Monday, October 21, 2013

Thank you very much!

Thank you for stopping by my blog during the recent hop, everybody! I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, and I'm happy to announce Laurie has won a copy of my e-book, Kitchen Witch. Enjoy!

Hope to see you around, and thanks again!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Slipper When Wet Blog Hop Stop

Hi, everybody. I apologize for the lateness of this post, but I'm trying to get back in a regular rotation of all things online. I have to remember that life doesn't start and end with Facebook (especially with all the ginchy webcomics I follow on a daily basis!)

Since it's October and Christmas Halloween is mere days away, I'd like to offer visitors a chance to win a !FREE! copy of my e-book Kitchen Witch! It's really simple to enter: all you need to do is leave a comment below and that's it.

For a little extra witchy fun, here's Cass Elliot singing "Different" from the "H. R. Pufnstuf" movie:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What a difference a few...thousand...thousand days makes...

When I first came out to myself in 1981, I had no idea of the significance of the month. I'm not certain of the exact date, but all I can remember was it was during June.

Pride Month.

Over the years, I've been to celebrations in different cities, even making a pilgrimage to San Francisco in 2001 to mark 25 years being out. One thing I've noticed is how much they've changed from the first historical marches. They've turned into neighborhood festivals with face painters and beer gardens and turkey legs and financial planners looking to sell you their services and local churches who have QUILTBAG congregants and booths where you can have your picture taken in an oversize easy chair so you can look all Edith Ann (kids! Ask your parents!)

And I wonder where these festivals will be in another 20 or 30 years.

When Pride began after the Stonewall Riots, they were a call to political action and public recognition. Nowadays, they're more of a public celebration, and I wonder if much of the call to political action gets lost in the vendors hawking lemonade shake-ups and rainbow-patterned oven mitts. True, Minnesota has much to celebrate this year with the passage of the same-sex marriage act but there are still many states where it's perfectly legal to fire somebody for being QUILTBAG. (Never mind I think the current institution of marriage is truly fucked and needs to be overhauled before allowing anybody to marry, and that the same-sex marriage debate is seriously misguided when there are still states where QUILTBAG people can still be fired and denied housing, and we need to getting that fixed before we should worry about getting married, but that's another rant for another time.)

The tenor has certainly changed since I first came out. Around that time, an infection was starting to hit the gay male populations of many large American cities, finally getting the acronym GRID. Around the time I went to my first Pride Parade in Chicago, people were getting fired-up over the lack of concern and action from the US government so there was a certain sense of anger. Since then, the parades and celebrations I've gone to have, again, been more neighborhood block party unless there's been a major issue that's scheduled to be voted on at the following election.

I know I'm not one to lecture others on political (in)action. I'm not out in the fields ringing doorbells or handing out flyers or making phone calls on a regular basis; I'm lucky to get the occasional hair up my ass to make blog and forum posts online about things that gripe my cookies. I know there's much to be celebrated every June but when the day comes we have full, equal status in the US, what's going to happen at the Pride Celebrations? Will there even be parades and neighborhood festivals? Once the younger generations become the burnt-out old farts of tomorrow, where will we be?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

We have a WINNAH!

As part of the recent Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, I'd announced I was giving away a copy of Kitchen Witch, my recent e-book.  I'm happy to (finally) announce that Karl is the winner!  Thanks again to everybody who stopped by and entered, and I hope to see you all again real soon.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, a day created in 2004 to bring awareness to the issue that more needs to be done to stop discrimination based on a person's gender identity and sexual preference.  Even as Minnesota celebrates becoming the 12th state in the US to allow same-sex marriage, more needs to be done on a larger scale and IDAHO works to achieve that.

From May 17-27, I'll be participating in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia to help do my part in spreading the word.  Different parts of the US have different ideologies about GLBT people, and I remember one time shortly after I'd moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I felt more comfortable about being open and who I am there than I did back home in South Bend, Indiana, and had bought a t-shirt that declares NOBODY KNOWS I'M GAY (I think I still might even have that shirt around somewhere, even though it fit about 30 years and 50 pounds ago).  I went back to South Bend to visit friends and family there, and wore the shirt on my arrival.  When my best friend and I got to one of our favorite places for coffee, I'd taken off my jacket and immediately remembered where I was and what I was wearing.

Then I quickly crossed my arms across my chest to hide the message and deflect attention, and sat down.

