New Holiday Release: It’s Not Yule, It’s Me

Its_Not_Yule_Its_Me_400x600Shannon hates Christmas. Mostly because Christmas hates him. It sure seems like it, anyway: every crummy thing that’s happened to him since high school has befallen him at the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Every humiliating break-up, every high-rise hotel fire—heck, a few years back, one guy he had the hots for up and died. Which goes a long way toward explaining why he’s a whimpering mess when he meets Ben the barista one Christmas morning at his neighborhood coffee house. It doesn’t completely excuse his using Ben’s T-shirt as a handkerchief—while Ben’s still in it—but Ben’s nothing if not a good sport. Ben’s such a bright spot that after a while Shannon wonders if maybe his Christmas Curse hasn’t been lifted. And what better place to test this theory than at Ben’s family festivities? It’s not like Christmas is actually cursed.

Is it?

Find out in this year’s Very Special Holiday Episode, It’s Not Yule, It’s Me. Out today at Amazon, or save 20% off when you get yours direct from JMS Books this week.

For an exclusive excerpt, read on:

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New Release: Isle Be Home for Christmas

Isle_Be_Home_For_Christmas_400x600-1So, a couple of announcements, I guess. One is, this is officially my last month in the air as an active, here’s-your-coke, how-do-you-take-your-coffee, I’m-sorry-sir-but-you’ll-have-to-keep-your-shirt-on stewardess. My company offered a buyout, and I took it, and at the end of this month I’m “retiring” (at the age of 42, mind you–it will not exactly be a rocking chair-and-mint julep retirement, at least not for a while…). I’m going to keep the name “Mister Stewardess,” though, cuz I earned it, meaning that one time when that girl yelled it, she was talking to me. I wrote this year’s Christmas Story (which brings us to our second announcement: it’s out today from JMS Books!) before I knew they were going to offer these buyouts, but you will see on about page one that retirement (or blowing a slide and taking two beers and quitting, however you wanna go out…) was on my mind as a hot topic. Justin, our 43-year-old hero, has just been laid off, you see, and he says, “After thirteen years in the cubicle zoo, my severance was okay. Not more than I felt I was owed, mind you, but enough that I’d be able to pay my bills and cover my nut for a few months while I looked for something else. Or enough to live like a king on an island the size of a college campus within spitting distance of the Gatun locks of the Panama Canal for eight weeks, which is what I decided I’d way rather do. I had the rest of my life to job-hunt. But I also had a car payment and exorbitant Southern California rent to worry about. I was never going to have a big pile of money sitting in my checking account just begging to be spent again, and I figure if God didn’t want me running off to Central America to drink beer and chase brown-skinned boys, He wouldn’t have invented the sublet.”

Enter Cole, a middle-aged American who wanders off from the cruise line-approved waterfront and ends up in Justin’s favorite island hangout. Justin hasn’t come all this way to ogle Americans. It’s like he says, “If I was looking for a big, square-shouldered American meathead, I’da stayed in America. I live in San Diego, for Heaven’s sake—it’s like the square-shouldered American meathead outlet mall.” But Cole knows how to dance, and it turns out he knows how to kiss, and it’s only one night, after all, although by morning this seems to Justin less like a selling point and more like a grave romantic injustice. When he spies the ship still in port while he tends to his Christmas Eve hangover, Justin knows he must manage his expectations. Just because the ship’s still here doesn’t mean Cole will come ashore, and so what if they do cross paths again? Did they really connect as Justin thinks he remembers, or is that just the beer filling in the blanks? He invents an errand, throws on some clothes, and heads for the dock, figuring there’s one way to find out.

Remember, during their first week, all JMS new releases are 20% off, and only available at JMS Books.

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Gift Gay Guy CoverLest auld acquaintance be forgot, The Ghost of Christmas Past recommends last year’s holiday hit, The Gift of the Gay Guy, also a JMS Book!

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!

 

A Jar of Queer Feelings

star jarHello, Friends.  If you celebrated Christmas yesterday, I hope it was festive and fortifying.  Unless Santa brought you the Ethel Merman Disco Album, too, it probably wasn’t as fabulous and rhythm-driven as ours was, but take heart — if you feel your holiday lacked luster for want of an incredibly gay media project, I have just the digital chapbook for you:

A Jar of Queer Feelings was electronically published yesterday, with plans for print copies to take the world by storm in January.  As project director/founder/publisher Sarah Magdalena Love will tell you, “36 artists and writers have contributed to the first edition of this book series resulting in a collage of queer life that touches on various dimensions like family, sexuality, politics, gender and liberation through various art forms, personal essays and poetry.”  I mixed it up a little bit for this project and submitted a photo rather than a piece of writing, and one that captures life in this house at its gender-bending queerest, at that.  As you know (or can learn here), I had my own set of struggles around my husband’s entrée into his glam and glittery Drag Career, most of which stemmed from gender norms and expectations, both mine and my fears around “theirs.” (And subsequently from my shame and irritation at letting what “they” think impact my home life and my relationship here in my forties.)  I still don’t really kiss him when he’s got lipstick on, and I definitely don’t understand why anyone would volunteer to squeeze into pantyhose, but my fears and my shame have been wrestled to the ground, and I embrace each opportunity to celebrate new, feather-strewn layers of my husband’s fabulousness, and of our Big Queer Life together.  And so I’m especially pleased to be a part of a project that will donate all proceeds to Gendered Intelligence, a charity that believes, as my husband and I do, that “the arts are an amazing tool for sharing our stories, platforming our voices and building awareness around the ways in which heteronormativity regulates and restricts everyone.”

You can be like The Merm, who’s always doing something for the boys, and get your very own copy for US$3.30 here.

Three French Hens

Three-French-HensThursday December 19th, Before I Go

My cousin and his husband founded and run Horse & Cart, a small theater company here in Denver with big ideas.  They write and produce original plays, they host an annual playwriting competition, they perform undiscovered work in unexpected places and generally “want to play in different locations while mixing theater up with music, dance, digital publishing, installations and filmmaking.” (From their website.)  Their latest flash of genius is a series called Live Anthologies, in which local actors present fresh, original works by writers from around town and across the country at Paris on the Platte, a venerated Denver coffee house and bar.  I’m madly in love with the premise, and when my cousin offered me a crack at one of the Twelve Days of Christmas for tonight’s holiday edition, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve actually always rather hated this particular Christmas Classic, except for maybe Miss Piggy and the Muppets’ version, but Three French Hens was one of my choices, and I figured how hard could it be?  At least I wouldn’t have to shoehorn eight girls with cows and buckets into some sort of storyline.

I grew up in a city, my grandparents lived in a condo — I don’t know if this is typical chicken behavior or not, but for a long time, those three French hens just sat there.  They clucked and pecked and got up to pretty much nothing; you know I love my writing prompts, but this one, if you’ll pardon the expression, was laying an egg.  Eventually a French boyfriend came along, and I really wanted the three hens to be his visiting Gallic mother and her two busy-body sisters — I even named them and got them as far as the Denver airport, where they sat expectantly clutching their little metaphorical purses, looking at me like, Well…?  I eventually followed my lifelong daydream fantasy of a big-nosed Parisian boyfriend to its logical conclusion, and we washed up on a farm in the Loire Valley with three feathered friends. Continue reading