Friday, April 23, 2021

New and Notable: THE VAMPIRE'S WITCH by Damian Serbu

 


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About the Book

The Vampire’s Witch welcomes readers back to the world of vampires, witches, and magic.

Jaret Bachmann’s life spins out of control after a handsome stranger saves him from an attack along the bike path on Lakeshore Drive. His estranged high school sweetheart stalks him, the enraged ghost of his ancestor destroys his family, and his bike path savior-cum-lover abandons him after learning Jaret is a powerful witch.

A horrific family tragedy sends Jaret into deep depression. Struggling to find his way afterward, Jaret searches for comfort in the unlikely friendship of a secret vampire community.

Over time, Jaret’s friendship with the vampires strengthens and he forges a new family connection with Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine. But he and Anthony are estranged, and though their souls are entwined, their hearts are another matter.

Xavier, Thomas, Anthony, and Catherine return in this, the third book in The Realm of the Vampire Council series and a sequel to The Bachmann Family Secret.

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Witch
Damian Serbu © 2021
All Rights Reserved

19 April 2010

Chicago, Illinois

Even after three years, living in a big city still creeped Jaret Bachmann out. He hated his fear of dark corners and alleys, not to mention his concern about getting beat up as a gay guy. Straight guys, no matter how peaceful they looked, worried him. In broad daylight, he felt more secure as long as he watched where he went, kept his head up, and stayed in populated areas. And he loved living in the Rogers Park neighborhood. Being in a metropolitan area was so much better for him than small town Colorado. Still, he only had a little light available before the sun went down tonight.

He giggled at himself to release some tension. His mind went to some weird place about the sun setting, like a vampire might jump out and attack him. As if.

Heading out to meet his best friend, Brady, Jaret relaxed once he got to the path along Lake Michigan. He passed several joggers, almost got hit by a bike, and meandered his way south. He contemplated taking the “L” but had plenty of time to walk. The spring weather warmed up Chicago, still a comfortable seventy degrees, even as the sun slowly descended in the west. The weather was perfect. Besides, he could always use the exercise.

Jaret felt safer and got his iPod out to search for music. He loved Lady Gaga; why not a little monster love? Or Train’s latest CD rocked. Still, he paused at “Relax” and grinned. That song totally kicked ass. Totally. And, he hadn’t listened to much of his favorite singer’s first album in a long time. If he loved Lady Gaga, then words couldn’t describe his adoration for Mika.

He popped in his earbuds and picked up his pace. He even danced a little, despite being in public and seeing the few passersby glancing his way as if he’d gone insane.

The path grew darker with the setting sun and the trees lining both sides of the trail. This dance mix steeled Jaret’s nerves. He wiggled his butt, jumped to the side, and smiled at a little old lady and her dog as they walked by.

A few yards later, he was alone. He fretted a little but cranked the music to ignore the world around him. To comfort himself, he reached into his pocket and rubbed the ruby necklace he always brought along for protection. All the Bachmann heirloom jewels empowered his witchcraft and kept him safe, and he loved the beautiful rubies most of all. In a pinch, he could always use his magic to ward anyone off. He’d never had to use his ability to defend himself, except from ghosts, but knew he could if needed. Being a witch had its advantages.

Jaret almost missed the group of four guys sitting off to the side, watching the lake or something. He slowed when he glimpsed a bright-red shirt and thought of his boyfriend, Steve. He’d seen Steve earlier in the day, wearing this totally hot red T-shirt that clung to his chest and showed off his gorgeous biceps. He couldn’t remember the shirt exactly, though he thought it had a University of Nebraska logo on the front.

Jaret lurched to a stop when he bumped into someone. “Uh, oh. Sorry. I didn’t see you.” He glanced up to see another guy with a pretty big belly, yet tons of muscle, not to mention a wicked scowl.

The guy yanked out Jaret’s earbuds and glared down at him. “Fuckin’ fairy. Watch where you’re walkin’.”

