October 31, 2008

Being a Male Writer: Author Steven Payette

The Author

Steven Payette has worked in the insurance industry for thirteen years. An Honours graduate of Algonquin College's Business Insurance program, Mr. Payette went on to win two insurance related awards. While this is the first novel he has written for publication, he has always had stories rattling around in his head waiting to be unleashed. He was born, raised and currently resides in Ontario, Canada.

There are several places where you can visit Steven:

The Book

Trevor Samuels, an investigator with fifteen years experience, is commissioned to investigate three arson losses. After numerous leads fail to generate any suspects, he suddenly gets a break in the form of fifteen-year-old Goth boy named Jesse. Jesse is heavily involved in the contraband cigarette market and he exposes Trevor to this seedy underworld. While trying to determine if the arson's are related to the contraband cigarette market, Trevor uncovers greed, murder and corruption among the people he respects most. Join Trevor as he investigates the most difficult case of his career, a case that will either make his career or haunt him for the remainder of his life.

Click the cover above to order THE BACK OF MY MIND today!

The Excerpt


This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

THE BACK OF MY MIND. Copyright 2008 by Steven Payette.
All rights reserved. Printed in The United States of America.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any print or electronic form without the express written permission of the author.


She glanced at her watch nervously; it was four in the morning. Her companion told her to calm down, it would all be over with shortly. Just like the last job, in and out in a matter of minutes. She couldn’t help it. She was so afraid of getting busted and their plan falling to ruin. They were crouched in a shallow ditch across the street from the target property, waiting and watching for any sign of life. Finally he said “Now” and they began to crawl out of the ditch. The only sound to be heard in the early morning of the crisp Spring day was their own labored breathing as they stayed bent over, close to the ground. They bolted across the country road and onto the property with their gas cans in hand, always looking back toward the road to ensure nothing was coming. They had watched the family leave earlier the night before and were confident no one was at home, but it always paid to be damn sure of that, and they had learned that the hard way.

They made their way behind the house and stopped to listen, to make sure they were alone. A slight breeze blew across the vast property from east to west.

“Did you hear something?” he asked in a quiet voice.

“No, did you?” she replied in an equally quiet voice.


They continued on their journey until they came across the oil tank at the other rear corner of the dwelling. He took a penlight out of his coat pocket and shined it in the tank’s direction. Good, he thought. It’s pretty rusted; the flames should penetrate it quickly.

“Let’s go,” he whispered.

Silently, they both unfastened the tops on their respective gas cans and began pouring the contents on and underneath the oil tank.

She ran dry and fastened the top back onto her ancient metal can.

“That should be enough,” he mumbled as he put his can on the ground between them and began fishing around in his other coat pocket. He pulled out a matchbook and said, “Get ready.” She just nodded. He lit one match and held it up to the other matches. They all caught at the same time and lit up like a party sparkler. He quickly dropped the matchbook at the base of the oil tank and grabbed his gas can. Fuel started splashing all over the ground behind him as they ran back to the other corner of the house. He had forgotten to refasten the cap on his can. A few seconds later, a horrific explosion rocked the ground like a major earthquake.

The tank must have been full, he thought, as they ran away from the front of the house and back toward the road.

Suddenly, all he could see were flames as he screamed the most tormented, blood-curdling scream of his life. She was ten feet ahead of him and also screaming as the fire engulfed him, sending him to the ground in a heap of flames and burning flesh. She didn’t know how she did it, but she managed to resume running, faster than she had ever run in her life.

“There was nothing I could do to save him” was the only thought going through her mind as she continued running into the darkness. She never looked back.

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a male writer?

What themes and topics does my writerly mind force upon me? Hmmm, I must admit, I have never thought about it! When it comes to themes, that's a natural for me. Having worked in the insurance industry for thirteen years, I remember thinking how rare it is to find a story regarding insurance. That's probably because it would put the reader to sleep, but I hope not.

I just finished writing the second novel in my Trevor Samuels mystery series, and my books focus on a freelance insurance investigator who deals with arson and fraud cases. In an attempt to keep the reader awake, I steered clear of technical jargon and used layman insurance terms, and not very many of them. I wanted to portray an unorthodox investigator, but not get bogged down with insurance lingo. Hopefully I've pulled that off! I also wanted a plot that was unique, rather than ending up with cookie cutter plots that have already been written by countless other authors.

In my first tome, I had an arson investigation lead to the contrband cigarette market, which is a topic I haven't seen in print, or any other kind of media. Except, of course, when someone gets busted for trafficking the hot butts. Despite the underground cigarette market raking in millions of dollars annually, the media front is relatively quiet, other than retailers complaining about plummeting tobacco sales. These days you need an edge, what with so many new books being released each and every year.

I thought a unique story was appropriate, but that's not all. I decided to include a reader participation secton at the end of each novel. I ask a question, and readers can register their vote on my website. The winning vote from the first novel will be written into the third, and the winning vote from the second novel will be written into the fourth volume in the series. As my first book was just released, I have only received one vote thus far, and it was from the owner of this blog page, my exceptional editor. At any rate, the feedback I have received about the reader participation section has been very favourable. Hopefully I've attained "The Edge" I was going for!

Full details regarding my websites, novels, etc. are noted on this blog post. Feel free to shoot me any questions you may have, and I'll do my best to answer them. Of particular interest to writers are my MySpace blogs as they outline numerous aspects of the literary world, including what to watch out for. Happy reading!

October 24, 2008

Being a Male Writer: Author Vincent Alexandria

The Author

Vincent Alexandria is a nationally published author, who resides in Houston, Texas and was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He is also an actor, producer, director, composer, lyricist, screenwriter, vocalist, and musician. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Rockhurst College and a Masters degree in literature from Baker University.

He is the founder of the Brother 2 Brother Literary Symposium which will be held in Houston, Texas October 3rd and 4th, 2008 at Texas Southern University (TSU). Its mission is to enlighten men and women in reading and comprehension in order to enhance their quality of life. Nationally published authors show a commitment to their communities by giving back to their readers in gratitude of what they have done for them and their careers. The website for the symposium is www.b2bls.com.

He has completed four award winning murder detective mystery novels and has signed national book contracts with BET/Harlequin-Kimani Press for the titles; “Black Rain,” “Black Heat,” “Black Vice,” “If Walls Could Talk,” “Postal Blues,” and “Ain’t Nothing Like Loving an Ugly Woman,” and “Love Don’t Come Easy,” with Parker Publishing. His novels, “If Walls Could Talk” & “Black Rain” are in negotiations for movie options.

Vincent has a children’s book series entitled, “Marvelous Martin and the Case of Mr. Bean” & “Marvelous Martin and the Case of Freddy Freeman and the Freckled Faced Bully” which has been picked up by Marimba Books Publishing (Kensington) and will be released October 2008.

He completed his award winning poetry book, “Poetry from the Bottom of My Heart” and is working on his second volume of work. He is also writing two stage-plays with comedian, Rickey Smiley.

He is part of the anthology by Donna Hill, “On the Line” and “Crimes of Passion” by Literary Wonders and Yolanda Johnson. He has won awards for Volunteer of the Year with the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City, Missouri and the YMCA of Greater Houston Minority Achievers Award.

You can visit Vincent at his website and his MySpace.

The Book

Detective Joe Johnson goes against his partner and his wife, and leaves his dying father's bedside to risk death for the FBI agent he is indebted to.

FBI Agent Cheryl Chase, in fear of her life, feels her cover will be blown as quickly as her partners were, as they work deep undercover in a black ring of assassin cops.

A single phone call sets off a chain of events that catapults Detective Johnson into the most difficult case and decision of his life.

Will Detective Johnson be able to save FBI Agent Chase, his marriage, his life, and stop the black ring of dirty cops?

Or will he be consumed in Black Rain?

Click the cover above to order BLACK RAIN today!

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a male writer?

I love a good story. My father, mother, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, children, and grandparents told and tell great stories. I grew up with them and I loved to read, so that helped make me a better writer. To take myself seriously and respect the craft I went and got a Master’s Degree from Baker University in Literature.

I love words and how you can create a picture in the mind of another person and give them so much of a connection to something you made up, that they talk to you as if your character is real. That is success for a story for me. I’ve always loved murder mysteries. My book "Black Rain" can be purchased at any major book store. I have just finished a children’s book that will be released in January of 09 with www.marimbabooks.com about a 10-year-old neighborhood PI, Marvelous Martin.

I write to promote critical thinking, relationships, and accountability and responsibility not only to me but to my community. That’s what pushes me to tell great stories. I also promote reading and literacy in youth with my non-profit organization, Brother 2 Brother Literary Symposium.

October 17, 2008

Being a Male Writer: Author M. Christian

The Author

M.Christian is an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 300 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many, many other anthologies, magazines, and Web sites. He is the editor of 20 anthologies including the Best S/M Erotica series, The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, and many others. He is the author of the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll.

His site is www.mchristian.com. You can also get a glimpse into M. Christian through the blogs MEINE KLEINE FABRIK and Frequently Felt.

The Book

Once again, acclaimed author M. Christian writes of the art of seduction. One of the pleasures of a dystopic future is the erotists, professionals who paint their clients' bared skin with neurochemicals that induce sensuality. Erotists offer landscapes of ecstasy, pain, joy, and delight. Few citizens can afford the skills of the talented Domino. Fewer still know her identity is but a mask.

Beneath the facade, Claire hides from a vicious crime lord who would not only kill her but her childhood lover. But the mask of Domino is beginning to crack...

Painted Doll is futuristic noir tale, a wildly imaginative erotic adventure, exploring who we are and the sexual awakenings that occur when we become someone else.

Click the cover above to order PAINTED DOLL today!


From Chapter Two, Painted Doll: An Erotist's Tale

On the banister going up, winding down the paired columns at the top, lizards were marching in a tightly twisting single file, preceding tails barely touching the tips of a following hissing tongue. Round and round, up and up, each lizard behind the other. Under her fingers, sliding smoothly along the silken lacquer, scales, dagger teeth, and clawed toes, were almost too precisely carved, too excellent. Their realism a soft whisper of perhaps, maybe, could-be movement.

Claire didn’t like the walk up those carpeted stairs, another parade of tiny reptiles woven into the border in careful golden thread, because of that banister. Didn’t like putting her hand on the smooth pillars on the upper landing, either; that long dead Malay, Indonesian, or Chinese wood carver’s art too haunting, ghostly shivers up her arm.

One step, a pause. Another, and then another, and another of each: closer to the top with each careful, controlled, ascent, each cool hiatus. Hand out, holding the railing with each rise, the wood carver’s art was just a decoration, the thing that gave the Salamander Room its name. Domino, not Claire.

Vaulted in an upward sweep of beams that seemed transported from somewhere else, the room was warm, looming to be even hotter later in the day. But that was a long time to come, and the client had only paid for any hour. Two pieces of furniture, one piece of baggage: an opium bed, frayed fabric from generations of smokers, trim and tassels missing or discolored. Next to it, a high octagonal table, rosewood glowing from different generation’s use. On it, a leather satchel, low and square, showing early signs of wear at the corners but otherwise anyone’s carry-on, containing almost anything.

As Domino reached the top, the man on the bed rolled to one side; he looked back at her, she saw him.

“K-Konichiwa,” he stammered, with a sharp dip of his chin, eyelids lowering. Young, but not a boy. Dark hair in a corporate apprentice pudding bowl, growing out in a soft bristle around the ears meaning an approaching graduation to junior salariman. A few months before a move from the dormitories to a single men’s building. Student larva cocooned before emerging as a fully-formed and valued worker.

Flowing slowly into the room, the hushing of her kimono was her only answer. A celebration then. A promise to himself, a reward for memorizing the company manual, no doubt standing in the rain, pattering ice water on his bare shoulders, and singing their anthem until his voice had cracked, then broken.

Naked then, more than likely; naked now, clearly. Hairless and smooth, with nipples the color of his bloodless lips. Between his legs, no sign of a penis. Tucked between his thighs in a reflex of Japanese decorum. He could have been as sexless as a bee.

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a male writer?

I’m a weird critter – writing-wise – in that I’ve written a lot of work beyond my own (ahem) direct experience … male or otherwise. To put it another way I’ve had stories published in Best Gay Erotica (but I’m not gay), Best Bisexual Erotica (but I’m straight), Best Lesbian Erotica (but I’m not … well, you know) and even have two collections of gay erotica, Filthy and Dirty Words, and one of lesbian erotica, Speaking Parts. I’ve also written many similar novels, Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, and (recently) Painted Doll that are gay-themed. By the way, I’ve also published straight stories and novels, such as Brushes and the upcoming collection Licks & Promises, so I’m not just a “not gay but write guy stuff” writer.

What does this have to do with being a male writer? Well, I’d like to say that it doesn’t – or shouldn’t. After all, writers are professional liars in that it’s our job to convince people we’re telling the truth when we’re not – and we succeed when there’s very little, or no, doubt about that. I’m tremendously lucky – and tremendously touched -- that my work in the gay community has been so well received. I’m not alone, of course. Many writers have told wonderful stories about characters and situations far removed from who they really are.

The key, I think, is to respect your audience and your subject matter. People often ask me about how I can write about something like being gay or lesbian without have done (ahem) ‘field research.’ Sure I might not have direct experience but I do know what love, hope, fear, excitement, and disappointment feel like so I try to bring as much of that ‘reality’ to whatever I’m doing – and always approach whatever I’m doing with a serious hope of touching my readers.

The bottom line is that while I’m a guy I’m always working hard to stay true to what joins us together: that we’re more the same than different.

October 10, 2008

Being a Male Writer: Author Torrance T. Stephens, Ph.D.

The Author

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Torrance T. Stephens, Ph.D., attended Morehouse College where he studied, psychology, biology and chemistry. He received a master’s degree in Educational Psychology and Measurement from Atlanta University and a Ph.D. in Counseling from Clark Atlanta University. He has participated in post-doctoral experiences in Nigeria, Senegal and several other African countries working with Africare International. He is the father of two and currently lives in Palmetto, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. His research targets infectious disease and substance abuse risk among incarcerated populations. He is an author and has a novel, three books of short stories and a book of sonnets on the market. He has a book of plays and a book of essays coming out later on this year. He served as a Research Assistant Professor at Emory University in the Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta for more than 13 years. And until recently as Associate Professor and Health Education/Health Promotion Track Coordinator for the MPH program at Morehouse School of Medicine in the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine. Dr. Stephens has more than 40 peer review publications on the subject of inmate and correctional health care as it relates to substance abuse and infectious disease risk reduction in the US and Africa.

At his blog - RAW DAWG BUFFALO, Torrance gives you his unadulterated, hard-hitting views on a wide range of topics. If you like to think and to affect change, you owe yourself a visit.

The Books

Torrance Stephens delves into a range of subjects, from politics and relationships to sports and history, providing valuable insight to the African-American perspective of the world.

Click the cover above to order DIRT BEHIND MY EARS today!

In these powerful stories, Torrance Stephens takes readers into the psychological purview of the African American male psyche. Butter Brown presents eight stories of black men living both in concert and against the grain of the western world that consumes them. A nimble story teller, Stephens paints a lyrical picture that is beautifully suggestive and inventive. This collection contains 16 stories that display the author's evidently adept talents in multiple genres including comedy and erotica. Stephens' writings breathe with emotion that is often acute and cynical. "Stephens paints vivid, realistic portraits for readers to peruse and get lost in with this collection of short stories. The Memphis, Tennessee native's writing is infused with huge heart and deep Southern culture, as evidenced through the use of the vernacular "Man" (pronounced Maine). Stephens offers an unapologetic and supremely intelligent look into the skeletal system of urban dwelling. His prose easily falls into ranking with the book series penned by talented storyteller Iceberg Slim. Well on his way to the historical record as one of the great writers of our time, this self-published author pours his being onto each page. Look for more works from Stephens, scheduled to drop soon, as well much more that has yet to spill forth. Don't be afeared, Maine". --ziah osborne

Click the cover above to order your copy of BUTTER BROWN today!

The Question: Reflect on the stories you have written – the stories waiting to be written. What themes, topics do you find your writerly mind pushing you to write? How do these themes, topics portray themselves through you as a male writer?

Well I normally write about what I live and experience. I have been told I write intellectual fiction. I have been compared to Hemingway, Iceberg Slim and Richard Wright, but my idols are Pablo Neruda, Albert Camus and Voltaire among a few others. It is easy for me; since I write erotica, sci-fi, horror, and psychological and philosophical realism, with my understanding of the sciences, history and the world, they just roll off of my brain.

