Category: jonah sweet of delancey street

Reevaluating Book Covers, Indie Publishing, Gays at Proms in Alabama

Reevaluating Book Covers

I think I’ve read every Fanny Flagg novel there is since Fried Greed Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. And the reason I’m mentioning this now is because a couple of years ago I noticed one or two of Flagg’s older books had been released with covers different from the original. I’ve noticed the same thing with old Anne Tyler novels, too. So it’s not all that uncommon for publishers to change book covers after a certain amount of time, and I know for a fact that many books released in other countries often have different book covers than those released in the US for marketing reasons. And one of the perks of indie publishing is that indie authors don’t have to stick with the same book cover if they’re not happy with it. You can change that cover just like publishers…as long as you’re willing to go through the time, effort, and expense.

In my case I’m talking about Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street. (The old cover is still up.) I have never been completely happy with the cover. Before I released the book I had four other covers made and couldn’t make up my mind. This is no reflection on the cover artist either. All the covers are good, but for some reason they just don’t work for me. So once again, I had a new cover made and I’m changing it. I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference to readers who’ve already read the book. In fact, I’ve had people tell me they weren’t fond of the current cover either. (Readers are honest)

The new cover is simpler, and runs more along the lines of my own personal taste. I’m fond of monochromatic color schemes, and not fond of anything that “pops.” I would rather eat dirt than wear yellow or even stand next to someone else wearing yellow. I prefer ten shades of beige over anything multicolored. I try to step back with each cover I choose with the indie books so my personal taste doesn’t get in the way of my judgment, and also so every book doesn’t wind up looking like the other. But when something bothers you that much, and you just don’t think you can stand it, you have to act on it and go with what you love…and hope for the best.

This is probably one of the biggest perks about indie publishing. I doubt a publisher would change a book cover unless it were absolutely necessary, or there was a specific reason. And frankly, in most cases I would advise against changing book covers because readers get used to seeing them. But in this case, with Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street, I just can’t live with it. I just hope this is the last time.

Gays at Proms

I personally think that proms are right up there with graduations, weddings, and milestone anniversaries as being pivotal moments in our lives. I went to my prom. I took a girl because up until recently gay teens didn’t even think about going with a guy, and I still had a wonderful time. When Tony and I owned tanning salons back in the 90’s, I used to get excited from March until June because that was prom time and moms would bring their kids in to tan for the prom. (Even though back then we didn’t know everything about skin cancer, we wouldn’t allow anyone under 18 to tan without a parent present…it’s wasn’t the law, it was MY law. After we sold the salons in 2004, prom time is what I missed most about not being there anymore) Most parents appreciated our strict rules, and I got to watch hundreds of kids prepare for their proms. I know to some that might not sound all that exciting, but I always knew those kids would remember that prom for the rest of their lives and I was thrilled to be a small part of it. I often run into them, all grown up now, at local stores and they mention it.

In any event, a high school in Alabama just “un-banned” a rule that stated same-sex couples couldn’t attend the prom. Even though this isn’t as significant as legalized same-sex marriage, I think it’s almost as important and it sends a positive message to gay kids and it lets them know there’s nothing wrong with them. But more important, the reason the ban was lifted is because other students spoke up and protested it.

Interim Superintendent Amy Bryan abolished the anti-gay policy soon after she learned of its existence.

“An administrator issued a list of prom rules that included a discriminatory statement,” she said, per WSFA. “No one lost their right to go anywhere. It’s unfortunate it was in our rules, and all children will be welcome to the Junior-Senior Prom.”

I also think it’s interesting that this didn’t happen in New York or Los Angeles. It happened in Alabama. I guess things are changing.

You can read more here.

FREE E-Books on ARe; Jonathan Groff Full Frontal; FREE Gay Excerpt

FREE E-Books on ARe

I haven’t done any freebies since before Christmas and figured it was time. I did do a Valentine’s Day giveaway with Queertown Abbey, and Tammy Brewer Parker won a copy of Cowboy Christmas Miracle. The two freebies I’m doing now are from the Second Chance series. Both links are up to date and I’ve checked to make sure the books are there for free.

Once again, I wish I could put them up on Amazon for free, but Amazon has rules and I can’t change those rules. So the freebies will be up on, which is a very simple web site to navigate and downloads are explained well. (I think readers get the best book descriptions there, too.) I know many of my readers tell me they often prefer ARe over most retail web sites where e-books are sold. And most of the time the comments are about the excellent customer service they get at ARe. I can tell you from a publishing perspective, I love working with them.

Second Chance, the first book in the series.

Second Chance, His Only Choice, the third book in the series.

I will be releasing the fourth book in the series very soon…title yet to be determined.

Jonathan Groff Full Frontal

I’ve been going back and forth all week in e-mails with several good friends about how much we’re loving the HBO series, Looking. Last week’s episode was about as real as if gets when two gay men first meet and take a strong romantic interest in each other. It’s that first time getting to know you deal, with sex included. I don’t know how these things work in the straight community, but I do know how they work with gay men and I felt as if I’d gone back in time just watching Jonathan Groff last week. It also validates everything I’ve ever written in a gay romance.

And Groff, from what I found through a simple search, doesn’t follow the double standard rule where only women do full frontal nudity. He’s done some full frontal himself, and he looks adorable.

I can’t post the actual photos here for copyright reasons, but I love this web site I’m linking to now, and you can view several full frontal photos of Groff showing off there.

You can get there from here.

I think Groff is making TV history and might not even know it. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a TV series that depicts gay men and gay relationships without insulting them in those subtle ways most people don’t pick up on.

FREE Gay Excerpt

Pardon the titles of my free Friday excerpt posts, but I do that for search engines and it works. I’d rather not, but it is what it is and search engines rule all things Internet.

In any event, here’s a free excerpt from my novel, Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street. It’s probably one of the books I’ve loved writing the most, and one that I can actually go back and read myself, which doesn’t always happen for me.

You can find it here, on Amazon, for .99. And in other places where e-books are sold like Smashwords and

Set Up: This is the part of the novel where Jonah and David are just becoming a couple and Jonah invites his parents to dinner at David’s loft.

Side Note: The book cover above is one that I had originally planned to use. I changed my mind at the last minute and went for the one you’ll see at the link above.


