Thursday, December 5, 2013

FREE READ: Cottonwood Memories

Back in June, a dear friend of mine shared a bunch of photo plot bunnies for anyone who felt inspired to write something to them. One photo called out to me, Childhood Memories. I wondered what he was thinking, what memories the little teddy bear in his hands held. By the set of his shoulders, the expression of his body language, I got a sense of melancholy, maybe even loss.

A few days later I was in a parking lot surrounded by seeding cottonwood trees. As the cottonseed drifted like springtime snow I heard Avery shout, his voice excited and full of wonder, "Look, Brandon! It's snowing!"

And Cottonwood Memories began...

For Brandon going home isn't easy, but in order to move forward with his life with Zach, he needs to pay a visit to his first love, Avery.

Contemporary M/M romance • 2,900 words

Free download: MOBIePubPDF

PS - I should probably mention, a nearby box of tissues might be handy.

What He Says... Best Gay Movies

With Christmas right around the corner we thought this might be a good time to share a few favorite gay movies, and maybe help you with a few gifts. Here are some of the guys' top gay movies. I've got some on my list. :-) Happy shopping and movie watching!

* * *

Stuart Wakefield:
In no particular order:

  • Brokeback Mountain. I howled, I tell you. HOWLED. I bought it on DVD but can’t bring myself to watch it. I read the short story, though, and howled a whole lot more.
  • Another Gay Movie. It made me laugh and I rediscovered what I think is the brilliance of Let The Music Play.
  • Latter Days. I think the look on the straight guy’s face after the blow-job is priceless. Also, I enjoy a modern romance.
  • Beautiful Thing. I saw the original play in London years before it ever became a movie. I guess I connect with this more because it’s British. I recognise these people, these feelings, these settings. The balance between the teen angst and the comedy got me right in the heart.
  • Maurice. “Have you called me, Sir? I know, Sir. I know, Sir.” This was possibly the first gay sex scene I ever saw and I’ll never forget it. The lavishness of the production struck a chord with me and it’s still a story that I often think about. I’m so glad it was finally published, let alone made into a film.
  • Trick. I feel warm and fuzzy just thinking about this film. If I meet someone who hasn’t seen it I stuff my copy into their hands hound them until they watch it. I think it’s funny, sexy, and smart. Como te gusta mi pinga? remains one of my favourite comedy songs and let’s not forget the bathroom scene with Coco Peru...
  • Suddenly, Last Summer. I’m in love with Montgomery Clift. It’s totally coincidental to me that the finale is gay but it’s the icing on the cake for me.
  • Rope. If I can’t have Montgomery Clift then give me Farley Granger. I could stare at his mouth all day long.
  • Apartment Zero. I fancied Hart Bochner in Supergirl but when I saw him in Apartment Zero, just after the sex/murder scene, I drooled. Also, Colin Firth’s character fancied Montgomery Clift so the deal was done. With its heavy homoerotic overtones I loved every minute of it.
  • The Crying Game. I rarely laugh out loud when I’m watching anything but “fuck off back to Essex, Dave” had me crying with laughter.

D.H. Starr:
I can’t possibly limit myself to 10 movies. So I won’t. Here are my top ten in order.

  • All Over the Guy: Awesome romance which follows two guys, each with issues like the rest of us, and they work their way together. One of the main characters is freakin’ gorgeous.
  • Latter Days: One of the most touching movies I have ever seen.
  • I Think I Do: I cute film which is pretty much a comedy, but sweet as well. It begins with the cast in college then it jumps forward and the gang reuintes at one of the couple’s wedding.
  • Stonewall: Found this movie on Netflix, watched it and immediately bought it. It is so fucking awesome. Timepiece in the age when the Stonewall riots were taking place. Country boy meets NYC drag-queen and falls in love.
  • Get Real: Saw this many years ago while rolling on a Memorial Day weekend at P-Town with friends. Still one of my favorite coming of age movies.
  • Kissing Jessica Stein: Very clever and well written/acted. Two lipstick lesbians hooking up is very cool.
  • Love, Valor, Compassion: Awesome movie, adaptation from Broadway play. Great cast. Follows a group of gay men who get together three times over the course of the summer at a lake house.
  • Torch Song Trilogy: First gay movie I ever watched. Made me feel so good. I cry every time I watch it.
  • Broken Hearts Club: Pretty famous cast and great relationship story. Adaptation from the play.
  • Beautiful Thing: Saw this coming of age movie when I was younger and loved it. Hot boys kissing.
Honorable Mentions
  • Almost Normal: Interesting story line. Not the most brilliant movie, but cute, light-hearted, but thought provoking.
  • East Side Story: Love it. The main character is hot and smart. Very cool movie.
  • The Birdcage: Need I explain?
  • But I’m a Cheerleader: Freakin’ awesome movie.
  • And the Band Played On: Important movie portraying the discovery of HIV/AIDS and the process of finding ways to control it. The time piece feels true to life.Longtime Companion: A time piece which explores life in a time when HIV/AIDS was known about but not much. It explores the pain of loss, the fear of dying, and the impact this disease had on the gay community back in the 80s.
  • Jeffrey: Another Broadway adaptation. Two hot guys who are both famous who play gay guys. Also deals with HIV/AIDS but in a time when the virus had become more controllable with medication.

* * *

Your turn! We'd love to hear what some of your favorite movies are, and why. Happy holidays everyone and we'll see you next year!

And don't forget, if you have any topics, questions or photos you'd like the guys to tackle, just shoot them my way. We'll make sure you get the credit...if you want it, that is.

Miss a previous topic? Check them all out here: What He Says Archives

Image used under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What He Says... Photo Prompt

It's flash fiction time! In 100 words or less the guys tell us the story behind this photo. Then we want to read your story! <3

Edmond Manning:
Will he call me? Did he mean it when he said he cared about me? This photo witnesses the heartbreaking moment when a first sexual experience opens the heart to grief, joy, hope, and fear.

Damon Suede:
Watch your teeth. Wait-- Wait--- Yeah! That’s it.

D.H. Starr:
Naked and vulnerable, the young man walks to the window, the sensation from his first sexual experience still burning within him. The scent of his first lover, hints of cologne and sweat, linger in the room as the man gently pulls the curtain aside. As he watches his lover emerge from the building, he thinks to himself, Please, glance back. Let me know I meant something more than a fuck. As the figure quickens his pace, as if rushing from the scene of a crime, the man realizes his first time would never match the dreams from his boyhood.
(I swear I didn’t read Edmond’s until after I posted mine. How cool ours were so similar.)

Stuart Wakefield:
I can see him from here, sitting in the cold, waiting.

It had been a dark and stormy night (honestly, it really had) when I realised he’d followed me into that dark alley. What he took out of his pants stole the breath from my body. It was huge.

“I’ve seen you watching me so I’m going to give it to you good,” he smirked.

He put me in the hospital with that straightstick.

I can see him from here, sitting in the cold, waiting. Turns out I had a straightstick of my own and bust the windows out his car.

* * *

Your turn! In 100 words or less tell us the story behind this photo. We'll see you back here on Thursday, December 5th. The guys are sharing some of their favorite gay movies with you, just in time for your holiday shopping lists.

And don't forget, if you have any topics, questions or photos you'd like the guys to tackle, just shoot them my way. We'll make sure you get the credit...if you want it, that is.

Miss a previous topic? Check them all out here: What He Says Archives

Image used under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What He Says... It Gets Better

This month the guys are sharing their It Gets Better messages for teens, but before we start I'd just like to say to everyone out there: you are beautiful, you are special, you are wanted and you are loved. Don't let anyone ever tell you any different, because the world is a better place with you in it. Believe me. So, please stay and shine on. Always. <3

Stuart Wakefield:
You would die for these people? Why? They sure as hell wouldn’t die for you!

