After countless edits over the past several years, I can finally announce that my third novel, Best Man, has made it to the light of day. This is the story of two roommates who fake being boyfriends to attend a wedding: the first is in love with one of the grooms, while the other has the hots for the other groom. In this book the characters struggle with faithfulness and unfaithfulness, honesty and dishonesty, right from wrong. A light, breezy romance it is not. You can buy it on Amazon, here:
My sincerest thanks to my extremely small yet extremely loyal group of readers who have been waiting so patiently for this work to come out. Below are some snapshots I took that serve as the setting for some major scenes. Thank you all for your support.
Howdy all, the reviews are coming in for the advanced review copy of Best Man. Thanks to everyone for showing an interest in my book and for taking it so seriously. The book will be available for free on NetGalley until May 26, available here:
In other good news, I recently got the delivery of the books I plan to read between now and the end of the year. Only one of them, Ursula K. LeGuin’s “Tehanu,” is by an author I’ve read before. I’m looking forward to making new friends this year.
I’m dashing off this note to let you know that my third novel, “Best Man,” will finally be out this summer. Right now I’m combing through the manuscript and making final edits. In the next couple of weeks or so I’ll be putting it up on NetGalley before making it available for sale on Amazon and elsewhere. A book description and a trailer are on their way. In the meantime, please enjoy my cover and let me know what you think.
I volunteered to serve Thanksgiving this year. It’s long been my favorite holiday—a simple day to relax and eat and feel thankful for whatever you want to be thankful for. The only stress of the day boils down to a simple but fun question. What to cook?
Luckily for me, the not-to-be-outdone staff at the New York Times launched an addictive new cooking app, just in time for the holidays. The app holds thousands of recipes covering what feels like every cuisine on earth, main dishes, side dishes, desserts, you name it. Thanksgiving is covered on the app as exhaustingly, maybe even as numbingly, as next year’s presidential election.
And no Internet recipe would be complete without a vividly glammed-up photo of the finished dish. Hunks of pancetta glistening among roasted Brussels sprouts. Ruby-red cranberry sauce dripping off the wooden spoon. A golden turkey resting on the cutting board, ready to submit to the knife. Forget about trolling the Calvin Klein underwear catalog. I’ve spent the past three weeks wallowing in the delectable muck of food porn.
Rummaging through the cooking app led me to thinking about where I am with my writing. With my latest manuscript more or less finished, I’m now in the process of letting go of characters I’d grown to know and love over the past three-plus years. A new story will have to fill the vacuum. But who will make up this new cast of characters? What form should this new novel take?
It soon struck me that the answer is as thrilling—and as terrifying—as trying to figure out what to put on the table at Thanksgiving. I may not know what I’m serving, but I have a general idea of the contours that meal will take. Same with any novel, which has to have characters—some nice, some not so nice—following a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The trouble is I could scroll through novel ideas forever. People, images, scenes, stories—all of these are roiling around my head, clamoring in my ear to be chosen. Some are as a fleeting as a chance face I’d see on the train. And since I know I can write anything at this point, I might end up writing nothing. This must be what all writers go through when they are between projects.
For the Thanksgiving project, at least, I knew I couldn’t page through recipes forever. As any good writer knows, nothing cures writer’s block better than an unforgiving deadline. The holiday loomed over me. The turkey was a given. Gravy too. And after sifting through the myriad recipes for stuffing, sweet potatoes, vegetables, pie—editing the menu, as it were—I eventually locked in my choices.
No such deadline looms over me for this fourth book. No guests knocking at the door at an appointed time. I can only go on faith that the noises in my head will quiet down long enough for me to catch the thread of a new story. And make the choice to follow that thread.
In the meantime I’ll bide my time, pare my nails, watch the Golden State Warriors on TV, and maybe even take a few moments to realize how lucky I am to have my health and my family and a roof over my head, and how lucky I am to share food this year with family and friends. And if there’s time left, I’ll catch a few minutes of food porn.
