Month: October 2011

Insight Into Gay Men…

This might sound like a social media post in the beginning. But it’s not. It’s more like an experience of sorts I went through with a “friend” I made on facebook. As always, no names mentioned to protect the innocent. I also know these things happen in the straight community all the time on social networks and it’s not exclusive to just gay men. But I have experienced this before, and not on social networks, and I think the motivation with regard to gay men is different. What I’m going to tell you has happened several times to me long before social networks ever became popular. And it’s always been because the gay man was hiding something…in most cases their identities…and it was always based on fear and anxiety.

Sometime last summer I “friended” someone on facebook who lived near me. He’d actually just moved to town. The person in question is a gay male, probably close to thirty years old, and seemed to have solid, honest credentials. You never know with social media. My gut feeling is that facebook and many forms of social media rely on either anonymity or faslehoods to keep going. (Which is also why I wonder how long social media will last, being that it’s based on so much deception…but that’s another post and I could be totally wrong.)Though I don’t give out what I consider too much information, what you see on my facebook page is authentic. But I would estimate about 75% of what I see on facebook is not authentic. And, there’s nothing wrong with that. Social media lends itself to this form of deception just by the very nature of what its all based upon. Also, some people do social networks for fun, and they fudge the truth a little. There’s nothing wrong with that either.

But that’s another post, too. This time I only want to concentrate on the alleged “friend” I met on facebook. First, and I want to emphasize this, we’re talking just a “friend.” I do not, and would not, look for sex on social media. It’s way too creepy for me, not to mention dangerous. I know some people do it and they have a blast. I say good for them. But it’s not for me.

It’s no secret that I’m usually very busy. I barely have time for a social life with work demands and family demands. I live in a small town with a large LGBTQ community where I’ve had the same friends, gay and straight, for twenty years, which also keeps me busy. So I wasn’t rushing to make dinner plans with someone from facebook. Most of my friends and family don’t even like or care about facebook. But getting to know this new “friend” on facebook was nice in the sense that it was new. We hit it off well, had many things in common, and, like I said, this guy seemed authentic. Then, the few times we arranged to do dinner he backed out, which didn’t bother me at all. I figured we’d just meet sooner or later and I didn’t give it a second thought. I also figured he wasn’t taking social networks all that seriously either and he might have had his doubts about me, too. Perfectly normal.

After months of communicating almost daily on facebook, something interesting happened. I received an e-mail that said I’d been tagged in a FB photo by a virtual stranger. I knew the photo I’d been allegedly tagged in was from a facebook “friend” of the guy I’d become friendly with. This time it was a woman “friend” of his. She seemed nice enough from what I saw on facebook. I didn’t give it a second thought…at least not until I went to the facebook page and checked out the photo I’d been tagged in. And, keep this in mind, I don’t know how to tag on facebook. I know the bare basics about posting updates and photos. But tagging isn’t something I’ve bothered to learn. And when I open an e-mail where I’ve been tagged in something I’m honestly not sure what it’s all about.

While I was checking the photo out, I read the names of the people in the photo. They were all strangers and I wasn’t in the photo, which didn’t surprise me. I don’t post personal friend or family photos online anywhere. I have one of two authentic photos of me out in cyber space and that’s enough. But there was my new facebook friend, in this “tagged” photo, with a completely different name. My first reaction was this had to be a mistake. So I did a little cross referencing and checked a few more photos of him…I’m a writer who majored in journalism and I know how to dig for information…and found this friend of mine was using two different names, two different facebook profiles, and basically two different identities. At least this is how is appeared to me. There were too many photos with various names to make it coincidental.

So I thought about it and then e-mailed him. I didn’t want to be rude about it, but I thought we’d at least established a friendship to the point where we trusted each other. (Actually, I was joking about it in the e-mail I sent because I wanted him to know that if he was protecting his identity he had nothing to worry about with me. The last thing I’d ever do it out someone.) Basically, I asked him what was up with the name “thing.” And I did this with a friendly tone, to make a point of showing him it was okay if he wanted to use different names. I didn’t care, but I was curious. And, to a certain degree, being completely honest now, I felt duped. I’d been honest with him. I hadn’t given him false info about me. There’s a lot of info about me on the Internet and I can’t give out false info. I’ve learned it’s much easier to just keep it real and stand behind everything I post or write. This way if I’m ever attacked, which I have been, I have nothing to worry about.

And I did think we had a connection, with potential for a nice friendship outside of social networks. So I was curious as to why this guy felt the need to lie to me…if, in fact, this is what he was doing. I honestly still don’t know for sure. I never received a reply from the original e-mail I sent asking about his various names and profiles on facebook. And I didn’t pursue it any further after that. It’s obviously something he doesn’t want to discuss and I respect his privacy completely. There wasn’t much time or effort invested in the “friendship” and I’m sure we’ll both live happy lives without ever meeting each other.

