COVER REVEAL and Preorders for Wayward Son (Sons, Book 2)

Another gorgeous job by the fabulous Paul Richmond!

WaywardSon_smallIsn’t Mikey pretty? :)

The blurb for Wayward Son:

After his move to Atlanta and away from the influence of his conservative parents, Mikey O’Malley finally feels free to be himself: art student, aspiring animator, and out gay man. He has friends, a new job, and not one, but two men interested in him. Cory Lassiter and Jimmy Black have been a happy couple for years, occasionally bringing a twink into their bed, but only for a brief roll in the hay. When Mikey meets the pair, the attraction is immediate, and it runs three ways. Mikey just can’t believe they’d have room in their lives for a permanent addition.

When Mikey’s newfound life is shattered by a lawsuit that accuses him of molesting a child years earlier, he’s determined to face his troubles on his own, but Cory and Jimmy are just as determined that he not have to go it alone. To reconcile his need for independence and his desire for love, Mikey has to learn that being a man isn’t just about standing on your own two feet. It’s about letting yourself lean on the ones who love you.

Wayward Son releases May 11 from Dreamspinner Press.

Preorder links: Ebook || Print

Michele Fogal on Men and Misogyny

Today my guest is Michele Fogal, who’s here to talk about her inspiration for the second book in her West Coast Boys series: the effect misogyny has on boys and men.

Hi all! Thanks for having me Shae! I love your questions about inspiration and process so I thought I’d tell you a bit about how my new book, King of Rain, came into being.

A Dark Place to Start

king_of_snowflakes_smallIn book 1 of my West Coast Boys series, Jeremy was the cheating ex, and Logan was a giant competitive, shallow asshole with a surprising capacity for sexual assault. The King of Snowflakes boys were sweet in so many ways, and these two looked pretty rough next to them. But neither Logan nor Jeremy were content to take the blame and play the villain. It was like they were standing just a little behind me, patiently telling me little bits of their stories. Whenever I got curious enough to ask the right question, they would answer. Questions like, Why would you act like that? What are you running from? What does that feel like?

The Unrolling

Of course they both had plenty to hide, and when it all unrolled, it turned out to partly be a story about boys who are suffering from misogyny. When I was younger and a passionate feminist, I thought that men benefited from patriarchy. It certainly looks that way. Men earn more, own more, hold the vast majority of the high status positions of the world.

Then I had a son. Yup, motherhood is an education in all kinds of ways.

A Lesson in Boys

It was such a shock to me to see how boys suffer from the gender role bullshit in so many ways. They get told that any part of them that’s tender, or loving, or vulnerable is weak, shameful and female. I grew up hearing names like sissy, and wuss (‘a feeble or effeminate person’) but I never thought of this as misogyny. Then when I witnessed it as a mother, and realized that calling the softness of a man “feminine” and then humiliating him for being “less than” a man, is plain old hatred-of-women.


It’s pretty simple. Bigotry towards any member of a group, negatively impacts everyone in that group. That was a strong thread in the back-story of both Logan and Jeremy. Jer was brought up in a small town where being gay was really dangerous. To me, discrimination against gay men is clearly rooted in the hatred of women. He learned to give bigots the finger and embrace his sexual nature, but he also got hurt. He closed his heart off and never let anyone get too close to him.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

Bubbling Vats

Logan was raised by a family that looks pretty progressive from the outside, but on the inside, there’s patriarchy, misogyny, and a fierce lesson in fitting in at all costs. Logan wasn’t just afraid of being gay, he was afraid of the parts of himself that other people would label “feminine.” It’s one thing to battle against the world, and it’s another to battle against the poison you’ve absorbed and made your own. For Logan, internalized homophobia is also internalized misogyny, and hating yourself is not inert. It bubbles. Holding that in for years as it grows becomes a pressurized life for him. At the end of “King of Snowflakes,” he’s a bomb, ready to explode.


King_of_Rain_smallWhen King of Rain starts, we get to see how Logan’s rage marks the end of his life as he knows it, and how Jeremy feels stopped in his tracks by what’s happened to him too. The story is an exploration of how these two young men challenge each other to grow a little, to break free a little, and to risk getting vulnerable enough to love a lot. Luckily, their broken cracks line up in some unexpected ways and witnessing them trying to handle each other became heart squeezing for me. It was terrifying and wonderful, all at once. I hope you enjoy their crazy ride as much as I have.

Give Away Contest

Here’s the Give-Away contest details – remember you can simply comment on THIS post to enter, if that’s easier for you!

Rafflecopter Link

Question for Commenters

What do you think about the idea of misogyny and homophobia going hand in hand? Have you witnessed the men and boys in your life suffering from this prejudice?

