Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Paul Richmond. Thanks, Paul.

To know more about Paul Richmond, check out or see what he’s up to on twitter (@paulrichmondart) and Facebook. His latest painting, Glistening with Dark Leaves, was inspired by the work of Walt Whitman and is available as a limited-edition print in three sizes.


1) What are your top guilty pleasure movies (you don’t feel guilty about)?

That’s a difficult one because I usually don’t feel guilty for liking anything. But I’m going to go with a camp-tastic movie called Sextette that was made in the late 70’s and starred Mae West. I may feel a tinge of guilt over this one simply because my deep enjoyment is for reasons that were most likely not intended by its creators. I love Mae West and think she was amazingly ahead of her time. And I also love the fact that she made a movie where she played a six kitten, lusted after the world over, when she was in her mid-80’s. There are scenes where she seems to struggle to stand up, let alone walk across the room. But that doesn’t stop her from seducing an entire team of young Olympic athletes and every other guy staying at the same hotel as her — ON HER HONEYMOON, by the way  — and dropping sexy one-liners like the queen of Twitter before it was even invented. I don’t know how she convinced people to make this movie, or what wattage of light bulb was used to illuminate her so severely that she spends many scenes looking like a pure white feather duster propped up in the corner, but I recommend everyone track down a copy and watch it immediately. Preferably while wearing something lacy and dripping in jewels.

2) Pancakes, waffles or crepes?

Waffles. I have an obsessive personality and when I get on a kick, look out. My parents recently bought me a waffle maker. Which means that now, as soon as my feet hit the floor each morning, I have an immediate urge to start mixing up waffle batter.

3) Spend all day in the library or in an amusement park?

Sorry smart people, I have to go with amusement park – but only if I can pick which one, which would be Dollywood of course! Where else can you literally skip down a swirling rainbow-colored road leading to an entire museum of Dolly Parton’s wigs and supportive garments? Right after college, I almost convinced a friend to take a mural painting job at Dollywood with me, which would have meant LIVING AT DOLLYWOOD for an entire winter and painting a giant mural of her on a wall at the entrance of the park. I didn’t even care what they paid us – I was ready to sign us up! But my friend was a bit more practical, and raised some legitimate (albeit boring) considerations – such as the likelihood of our paint freezing as we stood outside all day in the middle of a Smoky Mountain blizzard painting Dolly’s giant curves. Details details!

4) What is your favorite word?

“Yes!” I get excited about new projects and ideas and I always take on way more than I probably should. Like a few months ago when I was asked to paint a giant portrait of James Franco for a film he was making – and I had to have it finished in a week so I could deliver it to him on the set. This was a painting that would take me a month or more under normal circumstances, but with enough caffeine and determination, anything is possible. Several of my friends told me afterward that if they had been in my shoes, they would have been too afraid to take on the project because of the time constraints but then they would have regretted it the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, before I even fully processed whether it was humanly possible, I had already answered YES and was en route to the art store for supplies.

5) Where would you pitch your tent if you could camp anyplace in the world for one week?

I’m not sure what this camping thing is you speak of. I don’t vacation anyplace where I can’t plug in a hairdryer. 🙂 I do love to travel though, and it would be hard to pick a favorite destination. I took a trip to Florence and Rome when I was in my early twenties and I would love to go back there again with the hubby sometime. It made a big impression on me to be surrounded by so much history and art. I felt the same way when I visited Athens, Paris, and Madrid. So basically just give me my man and a couple passports, ship us off to the other side of the world somewhere, and I’ll be happy!

Paul Richmond is an internationally recognized visual artist and activist whose paintings draw inspiration from his own Paul_WarPaintexperiences as a young gay man. He graduated from Columbus College of Art and Design in 2002 and came out of the closet shortly thereafter. Since then, his artwork has become a vehicle for exploring and understanding his own journey, as well as developing a dialogue with other members of the LGBTQ community.  Influenced by his own struggles as he came to terms with his sexual identity, he seeks to challenge social constructs that exist around sexual orientation and gender roles. His career has included exhibitions in galleries throughout the United States, as well as publication in numerous art journals and anthologies. His work is collected by individuals from around the globe. In his role as the Associate Art Director for Dreamspinner Press and their young adult imprint, Harmony Ink Press, he has created over two hundred and fifty novel cover illustrations. He is a co-founder of the You Will Rise Project, an organization that empowers those who have experienced bullying to speak out creatively through the language, visual, and performing arts. Paul shares his life with husband, Dennis Niekro. They were married in a group ceremony with twenty-four other LGBT couples in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in June 2013. Together, they are committed to using their artistic talents to raise equality awareness.


Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Raine O’Tierney. Thanks, Raine.

To know more about Raine O’Tierney, check out or see what she’s up to on twitter (@Raineotierney). Her latest literary triumph is the TOTALLY FREE Sing Me Your Love Song and is available here.


1) Do you check your horoscope on a regular basis?

I don’t, but I *love* my sign–Pisces. We’re supposedly creative folk! I’d like to believe it’s true. We might just be fishy. (Baddup-pssh!)

2) Transcontinental railroad trip or cruise around the Cape of Good Hope?

Transcontinental railroad trip! One of my most exciting adventures was taking the train for the first time in Japan. I’ve actually never been on a train in the U.S. but as long as I have somewhere to place my Chromebook, I think I would be quite happy riding the rails for days on end.

3) Christmas décor: simple and rustic or decked out to the nines?

Okay, I adore Christmas decorations–I do! But I sometimes feel like they are meant for people who are not quite as, erm, lazy as I am. We have a two foot tree. Fold out branches. It comes with lights attached. And yet there are years I can’t be bothered to get it out of the box and put it on the table.

4) What is your favorite word?


5) How would you spend one Saturday/overnight/Sunday in Las Vegas?

Researching! Gambling (for research), seeing shows (for research), eating and drinking (for research), talking to the hookers? (For research!) I actually have no idea. I’m really more of a ‘Go to the movies’ than ‘Go to Vegas’ sort of gal. 😉

Raine O’Tierney wants to change the world… one sweet story at a time. Known as “The Queen of the Sweetness” Raine_OTierney(well, a few people have said it anyway!) Raine loves writing sweet, character-driven stories about first loves, first times, fidelity, forever-endings and… friskiness? In addition to her solo works, she’s one half of a collaborative team with author Debbie McGowan. When she’s not writing, Raine is either playing video games or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. She believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers. Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or discussing which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guests are Liam and Garrett. Thanks, Liam and Garrett.

To know more about Liam and Garrett, check out my book Emergency Contact, available from Dreamspinner Press.


1) The best spot in the house to nap?

Garrett: On the chaise. Wrapped in afghans, quilts, and Apollo and Hermes–our cats–with Liam as my pillow.
Liam: I don’t nap.
Garrett: Liar.
Liam: Okay, well, I lay down when Garrett wants to nap and sometimes I fall asleep…
Garrett: (interrupts) He loves napping, don’t believe otherwise.
Liam: As I was saying… because who can resist being covered in afghans, quilts, cats, and a perfect adorable boyfriend?
Garrett: All is wonderful and forgiven. Forever.

2) Cinnamon rolls or croissant?

Garrett: Cinnamon rolls!
Liam: If Garrett is making them, anything really.

3) Dreamer or realist?

Garrett: We’re each a little bit of both.
Liam: Hmmm. You know, I can agree with that.

4) What is your favorite word?

Liam: Symmetry.
Garrett: Aww.
Liam: What? It’s a great word.
Garrett: Great–yes, yes it is. Mine is the look on his face when he sees me working in the library wearing my glasses.
Liam: That is decidedly not a word.
Garrett: Close enough for me.

5) There’s an annual summer solstice naked bike ride held in Seattle. Now that you’re residents, have you considered participating?

Liam: The what? No. Never.
Garrett: I’m working on changing that answer.
Liam: Let me run the numbers again and, oh look: No.
Garrett: It could be fun! Solstice! Body paints! We can paint each other!
Liam: …no. Probably.

When Liam’s best friend has to leave town on business, he asks for a favor—be an emergency contact for his cousinEmergencyContact who is new in town. Liam doesn’t think twice before he accepts. He’s great with numbers and confidently plays the odds, because nobody ever uses those emergency contacts, right? Wrong. The very next Sunday, cousin Garrett shows up at Liam’s apartment, fresh-faced, devastatingly gorgeous. Garrett arrived in New York City hoping to make it in the modeling world, and Liam isn’t sure what to do with him. While he eventually warms to welcome the distraction, he’s not prepared to have his steady, predictable world overturned. Liam is sure Garrett will soon tire of him and find someone closer in age and less eager for the quiet, settled life Liam prefers. But Garrett is not as shallow as Liam presumes. Although Garrett sees a future for the two of them, Liam manages to push him away. It is only then Liam sees the Garrett-shaped hole in his life.

