Driving into the Sun

One of my favorite stories, out with a shiny new cover by the inimitable Jordan Castillo Price.

Two lonely men, one small car and two thousand miles

Chicago has become a dead-end for Dusty Walker. He’s lost his job, his apartment and most of his self-respect. The only choice he’s got left is to move into his parents’ basement, even though they live half a country away, didn’t approve of him when he was a teenager and are even less likely to now. 

Joe Black Eagle has his own complicated past. He made a mess of things five years ago. Since then he’s concentrated on his sobriety and earning back his nursing license. He’s about to get a fresh start with a new job in Seattle. Things are finally looking up.

Dusty has a few more mistakes to make and Joe might be just the guy to help him find his way. Provided Joe doesn’t toss Dusty out of the car somewhere in North Dakota first.

From chapter two:

When Joe finished with the hand, he put his fingers under Dusty’s chin and tipped his face toward the light. His touch was gentle, like a lover right before a first kiss. Dusty’s lips opened as he stared up into Joe’s dark brown eyes. Joe’s gaze flicked to Dusty’s mouth, then away. He wet some gauze and began dabbing at Dusty’s cheek. Dusty had forgotten about the scrape on his face. Now it stung. So much for the moment before a kiss. He bit the inside of his lip to keep from pulling away.

“Don’t worry.” Joe’s voice was soft, amused. “This won’t scar your handsome face.”

Driving into the Sun is a stand-alone, gay romance with just enough sex and a very happy ending. This full length novel was first published by Loose Id in 2014

Available on Amazon

A Valentine's Day story from the archives


As many of you know, my monthly newsletter is called Dev's News Flash and consists of a bit of news and an original piece of flash fiction (if you're interested in signing up, you'll find a form for that on the right hand bar of this page). I thought I'd offer up last year's Valentine's Day flash. Enjoy.

The Valentine Fairy

The only thing more pathetic than being single on Valentine’s Day, was being a queer guy in his thirties in charge of the mixer at a local nursing home. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my job. But as much as the seniors I worked with busted open my heart on a regular basis, I was in the market for someone a little closer to my own age. It’s just that the Valentine’s Day Fairy hadn’t ever showed up for me.

There’s a myth out there that after a certain age, people are just done with the whole sex, love, romance part of life. That’s true for some, but plenty of the folks I know are still chasing that elusive something right up until the end. And maybe it’s because they’ve lived a long time and seen a lot of heartbreak and joy, but it seems to me that old people truly believe in love. At least more than most guys my age. Maybe even more than me.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Mary Jane approached me after the first V-Day Dance planning committee meeting. I was collecting the used coffee cups when she sidled up beside me, wearing her signature pale pink sweater.

“Joe, is there a special sweetheart you’d like to bring to the party?” She smiled up at me.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d met someone who qualified as special, much less was sweet enough to enjoy dancing to the oldies with a bunch of octogenarians. Most of the guys I knew got turned off when I even mentioned my job.

But I didn’t need to go into all that with Mary Jane, so I just beamed down at her and said something inane like that she should save a dance for me.

She patted my hand. “That’s what I thought. I’ve got a surprise for you, someone I think you’re really going to like.”

I stared down at her, trying to figure out what to say. While I stood there gaping, she gave me another wide smile and a brisk pat, then swung her walker around and walked away. When she was almost out the door, she turned and waved. “Wear that blue shirt. It really brings out your eyes.”

And with that she was gone.

Mary Jane was setting me up. That couldn’t be good. For one thing, letting her go all matchmaker on me wasn’t very professional, and for another, while I’m not exactly in the closet, I’ve also never made a thing of broadcasting my sexuality to the clientele. In my experience, the older generation wasn’t always on board with the whole gay agenda. Half my own grandparents were cool with it and the other half thought I was heading to hell, so I figured it was just easier not to deal with the issue at work.

On the other hand, the fact she wanted to find me a date was sweet as hell and I didn’t have the heart to shut her down. With any luck, whoever it was she had in mind would have better things to do on Valentine’s Day than come to an oldies but goodies party. I decided to hope for a no show.

