Puppy Love

When an American writer dies in France, his scandalously young lover inherits the house, the loot, and a handsome whistle he can use to attract… what, exactly?

dog whistles

Hooray! Our friends at NYC Midnight are back with another contest. The Flash Fiction Challenge gives writers 48 hours to whip out a story no longer than 1,000 words based on an assigned genre, location, and object. Everybody participates in the first two rounds, then winners go on to a third, and finalists compete in a fourth in December. A natural rambler, “short” is already a challenge for me, but I love writing short stuff, and since I was on airplanes for almost 24 of the alloted 48 hours, “short” was a key factor in my ability to participate at all.

My group’s assigned location was A Funeral Procession. Our assigned object was A Dog Whistle. Our assigned genre was Drama, which I was unsure exactly how to interpret. I thought about plays and Meryl Streep movies when I asked myself, What does Drama entail? There’s no yelling in my story and no manipulative family Thanksgiving, but there’s infidelity, grief, and France, so I’m hoping it qualifies. I’m posting what I managed here so I can share this post in the contest’s critique forum, and also cuz I kinda like it and this way I can share it with you! 

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. Continue reading

Mike Bruno’s Big Day

MenMakeToday marks the release from Cleis Press of “a one-of-a-kind nonfiction compilation” by award-winning editor (and my fellow JMS Books author) Shane Allison of which my erotic alter-ego is proud to be a part. Men on the Make: True Gay Sex Confessions is just what it sounds like: a collection of true stories about sex by guys who love having it and have fun writing about it, in which Mike Bruno remembers quite possibly the hottest, definitely the weirdest and most unexpected London layover ever. I get that straight-ahead gay erotica is not the genre for everyone, but if it is the genre for you, Shane Allison’s your guy. 

Available now on Amazon.

Fanta, Baby?

Among the highlights of my writing career was last year’s release of my very first Christmas story. It was fun to write, turned out to be a pretty good story, and gave me an excuse to peruse endless photos of hot guys with handsomely wrapped packages, if you catch my drift, wink wink, nudge nudge. It didn’t exactly sell like gangbusters, but I love it, and am in the airline-napkin-note-scribbling stages of making the Holiday Story an annual tradition.

Fanta Sea

Titles are hard. Holiday titles are harder. You want to capture the Christmas/Hanukah/Yule Spirit in three or four words, justify the half-naked Santa on the cover, and somehow tie in at least a reference to the actual story, and Jingle Bell Jock, while obviously awesome, is annoyingly already taken. Following a conversation with my orange-pop-loving nephew about its popularity (or ubiquity, at least) in Latin America, I lit upon the genius idea of setting my next Christmas Story in Mexico and calling it Fanta Baby. That Bad EarthaWhich, as you see, would pretty much be the best idea ever — evoking, as it does, both Father Christmas and That Bad Eartha — if it wasn’t for all those pesky laws about trademarks. My husband pointed them out: You’d have to get permission from Coca Cola. Surely not, I said. For Fanta? I mean, for A Diet Coke Christmas, I can see. Or even for Go Tell It on the Mountain, Dew. But surely Fanta, in its role as cultural shorthand for “orange pop,” falls into some kind of Oh, Go Ahead category? The people who make us capitalize Kleenex and Jetway insist it does not.

So here I am, back at the drawing board, trying to cook up that Perfect Title around which to construct a winter romance. My friend who lives in LA enjoys taking what he terms “sweater-based” vacations in the winter; might he not also enjoy a sweater-based love story, Fleece Navidad? (Can you tell I worked a San Juan turn yesterday and have Latin America-as-setting on my mind?) In addition to being overly-suggestive and just kind of long, Chet’s Nuts Roasting on an Open Fire seems ho-hum and predictable. O, Little Town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania calls for entirely too much firsthand knowledge of a place I’ve never been; as hot as a dude in a green t-shirt can be, as a title, Green Sleeves is a total snooze; Frosty the Blow Man would have to be all about cocaine, which risks plopping us right back at square one as it relates to infringing uses of the word “Coke.” Because you might otherwise want to read a gay romance about a drug dealer named Frosty. See? Hard.

I guess I’ll just have to go about this the old fashioned way: actually write a story, then shop for the title that fits it just right. Or let I Saw Daddy Kissing Santa Claus just write itself…

 

Can't wait for Christmas? You can get last year's holiday story year-round at JMS Books!

Can’t wait for Christmas? You can get last year’s holiday story year-round at JMS Books!

 

But Then How Will We Know We’ve Arrived?

In general, I think the comings and goings boards in airports and train stations invite reverie, be it wistful (“Ah, Paris…”), wishful (“Someday, Bombay…”), or wondering (“Where the hell is Show Low?”). But I gotta hand it to whoever programs the Departures monitors at the Miami International Airport for this bit of handiwork.

Unknown FliFO

Who boards a flight when the airline doesn’t know where it’s going? What does that person pack? How into their long and engrossing book do they let themselves get? Should we be concerned that a flight to “Unknown” is departing from an airport whose three-letter IATA code is M.I.A.?

Who works such a flight? Does the crew know where they’re going? Surely the pilot, at least? If they don’t know where they’re going, how do they pace their service?

Who walks up to the Departures monitor looking for this flight? ” I just want to see if Auntie McGee got off on time.” “Where was she going?” “I don’t know.” “OK, let’s look under ‘Unknown’… There it is!”

And still it managed to depart late. You don’t know where you’re going, but you know you’re late leaving to get there? Who are you, Eeyore? You probably  also assume it’s going to be raining when you arrive and all the good-looking men will be married or straight. You might wanna read up on Positive Mental Attitude before you plan your next mystery vacation.

We were looking for our own departure gate when my flying partner brought this to my attention, and my imagination instantly bounced out in a thousand directions at once. The incompetence! The hilarity! The What the Hell?! So much of the magic has been sucked out of travel for me these days. For most of History, the Journey has been as big an adventure as the Destination itself. And flying certainly used to be, but now it’s a blaring, billboard-saturated, TSA-monitored hassle. Most days. Every once in a while — and it helps if you’re in an airport with good cuban coffee — I’m reminded that the main reason I was drawn to travel was to explore. This day I eventually winged off to Houston, or Chicago, or another who-remembers-where that I’ve been to a million times, but my wheels had been set a-turn. Yeah, I’ve ben to hundred of cities in dozens of countries, but it’s still true: an immeasurable majority of the world’s art, food, architecture, waterfalls, smells, and smiles — not to mention the entirety of Show Low, Arizona — are yet Unknown. If you’re gonna bother to put your camera, your notebook, and a clean pair of underwear in a bag and set out, what better place to go?