December 27, 2015
I’m going on a cruise. All year long I’ve been talking about cruising, always Dominic and my dream vacation. Well in a few days he and I will leave the fickle weather of the north for some fun in the sun. He and I will eat until we’re ready to burst, spend time on the pool deck, and there will be snorkeling and plenty of beach time.
Our first stop will be Key West. Dominic and I have never been there before and we’re really looking forward to it. I suspect we’ll wander around the town and probably go to the Hemmingway House. Then we head south the Aruba and Curacao. These are favorite islands. Especially Curacao with its European flair. Then to end the cruise, it’s a stop in Grand Cayman, another new stop for us. Dominic has book a snorkeling adventure for us.
Nine days of fun and sun before we return to real life and most likely snow. A winter vacation is an amazing chance to rest after the holidays and get Dominic and I through the winter.
December 25, 2015
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! Lex Chase here, and this month we’re dishing about Dream Gifts!
One of the Christmas traditions we did as kids in the Pre-Internet Days (what dark days indeed) was gathering with the neighborhood children to compare notes on what we got. You always had that one kid that got the best of everything. I was never that one kid.
With the advent of the Internet (such the Age of Enlightenment!) we took photos of our Christmas hauls so share with all of our friends via Livejournal. Some of us even went as far as to create elaborate arrangements of our “Phat Lewt” as we called it that was more of a product shoot than an actual sharing a snapshot. There was always that one person that knew their way around Photoshop. I wasn’t that one person. Till later.
When I was little, I was into collecting My Little Ponies. I had every pony you could that you could imagine. Bins of them. I had as many as boys had GI Joes. My brother and I even played war games were the Joes rode My Little Ponies into battle.
But the toy I had my eye on all year as a much smaller person was this… My Little Pony Paradise Estate.
Just look at this marvel of cheap pink plastic and it sold for $90 in 1985! My parents tell me stories of how my father stayed up all night assembling this Pepto Bismol nightmare. There’s 30 steps into creating this masterpiece of mindless consumerism.
And 6 year old me loved it. Which for a parent, that’s all that mattered in the end of making a kid’s holiday awesome. It was that same Christmas, my brother got a Nintendo. Remember this?
Together, my parents set us on a path of pop culture and imagination. Where I play pretend every day by creating fanciful worlds and taking readers with me. My brother, who is going to be 41 next month, has a Playstation 4 and together we go quests in Dragon Age or defend the Brotherhood in Assassin’s Creed.
Christmas means something different to everyone. For me, it’s about saying it’s a-ok to be a kid again. Though many will argue I never grew up. I’ll be 37 next year, if I haven’t grown up yet, it’s not happening.
So my Christmas Wish? While I’d love all the cats, you, yes you, have a Christmas assignment.
1. Call your Mom. Or your Dad. Or your Sister, Brother, Cousin, whoever. Call them. Tell them you love them.
2. Share a cute video to Facebook. Might I recommend puppies, kittens, or hedgehogs.
3. Go outside. Step Two to going outside: Leave a note in a neighbors mailbox that you appreciate them.
4. Get in a snowball fight with children. Let them win.
5. Failing that: Fight with wrapping paper tubes.
6. Let your cats play in the wrapping paper. If you have dogs stick antlers on their heads. It’s funny.
7. Go to a movie. Might I recommend Joy with Jennifer Lawrence.
8. Go to Starbucks. Buy coffee for the customer behind you. Give the barrista a gift card.
9. And most importantly: Be a kid.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and see you in the New Year!
December 12, 2015
I’m thrilled to introduce my newest book to you. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR is a novel of breathtaking romantic suspense. It officially debuted on Monday, 7 December!
Inked Rainbow Reviews already gave it a rave review, saying, in part, “False identities, plot twists, close calls. They all add up to a book I couldn’t put down once I started. ” Read the whole review here.
