Category: Interview

Providence Health eXpress Is Actually Really Cool

I want to be clear: This is not a sponsored post. I was wrong, and I’m writing to correct it. You know nobody would ever pay me to write this blog anyway.

You may recall the minor shit fit I had over some interactions with Providence Health & Services week before last.

I admit, I actually feel bad about how bitchy I was. I’m used to shit-fitting over much larger fish like American Express and McDonald’s. I knew about Providence because I was born in a Providence hospital (shout out to Little Company of Mary in Torrance, CA), and assumed that any hospital that would birth yours truly would surely belong to a massive operation.

On the one hand, this is the case. Providence operates more than 62 healthcare facilities across Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon and California as well as a science magnet high school in Burbank, CA, and several senior living facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

On the other hand, they are much more a mission-based non-profit than a capital H Healthcare provider. They were founded in 1859 by Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Providence with one mission: Helping the Poor and Vulnerable, and their objective remains unchanged after all these years.

I’m so used to any organization bigger than 20 people (and most of the ones smaller than that) paying lip service to their mission statements that it literally never occurred to me that a company on social media would have a philanthropic intent.

All to her credit and none to mine, Providence Communications Director Mary Renouf-Hanson decided to be the bigger bro and reached out to make this clarification, among others.

I had assumed the product they were promoting, Health eXpress, was only for people with Providence healthcare. Not even close. It’s actually for everybody. Even, or maybe especially the uninsured.

In our phone conversation, Mary explained that “Health eXpress is a digital opportunity for us to provide healthcare to anybody and everybody in a way that people want it.”

Any person in Washington or Oregon can get seen by a doctor from the comfort of their own home for $39 via the website or the app, which is available for Apple or Android devices. They do take insurance, but for many of us, $39 is actually cheaper than our co-pay would be anyway. And, if the Health eXpress doctor can’t help you, they refund your $39.

As of this writing, service is only available Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time. The goal is to have 24/7 service across the entire Providence network, but the program, which is relatively new and unique, is being road tested in the tech-savvy NorthWest.

“A lot of people don’t have time to visit their primary care doctor, even when they’re healthy” Mary said. “We’re going after tech guys who live at their desks, moms for whom it can be difficult to get out of the house, and people who avoid urgent care.”

About the strategy of tweeting at sick people she said “We wanted to get people the moment they needed us, and it did work sometimes. We had a mom who’s baby was sick, but she was alone and didn’t want to take her toddler with them to the urgent care. She was glad we reached out to her.”

Ultimately, it wasn’t a winning plan. “When you’re sick is when you’re most vulnerable. Sick people don’t want to register for a site and download an app. Now we’re working on getting healthy people to sign up before they need it.”

Providence is still working out the best social media strategy for them, and they are relatively new to the game. When Mary joined the team in 2014, after being the Director of Social Marketing at T-Mobile, and XBOX before that, the healthcare provider was not interactive online. She joined Providence because of the mission, and because she saw an opportunity to build something new. “I looked around, and I could have gone to Starbucks, but Starbucks already does social well” she said.

Considering the recent clashes between service providers, vulnerable communities, and religion, of course I had to ask her if the explicitly Catholic healthcare company would be turning away certain groups, or refusing to treat specific conditions. “We do not turn people away.” she said “We absolutely provide birth control and family planning services without judgement to anyone who needs them. We also provide end of life care. We believe in dying well. People are surprised when I say we’re Catholic and progressive, but there are very few things this organization is not behind.”

So let’s see…

Caring for the poor? Check.
Does not discriminate? Check.
Got unfairly bitched out on social media by this humble blogger? Check and Check.

Go sign up for Health eXpress. Next time you have a UTI pay $40 bucks so you don’t have to drive across town and sit in a waiting room for hours. Your UT will thank you.

Interview with Manwhore Billy Procida

After my post on sex-positive Patreon creators, comedian and podcast host Billy Procida (pronounced proceed-uh) reached out and let me know about the launch of his Patreon campaign for The Mahwnore Podcast. I immediately asked him if he would like to be interviewed on our lovely blog. Of course he said yes, because being interviewed is fun. Oh, and my friends from the Keith and the Girl fan club may recognize Billy from his two appearances on their show. This guy’s everywhere.

Podcast host Billy Procida
Podcast host Billy Procida

1. First of all, where can my readers find you and your work?

You can listen to The Manwhore Podcast on iTunes or any podcast app. You can also stream episode at www.manwhorepod.com. You can follow me on Twitter @TheBillyProcida.

2. So, you’ve been doing the show for about a year now, and the goal is, at least partially, to find a long-term girlfriend, how’s that going?

