Thursday, December 7, 2017

My New Holiday Story is NOW AVAILABLE!



BLURB
Two men. One Christmas Eve that changes the courses of both their lives.

Henry’s homeless and only wants a warm place to sleep on the coldest night of the year. A forgotten open window in a darkened house entices Henry inside with the promise of warmth and comfort. He knows it’s bad, but he promises himself he’ll be out before the owner wakes on Christmas morning. Except he oversleeps and the homeowner, Jim, discovers a bearded stranger sawing logs under his dining room table. When the shock and the drama that ensues dies down, Henry and Jim discover that they might have found, quite unexpectedly, the Christmas miracle they’d both been longing for—love and home.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar "Stocking Stuffers."

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tripe and Potato Stew: Good for the Soul



Although Dinner at Fiorello’s doesn’t contain actual recipes, it does contain a lot of food. Below is an excerpt that shows you our main character, Henry Appleby, on his very first—and very nervous—visit to the restaurant where he hopes to go against his family’s wishes and apply for a job working in the kitchen. 

Read the excerpt, and if you’re intrigued by what Rosalie serves Henry, read on for the recipe. You should note that the Tripe Stew is a dish my Sicilian mom would make—and that I would always turn my nose up at. Now that Mom’s in Heaven, I’m sorry I never gave it a try. It always smelled delicious.

EXCERPT—“Tripe Stew and A Case of the Nerves”

Rosalie, as this must be, seemed like she’d come straight from central casting where the request was for someone who looked like an Italian mother. Rosalie had an upsweep of salt-and-pepper hair and wore a black dress and what Henry mother would call sensible shoes. Her nose was big, her features careworn, but there was something about her eyes, a greenish-brown in color, that exuded warmth and maybe, if he looked really hard, mischief. She didn’t smile. “Did Carmela get your drink order?” she asked.
“Yeah, she’s bringing me some water. And bread.”
“Good. Take a look at the menu and see what you want. The fish today is good. Snapper with olives, garlic, and tomatoes. It’s fresh.”
She hurried away, and Henry opened the menu and began to scan it. He wanted to let out a little sigh. For him, this collection of food was like porn was to some of his peers. Right away, he could see the offerings leaned toward what Henry imagined was southern Italian comfort food—baked manicotti, ricotta pie, braccioli, greens and beans in tomato sauce, a pepper and egg sandwich on “Mom’s homemade bread,” were just a few of the things that set Henry’s mouth to watering.
The menu was like the family photos on the wall. It made him feel like he was visiting someone’s home, sitting in their kitchen, and being welcome. No pretense. Just a suggestion of “we’re so glad you’re here.”
When Rosalie returned, Henry ordered a cappicola sandwich with mozzarella and arugula, also on homemade bread.
“Anything else?” Rosalie asked. Henry noticed she hadn’t written anything down.
“Does it come with anything?”
“Like?”
“Fries?”
The question finally got Rosalie to crack a smile. “We don’t have fries. I can have the cook make you a nice salad, or we got roasted red potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, and garlic. Very tasty.”
“Sounds like it. I’ll have the potatoes.”
“Good choice. You could stand to gain a few pounds.” Rosalie looked him up and down.
Henry was surprised to hear her assessment. His mom was always getting on him about watching his calories and carbs.
Without another word, Rosalie turned and walked away. She disappeared into the kitchen. She came back out moments later and set down a small cup full of what looked like some sort of stew.
“What’s this?” Henry asked, inhaling the rich aroma of tomatoes and garlic. “I didn’t order it.”
“On the house. Just something to tide you over until Vito makes your sandwich. It’s what we had at our family meal today.”
“What is it?”
“Tripe with tomatoes and potatoes. It’s good. Mangia!”
Henry wanted to ask, “Isn’t that cow stomach?” but Rosalie had already taken off to wait on another table. He picked up his spoon and moved it around in the cup with more than a little doubt. Hey, if you’re thinking you’re some kind of foodie and today could be the start of a new direction for you, you can’t be a candy ass about trying new things. Just take a bite.
He did. The tripe was a little chewy but had a wonderful meaty richness to it that was complemented by the sauce, which was redolent of tomatoes and garlic. Henry could also taste carrots, onions, and herbs like oregano. He was surprised that it was actually quite delicious, and in no time he had finished the small bowl and found himself wishing for more.
The rest of Henry’s lunch did not disappoint him and continued on its theme of Italian comfort food. Everything he ate was filling, richly flavored, and bore all the signs of being prepared fresh right here on the premises. The bread was a revelation—light, airy, with a golden crust that stood up to the bite. The crust was hard, but in a delightful way.
He pushed his plate away and wondered about dessert. Rosalie, after all, had said he needed to put on some weight. But he was so stuffed—that sandwich was huge—that he was afraid he’d burst if he ate so much as another morsel.
Now came the moment of truth. Of course he’d pay the check; that was a given. But did he have the nerve to do what he’d really come here to do?
Baby steps. He told himself he’d be a fool and a coward if he didn’t at least fill out the application. He could always refuse the job if he decided he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, as the universe expected him to do. That way he could turn it down if they called him, which even Henry knew was unlikely.
Working here would be fun, Henry thought, even if he wouldn’t fit in with his flaxen hair and blue eyes. So what? He could be from northern Italy. They had blonds there, didn’t they?
Rosalie brought him his check. “Take your time,” she said. Henry pulled out the cash he had brought along—no way was he using a credit card for this—and put down enough to cover the bill and a generous tip for the “warm and welcoming” Rosalie.
And then he sat back. Everything he had eaten began to churn. I can’t do it. It’s more than just filling out an application and waiting to see what happens. It’s defying your family. You know they’ll be unhappy, especially Dad. Unhappy? He’d be furious, ashamed, and questioning my sanity.
If I do this, and they just so happen to offer me the job, I will want it. No doubt. And this is not a summer job. It’s not fair to take it under the pretense that I can just leave when school starts in the fall.
So at least you understand yourself now and what’s at stake. No illusions.
He picked up a piece of cappicola that had fallen out of his sandwich and gnawed on it, its rich spices and heat bursting on his tongue. He slowed his breathing to listen to the bustle in the kitchen. Someone shouted, “Throw it away! It smells rotten.” Henry grinned.
He took in all the other diners. They seemed happy, content, their bellies full. Wouldn’t it be something to feed people as his life’s work? Wouldn’t that mean more than managing stuff like portfolios, hedge funds, and other things his dad talked about over the dinner table? Henry was pretty much clueless about what his father did, and worse, he was sure he had no interest in finding out.
Do it.
RECIPE—TRIPE AND POTATO STEW

To serve 4, you’ll need:
2 lbs. pre-boiled tripe, cut into bite-sized strips (you need to pre-boil it for about an hour, just to tenderize it)
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
Olive oil
A couple tablespoons white wine
8 oz. can of whole tomatoes, crushed up with your hands
4-6 small potatoes, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon each: dried basil, dried thyme
Parmesan for serving

Directions
1. In a large, heavy pot, sauté onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until soft, making sure not let any of them brown. Season with salt and pepper as you go.
2. Add the tripe strips and stir well. Simmer for a few minutes to allow it to take on the flavor of the aromatics. Then add white wine, raise the heat, and let the wine cook off.
3. Add tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you add them to the pot, together with the bay leaf and herbs. Mix everything well and cover the pot. Turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the tripe is tender and the sauce reduced. About halfway through the simmering, add the potatoes, mix them in, re-cover the pot and continue simmering. When the tripe is tender, if you find the dish too liquid, uncover the pot and raise the heat to reduce for a few minutes, until you have the consistency you like. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
4. Eat with grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil on top.

BLURB
Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.

Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Irresistible Pull of Love


Below is an excerpt from The Couple Next Door, and it’s a scene where two lost souls—Jeremy and Shane—at last unite, under very difficult circumstances. See, Shane has been physically and emotionally abused by the man with whom he lives. Jeremy has been witness to it and has tried to be a friend, to help, to perhaps even be a savior. He’s tried to keep a respectable distance.

But the pull between these two men, as you’ll read, is just too powerful….

