Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chapter 10 (excerpt)
Every Time I Think of You

The television showed celebrations in Australia, Asia and Europe, and the crowds eagerly anticipated the countdown in Times Square. I lay on the sofa, distracted by my more abstract thoughts about the concept of time and its association with this ritual, even the concept of Gregorian calendar years based on Jesus’ birthday, which, according to some, hadn’t even occurred in December. I found it absurd for Jewish and Asian cultures to celebrate a day, which didn’t even exist on their calendars, with fireworks and paper horns.
I hadn’t noticed that the sound of one of those horns wasn’t being tooted on TV, but on the other side of our porch door window. A soft tap on the glass made me turn with surprise to see him.
Everett stood under the porch light, the horn curling and uncurling from his lips, a bottle of champagne in one hand.
I stumbled off the sofa in my rush to let him in. Once again, his chilled skin met mine as I plucked the paper horn from his lips and kissed him.
“Happy New Ear,” he joked.
“Oh, it’s gonna be happy, alright,” I said as I let him in, dragged him to my bedroom, where I peeled off his parka with a bit of the fervor from our first time together. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chapter 2 (excerpt)
Every Time I Think of You

Due to his frequent absence at private school, his room looked more like a boy museum, cluttered up by his recent return visit, as if an indigent had snuck into an archive and taken up lodging. Family photos, framed clippings of sports articles with a team photo, and a school pennant, seemed almost cliché. The only modern element was a poster from the Styx album Grand Illusion, which displayed a surreal image of a female face inside the silhouette of a rider on a horse, standing in between some intricate tree trunks.
Everett casually dropped his damp sweatpants on the floor. Helen had castigated him for not immediately changing when we’d entered the house; he’d ignored the command. I prepared myself for, and pretty much expected, another embrace.
Instead, Everett, completely naked, held out his hands like a comedian closing his show in a sort of “Ta da!” moment, then continued getting dressed before I could consider applauding.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chapter 2 (excerpt)
Every Time I Think of You

As he finished changing into a sweatshirt with the name and emblem of Pinecrest Academy, I sat on a chair at his desk, secretively looking for some small memento to pilfer.
“We should go into Pittsburgh. I want you to meet my sister, Holly,” Everett said with sudden enthusiasm.
“We could take the train,” I suggested. “I’ve done that a few times. It’s only, like, an hour.”
“So, how about Saturday?” Everett pressed.
“To visit your sister.” “That’s not the point, brainiac.” Everett softly punched my shoulder. “We can be alone together; spend the night. Together.”
As all the concocted plans ran through my head, I failed to notice that I was being casually seduced by my host.
Everett had turned on his stereo, preset with a small stack of LPs. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors began to play. He flopped down on his bed, bounced up once while scooting to one side, patted the other, coaxing me to join him like some newly trained pet.
Glancing down at the damp remnants of melted snow at my pants cuffs, I remembered that he did have a housekeeper, after all, and with an attempted gesture of élan, I plopped myself down beside him.
I didn’t want to force myself on him again. But after a few minutes of the both of us simply staring at the ceiling, our legs and elbows touching, Stevie Nick’s nasal voice warning that ‘players only love you when they’re playing,’ I did.
Leaning up and over, I brought my lips to his, and with equal abruptness, Everett’s face and mine collided. A chuckle, a lip wipe with tongues, and our mouths slurped together like sea anemones.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chapter 2 (excerpt)
Every Time I Think of You

He pushed forward a plate of cookies in the shape of Christmas trees with green glaze and sprinkled decorations.

“Trees, with icing.”

Getting the inside reference to our amorous encounter in the woods, I nearly coughed up hot chocolate. Everett took another cookie, dipped it in his mug and ate heartily, his eyes on mine. “Reid,” he whispered, as if savoring the sound of my name.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Hurt Locker

Top-Ranked Wrestler Suffers Spinal Cord Injury

It's always saddening when the unfortunate events in my fiction are reflected in reality. In this odd combination of events in both my first and fourth novels (PINS and Every Time I Think of You), the top-ranked Class 1A wrestler in North Carolina has been left paralyzed after a freak accident on the mat in a tournament.

In the midst of going for a pin against his opponent, Luke Hampton lost his grip and went head-first into a padded wall.
The sheer force of the collision broke Calloway's C5 and C6 vertebrae. After being rushed rushed to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, it was confirmed that Calloway's injuries had left him paralyzed from the neck down.

The entire Alleghany community has rallied around Hampton following his injuries, holding prayer vigils and setting up a fund to help the family pay for medical costs. As the Associated Press reported, the goal is for the Alleghany High senior to increase his strength before heading to Shepherd Center, a hospital located in Atlanta, Ga., that specializes in spinal cord injuries.
It should be noted that such accidents are rare in wrestling, but they do happen, as well as in other sports, most frequently in team and field sports.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that a fundraiser basketball game will be held this Saturday to help the athlete's family.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I had a dream.

