  In full disclosure, Mayor Keller has stated, though reluctantly, that he is supporting legal same-sex marriage in PA, however he's not willing to risk the legal ramifications that accompany marrying same-sex couples right now while it is still illegal in PA. The liberal Democrat Mayor of Philadelphia has also made the same decision, because he doesn't want to break the law by marrying same sex couples and promoting the concept of equal rights. And that really is what all this comes down to. It's a pragmatic decision for both mayors in both places to uphold the laws whether these laws promote inequality or not. The law is the law. Fire is hot. All this came about when a straight married clerk in Montgomery Count, PA, decided to challenge the law himself, all alone, and issue marriage licenses to same sex couples in PA because he wanted to go down on the right side of history. Several of those couples went to New Hope and Philadelphia with their marriage licenses and both mayors refused to recognize them on the basis that it was against the law.

    All this has spawned a firestorm between locals in New Hope about whether the mayor is right or wrong...from social media to e-mails. It's recently become a fight between Democrats and Republicans, and it's been nasty to say the least. But what most people outside of New Hope don't know is the history behind the town, and values the town has always stood for. It's not a typical small town in Pennsylvania, which is why Tony and I, and so many other same-sex couples, decided to live here years ago. At one time, it was the only town outside of Philadelphia (and most of New Jersey) that actually had multiple gay bars where gay people could congregate and meet without being harassed. And even then I personally recall nights when straight men driving down the road would shout pejoratives to gay men as they crossed the parking lot from their cars to the gay bar. It happened to me on several occasions and the only thing to do was keep walking, look down, and don't stop until you got inside and took a deep breath.

    The reason I opened my art gallery in New Hope and kept it for ten years back in the 1990's was because New Hope was such a diverse community and always so accepting of all people, not just LGBT people. My late landlord was a man named Johnny Francis, who entertained celebrities that ranged from Diana Ross to Jackie Kennedy, in the 1960's, because New Hope was a pit stop for the rich and famous who traveled between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York. It's always been a place where the arts were celebrated, from big Broadway musicals opening here to the New Hope School of art, now famous for its group of celebrated fine artists. I could link and continue, but I think most people get the point that New Hope is different than other small towns in very distinct ways.

    We even started celebrating our own gay pride event about ten years ago, and then the New Hope Film festival began shortly after that. We entertain one of the largest antique auto shows in the country every August, where people from all over the country come and stay at guest houses and bed and breakfasts. It's not unusual to go out to dinner here on a Saturday night and wind up sitting next to a film, TV, or rock star. And part of that reason is because of the diversity, and the way that diversity has always been celebrated. Back in the earlier days, New Hope was a place where mixed race couples could walk down Main Street hand in hand and no one would look at them twice. My former landlord where I had the gallery was the first in town to welcome gays during the 1950's when no one else would dare to do that. He started the first drag shows in town, that brought even more people here on weekends. And always, the bottom line was diversity, equality, and absolute freedom to be who you are. And, this is all pre-Stonewall.

    The Beat Generation was known to hang out in what used to called the Latin Quarter in New Hope. Alan Ginsberg lived here, and social activist Abbie Hoffman lived and died here in neighboring Solebury Township, PA, in 1989. So when the present Mayor of New Hope, Larry Keller, broke tradition and refused to marry same-sex couples recently, it wasn't like this was happening any old place. It was happening in a place known for breaking tradition and non-conformity. It was happening in a place that has always been known to stand up for equal rights no matter what the cost. And that literally floored people to the most basic core, especially all the same-sex couples who have lived here, supported New Hope, and paid taxes to New Hope all these years.

    So this entire ordeal that has spawned such controversy as a result of Mayor Keller's decision, goes deeper than just following the law and being pragmatic. If there's a law that states someone can only sit in the back of the bus and not up front, sooner or later someone is going to come along and challenge that unfair law and take a chance. Rosa Parks went down on the right side of history for doing this, and she was willing to pay the price at the time. Throughout history there have been brave people who have been willing to challenge unfair laws and they did what they had to do. Rosa Parks was even willing to get arrested for what she believed in, and she's been dubbed the "First Lady of Civil Rights."

    Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement".[1] Her birthday, February 4, and the day she was arrested, December 1, have both become Rosa Parks Day, commemorated in the U.S. states of California and Ohio.

    It's very hard to believe now that a human being in the United States of America could actually get arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus, but that's how it was back then...until someone had the courage to challenge the rule and stand up for equality. And in refusing to marry same sex couples in New Hope, and in refusing the challenge the law that makes same-sex marriage illegal in PA, Mayor Keller broke tradition in New Hope and disappointed many people beyond repair. He sided with not only an unfair law, but also the wrong side of history. You can twist it, spin it, and turn it in any direction you want, but he chose the law, and it's a law that discriminates. Because I believe that one day, fifty or sixty years from now, someone else will be writing something about inequality and referring to a time when same-sex marriage was illegal and finding that just as hard to believe as forcing good, decent human beings to the back of the bus.

    It's so easy to forget the way others have stood up to unfair laws that discriminate. From Rosa Parks' own recollection:

    When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?" She remembered him saying, "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest."[23] She later said, "I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind.

    According to Mayor Keller of New Hope, and Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia, the law is the law.