In mid-July, Jonah invited his mom and Dad to the home he now shared with David on Delancey Street. He’d been helping them pack since they’d returned from their quick trip to Florida. They’d purchased a condominium in an adult community not far from Fort Lauderdale and they had to be out of their house in Queens by the end of the month. The packing after work didn’t bother Jonah at all. It was the bickering over what they would take and what they wouldn’t take that caused a twitch in Jonah’s right eyelid.

When David suggested Jonah should invite his parents to dinner one night before they moved, Jonah glanced at him with wide eyes. “Are you certain you want to go through that? They aren’t easy people to deal with. I’m not joking. They’ve spent a lifetime arguing over things like whether or not green plastic trash bags are better than white plastic trash bags.”

They were in bed watching TV the night David suggested this. He threw his naked leg over Jonah’s and laughed. He pulled Jonah closer and put his arm around him. “I just think that now that we are in a relationship and we are officially a couple I should meet your parents formally. And they should see where you’ll be living. I want to do the right thing.”

Jonah set his palm on David’s abdomen and rested his head on his chest. This was the first time David had brought up the topic of them being an official couple. David didn’t talk about emotions or feelings or anything that caused him to think too hard. He thought like a man would think: no one could fault him for this. Jonah, who tended to be more sensitive, knew David well enough to know pushing him into anything would never work. So this announcement took Jonah by surprise. “I’ll invite them over on Friday night. But I warn you, expect anything.”

David spread his other leg and bucked his hips a little. “I’m sure it will be fine,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ll tell Carson to have something special that night, but not too complicated.”

“My dad likes prime rib,” Jonah said. He wanted to keep the dinner simple. He knew that if they served something too extravagant with a complicated French name, his parents would frown and exchange confused glances.

“I’ll tell Carson to arrange the perfect English meal: prime rib with Yorkshire pudding,” David said. He bucked his hips again and the head of his dick poked up through the covers.

Jonah glanced down and smiled. “You’re horny, aren’t you?”

David grabbed the back of Jonah’s head and pushed him forward. “I thought maybe you’d like some prime beef tonight. I know how much you like it.”

When David was in a good mood, he often made cheesy jokes about his dick, referring to it as his “pork sword” or his “beef stick.” Sometimes he even laughed and called it his “ram rod.” These were not references anyone with an ounce common sense would ever take seriously. Jonah certainly didn’t; he had a sense of humor. Jonah laughed and said, “You know me too well, David.” Then he went under the covers and gave David a simple, unreciprocated blow job before they went to sleep. Although most of the time their sex consisted of role-playing and other games that involved Jonah being restrained and bound, it wasn’t always this way. Sometimes a simple blow job like the one Jonah gave him that night was all they needed. In a way, this made Jonah smile. He liked what they did in the playroom; nothing excited him more than being tied up and gagged. But he also liked knowing they didn’t have to go to such extremes all the time to be sexually satisfied.

On the night Jonah’s mom and dad came to dinner, David turned out to be the perfect host. Jonah’s mom and dad watched in awe while Carson served them, exchanging glances with each other when they thought Jonah wasn’t looking. He hadn’t told them much about David, his new life, or about his job. When he read their minds, he heard them thinking things like, “What does this David guy see in plain little Jonah,” and, “How lucky can you get?” But he didn’t read their minds too much that night. The things they thought about him, even though it was with love, often tended to depress him.

David played the part of gay son-in-law so well he started calling Jonah’s parents mom and dad without even asking for permission. When Jonah’s mom heard this for the first time, she clutched her necklace and tilted he head. Her eyes filled and she said, “I’m so thrilled to know my son has met someone so wonderful, David. You’re the miracle I’ve been praying for since Jonah graduated from college.” She turned to Jonah and smiled, and then glanced back at David. “I used to worry so much. Jonah’s a good boy, but he always seemed to scare gay men away. It wasn’t easy coming to terms with him being a gay, let me tell you. But when I finally did I realized I had to worry about him meeting the right man. For a while I thought the only hope for him was this nice gay boy from the neighborhood, Stanley Minford.”

“David knows all about Stanley, mom,” Jonah said. “Can we please not talk about him tonight?” Though he loved her, he always felt the uncontrollable urge to get as far away from her as possible. He hoped and prayed David wouldn’t read their minds.

David smiled. “I’ve never met anyone like Jonah. He’s changed my life.”

Jonah’s dad seemed uncomfortable. His face always turned red whenever Jonah’s mom talked about Jonah being with a man, even Stanley Minford. It was okay for Jonah to be gay as long as they kept everything on a surface level; just don’t mention Jonah sleeping with a man.  

But Jonah’s mom just kept on talking in spite of her husband. She patted David’s hand and glanced in Jonah’s direction again. “Don’t do anything to screw this up, Jonah. You don’t find a man on the street every day like David.”

Jonah felt like stuffing a lump of Yorkshire pudding in her mouth. She made him sound defected, or second hand, as if men took one look at him and ran in the opposite direction. But he didn’t want to argue. They were leaving soon and he wanted to keep things positive. So he smiled and said, “I know how lucky I am, mom. Thanks for being so supportive.”

After dinner, David took Jonah’s parents on a tour of the penthouse conservatory. Jonah’s mom thought it was scandalous there weren’t any window treatments; his dad seemed as interested in this as he did when he went to church on Sunday. When David took them through the rest of the building and said he rarely used most of the rooms, Jonah’s mom gaped at him as if he’d lost his mind. Jonah continued to block out her thoughts. He had a feeling his mom was trying to choose which room she’d take when she came back to visit New York.

At the end of the evening, they walked Jonah’s parents down to the garage and David kissed them both goodbye. Jonah almost laughed when he saw the way his dad’s eyebrows arched. David promised he’d take Jonah to Florida as soon as they were settled, to his home in Palm Beach that he rarely ever used. Jonah listened without speaking. He didn’t know much about David’s home in Florida. He started to wonder about all the other things he didn’t know about David.

They went down to the playroom as soon as Jonah’s parents were gone and David removed all his clothes and put on a harness.

Gay Guy Racist Big Brother; Gay Dead for Blowing Kiss; FREE Excerpt Day

Gay Guy Is Racist Big Brother 15

I’ve been posting about Big Brother 15 all summer and how I’ve never seen a more racist, vicious group of people who will do anything…absolutely anything…for the sake of a buck. I have watched this show for what feels like my entire life every summer and this year might be the last. Even the gay guy on the show, Andy Herren, who has been the victim of racial comments this summer from other house guests, has joined up with the hate and racism.

