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Am I a Writer Yet?

When Can I Call Myself a Writer?

Whilst drinking coffee this morning,  I stumbled over this article: http://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2014/06/can-you-call-yourself-a-writer/
And I began to wonder … (Yes, yes, I realize that I was procrastinating.)
For many years now I've called myself a writer. I have always secretly wanted to be a writer. In seventh grade I wrote a short Halloween story for the school newsletter. I followed that with a Christmas story. Then nothing. I wrote essays and read obsessively. I wrote poetry- most of it pretty bad. When I went to college I studied English and Composition, and the very first elective course I ever signed on for was creative writing, in which I learned that I knew nothing.
Which was fine. College for me consisted a great deal of learning that all the myths I'd convinced myself were true in high school were false. My parents were smarter than I was. They had
it right. Earning money writing – enough to support myself—wasn't going to happen. The world wasn't a black and white place. Shades of grey were real. Republicans had some good ideas, so did Democrats.
I earned a degree in education and put my writing dreams on the back shelf. I forced myself to be content with writing unique essays, and supporting myself.
I read great books and I envied the people who could send me soaring to new dimensions and new worlds with their characters and settings. I gorged on mysteries and romances and fantasies, and I went to work and supported myself.
I graded essays and corrected grammar and tried to encourage young minds to think great thoughts in a logical manner.
And I won't say that I withered and shriveled, out of my element. I was a damned good teacher and I still receive emails and calls from former students saying thank you… you taught me to write and I just got into Harvard, or I got my PhD, or I'm getting married on Saturday and I wrote my own vows.
But one day, I stopped supporting myself and moved to the country. I had a whole new life, outside the city, without the pressure of work, and it took me a while to relax and recover. I soaked in the slower pace, the more earthy pursuits, the less stressful environment.
And one day, as I drove across country, a story unfolded in my head. I remembered that

sensation. That wonderful, enthralling, eagerness when you tell yourself a story…when you meet people who live in your head for the very first time and the outside world turns gray and the inner world bursts into vibrant, ultra-rich color.
Mack and Lex told me their story from beginning to end in an eight hour drive from the east coast to middle America, misunderstandings and conflicting plans, what they liked to wear and eat. The things – the insecurities— that stood in their way, that prevented them from being one hundred percent together and invested in each other.
Oh. This wasn't a mystery or the great American novel I'd fantasized about writing in my teen years.
Oh no.
This was…romance. In a form that didn't even exist when I was a kid.
This was a short story- about two men falling in love and figuring out how to be together.
It wasn't literary.
I couldn't do this.
But I couldn't shake it either.
When I got home, I went to bed and I told myself my story again, fine tuning bits of it as I drifted off to sleep. And when I woke… I made the coffee, sent the SO off to work, and I sat down at my computer and I started typing.
That was how I spent August of 2010. Typing my story. Fixing my typos. Proofing and rewording and making it shine. And researching. I knew my story wasn't what traditional big six publishers were looking for. It was too short for one thing. And too Gay for another.
I made a list of eBook publishers – much more gay friendly than the Big 6—and I studied their guidelines on submissions. (*eye roll* Now there's a discussion topic for another day.) I carefully packaged up my baby and sent a query to the first publisher on my list, then I sat back and waited. And while I waited, another story came to life. I started work on that story, getting it on paper, figuring out how to make it work.
I didn’t call myself a writer yet.
Even though I spent a good six hours a day actually typing and a great deal more time networking and building an author presence on line, and learning about the world of writing, I didn't call myself a writer.
Then I got my first rejection on my first story. A milestone. It was kind and helpful and very detailed.
I set aside my current projects and started revising my first story. I made it more active, intensified the conflict, and I finished my second story.
I had two completed novellas, and I'd learned that the 21st century had something called self-publishing. Alternatives. I had choices. And I had two perfect vehicles for exploring those choices.
I took my second story, and I submitted it to a publishing house that specialized in eBooks and judging from their catalogue of offerings, did quite well with gay romance. The other, I decided to self-publish. I would conduct a grand experiment, I told myself, to see which method of publishing suited me better. I self-published one book and sat back to wait on word from the publisher about the other.
And I started my next book.
And I still didn't call myself a writer.
Self-published books didn't really count, did they? That fact was hammered home to me by a casual Facebook friend who asked in private chat, "Well, what was wrong with your first book that you had to self-publish it?" OUCH! Yeah, not a writer yet.
In November of 2010, I sent book #3 off to a different publisher, because the publisher who had book #2 wasn't very speedy in their decision making process. By December I had a contract for book #3 from the publisher and five finished manuscripts plus one self-published piece.
Could I call myself a writer then?
Fast forward four years. I call myself a writer today. I have written over 50 short novellas and short stories. Roughly half are self-published, and half with publishing houses. When did I make the change from "not-a-writer" to "writer"?
I don't honestly know. I know that writing has changed from fun to work to fun and back again a hundred times in the last four years. I am either swimming in self-doubt and hate every word or patting myself on the back for my sheer genius. Sometimes in rapid succession over the same bloody sentence.
Such is the life of a writer. We soar on wings of inspiration and belly crawl through pits of despair, sometimes before we finish that first pot of coffee.
We don't need someone else telling us when we can have the title. Some of us are born with it, some of us earn it, and some of us wear it awkwardly, questioning its fit for our humble efforts. When you're a writer? You'll know it. Most important of all, just keep writing. Write bad poetry, and insightful essays, write blog posts and 144 character tweets. Write short stories and flash fiction and novellas or whatever floats your boat.
Because that's the one thing you have to do in order to call yourself a writer.
You have to write.
That is all.
Who cares what you call yourself?
Who cares what other people call you?