EXCERPT
Does my knowing the truth make me an accomplice? Does Shane knowing the truth make him an accessory after the fact to murder?

What, I ask myself for the thousandth time, have I gotten myself into? The answer comes to me in an image: Shane, smiling, the delight clear in his icy blue eyes when he first sees me.

A man. It’s always a man. If I could learn to live without men, I’d be happy, I tell myself.

Good luck with that.

I go into the kitchen, grab some oranges and a couple of protein bars from a drawer. It’s a meager breakfast, but it’s the best I have to offer.

Knock, knock, knock and Shane opens the door. His eyes are rimmed in red. He looks as though he hasn’t slept—like me. He wears a torn and faded navy blue T-shirt and gray sweatpants. I can see the outline of his cock through the loose jersey fabric. My mind wanders away from danger, scaling other exhilarating heights.

He looks breathtaking. All I want to do is hold him, comfort him, and go from there—proceed directly to his bedroom, do not pass go. Why am I thinking of sex at such a horrible time, when he has shared with me the truth of his history? Now is the time for talk, not lovemaking. Yet the lust persists like an itch right in the center of my brain. There’s only one way to scratch it.

It’s like he’s read my mind. He takes the fruit and the protein bars from me and turns away to set them on the arm of a chair near the front door. Then he comes back to me and enfolds both of my hands in his own.

The moment is too charged with something, some kind of electric connection, for words. Talking would break the spell. The silence is delicious and weighted.

His hands are warm, verging on fiery, feverish. He tugs me toward him roughly, and before I know what’s happening, I’m in his arms. This is no friendly “hello” hug. This is an embrace born of hunger, of desperation, of an animal need for comfort. His mouth seeks mine, starving, and the merging of our lips and tongues is like some kind of communion. It’s more than passion. It’s the uniting of two lost souls.

And with the thought of lost souls, I realize why we both feel such a connection. In his famished kiss, I can feel not only his need for me but also mine for him.

We stop only long enough to turn, to head toward the bedroom. Shane never lets go of at least one of my hands. I can almost feel his need to cling, to ensure I don’t escape.

I welcome it.

He kicks the door closed, and then he’s on me like some kind of jungle cat, ripping the few clothes I wore off, scratching me in the process. I will not see the claw marks until later, until they appear red and scarlet on my flesh. I will rub them, treasuring the memory connected to them. Now, though, there is only animal want and the desire, deep-seated, for human comfort that only oblivion can provide.

We tumble on one of the two beds crammed into the room together, so hungry we can’t stop devouring the other. Not just cocks but nipples, armpits, the crooks behind knees, the tender, sensitive flesh of our thighs, the smalls of our backs. Fluid—saliva, come, tears, all flow, and we exchange them. Greedily.
He mounts me. I mount him. We are in such a haze we almost forget the condoms and the lube.

Almost.

Time stands still as we fuck. As we suck. As we wait, breathless, and do it again.

It’s not until I am lying in Shane’s arms later, when our respiration and heartbeats have returned to some semblance of normalcy, that we speak.

I mince no words. “Why did he do it?”

BLURB
With the couple next door, nothing is as it seems.

Jeremy Booth leads a simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.

Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.

So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

A Date from Hell


If you’ve read much of my work, you might have noticed I like to have a little fun with what I call “dates from hell.” We’ve all had them, right? And if you answered no to that question, let me congratulate you. It takes a very special person to get through life without at least one date from hell on his or her resume.

The excerpt below is from my semi-autobiographical love story, Blink, and it showcases the date from hell one of my characters, Andy, has before re-connecting with Carlos, the man he’s never forgotten. Are you nervy enough to share one of your own dates from hell in the comments below? I’d love to hear about yours!

Excerpt from Blink by Rick R. Reed

I have just taken a sip of the expertly-made cocktail, reveling in its briny chill, when I feel someone tap me on the shoulder.

I turn around to face Chet. I smile and think that the picture he used on the site had to be at least a few years old. It’s okay, I think, we all want to put our best foot forward. The guy before me still has the beard and the baseball cap I saw in his profile pic, but the beard that was flecked with gray on OkCupid is now fully silver. He also didn’t wear glasses in his profile picture, but now a pair of wire-rimmed oval frames shield his muddy-brown irises.

Which is not to say he looks bad. He doesn’t. Just older. He’s still cute, with a kind of high-school wrestling coach vibe about him, augmented by his outfit—an Abercrombie and Fitch jersey, cargo shorts, and workman’s boots. I try to hold in any judgment I know I would make if I were sitting here with Jules observing him, about a man trying a bit too hard to look manly and young. We would laugh into our drinks and for sure Jules would say something like, “Mutton dressed as lamb.”

I slide off the stool, smiling, to shake his hand.

He grabs my hand and uses it to pull me into a bear hug, planting a too-wet kiss on my neck, which startles me. I move back and hop up on my stool, give a little laugh. I want to admonish him for being fresh, as my mom would say, but instead I ask him what he’d like to drink. “I’ll get the first round,” I say, holding up my glass. “Since I’ve already started.”

He orders a Bud Lite and sits down beside me. Immediately, one of his hands goes to my leg, just above my knee, and rests there. He looks me up and down, and then does it again. His grin, a little lewd, never wavers. I wonder if a wolf whistle is in store. I begin to have my doubts about Chet but again, remind myself to withhold judgment. He just got here, after all. Give the guy a freakin’ chance!

“Man, am I glad I sent you that message. It’s so nice when they look better than their pics.” He leans back on his stool to check me out again and I have to admit, he’s making me more uncomfortable than flattered. Much as I admired my reflection in my condo building’s front door before heading over here, I am not all that. I’m relieved when the bartender, a blond in a black V-neck T-shirt who could be Alexander Skarsgard’s twin, sets Chet’s beer before him.

“You want a glass with that?” the bartender points to the sweating brown bottle.

Chet winks at the kid and asks, “Do I have any other options?” I groan inside.

The poor bartender just looks confused. Then he smiles. “I don’t know. I think we’ve got an aluminum bowl in the back if you’d be interested.”

Chet shakes his head and reaches into his wallet and throws a ten on the bar, in spite of my having said I’d treat. “Keep the change, stud.”

The bartender grabs the cash from the bar and gives me a look. In the look, we’re both saying something along the lines of “Do you believe this character?” He hurries away, presumably to wait on less flirtatious and younger men. Or maybe to find out what the Jeopardy! response is to the answer displayed on one of the monitors: Arizona's motto, ditat deus, means he “enriches.”

God, I think, the answer is God. A fella I fear whose help I’m going to need to call upon before this night is over.

I turn to the guy I agreed to meet, based only on about a dozen or so lines of type and a decade-old (at least) photograph and try to make the best of things. “So Chet, do you come here a lot?”

He shakes his head and crinkles up his nose, as though he’d smelled something bad. “Nah. I just picked this place because it’s kind of neutral, you know?”

I shake my head.

“Pretty boys. Bright lights. Nothing too extreme.”

I think I see. “Good for meeting for the first time, huh?”

He leans in closer to me and slides his hand up farther on my leg toward my crotch. “Right.” He leans even closer and growls in my ear. “If I like the guy, we can always go someplace else.”

Like your place? I wonder, but don’t say. I lean back and away from him. He smells like cigarette smoke, Old Spice, and booze. I laugh and am embarrassed when it comes out a little high-pitched. I try to get him back on course. “So, where do you like to hang out?”

“So to speak?” He raises his eyebrows and laughs as though I said something filthy and then I realize he’s making my reference to ‘hanging out’ into something lascivious.

Why didn’t I call Jules and set something up? You know, the old saw where she would call a half hour after I meet my date and, if it wasn’t going well, I could say there was an emergency at home and I had to go?

“Yeah. Do you go to any other clubs?”

“Me, I like the leather bars.” He stares at me and I wonder if he’s expecting me to rush in with something like, “Oh me, too! I left my harness and chaps at home.”

“Yeah,” he says. “There’s no pretense there.”

Really? Men standing around in biker gear trying to look butch? Okay….

