Saturday, October 24, 2009
P.D. Publishing, Inc.
Remastering Jerna is a work of speculative fiction. Kinky and polyamorous people need folktales just like other social groups. It's much more fun for all those involved if we just agree on that point.
I've had years of practice falling for imaginary people.
But then, that's the whole charm of reading fiction isn't it? To me a successful piece of fiction introduces me to a character I'd like to meet. Even rarer is to find a character I'd like to add to my boudoir. What I appreciate most about Jerna Setiq is the dignity he brings to being a male submissive. In a testosterone-driven society, as particularly evidenced in my native States, being a vulnerable man more often earns one unkind names and sneers than being elevated to a literary culturehero.
Shall we say Remastering Jerna reads like Beauty and the Beast meets When Someone You Love is Kinky? Doesn't make the picture clear enough for you? We shall try again. Within the first seventeen pages, Jerna's life as a happily married teacher is wrenched asunder by a sexually precocious student. Dramatic irony lies in the fact Jerna had actually tried to protect the boy from an abusive situation before the tables were turned upon him. Jerna prefers to sacrifice his own good name to safeguard a former lover involved with the student. His own society brands Jerna a pedophile which he is not. He must divorce his beloved wife lest she lose her children.
The prison scenes had their intended chilling effect with Jerna's matter-of-fact exploitation. They prepare the reader subtly for the difference between willing submission founded upon trust that later occurs in the story. Jerna trades his nightmarish prison-detail for whoredom. Imagine the choice between starvation, gang-rape, and being used as disposable labor and white slavery. Throughout his ordeal, Jerna never loses his penchant for kindness towards others. It earns him the affection and respect of fellow sex workers, a doctor, an older client, and a male Dom who requires training himself.
Some might feel the conciliatory ending where Jerna is eventually reunited with wife and children and yet maintains the homosexual relationship he formed with a male Dom incredible. But isn't that the really juicy thing about folktales—when they end with love involved for all?
Note: This copy of Remastering Jerna was acquired in an author-run contest. The reviewer is quite ecstatic that she won it.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday the 22nd, I trekked on foot from Readville Commuter Rail Station from West Milton Street, Hyde Park to Milton Street in Dedham to a vet who handles rehabbing squirrels.
Maybe I should back up a little.
I live with people who have a soft spot for animals. But I get the tough jobs like catching bats, wolf spiders, and house centipedes and taking them outside. Fieldmice are cute and all but not in my home.
So my brother, the Lemurian, calls me on my cellphone last Friday to announce he's coming back with a squirrel in a box. We have already had my sister spring a wounded pigeon upon us a couple a of weeks ago. The Animal Rescue League kindly took the pigeon off our hands although there wasn't a happy ending to that story.
This is a household of five cats, none of which are mine, although all the cats seem to love me. I interpret cat pretty well except if I am dealing with a sealpoint Siamese. My best animal language is reptile though. Water dragons, Tegus, and Nile monitors...well we have this thing.... Cats and reptiles don't mix however so I live without my scaly spirit animals.
Once the squirrel arrives at the house, my brother sets it up in the larger of two kitty carriers. It has banana chips and sunflower seeds from a friend of his who was the first to discover the human dependent squirrel. This little guy will sit on just about anyone's shoulder, eat nuts, and poop. It will hold up its hands to be picked up if you set it on the ground just like any human kid. Totally, unsquirrel-like. This is worrisome.
I am slightly impressed because the squirrel is young enough to lay claim to human kryptonite. That it is has big, black, beady eyes. It runs to the cage door to investigate if you speak to it and then it burrows happily in all the shredded toilet paper atop the newspaper and goes to sleep.
My brother calls the Animal Rescue League to report the squirrel needs intervention. It has no fear of humans. It tries to sneak into human-inhabited buildings where there's warmth and food. My sister worries that the squirrel will die a premature death if it's just released without any intervention. Not everyone will take pity on a wild animal.
The squirrel spent the weekend. Meanwhile, we were trying to get someone from the Animal Rescue League to take the squirrel. ARL took the pigeon and they are listed as Wildlife Rehabilator when I searched Google.™ It's a little harder to get this to happen with the squirrel. I let my brother call ARL and he gets some information about a Wildlife Rehabilitator in Weymouth. We can't get to Weymouth w/out a car. No dice.We learn ARL aren't rehabbers themselves. The Animal Rescue League will transport the squirrel to a Rehabber's though. There's a lot of demand for their services so they aren't sure when it will happen.
Meanwhile, The squirrel spends the weekend with us. It amuses itself by overturning its water tray and soaking the newspaper. The cats are trying to sneak into my brother's bedroom so they can check out the intruder. One cat is declawed so he's not as much of threat but the others are. The squirrel gets to run around in the bathroom while my brother cleans the cage. I have no idea how to sex a squirrel although my brother thinks that it's a girl because of the visible teat. My sister has no opinion. That time of the month arrives and I get irritated by the whole affair.
