Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tree Time: Limbs and Loving for the Holidays

Delancey tree lot in SF
Delancey Street, the multi-state nonprofit known for Christmas tree sales, set up one of their lots near my home over Thanksgiving weekend, and naturally, I got nostalgic for big tree holidays with my family. 

I only recently found out the extent of goodwill Delancey does for housing, rehabilitation and other social services, and that it's located in several states, not just a few empty lots in San Francisco.

But I also remembered the funny chapters from my fifth novel Message of Love, where Reid gripes about the massive consumption and subsequent destruction of evergreen and spruce trees.

I no longer buy a tree, in fact, like Reid, my fictional alter ego, I refrain from purchasing trees, but do splurge on a small wreath for my apartment door.

Delancey tree lot near Market St. Safeway, SF
Seeing one of many "Charlie Brown" tiny trees does make me nostalgic for the small apartment trees I bought years ago. It also reminds me of the tiny evergreen sprout that becomes an important and metaphoric part of the growing love between Reid and Everett, the main characters in my fourth novel, Every Time I Think of You.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Giving Thanks, a bit early

I have to be thankful, not for food or health of any of that, but for, after all these years, after trying numerous careers and jobs, finally being a full-time writer. That's not something most people who aspire to it get to do.

And it's been almost a month since I blogged anything because frankly, I was busy writing. Sure, fun features at work, emails, Facebook posts, and birthday cards; okay, I watched some movies. But you know, I just cancelled my Netflix as an impetus to watch fewer movies and write more. Also, Netflix sucks. And Hulu sucks. And even the (alleged) online TV show sites I (may or may not) visit that have cable shows...well, they suck sometimes, too. So it's on to the writing.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Query Books - Kickstarting a New Small Press

Check out my one-minute stop-motion love letter to LGBT literature made to help Query Books' Kickstarter campaign! They'll be republishing out-of-print books by renowned authors.
Query Books, started by Ken White, a book industry professional and former manager at San Francisco's Books Inc. in the Castro, has revealed his plans to start a small press focusing on out-of-print books by notable gay authors.

Query Books-Jim Provenzano from Ken White on Vimeo.

Among the rewards for supporters are print and ebook editions of their first project, James Broughton's Coming Unbuttoned

It was great fun sorting through my current book collection, and spending an afternoon taking pictures for this little clip. The first draft was about six minutes long, so I just edited and sped up a few sections. 

While I am an obsessive book collector, specifically of LGBT literature and nonfiction, over the years I've given away so many more books that weren't in my home when I shot this. But still, I hope it entertains and inspires.

Donate what you can, and support queer lit!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Looking Good: Beauty Standards & Disability

Who deserves to be visualized in media when discussing disability? It's well known that attractive people are treated better by others.  And when you think of the term 'model,' you think of beautiful men and women. 

While contemplating the visuals for my last two novels, I spent days searching stock image licensing companies to find imagery that would represent the two main characters in both Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love.

And I failed.

I failed because I didn't settle for what was available, because the images for rent did not include young men who resemble the main characters, in particular, Everett Forrester.  Stock images of wheelchair users, are kind of stupid, as this snarky yet accurate AutoStraddle listicle shows.

British trainer Jack Ayers
Most stock image companies portray disabled people -specifically wheelchair users- as either frail, in a hospital, alone, or conversely, as super athletic.

An exception is PhotoAbility, which has a more diverse array of images, but none of their images include two men together that could even slightly be implied as gay.

Also, as I've written before, I did not want to specifically 'brand' the books as disabled-inclusive, or specific. I never shied away from mentioning it as part of the story. I simply thought that the nature field guide look of the two covers was more metaphoric, while referencing an actual part of the story, Reid's love and study of nature.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Past Deadlines: Journalism and/or Fiction

Mark Segal, Jim Provenzano at NLGJA 2015
Don't quit your day job, the general advice goes for aspiring authors. And I've mostly taken that to heart. Because I've found that having regular deadlines for work writing helps with personal deadlines for your book writing. But since I've been more than a month in finishing this blog post, I'll err on the side on inconsistency. I've been busy doing a lot more writing!

The back story: a month ago, I moderated a panel at the National Gay & Lesbian Journalists Association's LGBT Media Summit. the organization holds annual conferences, and celebrated 25 years over Labor Day Weekend. 

While my membership and attendance have been spotty (I mostly have attended when it was local, or nearby), I did attend the first convention, held in San Francisco. Those were different times, journalistically speaking. 

From the now antiquated technical issues of sending stories (floppy discs, faxes!) to the expansion, and now reduction of LGBT media, I was lucky enough to have a variety of freelance jobs, and an evolving job with the Bay Area Reporter since I moved to San Francisco 25 years ago.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Stonewall: Getting History Right, and Wrong

Used with permission of the Estate of Fred W. McDarrah, All rights reserved © 2015
Outside the Stonewall Inn, June 1969.
Used with permission of the Estate of
Fred W. McDarrah,
All rights reserved © 2015
The new film Stonewall has become the object of ridicule and preemptive boycotts over claims of misrepresentation of the pivotal riots in June 1969 that are credited with unleashing the civil rights movement for homosexuals. But that story in itself varies, and some harsh critiques have quickly become strident and shortsighted.

As an author and journalist who has balanced facts and fiction for nearly three decades, with a mostly gay focus, it's been fascinating, and distressing, to see this near sacred event turned upside down to fit differing agendas, all based on a two-minute trailer.

First, some facts. The Stonewall riots emerged when drag queens, gay men, some white, some Black, some Latino, and some simply self-proclaimed 'queens,' were harassed by New York City cops as yet another raid on the small gay bar in Sheridan Square faced more harassing intimidation. People refused to get into paddy wagons, and violent reactions ensued.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

ADA Anniversary; 25 years of progress, but still a long way to go

By setting my last two novels in the early 1980s, I gave myself an advantage (age-wise, I knew how to place the characters' similar life events) and a disadvantage (the Americans with Disabilities Act would be years to come, not enacted until July 26, 1990). But it's still worth noting what could –and might– happen to Everett, the paraplegic character in these books, in his years ahead.

Robert L. Burgdorf, Jr. wrote a lengthy article in The Washington Post about how he (and others) wrote the Americans with Disabilities Act and worked to get it passed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Weekend in the Country

It's no secret that my last two novels include a dendrophilic love of trees, particularly with Reid Conniff, the narrator. He and his beguiling love interest Everett share their affections under the branches of trees in several scenes.

I'm thinking also of the two young men's time as counselors at a disabled kids summer camp in rural Pennsylvania (I based it on a camp where there actually was a disabled kids summer camp).

A new study has proven the obvious, that living near trees is good for your health. Too often urban dwellers forget to re-energize with nature.

"The researchers were able to compare the beneficial effect of trees in a neighborhood to other well-known demographic factors that are related to improved health, such as age and wealth. Thus, they found that “having ten more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being seven years younger.”"

And President Obama just signed a bill designating a million acres of public land as protected from development.

According to the article, "Protecting our lands is about more than just protecting our great outdoors. These designations provide a boost to the local economies of surrounding communities by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs, building on an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Post-Pride pronouncements, pronouns, pro forma vinci.

Steve Grand at SF Pride 2015
What a weekend, and what a way to celebrate so many anniversaries, with our own equal rights for marriage opening nationwide.

The southern grumblings and gatekeepers of backwater cities and villainous governors where resistance still yowls, may quiver, but like the obstinate Dixie flag, it goes down yet again.

SF Pride in Civic Center

 Goodbye, old century, again.

Sky's the limit for Cheer SF
Kids; Pride was all about the kids, at least in Civic Center. Many joined marching contingents away from the crowds. 

Happily backstage - thanks, SF Pride, and to the caterers! - I got to say hi to artists I've interviewed, celebrities whose parties I danced at, and made a few new acquaintances.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Steve Grand: Musical man crush headlines SF Pride

Steve Grand: Musical man crush headlines SF Pride
by Jim Provenzano

Since his single and video "All-American Boy" broke through to become a viral hit, has become one of the newest and hottest independent out gay musicians. While his sexy modeling may have helped increase his popularity, the sincerity of his music's themes, and his affable performing style, have helped him continue to gain fans who know he's more than a handsome hunk.

Read more:

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lammies, Brooklyn and Broadway

My trip to New York City last week included surprising pastoral and cultural parts of Brooklyn, a fun bar hop, a brilliant Broadway show, a Philadelphia group reading, and culminated in the 27th annual Lambda Literary Awards.

My first day proved surprisingly botanical with a long stroll through scenic Prospect Park. I enjoyed Frederick Law Olmsted's other masterpiece, Central Park, on my last NYC visit in 2012.

Prospect Park is of course much smaller, but retains that balance of natural and tarted up landscaping. Open fields echoed with the joyful screeches of packs of school children at recess, and a lone reader under a huge elm (or oak?) proved the tranquility of the park.

Prospect Park serenity
I couldn't help but think about my fictional character Reid Conniff, who spends a good deal of Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love working in parks or studying plants. Thus the two book covers that sort of resemble field guides to plants.

Of course, my own modern curiosity about plants and trees could have been solved with a few apps, including Leaf Snap and Plant Net. The phone apps let you take a photo of a plant or tree leaf and it identifies the species.

Plants of all types were identified by small nameplates throughout the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, which are adjacent to the western edge of Prospect Park. This highly manicured park includes a rose garden, Japanese mini-lake and landscaping that's beautiful.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Message of Love: On the Road

Some upcoming events will be a lot of fun. I'll be doing a radio interview with Out in the Bay's Eric Jansen, a group reading in Philadelphia May 31, and I'll be attending the annual Lambda Literary Awards in New York City!

Out in the Bay recently celebrated its tenth anniversary at Oasis nightclub in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle covered the event, and writer Tony Bravo quoted me about the show's longevity. Photographer Carlos Avila Gonzalez even got a shot of me, cohost Marilyn Pittman, and fellow author Mark Abramson sharing a group selfie.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Message of Love: Bibliography

Since I've got a few great group readings with other authors coming up, the next one being in a library, I thought I'd share a list of the nonfiction books that were basically my homework while writing Message of Love, the sequel to Every Time I Think of You.

In the interest of variety, I'll link as many books as I can to Alibris, which features all my books, and is a nice alternative to Just don't buy the overpriced listed editions. I got most of these books used online, and had fun finding them.

Out & About
For scenery and setting, I enjoyed perusing several travel and nature books.

The Peterson Field Guides for Wildflowers (Roger Tory Peterson, Margaret McKenny, editors) and Eastern Trees (George A. Petrides, Janet Wehr, editors) gave me accurate information about the flora of the area. Living in California makes for a little distance from knowing which kinds of trees and plants Reid would work with in his classes, his job, and elsewhere. They're also the sort of books Reid would use a lot.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Message of Love: Spring Break, 1982; chapter excerpt

One of the great pleasures of writing a novel set decades ago is resurrecting long gone places. I decided to let the main characters in my latest novel, Message of Love, go on an impulsive Spring Break trip at about this time of year, back in 1982. 

While most of this novel is set in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, I thought, why not let the boys get away?

The gay beach scene in Fort Lauderdale was surprisingly active, and after some research through old gay travel guides and magazines, I found a few tantalizingly retro posts about a specific place, The Marlin Beach Hotel, written about by famous gay blogger Joe Jervis, on his site JoeMyGod.

Jervis' personal recollections are mixed in with some wonderful historic visuals, which also link to some other resources. 

The vacation is completely fictional for me, but serves as a shifting point in their lives, being in the company of many older gay men. While a crash course in gay life, for Reid and Everett, some other things - and one person in particular- prove to test their love and trust. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Message of Love, a Lambda Literary Award finalist!

Whoo-hoo! Message of Love is among the finalists for a Lambda Literary Award in this year's Gay Romance category! My boys Reid and Everett have a few new fans.

I look forward to reading the other books in this and many other categories. 

Now, to decide if I can make the time to go back to New York City for the awards ceremony on June 1. 

Here's the full list of Gay Romance finalists for 2015:

  • The Companion, Lloyd A. Meeker, Dreamspinner Press
  • Everything's Coming Up Roses: Four Tales of M/M Romance, Barry Lowe, Lydian Press
  • Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, Timothy Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, Cleis Press
  • Like They Always Been Free, Georgina Li, Queer Young Cowboys
  • Message of Love, Jim Provenzano, Myrmidude Press/CreateSpace
  • The Passion of Sergius & Bacchus, A Novel of Truth, David Reddish, DoorQ Publishing
  • Pulling Leather, L.C. Chase, Riptide Publishing
  • Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War, Jeff Mann, Bear Bones Books
The Companion, Lloyd A. Meeker, Dreamspinner Press Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Four Tales of M/M Romance, Barry Lowe, Lydian Press Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, Timothy Lambert and R.D. Cochrane, Cleis Press Like They Always Been Free, Georgina Li, Queer Young Cowboys Message of Love, Jim Provenzano, Myrmidude Press/CreateSpace The Passion of Sergius & Bacchus, A Novel of Truth, David Reddish, DoorQ Publishing Pulling Leather, L.C. Chase, Riptide Publishing Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War, Jeff Mann, Bear Bones Books - See more at:
In the meantime, all the category finalists  are listed on the Lambda Lit website, with handy direct links to most of the author pages or product links.

Get reading! Whoo-hoo! Enjoy the trailer, with an acoustic version of The Pretenders' song, by Dudley Saunders, plus the full playlist of related songs and clips, on

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Going the Distance: Ashland's Rhodes Twins' Coming Out

When reality coincides with my fiction in a good way, it's slightly amazing, like when a young cross country athlete comes out to his father. Such is the case with Reid Conniff, the narrator of my Lambda Literary Award-winning novel (I still love typing that) Every Time I Think of You

In reality, the popular Rhodes twins came out to their father in a very modern way, and of course became an internet sensation.

While I was aware of the twins as they came out online (their now-famous video has been viewed more than 15 million times), I wasn't aware of the connection beyond the fact that the two young men, like my fictional character Reid, who were cross country athletes in high school.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hot Dudes books?

It's been around for a while, but once some under-inspired blog-intern on Huffpost regurgitates it, it's viral: it's Hot Dudes Reading! Leave it to New Yorkers to turn something as basic as reading a book on a train into a "trend."

Some say it's a bit creepy to snag random pics of people in public. Some say it's cool. How retro! How analog to not be hunched over one's phone/toy/device!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rioty: the Language of Violence

My street, cordoned off by police cars and crime tape.
This was supposed to be a December post about the violence and protests in Oakland and San Francisco, the reactions to the violence in Ferguson, Missouri. But then it became about the murders in Paris at a magazine office. And now it's about four people shot dead around the corner from my home.

But let's go back to the Ferguson protests. You remember them. They were about the other senseless violence. I didn't feel comfortable reducing such a national movement with my own little perspective.
One of my Daily Kent Stater editorial cartoons, 1980

But then the Charlie Hebdo shootings happened in Paris. I thought, as a journalist, I had a connection.

But I didn't feel comfortable writing about that, other than posting some supportive million-forwarded meme jpg graphic or crowd shot from France. Because my situation as a much safer writer couldn't compare to the horrors in Paris.