December 29, 2008

Homosexuality & Writing: Nathan James, author of Check Ride

The Author

Author and activist Nathan James, called the “philosopher-prince of erotica” by reviewers, began his bibliography with the novel The Devil’s Details (2005), the short stories Enchanted Morning (Muscle Worshipers, STARbooks Press 2006), and Ten Days (Love In A Lock Up, STARbooks Press, 2007) He has contributed to the Zane anthology Flesh To Flesh (Strebor/Simon & Schuster, 2008) with his story, "Thickness". His e-books, In His Court (Forbidden Publications, 2006) and the critically acclaimed Check Ride (Forbidden Publications, 2007) have enjoyed bestseller status.

Nathan was nominated by fellow authors in 2007 for the Clik Magazine Awards. He is a passionate activist, speaking at antiwar protests and gay-rights rallies across the country. Nathan is a regular contributor to local papers and, where he writes articles of interest to the LGBT community of color. Nathan is a lifelong resident of New York City. Literary influences include James Baldwin, Stanley Bennett Clay, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Audre Lorde, and Herman Melville. Nathan encourages people to visit his website and his MySpace page. Nathan can be reached at

The Books

Gilbert Savage is a young, hot pilot for AirEast, a New York City charter airline. When his friend and fellow pilot, Mario Freeman offers him an orientation flight, or "check ride", in the company's big new party jet, Gil readily accepts.

A hair-raising near-miss with a light plane on landing brings hidden passions between Gil and Mario to the surface. As they go beyond the mile-high club, the errant light plane pilot schemes to get the young lovers fired. The son of the CEO, the Cessna pilot, has an evil agenda. Will the lovers weather the storm and take their budding relationship to new heights, or will they crash and burn?

Click the cover above to order Check Ride today!

Nathan James takes you on an erotic, sizzling journey into the supernatural with the story of Josh Dolan, a young, gay college student. Josh meets the Devil himself, and embarks on an odyssey of discovery in which he experiences the darkness of hatred, and learns the meaning of faith. Along the way, he has some of the hottest sexual encounters of his life. "The Devil's Details" is a sexy, compassionate look at good and evil, and the challenges young Joshua faces as a gay man are taken from today's headlines. Angels soar and the Devil beckons...because he really is in the "Details"!

Click the cover above to order The Devil's Details today!


How have your works been received by readers of all orientations?

I have been very well received by the LGBT community, and much to my surprise, I've been getting feedback from straight women, as well! I hadn't expected that, but I have since become aware that there is an interest in gay lit which extends beyond the gay/lesbian community. I have been privileged to participate in discussions and panels during which I've learned that the gay/lesbian genre is evolving into something that can stand on its own as a literary art form.

In the stories you have written and are planning to write, what ideas and themes do you see reoccurring that shed light on homosexuality?

I wrote The Devil's Details as a sci-fi/fantasy novel which explores the absurdity of hate. I have witnessed throughout my life and writing career, the recurring premise that gays and lesbians were "less than" and therefore "OK to hate". Our society, through its parental, religious, and political authority figures, has given people "permission to hate". We can see this trend going on right now, in the passage of Proposition 8 in California, overturning same-sex marriage, in the restrictions on gay/lesbian rights in other states, and in the general attitude of homophobia which is still very pervasive in our world.

Yet, even as we continue to struggle against bigotry, I can see hope: gays and lesbians are prouder of themselves and their unique culture than I have seen the community at any time in my life. The community speaks with a passionate voice on issues of concern to us; louder and more strident than ever before.

There seems to be a growing awareness that we are at a critical time in history, and it is always incumbent upon us to make sure we can live without fear of persecution. In my novella, Check Ride, for example, my two pilots have to contend with their airline's VP, who is rabidly homophobic, and tries to manufacture an incident in hopes of having an excuse to get those "disgusting f*ggots" out of his airline. This still goes on today, and we still need to be vigilant and unafraid.

At the end of the day, if there was one thing you wanted your readers to remember in regards to homosexuality, what would that thing be?

I would implore my readers to understand that we are all one species on this small Earth. We will only go forward into a wonderful future if we are compassionate and accepting of our marvelous diversity. Love is universal, and no matter how it may be expressed between people, it is beautiful.

December 28, 2008

Branding, Editing, Writing, & ME at BlogTalkRadio Today!

Tale It Like It Is

Today, the radio show Tale It Like It Is [link] will have yet ANOTHER one-hour special on author branding/writing with me and author and TILII host Samara King.

Time: 4:30 CST


On tap for convo: discussion on using social networking sites to promote your writing and setting writing goals. If you have ANY questions about writing or editing, come and bring them with you! We're all about camaraderie and sharing of information.

If you can't make it, that's OK. I will post up the program on my LISTEN tab @!

December 22, 2008

Homosexuality & Writing: Monica Nolan, Author of Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary

The Author

Monica Nolan is the author of Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary (2007) and the co-author of The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2002) with Alisa Surkis. A collection of eight stories of girls who love horses…and other girls, the book was nominated for a Lambda in the humor category and was awarded the coveted Diagram prize, given annually by an association of British booksellers to the oddest book title of the year. Out Magazine described it “as vibrant, juicy and pulpy as the sexy cover illustration.” Monica has also written articles on film and pop culture for Release Print and Bitch Magazine. Before she realized that paper was cheaper than film, Monica wrote and directed a number of short films, including Lesbians Who Date Men and World of Women.

Monica is currently working on the second book in her planned Lesbian Career Girl series, Bobby Blanchard, Lesbian Gym Teacher.

You can learn more about Monica...and Lois Lenz at

The Book

Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary pays affectionate homage to the lurid pulp novels of the 50s and 60s. A sexy, titillating spoof of the illicit world of lesbian pulp fiction, Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary tells the steamy story of a former cheerleader with a penchant for filing. When Lois finds a job in the big city and a room at the Magdalena Arms women-only boarding house, she discovers just how seductive the society of other career girls can be.

