Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chik Fil-A: Choosing Sides To Go With That Chicken...

 I don't think there's anyone with access to a computer and the Internet who doesn't know about the hubbub going on with Chik Fil-A, the Holy Roller of the fast food industry. Since everyone's talking about it, and I figured I might as well throw my two cents out there.

Chik Fil-A is a Christian-owned company, and their CEO recently admitted publically that he and his company support, both in spirit and financially, anti-gay groups. Like many people and institutions who wave the Bible to support their views, they pick and choose only those biblical references that give credence to their hate, and ignore the rest. 

Here's the thing -- it's their right to do. We humans with moral compasses might not agree, but they are entitled to funnel their profits into whatever group's pocket they wish, including Neo-Nazis for Christ (if such a group exists, and I have no idea if they do). That's Chik Fil-A's prerogative.  They can also refuse to hire, or fire anyone based on their sexual orientation. Until laws are put into place on the federal level, there's not a damn thing you, I , or anyone else can do about it. 

At the moment, gay rights are not protected by law. Florida, for example, is a Right to Work state, which means it is perfectly legal (as much as it sucks big, fat, hairy donkey balls) to fire someone because of their sexual orientation. It is equally legal to fire someone because of their weight, the model car they drive, their hairstyle, or for no reason at all. People who fall under the federal anti-discrimination laws (color, sex, religion, or disability) cannot be fired for reasons pertaining to their protected statuses. For everyone else, terminations for trivial reasons can be fought in court, but it's expensive, and the odds are good that you'd lose anyway.However, it is my prerogative not to put a dime of my money into their accounts, and that means not buying food at Chik Fil-A. Less profits mean fewer dollars to donate to anti-gay groups. 

Tomorrow, August 1st, people are planning all sorts of demonstrations involving Chik Fil-A. Those individuals who share Chik Fil-A's bigoted views are encouraged to march in and order up, showing their support. Those of us who disagree are urged to avoid Chik Fil-A like the plague. Some people plan to go into the stores and request a large glass of water (testing Chik Fil-A's Christian principles, in particular, Proverbs 25:21, which states in essence, if your enemy is hungry or thirsty, give them food and water.
Okay, cool, but chances are good Chik Fil-A has heard of this, and already sent orders down through the ranks to deny no request for water, so I'm not sure what good such a protest going to do. For all I know, they may be ready to hand over a sandwich as well, if someone says they're hungry. 

The truth is that no display of solidarity is going to change Chik Fil-A's mind about its policies except one that hits them directly in their corporate pocketbook, and even then, we'll only truly stop them when we get the laws changed on the federal level to include discrimination against sexual orientation.    

Monday, July 30, 2012

Crepe Recipe and Book Excerpt by Cardeno C.

Happy Monday! For today’s blog post, I’m going to share an excerpt and a recipe. He Completes Me is a story about Zach, who hasn’t felt like he’s had a family since his father died when he was a child, and Aaron, who comes from a big family, has created a family with Zach’s relatives, and wants nothing more than to make his own family with Zach. There’s a scene in the book where Zach and Aaron cook breakfast at Zach’s brother’s house. I’ll share a bit of the scene and then my crepe recipe. I hope you enjoy both!

He Completes Me by Cardeno C. - Excerpt

“I’ll get the milk and strawberries out of the fridge. Do you want me to make the crepe batter, or should I sauté the spinach and onions?”
I walked over to the fridge and got the stuff out.
“And don’t fucking say you’re doing both. We’re making breakfast together. It’ll take half the time and then we’ll both get to relax and hang out.”
Aaron opened his mouth to object, but before he could say a word, I walked over to him, pulled his head down, and covered his lips with mine. He had an egg in one hand, but he took the other and rested it on the small of my back. I parted my mouth to let his tongue in and sucked on it.
When we finally separated, I whispered to him, “Don’t argue with me about this, Aaron, or you’ll have to give me a spanking when we get home.”
His eyes were glazed, and he panted out a response.
“I think you have that threat backward.”
I waggled my eyebrows at him.
“No, I don’t. Why shouldn’t I get a little bonus if you choose not to behave? Come to think of it, maybe you should spank me either way.”
He laughed.
“I’ll make the batter, you make the filling.”
“That’s more like it.”
I kissed his cheek. Then I rinsed the spinach and looked through the cabinets for a cutting board.
“There’s a narrow cabinet below and to the right of the sink. That’s where they keep the cutting board. The knives are in the block next to the stove. And the frying pan is in the deep drawer next to it.”
I got everything out and diced the onion. Aaron was stirring the batter and then got a crepe pan out of a drawer. We worked together in companionable silence. While we were standing next to each other in front of the stove, Aaron making crepes and me sautéing onions, I nudged him with my hip. He looked down at me, and I smiled.
“This is nice, Aaron.”
He sighed, smiled at me and, in a wistful voice, said, “Yeah, it is. It’s the best. I love you, Zach.”

Crepe Recipe

You can make these the night before to save time. Just mix together all the ingredients except the butter (add the butter before cooking).


Sift together dry ingredients:

· 2 cup flour
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 4 tablespoon sugar

Beat together wet ingredients:

· 4 eggs
· 2 cup whole milk
· Just shy of 2/3 cup water
· 6 tablespoon butter+ extra for pan
· 2 teaspoon vanilla

Slowly whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well incorporated and smooth. Pour some batter into a pitcher or glass measuring cup so it’s easy to pour into your crepe pan.

Heat pan on med-high with a little butter. Pour a small amount of batter (approximately two tablespoons), tilt the pan and rotate back and forth to make a thin layer all around. When the edges are cooked and the center has dried, loosen the edges and flip the crepe quickly. Cook the second side for a short time, just until done, and then remove from pan. Keep on makin’ more crepes.

