Satisfy Your Short Fiction Sweet Tooth in Two Weeks

The_Sugar_Shack_400x600Hansel is an aspiring photographer with a greater passion for the half-naked models he works with than for his art. Gretel is a Drag Superstar—or will be, she’s convinced, the moment she’s discovered by…anybody. One night, out in the tony gay-borhood The Woods, they stumble upon The Sugar Shack, a second-story nightclub they’re both delighted to discover, Gretel for the nightly drag shows of which she’d thrill to be a part, Hansel for the vast free buffet. They meet the club’s owner, local drag legend Sugar Rush, who offers Gretel a spot on stage vacated by a last-minute no-show. When she wows the crowd, Sugar offers Gretel a trial spot on the Sugar Shack’s lineup, and invites Hansel to drop in anytime, and to bring his appetite with him.

Gretel is a smash, and jumps at the eventual offer of a permanent gig. Hansel’s a hit, too, at Sugar’s private table upstairs in The Cage, where he lets Sugar flirt with him while he eats everything he can reach. He enjoys the attention almost as much as the loads of free food, but he’s about as gay as they get, and can’t see himself falling for a dude that looks and smells like a chick, even if she is gorgeous. She’s also an inveterate chubby chaser, Gretel points out to him one day, and her apparent mission to fatten Hansel up seems to be proceeding apace. Spending time with Sugar, Hansel’s horizons expand along with his hips, but will he ever see her as more than just his Sugar daddy?

Find out when my new sexy short The Sugar Shack comes out from JMS Books in two weeks on November 9th! They don’t call ‘em “fairy” tales for nothin’.

Hello, Kitty!

HKEvaAirTakeOffI have recently returned from a short trip to Japan, the land of the glamorous hot bath, pork cutlet curry, and (alas) millions of varieties of instant coffee. It was a work trip (ostensibly), and my “sightseeing” was limited mostly to the sights I could see from my hotel room window (namely the Narita airport, and typhoon Phanfone as she blew by), and yet at the end of six days (there was some Guam involved…) I was so loaded down with mementos I could barely zip my suitcase.

Why, you ask? Because, as you know, Japan is the birthplace and home base of my Souvenir Hero, Hello Kitty, and if she’s on something, I buy it.

We had a Sanrio store at the U-Hills Mall here in Denver when I was growing up, where you could get Hello Kitty pencils and weird candy, but even as a pretty fruity kid, the appeal of some expressionless cat sitting still in her overalls escaped me. It wasn’t until I started running around Japan as a grown man that she revealed herself to me as kind of a bad-ass. Continue reading

New Release: “Say Cheese” in Stranded!

Sitcom sensation Felix Medrano is America’s Sweetheart. When he throws a star-studded surprise party for his sweetheart, beanpole barkeep Grover Shepherd, it’s a smash, save for one detail: Shep is a no-show. Felix plans to propose, but with no Shep, can he still get a Yes? 

*

Hello, and Happy Friday! Today marks the release of the Wayward Ink Publishing anthology Strandedwhich includes my latest short romance, “Say Cheese.”

STRANDED-Final CoverI’m new to Wayward Ink, who are themselves sort of new as a brand to the world of publishing. When I saw the call for submissions for Stranded, I was immediately intrigued, and made a series of laborious efforts to turn the theme on its ear. “Stranded how?,” several of my scribbled notes demand. Would I maroon one lover from another metaphorically, like by making one of them straight or married or can’t-take-a-hint? Would the separation merely be physical, as from a desert island or the wrong side of a lava flow, or should their obstacle be insurmountable, like time travel or the variably discernible line between fact and fiction? Oh, how I wanted to be artsy and brave…

Then one day, as I strolled through one — watching people scratch and claw and bargain and beg their way onto an airplane, any airplane — I realized: the only time I ever truly feel adrift, as in irretrievably removed from my life and my friends and my sanity — really and truly Stranded — is when I’m sitting around an airport on standby with no prospects and no viable plan for getting out. And so I played with that idea, and with this character called Shep, and with ways he might get stuck. But I wanted him to really feel stuck, so I tried to write him a quality romantic partner of the kind that one might badly miss while cooling one’s heels in the Houston airport, and by the time Shep started noticing Felix I was practically head over heels for the guy myself.