It’s been just an amazing journey so far! I’m reconnecting with previous partners sometimes as much as 6 years afterwards! The conversation have been real and raw (and sometimes kinda awkward), which is what I love about the podcast. I’ve also nabbed some phenomenal special guests like veteran porn star Sara Jay, sex researcher Dr. Zhana Vrangalova and gay rapper Big Dipper. So it’s going really well. People are listening to it and sharing it with friends. I really couldn’t have done this without the listeners.

3. Have your relationship goals changed since you started the podcast?

The goals have never really been “goals.” To make a relationship the goal is not healthy. If I only click with someone sexually, it wouldn’t be appropriate to try to turn her into a girlfriend. Each connection is its own thing and I have to take them as they come. Now, I’m very emotional and when I have romantic feelings for someone they come on kind of hard, but not for everyone I hook up with. My problem has been that everytime I want a more serious relationship with someone, it’s always been the woman who tells me she just wants it to remain casual. So that sucks. So have my goals changed? Not really. I still aim to take relationships as they come and they’ll hopefully be whatever they’re supposed to be, whether it’s a really close friend I fuck, someone I fool around with once in a blue moon or someone I really with whom I want to go on dates and hold hands and be so adorable that people vomit.

4. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned from talking to former hook-ups?

I think the real reason why we ended in some cases were enlightening. A lot of times when you break things off with someone, we try to think of a softer and less honest excuse to tell them. The one I hate to hear the most is, “I’m just not looking to be in a relationship right now.” That’s such a bullshit cop out way to break it off with someone. Unless you’re on death row, it’s a load of crap. No one wants a relationship until they meet the person who makes them want to be in a relationship. Be honest. Say, “I just don’t want to be in a relationship with you.

Some of my casual sex partners have ended under circumstances that I didn’t become aware of until recording the episode! So I’ll have been thinking, “Oh we stopped fucking because of this,” and then they drop some truth bombs on me and go, “Well…”

5. Do you feel like your sex life is better since you started the show?

Umm…I think it is better but not necessarily because of the show. At the moment, I have some really amazing partners in my life varying from some serious fee-fees to really hot fly-by sex! I’m supremely lucky and only deserve ~40% of the sex I’m currently having.

6. Is there a former hook-up you would never talk to?

Nope. I’ll talk to them all! There’re plenty of former hook-ups who won’t talk to me though!

Without putting anybody on blast, can you elaborate on former hook-ups who won’t talk to you?

Not everyone is down to chat on mic. Some for super valid discomfort and some for irrational fears. Some have changed their mind over the past year which is awesome. Some are so introverted that I don’t find it to be a huge loss. But for example, one of the people I want to speak to the most is my only ex-girlfriend because, duh. It’d be nice to catch up, she’s super likeable and I’m sure listeners would want to hear what it was like to date an 18-year-old Billy Procida. Hint: it’s not what you may think! The other I’d really like to change her mind is this girl Sadie down in DC who really was the catalyst for me starting the podcast.

7. You’ve said that there’s no Jezebel for men, if you were to start your own Jezebel, what would it be called, and what would you write about?

Ew. I just hate the concept of ‘for men’ or ‘for women’ sites. Look, yes, some work like that website about the art of shaving your facial hair. Fine. That’s a men’s site. But I read Jezebel and I’ve been published twice on xoJane, traditionally “for women” websites. If there was a Jezebel “for men” I would make it “not for men” and then blow up all of it and replace the whole thing with a GIF of Chris Hardwick from @midnight yelling, “Points!”

8. What do you wish more people knew about sex and dating?

The amount of posts I see on Reddit’s /r/sex that contain, “I/we did _____. Is that normal?” and “Is it bad if I like to ____?” It’s sad. Unless you like fucking kids or raping people, it’s safe to say there is no ‘bad’ when it comes to sex! You like what you like so just do you, Boo Boo. There are few shoulds and even less normals. Communicate with your partners. Embrace what gets you off. Cum hard and often and hopefully you’ll find another person or people who want to do that that way with you. It’s unfortunate that our lack of sex education in this country leaves people to rely on a bunch of shoulds that are outdated and based on puritanical views on gender roles and sexuality. Does it feel good? Is it hurting anyone? Then you should probably do it, in a proper context or setting. So no, don’t fuck yourself with a cucumber near a children’s park. I’m not exhibitionist-shaming. I’m just saying to be an adult and go do it in a darker corner of Central Park at night.

