Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Round-up


Yeah, 2014 happened.

From the writing side, things were pretty quiet -- which is totally my bad. I've been working on a few stories, and intend to publish some of my out of print ones at Smashwords, so keep an eye out for that. I've also been contemplating dipping my toes in the world of YA books, which might require another pseudonym and additional website. Ah, planning.

From the personal side, the year was pretty rough. We lost one of our furry children after a two-year battle with cancer, and lost a grandfather, a stand-in grandmother, two uncles, and one aunt. So a lot of this past summer and fall was spent traveling and Mr. Bay reaching official pall bearer status.

Not all of 2014 sucked, though -- I also started a new grad school program this Fall, working toward my M.S. again. We had a few pleasure trips in between, including a nice B&B stay for our anniversary out in the Shenandoah Valley (wherein we discovered that, while a lack of cell phone reception is nice for the first 12 hours, we cannot exceed 18 hours without losing our minds), and we made good use of our Virginia Wine Pass for local day trips. We also attended several performances at Synetic Theater, including The Island of Dr. Moreau and Beauty and the Beast, and saw Three Decembers at UrbanArias, which may have made us Opera fans after all, since we'd been disinclined to see another after Cosi fan tutte.

So for 2015, I resolve to post here more often, even if it's just reviews, and have a more consistent writing/publication schedule. You can always find me skulking about on my Tumblr account, where I reblog pretty people and places.

Here's to a productive and healthy 2015!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I may have taken another hiatus without announcing it...

So last year when I was all "Yay! End of hiatus!" after all the health hoopla of the rest of my family, it turned out that I needed to take another hiatus to sort out more of my own health issues.

But! I'm over a month out from abdominal surgery and things are looking good, so I'm hoping to get back into my writing groove. I just need to sit down with all my files and decide on my priorities...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Charity Sip Blitz is HERE!

2013 Charity Sip Blitz Complete Package
By: 26 Authors


Buy Link:

Get all 25 Sips for just $49.99, 15% off the regular price of $58.74
This package is available in PDF format only.

Welcome to the 2013-2014 Sip Blitz, which is all about all of those who proudly serve and protect all of us!

Who can resist a sexy uniform? From military to medical and police to paramedics; from soldiers of history to starships of the future; from simply sweet to scorching hot, these stories about those in uniformed service -- and those who love them -- will make you laugh and cry in all the best ways.

And since the authors have generously volunteered to donate their proceeds (an amount which Torquere Press will match) to the OutServe charity organization, you get to feel good about this collection before you've even cracked the cover!

**This is a very large zipped file. Please be patient while downloading.**

Start Something New
By: J. Rocci

24 pages / 6300 words

Buy Link:

Sergeant First Class Matt Ridley adopts a new puppy and joins his HOA Board thinking it will get him out of the house more; otherwise the alternative is his well-meaning brother signing him up for online dating sites. Through HOA business, Ridley meets Brett Isaacs, a civilian Army security guard at the base where he works, who also shares his destructive dog woes. A yard planning session with beer and pizza turns into a profession of mutual attraction and a very satisfying ending as they agree to embark on something new.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

RADIO LOVE SONG now available at GoodReads!

So imagine my surprise when Radio Love Song went live this morning :)

If you don't have a GoodReads account (or aren't a member of the M/M Romance Group), you can track the story's availability at the new M/M Romance Group website that was created in response to a change in GoodReads' file posting policies.

If you're new to the M/M Romance Love Is Always Write events, how it works is that a reader chooses a picture and writes a prompt for it, which an author then claims and writes the story. The awesome volunteers at the M/M Romance group edit and post the stories all on their own time (and dime) so everyone can read. Seriously, we're talking over a hundred free stories a year!

Go check it out!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

End of Unexpected Hiatus

SO I took an unexpected hiatus this last, oh say, YEAR. But I'm back now! Promise!

What started out as a bad knee injury for me turned into a new day job, a cat with an amputated leg, a husband with a broken knee, and various family members and friends with other health issues, including me. I'm hoping the rest of 2013 will cut us all a break :P

But I've started to get back into the writing groove lately, and I have two charity stories to announce:

Radio Love Song will be released this summer as part of the GoodReads M/M Romance group's 2013 Love Has No Boundaries event. Stay tuned for a release date!

Start Something New will be released later this year as part of the Torquere Press Charity Sip Blitz! Woot!

