Friday, March 28, 2008

Dare Me

I should be packing right now, because I've got to leave for the airport at like too-early o'clock in the morning, but I'm watching YouTube videos of 80s videos instead.

Song of the hour: Dare Me by The Pointer Sisters. It's a live concert version, not the music video version. But nonetheless, it's still a frisky fun song. The group has an official website too. Well, who doesn't these days...

One line from the song that belongs in a top ten pickup line roster: if there's any truth behind your intention, this night's gonna end up on fire.

Anyway, if you haven't stepped on a college or high school campus lately, everything 80s and 90s is the 2000s. The asymmetical wedge cuts of Salt-n-Pepa days... longer hair on guys... the Anita Baker "Rapture" cut on women... texturizers and s-curl lites... mixtures of bright colors and prints... tight jeans... gold jewelry (the thicker the better). Even the music videos are getting back to the storytelling, singer lip-syncing style.

Making it easier for us writer types who may flashback to the 80s in fiction to access those times quicker... with all the visual cues around us in today's fashion and pop culture.

Gotta get to packing... Atlanta awaits. Come on, dare me (you know the song is kinda catchy, ya dig!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ummmm... Imagine

Imagine walking into a work meeting like this... just because...

It's been one of them days, like Monica used to sing about. And you just want to watch their jaws drop! Well actually, been one of them weeks, which is why the blog has been neglected.

Things have been the same in my world. Been writing a bit on the new novel, which is not coming as fast as I'd like it to (or my agent or editor, lol). What gets the pressure on a bit is when I get an email or phone call from a reader or friend who's like "when's your next book coming?" If only I could churn them out as fast as people read.

Anyway, heading to Atlanta at the end of the week for a conference. Something related to higher education, so it'll take me out of book life for about five days. Will get to catch up with some academics from my past and talk college shop.

Will be taking Seen It All, Done The Rest with me on the plane. Figure, I'll be in Atlanta. Why not read a novel set in the city while I'm there?

Off to a meeting in South L.A. Just checking in a bit. Hope you're making it through the week. I'm sure you're doing just fine!

Learned something new today... make everyday a weekend day... why wait until the weekend to make today a fun day or night with friends or family? Imagine...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Greatest Ex (or Almost Ex) Ever

Out of sight, out of town, out of internet access, out of minutes... and everything is cool. Right?

Then you run into him. Or he comes back to town. Or he texts out of the blue. And it puts you halfway to crazy again. Just the sight triggers a whole new storyline (in your head at minimum) you hadn't expected.

So why is The Greatest Ex Ever on Janet's new CD so friggin hot to me? So is the song Discipline, too, but that's another blog entry ;-)

Love My Soaps Lately

Always loved my daytime dramas. I'm a CBS person.

Lately, the antics between "crazy" Aunt Pam and Donna "Ho"gan have been quite funny on Bold and The Beautiful.

A couple fun clips from YouTube: Donna and Pam meet for the first time; Donna and Pam do coffee (you gotta see what Aunt Pam eats at the very end of this scene... it's so darn funny and worth the watch!)

My friends and I are split down the middle on who/why we like on the show... you're either a Stephanie/Taylor person or a Brooke person. I'm with Steph/Taylor. (Step speaks the gospel to Brooke in this scene.)

This week Young and The Restless turns 35! I've been watching for probably 25 of those years... yeah, I know. The past year sucked, but now that the Bell family is back writing the show, it's back on track. Let's hope they bring Ashley and Drucilla back soon.

I get all my soap info from a couple cool sites. Daytime Confidential. Serial Drama.

And while I'm not an ABC soap person, the folks at Daytime Confidential are raving that One Life to Live is the best on television right now. My granny used to watch it and I'd watch with her way back in the day... I remember some twins, good Pat and bad Maggie, and a kidnapping and a basement... Oh well, long distance memories. Mary J. Blige makes an occasional appearance. Snoop Dogg will be on the show soon.