Blurb for King of Rain

Being uber-tall and broad made it easy for Logan to hide his sexuality and vulnerability behind armor made of strength, ambition, and emotional detachment. His mask of macho success is shattered when he discovers the friend he’s carried a secret torch for has a boyfriend, and everything he’s always wanted now belongs to someone else. Logan can’t pretend not to care anymore, as his rage erupts in a horrible act of revenge. It’s impossible to hide his demons, now that they’ve broken loose.

Since losing his sweet boyfriend, Jeremy’s loud and proud life of sex parties and clubbing feels empty. When he meets the dark and self-destructive Logan, Jeremy recognizes the demons he sees in Logan’s eyes. After all, he has plenty of his own.

Logan isn’t looking for love, he’s looking for punishment and release, but with Jeremy all three seem momentarily possible… until he learns his victim was Jeremy’s lost love. Logan doesn’t expect forgiveness and knows he doesn’t deserve a real life, but after a taste of intimate closeness, finding salvation alone will mean he has to change, or die trying.

Purchase Links

Dreamspinner Press
Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks
Google Play

Thanks so much for having me Shae! Readers, here’s where to find out more about King of Rain.  I’d love to hear from you if you want to reach out, or follow the rest of the blog tour.

michele-fogalAbout the Author

Michele Fogal is a Love Story Novelist, in both SF & M/M Romance, a mother, a story addict, an endless student and a drooling xenophile. She is the author of the West Coast Boys series, published by Dreamspinner Press.

Author Links

Author Site & Blog
The Books I Love & My Reviews on GoodReads
Facebook Page

COVER REVEAL: Butt Riders on the Range

And here we go! The cover for the next “butt-thology,” coming April 29 from Wilde City Press:

As you can probably tell, this time we’re all about cowboys. Here’s the blurb for my story, “Faux Cowboy”:

For the past year, Jackson James has been playing a gay cowboy for an advertising campaign, but when he meets real-life cowboy Doug Shaw in a Manhattan bar, he falls spurs over Stetson. After a night of drinking, dancing, and hot sex, Doug learns that Jackson isn’t exactly what he seems—but it turns out he’s not the only one hiding secrets.

More info and buy links coming soon!

Brynn Stein on First vs. Third and Ray of Sunlight

Today my guest is Brynn Stein, here to talk about writing in first versus third person and feature her new story, Ray of Sunlight. Don’t miss the giveaway info!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Shae.

Today I thought I’d talk about writing in first person versus third person.

So far I’ve split right down the middle with the stories I’ve written. Haunted and Living Again are written in third person, as is an upcoming story, For Mac. On the other hand, Through the Years, and Ray of Sunlight are written in first person, as is an upcoming story, What No One Else Can Hear.

I don’t really decide what POV to write in. The story just sort of comes in one or the other, usually. I’ve tried to change a story from first to third, or vice versa, but it doesn’t really work. The one exception to that is the story I’m writing now, From the Ashes. It was originally coming to me in alternating first person.  I even wrote two chapters that way. Then apparently the characters decided that they didn’t like that way and the rest of the story is coming in third person. So, I had to go back and rewrite the first two chapters. At least it allowed me to do that this time, and I have to admit that third person is working out better for this particular story.

There are pros and cons to each point of view, as far as I’m concerned.

I like first person because it allows me to write less formally throughout the story, since it’s almost the one character’s dialogue. It gives the reader a better insight into that character and there is a lot of personality in the writing. However, it limits the insight into all the other characters, and limits which situations I can write about. If that character isn’t there, obviously I can’t write about it, unless someone tells the character about it later.

Third person, especially alternating third, gives insight into more characters and frees up which situations I can write about. Of course that opens up a debate between limited third and omniscient third, or alternating limited third. But I’ll get into that on another day.

What about you? Writers, do you have a preference of which POV you write in? Do your stories give you a choice or do they come to you in one or the other? Readers, do you have a preference about what to read? I know some people refuse to read first person. Some people prefer it. What about you?

Comment below for a chance to win.

RayofSunlight_FBbanner_HarmonyHere’s how the giveaway will work. Visit as many blog tour sites as you want (full list here), as often as you want. Each comment will enter you to win one of the following prizes: 1st) An autographed paperback copy of Ray of Sunlight, 2nd) An electronic copy of Ray of Sunlight, 3rd) Your choice of audio or electronic copy of Living Again, 4th) An electronic copy of Through the Years, and 5th) an electronic copy of Haunted. The takeovers for Harmony Ink’s blog and Facebook page will be part of the tour, so comments on there will count. I will draw the winners during the FB takeover (March 21) and will announce them then, but will come back and announce it to all the sites too. So, you don’t have to leave your email address here if you don’t want to, just remember to check back. You’re also welcome to leave your email in the comments if you’d rather or email me at with the subject heading of “just in case”, so I can contact you if you win, if you don’t want to have to stop back by the blog sites. You don’t have to be present at the FB takeover to win.