“Tell me about your favorite filing system,” Paula whispered in her ear before trailing her warm mouth along Lois’s neck.

“Well, I’ve been experimenting with a method that combines the alphabetical with the chronological—ohhh!”

“Am I going too fast?” Paula murmured.

In this tongue-in-cheek melodrama, which weaves sex, mystery, and mayhem into a decidedly entertaining romp, Lois encounters women from every walk of life, from cutthroat executives to spoiled debutantes, earnest schoolteachers, aging child actresses and ambitious copywriters—all of whom share a secret.

Click the cover above to order Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary today!


How have your works been received by readers of all orientations?

I don’t have the answer to that question. It is an ongoing mystery. I only know what the people I know who’ve read it think (and I always wonder if they’re just being polite). Many of my friends (mostly gay, some straight) claim they enjoyed it. My sister Annie (married with children) liked it. A woman (who I believe is a lesbian based on her blog) put it down after reading a few pages and wrote that it didn’t seem interesting (oh, the things you find out, googling your title). Entertainment Weekly gave it an A-, so go figure. I suspect that enjoyment of Lois is based more on having a camp sensibility and an appreciation for the artifacts of the 1950s, than any particular sexual orientation. Hmmm, how can I reach that Mad Men audience…

In the stories you write and are planning to write, what ideas and themes do you see recurring that shed light on homosexuality?

First, I have to rewrite the question a little bit—I never use the word homosexual and would feel silly using it seriously. For me the term carries overtones of the 1950s attitudes towards gays and lesbians. I think of “Homosexuality” as medico-legal jargon used in headlines warning about a homosexual plague or the cover blurb for those pseudo-sociological books promising “a searing portrait of today’s homosexual.” This is the kind of language I try to parody in the books I’ve written and am planning to write. For example, I have my heroine, Lois, exclaim in a moment of self discovery, “I think I’m a deviant too!” In my book, of course, this is a positive thing.

One of the themes that recurs as I write about my somewhat fantastical 1950s lesbian community, is the sense of same-sex attraction turning people into outlaws in the pre-stonewall era, and how what is “normal” and legal gets constantly redefined over the years. Yesterday’s crime is today’s wedding (and perhaps tomorrow an illegal activity again). In Lois Lenz, Lesbian Secretary, it was fun to tease out the parallels to other activities of that era that were once universally considered shocking and forbidden, and no longer are (pot smoking, interracial dating, even communism). These topics also place Lois squarely in the tradition of the pulp novel, a genre I love, and hope I honor with Lois.

At the end of the day, if there was one thing you wanted your readers to remember in regards to homosexuality, what would that thing be?

As a founding member of the anti-oversimplification society, it is, alas, impossible for me to reduce my tale of these fun-lovin’ lesbians to one take-away nugget on the topic of lesbian life. Ideally I want my readers to be left entertained and stimulated (intellectually, of course). Seriously, in our society, where people experience being gay in a whole spectrum of ways (from “I don’t know any gay people, which is good because it’s a sin” to “All my friends sleep with each people not genders, we don’t think in terms of those old fashioned definitions”) what readers get from the book will differ wildly based on where they are in their own evolving understanding of what it means to be gay.

What attracted me to the pre-stonewall period that is the book’s setting, is that despite the repression and prejudice, gays and lesbians were still finding each other and managing to have some good times. Don’t misunderstand—I’m not saying the 50s were all fun and games for the queer community. However something a panelist said at a presentation on gay and lesbian history has always stuck with me (the nugget I took away, if you like). She said what she was most struck by in the interviews she was doing with people who lived through that period was that they had such positive memories—that they were actually having a really good time during those dark days, when the media mostly portrayed their lives as miserable and lonely. That contradiction is something I explore and exploit in my books.

December 17, 2008

What Inspires YOU to Write?

Come check me out at BLOGGING IN BLACK [LINK] today for my short reflection piece, WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO WRITE?

Recently, I was interviewed by my publisher, Lady Leo Publishing, and in the interview, I was asked, “Who/what inspired you to write?” My response was three-fold - life inspires me to write; what I fear inspires me to write; what I don't know inspires me to write.

@ BiB today, I go into a bit of detail as I talk about each of these three inspirations.

To read my piece, head to Blogging in Black [] and LEAVE YOUR OWN THOUGHTS!

December 16, 2008

Honest Scrap Award

Recently, I've received a pretty cool gift from Helen H. David {Ink in My Sweet Tea} for this blog - All the Blog's a Page. I'm giving big shout outs and love to Helen for honoring my blog; it means a lot to me, :-) Here's a pic of my lovely award...

Now, in order to receive this blogging award, a recipient must...

1. List 10 honest things about him/herself (make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!)
2. Pass the award on to 7 bloggers (I hope I don't pass it to someone who already has it!)


1. I believe in love, but I'm not sure it's for me.

2. In the 9th grade, I threw up on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

3. I like the taste of lined school paper - regular, not college-ruled.

4. I'm nowhere near where I really want to be in my life.

5. As much as people gravitate toward me, wanting me to comfort them, I prefer to be alone.

6. I speak in tongues.

7. I have an innate, obsessive need to please.

8. The current novel I've been working on has been shelved because my life changed and I'm a little angry with the story now.

9. Sometimes, I wish I didn't love to write.

10. A lot of the time, I don't feel appreciated for any of the things I do.

There are MANY blogs that I travel to, and the seven below are ones that I enjoy beyond measure because the blog authors share their knowledge with full honesty, wit, and talent. You'll find seven more..just like my official author blog {}.

1. Meglyn @ From My Perspective

2. Suyen @ Just Like a Novel

3. Whitney McKim @ Lost & Found

4. Linda Jo Martin @ Perspectives on Writing

5. YA Edge @ YA Edge

6. Heather @ Bashful Muse

7. Annette Fix @ Annette's Paper Trail

Bloggers - do me proud!