    Gay Wins Big Brother: FREE Gay Excerpt Small Town Romance Writer

    Gay Wins Big Brother

    This summer the only openly gay man in the Big Brother house won the grand prize of five hundred thousand dollars. But before anyone starts clapping, the title of the article to which I'm linking is, Did a Racist Win Big Brother 15?  Here are a few of my posts on the subject this summer. And I haven't been the only one blogging and talking about the racist comments.

     From NBC News Entertainment:

    and then there was Andy Herren, an openly gay contestant who found himself on the receiving end inappropriate slurs from his fellow houseguests, but managed to make enough verbal waves to spark a Facebook statement from his former employer explaining that he "does not represent the opinions or values of College of DuPage."

    Andy Herren wasn't the only one, and actually he didn't make the majority of the racists comments. These racists comments were addressed at the season finale last Wednesday night when the house guests came together for the first time since each one had been evicted, before a live audience. But they weren't addressed in any detail by any means, and it would be interesting to see how some of these houseguests reacted to what America saw this summer on TV and the live feed. Several of them were fired from their jobs just like Andy Herren.

    But not everyone made racist comments. Unfortunately he didn't win the prize. Howard Overby said this: (And I'd like to add that this guy was great. It takes a lot to bring me to tears, but what this guy had to endure this summer from grown adults absoluetly gutted me.)

    "My sincere prayer to anyone who has said anything like that ... is that you grow from this, you mature from this, you own this," he explained. "Hopefully there's a change from the inside out."

    FREE Gay Excerpt Small Town Romance Writer

    All week I've been posting excerpts from published books, and because this is the last day of the week, I figured I would post an excerpt from an upcoming book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series. This one is tentatively titled Small Town Romance Writer, it's 113,000 words in length, and it's the eighth and final book in the series.

    I'll post the pg rated part of the excerpt here on google blogger, and then you can click to my Word Press blog to read the erotic parts.

    Chapter Fourteen


                While they were in the airport waiting for a flight to Boston, Ethan phoned Travis to talk about another bad review he’d received from The Shark Lady. This time his voice sounded wrecked with anger, to the point where he practically hissed and Travis had to pull his cell phone away from his ear.

                “That fucking asshole is trying to ruin me,” Ethan said. “Who writes two bad reviews for the same book? That was no accident, Travis. I’m going to write an open letter to that shark fucker on my web site and I’m going to fucking eat her for breakfast.” This time The Shark Lady had taken his highly toned down sex scenes out of context and turned them into hysterical examples of bad writing. She’d blasted it all over various social media web sites. Travis didn’t mention this to Ethan, but even he’d smiled at a few of her comments. They were genuinely funny, although highly out of context.

                Even though Travis had never been a fan of Ethan’s writing style, Ethan was his best friend and he had to say something to calm him down. But more than that, Travis had to admit that the review had not been fair. Funny, but not fair. He’d seen this before more than once, the way a clever book reviewer can take an excerpt from a book…any book, including the bible…out of context and make it look ridiculous. It was an age old trick some book reviewers’ use, but unfortunately most people didn’t recognize it or understand it. And there was nothing an author could do about it except take it with grace, write the book reviewer’s name down on a list, file it somewhere for future reference, and then get even with the nasty reviewer sometime down the road in the future.

                “You have to calm down,” Travis said. “If you write an open letter to a book reviewer about a bad review the only thing that will happen is that you’ll make yourself look bad. And you have so many wonderful things happening right now that would be huge mistake. Just laugh it off. Take it as a compliment. How many authors get two reviews from the same reviewer?” That’s what Travis had done.

                “You don’t know what it’s like,” Ethan said. “No one ever wrote a review like that for your book.”

                That was true. Travis’s award winning book had received some excellent reviews, and mostly middle of the road reviews. But this worried him even more than if he’d had bad reviews. He’d always believed the books that sparked the most controversy and created the most interesting discussions were the most valuable. In order to spark discussion a book had to be both loved and hated. But he didn’t want to get into that with Ethan on the phone, in the airport. So he continued to pacify him and stroke his damaged ego until they said it was time to board the plane.

                “I have to go now. We’re boarding. Call me later when I get to P’town. Just don’t write or say anything you’ll regret. Let it go, Ethan. Don’t do or say anything in public. You’ll regret it. Just trust me on this one thing.”

                “Can I send her a dead fish?” Ethan asked. “Or maybe a ticket for a cruise ship in shark infested waters.”

                “No, not even that. Let it go. She only wants you to respond. She’s goading you.”

                His voice had mellowed by then. “I suppose you’re right once again. Thanks for listening to me rant that way. But I will get even with that nasty, vicious, evil excuse for a human being someday if it’s the last thing I do.”

                Travis smiled. “I have no doubt about that. Call me later if you want. Love you.”

                “Love you, too,” Ethan said. “And thanks again for being there, as always.”

                When Travis hung up, Scottie reached for their carry-on bags and said, “Is he okay now?” He’d been listening to the conversation the entire time. He seemed to have come to his own personal understanding about Ethan and Travis’s relationship and he never questioned the dynamics.

                Travis stood up and said, “I think he is. But I have a feeling someday in the future he’s going to picking his teeth with the remains of the woman who wrote that nasty book review. Ethan never forgets anything that bruises his ego.”

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