RayofSunlight_smallRuss Michaels has his whole life ahead of him but no plans beyond dropping out of school as soon as he turns eighteen. He’s been in and out of juvenile detention for the last four years and thoroughly expects to end up in an adult penitentiary at some point. He hates life and everyone in it, especially this latest community service that he earned in lieu of juvie yet again.
CJ Calhoun has big plans. He wants to bring joy and happiness to sick and injured children for as long as he can by performing as a clown. The problem is, he has stage-four cancer and a horrible prognosis.
When circumstances throw these two polar opposites together, they find they have more in common than they imagined. CJ discovers Russ’s talent for art and arranges for Russ to create a mural in the hospital foyer, which leads to a tentative scholarship to the Art Institute. As life changes in ways neither of them could have expected, Russ must work harder than ever to better himself as CJ struggles with his deteriorating health.

About the Author

logo extreme cutBrynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres—everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural—she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered “slash,” male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.

Brynn lives in Virginia near her two grown daughters who encourage her writing and provide a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.

Please feel free to contact Brynn at any of the following:

Amelia Bishop on Character Flaws and Night Vision

My guest today is Amelia Bishop, here to talk about writing flawed characters in romance and her new release, Night Vision.

Hi! I’m Amelia Bishop, thank you, Shae, for having me here today.

I have a recent release to promote (Night Vision) but I think the topic I’d like to blog about here is more general.

I’ve been writing m/m Romance, mostly Paranormal, for several years now. I always had some trouble finding stories I really could relate to. I was so tired of the typical alpha-male heroes and beefcake super-lovers. So I started writing the kinds of stories I wanted to read. I didn’t think much about who’d like them, or what the standard Romance formula is, or what reviewers would think or say. That might have been dumb… but anyway, I just jumped right in and wrote my stories, blissfully ignorant of the expectations I was failing to meet.

Along the way, I have learned that the kinds of things I like are not the kinds of things most people like. I guess the reason I was having so much trouble finding stories and characters I enjoyed reading is that those types of plots and main characters are not very popular. Huh. Oh well, I still love them!

I write characters who have real flaws. Sure, most Romance MCs have flaws, but generally they are not real flaws. They are just decoration. Like the orphaned MC who clings to his partner out of a fear of abandonment. Sweet. Or the slightly OCD character who really needs to have everything nice and neat. Adorkable. Or even more serious flaws that, once they have served their purpose in the plot, kind of fade away and never really interfere with the main Romance or the character’s lives at all.

I also write more ordinary (boring?) situations and circumstances. No hostage rescues, no daring leaps off a burning building, no crazed obsessive ex-lovers holding the MCs at gunpoint. Just fairly believable situations and reactions, even if the characters are sometimes supernatural.

And to make it even worse, I write human-quality sex. I mean, my characters really enjoy it, but it isn’t the mind-blowing, hair-trigger orgasm, sex-god sex of most Romance novels. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes it’s pretty close to reality.

The end result is that while I am usually happy with my stories, some (many?) Romance readers are not. I feel kind of bad about that, honestly. But I’m not sure I’m going to change.

So I’m wondering, is there a place for Romance that does not follow the formula? Is there a difference between a “Romance” and a “love story”? And if so, which do you prefer?

What kinds of things are deal breakers for you, as a Romance reader? Are there any flaws or circumstances which would make you dislike an otherwise engaging MC?

And…If by some chance you are interested in reading a story about a socially awkward emotional-empath and a quiet systems-administrator, check out my paranormal romance (or love story?) Night Vision.

Thanks so much Shae Connor for having me here!

NightVisionFS_smallTheron Antonopolis, a strige, feeds on human emotion. In a tranquil suburban neighborhood, his best meals come from a quiet systems administrator who’s become more than a source of nourishment for Theron—Alex Rowler is an obsession. Theron can no longer remain in the shadows. When they meet, any attraction Alex feels toward the sexy monster is overshadowed by his anxiety and distrust of Theron’s supernatural powers. But sensing the underlying arousal, Theron begins courting his human.

As months pass, Theron falls deeply in love, and the need to complete the strige bonding ceremony with his human lover becomes overwhelming. But a permanent commitment is too much, too soon for Alex, and he delays the joining, despite Theron’s insistence they are running out of time. As an unbonded pair, however, Theron and Alex draw the attention of the Midnight Parliament, and the lovers are brought to trial to determine their fate.

Buy Links: AmazonDreamspinnerAllRomance
Amelia Bishop links: TwitterFacebookBlogAmazonPinterestGoodreads

Anna Butler on Sex in a Non-AIDS World

My guest today is Anna Butler, here to talk about her new releases, The Gilded Scarab and Gyrfalcon, and how she approached writing in those worlds. Be sure to check out the giveaway options! :)

One of the more tricky questions I had to ask myself when writing both The Gilded Scarab and the Taking Shield series, was how to deal with sex.