“Say Cheese” is the story, told partly through pictures, of how they met, how they fell in love, and how fate and a crazy best friend and a low fare airline seem determined to keep them apart. I love it. I’m thrilled to be a part of this anthology, in the company of warm, supportive, well-regarded writers, and I hope you’ll check it out and love it, too.

Buy Stranded direct from Wayward Ink here, or on Amazon. Buy it today (or anytime this first week) and enter the giveaway to win fabulous prizes!

For a short excerpt from “Say Cheese,” please read on: Continue reading

Puppy Love

Happy 70s Night from Boney M!

Happy 70s Night from Boney M!

Whether I’m muscling in on my husband the drag queen‘s song selection process or crafting short fiction, it is my own opinion that I do some of my best work on Theme Nights. “Seventies Night,” for example, challenges performers to find the exactly right hot pants or caftan-and-kerchief combo, and gives the audience that little extra thrill of satisfaction when a disco ballad strikes a reminiscent chord just so. (Not that very many Denver drag audiences remember the 70s, but you know what I mean…) Similarly, I love to write to a prompt, and the fun of themed anthologies is to discover the hundred different directions a group of writers can take the “same” idea. My latest short story, “Say Cheese,” is part of one such antho, Wayward Ink Publishing‘s Stranded, which comes out October 10th. WIP is a new, independent publisher that aims to publish quality GLBT fiction and romance who first caught my attention with their tagline, “To write is to light a fire, to read is to fan the flames.” If quality queer fiction is your thing, you can subscribe to their quarterly newsletter (on their website or on Facebook) for author interviews, new release announcements, articles, excerpts, and flash fiction like this story here, which appears in this edition. Please enjoy:

Puppy Love

There had been no tragic accident. No lurid murder trial. No heart-wrenching disease trending on social media. He weighed too much. He drank too much. He worked too hard. The only vegetable I ever saw him eat was eggplant parm; the only exercise he ever got he got in bed. Fifty-eight years old, he died from living. There are worse ways to go.

Our thirty-year age difference meant more to most of his family than our nine-year love affair; I could have dragged him through all the red tape onto a plane back to Louisiana, but for what? His first time on the Best Sellers list, our wedding—hell, nine years of birthdays: we’d given them plenty of occasions to flamboyantly boycott. We lived in France, he died in France, he wanted to be buried in France. If his daughter or his ex-wife wanted to throw on a histrionic veil and disdain me graveside for a change of scenery, they could damn well come do that in France, too.

The little town where we had our little house was proud of its big literary star, even if he did write in English. The tiny, tilted church was easily filled. A priest I didn’t know intoned a generic eulogy I didn’t listen to, then led me in leading a flock of looky-loos down the stone steps and up the road to the gates of the cemetery. I walked with my eyes on my shoes, my mind on the dog whistle as I worried it in my pocket.

It had been among the things the nurse had handed across her desk in a marked plastic bag. Here are his things. Would you like to see the body? There’s a “body?” She pursed her lips. I guess they’ve left it up to me to tell you… What I wanted her to tell me was why in hell he had a dog whistle on him in the first place. It’s not like we had a dog. Was there even such a thing as a dog whistle outside of cartoons? I tried to hand it back to her—I don’t think this was his—but she just shrugged. It’s yours now. I blew it, there in the hospital; waited for the pack of barking mongrels to come crashing down the corridor and upset the order in her world the way she’d just laid waste to mine. I blew it a second time, summoned nothing. She raised an eyebrow. Leaving her to worry about “the body,” I took my plastic bag and my new whistle home.

