Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Irresistible Pull of Love


Below is an excerpt from The Couple Next Door, and it’s a scene where two lost souls—Jeremy and Shane—at last unite, under very difficult circumstances. See, Shane has been physically and emotionally abused by the man with whom he lives. Jeremy has been witness to it and has tried to be a friend, to help, to perhaps even be a savior. He’s tried to keep a respectable distance.

But the pull between these two men, as you’ll read, is just too powerful….

EXCERPT
Does my knowing the truth make me an accomplice? Does Shane knowing the truth make him an accessory after the fact to murder?

What, I ask myself for the thousandth time, have I gotten myself into? The answer comes to me in an image: Shane, smiling, the delight clear in his icy blue eyes when he first sees me.

A man. It’s always a man. If I could learn to live without men, I’d be happy, I tell myself.

Good luck with that.

I go into the kitchen, grab some oranges and a couple of protein bars from a drawer. It’s a meager breakfast, but it’s the best I have to offer.

Knock, knock, knock and Shane opens the door. His eyes are rimmed in red. He looks as though he hasn’t slept—like me. He wears a torn and faded navy blue T-shirt and gray sweatpants. I can see the outline of his cock through the loose jersey fabric. My mind wanders away from danger, scaling other exhilarating heights.

He looks breathtaking. All I want to do is hold him, comfort him, and go from there—proceed directly to his bedroom, do not pass go. Why am I thinking of sex at such a horrible time, when he has shared with me the truth of his history? Now is the time for talk, not lovemaking. Yet the lust persists like an itch right in the center of my brain. There’s only one way to scratch it.

It’s like he’s read my mind. He takes the fruit and the protein bars from me and turns away to set them on the arm of a chair near the front door. Then he comes back to me and enfolds both of my hands in his own.

The moment is too charged with something, some kind of electric connection, for words. Talking would break the spell. The silence is delicious and weighted.

His hands are warm, verging on fiery, feverish. He tugs me toward him roughly, and before I know what’s happening, I’m in his arms. This is no friendly “hello” hug. This is an embrace born of hunger, of desperation, of an animal need for comfort. His mouth seeks mine, starving, and the merging of our lips and tongues is like some kind of communion. It’s more than passion. It’s the uniting of two lost souls.

And with the thought of lost souls, I realize why we both feel such a connection. In his famished kiss, I can feel not only his need for me but also mine for him.

We stop only long enough to turn, to head toward the bedroom. Shane never lets go of at least one of my hands. I can almost feel his need to cling, to ensure I don’t escape.

I welcome it.

He kicks the door closed, and then he’s on me like some kind of jungle cat, ripping the few clothes I wore off, scratching me in the process. I will not see the claw marks until later, until they appear red and scarlet on my flesh. I will rub them, treasuring the memory connected to them. Now, though, there is only animal want and the desire, deep-seated, for human comfort that only oblivion can provide.

We tumble on one of the two beds crammed into the room together, so hungry we can’t stop devouring the other. Not just cocks but nipples, armpits, the crooks behind knees, the tender, sensitive flesh of our thighs, the smalls of our backs. Fluid—saliva, come, tears, all flow, and we exchange them. Greedily.
He mounts me. I mount him. We are in such a haze we almost forget the condoms and the lube.

Almost.

Time stands still as we fuck. As we suck. As we wait, breathless, and do it again.

It’s not until I am lying in Shane’s arms later, when our respiration and heartbeats have returned to some semblance of normalcy, that we speak.

I mince no words. “Why did he do it?”

BLURB
With the couple next door, nothing is as it seems.

Jeremy Booth leads a simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.

Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.

So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.

BUY
Dreamspinner Press ebook
Dreamspinner Press paperback
Amazon Kindle
Amazon paperback


Monday, November 13, 2017

A Date from Hell


If you’ve read much of my work, you might have noticed I like to have a little fun with what I call “dates from hell.” We’ve all had them, right? And if you answered no to that question, let me congratulate you. It takes a very special person to get through life without at least one date from hell on his or her resume.

The excerpt below is from my semi-autobiographical love story, Blink, and it showcases the date from hell one of my characters, Andy, has before re-connecting with Carlos, the man he’s never forgotten. Are you nervy enough to share one of your own dates from hell in the comments below? I’d love to hear about yours!

Excerpt from Blink by Rick R. Reed

I have just taken a sip of the expertly-made cocktail, reveling in its briny chill, when I feel someone tap me on the shoulder.

I turn around to face Chet. I smile and think that the picture he used on the site had to be at least a few years old. It’s okay, I think, we all want to put our best foot forward. The guy before me still has the beard and the baseball cap I saw in his profile pic, but the beard that was flecked with gray on OkCupid is now fully silver. He also didn’t wear glasses in his profile picture, but now a pair of wire-rimmed oval frames shield his muddy-brown irises.

Which is not to say he looks bad. He doesn’t. Just older. He’s still cute, with a kind of high-school wrestling coach vibe about him, augmented by his outfit—an Abercrombie and Fitch jersey, cargo shorts, and workman’s boots. I try to hold in any judgment I know I would make if I were sitting here with Jules observing him, about a man trying a bit too hard to look manly and young. We would laugh into our drinks and for sure Jules would say something like, “Mutton dressed as lamb.”

I slide off the stool, smiling, to shake his hand.

He grabs my hand and uses it to pull me into a bear hug, planting a too-wet kiss on my neck, which startles me. I move back and hop up on my stool, give a little laugh. I want to admonish him for being fresh, as my mom would say, but instead I ask him what he’d like to drink. “I’ll get the first round,” I say, holding up my glass. “Since I’ve already started.”

He orders a Bud Lite and sits down beside me. Immediately, one of his hands goes to my leg, just above my knee, and rests there. He looks me up and down, and then does it again. His grin, a little lewd, never wavers. I wonder if a wolf whistle is in store. I begin to have my doubts about Chet but again, remind myself to withhold judgment. He just got here, after all. Give the guy a freakin’ chance!

“Man, am I glad I sent you that message. It’s so nice when they look better than their pics.” He leans back on his stool to check me out again and I have to admit, he’s making me more uncomfortable than flattered. Much as I admired my reflection in my condo building’s front door before heading over here, I am not all that. I’m relieved when the bartender, a blond in a black V-neck T-shirt who could be Alexander Skarsgard’s twin, sets Chet’s beer before him.

“You want a glass with that?” the bartender points to the sweating brown bottle.

Chet winks at the kid and asks, “Do I have any other options?” I groan inside.

The poor bartender just looks confused. Then he smiles. “I don’t know. I think we’ve got an aluminum bowl in the back if you’d be interested.”

Chet shakes his head and reaches into his wallet and throws a ten on the bar, in spite of my having said I’d treat. “Keep the change, stud.”

The bartender grabs the cash from the bar and gives me a look. In the look, we’re both saying something along the lines of “Do you believe this character?” He hurries away, presumably to wait on less flirtatious and younger men. Or maybe to find out what the Jeopardy! response is to the answer displayed on one of the monitors: Arizona's motto, ditat deus, means he “enriches.”

God, I think, the answer is God. A fella I fear whose help I’m going to need to call upon before this night is over.

I turn to the guy I agreed to meet, based only on about a dozen or so lines of type and a decade-old (at least) photograph and try to make the best of things. “So Chet, do you come here a lot?”

He shakes his head and crinkles up his nose, as though he’d smelled something bad. “Nah. I just picked this place because it’s kind of neutral, you know?”

I shake my head.

“Pretty boys. Bright lights. Nothing too extreme.”

I think I see. “Good for meeting for the first time, huh?”

He leans in closer to me and slides his hand up farther on my leg toward my crotch. “Right.” He leans even closer and growls in my ear. “If I like the guy, we can always go someplace else.”

Like your place? I wonder, but don’t say. I lean back and away from him. He smells like cigarette smoke, Old Spice, and booze. I laugh and am embarrassed when it comes out a little high-pitched. I try to get him back on course. “So, where do you like to hang out?”

“So to speak?” He raises his eyebrows and laughs as though I said something filthy and then I realize he’s making my reference to ‘hanging out’ into something lascivious.

Why didn’t I call Jules and set something up? You know, the old saw where she would call a half hour after I meet my date and, if it wasn’t going well, I could say there was an emergency at home and I had to go?

