The Business of Gay Pride

Queer Money

We’re here.

At work last night, one of the other employees asked me how I felt about some of the signs she saw at Boston’s Pride parade this weekend. I stopped going to Pride a few years ago because I have difficulty with crowds, so I didn’t even know this was an issue. Some people seem to have a problem with corporations being involved in our community events.

Coming up with my opinion was easy. Those people don’t know anything about our people’s history and need to put their signs in the recycle bin–and stop pi##ing me off. We not only invited companies in, there was a time when we begged them.

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-06-22/features/1993173190_1_gay-money-gay-and-lesbian-words-gay

We were dying. Everyone was dying. Our friends were all wasting away in hospital beds and nobody cared. The president ignored us. He wouldn’t even say the name of the disease in public. Other groups helped us as much as they could–NAACP, NOW, etc. But it all had to be behind the scenes. They couldn’t (for the integrity of their own missions) be publicly associated with the mass death. I don’t hold that against them at all and appreciate everything they did… but we needed public attention.

Horton-whoThat’s when we turned to capitalism. This was back before the internet and before all transactions were electronic or plastic. We had cash. Every bill we had got stamped with a pink triangle (at the time, our main symbol) and the words “gay money,” “queer money,” “lesbian money.” We had to show businesses that a vast, untapped core of potentially loyal DINKs (double income, no kids) were not only going to waste, but wasting away. So, like the Whos only Horton could hear, we tried yet another way to raise our voices.

It worked. First, it was the alcohol companies. Bud Light started pouring money into our community, then Absolut.

The first time I saw a lesbian couple in a Subaru commercial, I cried. Companies were paying attention and putting us in front of a deaf and blind nation.

As a side note… it’s always the lesbians first. They aren’t as threatening and don’t invoke the same violent reactions from straight people as we do. I’ve come to terms with that and appreciate them for being the bridge.

(AP Photo / Eric Riserg)

Now, law enforcement, banks, airlines, politicians, and tons of other industries and sectors of the population march in solidarity with us every year. It’s a miracle, not a travesty. As long as they have no say in our message, I appreciate them all so much.

My point is, we begged companies to pay attention, and they did. We can’t bitch about it now. I realize the younger generation doesn’t know what we went through–and for the love of the gods, I hope they never do–but they need to have some idea of their community’s history before they form their opinions and make a public stand like that.

Ricky

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Seeing Bipolar from the Other Side

Volcano

I took a part-time job a few evenings a week. Partly to make up a small income gap (that is quickly closing, thankfully) and partly because I never even knew what day of the week it was. It adds a little more structure and time constraints to my week. I do much better when I know I have to have things done by a certain time. Anyway…

There’s a guy at work who has one of the most severe cases of bipolar I’ve ever seen… except for in the mirror. It’s fascinating watching it from the outside. Our coworkers say the exact same things about him that mine used to say about me. “He’s a really nice guy, but…” Then the side-eye thing happens before they finish the sentence.

I know exactly how to deal with him. I don’t deal with him. Whenever he gets furious, I leave him alone. As soon as he vents about something, it passes. If he holds it in, the events and conversations that led up to whatever triggered the anger play on a loop in his head along with future conversations and confrontations that would resolve it. That causes more anger, loss of sleep, and more looped thoughts. It’s horrible and can only be remedied by letting it out. Then it’s gone, the cycle is broken and life returns to normal… for him, not necessarily for the people in the path of the anger. When he snaps at me, I let it roll off my back. Within seconds, he’s moved past it and will never think about it again, so I don’t either.

I know these things because they are me.

I usually don’t ask people directly about their ‘issues.’ With him, I couldn’t help it. He said that his doctor had put him on Prozac (the absolute WRONG meds for bipolar) and his personality disappeared, so he stopped taking it. I was prescribed an anti-anxiety med for a little while that did the same thing, so I definitely get it.

It was kind of nice discussing it with someone who has as acute a case as I do. I went on anti-convulsive drugs a couple of years ago that pretty much evened everything out and I don’t admit it often, the only thing I miss is the ever-present rage.

