Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s; Real Women in Romances

Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent’s

new Los Angeles home will be featured in the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar and you can check out a few photos of what I assume will be some of the photos, here.

You’ll also see Berkus and Brent posing in several of them. They do this very well…pose that is. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Nate Berkus photo where he wasn’t striking that proverbial pose. But I mean no snark at all. I like Berkus and I remember some of the things he’s gone through in life. And when Tony was going through some serious health issues in 2007, I found Berkus on a talk show by accident very late one night, and listening to what he went through helped me cope a lot better at the time. I actually figured that if Berkus could get through all THAT, so could I.

The couple is showing off their stunning abode in the August issue of Harper’s Bazaar, and it leaves little to be desired. It’s a midcentury lover’s dream, as it was originally designed by John Elgin Woolf, who worked with the likes of Cary Grant. The couple opted for a black-and-white palette throughout, but we’re particularly fond of the mint green 1950s stove in the kitchen.

I often ask my brother if he ever runs into Berkus in any of his travels because my brother is a partner in this design firm and his client base includes Lucy Liu and a few other fairly well known people. But he never does, and I would imagine that has a great deal to do with the type of designs they do.

Real Women in Romances

Here’s a list of a few more Amazon releases. I’m posting them all here on the blog to try and remain organized because it gets a little confusing after a while. And this way when someone asks, I can search the blog and send a link. It’s a nice way of saving yourself time if you are an author and readers want to know something right away.

It’s Nice to be Naughty is actually a hetero erotic romance I wrote where I used a handsome young guy and an middle aged woman who didn’t have the perfect body or a very active private life. I wanted to do something different here for the real people/women who read erotic romance, so they could have something with which to identify. I also made the woman the boss, and the young guy is asking HER for a job. It’s nice to have romances with perfect characters all the time, but once in a while reality is nice, too. And for any gay readers who might be interested, the male main character in this book is one I have a very good time writing about. I also pubbed this under the name R. Field, because it is not m/m or gay romance.

You can check it out here.

Even the nicest girls have to be a little naughty sometimes. Though Sally Mae Frye has worked hard and played by the rules all her life, she wonders whether she’s missed something along the way. She’s already in her late thirties, and she’s still single. She spends most of her time either working or dealing with her aging mother. And then she hires handsome, young Phil Winston to be her personal assistant at the bank, without even realizing he’s a sweet guy with a kinky little fetish that will eventually turn her into the sort of naughty woman she’s always fantasized about. Sally Mae can’t ignore Phil’s rough hands and the subtle bulge between his legs, or the way he tends to notice her when she leaves a room. At first, all it takes is a heavy snow storm and a sopping wet male assistant who likes to strip for his full-figured boss. After that, it’s all about the way dirty, young Phil knows how bend Sally Mae over and use the palm of his rugged hand to please her.

Cowboy Howdy is pretty much self-explanatory from the blurb, below. If you notice, I played it extra safe to add the fact that the main characters are two full grown consenting adults because I’ve learned never to take anything for granted, or to assume anything.

You can read more here.

Payne is a typical gay guy from New York City, with the right haircut, clothes, and attitude. He spends a great deal of time keeping his slim body smooth and well-toned for strong, dominant men. Although he’s not looking forward to his new roommate at first, he soon discovers things could have been much worse. The minute Payne meets Howdy he can’t take his eyes off his huge shoulders, long legs, and the bulge in his jeans. Howdy’s thick Texas accent and his authentic cowboy hat make Payne cover his crotch with a sweatshirt. When he finds out Howdy is there to play football, Payne wants to bury his face in Howdy’s jock strap. In fact, Howdy is the full grown man of Payne’s dreams and he considers seducing him the first day they meet. This leads to an interesting experience that may wind up changing the rest of their lives. Will these two full grown consenting adults fall in love and will Howdy accept Payne’s romantic, subtle advances? Or will he find them repulsive and move out that night?

We Don’t Need Sex; Orson Scott Card Pleads

We Don’t Need Sex

This time I’m not the one trying to define erotic romance, as I’ve posted here. In fact, I have mentioned this many times in various posts I’ve written, partly to explain to readers and partly to make note of it here for my own records.