It took me a long time before I was comfortable telling people I'm gay without apologizing for upsetting or offending them.  During my time being out (I first came out to myself in June, 1981), I've been quite lucky I haven't experienced the outright discrimination and violence many people have elsewhere, but attitudes are changing.  Of course, it's still possible to be fired in many states in the United States for being gay or transgender, but we're slowly turning the corner on that.  Hard to believe this happens in a country where many basic freedoms are supposedly guaranteed in a document that contains the phrase "...all men are created equal".

As part of the hop, I'll be giving away a copy of my e-book Kitchen Witch.  It's my latest gay romance, and all you need to do to enter is leave your name and email address in a comment on this post.  That's all.  Pretty easy, yes?  Meanwhile, I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the hop's participants, and thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog!

I came home from this year's RT Booklovers Convention (link to their page on Flickr) this past Monday, and I just want to say a big THANK YOU! to everybody I saw there, particularly those who stopped at my table during the E-Book, Indie Published, and Graphic Novel Expo (again, link to their Flickr page).  That has been a highlight of the conference for me because it gives me a chance to say "hi!" to people, particularly my fellow authors (watch out for Nikki Duncan.  She throws Snickers Minis at people she knows.  I know.  Sounds horrible, don't it?)  I also had the chance to hang out with people I only see online the rest of the year and talk shop with them (hi, Grace!  Hi, Lori!  Hi, Vanessa!  Hi, Christine!).

There are times where I forget most of this "author" jazz and lose the focus of why I go to RT Booklovers.  It's the social aspect that I need to get my face and name out there.  I have to remember I'm doing this not only to attend the seminars and pick up a few pointers and learn the business end, but to have people know me.  Lila Dubois, who sat next to me at my first RT Booklovers in 2011, stopped to say hello during the Expo.  Many of the cover models who attend remember me, as well, particularly Scott Nova, who was my escort during the masquerade at the 2011 and 2012 Faerie Balls.

I'm also learning that I have to reach out to people if I want that connection.  It's a difficult process for me, but I have to overcome that discomfort if I truly want to make that First Impression.  During the Fan-tastic Day party, I had an opportunity to do that.  I'd seen fellow M/M author Damon Suede last year in Chicago but really didn't have a chance to say anything.  This year, he was on a panel I'd attended but didn't have the chance to talk to him after that since everybody was scrambling to get to the next (even a 15-minute block of time between panels can evaporate quickly when you have to stop and chat with somebody!)  At the Fan-tastic Day party, he was doing emcee duty and calling out raffle ticket numbers for the door prizes.  I'd had a bunch of my promo material with me since I was A Scheduled Author, and I got the sudden idea that it would not only be a great idea to connect with the rest of the attendees, but to say "hi" to A Big Name.

I went to the front of the ballroom where the event was, and kindly waited off to the side for a chance to talk to him.  Well.  That was easier said than done.  Many of the ticket numbers went unclaimed so he had to pull another one and announce that.  It just kept going that way, and I was just waiting my turn.  As I waited, I had the usual internal monologue going when I want to speak to somebody:  Oh, please, shut up already so I can talk to you I just want to say something really quick it won't take that long will you just shut the hell up already oh my God I can't talk to him I'm going to say something rilly stoopid and he'll think I'm an idiot it'll just be easier if I die right here where I'm standing please shut up already!  I finally got a chance to talk to him when somebody was able to claim one of the door prizes, and I handed him sample chapter booklets for But I Never Said I Didn't Love You  and Kitchen Witch.  I told him I have some of his work, and I wanted him to sample some of mine.  He seemed genuinely pleased and I got a nice hug out of it, as well.

(Which he does very well.  And he's a cute little shit, which helps.)

Some people have asked me, and I've asked this myself, if I'm so overcome with this social awkwardness, why the hell am I an author?  Reaching out and connecting with people is a big part of it, and it scares me to death I have to do this.  Many times, though, when I move beyond the initial "oh, what do you write?  Anything recent?" type of conversation, I'm finding some very pleasant, fun conversations with others.  I've also had the chance to discuss some of these fears while at the conference this year, and for many it's a universal feeling.  There's that fear of rejection, which is a common aspect of the business and I have to learn to accept as a norm.

It's hard to separate the personal from the business, however.  It's also difficult for me to take peoples' positive feedback for what it is:  positive feedback.  I've had the rug pulled out from beneath me so many times, I find it hard to trust a person might actually have no ulterior motive when they tell me they like my book, other than telling me they liked my book.

I also find it difficult to discuss this without sounding like I'm only looking for pity or validation.

