One year ago this week, Stubborn Heart, my first novel, was published. This week also marks one month since the release of Sharing Heart, the sequel to Stubborn Heart. Both books have been very well received, and readers have left some pretty awesome reviews. I think it’s time for a celebration.
What better way to celebrate than a giveaway? So, let’s have a contest. A lot of you know me, so you know I won’t make it too difficult. I want you to send me an email message. In this message, I want you to tell me about your favorite hobby. I don’t care if it’s reading, baking, playing softball, basket weaving, or running naked around your complex at three in the morning. Of course, if you do run naked around your complex at three in the morning, I may require photographic validation that this activity indeed, takes place. Just kidding. Maybe. Seriously, tell me about your favorite hobby. What got you started doing it? What do you enjoy about it? Why do you keep doing it? Tell me whatever you want that gives me a little insight into you, and why this hobby is important to you.
This contest plays into one of my favorite hobbies, getting to know people. So, that’s what I’m getting out of this. I get to find out one little factoid about you. And what do you get in return? Nothing. Well, unless you’re the winner. I’ll give one lucky person an autographed paperback copy of Stubborn Heart and Sharing Heart. That’s right, both books, signed by me. And it won’t cost you one penny. I’ll even throw in the postage.
Now for the boring little details…
First, I’m sending out this contest via multiple social media feeds. So to make certain I get your entry, do not submit as a reply to this post. That includes to my website, where you’re reading this. I’m having a problem with spam, and I haven’t figured out a way around it. Until I do, I don’t allow comments to my posts.
Send me your contest entry as a separate email message to email@example.com.
The contest ends on Sunday, May 4, 2013 at 8:00 pm (EST), and I will choose one winner from the entries received. I will notify the winner by email on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
Now available for pre-order from Dreamspinner Press.
Sharing Heart is the sequel to Stubborn Heart.
Between their love for each other and their medical careers taking off, everything should be perfect for Mark Smith and Trevor Hayes. After all, happily ever after begins with “I do.” At least that’s what Mark expected when he and Trevor married. But six months in Boston and the threat of a harsh winter have turned Mark bitter, and his fall on the ice only adds to that chill. Boston is very different from Mark’s native Atlanta, and he’s having a hard time adjusting.
As a junior partner in a very busy cardiothoracic surgery practice, Trevor has little choice but to spend almost every waking moment at the hospital. In spite of all the difficulties in their lives, both men want to start a family. The challenge will be figuring out how to make it happen.
Unfortunately, with Trevor’s long hours to blame for a nasty accident, Mark begins to resent the toll Trevor’s job and the New England cold is taking on them. Maybe it’s the Boston air, or maybe happily ever after is just a fairy tale.
|Cover Artist||L.C. Chase|
As most folks who follow me on social media know, Andy and I are in the process of moving from our huge old house to a much smaller condominium. Actually, we moved a while ago. Last Thursday marked four weeks in the new place. We both love it. All that is left of the move is the final disposition of all the “stuff” we no longer need or have room to keep. That too, is almost done. We should finish up today.
Yesterday, we made our third trip to Lost and Found. For those of you who don’t know, Lost and Found is a local non-profit organization. Their mission is to help LGBT youth get off the streets, and into a safe, supportive environment. They have a thrift store, and the proceeds go toward supporting their work. Anyway, so we go there yesterday for our latest drop off.
As we are unloading the car, a guy comes over to the loading dock. He has a huge grin as he asks: “So I have to know which one of you has the fascination with cocks?” I chuckled and looked right back at him. “We’re gay men”, I replied. “We’re both pretty fascinated with cocks.” Everyone got a good laugh from that one. Of course then I ‘fessed up and told him I was the one with the large chicken collection.
It all started many years ago. As a small child, I remember going to see my great grandmother on my mother’s side of the family. In her kitchen, she had a couple of small ceramic planters. These planters were shaped in the forms of a rooster and a hen. I loved them. Who knows why they caught my fancy, but they did. I have no idea what happened to those chicken planters, but their memory stuck with me.
In my first apartment, one of the early nonessentials I purchased was a set of ceramic chicken salt and pepper shakers. Over the years, my collection grew until I had dozens of chicken, in all shapes and sizes. I had a full set of dishes with a rooster design. I had big ceramic canisters with chickens on top. Our whole kitchen was filled with chickens, many of them roosters. One of the big advantages of having a house with high ceilings was several feet of space above the cabinets. A perfect place for displaying my collection. Alas, in the condo, we only have about six inches between the kitchen cabinets and the ceiling. I decided it was time for my chickens to find new homes.
I am happy to report that my chickens are selling like hotcakes, as is much of the stuff we donated. I’m glad. Lost and Found is a good organization, and I’m happy the things we can no longer use are helping them continue their work. I did keep one rooster. A multicolored glass one that looks beautiful in our curio cabinet. And that’s enough. After all, I can’t completely give up my fascination with cocks.
Last night, I finally watched The Butler. Yeah, I know… I’m a little behind on the movies. It was a very good movie. Of course I like Forest Whitaker in all of his movies I’ve seen. The Butler is a great reminder of an ugly time in our country. The struggle of African-Americans to achieve the same freedoms and rights enjoyed by their White counterparts was bloody and painful. I remember seeing the violence on television as a young child. But to me, it seemed like another world, completely alien to everything I knew.
I grew up in a small town in South Georgia during the sixties. While I’m certain a great deal went on that I wasn’t aware of, desegregation was pretty much a non-issue. They closed the school where I attended first grade right after the school year ended. I went to second grade in a brand new building; to a class in which about fifty percent of the children were black. There were no protests, no police enforcement, nothing. It was just the start of a new day. My best friend that year was Terry. He had the darkest skin, and the biggest heart, I’d ever seen. Unfortunately, he and his family moved away the next summer and we lost touch with one another. It’s too bad the transition in the rest of the country did not go so easily. Did the community leaders in Thomasville desegregate the schools because they wanted to? Probably not. They did it because the Federal Government said they had to. Now, no thinking person questions that it was the right thing to do.
I brought this up because, as I said, The Butler is a poignant reminder of how ugly hate can be. And I think we need that reminder. Our Great Nation still has a lot of people who believe it’s acceptable to treat others differently based solely on their sex, skin color, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Of course, few people are dumb enough to come right out and say “Jane doesn’t deserve the same pay because she’s a woman” or “Joe should be treated differently because he’s black.” Society has decreed that while you might think it, you cannot say it aloud, or act upon it. I know it still goes on, but the perpetrators of hate have to be a bit more subtle.
Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) Community do not enjoy the same “protections.” Our struggle for equal rights is still somewhat in its infancy. Or maybe our movement is a toddler or a preschooler. Even so, we have a long way to go. I am encouraged by the seventeen states that have legalized same-sex marriage (as well as the District of Columbia). But we have 33 states that ban Gay Marriage. Several of those states have pending court cases to overturn those bans. Still, the fight is far from over.
This week, the Kansas House of Representatives passed a bill protecting individuals who refuse to serve same-sex couples based on the notion of protecting religious freedom. The bill is nothing more than state-legislated hate. I was happy to hear Senate President Wagle say “…my members don’t condone discrimination.” I hope that the Nation’s reaction to the bill will ensure that it dies quickly.
I like to think of myself as an optimist with open eyes. I realize we have a long way to go before all people are treated as equal without regard to sex, race, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any of the other wonderful things that make us different, not better or worse than anyone else, just different. I think we are making progress. There will always be haters. However, as more people stand up to these haters, they lose their ability to negatively influence and impact others.
I am heartened by the persistent and constant presence of the LGBT Community in the media. Good and bad. The good coverage helps people to understand that, even though I am different from you, we have more things in common than we have differences. As for the bad coverage? Well, Kansas is a good example of how quickly people can change their tune. I would not presume to speak for Senator Wagle, but I wonder if she’d have been quite so quick to speak out if the rest of the country hadn’t reacted so negatively to the House passing the bill that would allow same-sex couples to be denied service. Whether she intended to or not, she labelled the bill for what it is: legislated discrimination. Likewise, many of the ultra-conservative people who spend their time preaching hate are losing their followers. The absurdity of their discourses is obvious to most people.
I am convinced most people want to do the right thing. Yes, I know. But I did say that I’m an optimist. Very few people are truly haters for the sake of hating. People fear what they don’t understand. The more we talk about our issues, the more people think about them. And we need people thinking. It should be obvious to any thinking person that nothing I say or do impacts the sanctity of your marriage. Denying me the right to marry the person I love does not elevate the status or meaning of your relationship, it simply discriminates against me.
<spoken in my best Paula Deen voice>
It is only a couple of days until Thanksgiving. And although I’m not a fan of the cold front that has moved through Atlanta, I do realize the chilly temperature ranks pretty small in the grand scheme of things. This is especially true when I stop to count the many blessings in my life over the last year.
My first novel, Stubborn Heart, was published in April. It’s hard to believe that was seven months ago, yet sometimes it seems like forever. Sales have been good, and I continue to see new reviews pop up on Amazon and Goodreads. The reader feedback has been such a positive affirmation, since I sometimes still have trouble believing people want to read my work. I am thrilled that Dreamspinner Press has agreed to publish Sharing Heart, the sequel to Stubborn Heart.
Last month, I self-published Pick Up, a short story about a happily coupled man who goes out in search of a little excitement. It’s a fun, steamy little story that I had a blast writing. The whole self-pubbing thing was a new experience. I learned a great deal. If I decide to self-publish more works, there are definitely a few things I’ll do differently, but it was fun trying something new.
On a personal note, Andy and I celebrated out nineteenth anniversary in August. I could not ask for a more supportive partner. He has been right there beside me every step of the way through job changes, graduate school, and now writing. And of course all the personal stuff along the way. Relationships are a give and take thing, but I’m sure he gives far more than he takes.
The last thing I want to mention is you. That’s right, you. The wonderful person who took a few minutes out of their busy day to read my ramblings. I really appreciate you. No matter whether you are family, friend, fan, or a little of all three, you are important to me. You are part of a magnificent network of people that nurtures and inspires me. My life would be lacking if you weren’t part of it. So, during this holiday season, and always, I am thankful for you.
Hugs and best wishes,
My new short story Pick Up is now available on Amazon, and it has a great five star review. Purchase link is below.
Chaz Henderson has an itch to scratch. His partner, Michael is not home, so Chaz decides he needs an evening out on the town. And there’s never a shortage of available and agreeable men in Atlanta. Imagine his surprise when he wanders into a neighborhood bar and stumbles upon a cowboy.
This past weekend, October 11th, 12th and 13th was the 43rd Annual Atlanta Gay Pride Celebration. People came from all over to partake in the festivities honoring the diversity of the LGBT Community. While I didn’t get to attend every event that I wanted to, I was able to get to several of them.
First, I’ll just go on and get it out of the way. Saturday, I got to see Steve Grand. Y’all know I’m a fan. He sure is easy on the eyes, and ears. And there he was, up on the Coca Cola Stage, only about 20 feet away from where I stood. That’s probably as close as I could get without getting myself in trouble. Seriously, the man gave a good performance. And he seems like a really sweet guy. I hope he continues to do well.
The vendors and booths set up in the park this year were incredible. I wish I had an official count of the number. I think we had more than ever before. Pretty much anything you can imagine was there. One vendor, in full drag, was selling Tupperware. Of course there were several merchants selling underwear. If only I looked like the models when I wore those briefs. Even Macy’s had a booth.
Of course the pinnacle of the weekend is the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday. Thanks to some wonderful friends, I was able to enjoy the parade from a great location on Peachtree, and still have access to amenities and libations. The parade lasted for a couple of hours, the largest one to date. I know we have never had so many churches and other religious organizations marching and riding floats in the procession. The news last night reported that more than one hundred thousand people attended the parade. Judging by the crowds, I believe it.
This whole weekend was so inspiring and energizing. To see the love and support that Atlanta, and the world, showered down on the LGBT Community was absolutely breath-taking. It truly gives me hope for a brighter day. I was able to share my joy with dozens of my best friends, including some I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. And I made some new friends. All in all, it was a perfect weekend.
Ken (for those that don’t know, that’s me on the right. Beside me is my partner, Andy)
Good Morning Beautiful People!
Y’all know me, I’m bad. I don’t mean to be, but I am. I try to do better at posting updates, but I get distracted. In all fairness, I have been fairly busy with work, writing, exercise, and the myriad of other things that make me wish I could squeeze 25 or 26 hours out of each day. And it’s not going to get any less hectic for a while. But it’s all good stuff.
This weekend is the 43rd annual Atlanta Gay Pride Celebration. All three days are chocked full of fun events and I will be attending several. Sunday is the Atlanta Pride Parade, one of the largest and oldest in the nation. I always look forward to the floats, bands, and marchers. Of course there are lots of parties going on all weekend, so it’s a good thing I’ll have Monday to rest up.
Next week is the GayRomLit Retreat. It will be my first time attending, and I’m so glad it will be right here in Atlanta. For those who aren’t familiar with GayRomLit or GRL for short, it is an annual retreat that brings together the people who create and celebrate LGBT Romance. Translated, that means a large gathering of writers and readers who love LGBT Romance. I am so excited to meet in person some of the people I know only through their works or social media. And there will be few friends I’ve met, but haven’t seen in a while. But again, y’all know me. If I haven’t seen you in a day or two, it’s been too long.
I am especially excited about the Writer’s Workshop that will start out my GRL week on Wednesday. As a young (don’t laugh) writer, I have so much to learn. And there are some really amazing folks scheduled to present. I hope I’m not too star-struck to pay attention. Seriously, these people are some of the best-loved authors of gay romance, and I am eager to hear what they have to say.
As far as my writing goes, I have a few things in the works. Sharing Heart, the sequel to Stubborn Heart, has been contracted and is scheduled for release in April 2014. Yeah, I know; that seems like forever away. Even so, I’m very pleased to be able to share with you more of Trevor’s and Mark’s story.
I recently submitted another novel, Cameron and Early, to a publisher for consideration. It is a very different story than Stubborn Heart, but one no less dear to me (and hopefully to you as well one day). Cameron and Early are the epitome of the odd couple. Cameron is level headed; Early flies off the handle at the drop of a hat. Cameron is gay; Early is straight. In spite of their differences, the two men forge a friendship that forever changes both their lives.
While both novels are coming in the not too soon future, I am planning to give you a little something to tide you over. I am finishing up a short story, Pick Up, which will be coming soon. I think it is a cute tale and I’m pleased with the way it turned out. All I’ll say right now is that the main character, Chaz, is feeling frisky and decided he needs a night on the town.
So there you have it, my friends, you’re all caught up on me for right now. I promise to try and be better about providing regular updates. Feel free to hit me on top of the head if I neglect you. Oh, and please leave a comment as well, if you like. It lets me know you read the post, and tells me what you think about it. That will help me be more in tune with what you want from me. If you have problems leaving a comment, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of my goals with my blog is to tell those interested a little more about what motivates me, both as a reader, and a writer. First off, I love people. Both intellectually and emotionally. Those who know me will tell you that I’m a very touchy-feely, come give me a hug, kind of guy. But I also want to know what makes a person tick. What happened to make us who we are today? We are all the sum of our histories, and oftentimes, even those who came before us. One of the challenges for me, and I expect for all writers, is getting the characters from my mind to the written page in a way that lets the reader get to know them, about how they got to where they are at the time of the story. Of course we hope these characters will become as special to you, the reader, as they are to us, the writers.
I had a lot of fun writing Stubborn Heart, first getting to know the characters, and then watching them grow. The moment the idea for the story popped into my head, Mark Smith and Trevor Hayes started talking to me, and those boys haven’t really shut up since. Of course, they’re not really boys. When they meet, Mark is already in his early thirties, and Trevor in his late twenties. That was the kind of story I wanted it to be, two people who’d been around the block a time or two. You know, folks with some baggage. While some people do meet the love of their lives early in life, many of us have to wait a little longer. I wanted Mark and Trevor to be everyday, ordinary people. But, as I’ll explain, they come from very different backgrounds.
Mark hasn’t had the easiest of lives. He grew up in inner city Atlanta with no family except his parents. For reasons undisclosed, his mother and father were estranged from their families. They met out west, but married and moved east. As far as we know, they had no contact with their families after relocating to Atlanta. So Mark grows up in a very small nuclear family with no extended relatives. When Mark was a teenager, his mother became terminally ill, and he had to help his father care for her. That was when Mark decided he wanted to become a nurse. His father also dies at a fairly young age, leaving Mark on his own.
Mark’s luck isn’t any better at love. In the beginning of Stubborn Heart, we find Mark walking in on his boyfriend, who just happens to have brought home a trick for the night. And it hasn’t’ been the first time David has been unfaithful. This had been the trend of all Mark’s relationships in the past. Lovers either cheated, or in some other way managed to break his heart. Most of us can relate to Mark on some level; we’ve all been hurt before. So Mark has given up on love. It’s not that he doesn’t want love, he just doesn’t believe it’s in his cards.
Enter Trevor Hayes. He is the typical golden-haired (or in this case, ginger-haired) boy. The gene pool gods smacked him twice on the ass; he’s tall, muscular, smart, and affectionate. He grew up in Boise as the youngest child, and only son, of two doting parents. Trevor has two older sisters who are quick to remind him that he is the baby of the family. Literally, the world has been handed to him on a silver platter. His tight-knit, nurturing family are very accepting and supportive of his sexuality. Even after he goes off to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a surgeon, he stays close to his kin. He maintains close ties with them all, especially his sisters and their children.
When Trevor sees Mark in the orientation class, he immediately applies his charms. It might not be love, but it is at least lust at first site. He wants to find out more about the sexy blond nurse. Mark’s hesitation confuses him. And why not, Trevor has generally gotten what he wants. Even when the sex part didn’t work out with Derrick in college, the two men became best friends. Mark’s reticence spurs Trevor to double his efforts.
I got a fair amount of flak about Trevor and his emotions. During the times when they argued, more than once, Trevor burst into tears. Masculine, twenty-something men don’t show their emotions. Or do they? Remember, Trevor is the baby boy, raised in a house with a lot of estrogen. He is very accustomed to showing his emotions. That, and he really doesn’t understand why you can’t have what you want, if you want it badly enough.
Other readers also gave me grief because they believed Mark gave in too quickly. Seriously, folks, Mark is jaded, but he’s still a gay man. And let’s face it, his sex life had been going through a drought. Trevor is one great big old red-headed teddy bear. The issue was never that Mark wasn’t attracted to Trevor. The problem was that Mark didn’t believe they could have a future together. Early on, Mark decides that while their affair is time-limited, he intends to enjoy every minutes with this hot, dreamy hunk that he can before Trevor rides off into the sunset.
So the stage is set. Mark needs to let his heart heal, and learn that he can love again. Trevor will have to mature a little more. If he wants to get Mark, it will take persistence, and a whole lot of patience. If both men can grow, they just might have a chance. Of course, life is never that easy. I threw in enough hurdles to keep both our boys on their toes. And there are plenty of funny parts as well.
Anyway, there have been a few cynics and critics, but truly not that many. The overall reception for Stubborn Heart has been positive. I received a lot of five-star ratings and some well-written, very complimentary reviews. I am so pleased that so many readers enjoyed Mark’s and Trevor’s story as much as I did. Stubborn Heart is a story of hope. It is about finding love. In future I hope to get to tell more of their story. So it’s no big surprise that Trevor and Mark manage to work it all out in the end. In other posts, I’ve mentioned I am working on sequels. But hey, if you haven’t read Stubborn Heart yet, there’s still a lot I didn’t tell you. After all, the fun stuff in life, and love, is in the journey.