GRL or GayRomLit: If You’re Going, Here are Some Ideas on How to Tell Folks Where You’re Going

March 12, 2016


Since today is the day registration opens for GRL, I thought this post was appropriate. It’s also appropriate as talking points for telling people why you love gay romance.

I once overheard some people talking about what they tell friends and family about their attendance at GRL, a retreat, as we all know, for lovers of gay romance. For a reason that’s alien to me, some of the people I overheard felt the need to not be totally open about the event they were attending. As a gay man who’s been out of the closet now almost more years than he was in, the secrecy is a bit hard to understand, but I guess there are still people out there who A. care what someone else thinks about how they spend their off time or B. there are people (like, say, maybe a teacher at a parochial grade school) who knows their association with ‘gay’ literature might be frowned upon.

Whatever the reason, I offer the following to help you decide what to say when people ask you about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing when you attend GRL.

For the straight folks in your life who have never heard of m/m romance

Now, for those of you who are open about where you’re going and people who don’t know your tastes in reading ask something like, “Gay romance? Why gay romance? You’re not gay, are you?” This is such a silly question, as if we have to confine our reading tastes to only who we are. Reading a book with African-American characters and you’re white? Why? Reading a story that’s about aliens from Mars and you’re not one? Why on Earth?

When you put it that way, you begin to see what a silly question it is. It would be like me, as a gay man, saying I don’t read stories with straight characters. I’m not straight, so how could a book about straight people possibly interest me?

Because I’m human! Because we’re all human! And our needs, desires, hopes, aspirations, and despair do not divide us; they unite us.

If someone wonders why you read m/m, you might clue them in that, in the end, you like reading about people falling in love. People. And then you might use the opportunity to tell them what’s so wonderful and different about m/m romance and why it makes sense not only for you to read, but why it also might make sense for them to step out of their comfort zone and give it a try.

For the gay folks in your life who wonder why m/m romance and not just gay fiction

And here, it gets a little trickier. I heard someone say on Facebook recently that m/m romance is by and for straight women and that gay romance is by and for gay men. Putting aside the inanity of trying to classify who reads and writes love stories, you still might have to talk to gay friends about what they might perceive as reading in a genre that’s not gender-appropriate for you, especially if you happen to be a gay man. Again, the same thing I said above applies–we’re all human. And human love stories, whether they’re about gay people or straight people, have a lot more in common than they have differences. Most of us want to find our happily ever after. Most of us have trouble getting there and may even have the misfortune of kissing a few frogs that did not turn into princes along the way. M/m, gay fiction, gay romance (my personal preference) whatever you want to call it, if it centers around two people falling in love, then it’s blind to gender and you really don’t have to defend your reading choices. Tell them that…and tell them that reading or writing about love is about our shared human experience and has very little to do with what’s between our legs, but what’s between our ears. And we all have that in common.

What to tell those who simply cannot know

So you may fall into the camp of someone, for whatever reason, must keep your attendance at a gay-related event on the down-low. I wish the world weren’t a place where this was sometimes necessary, but if it is in your case, you have lots of options (and these you can say without even lying). Tell ‘em you’re attending a fan convention for fiction, a romance convention, a get-together with other readers like you to compare notes and meet your favorite authors. See, the specifics are nobody’s business but your own. Yet, I urge you, if you possibly can, to be open about where you’re going. Come out of the closet! You might be surprised that people are not as judgmental or surprised as you think. And by being open, you bring the possibility of the good news of m/m fiction more out into the world at large.

What to tell people if you’re an author

I can only speak for me, and the answer to that question is easy. I come because I want to connect with my tribe. For each of the four years I’ve been coming to GRL as a featured author, my experience is always the same: it’s like a family reunion. It’s a chance, for almost a week, to be with the people I write for, the people who ‘get’ me and I them, and to connect with others who write what I do and be go fan boy on them. It’s truly a retreat…into a perfect world where everyone likes the same stuff as I do. I am not big on swag or giveaways. My best giveaway, I’ve always thought, is a smile and a hug. Those are the things that give me my biggest return.

And speaking of gay romance


What I think of as my best gay romance–BIG LOVE–comes out on April 4. But you can preorder you copy in ebook here or in paperback here right now!


Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.

But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.



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). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. 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.”


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My Hometown & the Setting for Mute Witness

February 12, 2016


If any of my family or anyone I grew up with reads Mute Witness (published by Dreamspinner’s sister house, DSP Publications and out on February 3, 2016), they’ll know I based the town in the book, Summitville, PA, on my own hometown of East Liverpool, OH.

In the book, I describe Summitville like this:

As Sean drove through the streets of Summitville, with their curves and rises as the concrete mapped out a destination on the hills, he couldn’t help but think what a contrast the little city presented: the beauty of the hills, rising up above the town, tree-covered, the Ohio River twisting through its valley, all scarred by the evidence of human habitation. The houses perched, clinging to the hillsides, most of them in need of paint or repair, the rusting carcasses of cars littering many of the driveways. People, too poor to afford air conditioning, sat on front porch stoops fanning themselves, staring dumbly at the traffic passing their homes. Sean wondered why he even bothered to live there. He was a good, if not great, writer, passable enough to maybe not write the great American novel as he had once dreamed of doing, but adequate enough to at least work at a larger newspaper in someplace like Pittsburgh or maybe even Chicago. But he knew the reason he stayed. And it wasn’t because his roots were here. Nor was it because of Austin, whom he had once figured would be happy to pull up stakes and follow him anywhere. Nor was it because of his job, which valued his writing ability at the majestic sum of $32,000 per year.

No, he stayed because of Jason. To be near his little boy. The only child he would ever have. He wanted to watch his son grow up, to shepherd him to adulthood, to make sure he grew up compassionate….

An article on “East Liverpool and the Unforgiving Economy of Rural Appalachia”, (from 2014) describes East Liverpool today sadly, yet accurately. Just a disclaimer—this little town is where my roots and most of my family and some dear old friends are, so I don’t mean to disparage, but only to illuminate my inspiration for the fictional town of Summitville. I think it’s interesting to see how a kind of grim story arose from these grim surroundings.

But, like the fictional town and the real one, and the book and real life, where hope lives, redemption can arise. Read for yourself and see.


“About 100 miles Southeast of Cleveland, nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, along the Ohio River sits the small city of East Liverpool, Ohio. Once known as the pottery capitol of the world, many of the China and glassware factories have closed, as have the steel mills where many East Liverpool residents once worked. In its heyday during World War II, almost 50,000 people lived in East Liverpool. Today the city’s population tops off at just above 10,000.

“Nearly 30 percent of all residents live below the poverty level. The per capita income is just more than $16,000. The unemployment rate is 13 percent. It’s a city where almost every second or third house seems to be abandoned, and not just abandoned. Some are burnt out. Some are falling down. The locals talk about the incessant and merciless drug traffic. They say dealers have come up to the city from the east coast – having found a robust market for heroin and other opiates. The drug trade wreaks constant havoc on the streets. In late September, five people were shot there in a single night.”


The abuse of a little boy turns a community against a loving gay couple, and nobody comes out of it unscathed.

Sean and Austin have the perfect life: new love, a riverfront home, security. Their love for one another is only multiplied when Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason, visits on the weekends.

And then their perfect world shatters.

Jason goes missing.

When the boy turns up days later, he’s been so horribly abused he’s lost the power to speak. Immediately small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. What was a warm, welcoming community becomes a lynching party out for blood.

As Sean and Austin struggle to stay together amidst innuendo, the very real threat of Sean losing the son he loves emerges. Yet the true villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.

DSP Publications ebook:
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Note: When you buy the paperback from DSP Publications, you get the ebook for FREE.


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). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. 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.”


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Rating Guys: A Primer from Legally Wed (A Guest Post by Rick R. Reed)

September 12, 2015

LegallyWed cover front and back

How do you rate guys? Do you have a system? What kind of man turns your head and what kind makes you simply shrug and say, “meh”?

In my book, Legally Wed (Dreamspinner Press, January 2014), my sort-of “Will and Grace” best friends, Marilyn and Duncan, have developed a unique rating system for identifying who is leer-worthy and who, sadly, is not. The following excerpt details their system. I encourage you to share how you rate men in the comments below—or just share what you think of Marilyn and Duncan’s unique classification system.

Excerpt from Legally Wed by Rick R. Reed (Dreamspinner Press, January 2014)

“What the fuck are you staring at?” Marilyn had strained to turn around in her seat, to try and follow the line of Duncan’s gaze. Marilyn never wanted to miss out if Duncan had spotted a hot guy. Looking out for one another was one of the many ways they cemented their friendship. That, and the way they rated men, using a food system:

Dee. Lish. Us. was the top of the heap, the guys who could stop traffic, open doors, inducing in the viewer heart palpitations. These were men who either were models or could have been, with little effort. The DLU guys were so gorgeous that both Marilyn and Duncan realized—and accepted—they moved on a different plane from mere mortals. Thus, they could never be approached, for to talk to them would risk one being blinded by their magnificence. They saw very few men who actually warranted the DLU label, but when they did, oh boy, did they love to look, in spite of the intimidation their beauty inspired.