No, really. Eleven months ago, I woke up on a cold January morning at about 4:30am and transcribed the scenes from a trio of dreams I had. I didn't stop writing until 11pm through that day. Fortunately, it was a weekend.

I decided to try to write 1000 words a day. I almost succeeded, writing more some days, fewer others, and many days off. But the inspiration kept rolling in.

The muse said, "Hello dere," and I listened. Now I've submitted the final proofs, have to make yet another round of corrections, a few tweaks with the cover, and it'll be a book, out on December 2.

The book is set within a similar length of time, one year, albeit thirty-two years ago and in a fictional version of cities I either visited or lived in for a short period of time (actually, less than a year in Pittsburgh).

Where did it come from? I have lots of ideas and inspirations. It truly is a work of fiction. Yet as one of my favorite authors Chuck Palahniuk once said, in a sense, "Everything is autobiographical."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Blurbalicious: Eric Arvin

Here's the first in a four-post series in which I offer some deserved thanks for my blurbers, i.e. the colleagues who wrote praise-filled comments about Every Time I Think of You.

That they dared to read a half-completed manuscript PDF riddled with embarrassing grammatical and syntactical errors just shows how much hope and patience these guys have. And like most good authors, they're also busy, so taking the time out to read somebody else's incomplete work takes a certain dedication.

First up is Eric Arvin. Whew. What to say that fans don't already know? He's cute. He's a sexy muscle hunk. He's nice. His Facebook posts are hilarious. His blog is deliciously Not Safe For Work.

Oh, and his books! Transcending the obvious marketing ploys that feature shirtless hunks on most of their covers, his fiction has a marked diversity, ranging from the light satires to cerebral dreamlike tales. And, a few of his works are illustrated with a definite flair for one-handed enjoyment, if you're drawn to enormously hung cartoon characters.

Here's my review of two of Eric's books, Another Enchanted April, Woke Up in a Strange Place. Yes, this is a case of unabashed logrolling.

When I'm inspired by Eric, I don't know whether to get to the computer or the gym.

Here's his blurb:

“Jim Provenzano has written a tender, nostalgic tale in a simple yet elegant prose that comes straight from the heart. It’s beautiful, literary, and effective without affectation. We’re moved by these characters because we recognize in them our own once-believed indestructibility.”

- Eric Arvin, author of Woke Up in a Strange Place, Simple Men and Subsurdity

(If that last title sounds familiar, consider that the new ABC comedy sitcom Suburgatory nearly rips off Arvin's titles and themes just one move shy of plagiarism.)

Blurbalicious: Michael Thomas Ford

“The coming-of-age story gets a welcome and much needed shake up in Jim Provenzano’s graceful and surprising novel about falling in love. Always going where you least expect it, the story is by turns heartbreaking and arousing, comic and introspective, familiar and altogether new. These are characters you’ll remember long after the last page.”

- Michael Thomas Ford, author of Full Circle, The Road Home, Last Summer

Prolific just doesn't seem to be an accurate enough term for author Michael Thomas Ford, whose work pretty much defines the best of late 20th-Century gay fiction. Long before I'd finished the first draft of my first novels, Ford was already the recipient of deserved literary awards. I consider him a mentor from afar, since we've only met a few times. Even in person, his disarming demeanor and sharp wit make an impression.

From his series of popular gay fiction to his humor essays, and the immensely popular new and upcoming Jane Eyre vampire/zombie series, he's a busy guy. In between penning bestselling fiction and editing anthologies, Ford also has a (now somewhat inactive) hilarious pop culture blog.

Just before his recent cross-country move with a partner and slew of pets, Ford offered a kind blurb for Every Time I Think of You. You know what they say; if you want something done, ask a busy person.

Blurbalicious: Ray Aguilera

Every Time I Think of You captures the joy of finding love for the first time, with all the sweetness, comedy and tragedy that experience inevitably entails. And it does so with the audacity and brutal honesty to admit that yes, even the broken and imperfect among us deserve to experience everything that life has to offer. Kudos to Provenzano for daring to show that disability and sexuality aren’t mutually exclusive, and that crips can be just as good in bed (or elsewhere) as their non-disabled counterparts.”

- Ray Aguilera, former editor of Bent Voices

One of the important aspects of Every Time I Think of You is a sense of authenticity. The work has to ring true with the narrative about disability. One of the first resources I looked up was the website Bent Voices.

Although no longer active, its archive provided fascinating and diverse perspectives from many gay male disabled writers, both professional and amateur. I sought all kinds of experiences, and soaked them in without appropriating others' experiences. I read the anthology Queer Crips to figure what sort of story hadn't yet been told.

As a non-disabled person, I kept the narrative in the perspective of a young gay man whose boyfriend-lover-whatever becomes disabled. To write in the first-person tense from a disabled perspective would have been too hokey and untrue. While it's certainly fine to write fiction about the lives of people whom we are not, there are certain stories where it would not be appropriate, unless the writing is good enough.