Neither book has a lot of sex scenes (which some readers may deplore!), but the two or three that are there, are reasonably explicit. Neither book is contemporary. The Gilded Scarab is set in an alternate London of 1900, and the Shield series is set on a world halfway across the galaxy, thousands of years into an alternate future where Earth is dead and dark. AIDS doesn’t feature in either world.

I’m committed to what someone once called the struggle for health. General health, I mean. Better nutrition, good water, access to healthcare for all. And, of course, better sexual health. Shortly after AIDS became news, before therapies and drug regimens that make it manageable, I lost a neighbour to it. I watched his health decline, his weight drop away, his energies wane. It was a sad time. It brought home—hard—that the struggle for sexual health, everyone’s sexual health, was one in which we all have a stake.

When it came to writing my books, the issue for me was simple: do I have a moral obligation to write the sex scenes as if AIDS did indeed exist, and therefore not write anything that would undermine safe sex messages? Or write it and just sort of skate over the issues? After all, sex can be safe and safe can be sexy…

In the end, I don’t make mention of it.

I concluded that a novel isn’t a good way of proselytising and, if it doesn’t sound too pretentious, it isn’t my job as a writer to write role models but to write the characters as they unfold themselves to me. Being true to them, if you like. In neither Gilded Scarab nor Gyrfalcon is AIDS or safe sex an issue.

What’s more, I trust my readers to be grown ups and adult, and not need me to tell them, with big flashing warning lights, that the books aren’t real. After all, if I’m reading about a drug addict, I’m not going to take him or her as a role model for my own life. I recognise that their lives are within the constraints of the book. So I don’t expect any of you will be thinking “But why aren’t those two Victorian gentleman, or those two space pilots ten thousand years in the future, fishing about for the condoms? Maybe I can be that adventurous too…”

So, was I right? What do you think?

GildedScarabsmallWhen Captain Rafe Lancaster is invalided out of the Britannic Imperium’s Aero Corps after crashing his aerofighter during the Second Boer War, his eyesight is damaged permanently, and his career as a fighter pilot is over. Returning to Londinium in late November 1899, he’s lost the skies he loved, has no place in a society ruled by an elite oligarchy of powerful Houses, and is hard up, homeless, and in desperate need of a new direction in life.

 Everything changes when he buys a coffeehouse near the Britannic Imperium Museum in Bloomsbury, the haunt of Aegyptologists. For the first time in years, Rafe is free to be himself. In a city powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston, and where powerful men use House assassins to target their rivals, Rafe must navigate dangerous politics, deal with a jealous and possessive ex-lover, learn to make the best coffee in Londinium, and fend off murder and kidnap attempts before he can find happiness with the man he loves.

(Cover by Reese Dante)


Dreamspinner as an ebook and in paperback.

From an Amazon near you ( and links for starters)

All Romance as an ebook

GyrfalconsmallEarth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—or with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.


Gyrfalcon is available as an ebook at Wilde City Press


Comment here and get an entry in a rafflecopter to win an Amazon gift card (drawn when the blog tour is over at the end of March).

Rafflecopter Link

In addition, one commentator chosen at complete close-eyes-stick-a-pin-in-it random will get their choice of a little pack of Gilded Scarab or Gyrfalcon loot and a free copy of FlashWired (a gay mainstream sci-fi novella).


Anna Butler was a communications specialist for many years, working in UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to running an internal TV service. She now spends her time indulging her love of old-school science fiction. She lives in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockapoo.

Find Anna:

Website and Blog


The Butler’s Pantry (Facebook Group)



Transgender* Romance Writers Blog Hop

Trans_ blog hop badgeI want to thank Shae Connor for letting us stop by on our Transgender* Romance Writers Blog Hop.

One of the reasons we are hopping around on a Transgender* Romance Writers Blog Tour is to give our readers a better understanding of what it means to be transgender* and to start a dialogue. The more we understand >>> the more accepting we will be.

Let’s take a look at the genderbread person. The picture depicts for us how gender identity, biological sex, gender expression and sexual orientation reside in different locations. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. The sliding scales allows for us to be on different ends of the spectrum or not. We are all unique. Where are you on the scale?


We want to encourage your participation in this hop so please leave a comment, tell us where you fall on the genderbread person or ask us questions for a chance to win:

1 of 2 $20 Amazon gift cards
1 of 1 $20 online retailers B&N, ARE, or Amazon
1 of 1 $15 gift card
1 e-book copy of Groom of Convenience
1 e-book copy of Illusions & Dreams
1 e-book copy of Transgression

The winners will be picked after our last stop March 5th. We will notify you by e-mail.

A few questions and answers with the blog hop authors…

What has been the reader reception to your story?  

