OUR “COME TO JESUS,” MOTHER MARY, MOMENT

Editorial Director, R.T. Jordan
Author, The Polly Pepper Mystery Series

We’ve all read the headline-making stories of Mother Mary dropping by unannounced and making official appearances (usually in low-rent housing projects and double-wide trailer parks) on frosty window panes or car port oil stains or the mold on a brick of Cracker Barrel Monterey Jack cheese. We always sorta sniggered at such phenomena. However …

Ice Cold Mary

Oily Mary

A curious thing occurred while we were hosting a game of “Animal, Mineral, Vegetable” in the Men’s bathroom at the BRUISES THE GIN offices the other day. There, in plain sight, on the travertine tile floor under the urinal, right where the vision of Ella Fitzgerald wearing a curly blonde wig and eating a banana used to be, was the honest to goodness likeness of sweet Baby Jesus’ natural birth mama!

Alas, the apostates on staff were unable to recognize the obvious. Our editorial director, R.T. Jordan, insisted that the most famous virgin in the world probably doesn’t play Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, unless it’s to lend her name to instigate wars, or pose as the poster Mom for the murder a few million heretics. 

Ben Tyler pointed out that the janitorial staff hadn’t been in the room in months and admonished that we shouldn’t judge by appearances. That the depiction could simply be a congregation of bacteria. 

R.T. continued to pooh-pooh the so-called “representation” on the floor tile under the pee-pee trough as no more her divine Maryness than Martinelli’s sparkling cider is Dom Pérignon.

But isn’t that the way religious riddles and Pastor Robert Jeffress‘ ideologies work? Not everyone is expected to get the jokes (especially, apparently, Mormons and Islamists and Hindus and Buddhists who, according to Jeffress are all members of cults.).


Alas, the “Mary tile” proved too powerful. With the excuse that this was a sign from the cosmos that they should be working for Landover Baptist Church.com, most of the staff decided that BRUISES THE GIN would go on hiatus, at least until R.T. could afford a stone mason to replace the scary Mary tile (and to pay them for their work over the past six months). Therefore, until further notice it appears to be the will of Allah and Muhammad and Vishnu and definitely Michelle and Marcus Backmann, that BTG takes a holiday.

In the meantime, those of us who are left will be working tirelessly to kick the shitout of whoever gets the Republican presidential nomination.

We’ll keep all of our previous editions of BRUISES THE GIN archived. So check
back and get irritated, self-righteous and intolerant all over again. We’ll still read your e-mails, so remind us often of what we’ve been told a thousand times about some silliness called “blasphemy,” “dissrespect,” “profanation” and “sacrilege.” Woo-hoo!

Klaatu barada nikto!

LET IT BE!

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MADGE, AND THE MIRACLE OF PALMOLIVE

Editorial Director: R.T. Jordan
Author, SET SAIL FOR MURDER,
FINAL CURTAIN, BUT DARLING, I’M YOUR AUNTIE MAME!
, etc.
www.Rtjordan.com

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”
Robert C. Gallagher

CHANGE: In the weather. New job. No job. Underwear. Husband. Wife. Lover. Death. Life. Home. Homeless. Political rhetoric. Improved sensual lubricant. iPad. iPad2. Menu options at the medicinal cannabis store. Evolution. Ah! EVOLUTION!!!

THE AUDACITY OF DOPES

Not all change is full o’ loopy tickles. (Perhaps with the exception of the new lube.) Change can be stinky and unethical and downright demonic. Case in point: The Bachmann sisters (Michelle and Marcus), with their reparative homo therapy malarkey. Billing sniveling sissies (and Medicare) for treatment to cure their aberrant lives (“Sorry I’m such a god-made fucked-up soiled pair of Huggies.”). J.H.C., that all-time greatest of superstar mystics, would probably scratch his dreds, spin his Dreidel and roll his old-soul baby blues (in the Aryan Christian ideal) while sniggering in baffling disbelief and say, “Christ all mighty, haven’t you assholes learned anything from Muhammad and Khalil Gibran and Gandhi and John Lennon and Bill Maher, and um, Moi?

Sexy Jesus

Nah. Telling a tortured soul that there’s only one pot at the end of the gay rainbow, and it ain’t filled with gold, but rather the devil’s discharge, and it’s their very own eternal treasure if they don’t stop the urge to taste the naughty places on others of their own sex, is far more sadistic fun than recognizing that some things, such as um, immutable Laws that like govern the whole universe full of amazing and diverse things, are just sort of too tricky to alter. Inconvenient though they may be to an intolerant and in desperate need of a brain enema (or that improved lube) delusional wannabe (but TG never will be) chief executive. Praise Allah and Pastor Ted Haggard.

Our diatribe aside, this edition of our deviant forum is a about change. Mostly the satisfying-as-a-shag, change. The stuff that makes the planet a more seductive place to visit sort of change. The unexpected, when-things-appear-darkest, positive change that really and truly does happen all the time. (See below, the latest news about friend of BTG, Mike.)

Ω FEATURES Φ

REALLY SMART PEOPLE
(Which Obviously Leaves Out Hank Williams, Jr.)

We’re meeting two exceptionally creative talents. Both faced challenges and ultimately created the space in their lives for major positive changes.

First, our paranoid schizoid colleague, Marsha S. (who refuses to use her last name), met with PR icon and friend of BTG Robin Blakely. Then, BTG’s own R.T. Jordan, who is smitten with the new novel On Wings of Affection, coerced the author, George Snyder, to have dinner with him and chat about his life and work. We’ve been productive and quite delighted with ourselves these past two weeks.

ROBIN BLAKELY
INTERVIEW

By Marsha S.

PR Guru, Robin Blakely

Truth be told, I sought out public relations wiz Robin Blakely after tiring of listening to our editorial director at BTG wax on (and on) with larger-than-life Robin Blakely stories. They seemed too outstanding to be true. Like  Readers Digest‘s “The Most Interesting Person” testimonials.

“Robin set up my book tour while she was in the hospital undergoing a kidney transplant!”

“Robin stalked a top editor in New York until he begged her to let him publish my first book!”

“Robin booked me onto a TV show in San Francisco, while she was simultaneously mowing her lawn, breast-feeding the baby, and raising chinchillas for fun and profit.”

I wanted to personally meet this super hero publicist/author/guru/mentor. Turns out that although our editorial director’s stories were mainly apocryphal, there was a lot of veracity to his claims, at least to the degree that Blakely is a powerhouse who goes way above and beyond the call to get the job done and whose clients always come first, often without knowing any of the behind-the-scenes drama.

Blakely is a media coach for writers, industry leaders, and nonprofit professionals.  “I help build professional platforms that serve as infrastructures for people to build their brands,” she says, describing her unique job.  “These days, I am steering new and seasoned authors with entrepreneurial spirits through the e-book and POD process to build solid franchises. And because so many creative talents feel professionally lost in the sharp transition of the publishing landscape, I have begun to do a different kind of PR therapy—I provide special coaching to high achievers who have temporarily lost their mojo.”

Blakely has worked with dozens and dozens of authors and industry experts to build their brands. “My role has typically been to help authors understand how to transform their book products into marketing tools so they can make a real living as writers, often in spite of the publishing industry,” she says. “That’s why I’m so excited by recent developments in E-publishing and print on demand. People finally have a chance to truly manage their own creative careers from concept through distribution.”

Perhaps Blakely’s unique understanding of media comes from her early career as a  reporter for a Los Angeles radio station where she covered everything in the northern end of LA County from dead bodies to space shuttle landings. Later, she became the producer for that radio station’s daily talk show. “I booked all kinds of great authors, comedians, celebrities, astronauts, test pilots, politicians, I even got the Vice President to call in from Air Force One. It was a blast,” she recalls. “In that capacity, I had a great opportunity to see every kind of press kit imaginable and be pitched to by top press people. I also had the chance to develop a Rolodex a mile wide. That job provided a foundation of experience that has served me to this day”

“DREAMS ARE NOT FREE.” – Robin Blakely

Robin was inspired to start her PR company when her first marriage ended in a hellish divorce. “I started with an old IBM Selectric typewriter, two chronically ill kids, half an oatmeal-colored couch, and a rented two bedroom-two bath apartment,” Blakely recalls. “My previous experience: research, writing, talking on the phone and persuading people to do things. My first home office was so small that I had to take the sliding doors off the closet to fit my desk and my bed in the same room. My file system was in my bathtub. There was one phone in the kitchen and the first time I got call backs from CNN, I had to write my notes on a paper plate with a blue crayon because the telephone cord would not reach my desk. But who cared? I was getting call backs for clients from CNN, and the Los Angeles Times, and a whole bunch more top places in my first few weeks of business. It was exhilarating.”

Raised in Missouri, with all of those famed Midwestern values of hard work, Blakely is a total believer that one doesn’t have to have money to make their dreams come true. “But you must have a can-do attitude and be ready to throw your whole self into what you’re doing … like it matters … because it does matter,” she insists. “To me, the real issue is rarely about being scared to take the plunge … it’s more about being afraid not to take the plunge. Jump in! Follow your passion!”

Robin Blakely graciously agreed to share a Chinese chicken salad and lemonade with me as I asked my revelatory questions:

MS: LET’S START WITH WHY YOU MOVED BACK TO THE MIDWEST AFTER SO MUCH SUCCESS IN CALIFORNIA?

RB: I live with my husband, our thirteen year-old son, and our two commuting college kids in a suburb of Kansas City.  We moved here because I wanted my kids to have a chance to really get to know my elderly mother. My mom is an amazing 90-year-old who is young enough to enjoy Facebook and old enough to tell you firsthand that John Steinbeck got some things wrong in the Grapes of Wrath—she knows because she was actually in those Okie camps around the same time he did his research.

MS: PUBLICISTS ARE KNOWN TO HAVE VERY CRANKY CLIENTS. WE KNOW THAT YOU’VE HAD ONE OR TWO OF YOUR OWN. TELL US ABOUT THE HURDLES OF WORKING WITH THOSE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE A LIFE OF YOUR OWN.

RB: One afternoon, my mom had a critical health issue and I got news that she was being rushed to one of several area hospitals. While I was waiting for details, a particularly high maintenance client called me. I told the client about my unfolding crisis. She responded with one of the most shallow, self-absorbed remarks I ever heard.  She said, “While you are waiting to find out if your mother is alive, can we discuss which outfit I should wear on the Today Show?” That moment became a turning point in my career.  I realized that a huge portion of my clientele—not everyone—but a large percentage of the important people I was working with were not only remarkably uncaring and insensitive, but I didn’t even want them in my world.  What a predicament! I shifted gears the next day, backed up, and headed down a different road with my career.  I was nice to that client, of course.  The answer to the Today Show question was the new blue suit, no patterns, soft lines, minimal jewelry. A few days later I fired her and a handful of others.  I am grateful to that client now for showing me a glimpse of a future place where I would never want to be … and I’m glad I had the guts to turn around and run toward a client base composed of much better humans.

MS: WE’VE HEARD THAT YOU ONCE SECRETLY WORKED FROM YOUR HOSPITAL BED TO HELP A CLIENT. WHAT WERE THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES AND WHY DIDN’T YOU WANT YOUR CLIENT TO KNOW THAT YOU WERE IN THE HOSPITAL?

RB: I’d like to say that I was secretly working from my hospital bed because I was so freaking dedicated, but there was more to it than that. I went into premature labor with my third child weeks before he was due. I was scared to death and there was nothing I could do about it. The doctor told me to relax.  Laying still is not how I relax. In fact, the stillness made me feel frantic. My husband knew that the best way for me to remain calm was to distract me with a project I was enjoying. So Mark got everything set up at my hospital bed. I didn’t want the client to know what was going on because that would’ve sucked the fun out of it. The client would have told me to stop. Instead, I stayed in bed, my husband hovered over me, we had a few laughs with the client, and we got some pretty good bookings from that hospital bed. Not how everyone would handle things, but looking back, it was the best thing for me and my family.

MS: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS TO HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR DREAM GOAL? HOW SHOULD THEY PREPARE THEMSELVES EMOTIONALLY AND OTHERWISE?

RB: Surround yourself with good people who will watch your back and will believe in you even when you wonder why. Then, try to see yourself as an entrepreneur. Build a franchise around who you are—you are the brand. Cultivate your audience carefully. Realize that your climb can be steep and many of the setbacks are everyone’s setbacks, not just the world against you personally. Most of all, accept that you are living through the birth of a new era. Writers can succeed as pioneers right now. Understand that it’s possible to utilize your book products as marketing tools as well as products.  The sky’s the limit.

MS: WE KNOW FOR A FACT THAT YOU HAD A GREAT DEAL TO WITH DISCOVERING NOVELIST BEN TYLER AND SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHING HIS BOOK-SELLING CAREER. TELL US HOW THAT HAPPENED.

RB: Well, that’s kind of a funny story. Here’s how I remember it: I simply adored (and still adore) the guy behind the pen name. He’d let me read a manuscript he’d written that I thought had tremendous merit. I desperately wanted to sell his work and he agreed to let me send his cool manuscript to a few editors who I knew—that is, editors who I knew the names of. I did my research and made my pitches. One editor who I really, really wanted to buy the manuscript wrote me the nicest rejection letter I had ever seen. I knew the guy was sorry he had to turn my client down. So I called that editor and chatted with him about all the glowing remarks he’d made in his rejection letter. I asked him what I could bring back to him from the same author that would compel him to make us an offer. He seemed a little surprised but he told me that he was buying gay novels. I had never actually read a gay novel, but I knew that my author possessed mad writing skills, so I said, “I’ll be back with the best proposal you’ve ever seen.” Then I called the author and said, “Sooo, got any ideas for a gay novel?” Of course he had a ton of ideas. Ben Tyler wrote the most hilarious proposal and that editor made an offer on Tricks of the Trade before it was even written.

Ben Tyler's first novel, TRICKS OF THE TRADE, agented by Robin Blakely

By the time the book was done, we had a three-book deal. It was the first gay novel I ever read. I loved the writer’s voice and the cover is simply fabulous—airbrushed underpants and all.

MS: YOU ALSO REPRESENTED OUR VERY OWN R.T. JORDAN. TELL US ABOUT YOUR ASSOCIATION WITH HIM AND HOW THAT BEGAN.

RB: I first heard of R.T. Jordan and his book But Darling, I’m Your Auntie Mame! from a writer at the Santa Barbara Writing Conference. Pretty soon, I got to meet him. When we chatted, his sense of humor and his incredible eye for detail just delighted me—still do. As fate would have it, R.T. Jordan signed up to be one of my publicity clients on my wedding day—which is why we always toast R.T. on our anniversary each year. That summer, we got to promote his book while he promoted the blockbuster movie Armageddon for Disney. Fast forward a few years and one of the biggest R.T. Jordan moments for me was when he launched the Polly Pepper Mystery series. I simply loved the characters from one of his earlier novellas and I wanted very much to see more of Hollywood icon Polly. R.T. dedicated that first book in the series to me. My dream for that line of books is a TV series. I’m a big TV fan of the hit series Monk and Colombo and I know Polly will translate to screen fabulously.

MS: I KNOW THAT YOU’RE VERY PROUD OF YOUR CLIENTS. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR MOST PROMINENT AUTHOR, REBECCA FORSTER.

RB: Rebecca is amazing. Just last week she had three of her novels in the top 10 on Kindle’s legal thriller list. She kept bumping The Lincoln Lawyer for the #1 spot! And a fourth novel of hers was at number 18. I’m proud of all my clients on some important levels, but three of my clients stand out to me because they have become such dear family friends. I’ve worked with these three so long that it’s hard to find the seams between where their dreams end and my dreams for them begin. Each is giving, generous, and kind. Each has extreme talent and creativity, way above the norm. Rebecca Forster writes legal thrillers. Jen Singer writes humor. R.T. Jordan writes comedy mysteries. I am bursting with pride to be involved in some small way with their careers and in their lives.

MS:  YOU’RE ALSO THE AUTHOR OF A SELF-HELP BOOK TITLED PR THERAPY. TELL US ABOUT THE BOOK. WHY DID YOU WRITE IT?

RB: I wrote PR Therapy to address promotional outreach issues that can make or break a person’s success.

"PR THERAPY" by ROBIN BLAKELY

Many people with passion, especially creative thinkers who love to write, have some common hang-ups when it comes to promoting who they are and what they do. PR Therapy helps people do promotional outreach that’s rooted in authenticity, never artificial hype.

MS: WHO SHOULD HAVE THIS BOOK ON THEIR BOOKSHELF OR KINDLE?

RB: PR Therapy is for anybody who has created their own product or service or who has to promote themselves as a brand.

MS: ROBIN BLAKELY HAS WORKED HARD FOR HERSELF AND HER CLIENTS. WHAT’S LEFT FOR YOU TO ACHIEVE? WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

RB: Technology has finally caught up with how I want to be able to work. It’s a very exciting time for me. My phone costs $100 a month and I can do everything on it. The future has finally arrived. When I started out I used to pay $400 a month just to talk, and the phone had a cord. I want to do more of what I have been doing, only in this new world of cool tools. I plan to write, consult with fun people, produce cool stuff, and enjoy my family.

MS: WHAT DOES CHAPTER TWO OF ROBIN BLAKELY’S LIFE LOOK LIKE TO ROBIN?

RB: I’ve wanted to get back into radio for some time and I’m getting ready now to act as a segment producer for a business radio show.  So I am looking for business writers as guests. I love to write. I love to consult. I have several book projects that I am working on now. One is called Mojo Rehab. One is PR Therapy for Nonprofits. And there’s a top-secret strategy book that I am about to finish.

MS: DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE?

RB: A few years ago I bought a sign for my desk that expressed a particular sentiment that really resonated with me. The problem was the nice message by itself didn’t have enough oomph. It needed a touch of excitement, humor, drama. So I bought a large, scary-looking Godzilla monster to hold the little sign. I probably glance at that a dozen times a day, and it makes me smile. It’s how I recommend facing the world. Look Godzilla in the damn eye daily and as the little sign clearly states: “Make today the best day of your life.”

MS: ARE YOU ACCEPTING NEW CLIENTS? IF SO, HOW SHOULD THEY CONTACT YOU?

RB: I am accepting new clients! My coaching programs are affordable, fun, and very structured with homework and noted feedback. If you hire me, expect to work hard and get things done. E-mail me: Robin@robinblakely.com.

MS: GIVE US ONE WORD THAT YOU THINK HONESTLY DESCRIBES YOU.

RB: My husband said that word would be ‘genuine.’ My oldest son and daughter independently said, ‘hardworking.’ My youngest son said, ‘smart.’ I think the best word is ‘happy.’

In conclusion, I’d add, EXTRAORDINARY!

Good friends recommend good books. With the demise of many independent bookstores, and some big chains such as Borders (who have the blood of the indies on their proverbial corporate hands) closing their doors, one no longer has the pleasure of roaming book store aisles and discovering a new title or author. We  at BTG rely on friends to make suggestion. There’s also the very cool website Good Reads. But if a trusted chum says, “You must read this!” we’re there!

Which is how we discovered On Wings of Affection by George Snyder.

After reading this classy, literary murder mystery set in contemporary West Hollywood, we did something we don’t often do––we sent an e-mail to the author telling him that we liked his work. Liked it a lot! Noted author/teacher/mentor Carolyn See suggests this practice of writing notes. (We once made a public spectacle of ourselves when we met our favorite comedy mystery writer Laura Levine at a friend’s book signing. However, we try to forget that instead of a note, we shamelessly slavered all over her.) Thankfully, Mr. Snyder is as gracious as he is talented and the next morning, we found a response from him in our in-box.

We’re not shy about snooping into others’ lives (even though famous authors intimidate us). However, our editorial director R.T. Jordan can’t be bothered with social etiquette. When he wants to chat up someone he admires, the boy next door disappears and Mike Wallace emerges. Here’s R.T.’s report.

INTERVIEW: GEORGE SNYDER, AUTHOR,
On Wings of Affection
.

By R.T. Jordan

On Wings of Affection by George Snyder

It’s not often that I read an absorbing novel that takes place in my own neighborhood, with characters who are on the periphery of my social circle: The rich. Famous/infamous. Wannabees. Poseurs. Ne’er-do-wells. Etc. A beloved colleague in the office brought me a gift of a copy of On Wings of Affection. A gift indeed!  The Lambda Literary magazine calls On Wings of Affection, “… a recommended read for anyone wanting to spruce up the darkening days of autumn with the spirit of some summer-like exuberance.”

I bribed author George Snyder to have dinner with me with at Il Covo (try their risotto!!!) in West Hollywood. We shared an immediate sympatico and here’s some of what we talked about:

RTJ: LET’S START WITH THE BASICS. WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED?

GS: Like Vera Charles I was born in Pittsburgh, so right away I knew I had to do something.  [Ed. Note. We like this man already!] My parents decamped soon after I was born, however, and moved north to a farm on Lake Erie.  Soon thereafter my father got the urge to move west and we did.  To Ohio.  Mother never cared much for Ohio, but my formative years were spent in that state.

Happily I had no trouble being accepted to the schools I applied to for college.  Unhappily they expected me to pay.  So my mother marched down to the Methodist church where she had some pull and called in a few favors, and I got to go to school on scholarship to a little Methodist liberal arts college in Ohio called Baldwin-Wallace.  Which was just as well; anything more exciting would have done me in.  Later I went on to graduate school at the University of Chicago but by that time I was vastly more experienced at making friends and getting into gay bars.  Chicago was fun.

RTJ: TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER. WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO FULFILLING YOUR DREAMS?

GS: I always wanted to be a writer.  I romanticized the idea a great deal, I’m afraid.  My models were English lady novelists from that great period of novel-writing between the Wars.  So I aspired to be like Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keene, and then later on I was profoundly influenced by the novels of Iris Murdoch and Muriel Spark.  I didn’t read many men until later.  As a marketing plan, it was probably doomed, patterning myself after these great ladies, but there you are.  I was a strange child.

George Snyder, Author, On Wings of Affection

I’ve always wanted to write novels, and people kept advising me to write short stories.  But I don’t like reading short stories very much, and the ones I tried to write reflected my disinterest.  A man whose work I did read, Truman Capote, said he always started out trying to write a short story and it would turn into a novel.  But really I like what Iris Murdoch said about novels, that the good ones are about love.  I do think that’s true and it’s why I love them.  Or the ones that are about love, at any rate.

RTJ: YOU ALSO WORKED IN TELEVISION FOR MANY YEARS. TELL US ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE.

GS: I did work in television, it was completely by accident.  I met a lovely man who was looking for an assistant.  Oh well, I said, I’m sure you want a pretty Cindy Lou Hoo to be your assistant, and he admitted he did, but then he said he thought his wife would prefer me.  Prefer that he have me, that is, instead of a cute blonde girl. And so he did.  Not, you know, “have” me, but he hired me and I was with him for 100 episodes of a show about a girl who slays vampires.  I learned so much from him.  He said he always thought it was a compliment in television to be suspected of being gay.  Gay or Jewish.  He was always flattered when people thought he was either, or both.  All the best people in television are gay or Jewish, was his opinion.

RTJ: YOU HAVE FULFILLED YOUR DREAM OF BECOMING A NOVELIST. LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR DEBUT NOVEL, ON WINGS OF AFFECTION.

GS: On Wings of Affection grew out of my blog.  I’d gotten discouraged with my writing – I have a very hard time with rejection, and the endless sending out your manuscript to have it sent back unread or turned down – and a friend suggested I do a blog.  It was fun, and it was good writing exercise, and out of it a voice began to emerge.  With the voice came characters and the next thing I knew I had enough material to write the first book in this series I’m working on, the Sam, Pam and Didier Adventure Series, an episodic saga about life in the city of fallen angels.

Now I write every day.  I get up at five, turn on the lap top, open my current document, go put the water on for coffee, come back and start typing.  I always have the dimmest hope of producing anything worth the effort, and every day a couple of hours later I decide it wasn’t so bad and I give myself permission to go on living.  Then I close up, shower and dress and go to my day job.

RTJ: WE ALL HAVE A “DAY JOB,” DON’T WE?

GS: Yes, I have a day job.  Luckily.  There are days when I think it would be lovely to stay here and write all day, but the truth is, I need my time away from writing, and so it is very nice to have somewhere to go to.  But juggling a job and a writing career is never simple, is it.  I’ve tried different jobs and different combinations – I was a teacher, I worked in the auction business cataloguing books and manuscripts, I worked for a writer in television… I think whatever gives you structure and leaves some time left over for you to write is a good combination.  But it’s tricky.

RTJ: THE COVER ART FOR YOUR NOVEL IS VERY SEDUCTIVE. WAS THE DESIGN YOUR IDEA?

GS: I love the cover of On Wings of Affection.

“Artsy” first cover idea for On Wings of Affection.

I loved my first effort which was an artsy effort with marbled paper and a handwritten label – something Virginia Woolf might have done at the Hogarth Press, you know? But it was great fun when friends suggested we get a nice young man to take his clothes off and photograph him leaning languidly, pensively in a window.  A lesbian friend of mine was horrified by the bulge in the underwear, but I told her we’d photo-shopped it down because in the original his penis was so enormous it was just too much of a distraction.  She screamed.

The title comes from a made-up translation of a Persian poem about birds – the excerpt I “translated” is on the title page.  People hate the title.  They think it sounds like a romance by one of those English lady novelists from between the wars.  Hello, that was the idea! It’s a book that’s literally for the birds!  HA!  The problem is, people have to read the book in order to find out that perhaps I’m being funny. At least a little bit.  Perhaps I was too subtle, do you think?

RTJ: YOU’VE JUST PUBLISHED THE SECOND BOOK IN THE SERIES. TELL US ABOUT THE LATEST IN THE TRILOGY.

GS: Book Two in the series is called Down the Garden Path.  Now, I think that title should make it clear I’m not deadly earnest and serious – I’m leading the reader down the garden path, as in leading you astray, and having fun, and being silly.  A little.  I hope people ‘get it.’  It’s always hard to know, however, what people will get.  Book one was all about birds.  Book two is all about flowers and gardens and plants.  In Book one the evil decorator was Mr. Tanager.  In Book two I focus on the evil landscape architect, Beau Thorne.  He’s gorgeous and very ambitious.

RTJ: WE KNOW FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THE CHALLENGE OF WORKING A DEMANDING FULL-TIME JOB, AND WRITING NOVELS. WHAT HAS THE EXPERIENCE BEEN FOR YOU?

GS: This is, by the way, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, showing up to write every morning even when I think it’s futile and pointless.  I don’t come from a world where people grow up to be novelists.  They grow up to be husbands and fathers and businessmen like my brothers.  But not novelists.  And yet, my family has been very nice about it, all things considered.  I’ve always been rather the black sheep, however.  At least I wasn’t locked away in a sheltered workshop and not allowed to mingle with the general population – there was a time when it was a bit touch and go on that front!

Now there’s not enough time in the day, of course, to do everything.  When I’m not writing or working, I like to read.  I’ve done lots of things in my life, but these days if I have free time I find myself coming back to my writing, or reading.  There’s so much to read, and I do love it.  Friends like to do things, and I go along, I do enjoy travel and museums and concerts and dinner parties and films, but as I said, there’s not enough time for everything, friends get annoyed.  You never want to do anything, they say.  You never have time.  No, I don’t!

RTJ: WE ENJOY YOUR BLOG, 1904, BUT WE’RE INTRIGUED ABOUT THE TITLE. TELL US ABOUT THIS FASCINATING BLOG.

GS: 1904 is my blog.  I started with 1904 because it’s a special year for me, so many of the people and things I love date from 1904, it’s the year The Cherry Orchard, Peter Pan, Madama Butterfly all premiered, the year Henry James’s The Golden Bowl (okay, one of the male novelists I like) was published, the year Nancy Mitford, Christopher Isherwood, Cecil Beaton, and Cary Grant were all born.  I rest my case!  But now 1904 is just about anything I decide I want to write about.  1904 is a way of organizing and framing my interests.  And once you start organizing and framing anything, you start giving it meaning and importance.  Look for meaning anywhere and you find it.  Or something close.  I love that.

RTJ: WHAT IS THE ONE WORD THAT YOU THINK BEST DESCRIBES YOU?

GS: One word to describe me? Earnest. I do think I am.  And it’s important to be earnest.  And yes, there’s also the other meaning.  In Oscar Wilde’s time,  “Are you earnest?” was the equivalent of “Are you a friend of Dorothy’s?” or “Do you ride the short bus?”   Earnest is more than just code for gay, though.  I think it’s more a word to describe a sensibility.  Gay can mean going to the gym and going to clubs and going on websites like Man4Man and Adam4Adam.  Gay sensibility means all of that and Peter Pan and Madama Butterfly and Cecil Beaton and Nancy Mitford too.  The same but slightly different, if you know what I mean.

RTJ: Read a fascinating article written by George Snyder in the current issue of  The Advocate. It’s all about self-publishing and makes me want to haul out that dusty/musty manuscript that everyone turned down years ago and breathe new life into it. You may want to do the same after reading this piece.

Plays Well With Others. Or Not.
An essay in one (long) sentence that reminds us that Prince Charming is as fucked up as (back to him again) Hank Williams, Jr.
 

LUST IN THE TIME OF CHAT ROOMS
By Anonymous

Have you ever met someone and within a few seconds Roberta Flack is singing “The first time ever I saw your face” in your ear, and he shows you a picture of himself from the 1990s and you think, “Have I seen this before in Esquire or GQ?” and you know this person could make you happy today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life, and you can see the world in his luminous, wise eyes, and imagine that if you were to look at him over a candle-lit supper you might forget to breathe, and you think, At last!—this is the one I’ve been waiting for, all the others were pretenders, and suddenly you are outside yourself watching everything you do or say, measuring, calculating, strategizing, hoping he likes puppies and is kind to them, and then suddenly it’s the next morning and the last frames of Days and Wine and Roses are fading on the screen and the film unspools and clicks and clicks and clicks against the projector and there’s nothing but dust in the sickly yellow beam of light and you wonder if it was all a dream and you get up and make yourself a cup of coffee and you start another day and you give thanks for the wet nose that nudges your ankle and wants some love?