Edmond Manning:
So you’re gay or bi- or somehow differently-gendered? Wow. Guess what? You were hand-picked by the universe to guide and shape humanity, like a fucking superhero! Native Americans believed that during a tribe’s time of struggle, two-spirited individuals were born to help guide the people. One of the ‘side effects’ of being two-spirited was what we now call “gay.” So consider that today’s struggles are the early years of your story, where your gift feels like a curse, where the world is trying to knock you down. Don’t you want to stick around and find out your super power? The way you uniquely contribute to making the entire planet better? You’ll only find out if you turn the page...

Damon Suede:
I always tell people I didn’t choose to be gay, I was CHOSEN! Praise all the gods! I wouldn’t be heterosexual if you paid me a million dollars. Actually I wouldn’t trade places with anyone for anything. What a horrible way to live. We aren’t widgets! We are idiosyncratic miracles, every one of us. We are all given so much beauty and power if we can find ways to find it and claim it and honor it. Don’t ever forfeit the gift of your life for idiots who haven’t learned to be grateful for anything. People in the dark lash out because they are ignorant and afraid, because you shine. So try to survive where you’re stuck, learn what you can, and brave what you must. We are never alone and we are all of us afraid. You may not realize how many folks around you are scared and trapped too, or how much they draw strength from yours. It doesn’t just get better; it’s better already and you’re invited. Burn bright and hang tight. The world wants you to come live in it.

D.H. Starr:
Fortunately, I work in a field and in a position where I get to deal with these kinds of issues all the time. Identity issues are probably at their heaviest in middle school and I am partially responsible for the educational, social, and emotional growth of about 700 kids. It’s an awesome job and I freakin’ love it. So what advice do I give to youth. YOU’RE NOT ALONE AND YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY ONE STRUGGLING! Everyone has something that they feel insecure about. Everyone has something about themselves that they don’t like and that thing affects their self-esteem and happiness. Even the kids who seem to be the most popular, the happiest, the luckiest...they have doubts and fears too. They have issues that you may not even know about. So don’t feel like you’re the only one struggling. Understand that when you grow a bit older, you will look back at these years and the things which seemed so important to you and realize how, in the bigger picture, they weren’t nearly as important as you think they are now. But for now, when these issues are the most important thing in the world and are ruining your life (said with humor to get kids to lighten up a bit), know that you have at least one person who you can turn to and talk to. You probably have even more people who want to help, but never think you are alone. You’ll get through this and be so much happier and stronger in the end.

* * *

Help is there if you need it, just reach for it and the hand will be there to hold on to. Here just are a few resources:
It Gets Better
The Trevor Project
GLBT National Help Center
Give a Damn

* * *

Do you have a message you'd like to share? If so, we'd love to hear it. We'll be back here Thursday, November 7th with another flash fiction photo prompt.

And don't forget, if you have any topics, questions or photos you'd like the guys to tackle, just shoot them my way. We'll make sure you get the credit...if you want it, that is.

Miss a previous topic? Check them all out here: What He Says Archives

Image used under Creative Commons License.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What He Says...I'd Be Like...

Last time the guys shared one thing they were jealous of women for, this time they're sharing what kind of 'chick' they would be if they were a woman. Enjoy!

* * *

Thorny Sterling:
I’d dress like Jackie O or Princess Grace. I love that look! Classy, sophisticated, totally feminine. If I was a girl, I think I’d be a great big girly girl!

Edmond Manning:
While I want to think I’d be this hot business chick with this saucy, sexy swagger. Sexy suit, tons of cleavage. But who am I kidding? I’d be a black-nailed Goth girl wearing black lace curtains, who secretly wanted to be invited to the prom by the captain of the football team. But he wouldn’t even notice me. Men are pigs.

Damon Suede:
I’d be myself. I can’t imagine being a different person just because a small percentage of my meat and hormones had changed.

D.H. Starr:
First of all, Edmond, I agree, men are pigs. Unfortunately, that kind of includes me. But I’m a nice guy deep down. Maybe that’s why I like Brian so much from Queer as Folk. If I were a woman, I’d be a really down to Earth, smart black woman fully comfortable in my own skin, no anticipation of racism, but a fierce commitment to addressing racism and bullying when it happened.

Stuart Wakefield:
I’d be so damned perky you’d want to slap me.

Charles Edward:
Jinkies! I’d be Velma.

* * *

Now its your turn! For the men, what kind of woman would you be, and for the women out there, what kind of man would you be? So dying to hear your answers! :-) See y'all back here Thursday, October 3rd, when the guys get serious and share their It Gets Better messages.

And don't forget, if you have any topics, questions or photos you'd like the guys to tackle, just shoot them my way. We'll make sure you get the credit...if you want it, that is.

Miss a previous topic? Check them all out here: What He Says Archives

Images used under Creative Commons License.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Just Because Giveaway

Just because, it's Friday...
Just because, it's a long weekend...
Just because, I feel like it...

I have a $20 Riptide Publishing Gift Card here in my hot little virtual hands, and I would like to give it to one of you beautiful people out there. If you have a Riptide account and you win the card, the gift will be credited to you and then you can go shopping. If not, then they'll set one up for you, send you an invite to accept, and then you can go shopping. Either way you get to go book shopping! Yay! :-D

So.... What kind of hoops do you have to jump through to score this rocking little gift card? Lemme see... How about commit a random act of kindness today. Just because. Leave a smile in your wake for a stranger. Pay for the order of the person behind you in line at the coffeeshop. Give a friend or loved one a hug. Call someone you haven't talked to in ages because life just took you in separate directions. Take yourself out on a date. Just because.

Oh, and leave your name and email in the comments. I'll have my trusty four-legged roommate, Bear, pick a winning name tonight at midnight, Pacific time zone.

Until then, do good, smile lots, and spread love. <3

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Day at the Rodeo

The clock sounds off at 6:30 AM, but I’m already awake. I have been for the better part of an hour, too excited to sleep any longer because it’s rodeo day. I hop out of bed, pull on my Levi’s, burgundy western shirt with the gold threads and trims, shove my feet into my well-worn cowboy boots, and pop my cowboy hat on as I walk out the door. The local rodeo is right next door -- literally.

Competitors begin arriving around 9 AM, and trickle in throughout the day, since the main events start later. By around noon or so the grounds will be full to capacity. Right now though, there are mostly barrel racers and ropers in the arena warming up. Vendors are pulling in and getting their wares set up for the day’s crowds. I really need to check out the belts! Volunteers are getting organized for their various duties at the gates, concession, registration, hazers, handlers, and so on.

But first we have the pancake breakfast! You really can’t start a rodeo without a cowboy cookout. Just wouldn’t be right. It really is the best time to socialize with the rodeo crews and old friends I only see once a year. They always have such great stories to share. It’s relaxed, but there’s a sense of anticipation in the air. The temperature is still comfortable, but it’s going to be a long, hot day, so we load up on pancakes, eggs, sausages, bacon, coffee and juice.

I volunteer every year. Usually I spend a few hours on the competitor gate handing the cowboys the day sheets and letting them know where to park their rigs; or I’ll work the spectator gate for a while, collecting entry fees, handing out programs, and directing them to the parking guides. Later I move over to the beer garden, and let me tell you how much fun that can be. One of my fave jobs because of the people I get to hang out with while working.

I spend the rest of the day wandering around with my camera at the ready, observing people in their element, while stories play out in my mind. I snap candid shots of life on the circuit, get a few cowboys to pose for me, hold a friend’s horse while they run off to sign up for an event, and the old cowboy with the classic handlebar mustache hams it up for the camera when he notices I’ve aimed the viewfinder his way. What he doesn’t know is that I was shooting a close up of his gorgeous black Quarter horse, but I won’t tell him. He’s too much of a sweetheart.

Rodeo day starts with the slack events. Slack is a term for more competitors than there are spots in the performance events. Times count toward the prize monies, but it’s pretty low key. Those who do the circuit are constantly on the move. They roll in early, get their horses and gear ready, warm up, compete, cool their horses down, prepare them for travel, and load them up then roll out to the next rodeo. All in a matter of a few hours, and it’s not uncommon for these cowboys and cowgirls to travel hundreds of miles a day from location to location.

So the slack roll out and the performance competitors roll in. The rodeo officially kicks off with the drill team -- anywhere from four to 20 riders who perform choreographed maneuvers at speed to music. They are also the flag carriers. Up here we have riders representing both Canada and the USA, and after both anthems are sung its time to cowboy up.

The remainder of the day is filled heat and dust, the smells of hot dogs and hamburgers, sunscreen and sweat and leather, the sounds of thundering hooves, whinnying horses, braying cattle, steady commentary from the announcer and music to keep the mood up, and a symphony of teamwork as everyone goes about their tasks to ensure a successful and safe rodeo. Old cowboys huddle together and share stories, young cowboys and cowgirls sit on horseback, awaiting events and talking strategy. There are thrills and chills and near misses in roping, amazing speed in barrel racing, bone-jarring action in bronco and steer riding. There are laughs and awwws when the kids are in the arena for the pig scramble (a greased pig is let loose and a couple dozen little kids try to catch it) and mutton busting (little busters riding sheep -- seriously adorable.). And then there’s the bull riding. This is a dangerous sport and these guys are just a little bit crazy. I don’t think there’s a single bull rider out there who hasn’t broken at least a dozen bones.

The day goes off without incident, and many competitors have had a stellar day. Unfortunately for others they may have missed the catch in team roping, they may have taken the wrong pattern on the barrels or knocked one over, they maybe have broken the gate rope too early during steer wrestling, or they just didn’t have the fastest times. Those men and women will leave empty-handed, hoping for results that put them in the prize money next time.

Those not camping overnight head out, sunburned spectators high on adrenaline or a few too many beers in the gardens under a hot afternoon sun, make their way home. Cowboys and cowgirls staying for the next day’s events tend to their animals after a hard day of competition, and then it’s time to kick up some heels. After much needed cool showers, we all head over to the local hall for the rodeo dance. There’s food, alcohol, a live band, a lot of two-stepping, a few raffles prizes, and a whole lot of laughter to be had.

That handsome cowboy who stands a whole foot taller than me and had been flirting most of the day, asks me to dance and we spend the rest of the night in each other’s company. He’s a good guy, and today’s been a good day. But today was a long one and tomorrow it all starts again. I’m thinking I won’t be awake before my alarm this time, but I won’t be late because I have a pancake breakfast date with that long, tall drink of green-eyed cowboy.

And that’s how my latest novel, Pickup Men came to be, from hanging out at the rodeo and watching the real pickup men at work. I wanted to shine a little light on those unsung heroes of the rodeo. My hat’s off to you, boys.

* * *


It takes a pissed-off Brahma bull named Shockwave to show rodeo pickup man Marty Fairgrave the cold hard truth about champion bull rider Tripp Colby: Tripp will never leave the safety of his closet or acknowledge Marty in public. Sometimes loving someone just isn’t enough, and after a year of hiding what they are, Marty finally sees the light—and it’s no longer shining on Tripp.

Tripp Colby would do anything for Marty. Well . . . almost. He’s never loved anyone before, and isn’t quite sure how to handle it now. But he knows Marty is his everything, and in order to win him back, Tripp will have to overcome his darkest fears and step into the light.

But no matter Tripp’s intentions, the cost might be too high and the effort too late for these two cowboys to ride off into the sunset.

Pickup Men is now available in ebook or paperback:

Riptide Publishing, Amazon, and ARe

Photos by L.C. Chase. Copyright 2009-2012. All rights reserved.