Theo Fenraven: Based on the reviews I’ve read, it seems 95 percent of people enjoyed it. Many of them contacted me to talk about it.

Sara York: It’s been positive. I think we made it clear that one of our characters was transgender, and the people who have read the book have enjoyed it.

Corvus Alyse: So far, those who have read my WIP have been very enthusiastic about wanting me to write more. It’s coming guys! I just have a bit more life stuff to organize.

Ethan Stone: I’d say it was very well. The complaints with the story aren’t about Taylor. I haven’t heard from any trans* man or woman saying we got it wrong, but I have heard from one or two who loved the story.

Vicktor Alexander: LOL. I had a reader (who gave Groom of Convenience a 5-star rating) liken the book to Marmite. Now, since I hate Marmite, I thought she was insulting it. But she said that people were either going to love it or hate it. But she was right. For the most part I either get 1 or 5 star ratings for the book from readers. I’ve had a lot of readers who seem to love it (YAY!) and have been after me about the sequel, and they love the new approach to gender I’ve taken. The four new genders that I’ve created. The way I’ve pushed people past their limits when it comes to understanding their ideas of genders and even opened their minds and held up a mirror to some phobias they may have had. But some of it was a little too confusing I think for some readers, which I can understand.

Z.Allora: Readers are surprised by how much they enjoyed the genre, which was new to most of them and how much they learned (like not everyone who is transgender needs or wants surgery).

Kimberly Gardner: It’s difficult to say since I don’t hear very much from readers. HFL has gotten some good reviews, but as every writer knows, reviews don’t necessarily translate into sales.

Transparency Blurb:

Transparency Shae's blogCharlie is the quintessential bear. Big, muscular and hairy. But that isn’t the type of men he’s attracted to. He is drawn to men like Taylor—short, smooth, and sexy. Taylor is Charlie’s idea of the perfect twink. But there’s something about Taylor Charlie doesn’t know.

Taylor is unsure about a lot of things, but when he sees Charlie, he instantly knows he wants him. The only issue standing in his way is how Taylor views his own masculinity. He’s afraid that Charlie will leave once he knows the secret Taylor wants to keep hidden. Can he be transparent with Charlie and allow him to look behind the image he’s so carefully constructed?

Excerpt from Transparency

(It occurs at the end of Taylor and Charlie’s first date.)

All too soon they were back at Taylor’s place and Charlie shot him a look that melted Taylor’s underwear. Charlie didn’t waste any time in getting out of the car and coming around to open Taylor’s door. His knees were weak and he leaned against Charlie, praying for some sort of reprieve. He didn’t want this to end. Any other man, he would have patted him on the back and said he’d had a nice time, but Charlie was too good to let go. Nice, good-looking, sexy, strong—any positive adjective Taylor thought of could be used to describe Charlie. This date—this man was all too good to be true.

Everything was going great as they entered his building. Taylor had a plan and he knew he could talk fast enough to explain to Charlie why he didn’t want to actually fuck, or undress below the waist, but then he heard a sound that stilled his heart. Clunky shoes clomping down the hardwood stairs, their loud voices ringing out made him wish he’d told Charlie to go home. He tried to hurry Charlie to the door, and almost made it, but his key wouldn’t fit in the hole.

“Look at that, the freak has a man.” The high-pitched squeal of Elizabeth’s voice hit him. She’d known Taylor for a long time, long enough to remember when Taylor was Lisa Marie, named after none other than the King’s daughter. Of course, Elizabeth hadn’t wasted any time telling her roommates about Taylor’s past. Had he known Elizabeth lived in this building, he never would have moved in. He still had three months on the lease, and he didn’t have the funds available to break it, so he was stuck in this dump, hearing their taunts, and living with the pain of their teasing every time he saw the group.

His shoulders sagged and tears sprang to his eyes. He felt Charlie straighten beside him. The last thing Taylor wanted was a confrontation. Elizabeth and her friends wouldn’t hesitate to spill the truth, leaving Charlie just as disgusted as all of the other people who didn’t want to listen to his truth.

Fucking tranny was followed close by pussy boy, then girly freak, and all the other derogatory expressions used to describe what others thought he was. The words cut deep, leaving raw gaping holes in the armor that protected him against the depression demons. His shoulders curled in as he worked the key into the lock.

“I’ve had enough of this,” Charlie growled.

Taylor froze, fearful Charlie was going to leave, or worse hit him, but Charlie’s murderous glare wasn’t turned in his direction. The man was going to stand up for Taylor against the bullies. But the fight wasn’t worth it. Elizabeth, and her friends were heading out the door, probably going to a bar or somewhere else, Taylor didn’t care as long as they left him alone. Maybe the group heading away so quickly had a bit to do with Charlie’s muscle, or the angry scowl that even had Taylor frightened.

