Tuesday, August 14, 2018

SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES Releases Today!


Today, I'm grateful for the release of my 33rd novel, SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES, about the otherworldly choices we make in the name of love. I can remember a time, not long ago, when I thought no one would ever publish me, so I'm especially grateful today.

BLURB
What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?

That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.

Where has Rory been all this time? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into the heavens? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.

Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.

Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars….

BUY
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(Also available in Italian, German, and French!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Come Through the Closet Door with Me



Through the Closet Door is a story that's near and dear to my heart and almost painful for me to read. It's a story about a young married man coming to terms one summer with the fact that he's gay. In spite of his emerging, but-will-not-be-denied sexuality, he truly loves his wife and he knows that acceptance will mean a traumatic and painful upheaval, and knows too, that self-acceptance has a terrible price: causing those he loves incredible pain.

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

I hope you'll check it out. I think it's a really meaningful, poignant, and touching read, whether you've been through what the main characters have or not. To read the story for only $1.99 (or for free if you have Kindle Unlimited), just click on the hyperlinked titles above or the BUY link below.

BLURB
Gregory seems to have it all: youth, good looks, a beautiful wife, a job he loves as an elementary school teacher, a quiet house on the beach.

So why is Gregory so miserable? Why is he unable to control his lingering gaze on his neighbor, Jake, the handsome truck driver who lives just down the way? Why does Gregory spend his private time keeping a secret journal that details fantasies and memories of him locked in embraces with other men?

It’s summer, and the peaceful lake belies the turmoil in Gregory's heart. His wife wants to start a family, while Gregory wants to start something with Jake, but doesn’t dare.

Climbing out of the closet is never easy ... but it’s even more difficult when doing so might shatter the lives of those around you.


EXCERPT



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



“Jesus. You did have a fight,” Jake says. “You’re so tense. Relax and let old Jake take care of untangling those bunched-up muscles.”

Gregory wants nothing more. This feels so right and so wrong…all at the same time. He shouldn’t be doing this. Reluctantly, he moves forward, so that Jake’s hands will drop from his back. The absence of Jake’s touch makes him long for more, like some deep-seated hunger that is simple minded in its pursuit of satisfaction.

“Sh-h. Listen, it’s okay,” Jake whispers and leans close to Gregory, his chest pressed against Gregory’s back.

Impulsively, Gregory turns and hugs him. He is more surprised by his action than he imagines Jake is. The intense brown of Jake’s eyes is apparent, even in the dark. Gregory feels he could lose himself in the brown, letting it swallow him up like a cold spot in the lake. The feel of Jake’s body so close, the strong arms wrapped around him are like a blessing, a relief after so much denial.

Then Jake is leaning close, and Gregory feels the soft pressure of his lips on his own. Gregory closes his eyes, shutting everything out save for the soft cool of Jake’s mouth on his. He lets his head go back, parts his lips to admit Jake’s tongue and, almost of its own accord, his hand comes up, grabbing Jake at the nape of his neck and pulling him closer. The feel of Jake’s beard against his smooth skin is electric, and Gregory finds himself out of control, lost, as he mashes his mouth against the other man’s, his tongue dueling, the taste of beer and cigarettes and something indefinable and sweet filling his mouth.

An image of Rosemary intrudes, that same image of her standing near the window, watching for his return, wondering what he’s doing. And what is he doing?

Just as suddenly as the kiss begins, it stops as Gregory stiffens, leaning back. Jake pulls away, regarding him out of the corner of his eye, back against the porch swing. Jake is breathless. He lets out a small laugh, husky.

Gregory forces himself to scoot down on the bench a couple of inches, so that their contact disappears. He doesn’t want this to end, yet at the same time, sees no other road open to him. He can’t live split in two. Weakly, he mumbles, “I have to get up early tomorrow.”

“Sure,” Jake whispers, reaching for another cigarette. The flare of the lighter illuminates his face for a moment and Gregory is certain he can see frustration and disappointment in the other man’s craggy features. He exhales smoke and looks out toward the lake. “I understand. You run along now. Be a good little boy.”

“Jake, I—”

And Jake puts a finger to Gregory’s lips, the lips he’s just kissed. “Hey, don’t worry about it, man. Believe it or not, I was married once, too, even have a couple of kids, so I know. I know.”

Gregory is off the porch and swallowed up by the darkness before Jake has a chance to say another word. He stomps through the night, his footfalls hard, firm, and rapid as he heads back toward his own home…and Rosemary. He doesn’t question why his breath is catching and why his face is covered with salty tears...

BUY
Amazon Kindle (FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited, otherwise $1.99)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Guest Post from Joe Cosentino: Interview with Michael Rodgers, from Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings


Interview with Michael Rodgers, a leading character in
Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings, the 5th novel in the Cozzi Cove Beach Series

Welcome, Michael.

Michael: Thanks. It’s nice to stretch out of the books.

This is your fifth Cozzi Cove novel.

Michael: I’ve grown a lot from a street punk to a loyal husband and father, and photojournalist working for a gay magazine. But I’m still way younger than Cal, which I never let him forget.

It’s refreshing to see a gay couple so in love.

Michael: Cal’s my first and only love of my life. I aim to keep it that way.

You are described in the books as having skin like milk chocolate, a stock built, exotic dark eyes, and thick chestnut hair.

Michael: I’m blushing. Actually, I’m with Cal on the cover of book two.

Who’s on the other covers?

Michael: Cal is on book one. Book three features Cal’s brother George. Our ex-houseboy Billy Dean is on book four, and our current houseboy Carlos is on the new cover.

How come your first houseboy, Connor, was never featured on a cover?

Michael: He was probably too busy having sex on the cove.

What led Joe Cosentino to write a fifth novel in the series? Was it you and Cal whispering in his ear at night?

Michael: I’m sure we had something to do with it. Taylor was probably offering him money. But mostly it was the readers. Joe received messages on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and his web site begging him to write another Cozzi Cove novel. One reader wrote that he misses his family on Cozzi Cove! They also said they missed the quirky characters, mystery, drama, sweet romance, plot twists and turns, beautiful locations, and happily ever after endings. I missed them too!

What was it like for you having another Cozzi Cove adventure?

Michael: I’m always happy when I’m with Cal. Our new baby has been quite a blessing, and quite a task to raise. My relationship with my family keeps growing and getting stronger. Taylor and I come to a new understanding in this book. My sister-in-law Carla unleashes quite an announcement. And as usual the guests provide stories full of humor, secrets, and shocking surprises. And of course, lots of hot romance!

Tell us about the series.

Michael: Cozzi Cove is a magical place on the New Jersey Shore where nothing is what it seems, and romance is always in the sea air. In each of the novels, you get my story with Cal and our family and friends, and four additional interwoven stories about the tantalizing guests in the bungalows.

Give the readers the order of the novels.

Michael: They are Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings, and now Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings. I’m in all of them.

Is Cozzi Cove a real place?

Michael: Now it is to me. It’s my home with my family. Actually, Joe made it up. But it’s based on a spot at the New Jersey Shore that he visited every summer as a kid. His family had a bungalow near the beach, bay, and a private cove that formed when soft rocks were worn away by the sun and salty water faster than the harder rocks surrounding them. This created a stunning bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge. Every summer Joe swam and made sandcastles at the beach, waded in the bay, played miniature golf, ate salt water taffy, and jumped up and down on trampolines. We all get to do the same things in Cozzi Cove.

How did Cozzi Cove become a gay resort?

Michael: My great-grandfather and Cal’s great-grandfather built the town and all the bungalows on the resort, Cal’s father, sensing his son’s orientation, decided to run it as a gay resort. Cal took control after his folks passed away. I meet Cal in the first novel.

What’s the story in book five?

