Thursday, January 10, 2019

Brokeback Mountain and Family Obligations


I have long been haunted by one short story, E. Annie Proulx’s beautiful, powerful, and tragic “Brokeback Mountain.”

I remember reading the short story many years ago just after it was published originally in the New Yorker magazine. It stayed with me through all the years, partly because Proulx’s prose is so spare, yet poetic, but also because the story, at its core, could have been mine, since I too was a closeted, married gay man, filled with secret longings and wearing a mask for the rest of the world.
My story (co-written with the fabulous Vivien Dean), “Family Obligations” has a lot in common with ‘Brokeback,’ even though it’s totally different.

It too tells a story about two men who fell in love while young and vibrant, and then, because of their own and society’s constraints, were kept apart through the years. Yet, their love was so strong that they could never manage to break the hold they had upon each other.  

BLURB
Tate D’Angelo always thought he knew who his father was: beloved doctor, devoted husband and father…. Everyone at the funeral shared the same glowing stories of a kind soul. So when his father’s old college buddy, Randy, approaches him after the service, Tate expects to hear echoes of the same.

Instead, he gets a lifetime’s worth of letters that tell a different tale and cause him to view his father—and his family—in a whole new light.

The truth, about a secret romance kept buried for decades, astonishes him. Overwhelmed by grief and confusion, Tate’s unsure if he can bear learning how the lives of two men entwined over the years, but he reads on anyway, discovering more to value, more to respect, and most importantly, more to love about the man who raised him. 

BUY

EXCERPT
It wasn’t until three days after the funeral that Tate thought again of the strange encounter with his father’s old friend outside the funeral home.
The past few days, what with the funeral and keeping his mom company and taking care of his own family obligations, had left Tate drained. He had fallen into bed each night exhausted—and quick, heavy, and dreamless sleep followed.
But today was Friday, and Kelly had taken Claire out to a park in Coconut Grove for a play date. Tate had the house to himself and wouldn’t have to return to his veterinary practice until Monday.
He sat down at the iMac they had set up in the study and plugged in the thumb drive Randy had given him at the close of his dad’s viewing hours the other night.
A PDF came up, and the computer asked if he wanted to open it. “I want to open it, of course. Come on!” he whispered to the computer. He chuckled. He’d inherited his great well of patience from his dad.
There was no explanation, no preface.
There was simply the first letter. The handwriting was his dad’s. Even if the penmanship had gotten sloppier over the years, his backward-slanting script was still recognizable.
Tate wasn’t sure what to expect—or why this man Randy had chosen to share such personal items with him. He figured there was only one way to find out.
He began reading.

June 5, 1973
Dear Randy,
Well, kid, it’s been three days, fifteen hours, and twenty-seven minutes since we graduated and I last saw you. But who’s counting?
I don’t know how often I’ll be able to write, what with starting medical school and planning for my wedding. But I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and, oh hell, how very much I miss you.
I know this is hard. I know you wanted something else. But it just can’t be. The world doesn’t look kindly on two men as a couple, especially if one of them plans on being a pediatrician. And besides, as I’ve told you, I love Sharon in my way. She’s a great girl, and I know she’s crazy about me. We have a good relationship, and I can foresee a great future with her.
Oh shit, who am I trying to kid? She’s a wonderful woman and I do love her, with all my heart. But I love you, Randy, more. And… she can never know this. It would break her heart. It would break mine.
But I still ache when I think of leaving you just as dawn was breaking the other morning, looking up at you standing in the window of your apartment, watching me, your hand pressed against the glass.
I wanted so much to turn around, to just say “fuck it all” to a world that disapproves of something as pure and honest and passionate as what we shared. I wanted to run back up the stairs and into your arms, to cover you with kisses, and take you back to bed—one more time.
Could you see that on my face? Could you see the longing and the pain?
I don’t know what will happen with us, I only know I hope to hear from you sometimes. I can’t, much as my head tells me to, just sever all ties with you. It’s a dangerous game, but a world without you in it, in at least some small way, is a world I can’t bear living in.
My heart won’t let me say good-bye, not completely.
I know that’s not fair to you, but I also know a handsome guy like you, with such talented hands, will not be alone for long. You too will find a nice girl and settle down, have kids, just like I plan to do.
And who knows? Maybe there will come a time when we can all get together with our families. Maybe, after a while, these desires we have for each other will be replaced by friendship and respect, edged out by the love we have for our wives.
I hope so. But today I am missing you and wishing, so hard, you were here in Miami with me.
I start my summer job waiting tables at a little seafood place on the beach tomorrow—and med school awaits at the University of Miami in the fall.
Take care of yourself, Randy, and please, no matter what, don’t forget what we shared. I know I won’t.
Much love,
Mark

Tate sat back in the desk chair, feeling as though his breath had been knocked out of him. His heart hammered in his chest, and his hand, poised over the mouse, was shaking.
His father was gay? Where did that come from? He loved another man? This Randy? Was this some kind of joke? He peered again at the scanned handwriting on the screen and knew it was his father’s own. And he recalled Randy’s face outside the funeral home. Even in the shadows, Tate could see the naked pain on his face.
Tate laid his head on the desk, and the tears, hot and stinging, came from nowhere. Had his father’s whole life been a lie? Had he loved them at all? Or were they just a convenient cover-up, the “proper” thing to do?
“Kelly, Kelly, why aren’t you home?” he whimpered.
After a while he read on.

BUY


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

10 Silly Questions with Author Jodi Payne



Excited to have fellow Dreamspinner Press author Jodi Payne answering my silly queries on the blog today. Read on to hear all about her new book, Heart of a Redneck....  


10 SILLY QUESTIONS WITH Jodi payne and RICK R. REED


RR: If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
JP: Assuming I could manage to eat in front of a famous person at all, it would have to be something not-messy that I wouldn't spill on my shirt or drop on my chest. Maybe a steak. That cuts nicely and doesn't dribble.

RR: Who do you think you are?
JP: Oh, man. I'm a Leo. and so I absolutely think I'm King of the Jungle. I'm usually right, I know what's best, I give the best advice, I am totally the smartest lion on the block. I occasionally have to remind myself to rein it in because obviously that is BS, not everyone needs my thoughts or opinions, I don't need to try to fix things for people all the time. Sometimes it's much better just to listen.

RR: What’s your problem?
JP: See #2. Also, I'm hopelessly okay with talking to people I don't know.

RR: If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
JP: If I thought you needed it more than I did, yes. Otherwise you're SOL, man. King of the Jungle and all.

RR: Where you at?
JP: New Jersey. Not "Jersey", not "What exit?". New Jersey. See #2.

RR: If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
JP: Coffee. Coffeecoffeecoffee. Coffee.

RR: What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
JP:  Frosted Mini-Wheats. But you have to be very careful with the milk so they don't get soggy. I have advice about this too for anyone interested. Thought I might I'll tell you even if you're not. See #2.

RR: When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
JP: Billy Idol.

RR: Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
JP: I do. Typically my ass walks around with me wherever I go and the hole in the ground stays put. I hope. No, wait--I don't hope, I know. See #2.

RR: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
JP: Oh, Rick... trying to make a girl blush.

Okay. I'll pimp Heart of a Redneck--the new country mouse-city mouse, opposites attract romance that BA Tortuga and I co-wrote and published by Dreamspinner Press.

Who is Jodi Payne?
Jodi Payne takes herself way too seriously and has been known to randomly break out in song. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies. They are characters you can't help but fall in love with while they stumble along the path to their happily ever after. For those looking to get on her good side, Jodi's addictions include nonfat lattes, Malbec and tequila any way you pour it.

Links (take your pick):

Website: www.jodipayne.net 
Twitter: @JodiPayne 
Instagram: @jodipayne1800 

BLURB for Heart of a Redneck
Colby McBride is a blue-collar cowboy trying to make ends meet laying tile in Colorado. A loner by choice, Colby works hard with his hands and finds his peace camping in the mountains outside Boulder. Gordon James is a white-collar restaurateur who owns not one, but two successful establishments in downtown Boulder. He’s a sophisticated urbanite who is devoted to his work and is accustomed to getting what he wants.

The men are friends, but sparks fly when Colby falls in love and decides to show Gordon how much fun a good old boy can be. They’re just beginning to explore their relationship when Gordon’s sister’s suicide leaves him with custody of his five-year-old niece. 

Colby comes from a huge family and is eager to help with the girl and to prove his worth to Gordon. But neither of them is ready for the tremendous changes to their already busy lives, or for how this new relationship with Olivia challenges them, complicating the way they interact with each other. 

They say opposites attract, but can these two very different men work together to join their disparate lives and form a strong, if highly unlikely, family?

BUY
Dreamspinner
Amazon

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Have You Read my Book About Reincarnation...and Love?


A novel about reincarnation and love

Christmas, 1983: Robert is a young man tending to his soul mate Keith, who is dying from AIDS. Robert tries valiantly to make this a special Christmas, but loses the fight late Christmas night.

Christmas, 2007: Robert ventures out and finds a young girl about to fling herself into the waters of Lake Michigan. He rescues her, and the two form a bond forged from familiarity, and even love. Neither understands it, since Jess is a lesbian and Robert is gay. But there's more ...

Jess begins having strange dreams, reliving key moments she couldn't know about in Keith and Robert's life. They begin to wonder if their feelings might be rooted in something much more mystical than a savior/victim relationship.

As the two move toward each other, Robert's younger lover Ethan plots the unthinkable. His crystal meth-addled mind becomes convinced there's only one way to save himself: Robert's destruction.

There's a murder attempt ... salvation ... redemption ...

And a new love is born.

BUY
JMS Books ebook
JMS Books paperback
Amazon Kindle (FREE with Kindle Unlimited)
Amazon paperback

EXCERPT

Robert hesitated outside the bedroom door. Inside, it was quiet, and he dreaded going in there and finding Keith on the bed asleep, a sheen of sweat clinging to his sunken cheeks, his breath phlegmy and labored. What if Keith’s call was just a momentary peek through the twin curtains of fever and consciousness? Or worse, the product of his own overly hopeful imagination?

What would be, would be (hadn’t some virginal blonde even once sung about it?). Robert steeled himself: deep, cleansing breath, let it out slowly. And entered the room.

Keith was awake. His face looked even more drawn and tired—the color of ash. Robert would have said it was impossible for him to look any sicker even this morning, but now he did. In the air, despite the cinnamon- and vanilla-scented candles in the room, was the smell of sickness and shit.

But oh, Lord! Keith was looking at him. Looking right at Robert. And he was seeing him! For the first time in forever, their gazes met and connected. Robert approached the bed warily, as if a sudden movement would send Keith plummeting back into unconsciousness.

“Honey? Can you hear me?” Robert stood, wringing his hands, heart fluttering, beating against his ribs.

“Of course.” Keith’s voice was a croak. Gone were the bass notes that had made him sound so sexy and assured. Keith reached a bruised hand out over the covers and patted the bed. “Would you sit next to me?”

“Oh, of course!” Robert took two steps and weighed down the bed, reaching out to brush a strand of hair off Keith’s forehead, biting his own lip at the heat radiating off Keith’s flesh. “I’m so happy you’re awake.”

Keith swallowed. The swallow took a long time and looked as if it took all of the sick man’s effort. He let out a weak sigh and turned his head. He looked up at Robert and managed a wan smile. Robert closed his eyes and gently laid his head atop Keith’s.

And then Keith began to talk, his old voice suddenly returned, strong and sure. “I have just a few things to say, Robert. And I need you to shut up and listen. No interruptions. The first thing I want to say is ‘Merry Christmas.’ I’m so sorry I couldn’t be a bigger part of things for this, our first Christmas together, but that decision was taken from me and it doesn’t look like Mr. Claus is seeing fit to give me a chance to make it up to you.

“The second thing I want to say is that I love you with all my heart. I searched forty-some-odd years for you, for what I’ve always dreamed of, and what I thought I couldn’t have when you dropped, like a gift, like an angel, into my life last winter. You were what I hunted for all my life: a family. You are my family. Don’t ever forget how precious that is.