Spooky, sexy, fun! #mmromance #shortstory #ghost


            I absolutely loved this story. I am such a sucker for a love that someone will go to any length to find.  Yep I was hooked with this one. Swoon! MMGood Book Reviews

Three short, sexy, stories- sometimes spooky, sometimes tender, sometimes romantic. A collection of fast reads for when you just have a few minutes.

Encounter: A nervous wannabe actor slips away to steal a smoke at an audition and finds more relaxation than he expected. 
Finding Justice: When Justice figures out his boyfriend considers him nothing more than a piece of ass on the side, he takes matters into his own hands. 
Nick: Insecure nurse Nick discovers something about his rock star boyfriend he just can't forgive.

What are you doing back here?" The slightly breathy, barely audible voice brushed like a caress along Trevor's tense nerves. A slight breeze blew Trevor's hair into his eyes as the stranger stepped from the shadows.
'Back here' was a dark secluded little alcove behind the wings of the drafty theater that Trevor had considered a safe place to steal a smoke and calm his nerves. Apparently it wasn't as unused as it appeared. He dropped the butt of his cigarette to the battered linoleum floor and ground it out with the heel of his boot. Smoking hadn't helped his nerves. Usually it did. His therapist claimed it was part of an oral fixation, related somehow to childhood neglect. Trevor found that difficult to believe, but then the therapist had yet to meet his over indulgent, too involved mother. He spent half his childhood in prayer for a little benign neglect.
He refused to stand up straight and act embarrassed though. He'd just stay right where he was, leaning comfortably against the dingy wall, looking casual, he hoped. Nausea still cramped his belly at the prospect of actually auditioning for a singing part in the Halloween musical. He waited a moment for a lecture on smoking in a public building. Nothing. Just patient silence.
Trevor narrowed his eyes and turned his head to flick a contemptuous gaze over the intruder. He raised his pierced brow in smooth interrogation. He'd spent hours practicing the technique in front of his bedroom mirror last year. Useful, suave and attractive, he hoped. The newcomer wasn't someone he'd ever met before, therefore probably not someone who belonged backstage either. He knew most of the people involved in the community theater one way or another. He'd spent the last seven years working on the sets and doing walk-on parts, after all. That changed this year.
He shifted slightly, rocking in place. The intruder was a very attractive someone, with a lithe muscular body poured into black skinny jeans and a tight black long sleeve tee. Pale, lovely classic features, deep dark eyes a guy could get lost in. If this kid could sing, Trevor faced stiff competition for the role he wanted. "Hi. I'm Trevor Adams." He licked his suddenly dry lips lightly. Another drafty little breeze stirred the hairs along his collarbone and he shivered a bit.
The dark eyes lit with a glitter of interest. The boy glided forward, strangely graceful, plump ruby lips stretched in a flirty smile. "I'm Caspar Thorpe. People don't usually see me back here. It's nice to meet you, Trevor." He extended a pale hand. Trevor wiped his own damp palm on his jeans and reluctantly took Caspar's hand. It was soft and cool in his grip, oddly soothing and he felt nearly as reluctant to release his grip on the hand as he'd been to take it in the first place.
"Are you trying out for the Haunted Theater performance?" Please don't say you want to be Vlad. Caspar intrigued him. Trevor found him incredibly attractive and didn't want to be put in a position of rivalry with him. The other man's words sank in slowly. Duh. If he's backstage and people don't usually see him, then he's not an actor, huh genius?
"No, no." Caspar shook his head slowly, "I'm more of a special effects guy. I do sound."



FREE READ! CHANCES ARE #mmromance #erotic #serial #FREE


Start your adventure today!

Pulp Friction 2013

The beginning of a reading saga unlike any other!

An ARE Best Seller

"I have to go. Gerry leaves now. Sorry to leave you hanging." I had to get behind the bar. We do a steady business with the cops and the neighborhood people, and even though it was ten o'clock, I had four more hours until closing.

"Call me." His voice was husky and I fancied I heard just the slightest clink of that metal stud clicking against his teeth.
He wasn't the first visitor to my office, not the first face I'd stared at, trying to forget the one that was burned into my retinas, but he was different. I might have to get his name. Shit. I don't think I even gave him my name.

"I'm Chance, this is my place. You want me; this is where you can find me." I won't call. Been there, done that. Got the emotionally stunted psyche to prove it. I shoved him out the door ahead of me and let it close on our little interlude with a sensation akin to gratitude.
The problem with that, of course, was that it wasn't my name. My name was actually Aaron Dumont.

I picked up the name Chance as a kid when my grandma kept telling me "Chances are you'll come to no good, just like your pa." She had said it so often, it just kind of stuck. I've been Chance ever since. When she passed away and left me the remains of her estate, I sold everything but a few special items then invested it all in a nest egg for a rainy day.

I figured that's what she'd intended it for anyway. She'd said as soon as I joined the police force back in the eighties. "Chances are you'll come to no good there. It's a dangerous job and you're an accident waiting to happen."

She was right too. That nest egg came in handy after the not-so-accidental shooting that ended my career. After my injuries healed and the physical therapy was done, I loafed around doing nothing for a bit, sinking into depression and dying slowly inside of sheer boredom. Then I found the bar, and Chances Are was born. I don't know if the name was a tribute to the woman who loved and understood me or a fuck you to the one who ruled my childhood with an iron fist. Since they're the same ruthless, gently bred Southern lady, I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on the motivation behind the name.

Every night found me here, polishing glasses, pouring drinks, and soaking up the world. I got to talk shop with local law enforcement without being responsible for the paperwork. The neighborhood itself was eclectic and I got plenty of customers in on any given night who were prone to chat and flirt and sometimes, like the rookie, even a little more.

He was still there, watching me when he thought I wasn't looking, taking the ribbing his buddies were dishing out with a flush and a faint smile. I was impressed. Rory Gaines had backbone. I liked that. It kind of made me want to test his limits, crush his spirit, just to see if he'd let me, but I knew that was the bitterness of lost love, and I'd never actually do it. I don't think.

