Month: July 2009

Gay Men and Puberty…Romance?

I recently read a review about a book that focuses on two gay male characters in high school. The book was written by a woman and reviewed by a woman. Personally, I’ve read a good deal of male/male fiction written by women who do a great job. So this post isn’t about whether or not women can write gay fiction. Some can, they do it very well, and I support them all the way.

But this book and this review made me wonder. The review I read was good, and the book was praised. But, as a gay male, I found it unrealistic to the point of ridiculous in many places. Because I know, from personal experience, not what I’ve read or seen on TV, that there are some things that just don’t work. Not even in a romance novel. For me a book like this, even well done, is almost insulting. I know it wasn’t written to insult, but that doesn’t change the facts. And, oddly enough, on the day of President Obama’s “Beer Summit” I’m writing this post. I didn’t plan that. But it is interesting that every single minority in America is treated with great care, except the GLBT community. We still get the brunt of politically incorrect jokes and we still aren’t taken seriously in certain areas.

When I create a gay male character in a romance novel, I’m always doing it with the intention that the character didn’t have what we all consider a normal puberty. High school is nightmare and puberty, if you survive it (no joke), isn’t a fond memory. I try not to assume anything, but I think it’s safe to say that most gay men of a certain age didn’t actually come out of the closet until they were in their early to mid-twenties. And I personally know some who came out much later, after years of agonizing about it.

The gay men I write about didn’t start dating in high school like everyone else. They didn’t write love notes and they didn’t hold hands in the hallway on their way to class. These guys were terrified of the locker rooms and they kept their feelings hidden from everyone. There were no fond memories of teenage romances. If they went to their proms at all, they didn’t go with the guy they had a crush on, they went with the girl they were pretending to like because that’s what everyone expected them to do.

By the time my characters reach their early twenties, they are ready to experience all the things they’ve missed and have been suppressing throughout their teenage years. And they do it with a vengeance, which is something a few of the newer Internet book reviewers don’t comprehend about gay men. So I’m educating them, nicely, in case they are interested.

I know things are changing, and younger gay men are starting to come out in high school. But things aren’t changing all that fast, and there are still male teenagers out there who know they are gay (it’s not a choice…and I’m not even going to explain that) and are still missing out on what everyone else takes for granted, which is a normal puberty.

This is just a very basic example of how I create a gay character. I don’t go into details about his past or his puberty unless it’s relevant to the story, but the underlying implications are always there. And a good deal of it comes from my own personal experiences and the experiences of the many other gay men I’ve known. And when I see a male/male romance where the characters are still in high school and they fall in love and live happily-ever-after, I have to wonder where the writer is getting her information.

You can be gay and live happily-ever-after. I write about that all the time. And I’m sure that there is some gay person out there, somewhere, who might have experienced a wonderful puberty and a hot romance with a high school jock. But it’s not the norm.

A New Agent Blog…

There’s a new lit agent blog on the web. It’s called ASK A LITERARY AGENT, and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone out there interested in getting published. The agent’s name is Noah Lukeman, and blog is designed to offer advice to writers.

The blog is new. But the author, Noah Lukeman, has been around for a while. He’s not my agent, but he wrote a book titled, THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, I’ve read many times. My copy is worn and dog-eared, but I keep it in my office and I still refer it when I’m not sure about something.

Reading an advice blog written by Noah Lukeman is like taking a course in publishing. And for writers who have talent, but are unaware of the small mistakes they are making, it can be life-changing.

Ravenous Romance Ning…

This has been a busy month for me. I’ve had short deadlines, a family member in the hospital, and the tenant who rents my guest house is moving. So while working and going to the hospital, I’ve also been searching for a new tenant for the guest house.

And while doing all this, I was invited to join a new writers group called, “Ning.” So I signed up, filled out all the forms, and then went back to work on the latest novel. But I wasn’t exactly sure what “Ning” was, or what it was supposed to do for me or other writers. Then I found a post on Lori Perkins’ blog that explained everything. So if anyone’s interested and they don’t fully understand what “Ning” is, here’s Lori’s post. She explains it much better than I could. “Ning.”

Book Review: THE REST OF OUR LIVES by Dan Stone

I’ve always been a huge fan of extremes, and the first thing I noticed in Dan Stone’s novel, THE REST OF OUR LIVES, was that the main characters were complete opposites. And when I read gay fiction of any kind, I like knowing where the characters stand with each other, and I like knowing it right away. So the last line in the prelude set the stage for me when Aidan says, “You wanna be the top?” I knew, after this, there were good things coming in this book. And I wasn’t disappoitned.

The thing that creates conflict and layers the characters with more dimension is that they’ve known each other in previous lifetimes. And they weren’t always a gay couple, which creates a sense of depth that makes the reader read between the lines. And I love that. I like thinking while I’m reading, and I like when authors take me to another level. In many ways, I found this book to ride that thin line of paranormal romance and literary fiction for this very reason.

And I laughed, which doesn’t always happen. The book has camp, wit, and humor, and I can only surmise that this comes naturally to Dan Stone, because making these elements work in fiction can’t be faked or forced. But more than that, I love the way the romance and the love scenes balance the humor. It’s all crafted with care, and I believe that Dan Stone is one very good example of a new generation of gay writers that’s beginning to emerge.