I’d previously posted that I intended to publish my third book by 2015. Well, here it is, November 2015, and no book is in sight. I regret to report that I won’t be publishing this year. But I promise, the new work is on the way.
A lot of this tardiness has to do with the story editor I’d hired to review my manuscript—or should I say, the editor who was gracious enough to take me on as her client. I had handed her what I’d thought was a decent manuscript in September 2014 after two and a half years of almost daily writing. I’d expected her comments on the characters, the plot, and the pacing would probably lead to three, maybe four months of revisions.That had been my experience with “You Are Here.”
Instead she had me pulling out and rewriting nearly everything I’d written, leaving little more than the characters and a bare-bones structure, and start from the ground up again. I’d learned that much of the inner life of my characters existed in my head, not on the page. Her comments had me working mornings, nights, and weekends, and even then it took me a whole year. Okay, so maybe my working relationship with the editor was considerably more cordial than the one from Billy Elliott, but still, the experience was much tougher than I’d bargained for.
The extra year was worth it. I’m much happier with the new version than the one I’d finished last year. I’ve skimmed through the manuscript I’d given the editor last September and am horrified that I’d ever thought it was near publication. My readers would likely have been horrified too.
But even now, I still can’t make any promises about when the new book will be out. For one thing, the manuscript still isn’t finished. It’s still being vetted for story and characters, and then it’ll go to a copy editor for grammar and fact-checking. That will take the project to the end of December. In January I’m going to take a stab at landing an agent and maybe having the manuscript published by an actual publisher. If that happens, I might not have a book out in 2016 as well. But sooner or later, one way or another, that book is going to see the light of day.
In the meantime I’m filling my hours writing blog posts—namely this one, and maybe a few more blog posts over the next few months. Then I need to catch up on my reading (right now it’s Nelson Algren’s “The Man With the Golden Arm” and William Godwin’s “Caleb Williams”), a daily diary, maybe a writing exercise or two. With my mind now (mostly free) of the characters I’ve been working on for the past four years, I’m now looking for a new hero, the man or woman I’ll fall in love with enough to inspire my fourth book. I know he—or she—is out there.
I’m happy to announce that You Are Here won first place (mainstream fiction category) in the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Book Awards. When they contacted me last Friday to tell me I’d won, I waited all weekend for them to write me to say they’d made a mistake. Instead, they gave me this nifty little badge.
And when I submitted the book to the contest earlier this year, I’d thought that maybe, if I was lucky, I’d get an honorable mention. I never imagined they’d pick a “gay romance” for a “mainstream fiction” prize. Well, I stand corrected. I am very grateful to the magazine for choosing my book out of many worthy candidates. And I am very grateful to my readers — and to anyone, really, who has ever said a kind word to me — for giving me the courage to put my work out there.
I’ve always hated hearing my recorded voice talk back to me. So I haven’t listened to my latest radio interview, in which I talk about myself, my life as a writer, and some of the ideas that went into “You Are Here.” Click the link below to download the interview; it’s about 15 minutes long. Feel free to share!
I haven’t been blogging much on the website lately because I’ve been working hard on my latest novel as well as contributing blogs on gay issues at the Huffington Post. But if you happen to stumble on this page and wish to check out my contributions to HuffPo, the links are below.
For my first blog, from February 2013, I wrote about how my life in San Francisco tracked Dorothy’s journey in The Wizard of Oz. When I moved to the Bay Area in 1993, I’d bought the myth that San Francisco was like a gay Oz. The reality turned out to be something different.
For my third blog, I interviewed my 83-year-old neighbor Robert Akeley, who over the course of his long and colorful life has “come out” no fewer than three times. He told me his third time coming out — just shy of his 83rd birthday — was the scariest for him.
Finally, for my fourth and latest blog, I had a chat with the amazing Grace Sterling Stowell, a transgender woman who’s thrown her life and soul into one of the oldest gay-run youth groups in the country.