Saturday, June 30, 2012


You know how, when you read a really great book, one you really love, that you slow down when you know you have those last few pages left, simply so you can savor them? The Weight of Silence was one of those books for me.

Filled with heart-pounding suspense, unique, well-crafted characters that were all too human in their foibles and strengths, and a main character (Calli) whom I truly came to love, this is probably one of my favorite books this year. It's my first Heather Gudenkauf book and my testimony to it is I've already bought her other two.

If you want a book that not only keeps you on the edge of your seat, but touches your heart as well, try The Weight of Silence.
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Like Amazon Author Pages

I recently heard that if an author gets 40+ "likes" on his/her author page on Amazon, that "kicks in a sales algorithm and increases visibility."

I was wondering if you might be willing to help me out, take a second, and "like" my author page on Amazon. Let's see if this hypothesis actually works...

Liking my page will take you all of a few seconds. Here's how:

1. Go to my author page on Amazon. You'll find it here:

2. Click the "like" icon on the upper right hand side of the page.

That's it! And I will be ever so grateful.

I'd love to see if anything actually happens when an author gets to 40 likes. Like maybe you turn into Nora Roberts or Stephen King.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Review for CAREGIVER

And the good reviews keep rolling in! Today, I woke up to a lovely review of the book from Carol Zampa on Miz Love Loves Books.

In part, Carol said:

"There is a romance in Caregiver. It, too, is thick with the reality of the era—guilt for one’s fears of sexual relations with a stricken lover, guilt for daring to love another after that loved one is gone, and the effect that the fear of such a mysterious disease has on attempts at new relationships.

"Some authors might consult the medical dictionaries for diseases and ailments to incorporate into their romances for drama, and then here comes a novel penned by a man who wrote first-hand, from his heart, the real thing. Rick Reed’s story is one of those treasures where a fictional story has, at its beautiful heart, a big truth that can only be told from true life. From the soul of a man who was there in the trenches and who used his talent—his gift—and his knowledge to share it with us."

Read the whole review here

In ebook
In paperback

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Review: Cooper's Hawk by Victor J. Banis

Okay, I admit it. I began crying on the first or second page of this lovely, heartfelt, and gorgeously-executed short story and didn't finish until I'd read the very last page.

I'm not proud of the fact that I, a grown man, was a blubbering mess by the end of this story of love, loss, and redemption (yes), but it's a journey I'd take again and I'm certain with much the same result.

But I didn't cry solely because the story is so touching, but because of its artistry. It's not so much that it's a tale of loss but more that it's a tale of true human connection and real love, told in prose so achingly simple and perfect that it transcends the page; beauty like that is worthy of tears. Cooper's Hawk is a small slice of perfection.

Read an excerpt and buy a copy here.
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy Pride

Happy Pride! Good times...many moons ago, in Chicago. Yes, that's me in the harness.

Also with (L to R) Lynda Licina, St. Sukie de la Croix, Corey Black, Rick R. Reed, Chip Howell (This photo of Chicago Pride 1999 was taken by Tracy Baim for Nightlines.)
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Call for Submissions: Thanksgiving Mystery Anthology

The Killer is back!

We had so much fun with The Killer Wore Cranberry back in 2010, that we felt it was time to revisit the anthology. So, we're happy to present The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping.

As in the previous anthology, all the stories contained within must be about murder and mayhem happening at Thanksgiving, and must feature a typical Thanksgiving dish as a vital part of the story (i.e.: turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie). Most must be funny! This anthology is all about making people laugh while enjoying a great mystery short at the same time. The anthology will be edited by Editor-in-Chief Jay Hartman.

And now, the rules:

1. All stories must be between 1500-5000 words.
2. Deadline for submission for consideration is September 1st, 2012. This is a firm date; no submissions after this date will be considered.
3. All submissions should be sent to Jay Hartman at jhartman@untreedreads with the word THANKSGIVING in the subject line.
4. Submissions must be in DOC, RTF or ODT format.
5. Unlike the previous anthology, we will not be publishing the stories individually. Only the anthology will be available.
6. Authors will receive royalty, but not upfront payment. Authors will each receive a share of royalties of 50% of net (net = cover price - vendor commission) based on the number of authors in the final anthology.
7. Characters appearing in other Untreed Reads series or other series not published by us are strongly encouraged (i.e.: Wade J. McMahan's Richard Dick, Beth Mathison's Mobsters or Young at Heart or Albert Tucher's Diana Andrews)
8. Your story MUST have humor in it, feature a Thanksgiving dish and have a great mystery or crime at the heart of the story.
9. Stories not accepted for the anthology may be still be considered for other publication.
10. Previously published works are fine providing that electronic rights have reverted to the author and the story is not currently offered for free anywhere on the Internet or currently published through a self-publishing venue (i.e.: Smashwords, Amazon KDP, etc.).
11. There are no restrictions whatsoever on age, race, sex, sexual orientation, etc in the work.. Just tell us a great story!

