Magical Trip! Disney & Universal

DisneyEars

After Rainbow Con we traveled an hour East and had a couple days of magic in Orlando! As you can see above, we couldn’t resist the Star Wars version of Mickey ears.

We stayed at Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside resort, which was quite pleasant and offered up some good food, which was breakfast and dinner a couple times.

We spent a day at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure because I wanted to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Will and I both wanted to see The Simpsons stuff. The Harry Potter ride was awesome (except for the scary spiders part). All of the Potter stuff was fun, especially the Butterbeer which I loved!

Hogwarts Express

Universal seems to be the king of the 3D movie ride. We both enjoyed Spiderman, Despicable Me, Transformers, Krustyland (which was a great retooling of Back to the Future). Disaster! was a cool expansion of Earthquake! (with Christopher Walken no less). We also revisited the classic magic of E.T. We were less impressed with Shrek 4D. The movie was good, the “ride” experience was less though.

We got to eat at Krusty Burger too, which was way cool! (Actually, we got burgers at Krusty Burger and ate them in Moe’s….but it was all awesome.)

Over at Disney, we had two primary goals–have a meal at Be Our Guest (which is Beast’s Castle) and to ride Expedition Everest.

We scored major with Be Our Guest because somehow we ended up in a test group to get a lunch reservation on Fast Pass+. So, rather than wait forever in a line to get in to eat, we had an arrival time. This was spectacular and worth the entire park admission price for me. The castle is gorgeous. The ordering experience via a combination of touch screen and the Magic Band was cool. And, best of all, the food was good. They really pour on the magic here. I felt like I was in the movie… and I freely admit I wept a couple times because it was all so perfect, including snow falling outside the ballroom.

Castle Ballroom

We rode the new Little Mermaid ride, which was cool. We did classics with Haunted Mansion, Winnie the Pooh, Tiki Room, Country Bear Jamboree and Pirates of the Caribbean too.

Over at Animal Kingdom we made our way to Everest… where I chickened out. I saw this drop…

Expedition Everest

… and I bailed. He rode it and reported that he liked it, but he wanted to see more Yeti!

Overall it was a tremendous couple of theme park days. Universal was great because you could actually spend some additional cash and get priority access to everything we wanted, except Harry Potter. Disney you can only get priority for three things per day, so we ended up riding less (I wish Disney would go the Universal route because we would’ve paid for the access since we were only there a day).

You can see all of our theme park adventures over in the Flickr album.

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    Rainbow Con 2014 Wrap-up

    Will & Jeff and an Rainbow Con signWill and I attended the inaugural Rainbow Con in Tampa over Easter weekend (April 17-20). It was a great time mixing with a bunch of authors and readers. We caught up with some great friends and made some new ones too.

    The thing that first attracted me to Rainbow Con was the tremendous diversity in the panel discussions–everything from three panels dealing with the Young Adult genre, to looking at trans and gender queer characters to writing lesbian fiction to religion and all kinds of things in between. There were dozens of panels and times where I couldn’t be everywhere I wanted to be. For the most part, the panels I went to were very informative, and usually entertaining as well.

    Religion and Genre FictionThe religion panel, which initially I went to because my friend Wade Kelly was on it, turned into a wonderfully insightful discussion on how religion is portrayed in LGBT fiction. The panel, which was hosted by David Berger, also included Angel Martinez, Cari Z, and Sui Lynn. In particular I liked how they all wanted to avoid the stereotype of the evil character from the religious right. They wanted to see religion portrayed, both good and bad, in fully rounded characters who had motivation behind what they were doing. It was a fascinating way to start off Easter Sunday morning.

    Two of the YA panels I liked a lot also. One dealt specifically with the challenges of presenting sexual content in YA. It’s something teens are aware of, but there’s the need to balance it in terms of what the parents want their children to read and what libraries will stock. Another panel dealt with the genre in a more general way, and the importance of continuing to write in the genre and to present a broad array of characters so the audience can see themselves.