So I was pleased to learn that Ray, one of Bent Voices' writer/editors, was not only local, but a previous contributor to the Bay Area Reporter's news section, and the subject of a recent feature article.

Ray kindly read the book, gave it a sort of 'seal of approval,' and is now a writer-photographer contributor at my dual editor job with BARtab. The guy knows his cocktails!

Blurbalicious: Andrew W.M. Bierle

"Every Time I Think of You is a rare combination of delicacy and power, a story of 'the unbearable weight of first love' told with both innocence and urgency by its wise and charming adolescent narrator. It rekindled faded memories of the intensity of youthful desire—the mystery, the promise, the excitement, the disappointment. Intelligent, subtle, and compelling, Jim Provenzano’s novel is, most of all, audacious. Bravo!"

- Andrew W. M. Beierle, author of First Person Plural and The Winter of Our Discothèque.

My fourth blurber is author Andrew W.M. Bierle. Not only an author, Andrew is a professional editor and stock photographer.

His first novel, The Winter of Our Discothèque, was a breakaway hit that transcended the genre of "beach reading." Deceptively set in the world of gay nightlife and class divisions, the work took on serious themes while satisfying the needs of popular fiction.

Bierle's second novel, First Person Plural, about conjoined twins, straight and gay, took on allegoric themes while exploring realistic queries of identity and manhood. Both are fascinating and well-written, which is why I asked him to blurb me.

Andrew was also helpful in his reading of Every Time, providing a few pointers on descriptions of Penn State, one of his alma maters. He kindly took the time to read the manuscript while in the middle of editing some other large academic works.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

So, days before I was almost completely finished with re-re-rewrites on the manuscript, and fantabulous designer Kurt Thomas completed the book cover, the Penn State child molestation scandal broke in pretty much every U.S. media outlet. Students rioted on campus, get this, in support of coach joe Paterno, who allegedly knew about the abuse, but did nothing.

What does this have to do with Every Time I Think of You? Very little, actually. But I had months before decided to have the main characters eventually attend Penn State. It has, and historically for the book's timeline, had, the state's largest Forestry department.

It seemed a no-brainer. Reid should go to Penn State. For the potential sequel, I could easily do some research and recreate my own similar 80s college experiences at Ohio State to the similar university.

But the scandal changed everything. Even though one of my readers, an author and Penn State alumnus, gave me pointers on a few facts about the campus, I suddenly realized I wanted nothing to do with this now-tainted university. Even though my book takes place 30 years ago, the mere thought of having to bring this problematic school into my literary world became unthinkable.

Here's Washington Blade Editor Kevin Naff a Penn State alumnus, sharing his thoughts on it from a gay perspective.

So I switched Reid's major to one that wasn't anachronistic, and chose Temple University. Philadelphia is a big change from State College for a latter chapter setting, but I moved a few parts around and made the changes.

In the end, I think it turned out to be a wise choice. The idea of characters attending school in a big city, and even further across Pennsylvania from their home in Greensburg, has already inspired more ideas and potential than the somewhat isolated, and football-obsessed Penn State.

I found so much more applicable contemporary and historical stories about Temple U, like this one about a landscape architect student who won't let his disability stand in the way of his dreams. He's kind of a hybrid of traits that both Reid and Everett share.

Temple also has an honored place in the history of wheelchair basketball, another element in Every Time. Its Institute on Disabilities could play a major part in the possible sequel, because it existed at the time of the current novel.

So, wiping the taint of Penn State out of my book wasn't a quick decision, or an easy one, but I think it was the right one.

Others may choose to swiftly move on. Only a week later, the corporate media works toward dismissing and minimizing this scandal with a touchy-feely "let the healing begin" feature timed with the university's subsequent football game. Note the deliberate use of children in the accompanying photos.

No, sorry; it's not time for healing. It's time for arrests and investigations and jail time, including a closer look at the suspicious death of a prosecutor who tried to bring this horror to light years ago.

Sometimes, real events have an impact on fictional work. When I thought I had really "finished" PINS in 1998, Matthew Shepard was murdered (in a similar fashion to a character in PINS), and the Columbine shootings horrified me. Both events forced me to rethink how a school and a community react to a tragedy.

This also proved to me the advantage of being an independent author. Had I already submitted a manuscript to a publisher, it would have been very difficult to make so many changes.

Anyone who thinks authors sit cloistered alone in their privacy without a connection to the world doesn't know authors. We connect to the world in multiple ways.

(This post is pre-dated to not upstage my later more uplifting posts.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Support System

As much I'm tickled by how simple it has been to convert books to Kindle and Nook editions, I still try to support independent bookstores. After all, they were also stocking my books whenever possible, and helping other indie authors with promotions, book clubs, and events.