Please direct any questions to Jay Hartman at We recommend looking at the original The Killer Wore Cranberry for an idea of the types of stories we're looking for.

All decisions on material will be made by September 15th, 2012. Every attempt will be made to notify all authors of the status of their submission at that time. Please do not inquire about status prior to September 15th, 2012.

This anthology has an expected publication date of October 15th.

This is an open call, and may be reposted anywhere and everywhere.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Notable New Release: PILLAR'S FALL by Ben Larken

Today's guest blog is from award-winning horror author, Ben Larken. Listen as he tells you all about his latest book, Pillar's Fall.

 The End By Ben Larken

The end of the world—it’s one of those subjects that can be irresistible to authors, especially horror authors. We love clearing the board (a.k.a. the world) and starting over with a fresh (albeit radioactive) canvas. Everyone has their favorites. I love Stephen King’s The Stand and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, but I’ve always longed to create my own version of humanity’s last gasps. Then I started writing about Detective Thomas Pillar.

I wasn’t writing Pillar’s Fall for long when I realized this felt like more than a single novel of man-versus-demon. This was an origin tale for a larger scale story. I suddenly saw an apocalypse-level event built around my main character, and I knew I had found my end of the world scenario. This wouldn’t happen via earthquakes, asteroids or even zombies. I wanted a full-out war between humans and demons.

But that wouldn’t happen in Pillar’s Fall. Still, I wanted to foreshadow, and giving the right amount of foreshadowing proved to be a challenge. I considered going the Harry Potter route and mention some vague prophecy, but then I decided I’d rather meet the prophet himself. The following is a snippet of that scene. Tom Pillar goes to his old church for advice, and ends up meeting Nicolas Spire, a character who will be pivotal to the future of the series.


Detective Thomas Pillar had no premonitions of the day ahead. He didn’t know he was about to clash with a sadistic lunatic on Railston’s only suspension bridge. In one gut-wrenching moment, Pillar was forced to make a life-or-death choice that left the entire city shaken and set a madman’s plan into motion. Now, months later, it’s starting again . . .

This time, Pillar’s investigating a string of rage-filled murders, and all the clues point to the most unlikely of suspects—a twelve-year-old named Seth Morrissey. The child seems nice, if a bit lonely, but something malevolent and demonic hides beneath his surface. While Pillar searches for answers, the thing inside Seth prepares for a showdown that will rip Pillar’s life to shreds and pave the way the hell on earth.

As the body count rises and Pillar’s marriage begins to unravel, he races against time to stop the force that’s pulling all the strings. But how do you destroy the demon without killing the innocent child? This is Pillar’s dilemma. This is Pillar’s story. This is Pillar’s Fall.  


The doorknob turned and Tom pulled back as the door opened. The person inside wasn’t someone he recognized. The man was thin and short with mousy brown hair that curled over his forehead. His eyes were deep brown and he dressed in simple overalls, a t-shirt, and work boots. Tom tried to place him, but couldn’t remember seeing him before.
            “Can I help you?” the man asked, his voice thin but welcoming. He held up a coffee mug and took a sip.
            Tom eyed the stranger, then stepped past him into the auditorium. Rows upon rows of empty pews. The man closed the door and approached him.
            “When the rain falls it’s almost like Noah and the Ark,” the man said, holding the mug with both hands close to his chest. “I sometimes wonder if Noah stood inside a large empty lifeboat and simply listened to the raindrops as they started.” Tom turned to him and the man offered his hand. “My name is Nicholas Spire. I’m the replacement.”
            Tom arched an eyebrow. “Wow,” he mumbled. “The elders were fast. I thought they just fired Brighton yesterday.”
            The man smiled, looking strangely delighted. “What can I say? I jump right into the deep end. The moment I was hired I rushed down here to spend some time in my new church home. Some might call it getting the lay of the land, but I think it’s important to experience an empty church building.” He sipped a bit of coffee as he fixed Tom with a penetrating stare. “Can I ask your name?”
            “My name is Pillar, Tom Pillar.”
“Well, Mr. Pillar, let me get you some coffee. You look like you could use it.”
“No, thanks. I really need to go. I just wanted to ask for Brighton’s advice on something.”
            “Can you not ask it of me?” Spire posed. “I’d be happy to help.”
            “I don’t think so,” Tom said. “I don’t even know if Brighton could have helped. I think I’m grasping at straws.”
            “I hate to let you go,” the preacher said, setting the mug on a nearby pew. “It looks like we have a storm coming, and I don’t have much of an umbrella to offer you.”
            Tom squinted back at the man, wondering if he noticed the water dripping off his clothing or the steady spattering against the windows. The storm, for all intents and purposes, was here. “That’s okay. I’ll manage.”
            “I know,” the man said, his smile widening. “I have a feeling you’re good at managing yourself. You’re a take-charge kind of guy—a natural leader. I bet you passed all the tests at the police academy with flying colors.”
            “Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I—” Tom paused. “Wait a second. I never mentioned that I was a cop.”
            Spire’s smile was unshakable. “You’re Pillar,” he said, beaming. “Everyone knows who you are—and I do mean everyone.”
            Tom’s jaw tightened. “Look. That’s great that you watch the evening news, but I don’t have time for games. So if you’ll excuse me . . .”
            Tom was almost to the door when the man’s voice stopped him. “I always think of storms like tests,” Spire said. “Both an individual test and a group one.”
            Tom didn’t want to but gazed back at the preacher, curious.
            Spire grinned softly. “Noah of course passed it, although most everyone else didn’t. They all had the chance. They all saw the boat being erected, and they knew why it was there. But they had to decide if they believed Noah’s crazy story. Turned out they didn’t. They thought he had fallen off his rocker.” He scratched his chin. “They ended up being the ones to fall.”
            Tom stepped away from the door. Why the elders decided to pick this guy as a replacement was a mystery. He seemed to speak in circles. “What are you saying?”
            “I’m saying it’s hard to be the only one who’s right.” Spire turned away from him, moving silently up the main aisle. “It’s hard to bear that burden. It’s easier to live in ignorance with the rest of the world.” He snapped his fingers. “But you have to think, if Noah hadn’t stuck to his guns, would any of us be here today?”
            Tom felt a tremor inside and fought to keep it from becoming a full-blown shiver. “What has that got to do with me?”
            Nicholas Spire rounded the new pulpit and continued up the risers to the baptistery. The preacher took a seat at the edge of the large tub, letting his fingers trace over the water and make tiny ripples. He finally looked at Tom, an uncompromising frankness in his gaze that unsettled Tom to the core.
“Because the storm that’s coming—it’s coming for you.”
Tom started up the aisle. “You’re not the new preacher, are you?”
“It doesn’t matter who I am. What matters is how you prepare for the storm.”
“What storm?” Tom shouted, throwing his hands up in frustration. “I just listened to a madman in a jail cell yammer on about a coming demon war, and now I have to hear you rant about some vague storm on the horizon. What kind of storm is this—another Noah and the Ark downpour?”
Spire didn’t look amused. “It won’t be as bad as that one. It’ll be worse.”
            The stained-glass windows radiated like a strobe light as lightning split across the sky outside. The thunder that came next was a bone-rattler. Every inch of the building shook. “I don’t understand,” Tom said, stopping short of the risers that led to the baptistery. “How? How will it be worse?”
            “Humanity has followed its destiny ever since it was created,” Spire said. “Everything leading up to this point has served one purpose—to get us where we are today, where we can be tested both individually and as a whole. God taught us and sacrificed his son for us. It’s time for us to show what we’ve learned.” The lightning flashed again, and the air froze in Tom’s throat as Spire’s eyes glowed soft blue.
            “Who are you?” Tom asked, his voice small against the crashing thunder.
            “That madman in the jail cell you spoke of,” Spire said, changing the subject. “If he knows about it, others know about it too. You need to be watchful, because they’ll work together to stop you.”
            Tom gulped down the lump in his throat. “Why? Why stop me?”
            “Because they want everyone to get caught in the rain. They don’t want to let any of us, not even one, continue on to start again. They think their leader will protect them while everyone else perishes—and they’re wrong.”
            “Who are you?”
            Nicholas Spire smiled, and his eyes suddenly glowed sapphire, brilliant in their intensity. “I’m no one—just someone who wanted to help you out of the rain.”
            A lightning bolt crackled, converting each stained-glass window into a momentary lighthouse. Tom squinted as the auditorium glared with every color in the rainbow. The lightning passed, and Nicholas Spire was gone. The blue eyes hovered for a split second in the empty air above the baptistery. Tom blinked, and they disappeared.

BUY Pillar's Fall.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The New Yorker's New Cover, June Brides

I was so happy to see this cover from the New Yorker. What a lovely way to celebrate diversity in a month of brides, a month of pride.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

10 Years Together!

For my partner Bruce and me, June and July are celebratory times. Our anniversary is today (yea! we have made it to ten years--a whole decade-- and I see many more ahead of us) and both of our birthdays fall in July (mine on the first, along with our Boston Terrier Lily) and Bruce on the 12th.

Bruce and I were having dinner at a little French bistro in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle on my birthday last year and, as the wine flowed, we talked. He told me how content he was with his life and that, really, there was nothing else he could wish for. I felt the same way. It's nice when you're on the same page. He said we had something special and that one word summed up what we had. I'll get to that word later.

But it wasn't easy getting to this page in the book of our lives. And thinking about Bruce and me has made me think about my other special love, and that's writing. If any of you out there have followed my career at all, you'll know that, lately, my stories have plotted out the course of love just as much as they have the build-up of suspense or horrifying revelations. I can proudly say I am now just as much a romance writer as I am a horror or dark suspense writer.

You may wonder why my writing has slipped off in this new direction. I certainly have. And I think it has a lot to do with Bruce. See, we're happy. We're content. We're settled and in a love that only continues to grow with the passage of time.

I don't know if this is a leap of logic that makes sense but I think that I am more drawn to writing stories that map out the connections made by the human heart these days because I am not expending as much energy seeking out that connection in my own personal life. Now that I have found my one true love, my soul mate, I can open up and write more freely about what draws people together and what keeps them apart. I find those connections fascinating and I don't believe I could write about them objectively until after I had found, after much searching, a relationship that would work for me, one that would nurture and sustain.

Before Bruce, there was a marriage to a woman and a child. Both of those were--and still are--wonderful in their own ways. But trying to live a life that was not my own was not only emotionally exhausting, it was dangerous in many ways. With a lot of heartache, I had to let that dream, which really was never for me, go. I came out in my early thirties, in a world where gay marriage was not really even being discussed yet and the specter of AIDS loomed large. It was not necessarily a good time for a gay man to be experiencing the world and finding himself. But then, when is it ever a good time? But my point is I went through a lot of searching, a lot of experimenting, a lot of bad choices, always in search of love, and always coming up empty-handed.

A lot of those disappointments occurred because the real love I needed--the love of myself--I had yet to discover. I look at my thirties as my true adolescence, with its attendant growing pains.

It wasn't until I was 43 that I met Bruce. Gone were the hopes that I'd meet a special man in some bar or even a gay social group. The era of the Internet was on us in a big way and I placed an ad with the headline, "What's Your Story?" Bruce was one of several who responded, and the only one with whom I connected. He sent me some pictures of himself. He said things in his very first response to my ad that resonated.

I wrote back. He wrote back and we started a daily correspondence that would last two weeks, two weeks before we even laid eyes on one another, even though we lived less than two miles away from the other. We began to get to know each other and we both liked what we saw, what we read in our lines to each other, and what was between them. We had both reached a stage where we were ready for the other. Timing is everything.

We met in person and it was magic.

I won't say we didn't have some bumps in the road, though, getting to where we are today. Nothing really good ever comes easily. But Bruce and I were always willing to talk--whether it was face to face or through e-mails (and now texts and Facebook updates!). The line of communication has always been open and I think that's what's made the difference with us.

It's also made it possible for me to be able to sit back and be more objective about writing romance because finally, at age 53, I finally, finally, have a handle on what works and what doesn't. Until I had that key, I honestly believe I couldn't have written convincingly or effectively about romantic love.

So you can expect two things from me--one, that I will always be in love with Bruce and two, that you will enjoy many more stories of love and romance between two men--because of Bruce and what he gave to me.

Oh, and that one word I alluded to above? The one Bruce used when he said it summed up what we had?

That word was family.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wise Words from MLR Press Publisher Laura Baumbach

Laura Baumbach is not only a terrific writer, she is also the founder and head of the publishing house MLR Press. Recently, in a group post to her authors, she shared some thoughts on publishing m/m romance and why she does what she does. Laura's passion for the genre shines so clearly through, I thought it was admirable and wanted to share it with you here:

I started this press because I wanted our category of romance to have the same fair shake as the rest of the romance community, not to have an income. Money wasn't even in the equation when I started this press with William Maltese, Josh Lanyon and myself as the only authors. I knew I couldn't make enough to live on with my writing. Very few of us can. Ah, to be John Grisham!  

Ten years ago, heck, six years ago, we couldn't get much of anything into print with any of the existing romance houses and to be a respected part of the romance community you had to have print books on the store shelves. So I decided to make it so. As it turns out, it was actually the last available opportunity to get our foot in the door before print went to 'fade to black'. Who knew? The timing was just right. 

And now, we have that foothold. We have our own RWA chapter, recognition from the community, a growing readership and some clout and RESPECT in the industry we inhabit. And we have our books on the shelves. Not all of you may share my original goal, and you don't have to, it's altruistic I know, but it's my purpose. And yes, making some money would be a nice plus. But gaining recognition and respect is the building block to making that happen. 

Visit MLR Press and see how they've grown!
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Rave Review for CAREGIVER

I have had the week from Hell and am only today feeling better (I had a bad bacterial infection that left me in bed most of the week with nausea, fever, and other things that made me want to die). But today I feel I have finally rounded the bend and am beginning to feel recovered.

One of the few nice things that happened this week was an out-of-the-blue, very positive review for my novel, CAREGIVER, from a review site (Seductive Musings) I was not even familiar with. It was nice that it was positive, even nicer that the book resonated with the reviewer on such a deep, emotional level. That's what I write for...

The reviewer, Andrea, said, in part:

"Have you ever read a book that put your life on hold, one that wrapped you so totally in the story and the characters that you felt a part of it, one that you knew your life would be forever changed after reading? Caregiver was that book for me..."

What writer could ask for more?

Read the entire review here.
Buy: In ebook. In paperback. Kindle.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

New Cover for CHASER! Releases August 24

I'm excited to unveil the cover of my next novel, by the very talented Anne Cain. She captures perfectly the essence of my love story that delves into the role physical appearances play in falling in love. Watch for Chaser (from Dreamspinner Press) to appear around the end of August.

Here's what Chaser is about:

Caden DeSarro is what they call a chubby chaser. He likes his guys with a few extra pounds on them. So when he meets Kevin Dodge in a bar bathroom, he can’t help but stare, even if he does make an ass of himself. As far as Caden is concerned, Kevin is physically perfect: a stocky bearded blond with a dick that’s just right. (They met in the bathroom—of course he looked!) But Caden gets tongue-tied and misses his chance. 

When Caden runs into Kevin one night on the el train, he figures it’s fate offering him a second shot. Caden manages to get invited back to Kevin's place for a one-night stand that turns into the kind of relationship he’s dreamed about. 

But the course of true love never did run smooth, and Kevin and Caden’s romance is no exception. When Caden returns from a few weeks away on business, Kevin surprises him with a new and “improved” body—one that fits his shallow friend Bobby’s ideal, not Caden’s. Caden doesn’t know what to do, and his hesitation is just the opportunity Bobby was looking for. This isn’t the same Kevin he fell in love with… is it?
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Friday, June 1, 2012

New Review for A DEMON INSIDE

I was very pleased to wake up this morning and find a message from TwoLips Reviews, saying they had reviewed my gothic romantic chiller, A Demon Inside. The reviewer, Tina, gave the book five stars (or in their parlance, lips)--their highest rating. Tina called A Demon Inside, "...a mysterious and gripping book from the first page..."

Read the whole review here.

Read an excerpt and buy your own copy of A Demon Inside here.

Hunter Beaumont doesn't understand his grandmother's deathbed wish: "Destroy Beaumont House." He'd never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother's wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom---or what---he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, a caretaker for the estate next door, but is the man salvation... or is he the source of Hunter's terror?
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