9. The $5,000 a month reward on your Patreon is a sex party. What would your ideal sex party be?

If we change sex party to just a general group sex encounter? I would love to be at the center of multiple women. But not because I’m center of attention. I would just love to be used by a group of women where my movements, my actions, my body are all for their pleasure. I’m taking instructions. I’m following orders. I’m being a good boy and doing a good job helping these women have a good time, whatever that may mean. That would be hot. Being a group of beautiful women’s play thing sounds like my definition of a hot party. If it doesn’t sound like a ‘sex party’ to you, then fine. We’ll drink alcohol and eat cake, too. Now it’s a party!

billy-procida-1912-4

10. What question do you wish an interviewer would ask you, and what’s the answer?

No no no. I’m not doing your job for you! I wish they’d ask me what my answer to proper sex education (or STI rates, teen pregnancy, rape culture and gender equality, because they all feed into the same answer) is. I’m not going to tell you. Because you didn’t ask it. But I think it’s a great answer.

Okay, I’ll bite. What do you feel is the key to proper sex education?

No. You don’t get to bite! Had your chance. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear all about that!

Which, of course, is at www.manwhorepod.com

The Joy of Storytelling with Justin Lazaro

I know you guys like it when I interview authors, especially those who are new to the market, so today I have newly self-published writer Justin Lazaro on the blog to talk about his first novel, the writing process, and his ideal life.

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Justin Lazaro, author of The Blue Dejou

First, what are your books and where can we buy them?

The Blue Dejou is a coming of age work of fiction with a pinch of magical realism. I tend to enjoy stories with extraordinary ideas in an otherwise normal world. It’s an ebook that you could buy on Amazon.

What would you say was the beginning of your journey to being published?

My journey started in 2010 when I was working in a non-profit credit counseling company in San Francisco. One of my close co-workers was going to graduate school for creative writing. During coffee breaks I would tell her ideas for books I would love to write. I always dreamed of writing a book and getting it published but my strict asian parents always taught me to be more practical than idealistic. After a little bit of coaxing from my friend, I began scribbling notes on company scratch paper during my free time, and the rest is history.

Did you self-publish Blue Dejou? Can you talk about that process?

Yes, I self-published The Blue Dejou. Originally I wanted to go the traditional route. I wrote query letters and e-mailed literary agents. One literary agent told me she thought my story was interesting, but the fiction market is hard to break into. Additionally, a lot of publishers are looking for authors that already have a following. After a couple of months of lukewarm responses, I decided to take matters into my own hands. So far it’s been great.

How did you prepare for the launch of the new book? What kind of marketing or community building do you do?

My preparation was more mental than physical. Being judged for a work of art that you have devoted a large chunk of your life to writing is nerve-wracking. Once it was up, I posted the book to internet communities that I knew would be interested in my novel. Some of them include: pug lovers, residents of Sacramento, the LGBTQ community, etc…

In your novel The Blue Dejou, your main character is kind of butch, maybe something of a gaybro. Why did you choose to go that direction?

The character I consider a gaybro was based off of one of my best friends. He’s a decorated military veteran that swears like a sailor, is a self-proclaimed redneck, and has more pride in his little pinky than a gay parade (I’m gay just in case that comment seems to come from left-field). He’s a complex character who is like no one I’ve ever met before. I had to write him into the book.

Now that you have your first book under your belt, what would you have done differently if you had it to do again?

I would believe in myself more. There were countless moments that I doubted myself while writing my book. In a time where we are surrounded by incredible authors, it can be very difficult for someone to even dream about writing a book. My book may not be the best but I know there are people out there that love it as much as I do.

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about writing?

There are countless hours of thought and decision-making to create that story. That book you thought was boring and written horribly, still required months or even years for an author to put together. One aisle at your Barnes and Noble bookstore might have required more collective effort to write than what it took to build the Great Wall of China! I have so much more respect for the art of story-telling now that I have went through the process.

Do you consider yourself a sci-fi writer?

Not really. Other than this fantastic bean that does the opposite of coffee, there are no other sci-fi elements to The Blue Dejou. I like to create stories that are relatable and realistic. For this book, I wanted the reader to feel as if they could just drive to their nearest Blue Dejou and order their favorite flavored joozoo drink to help them fall asleep at night.

What question do you wish an interviewer would ask you and what’s the answer?

Q: What does your ideal life look like?
A: In my Ideal life I am able to create stories full-time. As an introvert by nature, my mornings and afternoons would be spent writing and thinking of ideas for my next book. I’m happiest when I’m brainstorming ideas. I have close friends and family that I don’t have to schedule weeks in advance to see. Dinners are loud and boisterous full of both meaningful and trivial conversation. Life is uncomplicated and sleep is easy.

Thanks again to Justin for taking my interview request. You can buy The Blue Dejou on Amazon for $2.99!

Interview with Ethan St. Pierre on #WeJustNeedtoPee

Transman and long-time activist Ethan St. Pierre started lobbying Congress in 1995 on behalf of transgender hate crime victims and survivors after his aunt was murdered for being trans. He is a former curator of TDOR.info, the Transgender Day of Remembrance Archive, which catalogs the murders of trans and gender non-binary people worldwide.

