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Monday, March 30, 2020

Regarding Henry

Shades of Henry

by Amy Lane

A Flophouse Story
One bootstrap act of integrity cost Henry Worrall everything—military career, family, and the secret boyfriend who kept Henry trapped for eleven years. Desperate, Henry shows up on his brother’s doorstep and is offered a place to live and a job as a handyman in a flophouse for young porn stars.

Lance Luna’s past gave him reasons for being in porn, but as he continues his residency at a local hospital, they now feel more like excuses. He’s got the money to move out of the flophouse and live his own life—but who needs privacy when you’re taking care of a bunch of young men who think working penises make them adults?

Lance worries Henry won’t fit in, but Henry’s got a soft spot for lost young men and a way of helping them. Just as Lance and Henry find a rhythm as den mothers, a murder and the ghosts of Henry’s abusive past intrude. Lance knows Henry’s not capable of murder, but is he capable of caring for Lance’s heart?

Buy Here 

It's weird, how these days of "social distancing" impact our feelings of time. It wasn't until the publicist at Dreamspinner pinged me to let me know what promotions were going down for Henry that I realized, Oh my God! I have a release tomorrow!

Now, normally for us, release day is sort of a big deal (you think?) but in this case, like so many of us out there, the list of my concerns outside of work and what happens on the interwebs is so much more important. "Maybe it's allergies--maybe it's Covid-19!" is more than just a Maybelline rip-off, and so is, "Toilet... toilet paper? And hand soap!"  Then there's my favorite, "Will my adult children be able t make rent," followed by, "So, does my oldest child with asthma know ALL THE SYMPTOMS of the virus and how to get help if he's having trouble breathing?"

We are scared.

But we are also looking for ways to entertain ourselves to get our mind off of that--and I know my audiobook and regular book reading is one of my best ways to pass the time. And I think Henry is a really worthy character to pass it with!

One of my favorite games to play with a character is to see someone whose behavior looks absolutely inexcusable and then to look inside them to see what made them do these inexcusable things. When we first meet Henry--in Dex in Blue-- he's passing as a redneck, making gross sexist jokes, and sleeping with his sister's husband.

Ick. Just... ick.

And people still wanted his story! (I was stunned--seriously.)

I figured, "Well, maybe his story--but not a romance." So I brought him back for the fourth Fish book, Fish on a Bicycle. He was the guy who didn't do it. And the more I wrote him from Jackson and Ellery's point of view--and they look inside everybody to see what makes them tick--the more I realized there was more to this guy than meets the eye.

And I'd wanted to write the Flophouse books for a while--books about the Johnnies guys but shorter, a little less angsty, and using some of the fun aspects of porn and a houseful of guys who haven't quite grown up yet, in spite of what their penises could do.

So it became imperative that Henry live at the flophouse--and then that he and Lance have a story of their own.

Of course, this brings up timeline difficulties. Henry was obviously in the beginning stages of his association with Lance in Fish on a Bicycle--so I had to include the murder in Shades of Henry without overwhelming the reader with details. I didn't WANT a rehash of Fish 4. I wanted a book that could stand on its own and I worked hard to write one--and my editors worked hard for that too.

But we were all rooting for Henry--the idea of a character who is not just black and white, who was shades of gray and blue and a little red and even some gold was so appealing. Henry's not a perfect guy. He doesn't always say the right thing. He doesn't get the guys in porn, and he doesn't get Sacramento and he has no idea how to make things right with his brother.

But he learns. One step at a time. Because his heart is good, and he does have integrity, even though he thinks it's cost him everything. But a guy who would do the right thing even though it costs him--that's a good guy. I think everybody who wanted his story was right.

We need to know more about him.

So I hope you all love Henry--I really hope you enjoy his story.

And I hope you're ready for more Flophouse stories, because I have at least two more planned.

Rat Erotica...

Seriously-- blogging gets more and more difficult by the nanosecond:

Quarantine, Day 16: Took the dogs for a walk. Much excitement ensued!

Quarantine, Day 17: Took the dogs for a walk. Much excitement ensued!

You can see a pattern there, right?  I think the one thing I'm most disappointed about is I keep losing my earbuds--I was really getting into a pattern of listening to an audiobook while knitting. (Just saying, good thing I'm a Karen Rose fan-- she gets to write books that are at least 20 hours long!)

Anyway-- besides that, there's, well, us. Knocking around the house and trying not to piss each other off.

Squish has impressed me though-- she's cleaned her room to the point that we bought paint today, and Mate priced flooring. We can move shit out and let her paint her room and order a mattress and she can move out of the bunk-bed which she sleeps in (she's bottom, ZoomBoy's top.) By the way, it freaks us all out that Lowe's is still open. I stayed in the car and let them go price paint--it was surreal how full that parking lot was.

His room will need a flame-thrower and the national guard to clean out--we need to make sure the weather is going to be super nice before we do his--and, hate to say it, need to make sure the thrift stores are open to donate too!

So, my big excitement tomorrow is that Shades of Henry releases Tuesday! I'm super excited about it--but I'll talk about it a little more tomorrow :-)


About the title.

Most of us are finding things to keep amused, but if you get a chance to watch John Oliver's show tonight (it's usually aired on YouTube or HBO Go the day after) after the VERY sobering discussion about how the fucking pustule in chief has our blood on his hands (again--I haven't forgotten Puerto Rico or the hate crimes he's inspired) has failed us huge, there is a VERY entertaining segment about...

Well, Rat Erotica.

Here-- skip through the first part, if you need to, but oh my stars. The last five or so minutes...


And if you haven't had your fill of  Tweets and Memes-- this one from Buzzfeed sort of nailed my generation like a hand to the heart:

And there you go. It's gotten down to Buzzfeed and Rat Erotica. But it's better than excitement--because I have had plenty of that.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Dogs-- the smart and the not so much...

Today was super exciting because I got to go walking by myself.

Yeah-- I know. For those of us doing the social distancing thing, exciting is relative, but, hey, we take our wins where we can get them.  Anyway-- when I say "by myself" I, uh, MEAN by myself. Not only did Mate and the kids stay home, but so did everybody else in the world. The park was so quiet--and so deserted--that I didn't use my earbuds while listening to my audiobook, because my ears are almost always pressurized anyway (worst part about flying) so I didn't have to suffer through. Anyway--nobody to hear the sex scene but me--go figure, right?

So quiet, in fact, that the bunnies came out.

Well, like I said-- we take our "excitement" where we can get it.

Anyway--in other wins, Mate and I are stunned at the way we've managed to conserve toilet paper. *crosses fingers* Maybe they'll have some in the stores by Saturday? After that it's paper towels for sure.

Also,  we have figured out that Nebula takes a bath in his water bowl every morning. *shrugs* I got nothing. Totally psycho and utterly charming.

Chicken managed to talk us into watching Tiger King, because she wanted to share in the WHAT THE HOLY FUCK IS THIS! Sentiment. I told her she was like one of those raccoons, and she didn't know what I was talking about, so I give you this:

So, watch Tiger King if you want a taste of mango chutney and burnt hair in your psyche. I personally hope we stop after part one, because it's bananas.

And, to finish off our nothing day, I have this:

As  I stood up to go give the dog's treats, I said, "Hey, Mate, want to help me give the dogs--"

"Flea treatment?" he said from the living room.

"Yeah--how did you know?"

He was looking down the hallway. "Because Johnnie saw you grab the box and is now hiding under the bed."

"Are you kidding me?" (We can never get Johnnie out from under the bed--it's a king sized bed with no clearance--you'd have to be quite literally the size of a small dog.)

"Nope." He cuddled Geoffie while I broke out her combo flea prevention/heartworm meds. "But you're just going to sit here and take it, aren't you?"

On the counter was a hamburger left over from lunch. I ripped off a chunk of it and after she'd swallowed her pill I gave her the hamburger--she was WAY excited, and Mate used the moment to rattle the dog treat bag to try to entice Johnnie out of the bedroom.

Didn't work.

So, Johnnie is sitting next to me, staring balefully at me as I work, asking for a dog treat, and Geoffie is probably bragging in dog about how SHE got a hamburger for being a good girl.

I figure she deserves it ;-)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Quarantine, Day... What day is it?

Squish was petting her cat tonight and found... *shudders*

Squish: Oh, hey-- what's this? What did you bring me? Is this a SLUG!

Me: *tiny voice* ew...

Squish: Look at it, Mom! It's so cute!

Me: *tiny voice* Sure. Adorable. *closes eyes*

Squish: No, seriously--I've seen videos on tik-tok where they put the slugs in jars and keep them moist and cover them in leaves, and feed them loam and...

Me: *finally finding my voice* No. Absolutely not.

Squish: But Mom!

Me: Not on day... what day is it?

Squish: Tuesday.

Me: Oh, shit--okay-- so, day 11?

Squish: Yeah.

Me: Maybe day 23--maybe.

ZB: We can WHAT?

Squish: Make a tiny slug terrarium and keep adorable little baby slugs!

Me: Put that outside maybe?


Squish: But they're so CUTE!

ZB: *picking up dog* Cute? You call that CUTE? THIS. This is cute. Look at him? Isn't he sweet?

Johnnie the dog: *rolls eyes and grimaces obsequiously*

Squish: He's fine--but imagine a little jar full of baby slugs!

Me and ZB: No. No. We are not that bored.

Squish: *walks toward door to deliver baby slug softly on a bed of damp grass*  Not. Yet.

Johnnie the dog: *looks a little alarmed*

Monday, March 23, 2020

Boring Family Stuff

Kind of a weird day-- the power went off a couple of times, probably because the outside was super blowy, and the internet was down for a couple of hours. On top of the empty streets and the quiet cold of the dog park, we expected to see zombies at any moment. Fortunately not--no baseball bats at the ready.

And after that, I sort of had a... a snow day, I guess.

I've been doing my best to be a bright and shining force of positivity for my quarantined family, but today, all I wanted to do--ALL I wanted to do--was knit.

Mate let me. Made me dinner (hey, it doesn't happen often, so I shall savor) and let me pick the movies  (Hitman's Bodyguard and Kung Fu Panda 2) and the kids have reached peak boredom. Apparently the power going off was the most exciting thing to happen to them in days. They were like, "Oooh... are you sure there's no zombies?" The upshot of this is that they leave us to our old people's movies and allow us to enjoy.

So I came within a movie of finishing this shawl.

It's an Oaklet shawl-- you can find it on Ravelry, and it's a pretty plain pattern down to the last border. In this case, I was (am!) sort of triumphant.

See, the original shawl is supposed to take up about 400 yards of sock-weight yarn, and I had 650 from an extra large skein. The pattern says you can increase the number of rows by multiples of eight, so I knitted sixteen extra rows, thinking I could capitalize on that extra 250 yards. And then I deliberated... eight more rows, or start the 21 row end game? Because the shawl increases from the top down, every row increases by four stitches--by the end, you're knitting a SUPER long row of nearly 350 stitches, so that last 250 yards was not going to last like I thought.

And sure enough, I quit then and started the endgame, and it might come down to the wire. (Yes, I know, knitters problems-- absolutely riveting!)  So tomorrow I'll probably show it blocking, and however much yarn I have left (not gonna be a lot) but today I've got a detail of the beginning lace work, and of course, the pretty pretty yarn.

Not sure what I"m going to do with this one. I give away most of my knitting, and I had a plan to knit all of my cousins something--I was going to do six wildly different shawls, and this would be part of that collection. I could give it to my son's girlfriend--she does love these colors but I started something different and a little sturdier for her. I could give it to my mom or stepmom--but it just doesn't seem like their thing.

A part of me wants to keep it, of course. The yarn is... to say it's soft is to say kittens are adorable. And the colors make me swoon.

But we'll see. My grandmother used to knit and crochet random things, and I just connected with my cousins again this year and I thought the box of shawls would be a super neat thing I could do to remind them they have cousins on the far side of the country.

I mean, I have three more shawls to finish (I have literally four started shawls in my UFO pile right now, and one I owe a friend from her birthday last year.) By the time I finish the whole box of shawls, I may just be in a place where I've seen it enough, peeking out of the box, and pet it wistfully, that I can part with it.

Maybe not ;-)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Walk in the Park

So, I've checked the requirements of "lock down" or "shelter in place" or "quarantine" extensively. Every city--including Sacramento--has a clause that says it's okay to go outside and exercise.

It's funny--those of you who have met me--a large, squishy woman who doesn't walk very fast and looks like she eats Oreos for breakfast and double cheeseburgers for lunch (in my youth, but, seriously, not for quite some time) is probably the last candidate anyone would have for needing that walk in the park.

And I didn't realize how much I needed it until I drove the dogs to the park--Mate next to me, because he's used to working out three days a week and his muscles get sore too--and the gate was closed.


"Well, yeah," he said. "I've been anticipating this." (Married people will know the special kind of exasperation that comes with statements like these.)

"Playground equipment," I said numbly. "Like petri dishes." But inside, I'm hitting the wall.

The "It's okay, it's okay, everything is fine," wall.

Everything is not fine. I haven't been able to buy toilet paper for a week (and lucky me, I generally have plenty because it's a tick of mine--one that's not likely to get better) and my daughter's birthday is probably going to be us, ordering pizza (maybe!) and singing Happy Birthday to her with her grandparents on Skype.

My eyes burned, and I actively had to pull my shit together. This, in the grand scheme of things, is no big deal.

We stop by the grocery store to see if they have toilet paper (that's a negatory on toilet paper--negative on the TP) and while we're there, I take the dogs out to see if they want to take their crap on the tiny spot of lawn down at the end of the parking lot. (They did not. In fact, I think it hurt their perception of my sanity.)

That's when Mate and I see--hello!-- Squish's soccer coach, Coach Dave. Coach Dave is an officer in our local police force--head of S.W.A.T.--and he was parked two spots away, doing his paperwork. We chatted, and I told him about the park and he was frustrated too.

"What? Are people like going around licking park benches or something?  Because those people deserve what they get!"

We laughed and I said something about little kids and playgrounds and he grimaced. I said, "Yeah, I bet you've been seeing plenty of people who've had enough of each other, right?"

Oh yeah. That was the biggest item on his roster.

And then he offered to drive through our neighborhood if we were ever feeling unsafe, because he knew it was scary out there.

And I don't think we'll ever take him up on it, but I am reminded that it's not all bad. No, the grocery story did NOT have TP--I am  told it will be there Saturday and everybody gets ONLY ONE PACKAGE-- but as we drove home along a different route we came to... wait for it...

A walking park. This one didn't have a parking lot--it's used a lot by residents in the nearby houses, and you can park on the street, and, well, walk through.

Perfect place to walk your dogs. And even if you pass somebody on the path, it's easy to maintain a six to ten foot distance.

We took the kids today because we don't want them to become solids and I was remembering something I'd heard about Amish children, about how they didn't need super special things--for them, a walk with their family was a nice treat.  Yes, there was a lot of the "silkworm dance"--as i the kids go, "OH MY GOD IT'S A SILKWORM GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GET IT OFF!" complete with shimmying and batting at their hair and threatening to strip off all their clothing in the chilly morning, but the dogs got walked and the people stretched their legs and we passed one person--ONE PERSON-- total on the mile long walk.  We saw others in the distance--but hey, it was a lot better than taking them walking in our own neighborhood, where people have more guns than goddamned common sense.

And Mom got her small sliver of normal. The thing that helped her make lunch and then dinner and wash dishes and now, stay up to write to deadline, because life goes on.

Mate and I plan to go tomorrow.

I'm good with that.

A walk in the park--sometimes dealing with life really is that easy.

(For those interested, this is a section of the local press release telling us that yes, we can go outside. Honestly? I'm going to refer to it often.)

The order allows people to leave their house to go for walks, exercise, and do go to open businesses, including grocery stores, banks, laundromats, hardware stores, health care facilities, pharmacies, pet food stores, and a few other businesses that are essential to basic household functioning.
In public, though, the order is for people to remain six feet apart. Grocery stores have been given the OK to limit the number of people in the store at one time to assure that people in the store can remain six feet apart, including in the checkout line.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day was my grandmother's birthday, and although she was  100% off the boat Italian, she used to say she was meant to be Irish. She had a collection of hats so big it was published in the local paper, and you'd better believe some of them were green.

She also dyed her hair as red as I dye mine, well into her eighties.

She was quite a woman. She ran her own business, she stood up to her moody alcoholic husband (whom I loved--but I didn't get to see his darker sides, mostly) and she was a bonafide hottie, who was modeling to get through school when she was recruited by the OSS.

No lie.

So although I'm not a fan of drinking, St. Patrick's Day holds a special place in my heart.

This year, it was more of a travel day--Chicken and I were supposed to be flying to Nashville to participate in BookLover's Con, but Covid-19 had other plans, and we accepted that. Today, we had to go grocery shopping (reports of no toilet paper are, eerily enough, absolutely true. Yikes, people--how much were you planning to crap in the next month?) and generally clean house.

And I made corned beef and cabbage with fried potatoes (because boiled potatoes are boring, unless they're mashed with sour cream) and invited my children over for dinner.

Chicken's roommate couldn't make it, but my older son's girlfriend could, and we watched Disney movies and generally had a pleasant night together--a gathering of seven if you will.

I think it was something we needed to remember. Social distancing is important--and so is being careful. For a while, our next movie gatherings may be on Netflix Party. But for tonight we were together and happy, and I'm going to maintain this was important. being together and happy produces endorphins, right? That boosts our immunity, right? Same reason masturbation's good for us, right?

And mostly, it reminds us that when we come out of our social distancing caves, there are people who love us, and a reason to get back together.

Stay healthy and safe--and happy St. Patrick's Day everybody.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Cat is Infected by Satan

Yeah, so times are scary right now. We all know it. We're trying to hold on to our sense of humor and keep the kids from freaking out and losing their shit--and trying to remember that quarantine and  social distancing are temporary, and that--eventually--this will all be not so scary.

In the meantime, we are all--truly--okay.

None of us are showing any symptoms, and in spite of the fact that some of ZoomBoy's favorite activities have been postponed or canceled (the choir's trip to Disneyland hurt--I'm not gonna lie. We may not even get out downpayment back) they are mostly bearing up with good spirits.

This weekend was particularly strange. It was raining outside, and, well, we don't really do much on the weekends sometimes anyway. So, it was a rainy day weekend, and I'd gone shopping Thursday (before much of the madness) and we had lots of snacks and things people liked to eat and generally what was to worry about? I mean sure--the older kids had to snag some toilet paper rolls on their way out because they hadn't gotten to the store on Friday and now Safeway was out, but otherwise? Well, they ate every cookie in the house and two bags of potato chips but left most of the flavored coffee creamer so we'll call it good.

So I think that unless anything truly exciting (and frightening) happens, I'm going to keep the blog going with that certain humor we reserve to keep us from strangling the people we love the most while locked in a very small space with them.  I had to pull that sense of humor out today when, after we returned from our solitary walk in the rain with the dogs (the dogs were grateful to crap, but otherwise feeling very much affronted) Mate turned on the TV just as I got set to wash the dishes.

"I really really want to watch Frozen 2."  Our kids are too big to get excited about sequels--and they're old enough to read reviews and the reviews sucked. But Mate and I were sort of excited about this one, so, even though I'd planned to try to be productive...

You know, it wasn't bad.

I'd gotten up to go wash dishes afterwards, and while I was there...

He'd started Brave. 

Which is a favorite.

I sat down to watch it with him--we have sort of a rule that if we're watching something the other one loves, we don't mind if they stop household chores, so there's no nagging and no blame--and he... got up and washed dishes for me.

Which I can't really complain about. And I'm grateful for. But since I'd tried twice to do it, I'm going to argue it was dirty pool.

So that's it. ZoomBoy needs to make up his homework. Squish asked for art supplies. I confess, I may be staying up later and later and later just to find time alone to work. Walking the dogs is going to become a family exercise so that our arteries might not harden in the next two months. And we all recognize that the cat has been infected with Satan and we may have to avoid him as he bounces off the walls, the other cats, and our heads.

But I'm pretty sure we're not going to eat him, and I'm super sure we have enough supplies for the next week so we don't have to eat the children either.

All in all, we're doing okay.

And I'm hoping you all are doing the same.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Fitz and the Tantrums

So-- very quick post tonight, just so you all know I'm alive.

Mate and I bought the tickets months ago--Fitz and the Tantrums--we'd seen them once in a festival, and fell in love. Not just the awesome melodies, but their stage persona is just stunning. (I've got a youtube video here, but it doesn't capture half of the band's charisma--Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Skaggs are incendiary!)

Anyway-- they were playing at Ace of Spades, which is a Sacramento institution, and we enjoyed every minute.

Two things about the performance--

One, Mate and I were standing very close, but the music was very loud, and I have to admit--  Fitz was doing it for me. Oh my God--rock stars are my candy, and he was SWEET to watch. So I leaned over and whispered in Mate's ear, "You know my laminated card with five names?"

"What?" he shouted.

"You know my laminated card with five guys I can have sex with?" I shouted back--just as the music died and they prepared for the next song. It wasn't loud enough for the whole place to hear me--but the people in our immediate circle all turned their heads.

"Yeah!" Mate shouted back, oblivious. "I know. He's on it."

I nodded and the next song started and now many strangers know I'm a total ho bag for a rock star. But Mate forgives me, so whatever.

And the second thing--at the end of the show, which blew everybody's mind, Fitz said, "Remember to treat each other with love, respect, humility and kindness. It's the only way to get through this world."

And I loved the music and I loved the band, but that just cemented the deal for me. I've heard a lot of people talk about kindness and then turn around and act like dicks--but this guy, in his art, in his music, in the way he talked about his band and the band they were touring with, was a class act--and so was Noelle, who was the soul of that band if Fitz was the heart.

So we may end up closing down the entire city for a while--the Kings game was cancelled as people were sitting down in the arena tonight. But I got to see that concert and it reminded me that there's still a lot of good in the world.

We could all use more of that.

Monday, March 9, 2020

When the Universe Uses a Cudgel

So, tonight I finished my Long Con book--I'm a week behind deadline, but only a week, and it's 82K and it was like writing a ballet set to techno pop and I love it.

*whew* Anyway-- I'm submitting that, and I'm so excited, but it's not the only thing going on today, and the other thing was sort of grim.

Given that Mate and I tend to deal with grim and sad things with a super dark sense of humor, I'm going to tell this to you all in the hopes that--because you know me--you won't be offended by the end.

As you know, Mate's father wasn't doing well. Last night he passed, but it wasn't a surprise, and, while sad, Mate's grief is mostly internal. Last night--before we got the news, we went to see Onward, which is about two brothers working to say goodbye to their father, because they get one day as a gift from magic, in order to do so. It was a beautiful movie, and Mate and I sobbed through the last third of it.

Today, when Mate got home from taking ZB to a King's Game (a thing I sort of arranged because I think he needed ONE of his children to want to go with him) we sat down to watch television.

We watched Zoe's Extraordinary Playlist, which dealt with two fathers--one who had passed and another who has a deteriorating disease.

And we watched The Rookie, which dealt with an absent father who passed away, leaving a character to deal with an alienated half-brother.

We got to the middle of The Rookie, and Mate said, "Is it just me or..."

"Oh my God, honey, did you know your father passed away last night? Because I think the fucking universe is trying to tell you something!"

And I can't even explain to you why the two of us just dissolved into laughter. But we lost our fucking minds. If anybody is communing with the universe, tell it that we got the message, but next time its free to text us as well.

Thursday, March 5, 2020


A good friend of mine posted on Twitter that "If you're not with us, you're against us!" is the siren call of fascism. I was interested--in case you haven't guessed by all the Crucible posts, I've been witnessing a situation in which the LAI (Loudest Assholes on the Internet) have gained control of an organization I used to love. Watching their rise, the way they've twisted what I know to be true, and their current regime--and it is a regime, make no mistake--has chilled my blood and broken my heart.
If you haven't read the full text of The Crucible--do so.

If you haven't read up on McCarthyism--do so.

If you're a movie person, The Crucible is out in two passable (but not excellent) films, but there's also Good Night and Good Luck, and Trumbo, both of which I've seen and if you haven't, you need to.

The insidious thing about McCarthyism and witch hunts is that the loudest people want the power--"If you're not with us, you're against us!" as a rallying cry gets people with them damned quick. But they pick a cause that everybody is sort of onboard with. For this example, we'll use witches, because witches--at least the way they were represented in Puritan society--were bad! Not misunderstood romantic heroines but terrible creatures with multiple nipples who liked to eat dead babies. When the loudest, most shameless people in your community scream, "KILL THE WITCHES!" you're like, "Oh, okay--my bad. I didn't know they were a problem, but definitely--they're evil, I'm on board!"

You don't realize you're being manipulated. You think you're being a standup citizen. You have good intentions. And then, by the time you realize that the people screaming don't give a FUCK about witches--they're calling out witches so they can have someone's property, or get out of being caught for something bad they've done, or get revenge because those so called "witches" are living their best life--you are LOST. Because by then, EVERYBODY is screaming "WITCH! WITCH!" And the loudest manipulators--they're afraid of getting caught. One word, one whisper, one sideways look, from you indicating you know what's up--they went dancing naked in the woods and they don't want to get whipped, or they want their neighbor's property or their neighbor's husband or their neighbor's sheep--and they're going to call you out, and you are fucked. Not just because there's a trial, but because you lose everything. One wrong scream and there goes your reputation, your family, your property--and that's if you're found innocent.

And nobody is found innocent in a witch hunt.


I've talked about dichotomous thinking--and this is it. I've posted some posters here featuring propaganda from the Red Scare--and one satirizing the Red Scare in the wake of 9/11--and make no mistake. These posters, these misrepresentations of the truth, this is where that kind of thinking leads.

So, what do you do with all of this?

Remember--if anyone says to you, "If you're not with us, you're against us!" they are not your friend--they are your bully.

If "You're not with us, you're against us!" escalates, sometimes standing up to the bullies will only get you beaten. Lay low, get the fuck out of Salem, and if you've got an emotional attachment to the place, maybe come back eventually and try to pick up the pieces. The bullies certainly won't.

If someone asks "Where do your sympathies lie? Are you friends with so and so, a known witch? Are you still? Could you tell us how witchy they got? All the details. If you're not truthful, we'll know YOU are a witch too," this person is not your friend, and this organization is not something you want to belong to. Again, now is the time to leave Salem--it's not a friendly sort of place.

If someone says, "Well, we're not fascists, but we want to eradicate all witchcraft and all witchy thoughts from the world," well, A. That's the definition of fascism, and B. It's impossible. Telling people they will be beaten for sympathizing with witches will only breed fear. Fear breeds hypocrisy. Hypocrisy breeds revenge. Seriously--get the FUCK out of Salem, because the torches and pitchforks are coming for you next. Also, I understand there's beer in the next town, and Salem has never been fond of beer.

Remember-- and it can't be said enough,


If you find yourself waving a torch and a pitchfork and doing something heinous to someone who was once your friend, good luck forgiving yourself in the next five years-- you have officially sold your soul. 

And that's it. That's my rant on fascism, McCarthyism, and witch hunts in general. 

In completely unrelated news, I've resigned from the RWA. 

Make of that what you will. 

Meow Meow Meow...

So, I came into my writing desk last night at around eleven and Dewey was sprawled on a pillow by my feet, and we had the following conversation.

"Meow," I said, scratching his great carpet-like floor.

"Hello, human," he said. "Are you enjoying your evening? I am enjoying my evening. Ah, that is nice. Scratch my belly some more--mmm... ahhhh.... why thank you. Yes, yes I do enjoy my food, why do you ask? Oh!" He flips over to his front and stretches. "Speaking of which, do you see my bowl? Yes, yes, follow me. Yes. See my bowl? See? Isn't it beautiful? But, alas, empty-- ah. You do understand me, human. Thank you. Nom nom nom..."

And after that was over with, I went back to work, and back to bed around two. Now, when I go to bed, I play a few minutes of phone game to disengage my brain from words. (I know that sounds weird, but I will loop a story I'm reading or a story I'm writing all night as I try to sleep if I don't sever the connection. Boring math based games--every time.) So there I was, playing Merge Dragons, when I hear a familiar jingle-jingle-purr... and here comes Nebula. 

"Hello, buddy," I say, trying to pet him with one hand.

"Purr-purr-purr--that thing! That thing in your hand! I don't like that thing! Pet me! Both hands! What is it? What is that thing? Let me chew that thing! Purr-purr-purr--and pets! Pet me! Both hands! What is that thing? I don't like it? Wait I like it! I like it to chew! To rub my whiskers! Now put it down and pet me! I love you! I love you! I'm rubbing your face because I love you! I love you more! And more! Now love me back! Oh yes! I love you so much! I love you so much I must curl up between the two lumps under the blankets and purr. OH, look, they wiggle. Hello wiggling lump. Do I know you? Never mind. I shall knead the blanket  write on that wiggling lump! Oh, hello! I love you wiggling lump! Good night!"

"Night Nebula," I mumble.

"Night strange cat that walked on my face and my ass and poked me in the rump," says Geoffie. She is very confused.

And I roll over, eventually, and my hand finds something warm and furry. I scratch it and it purrs and I think, "Ah, this is my night to be loved by--"

Steve scratches me. "Bitch, keep petting."

I do as she asked. "Sorry, Steve."

"I got my fat ass up here and you're going to just sleep? I don't care if it's five a.m.--pet me, dammit, pet me!"

"Wish, command, you know..." I mumble. 

Eventually I fall asleep, hand still buried in her ruff, and I guess she let me live.

The next morning, Mate kisses me goodbye. "Did you get a good night's sleep?" he asks. "Did you get lots of work done?"

It's ungodly early. "There were cats," I tell him, squinting.

"Cats? Well, they're all in the front room now. You can sleep."

And at that moment, as the kids are getting ready to go, the dogs wake up and start barking because they hear the mailman. 

"Sure," I tell him. "Get right on that."

And that, people, is why I nap.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Kermit Flail--MARCH into Spring!


Okay-- SO much about March I like!

BLC is in March, and Chicken and I leave in two weeks to go play with readers in Nashville! ZoomBoy's play is in March, and we get to see that the weekend before we leave!  Shades of Henry is out at the END of March, and you guys--omg you GUYS--I have been DYING to show Henry off, because that cover... *kisses fingertips*  And I think you're going to love Henry. I mean... I think you're going to REALLY love Henry--and the fun part is, it doesn't matter if you've read any of the previous books he's appeared in, because Henry has his own story, and he tells it in his own way. 

So yes--March has some REALLY AWESOME and FANTABULOUS things happening--and March also has some STUNNING books by some regular visitors to the Kermit Flail, and some amazing friends of yours truly.

Please welcome the oft touted E.J. Russell. E.J. is known for her award winning paranormal romance--I once called her the Mary Janice Davison of gay PNR. This book looks a little darker but no less fun-- early Hollywood noir, and just as juicy and just as stylish as your favorite movies. Silent Sin looks like a must read--and a happy introduction to summer!

Parker Williams Family Matters is a contemporary, with a little bit of Parker's trademark kink, and a lot of his warm found family goodness. Parker has a quirky sense of humor and a kind soul and his books give us those things in spades. A great addition to your gooey goodness library, which is something everybody needs.

And I had the good fortune to be with Ms. Kate McMurray when she got the cover art for Here Comes the Flood-- and I gotta tell you, my first reaction was WOOF! Damn--that cover is stunning, and Kate's instinct for what makes fantastic sports storytelling is obviously here en force! This looks muscular and graceful and hot and... *fans self* Where's a pool where you need one?

And, of course, at the end of the month, there's Henry. You guys, I hope you enjoy Henry-- he was a man of unexpected depth, and Lance? He's just the guy to see what the rest of the world might have missed. 

So there you go--SO much to look forward to in March--by all means, enjoy!

Silent Sin

A novel of early Hollywood

by E.J. Russell

When tailor Marvin Gottschalk abandoned New York City for the brash boomtown of silent-film-era Hollywood, he never imagined he’d end up on screen as Martin Brentwood, one of the fledgling film industry’s most popular actors. Five years later a cynical Martin despairs of finding anything genuine in a town where truth is defined by studio politics and publicity. Then he meets Robbie Goodman.

Robbie fled Idaho after a run-in with the law. A chance encounter leads him to the film studio where he lands a job as a chauffeur. But one look at Martin and he’s convinced he’s likely to run afoul of those same laws—laws that brand his desires indecent, deviant… sinful.

Martin and Robbie embark on a cautious relationship, cocooned in Hollywood’s clandestine gay fraternity, careful to hide from the studio boss, a rival actor, and reporters on the lookout for a juicy story. But when tragedy and scandal rock the town, igniting a morality-based witch hunt fueled by a remorseless press, the studio brass will sacrifice even the greatest careers to defend their endangered empire. Robbie and Martin stand no chance against the firestorm—unless they stand together.

Buy Here

(Note: Silent Sin is available for wide pre-order and will remain wide until March 10, when it will be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.)

Family Matters

by Parker Williams

Patrick Lane escaped his alcoholic parents when he made it to college. But when they ditched his siblings under the pretense of returning in a few hours, Patrick made a solemn vow that he would raise Joey and Jenna as his own, ensuring they would never doubt they were loved. And it’s a promise he’s done his best to keep, no matter how hard it’s been.

Seth Clarke owns his own business, has a nice house, and parents and a brother who love him. But he isn’t satisfied and never has been. The men he’s been with complain he’s a perfectionist, and Seth knows it’s true. When he meets Patrick, he’s intrigued. Just when it seems something wonderful is getting off the ground between them, Seth meets Joey and Jenna, and he panics. He hates messes, and kids are the worst.

It takes two very strong women to open Seth’s eyes to the truths he’s been doing his best to forget. Now Seth has a choice. He can walk away from Patrick, leaving his heart behind, or he can step up and discover that family matters more than anything.

Contains light BDSM elements.

Here Comes the Flood

by Kate McMurray

Two years ago, swimmer Isaac Flood hit rock bottom. His alcoholism caught up with him, landing him in jail with a DUI. After facing his demons in rehab, he’s ready to get back in the pool. He stuns everyone at the US Olympic Trials, and now he’s back at his fourth Olympics with something to prove.

Diver Tim Swan made headlines for snatching a surprise gold medal four years ago, and then making a viral coming-out video with his actor boyfriend, the subject of splashy tabloid headlines. Now his relationship is over and Tim just wants to focus on winning gold again, but reporters in Madrid threaten to overshadow Tim’s skill on the platform.

When Isaac and Tim meet, they recognize each other as kindred spirits—they are both dodging media pressure while devoting their lives to the sports they love. As they get to know each other—and try to one-up each other with their respective medal counts—they realize they’re becoming more than friends. But will the relationship burn bright for just sixteen days, or can it last past the Closing Ceremony?

Shades of Henry

by Amy Lane

A Flophouse Story

One bootstrap act of integrity cost Henry Worrall everything—military career, family, and the secret boyfriend who kept Henry trapped for eleven years. Desperate, Henry shows up on his brother’s doorstep and is offered a place to live and a job as a handyman in a flophouse for young porn stars.

Lance Luna’s past gave him reasons for being in porn, but as he continues his residency at a local hospital, they now feel more like excuses. He’s got the money to move out of the flophouse and live his own life—but who needs privacy when you’re taking care of a bunch of young men who think working penises make them adults?

Lance worries Henry won’t fit in, but Henry’s got a soft spot for lost young men and a way of helping them. Just as Lance and Henry find a rhythm as den mothers, a murder and the ghosts of Henry’s abusive past intrude. Lance knows Henry’s not capable of murder, but is he capable of caring for Lance’s heart?