Interview & Review Chat | Turn Me Out by T. Ariez

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turnmeoutPublisher/Date: Amazon Digital Services, June 2013
Genre(s): Romance, Stud 4 Stud
E-Book Short

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

interviewreviewchatlogoAfter reading T. Ariez’s TURN ME OUT, I had thoughts — and questions — about the characters and Ariez’s motivation for writing this book. This resulted in an interview/review chat, and the transcript follows below:

Sistahs on the Shelf: Hello 🙂

Author T. Ariez: Hello!

Sistahs on the Shelf: How are you??

Author T. Ariez: I’m great and yourself?

Sistahs on the Shelf: I’m lovely.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Thank you for agreeing to this interview/chat.

Author T. Ariez: oh no problem at all, thank you for thinking of me.

Sistahs on the Shelf: You’re welcome. I did enjoy your book.

Author T. Ariez: Cool. May I ask where/how you found the book at?

Sistahs on the Shelf: I was searching Amazon.com for black lesbian books (as I often do) and came across it there. I purchased it that morning.

Author T. Ariez: Oh okay. That’s cool. I know I haven’t done as much advertising as I should, so I was really surprised when I saw that you were reading it.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Well, I troll for new books, so… 🙂

Sistahs on the Shelf: Okay, I have a few questions for you…

Author T. Ariez: Okay, shoot

Sistahs on the Shelf: Give readers a small background about you as an author.

Author T. Ariez: Well, I like to think of myself as someone who is not afraid to talk about the hard issues. I pick things that can be considered taboo or away from the mainstream because I know the real world, at least my real world, doesn’t work that way. Also I have been writing all my life, but it only been in the last 5 years, that I began to write for an audience.

Sistahs on the Shelf: What other books have you written or been featured in?

Author T. Ariez: Zane’s Busy Bodies: Chocolate Flava 4 and Stories in the Key of Erotica, which will release November 25th.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Sounds like you’ve been very busy. What does writing mean to you?

Author T. Ariez: Yes, I stay busy. Writing is like breathing for me. Even when I am not physically writing (or typing) I am always in my head thinking up another story. I have one project that I hope to have published by the end of this year and another that I am currently working on as we speak.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Is it a sequel to Turn Me Out, perhaps?

Author T. Ariez: Hmm, well… There is not a sequel, but I do bring the characters back in another book. It was important for me to let readers know what Ace and Angel are up to.

Sistahs on the Shelf: I definitely agree. I feel like Angel and Ace’s story has not ended yet.

Author T. Ariez: No it hasn’t. These characters mean a lot to me because they live a life a lot of people cannot live in peace. They have a conflict within themselves that many of us will probably never explore solely because of the “rules” in this game.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Very true. I really felt the conflict Angel felt in not fitting into the femme/stud box. But tell readers more about Turn Me Out. What’s it about?

Author T. Ariez: Turn Me Out is about a lesbian stud or a masculine of center female, Angel, who is starting to realize that she has developed feelings for her best friend, Ace. Ace is also a stud and for the two of them, their relationship has always been strictly platonic. When Angel realizes that her feelings are more than she should have for a best friend, she decides to risk losing it all and go for what she really wants, regardless of what anyone else might think about it.

Sistahs on the Shelf: And she does go for it. 🙂

Author T. Ariez: She definitely goes for it.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Lol.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Yet she does have reservations: about being in a relationship with her best friend, but mostly, being with another stud.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Stud-4-stud relationships are becoming more common, but we still have a way to go to acceptance of any relationship that doesn’t look like the mold not stud/femme model.

Author T. Ariez: She does. I don’t know if it is as bad now, times have changed, but 1, it could have been a really dangerous situation for her, and 2, being with another stud, for Angel meant doing things in bed that she wasn’t used to.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Did you think about this while writing TMO?

Author T. Ariez: Yes, I did. Writing TMO was honestly, a hard, but very exciting write. It was difficult writing from a first-person POV and having to put myself in the role as Angel. Initially I thought about what others would think of me, if they would think that I was also S4S. But by the time I finished I realized that it didn’t matter what others thought of me. The only thing that mattered is that maybe I could help someone who might be having these conflicting stories. When I first wrote it, I sent it out in an email to about 10-15 people. Most told me how good it was, but one said the story made her cry because she had struggled with being a stud and feeling more like she was fem.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Wow.

Sistahs on the Shelf: One of the things that I thought while reading was how true this story was, and how many “studs” struggle with their roles like Angel did.

Author T. Ariez: Yes. There are these unspoken rules that I have only noticed in the African-American lesbian community. It is really sad that we constrict ourselves to what I know now is hetero-normative roles, and we are, simply said, NOT heterosexual people. So why follow their gender and relationship roles?

Sistahs on the Shelf: Very true. It’s still hard for some black folks to see, and our own black lesbian community can be judgmental at times.

Author T. Ariez: Yes, we are extremely judgmental and that needs to change. We need to learn to be more open and accepting so that we can be a more happy people.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Shoot, we could be happy if we just minded our own business and lived by the expression “to each his own.” Or in Angel’s case, her own.

Author T. Ariez: Right! You will get no arguments from me on that one. Lol

tariezSistahs on the Shelf: So here’s the million dollar question: How much of yourself did you put into character Angel?

Author T. Ariez: Lol, that a good one. A sprinkle here and there. Even if I try to mold a character completely after me, they end up taking over and telling me who they are. So, probably just the stud part LMAO

Sistahs on the Shelf: You mean the stud-on-stud part??

Author T. Ariez: No, I mean the stud part lol. I am not stud-for-stud, and in a great relationship of 8 years tomorrow. She couldn’t be stud if she tried lol

Sistahs on the Shelf: LMAO…well, that answers my next question! j/k

Author T. Ariez: haha, really, I think my personality alone may be way too dominant for another stud, even that of a soft stud.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Speaking of personalities, what are your perceptions of what a stud really is?

Author T. Ariez: Well that depends because you have a whole range of studs, from soft to the very hardcore and touch-me-nots. I think that what I have learned over the years is that there really is no one perception or description really. Now when I think of another stud, then I usually expect them to be masculine of center and more “masculine” personalities and dress. But again, that isn’t the hard and fast rule anymore so there is a wide variety.

Sistahs on the Shelf: There are so many variations of both studs and femmes, and everyone has different definitions. I just wish people would accept that.

Author T. Ariez: I agree.

Sistahs on the Shelf: Okay, final question. What do you think a story like Turn Me Out does for lesbian visibility?

Author T. Ariez: Well I hope that it would bring much more visibility to the community and at least on a positive note. It certainly sheds a light on stud-for-stud relationships that that is something to me that can be akin to down-low brothas. We know about them, but we don’t talk about them much. I want people to start having that conversation and at the end of it, realize and understand that one person’s choice does not make or break you. Just let people live and let them be happy!

Sistahs on the Shelf: AMEN!

Sistahs on the Shelf: Well, thank you so much for this interview/review/chat.

Author T. Ariez: Well you are welcome and thank you. It was really a pleasure.

Sistahs on the Shelf: For me, as well.

Sistahs on the Shelf: And early Happy Anniversary! 🙂

Author T. Ariez: aww thank you.

Sistahs on the Shelf: –End chat–

Reviewed/Interviewed July 2013

About T. Ariez

T. Ariez is a Texas native currently living in Dallas. He has been writing since the second grade but only started exploring writing for an audience a few years after graduating high school. He enjoys reading in his spare time, playing board games with his family and watching football.


I am Your Sister: Season 2 by Ericka K. F. Simpson

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iamyoursister2-2Publisher/Date:  EKS Books, Apr. 2013
Genre(s):  Romance, Religious, Family, Stud’s Point of View
Pages:  287
Website:  http://www.ekfsimpson.com

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Forgiveness. An 11-letter word whose concept is hard to give and even harder to do.

It is also Symone Holmes’ Achilles heel, and the emotional theme flowing through Ericka K. F. Simpson’s I AM YOUR SISTER: SEASON 2. The college basketball star is all grown up in the sequel to the previous I am Your Sister, but she learns life gets harder out of school and off the court.

At the novel’s start, Symone has a female b-baller’s dream: she’s the top draft pick for the WNBA,  about to graduate college, and considering forever with the love of her life, Regina. Nothing could make the point guard happier. Then she gets a phone call that her mother has had a stroke – and it brings her unhappy history with her mother front and center.

The relationship between Symone and her mother Paula became rocky the summer before her sophomore year in high school when it was “discovered” that Symone liked girls. Through flashbacks, a flood of painful memories continue to haunt Symone, reliving her mother practically disowning her. Paula refused to acknowledge her daughter’s lesbianism, and their bond disintegrated to zero contact. Moving on with her life, it took being away at school for Symone to put the past behind her but she never forgave her mother or herself.

This guilt takes its toll on her relationship with Regina in ways Symone didn’t realize. It’s the answer to why she is never able to fully open up. Why she feels she couldn’t bring Regina home to her family. Why never she allows Regina to share in her past hurts. Really, Symone could blame her generational curse for her inability to share her emotions, passed on from the male elders in her family, but she knows she can’t rely on excuses when both her mom and her future wife need her. It’s time to truly play ball, and this time, she needs this victory to heal her heart.

I’ve mentioned before that I am Your Sister is one of my favorite books, mainly because Symone is such a complex character. Simpson puts her everything into Symone, and after reading her memoir, Living With 3 Strikes (which you should definitely pick up), I understand how Simpson is inspired by her own experiences in IAYS2. This gives Symone the touch of realism that I’ve come to expect from this writer.

Symone is deeply-drawn, far from perfect, and trying on her adulthood with the help of God. She doesn’t pretend to be something she’s not and doesn’t apologize for whom she is. There’s also a down-home appeal to this Virginia-reared stud, one I found refreshing.

I am Your Sister 2 does have its minor flaws –  the ending left me flabbergasted – but between the laughter and the “wows” I had while reading convinced me that I will always have a soft spot for Symone Holmes.

Now I’m ready for another season.

Reviewed May 2013


Stud by Sa’id Salaam

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studPublisher/Date: G Street Chronicles, Aug. 2012
Genre(s):  Bisexual, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 142
Website: http://www.gstreetchronicles.com

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

What we know as a masculine lesbian takes on an entirely different definition in STUD, the book from street lit author Sa’id Salaam.

Stud apparently has many descriptions, but Salaam portrays protagonist Andrea “Dre” Coleman as a drug-dealing, gun-toting young woman with an identity crisis.

It wasn’t always this way, though.

Tomboy Dre never wanted to wear pink or ribbons. Dressing like a boy for protection, she emulates her hustling older brother, Bernard, and prefers beating up the boys and playing lookout for big bro. Bernard is her hero, and when her brother is killed, it’s up to Dre to take over the game in Bernard’s honor.

Easier said than done. Dre finds it hard to gain respect when you’re a girl filling in bigger shoes.

Luckily, Dre’s best friend Ramel, is her partner-in-crime. The two make a great pair, and when things get rough, or somebody needs to become a nobody, Ramel is in the trenches with her. Doing the kind of work they do, it bonds them without many words being said.

This attraction between Dre and Ramel is what throws the reader completely off when reading Stud. You’ve been introduced to Dre the stud and her romps with women, but you end up knowing Dre the bisexual. And if that’s what she wants to be, that’s fine. But the book’s title seems misleading. Was the author trying sending a message or creating a confusing character for entertainment value?

As entertaining as it may be, it’s also a head-scratcher. What Stud has in its corner is that the writing is decent, and some may like this urban tale. But what Salaam is writing about brings about the issue of what defines a stud. Do clothes or attitude make a stud, or is it a combination? Who’s to say what a stud is?

Sadly, you won’t find out by reading Stud.

Reviewed February 2013


Suite 69: Black Lesbian Erotica Volume III by Billie Simone

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suite69volume3Publisher/Date:  Billie Simone, Feb. 2012
Genre:  Poetry
Website:  http://billiesimone.wordpress.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Instead of the sexual come-ons found in the previous installment, SUITE 69: BLACK LESBIAN EROTICA VOLUME III is more expressive about heartbreak and love lost this time around.

Billie Simone’s heart and mind are heavier, and her poems recount a darker time when love beat her down and could have left her for dead. Lucky for her (and for us), Simone channels her anguish into something we could absorb.

Anyone can empathize with losing a love. When Simone’s at her most vulnerable, is when you can really relate:

Cause you…
Got inside me…
Deeply in my insides’ insides
And you are still there
Lingering in every nook and cranny
And every crevice and
Crack…
Ain’t no woman…Ain’t nobody…
Every penetrated me like that…

Yet while nursing her wounds, Simone’s poems tell of learning the importance of loving oneself. It helps her through it all, and permits her heart to open again.

iLove that you
Ain’t scared of my
Scars
Love that you love
Me just as hard
Love that you
Love me with no regard

Simone, with Suite 69: Black Lesbian Erotica Volume III, plunges us into the mind of a stud who loses her swagger a bit, yet sees her rise again. However, it’s worth the aches chronicled in her poems to glance her smile gracing the book’s cover.

Reviewed June 2012


Suite 69: Black Lesbian Erotica Volume II by Billie Simone

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suite69iiPublisher/Date:  AppleTree Publishing, Oct. 2007
Genre:  Poetry
Pages:  61
Website:  http://billiesimone.wordpress.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Laden with swagger and bravado, SUITE 69: BLACK LESBIAN EROTICA VOLUME II by Billie Simone wastes no time in telling you what she wants.

That is a turn-on, as are her poems that reveal emotions from a masculine lesbian standpoint. In Simone’s own words, “They come from my mind, my heart, my pussy, and my soul.”

Some of the poems deal with heartbreak, as evidenced with “suite memories,” where a player laments a lost love, while “u say” sees her confronting a trifling lover. And “after da love has gone” echoes the sounds of missing the one you love.

Femmes, if you want a stud talking sweet in your ear, read poems like “mama, may i”, and “I wanna f**k you so bad.” Just try to resist the words of “talk 2 me”, if you dare:

I want your
mouth
to say the
words I need to hear
say them
and mean them…
say them
with your eyes
open wide
staring deeply
into mine

A writer as well as a skilled photographer, Simone is smooth as silk with the come-ons in Suite 69. The poems come from a brash but heartfelt place, feeling as if you’ve entered a stud’s mind.

Reviewed January 2012


A Different Kinda Luv by Tanaine Ja’Cole Jenkins (June 2006 Pick of the Month)

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adifferentkindaluvpotmlogo

 

 

 

 

Publisher/Date:  iUniverse, Dec. 2005
Genre:  Romance
Pages:  213
Website:  http://www.adifferentkindaluv.com

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

It might seem like it’s all about the bling in Tanaine Jenkins’ debut novel, A DIFFERENT KINDA LUV, but once you get into the adventurous romance story, it goes so much deeper. Absorbing until the last page, Jenkins knows to capture your attention.

Best friends Nickaya “Nick” Rivera and Jordan “Jae” Taylor have been through it all. Growing up together since kids, the pair has nurtured each other through rough childhoods, survived their college years, and matured into successful entrepreneurs. The friends own Flavors, a popular gay nightclub they bought in the college-town of Tallahassee. However the ladies couldn’t be more different.

Jae is the more level-headed of the duo, the one who works to the bone in both business and love. She works hard to keep Flavors the best in the city. And when in love, she falls hard, giving much of herself to the relationship. That led her to stay in a miserable relationship for so long with A’lanna. But she finds comfort in Tamiera, someone who is the total opposite of controlling A’lanna. Tamiera is down-to-earth, loving and thoughtful. The two make a great couple, but Jae doesn’t want to move too fast. She soon realizes, though, when you find a different kinda luv, you hold on to it.

Nick, on the other hand, ain’t studying love and is all about the you-know-what. Women are simply playmates, and she’s the one holding the cards. That is, until she meets Suenos, Tamiera’s friend. Nick allows her in her heart just a little, spending more time with her than with any woman Jae’s seen her with. Nick knows Suenos is a special lady, but she’s not sure she wants to turn in her playa card just yet. She’s not quite convinced if this is a different kinda luv.

Jenkins’ book delves into a lot of action that will keep you flipping the pages. It’s a read in one night kind of book because you won’t want to put it down. The fast cars, the crazy parties and the beautiful women will capture both studs and femmes alike. A little slow at first, it picks up and keeps you on the edge of your seat till the end; the ending will leave with watery eyes. Jenkins, grammatical errors aside, is a good storyteller—and that counts for a lot.

Cause everybody’s looking for a different kinda luv. And in Jenkins’ book, it’s certainly possible.

Reviewed June 2006