Hope you’ll check out the blurb and the excerpt below and then grab your copy. I appreciate any word of mouth, but with this one especially, NO SPOILERS please! If you read THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, I will thank you very much for taking a chance on my latest book and I will ask–in the name of all that’s holy–please don’t reveal the #1 twist (near the middle of the book) and the #2 twist (near the end).
With the couple next door, nothing is as it seems.
Jeremy Booth leadsa simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.
Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.
So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientationand The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
December 10, 2015
It’s that time of year. When we’re bombarded with images of happy families getting together, smiling and laughing together, with no signs of discord or strife. Ideal pictures of ideal families.
Sweet? Yes. Realistic? No. Not at all.
It makes for happy stories, but it’s not always the case. There will always be disagreements. Someone will walk all over someone else’s feelings. There will be awkward moments, disappointing behavior, and tons of stress.
Whatever your family situation, please remember: this is only temporary. Forced uncomfortable family interactions only last for the hours when you’re around them. Don’t let it linger afterwards. You have more family than your blood or marriage relatives. We talk a lot about families of choice. The ones you choose to spend time with, the ones you choose to have your back, the ones you choose to spend time with.
But don’t forget: they are the ones that also choose you as well. They know the real you, and they still choose to be there for you. They choose to accept you, no matter what. I think it’s important to remember that. It’s not a one-way street, and it’s not obligation.
THEY CHOOSE YOU TOO.
If your family situation is stressful, please take care of yourself this holiday season. Take breaks as you can. Don’t internalize the rhetoric that one uncle is spewing.
Here’s some suggestions for taking care of yourself:
And some resources you can call if you need assistance:
Please, take care of yourself, and remember, this is only one day (or only a few). You have at least 350 other days that are all yours. When you can be yourself. When you can surround yourself with those who choose you. Don’t let the assholes win.
November 26, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Lex Chase here with something a little special on today’s fine National Tryptophan Day.
Thanksgiving is a special time here in the US—or as the rest of the world calls it Thursday. This year families gather round the table, eat more than they ever thought possible, and then pass the hell out for the rest of the day. Or if you’re like some crazy people, you’re in line before the sun comes up for Black Friday sales.
But let’s stop to think of what we’re truly thankful for beyond material possessions and bickering in-laws.
I for one am thankful for my family. Yes, we may bicker and we may get obnoxious, but we laugh, and we’ll be there for each other when it matters most. My mom goes to GRL with me every year and we have an awesome time. After 45 years in the Navy, my dad has finally retired this past week. My brother has found his calling as an amazing pastry chef.
I couldn’t have gone as far as I have without them. Their constant support, and constant nagging of getting books done on time so they can come to you on time. HAH.
I’m thankful to Dreamspinner for taking a chance on me. To Elizabeth North, and Lynn West for putting up with my weirdness. To all the friends I’ve made where we’ve gone from talking shop, to talking about the silly habits of our pets.
Also, to someone very special in my life right now. DSP Publications author C.S. Poe seemed to think I was someone that was worthy dating material. So, here we are spending our first Thanksgiving together. She makes me want to be a better person. And she put up with all my overflow of emotion with her relentless optimism.
She refuses to let me be self-depreciating. And she refuses to let me dream small. Which both are very easy for writers. The woman sent me flipping flowers when I finished Urban Fairy Tale. Who does that?
When you get two romance writers in a relationship, it’s adorkable how we can be with little gestures.
So, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Even if it’s just another day for you. Or it’s the day that you have the awkward conversation with your distant relatives of how you’re not married yet. It’s a day to be thankful that you are here and I’m thankful you’re here, too.
Let’s do something a little different than a giveaway this time. How about you do something special for someone else. Drop a donation of 10 or so bucks to a charity of your choice and email me a copy of the receipt. In exchange for your being awesome for someone else, I’ll give you an eBook copy of any one of my books, including Bayou Fairy Tale if you haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Email receipts to firstname.lastname@example.org! Get donating!