Savory Filling:
Sauté onions in a little oil until they’re translucent. Add spinach and cover. When spinach is completely wilted, stir it with onions and add garlic. Put the spinach/onion sauté in a crepe and top with goat cheese or feta cheese.

Sweet Filling:
Slice bananas and strawberries. Spread Nutella and/or peanut butter on crepe and add a scoop of the strawberry/banana mix.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

More Music stuff! coming to you semi-live from T.C. Blue

This past week has been a bit on the crazy side, and despite my best intentions, I haven't had much opportunity to write anything interesting for the Cafe. I am, however, working on a piece for next week that will showcase the work of an amazing photographer whose exhibit ""Transcendents - exhibition by Cameron Wolf featuring SWING at the International AIDS Conference 2012" was one of the highlights of the conference for me. (Disclosure, here: Cameron is an old friend... by which I mean I've known him for a really long time. I'm not calling him 'old.' Haha! This in no way colors my opinion on his photographic work. He's amazing.)

In the meantime, I thought I'd mention music. Again. Now, I know I've mentioned song lyrics in the past (my own, rather than anyone else's), and last week was commentary on the social relevance of La Lambert. This week, I'm just going to mention some of the music I've been listening to for the last couple weeks. Again, full disclosure: I did a road trip to upstate NY the Monday before last and returned this past Monday, so there was lots of driving time and music listening going on. Also lots of energy drinks. Heh-heh. So here, in no particular order, are the records I most enjoyed during the long-ass drive.

Scissor Sisters: Magic Hour -- Okay, this one was a little expensive for me, but I love these guys so I bit the bullet and paid my money. I'm glad I did. :) This record has a really interesting retro feel to me that I very much enjoyed. Personal favorite tracks include 'Baby Come Home,' 'Only the Horses,' and 'Best In Me.' I know, I know... 'Let's Have a Kiki' is all over the place and people love it (so do I), but there's much more to this record than just that.

Blood on the Dance Floor: Evolution -- This group kicks ass. there's no other way to say it. They just do. They're heavily made-up (my friend in upstate thinks they look scary), and their sound is an appealing mix of styles, but ultimately, their message is that we all need love and that love is the most important and powerful thing on earth. (Okay, I'm possibly letting my own interpretation color things, here, but isn't that what music and other forms of art are for?) Personal faves: 'Hollywood Tragedy (feat. Shawn Brandon),' 'Love Conquers All (feat. Elena Vladi),' and 'The Right To Love.' BOTDF is fairly heavy on the elctronics for some, I suppose, but Evolution definitely helped the drive go by more quickly. Also, they were great at the Warped Tour this past Tuesday. Just saying. (There's a 'Warped Tour' 2-CD set available now. It's between 8 and 10 bucks, depending on where you get it, and has 50 songs from the bands taking part in the tour. If you like to hear new bands, you might want to get this one. never heard of many of them, but now I have, and I'm GLAD!)

Black Veil Brides: Set the World on Fire -- I love this record. Seriously. And not just because I have a strong fondness for pretty boys wearing makeup. 'Rebel Love Song' is probably my favorite track. Or maybe 'Die For You.' Possibly 'Youth and Whiskey.' It's hard to say. These guys rock and do it hard, though.

Foxy Shazam: The Church of Rock and Roll -- Pretty much this whole record works for me. The first three tracks (Welcome to the Church of Rock and Roll, I Like It, and Holy Touch) get things started off right and it just keeps going that way. These guys have found a really good balance in sound and meaning, so I recommend them VERY highly.

Finally, no list of driving-music would be complete without mention of this record-- Marilyn Manson: Born Villain. Granted, he may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this record is fucking awesome. Yes, I just said that. I love the lyrics on just about every song, and one thing I think everyone has to agree on is that Manson definitely has something to say. It's not always what people want to hear, but that doesn't make it any less valid. Mucially, this record rocked the drive and I'm very happy that I bought it. Children of Cain, Pistol Whipped, The Gardener, and Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day are probably my favorite tracks right now.

I listened to a whole lot of other music on the drive up and back, but these are the ones that were both new and really resonated for me. Check these bands out here:

Scissor Sisters: Only the Horses - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3m-XH1Kij0
Blood on the Dance Floor: Unforgiven - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPJ_AnmB9Yg
Black Veil Brides: Rebel Love Song - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl-_ZmNCOvo
Foxy Shazam: I Like It - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rz4I69mQMo
Marilyn Manson: the Gardener -

I know there's a way to post links that's less unwieldy. Promise to figure it out before next week! Haha!

Until then, guys... Have fun and be good to yourselves!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Have a Soapbox, and I'm Not Afraid to Use It.

Recently, there was a big kerfluffle on Facebook regarding one person libeling another, or rather an entire group of others. Now, I am personally familiar with several of this person's victims, and none of them deserve the crap spewed in their direction. Indeed, the person in question crossed the line into libel (written defamation) by blogging some horrible lies and unwarranted, untrue accusations about an m/m writer I know.

Here's the thing: some people seek fame by working hard on their craft, doing the work, taking the risk, and so forth.

Others take another, far less noble road. They are  viciously hateful, tearing down others in their profession, vomiting lies, all for the sole purpose of  generating a buzz. It's not fame they seek, but infamy.

For all the wonders of the Internet, including the ease of reaching so many people so quickly, it is a platform perfectly designed for bullies to flourish. The built-in anonymity of blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook, frees bullies to be as vitriolic as they wish without much fear of reprisal, and  to spread their hate to far more people than otherwise possible, all with a few keystrokes and mouse-clicks.

Cyberbullying can be even more hurtful than ordinary bullying because it's done on a world-wide scale. Gossip at the watercooler will only embarrass someone in the immediate vacinity; blog the same lies and the victim can be shamed globally.

The permanence of the Internet also works for bullies. Back at the watercooler, when something more interesting comes along, gossip dies and is forgotten, but nothing is ever completely gone once it is put online. It can come back to haunt you years later, because even if the original post is deleted, it probably still exists somewhere in one form or another.

