Friday, November 8, 2019

LOST AND FOUND Re-Releases with a NEW Cover and NEW Low Price!

LOST AND FOUND, my story of how a lost beagle brings two men together in Seattle is out in a brand new edition this week (and at a much lower price). Hope you'll pick up a copy at Amazon or JMS Books (even lower price!). BLURB
On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park. On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle. Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem -- who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be -- but that's just what Flynn experienced. A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it ... and along the way, they just might fall in love.

EXCERPT
Kneeling on the hardwood floor in the front hallway, Mac Bowersox pulled the harness from Hamburger. “Good boy,” he said, stroking the dog. He then bent a little to give the dog a good, strong hug. The dog wriggled to be free. He’d never liked being hugged. But Mac needed to hug him. He padded after Hamburger as he walked toward the kitchen. Mac stood in the entryway and watched as the dog paused at his two stainless steel bowls and rapidly lapped up almost the entire bowl of water. Mac supposed the poor pooch was tired and parched after the way he’d made him run from the park. But Mac couldn’t take a chance. If that Flynn guy had come after them, Mac didn’t know if he’d have had the courage to continue insisting that Hamburger wasn’t Barley. Because he was. He was Barley. Of course, Mac didn’t know that until just a short time ago. But something weird happened the moment Barley spied the gorgeous man in the gray nylon running shorts and form-fitting lime-green tank top. Mac chuckled grimly. The dog had spotted the succulent morsel of masculinity almost before he did. And Mac could plainly read Hamburger’s reaction -- joy and recognition in one big tail-wagging bundle. At first, Mac didn’t understand the dog’s reaction. He didn’t see Hamburger’s interest as recognition. How could he? He simply thought old Hamburger might have the same eye for the fellas as his master did. Takes one horndog to know another! And Flynn was hotness personified -- with his lean runner’s build and those amazing blue eyes that contrasted so gorgeously with his black hair and those damn long lashes. He was like a god -- someone lifted from the pages of GQ or a fitness magazine. And Mac simply thought Hamburger was reacting in much the same way Mac had to the sight of him. After all, the dog could very well have learned how to ogle a good-looking man from his master, who was, he thought, the absolute champion of ogling. Mac could ogle a hottie like nobody’s business. He could have taught a master class. It should have been a moment of lusty happiness. But it wasn’t. Because now, as Mac looked back on the encounter in retrospect, he did so with deep shame. He felt like punching himself in the face -- repeatedly -- as he watched Hamburger lap up his water. A voice startled him out of his reverie. His deep well of guilt must have been obvious. “What’s the matter, Mac? You look like you just lost your best friend.” Mac looked up to see the wizened and withered face of his landlady, Dee -- short-for-Delores -- Weeda, staring at him with concern in her brown eyes. Mac had occupied her attic bedroom and en suite bath for more than two years now. Mac swallowed. “I almost did. At the park.”

Thursday, October 31, 2019

My Halloween is Filled with HOPE


It's Halloween and I have a new short called HOPE out in honor of the occasion. It's a little #scary, a little #sweet, and all about the redemptive power of #love

BLURB
After Todd's mother dies from cancer, he moves back to his hometown in the foothills of the Appalachians from Chicago. It's 1997 and he's just been given a death sentence--an HIV-positive diagnosis.

Todd expects his remaining time on earth to be spent alone. But Cal, his handsome next-door neighbor, has other ideas.

Cal is not the only surprise in Todd's new life. Todd begins having visions of an older woman, Essie, when he dims the lights. Is she just a figment of his imagination? Or is she a truth teller? When she talks to Todd, she's smart and hopeful. 

When Todd tells Cal about the ghost, Cal knows her already because Todd's mother spoke with her before her death. Essie was a godsend when Todd's mom was in so much pain. 

And now, Essie urges Todd to live...for himself...for new love. But is she too late?

BUY
Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

HUSBAND HUNTERS Is Back!