Do Good July.15

Every month I feature a way to give back by sharing things I’ve found meaningful to champion. For July 2015 I chose Underwearness. We all know the thrill of receiving something brand new, something given just to us that is just for us. Imagine if that thrill came from something as simple as a brand new pair of underwear.

Ways to help: Get Involved || Donate


Mission Statement:

One night at dinner my brother-in-law told a story that grabbed my heart and would not let go. This is what he told me:

“You thought getting toys with only three wheels was bad, we were so poor that we would be excited to find barely used underwear in the bags of clothes donated by the church.”

“Barely used, you did not get new underwear?” I asked. I was shocked to hear that something as basic as new underwear was not provided in a town much like mine, to kids much like me. The only difference was that they were in circumstances that made them less fortunate. I left that evening feeling sad to know that children grew up with used underwear or no underwear at all.

I carried the vision of these children with me to work the next morning and shared the story with my co-workers.  Everyone’s heartstrings were tugged at the same time, and before we knew it we were formulating a plan to make a difference in children’s lives, one pair of underwear at a time!  We may not be saving the world, but we can provide children the basic human kindness of being able to open up a new package of underwear that is theirs, and theirs alone. In an astonishingly short period of time, UNDERWEARNESS, Inc. was born.

We have come a long way from that first brainstorming session. We have a Mission, a Strategy, a Board of Directors, a grass roots marketing model, and partners stepping forward to help us make this dream a reality.  Each time we tell our story we hear even more stories of all the children and organizations that we can serve.  Many hearts have been captured by the simple act of providing new underwear to children. Our fun and creative name adds a light-hearted touch to our efforts so that no child will ever suffer the humiliation of pulling a pair of used underwear out of a bag of donated clothes.


Happy giving, in whatever way you choose to better your world!

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Agatha Bird. Thanks, Agatha.

To know more about Agatha Bird, check out or see what she’s up to on twitter (@aggybird). Her latest literary triumph is Recipe for Magic and it’s available here.


1) You get a private tour of any historic site in the world—what’s your destination?

Does it have to be a site that still exists? Because I would give my theoretical first born to wander around the Royal Library of Alexandria. As a librarian, it’s the holy mecca of my people. Of course, I couldn’t read any of the languages, and I was crap at Ancient Greek in college, so I’d hope my tour guide was a decent translator. If the Library is disqualified on the basis that a time machine is currently unavailable, then I’m going to be cliché and say Stonehenge. I want my tour guide to be a secret Druidic descendant with even more secret knowledge of the site and its arcane workings. (My life would be so much more interesting if I wrote it.)

2) Are you a compulsive keeper or ridder of things?

A Ridder of Things is actually the title of my next book. (It’s not, but wouldn’t that be awesome? Some kind of magical garbage man…) I am one of the least sentimental people on the planet, so I have very few keepsakes. I also have a rule that if I haven’t used it in a year, it goes away. I try to donate things to charity (or unsuspecting coworkers) before I resort to throwing it out. I moved into a new place at the beginning of the summer and did some serious cleansing, which makes me feel light and free. Plus, the less stuff you have to move, the better. The one exception to this: books. Their numbers only grow.

3) Cherries: sweet or tart?

Sweet! My friends have lovingly bestowed the nickname “Hummingbird” upon me because of my preference for sweet things. (Usually alcohol.) I like sickly sweet cherry pie, maraschino cherries at the bottom of my beverage, and cherry slushies.

4) What is your favorite word?

My favorite word is probably dangit. It’s my most-uttered phrase, and it’s incredibly versatile. You can imbue so much into a single “dangit.” (And you can dress it up to “golldangit” if you’re feelin’ frisky.) The word reminds me of my very southern grandma, who had a lexicon of Arkansas-inspired phrases that I love to pepper in here or there. The word ridiculous comes in a close second. It pairs well with “dangit” and leaves a faint, nutty aftertaste.

5) Is there a subject you’re fascinated with but not many people know you’re so interested in?

