Wednesday, January 30, 2019

10 Silly Questions with THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN Author Z Allora

Excited to have fellow Dreamspinner Press author Z Allora answering my silly queries on the blog today. Read on to hear all about her new book, The Temple of Heaven....  


RR: If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
ZA: Jesus and we’d have a press conference to clarify what were the original intentions of his words and who set them down. I’d ask my love to make turkey tacos cause they are to die for… heavenly if you will.

RR: Who do you think you are?
ZA: A broken love slave who loves completely and to a fault. Someone who is nonbinary of the transmasculine variety. An author who has the story but not always the skill to tell it (Sending a prayer up to editors, proofer, critique partners, and beta readers!). I’m traveler… a survivor and a warrior.

RR: What’s your problem?
ZA: I surrendered to the silence. It’s easy for a stutterer to do that which is why I love writing. My fingers don’t hesitate on words. (Okay, granted editors might say my fingers are grammar adverse but what can I say? Not much again stutterer.) I’ve been working hard for the last few years on finding my voice (I want to thank all my Pretty Ones & Z-bies who have helped support and guide me on this path). My problem now is my voice comes out as a scream.

RR: If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
ZA: No, I’d ask for more wishes then I would share with you.

RR: Where you at?
ZA: In my writing place which lets me look at my dragon tapestry, a crystal fountain that my love and I built over the last 25 years, the blue demon from Malaysia, an Edo period print of a dragon and two tigers from Japan, two Costa Rican masks, and my fireplace.

RR: If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
ZA: Orgasm

RR: What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
ZA:  Cheerios though Lucky Charms and Captain Crunch if I’m throwing caution to the wind.

RR: When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
ZA: Depends on the morning.

RR: Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
ZA: I do. (I’m scared of people who don’t know the difference.) I can tell the difference because I can look at a hole in the ground but without mirrors the other isn’t on view (to me).

RR: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
ZA: (… that’s a trick question. Okay I’ll be a responsible author and not sexualize everything.) My computer and phone: ABC = Always Be Charging! Damn epic fail this is where I’m supposed to promo… got it. 

BLURB for The Temple of Heaven
Music is Tian Di’s life and his love, and he’s made plenty of sacrifices. His career is finally taking off with his band, Made in China, and he’ll continue to put music first... until he meets Jordon. Then insta- lust becomes insta-love and a commitment to the future—no matter how difficult it might be. 

Jordon lives in a bubble constructed by his overprotective older brothers, who are so controlling that they’ve kept him from dating. A talented artist, Jordon managed to keep his success with a Japanese manga publisher a secret from his family, but now he fears discovery. It’s easier to let his brothers handle everything, but Jordon has reached his limit. He’s ready to draw some boundaries so he can be his own man and face all the challenges that come with that. 

Their families and careers aren’t the only obstacles. Jordon must accept his identity as a gay man who doesn’t top or bottom. Fortunately, Tian Di—and his special talents—help Jordon open up to his sexuality in an erotic adventure that spans Japan and China, and with love, luck, hard work, and open minds, will end in a happily ever after. 


Monday, January 28, 2019

New and Notable: OUT OF THE UNDERGROUND by St Sukie de la Croix

My friend Sukie has written an important book about #LGBT history--a story that hasn't been told--until now.

Hope you pick up a copy!

Out of the Underground explores homosexuality in the radical press. It covers the rise and fall of the Gay Liberation Front in several cities, including Milwaukee, Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, San Jose, as well as gay metropolises like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Prior to a regular and reliable gay press, the only positive images of homosexuals appeared in the underground rags. In the turbulent 1960s, young gay men couldn’t relate to the stuffy newsletters of Mattachine-era groups. Young lesbians too were drawn to the direct action of the Radical Lesbians and Women’s Liberation Front, rather than the gab and java get-togethers of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB). Those young radicals were more likely to read the Great Speckled Bird, the Ann Arbor Argus, the San Francisco Oracle, the feminist It Ain’t Me Babe, and the anarchic Berkeley Tribe, than the Ladder, the DOB newsletter.

Out of the Underground is also about the culture, music, politics, and art, that radicalized young queers. Clearly, not all LGBTs were left-wing revolutionaries. Some were conservative and worked within established gay groups. The majority were deeply closeted. This book isn’t about them.

Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Check Out the Cover for My Upcoming BLUE UMBRELLA SKY!

It's finally time to share the cover (by the talented Reese Dante) for my upcoming book, BLUE UMBRELLA SKY, which is my first book set here in Palm Springs.

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.

Can they lay down their baggage and find out how redemptive love can be?

Dreamspinner Press ebook 
Dreamspinner Press paperback
Amazon paperback

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Brokeback Mountain and Family Obligations

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

10 Silly Questions with Author Jodi Payne

Excited to have fellow Dreamspinner Press author Jodi Payne answering my silly queries on the blog today. Read on to hear all about her new book, Heart of a Redneck....  


RR: If you could invite any famous person, dead or alive, for dinner, what would you eat?
JP: Assuming I could manage to eat in front of a famous person at all, it would have to be something not-messy that I wouldn't spill on my shirt or drop on my chest. Maybe a steak. That cuts nicely and doesn't dribble.

RR: Who do you think you are?
JP: Oh, man. I'm a Leo. and so I absolutely think I'm King of the Jungle. I'm usually right, I know what's best, I give the best advice, I am totally the smartest lion on the block. I occasionally have to remind myself to rein it in because obviously that is BS, not everyone needs my thoughts or opinions, I don't need to try to fix things for people all the time. Sometimes it's much better just to listen.

RR: What’s your problem?
JP: See #2. Also, I'm hopelessly okay with talking to people I don't know.

RR: If you could have one wish, would you give it to me?
JP: If I thought you needed it more than I did, yes. Otherwise you're SOL, man. King of the Jungle and all.

RR: Where you at?
JP: New Jersey. Not "Jersey", not "What exit?". New Jersey. See #2.

RR: If you had to choose only one vice, what would it be?
JP: Coffee. Coffeecoffeecoffee. Coffee.

RR: What’s your favorite brand of cereal?
JP:  Frosted Mini-Wheats. But you have to be very careful with the milk so they don't get soggy. I have advice about this too for anyone interested. Thought I might I'll tell you even if you're not. See #2.

RR: When you wake up in the morning, what celebrity do you most resemble?
JP: Billy Idol.

RR: Do you know your ass from a hole in the ground? And if so, how do you tell the difference?
JP: I do. Typically my ass walks around with me wherever I go and the hole in the ground stays put. I hope. No, wait--I don't hope, I know. See #2.

RR: Do you have anything you’d like to plug?
JP: Oh, Rick... trying to make a girl blush.

Okay. I'll pimp Heart of a Redneck--the new country mouse-city mouse, opposites attract romance that BA Tortuga and I co-wrote and published by Dreamspinner Press.

Who is Jodi Payne?
Jodi Payne takes herself way too seriously and has been known to randomly break out in song. Her men are imperfect but genuine, stubborn but likable, often kinky, and frequently their own worst enemies. They are characters you can't help but fall in love with while they stumble along the path to their happily ever after. For those looking to get on her good side, Jodi's addictions include nonfat lattes, Malbec and tequila any way you pour it.

Links (take your pick):

Twitter: @JodiPayne 
Instagram: @jodipayne1800 

BLURB for Heart of a Redneck
Colby McBride is a blue-collar cowboy trying to make ends meet laying tile in Colorado. A loner by choice, Colby works hard with his hands and finds his peace camping in the mountains outside Boulder. Gordon James is a white-collar restaurateur who owns not one, but two successful establishments in downtown Boulder. He’s a sophisticated urbanite who is devoted to his work and is accustomed to getting what he wants.

The men are friends, but sparks fly when Colby falls in love and decides to show Gordon how much fun a good old boy can be. They’re just beginning to explore their relationship when Gordon’s sister’s suicide leaves him with custody of his five-year-old niece. 

Colby comes from a huge family and is eager to help with the girl and to prove his worth to Gordon. But neither of them is ready for the tremendous changes to their already busy lives, or for how this new relationship with Olivia challenges them, complicating the way they interact with each other. 

They say opposites attract, but can these two very different men work together to join their disparate lives and form a strong, if highly unlikely, family?