Andy Herren was called a “queer” by Gries and “Kermit the fag” by Clawson, but that didn’t keep him from hopping on the hate bandwagon when he agreed with Zimmerman’s observation that many of the evicted houseguests were “robotic biracials.” The college where Herren is/was employed is trying to distance themselves from his comments and posted the following message on its Facebook page:

The statement from the college is vague, and I wonder if Herren actually worked for the college recently, in what capacity, and what his actual job title was. He’s such a consummate liar on the show it would be hard to believe anything he said.

You can read more here to see a statement from the college. He’s allegedly been fired, like other Big Brother house guests this summer, and like the others who have lost their jobs Herren has no idea. That’s because the house guests are sequestered all summer and they have no idea what’s been happening in the outside world. With that said, they all know they are on camera at all times and that anything and everything they say or do is recorded for the entire world to see.

As a side note, for those who aren’t familiar with Big Brother, one of the reasons people watch Big Brother is to either love or hate the house guests. It’s an interesting game filled with strategy, and the contestants are not supposed to play fair all the time. Lying, cheating, and subterfuge is part of the game and it’s expected in the game. It’s what makes the game interesting. However, racism isn’t a requirement. Unfortunately, some of these people are either too dumb or too clueless to get this.

Gay Dead for Blowing Kiss

This is an unusual story because there seem to be so many various stories surfacing it’s hard to grasp what happened. Even the victim’s name has been misreported, as if someone wasn’t paying attention to the facts.

This piece originally stated that a gay man was murdered because he blew a kiss at a young straight man. An update mentions the victim’s name. Another update mentions he wasn’t really gay.

Steven Torres, a 22-year-old Bronx resident, is facing charges of second degree murder for the death of Ever Orozco after allegedly attacking the man beneath the elevated 7 train station at 90th St. and Roosevelt Ave as he was feeding a parking meter around 1:30 p.m.

“There was a lot of screaming, and all I could see was the guy was stabbing him — stabbing him and stabbing him,” stated Eddie De Jesus, a local stop owner who bore witness to the incident.

According to the New York Daily News, Torres is claiming that he initiated the attack because Orozco “[blew] kisses” at him.

And this piece quotes the victim’s wife.

THE WIDOW of a 69-year-old man knifed to death in Queens Monday afternoon raged at the confessed killer Tuesday, calling him “a liar” for claiming her husband made a sexual pass at him and touched himself.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know the truth because if the victim was gay his wife might not have known it. It happens all the time, and just because a man is married to a woman doesn’t mean he’s not attracted to other men. The wife is usually the last to know, and the first to go into denial. I can’t even count the times a so-called straight married man has made passes at me over the years. And sometimes when is wife is standing right next to him.

But aside from all that, because it doesn’t really matter, this was still a hate crime against the LGBT community, and not the only one that has happened in NY this year.

Overall, NYC has seen a sharp spike in anti-LGBT violence since the spring, with former mayoral candidate Christine Quinn reportedly stating that year-to-year numbers have shown an expected 70 percent increase in anti-gay hate crimes.

FREE Excerpt Day

Here’s another free excerpt from one of my books, Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street. It’s one of my indie releases, it’s a .99 e-book, and can be purchased at several places, including the link above to Amazon.

Although I didn’t hold back with the erotic scenes in this book (far from it), this is from the beginning of Chapter Two where Jonah Sweet meets David Abernathy for the first time. Aside from trying to learn how to cook, Jonah also has the gift of mind reading. The book isn’t a paranormal by any means. But like there are people who can read minds in real life and see into the future, so can Jonah.
From the raw, unedited version…

The next morning Jonah had an exam. He was supposed to cut or chop something and he wasn’t sure exactly what it was. They never told the students in advance; they expected the students to be prepared and to know how to do anything on the spot. He had a feeling it wasn’t going to be a good day at all. When he glanced into his closet for something to wear, all he found were his tight beige slacks and a pale, faded pink polo shirt that was so short he couldn’t lift his arms without showing off his bare stomach. The rest of his things were in the laundry and his mom hadn’t done them yet. The only alternative to wearing this outfit would have been to pull something out of his hamper.

He shrugged in defeat and slid the short polo shirt over his head; knowing deep down what he wore had nothing to do with how he would do on the exam. It was a progressive school in the sense that they didn’t force students to wear uniforms; just white aprons and hats while they were working with food. He fastened the tight beige slacks and pulled up the zipper, wishing he hadn’t thrown the jeans he’d worn yesterday into the hamper. He didn’t realize he’d forgotten to take off the cock ring until he got on the subway. He felt an itch between his legs when he sat down next to an old man reading the newspaper. When he reached down to scratch, he felt the black leather cock ring and sighed so loud the old man sitting next to him lowered the newspaper and sent him a dirty look.

As usual, Jonah was right on time without a second to spare and he couldn’t run into the men’s room to remove the cock ring. If he had, he would have been late for class. Those cooking instructors were a serious group. The few times he had arrived late they’d made him stand at the back of the class and separate eggs for three hours, or worse, chop garlic. So he ran up to the second floor, down the hall, and skidded into the classroom with his apron strings flying. He’d put on his apron and his hat on the way up the steps. The rest of the students had already arrived and the only work station available was up front. Jonah preferred to work in the back row so he could blend in better if he wasn’t sure about what he was doing. He didn’t have any choice that morning.

When he entered the room, the instructor threw him a somber glance and frowned. Jonah looked up at a clock on the wall and saw that he was on time; not late, but not early either. He wanted to flip the old goat the bird and say, “It’s only cutting vegetables, not cancer research.” But he’d never been the type to do things like that. So he lifted his chin and set his jaw in defense and turned fast. He took his place at the work station in the front row and dropped his back pack on the floor. He tied his apron and took a quick breath. When he stood up straight to face the instructor, he had to stand with his legs slightly spread apart, with his back arched a little. The cock ring was starting to pinch.

As the instructor shuffled a few papers, a tall man in a biege mock turtle neck sweater walked into the room. The entire class, including Jonah, glanced up to see who he was. He held his head high, with a superior attitude, and swaggered up to the long work station at the head of the class where the instructor stood in front of a large industrial sink. The instructor shook the man’s hand, said something no one could hear, and smiled for the first time since Jonah had enrolled in the cooking school. Then the instructor faced the class and said, “We have a guest today. This is Mr. David Abernathy. He not only owns this school, but also one of the largest restaurant chains in the world and some very large casinos. He’s looking for someone to intern with him and learn his business from the bottom up. The internship will count toward your diploma and the person selected will graduate without having to return. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”

A quiet, collective gasp passed through the room and Jonah knew why. He’d read all about David Abernathy in more than one magazine. His photo was hanging in the front hall of the school. Jonah had also seen him on TV and in a few cameos for feature films. From all reports, David Abernathy was worth more than a billion dollars and he’d made it all on his own by starting a small hamburger stand on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. And he was even better looking in person. He stood over six feet tall, with his head held high and even. His short black hair didn’t have a set part. It seemed messy on top as if he’d planned it that way. The muscles in his arms and shoulders and chest protruded through the tight mock turtleneck in an obvious way that suggested he wanted to show them off. The tight dark jeans he wore accentuated his long legs and created a slight bulge in his crotch. From what Jonah had read, David Abernathy always wore basically the same outfit: a black or beige mock turtle neck and jeans. Sometimes he wore a suit and sometimes he wore a suit jacket with jeans. But he never wore colors other than black, beige, or muted olive green. Jonah had read somewhere he was so obsessive about his conservative clothes he had thousands of identical black and beige mock turtleneck sweaters stacked neatly in all of the homes he owned.

David Abernathy glanced at the students and nodded. His face remained expressionless; he laced his fingers together below his waist. Jonah couldn’t help notice how large his hands were. He had long thick fingers and with smooth even knuckles. A man’s hands were important to Jonah: knobby knuckles and tiny fingers made him wince. He’d always had this unproven theory that a man’s fingers resembled his dick.

The instructor frowned at Jonah and spoke to the entire class. “Today I’ll be testing you on your julienne skills. You will be required to julienne red bell peppers, carrots, leeks, and zucchini. You will be given a certain amount of time to do this and you will be evaluated. Mr. Abernathy will observe and he will make his decision at the end of the class. Are there any questions?”

Jonah glanced at the vegetables at his work station that he would be chopping. He hated to julienne even more than he hated to bone chickens. Getting those thin little strips just right made his stomach tighten. And those red bell peppers were a killer, with all those messy seeds and slimy insides. Oh, if he’d known this would be the exam he would have been practicing his julienne skills last night instead of dicing the fucking onions. This instructor always threw him off this way. The man couldn’t be predicted, not even by a mind reader.

Though Jonah knew he didn’t have a chance in hell at being chosen for the internship with David Abernathy, he lifted his French knife and braced for battle with the red bell pepper. When the instructor said, “Go,” Jonah reached for a pepper and did the best he could. While everyone around him seemed to work with precision, Jonah forced a smile and tried to keep the pepper on the wooden work station so he could slice it in half. He lost the first one because he moved his leg and the cock ring pinched his left nut. He squeezed the pepper too hard, it flew off the work station, and landed in the large sink in front of the instructor. When Jonah glanced up, the instructor glared back at him with his arms folded across his chest. Jonah forced a smile and a quick shrug, even though the cock ring was pinching him so hard now he wanted to scream.

Jonah avoided looking at David Abernathy completely. David had piercing blue eyes and a deep intense stare. He knew if he did look at him he’d only screw up even more. Jonah had always avoided men like David Abernathy. When he looked into their eyes a lump always formed in his throat and he lost his voice.

When the instructor told them to stop, Jonah glanced down at his station and frowned. He’d only managed to cut up three red peppers, excluding the one that went over the work station. And not very well either. Instead of thin strips like everyone around him, his resembled thick crooked arrows with jagged edges and dented skins. One looked as if he’d stepped on it and rubbed it between his legs. As the instructor walked up and down the aisles, passing work stations to see what the students had done, Jonah tried to push the ugliest slices of pepper out of the way. But it didn’t work. When the instructor reached his work station and glanced down to see Jonah’s work, he shook his head and sent Jonah a look that combined pity and disgust.

David Abernathy stood behind the instructor, checking to see who had the best julienne skills. David glanced at the mess on Jonah’s work station and his eyebrows went up. After he blinked, he rubbed his jaw and tilted his head to the side. When Jonah got nervous he had trouble controlling his mind reading skills. He heard the instructor thinking, “What a fucking dunce. It’s a good thing he’s cute and he has that hot little ass, because he wouldn’t have a chance otherwise.” Jonah heard a few of the other students around him laughing internally at the mess he’d created. But Jonah couldn’t read David Abernathy’s mind at all. He wasn’t sure why either. And he didn’t try harder. From the confused look on Abernathy’s face, Jonah had a feeling he didn’t want to know what Abernathy was thinking.

The rest of the julienne exams went as poorly as the red bell pepper. The cock ring continued to pinch. Jonah almost lost a finger with the leeks. And those skinny carrots made him bite the inside of his lip so hard he thought he drew blood. By that time Jonah had calmed down enough to control his mind reading skills and he only had to glance at the instructor’s expression to know his thoughts. Each time David Abernathy saw what Jonah had done at the work station his expression went blank, as if he didn’t know what to say.

After Jonah finished working on the zucchini, David Abernathy walked up behind him and startled him so much he gasped and dropped a nine inch zucchini.  It landed on the floor between Abernathy’s feet in a way Jonah couldn’t have planned if he’d tried. He stumbled and wound up on his hands and knees. The back of his short polo shirt went up and exposed half of his naked back. He had to grab David Abernathy’s leg for support so he wouldn’t topple over completely. When he glanced up to apologize, he saw David Abernathy looking down at him with his hands on his hips and what might have been a half smile. It was either that or Abernathy was hiding a sneer.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Abernathy,” Jonah said. “It just slipped right out of my hand. I guess I wasn’t holding it hard enough.” In this position the cock ring pinched even more.

David leaned forward and extended his hands. He grabbed Jonah’s upper arms and lifted him to a standing position without making a face. Jonah’s eyes opened wide; he’d never been lifted by anyone that way before. Then David picked up the zucchini, handed it to Jonah, and said, “This might be a little too big for you to handle. You should try something smaller. Something you can really get your hand around.”

Jonah’s jaw dropped and he nodded. He tried to read David’s mind again and nothing happened. “I’ll do that, Mr. Abernathy. Thank you, Sir.”