Yummy. These guys were the good-looking ones that were still hot, but fell into the realm of the approachable. They could be young or old, tall or short, stocky or thin, hairy or hairless—they could be anything, as long as something about them caught the eye of either Marilyn or Duncan, who had very similar taste in men. If there was a commonality to these men, it was that they were most often regular guys who, more than their good looks, exuded a sense of confidence and masculinity which was immediately apparent and, often, immediately magnetic. Duncan’s sole sexual experience these past several months had been with a yummy man, a shaved head, bearded guy who worked on one of the commuter ferries in town. Duncan thought he had hit pay dirt until he had gone home with the guy and seen his Barbie collection. Oh well, they had spent a pretty amazing night together, one for which Duncan had been long overdue, but he declined when Abbott, as his name was, called to see if Duncan wanted to go along with him to a meeting of his favorite social group, Gays and Dolls, a group of doll-collecting gay men. As lovely as it sounded, Duncan didn’t think the group was for him and probably Abbott wasn’t either.

Edible. Truth was, most guys fell into this category. These were not the men you stopped on the street to admire. These were the run-of-the-mill guys that most people did not notice. But Marilyn and Duncan had found that, if you took the time to really look, you could always find something quirky or wonderful about these men to admire. It might be something as simple as a pair of cool retro glasses that shielded a pair of amazing brown eyes, or a brilliant tattoo-sleeve of dragons or birds running down one manly arm, or perhaps something not easily identified, such as kindness, a genuine warmth that came across in a smile.

Not quite appetizing. While Marilyn used this appellation more often than Duncan, he had to concede she was always spot-on in her estimations. The NQAs were guys who just didn’t appeal. They may not be terribly unattractive in any obvious way, but there was simply something about them that made them disagreeable. For example, a very good-looking man, one who might be a DLU, could become an NQA if he gave off too much of a self-absorbed vibe. Duncan had seen one such situation in a men’s room at a bar once, where a man they had both admired (and Duncan followed into the bathroom, even though he didn’t have to go—hey, he was gay after all) had disappeared. And there, Duncan had witnessed a full-fledged love affair that the guy had—with the mirror. Duncan would later swear to Marilyn he hadn’t even seen Duncan or any of the other men entering the restroom as he adjusted his black hair just so, gazing rapturously at himself, and even, at one point, treating himself to a smile and a wink. Not all NQAs were of this variety, but they all did not appeal, for one reason or another.

Tofu. These were the bottom of the barrel, the flavorless guys, the ones who, sadly, just failed to register at all on their attraction meter. For Duncan, these men were as rare as the DLUs, because he could usually find something worthwhile about a man, be it a strong nose, or a good haircut, or even the way he carried himself across a crowded dance floor. Marilyn was less kind but even she too would admit that very few guys were actually tofu and those that were, well, they probably never noticed them anyway.

“Do you see a DLU?” Marilyn turned back to Duncan, eyes bright with anticipation.

“Well, kind of, in my eyes, anyway.”

“Where?” Marilyn did an almost Linda Blair-like swivel of her head.

Hope the above entices you to want to read more from my latest! More information is just below:

Love comes along when you least expect it.
That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants—a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life—and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.

Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?


Dreamspinner Ebook:

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NOH8RickRick R. Reed Biography
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). 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.”

Stay in touch with Rick

Write to Rick at

Ace Excerpt with Jack Byrne

July 15, 2015






On a lighter note: Australian men and understatement (and another excerpt for you):

“Jesus, the things people do to dogs. It’s disgraceful. They ought to do the same to the owners. But how did you retrain her? Apart from occasionally trying to eat me, she seems sweet now.”
Jake laughed. “You should have seen the look on her face the first time I petted her. She looked at me like I’d lost my mind.”
“Was she savage?”
Jake remembered the snarling beast that had been pulled into the back of his pickup truck in Brisbane by two burly men with lead ropes on either side of her. “She wasn’t too bad. A bit stressed out.”
Damien peered at his face and asked, “Where did you get her?”
“Brisbane—from a car wrecker’s yard that had gone bust.” Jake hadn’t been able to get her off the back of his truck for a week and had to borrow a work car to get to and from work. He had parked the pickup under the carport and put food and water on the truck with her.
“Weren’t you scared of her?”
He remembered feeding her by poking her food bowl along to her with a stick. “Not scared. Respectful.”
“What is it you’re not telling me?”
“She was a bit of a handful, to be quite honest. Took me a while to gain her trust.”
“I know the feeling.”


