February 28, 2013

Paul Alan Fahey on Your Mother Should Know

Guest post by Paul Alan Fahey

Your Mother Should Know is intended to be part of a trilogy that includes my two previous semi-autobiographical novellas: Boys Will Be Boys and When the Right One Comes Along.

The main character in the trilogy, Philip Noland, shares many of my own personality quirks, obsessions and experiences from the early 1950's through the early decades of the AIDS epidemic and up to the present time. If one had to fit Your Mother Should Know into a timeline with the other two books, it would slide quite nicely into the first act of When the Right One Comes Along, before Philip meets his true soul mate and eventually settles down in a relationship.

The Facts
In the early 1990's, I accompanied my ailing mother to Los Angeles and to The Norris Cancer Center at USC for six months of experimental chemotherapy. Mother had been ill for several years, off and on, and when her oncologist offered her the opportunity that would hopefully buy her more time, we both jumped at the chance. Mother and I were in L.A. the weekend of the Rodney King riots-late April, early May as I remember. The hospital was located near the center of the chaos. Television coverage of the looting and violence was nonstop and the major topic of conversation at the hospital.

The Story
Is Your Mother Should Know a true story? Yes and no. True is nice but it doesn't necessarily make for a thrilling and compelling read. Often writers have to fictionalize events and imagine characters to enrich a story, add excitement and keep the reader reading. So in structuring the plot and characters, I did the same.

The Idea
The story idea came to me some years after my mother passed away and began with the following WHAT IF: What if an elderly mother and her middle-aged gay son took a wrong turn on an L.A. freeway and ended up in the middle of the Rodney King riots? How would he shepherd his ailing mother through the madness raging around them? Who would they meet? Who would be helpful and what roadblocks would occur along the way to provide obstacles in their path?

In writing Your Mother Should Know, my main concern was to be truthful to the emotions of the time and to the relationship I shared with a woman who raised me alone at a time when it wasn't socially acceptable to be a single mother. When things got rough, she'd help me forget the unpaid bills in a darkened movie theater or use laughter as an escape valve. "There's always something funny in every tragedy, honey," she'd say. And you know I haven't proved her wrong yet.

I hope you enjoy Your Mother Should Know.

Paul Alan Fahey

Your Mother Should Know by Paul Alan Fahey

Your Mother Should Know by Paul Alan Fahey is now available in e-book format!

Philip feels in control of his life -- at least until his best friend, Jonathan, contracts AIDS, passes away, and leaves him feeling disconnected and uncertain about the future. Then the one steady influence in his life, his mother, becomes seriously ill. The doctor who makes the diagnosis of ovarian cancer is not hopeful. Once his mother commits to the treatment plan, there is nothing Philip can do but follow the blueprint they both hope will lead to her recovery.

In late April 1992, Philip accompanies his mother to Los Angeles for her monthly treatment. When he accidentally takes a wrong turn off the freeway, all hell breaks lose. Suddenly they find themselves in the center of the Rodney King riots. Gunshots ring out. Helicopters hover overhead. People loot and vandalize stores while others burn and overturn vehicles. Fires spring up all over the city.

In unfamiliar territory, Philip must guide his mother through this labyrinth of chaos to safety. With wit and insight coupled with a maternal concern for what's best for her son, Philip’s mother proves the old saying: a gay man’s best friend is truly his mother.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 26, 2013

Nebraska Close by R.W. Clinger

Nebraska Close by R.W. Clinger is now available in e-book format!

After retiring from his career in construction and trying to cope with the death of his wife, Isaac York experiences an infatuation for a lifelong male friend and discovers his world fills with sunflowers and a risqué transition. Isaac moves to Lake Samoy in search of a new life, to abandon his past, and to start a fresh relationship with a famous and sexy man named Nebraska Close, whom he falls head over heals for.

Nebraska Close, a professional photographer who is drawn to summer nights and a younger man’s skin, finds pleasure for a second time in his life. Unconditionally he falls for Isaac and mixes together his lust, photography of sunflowers, and homosexual longing.