December 15, 2008

Homosexuality & Writing: Lee Hayes, Editor of Flesh to Flesh

The Author

Lee Hayes is the bestselling author of the novels Passion Marks and A Deeper Blue: Passion Marks II and The Messiah. On May 20, 2008, Mr. Hayes released his fourth book, an anthology of gay erotic short stories entitled Flesh to Flesh.

Mr. Hayes is a southern native, born and raised in Tyler, Texas, a small town approximately ninety miles east of Dallas. He graduated from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. In the summer of 2005, Mr. Hayes completed his graduate studies and received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, City University of New York.

Mr. Hayes understands and truly believes in the exceptional and profound power of words to delight, to heal, to entertain as well as to elicit change in lives of readers. It is his sincere hope that by reading his words that people will come to understand that actions yield real consequences which will affect their lives for better or for worse. He hopes that we all choose wisely. He also hopes that readers realize the innate value of their existence and that they dare dream to become more than they ever thought possible.

Mr. Hayes currently resides in Washington, D.C., where he is busy working to complete his third novel, as well as an anthology of erotic stories focusing on the unique lives of gay African-American men. He can be reached via e-mail at: or via his website at or

Mr. Hayes was the 2004 winner of National Black Book Awards for the Urban Spectrum Newspaper in Denver for Passion Marks and was a finalist in literature for the Clik Magazine Elite 25 Honors held in Atlanta on November 25, 2006.

The Book

“I can’t tell you what he looks like, neither can he describe me, but we will be written in history as blind lovers forever to be...”

Maurice Murrell, Flesh to Flesh Cover Model

Erotic is defined as arousing, or designed to arouse, feelings of sexual desire. In his latest effort, Lee Hayes, the award-winning and highly-acclaimed author of Passion Marks and the thriller The Messiah, steps out of the box and adds to his writing credentials as editor of the highly anticipated erotic anthology Flesh to Flesh, released on the Simon and Schuster imprint, Strebor Books International. Taking a page from Strebor International’s founder and New York Times bestselling author Zane, Hayes picks up the torch and provides an electrically charged and unapologetic look into the sexual lives of gay men—a world once considered taboo and forbidden.

Hayes has assembled a virtual “who’s who” in gay literature, including teacher and performance artist Tim’m West (Red Dirt Revival: A Poetic Memoir in Six Breaths & Flirting) and the ever prolific L.M. Ross (Manhood: The Longest Moan and The Moanin’ After). Flesh to Flesh also offers scintillating tales of love and passion from up and coming voices of gay writers, including Rodney Lofton (The Day I Stopped Being Pretty) and Dayne Avery (I Wrote This Song). The lives of gay men are presented in a rare, totally honest view of their pursuits of passion, unbridled love and candle-dripping lust.

Poet and Flesh to Flesh cover model Maurice Murrell sets the tone with his thought provoking "I Can’t Tell You What He Looked Like" and the excitement grows from there. The hot and yet heartbreaking, "Pretty in the Hood" by Fred Towers offers depth, passion and pain while the title story by Lee Hayes brings sexy back with familiar characters from his previous novels. Flesh to Flesh has something for everyone: passion, power, heat and heart.

Through this peep hole into the lives of men who have sex with men, Flesh to Flesh will titillate, excite and make you squeal with delight! These raw and gritty stories seethe with passion and desire, love and lust, sensuality and sexuality all in time for the sultry days and nights of summer.

Click the cover above to order FLESH TO FLESH today!


How have your works been received by readers of all orientations?

In general, my books have been received surprisingly well by people from all walks of life. One of the things that I try to do is try to create whole and fatally flawed characters, just like in real life. I don’t focus on sexuality as an aberration; my characters aren’t struggling with their sexual orientation, they know who they are and their homosexuality is just a part of their lives. So, when you create real people with real issues that folks can relate and connect to, then the reader usually gets caught up in the lives of the characters, not just their sexuality.

In Passion Marks, my first novel, I deal explicitly and graphically with domestic violence; in my book, the violence takes place within the context of an affluent, African-American male couple, which is far from the stereotypes surrounding abuse. The theme of domestic violence is universal and people can relate to it because they’ve heard of it, seen it in their own homes or, unfortunately, they’ve experienced it. Domestic violence does not discriminate and there is no demographic group that is immune or exempt from it, not even gay men and lesbians. Passion Marks is an in-depth exploration of what it feels like to live in an abusive relationship and people, through their own personal pain, connect with this book because its themes are boundless and the story itself feels very real.

In the stories you have written and are planning to write, what ideas and themes do you see reoccurring that shed light on homosexuality?

I am so into the idea that we—all of us—are far more alike than we are different. Gay people have the same hopes, dreams, pain, love and desire as straight people. So, as I write, I write about whole people, not caricatures in which sexuality is exploitative or gratuitous. I live in the hope that as we evolve as a country and as a world, sexuality will be less and less important. Clearly, in a perfect world, no social evolution would be needed because we’d accept everyone as equal, for who they are. That day is elusive, yet I believe it is within our destiny.

Also, one of the things that creates a divide between people about homosexuality is religion. I’ve spoken about gays and the black church in A Deeper Blue and The Messiah. In A Deeper Blue, there is a scene that takes place in a church where a renowned preacher is giving a fire and brimstone condemnation of homosexuality and is challenged, at last, by someone from the congregation, Kevin Davis and Danea Charles. Kevin speaks to the pastor about spreading hate and how venomous words fill the heart of people with contempt and loathing. At some point, he says these good Christians need a lesson about what it means to be a good Christian. Christianity, the way Christ taught it, was not about judging and condemning your fellow man. It was about love and acceptance and the church these days, insofar as homosexuality is concerned, does a grievous disservice to Christianity, gay and straight people, by building this animosity within its hallowed walls.