I’d never seen the whistle. It meant nothing to me. What had it been to him? A souvenir? Of a person? A time in his life? Inspiration for a story? Or did it belong to someone else entirely, slipped in with his wallet full of euros and his St Christopher’s medal by accident? What was a dog whistle even for? I huffed away at it for days, and a lack of howling hounds persisted. What else would he whistle at?

Besides boys, obviously. He was whistling at teenage twinks long before I came along. I’d managed to hold his interest long enough to get him to sashay me up the aisle, sure, but he didn’t go blind on our wedding day. He’d aged; so, too, had I grown older. I was still young, still slim, still blond, but I wasn’t still nineteen, and he had a type. We’d go away—New York, Miami, Madrid. We’d shop. We’d go to the theater. We’d go to breakfast, and he’d hate to monopolize my time. Suggest I take the day—and the credit card; always the credit card—and “explore.” In case I wasn’t from Miami, born and raised. But what will you do? Oh, he’d manage.

I knew about these other guys. I’d met a couple of them. Fucked one every once in a while, just so he knew I was paying attention. But he didn’t want an open relationship, and he certainly wasn’t trying to get caught. He wanted to be the smooth operator. He wanted to get away with it. It was a gold card, and I do love to shop.

He’s been dead for three months now. I came up to Paris on the train this morning. My inheritance is elaborate, and there are occasionally papers to sign. I’m having coffee in the Marais before I find my way back to the Gare Montparnasse. I seldom spend the night in Paris, although some of these boys slouching by in their sunglasses and their hip-fitting jeans raise it as an attractive prospect. I smile, thinking of him; I didn’t exactly go blind on our wedding day, either.

I toy with the shiny silver dog whistle, which I’ve worn on a chain around my neck since the funeral. Maybe it was how he got the boys to gather round, even as he spread through late middle age. Perhaps it hits the perfect pitch: the one that sounds like money to a penniless prettyboy. I laugh. At the idea of him abroad in New York and London, choosing from among the eager puppies that come running, tails wagging, when he gives it a noiseless tweet. At the lot of the humorless nurse who got to pass his secret mating call in its plastic bag to the puppy who’d managed to charm him away from his wife. At the vision of every strapping youth in the neighborhood stopping in his tracks and turning to scamper to my table, aroused by the high pitch. Suddenly desperate, if they don’t know why, for me.

Was it a man whistle? All his boys had to come from somewhere. Half expecting it to work, I blow.

I wait.

But it doesn’t bring him back.

Special Guest Joan Gregerson on Gratitude!

International_Peace_Day_logoSeptember 21st is observed around the world as the International Day of Peace. Joan Gregerson is a writer, a teacher, a member of my writing group, the author of Tuning Into Inner Peace: The Surprisingly Fun Way to Transform Your Life, and a purveyor of peace in general, ramping up to September 21st with a free online course, The 29-Day Inner Peace Experience. She devotes today, Day 16, to Gratitude. I’m especially happy to have her here today because Gratitude transforms my life on a daily basis, in ways both big and small — “The good sense to be grateful” often makes the list in my Gratitude Journal, and in my opinion we can’t find our way down the path to peace without it. Please welcome Joan and her Barney Rubble feet. As she says, “The first step in making a better world is learning how to become more peaceful ourselves. Together, we can create a culture of peace!”

CAM01909

I Love You, My Barney Rubble feet

By Joan Gregerson

Like many people, by the time I got to the age of 40, I had decades of body critiques filed and at the ready. Look like a boy. Big nose. Droopy boobs. A spare tire. A double chin. A long torso. Thunder thighs. I didn’t think of myself as pretty or ugly, just painfully plain.

Raised Catholic, married young, and working as an engineer, being plain seemed to work in my favor. I definitely did not attract attention because of my striking beauty. And sexuality, well, it was just better all-around if no one ever brought that up. As far as my appearance, I wouldn’t say it was self-loathing, more just self-nothing, or self “meh”-ing. Continue reading