Hunting Bear (an excerpt)

August 19th, 2014

Hey friends,

Enjoy the beginning of my latest published story in the Dreamspinner anthology, A Taste of Honey. I’m very excited about this story. It’s only a 17K short story, but it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written.


Hunting Bear

Chapter 1: Pitter Patter

Gather round to hear the tale of a twink who dared enter the urban forest, a young buck named Tyler who trusted his best pal Derrick to be his bear guide, leading Tyler to his one and only hairy love. Tyler and Derrick themselves had tussled once, their own night in the forest, sweating and fucking and grinding together, whimpering and grunting, and together they rained upon the forest and each other a splattering of goopy mess, and then reveled in happy exhaustion.

But it was only one night in the forest.

Who knows why?

Who ever knows?

Their chance for love turned into friendship, and it is a hard magic that can transform a friendship back into love. With Derrick’s assistance, Tyler the Twink (though he disliked that name) crossed the forest, light of step, hunting for bears, looking for love. But he did not seek out all bears.

One bear specifically.

The Great White Bear, though the man was not technically white, but that’s what they called him throughout this Midwestern kingdom, a flavor named Chicago.

And in this kingdom the gays were plentiful, supple and succulent, beefy-strong men who had grown winter hair on their chests, then burned dark in the summer sun. In this kingdom, oft called the city of broad shoulders, its residents also enjoyed the “comes-with-the-broad-shoulders” features. In other words, it was also a city of fat muscles, engorged biceps, and thick waists. Some of them enjoyed a black treasure trail leading from navel to below, wispy black smoke promising fire destined for ignition. The tree-trunk thighs, chunky butts wrapped in ass-grabbing jeans or maybe wrapped in lazy sweats on a Saturday morning in Boystown. These were the blond farm boys come from Illinois’ hamlets. The dark-haired jocks, sweating on their way home from the gym. Balding muscle daddies with a beer belly. Bronze-skinned men standing tall, pumping gas, guzzling beer, holding hands. Men of many colors, thicknesses, and laughs, this kingdom was ripe with these men, strong and big-jawed, a city of bears, otters, and many more forest creatures besides.

Tyler the Twink (who honestly quite resented that name) discussed his quest while dropping off his dogs.

“It’s Bear Coffee,” Tyler said. “Every Thursday night the bears take over a coffee shop on Broadway. I’m hoping he comes tonight. He has to. I don’t have any other leads. I don’t even know his name.”

Looking down at the dogs, Derrick said, “I don’t remember if they’re supposed to get a half cup or cup. Why didn’t you feed them at home?”

“I was out of puppy chow. I picked some up on the way over. Don’t worry, I wrote it down. Everything. The emergency vet and stuff like that.”

“Wouldn’t I just call you?”

“Sure, but after you call the emergency vet. If it’s an emergency. Just don’t let them eat plastic off your floor and there won’t be an emergency. No chocolate.”

Derrick said, “Duh.”

Derrick and Tyler had recently crossed a threshold in their friendship, the “will-you-watch-my-dogs” level, which, as you well know, is something. It is not “airport-pickup-at-2:00-a.m.” friendship, but Tyler trusted his beloved pups to no other human being, even for a few hours. Derrick and Tyler’s fling had been eight months earlier, from which had sprung a tentative friendship, then a more solid friendship, evolving to the point where either could call to announce “I’m not having a great day.”

On those days where the kingdom had worn them down, they listened to each other and counseled as best they could. Tyler’s advice was often “You’re smart. You can handle this and anything they throw at you.” Derrick’s advice ran along the lines of “You’re strong, Tyler. Drink some water. Eat an orange. Maybe a good night’s sleep.” In fairness to this tale, sleep was Derrick’s answer to everything, to stress, to credit card bills, to unrequited desire and occasionally even being tired.

The dog-threshold crossing had literally occurred three minutes earlier when Pitter and Patter, Tyler’s miniature pugs who had tentatively crossed over Derrick’s kitchen doorway, sniffed their way cautiously into Derrick’s second floor apartment. And when Derrick saw their confused hesitation, how long it took for them to actually get inside, and then their accidental skittering across the kitchen linoleum, Derrick’s last bit of dog-sitting-resistance melted. In fact, he found himself surprisingly anxious for Tyler to leave because he wanted to watch pug antics as they explored his home.

Truly this was a surprise, because Derrick rarely wanted Tyler to leave.

“Luck and cranberries,” Tyler said.

The phrase is not worth explaining, gentle reader, just an affectionate good-bye based on a four-month-old joke. You have those intimacies with friends. You know how it goes.

“Good luck,” Derrick said vaguely, his eyes following Pitter and Patter’s pitter and patter pawing around the kitchen, unsure in their step, occasionally bumping into cupboards. It was adorable.

“Wait,” Derrick said, looking up. “Where are you going? Meet who?”

“The guy. The guy I told you about on the phone.”

Derrick searched his memory and remembered he had heard a description earlier in the week, a raven-haired man of solid jaw with a tight buzz cut. A shock of black hair pointing straight up. Some slight gray on the sides, suggesting a man in his late 30’s or early 40s.

Derrick said, “I remember. You saw him near the new Starbucks downtown somewhere.”

“Yeah, the construction site in the Loop,” Tyler said, already lost in numerous fantasies. “I don’t know his name. But he was saying good-bye to his work buddies on the site as I approached, and then I walked behind him for a block and a half until he stopped into that piano bar, the Zebra Lounge.”

“Your puppies are gnawing a kitchen-table chair,” Derrick said, falling in love. “Do they really think they can eat a chair?”

Tyler was used to men falling in love with his puppies, so he ignored his pal. He said, “I had intended to shop for new work shoes, but instead I ducked into the bar because I desperately wanted to see the construction guy kiss another man. Or maybe he didn’t know it was a gay piano bar? He drank two beers and left. He tipped the piano player. The whole place even got campy once or twice and he sat there grinning. So, he knew. He’s definitely gay.”

“Could be a straight guy who likes piano music.”

“But he talked to someone,” Tyler said. “Made two minutes of chitchat with this older guy, a bear with a bushy red beard. After the construction guy left I waited five minutes and then approached Red Beard and asked if I had seen him and his buddy together somewhere, leaving it vague and open, and he said that he barely knew the construction guy who just left. Someone—”

Derrick picked up the thread. “—someone he occasionally saw at Bear Coffee. Right. I remember this now.”

“Yes, which is tonight,” Tyler checked his watch. “Bear Coffee starts in thirty minutes. I’ve decided he’s going to show up. He has to. I think I’m in love.”

Derrick said, “Good. It’ll only take you twenty minutes to get there from here. Come in here and talk to me about your dogs so I don’t fuck this up. Tell me how to get them to stop fighting or chewing and stuff like that.”

Tyler stepped beyond the entryway and smelled his way through the kitchen. Derrick liked to bake things. Tyler liked to sample things. But there was no baking smell tonight, just the reassuring stack of pans and open cookbooks with scribbles in them, doodles, and phone numbers. The whole house felt like you could scribble a phone number anywhere, on a wall, in a magazine cover, which is not to say that Derrick’s home was grubby, but it had this comfortable and worn feeling to it, items in wrong rooms but not messy, just really, really comfy. Open paperback books facedown on the dining room table and Derrick’s reading glasses on top of a stereo speaker for no apparent reason. Tyler had once visited and found fresh tulips in the bath tub. When asked, Derrick insisted he was using the bathtub as a “big vase” and invented a ridiculous statistic instead of admitting he forgot why he put them there.

Derrick’s living room furniture was plush, two overstuffed navy couches specifically engineered for maximum nap-taking comfort, fat pillows and a wolf-fur throw rug so realistic you could imagine a naked wolf at the door demanding its return. But the wolf would be shit out of luck; the pelt was synthetic. Mechanical line drawings of bridges hung in sturdy brown frames on the patterned-wallpapered walls, boring illustrations only an engineer could love.

The pups eyed the navy couch and each other, growing their resolve to scale the front, to reach that naptastic summit they intuitively knew peaked far above them. This couch was their Mount Everest.

Tyler said, “Don’t let them on your furniture. You’ll never get them off.”

He snapped his fingers at Pitter, then Patter, and they ceased their scheming though anyone could tell they resented the master’s interference. In defeat, they padded the Berber carpet, a masculine tweed that looked like a browned cookie warm from the oven but—as the pups discovered—did not taste like one.

Derrick collapsed on the couch, lying on his stomach, and asked questions about the dogs, dragging his hand along the floor so the pups could race up, smell him, lick his salty skin, and run away. Tyler never tired of chatting about them so he stayed longer than intended, trapped by the comfort, the ease of Derrick’s home until he checked his phone and realized he would be late.

He hopped up and said, “Oh.”

Derrick did not move from the couch. “You’re fine. You don’t want to be the first to show up anyway.”

Tyler said, “How do I look?”

Derrick said, “You look good.”

“Duh. I always look good. But do I look great?”

Derrick raised himself on one arm and studied Tyler head to toe. He liked Tyler’s short copper-colored hair, more brown than red, the natural curl that followed the shape of his ear. He liked Tyler’s eager blue eyes, their surprise at so many things and how often they expressed natural curiosity. He liked the big Adam’s apple, a flaw in Tyler’s beauty but Derrick liked it anyway, along with his lithe body and his faded salmon T-shirt tucked into jeans, jeans that were probably named by someone famous.

Derrick spoke with an inflection that did not register with Tyler. “You look great.”

Tyler nodded, satisfied. Derrick would tell him if a hair was out of place. They were buddies.

Derrick said, “Thirty-seven percent of all kitchen accidents happen in coffee houses. Be careful.”

Tyler said, “That one didn’t even make sense.”

Derrick said, “They can’t all be winners.”

Tyler said, “Thanks for watching the boys. C’mere, you hooligans, and give Dad a kiss good-bye.”

They trotted to Tyler.

Derrick said, “Bring me back a cookie or a blond brownie or something.”

Tyler said, “Not doing that. Why don’t you bake something?”

Tyler stood and touched his pockets to make sure he had his phone, keys, and money clip. A wallet could make your ass look chunky, and tonight was too important for Tyler to look less than his best. He dropped and kissed his pugs good-bye. Again. He thanked Derrick and started to promise he would return at a decent hour, but if his fantasy man wanted to grab a beer after Bear Coffee, wouldn’t he go?

As Tyler crossed the apartment toward the front door, Derrick spoke from the couch. “Seriously, bring me a cookie. The desserts cookbook I like has small print and I can’t find my reading glasses.”

Over his shoulder, Tyler said, “Your glasses are on the stereo speaker. The one behind the big plant.”

“Thank you,” Derrick yelled lazily, but Tyler had already exited the back door. Derrick didn’t bother to retrieve his glasses. He could feel the dogs licking the palm of his hand as they plotted how to use his dangling arm as a ladder to the pleasures of napping above.

Derrick said, “Okay boys, eighty-one percent of all cute pugs are trained to walk toward the door when they have to take a dump. Yes? Please tell me the stats are that high or higher.”

Pitter and Patter licked their lips.





Should you feel inspired to read more, check out A Taste of Honey (amazon.com link) or A Taste of Honey (Dreamspinner link). On Dreamspinner’s website, you can also purchase a paperback copy.

Dear Penthouse,

December 10th, 2013

To celebrate my new book, I Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That (Kindle version here), I decided to showcase a few of the blog entries you’ll find in this book.

I hope you enjoy my stroll down memory lane.


Dear Penthouse,

As a chubby teen, I was introduced to your letter column through a high school friend’s sleepover. He titillated our boys club by showing us his father’s stash. We poured over them. The other boys were mesmerized by all the pictures of women spreading their legs.

I was mesmerized by the naughty cartoons and also the letters written by men who experienced surprising seductions. I loved those masculine, sexy letters. I ignored the photos and devoured how the men felt, the raw pleasure of seduction and getting sex delivered so easily, like pizza. Well, sometimes literally through a pizza delivery woman. Later, as the other boys moved to another room to play Atari video games, I remained behind, reading your letters, studying them. So I know exactly how to begin.

Dear Penthouse, this kind of situation doesn’t ever happen to me. (I nailed it, right?) I’m not the guy who gets hit on at parties. I’m the guy you ask, “Dude, where’s the beer?” Hot neighbors don’t wash their Corvettes in tight jeans cutoffs for me and I’ve never had a voluptuous male tutor make sexy double entendres while I was labored over Italian vocabulary. Mostly my tutors spent their energy suppressing frustration because my brain refused verb conjugation.

Penthouse letters are traditionally crammed full of clichés, so allow me to say you could have knocked me over with a feather when my own Penthouse experience showed up at my front door one weeknight after 10 p.m. The pounding roused me from writing in my den, which was the first irritation and as I crossed to the front of the house, I couldn’t help but complain. My porch light and living room lights were already off. Who ignores those obvious signs?

Grumble, grumble.

The pounding resumed a second time, already impatient with me.

I was not amused.

I peered through glass planes like the crabby ass I felt myself to be and was surprised to see Mike. He was one of three twenty-somethings renting the house next door. His two housemates, both women, were bubbly and friendly to me, contrasting his surliness. Maybe they were compensating. I knew he was a homo the day I met him. Shaking hands, he looked at me and his entire face wrinkled into mild disgust, as if to communicate, Ugh. Bear.

Mike dressed casually but with great attention to detail and he affected a beard which looked scraggly on him in his post-twink era. His hair bristled with chemical product and always remained sculpted to look as if it were not. The modern word best describing Mike is hipster but back in the mid-2000s, we had not yet dreamt up that new-fangled vernacular to define someone who tries hard to make you believe he doesn’t care about his appearance. Mike himself would boast he was a hipster before it was cool.

His cheerful housemates and I would sometimes gab if we came home at the same time, twelve-sentence conversations as we lugged our gym bags and groceries to our front doors. Mike never said more than hello and sometimes only shot me a grim nod if he could not avoid eye contact. No problem. Not everybody has to be chat buddies in the front yard but since he had never come to my home in the two years living next door, I was mighty alarmed to find him standing on my front porch.

When I opened the door, he said, “You know, we’ve never really gotten to know each other as neighbors.”

I said, “No, I guess not.”

For him, that must have translated into, Well then, come the fuck in, because that’s what he did, sailing across the threshold and squeezing past me, clearly propelled forward by the thick alcohol cloud surrounding him. I thought I might get wasted by proxy.

He dropped on my living room couch, the big one, and I sat across from him, a three-by-four-foot oak coffee table between us. I briefly wondered if this could be a booty call but that seemed absurd as he made it a habit to scowl at me. He had probably locked himself out and needed to waste a half hour before a housemate came home. If he had just glared at me and said, “Look, I’m locked out. Can I crash here until my roommate gets home?” that would have been fine. In fact, I would have preferred the honesty.

Mike asked, “Got anything to drink?”

I tried to hide my annoyance when I said, “I’ll check.”

My kitchen was a disaster, dirty dishes everywhere and leftover carnage from dinner suggesting I’m not the kind of person who uses my hands to open packages and move things around. While I take pleasure in believing I’m a free spirit who doesn’t mind if my household is cluttered and dirty when friends spontaneously visit, sorry, I’m really not. I do not appreciate chicken gravy on most flat kitchen surfaces and scum-riddled plates piling up like a high-rise buffet for rats. In moments like this, I hear my mother’s voice say, “That’s why we make our bed every morning and do the dishes after each meal, because you never know who may drop by.”

I don’t think she anticipated booty calls, however.

Of course, Mike strolled into the mess right behind me and when he (deliberately?) brushed against me, I inhaled a full shot glass of whiskey breath or something of equivalent proof. He nodded at the vodka sitting on top of my fridge and noted it would serve fine. (I store my hard liquor on top the fridge. Mine is not the classiest house even when it’s clean.)

I grumbled while I found us clean glasses, wondering how long this stupid seduction would take. If it were that. I still wasn’t sure.

It sucks when you’re getting your Penthouse experience, the young neighbor almost twenty years your junior appearing suddenly for a booty call, and all you can think is God, I am turning into my mother.

When we returned to the Mission-style couches in my cozy Minneapolis bungalow, I sat where he was not so he moved and joined me on my couch. He sat very, very close and asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Yup. Booty call.

“Yes, I do,” I said right away. “It’s not an open relationship.”

He frowned. “Oh. I never see him.”

“We mostly sleep at his place.”

As I scooched a few inches away, keeping a more appropriate distance between us, I elaborated. The relationship was fairly new, that delicate stage where no one uttered the word monogamy, but wouldn’t it feel great if we both shared that shy desire? Wouldn’t the timing be nice? I told a sweet tale of my new boyfriend and our potential for being each other’s one true love.

None of it was true. I was very, very single and actually lacking in amorous adventures of late (which is a classy way of saying I was horny).

But when Mike switched couches and I felt the heat of his body as he dropped next to me, I had decided no way and instantly lies poured from my mouth regarding this newish romance while my brain screamed, “For God’s sake, don’t give him a fake name! You’ll never remember it.”

“Things are good right now between him and me,” I said, purring. “Who knows where it will go. You dating anyone?”

“No,” he said staring into my eyes, “Single.”

He moved his hand to massage the back of my neck.

This moment, my lie, was one of those questionable decisions a person makes in life. Why didn’t I go for it? We were both single, he was attractive, just sort of scornful and pretentious. I didn’t like him as a person but he wasn’t proposing six hours of conversation. Why did I invent this big lie? Why not just get laid, consequences be damned?

I removed his massaging hand and realized I truly didn’t want this, not with him. Maybe there comes a point in your life where respecting yourself finally overtakes the need for carnival sex. Maybe. I’m a big fan of carnival sex. I got my hand stamped so I can come back anytime. But I don’t spend my every waking moment wondering about who might be next or thinking about what we might try.

“I’d like to see your house,” he said, “see how it compares to ours.”

The rest of my house wasn’t much cleaner than the food-splattered kitchen, so he wasn’t winning any points with me by demanding to see every room in its natural state. But I wanted us off the romantic couch so I walked him room to room. When we headed through the kitchen toward the sun porch he embraced me from behind and kissed me on the neck.

I froze. Why the kitchen? Couldn’t he see the mess? The chicken gravy? I couldn’t possibly make out with all those dirty dishes mocking me from a foot away.

“I know you want me,” he whispered in sloppy dramatic seduction. “I see you watching me from your house. From your kitchen you can see right into my bedroom.”

I extracted myself and said, “Mike, I don’t even know which room is yours. I’ve never been in your house to know that.”

He pointed to his window and said, “That one. I know you watch me undress. I see you standing right here.”

I pondered this and said, “Huh.”

I had never watched him undress. I really didn’t know which room was his. But I knew why he would think I might have. Mike wasn’t entirely wrong. I did spend a lot of time in this spot, just not for the reason he suspected.

I decided to tell the truth. Another questionable decision.

“Thing is,” I said and I probably blushed a little, “we’re right in front of the refrigerator. I spend a lot of time at the fridge with the door open. Standing right here.”

That was humiliating.

It can be hard to tell your embarrassing truths, like why I spend so much time in front of the fridge debating meal options, or why I am single. Well-meaning friends frequently ask with loving concern why I’m still single, and while my defenses can offer a variety of reasons from “I’m not putting myself out there” to “I’m concentrating on my writing these days,” sometimes the truth is “I don’t know. I guess I don’t really know.”

He tried to kiss me again and I said, “No. No, Mike.”

Man, this Penthouse letter sucked.

We continued the house tour and now that it seemed apparent he wasn’t getting laid, he didn’t fake being impressed by each room. In the den he looked at my festive Christmas lights wrapping a house plant and said with disdain, “Oh. So tacky.”

After we concluded the downstairs, the only part of my house tour available to the visiting public, he strode past me in the dining room and asked, “What’s up here?”

He disappeared up the narrow staircase into my master bedroom.

I followed, not liking where this was headed symbolically or literally. I was sure my imaginary boyfriend would raise his eyebrow when I repeated this part of the story, doubting for a moment whether we were truly heading toward the monogamous thing after all. Thank God, I did not give the imaginary boyfriend a name. I’d never remember it.

I found what I expected to find, underwear and shirts on the floor, comic books strewn about, pomegranate-striped sheets rumpled at the foot of my bed, my pillows slammed and drooping against far walls as if my sleep violence ought to be studied in a lab.

There he was, lying on my unmade bed, flipping through a comic book.

And this is why we make our bed every morning.

The cupboard door to my secret stash of unread comics stood wide open and he had reached in, grabbed a random book. He wore his natural state of disdain on his face, flipping through the colored pages.

My blood hardened in its veins. You don’t fuck with a nerd’s comics, dude. Not cool.

“C’mon,” I said with forced good cheer, “I still haven’t shown you the basement.”

When my tour completed its run and I walked us to the front door, he resisted and flopped onto my living room couch again for one final attempt at seduction. He patted the seat next to him and I murmured, “My boyfriend.”

In a bored voice he asked me what I did for fun and I said, “I write.”

He said, “Me too. I’m a blogger.”

This became the only I’ll show you mine if you show me yours moment of the night, for we each whipped out our home pages on my laptop and ogled them, right there on the oak coffee table. As expected, he saw my homepage and said, “Yeah, that’s nice. Here’s mine.”

I never expected any real interest from him. I was a booty call.

“I’m new to blogging,” he confessed.

His blog had two entries on it, only two, and both began with rants against junk food manufacturers and their stupidity. His written attitude was a mixture of confidence-without-facts and everyone-is-stupid, so while he explained his theme for colors and layout, I grew more irritated with him and felt a resolve in myself to get rid of him within the next five minutes.

“I’m anorexic,” Mike said. “Well, recovering anorexic. Not many men get diagnosed with anorexia compared to women, so I felt my voice needed to be out there.”

I looked at his blog posts again and instead of seeing smug confidence I saw a defiant, wounded man still struggling to succeed. When you uncover a vulnerable dimension to a late-night booty call, it’s suddenly harder to think of him exclusively as a booze-guzzling jerk.

I listened to him describe his relationship with food and I told him he was brave, which he was, and he responded with a knowing smile to suggest, Yeah, I really am. Okay, I still didn’t like him. But I could appreciate before me I beheld a man on a journey, same as me.

Dear Penthouse, I sent Mike home a few minutes later after he suggested my imaginary boyfriend never had to know about this. Mike let me know we didn’t have to do everything, but maybe just some things. I made sure he crossed safely to his own front door and made a mental note to spend less time at the fridge. Jesus, what if he gave me a deliberate striptease while I was salivating over leftover lasagna?

The next morning after the Penthouse seduction, the UPS man asked if I could sign for an important package for my female next-door neighbors. Working from home as I did, my signing for neighbor packages was not unusual. I left a note taped to their front door to come over.

I considered he might be the one to come, but the odds were against it. Besides, it might be healing for both of us to acknowledge the previous night’s awkwardness, laugh about it, get it out there, and—crap. I couldn’t remember if I had assigned my imaginary boyfriend a name. I hoped not. I hope I had taken my own advice, but I don’t always listen to the voice inside me which says, “Not a good idea.”

Two hours later, I recognized Mike’s impatient pounding on the front door, like a British soldier checking American homes during the Revolutionary War.

I opened the screen door wide so he could enter and in a sheepish voice, I said, “Hi.”

He took the package from my hand and flashed me the familiar scorn: Ugh. Bear.

In a bored voice he said, “Thanks for signing for this.”

Mike turned and plopped down the front steps in a casual way. Obviously, last night’s rejection did not scar him.

That was it. That was the end of our rich, meaningful relationship. A year later, he moved away.

Dear Penthouse, nothing happened.

Okay, well, not technically true. The prior night, we made out for a minute by my front door as I was sending him home, but then I whispered, “I can’t. The boyfriend,” and kicked him out.

What? Don’t judge me.

I’m not made of stone and this was probably going to be my only Penthouse experience.

More Fun Vin Vanbly and King Mai Posts

October 13th, 2013

Hi there. Remember me?

*hangs head in shame*

Sorry about the long silence on my blog. I have some great stories to share and will get back to serious blogging in the next few weeks. I’ve been a little busy. I’m working on three books coming out within the next eight months or so (yes, THREE) and so I’ve spent all my time writing, writing, writing. I will have more details on the books as their entrance to reality draws near. Until they’re published, they’re merely figments of my imagination.

The most irritating part of ignoring the blog for two months is that I actually *have* been doing a spot of writing, blogging for others. So it’s not like I haven’t been blogging…just not blogging here. Below are nine (yes, NINE) guest blogs I’ve created in the past two months. I’m not sure why I’m screaming numbers at you right now. I guess I’m trying to impress you with their bigness.

Below are some of my guesty blogs:

1) On 2 Boys In Love, I wrote a piece regarding the power of young love, which I named (predictably enough) The Power of Young Love. I enjoy following Matty and Brad’s adventures and while they call themselves boys, they are in fact, men. They are young men in love and share the challenges of being young men in love. It’s a good blog and I was (get this) their very FIRST guest blogger, like, ever. Ever. Wow…how cool is that? I love these guys. The Power of Young Love

2) Interested to learn more about what Mr. Vin Vanbly has been doing with himself? I did a really fun character interview with Love Affair with an e-Reader. They offered me the chance to conduct an interview with my narrator, Vin Vanbly. Boy…that was odd. Vin Vanbly Interview

3) For the more musically inclined, I stopped by Mama Kitty’s and wrote about music that greatly influenced the writing of King Mai. I’m so glad someone asked about the music – music is always so important to me and I always listen to the same songs over and over trying to crack the scenes I’m about to write.

4) I wrote for the lovelies at Babes in Boyland a while back, tackling the question that sometimes comes up when people ask me about my books:  are these leading to a magic world with unicorns and spells, and possibly a flying game on broomsticks. Hmmmmm. Well, I discussed that in this guest post:  Is It Magic?

5) I have guest blogged for Thorny before and I was happy to do so again. He made a decision not to attend a Pride Parade and I was a little surprised about his decision. Not one to be shy for having an opinion about a topic that’s none of my business, I approached him and asked if I could blog on his site. He said, ‘sure!’ So I did. Thorny’s guest blog: Authentic Me

6) Now, I am not usually one to crawl into bed with a total stranger, but I did. Lee Brazil‘s interview style is awesome. She invites authors into her bed and asks them to paint her a picture: what we’re wearing, our late-night snacks, the books we’re reading. Quite fun. If you want to imagine Lee and I in bed together (and who doesn’t?), check out In Bed With Edmond Manning.

7) I get a lot of flack for King Mai and King Perry not really being true romances. Well, I think they are. I argue they are. I gently make my case here on Chicks&Dicks awesome website where I discuss:  Could This Be Love?

8) At Coffee and Porn in the Morning they asked me if I would ever go into space. Hells, no. Plus, having seen Gravity over the weekend, let me second that ‘hells no’ with HELLS, NO. But it’s a fun interview.  Interview on Coffee and Porn

9) Like your interviews short? Sid Love‘s hilarious approach is to ask for one-word answers (or incredibly brief answers to her twenty questions. A fast, fun read. 20 Questions with Edmond Manning


As you can see, I’ve been doing more than watching reruns of The Good Wife (though, um, yes, I did watch a number of those over the summer).

I hope to get back to blogging in a more regular pace once I come back from the awesome Gay Romance Literature (GayRom Lit or GRL) conference next week. In the meantime, a few of these guest blog posts ought to suffice.




Links to More Lost and Founds Backstory…

July 26th, 2013

During last week’s release of King Mai I had quite a bit of fun blogging about the book and back story. In fact, I shared some stories about the nature of The Lost and Founds, where this series is headed, etc. In case you missed anything…here’s the good stuff.

On Joyfully Jay, I blogged about the structure of the first six books, why I’m writing them in such an odd fashion, and reassured folks that despite Vin’s current struggles, good things are coming his way.


On The Novel Approach, I blogged about the origins of the backstory to The Lost and Founds. The blog’s owner, Lisa, had asked me via email ‘where did the idea to all this come from?’ While there are multiple answers to that simple question, I picked one dimension, the historical and mythological roots, and answered that on her blog.


Curious about the dedication inside the first few pages of King Mai? Well…satisfy your curiosity on the ManKind Project Journal. I ‘splained why that particular dedication and what it means to me. I told the story of my friend Joe, who early in our friendship told me one night, “I have a real problem with gay men.”


Cole Riann, a lovely friend I met through King Perry, invited me to blog on his Armchair Reader. I wrote a piece about men opening their hearts – why it’s so hard for men to do so, and why sometimes we need ‘extra encouragement’ (trickery?) to get us to do a thing we want to do anyway but also terrifies us. A few folks who read it said that this helped them understand Vin’s random manipulations…


Ooo – in case you missed my dramatic return to YouTube…here’s why King Mai would make a good book club book.


Finally, if you would like to show up on goodreads and chat with me, guess what? You can haz!

I’m hanging out on Goodreads tomorrow, July 27th, from 1pm – 5pm CENTRAL STANDARD TIME. You follow this link, show up, and start asking questions. I’ll try to give some answers that didn’t come out in any of the blogs. Well, you know, without giving *too* much away about upcoming book secrets…


Thanks for reading!





King Mai is Available!

July 16th, 2013

I’m excited to announce that King Mai is (at last) available through amazon.com. If you’re looking for an .epub version, you can purchase King Mai at All Romance Ebooks. I am still working on the paperback version and will post to this page when it’s ready for consumption.

I’ve also been delighted to have several great reviews of King Mai already!

Joyfully Jay reviewed King Mai and really touched my heart with her kind words and insights. As incentive to go read the review, you can sign up for a drawing giving away a free copy of King Mai.

Lisa from A Novel Approach wrote a gorgeous review, inventing all kind of awesome names for narrator Vin Vanbly. Heh. Another free giveaway! Go check it out!

In the next few days, I’ll post more reviews, links, and share with you some of the blogs I wrote which reveal secrets of the entire series, The Lost and Founds.


The Reluctant Adventurer

April 18th, 2013

I’m moving to New York City.

For a month.

I’m researching a book in a series I’m writing (The Lost and Founds) and I convinced myself I must research neighborhoods in person. I need to take subways and study certain neighborhoods. I’ve got to find a few police stations for plot points I’m considering. Mostly, I’m going for smells and night-time observations. I want to feel the crush of people around me.

I’ve been reading books about New York City for a few months now, obscure books: immigration demographics from 1960s through today, secret underground tunnels and abandoned subway stations, old money families, and an incredibly detailed book about the habits of New York City’s rats. I’ve taped a giant city map to the wall in my spare bedroom with pins in locations I wish to visit.

Sounds fun right?

Springtime. New York. Sewer rats.

Sure. I’m excited.

Well, and also, a little bit terrified.

Okay, more terrified than a little bit.

I am not the adventurous type. I’m the guy who says, “When’s do the new episodes of Grimm start again?”

Adventure seems to find me, though. Gradually, I’ve learned that more weird things happen to me on airplanes than other people. The pot candy. The dog named Peepers. People tell me life secrets or I become the Vomit Whisperer in row 33C. I haven’t even dared to tell some of the worst airplane stories.

And it’s not just in the sky.

Adventure hunts me down on land in the form of a traveling yard zombie, the corpse stain on my kitchen floor, The Dickens Wedding. Four separate times in life people have assumed I was twin brothers. One woman thought I was twins for three months. That’s not normal, right? Once I came home from a business trip and found 50 photos of Kyle Feldman hidden throughout my house. Plastiqua.  The Secret Vodka Party. Adventure just sort of shows up in my life and–reluctant adventurer that I am–I keep saying, “No, no, I’m not ready.”

Doesn’t seem to do any good.

On the phone last night, I fretted to Ann about purchasing my round trip plane ticket to New York. It was time to make this trip official. I explained to her that ‘I can’t do this. I’m not this adventurous.’

She questioned the wisdom of saying, “I’m not this way.” Isn’t that rather limiting?

We reminded each other of a vacation together near the border of Belize, a time when I jumped out of our rental to get better photos of a fat python slithering into the Mexican jungle preserve. Probably wasn’t a brilliant move. We hadn’t seen people in the past three hours. We were deep into crocodile territory and we had been warned “they can really haul ass when they’re hungry.” Ann watched in surprised horror as I raced to the fat, fat snake.

I’m terrified of snakes, as in sick-to-my-stomach terrified.

But how often do you get to touch a honest-to-God jungle python?

Well, actually, Ann stopped me from touching it.

Adventure slithered off into the jungle.

I think my real fear is that I am prone to making an idiot of myself in an impressive range of behaviors, from intellectual buffoonery to slapstick to fucking up a person’s name six times in a row. (Oh, and Death By Wild Animals You Should Not Touch.) In New York City, with many more people around me in greater concentration, I’m bound to do something dangerous and humiliating, perhaps both at the same time. I prophesize this New York Post headline:  “TOURIST GETS MUGGED, HIT BY SUBWAY, RE-MUGGED ON SAME DAY. THEN, BIT BY A PYTHON.”

Adventure, you make me nervous.

Despite my attempts to find housing, I don’t have a place to live. I’m answering craigslist ads, putting my own ad out there, following a half-dozen websites recommended by friends. Friends of friends are asking around for me. A NYC friend promised me a room for a week. This reminds me that people are kind.

People will help you.

That realization makes me take a deep breath. People will help you.

A friend has agreed to house sit in my Minneapolis home for a full month. Yes, people will help you.

Still, the very act of living seems too adventurous some days, too hard. Some idiot(s) blew up the Boston Marathon a few days ago. I felt sick. I felt that way after Hurricane Katrina. After the Twin Towers were destroyed. After Sandy Hook Elementary School. Abused children, teen suicide, companies that swindle millions out of their retirement.

Some days, this life is too damn much adventure.

But people will help you.

People will help you.

I’ve decided to say yes to this New York adventure even though part of me also says, “No, not yet. I’m not ready.” Maybe I’m supposed to say ‘yes’ to life adventures like this one, to help prepare me for the big ones, the unhappy ones doomed to come into our lives. Maybe by saying ‘yes,’ my adventure muscle grows bigger.

I have no idea how the hell living in NYC for a month will turn out. Sure, I’m saying, ‘yes,’ but it’s through clenched teeth.

But I promise you this.

If the Post headline reads: RENEGADE TOURIST LIVING IN SUBWAY TUNNELS, please keep in mind it wasn’t voluntary.

The giant rats got me.



First Edition

June 12th, 2012

I admit, I had dreamt of the moment: the arrival of the contractually- free books from the publisher, the symbol that you have been Published, capital p.

I bet there’s a Norman Rockwell painting of this, maybe famous, with the All-American White, Middle-Class Dad grinning proudly holding his first edition while all his kids cherish him, grasping for a copy. A box of first editions sits near his feet. His sensible wife beams quietly at his side, impressed with his new role in creating the American Voice.

It’s epic, I’m sure.

Yeah, I know that picture is a lie. I know that the doting wife had herself written a better novel but her American Voice would not be heard for decades. One of those Norman Rockwell kids grew up to be a cross dresser, I’m sure. Good for him for letting his American Voice get heard.

Still, I couldn’t help but want my life’s version of that moment, to feel proud, happy and somehow cherished.

I found an ordinary UPS box on the front porch and carried it inside, realizing these were my first editions. While I wanted to feel pure joy, I actually had mixed feelings. The negotiation over the number of free books went like this: they said, “Well give you five free books,” and I said, “Okay.” I had already heard from new author friends I might have negotiated that point better.

Damn. My mistake.

Though the book was barely published, I’d already made mistakes as an author.  I hadn’t prepared enough. I didn’t have guest blogs lined up. I didn’t plan my “virtual book tour” because I didn’t know what those words meant. I forgot to read and network in my genre for the past ten years. Oops.

When I discovered the UPS box, I was already late for somewhere. I dropped the box on the coffee table, saving my Norman Rockwell moment for later. I decided to get Ann on the phone and say, “They came.” We could open the box together.

Ann reminds me to be excited about these milestones. She celebrates every joyful review and listens carefully to my shy reveals about lessons I have learned. When I chide myself  for a marketing screw-up or authory stuff I am Not Yet On Top Of, she softens these moments, turns them into small victories. She reminds me I am following my bliss and that particular road means stones in your shoes. She helps me reach O wow.

I couldn’t imagine opening the box without her.

The UPS box sat unopened for a few days. I wasn’t quite ready. I wanted to feel more Norman Rockwell-esque. When I built up enough appropriate excitement, I told her about its arrival. But instead of Norman Rockwell: I got ash in my mouth.

The books were fucked up.

The one back cover detail I didn’t personally oversee was the series title. Instead of The Lost and Founds, the copy in my hand read “Book 1 of the The Lost and Found series.’ A month earlier, I had haggled over the cover art. I had insisted on rewriting the blurb they provided. But that one important detail slipped through my fingers.

You should not mess with a control freak over a single tiny mistake like that.

Not. Good.

Who was at fault: was it me? Was I not controlling enough to demand to see their finished back cover? Or did I screw up an email with the series title? Did they screw it up? Wasn’t clear. Mistakes happen and I had already made plenty. But it was hard to let go; that exact wording meant a great deal to me. If you finished King Perry, you now know the secret implied by the series title, why Lost is singular and Founds is plural.

My Norman Rockwell moment: not so epic.

I try to forgive myself for not knowing how to do this and making mistakes. I try to shrug and say, “Whatever. It’s all good. I’m learning.” Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to shrug some of this off and say, ‘whatever.’

A few days after the big letdown, I went to San Francisco for work and packed the five books, channeling New Author Determination to get those onto a booksellers’ shelves. I had a vague feeling I should hold onto one of them for sentimental reasons, but I was trying to think of things practically. The publisher had already agreed to fix the back cover for future printings. These five were flawed. I really needed books to give away while visiting the city possibly most receptive to stocking King Perry.

I took the first copy to a wonderful, independent bookstore where an author-friend experienced success walking in and getting her book on a shelf. For the first time in my life as a Minnesotan, I felt like Mary Tyler Moore.

The clerk scowled at me when I explained my intention and he went to check with someone in back. He returned and with greater distain explained that I could leave a copy. No guarantees. I wrote a friendly note thanking them for consideration, added contact information, and left. I probably approached that situation all wrong, too.

That short conversation — blatantly marketing myself like that — that was hard for me.

I’m not used to being quite this extroverted, marketing my ass off, talking about why everyone should read my book. Also, I now email chat with wonderful writers and readers who are now in my circle of friends. I love my new writer circle, but I get overwhelmed. Even though I want to chat with these people daily, I shy away. I’m a damn introvert, people.

Being a writer is more work than I imagined. I’m marketing this book, writing the next, planning to attend conferences, and trying to generate interest in my writing through various online methods. Before and after publishing, I have felt my limitations, my compromises, my own inexperience and ignorance far too keenly to truly celebrate holding my first edition. A real author would know what to do better than me.

Maybe there would never be a Norman Rockwell moment, not for me. Maybe nobody gets a Norman Rockwell moment.

On that same trip, I failed at two other book stores who engaged a rigorous process to keep people like me at bay. They wouldn’t even accept a copy to ignore. I felt my MTM enthusiasm flagging.

In the Castro, I visited my favorite comic book shop and the guy who owns it is my long-distance, semi-friend while remaining a semi-stranger. I like him. He’s cute and friendly. We have fun conversations about comics and we both agree the X-men’s arch villian, Mr. Sinister, looks damn sexy in a red, flowing cape. We’d do him. I got to know him when I lived in San Francisco briefly in 2007. That day, I indicated the four books under my arm and asked if he knew any gay-friendly books stores.

Very casually, he said, “You can leave them on a shelf in my store.”

I was surprised and delighted.

We discussed how much to sell them for. I suggested a modest number well under the sales price, planning to give him half the proceeds anyway. But he flipped the book over casually and said, “Oh, there’s the price right there. Why don’t we sell them for that.”

We happened to be making full eye contact when he repeated himself, saying, “Let’s just sell them for full price.”

I secretly thrilled at the words, full price.

It’s not the money, it’s the recognition mine is a real book, one you could sell for full price in a store. On a shelf.

Cool moment.

Through his act of kindness, I accomplished my goal: books of mine sat on a real shelf in a real store. True, they weren’t showcased in the big glass panels welcoming you to Barnes & Noble, or sitting with the other indie book store employees’ Highly Recommends, but I found myself feeling cherished. I left my first editions nestled among comic books, zines, and artwork that this cool, San Francisco man promotes. He likes to celebrate queer artists and he chose to celebrate me.

Another reason to love it: comics are another lifelong love, like Ann, writing, and San Francisco.

Months passed with no word as to whether they sold.

Last week, I returned to San Francisco for work.

When I arrived last Wednesday, I gathered my courage and returned to the independent bookstore to inquire about my book’s fate. They lost it. Or maybe not. Who knows, exactly. The old book buyer quit, there’s a new book buyer, try emailing him, maybe he’s seen it. That’s what they told me. I nodded and left, dejected.

I decided to visit the remaining first editions in the comic book store. Or perhaps, I’d merely visit the wire rack where they once stacked. I was eager and nervous as I walked toward the shop. But once inside, surrounded by the potent dual smells of comics and nerds, overstimulated by the the fantastically colorful visuals everywhere, I dove right into the new comics section. I eavesdropped on two men arguing the Avengers versus X-men crossover. I love being in comic book stores. I satisfied my lust for the week’s new titles, and sated, strolled over to the register to chat up my long-distance friend, the owner.

Full of hope, I said, “Did all four books sell?”

“No,” he said. “They’re over there.”

He had rearranged the meager bookshelves from when I had last been in his store, back in April. I had walked right by them, didn’t even notice my own book cover on a shelf. That was a little disheartening. Yet my heart lifted a little when I saw three books shelved, suggesting one of these four was out in the world.

But I instantly felt sadness.

I never really honored these first five books. I blamed them for being flawed. I wanted them perfect, Norman-Rockwell-perfect, and damn it, they aren’t. Not the back cover, and come to think of it, not the words inside.

In that moment, I realized those first editions were just like me: golden with love and hopefulness, yet still flawed. I’m struggling to do this author thing. I’m doing my best and learning every day. I wrote a book I’m proud of, but it turns out that’s not enough. You also have to work your ass off and you have to make humbling mistakes along the way.

Golden and flawed, one meager copy sallied into the world. Golden and flawed, it sat on someone’s book shelves, perhaps already forgotten. Perhaps beloved. I lost the chance to hold that first edition in my hands and fully appreciate it for being it’s beautiful, fucked-up self. I suddenly wanted that copy more than anything. But it was gone.

I said, “Looks like one copy sold.”

“No,” he said. “That one’s cover got a little beat up from handling, so I put it away.”

I chuckled because I can’t even fucking romanticize one book being sold. Not one.


Truth is, many people have purchased, read, and loved King Perry. Some showered me with love. I mean, effusively showered.  I get goose bumps when I read what the book means to some folks, what it unlocks inside. Yeah, I’m struggling with how to be an author in the world, but I fucking love it. I love writing. I love the people I’m meeting. I love interacting with people who read it.

I love this life I am learning how to live.

Despite my struggles and mistakes, this part of my life is golden and new. Professionally, I’m wandering around like a toddler, meeting authors and then careening away, emailing them four times a week, then falling four weeks behind in correspondence. I am figuring this out.

He retrieved the bruised book and handed it to me casually.

And back in my hands was my very first edition.

It was golden. Beautiful.


A little beat up around the cover, which is nice because I’m a little raw and beat up myself.

And the guy who handed it to me had no clue how he secretly he once thrilled me by casually suggesting full price. He suggested I honor my true value and it was hard for me, but I agreed.

I held the book in my hands.


King Perry brings magic into my life.

Ann hauled my 370 page draft to read during an Australian plane trip two and a half years ago. She could literally see the Golden Gate Bridge out her small window as she happened to be reading the scene that takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge. In my hotel this week, I met two people on their way to Alcatraz. I shared how to find the secret second floor.

Tell me that these moments aren’t magic.

I dare you.

A few days ago, I had my Norman Rockwell moment.

I stood in a Castro comic book store, a store literally named Whatever, surrounded by homos gossiping about X-men, and other imaginary worlds. I stood in a store I love, right in the heart of San Francisco, a magic city that holds a special place in my heart. In my hands, I held my golden, bruised, flawed, first edition. I felt loved and sad and forgiving and hopeful and then swung ’round to overwhelming gratitude that I am so god damned loved.

It was epic.






The Night Porter – Sue Brown

June 10th, 2012

shorn, beaten lover
takes one more chance on love, then…
what happens next? Guess.

Wow, what a review!

March 27th, 2012

“Once in a blue moon you come across a book that just blows you away. For the better part of this story I had no idea what was going on but despite that I couldn’t stop reading. The story flowed from the pages and made me laugh and then cry (literally cry, which doesn’t happen very often).

“Vin is an enigma, even having finished the book you are unsure who he really is or what his motivations are but you love him all the same. Watching Perry struggle to journey from lost to found it is hard to believe that the entire book takes place over the span of a single weekend. This book is packed with emotion, beauty, fantasy, realism and love.

“If I recommended one book to my friends this year it would be this one and I would hope it would touch them as deeply as it touched me.” – Susan, Goodreads.com

Are you ready to get kinged?

March 26th, 2012

Why, hello there.

I see you’re looking to purchase an adventurous read that makes you laugh, makes you cry, and reminds you of growing up on a horse farm in Kentucky. Well, good for you. King Perry does not have anything to do with horse farming, but if you’d like to purchase a copy anyway, check out any of these links below.

Amazon.com link to purchasing via Kindle

Amazon.com link to purchase paperback (pre-order for the next day or two…)

Purchase eBook from Dreamspinner’s (publisher) website

Purchase paperback from Dreamspinner’s (publisher) website