I love, love, love Halloween makeup and face painting. Some of my closest friends are very aware of this, and run away at the beginning of October so they are not subjected to my madness. I usually start planning my elaborate Halloween costumes a year in advance, and I watch countless hours of facepainting videos on YouTube every week. It is a sickness. I’m subscribed to at least five face painting channels, and if you sit still near me long enough, I’ll try to put makeup on you. In another life, I would have been an FX makeup artist instead of an enthusiastic amateur. Prop making, mold making, crazy creature design makeup — IT’S THE BEST. (I’m sure a lot of this can be traced back to my unhealthy love of monsters. Most things can.)

Agatha Bird grew up in sunny, swampy Florida where she still lives with two ridiculously named cats. agathabirdShe told fibs when she was a kid, but now she tells stories. (Plus, storyteller sounds way better than professional liar.) She subsists on a steady diet of sunflower seeds, tea, books, and terrible puns. Libraries are her natural habitat, and she reaches her full power once a year on Halloween. She believes in wereyorkies, the full moon, and true romance. She loves monsters, magic, bad guys, and happy endings, preferably all in one story. She thinks frog princes are totally overdone, so she stares a little too longingly at alligators. One has yet to stare longingly back.

Friday Fun Five

Happy Friday! This week’s guest is Ariel Tachna. Thanks, Ariel.

To know more about Ariel Tachna, check out or see what she’s up to on twitter (@arieltachna). Her latest literary triumphs are Dance Off and Cherish the Land and are available here.


1) If you could claim any one work of art ever made as your own, which would you take home?

Wow, that is a hard question, not the least because of all the different ways one could define a work of art. Is Machu Picchu a work of art? Is the Louvre (by which I mean the building itself, not its contents) a work of art? And then you have the issue of weighing the value of one of my daughter’s paintings against something others would see as a greater work of art but that would have less value for me.

If I had to choose from what would more traditionally be called works of art, I would choose La Dame à la licorne tapestry in the Musée de Cluny in Paris. I have been fascinated by unicorns and collected them in various shapes and materials since I was a child. I made a unicorn tapestry when I was in ninth grade, but it’s nothing compared to the real one!

2) Long-stemmed roses or wildflowers?

Definitely wildflowers. I love roses, and I have several rose bushes in my garden, but there’s something so freeing about the riot of color and shape and fragrance that is a field of wildflowers. Roses are beautiful and elegant, but they’re also controlled. They’re the unattainable beauty of Greta Garbo or Ingrid Bergman, perfectly polished but somehow cold. Wildflowers are a little less perfect, but there are no limits placed upon them.

3) Brownies or blondies?

Brownies. There is no such thing as too much chocolate. I make fudge brownies with chocolate chips in them.

4) What is your favorite word?

According to my beta readers, it’s “just.” Apparently I overuse that a little, although I’m trying to get better about it. I would say frisson is one of my favorite words. It’s that hint of French that adds elegance and mystery to a sensation whose synonyms all either have a negative connotation (shudder) or are less elegant (wallop). It also tickles me that when I look it up in the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, all the rhymes with words are in French. (I might have a bit of a thing for the French language and culture and food and well, all things French.)

5) Tomorrow is July 4th—you have a limitless budget, how will you celebrate?

I’ve always wanted to visit Washington, D.C. on July 4. I remember watching the fireworks over the Washington Monument on TV as a child, particularly the bicentennial. I’d love to see them in person someday.

Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their two dogs. arielBefore moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with both France, where she found her husband, and India, where she dreams of retiring someday. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit, and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.

July.15 Book Rec

This month’s book recommendation: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns. My reasons for choosing this book are many: It’s July, making it America’s birthday month; I love love love the documentary it is a companion to; Duncan and I both get misty-eyed thinking about new land being formed when lava meets the ocean; I always enjoy a great nonfiction read; it’s Dreamspinner Press’ American Dream #dreamer month, and I was thus inspired.

the national parks

Even if you haven’t seen the documentary — or maybe especially if you haven’t — this book has so much to offer. The photographs alone are worth a look. The narrative is rich in history about the Parks, but calls upon historical parallels happening in the United States as the Parks are formed, established, and become an institution. There’s far more than trivia about Yosemite to be gleaned, here. Duncan & Burns maintain the balance between factual detail and sensitive prose quite ably, making it an informative and absorbing read.

The National Parks will make you want to turn another page, and at the same time, make you want to bust outside and take a long walk. That’s the best of both worlds, really.

Brew a pot of tea and enjoy!