Review of The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth

Freaks shall inherit the earth book cover

I’ve read a lot of business book over the years but none have them have stayed with me like Chris Brogan’s The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. Now some might be put off by the term freaks but Chris explains that being a freak is a good thing. He defines a freak as someone who does things their own way and who doesn’t necessarily “fit in” without some effort. It’s someone who does not do business the way the rules dictate and who is not a fan of settling or compromising. It’s doing business on your own terms and, as Chris puts it, “You’re looking for ways to allow your weirdness to be an asset and not the deficit that people have tried to convince you it is.”

The tone of the book is casual and conversational – it feels as though you’re chatting with the author over a cup of coffee at a local cafe. But don’t let its informality fool you – there are a plethora of valuable gems in this book that can help you in your business and personal life, regardless of whether you’re a new entrepreneur, someone who works a day job, or a seasoned businessperson.

He starts about by defining what business is and then covers such topics as how fear can mess up your business, how to schedule your workday, how to overcome obstacles and challenges, why community and connection is important, and how to build your own media empire, just to name a few.

One of my favorite chapters was the Creating Systems That Work for You chapter, in which he talked about establishing a compass – five to seven reminders that you need to focus on daily. He provides an example of his own compass and how he incorporates it into his business as part of his system. By creating a compass myself, I have become more focused on the important things and am accomplishing much more than previously.

I found the chapter entitled Structure a Framework for Your Days to be life-changing and after reading it, my entire attitude on goal-setting changed. His helpful A Daily Framework table provides an excellent starting point and can help keep you on track in both your business life and personal life.

The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth is not only for entrepreneurs. A good majority of the information can be used even if you are employed by someone else, regardless of whether or not you plan on staring your own business down the road. Moreover, he dedicates an entire chapter to the topic which he entitled “Are You an Employeepreneur?” He defines and employeepreneur as “someone who has a job in a company, but is executing it like an owner”. In this chapter, Chris provides information how to excel at your day job and finding ways to accomplish your work goals. Lots of excellent stuff here.

The book is not just theory like so many business books out there but rather provides actionable tools to get you going. It also provides help to overcome those obstacles and pitfalls that inevitably appear in any business.

The book contains the following chapters (each of wish is broken down into several subsections):

  • Business New and Old and New Again
  • The Wild Colors and the Solid Spine
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Defining Success
  • Skill Building for Your Business Goals
  • Fall in Love with Not Knowing
  • Structure a Framework for Your Days
  • Are You an Employeepreneur?
  • Create Systems That Work for You
  • Are You a Solo or Small Business Owner?
  • Fall in Love with Not Knowing, Redux
  • Worship Obstacles and Challenges
  • Build Your Own Media Empire
  • Connect with Your Freaks
  • Own Everything
  • What It All Goes Wrong
  • Take Action! Fight Crime! Save the World!

If you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, are a business person who tends to approach their business more unconventionally than others (or would like to) or are simply looking for some invaluable business tips, tricks, gems, tools and practical advice, then The Freaks Who Inherit the Earth is definitely worth a read. Recommended!

You can check out the book HERE

Review of Secret (Elementals)

Secret book cover

We’ve already seen life through the eyes of the elementals Chris, Gabriel, and Hunter. In the latest book in the Elemental series, Secret, it’s finally Nick’s turn to tell his story – and a complicated one, it is. Nick certainly ended up being a much more complex character than I had originally thought.

Now I will warn you upfront – this is one of those books that is very difficult to put down. In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting, staying up until almost dawn. Hmm..I remember that happening the last time I read a book in the Elemental series.

Nick has a Secret

Nick is the good twin, the reasonable one, the well-behaved one. But he has a secret….a HUGE secret that is eating him alive so much so that’s he’s broken. He is crippled by stress, worried sick, can’t sleep and, although once being a star A student, is now flunking exams at school.

Since Nick’s secret was revealed in Breathless, I’m not giving away any spoilers when I tell you what that secret is: He is struggling with his sexuality and is having one hell of a time coming to terms with his attraction to Quinn’s dancing partner, Adam – and Adam’s attraction to him.