“Yeah. Do you go to any other clubs?”

“Me, I like the leather bars.” He stares at me and I wonder if he’s expecting me to rush in with something like, “Oh me, too! I left my harness and chaps at home.”

“Yeah,” he says. “There’s no pretense there.”

Really? Men standing around in biker gear trying to look butch? Okay….

“What I mean is,” Chet continues, “They don’t have game shows on the TVs, for Christ’s sake. Or run show tune videos like that joint down the street. They’re just about what we’re all here for.”

Although I know what he means by ‘what we’re all here for’ I ask Chet anyway, “What’s that?”

“Come on, Andy!” He rubs a hand over my chest and tweaks a nipple. I pull back. I can’t keep the scowl off my face. Undeterred, he leans forward once more to whisper throatily, “Fuckin’ and suckin’.”

I grab his hand, still on my chest, and return it to him, placing it carefully on his leg and nowhere near his crotch.

“I mean, why do gay men come out to the bars? To meet fuck buddies, right? We might as well be honest about it. I know I am. I like the leather bars because even if I don’t meet a guy to bring home, I can always wander into the backroom and get a little somethin’-somethin’.” He laughs. “You know what I mean?”

I’ve had enough. I think I know this is going to go nowhere. Same old story. I feel a little sad. “No, I really don’t Chet. When I go out, and it’s not that often anymore, it’s to meet up with friends, laugh, talk, have a few drinks.”

“And then go off to your bedroom and do the nasty.”

I sigh. I’m impatient now. “Well, I’d be lying if I said that never happened, but it’s usually more of a thing about circumstances turning a certain way, rather than something planned.”

“I was kind of planning on you and me getting together tonight.” He jerks his head toward the door behind him. “I live just around the corner. On Cornelia?” He says, in a softer voice, “Got the sling all set up.”

I laugh. “We have an optimist here!”

“What? You agreed to meet up with me.”

“And that means I agreed to have sex with you?”

“Well, yeah. That’s what guys go online looking for, right? I mean, what else is there?”

I wanted to answer—romance, companionship, friendship, maybe, just maybe, finding true love. But I have a feeling that our Chet here is too far-gone for any of those responses to resonate. Concepts like love and friendship would be lost on him. I don’t think his thought processes go any higher than above the belly button. It’s kind of sad, really. Like his clothes, I suspect Chet is stuck in a kind of faux masculine adolescence. At the end of the night, when he’s alone and covered with sticky lube and his latest conquest is but a memory, does he ever hunger for more?

“For some, I guess, not much.” Finally, I allow myself to touch him, putting a hand on his shoulder. As much as I am a big old introvert and hate confrontation of even the mildest sort, it’s not that hard to be honest, because I know at the end of what I have to say, I’ll be free. “Listen, Chet, I think you and I are after different things.” I gulp down what remains in my glass and set it back on the bar. “I’m gonna take off. Thanks for coming out to meet me.”

He sneers. “What are you after? True love?”

I get down from the bar stool and stand, facing him. “Yup,” I say and turn to walk out the door.

“Good luck with that!” he calls out behind me. “You’re gonna need it.” He pauses. “At your age.”
He laughs and my consolation is that no one laughs with him. I slip outside into the exhaust-choked air, feeling like I can breathe again.

BLURB
Life can change in the blink of an eye. That's a truth Andy Slater learns as a young man in 1982, taking the Chicago 'L' to work every morning. Andy's life is laid out before him: a good job, marriage to his female college sweetheart, and the white picket fence existence he believes in. But when he sees Carlos Castillo for the first time, Carlos’s dark eyes and Latin appeal mesmerize him. Fate continues to throw them together until the two finally agree to meet up. At Andy’s apartment, the pent-up passion of both young men is ignited, but is snuffed out by an inopportune and poorly-timed phone call.

Flash forward to present day. Andy is alone, having married, divorced, and become the father of a gay son. He’s comfortable but alone and has never forgotten the powerful pull of Carlos’s gaze on the 'L' train. He vows to find him once more, hoping for a second chance. If life can change in the blink of an eye, what will the passage of thirty years do? To find out, Andy begins a search that might lead to heartache and disappointment or a love that will last forever….

