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.


Interview with TV Star/LGBT Author Jeffery Self

As I posted last week, TV star, Jeffery Self, has a new LGBT book out and he was kind enough to grant me an interview. I wanted the interview questions to put him at ease, and at the same time get to know more about him as a writer, an actor, and man.

He not only sent the answers to the questions back in record time, I think he did a great job providing more insight into who he is and what he’s all about. As a side note, it was a lot of fun for me because I have been a fan of his for a long time, especially his TV show on Logo, Jeffery & Cole Casserole. When I used to watch it I never thought I’d be interviewing him about a book.

Here’s a link to his new book, “50 Shades of Gay,” on Amazon. And here’s one for the publisher’s web site. The book is out in both digital format and in paperback. The Amazon link will lead you to both.  This is a link to his facebook page where you can follow his updates.

1. I love your online bios because they make you sound like so much fun, but what can you tell me about yourself that’s not listed in any bio out there?

Well, first of all I am NOT all that  much fun. I’m actually a handful. However, I guess the main thing my bio leaves out is that I am OBSESSED with wigs and made for TV movies.

2. You’ve accomplished a lot of things so far for someone so young, how did you get into writing fiction?

I had the idea for “Fifty Shades Of Gay” and decided to just try and write it. I don’t come from the world of fiction writing so I just decided to write the book in my own weird voice and see if I could actually finish it. Turns out- I DID!

3. If you had to tell me what your book is about in one or two sentences, what would you say?

The sexy and secretive world of Hollywood.

4. The writing process is different for every writer. Some work fast. Others take their time. Some work late at night. Others work in the early morning. What’s it like for you? Or do you even have a schedule?

I try to have a schedule but I never seem to stick to that. I usually get most of my writing done in the daytime because my boyfriend has a normal person schedule and I like being done with my work at night so we can watch “The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills” or “Nashville” together and binge eat.

I usually write a few pages, stop and look at Facebook, write a few more, Facebook again, rinse and repeat until I exhaust myself or get hungry.

5. What inspired you to write a novel like this?

I had been hearing so much about the original “Fifty Shades Of Grey” from so many different people… and I thought… if a book appeals to both MY MOM and drag queens on the Internet then this must be something I’d enjoy.

While reading it, I realized it’s basically just a campy, contemporary version of what Jaqueline Susann did so brilliantly in the seventies. Which is a trashy but glamorous and exciting story that takes readers just enough out of their comfort zones but with characters they can
identify with. So with my book I wanted to capture that campy, celebrity obsessed Jaqueline Susann tone and mix it in with the original tone of “Fifty Shades Of Grey”.

6. I noticed in a few things I read about you online you’re kind of/sort of a pop culture junky with respect to TV shows like “Designing Women.” I’m a huge fan of that show and I agree that Carlene just never could compare to Charlene 🙂 And no one could ever replace Suzanne. If you could identify
with one character on that show, which would it be?

I reckon Delta Burke (Suzanne) just because she’s on the surface a little showy but underneath a neurotic and slightly annoying mess.

7. What other pop culture has influenced or inspired you as an actor or a writer?

I love sitcoms like Roseanne. I also love the writing of playwright and screenwriter Paul Rudnick. He is one of the first writers who’s writing really made me go… “Oh. I want to do that.” I also have a lot of super talented friends who influence and inspire what I do…folks like Cole Escola, Drew Droege, Erin Markey, Bryan Safi, Max Steele, Ben Rimalower, Jim Hansen, Julie Klausner, Rachel Shukert, and Billy Eichner.

8. Could you list a few of the TV shows you’ve appeared in?

Hot in Cleveland, 90210, Shameless, Torchwood, 30 Rock, Desperate Housewives.

9. As a writer, I’m always curious about how other artists in other fields work. You’ve done both writing and acting. How does one differ from the other…or do they differ?

They’re totally different. Writing is obviously a lot harder than acting, while I think acting is stupidly easy. Mind you, I’m not a “real actor” in that I’ve never really done anything but play myself or version of myself in the character of a sassy gay sidekick but I think that acting is without a doubt the easiest job on earth.

I think the big difference is that writing requires every single facet of your brain to show up, while acting you really only need like fifty percent. That said, I am more referring to what is it I DO as opposed to someone who’s a real actor like Meryl Streep or the little girl on “Modern Family”.

10. There’s a lot of talk these days about how publishing is changing and how authors have to work harder to promote their books. I always find it difficult to talk about myself, and yet if I don’t promote the book suffers. How are you going about the promotion of this book?

I am trying to do my part to get the book directly to people that I know will enjoy it. For me, that’s been getting friends in subcultures like gay porn and erotic fiction and Hollywood gossip to say to their fanbases: hey, this book is something you might enjoy.

I don’t know the publishing world BEFORE it’s change to what it is now so for me, it feels moderately natural to have to pound the digital pavement.

11. Is this recently released book going to be a series? Can we expect more to follow?

Maybe so! I have an idea for a sequel I’ve been playing around with.

12. I was actually a huge fan of Jeffery & Cole Casserole, especially because it was filmed on webcam. I used to look for it all the time on Logo. What plans, if any, do you have in the making for future shows…or TV appearances?

Cole and I wrote a movie a while back that is sort of a “Jeffery and Cole Casserole” type adventure. In a dream scenario, we’d be able to make that sometime in the near future. As far as tv stuff goes… I’ve written some pilots this year that I’m proud of, so we’ll see if anything ever happens with those and I’m in a made for tv movie on MTV coming up in April called “Made: Ladies Man”. I play neither the lady nor man.

13. I hate to ask anything too personal, but you are interesting, extremely good-looking, and people do like to hear more personal things sometimes. Is there anything you’d like to share in that respect?

My boyfriend and I have been together for a few years now and we just got a puppy named Bodhi who is the cutest thing on planet earth.

14. I’ve always been fascinated by closeted gay actors in Hollywood, which is what I saw mentioned in your book description that caught my eye so to speak. Is there anything in your new book that’s based on real life?

I’ve been around a lot of closeted actors in LA and in New York. It’s such a weird thing for me to witness because I’m SO disconnected from any sort of mindset that says you can’t be out. I honestly don’t know what that would feel like. However, there IS something very sexy about
the idea that this public persona who advertises himself as straight is secretly doing guys. I’ve witnessed some of this first hand and while I am not naming names, we all know Hollywood is FULL of them.

15. You and other actors like Matt Bomer are putting yourselves out there, as openly gay, and you’re creating role models for younger gay men who need these role models. Do you have an opinion on closeted gay actors? And, does being openly gay create obstacles?

Its tricky because people should be allowed their private lives, however I think if you’re putting yourself out there as a public figure then you should put yourself out there entirely. Not just some version of yourself that your agents at CAA think will make them more money.

I think that openly gay actors in Hollywood DO have a harder time. I happen to play quirky gay characters so it’s somewhat easier for me but I do have friends who are going after leading man roles that are perfect for the industry except that studios and networks are too scared to take the risk on someone who happens to be gay.

The same goes for writers to some degree… Hollywood still has a lot of hyper masculine people at the helm and while I think that’s rapidly changing… it’s an annoying and old fashioned road block for so many talented people.

16. Was there anything interesting or unusual about writing this book that you’d like to share?

It was my first time writing anything sexy so it was all sorts of bizarre to sit in my local coffee shop and describe the feeling of a dick in your ass.

17. Do you have any book signings planned? Feel free to share.

Not at this time!


18. I know this might sound like a dumb question to ask a writer, but I have to ask anyway. I’ve seen a lot of photos of you online and almost each one seems markedly different from the others. You always look great, but you  always look different, too. Is this something you plan, or does it just work out that way by accident?

Sort of by accident and sort of by choice. I am constantly getting tired of the way I look or dress and deciding to do a “appearance overhaul.”

19. What would Suzanne Sugarbaker say if she read your new book?

I think Suzanne would be pretty turned on by my book. She’d read it with her blinds shut and door locked but she’d definitely read the whole thing.

20. Now, what would Bernice Clifton say?

Could Bernice read?

New Publisher: Riverdale Ave Books; Gay Cabaret Singer Michael Ferreri

In this ever-changing world of publishing there’s now a new publisher in New York that will be publishing LGBT books among other things, Riverdaleavebooks.com. You can get there from here, and here’s part of the who, what, where, and why…from their home page.

Riverdale Avenue Books (RAB) is at the leading edge of the changes in the publishing industry. We publish ebooks and audio books monthly under five imprints: Riverdale Pop, pop culture titles; Riverdale/Magnus Books, a joint venture with award-winning publisher Magnus Books, LGBT titles; Riverdale HSF, a horror, science fiction and fantasy line; Riverdale Truth, an erotic memoir line; and Riverdale Desire, an erotica and erotic romance imprint.

The owners are Don Weise and Lori Perkins. I’ve worked with both before and I’ve only had excellent experiences with them. Don is the former Publisher of Alyson Books, an LGBT publisher I worked with many times in the past. In fact, Alsyon was one of THE first LGBT publishers ever. He’s also worked as Senior Editor for Carroll & Graff and Cleis Press. I haven’t worked with C&G, but I have worked with, and I’m part of a new book coming out soon, with Cleis Press. Cleis is another of the first in LGBT publishing to pave the way for many LGBT authors when no one else was giving them a chance.

I’ve also worked closely with Lori Perkins as an editor. Although she’s a literary agent, my only working experiences with her have been author/publisher related. Those experiences have been excellent. Not one complaint. As an editor, Lori has a way of challenging authors and getting them to do things they normally might never have done.