As a gay man, I understand people will have varying opinions of homosexuality and that their religion may teach them that it is wrong. I’m perfectly okay with people disagreeing—that’s what this country and life is about; however, I am not okay with people telling me that because I am gay that I am “less than” and that I don’t deserve the same civil rights as straight people. That’s some bullshit. I and other gay people pay the same taxes and live under a banner in a country that proudly says, “equal protection under the law” but gay people, in innumerable ways, are denied equal protection. In well over 30 states a person can be fired from their job simply because they are gay. My boss could walk into the room and say, “I found out you’re gay. You’re fired” and there is no recourse because there are no laws protecting gay people from employment or housing discrimination in many places. Tell me, what is equal about that?

At the end of the day, if there was one thing you wanted your readers to remember in regards to homosexuality, what would that thing be?

Again, that we are far more alike than we are different. We are your sons and daughters; your brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers. We are a part of this American tapestry and we deserve, by virtue of the fact that we are here, equal rights—not special rights—but equal rights.

I also want the church and Christian people to know that, as in my book The Messiah, you create monsters when you spew hate. Words have power and there are so many children who commit suicide because they are told they are going to hell because they have feelings that are natural to them, but yet is condemned with such weight by folks who have no business judging. I want the church and Christian people to know that they give tacit permission for horrific gay-bashings all across the nation in which gay men and women are beaten with bricks, stomped to death or beaten and tied to fences in the middle of a deserted field by creating an atmosphere in which gay people are treated as “other” or “those people.” I want the church and Christian people to know that you can disagree with homosexuality without being hateful and without filling our children with so much dread and fear that they only way they can see out of the pain is through suicide. Lastly, I want Christians to always know that their words have power. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

December 8, 2008

Homosexuality & Writing: Eternity Philops, Author of Visions of a Cryptic Mystery

The Author

Eternity Philops is a born-and-bred native of North Carolina. Birthed in Winston-Salem in 1983, she was raised in the capital city of Raleigh and earned her B.A. degree in the dual fields of psychology and sociology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has also completed graduate work in the area of conflict resolution. In addition to becoming an accomplished author, Philops’ ultimate professional goal is to become a counselor, aiding individuals in the understanding of balance between sexuality and spirituality.

Since 2004 she has been a contributing writer to SABLE Magazine, an online periodical focused on matters concerning lesbians of color. In 2006 Philops joined the staff of The NUBIANO Project, an online news source catering to the Black community. But opinion pieces are not Philops’ only forte. Under the former pen name of maLana t., she has had her poetry and short stories featured in a number of publications. Her signature poem, “Attraction”, was featured on the lesbian erotica site, Kuma, in 2006. In the December 2005 issue of Gay Black Female Magazine, readers were treated to “Other Side of the Moon”, a short story exploring the road not traveled between two lifelong friends. Always seeking to share her lyrical creations, Philops’ goal as a writer is to add her perspective to the growing genre of Black lesbian fiction. A fresh and unique voice, Philops hopes to one day establish her original writing style into her own well-known oeuvre.

Eternity can be found @ several spots online, to include her website and her MySpace page, and the following online stores: Fledgeling Foto // Defined by Faith // Buy This Stuff

The Book

VISIONS OF A CRYPTIC MYSTERY: VOLUME ONE is Eternity Philops' first accomplished collection. A debut of her unique writing style and talent, VISIONS showcases a diverse compendium of poetry and short stories born to Philops' over an extensive period of time.

Divided into concentrated segments, Philops' literary assemblage encompasses works expressing love, life, and loss. Each piece is a real world reflection of the Black lesbian experience: feel the intense sensations of a woman's divergent physical attraction; look on as two lifelong friends reflect on the path not taken. Submerge yourself in the poetic prose of unconditional love, unfortunate loss, and all that's inbetween.

VISIONS VOL. ONE will take readers on a journey that delves into their own emotions and passions. From the sexual to the spiritual, Philops' creative imagery and metaphoric verse brings to life one's own imaginative and emotional senses.

Click the cover above to order VISIONS OF A CRYPTIC MYSTERY: VOLUME ONE today!


How have your works been received by readers of all orientations?
The response to my book has been overwhelmingly positive, from readers and reviewers, straight and gay. Though I dedicated it to Black lesbians, the raw emotion behind the poetry and short stories is familiar to anyone. I also like to think that my unique writing talent attracts readers. I try to be different, to stand out among other writers with my style.

Even in cases of disagreement on the issue of homosexuality itself I have still had a positive experience. There was an instance where I submitted myself and my work for review. The reviewer was unfamiliar with the content or my orientation, and upon finding out, he actually considered passing over me because I am gay. In the end he decided that exposing writers was far more important than his personal views, which I of course agreed with completely. The experience was an encouraging one in that this person did not let his personal prejudices cloud his opinion of me as an author. Too often it happens the other way around.

In the stories you have written and are planning to write, what ideas and themes do you see reoccurring that shed light on homosexuality?
My main goal is to show others how individuals who are gay are just regular people. We live and love just like heterosexuals, and yet are labeled perverse for no intelligent reason. In my book, my poetry is heart-felt and true. They reflect the passions of the soul, feelings of joy and pain, love and hate; they are of the quintessential human experience that any person would be able to relate to.

The lover in the poem “Cosmic Intimacy” declares,

My passion for you burns hotter
than the fires of Mercury
A flame that will never be extinguished

Come soar with me
Be my love
The heavens our open road to dreams unknown
Let us explore our eternity together

On the opposite end, a heart-broken devotee laments,

Gruesome Love, thou art pain
When left to consume mine heart untamed
When left to flourish and to swell
Thou makest mine heart insane!

These feelings are not unique to lesbians, or even to women, but are shared by anyone who has ever experienced the thrill and loss of love.

