Monday, May 25, 2015

Talking about my Book

Since I posted the first chapter of the book I wrote, I have had several people ask me for more details about it.  And as you know, I do requests sometimes...

Ok, so I wrote a book.  I call it Men of the Skull and it's a memoir of my college years, covering 1985-89.  During that time I attended two universities: Drexel University (1984-6) and then I transferred to Penn State University (1986-89) from which I graduated.  The Skull in the title refers to Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, which I joined in 1985, and am still a member (a bit of a surprise, as I am now female...)

Phi Kappa Sigma "Skull House" Penn State  May 1987.

The book took seven years to research and write.  On standard paper (single sided, double spaced) it covers 761 pages in two parts.  The first part is my time at Drexel, covering pledging the fraternity and the reasons behind why I transferred.  That's the first third of the book.  The rest covers my time at Penn State, with an epilogue as well.  That's two thirds of the book (duh).  The two parts are written in slightly different styles.

Part 1 I wrote sequentially.  I wrote it to project a bit of a "claustrophobic" feel.  Part 2 was written in a scattershot way, jumping from place to place until I'd filled in all the blanks.  This gives it a more random spontaneous feel.  Sort of "making it up as I was going along," which is how I lived my life back then.

The picture on the left is from my PSU days

But I didn't make up anything in this book.  I've kept detailed journals since January 1984.  Those journals are the basis of the book.  I also have letters, etc to remind me.  Then there are parts I wrote down back when I was still at Penn State, wanting to preserve what happened, thinking it may make a good story some day.  I also did a LOT of research in newspapers, websites, conducting interviews, etc.  I wanted every detail to be correct; So if I say something happened on a given day, that's what and when it happened.  Except for names- I changed 90% of those.  I had permission to keep the two I kept.  Each chapter begins with a newspaper headline- almost always from the Philadelphia Inquirer of that cited day.

I finished the book on Wednesday, November 26, 2008.  I then printed out a full copy, photocopied ten more, and gave them to a few people to look over and make suggestions.  I received four of them back.  Reviews were mostly positive.  A couple of people never finished reading it, making some excuse or the other, but I guess they just didn't like it.  I currently have no complete printed copies of that book.  It is, however, on two different thumb drives and saved onto a CD.

I shopped around for agents and publishers and received a few bites, but in the end, it remains unpublished.

So.  Why slave away seven years just to not publish it?  Why not self publish?  I'll get to that second question.  To answer the first, I was in deep pain.  I was drinking very hard, and the only time in my life when it seemed I WASN'T in pain was at Penn State.  So I figured my answers lay there.  (Remember, this is while my Gender dysphoria was buried deep and festering inside me.)  So I wrote the book, hoping that somewhere, somehow, I would trigger whatever it was that was haunting me so I could deal with it.  And I also wanted to write a book.  On October 31, 2008, I went out dressed as a woman for Halloween.  And my dysphoria came flooding back.  I had found the source of all that Pain, anger, and insanity.

So in many ways, the book became superfluous.

I haven't self published because the book needs a good strong edit, and I'm too busy or too lazy to do it.  And I really wonder if all those agents and editors were right in thinking it wouldn't sell.  Maybe I'll self publish someday.  What do you think?

My writing style has changed a lot over the years.  The discipline of writing the book helped a lot, but more so the amount of writing I do for this blog.  So when I read the book, it's seeing me from long ago in many ways.

In any case, I've posted the first chapter a few times in various places.  What follows is the first chapter of Part 2:  the Penn State part.  I've never posted this anywhere before now.  Note: there are some naughty words and situations in the is piece, so if you don't like that sort of thing, don't read it.

So, those of you who asked now have the whole story.


Chapter 2.1:  Hat Party
Friday, August 29, 1986     Bolivia calls state of siege to halt strife.”

That night, State College burned.  The hot summer sun was gone, but the parties were on: parties beyond counting, fun without limit.  The whole campus- the whole town- the whole valley sizzled with possibility that tonight, maybe, it would all come together: that sparks would fly and that we would make explosions and flames of our own that would burn on forever.  Or at least until dawn.
            Her breasts stared at me through her lilac colored oxford.  Moderately sized (but bigger than any that I’d ever seen naked), big nipples-and the AC was up too high.  She wore a scarlet wide brimmed hat that looked like something from the 1940s.  Tight jeans. 
            “Oh let me be--- your sledge-hammer.  This will be my testimony.”
The music was loud, but not too loud.  Keg in the kitchen, beer in clear plastic cups.  And everyone wearing stupid hats.  The hostess was a girl who lived at the end of the hall- it was a Hat Party, and everyone was invited.  Price of admission?  Wear a hat: the goofier the better.  You wanna kick in a few bucks for the keg; that’s cool too.