“Sorry,” Jaret barely whispered and started shaking. He’d heard about gay bashings but had never experienced one. In fact, he had never been in a fight. He could see this dude meant him harm by the way he loomed over him.

Jaret reached into his pocket for the necklace. His shaking hands got the better of him, and his finger got stuck in the little coin pocket instead.

Growing more afraid, Jaret stepped to the side to continue until the guy moved with him and blocked his way. Jaret stared at the familiar logo of Northwestern football on the purple T-shirt. He often saw the very shirt on Steve. This guy was enormous. Not good.

His heart racing, Jaret scanned for anyone nearby watching. He spotted the group of four guys out of the corner of his eye. Any chance for help evaporated when two of them moved closer, and he saw they, too, wore Northwestern football gear.

One of them grinned and clapped. “Caught yourself a little fag, Mikey? What you gonna do with him?”

Mikey laughed and crossed his bazooka-sized forearms over his chest. Then he reached down and petted Jaret on the head like a dog. Jaret had little time to act to protect himself. There was no time to get the necklace out. He shot to the side to move around the asshole, but the guy put out his leg and tripped Jaret. He sprawled onto the path, skinning his elbow.

Jaret’s heart pounded as fear almost overwhelmed him.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published The Vampire’s Angel, The Vampire’s Quest, and The Vampire’s Protégé, as well as Santa’s Kinky Elf, Simon and Santa Is a Vampire with NineStar Press. The Bachmann Family Secret is scheduled for release July 2020. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.DamianSerbu.com.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Five-Star Rave for THE Q


I'm thrilled with this ★★★★★ review of my novel, The Q, from Sinfully Good Gay Book Reviews. In part, it says:

"I recently read an excellent article entitled "A Feeling for Fiction" by Keith Oakley on how fiction elicits such empathic responses from us. He says "A story is a partnership. The author writes it, and the reader or audience member brings it alive." Reed does this, in The Q, in the best way possible - holding up a mirror before us, allowing us to glimpse our own stories of love and loss, of hope and fear, through the lives and loves of eight folks from the Q."

ABOUT THE BOOK


Step out for a Saturday night at The Q—the small town gay bar in Appalachia where the locals congregate. Whose secret love is revealed? What long-term relationship comes to a crossroad? What revelations come to light? The DJ mixes a soundtrack to inspire dancing, drinking, singing, and falling in (or out) of love.

This pivotal Saturday night at The Q is one its regulars will never forget. Lives irrevocably change. Laugh, shed a tear, and root for folks you’ll come to love and remember long after the last page.

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Monday, April 19, 2021

New and Notable: SUMMONED by JP Jackson

 


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About the Book

Devid Khandelwal desperately wants to experience the supernatural. After years of studying everything from crystals to tarot to spellcasting, nothing has happened that would tell him the Shadow Realm is real. And that kills Dev. As a last-ditch resort, he purchases a summoning board, an occult tool that will grant him his ultimate desires.

Cameron Habersham is Dev’s best friend. Cam loves Dev like a brother and will do anything for him, as long as he looks good doing it. So when Dev asks him to perform the summoning board’s ritual, he reluctantly agrees, but he knows nothing will come of it. Nothing ever does.

However, within a day, Dev and Cam’s lives are turned upside down as wishes begin to come true. They discover the existence of a supernatural world beyond their imagination, but peace between the species is tenuous at best.

Dev finally gets to see the Shadow Realm, meets the man of his dreams, and is inducted into the local male coven. But for all the desires that were summoned into existence, Dev soon realizes the magical community dances the line between good and evil, and Cam ends up on the wrong side of everything.

The old adage is true: Be careful what you wish for.

Excerpt

Summoned
J.P. Jackson © 2021
All Rights Reserved

“It’s how much?” Cam scoffed, glaring at Damien behind the counter.

“$299.99, plus tax.” Damien’s tongue piercing got in the way of the ‘s’, and the word came out more like ‘pluth’.

“Ignore him, Damien. New piercing? I like it.” Dev tried to ameliorate his best friend’s rude comment, then turned to scowl at Cam. “Honestly, why did I ask you to come?”

“Because you love me.” Cam tapped a finger on the box Dev clutched in his hands. “Dev, your parents are going to kill you if you spend that much money.” Cam cocked an eyebrow at Dev. “And seriously, man, how are you going to pay for…whatever that thing is?”

“With this.” Dev pulled out his wallet and flipped the black leather cover open to extract a brand new, slick, and shiny, never-been-used MasterCard.

“And where the hell did you get that?”

“Special offer for impending university graduates.” Dev sneered. If all went well, he’d be graduating in the next couple of weeks. Cam, however, had dropped out the previous year to figure himself out as a rebellion against his parents’ divorce. His mother had fiercely argued against the idea for two months until she gave up and agreed to Cam taking the year off.

“Oh dude. Just say no.” Cam had never been supportive of Dev’s interest in the occult, but this was going to be the last purchase.

Unless this purchase worked. And Dev knew it would.

It had to.

Dev placed all his hopes and dreams on the fact that this was going to work.

*

Dev couldn’t wait to open up his latest acquisition.

When he and Cam had arrived at Dev’s house, all he wanted to do was rush up the stairs to hide out in his bedroom, tucked away from any distractions or family drama, intent on inspecting his newest possession. Well, any distraction other than Cam, who had accompanied him home.

Instead, as Dev started up the stairs, looking back over his shoulder to ensure Cam was following, he careened into his sister Amna.

“Ugh, you oaf!” Amna shoved him backward, pushing him into Cam. “Oh! Whatchya got in the bag? It looks like it’s from that witchy store you like!” Amna slid a finger into the bag to pull it towards her to inspect. Dev pulled his prized possession towards him.

“Cam, come on, let’s go.” Dev snarled at Amna.

Cam, however, wasn’t keeping up. He’d wandered into the kitchen. Cam was playing nice.

“Hi, Mrs. Khandelwal.” Dev’s mom loved to cook and proudly fed her family traditional meals. Tonight’s fare, from the smell of things, was Rogan Josh. Dev hated curry with a passion. He wasn’t fond of lamb either and the two together were wretched. He decided going out for fast food was a better alternative.

“Cam,” Dev ground up his face with displeasure, “let’s go.”

Cam shot daggers back at Dev. He shook his head, rolling his eyes as he returned his attention to Dev’s mom. “Nice sari!” Cam smiled. “Later, Mrs. Khandelwal.”

Upon entering Dev’s room, Cam flopped onto the bed and began examining his too-long fingernails, preening them while lying on his back. Cam’s shoulder-length sandy-brown hair, which had a slight wave to it and a multitude of natural blonde and auburn highlights, splayed out behind his head, making his pose look model-esque. His three-days’ worth of stubble added to that. Dev would never have used the description of “male model” in front of his lifelong pal. The last thing Dev wanted was to feed Cam’s ego. Cam’s head filled most spaces he inhabited.

“Get your damn boots off my bed.” Dev slapped Cam’s feet.

“Oh my god. Yes, Mom.” Cam toed off the designer rainbow-snakeskin boots. The thud, thud ricocheted in the tiny bedroom.

“What are those things made of? Lead?” Dev quipped in response to their noisy removal.

“That’s the sound of a quality product, bitch.” Cam gave Dev the side-eye. Dev caught the glance. They glared at each other for all of a second, then burst into laughter.

He continued to stare at Cam, who returned to plucking away at some unseen dirt beneath a thumbnail. He had to admit, Cam was too handsome for his own good. They had known each other since grade school and had been, for the most part, inseparable. Dev had stood by idly as Cam used his good looks to get what he wanted. Not that Dev would describe himself as ugly. Far from it. But between the two, Cam always got the good-looking guys first, and that encouraged Cam to parade around, flaunting his beauty.

Dev had invited Cam to tag along on his afternoon shopping excursion. The out-of-the-way pagan store, Magix & Mystix, held all sorts of goodies, most of which Dev couldn’t afford, hence the credit card, but he’d had his eye on this particular object for the last couple of months and had squirrelled money away like a miser in order to afford it. All that saving, though, still hadn’t amounted to the amount of cash required.

But his luck had changed when a kiosk from a local bank had opened in the Student’s Lounge at the University. The handsome, bicep-bulging booth occupant, wearing a shirt obviously a size too small, promised an enticing introductory percentage rate on the credit card, stating the bank offered the cheapest one in the city. And with this purchase from Magix & Mystix in mind and the desperation to get his hands on it, Dev signed the credit card contract in a heartbeat.

All the way downtown, and during their short walk to the store, Cam had proclaimed he was being led through the seediest parts of Edmonton’s dark alleyways on their way to make the purchase and complained often about how they were going to be robbed, stabbed, or murdered in some grisly fashion.

None of that had happened.

But Dev had finally got his paws on the summoning board, and as he pulled the rectangular box out of the store’s signature black paper bag, his stomach tensed with excitement. The coveted item had a silver pentacle stamped in the center with one word superimposed over top.

Desires

 Purchase

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Meet the Author

J.P. Jackson is an award-winning author of dark urban fantasy, paranormal, and even paranormal romance stories, but regardless of the genre, they always feature LGBTQ main characters.

J.P. works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.

At night, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shapeshifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. His husband of 22 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summonings and regularly lines the doorway with iron shavings and salt crystals. Imps are most definitely not house-trainable. Ghosts appear at the most inopportune times, and the Fae are known for regular visits where a glass of wine is exchanged for a good ole story or two. Although the husband doesn’t know it, Canela and Jalisco, the two Chihuahuas, are in cahoots with the spell casting.

J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive traveling and believe it or not, knitting.

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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Are You HUNGRY FOR LOVE?


My #catfishing romance, Hungry for Love, has #comedy, #romance, and #suspense as this story of online connection thwarting and finding love winds its way to its happily-ever-after!


About the Book

Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep.

Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky BFF, Marilyn, are poised to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. They are only exploring, but when a face and body are needed for the created persona, they use Nate as the model.

When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate.

However, real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, who doesn’t know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, they feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?

Hungry? Have a taste!


Hungry for Love
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Brandon Wylde faced the form on his iMac screen with something akin to terror. Or maybe the emotion causing his mind to go blank and his heart to beat more swiftly could more rightly be called performance anxiety.

What was causing this fear of failure and quickened breath was the registration page for a gay dating website called OpenHeartOpenMind. Brandon had been all over the Internet, searching for a site that would put him in touch with other gay men looking for romance and the promise of something lasting and not for hookups. Now, there was no shortage of the former—the hookup sites were rampant, and as much as Brandon felt that “to each his own” was a motto worth living by, these sites were not his own. A close-up picture of an asshole (in the literal sense) or a hard dick might be titillating to some, but to Brandon it was simply a bore. How could one tell if one wanted to even “hook up” when seeing only a faceless body part? The idea gave Brandon the creeps. Did we have sex with genitals alone? No, we had sex with entire human beings, for Christ’s sake. No matter how big and thick the dick was or how open and inviting the asshole (literal, again), Brandon couldn’t imagine a meeting of any sort with simply a body part.

His “pickiness,” as his man-whore friend Christian always said, was what kept Brandon alone and yearning at age twenty-nine. “Just go online. You can have a hot guy delivered to your door within an hour, like a pizza, a delicious, mouthwatering pepperoni pizza. Hold the cheese!”

Christian was no stranger to the embraces of many men, culled from sites like Manhunt, Adam4Adam, or Craigslist (or as Margaret Cho referred to it—the Penny Saver of dick) and, more lately, Grindr and Scruff. Christian swore by these electronic connections and, as far as Brandon could tell from their happy-hour conversations, took advantage of their charms on an almost daily basis.

Brandon shook his head and wondered if what Christian was shopping for online was more a fix than a human connection.

Brandon knew what he himself was, what he had, and the condition was incurable.

He was a romantic. As much as his hormones told him that all he really required in this world was a warm place to bury his dick, his more developed senses begged to differ.

Brandon wanted someone with whom he felt a special connection, someone with whom there was that magical spark he read about in the gay romance novels he devoured with increasing frequency, to fill the void missing in his life. Brandon wanted chocolates and flowers. He wanted love poetry. He wanted surprise weekend getaways to remote mountain cabins or quaint bed-and-breakfasts. He wanted someone to curl up next to on the couch, falling asleep together to some old black-and-white movie.

He wanted someone with whom he could share not only his body, but his life.

Christian told him, “You’re never going to find the man of your dreams, unless you bring some of those wet dreams you’re still having at your advanced age to life! Just get laid! No man’s going to buy the merchandise without a free sample.”

Really, Christian? Really? And why are you still alone, then? Brandon knew Christian spent almost all of his free time online. Hell, Brandon could even count on Christian to be on his phone, on Grindr or Scruff, when they were out to dinner or one of the clubs. Brandon would twiddle his thumbs with Christian nearby, oblivious and texting furiously, always on the prowl for his next hookup, who usually lurked somewhere nearby.

Why was the man never satisfied?

Brandon had a secret, one which he had never shared with anyone, especially Christian.

He was almost a virgin. He had only two pathetic sexual experiences on his résumé. First, there was an embarrassing, guilt-ridden “affair” back in high school that had lasted for all of two weeks (although Brandon wished for more). And the one time, back in college, when he had met his second paramour in the basement men’s room of King Library on the Miami University (Ohio) campus. The guy wanted Brandon simply to kneel down between the stalls so he could blow him, but Brandon was far too fearful to engage in such an act and even then, he wanted more—like to see his cocksucker’s face. Besides, Brandon wasn’t even sure why the guy kept putting his hand under the stall, not knowing then it was a signal for him to kneel on the floor. So Brandon, romantic at heart that he was, simply grasped the signaling hand and held it.

This prompted his tearoom trick to flee the bathroom—and Brandon followed him outside.

Somehow, in the stairwell outside the men’s room, Brandon convinced his bathroom suitor to take him home, to an off-campus apartment where the two young men quickly and furtively got one another off, worried about the imminent arrival of the guy’s straight roommate.

That experience, sordid and unsatisfying as it was, left in Brandon a desire to chase windmills, if that’s what his idealism could be called. Brandon was not going to settle. If he couldn’t have the whole enchilada (the enchilada being a relationship that was satisfying not only on a physical level, but also on an emotional one), he wanted none of it.

Unfortunately for Brandon, he had come of age during a time when Internet and even smartphone connections made hooking up fast and efficient. Brandon conceded those connections might possess those benefits, but they were not for him.

He was interested in both of a man’s heads, thank you very much. And he would not settle for less.

He believed a man who thought the same was out there. Somewhere.

Which is what brought him, right now, to the registration site for OpenHeartOpenMind. When he had finally landed upon the dating website, he was thrilled to find their mission statement on the home page, one that dovetailed with his own inclinations.

It read:

We here at OpenHeartOpenMind believe in old-fashioned romance. If you’re looking for impersonal, easy sex and lots of it, there are plenty of other sites that cater to your interests. Go for them.

OpenHeartOpenMind is for the man who wants to date, who knows that sometimes delayed gratification can make the rewards all the sweeter.

OpenHeartOpenMind is for gay men who think the road to love is paved not just with physical attraction (although we’d be lying if we said that doesn’t play a big part!), but with mutual respect, shared interests, and the common goal of wanting more than just merging genitals, but merging hearts and minds as well.

Good luck on your dating journey!

Below the mission statement were icons that urged the potential user to sign up and the current user to sign in.

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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Writing from Experience: BIG LOVE


Big Love contains three of characters I think I’ve fallen in love more than any characters in any book I’ve ever written. I think that favoritism comes from:
  1. My main characters, two high-school school teachers and a pivotal student, are capable of inspiring deep emotion but at the same time, they’re flawed human beings with whom I think we can all identify to an extent.
  2. They’re all, at least in part, me at different stages of my life and my coming out process. Big Love is not autobiographical, but I believe every writer leaves a personal stamp on each of his or her characters (and they on him!).
So, in this post, I want to get you up-close-and-personal with three brave men whom I believe you'll love as much as I do and tell you about their relationship with me and with the delicate process of coming out.

