Cleis Press

What Gay Men Read; Cleis Press Wins Award; FREE Excerpt "Fangsters"

Don’t take the title, “What Gay Men Read,” too literally, because trying to find out what any group reads in a general sense is not always simple. But I haven’t seen any research on this, and I’ve always wondered. So I’m going to ask a few friends of mine who aren’t authors and really do focus on reading for pure enjoyment. In other words, the only investment they have in a book is what they paid for it and how much they are going to get out of it.

The following list is from a longtime friend, Al Troglio. I’ve known Al about twenty years now, and he even worked for me part time when Tony and I owned a small business back in the 90’s. He’s a Fordham University graduate, he worked for the federal government until he retired early in the 90’s, and he’s always been an avid reader for as long as I’ve known him. I don’t like to mention ages, so I’ll just say he’s in the bracket between 50 and 70. I have his permission to print this, and mention his name.

Nelson Demille ….The Lion

Nelson demille……….The Panther

John Grisham……….The Racketeer

Erik Larsen…….,.,,.,.,.The Devil In The White City……fabulous

Erik Larsen……………In the garden of the beasts……also great

Linda Stasi…………..The Sixth Station

Stephen King…………Rose Madder

Jamie O’Neill…………At Swim. two boys…..my favorite

Michael Cunningham……A Home At The End of The World
 
I’m familiar with some…I love A Home At The End of The World…but not all. But now that I’ve seen the list I’ll probably check them out. As a side note, I wouldn’t have listed any of my books even if he’d mentioned them. I don’t hock my friends to read my books because that would be a cheesy thing to do and I wouldn’t have many friends if I did things like that. But I do know he’s read some of my books, and that he does read gay erotica, too.
 
Cleis Press Wins Award
 
I’ve been a huge fan of Cleis Press, and the women who own it, as a reader and author for a long time. They’ve been producing excellent LGBT books for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been *lucky* enough to have been in some of them. I even have one short story coming out soon, edited by Shane Allison, in an anthology I’ll post more about later. But that has nothing to do with this post.
 
I wanted to post about the award Cleis won because it’s prestigious and it honors them for all the hard work they’ve done so far. From what I’ve seen, they’ve managed to move forward into digital publishing and all the changes that have been happening in the past ten years smoother than most big publishers.
 
Felice Newman and Frédérique Delacoste are recipients of a national honor as outliers and publishers who were unrelentingly independent. They dared to publish books no one else was courageous enough to print.
 
Over 100 members of the avant garde arts communities in New York City and San Francisco are recipients of this year’s Acker Award, named for novelist Kathy Acker.


Cleis Press was started by Felice Newman and Frédérique Delacoste in 1980, and they’ve been a staple for LGBT books all my life, and I mean that almost literally. You can read more about them here, where there are other links about the Acker Award and Cleis Press.
 
Fangster” Series
 
I’ve posted a few things…not much so far…about a new series I’m doing with Riverdaleavebooks.com titled, “Fangsters.” The release date for the first book in the series is April 30 of this year. One of my goals as a writer is to remain relevant in a business where everything changes all the time, and in trying to do that I’ve found I have to try different things in order to move forward. Though I have written a few erotic short vampire stories in the past that were published in anthologies, I never actually wrote a full length gay erotic vampire novel…or anything crime oriented. I haven’t written much mystery, horror, or suspense either. So this book gave me a chance to do all these things and more, and I absolutely loved writing it.
 
The book is set in the New York/Northern New Jersey area where I grew up, and a lot of the characters in the book are very loosely based on people I knew, places I knew, and situations I knew. I also wanted to give it a new adult feeling, so I based the first novel on the younger members of an Italian American vampire clan that revolves around organized crime. Sometimes I get a little “Jersey Shore,” with the characters, and sometimes I get into some of the old Italian folklore I grew up with. (I’m part Sicilian and Tony’s almost full Italian American.)
 
I’ll post more about the book as I get the cover and more info about release dates. I’ve sent copies out to reviewers and so far I’ve heard good things back from them. But most of all, it’s still a love story and this time there’s something different about that love story I never did before. If I said anything else I’d be giving out spoilers, but I can say it’s something that I was allowed to do because this is supernatural, and it’s something a lot of gay men I know do in real life.
 