Today marks the re-release of my friends-to-lovers, reality-show love story, HUSBAND HUNTERS. Hope you'll check it out and pick up a copy! The book has been re-edited and has a spiffy new cover, shown above.

I got inspiration for this story from the strangest place: HGTV's House Hunters TV show.

I asked the 'what if?' question so many writers ask when starting a new tale. This time it was, "What if House Hunters replaced houses with men?" OnTopDownUnder Reviews called Husband Hunters:
"The ultimate friends-to-lovers story..."

BLURB
You never know where the love of your life might turn up. 



When Matt Connelly suggests to his best buddy Cody Mook that they head to downtown Seattle to audition for the gay reality TV showHusband Hunters, both agree the experience might be a lark and a chance to grab their fifteen minutes of fame. What they don't know is that the show, modeled after HGTV's House Hunters, will open doors of longing neither expected. For Matt, the secret love he has long harbored for Cody might be thrust into the spotlight. Cody might realize his search for his perfect-forever-man extends no farther than the man who's always been at his side. 



Husband Hunters promises laughter, tears, and, just maybe, a happy ever after. Will Cody and Matt's story be one of best-friends-to-lovers—or an outright disaster?


EXCERPT
“COUCH CRITIC” TV Weekly Magazine
By Amory Columbus

This week’s review takes a look at the latest entry in the reality television craze: Husband Hunters. For better or worse, reality TV and shows like this one have become a mainstay of twenty-first century entertainment delivered via the tube. Do TVs even have tubes anymore? I digress….

Husband Hunters is based on a simple premise, shamelessly modeled after another life-decision show: HGTV’s House Hunters. As we all know, that show takes us into the life of someone hunting for the perfect home. We get to stomp around with the potential buyer, testing the water pressure, checking out the backyard, searching for cracks in the ceiling. It’s all great fun and gives us a beginning, middle, and end, and leads up to a happy ending where we get to see the contented homeowner or owners all settled in their new nest, where they will live in residential bliss for many years to come.

Like House Hunters, Husband Hunters does much the same thing, focusing on someone who wants to find that perfect situation where one can be happy for the rest of one’s life—or at least the immediate future. But this show takes an even more modern twist, because it is about gay men looking for husbands. Along with the blossoming of reality television, the twenty-first century has also witnessed the blossoming of marriage equality, so that the premise for Husband Hunters is not only compelling but entirely possible—and legal.

Husband Hunters does not stray far from the show it’s modeled after in its basic premise. We have a gay man looking to get hitched and follow him as he spends three separate weekends with three potential suitors. We are privy to the conversation (easy or stilted), the gazes (soulful, embarrassed, or barely concealed boredom), the dinners, the breakfasts, and the activities the producers planned, designed to help the couples get to know one another. In recent episodes we have seen everything from a kayaking adventure on Kauai’s Wailua River to antiquing in St. Charles, Illinois, to attending the famous Sundance Film Festival. We are not privy to what goes on overnight between the “contestants.”

At the end of the three weekends, our single gay hero chooses one man to go on and… marry! Yes, darling, you heard me right. This ain’t your father’s Dating Game. In a fast-forward to a few weeks or a few months later, we get to be witnesses at a ceremony wherein the couple says their “I do’s.”

Cynical side note: one thing that not many folks know is that the network pays for the divorce if the couple decides to split up within one year. But that’s not something they talk about—it would be like focusing on a skid mark in a Fruit of the Loom ad. Yuck!

Anyway, your Couch Critic is here to answer the question: does this show make for good television? Like the show it’s modeled after, Husband Hunters offers us a complete story with a beginning, middle, and an end. You can’t help but get invested in our lovelorn single guy out to find the man of his dreams. Will he choose the hot but buttoned-down CPA from Santa Monica? Or will he go with the penniless but talented and oh-so-quirky tattoo artist from the Castro? Maybe the ginger bear with the amazing sense of humor will bring him his happily-ever-after. It’s fun to play armchair matchmaker.

But is it ethical? The Couch Critic has to wonder. I presume these guys actually spend more time together beyond the weekend portrayed on the show, just like the House Hunters in that other show must spend time looking at more than simply three options. But it rankles the romantic in me to see such a major life decision become must-watch TV. Can love be parsed into three six- or seven-minute segments?

Oh, what the hell! The romantic in me adores buying into the idea that love can and does happen surrounded by slick production values and ads for Kiehls, Subaru, and the Atlantis Cruise line.

If you can accept the premise and the ethics of a show that creates love and marriage assembly line style like I do, you too may be charmed by Husband Hunters. And you too, like me, may just find yourself more often than not grinning like an idiot or wiping a tear away as you watch the latest installment.
JMS Books (discounted price!)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Being Gay in the Early 1980s—BLINK


When I go back and re-read portions of Blink, my memoirish (I admit it!) gay love story, it takes me down memory lane—and back to my twenties. 

Youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! I was 23 years old in 1981, when the first part of the book takes place and I was big in denial of my gay self. So big, in fact, that I was engaged to be married to my (female) college sweetheart. A large part of the first section of the book deals with two young men being attracted to one another on one of Chicago’s L trains.

Both of them had issues. The character modeled after me, Andy, had more issues that Carlos, the character Andy lusts after, to his great shame. But even Carlos, out at the time, but still not so proud, struggles a bit with his sexuality, which is evident from this little taste from Blink, taken from Chapter 2 and written from Carlos’ point of view.

EXCERPT
The guy obviously has a thing for me. I’ve caught him staring now a couple of times and, hey, I’m flattered. He’s cute. No, maybe that’s not a strong enough word. He’s handsome, with green eyes and dark wavy hair that clues me into some sort of Mediterranean heritage. Italian maybe? Greek?

Whatever. Maybe the word I’m looking for is hot.

I can imagine kissing him and the feel of his dark, bushy mustache against mine.

I don’t ride the train to meet men. I don’t do much to meet men, period, to be perfectly honest. I ride the train in the mornings simply to get to St. Philomena elementary school on the west side, where I teach fourth grade.

I’m okay with being gay. I wasn’t always, hence my stint in the seminary where I studied to be a priest. I learned pretty quickly, by the grace of god, and the hands and mouth of a fellow seminarian, that the priesthood was not work I was cut out for. Not if I wanted to live my life honestly, anyway.

So I left. I had already gotten my teaching degree, concurrent with my seminarian studies, so the job at St. Phil’s, low-paying as it was, was a natural fit.

But I digress. I’m trying to sort out my feelings for this sweetheart on the train. I know he’s gay too. I know he’s attracted. But I also know that nothing will ever come of it.

Why? Because I can see that, when our eyes meet, he’s filled with shame and guilt. I recognize his remorse because I cloaked myself in that dark, heavy fabric myself for many years.

And maybe still do, a little, to this day. The Church teaches us that same-sex feelings are to be avoided. They are not of our natural order. We should turn our sights away from our own sex and devote them instead to loving and pleasing the Lord.

Yeah, good luck with that.

The Lord created that cute guy that gives me the eye on the train, the one I feel this probably misplaced connection with. What is it about him that makes me think of him all the time? Why do I hope he’ll be in my train car every time I step on to it in the morning, even though most times he’s not? Why do I try and quickly scan the windows of the train as it rumbles into the station for a glimpse of him?

Is it just because he’s cute?

There are cute men, hunks, whatever, all around. I occasionally venture out to the intersection of Grand Avenue and Clark to the New Flight bar for happy hour and bring one of them home. Or I head up farther north to the Loading Zone on Oak, where I can watch free porn in the back or dance up front. Somebody usually brings me home.

I never make any lasting connections. I don’t even know if want to. Shame lingers on me like the scent of cigarette smoke after leaving those places.

But there’s something about the guy on the train. He tugs at my heart as well as my loins. Even from the brief glances we exchange, he makes me think there’s the possibility of more than just sex. He makes me think, for the first time in my young life, that maybe I could love another man.

And that terrifies me.