Like my poetry, my short stories, while lesbian-themed, revolve around both personal and real life issues. In terms of the personal, a character may simply find herself attracted to a woman for the first time, which is the case in “Almost First Kiss”; or, as displayed in “Other Side of the Moon”, characters experience the heart break of losing the possibility of love. Such occurrences are simply events of life, and are not exclusive to just homosexuals.

My characters deal with not only their own problems, but those brought to them by society. Often these issues involve their sexuality, whether or not the characters themselves make it an issue. For instance, in my short story “An Affirmative Action”, Lena is a successful career-driven lawyer who has neither hidden nor broadcast her sexuality in her workplace, simply because it’s not a concern for her. That is, until she learns she’s getting a promotion and that the firm’s founder is a bit “conservative”. So now she has to decide whether to hide that part of herself to further her career, or be true to herself and her mate. Such a dilemma isn’t typically faced by heterosexuals, which illustrates how even the smallest decision on whether or not to bring a long-time lover to a workplace function can have dire consequences for the gay individual.

At the end of the day, if there was one thing you wanted your readers to remember in regards to homosexuality, what would that thing be?
I want others to remember that being gay does not determine who a person is. It’s not just straight people, but also gay individuals who believe that homosexuality determines who we are and how we act. The simple matter is that we are all individuals with our own idiosyncrasies. Our actions are based upon our personal values and our character, neither of which have anything to do with sexuality. Lastly, I want others to think about the term “gay lifestyle”, and decide if it really and truly exists. After all, is there a “straight lifestyle”?




I tasted love
slid thee around on my tongue
drowned mine senses
and savored thy sweetness
I supped from the grail
of thy fragrant element
and soon
allured by thy zest
wantonly quaffed thy silky ingredient
I relished love
I consumed thy pith
into my being
melted our bloods
and infused thy spirit upon my soul
Reborn is mine heart
from moral darkness into decadent light
and surveilled by the wraith of death
for thou hast an obscure portion
a seraphic venom
an unholy anodyne
I tasted love
and was poisoned

© Eternity Philops

December 1, 2008

Homosexuality & Writing: J.M. Snyder, Author of The Positions of Love

The Author

An author of gay erotic and romantic fiction, J.M. Snyder began in self-publishing and now works with e-publishers Amber Allure, Aspen Mountain, and Torquere Presses. Snyder’s short fiction has appeared online at Ruthie’s Club, Tit-Elation, and Amazon Shorts, as well as in print anthologies by Alyson Books and Cleis Press.

Want to learn more about J.M.? Check him out at his official site // Vic and Matt Fan Site // blog // Yahoo! Group!

The Book

Vic Braunson is a city bus driver who falls in love with Matt diLorenzo, a swimmer he meets at the gym. When they finally hook up, there's no denying the energy between them. Something about Matt brings out the best in Vic—literally. Every time they have sex, Vic gains new superhuman powers from his lover.

When Matt gives Vic a copy of the Kama Sutra for Gay Men as a Christmas gift, they find it doubles as a handy reference guide to Vic's super powers. All they have to do is test out the positions to see which one gives him what ability.

This paperback collection contains all twelve stories in J.M. Snyder's best-selling e-book series, The Positions of Love, and will be available in print December 2008.

Click the cover above to order THE POSITIONS OF LOVE today!


How have your works been received by readers of all orientations?
I’ve found a great response among people of all orientations, particularly those who write themselves. Writers tend to gravitate toward other writers and connect over a shared craft, regardless of genre. Still, gay fiction (and, in particular, gay erotic romance or romantic fiction) is mostly purchased by straight women and gay men, so this is the demographic to whom I market my books. The majority of my electronic sales are to straight women, usually mothers, who read romance in general and have a rabid interest in M/M or “male/male” storylines. However, my print books sell more to gay men, and I target the marketing to independent GLBT bookstores who are more likely to carry my titles than the large conglomerate stores such as Books-A-Million or Barnes and Noble.

In the stories you have written and are planning to write, what ideas and themes do you see reoccurring that shed light on homosexuality?
In my stories, I don’t treat homosexuality as “other” or “abnormal.” So many books out there make a big deal about a character’s homosexuality, either through denial or confusion, and I hate the stories where an otherwise straight man is “gay” for his best friend. That’s just silly to me. My characters are queer and they know it; there is no wavering over whether or not they like another man, no morality or judgment involved, nothing of the sort. My characters embrace their sexuality and don’t go out of their way to change it or deny it. They celebrate it, and I like to think that readers come away from my stories with a sense of embracing every part of oneself.

Additionally, I like to portray my characters’ relationships in a positive, domestic light. I think that’s why my work appeals to gay men so much, because I show them a world where their sexuality is the norm—where two men can share a meal or a movie or a life together in domestic bliss usually reserved for heterosexual couples.

At the end of the day, if there was one thing you wanted your readers to remember in regards to homosexuality, what would that thing be?
I like to believe that one day we’ll move toward acceptance of love in all its many facets, and we can only get there by breaking down the preconceived prejudices we’ve been taught to harbor. I hope my writing helps show that gay relationships are the norm and not an “alternative lifestyle” as they’re so frequently labeled.

November 24, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author Sarah Weathersby

The Author

Sarah Weathersby is a self-described “retired geek and card-carrying-radical Old Broad.” She was born in the rectory of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Petersburg, Virginia during the time that her Daddy was rector. She attended segregated public schools in Petersburg until her Mother died, and she was sent to live in Washington, DC with her brother and his wife. Sarah graduated from high school in Washington, and went on to college at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey where she majored in German Literature and spent a junior year in Munich. She met her first husband while he was a student in the Theological School at Drew. They settled in North Carolina and raised two sons. Sarah earned her MBA from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. After the death of her husband, she found her long-lost daughter who inspired her memoir, Motherless Child, stories from a life, her first published work. She lives in Raleigh with her second husband, when they are not traveling from Agadir to Maui, riding camels or bicycles.

