Monday, April 6, 2020

Shelter at Home with this #FREE Read! LOST AND FOUND

LOST AND FOUND, my story of how a lost beagle brings two men together in Seattle is available for #FREE during the month of April. Get your FREE copy at JMS Books. 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.

EXCERPT
Kneeling on the hardwood floor in the front hallway, Mac Bowersox pulled the harness from Hamburger. “Good boy,” he said, stroking the dog. He then bent a little to give the dog a good, strong hug. The dog wriggled to be free. He’d never liked being hugged. But Mac needed to hug him. He padded after Hamburger as he walked toward the kitchen. Mac stood in the entryway and watched as the dog paused at his two stainless steel bowls and rapidly lapped up almost the entire bowl of water. Mac supposed the poor pooch was tired and parched after the way he’d made him run from the park. But Mac couldn’t take a chance. If that Flynn guy had come after them, Mac didn’t know if he’d have had the courage to continue insisting that Hamburger wasn’t Barley. Because he was. He was Barley. Of course, Mac didn’t know that until just a short time ago. But something weird happened the moment Barley spied the gorgeous man in the gray nylon running shorts and form-fitting lime-green tank top. Mac chuckled grimly. The dog had spotted the succulent morsel of masculinity almost before he did. And Mac could plainly read Hamburger’s reaction -- joy and recognition in one big tail-wagging bundle. At first, Mac didn’t understand the dog’s reaction. He didn’t see Hamburger’s interest as recognition. How could he? He simply thought old Hamburger might have the same eye for the fellas as his master did. Takes one horndog to know another! And Flynn was hotness personified -- with his lean runner’s build and those amazing blue eyes that contrasted so gorgeously with his black hair and those damn long lashes. He was like a god -- someone lifted from the pages of GQ or a fitness magazine. And Mac simply thought Hamburger was reacting in much the same way Mac had to the sight of him. After all, the dog could very well have learned how to ogle a good-looking man from his master, who was, he thought, the absolute champion of ogling. Mac could ogle a hottie like nobody’s business. He could have taught a master class. It should have been a moment of lusty happiness. But it wasn’t. Because now, as Mac looked back on the encounter in retrospect, he did so with deep shame. He felt like punching himself in the face -- repeatedly -- as he watched Hamburger lap up his water. A voice startled him out of his reverie. His deep well of guilt must have been obvious. “What’s the matter, Mac? You look like you just lost your best friend.” Mac looked up to see the wizened and withered face of his landlady, Dee -- short-for-Delores -- Weeda, staring at him with concern in her brown eyes. Mac had occupied her attic bedroom and en suite bath for more than two years now. Mac swallowed. “I almost did. At the park.”

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Trip Down Memory Lane--BLINK and You're in the Early 1980s


When I go back and re-read portions of Blink, my memoirish (I admit it!) gay love story, it takes me down memory lane—and back to my twenties. 

Youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! I was 23 years old in 1981, when the first part of the book takes place and I was big in denial of my gay self. So big, in fact, that I was engaged to be married to my (female) college sweetheart. A large part of the first section of the book deals with two young men being attracted to one another on one of Chicago’s L trains.

Both of them had issues. The character modeled after me, Andy, had more issues that Carlos, the character Andy lusts after, to his great shame. But even Carlos, out at the time, but still not so proud, struggles a bit with his sexuality, which is evident from this little taste from Blink, taken from Chapter 2 and written from Carlos’ point of view.

EXCERPT
The guy obviously has a thing for me. I’ve caught him staring now a couple of times and, hey, I’m flattered. He’s cute. No, maybe that’s not a strong enough word. He’s handsome, with green eyes and dark wavy hair that clues me into some sort of Mediterranean heritage. Italian maybe? Greek?

Whatever. Maybe the word I’m looking for is hot.

I can imagine kissing him and the feel of his dark, bushy mustache against mine.

I don’t ride the train to meet men. I don’t do much to meet men, period, to be perfectly honest. I ride the train in the mornings simply to get to St. Philomena elementary school on the west side, where I teach fourth grade.

I’m okay with being gay. I wasn’t always, hence my stint in the seminary where I studied to be a priest. I learned pretty quickly, by the grace of god, and the hands and mouth of a fellow seminarian, that the priesthood was not work I was cut out for. Not if I wanted to live my life honestly, anyway.