Monday comes and we haven't lined up a place we can get the squirrel to. Naturally, the squirrel is bored with it's spacious quarters. The bathroom is the one room where anyone has a hope of catching it and putting it back into the kitty carrier. It also has lockable door to keep the cats from joining in the fun. I am crankier and crankier. My brother is bonding with the squirrel and taking pictures. My sister is concerned that the squirrel gets the help it needs.
Now I have to call ARL. I email too just to cover all the bases. I am PMS-ing something horrible. A very patient female receptionist at the Boston office advises me that there's a Wildlife Rehabber in Dedham that ARL uses. Hallelujah! I can get to Dedham. I call the spot and I'm told I can bring the squirrel tomorrow when the vet is there. After a friendly discussion with the ARL Dedham, I decide we can keep the squirrel another night rather than impose upon Dispatch.
So Thursday, me and squirrel board and Route 32 bus and head onto our adventure. I have transferred our guest to the smaller kitty carrier and provided a farewell snack of almonds and cashews.
I am STILL cranky.
The squirrel does not say thank you or goodbye.
I sign surrender papers.
The vet comes out and explains the process of rehabbing where the squirrel gets to live outside where there are other squirrels running around free and get re-acclimated to behaving like a squirrel again. We are free to call in a week to check the squirrel's progress. My brother and sister can make the call. I am done.
I trudge back down Milton street with an empty kitty carrier, a lighter heart, and a lone hawk circles overhead. That's gotta be a sign the Universe is pleased with me. I did the right thing.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I'm a member of the Outer Alliance, a group supporting LGBT advocacy, and whose ranks are drawn from the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres and their supporters.
National Coming Out Day was yesterday. Sunday, October 11th, 2009. I spent part of it at a writer friend's house surrounded by gay men, straight women, one other person of color, and a feline. More people of all preferences and skin tones probably breezed in after I left.
We were there for the host, the food, and the liquid refreshment. What I appreciate about visiting with my LGBT friends is the aura of acceptance that radiates throughout their gatherings.
My friend greeted me with an unexpected kiss on the cheek. Endorphin levels rose. I happily followed him into his abode and I beamed my respects to the photo of his deceased male partner before I took up refuge in his kitchen in full view of the edibles.
I'm not much of a plunger, that is, I tend to hang back in new social situations. I'll speak if I'm spoken to and occasionally when I feel as if I can weigh I on a topic, I'll offer something first. Mostly, I try to radiate good vibes.
I am obviously an African descended person if one looks at me. It's also obvious that I'm what's called heavy-set. Most attractive men can feel my interest in them and it either evokes mutual enjoyment, timidity, or indifference. I will strut around in public with my miniature whip attached to my keychain, or in Black leather and my crop at my side, but I've never had to agonize over publically sharing who I am and who I crawl between the sheets with.
So I listened to my friend's guests discuss the LGBT old guard history, Chicago vs. Boston, the possibility of ejaculation without Viagra when one is post-70, and do-it-yourself remodeling. I smiled to myself because I thought even more people should have the opportunity to enjoy socializing with other sexual beings at peace with being themselves openly. And as always, I end my observances with...
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Like Twin Stars: Bisexual Erotic Stories
Edited by Cecelia Tan and Kelly Clark
Circlet Press, Inc
Disclosure: I received a free review PDF courtesy from the editor upon my own request.
Okay folks, get your bibs on. There's some literary treats ahead.
Some Anthologies deserve an extended metaphor. Allow me to regale you with such a gustatory conceit. Taste is a pretty basic matter for all of us, like that infamous three letter word.
Ya'll know it... s-e-x.
And not just vanilla sex, Peoples.
Spicy, sweet, and titillating just like her Tangh-i-ness likes it.
Some anthologies provoke the equivalent of indigestion. Others get devoured and still others are savored. Like Twin Stars: Bisexual Erotic Stories belongs in the latter category. As a writer m'self, I appreciate well-crafted words. I relish the strong flavor of sex without offending the senses or the mind that digests the entire confection.
I don't envy the editors' task of sifting through many tales to find the three that were intended to give the reader a consummate experience. It's like going to the candy store and having to choose between a bag of gummi bears with their chewy, gelatin delicacy, or a bag of peppermint candies that heat up the inside of one's mouth a bit before the sugar rush fades, and lastly a bag of M&Ms® with their fleeting crunch and central chocolate. Yumminess abounds any way one decides to go.
I'll start, in reverse order, with the digestif: The Travesties by Giselle Renarde.
Next, on the palate, is Neil Hudson's Incubus, Succubus.
And the apértif would be The Dancer's War by N.K. Jemisin.
Enter Nurse Clinician Sebastian Savant and the object of his passion—an intersexed person—Cam/ille.