An imprint of Riverdale is also going to be associated with this monthly event, below. I’m going to make a point of going to one of these myself very soon.While I’m not fond of doing book readings because of the nature of what I write, I love going to them. Especially in those little out of the way places in Manhattan.

Between the Covers is our branded erotica and erotic romance reading series held in the legendary East Village nightclub, Happy Endings, 302 Broome St, 8-10 p.m. the first Friday of every month. If you will be in NYC at the time we are holding a reading event, we would love to feature you. The reading series is open to all authors of erotica and erotic romance at all publishers. Please contact us at BetweenTheCovers@RiverdaleAveBooks.com. If you or your publisher would like to sponsor an evening, please contact Lori@RiverdaleAveBooks.com.

I think Riverdale looks like an exciting new venture. And most of all, I like the fact that the owners are experienced publishing professionals. I’m planning something new and exciting of my own in the coming year. It’s not as ambitious as Riverdale, but I’m taking my twenty years experience as an author and editor and putting it to work in a very different capacity than what I’ve done in the past. I’m still working on all the details, but I’ll talk about it very soon. I can say this: I’m more focused on quality and helping new authors get into e-publishing than anything else.

As for the Riverdale web site. It seems to be one of the cleaner, easier web sites around. I didn’t have any issues navigating to get information. And whoever designed it did a great job. I’ve also read and reviewed the first book up on the web site, Deeply Superficial, and I loved it. That book is what gay non-fiction should be all about. So based on that book, I hope to see more quality books coming from Riverdale. The one thing I didn’t see was m/m romance as a sub-genre. I saw LGBT fiction, but no m/m romance. I’m not anti-m/m romance, not by any means. I write it and I’m not one of those who talks against it. But I do think the market is saturated at this point. And I think for gay authors to survive…and be considered relevant…they are going to have to take different roads in the future. The former “Chick Lit” genre is a good example of what I’m talking about. I like that Riverdale seems to be offering gay authors something new, and there don’t seem to be any strings attached.

And now for Michael Ferreri, Gay Cabaret Singer:

I know I’ve posted before about how I’m not fond of show tunes, and I don’t always run to see cabaret shows. But this past weekend I went to a Christmas Party about three miles from my home, and the hosts hired LGBT entertainer, Michael Ferreri. I’d only heard his act in passing before this past weekend. And even I have to admit that when I had a chance to really sit down and listen to him, I was amazed at how much I enjoyed him. It’s like this new world opened up for me. It’s not the kind of cabaret you normally hear. There’s something different about it that’s hard to put into words. He’s not hokey or trite like so many others. I found Michael to be more cool New Orleans jazz mixed with cabaret…from the music he plays to the way he plays it. He’s also adorable and just as nice offstage as he is onstage. After his set, he came upstairs and sat down in the living room and spoke with a few of the remaining guests. Just the sweetest guy I’ve ever met! And he gave me a whole new outlook on cabaret.

You can check out his web site here, where I think you can order CDs (I recommend them without concern) and you can see more photos of him. I’ve posted his bio below. And he’s also on facebook.

Pianist/singer Michael Ferreri is a musician and entertainer of exceptional talent whose outstanding musicality and seemingly endless repertoire have made him a consistently popular and working performer in cabarets, clubs and concert dates. His talents have also garnered him a devoted fan base in New York, in London, and across the United States.

His debut CD, Michael Ferreri: Sweet Dreams is an ethereal collection of songs that tell a story–songs perfectly suited to Michael’s intimate phrasing and musicianship. The CD contains 12 cuts showcasing his engaging and highly personal style of performing, including “Move On,” by Stephen Sondheim; “Sweet Dreams” and “A Dream” by John Bucchino; and “Lullabye” by Billy Joel.

Michael has appeared in concert and in galas with such celebrated performers as Michael Feinstein, Andrea McArdle, Beth Fowler and Greg Edelman. Other concerts include a “Tribute to Sondheim” at Primary Stages and a benefit concert version of “Into the Woods” chaired by Stephen Sondheim. He has performed in the Musicals Unlimited revival of Pipe Dream and the acclaimed Lincoln Center production of The Happy End, produced by the Kurt Weill Foundation. Michael has also been given the unique honor of performing at an intimate New York reception for HRH Prince Philip of England.

His solo cabaret engagements have been enthusiastically received, including a sold-out cabaret show with Meg Flather at one of New York’s cabaret epicenters, Don’t Tell Mama. His engaging playing and ability to establish immediate rapport with his audience have made him one of the most popular musicians at such New York landmarks as One if by Land, Two if by Sea and Tavern on the Green and at the clubs Eighty-Eights and The Townhouse.

A New York resident since 1986, Michael is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

The photo above of Michael is from my own collection, and if you’d like to share it feel free. I’m not that grand that I’m going to sue anyone for sharing anything I took with an iPhone. And I swear, I won’t call you a “sook” or a plagiarist…SMILE.