“Please don’t,” Taylor begged as he grasped Charlie’s shirt and tugged him toward the door and away from the jerks.

“They can’t get away with taking to you like that. Someone needs to teach them a lesson.”

“Please, please, please just let it go. Don’t engage them.” He didn’t want Charlie to fight for him only to be disappointed once he realized what those idiots were saying was true—well, true if you were a narrow-minded prick.

“I can shut them up.” Charlie turned to Taylor, his eyes still full of menace and anger. For one brief second Taylor wanted this man to protect him from the hurt, but he had to deal with the words in a calm and reasonable manner, drawing no more attention to him than necessary. Fighting every asshole who questioned his identity wasn’t realistic. Letting anger rule would set him back, and he’d never be comfortable with who he was.

“Please just come inside,” Taylor begged.

Miraculously, Charlie followed him in. Taylor shut the door, but he still heard the laughter and stinging barbs. He turned the lock, wishing the world would go away. Unable to face Charlie, Taylor braced himself with one hand on the door, and let the tears trail down his cheek. The taunts from his brother and parents filtered through his mind. He was crying like a girl, just more proof he’d never be a man. He’d heard the damning evidence time and time again, and Elizabeth and her friends reminded him with their mean words that he couldn’t hide from the truth.

Charlie’s hand on his shoulder was an unwelcome reminder that falling apart wasn’t an option—yet. He still had to deal with the truth, even if it meant Charlie would pound him. He hoped Charlie wouldn’t beat him, but he guessed he deserved any pain heaped upon him. Going on a date before telling Charlie he was a transman wasn’t fair. But he’d never be given a chance at a real relationship if he led with candor, allowing every potential date to know about his change. That’s why he went to the bookstore. He guessed Pleasures was out now that Charlie knew.

“Hey, babe, come here. Don’t let their words get you down.”

“Didn’t you hear what they said?” Taylor spit out, wishing Charlie would end this instead of drawing out his shame.

“They were just jerks. They probably treat all twinks like shit, calling them names and telling them they’re girly. You’re cute, but a man. That much is obvious.”

Taylor spun around and stared openmouthed at Charlie, wondering if he was full of shit or oblivious. “Didn’t you hear them?”

“What, they’re just jerks. Don’t listen to them.”

“Oh fuck, you didn’t hear their words, did you?”

Charlie threw up his arms and Taylor flinched, wondering when the first blow was going to come. But Charlie never hit him, instead he ran one beefy paw over his beard before sighing heavily.

“Okay, I have a bit of a processing issue. I didn’t hear everything they were saying. I kind of have to listen closely, and sometimes if I’m excited, I can’t hear anything. I’m not stupid, I just don’t concentrate well.”

Taylor heaved in a few breaths before sliding down the door, wrapping his arms around his knees, hugging them close. Charlie knelt in front of him and lifted his hand, his touch gentle, not at all what Taylor expected.

“Don’t cry, let me hold you. I can help you forget what they said.”

Charlie’s words sounded nice, but they had the opposite effect on Taylor. He couldn’t hide the truth from Charlie any longer. The fear was too much and if Charlie walked out or punched him, he’d take it. Charlie was too nice and Taylor owed him that much.

He opened his mouth but the words stayed inside, his fear too great to speak. Then Charlie sat on the floor and pulled Taylor into his lap. The strong arms gave him the courage to speak, and if he was in Charlie’s arms, the guy wouldn’t be able to hit him.

“They weren’t just words, it was the truth. I’m transgender.”

Charlie stilled and even stopped breathing. Taylor waited a second before continuing.

“From as early as I can remember, I knew something was wrong. I’m supposed to be a man. I don’t know why I was born a girl. Every Barbie, every dress, the long hair, all of it, I knew it was wrong. When my breasts developed, I felt so betrayed. I prayed every night, asking for this thing to go away, but I couldn’t live the lie any longer. When I had my first operation, the one where they took my breasts and gave me a flat chest, I finally felt like I was me. This is me.” Taylor crawled off of Charlie’s lap and stood, his gaze unable to meet Charlie’s. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have a penis, and I never will. You can leave now. I’m sorry I made you go out with me and didn’t tell you.”

Taylor waited for Charlie to move, to do anything, but he stayed still, almost as though he was frozen in time. Going out on a date with this man had been wrong. To think he’d be able to have a normal life, too presumptuous. All he wanted was to be accepted as a gay man. Was that too much to ask for?

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Joe Cosentino on Acting, Writing, and Infatuation

Today my guest is Joe Cosentino, author of the new novella An Infatuation from Dreamspinner Press. He answered a few questions about his writing and the story.

What inspired you to start writing, especially your novella An Infatuation?