Learning more about Sarah is easy; just head to one of the following places: her website // her blog // Facebook // Twitter

The Book

-The Secret that Became a Celebration

Imagine you gave a baby up for adoption forty years ago, and after years of trying to find her, she finds you. Now come the hard questions. She's healthy, beautiful, and successful, but she wants to know why you gave her away and why you didn't marry her father. And there is also the unspoken question of "What kind of black woman gives her baby away?" How do you explain to her that giving her away was the best gift you could offer? This is Sarah Weathersby's first published work, a coming-of-age-in-the-sixties-single-black-pregnant and on the way to Germany, memoir.

Click the cover above to order MOTHERLESS CHILD - STORIES FROM A LIFE today!

The Excerpt


I never thought I would find Teal’s father almost forty years after I last heard from him. Jimmy is such a common name that I didn’t even try searching on the internet until the last remaining volume of my journal fell out of a box of tax receipts. I had written in the journal that he had married Paula. That turned out to be just enough information to find him as an associate with a full page on the Howard University website that had his photograph and enough other information for me to find a phone number as well. I was trembling when I left the message, “You will remember me as Sarah Gordon. I have some exciting news to tell you.”

He returned the call the next day, but he needed his teenaged son to help him with the call. He had had a stroke that affected the speech center of his brain. His speech wasn’t at all slurred, but it was difficult for him to put the words together especially over the phone. He remembered me, of course, and he seemed happy to hear I had found our daughter. Paula came on the line to explain that he might understand it all better if I wrote him a letter. That was going to make it easier for me as well; I was shaky, trying to say the right things, since I didn’t want to lose this contact. Teal wanted to meet her father.

It had been only three months since I had met our daughter, the child I gave up for adoption so long ago. I had tried many years to find her, and even signed up with the Adoption Registry, but until she decided to look for her birth mother, they would not give out the contact information. The idea of looking for her birth parents never crossed her mind until she became a mother herself. And now she wanted to know why I gave her up.

I called Teal to tell her that I had found her father. She seemed relieved that another piece of the puzzle was completed, and happy to know there was more family for her to meet. She had already developed a strong connection with my son Joshua through regular phone calls, and she hoped to have that same connection with Jimmy’s daughters. I wrote to Jimmy, and sent photos to Paula and their daughters by email. The following month she met all of her long-lost family on both sides, giving her the brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts as she had never had and always wished for.

The experience of finding Teal has been such a blessing, but also caused me to replay that time through my memory. I hardly remember the girl I was back then, and it’s difficult to sort out all the thought processes and reasons I gave myself. When I looked back over my life, I often wondered if I should regret giving a child away. How could I regret, when I didn’t know how the story ended? I knew that at the time, I could not have provided for Teal what two loving parents could give her. Now that I know they gave her more than I ever could have, I know it was the right decision for that time, and I have no regrets.

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 female writer?

I write about the things that keep me awake at night, as well as the things that bring me joy. If you follow my blogs, the topics can be the trivial how to work my new camera or the gut-wrenching mental breakdown of a family member. I started writing poems as a little girl when my oldest brother went off to the Korean War.

My first published book Motherless Child – stories from a life is a memoir that focuses on my decision to give a child up for adoption and the years of not knowing where she was. The heart of the story touches on women’s relationships. My mother died of breast cancer when I was twelve years old, leaving me motherless, then I become the childless mother, and evolve to the point where I, in a sense, become my mother, finishing the life she wasn’t able to. The story is also a “coming-of-age-in-the sixties” story. As we baby boomers reach retirement, we will see a lot of those. But unlike some I have read from the “Woodstock” generation, mine speaks more of the Civil Rights Era. And although the experience transcends gender, I have to tell it from the heart of the girl that I was at the time.

I have two projects that I’m working on that also come from personal experience, more things that keep me awake at night. First is a murder mystery that takes place on the internet. It is loosely based on events that happened on a social networking site. In my 10 years of social networking on the internet, I have usually been the senior member of a circle of friends. People know me as “saraphen” and have come to trust me as a motherly advisor, telling me their secrets. The story is fiction with my fictional character as a sleuth. There was no murder in real life, but there was intrigue, a lot of humor, and the death of a dear friend. I hope I can write it to honor my friend and bring some closure to the grief.

The second project also comes from a woman’s perspective. I’m struggling with how to tell it without violating the privacy of a family member. It will become either a fictionalized account from the perspective of a mother, or non-fiction report of the failures of the mental health system and the black community’s inability to deal with mental illness.

November 17, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author Annette Fix

The Author

Annette Fix published numerous articles and editorials in her high school newspaper, located in a town full of trailer parks and meth labs. She moved on to write a campus lifestyle column for a community college newspaper until her 4.0 grade-point average propelled her into a private university.

Once there, she worked 40 hours a week in a government job, attended school fulltime, and cared for her beautiful toddler son (the direct result of a nightclub drinking and dancing accident). Annette dropped out of college 8 units short of graduation because she refused to rewrite her thesis. She still believes absurdist theatre is a vital contribution to world dramaturgy.

Annette went on to have grand aspirations of writing the next great American novelty. On her journey toward that lofty goal, she often found inspiration while busting her tail working as an exotic dancer to support her son and feed her writing habit.

She is currently designing ancillary merchandise such as T-shirts, chocolate-scented perfume, and an emaciated action figure to promote her memoir, The Break-Up Diet. These products will be sold in the alley after her spoken-word readings.

Annette lives in Laguna Niguel, California with her Prince Charming, teenage son, and two rescued dogs.

Wanna learn more about The World of Annette? There's a slew of places online to get the 411:

The Book

Annette Fix always believed in happily-ever-after and was busy working her Five-Year Plan: marry her golf-pro boyfriend, homeschool her preteen son, become a famous writer, and retire to Fiji. When her live-in boyfriend calls it quits, Annette finds herself on The Break-Up Diet, consuming vast amounts of chocolate and exercising by diving blindly into the shallow end of the dating pool.