That makes me sound like a horrible person, but when you’re so used to having a single, underlying emotion for thirty years and it dissipates, a lot of adjusting has to happen. It was nice talking to someone else who knew the almost comfort of having a center of roiling lava at his core.

wildcats

Not this kind of wildcat…

When ‘normal’ people go to their happy place in their head, I always hear about beaches, hammocks on mountains, and other things. I would relax back into a hot pool of rage that raised my heart rate and made me feel invincible. It reminded me that no matter what happened, I would be able to go down fighting like a pissed off wildcat.

Now, when I close my eyes and relax, my heart rate drops and I feel peaceful. That’s not a bad thing, I guess–it’s just different. And even a few years in, I’m not completely sure how I feel about it.

This is how all teen dramas should be: Andi Mack

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Payton Elizabeth Lee from Andi Mack pic attributed to Disney Channel

I really hope the CW is paying attention to what Disney is doing with Andi Mack. I know… Disney?

This show is incredible. The characters are well rounded. (Except that blond chick… so far. They really need to work on her ‘villain’ role.) But, Disney has not only brought out their first openly gay character. But, the mother in the series is an actual person. How often does that happen in a teen–or possibly tween, I’m not sure–drama? She is struggling with how to be a mother, how to fix her relationship with her daughter and her own mother.

The emotions of the kids feel age appropriate but not contrived, saccharine, or stomach-turningly trite.

So, while the Million Moms–or whatever they’re called–are probably having a collective aneurysm, this guy who loves storytelling and great characters is standing up and cheering. Even adults will love this show.

Thanks, Disney for upping your game and giving us something new, charming, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Ramses the Damned sequel

RamsesBooks are definitely my life. I can pretty much tell you where I was, physically and stage of life, when I read any of the thousands of books I’ve picked up over the years. Some have had way more impact than others.

Ages ago, a friend of mine died… actually, during those years everyone was dying, but this only deals with Donnie. I wasn’t terribly close to him, but I was best friends with his wife. So, when he died, he left me two of his collections: far more ceramic unicorns than any sane person should own and a stack of Anne Rice books. The unicorns are long gone. I can’t even remember how I finally dumped them. The books though, they got me through some seriously difficult times and are tattooed on my brain. By that time, I was living in Baton Rouge and spending a lot of time in New Orleans, so I guess that makes sense.

Like any rabid fan of… well, anything, I had strong opinions about every one of her books. The vampire series grew more esoteric as it progressed and it lost quite a few people–people I obviously looked down on, because ‘they just don’t get it.’ (I was young) The first book of the Mayfair series started out painfully slow, but was so worth wading through. The stand-alones were tough, but that was more because of my expectations than her story-telling. And, the words at the end of Ramses the Damned were a promise that sent waves of happiness through me.

As time went by, I lost hope. The years dragged on with no word that the promise “The Adventures of Ramses the Damned Shall Continue” would ever be fulfilled. Then, any remnant of hope was squashed when she returned to her Catholic faith, declared she wouldn’t write any more vampire books (and it was pretty obvious that immortal Egyptian pharaohs were included in that), and started writing books about angels. I didn’t even bother trying to read those at the time–but I may go back and pick them up just for the hell of it.

Thankfully, that didn’t last. She announced her break with the church because of a particular piece of their doctrine and said that a new Lestat novel was coming. I preordered the instant I could and vibrated with excitement for months while I waited for the all-mighty Amazon to drop a copy in my lap. When it finally came, I took off the second half of my workday so I could start reading… and I couldn’t get into it.

That’s not a comment on her writing, it’s more of a product of a change in my palate. I’m older now, with different tastes, and used to streamlined writing. It was very hard for me to read her writing style with a modern setting. I couldn’t pull my head out of editor mode. So, when I heard that the sequel to Ramses was coming after more than twenty five years of anticipation, I panicked. I was excited, but upset too. What if the same thing happened?

It had been a lifetime since I’d read “Ramses the Damned,” so I picked it up again to prepare. It was just as fantastic as I remembered. Because it is a period piece (early 1900s), her writing style fit perfectly and my critique brain kicked back and let my happy, reading-as-a-fan brain dive in.

That’s when I realized why I’d had trouble with Prince Lestat. She can be wordy and a little repetitive. I’m not used to that anymore. But, for some reason, because of the setting and time, it felt perfectly normal, and the book was just as wonderful as I remembered.

The morning I was plowing through the last few chapters, Amazon dropped “Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra” into my Kindle. I didn’t miss a beat. The second I finished the first one again, I went straight to the second one.

I’ve read reviews that complain about the repetition. But, because I’d just finished the first one, I couldn’t tell what was the necessary recap and what was repetition. And, when the story took off, I didn’t give a damn either way.

She introduced so many things that I hadn’t thought of when I read the first one. (Not a spoiler – it’s laid out in the first scene of the book) Of course Ramses wouldn’t have been the only person to have drunk the elixir – and of course, people who were immortal would still be alive. I was a little embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of that before. I chalk it up to being so engrossed in the story that I didn’t have time to worry about the implications. And, I’m sure there are other things I’m still missing that can be used for future books — for the love of the gods, please let there be future books — because this one is fast paced and engrossing too.

I keep saying ‘her,’ but Christopher Rice co-authored the book. I’ve read his books as well and can see his touches here and there, but it’s seamless – and an absolute must-read.

If you are, or have ever been, a fan of either of them, definitely pick up this book. It was worth the wait!

 

Also, on the subject of Christopher Rice… when his book “A Density of Souls” came out, I took the Green Line far out into the Boston burbs to an author event where he did a reading, discussion, and signing. I’ve arranged and hosted hundreds of book signings in my day and rarely bothered to travel to other ones, because they just get old after a while. But, I loved the book and, for some reason, hadn’t even thought to try to book him, so I went.

The crowd was small and he was wonderful. When the Q&A time came, 90% of the questions the audience had were about his mother. I was mortified. The guy had stepped out, written an incredible book, and people were more interested in someone else. If I were hosting the event, I would have politely stepped in and refocused the discussion – but alas… Anyway, he was incredibly gracious about it, probably because he was used to it. But, that made me even more sad. Bottom line–don’t do that!

In closing, pick up the new book – they did a fantastic job of continuing an amazing story.

 

Failure, etc.

It_s one of the god_s great gifts that men get to carry their favorite toys with them everywhere.As the master of setting goals that are far too lofty for my, and sometimes any sane human’s, abilities, I am used to eating crow. Whenever I hear someone use the words “failure is not an option,” my response is, “Oh, yeah? Hold my beer.”

Conventional wisdom is that a writer needs to write every day. Since I stopped working for other people and decided to write full-time, I took that advice seriously — and because my eating now depends on my writing, I took it to the nth degree.

Then I suddenly looked up (with exhaustion) and realized that I hadn’t taken a day off in over a month. That wasn’t such a big deal back in the days when I worked two or three jobs at once. I’m pretty sure that between 1992 and 1998, I didn’t take even one day off. But that was way back in the 1900s. Even though I’m still in perfect health and as strikingly handsome as ever (there are some people giggling right now who really need to stop), I also went from walking between 14 and 20 miles a day to sitting on my butt typing five or six hours a day for a month. I hit burn-out mode a lot easier.

So, all that to say that I bit off more than I could chew with the push for 10,000 words a day for a week straight. Now the question is, what to do with a setback?

The answer is, not a damned thing. It is what it is. I beat myself up for a day or two, and thought about applying to be someone’s secretary. But, my dream is still my dream and if it’s ever going to happen, it needs to be now.

I’m going to take one day off every week. No social media, no blogs, no writing, nothing. Well, except for notes about my WIP that pop into my head constantly. But, that will be a few quick scratches in my notebook and then putting it out of my mind.

I still believe in the story I was working on. The world needs more slightly goofy, barely sexy superheroes. Right? And, now I have way over half of it written! I’ve never pushed out that many words in that amount of time – so in the end, it was a pretty amazing experiment. Despite its abject failure.

Failure’s always an option – sometimes it’s just inevitable. What happens afterward (after a little pouting) is what’s important. I hope.

RW WR

Day 5

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You ever set out to do something insane, and realize half-way through exactly how insane it is? I couldn’t post last night because I didn’t want to touch another key.

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I have a Yeti microphone and Dragon set up on my laptop… I may see what I can do with that today. About a year ago, I was working with it and had gotten pretty good at saying my punctuation (period) But (comma) it’s been a while and will take some getting used to again (period) (new paragraph)

I took some time to sit by the beach this morning and watch the sun come up and read more of the Robert Crais book I’m working my way through.

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Now, I’m ready to knock myself out again. Bring it on. Oh, and I was right about appreciating the very detailed outline – I’m definitely going to do that in the future when I have more than a few days to write.

RW WR DP

Days 3 and 4

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Where’d 3 Go??

As anyone who knows me will tell you; if the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, I’m foreman of Satan’s Public Works crew.

I had a set back yesterday morning when I woke up panicking about money. So, I took one of the short-stories I’d written and just needed to edit and spent about five hours taking care of that and getting it up on Amazon. It paid off… a little. Today I had my largest number of page reads on KPD since I started putting stories up, but very few of the reads were from the new one. Go fig. That makes six stories up. Maybe when I get to 45 or so, I can pay my bills.

Anyway, after all that work on something else yesterday and a few hours running into Boston to get bookshelves for my office today, here is my word count –

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I’m only about 6,000 words behind. Doable. And I still have a little time to work tonight.

One great thing I’m getting out of this is something I’ve tried to cultivate every time I failed NANOWRIMO – which I always do. It seems that I’m developing the ability to explore. I’ve never really done that before.

I had a character show up that I hadn’t planned for. Her name is Henrietta. She’s a bartender and everyone calls her Henri — and I can’t use her. The love interest’s name is Hector and the names look too close. So, I’ll keep her but try to come up with another name I like. I need a female bartender for my noir series – so Henri’s going to live there.

I had neuropsych testing done earlier this year and the doctor told me that my thinking is very linear and rigid. She actually said, “I’m not a career counselor, but if I were, I would probably tell you that being a writer’s not a good idea. Graphic designer – something like – much better.”

Being a stubborn jerk (actually, a stubborn jerk who spent almost $100,000 on a writing degree and has never, ever wanted to do anything else), I decided to ignore her and just figure out workarounds for my shortcomings.

 

RW WR DP

 

Day Two

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Ok, I was setting out to expand the outline today. I didn’t do so well. Even keeping the expansion scant, I got too much into writing the story and made the outline of each chapter way too big. Dialogue would jump into my head and come out my fingers. My usual chapter is about 1,600 words, and the outlines for a few of these chapters are over 1,000 words. So I wrote about 10,000 words just to outline 14 chapters. Insanity. I might as well just start writing the book.

I’m sure I’ll appreciate the over-work over the next few days, but it was frustrating today. So I exported the outline into Scrivener…

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did a little writing to give myself a head start on tomorrow…

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At least I know exactly what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and how everyone will react when it does. Tomorrow is the first of the massive writing days.

Wish me luck,

RW WR DP

Day One

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It’s the end of day 1, and I’m wiped out. My brain is jelly. As for using the software, I ditched that idea around six hours ago. It is sooooooo detailed that there’s no way I could finish in two days. It will be great when I’m trying to suss out characters and stories in the future, but since I’ve been living with these people in my head for a few years, I feel I already know them well enough. I didn’t ditch the Outlining Your Novel stuff altogether though. It’s actually the backbone of my outline.

I plugged it into an Excel sheet. She tells you approximately when the major points of your story should happen for the most impact.

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I know that there are people out there who feel that takes some of the art from storytelling… I say bullshit. It actually capitalizes on the wisdom of tens of thousands of years of storytellers.

I decided that I want the novel to be about 70,000 words. My chapters run between 1,600 and 2,000 words. That just seems to be the usual rhythm of my arcs. So, I had Excel tell me approximately in which chapters I needed this important stuff to happen. Below you can see – Inciting Incident at 12%, Key Event at 20%, and it goes on. Then I added blank chapters between them and filled them up. To keep the timeline straight, I highlighted each chapter in green, different shades for each day.

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I decided that the best way to tell the story is from a mixture of two different POV’s. I’ve never done this before. Every other chapter is highlighted in red. That’s the First Person POV of Zach. The other chapters are Third Person through either Hector’s or Savage’s POV, depending on who best advances the story. Below is the entire thing. Seven days, a lot of danger, a love story line with a happy ending, etc.

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Then, eyeballs burning, fingertips aching, shoulders cramping, I moved on to the next step. I split-screened this very skimpy outline with Outlinely and dove in on the expansion.

 

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I got to the end of Chapter 8 and my brain and ass cramped. I have to stop for the day. I should be able to expand the other 36 chapters tomorrow. Woohoo. I know I can do this!

RW, WR, DP

Book in 12 Days

IMG_0646Ok, I sat at the beach and wrote all this in my notebook yesterday, was going to type it up when I got home, and post it. Unfortunately, I finally talked my roommate into watching Stranger Things and we ended up binge watching six episodes. No more work was done. So, here’s what should have gone up yesterday — be warned, because of what I have planned, I won’t have time to edit, so the next 13 posts will be a little rough around the edges.

Book in 12 days Experiment

As a scattered nut-job with ADHD, one of the biggest fears I have is that something will slip through the cracks. There are so many things I want to do and so many things I’ve started (and not finished) that it seriously makes me queasy.

I think I’ve finally gotten myself relatively organized with Evernote, Asana, and Scrivener. They are my outer-brains and help free up room and reduce chaos in the brain that’s rattling around in my skull.

Right now all I have to do is write. I should be blowing this thing out of the water – and compared to my past performance, I am.

In the last three weeks, I’ve released five stories on Amazon. They’ve all been rattling around my Scrivener files for a couple of years, but still. That’s an infinite improvement over the past. But, I’m starting to bump against another problem.

I have so many things I want to work on that I can’t decide what to do next. That leads to paralysis. I’m equally passionate about all of them, under all my pen-names. There’s no easy way to choose.

So, here’s what I did. I assigned them all a number, 1 – 25 (told you the list was out of control) and used a random number generator to pick for me. I got number 23.

Thats a full-length superhero novel. It will take some world building and a whole lot of firming up. There are definitive scenes I want to include, definite plot points, etc. But 80% of the book is hazy. Since there’s no Magic 8 Ball for story structure (maybe I should invent that), I’m going to turn to the next best thing.

I’ve been listening to I Should be Writing for ages and have so much respect for K.M. Weiland’s advice. I snapped up her outlining book & workbook ages ago. I’ve read through them, discussed them with my writing group, and even made a meticulous Scrivener template from it. Have I ever actually outlined a whole book with it. Hell, no.

The day her companion software came out, I grabbed that too. I installed it immediately, played around for about an hour, then got dressed and left for work. I hadn’t touched it since until last night.

Now, I’m going to challenge myself publicly (autocorrect tried to make that “public alley”). I will plan, write, and edit my Superhero book in 12 days. I will be accountable to whoever is reading this. Even if I’m yelling into a void here, I’m going to act like there are thousands of you watching.

If you are reading this on my own personal or writing advice blogs, you probably won’t want to read the book when it’s done. Though it’s not erotica, there are some pretty graphic sex scenes that are integral to the plot – I’ll let you decide. The random generator picked an NSFW title.

If you are reading this on a page with bookcovers featuring shirtless men – I would like anyone who wants to beta-read the book to get in touch with me – I’ll let you know about the content then, to see if you are comfortable with it. I ask that anyone who wants to sign up be able to read and give notes within three weeks of getting the book. I mean, hell, if I can write it in less than two… Surely someone’s willing. I doubt I’ll have to set a limit, because nobody knows me under that name. (Or this name, depending where you’re reading this.)

I’ll break the days down like this…

August

24 – Work through detailed outline process using KM’s ‘Outline Your Novel” book, workbook and software.

25 – continue outline. I’m giving myself two days with the outline, because the software is insanely detailed and I’m factoring in my learning curve. Hopefully, when it spits out a Scrivener file, the story will be told and I will just have to write it. Fingers crossed.

26 – Sept 1 Write 10,000 a day

Sept

2 and 3 Edit and add in ideas that occur to me after scenes are already written – you know that always happens.

4 Final edit – where I make my computer read it to me and I tweak dialogue, etc.

5 Send to beta-readers

I’ll blog about the process — in broken, almost unintelligible sentences probably. And, I guess this will be my review of the ‘Outlining Your Novel’ software too. She recommends up to three months for the outline. I just checked the ‘created’ date on the file I made when the idea hit me, 8/16/14. I think that’s long enough to be rattling around in my head.

Since this is going out on three blogs,

RW, WR, and DP