So it was with sadness that I heard about yet another LGBT bookstore closing, this time OutWrite Books in Atlanta.

So many have closed, yet others have figured out how to survive: online sales, discounts for members, welcoming author events, plus diversifying their stock with some mainstream items.

Giovanni's Room is one of the best. Back in 1999/2000 during my extensive book tour for PINS, I read at Giovanni's Room on my birthday on a night when a lovely snow fell upon Philadelphia.

And because of its history going back to 1973, the pioneering store might just also make an appearance in the possible sequel to Every Time I Think of You. Oops, that's a bit of a spoiler, eh?

Lambda Literary Foundation
has the most recently updated list of indie and LGBT-friendly bookstores in the U.S. and Canada. Do patronize them.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Writer, Wroter, Reader

I love the website Daily Writing Tips!

I love multiple tips from lots of people!

One tip: Write the first draft spontaneously. Switch off your internal editor until it is time to review your first draft.

I did that, cranked out a good first draft, and happily discovered, after letting a few friends read it, with varying requests for their perspective, that the manuscript was a glorious mess!

That might daunt others, but I have an advantage this time of not having an invisible potential agent or publishing house query letter leader/rejecter leaning over my shoulder. I don't care what some editor 3,000 miles away thinks of this book. I may never go back to trying to published by what remains of the mainstream or small press houses. With so few opportunities, and such specific markets dictating what gets published, DIY authors are running loops around the traditional industry.

This NY Times article shows how is circumventing traditional methods, and publishers are worried.

I'm not. I sold more Kindle editions of my first three novels in the past four months than were sold in the past year. It took me a few hours, cost me nothing, and the little checks keep rolling in.

I've been much more open about sharing this new work than with previous projects. Perhaps it's because I'm on quite a roll at work, and everything I write there is for public consumption. Everything gets read, hopefully checked in advance, sometimes, corrected later.

One friend was nervous when I kept grilling him for mistakes or questions. Another dove in and helped me realize problems with the work, which led to thousands more words, which led to more problems, which led to even more fun.

Because it's really about having fun, or why the hell am I spending so many nights clacking away in front of my computer?

I get several requests from fledgling authors about the end game: How do I get published? How do I get an agent? How do I convert my novel to an e-book? How do I get more sales?

The answers are simple and complicated. First, finish the damn book before fretting! The other is, write a good book!

Really. Check out all these articles about fiction writing that explain quite clearly a lot of aspects of writing and publishing.

Now, go and write a good book.

Going the Distance

So, although the narrator in Every Time I Think of You is a distance runner, there isn't a lot of competition in the novel. I conveniently set the book after Reid's final high school cross country season, with just a little bit of track team activity and a marathon in the spring.

Reid's evolution as a person, and his steadfast nature, are more reflected by his being someone who goes the distance, not as a stellar athlete, but as someone who perseveres. The athleticism serves a purpose, but it's not the main focus. Don't expect a lot of intense details on competitions.

Having spent so many years immersing myself in wrestling during the almost ten years spent developing PINS, I knew which sports the two main characters would pursue, but it wasn't just about their athleticism.

I also had made the choice not to mention the pivotal book The Front Runner, written by friend and mentor Patricia Nell Warren. Inserting a mention of what The New york times described as "the most moving, monumental love story ever written about gay life" is setting oneself up for failure by comparison.

Reid might have possibly found the book, as did I, in high school, at a shopping mall bookstore. It might have even changed his life in ways. But Patricia's novel is just too big to include. So would any mention of Reid's probably heroes like Steve Prefontaine.

There's a strange thing in literature I call "Novel World," where much of literary fiction either completely ignores the setting's media - TV films, books- or layers pop culture references, as in another classic, Don DeLillo's White Noise. A close read of PINS will reveal that novel's influence. I did a lot of that in PINS, in fact making the main characters the subject of the media. I chose not to do that in Every Time... with the exception of a few favorite pop songs of the era (thus the title).

Like the pure sport of running, with Every Time, I set out to create a "clean" novel, one that isn't derivative, isn't too dense, yet still maintains a level of symbolism and a different voice than my other work.

Of course, Reid would probably have loved this song!

(Photos were randomly chosen and are not meant to imply anything about the subjects.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reel to Real

Here's another tidbit, and a slight spoiler about Every time I Think of You.

One of the retro aspects of the book is how one of the main characters, Everett, sends cassette tape mixes to his amour, Reid.

According to this Wall Street Journal article, some people still like cassette mixes.

So do I, but I've been converting my old cassette mixes to Mp3s via the Audacity application. I can enjoy those magical mixes on my phone and iTunes. Most of them have a specific time-based set of memories (mostly the 1990s, when I made the majority of my cassette mixes).

The WSJ article is in complete contradiction to a Yahoo article claiming that cassettes will be among the top ten formats that'll be outmoded and junked by 2020.