But how is Nick supposed to “come out” in a testosterone-filled household of his three brothers and Hunter, a former guide? And moreover, how will Gabriel, his macho, volatile twin brother react if – or when – he finds out?

And So Does Quinn

In this book, we delve a little more into the world of Quinn who is Nick’s pretend girlfriend. I really warmed up to Quinn in this novel and loved the fact that the author presented her story as sort of a sub-story to Nick’s.

Her world is falling apart quickly and her home life goes from bad to worse to deadly. Being the saucy, snarky young lady that she is, she tells nobody about her predicament, determined to manage on her own – except the fact that she’s spending nights out in the woods, too afraid to go home.

But help does come….and from the arms of a most unlikely source, much to the chagrin of the Merricks.

Adam Has Secrets Too

While Nick is trying to come to terms with his feelings for Adam, we learn that Adam has a dark, disturbing past of his own and is still trying to come to terms with it….and not always very successfully. One bad decision on Nick’s part tears Adam away from him and their budding relationship ends before it barely begins. Can Nick fix it? Or are Adam and Nick both too emotionally messed up?

And Then There’s the Guide

What would be the point of an Elemental book if there wasn’t somebody out trying to kill the Merrick boys? In that aspect, this book doesn’t disappoint. Right in the midst of everyone’s home and personal drama, a new guide comes to town and he’s worse than the last one (remember Shadow?). He’s ruthless, unfeeling and completely detached from humanity – and he won’t rest until each and every one of the Merrick’s are dead.

The Verdict

The author did a masterful job in her characterizations, plot development, attention to detail as well as illustrating the complicated relationships between the characters. This novel just isn’t about a bad man* trying to kill the Merrick brothers. It also touches on matters of self-discovery, friendship, brotherhood, family dynamics, judgement of others, using others and even romance.

Secret is a solid, fast moving, emotional roller-coaster of a story. If you haven’t yet read this series, start out with Spark, told from Nick’s twin brother Gabriel’s point of view. If you’ve read all of the other Elemental novels, then this one is not to be missed. This might be my favorite Elemental novel thus far, although I enjoyed all of them immensely.

Recommended!

Weekly Roundup – March 15, 2014

Image of Lion at Como Zoom

This is my “Saturday Roundup” post where I wrap up the week’s events. provide links to some interesting posts that I came across on the Web during the week and perhaps even throw in a photo or two.

On a Personal Level…

I once again stuck to my writing goal of 2,000 words a day – a continuous streak since January 1st. Being that we are still in the full throes of winter here in Wisconsin, I had no problem with productivity – too darn cold to do much of anything else! So I’m working my butt off this winter with the hopes of slowing down a bit when summer finally makes an appearance.

This week, I completed the third book in my new series featuring sixteen year-old Nick, a high school tarot card reader who can see ghosts – and have begun outlining the fourth novel in the series. I’ve also made quite a bit of progress editing the second draft of the first book. Getting closer and close to publication.

Was hoping to see the new Wes Anderson movie “Grand Budapest Hotel” but it has still not made it to Milwaukee. It’s been out in other cities for over a week already. I’ll be bummed if it doesn’t make it here.

On the Web

Andrew Sullivan posted a short video of Edward Snowden speaking to a South by Southwest audience via Google Hangout, during which he stressed the need for consumers to start encrypting their data, which led to an interesting discussion on the blog. Snowden also Skyped into South by Southwest. You can watch the hour long video HERE.

If you enjoy photography, then you might want to check out these 50 Photography Quotes to Inspire You, posted at the Petapixel blog.

Filmmaker Tatia Pilieva did an experiment during which he asked 20 complete strangers to make out. See the video HERE

Another film by a Seattle artist memorializes his gay grandfather who came out at 90.

Are you a Golden Girls fan? This week, the Towleroad blog posted some of the best gay moments from the Golden Girls. It was fun to see these clips again.

I also came across an interested video in which a photographer tried to get a video of a supposed cougar in urban Hollywood. He succeeds.

Feeling stuck in your writing? Then check out [Alexandra Franzen’s post](http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2014/03/02/what-should-i-write-about/] featuring 33 prompts get your writing going again.

If you’re looking for reasonably priced cloud storage, then you might be interested to learn Google has slashed the cost of Google Drive to $2.99 a month for 100 gig. That might be the cheapest cloud storage I’ve seen.