    Geoff Knight, one of our closest friends, was the guest of honor for the conference. His reading and Q&A session was excellent, especially since he read from two books I haven’t read. In particular, his read from The Boy From Brighton, was so very good and nearly made me cry a couple times. I’ve already bought and added that to my Kindle.

    Speaking of adding to the Kindle. Stephen Del Mar was on several panels and he mentioned his story called “Slay Me,” said the Dragon. He did a reading from that and it was hysterically funny–dragons hiding in human form… and a dragon falling in love with a slayer! I had to buy that too based on his reading.

    This was the first con that I attended as an author. The coolest part of that experience was getting to read from Hat Trick. Since Will shot video, I can share the reading with everyone.

    The reading was amazing… even more so was the support I got afterwards. Geoff Knight put this out on his Facebook feed:

    Geoff Knight's Facebook Feed

    He also called out the reading as “fucking brilliant” during his own reading/Q&A session the next day. I’m truly honored to get such high remarks from him. I also appreciate that Becky Condit, W.S. Long and Sally Bosco all came to the reading and had good things to say afterwards!

    I also did a couple panel discussions. The plotters vs. pansers one was a lot of fun. I always like hearing other people’s processes and this was a lively discussion between the panelists and the audience (which had a lot of writers in it). The panelists shown below are K. Piet, S.L. Armstrong, Cody Stanford, David Berger, Lexi Ander, me, and Geoff Knight.

    Plotters vs Pantsers 2

    I also hosted one about how writer’s balance their day job and writing. This one was also interesting in terms of how people found their balance and got their job done while also doing everything involved in writing (not just writing words, but also editing, marketing and so on). The panelists shown below are me, Michael Rupured, Isabella Carter, Geoff Knight and W.S. Long.

    Don't Quit Your Day Job

    Besides catching up with Geoff and Wade, I also got to meet Sally and Spencer in person (yay!) and spend time with Michael and Anthony (who I’d met at GRL, but really got to know this time) and meet cool new people like Stephen, David and Beau to name a few. Sadly, even with four days, I didn’t spend time with everyone I wanted to. I saw Susan and Becky for only a few minutes here and there. And, despite the idea of setting up dinner with the duo who are Kindle Alexander, that didn’t quite come to fruition. I’m sure there are people that I should’ve met that I didn’t too.

    Already looking forward to doing it all over again at GRL in October!

    You can see all of our Rainbow Con photos over on Flickr.

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      Hat Trick on Best Seller List (Again) … and RainbowCon … and Sequel News

      best sellerThe journey Hat Trick is taking keeps amazing me.

      The JMS Books/Queerteen Press best seller list for the first quarter of 2014 came out this morning. After being #1 in the fourth quarter of 2013 on both lists, the book took a small dip to #2 on Queerteen Press and #5 on the broader JMS Books list. It’s cool that the book continued to sell into it’s second quarter of publication at such a good rate.

      I’m also happy that the book keeps sending funds to You Can Play. From the beginning I’ve donated one dollar for each copy sold to YCP and I just made a contribution this morning to represent this recent sales cycle.

      Another great thing in Q1 was getting reviewed (and getting 5 sweet peas) over at Mrs. Condit and Friends Read Books. With that, I was nominated as Author of the Month for March and it was an honor to be alongside some of my own favorite authors.

      RainbowCon2014RainbowCon is just a few days away. I’m excited, and a bit nervous. RC is going to be awesome. There are so many excellent panels to attend and cool people to catch up with or meet. I am nervous about reading. I’ve been practicing what I’ll read, which is a segment of Hat Trick‘s first scene. I think it sounds pretty good. We’ll see how the attendees react. I’m less nervous about the panels I’m on. I expect those to be pure fun (I’m on both with Geoff Knight, how can they not be!).

      By the way, you can still check out the RainbowCon blog tour stop I did at Joyfully Jay’s site. The giveaway is over, but you can still check out the post. (And thanks again to Jay for hosting me!)

