Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Submission: SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES

Just submitted my latest novel, SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES (a love story with science-fiction overtones) to Dreamspinner Press. Wish me luck! Here's a little taste from the first chapter:

EXCERPT
If he couldn’t sleep, he might as well take the opportunity to go outside, enjoy the warm breezes and what appeared to be a deserted beachfront.

He dressed quickly and silently—even though he knew he needn’t have bothered since Cole was beyond waking—in a pair of cut-offs and a Dr. Who T-shirt. He slid his feet into flip-flops, grabbed his keys off the dresser, and headed for the front door.

Other than the steady whoosh of traffic on Sheridan Road to the west, the night was quiet. Rory wished he’d checked the time before heading out, but judging from the silence all around him, he’d guess it was the wee small hours of the morning, maybe two or three a.m. This was Chicago, after all, there was usually someone stumbling around, even in blackest night.

But his street was empty. The tree branches and their leaves cast shadows on the silvery pavement beneath his feet because of the moon’s brightness. His footsteps, even in flip-flops, sounded extra-loud as he headed east, toward the beach.

At the end of the street, there was a cul-de-sac where cars could turn around, and beyond this, a set of stone steps that led down to the sand. Rory stood at the top of the steps looking out at the sand and water, the pile of boulders just off-shore, that Cole promised he’d swim out to the next day with Rory. A white lifeguard chair, empty, sat crookedly in the sand, leaning as it sunk to the left. The moon shone brilliantly on the water, laying a swath of golden light upon its gently undulating surface. If Rory looked at this light just right, perhaps squinting a bit behind his glasses, he could almost imagine the light rising up, like an illuminated fountain, from the water’s surface.

He took the steps quickly and was on the sand in seconds. He kicked off his flip-flops and sighed when he felt the cool sand squishing up between his toes. He looked around himself once more, paying particular attention to the concrete that bordered the beach, to assure himself he had the gift of a city beach all to himself.

And he did! He did.

He tore off his shirt, set it down, and then removed his glasses, placing them on top of the T-shirt. With a little cry, he dashed toward the water, a small laugh escaping his lips. He stopped briefly at its edge, gasping at the icy cold of the waves, even this late in the summer, as they ran up to meet him, lapping and biting at his toes. And then he took a deep breath, waded in up to his knees, and paused to consider if he really wanted to go whole hog.

What the hell?

He waded in a little farther, until the bottom dropped out from under him suddenly and instead of the water reaching just to the top of his thighs, hit him just above his belly button. It was freezing! And Rory knew there was only one solution: get full immersion over as quickly as possible.

He raised his hands over his head and dove as a wave rolled in toward him. The world went silent as he went under, the murky depths of the water almost black. He held his breath as long as he could, swimming outward. His mother’s voice erupted in his head, scolding, telling him to go back to shore, because it was late and there was no one around. What if he, God forbid, got a cramp?

Rory shushed his mother and continued to swim toward Michigan or whatever was directly opposite, hundreds of miles away. He swam until he felt his lungs would burst.

And then he surfaced, shaking the water from his hair. The first thing he noticed was how full immersion had done the trick—he wasn’t exactly warm, but the water temperature was at least bearable.

The second was the light on the water. It had changed to a strange pale radiance, a shifting, silvery opalescence that, in addition to his recent underwater swimming, left him nearly breathless.

He trod water and hazarded a glimpse up at the sky, expecting to see the moon and perhaps that bank of clouds that had managed to elude him earlier.

But the moon was gone. Or at least hidden.

Is this real?

Rory couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He actually slipped under for a helpless moment because both his arms and feet stopped moving. He came back up quickly, sputtering and spitting out lake water, gaze fixed on the sky. “What the fuck?” he whispered.

Was what he saw natural? Like, as in a natural phenomenon? What was above him appeared almost like some membrane, formed from gray smoky clouds, but alive. It rose up, mountainous, into the night sky. As he peered closer at the form, it seemed to almost breathe, to expand in and out. And within the gray smoke or fog, figures seemed to be spinning. They were black and amorphous, almost like shadows brought to life. The fact that the cloud—or whatever it was—had an otherworldly silvery light from below didn’t make the figures any more distinctive.

This can’t be real, Rory thought. I’m back at the apartment right now, sound asleep next to Cole. That pizza really did a number on me. Rory knew his notions were simply wishful thinking.

