Monday, May 21, 2012

Debut Novel by Rodney Ross - The Cool Part of His Pillow

As a newly-published author, the arena of self-promotion is new to me...and daunting. I labored for twenty-plus years in Advertising and Marketing, but the product was never me. It's also where, ironically, I did very little writing, my time spent mostly calming manic producers and diva directors. But that is another sordid story for another seedy day.
But Dreamspinner Press' publication of 'The Cool Part Of His Pillow' (TCPohP) fulfills a lifelong dream, and so I shall shamelessly flog, blog, gab, blab and don a sandwich board if need to get my novel into appreciative hands.
I was a creative and brooding child, always writing: little playlets that I would act all of the characters for into a tape recorder; grade school newsletter; then, the high school newspaper. It was within that 4-year chronology that I encountered the worst and best of public education. I had a hateful Journalism teacher who was more denture click and hip pop than willing to provide sound writing advice. She often criticized me for being "wordy". Too verbose, she death rattled, shaking a palsied claw at me, as I scribbled notes about what appeared to be her male pattern baldness. 
In that same high school, I was also fortunate enough to be mentored by an English teacher who plucked me from the soul-sucking classroom of conformity and placed me in independent study. I kept a journal, which I submitted once weekly, and was assigned literature -- everything from Joyce Carol Oates to Tennessee Williams to Judy Blume! -- to write essays on and critiques of. What a forward-thinking man that teacher was, in his jeans-and-no-tie-and-feathered-hair way, and I am still grateful he and his wife are part of my life. 
Yet, when I became the Creative Director at the Midwestern ad agency cited above, I needed outside sustenance. Boy, did I need it! In my off-hours, I wrote screenplays, and later a play. The challenge then, and now, is always sitting down and writing, while also being depressingly aware that the final polish is so, so distant. Writing is so damned isolated, and isolating.

I'd like to wax poetic and say that 'TCPohP' drifted gently into my twilight and, after a few copious note-taking sessions, assembled itself during the night with the help of speed-typing elves...but building believable, dimensional characters is hard work.  I have to incorporate humor. I'm not talking rimshot jokes nor Neil Simon-ish set-ups…when I began writing 'TCPohP', I intuited this could be either casseroles and snotrags and a lot of breast-beating, or I could mine from this horrendous tragedy a lot of macabre observation, and then spin off into the scatological, the blasphemous, the politically-incorrect.
If there's any counsel I'd offer an aspiring author, it's this: be a voracious reader...digest the words of others and inhabit worlds you may never otherwise visit. For me, it was ''The World According To Garp' by John Irving that opened my eyes to possibilities in literature that didn’t exist to me prior. I can only aspire to his enduring literary prowess. Oh: and always have a damn a notepad and pen (or a mini-cassette recorder) handy. Feel free to soar. Jump-cut to Paris, France...impale a beloved character on a picket fence...make cancer go into remission...I relish that ability because, let's face it, real-life does not offer this liberty. On a more workmanlike level, you have to STAY AT IT. Practice may not make perfect, but it develops muscle.
Of course I am working on a new novel in the midst of this shilling for 'TCPohP'.  It’s about bad luck, and good -- the paths chosen when fortune smiles on us, the desperate measures taken when it doesn’t. But, for now, I'm trying to savor the fresh publication, the warmth and friendship and support I’m getting in waves. I mean, fuck! I am a published wordsmith!
The mid-40's usually represent that time in a gay man’s life when the major paradigm shifts from sexy to sensible. 
But when Barry Grooms's partner of twenty years is killed on Barry's forty-fifth birthday, his world doesn’t so much evolve as it does explode.
After navigating through the surreal conveyor belt of friends and family, he can't eat another casserole or swallow much more advice, and so, still numb, he escapes to Key West, then New York. He becomes so spontaneous he's ready to combust. First, he gets a thankless new job working for a crazy lady in a poncho, then has too many drinks with a narcissistic Broadway actor. Next, it's a nude exercise class that redefines flop sweat, and from there he’s on to a relationship with a man twenty years his junior, so youthfully oblivious he thinks Karen Carpenter is a lesbian woodworker.
Yet no matter how great the retreat from the man he used to be, life's gravity spins Barry back to the town where he grew up for one more ironic twist that teaches him how to say goodbye with grace.

Rodney Ross

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

H.A. Caine Second Time Around

Second Time Around, was a joy write for me. There was no reasoning, no important event that inspired me to write it.

This short story more than anything else I've ever written is full of myself.

The bakery is the dream bakery I hope to one day open. And Jamie, well Jamie's Jamie. He's unique. But he's also me.
I wanted a light, fluffy, fun story and I decided Jamie was going to be it. His style is all me. From his hair to his shoes. His personality is all him.

I have a best friend like John and I used our bond as the basis for theirs. To me, friends are the most important thing in the world. You're born to your family. Your friends, you choose.

Matthew and Clark are like none other. There is an aspect of their relationship I would like to mention but it would give away a major part of the story. All I can say is that they remind me of my middle brothers. And that is where their connection to my reality ends.