Michael: Cal and I enjoy sharing the cove with our one-year old son, C.J., Cal Junior. When Cal worries about our financial future, Kevin Donovan, Cal’s old football buddy from high school, appears at Cozzi Cove offering to buy the resort for a hefty fee. Of course, Cal’s top one-percenter sister, Taylor, is ready to host a moving party. However, I do some investigating and find out Kevin’s offer isn’t exactly what it seems. Cal also hires a new houseboy and nanny and romantic sparks fly. Carlos is an exhibitionist who believes he is the reincarnation of Adam, the first man. Alfred has Mormon paraphernalia is his bureau. However, this is Cozzi Cove. Nothing is actually what meets the eye. Nobody knows that better than me. Also, a professional matchmaker, Gilead, checks in with his clients: Marine Master Sergeant Matt Pummel, young businessman from Hawaii Keone Paoa, and young writer Luis Lui. Two matches are made, but who ends up with whom will surprise you. Finally, another guest, Nyx believes he was abducted by aliens in the woods. When he meets Kurt, who believes he is a sexy werewolf, the two share some tantalizing moonlit nights leading to a shocking climax that could affect the whole world.

Will each couple have a HEA?

Michael: Of course! This is Cozzi Cove.

What’s the theme of this book?

Michael: We all need to feel special, love, and be loved.

Why do you think the readers love the Cozzi Cove beach series so much?

Michael: Who wouldn’t fall in love with Cal? He’s handsome, smart, caring, honest, and true. Also, Cozzi Cove is a magical place, where anything can happen.

Which other character do you enjoy the most?

Michael: Our baby, C.J., though only one years old is quite the charmer. Cal’s new houseboy, Carlos, is a nudist who believes he was famous nudists in his past lives. His relationship with our new nanny, Alfred, has lots of surprises. Oh, Gilead the matchmaker is a riot. After reading the book, you’ll be quoting his phrases.

Which character didn’t you like?

Michael: Kevin Donovan.

Why?

Michael: You’ll have to read the book to find out. It’s quite a story with lots of emotional peaks. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, there’s a game changer. 

And you’ve won Favorite Book of the Month at The TBR Pile and Rainbow Award Honorable Mention.

Michael: But Joe got all the accolades.

Your books are quite cinematic.

Michael: Joe’s written a teleplay pilot. Hear that, producers! Make him an offer! Cal and I are ready for the screen.

Who might play you?

Michael: Corbin Bleau.

Will there be more Cozzi Cove novels?

Michael: To quote Joe’s favorite words, “Never say never.”

Readers have compared the books to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series. How do you feel about that?

Michael: Incredibly humbled and thrilled.

Tell us about Joe’s gay novellas published by Dreamspinner Press.

Michael: I’m not in them. But you should check them out anyway. In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star are loosely based on Joe’s high school and college years respectively. They were so popular as individual e-books, Dreamspinner Press published them together in one paperback.

In the Bobby and Paolo Holiday stories, Bobby, an American law student, takes a trip to the romantic and gorgeous island of Capri, Italy, where he embarks on a relationship with his captivating third cousin, Paolo, in A Home for the Holidays. In The Perfect Gift, Bobby and Paolo move to Philly, marry, and adopt a child.

The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland is Joe’s hysterically funny gay take on his favorite beloved fairytales like Cinderella, Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Snow Queen.

Joel Leslie did the incredible audiobooks.

The Cozzi Cove novels have mysterious elements, but Joe also has two mystery series.

Michael: Again, I’m not in them. But they’re still pretty terrific. Joe’s Nicky and Noah mystery series are farcical, gay, cozy, who-dun-its. In Drama Queen theatre college professors are dropping like stage curtains. With the inept local detective more interested in getting into Nicky’s pants than solving the murders, it is up to well-endowed Directing professor, Nicky Abbondanza to use his theatre skills (including playing other people) to solve the case, while he directs a murder mystery onstage. Complicating matters is Nicky’s intense crush on Assistant Professor of Acting, gorgeous Noah Oliver, the prime suspect in the murder, and Nicky’s eventual lover. In Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah have to use their theatre skills to find out why musclemen are dropping like weights in the Physical Education department while Nicky directs the Student Bodybuilding Competition. In Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah go on a cruise to Alaska, and discover why college theatre professors are going overboard like lifeboats while Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship. In Drama Luau, muscular male hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts as Nicky directs the Luau show. It’s up to Nicky and Noah to figure out whodunit and why. In Drama Detective, Nicky and Noah do a musical Sherlock Holmes play and actors drop faster than hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again it’s up to Nicky and Noah as Holmes and Watson to save the day. The games’ afoot! In Drama Fraternity, Nicky and Noah shoot a slasher film movie on campus, and life imitates art. It’s up to Nicky and Noah to catch the murderer before they end up on the cutting room floor.
In the Jana Lane mysteries (the Wild Rose Press), with straight leading characters and gay supporting characters, Jana Lane 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. Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. 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. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, where she is faced with murder on stage and off. In Rag Doll Jana stars in a television mystery series and life imitates art on the set. The novels are full of mystery, romance, humor, and theatricality. Since they take place in the 1980’s, Jana’s best friends are gay, and Jana is somewhat of a gay activist, the AIDS epidemic is a large part of the novels.

How can your readers contact you and Cal?

Michael: Through Joe. We love hearing from readers! They can contact us at: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
So grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head back to Cozzi Cove. Cal and I have a bungalow waiting just for you. We hope to see YOU there!

COZZI COVE: HAPPY ENDINGS
The fifth novel in the Cozzi Cove series
by JOE COSENTINO

http://mybook.to/CozziCove_HE
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/835400
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cozzi-cove-joe-cosentino/1128860553?ean=2940155279358
https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Cozzi+Cove%3A+Happy+Endings


 It’s summertime, the perfect season for another trip to Cozzi Cove: the magical place where nothing is what it seems and romance is always in the sea air. Welcome back to hunky Cal Cozzi’s seven guest bungalows on the New Jersey Shore. This summer Cal is visited by Kevin Donovan, a handsome man from his past who makes Cal a tempting offer to buy Cozzi Cove and provide financial security to Cal and Michael’s baby. Cal’s Wall Street sister, Taylor, has hopped aboard Kevin’s green wagon. However, Cal’s husband, Michael, and Taylor’s wife, Carla, aren’t convinced, sensing something much deeper in Kevin’s offer than meets the roving eye. Cal’s exhibitionist new houseboy, Carlos, is smitten with Cal’s sweet-faced nanny, Alfred, who carries a shocking secret in his magic Mormon underwear. Middle-aged matchmaker Gilead has matched guests Marine Master Sergeant Matt Pummel and much younger businessman Keone Paoa to the chagrin of cute young lawyer Luis Lui. As skeletons come out of their closets, the bears and cubs search for their true honey. Woodsy guest Nyx Oberon meets a sexy werewolf at the cove and they share a howling moonlit night. Nyx believes his newfound lover could be part of a much larger plan that would change his life and the world forever. Will Cal, his family, and his guests have happy endings? It’s Cozzi Cove after all.