November 12, 2015
When you begin to lose track of how many books you’ve had published, it’s really hard to say which one is your favorite. It’s like asking Mrs. O’Farrell, a staunch Irish Catholic who lived next door to us when I was growing up which of her nine children was her favorite.
“They’re all my favorites,” I imagine her replying, “Each for a different reason.”
And the same holds true for me and my books. But today I am thinking about Chaser. For its humor, its insight about body image (and the gay ideal or lack thereof), and its theme of attractiveness being a highly personal and relative thing, Chaser truly is, of my own stuff, one of my favorites.
Since its publication back in August of 2012, I’ve gotten many letters from readers thanking me for introducing a romantic hero who is not the ideal. See, the object of desire/affection in my story is Kevin and Kevin’s a little overweight. The “chaser” in the title refers to the gay lingo term for men who prefer their men on the meatier side: chubby chasers.
My other main character, Caden, is one of those men. Although Caden is a runner, with a lean and what some might call a perfect body, he prefers his men to have a little something to hold onto. Here’s Caden’s first glimpse of Kevin in a bar one night:
Caden did have his eye on one guy, down on the lower level at one of the high-topped tables, talking with a couple of friends. He stood out because he was not built like most of the guys here, who were, to a man, either too skinny or too pumped up to register on his attraction meter.
This guy seemed comfortable in his own skin and Caden liked the way he threw back his head and laughed when one of his buddies said something funny. Unlike most of the other guys in Sidetrack that night, he did not show any signs that he was conscious of his appearance. Caden liked that he wore comfortable clothes, a cotton sweater of faded blue-gray and a simple pair of carpenter pants, most likely Carhartt. He peered over the rail and saw the guy’s feet were encased in work boots. Ah. A blue-collar man. A working guy. Just my type. Caden also liked his tousled blond hair, which revealed fetching layers of color that went from almost brown, to wheat, to pale blond, to nearly platinum, yet revealed no indication, Caden thought, of the attentions of a hairdresser. And what put him on the “edge of glory” was the crowning touch: a thick beard, not manicured into tortured geometric lines.
And he was blessedly overweight. Not fat. But a bit of gut protruded, and his thighs, in denim, looked like tree trunks. When he turned around, he revealed an ass of ample proportions, the kind Caden could just imagine as two perfect, creamy white spheres perfect for grasping and pulling apart.
“Is it hot in here?” Caden shouted in Bobby’s ear. He took a gulp of beer and fanned his hand in front of his face.
Most of the time, in gay or straight romance, you don’t find men like the one above. But in Chaser, I tried to show that objects of desire and/or love can and do come in all different shapes and sizes.
The vagaries of sexual attraction are definitely not a one-size-fits-all affair.
But if that was all there was to Chaser, there wouldn’t be much of a story, now would there? As an author, I like there to be some drama, some tension, so I asked… “What would happen if….”
…and filled in the blank with “Kevin lost the weight that drew Caden to him in the first place?”
So, when Caden has to leave town suddenly for an extended period, he returns home to a man who is not at all what he was originally drawn to. How does one deal with such a situation? As the tag line on the cover of Chaser wonders: “Is it really what’s on the inside that counts?”
Well, is it?
I think open-hearted people everywhere know the answer to that question, even if might be modified somewhat by “within limits”. But to find out if Kevin and Caden are still a love match when body images change, you have to read Chaser to discover what happens.
I leave you with a sentence near the end of the book that may give you a clue to how things turn out:
Caden turned back to Kevin. The fight had gone out of him. He appraised him with new eyes.
And what do you think he saw?
Chaser is available from Dreamspinner Press and at all the usual suspects—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, and so on. And if you want more, check out Raining Men. It explores another side of gay life that may not be at the forefront of gay romance—sexual addiction and its power to thwart the very love for which one might search within its clutches.