Every year, the great authors at Torquere Press put their money where their mouth is, donating their time writing stories for our chosen charity. Those same authors donate any royalties earned on their stories to the chosen organization, with Torquere matching those donations 100%. In the past we've raised $5000.00 for Lambda Legal, over $3000.00 for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and more than $10000.00 combined for organizations such as NOH8 and Doctors Without Borders.

For the 2013-2014 Charity event, which will premiere in September 2013, we've chosen OutServe-SLDN as our donation organization. OutServe is an non-profit that provides legal services and support to LGBT military individuals and families, working toward equal representation and benefits.

This year's theme for Charity Sips, or short stories, is "In Uniform". Who doesn't love a man, or woman, in uniform?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

FREE READ: Competition (Courting #5)

Competition, the fifth book in the Courting Series, is now available as a FREE READ from Smashwords here:

Originally published for the Torquere Press' Charity Sips Blitz, all of the author proceeds from the sale of "Competition" were donated to the It Gets Better Project. Now that a new year of Charity Sips is available, benefiting the NOH8 Campaign, I decided to make Competition freely available. My new Charity Sip, Dapper Gentlemen, is available for purchase here.

Thanks for reading!

Competition by J. Rocci

Officer Joshua Dabbs and his husband, lawyer Garrison Williams, met while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps ten years ago. Their lives are very different now than from when they first started dating: they're out of the Corps and the closet, they're married and own a house, and they're getting ready to adopt two kids through the state. Josh figures their life is pretty much perfect.

When their friends challenge them to run in the annual Marine Corps Marathon, they find themselves back in D.C. and visiting their old stomping grounds around Quantico. Garrison and Josh enter a friendly competition to see who finishes the marathon first.

Friday, October 5, 2012

FREE READ now available at Smashwords!

So I'm giving Smashwords a try here, starting with a free read:

Crocodylus Acutus by J. Rocci
Written for the GoodReads M/M Romance Group's Love Is Always Write event.

This is the first time I'm using Smashwords, so any feedback on the download process or the files would be welcomed and greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

REVIEW: Synetic Theater's Jekyll & Hyde

REVIEW: Synetic Theater's Jekyll & Hyde

Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili
Choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili
Set Design by Daniel Pinha
Original Music by Konstantine Lortkipanidze
Starring Alex Mills
Running September 20 — October 21, 2012 at Synetic Theater in Crystal City

So I don't think I've reviewed stage plays here yet, but I've been trying to articulate my conflicted feelings over Synetic's Jekyll & Hyde since I saw it this past Friday and I thought this would be a good forum to do so.

First of all, let me just say that Mr. Bay and I have loved and raved about the awesomeness of every Synetic play we've been to so far, except this one. He's deaf in one ear and having to triangulate sounds or hear softly spoken actors left him with a general dislike of going to the theater, so Synetic's combination of story and dance with no spoken words and only music managed to rekindle his enjoyment and is the perfect solution for us both. Full disclosure: We're subscription ticket holders.

Given that, I have to say that I was disappointed with this latest performance. It wasn't anything technical with the choreography or set design -- that was superb as always -- but rather the interpretation of the source material, Robert Louis Stevenson's novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

I could say that I disliked this interpretation because it's darker than previous Synetic plays we've seen and has sexualized violence -- but it's not that simple. I like dark plays and will tolerate sexualized violence if I feel like it has a purpose. But in this case, I feel like it didn't. Perhaps I was spoiled by Synetic's modernization of plays like King Lear (Cordelia as the gay son) and Taming of the Shrew (celebutantes in love), where they took Shakespeare's themes and reinterpreted them in such a way that the story content felt modern/timeless and relevant while staying true to the original story lines. They actually made me like Taming of the Shrew and I have very heartfelt feelings of dislike about that play.

So Jekyll & Hyde... Each Synetic performance pamphlet has a director's note explaining the artistic interpretation, usually with commentary on the themes they're exploring and then a one to two page summary of the story line and major plot points. The director's note for Jekyll & Hyde focused on technology, how we are the technology generation and not a product of it, how we lose ourselves in it and how we're defined by it. That was all well and good, I could see that theme in the original novella and imagined Jekyll to look much like the doctor in Young Frankenstein while shouting "For Science!"

What I feel like this interpretation lacked greatly was acknowledgement of the humanity of the novella, the heart of what makes us human amidst all the technology. But wait, you say, that's been done to death and this is revitalizing a tired script. I'll give you that. Pretty much all Jekyll & Hyde performances focus on the humanity of the characters -- because that's what the novella is about. Jekyll loses himself in the cold heart of science and technology, but in the end, realizes that in trying to perfect humanity, he has lost all of his.