I don’t manage or contrive what I write nor do I attempt to be like anyone else. I feel that I should write for me first, which I do and not the public. I figure history will judge me and include me in that corpus of the greatest writers that ever lived. As for my blog, well it only takes 4 or 5 minutes for a blog post, and most of what I write about is history, economics, politics, science, sex and women - the things I know best.

I don’t think they have anything to do with me writing as a male other than being one, but I do think they evince me as a person from Memphis, and as a scholar more so than all else. Don’t take but six weeks to write a novel and I can write a short story in 2 or 3 hours. Essays are even easier. Currently at press I have another book of short stories (Freak Type scene) a book of plays (why I am a Gangster and other plays) and another book of Sonnets (Late Night Winds of Club paradise). I have four more scheduled for release next year: another book of essays (Raw Dawg Buffalo - notes of a social prophet), Anonymous Guess (poetry), Holding Hands in the Dark (poetry) and Her Kiss was never mine (novel). So writing is easy if one writes for self first, what they know and live and if they are well read - too many writers today ain't never read Voltaire or maybe haven’t even heard of him.

October 3, 2008

Book Review: I Must Be in Heaven...A Promise Kept

The world today is so cluttered with tragedy - one tragedy being the death of marriages...of long,enduring forever love.

And then I read Valerie Anne Faulkner's true inspirational love story, "I Must Be in Heaven...A Promise Kept" and realized that in certain corners of the world, real love exists - the kind that's built on faith and commitment and that lasts through life's tragedies.

What I loved the most about Faulkner's story is her connection to her faith; it's so easy to have a tragedy befall you and you not be able to withstand it because your faith is being tested. Faulkner, with her faith and her love for her husband, was able to make it through a dark and scary journey. She was able to endure of heartache of her husband's medical trauma and persevere despite it. I also enjoyed Faulkner's down-to-earth tone. I could hear her voice through every story, every experience. I felt connected with her and her family as they connected and plowed through life's circumstances.

Faulkner's story, as I think all inspirational stories should do, made me reflect on my life, appreciate what I have, and rededicate myself to keeping God in my life and keeping my faith strong so that I can withstand the obstacles that I know I will face.

Click the cover to purchase your copy of I Must Be in Heaven...A Promise Kept today!

Book Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken

It's easy to write a book about a baby's death; the minute we hear or read "a baby's death," the subject matter alone will evoke the stock emotions we know that come from something so traumatic - heartache, despair, tears, senselessness, depression...the list goes on infinitely.

What's not easy is writing that story in a way that gets at the heart of the true emotions beneath the ones we so easily rely on. What Elizabeth McCracken does so wonderfully in her memoir "An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination" is unflinchingly real and will break your heart and make you hope all in one breath. It's not just the painful story of her baby's death; it's also the true, minute details of thought, of feeling, of reaction that most people don't talk about. It's not just the painful story of her baby's death; it's also the story of moving on yet holding on, of loving but learning to let go, of learning to accept the new beautiful things in your life (like the birth of a beautiful baby boy) while learning the ongoing process of forgiveness. It is the epitome of how LIFE GOES ON and how we should never forget what we've lost but embrace it, accept it, and take pockets of it for good memories to help us when the sadness and heartache invades.

Click cover to learn more about McCracken's memoir and to order your copy today.

October 1, 2008

Need help developing your STYLE?

Then check out my latest THE WRITE LIFE FOR YOU column @ APOOO Books: http://www.apooobooks.com/developing-writing-style-shon-bacon/

Brenda Janowitz, Chick Lit, and You: The Contest

ChickLitGurrl™ and author Brenda Janowitz are asking you, "Why do you love Chick Lit?"

From October 1, 2008 to October 31, 2008, you have the opportunity to answer this question in 250 words or less! Be funny. Be heartfelt. Be creative. Be engaging. Take the question and develop a response that truly shows YOUR love for the genre.

On November 7,2008, ChickLitGurrl will announce the three best responses, and winners will receive an autographed copy of Brenda Janowitz's latest novel, JACK WITH A TWIST!

Contest submissions must be e-mailed to sdb6812@hotmail.com and be received no later than 11:59 p.m., October 31, 2008. Only ONE submission per participant.

Looking forward to reading why YOU love CHICK LIT!