Isaac's son, Nicholas, lives at Lake Samoy and doesn't understand his father's lack of interest in his mother's fatal illness. With the help of Nebraska Close, Nicholas confronts his father’s sexuality, and Isaac learns to love his son again.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 25, 2013

Matilda & Dusti by Joshua Skye

Matilda & Dusti by Joshua Skye is now available in e-book format!

As a teenager, Matilda lost her eyesight. Since then, her best friend has been her service dog, Dusti, and they share a special bond. They can literally talk to each other.

But her psychic abilities don’t stop there. She can talk to the dead, as well, and Matilda has capitalized on her talents by becoming a spiritual advisor.

Among her clients is a fearful conspiracy theorist named Michael, who claims to have stumbled upon a terrifying secret. When he uncovers a secret society and corrupt cops who will stop at nothing to keep him quiet, he turns to Matilda for help. As she and Dusti are drawn into the web of deceit, they find themselves targets of a deadly cover-up.

Matilda & Dusti is a quirky, fast-paced little thriller from the author of The Singing Wind and The Argento.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 22, 2013

From the Editor - Formatting Your Submission

It's a new year and our thoughts naturally turn to new submissions. Each Friday, we'll post a blog entry on what our submission editors would like to see in our inboxes.

Formatting Your Submission

The way a submission is presented tells us a lot about the author. Just think about it: if the submission contains a query letter, synopsis, and excerpt, in a professional-looking font and layout, we naturally feel this person made an effort with the submission. It conveys respect, both for their own work and for the publisher's requirements.

A large part of the journey with a publisher is handling edits, writing blurbs of varying lengths, and interacting with potential readers. Professionalism is crucial.

As for genre, we take stories with queer, straight, or anything in between, but some areas are simply no-go. Like incest. Scat. Bestiality. The reason for this is quite simple. J.M. Snyder has moral objections to those kinds of stories, end of discussion. It's her press, so she publishes what she likes.

When we get a submission containing material the submission requirements clearly state we don't take, it tells us the author didn't bother to read the guidelines. It suggests someone who blindly sent in a submission to any publisher, not necessarily one they want to work with or one whose press will be a good fit for their book. The ability to follow simple submission requirements tells us whether the working relationship with the author will be a pleasure or a pain. Faulty submission format does not automatically determine an accept or reject, but it is definitely noted by the editor.

Submit a story to us today!

February 21, 2013

Elliot Arthur Cross on The Keysmith

Guest post by Elliot Arthur Cross

As a child of the 1980's, I find a certain nostalgic inspiration from '80s cinema. The Keysmith is my ode to the slasher movies of the period. There's a fun atmosphere found in those cheesy horror movies. Although set in modern times with gay characters, there are certain beats and themes I included to give it a slasher feel.

I also appreciate supernatural stories in which there are rules. I hate omnipotent killers, be they human, zombie, spiritual, or otherwise. Freddy gets you in your sleep. Michael Myers attacks you on Halloween. Jason stalks campgrounds. But lately there's been an infusion of The Grudge style paranormal stories in which the ghost just appears anywhere and can do anything. Without getting spoilery, I made sure to set up a rule in The Keysmith and stick to it.

Horror flicks in the '80's also taught moral lessons. Sex equals death. Drugs equals death. So of course I set up my tale with two twenty year olds heading to a stud's house to sell drugs and score. You just know that's not going to end well.

And once I succeeded in what I'd set out to establish, I realized that the story was only partially over. I was already envisioning what happens next and suddenly The Keysmith grew in size and scope on its own. I'm a major proponent of letting characters surprise authors. Sometimes I shut the laptop, close my eyes, and watch the story progress on its own before typing again.

In writing The Keysmith, I tapped into the anxiety I feel after watching an effective horror movie on a lonely summer night. What is that noise coming from upstairs? What if you're not really alone? What if there's someone on the other side of your bedroom door?

Elliot Arthur Cross

The Keysmith by Elliot Arthur Cross

The Keysmith by Elliot Arthur Cross is now available in e-book format!

Gabe just wants to spend his Saturday night playing video games and drinking, until he's pressured by his wild friend Jason into chilling with Brad, a mostly-straight hunk they both know who's looking to buy some pot. Gabe reluctantly drives Jason to Brad's apartment, where he immediately feels ill at ease.