All the minor characters are like skittles to me. None of them match, they all stand out and together they are so yummy!

In the future, I might extend this story and make it longer. Maybe give a few other characters their fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

Second Time Around is meant to bring a smile to your face. While I hope people get a few laughs, that's not the point of this story. It is shameless fluff!

Just the way I wanted it.

I hope you all enjoy it.


Jamie lives with his straight modeling best friend of three years, John. He’s finally achieved his life long dream of opening up his own bakery and John throws him a party. There he meets Matthew, co-owner of the Home Improvement shop across the street from his new bakery. They hit it off.

Only there’s one problem. Matthew is possibly straight and theres a 90% chance that he thinks Jamie is a woman!


"Who was that guy I saw you talking to? He looks a bit familiar." John's voice was casual but the quick glances out of the corner of his eyes were anything but.

Resisting the urge to laugh, Jamie looked back out the passenger side window.

"Matthew. Him and his brother run the Home Improvement store across the street. Didn't you invite him?"

"Oh, yeah. He seemed nice, but I could've sworn his name was Clark." John sounded confused.

"Maybe you mixed up their names?" Jamie provided helpfully.

"More than likely. We only talked for about a minute." Jamie caught the quick glance John tossed him and so he wasn't surprised by his next words. "Sooo... does he know you're a guy?"

Even expecting it, Jamie couldn't have stopped himself that time, even though he tried. He burst out laughing, slapping his palm repeatedly against his naked thigh.

He knew John was serious and, in all fairness, the question really was a legit one. Still, he couldn't help it.

"Stop laughing." John muttered, trying not to chuckle himself as Jamie continued to laugh, a tear squeezing out the corner of his eye.

Trying to breath deeply and get himself under control, Jamie giggled. "Sorry, sorry." he apologised when he could open his mouth without laughing.

John shook his head, the corner of his mouth tilting up in a small smile.

"So does he?"

He bit his lip. The more he thought about it, the more he was certain Matthew had no idea he was a guy.

Which meant the man was straight. And he'd only flirted with Jamie because he'd thought he was a girl.


He heard a sigh beside him. "He doesn't know, does he?"

Jamie shook his head in the negative. "I don't think so."


Slumping down in his seat and crossing his arms over his chest, Jamie let his head thump against the window pane, deciding that was exactly what he felt like.

Author Bio

H. A. Caine lives in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. She has hopes of becoming a great writer and one day opening her own bakery. She even has the name and layout already decided. Among other writing projects she's working on her very own first series, Boys in Love. The first book, Letting Go, will be available later this year.

Author Links
Twitter: @H_ACaine
Smashwords Author Page:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Find Your Magic By Poppy Dennison

One of the important themes in Mind Magic, my debut novel, is finding your place in the world. So many times, we’re caught up in daily life and don’t take time to “smell the roses”. But it’s more than that. It’s that little thing I like to think of as Magic.

In my life, I find my Magic in so many different areas. Family, friends, reading a good book, and these days, writing in particular helps me find that magical place that we should all be seeking.

Simon, one of the main characters in Mind Magic, thinks he has it all together. As an apprentice mage, he’s isolated from the world. His training is intensive and filled with rules. But when his Mind Magic alerts him to werewolf cubs in danger, he throws aside the rules and rescues them.

It’s funny how sometimes breaking the rules is exactly what you need to do. Simon finds a home among the pack, something he never knew he was missing. I’ve found a home in the writing world, a creative outlet I didn’t know I needed.

When you take a look around, you’ll find something that you can do to make some magic of your own.  So, tell me, where do you find your magic?


Magical species must never mix. According to the rules, Simon Osborne should ignore the children’s cries for help. After all, they’re werewolf cubs, and he’s an apprentice mage. But for once in his life, Simon breaks the rules and rescues the cubs, saving them from a demon intent on draining them of their magic.

Of course, all actions have consequences, and Simon’s bold move earns him the displeasure of his peers and the attention of the cubs’ alpha, a man named Gray Townsend.

The last thing Gray needs is a mage in his life, but Simon did save his son. Since Simon is now a friend of the pack, Gray doesn’t have much choice about it—or the forbidden attraction that goes along with it. Unfortunately for the alpha, he needs Simon’s help to track down the demon behind the kidnappings—before it strikes again. Simon and Gray must join forces to protect the pack, even as they struggle to resist the temptation that threatens to destroy them both.

Available now from Dreamspinner Press.

A sassy southern lady, Poppy Dennison developed an obsession with things that go bump in the night in her early years after a barn door flew off its hinges and nearly squashed her. Convinced it was a ghost trying to get her attention, she started looking for other strange and mysterious happenings around her. Not satisfied with what she found, Poppy has traveled to Greece, Malaysia and England to find inspiration for the burly bears and silver foxes that melt her butter. Her love of paranormal continues to flourish nearly thirty years later, and she writes steamy love stories about the very things that used to keep her up all night. If her childhood ghost is lucky, maybe one day she’ll give him his own happily ever after.