The iniquities of those mixes are part of the fun, as mentioned in the WSJ article:
Most music lovers don't miss the hiss, the background noise caused when the tape passes over the playback head. "Listening to a cassette for quality is like driving a Smart Car in the Indy 500," says Bob Lefsetz, author of a music newsletter and blog, who says the cassette is a poor music medium.

The hiss is part of the magic for cassette lovers. "Tape hiss has the same amount of charm as a little crackle when listening to a record has," says Mr. Thordarson. "It makes it seem more real."
As with most of my novels, music plays a strong part in setting the scene. I even have music mixes for each novel, which I often play while doing rewrites.

But now, with modern technology, I can download YouTube videos, add the audio for a mix, and much more easily make an audio mix through a variety of editing applications.

But no, nothing beats the retro analog process of carefully selecting the songs one by one for a mix tape. Thus, the references to mix tapes in my fourth novel.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


In the ten years I wrote my Sports Complex column, I never once covered lacrosse. It's funny, I've written about probably 60 different sports, from gay teams to gay players in mainstream sports, but never lacrosse.

Perhaps that's why it interested me to include it, albeit briefly, in Every Time I Think of You. Of course, it fits the kind of sport Everett would play at a private school. From my research, it was mostly limited to smaller schools in the late '70s, when the book is set. One of the "dude"-like aspects of lacrosse is how athletes call it "laX." Do they say it that way? I'm not sure, so I skipped any mention of it, unsure of the timeline of this nickname.

What I didn't know was how hot the guys are! Check out these few vintage photos from college lacrosse teams. Unable to actually attend a lacrosse match nearby, I had to resort to online data, videos and other fun stuff. I became interested in the specifics of uniforms then and now, rules and leagues, and the general history of the sport.

Similar to the more broad coverage of wrestling in PINS, I tried to present a balanced view of Everett's teammates, although they're all much more sketches than the more complete team dramatizations in PINS. Similarly, with Reid's cross country teammates, they don't serve as important plot devices as in PINS. But I hope the two characters' differing sports serve to reflect the nature of these two different kinds of teenagers.

And even though this is the second time I've used a serious sports injury in a story (the bike messenger accidents in Cyclizen sort of count, I guess), I'm certainly not trying to vilify athletics.

But a recent increase in head injuries in high school football have caused a lot of concern. Even professional football athletes have been seriously injured, and raised concerns about safety for athletes of all levels.

Being a former athlete and dancer, I remain fascinated by the wonders, limits and frailty of the human body. I'll be exploring this in other ways in future books and stories.

(The photos are random online finds, and not meant to imply anything about the subjects.)

UPDATE: A day after I posted this, the news of a high school football player dying during a game made headlines. Really tragic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wheely Scary

While browsing through my Netflix queue and suggested flicks, I decided to watch an old American International B classic, Die, Monster, Die! starring Boris Karloff, whom I've always admired, and Nick Adams, who, believe it or not, my mother went out with on a date! Fortunately, there wasn't a second date, and she met my dad only a few months later. Anyway, that's another story altogether.

What I noticed about Die, Monster, Die! is of course how Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (and the musical play original) was probably inspired by Karloff's wheelchair-using character. The plaid blanket is a giveaway, although the ornate chair with gryphon ornature is not appropriated.

I wondered about the varied depictions of characters who use wheelchairs in films.

Bypassing the classics (Coming Home, Born on the Fourth of July, Murderball and the Hitchcock classic Rear Window), and acknowledging the top three (according to Alan Troop on Disaboom), I'll skip to one of my favorites, Monkey Shines, whose image search online led to this page, a whimsical round-up of the Top Ten Wheelchair characters in Horror Films. It's getting near Halloween, so it's worth a gander.

What's clear are the two Vs: Victim or Villain. That's pretty much the binary code, for the most part. Some die violent deaths, others commit heinous monstrous crimes. A few others are -shocker!- not actually disabled! Horror movies usually reduce people to archetypes anyway, so why should disabled people be treated any differently?

I've pretty much watched every single Scott Speedman movie I could get my hands on. Even the worst are sweet, and there are a few clunkers, because Speedman is so durn sexy and cute. He's also a good actor, I think.

Good Neighbors is no exception. An interesting premise, Speedman plays a wheelchair-using neighbor to two other stranger characters who may or may not be a suspect in this darkly comic serial killer thriller. It's definitely one of my least favorite genres, but Scott's in it, so there. Here's a New York Times review. Here's a Fangoria write-up.

I guess the point is proving that characters can be sexy even in wheelchairs, particularly when they're played by Speedman.

Yet there are some stranger scenes in other films, particularly Nightmare on Elm Street 3, in which a wheelchair becomes an instrument of torture, and The Changeling, in which a chair becomes a possessed attacker.

Others depict a perceived horror of becoming disabled, the fear of vulnerability by the disabled, or a fear of the disabled. In many films, it's a myopic depiction.