Brad only makes things worse by informing Gabe of the brutal murders committed years ago in his apartment. The hunk tells the guys about a keysmith who made copies of keys from all around the city and then let himself into homes to murder families while they slept. It's the reason Brad's apartment is so cheap.

While Jason sells Brad pot and gets him in the mood to screw around, Gabe is left alone in the creepy apartment. He hears little girls laughing in the attic and thumping at the windows. Maybe it's just the drinks and drugs playing games on him, or maybe the Keysmith has returned for more victims.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 19, 2013

Somewhere Else by Wayne Mansfield

Somewhere Else by Wayne Mansfield is now available in e-book format!

Jake and as Butch have been best friends since school. They even moved in together after graduating. Both are motorbike enthusiasts, although Jake is mad about Ducatis while Butch prefers Harley Davidsons. One day, knowing the one and only local traffic cop is in bed with the flu, Jake and Butch decide to ride out to the edge of town and race to the old apple shed on Orchard Road.

Soon after they arrive a strange cloud appears from nowhere. They take shelter in the apple shed and watch the storm pass. In its wake, a hole appears in the thin air. Even more bizarre is the head poking through from the other side.

Jake suggests they ride their bikes through the hole to check out what’s on the other side. Butch reluctantly agrees. The only problem is that the hole is shrinking, but Jake makes it through to the other side. Unfortunately, Butch gets stuck in mid-air, unable to free himself.

Jake’s only option is to go in search of help. He meets Zed, a strange, human-looking male with three eyes that blink independently of each other. Together they begin a journey to find The Oracle, the one person who may be able to assist Jake in his quest to free his best friend and get them both home again.

But nothing can be taken for granted in this surreal world, and getting home is not as easy as it sounds.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 13, 2013

Valentino's Valentine by Jennifer Cierra

Valentino's Valentine by Jennifer Cierra is now available in e-book format!

College sophomore William Pastor isn't too thrilled to hear his boyfriend of almost a year, Ethan, will have to work on Valentine's Day, dashing his plans of a day trip to the Hollywood sign and dooming him to spend Valentine's Day alone. Before Will can become too furious, however, he opens a letter from a local TV station and is shocked to learn he has been chosen as the winner of the Valentino's Valentine contest, granting him a date with TV and movie star Vincent Valentino on the Day of Love.

Despite Ethan's discomfort with the idea of his boyfriend going out with another man on Valentine's Day, Will is ecstatic. Once Valentino shows up, however, things start to feel strange. The date is everything he imagined, and yet, something is missing.

Is Will's happily-ever-after with the gorgeous, successful movie star flashing megawatt smiles his way and taking him to lunch at an expensive Italian restaurant? Or is it all the way across town, waiting tables at a local restaurant and silently hoping Will won't be swept away by the false promise of Hollywood charm?

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 12, 2013

Tyler's Teacher by J.M. Snyder

Tyler's Teacher by J.M. Snyder is now available in e-book format!

Jason Peters is a young widowed father whose son, Tyler, is a precocious first grader starting a new school in the middle of the term. His new teacher is Greg Boucher, a man near Jason’s age who is incredibly attractive. For the first time since his wife’s death, Jason finds himself interested in the possibility of a romantic relationship.

It seems Greg feels the same. At a parent/teacher conference, Jason admits he’s gay, and to his surprise, Greg asks him out on a date. They spend a wonderful evening together, but when morning dawns, Jason realizes things can’t move forward between them unless his son is comfortable with the arrangement.

Will Tyler understand Jason’s interest in his teacher? Or will Jason have to choose between what he wants and what’s best for his son?

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 11, 2013

The Dallamano by Joshua Skye

The Dallamano by Joshua Skye is now available in e-book format!

Designed by cult architect Giuseppe Soavi, the mastermind behind Manhattan’s The Argento, The Dallamano is an intimate West Hollywood courtyard where the elites of the movie business once carried on their secret affairs. The complex is now managed by Jeanne Curtis, a lonely middle-aged woman content in the dreary life she’s made with her cats and late-night television.

