Friday, June 24, 2016

G'day, Mates...

     So… here I am, sweating my ass off. Still not feeling 100%, but doing okay. I know that several people have asked, and thanks for that.
   Now for what’s been going on this past week… As most of you know, I am in Australia. The TAT’s mum gifted me/us with an excursion into the outback of Oz, ending up at the top part where Darwin is. This is supposed to be their winter. Pfft… it’s hot. Each day has been in the 90’s here. Normally, I don’t really mind the heat, until it comes to bedtime. Then I tend to be a bit grumpy if I’m hot. Yeah, I’ve been a wee bit on the grumpy side. The a/c in the camper isn’t keeping up with the heat. Oh well, I’ve lived through a lot worse and we’ve only got 2 more days here and I intend to make the most of it. Alright, Zathyn Priest, you were right… it is hot up here. LOL
     I’ve learned a lot about this big country. There is a lot of culture, a lot of history and a lot of very handsome men. I think it is an unwritten law that most adult men must have great legs. I swear, at least 99.9% of the men here have the best looking legs I’ve ever seen. It really is astounding. Oh there was this one guy. I thought, ‘Wow, he’s got skinny legs, so it isn’t everyone’. Yeah, then he opened his mouth. He wasn’t an Aussie. So, there ya go. I’m back to great legs, and often, really cute butts to go with them! Oh, and this goes for men of all ages too.
     Another things I’ve observed while here. These guys aren’t waxing, shaving or manscaping. Woo-Hoo! I’m not sure about the ones in the larger cities, I admit. But the ones that I’ve seen around the outback are au natural. Just the way I like ‘em. Not that I’ve been able to sample any… damn it all to hell. Oh well, such is life.
     For those of you who keep up with me on other social media, you’ll know that we took a train from Uluru to Darwin. Along the way we stopped at Katherine’s Gorge and took a boat ride to see some of the oldest native rock paintings known to man. That was way cool.
     But back to the train…
     It was a truly magnificent experience. I felt as if I was in an old Agatha Christie novel. Had the sleeper stateroom. They had a bar and lounge. The restaurants, and yes, that was plural, and the kitchens, and yes, that was plural as well.
     Of course you know I’m going to talk about the food. The food? Superb. And yes, I did sample the local fare. Smoked emu: outstanding. The crocodile sausage, fantastic. The kangaroo, marvelous. The sauces were great as well. Plate presentation was beautiful. All this on a train!
     On a slight side note… I saw one of the cooks while waiting to board the train. I only wish he’d been on the menu. “I’d like him and a big bowl of whipped cream please.”
     The one thing that really impressed me on the Ghan, the name of the train, was the service. The dining experience was unbelievable. Great service. These people were trained extraordinarily well. Impeccable. I highly recommend this journey to anyone who might even consider it.
     A little about Darwin...
     This is a jewel of a little city. I thought it would be much larger, but it isn’t. We stopped for a brief visit to Fannie Bay. You just gotta love a place named that. Had a fantastic lunch. The water was so clear. It reminded me a bit of the Gulf of Mexico… just better. Oh, and they had this waiter… and yep, you guessed it… great legs. And boy was he purty.
    Let’s compare…
     I could never afford to live in Oz Land. Things here are so very expensive. The cost of living here is exorbitant. Why? Ahhh, here is the perfect argument against higher minimum wage, which I used to all for. Businesses will not just sit on their hands and say, “oh, okay, we’ll eat the extra charge it costs us to make something.” Nope, they are going to raise prices on goods and services so that their profit margins don’t take a nose dive. Yep, it’s a vicious cycle, and a lot of you don’t want to hear that, but that is the bottom line. Raising wages isn’t going to solve the problem of people living in poverty while working a full time job. Education is the key here I believe. No, not everyone is going to be cut out for college, but then we really aren’t promoting or paying for any vocational training either.
     Another thing is their medical care. I still shake my head in wonderment as to why we, the US don’t have universal health care. I think we are the only first world country who doesn’t. I do like the way the Aussies have set things up. Everyone has health care. Those who make a certain amount are obligated to have secondary insurance, or a private insurance policy. That takes the strain off basic healthcare. It all works. They also have dental and eye that is included. When was the last time you got premium eyeglasses for ten dollars?
     I’m glad to see that their politicians are just as fucked up as ours though. I guess there are some things that just don’t change. The one thing that is different, is that you don’t see a bunch of religious zealot nut-jobs running things. Come to think of it… I really don’t see many religious whackos anywhere. It just isn’t here.
     Words and language…
     They say they speak English, but… yeah, not so much. They abbreviate everything. If they don’t do that, then they have a nickname for it. It really does get a bit confusing. I will often look to TAT for translation. Oh, and words… oh hell, if I hear lovely one more time, I think I will hurl. I’m sure that is left over from the English, but fuck me, do you have to use it in every other sentence?
     Another one that is universally overused is actually two words. “No worries.” That seems to be the automatic response to just about everything. If someone says thank you? No worries. Sorry? No worries. I just stabbed your wife. No worries. AAaarrggghhh… find something else to say people, like you’re welcome. Although TAT says that is just as irritating in the States. Pfft… what does she know? No worries, mate!
    Alrighty then, time for me to sign off. I’m sorry I’ve not been around much, but the internet and phone service out this way tends to be a bit hit or miss. I’d like to thank Graeme Cheater and his partner, Darryl for their hospitality and letting us use their internet. They’ve been great hosts here in Bachelor! And damn, what beautiful gardens they have.
     Did you do something nice for someone this week? I bet you did. You may not have even noticed it. Keep on though, it will come back to you.
     Have a grrreat week, y’all.
     (I have tons of photos that will share at a later time... of the trip! Get your minds out of the gutter.)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Open and Honest

     So… I sit here wondering WTF! Bear with me while I try and sort it all out. I can’t guarantee is will make sense.
     Some things I’ve been feeling…
     Sadness. Depression. Pain. Tired. Lifeless. Sluggish. PAIN. Joy.
     I’d actually considered giving up writing. That’s not quite correct… I did make the decision to give up writing. Why? There were several reasons. I’ll only go into one though: mean people. There are some really awful people out there. Hurtful. Spiteful. Nasty. I’m talking about some of the folks who are in the M/M romance world. Yeah, that was part of it. The other part, while also part of this whole genre, is very personal. I’m not going into it because I’d like to think that I’m not one of those who are hurtful, spiteful and just downright nasty. But damn, it hurt and pushed all my buttons. Then of course I got mad and that is where I left it. When I can’t say anything nice, its best to just keep my mouth shut… which is really, really hard for me.
     I’ve also had some medical things going on, which are also personal. And no, I’m not going into that either. As far as I’m concerned, whining is not the answer. I don’t want sympathy or pity. However, it does contribute to a lot of the feelings I’ve been having. ‘Nough said.
     Pain… I can’t even express of my shock and sadness at what occurred in Orlando. Not only was it close to home, but the sheer magnitude of senseless slaughter of innocent children. Yeah, most were kids in my eyes. Cut down before they even had a chance to know themselves. To share all the love and joy that they would no doubt have experienced.
     Okay, and yes, I snuck off and left the country. Now, part of that was unexpected and a wonderful surprise for me. Unfortunately, it came at a time when I was physically not all that well and also caught me completely off guard. While I was supposed to go to Europe, my doctor actually forbid it. After undergoing some treatment, I was given the okay to proceed along with some new medications. With some finagling, a lot of last minute planning, I left for Australia. I was concerned at first, and while I didn’t feel all that great, I’m glad I did.
     I am having a wonderful time, even though I’m having to take it much slower than I’d like. I hate feeling like an old man, but… well can’t help it. Not sure if it is part of the new medications or part of the last treatment, or what exactly, but my ass sure is dragging. Don’t walk too close behind me or you’ll for step on it.
     On top of all this, I had three book releases all going on at once. My Hero: They Olympian came out in French and Italian. I was supposed to be in Italy during its release, and that makes me so sad that I had to miss that. I was then supposed to go to Paris to celebrate its release, which broke my heart. The city that captured my heart, the readers and so many friends I didn’t get to see. That put me into such a funk, I can’t even express how down I was when I didn’t get to go.
     Then, ‘Life After Living’ was going up for pre-sale and then was released day before yesterday. I should have been promoting it but with lack of internet and almost no energy, I had to sit back and hope for the best. I do have to thank the loyal readers who did pre-order. I hope that you enjoy the book. I put a lot of time into researching this novel. It is unlike anything I’ve done before. It does seem like I say that about most of my books. LOL I try and keep things mixed up I guess.
     I’ll come back to the book release in a bit…
     Then yesterday… I got a huge surprise. Something that made me smile and give me hope. We stopped at a little roadhouse that is literally in the middle of nowhere in the Outback of Australia. There was an Aboriginal art gallery attached to this… shack of a building. What is the first thing I see? I see rainbows. Quite a few rainbows. Art. Here, in the middle of the desert of Oz is a group of native artists who have painted rainbow art, all of them titled ‘Pride’.
     I turned to TAT and asked, “Am I seeing this correctly?” And yes, she confirmed I was. All I could say was “Wow”. Yeah… just wow. I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that the curator/saleman was family. I also have a sneaking suspicion that he may actually be Mr. Dixon Mumu, the artist of the piece I purchased. Not certain, but… I just got that feeling.
     Anyway… that small little thing, which isn’t really all that small, made me smile. And yes, it made me proud. I wish I could have gone and hugged each and every artist that had participated in celebrating Gay Pride Month. I wish I could have photographed the exhibit, but it was strictly forbidden. It really touched my heart, my soul and more importantly, made my day.
     OUCH… that hurt so good…
     Alright, so Aleksandr Voinov kinda kicked me in the ass the other day. I expressed my disappointment in the M/M community and told him of my decision to quit writing. After a fairly long chat, I decided to reconsider that decision. He gave me his ideas and some solutions to how I was feeling. We’ll have to see how that goes. But thank you kind sir. Your words of wisdom were not wasted.
     And now… Lynn Schmitz… I am continually amazed and the energy and strength of this woman. Why do I mention her? Well this is why. Follow this link and you’ll see. No it isn’t by her, but it could have been. Whenever I see something about PFLAG, I think of Lynn and all the time she commits.

     Thank you, Lynn, for all you do.
     Alrighty then…
     About ‘Life After Living’… here is a brief excerpt.
     After a trip to the bathroom, Vance made his way to the coffee maker. He stood there a moment, mystified as to why there was no coffee. As the cobwebs finally cleared he remembered that Jeff was no longer here. He was the one who had always set up the coffee maker the night before. Sighing heavily, Vance went about making coffee.
     “Was it four or five scoops?” Vance asked out loud, even though he was the only person there.
     The black-and-white Border collie, Bonnie, cocked her head to one side as she watched the human struggling with making a simple pot of coffee. Vance looked down at the dog. “If you think it’s so easy, you do it.”
     Bonnie whined and then turned and went out through the doggie door.
     “Yeah, didn’t think so,” Vance grumbled while he filled the pot with water.
     When the smell of coffee started filling the kitchen Vance sat down on one of the stools at the breakfast bar and waited. He looked out the window over the sink. It was another beautiful sunrise. The sight was so familiar that he could close his eyes and still visually see the hues of deep purple fading to pink that would turn to pale yellow as the sun rose higher in the sky. Even so, it was as if his eyes were open, he had it so firmly imbedded in his mind. It was a sight that he never grew tired of. Only now he would be seeing it each morning alone. Jeff was gone.
      And the video blurb… 

Life After Living

     What you might want to know about this book… I did a lot of research for this book… a whole lot. It is quite different from what I’ve written previously I think. I wanted to take the approach of getting to know each character slowly. To let the relationship build in a non-romantic way. Oh and… well there is almost no sex. Yep, you heard it here. There is some… but nothing like what I normally write. It is all about raw emotion. There is pain. There is growth. There is love. The biggest thing I’d like for everyone to take away from this book is understanding. Might want some tissues for this one, because… I did my best to rip your heart out. I do give it back to you, but you’ll have to finish the book to get it. So ha! If you do cry, big ugly, snotty nose cry, then I’ve done my job. But honestly, it really is about putting you, the reader, into someone else’s shoes for a while. I hope you take up the challenge. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Buy Links:

     In closing… I admit I’ve not done much of anything for anyone else in a while. I think it is due to me closing myself off from the world. I’m going to make a concerted effort to change that. I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, would you please consider doing something for someone else? It would make me feel better.
     That’s all I’ve got for now. Have a grrreat week y’all.
Okay, one small photo...