Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reviews: A Window Into Personality

If there's one thing I've learned for quite some time is how reviews, though they are only, as Anne Rice put it, an "individual response," nothing more or less, are also a window into a personality.

The grace and gorgeousness of this one is stunning.

It's not about the star rating. It's about the content

How someone voices that content is a choice. It represents how they carry themselves. It boils down to a person's choice. It's okay to not like a book. We are all allowed to feel negative about anything if it makes us frustrated, annoyed, turned off, etc. and to express that. But not liking something is not a reason to present ourselves in a way that only makes us appear unprofessional, disrespectful, overdramatic, and immature. Even with negativity, we can all still present ourselves with maturity, and as sweet and gracefully, and as positively, as this person did. It's not easy, but it can be done. 

How we express ourselves is a choice. It's up to us if, no matter if we approve or disapprove of something (or someone), we want to present ourselves in a good way, or a bad way. Either way we choose, it only reflects on us, not on what we review. Books, movies, art - any form of entertainment - are meant to be open to all sorts of interpretations, from the glowingly positive, intelligent, and enlightening to the downright nasty, mean, and sometimes, very personal. It's a "take" on how one saw that work through their eyes - and it will differ, because we're all individuals. That's the beauty of it all - that there's no one interpretation, no one viewpoint, and no one experience to learn from. It's not what's said, but how one says it, that tells us about the reviewer and their personality.  

We can learn a lot from each other this way. I truly believe that a review, in essence, is not just someone's take on something, but a reflection of a person's character too. That's not to say that we know everything about someone from just a review. But can it give us a little and yet reveal so much?

I'd say: hell yes. 

Thank you, Marie Macula, for this beautiful review, and for seeing the humanity of Jon and Izzy despite their flaws and mistakes. To everyone who have also not lost sight of their humanity - you know who you are! - thank you. It means so much and also says a lot about your humanity too. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

A World Of Pure Imagination: RIP Gene Wilder

2016 is carrying on with being so cruel to the legends that we love.

Thank you Gene Wilder for giving us a world of pure imagination. Rest In Peace.

"Make a wish. Count to three."


Everyone is one. They are everywhere. We all got them.

When it comes to critics on books, Anne Rice said it best. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An All Romance Best Seller: The Man On Top of the World

It was so nice waking up to this:

Thank you again to everyone who ordered a copy and made this possible - you're the best!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Reasons To Cry: Context Is Everything

Men cry.

This is a given. But it isn't. Not by societal standards. It's not encouraged for men to show their emotions. Unless it's violent or aggressive, their emotions of tenderness and vulnerability aren't wanted. When men cry, they are chalked up as drama queens. Or are the butt of memes like this:

Their tears are not tears. They are "man tears." For some reason, gendering tears is a thing, too.

And why do tears have to strip a man's masculinity away? 

I don't get it, but maybe it's just me, that I see things like this a little differently. Not that there always has to be a reason to cry, but the context behind the crying matters, and it's everything.

Jonathan and Izzy cry a lot, yes. But never do they cry for no reason. The times that they do, it's in the context of the moment. It only makes sense that they do. Why wouldn't they cry for their losses?

Their losses are heavy and deep, for reasons heavily deep and personal. From heartbreak to death, I mean, who wouldn't cry for that? This is a universal pain women and men feel. Because, after all:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tie Me Up: Golden Flogger Award Winner

What a day, what a week!

A BDSM anthology that I'm in, Tie Me Up, has won my editor and us, the writers/contributors, a Golden Flogger Award at BDSM Writers Con.

What an honor for us all!

I Got Mail!

No Control

I've always loved this David Bowie song. It always had me at this verse alone:
"I should live my life on bended knee
If I can't control my destiny
You've gotta have a scheme
You've gotta have a plan
In the world of today, for tomorrow's man"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Man On Top of the World Reviews: Oh My!

More reviews for my debut novel are coming in. I'm loving them all!

What I'll say about the negative reviews is that they're a riot, and are similar to a pattern I've been noticing for a while: folks complaining about a movie, TV show, or book for the thing that the movie, show, or book is about.

My book is a 1970s rocker story. It has sex, drugs, and rock stars in it. Who would have thought? How dare that it has that. How dare that a scary movie has scary scenes in it. How dare that a horror movie has too much horror in it. How dare that a zombie show is all about zombies or that a Pokemon game has Pokemon. How dare that a Harry Potter script is, oh my, it's a script! 

And The Man on Top of the World is like reading a Ziggy Stardust fanfiction. I only hint to that when I say in my bio that Izzy is "David Bowie-esque." So Izzy is Bowie inspired and channels Bowie. That's clearly transparent from my bio to the book's blurb, excerpt, and context. No surprises. My writing style isn't for everyone. That's too bad if it is, but it's highly unlikely that any author's style is for everyone, it's not meant to be. This book isn't British enough. It wasn't written by a Brit, with not a British audience in mind. The language and dialogue is not colloquial enough to the culture, but I didn't by any means, in no way, shape, or form, made a mockery, caricature, or stereotype out of the characters, for being as they are in this time period. If I did, that would be wrong, but I didn't. I only didn't use proper British language and colloquial, that's all. It's not that serious. It's so harmless and innocent at most, stupid and naive at best, but on the whole, it really shouldn't be this big deal. I admit in my acknowledgements that I didn't have any beta readers. I never said that this book wasn't edited. Of course it was edited. Some may feel that there needed to be more editing, and do do I, because I feel like a book is never truly finished. But really, and honestly, we're happy, and proud, regardless, of what we did with this book. We did the best we could. Ultimately, all is well, as am I.

All that negativity aside, I really do appreciate all of you who have bought the book, read/reviewed the book, and have shown support for it in general, so far. Negative people are the loudest, but the positive people will always be the ones that matter most. The positive reviews are so wonderful, loving, caring, and understanding. It's been such an overwhelmingly amazing experience seeing this project through to the end, to today. The Man on Top of the World is for those who do enjoy what it's all about - rock stars, the 70s, and glam rock - and the more that's there besides the drugs, booze, and sex. I appreciate every single one of you who can or will see it for everything that it is, and not just for one part of what it is. You, and only you, rock my world!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mission Complete: The Man on Top of the World

The day has come at last! The Man on Top of the World is out everywhere - in e-book, paperback, at Barnes & Noble, your local indie book store, and many more places where books are sold.

I truly feel like a mission was accomplished and is now complete.

To everyone who has pre-ordered, THANK YOU, and I hope that you like the postcard!

To everyone who will own a copy, whether it will be today and now, next week, next month, or next year, to all The Man on Top of the World readers out there, with all my heart, I love you!

And don't forget -

Whether you love it or hate it, let other readers know how you feel about The Man on Top of the World by reviewing it on:
The more places, including your Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc., the merrier. The more you share your review in more than one site also, the more it will make the book visible for everyone to see that it exists out there. The reviews aren't for me or my ego. It's only about and for you, the audience!

Enjoy - and again, thank you, I love you, and rock on!

Monday, August 15, 2016

On Reviews: The Man on Top of the World

As more reviews are coming in for The Man on Top of the World, taking a moment to reflect on reviews, and the nature of them, is as important a part of the journey in writing as it is with life.

This is by no means a post for the reviewers or about reviewers. I'm grateful, I'm thankful.

This is about the bottom line that I really appreciate, and even adore, because it is human nature:


Through it, what people see, it's all that they see, and that's a choice.

Even when there's more than the surface, perception reigns.

See the negative, all you'll see is that. Vice versa with the positive. All you'll see is positive.

See both sides, the positive and the negative, you unravel the layers.

The Man on Top of the World is layered, as are the characters and their romance. Some will see soulmates, and that despite their flaws, bullshit, drama, and baggage, they were meant to be.

Some will hate the characters. They are frustrating. Rightfully so, because after all, they are frustrated. They may piss us off. Because they are pissed off. They may not be all-around likeable, but they don't make an effort to fit in. They casually get high. It was the 70s - drug use was casual. As was sex - it was casual. With both, they had lots of it. Their life on tour is repetitive. Like it is with our day-to-day lives, touring is repetitive. Jonathan's voice may not be everyone's style, but it wasn't meant to be. My writing style isn't for everyone. This book isn't British enough, it wasn't written by a Brit, with not a British audience in mind. It's not colloquial enough to the culture, but I didn't by any means, in no way, shape, or form, made a mockery, caricature, or stereotype out of the characters, their country, or the culture. If I did, then I could understand the problem, but I didn't. I simply only didn't use enough British colloquialisms, dialogue, and slang, that's it. That can turn some people off, sure, because some people prefer for books to be colloquial, but at the end of the day, it's so harmless and innocent, it shouldn't be this big deal. My "Americanized" version of 1970's London is only fiction - it's not real, it's not accurate, and it's ridiculous, as it's supposed to be. This is fiction.

These characters are rock stars. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that rock stars can be drama queens that lead such theatrical, over the top, and unbelievable lives offstage as they do on. They wouldn't be rock stars without it. This is a rocker story. It's par of the course that there will be drinking, doping, and crazy happenings. Just because it seems like that's all that the characters do, it doesn't mean that is all that they do. Some will not see a romance between these two. It's an oxymoron, but some will see Jon and Izzy as just two fuck buddies that only hurt each other despite how much was said, shown, and believed beyond the sex and the hurt. And there's a love triangle here. Love triangles are always swamped with drama - non-stop drama even! All that negativity - yes, it is there, but how people treat its existence is, again, boiled down to that reader's perception of it all. It's their choice to see that, and only that, and not all else in-between. The positive and the good, the warmth, the love, will naturally be underplayed or not mentioned at all, so all they're reviewing is mostly the negative, and projecting their strong bias against the rock and roll lifestyle and/or the rocker genre in general, instead of actually reviewing the book for all that it is, not just part of what it is. All the bias and projection doesn't erase the layers and the depth. It doesn't mean that the good, the positive, and the love wasn't there. The negative is just what they saw most, it's only how they feel. In the context of the era, time, and place, everything in The Man on Top of the World makes sense.

And it all happened for a reason.

Some will just not know it and will not see it. But some have, and many did, see it clearly. They saw all the layers, the good and the bad. They are the audience that The Man on Top of the World is for.

We all know what a romance is. And yet, many of us even have very different perceptions on that.

This is mine. And this is only how I feel.

Jonathan and Izzy are not fuck buddies. Sex alone is what makes people fuck buddies. Nobody can possibly be fuck buddies if it goes beyond the sex. If there's love, if there's hurt, if there's pain, even when there's a lot of sex, you have lovers. Jonathan and Izzy have, and are in, a relationship.  

There is no one way to have a romance. Not all of them are, can, and should be warm and fuzzy. Not all are a happily ever after. A "happily ever after for now" doesn't take away a romance, not when love is still there, not when the pain is less or gone entirely. There is no one way of falling in love, like how there is no one definition of love. There is no one side to anything. There's not even one way to hate. There are many ways to hate. There is no one way to see what love is. There is no one way to see what hate is. Even with some of the other elements that The Man on Top of the World explores, from BDSM, sexuality, and gender identity, there's just not one way to have and enjoy what we do and love. Whether it's to the extreme or not, there are far too many layers out there for just one.

As are perceptions. Perceptions will vary aplenty, not just with how people read/review books, but how people look at and examine life in general, in all its many complexities. Some might also see The Man on Top of the World being like a Ziggy Stardust fanfic. Izzy is Bowie-inspired. I make that transparent in my author bio. So there's no surprise about that. And most can't help but see David Bowie in Izzy - so naturally, people will also see Ziggy. Izzy may be channeling Ziggy Stardust/David Bowie in his own way, but that's the character, not the story. The story is not a Ziggy Stardust fanfic. It's Jonathan's story, a story about his most complex relationship with Izzy.

Some may not understand or like this book at all for all the reasons above and, possibly, for many reasons more. Or some, for all their excitement for it, may not feel it, even though they tried.

But you know what?

It's OKAY. 

It's only human nature. It's perception. And I love it. "It's like sex without touching."

Friday, August 12, 2016

An Evening With Jeffrey Tambor

It was such a pleasure and a riot having an evening with this beautiful man!

Jeffrey Tambor had me in tears tonight from all the laughter and his heartwarming stories and wisdom. Nicest guy, truly hilarious, and so warm and caring. I honestly don't even know where to begin with how fantastic this Paley Live NY event was, how Jeffrey and Judith Light were utterly brilliant with the Q&A between each other and with us, the audience. Here were the highlights:

  • When Jeffrey talked about his mother and father with as much honesty as with A LOT of humor. Especially with his father, how his father went "shh! shh!" to silence Jeffrey in times when he had life-achieving moments to share, because his father believed that positive things like that shouldn't be boasted about, if even talked about at all. That "shh! shh!" stays with Jeffrey, as both a blessing as well as something that bothers him. But it keeps him humble, to not let success/fame get to his head. He also talked about his father's death, which naturally, was a tear jerker.
  • He divulged about his acting career, about how he spent many times trying to impress people who did not like him. But eventually came around to realizing, and telling us, only please people who DO like you. Who cares about the people who don't. We should never aim to please people who aren't for us.  
  • Glowing about his wife and son - who were at the event and in the audience.  

  • Jeffrey is a man of many talents. He had so many words of wisdom. I can't possibly explain or re-write all that he said, but one thing he said has stayed on my mind:

         "Between action and cut, there's a beautiful life."

  • Naturally, there was a lot of talk about Transparent and how he fit into his role as Maura. And he talked about how he'd shake a lot, knowing how privileged he is as a cis man to play a trans woman. He fully stressed very clearly that by playing Maura, it's "AS IF" he knows what it's like being an actual trans woman. Playing her has not only opened another peak in his career, but has made him realize what we trans people go through on a regular basis. He talked about his first time being at an event, debuting Maura for the first time, and how he was shaking, because he couldn't believe that he was her. He mentioned the dark, disapproving glares he got from people who didn't know he was Jeffrey, and he told himself "Never forget this" as he also told himself to never forget that night. In that same night, he used the woman's restroom for the first time. His co-star, Judith Light, asked Jeffrey (as Maura) if she should go with her, and Maura (Jeffrey) responded: "I must do this alone." And he never forgot that either. After that anecdote, he went on to say how at the end of the day, after he takes off Maura's clothes and into his clothes, when he's not playing Maura, when he's off the Transparent set, he carries on with life as a cis man, while Maura is yet still inside him. One of the most beautiful things about Jeffrey is that he's not self-serving/self-congratulatory. Yes, this is a cis man playing a trans woman. Yes, a trans woman should be playing Maura. BUT...Jeffrey contributes, and he's humbled, and selfless, in playing Maura. I'm not sure if this is common knowledge or something, but Jeffrey has been teaching young trans actors/actresses so they can have a shot at achieving their dreams. And he has been truly moved, even dumbstruck, by the talent he has been seeing from these trans actors/actresses. He had a specific story about a trans girl who would sneak out of home, go in the taxi, put her wig on, and go to class not as the boy that her father thinks she is, but as the woman she is, at Jeffrey's class that has also become a safe haven for her, and many more of these aspiring talented people. If that's not selfless...I don't know what is. This is a man who truly cares about helping the trans community, especially homeless trans people and especially if they are trans youth and aspiring actors/actresses. He is making a difference in his role as Maura. And he went into Maura, supporting her from the very beginning. He was sold immediately in playing her, after reading only 8 pages of the script. 

          He said to everyone: "I'M IN!"

          And added: "Either you do King Lear or you do Maura."

He chose Maura. 

I can go on and on, but here's another highlight that tickled everyone.

  • Jeffrey is also a man who is not afraid to confess his faults. He told how one time on the set of Transparent, as Maura he went into the women's restroom, and as he was going, two of the producers went in and they said to each other "At least today Jeffrey's not so cranky!"
          And he couldn't help but say to them from inside the stall: "I'm here..."

          And he went on to say that as embarrassing and shocking that moment was, to be talked about behind his back, it made him self-evaluate and go, "hmm, maybe I need to correct this about me."

That takes real grace, such sweet humility.

This man is just wonderful, in every sense of the word. And FUNNY - I can't stress this enough. The man is HILARIOUS. He shared more anecdotes than what I shared here, the rest, you had to have heard it live and in person to truly get a kick out of it. He's just a riot. From talking about his life, his acting career, teaching, lecturing, the Emmys, fame, and celebrity, I doubt that there was anybody who didn't laugh and/or get a tear in their eye from this man. I was so honored and thrilled to have met him and seen him tonight. An evening with Jeffrey Tambor is an evening to remember forever.

 (Photos courtesy of Paley Center)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

From Mourning To Celebrating David Bowie

Every Sunday, I think about David Bowie, but even more so on Monday, when we lost him.

"Where the fuck did Monday go?"

And I think about Iman. And Lexi.

And how like the rest of the world, they're still mourning for him, 7 months later.

And yet, through the mourning, we're celebrating.

Not a day goes by where I don't listen to David's music or watch his performances, interviews, and movies. It's like he's still here, and yet it's so hard to believe that he's no longer with us.

In September, I'll be going to this event, which I have a feeling will make everything more than ever more real, in that yes, we're mourning for such a beautiful man as we're also celebrating his legacy.

And him.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Ground Control To: The Man on Top of the World (The BSB Webstore Release)

The day has come at last:

The Man on Top of the World is out now in e-book and paperback exclusively on BSB's webstore!

...which also means only 2 weeks 'til The Man on Top of the World is out in bookstores, from Barnes & Noble to independent book stores, on August 16th!

Who's excited?