Rescuing Dogs – the ones they don’t tell you about.

I put Karma, Sally and Bunny in this book because I find it hard to write a book without a dog in it.  I’ve lived all my life with dogs and horses around me, and it would seem strange not to have a furry friend nudging me awake in the morning at some ungodly hour, or greeting me when I come home.  The other day, someone referred to dog rescuers as ‘do-gooders’ and that really burred me up though because… it’s not an easy thing to do.  These dogs often don’t come to us in a good state.  They are often filthy, starving, smelly, horribly stressed and snappy, and generally not nice to know.  It takes a strong stomach and a lot of money, time and work to rehabilitate a dog once it gets that far down.  I rescue German shepherds, Rottweilers and some of the large breeds with bad reps, and I have scars up my arms from where they have bitten me, usually in the first few days of handling them when I’ve had to do all the unpleasant stuff (baths and clipping nails and treating injuries and infections and getting them needles) before they have learned to trust me.  I take my hat off to anyone who has ever rescued a dog, and I will keep writing dogs into my stories.  Of the two I am working on now, Feind Angelical has a huge black German shepherd in it, and of course if you read Taniwha Dreaming you will meet Shivers.

In ‘Ace’ I think Jake’s treatment of the dogs (Sally and Karma) shows that he is not a cold-hearted person, and this is one of the reasons Damien decides to stick around initially, despite being rejected sexually.  So the way he treats his animals becomes a key note in the story.




A Good Sicilian Boy’s First Love #dreamer

June 12, 2015

Dinner at Fiorello's400x600

You probably can’t tell it from my name, but I’m half Sicilian, on my mother’s side. She was a Comparetto. And she was, as is the case with all good Sicilian boys, my first love (and my forever love—she was taken from me by cancer in 2007).

 The excerpt below (and the character of Vito’s mom) was inspired by my own mother and the conversations we would have on the phone.

 Sicilian mothers want two things for their boys—first and foremost, that they eat and second, that they find love….

An Exclusive Excerpt from Dinner at Fiorello’s by Rick R. Reed

Vito went into the living room, where he’d tossed his phone when he came home from his shift. He picked it up and pressed the Home button to bring it to life. He scrolled through his contacts and found the one labeled simply Mother. He tapped the word, and it brought up her picture.

She had once been a beautiful woman, and still was in many ways, defined and elevated by her Sicilian heritage. Her hair, once glossy and black, was now cut short, and it looked dryer. She kept the gray away by having it colored a deep shade of red. But you could still see the girl in her green eyes, still see the strength in her strong chin and broad Italian nose and full lips. He recalled when he had taken the picture, a few years ago, when he had begun work at Fiorello’s and she had come as his guest to dinner. She had been so proud! She had cried when he placed the lasagna with béchamel he made in front of her, not because it was sublime—it was—but because her husband, Johnny, wasn’t there to share it with her. This was a few years ago, and she had just lost him to a heart attack.

Vito shook his head and decided much more thinking like this would defeat the purpose of calling his mom, so he pressed the button that would connect him.

She answered, as she almost always did, on the first ring. And as soon as their hellos were out of the way, she said the same thing she always did. “I was just gonna call you.”

“Isn’t it funny how that works, Mom? Every time I call, you were just gonna call me. Yet my phone never rings.” He laughed to show he was teasing.

“Did you just call to give me a hard time? I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”

“Well, you have to admit, it’s usually the other way around. Isn’t it the parent who’s supposed to bug the kid about keeping in touch?”

“Oh, Vito, is my boy feeling lonely? What made you wanna call me up at the crack of dawn? I could have been sleeping.”

“Oh, come on, we both know Brenda gets you up at four every morning for her breakfast and a tinkle.” Why his mother had named her dog Brenda was a mystery Vito had never been able to unravel.

“She’s a good girl.”

Vito could imagine, and knew he was right, that his mother had the phone tucked between her shoulder and ear and was bending over in her kitchen chair to sweep the little dog up off the linoleum to cuddle her.

“Yes, she’s my baby,” she cooed, confirming what Vito was imagining. He smiled.

“So what’s up? You wanna come down for breakfast? I’ll make you bird’s nests. I baked bread yesterday, and I got some nice roasted peppers to put on top.”

