Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Guilty Pleasure No. 1: INTERVENTION

I thought it might be fun to do a series of blogs about my guilty pleasures. You know what I'm talkin' about: those movies, TV shows, books, and maybe even foods that we indulge in that we know aren't good for us, but we love them anyway. Guilty pleasures are like comfort food for the mind. They require little effort to consume, but they bring us more happiness than we'd be willing to admit in the company of our savvier, smarter friends.

My first choice for a guilty pleasure is the A&E show, INTERVENTION. In another life, I think I may have gravitated toward social work and been some kind of alcohol/substance abuse counselor. Instead, I pour that interest out in my writing (check out my novel ORIENTATION for a harrowing portrait of a crystal meth addict; or HIGH RISK for a story about the very worst that can happen to a sex addict). If you look closely at almost everything I write, one of the themes that emerges over and over again is obsession and compulsion, or the inability to stop yourself from doing things you know you shouldn't. In short, my books are often about people who are controlled by their obsessions, rather than the other way around.

And that's why I rarely miss an episode of INTERVENTION. The show is an up close and personal look at all kinds of people who have hit bottom with their addictions, whether they abuse drugs, alcohol, or have eating or other psychological disorders. Each show is a fascinating portrait not only of an addict, but also of the people who love him or her. Just as much as it's a show about addicts and their addictions, it's also a show about how they're destroying not only their own lives, but the lives of those around them. Is it manipulative? Probably. The show is deftly edited to showcase its subjects as their worst and includes lots of tearful close-up interviews with family and friends. I suppose it's this manipulation that puts INTERVENTION in the guilty pleasure category for me. But the key word in guilty pleasure is pleasure...and I can't get enough of wallowing in the horror, shame, depravity, and yes, hope of each episode. I suppose I'm addicted...but I don't need an intervention.

Episodes I have seen that stick with me range from the bizarre to the heartbreaking to the humorous. Bizarre is a woman who eats, but spits everything she chews back into a cup and keeps herself going by putting liquid nutritional supplements directly into her stomach via a feeding tube. She did this 14 years. Heartbreaking is the Las Vegas entrepreneur who had a great life: wealth and good looks and drank it all away. This episode ended with the news that he had finally not been sober for x number of months, but that he had died. And, God help me, some episodes are funny. Case in point: Allison, who is addicted to huffing cans of computer cleaner. Allison, at least according to the show, straightened herself out and it's true she had reason to be messed up (childhood abuse, which, let the record show, I do NOT find amusing). But the scenes of her at her worst are guilty-pleasure hilarious. Check out the YouTube video someone produced of Allison and see if you don't agree. I will never hear the song "Walkin' on Sunshine" quite the same ever again. Allison's choice of substance was the most mystifying, because the high only lasts about five minutes, and she needed to practically bankrupt herself to keep it going. It's like being a poppers addict, only worse, because one doesn't go through ten bottles of poppers a day (correct me, guys, if I'm mistaken on that one).

Anyway, I'll close with the video I promised. Check it out. It too may become a guilty pleasure for you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Two of My Books are Eppie Finalists!

I've recently received word that two of my books, ORIENTATION and HIGH RISK are both finalists for the Eppie Award (in the categories of best GLBT novel and best mystery/suspense novel, respectively). For those of you who might not be familiar with it, the Eppies are awarded each year to honor the finest electronically published books each year (although both books are also available in trade paperback format, as well). This year's awards will be held in Las Vegas in March. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Robert and Jess may just be the world's most unlikely couple—a gay man and a lesbian. But there is something more complex going on here: Jess may be the reincarnation of the lover Robert lost to AIDS more than two decades ago. Can they transcend sexual orientation and find true love…again? Before this question can be answered, both must confront a deadly peril just waiting to pounce...

Read the first chapter here.
Buy the paperback here; buy the ebook here.