So when I read the one page summary after the director's note, I was a little puzzled because I've come to expect great things from Synetic when it comes to gender and sexuality, and what I read was a very flat, one note description. The two lead female characters didn't even have names, while the male ones did, and were merely labelled as their archetypes -- The Fiancee and The Stripper. Mentally, I had already re-tagged them as The Madonna and The Whore. I thought it was a purposeful oversight meant to draw our attention to the role of women in Stevenson's original work, but there was no explanation provided for it. It seemed odd.

Then the play commenced and we see Jekyll's descent from a science-focused, naive young man into a Black Swan-reminiscent psychopath. Jekyll's best friend takes him to the redlight district to celebrate Jekyll's engagement to the nameless Fiancee. There, Jekyll's uncomfortable, he shakes off the advances of a male stripper, he hides his face from the women but peeks, then enjoys their attention. He's the epitome of repressed innocence. Then he and his friend save the Stripper from a mugger and he makes out with her at her prompting and has Impure Thoughts, capitalized because he can't deal. With any of it. He takes the Hyde serum he's been working on with his animatronics (an ensemble cast in leotards and gas masks that were like a physical representation of the Id more than a physical representation of technology), trying to rid himself of his Impure Thoughts that the Stripper evoked and it goes down hill from there.

Partying and sexual sadism (RAPE) ensue, until Jekyll can't control Hyde and murders a random male stripper, then hauls the Stripper off for a somewhat graphic rape scene behind a tinted glass door. Hyde isn't Jekyll, blaming other people for his problems -- he's Jekyll with no filters for his morals, even as he works within the boundaries of that morality. The Stripper is the second murder victim, with a second graphic rape/murder scene that reminded me quite a bit of The Royal Shakespeare Company's recent performance of Frankenstein (with Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch). I'm assuming we were meant to interpret the Stripper turning to Jekyll and his friend for protection again to mean that she didn't recognize Jekyll as Hyde from her first attack. Because really, he gives her guilt money in the mail and she seeks him out? Predictably, he's left alone with her and Hyde breaks free to give her a gruesome, graphic end.

At that point, I was feeling very discontent, because this interpretation was supposed to be all about our relationship with technology and the only moral I could pull from it was that we become callous, murderous, homophobic jackasses the deeper we go -- Anyone who's read the anonymous comments of an online news article could have told me that -- and also that women who are assaulted by a guy they've only encountered twice apparently imprint on them and go back for more. (Systemic abuse victims, maybe I could see it. Violent, sudden, stranger-based sexual assault victims? Not seeing it.)

There's a juxtaposition in my comment above that bothers me, too -- If there was anything I gathered from the fact that this play is all about the use of technology here, then it's that science and technology are inherently male, and that women have no place in it except as passive victims of its male producers.

See, Jekyll tries to pretend everything's normal after he hides the body of the Stripper, but Hyde takes over and tries to kill the Fiancee in her sleep (that's when it goes Black Swan with ballerina shoes and streaky black face paint) but Jekyll prevails. Then Hyde breaks free at their wedding, murdering everyone except the best friend and the Fiancee, then kills the best friend after a kiss (repressed homosexual desires? which, apparently, he'd rather murder people than face)

But! Jekyll kills himself before Hyde can use the serum on the Fiancee, and then she, after watching him go on a murder spree which included her father and all her friends, comes down to cradle him in her arms and the play ends. Because he can kill all those other people, but he can't stand to bring her, the epitome of purity, down to his depraved level. She remains The Madonna to the end, complete with spotlight as her love attempts to redeem him. She doesn't really fight back. She doesn't take her chance to run out the door and flee. She has no personality and is there as a witness, a foil to illustrate his downfall.

I think my disappointment boils down to this: After Taming of the Shrew, with its strong male and female leads who turn societal expectation on its head, I was constantly waiting for Jekyll & Hyde to give me something new, something innovative in its story line, and it never delivered. The story was one that I've seen done a hundred times and this interpretation brought nothing new to the table.

From a technical standpoint, the production was mindblowing -- hence my conflicted state. A bank of television screens of various sizes was incoporated in the production in an innovative manner, to give us a glimpse into Jekyll's mind, though at first it just seems to be a microscope until you realize it's representing his thoughts on what he's doing. Later, Jekyll or Hyde will go behind the bank of screens, only to appear on it (in a recording) and emerge from behind minutes later as the other. It was a very clever way to effect an on-stage transition without breaking the pace of the story or leaving bits of wardrobe lying about the stage. The ensemble dancers interacted with it, Alex Mills interacted with the recording of himself, and it was a way to show Jekyll having flashbacks of Hyde's actions without acting everything out (a reprieve when it came to the first rape).

Mr. Mills was really the shining piece of the whole production. He was able to switch characters in a split second, fighting himself physically on stage amid contortions that had us questioning whether he really had vertebrae or a Slinky in his back. He brought a physicality to Hyde that made him seem wanton but on the verge of great destruction at all times. His frenetic energy made the rest of the cast seem slow in comparison.

So there you have my feelings. They may seem overly negative, but perhaps I was more sensitive to the content than I realized going in and had different expectations.

We're definitely looking forward to Synetic's next play, A Trip To The Moon, by Natsu Onoda Power. A friend caught Ms. Power's interpretation of Astro Boy and thought it was amazing, so I have high hopes on this one.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Charity Sips and Gift Baskets!

So I crawled into the black pit of my day job and am only now seeing the light of day (and a day off) for the first time in about a month. So hello, world! (I totally miss that show. Am I the only one who remembers it on IMF?)

September is Torquere's Anniversary month. I donated some goodies to celebrate here:

September 15 prize is an awesome J. Rocci gift basket. Come enter your name to win this or many other prizes...

Also, this year's Charity Sips are now availble in a complete package or individually, including my short little offering of Dapper Gentlemen.

Soon, I shall rejoin the land of the living. For now, I have a weekend of home cleaning/repairs in line, as much as I can with a bum knee.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lessons in Humility

Soooo... I've been couch-ridden for almost a week and it's given me time to contemplate the meaning of the word "humility" as well as "humiliation." You see, I sprained my knee pretty damn bad by tripping on a cat scratching post one day, and then falling in the shower the next when the knee gave out.

Yes, you read that right. A cat scratching post.

Everyone I Know In The World: Wait, you're learning a variation of Muay Thai and it's a cat scratching post you sprain your MCL on? Really?

Me: Yes. >:(

ER Doctor: ... ooooo-kay. That's a new one.
Orthopedic Specialist: ... really?
Mother: ... like, what the cat scratches?
Friends: ... wait, the cat, or the cat's scratching post? Because cats can be evil, man, maybe they're trying to kill you. If they trip you, then you're down on their level and they can go for the jugular--

Me: *facepalm*

I've been told that I should come up with a cooler story, like I was doing a round-house kick to a 6'5" 300 lbs man's head and sprained my knee on his face, or I was back-flipping off a wall and landed wrong to avoid crushing a small child, etc. etc.

But, nope. I got nothing. Just me and a modern art wavy cat scratching post I bought from Target.

And now some crutches, and ibuprofen, and couch-surfing. Because in all seriousness, when I fell in the shower, Mr. Bay thought I was dead. First time I fell, the knee didn't hurt that bad, so I went about my business for the day. Second time (first fall in shower), I pulled a silent Nancy Kerrigan with gritted teeth on the bottom of the shower stall. Then I was an idiot and stood up on my good leg. My blood pressure dropped and I went back down like a wildebeest with a lion on its ass, complete with bloodless face, unblinking eyes, and no breathing for about ten seconds. Mum knows the technical term for it, but all Mr. Bay knew was PANIC, so I've been on my best behavior since trying not to give him an ulcer.

That also means I'm antsier than a two year old with a sugar high from the enforced inactivity, and surfing the web for marathons to run in the fall while I sigh heavily and glare at the confines of my living room. So if I can focus for more than five seconds on one thing, I might finish some of the stories on my to do list. Or, conversely, I might go back to pushing myself around the house in circles on our wheeled-ottoman making pirate noises and chasing the cats.

It's 50-50 at this point...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Crocodylus Acutus by J. Rocci

My free story on GoodReads is available now on the M/M Discussion Group here!

Craig is a crocodile shifter who loves nothing more than to sit in the river all day among his pure croc brethren. Over the past few days he's been watching this cute conservationist gather data about his dwindling habitat. But when the guy falls into the mud, the rest of the crocs think lunch but Craig thinks love.

genre: contemporary; fantasy
tags: college; scientist; shifters; shifters (non-wolf/cat); geeks/nerds; soul mates or bonded
content warnings: none
words: 5,698

Stay tuned in coming months for the PDF anthology download!