When I told my mother I wanted to be an actor, she said, “Take this knife and stick it through my heart.” I did it anyway, and acted on stage and screen with stars like Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, Jason Robards, and Nathan Lane. You can see me on YouTube in the ABC-TV movie “My Mother was Never a Kid,” about a third of the way through. As my students say, “You were cute when you were young!”

Anyway, it occurred to me that acting is storytelling in the same way that writing is storytelling, so I decided to give playwriting a try. When I told my mother I wanted to write fiction, she said, “Don’t you have anything better to do?” I wonder if Shakespeare’s mother said that? I knew my first novella would be a bit autobiographical, but have a universal theme. Hasn’t everyone been infatuated with someone? Think about your first infatuation. There’s nothing more powerful.

I was thinking back to my high school days, and how difficult it was back then for a gay teen before GLSEN, PFLAG, and Will and Grace. Lab partners, gym locker rooms, and club meetings where super important. At my high school reunion, I realized things weren’t what they seemed back then. A story was born.

How long did it take you to write this novella, and what did you do the day that you finished it?

It began as a one-act play, which I expanded and morphed into a novella. So it took many months to write. The story is personal and important to me, so I wanted to get everything just right. Once I was confident that I had achieved just that, a la God, I announced to my spouse, “It is finished!” I have not had a better night’s sleep before or after that night—until I saw the gorgeous book cover!

Who is your favorite character from your novella? And why?

While the situation is fictitious, Harold is based on me, so it’s a no-brainer! Actually, I really admire Harold’s resilience, honesty, intelligence, wit, and ability to keep going in trying situations. His heart may be broken, but his spirit always stays intact. Harold’s devotion to his spouse, Stuart, is admirable, as is his honesty about his teenage infatuation with Mario. I love that the story spans twenty years so we see Harold (and Mario) develop and mature.

Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?

It is always hard for me to write homophobic characters. How nonsensical is it for someone to spend his/her time, money, and energy trying to hurt, belittle, or take away the rights of someone else? In most cases, the homophobic person is gay him/herself, and due to internalized homophobia, is battling with him/herself via the gay target. That is the case with the two homophobic characters in my novel.

Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most? And why?

Stuart was great fun to write, because he is based on my spouse who is totally organized and a real list maker, but also sweet, creative, and caring. He creates an itinerary for our trips in ten minute time blocks!

Is Mario based on anyone?

Mario is a combination of many supposedly straight, perfect guys who gay guys so easily become infatuated with every day. I love that the story spans twenty years so we see Harold (and Mario) develop and mature in their special relationship. I also love that Harold and Mario come full circle at their high school reunion.

What tips would you give other writers, when creating comedy in their own writing? 

When a reader finishes a book, he/she should be satisfied that the various parts equaled the whole, rather than the author pulling an ending out of the hat. I recommend not writing jokes to try to be funny. Let the humor come out of the situations and the characters naturally. People are funny, but only in real life, believable situations. And don’t forget the yang side of comedy is tragedy, and find the emotional core of your characters and story. As the old expression goes, “Make ’em laugh then make ’em cry.”

Is An Infatuation your first piece of fiction?

My first novel, Paper Doll, is published by Whiskey Creek Press. It is a mystery romance novel about an ex-child movie star. Since I was a professional actor, I was able to use my knowledge of show business to create a captivating, humorous, romantic, mystery with lots of plot twists and turns, leading to a surprising ending. Though the leading characters are straight, there are many terrific gay supporting characters, including an M/M romance.

What advice would you give to other writers in the M/M genre?

I love reading and writing stories with engaging characters who I want to spend time with. I recommend letting your characters talk to one another and seeing what happens. An outline is simply an outline. Don’t be afraid to deviate from it. Also, a romance story needs much more than romance. Don’t forget the humor, and the twists and turns in the story. Finally, until gays have equal civil rights, a little politicking never hurt.

What are you writing now?

I am currently writing a sequel novel to Paper Doll, entitled Porcelain Doll. I am also working on an M/M comedy mystery series set in the world of academia. Since I am a college professor, I know that world quite well. Happily, nobody has been murdered at my college—yet. I am finishing the first three novels, Drama Queen, Drama Muscle, and Drama Cruise.

How do you imagine the ideal reader of your book?

My ideal reader is a lover of a good story, someone who craves being swept away and becoming part of the novel. My reader enjoys humor, and being taken on a roller coaster ride. Finally, my reader relishes in captivating characters and earth-shattering romance, as she/he willingly enters the portal of my book. That’s why I love hearing from my readers!

What would you like to say to your readers? 

I know this story will touch your heart, because it’s everyone’s story. We’ve all had an infatuation, and this novella is a testament to that. Please email me via my web site and tell me about your experience with the book. I also love answering questions about the novella, so let them fly. My web site is:

A last message to the readers about An Infatuation?

