Category: dancing dirty

Excerpt: Dancing Dirty

When he reached the front of the building, he saw a large dark green car with New Jersey license plates. It was a late model Buick Riviera, with flashy chrome wheels and thick tires, custom pin-striping that wrapped around the entire body, and two large squares of dice dangling from the rear view mirror. And it was spotless. The paint glistened, the wheels sparkled and the windows resembled mirrors.
Junior figured it was best to just keep jogging and ignore the car. If he acted casual, no one would think twice. But when the driver’s door opened and Junior turned to look, he lost his footing and tripped on a large piece of gravel. As a runner, this wasn’t the first time he’d fallen. He experienced that awkward moment, the second his foot hit the piece of gravel, where he knew he was going down and there was nothing he could do about it. He threw out his right arm to brace himself for the fall, turning his head to the side so he wouldn’t land flat on his face and break his nose.
He skidded into the dirt on his left side, scraping his knee, but avoiding his face at the same time. He’d been prepared for the fall; he knew he hadn’t broken any bones and he knew he’d be fine. The only thing he cared about was the person in the car. He was hoping and praying no one had seen him fall. He despised the idea of falling in front of anyone, and he hated looking foolish in public.
But when he looked up, he saw a pair of pointy black shoes in front of his face. They were shiny and had two inch Cuban heels. His stomach turned and his heart began to pound. He closed his eyes for a second and grimaced, hoping it wasn’t who he thought it was.
“You okay, buddy?” a deep voice asked.
Junior rose to his knees and brushed sand off his T-shirt. He didn’t look him in the eye. There was a lump in his throat and he couldn’t find his voice. Of all the times he had to fall, why did it have to be in front of Carlo Pagano, the best looking man he’d ever met.
“You took some fall,” Carlo said, and then he reached for Junior’s hand and helped him to his feet.
“I’m fine,” Junior said. “I didn’t break anything. It looked worse than it was.” He bent his legs and stretched his arms. “See, nothing broken. I’ll live.”
Carlo pointed to Junior’s knee. It wasn’t dripping with blood, but there were bloody sections from where he’d scraped it on the stones. “You sure. Are you from around here? I could give you a lift home.”
Junior felt no pain. Even if he had hurt himself, he wouldn’t have known. His endorphins were already rushing because he’d been running, and being so close to Carlo made him feel the sensation even stronger. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth. He didn’t want Carlo to know that he was so intimidated he could barely speak without stammering. He had to act normal; he had to force himself to be cool and calm.
“I live close by,” Junior said. “In The Farms.” It wasn’t that he didn’t want to give details about his life. He didn’t want to sound stupid and immature; he figured the less said the better he’d look. Then he looked at Carlo’s face for the first time. Carlo was wearing sunglasses and Junior couldn’t look into his eyes. But he was even better looking up close, in the daylight. His nose was the perfect length, his strong chin had a small cleft, and his skin was an unusual shade of olive and bronze. He reminded Junior of the gorgeous men he’d seen on those TV dance shows, those guys with the cool outfits, perfect haircuts, and strong confident expressions on their faces.
“I’m a dance instructor at The Farms,” Carlo said. “My name is Carlo Pagano.”
“I’m Junior,” Junior said, hating the way his name sounded coming from his mouth. He should have said his name was Maxwell. Junior was the name of a little boy, or a forty year old fat guy who still lived at home with his mother and father.
Carlo reached for his hand and shook it hard. “Nice to meet you, Junior.
Are you new? I haven’t seen you around before.”
Junior shrugged. “This is my first summer here,” he said. “My father knows Ben Timberlake.”
Carlo laughed and rubbed his jaw. “Good old Ben,” he said. It was hard to tell whether he was being sarcastic or faithful to his boss.
“I’d better get back to my run,” Junior said. The scrape on his leg was beginning to burn and he had a long run back to the house. Not to mention the fact that he was standing next to the best looking man he’d ever met and his hair was soaked with sweat, his shirt was covered with dirt, and his knee was scraped and bleeding.
“Maybe I should give you a lift back,” Carlo said. “I don’t mind. I was only stopping by here to pick up my wallet. Someone found it last night and the manager told me he’d leave it in the mailbox.”
Junior smiled and started jogging in place. “I’m fine,” he said. “But thanks for asking.” Carlo looked mean and rough, but sounded to nice and polite.
As Junior turned to leave, Carlo shouted, “Nice meeting you, Junior. I’ll see you around.”
Junior lifted his arm and waved it back and forth. His leg was killing him, but he focused hard on running smoothly so Carlo wouldn’t think he was awkward and uncoordinated. Junior had seen those gangly types jogging down the road, with their knees knocking together, their unsightly arms jerking in all directions, and their thighs jiggling.
When he reached the edge of the parking lot to cross back onto the road, he looked back quickly to see what Carlo was doing. Carlo was standing there, in the same spot where Junior had left him, with his legs spread wide and his hands shoved into his pockets, watching Junior jog down the road. Junior didn’t take a full relaxed breath until he was around the corner and completely out of Carlo’s sight.