Microsoft also was in the news this week. Come spring, the company will begin offering a Personal Office 365 subscription for $6.95 a month.

Kevin Truong is the creator of The Gay Men Project, his own idea to photograph as many gay men as he possibly can all over the world. Great into video to the project – looking forward to seeing a lot more from him.

From the Cape Gazette come a unique take on an obituary. This guy had a great sense of humor!

Are feeling a tad needy? Then you might want to check out Leo Babauta’s article entitled Becoming Emotionally Self-Reliant

And for a good chuckle, check out this video during which two gay dad’s meet the neighborhood “oversharer”. Warning: Not family friendly or for those with a prudish disposition.

And…that’s a wrap!

Caturday Weekly Roundup

Picture of a cute kittenThis is my “Caturday Roundup” post where my buddy Leo (the adorable kitten pictured to the right) helps me wrap up the week’s events and provide links to some interesting posts that I came across on the Web during the week.

On a Personal Level…

I stuck to my writing goal of 2,000 words a day – a continuous streak since January 1st. I started second edits on my series featuring sixteen year-old Nick, a high school tarot card reader who can see ghosts. So far, I’ve completed three books in the series with three more planned out. I’m hoping the first one will be released within a month. Keep an eye out for my sexy werewolf novel coming soon as well.

As we’re still in the throes of winter here in Milwaukee, I’ve been focusing mainly on work – there will be plenty of time to play in the summer. Although every time I walk past my motorcycle in the garage, I get a little weak-kneed, waiting for spring to arrive.

On the Web

Andrew Sullivan posted a short film (only 4 min.) that was inspired by the work of H.G. Wells. A beautiful, poetic work.

If sexy, shirtless French Firemen are your cup of tea, then you might want to check out this video. It features an entire fire department lip syncing to “Call Me Maybe” (the poor young men got into hot water for it too).

Another fun French video features two brothers (or brother-in-laws) who call themselves “Les Beaux Frères” and perform an incredible routine on French TV wearing only ….um… A towel.

Queen Elizabeth made the news this week. For the first time ever, according to this article, she publicly acknowledges gay people. Who wudda thunk it?

In the literary world, Anne Rice signs a petition to protest bullying of authors on Amazon.

Another author, Sarah Madison, wrote a wonderful piece entitled “Why a Middle-Aged Woman Identifies with “Frozen”. I saw this movie recently and fell in love with it! I can relate to many aspects of the film that the author mentions in the article And if you really like Frozen, check out the Spanish Version of the movie’s feature song “Let It Go” along with the words here.

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits talked in this article about what he learned as a writer. Some Great Tips here.

For my blogger or wanna-be blogger friends out there, Courtney Carver wrote a great article on the Be More With Less blog entitled How to Start a Blog with Purpose.

For my photographer friends, how about a public restroom shaped like a compact camera? It’s true and you can read about it here.

And just for fun, Andrew Sullivan of the Dish posted Adam Baran’s video entitled Jackpot which depicts a teenager’s quest to acquire a treasure trove of gay porn magazines (the movie takes place in 1994, when Internet porn wasn’t so accessible).

In homage to one of the worst winters in the past 35 years, TowlerRoad blog featured a video of two young men Snow Swimming of all things!

And…that’s a wrap!

Review of Life Lessons by Kaje Harper

Life lessons book cover

Life Lessons Series

I’ve been meaning to read the the Life Lessons series by Kaje Harper for awhile now but have not as of yet gotten around to it so I was overjoyed when I noticed that my Goodreads book club was reading the first book in the series, Life Lessons in March. Now this author is not new to me. I’ve read two other books of hers: Sole Support and Into Deep Waters, both of which I really enjoyed. I had no idea what the book was about but it didn’t take long to figure out that it was a mystery/detective novel because it…

Starts Out With a Body

Right from the get-go, this adrenaline-filled story hits the ground running. The novel opens one evening at Roosevelt High School as young teacher Tony Hart prepares to leave for the night. As soon as the elevator door opens, one of his colleagues, Brian Weston, stumbles into him and drops to the floor. It’s then that Tony notices the knife sticking in Westin’s chest. Tony checks for a pulse. He’s dead.