I’d almost forgotten about it by the afternoon of the party. I took one last look around the community room and had to admit that we’d done a pretty good job on a shoestring. It’s amazing what you can do with balloons, crepe paper and a few well-placed tea lights. I straightened the collar of my best blue shirt.

Then my heart fell as I spotted a tall young woman standing in the doorway. I really hoped she was a new nurses’ aide or social worker come to join the festivities and not Mary Jane’s phantom pick for me. She was a good ten years too young and definitely on the wrong team.

A voice called, “Miranda.”

The young woman turned at the name and I recognized Mary Jane’s click-step tread coming down the hallway. I schooled my face, not wanting her to see how awkward and awful I felt. I really hoped Miranda and I wouldn’t have to have that conversation. With any luck, Mary Jane hadn’t clued her in on the plan.

I busied myself with a balloon bouquet and tried not to listen to their conversation. Mary Jane sounded peevish, though. I hoped there wasn’t a problem with the food preparation. I gave the air a surreptitious sniff but nothing smelled burned. Miranda bent down close to Mary Jane. They whispered back and forth while I fussed with the decorations, staying as far away from them as possible. It was unbelievably embarrassing. All I wanted to do was get out of there.

“Joe.” Mary Jane waved me over.

I put on my best professional smile and crossed the room, bracing myself for the awkward introduction. Which didn’t come. Instead, Mary Jane waved toward the foyer.

“My granddaughter left a tray of cookies in the car. Could you go get them, please?”

An escape. Relief coursed through me. I didn’t even stop to wonder why the granddaughter couldn’t get the cookies on her own, or try to figure out Mary Jane’s plan, but bolted from the room like it was on fire.

Outside the sun bathed the surrounding fields with a lovely late afternoon gold. The air was brisk, but not cold, and I wondered just how long I could linger before I had to go back in. I scanned the parking lot, realizing I had no idea what I was looking for.

Until I found it. A tall dark man leaned against the hood of a compact. The sunlight hit the smoke from his cigarette, lighting a halo around his head. My breath caught. He was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen.

I must have made a noise because he glanced over. He paused, as if startled to be seen. Then he smiled.

He stood and stubbed out the cigarette.

I walked a few paces closer.

His smile grew. “God, I hope your name is Joe.”

Simon, Miranda’s brother, turned out to be even sweeter than he looked. That was just the first of many holiday dances the two of us attended. Who knew the Valentine’s Day Fairy was an old lady who only wore pink? It’s never too late for love. Clap your hands if you believe.


The end


Walking the Trail

I have some friends I meet in town for coffee every Friday morning. It's about a fifteen minute walk from my house, mostly along an old railroad track that's been turned into a walking/biking/snowmobiling trail. I live in the lake country of northern Wisconsin. Back in the day, passenger train service built the tourist industry here. There used to be two trains a day from Chicago. I often think about how nice that would be. I love it here, but I'd love it even more if I was only a train ride away from the city.

Still, the old railway trail is a beautiful way to get into town and I walk it whenever possible. This morning the temperature was -10 F, colder with the wind. Nevertheless, I bundled up and trudged over, grateful for the moon on the way to town and the sun on the way home. It's such a pretty walk that about half the time I take a picture to post on Facebook. I can't tell you how many versions of this scene I have, one even made it onto the cover of Whistle Blower. And yet, again this morning I stopped to record and share it. 

There's that old homily about falling into the same pothole along the same route until you finally decide to go a different way. Maybe there's something to be learned from the opposite experience of going the same route every day and marveling at the ordinary beauty. I hope so, because I doubt I'll stop taking and sharing this picture. It just gets me every single time.


A holiday story

Every month I send out my newsletter with some news and a piece of flash fiction. I thought I'd share this month's story with you all since it's a sweet holiday piece. Those of you who get the News Flash have already read this. If you would like to sign up to get a little love in your inbox every month, I've included a place to sign up at the end.

This year's flash is a little bit Hanukkah and a little bit Christmas. I hope you enjoy.



Beating the Hanukkah Blues


The tyranny of Christmas – that’s what Mike was thinking as he crossed Main Street against the light. Once upon a time, just last week, he’d lived in New York, where the December

extravaganza was all about commerce, but where there were also plenty of dreidels and latkes to balance things out. Here in the middle of fucking nowhere Wisconsin, even the Chinese restaurants had signs saying they’d be closed for Christmas.

Last Friday, as his sister helped him load the last of his crap into a van, she’d asked him why he’d agreed to move into the wilderness. He’d made a lame joke about the diaspora but really, what was he doing? This town wasn’t exactly a mecca for gay Jews. So far it looked like Mike was the only one of either group. He sure hoped the job he’d come for was worth it.

And here he was, going into a big box store the week before Christmas. No matter where you lived, that was a crazy thing to do. But the new apartment needed stuff. With any luck, he’d be in and out in ten.

“Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas.” 

Mike jumped as a guy in a Santa suit boomed it out behind him.

Mike scowled at him, but the guy, who had very nice blue eyes under all that fake beard, just winked. “What do you want for Christmas, little boy?”

Mike stopped. Was Santa flirting with him? He peered at Santa, trying to see the man behind the costume. Despite the padding, the red suit and the fake hair, there was something very appealing about the guy.

But come on, it was Santa. Mike squared his shoulders. “The Salvation Army has a history of homophobia.”

“What can you do?” Santa shrugged. “It’s a small town.”

“Not really into Christmas.” Mike turned away. 

“So happy holidays,” Santa called.

Mike held up his hand in what he hoped was a cool, over the shoulder wave then went off in search of light bulbs, laundry soap and floor cleaner.

On the way out, Mike was disappointed to find a woman in a deep purple parka standing by the red Salvation Army bucket. It was those eyes, he decided – lapis blue with little laugh lines around them. This Santa wasn’t an old man, but he wasn’t twenty either, maybe fifteen years older than Mike, a thought that definitely clanged his daddy-kink bell. 


Mike’s shoulders ached. He stood and stretched. Enough with the cleaning and unpacking, he needed to get something to eat. No use looking in the refrigerator. If there was anything there it had been left by the last tenant and Mike didn’t want to open it up to check.

He slid on his jacket, grabbed his keys and headed out to see if anything was open at ten on a Sunday night. This wasn’t the land of twenty four hour take-out, but hopefully that didn’t mean he’d be stuck with a gas station hot dog.

As Mike drove through the quiet streets, he had to admit the lights were pretty against the snow. The neighborhood looked like a Christmas card, twinkly and cheesy and sort of appealing. 

He almost didn’t see the restaurant. A converted Victorian with a small sign out front – Vitolli’s pizzeria. It didn’t look like any kind of pizza place Mike had ever seen. The yard was meticulously landscaped and fairy lights lined the windows. Old fashioned blue, red and orange lights had transformed the giant pine by the doorway into a Christmas tree.

It was too classy looking to be open this late on a Sunday in a small town, so Mike almost drove on by. But then he spotted the electric menorah in the window with five bulbs glowing, the same number of candles that would have shown from Mike’s window if he’d managed to get the menorah unpacked. Above the candles, hung a hand lettered sign saying simply, “open”.
Mike parked and climbed out of his car, feeling a little like a moth drawn to the Hanukkah not-flames-but-bulbs. The image was amplified when a blast of hot, delicious air hit him as he opened the door. 

The place was empty. Mike kicked snow from his boots but kept his jacket on.  “Hello?”

A man stepped out from the back. At the sight of him, Mike straightened his shoulders. He resisted the impulse to run fingers through his hair to try to tame the curls.

The man smiled. “Well, hello there.” 

Mike tried not to stare. The man had dark hair with just a little gray at the temples. His skin was weathered, his features rugged and his body looked lean and fit under his long, white apron.

“Um, are you still open?” Mike shifted on his feet, trying to place what was so familiar about this guy’s face.

“I can be.” The man patted the bar in front of him. “Sit here and we’ll talk while I cook.” His eyes twinkled.

Mike sat. It was the eyes, that color. 

“Excuse me, but Santa?” He stuttered.

The guy laughed. “For someone who’s not into Christmas, you’re very observant.”

“So are you. I can’t believe you remember me.” Mike stuck out his hand. “Mike Greenberg.”