Throw in a mini-history of an invented slang terminology, a predatory researcher, cisgender bias, and the lover who vanished and gorge.
After feasting upon The Travesties, I want to start chanting the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup jingle.
Mentally review the jingle with me now. Something about twos and tastes in a single mouthful right? Got the picture of what that story holds for consenting adults?
Moving right along....
Ready for a slow boil that results in a saccharine implosion?
The nameless, first-person, male narrator of Incubus, Succubus feels set apart from his world. This is a sexual coming-of-age story with a twist. I should have recognized the hint of otherworldly from the first sampling, but I didn't. The rustic, folktale milleu enchanted me right out of guessing the outcome of narrator's quest for erotic awakening, but I'm certain other readers will manage to fight off candy-induced stupors.
I've already waxed rapturously about N.K. Jemisin and her hot men in a previous novel review. I felt honor-bound to begin with the succulent tales from Renarde and Hudson because of it. Last-mentioned The Dancer's War is never least in my book. Remember this is the story that opens the anthology. Meet two more toothsome delights, in the persons of the bantam Elan of the Weavers-of-the-Cloud and the strapping Ansheara of the Ketuyae. Our two virile goodies engage in a battle of wills that begins on a dance ground and ends with both men in a compromising position for the titillation of assembled women. Her Tangh-i-ness was left fiending for more...more...more.
All compliments to the chefs go to the three writers, naturally. I finished well satisfied. With the editors I'll leave a simple request: a companion volume featuring three, bisexual female protagonists and their sexcapades.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Her Tangh-i-ness is back to the subject of writing mentors.
I've been promising that I'd share with you some of what I've been learning from the man I call Sensei. Sometimes, there are questions I don't even realize I want to ask myself. Whenever Steven Barnes brings one up, a part of me bristles.
"But he's established," my inner procrastinator whines, "of course, he can spout whatever he likes." Next, my inner taskmaster kicks in, "Ri-i-i-ight. Have you already forgotten he's where you'd like to be when you grow up?"
My inner procrastinator mumbles something to the effect of, "Now that you mention it...."
Please note the following words in the email below are the intellectual property of Steven Barnes. I have his permission to repost this material from his newsletter. Remember, I get this and other regular free teachings via my inbox. How's that for ease of instruction?
From: Steven Barnes
To: You know who
Sent: Thu, Jan 24, 2008 11:46 am
Subject: What if you KNEW you could not fail?
One of the most important questions anyone ever asked me.
What would you aspire to, if you KNEW you could not fail?
That's our question of the day. We limit ourselves in so many ways. Our heads are filled with ideas of what is not possible--for us, or for anyone. And yet the leaders and shapers of the world dare to dream beyond those limits. Sometimes they fail. So what? I remember someone saying to me: "Steve, you dream too big. You're setting yourself up for disappointment." So what? I'm a big boy. I can handle it.
But you know what I can't handle? Feeling that I'm not living up to my potential. That's just me. I imagine two scenarios:
1) At the moment of death, it is revealed to me that my dreams exceeded my capacities.
2) At the moment of death, it is revealed to me that my capacities exceeded my dreams.
I don't know about you, but the second one sucks. I would rather go all out, break my heart again and again and again, pick my self up bloody and bruised and hurl myself at the locked gate again, than slink off and nurse my wounds and join the "you can't win" crowd.
Now, better still is to simply operate in a Zen state of awareness where your normal daily activities, approached with intensity but not strain, naturally takes you through your personal evolution. Just awaken every day, chop wood and carry water, love your spouse, play with your children, play with your toys, tend your garden, rejoice in the life God gave you, and go to bed each night pleasantly exhausted and ready for renewal and a new day. Effort, but no strain. Just hunting and gathering and loving and giving and growing.
And I think that it starts by re-claiming your dreams. So ask yourself: What would you aspire to if you KNEW you could not fail? Choose goals in all three major arenas. Begin to move toward them. Find role models in all three areas, and determine their belief systems, mental syntax, and use of physiology. As you run into barriers, mark them on your mental "map": you are exploring the intersection of internal and external reality. As you experience fear investigate it, and see where your emotions are knotted. And every day, celebrate the joy of sheer existence.
Let' s make 2008 a fabulous year for all of us. There's enough joy to go around. Love, health, and success are not a zero-sum games.
The LIFEWRITING YEAR-LONG is the essence of everything I've learned in thirty years of professional writing. Everything that has helped me earn a living, support my family, and find personal fulfillment without selling out my dreams. Quite simply, there is nothing like it, anywhere. Period. What are you waiting for? Friend, you're all you've got. Today, this day, is all there is. Get MOVING!
©2008 Steven Barnes
Disclosure: Her Tangh-i-ness bought and paid for her own copy of Lifewriting for Writers program. The Lifewrite newsletter she subscribes to is totally free.