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Friday, January 30, 2015

Becoming Andy Hunsinger, Jere Fishback

Ever heard of Anita Bryant, the Florida Orange Juice Queen, turned anti-gay crusader? She launched her religion-drenched "Save Our Children" campaign to repeal gay rights ordinances, first in Florida, and later in cities throughout the United States, during the mid-1970's. I attended law school at Florida State University during those days. I helped start the Alliance for Gay Awareness (AGA) an FSU gay/lesbian student organization. When Bryant visited Tallahasee, seeking a statutory ban on gays and lesbians adopting children, AGA staged a protest outside a restaurant where Bryant was dining, just prior to her appearance before a committee of the Florida Legislature.
Back in mid-1970's Florida, the gay rights movement was in its infancy. Most gay men and lesbians hid their sexuality from friends and family. We led secretive lives we guarded carefully. Openly gay men could be fired from their jobs or given dishonorable discharges from any branch of the U.S. military.
Now, forty years later, with gay marriage legal in Florida, the homophobia we dealt with back in the Anita Bryant era seems almost impossible to comprehend, but it really happened, and last year I decided to write a New Adult novel about my experiences from that time. 
The result is Becoming Andy Hunsinger, available in digital format from the Prizm Books website:  The book is also available in print format through Amazon:
Here's the blurb for Becoming Andy Hunsinger:

"It's 1976, and Anita Bryant's homophobic 'Save Our Children' crusade rages through Florida. When Andy Hunsinger, a closeted gay college student, joins in a demonstration protesting Bryant's appearance in Tallahassee, his straight boy image is shattered when he's "outed" by a TV news reporter. In the months following, Andy discovers just what it means to be an openly gay in a society that condemns love between two men. Can Andy's friendship with Travis, a devout Christian who's fighting his own sexual urges, develop into something deeper?"

And here's a quote from Andy Hunsinger himself:
"My participation in the Anita Bryant protest shattered the straight-boy image I’d created for myself -- instantly and permanently -- and since that day I haven’t hidden my sexual orientation from anyone. I have lived as an openly gay man, an unapologetic faggot who loves as he sees fit."

Throughout the book, Andy struggles to find acceptance of his sexuality from friends, co-workers, his employer, and his own family. It's not an easy road to travel.  Andy works as a part-time caddy at Tallahassee's most exclusive golf club, and when he's "outed" during the Bryant protest, his job is threatened by conservative club members who disapprove of Andy private life.  Andy encounters hostility from his fraternity brothers as well, and his closeted boyfriend isn't too happy either.
Andy also struggles to find another guy to fall in love with. Again, it's not easy in conservative Tallahassee, where there isn't even a gay bar. Andy puts it like this:

"As time passed, I began to wonder if I’d ever meet a guy I found attractive -- one who might also want me -- but I had no success finding anyone.

"Maybe my experience with Jeff was dumb luck.

"Each Friday and Saturday night, I returned home from the Pastime, to my empty apartment, and then I lay on my mattress, staring at the ceiling.

"Is this how it’s always going to be?

"Sometimes I second-guessed myself; I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake in leaving the fraternity house. Maybe I wasn’t suited for the gay subculture. Was there something about me that gay men -- guys my age, anyway -- found unappealing? Was it so obvious I was a needy youth with little knowledge of the homosexual world and its rituals?"

Since Becoming Andy Hunsinger was only released December 30, 2014, I think it's appropriate to blog about the book during January 2015, which is "new release month" at Guys Like Romance, Too.

I hope you'll enjoy reading my new novel. You can check out my other books at my website:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hawks and Rams, L. Blankenship

 Hawks & Rams
by L. Blankenship
a m/m fantasy romance novella
from Dreamspinner Press

Back Cover
Heathric Felahóf never wanted to be a thief, but his cousinʼs scheme is the only option to keep the town's children from being taken as slaves to cover the year's taxes. So a few men slip over the border into the neighboring kingdom, steal a flock of sheep, and escape before the magically gifted Rangers learn of them. The second time, they're not so lucky, and trouble follows the bandits home.

Adal Sperling has given up on finding a lover who truly wants him. One of the Rangers charged with protecting his people, he pursues the sheep thieves over the border and stumbles across Heathric, a gentle shepherd who only wants to take care of his family. But opposite sides of border incursions is a rough way to fall in love, and the laws of Adalʼs kingdom are clear: the border must remain closed to Heathricʼs people.

From Chapter 1
The meadow, sheep, and herding dogs looked familiar enough to Heathric, but the shepherds spoke the wrong language. He and his cousins crouched behind a knot of birches, waiting for Dunstan and Scéot to flank the field and shoot the dogs. Mother Love only knew what would happen then; folk on this side of the border hills were all kir-mages, it was said. Their saints made them, even if they were born without the gift.

One of the dogs leaped up from the tall grass, ears cocked toward the trees at the edge of the meadow. Heathric’s breath caught. The dog faced away from him, though. It had to be one of the two woodsmen. The elder shepherd noticed his dog and stood up too. His son, red-haired like him, called a question.

An arrow hissed. The dog cried out and fell. Heathric winced, squeezing his eyes shut. The second dog barked once and squealed in pain. It stabbed through Heathric’s ears and pricked tears to his eyes.

“Come on!” Athard cuffed Heathric as he rushed past. Athard whistled to his own dog, and a bark answered from the forest behind them.

Heathric took a breath to steady himself. It had to be done, or the strangers’ dogs would attack their own. He whistled the order to come and heard Clymp tearing through the ferns toward him.

Lunging to his feet, Heathric charged into the meadow with his shepherd’s staff in both hands. Wails from the dying dog hit his ears, along with men’s shouts. The sheep baaed and dithered under all the noise, some of them frightened enough to bolt toward the tree line. Heathric whistled a flanking command to Clymp and called the sheep together.

They didn’t know Suevi words, though, and he was a stranger. A gray and white mop of a dog burst from the forest and the sheep shied in unison toward Heathric. He spread his arms, with the staff held out long, to turn them back to the main flock. They veered away, crashing into their flock-mates in confusion.

Behind them, ounstan raised his bow as a club and struck the shepherd down. Heathric saw his cousin’s rage, clear as day, and felt it hot and prickly as a sunburn across his skin.

Running sheep caught his eye, and Heathric whistled again. Clymp raced past to herd them back. “Easy, easy,” Heathric said, pacing along the edge of the flock with his arms wide. “We won’t hurt you.”

The animals’ eyes rolled, and they bumped against each other in trying to huddle. Beyond, Dunstan clubbed the shepherd again, then put his hand on the hilt of the seax he wore strapped across the small of his back. The knife’s long, heavy blade flashed in the sun as he jerked it from the scabbard.

“No!” It burst from Heathric’s mouth.

Dunstan stabbed. Heathric broke into a run, hurdling the sheep that couldn’t scramble out of his way.

“No! You swore—!”

Dunstan swung around with the bloody seax at ready. Heathric skidded to a stop, barely keeping his balance. His cousin snorted and flicked blood off the blade. “No harm’ll come to us.” He put a sneering emphasis on the last word.

Hawks & Rams

Also by L. Blankenship
Disciple, a six part gritty fantasy adventure
Download Disciple, Part I for FREE

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wrong Number, Right Guy, by Mia Watts

I’ve always been rather fascinated by the idea of a phone call opening the door to something unexpected. When I was a kid, I made the requisite prank calls—“Sir, is your refrigerator running? Well, go catch it!” and “Is Cinderella home. This is an out of work mouse.”—like most kids do. As you can see from my examples, I wasn’t very creative. Mostly, I panicked and threw something out there. The Cinderella call resulted in an older man playing along with me. As a kid, I was disappointed. As an adult, I think that man was pretty awesome.
When you make a call to a wrong number, intended or not, you never know what kind of conversation you’re going to have. It was that kind of mystery that sparked the idea of the first book in the Hollywood Hotties series with Totally Bound. I knew I wanted to write a story about an odd couple. I wanted a hometown boy to sweep a famous lime-lighter off his feet. For me, a wrong number was a natural choice. It was the potential for a fate-filled fantasy of what ifs (say that ten times fast).
What would it be like for a man who has learned not to trust anyone, to find his soul-mate accidentally? What if that “regular guy”, caught up in the absolutely normal, gets access to a famous personality? Would it change him? Would the jaded star find peace?
I also found that having explored this relationship, I didn’t want to stop! I wanted to break down perceptions, explore trust and betrayal in a way I hadn’t before. I wanted those sexy, elite, Hollywood men to beg for the love of a regular guy. My regular guys. Fortunately for me, I’m an author and I can make them beg in exactly the right way.

In Wrong Number, Right Guy, my rereleased novel, Dar is a hard-to-impress small-town Michigan guy. Ryan Pierce is one of Hollywood’s sexiest sons, and he’s in town on a shoot. But to anyone in the know, Ryan Pierce is as straight as they come. When Dar misdials his friend’s phone number, he’s all about the flirtatious teasing that marks their usual conversations, but there’s something different this time. The voice on the other end doesn’t sound quite right to be his friend’s. Still, whoever he is, Dar likes the direction the conversation is going. To Dar’s surprise, the guy on the other end says he’s working on the local shoot and offers him a chance for a walk-on role and a meeting with the Ryan Pierce. Now it’s Ryan who’s nervous about meeting a regular guy he might want to know better, but will opening his heart ruin his career?

He had been with exactly one man in his life, before Ryan had been discovered. Now there was no chance of hooking up with another man. It would ruin him.
Women had never done it for him. Ryan loved men. He loved the way they looked, the way they moved, smelled, talked. He loved the way men thought. Men were sexy. But looking into the unclear future of Hollywood, Ryan couldn’t see a point where coming out would be acceptable.
Jack had buried Ryan’s one relationship with misdirection and pay-offs. Stuff like that hemmed him in completely. There was no going back now.
“Does all this gay talk make you uncomfortable?” Dar asked suddenly. “You got really quiet there for a minute.”
Ryan smiled at the way Dar had been able to read his silence over the phone. A total stranger and yet surprisingly on target. “No.”
“Are you gay?”
“No!” Ryan shot back, too quickly.
“Uh-huh. Not out yet, are ya?” Dar’s voice exuded understanding and sympathy.
Ryan didn’t answer. He would have barked a protest, but he didn’t feel like lying to this man he’d never met. His job was a series of lies he was paid for at the box office. That moment when he’d—used, he confessed to himself—Dar to get off, he felt like he owed him something. Namely, the truth. Yet he couldn’t make himself confess being gay when his career would end if Ryan’s identity was discovered.
“I gotta go,” Ryan said suddenly. Without allowing himself to think about it too long, he hung up.
He looked at the handset, feeling a moment of transparency he’d never felt before. The whole conversation had been surreal. How was it a man could go through life, working, living, eating, sleeping, seeing thousands of nameless faces of people doing the same thing? People in crowds, in streams along sidewalks, in photographs? People who saw things and had emotions that were completely real to them, yet were no more real to another person than walking or moving cardboard?
Today, life had breathed into one of those two-dimensional lives all because of a misdialed number. The invisible wall of fame had been breached and it wasn’t until that moment Ryan realized just how much he missed being normal.
What he would give to walk a day in Dar’s shoes. To be out and open with a relationship of his choosing and not one designed to attract publicity for a movie.
God, it must be nice.
Ryan reached past the phone to the notepad and pen on the table. He checked the caller ID his agent had installed on the line, and scribbled down the Unknown Caller’s number. Then carefully, making sure the block letters were clear, he wrote out Dar Phillips’ name. He was definitely someone Ryan wanted to remember, if only to hang onto that slim thread to the outside world.