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Thursday, December 31, 2009

THE BLUE MOON CAFE Gets a New Cover


It's always with some trepidation that I approach what a cover artist has come up with for a book of mine. After all, this is the face of my baby. I want it to be beautiful. I also want it to be compelling because I know it's a big, fat lie when people say, "Don't judge a book by its cover." In whatever context they mean it, they can and do. The cover helps sell a book almost, if not as much, as what's on the interior.

With the cover artist I work with at Amber Quill Press, Trace Edward Zaber, I am not as afraid when I get that e-mail telling me a cover design is ready. Trace is a great cover artist and I am usually over the moon with what he comes up with for my work. We've worked together on enough books that I hardly have to give him much suggestion or direction on what I hope to see. We're in sync.

The cover for my upcoming novel, The Blue Moon Cafe, is no exception. Trace managed to encapsulate exactly what I wanted to get across: that this was a horror story, yes, but at its heart, it's a love story. It's a book that I hope will make a reader's heart race for many reasons.

And it's appropriate that I'm sharing this with you today, because tonight is a blue moon, the first in a decade.

I'd love to know what you think of the cover. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Blue Moon Café releases on March 7, 2010 in ebook format, with the paperback version to follow approximately two weeks later. To read the first chapter, e-mail me at jimmyfels@gmail.com and I will send it to you.

What The Blue Moon Cafe is about:

Someone—or something—is killing Seattle’s gay men.

A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone—or something—is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Café. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into…and he can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being: Why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Prepare yourself for a unique blend of horror and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Café, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, “the Stephen King of gay horror.” You’re guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror…

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Stellar Review for SUPERSTAR


Rainbow Reviews gave a stellar review of my rock star love story, SUPERSTAR, on their site recently.

In part, they said:

"'This July day is a stunning one, clear, sunny, low humidity and a temperature in the mid 70s ... It's a lovely day to commit suicide.' This statement is a wonderful scene setter. Such deft phrasing is maintained throughout this short story, making it a joy to read...This was a most thought-provoking story, rich in emotion and humanity. I expected it to be mostly depressing, but, although it had its sad moments, the tale was uplifting. I know it will remain long in my memory."

Read the rest of the review here.

Read an excerpt and a synopsis and get your copy here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Writing and Its Stigmatisms

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with someone in a different country and the question of occupations arose. "I'm a writer," I replied. The response was a bit of a shock to me: "That's not a real job." What he meant was "that's not a job with a W-2, regular biweekly paychecks, and some security". It reminded me of something my mother once said. Upon telling her aunt she wanted to be a writer, she was told, "Why, that's a great idea! All you have to do is sit there and type up something and get paid for it!"

Both extremes have their points... yet neither gives you a true picture of what being a writer really is. it's grueling research, back-story writing, drafting, and a billion other things... all penciled into regular life with the hopes that someone, somewhere will recognize it as "worthy of publication" and hand you over a meager farthing for your toils. Unless you're a Stephen King, you're lucky to make minimum wage.

Let's face it. Writing is hard work (though maybe not physically) and while many people wish to do it, few follow through with the daunting task of finishing a book. No matter what your topic or genre, it's rough out there. Critics can be downright cold-hearted. Being a nobody can land you in front of a dozen padlocked doors. You're the new kid in school, trying to find a few pals and a click that accepts you.

From my own experience, being a nonfiction writer comes with its own set of stigmas and opinions. There are those who feel you're not a "real writer". After all, you're just regurgitating someone else's work, right? Well, not exactly. You're researching like a fiend, pulling together resources and information to create an original work without saying what others already have. But unlike fiction, you have to check, double check, and triple check your sources, separating opinion from concrete truth. All this and it has to be in your own words. Believe me, it can be a nightmare.

The hardest pill for me to swallow was opening up the first copy of my book, Queer Hauntings, and seeing "Compiled by Ken Summers" glaring back at me. Compiled? Is that how some people view nonfiction? You're just gathering someone else's work and tossing it into your own binding? I can't count how many booksellers I had to talk to and explain that I wasn't the editor. Each chapter was my own work, not copied verbatim from elsewhere. After slaving away on a breakneck three-month deadline, I wanted people to know that a lot of hard work went into my first "official" book (I say that because, I self-published a small book of local interest prior to finding an actual publisher for a book of wider interest).

For all writers, fiction and nonfiction, our work is our baby. We put everything into what we create and send it out into the world, hoping that it can walk on its own two feet and someone will appreciate what we did. It's a branch of our own self, a piece of who we are. We might get a little sensitive at the words and criticisms we hear, but it comes from being that protective parent. No one wants a product of their labors to be torn apart, nitpicked, or belittled. Still, it comes with the territory.

So, is it worth it? Is venturing forth to write the next novel or biography a wise idea given the strong probability that there will be negativity to endure? Without a doubt, yes. Bad comes with good in every aspect of life. For every jibe, there's a pat on the back waiting. Just a simple "thank you" from a reader at a book signing can make all the not-so-pleasant obstacles seem unimportant. A wise person once told me, "Don't let the music die within you." Good books are only written when the creators have the courage to take the leap and let their words be heard.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

SUPERSTAR Releases Today!


Everything I write affects me emotionally. But there are some stories that do this more than others. Superstar is one such story. Based on the unrequited-groupie-love-song that both Karen Carpenter and Bette Midler made famous, Superstar is a rarity for me: a pure love story about a young man falling for a cad of a rock star.

He told him he loved him. He told him he'd be back.

It's also about the resiliency of life and love and how both can surprise us at the most unlikely of times.

It's the first story I've written that's set in my new home, Seattle and you'll get glimpses of the beauty of the city and the Pacific Northwest as you join my main character on the 180-foot high Aurora Bridge, also known as the "suicide bridge." It's here where Superstar begins and ends as my main character, Leon, reminisces about his love for a grungy rock superstar before taking a fatal plunge. But someone is waiting and watching, and suicides don't always go off as planned...

Hope you'll check out the story, available only in ebook. You can pick up a copy here.

Synopsis
When Leon first saw him singing in a dive bar, he was mesmerized. But he didn’t know he’d be going home with the dangerously sexy lead singer that night. He couldn’t have predicted he’d fall in love. But then, Leon never expected his love to be reciprocated. Yet the hot singer with the gravely voice told Leon he loved him; told him he’d come back.

So, why, three years after that fateful night, is Leon perched at the edge of a bridge, ready to make a fatal leap?

Superstar is the story of a groupie and the rock star he loves. It’s the tale of a man on the edge, both literally and figuratively...and it’s a timeless story of love found and lost lost, all set to a driving rock beat.

Superstar is about promises made, promises broken, and dreams unfulfilled. And, ultimately, it’s about realizing that love can come along when one least expects it—and in the unlikeliest of places...

Excerpt
...I closed Olive’s that night. It wasn’t so much the crowd, or the beer, or even the cute allegedly straight boy in the cargo shorts and Cold Play T-shirt who made eyes at me throughout the night.

No. It was you.

And your music. Back then, you were just the lead singer in a band called Voiles and I was mesmerized by both your look and your sound. A bass guitar and a drummer backed you up, and if I passed either of them on the street today, I would not recognize them. For me, you stood all alone on that tiny plywood stage with a black curtain behind you. When that incredible, melodic, craggy voice emerged, it was as if the physical confines of the room disappeared. I could see only you…and what a view that was. Your tousled auburn hair, streaked through with gold, practically obscured your face. Your rail-thin body, packed into skinny jeans and a Ramones T-shirt, was like some post punk boy’s fantasy. And when you jerked your head to get the hair out of your face, the motion revealed a chiseled face, dark chocolate eyes, and a look that seemed both faraway and incredibly sad.

It made me want to take you in my arms.

I suppose that’s the effect you were after. I hate to think that the mournful gaze and the counter-culture, retro rock star clothes were calculated, just another part of the act as much as the microphone on its stand, the drum kit, the lights, the amps, the electrical cords.

I hate to think that.

But it wasn’t just your look that caught me, entrapping me in a snare that I would find impossible to free myself from for the next three years. It was your song. Your sad, sad song. Your voice was that of a man who had smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for decades: scarred, veering on raspy. It was the voice of a man much older than your years, which appeared to number in the twenties. You were the love child of Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright.

Your lyrics, coal black, smoldered around age-old topics like lost love, loneliness, alienation, and an inability to find home. Cheery stuff.

It had me sobbing into my beer most of the night.

And when I wasn’t sobbing, I was imagining what you’d look like naked.

There was a curious combination pulsing inside me that night: lust, despair, hunger…

But I never had any real hopes that I would actually be meeting you that night. No idea that I would actually see what the wiry body under those clothes looked like. No clue that I would come to know the feel of those swollen lips on my own...

Get your copy of Superstar here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trannies and Psychos and Bears...Oh My!


Hey Kids!

Just wanted to let you know that my ebook short, NO PLACE LIKE HOME, is out today and yours for only $2.25. It's a gay romance twist on THE WIZARD OF OZ and, like me, is a little different.

And when you visit the AmberAllure site today (November 8) only, you'll find that my EPPIE-Award winning novel ORIENTATION, is the daily deal...75% off the regular price!

Synopsis

Burl is horny. And his lover, AJ, is in the kind of sleep that approaches comatose. What’s a boy to do? In the middle of the night, Burl slips away from the house he shares with AJ, looking for just a little release for his pent-up passion. AJ won’t mind; after all, he says he doesn’t care where Burl gets his tires pumped, as long as he gets to ride.

But what Burl finds in straying from his own backyard is not quite the kind of excitement he had in mind. From boxer-shorted bears, to men who aren’t quite what they seem, to homicidal ebony gods, Burl doesn’t know quite what to make of the bizarre world outside...and the people in it. From the snow-capped peaks of the Adirondack Mountains (and the Sodom Sin Mountain Ski Resort), to the dangerous streets of the lower east side of Manhattan, Burl discovers that it isn’t always easy—or safe—when you go looking for love in all the wrong places.

What lessons does Burl learn on his quest? Does he discover, really, that there’s no place like home? There’s only one way to find out—start reading!

Check out more details and get your copy here: http://www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/NoPlaceLikeHome.html

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Exclusive Excerpt from My Werewolf Novel, THE BLUE MOON CAFE






I have written lots of horror, lots of stuff about vampires, serial killers, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. I have never written a werewolf story.

Until now.

I am hard at work on a new book called The Blue Moon Cafe. Set in my current home, Seattle, it's part horror, part romance, part erotica, and all can't-put-it-down. I hope it will be a draw not only for readers who like my horror, but for ones who like a good love story as well.

Here's a little taste. I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know what you think. Intrigued? Want to read more?



He’s hungry. He eyes a full moon above him through a caul of blood red. Its light is like the illumination of the sun: warming and energizing, heightening his senses. He sees with all of his senses and smell predominates. Before him, the streets of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood stand out in sharp detail, silvery and shimmering from the moon’s light. Crisp; easy to track. And in the air, everywhere, are scents: the smell of beer, cigarette smoke, the pale fishy tang of Elliot Bay to the west, car exhaust. But what underlies all of this is sheer bliss—he lifts his snout to savor it: the smell of human flesh…and blood. Blood pulsing in the bodies of hundreds of carousers out for a Friday night revel, coursing in and out of bars, heedless and unwary, celebrating the beginning of the weekend. Their heat, movement, voices, and—most of all—aromas give him a paradoxically hungry and deliciously tingling feeling of anticipation deep in the pit of his gut.


His leathery black nose quivers, pulling the scent inside him, where he can savor it. His pale gray-furred ears point up to the moon, alert, listening for the sound of one alone, one that’s ripe. He wants to howl, but knows that such displays will draw attention to him as he sits, panting, in an alley behind a Vietnamese restaurant, shuttered for the night. Already a pair of men clad in jeans and tight T-shirts have wandered by and peered into the shadows the alley provides for him, wondering about him.


“Jesus!” One of them said. “Would you look at that? What is that? Some kind of dog? It’s huge!”


His friend had leaned over, further into the alley, far enough for the creature to catch the scent of the man’s sweat underlying the cologne with which he polluted himself. It had made his mouth water, his stomach growl, eager to pounce… But he knows he must be patient. The night affords plenty of time to hunt. Reward must always be balanced by a careful calculation of risk.


“Yeah, dude. I think it’s a German Shepherd…or a Husky. Somethin’ like that. Come on, let’s get to the Cuff.”


“I thought we were going to Neighbours.”


“The Cuff has hotter guys.”


The men had hurried off, unaware of how appetizing they were, how close they edged to their own demise. He licks his chops and stares up at the moon as a cloud passed over, partially obscuring its radiance.


But he has time to wait. Time to let the scents, sounds, and sights of the lively August night ramp up his hunger, his need, making the resulting feast all that much more succulent. There are practical reasons too for his patience. In the wee small hours of the morning (as the song went), there would be fewer witnesses to his impromptu al fresco supper of flesh and blood. The few people out—his prey—were more likely to be intoxicated and careless of heading down an alley just like the one in which he now crouched, waiting, every sense on alert.


Intoxicated…before dawn crept up over the Cascade Mountains, he knew that would be what he would feel. That, and a sense of utter satisfaction.


He circled a few times and lay down beside a Dumpster.


***


He has dozed off. When he awakens, the air is cooler and the night is quieter. The sounds of traffic, laughter, and voices have diminished to almost nothing. The rush of wind ruffles his fur as he gets to all fours, raising his snout to test the air.


Yes. There are humans close by. Two of them. He smells their perspiration and beneath that, their blood. Their warmth rides to him like a delicious current on the night breeze. He stands quietly, heart rate quickening, muscles tensing, tracking them. They are just outside the alley in which he waits and they are making noises, not talking. But there are definite sounds. He moves forward, silent on black paws, to the alley’s mouth. What is going in, a darkened doorway, is the sound of some kind of human mating. There are grunts, groans, and sighs. He sniffs, calculating: there are two men, one of them older, not as healthy, one young, vigorous.


Boldly, he trots out of the alley and crosses the street to watch from between two parked cars. The men do not even notice, they are so absorbed in what they’re doing and he’s so full of stealth that he might as well be a shadow gliding through the night.


The pair occupies the doorway of a storefront, cloaked in shadow. Human eyes, passing by, would not even register their existence. But he can see them: the younger one, the healthy one, the one he for whom he is already licking his chops, stands before the older one, jeans pushed down to his knees. His shirt is pulled up over his shoulders and behind his neck, exposing exquisite musculature and a constellation of inked skin. Throwing his head back, he whispers rapidly how “fuckin’ good” it all feels, while the older man kneels in front of him, his head bobbing up and down at his crotch.


The act takes fewer than ten minutes. The scent of sweat and semen hang in the air. The older man rises, looks around himself and stuffs himself back inside his pants and zips. He glances around again, although the creature can’t imagine why; there’s no one else to witness anything, and takes his wallet out. He digs in it, pulls out a few bills, and hands it to the younger man, the one with the shaved head, the bulging muscles, and the tattoos. The younger man snatches the money away and smiles. “Thanks.” He stuffs the money into his jeans pocket.


The older man begins to walk away and the younger one grabs his arm. “No kiss goodbye?”


They both laugh. The older man pecks the younger on his mouth. At the same time, the younger man pulls him closer as if to embrace him and reaches back, smoothly pulling the wallet from the older man’s pants. The other man, unaware, hurries off into the night, toward downtown.


“Muscles” counts the money, chuckling, then rifles through the wallet. He hears him whisper, “What story will you make up for wifey about how you lost your wallet?” He throws back his head and laughs out loud at the thought. He pulls the remaining cash from the wallet, extracts a couple of credit cards, and tosses the wallet to the ground.


The monster takes him in with all of his senses. He’s perfect.


He tracks him through the streets, uphill. He is beginning to question whether luck will be on his side when his prey ducks into an alley. He follows, amused that, after all these blocks, he has never once noticed the creature behind him. He watches as he pulls out his dick and sprays a bright yellow stream on the brick wall before him. He can smell the piss, ammonia-like, but it’s part of the man's essence and his heat. Mixed in with the smell of it is also the scent of his semen, left over from his prior business transaction.


Drool runs from the creature's mouth. He can wait no longer. He pounces, and without a howl, without a growl, without even a bark, he is upon him.


Tearing.


The man doesn’t even have time to scream.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blood and Mint Chocolates made round 2 of the Rainbow Awards voting!

Round 2 of the Rainbow Awards voting is still going on! Blood and Mint Chocolates and other works are up:


http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/822605.html





Love & Magic,
Adrianne

Monday, October 19, 2009

MUTE WITNESS Now Available


Just wanted to share the exciting news that my latest novel, Mute Witness, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats.

Mute Witness is a special book to me because, although it's a thriller with paranormal elements, it grew out of a very personal trauma: the fear of losing my son during my divorce several years ago simply because I was gay.

Purchase ebook.
Purchase paperback.
Purchase Kindle version.

Here's what Mute Witness is about:

Sean and Austin have the perfect life. Their new relationship is only made more joyous by weekend visits from Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason.

And then their perfect world shatters.

Jason is missing.

When the boy turns up days later, he has been horribly abused and has lost the power to speak. Small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits.

Sean and Austin struggle to maintain their relationship amid the innuendo and the very real threat that Sean will, at the very least, lose the son he loves. Meanwhile, the real villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.


To whet your interest, here's the first few pages:

    It was one of their rare lazy evenings. Summer, and the evening air was fresh and clean after an afternoon thunderstorm, with just a hint of a breeze. Normally, Sean and Austin were so busy that if they weren’t trying to change something about the little Cape Cod on the Ohio River they had bought a year before (adding a deck, putting in a new kitchen, stripping away years of white paint from the woodwork downstairs), they were too tired to do anything but crawl into bed and pass out, usually before eleven o’clock. Lovemaking, since they had bought the money- and time-sucking house, had become relegated to weekend afternoons and the occasional early morning.
    But today, Thursday, had been an easy one. Austin had called into work, the Benson Pottery, where he was a caster and taken a mental health day. Things had just been too damn busy lately and he needed the break. Waiting until Saturday was out of the question. Sunday seemed farther away than the next millennium.
    Sean, a reporter for The Evening View, the local thrice-weekly compilation of ads sandwiched in with a little editorial, had had the day off. The couple had spent the day in Pittsburgh, at the Andy Warhol museum, then had an early dinner at The Grand Concourse (the best Paella on the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers), beat the brutal thunderstorm home, made love (acrobatically, in the kitchen, atop a Butcher’s block), and now the two were curled up in front of the TV. Sean had rented Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and, after a bowl of Jamaican and a couple of vodka and tonics, the two were teary-eyed with laughter.
    Sean looked over at his younger boyfriend and thought how lucky he was to have found Austin, especially in a town the size of Summitville, where the population hovered just above ten thousand. Even better, Austin was his fantasy man, with a broad, beefy body that his mother and her friends would have called strapping, sandy blond hair, and the bluest eyes he had ever seen. When Sean had first met him, he thought Austin’s eyes had to be fake: enhanced by those tinted contacts that never looked real. But he found quickly that the young man was simply blessed with arresting eyes to go along with his broad shoulders, dimpled chin, and infectious smile. He wore that smile right now, coming down from a fit of inappropriate laughter after hearing Elizabeth Taylor tell Richard Burton, “I’d divorce you if I thought you were alive.”
    A sick sense of humor was yet another thing the pair had in common.
It was what they both would have agreed was a perfect day. Well, Sean might have had one more item to add to the “perfection” list. Having his son, Jason, around for at least part of the time would have been all it would have taken to make the day ideal, but these days, Jason was for the weekends only.
In any case, this was close enough to nirvana. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back on Austin’s shoulder.
    Sean was just thinking about slowly undressing Austin and then leading him into the bedroom for round two when the phone rang. Its chirp startled both of them out of the cocoon of warmth that had surrounded them, a cocoon built from good sex, supreme relaxation, and the afore-mentioned Jamaican weed.
Austin: sleepily from under Sean’s arm on the couch, “Don’t get it. Please don’t get it. Just let the machine pick up. I don’t want to talk to anyone. And I don’t want you to, neither.” Sean eyed the little answering machine next to the cordless, wondering when they would enter the 21st century and use voice mail like everyone else. But, unlike voice mail, the machine did allow them to screen calls and for two men who appreciated their privacy, this feature had voice mail beat all to hell.
    Sean let the phone ring its customary four rings, although his tendency would have been to answer it. But if this would make Austin happy, then he was willing to do it. Especially since he had things in mind for Austin that did not involve the telephone. Things that would erase their fatigue and perhaps keep them up the better part of the night. Sean grinned.
    On the fourth ring, Sean pressed the pause button on the remote control and sat up straighter to listen.
    “Whatever it is, it can wait,” Austin whispered in Sean’s ear, flicking his earlobe with his tongue and giving his crotch a playful squeeze.
    And then the moment shattered.
    Shelley’s voice, almost unfamiliar under the veneer of tension that made it higher, quicker, came through. Shelley and Sean had been married once upon a time and their union had produced Jason, the best little boy in the world. As soon as Sean heard Shelley’s voice he thought of his son, who shared his dark hair, green eyes, wiry frame, and his fascination with stories.
    “Sean? Sean, I hope you’re there. This is important. Please pick up.” There was a slight pause. “It’s about Jason. He...”
    Before she could say anything else, Sean sprinted for the phone in the entryway. “Shelley? Sorry, I was...”
    “Jason is missing.”
    “What?”
    And then Sean heard her begin to sob and the relaxation in all of his muscles vanished, replaced by a tightness that felt like steel bands snapping taut across his muscles. Blood rushed in his ears; his heart began to pound. A queasy nausea rose up in his gut.
    “Jason never came home tonight,” Shelley sobbed. “I don’t know where he is. Please say he’s with you.”
    Sean sat down on the little oak chair in front of the desk. Well, collapsed into the chair was more like it. “Shelley, I’m sorry, but he’s not here. Don’t you think I would have called if he had come here? How long’s he been gone?” Sean rubbed the back of his neck, his mouth curiously dry. He glanced out the window at the complete darkness.    “I went to work at six and he wasn’t home yet.” She blew out a sigh. “But, you know, we just thought he was horsing around in the woods or something and lost track of time. Then I called Paul and...”
    “Wait a minute, Shelley. It’s a quarter ‘til eleven.”
    “I know. I know.”
    “Why didn’t you call sooner? You mean to tell me you’re just starting to look? Christ, he’s eight years old.”
    “I thought he would’ve come home while I was on my shift. Paul was here and he fell asleep and...”
    “Paul. Great.” Sean rubbed his sweaty palms against his thighs.
    “Please Sean, it’s not the time. I fucked up. Okay? Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I need some help finding our son.”
    She was right. In spite of the thoughts running through his head, most of them centering around how he and Austin would have been better parents, but the courts couldn’t see that, all they could see was a little boy growing up under the wings of two queers, Sean knew she was right.
    This was an emergency.


Purchase ebook.
Purchase paperback.
Purchase Kindle version.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dark Scribe Gives BASHED a Great Review


I'll consider Dark Scribe magazine's review of my gay hate-crime novel, Bashed, an early Halloween present. I was thrilled to get a thoughtful thumbs-up from what is fast-becoming a very respected horror publication, with up to 6,000 unique visitors monthly.