      RainbowCon will also mark the first appearance of Hat Trick Overtime: A Classic Winter’s Night in print! All RC attendees will get a free copy of the short story in their welcome bags, which will also have a way to access the full scene that I’m reading from Hat Trick as well as a sneak peek of the first chapter from Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound (it’s still a work in progress, but it’s time to let some of it out into the world). Stay tuned to the website, I’ll release that chapter here once I’m home from RC… which will be after Will and I hit Disney World and Universal.

      For the Overtime booklets I have to give a huge shout out to one of my best friends, David LaBounty. Dave and I co-founded The First Line back in 1999. He continues to do great things with that magazine as well as with Blue Cubicle Press, which grew out of TFL. He was a ginormous help in creating a good-looking and low cost booklet that I could feel good about giving to RC attendees.

      Meanwhile, speaking of HT2, as I’ve taken to calling it, the book is moving along nicely. Feedback from my beta readers is positive and I’m integrating some of their feedback into the manuscript. My goal is to have all their comments by end of April and get it submitted in May. There’s also work going on with HT3, including figuring out this week what should be a kick-ass final chapter. As HT2 finishes, HT3 will shift into being primary focus. I’d say the first draft is about half way done.

      Thanks to everyone who continues to support Hat Trick! 

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        After Midnight

        After Midnight PlaybillIt’s pure coincidence that we saw two club-style shows in two weeks. After Midnight has been on our radar since it opened in November, but it’s guest star Vanessa Williams that made us step up and buy a ticket. This musical revue goes back to the era of The Cotton Club and the big band songs of Duke Ellington to make a high energy 90 minutes of our fun.

        Across those minutes you get 28 numbers that combine excellent singing and dancing. Dulé Hill, best known for his TV work in Psych and The West Wing, comes back to his musical roots as the host for the evening. Hill got his start as Savion Glover’s understudy in The Tap Dance Kid and later played in Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. He’s still got moves and he shows them a few times during the performance, especially in the show’s finale “Freeze and Melt”

        Vanessa Williams, who headlines four songs and also appears in the finale, was wonderful. Her take on “Stormy Weather” was perfection. She then showed off a super fun side on “Zaz Zuh Zaz.” As you can see in the picture below, she also kick up her heels a bit in the “Freeze and Melt” sequence. It was a delight to see her on stage again (we haven’t seen her since 2010′s Sondheim on Sondheim revue).

        Vanessa Williams, Dule Hill and the cast of After Midnight

        While all of After Midnight is excellent, there were some performers and songs that stood out. Julius “iGlide” Chisolm and Virgil “Lil’ O” Gadson have two amazing dances together that essentially amounted to a dance-off. Gadson also works to woo a woman, and his methods of wooing involved some very humorous choreography. Jared Grimes did some amazing tap work in Tap Mathematician and “It Don’t Mean a Thing.” Adriane Lenox delivered two outstanding comedic songs. I don’t know the name of the song, or who performed it, but there was a number around the half way point that was just music and a singer, but no words. It was sublime and I wish I could credit it better.

        Speaking of music, the orchestra was incredible. The Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars, under artistic director Wynton Marsalis, rocked the house!

        Here’s the show’s video reel. In the video, the role of the guest star is played by Fantasia, who originated the role (and returns to it once Vanessa ends her run on May 11). You’ll get just a small taste of who wonderful the show is.

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          ‘Dinah East’ is the Citizen Kane of Transvestite Melodramas

          Unknown

          The headline above isn’t just hyperbole, at the beginning of Dinah East the title character inexplicable drops dead and the rest of the film is an exploration of her life (told in flashback) by the people who knew her best. This odd little flick from 1970 is hard to describe. Try to imagine a glamorous Douglas Sirk drama from the 1950′s (but on a shoestring budget) and mix it with the relaxed 1969 “free love” attitude towards sex and nudity and you’ve got Dinah East. The thing I love most about the movie is that its tone is completely serious and there’s no winking at the audience. Every performer is completely earnest and utterly sincere in their portrayals, which in turn makes Dinah East a must-see camp masterpiece!

          NSFW warning. There is some very brief nudity in the featured trailer, but it’s not particularly salacious.

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