Month: February 2012

I Guess I’ve Been Banned, and for No Valid Reason: "Skater Boy"


Before I get into this, I’d like to clarify that I have never written anything with underage characters, bestiality, incest, or any of the other things/topics that have been banned because of the recent PayPal issue. I’ve heard PayPay is not the blame, and I’m not pointing any fingers at them now. But I’ve been banned for no good reason and I’m not happy right now. It’s one thing to be censored for a reason, it’s a completely different issue to be censored for no good reason.

My publisher informed me my story, Skater Boy, has been banned on ARe. And I do, indeed, take offense to having a book banned on ARe or anywhere else…censored…that doesn’t contain anything that’s considered part of the taboo list. The term “Skater Boy” is widely used in the gay male community as a type of guy who wears baggy jeans, funky hats, and tends to be rough around the edges.

But, I assure you, there are no underage characters in this short book. I don’t judge those authors who decide to do things like this, but I’ve never done it and never will do it. In fact, the main character, Jared, the guy referred to as a the Skater Boy, is only a quasi skater boy. He’s in his twenties and is clearly a consenting adult. This is one of the tamer stories I’ve written.

To add to this, the original version of this story was published in an anthology by Cleis Press in a book, get this, titled “Skater Boys.” I didn’t come up with that title. The editor at Cleis did. I just released a newer revised version of my story with Loveyoudivine.com as a digital short story because I didn’t sign an exclusive with Cleis, and I wanted to change the story and see how the story would do on its own. The original title of my story in the anthology was “In This Our Day.” Interesting how they failed to check this out before they banned the book.

What infuriates me more than any form of censorship is when the censorship isn’t even accurate. The only reason why this book is being targeted is because the word “boy” is in the title. It has nothing to do with content or what’s part of the banned list of topics.

Here’s the blurb for Skater Boy, and I defy anyone to find a hint of underage content in this story.

When Bradley Klinger (a consenting adult, not a minor) moves from the city to a small town in the mountains of upstate New York, the last thing he expects to find is a hot young skater boy named Jared who never stops flirting with him. They meet in the small restaurant Jared (Jared owns a restaurant; he’s clearly over the age of twenty-one ) owns, thanks to Jared’s sixty year old partner in New York with whom he shares an open, sexless relationship. Though Jared is kept by the older man in every sense of the word, from his Bentley Continental to his small restaurant in the mountains, Jared doesn’t waste any time getting to know Bradley much better. And though Jared is the kind of young skater boy, in baggy, low-hanging jeans and loose T-shirts, Bradley has always dreamed about, Bradley is concerned the age difference between them might be too vast. (The age difference is between two consenting adults, not an adult and minor) But Jared doesn’t stop pursuing Bradley, to the point where he actually follows Bradley home one night on his skate board.

I’d really like someone to clarify why this book has been banned. I’ve also let my publisher know she can change the title to “Skater” if she wants to. I hate to buckle to that kind of censorship, but if one word is going to hurt the publisher I’d rather concede. And I hope ARe and other retail web sites that sell digital books are paying closer attention to the books they are banning. This is an implication and a reflection on me as an author, and the kind of fiction I write, and I’m not fond of being targeted and placed in a category for no reason at all.

(update: Here’s a direct quote from the book about the character referred to as “skater boy.” “Mt. Saint Hope was a small town; people talked. Over the next week, Bradley heard Jared
was the lucky twenty-one-year-old…”
And, I just learned the Cleis Press book, “Skater Boys,” has not been banned on ARE.)

Release: The Virgin Billionaire’s Little Angel


In this final book in The Virgin Billionaire series, THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE’S LITTLE ANGEL, one of the things I wanted to do most was tie up the storyline in subtle ways with the first book in the series. In fact, I wanted to end the last book with the first line of the first book. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

But I did bring back an integral character that was mentioned in the first book, is mentioned in all the books, and yet never actually appears in any of the books. The character is a woman named Elena. She has a fictional web site in France where she writes about and posts photos of gay men in very tasteful, elegant, and artist ways. It’s no secret now that I loosely based this unseen character on Elisa Rolle, who runs a m/m romance book review blog at livejournal from Italy. At the time, I had no idea this book would become a series. I met Elisa a few years ago in person. She came to my home, we had lunch, and our friendship grew after we met in person.

I also tend to think about the future sometimes. I do believe, without a doubt, what Elisa has been doing with her web site will become part of LGBT history. She will be looked upon as one of the pioneers of LGBT literature and digital publishing one day years from now when I’m long gone. And I wanted to put something wonderful about her in writing because she’s done so many wonderful things for LGBT authors and books.

Here’s an excerpt, without spoilers, from a section of this book where Luis is reading Elena’s web site:

After he walked for about fifteen minutes, he decided to sit down on a park bench and relax. This was something he rarely did in the park. He crossed his legs, swerved to the right, and pulled his phone out of his pocket. He turned the phone on and checked his messages. There was nothing of importance that couldn’t wait until later. Then he went to the website where he wrote guest blog posts, Elena’s Romantic Treasures and Tidbits, to see what Elena’s latest blog post was about. He preferred to read Elena’s posts instead of his own, after all these years, because they still made him feel warm and safe in a way nothing else could. This one thing in his life remained his own private secret treasure no one could alter.

Cover: The Virgin Billionaire’s Little Angel…"Think Wild"

Here’s the newest cover for the last book in the Virgin Billionaire series, THE VIRGIN BILLIONAIRE’S LITTLE ANGEL.

The reason why I added “Think Wild” to the title of this post is because that’s a slogan for an ad campaign in the book that has an interesting twist. In fact, this slogan, “Think Wild,” changes Luis’s life in more ways than one. And I know, “Think Wild,” is not grammatically correct. But this time I was going for a catchy ad and I was thinking the way an ad writer would think, not like an author would think. “Think Wildly” doesn’t work, and frankly, it’s not very catchy.

There’s also a bareback sex scene. It’s been done responsibly and the characters all have actual test results and papers to prove they are all, indeed, without sexually transmitted diseases. It wasn’t easy to work this into the book in a natural way that made sense. But I wanted to do it for a few reasons. First, gay men enjoy this. Second, if they can’t enjoy it in real life they can enjoy the fantasy of it in books. Third, I think it’s relevant to the story and the characters involved. For me, the balance in m/m romance comes when a certain amount of reality is mixed with the absolute escapism. Because if it’s just absolute escapism it’s not going to be very interesting.

To balance out the bareback sex scenes, I also added something which I think is integral to the book. There are a few chapters that get heavily involved in HIV/AIDS, and just how serious it is when someone goes into full blown AIDS. I can’t say any more because I’d spoil it for readers. But I didn’t hold back this time, and most of what I wrote was loosely based on things I’ve personally witnessed since I was in my early twenties. In a way, I almost didn’t want to do this with m/m romance. I wasn’t sure I wanted to share these stories in a m/m romance. But I think the readers will “get” it, and I’m glad I decided to do it.

But this book isn’t just about wild adventures and bareback sex. Because it was the final book in the series I wanted to tie things up in a way that I’ve been hinting at throughout the entire series. No spoilers. But here’s a hint. It’s something that Luis has been dreaming about all his life. It’s probably the most emotional thing he’ll ever experience and has nothing to do with sex.

The book will be released tomorrow, and I’ll post more then with links that will lead to where the book can be purchased. I’d like to thank the cover artist at ravenous romance for coming up with something so simple and elegant this time. One thing I’m not fond of are those old time looking book covers. I like book covers to depict the time period in which we live now, not time periods from the past that look as if the artist was trying too hard to be “artistic and creative,” or worse, “deep and literary.”

It’s Baby Goat Season Again in Sharon Springs, NY

This morning I open an e-mail and it reads, “Baby Goat Bananza.” The address reads “Unknown Sender.” And I immediately think, “Okay, it’s that tired old kangaroo of a “m/m author” who’s always complaining about everyone, and has been writing not so nice things about me on her painfully boring blog.”

Or, I’m wondering if it could be spam with an attached virus. (It’s happened.)

So my first instinct is click delete. But it’s baby goats. Seriously. I’m going to ignore something about baby goats? I actually do know someone who has goats in Somerville, New Jersey.

In any event, I opened the e-mail and the world didn’t stop. It wasn’t spam, it wasn’t my friend in Somerville. It’s actually a newsletter from the Beekman Boys, way up in Sharon Springs, NY. I’ve been on the fence about them regarding a few things. Here’s one post I wrote about gay men being referred to as “boys” back in 2010. However, the more I’ve been following them the more I “get” what they are trying to do. And, I do, indeed, know more than a few fine gay couples who remind me of them. Tony and I, as a gay couple who have been together for twenty years, are a little different in the sense that we don’t focus our lives around being gay or being different. We’re a couple and we’re here; you like us or you don’t and we prefer not to be defined by anyone (even though that’s often easier said than done). However, it’s nice to see any same-sex couple living, working, and interacting together on national television. And, Farmer John, they guy in charge of the goats,balances them very well.

