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..."