Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good for You

I joined Good Reads after getting a few requests from friends and colleagues. I also gussied up my author profile, and I hope to get some nice reviews for "my boys," i.e. Reid and Everett, the main characters in new book.

GoodReads works differently than Shelfari. The good thing about Shelfari is that my capsule notes and descriptions get shared on and then all over the Interwebs. If you're an avid reader, I encourage you to join both.

I've been trying to list as many books I've read as possible on both sites. Obviously my Shelfari account is a bit small and self-centered. I found the GoodReads site more fun, with lots of clickable options.

It's fun to glance at my real-life bookshelf and reevaluate my current collection. The harder part is recalling all the good books I've read over the years, but either gave away or sold. While I don't have time to posts a lot of reviews, it's fun to list them.

That's it! No big meaningful post-ness this time.

Oh, BTW, thanks to the hundreds of people who downloaded Every Time I Think of You during Free Kindle Week. I'm still noticing downloads after the deadline, so hopefully the promo will result in some more sales, nice reviews, and the accolades we authors crave.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wheely Great Deal: Free Kindle Week

With a special promotion going on this week, there's no excuse for Kindle readers not to enjoy my fourth novel. Every Time I Think of You is free to download today, Monday February 20, through Friday February 24.

That's right. It's free! Numerous other author pals have recommended this a great promotional tool, so I've jumped on board. Hey. if people can offer President's Day sales on cars and mattresses, why not a book?

Also, I've joined Amazon Prime in offering Every Time I Think of You free to share for members, now through May20, 2012.

Here are a few new published reviews:

It's not easy to write a novel about sports, gay teenagers and sex in (and out of) wheelchairs. Jim Provenzano has done it, with grace and power. All readers - disabled or not - can stand and applaud." - Dan Woog, The Outfield

"A beautiful story of friendship, devotion and love" - Bob Lind Echo Magazine (forthcoming)

"This is a unique coming of age story replete with the surprise one feels when he realizes that he is in love." - Amos Lassen Reviews

"Provenzano’s sense of pace and plotting are dead on ... and his prose is straightforward and never showy. It’s a well-told tale whose aim to inform as well as entertain certainly hits the mark." - Out in Print

Get my new book today on!

UPDATE: Feb 26.
Well, that worked.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Every Time I Think of You; the trailer

With a fab arrangement and performance by award-winning singer-composer Eric Himan.

Check out his music on

Buy Every Time I Think of You; paperback and Kindle on and Nook edition on

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time the Avenger

Once again, like my book, I'm feeling a bit overshadowed and sidetracked. Celebrity deaths continue at a strangely hastened pace, and I focus on one while others focus on the more famous and inevitable.

Ben Gazzara, one of America's most understated yet accomplished actors, died last week. As Playbill's obituary writes, he was a "Darkly handsome, with a brooding, manly persona, the New York-born, Italian-American actor." That, and his talent, made him one of my favorites.

As a teenage theatre major at Kent State University, I had the daunting task of playing Brick in a student production of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Having seen the Paul Newman film version, I thought the role a sexy, and sexually ambivalent, character. Lacking DVDs and such in those days, I found the Theatre World annual photos books of each year's shows, and found a page of photos of Ben Gazzara in the role he originated.

I'd since become fascinated by the annuals, edited for decades by John Willis, who seemed to have made sure any production still featuring male shirtless actors was included.

Although mine was an unstaged class scene between Brick and Maggie, and the probability of a nineteen-year-old portraying a manic-depressive alcoholic was slightly improbable, I took the assignment seriously.

I foraged at a vintage clothing store to find a pair of silk pajamas for the role (I still have them!). I forget who found the crutch for me. But I'll never forget the embarrassing moment when, in a fit of characteristic rage where Brick flings his crutch at Maggie, instead, in front of the entire faculty and graduate students, my crutch went sliding offstage and into the orchestra pit.

Some odd ad-libbing took place. I hobbled around with the character's limp, glass in hand, while someone retrieved the crutch and snuck it onstage.

The blog Sheila Variations has an extended excerpt of a scene from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Here's an interesting quote Maggie has about Brick:
Of course, you always had that detached quality as if you were playing a game without much concern over whether you won or lost, and now that you’ve lost the game, not lost but just quit playing, you have that rare sort of charm that usually only happens in very old or hopelessly sick people, the charm of the defeated. — You look so cool, so cool, so enviably cool.

Gazzara may have never had to deal with such a forced gaffe-induced improv in his career, but he was also known for the loose, semi-improvisational films he later made with John Cassavetes.

While my career path thankfully merged toward other more sensible aspects of the arts, when a smartly-written blog post started making the rounds, it struck a chord for me and other colleagues.

Tom Vanderwell's Wayfarer blog features an excellent essay on how his theatre training led to his successes in life, even though he did not become a theatre professional. Vanderwell's points are great and full of truth.

I feel a closer connection to creativity skills, not just social and business situations he cites. For my fiction work, a sense of drama, character development, and especially dialogue, are probably the best skills handed over from performing. Being trained to learn a sense of pacing in great dialogue like Williams' and that of other playwrights, hopefully had an influence.

But closer to Vanderwell's points; like he did, I learned all aspects of getting a project done. And if it doesn't work out as I'd hoped, I learn from it and move on to the next project.

Did I convincingly portray Brick, a young man caught in denial, an alcohol-induced injury (also a metaphor for his psychological damage) and a repressed love for his male friend? In all probability, I was adequate, despite the crutch gaffe. But I moved on.

Ben Gazzara, who created the role, moved from theatre to film, had a period of terrible depression and mental strife, but had a fascinating resurgence in popularity with choice cameos later in his life.

