the littlest christmas tree

KDP Exclusives; Ricky Martin’s Wedding; Story Competition

KDP Exclusives

I wrote in the post right before this one that I have a Christmas novella, The Littlest Christmas Tree, up for free as a thank you to readers. Unfortunately, on Amazon the book will still be .99 because Amazon doesn’t give any other options with the KDP lending program. In other words, if I were to opt into the KDP lending program and I were to put the book up for free it would only be free for five days on Amazon, I would have to sign a three month exclusive with Amazon, and I wouldn’t be allowed to put the book up for free anywhere else for three months. If I were to violate this I would be in breach of contract. So I opted out of the KDP lending program this time because I want the book up for free for the holidays in as many venues as possible for as long and I as the publisher and author want to do this, and I don’t want to wait three months. The KDP lending program can be beneficial to everyone sometimes, but not always. This is one of those times I wish things were different, but it is what it is.

Amazon link here.

Side note: This is why I try to guide readers to smaller web sites where e-books are sold, and to publisher web sites.

As a big thank you to Amazon and KDP lending rules and exclusives (I HATE exclusives of any kind), I’ve asked Tony to also put another one of my previous Christmas novels up for free as well. I’ll post more details when I get them.

Story Competition

I read about a short story competition earlier today that will benefit people with autism. I like these competitions because they motivate writers to do things they normally wouldn’t do unless they were under contract with a publisher. Sometimes we need something as a motivational tool. This is a good example. You can read more here.

This Short Story competition is an amazing opportunity for new undiscovered writing talent to pursue their dreams of publication and contribute to a great cause.

All entrants will have their work judged by the internationally acclaimed authors Colin Bateman, Declan Burke, Lucille Redmond and Nathan Bransford

 Ricky Martin’s Wedding

I have to smile when I read articles like this because they refer to Ricky Martin’s longtime partner, Carlos Gonzalez, as his “beau”…as if Martin and Gonzalez have been dating all this time. It’s the hetero norm most straights don’t get about gay couples, especially now that gay marriage is becoming legal in more places. Look at it this way, if Tony and I were to say we’ve been engaged for twenty-one years wouldn’t that sound a little stupid? Tony’s not my “beau” and I’m not his. Our “beau” days ended during the Clinton administration. And until things balance out and gay dating and engagements even up with straight couples I think words should be chosen with care.

So Martin is not marrying his longtime “beau.” He’s marrying his longtime partner to make an established relationship/marriage legal because he didn’t have an opportunity to do that before.

This is where Ricky Martin would like to get married.

“I would get married,” he told King, according to Pink News. “There are many countries around the world where same-sex marriage is a right… yes, we could go to Spain and get married. We can go to Argentina and get married. But why do we have to go somewhere else? Why can’t I do it in my country where the laws are — you know, protecting me?”
 
Martin and Gonzalez, like Tony and me, can’t marry in the place where we live because Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania don’t recognize same sex marriage. That’s why we’re scheduled to get married this January in Vermont…not in Pennsylvania.
 
Side note two: The comment section in this article has something interesting I’ve never seen before. Evidently, Huff Po is trying to promote more civil discussion. In order to do this you have to link to a facebook account and verify. I wonder how many Huff Po users have FB accounts. Frankly, I’d never bother because I don’t like to mingle FB and Huff Po. This is what it says:
 

Free:Littlest Christmas Tree; Gay New Hope; Tranny Word

Date Drug New Hope

Tony pointed this one out to me early this morning. Evidently, there was a date drugger at a gay bar in New Hope, PA (where I live) and security cameras captured his image in what looks to me like a gay bar on the outskirts of town called, The Raven. (Been there many times.) There was also an alleged credit card/identity theft fraud incident. According to this article, both victim and suspect went back to the victim’s residence…where they were “socializing.”

“Drugged Acquaintance Date – Theft & Credit Card Fraud

“An adult male victim met the pictured male suspect at a known gay bar at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, 11-22-2013. Victim invited the suspect to his residence to continue socializing. When victim uses the bathroom, the suspect “freshens” the victim’s alcoholic beverage, whereupon the victim loses consciousness for approx. 5 hours. Victim awaken nauseous to find the suspect has stolen his wallet, $150 USC, assorted credit cards, and 2 out of sequence blank bank checks.