“Ephraim Vittoli. It isn’t every day that a handsome stranger comes to town and insults the Salvation Army. Although I gotta say it’s refreshing to know someone cares about homophobia.” His hand was warm in Mike’s. Mike didn’t want to let go.

When he finally did, his hand tingled with the memory. He stuck it in his jacket pocket. Two days in town and he was hitting on Santa?

He gestured to the window. “Ephraim and a menorah, don’t tell me you’re Jewish. I didn’t think there were any other Jews here.”

“Jewish and Italian, raised agnostic, I’m the town odd ball.” Ephraim leaned across the counter. He held Mike’s gaze. “So, Mike, what brings you to town?”

And now Santa was hitting on him. Mike leaned in. “I came for the job but I’m thinking of staying for the company.”

“Good answer.” Ephraim slid a menu across the counter. “Wait until you try the food.”
Mike smiled. Happy holidays indeed.

The end

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Equity strikes again


It can be hard to look at the news these days, at least here in the US where our political life has been taken over by trolls. So it was great to read some good news coming out of Australia, where marriage equity became the law yesterday. It got me thinking about the role of marriage in gay romance stories.

My first book, Moving in Rhythm, came out in early 2012. At that point marriage in the US was a mess, with same-sex marriage legal in a handful of states, outright banned in more and in still others "civil  unions" made up a hybrid sort of marriage-lite. It was possible for a couple to come down from Canada where they'd been legally married, and drive around down here going from married to single to married again as they crossed state lines. People in California didn't even need to move around to have their marital status change.

With everything in flux, it just didn't make sense to have a love story between two men end in marriage in 2012. My first wedding book was Bread, Salt and Wine, which came out in 2014. Because the story spans several years and takes place mostly in California, whether or not George and Kenny can marry remains in flux through most of the book. It's only been three years since then, but all that is already ancient history. As of today, that's true even in Australia.

It is a cliche that in straight romance, the story always ends with a ring. That hasn't been true in gay romance, but things are changing. For me, I'm still not ready to have wedding bells at the end of every book, but I'm ever so grateful for the choice. And I'm happy to be thinking good thoughts today.

Lots of free stuff

The weather is gray and cold here and it feels like a perfect time to hunker down with a good book. So I have a couple that I'm giving away.

Today and tomorrow (Nov 15 and 16), my Hanukkah story, Sacred Hearts, is free on Amazon just to start getting us all in the holiday spirit.

But wait, that's not all..... I'm part of a great giveaway on Instafreebie November 16-26. I'm giving away Learning from Isaac and there are books from lots of great gay romance writers like Charli CotyMissy Welsh and the incomparable Jordan Castillo Price. Check out the giveaway and collect a stack of books to while away these winter hours.



Life's a gamble. And David's partner has lost so much at the blackjack tables that David is forced to close their restaurant, the hippest little place in Portland. He sells everything and moves back home. But at thirty-five, he's not eager to sleep alone in his childhood bed. He needs to start over, maybe with someone like the elusive man who keeps showing up in his dreams. An old friend offers David a job catering a movie set in Puerto Vallarta. He stuffs his few remaining possessions in a backpack and takes the next flight down. 

All he has left are his dreams. And what dreams they are—tall, dark, and luscious. As Mexico prepares for Christmas, David lights Hanukkah candles, celebrating the return of the sun and wishing for true love. On the first night of Hanukkah, David meets a tall, dark stranger who rocks his world in a secluded moonlit cove. Is this the mystery man of his dreams—the answer to David's prayers or just another illusion? To find out, he’ll need to gamble everything, even the dream of true love.

Reading and writing with Pride

I'm so excited to be heading to Seattle for Read (and Write) with Pride (the conference formerly known as GRNW). In addition to a reading and the book fair, I get to participate in a panel titled : Writing Queer Romance in Turbulent Times: Escapism, Political Act, or Both? with CJane Elliott, Rick Read and Karelia Stetz-Waters  It should be a great conversation.

I'll be there on Friday 11/3 for Write with Pride and on Saturday 11/4 for Read with Pride. If you're in the Seattle area, I'd love to see you. Even if you're not....