Vito grinned at the mention of the egg dish, thick-sliced bread with a hole hollowed out in the middle for an egg, fried in a cast iron skillet in lots of butter or bacon grease. Not all that healthy, but God, was it comforting. Vito was tempted to throw on some clothes and head out to the western suburb of Cicero, where he had grown up and his mother still lived, just to sit in her kitchen and have her make that for him.

He could practically smell the toasted bread and hear the sizzle of the butter.

“That’s tempting, Ma. But I have to go to work today.”

“So what? You don’t go in until the afternoon, right? They hired that new cook, Elizabeth, right? To take lunches?”

Vito nodded, and when he realized his mother couldn’t see him, said, “Yeah, but I didn’t sleep too good last night, and I probably should take another run at it.”

Cora was quiet for a moment. “You thinking about them again?”

“Ma, I’m always thinking about them.”

“And you always will, son. Just like I always think about my Johnny, your dad. The world got a little darker without him in it. But you know what?”

“What?” Vito asked, even though he knew what his mother was going to say. Despite the fact he had heard this same speech over and over again, he let her say it. It showed she cared, and next to a hug, words like these made Vito feel loved.

“Everybody says it, but it’s true. Life is for the living. You gotta move on, boy. It’s been over a year now, hasn’t it?”

Vito said quietly, “One year, three months, and six days.”

“You have to think about not just the joy they brought into your life, but the joy you brought into theirs. You made them happy. You drove them crazy sometimes! But I know they always felt loved. That counts.”

“I know, I know, Ma.”

“If you need to, you go to church and light a candle for them. You think of them up in heaven, waiting for you. They’re okay. They wouldn’t want you moping around.”

She paused, and Vito could imagine the wheels turning in her head.

“I wanted to do the same thing when your father passed, just shut myself up in the house, crawl under a blanket. For good. But the girls, your aunts, wouldn’t leave me be. They made me come out to bingo on Sundays at the Sons of Italy. They made me go shopping at North Riverside. They even got me to get on a plane to Vegas! Ha! Remember that?” She didn’t wait for her son to answer. “They made me live. You gotta do the same. It’s time.”

At her words, a sudden, unbidden image popped into Vito’s head: Henry, piling dishes up to load into the dishwasher. Strands of his blond hair were glued to his ruddy forehead with sweat. He had stripped off the short-sleeve shirt he had worn in and had on only a ribbed tank that clung to him. He had caught Vito looking and given him a smile. It was a simple moment, but that connection stayed with Vito. It touched his heart. The moment was frozen because it was like they were the only two people in the busy kitchen, for just that fraction of a second.

“You’re right, Ma. You’re always right.”

She scoffed. “Yeah, that’s me. So, speaking of which, you’re off on Sunday. I’m making sewer pipes, sausage, and gravy, and you’re coming over. You can bring somebody.”

“Like Connie and Gabby?” Vito asked, referring to his big dogs.

“Well, I was thinking maybe a nice boy. That would make me really happy.” She was quiet for a moment. “Besides, those two monsters are gonna eat my Brenda for a snack one of these days, I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts.”

“Ma, they’re afraid of Brenda.”

They both laughed. Somehow the little five-pound dog always managed to ride herd on her much bigger “cousins.”

“But I’m serious, Vito. You got anyone you can bring? Seeing anybody? A handsome man like you shouldn’t be by himself.”

And again, Vito thought of Henry. Oh, he’d been “seeing” him, all right. Almost every night for the past two weeks. And then again, in his dreams sometimes. Once he even woke from one of those dreams with come in his shorts, an experience he hadn’t had since he was a boy. He had a feeling he dreamed of Henry because he pushed him away so consciously at the restaurant and even out of his waking thoughts. But his mind refused to let him go.

“No, Ma. I’m not ready to date anyone again.”

“I didn’t even necessarily mean date. But you got friends, don’t you?”

Vito thought sadly, or maybe gratefully, that the answer was no, beyond friends of the four-legged variety. The friends he used to have, in that other life that now seemed to belong to someone else, had all turned away. Not because they hated him or didn’t want to be around him, he knew that much for sure, but because they didn’t want to face his pain, didn’t know what to do with the longing and loss in his eyes, the hurt he wore like an apron. What could they do? What would they say? His life only brought theirs down. So one by one, they stopped seeing him.

He didn’t blame them.

“It’ll just be me and the girls. Is that enough?”

“Oh, let’s not have a pity party here. Remember when you told me you were a fanook?”

“Ma, we don’t use that word. We say gay.”

“Whatever. The point is, do you remember?”

“Yeah. I was twenty. I wrote you a letter.”

“And I cried. And I went to church and lit a candle for you, praying that this gay thing would be ripped out of you.”


“You know it took some adjusting. You weren’t who I thought you were. But so much happened over the next few years. There was—”

And Cora went quiet, her voice stilled for several moments, and Vito knew she was trying to catch her breath, to hold back tears. He knew because his own were springing to the corners of his eyes and running down his face.

In a choked voice, she went on, “I learned that I was wrong. That if Jesus granted my wish and did rip this thing out of you, you wouldn’t be you anymore. And I wouldn’t have had—well, you know.”

“I know. I know.” Vito held a hand to his eyes to stem the flow. “I’ll be there on Sunday, and I’ll bring a nice antipasti. I got some of that good sharp provolone like you like.”

“Okay, son. I gotta go. Brenda’s tap dancing at the back door.”


“And Vito?”


“I love you.”

Vito’s heart gave a little leap. He never, ever doubted his mother loved him, but she seldom said so. It wasn’t her way. She showed it more through hugs and pinches, sometimes too hard, on the cheek, but most of all through her food. Before he had a chance to return the sentiment, though, she had hung up.


Henry Appleby has an appetite for life. As a recent high school graduate and the son of a wealthy family in one of Chicago’s affluent North Shore suburbs, his life is laid out for him. Unfortunately, though, he’s being forced to follow in the footsteps of his successful attorney father instead of living his dream of being a chef. When an opportunity comes his way to work in a real kitchen the summer after graduation, at a little Italian joint called Fiorello’s, Henry jumps at the chance, putting his future in jeopardy.

Years ago, life was a plentiful buffet for Vito Carelli. But a tragic turn of events now keeps the young chef at Fiorello’s quiet and secretive, preferring to let his amazing Italian peasant cuisine do his talking. When the two cooks meet over an open flame, sparks fly. Both need a taste of something more—something real, something true—to separate the good from the bad and find the love—and the hope—that just might be their salvation.


Dreamspinner ebook
Dreamspinner paperback


LANDFALL blog takeover – a hot beach excerpt. Sun and sand!

April 5, 2015

Kate Pavelle here, with Sean and Asbjorn on their tropical vacation. Since some of you were a bit chilled from my earlier out-take, here’s a taste of the salty warmth. The sun isn’t the only thing that burns a lot hotter down there, too. (Find the book at Comment on this post to win one of my free e-books (your choice which one!)


The good part about living on the beach was the ability to stumble into the waves and wash off right after making love. Sean smiled at the memory of having done exactly that. The bad part about living at the beach was bright sun in your eyes if you happened to have rolled from under the tarp overnight.
Sean stood and stretched. It promised to be another beautiful day, with nary a cloud in the sky. He could hear the crashing of the surf nearby. A brisk morning breeze rose, cooling his skin and raising goose bumps. The sudden chill alerted him to the fullness of his bladder.
A full bladder while camping on a deserted island meant returning his morning water into the ocean. And if he was down there already, he figured he might as well catch some fish for breakfast. They would still be in the shallows now, and if not, he’d check out the reef.
Sean pulled on his swim trunks and strapped his knife to the outside of his left calf. He checked his fishing spear, picked up his facemask, snorkel, and his flippers, and shook Asbjorn’s shoulder. “Rise and shine, sleeping beauty! I’m going fishing. Just so you know.”
“Be careful,” Asbjorn grumbled. “Sharks feed in the morning.”
“Don’t forget to drink some water,” Asbjorn called out.
Sean rolled his eyes but bit back a mother-hen comment as he pulled a lukewarm bottle of water out of a plastic bin. He drank some, leaving plenty for Asbjorn. They would both need it.
He skipped down the sand with a grin on his face. What a night, and what an early morning! The sky to the east still had that sweet pastel tinge that told him it was barely an hour after sunrise. What hunger, too, and he didn’t want to face another peanut butter and jam sandwich anytime soon. He waded in hip-deep, where the surf no longer tried to shred the skin off his legs and where the waves only bobbed him up and down, and looked up and down the shoreline. If he swam out to the still line of breakers, he’d find the reef they’d had to steer past on their way in. There was fish to be had out there.
Sean emptied his bladder, put on flippers and a mask, and seated the snorkel in his mouth. He set the spear gun against his hip and stretched the rubber band above the spear, checking the line and clicking the safety on. Then he pushed off into the mild waves, facedown, and looked around. The water under him was clear enough for a close shot, and he did see a short silver fish with a forked black tail dart away. It wasn’t big enough to eat, though. He moved on.
The propelled himself through the water with languid kicks. There was no need to hurry. This was the time to steady his breathing and slow his heart rate. The calmer he was, the longer his breath would last, and the longer he could stay underwater.
The reef sat in about fifteen feet of water, just as he expected. Sean took a few deep breaths, looking at the still bottom. At this depth he could no longer see the distracting flickers of light and shadow, of the mesmerizing wave pattern that had held his attention in the shallows. The water around him was clear, receding into blue mist farther away. He filled his lungs with air and submerged with just the gentlest, slowest flick of his flippers. The world under the waves was silent, and the temperature was cool, but not so cold that he’d wish for a wetsuit.
Sean scanned all directions for company. There were no sharks, but he saw a flat fish. The reef was to his right, jagged, alive with bright colors and fleeting movement. Blue and yellow angelfish glided by as colorful little fish played in the anemones. Some were big enough to eat, but too pretty by far, and it occurred to Sean that he knew absolutely nothing about which species might be endangered and which were fair game.
This was not, after all, the same as spearfishing with his father and sisters in Micronesia.

