Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Blue Moon Cafe Gets a New Cover

It's always with some trepidation that I approach what a cover artist has come up with for a book of mine. After all, this is the face of my baby. I want it to be beautiful. I also want it to be compelling because I know it's a big, fat lie when people say, "Don't judge a book by its cover." In whatever context they mean it, they can and do. The cover helps sell a book almost, if not as much, as what's on the interior.

With the cover artist I work with at Amber Quill Press, Trace Edward Zaber, I am not as afraid when I get that e-mail telling me a cover design is ready. Trace is a great cover artist and I am usually over the moon with what he comes up with for my work. We've worked together on enough books that I hardly have to give him much suggestion or direction on what I hope to see. We're in sync.

The cover for my upcoming novel, The Blue Moon Cafe, is no exception. Trace managed to encapsulate exactly what I wanted to get across: that this was a horror story, yes, but at its heart, it's a love story. It's a book that I hope will make a reader's heart race for many reasons.

And it's appropriate that I'm sharing this with you today, because tonight is a blue moon, the first in a decade.

I'd love to know what you think of the cover. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Blue Moon Café releases on March 7, 2010 in ebook format, with the paperback version to follow approximately two weeks later. To read the first chapter, e-mail me at and I will send it to you.

What The Blue Moon Cafe is about:

Someone—or something—is killing Seattle’s gay men.

A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone—or something—is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Café. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into…and he can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being: Why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Prepare yourself for a unique blend of horror and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Café, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, “the Stephen King of gay horror.” You’re guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror…

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Silly Questions with Author Lynne Jamneck

I recently had the pleasure to fly to New Zealand to interview author Lynne Jamneck on her beautiful estate. Over traditional New Zealand delicacies, I tried to convince Lynne to get silly with me. She insisted we arm wrestle and if I won, she would answer my ridiculous queries.

Here are the answers. Lynne needs to develop some upper body strength. But in the wit and wisdom department, she's no slouch.

1. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?

Malva Pudding, a traditional South African desert. It has so much sugar and butter in it, any unsuspecting dinner guest without the veins of a Afrikaner Boer will be dead in half an hour. I'd invite George Bush. And the heads of several multinationals. [RR: Love your culinary ideas, Lynne!]

2. Who do you think you are?
I could ask you the same thing. [RR: You could, but I'm asking the questions here.]

3. What’s your problem?
Other than the fact that I have too much to do and too little time to do it in? Not too much. Oh, I do get annoyed when people say wizards aren't real. That's a problem for me.

4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Seriously, Rick.  [RR: I guess that's a "no"]

5. Where you at?
Most of the time I'm not entirely sure. Right now I do believe I'm sitting at the lounge room table, though I just came from the dentist and popped some Amoxicillin, so I could be wrong.

6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
Coffee. [RR: Here in Seattle, we don't consider coffee a vice, for Heaven's sakes!]

7. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
Jungle Oats [RR: I think I've sown those before.]

8. When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?

9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
Honestly, I frequently don’t. It's not a pleasant experience tripping over your own ass, but I have to admit that it does happen. Frequently.

10. Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
Other than everyone has to read the Lambda Award nominated Periphery—Erotic Lesbian Futures.  (Because, you know, the stories are awesome). You can keep up to date with me on my blog. You can also download a free copy of my story "Outside The Box" (a sir Julius Vogel Award nominee for Best Short Story this year) hereI'm in the middle of writing a monster fantasy novel, and I love chatting about stuff like science and magic and metaphysics and everything in between. Feel free to drop me a note at if you want to get into it.

Lynne Jamneck is a South African writer, currently living in Wellington, New Zealand. She has published short fiction in various markets, including Jabberwocky Magazine, H.P. Lovecraft's Magazine of Horror, So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction and Spicy Slipstream Stories. For Lethe Press, she edited, selected and introduced the SF anthology, Periphery. Lynne is a postgraduate English Literature student at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

For the Love of Dog

Recently, a friend forwarded on to me an e-mail from his ex-partner, whose beloved canine companion had just passed on. I thought the sentiment was so moving and the writing so evocative and clear that I immediately asked permission to share it with you.

Below is a remembrance from Tyler Godshall of his dog, Wiley. Those of you who now love a dog or have ever loved one will understand completely what this is about.

Here are Tyler's own words about Wiley:

"I’m in love with my dog.

"It wasn’t always that way. When my (now ex-) partner brought him home from the pound in 2004, we already had four cats, two of which were diabetic, and adding a dog to the mix stressed them out. I was ticked.

"My partner named him Wiley. He had been a stray, best guess he was almost a year old, a black lab/pointer mix with a white chest. He wasn’t housebroken, and when he peed on the carpet, I was beside myself. If my partner was determined to have a dog, then he better house-train his dog quickly.

"But Wiley was a master manipulator. The more I tried to keep him at an emotional distance, the more he started to cling to me. When he jumped on the couch and sat next to me, hovering over me with his Pitiful Face with the Sad Brown Eyes staring at me down his hounddog snout, he had begun to weasel his way into my heart. I never knew how much expression a dog could capture in his eyes. I never knew the range of emotion a dog could convey with his face.

"Now I’m in love with my dog.

"After the breakup, I got custody of Wiley (“You needed him more than I did,” my ex told me recently), and he has become my shadow. Labs tend to be clingy, and Wiley suffers from a lab’s typical separation anxiety. He followed me around our new home constantly (to the point where I debated renaming him “Shadow”), a habit I found both endearing and annoying. If I’m on the couch, he’s lying next to me, with his head on my lap, soaking up the love and affection. If I’m at my desk, he’s curled up underneath. If I’m on the patio, he’s lying on the deck next to me. Even if I’m on the toilet, he is curled up at my feet. No space is too small for this 65-pound loveable mutt to wedge himself into, if it means being close to me.

"Wiley is a great companion to take hiking, and he never strays far. At times when I let him off the leash, he will run ahead until he rounds a curve or loses me from his sight. At that point his separation anxiety kicks in, he panics, and he dashes back to me lickety-split. Sometimes I hide off-trail and watch him run past me, at which point I whistle to get his attention, and of course he’s so happy to see me! And I’ve never seen a dog run as fast as Wiley, he runs for the pure enjoyment of it, and he could give a greyhound a run for its money.

"I had always been a cat person. I thought cats were smart, but none of my cats could hold a candle to Wiley’s intelligence. My back yard butts up to a conservation lot, with a trail from my yard down to a creek. Since Day One, Wiley has always done his business out of the yard and off the trail, going among the ferns and vines and weeds, not once making a deposit in a spot where I would need to pick up after him (unlike my other lab, May, who is a Free-Range Pooper….).