Something needs to be done about people who use social networks and blogs to bully and defame. As a writer, I'm all for free speech, but there is a difference between stating your opinion and tainting someone's reputation with malicious lies, and perhaps injuring their career.

Well, okay. I said what I needed to say. I'm going to pick up my soapbox before somebody trips on it, and call it a day.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Song Inspirations by Cardeno C. (Dos)

Happy Monday! This week is the second of my posts about the songs that inspired my book titles. Sometimes it was the lyrics, sometimes it was the tone of the song, but one way or another, these songs connected, in my mind, with the stories I was trying to write.

Love at First Sight: “Love at First Sight” by Kylie Minogue.

Love at First Sight is the story of Jonathan and David. Okay, so saying it’s “the” story of Jonathan and David is more than a little outrageous. But it’s at least “a” story about Jonathan and David, 
and in this one, there’s a happy ending. *

Jonathan is a young man who considers himself to be very average. He has a knack for getting himself into trouble, and when the story starts, Jonathan is having one of those unlucky days. He’s visiting New York, gets injured, then gets lost in the hospital. When he looks up, he sees David. And just like that, everything goes from wrong to right and Jonathan stares at the man he immediately knows is his future. Though he realizes right away he and the stranger are meant to be together, he loses track of David that first day and it takes him years to find the man again. But just as he is giving up his search, not knowing what he’ll do with his life, David reappears, and this time he is back to stay.

With that introduction in mind, you can see why Kylie Minogue’s Love at First Sight felt very much like it fit this story.

Thought that I was going crazy Just havin' one those days yea 
Didn't know what to do Then there was you 
And everything went from wrong to right 
And the stars came out to fill up the sky 
The music you were playin' really blew my mind 
It was love at first sight 
'Cause baby when I heard you 
For the first time I knew We were meant to be as one 
I was tired of running out of luck Thinkin' 'bout giving up, 
yea Didn't know what to do 
Then there was you

(*If you’re wondering what I’m talking about here, I recommend a quick Google search for David and Jonathan and all will be clear.)

Just What the Truth Is: "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues

Just What the Truth Is is a love story, of course, but it's also a coming out story. Ben meets and falls in love with Micah and he sees the possibility of living the type of life he’s always wanted - a life he can share with someone, where they can walk together hand in hand; a life where he can appreciate the beauty around him, rather than living in fear of his family and friends figuring out who he is. But obtaining that life looks easier from the outside than it feels to Ben, who has had a lifetime of hearing his parents state their negative thoughts about gay people, including Ben’s brother.

 Ben is tired and overwhelmed. He feels like nobody can understand exactly what he’s going through and what he’ll have to give up if he comes out. But with Micah by his side, Ben eventually realizes that the only way for him to find his happiness and be who he wants to be in the end, is to own his truth.

The lyrics, the somber tone, and the passionate music in the Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin fit this story perfectly.

Nights in white satin never reaching the end 
Letters I've written never meaning to send 
Beauty I'd always missed with these eyes before 
Just what the truth is I can't say any more
'Cause, I love you Yes, I love you Oh, how I love you
Gazing at people, some hand in hand 
Just what I'm going through, they can't understand 
Some try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend 
Just what you want to be, you'll be in the end 
And I love you Yes, I love you Oh, how I love you, oh I love you

Places in Time: “A Place in Time” by Amanda Abizaid

Places in Time is a shorty story I wrote for Dreamspinner's time travel daily dose. Jude and Ethan have been friends for decades, but it takes a trip back through time for Jude to see his own feelings through a different lens. Their friendship consists of places in time stretched over decades and it ultimately leads them to find their place in time as a couple. Amanda Abizaid’s A Place in Time has a great surreal feel to it that perfectly matches a story meant to have a bit of an other-worldly element.

So long ago, another life I can feel your heartbeat   
It's not a dream, remember us I could see it in your eyes
We'll find our place in time A place in time, beyond the sun
We'll find our place in time A place in time to call our own

Three more stories, three more songs. For those of you who've read these stories and heard the songs, what do you think? Do they fit?


Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Importance of Being Lambert? by T.C. Blue

Hello, hello, all! Thanks for stopping by, and sorry this post wasn't up at the shiny crack of midnight. Heh-heh. I've had to make an unexpected visit to my best friend's in upstate NY, which means my sense of time has become slightly skewed. That aside… I had nothing prepared for today. I'm a pantser rather than a plotter. (Perhaps that will be my topic for next week! Haha!)

As I did have nothing prepared, I'm going to ramble a bit on a topic most people who know me will find incredibly unlike me. That topic is, of course… Adam Lambert. Yes, I said Adam. Lambert.

Now, let me give a little backstory, here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Stereotyping Heroes – The Good, the Bad, and the Too Stupid To Live

Everyone loves a hero (or heroine). For the purpose of this post, let's stick with the masculine form of the word, only because heroes are what I happen to deal in.

Whether they wear tights and a cape, or a policeman's badge, wear a fireman's helmet or dog tags, heroes never fail to thrill us, warm our hearts, and just plain turn us on. The heroes I'm addressing in this post come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. They are the stars of the story, the man of the hour, the protagonist.

You'd think it would be easy to write a shining star of a hero, wouldn't you? I mean, just put in everything you ever wanted in a man -- good looks, great body, and a fantastic personality, right? Throw in loyalty, honesty, and a sense of humor; add in kindness, empathy, a love of all creatures great and small, and a healthy bank account, and you've got yourself a hero!

Wrong. What you've got is a stereotype. A bad one.

I hate to be the one to break the news, but the perfect man does not exist. Humans are built with flaws, every last damn one of us. Some of us tell white lies, or cheat on our income taxes or significant others, or harbor resentment of those in better social or financial situations. Others are overly concerned with their physical appearance, or overly critical of someone else's. Some folks eat too much, drink too much, smoke too much, fill-in-the-blank too much.

