Saturday, November 30, 2013

Romance First Publishing; True Blood Gay Sex Scene

Romance First Publishing

An author I've posted about a few times before, Steph L. Danielson, has a nice small start up that I like a lot. I've read several titles and I've enjoyed them all. And I don't see any spamming or overly aggressive marketing/promotion that's usually a huge turn-off to most people who are serious readers. And in a day and age when more than half the publishing related things we see online are questionable at best, it's refreshing to see something honest and real where you know the people running things really care about what they are doing...and they are doing it because they love it.

Romance First recently moved to google blogger and I think it's not only a smart move, but also a move that makes things easier for authors and readers. When it comes to start ups of anything I think as a businessperson first and foremost. And keeping overhead cost down at all times is the first serious lesson any good businessperson learns...if they want to stay in business for any length of time. I've owned several successful small businesses not publishing related and they've always done well and I think that's partly because I put practical reasons first all the time and didn't focus on vanity or ego. In this case, with anything publishing related, vanity web sites look great but how cost-effective are they when it comes to making a profit? So far, from what I've seen, the more money a publisher saves on overhead costs the more money they save for the readers by keeping book prices down. That's how good businesspeople think. And I even know agents who have changed their web sites to save money.

The new google blogger site for Romance First is not only pragmatic, but also extremely user-friendly. You don't have to figure out what to do or where to go for any length of time, and everything you'll need to know is right there in a plain and simple format. It's also pretty and has been well-designed, which isn't easy to do. It has a romance feel to it and that's something that always attracts me in the very beginning at a glance.

I don't want to turn this into a web site review, so here's a link to Romance First Publishing where you can check things out for yourselves. You'll notice a few familiar names on the author list, and I've read several of them and I've enjoyed their works, too. I also think RFP will be posting regular blog posts for authors and readers, which seem publishing related. Here's an excerpt from one on rejection:

One of the worst words ever, for any writer is to see REJECTED.

I don't know a single author out there that hasn't been rejected at least once. It's heartbreaking, how could they do this to you? It takes a toll, believe me. But it is definitely not the end of the line.

So how do you pick yourself up and dust yourself off after such a blow?

1. It is not a personal attack.
They have seen your words and your story, but they do not know you. It is not an attack on your person or your psyche.

We've all been THERE.

True Blood Gay Sex Scene

Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill Compton on True Blood, recently did an interview with Huff Po. Among other projects he's doing he talks about the ultimate sex scene for True Blood. This is the final season of the series and I think viewers will love what Moyer considers his dream scene with Alex Skarsgard.

Do you have your own twisted fantasy about what you hope to happen?Alex (Skarsgard) and I have been pushing for an Eric-Bill love scene for a long time, but they always said no. But our dream would be for my football team, West Ham United, to play his Swedish team, and would end up in some match-up that Bill and Eric happen to be able to get to.

I don't know what's so twisted about that. I've been doing private love scenes with men all my life and I don't consider any of them twisted. In fact, considering what some straight people I know do in bed, what I've done is nothing. But that's how the media portrays gays sometimes...twisted...and we've learned to live with it. I'm sure Moyer wasn't thinking along the lines of twisted when he answered the question. If anything, I think Moyer is more in touch with his viewers than his producers. In any event, my DVR will be set all season.

You can read the entire interview here. Moyer sounds like a sweet man. If there is a love scene with Skarsgard and Moyer, I want Moyer to be more submissive.

But knowing Hollywood, they'll probably add Sookie to the scene, which I would imagine would make it a twisted scene.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Release: "Second Chance" Gay Romance .99 E-Book

New Release: "Second Chance" Gay Romance .99 E-Book

Update: Just went live on Amazon, here.

The first book in the "Second Chance" series just went live and I'll post the links I have. It will be available at all venues where e-books are sold eventually. It's hard to pinpoint an Amazon release because the time it takes varies from book to book. But for now it's definitely on Smashwords and

For more information you can read previous posts here, and here, where I've shared the blurb and a fairly long excerpt. I think the most interesting part of writing this book was that it's set for the most part in the year 1950 when life was very different for gay men. There is more innocence, especially with sexual content. And gay men were more guarded in those days, to the point of total denial.

Stay tuned for more new releases coming soon. I have about four books with publishers that haven't been release yet, including one that's over 117,000 words and another that's a Christmas romance from the Glendora Hill series.

Lesbian Rapist; FREE Gay Excerpt: Second Chance

Lesbian Rapist

This is an interesting case because it almost slipped through the cracks, at the expense of a victim who was left psychologically damaged for life. In 2010 a lesbian, Millicent Gaika, was raped because she was a lesbian. The rapist, Andile Ngcoza, claimed he raped her to "show her she was a woman." He not only raped her, but beat, strangled and tortured her for five hours. He was convicted in 2011 but failed to show up in court for sentencing and then vanished for two years. Evidently, they caught him and he was recently sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In final court proceedings this week, prosecutors at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court not only pointed out Ngcoza had three previous sexual attack convictions including sodomy and double rape, but also presented a psychological evaluation on Gaika.

The report revealed the attack left Gaika with nightmares and alcohol abuse issues. She also reportedly nearly killed herself in 2012.

It's a good thing I'm not a judge. He'd be in prison for the rest of his life.

You can read the entire story in detail here.

FREE Gay Excerpt: Second Chance

Here's a free excerpt from my newest indie release, Second Chance, which will be an ongoing series for a while. The theme behind the series deals with gay men getting second chances in life...but only if they want them. It's also about choices, and how we often wonder about them sometimes...and wonder how things might have turned out if we'd made other choices.

Here's the blurb for the first book, a 21,000 word novella that will be priced at .99. The book will be up for sale this weekend, and I'll post links to where it's being sold later today.

In this first novella of the Second Chance series, an older gay man who has lived a closeted life for ninety-two years is presented with choices one last time. Who hasn't wondered how things might have turned out if only they'd made one or two different choices in their lives? Who hasn't contemplated what it would be like for the chance to do things all over again a different way, if only that were possible?

When ninety-two year old Andy Walker shuffles out to his beloved vegetable garden one morning in June, he gets the surprise of his life. He winds up in the last place he could ever imagine, with the man of his dreams telling him there's still time for a second chance and there's still time for him to choose a different path than the one he's already followed...but only if he's willing to take the risk and revisit one of the most pivotal and painful moments of his life. There are no guarantees or promises of happily-ever-after, and no one can make Andy's choices for him. And if he agrees to return to the year 1950 when he was still young and strong and handsome, only he will know whether or not it's possible to alter the course of his entire life thanks to one unusual encounter with a stranger named Chip.


Even though Andy Walker would be turning ninety-three years old in a couple of weeks he wasn't the kind of old man who could sit in a chair and stare out a window all day. In spite of numerous requests to move into one of those assisted living facilities from his only living relative, a seventy year old niece who lived in Chicago and visited two or three times a year, Andy planned to die at the ranch in Montana where he'd lived most of his life.

He still had decent eyesight, his hearing wasn't that bad on a good day, and he only needed a cane on days when his hip really bothered him. He had a cleaning woman twice a week who did laundry, prepared meals, and went over the entire house. And a caretaker who mowed, weeded, white-washed, and handled what Andy didn't feel safe doing anymore. He even drove into town two or three times a week in the same Jeep Cherokee he'd had for over twenty-five years.

Andy wasn't a profound or deeply religious man. The one thing he'd noticed as he'd passed through life was the way he kept losing things that seemed so insignificant when he'd been younger, but continued to grow more important as he'd aged. He'd started out noticing he'd lost a cheap tie clip, or a pair of cuff links, or a page of sheet music he'd once enjoyed playing. Then one day he noticed he was losing his hair at the temples. By the time he noticed he'd lost the tight skin tone on his thighs and everything sagged and creased, he decided to hold on to the things over which he had control for as long as possible.

One of those things was his small vegetable garden next to the barn where Andy and his late wife had once boarded and trained horses. When Andy and Sarah June Walker had purchased the working ranch in western Montana many years earlier thanks to a cash wedding gift from his in-laws, Andy had always found time to plant a small vegetable garden in a long narrow section near the barn he'd surrounded with a white picket fence and chicken wire. The garden became his sanity sometimes. He would go there to forget about all he'd missed in life and all he'd sacrificed to do the right thing. In his case, doing the right thing had been marrying a nice girl he'd gotten into trouble one night when he'd been too drunk to remember what he'd been doing. When the baby that had changed the entire course of his life was delivered still born he was already married and there wasn't much to do but settle into the life he'd chosen.

