Friday, May 13, 2011

Welcome Sexy Guest Blogger Johnny Miles

My guest today is author Johnny Miles. Everybody, a round of applause, please! While Johnny and I relax over a soothing massage, he's going to talk to you about the power of words, and how words can do more damage than you realize.

Doesn't Johnny look relaxed?

And look, our little friends are having a massage too!

Having written and published two m/m romance novels through Loose Id, I find myself in a strange mental space writing about something I wrote nearly 18 years ago; especially since it’s not even close to a romance story.
         “My ABCs” was originally intended to be a journal. It was meant only for me and written as a way to exorcise my demons. I was going through therapy at the time, and a verbally abusive relationship. Journaling was a healthy way to let my feelings out.
         I wrote in an old-style, black and white composition notebook and it was filled with every disgusting word, derogatory remark and ethnic slur I’d ever been called as a child, teenager and an adult. I even included comments that weren’t directed at me because hearing those horrible words was like being cut from the inside. It hurt that out of all the wonderful things anyone could choose to say, they would pick the most vile and hurtful.
         I’ve never understood that about us as humans.
         While in college, we learned about an indigenous tribe in South America. I can’t remember for sure but I think they were the Mundurucu. They’d yell at a tree, before cutting it down, in order to kill its spirit.
         Fast forward to a Sunday night in the spring of 1993.
         I was at a friend’s house having dinner with her family. We had a lovely time catching up and sharing a few laughs. Just before I left to go home, her son did what many of us have done in the past. He told her, just before his bedtime, he had to write a report for school and it was due first thing the following morning.
         “How can you be this stupid?” She cried.
         I’ll confess I understood her frustration but surely it wasn’t so bad she needed to call him stupid? Then I made the mistake of suggesting perhaps she was overreacting.
         “What the hell would you know? You’re gay! When you have children, then you can come tell me how to handle mine! Until then, stay out of it! This isn’t your business!”
         I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Clearly not my proudest moment, but I could no longer stay. Aside from being insulted, I was hurt and now had my own issues to deal with. This was self-preservation at its finest. Flee!
         And all because of six words. Well, one really. Stupid.
         If I hadn’t been with my then partner, in a verbally abusive relationship, I might not have been so sensitive to begin with. My emotions were running high and I was raw.
         Which leads me back to “My ABCs” and how it came about. Journaling about my experience with physical and verbal abuse made me realize the true and unseen power of words. I can only equate it with the Unforgivable Curse from the Harry Potter books, written by J.K. Rowling. Avada Kedavra. It kills from the inside, leaving behind a body that’s perfectly normal and otherwise healthy. Except you’re dead.
         Because “My ABCs” was so cathartic for me I thought it would be for others as well. As I started working on it, fleshing it out with my own personal experiences, the story grew and became something more than me. It was like channeling something otherworldly and it stopped being personal. The story became a fictionalized account of a boy who endured physical, verbal and even sexual abuse.
         But the book is about more than that.
         It’s about finding hope and overcoming obstacles. It’s about choosing not to be a victim. It’s about the beauty and strength that lies within; the human spirit.
         Ultimately, it’s about choosing what not to say to a child, to ourselves, to our loved ones, because words can inflict pain and cause emotional scarring that hides where we never see it.
         Words can lead to violence and emotional bullying. They can incite riots and push the unstable into horrific acts. Words can even pit large groups of people against another, just because they’re different.
         I’ll admit that “My ABCs” takes you on a dark journey and anyone with a history of abuse probably shouldn’t read it; unless they’re already in therapy.  However, I feel very strongly about its message. I think it’s important for people to read this book because I really want, with all my heart, for our emotional baggage to disappear and the only way I can think of to eliminate the damage caused by verbal abuse is to make others aware of it, confront it, eradicate it.
         Sticks and stones may break our bones but words can truly harm us.
         “My ABCs” is currently available as e-book and trade paperback. To find out more about the e-book, please click: For the trade paperback, please click:

Excerpt: My ABC's

I have good days and bad days.     
On good days, I don’t think too much. I may not feel like my favorite superhero, ready to take on the world or conquer my fears. But at least I don’t feel like a scared little boy.
On bad days, I curl up into a ball and hug my pillow tight. It’s all I can do to keep from disappearing. Sometimes I pray for things to end. The demons, the pain, my life. It doesn’t matter. Just so long as I can feel happy again. I haven’t been happy in a long time. I remember when I used to know what being truly happy meant. Now it’s just a word. A memory I used to feel a long time ago as a child.
Today’s a bad day.
Sometimes, when I’m right on the edge, I sing a silly little song I learned from Miss Bailey. She was my first grade teacher. It makes me feel like a little kid again, and in my mind, I’m there. A little kid again. And I’m back in school, like it happened yesterday and my hand is tight inside Ms. Bailey’s warm, soft, loving hand.
I was scared of her the first day of school. At first. But then she taught us that song and she was like a Mommy to me. She loved all of us the same. Still, I felt she loved me best. She always took time for me. To find out how I was. How I felt.
And she never, ever yelled at me.
The song Miss Bailey taught us was “My ABCs.” She said that if we practiced over and over, we would learn the alphabet just as good as her! That way, when we grow up, we can talk and spell properly and become successful at every little thing we do.
Whatever that means.
Miss Bailey taught us that when we heard a word we didn’t understand, we should write it down. Every week we had to bring in a list of words we didn’t know. The more we wrote down, the better. If we didn’t know what the word meant, we had to look it up in the dictionary. Or ask her. It was hard to do at first because I didn’t know many words.
But I learned a lot.
Some of the words I learned at school. Some of them on the street. And a whole lot more I learned at home. From my Daddy.
Do you want to hear my ABCs? It’ll help make me feel better.
 * * * *
A is for APPLE. A big, shiny, red APPLE. I gave one to Miss Bailey once and she gave me a big hug and a kiss. She put the APPLE on the corner of her desk, on top of some books, where everyone could see it. I felt so proud!
Anthony gave her an APPLE the next day, but it was a little brown on one side and not as shiny or pretty as mine. Miss Bailey didn’t care. She gave him a hug and a kiss all the same. He walked by my desk and stuck his tongue out at me. But it didn’t get me mad. I had a smile inside ’cause I knew I was the first one to give the teacher an APPLE.
A is for APARTMENT. We live in an APARTMENT! It’s on the first floor of a very big building. Sometimes, when it’s late at night and I can’t sleep, I sit on the window sill and look out at the people and cars. There’s an AWFUL lot of people outside late when most everybody is ASLEEP.
A is also for ASS.
I couldn’t sit still one day at school and Miss Bailey asked me what was wrong. I told her my ASS hurt. The other boys and girls all laughed. Miss Bailey asked me where I heard that word. I told her my Daddy always says it to me when he comes home from work and I’m playing. He says I make too much goddamn noise and that if I don’t stop it he’s gonna beat my ASS.
Miss Bailey looked at me kinda funny and said that an ASS was a donkey. I laughed when I thought of Daddy beating on a donkey.
I didn’t say anything after that, but I think Miss Bailey was wrong. I know my ASS is what I sit on ’cause sometimes Daddy beats my ASS even if I don’t make any noise. Then I can’t sit down for a while without hurting.
Once, he beat my ASS so hard I was bleeding. Not a lot, but enough to make me feel AFRAID.
Sometimes, I’m AFRAID of my Daddy. AFRAID begins with A, doesn’t it? And I’m pretty sure an ASS is what I sit on.
A is for ADAM. He was a nice man who lived in my building, down the hall. ADAM always smiled at me and gave me candy. Everybody said to leave him ALONE, not to go near him and not take anything he gave me ’cause I was gonna get whatever he had that made him sick. They all said he was like the boogie man and that he was gonna pull me in to his apartment one day, tie me up and chop me up into little pieces and eat me.
I don’t know why he was sick, but the neighbors sure scared me and I never took his candy again.
I walked away from him one day and left him standing there with the Jolly Ranchers in his hand. They were my favorite, too! Grape, Apple and Watermelon. I can still see him smiling. His face was smiling but his eyes weren’t. His eyes just looked real sad.
One day, ADAM disappeared. Some men came and took him away in a big, white, noisy AMBULANCE. He had a sheet over his head. The neighbors all said he died from something they called AIDS. I didn’t know what AIDS was, but I wondered if I could get it from taking his candy or touching his hand. I hope not, ’cause he was always nice to me and it wouldn’t be fair to get something so terrible that it kills you, just because somebody wanted to be nice to you.
Sometimes, I still feel bad that I didn’t take his candy that last time. It always seemed to make him so happy to give me candy.
AIDS. It’s a little word. But it’s big. It’s little ’cause it’s only four letters. But I know it’s big ’cause nobody wants to talk to me about it. I don’t know what it means and maybe I’ll never know! Maybe I just won’t think about it. That way, I’ll never get it. Right?

 Johnny, thank you very much for stopping by!  What a relaxing massage!  We'll have to do this again!

Please feel free to leave comments and or questions for Johnny! He'd love to hear from you!