Such a guilty pleasure. But one thing I've always felt... writers and actors for daytime work the hardest. Where else do you have to churn out and/or memorize hundreds of pages a day? That's some fast work that requires lots of creativity.

Oh well... Happy Sunday!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Writing Excuses... For Your Ear

First, every Friday is a good Friday, but how will you make this one such?

So anyway, I could come up with a million writing excuses for why... I procrastinate, I stare at a blank screen, I (you fill in the blank) when it comes to writing. I'm sure you've got your own.

But some more flava for your ear. The podcast Writing Excuses. Subscribe via iTunes or just listen from the website. Each podcast episode is a focused show on a specific writing topic. I've listened to the show on brainstorming, one on beginnings, and another on editing down your good stuff.

What I like most about this podcast is that each episode is around 15 minutes. So it's quick, informative, and the right amount of procrastination time you need before getting back to the writing.

Have a great one!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Seen It All...

Pearl Cleage is a writer whose work never disappoints.

This Michigan (and I think Detroit) native centers her novels in Atlanta neighborhoods that you and I know a thing or two about.

So it's only fitting to share her new novel release, out this week. Seen It All and Done The Rest. A middle-age actress leaves Europe amid controversy and returns to family and friend drama in Atlanta.

Mine should be coming in the mail today or tomorrow. In time for a relaxing weekend with a book... and yeah, some writing too. Though it's hard to read and do my own writing at the same time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Some Brand New Flavor For Your Ear

OK, so maybe I'm just late (as I often am).

But found a new podcast that features urban and contemporary writers and authors, Authors in Your Pocket. Been listening at night lately, mostly before I go to bed.

Oh, and one other listening pleasure. Love me some Dwele music. Gotta celebrate the Detroit talent, ya know?

But last week while roadtripping through Northern California, I was lucky enough to get a rental car with satellite radio. And on Suite 62, heard the new Dwele song, I'm Cheatin. It's my new favorite song, and it's not what you think... the cheating part. If you don't have satellite radio, you can hear the song on Dwele's MySpace.

Anyway, that's some brand new flavor for your ear. Hope it's a good day for you!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Childhood Guilty Pleasure

Aah, St. Patrick's Day. Remembering my childhood friend Gretchen O'Neal. Remembering how she got me addicted to these:

Yes, the infamous Flowers In The Attic... and subsequent books by V.C. Andrews... Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, My Sweet Audrina.

More on the entire V.C. Andrews series of books here.

Almost seems like a right of passage... that in 7th grade, many of us starting reading the steamy, soap opera-ish sagas of family secrets, lust, incest, and some mean, mean grandmothers. lol. These books didn't have a lot of sex in them, but it was implied. But oh, were there secrets and scandal. Better than most of the soaps we watched when we rushed home on a half-day of school.

I remember hearing a while back that the author, V.C. Andrews, had died... but the books kept coming. It's a mystery to me. Were the books already written or outlined? Were they continued by family members? Ghost writers who knew her original vision?

I have no clue... but all I know is that these books were childhood guilty pleasures that my friend Gretchen O'Neal turned me on to. Did you read them? Sneak read them? Sneak read other books while a kid?

Enjoy the day!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Passing On The Pen Series

Over the next several months there will be a series of fun literary conversations and event with the Passing on the Pen Series.

Passing on the Pen: Intergenerational Queer Storytellers series will feature conversations and readings between established/older writers and emerging/younger writers of LGBT literature. The events take place monthly, from March through December 2008, in San Francisco.

If you're in the Bay Area at any point this year stop by and support the series.

More information at the GLBT Historical Society site or Lambda Literary Foundation.

Lambda Literary Awards

The Lambda Literary Awards (or the Lammies as they're nicknamed) honor outstanding achievements in LGBT literature.

The 2008 finalists list was announced Friday. And one fun surprise... my novel Right Side of the Wrong Bed is a finalist in the category Male Romance. As well, Fiona Zedde's novel Every Dark Desire is a finalist in LGBT Erotica. How exciting!

Lambda Literary Awards list here.

If you're in the L.A. area, the awards ceremony will take place Thursday, May 29 in West Hollywood.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Senator's Wife

In light of recent news events... a novel that is quite fitting.

The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller. About political wives who stay in the relationships/marriages after public and private incidents. Been reading it on and off for about a month.

The subject has always fascinated me... people who stay in something after some very obvious things have gone wrong. Even as a kid, and seeing things in the neighborhood or among relatives, I looked at the strength and sorrow it takes to make relationship decisions.

Someone quipped to me recently that it's only because I've been a Clinton supporter that I have empathy for people who stay. Not the case, and I pulled out a couple of my journals from high school where I broached the subject. All sorts of people make "arrangements" in their relationships, and the psychology behind that fascinates me academically and personally. Don't know why.

But this isn't about me, or Clinton, or any other political/personal partner. It's really about a good novel, The Senator's Wife, by Sue Miller. Listen to an excerpt here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Big Lit

No, we're not talking big books. I tend to shy away from books as large as the yellow pages.

We're talking books that feature normal-to-plus size protagonists. Of course all this is skewed on the L.A. scale, my current hometown, when a size 6 (or a 32 inch waist for men) is considered normal-to-plus size... and that's outside entertainment circles. Maybe a big of an exageration, but you get the gist.

But we're not talking L.A. scale. We're talking fiction. Check these out:

Something On The Side by Carl Weber. Featuring The Big Girls Book Club, where members must be at least a size 14 and have a scandalous love life to talk about at book club meetings. Another hit from one of my faves.

The Next Big Thing by Johanna Edwards. Following six overweight women cast on a reality show to see who can lose the most weight. Think The Biggest Loser in novel form. A lot of Edwards' work features normal-to-plus size characters.

Something's Wrong With Your Scale by Van Whitfield. Following the trials and tribulations of a man who has gained 75 pounds and lost his girlfriend in the process. Can he find himself again?

Conversations With The Fat Girl by Liza Palmer. A Southern California woman comes to terms with her weight and looks for love in her personal growth process. I read this one. Loved it!

Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes Rodriguez. One of my favorites of all time. And features one of the best plus-size and proud protagonists I've read, Usnavys. The character will be back in a sequel coming in a few months, Dirty Girls On Top.

I'm sure I'm missing some... what have you read that features normal-to-plus size protagonists?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Scandalous (and Illegal) Relations in Books

Not that there's anything sexy or legal about teacher/student relations (abuse if a minor), but it hasn't stopped some novelists from writing about the matter. Here are a few that broach the subject. I'm sure there are many others.

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga chronicles an 18-year-old baseball player and math major who has flashes of an ongoing affair while in middle school with a teacher at the school. There was a brief note of the book in this weekend's L.A. Times book review section. It's gotten good reviews.

Last year's Academy Award nominated film, Notes on a Scandal, was based on a book by Zoe Heller called What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal. The story follows an ongoing flirtation between a young teacher and a high school sophomore that soon becomes more than glances across the school yard. I loved the film. But the book... excellent! Loved the writing... and some great one-liners.

Over the weekend, I read a short story called The Term Paper Artist by David Leavitt, that follows a college professor who writes papers for cute undergrads (guys) in exchange for relations. It's in his collection of novellas, Arkansas. Great story. Some interesting gay/straight interactions and negotiations.

Again, not an endorsement at all of these types of relationships. Don't want you doing anything that'll get you on Chris Hansen show. And being sexually abused is not to be taken lightly. But there's a saying that if it's happened, someone will write about it. And if it hasn't been written about, then that's your story to write.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

After The First and Second Novel Jitters

Been going through a bit of a creative block lately, on the writing tip. It's something many writers say they go through. It's not a normal thing for me.

When I did journalism, there wasn't a such thing as having creative/writer block. You got an assignment, you got a timeframe to research and write it, and you did it. Journalism is a good training ground for anyone considering book writing. The discipline and time thing.

That's the same approach/advice I've given and received about novel writing. Do the first draft "journalism" style. Just get through a draft. Now, with journalism, there's not a lot of time to re-write and edit. With creative writing, you have all the time in the world to think about getting the story right.

But... back to me. There's one question going through my mind when I put pen to paper -- is it any good? Not a question that I used to ask myself. But now that I'm in "the business" it's something that plagues me all the time.

So for all you first-timers, aspirings, etc... be thankful that you're writing for fun. That's how I saw my first novel. The second one too. Now, all I think about are readers, editors, numbers, and is it good?

Not going crazy over it. It is what it is, ya dig? :-) Just a temporary thing.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Adding To My Cue

Found a couple of documentaries I'm thinking of screening on the campus. You seen them? If not, they might be good to add to your netflix cue.

Do I Look Fat? It's a documentary about gay men and eating/fitness issues. Personally, I think it's a growing issue among men under 30 these days. I see them in the gym all the time, lifting the shirts to see if the abs pop through.

Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality. A documentary about the silence in black families and society about sex. Something along the line of the Soul Mate film.

Anyway, something tells me this is going to be a good weekend. Something like... Something in my heart by Michel'le.

Have a good one!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Real Quick Before I Go To Bed...

Tonight found the funniest blog I've read in a while. At least it's funny to me, in my sick & twisted way after a couple bacardi and diet cokes.

Stuff White People Like.

Read it... and identify, laugh, weep, share with your friends. Fun stuff.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


What do you get when a man married to a saintly perfect wife, has a fling (or three) with a hot college student who's tied to an aging and sickly sugar-daddy professor?

Some hot gay drama. Of course that would never happen in real life. Cough. Cough.

But in fiction, it's possible, and Sheri Joseph gives us some great character-driven drama in the recently-released novel, Stray.

I believe the author will be making an appearance soon in Atlanta, where the novel happens to take place too.

Love that cover... the symbolism of a warm bed that's just been emptied by a couple... going off to do their thing.

Check it out for a good spring break fling for your brain!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Summer's Coming

Nice day for some flowers. Just because.

I'm getting spring fever. And with the nice 70-degree days we've been having of late in L.A., I can see why.

Some of the students have been walking around the office, spouting off "Summer's coming," whenever they see someone about to eat something not-too-healthy. It's funny. Sometimes I think I'm too lazy (eating wise) to be skinny-fit-skinny, like I was in my 20s. Oh, it's also called metabolism. Yeah, that too.

Anyway, one of the signs that summer is coming is the Long Beach Pride. May 17 and 18, 2008. One of the funnest gay prides around. And my fave, At The Beach L.A., July 3 - 6, also known as Black Gay Pride.

Summer's coming. Time to get ready.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Bacon and Coffee

So I didn't wake up to the smell of bacon and coffee this morning. And it's okay. Not like there's anyone here to actually do it, but myself.

But the thought of bacon and coffee is comforting. A natural alarm clock. Aromatherapy for some of us. lol.

I'm getting a little nostalgic, but far from sad, because it's nearing the two year since my dad died. Weird to think it.

But one of the many good memories I have of growing up is how the smell of breakfast was like the family alarm clock. I mean FULL breakfast. I don't know how he did it, because he often got in from work after midnight, but by 6:30 or 7 am, we'd have a full breakfast ready for us -- my mom, sister, and me -- prepared by him. Like the works -- eggs, grits, bacon or sausage, potatoes, all that choleserolic love on a plate from parent to child.

He didn't believe in cold or quick breakfast. He said we learn better and are more productive when we ate full breakfast... and made our beds in the morning.

It's fun thinking about it. Not sad at all.

So I didn't wake up to bacon or coffee this morning. I went out and bought it, went with a good friend. The way we do it in the 2000s, I guess. But I ate it and savored it as much as if it were made at home by the people I love.

Still reading The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller (hear an excerpt). Pretty good so far. Got into another Obama/Clinton match last night with a friend... that's a whole 'nother story. I don't even start the stuff anymore. Somebody needed a "special" coffee last night to chill :-)