Robin Roberts Inspires; Pretty Boy Dead Best Book; Wicked Gay Blog

Robin Roberts Inspires

In the summer of 2007 Robin Roberts disclosed she had breast cancer. By August 2007 she had surgery and the follow up treatments she underwent continued into 2008. At the time, I followed her story closely because that same summer Tony was going through his life/death crisis. And the bravery Roberts showed during her own crisis left an impact on me personally and I think helped give me a sort of indirect support to deal with all the things I was going through that summer. She was a huge inspiration to me, and I never forgot that. And once again, Roberts recently became an inspiration to millions of LGBT people in disclosing that she’s a lesbian and has been with the same woman for ten years.

Unfortunately, Roberts was diagnosed with a bone marrow disease in 2012 and it gutted me to hear that after all she went through with breast cancer she had to deal with something else. You’d think once in a lifetime would be enough, but we all know that’s not how it works. Once again, Roberts has showed the same strength, dignity, and grace she showed while battling breast cancer.

On December 29, 2013, Roberts came out on Facebook:

 “At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude. I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health…I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.” Roberts and Amber Laign, a massage therapist, have been together for 10 years. This was the first time Roberts publicly acknowledged her longstanding same-sex relationship.

You can read more here. Photo is in the Public Domain.

The support I’ve seen for Roberts has also been inspiring. This isn’t just fandom. It goes way deeper than that.

 Pretty Boy Dead Best Book

I usually don’t post these things because I find that any best book list tends to be fundamentally flawed at best, and highly subjective at worst. In small genres like M/M Romance where there are thousands of wonderful “best” books, best book lists also put writer against writer and book against book in ways I don’t always think are fair. It’s also a way for aggressive book bloggers to promote themselves and garner hits. As a small, humble blogger I absolutely refuse to do these things to exploit authors. I don’t mind doing it to other bloggers. But not to authors.

In the same respect, there are exceptions to every rule. The reason I’m mentioning the book, Pretty Boy Dead, by Jon Michaelsen, is because sometimes book bloggers do get it right and sometimes best books are given the credit they deserve. As it happens, I’m right in the middle of reading Pretty Boy Dead and it’s such a great book I wanted to post something about it. There’s a “best” book post up at the now defunct Jessewave web site, and Pretty Boy Dead is listed as one of the best books of 2013. In this case, I couldn’t agree more with this choice.

You can read more here. Along with Pretty Boy Dead, there’s a list of other best books for 2013. Some I read, some are excellent choices. But one or two leave me wondering…without the ambition to comment further because they’re so bad. Like I said, it’s all highly subjective. 

Wicked Gay Blog

Once in a while I come across a blog that’s for gay men that makes me smile. In this case, it’s a blog titled, Wicked Gay Blog, and you can check it out here.

I’m not going to link to any post right now because I like the whole package as far as blogging goes. I just want to give examples in a general sense to nudge people over there. There are posts about gay news, posts that are more personal, and topics discussed that are geared for gay men without a hint of judgment. And the photos are excellent, too. I have no idea how they get permission to use these photos, but I can only assume they have taken copyright into consideration, they are aware of how litigious people can be nowadays, and they know what they are doing.

They do have ads, but I don’t find them intrusive or annoying. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

What’s A Gay Otter? GRL 2013; Gay Marriage NJ

What’s A Gay Otter?

If you’ve never heard the term “Otter” before with respect to gay culture, don’t worry about it. I didn’t even know what it was until recently. I asked Tony what it was; he didn’t know. And at a small dinner party recently I asked  a table of eight filled with LGBT people and none of them knew. Everyone knew the term “Bear,” but not Otter.

And that’s because Otter is actually a term that’s part of Bear sub-culture. Urban Dictionary describes Otter this way:

A fuzzy adorable sexually aggressive and playful sex object that is highly sought after.
For those who don’t know what a gay Bear is, the link below has a good explanation. And it also mentions Otter as a sub-culture.
It’s titled A Handy Guide to All Gay Men
The gay world is often represented as some sort of monolithic whole that has the same culture. That is a lie. It is actually broken down into a handful of substrata to which each gay belongs. Here they are.
Here’s what they say about Bears:
Body Type
: Large, hairy, often with facial hair
Description: The bigger, generally older subset of the population is new but increasingly popular both in the community and pop culture. They have their own social calendar that is well populated with events to support the flannel-clad butch lifestyle of beards and beer guts.
The article goes on to mention other categories of gay men, but I’m not actually certain where I would fit. If I had to go by the process of elimination and be totally honest I’d probably be what they consider an “Art Fag.”
You can read more here. It’s also interesting because in all the categories and sub-categories they mention brief descriptions, and one description is top or bottom. All state bottom. So for those who think top or bottom isn’t a big thing in gay culture…or it shouldn’t be a big thing in gay fiction…you might want to double check to see if the information you have about gay culture is accurate.
As a side note, when I was in college, before I met Tony, I met a nice-looking thin guy at The Roxy. We went back to his apartment and to my surprise he removed all his clothes the minute we walked inside. The first thing I noticed was that he had fuzz all over his body. Fuzz on his chest, legs, arms, back, and neck. He even had fuzz at the tops of his shoulders and his knuckles. Just fuzz. So when he asked me if I wanted anything, I smiled and replied, “I think I left the lights on in my car.” And I got out of there as fast as I could, as politely as I could. I guess he would have been considered an Otter.
GRL 2013
An author friend I’ve known since the early days of e-publishing when I first started writing for the now defunct e-publisher, attended Gay Rom Lit 2013 (GRL), in Atlanta this past weekend and he’s doing a two part blog post series on the events and all things book related pertaining to GRL. His name is Jon Michaelsen and I’ve read and reviewed his gay mystery/suspense books a few times here on the blog.

Attendees also got the opportunity to ask questions of the panel, which proved to be very focused on specific series penned by the authors and questions about future releases. I found it personally interesting when JP Bowie described while writing the books in his Portrait series of mystery and mayhem with protagonists Peter Brandon and Jeff Stevens, how secondary characters introduced later in the series grew larger than life and demanded their own series, thus Nick Fallon Investigations was created and now spans four wonderful novels.

You can read the first post in full, here. Since I don’t know much about GRL I found it to be a good, fast read that talks about books and publishing, which is what I’ve always been told these events revolve around. I haven’t seen many other articles about GRL yet, at least not with respect to books publishing. If anyone has any links, feel free to e-mail them to me.
Gay Marriage NJ
Last night, at midnight, Gay Marriage became legal in New Jersey. I saw on my local Philadelphia news channel that only one mile away from me, in Lambertville, NJ, gay couples were gathering at midnight to celebrate at the city hall where there was a big reception. Lambertville, like New Hope, PA, has a large LGBT community. I’m thrilled for them. But imagine the way it would feel to live in Pennsylvania, only one mile away from a state where gay marriage is legal, and not be considered equal.
This article discusses some of the confusion they are experiencing in NJ.

Several couples planned to marry minutes after the state began recognizing the unions. Yet other said they had not been able to get a license. New Jersey law requires that couples wait three days between obtaining a license and getting married.

“There’s a lot of mass confusion and it boils down to the fact that the state should have issued guidance a week ago,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality.

We should all be so lucky to experience that brand of confusion.

Photo Here 


Gay Bombing in Atlanta by Jon Michaelsen

Gay Bombing in Atlanta by Jon Michaelsen

It’s gay history month, and I’ve been reading a lot about the more publicized events and people that made history and helped shape gay culture, but I’ve also been looking for some of the less publicized events as well…things we don’t hear about as often but were just as significant. And in this essay by gay author, Jon Michaelsen, I found something I didn’t know. And it sets the stage for a lot of the fear and PTSD many gay people have learned to live with as well as a result of hate and crimes against gays. It’s not spoken about often…or at least not as often as it should be…but events like the following affects us far more than we realize at the time, and in some cases may affect the rest of our lives.

The essay, a true story, describes a violent incident in Atlanta, GA, where a lesbian bar was attacked with a bomb in 1997. And when you read about how this bombing affected the author it’s indicative of the way these incidents affect everyone in the gay community. I’ve experienced these emotions myself on many occasions.

When I heard about the bombing the morning after, I felt an incredible fear, first for my possible friends who might have been in the bar that night, then as the day wore on, a gnawing, painful anxiety that had reached to my very core of my soul. It was though members of my family -my extended family – had been directly targeted and harmed simply because of whom they were, whom they chose to love. In the most harrowing, cowardly fashion, some sick, bigoted, ignorant, weak coward (and a few more choice words best not printed here…) had come out to kill us, our community in a failed attempt to proclaim we did not matter.

You can read the rest of the piece here. Michaelsen even offers a quote from the bomber, Eric Rudolph, that shows how deeply the hate sometimes goes. Rudolph, a serial bomber, has also been referred to as the Olympic Park Bomber.

Jon Michaelsen is a published author of gay fiction and his published works consist of erotic gay romance, and gay mystery/suspense. I’ve reviewed him a few times, here and here.

And here’s a NYT link to more about the bombing in 1997.

Review: Switch Hitter by Alex Morgan & Jon Michaelsen

I was thrilled when the authors, Alex Morgan and Jon Michaelsen, asked me to read a pre-release copy of Switch Hitter for several reasons. One, I’ve been a fan of Jon Michaelsen’s LGBT fiction for a long time. And two because I’ve never read anything by Alex Morgan. I also recently finished Maya Angelou’s autobiography and that’s a tough act to follow, so to speak.

I read the digital version of Switch Hitter all in one sitting last night. But it is about one hundred pages long and it can be spread out over a period of time just as nicely. I just had the time last night, so I decided to read it in full, which isn’t something I normally do. From page one the main character, Jase Dockery, drew me into the story and kept me fascinated for the rest of the evening.

Jase is a professional baseball player who rides a motorcycle and tries to live slightly on the dangerous side. But I found him more cautious than wild at times…in spite of how much he seems to crave more excitement in his life. This is partly because his life is so complicated as a public figure, and partly because in order to satisfy his needs he has to figure out ways to trick his bodyguard into thinking he’s sleeping when he’s really out on the prowl. The extent to which some gay men are forced to hide the truth about themselves was handled in a normal and realistic way, and by no means did I ever feel it was contrived.

In Jase’s case, he joins a private “establishment” to satisfy both his physical needs and emotional needs. This one sentence from the book sums up his life:

“Jase knew fans would never accept his sexuality, nor understand his desire for authority and dominance.”

Without getting into spoilers, this need to be dominated by a strong man makes Jase even more cautious…almost as if he’s working overtime to protect all his secrets. But then he meets someone named “Cap” who is interested in protecting his own privacy, too, because Cap is the captain of a S.W.A.T. team. It’s an instant attraction for Jase and Cap and the story moves forward in an interesting way from there…with some highly intense, emotional erotic scenes that pay attention to detail that didn’t leave me wanting more. Once again, it didn’t feel contrived.

There are a few baseball focused scenes in the book, but just enough to promote the jock aspect of the story. Like most gay men, I like reading jock stories, but I don’t want those stories to be all about the sport. In this book, the baseball scenes don’t drag out like some sports themed books I’ve read before that tend to become self-indulgent. In other words, you get just as much as you need to know with regard to Jase and his circumstances as a jock.

From here, it’s hard for me to go into anymore detail without spoiling the story, so I’ll just add that Jase encounters a stalker, and this stalker winds up doing something to Jase that’s beyond everyone’s worst fear. At this point I knew I’d have to finish the book in one sitting just to find out what happened.

One of the most interesting things about this book is something I’ve discussed before, both here on the blog and in a recent publication I was in titled, “50 Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey.” The reason I’m mentioning this now is that I actually wrote about this issue with regard to BDSM in the book “50 Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey,” and never thought I’d wind up reading something like Switch Hitters that actually poses a good example of what my essay talked about. At the time I wrote my essay, I wish there had been a book like Switch Hitter for me to reference as an example.

One of the things I discovered while researching reviews and reader reaction to the BDSM book, Fifty Shades of Grey, was that readers who know about the BDSM lifestyle were put off by the fact that the BDSM scenes weren’t handled well. However, with Switch Hitters the BDSM scenes were not only handled well, the authors nailed one of the most difficult things anyone can do while writing BDSM erotica, and in a very clever way.

They did this by showing how Jase is into the BDSM lifestyle and how he does want it, but on his own terms and with the man of his choice. He doesn’t want to be forced into it against his own will. And in the scenes where Jase encounters his stalker and he does find himself forced into doing things he doesn’t want to do, the context of the BDSM scenes becomes something completely different for him. It’s different for the reader as well. I found myself loving the consensual BDSM scenes when Jase wanted them to happen, and I found myself cringing during the peculiar scenes when Jase was forced to do things against his own will. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a better example, in the same book, of the difference between consensual BDSM and non-consensual BDSM. This line below says it all:

“Jase, furious at his treatment and galled at the shapeless man on top of him, remained motionless. This was one action he could refrain from performing.”

This all creates a great deal of both suspense and emotion, with regard to how Jase views himself and his own private needs. And what is often an intense dichotomy, especially in the middle of the story, keeps the reader on the edge the entire time, wondering how things are going to turn out.

If I post this review on Amazon or GR, I’m giving it five stars. It’s sexy, romantic, authentic to gay fiction, and has all the erotic elements that move a good story forward. I don’t have all the product info right now, but I will update this post when I get it. The book will be available for purchase on April 19, 2013. You can follow author Jon Michaelsen here on facebook to keep up with his updates.

Update: Here’s a link to read more about Alex Morgan.

Blog Hop: The Next Big Thing and The Vegas Shark

The Blog Hop in the title of this post, The Next Big Thing, has nothing to do with the size of body parts. It’s a chain of authors talking about the books on which they are currently working. From what I gather, it’s not genre specific and all kinds of authors are participating.

Unfortunately, I asked three different authors if they were interested and none got back to me. No problem. I understand that. We’re all busy and it’s understandable. But I decided to do it because things like this actually help me with the writing process. I often get ideas just by answering questions like this. And it came around at a good time for me because I’d finished my newest novel over the holidays and that broke my regular routine…which I hate doing…because of all the days off I had to take. I felt a little disconnected to this book, and the questions put things into perspective for me.

In any event, here are the questions and my answers. I’m linking back to Jon Michaelsen’s blog because he’s the one who tagged me and at least you’ll have somewhere else to go to read other questions and answers. And I’m not going to name the authors who didn’t get back because that would be a bitchy thing to do. And again, it’s no problem for those who didn’t reply to me. I do understand.

What is the working title of your book?

It’s tentatively titled, “The Vegas Shark.” I say tentatively because sometimes the publisher wants something else at the final hour and I’m usually in agreement with them.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This particular book came from a brainstorming session with Ravenous Romance owner, Holly Schmidt. She asked if I’d like to write a new series on “Rakes,” and concentrate on modern day billionaire bad boys, and I loved the idea. Up until then I’d written a few not so nice characters, but never really any bad boys…the ones we all love to hate. So we came up with a list, and “The Vegas Shark” is the third book in the series.

What genre does your book fall under?

Gay Erotic Romance, or LGBT Erotica

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s very simple. I consciously thought about two actors while writing the book. That doesn’t always happen, but in this case it did. The part of Treston, who is a sweet young male stripper, would be Matt Bomer. The bad boy billionaire-gambler-real-estate-tycoon, Chad Pratt, would be Brad Pitt. I’d also like to add that while I have openly written novels that were parodies of heterosexual romances like “Pretty Man”…I’ve always been up front about this, and I’ve never parodied anything LGBT like Brokeback Mountain or any Gay film and I never will do that…this novel is not a parody and it is not based on any film. I just kept picturing Brad Pitt as Chad Pratt. And the name Chad Pratt was not an accident.  And who wouldn’t want to fantasize about Matt Bomer and Brad Pitt falling in love?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A good-natured young gay man has had enough of all the bad boys he’s ever fallen in love with, until he finally meets the one bad boy he might be able to change.

Will your book be self-published?

No. It’s going to be published with, a small e-book publisher of erotic romance. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About five weeks.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t compare it to any because I don’t read many books within my genre. Those I do read are usually recommended by authors I know or authors I’ve heard about.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

At first I hesitated about doing the bad boy series. It was also an eight book contracted series and I’ve reached a point where I don’t like to commit to that many books anymore. So it’s probably the last time I will ever commit to that many books at one time again with anyone. But I’d never written about really rotten, truly nasty men who don’t care about anyone but themselves. But then thought about it and figured it would be a great challenge. So I guess fear of the unknown was the inspiration. The interesting part about writing this series is the love and the relationship between the two main characters has to build slowly.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s a scene where young Treston, the male stripper, shoots ping pong balls out of a very interesting part of his body: his ass. Not literally, but figuratively. It’s erotic romance; I had fun with it. I’m not going for a Pulitzer here, I’m not trying to write the great American novel, I’m not going for emotional cheese, and I’m not too grand to have a little fun. That’s what books for escapism should be about…for me. My character came up with this act in order to keep his male strip shows different. It’s sort of his, as they say in the play “Gypsy,” gimmick. And although it’s not the infamous burping dick I once wrote about in “American Star,” I’m sure it will piss off a few who don’t have a sense of humor. But I think most will smile.

Photo: This one is from, and I believe it’s Hoover Dam. I added it on purpose, because there’s a specific scene in “The Vegas Shark” that takes place at Lake Mead where the MC learns a good lesson about having sex in public places. No spoilers. Blog post about sex in public places to follow soon.