No.  Seriously.  I did have fun at RT Booklovers this year, and I'm glad I went and I'm planning on going next year.  It wasn't all trauma fits over my self worth as a human being or doubts over my writing.  I enjoyed myself immensely.  I guess I learned a bit more about the business than I'd expected.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

We now resume our regularly scheduled program...


The last seven months or so haven't been the easiest for me. Around September or October, I'd noticed some chest discomfort and thought it was from my backpack. I'd shift it to one shoulder and slow down, and the discomfort would subside. This happened to me several times, maybe two or three times a week, and I was getting concerned. Plus my blood sugar numbers had skyrocketed, about 30 to 40 points higher than usual. During a week I had off in November to use for National Novel Writing Month, my doctor had called to schedule some regular blood work to make sure my diabetes and cholesterol medications weren't interfering with anything else. I figured since I was going to the doctor, anyway, I decided I'd see him about the chest discomfort.

That morning, the alarm went off and I got up to hit the snooze button. And it hit me. Hard. It wasn't just discomfort but serious, constricting pain. I didn't know what the hell was going on but it had subsided by the time I had gotten up and was on the way to the bus to get to the doctor. Once there, I rearranged the appointment to include a consultation with my doctor and he set up an EKG along with the blood work. The cardiology specialist didn't like the results of the EKG and scheduled a stress test for later that afternoon. I'd heard about those and had never had one, so I wasn't really ready for the grinding and rubbing of the ultrasound wand against my ribs and sternum.

Once they got the initial readings, I was put on the treadmill and the real fun began. As the test progressed, my blood pressure shot up to 200/116 and I began to have some of the same chest discomfort I'd experienced earlier which led me to mention it to the doctor. Because of that, they cut the treadmill portion short and got the final readings they needed. I went home and got a disturbing call that evening.

The chest pain I'd experienced earlier that morning was a mild heart attack.

I misunderstood what was going on and completed miscommunicated everything to everybody who needed to know what was going on. I didn't realize that I had to be admitted to the hospital that night because the phone kept cutting in and out, so Peter was unnerved when I didn't come home. That, and a healthy dose of denial kept me from believing anything serious at all had happened (in the usual sick sense of humor I've come to expect from the universe, not counting staff, I was the youngest person in the unit.) The food was decent and I was slightly outraged at the miniscule portions, constantly reminding myself I WAS IN THE FUCKING HOSPITAL AND IN THE CARDIAC UNIT SO THEY WERE GOING TO HAVE TO BE MINISCULE. The boredom probably ravaged me the most, however. Since I wasn't clear on what was going on, I didn't even bother to grab my nook on the way to the emergency room, figuring I'd be in and out spit spot. And because of the IV in my hand, I couldn't sleep on my side, like I usually do. Sleeping on my back was incredibly uncomfortable for me, taking two nights to get used to it, which was almost pointless because I was released on the fourth day.

And I had to spend my birthday in the hospital getting an angiogram.

Having type II diabetes, I usually don't need insulin shots but because my blood sugar numbers were so scattered, they became part of my medication regime while I was there. They finally stabilized when the doctor had hoped, so I was released when they'd expected it. The angiogram showed a blocked artery but they didn't put in a stent because two smaller arteries around it were doing the extra work and the cardiologist decided a medication regime would be just as beneficial.

I'm now on a total of NINE prescriptions for diabetes, acid reflux, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the blocked artery. Of course, the medication for the artery is the only one that's not a generic but the plan from work covers a huge chunk of it. I've also gone through a cardiac rehab program that was recommended by my cardiologist and I'm trying to adhere to most of it. And trying to fight through the biggest, deepest round of guilt, anger, self-hatred, and self-loathing I've ever experienced. I know everything I was doing wrong for myself and to myself, and have incessantly beat myself up over it. Much of it could have been prevented and the severity lessened, sure, but with my medical history it was a case of when I'd develop heart disease. I could give you the complete laundry list but I don't want to bore you.

Along the way, I'd developed issues at the day job. Long story and tl;dr version, I had to get an Americans with Disabilities Act dispensation to move to a more desirable position with much less stress than what I'd been moved to almost a year ago. And other things have suffered, as well. Not-so-important, more "busy work" things. Such as updating this blog and my website. And needing to get some more pictures taken for possible inclusion on my site. And getting some things ready for RT Booklovers Convention, where I'll be in just a smidge over two weeks. (Commence self-loathing and beating self up.) And not beating myself up so much.