Visit her on her web site:,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Heart of the Jungle - Jeremy Pack

The Story Behind The Heart of the Jungle

Cleaning the attic. Ugh.

I am a gay man. I am a gay parent. My attic is like Hoarders meets Antiques Roadshow meets The Island of Misfit Toys. You have to use your hip and a wide stance to muscle the door open. The previous ten years’ Christmas d├ęcor strains beneath the herculean crush of everything you never needed for child rearing. 

Where to begin?

My eye was drawn to a lonely banker’s box shrinking in terror in a corner. Somehow, this little guy had been spared the grim fate of its contemporaries. Curious, I clambered over the skeletal remains of my daughter’s recently discarded crib and pulled off the dusty lid. Within were carefully bound piles of yellowing paper. Hmm. Musings and utter nonsense from my idealistic youth—these reams of paper were forgotten shores that I’d long ago abandoned in search of more practical horizons.

The title page of the topmost stack drew at me like a siren’s song. “The Heart of the Jungle”
I vaguely recalled the plot, but it was akin to conjuring the details of a fever dream. Unable to resist the call—particularly in light of the alternative (actually cleaning the attic)—I sat cross-legged on the floor, took up the manuscript, and slipped off the time-hardened rubber band.

“Fate was one twisted bitch, and for some reason, on the night of October fifth, Christian James found himself at the tip-top of her shitlist....” For the next hour, I was held spellbound by this quirky, poorly punctuated text I’d written many years before. I wasn’t enthralled because of the story’s proficiency, but because of its prophecy.

My main character Chris had just lost his two-year-old daughter and partner to an apparent homicide. He’d made a soul-mate connection with a private investigator named Jason Kingsley—a tall, exceptionally handsome fellow with mysterious hazel eyes, a confident demeanor, and a tormented past. (Uncannily like my Jason.) The coincidences grew: From love at first sight, which I’ve since learned doesexist just as I’d described it, to Chris’s uncanny description of the first time he held his daughter—a veritable word-for-word account of how the experience played out for me years later. From the domineering former partner to the anxiety of a courtship happening under less-than-ideal circumstances.... On and on and on.

I could have chosen any of those half-completed manuscripts to take my first, tentative steps into the world of M/M fiction, but “The Heart of the Jungle” spoke to my soul. The novel is fiction—but it’s peppered with truths that I seem to have whispered across time to the Jeremy of the past. It may not be Pulitzer-worthy, but I sure hope it’s entertaining. At least now that you know the “story behind the story,” you can have fun guessing at the bits that actually came true. (Wink.)

My thanks to you for joining me, and to Jadette for giving me the space to share!

Also: The attic is still a catastrophe.

Blurb: The Heart of the Jungle

Chris James is Fate’s favorite plaything. When She took his parents in a car crash, Chris narrowly escaped the grief with his life, and he has the scars on his wrists to prove it. Seven years later, just as his life is finally turning around, Fate smashes his universe once again, taking his partner and two-year-old daughter and leaving behind a bloodbath.

After nearly a year of investigation, with no bodies, no motive, and no clues, the police are giving up. Enter Jason Kingsley, a wickedly handsome private investigator with a troubled past and a disconnected puzzle piece he could never find a place for. Jason has his work cut out for him: his search leads down a road that was never meant to be traveled, where a ruthless and hidden enemy lurks and dark secrets await. With passion drawing them together and sinister forces threatening to tear them apart, Chris and Jason race against time to unravel the mystery and get to the shocking truth that lies behind it all: The Heart of the Jungle.

Excerpt: The Heart of the Jungle

CALLAHAN’S wet lips brought to mind a pair of writhing slugs as they worked over the slimy stub of an unlit cigar. It was a feat of mouth dexterity that the ferociously ugly man’s speech was unaffected.

“Here’s where we’re at.” He splayed the papers in the manila file out as though examining them. “Ten months ago, we get a call from a concerned neighbor. He’s seen some suspicious activity and thinks someone should take a look. A patrol arrives and finds the front door wide open. Inside, it’s a slaughterhouse. There are no bodies but enough blood to virtually guarantee whoever bled it didn’t walk away. With me so far?”

Chris was white and trembling. His stomach lurched as the cloying stench of slobbered tobacco slapped him in the face for the tenth time. Callahan’s barely restrained grin indicated he was enjoying Chris’s discomfort.
Even George MacQuery, the very picture of human composure, seemed unsettled by the recitation.

“Good. Now, in the intervening months, we’ve worked this thing up, down, and sideways. Forensic analysis of the blood at the crime scene positively identified it as belonging to Michael Blake. Minor spatter on the walls was ID’d as the girl’s. Seems like we’ve got a pair of homicides, but we’ve still got no bodies. We’ve got no murder weapon, no stray prints, no suspects, no motive… no nothing.”

George took a deep breath. “Get on with it. You’re suspending investigation. You're closing the case.”

Purchase Link on Dreamspinner Press:

Jeremy's Website & Blog:

Goodreads Author Page: