Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Smoke, Vampires and Giant Robots


This week was very difficult, writing wise. I suppose it was difficult all the way around, but the biggest impact was on my writing. Not that I didn’t make progress on the various stories/script that are in the works. I work on them in my head all the time. I even solved some key plot and character issues with the ending of A Soldier’s Fate. And I fleshed out the lead characters in the D/s script tentatively called The Proposal. None of that made it onto any kind of paper. All of that work remains in my head. It may have been the smoke. It wafted south and west to coastal neighborhoods. Unfortunately, we live in one of those and our commuter route took us within minutes of the edge of one evacuation zone. I had burning eyes early in the week. And after that, it was sinus irritation and some wicked headaches. Oh, and then there was the stress over whether or not we’d get a film going only to have a sympathy walkout by our actors. That turned out to be an unfounded worry, but the stress remained.

I spent my off hours staring at the television. I didn’t even have the energy to read last week. Thus, no writing on paper or PC occurred. I was barely answering my e-mails. Yes, I know there are a pile of you awaiting a response. I plan on getting to those after this blog.

But, as I said, writing is happening. I now know how A Soldier’s Fate ends. I mean, I always know how it would end, but now I know precisely how they all get to that end. And, for The Proposal, I figured out what kind of family histories the lead characters have and how their roles in the business world lead them to agree to the roles thy play in their D/s relationship. It’s all tremendously not sexy, but it has to be done for the script to make any sense. I’ll be sharing snippets of that script along with more excerpts from A Soldier’s Fate in the next few weeks. I’ll put warnings on the excerpts.

Vampire Updates

Much to my surprise, there will be another Demonspawn anthology. It’s not completely new. I am including stories from Demonspawn 2 with new stories from a new author, Florence Wall. The original novel continues to have consistent sales. And there is an audience of Vampire readers that found the anthologies but had not known about the film. Sybaritic Press had a consistent number inquires about them and we had the material, so we decided to go ahead with another. There will be an announcement here and on the Sybpress blog and newsgroup when it comes out. That should be late next month.

More on the Fires

I want to thank everyone who sent notes in concern over our safety during the fires last week. We were never in any danger from flames. I can understand why there was a lot of concern. The media maps of the fire used a an outline of the coast with a big flame over Malibu, but the scale of the map was such that the flame also looked like it covered Santa Monica and was really close to Venice and the environs where we live as well as some of our friends. In reality, we were more than 20 miles from the closest fire. Only our friend and former assistant Phil saw any action as we had to help evacuate the very pampered guests at one of those infamous rehab centers. I think he’d rather have run into one of those blazing canyons. What we all needed saving from is the fire coverage on the local media which is still only 48% contained. I know that they had to get information out to the affected areas. And I admit to joining my friends in the pool as to whether or not chuck Henry from Cannel 4 news would burn another newsvan. Here’s a paragraph on that from his Wikipedia article:

Henry was once nearly killed in the field filing a report about California forest fires in October 2003. Although the newspeople were told to leave by the fire department, the NBC team decided to stay longer and were soon surrounded by flames. Their van was completely engulfed and lost to the fire and the team had to be rescued by the LAFD. Chuck Henry was later seen on air crying about the situation referring to the newsvan as a "Stupid truck, full of equipment." This incident was parodied on a 2005 King of the Hill episode Gone with the Windstorm.

Incidentally, that’s one of my favorite King of the Hill episodes. And I didn’t know until today where the inspiration came from.

All of this was intriguing, but the news never told viewers where the shelters were or where the road closures were. They would refer them to websites. How in the heck are they going to do that while on the run? We had to look at the transit websites to figure out if we could get to work via our regular route. In the hours of couverage that we watched, I never saw a list of places or recources for evacuees. Nor did we see a full weather forecast which was supposed to be important to the firefighters. I gave up by day two.

The Joy of Stupidity

Yes, CSI Miami wins again. We have a character going to a crime scene in stilletto heels (and she was always one of the smart ones). And the episode itself was ridiculous. Everyone interviewed needed to be arrested and in any police reality, they would have been. But this week, we’re gonna have Werewolves! Sweet!

Now, I’ve gotten notes from folks who bristle at my ribbing of CSI: Miami. What I saw in my criticisms is true, but it doesn’t keep me from watching. It is one of those inexplicable pleasures (I can’t say guilty pleasure. I don’t feel guilty). I have many inexplicable pleasures. Take the film Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. I will watch that thing every time I find it on TV. Can’t explain why, but it’s fascinating to me. And I do criticize it. I invite people over to help me criticize The Ten Commandments. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy watching it.

So, don’t let a little critical observation take away the enjoyment of viewing.

Summer’s End

My summer finally ended yesterday when I saw the last of the season’s blockbusters on my list. Transformers was not nearly as stupid as I feared it would be. I actually found it amusing as well as exciting. Originally, I had only wanted to see it for the giant robots fighting on the 105 freeway. And that was really bitchin’! But the characterizations were pretty good and the dialogue was quite snappy. I got misty when I heard ‘I am Optimus Prime.’ Of course, I watched the cartoon. Heck, I can’t wait for Thunder Cats. Though I am certain that film will be stupid. Hopefully, it will be joyfully stupid. My only nit with Transformers was that they didn't do the theme from the TV show. So here it is: Click here.

Well, I’m off to do some actual writing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Bear with me here, this is going to be a very circuitous trip, but it is related to my writing. Weird is relative. Sometimes weird is your relatives. In my hometown of Philadelphia, we don’t think it’s weird at all that our old Football stadium had to have a courtroom in it to deal with fan ‘exuberance’ or hooliganism, depending on the point of view. Many wondered why it took so long. This is the same city that ran Mitch Williams out of town under threat of death (though I blame the General Manager for putting him in that last world series game). And our weirdness is not just sports related. There is the Mummers Parade where straight, largely blue collar men dress in ostrich feathers and parade for 12 hours (not kidding) on News Year’s Day. In all of that weirdness, I was considered weird there because I wanted to write novels and make films for a living. It’s relative. New York and Los Angeles are advanced level in their weirdness. Even Paris can be quite weird. We are convinced that tourists are assigned an accordion player while in customs at Charles de Gaulle Airport. That is the only explanation I have for the one I swear was on every Metro train car we used during our visits. And then there was the weather ‘general’ in full uniform with ribbons on VE day. We’re not sure he was a General. He sure should be if he isn’t. He looked very impressive in that uniform doing the weather. I’d love to have an imgae of him, but I couldn’t find one. On a side note, save for the metal painted statue performers we’ve seen in Paris and Cannes, we’ve never seen a classic, white faced mime. That’s weird. And in Columbus and Dayton Ohio, the term gay can be applied not just to those who are attracted to the same sex, but to those who have lived in any big city like New York or LA or anyone who still has long hair (I believe that pro-wrestlers and Bill Ray Cyrus are exempt). That is weird.

My point, aside from I see a lot of weirdness, is that the condition is relative to the surrounding community. I could get into actual relatives who are weird, but that’s for my therapist.

The same can be said for possessiveness. Whether or not such an element in a relationship is wildly romantic or frightening and abusive is relative from couple to couple. I bring this up because it has been brought up that most of the relationships in my erotic fiction involve highly possessive lovers. It surprises those very close to me, because I abhor possessiveness and jealousy in my relationships. However, I argue that my fictional couples are clear that they consent to having that kind of attention. The consent is explicit and reaffirmed throughout my novels or short stories. Nikulainen is so possessive of Sarianna in The Gift of Surrender that as soon as he is able, no one but he touches her – not even her own maid – unless it is absolutely necessary. She does not mind and that is clear.

In A Soldier’s Choice and even more so in A Soldier’s Fate, both Rik and Vincent are extremely possessive of each other. They freely admit it. Rik often says he hates sharing Vincent with anyone – even his brother. And Vincent can admits he hates smelling someone else’s scent on Rik even though he knows the situation couldn’t be helped. Each character accepts that in the other. It’s part of the passion of their relationships. It’s also clear that this degree of possessiveness does not prevent them from having close friendships that are independent of each other. In the Surrender books and the Soldier books, the lovers have extended families that include an odd assortment of friends. Their relationships are neither insular nor unhealthy for them. I have seen some very scary possessive relationships in books where if those characters were real, I recommend the police should be called and retraining orders obtained post haste. It’s more common than not that the relationships I’ve read about in other books are unhealthy. It’s similar to how bdsm relationships are badly written. There is almost never real consent from the submissive partner (the protagonists do a whole lot of assuming about what the lover wants or needs). I’ve been appalled to see such relationships begin with the submissive under the influence of drugs or a head injury. Oh yeah, you can get consent when someone is unconscious. Geez.

So enjoy my possessive guys and gals guilt free. And appreciate the weirdness around you.

New Book Trailer

Technically, it's the film trailer for Demon Under Glass, but it works for the book as well. And since there will be a new anthology of Demon Under Glass stories, we thought this would be a good kick off. It's best viewed on the smaller screen setting.


No Zombie!
Spoiler alert!

I was so disappointed with the storied return of Speedle on CSI: Miami. He was a hallucination of Delko who is inexplicably back on the job after being shot in the head. Yep, that’s who I want handling evidence and giving testimony, a guy freshly back from having a bullet in his brain. It’s still in his brain. Thus, hallucination Speedle. I’m not sure if that will be his only appearance.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Moby Dick, Psuedonyms and More Zombies

Book Fair Part Deux

I don’t know how I could forget these incidents at the West Hollywood Book Fair. Maybe my mind blocked them out. For those fans of Herman Melville and who isin’t? Marie and I witnessed performance piece of Moby Dick by a guy laying across two chairs in an all white suit making whale sounds while someone played music and did narration. Unfortunately, there was no Queequeg. One of my favorite statements from the Book Fair was from a woman who went from a consultation on a book proposal to ranting about Opera. ‘I’m so over LaBohem. 'She should take some panicillin and get over herself.’ I have no idea on how we got on the topic. But the statement of the day belongs to Len Richmond’s mother (she’s the owner of the drunken parrot, Chicky). She’s led quite the interesting life. “You know, I think I’ve handled 10,000 penises in my lifetime,” she informed me. Fortunately, I was didn’t have any liquid in my mouth at the time. And she wasn’t a proctologist, either. We were all impressed.

Speaking of Len Richmond, Naked in Paradise debuted in the top 50 of amazon.com’s list of hot new books in Gay Fiction. We’ve had inquiries from book stores in the US, the UK, France and Austrailia. It’s also carried on TLA.com, Powells.com and libreriauniversitaria.it. We’re expecting reviews from some really great places soon.

In Plain Sight

The refreshing honesty of Mrs. Richmond about her past brings me to a topic that comes up for me and some of my authors fairly often. How much do you let family, friends and co-workers know about the nature of your fiction? I don’t use a pseudonym in my fiction. Though I make no judgement on those who do, I think the days of remaining completely anonymous are over in light of the internet. It’s certainly not possible to schedule readings or signings while using a pseudonym. I have run into family and former co-workers in all kinds of locations and cities where no one knew me. And the six degrees of separation theory is fairly true. Someone you know will inevitably find out what you’re desperately trying to hide. I don’t need the additional hassle or stress. Besides, I’m not embarrassed by what I write or how I came by the information to write what I write. My family has always known that I walked on the wild side. They just don’t ask. With co-workers not in the entertainment industry, it’s a stickier situation. Those pesky rules on sexual harassment mean I can’t really talk about what I write. I mean, even answering the question of why I was in Trekkies is a vilolation of those policies. I rarely send co-workers to my web sites without a very strong warning about the content. I’m still wigged out that my darlin’ Mother-in-Law (hello, Maw-in-Law) has been through my web sites. But I’d rather be open than try to skulk around in the shadows. It’s always fun telling my actors about my kinky background. Most shrug as if to say, ‘Is that all you’re into?’ Some embrace it and even tease me though the naughty boys who keep asking ‘When are you going to spank me?’ Have no clue how much trouble that can bring. All that said, I do not proselytize (though that is tempting with cute actor boys) and I am careful not to rub my family’s collective noses in my entire life. I’ll likely have a separate web page for the memoir I’m writing for folks like my Dad and Grandma to send to the chuch folk. And Jon and I are doing a family page of photos of our lives and travels for the younger folks in our families to look at. However, I’ll never hide who I am and what I write.

Creative Tempatations

Just as I am finishing up A Soldier’s Fate, I am being distracted by another novel and a script. It’s all the fault of Ed Quinn on Eureka. His character, Nathan Stark, on that show looks like someone who would be very much at home in the world of d/s. That inspiration and an annoyance about the inaccurate portrayal of the lifestyle in films and on TV set my mind wandering, and a week later there is a full-blown treatment. I had to let my mind develop it completely before I could get back to my soldier boys. That can be very inconvenient. I don’t know when I’ll actually write it. I’d like to tackle the memoir and the Surrender sequel first. But Dom’s can be really pushy. I may have to write that next.

And Still More TV Rants
Warning: More spoilers for this season and seasons long ago

I totally forgot to rant about Sara Sidle on CSI last week. I had been mightily displeased that she was neither the minature killer or a victim of the miniature killer. I wasdoubly annouyed at the waste of that opportunity when I found out that Jorja Fox who portrays Sara Sidle is leaving the show because whe feels her six figure per episode income is unstatisfactory. Meanwhile, I am plased to have seen a preview of Zombie Speedle on CSI:Miami . I think they are leaning toward zombies, because the tage line read ‘and the dead shall rise.’ Awesome.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Drunken Parrot, Watergate and Cheerleaders

I wanted to write this last Sunday, but we here exhausted after the Bookfair. It had    been brutally hot at different points in the day, and that was draining. Then, we had to set up and break down the tables and carry all the heavy stuff across the park to the car. Combine that with less than four hours of sleep, and you get two brain dead people Sunday night. The most I could have written was fire bad, tree pretty. And you, gentle reads would have missed a heck of a tale.

Book Fair and Watergate
Difficulties in getting boxes of books, magnets, 40 lbs of lube and a 7 by 8 foot sign across town aside, the West Hollywood Book Fair was a success for Sybaritic Press. We were in the same area as last year, but the booths were reconfigured so the sun wasn’t as much of a problem after 12 noon. We had our stock well in advance this year, so we didn’t have the angst over having a sparse spread. Jon’s new signage look great. I was glad. He’d lost a lot of sleep putting on the final touches the night before. Our neighbors across the way were the The Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. They had some really big authors as guests, which was cool to listen in on. But I was amused about how much the volunteers talked about slash between the authors. I tried not to show any reaction lest I get drawn in and distracted from my booth. The organizers of the Book fair were to put us in that area.

The strangeness began early. We were visited by a goth pair who had a big, fluffy, annoyed kitty in something that looked like a baby coach. There were the West Hollywood Cheerleaders. The one in the photo is the one that shaved his beard. And then there was the well dressed gentleman in the briefcase who passed by a couple of time. Each time, he eyed our booth nervously. I realized that it was John W. Dean, who was speaking at one of the stages. In the name of my journalism professors, I really wanted him to come closer and perhaps, sample some of our wares. Alas, he did not. However, that was not the end of the strangeness at the booth.

Drunken Parrot

We had a drunken parrot in our booth. And that wasn’t the weirdest part. No, wait...I think that was the weirdest part of the day. But there was a lot of strangeness prior to the drunken parrot. Now, I have to clarify, the bird didn’t arrive drunk. He was a little freaked out from the car ride, but he was sober upon arrival. The parrot belongs to Len Richmond’s 80-something year old mother. She owns the sex toy factory that provided the free mini bottles of lube for the table. The African Gray Parrot is called Chicky. He didn’t talk at the booth, but we hear he yacks up a storm at home. Anyway, Len’s mother and brother were in attendance for the debut of Naked in Paradise. I had brought a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate the launch and our pleasant and successful collaboration. I gave a cup to Len’s mother who promptly fed some to Chicky. We thus had a drunken parrot in our booth. And it turns out that Chicky can be a frisky drunk and is apparently gay. He was later making out with one of the popcorn boys I found wandering around the booths promoting Gays on Film. Once I saw them, I had to bring them over to share with everyone.

But back to Naked in Paradise, Len and his friends were a whole lot of fun in the booth. They bring a joy and mayhem that’s a real treat to witness. His book was also well-received. The cover garnered a few sales before he arrived, and it was sold out by the time he and his mom trundled away. The title will be carried at the A Different Light bookstores and a store in London. It’s well ranked on Amazon, and it’s only been out a week or so. We’re very pleased and hope do do more events with Len, his Mom and hopefully, Chicky.

Overall, Sybaritic Press did very well at the fair. In addition to Len Richmond’s title, Brenda Petrakos’ Stories From the Inside Edge did very well. One man bought a copy of all of our homoerotic content and another bought all of my titles. We had a great, if exhausting day and look forward to participating next year.

Vampires, Zombies and Hawaii Five-OWarning, spoilers for current season and 40 year old shows.

Because I was largely brain dead last Sunday, my only option while waiting for my body to keel over, was watching TV. Jon had gone to bed before 8pm, so I didn’t watch our usual line up. I found that CBS had the first episode of Moonlight for free on Itunes, so I thought, why not? I was curious, and I wanted to make sure that their vampires weren’t the same as the vampires in Demon Under Glass. I found I disagreed with my friends. This show wasn’t a pale imitation of Buffy or Angel. It was a pale imitation of Forever Knight. That’s surprising as Forever Knight wasn’t exactly great TV. I followed the show, but chalk that up to shows that I watch and don’t know why. It wasn’t horrible, but it was sloppy and more than a little silly. I doubt I’ll make the effort to tune in again. Meanwhile, there was no Speedle on CSI: Miami, zombie or otherwise. However, I found an amusing parallel to this week’s episode and the opener for Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Both, it turned out, had a plot about a young man seeking revenge on those who put their fathers in jail. Where Criminal Intent dealt with well-meaning peace officers who made errors against men they truly believed were guilty and had an outcome that was messy and complicated and brought closure to no one, Horatio Cain decided on a more Hawaii Five-O approach to resolution. Cain managed to have his would-be assassin steal his gun from his city issued Hummer and use it on him only to reveal that it is filled with blanks. This was very satisfying in Season 7’s A Gun for McGarrett (no, I dind't know this off-hand, I had to look it up. Search engines do amazing things these days), but that was a long time ago before TV writing evolved. Yeesh. Yet I will continue watching because I can’t help it.

I'm in the final quarter of A Soldier's Fate and expect that to publish in January. Meanwhile, we'll be shooting the short for The Gift of Surrender next month followed by either the short or feature for The Gunslinger. I know I'll regret saying this, but I can't wait to get back on a set.

Stay tuned!