Praise for the COZZI COVE series:

“I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger. The characters are beautifully written…I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” TBR Pile Book of the Month

“In true Joe Cosentino style, this book is packed full of drama! This cast of characters will have you laughing out loud one minute before ripping your heart out the next.” Joyfully Jay

“Joe Cosentino has the amazing ability to combine heartwarming, feel good moments with droll, sometimes biting humor, along with insights into the frailties and peccadillos of being human….Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back is the very finest in literary fiction with a romance theme, yet it’s more than just that—it’s about human connections and empathy and finding a way out of the fear and inertia faced by so many. It’s also about courage and strength, about respect and coming to terms with all that life has to offer, and it’s about letting go. I loved this book and look forward to the next in the series. This is a highly recommended read, well-deserving of Five Stars.” GGR Reviews

“Who knew that 7 bungalows set surrounding a beautiful cove, could hold so many secrets, love and intrigue?...The humour, whether subtle or not-so-subtle was superb, the timing delivered with perfection, Joe Cosentino is a natural comedian and another reason why I love reading his books. He is also very clever, he weaved moral messages throughout the entire storyline….Great fun entwined with the Cosentino romantic magic that brings his books alive, I loved it." Three Books Over the Rainbow

“Oh, Cozzi Cove, you are fast becoming a favorite vacation destination with your action and excitement! Joe Cosentino once again wins his way into your heart and soul with this fun, flirtatious romance. Love, laughter and smoldering intimacy await all who dare to venture to the clear blue waters of the Cove.” 3 Chicks After Dark

“Imagine a beautiful getaway where the hot, sexy, and wealthy gay men go...it's a place where there's never a dull moment. Every page of this new title brings readers nothing but excitement, intrigue, and an intensity that will burn away the night's quiet. Most novels offer readers one journey in which readers travel upon, however, readers are brought not one but several journeys that will leave them breathless and hooked. As with all of Joe Cosentino's novels, humor comes in abundance and fits in perfectly with all of his stunning characters….Joe sweeps his readers into his characters’ lives by creating realistic characters with real issues. The book automatically captures your heart from page one and forever holds it. After reading the story, readers will be begging for the next grand adventure. Funny, heart melting, and swoon worthy, readers will finish reading this in one sitting. I loved reading this riveting tale, and I highly recommend it to readers everywhere.” Urban Book Reviews

“Spending a week in the sun with the permanent and transitory residents of Cozzi Cove makes for a superb, unputdownable, read. There are laugh out loud moments, lots of chuckles, some very heartwarming as well as heart wrenching moments, lots of gorgeous men and women, love, lust and even some tears. Joe Cosentino has a brilliantly unique sense of humour, and a masterful way of writing stories containing farce, larger than life men and women, and often over the top characters you’ll fall in love with. For all that his characters come across as completely relatable and realistic. His books are one of a kind and utterly addictive. I have yet to read a Joe Cosentino book that was less than 5 Stars, and this book is no exception. Do yourself a favour and grab this book with both hands. I guarantee you’ll be very glad you did.” Divine Magazine

“There is plenty to feast upon within each sudsy storyline, including intrigue, deception, desire, romance, and sex….As the pages turn quickly and events unfold, the ensuing antics are irresistibly entertaining, but more importantly the characters are likeable and deserve our genuine interest and concern as some of their relationships are put to the test. Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings is clearly just that -- the beginning -- for Cal and Michael, and this highly engaging, enjoyable novel examines both their past and present history as proof that they were destined to be together.” Edge Media Network

“I adore this series so much. I adore it partly because of the setting, the writing, the romance, but also because each one of the guests at Cozzi Cove has a story beyond their face value….There is so much packed into this book's short 174 pages and I loved every single one of them!” Alpha Book Club

Bestselling author Joe Cosentino won Divine Magazine’s Readers Poll for Best LGBT Mystery Novel, Best LGBT Humorous Novel, and Best LGBT Contemporary Novel of the Year. He wrote the Cozzi Cove beach series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (TBR Pile Book of the Month/Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, and Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); the Nicky and Noah mysteries: Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Favorite), Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland; and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). 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. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards! Upcoming novels and novellas are Drama Castle, Drama Dance, and Drama Faerie, Nicky and Noah mysteries; The First Noel, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Story Book 3 (Dreamspinner Press); and Holiday Tales from Fairyland, Tales from Fairyland Book 2.

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

Language: English
Cover Design: Fred Wolinsky
Length: 225 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1720665014
ISBN-10: 172066501X
ASIN: B07DGVLCMX
Release date: August 1, 2018

Excerpt of Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings, the fifth Cozzi Cove novel, by Joe Cosentino:

Cal placed the luggage on the floor next to the desk. “What do you do?”
“I’m a matchmaker.”
Cal couldn’t help smiling.
“What? Because my name isn’t Dolly or Yente?”
“What is your name?”
“Gilead Shadchan. I’m like the ‘Balm in Gilead,’ the salve to make everything all right.”
“The ‘Balm in Gilead’?”
Gilead sighed. “Nobody reads the Bible anymore, except the people who use it as a weapon to try to take away our rights.”
Cal found Gilead’s name on his computer. “Yes, you purchased four bungalows for the week.”
“They’re not all for me.” Gilead adjusted his tight powder-blue jumpsuit. “I’m not that large.” He chuckled.
There was something likeable about the guy. “Who are they for?”
“My clients. I’m the top-rated matchmaker in the gay community. Haven’t you heard of me?”
“Sorry.”
“Have you been to Commercial Street in Provincetown, Castro Street in San Francisco, Christopher Street in New York City, and Duval Street in Key West?”
“Yeah.”
“You notice the sea of gay couples holding hands as they walk down the streets?”
“Um hm.”
“I did that. And believe me I get a lot of wedding invitations from my clients. I can do the alley cat, tarantella, and Macarena in my sleep.” He sat on the desk. “I also match up guys on the down low and in the up high.”
“The up high?”
“The Vatican.” He said sotto voce, “The priests without altar boys.”
Cal couldn’t help laughing.
Gilead squinted at the tiny American flag on Cal’s shirt. “Interesting flag. Where’s the other colors of the rainbow?”
Though Cal was entertained by Gilead’s antics, he needed to get back to business. “Gilead, I have you in Bungalow Five and your guests in Bungalows Two, Three, and Four.”
He nodded. “Generally, the men I match go out to dinner to meet each other. But these guys bought my special package: a week’s vacation at a gay resort with the man of their dreams.”
“What if one of them isn’t happy with your selection for him?”
“Impossible. I have a ninety-five percent success rate in matchmaking.”
“And the other five percent?”
“They came out as straight.” He raised his eyes to his receding hairline. “For the moment.”
Cal said, “With all the hook-up web sites, I’m surprised a matchmaker still exits.”
“Those web sites are just that.” He said as if eating mud, “Places for hook-ups.” Smiling radiantly, he added, “I match people for life!”
“How do you do it?”
Gilead said with a flourish of his pudgy hand, “I meet with each applicant for three hours, where I ask him a series of questions. Then I type the data into my computer and the magic happens.”
“Hopefully the Republicans won’t work with Russia to hack in.”
Gilead paused, stared at Cal, and then burst out laughing. “I like an innkeeper with a sense of humor.” He crossed one leg over the over. “You looking for somebody?”
Cal smiled. “I’m happily married, thank you.”
“If anything changes.” Gilead handed Cal his card. “I guarantee satisfaction.”
“I don’t think I’ll be needing your services.”
“That’s what they all say.”
Cal couldn’t resist. “Are you single, Gilead?”
“As single as a Republican at a Green Peace rally.” He sighed. “To be honest, Cal, I’ve devoted my life to finding happiness for others. Now at forty-five, I’m ready for a bit of happiness myself.”
“You may find it. This is Cozzi Cove.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Advance Review for SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES!

A lovely advance review on author JP Jackson's blog of my sci-fi romance, SKY FULL OF MYSTERIES, coming out on August 14!