While Karloff's evil in Die is blended into lots of other creepy stuff, and his handicap is incidental, Monkey Shines remains a favorite for several reasons.

- Jason Beghe is gorgeous, and frequently naked.
- Despite some melodrama, and a hokey ending, it's a good story.
- The difficulties of disability, including romantic expectations and betrayal, are shown thoroughly and believably.
- Monkeys are creepy.
- Have I mentioned how gorgeous Jason Beghe is?

But probably the biggest horror that Beghe overcame is that he recently told how he finally escaped the cult, excuse me, "religion" of Scientology.

See more features about disability in films at Disaboom.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Heady Brew

So, this week in the Bay Area Reporter, my feature about UK choreographer Mark Brew setting a new piece on AXIS Dance company was published. I took another perusal of some online videos. Above is a montage of a few previously created AXIS dances, and Mark's work.

His "Nocturne" male-female duet is pretty amazing. I see it as a metaphor for romance or sex, since there's a bed. It kind of asks the question that people ask disabled people, and which I explore (perhaps a little too fully) in my book: "What do you do in bed?"

Well, Brew made a dance in and out of a bed. I'll have to ask him if his dance is that literal, but I doubt it.

I have to say, for the first time in years, I was a bit daunted to interview dancers Rodney Bell and Shonserée Giles; not because they'd been on TV. Duh. Just because they're pretty amazing dancers.

It was easier to talk with director Judith Smith about the production aspect, and to Brew about the abstract of choreography. But with the dancers, I basically was talking a lot between questions, while in my mind, I was thinking, "Wow. You're cool." Even though I'd danced for years, I still get a bit starstruck.

UPDATE: the opening night concert really amazing. As a former dancer, I can be a bit choosy about modern dance choreography. But the innovations the works undertook occasionally left me gasping. the daring moves that were accomplished, gymnastic tumbling on and off wheelchairs, and, in the case of Brew's work, a bathtub, table and easy chair, evoked a variety of dramatic inter-personal tensions. Dances by company member Sebastian Grubb, New Yorker David Dorffman, and Brew's commissioned new work were simply fascinating.

The audience, which included about 30 people in wheelchairs in the front non-seating area, really enjoyed it. At the reception afterwards, I got to chat more with the affable Brew and other company members and patrons. A great night!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I like to brag that almost 20 years ago I saw the first live performance by Justin Bond as Kiki DeRange, at the former Lily's Bar (now Martuni's.).

Justin is unique. Anyone knows that. After leaving San Francisco, Bond became the toast of New York with an acclaimed cabaret act.

Justin eschews male or female identification, so notice how I'm writing about Justin to avoid using his/her... oh, frak it. Justin uses Mx. Innovative yet again, although I don't know how to spell the possessive version of that. Merx?

Anyway, Justin's new CD is called Dendrophile and you should buy it or download it. It's strange, artistic and has nothing to do with my novel, except the title, and Justin's affinity for earth-loving ideals, like that of Every Time I Think of You's main characters do, somewhat.

Here's "American Wedding," a chant-like song with beautiful video graphics.

Tree Entry

Okay, this is a little flaky, but sweet. I don't even remember how I found it, but hey, the boys in "Every Time..." have a close relationship with trees.

How to Listen to Trees

Listening to trees is either a relaxation or a meditating exercise, depending on how you choose to view it. Listening to the communications of trees (or rustlings and noises if you're really practical) is a way of attuning our hearing and paying more attention to what we hear around us rather than letting sounds invade our space unawares. Trees make for a wonderful subject of focus because they cannot move more than what the breeze blows, toning down distractions and causing us to relax and focus more clearly.

Learn more about communing with trees!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


If there's one thing I've learned, bullies are sick puppies. and the ones who taunted a kid with a disability should be arrested and put away.

Mitchell Wilson Suicide: Disabled Boy's Death Raises Bullying Concerns

The death of an 11-year-old boy with muscular dystrophy months after his assault by a bully has shined a spotlight on bullying in Canada's schools.

Muscular dystrophy left Mitchell Wilson struggling to do simple things like walking around the block or climbing stairs. He also had to use a walker at school. Doctors had urged him to exercise regularly to stave off the disease's effects, something that was growing increasingly difficult for the boy.

Wilson was mugged last November by a 12-year-old boy from his school. The assailant was after the iPhone Wilson borrowed from his dad. The bully was arrested and removed from the Pickering, Ont. school they both attended.

"He was never the same," said Craig Wilson to the Toronto Star, the boy's father and the one who found the boy's body in his room with a plastic bag tied around his head earlier this month.

Things didn't get any better for the young Mitchell as the court date loomed. And the bullying didn't stop.

"Subsequent to the beating that he took, he just lost that spark you see in a kid's eye. He had huge anxiety attacks about going outside and going for his walks and going to school by himself," Craig Wilson told CTV's Canada AM.