Working as an exotic dancer to bankroll her aspiring writing career and support her son alone, Annette uses her blue-collar instinct to survive in the plastic jungle of The OC.

Annette’s adventures take her on a wild ride as she attempts find the perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

“The Break-Up Diet is delicious. Heartbreaking and humorous...any woman can relate.” ~ Jill Soloway, author of Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, and writer for ABC's Grey's Anatomy

"In this delectable memoir, Annette Fix serves up a fresh, funny, honest, and insightful dish of sex and the single mom." ~ Colleen Sell, editor of A Cup of Comfort series

Click the cover above to order THE BREAK-UP DIET 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 female writer?

I’ve written freelance copy, articles, interviews, and reviews, but I consider that more business than pleasure. I’ve written creatively in many genres: stage play, feature film screenplay, personal essay/spoken-word, fiction, and memoir. When I look at my creative body of work, both published and unpublished/unproduced, the common theme always revolves around relationships.

I find myself drawn to write memoir and stories based on true events and the experiences of actual people. I’ve become less enamored with fiction—both reading and writing. Anyone can imagine how characters might behave in a certain situation, what internal and external motivations might cause them to think, speak, or act in a particular way. But, I’m fascinated by the truth of these things—what real people have actually done when faced with ordinary and extraordinary challenges, significant moments in their lives that have changed them in some way.

I enjoy finding universal experiences in my life that connect me to others. One of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had, as a writer, has been when I’ve received emails from readers who were touched by and resonated with the experiences I related in my book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir.

My next two books-in-progress are both memoirs. One is a prequel to The Break-Up Diet that chronicles the misadventures that resulted in me becoming a 21-year-old single mother—the story of my wild-child youth and how motherhood altered my consciousness. I believe there are certain turning points in a woman’s life when a decision she makes changes the course of her life, and ultimately her, forever. I want to explore that concept and share it with readers.

The other book idea was inspired by the audiences who have seen my spoken-word performances of my personal essay, The Tao of Stripping, which reveals what I learned about society, men, and myself while working in a gentlemen’s club for six years—the dynamics of prejudice, hypocrisy, visual needs and desire for connection, body image and sexuality, and so many other forces at work in relationships between men and women. The essay touched on many topics I intend to explore further in book form. I never thought it would be a story I would ever tell, but after each performance, women came to me asking if the essay was an excerpt of a published book they could buy somewhere. They all wanted to know more about the insights I shared. With such fervent interest—how could I not put that story out into the world?

This interview question really made me think about my purpose and intention with my writing—something I feel at a gut level, but never actually articulated until now. As a female writer and memoirist, I want to reach out to other women with my stories, unite with these sisters, and give a voice to (and create a tangible record of) our universal experiences. There is plenty of history in books, but not nearly enough herstory.

November 10, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author J. D. Mason

The Author

J.D. Mason is the author of several bestselling novels including, And On The Eighth Day She Rested, This Fire Down In My Soul, and her latest novel, You Gotta Sin To Get Saved. She is the recipient of the Atlanta Choice Award and has been nominated for the American Literary Award Show 2008 Award and The Romantic Times award for Best Contemporary Fiction. Her novels have all been selected by The Black Expressions Book Club as main selections.

Her work has made the Dallas Morning News and Black Expressions, and’s bestseller lists. She is currently hard at work on her next book, and her upcoming novel, That Devil’s No Friend of Mine, will be released in March 2009 from St. Martin’s Press.

You can learn more about J.D. by checking her out at MySpace and her website.

The Book

Charlotte Rodgers has always wanted too much; love, attention, and to live the life of her dreams in a rich man’s arms. It was the reason she ended up abandoning her two daughters, Connie and Reesy to chase after a man and the promise of her dream life. Now, twenty-seven years later, her whole world shifts yet again with a letter from one of her daughters. And the past is about to bust wide open.

Reesy has always been obsessed with something, including finding the mother who abandoned her and her sister when they were children, That is until Reesy is brought crashing back to earth to find that her perfect marriage is in tattered pieces.

Connie has always expected too little, from the man in her life, and especially herself. Until she discovers she is pregnant again and decides that this time she is keeping her baby, sending her life and her relationship into a tailspin.

Thrown back together again, in a maelstrom of shocking truths, Charlotte, Reesy and Connie will discover on their journey to forgiveness and redemption that you just might have to sin first in order to be saved.

Click the cover above to order YOU GOTTA SIN TO GET SAVED 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 female writer?

I think I’m psychic! LOL Or, maybe just very intuitive. I seem to find myself pursuing the story within the story, meaning, the story of turmoil or revelation going on inside the characters, in addition to the turmoil and revelations going on around them. I don’t know if anyone else would agree, but that’s the heart of the story to me. I look at it like this, five totally unrelated people could be going through the exact same problem (or pretty similar); they could all be broke, or sick, or having problems in their romantic relationships. But those five people will each have a different perspective of their issues, and they’ll each approach their solutions to those issues differently. For instance, one woman might discover that her husband is cheating on her, and go ballistic beating him with a broomstick. Whereas another woman could have the same discovery, but ends up throwing his clothes on the front lawn, sets them on fire, changes all the locks on the house and files for divorce. WWTCD (What Would The Character Do?)? Once I determine who the character is, that’s the question I continually ask myself from the beginning to the end of the story. And that means that I have to know this character well enough to realistically create her storyline from her perspective. Sometimes that means going against tendencies that would come naturally to me. In my first novel, And On The Eighth Day She Rested, my main character Ruth Johnson stayed in an abusive marriage for 14 years because she was the kind of woman who would do that. I personally wouldn’t stay in one for 14 seconds, but the story wasn’t my story. It was hers.