Reviewer T.E. Lyons said, "Reed is an established brand — perhaps the most reliable contemporary author for thrillers that cross over between the gay fiction market and speculative fiction..."

Read the rest of the review here.

Purchase Bashed paperback
Purchase Bashed ebook

Friday, October 2, 2009

MUTE WITNESS Sneak Preview


My latest full-length novel, Mute Witness, will debut this month in both e-book and trade paperback formats. It's a serious one, but ultimately hopeful and redemptive. I wanted to give you a sneak preview...

Synopsis

Sean and Austin have the perfect life. Their new relationship is only made more joyous by weekend visits from Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason.

And then their perfect world shatters.

Jason is missing.

When the boy turns up days later, he has been horribly abused and has lost the power to speak. Small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits. Sean and Austin struggle to maintain their relationship amid the innuendo and the very real threat that Sean will, at the very least, lose the son he loves. Meanwhile, the real villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.



Preview (from Chapter One)

It was what they both would have agreed was a perfect day. Well, Sean might have had one more item to add to the “perfection” list. Having his son, Jason, around for at least part of the time would have been all it would have taken to make the day ideal, but these days, Jason was for the weekends only.
In any case, this was close enough to nirvana. He closed his eyes and let his head loll back on Austin’s shoulder.

Sean was just thinking about slowly undressing Austin and then leading him into the bedroom for round two when the phone rang. Its chirp startled both of them out of the cocoon of warmth that had surrounded them, a cocoon built from good sex, supreme relaxation, and the afore-mentioned Jamaican weed.

Austin: sleepily from under Sean’s arm on the couch, “Don’t get it. Please don’t get it. Just let the machine pick up. I don’t want to talk to anyone. And I don’t want you to, neither.” Sean eyed the little answering machine next to the cordless, wondering when they would enter the 21st century and use voice mail like everyone else. But, unlike voice mail, the machine did allow them to screen calls and for two men who appreciated their privacy, this feature had voice mail beat all to hell.

Sean let the phone ring its customary four rings, although his tendency would have been to answer it. But if this would make Austin happy, then he was willing to do it. Especially since he had things in mind for Austin that did not involve the telephone. Things that would erase their fatigue and perhaps keep them up the better part of the night. Sean grinned.

On the fourth ring, Sean pressed the pause button on the remote control and sat up straighter to listen.

“Whatever it is, it can wait,” Austin whispered in Sean’s ear, flicking his earlobe with his tongue and giving his crotch a playful squeeze.

And then the moment shattered.

Shelley’s voice, almost unfamiliar under the veneer of tension that made it higher, quicker, came through. Shelley and Sean had been married once upon a time and their union had produced Jason, the best little boy in the world. As soon as Sean heard Shelley’s voice he thought of his son, who shared his dark hair, green eyes, wiry frame, and his fascination with stories.

“Sean? Sean, I hope you’re there. This is important. Please pick up.” There was a slight pause. “It’s about Jason. He...”

Before she could say anything else, Sean sprinted for the phone in the entryway. “Shelley? Sorry, I was...”

“Jason is missing.”

“What?”

And then Sean heard her begin to sob and the relaxation in all of his muscles vanished, replaced by a tightness that felt like steel bands snapping taut across his muscles. Blood rushed in his ears; his heart began to pound. A queasy nausea rose up in his gut.

“Jason never came home tonight,” Shelley sobbed. “I don’t know where he is. Please say he’s with you.”

Sean sat down on the little oak chair in front of the desk. Well, collapsed into the chair was more like it. “Shelley, I’m sorry, but he’s not here. Don’t you think I would have called if he had come here? How long’s he been gone?” Sean rubbed the back of his neck, his mouth curiously dry. He glanced out the window at the complete darkness.

“I went to work at six and he wasn’t home yet.” She blew out a sigh. “But, you know, we just thought he was horsing around in the woods or something and lost track of time. Then I called Paul and...”

“Wait a minute, Shelley. It’s a quarter ‘til eleven.”

“I know. I know.”

“Why didn’t you call sooner? You mean to tell me you’re just starting to look? Christ, he’s eight years old.”

“I thought he would’ve come home while I was on my shift. Paul was here and he fell asleep and...”

“Paul. Great.” Sean rubbed his sweaty palms against his thighs.

“Please Sean, it’s not the time. I fucked up. Okay? Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I need some help finding our son.”

She was right. In spite of the thoughts running through his head, most of them centering around how he and Austin would have been better parents, but the courts couldn’t see that, all they could see was a little boy growing up under the wings of two queers, Sean knew she was right.

This was an emergency.

Mute Witness will be out later this month.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Last chance to enter to win a print copy of Immortal Fire with Dawn of the Seraphs!

Here's an interview with me and a chance to win the Immortal Fire anthology in PRINT! This is the last week to enter!

http://ddrreviews.blogspot.com/2009/09/wicked-wednesday_30.html

That's right, folks...Dawn of the Seraphs, an m/m paranormal/sci-fi/erotic romance will be made available in print in the Immortal Fire anthology on Amazon.com!

Details on how to enter to win are at the bottom of the interview. Good luck!

More information on Dawn of the Seraphs is in the interview plus here:

http://www.adriannebrennan.com/dawnoftheseraphs.html

Many fabulous, highly talented authors are represented in this anthology and it looks to be a real winner! :D


Love & Magic,
Adrianne

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Cover for the Upcoming MUTE WITNESS


My next full-length novel, Mute Witness, should be out later this year from MLR Press. I have recently been working with the cover art to put a face on this very serious story (probably one of the most serious I've written to date) and we have finally decided on a concept.

Covers are one of the most trying and difficult parts of writing a book, even if you have no input into the design yourself. That old chestnut, "you can't judge a book by its cover" is probably one of the wrongest things I've ever heard. People can, and do, judge books by their covers...and people and other things too. We see with our eyes and this is how we form our first impressions. So if a book doesn't make that critical first impression on you, you will probably pass it by. And if a book has a simply dazzling cover, you may be more intrigued about the book than if it was fronted by a mediocre cover.

I hope the cover for Mute Witness makes a good first impression. I'd love it if you'd leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Here's the back cover copy (which is also really cool, maybe even cooler than the front, since it's just the back of the boy's head). Read it and see if you think the cover does the storyline justice.

I hope you won't stay mute (groan!) on whether this cover would inspire you to check out the book inside.

Back cover copy:

Sean and Austin have the perfect life. Their new relationship is only made more joyous by weekend visits from Sean’s eight-year-old son, Jason.

And then their perfect world shatters.

Jason is missing.

When the boy turns up days later, he has been horribly abused and has lost the power to speak. Small town minds turn to the boy’s gay father and his lover as the likely culprits.

Sean and Austin struggle to maintain their relationship amid the innuendo and the very real threat that Sean will, at the very least, lose the son he loves. Meanwhile, the real villain is much closer to home, intent on ensuring the boy’s muteness is permanent.


Mute Witness should be out in late fall.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Latest Additions to the Kindle Store

Bad author! Bad! I haven't been paying close enough attention to which of my e-books have been added to Amazon's Kindle store and discovered just today that there are five new titles that are now there that hadn't been there when I last checked. They include a very silly story about a man waking up to find his outie had been replaced with an innie (and we are not talking belly buttons, my dears!); a poignant coming out story about a married man's painful realization; a young adult horror novel; a highly erotically-charged tale about the levels of consciousness in a dominant/submissive relationship; and a sexy, Twilight Zone type tale that gives a new twist to the old saw: be careful what you wish for.

Can you match the stories above to their blurbs below? If you can, e-mail me at horrorauthor@gmail.com and I will give you a free download of one of the stories above, suitable for your Kindle.

How I Became Sexually Irresistible
The old saw holds true: Be careful what you wish for...

Cliche though the words are, Arthur Bland should have heeded their advice. When he comes across a magic, genie-containing lava lamp in a thrift store, his one wish is to be sexually irresistible. When his wish comes true, it leads at first to a wonderful fulfillment of his most cherished erotic desires. Plain Arthur can now have anyone whom he wants...and at the beginning, the wish granted seems like a blessing.

Until the wish granted turns into a curse.

When he meets the woman of his dreams, Arthur discovers that sometimes being sexually irresistible is not enough. Worse, being sexually irresistible and being lovable can be two very different things...
BUY your copy.

MAN-amorphosis
"4.25 STARS!...one of the funniest books I have ever read. Who knew horror writer Rick R. Reed had such a delicious, wonderful, side splitting sense of humor?...This is one of the most unusual, imaginative and refreshing books that I have read in a long time. Rick Reed is a master story teller and he doesn't spare the details in this romp in the park as he recounts Rickie's adventure on the other side of the sheets. MAN-AMORPHOSIS is going to rock your socks and maybe other articles of clothing because this author does not skimp on the fun. Buy this book ... it will more than tickle your funny bone."--Jessewave, Reviews By Jessewave
BUY your copy.

Through the Closet Door
"4.5 STARS!...a heartbreakingly emotional story about a man at a crossroads in his life...an incredible story, a powerful look at the difficulty that surrounds coming out of the closet when deeply entrenched in a straight life...Reed has written a phenomenal look at a coming out process that is the definition of emotional. With excellent characters and a tightly woven story, Reed has written a poignant and affecting story that is a must read."--Emily, Rainbow Reviews
BUY your copy

Fugue
"5 STARS!...an exceptional story that pulled me in from the very beginning. It is filled with such detail that it sends the reader's senses on a wild ride...This story has stuck with me since I read it, and I look forward to reading it again and again. There is so much hidden under the surface, and each reading will no doubt reveal yet another aspect of its perfection. I also personally loved the fact that the story was set in Chicago, and the details and comments Reed makes along the way will be fun for those familiar with the city. This was the first story I have read from Reed and I will most definitely be reading his other stories. I highly recommend Fugue for readers looking for a story that is unique and intense!"--Emily, Rainbow Reviews
BUY your copy

Dead End Street
"...Reed is able to create just the perfect amount of icy fingers up the reader's spine without the gore of some horror novels or movies. The characters are well-drawn and believable, and the plot and subplots are good and scary. Move over, R. L. Stine. It looks like Rick R. Reed may be the next new horror writer for young readers for this century. (Because I enjoyed this book so much, I'm going to track down his adult horror fiction and dip into some of those.)"--Janie Franz, MyShelf.com
BUY your copy

Monday, June 29, 2009

GLBT Authors get Revolutionary Online Community!


“Identifies Revolutionary Online Community as Vision of Veteran Glbt Author. For first time, Writers, Artists, Publishers Unite in Retail Environment Independent of Traditional Bookselling Industry.”

For_Immediate_Release:

(Free-Press-Release.com) June 25, 2009 –

Adelaide, South Australia – June 25, 2009 Bestselling gay author Mel Keegan has masterminded a web-based cohesive organization combining the skills of writers, publishers, editors, agents, reviewers and artists in the GLBT community to provide an unprecedented public access portal to independent- and small-publisher titles. GLBT Bookshelf is an online resource designed to counter the perceived discriminatory practices of major players in the book retail scene.

Frustrated by the infamous “AmazonFail” fiasco of early 2009, in which the online retail giant was suspected of attempting to deny GLBT literature the benefits of its promotional systems, Keegan conceived of an online community in which all such systems were circumvented…Read the full Press Release here!



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Now Out in Paperback! M4M


My new paperback collection, M4M is now available from Amber Allure (the GLBT imprint of Amber Quill Press). The book combines my best-selling, happily-ever-after romantic comedy stories, VGL Male Seeks Same and NEG UB2, both previously available only as ebooks. M4M combines them in a nifty paperback edition, perfect for summer beach reading. This edition is ideal for those of you who might want to see how a horror writer does romance (apparently, surprisingly well, because the two stories above sold almost better than anything I've written!) but who don't want to go the e-book route.

To get your copy, go here or here.

Synopsis:
Two great stories. One great love. Get between the covers with Ethan and Brian, the men whose hearts connected online and offline in the best-selling VGL Male Seeks Same. Follow them on their continuing journey in NEG UB2, where a shocking health diagnosis derails the couple’s blissful romance and teaches them both a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, and faith...especially when it comes to love.

Previously available only in electronic format, these twin novellas of gay erotic romance have now been combined for a paperback edition!

Reviews of VGL Male Seeks Same

"5 Stars!...Rick R. Reed has a wonderful sense of humour and timing. His characterization of Ethan was superb. This is the first story I have read by Rick R. Reed and if this is at all representative of his writing he'll become an auto buy for me. His timing is superb, his prose is exceptional and his characterizations are to die for. I was totally invested in Ethan and I felt every slight, imagined or real, that he experienced. Parts of this story were so poignant as Ethan looked at his life stretching before him with no one to share it that I could feel his pain...Buy this book."--Jessewave, Reviews By Jessewave

"5 Divas!...A Recommended Read!...Could easily be made into a movie...Deeply erotic, satisfying...The crisp dialogue and brutally honest portrayal of two lonely men, who at heart really are very good looking, is a story for all romance lovers…not just fans of gay romantic fiction. It's a story to be treasured, in all its intimate splendor."--AJ Llewellyn, Dark Diva Reviews

Reviews of NEG UB2

"...One of the best aspects of Reed’s book is his unpredictability. Nothing is sacred and every possible topic can be tackled. Here the author takes the happy ever after ending from his first book and turns it on its head when one of the characters is suddenly HIV positive. From the panic at his initial diagnosis to understanding medication and costs, this emotional story shows the scary and realistic aspects often overlooked when HIV changes someone’s life. Well written with an intensity to the prose, this wonderful story shows the positive and negative elements associated with the first brush of HIV while showing it’s not the death sentence it used to be and happy endings are still possible."--Kassa, Manic Readers

"There's no protection from Reed's quick wit and ability to craft a winning and thoroughly enthralling love story."--Shawn Decker, AIDS activist, speaker, and author of My Pet Virus

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pottery Peter Get Its First Review


That first review is always the one that takes your breath away...just a little. Will they love it? Hate it? Fortunately, Elisa Rolle, a very insightful and respected gay fiction reviewer from Italy, seems to like what I've done with my little erotic story, Pottery Peter.

Elisa said:

"I have the idea that there are two Rick R. Reed out there; one that tends toward the horror side when he writes long novels, and one that prefers hot and dirty erotica when he writes short stories. Then I know that he is the same person since, long or short, his characters are always deep, with a background and a future, even if their story lasts only 30 pages...."

Read the rest of the review here.

Purchase Pottery Peter (it's just a short, so can easily be read on a computer as well as all popular ebook readers, including Kindle).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Win A FREE Copy of POTTERY PETER


Hey Kids!

The filthiest, funnest story on the block this week is my foray into hot, sweaty, industrial-sized sex, Pottery Peter. It's so hot that I really am unable to post an excerpt here, for fear of burning up this blog.

Pottery Peter is a story that's somewhat autobiographical, inspired by two of my college summers spent working at Hall China, one of the oldest and best industrial potteries in the US. Just how much inspiration I got from working there, I'll leave to your imagination.

Unlike Pottery Peter, which leaves virtually nothing to the imagination.

To win your free download of the story (PDF format), all you have to do is:

1. Become a follower of this blog (see area at right); I check, so make sure you do this step.
2. Leave a comment below, preferably something saucy.


That's it! And if you can't wait for the contest to end, you can get your own Pottery Peter here for the bargain price of $2.25 (it's just a short story, after all).

And about that filthy excerpt, check it out here.

Here's a little bit about the story, to whet your appetite for Peter:

Josh, between his freshman and sophomore years of college, gets a job at the pottery, a place where sweaty men dressed in sleeveless T-shirts, with biceps glistening and bulging, hoist heavy molds and liquid clay.