“At the cottage in July, he said, ‘If I have to go back to that school, I’ll kill myself,’” the boy's grandmother, Pam Wilson, told the National Post.

More, with multiple links, at Huffington Post.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


After college and before my return to New york City in the mid-1980s, I lived in Pittsburgh for a very interesting year. I worked with the Dance Alloy, performed a few of my own works. I also held wild band/rent parties and got audiences and reviews for a few shows in a huge loft I lived in over on the North Side in an area called Lawrenceville.

Little did I know that those dance company tours to rural Pennsylvania and my rural/urban experiences there would later become the partial setting of my fourth novel. At the time, I didn't even think I could write a novel. I did hack out a short story on a manual typewriter until I nearly sprained a few fingers.

One of the funnier cultural aspects of Pittsburgh life is the regional dialect of its citizens. "Pittsburghese" is spoken mostly by the working class people. The artsy types I hung out with, along with imports like myself, were often bemused and befuddled by the lingo, which is similar, but not identical to Philadelphia dialect.

Pittsburghese gets a little mention in Every Time I Think of You, and reflects the class differences of its main characters.

Example: "Yins gun duntun?" ("Are you all going downtown?")

Here's a very silly song that sums it up:

Enjoy some instructional videos, here, here and here, here and elsewhere on YouTube.

Oh, and here's a video of people driving through the Fort Pitt Tunnel into Pittsburgh (see chapter 6). It's a bit pedestrian, but the people in it vocalize the impact of being overwhelmed by a city after exiting the tunnel.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Turning a Page

Last weekend, news of the imminent closing of A Different Light Bookstore was published on Bay Citizen. A Different Light had been a standard of the ultimate gay bookstore for decades. Under management by prolific editor Richard Labonté, the store stocked pretty much every LGBT title at the time.

When I self-published my first novel PINS in 1999, Labonté and his staff ordered copies by the carton. I would occasionally haul a 50-pound box in a duffel bag, arrive sweaty on my bike, and unload the books with a sense of accomplishment, and the consignment sales checks kept arriving on time.

I also read many times with short story anthology contributors at events that were more like literary parties. Readings I had at the Los Angeles and New York branches (both have closed) were also successful and fun.

After LaBonté moved to Canada, the new management drastically cut back their stock, which recently has been reduced to fewer titles and a bin of discount porn DVDs.

Having read from novels and short stories more than a dozen times at ADL, it's really saddening to see this happen. Similarly, Modern Times Bookstore, where I also read and bought books many times, has closed.

Everyone saw this coming more than a decade ago. Online sales have wiped out independent bookstores, and people need to support them.

But at the same time, I had to take advantage of online sales to reach a broad audience, many of whom don't or can't buy retail.

As my second and third books, Monkey Suits and Cyclizen were released, I took advantage of the streamlined Print-On-Demand format. Selling them via consignment became problematic, however, as bookstores got a much smaller sales percentage, leaving reading events to be mere symbolic promotional appearances.

Here in San Francisco, down Market Street, Books Inc. maintains success by mixing a good dose of LGBT titles with mainstream books, calendars and magazines. Readings there are usually well attended, despite the occasional clunk of weights from the gym upstairs.

Yet, as this sad news hit, I got a message from the publisher of my third novel, Cyclizen, that they will include it among many titles being published via eBook format free of charge.

This is right when I've been futzing with the problematic ePub application. For this book, at least, that's being taken care of, and Cyclizen should be available via the Apple iBookstore in about a month.

The pages of publishing have been turning, and now scrolling, very fast. As I polish up what may be my next novel, I've already begun formatting it in an eBook-friendly format before offering a print version.

It's sad to see this kind of change, but it's inevitable. Bookstores may not survive, but books can.

And although few things can replace the pleasure of literally sitting down with a book made of paper, the possibility of being more green, while still sharing my work, offers hope.

(Very interesting column by Thomas Roche about ADL's closing, specifically, the comment made that "gay stories have all been told.")

[reposted from my Cyclizen blog]

Extremely Talented

The Santa Cruz Sentinel
recently had a feature on paddleboard racer Jeff Denholm, who competed in a 32-mile race from Molokai to Oahu.

The seasoned sailor had his arm mangled 18 years ago in a fishing accident. Now he uses a removable paddle as a prosthetic.

Not long after he left the hospital, the Maine native was firming up plans to move to the Rockies, where he could ski and hike. To expedite his return to water sports, Denholm even ripped the staples out of his healing wound himself.

But returning wasn't enough. He still wanted to "hammer," as he likes to say, charging as hard as humanly possible, challenging his innermost limits. Soon he found himself designing artificial limb attachments for surfing, climbing, sailing and mountain biking.
I never cease to be amazed at the determination and perseverance allegedly "crippled" people use to make their lives so much more amazing than "normal" people.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Just to be clear, "Every Time" is not Glee slash fiction.