Here’s a short excerpt, in raw form, that’s never been published anywhere.
 
“You need to stop by Frankie’s tonight,” Angelo said. He’d just come in from the backyard, where he’d been trying to feed the deer again. This time he had a large bag of stale taralles in his hand, which Anton had always considered the vilest of human foods of all time. If you weren’t Italian you couldn’t even pronounce them…tad-ahlls.
            The sun had gone down and Anton had just come downstairs for a glass of blood his mom had left for him on the counter. This was a Thursday evening, the night she went to the Jewish Center in Irvington to play bingo with her girlfriends. “WTF? You’re feeding them taralles now?” Anton asked, glancing at the bag in his dad’s hand.
            “Fuck you,” Angelo said. “They like them. You should have seen them go right after them when I threw them into the bushes.”
            Taralles reminded Anton of stale round pretzels with less taste. They were, indeed, hard enough to break windows and crumbled into sawdust if someone stepped on them. Anton hadn’t been born in Italy and all this Italian culture had been ingrained in him since he’d been turned. It wasn’t natural; he’d been born in New England and didn’t feel that way. He was always amazed at how his dad, and the rest of the Italian American vampires in his clan, couldn’t let go of the past and all the foods they couldn’t eat anymore. “What time should I be at Frankie’s?” Anton asked, finishing a second glass of blood. Since he’d met Leo, his appetite had almost tripled. “I wanted to get to the club early tonight. I’m picking up Digger first because he fucked up the CTS.”
            “Fuck the club and fuck Digger,” Angelo said, setting the bag of taralles next to a box of extra-long ziti in the pantry. “That fucking Digger’s going to fuck up every car he gets because he’s got shit for brains. I don’t know how Sonny puts up with his bullshit sometimes.” He turned and pointed directly at Anton. “If you were a fuck-up like that, you’d wind up back in Sicily.”
            “It’s wasn’t Digger’s fault this time,” Anton said. Digger and Anton had been driving in downtown Newark a few nights earlier and a group of young men had tried to carjack them at a red light. Digger wanted to go after them and teach them a lesson they’d never forget. But Anton didn’t want him to get into trouble and he figured losing a car was nothing compared to starting a shitstorm with the police. The rule of thumb had always been to maintain a low profile. So they let the thugs take the car and reported what had happened to the police like any other normal law abiding citizen would have done. When the car was found the next day, stripped and almost beyond recognition, no one could actually blame Digger for what had happened.
            “Fuck that,” said Angelo. “Maybe not this time, but wherever Digger goes there’s some kind of fucking trouble. He’s got the evil eye following him everywhere.”
            Anton rolled his eyes. His dad still maintained the same old superstitions from Italy, too. It never seemed to occur to him that because he was a vampire he was actually worse than the so-called evil eye. But there was no point in arguing with him. “What time?” he asked, grabbing his car keys from the counter. He wanted to get out of the house before his younger brother came down.
            “Be there in an hour,” Angelo said. “And make sure that fucking Digger doesn’t say or do anything stupid. Tell him to keep his fucking mouth shut for once. This is important for two reasons. One, it’s a situation that needs immediate attention. Two, we’re working you both into the corporation slowly and it’s something we think you can handle.”
            Anton smiled at the way Angelo referred to his business dealings as “the corporation.” In a legal sense, everything was incorporated for tax purposes…at least on the surface. But most corporations didn’t deal in drugs, guns, prostitution, or gambling the way his dad’s did. As he turned to leave, he said, “Okay. We’ll be there. I’ll put duct tape over Digger’s mouth.”
            On the way out, he passed his brother, Dino, in the front hall and nodded. Instead of saying hello or good-bye, Dino sent him a sarcastic glance and said, “I heard you up talking before the sun came up this morning. It sounded like you were talking to someone special.” He made and exaggerated face and laugh. “Do you have a special snowflake in your life now?” He made his voice go up, with an offensive effeminate quality, on purpose.
            “Fuck you,” Anton said. “Mind your own fucking business.” He’d been on the phone with Leo. He thought everyone had gone to bed by then. He never would have eavesdropped on Dino’s private conversations and he expected the same in return.
            “Are you going to bring him home to meet mom and dad,” Dino asked. “Can I be the flower girl at your gay wedding?” He lifted his arm and let his wrist dangle.