“What I mean is,” Chet continues, “They don’t have game shows on the TVs, for Christ’s sake. Or run show tune videos like that joint down the street. They’re just about what we’re all here for.”

Although I know what he means by ‘what we’re all here for’ I ask Chet anyway, “What’s that?”

“Come on, Andy!” He rubs a hand over my chest and tweaks a nipple. I pull back. I can’t keep the scowl off my face. Undeterred, he leans forward once more to whisper throatily, “Fuckin’ and suckin’.”

I grab his hand, still on my chest, and return it to him, placing it carefully on his leg and nowhere near his crotch.

“I mean, why do gay men come out to the bars? To meet fuck buddies, right? We might as well be honest about it. I know I am. I like the leather bars because even if I don’t meet a guy to bring home, I can always wander into the backroom and get a little somethin’-somethin’.” He laughs. “You know what I mean?”

I’ve had enough. I think I know this is going to go nowhere. Same old story. I feel a little sad. “No, I really don’t Chet. When I go out, and it’s not that often anymore, it’s to meet up with friends, laugh, talk, have a few drinks.”

“And then go off to your bedroom and do the nasty.”

I sigh. I’m impatient now. “Well, I’d be lying if I said that never happened, but it’s usually more of a thing about circumstances turning a certain way, rather than something planned.”

“I was kind of planning on you and me getting together tonight.” He jerks his head toward the door behind him. “I live just around the corner. On Cornelia?” He says, in a softer voice, “Got the sling all set up.”

I laugh. “We have an optimist here!”

“What? You agreed to meet up with me.”

“And that means I agreed to have sex with you?”

“Well, yeah. That’s what guys go online looking for, right? I mean, what else is there?”

I wanted to answer—romance, companionship, friendship, maybe, just maybe, finding true love. But I have a feeling that our Chet here is too far-gone for any of those responses to resonate. Concepts like love and friendship would be lost on him. I don’t think his thought processes go any higher than above the belly button. It’s kind of sad, really. Like his clothes, I suspect Chet is stuck in a kind of faux masculine adolescence. At the end of the night, when he’s alone and covered with sticky lube and his latest conquest is but a memory, does he ever hunger for more?

“For some, I guess, not much.” Finally, I allow myself to touch him, putting a hand on his shoulder. As much as I am a big old introvert and hate confrontation of even the mildest sort, it’s not that hard to be honest, because I know at the end of what I have to say, I’ll be free. “Listen, Chet, I think you and I are after different things.” I gulp down what remains in my glass and set it back on the bar. “I’m gonna take off. Thanks for coming out to meet me.”

He sneers. “What are you after? True love?”

I get down from the bar stool and stand, facing him. “Yup,” I say and turn to walk out the door.

“Good luck with that!” he calls out behind me. “You’re gonna need it.” He pauses. “At your age.”
He laughs and my consolation is that no one laughs with him. I slip outside into the exhaust-choked air, feeling like I can breathe again.

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….

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Where Do the Dream People Come From?


Sexy. Surreal. Short. My story, "DREAMBOAT" is available in the Amazon Kindle store for only .99 cents!

BLURB
Do you ever wonder where the dream people come from? Those people who appear in our dreams yet we’ve never seen elsewhere? So begins the story of a young man visited in recurring dreams by his personal vision of a dreamboat. His exotic, Latin ideal man is swarthy, sexy, and ripped and knows exactly the right ways to please our hero. The dreams are surreal and sexy...but what happens when our hero encounters his dream man in real life? A short story by Rick R. Reed, a writer praised by the Lambda Literary Review as a "writer who doesn't disappoint."

EXCERPT
I turned and looked toward the mattress on the hardwood floor. A man lay amid the cream-colored sheets, his dark skin a contrast to the color and texture of the linens. His eyelids were at half-mast, looking both sleepy and lustful at the same time. The lids shadowed the palest green eyes I had ever seen, all the more brilliant in contrast to his dark (Latin?) skin. He smiled and his perfect white teeth and full lips lit up his stubbled face.

