Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Racist Republicans Strike Again, Against Their Own

Poor Zoraida Fonalledas with Prince Riebus

I heard about Zori Fonalledas, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Permanent Organization & a Republican delegate from Puerto Rico was shouted down as she was introduced. Some called it blatant racism. Others, Republican honchos, claimed it was a carry over from some vote about not seating some Ron Paul delegates. I decided to watch what occurred just before she was introduced, & YES there was some flak about the vote. BUT, it had died down by the time Prince Riebus began to introduce her. Almost as soon as the word Puerto Rico got out of his mouth, the chants of USA & Get them Out! began ringing throughout the floor. So the excuse that this was about sour grapes on the part of Paul supporters doesn't cut it.

It's a shame that Puerto Ricans have been citizens since 1898, have contributed the 2nd most troops of any US state or territory, and have to be greeted like this. Even after Riebus bangs his gavel to demand the appropriate respect, you can hear the chanting, albeit quieter. ...& the Republicans wonder why they have such a hard time attracting Hispanics to their ranks.

Thanks to a handy C-SPAN feature that let's you make your own clip, I've provided what I looked at so you can judge for yourself. 

Tonight, Luis   Fortuño , Republican Governor of Puerto Rico gets his turn on the dais. I'm sure by then, all the thugs will finally be in lockstep, and yesterday's debacle will be all but forgotten. But don't be surprised if anti-Hispanic hatred spills over, yet again.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Peer Review

I've had plenty of people that have read Killing Lilith in various stages of its evolution. While a few have been taken aback at its content, everyone who's read it has, at least, found a profound appreciation for the quality of the work. Many have given it very high praise.

David Kirschner, who you may recognize as the creator of Chucky from the Child's Play movies, as well as the producer behind An American Tail, Hocus Pocus,  & Miss Pottergot his hands on it and enjoyed it so much he was supposed to help me find representation at CAA. Sadly, I lost DK to divorce. But still, I had a thirty minute conversation with one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, and most of it was about how he could not put down my novel. He began reading it one night, discovered his file was corrupted, and called his assistants to immediately get an uncorrupted version. I wish I had something in writing to share, but our emails were used, purely, to set up the phone call. Had I the foresight, I would've found a way to record the call.

Most recently, I received feedback from Tracy Byrnes. Tracy is part of my writing crit group. The only reason you may not have heard her is because she hasn't really shared her writing with the world, yet. She will, when she's ready, and you'll love it. I know I'd be willing to host a blog to showcase her writing!

I love Tracey's writing. More than that, I'm in love with Tracy's writing. She's like a contemporary Erma Bombeck with the sharp wit of Dorothy Parker. It's the Erma Bombeck part, however, that is of interest in relation to Lilith.

You see, while Lilith can be quite graphic, albeit not gratuitously so, it can't stand on that alone. It has to appeal to the average reader on a level that they can enjoy the rest of the novel. Gratuitous or not, if reader's think it's gratuitous, they will be less willing to explore Lilith's deeper themes.

In a sense, Tracy is the most important part of my target audience, that stalwart, middle-class girl next door, but smarter, who reads. As such, I was delighted to hear that Tracy truly enjoyed reading Killing Lilith. Rather than summarize her thoughts, I got permission to share her words with you:

I’m impressed. I think you’ve written a well-constructed story that proceeds beautifully from one chapter to the next. There were no wild jumps, nowhere I felt confused in time or space. The writing, as usual for you, is elegant and often eloquent.
You’re very successful, I think, in drawing the world of the chat room. It’s not an arena I know well, or even have much interest in, but you make it relatable, reasonable (an outlet, is all, a stage, of course everyone needs that) and fill it with moody suspense. Characters, chatters, take shape through just a few lines. And they are memorable. I’m thinking of Bill who wanted to talk about his dead son – a desperate question unanswered…I thought, I get it, I get it!
I can’t decide about Lilith – do I understand or not? Like her or not? She’s not that crazy, that’s the part that kills me. She seems to have extraordinary insights into her own life, failures, family. She’s smart. She knows what she did/does wrong. It’s completely sane to be depressed. Sane to fantasize about death, disappearance. I personally identify with the inability to DO…or the talking yourself out of doing. And that guilt/frustration.  To get off the lazy river inner tube, finally, and swim!  But – she means to DESTROY her children, in a way. I read advice chats online and they dip into darkness more often than you might guess, so I know that parents don’t always love their children. I can believe it. Still, I don’t exactly like her for not leaving them with something, anything better than Just Jack.
I liked the title “Forever , Lilith” better. As in the note she leaves– the whole idea of a punchy sign-off, making a mark on everyone’s psyche that will last. Somebody made you change it?
Slo, I like. God help me. Your details, once we meet him in the flesh, are just perfect. Trailer with Bargain Couch – a still life.  I love the clean bedroom (that he cleaned his bedroom!), the tiny shower, the croissant egg sandwich. And the tears. Your story, it’s almost a romance. Maybe is one.
You make the right choice with the ending, I think, although I have to say that I’m a sucker for neat, wrapped up The-Ends like the kind in children’s books. So I’ll have to suffer not knowing, exactly, or feeling quite finished.
I know I’m way late in sending you Official Thoughts. But I wouldn’t advise much change anyway. It’s time to let this one go, and see. It’s a page-turner. It’s disturbing. I felt uncomfortable reading it at times, and also comfortable, and understood. Which is to say, well done. I’m wishing you the BEST of the best with the next step in the process, and the next.
Well, there you have it. High praise from a most valued reader. Now let's hope I can pull in some of those Fifty Shades of Sh— You know what, if you can't say anything nice...

Want to become a part of the Lilith experience? Check out Killing Lilith's Facebook page and press "like."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dream Catcher

I was invited to contribute a tale to REDLINES: Baltimore 2028, an anthology of speculative fiction edited by Jason Harris to be released, anon. After many delays & much contemplation, I came up with Dream Catcher. Below is a snippet, just so you can sniff it. I'll let you know (of course) when it's available. & come to the release event at the Living Well (2443 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218) on September 28.

My eyes open at six. I sit up, touch my pad on, and begin reviewing my dreams. I don’t remember them. I never do. I know why. They’re boring. There are a few good ones—sex dreams, dreams where I’m bouncing over trees and buildings, dreams of flying. Those are few and far between.

I touch my keyboard up and type in some basic descriptions—shaving in a desert with sand and a rock, a ride on a bus next to a stranger speaking gibberish, in a laundromat waiting for a dryer. Mundane things. A waste of time.

A beautiful girl. I hope this is a sex dream. She stares at me. She says, “Be free,” and walks away. I want to follow her. I can’t. I have to go to work. I touch some music on—top forty—and head for the shower.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hey Dude, Kiss Me!

I might be kissing a man today. This is nothing new. I’m an affectionate guy who’s been known to smooch the occasional lucky fella. But tomorrow’s kiss would be, by far, the most important hombre á hombre smackdown of my life. You see, tomorrow’s Same Sex Kiss at Chik-fil-A Day, a protest of the company’s head’s words and deeds with regards to same sex marriage. ChiK-fil-A boss Sam Cathy speaks out against the trend of accepting the civil marriage rights of all people. He spends his customer’s money, or at least a sizable portion, on efforts to stop Our progress towards a society that treats all our citizens equally.

My kiss would come on the heels of a counter-protest on August 1, where many of our less enlightened American friends and families defended Cathy’s right, as an American himself, to say and spend as much as he wants to defend traditional marriage. Most were bigots, afraid that gay culture will pervade, worse—pervert, what it means to be American. “God hates fags!”

Some who claim to support progress got in the long line to fill Chik-fil-A’s tills, plenty of it which will undoubtedly be dumped into Cathy’s moot war. “I support gay rights, but I LOVE chicken!”

There are a few who have taken the opportunity to poopoo marriage all together, saying that it’s something the government shouldn’t be involved it at all, ignoring things like the tax benefits of marriage, or the ability to put a spouse on one’s insurance, etc. “Marriage is a dumb institution anyway.”

Then there are those who’ll dismiss my kiss as just a stupid prank that doesn’t even call to light all the other organizations that donate to anti-gay marriage causes, many of them retail operations, like Chik-fil-A, who nobody’s paying attention to, much less boycotting. “You’re wasting your time!”

 The thing is, I don’t want to live in a nation where our morals are dictated to us by a narrow interpretation of someone else’s religious views. Giving special creedance to one group's religious morals over another’s is downright disrespectful, not to mention unconstitutional. I’m not going to discuss what some mayors are opting to do by blocking Chik-fil-A from  their cities and towns. That does raise issues of censorship, but has nothing to do with my kiss.

I don’t expect the naysayers to approve of my possible man-to-man kiss, later today, whether I raise their homophobic hackles, their chicken-loving hackles, their anti-all-marriage hackles, or their there-are-more-important-things-to-do hackles. The great thing is that this is America. I don’t need anyone to approve of my actions. The only person I have to justify my kiss to is myself, and I do that just fine. You see, I am a culture warrior, and we are at war.

It may be a pointless war, but it is a war nonetheless. I say pointless because progress is inevitable. Society evolves. However hard people may try to stop things like ending slavery, interracial marriage, or gay marriage, the best they can do is slow it down. As far as gay marriage is concerned, every new generation is less inclined to see a problem with it. Those who do are simply adhering to old beliefs and calling it “tradition” so they can wrap their hate in a pretty little package.

Even if I did nothing, all those backward thinking people would eventually die off, and the pushback from the religious right would barely exist. The question is, can I just sit on my ass and wait for all these bigots to die. I can’t. Why? Because I have too many friends who are in same sex relationships that they want to, but can’t, take to the next level. Some even have kids. Laying back quietly and biding my time does nothing to help them achieve their goals. What kind of friend would it make me to ignore the blatant inequality they have to live with?

So yes, I’m a culture warrior, and today is just the latest battle in what may prove to be a long, hard war. The law legalizing civil marriage for all in Maryland has been challenged, and enough bigoted theocrats signed petitions to place the law in referendum limbo. So far, no such law has held up to referendum. Any law ratifying the civil rights of citizens should  never be put to referendum. Can you imagine if interracial marriage laws had been put to the people? Thank goodness for the Supreme Court’s wise decision in Loving V. Virginia. Hopefully, this case will make it to SCOTUS, soon enough; and they will rule properly, as they did back then.

Until that day comes, however, the fight is up to us. Until then, I will continue to fight for what is right. I will continue to fight for freedom for all. I will continue to fight for everyone’s right, including yours, to fall in love with another consenting adult, regardless of sex, and try to find  your happily ever after. Not doing so would be, to me, Un-American. I want you to approve. I want you to at least get it. But it’s not necessary, as long as I’m okay with it. I am.

Now, any of you guys wanna kiss me?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


My mother and my older brother, Carlos, 1986
It's funny how, after the people in your life pass on, they slowly drift from your consciousness, regardless to how close they once were. Yesterday was my mother's birthday. It had slipped my mind, until my older brother, Carlos, reminded me in a text. To be fair, my family has a lot of birthdays in July. It can get confusing.

Mom was my biggest inspiration to be a writer. She believed I could be anything I set my mind to. She was my earliest fan and advocate. She would be really proud to see how much all my hard work has paid off, thus far. So, yeah, I may have forgotten her birthday, but I certainly found a way to honor it. 

Here, a little belatedly, is one of the many poems I've written inspired by Miriam Esther Figueroa.


I sometimes wish
you could see my success.
When I wish too loudly
I am told you do,
I am told you share in it,
I am even told you help.
I don't believe them.
I want to believe them.

Perhaps I'm just so vain
that what I truly want
is what I can't have:
to hear your pride ring
loud like church bells
after mass.

Is it really my pride
or just a need for your
reassurance to go on?