When Jonah called him Sir, David sent him an intense stare that lingered a second or two longer than it should have. David nodded fast and said, “You’re welcome.”

At the end of the class, the instructor took a few minutes to evaluate the students and Jonah cleaned up his work station. He didn’t dare look up at David Abernathy or the instructor. He knew he’d never have a chance to be Abernathy’s intern. But more than that, he had a feeling he’d flunked the class and he’d have to wind up taking it all over again. His mind began to wander and he started to think about taking a real estate course instead of cooking school. Maybe his mom was right: he should call Stanley Minford up and marry and settle down. There were worse men than Stanley. At least Stanley would always treat him well. He just couldn’t get past the sex they would have…or wouldn’t have. He’d always believed the sex should be spectacular in the beginning of a relationship. He’d been counting on this.

When the instructor set his notebook down, he said something to David Abernathy and they walked into a small office to discuss who Abernathy had chosen to be his intern. While they were in the office, Jonah ran down the hall to the men’s room to remove the cock ring. He didn’t linger. He went into a stall, shoved his hand down his pants, and undid the snaps. Then he shoved the cock ring into his pocket and noticed that his pants were so tight it stuck out even with the apron. He couldn’t walk around with a cock ring sticking out of his leg, and didn’t want to leave the cock ring in the bathroom. This one had cost him a lot of money. So he snapped it around his wrist and ran back to the classroom.

When he returned, the instructor and David were coming out of the office. The instructor noticed Jonah rushing into the room and he frowned. Jonah looked down at his shoes and took a deep breath, praying this would all be over soon so he could figure out what he’d do now. As the two men walked back to the main work station, the instructor had a strange look on his face. His lips were pinched together and his eyebrows furrowed. David Abernathy stood still, with his head up high and the same blank expression he’d had when he arrived. He even folded his hands behind his back and started rocking on his feet. At one point, Jonah could feel David’s stare and he didn’t dare look up to see why he was looking at him.

The instructor coughed and said, “Mr. Abernathy has made his decision. The rest of you have passed the course and I’ll go over your grades with you in private in my office one at a time.” He stopped talking and glared at Jonah for a moment. Then he clenched his fists and said, “Jonah Sweet will be leaving us so he can apprentice with David Abernathy.”


Free M/M Romance Erotic E-Book; Adam Goldberg Full Frontal Nude Scene

I’ll post more about this over the weekend, but I decided to do a promotional thing with Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street, and it will be offered on Amazon as a free e-book starting January 19, 2013. It will be free for a week. I actually wanted to extend it, but there’s only so much Amazon will let you do and you have to play by the rules. But I’m looking into that.

In any event, here’s the Amazon link. As I said I’ll post more over the weekend to make sure the information gets out. As a reader, I actually take advantage of these free author promotions all the time and I have four free e-books on my e-reader that I haven’t even started yet. So when it comes to promotions like this I try to think like a reader as well.

And now, because it’s Friday and it’s been a long week, here are a few links about a topic I find interesting: male full frontal nudity. And it’s not that I find it interesting for sexual reasons. There’s no shortage of male full frontal in the adult entertainment industry and I can go to any web site I want to see it if that’s what I choose to do. If I really want to, I can see as much male full frontal nudity as I want in real life as well. However, I have always found it interesting that there seems to be a double standard in mainstream films (and everywhere) with regard to male full frontal nudity.

It all depends on how you look at it, no pun intended. We always tend to see more female nudity…even full frontal…than male nudity. There are people who think this is discriminatory toward women, they find it offensive in most cases, and they consider it the worst form of female exploitation in films. Basically, a lot of people think this objectifies women and gets men off the hook so to speak. And I wouldn’t argue that point, because I do think most films, ads, and anything in mainstream tends to objectify women and misrepresent them. “They’ve” been doing this for years and it doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.

But I find gay men being misrepresented all the time, too. And objectified in ways people aren’t even aware of. But that would be another post. What I really find interesting is that male full frontal nudity has always been so taboo. I know some who would argue with the point that we don’t objectify men as much as we do women, at least not straight men. But I’ve always wondered about whether or not it went deeper than that. People behind the scenes in mainstream media care only about one thing: money. And when money is involved they will objectify and exploit anyone they can. Think politicians and how they exploit on a daily basis, and get away with it. In other words, I don’t think they care if men are objectified or sensationalized with full frontal. Yet they don’t do it because it is so taboo.

And then, in some cases, I think full frontal nudity, male or female, works if it is related to the scene…or if it moves the scene forward. There’s really no definition for this. But I could compare it to a few full frontal scenes I’ve seen on TV shows like “Shameless.” This show always seems true to its title: “Shameless.” And each time there have been any nude scenes, it’s always been a shameless scene. I don’t think that’s exploitation or misrepresentation. It’s being true to the story and not holding back. Then, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s the size factor with male full frontal. Very few male actors with small penises will do it, and that makes things even more complicated. Because if a scene calls for male full frontal the size of the actor’s penis shouldn’t matter. Yet it does.

I could go on for pages with this topic. And I’ll get into it again in the future after I learn more about censorship in TV and films. But below are a few more links about full frontal nudity and male actors who have done it. Some of them surprised me. I didn’t even know they’d done it. As a side note, I’m also told a lot of these full frontals are done with stand-ins and prosthetics, but I don’t think that’s the case with these three links.

Here’s a link to watch Tom Hardy’s full frontal nude scene.

Here’s one of Bow Wow.  I would be remiss if I didn’t add this is not a film full frontal, but because it’s such a nice one I figured I’d link to it anyway. It is, indeed, full frontal.

And this one with Adam Goldberg is worth checking out, too. The image below is dark, but if you click the link you’ll see Mr. Goldberg in all his glory in more detail.

"Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey"

Before I get into Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey I’m linking to an article that talks about future film plans for FSoG, here.

Best selling author E L James has finally broke her silence on whether “Fifty Shades of Grey” will remain a trilogy on the big screen. The film rights were purchased in March by Universal Pictures yet there was no discussion on how many films would be made. Although there has been no official announcement, E L James has taken to her favorite social media outlet, Twitter, to answer the question. On August 25 a fan asked James, “is the film going to be a combination of all books wrapped up?” Within minutes the author responded by stating, “three films hopefully :).” This is exciting news to fans who have been wondering for months how the novels would be depicted on film.