“The third thing I want to say is that you’re an idiot, running around, burying your head in the sand, and trying to make a Christmas that neither of us has the capacity to enjoy. And last, I love you for that. I love you so much for trying ... for hoping against all odds that this moment would come and I would let you know how much I appreciate you. For hoping that we might share one final kiss before I have to go. And my love, I do have to go.

“But I couldn’t leave without you hearing these four words. You. Are. My. Family.”

Robert wanted to cry, but there was cold stillness inside, almost as if the frigid air outside had invaded and possessed him.

Robert lifted his head, stopping himself from recoiling at the memory of a feel of a crusty lesion on his cheek. He reached down and squeezed Keith’s hand, knowing with all his heart that Keith wanted to say all those things.

But the reality was that Keith had only enough breath left to whisper, “I need ...” A big hard swallow, tears welling up in Keith’s sallow eyes. “You.” Keith pushed out the word “you,” Robert thought, with all the breath he had left.

And that was all, really, Robert needed to hear.

Now, the eyes Robert stared down on were not only yellowed and red-rimmed, but vacant.

Keith was gone.

Robert patted his cheek. “I know,” he whispered. “I’ll always know.”

BUY
JMS Books ebook
JMS Books paperback
Amazon Kindle (FREE with Kindle Unlimited)
Amazon paperback

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

10 Silly Questions with Author Xenia Melzer



Excited to have fellow Dreamspinner Press author Xenia Melzer answering my impertinent questions on the blog today and to tell us all about her new book, A Dom and His Warrior....  


10 SILLY QUESTIONS WITH XENIA MELZER and RICK R. REED


RR: If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
XM: I would invite Marie Antoinette and have a set of molecule kitchen dishes with her, just to see her reaction.

RR: Who do you think you are?
XM: I actually think I’m several people, of which three come out on a daily basis (mommy, wife, ‘official’ nice-face), while the others (hormonal driven threat to life, sex goddess, natural enemy of all things sweet) only make occasional appearances… Okay, the natural enemy of all things sweet is the most dominant of all…

RR: What’s your problem?
XM: What isn’t? Though my worst problem is grocery shopping, no, make that window cleaning… on second thought, it’s laundry, and cleaning the house, and people at the supermarket who wait for the clerk to pull all their shopping over the beeping machine before they start packing it away.

RR: If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
XM: Depends on what you would wish for. 😉 If we could agree on trees growing chocolate (70%, dark) we have a deal.

RR: Where you at?
XM: Home.

RR: If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
XM: I’m a perfect angel! I don’t even know what a vice is! *coughs* Binge eating sweets without gaining weight!

RR: What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
XM:  A tough one. I’m pretty sure nobody knows this brand because it’s a pretty local German producer, but the cereals are great. Seitenbacher.

RR: When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
XM: Ozzy Osbourne.

RR: Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
XM: Yes, my ass is way prettier.

RR: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
PS: How about my newest release, A Dom and His Warrior?

Who is PD Singer?
Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she's not writing stories. She doesn't like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn't discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.

You can contact her through her website
Or befriend and follow her on Facebook

When not writing, playing her fiddle, or skiing, she can be found with a book in hand.

BLURB for A Dom and His Warrior
Leeland Drake and Jonathan White are a committed BDSM couple and have just moved in together. Leeland has only one year left in college, and everything seems perfect… until Leeland’s uncle asks him to stand in for an injured UFC fighter. 

Leeland wants to help his uncle, but he remembers all too well from his years competing in martial arts how strenuous life as an athlete can be. He doesn’t want to risk his relationship with Jonathan. After some discussion, they decide Leeland will go pro for a year. 

As if the training and strict diet weren’t bad enough, the pressure skyrockets when Leeland encounters homophobic fighter Tommy Adams—especially when they end up facing each other in the championship

Between the bigoted rants of his opponent, the scrutiny of the media, the pressure from his sponsor, and a fire in his uncle’s gym, Leeland is close to breaking down. Only Jonathan’s support and love keep him focused enough to set foot in the octagon once more—and maybe even walk away a winner.

BUY
Dreamspinner
Amazon