So I left. I had already gotten my teaching degree, concurrent with my seminarian studies, so the job at St. Phil’s, low-paying as it was, was a natural fit.

But I digress. I’m trying to sort out my feelings for this sweetheart on the train. I know he’s gay too. I know he’s attracted. But I also know that nothing will ever come of it.

Why? Because I can see that, when our eyes meet, he’s filled with shame and guilt. I recognize his remorse because I cloaked myself in that dark, heavy fabric myself for many years.

And maybe still do, a little, to this day. The Church teaches us that same-sex feelings are to be avoided. They are not of our natural order. We should turn our sights away from our own sex and devote them instead to loving and pleasing the Lord.

Yeah, good luck with that.

The Lord created that cute guy that gives me the eye on the train, the one I feel this probably misplaced connection with. What is it about him that makes me think of him all the time? Why do I hope he’ll be in my train car every time I step on to it in the morning, even though most times he’s not? Why do I try and quickly scan the windows of the train as it rumbles into the station for a glimpse of him?

Is it just because he’s cute?

There are cute men, hunks, whatever, all around. I occasionally venture out to the intersection of Grand Avenue and Clark to the New Flight bar for happy hour and bring one of them home. Or I head up farther north to the Loading Zone on Oak, where I can watch free porn in the back or dance up front. Somebody usually brings me home.

I never make any lasting connections. I don’t even know if want to. Shame lingers on me like the scent of cigarette smoke after leaving those places.

But there’s something about the guy on the train. He tugs at my heart as well as my loins. Even from the brief glances we exchange, he makes me think there’s the possibility of more than just sex. He makes me think, for the first time in my young life, that maybe I could love another man.

And that terrifies me.

Read more of Blink to see where this flirtation on the train takes these two—does it take them to love? And how long does it take for them to get there?

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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….

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

My Award Winner, CAREGIVER, is FREE Today and Tomorrow


Today and tomorrow only (March 25-26), CAREGIVER, my love story set in another plague time, is #FREE at Amazon Kindle. BLURB Winner of the 2013 EPIC eBook Award for Best Contemporary Romance It's 1991, and Dan Calzolaio has just moved to Florida with his lover, Mark, having fled Chicago and Mark's addictions to begin a new life on the Gulf Coast. Volunteering for the Tampa AIDS Alliance is just one part of that new beginning, and that's how Dan meets his new buddy, Adam. Adam Schmidt is not at all what Dan expected. The guy is an original - witty, wry, and sarcastic with a fondness for a smart black dress, Barbra Streisand, and a good mai tai. Adam doesn't let his imminent death get him down, even through a downward spiral that sees him thrown in jail. Each step of Adam's journey teaches Dan new lessons about strength and resilience, but it's Adam's lover, Sullivan, to whom Dan feels an almost irresistible pull. Dan knows the attraction isn't right, even after he dumps his cheating, drug-abusing boyfriend. But then Adam passes away, and it leaves Sullivan and Dan both alone to see if they can turn their love for Adam into something whole and real for each other. Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07ZMKCQ7R

Monday, March 23, 2020

Happy Re-Release Day: BLUE UMBRELLA SKY Is Out Again


Happy to say that my Lambda Literary Award Finalist, BLUE UMBRELLA SKY, is re-released in a brand-new edition from Ninestar Press today. It's got a beautiful new cover courtesy of Natasha Snow and at a much lower price, too. Get yours from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Umbrella-Sky-Rick-Reed-ebook/dp/B0863FX8ZT or Ninestar Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/blue-umbrella-sky/ BLURB Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage. Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold. When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before—real love. When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted…and maybe begin a new romance. But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Blue Umbrella Sky is a Lambda Literary Award Finalist!



Thrilled to wake up this morning to the news that my novel, BLUE UMBRELLA SKY, is a Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in the Gay Romance category. Originally published by Dreamspinner Press, it's now being re-released in a new edition from Nine Star Press (available wide on March 23, but you can pre-order now here).

BLURB
Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage.

Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold.

When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before—real love.

When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted…and maybe begin a new romance.

But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.

View the full list of finalists here (and BIG congrats to all of you--I am honored to be in your company). Below are the finalists in the Gay Romance category. I encourage you to pick up their books!