Wednesday, December 31, 2014

5 stars for my psychic thriller, THIRD EYE

Ending the year on a high note with a 5-star review of my psychic thriller, THIRD EYE. 


The Novel Approach Reviews says: "Third Eye was a very satisfying read, colorful and full of rich detail, with many layers both between and within its characters. I appreciated the full length of this novel and Rick’s ability to sustain the emotional hold he had on the reader for the whole story, the intensity never dropped. The final resolution was brilliantly graphic and still sweetly hopeful. This is hands down the best work I have read by Rick R. Reed in two years. It is a showcase to his skills and left me in awe of his ability to create emotions with words. I sincerely hope there are more books coming from Rick in this genre."

Read the whole review here.

And buy THIRD EYE here.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Blink Cover Reveal

COVER REVEAL! 


BLINK will be out January 23, 2015 (but available for pre-order here). This cover represents the awesomeness that is cover artist Reese Dante! And the story is my most autobiographical....

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….

Preorder ebook
Preorder paperback
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Audio book of Raining Men Gets Rave Review from Hearts on Fire Reviews

Reviews don't get much better than this one! Hearts on Fire had this to say about Raining Men, my award-winning book about a man's journey from sexual addiction and a damaged past to finding love:

"I highly recommend this story to all lovers of M/M romance, and especially to those who...love a hurt/comfort theme..... This was a long audio book, however the story was so good that I found myself listening as often as possible so that I could see how Bobby’s recovery progressed, and I sure wasn’t disappointed. Don’t hesitate to buy this one."

Read the entire review here.

Buy the ebook, paperback or audio book.

Blurb
Sequel to Chaser

The character you loved to hate in Chaser becomes the character you will simply love in Raining Men.

It’s been raining men for most of Bobby Nelson’s adult life. Normally, he wouldn’t have it any other way, but lately something’s missing. Now, he wants the deluge to slow to a single special drop. But is it even possible for Bobby to find “the one” after endless years of hooking up?

When Bobby’s father passes away, Bobby finally examines his rocky relationship with the man and how it might have contributed to his inability to find the love he yearns for. Guided by a sexy therapist, a Sex Addicts Anonymous group, a well-endowed Chihuahua named Johnny Wadd, and Bobby’s own cache of memories, Bobby takes a spiritual, sexual, and emotional journey to discover that life’s most satisfactory love connections lie in quality, not quantity. And when he’s ready to love not only himself but someone else, sex and love fit, at last, into one perfect package.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MATCHES My Holiday Story for 2014 Is Now Out

My poignant gay take on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" is now out in the Kindle store, just in time for the holidays!

"Matches" is only .99 cents!

BLURB
Christmas Eve should be a night filled with magic and love. But for Anderson, down on his luck and homeless in Chicago's frigid chill, it's a fight for survival. Whether he's sleeping on the el, or holed up in an abandoned car, all he really has are his memories to keep him warm: memories of a time when he loved a man named Welk and the world was perfect. When Anderson finds a book of discarded matches on the sidewalk, he pockets them. Later, trying to keep the cold at bay hunkered down in a church entryway, Anderson discovers the matches are the key to bringing his memories of Welk, happiness, and security to life. Within their flames, visions dance and perhaps a reunion with the man he loved most.

Click here to buy your copy!


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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stephen King and I Both Have New Releases Today!


So today, me and Mr. Stephen King both have new horror novels releasing.

I bet Steve I could beat him in first day sales on Amazon. Please help me do it. There's a crisp ten dollar bill on the line. Right now, I rank around 59,000 in the Kindle store and he's at--get this--number 8, so we have our work cut out for us.

Buy your copy of Third Eye in ebook or paperback.

BLURB
Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn't sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls' parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the "third eye."

Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

Buy your copy of Third Eye in ebook or paperback.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

My Psychic Thriller, THIRD EYE, releases November 11!

Today, I'd like to share with you a sneak preview: the first chapter from the book. You can pre-order your copy from Amazon here

Third Eye BLURB
Who knew that a summer thunderstorm and his lost little boy would conspire to change single dad Cayce D’Amico’s life in an instant? With Luke missing, Cayce ventures into the woods near their house to find his son, only to have lightning strike a tree near him, sending a branch down on his head. When he awakens the next day in the hospital, he discovers he has been blessed or cursed—he isn't sure which—with psychic ability. Along with unfathomable glimpses into the lives of those around him, he’s getting visions of a missing teenage girl.

When a second girl disappears soon after the first, Cayce realizes his visions are leading him to their grisly fates. Cayce wants to help, but no one believes him. The police are suspicious. The press wants to exploit him. And the girls' parents have mixed feelings about the young man with the "third eye."
 
Cayce turns to local reporter Dave Newton and, while searching for clues to the string of disappearances and possible murders, a spark ignites between the two. Little do they know that nearby, another couple—dark and murderous—are plotting more crimes and wondering how to silence the man who knows too much about them.

Buy for Amazon Kindle

EXCERPT

Chapter 1

Cayce D’Amico felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. The gathering clouds were angry, bruised, hulking blue-gray shapes pressing down on the hills.

“Oh, there’s one hell of a storm coming. That’s for sure.” He watched the darkening sky through the kitchen window, pausing from his work of chopping burdock stalks into sticks for the Sicilian fritters called cardoons. The wind kicked up, audible, becoming icy, the leaves turning to display their pale undersides. The last few days had been the opposite: punishing temperatures in the upper nineties and humidity so thick you could drown in it. Miserable. Cayce had lain in front of a fan in his boxers at night as it whirred and blew the hot air around, offering no relief.

It was like lying inside a convection oven.

He beat eggs, added some grated Romano and salt and pepper, and set the batter next to the burdock stalks. He wiped his hands on a dishtowel.
Worse, though, than the brewing storm outside was the fact he couldn’t see his son, Luke. Luke, at seven, was prone to wandering away. Usually such distraction wasn’t of much concern, because Fawcettville wasn’t like Pittsburgh, about an hour east, with its crime and traffic. Fawcettville perched on the banks of the Ohio River, overlooking the hills of the northern panhandle of West Virginia. It was mostly known as a town where nothing ever happened. Sometimes the inactivity seemed like a drawback, dull. Other times it was a blessing—especially for a single dad bringing up a little boy. Then you appreciated blessings like living in a dull backwater town, where the worst crime you could remember was some kids breaking into Bricker’s drug store last summer.

Peace of mind.

So why did Cayce suddenly feel something wasn’t quite right? Why did the fact that Luke was no longer in the backyard make him queasy?

Cayce and Luke didn’t live in some sort of exclusive area. Their little house was surrounded by others much the same: older houses covered in peeling paint, rusting aluminum siding, or asphalt tile that was supposed to look like brick but never did. Cayce had grown up in this little hollow down by the Ohio River and knew most of his neighbors. Just as they had watched Cayce playing from their porch swings and gliders, many of the same people watched Luke, even though their hair had turned gray and their children had grown up and moved away, especially when the steel mill in a neighboring town had closed down, taking any hope of prosperity with it.
“Maybe it’s just the wind making me so cold.” Cayce rubbed at the dark hair on his forearms, making the coarse black fur stand on end. He was sure the temperature had dropped at least fifteen degrees in the past half hour. This drop, coupled with the slate blue clouds perched on the southern horizon, did much to raise the gooseflesh on his forearms. The chill might have been welcome if Luke was at the kitchen table, playing with his Hot Wheels.

But he was not. And Cayce, on the younger side of thirty, knew that at least a portion of the goose bumps on his beefy arms was from a distinct yet inexplicable dread and not the cold breeze, the dark clouds, and the imminent storm making its way into Fawcettville.

The Swiss chard laid out to be cleaned could wait, as could the tomatoes from his garden, still unsliced. Cayce did not like Luke being out where he couldn’t see him as weather bore down. He didn’t like it at all.

He slid into a pair of flip-flops he kept by the kitchen door. “Oreo!” he called, and a black-and-white mutt about the size of a boxer, with bright brown eyes, bounded into the kitchen, toenails clicking on the linoleum.

“Wanna go outside, boy? Wanna help me find Luke?” Oreo had been left behind two years ago by Marc, Cayce’s “friend and roommate,” as his mother put it. Marc couldn’t stand the stifling life of a gay man in a small town and had set out for the bright lights and tall buildings—and easy men—of Pittsburgh. Who knew? Perhaps Marc had been swayed by all the Queer as Folk reruns he used to watch. Once he’d packed up his Nissan pickup, Cayce never saw the guy again and had never found love again.

But who the hell had time for that crap!

Cayce didn’t know why he ever bothered to think of the man, who had never been much help as a parent to Luke… or even as a dog owner, for that matter. Marc had been all about Marc. “C’mon, Oreo!”

Outside, the wind was kicking up. Papers and small pieces of gravel skittered across the road in front of the house. Cars passing by had turned on their headlights, piercing the odd, darkening afternoon light. The maple trees lining the road bent in the wind, like fingers splayed backward. The sky had a funny greenish tinge, and Cayce had seen that weird green color enough times to know what the storm portended.

Cayce made his way down First Avenue, searching from side to side and pausing occasionally to rub a piece of grit out of his eye. “Luke!” He yelled, “Luke!” even louder when there was no response. Where was that boy?

A drop of water landed on his arm, icy. The rows of houses lining the yellow-bricked street had deserted porches, everyone escaped indoors. The lights switched on inside the houses made them look like sanctuaries, and Cayce wished he could be in his own sanctuary with his own son, smells of the Sicilian peasant food he had grown up on filling their little house. Cayce supposed his neighbors had all retreated into their living rooms, where they could turn on the Weather Channel or listen to the radio to validate what was happening before their eyes.

Everyone, that was, except for Lula Stewart, bless her. Lula, who had lost her husband the winter before, still sat on her glider, wispy dyed-black hair being lifted by the wind.

“He went thataway,” Lula called, pointing to where First Avenue dead-ended at the woods.

“Great,” Cayce whispered to himself, then said to Lula, “Thanks. I’m going to wring his little neck for him.”

“Be nice, Cayce. He’s only seven.”

“I know, I know.” Cayce headed for the darkness of the trees at the end of the street. As he picked up his pace, so did the wind and the droplets of water, coming heavier every second.

The sky flashed with white light. Cayce gasped as a crack of thunder ripped through the air, reverberating through the ground and leaving in its wake the smell of ozone. “God, that was close.” Why didn’t Luke have the sense to come in out of the rain?

The sky ripped open and released the downpour, a sibilant hiss, so heavy it nearly blinded Cayce. In seconds, his T-shirt and board shorts were drenched, clinging to him like a second skin. Water sluiced from his curly black hair into his eyes. The sky morphed into premature night, brightened only by the lightning. The thunder’s crash upped Cayce’s sense of anxiety and fear with each crack. The volume and the bright lightning seemed to have a direct line to his heart, which hammered double time in his chest.
“Luke!” he screamed above the wind that yanked twigs and whole clumps of leaves from the trees above him. An orange drink carton hit Cayce in the back of the head.

“Luke!” He watched in despair as Oreo ran back toward the house, tail between his legs. “Traitor,” he called after the dog.

The woods were even darker than the street. Cayce held his hands out in front of him to avoid crashing into trees. Already, his flip-flops were making a sucking sound as he pulled his feet out of the mud.

Annoyed, Cayce wiped the icy rain away from his face, flinging his damp mop of black hair back, trying to see in the storm’s murk. In the brief bluish flash of lightning, the woods looked empty, deserted. Why couldn’t he see Luke cowering under a tree, or better yet, running toward him, hell, even running away from him? Anything but this dreadful emptiness, abandoning him to the woods and the storm.

“Luke!” he yelled again, his throat growing hoarse. He tried to keep his voice even so Luke wouldn’t think he was mad, so the little boy wouldn’t hear his dad’s fear. “Luke, if you can hear me, yell. I’m not mad.”

And he wasn’t, not at his little boy anyway, whom he pictured trembling under a tree or huddled under a neighbor’s porch, shivering, terrified, wet, and cold. But Cayce was angry at himself, for not keeping better tabs on the weather and the whereabouts of a seven-year-old. What was wrong with him? Maybe his mom was right; maybe Cayce was too young (and alone) to take on the responsibility of rearing another human being. She was always telling Cayce to give the boy back to his mother. “Little boys need their moms,” his own mom often proclaimed.

Apparently, though, moms didn’t always need their little boys. Case in point, Joyce, Cayce’s wife of less than a year, who was only too happy to leave the “burden” of Luke with Cayce when she abandoned them both four years ago, heading off without a backward glance for the presumably greener pastures of Portland, Oregon. Like Marc, Joyce apparently believed happiness awaited outside the city limits of Fawcettville, Pennsylvania.
“Luke!” he called once more, competing for dominance with the wind, the thunder, the driving rain.

But all that answered him was the roar of the storm and the sound of detritus whistling through the air and smacking against the trees. Cayce was beginning to think his quest was in vain, that Luke was probably already at home, sitting at the kitchen table and wondering where his dad was, hungry for his supper.

It happened so quickly Cayce only experienced the event through instincts, like an animal.

The flash was so bright, Cayce gasped, squeezing his eyes shut.

The scent of ozone filled the air. Hair stood up on the back of his neck, tickling.

The rumble of the thunder deafened, so loud and close it drowned out his scream. And the sharp break of the tree branch above his head was akin to the crack of a whip.

The limb crashing down on his head dropped him to his knees. Everything went dark.

Buy for Amazon Kindle

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2 NEW Audiobook Releases! Raining Men & Dinner at Home

I'm so pleased to announce that two of my titles have recently come to audiobook. They are both available from Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. 

Hungry for a warm, angsty love story...on audio? My "romance with recipes" DINNER AT HOME, is now out on audiobook (narrated by Michael Anthony)! Get it here.  


Blurb
It only takes a few days for Ollie D'Angelo to lose his boyfriend, his job, and his home. Instead of mourning what he doesn’t have, Ollie celebrates what he does: the freedom to pursue his real passion—cooking. He begins Dinner at Home, a home-catering business, and it takes off.

Late one night, Ollie catches Hank Mellinger, a streetwise hood down on his luck, about to rob his car. Ollie soon discovers that appearances aren’t necessarily what they seem. Hank isn’t a criminal caught red-handed, but a hungry young man trying to make a life for himself and the four-year-old niece he’s trying desperately to take care of.

Instead of calling the cops, Ollie offers Hank a job and a way to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Together, they discover they can really cook... and that their shared passion for food just might lead to a passion for each other.

And one of my most acclaimed titles, RAINING MEN, released on audiobook just before DINNER AT HOME (narrated by John Solo)! Get it here.


Blurb
Sequel to Chaser 

The character you loved to hate in Chaser becomes the character you will simply love in Raining Men.

It’s been raining men for most of Bobby Nelson’s adult life. Normally, he wouldn’t have it any other way, but lately something’s missing. Now, he wants the deluge to slow to a single special drop. But is it even possible for Bobby to find “the one” after endless years of hooking up?

When Bobby’s father passes away, Bobby finally examines his rocky relationship with the man and how it might have contributed to his inability to find the love he yearns for. Guided by a sexy therapist, a Sex Addicts Anonymous group, a well-endowed Chihuahua named Johnny Wadd, and Bobby’s own cache of memories, Bobby takes a spiritual, sexual, and emotional journey to discover that life’s most satisfactory love connections lie in quality, not quantity. And when he’s ready to love not only himself but someone else, sex and love fit, at last, into one perfect package.
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Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Portrait of Johnny Wadd


No, it's not what you think....

Sometimes a reader really touches your heart. That was the case yesterday when one sent me a sketch he had done inspired by the feisty little chihuahua in my book RAINING MEN, inappropriately named Johnny Wadd. The little dog plays a major role in helping my main character, Bobby, find his own heart and humanity. Anyway, I wanted to share the sketch with you.

BLURB

Sequel to Chaser

The character you loved to hate in Chaser becomes the character you will simply love in Raining Men. It’s been raining men for most of Bobby Nelson’s adult life. Normally, he wouldn’t have it any other way, but lately something’s missing. Now, he wants the deluge to slow to a single special drop. But is it even possible for Bobby to find “the one” after endless years of hooking up?

 When Bobby’s father passes away, Bobby finally examines his rocky relationship with the man and how it might have contributed to his inability to find the love he yearns for. Guided by a sexy therapist, a Sex Addicts Anonymous group, a well-endowed Chihuahua named Johnny Wadd, and Bobby’s own cache of memories, Bobby takes a spiritual, sexual, and emotional journey to discover that life’s most satisfactory love connections lie in quality, not quantity. And when he’s ready to love not only himself but someone else, sex and love fit, at last, into one perfect package.

Buy Raining Men.

Monday, September 1, 2014

HUSBAND HUNTERS is Out! Win an Autographed Copy!



Husband Hunters
, my "reality TV romance," is officially out! Read on and find out how you can win a free autographed copy.

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 show Husband 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?

ISBN-13 978-1-63216-235-9
Pages 206
Cover Artist Paul Richmond


Read an excerpt

BUY
from Dreamspinner Press in ebook or in paperback
Amazon Kindle
All Romance Ebooks

CONTEST
If you want to win a free, autographed copy of Husband Hunters, you gotta follow the rules:

1. Go to the Amazon Kindle page for Husband Hunters and click on "Look Inside!" just above the book's cover image. Read the excerpt and answer the following questions.
A. In the review of the TV show Husband Hunters that opens the book, the critic names three products advertised on the show. What are they?
B. 
What was the second thing main character Cody Mook woke up to at the beginning of chapter one?
C. 
At what Seattle hotel were auditions for Husband Hunters being held?
D. 
Matt and Cody spot a hottie at the auditions that looks very much like a popular TV actor in a very popular TV series. Name the actor and the series.

2. E-mail me your responses at jimmyfels@gmail.com
BONUS!! 3. If you're on Twitter or Facebook, send out a message to your followers, urging them to enter the contest. You could say: Rick R. Reed is giving away an autographed copy of his latest book, HUSBAND HUNTERS! Details: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/ 

That's it! I will draw one winner from all e-mails received on Friday, September 12. Unfortunately, because of the prohibitive cost of mailing, this contest is open only to US residents. If you're outside the US and would like to win an ebook of Husband Hunters, simply follow the steps above (and note that you are outside the US) and I will enter you for the digital version in the format of your choice.

Please feel free to repost this blog! 




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Monday, August 11, 2014

Cover Reveal: HUSBAND HUNTERS

Let the hunt begin! 

I am so psyched to share the cover of my next release, Husband Hunters, with you today. Paul Richmond did an amazing job with a mere suggestion from me: that he use a Roy Lichtenstein style when designing the cover. Paul blew me away with the cover, which perfectly suits the mood of this contemporary romance--quirky, colorful, passionate, and immersed in pop culture.

What do you think?

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 show Husband 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?

PREORDER From Dreamspinner Press (widely available September 1, 2014)
Ebook
Paperback


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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Split Personalities



Note: This post originally appeared at OnTopDownUnder Reviews.


The public sometimes sees two of me—one is the “Stephen King of gay horror” and that me writes books like A Demon Inside, Blood Sacrifice, and Third Eye. This Stephen King character is grizzled, bearded, and grumpy. You don’t want to meet up with him in a dark alley.

The other me is much lighter, in terms of psyche. That me is a gay romance writer. This guy, who is clean-shaven, has a smile for everyone, and is generally in a good mood, writes love stories like Chaser, Legally Wed, Caregiver and Dinner at Home.

These two me’s have seldom been left alone in a room together and when they have they have managed to produce books that are a hybrid of the two, books like The Blue Moon Café and Bashed. Those two combine the sometimes-at-odds with the other combination of horror and romance.

For the first time ever, the two me’s sat down in a café in Seattle’s free-spirited Fremont neighborhood (neutral territory because the horror me likes the big troll statue living under one end of the Aurora Bridge—see picture). In order to keep things, um, straight, the following interview uses HM to indicate Horror Me and RM to indicate Romance Me. And yes, you can romance me, anytime….

HM: So what are you doing here? Must you show up everywhere I want to be? Christ, I can’t get a moment by myself.
RM: Sorry, but it’s a free country. I can be anywhere I want. What’s that? A cappuccino?
HM (rolls eyes): It’s a black coffee. Drip.
RM: Well, I’m having the crème brulee latte.
HM: You would (snorts).
RM: I detect a note of disdain here.
HM: Well, there’s more than a note, Miss. Why are you sitting down at my table? Did I invite you?
RM: No, but I belong here as much as you do.
HM: Getting back to the disdain, I have disdain for you because you are taking over my personality and stealing my reputation. Before you happened along with your little love stories, I was doing quite well for myself writing about blood, gore, and things that go bump in the night. You know, mapping out nightmare territory. I had my author photos taken in cemeteries. People knew me for throwing a good scare into them.
RM: And they still know you for that, which is something you’d realize if you took a good, hard look at yourself. But I am here to tell you there is room for more than one writer under this rapidly-thinning head of hair.
HM: But why? Why romance? It’s the antithesis of everything I stood for.
RM: Not really. Romance, like horror, is ultimately about strong emotion. Fear, like love, is universal. So, we are not as different as you’d like to think.
HM: I’m not so sure about that. I write about people being killed, people being haunted, monsters, ghouls. I don’t see how that’s much like your la-di-da romance tales.
RM: Think of the emotions involved. The rising sense of excitement, the increased heart rate and perspiration, the breathlessness. All of those are present with both fear and passion.
HM: Okay, I get it. I get it. But does that mean you still have to step on my toes? You’re ruining my reputation.
RM: Just like with love, sweetheart, there’s room for variety, for harmony. I think we can coexist.
HM: But you seem so much more powerful lately. Just look at the books that have come from you over the past year.
RM: You’re right.
HM: Why is that?
RM (pausing to consider and take a sip of his latte): Maybe it’s because I’ve reached a different place in my life. I’ve reached a place where the stories I want to tell are about something other than the terror that life can bring, but the joy that life can bring, too.

See, for years, when you were really my dominant force, I was consumed with finding love in my own life. And I came close many times, for one reason or another, it never worked out. That is, until I met Bruce. He was the one. The perfect fit. The soul mate. The one with whom I can’t imagine not spending the rest of my days.

Once I was secure in my own personal romance, only then was I free to write about others’. Does that make sense? I needed to confront my fears (not just the ghastly, curl-your-hair ones), but the ones about being alone, about maybe never making that connection that was more than just passion, but family.

HM doesn’t say anything for a long while. He sips his coffee and eyes me, like I’m some sort of alien—not the illegal kind, but an invader from another planet. The kind he might write about. For a moment, I am afraid, he will fling the coffee into my face, but then a strange thing happens—he begins to fade away, just like the ghosts in the stories he used to pen.

Just as he’s about to disappear completely, he stops in mid-transformation and eyes me.
HM: I get you. You were who I always wanted to be. But, although I am fading away before your very eyes, I am not disappearing.

I am merging with you.

Bashed Blurb
It should have been a perfect night out. Instead, Mark and Donald collide with tragedy when they leave their favorite night spot. That dark October night, three gay-bashers emerge from the gloom, armed with slurs, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.

The hate crime leaves Donald lost and alone, clinging to the memory of the only man he ever loved. He is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by Mark and what might have been. Trapped in a limbo offering no closure, Donald can’t immediately accept the salvation his new neighbor, Walter, offers. Walter’s kindness and patience are qualities his sixteen-year-old nephew, Justin, understands well. Walter provides the only sense of family the boy’s ever known. But Justin holds a dark secret that threatens to tear Donald and Walter apart before their love even has a chance to blossom.

Buy Links
Dreamspinner Ebook.
Dreamspinner Paperback.
Amazon Kindle.
Amazon Paperback.
AllRomance eBooks.


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Monday, July 28, 2014

Softly, Subtly, Homophobia Creeps In

Note: This post originally appeared at Joyfully Jay M/M Reviews and More.

So, my newly-reissued book, Bashed, is all about a tragic hate crime and its aftermath. The book revolves around an atrocity that happens all too frequently for the gay community (Google some statistics and you’ll be appalled). Fortunately, Bashed is also filled with hope and ultimately details a journey back toward life and love.

But what I wanted to talk about today is not the horror of a hate crime, where someone is physically hurt—or even killed—but about the root of hate crimes, homophobia, in its subtler forms. The excerpt below demonstrates the way hate toward gay people can manifest itself in a way that may not leave a bruise, but hurts just as much nonetheless. I am grateful that I have never been physically brutalized for being who I am (at least not as an adult), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been the brunt of prejudice. I’ve seen the downcast eyes and the friendliness drop when I mention my husband to a clerk in a store, or the sudden withering of enthusiasm from an old school friend when they realize, from my Facebook page, that I’ve become a bona fide queer. I’m not here to rant, but I know what prejudice feels like.

And so does Donald, my main character in Bashed, who is trying to process the loss of the man he loved so much when he feels the hateful tingle of homophobia (at the wake for his boyfriend)….

Excerpt
He looked around. The place was crowded. He never realized Mark had so many friends and family members. He and Mark had sort of cocooned themselves, as lovers often do in the early months, against the outside world. Donald would have said they were still in their honeymoon phase. He hadn’t even seen Grace as much as he used to once Mark came along.

Was Mark in the crowd right now, wearing a clever disguise? He would be eager to hear the loving words those left behind uttered, the fond memories and funny recollections. Would he be feeling much the same sense of loss that Donald was feeling? Perhaps he was one of the guys gathered near the front door. They certainly looked enough like Mark: big boned, ruddy complexions, and the curly blond hair that had so turned Donald’s head.

Grace brought him out of his reverie and wishful thinking. “Check out the guys by the door up there,” she said softly. “Those have to be Mark’s brothers. They look exactly like him.”

Of course. Mark had two brothers, Phil and Steven, both older, but not by much. Donald had seen pictures of them but had yet to meet them. He had yet to meet any of Mark’s family, in fact, and that had been a sore spot in their relationship. But Donald, the older, supposedly wiser member of the couple should have understood Mark’s trepidation. It would have meant bringing home his first boyfriend.

“Yeah. Quite a resemblance.” Donald drew his lips into a tight line. He wished they hadn’t come to the funeral home, to the wake that had been delayed for reasons he didn’t quite understand. He looked at his sister, whose eyes were rimmed in red. She had pulled her hair into a bun and wore a simple black dress, heels, and a strand of pearls that had once belonged to their mother. Grace had done enough crying for the both of them in their short time at the funeral parlor. Apparently she had no problems believing it truly was Mark in the casket.

“You know what? I was thinking. What if that box up there is empty? What if Mark isn’t really in there? What if he’s still alive?”

Grace’s mouth dropped open, and her face took on an expression of stricken fear. She looked nervously around her. Donald supposed it was to see if anyone on adjoining folding chairs had heard his remark. She smiled, but it was an uncertain smile that bore more of a relationship to a grimace than an expression of joy.

“What are you talking about?” Grace cocked her head and put her hand to Donald’s face.

He moved away. Her hand dropped. “What are you doing? Checking for fever?”

“No, of course not. But, sweetheart, what you said, that’s crazy. You do know that, right?” Her brows furrowed, and she leaned close enough that he could smell cinnamon, the Dentyne she had tucked into her mouth.

Donald shook his head and sighed. “It’s just wishful thinking. Maybe trying to understand why I have yet to cry over this.”

Grace squeezed his hand. “Oh, baby brother, that’s easy. You’re still in shock. You haven’t accepted things yet. It’s understandable.”

Donald stared again at the casket, his gaze roaming over all the mourners, the little groups of them gathered in clusters, all speaking in hushed, serious tones, as if they wanted their conversation to match the muted wallpaper, ecru walls, plush carpet, and the overly heavy drapery.

What did any of this have to do with Mark?

He turned to his sister. “I know Mark is not in that box.”

She cocked her head and frowned.

He waved her away. “Listen. He’s not in that box. He’s not in this room. I’m not crazy. Sure, wishful thinking made me entertain—for like, five seconds—that Mark isn’t really dead, but I know he is. But I also know Mark isn’t in that box. Not Mark. Mark’s shell. Mark’s body. Maybe. Those things might be there. But Mark is no longer with us. So he can’t be in that box. He’s not in this room either. He wouldn’t be caught dead….” Donald sputtered out a mournful laugh at his unintentional quip. “At a place like this. Mark was full of humor and life. If he were here, he’d be cracking jokes in a corner, trying to make people laugh. He’d be trying to turn this wake into a party, just like his Irish ancestors probably did at one time.”

Grace put a hand on her brother’s chest. Donald could see she was relieved. “You’re so right.” She started to say something else and stopped. Donald had seen, peripherally, the movement he supposed had caught his sister’s eye. One of Mark’s brothers was heading their way.

Donald marveled again at how much the man looked like Mark, albeit an older variation on the same theme. He had the same wild blond curls, although his were more tamed by his shorter haircut, the same broad shoulders, although this man sported a gut Mark didn’t have, and the same cherubic face. He was heading toward them with purpose, a smile lighting up his features.

Donald swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry, and tried to smile back. He didn’t know if he was ready to finally meet some of Mark’s family. He supposed he could mouth the same words that had been mouthed at funerals since time immemorial—sorry for your loss, such a tragedy. He could only hope the sympathy would be returned.

The man stood before them, smiling. Grace started to say, “We’re so sorry about your brother—” But the man cut her off and turned his attention to Donald.

He continued to smile, but his words were tinged with acid. “You the boyfriend?”

Donald’s mouth grew a little dryer. He nodded, suddenly unable to put his brain and tongue together to form speech.

“I just wanted to say how happy I am to lay eyes on you. How happy we all are—here in this room—to finally see you.” He cocked his head, grin undiminished, blue eyes (so like Mark’s!) twinkling. “See, I wanted to thank you.” The smile faltered for an instant, and a sob went through the man’s body, like a tremor. His eyes welled with tears. Then the emotion vanished, replaced once more by that hateful, terrible smile. Donald thought it would have been so much better if he were frowning, furious, yelling at the top of his lungs. “See, I wanted to say thanks for making my little brother a fag.”

“Oh, now—” Grace whimpered, but the man put up a warning hand near her face to cut her off.

“Thank you very much, sir. Before he met you, my brother was normal, just one of the guys. He played touch football with us; he did normal things. He even had a girlfriend. Thanks to you, he’s dead. Thanks to you, he was so badly beaten that we delayed the funeral so they could work on him, make him presentable so we could have a last look at him.” He glanced over at the closed casket. “You can see how well that worked out.” The man smiled more brightly and nodded, as if he and everyone around him agreed with what he was saying, as if he were speaking the voice of reason. And even though his voice was soft, the intensity with which he spoke caused the other people talking around them to go silent. Donald’s face felt hot as he realized people were eavesdropping. He wondered if they felt pity or hatred for him, wondered if there was any ground between the two extremes.

“Yeah, you ‘turned’ him. Isn’t that what you pansies like to do? Look at you. You were old enough to be my brother’s father! Why couldn’t you have just left him alone?” He turned away for a moment, and when he turned back, the smile was gone, and tears were rolling down his face. His mouth was drawn into a tight line. “None of us would be here now if it weren’t for you, you perverted son of a bitch.”

Donald’s face felt even more heat, as if it were on fire. He was so stunned by the man’s words, his mind had gone blank. He could think of no rational way to respond. The whole funeral parlor had now gone silent. He realized people were staring at him and Grace.

And he realized he didn’t belong here.

Another of Mark’s brothers, the eldest, Donald imagined, with a bald pate, came over and took the man who had just bashed Donald verbally by the arm. “C’mon now, man, this isn’t right. Let’s just go outside and cool off.” The other man cast a glance back at Donald, and Donald was grateful to see that there was sympathy in his gaze. He mouthed the word “sorry” over his brother’s shoulder and continued to pull him away.

Grace and Donald sat in stunned silence for only a few minutes. Grace took his hand. “I think we should go. You want to say good-bye?” she gestured with her head, stiffly, toward the coffin at the front of the room.

Donald managed to gather some spit in his mouth, enough to say, “No. I’m not saying good-bye.”

Grace spoke softly, her voice infused with kindness. “Then let’s just go.”

Dear old Grace, Donald thought, bless her heart for holding it together when she could have easily let everything spin out of control. My rock.

Donald followed his sister out of the funeral home, feeling again the heat in his face as conversations went silent as they passed, as gazes bore, like lasers, into his back.

Outside, the pair of Mark’s brothers stood stiffly next to one another, smoking cigarettes. Neither was speaking. They simply stared forward, two strangers who happened to be occupying the same place at nearly the same time. Donald could feel the tension coming off them, though.

“Just a minute,” he said to Grace. He felt himself begin to tremble as he walked away from his sister and her comforting closeness. But he couldn’t leave things as they were. He neared the brothers and caught the gaze of the one who had spoken so cruelly to him inside. The man glared at Donald, ready for a fight.

Donald cleared his throat and said, in a soft voice, “I’m really sorry you lost Mark. But I lost him too. And when you’re calmer, maybe you’ll realize that it wasn’t me who killed him, or the fact that we loved each other, but it was attitudes like yours.” Donald swallowed. “I hope, for Mark’s memory, you can come to see that.”

Donald didn’t wait for the man to respond. He simply turned, took Grace’s hand, and walked away.

Blurb
It should have been a perfect night out. Instead, Mark and Donald collide with tragedy when they leave their favorite night spot. That dark October night, three gay-bashers emerge from the gloom, armed with slurs, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.

The hate crime leaves Donald lost and alone, clinging to the memory of the only man he ever loved. He is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by Mark and what might have been. Trapped in a limbo offering no closure, Donald can’t immediately accept the salvation his new neighbor, Walter, offers. Walter’s kindness and patience are qualities his sixteen-year-old nephew, Justin, understands well. Walter provides the only sense of family the boy’s ever known. But Justin holds a dark secret that threatens to tear Donald and Walter apart before their love even has a chance to blossom.

Buy Links
Dreamspinner Ebook.
Dreamspinner Paperback.
Amazon Kindle.
Amazon Paperback.
AllRomance eBooks.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Blue Moon Cafe's Sam Comes to Life!

Once in a while you run across an image that could be a character you created. This IS Sam, my Italian chef and maybe-werewolf from THE BLUE MOON CAFE. All he's missing is the wolf tattoo.

Someone--or something--is killing Seattle's gay men.
A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city's gay gathering areas.

Someone--or something--is falling in love with Thad Matthews. 
Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places: a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair's love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam's unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Buy ebook.
Buy paperback.
Buy audiobook.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Comfort Comes in Many Forms

Note: This post originally appeared at  Joyfully M/M Romance Reviews and More.

If you’ve read any of my romance books, you know that I like to take my characters from heartache to a happy-ever-after. There’s something so satisfying about that—how we can disappear into a book and live for a bit in world where everything eventually comes out all right.

The recipe below, included in an early chapter of Dinner at Home, is all about the heartache portion of the story. My main character, Ollie D’Angelo, has lost his boyfriend, his home, and his job, practically in one fell swoop. Comfortably Curried Carrots and Lentils is what he makes for himself his first night in his new—and lonely—apartment. Try the recipe when you’re in need of a little comfort.

Hey, it worked for Ollie.

Comfortably Curried Carrots and Lentils 
(Serves 4)

2 cups green lentils

2 carrots, peeled and diced

3.5 cups chicken stock
2 T grated ginger
1 small red onion, chopped
2 T curry powder
3 T tomato paste
1 cup coconut milk
1 t salt
1 t cumin
½ t coriander
½ t cinnamon
2 cups baby spinach
Garnishes: Greek yogurt, chopped parsley, sliced jalapenos

Use a 4-qt. slow cooker.  Rinse lentils and pick through for any stones. Combine all ingredients, except for baby spinach, and set cooker to low for six hours or until lentils are tender. Add baby spinach at the very end, replace cover and let wilt. Serve with optional garnishes. Can also serve over rice or couscous.

Here’s an excerpt that shows where Ollie was at the beginning of the book. And, as you can see, things are not all bad as Ollie gets ready to prepare his carrots and lentils.

EXCERPT
In spite of the goodies he had purchased, Ollie felt the exhaustion peculiar to emotional shock set in on him as he entered his new apartment. Calling it home was out of the question, at least in these early days. The place was depressing and the fact that it was empty made it even moreso. He dared not even talk to himself, because his voice would echo pathetically.

After setting down his purchases on the kitchen counter, he walked back to the main living area and pulled the blinds up. He looked down at 10th Avenue, which, a bit farther south, morphed into Broadway, the main drag through the gay ghetto of Capitol Hill, wondering if he would ever feel a sense of home again. It didn’t help that, while he was making his way there, the cloud cover had become complete, blocking out the sun and shrouding the day in somber tones of gray. A light drizzle, more of a mist, had begun to fall.

Everything outside looked dirty and drab. If Ollie had taken a photograph, it would have shown up in black and white.

Ollie wondered why he wasn’t brought to his knees on the floor with grief and wondered why he wasn’t crying. Wouldn’t these be normal reactions to one’s world falling apart? Why wasn’t he on the phone with his mom in Chicago, pouring out his almost laughable tale of woe?

Ollie did sit down on the floor then, and smiled. He didn’t smile because he felt particularly happy, but because he realized he wasn’t sad.

Sure, he had lost almost everything in one fell swoop and was now faced with the prospect of starting over with almost nothing. But it didn’t take long for him to emerge from the cloud of shock and confusion and realize the reason he didn’t feel despair.

He was free.

Starting over did not represent a troubling, exhausting climb back to where he had been, but a chance to begin anew. And that prospect was liberating, exciting even.

How many of us have a chance to start over, really start over? Ollie realized that his experiences with Walker and his job had taught him things, things that would need to be examined more closely, but on the surface he knew that he now had the chance to learn from what he had been through, and come out on the other side a better person.

He could do anything.

BLURB
It only takes a few days for Ollie D'Angelo to lose his boyfriend, his job, and his home. Instead of mourning what he doesn’t have, Ollie celebrates what he does: the freedom to pursue his real passion—cooking. He begins Dinner at Home, a home-catering business, and it takes off.

Late one night, Ollie catches Hank Mellinger, a streetwise hood down on his luck, about to rob his car. Ollie soon discovers that appearances aren’t necessarily what they seem. Hank isn’t a criminal caught red-handed, but a hungry young man trying to make a life for himself and the four-year-old niece he’s trying desperately to take care of.

Instead of calling the cops, Ollie offers Hank a job and a way to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Together, they discover they can really cook... and that their shared passion for food just might lead to a passion for each other.

BUY
Dreamspinner Ebook
Dreamspinner Paperback
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
AllRomance eBooks

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I'm Glad She Wants to Stay Awake

Last night, I had the pleasure of doing a reading at Seattle's historic Rendezvous in Belltown. It was a lot of fun. The organizers asked me, as part of my reading, to respond to a prompt, which was, "I'm glad she wants to stay awake, but I don't know. Is that really the best way?" This is what I wrote (and read): 

"I'm glad she wants to stay awake, but I don't know. Is that really the best way?"

“What are you talking about?” Alan rolls over in bed to regard me with a quizzical stare.

“She should sleep. She should rest,” I tell him.

“Who?”

“Oh come on, you know who. My mother.”

Alan doesn’t say anything. I can feel him staring at me in the dark and I don’t know if I can bear to meet his gaze, to see the sympathy in his eyes. Instead, I look up at the ceiling and repeat, “I’m glad she wants to stay awake.” I feel his hand, warm on my chest, put there in an attempt to comfort. I want to twist my chest upward to knock it off. “She wants to stay awake,” I say again, a little ticked.

We’re both tired. Not just from the funeral this morning, but from witnessing the long-range war that goes by the ubiquitous name—cancer. I can think of nothing else but Mom in that room at the hospice, afraid that if she succumbed to her weariness and allowed her eyes to close, she’d never open them again.

I change the tense of my statement, turning my head at last to look at this person next to me, this person who’s meant to be comfort. “She wanted to stay awake.”

“I know, sweetheart. I know.”

The tears, which have been threatening to come for a very long time, but always delayed, spring up, trickle down. “I wanted her to stay awake. But she didn’t. And I never got the chance to say ‘I love you.’

Alan snuggles closer, rests his head on my chest. “You didn’t have to say the words. She knew.”

“She went to sleep,” I pronounce, thinking that Alan, who knew me better than anyone, was right.

“And it was the best way,” he says softly.

I pull him close. “Let’s sleep.”

We lay silent for a long time, until I hear the deepening of Alan’s breath beside me. I nudge him, poking my elbow gently into his side. His breathing changes and I know he’s awake again.

“What?” he wonders.

“I love you,” I say.

(Photo courtesy of David Warner)
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: BASHED

Do you believe that real love never dies? 


That's the premise behind my July 14 release from Dreamspinner Press, Bashed. Bashed is a haunting blend of romance, suspense, and ghost story, wrapped up in a timely story that could have been ripped from today's headlines.

I'm happy to share the amazing cover by Aaron Anderson with you today. I think it's simply gorgeous, and, appropriately, haunting. What do you think?

BLURB
It should have been a perfect night out. Instead, Mark and Donald collide with tragedy when they leave their favorite night spot. That dark October night, three gay-bashers emerge from the gloom, armed with slurs, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.

The hate crime leaves Donald lost and alone, clinging to the memory of the only man he ever loved. He is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by Mark and what might have been. Trapped in a limbo offering no closure, Donald can’t immediately accept the salvation his new neighbor, Walter, offers. Walter’s kindness and patience are qualities his sixteen-year-old nephew, Justin, understands well. Walter provides the only sense of family the boy’s ever known. But Justin holds a dark secret that threatens to tear Donald and Walter apart before their love even has a chance to blossom.

1st Edition published by MLR Press, March 2009.

PRE-ORDER BASHED FROM DREAMSPINNER PRESS (Wide release July 14, 2014)
In eBook
In Paperback


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