As I polished the shot glasses, I was giving serious thought to actually going back to my office and digging that business card he'd given me out of the trash can. When the front door burst open and smashed into the wall with a sound so akin to gunfire that several of the off duty cops in the room dropped to one knee and reached for weapons they weren't supposed to be carrying in my establishment, I forgot about everything else.
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Palm DOC/iSolo, Microsoft Reader, Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi)

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Story Orgy Presents: Prince Charming #mmromance #storyorgy

Good morning Story Orgy readers! Welcome back to Monday!

Two new characters, an all new story. Well, not quite all new. Someone or two of you might recognize at its core a flash piece I wrote some time ago.

Prince Charming
copyright October @ Lee Brazil
Chapter One
“He reluctantly handed over”

Cold wetness seeped through the denim of my jeans, creating a trail of icy goose bumps all across my body.  
"Sorry." A strong, tanned hand dusted with fine dark hairs and blunt cut nails hovered in my field of vision. The tail end of what turned out to be a long, dramatic swirling tattoo just touched his wrist.
I stared, bemused. The hand wavered, then withdrew.
"Are you all right?"
Allowing my gaze to expand beyond the hand, which I suddenly couldn't believe I hadn't accepted, my jaw dropped. The man who'd crashed into me belonged anywhere on campus but barreling through the Language Arts department office door. He was young, broad, golden in hair and skin. A whole aura of Prince Charming hung about him, and my fingers suddenly itched to pick up a pencil and transcribe sonnets to his beauty and a character that I just knew was as lovely as his person.  "I'm okay." And so I would be, just as soon as my heart stopped racing and my vision returned to normal, because right now it seemed that somehow landing in a mop bucket on my ass had caused me to see blurred golden halos and narrowed my vision to a tiny circumference centered exactly on his concerned face.
He stood watching as I awkwardly fumbled my way out of the water, grimacing as the liquid dripped down my body. I had to give him credit though, true to the noble character my imagination had imbued him with, he didn't laugh at my predicament. I stood before him pretending to a sang froid that I had never felt in my life. Recalling that he had come from my office, I ventured to address the Prince. "Is there something I can assist you with?" I was late, having lost track of time in the upper rooms of the library, pouring over a volume of fifteenth century French poetry. I had interviews scheduled for interns for the fall semester, and I couldn't decide whether to hope he was or wasn't one of the candidates.
"Yeah," he breathed softly. Then before I had a moment to realize what he was about, soft plump lips brushed over mine, and a delicate tongue swiped a tender touch over my lips before he retreated. "I had an interview scheduled, but I think I changed my mind. I don't want the job."
Stunned, I wrestled the demon of desire his kiss had unleashed back under control. He wasn't a prince, but a demon sent straight from hell to tempt me to indiscretion. "You can have the job too." I heard the words, and couldn't believe they'd come from my mouth. No fucking way I wanted this man for my intern. And no way he could miss the implication, I was his for the taking.
Smiling gently, he combed his hand through my hair and cupped my cheek. "Oh hell no. No need to complicate the power dynamic between us."
"Then I have interviews."
"I'll wait."
“Um…” Wait? He was going to wait? For me? For what? “They could take all afternoon.” I licked my lips, tasting him there. Stifling a whimper, I shifted foot to foot.
“Hey, I don’t have anything else to do. Why don’t you go on and clean up?” The Prince nodded at the empty secretary’s desk behind me. “I’ll tell whoever comes for your next appointment that you’re detained for a minute.”
“I…” Was uncomfortable as hell. “Thank you.” Forcing myself to pass by The Prince without looking back over my shoulder was difficult. As in finding the Holy Grail difficult. Slaying dragons difficult. Fuck it. I sneaked a peek and caught him watching me, eyeing my ass as though it were something special. It wasn’t. I couldn’t ever lay any claim ot physical fitness, not like this paragon of masculinity. I had muscles, but mostly by default, from climbing stairs and racing around lost or tardy. Every year I resolved to join a gym and work out, or take up jogging or biking. Something physically active. But the bottom line was, I had never pursued fitness beyond actually joining a gym.
I had a huge collection of gym membership cards, but none of them had ever seen any action. Kind of like me.
Startled back to awareness, I spun back around and headed into my office, my inner sanctum, my hidey hole, shutting the door firmly behind me. The soft chuckle I heard on the other side of the door wasn’t malicious or unkind. It didn’t remind me of the mocking laughter of my classmates decades earlier or the wicked humor some of my students displayed. I’d been the butt of enough cruel jokes over the years to recognize that when I heard it.
This laughter was heart warming and arousing. It reminded me of the soothing hugs my mother had given, the tender promise of support and understanding.
Fortunately for me, clumsiness was a common enough occurrence that I did indeed have a change of clothes in my office. Clean jeans and a dry t-shirt were folded on the bookshelf, under a copy of Chaucer that I’d had since my own undergraduate days, a gift from a favorite professor. One who had perhaps been more of a hindrance than a help, though I’d had the biggest crush on him at the time of our liaison.
In fact, Jay Sinclair was probably the basis for my reluctance to take this Prince on as an intern. I’d been in that position, sleeping with someone who was in a position of authority over me. We’d both claimed that it wouldn’t affect our professional relationship...but it had. How could it not? It was actually a relief that the golden prince didn’t expect to work with me.
I couldn’t imagine anything more guaranteed to distract me from my work than that beautiful tanned skin, those thick muscles...Damn it!
A sharp rap on the door drew me back from the lure of his body. His...I hadn’t even had the forethought to get his name! My potential new lover…
Scratch that. His intent had been clear. My new lover had to go by some name, other than Prince. The knock sounded again. Grimacing, I yanked the door open and met his amused gaze. “What’s your name, anyway?” I demanded.
“Lucas Thorne.” He handed me a stack of papers. “I took the liberty of removing my resume from that pile. You won’t need it. Also, your second appointment is late, so I’ll inform him when he gets here that he is out of the running.”
“Oh.” I glanced down at the papers, without seeing them. I knew breaking eye contact was just a ploy, a lame attempt to disguise the way my heart had tripped at his commanding attitude, the way he just took charge and assumed that of course I wouldn’t want to hire a man who was tardy to his interview.
Punctuality was probably a good thing, but I’d never before felt qualified to criticize anyone on that aspect of their performance, as I myself was notoriously loose with times. “Er…” Lucas probably should know that about me before he decided that we were going to do this thing, shouldn't he?
“You haven't changed yet,” he chided. “Go on.” He accompanied the words with another one of those poetic little smiles that made my brain freeze and my belly burn.
“Yes.” I stumbled backward into the office, and Lucas closed the door again. This time, I forced myself to change, but the whole while that I was stripping off the wet jeans and underwear and replacing them with the clean dry ones, my ears strained to catch any hints to what activities were occurring in the outer office. Like a teenager, I craved the sound of his voice already, and every time I thought I heard the deep tones, my heart throbbed in the back of my throat.
This couldn't really be happening to me, could it?
Hot young men didn’t just...claim me.
I wasn’t the type to attract a lot of attention, on the short side of average, the thin side of fit, the … boring side of intellectual. Not that he could know that, because all I’d managed was to sound like an idiot when we spoke anyway.
He knocked on the door again, and this time I was ready. “Come in.”I called, kicking my wet clothes under the desk.
“I’ve explained to Simon that you aren’t interested in an intern who cannot tell time, but he insists on hearing it from you. Would you mind?” The charming smile wasn’t in evidence now. His voice was steely and resolved, and his shoulders tense. I was suddenly determined to do whatever was necessary to bring back the relaxed, pleasant smile, the air of easy going authority.
“Certainly.” Brushing my hands together, I approached the doorway. Lucas held his position long enough that I brushed against him. The heat of his body was stunning, even through our clothes I could feel a fingle of awareness, just zipping through me. It went straight to my most sensitive spots, tickling at the back of my balls, tightening my throat and belly. I gasped, shocked at the rawness of the feelings, the overwhelming power of that brief touch.
Lucas fell back, extending a hand to indicate a young man standing by the desk, fairly bristling with resentment. I blinked at him, probably much like an owl or a mole caught in the headlights of a car as it crosses the road “You’re um…” My scrambled brains fought to recall the name of the man. Lucas had just mentioned it, hadn’t he? “Simon?”
“I have an appointment for an interview. I came a long way.” He cast an angry glance at Lucas, and it was my turn to bristle.
“As Lucas just told you, I don’t have any need for an intern who isn’t punctual.” I was proud of the way the words sounded, calm, logical. The truth was I felt far from either. If it hadn’t been for the stern expression on Lucas’s lovely face, I’d have hired the man on the spot just to have the tedious chore over with so I could be alone with Lucas again.
“I’m not that late.” Simon argued, and suddenly I lost all patience.
“You’re too late. And my next appointment is due in just a few minutes. If I interviewed you now, then every one of my interviews will be late.” Sourly, I offered a compromise that I didn’t really like. “If you wait until the last of the interviews, and none of them suit me, then I’ll interview you .”
“I have another appointment.” He sneered. “I can’t wait.”
Lucas stepped into the breach, blocking my view of the snooty applicant. “Then you’re wasting our time.”
Somehow, I'm not entirely sure just how, whether he manhandled Simon or just outmaneuvered him, Lucas had the man on the other side of the door before I realized what was happening. I blinked at him, suddenly sure that the absolute best candidate for the job was standing in front of me. “Are you sure you don’t want this job?” I reluctantly offered.
“Positive.” He stepped back in close, not even bothering to close the door or hide his intent. Again, our lips met, and this time the kiss was longer, more … everything. Our teeth actually clinked together, my lips felt hot and bruised, and …
I was hiring the next damn person that walked through that door, just so Lucas and I could go explore this lust in greater depth.

