Sunday, September 30, 2012

Guest Post by Andrew Grey



When Mary asked me to be on her blog, I got a huge smile on my face.  Mary is one of the sweetest people I know and she never asks for anything.  So when she asked me to be her guest I was thrilled.    In her invitation she asked me to write about my latest release Love Comes Silently.  This story took me a bit by surprise for a number of reasons.  It started off as a little story, probably a novella, and grew into a full-fledged novel almost on its own.  I was also blown away by how much both Ken, an artist with a sick daughter, and Patrick, his neighbor who can’t speak, really got under my skin.  As I was writing this story both characters talked to me constantly.  It’s wonderful when that happens, but it can also be a bit unnerving when there are two extra people in my head.  (My mother always said I had a big head, but somehow I don’t think that was quite what she meant.)

As a writer one of the things that fascinated about is how people overcome adversity, particularly personal challenges.   I’ve written characters who are deaf, blind, in wheelchairs, as well as characters who are dealing with life threatening illness.  But with Love Comes Silently, I wrote my first mute character and it was an amazing experience.  Patrick was involved in an accident and lost his ability to speak.  This was a relatively recent development for him and he has yet to accept that his life has changed.  He’s also isolated himself from most of the world because he isn’t willing to move on after the accident.  Patrick refuses to learn to sign and there are times he forgets he can’t speak and still talks even though no sound comes out.   But Patrick has a huge heart that he keeps guarded and locked away.  He’s been hurt and he’s lost part of who he believes he is. 

Now I’m not going to give too much away, but trust me Patrick is pretty special. I adore this type of character.  As a writer, these characters force me to develop and use new techniques and senses in my writing.  In Love Comes Silently, I had to develop ways for Patrick to communicate without him actually speaking.  Of course there’s the more obvious choice of him writing what he wants and Patrick does that, but as he and Ken develop feelings for each other, another problem develops.  How do you say ‘I love you’ with heart, soul, and meaning when you can’t actually speak?  I did solve this dilemma, but you’ll have to read the story to find out. 

I want to thank Mary so very much for having me as her guest.  I love her to pieces and hopefully very soon I’ll get to give her the real hug that goes with the virtual hug I’m sending her now.

Blurb for Love Comes Silently:
Caring for a loved one with cancer is tough. Doing it alone is overwhelming—especially when that loved one is a child. But ever since Ken Brighton’s partner left him, Ken has spent his days at the hospital with his daughter, Hanna, hoping for a miracle. Maybe the mysterious care packages that appear for Hanna don’t qualify, but they bring a spark of hope into his and Hanna’s tired life—and so does Ken’s neighbor, former singer Patrick Flaherty.
For two years Patrick hasn’t been able to focus on anything but the life he should have had. An injury robbed him of his voice, and the idea of introducing himself to new people intimidates him. But over the past months, he’s watched as his neighbor nursed his sick child, and once he meets Ken, Patrick starts to crave a life with him—a life he isn't sure he can have.
Ken doesn’t realize he’s fallen in love until the doctors send Hanna home, saying there’s nothing more they can do: Hanna will either recover or succumb. Ken’s heart is set on a new beginning—with both Patrick and Hanna. But Patrick's silence leaves Ken wondering what Patrick wants.

Excerpt: 
Patrick Flaherty had seen the little bald girl’s reaction to the box of hats he’d placed outside the front door of the house she shared with her father. Patrick had found out the man with the beatific smile and eyes so deep it looked like the worries of the entire world would fit inside them was named Ken, and that he was some sort of artist. He hadn’t heard much else about him, other than he was new in town and that his daughter had been very sick. Patrick did know from watching him that the other man who’d lived in the house had been Ken’s boyfriend, but he appeared to have moved out, and now it was just Ken and his daughter. That was fine with Patrick. He’d noticed the other man the very first day he’d moved in two houses down the street from the small house Patrick had inherited from his mother. Not that he had any illusions that Ken had noticed him, other than to see him outside working.
People in town had been talking about Ken and his daughter for months, their tongues flapping like a flag in the wind off Lake Superior. Apparently, Ken Brighton was some really famous artist, with his paintings hanging in museums and selling for big bucks all over the country. That was one thing Patrick had found out very quickly after the accident that left him nearly completely silent—people figured that since he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t hear, either, or think. Patrick clenched the handle of the snow shovel as his anger and hurt welled inside. He was the same person he’d been before the accident, and he wished he could make others see that.
After watching the front of the house for a few seconds more, Patrick let the squeal of joy he’d heard drifting on the wind bring a smile to his face as he returned to his chores. He had to get these done before the snow that had begun to melt hardened into ice he’d never get off the sidewalk.
Patrick worked for nearly an hour, and he was about to put his shovel away when he saw Ken and his daughter come out of the house. He couldn’t suppress a grin when he saw the little girl was wearing the poofy pink hat he’d given her. She held her father’s hand, and Patrick walked closer, waving at both of them. He saw the little girl wave back at him before she pulled her hand from her dad’s and walked down the sidewalk toward him.
“Hello,” she said with a smile. “Thank you for the mac-cheese, it was really good.” Patrick nodded and smiled, watching as the girl cocked her head curiously. Patrick touched his throat and shook his head. “Can’t you talk?” she asked, and he shook his head.
“Hanna, don’t bother the nice man,” Ken said as he came up behind his daughter.
“Daddy, he can’t talk,” Hanna said to him. Patrick was used to the pitying looks or even tsking sounds when people found out, but Ken smiled at him and extended his hand.
“I’m Ken Brighton, and this is Hanna,” he said as he firmly shook Patrick’s hand. Once Patrick let go, Patrick pointed to the embroidered name on his coat. One thing he’d begun doing after the accident was have his name added to his jackets and coats. It was the best way he could figure out to easily tell people his name. “It’s nice to meet you, Patrick,” Ken said with an ease that Patrick rarely saw in others. Most people didn’t quite know how to react to him. “We both wanted to thank you for the macaroni and cheese. It was fabulous,” Ken said, and Patrick began to shift slightly under the other man’s piercingly perceptive gaze.
Patrick smiled once again and nodded, placing his hand over his heart in a gesture that meant their thanks was appreciated.
“We’re going to the store, and then Daddy and I are going to paint,” Hanna told him excitedly.
“We need to get going,” Ken said. “You shouldn’t be out in the cold for very long.” Ken might have been talking to Hanna, but he continued looking at him, almost studying him. “Thanks again for the food. I’ll return the dish later today,” Ken added with a slight smile, and Patrick felt his insides jump a little. Patrick waved as the two of them walked back to the car, and after getting inside, Patrick saw Hanna wave as they drove away.
He’d been attracted to Ken since the first time he saw him. But he quickly found out that he had a boyfriend, so Patrick did what he usually did—pushed his interest aside and went on with life. Granted, he wasn’t sure if the boyfriend was really gone, and if the relationship had just ended, then his handsome neighbor probably wasn’t looking for someone else right away. Not that he’d be particularly interested in Patrick, but he could dream. He watched until the deep green car disappeared from sight before putting his shovel away in the garage and then opening the door to the attached workshop.
Patrick turned on the lights, looking over his woodworking shop and the chest of drawers that he’d been working on. He made his living making fine handcrafted furniture, and he had an order he had to get completed, so he put the way his neighbor moved beneath his clothes and the depth of Ken’s eyes out of his mind and got to work.

Andrew’s Links
Twitter :  @andrewgreybooks

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Booyah Books Gave August A Miss & Stumbled Straight Into September

 Lisa from The Novel Approach is here again to share her treasures on Booyah Books.

It's so good to be back after taking some personal time off in August, in which I didn't get a whole lot of reading done, but what I managed did offer some really great entertainment. Comedy, drama, first love, mystery, romance - both contemporary and historical - will round out this combo edition of the Booyah. Here are some of the great reads that really grabbed my attention over the past two months:

Historical (World War II) - Short Story:

Skybound by Aleksandr Voinov: In the midst of conflict and the horrors of war, there is quiet. There is a certain hush, a sense of peace and silence that can be found not in the arms of battle but in the arms of someone who holds the answers to the questions written in the longing for connection.
This is what Aleksandr Voinov has done in Skybound. He has created an image with words that is bleak but at the same time filled with hope among the fear of death. It is a picture painted of victory in the certainty of defeat, where a kiss can give you the wings to fly and surrendering doesn’t mean losing but gaining the promise of a future that might otherwise have been lost.
The year is 1945 and the Second World War is gasping its final breaths. It is a place and time when Felix and Baldur discover there is something more worth fighting and living for than their country’s directives. Skybound was an entirely new experience for me. I’ve read stories from the American side of the war, from the British, but this is the first time I’ve read a story set on the German side, which illustrated to me how easy it is to forget that in battle, regardless of what side a man is on, the casualties are still altogether human ones.
Skybound is an example of the perfect short story: spare because that was the mood and tone of the time in which it takes place, sedate yet filled with a sense of urgency that translates into a raw and undeniable longing to be somewhere, anywhere, as long as it’s on the winning side of life.
I’ve read a lot of Aleksandr Voinov’s work and I have to say that this story is at the top of my very tall heap of favorites.
Buy Skybound HERE.


Young Adult Contemporary:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe taught me that there’s such a thing as too much, and that it’s possible for a book to be written sparely and still be full and abundantly powerful. Though a Young Adult book, this is the sort of story I could appreciate as an older adult, primarily because it's introspective, and it forced me to remember that you're never too old to look back and learn from your life experiences.
Ari Mendoza narrates this story, the story of a fifteen year old loner who meets Dante Quintana in the summer of 1987 and is suddenly not so lonely anymore, though he still feels very much alone with his anger and frustration. This is the story of a boy on the verge of evolution and the slow and sometimes painful discovery that being ashamed of how he feels doesn’t make those feelings inevitably shameful.
I’m going to confess I selected this book for it’s title and cover. I loved this book for all its many truths and loved that Benjamin Alire Sáenz wrote it in such a way that it felt as though it might have been autobiographical in its realism yet felt universal to each and every person who’s ever struggled while navigating their way through those teenage years, when knowing yourself really was as impossible as knowing all the secrets of the universe.
Buy Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe HERE.


Contemporary Romance/Mystery:

Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn by L.B. Gregg: Michael Finnegan has been called a lot of things in his life: unorthodox, lax, a slutty nonconformist, which, when you’re standing in a man’s office with your fly unzipped and your naughty bits exposed after you’ve just thrown yourself at him and he’s just taken you over his desk…then fired you… Yeah, those are difficult character definitions to overcome. But Maxwell Douglas does something to Finn, makes him feel things he’s never felt before—namely, Max makes Finn feel humiliation and regret, more than anything at times, for his attraction to the cold and imposing Marine-turned-security-specialist. But Max also makes Finn feel alive in a way he’s never felt before, and Finn will stay alive if Max has anything to say about it.
Hemmi Sparks is one of Finn’s privileged students at a tony prep school in Smithfield, who, it appears, might be in some danger from a fan who’s been creeping on Hemmi’s celebrity father. Enter Max, who has been hired to make like Hemmi’s shadow at school, and what you get is a fair amount of friction between two men that seem determined to be little more than the thorns in each other’s sides. That is, if they could keep their hands and lips to themselves long enough to discover there’s something more going on between them than just sex and conflict.
There’s also much more going on at Dalton Prep High School than a celebrity stalker, and it soon becomes evident that the threat to Hemmingway Sparks may be a home-grown kind of danger that’s targeted at someone other than just Hemmi. It’s a danger that will drive the typically unshakable Max Douglas to distraction, and is a danger that’s so impossible for Finn to imagine that he makes the near-fatal error of underestimating the power of crazy. But, as they say, that’s show biz.
Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn is dependably good entertainment from L.B. Gregg. 99% of the fun of this author’s books is the witty banter, the comedic internal dialogue of her first person narrators, the frequently hysterical situations her characters find themselves in (everyone knows the toaster is the kitchen’s bravest small appliance, after all), not to mention the sizzling sexual chemistry between her heroes. The other 1% is just everything else a great read can and should be, and those are the things that make me burn through her books, while, at the same time, wishing they’d never end.
Buy Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn HERE.


Contemporary Comedy:

Subsurdity: Vignettes From Jasper Lane by Eric Arvin: Getting a glimpse at the residents of Jasper Lane was a bit like peeking into the windows of a museum for the artfully deranged, and the scrim of Eric Arvin’s screwball suburbia is in the curb appeal that has nothing to do with manicured lawns and gingerbread trim, and everything to do with the mad-scape of the people whose secrets and lies and wondrous proclivities make me want to settle there and fill my lawn with pink flamingoes and ceramic gnomes, and host my own parties that will become legendary in the annals of debauchery and depravity.
Subsurdity is a block-party sitcom where the morality is policed by Melinda Gold and her mother, a harpy of an old woman whose only redeeming feature is the comedic gas-mine of her chronic fart problem. Eric Arvin skewers the illusion of the perfect suburban neighborhood with a voyeur’s eye view of exactly what goes on behind closed doors on Jasper Lane, where Cassie Bloom holds court and hosts gay porn parties, where out of work husband and expectant father, Steve Jones, becomes a gay-for-pay porn star—and suddenly keeping-up-with-the-Joneses takes on a whole new meaning. It’s the place Gayhound the homosexual dog calls home; where “Better Homes & Gardens” meets “Murder Most Likely”; where “good Christian” is an oxymoron of biblical proportions that threatens to strangle the very life out of seventeen-year-old Patrick Gold; where nothing spells humiliation like your tongue stud getting stuck in the UPS guy’s Prince Albert—for all your neighbors to witness—and where, amidst all the absurdity, a lovely little romance blooms between Rick Cooper and James Tucker. That is, if James can find the strength to come out of the closet.
Folks, Subsurdity ain’t your mama’s daytime soap opera, that’s for sure. It takes the monochromatic suburban life and transforms it into an in-living-color satire where the characters put the “fun” in dys-fun-ctional, and I’d gladly turn off my Kindle and tune into that fun, if only to gawk and wonder why my life is such an utter snooze.
Buy Subsurdity: Vignettes From Jasper Lane HERE.


Contemporary Drama:

Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane: So, you've likely already read this if you're a fan of Amy Lane, but I'm including it in this month's Booyah anyway because, yeah, it's Amy Lane and I don't particularly need any other reason than that. ::G::
There are some books that you know are going to be emotionally eloquent before you ever read the first sentence. Amy Lane’s Mourning Heaven is one of those books. It is a story that is articulate in a way only the best dramatic stories can be, tugging at the heart while also burrowing into the conscience, and giving the reader the ammunition to soldier through it because s/he knows that the long-suffering souls of its characters will be redeemed in the end by the strength and healing that can only be found in the kind of love that is patient and kind and dares to hope and persevere.
Mourning Heaven is the story of Bodi Kovacs, Michael Hickman and his cousin Peter Armbruster, three young men who are irrevocably bonded by love, guilt, anger, and the crushing grief of losing someone long before he was ever stolen by death. It is the story of a boy who was idolized and beloved, a boy so full of spirit and courage and conviction that Peter believed he could never approach the bar of perfection Michael had set so high, when, in truth, Peter did the most important thing far better than Michael ever did—Peter loved Bodi with a passion so strong that when Bodi fell to pieces, felt shattered beyond all hope of salvation, it was Peter who was there to put Bodi together again and show him that loving and living sometimes means embracing the power of truth and thriving on the freedom that comes from relinquishing your heart to the one who will reassemble its remains into something new.

If you haven't already, you can buy Mourning Heaven HERE.

And that does it for another month of Booyah Books! Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cover Contest

Hey everyone, I have 5 (woot!) covers in Elisa Rolle's Rainbow Awards Cover Contest. Okay so they're not really mine, they are Anne Cain's and Reese Dante's and they deserve to have some votes. We're on Round 3 and there is Acrobat and Honored Vow from Anne and Frog, Mine and Nexus from Reese. So if you guys could pop over there and vote: CONTEST that would be awesome.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Amy Lane is sharing about Dex



The Simple Life

By

Amy Lane

Okay—so everybody has been waiting for Dex’s story from 
Chase in Shadow and I’m excited, but I’ve got to caution you—Kane is very very different from Dex, Tommy, and Chase.

Mostly, because Kane is simple.

Now, some people are going to read this book and assume Kane is stupid—but that’s not true.  Simple doesn’t equal stupid—it equals uncluttered.  Simple people (and very often, I’m one) don’t worry about politics—there’s people who are nice to them and people who are not nice to them, and really, that’s the only way things should work. 

When confronted with the idea of the girl his friend Chase had cheated on, Kane is unwilling to hate her, just because she’s not on his buddy’s side:

Kane had met Mercy; she hadn’t seemed that bad. It was all, he thought wretchedly, part of being complicated. If you kept things simple—this person’s nice to me, this person’s a bitch—you didn’t have to get all mad about a girl who had maybe seen the same things in your man that you did.

Simple people aren’t always diplomatic, and they’re reluctant to spare a person’s feelings for dignity or personal space or whatever, when they think that’s there’s something wrong.  They’re much more focused on fixing whatever’s right. 


“No reason,” Kane said, and he was jumping up and down on his toes. “Chance, Chase, whatever, are you on drugs?”
Chase squinted at him and put the free weight down after hardly any reps at all. “No. Why?”
“Maybe you should look into them. I hear they can make you happy too.”

Simple people can set one goal in their heads, and achieve it, and we all know how difficult that can be, but even better?  Simple people can convince anyone else in their sphere that what they’re doing is a good idea.

They got home and Dex shed his jacket and shoes and jeans in the bedroom and was about to fall into the bed when Kane—whose own shit formed a little trail from the door to the bedroom—grabbed him by the back of the neck again. It was gratifying how quickly Dex’s body went still.
“We need this,” Kane said sincerely. He didn’t have any good words. He wanted to talk about stress and human connection, but he just had those three words, and they were true.
Dex made a sound—it could have been protest or it could have been positive, but it didn’t matter.
Kane shook him gently. “We need this.”

Now, I know we can’t all be simple.  It would be wonderful—and I think the world might be a better place if we were, but we can’t be.  A lot of us fuss and fidget and fix things that aren’t broken and worry our chosen mates to death with our need to worry problems like a sore tooth—but simple people don’t have that sort of patience. 
Unfortunately, that’s the sort of patience that hones our communication skills, and I’ve got to tell you, communication is something that simple people (such as myself sometimes!) desperately need.  If the simplicity of everyday emotions flummox much of the world, sometimes the complexities of revealing our hearts is too much for those of us who are simple.  That’s okay though.  Simple people, like Kane, often find a way to get their feelings across.
… at the end, when Dex was a puddle of goo (not literally—Kane had gone and gotten the cloth and cleaned him up this time) and Kane had dragged him against his sweating body in the cooling dark, Kane stopped fighting the urge to smother Dex and just draped his body over Dex’s shoulders, practically smashing him into the mattress.
“Kane, you psycho, I can’t breathe!”
“Yeah,” Kane admitted. “I know. I’m sorry. I just need to.”
Dex’s chest fought up and down, and then again. “Yeah, okay. Just resuscitate me when you decide to climb off, ’kay?”

It’s funny—on occasion, when I’ve finished a shorter story, I’ve appealed to Mary here (who is my darling and no one else shall have her) or my publisher, Elizabeth, who is also my darling, although I must share her with all the world,  in an effort to make sure it’s a quality product. 
“Are you sure it’s okay?  It seems… I don’t know… simple.”
Invariably, the answer boils down to this:
Simple is good, Amy.  Simple is two guys, working shit out, and having a happy ever after. 
Now, I’ll be the first person to tell you that Dex in Blue is anything but a simple book—it’s damned long, for one thing, nearly 120K, so something had better be happening besides two guys having sex, right?  But simple is in Kane’s heart.  If all of that other bullshit that makes life so hard gets in the way, it is certainly not his fault.                                             
Mary here *waves* I want to add that Chris over at  
Stumbling Over Chaos is giving away a copy of  
Dex In Blue so pop over there and enter the contest!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Release Date for But For You

So Friday  
October 12th the last Jory and Sam book,  
But For You, is out! I'm happy and sad all at the time. Here's the blurb:
Jory Harcourt is finally living the dream. Being married to US Marshal Sam Kage has changed him—it’s settled the tumult of their past and changed Jory from a guy who bails at the first sign of trouble to a man who stays and weathers the storm. He and Sam have two kids, a house in the burbs, and a badass minivan. Jory’s days of being an epicenter for disaster are over. Domestic life is good.

Which means it's exactly the right time for a shakeup on the home front. Sam’s ex turns up in an unexpected place. A hit man climbs up their balcony at a family reunion. And maybe both of those things have something to do with a witness who disappeared a year ago. Marital bliss just got a kick in the pants, but Jory won’t let anyone take his family away from him. Before he knew what it felt like to have a home, he would have run. Not anymore. He knows he and Sam need to handle things together, because that’s the only way they’re going to make it.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

When did I become a weenie?

I have always considered myself a big strong sort of moose girl. I worked all the way up to my due date when I was pregnant both times, I have a fairly high pain threshold, and if someone called out sick I was always the one who stayed and pulled the double. But just recently, during my move, I have found out that I don't do well if everything is not just so when I sit down to write. When did this happen? Trying to write on the couch in other people's houses while they're watching TV, sitting on a hard chair in a small room with my computer on a sewing table or on the floor (my ass got numb) leaning against a wall. I have turned into such a weenie. I have to have everything in order. Like my desk now. Lamp on the left, yaoi and paperbacks on the right in small bookcases. I have to look up and see my Teahouse print and my Jo Chen print on the shelf, my lucky cat, my gargoyle, my dragon, my iPod speaker thingy and just, basically, everything in it's place. When did I turn into Monk? I had no idea I was like this. My husband of course was like, oh yeah, you're waaaaaaaay high maintenance. And he wonders why I'm leaving him nothing in my will. But why the cat on one side of the desk doesn't bother me I have no idea. Though looking at Dewey (my daughter named him after the Dewey Decimal System they learned last year. She said it, like him, is a mystery) is very calming. Watching him sleep eight hours a day and run around like a dork at night, is fun. But all in all, I guess I am one of those people who needs everything settled around me to be able to create. Hemingway wrote on boats, small ones, Kerouac on the road, I have friends who write on one end of a kitchen table or on trains. I should start schooling myself to be more hard-core. I'll start working on it tomorrow, right now I need some tea.

A guest post by Ellis Carrington

Photo by Jeff Sheng – FearlessProject.org











I wanted to talk about the Fearless Project which I feel is timely, because if you’re here on Mary’s blog then you probably know she just released a story called Steamroller. It touches on the subject on an athlete—the star quarterback no less—discovering his sexuality and falling in love with another guy, and what does he do then?
This sort of issue is very real, for many athletes. Your career depends on people liking you. Maybe even your safety, if you want to be sure your teammates will still look out for you the way they’re supposed to. If you’re pro, you have a short shelf-life in which you need to be able to earn as much money as you can; it’s a big thing and an understandable one to try to protect yourself.
But what about when you’re a teenager? When you have everything stretched out ahead of you. When if you come out, you’re taking a risk with people you will still have to see every day in class and at practice for the duration of the school year, maybe many multiple school years, maybe even in your neighborhood. Maybe your parents and siblings take it well, maybe they don’t. As teenagers, our identities, our confidence is still forming. It takes an awful lot of self-awareness and even more courage to come out and be public about your sexual orientation, especially if you play sports. Because this thing that depends so much on people liking you, this thing that athletes historically saved the big reveal for until retirement, is now going to follow you throughout your career.
So this amazing photographer, Jeff Sheng, has been on this decade-long quest to photograph and honor hundreds of the “out” high school and college athletes and their bravery, with a project he calls “Fearless.” He’s nearing the end of his fundraising window on Kickstarter and needs help closing the gap, and I’m trying to give him a boost in raising awareness because I’m just so damned inspired by his work. I’d love to see it get finished. He can’t seem to get a traditional publisher interested in putting the book together because he’s not doing photographing pro athletes—the project isn’t commercial enough. Those of us who write read and write gay romance, we can relate to that, right? We’ve been relegated to e-publishing and self-publishing because gay romance isn’t commercial enough for mass-market… At least, not yet.
Things are changing for the better, and I think Jeff Sheng’s Fearless project sends a positive message and has the potential to do a lot of good for a lot of young people. Not to mention, potentially changing minds in the world at large. So please do check out his Kickstarter project and consider helping out and spreading the word.