You Can’t Read Minds, So Don’t Even Try

I read a lot of publishing blogs. I read them for information about the industry and I read them for the wonderful writing tips they provide. Yesterday, Nathan Bransford wrote a great post about the dynamics between two characters. And I learned something new.

But this post isn’t about character dynamics. It’s more about author/reader dynamics. Besides publishing blogs, I also learn a lot from reading reviews about my books. Whether they are good, mediocre, or bad reviews, I usually learn something. Yesterday I learned that it’s not possible to read minds (smile).

In Dancing Dirty, I went into detailed explanations about the time period and how gay men related to each other in 1978. I did this in several sections of the book because I have a fan base that ranges from the early twenties on up and many of the readers have no idea what it was like back in l978. For example, the concept of safe sex hadn’t come about yet because the AIDS virus hadn’t reached the mainstream public. AIDS was around, but no one knew about it (or took it seriously) until the early eighties. I also went into detail about the time period because I’ve learned never to take anything for granted. In other words, I don’t assume that a reader will know something. I explain it. And, we’re not talking about pages of explanation here; just a few extra sentences here and there.

And yet one reader who reviewed Dancing Dirty thought I went into too much detail about the time period by repeating certain facts throughout the book. It was actually a great review, and I thank her for it, seriously. The reason I’m writing this post, though, is to show readers that authors do, in fact, take these things into consideration while they are writing. And if there’s too much information…or what seems like too much information…it’s only because the author doesn’t want to take any chances with sensitive subjects. If I’d written this novel and not mentioned anything about what it was like in l978, I’m sure I would have had tons of e-mails slamming me for not mentioning safe sex practices.

Sometimes I wish I could go back and re-write certain things in certain books. And usually it’s because I feel as though I’ve left something out. But not this time. The information about the time period in the book is valid, and I hope no one feels as though I’ve tried to insult their intelligence. Because I’ve learned there’s no way to read minds and the more information about certain subjects the better it is for most readers in general. Personally, when I read any book I look for the detailed information all the time. And when it’s not there I’m usually disappointed.


DANCING DIRTY was released today, and I’ll blog more about it later. But here’s a basic synopsis of the story from the publisher’s web site.


It’s the summer of 1978, it’s the middle of the disco era, and dancing is one of the hottest trends. But eighteen year old Junior has never seen the inside of a gay bar or danced with another man. His mother and father think he’s just shy about meeting girls and that he’ll grow out of it. His little sister drives him insane with her constant invisible companion, a talking dog named Elmer. All Junior cares about is meeting the right man and falling in love.

But when his parents buy a summer home in an exclusive resort community in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, his prospects of finding love don’t look too promising. His first day there he meets an aggressive, abrasive young woman who isn’t the least bit shy about letting him know she wants to get to know him better. And the more he ignores her, the more she chases after him.

While his mother and father are enjoying all the amenities of the resort, and his sister is flirting with one of the waiters, Junior mopes around watching everyone else have fun. That is until he meets a handsome young dance instructor named Carlo who changes his life in ways he’d never dreamed were possible.

From the minute Junior lays eyes on Carlo, he knows he’s in love. And in order to prove his love, he’s willing to make personal sacrifices that no one else has ever been willing to make for Carlo…

New Book Cover for Dancing Dirty

DANCING DIRTY hasn’t been released yet, but I just got a copy of the cover, hot off the presses, and wanted to share. I’m not sure when the actual release date is, but I’ll post more about it later.
I can say this right now. The book is set in the summer of 1978, in the middle of the disco era, and there’s a lot of love, romance, and dancing between the two main characters.
And, as with any re-telling of a popular story, I added a few of my own twists to make this different from the original movie, Dirty Dancing. The two main characters are gay during a time when it wasn’t as acceptable as it is now, so the plot is more complicated. The music in the book is set according to the time frame, which was all about dancing. And there’s an interesting character that was not in the original story. His name is Elmer and he’s a puca (pooka), an invisible talking dog that may or may not be part of another character’s imagination.