The membrane or cloud or whatever one wanted to call it was as real as the moon had been above him.

The black figures, spinning, began, one-by-one, to drop. They were too far distant for Rory to hear any splashes, but he could plainly see that some of them were disconnecting from the membrane-or-cloud-or-whatever-one-wanted-to-call-it and plopping down onto the placid surface of Lake Michigan.

Because of its immensity, Rory was unable to determine if the thing above him was close by or distant. It could have been hovering directly overhead. Or it may have been as far away as downtown or even the western edge of Indiana. Perhaps it was some industrial disaster thrown up by the city of Gary? Perhaps it was a military experiment, a new kind of aircraft?

And, of course, Rory, ever the science fiction geek, came to the last supposition almost reluctantly, because it terrified him—perhaps it was some sort of alien vessel, a UFO in everyday parlance. The kind of thing Rory had both dreaded and hoped to bear witness to almost all of his young life.
He stared at it in wonder, lost for a moment in time. He hoped that he would gain more clarity on what the thing was, but the longer he stared, the more confusing it became. Was it some freak of nature? Some hitherto unseen cloud formation? Was it really a spaceship beyond his or anyone’s really wildest imagination?

Whatever it was, he was certain it was heating up the water around him, which led him to the conclusion that it must have some powerful energy to heat up a body of water as large as Lake Michigan. What had been cold now felt almost as warm as bathwater.

And that scared Rory just as much as this monstrously huge thing in the sky above him. What if the water continued to heat up? What if it reached some boiling point and he would be poached alive in it?

What if the black, shadowy beings he witnessed spinning within the mist meant him harm as they dropped from the cloud? What if they were, right now, swimming toward him, all bulbous heads and soulless gray eyes?

He shuddered, in spite of the warmth of the water around him. He leveled himself out, lowered his face to the water, and began the fastest crawl he could manage to shore, which suddenly seemed almost impossibly far way.

And a new fear seized him as he paddled, panting, through the dark water—what if something as prosaic as drowning claimed him? Would they ever find him?

What would Cole do when he woke at last, to find himself in bed and alone? What would he do as the sun rose, lighting up their little love nest, and there was no Rory?

Rory didn’t want to see the thing anymore. Just looking at it induced in him a feeling of dread so powerful, it nauseated him. So he kept his face in the water, only turning his head to the side every few strokes, to grab a breath of air, until he neared the shore. He squatted low, panting hard, in the shallows and at last hazarded a glance up at the sky.

It was empty.

Save for a muted orange glow from light pollution and the moon, now distant, there was nothing in the sky. Rory crawled from the water and plopped down on the damp sand at the lake’s edge.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Brokeback Mountainish Story with Vivien Dean: FAMILY OBLIGATIONS


I have long been haunted by one short story, E. Annie Proulx’s beautiful, powerful, and tragic “Brokeback Mountain.”

I remember reading the short story many years ago just after it was published originally in the New Yorker magazine. It stayed with me through all the years, partly because Proulx’s prose is so spare, yet poetic, but also because the story, at its core, could have been mine, since I too was a closeted, married gay man, filled with secret longings and wearing a mask for the rest of the world.
My story (co-written with the fabulous Vivien Dean), “Family Obligations” has a lot in common with ‘Brokeback,’ even though it’s totally different.

It too tells a story about two men who fell in love while young and vibrant, and then, because of their own and society’s constraints, were kept apart through the years. Yet, their love was so strong that they could never manage to break the hold they had upon each other.  

BLURB
Tate D’Angelo always thought he knew who his father was: beloved doctor, devoted husband and father…. Everyone at the funeral shared the same glowing stories of a kind soul. So when his father’s old college buddy, Randy, approaches him after the service, Tate expects to hear echoes of the same.

Instead, he gets a lifetime’s worth of letters that tell a different tale and cause him to view his father—and his family—in a whole new light.

The truth, about a secret romance kept buried for decades, astonishes him. Overwhelmed by grief and confusion, Tate’s unsure if he can bear learning how the lives of two men entwined over the years, but he reads on anyway, discovering more to value, more to respect, and most importantly, more to love about the man who raised him. 

BUY

EXCERPT
It wasn’t until three days after the funeral that Tate thought again of the strange encounter with his father’s old friend outside the funeral home.
The past few days, what with the funeral and keeping his mom company and taking care of his own family obligations, had left Tate drained. He had fallen into bed each night exhausted—and quick, heavy, and dreamless sleep followed.
But today was Friday, and Kelly had taken Claire out to a park in Coconut Grove for a play date. Tate had the house to himself and wouldn’t have to return to his veterinary practice until Monday.
He sat down at the iMac they had set up in the study and plugged in the thumb drive Randy had given him at the close of his dad’s viewing hours the other night.
A PDF came up, and the computer asked if he wanted to open it. “I want to open it, of course. Come on!” he whispered to the computer. He chuckled. He’d inherited his great well of patience from his dad.
There was no explanation, no preface.
There was simply the first letter. The handwriting was his dad’s. Even if the penmanship had gotten sloppier over the years, his backward-slanting script was still recognizable.
Tate wasn’t sure what to expect—or why this man Randy had chosen to share such personal items with him. He figured there was only one way to find out.
He began reading.

June 5, 1973
Dear Randy,
Well, kid, it’s been three days, fifteen hours, and twenty-seven minutes since we graduated and I last saw you. But who’s counting?
I don’t know how often I’ll be able to write, what with starting medical school and planning for my wedding. But I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and, oh hell, how very much I miss you.
I know this is hard. I know you wanted something else. But it just can’t be. The world doesn’t look kindly on two men as a couple, especially if one of them plans on being a pediatrician. And besides, as I’ve told you, I love Sharon in my way. She’s a great girl, and I know she’s crazy about me. We have a good relationship, and I can foresee a great future with her.
Oh shit, who am I trying to kid? She’s a wonderful woman and I do love her, with all my heart. But I love you, Randy, more. And… she can never know this. It would break her heart. It would break mine.
But I still ache when I think of leaving you just as dawn was breaking the other morning, looking up at you standing in the window of your apartment, watching me, your hand pressed against the glass.
I wanted so much to turn around, to just say “fuck it all” to a world that disapproves of something as pure and honest and passionate as what we shared. I wanted to run back up the stairs and into your arms, to cover you with kisses, and take you back to bed—one more time.
Could you see that on my face? Could you see the longing and the pain?
I don’t know what will happen with us, I only know I hope to hear from you sometimes. I can’t, much as my head tells me to, just sever all ties with you. It’s a dangerous game, but a world without you in it, in at least some small way, is a world I can’t bear living in.
My heart won’t let me say good-bye, not completely.
I know that’s not fair to you, but I also know a handsome guy like you, with such talented hands, will not be alone for long. You too will find a nice girl and settle down, have kids, just like I plan to do.
And who knows? Maybe there will come a time when we can all get together with our families. Maybe, after a while, these desires we have for each other will be replaced by friendship and respect, edged out by the love we have for our wives.
I hope so. But today I am missing you and wishing, so hard, you were here in Miami with me.
I start my summer job waiting tables at a little seafood place on the beach tomorrow—and med school awaits at the University of Miami in the fall.
Take care of yourself, Randy, and please, no matter what, don’t forget what we shared. I know I won’t.
Much love,
Mark

Tate sat back in the desk chair, feeling as though his breath had been knocked out of him. His heart hammered in his chest, and his hand, poised over the mouse, was shaking.
His father was gay? Where did that come from? He loved another man? This Randy? Was this some kind of joke? He peered again at the scanned handwriting on the screen and knew it was his father’s own. And he recalled Randy’s face outside the funeral home. Even in the shadows, Tate could see the naked pain on his face.
Tate laid his head on the desk, and the tears, hot and stinging, came from nowhere. Had his father’s whole life been a lie? Had he loved them at all? Or were they just a convenient cover-up, the “proper” thing to do?
“Kelly, Kelly, why aren’t you home?” he whimpered.
After a while he read on.

BUY

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Guest Post: Why I Wrote THE NICKY AND NOAH MYSTERIES by Joe Cosentino


Book Four Now Available: Drama Luau by Joe Cosentino

They call it paradise for a reason. Maui is the most beautiful place on Earth. A few years ago I talked my spouse into taking the thirteen-hour plane ride to a land laden with white sandy beaches, tall and majestic waterfalls, multicolored craters on mosaic mountaintops, palm trees waving in the soft breeze, and laid back and friendly Hawaiians. We marveled at the hidden beaches, took the white-knuckle drive to the gorgeous Seven Sacred Pools, gasped at the sunrise at Haleakala, swam in the clear turquoise water, and flew through the crystal blue sky while parasailing. On our last night in Maui, we went to a luau complete with the boat procession, pig roast, huge and sumptuous buffet of Hawaiian foods, and the hula dancer show. The dancers were amazing! Incredibly muscular Hawaiian men wearing grass skirts, leis, flower headdresses, anklets, and bracelets, gestured with their arms, waved their knees, stomped, and grunted on an outdoor stage masked by a dormant volcano.

So when it came time for Nicky and Noah to go on their honeymoon in the fourth novel in my popular Nicky and Noah mystery series, I knew they had to go to Maui. It was great fun including all the things my spouse and I did on our trip into this fast-paced, humorous, spine-tingling mystery with a very shocking ending. Nicky and Noah have the time of their lives solving this one, and also find their relationship in for quite a change.

For those of you who haven’t read the first three novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series (and you should!), it is a gay cozy mystery comedy series, meaning the setting is warm and cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning. At the center is a touching gay romance between Associate Professor of Directing Nicky Abbondanza and Assistant Professor of Acting Noah Oliver. As Nicky and Noah fall in love, I’ve heard the readers fall in love with them too. In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of 2015) college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains at Treemeadow College, and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit.

Reviewers called Drama Queen hysterically funny farce, Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys, and a captivating whodunit. Who am I to argue? One reviewer wrote Drama Queen was the funniest books she’d ever read! In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention 2016) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. Also, Nicky and Noah’s relationship reaches a milestone by the end of the novel. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back (which my spouse and I also did). Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are their both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with the handsome couple.

Now in Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort and he and Noah need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Their department head and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride. In addition to the sexy hula dancers, we meet a handsome Hawaiian detective, a Bloody Mary type housekeeper, a cigar chomping hotel manager, the hotel owner and his senator wife who give new meaning to the term family values, and a cute young waiter who wants to be a hula dancer more than an anti-gay politician wants a dark backroom in a gay bar.

And watch for Drama Detective, book five, releasing in six months!

It is my joy and pleasure to share these stories with you. So grab your plate at the buffet table, and take your front row seat for the luau show. The grass curtain is going up on Drama Luau!

DRAMA LUAU (a Nicky and Noah mystery)a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO


BUY
http://myBook.to/DramaLuau
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/711186
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/drama-luau-joe-cosentino/1125994872?ean=2940154062050


BLURB
Theater professors and spouses, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are on their honeymoon at a Hawaiian resort, where musclemen in grass skirts are keeling over like waterfalls. Things erupt faster than a volcano when Nicky and Noah, along with their best friends Martin and Ruben, try to stage a luau show. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the grass curtain down on male hula dancers—before things go coconuts for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining fourth novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and aloha!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of 2015 by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) and Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau; In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press); Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings Cozzi Cove series (NineStar Press); Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries; and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015! Coming next: Drama Detective, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery.

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino
Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

Excerpt of Drama Luau, Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino
The olive-skinned, barefooted muscular men wore loincloths (malo), coconut necklaces, shell bracelets and anklets, and flower (lei) head garlands. With the powerful emerald mountain behind them, the dancers (‘olapa) aerobically executed hand signs, knee sways, and foot stomps toward the turquoise sea (makai), as their deep, full voices chanted to the goddess of the ocean (Namakaokahai). The lead dancer (alakai) and the dance captain (kumu) moved front and center executing their tree in the breeze hand gestures. The dancer helper (kokua) made gestures to the ocean waves behind them.

“Stop!”

The ‘ukulele, steel guitar, and bass accompaniment ended. The dancers slouched and looked toward the rows of tables and chairs facing them.

“Kimu, stand further upstage.”

“Nicky, they don’t know what upstage and downstage mean.”

“Thanks, Noah. Kimu, stand behind the other dancers, so Kal and Ak are the focus of the dance.”

That was me, Nicky Abbondanza, Associate Professor of Directing at Treemeadow College, an Edwardian style private college in the quaint state of Vermont. My husband and the love of my life, Assistant Professor of Acting at Treemeadow, Noah Oliver, is by my side, right where I like him.

Why am I directing a luau show at the Maui Mist Resort in Hawaii? Our honeymoon in Maui was a gift from our parents. But when the customers of my parents’ bakery in Kansas became glucose intolerant, and the clientele of Noah’s parents’ dairy farm in Wisconsin found themselves lactose intolerant, Noah and I were left tolerating the bill. So my department head and his husband hit the internet and found this luau show directing job, which came with free airfare, hotel, and food for two. Enticed by the gorgeous tropical location and the gorgeous luau dancers, Martin Anderson, Professor of Theatre Management at Treemeadow College, and Ruben Markinson, director of one of the top gay rights organizations in the country, decided to tag along and keep us out of trouble. Since Martin and Ruben are our best friends, that was more than fine with Noah and me.

Since you can’t see us, I am thirty-six, tall, with dark hair, green eyes, a Roman nose, cleft chin and long sideburns. Thanks to the gym at Treemeadow College (named after Tree and Meadow, the gay couple who founded it), I am pretty muscular. One minor thing. Actually, it’s pretty major. I have a nine and-a-quarter by two-inch penis, which causes Noah to tell everyone we are “going clubbing” when we have sex.

Noah is handsome with wavy blond hair, crystal-blue eyes, porcelain skin, and hotter and sweeter buns than any found in my dad’s bakery. Martin is short, thin, and bald. As an incredible gossip, he resembles an alien looking for a good piece of news to bring back to his home planet. Ruben is tall, thin, distinguished-looking, with salt and pepper hair and two large eyes watching over Martin. Though Ruben would never admit it, like his husband, Ruben revels in the dish too.

I said to the dancers, “The opening (ho’i) number will be fine. Let’s move on.”

Whereas the first dance was an introduction to the dancers, the second number, in honor of the creation gods (Kane and Lono), is a sensual dance, where the muscular dancers get to flex, grunt, and gyrate.

Sitting next to me at the front table opposite the stage, Noah rested a hand on my knee. “Did my character work with the dancers pay off?”

I nodded. “They all seem like characters to me.”

Noah squeezed my hand as the five dancers came on stage, now wearing grass skirts. Kal (short for Kalani), at twenty-five, is tall, strikingly handsome, muscular, the leader of the pack, and he knows it. Ak (Akamu), at thirty-five, was once the stallion of the troupe, but a receded hairline and wrinkles had transformed Ak to dance captain. As leaders, Kal and Ak take focus in the dance numbers, either dancing downstage center or up center on the platform in the shape of a volcano. Pretty ironic since Kal and Ak are ex-lovers and ex-friends.

Current lovers Keanu (dancer helper), at medium height with a growing paunch, and Ahe, young, small, and cute as a button, took their places midstage and looked at each other adoringly.

Finally, Kimu, at medium height with a bull dog face and protruding belly, stood farthest upstage. The only straight member of the troupe, Kimu, said, “Are you girls ready to dance?”

Keanu left his lover, Ahe, and approached Kimu. “What a surprise, Kimu. Liquor on your breath.”

Leader Kal added, “Yeah, Kimu, during the last number you were wavering more than the palm trees near the stage fan.”

Kimu answered, "Hey Kal, is it true that you gave Keanu a pity lei?"

These guys are worse than the divas I work with in the theatre. “Can we please start the number?”


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

THE PERILS OF INTIMACY is getting rave reviews!


So happy to see the very positive reviews my tale of love's triumph over addiction, THE PERILS OF INTIMACY, is getting!

“This story had me hooked from the moment I started reading…and that ending was the perfect touch…
Dog-Eared Daydreams 
***
“This story was truly everything I was hoping it would be. I was already a fan of Rick R. Reed’s books, but this one might just be my favourite so far.”
Love Bytes Reviews
***
“This book is about love, hope, second chances, and the reality of many gay men. It lets the reader into a very real world, with detailed descriptions of drug usage and recovery–of pain, wishes, mistakes, and transformations.  It might not be everyone’s perfect love story, but it is perfect for Marc and Jimmy. It’s their journey for us to learn and for them to tell.”
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Reviews
***
“I highly recommend this one to those who love a gritty, emotional M/M romance. And if you like the works of Stephen King, you will likely appreciate that extra little touch this author, who I happen to know admires Mr. King, offers at the end of this story.”
Hearts on Fire Reviews
***

BLURB
Jimmy and Mark make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness and clean-cut cuteness radiate out of him like light. Mark, although a bit older, complements Jimmy with his humor and his openness to love.

But between them, a dark secret lurks, one with the power to destroy.

See, when Mark believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.

Mark has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings, long bleached dreadlocks, and facial hair. He was painfully skinny—and a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a different person—a lying, conniving thief who robbed Mark blind during their one-night stand.

Mark doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone horribly wrong with this fresh-faced, smiling twentysomething… but Jimmy knows. As they begin a dance of love and attraction, will Jimmy be brave enough to reveal the truth? And if he does, will Mark be able to forgive him? Can he see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers will depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.

BUY
Dreamspinner Press ebook
Dreamspinner Press paperback (if you buy the paperback, you get the ebook for FREE)
Amazon paperback
Amazon Kindle


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

To Celebrate the Release of THE PERILS OF INTIMACY, I'm Giving Away a Signed Copy!


And we have a winner! From the comments below, my dog, Lily, randomly choose Debby as the winner of the signed copy. I'll be in touch! And, for the rest of you, sorry you didn't win, but I'd be thrilled if you'd read THE PERILS OF INTIMACY anyway.



My new book, a romance about the "triumph of love over addiction," The Perils of Intimacy, is now in bookstores. It's one of my most heartfelt books--and one of my greatest love stories.

To celebrate, I'm offering a signed copy to one lucky winner*. All you have to do is:
1. Leave a comment below
2. Share this post on at least one social media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, whatever)
3. Leave your e-mail with your comment so I can get in touch for your address if you win.

That's it! I'll announce the winner in this space one week from today, Tuesday, May 9.
And the cover (by Reese Dante)...

BLURB
Jimmy and Mark make an adorable couple. Jimmy’s kindness (and clean-cut cuteness) radiates out of him like light. Mark, although a bit older, complements Jimmy with his humor and his openness to love.
But between them, a dark secret lurks, one that has the power to destroy.
See, when Mark believes he’s meeting Jimmy for the first time in the diner where he works, he’s wrong.
Mark has no recollection of their original encounter because the wholesome Jimmy of today couldn’t be more different than he was two years ago. Back then, Jimmy sported multiple piercings, had long bleached dreadlocks, facial hair, and was painfully skinny. And he was a meth addict. The drug transformed him into a different person—a lying, conniving thief who robbed Mark blind during their one-night stand.
Mark doesn’t associate the memory of a hookup gone horribly wrong with this fresh-faced, smiling twenty-something… but Jimmy knows. As they begin a dance of love and attraction, will Jimmy be brave enough to reveal the truth? And if he does, will Mark be able to forgive him? Can he see Jimmy for the man he is now and not the addict he was? The answers will depend on whether true love holds enough light to shine through the darkness of past mistakes.

BUY

Dreamspinner Press eBook

Dreamspinner Press Paperback


EXCERPT
I watch from the corner of my eye as Cinnamon Roll, as I’ve dubbed him, downs his low-carb breakfast. How someone can eat poached eggs without any toast is beyond me, but it takes all kinds.
“You got a thing for him or what?” Matilda Blake, the other server on duty, whispers to me. She pauses just behind me with three plates balanced on two arms. I smell pancakes, bacon, and the sage aroma of sausage.
I turn a little to grin. “What?”
“Ah, don’t play innocent with me, Mister. I could see the lust in your eyes from fifty paces.”
I shrug. “Guilty. Maybe. A little.”
She laughs, and it’s a sound like a bell tinkling. Matilda doesn’t even reach five feet and probably doesn’t top ninety pounds, but she’s a workhorse like you wouldn’t believe. She has short, spiked blonde hair and numerous tattoos. On the weekends, she plays in an all-girl metal band called Two Spirit. And in my head, I call her Tinker Bell, because that’s who she looks like to me. She takes off to serve her customers, but not without prompting me to “Go over and talk to him.”
I busy myself filling ketchup bottles and the salt and pepper shakers I’ve removed from empty tables, but I keep an eye on Cinnamon Roll. His food is gone and the newspaper’s been abandoned and he’s staring off into space. I shudder because I wonder if he’s recognized me and is thinking about our last encounter, a little over two years ago, at his place on Dexter Avenue.
But no, that couldn’t be possible, could it? I’m a different person now, inside and out. Back then I was twenty, twenty-five pounds lighter than my current one hundred and sixty-five. I had a septum piercing like Ferdinand the Bull. My hair, which is now cut high and tight and is reddish brown, was long back then, bleached blond, dirty, and tangled up in dreadlocks that reached down almost to my waist. My skin had, I’m sure, a pasty and unhealthy pallor.
That person doesn’t even exist anymore, and even though it’s only been two years, I look completely different today. He’s probably just thinking about his day or something.
Right?
I walk over to his table, a little nervous that he’d come to and look at me with an accusing glare. There’d be a scene. And maybe I’d end up getting fired or something. Thinking back to what I did to him, I deserve it.
But when I approach his table, all he does is smile. And that smile melts my heart. It did back then too. Just not enough to keep me from my desperate and dark ways.
“You need anything else?”
He looks down at his paper and back up at me. A blush rises to his cheeks, and I gotta say it—there’s nothing more adorable than this face staring up at me right now.

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*Winners must have a United States mailing address and be over the age of 18. In the event of an international mailing address winner, an ebook of The Perils of Intimacy will be substituted.

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Gay Horror Collection, UNHINGED, is OUT NOW!


Horror. Romance. The two seem at odds, yet in provocative author Rick R. Reed’s hands, the pair merge like a match made in heaven ... or hell.

Prepare for a dark journey into an unhinged world populated by ordinary and extraordinary monsters. Unhinged brings you sometimes chilling, sometimes romantic, sometimes hilarious, but always thought-provoking tales.

Among them you’ll find a chilling and redemptive ghost story, a most unusual and shocking first meeting for two lovers, a story revolving around one of the 20th Century’s most horrific serial killers, and a darkly comic take on the vampire mythos. This collection will make your heart race with passion ... in all its forms.

Contains the stories: Echoes, How I Met My Man, The Man from Milwaukee, Sluggo Snares a Vampire, The Ghost in #9, and Incubus.

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EXCERPT FROM "The Man in Milwaukee"

He learned only in bits and pieces of that wonderful blossoming of dark and lovely flowers: one was revealed to me by a scrap of newspaper…
Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers

Headlines

Dahmer appeared before you in a five o’clock edition, stubbled dumb countenance surrounded by the crispness of a white shirt with pale blue stripes. His handsome face, multiplied by the presses, swept down upon Chicago and all of America, to the depths of the most out-of–the-way villages, in castles and cabins, revealing to the mirthless bourgeois that their daily lives are grazed by enchanting murderers, cunningly elevated to their sleep, which they will cross by some back stairway that has abetted them by not creaking. Beneath his picture burst the dawn of his crimes: details too horrific to be credible in a novel of horror: tales of cannibalism, sexual perversity, and agonizing death, all bespeaking his secret glory and preparing his future glory.

Emory Hughes stared at the picture of Jeffrey Dahmer on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, the man in Milwaukee who had confessed to “drugging and strangling his victims, then dismembering them.” The picture was grainy, showing a young man, who looked timid and tired. Not someone you’d expect to be a serial killer.

Emory took in the details as the el swung around a bend: lank pale hair, looking dirty and as if someone had taken a comb to it just before the photograph was snapped, heavy eyelids, the smirk, as if Dahmer had no understanding of what was happening to him, blinded suddenly by notoriety, the stubble, at least three days old, growing on his face. Emory even noticed the way a small curl topped his shirt’s white collar. The el twisted, suddenly a ride from Six Flags, and Emory almost dropped the newspaper clutching for the metal pole to keep himself from falling. The train’s dizzying pace, taking the curves too fast, made Emory’s stomach churn.

Or was it the details of the story that was making the nausea in him grow and blossom? Details like how Dahmer had boiled some of his victim’s skulls to preserve them…

Milwaukee Medical Examiner Jeffrey Jentzen said authorities had recovered five full skeletons from Dahmer’s apartment and partial remains of six others. Emory read that the killer had also admitted to cannibalism.

“Sick, huh?” Emory jumped at a voice behind him. A pudgy man, face florid with sweat and heat, pressed close. The bulge of the man’s stomach nudged against the small of Emory’s back.

Emory hugged the newspaper to his chest, wishing there was somewhere else he could go. But the el, at rush hour, was crowded with commuters, moist from the heat, wearing identical expressions of boredom.

“Hard to believe some of the things that guy did.” The man continued, undaunted by Emory’s refusal to meet his eyes. “He’s a queer. They all want to give the queers special privileges and act like there’s nothing wrong with them. And then look what happens.” The guy snorted. “Nothing wrong with them… right.”

Emory wished the man would move away. The sour odor of the man’s sweat mingled with cheap cologne, something like Old Spice.

Hadn’t his father worn Old Spice?

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