"Rick R. Reed has been on my To Be Read radar for a while now, and so when the opportunity came up to read and review his latest release, I eagerly jumped on it. This story centers around Cole and Rory, a young couple moving in together, new in their relationship, and living life in the Midwestern city of Chicago. Reed's knowledge of the neighborhoods and attention to detail of the city is impressive, immediately immersing the reader into the gay 1990's in this well-known city. Having lived as an out gay man during the 90's, I was impressed as I too recalled the history at the time. Bars and clubs were the preferred gathering place, smartphones didn't exist, nor did the hookup apps - and so how did young gay men find each other? Either by sitting in said bars or through the city's local hookup phone lines. I had forgotten all about those phone lines, and I found myself transported back to my youth while reading this story - well done Mr. Reed! It was an enjoyable walk down memory lane. The mystery in this novel is what happens to Rory - a self-proclaimed Sci-Fi nut, who goes missing. The reader knows why, but the details about the event are never explored, keeping the entire incident a true conundrum. Even Rory himself doesn't remember the details of his abduction. The book focuses on the development of the characters. What's going on in their heads, how Cole deals with his lover's sudden disappearance, and what happens to the people from Rory's life who are left wondering, "What happened?" Twenty years later Rory returns. We get to see how the characters from the beginning of the story have changed, how life has progressed, and how they react to Rory's sudden reappearance. There are some scintillating and steamy scenes between Rory and Cole, but I'm not entirely sure I would have called this an M/M Romance, as I'm not convinced there was a Happily Ever After, or even a Happy For Now ending. There is a sudden disappearance involving aliens, but I'm not sure I would have called this book a Sci-Fi adventure, as the details of the abduction are left to the reader's imagination and the Sci-Fi aspect isn't truly explored. But what you do get is a solid story, steeped in 90's gay culture, vivid descriptions and amazing character development. If you're looking for a story that's just a touch different than your average book, I'd recommend this. As I said above, Mr. Reed has been on my To Read list for a while. That hasn't changed, and with this book, I've now found another author whose talent for telling a story takes me out of reality for a while as I explore his worlds. Nicely done Mr. Reed! Nicely done.
I'll be sure to check out other novels by this author."

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Monday, July 23, 2018

The Cover is Revealed! Sky Full of Mysteries, Now Available for Pre-Order

My new book, Sky Full of Mysteries, is now available for pre-order. And finally, after sitting on it for months, I'm allowed to reveal the amazing and beautiful cover by the talented Reese Dante!


BLURB
What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?

That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.

Where has Rory been all this time? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into the heavens? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.

Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.

Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars….

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EXCERPT

Cole listened to the close of Tommy’s office door, the start of the new-age music he listened to as he wrote. Today it was Yiruma. Cole waited a moment, in case Tommy should open the door, and then headed down the hall to the master bedroom. He knew Tommy would not emerge until dinnertime, or even later, if he really got involved.

He sat down on the king-size bed, running his hand over the orange and gray quilt. Part of him simply wanted to collapse backward on it, close his eyes, and sleep for hours. The hum of the window air conditioner was soothing, and he knew he could be under within minutes if he allowed himself.

But no, it was the anniversary. He would do what he always did on this day. He pushed himself up and off the comfortable memory-foam mattress and walked to his closet. One of the advantages of the condo, which was built in the 1920s, was its massive size, a total of nearly 2500 square feet. Their bedroom was enormous and included two walk-in closets, one here and one they’d added off the en suite master bath.

Cole’s was in the bedroom, and even though he knew Tommy wouldn’t hear it, he opened his own closet double doors quietly, wincing at the familiar squeak of the hinges. Cole felt a rush of heat rise to his face, despite the frosty air-conditioned chill all around him. Guilt induced that heat, Cole knew. Like an addict, he’d told himself dozens of times he should put away his obsession with Rory. It wasn’t healthy, not for him, and certainly not for his marriage. Secrets never were. Tommy was understanding, sure, but Cole knew he didn’t realize the depth of Cole’s feelings for Rory, not after all these years. Tommy didn’t realize how much he still yearned for Rory, especially around this time of year.

Cole squatted down on the floor, pushing aside his rather sizable collection of running shoes, Cons, and sandals—no wingtips for this boy—and from the far back recesses of the closet, hidden by shadows and garment bags, pulled forth the old black Reebok shoebox. The box held his and Rory’s entire history. Sad thing was, there wasn’t even enough to fill it halfway.

As he opened the box, Cole wondered why he even bothered. In more logical moments, he told himself that the Rory he still loved didn’t even exist anymore, no matter what had happened. If he was alive, he would have aged, just like Cole, by twenty years. So much could happen, physically, emotionally, spiritually, to a person in two decades. Most people weren’t even close to the selves they were twenty years ago.

Still, he dug into the box. There were only a half dozen or so items inside, and Cole knew each and every one of them by heart. He could just as easily have sat in the kitchen and brought each item out in his mind, examined it, and put it back.

But there was something about touching the mementos. There was an electric connection to each item. He likened it to movies he’d seen about psychics—and how they could get a certain energy from a person off an object they’d touched.

First, there was his old ID for the Bally gym at Century City mall. Cole fingered it and laughed, remembering a time when he did have the energy for going to the gym on a regular basis. Thank God he did, because it was where he’d met Rory. At first sight, he knew that all he’d wanted to do was kiss the guy. He believed, and still did, in a way, that to kiss this kind of nerdy, uncoordinated, bespectacled young man would be a revelation and a kind of salvation for him. He’d be home. His wish had come true later that same day. And Cole had not been disappointed.

What they shared had been far too brief, but it had been real.

Next, there was a cereal box top Cole had hung on to through all these years, simply because it was Rory’s favorite breakfast food. It was kind of endearing that Rory loved Froot Loops so much. Cole used to kid him about how childish it was, that he should eat something more grown-up, sensible, something with a little fiber, for Christ’s sake. “Real men don’t eat Froot Loops,” he’d tease, playfully whacking the back of Rory’s head as he sat on their thrift-store couch, hunched over a mixing bowl full of the stuff, just going to town. “You want me to put some cartoons on?” Cole remembered asking, and Rory had nodded, grinning through a mouthful of milk and unnaturally colored, fruit-flavored confetti.

As the weeks and then months passed with no sign of Rory, he’d hung on to the cereal in the pantry. It wasn’t until he moved in with his sister, Elaine, and she was helping him pack up for his move, that he rescued the box of cereal from the trash, where she’d thrown it.

“Oh no, not this.” He’d snatched it out of the wastebasket.

“You and your sweet tooth,” she said, taking the box from him. She opened it and dug around inside, grinning at him. When she put some in her mouth, though, she spit it into the sink. “That stuff is stale, Cole. Tastes like sugary cardboard.” She replaced the box in the trash.

He waited until she was in the bathroom to rip off the top of the box as a souvenir. Even then it was stupid. But somehow the cereal was a concrete reminder of Rory, who could sometimes be a little kid in a very smart man’s body.

There was a poem Rory had written him, late one night after the third time they’d made love. It was scrawled on a yellow Post-it. Bad rhymes and nearly short enough to be a haiku, it was still the only poem a man had ever written to Cole, about Cole. Even Tommy hadn’t, and he made his living as a writer. Cole got a lump in his throat as his fingertips danced over the six lines and the words “You’re all my heart.”

He missed his sister too, although not nearly as much as Rory. She’d passed away the year before, much too soon, a victim of breast cancer. He knew he should get out to Arlington Heights more often and see his nephew, Bobby, who was in high school now.

He returned his attention to the contents of the box. Here was the photo of Rory unpacking in their new apartment. He wasn’t looking at the camera, his glasses had slipped down his nose, and his reddish-brown mop was a mess, sticking up in several different directions. Cole recalled Rory didn’t even know when Cole snapped the picture. He was too absorbed in what he was unpacking—his computer game software, his most treasured possession. Back then Cole thought the photo would be funny, something to rib Rory about once he’d had it developed at Walgreens.

But now, with the sunlight hitting Rory’s head just so, the youthful exuberance on his face, even the bend of that lithe young body, the photo had become sacred to Cole, a reminder of their beginning a new life together.

How short that life had been! If he had known it would all be snatched away just a few weeks later, would he have behaved any differently? That was the thing about life, though; we were never given the courtesy of a warning when something bad was about to strike. We could only mumble bitter what-ifs, which tasted like ash in our mouths.

Cole set the photo back in the box, eyes welling with tears. Why do I do this to myself? Once upon a time, it seemed there was a point to it, but no more. He was a middle-aged married man mourning a too-brief love from when he was in his prime. Pathetic.

He didn’t look at the rest—a takeout menu, a note Rory had left on the nightstand shortly before he disappeared, letting Cole know he’d gone to the gym—he simply put the lid back on the shoebox and then sat for a moment, cross-legged on the floor, staring at it.

