Monday, August 14, 2017

Five Lessons Trains Taught Me About Writing

1) I Think I Can, I Think I Can


We always need to believe in ourselves. If we think we can, we just might be able to accomplish what seems impossible; and if we're convinced we can't, we are 100% guaranteed to  fulfill our prediction of failure.


2) Refueling on a Long Journey Is Always Necessary

Writing long-term, is a marathon, not a sprint. Amtrak, not Metro. Modern trains need diesel refueling; steam trains need coal and water.
via Wikimedia Commons
We need to read books, watch movies and trashy reality shows, hang out with friends, spend some quality time with our family, lovers, and vibrators. Whatever fills us up and makes us feel ready to steam on, we need to reserve space and time to do that.



3) The Journey Can Be a Dirty, Messy, Exhausting Process


In every generation, there are are whiners; people who are outraged that, considering how marvelous they are, they must reduce themselves to XYZ indignity to put food on the table or to earn success as a writer.

In 19th century America, some complained about how wearying a train journey was; the enervating effects of hours on a train, the coal dust upon one's clothing, the inferior food en route. Of course, trains were still easier than walking, taking a sea journey, or a covered wagon. Better yet, there was always staying at home.



Strasburg RR, via Wikimedia Commons
See that dark smoke drifting back? Yep, it'll get on you.
To embark on a transcontinental voyage, by whatever means, we had to want it. If we did, we accepted the reality that more than likely, bad shit was gonna happen along the way.

Suck it up, Buttercup. Every writer has always had to make sacrifices and/or accommodations to suit the needs of his or her era. In the current market, success as a writer requires Social Media and a lot of hard work, rejection and criticism.

Don't like it? Don't board the train, then.


4) Always Have Another Engine Ready To Go in the Roundhouse


If one train gets stuck, is that it? Are we going to just roll over and abandon the dream?

Oh, hell no! We're going to rev up another engine and get it out there.

Roundhouse
via Cliff1066 via Flickr Creative Commons 
We should always have more than one project, at the very least in an embryonic stage, in our heads. Because aren't we thinking of new ideas all the time? Write 'em on a steno pad; dictate them to a voice recorder, take e-notes via Evernote or some other gadget, but we need to capture many, many ideas, and develop them as time allows.


5) You Always Need A Cowcatcher


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Adventures with Formatting #kickingcancersass

Book Pregnant is the very clever term coined by a group of bloggers, to indicate that stage where an author is almost ready to launch their work into the world.

Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n Roll, and a Tiara is pressing on my bladder, kicking me in the kidney... Really, I SO feel ready to pop this baby out.

Except, some problems came up with formatting for my pictures. And my captions. And the oh-so-clever links to Spotify I inserted at the top of each chapter.

I have a formatting genius helping me with these issues, but in the meantime, in honor of it being two years ago this week that I started the radiation part of my cancer journey, here's an excerpt from the chapter titled:

Joe Manganiello Needs to Stop Following Me.


It's a fine thing when you go to meet your radiation oncologist, and everywhere you turn, Joe Manganiello is giving you that "Hey Baby!" look.
Sadly, Joe wasn't there in person. Just his impressive biceps and artfully scruffy face, all flirty from the cover of WebMD. There had to be at least two dozen copies strewn about the large, comfortable waiting room.



It felt like his eyes were following and undressing me.
Do you want to see my boobs, too, Joe? Why not? Everyone else has...

...I was eager to get the radiation started, get it over with. That wasn't going to happen.
The next step was coming in, a week later, to do a radiation simulation with the radiology techs. Basically a dry run to troubleshoot any problems and make sure once the actual zapping began, that it would be quick and easy.  I lay down on the long table thingie that would slide in and out of the hole in the big round tube. Yeah, not so vaguely sexual.
The machine was called TomoTherapy... 


Peter, the tech, used a CT scan to get me into the correct position, then used a device that blew Styrofoam into a mold that would hold my back at the precise angle so that Tommy could zap Laverne and only Laverne. Then he turned on laser guide lights, got out a tattoo gun, and made three markings on my chest, below my boobage, right, left, and center, for future lineups. I was hoping for butterflies or something fun, but all I got were three tiny black dots.

This is one of my radiation tats.

There was a hand-grip thing above my head. Peter had me grip it with both hands, then frowned. "That's not going to work." It brought Laverne into the correct position, which was good but also brought Shirley into the line of fire. So he had me turn my left arm down to my side. That almost worked.
Peter frowned again. "We're going to have to tape your left breast down to get it out of the way. Is that okay with you?" After all I had gone through so far, was I going to quibble about a little medical tape? Of course not.
I also had to turn my head a certain way with a roll of surgical tape tucked under my chin. So, one hand above my head, the other at my side, my head turned... Glad Joe M wasn't watching this part; it wasn't a particularly sexy pose. It was like I was playing a solo game of Radiation Twister.
There's more, but I'm hoping you'll read the whole thing. Also, there's music. Below is the mini-playlist for this chapter, which you can click and play right here, if you like.  (I'm all about consent.)

Fight The Good Fight is the song I assigned to my journey as a whole, and as a ringtone, to all my doctors.  Buster Voodoo - well, a lot of cancer treatment reminds me of voodoo magic. I don't have to explain Radiation Vibe, do I?


.

If you want to add Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n Roll, and a Tiara to your Goodreads TBR list, that would be very cool. If you'd like a review copy, and we haven't already discussed this, leave a comment below (make sure your profile links to something so I can track you down!), because that would be even MORE awesome. Better even than Radiation Twister.

Thanks! Stay sexy, and healthy!


Monday, July 10, 2017

Kevin Patterson on the Hot Seat #POC&Polyamory

I'm newish to polyamory, and always feel honored and blessed to learn from the experts. I met Kevin and Antoinette Patterson online a few years ago, then in person at CatalystCon 2016. What I've seen of his relationship style and efforts to build community is mindful, kind, and always ethical to all parties involved. I guested on his PolyRoleModels blog in 2016 and am delighted he let me turn the tables on him, and ask MY questions, for this post.


1) In the polyamory communities, there's often some interesting discourse on "what polyamory means to you, or "how to do polyamory RIGHT." How would YOU define "doing polyamory right," and what do you consider "doing it wrong?"

I'm not really a stickler for high and tight rules about what is or isn't polyamory. I bristle at the polysnobbery that shows up in a lot of communities. As far as I'm concerned, it breaks down as the capacity for multiple romantic and pr sexual relationships with everyone aware and willing. Even still though, I feel like any definition or label under the ethical nonmonogamy umbrella should be the start of a nuanced conversation when put into practice.


2) What was your journey to polyamory like? Was it an epiphany, did you always know you were polyamorous, was it a journey? Any notable polyam screwups?

I definitely didn't always know I was polyamorous. I just lucked my way into a threesome that stuck. Because I accidentally stumbled into nonmonogamy, I didn't think it was a real thing that a regular guy, like me, could actually do. Once I found myself in the middle of a nonmonogamous relationship, I didn't want to lose what I thought was my only shot. So, I did a bunch of study and research as I went along. I read all the books. It wasn't until I found communities that I could model myself after did I really hit my stride.

My notable screwups are actually scattered throughout the Cautionary Poly posts on my blog. Mostly under aliases. I don't like talking about them. Some are pretty embarrassing.


3) WHY is publicly promoting and discussing polyamory important to you? Not that it's not an important cause, because it is, but there are LOTS of important causes, from ending childhood poverty to stopping the destruction of the rainforests, on and on and on. Why do you think THIS cause grabbed you as a primary focus?

I'm really into customizing my life. I don't do it obsessively, but I am obsessed with at least having the option to cast off convention and live life on my own terms. Polyamory was a major addition to that. The ability to negotiate and advocate for the relationship you want is something that everyone can benefit regardless of love style. It's a mindset that can extend into every aspect of your life.


4) Polyamory and parenting. Some people ask "What about the children?" Yet it seems that children often thrive - or suffer - in traditional two-parent homes, in single parent homes, raised by grandparents or other relatives, in stepfamilies... How is a polyamorous extended family beneficial for children - and what are the downsides that you've seen?

Rolling off what I said in the last question, a benefit is that my kids already know their parents aren't conventional. They're only 6 and 4 but they understand that doing things different isn't always a bad thing because they love their lives surrounded by responsible adults who care about them. I couldn't tell you what the downsides are. I'm sure they exist but I'm lucky to have never really encountered any.


5) Stating the obvious, you are a black American man. America has had cycles where it has been less openly racist toward black men, but there's never been a time where things were GOOD for people of color, especially black men. How do you deal with dating interracially in this environment? Do you just shut out the world, and its prejudices, making everything about you & your partner, or do you integrate the racial climate, almost like a third partner who's always in the room? Have things changed for you and your loved ones in the last 10-15 years, and how? Are there adjustments you are making?

The major shift for me is in the vetting process. I vet white potential partners a lot harder than the women of color I show an interest in. There is nothing that hurts quite like finding out someone you're into isn't 100% checked in on your humanity or civil rights. Intersectional feminism is a hardline dating requirement for me. We need to be able to have real talk about privilege, entitlement, and systemic oppression. I refuse to have any doubt when it comes to someone I'm seeking to spend personal time with. In return, i'll offer up the same level of vetting in regards to my privileged gender, sexuality, education level, etc.


6) Things aren't always black-or-white. There can be racial tensions between people who all identify as POC: Asian, Hispanic, Native peoples, black people, multiracial people, POC who pass as white. And then there are people who are disabled, LGBTQ, nonbinary gender, out about their mental health challenges... One thing that makes me cringe is when "those people" are immediately pounced on by community leaders to "help us bring in more XYZ people." Like, maybe they are sick and tired of always being designated as the lone ambassadors of "their kind." At the same time, if we (CisWhiteHet able-bodied) don't figure it out, our "other" friends will stop attending events, because nobody wants to feel like the only pink monkey in a cage full of brown monkeys. Beside listening hard, what kinds of things can a community that is primarily white, heteronormative, cisgender and able-bodied, do to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment? Also, how do we deal with people in our communities who are "woke" in some ways, dead asleep in others?

I always advocate bringing those people into the conversation. Making them an equal participant in the event or group planning. Up to and including replacing or expanding the leadership structure to make it as inclusive as the audience you seek. As far as people who understand systemic oppression in some way but not in others, all I can do is try to connect those points.

That's how I was eventually able to understand feminism. I heard a man dismissing a woman's experience with misogyny and rape culture and his tone sounded so similar to how white people have dismissed my experiences with racism. Not only did the analogous behavior click in my head, but I immediately understood that I had done the same to women. After that, I had to ask myself some really tough questions and then proactively rewrite my own narrative.


7) Gray areas, and forgiveness/rehabilitative justice. Sometimes people say stupid shit - racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever. *points at self* Some of my friends practice zero tolerance - once you say or do a stupid thing, the offender is dead to them, forever. And I get it, traumatized people usually don't have the spoons to give others more opportunities to traumatize them. Others, perhaps, give too many second/third/fortieth chances. But there are different dynamics in a community, rather than a personal relationship. Where in your opinion is a reasonable line for a community, between, "On the path to better awareness," and "dead-set on finding new ways to be an asshole"?

I'm all about effort. If somebody fucks up and then puts in effort to make it right, I'll give them the room to do so...while still being very wary of their presence in any spaces I inhabit. If they don't put in that effort, they aren't welcome and I'm typically pretty clear about saying so.

That's just how I am. I'm very vocal about the need for multiple approaches though. There are people who I think others are too soft on and others that I think people are too hard on. But that's my perspective and I’m not arrogant enough to think it's perfect. I welcome the proverbial good cop and bad cop when it comes to these debates and I often alternate which role I play.


8) You're working on a book - any idea when the launch date will be? What specific topics make YOUR book on polyamory different from the works already out there? And while we're waiting for the the launch of the book, where can we catch you in person giving workshops and roundtables?

My book should be available in Spring 2018, but I'll be loud and proud about any changes made between now and then. In it, I cover the same topics that I do in person. Barriers for entry that people of color face when entering polyamorous spaces and real world steps we can all take to be more welcoming and inclusive. It's gonna hurt some feelings, but that's a good thing. You can't reach for change while sitting comfortably.

In the meantime, I'll be appearing as a guest host on the Polyamory Weekly podcast. I'm presenting in person at Poly Dallas Millenium (July 13-15), Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit in Alexandria, Va. (August 4-6), and CatalystCon in Los Angeles (September 15-17).


9) I know your efforts are a labor of love, or perhaps, a work of art - but even lovers and artists gotta eat. How can people $upport your work?

I've opened up a Patreon account, linked here. While my Poly Role Models blog will remain a free resource, I wanted to open up an avenue for subscribers to both show some support and possibly fund future projects related to inclusive representation of polyamory.


10) What question have you not yet been asked - and what is your answer?

I don't know what question I haven't been asked, but I do know the question I've been asked too many times. That would be “How many people are you seeing?” I say that I've been asked too many times because I feel like it boxes in my interpretation of who I refer to as a partner. It almost feels like I'm being asked to quantify how many people I care about.

My dating is pretty wide range and my polyamory is pretty fluid depending on who I'm with. A friend today might be a friend with benefits tomorrow then a friend again the day after that. All with no real change in affection or logistics. A sentiment of “I love you” could mean, “I want to spend my life with you” or it could mean “I love who we are to each other during the twice-annual weekends we spend together.”

While I might only refer to one person as a wife or two people as a girlfriend, there are so many people that I love and have huge personal investments with. Women who have supported me or whom I have supported for years. I always feel shitty when asked that question because, without a list in my hand, there's no way I can answer it without leaving out someone I love. And occasionally, that loved one will call me on it. I'd rather just be asked about how my polyamory is “structured” without having to nail down a number.


Kevin Patterson, M.Ed is an active member of the Philadelphia polyamory community and the curator of the interview series blog, Poly Role Models. After stumbling bass ackwards into ethical nonmonogamy, Patterson found himself in a landscape with far more diversity than was being portrayed in mainstream media. He's since made it his mission to promote true stories from the people that make polyamory what it is. Himself included. Kevin is author of the upcoming book, Love's Not Color Blind, which examines the intersection of race and polyamory.

You can find him at PolyRoleModels on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can support his work at Patreon 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Off the Relationship Escalator with Amy Gahran - Giveaway!

You may have noticed I've been giving away some of my favorite books on the blog lately. Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator by Amy Gahran is one that blew me away. It's "meaty," with great stories, research, and resources, but tremendously easy to read. So I'm delighted to have her on the blog for a mini-interview, and to be giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commenter.

But what does the "Relationship Escalator" even mean? From the site:

When most people say “a relationship,” they usually mean something like this:
Relationship Escalator. The default set of societal expectations for intimate relationships. Partners follow a progressive set of steps, each with visible markers, toward a clear goal.
The goal at the top of the Escalator is to achieve a permanently monogamous (sexually and romantically exclusive between two people), cohabitating marriage — legally sanctioned if possible. In many cases, buying a house and having kids is also part of the goal. Partners are expected to remain together at the top of the Escalator until death.
The Escalator is the standard by which most people gauge whether a developing intimate relationship is significant, “serious,” good, healthy, committed or worth pursuing or continuing.

Here are the questions I asked Amy, and her responses:

1) A connection with a sibling, or a best friend might be emotionally closer and longer-lasting than our latest romantic relationship. Yet we're taught that by pop culture that the most important relationship is supposed to be an "Escalator" one; romantic and/or sexual.

Did it surprise you, as you were gathering the research, that so many people voiced how important these kinds of relationships were? If that didn't surprise you, what did? I'm sure there was more than one surprise or unexpected insight as people were sharing their experiences.

The fact that people attach strong significance and commitment to some of their nonromantic and/or nonsexual relationships did not surprise me; I see that every day. What is notable, I thought, was how many people mentioned that stepping off the Escalator gave them motivation and a sense of permission to own how strongly they value their non-Escalator, nonsexual/romantic ties. Several specifically mentioned regretting undervaluing or neglecting those relationships previously, before they began to question the Escalator.

The biggest and best surprise I had from doing this research was hearing from over 100 people who identify as somewhere on the asexual/aromantic spectrum. You wanna think really, really hard about relationships and intimacy? Try taking sex and/or romance out of the picture.

2) Another section I found fascinating is about how romantic relationships don't necessarily end cleanly, or end at all. There can be pauses and resumptions, we can break up as a romantic relationship but stay friends. Many people are doing this and co-parenting quite amicably, for example. Why shouldn't people break up the traditional way, hating each other and trash-talking their former partners to anyone who will listen? What's the benefit to actually staying friends (as opposed to paying it lip service), or even as occasional sexual partners?

I think -- and this is just my guess, based on hearing so many stories and witnessing so many relationships on and off the Escalator -- that the "normal" mode of breakup + completely exiting each others lives, often with bad feelings, stems from a few things:

1. The common belief that positive, ongoing ties with former partners indicates a failure to "let go" and "move on." There's a *lot* of mainstream social pressure to do these things; to "get over" a relationship. People view cutting ties with former partners as a sign of maturity or personal growth. And depending on why the relationship ended, that might be the case -- but not always.

2. A perceived need to clear the way to jump back on the Escalator again ASAP. When people stay unpartnered "too long," their suitability as an Escalator partner often starts to be questioned. They're not dating anyone seriously yet? What's wrong with them?

Also, the loss of social prestige associated with not being part of a couple is really challenging for many people. Plus, often, their ability to function socially and logistically as an individual may have suffered if they'd ridden the Escalator for a long time. Finding a new Escalator relationship can feel like the safer option, in so many ways. And people often run to perceived safety.

3. The competitiveness fostered by how the Escalator works. Any other potential partner is easily cast as a rival or threat. This is especially true with former intimate partners -- people often worry whether good ties with former partners = the potential to "rekindle the flame."

4. The Escalator is designed to be hard to leave. When you've fused your life -- and more importantly, your identity -- with an Escalator partner, then ending that relationship poses the risk of severe logistical and existential disruption. Facing that risk, and the fear associated with it, requires working up a lot of energy to leave. Often the most expedient way to muster the needed "escape velocity" is via negative emotions.


....All that said, whether or not former lovers/partners maintain a genuine, healthy friendship (or other positive "aftership") once their original intimate relationship has ended, depends on the people and circumstances. Sometimes people break up and exit each other's lives for good reasons.

Also, shifting a relationship from, say, a marriage to a platonic friendship, often requires effort and energy. No one is required to expend that energy.

Personally, I think "let's be friends" can be rather oppressive if it's treated as a blanket best outcome. In its own way, that can be as oppressive as saying everyone should ride the Escalator. If it works out, great. But if not, then not.

The good thing is that the awareness and negotiation skills that are needed to step off the Escalator in any way (or even simply to consider that possibility) tends to make people more skilled, compassionate and humane about how they conclude, de-escalate or otherwise change their relationships.

3) Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator is planned as a series of three books, with the next, 10 Common Questions about Unconventional Relationships planned to release later this year. There's already a lot of "meat" in this book - can you give a quick preview of three of those ten questions?

Here's all 10 -- take your pick!

1. Parenting: What About the Children?
2. Commitment: Who can you count on?
3. Difficult Emotions: Don't You Get Jealous?
4. Oh, the Drama! How Can You Stand It?
5. Sex: So You Get Laid All the Time, Right?
6. Slut! (OK, not a question, but people hear that a lot...)
7. Sexual Health: Aren't You Scared You'll Catch a Disease?
8. Working things out: Isn't this just too hard?
9. How do you find people to date?
10. Communication and negotiation: Talk, talk talk....


Amy Gahran is an independent journalist, editor, blogger, author and publisher based in Boulder, Colorado. In 2013 she began a research project into unconventional intimate relationships, culminating in the book "Stepping Off the Relationship Escalator: Uncommon Love and Life," published in 2017. It's the first of at least three books on this subject.

============

Aggie Sez/Amy Gahran
Publisher, Off the Escalator LLC


Find Amy:
OffEscalator.com
Like the Facebook page

Leave a comment below to win a copy of this fabulous book. Entries will close on Friday, June 23. And if you feel like being a sport, sign up for my mailing list (link at top right of page), and I'll let you know when my book is ready to be born.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Inviting Desire with Walker Thornton - Giveaway!

I am so pleased to be hosting sexpert Walker Thornton on my blog this month, and to be giving away a copy of one of my favorite books, Inviting Desire. While aimed at older women, it's really applicable to women of any age who've lost their spark, perhaps after childbirth, perhaps after getting into a rut with a longtime partner, perhaps after a toxic relationship. *raises hand*

And she was kind enough to agree to a mini-interview, because Walker is awesome that way.

1) For some women, our desire has not simply died, it's a memory that's long buried, with the grass grown over it and a nice headstone. Why shouldn't it simply remain there, and we can bring it fresh flowers from time to time? Especially for women who are not currently partnered, what good does it do, to reawaken our desire? 

I think feeling desire is great fun…Don’t you? And, from a sexual health perspective, sexual desire—leading to some form of sexual activity is important in keeping vaginas and pelvic floor muscles toned and healthy. Vaginal stimulation leads to arousal, which brings blood flow to vaginal tissue, which in turn helps cells stay healthy, which can prevent, or lessen, thinning and tearing of vaginal tissue. But, really—why would we want to give up the pleasure that comes from sexual stimulation? Sexual activity stimulates oxytocin, the ‘feel good’ hormone and it’s associated with pain reduction as well.  So I think it’s a good thing. Besides, who says we need a partner to get sexual?


2) Chapter 13 is titled, "What Is An Orgasm?" Doesn't everyone already know this? [Side Note: 13 has always been my lucky number.]

Yes, I think everyone knows what an orgasm is…Not all women have orgasms and therefore don’t really understand more than the basics. So I went a bit farther, talking about pleasure and the pressure women are under to become orgasmic. I want women to suspend judgment and focus on pleasure.


3) Chapter 25 is titled, "It's Not About the Orgasm." Wait, what? Do we want orgasms, or not want orgasms?

 I think too often women feel as if the orgasm is the ONLY product of sex—so they fake it or feel bad when it doesn’t happen. There is so much pleasure in connecting sexually with a partner that can get overlooked if we’re obsessing about our orgasms. I want to offer an alternative to the constant barrage of advice on orgasms—how many, which kind, did you squirt, etc…. Pleasure is much more than just having an orgasm. The goal of this chapter is to encourage women to explore pleasure for its own sake.


4) In the months since this book has been released, what response or question has surprised you the most?

Well, aside from my mother questioning my sexual activity; she assumes I’m not having sex so therefore I’m not qualified to talk about it!

More than a few women have indicated that their husbands would be excited about the book—I didn’t write the book as a guide for how to have better sex and I didn’t write it for partners. We already have enough pressure to be the good partner. I want women to learn to embrace their own sexuality for themselves. I do think that everyone around us benefits when we tap into our own sexuality and learn to ask for what we want.

Walker Thornton is an educator, public speaker and the author of  Inviting Desire, A Guide for Women Who Want to Enhance Their Sex Life.  She is a strong advocate for women’s sexuality, encouraging women to ‘step into their desire.’ Walker is the Sexual Health columnist for Midlife Boulevard and writes about sex and the older adult for Kinkly.com and other sites.

Connect with Walker:
Website:  www.walkerthornton.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WalkerJThornton/ )
Twitter: http://twitter.com/WalkerThornton
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+WalkerThornton/posts


Leave a comment, and you'll be entered in a random drawing to win a copy of Inviting Desire!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Curvy Girl Sex Giveaway!

Photo of April Flores by Nick Holmes
Lots more sexy and juicy photos in the book

So because I am a generous soul, I am GIVING AWAY an autographed copy of my new favorite sex book by sexologist Elle Chase.

This book is AMAZING, and despite the title, you don't have to be a "girl" or curvy to use this book. It works for men, women, and genderfluid people, of ALL shapes and sizes.

It also includes tips for accommodating bad backs, shoulders, gimpy knees... The drawings are wonderful, and the names of the sexytimes positions had me laughing out loud.

Also, I got out a pencil to check off the ones I've tried. Quite a few in the rear view, but with 101 positions, (yes, you sexy beast, that's one-hundred-and-one!) I found many I hadn't. #sexgoals




Curvy Girl Sex delves into anatomy, toys, and many aspects of getting into a sexy mindset. Sometimes we give up on sex, or love, because we think that our [insert bodily imperfection here] means we don't DESERVE sex, or love. No. Lies, damned lies!


We all deserve those things (if we want them). We don't have to give up sex because some parts are extra-large or don't work the way they used to, we just need to know how to accommodate them, and this book shows us how.

^^^ All the this. Being sexy is about being in the moment. Savoring the moment. Instead of worrying that your body doesn't match your porn star fantasy (trust me, I've seen 'em, even THEY don't match that porn fantasy without makeup and lighting and very careful editing), enjoy being with your partners - including yourself.


I know you want this delicious and helpful book. So leave me a comment, and I will pick one commenter at random to receive a copy. (I know, I know, I could use one of those raffle thingies that make you Follow my Twitterfeed and newsletter, but those always annoy the crap outta me, so I'm not doing it to you.)

If you want to sign up for my mailing list, just because I'm nice and you're nice, that would be cool. Link is toward the top right of this page. Because very soon, my Kicking Cancer's Ass memoir is launching, and I know you want to score a copy of that, right?

Note: Will be picking a winner after Friday, April 28, so you still have time. 


Happy sexytimes!


Monday, April 3, 2017

Why Talk About Rape... Again?

Doesn't talking about rape normalize it? Yes, I've heard people ask that.

Well, we've tried not talking about rape and sexual assault for quite some time. And yet, rape and sexual assault didn't magically go away.


I believe that talking about our experiences with rape and sexual assault can be empowering, help lift the stigma, and help us see that we're not alone. Almost every woman I know, and many men, have experienced sexual assault of some kind. Yet somehow, the shame is projected onto the person who was attacked, while the attackers often stroll away, free.

I think that's something we need to change.

So to that end, I was interviewed on the #TakeBackYourSEX podcast, linked here, with two sexy women who've also experienced rape. Megan and Tanya and I had a wonderful conversation about this - with NO shame!!

And have you seen this queen reclaiming her power? Doing a photo shoot at the frat house where she was raped, that takes ovaries.



You can listen to our discussion here.


We're talking about doing a follow-up podcast, so if you have questions or issues we didn't cover, please leave a comment, below.  Thanks!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Million to One: Tony Faggioli

Tony Faggioli is an up-and-coming writer who recently released his first trilogy, a set of action-packed thrillers with a big supernatural component running through them. And, I am proud to say, a personal friend. I'm so happy to welcome him here for the second part of a ten question interview.




6) Writing a trilogy - how do you make the pacing work so that each book works as a standalone and within the series? 

Honestly? I have no idea. I know, I know...I'm supposed to sound all cool, like I planned it all out that way, but the truth is that the story literally took on a life of its own. There were some days that my fingers simply couldn’t keep up with my brain. I was waking up at 3am or 4:30am. It was nuts. But I did have my outlines to try and mesh together. After I was done my editor cleaned up some rough patches but for the most part, it just wrote itself.



7) Critique groups and beta readers. Tell us a little about how those have helped you be a better writer - if they have. 

Each person comes to a critique group with a skill level. From there, if the group is good, that skill level will elevate. I mean, without fail. It has to. Because a good critique group is really an extension of any good writing professor you’ve ever had in your life…they keep you honest. They call you on your bullshit. They flag a character who is weak (as my group did with Tamara at first) and before long you see the reason why (she was destined to be one of the strongest characters, and as a male writer, I was struggling with how to give her a voice).

8) You auditioned several content editors for the series. Tell us how and why you selected the editor you did. 

I’d used Stephen King’s first editor to go over my prior book (The Snow Globe) so I’d already experienced an older editor who was inflexible. As such, I knew I needed something different this time. I searched and searched, and it paid off. She was young, but experienced. I wanted an editor who had spunk. Who wasn’t going to take my shit but who was also calm, cool and collected. Almost like a female Spock to my Captain Kirk. We Skype’d and she was perfect. A quick example? The ending of Book 2 used to be the opening to Book 3. She didn’t like that. She saw immediately that if I ended Book 2 the way it is now I wouldn’t just hook the reader, I would practically stick them with a fishing gaff. I went all crazy about it, ranting and raving about why I disagreed and her reply was the equivalent of, “Well Captain. That. Is. Illogical.” Except she has a British accent. I mean, can you imagine a British Female Spock? I didn't stand a chance. But guess which scene has had the most visceral reaction to date? Yep. Especially with my female readers. Most have tripped out (in a good way) but a few have been really pissed, and they DM me with anger, curse my name, cry foul…and then tell me they just bought Book 3 J

9) Every author has to balance marketing for the book(s) already released, with creating new work, while editing and revising other work. Besides coffee, what tools or mindset help you do this?

Tues-Thurs I’ve gone with a “split-day” approach. 8am-Noon I create (currently that means writing the first book of my new trilogy). Then I break for a one hour lunch. Then from 1-3pm I edit/revise (currently I’m working on The Snow Globe rewrite). From 3-5pm I monitor and check on my promos, internet stats, sales, etc. and setup TweetDeck for my next day’s content. I’m on Facebook here or there each day, so I track/post/reply as needed. Mon and Fri I can only dedicate half a day to my Indie Author cause, so I spend the afternoons editing/revising, writing my blog, putting together my newsletter and doing awesome blog interviews J

10) What question have you not yet been asked - and what's your answer? Hmmm. I guess the question would be, “How did you balance the spiritual/Christian elements of the story while targeting the mainstream, commercial thriller market?” 

Because I worked SO hard that. And my answer, “By relying on the fact that the topic of the story – the pain and consequences of love betrayed – affects Christians, Buddhists (etc) and atheists alike. The vast majority of us have this reverence for the concept of love and an innate need for it. As such, regardless of the spiritual base from which you may read the story, you can appreciate what the characters are going through."


Tony Faggioli was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California, where he majored in Public Administration and interned in Washington, D.C. at The White House. After college, he transitioned to corporate America before deciding to start his own business. One day, he realized that nothing brought him anywhere near the amount of joy as the writing he did from grade school through high school. So, at age 35, he decided to rekindle his passion. Since then he's written four novels and begun his fifth. He's a happily married father of two kids, two dogs and a pretty awesome goldfish. 




Newsletter: https://tonyfaggioli.com/

Catch him in person at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California on Sunday, January 8 at 4 pm.  



Click HERE for Part I of this ten question interview.

Got more questions for Tony?
Ask them, below.

Monday, January 2, 2017

One In a Million: Tony Faggioli

One of the best things about being a writer is getting to meet, read, and become friends with other writers, aspiring or established. Tony Faggioli is an up-and-coming writer who recently released his first trilogy, a set of action-packed horror novels with a big supernatural component. And, I am proud to say, a personal friend. I'm so happy to welcome Tony here for a ten question interview.



1) Kyle. Napoleon. Tamara. Parker. The Grey Man. Which character was the most fun to write - and which was the most challenging? Which character surprised you the most, as you came to know them, and why?

Napoleon was the most fun to write, hands down. He allowed me to vibe with my inner Ed McBain, which was cool. Police procedurals have always been my thing, so the scenes and dialogue came natural to me. In so many ways, though, his struggle transcends the crime genre, so that gave me room to play in the sandbox and dig for new toys (ideas). Kyle was the most challenging. He's the most human and therefore the least transparent, both to the reader and to me as the writer. It makes sense, right? If a friend calls you to tell you that they've cheated on their spouse/significant other and they need to talk? The conversation is going to be tough sledding. Tamara did nothing bad to Kyle, nothing that comes anywhere near his being able to justify his actions. So right away you have a lead character that the reader is going to think is a douche bag...now how in the world do you get them to root for the guy? That was tough. My answer, in the end, was to remind the reader (and myself) how much they have in common with Kyle. Temptation is a bitch. In the right set of circumstance? Any of us could struggle. Some of us badly.
2) Your series features recurring appearances by angels - and demons. Who's your favorite demon (in these works, not in general), and why? 

That's a hard question. Hm. Across the whole series? Man. I liked Bonespur in Book 1 - she freaks people out even though she only has one scene. But...I think The Lantern Man wins out. He has…a lasting effect on people. At my book signing party my wife displayed this really cool lantern that she found...and people who’d already read the books? They literally steered clear of it. I kid you not. That lantern is in my living room now. I've had three different people come to my house to visit and they want nothing to do with it when they walk in and catch sight of it. The Lantern Man is just so evil. I mean, how bad do you have to be to qualify as The Bread Man's superior? It's nearly beyond comprehension. 
3) Which writers have had the most influence on you? I can see Proust and Stephen King - who else? 

I already mentioned McBain. I also have to add Robert B. Parker. I love, love, love the Spenser for Hire series. In truth, here's a little secret for your readers: Napoleon's partner, Detective Evan Parker? That's from marrying Ed McBain's real name (Evan Hunter) with Robert B. Parker. It was a nod from a no name like me to two giants in their field, both sadly gone now, who filled so many hours of my reading days. Besides them? I gotta go with Hemingway and Chekov. When I find myself trying to avoid telling the truth about a particular character? Ernest is there to slap me. When I get way too wordy and think I need twenty words to say something that can be said in five? Anton is there to point out how. 
4) You do some pretty disturbing things to many of your female characters. Does your wife read your work and give you the side eye? How about your pastor and members of your church? Has it sparked any interesting discussions from people who never saw this side of you?  

I'll never forget when my beloved cousin (my muse) was midway through Book 2. She was in town, visiting from Pittsburgh, and she looks at my wife and says, "Okay. Um. Ya gotta tell me: how do you sleep next to him at night?" I was knocked speechless (no small feat) and my wife just kinda laughed nervously...and made NO comment!  lololol I mean...really? After twenty years of marriage my wife pretty much knew I was half nuts to begin with. Her bigger problem was with the sexual content of Book 1 in its original form. It was pretty graphic. I think I was trying to visually justify Kyle's actions to the reader (i.e. if you were titillated, then how could you blame him for being titillated?). Then came the day that I gave out a half dozen copies to some of our friends from church! Oh man. My wife was not pleased. One of the women from church said she had to "stop and scrub out her eyes" after reading a few sections. Sigh. Anyway, it was a misguided manipulation of the reader and luckily my editor called me out on it straight away. So I changed it. It has definitely sparked some interesting discussions, from both male and female readers. But my main theme stayed intact. Here are all these female characters in the books being victimized...but did you notice (spoiler alert) that none of them are saved by men? Not one. Go back and look. They each kick ass and stick up for themselves.  Except for The Bread Man's mother, maybe, and even she goes down trying to do the right thing (not willing to cover up the death of her abusive husband, who she probably loathed). 

5) Building on that, you have children who are proud of your writing career, but, I presume, are not allowed to read this series yet. At what age would you allow them to read it - and what is your plan if they sneak a peek before then? 

My son turns sixteen next spring. He will get to read them then. If for no other reason than the fact that I want him to see that the objectification of women comes at a cost. A married man committing adultery. A psychopathic killer. They’re miles apart…but both are murderers. The latter is killing life. The former? Love. Yes, I know, women cheat too. But that’s someone else’s story to tell. 


Tony Faggioli was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California, where he majored in Public Administration and interned in Washington, D.C. at The White House. After college, he transitioned to corporate America before deciding to start his own business. One day, he realized that nothing brought him anywhere near the amount of joy as the writing he did from grade school through high school. So, at age 35, he decided to rekindle his passion. Since then he's written four novels and begun his fifth. He's a happily married father of two kids, two dogs and a pretty awesome goldfish. 





Catch him in person at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California on Sunday, January 8 at 4 pm.  


Tune in tomorrow for Part II of this ten question interview.

Got questions for Tony?
Ask them, below.