Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting Silly with Mystery/Romance Author Neil Plakcy

I flew down to South Florida to escape the heat in Seattle this week and to interview the charming, boyish, and hopelessly cock-eyed optimist, Neil Plakcy for this blog. Neil balked at being silly, but after I induced him to have a couple highballs and engage in a tickle fight with me, he was all buttered up for my silly questions...and a whole lot more! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink...say no more!

Here's Neil...bein' silly:

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

John Barrowman. (Guest and main course.)

2. Who do you think you are?

You tried to push me a bit too far/And every day sees another scar

3. What’s your problem?

More like a who. But he’s bigger than I am so I’m not naming names. Though his initials are the Jewish American Prince of Darkness.

4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?

Ummm… why? Don’t you have your own wish?

5. Where you at?

In the classroom teaching English grammar. Why you not there, too?

6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?

Chocolate. But sex would be a close second.

7. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?

Life. Really. Since childhood.

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

Sean Connery, from his Robin and Marian days. (Swoon.) The JAPoD would say I look like Quark, the Ferengi from Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?

I also know the difference between shit and shinola.

10. Do you have anything you’d like to plug?

You mean besides John Barrowman? How about my new romance,, from MLR Press? Nine out of ten dentists who chew gum prefer it.

Neil Plakcy is the author of Mahu, Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, and Mahu Vice (August, 2009), mystery novels set in Hawaii. He has been a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for best gay men's mystery (2008, 2009)and winner of the 2009 Left Coast Crime/Hawaii Five-O Award (best police procedural). Visit Neil's website.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

DEADLY VISION is Blind to Sexual Orientation...Or Is It?

Deadly Vision is a mystery/thriller/dark suspense story with a lesbian heroine. One of the things I get asked is, "Hey, gay boy, what makes you so smart you think you can write about lesbians?" My answer to that is that, in many ways, gay men, lesbian women, straights, transgendered people, and human beings in general have many universal feelings, such as the desire for love and acceptance, and the importance of family.

My main character, Cass D'Angelo, is a lesbian, but she's many other things as well and these are just as important as her sexuality: she is a waitress, she is a single woman living in a small town who has all but given up on meeting a soul mate, and most important, she's a mom to seven-year-old Max. It is this last role that's most important to her. But one day Max goes missing during a terrible thunderstorm. In trying to find her son, Cass nearly gets struck by lightning. Unfortunately, she is right next to the tree that does take the hit and a branch comes crashing down on her head, knocking her unconscious. When she awakens in the hospital the next day, she discovers she was a new--and not entirely welcome--power: she can see into the lives of those around her. And worse, she can see into the grisly fates of a teenage girl who has disappeared in her small western Pennsylvania town; she has fallen prey to a pair of cultish killers.

Cass has her basis in the Cassandra of mythology, who was cursed with the gift of prophecy, only to have no one believe her. When another girl goes missing, Cass tries to use her ability to help the families of the girls find their daughters. Only no one believes her: the police thinks she's a kook, the press wants to sensationalize her, and the killers want to silence her...and quickly discover her vulnerable spot: Max.

When Max is taken by the killers, the plot shifts into high gear and Cass meets a local reporter, a woman named Dani Westwood. At first, Cass is wary: thinking the reporter only wants to use Cass to make a name for herself. When she realizes Dani is her ally, the two begin a suspenseful journey not only to find Max before it's too late, but to use Cass's second sight to offer some relief to the other mothers, who need to know what happened to their own children.

I wrote Deadly Vision to be a tale of dark suspense, to keep readers turning the pages. But I also wrote it to be a story about the bonds mothers and children have...a bond that's universal whether we are gay, lesbian, or straight.

BUY your copy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bryce Faulkner: A Crime? Or Just a Crying Shame?

I have been trying for the past several days to sort out how I feel about the case of Bryce Faulkner. Bryce was brought to my attention when I was invited to join a Facebook group whose purpose is to rescue this young man from what they believe is an attempt to deprogram him from being gay. According to the Facebook group (and the website that has been set up on his behalf), Bryce has been placed in an intensive kind of rehab program that will cause him to literally straighten up and fly right.

Now, I don’t know if in the strictest legal sense, this is a crime. But in a moral sense, I think trying to “change” a person’s sexual orientation is most definitely a crime against nature. Speaking as a gay man who fought his own orientation until he was in his thirties, I can say from personal experience that changing one’s sexual orientation is neither possible nor desirable. It’s like changing the color of a person’s eyes. You may be able to throw on green tinted contact lens over blue irises, but those irises will always be blue.

Here’s a little background on the case, taken from the Facebook group, “Friends of Bryce” (now deleted by Facebook):

This group has been created in order to try and find and save a young man, Bryce Faulkner, from the clutches of conservative Fundamentalists who are trying to "cure" his homosexuality and bring greater attention to these organizations that thrust their theological philosophies on vulnerable victims. It is my desire to not only enlist aid in finding and rescuing him, but to discuss similar stories and create a list of organizations to be aware of that perpetrate the notion that being gay is evil, spiritually void and a choice...

According to the website, Bryce has now been missing for over a month. They say:

“Young Bryce Faulkner …was brow beaten, manipulated and economically bullied into “agreeing” to an intervention to “cure” his homosexuality…Bryce Faulkner is a bright young pre-med student who, like many in college, was totally dependent upon his parents for survival. His car, his cell phone, his education, even his job were all connected to his parents’ purse strings. Bryce was making plans to come out to his parents, but before he had the opportunity to carry out these plans, his mother found his email password and discovered communications between he and his lover Travis Of Green Bay, Wisconsin. As any person from the south, especially those whom have a conservative fundamentalist family and has come out of the closet knows, the family can become quite volatile in their reaction to the news. Bryce is no exception to this. In order to manipulate Bryce into accepting "treatment" for his homosexuality, they took away everything and left him the choice of becoming homeless and destitute or going into therapy… The program he is going into is a 14-month program, one of the most severe and intense of these kinds of programs…”

You can read more about the case at Help Save Bryce! website.

This is a situation that makes my heart ache. The only thing I would have said to Bryce, if the above scenario is true, is that he should have told his parents to keep their money, car, cell phone, and funds for education. The strings attached and the cost to a young person’s psyche would far outweigh what he would have lost. No one should have to surrender who they are in exchange for worldly goods.

I have found it very difficult to find any solid information about Bryce or his whereabouts. I don’t know if that’s due to his parents holding him hostage through this intervention group, or if there are facts I just don’t know about the case. But what is damning to me about this whole issue is the fact of Bryce’s silence. In spite of increasing web coverage of the case, there is no word anywhere that I could find from the young man himself. His parents, I understand, have threatened legal action against the people behind the website and Facebook group. Again, I wonder: is trying to rescue a person from a dubious, possibly emotionally and mentally damaging situation a crime? And why won’t, or can’t, Bryce speak for himself?

If you want to show your support for Bryce Faulkner and to perhaps somehow, some way free him from the clutches of those who seek to deprogram him away from what is a very natural state of being, visit the website and leave an encouraging message, and just try to get the word out about what could very possibly be a travesty.

I know that’s what I’m doing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

10 Silly Questions with Mystery Author Dorien Grey

I flew to Chicago this week to ask noted--and highly prolific--mystery author and man-about-town Dorien Grey my ridiculous list of silly questions. Dorien and I lounged near Belmont Harbor, eating Fig Newtons and drinking grape Kool-Aid. At one point, Dorien looked at me, and with tears in his eyes, said, "Rick, you're really wonderfully smart and talented...just these questions alone prove it."

See if you agree with him.

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

Hannibal Lecter would be an interesting conversationalist, I'd imagine. I'd of course serve liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

2. Who do you think you are?

I have no idea, but I've been asked that question innumerable times, usually by people angry with me.

3. What’s your problem?

Other than not being young, not being beautiful, not being rich, not being particularly talented or intelligent, I don't have a care in the world.

4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?

If I could have one wish, I'd keep it for myself. You're a nice guy, but since we're not sleeping together, I see no particular advantage in giving you anything I might want.

5. Where you at?

Third star to the right, and straight on til morning.

6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?


7. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?

Shredded Wheat. Is this a trick question?

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

DUH.....what's my name, Rick?

9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?

Grass does not grow on my behind.

10. Do you have anything you’d like to plug?

You mean other than you? Well, my books of course. And all my blogs and websites, and my latest book, Aaron's Wait, out any minute now.

Do not let Dorien Grey know where you live. He will stop at nothing to get you to read his books, and he won't stop until you have read all 14 (and counting) of them. He will camp outside your doorstep, peer in your windows, and bring you to tears with the sad story of how he is the sole support for his aged mother, father, three aunts, and assorted cousins. He has no shame. Visit the poor man's website, would you?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Win a FREE Copy of My Gay Erotic Romance Book, M4M!

So yesterday, the UPS man arrives bearing gifts (don't even go there; this is a wholesome story). He brought me my publisher copies of M4M, the new trade paperback of two inter-related gay romance titles that had previously been available only in electronic formats.

Both of those titles did very well: VGL Male Seeks Same and NEG UB2 both got rave reviews and both made it to my publisher's bestseller list for the month in which they debuted.

Now is your chance to win a FREE, signed copy of M4M, the paperback that collects the story of Ethan and Brian into one volume. All you need to do is:

1. Leave me a comment below. Say whatever you like, but be sure to include a way to get in touch with you so I can contact you about sending you a book if you win.

2. Become a follower of this blog (it's easy...see the "followers" over there on the right?). And yes, I do check.

That's it. Good luck! And happy Friday! I will announce the winner on Sunday.

Below is a little synopsis of the book and an excerpt from it, to whet your interest. If you want to skip the contest and just order a copy today, simply go to Amazon and pick up your copy for only $12.50.

Two great stories. One great love. Get between the covers with Ethan and Brian, the men whose hearts connected online and offline in the best-selling VGL Male Seeks Same. Follow them on their continuing journey in NEG UB2, where a shocking health diagnosis derails the couple’s blissful romance and teaches them both a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, and faith...especially when it comes to love.

Previously available only in electronic format, these twin novellas of gay erotic romance have now been combined for a paperback edition!

For years, Ethan had observed the hoopla surrounding the Internet and its supposed ease of getting people together for sex, romance, half price books, and even cut-rate psychotherapy, but never thought he would traverse its well-traveled highways to meet a man. Somehow, it all seemed too cheap and easy, almost tawdry. Ethan wanted to meet a man through a mutual friend, at a dinner party perhaps, where the assembled group (all attractive upwardly mobile professionals and artists) were enjoying paella and whimsical cocktails like sidecars or Tom Collins. Their eyes would meet over the olive tapenade and they would exchange phone numbers while waiting for the host to bring them their coats. Or, even better, they would meet in a bookstore (no, not that kind!) where they would both be reaching for a copy of the latest David Sedaris at the exact same moment and then would laugh and insist that the other take the shelf copy first. Or maybe he would discover his intended as he rode alone on Lake Michigan’s bike trail and his future beloved would help him when he got a flat tire. It was a story they would tell their grandchildren.

“Yeah, right.” Ethan blew out a big sigh and hit the TAB key to take him to the first box needing to be filled in. “That’s not the way it happens these days. These days, guys meet online. Period. Jane Austen would be appalled.”

Filling out the application to be a member of was not all that different than filling out a job application. Ethan shook his head. That wasn’t true at all! Filling out a job application was much easier. At least a job application didn’t ask you about your most intimate physical dimensions, or if you considered yourself a top or a bottom, or “versatile.” A job application would never ask if you considered yourself to have a swimmer’s build, or if there was “more of you to love.” A job application would never ask if you “partied,” although they might test to see if you did, if they became serious about hiring you. Filling out paperwork for a job would never require you to tell, in great detail, what you were looking for in a potential mate.

But Ethan supposed all this information, all this nosy prying, was for a good purpose, which was to match you up with other like-minded souls. And Ethan actually adored the idea of that. He was not one of these middle-aged men he saw wandering around Halsted Street dressed in head-to-toe Abercrombie and Fitch, hoping to find a “boy” of no more than thirty years or so.