LANDFALL DSP takeover – YOU won a special prize!

April 5, 2015

Kate Pavelle with “Landfall” here ( This last book of the Fall Trilogy revolves around the following premise: Sean won a powerboat in a mail-order sweepstakes, and gave it to Asbjorn. The catch: the boat wasn’t “as advertised.” Those “claim your special prize” offers are still around. You win something, a camera or a free stay in a resort, and you go to claim it, but they sit you down for a time-share vacation resort sales pitch. So, tell me. What was the most interesting or most enticing thing you’ve been offered to lure you out like that? Answer this question, and your name gets entered into a free e-book drawing! (My book of your choice.)

My special wins: pens, watches, “free 4 day vacation” at various resorts, a camera… and yes, my parents once won a motorboat.

Your turn!

LANDFALL takeover – Sean was so sick of winter…

April 5, 2015


Kate Pavelle here, gleeful over the fact that “Landfall” is out! Despite the sunny cover, it starts with the unrelenting winter most of us have experienced. Here’s a little out-take:

Sean shivered against the icy wind and turned the collar of his parka all the way up. It almost met his knit watch cap, the one he’d borrowed from Asbjorn before they left for his first sword class. He sure hoped kenjutsu was vigorous and would warm him up. He hoped Margaret would pull them all into her kitchen and offer them tea, or even better, hot chocolate. Her husband was very kind to give him and Asbjorn a sword lesson on a Sunday. Their school schedule was crazy and they haven’t seen their friends – and yes, Ken-sensei and Margaret counted as friends – in weeks.
“Come on, I got to show you something,” Asbjorn said as they trudged from their car across the unshoveled driveway. “It’s in the back.”
Sean grumbled as he righted his sword bag that was slung over his shoulder. It didn’t sit right over his padded and quilted coat, and the carry strap kept slipping off his shoulder.
“Better be good,” he said, but he let Asbjorn nudged his elbow off the roofed walkway that connected the garage to the house and onto an expanse of pristine snow. Sean knew there was a flagstone path down there somewhere, down under the white stuff that reached past the top of his boots. The huffs of their breath and the icy kiss of snowflakes against his cheeks was punctuated by the crunching snow unfer their boots. He tuned it out. They were breaking path where no one has walked before. Like explorers, forging on through a wild and exotic place.
Ten more feet, and they came level with the back of the garage on the right and the house on the left.
Sean stopped. Asbjorn was right behind him, not quite touching but close enough to feel.
Silence descended.
No footsteps through the snow, no labored breathing, no second thoughts. Even the wind stilled in the pines across the yard.
Sean turned to Asbjorn and glanced up four inches, meeting his gaze with a questioning quirk of his eyebrow.
“Go ahead,” Asbjorn whispered. A small, excited smile tugged on the corners of his mouth.
Sean registered his husband’s open jacket and bare head, the way his blond hair collected the stray snowflakes, the casual love of cold that let him ignore the miserable winter weather. True to his Viking ancestors, was Asbjorn.
Sean looked around. He listened to the silence interrupted by the click-clack sound of something… mechanical. But what, and why?
Few more steps through the snow. He tripped over something and righted himself just in time. There were boulders around, he recalled. Boulders and statues and stone lanterns, and the path meandered a bit, this way, then that. The white colonial house was to his left. A sliding door led out to a wooden porch and the steps led down into the Japanese garden. The pond in the middle of the lawn was now frozen and covered with snow. He remembered all that, but he didn’t remember a stone cistern, rectangular in shape, that edged the side of the porch.
A sudden gust of wind threw a spray of fine and bitter snow into his face, blinding him. Sean suppressed a curse and focused on the clean, fresh taste of ice in his mouth. He wiped his eyes with his gloved hand. How come snow had a flavor at all? It wasn’t at all like the woodsmoke that tinged the air around them.