As he did every year, he thought I really should get rid of that box. Burn it, maybe. And just like every year, he shoved it to the back of the closet, hiding it behind and under shoes.

It was his history. No one could take that away.

“Hon?” Tommy called from the hallway. “What are you thinking for dinner?”

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Monday, July 9, 2018

Armistead and Me

When I think of Armistead Maupin, the first image that comes to mind is not San Francisco, nor is it a mustachioed charmer with mad storytelling skills.

No, when I think of Armistead Maupin, I think of a skinny young man in his early 20s on an L train in Chicago, devouring all of the Tales of the City books. That skinny young man, with his dark feathered hair and his own mustache was me. If you had seen him on one of those trains back in the day, you probably would have had a hard time making eye contact, because my head was bowed in both reverence and fascination, living in my head the fabulous, friendly, and dangerous lives of the residents of 28 Barbary Lane.

Sure, the Tales of the City series of books was a triumph of pulp culture, a nostalgic and really innocent marker of times-gone-by. The books were entertaining, funny, and touching, because they were about people whom we could truly love living out far-fetched, often soap-operatic situations. We cared about Maryann, Mouse, and Mona because they were real...and we were hungry to see them thrive and find love in a confused and confusing world.

But I loved the Tales of the City books especially back in the early 1980s because to me they
represented a kind of utopia for a young man who was hiding so desperately in the closet. Those books were an escape hatch into a world populated by love and acceptance, things I thought were out of my reach as someone who was was different, as someone who deepest self was buried under equal heaps of shame and self-loathing.

That young man, engaged to be married and barely breathing through a mask he believed he could never remove, found salvation, hope, and redemption in the denizens of 28 Barbary Lane. He found a world where you could have friends, lovers, and acceptance not only despite being different, but also because of it.

It was a rare and wondrous thing and to the shy young man in that time, the books almost seemed like fantasy. But it was nice to live in that world for a while, to let loose of my fears and inhibitions and live vicariously through Maupin's characters, people I longed to know, but could never allow myself the freedom to do so.

Those books take me right back to that time, a time of bittersweet innocence, angst, and often uncomfortable growth.

I didn't know it at the time, but they were lighting a future path for me, one that showed me that being different didn't mean I had to turn away from love.

One that showed me I could not only accept myself for exactly who I was, but celebrate it.

So, maybe I'll roll a joint tonight, and open the very first book and start all over again. And I'll savor those who came before me and showed me the way...


Friday, June 29, 2018

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: What if House Hunters Replaced Houses with Men?

Cover art by Paul Richmond, inspired by Roy Lichtenstein
Every Friday, I use this blog to highlight a title from my list of books and stories already out there that you might have missed. This week, I'm flashing back to a story that I got inspiration from the strangest place: HGTV's House Hunters TV show.

I asked the 'what if?' question so many writers ask when starting a new tale. This time it was, "What if House Hunters replaced houses with men?" OnTopDownUnder Reviews called Husband Hunters:

"The ultimate friends-to-lovers story..."


COVER BACKSTORY
The cover art by Paul Richmond was inspired by the pop art genius of Roy Lichtenstein

BLURB

You never know where the love of your life might turn up. 



When Matt Connelly suggests to his best buddy Cody Mook that they head to downtown Seattle to audition for the gay reality TV showHusband Hunters, both agree the experience might be a lark and a chance to grab their fifteen minutes of fame. What they don't know is that the show, modeled after HGTV's House Hunters, will open doors of longing neither expected. For Matt, the secret love he has long harbored for Cody might be thrust into the spotlight. Cody might realize his search for his perfect-forever-man extends no farther than the man who's always been at his side. 



Husband Hunters promises laughter, tears, and, just maybe, a happy ever after. Will Cody and Matt's story be one of best-friends-to-lovers—or an outright disaster?


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EXCERPT
“COUCH CRITIC” TV Weekly Magazine

By Amory Columbus

This week’s review takes a look at the latest entry in the reality television craze: Husband Hunters. For better or worse, reality TV and shows like this one have become a mainstay of twenty-first century entertainment delivered via the tube. Do TVs even have tubes anymore? I digress….

Husband Hunters is based on a simple premise, shamelessly modeled after another life-decision show: HGTV’s House Hunters. As we all know, that show takes us into the life of someone hunting for the perfect home. We get to stomp around with the potential buyer, testing the water pressure, checking out the backyard, searching for cracks in the ceiling. It’s all great fun and gives us a beginning, middle, and end, and leads up to a happy ending where we get to see the contented homeowner or owners all settled in their new nest, where they will live in residential bliss for many years to come.

Like House Hunters, Husband Hunters does much the same thing, focusing on someone who wants to find that perfect situation where one can be happy for the rest of one’s life—or at least the immediate future. But this show takes an even more modern twist, because it is about gay men looking for husbands. Along with the blossoming of reality television, the twenty-first century has also witnessed the blossoming of marriage equality, so that the premise for Husband Hunters is not only compelling but entirely possible—and legal.

Husband Hunters does not stray far from the show it’s modeled after in its basic premise. We have a gay man looking to get hitched and follow him as he spends three separate weekends with three potential suitors. We are privy to the conversation (easy or stilted), the gazes (soulful, embarrassed, or barely concealed boredom), the dinners, the breakfasts, and the activities the producers planned, designed to help the couples get to know one another. In recent episodes we have seen everything from a kayaking adventure on Kauai’s Wailua River to antiquing in St. Charles, Illinois, to attending the famous Sundance Film Festival. We are not privy to what goes on overnight between the “contestants.”

At the end of the three weekends, our single gay hero chooses one man to go on and… marry! Yes, darling, you heard me right. This ain’t your father’s Dating Game. In a fast-forward to a few weeks or a few months later, we get to be witnesses at a ceremony wherein the couple says their “I do’s.”

Cynical side note: one thing that not many folks know is that the network pays for the divorce if the couple decides to split up within one year. But that’s not something they talk about—it would be like focusing on a skid mark in a Fruit of the Loom ad. Yuck!

Anyway, your Couch Critic is here to answer the question: does this show make for good television? Like the show it’s modeled after, Husband Hunters offers us a complete story with a beginning, middle, and an end. You can’t help but get invested in our lovelorn single guy out to find the man of his dreams. Will he choose the hot but buttoned-down CPA from Santa Monica? Or will he go with the penniless but talented and oh-so-quirky tattoo artist from the Castro? Maybe the ginger bear with the amazing sense of humor will bring him his happily-ever-after. It’s fun to play armchair matchmaker.

But is it ethical? The Couch Critic has to wonder. I presume these guys actually spend more time together beyond the weekend portrayed on the show, just like the House Hunters in that other show must spend time looking at more than simply three options. But it rankles the romantic in me to see such a major life decision become must-watch TV. Can love be parsed into three six- or seven-minute segments?

Oh, what the hell! The romantic in me adores buying into the idea that love can and does happen surrounded by slick production values and ads for Kiehls, Subaru, and the Atlantis Cruise line.

If you can accept the premise and the ethics of a show that creates love and marriage assembly line style like I do, you too may be charmed by Husband Hunters. And you too, like me, may just find yourself more often than not grinning like an idiot or wiping a tear away as you watch the latest installment.


Friday, June 8, 2018

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Lost & Found, A Furry Love Story


Today, I'm thinking about Lost and Found and how it was inspired by my love for dogs...and for a good love story with a happy ending. Hope you'll let Barley the beagle and his human caretakers, Mac and Flynn, into your hearts today.


BLURB
On a bright autumn day, Flynn Marlowe lost his best friend, a beagle named Barley, while out on a hike in Seattle’s Discovery Park.

On a cold winter day, Mac Bowersox found his best friend, a lost, scared, and emaciated beagle, on the streets of Seattle.