 
 
 
  
 
 

Reading Through the Newest Galleys: Pledges with Cleis Press

For those who might not know, I think the best way to explain galleys in publishing is that they are the final edits…the last chance to look something over and make small changes…before a book goes to print for publication. I do this with everything, including my own self-pubbed books before they are launched as e-books. I actually have my own galleys for my self-pubbed books. It’s those last minute details that sometimes make a huge difference.

In this case, I’m reading the galley for an upcoming book by Cleis Press I’m in. The title is “Pledges,” and it’s a collection of short erotic gay fiction about frat boys. I think I’ve posted about this one before, and I will post again on the publication date, but I wanted to post a little something now in case I forget. I get so used to things moving faster with digital publishing that some of the things I truly enjoy the most slip by unnoticed.

And being a part of books like this one is, and always has been, one of the things I enjoy most about being a writer. It’s also one the few remaining things I cling to as publishing makes so many constant changes and I’m forced to change with it. With books like these you aren’t going to see aggressive authors from small start up e-presses go for the kill with all kinds of annoying things they *think* will help promote their books. The audience for books like this is out there, it will always be out there, and the best kind of promotion for books like this is to talk about it, give product descriptions, and let the reader decide on whether or not they want to buy it and read it. In other words, no one has to go through hoops, click like on Amazon, give fake ratings with multiple fake identities on Goodreads, and talk about the new love of their life to garner devotion on other social media. It’s really about as plain and simple as it gets, and I’ve always considered myself very lucky to have been a part of the older publishing process that really worked hard to cater more to readers than they did to try and sell books to them like snake oil salesmen. It’s also why I tend to fall short in the self-promotion department with my own books.

This book is also what I consider classic gay erotica…or what’s left of gay erotica in these changing times when so many gay authors are growing disillusioned. Each writer writes about something erotic that deals with “pledges,” and each writer handles the topic differently. I’ve read a few of the stories already and I think readers are going to enjoy it. I didn’t read all the stories, though. I focused mainly on my own so that I have something to look forward to reading when I get my author copies. And that’s something else I have to admit I miss more than anything about old publishing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve embraced digital and I wouldn’t part with my e-reader for anything. But seeing that book you’re in, in print, in hard copy, is a feeling I just can’t explain. And as much as I love digital books, the feeling just isn’t the same.

At the bottom of this post is part of the introduction from Editor, Shane Allison, who is an underestimated and highly amazing gay author.

I will post an excerpt from my story when the book is released. The back story to this is that I wrote a novel with a pen name about a year ago and the editor with that publisher decided to cut 10,000 words from the novel. That had never happened to me before, and I hope it never happens again either. I smiled and took it like a professional, and I’m glad I did. Because the ten thousand words they cut I re-worked and turned into a short story for this book. I liked it too much to just let it crash and burn. And it is original and has never been published anywhere else before.


As I read over these hot new stories of pledge erotica, it took

me back to my days of being a twentysomething, when I used

school and studying as an excuse to be lazy, when

student was scribbled in a box when being asked what one’s occupation was



on a job application. I’ve been out of school for nine years now

but having the luxury of living in a college town where there’s

never a shortage of smoking-hot college boys, I am constantly

reminded of what I’m missing, especially during rush week when


an all-new crop of twinks set out to pledge their chosen frat.


Calls for Submission: Gay Erotica

I’m posting this because it’s a public call for submissions over at Erotica Writers and Readers Association. I just submitted a short story and I’ve always liked working this this particular editor at Cleis Press, Shane Allison. I’ve been in his anthologies before and I’ve always been thrilled with the end results. One in particular was titled, “Backdraft.”

These anthologies are good places to build publishing credits for those who are starting out. And unless you’re going the self-publishing route, we all have to start out somewhere. I have over 90 published works out and I’m not too grand to submit to something like this. I still enjoy doing it now as much as I did fifteen years ago.

Here’s a link to the “Hot Pledges” call. And here’s another for an anthology about “Steam Baths.”

A Nice Book to Be In: "Cruising"


I feel like I’m going to extremes with every post I write this week. Yesterday I posted about my small self-publishing venture on Amazon, and today I’m posting about a short story I wrote for a book that’s been published by a “traditional” print publisher, Ceis Press. The title of the book is “Cruising.” You can find it here on Amazon, and I’ll post a publisher link below.

The reason why it’s so nice to be in this book is because I started writing for small LGBT presses (I can’t embrace the “Q” yet, maybe in time) a long time ago and I’ve always been a fan of LGBT anthologies. Before there was a sub-genre called M/M Romance, it was small presses like Cleis that published some of the best LGBT material ever written. It gave me experience and the opportunity to grow as a gay male author when no one else would. And there’s nothing like the feeling of getting that fresh print book in the mail and seeing the cover.

And I’d like to continue to submit work to Cleis and other small presses as much as I can. Unfortunately, there isn’t much money involved. But for me it goes deeper than that. I read a blog post last night that was written by one of these loud, pushy “people” who write what “they” consider “LGBTQ Literary,” and I was amazed at what this author considers “LGBTQ Literary.” It’s schmaltz at best. Let’s just say she used the word “nookie” in an excerpt where a young gay man is thinking about having sex for money. No young gay man uses the word “nookie,” unless it’s in dialogue and he’s making fun of someone else. It’s as simple as that. And if this is what is going to be considered “LGBTQ Literary,” I think it’s important for gay authors to continue to keep LGBT presses like Cleis flowing with submissions so the distinctions are made and lines are drawn. There’s nothing wrong with schmaltzy M/M Romance. I’ve done it myself and I love reading it. But let’s be honest about it, too.

I also think it’s important for everyone who loves reading LGBT fiction to support small presses like Cleis and buy their books. If you don’t want the e-book, you can also go to the publisher’s web site and buy the book as a print book. You might not find the schmaltzy “LGBTQ Literary” fiction the author I spoke about above thinks is great writing, but you will find some interesting stories written by gay people who know what they are talking about. In other words, you’re not being scammed into believing the book is something that it’s not by someone who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed either. It’s a lot like the difference between real chocolate and “flavored” chocolate.

New Release Preview: "Cruising"


I have a story coming out in a new release from Cleis Press, “On the Bathroom Floor.”

The title of the anthology is “Cruising,” and it was edited by Shane Allison. I’ve worked with him before and I’ve always been more than happy with the end result.

You can read more about it here, on Amazon.

And here are the pre-release details:

List Price: $14.95
Price: $10.17 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details
Deal Price:
You Save: $4.78 (32%)
Pre-order Price Guarantee. Learn more.

This title has not yet been released.
You may pre-order it now and we will deliver it to you when it arrives.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

I’m sure it will also be available in digital format very soon and I’ll post more when it is.

New Release From Cleis Press: SKATER BOYS

I just received my copies of a new release I’m in from Cleis Press. It’s titled SKATER BOYS, and my story is titled In This Our Day. Here’s the amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Skater-Boys-Gay-Erotic-Stories/dp/1573444014/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1280929790&sr=1-1

And it can also be purchased at www.CleisPress.com, as well. I’m not sure if it’s been released as an e-book yet, but I’m sure that if it hasn’t it won’t take long.

Here’s an excerpt from my story:

When Braden Klinger moved to the little town of Mt. Saint Hope, he decided to do things differently. So he introduced himself to everyone as The Reverend Braden von Klinger. He added the von to his name because he’d always been told by his mother that he’d come from German royalty. He wasn’t lying about the minister part. Though he’d never actually worked as a minister, he had taken a mail order course to become one.


He was forty-five years old by then, but said he was in his late thirties and no one ever questioned him. His brown hair was still thick and he parted it on the left so that a chunky wave fell freely across his forehead as if he’d just been for a long drive with the top down. He’d worn it that way since he was in high school. When he wore a sweater, it was usually tied around his shoulders. He tried hard to keep up with things, but he’d never been able to shed that preppy look of the l980’s.