Her face was broad- eastern European.  Freckles.  Biggish nose, permed curly brown hair and happy smallish eyes.  With nipples like hers, it was hard to keep eye contact.  The hat set off everything nicely.  She smiled and we talked about Drexel and Penn State and nothing in particular that mattered.  Eye contact, Lance.  I smiled and sipped my beer.  Her name was Sara.

My first Friday night at Penn State.  My first real apartment party.  And Sara was smiling at me.  She seemed interested in what I had to say.  I was scared shitless.  Don’t fuck up, Lance.  Eye contact.

Our hostess, Katie, lived at the end of our hall: third floor Beaver Hill Apartments.  My roommates and I met her the day we moved in.  We helped her carry stuff up from her dad’s truck.  She bought us pizza and beer and we sat among the boxes in her place.  She lived alone.

I wore my black and yellow painters cap- backwards.  Dark blue button down.  Tan shorts.  Sara was a senior, 21, from Pittsburgh.  She lived in Atherton Hall: the honors dorm bordering College Avenue a block away from the apartments.  She smiled modestly and looked toward her feet coquettishly as I offered to refill her beer.

Brought it back, and we slipped over to the corner next to the mirrored wall.  All the apartments in this building had a mirrored wall- made the rooms look bigger.  Ooh.  Ahh.

The windows were open, and Delta Upsilon right next door was partying as well.  The sound of the crowd there mixed with ours, the music, and Sara’s husky voice.

I so wanted to suck on those tits.  Feel them.  Nibble.

“He do the walk… he do the walk of life!”  Dire Straits sang from the speakers across the room.
“So, why Penn State?  A guy like you could’ve gone to lots of schools,” Sara asked.

I had a hard on that must’ve been sooooo obvious.

“Well, Penn State has the best looking women- like you!”  I smiled.  You fucking dork!  Jesus Christ! No wonder you can’t get laid to save your own life!

She smiled, laughed politely, and raised her cup.

“Well, here’s to Penn State!” she said.

We touched glasses and drank; my eyes never leaving hers.  Brown eyes.  She had brown eyes.  Chestnut.  A beer or two later, and she had to go.

“I have other parties I promised to attend” she said with a smile.

“It’s been nice talking to you!”  I said.  Ugh!  Dork!  Ask her for her phone number, you idiot!

“You too!”  She bent over and put her cup down on the table.  I had a great view down her shirt at those beautiful breasts in a white bra.  Wow!  Did she mean to do that?

“Um, can I have your number so we can, y’know, get together some time?”  DORK!

Sara smiled.  “Sure!”  She found a pen and a napkin.

Not a bad end for my first week of classes.  So far, Penn State was almost all I could ask for.  I moved in the Saturday before: Beaver Hill Apartments, room 324. 

The apartment was small, but furnished.  The carpet was tan and the walls white, except for one wall which was covered by paneled mirrors.  The living room had a brown sofa, loveseat and a square glass topped table as well as two end tables with brass lamps.  The kitchen had a very small table and had a linoleum floor.  There was a large opening to the living room making a little “breakfast nook” as the ad called it.  The bedroom had two closets and three beds.  I was the first one to move in, so I claimed the single bed.  The other two guys would get the bunk bed.  The windows in the bedroom and living room faced the back parking lot and neighboring Cedarbrook Apartments, so the view wasn’t exactly sensational.  Lots of apartments had balconies, but not this one.  Off to the left of the parking lot was a large fraternity house: Delta Upsilon.  (DU). 

Marc moved in a few hours later.  We left our door open to “invite” the neighbors, like we used to do in the dorm at Drexel.  Put a life sized stand up of Freddy Kruger in the door (got it from Julianne’s dad).  A couple of people gasped.  Then one girl screamed.  We scared the shit out of her.

She was really cute!  Tall, short blonde hair, nice breasts, perfect hips- just really cute.  We had a good laugh with her and invited her in for a beer.  She accepted- but after she unloaded the truck.  So we helped, and she bought the pizza and beer.

We met a lot of other girls on the floor as well that day and the days following.  It was gonna be a great year.


  1. As a current Penn State student, I am extremely into the college and atmosphere. Where can I find this whole book? This Chapter 2.1 is amazing. Hope to hear from you soon

    1. Hi Current Penn State Student! The whole book has never been published. You can reach me at if you'd like to read more of it.

      Maybe someday I'll publish it. Or post more chapters.