Two men. One dog. When Flynn and Mac meet by chance in a park the next summer, there’s a problem—who does Barley really belong to? Flynn wants him back, but he can see that Mac rescued him and loves him just as much as he does. Mac wants to keep the dog, and he can imagine how heartbreaking losing him would be—but that's just what Flynn experienced.

A “shared custody” compromise might be just the way to work things out. But will the arrangement be successful? Mac and Flynn are willing to try it—and along the way, they just might fall in love. 

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Friday, June 1, 2018

FLASHBACKFRIDAY: My Most Autobiographical Novel, BLINK


BLINK is my most autobiographical love story (the first part, which takes place in 1981, anyway) and, perhaps, my most touching. If you believe in love and second chances, I think you'll love BLINK

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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….


EXCERPT
Part One: 1982

Chapter 1: Andy

TRANSFIXED. THAT’S the only word I can think of to describe the effect his eyes had on me. They were a trap snapping shut. It sounds schlocky, melodramatic, the stuff of bodice rippers, but it was true: they were mesmerizing. The irises were fashioned from dark chocolate, so dark it became impossible to distinguish the pupil. They were framed by lashes so black and thick that one might be tempted to imagine these tiny curls of hair were augmented with mascara.

But that was not the case. Carlos, as I would come to learn his name, was all man. The rest of him was pretty spectacular as well—and I’ll get to that—but his eyes were what really swept me up and, in a way, never let me go. Moth to the flame.

Can a person be hopelessly infatuated by just a look?

The answer stood but a few feet away from me that early morning in Chicago, on the ‘L’ train, what was once called the Douglas-O’Hare line. I was twenty-two years old and on my way to work at my first job ever, at a catalog house west of Chicago’s Loop where I was putting my BA in English to use as a copywriter. Back then, mornings I was bleary-eyed and hungry for more sleep. The ‘L’ cars were crowded, and the gentle rocking motion of the train encouraged further slumber.

But Carlos, and the connection our eyes made, snapped me right out of my reverie. Our gazes meeting for only a second was electric, elevating me out of the music I was listening to on my Sony Walkman—Human League’s Dare album. Is memory teasing me by making me think the song that coincided with my first glimpse of Carlos was “Don’t You Want Me”? Or would that be just too perfect, my memory’s way of romanticizing the moment? I do remember the book open in my lap, ignored, although it was one I have come to love and reread throughout the years—William Maxwell’s The Folded Leaf.

It’s been… what? A little more than thirty years since that morning, yet the memory of how he looked then is branded on my brain as if etched there by fire. That image is as clear as if he stood in front of me only yesterday.

It was cold. January. Carlos was bundled into a blue down-filled coat, a brightly colored striped muffler wrapped around his neck. Black jeans. I, who had been riding the train since I switched lines downtown, had a seat, but he stood across from me, jammed against the frost-etched doors, surrounded by people who now only appear to me as blurs.

He was tall, maybe a little over six feet. His eyes I’ve already told you about, but the whole package was about dark allure, exotic. I would later come to learn from him that he was Cuban, but then all I could do was drink in the simple beauty of this man. His hair was black silk. In accordance with the times, it was parted in the middle, feathered back, and just long enough to cover his earlobes. His skin was fine, nearly poreless, and a lovely shade of café au lait. Broad shoulders strained the confines of his bundled-up winter coat.

In that instant when our eyes met, the connection was like a pulse that went straight to my heart. It lasted for only a second or maybe a bit longer, but in that short space of time, my fertile imagination pictured an entire future with this man. Days together strolling a beach as the surf from Lake Michigan pounded the shore. Nights together as Carlos, dark eyes penetrating my own green orbs, pounded me. Hey, I was twenty-two years old—the hormones were flowing freely.

Yes, I lusted for him. In a split second.

And then I tore my gaze away. Heat rose to my cheeks, burning, in spite of the close-to-zero temperatures just outside the train car windows.

He had caught me. Caught me staring. In that fleeting moment, he had read my mind and seen the lust in my heart. He recognized me as the shameful, perverted thing I was, the queer I kept so carefully hidden from everyone I knew.

He was sickened by it. Or maybe another scenario—he was amused. The latter option was no more comforting. I tried to swallow and found my throat and mouth dry. I chanced a quick glance over once more and saw he had opened the Sun-Times and was reading.

My thundering heart slowed a little, and my rational mind tried to soothe me. He doesn’t know. He’s just another stranger on the train.

But God! He’s beautiful.

I chastised myself. I couldn’t allow the luxury of thinking the way I did about Carlos, even if my reverie lasted for only seconds. I was engaged to be married to my college sweetheart, who was, at this very moment, on the suburban commuter train, the Chicago Northwestern, headed into the city for her job as a sales assistant at Merrill Lynch, from her parents’ home in Kenilworth.

Alison. I turned my face to the glass and watched the river of cars moving along on the Eisenhower expressway, trying hard to forget the effect just a look from a man on a train had on me. The power, the attraction, the undeniable need I had for his touch. Whether I would admit it to myself or not, I was starved for the attention.

Yet I couldn’t allow myself these things.

It wasn’t who I was. It went against everything everyone—friends and family alike—believed about me. It went against the grain of the Catholic Church I had been baptized and confirmed in.

My biggest fear then was, if people knew, would they still love me? And the other worse fear was my awful wondering if anyone really did love me, because no one knew the real me, that dark part of myself I tried so hard to deny.

I forced myself to think of Alison, to replace the darkly taunting and delicious image of Carlos with her fair hair and blue-gray eyes, the warmth of her smile. I reminded myself, yet again, of my love for this sweet young woman. I pulled up a memory of her visiting me in the small town of East Liverpool, Ohio on summer break when we were both still in school. My parents had been away, and we spent a lot of time doing what two healthy nineteen-year-olds did (another reason I could deny these gay urges that polluted my dreams and fantasies and gave me no rest). We shared a fancy dinner neither of us could afford at the time just outside Pittsburgh. We saw The In-Laws at a long-ago razed movie theater in downtown East Liverpool. We slept curled into each other’s arms on the twin bed in my boyhood bedroom, spoons in a drawer.

It was magic.

And I cried like a baby as I watched her drive off in the rental car to Pittsburgh International Airport. I longed for her. I wanted her back. I loved her so much.

Weren’t those tears proof of my heterosexuality? Weren’t the days and nights lost in passion with a woman evidence that I could not be the thing I feared most—a gay man?

Of course they were. I couldn’t be gay. I was engaged to be married in just a few months. We would have a big wedding in the Catholic church in Lake Forest. Surely being a happy husband and maybe, one day, father would erase these urges that plagued me, would make me whole, would make me normal.

Surely.

I would be cured.

It wasn’t a stretch. I enjoyed the sex I had with Alison. I loved her with all my soul. Just to spot her walking across campus toward me lifted my heart.

My breathing returned to normal. While I had been lost in thought, we had made several stops on the Congress West line. I looked over. Carlos had gotten off at one of those stops.

The space left by where he had stood seemed to stand out to me, shimmering. Vacant. Part of me wanted to run to the window to see if I could see him making his way along the concrete platform running between lanes of traffic. But I stayed put and tried to tell myself I was glad this temptation was gone.

Chicago is a city of several million, I reasoned.

You’ll never see him again.

The thought was both a relief and a terror.

BUT I did see him again. The next time was a couple of weeks later, maybe a little more. A morning that was a bit warmer but still gripped by winter’s persistent but dying fingers. This was a morning just like the last. Again I was lost in thought, my nose buried in another book. This time I think it was one of my guilty pleasures, Stephen King and his rabid dog story, Cujo. I don’t know if I was listening to music. I was probably thinking of the workday ahead and the copy that would need to be written for products like hair dryers and electric mixers. The crowd was undistinguished, a blur and press of humanity.

I had forgotten about Carlos and the morning a few weeks ago. Work, evenings with Alison, and plans for our wedding that coming summer consumed me, and I was grateful for the distraction.

But then I looked up from the horror of Mr. King and saw him, once again standing in the crowded space by the doors of the ‘L’ car. I think I glanced up because he was looking at me.

Our eyes met. All the forgetting I had done in the ensuing weeks since I had last seen him rushed away like water down a drain. Just a glimpse of him set my heart to racing, sent blood flowing elsewhere too—lower. He was every bit as handsome as I recalled, and his beauty struck me dumb. I think if he had asked what I was reading, I wouldn’t have known what to tell him. A rabid dog was no match for the electrifying eyes of the man across from me.

He smiled at me, just a glimmer, little more than a quick upturn of his full lips.

I turned away quickly to stare out the window. My face burned as my mind interpreted the smile. It was not, could not have been, a gesture of welcome or recognition. It was not a smile that said, “Hey, I think you’re cute too.”

No, it was an expression born of ridicule. It had to be. My self-loathing back then took that simple smile and twisted it into something ugly—a taunt. He was laughing at me. Laughing at the queer who dared to stare at him for just a little too long, giving his hopeless desire away. I burned with shame, and I dared not look back.

I attempted to return to my book, but I found myself reading the same sentence over and over, trying to make sense of it. I wanted to restore order in my world, to feel like I was the young man I wanted to be, the one the whole world believed I should be.

I got off the train at Cicero that morning feeling shaken, yet wondering which stop he had gotten off at.


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Monday, May 28, 2018

Love is Love


"Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident." 

(Louis de Bernières in Corelli’s Mandolin)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

GUEST POST: Joe Cosentino Talks About his New Release, DRAMA FRATERNITY


Interview with Noah Oliver, of Drama Fraternity,
the sixth Nicky and Noah mystery/comedy/romance novel, by Joe Cosentino


Joe: Hi, Noah. Thank you for leaving my imagination and the six Nicky and Noah mystery novels to speak with me about Drama Fraternity, the sixth novel in your award-winning Nicky and Noah mystery series.

Noah: My pleasure, Joe. It’s great to see the real world. On second thought, I like the world of Nicky and Noah better.

Joe: Me too. Noah, since the readers can’t see you, please tell them what you look like.

Noah: I’m tall, with long wavy blond hair that Nicky says smells like strawberry fields forever, and I have blue eyes.

Joe: What does Nicky look like?

Noah: Nicky is handsome and muscular, thanks to the gym on campus, with gorgeous sparkling emerald eyes, thick dark hair, a sexy Roman nose, and smooth olive-colored skin. And he has long sideburns that I love to kiss. Since he was born in Kansas, he truly is a friend of Dorothy’s. Oh, he also has a nearly foot long penis. Thankfully I’m open (pun intended) to new adventures.

Joe: And you hail originally from Wisconsin.

Noah: The son of dairy farmers. That may explain why I like white creamy things. I’m blushing.

Joe: Me too. For any readers not familiar with your mysteries, and shame on them if they aren’t, tell them a bit about the first five Nicky and Noah mystery novels.

Noah: They chronicle how Nicky and I fell in love, got engaged, married, adopted our son, and solved lots of murder mysteries along the way. In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Novel of the Year) college theatre professors are dropping like stage curtains at Treemeadow College, and amateur sleuths/college theatre professors Nicky and Noah (that’s my hubby and me) have to use our 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!

Joe: Love her!

Nicky: Me too. I’m pumped up. On to book two. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and I don our Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors at Treemeadow are dropping faster than barbells. Our relationship reaches a milestone by the end of the novel. That scene brought tears to my eyes.

Joe: Mine too.

Nicky: Time for a vacation. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Nicky and I must figure out why college theatre professors are dropping like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring other college theatre professors from across the US and me. Complicating matters are our both sets of wacky parents who want to embark on all the activities on and off the boat with us.

Joe: Your parents remind me of mine.

Noah: And here I thought they were unique.

Joe: And I love how your father, like Nicky, is somewhat of a sleuth. As they say, men marry their fathers.

Noah: And marrying Nicky was the highlight of my life, as was our honeymoon in Hawaii. In Drama Luau, Nicky is directing the luau show at the Maui Mist Resort, where he and I need to figure out why muscular Hawaiian hula dancers are dropping like grass skirts. Our department head/best friend and his husband, Martin and Ruben, are along for the bumpy tropical ride.

Joe: They’re based on my spouse and me.

Noah: And they are equally adorable. In Drama Detective, Nicky is directing and ultimately co-starring with me as Holmes and Watson in a new musical Sherlock Holmes play at Treemeadow College prior to Broadway. Martin and Ruben, their sassy office assistant Shayla, Nicky’s brother Tony, and our son Taavi are also in the cast. Of course dead bodies begin falling over like hammy actors at a curtain call. Once again Nicky 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. They’re all terrific cozy gay mystery novels starring the man of my dreams.

Joe: Explain for the readers what you mean by a cozy mystery series?

Noah: In the case of the Nicky and Noah mysteries, the setting is warm and cozy. Treemeadow College in Vermont 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. Also, in our series 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 faster than a priest headed to altar boy training (as Nicky would naughtily say). At the center of our story is a touching gay romance between Nicky and me. As we fall in love, I’ve heard the readers fall in love with us. And we fall in love with them!

Joe: Now tell us about your current release?

Noah: In Drama Fraternity, Nicky is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring Taavi, Martin, Shayla, and me. Rounding out the cast are members of Treemeadow’s Christian football players’ fraternity along with two hunky screen stars. When the quarterback, jammer, wide receiver, and more begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and I once again need to use our drama skills to figure out who is sending young hunky actors to the cutting room floor before we hit the final reel.

Joe: Can you give the readers a run down on some of the characters?

Noah: Sure. First and foremost is my handsome husband. And me.

Joe: And?

Noah: We are joined by favorite regular characters like Martin, Ruben, Shayla, our son Taavi, Detective Manuello, my parents, and Nicky’s parents.

Joe: And book six adds a number of new characters.

Noah: Right, like Alejandro Gallo, the handsome and muscular star (who plays a vampire on TV’s Suck Off) cast as the detective in the film. There’s also hunky heartthrob (of the film Full Moon) who plays the lead role of Davey Doubt, the football team’s taunted and misunderstood tight end. And I can’t leave out the adorable and shy young screenwriter, Robert Lee, who penned Davey Doubt’s story based on his own.

Joe: Should Nicky be jealous?

Noah: Never. I’m a one-man man, and that man is Nicky Abbondanza.

Joe: Everyone tells me the Nicky and Noah mysteries are cinematic. Rather than Logo showing reruns of Golden Girls around the clock, and Bravo airing so called reality shows, I would love to see them do The Nicky and Noah Mysteries. I want to play Martin Anderson. Who do you think should play you and Nicky?

Noah: Somebody amazingly sweet and good looking should play Nicky. How about Matt Bomer?

Joe: I don’t think there is anybody on the planet who wouldn’t agree that Matt Bomer is handsome.

Noah: And maybe Neil Patrick Harris can play me. He’s as devoted to his husband and son as I am to Nicky and Taavi. I can also see Rosie O’Donnell and Bruce Willis playing my parents, and Nathan Lane as Martin’s spouse, Ruben. Wanda Sykes would be great as Martin’s office assistant, Shayla. Joe Manganiello would be perfect as Nicky’s brother, Tony. I can also see Valerie Bertinelli and Jay Leno as Nicky’s parents. Come on, TV producers, make your offers!

Joe: I’ll be waiting.

Noah: Who was your favorite character to write in Drama Fraternity? I’m hoping it was my amazing husband.

Joe: It was. I love Nicky’s never say die attitude, wit, smarts, and perseverance in the face of adversity. Like you, Nicky is genuinely concerned for others, and will do anything to solve a murder mystery. I also really admire his loyalty to you. Who is your favorite new character in the sixth book?

Noah:  Robert Lee, the adorable, shy young screenwriter of Tight End Scream Queen. His crush on Malcolm Kahue, the hunky star of the slasher film, is touching and heartwarming. Who was the easiest character to write in book six?

Joe: Ruben and Martin, since they are based on my spouse and me. I love Martin’s paternal instincts toward Nicky and Noah, sense of theatricality, and his inquiring mind. I also like how Ruben keeps Martin in line with hysterical barbs. The older couple stay sharp by engaging in their verbal warfare, but it’s all done in deep admiration and respect. Finally, it’s wonderful to see an elderly couple so much in love (uncommon in the entertainment field), and how they can read each other like a book.

Noah: No pun intended, as Nicky would say. I hope Nicky and I grow old together like Martin and Ruben.

Joe: Me too. Which character do you like the least in book six?

Noah: I started out not liking Alejandro Gallo, the TV star playing the hot detective in the slasher film. He seems conceited and always on the make. But then I realized he was a closet gay actor terrified of losing his heart throb status if his fans were to find out the truth about him. It must have been quite a heavy burden for him to hold. It’s always so much more difficult to hide and lie than to simply be yourself. Which character was the hardest to write?

Joe: Comey Collins and Pastor Karl Bounty. I will never understand how people can use “religious freedom” to try to take away the civil rights of LGBT people and their families. Religious freedom means having the freedom to practice whatever religious you choose, not disobey the law and/or persecute others.

Noah: No arguments here. Which new character was the sexiest?

Joe: Definitely Malcolm Kahue, the handsome, muscular, Hawaiian, rebel without a cause actor playing the leading role of Davey Doubt, the tight end, in the slasher film. Like Robert Lee, the screenwriter in the novel, I think readers will be quite captivated with Malcolm.

Noah: I also think readers will like your other mystery series, even though Nicky and I aren’t in it. Pout. Please tell the readers about it.

Joe: You twisted my arm. In the Jana Lane mysteries published by The Wild Rose Press, I 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. In Porcelain Doll Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. 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. In China Doll Jana heads to New York City to star in a Broadway play, 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.

Noah: Your Dreamspinner Press novellas (In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, 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?

Joe: I tell them to get over it. That reminds me of my gay friends who say they have only one “type” of man they like. Variety is the spice of life. I’d ask them to give the Nicky and Noah mysteries a chance. As my mother said to me as a kid about fish (now one of my favorite foods—minus the mercury), “Just try it, you may like it.”

Noah: And Nicky and I also aren’t in your New Jersey beach series, whimper.

Joe: Good Segway. You should be my agent. 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. But we’re here to talk about the Nicky and Noah mysteries.

Noah: Featuring my amazing spouse and me. Readers, if you haven’t paid a visit to Treemeadow College with Nicky and me, do yourself a favor and get reading.

Joe: The purchase links for Drama Fraternity are below, as are my contact links, including my web site. I love to hear from readers!

Noah: Nicky and I hope to hear from you too, through Joe! We live inside his head. It’s a wild and wonderful place.

Joe: Thank you, Noah, for sharing with us today.

Noah: It was my pleasure. It is also Nicky’s and my pleasure to share this sixth novel in our series. So everyone, take your front row seat. Lights, camera, action, frat house murders!

DRAMA FRATERNITY (a Nicky and Noah mystery)
a comedy/mystery/romance novel by JOE COSENTINO
http://myBook.to/DramaFraternity
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/808178
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1128306684?ean=2940155189787
https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/drama-fraternity-a-nicky-and-noah-mystery


Theatre professor Nicky Abbondanza is directing Tight End Scream Queen, a slasher movie filmed at Treemeadow College’s football fraternity house, co-starring his husband and theatre professor colleague, Noah Oliver. When young hunky cast members begin fading out with their scenes, Nicky and Noah will once again need to use their drama skills to figure out who is sending the quarterback, jammer, wide receiver, and more to the cutting room floor before Nicky and Noah hit the final reel. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining sixth novel in this delightful series. Lights, camera, action, frat house murders!

Praise for the Nicky and Noah mysteries:

“Joe Cosentino has a unique and fabulous gift. His writing is flawless, and his use of farce, along with his convoluted plot-lines, will have you guessing until the very last page, which makes his books a joy to read. His books are worth their weight in gold, and if you haven't discovered them yet you are in for a rare treat.” Divine Magazine
“a combination of Laurel and Hardy mixed with Hitchcock and Murder She Wrote…
Loaded with puns and one-liners…Right to the end, you are kept guessing, and the conclusion still has a surprise in store for you.” Optimumm Book Reviews
“adventure, mystery, and romance with every page….Funny, clever, and sweet….I can’t find anything not to love about this series….This read had me laughing and falling in love….Nicky and Noah are my favorite gay couple.” Urban Book Reviews
“For fans of Joe Cosentino's hilarious mysteries, this is another vintage story with more cheeky asides and sub plots right left and centre….The story is fast paced, funny and sassy. The writing is very witty with lots of tongue-in-cheek humour….Highly recommended.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews
“This delightfully sudsy, colorful cast of characters would rival that of any daytime soap opera, and the character exchanges are rife with sass, wit and cagey sarcasm….As the pages turn quickly, the author keeps us hanging until the startling end.” Edge Media Network
“A laugh and a murder, done in the style we have all come to love….This had me from the first paragraph….Another wonderful story with characters you know and love!” Crystals Many Reviewers
“These two are so entertaining….Their tactics in finding clues and the crazy funny interactions between characters keeps the pages turning. For most of the book if I wasn't laughing I was grinning.” Jo and Isa Love Books
“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow
“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance
“This is one hilarious series with a heart and it just keeps getting better. I highly recommend them all, and please read them in the order they were written for full blown laugh out loud reading pleasure!” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

As an actor, Joe Cosentino 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. He was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for his first Nicky and Noah mystery Drama Queen. The other popular novels in the series are Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Drama Cruise, Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity. Joe also wrote the cherished Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland, and the Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories: A Home for the Holidays and The Perfect Gift. His much-loved Cozzi Cove series published by NineStar Press include Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention), Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings. Finally, Joe is also the author of the cherished Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Coming next: Holiday Tales from Fairyland, the second Tales from Fairyland Book; The First Noel, Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories Book 3; Cozzi Cove: Happy Endings, the fifth Cozzi Cove novel; Drama Castle, the seventh 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 Fraternity, the sixth Nicky and Noah mystery, by Joe Cosentino:

After I starred opposite Noah in a new musical play at Treemeadow College last summer, we took sabbaticals and headed for the Great White Way. But it wasn’t so great. Sure, we won “Bravos!” and Tony Awards, but the glamorous life of living in “the city that never sleeps” grew as tiring as a child with ADD on a sugar high at Christmas after stealing his mother’s uppers. No longer dazzled by the bright lights and flashing marquees of Broadway, we longed for our little hamlet, and our not so little Victorian house (actually the college’s house) in Treemeadow—especially when an offer came my way to direct Tight End Scream Queen, a low budget indie slasher film. When I read the screenplay, I couldn’t help thinking of Williams, Hawthorne, Alcott, Twain, Wilde, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. How they would be turning in their graves. Okay, the script was crap, but the plot intrigued me.
Clearly there would be no Academy Awards in Tight End Scream Queen’s future, however, it was to be my film directorial debut. And it would be shot at our own Treemeadow College! The selected location was the Phi Delta BOFO (Ball on the Field Only) Christian football players’ fraternity house. More importantly, there were roles in the film for Noah, Taavi, Martin, and Martin’s ex-administrative assistant Shayla Johnson. Of course, Martin’s husband Ruben Markinson would produce. One of our female theatre majors (Bonnie Tyler) and three male BOFO Fraternity brothers (Petey Collins, Lenny Benedetto, and Tibald Regina) would appear in the film alongside two stars (Alejandro Gallo and Malcolm Kahue). I was sold, or rather bought.