Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scrambling with Lex Valentine

Have you ever read a book and wanted to just hug the main characters? When I wrote Scrambling, that is how I felt about both my heroes.
Of course, I also wanted to crack their heads together. Holding onto their childish fears of losing their best friend caused them no end of trouble and kept them apart for years. Most people who read Scrambling want to knock some sense into these two guys, but I wonder if they also wanted to hug them like I did. It’s rough to be plagued with fears like theirs even if it was their own stubborn faults for feeling as they did.

So when you read, do you laugh and cry and get angry along with the characters? If you do, the author has truly done their job. The book that leaves you going “Meh” is a book I don’t want to write. I want to engage the reader even if it’s just to piss them off. Granted, there’s always a percentage of books you read that turn out not to be your cup of tea which is why you go “Meh.” But then there are others that definitely are a story you could love if only the author had gone the extra mile to imbue the story with enough emotion to capture your attention and your heart.

I love books that make cry when the main character achieve their HEA or when their heartbreak breaks my heart too. Those are the books I end up reading again and again. Those are the authors I tend to gravitate toward when it comes time to buy a new book.

As an author I sincerely strive to give my readers the sort of book they would want to read again and again and the characters that make them want more. When a reader emails me and asks for a sequel, I know I’ve done my job. When a reader emails me and says I made them laugh and cry and spit nails in anger, I know I’ve done my job. Oftentimes I want to write sequels because the characters call to my heart too. It’s hard to let them go…

I hope that if you read Scrambling or any of my books that you will love the characters and want more of them. I encourage my readers to email me or speak to me on Facebook because I love talking about my books and characters. I’ve just started a new thing on my Facebook author fan page where I post snippets of my characters, bits that weren’t in the book or bits of WIPs. Come on by and see what my people are up to! It’s meant to be a fun interactive thing and it’s a brand new thing for me to do.

Many thanks to Whitley for the chance to guest blog here today. Below is a bit of Scrambling and I hope you like Evan and Reed as much as I do!

Lex Valentine


Loose Id

Book Trailer

Evan McAdam has two constants in his life--football and his friendship with Reed Matthews. From the age of six, Evan's played football alongside Reed. In his teens, he realized he was gay and loved Reed, but fear kept him from confiding his deepest emotions to his best friend.

When he and Reed are drafted to the L.A. Stars, Evan decides to come out. His decision impacts Reed who's been in the closet too. The two men struggle with secrets of unrequited love while facing the world as the first two openly gay NFL players.

When injury forces Evan to retire, the love he bears Reed can no longer be hidden. But will Reed be able to reciprocate, or will Evan lose both football and the man he's always loved?


Reed held his breath and watched the play of emotion across Evan’s face. He probably shouldn’t have been so blatant about what he needed, but he couldn’t stop himself. All he could think about was that Len lay dying and it could so easily have been him had he ever given in to Len’s whining about his use of condoms. Right now, he needed Evan to make him feel alive, to chase away the specter of death and disease. He needed to feel whole, and only Evan could give that to him.
“You’re overwrought. You don’t know what you’re asking.”
Evan’s voice quivered a little, and Reed could feel the tension in his friend’s body. He could also sense an underlying current of fear in Evan’s voice although he had no idea what Evan could fear.
“Yes, I do. I want you to make love to me.”
There. He’d said it aloud. All his hopes and dreams since he was fifteen years old, laid out for Evan in words of one syllable. No mistaking them for anything except what they were, a blatant invitation for Evan to fuck him. He opened his mouth and made the invitation even more clear, the words driven by the emotion he’d held so long inside.
“I want you. I need to feel you touch me, taste me. I need to be with you. I want your arms around me, your cock inside me. I need to be with someone who cares about me. For sixteen years, it’s been you and me. Even Len and Bryce haven’t come between us. It’s always been you and me.”
Reed poked Evan’s chest with a finger when he said you and his own when he said me. Evan blinked and shook his head as if he were dazed. “I-I don’t understand. Where is this coming from?” he asked with a frown.
“It’s coming from deep inside me, Ev. Whenever something is wrong, you’re there for me and vice versa, although God knows it’s usually me with problems not you,” he said with a tinge of bitterness at the life destiny had given him. “This time, I need more than just hand-holding. Will you give it to me?”
He stared at the man he’d loved since they were kids. The man he’d shared everything with. The one he couldn’t imagine his life without. And he willed Evan to say yes.
A long, soft breath escaped Evan, tension leaving his big body. “Yes. You know I love you. I could never say no to anything you ever asked of me.”
Reed pushed himself against Evan’s chest, his hands coming up to frame the handsome, beloved face of his best friend. “Then just love me. Death is cold. I need to be warm.” He pressed his mouth to Evan’s, and a pleasure like none he’d ever experienced exploded inside him.
Evan’s lips were soft and warm, gentle in a way Reed hadn’t known men could be. He took control of the kiss, took control of Reed, his hands and his mouth leading Reed to ecstasy. Their tongues slid together, tentative in the way of new lovers but without urgency or fear, just a growing awareness and heat. Evan’s hands slipped over Reed’s shoulders and down his back, causing a slow burn in Reed’s veins.
The limo turned a corner, and they rocked, swaying with the movement of the car. Reed pulled his mouth from Evan’s, and they stared at each other, breathing hard.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to push you into something you don’t want,” he asked as pain threatened. He needed Evan, but he could walk away if Evan didn’t want him.
The big man pushed a trembling hand through his sandy hair. “I want it,” he replied, reaching for Reed’s hand. He pulled it toward him and pressed it into his lap.
Beneath his fingers, Reed could feel the hard ridge of Evan’s erection, and his heart sang in triumph. The evidence of Evan’s desire was enough for him tonight. He didn’t need to own Evan’s heart although he yearned to.

Friday, October 19, 2012

GRL: The Virtual Version

This week, a bunch of writers are gathered in Albuquerque, NM to celebrate GBLTQ literature.
And have fun with activities like scrapbooking, eating drinking, meeting and greeting and putting faces to names from online.

For those of us stuck at home with only our laptops for company, I thought it would be fun to look through some vintage GBLTQ literature. These books are hard to come by, and expensive investments unless you can run across them serendipitously--perhaps when the family cleans out bachelor Uncle Jackson's attic.

Gay pulps first became available after WWII, allowing the first wide dissemination of books portraying the gay lifestyle. For many young men, perusing the paperback rack at the local drug store or five and dime yielded up these incredible treasures, this printed proof that they weren’t alone in their preferences. These pocket-size books were easy to hide, easy to read, and easy to pass along.

For example, Lonnie Coleman in the novel Sam. This is one of the genre showing a gay man in a positive light, not illustrating a bleak existence but a chance at real happiness while being true to one’s self.

Ricardo Armory’s Fruit of the Loon, and Song of the Loon. A bit tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended), but still showing a positive take.

Going forward, the genre exploded. Not all publishers were willing to take a chance on these “risky” novels, but enough did to launch the books into the population at large.
As the sixties morphed into the seventies, the “lifestyle” became more public, if not more accepted. The hippies and their philosophy of free love actually advanced the cause.

More publishers sprang up, and books became available via mail—the “plain brown wrapper” variety. These authors opened the way for the rest of us, laying down a rainbow path for us to pursue.

As time has gone by, GBLTQ publishing has grown into its own, with some houses dedicated to the genre, and other mainstream publishers opting to jump on the bandwagon and offer an imprint. The number of writers has exploded, some hoping to capitalize on the wave of interested buyers. I like to think that most writers, however, are interested in the genre for itself, and enjoy writing these books because it’s their personal calling and not that of their bank account. Along with the steep increase in the number of offerings has come a wonderful advance in the quality of stories accepted for publication. It’s competitive, and not a foregone conclusion that a MS will be accepted simply because it’s M/M.

I picture the swag room at GRL, and know it’s laden with wonderful books, interesting authors, and all sorts of treasures to bring home as souvenirs. Some of my friends will be there, hobnobbing with impunity as they meet people they’ve only known virtually up until now.

It’s something to be experienced, I’m sure. Next year, GRL will be held in Atlanta. I’m hoping to attend. In the meantime, I’m enjoying living vicariously seeing the pictures, hearing the stories, and doing my little review of how we got here in the first place.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Every Horse Lover Needs Lightning in a Bottle