He patted the bed, inviting me to join him. I hesitated, the window at my back, feeling a strange sense of foreboding. He certainly looked inviting: his hard, muscular body sculpted from tawny granite and dusted with coarse, curly black hair. He cocked his head. “Come on, sweetheart.” His voice was deep as he sang a lyric from an old reggae song, “The bed’s too big without you.” He reached beneath the sheets and that’s when I froze.

ONTOPDOWNUNDER REVIEWS
"Go in expecting the unexpected and I have no doubt you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Highly recommended."

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

NEW Re-Release! My Erotic Thriller is Now OUT from JMS Books!


Pleased to announce that JMS Books is re-releasing my page-turner, HIGH RISK, in new ebook and paperback editions. WARNING! HIGH RISK is not for the faint of heart, nor the prudish.

High Risk is one of my oddest books because it features an anti-heroine, a damaged woman who's a sex addict. You could reasonably say she brought on the horror that befalls her in the pages of my book.

Her journey is filled with terror, tension, and suspense, but even I will admit Beth Walsh isn't an easy character to like or root for.

Yet I hope that sympathetic and discerning readers will peel back the onion skin of Beth's personality and see her for who and what she is at her core--a damaged soul who's desperate for love, with no real knowledge of how to get it.

I encourage you to come along with Beth on her harrowing journey toward redemption in High Risk. I like to think you won't soon forget her...or her story.

BLURB
A secret sex life... 

A handsome, twisted stranger... 

And a journey into a nightmare. 

Beth Walsh seemed like such a demure housewife. But while her attorney husband was away at work, she engaged in countless encounters with strangers...until she met the one stranger who would change everything--for the worst. Abbott Lowery was every woman's dream; but the monster lurking inside his handsome, chiseled exterior was terrifying. And Beth's behavior is about to unleash the rage and madness inside. High Risk is a story of secrets, tainted histories, murder, and kidnapping--with an ending so searing and brutal, readers will be left breathless.

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

On Writing Gay. On Being Gay

"Years ago it would have caused me great pain to even write the word gay on paper to describe myself... Writing has allowed me to change my self-hatred and doubt into true self-esteem and self-love."
--The late E. Lynn Harris in his 2003 memoir, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

Wow. I was just having a little breakfast, a copy of Entertainment Weekly devoted to celebrities who has passed during the previous year open before me on the table when I came across that quote. To say it resounded would be putting it mildly. It was like someone had stepped into my own mind and eloquently sorted the emotions, memories, fears, joys, and hopes brewing there and instilled them into a few spare, eloquent words.

I am like E. Lynn Harris.

Beyond being gay men and writers, I don't know how much else we have in common. But I have traveled that same territory of self-loathing Harris describes. For so many years, I wore a mask and hid my true self in a closet. For most of my young adulthood, I was a married man, associated only with other straight people, and did not know what the inside of a gay bar looked like. I pondered checking out those vile groups that profess to change gay people into straight. I saw therapists, one of whom told me I could change and that my attraction to my own sex was simply my longing for the loving father I never had. My journey told self-acceptance was long and rough, and it pains me to think I was not the only one hurt on that journey.

It now either makes me shake my head, laugh, or cry, when I hear people talk about the gay "lifestyle" or that being gay is a choice or a preference. When I think of how hard I struggled not to be gay, it's hard for me to fathom how someone could view this as a choice. These narrow-minded souls have only themselves to ask the question: when did you make the decision to be straight?

Harris's quote made me think about all of the above and why, today, my stories revolve almost exclusively around gay characters. And, with one exception, most of those stories show gay characters for whom sexuality is simply a part of their lives and not their exclusive reason for being. I try, with my work, to affirm my gay characters and to give them lives worthy of respect. It is only my gay villains--twisted, tortured souls--do I demonstrate not that being gay is unhealthy or wicked, but that not loving oneself can be incredibly damaging. I think that's why some of my gay antiheroes, such as serial killer Timothy Bright in IM, want so much to be understood because they are beyond understanding themselves.

In my ebook short, Through the Closet Door, I write about a young man who was, very much like myself, in a straight marriage with a woman...a woman he loves (emphasis here is important) who struggles to accept something he doesn't want but can't escape. Toward the end of that story, he begins, just barely, to love himself for who he is and not who he thinks he should be.