I found the post to which I’m linking by accident last night, and I thought it was interesting because it’s another take on the definition of erotic romance, which is a genre that most people seem to define on their own. Everyone seems to have a definition, and I understand that. The worst critics think it’s porn. But since there has never been a clear cut definition of porn to my knowledge, that’s highly subjective. I once posted about how Sarah Palin thought Levi Johnston’s playgirl photos were porn and he didn’t even show full frontal nudity.

The blogger to whom I linked above says this in the quest to define erotic romance:

I have nothing against erotica, people can read and write what they want to, but I am tiring a little of having to defend my books, and their genre to people who say they don’t like/review/blog about erotica. I have blog guests who write erotica, it’s fine, it’s just that I don’t write erotica.

The confusion in large numbers of peoples’ minds between Erotica and Erotic Romance is leading some publishers to add definitions to their submission pages. (Sadly there are still some publishers who don’t know the difference).

It seems even some large book sellers don’t know the difference.
I write both erotica and erotic romance, plus a little new adult sometimes, and I’ve even written the occasional pg rated hetero romance novel with a pen name. I’ve also been around for over twenty years and I started writing gay erotica and getting published when I was in college. The main reason I started writing erotica is that back then there wasn’t a market for anything else that was gay, unless it involved something dark and highly sensationalized like AIDS or suicide.  
I agree with the author of the blog post for the most part. And I do think most booksellers and small start up e-presses now don’t know the difference. However, there is one part of the blogger’s definition of erotic romance that I look at differently. 
This is what I’m talking about:
 It’s a story, plot heavy, but the sex scenes are so integral they need to be there.
I don’t think that’s wrong for some authors. And I’m not trying to give a set definition of erotic romance to anyone. I wouldn’t do that; I’m not that presumptuous. But I’ve never personally written an erotic romance where the sex *needs* to be there. On that point I totally disagree with the blogger. I’ve written the sex scenes in my books because I think they add another layer to the story, and because I think readers want that extra layer. I also think sex scenes help define the characters in a more detailed (complicated) way, and they often move the story and characters forward by showing instead of telling. I also believe we are all highly sexual beings…even those who won’t admit it.
In other words, erotic romance for me is a romance with erotic scenes. But if the erotic scenes are removed there’s still a strong story that can stand on its own. I’ve posted about this in the past. And I even went the extra mile when I released “Chase of a Dream” in two different versions. One version has strong sex scenes, the other doesn’t have any strong sex scenes. And the version without the sex scenes still has a story as strong as the one with the sex scenes. By removing the erotic scenes from this book, I only removed 7,000 words that clearly did NOT NEED to be there. I think they added to the story, but they were NOT integral to the story. And none of the sex scenes in any of the erotic romances I’ve ever written were integral to the story. In a way, I self-censored with “Chase of a Dream” in order to not only prove this, but to give my readers a choice. Frankly, I prefer the version with the sex scenes. I think it adds that extra layer to the book and it makes the characters more human. But that’s only my opinion and I left the choice to my readers.
There is a reason why this blog is now titled “Naughty Guys with Strong Stories.” I didn’t do that by accident.
As a side note, there is a difference between erotica and erotic romance. But erotica (not erotic romance) is also a strong story with erotic scenes. Erotica is not just hop into be and start going at it. And if you take the erotic scenes out of the story the story should still stand on its own. So there is not a distinct difference between erotica and erotic romance with regard to the sex. I write them both. I’ve been writing them both for many years. In every single call for submissions I’ve ever answered the editor has always asked that the erotica (not just erotic romance) have a strong storyline. 
It’s all about the story.  
Orson Scott Card Pleads

Author Orson Scott Card recently made headlines again when he issued a plea to those who plan to boycott the film version of his book, Ender’s Game…I guess in reply to all the anti-gay comments he’s made in the past.

What many of my readers might not know is that Orson Scott Card is a member of the National Organization of Marriage, NOM, that has been fighting same sex marriage for many years. I’ve posted about this a few times.

I was going to share this FB post about how NOM (National Organization for Marriage) works against marriage equality in a Huff Po piece written by former Presidential candidate, Fred Karger, but then decided to post it here on the blog because I’d like it to get more exposure.

