Happy Easter

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unsplash-logoChristoph Schmid

A man and woman slog their way through the snow, their car behind them having run out of gas. In the dark through the blowing snow, they see the lit sign of a hotel and the word VACANCY, they go through the door and walk up to the counter, as they open their coats it becomes apparent that the woman is very pregnant. The man asks for a room for the night, The manager asks “for you and your wife?” The man says “oh she’s not my wife were just engaged.” The manager immediately bristles and says “well I’m sorry but I’m a Christian and I don’t have to serve you, you’ll have to move along.” The man and woman, dejected, miles from the next town slog back through the snow to their cold car. The next morning they are found by the highway patrol, the man his arms wrapped around his girlfriend her arms wrapped around her belly, frozen to death… So ended the second coming of Jesus, on a lonely stretch of highway, somewhere in rural Indiana.

#Jesusmommawasn’tmarried

#Jesushadamodernfamily

#HappyEaster

 

Now Hiring: Professional Hugger

 

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unsplash-logoJack Sharp

It’s been five months since I was diagnosed with a panic disorder.

It’s been that long on Zoloft and Ativan.

I endured a very hard childhood and thought I had escaped the worst of it when lo and behold, one day back in October I had my very first panic attack.

I thought I was dying.

Ran off to the E.R. and the doctors told me that I was not having a heart attack nor was I have a stroke.

They performed an EKG, took blood, and a CT scan of my noggin and everything came back fine.

From there, I was sent home with a script of meds.

Getting used to those was like getting used to having the flu for 3 weeks. I was nauseous. I was hot and then cold and then clammy and the panic attacks weren’t done. As soon as I felt anxiety coming on, knew what to ‘look for’, the symptoms would change and suddenly I’d be flush with a burning sensation from my waist all the way up to the top of my head.

In the interim, I started eating healthier, cutting out soda, coffee, anything with caffeine. I started drinking more water and working out to rid myself of extra energy.

I’ve slimmed down in places and bulked up in others.

Yet – there is one thing that I wish I had on tap. Something I could just press a button for.

A hug.

That has been the oddest feeling that I’ve had since this all began. The desire for a bone-crushing, all-encompassing, shit’s gonna be alright, I love you, man,  hug.

I swear to God if there were a six foot seven, Mexican, biker gang member named Jerry who was willing to administer so said hug.

I’d let him.

Seriously.

I would just go with it.

It’s the weirdest feeling. It’s like hunger pangs.

I am thinking about having a t-shirt made for when I go out in public.

Panic Sufferer: Hugs help.

Diversity in Books (Radio Show)

I am the host of a Saturday Afternoon Radio Show for Beaten Track Radio. This is last week’s show, “Funk with Freddie.” The subject was over Diversity in books.

Listen here:

Join us this week at 12 noon CST (5 p.m. GST) as we delve more into the subject of books and music.

www.beatentrackradio.com

((The opinions are not necessarily those of the radio station))

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When Love’s The Killing Kind (Poem)

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I lost my dignity the other day
It’s not something I do often
When I am caught up in the moment
I wish I could think.
Instead of just feel.
 
My rational mind leaves a lot to be desired
I search through life hands outstretched, blindly
from one feeling to the next
intimately getting to know the texture of the world
 
Please, let me forget that moment
there on my knees
when I begged – I don’t do that
I don’t break down
No, not me
 
Someone plucked a chord on my heartstrings
the tune reverberated through to my bones
I miss you so much my teeth ache
Your presence now a ghost in the room
 
There is a desire inside of me
a loneliness that I cannot seem to fill
as barren as the streets of late November
save for scattered leaves tossed by the bitter wind
 
I had created for myself a castle
guards posted watch on every single wall
the mage in the tower and the beast in the dungeon
and upon the throne was I, Lord of it all.
 
Battle-hardened, World Wary,
I was no match for the warmth of the sun
And now I am in mourning, my friend
these walls as gray as my mood
 
I wish I would not feel so blindly
but I can’t help it, otherwise, I’d truly blind
but I see with the heart’s eyes only
and that kind of love, is the killing kind.
 
I lost my dignity the other day
Haven’t bothered searching for it, true
I wish I were somewhat different sometimes
I wish I were someone like you

 

You loved my fire….

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unsplash-logoMohamed Nohassi

You said you were attracted to my fire, passion
you saw me burning from ten thousand miles away
We were born on the same date
two children of the God Mars
and I was enchanted by your kindness toward me

It was an easy thing
Fire and fire burns brighter, higher,
illuminating the night
You pointed out the familiar
and I could taste the same poison
on your skin, I was familiar with

With ease, our sex, the weight around our neck
bound to who we are by social chains
I found a friend that I needed
a doppelganger, an echo, perhaps vanity
seductively talking to my own ego

You’d crossed the bridge and created love
without the complications of the flesh
a pure thing, this little inferno
which promised the potential of a future
a friendship to span the ages

Yet something went wrong
a cold east wind blew in through the night
and before I had known you crossed back
across the gulf leaving me holding
the little inferno in my hands
making excuses for yourself the entire way

But one thing you weren’t expecting
was the actions I would take
as I cast the friendship down and watched the bridge burn
I realized fifteen years prior when I didn’t burn so sure
I would have acquiesced to the idea of time and place and purpose

Yet, that isn’t my truth now
I rage equally in love and in hate
in fear and in pain
I burn in the night the same for all who needs me
but I do have one question,
now that your choices have been made
and the bridge between us has been destroyed

“How do you like my fire now?”

 

Enough Gold To Hoard

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How did that happen?
Where was the tipping point?
I must have missed the exit sign
on the freeway of my feelings
and kept driving

Did I have the radio on too loud
was I caught up in the music?
Did I allow my mind to wander?
I have awareness but did I use it?

Or did I want to keep going?
Did I choose to pass the off ramp
and see what another stretch of freeway looked like?
It’s still blacktop, white stripes, my hands are on the wheel
but now I don’t know what to do.

Caught in the once familiar
I stood and looked at myself in the mirror
and heard the words spoken in my ear
I smiled and felt sexy
with new clothes and my prowess
now I am dressed to the nines
waiting for the phone to ring

I’m annoyed
that’s always a dangerous feeling
needle pricks inside my brain
that has me wondering and feeling foolish
I can taste copper inside my mouth
as I bite down on angry words
now the dragon’s been bothered

I hate when people do this
speak the truth and call the shadow what it is
make clear roads in, identify the moment
and the vanish as a sort of punishment
with whiplash-like ferocity
leaving me asking, “What the fuck did *I* do?”

Nothing. I didn’t do anything.
You made you feel those things.
Fantasize those things.
Dream those things.
Just like I did.
My guilt is mine.
Keep yours.
I have enough gold to hoard.

Star Wars – The Last Jedi (Review)

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(All Rights of images related to Star Wars are retained by Disney. In this instance, the image is used for a review of the film.)

So, I really liked the new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi.
Before purchasing the film on Amazon, I read through the Star Wars Facebook page as they were announcing the countdown til release and was surprised at how much hate the new film received.
Which got me to thinking about both Star Wars and Star Trek’s new franchise (also known as JJ Trek).
The new Star Wars film was a bit darker even more so than the Force Awakens.
The films are grittier, the bad guys nastier, the stormtroopers have taken some weapons courses and actually hit their targets this time, and the distinction between light and dark isn’t so very clear.
The world is more complex and the characters reflect that – Kylo Ren who in the first film seems like the ultimate betraying ‘bad son’ is the perfect example of this and is somewhat better understood once the actions of a not so good Luke Skywalker are revealed.
The same thing happened in Star Trek. The world wasn’t as morally pristine as the earlier franchise films (or television series). Things were clunkier in some aspects, more concrete and believable while, like Star Wars, it managed to keep the fantasy aspect alive.
Yet, I have a hang-up.
One small thing that is probably a little prejudiced.
Okay, maybe really prejudiced.
All the characters that I grew up with are either really old or dead.
Star Trek for me will always be Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForrest Kelly, Nichelle Nicholes, and the NCC-1701 A.
Star Wars for me will always be young Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and of course, Carrie Fisher.
After the closing sequence of Star Wars, when the credits rolled, they showed an in memoriam credit:

In loving memory of our Princess, Carrie Fisher.

I choked up.
I got a frog in my throat and misty-eyed.
Sure, not only because she’s gone but because it dawned on me that Star Wars, like Star Trek, aren’t the same nor will they ever be again.
The franchise has been passed on. The torch has been given over to younger people. Its fate is solely in their hands now.
I, like those characters, and much like the show’s detractors, have simply gotten old and the way things were aren’t the way they are now. We’ve become too rigid. Too set in our ways and if it were up to us, the franchises would both fail.

In short. The films simply do not belong to me anymore. In fact, the shows don’t belong to Roddenberry or Lucas anymore. They’ve grown beyond that. Both men built not only a popular show but a series of films that while entertain, bring a lot of hope to people who view them and, as my parents did, will show them to their children.

Will they always get it on the money? Probably not. Hell, Lucas’ Prequels sucked and there were three Star Trek Films (The Search for Spock, The Final Frontier, and Star Trek Nemesis) which were downright awful.

Yet, all in all, The Last Jedi was the best film in the series. Easily.
Adventures are for the youth. I just hope that they boldly go wherever the Force may take them.

#OwnVoices need publishers to focus on them (LGBT)

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unsplash-logoCaitlyn Wilson

With the recent fallout concerning the publisher Riptide as well as the fallout around Santino Hassell, there has been an exposure of underlying issues in the m/m romance genre.

These issues include racism, misandry, bi-erasure, trans-erasure, and oddly enough, homophobia inside these books.