The storyline moves along without any lulls, there is a sense of conflict from the beginning to the end, and the voice, most of all, is clear and smart and likeable. By the time I’d reached the middle of the book, I knew that I’d be carrying these characters with me for long time. My only regret with this review is that I can’t go into details about the ending, because that would spoil things for other readers.

I’d also like to mention the publisher, Lethe Press. I’ve been following them for a long time. I interviewed the Senior Editor a while back for, and this is the first chance I’ve had to read any of their books. And now that I know what to expect, I’m going to be reading more in the future.

Half Price Day 4 GLBT Books…Try out an E-book this Summer…

Today is a great day to purchase all GLBT books at at half price. And, if you’ve been curious about reading e-books, it’s also a great way to see if you’re ready to make the transition from print books to electronic books at half the cost. You don’t have to invest in any special e-readers at first. You can download all these books to your computer and read them that way. I know because I’ve done it myself, and if I can do it, anyone can.

There’s also some really great summertime reading from which to choose. I like to read books that are set in the summer months, when I’m reading for pleasure at the beach or on a lazy weekend when I just sitting around the house. So if you’re looking to check out e-books, which are growing in numbers each year, this might be a good opportunity to check out what everyone else has been talking about.

Today is a Special Birthday…

Today is my buddy Ryan’s birthday. He blogs regularly over at, and he’s been a huge supporter of I’ve known him for about four years. I started out as a curious fan, and then fell in love with his blog and all of his posts. I’ve interviewed him and I’ve followed his life. And I’ve watched him grow better and stronger each year. He is what blogging is supposed to be about, and he puts me to shame in this respect. He’s also a really nice, smart, decent guy with a strong voice and a sense of humor that doesn’t stop. He makes me laugh, too, which if you knew me, isn’t easy to do.
He’s like a brother and a friend combined. and if I knew how to bake a cake, I’d make one for him.

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ryan. I can’t be there in person today, but I can be there in spirit. I can’t cook to save my life, but I can shop for a good bakery on the web.

BEST GAY LOVE STORIES 2010 from Alyson Publications, with a foreward by Harvey Fierstein

I just received my copies of BEST GAY LOVE STORIES 2010. My story, “Poor Richard’s Bazaar,” is on page 177, and the book was edited by Brad Nichols. There’s also a very nice foreward by the well know Harvey Fierstein. From what I’ve seen and read so far, this book really is a great collection that celebrates love in the GLBT community.

4th of July and Apple Pie…

In honor of the 4th of July, here’s an excerpt from a new book I’m working on right now. It’s PG rated and slightly paranormal. But other than that, it’s as American as you get.

On Thursday morning, Sienna woke early and baked more apple pies in Grace’s kitchen. She normally only baked her pies once or twice a month, but her grandmother had called on Tuesday and said that she’d given most of the last apple pie to her friends at the nursing home and she was dying for another. And Sienna knew that Jaydin needed one of her pies. He’d been through a lot of stress in only a few days, and the pie, she knew, would ease his nerves and help him sleep at night. She also wanted to bake one for Avenir. He hadn’t had one of her pies yet, and she thought it would be a nice gesture.
This time she added a few extra details to the pies, too. For some reason, whenever she added these details, the healing powers of the pies intensified. She cut the apples smaller and added a hint of lemon peel. Instead of flower as a thickener, she used a special brand of tapioca that she had to go all the way to Bangor to buy. They sold it at a small gourmet shop, where they also sold other herbs and remedies for healing. The apples had to come from an orchard that was located twenty miles from town, and she had to sort through them to be sure they were all the exact same size. But the two special ingredients that made these pies have stronger healing powers than her regular pies, she thought, were the butter and pastry.
The butter for the pastry and the pie filling had to be made by hand. Not with an electric blender or a food processor. She had to stir and whip fresh cream herself, thinking positive, healing thoughts with each turn of the wire whisk. And she had to add a pinch of sea salt and fold it in gently. Table salt wouldn’t do. There was something about the sea salt that created healing energy.
When the butter was whipped, she chilled it for an hour. And when it was cold, she used her fingers to mix the flour and cold butter together until the mixture formed bit-sized rounds that resembled English peas. Then she stirred in ice cold water until the dough formed. She did this all by hand, and barely worked the dough. The more you worked it, the tougher it became. And the tougher it became the less healing powers it had.
Then she filled each pie shell with a huge mound of sweet, apple filling and topped the mounds with globs of fresh butter, and after that, she went to work on the top layer of crust. The way the pie looked had nothing to do with the healing powers it contained. But she figured that as long as she’d worked so hard on the ingredients, the outside should look fantastic, too. Sometimes she crimped the edges with her fingers, and sometimes she pressed them together with a three-pronged fork.
But on that Thursday, she decided to make the edges of the pies look like the jagged, pointy cliffs of the Maine coastline. So she cut the edges, with a scissor, into perfect points that resembled arrowheads and folded every other one back. Then she brushed the pies with iced cold cream, secured the folded points to make sure they wouldn’t rise, and put them into the oven to bake. She never used an egg wash; it made the pies look store bought and she wanted them to look homemade and simple.