So, I get a kick out of writing stories that force me to step outside myself and to wear someone else’s shoes for awhile. The biggest challenge I’ve had doing this so far was when I decided to write from a man’s perspective, which I did in One Day I Saw A Black King, and even more challenging, from a crazy man’s perspective in my short story "The Lazarus Man", in my latest book, Sleep Don’t Come Easy, co-written with Victor McGlothin. Being a woman, and like most women, I think I know what men are really like, but I can admit that in most cases, I get it wrong. Writing from a man’s perspective is tough, and if

I’ve been successful; it’s because I’ve been pretty doggone lucky. I have loved doing it, though, and look forward to venturing out and trying new and different types of characters who absolutely do not represent me. That’s the heart and soul of creativity.

More and more, I find myself really wanting to step outside my comfort zone to try drastically new and different storylines and genres. I’ve recently decided to take a shot at writing science fiction/horror, which is odd because I tend to scare quite easily. But I’m excited about it, because it’s exhilarating and new and challenging, and what’s even funnier is that, when I’m doing the writing, I’m not afraid. I don’t get it, but that’s how it’s worked. I guess the creative side of me thrives on new challenges and on venturing out into new frontiers. My attention span is very short, so once I feel as if I’ve accomplished one goal, then I set my sights on something new, and with that, I’m always being driven forward as a writer, reaching out to those undiscovered and unsuspecting types of characters that, while on the surface may not appear to be very interesting or outstanding, under the surface, may have vivid and compelling stories, the kind that hold readers captive and keep them riveted.

November 1, 2008

Being a Female Writer: Author Annette Marie Hyder

The Author

Annette Marie Hyder is a freelance journalist; an editor, artist and author. She selfishly—yes, selfishly—involves herself in issues and causes that she feels will impact the life of her daughter, issues such as: feminism, global conservation/ecology, human rights, literacy and education, empowerment and identity and just plain fun (she admits to being interested in these things on their own merit too.)

She is the founder and curator of the international feminist project Facing Feminism: Feminists I Know and the Literature Editor for INTHEFRAY Magazine. Her poetry has been translated into German, Italian and Spanish, included in numerous anthologies and published in book form.

Her book "The Consequence of Wings (On Angels and Monsters and Other Winged Things) has been praised by Larry Jaffe (Co-Founder of the United Nation's DIALOGUE AMONG CIVILIZATIONS THROUGH POETRY program) and has been reviewed by the United Kingdom's premiere arts and literature magazine, AESTHETICA MAGAZINE. Her articles appear in print throughout the United States and internationally while her publishing credits encompass both print and electronic World Wide Web publication.

Learn more about Annette Marie Hyder at her website, her MySpace and Facebook pages.

The Book

Annette Marie Hyder’s signature attention to metaphor—metaphors that "ring all the bells in the kingdom"—leaves the reader resonant long after the last page has been turned and the book has been reluctantly put down.

Her latest book, The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow (and Other Stories), is a collection of short stories, poems and mythos miscellany inspired and informed by Fairy Tales, Folklore and Mythology. With influences such as Jung, the Brothers Grimm, Marina Warner and Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the collection's voice is modern and feminist in nature.

Click the cover above to order THE REAL REASON THE QUEEN HATED SNOW (and Other Stories) 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 female writer?

Stories are the promise of fire in a winter tundra land. Passion, exploration, discovery, and adversity are the huskies that draw my sled.

I am drawn to stories about passion, exploration and discovery. Adversity captures my imagination as well. Myths, fairytales and legends are woven throughout my work as reference, allusion, retelling, and mirror.

My heroine’s grow wings – are forbidden to fly – but flaunt their feathers anyway, lose their voices to Winter but find new ways to speak, meet the Big Bad Wolf and tell his tale with sympathy, pluck truths like fruits from fairytale trees and sink their teeth in. They fill their aprons and offer these fruits to others, make delicious dishes of them, preserve them, candied and canned but always with the essence remaining.

My heroines, whether walking through the shadows of adversity, running through avenues of fear, or pausing at intersections of indecision, have shod their feet with winged sandals and wear passion as a blade to pierce mysteries and conundrums alike. They search for the bridge that spans a void which has, on the one side fear, and on the other side discovery.

I am intrigued by not only the process of crossing that divide – but also what moves us to cross it in the first place. Some individuals by their very inquisitiveness, their looking around corners and into shadows, drive themselves forward in discovery. Other individuals need some sort of outside impetus – loss or danger – before they can be brought to the pathway of change to face and conquer fears.

Storytelling can be the narrative of change as well as the impetus of change. I hope for that with much of my writing, as when I illustrate modern evils through ancient motifs, such as the representation of abusive child labor with the poem, Batuk and his flying carpet, and reveal the ways that real life contemporaries can achieve things so phenomenal that they seem as far-fetched as any fairy tale as in my story, The Strength of Stones. In, Flowers: an essay, I hope that by using allegory I can open eyes and change minds.

My mind immediately makes connections between pin pricks (of the distaff in Sleeping Beauty or of the voodoo doll pins in Queenies Best), conscience pricks, the pricking of desire and the pricking of one’s thumbs when ‘something wicked this way comes’. It’s the way that I think and I think it is a feminine way of thinking – to connect so many things and be able to make common cloth of all of the connotations that converge.

As a woman writer, if I am a tree lining a bank – the bank to a river of stories which inspires and flows through me – you won’t find me just leaning over that bank. I am a tree with roots that curl and unfurl, take steps and walk. Not entirely rooted when my will takes me that way – I am a mangrove tree.

I am also interested in defying stereotypes and breaking down barriers to communication. In addition to my writing, my work, as the founder and curator of the Facing Feminism: Feminist I Know project and as the Literature Editor for IN THE FRAY Magazine, allows me to do this in a rewarding and meaningful way that incorporates the telling of stories.

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

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 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 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.

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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.