Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I can do this

I've had some time to process things between me and my dad. The comments all of you left me over the past week have really helped a lot, and I want to say Thank You.

I feel like I've been putting too much pressure on myself and I just need to slow down and see this whole thing as a work in progress. Overall I think things are moving in a good direction, but I need to stay thoughtful in how I proceed. There's a part of me that wants to speed things up, and another part that wants to stop the train and get off.

In addition to thanking all of you for your incredible insights and support, I want to thank Matty for everything he's done to be there for me through all this.

After spending some time with my dad last Sunday night, I didn't immediately go home. I decided to go for a long drive so I could just spend some time with my thoughts and feelings. And I know Matty was worried. When I got home I hadn't even realized how tense I was feeling until he held me tight as I cuddled up next to him. He asked me how it went and I just broke down crying, which I know probably alarmed him. But he could tell how tense I was, so he just rocked me and rubbed my back and waited.

I eventually explained how it went and then realized I was all talked out and didn't want to go into every detail, and Matty realized that and just let me cry and feel everything going on inside. I honestly don't know what I would do without my Matty. I feel safe and cared for in a way I've never felt before. I keep remembering him saying over and over in a very soft tone of voice, "You can do this."

I'm still sorting through all the levels of feelings I'm having without trying to pressure myself into understanding every single one of them. I'm starting to realize that by slowing myself down, things are a little clearer and start falling into place.

So yeah, I'm a work in progress -- and I can do this.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Freedom to Marry marches on!

I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but this is really exciting!
 
I was trying to find out the total number of states that now recognize marriage equality and each site I went to had a different number. I mean, WOW! It seems like every week or two another state gets added to the column, so I guess some sites are struggling to keep updated! And in my book, that's a really good (and exciting) thing!
 
I usually rely on Freedom to Marry for information like this and after SOUTH CAROLINA got added yesterday, they had this to say:

The landmark ruling [in South Carolina] follows a similar ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that banning same-sex couples from marriage in Utah is unconstitutional. It is the 29th consecutive ruling in favor of marriage for same-sex couples in the past year.

I'm sure this whole thing is eventually going to end up in the Supreme Court. But right now? As I'm celebrating the legal victories, I stand in utter awe at the power of love. So sweet!


Monday, July 28, 2014

A start

I was planning to write something on how my visit with my dad went on Sunday night, but I got in a little late and just need some time to process everything. But I will just say it was a start. Did it go well? I'm not exactly sure how to answer that. We got along and I enjoyed him showing me his guitar collection. And I really enjoyed him taking the time to show me some chords. That was nice.

But.

At this exact moment I have a lot of feelings, both positive and negative. Positive about him making this effort, but still some feelings about why it took him this long. Should I feel this way? Well, right now I'm trying not to judge my feelings. I'm just trying to just let myself feel what I do and then try to understand them.

I really thank everyone who gave me words of support after I wrote about this on Saturday. I'm trying to stay realistic. This is going to take some time and there are no guarantees.

After I process all this a little more, I'll give you a better update. In the meantime, thank you so very much for your support and standing with me on this. It really means a lot to me.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Guess where I am

Hi every body! Hope you're having a good Sunday.

Well, where is Sam-I-Am today? Right now at this very minute you are reading this (if you are reading this on Sunday, that is), I am in New Hampshire!

And while I am asking all these intriguing questions today, see if you can answer another one. Who am I in New Hampshire with?

Give up? I am in New Hampshire with Rick, my BOYFRIEND!!!

That's right. I am writing this on Thursday night and sending it over to Brad so he can get it ready for Sunday, but right now, while you are reading my words, I am in Laconia, New Hampshire! I even included two maps so you can get an idea where this is.
You can see Boston on this map and get an idea where New Hampshire it.

And now I will zoom in and show you where Laconia is:
I feel like a tour guide but bear with me. See the first map? The one with the entire state of New Hampshire? Well, you might be able to see that blue spot about a third of the way up. That is Lake Winnipesaukee, and Laconia is very close to there.

Okay, now that you know where I am. And now that you know who I am with, I know the next burning question is Why am I there? Ha Ha

I know you are dying to know (Ha), but here's the story on that. Rick has started coming out to certain members of his family. And he has even gone so far as to tell these certain family member that he even has a real life BOYFRIEND! So when he called a cousin of his to tell her, she was so happy that Rick told her and even invited him to come visit her and her husband and their little son this weekend.

And get this. You're not going to believe it (well, maybe you will believe it, but it is still just amazing to me that this is even happening). After Rick told her he was gay, he told her he had a boyfriend and was telling her all about me. And I was sitting right there next to him when he told her and Rick had a HUGE smile across his beautiful face as he was telling her all about this. And here is the awesome thing that happened next. Get ready. Make sure you are sitting down and maybe buckle your seat belt. (ha ha)

She asked him if he would like to invite me to come with him this weekend! YES! You heard that little fact right! And get this, because it is kind of funny. Rick said she asked him if the two of us were serious, or was it more just in the friendly stage. Ha Ha. Rick got a kick out of how she asked that, but the reason she wanted to know that was because if we were serious, she would be happy to let us stay in the guest bedroom! Together! TOGETHER!