Since I wrote that post, and others like it, Karger has continued to work hard to help in the fight for equality. He also made history in the last Presidential election as the first openly gay candidate ever to run for President.

In any event, NOM is not the only part of Orson Scott Card’s anti-gay history. You can read more about his anti-gay history here. And if you do the simplest search with his name you’ll be directed to many others. He’s never hidden how he feels about his beliefs.

In this article he makes a statement that almost sounds like a combination of bitterness, arrogance and begging at the same time. I think I even heard an “I dare you,” somewhere between the lines. But I could be wrong about that.

With the recent Supreme Court ruling, the gay marriage issue becomes moot. The Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution will, sooner or later, give legal force in every state to any marriage contract recognized by any other state.

Now it will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance toward those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute.

As a resident of Pennsylvania where gay marriage is NOT legal, and as someone who has been with his partner for over twenty years, I know for a fact that I’m not at the same level of equality as those who live in states where gay marriage IS legal even with the recent supreme court ruling. I’ve posted about this, too.

But I honestly don’t know how to get that point across any clearer, as things stand right now as I write this post. Yes, the ruling was historic and it brought us all one step closer to full equality. Yes, I’m thrilled it happened and I’m thrilled for same sex couples who live in states where they are fortunate enough to be recognized. However, Tony and I, and millions of other gay couples in this country, are basically still screwed and we are still outlaws.

The bottom line is that Orson Scott Card wants us to forgive and forget, to go see the movie about his book, and he clearly thinks the gay dollar must have some significance. You can choose for yourselves. I won’t be running to the local theater any time soon for Ender’s Game. This isn’t about tolerance. I have no problem tolerating Orson Scott Card, and I have no problem respecting his beliefs and opinions, or his right to free speech. But I do NOT have to support him, or anyone associated with him, financially.


Colin Farrell Sex Video and Erotica/Romance

I’ve posted before about what I think the differences between porn and erotic romance are. Though it can get more complicated because it is so subjective, I think erotic romance has sex with a storyline and the sex should move the storyline forward. Porn is just sex with no story. Even erotica that’s not romance should have a storyline, and the sex should move that storyline forward. How much sex is too much or too little depends on the author and the reader.

This is just my opinion, and I know there are some who will disagree with me. I know people who believe that whether or there’s a storyline or not if the sex is to detailed…or too much…they consider that porn. I’ll never argue with them because no one’s really come up with a set definition of porn, so I just do what I think is best with my own fiction and I mind my own business. I also follow the guidelines of what most publishers consider taboo and I don’t cross those lines. The only time I get frustrated as a reader is when something is marketed and promoted as erotica or erotic romance and there’s either no sex, very little sex, or some kind of vanilla pg rated sex that’s being passed off to sell books. Then, as a reader, I feel frustrated. I would much rather know what to expect and not be disappointed one way or the other.

When I released two versions of “Chase of a Dream,” with and without sex scenes, I tried to cater to both groups. I also wanted to see if  removing the sex scenes could actually be done without hurting the book. I found it not only can be done, but I only had to remove about 7,000 words from the book. I doubt I’ll be doing this again any time soon with erotic romance. One, because I don’t want to start self-censoring myself. And two, because I’m writing erotic romance and erotica and there are supposed to be sex scenes.

As I said, it’s hard to define what’s porn because so many have different opinions about it. But I’ve always been curious about it. When a friend sent me a link to that infamous alleged sex video with Colin Farrell recently, I was curious about it and I watched it in full. I’m not linking to it here because the woman in the video has already received more than what I consider her fair share of attention. And I don’t think Farrell ever wanted the video released in public. But it was interesting for me as an author who writes a lot of sex scenes because that video was a good example of what I consider porn. I’m not judging it. I’m just calling it that.

There was nothing romantic or emotional about it. And it wasn’t very good in more than one respect. The ridiculous woman in the video is either inept in bed or she wasn’t into Farrell, because I found myself eager to fast forward more than once. Actually, Farrell wasn’t bad at all and he lives up to his reputation. And though the things he did to the woman were far more detailed and accurate than what she did to him, it was enough to make any gay man scream and clamp his knees shut.