Ethan wanted a companion, someone he could relate to, someone with a bit of a shared history. He wondered if this route could ever deliver such a bird.

He wondered if such a bird even existed, or if it had gone the way of the dodo.

Buy M4M.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

10 Silly Questions with Historical Romance Author Ruth Sims

Ruth Sims is one smart cookie. I met with the historical romance author recently at her home in rural Illinois to get her take on my silly questions. While simultaneously churning butter with one hand, milking a goat with the other, and dictating her latest novel to her secretary who hid behind a bale of hay with a notebook, Ruth managed to wax witty on my ridiculous queries.

1. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what
would you eat?
I'd invite Jesus because I love bread and he could just keep it coming, along with wine from the tap. Give me enough bread I don't need anything else. Except butter.

2. Who do you think you are?
Lady Godiva. And boy, does it upset the neighbors.

3. What’s your problem?
People who ask dumb-ass questions.

4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Do I look crazy to you? [RR: Well, now that you mention it...]

5. Where you at?
Before the "at." I live in Illinois--home of both Obama and Blago, the best and the worst politics has to offer.

6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
Inasmuch as I'm perfect, I have never had a vice and so I'm not sure what you mean. But if I had to ever have a vice like you less perfect beings, it would be chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Lots and lots. Deep, rich, sweet chocolate. In bars, in syrups, in cake, in cookies, in--- Er... I hear that it's very good.

7. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
Cap'n Crunch because ol' Cap is so cute and sexy. I don't eat the cereal; I just collect the boxes. I have 123,468 of them. I used to have a thing for Mister Clean.

8. When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
On a good day, Ozzie Osbourne. On most days, Alf.

9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you
tell the difference?
There's a difference??? Who knew!?

10. Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
Is that a come-on? I always knew I had the charm and power to turn gay guys around. Oh, you meant writing! The new version of The Phoenix with some text changes and a hot new cover is now available from Lethe Press. And I have a book review blog which could use some more traffic. And there are some free reads:
Short story, "TOM: or, An Improbable Tail"
Short story, "Mariel"

Ruth Sims says, "I was born with a manual typewriter in one hand and Wite-Out in the other, which was very uncomfortable for my mother. Just turned seventy; I can’t remember if I have one husband and three grandkids or three husbands and one grandkid—but I know I have five unfinished manuscripts." For more on Ruth, visit her website.

Monday, July 6, 2009

E-Book Pirates Need to Walk the Plank

So over the weekend, I get a heads-up e-mail from a fellow author telling me to check into an online site where one of my e-books is being offered up for free downloads. This isn't the first time this has happened and it's extremely aggravating.

Why? Because I earn nothing from this piracy...neither does my publisher, editor, cover artist or anyone else who depends on a funny thing called sales to indulge themselves in silly luxuries like food and a roof over the head.

Sites that offer free downloads of e-books are becoming increasingly common and the numbers of books offered on them is staggering. Lest you think, "hey, times are hard, maybe I should look into these places and download me some free reading matter," consider this:

Unauthorized downloading of e-books is stealing.

Never mind that it's illegal. It's no different than walking into that Borders at the mall and stuffing a bunch of books under your coat and waltzing out the door. And I know no one within the sound of my cyber voice would do such a thing.

Would you?

So yeah, one big point I'm trying to make is that unauthorized downloads are theft, pure and simple. But it's also theft from many, many authors who can ill afford it. Many e-published authors depend on their royalties to live and every "free" book taken advantage of online makes it harder and harder to do just that. The more one steals, the less a writer--someone who has taken their time, blood, sweat, tears, and imagination to entertain you--makes for his or her work.

So if you have done it before, don't. And if you're contemplating it, please don't.

It's especially aggravating for me because I don't know how to combat this. Sure, I can write each of these sites and scream copyright infringement and they may remove a particular book, but then two more pop up to take its place.

It's gotten to the point where I am not sure if it's worth it to try and battle the pirates. They're like cockroaches, sneaky, dirty, and amazingly fertile.

So what do I do? Stop writing? Devote several hours a day to hunting down and trying to stop those dealing in stolen books?

Or do I just try and be happy that someone out there is reading my stuff, and not think too much about how they got ahold of it? And even more, try not to think about how much in royalties I'm losing because with every download, there goes a potential percentage that should have gone in my pocket?

I don't want to bury my head in the sand. But I also don't want to take time away from what I love--writing--to play Internet cop.

But I don't know what the solution is. I can hope that this little rant will be read by a few people somewhere who might say, "Hey, I'm going to buy my reading material from now on, because stealing it is just bad Karma."

But there has to be a better solution than that, doesn't there?

Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

10 Silly Questions with Helen Madden

Helen Madden is a devil. No, seriously, just check out her picture. And, if you don't believe that, check out her writing. And if you don't believe that, check out her answers to my silly questions...

1. If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
You mean aside from the famous person? Because I really can't think of any good reason to invite a famous person over to my house unless I'm going to pop them in the oven and make a fabulous roast out of them. I mean really, if I invite someone famous over with the intent to FEED them as opposed to EAT them, I'd have to clean the whole house, and who has time for that? My god, I'd have to scrub the toilets! Ugh. No way. I'd cook the famous person, because lord knows they probably don't deserve to be famous as much as I do. And when I get famous, I am never, EVER, accepting any invitations to dinner. Period.

2. Who do you think you are?
I thought I was Amelia Earhart once, but I get air sick when I fly, so that's out. I could have been Salvador Dali -- I have this thing for floppy watches -- but I can't get my mustache to stand up like his did. Maybe I'm Bugs Bunny? Oh, wait! I know! I'm Rick Reed! Nah, who wants to be THAT guy?

3. What’s your problem?
You! You are my problem Rick, and you know it! If I could, I'd reach through my keyboard right now and bitch slap you! Yes I would! Except that maybe you'd enjoy it, and want some more, and quite frankly that's a relationship I'm not ready to get into. Yet.[RR: When you're ready, Helen, I am waiting...patiently.]

4. If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
Only if I get to define the terms of the wish, sweet cheeks. };D Dear Genie, I wish Rick would turn into a box turtle so I could flip him on his back and...

5. Where you at?
Physically? Mentally? Spiritually? Any one you choose, I'm way ahead of you, pal. Eat my dust!

6. If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?

7. What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
This question is booooooooorrrrrriiiiiiiinnnnnng! Come on, ask me something challenging, like what would I do with my favorite cereal if I found out it could grant perverted magic powers. Now **that's** a good question! [RR: Obviously, Helen has some serious issues with cereal. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Kelloggs has yet to make one for CANNIBALS.]

8. When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
Depends on who I ate the night before. Burp.

9. Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
Things go into one, and come out of the other. Do you need a diagram? I could draw one, but it'd be pretty disgusting.

10. Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
Is question 10 by any chance related to question 9? Again, I could draw you that diagram...

Seriously though, plug these:
FUTURE PERFECT, a collection of speculative fiction erotica, takes the question of "What if..." and goes one step beyond. From the distant future to a mythical past and everything in between, FUTURE PERFECT examines the role of sex in a fantastic world. The stories range from hard science fiction to classic horror and urban fantasy, but through it all runs a thread of explicit sexuality that embraces every orientation and relationship imaginable. Whether it's the force of cosmic creation or the deceitful lure of sin, FUTURE PERFECT takes sex beyond the limits of the everyday to celebrate it on a universal scale.
FUTURE PERFECT is available in print and e-book from Logical Lust Publications.

And if you crave even more speculative fiction erotica, join Helen E. H. Madden every week for the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast. Heat Flash is a free weekly program of erotic short stories, available in MP3 format. If you love sci-fi, fantasy, or horror, you'll lust for them after you listen to Heat Flash! Download episodes to play on your MP3 player or listen on your computer.

Helen E. H. Madden is a writer and artist whose works have appeared in the Erotica Readers and Writers Association galleries and in the "Coming Together" anthologies. Helen produces the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast and draws "The Adventures of Cynical Woman" webcomic. When not working, Helen thinks about sex. A lot.