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Monday, May 21, 2012

Fifty Shades of Curiously Grey by KevaD

Please refrain from any negative comments regarding the book by EL James. That’s not what this post is about.

I sold antiques at a flea market this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Naturally, I set a few copies of my suspense/mystery novel Whistle Pass out for sale as well. 

Once ladies learned I had written Whistle Pass, the conversation invariably turned to Fifty Shades of Grey, usually with this line as the icebreaker:
“I’m reading that book I shouldn’t be reading.”
A quirky smile then appeared. 

It didn’t take too many of these conversations for me to realize that the majority of women I spoke with weren’t as interested in the book as they were the idea of doing something edgy, maybe even bordering on taboo, something risqué and a bit devilish, with nothing really at stake. It was the thrill of the bragging rights that they had obtained a copy and were reading a book that they wouldn’t even say the name of in public. Or at least said they were. 

My point is that for a number of these ladies, claiming to be reading the book (not a one of them said they had finished it – they were always “reading” it) set them apart from what had been mediocrity and initiated them into a group of faceless literary daredevils walking the razorblade of the forbidden. It was the “act,” not the book, that sent shivers up their spines, reddened their ears, and provided the courage to share with a complete male stranger the provocative thing they were doing. 

Interestingly, in all of the conversations I had with these ladies in this unique setting, not once did the reader talk about the book at all. Not once. Their focus remained on the act of possessing and reading the novel. After the first couple of ladies, I started asking if the person had plans to go see the movie when it came out. The answer was always “no.” Maybe they were being honest, maybe that was something they didn’t want to answer. I don’t know. 

I do know what one lady gave as her reason for not planning on seeing the film version. She said in effect, ‘I wouldn’t want to watch the movie because it probably wouldn’t be like I’ve imagined.’ Her answer made me smile. What she described is the goal we as storytellers strive for. She said the story took shape in her mind, and she didn’t want to lose that imagery.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the power and joy of books.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homophobia is Contagious – Gay Isn’t

To begin, I dislike the term “straight” as it implies the alternative is crooked or deformed. I’m heterosexual. Het. 

I’m old enough I was raised in a society where homosexuality genuinely was considered the deformed alternative to being straight. When I was four, the federal government officially declared homosexuality a mental disorder and began a purge of homosexuals. The churches and public schools I attended embraced that ideology and ensured our young minds were properly educated to the dangers of the predatory insane lurking on every corner for the opportunity to take advantage of a child. 

In my later public school years, no one ever did make a move to refute the idea that homosexuality equated to insanity, including my parents. That is, until a voluntary, pay for it yourself “field trip” took place in my senior year of high school. The school provided bus transportation and chaperones to an evening performance of HAIR. 

For those not familiar with the topics addressed in that musical, I recommend renting a video of the musical, not the movie. At the time, interracial sex, not to mention same-sex sex, and public nudity were the demons sure to plunge our world into the pits of hell. HAIR has all of those and more. 

There were two things in particular that struck me that night at the performance. The first being, how the young lady on the back of the stage during the nude scene had the most beautiful set of tits I’d ever imagined to exist. Yes, I still remember them, and everything else about her. I hope her life without me in her arms turned out well. 

The second was the scene where a white man (fully clothed) had sex with a black man (also fully clothed). Holy hell. They were just actors playing roles, but the scene’s message bore into me. It was the first realization that what had been ingrained into my brain might not be reality. 

When I tried to discuss that scene at school, with my friends, and at home, I was quickly reminded HAIR was a play, not real life, and there was no need for further discussion. 


Place something in front of my eyes that stimulates my mind to question the ideals implanted in me, and I’m damn sure going to talk about it. 

That was when I understood very few people in my circle of life understood me or the world in general. And, for the first time, I wondered how many homosexuals I had met, maybe even known and hung out with, who felt they had to keep their sexuality hidden from me. The societal beliefs I had grown up with began to disintegrate, but it would be years before I fully understood how much of a hold those beliefs had on my mind. 

A year after high school, fate introduced me to an openly gay couple. Nope. They weren’t insane, and no one they shook hands with developed an obsession for the color pink. In fact, we had a lot of common interests and went to beaches and did a number of things together. Yeah, the evening one of them said how if I ever wanted to explore, they’d be open to a threesome scared the beejezus out of me, but no friendship lines were ever crossed. Note here that I also have and have had female friends who I never had sex with, though the opportunity existed if we chose to cross that line. Friendship is and was far more important to me than the sex that was so readily available during that era. I soon enlisted in the army to break away from the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle I’d been living and provide for my family. 

In the army, I learned one of my friends I drank and bowled with was gay. He got publicly ‘outed’ during something that happened in the barracks he lived in. I never did know the full details. Within a few days, he’d been transferred (we were in Germany) back to the states, and the few of us who’d been his friends were questioned. 

During the interrogation, I was told my friend had made it beyond clear that I was not gay, nor had any knowledge whatsoever that he was, though in truth, I did know as he’d told me shortly before whatever happened at the barracks happened. He’d protected me with what little he had to offer. You must understand the army at that time. Being gay was akin to being a traitor – those in the “circle” were presumed guilty by being in the circle. I strongly suspect my friend could have lessened whatever punishment he was to receive by sacrificing one or two others. He didn’t do that, opting to stand up for his friends to the very end. He was one hell of a man who happened to be gay. 

I think that was the incident that shattered the hold my childhood indoctrination had on me. I became a man who happened to be het, others happened to be gay. That was how life worked, and, in my mind, still works. 

Eventually, I began writing professionally. How my first published book was about two gay men is something I’ve discussed other times, other places. Whether the characters are het, gay, or lesbian isn’t an issue for me. For some folks, though, it is. I’ve heard from hets who wonder what the hell I’m doing writing books with gay men in them. I’ve heard from gays asking the same question. And then, there are some female readers who get upset because my stories in which the characters are gay men, don’t always have sex, because as one very nice lady asked, if the men don’t have sex, “What’s the point?”. 

So, while I offend idealists, bigots, and an occasional reader, I’ll continue telling my stories without worrying about the sexuality of the characters. For you see, that’s how I live my life now. Why should I be concerned what sexuality my fictional characters are, when I couldn’t care less what sexuality my real life friends are? 

“Oh, so you’re one of those heterosexuals who likes to say how he has gay friends.” 

No, I’m saying my friends’ sexuality isn’t any more of your damn business than it is mine. 

A gay person is born gay. A homophobe is trained to be homophobic.

That’s right…homophobia is a disease born of ignorance. Fortunately, there’s a cure. It’s called education. Be smart and get smart. 

‘Nuff said.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Courage & Vassily the Beautiful - Angel Martinez

What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got? ...Courage – The Cowardly Lion, Wizard of Oz, MGM, 1942

That’s the thing, isn’t it? What is it that compromises courage? The Lion is told at the end, and rightly so, that he has as much courage as the next person, even when he reacts with fear. Yet, when someone says “a man of courage,” we don’t picture the Cowardly Lion, we picture a traditional hero, steadfast and fearless.

Courage – the firefighter rescuing the mom and baby from the blazing third floor. The helicopter pilot who braves enemy fire to rescue downed comrades. The Coast Guard captain braving the storm to reach the crippled fishing boat in time. All very rousing and heart-in-mouth inspiring, but this sort of courage, powered by adrenaline and endorphins and often an odd sort of eye of the storm calm, is only one very narrow type of courage.  

At its heart, courage is doing when you are afraid and fear comes in all flavors, not all of them born of physical peril. It’s often doing the hard things, the right things, the things the make you uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s the things that make others uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s as simple as admitting you were wrong, or admitting things have to change.  

Courage is standing by a parent sinking into Alzheimer’s. It’s hearing the diagnosis that will change your life and forcing yourself to ask “what steps do we take now?” instead of falling apart. It’s taking the walk down the red carpet with your lover. It’s admitting to addiction. It’s recognizing you have dreams and finding the strength to chase them.  

The big, brash, loud flavors of courage are fine for the big screen, but most of the time, courage soldiers on quietly, without fanfare or recognition, without explosions or gunfire, evident in a thousand small choices and a thousand mindful acts.  

Courage, as Baba Yaga says, is not a thing you have, but a thing you do.  

Which brings me to Vassily the Beautiful, which, while a story about a number of things, is largely a story about courage. And that, my dears, is all I’ll say on that. 

New M/M Science Fiction from Angel Martinez

Serena at QMO Books says: “The impact and depth of their feelings captivated me. If you like stories about flawed and damaged characters thrown together in a challenging situation, if you enjoy watching men battle both exterior and interior demons and if emotions are just as important as physical attraction for you, this is a books you shouldn’t miss.” 

Bobby at BookWenches says: This could have been just another “damsel in distress” story, but it’s not. Vassily begins the story a victim….I enjoyed witnessing this change take place as he transitions from spoiled and pouting boy into a stronger, more self-reliant man.”

Vassily the Beautiful – a fairytale hurled through space and turned on its axis…

Set in the same universe as Gravitational Attraction, in the city of New Makarov on a far flung planet at the edge of ESTO space...

A young composer suffers neurological damage in the accident that killed his father...

An amoral, small-time drug manufacturer brings a dangerous new bio-engineered intoxicant to the city...

Deals gone wrong and subtle shifts in the underworld's dealings have made Baba Yaga sons, who act as her security force, edgy and trigger itchy...

Very few constants populate the equations in this new M/M Science Fiction novel, but when the variables collide? Let the mayhem begin...