Saturday, July 20, 2013

On Talon PS, Prejudice, Grief and a miracle....

It's been a year since I stared in disbelief at Tom's brief post on Facebook, announcing Talon ps' death.

I was still at work, waiting out the last half hour before the next person came in, to relieve me at the post, so I could crawl onto the bus, catch a nap, and be ready to get all the stuff done that gets put off when I'm on shift.  Let's face it, 16 hour days just don't leave much time for anything else.

I'd been satisfied that morning.  I'd typed "The End" to a manuscript that was for me an emotional train wreck only a few hours before, oblivious to the fact that literally as I have typed those final words, Talon was leaving this world.  Also as Talon passed, a litter of kittens were born to a close friend of mine, that by all logic should also have died earlier that night.  I only learned these things later.  My mind was only filled with satisfaction and relief that a difficult, painful story had been told, and that they had gotten a happy ending that they had worked hard for.  And a small (okay huge,) amount of glee that I had finished it in time to meet the submission deadline.

My friend was driving home in her car, an extremely low to the ground sports car, when she hit the fresh remains of a deer in middle of the interstate.  She had nowhere to go but right into the carcass, yet instead of it being flipped up and into the windshield, which would most likely have killed her and her passenger, by some miracle, the car actually went over the carcass.  Maybe some mathematical genius can give you the odds against that outcome, but my friend made it home, shaky but okay. Then she had the happier drama just a couple hours later of three newborn kittens joining the family.

I cried all the way home, somehow not lashing out at the people around me who appeared to think it ridiculous for me to be upset over the death of a man I'd  never met in person.  Maybe I'm the weird one, but it seemed incredibly callous to me.  I get that they didn't know Talon in any way shape or form, but they knew ME, and could have at least had enough respect and compassion to accept MY grief as valid.

Then later that day, my boss called, asking me to work a special detail the following two days.  He asked if I was okay; I guess I sounded off. A slightly rambling explanation followed along with my concerns for Tom, as Talon's partner, and Prin, as his twin, as well as his niece.  My boss, the idiot extraordinaire of the day, made a very prejudiced comment, assuming Talon had died of AIDS.  Because of course, what else might a gay man die of, right?  By then, someone had posted some information about the disease that ultimately took Talon, and I admit I took a certain amount of pleasure in correcting my boss' bigoted assumption.  There was an embarrassed "Oh," and a hurried change of subject, but it was a reaction that still makes me angry.

I'm a little older than the AIDS epidemic.  I've spent years listening to how it started, how it's transmitted and to whom.  By far the best thing I was taught was how to protect myself, which was so simple: use condoms.  Be careful who you sleep with and use condoms.  Of course, this was back when real sex education was taught in school, and a week before, you were sent home with a little permission slip your parent had to sign, allowing you to go, or stating specifically that the parent did not want you to attend it.  My mother, pregnant with me at 16, made sure I went every year from 4th grade until graduation.   But why is it, 30 years later, with everything that has been learned, was my boss' immediate assumption that Talon had died of AIDS?   How was that at all logical?

It comes down to prejudice, I believe.  The long and the short of it is prejudice.  A person who happens to be gay couldn't possibly die of anything else, right?  Cancer, heart disease, stroke, environmental poisoning, couldn't possibly be a factor in the death of any gay person.  Not even old age claims those who are gay…  These things, these ailments, are a curse only the straights bear.  AIDS is the gay disease...according to ignorance and prejudice.  Ignorance and prejudice that after 30 years can only be deliberately willful, not merely existing through a lack of education.

I can't speak for what anyone else felt that day beyond shock and grief.  For me, there was also anger, understanding, and resentment.  There may be those who might think I don't have the right to those emotions, because I only knew Talon through Facebook, and only for a short few months. Those people can take a long walk off a short pier.  Nobody gets to tell me what I'm allowed to feel. 

Grief is obvious.  Talon had been unfailing kind to me, accepting of my tendency to just jump into conversations.  I was still new to Facebook myself, at least as an author, and Talon had been welcoming and encouraging.