Read more of Blink to see where this flirtation on the train takes these two—does it take them to love? And how long does it take for them to get there?

BUY
Amazon Kindle
JMS Books


BLURB
Life can change in the blink of an eye. That's a truth Andy Slater learns as a young man in 1982, taking the Chicago 'L' to work every morning. Andy's life is laid out before him: a good job, marriage to his female college sweetheart, and the white picket fence existence he believes in. But when he sees Carlos Castillo for the first time, Carlos’s dark eyes and Latin appeal mesmerize him. Fate continues to throw them together until the two finally agree to meet up. At Andy’s apartment, the pent-up passion of both young men is ignited, but is snuffed out by an inopportune and poorly-timed phone call.

Flash forward to present day. Andy is alone, having married, divorced, and become the father of a gay son. He’s comfortable but alone and has never forgotten the powerful pull of Carlos’s gaze on the 'L' train. He vows to find him once more, hoping for a second chance. If life can change in the blink of an eye, what will the passage of thirty years do? To find out, Andy begins a search that might lead to heartache and disappointment or a love that will last forever….

Thursday, October 24, 2019

NEW AND NOTABLE: CHASING THE DREAM A Guest Post from Ann Marie James


Hello everyone. Ann Marie James here. First, I want to thank Rick R. Reed for letting me do my first ever blog post on his blog. I appreciate the belief in me and the show of support.

I had a (very) short story, "The Cake," published in an anthology for another publisher a few years ago. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I had to put my writing on the back burner for a bit. I now have my first ever novel, Chasing the Dream, coming out with Pride Publishing on October 22, 2019, set in the same world. (Chasing the Dream is currently available at Pride Publishing as well as other retailers). 

The (very) short story, "The Cake" is being offered as a free read with Pride Publishing and is available now.  In it we are introduced to Kirk, the owner of the garage, Everyone’s Mechanic, the series title. It’s not necessary to read it before reading Chasing the Dream, but hey, it’s free. Free is always good!

I grew up in the Binghamton, NY area, but have lived in Kentucky, Germany and North Carolina. Chasing the Dream is set in Raleigh, NC, where I lived for twenty plus years. 

CONTEST
The main characters have a conversation in the book about where have they been and where have they always wanted to visit in the world. For a chance to win a copy of Chasing the Dream, please comment below as to what your answer to that question would be and why.

Winning answer will be picked by October 28, so comment soon!

BLURB 
When Lee meets his fantasy man, his shy nature makes him want to run. But what will he do when his dream guy won’t let him?

Saul Valencia. Tall? Check. Muscles? Check. Everything Lee Clark ever dreamed of in a man? Check. Bad case of nerves and feeling like an idiot whenever he’s around? Sigh. Check.

Being kicked out of the family home for being gay would have been bad enough, but Lee Clark also worked in his dad’s garage. Losing his family, his home and his job all in the same day left him floundering. He can’t believe his luck might be changing when he finds a job at Everyone’s Mechanic, another garage, where he’s accepted for who he is.

Then Saul, a former linebacker for the NFL Raleigh Raptors and a friend of Lee’s boss, walks into his life. The man is the embodiment of all his teenage fantasies, but Lee doesn’t dare hope Saul will ever actually notice him.

Intrigued from the start by the shy man now working for his business partner’s boyfriend, Saul struggles through bad advice and misunderstandings to convince Lee that he’s serious about wanting a chance with him. Getting Lee to give him a shot at romance was difficult enough, but when drama and blackmail from outside sources are added in, the relationship becomes almost impossible.
It will take the combined efforts of Lee’s garage family and Saul’s real one to set things right.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and homophobia.
General Release Date: 22nd October 2019 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
To be clear Ann Marie James is not my real name, but it does have meaning for me. It is a combination of my middle name, my niece’s middle name and my son’s middle name. Everyone has their reasons for picking or not picking a pseudonym, I just wanted the freedom to take risks and spread my wings through my own creation, not as so and so’s daughter or so and so’s mother etc. I am a divorced mother of one twenty-something year-old son.