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Raining Men and Caregiver have both won the Rainbow Award for gay fiction. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, AllRomance ebooks, and more.
November 10, 2015
If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of NaNoWriMo participants this year, leave now. Seriously, come back next month. Why? Because today I’m going to waste your time.
For the rest of you, here’s some things to fill the time you’d normally spend interacting with your friends while they are writing like the wind. (Upside: the tons of new stories coming out of these dedicated individuals!)
“But Xara, what makes you qualified to talk about wasting time during NaNo?” you ask? Well, I am a four-time NaNo loser, two-time first day dropout and one time non-starter. Time Waster: Expert Level.
We can’t all spend our time doing nothing, but everyone needs some downtime every now and again. So, relax, unwind, grab a drink and a cookie, because we’re not coming up for air for a while. We’re going beyond the regulars (facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest…) and down some major time-sucking rabbit holes.
Pick up a(nother) hobby. Do some crafting. You can find literally thousands of free patterns out there for knitting, crocheting, and even basket weaving and Lego architecture. Or combine them: crochet a Lego blanket.
Did you know that there is actually a patent for a flame-throwing trumpet? Or a slightly different Advent Calendar – with a new condom behind each of the doors? (Overly optimistic or Challenge Accepted? You decide…) You could get lost (or inspired!) browsing through some Weird and Wonderful Patents or the Patently Absurd.
Want to relax and read a little fanfic? Been looking for a story where Raoul hooks up with the Phantom instead of Christine? Archive of Our Own has it. No matter what you’re shipping, chances are, you’ll find it. Sterek is my poison. I have gotten lost for weeks (years?) in the astounding amount of creativity out there.
Or if you just want to wing it, The Useless Web will hook you up with a random time wasting site. Click away and have fun.
I started thinking about this post with the idea of just providing some fun time wasting sites, but it made me realize something. No matter what you are, or what you are into, remember: there is always someone else out there who enjoys the same thing as you, or is just as passionate about the same things you are. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
October 25, 2015
This month I wanted to do Halloween. After all it’s October and I thought it would be fun. When Dominic and I first met, he was working as a pastry chef. We got along great, but there were things I didn’t find out about him until that first year. You see Dominic had a love of Halloween. The costumes, parties, especially giving them, and jack-o-lanterns. He used to carve eight to ten a season, with all kinds of amazing faces and designs. When we bought our first home together in Whitefish Bay, he discovered that they held the Great Pumpkin Festival where 1000 jack-o-lanterns were carved and displayed in the village park.
He showed them what he could do and they latched onto him. He became one of the master pumpkin carvers and would spend evenings down at the park for a week or more, carving the really big pumpkins. One year he did one with candy corn eyes and another with an amazing face that screamed in real terror. He was great. His most amazing pumpkin was one that was misshapen. Part of it had collapsed and it seemed pinched in part. I remember being with Dominic when he picked out that pumpkin to carve. I thought he was nuts. The following day he called me and said it was done and asked me to come see it. I was floored. He’d turned that pumpkin into a crocodile head complete with multiple layers of teeth, eyes on the pinched part and even hands that he’d made with the parts he’d cut away. It was the best jack-o-lantern ever.
Now here’s the sad part. I have been trying to find a picture of that jack-o-lantern for two years and haven’t been able to. It’s very sad because I would love to show it to you. However I am including some more recent pictures of what he’s done. I hope you like them and trick or treat.
October 22, 2015
As I say on my blog, Hello, Internet! I’m Lex Chase and welcome to the latest installment of this month’s Dreamer column! This month’s theme is Wouldn’t Dream of It, and this one was a toughie for me!
I was thinking…hmmm…I could do something Halloween themed? Something scary? But this time, I decided to tone it back to something possibly even scarrier. I’m talking about love. For old dogs that thought that they would never meet that one person, they wouldn’t dream of love. That would be something that would never happen to them. Love is something that happens to other people.