It's been about twenty years since I was a young man similar to the one in that story, and I think the reason the quote I began this blog with resounds so much with me is that I never realized until today how much the things I write have enabled me to grow and develop not only as writer, but as a gay man. I can see how my increasingly turning to gay themes and characters has mirrored my own self-acceptance. I am lately writing a lot about love, and romance has taken a huge role even in my horror/suspense stories. That, I think, is more of a statement than I realized.

I have finally cast aside the chains of self-loathing that once bound me. I no longer hide that I am a gay man. And maybe, just as important, I can stand proud and say, "I write gay fiction...exclusively. Because these are my people..."


Monday, October 30, 2017

A Rick R. Reed Halloween Reading List

It's that time of year again. My favorite holiday, Halloween, is just around the corner.

 For your consideration, I offer up five of my scariest novels and hope you'll check out one (or more!) as a Halloween treat! So, in no particular order, here goes:

A DEMON INSIDE
Hunter Beaumont doesn’t understand his grandmother’s deathbed wish: “Destroy Beaumont House.” He’s never even heard of the place. But after his grandmother passes and his first love betrays him, the family house in the Wisconsin woods looks like a tempting refuge. Going against his grandmother’s wishes, Hunter flees to Beaumont House.

But will the house be the sanctuary he had hoped for? Soon after moving in, Hunter realizes he may not be alone. And with whom—or what—he shares the house may plunge him into a nightmare from which he may never escape. Sparks fly when he meets his handsome neighbor, Michael Burt, a caretaker for the estate next door. The man might be his salvation… or he could be the source of Hunter's terror.

BUY
From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)

THIRD EYE
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
From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)

BLOOD SACRIFICE
What would you give up for immortal life and love?

By day, Elise draws and paints, spilling out the horrific visions of her tortured mind. By night, she walks the streets, selling her body to the highest bidder.

And then they come into her life: a trio of impossibly beautiful vampires: Terence, Maria, and Edward. When they encounter Elise, they set an explosive triangle in motion.

Terence wants to drain her blood. Maria just wants Elise . . . as lover and partner through eternity. And Edward, the most recently-converted, wants to prevent her from making the same mistake he made as a young abstract expressionist artist in 1950s Greenwich Village: sacrificing his artistic vision for immortal life. He is the only one of them still human enough to realize what an unholy trade this is.

Blood Sacrifice is a novel that will grip you in a vise of suspense that won't let go until the very last moment...when a shocking turn of events changes everything and demonstrates--truly--what love and sacrifice are all about.

BUY
From Untreed Reads
For Amazon Kindle


OBSESSED
Voices slam through the corridor of his wounded mind. The words of his dead sister cry out. His parents' taunts fill the silent room where he sits and waits--waits for the murderous rage, filling him with strength, driving him to kill, to touch the cold flesh, taste the warm blood--to feel alive again…

A witness has seen him, but his killing only turns her on and now she wants to protect him. His wife suspects him, but the private detective she hired cannot stop him. Joe MacAree fears nothing--except that he may no longer be human. The thirst that drives him is relentless, moving deeper and deeper into his own shattering, private realm, where each murder is a delicious new gift of life, where revulsion is beauty, and the obsession will never let him go.


"A harrowing ride through cutting-edge psychological horror, this one's got a vicious bite. Rick R. Reed's Obsessed is a twisted nightmare." - Douglas Clegg, bestselling author

BUY
From Untreed Reads
For Amazon Kindle

DINNER THE BLUE MOON CAFE
Amid an atmosphere of crippling fear, Thad Matthews finds his first true love working in an Italian restaurant called the Blue Moon CafĂ©. Sam Lupino is everything Thad has ever hoped for in a man: virile, sexy as hell, kind, and… he can cook!

As their romance heats up, the questions pile up. Who is the killer preying on Seattle’s gay men? What secrets is Sam’s Sicilian family hiding? And more importantly, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

The strength of Thad and Sam’s love will face the ultimate test when horrific revelations come to light beneath the full moon.


BUY
From Dreamspinner Press
For Amazon Kindle
(Paperback version also available at the above stores)