I am not one of those obsessive Glee/Darren Criss fans.

But these people are!

Oh yes, and this one, and this one and this one. Oh, and this one and this one.

Maybe if I said it is slash fiction, they'd buy it, those crazy kids!

Friday, September 16, 2011


The Guardian UK reports on the previously secretive phenomenon of authors, Young Adult writers in particular, being asked to "straightwash" their characters.

Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown's co-written YA novel, Stranger, includes the viewpoint of Yuki as one of its five main characters. Yuki is gay and has a boyfriend, with whom he does "nothing more explicit" than kissing. Writing in the US trade magazine Publishers Weekly, the two published authors say they were contacted by an agent from a "major" literary agency, who offered to sign them up "on the condition that we make the gay character straight, or else remove his viewpoint and all references to his sexual orientation".

The two authors believe that "forcing all major characters in YA novels into a straight white mould is a widespread, systemic problem which requires long-term, consistent action". They suggest that both editors and agents who are open to novels with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protagonists make this explicit, that readers vote with their pockets and that writers speak out about similar experiences. "How many published novels with a straight white heroine and a lesbian or black or disabled best friend once had those roles reversed, before an agent demanded a change? This does not make for better novels. Nor does it make for a better world. Let's make a better world," they say.
Author Jessica Verday experienced a similar problem.

Author Scott Tracey discusses this issue on his blog.
I had agents who said there wasn’t a market for a paranormal with a gay character who had a romance. I had editors suggest they would reconsider the book if Braden and Trey became Brenda and Trey. Or if I removed the romance and made it a straight girl/gay guy buddy comedy.

Now, at the end of the day, my book wound up exactly where it was meant to: at a publishing house that loved the story, and an editor who was super supportive right from the beginning.

And his most important statement: "If you want more books with LGBT content, buy the ones that are already out there. Show publishers that there’s profit to be made by investing in these books."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

See Me, Read Me

Here's a new book that tackles a different disability; blindness.

Dorothy's Closet has an interview with author Belo Miguel Cipriani, whose book Blind: A Memoir tells of his harrowing experience in being violently attacked, and his recovery, while becoming blind.

I struggled with the idea of recovery from disabling injuries in my own book. Is the reader supposed to anticipate or hope for a character's full recovery? Is his love interest supposed to? should anyone?

I was quite amused by the Cipriani's response to a reader:

"A guy approached me at a bar and told me that my book had left him unfulfilled; it didn't feel like a good ending to him because I did not get my vision back. I mentioned to him that my book is a memoir and that not everyone in life gets justice. The man continued to tell me he had hoped for a happy ending – to which I replied, 'You should go to a massage parlor for that.'”

Check out Dorothy's Closet for more LGBT books reviews.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Just. Too. Awful (and funny).

Nation Afraid To Admit 9-Year-Old Disabled Poet Really Bad

The good intentions of Luke's poetry, coupled with his heartbreaking illness, make it difficult for Americans to recognize and acknowledge the poor quality of his work. The poems are fraught with saccharine sentimentality, slapdash mixed metaphors, and endless clichés involving rivers and the sun.

One example from "What's Most Important," a poem in his most recent book, Offering Of Hopeweavings:
The things that are important in life / Are not wealth and fame / But the sun peering through the clouds / Its light shining on flower petals / And warming a kitten's nose / Making everything beautiful / Because that is what God wants / For us to be happy.

Today I'm going through another round of re-re-rewrites on the manuscript. A dear friend has been checking it for what I call "Cliché Alerts." Originally, I set out to make Reid's narrative voice a bit precocious, like that of a smart yet perhaps overwrought teen whose voice was a bit wordy and florid.

After several friends have read it in-progress, it became clear that some of it was just plain bad! This has all been an interesting experiment, a very different process than my others works. I just hope that in its final version, it doesn't -like the poems of this fictional child author- suck!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Parks & Rec

At the risk of being a bit future-anachronistic, here's an "It Gets Better" video released by the Department of the Interior. I'd like to think that in some kind of fiction-real future projection, an older Reid would be one of these speakers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


"What costs more: a home in San Francisco's Sunset District, or a wheelchair ramp in the Board of Supervisors' chambers? If you picked the house, you're wrong."

Matier & Ross' column castigates the SF Supervisors for the ongoing drama about a ramp to be built to accommodate Supervisor Angela Alioto-Pier and other wheelchair users in the chambers.

Alioto-Pier, who is paraplegic, threatened to sue over this ramp back in '08, when the Board initially rejected the $1.1 million price tag. The ramp, now costing more than most homes - even in the Bay Area - has become an economic embarrassment, some say.

SFist anklebites with coverage of the 300-plus cranky comments on SFgate's website.

One comment sums it up: "This is not about access or ramps. It is about the super bloviated hot air and global warming that is local government in San Francisco."