In my latest release the long awaited Bayou Fairy Tale the sequel to Americana Fairy Tale, we find the our heroes Taylor and Corentin living their Happily Ever After. Things have more or less worked out for them, but Corentin, being the old huntsman and 22 years older than his beloved princess, he’s still in awe that such a thing could happen.
When we met Corentin in Americana, he had lost his way, lost his faith, and was resigned to the fact that all his life was meant for was to be at the beck and call of wicked queens and evil stepmothers. Love wasn’t something on his agenda. Love was something he had completely written out of his vocabulary.
His idea of physical affection, minus the actual affection was renting a boy for the evening for some entertainment and moving on.
And then Taylor waltzed into his life like a Kamikaze pilot smashing into the side of an aircraft carrier. Taylor is not known for subtlety. He is also not known for poise, grace, and sure as hell doesn’t have any kind of manners. He is also of the mind that love was never in the cards for him either. Who would love a guy so flawed? His life a mess? His baggage? His method was to cover himself in a shell of anger to keep anyone from finding him anywhere attractive.
Corentin on the surface was nothing but heartlessness. But try to scratch off his surface and there’s only more surface underneath. It made things easier if he never formed attachments to anyone. Especially if they were one of his targets and he had to assassinate them.
They mutually found each other in the lowest points of their lives. And while on their absolutely insane adventure, they internalized that what was happening between them, wasn’t. They are the absolutely slowest of slow burns. And it makes my toes curl with delight. Because the anticipation I think makes it that much more worth it.
They were terrified to make that step. To place their trust in each other to not only survive the entire ordeal, but for Corentin to believe once it was over Taylor would just be off again.
In Bayou, Corentin still struggles with that. He struggles with making peace that Taylor is in it for the long haul. When Taylor says Corentin is his true love, it isn’t lip service. That’s something no one says lightly. Especially not Enchants. But Corentin is terrified that Taylor says that now but when difficulties arise, or if things get serious, or too real. Or Taylor realizes that being with Corentin has it’s own long line of responsibilities, he’s going to bolt.
Corentin never thought he would ever be in love, feel love, and want to do everything in his power to keep it. But for a middle-aged gruff old wolf, can love be real?
Can he let himself accept and believe Happily Ever After can be true?
Find out more about Corentin’s journey to love an acceptance with Taylor and with himself in Bayou Fairy Tale. On sale now!
My question to you! What is your wildest dream? What is the one thing on your bucket list you dream of doing? Nothing to big or small! Me? I once dreamed of being an astronaut! Could happen!
One lucky commenter will snag themselves a $5 USD DSP Gift Certificate!
October 16, 2015
I’m often asked what inspires my stories, so I’d like to share a few things with you about Beloved Unmasked.
First, I never name a book, or hardly ever name a book until I’m finished writing. Every now and again, a title will come to me while I’m writing, and those are blessed moments.
Beloved Unmasked’s title will be obvious to readers once they get into the book, so I won’t share that here, but I would like to tell you about how the book was born.
A year ago, my sister told me that an elderly woman she and a friend cared for had passed away. Deloris had lived a colorful life, had traveled all over, and had settled near her son in North Carolina. Before that, though, Deloris had been a psychic in New Orleans, at the famous Bottom of the Cup Tea Room, for more than twenty years. Sis told me that Deloris’s walls were lined with pictures of people she’d read the tea leaves for, including Tony Curtis and Kevin Costner. Those two, she was apparently particularly proud of.
I’d wanted to do a story set in New Orleans, having lived there for many years, and the psychic angle intrigued me–until I dove into my research. Given that Deloris could no longer give me her insight, the research was merely bland recitations of encounters with psychics. Then I tried to fit my characters into a mold that, frankly, didn’t fit the story. After three months of battling with myself, I scrapped the psychic angle and the characters I had created. They will however, at some point, come to life, as I have a story in mind for them.