It wasn't a bad life, not by any means. Although Sarah June never wanted another child, she made a good home, handled a good deal of work at the ranch that would have made most women scowl, and she had a sharp sense of humor that could always make Andy smile. He got her through breast cancer when she was in her forties; she got him through the burst appendix that almost took him at fifty-two years old. They had friends from Sarah June's church with whom they went out to dinner, they had an annual Christmas party each year the first weekend in December, and they took a trip to Florida every winter when things were slow at the ranch.

When Sarah June first suggested they get twin beds because she claimed Andy tossed and turned too much in the middle of the night, Andy just shrugged and agreed. They'd been married fifteen years by then. He'd wanted to suggest it first but didn't know how she'd react. A few years after that, Sarah June claimed it would be best for them to have separate bedrooms altogether because his snoring kept her up late at night. Andy didn't mind this either. He moved into the guest room overlooking the barn that same night and never left.

It would have been a nice, easy life had it not been for the daydreams and the thoughts he often had whenever he saw one of the cowboys on the ranch wearing a tight pair of jeans move his legs a certain way. These thoughts had always been there, unnatural and cutting to the deepest part of his soul. And he'd always forced them out of his mind because he'd always been told they were wrong. And in the same respect, he'd always hired the best looking, most rugged, handsome young men to work at the ranch. Though he never actually admitted any of this aloud to anyone, he couldn't help those strong feelings that stirred deeply in his body as he watched the rough young men lope to and from the barn with their scuffed up cowboy boots. In the summer he had to wear dark glasses a good deal of the time because the young men always removed their shirts on the hottest days, which could be both distracting and dangerous if he was working with machinery.

So Andy found two releases that kept him from acting on these strong urges: one release of a more carnal nature made him feel guilty when he was finished, the second made him feel as if he'd accomplished something worthwhile and created something no one else could. The second release was the garden, where he could turn nothing into something. It changed all the time; each year he planted a different variety of vegetables. And when he was down on his hands and knees digging in the dirt he found it was the only place he could forget all about his attraction toward other men and lose himself in something that was simple and mindless…and yet at the same time as natural as his attraction toward other men.

This particular year, he'd only planted a few tomatoes and peppers. There was only so much a ninety-two year old man could do, even if he was still as thin as he'd been when he was twenty-five. There was only so much he could eat. As it was he knew he'd wind up giving away most of the tomatoes and peppers at the end of the summer to his hired help and friends in town. But he didn't mind because he didn't garden to eat the vegetables. He gardened to grow and nurture and fill a void.

On a Wednesday morning in early June that year, only weeks before his ninety-third birthday, he set his coffee mug in the kitchen sink and headed out to the garden to see if the rains from the night before had done any damage. No one came to the house on Wednesdays. The cleaning woman worked at another house on Wednesdays and the caretaker came on Thursdays to mow and trim. He didn't mind being alone, because no one would be around to remind him to take the damn cane that always seemed to slow him down more than help him move faster. All the people around him seemed to be fixated with him using the cane. Even the niece in Chicago ended her weekly Sunday afternoon phone call with, "And don't forget to use that cane, Uncle."

As he headed out the back door that Wednesday morning, he glanced at the cane leaning against the old Formica countertop that had been there since the 1940's and flipped his middle finger. Then he lifted his head, squared his back, and headed down to the barn on his own two feet, the way he'd been walking around all his life. He'd learned that if he concentrated on his footing and looked down while he walked he didn't stagger and sway as much.

At least he still had his mind after all these years. And he was only going down to the barn to make sure the slope that had been forming from weeks of heavy rain hadn't washed out his freshly planted tomatoes and peppers. He could have waited for the caretaker to do it, but Andy had always found this particular caretaker to be clumsy and reckless and Andy didn't want this guy’s big fat fingers bending or snapping the new plants.

As he rounded the corner of the huge barn that had once held more than forty horses, he grabbed the gate and held it tightly as he opened it so he wouldn't slip in the mud. He wasn't worried about falling and breaking a hip as much as he was worried about falling and breaking a hip and having to listen to everyone tell him it wouldn't have happened if he'd had his cane. So he wound up taking extra precautions that morning.

By the time he reached the small garden with the white picket fence, he walked as if he were doing a slow two-step dance. At first, everything looked okay. Then he glanced to the back end of the small garden and noticed the slope had grown deeper and filled with water to the point where most of the plants on that end wouldn't survive if he didn't do something fast. He turned and made his way back to the barn taking quick short steps through the slippery mud. In the barn, he found a shovel and the cut-off bottom half of an old Clorox bottle he'd once used to spread rock salt in the wintertime.

The shovel helped him walk back to the garden without making him feel as if he'd been reduced to using a cane, and the Clorox bottle would help him scoop out the excess water and give the plants time to dry out. But when he rested the shovel against the white picket fence and leaned forward with the Clorox bottle in his right hand, he lost his balance, fell face forward into the trench filled with water, and then everything around him went blank.


When he opened his eyes again, he found himself standing in the middle of a large mirrored room, with silvery white floors, an open ceiling exposing the brightest blue sky he'd ever seen, and a few puffy clouds that reminded him of snow drifts. When he glanced to his right at one of mirrored walls and realized he was naked, he pressed his palm to his throat and blinked. He wasn't a naked old man either. He saw the nude image of what he had once looked like as a young man in his early thirties. For a moment, he just stood there and stared at his thick dark hair, his lean chest and stomach muscles, and the firm skin tone on his legs.

But when he glanced straight ahead and realized he wasn't alone, he quickly covered his private parts and flung another naked young man a terrified glance. The other naked young man sat shamelessly atop a long white table with ornately carved cabriolet legs and ball and clawed feet swinging his legs back and forth. His expression suggested playful arrogance, as if he were ready to take on a dare. He had dark unruly hair and rough stubble. His features were a combination of rough and tender, with a strong chin and soft eyes. The lines and details on the white table were as delicate and subtle as the lines that followed the naked young man's muscles and curves. Although Andy knew he had never met this young man, he seemed oddly familiar and couldn't quite place him. He reminded Andy of someone he'd known many years earlier, but not exactly.

The young man sent Andy a knowing smile and adjusted his position on the desk. As he spread his legs wider, he said, "There's no need to be embarrassed. We don't wear clothes here. Everyone gets used to it in time." He had a smooth even voice, the voice of a well-trained actor.

"Well I do wear clothes," Andy said. "Can I get a robe or something?"

"It's all relative, man," said the naked man. "You'll get used to it."

Andy kept his palms over his private parts and glanced up and down at the young naked man's strong fuzzy legs. "Who are you and what am I doing here?"

The young man smiled again and reached back with both arms to rest the weight of his upper body on his palms. He seemed as if he wanted to show off his private parts. "Welcome to The Department of Second Chances. You can call me Rory, Andy, and I'll be your guide for as long as you're here."

"My guide?"

"That's right, Andy. I'm your guide."

Andy felt a sting in his chest. Oh, he'd always hoped he wouldn't lose his mind in his old age. And now his worst fear had come true. "How do you know my name?"

"I know everything about you, Andy," Rory said. He seemed cocky now, with his head tilted sideways and one eyebrow higher than the other as if he were about to dare Andy to jump from a bridge.

"Wait a minute," Andy said. "I know you. You're that actor who once played James Dean, the one who was in the movie I just saw the other night on TV." He'd always been bad with names of celebrities, politicians, and film titles. Andy had seen several of this actor's films and he'd found him interesting in that scruffy, slightly messy way that had always attracted him the most. Although the actor was straight, he often played gay roles.

Rory laughed and shook his head. "Not really. I only look like him right now. We try to accommodate new arrivals by giving them guides that resemble people they are either attracted to or feel the most comfortable with. In your case, we decided this would be the best look since you've been so attracted to the young actor. We also know this actor reminds you of someone from your past." He winked this time, as if he knew all of Andy's deepest secrets.

Andy felt a pull in his stomach. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. No one had ever confronted him about his deepest desires for men this way and he didn't know how to react. There was a man from Andy's past and the young actor did remind Andy of him, but Andy had never shared this information with anyone. "I only like the guy's movies, is all. He's very talented. I'm not attracted to other men."

 "Awe c'mon, Andy," Rory said, with the slick voice of a used car salesman. "There's no need to play games with me, buddy. We already know everything there is to know about you. We've been keeping records from the day you were born until the day you died."

"I Died?" Sale

Riverdaleavebooks Sale

I wanted to post about this separately today because sales like these don't happen all that often. And if you're not out pushing and shoving the crowds (like me) in stores this weekend you might be interested in stocking up on a few books at a discounted price. It's also a simple web site to navigate just to check out for future reference. One of the owners is Don Weise who used to be senior editor at Alyson Books, long time LGBT publisher. There's an interesting selection. The link is below.

From my Inbox:

Riverdale, New York – November 27, 2013 – Riverdale Avenue Books, the innovative hybrid publisher will offer 25% off of ebook titles starting at midnight on Black Friday. Shoppers will be able to purchase their holiday gifts and on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Riverdale Avenue Books.

Deals will start after midnight on Black Friday and will last for 24 hours. This offer will apply to books priced over $2.99. Books included in the deal are the Amazon best sellers, In Bed with Gore Vidal and 50 Shades of Gay, and the critically acclaimed Spank Me, Mr. Darcy.

Riverdale Avenue Books publishes ebooks under five imprints: Riverdale Pop, pop culture titles; Riverdale/Magnus Books, a joint venture with award-winning publisher Magnus Books, LGBT titles; Riverdale HSF, a horror, science fiction and fantasy line; Riverdale Truth, an erotic memoir line; and Riverdale Desire, an erotica and erotic romance imprint.

“If you ever wanted to check out our books, this is a great opportunity,” said RAB Publisher Lori Perkins. “And everyone loves a gifted ebook! It’s a great way to give a ’stocking stuffer’ miles away."

About Riverdale Avenue Books
Riverdale Avenue Books publishes e-books and print books under seven imprints: Riverdale Pop, a pop culture imprint; Riverdale/Magnus an award-winning publisher of LGBT titles; RAB HSF, a horror, science fiction and fantasy line; RAB Truth an erotic memoir line; RAB Desire an erotica and erotic romance imprint; and RAB Sports and RAB Gaming featuring sports and gaming titles. Visit us at or call us at 212-279-6418.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Joan Rivers Defends Baldwin; Gay Thanksgiving Throwback

Joan Rivers Defends Baldwin

The only reason I'm posting about either of these two is because it goes along with the next part of this post, and how gay men like Tony and I have had to deal with being gay and living in a world where gay slurs often hit so hard and with such force it can unhinge the very core of someone's psychological well-being. The closeted gay Amish friend I have knows what I'm talking about. The gay teen from Brooklyn whose father is a macho cop and uncle a macho fireman knows what I'm talking about. Any gay man who can pass as straight and who has ever feared being exposed knows what I'm talking about.

You can call me pretty much anything now and I'll live, trust me on that. And that's because I've been called everything there is at one point or another. I might even come after you and enjoy every minute of it. But there are a lot of other gay men who aren't as secure and when they hear a gay slur it stings hard. Harder than most people would expect. Especially when the gay slur is made with vitriol and used with other pejoratives that conjure the worst associations.

I've posted about Alec Baldwin and what's been happening since he made his "alleged" gay slurs, and not for the first time. And today the elderly entertainer, Joan Rivers, came out and supported him with what I can only describe as some kind of quasi Lenny Bruce freedom of speech defense. And in her attempt to disabuse the notions of Baldwin's critics and what happened as a result of Baldwin's public rant she only comes off looking way out of touch with the rest of America at best.

 "Everybody just relax," Rivers noted, before hurling a series of slurs against Italians, African-Americans, Jews and gays, among other groups. "Everybody's something, so why don't we all just calm down?"

I've also posted about Rivers before, too, and how she often treats gay men as if they are pet poodles. I understand that a good deal of her thoughts and even her comedy material is generational and she comes from a time when the only openly gay men were the poor souls who couldn't hide in a closet even if they tried. But the world has changed in the past decade, not all gay men are the same, and many of us don't appreciate being treated as if we are a side show at the circus. At the risk of sounding like an angry gay man, it's time to start giving all gay people the respect other minorities receive and that includes caution with words. It's not that we don't have a sense of humor either. Ellen makes us laugh and she's not hurting anyone.

You can read more about Rivers here.

Gay Thanksgiving Throwback

Tony and I have a great deal for which to be thankful and we don't take anything for granted. We've been through life and death situations and survived, we've been through opening businesses that were risky and did well, and we've been through living as a couple when gay marriage was still just a concept. For the past five years or so we've hosted a big Thanksgiving at our home for both our families. One year we emptied our living room and rented ten large tables and chairs so everyone had a place to sit. It varies from year to year because like all families brothers and sisters go to in-laws, take vacations, or just stay home and do their own thing. This year is smaller, with only twelve people, but the fact that we actually host Thanksgiving still blows me away.

We met in 1992 in December and our first Thanksgiving was in 1993. We went to separate Thanksgiving dinners because that's what was expected of us. We both come from similar family backgrounds and neither of us was out of the closet at that point. In my case my family knew and it wasn't discussed. In Tony's case they had no idea. And for the first fifteen years of our relationship/marriage, that's how we spent Thanksgiving day. For a while we became friendly with an older gay couple who hosted Thanksgiving dinner later at night each year. So Tony would go to his family, I would go to mine, and then we would meet up in separate cars later that night to be with other gay people. At least thanks to these friends we had a chance to spend part of Thanksgiving together. But just imagine for a moment what it would be like if you weren't able to spend major holidays with your spouse for reasons beyond your control. Sure, we could have come out totally and slammed everyone at one time. But for us that's not how things were done. And I know we're not the only ones who lived this way.

But it started to get tired fast. Here we were living as a married couple and we didn't even get a chance to spend holidays together because of the fact that we were gay. I never pushed Tony with the issue about his family because I knew it was a sensitive topic and I didn't want to hurt him. You do those things for people you love and you make sacrifices. All that changed in 2007 when Tony was hospitalized and almost died. I've posted about that before and I'm not getting into it again. But that's when I met Tony's family for the first time, under the worst circumstances imaginable. Thankfully, it turned out to be a good thing and we supported each other through his illness and came out stronger because of that. I think of his family as mine now, and he's the same way with my family. And since then life is much easier for us because of that time. It's also better because we are living in different times and more and more gay people are coming out, getting married, and fighting for equal rights. However, I know there are other gay couples just like us doing the same things we used to do. And when I hear gay slurs, and I hear people defending gay slurs, it reminds me of all the holidays we missed and all the good times we lost when we were younger.

The first home we lived in was a town house about eight miles from where we live right now. But it wasn't New Hope where things are more progressive, and we were smack in the middle of a cookie cutter town house development on a cul-de-sac in suburban Philadelphia, Newtown, PA. We were so busy back then we rarely took much notice of what was happening around us. But one Thanksgiving weekend in 1998 while we were putting up Christmas decorations outside our neighbor's little boy said, "We should put up lights just like the fags next door, dad." The father grabbed the kid and pulled him inside fast. We listed the town house the following week and moved to New Hope six months later so we'd never be placed in that particular degrading situation again.

I know I've told that story before somewhere, but when I heard about Baldwin and now Rivers, I felt like telling it again so people will understand the magnitude of what the word fag means to us.

Alec Baldwin Blames GLAAD; Authors Off the Shelf; 25 Questions Bisexuals Get

Alec Baldwin Blames GLAAD

I know the whole Alec Baldwin thing is getting tired, but according to this article Alec Baldwin blames GLAAD's spokesperson, Rich Ferraro, for ending his short-lived TV show that I think was some kind of talk show. Don't quote me on that.

Taking on the role of victim, Baldwin said this:

... You’ve got the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy — (GLAAD spokesman) Rich Ferraro and (journalist) Andrew Sullivan — they’re out there, they’ve got you,' Baldwin tells Gothamist. 'Rich Ferraro, this is probably one of his greatest triumphs. They killed my show. And I have to take some responsibility for that myself.'

He also claims TMZ had something to do with it.

Ferraro disabused Baldwin's rant once again. He thinks Baldwin should be thinking in a more positive way in the sense that Baldwin should be more focused on educating people about how damaging the word fag, or any gay slur, can be.

You can read more here... My own comment is that I do think we've become a little too politically correct. But in some cases we can't go backward. Gay slurs like fag sting, and they sting hard. And if you're in the public eye, and you're one of the few privileged in a country like the US where wealth is no longer balanced, have the good sense to watch what you say.

Authors Off the Shelf

Authors Off the Shelf is a book pubbed by the owners of where a long list of authors collaborated to create a collection of pieces for charities they strongly believe in. It's sort of an anthology with everything from novelettes to essays. At a glance, I see many names I often see on social media, including a few authors I've read several times. But more important, all proceeds from Authors Off the Shelf will be divided up four ways and distributed to four different charities.

 All 100% of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be going directly to these four charities. None of the authors, Lazy Beagle Entertainment, Rondal or Patrick will receive any profit. (Unfortunately we can’t stop the companies selling the book from receiving a profit when they sell the book.) You may also donate directly to these charities by accessing their websites.

You can read more here. And you'll find links to where you can purchase the book, and the charities are listed with more links. The book is also being sold at most retail web sites I mention here all the time, including I'll be purchasing my copy over the weekend. This is great timing for the Thanksgiving weekend.

25 Questions Bisexuals Get

I've always found bisexuals fascinating. Before I met Tony I always seemed to draw bisexual men to me without even trying to do this. It's not like I actively went out looking for bisexual men. They always seemed to pick me out of the crowd, and one thing I do remember is they weren't shy. Some of the questions below are interesting, and some are dumb. But I would imagine a lot of people are curious about bisexuals, so no question is really that dumb when you think about it.

#19 is amusing:

19) 'Can I watch you have a threesome? No, seriously. Can I watch you have a threesome? Please. I'll pay.' (Georgia Stoke)

The assumption so many people make about bisexuals really being gay but not willing to admit it is something that's always bothered me. What's so hard to understand about being attracted to both sexes? But, in the same respect, the other thing that bothers me about bisexuals is that some of the ones I've met seem to think that because they are bisexual it gives them a free pass to not be monogamous. I'm not saying all, so please don't get the wrong impression. I'm sure there are bisexuals out there who are in monogamous relationships/marriages, with either men or women, and they are living happy healthy lives. But with some of the bisexual men I've met I've found they are usually married to women and they often fool around with men on the side. In some cases they had open marriages and the wives knew all about it. No problem there. But in other cases they weren't in open relationships and everything they did with men was on the down low. In other words, many of the bisexual men I've known seem to think that because they are attracted to both sexes they deserve to have sex with both sexes all they want. Kind of like having that proverbial cake and eating it, too. And that's not how it works for me. If you're a bisexual man and you're either married to a man or a woman, stick with that one husband or wife just like the rest of us.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gay Waitress Scam; Gay Sex in UK; Alec Baldwin Canceled

Gay Waitress Scam

Not too long ago it made headlines when a gay waitress claimed a family left her a vicious note about her lifestyle instead of leaving the poor sweet thing a tip. Unfortunately, the waitress allegedly lied.

On the Gallop Asian Bistro check, there was no tip and a note saying: ‘Sorry, I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and the way you live your life.’

As expected, people thinking the worst sent donations to the alleged liar and she made a small bundle. However, the family who was accused of doing this is fighting back and challenging the allegations she made against them. As well they should.

Two things to remember here: one, gays can lie and scam just like everyone else (I've known a few winners in my time who would rob you blind). Two, don't send money to anyone on the Internet unless you know for certain it's going to a viable cause. There are plenty of legit charities that need donations.

You can read more here.

Gay Sex in UK

This is one of those pieces you read for pure entertainment purposes. And sometimes we all need that.

British women who have had a same-sex experience has quadrupled since the sex survey was done in 1990, jumping from 4% to 16%.

In comparison, the numbers of men who have reported a same-sex experience has remained virtually unchanged since 1990 – around 7%.

These things are so speculative it's impossible to really know, because I would bet bangers to beans most of the gay sex happening in the UK is on the down low just like it is all over the world.

You can read more here.

Alec Baldwin Canceled

First, I honestly can't believe MSNBC would give Alex Baldwin a TV show at all, aside from the gay slurs he recently made. Who is in charge of boosting the ratings over there? It really doesn't make sense, and you have to wonder how out of touch they are with America.

The low-rated Up Late With Alec Baldwin has been canceled in the aftermath of an incident in which an angry Baldwin was caught on video calling a photographer a 'cocksucking fag' because he got too close to his wife and baby.

 'We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC,” Baldwin and the network said in a statement.

You can read more here. And if you're a fan of photo shop check out Baldwin's photo with this article. I'm not sure if that's shadowing or he's sucking a lemon to strike that proverbial pose.

What's "Parkour?" Adopt a Teen; She Wants to Castrate Trans Students

What's "Parkour?"

This is interesting because a young man was recently found dead and they're investigating to see if Parkour played a part in his death. Parkour is a fitness/training activity that started in France and has been gaining world wide attention with teenage men and some women.

From wiki:

Parkour (French pronunciation: ​[paʁˈkuʁ]) (abbreviated PK) is a holistic training discipline (created in France) using movement that developed from obstacle course training.[1][2][3] Practitioners aim to quickly and efficiently overcome obstacles in their environment, using only their bodies and their surroundings to propel themselves; furthermore, they try to maintain as much momentum as is possible in a safe manner. Parkour can include running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and the like, depending on what movement is deemed most suitable for the given situation.

A 24 year old Russian girl died...having a lesson.

Here's a photo feature with young men leaping from rooftop to rooftop, in mid air, as if they can fly.

This link is from the youtube vid, above.

This is an interesting web site with a forum that talks about why people do Parkour.

I heard somewhere that the reason some kids are doing Parkour, in part, is because of films with action scenes where stunt people make dangerous moves and jump from building to building at ridiculous heights. But I couldn't find any information on that anywhere with a simple search. It's scary because now some of kids are doing this unsupervised and without the help of a professional trainer.

There are a lot of people who take this seriously. The most interesting thing is that the people who do this defend it with what they consider logic. They make a few good arguments, too. I think if that's what you want to do, go for it. But the fact remains that humans were not born with wings and if you jump from the top of one tall building to another and you fall you get exactly what you deserve. And I don't think there's an argument for that logic.

Adopt a Teen

I've actually discussed this with Tony on occasion and we've considered doing something like this ourselves. Here's an article that talks about adopting older children who've been through foster care, and it's very interesting for any couple who wants a family, and to offer love and support to a kid who needs it. In this piece they talk about Ruben.

Ruben is an amazing, intelligent, and caring foster youth who, at 17, is on the verge of aging out of the foster system without a family to call his own. He has his sights set on college but, like many foster youth without families, he will be doing so without the loving support of family to help him through him through the ups and downs and welcome him home at the holidays.

These are still formative years for kids. In some cases they can be the most important years because that's the period they transition into adults and without the right guidance it can be hard.

You can read more here. I didn't know November was National Adoption Month. I would have posted more about it if I had.

Ruben looks like a really cool kid, and he's open to gay/lesbian families.

To be honest, I am a pretty open person. I would be okay with gay or lesbian parents because sexual orientation is irrelevant. I'm just looking for caring people.

She Wants to Castrate Trans Students

If I lived in this community I would start a petition asking for the *immediate* resignation of this school board member.

This is what she said:

"I would like to pass out something that shows people what is going on in the rest of the country," Svenson said at the school board meeting. "Massachusetts and California have passed laws relating to calling a student, irrespective of his biological gender, letting him perform as the gender he thinks he is, or she is. I just want to emphasize: not in this district. Not until the plumbing's changed. There would have to be castration in order to pass something like that around here."

Her name is Katherine Svenson. She's afraid that if transgender boys use the girls facilties the girls might get pregnant. I'm not joking about this.

“I don’t have a problem if some boys think they are girls, I’m just saying as long as they can impregnate a woman, they’re not going to go in the girls' locker-room,” she said.

She doesn't realize the transgender boys are more interested in swaping make up tips with the other girls. So I highly doubt keeping transgender boys out of the girls locker room is going to stop teenage pregnancy.

Monday, November 25, 2013

GQ's 25 Least Influential List; James Franco Parody with Seth Rogen

GQ's 25 Least Influential List

Other than wondering about who reads GQ Magazine anymore, or any print magazine for that matter, I couldn't help notice that GQ Magazine's list of the 25 least influential people is interesting. (If you still read print magazines please don't comment with vitriol. I think it's wonderful that you do, but print magazines like newspapers are dwindling fast and it's not my fault.)

First, the most annoying thing is that I can't actually get a comprehensive list of the 25 least influential because it's one of those annoying web sites where you have to click from page to page twenty five times. Ugh!

In any event, some of the names on the list are surprising, some not.

While magazines across the country offer readers their pick of the world’s “most influential people,” this year, GQ magazine is bringing you the “The 25 Least Influential People Alive” — and on the list are MSNBC host Ed Schultz, and, of all people, President Barack Obama. This is the same magazine that oddly, named Obama “Leader of the Year” in 2009 and “Man of the Year” in 2008 while calling Sarah Palin “dangerous” and “poisonous.”

If you care about GQ's list, you can read more here. And here's a link to GQ's actual web site where if you have the time in your life you can click through 25 long, slow pages and sift through ads you don't care about.

Sorry for the snark here. But besides putting President Obama on the list and saying, "nothing gets done," they also added Miley Cyrus for "licking sledge hammers." I thought it might be parody at first, but it seems real. Unfortunately, GQ didn't list themselves for the exploitation of men over the years, promoting fake unrealistic male images, and for being about as relevant as the typewriter in the year 2013.

James Franco Parody with Seth Rogen

Now this, I thought, was funny. When I saw it on social media in several places this afternoon I wanted to share just so I could have it up on the blog and link back to it again in the future. It's a video of James Franco and Seth Rogen making out on a motorcycle.

Today, Seth Rogen released a shot-for-shot remake of Kanye West's now-infamous, Lisa Frank-inspired "Bound 2" music video featuring Kim Kardashian.

According to his Facebook status, Rogen and James Franco made the video "during down time on the set of #TheInterview." It looks like they had a lot of free time on their hands:

You can check it out here. Is it just me or is Rogen extremely attractive in this?

Brooke Warner & Self-Publishing; HarperCollins Takes Back Publishing; Rugby Jocks

Brooke Warner & Self-Publishing

This past week I had a nice e-mail exchange with a new writer whom I met through discussing something blog related. After we finished discussing the blog related issue he mentioned something about self-publishing a book and how he plans to go about doing it. The book sounds fascinating and it's LGBT related. But when I saw what he was looking into with regard to self-publishing I had to send him a few links to show that there are a few questionable things out there and writers...especially new writers...should really do a thorough fact check before handing over large sums of money to self-publish. But there are also some great ways to go about self-publishing with some services, and using a service that provides advice and the creative collaboration most writers need.

It's often hard for me to remain objective about self-publishing because when I did it with my first novel, Chase of a Lifetime, I came to self-publishing with years of experience. I already had over 100 books out with publishers and I had contacts that ranged from cover artists to good copy editors. My partner, Tony, handles all the tech details and distribution. So I knew exactly what I was getting into and I knew how to get a book out thanks to past experience. But when I write posts like this I've learned I have to step back and think like a new writer who is learning all these things for the first time. And when I read this article about Brooke Warner, a writing coach, I thought I'd share for any new writers who might be interested in self-publishing but also need a collaboration.

From Galleycat...

My number one tip for self-pubbed authors is to make sure they have a team. Self-published authors need an editor, a designer, and a marketing and/or publicity person. When it comes to self-publishing, authors shouldn’t go it alone, nor should they try to reinvent the wheel. There are so many good experts out there who will help ensure that you have a beautiful finished product. Don’t try to do it all yourself!

If you have never been published before and you are thinking of self-publishing, it's a good article and you can read more here. As I said, I tend to be a complete control freak with my own self-published books, but I'm not doing it completely alone. I do have a team that I outsource on my own. But I already had the contacts and I knew exactly where to go.

In the same respect, I'm not saying it's impossible to self-pub a quality book all by yourself. One of the self-published non-fic authors I admire most is Joe Mihalic. He's not just another pretty face, far from it. I've posted about him before, here, several times. Joe wrote No More Harvard Debt and he did it all by himself from what I gather. He maintained popular a running blog with the same title you can read here. He even gets into his self-publishing experiences. And he did it alone at a minimal cost. He also wrote and pubbed several damn great books. Other self-pubbed authors have done this, too.

So it's really up to the individual. In some cases, writers like Joe Mihalic can produce a quality book that helps people without the help of an e-publishing service. But not everyone works the same way and there are some people who do need some kind of collaboration. I think what Brooke Warner has to say is interesting and I don't mind linking to her, which I don't do often. Her web site is professional, I didn't see any red flags that would make me wonder, and she seems to be all about the writer. I can also tell you this from experience. Even though I outsource when I self-pub, I still feel the heat when it comes down to the final release. And I often wish I had the same collaboration (I miss it and crave it) with my self-pubbed books that I always have with books I have out with publishers. It gives you piece of mind.

Back to my original point, there are things out there with self-publishing that are questionable, and nice people are getting ripped off all the time. I wouldn't share anything I wouldn't seriously consider myself.

You can read more about Brooke Warner here at her web site.

 HarperCollins Takes Back Publishing

This next piece to which I'm linking talks about Charlie Redmayne, new boss at HarperCollins, who wants to aggressively take back publishing from the pioneers of digital publishing. I think this includes e-publishers and self-pubbed authors.

Now three months after returning to HarperCollins to become its chief executive, Redmayne will deliver a brisk message at an industry conference on Thursday, warning publishers against letting digital rivals steal their role – storytelling.

Publishers have allowed competitors to jump in, he says, whether they are startup companies producing apps or authors publishing their novels on Amazon. Now they "need to take that space back" by producing content for games players, tablet computers and other devices.

It's an interesting article, but it's slanted in some respects. It makes it all sound like these evil self-pubbed authors and start up e-presses we've been seeing in the past ten years have been trying to take over publishing. And that's not the case at all. What's been happening is that writers who would never have had the chance to get published ten or twenty years ago have found a readership and careers through digital publishing. And readers, most of all, have been able to find affordable books when big publishers were sticking it to them with digital book prices that ranged from 9.99 to as high as you want to go. I paid full price for a non-fic autobiography two years ago, $14.99, in digital format. It sucked, the author has a new book out with a large publisher, and I'm not spending that kind of money again.

But more than that, while those in trad publishing with big publishers were still taking summer Friday's off and trying to keep publishing known as the slowest industry in the world, the pioneers of digital publishing have been working seven days a week to produce quality e-books for readers at a fraction of the cost. I price my self-pubbed novels at .99 for readers, and I will continue to do that for as long as I can. My e-publisher prices my full length novels at $4.99 on the web site. I just finished reading and reviewing James Franco's new novel. I paid $5.99 for the digital version. It was published through Amazon. So if HarperCollins wants to "take back" publishing they'd better start looking at more than one issue, including book prices.

You can read more here. In any event, it does sound like Redmayne is going to make a few well needed changes, and it should be interesting to see the results a few years from now. I'm not anti-publisher, not by any means. I'm hoping big publishers do start making changes. But I don't think it should be about taking publishing back. I think it should be more about figuring out why the pioneers of digital publishing have left them shaking their heads in wonder.

Rugby Jocks

It seems as if everyone's making a calendar this year, and with nude young jocks in locker rooms.

Thought Dieux du Stade’s calendar was the be-all, end-all of hot rugby calendars? Then you haven’t seen Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University jocks. These more amateur, less-styled fellas hit the showers, the bar, the lounge, and the streets to bring you their goods. Appreciate them, won’t you?

You can read more here. It's worth the trip. There are photos.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Daniel Radcliffe Full Frontal Nudity; Brent Corrigan Going Mainstream

Daniel Radcliffe Full Frontal Nudity

Daniel Radcliffe acted in the play, Equus, and showed everything he's got, with full frontal scenes. And when the photos were leaked online it stirred up a usual.

The naked pictures of Daniel Radcliffe, taken during his current stint in Broadway play "Equus", have been leaked and Broadway officials are outraged of the leak. The pics, which have been all over the net, show the young actor standing totally naked in front of co-star Anna Camp, who also bares all for the play.

You know, if you're going to take off all your clothes in public shouldn't you be prepared for anything? And if you're known best for playing a character that's familiar with children and you still take off all your clothes in public and show your proverbial magic wand...and being up on stage is about as public as it're either making a bold statement or you're living in a dream world.

You can check out the full frontal photo here.  I think there are more if you do a simple search. It's actually very artistic and Radcliffe has nothing about which to be ashamed. I never saw any of the Harry Potter films or read the books. But if I had known that good old Harry Potter was carrying THAT magic wand around underneath his robe I would have had a front row seat for the midnight opening.

In any event, Radcliffe is now branching out into films with gay love scenes. I think he's straight, but don't quote me on that. It's hard to tell anymore...a good thing.

It’s interesting that it’s deemed shocking. For me, there’s something very strange about that because we see straight sex scenes all the time. We’ve seen gay sex scenes before. I don’t know why a gay sex scene should be any more shocking than a straight sex scene.

Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg (beat generation poet) in Kill Your Darlings. I haven't seen it, but this one sounds interesting. You can read more about it here, where there are more links.

Brent Corrigan Going Mainstream

When I posted about porn star,Brent Corrigan, last week and how he's working on a more mainstream film, Truth, a friend commented to me that porn stars rarely ever go mainstream successfully. Being I don't know much about that, I decided to check it out with a few simple searches to see what I could find. There are a few female porn stars who have managed to crossover into the mainstream, like this list of nine shows. And this article talks about porn star James Deen going mainstream in a film with Lindsay Lohan, The Canyons. But other than that I couldn't find much else with a simple search, and to be truthful if I hadn't read the short piece about James Deen and The Canyons I never would have heard of it in the first place...or heard of James Deen.

I found this rather light article interesting because of the tone:

Hollywood is all about dreaming of upward mobility. Slip a script under a stall door, hand out a few business cards at a funeral and you could be writing Transformers IV! And despite what you might think, there’s no rule saying porn stars can’t work their way up the mainstream-movie ladder. In 2009, they popped up all over the box office — from Sasha Grey’s high-brow turn in Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience to a whole plethora of adult entertainers filling out the cast of Crank: High Voltage. Who’s done it best over the years?

The article then goes on to list a lot of the same names that are listed in the links above I just provided. But I do find it interesting that even though these ten or so people who come from the adult entertainment industry barely made it to C-list status. And again, most are women, not men...or gay men. And I can't help but wonder how Brent Corrigan's venture with Truth is going to turn out. It's one thing to come from Harry Potter and do nude scenes and gay love scenes like Daniel Radcliffe. Actors get a free pass for that. But you're not going to hear about a gay porn star doing anything even remotely related to the kids genre.

The other thing I don't understand completely is that there's been a huge increase in demand for gay fiction that's more romance oriented...or lighter and more mainstream in a heteronormative way. But Truth is being described as an indie psychological thriller, which is something I see a lot lately with gay indie films. In fact, I've seen this dark brand of gay film all my life, as if anything indie has to be labeled as dark and mysterious and deeply psychological to be indie. I haven't seen Truth, and I'm not sure I will (depends on how it's released), so I can't comment on it. It's just that I find it interesting that with so many people discovering romantic stories with gay men that have HEA endings and give people the chance to escape it's hard to justify the old tropes that never seem to go away. And I'm not talking about personal taste. I'm talking about giving people what they want, and giving them a balance.

You can read more here, and check out a clip of Truth. From what I gather, a good deal of the film was funded with, which is a lot like kickstarter.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Leno's Bestiality Jokes; Alec Baldwin's Daughter Defends Him

Leno's Bestiality Jokes

It seems online retail web sites where e-books are sold aren't the only ones in a huff over bestiality. A particularly litigious flight attendant who claims that false accusations alleging she transports her pet rats in her panties is now suing Leno for jokes he and other comedians made about it. Evidently, she's claiming the jokes were sickening and disgusting.

A copy of the suit, obtained by Courthouse News, takes specific issue with humorous statements made on Leno's show that accuse her of "engaging in bestiality and sexual misconduct with a rat."
The jokes, made by three comedians who appeared as guests on the show, are as follows:

According to this article, the flight attendant claims the jokes have ruined her sex life. You can read more here.

Be interesting to see how this turns out. I know it's funny at a glance, but I don't think I'd want someone suggesting I was having sex with rats, in front of millions of people. Leno has such a huge following that it's been said he can change someone's life and career overnight. And that works in many different ways.

Alec Baldwin's Daughter Defends Him

This is less compelling because it's exactly what you would expect someone's son or daughter to do in a situation like this. It's not as if Ireland Baldwin is going to tweet the exact opposite.

For someone who has battled with anger management issues, my dad has grown tremendously. My dad is far from a homophobe or a racist. From what you've read and from what media has been shoved down your throats, he has a kind heart. Having paparazzi following my mom and I has not been thrilling. Paparazzi can bring out many confined feelings of anger and spite out of anyone," she wrote.

This is really the first time I've ever seen someone with a kind heart shout any pejoratives in public at anyone. People with kind hearts usually know it's much smarter to move on, especially those who are as privileged as Alec Baldwin. Kind- hearted people speak rationally and don't make threats that may or may not include gay slurs...or slurs against any minority. Kind-hearted people don't let these things get to them, especially if they know what to expect from past experience with the paparazzi. And even if you're going to go after the paparazzi I think it's okay to tell them to go fuck themselves without calling them fags. No one would mind. When you have the kind of privilege Baldwin has there are certain things that come with the territory. And if you don't like it you can always back away. It's not that hard to disappear from the public eye these days.

But I guess kind-hearted Alex Baldwin should get a pass on this. Because he's so kind-hearted, you know.

Cover Preview Second Chance; Nude Gay Rugby Players

Cover Preview Second Chance

I've been going back and forth with the cover artist I use for indie books and this is what we came up with as a tentative cover for a new series I'm working on titled Second Chance. It still hasn't been finalized, but I'm fairly certain this will be as close to the final as it gets. Although I have several full length books (four, I think, including a Christmas novel) with publishers coming out soon, I've been working on this series in my spare time because I haven't had a self-pubbed release in a couple of months. And I wanted to do a series this time that focuses on the fantasy of second chances and getting the opportunity to do things over again...if that's what someone wants to do. The choice is always there. But whether or not the characters will change the course of their lives and take the second chance remains to be seen.

Here's the blurb for the first book in the series. It's a 20,000 word novella that will be priced at .99 and released in digital only format. I'm hoping for a release date in early December, which I'll post about very soon.

In this first novella of the Second Chance series, an older gay man who has lived a closeted life for ninety-two years is presented with choices one last time. Who hasn't wondered how things might have turned out if only they'd made one or two different choices in their lives? Who hasn't contemplated what it would be like for the chance to do things all over again a different way, if only that were possible?

When ninety-two year old Andy Walker shuffles out to his beloved vegetable garden one morning in June, he gets the surprise of his life. He winds up in the last place he could ever imagine, with the man of his dreams telling him there's still time for a second chance and there's still time for him to choose a different path than the one he's already followed...but only if he's willing to take the risk and revisit one of the most pivotal and painful moments of his life. There are no guarantees or promises of happily-ever-after, and no one can make Andy's choices for him. But if he agrees to return to the year 1950 when he was still young and strong and handsome, only he will know whether or not it's possible to alter the course of his entire life thanks to one unusual encounter with a stranger named Chip.
Nude Gay Rugby Players
Gay Rugby Club, The Nashville Grizzlies, have released their annual calendar. What I like most about things like this is that the men are real, not exaggerated models like so many of the irritating photos I see on social media all the time. I think there's a balance between a lot of these over-produced photos of nude or shirtless muscle gods and genuinely good looking real men, with good bodies, and real faces. Maybe I'm jaded and I've seen too many naked men in my lifetime, but the way people drool over some of these social media photos makes me really wonder. I even tried to find a more normal looking model for the cover above, after rejecting a long list of photos with men who had bodies I thought looked way over the top.
But these rugby guys in the calendar are adorable:  
The annual calendar is always a fun event for our team," Mark Pilkington, Vice President of the Nashville Grizzlies, told The Huffington Post. "This year's calendar allows many of our guys to incorporate the sport of rugby into some very artistic photos. The proceeds from the calendar will help us toward our goal of sending as many guys as possible to Sydney for the Bingham Cup. The Bingham Cup is an experience like no other and to be able to play rugby and fellowship with teams from around the world is something we are all looking forward to."
You can read more here, where you can view the players and there's a link to where you can purchase the calendar. And it's a good charity. I didn't know about the Bingham Cup or about the event honoring Mark Bingham, a gay man who was one of the heroes on flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Actors Anonymous by James Franco

Review: Actors Anonymous by James Franco

I finished this novel last night and figured I'd better post a review while it's still fresh in my mind. And that's because in many ways it reminds me of a graduate course I took senior year in college called Communications and Literature. I was supposed to take this lame senior seminar as a requirement, but with a little foot work and a really cool advisor in the fine arts department who had some national fame at the time (and signed anything I asked him to sign because he knew how hard I worked in his sculpture classes) I figured out a way to bypass the senior seminar and take a graduate course that focused on literature, interpretation, and communications.

The course was so intense the professor admitted on the first day he didn't get it either, especially the semiotics and semantics. And the reason I'm even mentioning this now is because while I was reading Actors Anonymous I felt as if I'd been transported back to that graduate course all over again. Actors Anonymous, like the graduate course, is the kind of book that needs to be absorbed a certain way, and parsed with an articulate eye. So far, in reading most of the mainstream so-called professional reviews I haven't seen anyone do that with Actors Anonymous. I'm not talking about Amazon reviews now. I highly respect all customer reviews and everyone has an opinion I respect. I'm only talking about people who get paid to write reviews for mainstream publications, and who should know better. Unfortunately, I guess they didn't take any grad courses in communications and literature.

One aspect of communications and literature I learned about in the grad course I mentioned above is that we tend to interpret literature differently at various times in our lives. In other words, I might feel completely different about Actors Anonymous ten years from now if I reread it again in the future. If you don't believe me, revisit a novel you read ten years ago and see if you feel the same way about it. As our lives and circumstances change through the years, we often tend to interpret the books we read in different ways. For me, at this point in my life, I think I appreciated Actors Anonymous as much as I did because as a career fiction writer I understood what was written on the page, and also what was written between the lines of the pages. I probably wouldn't have felt this way ten years ago.

Due to the fact that Actors Anonymous is so abstract at times I can't get into a full plot description because the novel doesn't really follow the normal course of novel writing. I have no doubt it's fiction for the most part. And yet it's not an anthology, and I should know because I've been in far more anthologies than I can even count at this point. What I thought it did was follow a theme that revolves around acting, the deep need to act almost to the point of addiction, and all the traps that accompany fame and fortune if an actor is successful. And it's done in a current (and simple) way that I think is about as real as any novel I've ever read before. If there were a genre labeled "Reality Fiction," this would be a perfect fit. There's no proverbial sugar-coating deal going on here, and in the same respect it wasn't too over the top in a way I might have questioned.

The book does bounce at times from chapter to chapter, which I thought added more abstract appeal. There's a chapter with texts discussing a realtor who boasts about things like her glorious adventures to her deep desire for what I thought was supposed to be interpreted as affection. I could be wrong about that, but it was an interesting chapter anyway. And it's really the way a reader interprets the chapter that matters most. And then there are chapters like McDonalds I and McDonalds II where an unusual guy who seems to drift with the breeze tries to pull his life together by working in fast food and making a few extra bucks on the side by performing sexual favors for some poor unfortunate who's not going to get laid any other way. In fact, throughout the novel I found many well written sex scenes. But they aren't sex scenes that are designed to stimulate the reader in a sexual way. Most are raw, they devolve into the darker side of life most struggling artists experience at one point or another, and they often left me wanting to shower (or rinse my mouth with peroxide). However, the fact that they had this brand of clarity only made the novel more intense for me and the overall reading experience.

If I had begun a book like this and found the writing overdone or poorly executed I probably wouldn't have finished. Thankfully, none of the characters "barked," in the dialogue tags and no one's "feet climbed up the stairs." However, the word economy, the exact way each sentence flows into another, and the structure of the narrative kept me turning each page into the early hours of the several mornings. I would love to have seen the original manuscript without revises just to compare it with the final book. It's been so well edited and made so tight I couldn't find one single flaw with the writing. Even the sex scenes worked, and scenes like this in other novels I've read tend to be over-written many times. But not once during a single sex scene did I read a sentence like, "He brought her off." This might sound like a minor detail to many people. But if you read a lot and you know the difference, it's a huge thing for others.

Whether or not this novel was written to be sarcastic at times could be anyone's guess. I did detect a hint of snark and WTF-ery in an amusing way (Perez Hilton: smile), but it's not the first time I've seen that in fiction of this nature and I'm sure it won't be the last. The voice in a general sense kept me reading, even during a few of the bumpy sections where I had to go back and figure out what had happened. For me, that was fun. I have eclectic taste and I like reading abstract works that challenge the norm every once in a while just as much as I sometimes like reading Debbie Macomber. I've already recommended Actors Anonymous to people I think will like it as much as I did (or get something out of it), and I've cautioned a few who I know would expect something else. As a writer, the one biggest fear I've always had was getting nothing but three star mediocre reviews. Because the books that get the most balanced reviews between one star and five always seem to be the most challenging to the reader. They touched a nerve, they made someone think, and whether they pissed someone off or thrilled someone else, the extreme is always what matters most in the end in fiction.

My suggestion to anyone vetting this book for purchase would be to check out all the reviews and read the samples. My warning would be to beware of  all the so-called professional mainstream reviews that talk more about the author and the author's fame than the actual contents of the book.

I purchased the book in digital format on Amazon for 5.99.

Side note: I think you can retrieve your iTunes if your drive crashes. (It's in the book.)

June Trial PA Gay Marriage; The Men of Purdue

June Trial PA Gay Marriage

US District Judge, John E. Jones, set June 2014 as the date for a trial challenging the ban on same sex marriage in Pennsylvania. That will be one year since SCOTUS made the historic ruling on same sex marriage and that means one more year for LGBT couples in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be denied the same equal rights that LGBT couples in surrounding states like New York and New Jersey receive.

Jones said he would set a specific date and a timetable for pretrial discovery and depositions soon. He rejected as unnecessary a defense request to delay the trial until August.

One year.

You can read more here.

The Men of Purdue

The only thing I know about Purdue University is that my mom almost went there. She opted for a college in New Jersey instead. In the 1950's it wasn't as common as it is now for a woman to go to college and her mom and dad wanted her to be a secretary and get married. She wanted to be a psychologist, so she settled for her second choice.

In any event, here's a link that will lead you to the men of Purdue's gymnastics team, with photos and a video. It's very interesting to see them twist and turn and make it look so simple. There's also more info about LGBT issues here, too.

The Purdue University Senate has approved a resolution opposing Indiana's proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

I posted about the Republican Mayor of Indianapolis opposing this last week.

IKEA Bows to Russia; Obama Signs HOPE; FREE Gay Excerpt

IKEA Bows to Russia

Swedish furniture company, IKEA, had an article with a lesbian theme in their customer magazine. Because of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law IKEA pulled the article from their Russian customer magazine because they want to remain neutral. The interesting thing is that IKEA has always targeted the gay dollar. I know they call it being "gay-friendly," which I always find amusing, but IKEA's bottom line rests on money and getting everyone they can to spend money at IKEA.

The chair of Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) Ulrika Westerlund felt IKEA could have achieved more by standing their ground against potential penalization from Russia.

She said in a statement: 'I find it disappointing that Ikea has simply laid down flat. 'No one is really sure what "propaganda" is and if IKEA had left the article in, that could have served as a test case.'

Russian government officials maintain the new law is not anti-gay, as it only prohibits ‘homosexual propaganda’ to minors and not same-sex activity.

What bothers me most is that I've seen so many weak excuses about how important it is to follow the law. But we're not talking about following laws that are fair and just. We're talking about laws that violate human rights and an entire segment of the world's population.

You can read more here.

Obama Signs HOPE

I didn't know it wasn't possible for one person who is HIV+ to receive an organ from another who is also HIV+.

'Improving care for people living with HIV is critical to fighting the epidemic, and it’s a key goal of my National HIV/AIDS Strategy,' Obama said in a statement. 'The HOPE Act marks an important step in the right direction, and I thank Congress for their action.

You can read more here. This is something that won't be mentioned in mainstream news because there are so many other things happening in Washington right now. But Obama continues to do these things without getting much recognition, and he continues to support equal rights. I'm not very political and I'm not a huge supporter of any politician, but I think he'll go down on the right side of history. I just hope he gets that healthcare web site figured out.

FREE Gay Excerpt

This excerpt is from a more recent novella I published on my own titled, Internal Desires. This was also one of the few books I've had banned, and not because of content. Because of one or two words in the blurb that got caught in the crossfire of censorship and search engines. In this case, I get into the concept of rape culture. I don't, and never have, glorified rape in the story...or any story. But I do mention rape culture from an academic POV and the search engines banned me for those words. So I've been wanting to post this excerpt for a while to show what I'm talking about. Readers can be the judges in this case.

This is a raw excerpt before final edits. Please take into consideration the final book has been well edited and I'm only posting this here because it's easier to copy and paste from Word than a PDF file on google blogger. The book is on sale here for .99. It's also at and other outlets where e-books are sold. It's a gender-bending story where a young gay man who is not a transgender but likes a little feminine kink finds out how women are often treated by straight men.

He laughed and waved at the money. "Don't worry about it, babe. This one's on me. It's not every day I get to wait on a sweet little thing like you. You doing anything later tonight."

Although I wanted him to think I was a real woman, I didn't know how to respond. "Well, I'm kind of busy. I'm meeting my boyfriend. But thanks anyway." Then I tried to give him the money again.

This time he took my hand very gently and pushed it back into the car. He refused to take the money. "No problem. This one is still on me." He stood up, tapped the hood twice, and said, "You have a good night, and stop back any time you want with those pretty legs. I work here every night of the week."

His aggressive approach made me swallow hard and gulp. I knew I’d made a mistake and I shouldn’t have been sitting there with my legs open, but in the same respect I hadn’t given him any verbal signals to show I was interested in him. I glanced into his eyes, smiled, and said, "You have a good night, too." Then I hit the gas and got out of there as fast as I could. I had a feeling he wanted to reach into the car and put his big greasy hand up my skirt.

As I pulled away, I heard him whistle and say, "Damn, bitches. Now that's what I'm talking about."

When I was back on the main road, my heart stopped racing and I felt more secure about going to the country western bar. It would be dark in the bar and so crowded I could blend in. And if I could pass that way all alone under the bright lights of a gas station, I knew I could pass anywhere. My only regret was that I hadn't asked that horny guy to fill up my tank. If I'd known he wouldn't charge me I would have kept my legs open longer. At the time, the full impact of his abusive gestures and comments had not registered with me. I wondered if this sort of thing happened often to good looking women in short skirts, because nothing like that had ever happened to me as a dude in jeans.

About twenty minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot of a western bar called, Cowboy's Delight, and parked in a dark section in the back. Before I climbed out, I glanced into the rearview mirror and put on more pink frosted lip gloss. I checked my hair and made sure my breasts were even. I hadn't worn a lot of make-up that night. I didn't want to look like a drag queen or a hooker. And with the spray tan on my face I didn't even need foundation or powder. All I needed was lip gloss, a little blush, eye-liner, and mascara. I'd added a little white frosted eye shadow for effect, but only enough to make my brow bones glimmer. I didn't overdo anything. I wanted to look as natural as any other young woman in her early twenties.

When I climbed out of the car, I smoothed out my skirt and headed to the entrance of Cowboy's Delight. I could hear the twang of a familiar country song coming from inside, and the muffled sounds of people talking over each other. This wasn't one of those nightclubs where they charged a cover, and I walked in through the entrance behind two other young women as if we were all together. Most of the people were busy talking and they didn't notice me, and the bar was dark once I was inside. I continued to follow the two women past groups of men and women of all ages until the women decided to turn to the right. When they turned, I went to the left and found an empty barstool in front of a long bar that was set off to the side of the main action. You could see the dance floor from there, but everyone at that bar seemed to be observing more than participating.

When I sat down on the barstool, this time I crossed my legs and made a mental note to keep my knees together. The bartender walked over and asked me what I wanted and I ordered a beer. I would have killed for a dirty martini, but I didn't want to drink anything too strong. The thought of getting stopped by a cop on the way home for drunken driving sent a chill up my spine. I couldn't even imagine the excuse I would have to conjure up if something like that happened. I would have to move out of town and never return. I could see the expression of shock on the face of Chief Ludlow, my dad's best friend, when he discovered that I really wasn't a woman.

After the first half hour, I felt more relaxed. The people around me continued on with their conversations, the bartender served his drinks, and the music continued to play. I didn’t mind being an observer and I had no ulterior motives. I saw a few good-looking girls in shorter, sexier skirts than mine and they were getting more attention than me. But I soon discovered I wasn't invisible. A nice looking guy in his thirties walked up to me and put his hand on the back of my barstool as if he were claiming his territory. He seemed nervous; he spoke with a slight stutter. "You wouldn't want to dance, would you?" he asked.

I didn't really want to dance, but I felt so bad for him I nodded and said, "Yes, I'd love to dance." They were playing a new song that had recently been released by Kenny Chesney. I liked the song, and I'd never actually danced with a guy before. I also would have felt terrible if I'd turned this poor guy down. He seemed so nice and kind, as if he'd mustered up every ounce of courage he had to ask me to dance. Up until then my experience with men in this regard had always been with polite, cautious gay men on the down low. I had no idea what I was in for with straight men. Let's just say I gained a whole new sense of respect for straight women that night.

He helped me off the barstool and set his palm on the small of my back. It felt awkward at first, but I remained expressionless and let him make all the moves. He guided me to the dance floor and reached for my hand. He gently pulled me to the dance floor, and then he reached down and held my waist. I glanced around quickly and noticed the way everyone else was dancing. This was one of those slow songs and people were just standing in one place rocking back and forth. I lifted my arms like the woman beside me who was dancing with a guy and rested my hands behind my dance partner's neck just like her. Then I rested my head against his chest just like her and we started rocking back and forth like everyone else. It felt unusual to be in his arms and I had a feeling I didn't have much control anymore. I liked the way he smelled of aftershave, though. He had a trimmed, but slightly scruffy, beard and he reminded me of the actor, John Cusack. He was by no means male model material, but definitely a nice-looking guy in a sexy, masculine way.

We danced for a while in silence, and then he pulled me closer and said, "You're very pretty. I'm Mickey." His hands went lower and he rubbed the top of my buttocks in what I thought was a harmless way at first.

I ran the long pink fingernails across the back of his neck slowly and said, "I'm Randy." I figured it's a unisex name, and I wasn't going to give him my last name. I'd never seen him before, and I doubted I'd see him again after that night.

"You're a great dancer, Randy," he said. "You're very easy to move around. You've got great legs, too. You’re so damn hot." His hands went lower and he patted my bottom a few times in a more aggressive way.

I didn’t know how to respond to him. And I didn’t scratch the back of his neck with my fingernails that time to encourage him. But I didn’t want to piss him off either, so I smiled and said, “That’s because you’re such a great dancer yourself, Mickey.” I figured if I was nice to him he would be nice to me.

But his hands only went lower and he continued to pat and rub my bottom without asking for permission. “I’ll bet you’re great in the sack.”

“I like this song,” I said. I wanted to change the subject and I wanted to stop dancing. As far as I knew the only thing I’d done to encourage him was touch his neck with my fingernails. I didn’t think that was an aggressive gesture.

He grabbed me harder and the back of my skirt went up a little. “You smell so pretty and soft.”

When the song ended, they started to play something faster. Mickey patted the small of my back and said, "Let's go back to the bar and sit down. I don’t feel like dancing fast." I noticed he'd stopped stuttering and he seemed less timid now.

I nodded yes and removed my arms from his shoulders, relieved to get off the dance floor. He took my hand and I followed him back to the barstool where he'd found me. There were all kinds of images running through my head by then. He thought I was a real woman and I knew this could get dangerous. He kept looking at my chest, my legs, and my lips as if he wanted to rip off my clothes and throw me down on the floor. I decided to be more aggressive myself, and to keep it as casual as possible at the same time. I figured that because I was pretending to be a woman, and he thought I was a woman, this would be simple enough to do. But boy did I get the surprise of my life.

When we reached the bar and I lifted my leg to climb up on the stool, he put his hand up my skirt and grabbed my ass without any warning whatsoever. This time it wasn't in a playful way. I had a feeling he meant business. And when he realized I wasn't wearing panties and I was only wearing a thong, he squeezed harder and said, "That's hot, baby. No panties. I had a feeling you were a very dirty girl when I saw the way you were dressed." He emphasized the word dirty.

I froze for a moment, and he continued to grope me. I wondered what had happened to that nice shy man who had been stuttering. I finally reached for his hand, pulled it out of my skirt, and sat down. In a playful way, I smacked his arm and said, "You be a good boy. I'm wearing a thong."

He smiled and moved closer. He lowered his hand and grabbed my thigh. "Open those pretty legs for me. No one can see us. I know what girls like you want." His hand started to slide up between my legs.

I removed his hand from my leg and smiled again. I wanted to keep this friendly. "I said be a good boy. I don't even know you, Mickey."

He ignored me and grabbed my leg again. His hand moved up, only inches from my penis…or what he thought was my vagina. "Let's go outside. My truck isn't far."

"I think I have to go to the bathroom," I said. "I'll be right back." It was the first excuse that popped into my head.

"I'll come with you," He said. "We can go to my truck after that and you can sit on my lap. I'd like to see that pretty thong up close."

I took a deep breath and exhaled. "Mickey, you seem like a nice guy, but I'm really not interested in anything more than dancing tonight." I figured I would be honest; he would be okay with this and he would appreciate my honesty.

He squeezed me leg harder and said, "I know what girls like you want. Don't play innocent with me."

I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I didn't know how to handle him. No gay guy had ever treated me this way. I couldn't be too aggressive because he would find out about me and that would have been disastrous. So I pushed him away gently and said, "I think I'm going to go home now." I stuttered a little then.

"I've got something nice to show you," he said. He refused to let me get up. "You know you want it. It's nice and big. You wouldn't be dressed that way if you didn't want guys coming on to you. Let's stop playing games, sweetie."

What an asshole. The things he tried to do to me that night reminded me of a sociology elective I'd taken in community college that had focused on rape culture, where they blame the victim instead of the asshole douchebag who objectifies her. If I'd been a real woman I would have kicked him in the balls and started to scream. If I'd been in a gay bar and he'd been a gay man I would have hit him in the jaw. But I couldn't take that chance dressed as a woman with all those people around me, so I continued to be nice and hope I could get through to him. "I'm really not playing games," I said. "You seem like a nice guy, but I just want to sit here alone for a while. Thanks for the dance, seriously."

"I know what a girl like you wants," Mickey said.

"What do you mean, a girl like me?" I asked. “I didn’t say or do anything to lead you on.” My faced started to grow warm. I had a feeling he was about to cross the invisible line and I would have to do something to stop him.

As Mickey leaned forward this time, his hand went down between my legs again and someone behind him grabbed his arm. A deep voice said, "She's not a girl. She's a young woman. And she is trying to be nice you, buddy. Can't you take a fucking hint? She's not interested in you, dude. Now get lost."