But this did remind me of an aspect…and insight…into what gay men often do…and to what lengths they will go to protect their identities. My very best friend, who passed away from a massive heart attack at a very young age, never even told his family or friends he was gay. They found out at his funeral…or, rather, it was confirmed at his funeral…they’d suspected for years. So my experience with this facebook “friend” isn’t the first time I’ve run into a gay man using a different identity and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Sometimes it’s so hard to be open and honest about being gay, some men will resort to reinventing themselves entirely. Some have separate identities and maintain them for years. The psychological impact of being gay, for some, is still just as traumatic now as it was twenty or thirty years ago, and not all gay men have reached a point where they are comfortable being themselves and living authentic lives.

This is sad on so many levels it’s hard to write about. It looks like we’ve come so far, and yet I see things like this and I realize there’s still so far to go. And the thing that bothers me the most is that all these gay men who believe they have to have different identities don’t fully understand that no one really cares anymore (at least not in most cases…I know some have valid reasons for not coming out). Like my best friend who died suddenly: his family already knew without him telling them. But the fear and anxiety some gay men have is something they’ve made up in their own heads, and they live with a sense of paranoia and denial when there’s really no need to do it. In many cases, unfortunately, the lies become a way of life and some never change.


Today is release day for A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE.

You can read more about it here.

Or you can do a search on the blog for A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE and read a pre-release review or an excerpt. I’ve written a lot about this novella while I was in the editing process because there are a few historical facts I found interesting.

It’s not based on a true story. It’s fiction. But the setting is based on a real location that I’ve always found interesting…a Confederate cemetery in New Jersey, on Yankee soil, which you can read more about here.

Felecia Roundtree is thirty-seven years old, she’s already lost her husband in battle, and prays each morning her two young sons live to see another day. With her own two hands, she’s turned the front of her property at remote Locust Point, NJ, into a burial ground for unknown Confederate prisoners of war, hoping someone will return a kind gesture to her own loved ones. Then one morning in August, just after she has a vision of her dead husband, three Confederate prisoners of war turn up at her doorstep begging for mercy. One is near death; the other two aren’t much better. Though she’s reluctant at first to help the enemy, she offers them food and shelter, and then eventually begins the romance of her lifetime with a young old Confederate named Calvin. When she learns a deep dark secret about the other two Confederates, she’s not sure what to think. Felecia has no idea she’s even falling in love. Nor does she realize she’s preserving an important part of American History. But she’s true to her promise every step of the way.

New Adult Erotic Romance…Untitled

I’ve been working on a Christmas story, which is something I never do this time of year. But I wanted to do this one for several reasons. One is that I’m truly captivated by the “new adult” genre. Another is because the idea came to me and I decided to get it out “there.”

Here’s the blurb, so far, which is subject to change. I still haven’t come up with a title yet. But I know something will come to me.

The concept of “new adult” interests me partly because so many seem so passionate about it, and partly because so many know-it-all-types within the publishing industry are dismissing it. And “new adult” is over eighteen, which makes for interesting erotic romance. I know I was having plenty of erotic romance between the ages of eighteen and twenty, and I’m sure they are still doing it.

According to this, new adult is:

…they fit in a new, previously-unidentified genre called ‘New Adult’. JJ from St Martin’s Press explains that, ‘New Adult [fiction] is about young adulthood, when you are an adult but have not established your life as one (career, family, what-have-you)’.

Blurb for story:

A young veterinarian in his twenties who works as an ER doc at a 24 hour animal clinic is stranded in a snow storm on Xmas Eve during the midnight shift, when a good looking guy walks in with a basket full of newborn lab puppies and a mother who is near death.

A Civil War Historical About More Than a Man: A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE

Tomorrow A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE, a Civil War historical, is going to be released and I wanted to post a few things about it up front. It’s not what I normally write, and this time I decided not to use a pen name. AYWP is very low on the heat and strong on the emotion. So if you’re looking for a lot of sex, you’re not going to find it in this book.

First, it’s a novella with about 26,000 words. There are sexy scenes, though. And one of those scenes happens in the m/m subplot. Yes, there is a m/m romance subplot. But this novella will be in the m/f category.

The most important thing for me while I was writing this novella was that I wanted to have a strong female character who is just as passionate about her “cause” as she is about her man. There’s nothing wrong with books or stories that only concentrate on women who are passionate about their heros. But I wanted this character, Felecia Roundtree, to be just as interested in the cause she’s been fighting for long before she meets the love of her life.