So he told her in a very matter of fact tone of voice that gave me chills up and down my spine because it was so cute, "Nancy, we're in love, so I guess that qualifies as serious." And I could even hear her sequel because it made her so happy!

So, that is this week's update. I know I usually write a lot longer post than this, but since I'm writing this on Thursday I am packing and unpacking and repacking every thing I plan to take so I need to get back to that serious task. It is just going to be a weekend visit but so far I have packed about 15 different shirts and T-shirts and I think I have probably 10 shorts and maybe 5 long pants!! Can you tell how nervous I am? So now I need to unpack a lot of those and get it down to something more practical.

Oh and I need to make sure I have my toothpaste and toothbrush and my brush and some combs and deodorant and every thing else I might need. Oh man! I am so excited and nervous and all kinds of feelings. But I'll get it all done in time to leave tomorrow.

Well, that is all I got for now. This will be my first time in my life to take a vacation. And it is going to be with my BOYFRIEND and I am so happy and excited. I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Hope every one is having a good day and I wish every one an awesome week ahead. And I will see you next week, okay?

Love and hugs from Sam-I-Am-A-World-Traveler-With-My-BOYFRIEND!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting "The Call" and taking a step

I'm sure I'll be saying more about this in the coming week or so, but I wanted to share a new insight I got in this thing my dad and I are starting to do with our relationship.

I was talking to my therapist and he's been totally supportive of how I've been handling things. So I was talking to him in my last session and realized I was feeling some hesitation in moving forward. My first thought was that I was feeling afraid of being hurt again and maybe wanted to pull back.

But the more he got me to talking about it, all of a sudden I blurted out, "He's been in control of our relationship for as long as I can remember, and now it feels like I'm in control." He asked me what that felt like and it was like an alien inside me responding. I said, "Well, now it's my turn to make him suffer."

Whoa! Where did that come from? We talked about how it was probably that little kid inside me wanting to get back at him after all these years -- all those years he controlled the terms of the relationship. And now that I decided to stop trying to please him and just be myself and handle things like the adult I am, that little kid inside wants to screw everything up and keep the fight going. 

Then my very wise therapist had his own insight and shared it with me. And I think what he said was brilliant. He said something like, "Maybe, just maybe, your dad wants to share the responsibility of how the relationship should work. Maybe. Or maybe not. How would you feel about staying open to find out?"

Well, that hit me like a ton of bricks and even made me cry some because if that's what my dad wants to do, it makes me happy, but it also makes me anxious. Happy because I've always wanted to have a good relationship with him, but anxious because I don't want to get my hopes up too high.

So I have two major things going on here:

1. I want to have a better relationship with him and I'm happy he's trying.

2. I don't want to get my expectation up too high like I did once because it was bad when we tried this before and he let me down.

I was talking to Matty the other night and he reminded me that I might feel like a little kid inside sometimes, but I'm really an adult who can figure things out and do the right thing. So I'm going to move forward with this -- cautiously -- and see what happens. If my dad wants to share the responsibility, then we have something to talk about. 

He's called me a few times lately, mainly just to say hello and see how things are, so we've had these brief little chats that have been nice. It all still feels a little awkward, which I guess is normal. And it's still scary, but I'm tired of being stuck as his "little kid" and want to see if he can see me as his "adult son."

And then, OMG, I got The Call. You remember that don't you? When he took me out to dinner and ice cream he asked if I was interested in setting up another time to sit down and talk on a more serious level. I told him I just needed a week or so to process things and asked him to call me later. And he agreed and seemed to totally understand and respect that. Well, I got The Call the other day.

One thing I always wanted my dad to do when I was a little kid was teach me to play the guitar. He's been playing the guitar since he was in high school and has this really cool collection of different types of guitars. When I was a kid I remember asking him to show me how to play and he always just brushed me off.

Well, when I got The Call the other night, it was my dad asking if I wanted to come over to see this new guitar he got recently. And then... he said, "I can show you some basic chords on it if you like." 

So I'm going over on Sunday night to spend some time with him, see his new guitar, and learn some chords. Yeah, imagine that. Maybe instead of having some kind of super-heavy "Talk" about our past and where we go from here, maybe we just need to sort of get use to each other again. It's been a long time. But it feels right and I'm going.

That sign up there kind of sums things up for me -- at least for now. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Author Interview: Thorny Sterling on SPLINTERS

It’s been a pleasure to highlight Thorny's debut novel this week. You guys really contributed a lot with your comments and both of us enjoyed sharing some of our thoughts.

We asked if he would be open to an Author Interview with us, and were so delighted he agreed.
 


Do you remember always having an interest in writing? Was writing important to you as a child?


I’ve always been a reader, but never really thought about writing. Well, not writing fiction anyway, because I’ve written journals and then the blog and liked doing that. When I started looking at photos and writing down what they made me think about, I discovered I enjoyed doing that. Getting a lot of positive feedback helped too ;)


When you first started writing the story, we imagine you had some vision of the basic story. Did you essentially end up writing that basic story, or did the story undergo some pretty significant changes by the time you were done?