Because for ten years after my theatre training and work, I switched to dance, and then wrestled as an adult for 14 years, I do have a personal understanding of bodily injury. While it's nothing in comparison to the fictional sports accidents in PINS and Every Time I Think of You, hopefully, my own smaller experience led to a sympathetic depiction in my books.

It's difficult, however, to be sympathetic about the deaths of artists like Amy Winehouse and Whitney Houston, who had everything and wasted it with drug and alcohol addiction. Their handlers, friends and family seem more like enabling sycophants, more concerned with money and associative fame. That's the tragedy.

I'm more touched to see a person who defied obstacles and lived a full life, like skier Jill Kinmont Boothe, who also died just recently.

Paralyzed in a skiing accident only days before she was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Boothe's biography The Other Side of the Mountain became a pair of films in the 1970s. New Mobility reposted a recent interview/feature about Boothe.

Boothe died at 75 after a lifetime of providing inspiration for disabled people around the world. Gazzara died at 81, after a lifetime of accomplishments, which included overcoming his problems, not succumbing to them.

Is it insensitive to compare? Is it considered more proper to shed a tear tonight while watching the Grammy Awards, whose scripts have no doubt been frantically changed to accommodate the morbidly well-timed demise of one of its biggest winners? Will celebrities grow tired of Tweeting their vapid sympathies, perhaps after several drinks at the lavish party to be thrown by Whitney Houston's former producer, Clive Davis, at the very same hotel where she died?

Like a ticking Big Ben clock, Time the Avenger moves on, whether we success or not, whether we die tragically or quietly, too soon or late in life. Will we be an inspiration, or a cautionary tale?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chapter 8 (excerpt)

As I washed a few cups and a knife, tossed the paper napkins in the garbage, basically busying myself as Everett adjusted the sofa bed, I tried to prepare myself for what would or should happen next. Would we dance slowly like two tuxedoed gentlemen, then fall into each other’s arms again? What happened after the fade to black? Our previous couplings had been so abrupt. This night should mean something more, but so far the whole trip had seemed like just a fumbled jaunt.

But when I returned to the living room, Everett had shifted things to a romantic mood. The room was darkened to only the flickering light of two candles, the TV turned off in exchange for a softly-playing James Taylor album on the stereo. The couch had become a rumpled bed. He tossed pillows onto it.

“Come ‘ere.”

I approached him, ready, I hoped.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Under the Covers

Sometimes, you can tell a book by its cover.
Sometimes, you can't, especially when the book covers look exactly alike.

The gay romance, or M/M fiction, as it's called, has exploded in prolific abundance, thanks to ebooks. That's great for independent authors.

What's not so great is that since many of them are free via Amazon Prime's back-end deal (You make your book free for awhile, and Amazon pays you later, or something like that), they bump other more serious works off the charts, so if you look up "Gay Fiction" under Kindle editions, you see page after page of images of headless shirtless male bodies promoting what is basically erotica.
Often, you see the same bodies, or, as prolific and hilarious book blog Stumbling Over Chaos' Misadventures in Stock Photography shows, dozens of books with the same stock images. Could there be no clearer proof that much of this work is equally similar and unremarkable?

I have nothing against erotica. But it's not literature. I've written both. With Every Time I Think of You, yes, the book starts off with a sex scene. And then, yes, there's another sex scene. But if you actually read the book, hopefully you'll see the difference.

Each love/sex scene furthers the plot. It furthers the characters' discovery, understanding, and differences and conflicts with each other. What happens under the covers shapes their relationship.

Perhaps plot happens in some of the thousands of M/M erotica "romance" books online. I don't know. I don't read those kind of books very often. Because when sex is all there is to a book, it's erotica. When there are no symbols, metaphors, phrasing, or none of the things that differentiate good writing from typing, it's not a turn on, literarily or otherwise.

So when I decided to use a simultaneously metaphoric and literal book cover, I hoped my book would stand out (You have to read the book to learn about the pine branch). Perhaps it's too obtuse, and I should have chosen a stock image of a few twinks smooching. I didn't (I did in the trailer, though, but hey. That's advertising!).

Another image I didn't use was that of a wheelchair. Many books about disabled people -memoir, fiction, and understandably, non-fiction- make it quite clear on the cover that the book is about a wheelchair user.

I suppose that's fine for some who identify as such, but isn't the point of telling a story about a disabled person to show that the chair is not the person, that the chair does not define them?

Some feature a chair prominently, like this possibly odd straight porno short story. Hmm. Check out the excerpt. Crip fetish much?

The corny Harlequin Romance covers are adorably awful. He's hot, he loves kids, he uses a chair; i.e, the perfect man for a straight woman's fantasy! Actually, he is pretty cute.

Some are serious, not gay, and autobiographical, and deal directly with disability, like Ruth Madison's (W)hole.

Rolle reviews a short story, "Permanently Legless," whose disability theme could not be more obvious by the title. But to make it even more obvious, the cover designer used not only the cliché headless torsos, but slapped a wheelchair graphic on the cover like a parking sign.

In checking out the excerpt on Amber Allure, it's pretty clear this is a story that's mostly about sex.

And yet, there's an Iraq War veteran angle, plus the British first-person narrative which might make it more interesting. Read it if you like.

My point is, a book cover that turns a possibly good story into what looks more like a box of underwear doesn't appeal to me. Apparently, it appeals to others. Good for them.

But at least none of these, or mine, have yet to make it among the Worst Gay Book Covers ever.

Other books that Rolle has reviewed under the category of disability seem varied, interesting and offer variant ways of visualizing disability.

And isn't that the point?