Chapter Two
He was stunned.

He was stunned. I could tell by the way his jaw hung slightly open and his gaze wandered from me to the office door, which had just closed behind one Esme Cortez, my brand new intern for the next semester. “You...did you even look at her resume?” He demanded.
“Yes,” Just long enough to find her name and ascertain that she was indeed a Masters candidate at the school. “Can we go now?”
His blue eyes lingered on the door. A frown drew thick brows together. My heart faltered in its frantic race to beat its way out of my breast. He was… displeased?
The urge to appease took over me, I began to tremble. “I--”
“We’ll see how she does.” He turned back to me, caught my hand. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Shaking my head, I dismissed the instinct to cower. Visions of a glowering face, the faintest echoes my father’s angry voice faded. This wasn’t like that. I hadn’t… He wasn’t…
“Professor? Don?” He snapped his fingers in front of my face and I pushed those memories away, buried them as deeply as I could, behind music that I loved and books that had saved me from moments of terror, behind smiles that were freely shared with strangers and years of academic life that were not soaked in fear.
“Yes, Lucas… Where should we go?” A new fear appeared… Didn’t they always? What if we weren’t compatible? If he say...liked hanging out at sports bars or the club scene?
“Your place?” He suggested smoothly. “I have roommates, or I’d say my place.”
Of course he wasn’t going to suggest some frat boy hangout. He’s an English major, dumbass. “Sure.” I tried playing off suave again, but the closest I could get to that was Maxwell Smart. James Bond was a dream life away. “Did you drive over?”
“I can follow you…”
If I let him go, he’d have the opportunity to change his mind, to realize how ridiculous it was for him to want me. “I’m parked in the faculty lot.” I patted down my pockets, searching for the keys to my Audi, conscious of his gaze on me as I did. “I can give you a lift to your car and you can follow me home from there.”


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Be Yourself

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955