Sarah Madison has a horse tail--er, tale--you can't afford to miss. This is the poignant story of a man determined to get to the Olympics, and another whose dreamed was snatched away in the blink of an eye. Now Jake and Rich must work together to achieve a dream.
Going for Gold is the new M/M Olympic themed anthology from MLR Press, featuring eight novellas by your favorite authors!
It's not hard to see the outward appeal of the Olympic Games: watching the fittest and most-accomplished athletes in the world compete---generally with fairly skimpy uniforms. Voyeurism aside, there's nothing sexier than a beautiful body running, jumping, swimming, rowing, and a couple dozen other activities. Who wouldn't take the chance to enjoy the spectacle?
To spectators, they may perform superhuman feats, but each and every one is human in the same way we all are.
Sometimes it's only the love of the right man who can make the effort worth it. And sometimes, love is more important than going for gold. Stories include: Hot Shots by Michael P. Thomas, Into the Deep by Nico Jaye, The Quad by Kelly Rand, Lightning in a Bottle by Sarah Madison, Swimming the Distance by Annabeth Albert, Shooting for Gold by Whitley Gray, Olympic Goal by K-lee Klein, Tumbling Dreams by Kaje Harper.

Blurb for Lightning in a Bottle
Four years ago, an accident turned Jake Stanford’s life upside down. In one fatal moment he lost almost everything that had ever mattered to him: his horse, his lover, and his spot on the 2008 Olympic Eventing Team. Four long years later, and Jake is poised to take his hard-won place on the team—only once again, personal tragedy threatens to derail his dreams.
Enter Rich Evans, the man who’d ordered Jake out of his life on that fateful night. Somehow, the two of them must overcome their history and learn to trust each other again if Jake has any hope of making the team. But is trust alone good enough in this dangerous and compelling sport? Jake has never been one to settle for second best and this time, he’s going for gold all the way.

Today, we have Richard Evans, trainer pro temp for Jake Sanford, being interviewed by Eventing Today Online Magazine reporter, Nancy Weston.

Nancy Weston: Hello, I’m Nancy Weston, with Eventing Today Online Magazine, and here today with me outside the lovely and historic Greenwich Park, home to the equestrian events during the London Games, is Richard Evans, trainer and coach to Jake Stanford, an unexpected addition to the US Eventing Team. Thank you for joining us here today, Mr. Evans.
Richard Evans: Wow. Did you even take a breath?
Nancy Weston (pausing to blink and smile stiffly): Mr. Evans, I understand that you have only recently taken over as Jake Stanford’s coach, just shortly before the final qualifying trials. That must have been quite a challenge for you, stepping into the shoes of such a well-known and respected trainer as Jim Banks.
Richard Evans: He’s not dead.
Nancy Weston: Excuse me?
Richard Evans: He’s not dead. I’m temporarily filling in for Jim while he undergoes chemotherapy. He’ll continue to coach Sanford and train for Foxden Stables once he has recovered.
Nancy Weston: Thank you, I’m sure I can speak for the eventing community when I say we are all thinking of Mr. Banks and wishing him well. Still, you have to admit, Jake Stanford’s story is a bit like something out of the movies. Tragically prevented from competed in the Beijing Games by that terrible accident, and not even really in contention for the team for these Games until very recently. In fact, not until after you took over as his coach. And yet you haven’t coached anyone at this level before, have you?
Richard Evans: No.
Nancy Weston (after a noticeable pause): So how surprising is it to you that the two of you are here in London today?
Richard Evans (looking irritated): Not surprising at all. Jake has worked hard for this. He was ready four years ago. If things had been different then, he would have been at the Beijing Games.
Nancy Weston: Finding a replacement for his 2008 mount could not have been easy. In fact, until recently, he appeared to be prepping another horse for these Games.
Richard Evans (shrugging): You know how it goes with horses. Nothing is a sure thing until you come out of the start box.
Nancy Weston: What would you say to our viewers who may not be familiar with the sport of eventing? Do you consider eventing to be the equine equivalent of the triathlon?
Richard Evans: Certainly. If a triathlete trained every day with a partner that weighed in somewhere around 1700 pounds, didn’t speak his or her language, had a mind of its own, and was frequently looking for an excuse to be lame or colic. Oh, and if any other Olympic sport allowed both men and women to compete as equals.
Nancy Weston (with a weak smile): What would you say to those people who call eventing an elitist sport—something that only the very wealthy can afford?
Richard Evans (leaning in on his cane to speak with emphasis): I’d say those people know nothing of eventing. Elitist? Because it costs a lot of money to train an event horse? Those people don’t know what it is like to put in twelve to fourteen hour days, every day, for the sheer love of the sport. That’s it’s not just about the training, that you also have to take care of the horse, your partner in all this. The horse, the tack, your equipment. You can’t throw some gym shoes in a bag and go to the track. Eventers ride with broken bones. They train all year, in all kinds of weather. Your hopes and dreams can fail on a single misplaced hoof. Most of the people I know in the sport have put their time in sleeping in the horse van because they couldn’t afford a room, or mucking out stalls as part of the chance to ride. Galloping at twenty five miles an hour at some of the trickiest obstacles in the world is not for the faint of heart. Sure, the sport is losing venues because there isn’t enough land dedicated to equine activities anymore. But eventing evolved out of people looking for a use for off-the-track racehorses. I bought my first event horse for a mere two hundred and fifty dollars. And there are more people out there every weekend competing their backyard ponies than there are people competing at the top levels. It’s a sport for everyone who loves horses.
Nancy Weston: You’re telling me that someone of Jake Stanford’s background has spent time cleaning stalls?
Richard Evans (smiling): Yes. We all did. Jim Banks made sure we knew everything there was to know about taking care of our mounts from the ground up. That included mucking stalls and cleaning our own gear after every ride.
Nancy Weston: You used to be a competitor yourself. Before the accident in 2008 that claimed the lives of several horses in the Foxden Stables and put an end to your riding career. Do you miss it?
Richard Evans (laughing): Who me? No. I like sleeping until 7 a.m. these days.
Nancy Weston: What do you have to say about the rumors that Jake Stanford is gay?
Richard Evans (looking flustered): I’d say what does that have to do with anything? I mean seriously, how can someone’s sexual, um, preference, have any bearing on their performance as an athlete? That’s such a personal question, anyway. How could I possibly answer either way?
Nancy Weston: Well, if the rumors aren’t true, most people would deny them outright. By not saying, you are by default implying that he is gay.
Richard Evans: Your logic is impeccable; however it leaves out one little possibility. I don’t answer rude questions.
Nancy Weston: My apologies for being overly personal, it just seemed to me with Jake’s father, Patrick Stanford, declaring his intention to run for the Senate that this question was going to come up.
Richard Evans (mouth hanging open briefly, then snapping shut, eyes narrowing): Patrick Stanford has finally tossed his hat into the ring, eh? Well, I can’t say as I’m surprised. I will say this, however: no one’s personal life should be media fodder for ratings values. And I will advise Jake to categorically refuse to answer this question simply because it is no one’s business but his own.
Nancy Weston (looking uncomfortable): There are those who would look up to someone of Jake’s athletic prowess as a hero, should he come out as gay.
Richard Evans: Look me in the eye and tell me that’s why you asked this question—and not to grab some ratings here. You want someone to come out as gay on camera? You can have me. Yes, I’m gay. Does that affect my ability to coach and train? No. Do you have any real questions now?
Nancy Weston: I, um, yes. Well. How do you feel about Jake’s chances for a medal here at the Games?
Richard Evans (pinching bridge of nose briefly before speaking): Okay, I’m not just giving lip service here. Of course, Jake would like to medal. But he’s here with a young horse that has a promising future in front of her. It really is an honor just to be here, especially after dashed hopes in 2008. I’m sure if you asked him, Jake would say that the thrill of competition was good enough for him. I know it is for me.
Nancy Weston: Thank you for joining us here today, Mr. Evans, and good luck in tomorrow’s dressage test. (Turning to face camera) I’m Nancy Weston, here at Greenwich Park, for the 2012 London Games. Tune in tomorrow for the highlights of the Eventing Team competition in dressage.

BUY: MLR Press Amazon


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrating National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day.
I’m thinking about those brave people who will take the step today that will change their lives. For some, it will be the relief of acceptance. For others, the heartbreak of rejection. A few may hear “Oh, we figured that all along.”
But nothing will be the same.
Outnumbering all these individuals are those who decide they’re not ready to take this step—some may never be ready to take it. Kids all the way up to retirement age and beyond.
Things are better. More workplaces have GBLTQ organizations. More public personalities have come out and shared their lives. TV has picked up the baton and introduced programming featuring GBLTQ characters. Public schools are on board with organizations for GBLTQ kids, engendering more acceptance. Teens and young adults have the Matthew Shepard Scholarship, awarded to youth involved in the LGBT community. (For those of you who don’t know Matthew’s story, click HERE).
National Coming Out Day. So today—
Maybe that brave person is a coworker, or the kid next door, or the guy who delivers your pizza.
Maybe it’s you.
To those who emerge, congratulations. To those who stay hidden, maybe someday.