Category: gratitude

Happy New Year Gratitude

Happy New Year Gratitude

I wish I could say I hate to see 2014 end, but 2014 was not an easy year. I don’t like to go into detail about personal things on the blog or on social media, but last year Tony and I had two family members diagnosed with stage four cancer, we spent a good part of the year in places like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and there were some very intense moments I’d rather not live through again. Some of that is continuing and will always be there. It just seemed as though 2014 started out with the kind of things no one ever wants to deal with. Thanks to a private support group on Facebook, Whipple Surgery Survivor Group, I learned there are a lot of us out there dealing with similar situations.

In the same respect, it wasn’t a totally bad year. I think it has to do with priorities…because some things, like cancer, just trump everything else and we tend to diminish the other things as they happen along the way. Last January Tony and I were legally married by Vermont Supreme Court Justice, Beth Robinson, in Montgomeryville, VT. You can read about that here, where I’ve posted photos. To add to the excitement of getting married in Vermont, we became part of a Hollywood documentary titled, The State of Marriage, that will be released sometime in the future. The producer, Jeff Kaufman, was wonderful, and so was the entire crew. But to be honest the actual marriage ceremony trumped everything else so much I didn’t even realize there were cameras in the room. If you’re thinking about getting married and doing it a little differently, I highly suggest going up to Montgomeryville. It was very simple, not too much red tape, and the little town is fantastic. Some of the best skiing on the east coast is up there.

Even though the wedding was monumental, in spite of the fact that we’ve been together for 23 years, the ride home was a little disappointing. We drove through several states where we were still legally married, only to return to Bucks County, PA, which is right across the border of New Jersey (we live a mile from NJ where marriage was legal), where we still weren’t considered legally married on a state or federal level. Thankfully, and I don’t use that word lightly, that all changed as 2014 moved forward thanks to Judge John E. Jones III for ruling that the ban against gay marriage in PA was unconstitutional. As I look back on these posts to which I’m linking it all seems so foreign now, as if there never had been a marriage ban in the first place. And look around: the world didn’t end, the rapture didn’t happen, and everyone is living their lives the same way they did before.  And not one single Christian was sacrificed so a gay couple could get married.

As for work, I had a great year and accomplished many projects and met all deadlines in spite of the family health issues. Not a day passed without a new blog post. There were times during the summer when I worked well into the middle of the night on books that I had to deliver to publishers, but I finished them and learned that I can write under stress as well as when everything is smooth and calm. In fact, I think I prefer working under a certain amount of pressure.

Aside from all this, the goal for me has always been to move forward as a writer and try to remain relevant in an industry that is constantly changing. Five or six years ago e-publishers were all the rage. Not so much anymore. Self-publishing has popped a good deal of that bubble and authors are going indie faster than I can post this to the blog. I’ll always write gay erotica, but not everything I write in the future will be gay erotica from this point forward. One of the main reasons why I’ve always supported straight women writing gay fiction is that I want the opportunity to write in other genres, too. I have a few surprises in store for 2015 with books I’ve revised and changed almost completely. They were books I’d written for a publisher a while back and I had all the rights reverted back to me late in 2014. I’ll post about them in the upcoming year.

Although it wasn’t a perfect year, 2014 was definitely a busy year. That’s the main reason why I slacked off on writing book reviews here on the blog. There just wasn’t enough time left at the end of the very short days. I haven’t been to goodreads in months, and I recently noticed reviews for “Chase of a Dream” in the abridged form on Amazon that left me a little speechless. That was the book I’d self-censored to remove the detailed sex scenes. I toned it down for readers who prefer less sex in romance novels and I think some were happy with that…at least from the reviews generated on Amazon most seem to be. I’d like to say I’m going to review more books in 2015, but I can’t promise that. There are still so many posts to write with new, fresh LGBT content it’s hard to prioritize, unless I get someone here to review for me.

Speaking of reviews, I have a new book coming out in 2015 that’s a sequel to “Fangsters.” And it was one review in particular that made me write the second book a little differently than the first. In the first book I wrote several scenes that contained rough sex between the vampires. I didn’t consider this by any means BDSM, or part of the BDSM lifestyle, but one reviewer (and the review was a good one; I’m not complaining) thought otherwise. That stunned me because I didn’t expect that kind of a response. I took for granted that everyone understand some aspects of gay erotica in the traditional sense. So I made a few changes in the second book and I hope I’ve allowed that one rough character to move forward in a more interesting way. It wasn’t that I was intimidated by the review. I thought about it and I agreed with the review, which is why I made that part of the focus in the second book.

In any event, I know I wasn’t the only one who had a rough time in 2014. So many people I know went through so many difficult periods I’m thankful my experiences weren’t any worse than they were. Even the online book community seemed to get more vicious than ever. At one point I didn’t think the attacks would stop. Some actually became litigious, which is something I didn’t think I’d ever see. And with that came about a new brand of intolerance for free speech, which is a shame, because the original argument had nothing at all to do with free speech. Once again, bloggers took the biggest hit and we’re still not sure where this will end. The courts often have an interesting way of treating bloggers.

It was an fast-paced year and even though I’m glad to see it go, I’m thankful for so many things that happened I can’t even list them all here. Looking back, I think the good was balanced with the bad, to a certain extent. I even won something, which is not something that usually happens to me. I usually can’t find my keys, or my phone is missing, or I left the door open in the car all night by accident. I’m used to that kind of thing, so when I actually do win something I’m stunned.

And even that story comes with some irony. Pop star, Trevor Donovan, posted an update on Facebook last week that asked people what their favorite Christmas gift story was. I normally don’t even comment on those things, but I did have a favorite Christmas story and I shared it.When I was in college I worked part time in a men’s clothing store. There was a scarf I wanted, but at the time I couldn’t afford it. On Christmas Eve, during an employee party, a women co-worker handed me a package and inside was the scarf I’d told her I couldn’t afford. It was such a nice gesture I never forgot it and I still have the scarf somewhere in my closet to this day.

And now I have a new favorite Christmas story: the one where I won a ski hat from Trevor Donovan for writing about my favorite Christmas story. I like happy endings like that. That’s me in the hat above, in my horrible selfie. Unfortunately, my bad selfies don’t have much hope for HEA. 

I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful New Year.

If there’s one thing I learned this year, use the good china and don’t save it for later.

   

A Fool’s Opinion on HIV; Coke Bans Gay

A Fool’s Opinion on HIV

I hadn’t planned on posting anything too exciting today because I’m getting ready for the road trip to Vermont to get married, and it’s cold as freak here. But when I saw this absolutely idiotic, self-indulgent piece of garbage in Huff Po about people with HIV I had to at least post a few comments that might disabuse the person who wrote it of a few misconceptions that seem to be based on inexperience. And he doesn’t just mention people with HIV. He even gets into people with cancer and other serious illnesses. Maybe I’m a little overly sensitive to these things right now because I’ve been following the ongoing emotional health crisis with authors TJ Klune and Eric Arvin. Not to mention a serious health issue I’m dealing with right now with a family member that started around the day after Christmas. But then again, I don’t really think I’d feel that differently if these issues weren’t happening all around me.

The author of the article to which I’m linking is Mike Alvear. It states he’s written a few books, near his byline. I haven’t read them, nor do I plan to read them in the near future. I also know nothing about him other than what he wrote in this article, which basically states he’s sick and tired of hearing people with HIV, or anyone with any serious health issue, talk about how their disease helped make them better people.

If I hear one more HIV-positive man tell me he’s “grateful” for the disease because it made him a more peaceful, loving, open, honest person, I’m going to scream. Those afflicted by disease, any disease, whether it’s cancer or HIV, have taken a pernicious slide toward rationalizing their conditions as something “necessary” for them to achieve some kind of enlightenment.

I’ve been lucky enough in life to have avoided anything major with my health, but I knock on wood when I say that and I’m grateful for THAT all the time. I know what it’s like to see people around me lose their good health and in a matter of moments entire lives change in ways people never expected. And yes, that’s life. Sooner or later we are, indeed, all going to deal with one thing or another. However, I have also seen, first hand, how people have changed and evolved for the better because of their illnesses, and how they have become more enlightened and more peaceful, as a result of their health issues. Sometimes it takes a while to reach that point after diagnosis, but I have seen it happen more often than not. And this has nothing to do with minimizing something as serious as HIV or cancer. This is about learning how to live with, and deal with, something that has the potential to change you forever. And if someone tells me he or she is grateful for the disease because it helped take them closer to self-actualization, I’m thrilled for them.

In the article Alvear does mention a personal tragedy, and he had me wondering at that point…hoping there would be something more to the article than just negativity and this selfish, privileged inexperienced voice lacking empathy. But even with his own intense disclosure, the article continued to devolve to the point where if I did have a serious health issue and I did feel as if I’d become more enlightened because of it I would feel pretty awful by the end of the article.

He also slams Oprah, Deepak, and even Lance Armstrong. I don’t think he’s lived long enough, or has gone through enough in life, to fully understand the magnitude of taking on a topic like this. He should stick to writing books on being a good bottom instead of topics that require sensitivity and emotion. This is just another example of how the wrong people get a platform sometimes. I have personally seen people in full blown AIDS. I know what happens each step of the way. I’ve also seen this with cancer, from beginning to end.

Alvear draws this “humble” conclusion:

Here’s what I say to all my HIV-positive friends: Don’t be grateful. Don’t carry the burden of trying to make HIV your friend. Like all friends, it’ll expect you to be loyal and introduce it to your other friends.