Right ahead of him, past graceful mounds of white snow and blue shadows, was a bamboo fountain. A trickle of water poured into a bamboo rod, mounted on a hinge. It filled, overbalanced, and fell.
The fall splashed the water into the cistern, one that was now frozen and snowed over and covered with an ice sculpture of its very own. It hit something on the way down, too – something loud – before it swung up, offering the empty end to the brave trickle of water that made its way through a surreal shell of ice.
And so it went.
“It will work as long as the water runs,” Asbjorn whispered right by his ear. Sean felt his warmth despite the wind that had picked up again, despite the cap that covered him up. The heat was in the tone of his voice, in the lean of his body that angled toward him.
Always toward him.
“Not even the ice can stop it. As long as the flows keeps going, the fountain’s okay, and the water’s okay, and the fish beneath the ice can breathe.” Yet there was more to Asbjorn’s words than a mere explanation of how the shishi-odoshi fountain worked.
A slow quarter-turn on his heel, and Sean’s face was close enough to Asbjorn to see every hair of unshaven scruff on his cheeks. Lips soft despite the cold, pink with life and promise – Sean leaned in and brushed his own against them in a tender kiss.
Asbjorn pulled him in. Heat transferred through all the parts that touched, negating the icy wind that threatened to freeze their lips together.
The warm, wet tongue, a hint of peppermint gum and laughter and something that was just Asbjorn. Sean pressed back, squeezing Asbjorn’s waist to his own, lips bruising, the accidental click of teeth, the sensuous pass of tongue against a tongue.
The cold disappeared. There was just the empty, white silence and the deer-scare water fountain and the kiss… oh. The kiss.
A new, swooshing sound entered Sean’s senses. He dismissed it. Warm lips, cold scruff that scratched his frost-pinked cheeks. The kiss.
“Hey, you two! Margaret says you’ll freeze out there!”
They broke for air and turned toward Ken, leaning out the kitchen window, his lined face grinning with mischief. Yet the cold, dry wind failed to chill Sean’s wet lips.
Not even the ice wind could stop the flow of warmth in his veins.
“Hey Ken,” Asbjorn nodded, pulling Sean close to him again. “We were just admiring your fountain.”
“Uh-huh,” Ken said with a quirk of his eyebrows. “So you want tea, or hot chocolate? Margaret says I have to defrost you before I put a sword in your hand.”

Find “Landfall” here:

LANDFALL – DSP blog takeover with Kate Pavelle

April 5, 2015

Hello, my name is Kate Pavelle and I’ll be chatting with you about the last book of the Fall Trilogy, “Landfall.” It came out on April 3rd and I’m so excited to share the cover. Look, a tropical beach! After a winter like this, we all deserve some sun and sand, and scenery that’s easy on the eyes! You can find “Landfall” here:

Wrapping it up folks!

March 27, 2015

One of the fun things about writing a book is that I can make playlists for it or identify unofficial theme songs. For “The Serpent and the Angel,” there is a song by Falconer called “Wings of Serenity” that is such a perfect fit, it’s eerie. If Tobias could sing, that would be his song for Angel.


Here it is and it is work safe:

You can find the lyrics here:


I love his voice, I love the lyrics, I love the music… everything! This is the sort of music I listen to frequently.


I don’t always find a theme song or a love song from one character to another, but when I do, it’s magical!!


That about wraps it up for me this time around. I’ll probably be back when “Predator and Prey” is ready to be released. One of my favorite things about writing is coming up with the titles for the stories. Sometimes I already know the title even before I start to write and other times I have to edit the story a few times before the title reveals itself. It can be the most frustrating part, yet also the most gratifying especially when I come up with that perfect title.


I enjoy this title because of the contrast—”serpent” often means evil and “angel” often means good. But nothing is ever so black and white, there are always shades of grey (and no, I’m not talking about that book).


May dragons guard your dreams,