Ethan St. Pierre, 2010
Ethan St. Pierre, 2010

I asked for this interview because I know you’ve been involved with the movement for a long time, and I feel like #WeJustNeedtoPee is about to blow up, so there’s finally enough steam behind this to do something.

Yes, it’s important to understand that we’ve been trying to push this for a very long time, and I really think that transmen are the most important factor in the whole issue because these laws put women at risk. Not from us, but because most people can’t tell the difference between trans and cis, so this is really allowing cisgender men to have access to the women’s restroom unchecked. If this becomes law, any predatory man can go into a women’s bathroom, and this is what women fear the most.

The right wing is saying this is to keep women safe. They say they’re afraid of having to explain why there’s a “man” in the ladies room, but this will actually put men in the restroom with them.

This is going to be extremely dangerous for transmen as well. Women have pepper spray, they might think they’re in danger when a man comes into the restroom, and may be proactive in defending themselves.

It’s difficult to explain the rationality of the lawmakers behind this. They say they just don’t want trans people using public restrooms, and that’s not how it works, people have to use the bathroom. This is going to make a real issue for the public.

#WeJustNeedtoPee has been about public restrooms in the media so far, but anybody who’s been around the movement knows that restroom discrimination has also been an issue in the workplace for a lot of transpeople.

I went through that when I transitioned at work. I had to use the restroom on a floor that was under construction until I really started exhibiting changes. I knew it was time when I put my hand n the ladies’ room door, and some guy yelled “hey dude, wrong door!” Now it’s been awhile, so I don’t even think about it.

If a law was created where I had to go into the women’s room, I still probably wouldn’t do it and nobody’s going to know the difference.

Unless lawmakers are willing to institute pants checks.

Yeah. Why do so many male law makers want to use the same facilities as transwomen? I’m just wondering what that’s about, do we have some chasers in the legislature?

Now in Texas they’re trying to pass a law where you get $2,000 reward for turning in a transperson using the wrong restroom at school, but male teachers can monitor the female bathrooms. Which seems more perverted to you?

Most states don’t have laws against using the wrong restroom, if they do it’s a misdemeanor, and in any place where the laws have changed in order for transgender people to use the right restroom for themselves, there’s never been a case of an attack. Their fear mongering is unfounded. They think “you have to be a pervert if I don’t understand you.”

A lot of people are saying that the laws won’t pass, so why is activism like #WeJustNeedtoPee so important?

These anti-trans lawmakers are educating the public, they’re teaching them to fear. I know how my mother has been my whole life with me and my brother. I mean, don’t mess with a mom. And I know how a mother would fear this if they didn’t understand. You’re putting a person in their most vulnerable place, and they don’t get it, they have lawmakers that they look up to spreading this hatred and fear throughout society for people who don’t know any better, and that’s why we try so hard to educate the public but we don’t always have the platform that lawmakers have. They get to spew all this crap, and it’s so hard to defend this, even though we have facts on our side, fear is a big driver, it drives a lot of people. It’s easier to scare people into submission, even though they don’t have any facts to base this on.

It’s maddening to me, especially having been doing this for a very long time. That picture is from 2010. We understood back then that this is an issue. It takes so long for us to get other people on board and to get it. “oh duh, there’s going to be men in the ladies’ room,” which is what they’re afraid of to begin with.

Do you feel that the bathroom selfie thing is going to be sending the message home? Do you think there’s finally enough buzz around the issue that we can get some traction in terms of non-discrimination rights?

I do, but the message needs to be clear that this is opening the door for cismen to have access to the womens’ bathroom. This is going to put women in danger.

Not because transmen are dangerous, not because all cismen are dangerous, but some are. And if a predatory man has ideas and is going into a womens’ facility, they’re not going to be stopped. Imagine somebody getting used to men in the ladies room? They’ll think that must be a transman because that’s the law.

I do think that people will think more about this. Not because of transmen, but because of cismen, which is what they absolutely don’t want. Women don’t want men invading their space. Women are taught to fear men. Think about how many women cross the street when they’re alone and there’s a man on the same side as them. Women don’t talk to strange men. This is definitely what lawmakres are preying on. Its not transpeople they have to worry about, it’s the lawmakers that make this scary.

I think #WeJustNeedtoPee will help with the education process.

So we may have a flood of people going into the opposite gender bathroom and taking selfies. Do you think this is going to be problematic, or do you think it’s going to be a good thing?

I think this is going to be a good thing. I’d like to see transmen working with cismen. Maybe if you took a picture of a bunch of guys in the women’s bathroom and asked which one “belongs.” None of them belong, but that’s the point, no one can tell.

I don’t think that transwomen are going to start going into the mens’ room, that’s dangerous. If they have to go into the mens’ room, if they’re made to do that, I think it’s extremely dangerous.

When they started the law, it was all about women. They didn’t want transwomen in womens’ restrooms. They’re saying that she’s a man in the womens’ room, but if you don’t want men in the womens’ room, then you don’t want this bill.

I don’t think ciswomen are going to go running in the mens’ room, but maybe that would be a good piece of activism. We could show that this is so ridiculous by having a group of women, cis and trans in the men’s room, like which of us “belongs” here? None of them.

That brings up a point that’s been talked about by other news outlets, which is the idea of passing privilege. A lot of people who are taking these bathroom selfies are passing, they could go to the restroom of their gender, but they’re taking these selfies for other transpeople who don’t pass, who would have trouble.

Absolutely, and that’s the issue. Most transmen after a few years of testosterone have passing privilege and I think that this has been a great gesture by transmen who maybe haven’t been activists, but now they’re outing themselves for the sake of our whole community.

I’ve been an out transguy for a long time, so it’s nothing for me to so this, but if you live in a very bad place, something like this is extremely heroic. This stuff can be dangerous for some people. So kudos to these guys who are stepping up for our whole community.

What would you say is the best possible outcome of #WeJustNeedtoPee?

To educate the general public enough to know that these types of laws are dangerous for everybody and that the lawmakers who are putting this forward need to be out of office, and not be voted in again. That’s the best I could hope for. That will save lives.

These lawmakers are putting personal bigotry ahead of public safety.

That’s exactly right, and for any lawmaker to pass a law that endangers the public, it’s unconscionable, and this is not just transpeople, that’s all people. This is for all citizens.

Thanks for doing this. A lot of articles are acting like bathroom laws became a thing yesterday, and I know that this has been going on for decades. A lot of cisgender people don’t realize that this is an issue that a lot of transpeople have to deal with every day.

I live in Massachusetts and an anti-discrimination law was passed a few years ago that excludes public accommodations for transpeople. That’s not just bathrooms and facilities, it’s every public place. It’s shopping malls, it’s stores. That’s a park. So now you’re saying that people have a right to discriminate against transpeople nearly anywhere. We had been in the bill, and then it was removed. Not only were we not included, we were actively excluded. That was the lawmakers intent; To exclude us.

For example, if we went to a restaurant, my wife is trans, and they decided they didn’t like that, they could throw us out for being trans, and it’s okay for them to do that. It’s perfectly legal in the State of Massachusetts. Home, by the way, of the first same sex marriage law.

And that’s still on the books?

Oh yeah. We’re fighting this right now. And do you know who’s dead against us? Barney Frank! He’s actually spoke out against us. He’s tried to exclude us from so many things when it came to Federal legislation. That guy is a terror to transpeople.

Urban Fantasy for the Argumentative Soul – Interview with William Dooling

Today’s blog is an interview with urban fantasy writer William Dooling. Dooling has self-published his first novel Synchronicity on the Amazon marketplace for $3.99.

I usually review gay smut, and my previous interviews have been with up and coming gay erotica star, Brock Wilder. When I asked to interview you, I told you this, and you hinted that there may be some content in Synchronicity my readers would find familiar. So, tell me, do we get to see the smutty side of urban occult mystery? 

Well, I’d hate to be accused of false advertising so I’ll say up front that I’m a product of the Catholic education system and, while they did a good job preparing me for life, they stunted my ability to write excellent smut. As your readership no doubt knows, writing good smut is very difficult, and bad smut rings really hollow…so there is not as much of it here as there will be in future books. However, as a preview: the book is largely about categories and the challenges of putting people neatly into them. One thing I’ve never been comfortable with, regarding urban fantasy and fantasy in general, is this idea that “virgin” is this tight little category that some people fit into and other people don’t (IE “Only a virgin can slay the demon/assemble the seeing stones/tame the unicorn”). Of course, in the modern world, what separates virgins from non-virgins is this extremely fuzzy line that everyone draws in a different place. This virginal ambiguity kickstarts the early plot…so yes, there is some mild smuttyness.  Future books will have more, and I already have a major story arc about a character from this story becoming the most sought-after sperm donor on the Eastern Seaboard.

Who are the heroes of Synchronicity?

I’ve had the basic idea for this story for a long time. The basic premise is simply that a collection of very different people are in the library the same day a bomb threat is posted on the door…so our heroes are a diverse host of folks you’d expect to find in a library: there’s a priest, an engineer who believes in psychokinesis, a chemist who doesn’t, a homeless dude, a world-renowned physicist, a school reporter, a children’s english teacher, a geriatric librarian…and so on. The idea is essentially to shove a big cast of characters that all believe slightly different things into a box and have them fight it out.

Who is the ideal reader for Synchronicity?

I don’t know yet. I only decided to self-publish after some soul-searching about whether this book would actually matter to a special kind of person. I’m convinced that it will. I’ll put it like this: I wanted to write a book that was half Urban Fantasy (the sort of thing Jim Butcher would write) and half an Encyclopedic novel like Infinite Jest or Gravity’s Rainbow. Now, this sort of book has the potential to build common ground among disparate groups of intellectuals (for example people who read Fullmetal Alchemist and people who seriously study 16th century alchemists) but it also has the potential to piss everyone off. I’m just about to figure out which.  I would like to think that no matter your religious or political worldview, there is at least one character in Synchronicity that wins at least one argument on your behalf. Basically, the ideal reader of Synchronicity is the sort of person that likes having arguments and listening to them.

In another interview, you mentioned that you hired a professional editor, even though you’re self-publishing. Many of my readers are self-publishers, or aspiring self-publishers. Having used a professional editor, do you think the future of self-publishing has a place for the freelance editor?

There’s some important caveats here. Every writer should have an editor, but I strongly discourage the use of online editing services…or basically anyone you don’t have a long-term relationship with. Editors need to know their writers. Most freelance editors simply know markets.

The relationship between a writer and an editor is one of the most powerful and deep ones in the entire span of the human experience, and grave violence has been done to it in recent years. One thing that I mentioned in that interview you linked to is that in the old days, writers would work with dedicated editors for many years and across multiple projects, such that the editor would get a feel for the author’s artistic vision and have a good understanding of what constructions worked…and didn’t work. Nowadays, “mainstream” authors will tell you all kinds of horror stories about big publishers laying off, overworking, or constantly switching their editors…because they realize that the mass market doesn’t really care about the kind of tiny details editors exist to refine.

This is my first attempt at self-publishing, I have very little working knowledge of what I’m doing, but I would advise anyone starting out to find an editor who knows and understands their work. An editor is like a close friend who gets paid money to tell you when you’re being an ass. My editor did a very good job with this, and the book is better as a result. I also think that an editor serves an important function in the self-publishing world, similar to what good cover art does for a comic book: It shows that serious effort went into the final product…that it’s not just crap. This wasn’t a lark. This was something I put time and money into.

At one point, one of your characters says that “Philosophy is a profoundly disappointing field of inquiry,” a statement I happen to agree with, but I’m a little bit surprised to hear it from a man with a Philosophy minor. What, if anything is the value of philosophical study in a modern world?

In the specific passage you mention, the characters are discussing what is usually called an “Ontological Argument” for the existence of God. The idea is that you can prove God is real using basic logical constructions no one could possibly argue with. Most theists are dimly aware that this is possible, but often do not take the time to learn exactly what this sort of argument proves, when executed correctly (the answer is “very little”). They just assume it works, and go about their day to day. People do that a lot. Philosophy is, and should be, disappointing in the early stages, because what you end up learning is how shaky the foundation of knowledge actually is.

As you get better at it, you start to gain a better understanding of why you do the things you do. This is quite valuable. In writing (and incidentally, in sex) you never get very far if you simply let your initial impulses and assumptions control you…if you don’t think about other people, and what they want, and why they want what they want. You end up being that kid that doesn’t eat vegetables, that boyfriend that doesn’t perform well in bed, or that author that just writes crappy knock-offs of other people’s stuff. I’d like to think that studying philosophy…or anything really….helps a person examine their life, and in the process be a better person. It has absolutely no utility in “winning” arguments, proving how smart you are, getting a job, or making money…but it does, I think, make you better at being a person, and a friend to other people.

Anything you’d like to add?

The real promise of self-publishing, and the information age in general, is that we can build communities that would be impossible in “real life.” I get very cynical about the modern world sometimes but I am very glad that blogs like yours exist, because you and your readership have an eclecticism that makes real art possible. Thanks for letting me share my art!

Also, chapter two, scene two of Synchronicity contains an attempt to write the most obscure joke in the history of humankind. If anyone “gets” it, please write me at Theodidactus@gmail.com because we should talk more.

I will continue to read your blog with great interest!

Thank you, and thanks for the interview. That book again, ladies and gentlehumans is Synchronicity, and it is for sale on the Amazon marketplace for $3.99.

Writing Erotica for Fun and Profit Part Two

jayishere_doctor-187x300Back in January, I interviewed erotic book author Brock Wilder just as he was starting out. I knew a lot of you guys have aspirations to authorship, both erotic and general, so I wanted to talk to someone on the front lines, as it were. The blog was one of the most popular of the month. Now that six months have gone by, I got in touch with Brock again for a follow up.


Marina: Just like the last interview, first thing’s first. What are your books and where can we buy them?

Brock: Presently, I have ten gay erotica ebooks available for purchase. All of them can now be seen at my website, http://brockwilder.eroticaauthor.com. The website gives you a description and then links to where each ebook can be purchased.

My latest releases include:

Hands On Doctor, which is about a married doctor that decides to explore gay sex with a few patients, a college football player, and an older friend in a park.

Guys At The Gym follows a gym manager who takes advantage of being surrounded by hot athletic guys all day. In this particular day, he hooks up with a twink in his private shower, a couple in the locker room, and a muscular stud in the back of a storage room.

Obey Your Master is the third ebook in my successful From Work Colleague to Leather Slave series. It’s actually been banned on Amazon due to the content, though they won’t tell me what for. This book follows Mark, who has now been initiated into being a leather slave. In this ebook has him meeting up with four different Leather Masters and obeying their every fetish and kink.

MM: So last time we talked, you had two books out and now you have ten. What have the last eight books taught you?

BW: I’ve learned that your audience wants a new ebook as quickly as you can put them out. I was pretty slow at the start, but most of that was simply fear. I wasn’t sure if I was writing material that people would like. I was worried that people would write to me complaining about a missed comma or something like that. Instead, I just get a lot of messages on Twitter of ‘That totally got me off!” or “I’m so hard now.” and “Can’t wait to buy the next one.”

As well, I’ve joined communities on Reddit like /r/smutwriters that is filled with amazing writers at different stages of the journey. They’re always willing to offer their advice and thoughts on whatever situation you’re dealing with.

MM: With six months under your belt, what do your sales look like? Would you say it’s worth it?

BW: I believe that I’m at a little over 650 books sold between all the different retailers. Through distributing at Smashwords, they can be a few months behind in reporting sales, so that’s not a completely accurate figure at this present moment.

Many erotica writers are trying to do this full time. That’s not my present goal, so it’s worth it for me to be earning some extra income each month. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to have gone from zero ebooks in late December to now ten ebooks only six months later.

MM: What would you say is your best marketing tool?

BW: My best marketing tool has been my Twitter (@dirtysexynaught) account. I think I have a little over 2000 followers right now. I see a lot of erotica writers with less than a hundred followers. I like posting about my ebooks, listing sales that are happening, and just interacting with people. As well, I have a fairly popular tumblr (dirtysexynaught.tumblr.com) too, which is strictly naughty photos that a lot of people enjoy.

MM: Which of your books is your favorite and why?

BW: This one is difficult to answer, there’s different reasons for each of them. The most personal would be Single, Gay, and Slutty, as it describes what happened after I dumped my first boyfriend. Plus, I really like Confessions of the Gay Yoga Instructor, as it’s based on my experiences as a yoga instructor.

MM: In our last interview, you said you were hoping to start consulting for aspiring erotica authors, is that happening, and if yes, how can people get in touch with you for this?

BW: I think mentorship is an important aspect of any field. I’ve had over five people from Twitter who have written that they’re interested in exploring erotica, but none have actually put anything out. Another Twitter follower had already released one ebook and I’ve assisted him with marketing it better.

Anybody can contact me via Twitter and I’ll definitely offer any assistance that I can.

MM: Finally, what would you say is your best moment as a self-published erotica writer?

The best moment is when I check my sales each week and see that people are still buying my ebooks. There’s so much competition out there, so the fact that somebody actually chose mine is really exciting every time.

As well, a lot of erotica authors have stated that they don’t like doing free promotions, as it doesn’t turn into sales in the long run. I’ve had the opposite experience, I ran a free sale and over 450 ebooks were downloaded from Amazon. It was awesome to think that some of these people might read it some day.

MM: Brock, it was a pleasure to interview you. Is there anything you’d like to say that didn’t come up?

BW: Yes, I’d like to offer an exclusive free promotion to your blog readers. Up until June 15, 2014, any of your readers can visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/427800, use coupon code: ZZ37N, and then download From Work Colleague to Leather Slave in the ebook format of their choice (.epub, .mobi).


What a guy. So go say hi to Brock on Twitter, at @dirtysexynaught, follow him on Tumblr, and check out his books at http://brockwilder.eroticaauthor.com

Interview with Erotic Book Author Brock Wilder

Brock Wilder - From Work Colleague to Leather Slave: Volume OneToday’s post is an interview. I know from talking to a lot of you guys that you’ve been interested in self-publishing, so when I saw that my twitter friend Brock, aka @dirtysexynaught was publishing erotica online, I was curious to talk to him about his process. These are some interview questions that he was kind enough to answer last week.


1. First, what are your books and where can we buy them?

I have written two erotic ebooks featuring gay sex.

The first is entitled, From Work Colleague to Leather Slave, and is based on my journey into the leather scene.

The second is My Gay Adventures in Office Sex, and is based on my experiences in mixing business with pleasure.

Both of them are available as a digital download on Amazon. You can see my author page at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HKLDHSY

2. What was your intention when you decided to self-publish on Amazon? Money, practice?

My intention is to share my experience with as wide of an audience as possible, and to build up a number of short erotic ebooks. As I gain more readers and have more titles, then money will hopefully come.

2. It’s been almost a month since you launched your title, what kind of sales are you getting?

From Work Colleague to Leather Slave launched on Dec. 27. I’ve spent nothing on advertising. I’ve only promoted it on my Twitter account. Thus far, I’ve sold just shy of 50 copies. By no means a huge success, but royalties on that will earn me over $100.

3. How did you prepare for the launch, what kind of marketing or community building did you do?

Prior to launching, I did nothing. I wanted to see how things worked out organically. I had a pretty popular blog about 2-3 years ago that featured my latest sexual ideas, conquests, etc. The blog was deemed too graphic for Blogger and was shut down. I lost all of my posts. I was discouraged.

In October 2013, I decided to revisit the Twitter account for that blog, start chatting with people again, and then thought that I’d share my sexual experiences with the world via erotic ebooks.

I want to get 3 books out prior to really marketing myself. This interview is the first that I’ve agreed to do. I have others lined up for late February and into the Spring. I want the marketing push to come when readers can like one book and then have the ability to purchase another (or two or three) right away.

4. What is the inspiration for your books?

I write from personal experience with names and situations slightly altered. I want my partners to be anonymous and obviously, I want to keep the stories slightly more heightened than the real experiences.

That said, I have a scene written for a future book that features the time a guy got so drunk that he threw up, thus ending that sexual experience.

I think reality can be sexy, but also like to mix some fantasy into the mix.

5. Do you predict better sales for your second book?

To be honest, I predict less sales for the second book. The first book is targeted at a specific market: those who enjoy leather/BDSM. I wrote to a number of them on Twitter to check out my book and I believe that pushed sales quite well.

My second book is targeted to the greater market of those who love reading about guys having sex with those at work.

The first ebook, based on its content, has less competition within Amazon’s erotica selection. The second one has more. There might be less sales for now, but as I gain in popularity, the second book will likely do better.

6. What are your goals long term with writing and self-publishing?

Right now my longest erotic ebook yet will be released in April. It was the first one that I wrote, and was done during National Novel Writing Month in November. I made a goal to write 8,000 words and completed it. Afterwards, I decided I would focus on writing shorter ebooks to build up my audience.

I will release my third ebook, Single, Gay, & Slutty, in early March. Plus, I have 3 other ebooks that are in draft form that will be released over next two months.

From there, I will create sampler copies of my works. This will include the hottest scenes from my released books. Readers can then download these to get an idea of each of my books. Hopefully, they’ll like at least one of them and download the entire book that features that scene.

A number of people have contacted me via Twitter to assist them with writing erotica and publishing. The next goal will be to start working with them and publishing their works starting mid year.

7. How easy is it to self-publish with Amazon?

It’s easy! I know people read this everywhere, but it’s honestly so incredibly true! I had wavered for over a year on publishing. I couldn’t believe that it would be easy, but it is.

Simple Steps:
You write your story in Microsoft Word.
Insert page breaks between title pages, chapters, about the author, etc.
Don’t do any paragraph indents.
Then save it as a .doc,
Then save it as a .htm file.
Go to Amazon’s KDP page
Upload the .htm file
Create a cover using their software
Set the prices for each territory (i.e. USA, Canada, United Kingdom)
Wait for it to be published!

I highly encourage people to just take a piece of their current writing and try it out. You can unpublish the book after you’ve completed it, if it’s just a test.

8. What advice would you give somebody who wanted to get into self-publishing?

Do it now! Don’t hesitate. Just do it! If you’re interested, you’ve likely done some writing. Maybe you have poetry from your teenage years.

Well, take all that and put it into a book. You can set the price as whatever you like, let Amazon take their cut, and then you get the rest. If anything, you’ll likely sell copies to some family and friends.

9. With two books under your belt, what would have done differently if you had it to do again?

I simply would’ve started doing this a few years ago. I was busy being a grad student, but this could’ve been a great way to earn some extra money.

10. What’s the one thing you wish people knew about writing, erotica, self-publishing, etc?

Your writing is of value. Our greatest critic is ourselves. Be proud of what you’ve done and get it out there for others to enjoy.


Thanks again to Brock for letting me be his first interview for this project. I look forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve (and down his pants!)

If you’d like me to interview you, or if you have someone you feel I should interview, let me know.