For those who haven’t been following The Beekman Boys, here’s a link to their web site. I’m actually dying to take a long weekend and see Sharon Springs. I could drive from New York to Maine blind folded I know New England so well. I’ve sat in traffic on the Bourne Bridge so many times I’ve lost count. I know Long Island from Oyster Bay to East Hampton. But I know nothing about upstate New York and I’ve always wanted to take a road trip there. If we do it this summer, I’ll try to do a series of posts with photos while we’re there. I think a lot of readers enjoy these personal things sometimes.

If you check out The Beekman Boys web site, you’ll find all kinds of interesting things. Dr. Brent is adorable. There are videos, blogs, and pages where you can shop for the products they offer. I’ve had the goat cheese and liked it. In fact, I’ll be ordering more for a dinner party we’re having later in March.

"The Trouble with Hairy" by Hal Bodner


This isn’t an actual review, because I don’t do many reviews here as a rule. A lot of authors ask me to read their books and review them and there’s no way I could do all those reviews. There wouldn’t be enough time for me to write, and it would change the blog too much.

But I will comment in a general sense on books I love…and authors I respect. I wrote about Hal Bodner’s new book a week or so ago and wanted to follow up. The first book of Hal’s I read was “Bite Club.” I loved it for many reasons…the solid writing, the well developed characters, and the way the gay characters/situations are treated…and when Hal told me about “The Trouble with Hairy,” I couldn’t wait to see what he’d done this time.

The interesting thing about “Hairy” is that Hal self-pubbed this one on Amazon. I want to begin by stating for those who are looking for books self-pubbed that the quality of this book is as good as anything that would have come from a “traditional” publisher or small e-press. Hal is a well published author and he’s had more than one book published the traditional way. He’s not new to publishing or LGBT fiction. This time I noticed a few nice additions to “Hairy,” like a note to readers at the beginning. And a personal dedication page. I like reading these personal things in books. With this book from Hal, I had a feeling of intimacy I don’t see as often as I’d like. (Fanny Flagg does this a lot, with recipes and comments.) Hal’s voice, which is a strong voice in fiction, came through with absolute clarity. Maybe I’m carrying this too far, but I had the feeling Hal was doing what he always wanted to do and he knew what his readers would enjoy. And that’s a nice feeling!! It’s evident this book is all about the readers.

The storyline returns to WeHo, with returning characters Chris and Troy…and gay men are being murdered. Yes, it’s suspenseful and chilling at times. But it’s done with a sense of humor mingled with suspense…and there’s a werewolf. Other enjoyable characters are brought back, and some elements continue where they left off. But this time I found more character arcs…or rather in-depth development that should, indeed, happen in a sequel. I felt closer to them, if that’s even possible. Though it’s paranormal, there’s enough humor and wit to make you smile more than once. A few times I laughed out loud, as I tend to do when I’m reading anything from Hal…even his facebook posts are funny. There’s also a little bit of camp, and it’s the kind of camp I don’t see often enough either. For those who don’t know what “camp” is, here’s a link. And the pace moved quickly, which for me is an important element in any novel.

Becky, the WeHo coroner, is an interesting character:

Despite her ghoulish profession, or perhaps because of it,
Becky was always quick with a smile, a clever quip and a helping
hand in times of adversity. She was a favorite of the City Council
and adored by her staff and the members of the Sheriff’s
Department with whom she worked. Even West Hollywood’s
ineffective mayor, Daniel Eversleigh, looked upon Becky as he
would a favorite niece. She was also, to Delaney’s further irritation,one of the few people besides Clive himself who seemed to be able to actually get along with West Hollywood’s notoriously
cantankerous City Manager.

Hal writes the best detailed scenes/descriptions that help draw the reader into the story, and we and care (and fall in love with) the characters and settings as a result. I especially love old film star references. Here’s one good example of what I mean:

Gertie and Ruth lived in a small one bedroom apartment in the
converted old Charlie Chaplin Studios on Poinsettia Place. Each
unit was unique and, to most people, would be uninhabitable with
oddly slanting floors and windows and doors chosen for quirkiness
rather than functionality. In the women’s living room, the trunk of a huge avocado tree grew smack dab up through the middle and out
through the roof which Gertie had surrounded with a cunningly
constructed wooden bench adorned by Ruth’s needlepoint
cushions. Visitors found their home strange, but Gertie and Ruth
loved it.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good fiction, and to anyone who’s looking for a good read in LGBT fiction. No spoilers…but I really loved the ending most of all. It’s clearly fiction, yet authentic in a slightly larger than life way like all of Hal’s fiction. And I’ll be recommending this one to my partner, Tony, who happens to be the worst critic I know when it comes to gay fiction. I rarely recommend anything to him because he is so critical (He has what I call “Ivy League Syndrome”). But this time I know I’m safe.