The one thing that kept turning up was Storyville and with my inquisitive mind, I wanted to know all there was to know about that period in New Orleans history. I read five different books, a gazillion websites, and interviews conducted with musicians and former residents of Storyville, and settled on the path I wanted to take with the book.
Amid tears and laughter for six months, I wrote the book in two POVs. Then I submitted it to Dreamspinner. They accepted it and then began the wait for production. I have to give kudos to my editor, Desi, who always knows what I want the finished product to be. She is deft not only at those insane commas, but at seeing the big picture. In the first editing email I got from Desi, she suggested I do two things: Make the book from Pic/David’s POV, and change the second main character. She enumerated her reasons and in doing so, confirmed for me what I had felt uneasy about all along.
To the left you’ll see how I work. This picture was taken during the writing of Beloved Unmasked. You can see my inspiration for Spence in the white shirt, with Pic/David inset. I’m a visual writer, so I always print out pictures of my character and have them in front of me. Then I give the links to the pictures to cover artist, Anne Cain, and she incorporates them into my lovely covers.
While my desk might look chaotic, it is very organized. I keep index cards for each character and you’ll see a few of them scattered about. Notes, notes, and more notes on yellow pads, and of course, my coffee cup. All part of the writing prescription.
On the stand behind David and Spence is what I call my writing bible. It contains tons of information on craft, alternative words, emotions, you name it, it’s there.
What you can’t see, is to the left I have a white board which I use as a story board. Right now, I’m loading it up with index cards for the next book in the series, Without Question. You’ll meet Emile in Beloved Unmasked, and WQ is his story. I’m not sure I’ve ever written a more compelling secondary character, but he does deserve his own story. I’m about 25k in at the moment.
I hope you enjoy Beloved Unmasked. The era is fascinating and I hope you’ll find the characters compelling as well. They still live with me, months after I finished writing BU. For more BU Trivia, check out the post on my blog on October 19th. Who says we don’t put ourselves into our work?
Giveaway: Stop by my blog between October 16 and 23 for a series of posts on Storyville. Leave a substantive comment (not “I’m in” or the like,) about the posts and on November 1, I’ll select the winner of a New Orleans-themed gift pack. Beloved Unmasked isn’t included in the giveaway.
Beloved Unmasked is a beautifully written historical romance. You can feel the streets of New Orleans, see the sights, and hear the sounds. (Cathy Brockman – MM Good Book Reviews)
When you want a historical you can really sink into and feel like you are there, this is the book to pick up. Really amazingly well done. A Recommended Read (Tina Brunelle – Redz World)
Beloved Unmasked has a whole lot packed into the pages. Brita Addams has certainly done her research about New Orleans. (Kazza – On the Top Down Under Reviews)
Dreamspinner has Beloved Unmasked on sale until October 18, at 25% off. Buy now to get the great discount.
Cherished One: Book One
A Tarnished novel
Born to a spiteful prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district in New Orleans, David comes into the world as Picayune, meaning “of little value,” or, as his mother reminds him, “nothing.” In the early 20th century brothels and clubs, his love of music sustains young Pic until a life-changing meeting places him on the road to respectability, and Pic reinvents himself as David Reid.
As David realizes happiness for the first time, conscription forces his friend and first love, Spencer Webb, into the Great War. While he pursues a law degree, letters from Spence connect David to his hopes for the future. After staggering news at war’s end, David must find a way to move forward. Under the tutelage of his benefactor, David’s career prospers, but specters from Storyville threaten all he’s worked so hard to achieve.
The past holds both pain and love. Will facing it head-on destroy David or give him everything he’s ever dared dream?
I’ve had a great time at this release party and I hope you have too. But we aren’t done! The party continues all this week, from October 16 to the 23rd on my blog. Each day, I’ll post an interesting post about Storyville, and you’ll have opportunities to win that New Orleans-themed gift pack. I look forward to seeing you there.
You can find me at the following places. Stop by, say hello and let’s chat.