But her dull life changes when former beauty queen Dorothy Creek movies in. Passions stir in Jeanne and the ghosts of The Dallamano awaken.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 7, 2013

Terry O'Reilly on The Search for Soaring Hawk

Guest post by Terry O'Reilly

I have always had a fascination for Native American culture. So, I was overjoyed when a relative did a family genealogy and discovered my great grandfather was an Illini Indian. While only an eighth Illini, I quickly embraced that small percentage of my gene pool and registered myself with my tribe, taking on the name Sleeps with Dogs. An easy choice as I literally do sleep with my three dogs.

Interest in my heritage has lead to the writing of several stories involving Native American culture and the place of gay men in those societies. The Search for Soaring Hawk is one of those books. Son of an Illini chief and a white captive, Soaring Hawk is raised in the native customs. As he grows into manhood, he comes to recognize his desire for the love of men. Knowing the fate of those that are of 'two spirits' within his tribe, he leaves the Indian village, disguises his heritage and enters the white man's world as Samuel Hawkins.

He embarks on an odyssey which takes him across the continent and into the arms and beds of many lovers. As he travels he comes to realize that love has many forms. But the one he seeks most continually eludes him. The only constant in his life is his faithful half-breed wolf-dog.

Samuel's first love after leaving the tribe is a Swedish settler, Nils Bjorn. Their love for each other is deep and pure. But Samuel, as I envisioned him, is on a quest to find his true identity. I wasn't ready for him to find his happy-ever-after at this point in the writing. So I had to find a way to get rid of Nils. At first I was going to kill him off. (Ah, the power of being an author.) I wrote the entire chapter describing in detail Nils' demise and Samuel's mourning for him, all the while shedding tears as I had come to love Nils just as Samuel had. In the end I couldn't do it. But I still needed to have Nils out of the picture. In the story, Nils had come to the New World to build a life for himself and his wife-to-be, Sally, who was waiting back home in Sweden for word from Nils to come and join him. I decided Sally would show up unexpectedly. Samuel, honorable guy that he is, would steal away in the night, allowing Nils to fulfill his destiny, leaving Samuel to continue to search for his.

In writing The Search for Soaring Hawk, and my other stories in this genre, I've had the joy of discovering more about the culture which is part of my heritage with its rich traditions and spiritual grounding. I hope to write more stories involving my Native American roots in the future.

Terry O'Reilly

The Search for Soaring Hawk by Terry O'Reilly

The Search for Soaring Hawk by Terry O'Reilly is now available in e-book format!

Son of an Indian brave and a white captive, Soaring Hawk is raised in the native customs. As he grows into manhood, he discovers his desire for the love of men. Knowing the fate of those of ‘two spirits’ within his tribe, he leaves the Indian village, disguises his heritage, and enters the white man’s world as Samuel Hawkins.

He soon discovers life is difficult for a man who prefers men. While he finds companionship, and forms bonds with many of the men he meets, he is unable to find a relationship which satisfies his deepest need. He also discovers much of what is in the world outside his village conflicts with the values of his native upbringing.

He embarks on an odyssey which takes him across the continent and into the arms and beds of many lovers. As he travels, he comes to realize love has many forms. But the one he seeks most continually eludes him.

Where will his odyssey lead him? Will he ever come to the end of his search for Soaring Hawk?

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 6, 2013

Wayne Mansfield on On Love and Punishment

Guest post by Wayne Mansfield

As a non-believer I have always found the idea of Hell very intriguing. There is the commonly held notion of Hell as being an inferno of eternal damnation, but I wonder. Since most of the Bible has been changed, rearranged, bits added, bits removed, we can't know what Hell is really like, or even if there is a Hell. At least, not until we die, but then who is going to come back and report? Dis is not an inferno, at least not all the time. It is a dark, barren world constantly capped by thick, low-hanging clouds and scorched black by roaming wildfires.

Of Love and Punishment explores the lives of two demon in love -- a high ranking demon, Raum, and his partner, Charam. They live together in a rocky abode on the outskirts of Dis and have what can only be described as a stormy relationship. Charam is younger and is unusually attracted to sex with human males -- and who can blame him? However, his taste for the carnal is at the root of all his problems.