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Where Do the Dream People Come From?


Sexy. Surreal. Short. My story, "DREAMBOAT" is available in the Amazon Kindle store for only .99 cents!

BLURB
Do you ever wonder where the dream people come from? Those people who appear in our dreams yet we’ve never seen elsewhere? So begins the story of a young man visited in recurring dreams by his personal vision of a dreamboat. His exotic, Latin ideal man is swarthy, sexy, and ripped and knows exactly the right ways to please our hero. The dreams are surreal and sexy...but what happens when our hero encounters his dream man in real life? A short story by Rick R. Reed, a writer praised by the Lambda Literary Review as a "writer who doesn't disappoint."

EXCERPT
I turned and looked toward the mattress on the hardwood floor. A man lay amid the cream-colored sheets, his dark skin a contrast to the color and texture of the linens. His eyelids were at half-mast, looking both sleepy and lustful at the same time. The lids shadowed the palest green eyes I had ever seen, all the more brilliant in contrast to his dark (Latin?) skin. He smiled and his perfect white teeth and full lips lit up his stubbled face.

He patted the bed, inviting me to join him. I hesitated, the window at my back, feeling a strange sense of foreboding. He certainly looked inviting: his hard, muscular body sculpted from tawny granite and dusted with coarse, curly black hair. He cocked his head. “Come on, sweetheart.” His voice was deep as he sang a lyric from an old reggae song, “The bed’s too big without you.” He reached beneath the sheets and that’s when I froze.

ONTOPDOWNUNDER REVIEWS
"Go in expecting the unexpected and I have no doubt you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Highly recommended."

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

NEW Re-Release! My Erotic Thriller is Now OUT from JMS Books!


Pleased to announce that JMS Books is re-releasing my page-turner, HIGH RISK, in new ebook and paperback editions. WARNING! HIGH RISK is not for the faint of heart, nor the prudish.

High Risk is one of my oddest books because it features an anti-heroine, a damaged woman who's a sex addict. You could reasonably say she brought on the horror that befalls her in the pages of my book.

Her journey is filled with terror, tension, and suspense, but even I will admit Beth Walsh isn't an easy character to like or root for.

Yet I hope that sympathetic and discerning readers will peel back the onion skin of Beth's personality and see her for who and what she is at her core--a damaged soul who's desperate for love, with no real knowledge of how to get it.

I encourage you to come along with Beth on her harrowing journey toward redemption in High Risk. I like to think you won't soon forget her...or her story.

BLURB
A secret sex life... 

A handsome, twisted stranger... 

And a journey into a nightmare. 

Beth Walsh seemed like such a demure housewife. But while her attorney husband was away at work, she engaged in countless encounters with strangers...until she met the one stranger who would change everything--for the worst. Abbott Lowery was every woman's dream; but the monster lurking inside his handsome, chiseled exterior was terrifying. And Beth's behavior is about to unleash the rage and madness inside. High Risk is a story of secrets, tainted histories, murder, and kidnapping--with an ending so searing and brutal, readers will be left breathless.

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Amazon Kindle (if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can read High Risk for free!)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

On Writing Gay. On Being 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 the previous year 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...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..."


Monday, October 30, 2017

A Rick R. Reed Halloween Reading List

It's that time of year again. My favorite holiday, Halloween, is just around the corner.

 For your consideration, I offer up five of my scariest novels and hope you'll check out one (or more!) as a Halloween treat! So, in no particular order, here goes:

A DEMON INSIDE
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s 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, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter's terror.

BUY
From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)

THIRD EYE
Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn't sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls' parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the "third eye."

Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

BUY
From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)

BLOOD SACRIFICE
What would you give up for immortal life and love?

By day, Elise draws and paints, spilling out the horrific visions of her tortured mind. By night, she walks the streets, selling her body to the highest bidder.

And then they come into her life: a trio of impossibly beautiful vampires: Terence, Maria, and Edward. When they encounter Elise, they set an explosive triangle in motion.

Terence wants to drain her blood. Maria just wants Elise . . . as lover and partner through eternity. And Edward, the most recently-converted, wants to prevent her from making the same mistake he made as a young abstract expressionist artist in 1950s Greenwich Village: sacrificing his artistic vision for immortal life. He is the only one of them still human enough to realize what an unholy trade this is.

Blood Sacrifice is a novel that will grip you in a vise of suspense that won't let go until the very last moment...when a shocking turn of events changes everything and demonstrates--truly--what love and sacrifice are all about.

BUY
From Untreed Reads
For Amazon Kindle


OBSESSED
Voices slam through the corridor of his wounded mind. The words of his dead sister cry out. His parents' taunts fill the silent room where he sits and waits--waits for the murderous rage, filling him with strength, driving him to kill, to touch the cold flesh, taste the warm blood--to feel alive again…

A witness has seen him, but his killing only turns her on and now she wants to protect him. His wife suspects him, but the private detective she hired cannot stop him. Joe MacAree fears nothing--except that he may no longer be human. The thirst that drives him is relentless, moving deeper and deeper into his own shattering, private realm, where each murder is a delicious new gift of life, where revulsion is beauty, and the obsession will never let him go.


"A harrowing ride through cutting-edge psychological horror, this one's got a vicious bite. Rick R. Reed's Obsessed is a twisted nightmare." - Douglas Clegg, bestselling author

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From Untreed Reads
For Amazon Kindle

DINNER THE BLUE MOON CAFE
Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon Café. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!

As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.


BUY
From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Joe Cosentino Drops By to Talk About His New Release: DRAMA DETECTIVE

Interview with Nicky Abbondanza, the leading character in Joe Cosentino’s Drama Detective,
the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel


Welcome, Nicky. Thank you for talking with us today about the fifth novel in Joe Cosentino’s popular Nicky and Noah mystery series.
I’m happy to get sprung from the book. My long legs need a stretch.

You’re such a popular character with MM and mystery readers. Who do you think should play you if there is a Nicky and Noah Mysteries television series?
Matt Bomer, and Neil Patrick Harris would be terrific as Noah. Joe Manganiello would be perfect as my brother, Tony (or any role). Joe wants to play Martin Anderson, my department head and best friend. Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, they should do The Nicky and Noah Mysteries. Come on, TV producers, make Joe some offers!

Why did Joe Cosentino create this series?
Joe combines his past as a professional actor, present as a theatre college professor/department head, infatuation with mystery novels, and wild sense of humor in this series. Even at a young age, Joe suspected that Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson were more than roommates, which we have a lot of fun with in this fifth novel. There aren’t a lot of gay cozy mysteries out there. Joe changed all that.

For anyone who hasn’t read them (and they should!), tell us about the Nicky and Noah mysteries.
The Nicky and Noah mysteries are set in an Edwardian style university founded originally by a gay couple (Tree and Meadow) whose name the university bears: Treemeadow College. The clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning, and at the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza (that’s me!) and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver (the love of my life!). In the first novel, Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of 2015), college theatre professors are falling like stage curtains (while I direct the college play production), and Noah and I must figure out whodunit and why. In the second book, Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention 2016), I’m directing the college’s bodybuilding competition, and bodybuilding students and professors are dropping like barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Noah and I must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as I direct a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are our both sets of our parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us. (The first three books are also available as wonderful audiobooks!) In Drama Luau, I’m directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort. Noah and I need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Our department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In each book Noah and I eavesdrop, seduce, role play, and finally trap the murderer, as pandemonium, hilarity, and true love ensue for a happily ever after ending—until the next book.

Has the Nicky and Noah mystery series been well received so far?
They liked me. They really liked me! Reviewers called the books hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit with a surprise ending. One reviewer wrote it was the funniest book she had ever read. Who am I to argue? Noah and I are an adorable couple. The awards have also been amazing.

What do you like about Treemeadow College in Vermont?
Treemeadow College is the perfect setting for a cozy mystery with its white Edwardian buildings, low white stone fences, lake and mountain views, and Cherry wood offices with tall leather chairs and fireplaces. It’s also very romantic. Just ask Noah.

Tell us about the storyline in Drama Detective. But no spoilers please!
I’m directing and ultimately starring as Sherlock Holmes opposite Noah as Dr. Watson in a Sherlock Holmes musical premiering at Treemeadow College, Is Holmes a Homo?, on the road to Broadway. When cast members begin toppling over like hammy actors at a curtain call, Noah and I use our drama skills to figure out who is lowering the street lamps on the actors before we get half-baked on Baker Street. As usual it’s a laugh riot, and also a good puzzle with an ending you won’t see coming. You’ll love it more than an anti-gay politician loves men’s public bathroom stalls.
Joe describes you as tall, handsome with a Roman nose and dark hair, muscular, and having an enormous manhood. Does that help you solve the murders?
It doesn’t hurt. Well, maybe it hurts Noah. Hah. I have to flirt my way into some places to get certain information, so I guess it’s a huge asset (no pun intended). Even more, however, Noah and I use our theatre skills, including playing other people, to get clues. And as in the third and fourth novels, we get some help from Martin and Ruben, joining in with hysterically funny role plays to nab the killer.

Your and Noah’s parents are also in the latest book.
I think our parents are absolutely hilarious. I love Noah’s mother’s fixation with taking pictures of everything, and his father’s fascination with seeing movies. I also love how Noah’s father is an amateur sleuth like me. As they say, men marry their fathers. Also, both sets of our parents accept their son’s spouse as part of their family. Kudos to them.

Who is your favorite character in Drama Detective?
Noah of course. He is kind, gorgeous, sweet, sexy, and the perfect Watson to my Holmes. He is also genuinely concerned for others, and will do anything to solve a murder mystery. Finally, Noah is a one-man man, and I’m proud to admit that I’m the man. Of the newbies in book five, my favorite character is Mark Melody, the creator of the Sherlock Holmes musical who talks in musical theatre talk and has a wild crush on Corey Sundance a young stud actor member of the company.

Who is your favorite couple in the book, next to you and Noah?
Ruben and Martin are based on Joe and his spouse. I love Martin’s paternal instincts toward Noah and me, sense of theatricality, and his inquiring mind. I also like how Ruben keeps Martin in line. Finally, it’s wonderful to see an older couple so much in love (uncommon in the entertainment field), and how they can read each other like a book (no pun intended). They’re two terrific talented guys. (Try saying that three times fast)

Which character do you like the least in book five?
I started out not liking handsome Rev. Tommy Hawk for his discrimination against  Noah and me under the guise of Hawk’s “religious freedom.” However, when things took a turn in the story, my feelings changed.

Which character is the most misunderstood?
Corey Sundance is a handsome, muscular, and sexy young rebel with a cause. His inner secret makes him behave in a self-centered manner, but he’s masking the heart of a frightened child yearning for love.

Which character was the sexiest?
Noah would say Tony, my macho, muscular, Italian-American, younger brother.

How does Joe find the time to be a college professor/department head and do all this writing?
He writes in the evenings with me helping him along in his head. Being a little tired helps loosen his creative energies and flow. Plus, his spouse has gone to bed, so the house is quiet. It’s a great outlet for Joe after a long day. Now you know why there are so many murders in the Nicky and Noah mysteries. Hah.

Do you think gay fiction is important?
Of course! Go to a mall and look at the row of movie posters without any LGBT characters in them. Take a look at so many of our political and so called religious leaders who raise money and gain power by demonizing LGBT people and trying to take away civil rights. I mourn for the young gay kids who consider suicide. So I’m proud of the Nicky and Noah series with its LGBT leading characters and straight supporting characters. Besides being loved in the gay community, the series has a tremendous amount of crossover appeal with straight people. Everybody likes a clever mystery, a sweet romance, and a good laugh.

Tell us about Joe’s Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press.
I’m not in them, but here goes anyway. Joe created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. In Paper Doll Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, Jason Apollo. In Satin Doll Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a flirtation with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, enchanted by her gorgeous co-star Peter Stevens, and faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a television mystery series and life imitates art. Since the novels take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s agent and best friend are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.

Joe’s Dreamspinner Press novellas (In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, and The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland) were so well received as books and audiobooks, winning various awards. What do you say to people who loved them and might be surprised that the Nicky and Noah mysteries are quite different?
I’d say variety is the spice of life and ask them to give the Nicky and Noah mysteries a chance. As my mother said to me as a kid about sardines and pea soup, “Just try it, you may like it.” Okay, bad analogy. I still hate them.

And how about Joe’s New Jersey beach series?
NineStar Press published Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, and Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings about handsome Cal Cozzi’s gay beach resort on a gorgeous cove. I spent my summers as a kid on the Jersey Shore, so it’s a special place for me. The first novel was a Favorite Book of the Month on The TBR Pile site and won a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention. I love the intertwining stories so full of surprises. Cozzi Cove is a place where nothing is what it seems, anything can happen, and romance is everywhere. Some reviewers have called it a gay Fantasy Island.

Back to Drama Detective. How can readers get their hands on Drama Detective, and how can they contact you?
The purchase links for Drama Detective are below. Readers can contact me through Joe’s web site. I’m always in his head. I guess I’m the man inside the man. And we both love to hear from readers!

Thank you, Nicky, for sharing with us today.
It is Noah’s and my joy and pleasure to share these stories with you. So put on your Sherlock Holmes coat and hat, grab your pipe and program, and take your front row seat. The curtain is going up and the game is afoot in Drama Detective!


DRAMA DETECTIVE (a Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
purchase links:
http://myBook.to/DramaDetective
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/739440
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drama-detective-joe-cosentino/1126899713?ean=2940154485842

EXCERPT

The Victorian, lamppost-lined London street was forebodingly dark. Prostitutes in low-cut, shabby dresses dug their heels into the dirty gray pavement. A heavy-set man in an expensive suit signaled to an older, small man with a knowing grin. The jeweler locked up his shop and hurried down the street. One of the prostitutes raised a dagger to the jeweler’s throat, grabbed his bag, and disappeared into a smoky alley, as the prostitute transformed into a well-dressed man with a long nose and beady eyes. Another prostitute screamed. The inspector and his men hurried onto the street.

Suddenly, a honky-tonk piano introduction led each of them to face front and belt out, “Acting Butch on Baker Street,” a rousing opening number featuring spinning members of the underworld and a Scotland Yard kick line. At the conclusion of the number, everyone ended with a frozen smile, looking like a pack of right wing politicians entering a ghetto.

“Good energy, everyone! Let’s take a ten-minute break,” I called out from my front row center seat in the audience.

I’m Nicky Abbondonza, Associate Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, a quaint college in Vermont named after its benefactors, couple Harold Tree and Jacob Meadow. Or as we call them, Treemeadow’s Adam and Steve. Since you can’t see me, I’ll tell you I’m tall, pretty muscular, courtesy of Treemeadow’s gym and my insomnia, with dark hair, green eyes, and a Roman nose. If you’ve read my other four stories, you know I generally wear a dress shirt, blazer, and slacks. You’ll also know that murder is on the menu as are an assortment of characters (and I mean characters)—suspects and victims—as I try to figure out whodunit. So let’s get the game afoot. Ah, speaking of a foot, you newcomers should know another little tidbit of information. Well, not so little actually. I’m referring to my penis. It would make a porn star blush. My nickname in the gym locker room back home in Kansas was “Donkey Donza.” Yes, I’m from Kansas, a true friend of Dorothy’s.

Back to the story. Since it’s summertime, our cozy New England campus is full of multicolored flowers, babbling brooks, warm sunshine, and peace and quiet. So quiet that my department head and best friend, Martin Anderson, Professor of Theatre Management, decided to transform our college theatre into a professional summer stock venue for the tryout of a new Sherlock Holmes Broadway bound musical. True to Martin’s nature, he also took on a role in the play, Langdale Pike (society informer).

Martin, short, thin, bald, and somewhere between seventy and six-feet-under, stood downstage center (meaning closest to the audience for you non-thespians) in his Victorian gray suit. “Nicky, do you think I should act more like a gossip in the opening number?”

“You couldn’t act more like a gossip if twenty closet-gay actors from Hollywood left their beards and asked you for advice on whom to date,” Martin’s husband said sitting third row house left.

I’ll explain. Though Martin is a terrific department head and professor, his brainstorms generally end up as headaches for Martin’s long suffering spouse, Ruben Markinson, who Martin convinced to be our show’s producer. To raise needed funds for this venture, Ruben, the CEO of a gay rights organization, interviewed Broadway chorus boys about their peccadilloes, and then hit up anti-gay Republican legislators to buy shares of the show (and their silence). Next, we held auditions in New York City and found our cast. When our budget had been spent, Ruben (having been bitten by the acting bug in our previous capers) agreed to be understudy for one of the characters in the show, Porky Johnson (agent in the criminal underworld). The rest of the understudies (including yours truly understudying Sherlock Holmes), as well as the ensemble, designers, and technical crews, all came from our college population (including the kids whose parents didn’t want them loafing around at home over the summer).

Like all of us who love Martin, Ruben is well aware of Martin’s “inquisitive” nature. Ruben called out to his husband, “Martin, you and gossip go together like an HMO customer service representative and the words, ‘not covered.’”

“No comments from the peanut gallery,” Martin replied from the stage.

Ruben glared over the laptop on his knees. “Don’t make me fire you, Martin.”

“You try and I’ll bring you up on charges with Equity.”

“Touché, Martin.” Ruben blew him a mime kiss.

Martin caught it and placed it against his heart.

The true sanctity of marriage.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Do You Catfish?


Ever been tempted to be someone else online? It’s easy, all you need to do is make up an alluring profile, grab some pics off the Internet, and voila! You can be the person you always dreamed of being.

Or at least that’s what the hero of my latest book, M4M, thinks….

Read on for a sample of my latest, a romance told in the form of three separate-but-connected-stories that chronicle, over the years, the journey toward love and happiness of one man, Ethan Schwartz. Hopefully, your interest will be piqued as you read this passage from the first installment in the trilogy, VGL Male Seeks Same.

See how Ethan’s venture into online dating could land him either in the arms of a hunky stud…or in very hot water…in M4M.

BLURB
Finding and keeping love can be a challenge in the modern world of blogging, social media, and online dating, as one man will learn in this trilogy.

VGL Male Seeks Same
Poor Ethan Schwartz. At forty-two, he’s alone, his bed is empty, and his HDTV is overworked. He’s tried bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find each other, but it never works out. Maybe he should get a cat?

But his life is about to change…

NEG UB2
Poor Ethan. He’s received the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s HIV positive. Until today his life was perfect, with a job he loves and Brian, who could be “the one.” The one to complete him and fill his lonely life with laughter, hot sex, and romance.

But Ethan’s in for another shock. Could Brian have infected him?

STATUS UPDATES

Alone again, Ethan wonders if life is worth living, even with a cat. When an old nemesis sends a Facebook friend request, Ethan is suspicious but intrigued. It seems this old acquaintance has turned his life around, and the changes might hold the key to Ethan getting a new lease on life… and love.

EXCERPT
Ah, but in cyber space one could do something that one could not in the real world…and that was to be someone else. Ethan glanced around his little studio apartment, almost as if someone was hiding and able to read his mind and to see what he was contemplating. Don’t go there, Ethan…

He glanced at the screen of Chicago men in front of him and their manly, athletic faces and bodies, and knew he could never compete. A little voice in the back of his mind, one that sounded suspiciously like his dear departed mother, told him, “Stop being so hard on yourself, boy. Your self-esteem is lower than a snake’s belly. Why, if no one is talking to you, you just have to get up some gumption and make the first move. Show some initiative!”

Ethan had never listened to his mother, even when she was alive, and saw no good reason to start now. What good would actually writing to some of these guys do him? If they answered at all, they probably would tell him, with varying degrees of politeness, to get lost. It was the same thing that had happened to him in the bars, over and over, if he’d ever had the audacity to try and strike up a conversation with a stranger.

The thought kept returning, nagging at him like a mischievous little boy. Why not? Why not just create a whole new persona? Have some fun! Be the man you always dreamed you could be…and then see who you reel in. Of course, you’ll never actually meet any of these people, but the responses might be amusing, at least more amusing than watching DVR-recorded episodes of Judge Judy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire. What would be the harm?

And just like that, Ethan put fingers to keyboard and conception, like a sperm penetrating the walls of an egg, began on Ethan’s new persona. He snickered to himself as he typed in the URL for Hot or Not, where he knew the face of his new persona was just waiting for him to come along, click on it, save it to his pictures file, and take the first step in becoming a whole new man.

This was going to be fun! And again, Ethan thought, what harm could possibly come from it?

BUY