Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Visit from My Mother

It's only a little after 6 a.m. here in Seattle and the first thing I wanted to do this morning was write this blog, before checking e-mail, before a shower, before breakfast.

I wanted to get this down before it left me (as dreams do). See, this morning I woke up from a dream of my mother. In the dream, we were in this little restaurant called Brickers (it's in the small downtown of my home; it's kind of a dive; but it's good, and the amazing thing is that it has barely changed one whit in probably 50 years). In my dream, I was with my sister, Melissa, and my niece, Becky and we had just eaten. As we were leaving, we saw my mother, just sitting on a chair pulled out by the door. She was very thin and frail, and was wearing a hospital nightgown. I stopped and talked to her. I don't remember what we talked about, but then we had to leave and my mom stood up and gave me a hug. I started out the door and turned around to say, "Bye."

Outside, I was alone and I was walking down the street in front of Bricker's. I was thinking of how tough my mother was. And I gradually started to come awake, still thinking of how tough my mother was and how she was going to beat this...and that she would be well again. She had been sick before and come back and this time would be no different.

And as I was waking and thinking these thoughts, reality intruded and reminded me that my mother had passed away last October.

I lay there for a while, the tears rolling out of the corners of my eyes, but not really unhappy.

See, I got to talk to my mom and hug her again. For just a brief moment, both in a dream and in real life, she was alive again. And that's no reason to be sad.

My son Nick, Mom, and me

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Through the Closet Door Released

This month marked the release of my new e-book, Through the Closet Door. Because this is really just an extended short story, it's being released only in electronic format (for now...these characters are calling to me to write more about them and if I do that, this could end up as a trade paperback novel).

In spite of the provocative cover (which I adore...for many reasons), Through the Closet Door is a story that's near and dear to my heart and almost painful for me to read (thank God the editing process is over). It's a story about a young married man coming to terms one summer with the fact that he's gay. In spite of his emerging will-not-be-denied sexuality, he truly loves his wife and he knows that acceptance will mean a traumatic and painful upheaval of his well-ordered life, and knows too, that self-acceptance has a terrible price: causing those he loves incredible pain.

I know because I have been that young man. Although the physical details of my new story are not autobiographical, the emotions certainly are, so this is one tale that really hits close to home for me.

I hope you'll check it out. It's not my usual fare of suspense and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, but I think it's a really meaningful, poignant, and touching read, whether you've been through what the main characters have or not. To read the whole book, just click on the hyperlinked titles above.

If you need a little more, here's a short excerpt:

Gregory sets down his beer, turns so that he is facing away from Jake. It surprises him and he sucks in a breath when he feels the calm pressure of Jake’s hands on his shoulders, kneading. The massage is soothing, his digging fingers sending warmth through him. He allows his head to loll back, surrendering to the pleasure of Jake’s strong hands. If he could just sit here forever and Jake would continue his ministrations, his problems would disappear and he wouldn’t have to think. He believes that’s the key to this problem: thinking. He doesn’t ever want to think again. He closes his eyes as Jake’s hands move up and down his back, squeezing and releasing the taut muscles just below his skin.

“Jesus. You did have a fight,” Jake says. “You’re so tense. Relax and let old Jake take care of untangling those bunched-up muscles.”
Gregory wants nothing more. This feels so right and so wrong…all at the same time. He shouldn’t be doing this. Reluctantly, he moves forward, so that Jake’s hands will drop from his back. The absence of Jake’s touch makes him long for more, like some deep-seated hunger that is simple minded in its pursuit of satisfaction.
“Sh-h. Listen, it’s okay,” Jake whispers and leans close to Gregory, his chest pressed against Gregory’s back.
Impulsively, Gregory turns and hugs him. He is more surprised by his action than he imagines Jake is. The intense brown of Jake’s eyes is apparent, even in the dark. Gregory feels he could lose himself in the brown, letting it swallow him up like a cold spot in the lake. The feel of Jake’s body so close, the strong arms wrapped around him are like a blessing, a relief after so much denial.
Then Jake is leaning close, and Gregory feels the soft pressure of his lips on his own. Gregory closes his eyes, shutting everything out save for the soft cool of Jake’s mouth on his. He lets his head go back, parts his lips to admit Jake’s tongue and, almost of its own accord, his hand comes up, grabbing Jake at the nape of his neck and pulling him closer. The feel of Jake’s beard against his smooth skin is electric, and Gregory finds himself out of control, lost, as he mashes his mouth against the other man’s, his tongue dueling, the taste of beer and cigarettes and something indefinable and sweet filling his mouth.
An image of Rosemary intrudes, that same image of her standing near the window, watching for his return, wondering what he’s doing. And what is he doing?
Just as suddenly as the kiss begins, it stops as Gregory stiffens, leaning back. Jake pulls away, regarding him out of the corner of his eye, back against the porch swing. Jake is breathless. He lets out a small laugh, husky.
Gregory forces himself to scoot down on the bench a couple of inches, so that their contact disappears. He doesn’t want this to end, yet at the same time, sees no other road open to him. He can’t live split in two. Weakly, he mumbles, “I have to get up early tomorrow.”
“Sure,” Jake whispers, reaching for another cigarette. The flare of the lighter illuminates his face for a moment and Gregory is certain he can see frustration and disappointment in the other man’s craggy features. He exhales smoke and looks out toward the lake. “I understand. You run along now. Be a good little boy.”
“Jake, I—”
And Jake puts a finger to Gregory’s lips, the lips he’s just kissed. “Hey, don’t worry about it, man. Believe it or not, I was married once, too, even have a couple of kids, so I know. I know.”
Gregory is off the porch and swallowed up by the darkness before Jake has a chance to say another word. He stomps through the night, his footfalls hard, firm, and rapid as he heads back toward his own home…and Rosemary. He doesn’t question why his breath is catching and why his face is covered with salty tears...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why I Blog

I've been meaning to talk to you for a while about this, ever since I read Andrew Sullivan's blog in the Atlantic Monthly about why he blogs. Sullivan inspired me and made me think about the rationale behind writing this blog (which is purely its own reward, because while Sullivan gets paid to pontificate on this new world means of communication, I do it gratis).

What really hit me in Sullivan's essay was this quote:

"Alone in front of a computer, at any moment, are two people: a blogger and a reader. The proximity is palpable, the moment human -- whatever authority a blogger has is derived not from the institution he works for but from the humanness he conveys. This is writing with emotion not just under but always breaking through the surface. It renders a writer and a reader not just connected but linked in a visceral, personal way. The only term that really describes this is friendship. And it is a relatively new thing to write for thousands and thousands of friends. "

And right now, we are those two people. I hadn't really considered it before, but blogging is the most direct and purest form of writing I do. My books are edited and polished, first by me (which I also do here), but then by at least one or two more people. A cover artist gets involved and puts his or her spin on my work, giving it a face he or she finds appropriate and/or marketable. Marketing people decide the best ways to tantalize a reader.

None of that exists with a blog. It's just you and me. Sure, part of the reason I blog is a hope that I will tempt you into buying one or more (or all) of my books and stories. But more and more, I have found that I love the one-on-one contact this affords me. It truly is more like a conversation between friends.

I love the freedom of this blog, with no editorial intervention telling me what or how to say something. Aside from the occasional posting of new releases or reviews or things along those lines, I'm free to talk about whatever I want: my personal life, issues that matter to me, trends of the day. And you can talk back. Immediately. I start checking, obsessively compulsively, for responses about five minutes after I post a blog. This factor is what really makes this blog more like a conversation between you and me, between friends.

And for someone who really has little contact with the outside world (I write from home) and my only office mate here is Lily, my Boston Terrier, your comments and the thoughts you send my way mean a lot.

So I didn't write this little blog to echo Andrew Sullivan and his eloquent musings about blogging, but to thank you for being there, for reading and subscribing (you did subscribe, didn't you?)...and for being a friend. I hope I've made you think, laugh, or get a little excited, in whatever way excites you.

I will refrain from closing with the lyrics of my favorite sitcom of all time, The Golden Girls. That would be corny, but you know how the song goes. And I do.

My Longest Love Affair

Okay, I won't kid around after offering up a saucy heading like the one above. My longest love affair has been with books. Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper, I have loved stories and the books that contained them. Before I could read, I can remember begging my mother to read to me (anybody remember Golden Books? The Poky Little Puppy? and the politically incorrect Little Black Sambo?). And as soon as I could use my eyes to form words on paper, I was off and running, a bookish little boy who couldn't get enough. I tore through all the Oz books, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, classics like A Wrinkle in Time and more. I read books that I shouldn't have (what's that third grader doing reading Rosemary's Baby? What could possibly interest a sixth grade boy in Diary of a Mad Housewife?).

I have never stopped loving books. For as long as I can remember, I have never NOT been reading one. I'm a true slut, moving restlessly from one to the next, never satisfied, always wanting more. As soon as I put one down, I'm looking for the next in line. I'm insatiable.

I suppose this love affair has a lot to do with why I grew up wanting to tell my own stories, to write my own books. But this isn't so much about me as a writer. It's about me as a reader. Becoming a creator of the same things I love has just been a fringe benefit.

This Christmas, Santa left me something that upped the ante on my love affair, but left me wondering if I've been unfaithful. See, what I got was an Amazon Kindle. The Kindle is probably one of the most talked about e-book readers of our time, being talked about all over the Internet and even given the blessing of not the Pope, but someone even more important (and perhaps, divine): Oprah. It's a cool little white wedge, about the height and width of a mass market paperback, with the thickness of maybe a pencil. It makes indulging my habit even easier, since its display is very similar to paper (not at all like reading on a computer screen) and it allows me to adjust the type size to align with my aging eyes. With a touch of a button, I can turn pages, bookmark pages, write notes to myself, look up words, and even use the Internet. Yeah, the cool thing about the Kindle is it lets me connect wirelessly to the 'Net...anywhere, anytime. It's also the dangerous thing for an addict, excuse me, book lover like me. With this wireless connection, I can browse Amazon's books, have a sizable sample sent to me, and purchase books...instantly and with NO waiting. A click and the book is on my Kindle, literally within seconds. And I can store hundreds of books on my Kindle, making me feel good about green and sparing the lives of some trees. And maybe the Kindle will help me cut down on the overflowing, weighty issue of way too many books in our house, when they can all be neatly stored on the Kindle. Or at least many of the ones I buy from here on in...

Okay, I have waxed euphoric enough about my new toy and how it only ratchets about the passion in this decades-old love affair. I know I'm starting to sound like Amazon is paying me. And they're not. It's the other way around. I'm buying even more books than ever; they've made it so easy. They should be giving these things away.

But, you might wonder, what about the feel of a real book...the paper, the glue, the cover, being able to curl up almost anywhere with one? Don't you miss that? Pre-Kindle, I used to think I would. I used to think I could never come over to the side of e-books and that this new type of book delivery would die a quiet death. Who wants to read a book on a screen when a book has been pretty close to a perfect package for centuries? I do. I never thought I'd say that I prefer reading an e-book to a real one, but here I am. Utterly convinced. As I said above, it's easier on the eyes, so I actually read for longer periods. Other than the bathtub or other places where I might get the Kindle wet, I can pretty much read it anywhere and the task is easier than with a paper book because I do not have to flip pages, try to hold it open, or otherwise fuss with it. I think there are some things I'll never get over about loving paper books: the smell of them, the look of them lined up in orderly rows, the thrill of seeing my own name on the cover of one hot off the press, and yes, the ability to read in the bathtub. But these advantages don't outweigh the environmental and ease of use advantages of reading e-books.

Why else would I sit here all morning and write this?

Oh yeah, I wouldn't be the shameless publicity whore I am without plugging myself just once. Almost all of my books are now coming out in print as well as electronically (many are already in Kindle format and on Amazon, just search "Rick R. Reed" in the Kindle store). And I have to say, the Kindle owners I've met are just as much book addicts, er, lovers as I am.

I used to think people who said e-books were the wave of the future were full of it. I don't think so anymore, unless "it" is the truth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My BDSM Novella Rates 5 Stars!

Thought I would share my good news. My BDSM novella, Fugue, rated 5 Stars from the excellent review site, Reviews by Jessewave. Hope you'll check out the review...and the story.


Title and Link: Fugue
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher URL: http/
Genre: Contemporary, BDSM, gay erotica (M/M)
Length: Extended Amber Kiss (11 K)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5


Who is the master and who is the slave?

In Rick R. Reed?s tortuously sexy short story, you might not always know. Fugue takes the brave reader into the dungeon playroom of a master and his boy. It?s the kind of place where ?darkness skitters into corners, hiding in shadows where the walls disappear.? A boy is chained to the pipes along the ceiling. Hooded, he can only experience the sensations his master delivers with his whips, fingers, tongue...

But in the boy?s mind, a dream state takes him places even the master could not imagine...places where the established pecking order is turned upside down. As he?s being deliciously whipped, tantalized, and tortured, the boy takes a mental journey on a late-night train where his adventures are even more raw and erotic than what goes on in this very dungeon.

Come along for the Fugue...and answer for yourself the question: who is the master and who is the slave?


Fugue begins with a slave awaiting his master in a damp, filthy dungeon, and the author sets the stage so well that I had no difficulty picturing the sub chained to pipes, shackled, his naked, freshly shaved body shivering in anticipation and dread for the the pain he will endure for love of his Master. This book is made up of layers and aromas, from the decay and mildew of the roach infested surroundings to the smell of the leather hood that covers the sub's head and face as his world is thrust into darkness. I felt what he feels as he escapes the darkness into an alternate imaginary world, riding the el train in Chicago.

On the el we meet two men sitting opposite each other, one young, in his late teens, the other a much older man dressed in leather chaps, boots and cap; the Leatherman is tall, muscular and has a small tattoo on one of his biceps - one word: fugue . The men are total opposites, one is rough, tough and powerful and the other is little more than a boy, affluent looking, with a lean body and beautiful. Their only companion in the carriage is an older woman who disembarks at the next stop and when the men are left alone a metamorphosis takes place as the boy becomes the Master and the man the sub.

The men explore their physical attraction in a darkened alcove of the train. Just when things are getting hotter and they are about to embark on a new, more sexual journey the train stops at the next station at the worst possible moment and our would-be lovers have to hide both their presence, frustration and what they had been doing as a young couple enters the carriage. They hope for deliverance from their unwelcome companions and hold their breath; their prayers are answered as the couple leave at the next stop.

The intensity is maintained throughout the story as our lovers continue their train journey which turns into a wild ride in a scenario that's as sexy as any I have ever read. In both the dungeon scene between the young sub and his Master and on the train there is no let up as the author generously takes us along with him.

This is the second Rick R. Reed book that I have read and I was struck by his delightful prose and spectacular world building as he weaves these two tales on parallel tracks - one is pure imagery and escapism through the mind of the sub as he turns his situation around 180 degrees and becomes the Master, and the other story is more traditional as the slave submits to his Master.

Fugue is perhaps more reality than most of us will ever want to experience. There is not a lot of dialogue, and it's more a sensuous and deeply emotional ride as the slave invites us along. Mr. Reed is an exceptional writer who provided me with an experience that's not just another well written tale. His writing style is unique and he paints pictures of different hues with words, and his worlds are so detailed that you live them. Fugue is not a love story even though the boy loves his Master, what it is, is an adventure into eroticism that is emotionally and physically intense both on the train and in the BDSM sequences, and the train is as much part of the story as the well drawn, three dimensional characters, as it stops at different stations and the protagonists wait with bated breath to see if someone will join them.

The word "fugue" is defined as a work of music with many "voices" based on a single melody, repeated in various ways and Rick R. Reed's book of the same name is a lesson in how to strike the right notes at varying intervals to increase the intensity in a different type of performance

Friday, January 2, 2009

Two New Rave Reviews to Start Off the New Year!

Two New Reviews Start the Year Off Right Yesterday, I woke up to rave reviews of two of my latest e-Books, VGL Male Seeks Same and Ambrose & the Waif, (co-authored with Sukie de la Croix). Both reviews were at the Fallen Angels review site, and both were reviewed by a reader identified only as Whitney (you know, like Cher or Madonna). Whatever Whitney's last name is, I am grateful to him/her for liking my books and giving the first "five angels" and the second, four (that's like four and five stars to regular folks).

Anyway, I thought the positive reviews were a good omen for 2009, at least on the writing front. The reviews are short, so I've pasted them below:

VGL Male Seeks Same (CLICK HERE for more details and to buy)

Ethan is tired of being alone. At forty-two, he has found that the dating scene is for younger men looking for a quick hook-up, but he hasn't given up hoping that Mr. Right will come along. Sitting at home watching TV and eating frozen diet entrees isn't exactly working to ferret out the man of his dreams, though. In a fit of desperation, he signs up for an online dating service, and when his own photograph doesn't produce immediate results, he updates his profile with a "borrowed" picture of a man much more handsome than himself. Ethan's efforts are rewarded by an onslaught of email from interested men, but only one of his new pursuers actually intrigues him. Brian shares many of Ethan's interests, and they soon strike up an email correspondence.

Ethan finds himself completely enraptured by his new friend Brian, and it appears that Brian returns the sentiment. The only stumbling block is the fact that Brian believes that Ethan looks like some sort of male model. The dishonesty of the situation is just killing Ethan. How will Brian react when he finds out the truth? Will he remember their connection and all that they have in common, or will he call an end to their budding romance?

Rick Reed's VGL Male Seeks Same is a lighthearted look at the online dating scene and the games that are played in the name of romance. Sad but true, people expect a "perfect ten" online. This leads to a lot of prevarication, half-truths, or out-and-out dishonesty which in turn leads many people to hide behind digital personas that only exist in fantasy. Mr. Reed has given us a very likeable and believable character in Ethan. He is so normal and so "Joe Average" that the reader can immediately relate to him. Even though this reader was disappointed in Ethan for succumbing to the temptation to lie, I could not help but wish him well. Watching him struggle to make things right after having misled Brian is not only humorous, but it is poignant as well. Overall, VGL Male Seeks Same is humorous and touching and well worth the reading time.
Reviewed by: Whitney

Ambrose and the Waif (CLICK HERE for more details and to buy)

In a series of letters that span six months, a young man and his older lover plan the murder of the younger man's overweight partner. Their affair starts out with assertions of love and devotion; however, over time it is apparent that each man has his own motivation for murder. Love turns to hate, joy turns to anger, and madness prevails.

Ambrose and the Waif by Rick R. Reed and Sukie de la Croix is a story of love, greed, madness, and murder that is told in a series of letters. This is a fascinating and suspenseful tale that features two men who are both more and less than they appear. Mark and Ambrose unfold gradually in the eyes of the reader as the story progresses, and as the characters unfold they also morph from something sweet and beautiful to something dark and ugly and frightening. The effect is both startling and stunning. As the two men write back and forth discussing murder and then pointing blame at each other, the reader is compelled to read between the lines of the story to determine what is in actuality happening. Like a puzzle, each piece slips in to place, and it is not until you finish Ambrose and the Waif that you understand the driving force behind the men's murder plot. This story is riveting and horrifying and utterly enjoyable.
Reviewed by: Whitney