Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Repeat after me

Rape is not sex
Rape is not sex
Rape is not sex.

Rape is the opposite of sex.

Rape is not a consequence of too much alcohol or too little clothing. No Kevin Spacey, rape is not a predictable end result of any sexual orientation. Rape is not epidemic because we have somehow lost genteel society. Rape is a felony. Rapists are criminals and they should go to prison just like bank robbers or murderers. Rapists do not have a lack of gentlemanly training. This isn't 1805 and it's not about failing to offer a lady a handkerchief at the formal ball.

Rape is an act of violence, not sex. Rapist feel powerful when they attack someone because they tend to feel powerless in their everyday life.

If the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Roy Moore are true, and the evidence is preponderous, neither of them needs counseling or a forceful chat with the HR department. They need to go to prison.

Sorry, Bill Maher, Harvey Weinstein doesn't need to "take better care of himself", lose weight or shave more often so he can "get laid." This is not about getting laid because rape is not about sex.

Rape. Is. Not. Sex.

Rapists are not sexually frustrated. On the contrary, rapists often are married and/or already have partners they are sexually intimate with. Some even have families with children. And, as the research in the eye-opening 2012 documentary The Invisible War showed, the majority of rapists are serial rapists. In criminal psychology, serial rapists have a lot in common with serial murderers. Serial murderers often begin their criminal careers as rapists. Rapists, exactly like serial murderers, look for opportunity, they look for victims who presumably will be easily overcome and subdued; someone small, someone drunk or impaired, someone young and inexperienced in self defense, someone disabled or unable to run or fight, someone alone, probably someone female.

Rape victims do not get raped because they a) went to the wrong party, b) walked down the wrong street, c) got in the wrong car with the wrong friend or d) left their handgun at home. Victims get raped because a rapist rapes them. Period.

Lumping Senator Al Franken or Louis CK in the same box with Weinstein or Moore is idiotic. Neither Franken or CK are felons. They are stupid, they abused their power but they are likely not rapists. The two women who had the unsavory misfortune to witness Louis CK masturbating in front of them were not raped. They were shocked, scared (because women are conditioned to anticipate odd behavior as a prelude to violence) and later, probably furious. But they are not thankfully rape victims.

Again, Weinstein and Moore are criminals. The former has millions, an entertainment empire, power and people to find and arrange rape victims for him. The latter was so pernicious a pedophile and stalker of teenage girls he was permanently banned from an Alabama strip mall by security guards.

Where it gets confusing -- the conjunction between assaulting a 14-year-old girl behind a restaurant and flashing a coworker your penis -- is called Rape Culture. It's a term that often runs in the same sentence as the War on Women. If you think, like most on the political right, that the War on Women is fictitious then you've never heard of the Congo. Or Yugoslavia. Or the Pink Taxis of Puebla. Or ISIS. Or Jyoti Singh. And on and on the list just keeps getting longer.

Men like Louis CK make the mistake of assuming women are just here for their sexual entertainment because Rape Culture has told them over and over for decades that they are. Every time a hot blonde is strewn across the hood of car in a commercial, every time a video game player has the opportunity to "rape" a character in Grand Theft Auto and every single time there's a televised beauty contest, women are objectified. Objects are things, not people. The first step in suppressing any group of people (African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, etc.) is to make them into stereotypes or caricatures and then objects. Then it's okay to rape and kill them because, Rape Culture tells us, they're not really people.

Our current sitting president attempted to dismiss claims he is a rapist by suggesting one of his victims wasn't hot enough. In the past, he's emceed and produced beauty contests. He is currently married to a former model who's primary resume point is her ability to look fuckable, to fit a stereotype, a pornographic caricature, to be a thing. I suspect, in his narcissism and selfishness, our president sees nearly everyone around him as just a thing.

We cannot stop rape until we learn to discern the difference between men behaving badly (Franken and CK) and rapists (Weinstein and Moore). We cannot dismantle Rape Culture until we dismantle the toxic patriarchy which has been telling us for ages that women are not people but simply things to be: won, earned, bought, possessed, impregnated, discarded, stereotyped and scorned (dumb virgin, slut, conniving whore, gold-digging bitch, etc.).