 Our first character is Dane Bernard. Dane’s a little older than your average character in a gay romance, in his forties, and living a very settled life as a high school teacher, with a wife and two adolescent children, a boy and a girl. To look at him, you’d think he had the perfect, settled life. The American dream, the source of contentment. But look closer and you’ll see a man who’s hiding his most essential self under a mound of shame and secrets. See, Dane is in the closet and thinks that, because of the people he’d hurt if he were honest about his orientation, he can never come out of that closet.

Circumstances unlock the closet door, tragic circumstances (as you’ll see when you read Big Love), but nonetheless Dane has no longer got a reason to keep his gay self a secret. Tentatively, he begins to come out. The events in the book force him to come out quicker than he might have wanted or felt comfortable with, but once he’s out and on the other side, he finds the air there is very much worth breathing and very liberating.

I was Dane at one point in my life. As far as I knew, no one knew I was gay. I was married to a woman, had a wonderful little boy, and was living the perfect suburban lifestyle. No one could see that I wore a mask every day and in my darkest hours felt that no one, not friend or family knew who I was. And if they did, my greatest horror was that they would no longer love me. Like Dane, I eventually emerged from my closet and as it was for Dane, it wasn’t always easy. Like Dane did, I found more people stuck by me and still loved me than I thought would, but some did fall away. So I understood Dane’s pain, his anguish and secrets when I was writing. I also understood how a gay man could successfully function—at least for a time and relatively speaking—as a husband and dad. But most of all, I understood and brought to you, dear reader, the joy Dane eventually found in loving himself and that one special man who comes into his life right when he needed him most.

Our second character is Seth Wolcott. Seth’s what I consider the perfectly evolved gay man. Although he’s not perfect, by any means! He’s still smarting from a recent breakup and he’s prone to falling on his ass, in more ways than one (as you’ll see when you read Big Love). But I said Seth was perfectly evolved and that’s because he’s my counterpoint to the other two characters in the book, Dane Bernard and Truman Reid, who, despite a vast age difference, are both dealing with coming out for the first time.

Seth is the character I wrote who demonstrates what it can be like when you love yourself and live your life openly and honestly. With Dane, who’s facing the potential of his first romantic involvement with another man, Seth is not only an object of affection and desire, he’s a role model—one he can and does fall in love with. For Truman, our bullied freshman, Seth is somebody he can look up to and see that by embracing who you are with no shame, you can lead a normal and happy life.

Like Dane, our married, closeted man, I think I also have aspects of Seth. Like Seth, I’m now pretty settled in my gay existence. I’m actually neither proud nor ashamed. I just am. It’s kind of like my height or the fact that I have green eyes. It’s no big deal and yet it’s everything. It’s simply a fact of life.

So it is for Seth.

So it is for me.

Our third character is Truman Reid. It’s no accident that Truman and I share the same last name (albeit spelled differently). My teenage self and Truman have in common a lot of the same heartache growing up. It’s also no accident that Truman shares a first name of a celebrated gay author, Truman Capote. See the picture of the young Capote? In my head, my Truman looks very much like the beautiful young man Capote was at the time his first book, Other Voices, Other Rooms, came out.

Truman is the character I love most in the book. He’s a mess in some ways and in others, one of the most evolved characters. Like Truman at the start of the book, I endured teasing and bullying throughout most of my junior high and high school years. I know his pain. And when you read the opening scene of the book at the first-day-of-school-assembly and how Truman is terrorized, know that I was recreating something that happened to me when I was Truman’s age.

The difference between Truman and me is that I took a lot longer to deal with my shame and conflict over who I was than he did. I didn’t have his teachers, Dane Bernard and Seth Wolcott, to help me accept myself. I didn’t have Truman’s wonderful mom, Patsy, who said to him:

  “God made you just the way you are, honey. Beautiful. And if you’re one of his creations, there’s nothing wrong in who you are. You just hold your head up and be proud.” 

Although make no mistake—I did have a wonderful mom. She just wasn’t as evolved in her thinking as the fiercely loving Patsy. I suspect—and hope—that you will love Truman as much as I do. And I hope that you will help cheer him on his journey from being a bullied victim to an out-and-proud kid who loves himself fiercely and accepts no less from others.

BLURB
Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay. But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men.

And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

New Release: MORBIDLY OBESE About a Vampire Who Has Some Heft to Him

 


I have a new story out and it's one that will surprise you--a vampire tale that's laugh-out-loud funny.

ABOUT THE STORY
Milton Bradley was not your typical vampire. Finding someone to love and with whom to share eternity would be difficult enough for a man who weighed over 400 hundred pounds, let alone one of the undead who only came out at night. Milton is caught in an endless cycle of blood sucking, guilt over his weight, and eating more to make the pain of being different go away.

Can the answer to his prayers be found in a 12-Step group for overweight vampires called Morbidly Obese?

HAVE A TASTE

Milton sat near his coffin, a custom job crafted from oak, wearing a blood moustache and feeling miserable.  It was a vicious circle, he thought, I am an addict.  The hunger gets out of control, I binge, then feel horrible, then binge again to ease the guilt and remorse.

It was the blue gray hour just before the sun rose and Milton recalled Sheila and Marie, the surprised looks on their faces when he approached them and tried to convince them that he too, had stumbled into the wrong meeting, suggesting they still their beating hearts by having a few slices of pie at the Baker’s Square which was just around the corner.  The women had been leery, but the promise of French Silk pie made them abandon their good sense when Milton suggested a shortcut through a dark alley from which they never emerged.

Milton climbed into his coffin and pulled the lid shut.  He promised himself that he would begin his diet tomorrow.  Tomorrow, he told himself, was another night.

But when the sun set the next night, Milton found himself rising with hunger pangs.  It was hard squeezing out of the coffin and Milton told himself mildew must be getting into the crypt somehow because the wood was surely beginning to contract.

He tried to deny the hunger pangs, telling himself that it was too difficult for him to have just one.  He could never stop at just one...no, he had to have a battalion, a troupe, a club, a group, a squad, a regiment, an assembly, a crew...drinking, drinking, drinking until he felt bloated, until the sharp copper tang of freshly-let blood filled the air...it was only then that Milton felt sated.

And just look where it’s gotten me, he thought with despair, I can’t even see my feet!  Thank God I don’t ever have to look in a mirror.

Milton struggled into his XXXL black canvas pants and black sweat shirt. Even these were beginning to feel snug and soon he would have to find a tailor, because he had gone as big as he could go with off the rack clothes.

And in spite of all these sensible thoughts, Milton still craved blood...large quantities of blood.  Why weren’t there vampire diet pills?  Why couldn’t there be an undead equivalent of Slim Fast?  He’d heard of liposuction...but how could he find a physician to perform the operation?

The first step of Morbidly Obese, the self-help group came back to him, haunting: We admitted we were powerless over our compulsive death and dining behavior; our lives had become unmanageable.  Milton felt a tear at the corner of his eye and reached up to wipe it away: his finger came back smeared with blood, greedily he licked it from his own tantalizing digit.

The tiny taste of blood made him crazy, filled him with blood lust.  In the midst of his red-misted fervor, he thought: this is the way it is for addicts...the yearning controls them instead of the other way around. He realized he was powerless. And a tiny voice inside said: “Yes, Milton you are powerless...so go with it.  Why fight it?  Lay down the sword and the shield and drink until you’re full.  Go on, you deserve it.”

Milton was out of the crypt as fast as his pudgy legs could carry him.  There was no gliding on air for a 400-lb. vampire.  His hunger warred with his desire to be thin.  I’ll start tomorrow night, he told himself, heading toward a little theater he knew of, one that was in rehearsal for a production of Twelve Angry Men.  Twelve was such a lovely number, he thought, and licked his chops.  These twelve men won’t be so angry when I get through with them!

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Little Taste of THE Q, My Novel About a Small Town Gay Bar


My latest novel, The Q, takes place over the course of one pivotal Saturday night in a small town gay bar. Read on for a glimpse into just one of the characters my story chronicles.

EXCERPT FROM THE Q ©2021 Rick R. Reed 

Nobody to Love

Nelson DiCarlo wondered, for the thousandth Saturday night, why he didn’t stay home.

After all, he had regular cable, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. He had a fully-stocked liquor cabinet and could make himself just about any cocktail he could imagine, from the simple—gin and tonic with a twist of lime—to the exotic—a Pimm’s Cup with orange and cucumber slices. His pantry was stocked with chips, cookies, and crackers to go with the cheeses and dips in his fridge.

His dog, Homer, a so-ugly-he’s-cute mix of dachshund and poodle, was always ready to cuddle or take a long walk in the night air. So, he couldn’t say he was lacking for company. Homer was short on judgment, long on love, and as long as Nels was paying attention, the dog never got bored. If Nels’s attention did stray, the dog reeled him back in by covering his faces with kisses.

No, really, there was no reason why he, at sixty-two years old, should be getting ready to go out to a bar on Saturday night. Really, he needed to simply accept his lot and stay in, go to bed early, like the old man he was.

Nearly entirely banished were the dreams that being out at the Q—the only gay bar in his little one-horse town of Hopewell, West Virginia—would conjure up a man who’d be everything Nels dreamed of: a passionate lover, a faithful companion, a best friend forever. He even held out little reason to believe the conversations he’d have with the same folks he saw every Saturday at the Q would be any different or more exciting than they had been on any other Saturday night, dating back years. 

He had no reason to think that, even if he’d given up all hope for a Mr. Right to come along on his white horse, he would meet a Mr. Right Now. There were a few of those in his past, but none lately. Not for a long time… So long, in fact, that Nels no longer pined for a physical connection with another man.

So why go out?

It was routine. It was a bore.

He was old. And so, so tired.

Yet, here he found himself, in the tiny blue and yellow ceramic tile bathroom of the house he’d grown up in—the one he’d inherited from his mom when she passed from lung cancer seven years ago—shaving in front of the medicine cabinet mirror.

It was funny, how he sometimes glimpsed the man he once was in that mirror, especially when half of his wizened face was hidden by Barbasol shaving cream.

If he squinted just right, he could look back in time and see the man he’d once been, hidden in the depths of the glass. He’d been handsome, what Mom would call a head-turner. On the shorter side at five-feet-eight-inches, Nels had been solidly packed with effortless muscle and good definition. Firm pecs. Bulging biceps. Thick black wavy hair and eyes so dark the pupils got lost in the irises. A perpetual five o’clock shadow that highlighted, rather than hid, the sharp angles and planes of his face, a contrast to his cupid’s bow lips. People, men mostly, used to tell him he should be a model.

That young buck hidden in the mirror was forever mistaken for being younger than he actually was. In his twenties, he was always asked for an ID. When he was in his thirties, everyone imagined he was in his twenties. In his forties, people guessed thirties. Even in his fifties, folks would guess mid- to late-forties and they were always surprised when Nels corrected them, because he never lied about his age. It was always a delight to get the compliments, “I never would have guessed!” “What’s your secret?” And that dreaded left-handed compliment, “You look great—for your age.”

And then, suddenly, and without warning, he looked his age. The revelation crept up without warning.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Step out for a Saturday night at The Q—the small town gay bar in Appalachia where the locals congregate. Whose secret love is revealed? What long-term relationship comes to a crossroad? What revelations come to light? The DJ mixes a soundtrack to inspire dancing, drinking, singing, and falling in (or out) of love.

This pivotal Saturday night at The Q is one its regulars will never forget. Lives irrevocably change. Laugh, shed a tear, and root for folks you’ll come to love and remember long after the last page.

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