Furthermore, there are issues that gay men deal with specifically such as conversion therapy and other such things that authors use as a plot device. Due mostly to the rules of romance combined with privilege, these serious issues are often overlooked or oversimplified.

This is detrimental to the subject matter because it gives the reader the wrong ideas about many aspects and it’s detrimental to the LGBT person who reads this and wonders just how so much could be so wrong in the world.

There are those out there who have no problem participating in the creation of work that perpetuates stereotypes, whitewashes homosexual relationships to make them more palatable, ignores People of Color in gay relationships, writes subjects without doing their due diligence in regards to what gay men experience (The Preacher’s Son), and this idea that fantasy has any business overriding the reality of many.

These issues, including others, are deeply rooted in the genre of m/m romance. They’ve caused widespread arguments before, there have been flare-ups before this, but nothing quite this bad or widespread.

Yet, the problem hasn’t gone away.

Nor will it go away.

Mostly, because like a festering boil, or like a bad tooth, the pain won’t go away until the root cause of the problem is dealt with.

I used to think that this is an issue that could be solved with simple conscientiousness. Yet, I think I may have changed my mind on this. I don’t think that’s enough.

We need publishers or a publisher to focus on LGBT stories from LGBT people – specifically. Whether that is an imprint or a publisher whose sole purpose is to produce this or publishing houses who have a diverse staff prepared to deal with these stories, specifically.

#Ourvoices

Our stories from people who are inside the spectrum of LGBT be they romantic stories or otherwise.

While I think people from all walks of life have a right to write what they want, we need our place to write what we know. What we’ve lived. What we’ve gone through. What we’re still going through. How we see the world.

We need a place to gather specifically for the creation of LGBT work by LGBT individuals.

Right now gay people and gay people’s lives are being used to profit everyone but gay people. That isn’t fair.

#Ourvoices need to be heard. #Ourvoices are important, too. #Ourvoices ought to have a place of their own to grow and flourish.

 

The Santino Hassell of it all

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I feel the need to explain some stuff and express some opinion in regards of this most recent fallout. I also want to point out a glaring elephant in the room.  A conversation, not a debate, not a flame war, not anything but a calm conversation needs to happen in regard to what’s happening inside the genre and how to go forward.

There are no men in m/m romance who make that kind of money but 1 or 2.
That’s it.
This isn’t us.
We didn’t do this.
This isn’t somehow related to us other than us being used to excuse bad behavior from those who are ultimately responsible.
Josh Lanyon wasn’t a man.
Hassel, come to find out, wasn’t a man.
I’ve read trans male work – their work is masculine in tone. You can read it in their work.
Gay men aren’t out here deceiving you. We’re not out here making boat tons of money or asking for donations for make-believe illnesses.
We’re not so caught up in the small amount of fame that m/m brings that we need to get a street team together to shut down inquiring minds or boycott authors.
Why?
Because we’re not that popular.
This isn’t us.
This was about sales.
This was about deception.
This was about cruelty.
This was about infidelity to the readers.
This was about throwing gay men under the bus.

This isn’t about misogyny internalized or otherwise.
This was women being shitty to women and there’s no excuse. This is was someone, a woman, who catfished – the worst being a young gay man named Noah who Hassel got close to, pretended a relationship with, only to turn around and write about his experiences without telling him which is sexually manipulative and abusive.  Apparently, he wasn’t the only one.

And the hassell of it all, is, that this was about turf. At the end of the day, that’s what this was about. This was a turf war. It was about money.

They’d made a brand. They sold the brand. Then they made damn sure that the brand couldn’t be brought down by being a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Y’all gotta stop following these authors like they’re God and you’re their disciple.
This a person.
Sure he/she may be a talented author.
Sure, they write stuff that makes your heart feel things.
Yet at the end of the day, this is a person and these cults of personality spring up around a person and it becomes crazy to see when so said person falls from grace. 
And it happens EVERY. FREAKING. TIME.
Read a book, enjoy the book, review the book, and move on.
There are popular people who act shitty and do bad things and then they do good things.
There are unknown people who do good things and fuck up once…
mostly, there are just people being people.
I get having to write under a pen name.
Some people can’t expose who they are or what they do for a living because of conflicts of interest or personal issues.
That being said, always take a person online with some measure of suspicion unless you know that person personally.
I feel bad for anyone who got hurt. I feel bad for people who may have sent people money in a catfish scam.
There are some really tender hearted folks out there who mean to do the best.
Then again there are people out there who prey on this very thing.
They make the reader/ fan feel special and so the reader/ fan wants to do something special or important for them.
Yet you do. You read their books, you review their books, and share with friends.
That’s a lot, already.
If someone requests money for a certain thing or asks help with a certain thing, they doggone better be able to validate who they are to ensure people that they’re not into scamming others out of their hard-earned money.
IF what is being said is true, it’s pretty despicable yet not all the fault can be laid at this person’s feet.
This has happened way too many times for people to be shocked.
Stop falling for it.