I love the way they call it “socializing.” So proper and neat (smile).

You can read more here.

Free: The Littlest Christmas Tree

My holiday novella, The Littlest Christmas Tree, is now up for free at the following venues. I don’t have all the links, but I’ll update as they come in.

Here’s a link to the blurb, and a short excerpt. The novella is 21,000 words in length.

I’m doing this as a little holiday present for readers who always remain faithful all year long. This is the second book in the Second Chance series and I’ll be putting future titles in the series up throughout 2014 for .99.

On Smashwords.

Update: On Allromanceebooks.com

At Rainbow Book Reviews: Link

Update #2…The book will be up on Amazon for .99. I wish I could have done this for free, but Amazon will not allow this unless I sign an exclusive for three months and then the book will only be up for free on Amazon for five days, and I can’t put it up for free anywhere else without breach of contract with Amazon. Here’s the Amazon link. Why am I disclosing this? I think readers should know.

Tranny Word

When I spotted this article I was prepared to take a completely different approach to it. But after I read it I couldn’t ignore this even if I tried. It’s an interview with a Brooklyn drag performer, Babes Trust, and one of the most interesting things in the interview I read is how Trust thinks of the word “Tranny.”

This is the question about Tranny as a word:

Some transgender people are critical of drag performers using the word “tranny.” What are your thoughts about it?

Here’s how Babes Trust answered:

I have issues around this wider idea of community; such as the gay “community,” the trans “community” — we are not a generalized generic community or binary. Although we share some basic values, we are many different communities with varying values, speech, meanings, codes and languages.

Tranny means different things to different people. Do I know some people who feel more comfortable with explaining their gender and sexuality as “tranny”? Yes. Its that okay?

By one “community” effectively silencing and oppressing another to “not say” certain words or be so untrusting of people that you believe that everything comes from a place of violence, is sad.

If someone identifies as “tranny,” the people who attack the term as offensive are oppressing the people who have a valid claim over the term.

I agree with Trust, and I find people like that not only oppressive, but bullies.

The reason I find this so interesting is that I once came across a comment thread on romance book review web site best known for its incivility where someone went berserk in a politically correct rampage about how offensive the word “Tranny” is, and frankly I didn’t get that at the time and I still don’t get it now. In full disclosure, ever since then I’ve been terrified to use the word myself for fear of being politically incorrect…or offending someone without realizing it.

However, the word “Tranny” is one I’ve heard all my life in certain LGBT circles, and I’ve never heard it used in a derogatory way. So my point with this is I think Babes Trust makes a highly valid point in being so candid, and those who think they know it all about gay culture don’t even get the tip of what gay culture is really all about. And the only thing that really offends me most as a gay man is when people who aren’t gay start telling me how to be gay.

You can read more of the interview here. Babes Trust is no one’s fool, and it’s been a long time since I’ve read such sharp, intelligent answers. It also shows how Brooklyn is up and coming as its own hot spot.

Cover: The Littlest Christmas Tree; James Franco BDSM Gay Film

Cover: The Littlest Christmas Tree

Here’s the cover preview for my Christmas novella, The Littlest Christmas Tree. It’s 21,000 words, it will be available in digital only, and I’ll be putting it up for FREE early next week for the holiday season. Blurb is below. It’s the second book in the Second Chance series. I’m keeping this as a running series for a while, too.

In this bonus novella from the “Second Chance” series titled, The Littlest Christmas Tree, an unhappy man trapped in a relationship so bad he isn’t even allowed a small Christmas tree is granted a second chance to go back in time and rethink the most pivotal choice he ever made. In doing this, he becomes one of the lucky few who can alter the outcome of his entire life.

But there’s a catch. Although he’s offered the chance to return to his college days and make a different choice, when he actually does go back he’s not consciously aware of this and there are no guarantees he won’t make the same bad choice twice. Will he choose a stable life with a handsome, aggressive young law student? Or will he choose the scruffy young theater student who drives a motorcycle and works in an auto body shop?

   

James Franco BDSM Gay Film

James Franco and Travis Mathews have a short feature out called, Interior. Leather Bar. But I’d like to set this up first. In 1980 there was a film titled, Cruising, with Al Pacino portraying a NY cop doing what I think was under cover work in gay leather bars. I have seen the film and read the book, which had the same title. I read the book around the same time I read Dancer from the Dance and The Front Runner. At the time, there weren’t that many reading choices for gay men. And these three books stand out more than any others for me. What’s interesting about what Franco did is that he tried to recapture (not recreate) scenes that had been cut from the original version of Cruising (so that they could avoid an X rating at the time) and he re-imagined those scenes in his short feature, Interior. Leather Bar.

Their new short feature, Interior. Leather Bar doesn’t recreate Cruising but is a mix between their take on that lost footage and a documentary-style, partly scripted, partly real, behind-the-scenes look at how they made it.

Here Mathews shares the joys of difficulties of getting actors to have ‘real’ gay sex on screen and his reasons for taking on a subject many would rather he left alone.

Make no mistake, this isn’t M/M romance or anything M/M related. This brand of gay fiction brings me back to my roots as a gay author and it’s about as real as things got back then. When Cruising was written (and filmed) times were very different and gay culture was an underground sub-culture, in raw form. The only way to meet other gay men, and to interact with other gay men on any social level, was to go to bars and clubs that featured everything from country-western to BDSM. Or, in state parks and public rest areas. Or course there were ads in the Village Voice, but you had to be very brave to answer them.

There’s an interesting interview about how Franco and Mathews handled the gay sex scenes. You can read more here. You can view a clip of ILB here. IMDb mentions it here. In the UK you can check out where to order it here. The only place I could find that’s selling it now in the US on DVD is here. I sent a few e-mails out asking for more info on that. We’ll see what comes back. I’m dying to see it. Update: According to facebook update it will be available in the US in March. FB link.

Here’s the basic plot from the book, Cruising.

The novel is about an undercover cop looking for a homosexual killer in the world of sadomasochism leather gay bars in Greenwich Village, New York. While undercover, he begins to gain feelings for his gay neighbor at the same time he is in a relationship. He ends up cheating on his girlfriend.

This isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey BDSM either. This is the real thing, not “Mommy Porn.” I highly recommend reading this book, as well as Dancer from the Dance.


Hunky Priest Calendar; Trevor Donovan Film; FREE Gay Excerpt: The Littlest Christmas Tree

Hunky Priest Calendar

If you think there’s a stereotypical “look” all Catholic priests have, think again. In keeping up with what seems to be this year’s overdone, hit-me-over-the-head-with-a-hammer theme revolving around nude men and calendars, a cheesy Venice based photographer has created yet another splendid gem of “art” objectifying some of the best looking Catholic priests you’ll ever see. My comments on this, below.

The images were taken during Holy Week. The photographer said this:

“I meet most of them on the streets in Rome and ask to take their photos,” Pazzi told The Local. Though the priests did not provide the photographer with their names, “most are happy to be photographed after I tell them the reason for the calendar… Yes, the men are good-looking, but it is just a product, a way for people to be better informed about the Vatican.”
 
The photographer also seems to have found a niche doing calendars like this. It’s. His. Thing. I think he did one with Romanian Orthodox priests.
 
Unlike other calendars objectifying men this holiday season, I didn’t read anywhere in the article that the proceeds of this one are going to charity. From what I gather, according to this article (and I’m not searching any deeper on this topic, thank you), the goal is to help people become informed about the Vatican, which frankly sounds like a lame excuse to me to exploit and objectify priests by a cheesy little photographer/creep with an agenda. It mentions nothing about whether or not the priests who posed for the photos were given full disclosure, or anything about whether or not the photographer asked them to sign a waver…or if this is even required. All I know is I wouldn’t have done it.
 
As I said, I don’t think the proceeds are going to charity, I’m not sure the priests who posed understood how they were being exploited, and I personally haven’t used a paper calendar in over five years. So I won’t be sending away for one. But the one thing that stupid things like this do is break some of the stereotypical images we have of priests. I just wish it had been done with a more subtle theme and less stupid commentary by Huff Po. I don’t usually rant on Friday, but someone should say these things once in a while. The photographer’s an asshat. The calendar is asshatery. He should be informed of this by someone.   
 
You can read more here. I’ll admit the calendars are tasteful, but the concept leaves a great deal to be desired.  
 

Trevor Donovan Film

I try to post things on Friday I think readers will like, and this is something I’ve set my own DVR to on Saturday night. I’m talking about a made for TV film, A Snow Globe Christmas, with Trevor Donovan. There are other actors you’re familiar with, but I think my readers are more interested in Donovan than anyone else. Here’s the blurb:

While clasping her favorite Christmas snow globe, a cynical, overworked TV executive rants about how the movies she produces lie, making you think dreams come can come true. Upset, she tries to smash the globe, but instead it bonks her on the head, knocking her out. She wakes up in a perfect snow-covered town like the one in her globe. Here she is married to a handsome woodworker, and is the mother to two young kids. Everyone believes she’s suffered memory loss from the concussion when she claims to not know where she is. But with the help of her snow globe family and her charming, yet enigmatic guardian angel, she begins to accept that this dream life may actually be real. But as her cynical, big city instincts begin to influence the town in a bad way, she has to decide if she really belongs this perfect snow globe life.

You can read more here, and I think there’s a clip. The film airs this Saturday at 10, 9 central on the liftetime channel.

FREE Gay Excerpt: The Littlest Christmas Tree


Right now, and for the rest of the weekend, I’m working on copy edits I just got back from the copy editor for an indie bonus novella I’m releasing early next week in the “Second Chance” series. This is a Christmas story titled, The Littlest Christmas Tree, and I’ll be putting it up for FREE next week until January 2. It’s a Christmas gift to readers for all the wonderful things they do all year. I never take that for granted.

Here’s an excerpt, in raw (not edited completely) form, and I’ll post more when it’s released next week. I’m still waiting for the cover art, which I’ll probably post over the weekend sometime. And again, this one is FREE until January 2.

“I was thinking it might be nice to put up a small Christmas tree this year,” Jeremy said. “Nothing too big; just something little with those old fashioned multi-colored lights that seem to be popular again. I’ve been seeing them all over and I kind of like them.” He was standing at the sink loading the new stainless steel high-end dishwasher in their recently renovated kitchen with imported soap stone countertops and eight burner stovetop with a name that began with an M he couldn’t pronounce. He didn’t look up once at his partner of fifteen years while he said this, and he made sure he chose his words with care and spoke in a soft, carefree tone.

Jeremy’s partner, Will Randal, stood at the opposite end of the stark modern kitchen preparing his second pitcher of martinis since he’d come home from work. He spoke with deeper tone and a sarcastic slur. “You know how I feel about that. I don’t even like the word Christmas. It contains too many religious associations. Besides, where would we put it? You know how I feel about campy, kitschy things messing up the look.” He preferred “unambiguous minimalism,” to the point where Jeremy wasn’t even allowed to keep a toaster on the kitchen counter because Will thought it would look low-rent.

Jeremy set the last square white dinner plate from Williams Sonoma in the dishwasher and rolled his eyes. He knew this wouldn’t be easy. As he closed the dishwasher door and reached for the instruction booklet to figure out how to turn it on, he said, “I’m only talking about a small tree. I can put it in the front hall and I’ll keep it tasteful and monochromatic.” He knew how much Will loved a monochromatic look. Their entire multi-level contemporary Connecticut home had been painfully designed in several shades of beige, a monochromatic exaggeration to the point where a ripe tomato resembled a big red pimple on their kitchen table.

“I don’t think so,” Will said, as he filled his Baccarat martini glass for the fourth time. “I don’t want people getting the wrong impression about us next week at the party. You know how important these things are to my career.” He was talking about their annual “holiday” cocktail party where they served foods like imported caviar and smoked salmon on handmade potato chips that had been deep fried in imported oil prepared by a French gourmet caterer whose name Jeremy couldn’t pronounce either. The guest list included people from Will’s law firm, Will’s most important clients, and a few neighbors they rarely saw more than once or twice a year. Will didn’t invite all the neighbors, only the people who drove the most expensive cars.

“I can wait until after the party to put the Christmas tree up,” Jeremy said. “That’s not a problem.” He’d not only learned to compromise, but to concede.

Will brought a martini to Jeremy and set it on one of the new flour sack dish towels he’d found in the city. He never put a glass of anything down on the counter or furniture without a coaster or something to guard against rings. “I’d rather pass on the tree. It’s just not my thing. Once you start doing things like that you cross a line and everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve starts to crumble. You wind up with a slipping down life. Besides, I’m an atheist and I don’t even believe in Christmas. It would be both politically incorrect and hypocritical for me to even think about having a Christmas tree in my home. Let’s just stick with the new crystal wreath on the front door this year. It’s far more tasteful anyway.”

In the past fifteen years, Jeremy had always backed down and agreed with Will during these discussions. He’d always bowed his head and Will always walked away with a winning smile. This was partly because Jeremy was a second grade school teacher and only made a fraction of what Will made yearly as an attorney, and partly because Will had always been stronger and more forceful in a way that made Jeremy feel it wasn’t even worth arguing a point to the finish. Jeremy never added a vase or a candle stick holder to their home without getting Will’s approval first. He’d once ordered sheets for the master bedroom with small sage green vines so small he could hardly see them and Will made him return them before he’d even taken them out of the package. Will wouldn’t sleep on anything but white Egyptian cotton sheets. He claimed Jeremy’s new sheets reminded him of something his mother would have used. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened, and Jeremy knew it wouldn’t be the last. So instead of arguing with Will he returned the sheets and let it go because that was the easiest thing to do.

But lately Jeremy had been losing sleep thinking about his life and where it was going. He would listen to Will snore softly, flat on his back on his white sheets, without a care in the world, and wonder why he couldn’t fall asleep the same way. Jeremy knew he would lay awake that night thinking about this Christmas tree discussion for hours, and then he would think about the twenty-three year old male legal assistant he knew Will had been sleeping with behind his back. Jeremy would grind his teeth and work himself into a state of frustration to the point where he wouldn’t sleep at all. So he reached for the martini, swallowed the entire contents in a few quick gulps, and took a deep breath as the alcohol burned his throat.

A moment later, Jeremy said, “I don’t agree.” He sent Will a glance at the other side of the room and squared his back. The entire first floor of the four thousand square foot house was a vast open concept affair with one full wall of glass in back overlooking Will’s six figure swimming pool. Will was lowering electrically controlled shades and his back was facing Jeremy.

Without taking his eyes off the remote for the shades, Will said, “What don’t you agree with?” He’d clearly already moved on from the Christmas tree discussion.

“I don’t agree the crystal wreath is tasteful,” Jeremy said. “I think it’s stupid and awkward.” He didn’t shout or show any emotion. He’d learned that trick from Will years ago. It was one of the tactics Will had learned as an attorney, which he often used in everyday life to manipulate people to get what he wanted.

For a moment, Will hesitated without saying a word. He kept his strong back to Jeremy and didn’t move a muscle. At forty years old, Will still had the body of a twenty-five year old and it was easy to see how the young legal assistant in Will’s office would be physically attracted to him. Will trained at the best gym in town five times a week and rarely ever ate carbohydrates anymore. His only source of carbohydrate seemed to come from imported Russian vodka. On the other hand, it was just as easy to see how a twenty-five year old legal assistant would be attracted to a forty year old with money, too.

When Will finally did turn to face Jeremy, he glared at him for a second, and then smiled with the same precocious expression he used in a courtroom. “That wreath was a gift and it’s very rare. The person who bought it for us took a lot of time and trouble to find it, not to mention the cost. You should be more appreciative of the things you have.”

Photo attribution: ME