Beth Walsh seems to have a perfect life and a perfect marriage. So what is she doing wearing leather and spike heels and picking up strangers? And does she realize that meeting this one stranger will put her life and love in jeopardy? Because every time she cheats on her husband, she is playing a form of roulette and with Abbott Lowery, gorgeous and muscular on the outside, twisted and monstrous on the inside, her luck has just run out.

Read the first chapter here.
Buy the paperback here; buy the ebook here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

VGL MALE SEEKS SAME Gets 5 Stars from Rainbow Reviews

Just wanted to crow a little about the five-star review I got for my little romantic comedy ebook, VGL MALE SEEKS SAME, last week from Rainbow Reviews. This is important to me not only because who doesn't like a pat on the back, but also because this is a new writing direction for me (a happily-ever-after love story) and it's good to have some validation when you're in untested waters.

Check out the review and synopsis. If you like what you see, I hope you'll consider buying a copy of VGL MALE SEEKS SAME. Thanks.

TITLE: VGL Male Seeks Same
AUTHOR: Rick Reed
ISBN: 978-1-60272-430-3
PUBLISHER: Amber Quill Press



Ethan has tried everything he can think of to find a significant other. He visited the bars where all the young, hip gay men were sure to be found only to be a wallflower and not interact with anyone. He moved to the heart of "Boystown" in Chicago to be surrounded by single gay men only to have the neighborhood gentrify and the gays move due north. He found a job as a publicist for free nights at the theater and to be surrounded by handsome actors but instead is isolated in his cube writing press releases and chatting up critics. As a result, Ethan is a single, 42 year old gay man trying to convince himself that the answer to the "riddle of how to escape a solitary existence" is out there waiting for him.

When Ethan overhears a conversation about a website that is for more than just "quick hook-ups", he thinks he has found his answer. After all, if it can work for the office receptionist, who Ethan secretly refers to as "Bubbles", it has to work for him. Right? Ethan creates a profile, pours himself into the answers, and finds a relatively decent photo only a few months old. He is totally and completely honest about himself. He's all set. There's only one problem. No one bites.

With his self-esteem taking yet another shot, Ethan decides to make a drastic move and start a bit of a social experiment. He replaces his photo with one found on the internet, a truly stunning man, and sits back and waits. And he watches the responses pour in, half of them telling him how gorgeous he is and the rest simply dirty propositions for sex, lots of sex. Not quite what he was looking for. But in the middle of all those messages is one that is very different. A message from Brian.

Brian is just what Ethan has been trying so hard to find. They have similar tastes, are looking for similar things from a relationship, and Brian is gorgeous. He is, in a word, perfect. But there is only one problem. Brian is messaging the "new" Ethan, the one that the "real" Ethan doesn't look anything like. As they start messaging back and forth, Ethan becomes more enamored with Brian and worries about what will happen when Brian discovers he is a liar.

VGL Male Seeks Same is a phenomenal story about the search for love and the one person we can connect with in every way. I absolutely adored the character of Ethan, his sharp witty humor and his emotions that are worn on his sleeve. As a person that has used internet dating, I connected with him immediately and Reed nailed the reactions and thoughts that come with such a unique way of meeting people.

Things of course are not as simple as they may seem for Ethan and, although I must admit that I guessed what was to come, it was truly a joy to read from beginning to end. The messages back and forth between Ethan and Brian are quite touching and make Ethan's angst over what to do about his deception that much more substantial. My heart was completely invested in Ethan's journey and I laughed and cried along with him. Overall this is a captivating story that had me on the edge of my seat to the very end. This is the second of Reed's stories that I have read and I am now officially a huge fan. As are many of his other stories, this is set in Chicago, my current hometown, and those familiar with the city will love the details throughout. It is obvious that Reed still loves the city. The humor throughout this story is exceptional yet doesn't disrupt the more serious themes. The ending is true perfection even if the last line is, "He really needed to pee." I cannot more highly recommend this story for all readers!

Review by Emily Moore

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My New eBook, AMBROSE AND THE WAIF, is Released

This week marks the release date of my latest ebook, Ambrose and the Waif, and a return to the gruesome horror that got me compared to the likes of Stephen King. Co-written with Chicago journalist and historian Sukie de la Croix, the story is a gothic, over-the-top horror tale about a pair of star-crossed lovers, separated by distance and the overbearing (and overweight) domestic partner of one of them. It's a fast read, only 12,000 words and written in the form of letters that chart a course of love and a deadly game of cat and mouse. It's not for the squeamish and it ain't no heartwarming Christmas story either!

You can buy yourself a copy of Ambrose and the Waif for a measly $3.00 at the publisher's website.

Here's a brief synopsis:

Ambrose loves his waif. But the waif, a handsome young man, has murder on his mind—a convenient solution for getting rid of his overweight partner who uses his girth and his influence to stand in the way of the pair's love for one another. In this twisted tale, played out in letters between Ambrose and his waif, we get a glimpse into the bizarrely romantic lives of the world's most original lovers. Their love is founded on mutual hate, deceit, and a prurient longing for the other seldom seen in gay fiction.

What's true and what's false in the brooding, fantastical letters the pair pens to one another? Not even they are certain as they plot murder, plan escape to exotic, far-off lands, and confound one another with psychological mind games. As you hungrily press through pages, you, too, will be confounded as you think you know what's happening, only to have your beliefs reversed, set back on course again, and perhaps even striking off in entirely new and unexpected directions.

What is certain is that you will never be sure of the fate of Ambrose and the Waif until you get to its final, breathless conclusion.

And a little taste:

...And so he is gone. And so the deathly veil that once lay draped across our love has been lifted, and returned to its rightful owner. May that apprentice of the Devil rot alone in that precious New England soil for all eternity.

When I return from my travels we will dance naked upon his grave in the moonlight, celebrate like crapulent dryads as we stamp our feet and send his wicked soul even deeper into hell. As if hell were deep enough for him. As if there were a place in this world, or any other world, that would give refuge to that monstrous being.

You have done well, my tiny elfin creature. Eliminating him was the only way. He never would have released you from his prison.

I well remember the day that I first saw you. You were sitting alone on the wharf, a fishing boat had moored nearby, and you were, I assumed at the time, staring at the fishermen struggling with their nets. At first I thought you were an angel; the sun was behind you, your white, loose-fitting clothes—like sacrificial robes—the gentle breath of the wind running like children through your soft golden curls. You kept brushing them back, away from your eyes.

Then I walked around you, stood between you and the glaring sun. That's when I saw the bruises on your face, the vacant look in your eyes, and that terrible mark, that evil tattoo upon your forearm. The mark of ownership. What were you thinking about that day? You never told me, but then I've never asked you.

Oh, how my body aches for you. How I long to kneel at your feet and drink from the sacred cup of my waif; to kiss those hands, once manacled to the wall of that dark dungeon. My heart is torn apart when I think of what that beast did to you.

But all that is gone now. The torture is over, and soon I will be loving you as you deserve to be loved; as a writer loves his muse, as an artist loves the gift that God has given him.

Yes, my sweet waif, his bedroom will become my studio. You must now take everything from the room and burn it in the garden. He must be exorcised. Then, when I return, I will paint you; though capturing your beauty in oils will not be an easy task. Perhaps I will first paint an arm on one canvas, then your other arm on another canvas, then your chest, until I have many parts of you, that I can assemble as a wall. I will be driven insane by this whimsy!

But first, as I told you the last time we were together, on that secluded pebble beach, I cannot be with you until I visit Morocco. I have been summoned to paint the Master Musicians from the remote village of Jajouka. I board the ship tomorrow.

Jajouka means "something good will come to you." And something good will come to you, my sweet waif, when I return to New England. Write to me in Marrakech; you have the address of my hotel.

I love you more than you can ever know...

BUY Ambrose and the Waif