We cannot stop rape until we see women (and alternately LGBT, brown people, immigrants, etc.) as people. We cannot stop rape until we stop dehumanizing people.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Kitty porn

Just in time for the winter solstice.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

FREE stuff out there on that there Kindle thing

Starting today, my award-winning short story THE WAR WITH CANADA is available for FREE on Amazon Kindle. I also have FREE Audible (US and UK) downloads!!! Leave a comment with your email for the promo code and listen to a top-notch professional voice actor. Always grateful for reviews. Thanks!

Starting today, my short story SOME DEMON is available for FREE on Amazon Kindle. I also have free Audible (US and UK) downloads!!! Leave comment with email addy for the promo code and listen to a professional narrator read one of my stories. Always grateful for reviews. Thanks!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Some Demon

Some Demon narrated by the wonderful Dave Liloia is now up on Audible. Give him a listen. All of my narrators are just mind-blowingly good!

A quadriplegic woman gets help from a supernatural being to free her from the grip of her neglectful relatives.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The War with Canada

My short story, THE WAR WITH CANADA, which placed in the 2012 Bridport Prize anthology UK, is now up on Audible as well as Amazon Kindle.

If you want a free code to download and listen to the amazing Virginia Pettis read this award-winning short story, all you gotta do is ask. Send me a comment on here with your e-addy and I'll fire one off to you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Not Reading Women Authors

The under representation of women authors in publishing (and book reviews) and the debate between literary fiction with a capital "L" versus pop fiction are not new. But something happened several months back which reminded me that Life Is Not Fair. And for folks slugging away at day jobs while their chosen art wilts, it's often flat out mean.

I've been writing since grade school. I started getting singled out for praise by English teachers when I was 11. By the time I was in high school, teachers praising my writing got me bullied. In the 1990s, while in college, my leftist opinion column in the student newspaper got me stalked by fundamentalist Christians and other, mostly male, critics who thought it was their job to shut me up.

Today in 2017, oh how I long for the days of unwanted attention and minor fame.

You see, I took matters into my own hands back in 2015 after years of throwing away hard-earned dollars on entrant fees to: The Missouri Review, The Bellingham Review, Tin House, Fish Publishing, The Boston Review, Zoetrope and dozens of others I can't remember the names of. I did the obscure indy, indy publisher thing (Soft Skull Press). I did Project Greenlight. Twice. Back in 1997, I even "took a meeting" with a Hollywood producer by phone while living in a converted garage next door to meth dealers.

I have been turned down by online publishers as soon as they sussed out I was a "woman" author. In summer 2012 I submitted one of my short stories, Object of Desire, to RedFez.net. I created a profile and listed myself as female. The rejection was quick and condescending. Several months later, after creating a fake profile for "Darren Kennedy" of Boston, Mass., I re-submitted the same story with a different title. RedFez accepted "Darren's" story in less than 48 hours. Understand, this is not new. I've been experiencing the gender apartheid of the literary world for years.

NOT your enemy.

Now I'm on Amazon, the pulp market where all writers go when they run out of contest entrance money and patience. The trouble is, including non-fiction, Amazon publishes roughly a million titles per month. Your fiction writing doesn't drown on Amazon, it disappears under the waves without so much as a ripple.

A year after publishing my short story collection, in between working one full-time and one part-time job, I started on the hamster wheel of self-marketing. I got a Twitter account. I harassed my handful of friends on Facebook for reviews. I got my yoga studio to put copies of my book in their lobby.

And neither is she.
 And then I read about a former instructor of mine in Seattle. I want to emphasize: he's a nice guy. I enjoyed his class and he had a wonderful collection of stories gleaned from years of reading The New Yorker. He turned me on to Lorrie Moore for which I am grateful.

He's published two novels, sold the film rights to one and done readings all over the country. His Amazon author's page is a sea of positive reviews. Last I checked, his first novel has over 29 five-star reviews. And these reviews are from the likes of Garth Stein.

My first thought when I saw the plethora of reviews was: How? Did he pay them, buy them lunch, dog sit? Did his publicist have sex with them?

But then he is a man. He is white. He is hetero, has the prescribed two kids and a wife. He's also about 15 years younger than me.

Here are some other things he has that I do not: a bachelor's degree from a prestigious eastern college and, of course, he has an MFA. He has run workshops, one of which I attended. He teaches creative writing in public schools part-time.

In 2012, I tried to get a job as a front desk clerk at the same writer's collective he teaches workshops at. It was answering phones and directing people to the right classroom. Over 170 people applied for this front desk job. They picked a young, white guy who was finishing his MFA to answer the phone.

A couple months back, this nice guy, this published author, won an artist's grant for $10,000. He had been applying for it for several years. He was interviewed in a Seattle weekly paper. He talked about misconceptions people have about published authors, like how they're all rolling in dough. He works multiple part-time jobs here and there but they are in his chosen field -- a luxury I've never come close to experiencing. He then mentioned that the ten grand would not cover a year of child care for one of his kids.

I can't even wrap my head around the sum of $10,000 but then I've been using food banks to fill my fridge off and on for several years. Every other week I have to decide what to do with five pounds of raw cauliflower, a bucket of cottage cheese and no garlic. Recipes, anyone?

I want to not criticize, but Jesus-fucking-Christ-on-a-cracker you won a literary artist's grant during a time when over half the bookstores in America are gone, most publishing companies have disappeared, fiction readership has sunk to a new low and MFA applicants like this young woman are saying they don't want to become "beach read" authors. In fact, she would rather go un-published than become airport fiction, popular literature, or yes, the ultimate put-down "chick lit."

Well, fuck that.

After decades (I'm 51) of working endless temp jobs to keep a roof over my head, I'd happily join the ranks of E. L. James or Stephenie Meyers. I'd give my left tit for one-tenth the financial success that either of these women have achieved just to be able to pay off the inch-deep stack of bills on my desk, move to a nicer apartment or, quit my day job and become a for-real writer. Who cares if they write about sparkly vampires or four-hour sodomy sessions. The point is, they're writing and they have readers. They have enough readers to fill the convention center in Seattle to overflowing. In the end, pop fiction writers are doing what all writers, if we have half a brain, should be doing -- they're getting their stuff read. I will never jump on the Hate Wagon for James or Meyers. They understand that writing, like everything in our consumer society, is a business and they're good at it.

I suspect 20 years from now, nobody will remember my former instructor or his two published books. Holographic screens, direct brain feeds, whatever we're using in 2037, will not carry his writing. But people will know who the two most hated female authors of the last 10 years are just as we know of Charles Dickens. Or Harper Lee. Or Danielle Steele.

Or Jo Rowling.

If you're a man and you write book reviews and/or you're a published author you don't need to be a misogynist to keep women shut out of literature. You probably don't have a bigoted bone in your frumpy Hipster body.

If, like my former instructor who won the grant, you have a daughter, you probably have contemplated the idea that her life might be a tad harder than yours. The hurdles and obstacles laid out for her may be more numerous and higher than the ones you've encountered. You'll contemplate this possibility ... and then you'll forget about it and go back to re-reading David Foster Wallace, Brett Easton Ellis or Jack Kerouac. And you will continue to unconsciously do what you've been doing all along: not reading women authors and, by example, encourage others to do the same.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thirty minutes of your time

Four of my short stories are available on iTunes and Audible right now. If you'd like a freebie code to download and listen to any of them, please comment on here and include your email address so I can send the code. In return, I just need a 20-word review on Amazon or iTunes. Your pick.





GATOR COUNRY and BRAVE SUCKER are narrated by the straight-shooting John Tambascio. THOSE LITTLE DEATHS was narrated by the crazy talented Virginia Pettis. And LAND OF NOD is narrated by the king of cool narrative Phil Martin.

Suffice it to say all of these voice actors have made me reluctant to ever read my own writing again. They're that good.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Land of Nod

Beginning March 5th, my short story LAND OF NOD is available for free download on Amazon Kindle.

It's also available as an audio book on Amazon Audible and iTunes.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Read them or hear them


My short stories GATOR COUNTRY and BRAVE SUCKER are available on Audible and iTunes and they are both available for FREE on Amazon Kindle right now!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Read me, see me and hear me

Thanks to a publishing-savvy friend I'm getting all the stories from my short story collection, WEST OF YOU, up on Audible/iTunes. Via the Audible site I discovered some incredible, amazing voice actors who are producing the short stories. The first one, GATOR COUNTRY, is up and running on Amazon and iTunes.

Narrator John Tambascio does a flawless Canadian cowboy. Check it out.