Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Message of Love, excerpt: Naked Handstand

Ah, new year's resolutions. We resolve to cease some behaviors and start others. The night had a special meaning in the previous book, Every Time I Think of You. And again, what happens a few years later on the same holiday reflects how Reid and Everett's relationship has grown, and changed.

I resolved to break a literary rule once again, as I did in Message of Love. One of the main conceits of the romance novel is the idea of monogamy; one love between two people. But what if the rules are changed because of a variety of reasons, or just one reason?

In this excerpt, set after a New Year's Eve party in Pittsburgh, boyfriends Reid and Everett push their own boundaries of honesty, faithfulness, and fidelity. Critical reviews have called it "cheating," but others who know how love works, and that sexuality between young men isn't always the magical happily ever after.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Reading Down Under: Scattered Thoughts' Aussie Special!

Longtime followers know that I got some great reviews for my last two books from independent reviewers. Their prolific blogs continue to amaze me by the sheer number of books they promote, and the reviews are often thorough and heartfelt. You can click on the "Reviews" links on this blog on the right column to read them all.

But one of the most outstanding sites is Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Not only did I enjoy expansive praise-filled reviews for both Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love; I was also honored with a guest author spotlight, where I rambled on about why I decided to write the sequel. Every Time I Think of You was also among those chosen as one of the Best Books of 2014!

So it was without hesitation that I decided to help promote Melanie M.'s latest endeavor, a January special all about Australian authors!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best/Worst of 2014

I was happy to see that my latest novel, Message of Love, was listed on the Boys in Our Books blog's Best of 2014

The companion novel Every Time I Think of You, was also listed, since the reviewer gave both books a write-up, even though that was published in late 2011.

This keeps me going, along with my internal sense of tenacity, considering a few odd and unpleasant things that happened. 

Another author outright stole my book title, and the mini-flame war on GoodReads proved that while (according to my book stats on that site), while 95% of readers liked or totally loved my recent books, a few vicious harpies went on the warpath when I dared to reply to an inane profanity-spewing post that wasn't even a review.

Capricious and catty alternated with glowing gushes of praise. You can enjoy a dozen delicious cupcakes, but if just one has a rat turd in it, you tend to remember that one more than others. Some wasted hours spent on GoodReads proved that my attackers do this day in and out to multiple other authors, and there's no pleasing a professional crank.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


One of my favorite holiday traditions included everything about the Christmas tree, from shopping for one, choosing a size and shape, getting it home, in through the porch door after trimming the sap-bleeding trunk and screwing in the base, and then carefully getting it into the same corner of our living room each year.

Nowadays, with a smaller and dispersed family, getting a tree for my apartment doesn't really make much sense. Our ornaments are no longer the massive multi-generation collection. In fact, the whole ritual of 'gathering 'round the tree' doesn't really work when you're single. I did check out a few very reasonably priced wreathes.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Deal-cember - celebrate the season and Rainbow Awards finalist Message of Love

Get fifty percent off print and Kindles!

Message of Love is a finalist in the 2014 Rainbow Awards' Gay Contemporary Romance category.

Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up.

So, we're #8! Whoo-hoo.

Decemberdeals await. 
There are separate links for each book.

Message of Love (paperback)
code: H8YLCCRK

Every Time I Think of You (paperback)
code: 5K9CLT8S

Here's a Kindle Countdown deal on
Message of Love  for only 99 cents, December 9-16.

Print orders of Cyclizen are 

50% off through the publisher:

Happy holidays, and thanks for reading.

And thanks to the blog Loving Without Limits for sharing my Deal-cember offers.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Novel Approach: dual book review for Every Time I Think of You and Message of Love

The book review blog The Novel Approach posted a thoughtful dual review of my recent books Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love.

This is particularly heartwarming to me, in that reviewer Lisa not only offers praise, but some accurate critiques on the pacing of the sequel.

On Every Time I Think of You:

"Provenzano captures the voice, the emotions, and every pang of urgency that goes along with falling in love for the first time in Every Time I Think of You, the story of Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester, two seventeen year old boys who embark upon a journey of desire and an unexpected test of their love in the late 1970s."

She also gets what I've done with the narration to not reveal too much, and add a bit of mystery:

"The intimacy the author injects into this novel, choosing to limit the point of view, allows us to see Everett only through Reid’s eyes, giving the reader the sense that there are things about him, Everett, we don’t know, and perhaps never will, as his and Reid’s relationship continues to mature and evolve."

And evolve it does, into the sequel, where Reid and Everett attend college, together, then separately, in Philadelphia, in the early 1980s. Here's a review excerpt:

"The day-to-day domesticity in this literary piece made for a slow and at times prosaic 374 pages, peppered only occasionally with light conflict that was easily resolved but supported the idyllic nature of the story’s theme. Where Every Time I Think of You moved along briskly through the boys’ trials and tragedies, Message of Love requires the reader to persevere through a somewhat cumbersome narration of details that don’t always serve to evolve the plot or the characters. While that doesn’t mean Message of Love is at all poorly written, it does serve as a contrast to the strength of Every Time I Think of You."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

American Horror Story's Mat Fraser is not your 'inspiration porn'

Mat Fraser, one of the many disabled actors in American Horror Story: Freak Show, does not want to "inspire" you. 
I first saw Mat perform as a guest drummer for Coldplay at the London Paralympics closing ceremonies (I watched the YouTube simulcast; video embed's at the bottom of this post). 

It wasn't a great concert because he performed, or that it was the Paralympics, but that it was a great show, even better than the London Olympics ceremonies. Sure, it had a smaller budget and fewer pyrotechnical displays. But they featured Sir Ian McKellen and a dazzling array of performers in a much more deftly produced spectacle. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tomas Young, 1979-2014

Tomas Young, an Iraq War veteran-turned-activist who became one of the first veterans to publicly oppose the war, has died.Young, who was paralyzed after being shot five days into his tour in Iraq, died Monday morning at a home in Seattle.

Young was paralyzed in 2004 shortly after arriving in Iraq. He went on to become one of the nation’s most prominent antiwar U.S. veterans speaking out against the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Los Angeles Times obituary
Democracy Now obituary
Common Dreams obituary
LA Times feature on Young

View the film Body of War.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Shutting Down the Twits & Crits

Shonda Rhimes recently shut down critics who attacked her inclusion of saucy gay sex scenes and adultery in her hit shows Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.

Rhimes is a notoriously big fan of tweeting, so she's adept at the inane discourse that takes place there. She even encourages her cast members to tweet comments to their legions of fans during broadcasts of her shows. Cute? Fun? A complete waste of time? Whatever.

But she did get attention for taking on viewers who didn't care for the gay sex scene in the new episode of ...Murder. So she essentially turned a negative into a positive.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Message of Love: "an intelligent, finely-written romantic new adult story"

Woo-hoo! I got a few more thoughtful intelligent reviews of both Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love.

Here's an excerpt from Lloyd A. Meeker's take on my latest:

"Reid and Everett’s growing self-knowledge ...drives this story, written with Provenzano’s characteristic intensity, to its satisfying conclusion in a lover’s treasure hunt. When you’re next in the mood for an intelligent, finely-written romantic new adult story that never slips into sentimentality, this is the book you should pick up. Highly recommended."

Read the full review on Out in Print!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Philadelphia Phreedoms

Setting my novel Message of Love primarily in Philadelphia in the early 1980s became a complex decision. Such a city almost becomes a character in itself; outwardly friendly, yet complicated and a little dangerous.

Philadelphia City Hall
Of course, no city is perfect. They all have their unpleasant sides, and Philly has quite a few. My research about the era proved true. I wonder if I may have 'gone soft' by depicting historically accurate aspects of crime and anti-gay violence as being nearby, for the most part. How it effects the lives of Reid and Everett, the main characters, develops gradually, not with the violent impact of reality.

For example, last week a swastika was painted on the windows of a kosher shop in northeast Philly. In a similar hate crime, a synagogue endured the same cowardly graffiti hatred.

And on September 11, of all dates, a gay couple was assaulted and beaten by a gang of up to fifteen "clean-cut" white men and women in Center City.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kanye West's Disability Idiocy, Arena-Style

Kanye West is a royal douchebag. But you knew that. If you didn't, then this should convince you.

The egotistical self-proclaimed "genius," "musical artist," and impregnator of professional fame whore Kim Kardasian, demanded that all fans at a recent concert in Melbourne, Australia stand up or the "genius" would continue to have a royal hissyfit.

He did. He even demanded that two disabled audience members stand up.

According to Heatwave, the "genius" had made the same edict at his Sydney concert, demanding that the entire audience stand up 'unless y'all sitting down because y'all handicapped'. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Message of Love vs. Message of Hate; Goodreads = Good Screeds?

Today is Chrissie Hynde's birthday, and I am celebrating, because the upfront take-no-prisoners 63-year-old lead singer and guitarist for The Pretenders has a new solo album, and later this year, almost on my birthday, she's be playing in San Francisco, and I got tickets!

Also, I got into a flame war on Goodreads and made a few hate-fans! Whoo Hoo!

Backtrack: As you may have noticed, my latest novel is titled Message of Love. The hit Pretenders song is referenced in the book, and my old pal, musician Dudley Saunders, recording a lovely acoustic cover of the title song. No, it's nothing like the original, and that's the point. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Of Ice Buckets and Telethons: Chapter Excerpt, Message of Love

Unless you've been completely offline for months, you've seen dozens of Ice Bucket challenge video clips; your friends, celebrities, everyone.

Some criticism arose over the waste of water, and other snarky truths, only to be countered by the point of the millions raised for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), as well as awareness; and that's true, too.

But as my coverage of the original AIDS Rides proved, it's tough but needed to ask where the money's going. Sometimes, how much is being spent on a cure is questionable, if not absent.

Treatment, sure, and that keeps the pharmaceutical companies happy.

In the controversy over HIV prevention, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has come under deserved scrutiny for dismissing Gilead's AIDS treatment pill Truvada, an HIV prevention pill, as "reckless." AIDS activists who critique testing requirements and its stance are calling for the resignation of Executive Director Michael Weinstein. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

On the Radio

I don't often –heck, I rarely, if ever– discuss my day job here, because, hey, it's work. 
But this is pretty special: 

Sarah Dash!
I'll be on radio podcast in San Francisco, with Sarah Dash, Raquela (okay, phone-ins, but still) and host Tweaka Turner. Some other guests may be on, too, so it's not, like odd that I'm paired with these immensely talented women.

But yeah; I get to share a program with them on the local podcast. Previous guests include dozens of movers and shakers in nightlife, arts and gay stuff. 

The podcast itself is in a funky little Mission studio, but that's not the point. It's fun, and I think out next week.
Find out more on the House of Pride Facebook page.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Awesome Mix Tape: Music for Reading

Music plays an integral part in the story of Guardians of the Galaxy, and it also plays an integral part in my writing, which should be obvious, since my last two novels use classic song titles.

In this great comic Book Resources article, the director James Gunn, screenwriter and actors share how the '60s and '70s songs are not just played in the movie and trailers, but part of the story.

You can "watch"er, listen to the full soundtrack, "Awesome Music Mix #1" on YouTube. It includes some of the most awesome songs ever. Billboard says it's understandably topping its soundtrack list.  (Here's another version.)

As I watched Guardians of the Galaxy for the second time, in a different theatre (and in 2D, for a change), I was particularly amused by a group of young boys seated behind me and a friend. While often movie and theatre experiences have been nearly ruined by talking audience members –I seem to have annoyance bad karma– this time, the kids' whispers and giggles were totally enjoyable. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and the mother of one or more boys did shush them a few times.
But still, I could hear their excitement and knowledge of the story, how one boy was explaining a few back stories to his younger pal or brother.

It made me wonder what these kids, like the young version of Peter Quill (played by the adorable Chris Pratt), now think of these groovy songs that were released decades before they were born. The classic songs are almost timeless, but it's funny to think of a nine-year-old of today grooving in his room to Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" or David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream."

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Horrible, Wonderful

This is an essay about a lot of horrible things, so you've been warned; terrible awful things done to people with disabilities and able-bodied people whose bodies have been torn the shreds by heinous violence.

In Russia, the Malaysia Airlines plane shot down by a military rocket killed all the passengers, including children and several AIDS activists and HIV specialists headed from Amsterdam to the Melbourne AIDS Conference.

Dozens of memorials around the world have commemorated those lost. But even though it's now known that this was an intentional act committed by the military, albeit mistakenly, no international governing body has taken steps to sue, punish, or lay blame where it belongs; with the fascist Putin regime and his missile-wielding military thugs, who tried to cover up evidence, abscond with corpses, blame others, even spew out conspiracy theories about the passengers "being already dead" to the lie-filled Russian media. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Message of Love chapter excerpt: Reid and Everett's First Pride

This year I ducked out of SF LGBT Pride events a little early, not because of any sense of shame or fatigue (well, a little fatigue). I've attended Pride marches, and marched myself, with several groups over the years, even rode a bicycle several times –now, that was fun.

photo: Andy Warhol
But in fictionalizing the first Pride event for my characters Reid and Everett in Message of Love, I had to re-remember the naiveté, innocence and sense of being overwhelmed to be in the company of thousands of out LGBT people. 

Do you recall your very first Pride event? Were you scared, nervous, afraid, overwhelmed? My first time, in 1988, New York City, I was. I snuck out of a job that required me to work that Sunday. Wearing a button-down shirt and pants, I was quite overwhelmed to see so many smiling happy people. By the next year, I was marching with ACT UP, protesting, chanting, and in the company of a tribe of like-minded activists.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pennsylvania Pride

As LGBT Pride events fill our national (and international) calendars, I want to focus on Pennsylvania, and the setting of my two most recent novels, where it seems the fictional dreams of my protagonists have come true.

Some background about the two novels Every Time I Think of You and Message of Love (with some minor spoilers).

Dancing in the streets of Pittsburgh
In 1979, Everett Forrester's sister and father live in Pittsburgh, and in the first novel, the two young men's first awkward romantic night is spent in Squirrel Hill, a scenic neighborhood similar to Shadyside.
This May, people were dancing in the streets in the neighborhood of Shadyside after Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage ban was declared unconstitutional. (Photo by Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Two Memorial Days

It's no small coincidence that the airing of HBO's adaptation of Larry Kramer's play The Normal Heart took place on Memorial Day weekend. While most of America commemorated its war dead, others are still recovering from the war known as AIDS.

The reaction to the groundbreaking play has been overwhelmingly positive, as it should be.

And it took producer-director Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, etc) to finally help Larry Kramer wrangle it from Barbra Streisand, who clung to the film rights for decades.

Seeing Mark Ruffalo portray Ned Weeks, the protagonist version of Kramer himself, offers a fascinating look at the best and worst of what critics and fans have used to depict Kramer himself.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chrissie Hynde, Deborah Harry and Me

As an author of fiction that always involves gay men, I may have given women short shrift in my ongoing learning process of writing. But women have held a strong role in my life, and the women in my fiction hopefully will continue to hold a strong place in my novels. 

Also, being in the romance genre for my pair of novels Every Time I Think of You and Message of Love, I'm happy to see that two women rock stars are being equally productive at the same time.
Chrissie Hynde

The title of my new novel, is of course based on the 1981 song by The Pretenders. Penned by Chrissie Hynde, the music and lyrics offer a hopeful and positive feeling and a kicky beat. Hynde, a former resident of Akron, Ohio, had to leave the U.S. to find success in the United Kingdom. About a decade before me, Hynde attended Kent State University. Considering the numerous band member deaths and break-ups, it's no small irony of that I used a Pretenders song title for a story about love and trust between two young men.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Bookstore's End: How 'Evil' Are You?

Giovanni's Room, the oldest U.S. LGBT bookstore in America, if not the world, will soon close. And it's our fault.

Giovanni's Room in June 2012
Think about it. We buy books on I self-published my last two books with them. It proved to be the easiest and most profitable format for self-publishing authors like myself. Expanding our culpability, we use the arrogant Google, whose motto has quite obviously re-punctuated from "Don't be evil," to "Don't. Be evil!" Google the term "Google buses" to catch up on this ongoing San Francisco controversy. Feel guilty? Use instead (even though it pales in comparison).

Our smart phones and Apple computers are manufactured by near-slaves in China who will die from the toxins made with these products. I wrote all my novels on Apple computers. I am right now blogging on a Google platform.

We're evil by association. And the last great American gay bookstore is our latest sacrifice.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Arbor and Ardor: Growing Attraction

Having not celebrated the annual Arbor Day this year, I felt I should at least share a mention of it in my new novel Message of Love. Considering that the companion novel, Every Time I Think of You, starts off with an arborous and amorous encounter between the narrator Reid and his boyfriend-to-be Everett, trees not only take on a symbolic aspect, but an oft-repeated literal role in both books.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Action Figures

Sometimes, a version of an author's fictional characters can manifest into his or her real life, which is why I'm glad I don't write about zombies.

Since I started writing about aspects of disability, people who deal with various challenges have become friends and colleagues, and I've become a fan of their art.
Belo Cipriani at El Rio

As with my previous novel, I'd like to mention the terrific writers who blurbed my book, but who also did more. What's interesting is how the people who helped me write my last two books have stepped outside their comfort zones to push their boundaries.

Belo Cipriani is not only an author and educator. He's also a representative for Guide Dogs for the Blind. And he likes to entertain fans at readings.

Here's Belo at a Literary Death Match event a while back:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Points of Inspiration

Back in 2009, I hadn't even thought of writing a pair of novels about two young guys in the early 1980s, one of whom becomes a paraplegic. In fact, I'd seen performances by people who would later become quite inspirational.

Amy Purdy on Dancing With the Stars
The term "inspirational" is a touchy subject for disabled people. That's because for able-bodied people to rarify disabled folks as a form of Hallmark Card-Lassie "overcoming obstacles" hero is diminishing and, well, kind of stupid.

Certainly anyone who accomplishes something extraordinary is an inspiration for those of us who may not, say, ski down a mountain or perform on Dancing With the Stars.

But this isn't about Amy Purdy, the double amputee snowboard athlete and contestant on the show, even though she is fabulous.

Purdy's performances offer some interesting entertaining visibility, but within the Hollywood beauty standards one would expect from such a TV show.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Message of Love: Play Along

If you haven't already watched and listened to Dudley Saunders' wonderful acoustic adaptation of The Pretenders' "Message of Love," which inspired the title of my new novel, please do so. 

And once again, I've created a fun and historic playlist of songs mentioned in the novel, in sequence. But I also found some informative and slightly disturbing TV clips from the era, dealing with the encroaching crisis that the gay community faced in the early 1980s. 

I'll be posting book excerpts and music videos, as I did for Every Time I Think of You and PINS.

One of my favorite songs from the era of Message of Love's setting is actually 'heard' in the book later on. But I used a few lyrics as the epigram in the book, so it sorta gets re-placed up front. 

Here's Blondie performing "Accidents Never Happen." When I last saw them last year on a double bill with Devo, sadly they didn't play it! 

Anyway, here are the lyrics I used. When you read the novel, you'll understand the reference.

"Like the magi on the hill,
I can divinate your presence from afar.
And I'll follow you until
I can bring you to a perfect world."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Message of Love, the sequel to Every Time I Think of You


Message of Love, the sequel to the Lambda Literary award-winning novel Every Time I Think of You, is finally published, in paperback and Kindle editions.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stop Senate Bill 401

No clever puns for this title, because the latest bit of rightwing stupidity isn't even worth joking about; it's about outright government censorship.  As reported by Under the Dome Today, Senate Bill 401 would enforce broad and ridiculous censorship to school arts education.

I've had the honor of my first novel, PINS being added to reading lists of more than a dozen college classes at universities across the U.S. including my BFA alma mater, Ohio State University. While my books may not be "appropriate" for high school classes, I would be astonished if anyone actively sought out to censor my works and keep them from potential readers. This is just another case of the 'American Taliban' wielding its unlawful interference on government.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sochi: Worst/Best Olympics. Ever.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are proving to be the worst Olympics ever, because of its massive corruption, glaring incompetence and sanctioned antigay bigotry, but that also makes it the best Olympics ever, because Vladimir Putin's corruption, bigotry and idiocy are being exposed to the entire world for ten inglorious days and nights.

Here's a lesson for all the crypto-fascist government set on crushing LGBT people. enact antigay laws, and the whole world will watch you make a complete ass out of yourself. Tell a gay to "just shut up," beat us, pummel us, outlaw us, and you will live to regret it.

Let's take a look, a long parade of athletic responses, and media coverage of, the inept, stupid, and financially preposterous joke that is the Sochi Olympics.

During the Opening Ceremonies, the fifth of five rings failed to light up, proving symbolically, and technically, that Sochi's  ineptitude is blatantly obvious. you wouldn't know that from watching Russian TV, where the failure was digitized into a CGI lie.

Fascist Russian censors have also blocked access to the largest search engine on the planet, after Google posted a rainbow banner of athletes on its main page.

During the Parade of Athletes, the Greek team offered a five-fingered "F. You, Putin" with rainbow-colored gloves. They openly defied fascist Putin's edict against perceived "gay propaganda." this is becoming the best Olympics ever, because homophobia is being exposed for what it is; stupid.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jerry Smith: gay football player featured in NFL film

Jerry Smith was an All-Pro NFL football player for the Washington Redskins. His anonymous coming as gay led to teammate David Kopay's public coming out, which led to the eventual reality that hundreds of professional athletes are gay, lesbian, bisexual and even transgendered. Smith was a pioneer who didn't even want to be one.

The NFL has produced a series of short documentary segments about Smith's life and legacy as part of their 'A Football Life' series.

A friend posted a link to an article I wrote about Jerry Smith a decade ago. I also included two of his playing cards in Sporting Life, the exhibit I guest-curated for the San Francisco GLBT Historical Society in 2005. Poet and pal Alex Gildzen contextualizes it in his eloquent blog entry.