Month: September 2013

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

Gay Dad Pens Toys R Us

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

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

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

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

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

Straight Guys Avoid Gay Guys

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

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

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

Drag Queens as Role Models

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

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

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

You can read more here.

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

Photo attribution can be found here.

FREE in October: Fall Into Romance Blog Hop

FREE in October: Fall Into Romance Blog Hop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Field Books Smashwords; Bloggers and Pen Names

Ryan Field Books Smashwords

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

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

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

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

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

Bloggers and Pen Names

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

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

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

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

Free Gay Fiction Excerpt: Down the Basement II

Free Gay Fiction Excerpt: Down the Basement II

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

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

From the raw unedited version:

After the Halloween costume party, I started seeing Kadin on a regular basis. And this left me speechless more than once. I couldn’t understand why a popular guy like Kadin would want to be with me. Kadin was the star quarterback on the college football team, all the girls in school were after him, and all his fraternity brothers loved him. When he walked me back to my dorm the first night we’d fooled around in the basement of his fraternity house, he kissed me good night in the dark hallway. Though he was the only guy at the party who had figured out I wasn’t a woman, he didn’t seem to care. I just stood there gaping, with one hand pressed to my throat and the other dangling at my side.
            When he left a few minutes later, I watched him lope down the sidewalk with his hands buried in his pockets and his shoulders hunched forward. He hadn’t worn a jacket and the weather had turned cooler that night. As he rounded a corner at the end of the walkway and disappeared from sight, I stood there staring into the darkness for another fifteen minutes, wondering if this had all been a dream.
            But it wasn’t a dream. I’d given him my cell number and he called me the next day and asked if we could get together that night. I agreed, with reservations. Kadin had only seen me in drag, not as a man. I’d gone to the costume party at the frat house in drag for fun, never expecting to hook up with anyone. And I had no intentions of doing drag again for a long, long time. When he picked me up that night, I worried Kadin would expect me to flit out of the dorm in high heels and a pink dress.
            I wore an off-white sweater and faded jeans instead. When his huge black SUV pulled up to the curb, I was standing there waiting for him with my hands in my pockets. It occurred to me that he might not even recognize me as a man. But he reached over the front seat and popped the door open. When I sat down and buckled my seat belt, he smiled and said, “You look nice tonight. Nice sweater.”
            Well. Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, we started seeing each other at least three or four nights a week. He never asked me to dress up in drag for him and he seemed perfectly content with me as a man. We drove to dark parking lots and jumped into the back of his SUV. Kadin explained he was bi-sexual and wanted to take it slowly at first. He even went into great detail about his frustrations and his anxieties about dating another guy in public. He looked me in the eye; he was honest. He said he wasn’t ready to be open about it. And I decided not to push him into anything too soon. I enjoyed being with him. Spending time alone this way, even though it was on the down-low, allowed us to be together without any other interruptions.

As the weeks passed, I would sit in class daydreaming about our nights together. Kadin’s SUV had tinted windows all the way around. No one could see inside, not even if they walked up, cupped their hands, and pressed their noses to the window. We’d spend hours back there doing everything from kissing to intercourse. Most times it was hard to keep the SUV from rocking. We explored each other’s bodies and forgot about our inhibitions. He learned quickly that I preferred being the submissive bottom; I learned just as fast that he enjoyed taking control as the dominant top. One night we even fell asleep naked in the back of his SUV in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. When we woke early the next morning, I was flat on my back and Kadin was on top of me with his arms around my shoulders. I spread my legs, wrapped them around his waist, and whispered into his hear. I told him we’d better get up and get dressed before anyone caught us. He told me no one could see inside, and then he lifted my legs higher and put on another condom.

Then a week before Thanksgiving Kadin picked me up and we went to a parking lot behind a local bowling alley. We parked between two school buses and climbed into the back. After I blew him, he pulled me up to his chest and put his arms around me. I thought this was odd. Whenever I blew Kadin, he liked to lie back while I massaged his balls. He practically went into a deep meditative state, moaning softly and rubbing the top of my head. But this time he seemed animated and filled with energy, as if he couldn’t contain himself.