For Josh, it’s an eye-opening summer, building his own muscles and falling in love for the very first time. But falling in love is never uncomplicated, especially when two hot men have caught Josh’s eye. Which one of them will claim Josh’s virgin territory? Will it be Dale, the heavy-metal blond God with the tattoos and rough demeanor? Or will Kevin, Josh’s beefy, red-haired Irish boss, steal his heart, along with a few other parts further south?

Come along for a ride during one long, hot summer where the job benefits for an aroused young man are way more than what Human Resources promised!

Friday, March 27, 2009

10 Things a Guy Doesn't Want to Find in Your Room

By A.J. Llewellyn

Lemondrop ran an interesting item this week about the 10 things a guy doesn't want to find in your room. It's a semi-cool list and I agree with many of them - such as condom wrappers in the trash, dozens of stuffed animals in the room, photos with your ex and, the bible on the nightstand but I can do better than this.
As a gay man who hears it from both sides - both the scary things my mates find and the embarrassing things women confess they do, so in the interest of romance (hey I write romances, remember) I'd like to present my top 1o things A Guy Doesn't Want to Find in Your Room:
10. Forget the condom wrappers...what about the used condoms? Eeeww!
9. More than a few macabre photos of horrific things such as lynchings. My mate Tony saw these in a woman's bedroom. She said it was research, but he took my advice and ran for the frickin' hills.
8. Sharp, lethal objects mounted and lovingly displayed on the walls
7. Empty booze bottles spilling out of the waste basket
6. Unflushed 'floaters' in your toilet
5. Anything to do with 'The Secret' such as those stupid million dollar checks made out to yourself posted on your wall and 'intention boards' with the word 'husband' pasted on it
4. Canned hunting photos of you and some poor, drugged, dazed endangered critter
3. The Encyclopedia of Auto erotic Asphyxiation as bedtime reading next to a roll of duct tape (this actually happened)
2. A gigantic boat-sized dildo that's um...obviously been used. If you know what I mean...
1. My boyfriend Herve. He's mine. MINE!

What about you? What don't YOU want to see in a guy/girl's room?

Aloha oe,

A.J.

Monday, March 23, 2009

IM Goes Academic


I was recently amazed to be contacted by a PhD candidate, asking if he could interview me about my online hook-up serial killer novel, IM, for his dissertation. Not that the book isn't study-worthy, I had just never thought of it that way. So when D. Travers Scott contacted me, I had to look over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't talking to someone else. Maybe he got me by mistake. Weren't PhD dissertations supposed to be centering around people like James Joyce or Dickens?

Once I got over the initial shock, I found that Mr. Scott (hopefully soon-to-be Dr. Scott) was interested in IM because of its links to the Internet and modern technology as part of modern-day storytelling.

And, by the way, D. Travers Scott is an excellent writer in his own right, author of the acclaimed One of These Things is Not Like the Other. You should check out one of his websites here or here for more information about him and his writing.

Anyway, I thought our little dissertation interview was a fascinating process. I hope you do too, since it gives you insight into the book as well as the creative process.

DTS: So, to start, I was wondering if you could tell me how the idea came about to center a murder mystery around online dating/hookup sites?

RRR: I started writing IM a long time ago (when I was single) and I would be lying if I said I didn’t avail myself of online hook-up sites. After a while, two things amazed me: the sheer number of guys hooking up (either inviting strangers into their homes or vice versa) and the fact that we all casually dismissed the danger this anonymous way of meeting was putting us in. I know I am not the only gay man to invite a stranger into my home. And I began thinking, as all writers do at one point or another, what if… What if that hot guy you were inviting over was a killer? I started thinking how easy it would be for that killer and how simple it would be to commit an almost perfect crime: there would be no real life links to the deceased, you were invited in to your victim’s home, he often would put himself in a vulnerable and defenseless position…and on from there. Online hookups could be a perfect scenario for a sadistic killer. I just went from there.

DTS: What technology themes are there in any of your other works?

RRR: I use technology quite a lot in my work, probably starting with an early short story, “Online” in the vampire anthology The Darkest Thirst, about an unwitting woman who invites a vampire into her home via an online lesbian chat room. Vampires, according to legend, need to be invited in by their victims. The Internet is also an important part of my novella, VGL Male Seeks Same, a light romantic comedy about a man creating an online persona to find a man, and its sequel NEG UB2, where the same character from VGL Male is diagnosed HIV positive and discovers the online bias now against him. Blogging plays an important role in that story. I think the Internet as a community is here to stay, and growing.

DTS: How is Timothy Bright different from your other villains? Were there any aspects of his character that you emphasized or de-emphasized to 'fit' with his use of the web and messaging? That is, did you have any ideas about what sort of killer would be an online killer?

RRR: I don’t think I really consciously thought about Timothy being an online killer. I wanted to make him very innocuous looking, which is why I made him slight and blond, sort of elfin. I thought it was creepier to have someone who looked like the antithesis of evil cast as a monster. His appearance does come up throughout the book, though, and he lies often about what he looks like when he’s online (he never posts a photo), making himself beefier and manlier. The interesting thing, I thought, was how many of his victims ignored this disparity when he showed up at their door.

DTS:
There seemed to be a few references to alcohol and substance abuse in the book. Was this an intentional theme?

RRR: From my own experience with these sites, “party and play” is a very common factor on almost every one I’ve encountered. I just thought it was realistic to have some of the characters using party drugs to enhance their experience.

DTS: What impact do you feel the Internet and modern communications technology has had on the gay community? For example, some people applaud how it empowers rural queer kids to find community, others say it has isolated us, weakening community ties and public meeting places like bars or leather events.

RRR: I think the world is constantly changing, whether that’s positive or negative is up to interpretation. As I said above, this way of connecting and communicating with others is here to stay and will probably continue to grow and make further inroads into all of our lives. I would need a good crystal ball to know how this will affect humanity and the ways we interact. It’s a kind of evolution and only time will tell what its benefits and downfalls are.

DTS: Telecom companies often advertise with phrases like, "stay always connected." How do you feel about this idea of being connected, given that your online presence lets you connect with readers, but you also have a novel about connecting to killers?

RRR: The Internet has been a wonderful way for me to reach out to readers that hitherto would have been unavailable to me. I am old enough to remember that one of the few promotional routes available to me were book signings or conventions, where I reached relatively few people. The Internet, and social networking, has exploded, and although there’s a lot of “noise,” I think I reach many more people than I used to before it was around. As with anything else in life, this way of connecting has its dangers and potential for abuse.

DTS: The initial victims presented in the book -- I'm thinking of the first kills especially but then also somewhat with Mark, the close call -- seemed like somewhat flawed people. They seemed vain, superficial, reckless, and/or closeted (particularly in contrast to Ed and Peter). Was this intentional? Were you intending any kind of commentary in that about aspects of urban gay men or culture? Or about the kind of men who would use hookup sites regularly?

RRR: To be quite honest, no. I think a lot of my writing flows from my subconscious and what you say about these characters make sense and while I wouldn’t say it was wrong, I would be the first to admit that my only intention was creating real people who are often flawed…and many of the adjectives you used above. I will say that I think hookup sites are used by all different sorts of men for all different sorts of reasons and to blanket characterize the group as a whole would be ridiculous.

DTS: If you had to sum up the moral or lesson of IM, what would that be?

To realize that the Internet can often be a lot of smoke and mirrors and even if you think you know with whom you’re hooking up, use caution. Meet first in a public place. Tell someone you trust where you’re going if you’re meeting up with someone. There are no guarantees for either bad or good resulting from Internet interaction, but there are precautions that might help tip the scales in your favor.

To purchase IM in trade paperback go here.

To purchase IM as an ebook, go here (for Kindle) or here (for other ebook formats).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Not Even My Husband Knows!" The Secrets of Erotica Writers



Last weekend, when I was in Las Vegas at Epicon, the big annual gathering of electronic publishing professionals, I had the pleasure of meeting many others of my ilk: namely those of us who toil a good part of our lives away in solitude writing stories that we hope will entertain, inform, and provoke thoughts and emotions.

One woman I met at the Thursday night party seemed a cheerful sort. She came right up to me and began telling me about all the erotica she writes and publishes. She's quite a name among erotica e-book readers. But then she said something that surprised me: "Nobody knows I write erotica. Even my best friends and my family don't know. Not even my husband knows!" She laughed and I laughed with her, but then I was thinking, "But aren't you proud of what you do? Why would you spend all the effort and time on something that no one near and dear to you even knows you do?" I assume family and friends know at least that she's a writer and have just not delved into the subject matter of her work...or perhaps they don't know at all. Later in the conference, a male erotica writer confided that he needed to keep his identity as a writer of erotica separate from his real life because he also coached Little League baseball. He didn't think writing erotica would go over too well with the parents of the kids he coached. And I think he may have something there, though I think some of the kids might think it's way cool.

But the coach did make me begin to understand this need for anonymity the successful writer I met on Thursday felt she needed. And that was brought home to me the other day when I had lunch with a friend here in Seattle. I was telling him about Epicon and the people I'd met and happened to bring up that I'd met several people who wrote erotica.

He grinned and sort of rolled his eyes and said, "You mean porn?"

Now, this isn't the first time I have heard of erotica being equated with porn, but I did have a flash of further understanding about why someone would choose a nom de plume under which to publish their erotic writing. I don't think my friend's assertion was all that uncommon. I did try to explain that there was a difference, but found it hard to do. I think, the short answer would be that erotica uses sex as a way to bring out emotional themes and to propel a story, whereas porn is there purely for the sake of titillation. Porn does not need character development, a plot, or any commentary on the human condition. It's unfettered, one-handed reading. Nothing wrong with that, in my mind, if that's what you're in the mood for and no one's getting hurt. But all this talk at the conference about being "in the closet" as an erotica writer made me wonder how many others out there automatically think "porn" when they hear "erotica."

I am not above writing the occasional porno story. But the two book covers above, the first for Fugue and the second for MANamorphosis, demonstrate stories that are all about sex, but I don't think are porn. Fugue, in particular, is quite graphic, XXX-rated, yet I think,in the end, it's a story about power in a relationship and the varying ways we experience love...and it's themes like that, I think, that differentiate erotica from porn.

What do you think? For you, what separates erotica from porn? Really, I wanna know. Please leave me a comment below.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

ORIENTATION Called "Love Story with a Sense of Mysticism"



It's rare you find such a thoughtful reviewer of books, someone who has really taken the time to not only read a book and report on its contents, comment on pacing, plot, and characterization, but goes the extra mile and really considers what's between the lines.

Such is the case with reviewer Jay Hartman and his insightful, and positive, review of my reincarnation love story, Orientation on his informative and entertaining website, Untreed Reads. Jay said:

"Absolutely a don’t-miss read. Fans of films such as Crash and other stories where characters are drawn together under seemingly unlikely circumstances will gobble this story up. The incredibly well-written prose is coupled with dynamic characters who are three-dimensional, vivid, engaging and interesting...an amazing snapshot of pain, love, fall from grace and redemption among a small group of people doing their best to survive the sadness and terrors of everyday living. This is not so much a ghost story or horror story as a love story with a sense of mysticism about it. A thoroughly enjoyable read."

Read the rest of the review here.

For an excerpt and e-book and trade paperback purchasing options, go here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The 'AWA

By A. J. Llewellyn

Anyone who reads my books will tell you about my painstaking attention to detail since my stories are all set in the Hawaiian Islands. I like to introduce ancient lore as well as current places for couples to eat, drink and be er…merry (I am including the hot sex here).

Anyway, an interesting thing happened to me in Honolulu yesterday. I have discovered Kava or as the locals call it, ‘Awa and in all the research I have done, the ancient Hawaiians loved to sip this stuff. Enough of it makes you quite euphoric…well…two bowls is supposed to be the bomb.
What they should really tell you is two bowls will get you bombed. My mate Tony, his lover Antonio, my dad, his girlfriend and I decided to whizz by my new discovery, The Cove, and partake before our Valentine’s Day celebration last night.

I don’t know why we were all so giddy, but I have noticed my friends and family have a tendency to pooh-pooh my new discoveries. Nobody believed me about the ‘Awa so we drove down to Diamond Head and we each bought a bowlful.

Now, I was about to celebrate Valentine’s Day…me and two couples. Of course l welcomed the idea of being euphoric and otherwise sublimely…snuckered…since my own partner is across the country. I just didn’t dig the idea they all thought I was full of shit.

But I digress.

We crammed into the place that caters to a very hippyish clientele who all looked mighty jolly. Lord knows how many pints of the stuff they all sucked down…but judging by the weird art on the walls and the pseudo fashionable music they were listening to…they’d imbibed buckets of the stuff.

Our cute waitress served up ‘Awa in coconut shell bowls. Like I had told my posse, it tastes like dirt and is very very cold. It is not a drink to be savored. The Cove is only one of two places on the entire island that serves ‘Awa and we all tried to be properly awed by the occasion.
I felt the same way I did the other day when I tried one…a tang on the back of the throat, numb lips…followed by…nothing.

We all took our waitress’s advice and ordered a second bowl each. She advised drinking it quickly. We chugged down a second bowl and left the place arguing.

We drove to our dinner in Waikiki at the glorious House Without a Key at the fabulous Halekulani where the arguments continued. You’re not supposed to drink on top of ‘Awa…it can apparently make you sick. Since I was the designated driver, I stuck to water, but the men in my family are damned showoffs. They ordered drinks and ten minutes into our night on the town…complete inertia hit us all.

I don’t remember the music or the show…well…embarrassing moments I do recall. I don’t know who ordered pasta and fish for everyone or more bread and crackers…but I remember seeing Tony crawling on his knees to pinch an extra basket of home-baked potato chips from the bus boys’ station. Antonio and I sang a pretty embarrassing version of Tiny Bubbles - whilst Greek dancing. I was hammered, but good.

An ‘Awa high is not like booze or pot (yes of course I’ve bloody tried it). You feel completely relaxed and at peace. You love everybody and everything tastes so good…damn those missionaries for robbing ordinary folk of a bloody good time!

It seemed to me since I didn’t drink alcohol and I was the only one still awake that I should still be the designated driver. I was feeling very mellow after dinner and a couple of cups of coffee. We all remarked ‘Awa was excellent…then we got into the car.

Hey, you ever seen the episode of I Love Lucy - one of the ‘on the way to Hollywood’ episodes - where she takes the wheel as Ricky, Ethel and Fred snooze and she drives for hours, winding up in the same spot?

I am here to tell you it is possible. Oh, yes, I drove away from the hotel at 8.30 and somehow managed to arrive back there at 10.02pm!

Nobody could believe it. Least of all me. I know this evening will go down in our personal family history as a classic A.J. escapade and will not make me look very good in years to come, but I look at it this way. I just got a slice of invaluable research that will go into my next book. Nothing
I experience goes to waste…it just breaks my heart that I will have to wait until I return to Hawaii to try my next bowl of ‘Awa…

Aloha oe,

A.J.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Through the Closet Door Makes Number Seven


Even a jaded old fart like myself gets all excited when I make a bestseller list, so I just about peed my pants with joy when I saw that my latest story, Through the Closet Door had made number seven on the January bestsellers for Amber Allure.

Part of my excitement (well, most of it, actually...who am I tryin' to kid?) comes from the fact that the story is reaching readers. But honestly, the other part is thrilled that there's such a positive response to such a personal story. Although Through the Closet Door is not autobiographical, the emotions and situation are. I went through what Gregory did: falling in love with and marrying a lovely woman at a young age and then coming to terms with my homosexuality. In a perfect world, I would have done the second thing first and then maybe I wouldn't have hurt other people. But hindsight, as they say, is 20/20...and another part of me is very grateful I had those seven good years of marriage and the wonderful son those years produced.

In Through the Closet Door, Gregory is just realizing he has to be who he is...and I know what a painful journey that can be. His journey isn't finished yet, though. I am planning at least one more part--and a couple of surprises--for these characters.

Here's the synopsis for Through the Closet Door:

Gregory has all the pieces in place: youth, good looks, a beautiful wife, a job he loves as an elementary school teacher, a quiet house on the beach...

So why is Gregory so miserable? Why is he unable to control his lingering gaze on his neighbor, Jake, the handsome truck driver who lives just down the way from him? Why does Gregory spend his private time keeping a secret journal that details fantasies and memories of him locked in embraces with other men?

It's summer, and the peaceful lake belies the turmoil in Gregory's heart. His wife wants to start a family, while Gregory wants to start something with Jake, but doesn't dare.

Rick R. Reed's heartbreaking new story brings to painful life the consequences of coming out of the closet when you're married and no one in the world but you knows the secrets you harbor. Gregory's mask is slipping, pulled down by the allure of a handsome neighbor and the demands of a desire that gets only louder the more he tries to quiet it.

Climbing out of the closet is never easy...but it's even more difficult when doing so might shatter the lives of those around you...


Now, won't you help a poor writer out and keep it on the bestseller list for February too? Is that asking too much?

Buy Through the Closet Door.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ma Ma Loa

By A.J. Llewellyn


I rarely blog about my books and I never post excerpts in blogs, especially shared blogs. I put a lot of thought and effort into each and every blog, but since I am once again preparing to head to Hawaii in a few days, I felt it was important to talk about my new book Ma Ma Loa which was published by eXtasy Books today.
No, I am not going to post an excerpt and violate my own rules…but I do want to mention what inspired the idea. It’s one which has stayed with me since my visit to Hawaii last Spring when I went to the old Chinese cemetery in the Manoa Valley on the outskirts of Honolulu.
I was very depressed. One of my best friends had lost a painful battle with cancer. My beloved cat of fifteen years had also passed and my latest relationship was in trouble. I was feeling overwhelmed. I have no idea why I drove to the cemetery since I’d never been into it and whenever I went past it, I got chicken skin (goosebumps).
But I sat in my overheated rental car, pondering my next life move when I saw this procession of very old Chinese men and women emerging from brand new, shiny cars with brightly colored paper and plastic sacks full of…who knew what and the writer in me just had to find out.
Being a white guy, I thought I might have trouble blending in…but they didn’t seem surprised that a volunteer had shown up. I am a big volunteer in life. I give a lot of my time to an animal rescue group, my local library and a homeless shelter. This particular gig though was one which particularly intrigued me.
These old men and women were there to clean the graves of the Baby Section. I cannot describe the mingled sensation of loss and hope as they cleaned off the offerings left on graves - some over 200 years old. These were not their ancestors, but the graves of children otherwise forgotten on the island. They were the offspring of plantation workers brought to the islands under horrendous conditions, longterm contracts and a lot of local hostility.
The ring leader of the volunteers was an 82 year old woman with one tooth left in her head and an abundance of energry that would exhaust Serena Williams. Her name was Marianne.
She told me they came to tend the children once a month. They bring them flowers and candies. I was not allowed to set food inside the cemetery until I left a candy at the gates. I swear I heard the ghosts of those children as I stepped forward. And I sensed their excitement. I have always been attracted to the dead since my mother died when I was six. I suppose now I think of it, since I cannot visit her grave in Sydney, Australia, I am drawn to cemeteries as a way of connecting with her.
This experience though was something else…the Chinese men and women insisted that taking care of the dead is essential, since they watch over us. They left red papers and cloths on many of the graves, fruit, rice cakes, bao…and for the children, tons and tons of candy.
Marianne, liuke most who have suffered loss, knew I was hurting.
She came over and placed her hand on my chest. “You will see. You will grow another heart,” she said.
And she was right. I went back to Manoa at Christmastime and found a few of the old folk still there, attending Marianne’s funeral. It broke my heart to know she died, but I felt it was no mistake I’d arrived on this day…her send-off to the hereafter.
I like to think all her children were waiting for her, to reward her with playtime and laughter for never forgetting them.
Next weekend, I will go back and let her know she inspired Ma Ma Loa. That she lives on. And that her humble, unique way of giving back has inspired a light in me.

Aloha oe,
A.J.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

MANamorphosis Gets New Cover!



I just got up this morning to find an e-mail with the cover (by the talented Trace Edward Zaber) for my next release from Amber Allure (the GLBT arm of Amber Quill Press) and I am thrilled with it on so many levels. Not to mention that it's a delicious piece of eye-candy, but it also perfectly encapsulates what the story is about (and it is a short story, published in e-book form.


The story begins:


I awoke one morning from uneasy dreams to find my penis had transformed itself into a vagina…


And here's basically what it's about (which is why the cover is so clever and thoughtful):


Thus begins the story of a very unusual day in the life of Rick, one utterly baffled gay man. After the shock wears off about his new, compelling, and completely different genitalia, this promiscuous, fun-loving gay man wonders how he can take advantage of his bizarre new gift.


Bagging a straight man is the first thing that comes to mind. Well, actually bagging whole battalions of straight men spring to mind.


There's only one problem: while he now has his very own love taco, he has none of the customary toppings to go with it. Enter Pete Thickwhistle, friend and drag artist extraordinaire. Pete quickly sets about making his friend's appearance go from butch man to convincing female as fast as you can say “Max Factor.”


Rick, now Rickie, sets off on his quest for yards and yards of straight man flesh. Little did he know that what awaited him was not his lust’s desire, but his heart’s. Rickie finds that when you got out looking just for sex, you may end up with something a lot more substantial…



And finally, here's a little taste to whet your appetite. Although the cover man might be a lot more tempting when you think about taste, I hope you'll give the book a try when it comes out around Valentine's Day.


It wasn’t long before my doorbell was ringing. And no, that’s not a euphemism for another orgasm, although I did linger over my new toy for a while longer lying in bed, managing to come a couple more times before arising. That was just one of the attributes of my glorious acquisition: I could come again and again without worrying about silly notions like erections and refractory periods. I had also showered. Under the pulsating spray, I experienced yet another orgasm as I loofahed myself down there; the marriage of a rough sponge and clitoris would have had me climbing the tiled walls of my tub enclosure, had they not been as slippery as my now spanking clean pleasure portal. And who knew the “massage” setting on my showerhead could produce such divine results? What had I done without this portal to pleasure before? It seemed like with each passing moment, it revealed yet another wonder to me.


I reluctantly dragged myself from the shower and dressed in T-shirt and jeans that were now curiously flat in the crotch. Barefoot, I padded out of my room to answer the door.


Awaiting me downstairs was my friend, and sometimes woman, Pete Thickwhistle. The masculine sounding moniker, with its allusions to penises and girth, belied his given name. Pete, with his willowy frame, and mane of blond tresses, didn’t need much to look like a female, but that didn’t stop him from gilding the lily. That sissy could layer on so much make-up it took a sandblaster to get it all off. I had no intentions of letting him go Tammy Faye Baker—God rest her soul—on my face.


“Good morning, Miss Mary Sunshine!” Pete chirped and I thought, you don’t know the half of it, sister. I stepped back to admit Pete, who was wearing pin striped bell bottoms, platform shoes, a satin blouse unbuttoned almost the naval and a tasteful Hermes scarf wound around his Audrey Hepburn neck in the fashion of a cravat. Behind him trailed the scent of Chanel No. 5.


I led him to the living room, made sure he was sitting, and explained what had happened overnight.

“You’re shittin’ me?” Pete said, suddenly not sounding very feminine at all. He cocked his head at me, an incredulous smirk affixed to a face so closely shaved I wondered for a moment if he waxed it.


So I dropped my jeans and showed him.