This was supposed to be a short story, or maybe just flash fiction, based on that photo of a guy tied up in a field. I saw the photo, had an idea, and ran with it. I think the only reason it got to be what it is now is from asking more and more questions. Who is he? Why was he tied up? By whom? How does he get undone? Who’s his rescuer? Then what happened? Little by little, it expanded, and eventually, I had to go back and revise the beginning once I really knew who these people were and what was going on. And there were 5 drafts once I started working with my critique partners and beta readers, so yep, lots of significant changes.


Between Al and Duke, which character’s mind was easier for you to get into? (In other words, was one character easier to write than the other?)


Al was SO much easier! Everybody says “write what you know” and I pretty much did that with Al. Not that I know anything about modeling or acting or even some of the things he went through in this story, but I knew how I might react and could apply that to Al. I think Duke would’ve handled or reacted to things differently, and that would’ve made it a whole other story. I did think about switching between the two of them, because I know people like reading that, but in the end, it was all Al.


The Texas landscape seemed to be a “character” in the story. Have you been to Texas before and seen those landscapes up close, or how did you give those landscape scenes such life?


Oh, I totally faked that ;) I looked at a lot of photos, asked a few people who had been there some questions, and read travel brochures and guides. I never did find out what it really smells like there, but I think I did OK conveying the size and heat of the place.


What was your favorite scene to write?


I think I have two favorite scenes, but for the same reason. I went into writing them thinking something like, “OMG, I have no idea what I’m doing,” and came out of them feeling like I am just awesome :) I’d done things I didn’t even know I meant to and it was a very “I rock!” kinda moment. Of course, having other people weigh in on whether it was any good made me incredibly nervous, but then they loved it too. It was times like that where I really felt like I could do this writing thing. The scenes were Al and Duke at the tree and in the hotel room.


What are your ambitions for your writing career?


Writing CAREER? I gotta admit, that sounds a little scary. I’m taking my time right now to settle into being done with SPLINTERS after 2 years of working on it. Rushing into another project isn’t in me right now, and I know being an author comes with this expectation of more, more, more. Right this second, I’m uncomfortable with committing to or promising another story because there’s this wiggle of worry about meeting expectations. I don’t know what I may do next month or even next week, but right now, I’m resting and regrouping. If there’s more books inside my head, I’ll definitely share them, though.


[Many of you already know Thorny from his blog, but in case you haven’t discovered that gem, you can find him here: http://thornysterling.com]


You can get your own copy of SPLINTERS by clinking one of the links below:

Amazon for Kindle

Barnes & Noble for Nook

Smashwords (PDF/ePUB/MOBI)

CreateSpace for Paperback

Thursday, July 24, 2014

SPLINTERS: Relating to fictional characters

Brad and I mentioned on Monday we wanted to use this day to have a "free-style" discussion of what this book meant to us on a very personal level.

Sometimes we're in the mood to read something that's pure escape... something that will carry us away from our real life. And SPLINTERS definitely allowed us to leave our everyday world behind as we traveled to a Texas ranch and then to Manhattan for a while.

But in addition to carrying us away from our real life, SPLINTERS also carried us toward our real life. And a book that can do both of these things is a special book indeed.

You know, there's this thing about fictional characters that always interests me. I know they're creations of the author's imagination, but I always know I'm reading a special book when I start caring for them as if they were people in my real life. And while Brad and I were talking about the book, we discovered we were drawn to -- and identified with -- different characters.

We both cared very much for both main characters, but somehow whenever Duke was in the scene, I paid close attention to him (of course as seen through Al's eyes), and Brad paid close attention to Al (as seen through Al's own eyes).

Brad and I worked on this post together and wanted to share a little bit about what it made us think about. And for those of you who've read the book and related to something in it on a personal level, please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section if you'd like.

Brad: I've written a good bit about my femme side and some of the internal conflicts I've had in fully embracing it. Over the past several years I feel very pleased and proud of myself for how I've started loving that about me.

While Matty was reading Splinters to me each night, he did this really wonderful thing with his voice. He tried to mimic the sound of each character's voice instead of reading each character in monotone. And whenever Al was on the scene, it was uncanny how much of my own real voice he put into Al's words and thoughts.

Needless to say, I loved hearing how Al always seemed so comfortable in his own skin, even when he was young.  And there was the scene when his agent/manager Elsie talks about promoting him as a crossover model -- maybe sending him to the gym to pump up his muscles to have a more "masculine" look, as opposed to how they've played off his "feminine" look.

Al tells her, "That's just not me. I'd feel like a fake all over again." And we get to hear Al's internal voice as he reflects, "I was brilliant and secure playing up the feminine or teasing at it. It was disastrous trying to be more masculine because I kept hesitating to do anything while internally debating whether it was manly enough."

I LOVED seeing how Al embraced and totally owned who he was. And I loved his honesty when he said how fake he felt when he tried to "play" being more masculine than he felt. And his conviction to always live his life honoring his True Self.