In short, we are a species riddled with flaws.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Song Inspirations by Cardeno C. (Uno)

Happy Monday! I hope you're all getting your week off to a good start. My post today was inspired by Amanda, who asked me to share the songs that inspire my story titles. So that's a double inspiration to start the day. I may try to order that at Starbucks and see what happens. 

To keep the length of this post manageable, I’m going to break it up. I’ll share a few story title inspiration lyrics today, a few more next week, and the week after that I’ll talk about the songs that inspired my upcoming releases. I'd love to hear from you if there are songs you think I should consider for future book inspirations.

Okay, now on with the post!

Home Again: "Love Song" by the Cure.  
When I was working on this story, I went back and forth between “Home Again” and "However Far Away, However Long I Stay" for the title. This story is told in two parts: (1) Noah and Clark meeting and falling in love, and (2) Noah and Clark coming back together after an absence. Through both parts, we learn that Clark and Noah are whole when they are together, that they are each other’s home, and that this didn’t change regardless of how far away they were.
Whenever I'm alone with you You make me feel like I am home again Whenever I'm alone with you You make me feel like I am whole again
Whenever I'm alone with you You make me feel like I am young again Whenever I'm alone with you You make me feel like I am fun again
However far away I will always love you However long I stay I will always love you Whatever words I say I will always love you I will always love you

Where He Ends and I Begin: "Where You End and I Begin" by Radiohead

Where He Ends and I Begin is a story of two men who have loved each other since birth, but neither realized that the other was in love with him as well. In many ways, this is a very traditional “fall in love with the boy next door” story line.
When I heard this Radiohead song, it made me think of Jake and Nate. Their love has always been (from when the dinosaurs roamed the earth), but there was a gap in between (twenty-eight years of devoted friendship before they each realized the depth of the other’s feelings). Once they share those feelings and put an end to, not so much lies, but misunderstandings, the men are up in the clouds and they’ll never come down. And anyone who has read the book can attest to the fact that they eat each other alive. Frequently.
There's a gap in between There's a gap where we meet Where I end and you begin
And I'm sorry for us The dinosaurs roam the earth The sky turns green Where I end and you begin
I am up in the clouds I am up in the clouds And I can't, and I can't come down
I can watch and not take part Where I end and where you start Where you, you left me alone You left me alone
X will mark the place Like the parting of the waves Like a house falling in the sea In the sea
I will eat you alive I will eat you alive I will eat you alive I will eat you alive
And there'll be no more lies There'll be no more lies There'll be no more lies There'll be no more lies
He Completes Me: "You Complete Me" by Keyshia Cole

He Completes Me is the story of Zach, a man who hasn’t felt the love of family since his father passed away as a teen, and Aaron, a man who wants desperately to be Zach’s family. If ever there were opposites, that’s Aaron and Zach, and yet, they compliment each other perfectly. Aaron helps Zach be the best man he can be and Zach helps Aaron find joy in his own life.
Can you hear me out there? Have you ever had someone who loved you Never leave your side? I know you'll be here because you love me, yes, you do
I'm givin' all my life and all my love if you Promise me that you'll be here forever I'll give you all of me, I'll give you everything If you promise me you'll never leave me
What my friends say don't matter. You'll be right here from the start And I'll get on my knees, I'll give you all of me If you never leave my side, because
You love me, you complete me You hold my heart in your hands And it's okay 'cause I trust that You'll be the best man that you can Baby, you love me, yeah, oh yes, you do, yeah
And no matter what they ever say about you I'm gonna stay by your side Promise me no matter what they say about me That you're gonna be here until the end of time
'Cause you held me down when nobody was around And gave me all the love I need So give me more, don't you ever leave' Cause you complete me
I know, you love me, you complete me You hold my heart in your hands And it's okay 'cause I trust that You'll be the best man that you can
'Cause you, give me my heart back Give me my love back, baby I want it all because it's never enough Give me my heart, give me my love back I want it all because it's never enough
You love me, you complete me You hold my heart in your hands And it's okay 'cause I trust that You'll be the best man that you can
You love me, you complete me You hold my heart in your hands And it's okay 'cause I trust that You'll be the best man that you can
And it's okay I know you do, I know you do Yes, you do, I need you, too Yeah, I love you, baby, ohh

Okay, so those are the first three books and the first three songs. What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Eric Arvin - Guest Author

Today we get to hear from Eric Arvin about his fun Jasper Lane series, which has been called a gay Desperate Housewives. If you haven’t checked it out yet, now is a great time because until midnight July 15th, if you order SuburbaNights (Book 3) from Dreamspinner Press, you’ll get SubSurdity (Book 1) for free, and Suburbilicious (Book 2) for 25% off. And if you want a little preview, check out the sizzling excerpt below.


We asked Eric what inspired him to write this series, and here’s what he said:

I wrote the first book on a dare. A writer friend of mine was a huge Desperate Housewives fan when the series first premiered, but I wasn't sold on the show. I declared that I could write for the program just as well as any of the writers who were working on it. Me and my big mouth. My friend challenged me to prove myself and so, I did. Or at least I tried. My dream neighborhood stars bitter queens and drag queens, porn stars and house moms, murder and sex, and hot gay men. I hadn't even intended on publishing the book until I received encouragement from friends and readers.

Here are some reviews of this series:

“You’ll never look at suburbia in the same way again…like a raunchier and racier Tales of the City, crossed with Augusten Burroughs’ first novel Sellevision with a good dose of Desperate Housewives thrown in… it’s full of life and laughs… Arvin handles the action like a maestro, his prose is fun and light, a complete pleasure to read, and it seems like only a matter of time until SubSurdity makes it to a screen near you.”—Charlotte Cooper, Gaydarnation

 “Anyone wise enough to purchase [SubSurdity] will most certainly enjoy the ride!”—J.L. Foster, author of Straight

“The perfect summer read—it’s light, it’s fun, and it will keep you reading. In fact, I have not had this much fun in a long time… this book should be at the top of your must-read list.” —Amos Lassen, Literary Pride

“Like Knots Landing crossing Tales of the City, this book is a winner in that it puts a humorous spin on the stories of its characters and the bubbly adventures in their lives. The Rest is Illusion was a wonderfully auspicious debut… and SubSurdity gives us a peek at why [Arvin is] here for the long haul.” —Carey Parrish, webdigestweekly.com

“Written with a crisp humorous dialogue that will at times make you laugh out loud you can easily get lost in the antics of these wacky neighbors.” —Nick Strathern, TLA Books

And now, the ADULT excerpt:

“EXCUSE me,” said the burly man as he stood in the open garage doorway. He was dressed in a brown delivery uniform that threatened to cut off circulation to his thick arms and legs. His face had a nicely trimmed dark beard, and he wore a brown hat.

Cliff had been moving boxes in the garage. He was dressed in a tank top and tiny useless blue jean shorts. He realized this was not the weather for such attire (his nipples were deadly from the chill), but the shorts just made him feel so damn sexy. His ass ate them up.

“Can I help you?” Cliff said. “A bit late to be making deliveries, isn’t it?” He looked the bearded man up and down. It was a familiar game. They were muscle men sizing each other up.

“I’m new,” the man said. “I got lost a while back. I was wondering if you might be able to help me.”

Cliff had seen this film before. He had been in this film before. And he loved it. “Sure. I can help.” He didn’t smile. He knew to keep it impersonal.

Cliff reached into the glove department of David’s car and pulled out a road map. He walked to the tool table slowly, letting his mass do the talking, and spread the map over the table as he bent over and spread his legs. He looked over his shoulder and gave the deliveryman admittance.

“What’s your name?” Cliff asked.

The deliveryman approached and stood just behind him. “Rock.”

“Of course it is.”

Cliff arched his ass slightly so that it was just past irresistible.

“Listen, man,” said Rock, “I’m straight. I just want directions.”

“Do you?” Cliff asked, loosening the jean cut-offs and letting them fall to the floor. Rock began breathing harder, looking angry.

Cliff backed his ass into the bulge in Rock’s pants, then moved his prized possession up and down the deliveryman’s package.

“I want that,” Cliff said. “I want that in me.”

“I told you,” said Rock, “I’m straight.”

“That’s not what your cock is saying. Shove it inside me, bitch.”

That tipped it. It made the deliveryman furious. In a frenzy, he began unbuttoning his pants. “You want this?” he said as his cock fell out and hit Cliff’s ass with a smack. “Fine. I’ll give it to you, you filthy whore. I’m gonna tear your goddamn ass apart.”

Rock grabbed Cliff’s shoulders with one hand and played around with Cliff’s hole with the other, pretending more than once as if he was going to relentlessly drive his dick inside, head to balls, only to let it slide between Cliff’s cheeks. Once he went as far as to get the tip of the head in the hole before ducking out. The teasing was driving Cliff crazy.

“Fuck me,” Cliff said. “Just fuck me!”

Finally, Rock pried Cliff open and slowly sank inside him. Cliff’s knees buckled from the force. He let out a cry as Rock—a straight man, no less—pounded his man-pussy like he was a pro in the League of Man-Pussy Pounders. If Rock had a porn name, it would have been Jack Hammer. Cliff could hardly see straight.

“Take it!” Rock said. “Take it all! Your hot man ass will never again tempt an innocent straight man.”

“Yeah. Teach me a lesson!”

“I’m taking one for the team!”

“Me too!”

Rock grabbed the two globes of Cliff’s ass and pulled them apart. He stuck his thumbs into the edges of Cliff’s hole so he could get his dick farther in, and he rutted like a beast, roaring and drooling as he went.

“What the hell is going on in here?”

There was a pause in the fucking. Everything was still. David stood at the garage door.

“Honey,” Cliff said, breathless and sweaty and unable to move from being so heavily penetrated, “I can explain.”

“I don’t want to hear it!” David yelled. He reached over and shut the garage door. “But I am going to teach you a lesson.”

He walked toward Cliff and Rock, undoing his own pants.

“Honey, no!” cried Cliff. “Not the… doublefuck! I’ll never survive!”

“Shut up, bitch!” David said.

He crawled atop the table so that he straddled Cliff. His own ass was a well-toned piece of art.

“Make room for me, deliveryman,” he said. “I’m coming in! Stretch him out.”

“My poor beautiful ass!” Cliff yelled as he was pounded by both men, his asshole being stretched beyond all recognition. Oh, the humanity!

The garage was nearly shaken to the ground by all the commotion happening inside of it. The hollering and savage cursing, the cries of mercy and of more! were punctuated at last by a great caterwaul that caused neighbors to look out their windows and lock their doors. Afterward, Cliff, David, and the deliveryman lay in a heap on the garage floor. There would be quite a clean-up.

Cliff wrapped his arms around David. “Thank you, baby,” he said.

“Happy anniversary,” said David, and he gave Cliff a kiss.

Just then came an obtrusive knock. David rose, pulled on his pants, and hit the button to the garage door. A man dressed in similar fashion as Rock but without the beard stood with a lascivious grin.

“I seem to have lost my way,” this new deliveryman said.

David looked at Cliff, who was grinning.

“You got me one too?” David said. “Aw, baby! You shouldn’t have.”

“Happy anniversary,” Cliff said. “Now, the two of you get in here. Let’s have some fun.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On Crossovers, Lyrics, and Writing What You Know, by T.C. Blue

(There just might be a contest if you read far enough! Ha!)

I never know quite what I'm going to write here until I actually sit down to do it. In this case, I had a few ideas rattling around in the largely empty cavern I like to call my skull and when I finally did sit down (around 12:15 this morning), none of those things came to mind. Instead, I've decided to yet again be overly wordy and address one of my pet peeves, plus ask those of you reading your opinions on two separate, but connected, subjects.

First, I want to address 'writing what you know.'

Now, as a female writing gay romance, I frequently hear "How can you write about gay men when you aren't one?" I have yet to hear a gay author of het romance -- and there are a good number of them -- asked how they can write about heterosexuals falling in love and having sex and getting good and dirty with each other, but that's beside the point. (IMHO, it's a rather silly double standard, but again… so not the point.)

My standard response to the 'how can you write this' question is pretty much that we're all human and thus I do know what it's like to want love, fall in love, and have sex with the person I love. I also -- surprise, surprise -- know exactly what it's like to have sex that's simply fucking, because -- again, surprise, surprise -- straight folk do that too. A lot! Oh, and we even have anal sex from time to time. (That's a whole other topic, possibly for a different post. Haha!)

Sex and gender aside, though, I also contend that I do write what I know.

A little background on Tis: I have a widely varied history of jobs, occupations, and careers. I've been a hairdresser, a motorcycle courier, a singer (which I did badly), an actor (I was equally tragic at this), an accounts receivable manager -- this was actually weird because I suck at math… also a waitress more times than I can list, a retail clerk, chef, pastry chef, accessories designer, and now a writer. And I write about people who do these things.

I also grew up in a very white collar family. My father was a fairly high-ranking lawyer with the federal government for the majority of my growing up years, until he decided to go into corporate law with a private firm. Many of my other family with whom I was close were or became doctors, dentists, and so on. So I also write about people who do those things. Perhaps not as easily as I do with professions I've actually taken part in, but still. I think that counts as writing what I know.

Part of the reason for this is that it requires me to do less research. Haha! (Research is the bane of my existence. There's so much information out there and most of it contradicts what I just read five minutes earlier. It confuses me and that makes me cranky. Cranky Tis is no fun for anyone. Trust me on that.)

So… why does this matter, right? It's sort of a fluffy take on a contentious subject. I know. But there is a method to my madness. I swear. (This is where we get to the other topics in the subject line of this post. Are you ready for it?)

I'm working on a new book. I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be a novel, which should shock absolutely no one. I tend to write long. I like story. It makes me happy. J

In this book, one of my main characters has appeared in two other of my stories, though not as a primary participant. The two stories in which he appears are not in any way related to each other, aside from this character.

In this new story, the second main character has also appeared in two other books and other characters from those books are either mentioned or have secondary roles. And I'm even confusing myself here. Heh-heh. The point is, these characters do appear in other of my stories but it's not necessary to read those for this one to make sense, as far as I can tell.

Okay, so here's my question (the first of two, actually… the other will follow) and I'd love it if some of you could take just a few seconds out of your days to answer in comments.

Is it off-putting to you, as readers (or reviewers), for a writer to do that? Does it make you feel as though you need to read the other books if you haven't already? Will knowing that a book is basically a crossover between other novels or short stories make you more or less interested in reading the book in question? (I personally like it, but that may just be me.)

Now, in this book I've been talking about, one of the lead characters, Andrew, is a musician. A fairly famous one, at that. As such, he has a couple records out. There may or may not be lyrics included at the beginning of some of the chapters. Is that something that sounds good or weird or what? Does it add or detract from the process of reading? (Again, I like it, but mostly because I think it gives some insight to the character. Opinions will obviously vary.)

I would really love to hear your thoughts, guys, so if you have a moment, please do comment. In fact, I'll even run a wee contest if you like. How about… I'll randomly draw a name from the list of those who comment and that person can choose any of my currently available e-books for their very own. (I only have these in .pdf, by the way. Sorry about that!)

As always, thanks for taking the time to read this. And sorry for making this all about ME. I really do want to know what you guys think, though.
Next week… either something about Adam Lambert or something about the societal disdain for sluttery. Or possibly something completely unrelated to either, because… I just don't plan that far ahead. Hahaha!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The New Monster-Under-the-Bed?

The forecast, it seems, is bleak.  With just one click, I managed to find out the weather, but also got a bunch of pop-ups telling me of Tom and Katie’s divorce and other assorted woes of the famous and not-so famous.  I do believe it’s one of the reasons I don’t surf the internet or watch news programs anymore.  Get in and get out, that’s my motto for both television and the internet.  It has, I’m afraid, left me terribly behind in current events; and that’s just fine with me.  As I rapidly approach my fiftieth birthday, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly alarmed by certain trends in the world; specifically the unbelievable amount of news coverage over someone else’s pain.

I will admit that ever since his incredibly embarrassing interview with Matt Lauer almost eight years ago now, sitting through a Tom Cruise movie has proven especially difficult for me - if only for the reason that I’m reminded, with every scene, that I know things about the actor that I don’t think I have a right to know.  While I’ll be the first to admit that celebrities who choose to open their mouths and voice their opinions in public are only asking for trouble, I will also be the first to respectfully suggest that the media outlets have a choice as to whether to air these (rather conspicuous) breakdowns for the whole world to see.
“Schadenfreude” is the german word that simply means “taking pleasure in the misery or misfortune of others”.  Like the Germans themselves - if I may generalize for a moment - the word is efficient, conveying in four syllables what it takes several english words to accomplish.  But leave it up to North American audiences to turn these particular four syllables into an art form, one without compassion or understanding.  And it’s not just found in the media these days.

One of the most depressing things I’ve noticed in this day and age of Facebook and Twitter and Get-The-Latest-News pop-ups and those god-awful reality television shows is the effect it seems to be having on the future generations.  Like many high school teachers, I was patrolling the hallways during lunch and came upon a group of boys, each with their cell phones out, punching away furiously at the miniature keyboards.  A scene I’d witnessed a hundred times before.  I thought nothing of it - wondering yet again - why these same students were unable to show the same focus and attention to detail to their studies.  Then, as I prepared to leave the area to continue my supervision duties, I understood why.  They were all sharing an image, one that had them howling with laughter.

Being an incredibly private person, I’ve always been very respectful of someone else’s space.  So, instead of looking over one of their shoulders, I approached the boys - all of whom I’d taught at one point over the past three years - and asked what was so hilarious.  Looking back now, I understand why most of the boys looked chagrined and closed their phones.  But one boy in particular had no problems turning his cell phone around and showing me a photo that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget.  There, on his screen, was a photo of another student - a female student - lying on the floor.  The boy happily volunteered the whole story:

The female student is diabetic and had collapsed during a class.  Not the first time she’d done so.  You see, she is heavy-set and had confided in me (when I taught her Science)  that she was trying “everything” to lose weight.  I took the opportunity to explain to her about speaking to her doctor about low glycemic index foods; those foods that will not cause her blood sugar to spike and thus eliminate the feeling of hunger later on, and the inevitable need to binge on something handy (but unhealthy) from the vending machine.  It was a teachable moment for me and I enjoyed being able to help her understand that what she eats is as important as how often.  Losing weight, she finally understood, was a balancing act between eating the right foods in the right amount and eating often enough to ensure not only good health, but an appropriate blood sugar level.  Unfortunately, she was looking for something more immediate.  And on this particular day, she’d gone without eating and it had caused her to pass out in class.  It was also unfortunate that she’d chosen to wear a short skirt.

I don’t need to explain why one of the boys had taken the photograph, but I did ask them why they thought this photo was so worthy of their attention.  “If the picture was of your mother or your sister or your grandmother,” I asked solemnly, “would you still be laughing?  Would you still find it so worthy of sharing?”  None of them said anything, but I saw a flicker of humanity when they all stopped laughing.  I expressed my disappointment in all of them, but made sure they understood I wasn’t angry with them.  How could anyone be angry with them?  They have grown up in a world of computers and reality television dedicated to such images:  “Here, take a look, why not delight in someone else’s misfortune?”  These boys are a product of a society that encourages people to display anything and everything, no matter how base or vile or lacking in integrity.  And most importantly, they are still at an age when they must be taught that what they did was wrong.  But who will teach the media?  How will they ever learn that they do not need to publish every story or spend endless hours examining what are, essentially, very private moments in a person’s life?

To be fair, there are more than a few individuals who’ve become famous because it’s what they’re after.  And shows that cater to these individuals would not have an endless supply of these wanna-bes if there was no demand.  Personally, I don’t watch these types of programs during which grown men and women embarrass and debase themselves for money, fame or both.  And I loathe that I’ve started to sound like my parents, but in my day, we had the first moon landing, Sesame Street and the Friendly Giant on our television sets.  I don’t ever remember a divorce or a movie star’s public misery being “news-worthy”.  I remember staying home with my mother - when I was sick - and lying on the sofa watching re-runs of The Brady Bunch where the worst thing to happen was that Jan learned, by the end of the show, that she was her own person, that she did not have to live in Marcia’s shadow.  I grew up at a time when the other students teasing me about my weight was restricted to taunts and jeers in the hallway or in the gym locker room; I didn’t have to worry about photos proving my over-indulgence in ice cream and desserts showing up on the internet.  The taunts and jeers were painful, but there was no reliving them because of a lasting record in anything but my memory.  I grew up during a time when something “viral” was something to avoid.  Sadly, Suri Cruise and the diabetic student will have no such respite; those images and stories are out there forever.

Maybe Tom Cruise is having a breakdown.  Maybe Katie Holmes realized that she could do much better on her own.  Maybe, when they chose to pursue a life in the public eye, they both knew that every minute of their lives would become fodder for gossip; or maybe they didn’t.  Perhaps, they chose their careers based on a passion for acting.  Perhaps, they chose their careers to become famous and compensate for a lack of something.  Only they know for certain.  But what about this student?  What about Suri Cruise?  Are they not entitled to some compassion and some understanding?  Has the line between personal and private become so blurred that we are incapable of recognizing it anymore?  Has the fact that a person chooses to be a public figure completely and irrevocably erased the need to know where that line is?  Or do people in a position to publish (or withhold) these stories see nothing but dollar signs?

Have we, in this day and age of instant communication, lost our way?  Is there no one left to explain to 17-year old boys that the unconscious diabetic in the photo is a person?  That she has parents and friends who care deeply about her?  Is there no one in a position of power at the meeting, where they choose which stories about which celebrities, to stop and say, ‘No, we will not show these photos.  We will not mention the children.  Why don’t we lead with the story about the boy who shaved his head out of empathy for his classmate who is going through chemo.’?

Now that story?  I’ll click on the link for that story.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Inspiration by Cardeno C.

I was having trouble coming up with a topic for today’s blog post so I did what I so often do with my writing – I asked readers what they want to hear about. As always, they came through and asked me to share my inspiration for my writing. Thanks for this week’s topic, Anita. Pamela, favorite childhood books will definitely be the topic for a future post.

Long before I ever put (metaphorical) pen to paper, I had characters roaming in my mind, telling me their stories and looking for an outlet. I wanted to share positive, uplifting stories that would brighten someone’s day and make them feel hopeful, but I didn’t know if anybody would want to read my words or if the characters in my mind would resonate with other people. So when I first started writing, I posted the beginning of a story for free on the internet. The e-mails I received in response were the reason I kept writing that first story and the loyalty of my readers is the reason I keep writing now.

I’ve read an article or three over the years saying the best way to be happy and successful in your career is to choose a job you truly enjoy. Well, writing is that job for me. I love every aspect of it – the creativity, the escape into other people and other worlds, and the ability to reach, touch, and entertain readers. While I’m not able to write full time (at least until my lottery luck changes), I am fortunate enough to share my work and publish my books. As long as people keep wanting to read about my characters, I’ll make sure to find the time to keep writing them.

Speaking of those characters, they’re inspired by a lot things - a story shared by a friend, an incident I experience, and often, a song playing on the radio. Once inspiration strikes, I live with the characters in my head, think about who they are, what drives them, and what they want. I find that I need to absorb the characters and really get to know them before I can write their stories. Some of those characters take more time than others.

For example, Ben Forman (from Just What the Truth Is) spent a lot of time rattling around in my head. He was inspired by an article I read about a behind-the-scenes powerful political operative who came out later in life. I can’t even count the number of conversations I’ve had where people become almost rabidly angry about a closeted (or maybe a not overtly out) public figure. And yet, is it fair to take what is a personal decision, likely borne of many layered, painful reasons, and trivialize it into a stark, black and white, “I’d never be that weak” judgment?  

When I read about that political figure, heard his reasons for spending so many years hiding an important aspect of himself and then listened to what finally inspired him to come out, I didn’t feel like I was learning about a coward. I felt like I was learning about a person - faults, fears, and all. And what better inspiration is there for a writer than sharing a character so complex as to be loved and hated, and yet so simple as to be real? It’s a lofty goal, but it’s my inspiration for writing.

Cardeno C.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ménage at the Wiccan Haus by Kate Richards

Hello! I’m Punda from An Apple Away, a story in the fabulous Musa Publishing Wiccan Haus series and I’ve come today to represent Kate Richards, our author, who is tied up somewhere. Possibly literally, you know how these erotic authors can be. I try not to ask too many questions.

Anyway, Kate asked me to tell you a bit about our story, and not to make any snarky comments about her being tied up. Oops!

I found myself outside the portal on the island, with no memory of how I got there and my entire pride disappeared from the face of the Earth. Sage Rowan gave me a job as a masseuse, a home, and a new family. I’ll always be grateful to her and her siblings.

But I was still lonely, despite the many shifters and magical beings who make their home there. I had friends, but no one especially mine. Until the day Aislinn and Hugo debarked from the ferry.  Two more troubled individuals I’d never met. Their pain called to me. Aislinn, so pale and sick, looking like she couldn’t live more than a week or two. And Hugo, for all his height and handsome face, appeared to bear the weight of the world on his broad shoulders.

Drawn to both, yearning to help heal them, I was also attracted to them. Even in her illness, Aislinn was lovely, with her long red hair and smooth skin. And Hugo had every woman in the place giving him the eye.
One about to die. The other a doctor, a man of science. Would he be interested in a lion shifter?
I didn’t think he’d believe in me.

A man or a woman? I wanted both, how could that be? Torn, I tried to heal them, with Sage’s help, to give them what they needed from the Haus.

Then I saw the spark between them. How could I get between two people who desired one another so much?

Making love with a woman is so emotional, so engaging to all my senses. Her softness, sweet scents and caressing hands can make me feel cared for, secure, floating in a sea of sensuality.

With a man, especially an alpha like Hugo, his power makes me forget everything  but him and the moment.
But if they wanted each other, then maybe I needed to step away….

That’s the tale, some of it anyway, from my viewpoint. A woman, a lion shifter, and a resident of the Wiccan Haus. I hope you’ll come and read our story, and meet Aislinn and Hugo. Which one would you choose?
Leave a comment and I’ll pick one person to win a copy of An Apple Away.

Huge thanks to the regular authors of Café Risque for hosting me today!

Excerpt from An Apple Away

Most of Hugo’s attention remained on Aislinn. Her expressions flitted across her face, happiness, concern when Harvey talked about how he’d nearly lost his love to the evil—Jenny laughed at that, holding her husband’s hand tight—Sam and his “underhanded tactics.” Before he knew it, dinner, whatever it had been, had come and gone and their waiter was placing dessert before them.
“Warm apple crisp, with vanilla whipped cream.” The waiter stepped back. “From our own orchard.” Hugo frowned, but lifted his spoon. Why was the man hovering?
Aislinn, however, dug right in. “Oh, it’s just delicious! You know, my cottage is right in the middle of the orchard. It’s like a fairy tale…I didn’t know apple trees bloomed and fruited at the same time.”
So, this beautiful and intriguing woman was his neighbor—his sole neighbor—in his hilltop retreat. Interesting.
The waiter was going on about the apples. “Oh, a very special variety, miss. Grows only here on the island.”
“Well, it’s lovely.” She spooned up more of the crisp then sighed and set the implement next to her bowl. “But I don’t think I can eat another bite.”
Hugo ate some of the dessert. Good, but he rarely indulged. His focus was still on Aislinn and his medical side became alarmed as she suddenly paled. “Are you all right?”
She drew a deep breath and stood up from the table. “Oh, I’m fine. A little tired, maybe.” Her thready voice worried him.
“Perhaps we should see if a doctor or nurse….”
“No doctors. Never again.” Her vehemence added strength to her tone and sent an unhappy flip to his stomach. “I-I think I’ll be heading back to my cottage now. It’s been a pleasure having dinner with all of you. I’ll see you tomorrow, I’m sure.”
She took a few steps away and he rose, intending to join her, but a dark, graceful woman arrived at her side and led her over to a table where four people sat. They nodded in welcome and chatted for a few moments before one of them reached into a pocket and pulled out a vial. She tapped it, speaking with a serious expression before handing it to Aislinn. Rising, she gave her a quick hug then returned to her seat.
Aislinn left the room with the dark-haired woman’s arm around her waist. She must be very ill. But what had doctors done to make her reject their care and turn to quackery?
And what the hell was in that vial?

Contact info for Kate Richards:
Email: katerichards09@gmail.com
Website: http://katerichards.wordpress.com
Buylink for An Apple Away: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=25&products_id=303