I often, but not always, write my main character with at least something of myself in him. It's a great way to do all the things I dream about without actually having to do them. Or I can exaggerate the experiences I've had in real life. I am not one for authority and so I liked the fact that Charam does what he wants. He's a bit of a free spirit. He is also immature and a tad spiteful. Yet, in the end his experiences teach him the lesson he needs to learn. This is also my preferred way of learning. Let life be the teacher.

When Raum finally reaches the end of his tether and punishes Charam, he comes up with a unique way of shaming his beloved. The punishment was the first idea I had for the story. I can't remember how it came to me, but these things usually materialise as I'm falling asleep, when I'm dreaming or when I'm under the shower. I thought it was a great piece of imagery and the cogs and wheels of my mind immediately began to concoct a story around this one idea. As the story progressed I knew I wanted the theme to be one about the nature of love; more particularly the idea that despite the fact we truly and deeply love someone, we can do some pretty stupid things. We don't mean to hurt anyone. It's just that when we do have a moment of weakness, a moment of stupidity, or even a few moments of either, we invariably do hurt someone and its a long hard road back to Trust.

Wayne Mansfield

Of Love and Punishment by Wayne Mansfield

Of Love and Punishment by Wayne Mansfield is now available in e-book format!

Dis, the ancient word for Hell, is a world parallel to our own, close enough for its inhabitants to pass back and forth from their realm into ours, collecting souls and tormenting believers.

Charam is a handsome devil who can easily pass for human. It’s an ability that brings him both pleasure and punishment. He loves his partner, Raum, a minor member of Dis aristocracy, but sometimes he slips. He can’t seem to control himself and he strays. It’s what he does. And why not? Apart from the fact he is a demon, the human male form is just too deliciously tempting.

When Raum discovers Charam’s infidelities, Charam vows to mend his ways, but it isn’t long before he's at it again. Ah, the delights of the human cock! The feel of a muscular body, the aroma of male pheromone, and the bittersweet taste of cum!

When his infidelity is discovered a second time, there is no forgiveness. In a rage, Raum conjures up a unique punishment. No scarlet letter ‘A’ for Charam. Oh no. He has something much more beastly in mind.

A lover humiliated is a dangerous thing, and Charam wants revenge. But his little plan goes too far. At first he doesn’t care what happens -- he is hurt and angry -- but a journey into the Wildlands soon changes that.

Is it too late to rescue his beloved Raum? The matter may well be out of his hands.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!

February 4, 2013

Brittany Fonte on Fighting Gravity

Guest post by Brittany Fonte

Readers often ask writers: Is this work autobiographical? When I started writing Fighting Gravity, I was working from the point of view of a protective parent and aunt, the kind of obsessive helicopter parent who has decided she will never let her children cruise the Internet or questionable chat rooms -- as she did as a child. And so, in creating Calliope and Farrah, I had to include who I had been as a teenager in some capacity, yes; I didn’t want either character to come across as naïve, or ignorant, or as a victim. Callie and Farrah choose the Internet to find other halves for very logical reasons: Callie chooses it because she feels there is no one in her high school who A) hasn’t known her since elementary school (and therefore is like a sibling) and B) isn’t already linked to another thespian/band geek/pot head. Farrah journeys online because she feels alone and isolated as a newly-identified lesbian in a high school setting seemingly filled, only, with heterosexuals.

As an adult, I can say that I met my spouse of ten plus years (and two kids) online; it isn’t so taboo, today, with Match.com and EHarmony commercials flooding late night tv. This, too, was logical. I taught middle school in a conservative county, then. I didn’t go to bars and the “ladies nights” at local gay establishments were few and far between. My options for meeting other like-minded women was whittled to, maybe, weekend trips to PetSmart and city Starbucks locations where I would obviously read My Antonia. In an HRC shirt. With rainbow socks. I understood that I had to take a chance on love, and this isn’t so very different than I felt as a high schooler in the same situation -- looking for companionship.

As a parent and aunt, I wanted to show readers the reality of SOME interactions online, because safety comes first. My niece was thirteen when I wrote this book. Oprah Winfrey had just done a scary show on pedophiles and how they groom their victims for abuse. Dateline had shown innocuous-looking rabbis, teachers, coaches, etc. luring children to their homes with white picket fences and family pictures adorning the walls. Too many teachers had made headlines for sleeping with sixth graders. This, too, is real. This, perhaps, is more real than vampires and werewolves and zombies, oh my!

In addition to the online predator storyline, I wanted to breathe life into the world of family. Young adults, like grown-ups, have little control over their families and home environments. Sometimes they complain, wish they had a different home universe. And I am a lesbian mom; my son, at almost seven, has never questioned how he got here, but he feels a bit different, I’m sure, having two moms. Who are still together. Who only have one house to choose from. He has friends who have divorced parents and two houses, which they ping-pong back and forth to every other week. This is confusing for a first grader who simply wants to fit in. He asked my wife and I why he didn’t have two houses, once; we thought long and hard about how we could get every-other-week breaks without divorcing, but the answer has yet to appear. So I birthed as many different family situations as possible into this story: a single mom who parents both her child and her terminally-ill mother, a pair of gay men looking to adopt, an Evangelical couple who has a hard time with their child’s sexuality, but ultimately embraces the daughter they love, and a devoutly Jewish woman who is married to a husband with two children -- and becomes a Christ-like savior for Callie. This is our beautiful patchwork of family diversity in this country; we should teach young adults to value their families, whatever their make up, however they are formed, however loud the Westboro Baptist Church should scream against them.

Finally, I abhor stereotypes. I don’t believe that all high school cheerleaders are dumb, or that teenagers with disabilities are conclusively less popular than those with all of their body parts/mental capacities/learning abilities. Callie is not a popular kid; she is a thespian and show choir girl. In this way, Callie is autobiographical and delightfully quirky. (My jock wife has, on occasion, told me never to share that side of myself, however.) Farrah is a Buddhist despite her parents’ Christian obsessions; this, too, is close to my heart. Lynn has a disability, and tries too hard to get people to like her. She is not a “slut” or “easy”; she is a teenaged girl, worried about her body image as we all were -- and still are at 35 -- when we eat an entire pizza and a bag of M&Ms before trying to squeeze into that new dress for an important event. Lynn, in many ways, is the epitome of what I see all human beings as: vulnerable, complicated, instinctive, fragmented. And yet, she is utterly gorgeous. These are the characters, and parts of myself, who can tell young readers: Be who you are. It’s simply perfect.

So, yes, I am that young girl, inside, who desperately wants others to like her. I am a woman who was once severely irritated by her mother when rules kept her from putting herself in danger, i.e. fun. I am a practicing Buddhist -- practice being the most relevant adjective. I am a dorky thespian and show choir participant who knows every word to every contemporary musical song. Ever. I am in love with that statue of Gandhi in DuPont Circle, Washington, D.C., and non-violence; I would toss a gun away if handed to me, too. I love my grandmother more than life, itself. And, perhaps most importantly, I know what it is like to seek love, as complicated, messy, and devastating as it can be.

Brittany Fonte

Fighting Gravity by Brittany Fonte

Fighting Gravity by Brittany Fonte is now available in e-book format!

Nearly eighteen, Calliope Pratt knows her rank in the hierarchy of dorks in high school -- just above the band geeks. With a love life as laughable as her name, she still wants a boyfriend. Her best friend Farrah is a Buddhism-dabbling, left-leaning lesbian who has just come to terms with her sexuality. When Callie is humiliated by her crush in front of an auditorium of thespians, she and Farrah turn to the Internet to find their soul mates.

Unfortunately, what they find there isn't what they hoped for.

Amidst family secrets and tragedies, Callie finds and nurtures an online love, the mysterious Kevin. This chat room relationship blossoms and pushes her to the unthinkable: to run away from her mother, grandmother, and newly-introduced father so she can be with her unknown Prince Charming.

But she soon learns nothing is what it seems in the virtual world, and blind trust can be dangerous.

Read an excerpt or buy a copy today!