Saturday, November 30, 2013

Parade "Scandal": The Macy's Thanksgiving Day PrideFest

I tripped over a news story this morning that left me grinning at my computer the way ridiculous hater rants often do. I don't bother to take this kind of idiocy seriously anymore when it doesn't deserve more than a derisive snort and a chuckle. I mean, why pretend it's a discussion worth having? 

A Tony Award-winning musical decided to do a short number during the Macy's Parade on live US television. A small collection of puritanical nitwits took offense because it was performed by men in drag. You can imagine the gaping and frothing at the mouth that occurred when they saw it. I'm sure you can also imagine the comments. How dare these men dance around in women's clothes forcing us to broach the subject of gays and transgenders with our children who are no doubt scarred for life after seeing it!  

As a similar puritanical nitwit commented just the other day: the gays are taking God out of Thanksgiving. Apparently LGBT equality means the heterosexual community no longer has anything to be thankful for and by the way, Christianity is now claiming the rights to Thanksgiving. I must have accidentally deleted that particular memo from my e-mail. Interesting. Moving on...

My response to the haters? The Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders flounce across the same television screens in costumes that show much more skin and reinforce the message that women are only as valuable as their cup size but a drag queen is an offensive scandal? Please. And Honey, if you think a single routine out of a Broadway play makes the entire Macy's Parade a Pride Fest you've been going to the wrong Pride parades.

Pardon me while I giggle myself right out of my chair. They can't be serious with this shit.


Kinky Boots at Macy's US Thanksgiving Day Parade


Read the story on Gay Star News







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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Guest Blog - Brandon Shire

Today's guest is the incredible Brandon Shire! For those of you not already aware of this award-winning author you're in for a treat. He is known as much for his tireless advocacy of homeless LGBT kids as he is for weaving captivating stories.  Today we get a glimpse of the man behind the books.




Temporary Toys - Brandon Shire

I have a young man in my house who aged out of the foster care system. He is not my child, though I’ve come to feel as if he were. He was homeless when I found him – had no shoes, no clothes (other than what he wore), and no food. Hadn’t had a bath in weeks either. His biological parents are still around but they don’t want him; unless, of course, he has something to offer.
This is our first holiday season together and I can see the days weighing on him. He believes he has no anchor, no place of ‘home & family.’ I have tried to create that for him, but the longest he has ever stayed in one foster home was just fourteen months. He has only been with me for nine, and he is still skittish about his position here.
If I ask about his past he turns away, embarrassed and hurt. It’s not a pain he cares to speak of. As if the multitude of foster homes he was bounced through as a child were somehow his fault – if he had been a better kid, come from a better place, found a family that was looking for more than a payout from the government...
I have learned not to ask about his past and let him offer the information instead. It is probably the hardest task I have ever had to do – keep my mouth shut, let him explore those pains, let him broach the subject and ask the questions. Offer an opinion that does not condemn those that have come before me (though I would very much like to.)
We’ve had ups and downs. We’ve had the I’m going to pack my stuff and go clashes. He is still a teen. And though I have told him many times that he doesn’t have to sneak food into his room, I still find small stashes hidden away. But now I don’t return them to the kitchen, I just leave them alone; give him the small bit of security that he needs.
But this holiday thing, it eats at me because it eats at him. All his previous holiday seasons were filled with temporary parents. When he was shipped off to the next ‘home’ the toys stayed, so he learned early not to invest his emotions, even in inanimate objects. He became the temporary toy they passed around.
We, my two biological sons and I, are trying to change this. We talk to him about his future, about college and girlfriends, about trips and plans, about football and holiday recipes. I ache for him, but he doesn’t want pity. He wants to feel like he belongs somewhere. He wants to know someone cares, even as he opines that no one does. He wants to stop feeling like he is this temporary toy that we have taken into our fold.
I don’t know how long that will take, or how many holidays he will stay with us. I do know that he means more to us than the colossal piles of clothes and gadgets my sons have secretly purchased for him. And I think, for that reason, this will be a holiday season that I haven’t looked forward to since my boys were small and wide-eyed on Christmas morning. 
The gadgets won’t help his idea of self-worth any, nor will the clothes. We understand that. But as we tighten our huddle around him, as we entrench him in our fold, it is our hope that he will stop feeling like he is one of those temporary toys; that he will know he is cherished and worthy of being cherished. It’s a very big hope, but there are three of us rooting him on.