But I’m not reviewing Farrell’s alleged sex video here (I say alleged because who knows if it really was him…it sure looked like him, but I’m still not certain), and I’m not trying to define porn in a general sense. I’m just casting my own personal opinion about what I think the difference between erotic romance and porn is and anyone can feel free to disagree with me. I’ve always been open to discussion with this topic because I’ve always been so on the fence about it. In books, I just try to go with what I think the characters would do. If I think there should be a sex scene and it works with the story, I write it and I don’t hold back.

I can tell you one thing: not everyone agrees and I don’t think there will ever be a clear concise definition of porn…or even erotic romance for that matter. I posted about Levi Johnston’s Playgirl photos a while back and how Sarah Palin thought they were porn and he didn’t even show full frontal as far as I know. For Playgirl Magazine, I actually thought his photos were artistic.

I have been slammed more than once for writing sex scenes that some find too explicit, and sometimes I even understand where they are coming from. I’ve also written parodies of sex scenes that were intended to be funny and have been taken way too seriously…and I’ve always been stunned that someone would take them so seriously. I joked around once in a book about a burping penis and you’d be amazed at how seriously THAT was taken. There’s one sour old woman author who is still talking about it. But I’ve never tried to define either porn or erotica, and I’m not going to start now. And the only rule I have is that I try to stay away from people who do.  

Definition of Erotic Romance?

Here are several definitions of erotic romance, with links to verify at the link I’m posting here.

Erotic romance novels, as defined by Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) special interest chapter, are stories written about the development of a romantic relationship through sexual interaction. …

A novel where the sexuality goes beyond that of a most romance novels and may use sexually explicit language, but the romance is still the core of the book. Can be either contemporary, historical or paranormal.

Erotic romance blends traditional erotic fiction with a romantic backdrop. Erotic romances tend to be fairly graphic and explicit in describing scenes of intimacy between adults; they usually have strong sexual content and incorporate frank language into the storyline. …

I have a few reasons to post about this now, and one of them is that I’ve been asked this question many times and I agree with all of the above.

One thing I don’t see talked about is what I’ve always consider my own personal definition, which I like to keep concise:

An erotic romance is a romance with strong sex that moves the book and story forward. And if you take the sex out of the story there will still be a plot and a good solid book.

Whenever I release a book, or submit a book to a publisher, I usually do a final edit where I highlight all of the sex scenes to see if the book and story will stand up on its own without the sex. I know that sounds mechanical, but it works for me. The books always do stand up. In other words, if I were asked to rewrite “An Officer and his Gentleman,” with all the sex scenes removed (or toned down to an R rating without strong sex scenes) I know without hesitation I would still have a book and a story. One of the interesting things about AOAHG is that when I first submitted that book to the publisher, it was returned and I was asked to add more sex scenes. I didn’t mind. No author minds adding more. They just don’t like having to edit things out. I think it worked out well and I’m happy with the book as it stands. But I also take comfort in knowing that I could still release that book today without the strong sex scenes and still have a novel.

It’s a little harder to do with short stories. But again, I could tone the sex scenes down in every short story I’ve ever written to R rated scenes and I know I’d still have a story there.

I think the same standard applies to erotic fiction, too, not just erotic romance. In erotic fiction there should always be a storyline that can stand alone without the sex.

Of course a lot of this varies according to individual opinions. I’ve been told too much strong sex is porn by people who actually had the audacity to define porn themselves. That’s not even a place where I would venture. The definition of what’s considered porn has been fought about for ages and no one is any closer to getting it right.

But in erotic romance and erotica the story comes first and I like to think the sex moves the love and the story forward at all times. I will admit that I usually add a great deal of sex, and that’s because I’m writing for an erotic romance audience. It’s what they expect when they spend their hard earned money. I think the discreet readers of erotic romance and erotica are disappointed when they buy books that don’t have sex scenes…I’ve heard some say they feel cheated. Of course that can be a tricky place, too. The definition of what’s considered too much, or too little, sex can vary from reader to reader and author to author.

But I do think it’s safe to go by all the definitions above in a general sense. And for those who don’t agree, at least you know that authors and publishers are making it clear what’s contained in an erotic romance. That is for the most part. I’ve bought a few and sat there wondering, “Where the hell are the sex scenes?” I thought “Fifty Shades of Grey” was tame compared to other erotic romances. But I have a friend who thought it was “scandalous.”

I’m going to post more on this topic because I’m curious about it. And any comments, assuming they will be civil, are welcome on the thread. I’m open to other opinions, even if I might not agree with them.

Is It "Mommy Porn?"

I’ve posted about the popular book Fifty Shades of Grey a few times. My interest in the book is mostly geared toward the fact that an erotic romance became popular in the mainstream. It’s not something I would normally read. But I have to say I’ve enjoyed reading it in spite of this.

Over the weekend I read a few posts about FSoG with regard to romance, erotic romance, porn, and women. One by Lori Perkins, and another by Sarah Wendel. The mainstream, as usual, came up with the ridiculous term “Mommy Porn,” and people are commenting about this everywhere. These aren’t the only things I’ve read. They just happen to be the two I found most interesting.

There’s also an interesting post here, on the Dystel & Goderich blog, which discusses books like FSoG going mainstream and whether or not the publishing industry has overlooked the fact that digital books offer readers a certain amount of discretion that print books never did. In other words, no one knows what someone is reading on an e-reader, which makes it safe to read erotic romance anywhere. I’ve posted about this more than once. Erotic romance is, and always has been, a secret pleasure for most people, and this includes men, and it’s always been about discretion.

But I’m on record about never commenting about women’s issues because I’m a man. I like reading about them and learning about them because many of my own readers are women. But for me to comment on how a woman feels about an issue would be as bad as a woman commenting on how I should feel about issues as a gay man. I don’t like it, and I don’t think women would like it very much if I started talking about women’s issues.

But I do think the posts that I’ve linked to are interesting in the sense that they give insight into something that seems to have everyone talking. The buzz about FSoG covers a lot of territory, from fanfic (where this book allegedly originated) to women reading erotic romance. And I walked away from each post learning something I didn’t know before.

Most Books are now in Paperback on Amazon…

When my books first come out, they are e-books and can be found at,, or other well known e-book web sites. And then they go to Amazon and can be ordered as paperbacks.

I’m positing an amazon link because I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking why the books aren’t offered in print. Evidently, there are still many people out there who have not switched to reading books in digital print, as e-books. And I guess that’s going to take some time.

I personally took a long time switching to e-books. I love the feel and smell of a print book. I enjoy reading print books as a luxury. But once I made the switch to e-books, I was amazed at how much I loved reading them either on the computer or on my phone. I know someone who has their lap top hooked up to their flat screen TV and that’s how they read all their books now.

But like I said, it’s going to take some time. So here’s the link where you can purchase any one of my books as a paperback.

Book Launch…"He’s Bewitched"

Today is the launch day for a new book I wrote titled, “He’s Bewitched.” I’ll post more about it later this week, with a few excerpts, but for now the back cover copy is below.

Brett Samson is a young warlock who longs to be just like everyone else. His only dream in life is to fall in love with the right man and live happily-ever-after. But he becomes disillusioned with everything when his latest lover breaks off their relationship. Realizing he may never be able to live a normal, mortal life, he takes off on a road trip to Cape Cod in a vintage Lincoln convertible, with his best friend and cousin, Michelle, his outrageous little dog, Tag, and his faltering witch of a grandmother, Eloise.

Rhys Phillips, a handsome young man living with a werewolf curse, is hitching to New York to find an alchemist who can remove the curse, when he meets Brett at a small filling station in Maryland. When Brett and his family are forced to spend the night in a small motel because of a flat tire, he and Rhys start out as buddies bunking together in the same room. But the next morning Brett wakes up with handsome Rhys pinned to his back, a broken bed frame and sexy bruises on the back of his legs.

Brett, Rhys, and the rest of the family, including the remarkable dog, embark on a summertime journey that takes them to the magical tip of Cape Cod, where they all discover the meaning of true love. Can they conquer their fears, learn how to deal with a sinister dark witch, and wind up finding the normal lives they’ve been craving?