Shock again is obvious, but tied up with it was anger.  Anger that I had no idea that Talon had been dying.  I'd known from some of his posts that he endured a lot of pain, but never felt it was a good time to ask what was wrong.  Understanding, because of course Talon would not want to tell everybody that he's been severely injured, and losing the fight with his illness.  No one wants to be the dying guy.  Talon just wanted to focus on as much of the positive as he could and even with a few months friendship, I could understand it. 

Anger that so many people could be so uncaring in the face of anyone’s grief, and just plain angry that Talon was gone.

Resentment might be a little harder to explain.  At first, it was because of little things, like the odd looks I got.  "What's wrong with you?" My friend died. "Oh, well how long had you known him?" Only a few months. "Well, why are you crying then?" Not important, I know, in the grand scheme of things. 

But as the first days and weeks went by I became very angry and resentful of the behavior of many in Facebookland and their behavior towards Talon and his loved ones and friends.  Many were attacked as fake.  Some were stalked.  I've never witnessed such appalling behavior in the wake of death for any but some scandalous celebrity.  Talon was well known, but certainly no Marilyn Monroe or even Anna Nicole Smith, who at least made her living by inviting scandal.

Grief is an odd emotion, and in some ways an oddly unique one.  There's no rules to it, really.  People react so individually to it. Some retreat within themselves to try to hide from the pain, and others attack the world, gnawing their own limbs off in frustrated fury. Some perceived as weak, stand tall and unbowed, carrying on, taking care of others, and some, perceived as strong, crumple in heaps, lost and bewildered.  Some people need things to stay exactly as the person who died left it.  Others need to bring things up, talk about it, show other things that loved one would have wanted to show everyone.  There is no right or wrong to grief.  There’s no way to know how any of us will react until we’re in that moment.  Perhaps some of a result of that, but the rest was purely the need of some to enjoy the pain of others, and therefore simply unacceptable.  

In the year since, I've watched some people grow apart, when they should have grown closer.  I've seen friendships destroyed because of acrimonious jealousy.  The nastiness even reached a point wherein a piece of work that Talon had tried so hard to finish before his death had to be removed from availability because one individual threw lawyers into the mix, and those who worked their butts off to finish Feral Dreams withdrew it rather than let that person further defame somebody they love and themselves. 

People whom I used to speak with regularly, never speak to me at all anymore. Some have even unfriended me, either because they thought I chose a side, or because I didn't, I don't know.  To this day, I don’t understand if there was a fight, or even if there was a right or wrong “side” to choose.  To me there was only those grieving Talon and those attacking people in pain, and if that was the fight, then my lot was amoung Talon’s friends.  Hell, for all I know, these unfriendings were simply because a person didn’t like my hair color, or a book I wrote.  Without having been talked to about the matter, I can’t say.  In some cases, it was a case of *shrug* "whatever.”  In other cases, it's been rather hurtful.  Either way, there's little to do about it.  But it all adds to the resentment, resentment that I invested anything in people who invested nothing in me, even if it was “just” online friendship.  What, because it’s online, it’s less important? Less valid?

So tonight at work, sitting here, looking pretty, waving to people as they drive by, and left with entirely too much time to think, I thought about this past year.  It’s dangerous to give me time to think, I start ranting.  There have been a few friendships that have grown in the aftermath.  A few misunderstandings that have been resolved, and a few that I fear never will be.  Some things Talon would have laughed his little furry black cat ass off about, such as a recent food fight Prin started.  Some of it he would have hated, such as the accusations leveled against those he cared about, of fakery and whatever other nonsense.  Some of it he would have been so proud of that nobody would hear the end of it for at least six months…okay we would never hear the end of it he’d’ve been so proud.

Maybe I’m not the only thinking of any of this.  For me, it still hurts, not so much for me, but because I still see the hole Talon left in so many lives, and some of those lives belong to friends I’ve gotten to know even better.  Because I see people who are struggling to carry on, and thinking that they are failing, or doing it wrong, when nothing could be further from the truth.  They are still here, celebrating, teasing, grieving and PeaCOCKING about.  Sounds like a good time for friends to remember the man who showed us all a thing or two about it.

Warm Winds my friend.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

*Waves* Hiya...I'm a terrible blogger...

So sorry...I am a terrible blogger, but I am going to do better, I promise.  In that vein, I have something fun from some of my fellow authors at my new Publisher, Wilde City Press.  I'll post that in a minute.

In a really quick rundown, I signed a contract with Wilde for Adam: Tales From One World, which will be releasing soon, and for those of you who are fans of Liam and Jareth from Absent-minded Astrophysicist, or are simply happy slaves to Empress, you'll be happy to know I also just signed a contract with Silver for the sequel, Loving the Astrophysicist.  No release date on that yet, but I'll let you know when I know.

I'll let you play with the others now, and and enjoy your Fourth of July!!!

Summer is all about fun, adventure and making great holiday memories. What do the Wilde City authors get up to? Find out when they were asked about some of their favorite summer traditions ... past, present, and future.
Help Wilde City Press celebrate the start of summer and July 4th. Enjoy 25% of your entire cart from Wednesday July 3rd through Sunday July 7th with the coupon code: WildeFreedom.

What is your favorite July 4th / Independence Day memory or tradition?

Shae Connor
My favorite July 4th tradition is putting the watermelon in the pool.
See, my extensive extended family mostly lives in and around a small Georgia town, and the main gathering place for as long as I can remember has been the house of one of my grandmother’s sisters. (Both my grandmother and her sister are gone now, but some things just don’t change.)
Every year on the 4th of July, everyone who’s in town gathers at that house for a cookout. There’s a big grill out back, where the manly men types cook the meat. There’s also a pool, and every year, there’s a watermelon that goes in the pool. The kids play with it in the water most of the day, and then after everyone eats, the watermelon gets fished out, washed off, and sliced for everyone to dig in. The water in the pool chills it perfectly, not too cold like it would be from the fridge.
Now I want some pool-cooled watermelon!
I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember, but it took me a long time to figure out that maybe I should start writing them down. I started out writing fanfic well over a decade ago, and in 2010, I moved into original fiction. (Though I do still get waylaid by a fanfiction plotbunny now and then.)
Shae is new to Wilde City. Look for Fringes, her Charlie Harding Presents erotic sci-fi short due out later this summer. Visit her at:

Owen Keehnen
I am not sure if it was the exactly the 4th of July, but I do recall the fireworks. I was probably 20 or so and felt very grown up. I was in my first real apartment with my first real boyfriend. It was night and to escape the heat we climbed out my bedroom window onto the roof. We spread a sheet on the graveled tar and were lying there just holding hands and watching the stars. There was heat lightning to the south. The small town fireworks began about a half hour after dusk and probably lasted a total of five minutes. When they ended, I turned to him and said, “I love you.” I didn’t know exactly what those words entailed, but I knew how I felt and at that moment there wasn’t a doubt in my mind. It was such a feeling of complete contentment. We ended up falling asleep out there on the roof and climbed back inside around 3 a.m. He’s gone now, but whenever I see fireworks I think of him and that rooftop and that moment. It always brings a smile.
In addition to the four poems he contributed to Falling Awake, Owen has two other projects coming soon to Wilde City. The LGBT Book of Days is a fun and comprehensive guide to thousands of the most important dates in LGBT history - it’s great for reference and trivia and a real treat to compile. The second is a humorous novel called Young Digby Swank, a gay coming of age story about growing up Catholic which is hilarious and heartbreaking and heroic all at the same time. Visit Owen on facebook.

Hank Edwards
Meet Josh Stanton, orphaned at a young age in the mid-1800s, he has always been considered an outcast in Belkin's Pass. Now he’s grown into a quiet, well-educated young man full of secrets, the least of which is his love for his best friend, town deputy Dex Wells. But when the ancient vampire Balthazar begins feeding on the residents of Belkin's Pass, Josh's secrets prove to be the turning point in a battle for the souls of the townspeople—but at what personal cost? ---- Cowboys & Vampires, available now at Wilde City Press.
Visit Hank at

What is your favorite Summer memory or tradition?
Geoffrey Knight
My favourite Independence Day moment has to be when Will Smith socks that mean old alien in the chops after they have the dogfight in the canyon and he says something bad-ass like, “You aliens just wrecked my July 4 barbecue and now I’m gonna have me some E.T. burgers because you guys suck!” Oh ... you mean a real Independence Day memory, not a scene from the movie! I guess I’ll answer the Best Summer Memory or Tradition question instead.
I don’t think I have one particular memory or tradition that stands out because I love everything about Summer. Being Australian, Summer means lots of public holidays: Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Australia all happen in the space of a month or so, so January pretty much means lots of delicious seafood and days at the beach and your skin feels dusty with sea-salt the whole time, which is a feeling I love. Now that I’ve moved to an island it’s even better; Sydney beaches can get really crowded but up here I can walk from one end of the beach to the other with my dogs and not see a soul. And yes, of course I go in for a skinny dip! ;)
“I want to see.” ... “Nash, we’re in Egypt, in the ruins of an ancient city, standing in front of a secret door! Aren’t you curious?”
“Curiosity killed the - ” ... “No, I’m not curious.”
The lie was unconvincing enough to give Ryan the confidence to sway him.
Sway him with a kiss. ...
“Curious yet?”
You can read Nash’s answer in Cairo Curse, book two in the Vampire Lair series. Visit Geoff at

Lloyd Meeker
My favorite summer tradition is honoring the solstice. In one old tradition, Midsummer Night was the time to leave a small dish of brandy in the garden as a gift to the fairies, which I’ve always thought was charming. Inviting the goodwill of nature is always a sensible idea!
I mark the solstice by honoring extremes – the dark of winter in the southern hemisphere and the light of summer in the northern – and the inevitable swing of the one toward the other. It is the wisdom of the Tao, the dance of light and dark, each with the spark of the other in its core.
This idea may seem pretty dry, but try this little experiment: sit on a playground swing and build momentum. Make the point furthest back winter solstice, when movement forward begins, and make the point farthest forward summer solstice, when graceful retreat begins. Feel the delicious centrifugal force as you move, your weightlessness at both far points – and remember the earth, held in her arc by the sun.
Gay PI Russ Morgan doesn't mind being fifty but hates being single. He's made peace with being a psychic empath, and he’s managed to build a decent life since getting sober. As he uncovers obscene secrets shrouded in seeming righteousness, he might have to make peace with a sword of justice that cuts the innocent as deeply as the guilty. ---- Enigma, coming soon to Wilde City Press.
Visit Lloyd at

Clare London
I wish the UK had July 4 celebrations as well! This summer so far, we’ve had sleet, flood rains, gale force winds and then occasionally a sunny, hot day. I think this is the reason most of our sentimental celebrations take place in the latter half of the year. Or why the British talk constantly about the weather.
It seemed sunnier in The Old Days, when I was young(er). One happy memory is of an annual trip with friends to Henley-on-Thames, for a barbeque/picnic beside the river. This was the irresponsible time before kids and mortgages! We always arranged a game of rounders (like baseball, but not), competing with way more enthusiasm than skill, and helped along (or hindered?) by huge amounts of alcohol.
We still have photographic evidence of the fun. A gal sitting in her bikini, draining the last cupful of fruit punch from a litre-sized jug. A chap with his younger brother hauled over his shoulder, running towards the river to throw him in. Various self-inflicted rounders-bat injuries on sunburned shins. Clare, clutching river weeds to her chest because she lost her tube top when she dived in…
Oh those lazy, hazy afternoons of summer!
Meet Freeman, a quiet man who’s not used to sharing his plans, his history, or his emotions. He's returned to the city on business, a case that has nothing to do with the people he once left behind: his ex-wife, his male ex-lover, and his ex-business partner. He has no plans to engage with any of them again – until he meets Kit, the provocative young man who’s going to pull Freeman from the safety of his shell, whether he wants to or not. ---- Freeman, coming soon to Wilde City Press.
Visit Clare at

Eric Arvin
I'm a big music slut any time of the year, but I especially love summer music or music that makes me think of summer. Every spring I make an awesome playlist for the warmer months. There be lots of frivolity and even some slower tunes in the mix. Here are a few from this year's playlist:
Boys on the Radio by Hole
Mad About You by Belinda Carlisle
Love This by Cosmo Jarvis
Love Profusion by Madonna (Madonna has a lot of great summer tunes)
Car Wheels on A Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams
Midnight City by M83 (they're last album was a summer spectacular)
I'm Like a Bird by Nelly Furtado
Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow
Summer Fling by kd lang (from her album Invincible Summer)
Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
Wicked Game by Chris Isaak
Spaceman by The Killers (again, they've got a lot of great summery songs)
Boys of Summer by Eric Himan (a great version of the Don Henley classic)
For the Summer by Ray LaMontagne
Summer Days by Norah Jones
Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald
Summer Moved On by A-ha
Freeway by Aimee Mann (Mann's voice just sounds like summer to me, other Mann Summer songs include 4th of July and Fifty Years After the Fair)
Free Falling by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
End of the Innocence by Don Henley
If I Ever Feel Better by Phoenix
Birmingham by Shovels & Rope
Ramona by Night Beds
Singing in My Sleep by Semisonic
Lightning Bolt by Jake Bugg
Eric Arvin resides in the same sleepy Indiana river town where he grew up. He graduated from Hanover College with a Bachelors in History. He has lived, for brief periods, in Italy and Australia. He has survived brain surgery and his own loud-mouthed personal demons. Eric is the author of The Mingled destinies of Crocodiles and Men, and various other sundry and not-so-sundry writings. He intends to live the rest of his days with tongue in cheek and eyes set to roam.
Visit Eric at

Patrick Darcy
Without a doubt, on a cold summer night in Dublin, I dream of being naked on an Ibizan beach. Preferably Playa Es Cavallet, the gay nudist beach. It’s a bit of a trek; you have to get past the German and Dutch naturalist before getting to the promised land of sexy, naked homos. I see it now, hot muscled hunks, with tattoos and great big.......
The beach is all white sand lined with cool beach bars, and the sound of funky music fills the air. Such a great relaxed vibe and beautiful people cruising each other. To say it’s sexual would be an understatement.
Summer is all about being naked, however, there are occasional problems. As a weak and feeble man, I am constantly being shown up by my hardon. I want to be dignified and European. But I’m Irish, I see a hot naked guy and, well, my cock just has to show its appreciation. Total nude beach faux pas. Oh the shame of it! The only saving grace is that my buns are rather pert. So I spend most of the day laying on my front, peaking through my Roy Orbison shades at all the beach talent.
OK. now I'm horny!
Hi! I’m Patrick Darcy. Rugby player, Irishman and writer of full strength gay erotica. Follow me at, as I comment on life in Dublin, hot men and all the things that make me tick. There are two big passions in my life: great sex and rugby. Quite often, these are combined! I love the thrill of competition, the power, the intensity, the brotherhood of rugby.
Oh, and I love being naked!

Anne Brooke
My favourite summer memory is my mother's homemade lemonade. She only ever made it in summer as she said it was an outdoor drink and needed a big dose of sunshine to make the bubbles pop. Apparently winter would make the whole drink go grey and flat, and as I was young I believed her – and in a way I still do. Homemade lemonade only ever appeared about three or four times a year and only when we were very good and she was pleased with us. It wasn't ever something she prepared for either but, in our family group, she would slip away quietly and after a while one or another of us would realise she was missing. From then on the excitement would mount and then - at last! - half an hour or so later she would reappear with a huge jug of lovely lemony-yellow bubbly drink and a selection of glasses. Drinking it meant you had enough sugar in your system to last you well into the next month, but it was like a blast of sunshine and citrus in the mouth, I can tell you. Sheer bliss!
The night I met Luke Milton, the last thing I was looking for was any kind of relationship ...
“What the hell are you doing?” ...
“Waiting for you ...”
“You’ve not covered up your mark.” ... “You must have taken some stick for it from the office.”
“Why should I cover it up? You gave it to me. That’s worth all the stick in the world.”
Read the rest of Luke and Alan’s interactions in The Beginning of Knowledge, available now at Wilde City Press. Visit Anne at