I feel like I've made light-years of progress in embracing and being true to myself. And it was so exciting to see this character as a kind of fictional role model for how to be true to all of who I am.

Matt: Maybe opposites really do attract. I've always been much more aware of my "masculine" side than my "feminine" side. It's actually a little awkward to even describe it that way because I'm not sure it totally captures how I see things.

Whenever the character Duke was in the scene, I always found myself drawn to him. There was something about how comfortable he was in totally owning his "masculinity" while at the same time not shying away from his feminine side.

There was one incredibly sweet scene close to the end where Duke is helping one of his mares give birth. The only way I can describe how I was picturing Duke during this process was to see him as a "male mother." I just melted as he was coaxing Suzy Lee (awww). "Easy, girl. That's my sweet gal."

And the scene where Al finds out that Duke takes in the stray kittens... And his sister is explaining that, "...our sweet Duke got it in his head to gentle a whole passel of kittens, name every one of 'em, and... he bought a little pink brush for 'em!" Duke is a little embarrassed, but Al is thinking to himself, "...I'm dangerously close to falling for this big, gruff cowboy who pampers kittens."

Even though I don't have a "cowboy" look, or even a hyper-masculine physique, I still identify more with my masculinity than my feminine side. But it was so helpful and liberating to see this "big, gruff cowboy" pampering his kittens with "a little pink brush" and getting to see this really wonderful "male mother" helping his "sweet gal," Suzy Lee, give birth.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

So, what about you? Were there any characters in Splinters (main or secondary) that touched you in some  special or personal way? Was it helpful to see characters who were similar to you -- different from you? Did the characters or the story change or enlarge your view of the world in any way? Are you changed in any way after reading this story -- more self-aware -- more aware of others?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

SPINTERS: Loving deeply

Is this story foremost about love? It's in the romance genre and love is the primary experience around which everything is organized in that genre, so it would be a reasonable assumption to make, right?

Yep, everything in Splinters is definitely organized around love. But what I loved about this book is how we get to see, pretty much first-hand, how the lead character (the star and diva model/actor of the story) experiences that love.

But notice I said it's a story "foremost" about love because I think it's a lot more than that. In many ways I identified with Al, one of the main characters in this story. I loved watching him bring all of who he was to the experience of loving and being loved. It's really hard for me to express this any other way.

Even though Al was full of life and open to loving and being loved, there was somewhere, maybe deep inside, a little bit of sadness. I remember feeling some of that sadness when he was giving us a tiny glimpse into his early family life -- the distance he felt from his mother and father, and how for them, he was probably easier to love from afar. I guess maybe I over identified a little with him.

But the very best part of this story was seeing the courage and determination he had to bring all of who he was to the experience of being in love. And he did this with fierce courage and conviction.

I know this is not much of a traditional review, but it really was hard for me to discuss this book without getting teary. And those tears were mainly tears of joy because I kept wanting to stand up and celebrate this young man's wonderful heart and his willingness to risk just about everything as he gave himself over completely to love.

I know that last paragraph might sound a little sentimental. But make no mistake, Splinters is not a sentimental love story. Sentimental love stories don't appeal to me. But I don't mind being moved to tears if something real and genuine and honest touches me deeply. And that's how I felt throughout this story.

I know Al is a fictional character, but I kept wanting to know him in my real life -- to spend time with him -- laugh with him -- cry with him -- celebrate life with him. He was that real.

This is an important story and it moved me deeply and I can't stop thinking about it. Sorry I didn't do a better job of describing the plot and discussing how the story developed and all the other things you're suppose to do when reviewing a book. I tried to take that approach initially but just couldn't pull it off with any justice. All I can say is this story touched some very deep places in my heart. And very, very few books do that.

I have a very small selection of books I like to go back and reread. This book is now in that selection. I highly recommend it if you want to see someone living honestly and openly and bringing all of who he is to the love of his life. There's great strength and courage in doing that. This story, to me, is about loving deeply and honestly. And that, in my opinion, is what real love is all about.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SPLINTERS: Something new and exciting

When I finished reading this book, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to say in my review and exactly how I wanted to say it. So I went back over every single sentence I underlined (there were more than I realized) so I could decide which one or two I wanted to use to illustrate the beauty of the language.

And while I was thinking about those sentences, I found myself thrown right back into the wide open space of a stunningly beautiful Texas range landscape. The same landscape where we find Al, one of the main characters, trying to make sense of where he is and how he got there. And he's not just wandering around like some lost tourist, but is just regaining consciousness and trying to remember how he wound up alone, naked, and bound to a rough plank.

The story is told in first-person present tense, which allows us to experience what Al is thinking, feeling, and observing as it happens. Some books told in this tense just don't work for me because it seems the author is trying to cram every single detail of the story through this one character and the other characters sound rather two-dimensional. But it completely works here. Al's internal voice is pretty uncensored and refreshingly honest, and you get this haunting impression that the author is letting Al write this story, rather than the other way around.

Without giving too much away, Al (who is a twenty-three year old diva model/actor) is rescued by Duke, this cowboy who happens to ride up just as Al is regaining consciousness. Al's thoughts are all over the place, but he's able to zero in on this cowboy who is "...pretty good looking in that sweaty, rough, bite-this-leather-strap-so-you-don't-scream-too-loud kinda way..." Then he's thrown back into the reality of his predicament and his panic returns.

We start getting glimpses of Al's witty humor during these opening scenes, which you wouldn't think would really work well considering the rather disturbing -- and still unexplained -- trauma he's just been through. But having been through a very brutal attack myself where I was ambushed and roughed up, you go in and out, and back and forth between lucidity and normalcy. Then you go from panic and anxiety, to humor and familiarity. It was very realistic and totally worked for me.

A rather quick romance develops between Al and Duke. And I loved how the author made this work instead of just throwing it in there and hoping we didn't see how fast it developed. Three things in the story made this so believable:

First, Duke takes him out on the range to show him the vast landscape and they go up a little incline and Al is all of a sudden in the presence of this unique tree... the tree you see on the cover (which was beautifully painted by the author), and Al has this breathtaking realization. "All my life, I've been the leaves on this tree, shaking in the wind, trying to hold on... Duke is the roots." We get a brief, but revealing, glimpse into how shaky Al's life has been up to this point, and his realization that in this short time with Duke, he feels a rootedness he's never had before.

Second, a little later on, Al reflects on his early family life and how distant he feels from his mother. She seems puzzled and a little guilt-ridden about why Al never outgrew his interest in wearing women's clothes. And he reflects that his father couldn't connect to him because Al never liked sports and always seemed embarrassed by him when he was just being his campy self. And how I ached in my heart when he realizes, "I do believe they love me, but I'm easier to love from afar." Never having a stable grounding from his family, it becomes more believable that he's falling for this man nine years his senior and, unlike other men he's known, "...there is something new and exciting in Duke's eyes. Like he sees more." If I was in Al's shoes, I'd probably start falling hard rather quickly.

Third, there were also a number of times when we see Al's self-awareness and self-reflection, which show his depth and make the unfolding romance all the more believable and real. It may feel to him that this romance is going at high speed, but he's aware of it, thinking about it, and on top of it. And I loved his ever caring agent/manager Elsie, who keeps a close eye on him and genuinely has his best interest at heart. She's almost like a second mother to Al and I trusted her to not let anything harmful come to Al.

There are three (if I counted right) sex scenes and they are written somewhat differently than I often see. I've read so many erotic novels that I often feel I have "erotic overload" and my eyes start glazing over and I just quickly skim through them. There was no way I could -- or wanted to -- skim these scenes. Again, it was breathtakingly haunting to be inside Al's head and feel -- really feel -- all the emotions he was having. And that is what made me do something I never, ever do, which is actually go back and re-read those very scenes. Not for the sex -- as hot as it was -- but for the sex and the emotions. Breathtaking. Hauntingly breathtaking.

If you like cowboy stories, I'm sure you'll love this one. If you're not particularly drawn to cowboys, I strongly urge you to give this one a chance. You might just change your mind. I've only read a few cowboy stories myself, and I loved these two together. Hands down, Five Stars!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A week of SPLINTERS

You may remember a few weeks back, Brad wrote a post about a new book I got on my kindle [click here to read it]. It was a book we were both looking forward to reading, but since it was delivered to my kindle, we had to decide who would read it first before passing it over to the other.

Brad had the perfect solution to this dilemma. "Could you cuddle me on the sofa and read it to me?" And that was what we did.

Several people were curious about the title of the book I was reading to Brad, and I was able to successfully dodge the question with the promise I'd reveal it shortly. Well, "shortly" is here and it was Sprinters by Thorny Sterling.

We were really torn about how to make this book last as long as we could. We got the kindle edition, but according to Amazon the paperback is 168 pages. Once we started reading, however, we both wanted to make it last as long as we could. We were enjoying the dual experience of cuddling each night, and also wanting to savor how the story unfolded. A real conflict that was. Not the cuddling, but the savoring. We wanted to make reading the book last as long as possible.

Brad kept saying, "Could you go back and re-read that?" After four or five times I began wondering if maybe I was mumbling or not reading it clearly enough. When I asked him, he just said, "No, you're reading it fine. I just want to hear it again. The words in that paragraph are stunning." And there were a lot of those paragraphs he wanted to hear again. 

And a number of times he would ask me to re-read something, and it would be because he wanted to feel the excitement of the buildup to a particular scene. And he was right to feel the excitement preceding a number of scenes.

The other thing all this re-reading accomplished is that it made the book last longer. We initially planned to just read one chapter each night, and since it has twenty chapters, we figured that would make it last about three weeks. Yeah, right. That well-intended plan sort of took care of itself since neither of us could seem to follow that arbitrary plan. We did manage to stretch it out to four nights.

I know many of you have already read Splinters because the reviews are coming in. But we wanted to take this week to nudge anyone who hasn't read it yet, to get your copy. And we also wanted to take the week to share our take on the story and to give you an opportunity to share your thoughts.

So here's what we have planned for this week:

Monday (today) - General announcement and introduction to the week ahead.

Tuesday - My "formal" review of Splinters. This is what I plan to post on Amazon and Goodreads. I rarely write "formal" reviews in the usual format: Brief description, my opinion of the story, how many stars I give it, and whether I recommend it to others. I always like a more "free-style" discussion, but I wanted to take the time to write something in the usual format for certain book sites. 

Wednesday - Brad's "formal" review of Splinters, which he plans to post on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites.

Thursday - Brad and I have jointly written a "free-style" discussion of what the book meant to us on a very personal level. We'll both be talking about how it affected us emotionally, how we related to certain parts of the story in our own life, what the story made us think about, why it moved us like it did. 

Friday - We invited Thorny to the Executive Conference Room at 2 Boys in Love Corporate Headquarters here in Boston for an Author Interview!! We asked him a bunch of questions about his book, as well as a few personal questions, and we're really excited to share our interview with you on Friday.

So, what are you waiting for? If you haven't gotten your very on copy yet, here are some sites where you can remedy that little oversight:

Amazon for Kindle

Barnes & Noble for Nook

Smashwords (PDF/ePUB/MOBI)

CreateSpace for Paperback

Hope you'll join us each day for A Week of Splinters.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sundays with Sam: Where we are now

Hello every one. It's Sunday and you know what that means. It's time for me to spend a little time with you and for you to get a little glimpse into the world of Sam-I-Am. And this week it's Sam-I-Am-Seeing-Hope.

See that little sign up there? Guess who found that for me? Yep, you guessed it. Rick, my AMAZING BOYFRIEND. You know, it still blows me away when I refer to him as my BOYFRIEND. Sometimes it sort of shocks me that I even have a boyfriend at all. That is some thing I never in a hundred million years ever thought I would have. As a matter of fact, I never had any idea that my life would amount to much at all. But I don't want to get into all that right now, because it is too negative.

Last Sunday, I wrote a post about how I was not in a very good mood one day after going to one of my group sessions where we talked in-depth about what sorry families some of us came from. And when Rick came over to visit me he could tell I was in a sad mood and he tried to help me deal with it, but I eventually ended up snapping at him and, well... you probably remember what happened next.

I saw how I hurt his feelings and I started crying and went to my bedroom leaving him all alone in the living room. It's making me sad right now just remembering that day, so I need to move on with my post, and you can click that little link at the beginning of that paragraph if you want to read the rest.

Any way, it turned out okay and we talked a lot about it and I even told him some other stuff I have been through, and I was shocked once more to learn that going through all that even brought us closer together! That was really shocking to me because in my family, if some one was in a bad mood, then there was some kind of hell to pay and nothing -- and I mean nothing -- ever got worked out and things seemed to always end up in worse shape afterwards. So you just better try hard to avoid any kind of negative feelings.

And that brings me back to that sign Rick, my SWEET AND CARING AND LOVABLE BOYFRIEND, found for me. We talked some more this week about when I snapped at him, and HE brought it up because he cared about how I was feeling. God! Some times I feel like I can't even handle being treated like he treats me because he sees more than just my bad moods.

I am so use to feeling that my bad moods make me a bad person. Like there is some thing really rotten inside me. So when he cares enough to ask how I am feeling about our talk after that day when I snapped at him, it's like ---- what do I say? I want to start apologizing all over again and feel so ashamed of my self, but he won't allow me to do that. He just says, "You already said all that. We're totally okay now. I asked how you're feeling about our talk. I still feel closer to you and just wanted to see if you had any other feelings since we talked."

So guess what happened? I told him I worried I would slip up again and snap at him when I was in a sad mood and I didn't want that to happen ever again. And I told him some more about my family and how I might be condemned to always repeat what I grew up around. And, man, he is so wise because he said it might happen again, and he might even snap at me. And, yeah, we should always try to avoid snapping at each other, but, hey, that happens some times. But we always have to talk about it when it does. And stay with it until it gets worked out because that is what you're suppose to do when you love some one.

So during this past week, he sent me that sign up there. Don't you like it? "Just because the past didn't turn out like you wanted it to, doesn't mean your future can't be better than you ever imagined." I know that is just a simple saying, right? But it almost sounds too good to be true. So what I am trying to concentrate on now is just trusting that there is some truth in it.

And I am going to keep trying to make it come true. So when my past rears it very ugly head, I will try to be aware of when it is happening. And if I do slip up again, I promise not to shut Rick out so we can talk about it and get stronger ---- together. Because like he said, that is what you're suppose to do when you love some one.

And also because like that sign says, I want my future to be better than I ever imagined.

Have a great week every one. Love and hugs, Sam-I-Am-Hopeful

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Body image

I wanted to write a little something today about body image. And this is just my personal opinion and I know others may see things differently, and that's cool.

I wasn't exactly sure how to convey my main thought and Matty suggested I just start writing and "think it through" while I wrote. He said he does that sometimes and it helps him get to the bottom of what he's thinking or feeling.

I always have trouble with that approach because I think I have this perfectionist streak that says, "Get it all worked out first -- and then put it in writing." But today, as an experiment, I'm going to try it. So, here goes. 

So when it comes to body image, I'm really tired of being bombarded with images of "desirable" male body types. Especially when the media and advertisements want us to consider certain body types to be "highly desirable" and other body types to be "undesirable." 

And then there's this subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, message that if you don't have a body type that fits in the "highly desirable" category, then, well, something must be wrong with you.

Don't get me wrong. There are certain body types I think are sexy, and I enjoy looking at guys who have a certain "look" that makes me pay attention. But what I don't like is that message in our culture that says, This look means you have worth and value, and that look means you're probably just lazy or born with the wrong genes, and what a pity that is."

I've struggled some with my body image. Sometimes I feel like the "culture" or whoever it is, creates these "categories" everybody is suppose to fit in. And you're suppose to feel lucky if you fall in one of the "desirable" categories, and feel shame if you fall in the other less desirable ones.

I guess I've been put in one of the "less desirable" categories for a guy my age. I have a softer look that those guys who get put in the "highly desirable" categories. I'm not buff, I don't have a ripped look, I don't have that "highly desirable" V thing that goes from the top of your hips down to the groin area. I'm basically "smooth" and not covered in body hair. I don't have any scruff on my face. I don't walk with a swagger. I don't look "butch," so that keeps me out of the "highly desirable" category.

For a long time I struggled with feeling bad about how I look. And don't get me wrong, I still go back and forth sometimes. I'm still somewhat self-conscious about my looks. Occasionally I imagine people looking at me and seeing a little kid instead of a man. Or seeing a soft guy instead of "a rugged man."  

Now that I've written all this down, here's what I'm thinking now:

I need to continue shutting off those loud voices that say I should feel ashamed of my body, and turn up the volume of my internal voice that says, "Nice. You look nice." Not in a conceited way, but just matter-of-factly. 

Because I really do like that version of my image. I'm probably more like the image on the far left up there. I'm not thin or skinny, but probably more "slim." And I do have a softer look. 

And who, by the way, is in charge of deciding which "category" you go into? And why do we even need those "categories" in the first place?

Or maybe those are not the right questions. Maybe the right question is, "Who gets to decide how I feel about my body? The answer: Me... Plain and simple.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Random questions

We were going through some draft posts last night to see if we could complete something we've been working on. We have about 23 drafts and the majority of them are just a few sentences long. When one of us has an idea, we start a post and just write out some random thoughts we have on the topic and then come back later to expand on it.

The ones we're actively working on but need a little more thought are:

1. The Secret Passion Brad has that we'd probably have to run by the Blog Censors first. LOL

2. How we knew we were in love.

3. The joys of outdoor sex.

4. Our first kiss.

5. Our favorite role play.


So, until we can complete some of those, we thought today we'd just ask some random questions as a way for all of us to get to know each other a little better -- but only if you want to share. 

One of the really nice things we like about the blog is how it's developed into this really nice community of people. It's so cool to see some of you interact with others, either through humor or support. Some of you occasionally share little bits of your lives that relate to things we go through, and your comments are always either very helpful to us, or just plain enjoyable to read -- and many times, both.

So today we found a draft post where both of us jotted down some random questions. Neither of us can remember how we were going to use these questions for a future post, so we just picked five questions and invite you to share a little bit about yourself if you'd like. Or you can pick one, or two if you'd like.

I always like these kind of questions because even though they're a little bit silly, they're also kind of fun to throw out there. Anyway, if you'd like to participate, feel free. Both of us gave our answers, and we hope you enjoy this.


1. What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

Matt - Housecleaning.

Brad - Cutting the grass.


2. If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

Matt - Zack

Brad - Jake


3. What is something you learned in the last week?

Matt - That I'm more insecure than I let people know.

Brad - That when the game "Twister" was introduced in 1966, it was denounced by critics as "sex in a box."


4. What's your favorite way to relax?

Matt - Doing meditation, especially tai chi.

Brad - Baking cookies, pies, or pastries.


5. Sweet or salty snacks?

Matt - Salty, especially pretzels.

Brad - Sweet, especially chocolate.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

And the answers are...

A. BEDROOM ATTIRE
1. "I can't stand the idea of getting into bed at night with anything on. It just seems uncomfortable wear clothes to sleep in. Plus, it's too confining. I tried wearing pajamas once, and every time I rolled over to change sides, the darn things fought back. Ugh! Naked is best."

This is MATT. The last thing I want to be doing in bed is getting into a struggle with clothes as they attempt to do their thing while I'm just trying to get comfortable.


2. "There's something really comforting about wearing something that's really soft and comfortable to bed. Plus, there's always the thrill of having them slowly (or sometimes urgently) removed when a certain someone is in the mood."

Brad here. Of those two sentences I wrote, the last one is the best!


B. MONEY AND FINANCIAL SECURITY
1. "For somebody my age, I guess I have the usual worries about having enough money for the future. But I don't lose sleep over it. I feel pretty secure knowing things will work out financially."

This one is Brad.


2. "I have been almost obsessed about making money and saving it ever since I graduated from high school. I watch every penny I make and rarely splurge on things I don't really need. I've been called a tightwad, and I can't really argue with that moniker."

Matt. Frugal Matt. I'm the one with really high anxiety about money. I know it's totally irrational, but I sometimes feel haunted with how financially successful my parents and two brothers are. I know my thinking is all wrong here, but -- it is what it is. After high school, I took a year off to work full-time so I could save every penny I could. Even now I don't have a lot of electronic gadgets and toys most people have so I can bank that money. So, yeah, Frugal Matty. That's me.


C. BAREFOOT OR FOOTGEAR
1. "During warm weather I love being barefoot as much as possible -- inside and outside. I don't know if I have a foot fetish or something, but there's just something sensual about being barefoot."

Brad again. I LOVE being barefoot. As a Waiter, I'm standing up all day and running around from the kitchen to the tables, but when I get home, the shoes are the first things that come off. Ahhhhhhhh, yes! Give those little piggies some breathing room!


2. "For me, wearing footwear always makes me feel steadier. I feel more 'rooted' to the ground and I keep my balance easier."

Hi. This one is me -- Matt. I'm a little accident prone sometimes because I'm always, always on the go. I've been told I'm always looking up and around regardless of what I'm doing, I guess because of the "H" in my attention thing. And I wear those heavy-duty construction boots for work and they're great for stabilizing my balance when I move around. I don't wear them at home unless I'm working on some building or repair project. But, yeah, I need sneakers or anything with some kind of rubber sole that will grip and keep me balanced while I'm doing my bouncy-thing.


D. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
1. "At some point, I'd love to live in a rural area. Not too far from a major metropolitan area, but not in an adjoining suburb. Somewhere a short distance from the suburbs -- like a rural area where you're not too close to your neighbors."

This is Brad. I like where we live now, which is a suburb close to Boston, but someday I'd love to live out a little further. Maybe something with a little land where I can garden and maybe grow my own vegetables for my dishes. Plus, I think it would be so peaceful to walk out and not have neighbors so close. Something with a little more open space.


2. "No rural area. I don't ever really want to live smack dab in the middle of an urban area. A suburb, once or twice removed from a major metropolitan area, is perfect."

Matt. There's always something interesting to do and see when you live close to a major metropolitan area. I'm all for Brad's idea, but I need access to all the action, too.


E. ROMANCE READING
1. "I only read M/M romance novels."

This is Matt. When I read romance, gimme men, all men, and nothing but men!


2. "I mostly read M/M romance novels, but I have a small collection of M/M/F novels which I enjoy from time to time."

Brad. I occasionally get interested in M/M/F stories. There's something interesting and different about the interaction when you have two bi men and a woman. I feel like I'm so familiar with male/male interaction, I like to see how a third person changes or adds to or challenges the dynamics of the two men. I'm not at all interested in being in a relationship with two other people, but it's just interesting to me to read about.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guess which one?

Thought we'd have a little fun today. Kind of like a guessing game and the answers are based either on things we've already shared, or things you might be able to figure out based on what we've shared.

For each category below, can you guess which statement applies to Brad and which one applies to Matt?


A. BEDROOM ATTIRE

1. "I can't stand the idea of getting into bed at night with anything on. It just seems uncomfortable wear clothes to sleep in. Plus, it's too confining. I tried wearing pajamas once, and every time I rolled over to change sides, the darn things fought back. Ugh! Naked is best."

2. "There's something really comforting about wearing something that's really soft and comfortable to bed. Plus, there's always the thrill of having them slowly (or sometimes urgently) removed when a certain someone is in the mood."


B. MONEY AND FINANCIAL SECURITY

1. "For somebody my age, I guess I have the usual worries about having enough money for the future. But I don't lose sleep over it. I feel pretty secure knowing things will work out financially."

2. "I have been almost obsessed about making money and saving it ever since I graduated from high school. I watch every penny I make and rarely splurge on things I don't really need. I've been called a tightwad, and I can't really argue with that moniker."

C. BAREFOOT OR FOOTGEAR

1. "During warm weather I love being barefoot as much as possible -- inside and outside. I don't know if I have a foot fetish or something, but there's just something sensual about being barefoot."

2. "For me, wearing footwear always makes me feel steadier. I feel more 'rooted' to the ground and I keep my balance easier."

D. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

1. "At some point, I'd love to live in a rural area. Not too far from a major metropolitan area, but not in an adjoining suburb. Somewhere a short distance from the suburbs -- like a rural area where you're not too close to your neighbors."

2. "No rural area. I don't ever really want to live smack dab in the middle of an urban area. A suburb, once or twice removed from a major metropolitan area, is perfect."

E. ROMANCE READING

1. "I only read M/M romance novels."

2. "I mostly read M/M romance novels, but I have a small collection of M/M/F novels which I enjoy from time to time."