The article goes on to talk about who might be cast in the lead roles…none of which are Matt Bomer, unfortunately.

There’s also a non-fiction book coming out this fall titled Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. You can check it out here on Amazon. I participated in the book with an essay about my thoughts and feelings about FSoG, and went into detail about my reading experience, how I found FSoG on a review site, and how it actually inspired me to write my own BDSM novel, Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street. I’d like to emphasize that Jonah Sweet is not a parody of FSoG and does not even come near the storyline. In fact, in my book, after reading what so many loved and hated about FSoG in reviews, and then weighing them and examining the reasons why some either love it or hated it, I decided to write a BDSM novel that was NOT like FSoG.

But when asked if I was interested in contributing to Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey, I couldn’t wait to get started. It wasn’t easy to keep it short. I could have written a chapter if there’d been room. What I found most interesting about FSoG was that the people who seemed to dislike it were very into the BDSM lifestyle and almost felt insulted at the way BDSM was handled in FSoG. I’ll admit that I didn’t get that at first. Now I do get it.

On the other hand, the mainstream…people who know nothing about BDSM but are curious about it, including me…embraced the book in ways no one ever expected. And these mainstream readers gave FSoG great reviews. I NEVER talk about my own reviews here. But I think I can say this without offending anyone. I had one review for Chase of a Lifetime a few months ago where the author of the review talked about what she hated in my book and what she loved in Fifty Shades of Grey. Being that Chase of a Lifetime and Fifty Shades of Grey are nowhere even close to being identical books…not in any way, shape or form…I found that interesting. There isn’t even BDSM in COAL. In fact, I would not hesitate to say that Fifty Shades of Grey and Chase of a Lifetime are completely different books all the way around.

And yet a reader went out of his/her way to compare my book to FSoG. I’m sorry the reader didn’t like my book. And there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s happened before and it will happen again and I’ll live. But that was one negative review that I did learn from. It gave some good solid information that helped inspire my essay in Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey. I also think the reader may have been tempted to read one of my books because of Fifty Shades of Grey. I can’t be sure about that. But I’ve heard other authors of erotic Romance say this is true.

I think this is important to add. I wrote my essay for Fifty Writers from the POV of being a mainstream reader who knows nothing about BDSM. And even though FSoG inspired me to write a BDSM novel, it did not inspire me to the point where I wanted to write FSoG fanfic. I didn’t like it that much. I’ve also read that most people who bought FSoG and helped make it the blockbuster hit its been, allegedly did not bother to finish it. They have ways of tracking these things now with e-readers, and from what I hear this is based on clinical data. Evidently, only one in ten readers actually finish the book.

I will post more about Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades as we get closer to a release date. I’m curious about what the other forty-nine writers thought about FSoG. From what I’ve been told the essays include opinions and thoughts from writers who did not all share the same opinions.

Judging a Book By Its Cover…

Since I’ve been posting about my experiences with self-publishing, I’ve kept it real and posted about almost everything I can think of.

So I decided to mention this about Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street before it goes live to avoid any possible confusion…which I really don’t think will happen. It’s not the first time an author or a publisher made a change like this and it won’t be the last.

It was a publisher who once told me that people do, indeed, judge books by their covers. And I’ve learned from experience how true that is. Over the years I’ve been happy for the most part with almost every book cover I’ve had. My all time favorite cover to date is Chase of a Lifetime…but that could be because that was my first self-published book and I’m very partial to it. With my other published books I never had the final say or the control. Frankly, I didn’t want it either. I trusted their judgment and moved on to my next work in progress. I didn’t want to worry about covers.

Then I found myself interested in self-publishing and things changed. There were two ways I could have gone with the cover for JSoDS. One was to go more erotic and show a bare-chested guy. The book does have an element of light BDSM and I made that clear in the blurb. The other way I could have gone was to play up the more emotional side of the book, where there’s a kid in a wheel chair struggling to walk again with the help of the two main characters.

So when I sent the cover information to the cover artist I used for John Sweet, I asked her to focus more on the emotional parts in the book than the erotic parts simply because I thought they were more important to the book. And I was happy with the end result and loved the cover she created. I still love that cover.

But since the release of Jonah Sweet I’ve had people e-mail me asking for more details about whether or not there are erotic scenes in this particular book. I don’t mind answering them and I’ve always encouraged this kind of communication. However, I ultimately decided to change the cover of Jonah Sweet to the one you see in this post above. It will go live sometime over the weekend and that’s going to be the final cover for a while. NONE of the CONTENT of this book will be changed at all, not now or ever. When I released that book, like all the other books I’ve released, I was prepared to own my words and stand behind it regardless of what anyone else thinks.

This time I designed and created the cover myself. Though I’d never done anything like this before, I knew what I wanted, I didn’t think anyone would be able to deliver it the same way I could, and I decided to learn how to design book covers myself. I’m not certain how long I’ll be self-publishing or how many covers I’ll design in the future. But it made perfect sense that since I’m doing this commando now, so to speak, it would only make sense to learn how to design e-book covers.

For those thinking about designing their own covers, all the information you need is out there on the web. You just have to google,”How to design an e-book cover,” and tons of web sites and youtube videos will pop up. I wanted something simple this time for Jonah Sweet, with simple print, and with masculine energy.

On Writing BDSM in "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street"…

When I decided to write “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street” and add BDSM as an erotic element to the romance between the two main characters, it wasn’t something I took lightly. In the past four or five years I’ve posted more than once about BDSM novels and that I’d never really done it. One short story, “Bury it Officer,” which was published in an anthology by Cleis Press a few years ago, and then released as a stand alone short story by, was the closest I ever got to the subject. It is about a dominant and a submissive, yet very tame.

But Jonah Sweet was completely new territory for me because it was a full length novel. And I was doing it alone, without a publisher to back me up. I did as much research online as I could, and then I asked a friend more about the interaction between people with regard to BDSM. He has a “playroom” and he’s been into all kinds of BDSM for a long time. He helped a great deal. It wasn’t that he told me what to do to get it right; it was more about what he told me NOT to do to get it right. His most important piece of advice was that BDSM is more about emotion and psychological factors than anything. At least that’s how he experiences it.

At least I had it easy in one respect. With Jonah Sweet I couldn’t get into anything too serious as far as the BDSM went. Jonah is very inexperienced and he’s just learning the basics of BDSM, from the physical details to the psychological elements. All he knows is that he feels the need to be dominated…and to be very submissive. In his case, it’s a natural, instinctive feeling. And David, the dominant character, knows exactly what he’s doing.

The other thing I wanted to do was to separate the BDSM fun and games from what happens in their real lives. In other words, although Jonah wants to be dominated and controlled in sexual situations by David, he does NOT want to be dominated and controlled in real life situations by anyone. And that wasn’t easy to do. David is a control freak beyond all measure. He wants to control Jonah at ALL times. And I didn’t let that happen. I also had to show a vulnerable side to David, so he wouldn’t come off looking like a monster to the readers.

I don’t think there will be a sequel to this book. And one reason is that I would have to do a great deal of intense research to move the BDSM to another level…from an introduction level to Jonah learning more and gaining more experience. And I’m not sure I’m ready to go there, so to speak. The one thing I did learn about BDSM is that there’s nothing simple about it, and yet at the same time it’s the simplest thing to those who are into it.

Here’s a link to a post I found where I think the author made a few excellent points. I didn’t read this post while I was writing JSODS because I didn’t want to be influenced by anyone else (the one thing I read is that BDSM varies with people). I’ve also heard that different authors approach it in different ways. I wanted my approach to come from a POV of inexperience…because I am so inexperienced with BDSM…and I didn’t want to do or say anything in the book that would sound contrived. It’s also a perfect example of an erotic romance where the sex could be toned down, or even removed, and the story would stand on its own.

Free Excerpt from .99 E-book, "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street"

I often like to post free excerpts of books I’ve released that go beyond the excerpts published on retail web sites where e-books are sold. The following is one from “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street.”

The scene takes place during a transitional period in the novel where Jonah and David are getting to know each other better. The last sentence of the excerpt is important because the story is told through Jonah’s POV, and his profession is making and designing puppets.

After the night they made love in David’s playroom, Jonah stopped going back to his mom and dad’s house in Queens to sleep. He did return later that week to pick up a few of his things, like his favorite clothes, a few personal items, and his suitcases filled with puppets. He told his parents he was renting a room at David’s house on Delancey Street and thinking about getting a studio apartment of his own. He didn’t tell them he was in a relationship with David or that they were living together because he still wasn’t certain where he and David were headed in that respect. He loved David with all his heart by then. But some days David made him want to kick everything he came into contact with.

David often sent him mixed signals he couldn’t figure out. And the way David treated other people made Jonah’s stomach tighten and pull. One minute they would be touring one of the restaurants in one of the casinos David owned in Atlantic City and everything would be perfect. The restaurant employees would kill themselves to please David; they bowed and treated him as if he were a king. David would smile and make light comments in approval and everyone took a deep breath of relief. And then David would spot something small, like a smudge of dirt on the floor or a stray crumb of bread on a counter in the kitchen, and he would go berserk. His arms would fly up, his face would turn red, and he would rant about how he wanted perfection at all times. Jonah watched him single people out and bring them to their knees. Someone always paid a price, and it was usually the person closest to him at the time.

On a warm night in June, Jonah watched David fire an assistant chef over a chipped coffee cup without missing a breath. And the chip was so small Jonah could hardly see it. By the time David finished screaming at her she ran for the exit with tears streaming down her face.

On the way home from the Casino that night, Jonah refused to even look at David. When David asked him what was wrong, Jonah lifted his chin and said, “I’ve never seen anyone treat another human being in such a shabby way in my life. I wanted to hit you over the head with a frying pan in that kitchen.”

David punched the door panel, which was usually the way he reacted when he was frustrated with Jonah. “The mug had a chip. My customers spend a lot of money in that casino and I expect perfection. That idiot knew better.”

“Nothing’s perfect, David, least of all you.”

“Neither are you,” David said. “In fact you’re so imperfect I wonder why I have you around.”

David had a way of cutting into Jonah’s heart when Jonah least expected it. But Jonah knew how to fight back. “I never said I was perfect. And if you don’t like it you can just fire me like all the others. I’ll live, trust me. And I won’t run away screaming and crying like that poor woman did today. You can count on that. I’ll look you in the eye, turn around, and I won’t look back once.”

David punched the dashboard. “Maybe I will fire you. You’re the most difficult man I’ve ever met.”

Jonah lowered his tone to what almost resembled a deep growl. “Go head. Do it now. I’ll pull over and just get out of the car right here on the Garden State Parkway. You don’t own me, David. And you’d better get that straight once and for all. I’m not with you for money, cars, or a job. You might own all the other people who work for you, but not me. And don’t you ever forget that.” Although it went against Jonah’s basic nature to react this way, he knew he had to be strong with David. If he let down his guard for a second, he feared David would devour him the same way he devoured everyone else in his life.

“If you’re so unhappy with me and you think I’m such an ogre, why don’t you just leave?”

Jonah softened his voice. He knew when to lighten up with David. “Because I won’t make it that simple for you. I think there’s hope for you, David. I don’t think you’re an ogre. I think you’re a wonderful man and I think you can change. If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t be here.”

“I’m not one of your puppets,” David said. “You can’t mold me and design me into something I’ll never be.”

Release Day: Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street

“Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street” was released late last night…it takes more than twelve hours to upload e-books to Amazon for publication so I’m never really certain the exact time it will be for sale.

This book is different from anything I’ve done before because it gets into light BDSM…nothing too strong…and it’s more serious on many levels. It’s not a parody of anything and the two main characters who meet and fall in love share not only a strong bond but something else they didn’t know about until after they first make love.

Here’s the link. It’s a .99 e-book, and below is all the information from the Amazon product page. For those who don’t “get” file size info with regard to book length (I honestly don’t get “305 KB” and I wish Amazon would speak in English sometimes) the book is a full length novel and contains 58,000 words.

I always like to buy the book myself when it’s released to see what customers are going to get. So far I’ve downloaded it to my iPhone and Nextbook tablet and I’m happy with the results. I will download to Kobo later today, but that’s a more involved process. The photo above was taken with my iPhone of my computer kindle app. For those who don’t know, you don’t need an e-reader to read e-books. Just go to Amazon and download the *free* Kindle app for pc and you can read kindle books on your computer. It’s probably one of the simplest things I’ve ever done, and I’m no tech genius.

Book Description:

In this 60,000 word full length novel, Jonah Sweet has a secret need to be dominated and punished, with whips and chains and leather cuffs. He also has a degree in puppetry from a good university, but can’t find a job and is still with his mom and dad in Queens. So he signs up for cooking school, hoping to learn a trade. But it’s nothing like he thought it would be and he winds up flunking everything from cutlery to hard-boiled eggs. The only other skill Jonah has is the ability to read other people’s thoughts, which he knows isn’t going to get him very far.

On the day of an important cooking exam, Jonah meets David Abernathy, the owner of the cooking school and a billionaire who owns restaurant chains, casinos, and real estate. The harder Jonah tries to impress David the worse it gets. But handsome David Abernathy sees something in Jonah. With no explanation at all, David sets Jonah up in an office, buys him a brand new wardrobe, and brings him into his unusual home on Delancey Street.

Though Jonah is stunned by all this, he’s even more stunned by the fact that he can’t read David Abernathy’s thoughts. But Jonah is in no position to turn any offers down. He takes the job in spite of David’s rude, nasty disposition and his erratic rants. From there they enter into an unusual relationship filled with light bondage and discipline and more love than either one of them could ever have imagined.

When David introduces Jonah to a little boy in a wheel chair and explains his past, Jonah only falls deeper in love with David. He discovers a gentle side of David no one knows about. But will intense love and exotic sex be enough to compensate for David’s complicated personality and his vicious need to control everything? And will Jonah be able to put up with David’s public outbursts and his violent moods?

Product Details
File Size: 305 KB
Publisher: Ryan Field Press (June 13, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Lending: Enabled

Excerpt: "Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street"

I’m now winding down to final edits and I wanted to post an excerpt from “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street” before the book goes live on Amazon next week. I’m not sure of the exact release date. But I’ll post soon about this.


When Jonah went home that night, he started practicing his cutlery skills right after dinner. His mom and dad lived in one of those older row homes in Queens. The house had been built so the front door opened into the living room, the living room led to the dining room, and the door at the back wall in the dining room led to the kitchen. Three years earlier his mom and dad had renovated the entire first floor, making it an open concept floor plan. They’d knocked down the wall between the kitchen and dining room and put in a center island with a gray granite counter top to define the kitchen. Jonah’s mom liked to talk while she was cooking and hated being alone in the kitchen. Jonah’s dad wanted good resale value for when he was ready to move to Florida.

Jonah cleared his mom’s vintage cookie jar collection of elves and gnomes off the center island and started practicing his cutlery skills for an exam he had the next day for a class that was called, The Art of Chopping Yummy Veggies. On the way home from school he’d purchased four large bags of onions and picked up a sharpening stone at a small kitchen supply store. While his mom and dad sat in the living room on brown chenille sofas covered with plastic slipcovers watching a fifty-two inch flat screen TV, he went to work on the sharpening stones with his mom’s old knives. They weren’t the best knives. But he didn’t have a choice and he had to make do with what he had.

About the same time he sliced into his first onion, the doorbell rang and his mom got up to answer it. Before he sliced into the onion again, he glanced across the room to see who was there. He frowned and took a quick breath when he saw it was Stanley Minford. Stanley had been dating him off and on since high school. Jonah had dated a few other guys, but mostly Stanley because there wasn’t anyone else.

Though Jonah had never actually been with a man in a literal sense, he’d come out of the closet to his mom and dad his senior year in high school. Coming out of the closet that young hadn’t been easy. He wouldn’t have done it at all if he hadn’t been terrified about something. He’d gone on a class trip to the mountains to a ski lodge and he’d met a cute guy from another school. He wound up making out with the other guy for hours in the backseat of an empty school bus, which ended in mutual masturbation. He forgot all about it when he went home. But two weeks later he was diagnosed with mononucleosis and he was convinced he’d been infected with HIV because he’d made out with this strange guy. He went into an adolescent panic and confessed everything to his mom and dad because he thought he was dying.

Of course he didn’t get infected with HIV, not from making out with a guy. And all that teenage drama and fuss had been for nothing. It was too late to turn back and deny it all. He learned that once a guy comes out of the closet he’s out for good. There had been screaming and histrionics followed by more than a few tears. But his mom and dad eventually calmed down and accepted his lifestyle with silent resignation. Lately, which raised Jonah’s eyebrows more than once, they’d even started to push Stanley Minford on him. Jonah’s mom thought that if he had to be “a gay” Stanley seemed to be good “gay partner” material.

Jonah had grown up with Stanley and they’d been childhood friends. Before he’d moved to an apartment of his own on the avenue, Stanley had lived four doors down the street. While Jonah had been more introverted growing up and less inclined to show signs he might be gay, Stanley never had any problems skipping down the street with picnic baskets, coloring his hair various shades of blonde, and sitting with the neighborhood women while they talked about knitting or their monthly cramps. Oh, that Stanley Minford could tell you more about a uterus than most women. He even crocheted a blanket for Jonah when he went away to college to study puppetry. Stanley used all the colors of the rainbow for the blanket and referred to it as his “fabulous pride” cover. Jonah kept it hidden in a dark green plastic bag the entire time he lived in the dorms.

And now Stanley was here again and Jonah wasn’t in the mood to deal with him. Before Jonah’s mom closed the front door, Stanley threw his arms in the air, told her how much he loved her new hairdo, and then kissed her on the cheek. He turned to Jonah’s father and smiled. Then he glanced back at the kitchen and lifted his right arm, “Yoohoo,” he said. “I just popped in to say hi and to see if you want to see a movie on Saturday night. There’s something fabulous playing I’ve just been dying to see.”

Jonah felt a pull in his stomach and his heart started beating faster. Stanley was wearing a purple sweater vest, a pink shirt, and tight low-rise jeans with a white belt. Jonah noticed his hair was a lighter shade of blond since the last time he’d seen him. And he wore so much eye-liner that night Jonah saw it all the way back in the kitchen. He shrugged and said, “I have to work on my knife skills for the rest of the week. If I don’t, I might not pass.” His voice remained low and even; he kept his head down.

Jonah’s dad looked up at the ceiling and rolled his eyes. His mom lowered her head and shook it slowly. Jonah read their minds, which was something he didn’t do often. He’d learned it was often wiser not to know what his mom and dad were thinking. He was right, too. They weren’t reacting to Stanley’s flamboyant behavior like most people would have, and they were reacting to the shabby way Jonah treated Stanley. And Jonah knew they were right.