Ewan Creed
I’ll set the scene for you - a rowboat, a bottle of wine, a low moon, and a good man. We had met on the beach that morning and clicked, so after hanging out all day I invited him out to dinner and then for a ride on the lake. There was just something about him. It was so easy to talk to him. I told him more about myself than I told my best friends and he shared just as much about himself. That evening was nothing special in the scheme of things, and yet perfect at the same time. It was one of those connections you just don’t forget. He was the first person I ever told that I wanted to be a writer.
Meet Alex, a man caught up in the leather bar scene of 1975, a man consumed by the feeling of sexual abandon and freedom. One night Alex gets more than he bargained for and is transported into a dark carnal wonderland of sexual abandon and perpetual desire, a world that can trap a man for all eternity. ---- The Leather Bar Mural, available now from Wilde City Press.
Follow all of Ewan’s release dates HERE.

If you could escape to anywhere in the world this summer, where would it be?
J.P. Barnaby
J. P. Barnaby, an award-winning gay romance novelist, is the author of over a dozen books including the Little Boy Lost series, the Forbidden Room series, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
J.P.'s new Rentboy series is coming to Wilde City press later this year. Visit J.P. at

I live in New Zealand and summer here starts in December. For someone born in the UK, seeing bikinis and sun lotion next to Christmas trees and decorations just isn’t right. A holiday somewhere hot and sultry with exotic cocktails might be most people’s idea of summer bliss. However, I’d like to escape to celebrate my summer Christmas in Canada with snow, caribou, and lots of mulled wine.
Living in clean, green New Zealand, I am an author, foodie, wine buff and Art Historian. I write M/M romance, particularly paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy, and like to add passion, and a twist, to my tales. I grew up on Dr Who, Star Trek and The Night Stalker. I never leave the house without at least one notebook, ready to jot down anything the muse may whisper. Visit me on facebook.

Charlie Harding
I would scoop up my partner Scotty Rage and we'd meet up with our 10 closest friends at a beach somewhere. Seafood, cocktails, sand, sun and the people we care about... Our favorite combination!
Charlie Harding joined the ranks of adult performers in February 2012. He has won multiple awards including "Best New Cummer," "Best Daddy," "Best Ass Eater 2012" and “Manly Man”. Charlie has also put his multiple college degrees to work building network of business ventures including launching his own line of personally selected gay erotica at Charlie lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his partner and fiance, Scotty Rage.

Ethan Stone
I would love to go on a cruise to somewhere warm but not too hot. I want a place with a beach, cool clear water and some hot cabana boys. The hot cabana boys are not just for eye candy, they'd be there for inspiration. The whole trip would be for inspiration since I've been having a hard time with writing lately. Being in a relaxing environment with pretty eye candy all around me could really help with my writing block. Additionally, it would benefit my health as well. If I were to lay shirtless in the sun, soaking up all that vitamin D, I'd have all the energy I need for anything that happened to come up. :-)
Anyone wanting to contribute to the "Save Ethan's Mental and Physical Health" Cruise feel free to use Paypal.
“Did you like what you saw out there?” ...
“You’re a very ... talented dancer.” ...
“Anything else you liked?”
“You fishing for a compliment, Holt? You don’t seem the type to need your ego stroked.”
“Maybe it’s not my ego I want s...”
See if Jason Holt ever gets around to telling Quinn what he wants stroked, Past Tense available now at Wilde City Press. Visit Ethan at