Make sure you have a good block of free time before beginning it. Once you start, you will be reading until you finish. Prop your feet up, and enjoy!

infat-coverphotoAs a teenager, it was love at first sight for Harold while tutoring football star Mario, until homophobia and bullying drove Mario deep into the closet. Now they’re both married men. Mario, a model, is miserable with his producer wife, while Harold, a teacher, is perfectly content with his businessman husband, Stuart. When the two meet again at their ten-year high school reunion, the old flame reignites. Harold faces this seemingly impossible situation with inimitable wit, tenderness, and humor as he attempts to reconcile the past and the future.

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One Friday afternoon I accidentally ran into my hero in the boy’s locker room. I’d had enough of the big guys banging me into gym lockers, pushing me into cold showers, and hanging me from the gym ropes. So I was on my way to give Mr. Adoni a note from Dr. Dlorah excusing me from gym class for the remainder of the school year (due to my highly contagious disease being studied by my doctor in Guatemala, where he could not be reached for the next year).

The locker room smelled of an odd combination of soap, cologne, sweat, and desire. Mario was getting ready for football practice, standing at his gym locker without a combination lock on it. Nobody would dare to break into it (Except for me that one time I smelled his jock strap. Okay maybe it was a few times, but not more than ten.). Mario slid his T-shirt (red today) over his thick, black hair and threw it on the nearby bench. No longer harnessed by cotton, his arm, back, chest, and neck muscles swelled to full size. I was half hidden behind the adjoining row of lockers, wearing my usual green and blue flannel shirt and brown corduroy pants. Mario, who wasn’t looking in my direction, said something really beautiful to me that I will never forget. “Hi.”

“Did you just? Oh. Hi. Hello. Good afternoon. Nice to see you. I mean, change with you.” I looked down at the floor (but cheated a bit) as Mario kicked off his boots, slipped off his jeans then threw them in the lucky locker. His red underpants (briefs) revealed ample manhood. This is better than the newspaper’s underwear ads!

“Good gym class today with Mr. Adonis, I mean, Mr. Adoni.” Did I just say that? “Harold High.”


“High.” How can I get my pulse down to 260?

“Hi.” Mario reached into his locker for his sweat clothes.

Shouldn’t people be doing that for you? “Oh, my last name is High. Like a kite.” How can I stop my arms from waving like an airport flagger on speed?

“Mario Ginetti. Like nothin’ else imaginable.” Mario smiled, revealing a row of perfectly white teeth, and held the sweat clothes in his hands as if he was mortal.

“I know. I watch your body play.” Why can’t I stop talking? “I mean, I watch you play … football … on the field … in your football outfit.” I feel like Michelangelo with his David!

As Mario put on his sweats, I continued to sweat.

“I’m voting for your body … I mean I’m voting for you for president of your … our … the student body.” I need my jaw wired shut. “I’m your lab partner in Chemistry class. Ms. Hungry’s class … I mean Ms. Hunsley’s class.”

His olive-colored face glistened as Mario’s face registered recognition—of me! “I thought I knew you from somewheres. Hey, thanks for doing the lab reports.”

“It’s my honor … I mean my pleasure. It’s fine. If you need help putting up posters for your campaign, I can … ”

Having just tied the laces of his sneakers, Mario stood absolutely still. He looked at me as if he was staring into my heart and somehow knew what I was feeling. “I gotta take a wicked piss.”

Can I watch?

“Thanks for helping me out, Buddy.” He slammed the locker door and left.

He called me, Buddy! My heart was as soft and silly as putty that Mario held in the palm of his hand like his soap on a rope.

Author Bio

Joe Cosentino is the author of the acclaimed mystery novel Paper Doll (Whiskey Creek Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote a musical theatre adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals), and The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Porcelain Doll and Drama Queen.

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Unfortunate Son Blog Tour Winner, Apartment Hunting, and a Blizzard

First, congratulations to Serena, who won the prize package from the Unfortunate Son blog tour. Thanks to all who participated, and happy reading!

Second, over the weekend, we found a new apartment, so my sister and JP Barnaby and I will be moving in March. Woot! (And now: the packing.)

Third, Ms. Barnaby is stranded in Atlanta because of the Chicago blizzard. Every time she comes to Atlanta, Atlanta tries to keep her. It’s okay, really, Atlanta. In a couple of months, she’ll be here for good!

Final Blog Tour Stops and a Video Chat

Today’s final stop on the Unfortunate Son blog tour is particularly good timing, since my host, J.P. Barnaby, is headed to my place for the weekend! I talk about how my cover model’s real life has given him an even better HEA than Evan and Riley’s. :)

I also visited Vicktor Alexander’s blog on Wednesday with a cute, sexy little interview with Evan and Riley. That one was a lot of fun!

And Wednesday night, I helped kick off Dreamspinner’s new DreamWeavers video chat series. Poppy Dennison hosted me, Tere Michaels, and Rick R. Reed, and we had a fabulous time: