Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Things We Suffer For Our Art

It's no secret - at least it shouldn't be - that I'm a fairly decent photographer. I've always loved capturing the moment - freezing it for all time so that it can be revisited over and over whenever someone wants.

From a very young age, I've carried a camera around with me. My very first was an old Anscomatic my mother had. I was around 4 or 5 when she gave it to me. It looked something like this one:

I don't remember if it had any kind of zoom - if it did, I probably didn't know how to work it - and it didn't have a flash. 

Later on, when I got a little bit older, I had one of these:

It took 110 film, which looked like this:

I didn't get a real 35 mm camera until I was grown and living with my fiancé. 

In any event, I've had a camera for as long as I can remember. I've always been very careful with them - never broken or damaged one. ::knocks on wood:: 

Over the years, my pursuit of awesome photos has led me to some interesting situations. 

I've stood on the edges of cliffs, despite being petrified of heights, and I've stuck my hand into hollowed out trees and logs. This is probably the time to reveal that I'm allergic to almost every insect known to man. Which makes sticking my hand into hollowed out trees and logs not the greatest of ideas. I've sat in waist-deep snow, biting a hole into my bottom lip as I tried not to shiver so I didn't disturb the bird I was trying to get a photo of while he was digging in the snow for seeds. I've stood as still as a statue in mud, holding my breath as a deer foraged a few feet from me. I've waded out into streams and rivers - have I ever mentioned I hate water? - to get photos of fish and turtles. 

When I first moved to NY, I became obsessed with getting pictures of the various birds I'd never seen. Goldfinches, chickadees, and hawks, among others. There were dozens of hawks, but they were illusive. Usually, we'd see them on the power lines or in trees along the highway, while traveling 65 mph. 

One day, on the way to work, I spotted a hawk sitting in a tree in a wooded area off the side of the road. This was perfect! I immediately grabbed my phone and called to say I'd be late because I'd seen this thing, and I was going to get a picture. By now, they'd all become familiar with my photographic tendencies. I found a place to turn around and headed back. I parked across the road, and got out, armed with my camera. Even with zoom, though, the picture wasn't as good as I'd wanted. I needed to get closer. 

I Froggered my way across four lanes of traffic, and headed into the wooded area. Of course, a photographer is never really happy until they get the absolute best photo possible, so I kept inching closer and closer. I got within about 6 feet of the tree, and the hawk suddenly turned and looked right at me. I froze. It turned its head left and right, and then leaned its head forward and screeched at me. 

At this point, my blood went a little cold. 

The next thing I knew, it had propelled itself off the tree and was careening toward me, feet - talons! - stretched out as if to snatch me up. 

My life flashed before my eyes. 

"Local Photographer Pecked to Death in Fight with Pissed Off Hawk."

I was sure that's what the headline would say. I couldn't run from the thing - if I went left or backward, I was just in more brush, the terrain of which I was unfamiliar with. If I went right, I'd end up in heavy traffic. And I sure as hell wasn't going forward. 

I stood there, rooted to that spot, staring down death as it approached me on graceful wings. I was suddenly quite thankful I'd peed before I left the house. 

About a foot from me, it veered off. 

As I stood there, trying to catch my breath, two things went through my mind: "That. Was. AWESOME!" and "Damn, I wish I'd gotten a picture of that."

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Power of Love Blog Hop

For my part in the hop, I'm giving you a snippet of my m/m romance set in the zombie apocalypse, "Bad Moon Rising." (Don't worry - nobody gets sexy with a zombie - it's not *that* kind of zombie romance!)

One lucky reader will win a free pdf copy - just leave a comment below, including your e-mail, to be entered. Good luck!!!


Bryce never expected to find himself smack in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and he certainly never expected to meet the man of his dreams along the way. But there's more than zombies in the way of his happily ever after. Richard comes with baggage, in the form of his on again, off again bipolar lover Cole, who is off his meds and descending into his own mental hell at an alarming rate. Will the three men be able to work out their romantic feelings? Oh yeah...and then there's that little issue of the zombies...

Maybe I could try to talk some sense into Richard. Make him see Cole’s point of view. “Richard—”

He held up a hand. “Don’t. I don’t want to hear it. Just c’mon and let’s shower.”
I followed him reluctantly. Even the luxurious draw of hot water after so long couldn’t make me feel any better.
Richard turned on the shower water and fumbled with his clothing. I stood in the corner, suddenly unsure what to do. Should I wait for him to get in and then undress? Did he expect me to undress now? What would he think of my body, when he saw it? I wasn’t fit like him—my love handles were more like love steering wheels. Would he even notice me?
He glanced at me. “You need help?”
“With your clothes? Are they stuck to your wounds or anything?”
“Um...” I couldn’t think. Richard stood before me, naked and beautiful. His big, burly chest, covered with a thick mat of dark hair that made me want to run my fingers through it, his little paunch of a belly that made me want to make raspberries on it, his powerful trunk-like thighs that made me want to lay down between them and lick them, his thick, stubby cock that made me want to fall to my knees and wrap my lips around it.


“” What had he asked me? If I needed help? Jesus Christ, no. Help meant that delicious body of his being close to mine, and I didn’t think I could handle that at the moment. “No. No, I’m... you’re... I can do it.”

I felt like a child learning to tie his shoes, shouting I can do it and holding up his foot to show off his success as I unzipped my jeans and pushed them past my hips. I peeled my shirt off over my head and stood there with my arms in front of my body like an idiot.

“You trying to kill two birds with one stone?”
“Am I...what?”
Richard laughed and pointed at my boxers. “You going to wash those in the shower too?”
“Oh. Yeah. No.” But I didn’t move. I couldn’t. One, Richard would finally see me fully naked, and I was nowhere near as sublime as he. And two, the raging erection between my legs was a bit of a nightmare.

Richard walked over, tipped my face up to his, and grinned at me. “I can see your boner through your underwear, you know. You’re not hiding anything.”

I gazed up into his face—bright eyes, days’ worth of stubble, and that sweet, pouty bottom lip. Fuck my life.

He knelt down in front of me and tugged my boxers down. “Step out,” he instructed, the heat of his breath grazing my cock. He laid his hands on my hips to steady me as I stepped out of my boxers.

“There. Much better.” Richard ran his hands up my sides as he stood. “Shall we?” He stepped into the shower and reached a hand out for me. “Careful,” he warned as I stepped in. “It’s a little slippery.”

I gasped as the water hit my back. I couldn’t recall anything so luxurious in my whole life. I’d never travelled or spent any time at any fancy hotels or anything like that, but I had to believe they didn’t have anything on Doctor Austin’s shower.

“He thinks I want you.”

Richard’s voice brought me back to reality and I opened my eyes to look at him. He stood there casually, not close enough to make contact, but not so far away as to insinuate contact would be unwelcome. I gestured to our bodies and the shower. “How is this supposed to show him he’s wrong?”

“Who says he’s wrong?” He arched an eyebrow and held out a bar of soap.

The bluntness of the question startled me, and I just stood there staring at him wide-eyed and open-mouthed for a few sec- onds. I reached for the soap, palm open, so I wouldn’t be tempted to touch him any more than was necessary. “You want me?”
Richard shrugged. “Of course I do. You’re handsome. You’re gay. I’m gay. We’re in a heinous situation. Emotions are high. Stress is high. I’m not getting it anywhere else. But wanting you and doing anything about it are two different things, and Cole ought to know that by now.”

“True.” And I supposed that, after being reduced to a situational convenience, I was just as happy he wasn’t doing anything about it after all.

We finished the shower, me trying hard to ignore Richard’s nakedness. Richard seemed so enthralled in the idea of hot water I didn’t think he even noticed me. He left the shower first while I was still busy picking dirt and dried blood off my legs and arms, and trying not to twist my ankle again in the slippery, soapy water. By the time I’d finished, toweled off and changed into a pair of pajamas I’d found, he was already ensconced in the living room couch, polishing off a glass of wine.

Richard poured another glass of wine and downed it in four gulps. He sniffed me as I walked by. “You smell good.”

“So do you.” I sat down next to him. “It’s the soap.”

“You look good, too.”

“Showers will do that. You’re half-drunk already.”

He turned and ran his fingers along my cheek, tipped my chin up and leaned in, his mouth just a wisp of air away from mine. “Do you care?”

I didn’t. God help me, I didn’t. “Cole might.”

He pulled his hand away, chuckled, and poured out more wine. “You know, it’s not polite to stare at a man when he’s trying to drink alone.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You want to be alone?”

“Want?” Richard shook his head slowly and took another gulp of wine. “No.” He looked at me, and the sadness in his eyes made my heart hammer. “But it doesn’t matter what I want.” He drank more wine, pointed to the door. “You should find something else to do. Before it doesn’t matter what you want, either.”

He looked me up and down and licked his lips, and I took the words for the warning they were. Drunk Richard was apparently not someone I wanted to trifle with. I couldn’t help but tempt fate, though. “If all I am is a matter of convenience, then what difference does it make to you what I want?”

“Who said that’s all you were?”

“You did. In the shower.”

Richard laughed and tossed back another few gulps. “I like you, Bryce. I don’t love you. I don’t know you enough to love you. But I know you enough to like you.” He leaned forward again, brushed his lips against mine and it took all my will power not to wrap my arms around his neck and turn that brush into a real kiss.

“And I know you enough to want you.” He pulled back. “And I do care what you want. That—” he belched and wiped his mouth “—that should be obvious.” He pointed to the door. “Door’s still there.”

I stood and walked out into the kitchen, found Cole seated at the bar.

Monday, February 10, 2014

With a Name Like Marci...

I announced it on Facebook and Twitter, but neglected to do so here.

I've started the process of officially changing my legal name. Going forward, I'll be known as Marci Nichelle Jansen.

Now, I knew my choice of name would cause some...confusion. And this morning, I was met with no less than 25 FB messages and 10 e-mails.

There seems to have been a two-pronged reaction to my announcement: The people who have simply accepted the change and moved on, and the people who have sought clarification.

I'm grateful to both groups - I honestly am.

Well, I'm grateful for the people who gently asked out of genuine concern. I'm not grateful for the person who demanded to know "just what exactly" did I think I was doing, or the person who began their message with "I knew you weren't really transgender!!!"

Yeah, I'm not grateful for you two. You two can kiss my ass.

So. An explantation is in order, it seems.

The first thing that comes to my mind, of course, is that it's nobody's galdurn business *what* I do with any part of my life, especially my legal name, since none of you address me by it anyhow.

The second thing that comes to my mind, of course, is that being in the spotlight - any spotlight, even one so small-focused and dim as our industry's - gives people the belief that you owe them something of yourself. It gives people the belief that they have a right to know certain things - your sexuality, your gender, who you sleep with, what your favorite ice cream is. Chocolate peanut butter swirl, if you're wondering.

So the overriding question seems to be - am I male or female? I've chosen an obviously female name. Does that mean I'm female, and no longer transgender?

The answer is... I don't know. I know it's irritatingly disappointing when someone can't provide you with basic answers about themselves, but that's the truth of the matter. I don't know *what* I am. I do believe I warned you about this in a blog post the other day, titled "Identity Crisis."

I don't feel 100% male *or* female. I'm

I'm not certain what my gender is, or what pronouns you should use.

Here's what I know about myself, with 100% certainty:

I love Star Trek TOS. I like baking, but only cupcakes. I like food, sweet wine, horror movies, sock monkeys, math (that's a new one!), candles, incense, and mushrooms - collecting items, not eating them - I hate eating them. I hate having dirty feet. I don't like large bodies of water. I love the city of New Orleans. I hate the West Coast - no offense, it's just too damned far away, and it takes too long to get there. I love photography. I love to write. I'm a parent to 8 wonderful beings - The Boy, The Older Boy, Wallace, Higgins, Mindy, Lollypop, Sassy, and Tina Jean. I miss my baby girl Ginger and my baby boy Duncan every day of my life. I have an irrational, deep, abiding love for William Shatner - that man could murder a baby or a nun, or a nun holding a baby, and I'd believe he was fully justified. I have a list - and Hubby does too - of celebrities we can have sex with, should the situation arise, and still stay married - it's call the Allowed List. Mine is much longer than his. I'm typing this blog with painted fingernails. The color is called "Bizerk Turq" by Funky Fingers, and it's a bright, minty sort of sea green. My socks are black with little pink hearts and lace at the ankle. I have more want than brains when it comes to spending money - my current PayPal Credit balance is over $3K, and I'm not ashamed of that. I believe my house has feelings. If I found out I only had a few months to live, I've got a mental list of people who would have about 24 hours left on this planet. I do not love my mother. I am pondering getting a perm and growing my hair out. I like data entry. I believe everyday should be met with a mug of hot tea, and ended with an episode of Star Trek TOS, because really - there's nothing tea and TOS can't fix.

If all or any of that tells you which gender I am, then you're a more perceptive individual than I.

Ultimately? Here's what I think:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Valentine's Day Gift Hop

****PLEASE BE AWARE: I write GLBTQ romance. GLBTQ stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer. This means my works feature same sex relationships AND same sex sexual acts. If winning that kind of a book isn't your cup of tea, kindly pass on to the next blog in the hop and leave the spot open for someone else. Thank you.****

For my part in the hop today, I'm offering up a free pdf copy of my m/m story "Cupid Knows." To enter, just leave a comment below, including your e-mail, and tell me about your favorite Valentine's Day memory. If you don't have one, gratuitous flattery will get you *everywhere*! GOOD LUCK!!

Here's the blurb:

Jack has been dreaming about Alan ever since they randomly hugged at a game. They haven't seen each other since, but when Alan crosses Jack's path on Valentine's Day, it's an opportunity Jack can't pass up. Can he convince Alan to take a chance on a Valentine's Day meeting when Alan has something to hide?


Ugh. Valentine’s Day. If there was a better way to make a single man feel like crap, I didn’t know what it was. I stomped the snow off my boots and stared hard at the stupid little cut outs of hearts and cherubs adorning the bank door as I opened it and entered. Inside the décor was even worse; a giant inflatable Cupid, complete with bow and arrow and cheesy smile, stood off to the side. Cupid Knows You Should Bank at Mid Atlantic!, the sign above him proclaimed. I shook my head, wondering if I should bother to point out that anyone who was actually inside the bank probably already did bank there, or would shortly, and wouldn’t it make more sense to put Cupid out on the curb?

I had decided it couldn’t get any tackier when I turned and spotted little white bears hanging from the stanchion ropes. I smirked at the words Mid Atlantic Cares emblazoned across their furry chests, imagining bank tellers armed with tattoo guns hunting down polar bears. And then it happened: I looked up…and stifled a gasp.

There he was.

I didn’t know his name. Had never even formally met him. I’d hugged him at a football game. A playoff game, to be more specific. Our team won. I say “our team” since we had both been wearing team shirts. In the magic of the moment of the final ticking of the game clock, as the crowed had screamed “five…four…three…two…ONE!!!” we had turned to each other and hugged. That was it. Nothing more. No handshake. No “Hi, my name is…” Nothing. Stupid, insignificant nothing.

But I’d held onto that moment for three years. I had no idea why. Maybe because he’d set off my ‘gaydar’ back then, even in that brief contact. I had a knack for ‘finding my own kind’, as my friends said. I could still remember how it had felt to have his arms around me, how he’d smelled, how his hair had tickled my ear. And I knew with one hundred percent certainty that he was standing in front of me. Check that – he was standing at the next available teller. His hair was the same, neatly cut and trimmed, and that physique was the same as well: strong, wide shoulders, a back that tapered just so slightly, hips made for grinding against, and a wonderfully round, tight ass that made me think wicked thoughts.

And then my mystery man was done and walking back toward me, head down, studying the receipt in his hand. I stepped out in front of him, blocking his path. He’d no doubt run into me. I couldn’t tell you why I did it. Maybe to see if he remembered me as well? Would he?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Identity Crisis

I've realized something just a few days ago - for the first time in my life, I'm at a point where I don't need to morph my personality to meet the demands/needs/desires/wants of those around me.

For the first time in my life, I'm at a point where nobody needs me to be anything other than who I am.

For the first time in my life, I am free to just

I have no idea who I am, or what to do with myself.

I've spent the better part of the past 35 years playing carefully crafted roles. Intelligent for this person, ditzy for that one. Aggressive and bold for this person, passive for that one. Cold for this person, warm for that one. Masculine for this person, feminine for that one.

I've been straight, lesbian, religious, Atheist, Wiccan, nice, snotty, intellectual, stupid, bubbly, subdued, patriotic, unpatriotic, innocent, worldly, Dominant, submissive, creative, and boring.

I've been a wing man, a bridesmaid (and yes, a bride), a confidant, a mentor, a therapist (though unofficially, of course), a marriage counselor, and a Yes Man. I've been the go-to guy with the answers, I've been the guy who throws his hands up and doesn't have a clue.

None of those were truly me.

A stranger in a store asked me what I thought of some political nonsense the other day.

My first thought was to analyze the situation. This person was male, wearing an American flag pin - possibly making him a veteran or a patriot, he was older - possibly making him condescending toward youth, he was African American - possibly making him sensitive to racial issues, and he was holding a Bible - possibly - well, quite probably - making him religious - and with a crucifix around his neck, which I narrowed down to at least Catholic or Episcopal.

It suddenly struck me that the first thing I did, before even asking myself what *I* thought, was to analyze the situation, sum him up, and supply him with an answer *he* wanted. Something that would fit his comfort zone.

And then I thought to myself - My God, I'd been doing this my whole life. I've become quite good at it, too. I can usually sum a person up in less than 30 seconds. People have no idea what they give away about themselves with their clothing, hairstyles, makeup/lack of makeup, adornments/lack of adornments, and body language.

He peered at me for a moment, when I didn't respond, and then he reached over and touched my arm and said "Are you all right?"

I stood there, wide eyed and making fish-mouth at him. Was I?

I'm at a point where the only people I have to "answer" to are Hubby and myself.

No parents - I've pretty much ended my relationship with my mother. No family - other than my sister, they're out of my life (which is where they belong), no really close friends I feel the need to impress, no boss whose opinion I value (because, let's face it - I just don't care what she thinks of me or anything else), no children to look out for, and thus no other parents to put on a good face for.

I have no one to impress, no one to adjust for, no one to make apologies to, no one to hide from, no one to explain myself to, no one to judge me (well, other than society - but really, who gives a rat's ass?).

There's just me and Hubby. I've been waiting 13 years now for Hubby to figure out I'm not everything he thinks I am, to realize I'm actually just fruitier than a nutcake, to come to terms with the fact that I'm just too much work, and finally give up and walk out. It's becoming more and more clear that isn't going to happen.

The stranger eventually shook his head and walked away, no doubt thinking I was a nutter.

Well, maybe I *am* kind of a nutter. I don't know - I've only just met me.