And I wrote an epilogue this time. I rarely do this. But I think this novella called for it and I wanted to tie up the story so readers didn’t walk away feeling cheated.

Here’s an excerpt from the fist chapter:

FeleciaRoundtree sat on the edge of her bed in
the only white dress she had left since the war had
begun. She’d always preferred white because it
was simple and easy to care for. She should have
been wearing black, but she wasn’t seen often
enough to worry about it. Besides, this dress had
turned mostly pale gray by then anyway, and the
hem was beginning to fray. She’d been meaning
to buy fabric to sew a new dress, but it wasn’t on
the top of her chore list.

It was already after six on a warm, moist
Saturday morning in late August and she hadn’t
even finished dressing yet.
Felecia was thirty-seven years old but looked
more like twenty-seven. Her hair was long and

A Young Widows Promise
strawberry blond and parted dead center; thick
waves fell into points below her shoulders. Each
morning, she haphazardly pulled it back and
pinned it into a chignon, exposing a face so delicate
and pointed and looked so much like a handsome
fox, old friends sometimes called her Foxy.

Before she started her day, she crossed her
legs and hesitated. She rested her chin in the palm
of her hand and sighed. Then she pursed her lips
and gazed through the open window of her second floor
bedroom, beyond the small, quirky cemetery
that covered the entire front of her property. This
was one of those mornings she still had trouble
believing she had a graveyard in front of her house.

She reached for a book on the cherry
nightstand alongside the bed, a small black bible
with faint traces of what had once been gold
lettering embossed on the frayed cover. She didn’t
open it. She just placed her right palm on top and
said a small prayer for her two young sons who
were off fighting somewhere in Virginia.

Sharing a Link on a Stranger’s Facebook Wall…Not

This isn’t a rant. I swear it’s not. It’s more like I’m throwing my hands in the air and wondering why post.

I’ve been getting these “shared links” posted on my wall by writers I don’t know and have never met even in a general sense, like through an e-mail or through a blog comment.

And to me, this is like someone stepping into my home, pulling out my pots and pans, and cooking in my kitchen without permission. It’s a passive aggressive form of intellectual invasion and it’s not something that’s going to help sell a book. When I see these things, I go the my wall and delete the entire post without thinking twice. And I don’t feel bad about this. I have never, not once, even thought about posting links to my books on a stranger’s facebook wall. That takes a certain kind of audacity and makes me wonder on many different levels.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about friends and people I know fairly well. If I know you and we’ve talked and exchanged e-mails even slightly, I’m fine with sharing my wall with your link. But if I don’t know you, and you’ve never taken the time to at least introduce yourself to me with a short e-mail, you’re going to come off as rude and pushy instead of warm and endearing.

And I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have one writer friend who not only removes the shared link, she removes the pushy author from her friend list. I don’t take it that far. But with all the noise out there and so many hawking their books day and night, the most obnoxious and aggressive approach is the least likely book I’m going to buy and read. For those of you who have hired these quasi online PR firms to give you bad advice, I hope you think twice before you do something that’s going to irritate a lot of people before your book has even gotten off the ground.

Don’t Get Sucked In…

I’m posting about con jobs because I’ve seen them happen before and I hate to see people being taken advantage of. There have been people conning other people since the beginning of time and the Internet has only exacerbated this.

Watch out for Internet con jobs, especially those that tug at your heart. These are the worst offenders. There are a few going around and they sound endearing, honest, and reliable. They are asking for money by handing out personal details in private messages or private e-mails that make you stop and think twice. But if it involves money and it’s going around through a social network or through e-mail and you don’t know the situation personally, it’s most likely a con job.

When decent, honest people are working for a charity or running a legitimate fundraiser they post about the cause at hand and state their intentions openly and in public. They have nothing to hide. They don’t do it through furtive e-mails and private messages on social media. This is creepy. This is wrong on so many levels I could write a book about it.

And we all work too hard for our money to let anyone take advantage of us. If you’re an author, no one helped you more than you helped yourself by writing your book and finding a way to get it published. No one was around when you were getting rejected and you found the strength to keep going. Don’t get sucked in.

Christmas In August…

I’m always working about six months ahead of schedule. In other words, I don’t write Christmas stories or novels at Christmastime. I write them in the heat of summer, when it’s hard to even think about Christmas, so readers will have them by the end of November. It’s like this with all holiday themed fiction. And I think most writers do the same thing. But once in a while it’s nice to sit back and enjoy the season we’re in, too.

I love this photo. For some reason, it seems to capture what can be a ticky tacky holiday, like Halloween, and turn it into something mysterious and magical.