MIKE IS CLIMBING OUT OF HELL.

In the weeks/months that we’ve been trying to provide a personal understanding of, and compassion for, the millions of homeless people, we’ve introduced you to Mike, a friend of BRUISES THE GIN. (Read more about him in our archived editions.) We’re really psyched to have some exceptionally good news to report. As of last week, Mike has a job! He’s working at the Mazda car plant outside Detroit. The pay is just above minimum wage, and Mike is still homeless. But at least he can afford a motel room. We want to share this recent e-mail. It’s an affirmation of our intuitive feeling that Mike is a survivor.

MIKE: Started working Monday the 19th from 6:30 am –– 3:00 pm at the Ford/Mazda plant in Flat Rock, MI where they build the Ford Mustang and the Mazda 6.  It’s pretty cool, I drive the cars from the plant to the Warehousing lot across the street.  It’s pretty easy.  There is a shuttle van that picks me and the other drivers up (usually 4 or 5 other people) at the start of our shift, takes us over to the plant, drops us off near the line of finished Mustangs/Mazda 6s that have just rolled off the assembly line.  You get in a car, start it, blast the radio, and drive it across Vreeland Rd., a 4-lane road that separates the manufacturing plant from the huge lot across the street where you park the car in its assigned spot.  The parking spot is predetermined by the cars final destination, and whether it is being delivered by semi-truck or by rail.  The trick is finding the correct parking spot in the correct parking lot.  There are several different lots:  RE (Rail East), RW (Rail West), Tr (Truck), and then it gets into other lot names like SP (?), RX (?), RA (?), C Lot, and Glass (for Mustangs that are having their brand new roofs ripped off and replaced with a full glass roof).  If your paperwork says Tr-P-98, you take it to the Truck lot, Row P, spot 98.  Each lot is different – some lot spaces are alphabetized, some lot spaces are numbered, some are both, some are neither.  But the best part is that I get to listen to the radio all day, and drive some pretty sweet Mustang BOSS 302s and Shelby Mustang GT500s!  Not bad for a car geek, huh?  A job driving cars!

[Ed. Note: Mike didn’t give up. Change was forced upon him. He was scared shitless. He was humiliated. He starved. He asked himself if he shouldn’t simply end his life. Thanks for not giving up on yourself, Mike. You’re an inspiration to us, and I’m certain that every reader who has followed your path through BTG, is as thrilled as we are.]

Mike’s most recent e-mail correspondence: Well, I’m off to my humble abode, aka Clearview Motel Room #4.  I’m gonna make tacos and watch Two and a Half Men later.  I never watched it when Charlie Sheen was on, but I was so intrigued by the addition of Ashton that now I’m kinda hooked. 

AND THE WINNER IS …:

We’re delighted that so many readers participated in our combination quiz and cry for help in the September 15 edition of BTG. We asked for confirmation of the correct attribution for the quote, “Scratch an actor and you’ll find an actress.” Many of our readers proved that the attribution was indeed Dorothy Parker (as we always suspected). Our randomly selected correct devoted reader, Chris O’Brien, from Ann Arbor, Michigan wins a subscription to Musical Stages magazine. Check it out our September 15 edition of BTG for an enlightening interview with Lynda Trapnell, the owner and publisher of Musical Stages. You’ll want to subscribe, too.

PORTFOLIO

We’re concluding this edition of BRUISES THE GIN, with an intriguing gallery of images created by the California-based Photoshop artist/author Andrew W.M. Beierle (whose work has appeared in recent editions of this E-zine/blog). Be prepared to start talking about this emerging artist!

Beierle loves to poke fun at the GOP. But then, they are such an easy target. Is Sarah worried about what she has unleashed among Michelle, Mitt, and Rick?

Brangelina, up close and personal! Perhaps too close!

If we can have “Diana at 50” why not JFK at 94 and Jayne Mansfield at 78? A boy can dream, can't he?

Yes, we make potty jokes, but they are PATRIOTIC potty jokes!