If you would like to aid homeless LGBT youth, you can find national and international organizations on my website. Volunteer locally or make a small donation. Make a difference.









About the author: 
Brandon Shire is an award-winning author of contemporary gay fiction and an advocate for homeless LGBT youth. Ten percent of the sales from his books are donated to organizations combating LGBT youth homelessness. 




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Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Holidays?

The holidays are approaching like Beliebers rushing the stage in a cloud of shrieking pandemonium. Those on tight budgets are slowly working their way toward ulcers over how to afford the vision they have in their minds of a gleeful Christmas morning. Others are working in the same direction due to anxiety over another family holiday. In the midst of the chaos and stress, I would like to offer a concept for your consideration.

We all know the statistics about homeless LGBT kids so there's no need to get into that again but how many of us stop to consider what those numbers mean in real terms. Winter is a brutal time to be homeless. Right now in your city, there are dozens of kids shivering on the street in layers of filthy clothes looking for a place to huddle tonight to keep warm. They won't sleep because sleeping in temperatures this cold is impossible. They've already been to the shelter and all the beds are taken so there is nowhere to go to keep warm. They will spend the night wandering exhausted and cold looking for a safe place to huddle preferably, where they can light a small fire to warm their hands. If they're lucky, the worst of their problems is being too cold. If they're not they're also fighting an illness shuffling around in a feverish daze.

These kids may not be our flesh and blood but they're still "family". They're the less fortunate members of our LGBT community living an existence much harsher than most of us can comprehend.  To us it's just a story. To them it's reality.

This year I encourage you to consider giving to an organization that can provide a half-frozen teenager with wool socks to keep their feet warm, gloves to keep their hands warm or tiny chemical packets of heat to tuck in their shoes or pockets to stave off the cold for a few hours. Before you start with the excuses that you're too busy or too broke let me offer a few alternatives to traditional giving.

If you don't have the financial resources to donate cash then donate your time to a local youth shelter. Bake cookies for the employees who are paid very little to keep the charity functioning and will be sacrificing time with their families this holiday season to do so. Knit a few extra scarves and donate them to a shelter. Start a community drive to gather donations. Clean out your closets and donate the winter clothes you don't wear anymore.


We have the good fortune to sleep in a warm bed, shower with hot water and dig into the cupboard for something to eat when we're hungry. These kids, abandoned by the parents who claimed to love them have none of that. They're not expecting to celebrate Christmas. They're just hoping to survive it.











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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Author Interview: Nicole Forcine

It's my pleasure to have MM romance novelist Nicole Forcine on my blog today, author of This Little Whatever. Welcome, Forcine! Tell us about your book and your process.

Why this story?

I've had the “opposites attract with a one night stand” idea bouncing in my head for a a while, and the archetypes of Jonathan and Dean have gone through a lot of settings and names for going on two years before I started on This Little Whatever.


Is there a story you've been wanting to write for a while, but haven't started it yet? What is it?

There is this science fiction plot bunny bouncing around in my head with a former pilot and a living ship.  I have names, I have some of the lore, what I've not had lately is time to hash everything out :)


Who is your favorite author/why?

Do I have to pick one?  I got so many, but who immediately come to mind are Amy Lane, Abigail Roux, Aleksandr Voinov, Marie Sexton, Andrew Grey, Kaje Harper, I can can go on for days.

What do you do when you hit writer's block?