"All dogs pick up on certain key words that get an excited response from them (the term “go somewhere” always triggers the Happy Dance by Wiley), but I shake my head in amazement at some of the things he understands. I swear there are times when I’ve carried on an entire conversation with him, as his reactions and expressions tell me that he understands. One evening, he was sprawled lengthwise across the couch with his head on my lap. I was wedged into the corner of the couch, but got up to go to the kitchen. When I returned and saw there was no room left for me to sit back down, I told Wiley, “Okay, you’re gonna have to move if you want me to sit here again.” At that point he raised his head and twisted his shoulders up and around, just enough to make room for me to sit down, and then he put his head back in my lap so we were in the same position as before I went to the kitchen. I laughed out loud, “How did you know what I said?!! How did you do that?!?” Again and again he has shown an intuition and an understanding that others have noticed and commented on.

"I’m sure it’s a result of my own alone-ness in this world that I give Wiley so many human attributes, especially regarding his endless affection. I have no children, no nieces, no nephews, so of course my pets are probably more important to me than many others’ pets are to them. Wiley has been my Constant, the only piece of stability in my life the last three years as I’ve dealt with the end of two relationships, the passing of two aunts, the loss of two cats, and the stress of having seven jobs in the last three years. Through it all, Wiley has been there to love me and to be loved. He loves body contact, loves to be held, and refuses to be ignored by anyone who walks in the house. I cherish how, when I come home from work, he jumps up with his front paws on my shoulder and greets me with hugs and kisses. (It’s his favorite greeting for the Food Lady next door, too, when she visits him.) I joke about weekend nights turning into “Date Night on the Couch with Wiley” because I realize I enjoy staying home, curled up and cuddled up on the couch with Wiley while watching TV, instead of going out. Often at night, I’ll find him lying in bed with his head on the pillow next to me, spooning him, he on top of the covers, me underneath, both of us enjoying the cuddling.

"He’s had his misadventures as well—getting kicked in the head by a horse (and surviving), getting stung by a swarm of yellow jackets whose nest he inadvertently peed on. And each time I fretted over him like an overprotective parent, because who could NOT feel sorry for the Pitiful Face with the Sad Brown Eyes?

"And then every parent’s nightmare…two months ago, Wiley was diagnosed with bone cancer. Even with a leg amputation and chemo, the cancer was too aggressive and spread quickly into his lungs, cutting down the amount of oxygen his body was getting. And today, the day after Christmas, it was time to say goodbye to the Pitiful Face with the Sad Brown Eyes.

"Wiley’s last two months were some of the best days of his too-short life. He continued to be spoiled and had lots of visitors, he always knew he was loved. He recovered fine from the amputation and just in the last two weeks he enjoyed his three-legged romping on the beach at Ft DeSoto beach twice, and went to his favorite nature preserve on Christmas Eve with his sister May and showed her how to walk calmly through the woods.

"I would like to believe in reincarnation. I would like to think that someday I’ll be volunteering at the CARES dog rescue shelter, and I’ll say to some new big dog “You wanna go somewhere?” and I’ll get a familiar reaction, and I’ll know my beloved Wiley has come back to me. But until then my heart will ache for my cuddle buddy…my hiking buddy…my camping buddy…for a dog that seemed smarter and wiser than a dog should have been.

"Thank you, Wiley, for loving me and letting me love you.  You’ll always be in my heart."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Anti-Gay Marriage Ads On Washington, DC Transit

When I first saw this article on, I was incensed. I thought "Here we go again. Why can't they find something more important to devote their time, energy, and money to than trying to prevent two people who love each other from marrying? Really, how does this affect them?"

I still think that. And as much as I would love to see these ads ripped down or defaced with witty, sarcastic sayings, the reasonable part of me, the American part of me, said, "Listen: it's a freedom of speech issue. It's not an opinion I agree with. It's not a position I think is based on any logic, but simply on misguided hate, but whomever is behind these ads has the right to be heard."

It kind of sticks in my craw to say that, but it's true: I would hate to see my side deny that side their voice. They do have a right to it. Let them have their say, stupid, and mean-spirited as it is. Who knows? Maybe the good people of DC will see these ads for what they are and will deem them homophobic, or better, laughable. Best of all, maybe they will simply shrug and be indifferent.

That would be a day I'd love to see come. Until then, I will sum up with this quote widely attributed to Voltaire (but was, in fact, said for him, by someone else):

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
-- The Friends of Voltaire, 1906

Because, really, if we take away these bus decorators' freedom to speak out against equality, we logically should take away my freedom to speak out against them, as I'm doing right here, right now. I wouldn't want that; would you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

DEADLY VISION Gets a New Cover

It's always exciting when I get a new cover for one of my books. The one above, done for Bristlecone Pine Press's upcoming e-book edition of my bestselling print book, Deadly Vision, has me over the moon. Cover artist Alex Beecroft managed to convey the terror and beauty of my story of a single mother who becomes a reluctant psychic witness to the murders of young girls in her small town. I do believe people judge books by their covers and I think that this cover will truly grab a reader's eye, much as I later grab the same reader by the throat...refusing to let go.

This has to be one of the most beautiful and haunting covers to date of any of my books.

What do you think? Please leave me a comment below.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

10 Silly Questions with Author Christiane France

I met with the charming and lovely Christiane France recently for high tea at her home in the Niagara Falls region of Canada. Over lovely biscuits and scones, Chris got silly with me.

1. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
If they were dead, I guess I wouldn’t need to consider their likes, dislikes, or allergies, I’d thoroughly disinfect the whole house in case they died from The Plague or worse, and then I’d make whatever I had on hand. Maybe broiled salmon with asparagus and new potatoes. If they were alive, then we’d go their favorite restaurant and they could choose whatever they wished.

2. Who do you think you are?
Moi? Well that would be telling. But since you ask, I’m a Scorpio, and I’m a soft-hearted workaholic with aspirations of greatness who realized long ago that wasn’t going to happen. I’ll never be a princess, a millionaire, or a famous celebrity, but I can live with that. Royalty, millionaires and celebrities have a whole ton of problems I really don’t care to deal with…such as floating around the world on a yacht, living on caviar and champagne, buying whatever takes their fancy, and being adored by the masses.

3. What’s your problem?
Actually, I have a couple. I love too hard, I get upset over nonsense, and I still can’t get my head around the fact that I won’t live forever. I’m not sure I’d want to live forever, but you know what I mean. If we had some inkling of what happens next. I mean are we condemned forever to float around on clouds eating meals made with Philly and invented by our manservant. Or do we get to have some fun?

4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Not unless you promised to wish what I would wish for. And I wouldn’t wish for money or world peace or a cure for cancer, I’d wish that abuse against women, children, and animals, whether it goes under the name of displicine, medical research, or religion, be forever banned.

5. Where you at?
I’m at a wonderful point in my life. I gave up my career as a paralegal a couple of years ago, and now I spend my time writing, spoiling dh and my two pampered Persian cats, reading, doing a little retail therapy and playing computer solitaire

6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
I gave up smoking almost 20 years ago, I have the odd glass of wine, and I like to go to Vegas once in a while and play the quarter slots. I did think about giving BDSM a try, but leather is too hot to wear, and I don’t do pain, so I decided to pass. If you any good suggestions, I promise to give them consideration.

7. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
I don’t have a favorite brand like say Kelloggs or Post. When it comes to cereal, I have the attention span of a gnat, so I’m constantly switching back and forth from one to another. Last week Shredded Wheat, this week Weetabix, next week Cheerios or maybe Special K. I’d rather have waffles, but they’re so darn fattening.

8. When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
Probably a cross between Phyllis Diller and The Grinch. I’m a night person, so in the morning, please leave me the hell alone.

9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
I would certainly hope so. As to how I tell the difference, I pay people to deal with stuff like that.

10. Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
Yeah, absolutely! 
I fall in love with all my male characters, but Theo and Stef have something so special going on they even amazed me. They go together like strawberries and cream, or peanut butter and jelly, or…or… They are so in love, so much two halves of a whole, I can actually imagine one of them saying to the other that famous Robert Browning line, “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” 

Theo Keen has always dreamed of strutting his stuff from behind the footlights, either as a high fashion model or an actor. He’s taken modeling courses and acting lessons, but a case of seemingly incurable stage fright has prevented Theo from realizing his dream. Until one cold, snowy February afternoon Theo is helping his brother, Lance, with the annual Mardi Gras Ball and Fashion Show and an emergency arises--both volunteer male models have cancelled at the last minute and this year’s designer is an up and coming celebrity. With show time only an hour or two away, it’s too late to find replacements, and Lance is in a panic. Theo is the only person who can save the night, so Lance tells him to forget the feeble excuses and just do it.
Yet Theo can’t just do it. He’s spent years of counseling and therapy trying to overcome his problem, but that hasn’t happened and he doubts it ever will. But then the designer, Stefano Spadifora, comes into the dressing room where Theo is working and suddenly Theo’s life does a complete one eighty. Suddenly the impossible becomes possible and Theo senses that after tonight, nothing about his life will ever be the same.

Christiane France truly believes that love makes the world go round, so she likes stories with both happy and bittersweet endings. Christiane has been writing romance for the past twenty years and lives near Niagara Falls with her husband and The Boys—two black and white Persian cats. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

6 Ways to Bust Your Holiday Nut

Back when I lived in the Windy City, I used to write a column for Nightspots magazine called "Tales from the Sexual Underground."

One of my most popular columns was this heartwarming Yuletide piece. I thought I would share it with you now (in a new and improved version), in the hopes that it will become a family favorite to rival the likes of Mr. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Six Ways to Bust Your Holiday Nut
By Rick R. Reed

If you're a ho! ho! ho!, here are some things you might appreciate come Christmas morn (aside from coming yourself Christmas morn, of course, which is the greatest gift of all). Even if you're not quite a ho! ho! ho!, yet you've managed to combine naughty and nice in the most delightful way, you might be interested in some of the things Santa might stuff in your tight little stocking, so read on.

Silicone dildos. Silicone is an ideal material for dildos, those wonderful phallic stand-ins that have been so popular for so long. Aside from giving you a feeling of fullness not even a big holiday meal can rival, silicone dildos are superior to rubber because they're easier to clean, they retain body heat and are super-resilient, so they can stand up to even the toughest treatment.

Ben wa balls. Yes, Vagina, there is a Santa Claus and it comes in the form of these two delightful little ball bearings, which you insert, sit back, and enjoy the feeling of them rolling around inside you. For added bang, insert them, then insert penis, finger, dildo, tongue, or vibrator of choice.

Crisco. While your mother might use these to grease her muffin cups, you can find other uses for this wonderful fat. Crisco makes an excellent lubricant for masturbation, becoming more liquid and warm as you rub it into your nether regions. Not for use with latex, though; it'll eat right through it. (Trust me, I know.)

A butt plug. Assholes come in all different sizes and so do these delightful toys (I just love the one pictured...imagine the possibilities!). Slip one in before attending your next holiday gala and arrive wearing a mysterious cat that ate the canary grin. Just make sure you wear some underwear or at least pants. You don't want to have any embarrassing moments on the dance floor.

Fruit and veg. Who says you need a partner to make satisfying love? If you're a top, melons and even apples can provide a serviceable port for your love boat when there's a sexual storm (not to mention a tasty treat when the storm dies down!). And bottoms will find there's no end to love when visiting their favorite produce stands. Carrots, cukes, zucchini, peppers, turnips, parsnips and more can turn you into a real health nut!

Cock rings. Not only do these nifty little devices help keep you harder longer, they can make your penis look even more attractive, making those veins standout seductively and giving your balls that "ready-to-burst" sheen. Cock rings come in a variety of materials (leather, metal, plastic, even tiny gummy ones that stretch WAY big), colors and ornamentation (studs, cubic zirconia, spikes…) so that you can make your bid for Mr. Blackwell's Best Dressed Dingus award come 2010.

 These are just the tip of the, um, iceberg, when it comes to sexual holiday delights. Use your imagination (as Victor Hugo once said, "Imagination is intelligence with an erection") and you can come up with simply no end to the gifts you can give…not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year.

And in 2010, watch for Tales from the Sexual Underground, the book, coming from MLR Press!

Monday, December 7, 2009

New 4-Star Review for SUPERSTAR

Rainbow Reviews gave a stellar review of my rock star love story, SUPERSTAR, on their site recently.

In part, they said:

"'This July day is a stunning one, clear, sunny, low humidity and a temperature in the mid 70s ... It's a lovely day to commit suicide.' This statement is a wonderful scene setter. Such deft phrasing is maintained throughout this short story, making it a joy to read...This was a most thought-provoking story, rich in emotion and humanity. I expected it to be mostly depressing, but, although it had its sad moments, the tale was uplifting. I know it will remain long in my memory."

Read the rest of the review here.

Read an excerpt and a synopsis and get your copy here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Writing Gay; On Living Gay

"Years ago it would have caused me great pain to even write the word gay on paper to describe myself... Writing has allowed me to change my self-hatred and doubt into true self-esteem and self-love."
--The late E. Lynn Harris in his 2003 memoir, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

Wow. I was just having a little breakfast, a copy of Entertainment Weekly devoted to celebrities who has passed during 2009 open before me on the table when I came across that quote. To say it resounded would be putting it mildly. It was like someone had stepped into my own mind and eloquently sorted the emotions, memories, fears, joys, and hopes brewing there and instilled them into a few spare, eloquent words.

I am like E. Lynn Harris. Beyond being gay men and writers, I don't know how much else we have in common. But I have traveled that same territory of self-loathing Harris describes. For so many years, I wore a mask and hid my true self in a closet. For most of my young adulthood, I was a married man, associated only with other straight people, and did not know what the inside of a gay bar looked like. I pondered checking out those vile groups that profess to change gay people into straight. I saw therapists, one of whom told me I could change and that my attraction to my own sex was simply my longing for the loving father I never had. My journey told self-acceptance was long and rough, and it pains me to think I was not the only one hurt on that journey. It now either makes me shake my head, laugh, or cry, when I hear people talk about the gay "lifestyle" or that being gay is a choice or a preference. When I think of how hard I struggled not to be gay, it's hard for me to fathom how someone could view this as a choice. These narrow-minded souls have only themselves to ask the question: when did you make the decision to be straight?

Harris's quote made me think about all of the above and why, today, my stories revolve almost exclusively around gay characters. And, with one exception, most of those stories show gay characters for whom sexuality is simply a part of their lives and not their exclusive reason for being. I try, with my work, to affirm my gay characters and to give them lives worthy of respect. It is only my gay villains--twisted, tortured souls--do I demonstrate not that being gay is unhealthy or wicked, but that not loving oneself can be incredibly damaging. I think that's why some of my gay antiheroes, such as serial killer Timothy Bright in IM, want so much to be understood because they are beyond understanding themselves.

In my ebook short, Through the Closet Door, I write about a young man who was, very much like myself, in a straight marriage with a woman he loves (emphasis here is important) who struggles to accept something he doesn't want but can't escape. Toward the end of that story, he begins, just barely, to love himself for who he is and not who he thinks he should be.

It's been about twenty years since I was a young man similar to the one in that story, and I think the reason the quote I began this blog with resounds so much with me is that I never realized until today how much the things I write have enabled me to grow and develop not only as writer, but as a gay man. I can see how my increasingly turning to gay themes and characters has mirrored my own self-acceptance. I am lately writing a lot about love, and romance has taken a huge role even in my horror/suspense stories. That, I think, is more of a statement than I realized.

I have finally cast aside the chains of self-loathing that once bound me. I no longer hide that I am a gay man. And maybe, just as important, I can stand proud and say, "I write gay fiction...exclusively. Because these are my people..."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm thankful for

It's a dark, rainy morning here in Seattle and, of course, on this day, I am thinking about what I have to be thankful for.

My mom. She's gone now (two years last month), but her memory stays with me. I will always feel blessed to have such a caring, loving, and funny woman in my life. She always put family first and always made me feel like what happened to me was more important to her than anything.

My son. Smart, handsome, and full of love and compassion, he makes me really proud. Anything else I have done in this life, anything I have created, pales in comparison when I look at him.

My partner. Seven years ago we met and a spark ignited and that has grown into something rare and wonderful: family.

My sisters. I always tell people the kids in my family are all only children because we are so far apart in age (Susan is eight years older and Melissa is eleven years younger), but we are all that's left now of our immediate family. They have always been there for me.

The rest of my family. The older I get, the more I realize how precious these bonds of time and blood are.

My friends. I won't single anyone out, but I think the true ones know who you are and know how much I love you...for being my "chosen" family.

My dog. My little Boston, Lily, packs more joy and devotion into twenty pounds than I could ever hope to find anywhere else.

My creativity. It's been my pride, my curse, my sanctuary and refuge. I am grateful I am able to create people and worlds where I can create order out of chaos and write stories that make me laugh, cry, tremble, and more. It's truly a weird gift and, without it, I truly believe I'd be sitting in a tiny padded room right now.


What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Perfect Date with an AIDS-afflicted Felon

This blog originally appeared on IN COLD BLOG, a true-crime blog where I am a regular contributor.

I’m driving north on Florida State Route 75. It’s August and the flat land stretching out on either side of the highway looks baked. The slash pines, palms, and cypress trees stand like stalwart sentinels against the blistering sun: brave.

The car hums along, the whirr of the air conditioning compressor keeping me company. I’m too jazzed to listen to music.

I’m on my way to a date with Jim. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him, since he moved from the Tampa Bay area up north to Raiford, which is a good three hours away. I can’t blame Jim for the move (it wasn’t his choice), but it’s been hard not being able to see him the past month. Oh sure, we’ve written and Jim’s a great one for letters, especially since he can draw hilarious caricatures of the people he’s meeting in his new home.

But there’s a disturbing edge to his letters, too, and I know some of these people have been less than kind to Jim. The name-calling, for one thing, breaks my heart. But thank God Jim has a sense of humor, otherwise I don’t know how he’d get through each day.

I know he’s been hanging on for this date, which we’ve had planned for a while.

Finally, an afternoon with Jim. I didn’t know, four months ago, that I would grow to love him so quickly.

I drive on, the broad expanses of rough grass and hearty trees being replaced every so often by strip malls and towns with names like Ocala. The pavement shimmers before me in the heat. My tires hum. An armadillo hurries alongside the road. A mosquito splats against the windshield, leaving a swath of blood.


I remember the first time I met Jim. It was another blistering summer day (funny how in my memories of the two years I lived in Florida, it’s always summer, even when the memory took place in December or February). Jim and I had been set up and these kinds of dates always put me on edge: they never worked out.

When Jim answered the door, I was sure that this set-up date would work out like all the others: completely inappropriate. Other people never seemed to have the capacity to pick someone out for myself that I would choose on my own.

And this guy who opened the door immediately put me on my guard. I mean, I enjoy a good drag show at the local bar as much as the next guy, but here in Brandon, Florida (a suburb of Tampa, full of kids, trimmed lawns, and swimming pools), a smart little black dress and pearls just seemed out of place, especially on a very handsome blond man with great blue eyes and a nice, tight build.

But there was Jim, all smiles and beckoning me to come inside. I went into the little bungalow he lived in with a roommate (who was at work). The place was typical Florida, one-story, stucco, with a schefflera bush in the front yard, and that peculiar, tougher-than-nails, fire-ant infested grass on the front lawn. Inside, pastel walls and beige furniture completed the picture. The Golden Girls could have used the place for a set.

And there was Jim, smiling at me in his sensible matron’s outfit and just putting the finish creases on a little ironing he was doing just before I rang the bell. The whole scene made me think of a cross between June Cleaver and RuPaul.

I wasn’t sure what to say. But that really didn’t matter, because Jim was more than ready to take over (once he’d made certain I had a fruity cocktail in my hand, even though it wasn’t yet noon), telling me all about his recent move down here from Chicago (I had the same story to tell, but I wasn’t to learn until much later how very different our respective moves to the sunshine state were), his love for Barbra (need I add a last name here?), and how his health was improving under the abundant Florida sun.

I learned fast that day that clothes don’t always make the man and that Jim would turn out to be one of the bravest men I’d ever met.


It’s been a long drive and I’m glad to finally be pulling up in front of Jim’s new home. Raiford, Florida is north central Florida…typical of the state, but not the kind of look one usually associates with Florida (white sand beaches, aqua-marine waters, palm trees swaying in the salty breeze): Raiford is kind of grim and parched looking, especially the wide open spaces where Jim’s new home sits. It’s surrounded by dry brown grass…stretching infinitely to a blazing blue sky, where the sun beats down, relentless.

A tall fence surrounds Jim’s new home, with no nod to adornment (Jim, with his graphic design background and his love for the visual arts, I’m sure, did not approve). This fence was made of foreboding chain link and twice the height of a good-sized man, topped with razor-sharp circles of barbed wire. The only thing that looks halfway decent is the curving arch over the entrance drive and the stone monument just beside it. The arch tells visitors, in curving steel, that this is the Florida State Prison. The stone monument spells it out further: Department of Corrections, Florida State Prison.

This is where they send the big boys: the felons.

I can’t imagine Jim inside. He’s been hanging on for our date.

I can’t wait to see him.


When Jim and I went on our first date (after our getting-acquainted morning cocktail hour at his house) we went to Ft. DeSoto beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand just off of St. Petersburg Beach. Because it’s in a state park, the beach is backed up not by high-rises with balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, but with a view that nature intended. Instead of bricks and mortar (and the attendant Florida tourists), Ft. DeSoto beach has only sand dunes, sea grass, and mangroves as a backdrop. It’s another blazing hot day and I’ve brought lunch for Jim and me (with a thermos full of mai tais…Jim’s favorite) and we spend the entire afternoon listening to the waves roll in and watching a matronly pair wade along the shoreline, net bags in hand, collecting starfish and shells.

Jim tells me about the last job he had before he went on this extended period of unemployment and how he worked as a graphic designer. He tells me about what led to his dismissal: picking up a stranger one night and bringing him back to his workplace. Out of lube, and always imaginative, Jim went into his supervisor’s cube and found some very creative use for the waxy (and slippery) substance those in the cosmetology trade call lipstick. The couple made quite a mess, not the least of which was Jim’s being fired the next day.

Jim was like that: a little imp, unable to play by the rules.

Life has a way of getting the attention of those who go against its conventions by biting them in the ass.


Getting into the Florida State Prison is a lot easier than getting out, but there are some obstacles. In order to arrange for my date with Jim, I had to go through the chaplain, who put me on the very short list of visitors who could come and visit him (not that there was a long list of admirers waiting to be put on that list; only Jim’s parents so far had come to check him out in his new digs—and they had made the trip all the way from Downer’s Grove, Illinois). Once inside the prison, I had to go through an anteroom, where I had to sign in and then subject myself to being frisked, right down to removing my boots to ensure I wasn’t securing a file in the heel or something. I understood the precautions, silly as they were. Yet Jim was in no shape to escape, even if I had somehow managed to smuggle in everything he would need to slip through Raiford’s well-guarded walls.

Security wasn’t as tight for my last couple of dates with Jim, which had taken place at the Hillsborough County Jail. There, things weren’t as grim, or as lonely. I would line up with a whole room full of chattering visitors, get checked in, and then be off to converse with Jim through a wall of Plexiglas, under the admiring eyes of some of the other inmates. Jealousy is such a petty thing, and particularly annoying when you’re trying to have an intimate moment with your date, while those behind him wonder what it would take to make you their bitch.

But that was before Jim’s case was adjudicated and they sent him north, to the state prison. That was before Jim began to get really sick.


Now, a guard down a colorless hallway leads me to the prison infirmary. I know this will be my last date with Jim and it’s hard not to recall all the laughs we shared before he was caught (he had violated his parole in Illinois, where he had been convicted of grand theft auto) at various beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, in Cuban restaurants, just listening to music at my apartment.

It’s also hard not to remember the additional details that brought him here: how, in a fit of depression, he had set fire to his roommate’s house. What did he have to be depressed about, anyway? He was only dying from AIDS (this was in the early 1990s and the drug cocktails that would keep many of his brethren living full lives were still on the horizon), isolated, and on the run from the law. Why be sad when he could number his only friends (me) at the number one? Why be sad when my friendship was not borne out of a common love for the arts and sarcastic observations about life, but instead courtesy of the Tampa Aids Network, where I had volunteered to be an AIDS buddy and was assigned to Jim?

I wasn’t sure I wanted to see Jim. He had written me, before he was confined to the infirmary, about how the other inmates taunted him and called him Spot, because of the Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions that covered him from head to toe (and continued, even now, to eat his fragile body and soul alive). I didn’t know what to expect. The last time I had seen him, he was still vibrant, still Jim: a little blond man with a quick smile and bottomless kindness.

I knew he had deteriorated…and I knew it was going to be bad.


Jim was alone in the room of the infirmary where they had done, I suppose, what they could to ensure his comfort. Other beds awaited other inmates, with maladies less deadly, I hoped, than Jim’s.

And there he was. Asleep. He looked frail and vulnerable, not at all what you’d imagine if you thought of the terms “convicted felon” or “state pen inmate.” His face, once tanned and vibrant, was covered with purple sores. My Jim had turned into a monster in the short time that had elapsed since we last saw one another.

He turned to me and opened his eyes. At least his eyes, blue as those waters we once sat beside, had stayed the same. It took him a minute or two to recognize me, but when he did, he smiled. I moved close to the bed and took his hand. With my other hand, I touched his forehead, where a fever raced around inside, hot as the air outside these prison walls.

I don’t remember what we talked about on our last date. Probably not much; Jim drifted in and out of sleep while I stood beside him, sometimes even in the middle of a sentence: mine or even his own. He did manage to tell me about his parents’ visit the day before, how his mother had collapsed in grief the moment she saw him.

I wanted this last time of ours together to be meaningful. But what, really, is there to say, at life’s end? I leaned in close and kissed him, my cheek brushing up against one of the lesions. It felt crusty.

The only thing left to say, really, at the end of life, or even the end of a perfect date are three words: “I love you.” Jim whispered back, “I love you, too,” and then he fell asleep.

I crept away.

Jim died the next day. The chaplain very kindly told me, when he called, that he thought Jim had hung on long enough to see me. I hung up the phone and slipped outside to my patio and looked across the surface of the pond just steps away. A wind rippled across the deep green water, making the grass at the water’s edge sway. A white ibis pecked at something along the shore.

I thought of a silly drawing Jim had sent me a couple months ago. It was a colored pencil caricature of a fat middle-aged woman I had written about; she was naked and riding a surfboard. Jim had called it “Amelia’s Hawaiian Adventure.”

The picture made me laugh when all I really wanted to do was cry. But my eyes were dry. Maybe it was just Jim’s influence as he looked down, trying to replace grief with hilarity. I laughed until I was almost breathless and had to sit down, cross-legged, on the concrete.

Finally my laughs turned to sobs and I faced away from the pond and toward the sliding glass doors. The glass was bright with sun and I swore I could see Jim reflected there. He mouthed some words and I strained to read them through my tears. “Glad you could drop by.” I swallowed, containing myself and think: me too, Jim. Someone else might think our last date was kind of sucky, but for me it was perfect. After all, a perfect date is marked by a timeless connection and an intimacy borne of true love. Maybe I didn’t get the chance to bring you flowers or candy, but this date we had…well, it will be the one that will always stand out in my mind as my best, because I like to think that I sent you off, free, with the words “I love you,” lingering in your mind.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

First Review for SUPERSTAR...Four Stars!

Note: The following review was published on ReviewsbyJessewave on November 18. Thanks to Jessewave for the review!


rick 6 Superstar
Title and Link: Superstar
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher URL: Amber Allure
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: short story (12k words)
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

When Leon first saw him singing in a dive bar, he was mesmerized. But he didn’t know he’d be going home with the dangerously sexy lead singer that night. He couldn’t have predicted he’d fall in love. But then, Leon never expected his love to be reciprocated. Yet the hot singer with the gravely voice told Leon he loved him; told him he’d come back. So, why, three years after that fateful night, is Leon perched at the edge of a bridge, ready to make a fatal leap?

Superstar is the story of a groupie and the rock star he loves. It’s the tale of a man on the edge, both literally and figuratively…and it’s a timeless story of love found and lost lost, all set to a driving rock beat.

Superstar is about promises made, promises broken, and dreams unfulfilled. And, ultimately, it’s about realizing that love can come along when one least expects it—and in the unlikeliest of places…

That night was a dream … one that Leon lived for three years, culminating in what could be his last night on this earth as he surveys the murky waters below the George Washington Bridge in Seattle, preparing to jump. What brought him to this point? One unforgettable night when he met the lead singer of an up and coming rock band and had sex with him on his living room couch. The sex was the greatest he had ever had and he thought that his lover felt the same way but sometimes one hot night of sex is just that – a one night stand. Mentally moving between standing on the bridge contemplating his next move, and thinking about that night, Leon recounts through flashbacks the events that led up to where he was, about to end it all.

Rick Reed is an unusual voice in M/M romance, and in Superstar he lets us into Leon’s despair, tattered self esteem and his feelings of loss that what he wants will never be – the love of the man of his dreams. The author draws you in as Leon tells his poignant tale, admitting at last that what he thought was mutual love was really only lust on the part of the object of his affections.

Leon became what he never thought he would be, just another groupie who couldn’t differentiate between reality and fantasy. I really felt for him as he relived his one moment in the sunlight, baring his soul to the readers, not looking for anything, since all he wants is to be left alone to do what he came to the bridge to do – end his sorry life in spectacular fashion. But sometimes despair can have a silver lining and it’s up to Leon to decide whether to take another chance on life.

Whenever I read a book by Rick R. Reed he never fails to surprise me with the depth of emotions, and his prose is always wonderfully eloquent and poignant. If you’re looking for an  unusual love story you don’t have far to go – get Superstar. Definitely recommended.

Read the original blog and comments on ReviewsbyJessewave.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ten Silly Ones in a Row with Romance Author KC Kendricks

I sat down with KC Kendricks in Manhattan recently, where we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant, where we each enjoyed the tasting menu (at $150 per person, but hey, KC claimed to be treating). I was dismayed to find, at the end of our meal, that KC said she had to step outside to make a phone call.

She never returned.

I am posting her interview anyway. And KC, darling, you owe me $300. I'll absorb the $60.00 tip because that's just the kind of guy I am.

1.  If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
I’d grill up some burgers and franks, maybe make a tossed salad.  They could eat it or starve. Or take me out to dinner on their dime. [RR: This is about the response I'd expect.]

2.  Who do you think you are? 
Hmm. I’m a Gemini. To which of us are you directing this question?

3.  What’s your problem?
Problem? I have no problems, only solutions which do not yet have viable applications.
4.  If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Heck, no. Go get your own wish. I worked too hard to get this one and I’m not giving it up. [RR: This is the answer I would expect.]

5.  Where you at?
Oh, somewhere near Latitude = 39, Longitude = -77
6.  If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
What? I have to get rid of all of them but one? That’s not fair, but for the sake of your questions, I will not give up drinking wine. I know, I know. Not much of a vice, but my life is really pretty vice-free. 

7.  What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
Corn Chex. Except when it’s Frosted Mini-Wheats.

8.  When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
Lily Munster, and occasionally Rachel Welch. [RR: Me too!]

9.  Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference? 
Rick, hon, as a gay man, I think you are infinitely more acquainted with asses and holes than I. I’ll defer to your greater wisdom and experience on this one. [RR: Uh, thank you. I think.]

10.    Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
Sure! Check out my website. All my books are listed there. I have a new announcement only mailing list I’m trying to grow, so go on over and sign up.

PS. You have donated your brain to science, right? [RR: Define brain.]

KC Kendricks is a bestselling author who makes her home in Maryland. A 2008 Amber Heat Wave Winner, and a 2008 CAPA nominee, KC writes contemporary gay romances that while are adult in nature, celebrate love and hope for mature readers.

Writing more traditional romance under a pseudonym, the author is a two-time EPPIE Finalist, and a 2005 CAPA nominee. With one contemporary title a #1 bestseller, several other top-ten list titles, and a few more recommended reads, the author has established herself as a storyteller that delivers rich, satisfying romantic stories that feature strong themes of love, hope, and redemption with positive, upbeat endings.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Superstar Releases Today

Everything I write affects me emotionally. But there are some stories that do this more than others. Superstar is one such story. Based on the unrequited-groupie-love-song that both Karen Carpenter and Bette Midler made famous, Superstar is a rarity for me: a pure love story about a young man falling for a cad of a rock star.

He told him he loved him. He told him he'd be back.

It's also about the resiliency of life and love and how both can surprise us at the most unlikely of times.

It's the first story I've written that's set in my new home, Seattle and you'll get glimpses of the beauty of the city and the Pacific Northwest as you join my main character on the 180-foot high Aurora Bridge, also known as the "suicide bridge." It's here where Superstar begins and ends as my main character, Leon, reminisces about his love for a grungy rock superstar before taking a fatal plunge. But someone is waiting and watching, and suicides don't always go off as planned...

Hope you'll check out the story, available only in ebook. You can pick up a copy here.

When Leon first saw him singing in a dive bar, he was mesmerized. But he didn’t know he’d be going home with the dangerously sexy lead singer that night. He couldn’t have predicted he’d fall in love. But then, Leon never expected his love to be reciprocated. Yet the hot singer with the gravely voice told Leon he loved him; told him he’d come back.

So, why, three years after that fateful night, is Leon perched at the edge of a bridge, ready to make a fatal leap?

Superstar is the story of a groupie and the rock star he loves. It’s the tale of a man on the edge, both literally and figuratively...and it’s a timeless story of love found and lost lost, all set to a driving rock beat.

Superstar is about promises made, promises broken, and dreams unfulfilled. And, ultimately, it’s about realizing that love can come along when one least expects it—and in the unlikeliest of places...

...I closed Olive’s that night. It wasn’t so much the crowd, or the beer, or even the cute allegedly straight boy in the cargo shorts and Cold Play T-shirt who made eyes at me throughout the night.

No. It was you.

And your music. Back then, you were just the lead singer in a band called Voiles and I was mesmerized by both your look and your sound. A bass guitar and a drummer backed you up, and if I passed either of them on the street today, I would not recognize them. For me, you stood all alone on that tiny plywood stage with a black curtain behind you. When that incredible, melodic, craggy voice emerged, it was as if the physical confines of the room disappeared. I could see only you…and what a view that was. Your tousled auburn hair, streaked through with gold, practically obscured your face. Your rail-thin body, packed into skinny jeans and a Ramones T-shirt, was like some post punk boy’s fantasy. And when you jerked your head to get the hair out of your face, the motion revealed a chiseled face, dark chocolate eyes, and a look that seemed both faraway and incredibly sad.

It made me want to take you in my arms.

I suppose that’s the effect you were after. I hate to think that the mournful gaze and the counter-culture, retro rock star clothes were calculated, just another part of the act as much as the microphone on its stand, the drum kit, the lights, the amps, the electrical cords.

I hate to think that.

But it wasn’t just your look that caught me, entrapping me in a snare that I would find impossible to free myself from for the next three years. It was your song. Your sad, sad song. Your voice was that of a man who had smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for decades: scarred, veering on raspy. It was the voice of a man much older than your years, which appeared to number in the twenties. You were the love child of Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright.

Your lyrics, coal black, smoldered around age-old topics like lost love, loneliness, alienation, and an inability to find home. Cheery stuff.

It had me sobbing into my beer most of the night.

And when I wasn’t sobbing, I was imagining what you’d look like naked.

There was a curious combination pulsing inside me that night: lust, despair, hunger…

But I never had any real hopes that I would actually be meeting you that night. No idea that I would actually see what the wiry body under those clothes looked like. No clue that I would come to know the feel of those swollen lips on my own...

Get your copy of Superstar here.

WIN A FREE COPY OF SUPERSTAR! Simply leave a comment below (with a way to get in touch with you).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Brenna Lyons Gets Silly with Me

Brenna Lyons is probably one of the most profilic, polished, and professional writers around today. She crosses many genres in her work--science fiction, fantasy, romance, erotica, and much more--and all of it keeps readers coming back for more. I caught up with Brenna recently here in Seattle, where we rode a ferry over to Vashon Island and had a weenie roast on a driftwood-choked beach. "When I told you I was fond of faeries and weenies, this was not quite what I had in mind," Brenna said to me. But then she bit into her kosher dog and with her mouth full, said, "But I thank you just the same."

And what did she have to say to my ten impertient, and very silly, questions? Read on:

1. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
Prime rib (hold the fixings), baked potato with butter, steamed asparagus with bacon and lemon, and traditional custard with sliced strawberries...and a big glass of cold milk. What *I* want to eat, of course! Bet my horror readers thought I was going to say manburgers, but that would be incorrect.

2.  Who do you think you are?
Every author is somewhat schizophrenic, so I guess...Sybil?

3.  What’s your problem?
I see stupid people...and rude people. Most don't even know they are stupid or rude. If I get surly, that's usually why I am. It's a failing. I have little patience for these sorts of things.

4.  If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Depends. Will you use it to get something I want? you desperately need it more than I do? I'd make an exception for that.

5.  Where you at?
In my desk chair...with the window above and to the left of me, a whole wall of bookshelves to the left...paintings, pictures, and awards above...files and shelves of promo gear to the right...and papers stacked everywhere. Said office space is in the Milky Way Galaxy, Planet Earth, United States, Massachusetts... And that's close enough for jazz.

6.  If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
Hard choice. Lust is the most fun, of course. But a prideful bastard is such a great character to play.
7.  What’s your favorite brand of cereal? 
Am I being a good witch today or bad? Good? Total Raisin Bran. Bad? Cookie Crisp.
8.  When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
Rosie O'Donnell, complete with snark. I am NOT a morning person.

9.  Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
Yep. Cartoon physics being something I don't enjoy the gift of, I can't take the hole in the ground with me...without a shovel and a pot.

10.    Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
My desk lamp, but it's not working. Grumbling... Ah, just check out the site! 

In the last six years, Brenna has finaled for 7 EPPIES, 3 PEARLs, two CAPAs, a Dream Realm Award, and has taken Spinetingler's Book of the Year for 2007. Brenna writes milieu-heavy dark fiction, poetry, articles and essays. Brenna loves talking to readers and can be reached via her site.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trannies and Psychos and Bears...Oh My!

Hey Kids!

Just wanted to let you know that my ebook short, NO PLACE LIKE HOME, is out today and yours for only $2.25. It's a gay romance twist on THE WIZARD OF OZ and, like me, is a little different.

And when you visit the AmberAllure site today (November 8) only, you'll find that my EPPIE-Award winning novel ORIENTATION, is the daily deal...75% off the regular price!


Burl is horny. And his lover, AJ, is in the kind of sleep that approaches comatose. What’s a boy to do? In the middle of the night, Burl slips away from the house he shares with AJ, looking for just a little release for his pent-up passion. AJ won’t mind; after all, he says he doesn’t care where Burl gets his tires pumped, as long as he gets to ride.

But what Burl finds in straying from his own backyard is not quite the kind of excitement he had in mind. From boxer-shorted bears, to men who aren’t quite what they seem, to homicidal ebony gods, Burl doesn’t know quite what to make of the bizarre world outside...and the people in it. From the snow-capped peaks of the Adirondack Mountains (and the Sodom Sin Mountain Ski Resort), to the dangerous streets of the lower east side of Manhattan, Burl discovers that it isn’t always easy—or safe—when you go looking for love in all the wrong places.

What lessons does Burl learn on his quest? Does he discover, really, that there’s no place like home? There’s only one way to find out—start reading!

Check out more details and get your copy here:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Author Jeanne Barrack Gets Silly

I caught up with gay romance author Jeanne Barrack at Steamworks bathhouse in Chicago, where we conducted our interview in the steamroom. Jeanne was the first woman allowed inside these hallowed walls, but she convinced the owner to give her admittance so she could do research on just what gay fellas do.

In between taking notes on various sexual positions and acts, Jeanne offhandedly answered my silly questions.

1. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
Depends upon the guest. I love to cook and foreign food is a favorite. So, for Lucrezia Borgia, one of my favorite people, it would be old school Italian dishes from her neck of the woods, Emilia Romagna. An elaborate menu, including: Pasticcio alla Ferrarese. A very fancy dish that would probably take me all day to make. But only the best for Lucrezia. If I want to live to cook another day.

2. Who do you think you are?
Most of the time I haven't a clue!

3. What’s your problem?
What isn't?

4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Why not? I'm pretty sure you wouldn't kick Antonio Banderas out of your bed.[RR: You'd be right].

5. Where you at?
Wherever I am at the moment. And soon I won't even know that.

6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
Sloth. I like my naps. [RR: Me too; shall we take one now?]

7. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
Kellogg's Rice Krispies. It really freaks me out what a weird guy the founder was.

8. When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
Phyllis Diller -- that hair, those bloodshot eyes... [RR: And don't forget the laugh!]

9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
Mine is more round, more firm, more lily-white

10. Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
Oh, boy, Rick, the punchline that fits this question! But, seriously, Bend in the Road, my current release from MLR Press. I like to think of it as Fiddler on the Roof meets La Cage Aux Folles. Two stories take place within the world of a traveling theater troupe in 19th century eastern Europe. The first story has a cross dressing theme, the second one has jeweled nightingales. Get it? Okay, so I'm no Groucho Marx....wait a minute, I am Groucho!

Jeanne's Bio:
I'm a native New Yorker from Brooklyn, married for thirty-odd years to my high school sweetheart. I now live on a mountain top in rural Pennsylvania but will soon be following a wandering star somewhere over the rainbow. I play guitar and studied voice privately with a coach from Julliard. I sing everything from folk music to Grand Opera - in ten languages including Gaelic and Hebrew. My day job involves music therapy for seniors.

I write paranormal, urban fantasy, contemporary, historical, erotic romance, with both m/f and m/m content. My books are published with Loose Id, Liquid Silver Books, MLR Press, and Aspen Mountain Press You can find me on the web hanging out at my blog, The Sweet Flag and sharing the research I've done for most of my books at Jeanne's Guideposts.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Exclusive Preview from My New Horror Novel, THE BLUE MOON CAFE

I have written lots of horror, lots of stuff about vampires, serial killers, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. I have never written a werewolf story.

Until now.

I am hard at work on a new book called The Blue Moon Cafe. Set in my current home, Seattle, it's part horror, part romance, part erotica, and all can't-put-it-down. I hope it will be a draw not only for readers who like my horror, but for ones who like a good love story as well.

Here's a little taste. I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know what you think. Intrigued? Want to read more?

He’s hungry. He eyes a full moon above him through a caul of blood red. Its light is like the illumination of the sun: warming and energizing, heightening his senses. He sees with all of his senses and smell predominates. Before him, the streets of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood stand out in sharp detail, silvery and shimmering from the moon’s light. Crisp; easy to track. And in the air, everywhere, are scents: the smell of beer, cigarette smoke, the pale fishy tang of Elliot Bay to the west, car exhaust. But what underlies all of this is sheer bliss—he lifts his snout to savor it: the smell of human flesh…and blood. Blood pulsing in the bodies of hundreds of carousers out for a Friday night revel, coursing in and out of bars, heedless and unwary, celebrating the beginning of the weekend. Their heat, movement, voices, and—most of all—aromas give him a paradoxically hungry and deliciously tingling feeling of anticipation deep in the pit of his gut.

His leathery black nose quivers, pulling the scent inside him, where he can savor it. His pale gray-furred ears point up to the moon, alert, listening for the sound of one alone, one that’s ripe. He wants to howl, but knows that such displays will draw attention to him as he sits, panting, in an alley behind a Vietnamese restaurant, shuttered for the night. Already a pair of men clad in jeans and tight T-shirts have wandered by and peered into the shadows the alley provides for him, wondering about him.

“Jesus!” One of them said. “Would you look at that? What is that? Some kind of dog? It’s huge!”

His friend had leaned over, further into the alley, far enough for the creature to catch the scent of the man’s sweat underlying the cologne with which he polluted himself. It had made his mouth water, his stomach growl, eager to pounce… But he knows he must be patient. The night affords plenty of time to hunt. Reward must always be balanced by a careful calculation of risk.

“Yeah, dude. I think it’s a German Shepherd…or a Husky. Somethin’ like that. Come on, let’s get to the Cuff.”

“I thought we were going to Neighbours.”

“The Cuff has hotter guys.”

The men had hurried off, unaware of how appetizing they were, how close they edged to their own demise. He licks his chops and stares up at the moon as a cloud passed over, partially obscuring its radiance.

But he has time to wait. Time to let the scents, sounds, and sights of the lively August night ramp up his hunger, his need, making the resulting feast all that much more succulent. There are practical reasons too for his patience. In the wee small hours of the morning (as the song went), there would be fewer witnesses to his impromptu al fresco supper of flesh and blood. The few people out—his prey—were more likely to be intoxicated and careless of heading down an alley just like the one in which he now crouched, waiting, every sense on alert.

Intoxicated…before dawn crept up over the Cascade Mountains, he knew that would be what he would feel. That, and a sense of utter satisfaction.

He circled a few times and lay down beside a Dumpster.


He has dozed off. When he awakens, the air is cooler and the night is quieter. The sounds of traffic, laughter, and voices have diminished to almost nothing. The rush of wind ruffles his fur as he gets to all fours, raising his snout to test the air.

Yes. There are humans close by. Two of them. He smells their perspiration and beneath that, their blood. Their warmth rides to him like a delicious current on the night breeze. He stands quietly, heart rate quickening, muscles tensing, tracking them. They are just outside the alley in which he waits and they are making noises, not talking. But there are definite sounds. He moves forward, silent on black paws, to the alley’s mouth. What is going in, a darkened doorway, is the sound of some kind of human mating. There are grunts, groans, and sighs. He sniffs, calculating: there are two men, one of them older, not as healthy, one young, vigorous.

Boldly, he trots out of the alley and crosses the street to watch from between two parked cars. The men do not even notice, they are so absorbed in what they’re doing and he’s so full of stealth that he might as well be a shadow gliding through the night.

The pair occupies the doorway of a storefront, cloaked in shadow. Human eyes, passing by, would not even register their existence. But he can see them: the younger one, the healthy one, the one he for whom he is already licking his chops, stands before the older one, jeans pushed down to his knees. His shirt is pulled up over his shoulders and behind his neck, exposing exquisite musculature and a constellation of inked skin. Throwing his head back, he whispers rapidly how “fuckin’ good” it all feels, while the older man kneels in front of him, his head bobbing up and down at his crotch.

The act takes fewer than ten minutes. The scent of sweat and semen hang in the air. The older man rises, looks around himself and stuffs himself back inside his pants and zips. He glances around again, although the creature can’t imagine why; there’s no one else to witness anything, and takes his wallet out. He digs in it, pulls out a few bills, and hands it to the younger man, the one with the shaved head, the bulging muscles, and the tattoos. The younger man snatches the money away and smiles. “Thanks.” He stuffs the money into his jeans pocket.

The older man begins to walk away and the younger one grabs his arm. “No kiss goodbye?”

They both laugh. The older man pecks the younger on his mouth. At the same time, the younger man pulls him closer as if to embrace him and reaches back, smoothly pulling the wallet from the older man’s pants. The other man, unaware, hurries off into the night, toward downtown.

“Muscles” counts the money, chuckling, then rifles through the wallet. He hears him whisper, “What story will you make up for wifey about how you lost your wallet?” He throws back his head and laughs out loud at the thought. He pulls the remaining cash from the wallet, extracts a couple of credit cards, and tosses the wallet to the ground.

The monster takes him in with all of his senses. He’s perfect.

He tracks him through the streets, uphill. He is beginning to question whether luck will be on his side when his prey ducks into an alley. He follows, amused that, after all these blocks, he has never once noticed the creature behind him. He watches as he pulls out his dick and sprays a bright yellow stream on the brick wall before him. He can smell the piss, ammonia-like, but it’s part of the man's essence and his heat. Mixed in with the smell of it is also the scent of his semen, left over from his prior business transaction.

Drool runs from the creature's mouth. He can wait no longer. He pounces, and without a howl, without a growl, without even a bark, he is upon him.


The man doesn’t even have time to scream.