“I have a favor to ask you,” he said.

I rubbed his wide chest. His enormous pecs were covered with a soft layer of dark hair that made my mouth water. “What kind of favor?” There wasn’t much I wouldn’t do for Kadin.

“I have to do an act next week at Santa Saturday,” he said. “I was wondering if you’d do something with me.” He spoke with a cautious, almost hapless, tone.

“An act?”

He nodded. “Something for the variety show. Some sort of song and dance.”

“Ah, well,” I said. Santa Saturday was a charity event that Kadin’s fraternity put on each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It was tradition; it kicked off the Christmas season; Kadin’s fraternity had been doing this for over fifty years. The event drew people from the entire campus and surrounding colleges. There were bake sales, fifty-fifty drawings, Chinese auctions, and games. And all the money they brought in went to a local Children’s Hospital. Aside from the D.J. they always hired, each year Kadin’s fraternity put on an outrageous, campy variety show that was always the highlight of the event.

“I’m going to be Santa Claus,” Kadin said. “And I was wondering if you’d be Mrs. Santa Claus. You could get dressed up in a sexy Mrs. Santa outfit like the costume you wore to the Halloween party. Something with a short red dress and spiky red high heels.” Then he ran his hand down my right side and slipped his fingers into my ass crack.

I took a quick breath and swallowed back. He knew this was my weakest spot. My body turned to mush whenever he touched me there with his large fingers. “Are you serious, Kadin?” This was the first time he’d mentioned drag to me since the night we’d met. For the longest time, I wondered why he hadn’t mentioned it.

“Dead serious,” he said. “It could be fun. And, it’s a way for us to be together in public. I’d like that. I can tell everyone you’re my date.”

His fingers were sliding toward my opening. My legs were parting and I was squeezing his bicep. “I’m not sure about his, Kadin. I only did drag that one time and I wasn’t all that comfortable then. I’m not sure I can pass as a woman with all those people around.”

“But you were great. All the guys thought you were a woman. They had no idea.” Then his voice dropped and he bit my neck. “And I thought it was hot. I’d love to see you do it just one more time.” He pressed his palms together and quirked his dark eyebrows. “Please.”

“There’s a lot of preparation involved,” I said, remembering Halloween. I had passed as a woman that night. And so well I wound up taking on a group of guys wearing football uniforms in the basement, which is how Kadin and I actually met. “And you didn’t give me much time.” The last time it had taken me two months to prepare. I didn’t know if I could do this in just one week.

He started to beg. “Please do it just this once. I never ask for much. And, it is for charity. I’ll never ask again.”

He was right about not asking for much. He was the most attentive, articulate lover I’d ever met. When he was inside me, he only cared about what I was feeling and if he was pleasing me. We didn’t just have sex: we made love. So I laced my fingers around his thick neck and said, “Okay. I’ll do it just this once, and only because it’s for charity.”

He smiled so wide his nose twitched. He made a fist and punched me playfully in the ass. “You’re the best. I was worried you’d turn me down.”  Then he climbed on top of me and buried his face in my neck.

I caressed the back of his head and sighed. “I just hope I can pull this off without anyone recognizing me.”

“You’ll be great,” he said. “The only thing you’ll have to worry about is keeping the other guys away from you. The last time they couldn’t wait to lift up your dress.”

How could I forget? My jaw ached for two days straight.



The next morning I started working on my outfit. Kadin said he’d be wearing a traditional Santa suit, so I figured I’d play it safe and wear a traditional Mrs. Santa suit. I scoured the internet searching for costume shops and web sites that catered to transvestites and entertainers. I found a few kinky, sexy, Mrs. Santa outfits online, but no one could guarantee that I’d received these outfits within a week’s time.

When I realized I’d have to go out and physically shop, I did searches for shops within a fifty mile radius of my school. There were more than I’d imagined there would be. And I finally stumbled across a shop called, Le Exotique. This shop was about forty miles away. It catered to anyone and everyone with a kink, fetish, or passion to dress up in fantasy clothes. I called first and asked about a sexy Mrs. Santa suit. The sales clerk told me they had three different styles in stock and that it would be best if I came in person and tried them all on.

So the next morning, a breezy autumn Saturday with a bright blue sky, I hoped into my car and drove sixty miles north. It’s a good thing the upcoming week was a slow time for me. I’d taken my mid-terms already and I knew I wouldn’t miss anything if I cut a few classes. Most people took off early that week. It was almost expected. I not only had to pull a costume together I also had to rehearse the act with Kadin. He said we were doing something kitschy and Christmassy. He promised me it was supposed to be campier than realistic. But as much as I cared about Kadin, I wasn’t taking his word. If I was going on a stage to perform, I was going to be well rehearsed and ready for anything.

Le Exotique was located on a back street in a touristy little town I’d never visited, the kind of place people from the city go to for daytrips to kill time when there’s nothing better to do. I had to park on the street and fill a parking meter, then walk two blocks north and one block east. The shop itself was nothing more than a converted row home, sandwiched between a small modern art gallery and a candle shop displaying all those new flameless candles everyone was raving about. The clapboards of Le Exotique were pale pink and the trim was soft lavender. I turned to view the flameless candles and tilted my head, wondering whether or not flameless candle was an oxymoron.

The owner of Le Exotique was unlocking the front door as I approached, a guy in his mid-thirties with dark wavy hair down to his shoulders, a scruffy goatee, and ripped jeans. He was a cross between a rock star and a jock. He carried a sandwich board sign down four concrete steps and placed it on the edge of the sidewalk. When he looked up at me, he nodded and said, “Good morning. I’m just opening. Feel free to take a look inside and if you need anything I’ll be inside in a minute.” The sandwich board sign read, “SALE,” in bold red letters. The owner had two thick silver earrings in each ear, a silver bolt through his nose, and more silver chains around his neck than I could count. I noticed his black leather boots: narrow pointy toes and a three inch Cuban heel. They weren’t quite western and they weren’t exactly biker boots. But something about them made my heart skip a beat.

I thanked him and went inside. When I looked up, I pressed my palm to my chest and sighed. For such a small space, the shop was filled with merchandise that catered to every fetish, kink, and fantasy ever invented. There were whips and chains above my head, hanging from rafters in haphazard positions. To my right were racks of dresses that ran down the entire right side of the shop. To the left were glass cases filled with sex toys that included everything from black rubber plugs to dildos the size of large eggplants. I gaped at the cock ring display. I blinked when I noticed an entire case filled with fake breasts in every size, shape and color. And I nearly lost my balance when I saw a mannequin wearing crotchless a nun’s habit with a slit up the side.

The moment the owner walked inside I crossed to him and said, “I need help.” Then I told him what I was looking for, that I didn’t have much time to spare, and that I’d appreciate his help. I spoke fast, with an even tone.

When I finished he just stood there gaping at me. “I’ll be more than happy to help you out,” he said, rubbing his goatee, looking me up and down. “What are you, about five feet seven?”

I nodded yes and said, “Exactly.”

“It should be simple to get you fitted into the perfect Mrs. Santa outfit,” he said. Then he looked me up and down again and smiled. “I’m just surprised, is all. You look like a typical college kid to me. You remind me of that actor. Can’t think of his name.”

“Zac Ephron.” I got this all the time. I didn’t think I looked like him, but other people did.

“Yes,” the guy said. “But you have lighter hair. It’s more of a sandy blond.”

I smiled. “And mine is natural.”

After that, the guy led me to the back of the store where there were dressing rooms and the windows were covered with heavy black draperies. He searched through a few racks and pulled out three different costumes. “These are the three Mrs. Santa costumes I have. If you don’t like them, we can always pull something together off the racks. Do you have shoes, or will you be needing them, too?”

I gazed down at the costumes hanging from his hand. They were all red with white fur trim, all very short, and one of them looked so narrow it resembled a scarf instead of a dress. “I’ll need shoes, too.” I wanted something in red. I could have used the shoes I’d worn for Halloween, but I figured since I was already buying an entire outfit I may as well spring for the shoes and do it right.

“What size shoe are you in a man’s shoe?”

I took the costumes from his hand and headed to the dressing room. Without thinking twice, I said, “I’m either a size ten or eleven in women’s heels, depending on how they are made.” I’d been through this before; I knew what I was doing.

He smiled. “How high of a heel do you want?”

I pushed the pink curtain aside and said, “The highest heel you have in red, in my size.” Then I closed the curtain and unzipped my jeans.

The first Mrs. Santa costume I tried on was the short red Lycra affair that resembled a scarf. Good thing I’d worn a tight thong to pack down my dick. When I slipped it over my head and pulled it down below my waist, it barely covered my crotch. I stepped out of the dressing room to view the costume in the full length three-way mirror. The guy was leaning against a rack and there a couple of pairs of red high heels resting on top of the rack on a glass shelf. He took one look at me in the tight red dress and his jaw dropped. He rushed to the mirrors and said, “Wow.”

My tone remained serious. I gazed into the mirror to see how the dress fell over my hips. “Is that a good wow or a bad wow? Be honest. I don’t want to make a fool of myself. I’m going on stage in this costume.”

He handed me a pair of red pumps with a six inch heel, dripping in ruby sequins. “Wow in a good way. It’s perfect.” Then he went down on one knee and reached for my right ankle so he could slip the high heel on my foot.

I would have put on my own shoes, but he seemed so eager I didn’t want to disappoint him. I knew he was looking up my dress; I saw his eyes tilting. So I reached down to hold his shoulder for support and lifted my right leg. He held my calf gently and put the shoe on very slowly, caressing my instep with his large, thick fingers. When he repeated this move with my left foot, I lost my balance and almost feel over. But he grabbed the back of my right leg just in time. And as I found my footing and looked into the mirror, his hand went all the way up the back of my leg and rested firmly on the bottom of my ass.

I smiled and rolled my eyes. He squeezed my flesh and pursed his lips. I’d had a feeling he was horny, only I hadn’t expected him to make such a bold move right there in the store. After all, anyone could have walked in and caught him with his hand up the back of the dress. I smiled and said, “Excuse me, but I think you have your hand up my dress.” Then I laughed and shook my head.

He gaped at my legs and slid his hand all the way up the back of the dress until it rested in the middle of my ass. Then he smiled and said, “You have smooth skin. You’re not wearing underwear.”

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

Cory Booker’s Woman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It matters.

Erotic Romance Book Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Porch Swing Gay Erotic Romance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Bomer In Time

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

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

You can read more here at Wiki.

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

Foot Cream Kills HIV

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

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

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

Paid Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suddenly it hit him. Instead of trying to cajole others to review a client’s work, why not cut out the middleman and write the review himself? Then it would say exactly what the client wanted — that it was a terrific book. A shattering novel. A classic memoir. Will change your life. Lyrical and gripping, Stunning and compelling. Or words to that effect.

In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.
I don’t see the paid for book review issue disappearing. It’s part of our culture now, and unfortunately retail web sites promote the behavior. I just wish they would be a little more discreet about it, is all. I’ve discussed this with other authors I know in private and we all agree that when you see a book being released by a relatively unknown author and the very next day after the release that same relatively unknown author has over fifty five star reviews on Amazon something’s rotten in Denmark and it’s not the cheese. And no matter how many times they swear on their moms, dads, kids, and dead dogs, that they aren’t buying reviews, once the red flag is up there’s no turning back.
I’d like to see the FTC getting more involved.  

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

George and Barbara Bush At Gay Wedding

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

From ABC News:

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

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

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

Are Engagement Rings Anti-Feminist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TransAmerica Reality TV

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

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

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

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

Gay Superdads

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

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

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

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

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


Gay Character in Kids Book Causes Kerfuffle

Gay Character in Kids Book Causes Kerfuffle

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

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

This what the blogger said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Matt Damon Emmy

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

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

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

    They kissed.

    They aren’t gay.

    We get it.

    And we don’t care.

    Unethical Authors Zon Alert

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

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

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

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

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

    According to zon alert:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Gay Russian Sex

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

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

    “He bought the tickets with his money, and we went straight to the men’s toilet.”

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

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