Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Interview and Review

New interview: AND new SuburbaNights review:

Looking Back at the Music of 2008

As you may know I am a huge music slut. It is one of those things that convinces me that there is more to our existence than this life. If there is a Divine, music is the Divine's language. At the end of every year I count down my top 10 favorite records from the previous 12 months. I thought it might be interesting to revisit some of these countdowns, starting with 2008. I have kept a countdown since 2005, but have lost those lists. Looking back, in all honesty, there are a few of these albums that would not make said list if I were doing it today. 

Top 10: 2008

@#%&*! Smilers, Aimee Mann
Mann’s best collection since 1999’s Bachelor No. 2: or, The Last Remains of the Dodo, and that’s saying a lot. There’s an apathetic wit to her voice that simply cannot be copied. She can make something that might come off as silly or mundane in the hands of another songwriter, and turn it into a profound statement of regret. From the daring of a speed junkie (“Freeway”) to the desparation of the bored and lost (“Looking for Nothing”, “It’s Over”) to the warped narrative of a fairytale (“Borrowing Time”, originally written for Shrek 3), hers is the voice of America’s fumble into the 21st century.

Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends, Coldplay
They might be the most important rock band since U2. Coldplay constantly offers intelligent rock music that’s as great to listen to as it is to think about. They have never put out a bad CD. Parachutes is still my favorite, but this one comes damn close. They tried a different route with this one: not as radio friendly, with massive shifts in temperament mid song. But it works. And Chris Martin is a poet. “Viva la Vida” is as fantastic a political song as I’ve ever heard, and “Death and All His Friends” is at first mournful and then inspiring.

Promised Land, Dar Williams
Dar’s best work since 2000’s The Green World. She tackles everything from hypocrisy (“Buzzer”) to the environment (“Go to the Woods”), but as always with Dar, the strength is in the storytelling. And she’s a fantastic storyteller with a real gift for the rhyme. Her ode to reluctant but necessary personal change “It’s alright” hits very close to home, and “Holly Tree”, the tale of a farm widow, is a heartbreaker. There’s also a knockout remake of “Midnight Radio” from Hedwig & the Angry Inch.

A Larum, Johnny Flynn
I’m a fan of Nick Drake and Alexi Murdoch and this young fella fits right in there with those masters. His songs aren’t as plaintive, though. There is something of that in his voice, a Celtish wail that’s perfect for a folk song. But he’s got a snarky wit to him as well. Songs like “The Wrote & the Write” and “Tickle Me Pink” are showstoppers in my opinion. Listening to this CD makes me think of one of my favorite books, Jamie O’Neill’s At Swim Two Boys. Maybe it’s the Joycian undercurrent.

Day & Age, The Killers
Their previous CD, Sawdust, a collection of B-sides and rarities, was okay. Not great. With this CD I think they’ve very nearly topped Hot Fuss. There’s everything from synth (“Human”) to David Bowie-like glam rock (“Neon Tiger”) to just plain rock brilliance (“Spaceman”). It’s dance-inducing and fun, and in the end isn’t that all you want from a Killers album? Well, besides a picture of Brandon Flowers on the sleave.

This is the Life, Amy MacDonald
What a knockout voice MacDonald has. I heard “This is the Life” on Graham Norton and had to get this CD. She’s only 19, but she can write a good tune. Her lyrics are way ahead of her age. Finally, a teenage rocker I can get behind. And did I mention her voice? Like Brandi Carlile and Neko Case, MacDonald’s is a voice that haunts you whether she’s singing about an infatuation with Jake Gyllenhaal (“L.A.”) or ripping on certain aiimless soccer wives (“Footballer’s Wife”).

Our Bright Future, Tracy Chapman
I’m so glad to see her back in form. This is my favorite Chapman record since Telling Stories. Her soothing vocals lead us through the troubles of our times, and behind those vocals there’s a hint that everything will be okay in the end. “I Did it All” ponders a life lived to the fullest and its consequences, and the gospel-sounding “Save Us All” questions religious identity. It’s fantastic writing.

Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst
Speaking of poets (and I did), I am dumbfounded by this guy everytime he releases something. It’s unfair that he has such muses at his command. Unfair! I don’t think I’m overstating when I say the guy is brilliant. This is his first solo record, but under Bright Eyes he has crafted some of the most personal songs I have ever heard. He keeps it up here with the easy-going road trip ode “Moab”, the clever and fun “I Don’t Want to Die (in a Hospital)”, and I get chills on the last stanza of “Danny Callahan.” I thought that song was going in a completely different direction until I heard those last few lines. They put a lump in me ol’ throat.

All That I Intended To Be, Emmylou Harris
Girl can sing a sad song. She’s the best at them. And this collection has thirteen of them. Nothing beats her one-two punch of Wrecking Ball and Red Dirt Girl (so far), but this isn’t trying to reach those heights. These are simpler songs, more along the lines of Emmylou’s earlier stuff. Her remake of Tracy Chapman’s “All That You Have is Your Soul” sounds as if it was written for her. Her fallen angel voice fills in every inch of that song. And in “Sailing Around the Room” dying actually doesn’t sound half bad. In fact, it sounds kinda gorgeous!

Oracular Spectacular, MGMT
This is the most consistently original CD I heard all year. Everything about it – instrumentation, vocals, writing, and song production – is so different than most of the stuff out there. It’s a psychedelic throwback with modern slang. In “Time to Pretend” the lead singer ponders getting high on heroin and fucking beautiful models, not giving two shits about the future. It’s one of the most nihilistic, yet undeniably catchy songs ever conceived.

And one to Grow on:

Volume One, She & Him
Zooey Deschanel sings lead in this duo (M. Ward is the other half). She sounds like something straight out of the 1960s, sometimes edging toward Motown, others with a more country flair a la Patsy Cline. It’s groovy stuff, relaxing and very “California.” And just for shits and giggles, go to Youtube and watch the video for “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” It’s a hoot.

Favorite CD not from 2008 that I bought or received this year:

South of Delia, Richard Shindell (2007)
This collection of remakes is a gorgeous showcase for Shindell’s haunting, ghostly voice. He’s a storyteller and he’s picked some humdingers to tell. My favorites: Jeffrey Foucault’s “Northbound 35” where he sings plaintively and quite profoundly “Grace is just the measure of a fall”; Bob Dylan’s “Senor (Tales of Yankee Pride)”; Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)”; and Josh Ritter’s amazing ode to struggle “Lawrence, KS.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

EXCERPT: SuburbaNights

A naughty little excerpt from my newest...

“EXCUSE me,” said the burly man as he stood in the open garage doorway. He was dressed in a brown delivery uniform that threatened to cut off circulation to his thick arms and legs. His face had a nicely trimmed dark beard, and he wore a brown hat.

Cliff had been moving boxes in the garage. He was dressed in a tank top and tiny useless blue jean shorts. He realized this was not the weather for such attire (his nipples were deadly from the chill), but the shorts just made him feel so damn sexy. His ass ate them up.

“Can I help you?” Cliff said. “A bit late to be making deliveries, isn’t it?” He looked the bearded man up and down. It was a familiar game. They were muscle men sizing each other up.

“I’m new,” the man said. “I got lost a while back. I was wondering if you might be able to help me.”

Cliff had seen this film before. He had been in this film before. And he loved it. “Sure. I can help.” He didn’t smile. He knew to keep it impersonal.

Cliff reached into the glove department of David’s car and pulled out a road map. He walked to the tool table slowly, letting his mass do the talking, and spread the map over the table as he bent over and spread his legs. He looked over his shoulder and gave the deliveryman admittance.

“What’s your name?” Cliff asked.

The deliveryman approached and stood just behind him. “Rock.”

“Of course it is.”

Cliff arched his ass slightly so that it was just past irresistible.

“Listen, man,” said Rock, “I’m straight. I just want directions.”

“Do you?” Cliff asked, loosening the jean cut-offs and letting them fall to the floor. Rock began breathing harder, looking angry.

Cliff backed his ass into the bulge in Rock’s pants, then moved his prized possession up and down the deliveryman’s package.

“I want that,” Cliff said. “I want that in me.”

“I told you,” said Rock, “I’m straight.”

“That’s not what your cock is saying. Shove it inside me, bitch.”

That tipped it. It made the deliveryman furious. In a frenzy, he began unbuttoning his pants. “You want this?” he said as his cock fell out and hit Cliff’s ass with a smack. “Fine. I’ll give it to you, you filthy whore. I’m gonna tear your goddamn ass apart.”

Rock grabbed Cliff’s shoulders with one hand and played around with Cliff’s hole with the other, pretending more than once as if he was going to relentlessly drive his dick inside, head to balls, only to let it slide between Cliff’s cheeks. Once he went as far as to get the tip of the head in the hole before ducking out. The teasing was driving Cliff crazy.

“Fuck me,” Cliff said. “Just fuck me!”

Finally, Rock pried Cliff open and slowly sank inside him. Cliff’s knees buckled from the force. He let out a cry as Rock—a straight man, no less—pounded his man-pussy like he was a pro in the League of Man-Pussy Pounders. If Rock had a porn name, it would have been Jack Hammer. Cliff could hardly see straight.

“Take it!” Rock said. “Take it all! Your hot man ass will never again tempt an innocent straight man.”

“Yeah. Teach me a lesson!”

“I’m taking one for the team!”

“Me too!”

Rock grabbed the two globes of Cliff’s ass and pulled them apart. He stuck his thumbs into the edges of Cliff’s hole so he could get his dick farther in, and he rutted like a beast, roaring and drooling as he went.

“What the hell is going on in here?”

There was a pause in the fucking. Everything was still. David stood at the garage door.

“Honey,” Cliff said, breathless and sweaty and unable to move from being so heavily penetrated, “I can explain.”

“I don’t want to hear it!” David yelled. He reached over and shut the garage door. “But I am going to teach you a lesson.”

He walked toward Cliff and Rock, undoing his own pants.

“Honey, no!” cried Cliff. “Not the… doublefuck! I’ll never survive!”

“Shut up, bitch!” David said.

He crawled atop the table so that he straddled Cliff. His own ass was a well-toned piece of art.

“Make room for me, deliveryman,” he said. “I’m coming in! Stretch him out.”

“My poor beautiful ass!” Cliff yelled as he was pounded by both men, his asshole being stretched beyond all recognition. Oh, the humanity!

The garage was nearly shaken to the ground by all the commotion happening inside of it. The hollering and savage cursing, the cries of mercy and of more! were punctuated at last by a great caterwaul that caused neighbors to look out their windows and lock their doors. Afterward, Cliff, David, and the deliveryman lay in a heap on the garage floor. There would be quite a clean-up.

Cliff wrapped his arms around David. “Thank you, baby,” he said.

“Happy anniversary,” said David, and he gave Cliff a kiss.

Just then came an obtrusive knock. David rose, pulled on his pants, and hit the button to the garage door. A man dressed in similar fashion as Rock but without the beard stood with a lascivious grin.

“I seem to have lost my way,” this new deliveryman said.

David looked at Cliff, who was grinning.

“You got me one too?” David said. “Aw, baby! You shouldn’t have.”

“Happy anniversary,” Cliff said. “Now, the two of you get in here. Let’s have some fun.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Summer of Ice & Fire

I have become obsessed with George R. R. Martin's gorgeous literary series A Song of Ice & Fire. Quite frankly - and I'm not the first to say it - it's the best fantasy since Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. There be so many amazing characters therein, more fleshed out than you will find in any Pulitzer Prize winner, enough political intrigue to entice the Washington Post, and - oh, yeah - dragons! There be dragons and witches and Faceless Men and battles that would make Peter Jackson jizz in his hobbit pants. It's breathtaking stuff.

I've been reading Martin all summer. Books one through five of a soon-to-be seven book series. I cannot put these books down, and at near or over 1000 pages each, I am seeing lords and ladies in my sleep. The first four books I bought came in one of those paperback sets so the print is teeny weenie and my eyeballs are a lovely shade of red. The HBO series based on the books, Game of Thrones (the title of the first book), is just as enthralling, with some wonderful writing, stunning sets, and perfect performances, especially from the great Peter Dinklage. It also has the coolest opening of any show on TV. I bow at the altar of Martin. His descriptive prose, while off-putting to some, is perfect for the fantasy genre. He's describing a world none of us have ever seen before. He needs to be descriptive. He is a master and his work will be read a hundred years from now.


As much as I love his writing and his style there is one thing that irks me. These books are filled with sex. That, of course, doesn't bother me. This is a grown up fantasy series after all. There are no Yellow Brick Roads, talking mice, or gateway wardrobes. There are pirates, but they're more prone to rape you and then cut out your tongue rather than chase you and your pixie around some island. Martin is very explicit with his sex scenes. There's not a lot of romance, but there is quite a bit of the knocking of the boots. Male/female couplings are, of course, present, as are a couple of intense lesbian scenes involving key players in the tale (with wet, dripping vaginas, I might add...ew), yet the male gay characters don't get so much as a kiss. In fact, their relationships are implied rather than shown, and that implication is lost if the reader is not looking for it. It is suggested in the books that Lord Renly and the Knight of Flowers are lovers, but the reader isn't privy to any affection between the two. The HBO series deals more explicitly with their relationship. The same is true for Lord Connington, an older gay lord and a very interesting character. One line implies he is gay, but that's all we get. There are other minor characters who we are told prefer the ween to the vagina, but we don't get any proof. Prove it, I say! I'm not saying I want a whole POV chapter revolved around a game of "hide the sausage" - this isn't erotica, after all - but a sweet romantic kiss wouldn't be too much to ask, would it?

The truth is, I believe Martin would be absolutely fine with writing scenes of affection between two men. I can tell that in his writing. It's the fantasy audience and the publisher that might be holding him back from doing so. Fantasy and sci-fi readers have a strange history of not being as open-minded as you would think when it comes to sex or romance. Remember, Star Trek never had a single gay character in any one of its 465 different series (and no, the Dax episode does not count. She was a slug!). For some reason the fantasy genre is not the most accepting of same-sex lovin'. That is changing, and I believe it's changing quickly, but it strikes me as bizarre that that barrier has remained standing as long as it has.

Still, Martin is an amazing writer. The third book in the series, A Storm of Swords, is now on my list of the 100 greatest books I've ever read. It's that damn good. If you're a fantasy fan, you will love these books. Hell, if you're a reader at all, you'll love these books. I cannot praise them enough. I'm going to have a hard time finding something to read after I'm through with the fifth book (I've only 100 pages to go) and an even harder time with the withdrawal and the waiting for books six and seven. Seven hells! I haven't been this obsessed with something since LOST.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

EXCERPT: She's Come Undone

'She's Come Undone' is a short of mine that has amassed a nice little following. I have gotten messages from mothers of children with disabilities and messages from those seen as outsiders, and damn, it feels good to hear from them. Available through Amazon or Untreed Reads.


Julie had come close to the edge a few times. Like a ship, a person can tell when they’re sinking. Their eyes go askew. There were two times in particular she often thought about. One was, of course, the incident in the classroom; the one that cost her her career. That was painful. But the other was much worse because it was still fresh and new.

She was giving Betty a bath. It was late in the evening. Julie always sang to Betty when she was bathing her. This seemed to soothe the child’s worries, though it would never take them away. Betty had a sharp mind even if her body was dulled and broken. The water was warm and Julie always liked these moments of serenity with her daughter. They felt right in place. Betty had lovely porcelain skin, and fine silk hair. A homecoming queen for certain.

There was a crash from the living room. The sound jolted Julie and Betty from their calm. Betty’s eyes flew up to meet her mother’s in fright and concern. Julie hushed her, and sat her securely up against the side of the bathtub. The rubber mat would keep her from slipping down into the water.

Julie ran to the living room. The window had been smashed to pieces again. On the couch, where it had landed noiselessly, was a bully’s cliché in the form of a brick. Julie approached it slowly, as if it were a grenade, and read the scrawled note attached:

“Chicken Legs Bitch!”

She let the brick fall from her hand back onto the couch and walked slowly, legs and lip trembling, back to Betty in the bathroom. She wanted to scream, to cry, to talk. Anything, or at least something. She imagined throwing a fit. Hitting the walls and breaking portraits. Cussing until her voice gave out.

She stood at the door of the bathroom, to the side and out of the light so that Betty would not see her, and waited there. Perhaps if she waited long enough there would be some give in the bath mat or Betty would assert her independence and try to clean herself. Julie wondered what noises a paralyzed person made as they drowned. Would Betty’s muscles, by some miracle, awaken and flail for air? Or would she merely sink in silent terror?

Paralysis was true loneliness. Merciful gods do not exist in that state.

It was only a second. The thoughts were too dark for Julie to dwell on them for very long. But she had thought them, and they would be the most piercing images she had ever imagined in her life. Greater and more profound than any fiction ever read or taught.

She composed herself, wiped her face, and walked back into the bathroom with a smile.

“It was nothing, Sweetie,” she said in response to Betty’s questioning eyes. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”

The check Gerald had just given her fluttered as a breeze passed her hand. Chicken Legs Bitch, she thought. I am a chicken. A big mother hen. But can’t I change? Is it so late that I can’t change? Maybe I could be a wolf. Maybe I could have a growl as deep and ferocious as any.

Julie remembered she had been in class teaching when Gerald came in to tell her (his whisper voice was non-existent) that Betty had become a biter. There was a smattering of snickers from Julie’s students. Gerald gave them a stare, which silenced them immediately.

As Julie walked back to her home with the check in her hand, she couldn’t help but think on how embarrassed she had been all her life. By everything. Nothing ever changed. She was to ridicule like white on rice. But, as always, she would smile through it. Her smile, as frail and uncomfortable an expression as ever existed, somehow held up the world. One of these days it would break, though. Like it had that once when…

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Me: The Story of a Fall

Okay, here goes. I have been asked by readers about the full extent of my condition, how it happened, etc. It’s a painful thing to address and recall, but I realize it’s also good for me to talk about it. Plus, while it bores me, people seem fascinated with my story. (You'd be surprised how many new readers I get after I talk about my ordeal; if I'm stuck with this disease, then I'm gonna exploit the hell out of it).

Cavernous himangiomas of the kind I have are classified as a “rare disease.” Of the percentage of people who have angiomas of the brain (which is a small percentile) only 1% of this group have them on the brain stem like me. READ: I am super special. Unbeknownst to me, I grew up with something that resembles a raspberry on my medulla. When I was in Australia and discovered I had this condition the doctor at the Prince of Wales hospital told me to just let it shrink. He was a great neurologist, the best in Sydney apparently, but I was the first case of cavernous himangioma he had come across in his long career, so I can’t blame him for not knowing exactly what route to take. We were both in the dark.

About me: Before all the problems began I was a very active guy. I’d never spent day one in the hospital, and was never on my butt inactive for more than an hour (those hours being courses). I loved to travel and experience other cultures and meet new people. (I need to have someone with me when I fly now, because it’s just too much for my vertigo.) I was also an amateur bodybuilder, all natural. That was a mistake...I should have juiced up till I was as big as a house. What? WHAT?? Don't look at me like that.

In the winter of 2003 I was tackled by an intoxicated (some might say, closeted) acquaintance at a party and fell backward, hitting my head on the corner of a brick wall. It was only a few weeks later, when I was in grad school in Australia, that I noticed significant weakness in my right side, nausea and a strange disorientation and imbalance. I was unNERVED to say the least. Get it? Un-NERVED...Hehe.

At Prince of Wales I had a CT scan and was told I had cavernous himangiomas. (By the way, when I went to pay for said scan I was told it was going to be expensive and I was then handed a bill for...are you ready for this? ...$250. I nearly wet myself in excitement! 250 for something that in the States would cost thousands.) My father, a brother and a sister also had/have this condition. My father passed away from a stroke in 1993 around the time himangiomas were just being differentiated from MS. (There is still not a great deal of study on the condition.) I knew I was susceptible to it, but, perhaps in denial, I wanted to think my deficits were from the fall I had. A brain bruise or something that would clear. (One of the many doctors here in the States told me just that; another said my imbalance was caused by an inner ear infection and put me on antibiotics. Morons.)

 My brother and sister have their angiomas elsewhere in their brains. These used to cause them seizures, but are now under control with meds. I have never had a seizure and have never taken any medication for the himangiomas.

I flew back to the States and got better through physical therapy, though I never seemed to fully recover. The imbalance and weakness were ever present, and the symptoms varied in magnitude from day to day. I had another serious brain bleed over the next couple of years and had even more therapy. Finally, in August of 2005 I found I was having a hard time breathing, walking, jerkin' it, or doing much of anything. I was moved out of my apartment and back to my childhood home. In a matter of two weeks I had gone from getting around on my own to having to use a wheel chair with very little use of my arms and legs. My doctors at the Mayfield Clinic in Cincinnati, Ohio told me it was either immediate surgery or death. I told them I'd get back to them. Two days later I had brain surgery. They resected 90% of the himangioma that was strangling my medulla like Joan Crawford on Christina, leaving the remaining 10% only because when they touched it my legs moved a little. They didn’t feel comfortable with taking that bit out. There was a tiny hole placed in the surrounding region so that when it did bleed again (which it has) the blood wouldl escape into the rest of my body and not cause any huge problems. I have 4 other himangiomas in other areas of my brain, but I am told they are calcified and pose no danger. Pussies.

My recovery was much quicker than anyone expected. I went into a rehab hospital in New Albany, Indiana but they were doing nothing for me. (Seriously. I was out of bed at the most half an hour a day.) So, in three weeks I checked myself out; a week after that I was walking; a month after that I was back in the gym. When I went for my checkup two months post-surgery the doctors were astonished at my recovery, having told me at the outset I would most likely be in a wheelchair for up to six months. I felt like quite the superstar in the office. Every time I would get ready to leave with my mom (I still don’t drive, another casualty of this experience), the doctors would bring someone else in to see my recovery. 

I have been such a huge fan of fitness since I was a teenager, I’m sure that had something to do with the speed of my recovery. Still, I am told that it can take up to ten years for a complete recovery from surgery. Then again, I might never recover completely. There go my dreams of opening the first all male nekkid dance show in Macchu Piccu.

The surgery kept me alive, but it has not helped the deficits that the himangiomas caused. I’ve tried everything: reiki, acupuncture, cranio sacral therapy, and while they definitely have their merits, none has really helped me physiologically speaking. But I will continue to search. I'm like Indiana Jones that way. Just like him. I even have a whip...

But the experience has taught me a great deal as well. I am in a much better place emotionally and spiritually than I was when I was healthy. I have also accomplished quite a bit and found direction. Before “the fall” I had no real idea what I was doing with my life, and though I had always known I was a decent writer, I kept putting my novel-writing off for a later date. If the accident hadn’t happened I don’t know if I’d ever had done a thing about it. Now, I have a small but very loyal fan base who ADORE me. ADORE me!! And who can blame them, really? I am pretty adorable. I also think I’m more focused on the positive than ever before, and much closer to my family. Strange how that happened.

And as far as my symptoms go - the vertigo and weakness - well, they make for good character traits when I'm writing. And the want, the desire to be well again, that's something I would have never known if I hadn't had that fall. With it came empathy and compassion and one hell of a good sense of humor. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SuburbaNights Released Today! (Excerpt)

ON SALE NOW!! Remember, too, Dreamspinner Press is offering a great deal:

This is a big deal! From midnight July 11th - that's THIS Wednesday - until midnight July 15th Dreamspinner Press has one hell of a great deal going on in promotion of my newest addition to the Jasper Lane series, SuburbaNights. Order SuburbaNights from the Dreamspinner site and get SubSurdity (Book 1) for free, AND get Suburbilicious(Book 2) for 25% off. It's for those five days only, so if you want it you got  to be ON THE BALL!!


The Chapter With the Magic Christians

“OH, THAT Terrence! I could just wring his neck!”

Melinda Gold paced furiously back and forth on the deck, her hands clenched tight, as Cassie Bloom listened. It was just the pair of them this afternoon at Cassie’s magnificent home. It was late October, but a warm, glowing day. Both women were dressed casually and comfortably. Cassie had a pair of white-framed sunglasses perched atop her short golden hair. Melinda wore a trendy blue cashmere top.

“Leave it to Terrence to ruin everything! It had all been so perfect until he showed up. The park was lovely, so quiet and peaceful. Things might have even become romantic if given the chance. My date—you remember Mr. Lintrope?—he and I were sitting by the duck pond in a nice secluded spot away from the jogging paths. The flowers and trees and birds decorated the scene for us. And of course, the meal I made last night for our date today was triumphant, if I do say so.”

“Mr. Lintrope?” Cassie interrupted. “The librarian?”

Melinda stopped pacing long enough to give Cassie a warning stare. “Yes, the librarian! There’s nothing wrong with librarians. They’re somewhat respectable, anyway. I think he would have brought some stability back into my life. Not that I’ll ever know now. But he would have been good for me. Sure, there were some of his quirks that I didn’t care for. We’d definitely need to work on the nose hair issue, but….”

She shook her head, regaining control of her narrative. She pinned a strand of loose hair behind her ear. “I made my barbecue chicken. Everyone loves my barbecue chicken. You remember how well it went over at the Fourth of July party. Mr. Lintrope was just about to take a bite when….”


“Terrence!” Melinda screamed. “He comes tearing out of the bushes like some carefree heathen, just ripping his clothes off. Just ripping them off and throwing them hither and dither. He didn’t even see us. I nearly went epileptic. Mr. Lintrope looked at me and asked, ‘Isn’t that your friend?’ I hadn’t the time or the ability to respond, Cassie. Terrence was stark raving naked and playing around in the pond like a three-year-old in bathwater, all giggling and singing. Why does he always have to sing? It’s like he’s a member of that damn Sound of Music family. I’d hate to meet the rest of his family, I’ll tell you that!” She crossed her arms and tightened her jaw. “It was only then that he saw Mr. Lintrope and me.”

“Darling, Mr. Lintrope can’t hold you accountable for a friend’s quirks.” Cassie was enjoying this. She was so wrapped up in the story her afternoon cocktail had hardly been sipped from.

“That’s not the end of it. Oh, no. The story continues, Cassie. Oh, does it ever!” Melinda pulled out a chair from the table and sat down with a huff. “Terrence’s frolicking and giggling and singing had been so loud it brought the attention of a group of joggers who were on a nearby path. And who do you think those joggers were, Cassie?”

“I have no idea. This is exciting.”

“None other than Coach… Nipple and his star wrestlers.”

Cassie cackled, clapping her knee. “Imagine that!”

“They thought Terrence was drowning and were coming to his rescue. I can’t blame them. He definitely sounded like a creature in peril. Well, when he saw them and realized what they were thinking, he played right into it. The worm! The wrestlers jumped into the pond, stripping as they dove, and all three of them grabbed hold of our flailing Terrence. When they got him to land, he fainted. He actually fainted… or he pretended to faint so he could be revived. Then he re-fainted two more times. All three wrestlers had to give him mouth-to-mouth. And they were all nearly naked, Cassie! Naked!”

Cassie could say nothing. She could barely sit up straight.

“Well, I’m glad someone sees humor in the situation. The coach looked at me, finally taking notice I was there, and gave me a grin. Like the kind he used to give me after we had… you know. Mr. Lintrope saw that grin. Any handsome man would be intimidated by the coach’s presence. He commands attention. How do you think an average man like Mr. Lintrope felt? After Terrence was dressed and I was left alone again with my date, I asked Mr. Lintrope if we could try this another time, and he said, rather unconvincingly, ‘Sure. I’ll give you a call.’ Can you believe it?” Melinda clenched her fists again. “That Terrence!”

“Indeed. What a treasure,” Cassie said. “And he seems to get on your bad side more than anybody I’ve known.”

Melinda sat back in her chair, as if she was relieved to have told her story and now exhausted.
Cassie reached across the table for her cell phone. Melinda, of course, knew what was coming.
“You can’t even wait a few minutes?” Melinda asked.

“Vera,” Cassie said into the phone, “get over here now. Melinda has just been through an ordeal with that dull-as-bones Mr. Lintrope, and it’s hilarious.”

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Big Deal on Jasper Lane!

This is a big deal! From midnight July 11th - that's THIS Wednesday - until midnight July 15th Dreamspinner Press has one hell of a great deal going on in promotion of my newest addition to the Jasper Lane series, SuburbaNights. Order SuburbaNights from the Dreamspinner site and get SubSurdity (Book 1) for free, AND get Suburbilicious (Book 2) for 25% off. It's for those five days only, so if you want it you got  to be ON THE BALL!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

2012: A Writer's To Do List

So, I thought I might give you a quick bullet list of the work I have had published, will have published, or am working on this year. In all honesty, this list is more for me than you. I'm very list oriented.

1. Galley Proof, from Dreamspinner Press. My comedy/memoir-lite novel about a writer named Logan Brandish and his search for love, an editor, and himself. I've received some bitter criticisms for this book, but it's one of my personal favorites.

2. "She's Come Undone", from Untreed Reads. A short story about a former school teacher on the edge - she's looked at as a town joke and gets very little help raising her handicapped daughter - and how she finally throws down.

3. "Miss Locks", from Untreed Reads. A horror short about a woman who finds herself standing outside her home, but cannot remember how she got there. When she goes back inside, however, something terrible awaits. This is actually based on a...feeling I had when I was very sick a couple of years ago.

4. "Roids, Rumps, & Revenge", from Seventh Window. Maybe the last erotic story I'll ever write...and it's filthy! About a cocky football coach at a small college and his plan to keep his players winning. Cover by Absolutbleu.

5. SuburbaNights, from Dreamspinner Press. To be released on July 11th, the third book in my Jasper Lane series might be the strangest. This contains one of my most favoritest Jasper Lane scenes ever. And Nanna Hench is back causing trouble.

6. Simple Men translations, from Dreamspinner Press. I've learned that the Spanish and Italian versions are soon to be released. The German version is being worked on. I still can't believe I'm going global!

7. Galley Proof translations, from Dreamspinner Press. The Italian version is ready, and the Spanish version is being translated.

8. Woke Up in a Strange Place audio book, from Dreamspinner Press. My friend Charlie David (Dante's Cove, Ugly Betty) - who did the audio book for Simple Men - is in the midst of recording this afterlife fantasy (and Gaybie award-winner).

9. Bubbles n Gordy, from Class Comics. My erotic comic with artist Absolutbleu and another writer (who shall be named later) about two dumb-as-blocks, hot-as-hell college muscle studs who fight evil on the campus of Pro State University. This is still being worked on, so I'm thinking it won't be out until 2013.

10. Three manuscripts I have with publishers: The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles & Men (spec fic); The Rest Is Illusion (for possible reprint); and The Rascal (horror).

11. What am I writing now? Thanks for asking! I'm writing a multi-layered speculative fiction piece that seems to want to go on and on. New characters keep coming in quite unexpectedly. The title: Terms We Have For Dreaming.