While HIV is not your friend, it isn’t your enemy either. It just is. Learning to deal with it is an admirable accomplishment, but please, don’t tell us it’s a gift, or that your grateful.

Here’s what I say to my HIV positive friends, or anyone in a health crisis: if you think being HIV positive has made you a more enlightened person, and this kind of gratitude helps you deal with your disease, you have all my support and more. There are NO words I can say to make it better, so the best I can do is support you no matter what that entails. If you’re grateful for your disease, I’m in no position to judge you or anyone else, and neither is Mike Alvear.

You can read more here.

The comment thread is interesting. Most people reacted the same way I did. My heart ached for some.

One person wrote this:

I agree with some of the statements he makes, but others make my blood boil,
Some concepts that are unrelatable to anyone but those that have had that experience are difficult to talk about..


For me, the key word in that comment is experience, something Alvear clearly lacks. Again, he should stick to books about being a bottom.

Coke Bans Gay

Coke has a new marketing plan in South Africa that includes sharing a virtual can of Coke on social media, but the word “gay” has been banned.

Should a user attempt to personalise the can with “gay” on the Share a Coke website, the error message will read: “Oops. Let’s pretend you didn’t just type that.”

 Other banned words include sex, fuck, homo and dyke. The website does not, however, ban the word “straight.”

Coke is a sponsor of the Russian Olympics and has made no comments on Russia’s anti-gay laws.

You can read more here.

Side note: I know far more people who drink bottled water than soda. And that trend seems to be continuing as each year passes.

Pre-release Review: A Young Widow’s Promise

This is the first time I’ve ever had a pre-release review for anything. In fact, I’m very bad about soliciting reviews and don’t do it often. But last week, when the publisher sent me the ARC for this novella, I received an e-mail from Amos Lassen literally on the same exact day by coincidence…about something that had nothing to do with A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE. I know he does review all LGBTQ books, but I always thought of him as more literary. And because I’m crossing genres this time with this novella, I’ve been worried about how I’m going to promote it. So I decided to ask Amos if he’d be willing to review A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE, and he graciously agreed.

Though Amos has reviewed a couple of my books over the years, again, I always thought of him as a reviewer who concentrated more on LGBTQ literary fiction rather than m/m erotic romance. And A YOUNG WIDOW’S PROMISE isn’t even considered m/m romance, let alone LGBTQ literary fiction. It’s a pg rated m/f historical romance with a gay subplot that I thought was important to the storyline. I’ve written other m/f pg rated romances in many different sub-genres, but this is the first time I’m doing it without using a pen name. And when Amos agreed to review this, I was thrilled that he’d actually take the time to do it.

Here’s a link to Amos Lassen’s web site, and the review is below.

Field, Ryan. “A Young Widow’s Promise”, Loveyoudivine.com, 2011.

The Civil War ala Ryan Field

Amos Lassen

Living in the South, it is hard not to be a Civil War buff and in fact every day I pass a couple of monuments and battle sites. Southerners are proud people and just as they do not forget what some refer to as the Great War; they also erect monuments to battles that they lost. It’s a strange life.

Every once in a while I like a good Civil War book (or as you Yankees call the conflict, The War Between the States). There is something very romantic about the period just as there is something very romantic about the old South. Of course, any novel about the Civil War will be inevitably compared to the great “Gone with the Wind”—well, maybe this one won’t as it is being released only as an ebook for now (on October 29). I must compliment Ryan Field for undertaking such a project because to write a period novel, a lot of research is required and if you have been following Field’s blog, you know that he did his share. He does not disappoint. Ryan Field is one of the most prolific writers around so I am sure it was not easy to take the time to do the research for this book and his research is evident. Life in the 1800’s was very much different than it is today to be sure, but it is the little nuances of life that capture our attention. If an author makes a mistake about the period he is writing about, someone will call him on it. (No Ryan, you on the back and say “Job well done”).

Ryan Field’s extremely readable writing style is evident here and while I cannot say much about the plot, I am going to say that once I sat down to read, I read straight through the day. And since I have used the word straight already, I will say that this is a book about a straight romance between a man and a woman. But do not throw your arms up in despair—there is a gay subplot.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that we see the author’s versatility as a writer here. I knew that he also writes straight novels under another name yet here he brings the two genres together and the result is very satisfying. You notice that I have avoided talking about the plot and the characters but there is a “method to my madness”. Rarely do I give a book an advance rave without talking about the story but that is what I am doing here. I have too often been accused of saying too much about a story so I am saying nothing except you will learn about lawn mowers. Take my word for it—you will enjoy it totally—not just because of the plot and the characters but because Ryan Field is a wonderful writer who never ceases to surprise. I want you to have the same surprises I had. I know some of you will say that this is a cursory review and it is. Let’s wait until some of you have a chance to share the story and then we’ll talk about it. In the meantime, put it on your “To Read” lists and preorder it. You won’t be sorry.