Nothing breaks my writer's block with one project faster, then working on another project.  That habit is SO ANNOYING.

Do you have a particular routine when writing?

I go to my local coffee shop, greet the baristas, get a meal and a drink and finish those while updating my email.  Once I'm full and caught up, I boot up Pandora and get started.

Of all the characters you've created who is your favorite?

He's in This Little Whatever, and he's not either main character.  In writing my novel, I fell head over heels with Jonathan's little friend, Patch.  He's short, he's blonde, he plays with fire for a “living” and I can't wait to write more about him.

What else would you like us to know about you?

I like my beers dark and my men on each other :)



Let's take a closer look at This Little Whatever.

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Excerpt:

Can I talk now?” I blinked dry eyes, dry because I’d been staring him down this whole time. Or maybe from the massive dehydration, who knew. At his nod, I continued, “You haven’t enabled me to do jack. I don’t know why I’m doing any of this shit with you. It just felt right, I guess. I expect tonight has completely messed all that up, huh?”
Hate to ruin your expectations, but you’re coming home with me, even if I have to lock you in the trunk to get there.”
I closed my eyes, blocking out the annoying light over our heads and the sight of that possessive look. “You still want me?”
I meant “want me around” or “want me in your house” or “want me in your bed,” but again, mouth was running before brain could catch up. Before I could revise my stupid fucking question, I heard the seat squeak, then a few steps, then felt Dean’s hand on my cheek. I didn’t open my eyes, and then there were lips on mine, soft, gentle, thankfully not too deep, because my mouth tasted like something had crawled into it and shat itself to death.
You better believe I want you. Still."


Author bio:

Nicole Forcine was born a strange child and former Georgia peach. When she was younger, she was never far from a composition book, a pen in hand, and way too many people in her head (she’s even been known to talk back to them). When two or more of them talk loud enough to overshadow the rest, a story is born. After years of writing and storing her tales in those books, she had a revelation: man, there are a lot of dudes kissing in these stories.

Her stories include themes of creating families of choice, how love can come in all forms and supersede all boundaries, and the joys and sorrows of earning a happily-ever-after.

Currently, she resides in Minneapolis with one of the most laid-back men in history and his even more laid-back cat. When she’s not writing (ha!), she’s saving the world/galaxy/humanity as we know it in the world of video games and general geekiness and opening other people’s mail for a living.

Contact her via e-mail, littlewhatever@gmail.com, on her blog,http://nicoleforcine.wordpress.com/, on Twitter, @NikiForcine, or on Facebook!








If you're an MM romance author and would like to do a guest blog leave a comment and let me know! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Get Out!

I read an article a couple of months ago that instantly got under my skin. You know the type. A paragraph in and you're off on a rant ready to fire off a rebuttal. It was tucked among stories about Russia's hostility and passing marriage rights so it didn't receive much attention. I'll admit, the topic doesn’t have the same global impact but to the person involved it's just as potentially devastating and has been wearing on my nerves since I read it.

I'm well aware that human beings have a thing for gossip. I don't know why we're hardwired with that particular habit but it seems we are. Nothing attracts more attention than a juicy story about someone else especially if that someone else is a public figure. However, this blog isn't about gossip. It's about a specific topic of tongue wagging that can have devastating effects.

The article revolved around comedian Margaret Cho and her unapologetic public outing of John Travolta. I'm not really a fan of either of them so what piqued my interest wasn't the name but Cho's lack of remorse when people criticized her actions. According to her, Travolta wasn't in danger of being bullied so there was no reason for him to hide and if he didn't have the courage to say the words then she was within her rights to say them for him. She stated that the only people who need protection from being forcibly ejected from the closet are minors in danger of schoolyard bullies. Everyone else is apparently fair game.

The other side of the discussion showed up a week or so later in an interview with openly gay Lance Bass. He had a different opinion. Bass said it's up to each individual to decide when and how to come out of the closet and if they're not ready to take that step for whatever reason it's not his place to do it for them. He even went so far as to say he would lie in order to keep their secret if he had to.

The argument has been volleyed in fits and starts since then. Personally, I agree with Bass. It's something each person should come to on their own and in their own time. From the outside it may seem those in the closet are just being chicken but there is no way to know their reasons or the emotions involved in admitting what they've spent so long hiding. There is also no way to calculate the impact it will have on their personal relationships or in some cases their career. They're choosing to remain silent for a reason whether the rest of us are privy to the details or not.

Cho comes from a background of very open sexuality, growing up in a predominantly gay community. Assuming everyone comes from that same place of acceptance and openness is at best naïve. Living in L.A. surrounded by members of the gay community doesn't guarantee that Travolta will find acceptance from family and friends who may have been clinging to the idea that his homosexuality is just a rumor. It also doesn't mean he's ready to admit it to himself.

This sort of thing isn't limited to Hollywood. We've all heard the stories of people who make a decision to tell a friend only to wake the next morning and find that everyone on their Facebook page knows their secret. Whether it's a public figure or an average Joe/Josephine, I don't think anyone ever has the right to take that monumental step on behalf of someone else. A person's sexuality is not fodder for gossip. It's a very personal revelation that has the potential to leave their life in ruin. Not everyone gets the hug from mom and dad and the speech about being loved regardless of their sexuality. Not everyone has friends to support them. Whether reality is as harsh as the closeted person fears isn't the issue. The issue is whether that person is emotionally ready to handle the fallout. People have killed themselves over far less devastating things.


You've heard my two cents. What do you guys think? Do adults (especially 60-year-old men) have the right to live forever in the closet or is there a point where keeping their secret becomes obsolete? Are adults immune from the courtesy of being left alone to find their own path? Is there a point where it's acceptable to force them from the closet metaphorically at gunpoint just to settle the rumors?











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Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Blog: Kia Zi Shiru

Today I'm visiting with Kia Zi Shiru, the author of the Otherkin Spirits series. Actually, that's only the most recent of her books. She writes fantasy, YA and LGBT so you've probably seen her books around. I'm very excited to have her here today!

So, Kia...tell us one funny, goofy, dorky thing about you that people might not know.
I will sing/play back along to Japanese songs, even though I barely know any Japanese, plus if I’m in a weird enough mood I’ll even dance to it.

Do you have a set daily/weekly writing schedule?
It depends on how much time I’ve got to spend on university work or marketing, though it’s easier this month since it’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

What inspires you to write a story (pictures, music, movies, etc.)?
Usually something simple like an image or scene in my head. I usually work more and more from that onward. Music and movies and other books can help, but most of the time I’ve already got a starting scene before I come up with the rest of the story.

What are some of your favorite things to do when you're not writing?
Reading and playing videogames. Though recently also playing with our kitten, he is so fun to hug.

Who, if anyone, has influenced your writing?
Hmm, for my writing style I’ve got to say that they are two M/M authors, Sean Michael and Daisy Harris. If I read one of their books I can see what parts of my style mirrors theirs. Though for my earlier writing it has been Tom Lennon (gay Irish author) and Edward van de Vendel (a Dutch author who wrote the first gay book I ever read). They largely influenced my choice of genre and choice of themes within my books.


I love pizza with (fill in the blank).
I love pizza with chorizo, jalapeno peppers and salami. Yes, I like my pizza hot, with extra cheese.

What's your favorite dessert?
Strawberry jelly pudding. I can eat a whole bowl of it on my own if I get the chance...

What's your favorite season?
Autumn. It might be very cliché, but I love the colour of the changing leaves. And it has a very special smell that I really really love.

Do you have a favorite sport?
eSports are more my thing. I love videogames and I’m not one to watch people tire themselves out in the field or some hall.

Paperback, hardback or ebook?
Ebook. I read mostly gay fiction and those are hard to get around here in paperback or hardback. Ebooks have been my saviour when it comes to my reading habbits.

What's your favorite "drug" of choice? (soda, coffee, chocolate, cigarettes, marshmallow peeps, etc.)
Ehhh... I’m going to have to admit to salty twists. They are pieces of baked puff paste that are extra salty. I eat a whole bag of them easily within the hour. That and prawn crackers.
I usually get those two when I feel like gorging on something “bad”. The one has too much salt and the other too much salt and fat.

What can readers expect from you in 2014?
More books, more joy, more pain. At least book 3 and 4 of Otherkin Spirits and maybe a few more things. Book 3 of Otherkin Spirits will take place during the summer on an island. I’m working on it at the moment.

Anything else you want people to know?
I’ve recently moved from the publisher website to a new wesbite at www.kiazishiru.com It is still under construction but you can find some things about Otherkin Spirits 3 Tranquil Destiny there. Also, there will be a celebration for the upcoming 1 year anniversary of the publication of the Black Sheep Trilogy. So keep your eyes open for that.


For those of you not in the know, Kia's most recent book in the Otherkin Spirits series is:

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Blurb:

A werewolf and a vampire, forbidden love. What could go wrong?

CHRIS, a werewolf on the run from his abusive clan, hides in a vampire house. ALEC, a vampire who has comfortably lived in the house for years, has no intentions to ever leave it.

Their connection is obvious from the first time they meet. But the house rules are strict, werewolves and vampires can not date. Unable to fight their attraction and unwilling to leave, they instead choose to hide their love.

Then Chris’ old clan finds him and takes him back. Will Alec ever see Chris again?






Kia Zi Shiru is a Dutch girl who did her bachelor studying English and Creative Writing in the UK but has now returned to the Netherlands to do her masters. Amongst her interests she finds writing, reading, doing research and learning different languages (including but not limited to: English, Dutch, French, German, HTML, Java, PHP and Assembly). Her writing and reading habits include books with Young Adults, gay themes, strong female or minority characters and fantasy elements (more often than not all at the same time).



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Friday, November 1, 2013

My Trip to the Land of Coffee

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a trade show dedicated to my favorite industry: COFFEE! CoffeeFest is a three-day celebration of Seattle's favorite bean. 2,700 people showed up to wander around 150 booths displaying coffee and snacks. I got a buzz just walking in the exhibition hall. A steady stream of sample cups landed in my hand as I walked up and down the aisles tasting the best the industry has to offer.

I left hours later riding the edge of java burnout (gasp!) with a new appreciation for the effort and artistry that go into creating a noteworthy cup of coffee. I discovered a new favorite chai tea mix and that there is such a thing as red velvet latte. I spoke to coffee sleeve designers, coffee bloggers and latte artists. I also discovered that even the professionals don't always watch the pot closely enough to keep coffee from burning.


Weeks later, there are still things that stick in my mind. The most prominent isn't related to the latte art competitions or the offers to put my logo on everything from disposable cups to coffee bags. It’s a coffeemaker that's a combination of coffee, art and chemistry that spoke to the java addict, artist and unbridled geek in me. 



This one is a tower made by Pure Solutions and is more industrial looking than some of the others but the basic idea is the same. You pour water in the glass container on top. It drips into a glass filter full of coffee grounds and ends up in a beaker on the bottom. It doesn't use electricity or require replacement filters. It's cold brewed so if you want hot you take the beaker and set it on a burner to heat it up. The taste was amazing. The design was spectacular not to mention a great conversation piece.

The concept has a few flaws, I'll admit. Depending on how fast you set the flow of water from the top, a batch takes six to eight hours and there's no timer so it won't start itself. While it will brew even when the power is out cold brew means it sits on the kitchen counter and drips away in silence without the bubbling, churning or aroma. I don't think it's practical for every day home use but it's still the coolest looking coffeemaker I've ever seen.
















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