Panicked, Tony leaves the body in the elevator and calls the police from his classroom. He then anxiously awaits their arrival.

Enter Mac

Homicide detective Jared MacLean – who goes by Mac – arrives on the scene. He and Tony appear to be complete opposites. While Tony is young, a tad twink-ish, opinionated, out & proud and somewhat sarcastic, Mac is masculine, pushing 40, gruff, by-the-book, and straight (or so it seems initially).

We learn as the novel progresses that Mac has had a difficult background – he is a widower and the legal father of a daughter who is not his. The daugher is being raised by his religious crackpot of a cousin, who won’t allow Mac in her house because she believes that Mac and his former wife (now deceased) had the child out of wedlock. We also learn that he is gay but is so deeply in the closet that he doesn’t ever acknowledge Hart’s flirting – or his growing own attraction to the young teacher.

I also found the police procedural scenes to be well-done, thorough and believable. Many authors tend to do a “data dump” when describing crime and police procedures. This was not the case here – the author expertly unfurled information only as we needed it.

The Plot Thickens

The relationship between the two men unfolds a little at a time with Hart being angry with himself for lusting after a straight cop and Mac being unable to let Hart know that his advances are not unwelcome, as he stay firm in his conviction that he will remain in the closet.

The author reveals the inner-workings of the characters slowly, allowing us to get to really know the them. No love at first sight here. In fact, it begins to appear that Mac is never going to let Hart know that he is also gay and attracted to Hart.

There was one especially revealing event in the story – the day Mac and Hart ran into each other at the zoo, each accompanied by a kid. I found their day at the zoo to be one of the more tender moments of the book, as the two men, on neutral turf and off the clock, conversed freely and honestly, providing each other with a synopsis of their life story – and yes, Mac’s sexuality was still unknown to Hart at this time.

No Relief For Hart

The plot of our murder mystery thickens as well and Tony Hart is right in the thick of things, with several threats against his life, as well as another murder and an attempted murder.

Toward the end of the book, we realize that Tony is not the wimpy twink we may have pegged him for. We learn that he is no pushover and can definitely hold his own in a crisis.

And the Part We’ve Been Waiting For…

The stress, as well as the body count, is rising. The threats against Hart’s life are becoming more serious and a murderer is still on the loose. Along with the tension of a high-profile murder case, each man is trying to deal with the attraction he feels for the other. Finally, it all explodes and Hart and Mac ended up in each other’s arm…and in bed. [Fanning myself].

The sex was hot…yet, not overdone. I’ve read so many novels in which once the characters have sex for the first time, we find them jumping in bed with each other every two pages – with the plot of the book gets lost in the process. Not so here. The sex scenes are well-done, relevant to the story and do not overpower or take away from the plot.

The End

Do our heroes survive unscathed? Don’t worry – I won’t tell you how it ends. But I will say that you are in for one hell of a roller-coaster ride! The denouement is tense, exciting, surprising and adrenaline-filled. And believe me, by the end you will really care about what happens to these characters.

The Verdict

Once again, this author did not disappoint. This well-written story was compelling and gripping enough to keep me turning the pages, wondering what was going to happen next. The storyline was fast-moving but not so fast-paced that you lost what was going on. This book was part crime/detective novel, part slow romance – although I will say that theirs is not a fluffy gushing-over-each-other type of romance. This novel is touching, compelling, absorbing and scary in all the right places with extremely well-developed characters. I can’t wait to read the next one in the series. Recommended!

Review of Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble

Just Between Us

Awhile back, I wrote a review of J.H. Trumble’s book “Don’t Let Me Go” during which I expressed how much I loved that book. I was delighted to see that the Goodread’s Young Adult LGBT fiction group featured another of her books, Just Between Us” for February’s read – not that I needed an excuse to read another of this wonderful author’s books.

Luke is Back!

I was pleased to see a familiar face – seventeen year old Luke Chesser, who served as a secondary character in Don’t Let Me Go. This time, he gets his own book…well, sort of….he shares it with Curtis Cameron (more on him in a bit). While it certainly can be helpful to have read Don’t Let Me Go, it is not necessary – this book stands entirely on its own.

That being said, in “Just Between Us” we see Luke, still freshly heartbroken from the Adam/Nate debacle in the first book, now living in Texas with his mother (I was relived to see his abusive father out of the picture – at least for the time being). He is still very much involved with the marching band at his new high school and during practice, notices the handsome and charming nineteen year-old Curtis Cameron, the new band field tech who had graduated from the same high school. Luke plays hard to get at first but it doesn’t take long before Curtis’s charming way digs right into Luke’s heart and he find himself falling hard for Curtis – and Curtis for him. The two become inseparable….for awhile.

Curtis

Curtis attempts to convince himself that Luke is too young, that he doesn’t want to get involved with a high school student. But he can’t help himself…Luke is just too darned sweet and shy. But before their relationship has a chance to get off the ground, Curtis receives a shocking phone-call while at a family gathering from his ex-lover who accuses Curtis of infecting him with HIV.

Curtis blows it off, not taking the call seriously although it is still in the back of his mind. He finds himself reluctant to take his and Luke’s relationship to the next level just in case. Luke, realizing that Curtis is avoiding physical intimacy, begins pressuring Curtis even more. Curtis finally breaks down and gets tested so he can, with a clear conscience, begin a relationship with Luke.

The World Comes Crashing Down

Curtis discovers he’s HIV Positive. Ashamed and horrified, he refuses to begin treatment, living in what can best be classified as a state of denial. His life spirals downward and he inadvertently cuts himself off from Luke and his supportive family because of his own shame and self-loathing. But moreover, he decides that he cannot – and will not – ever consider having a relationship with Luke. He simply cannot risk infecting this sweet young man with this terrible disease. So before it even begins, their budding relationship is over as Curtis erects more and more impenetrable walls between him and Luke.

This is where the reading gets tough. As a reader, I found it excruciating at times to take this journey with Curtis, watching him self-destruct before our eyes. Being a product of the 80’s, I lost many dear friends to AIDS so I found this book exceptionally difficult to get through in places, as it brought up memories of people whose lives were cut way too short. Luckily, times are different these days and if the patient begins treatment in time, most can expect to live a long life. I applaud the author for presenting timely, well-researched information on HIV and attempting to clear up the many misconceptions surrounding this disease.

Everyone Finds Out

Luke learns the truth about why Curtis had practically cut him out of his life and lashes out in anger and hurt at Curtis. It is about this time that Curtis makes it very clear that they will never have a relationship together. Against his better judgment, Luke promises not to tell Curtis’s family about the illness. We continue to witness Curtis’s slow decline, which is utterly heartbreaking in and of itself, but equally upsetting to watch is his complete rejection of Luke, who is willing to stand by his side no matter what, throughout the good and the bad.

Finally, due to circumstances out of the control of Curtis’, the cat is out of the bag – his family learns the truth.

The Verdict

This was an incredibly touching portrayal of a young man who finds out he is HIV positive. The characters are extremely well-developed and I felt that the reader could really relate to everything Curtis was going thorough – including his shame, fear, disgust, self-pity and self-hatred. While one may not agree with Curtis’s methods, one can certainly understand his fear of infecting the young man that he had grown to love with a potentially life-threatening disease. The character of Luke, who was portrayed as clingy and somewhat needed in Don’t Let Me Go ended up being the adult in the relationship and was called upon to make some tough decisions.

This story made me laugh in places, cry in places and often, wished I could wring Curtis’s neck until he came to his senses. The characters in this novel, including the secondary ones, truly come to life on the pages in all their tenacity, shame, love, hate, fear and human follies. This compelling and powerful character-driven story tackled a sensitive issue with expertise and compassion .

My only niggle with the book – and it’s a personal preference niggle – was that it is written using multiple first point of view; that is to say, one chapter is told from Curtis’s first person perspective while the next is told from Luke’s. I found this a little bit distracting and a couple of times, had to peek back at the beginning of the chapter to refresh my memory on whose mind we were seeing the world through.

Just Between Us is not a light and fluffy feel-good type of read but rather is a heartfelt and at times, raw & gritty peak into the life of a college student recently diagnosed with HIV and the young man who chooses to love him regardless. Recommended!!