Here's the event page. Check it out.


An invitation to my newsletter - and a flash

On the first Friday of every month, I send out a newsletter that I call Dev's News Flash which consists of a little bit of news and a new piece of flash fiction. If you're interested in getting an original story delivered to your inbox every month, here's a form to sign up. 

And here's this month's flash. I hope you enjoy it. It's called Russian Mark



“How did you meet Russian Mark?” The kid couldn’t have been more than 20. I envied the ease with which he sprawled in his chair.

“It’s a long story.” I pushed the plate of muffins toward him. God knew someone ought to be able to eat them. At my age I couldn’t afford the extra calories.

“I’ve got all afternoon.” The kid stuffed half a muffin into his mouth.

I took a sip of coffee. “It all started because my friend Cassie thought I should get a dog.”

I remembered it was raining that April morning when Cassie showed up at my house. She’d thrust a fancy coffee at me and pushed her way in.

“Mark, we have to talk.” She eyed the scattering of fast food detritus that surrounded my couch.

“I’m still healing,” I’d pleaded as I made a half-hearted effort to clear away the clutter. Half-hearted had been the best I could do since my latest boyfriend moved out.

“He wasn’t worth this much misery.” Cassie scooped up a potato chip bag and several takeout food containers and tossed them in the kitchen garbage.

I trailed after her, holding a single empty candy bar wrapper. “You’re right. But they’ve all been awful. I’m done with men. I just have to come to terms with the fact that I’m doomed to be alone.”

She put her hands on her hips and stared at me. “What are you talking about? You’re not even thirty. You’re a healthy, reasonably attractive man. You just haven’t met the right guy.”

“All I ever meet are losers and alcoholics. I can’t take it anymore,” I whined as I sank onto a barstool at the kitchen counter.

Cassie leaned toward me, across the kitchen counter. “If the only places you go to find men are dive bars, how the fuck are you going to meet anything else?”

“You don’t understand.” I put my head in my hands. “It’s easy for you. You can meet women all over. That’s what women do, they congregate. Men aren’t like that. Single men have to go to bars to look for other single, or not so single, men. Where else am I supposed to meet guys?”

Cassie smiled. “You need a dog.”

“A dog?” I pulled my head up and stared at her. Even for Cassie, this was a stretch.

“Walking around with a dog is a great way to meet people.”

“You want me to get a dog so I can meet men. That’s no reason to get a pet. It’s a big responsibility.”

 “You own your own house and work from home. There’s no reason you can’t have a dog.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “And you’re always talking about how much you miss the dog you grew up with.”

I had to give her that one. “He was a great dog.”

Cassie gestured to my depression nest on the couch. “Look, maybe a dog won’t help you meet the right man. But what’s the worst that could happen? Even if you don’t meet the right guy, you’ll have a dog. And from where I’m standing, it looks like you could use some companionship. I say we head over to the shelter right now and find you some unconditional love.”

“Unconditional love.” I thought of my childhood dog and how happy he’d been every time I entered the room. “Yeah. I guess I could use some of that.”

“So that’s where you met Russian Mark?” The kid jolted me out of my story.

I shook my head. “I told you, it’s a very long story.”

Gigi was a dirty white bichon chihuahua mix, all fluff, shake and attitude. It was love at first sight. It was clear to me that her first two years had been even worse than my twenty-eight. Taking care of her pulled me right out of my depression. Soon, we’d established a routine –we walked around the block after breakfast, lunch and dinner, she slept on a chair by my desk as I worked, I scratched her belly as we watched TV, and she slept on my feet every night.

I wasn’t as lonely as I had been, but I was just as isolated as before.

When Gigi came to me, she was afraid of a lot of things. Over our first few months together, she started to relax around the regular terrors of a knock at the door, the telephone ringing, dust bunnies skittering out from in front of a broom. But she just couldn’t get comfortable around other dogs. When we ran into the dachshund that lived two doors down, Gigi would cower behind me, so we started skirting around that house on our walks.

“Maybe she needs more exposure, not less.” Cassie told me when she came over to dinner one night. “Deliberately keeping her away from other dogs can’t be helping. How about taking her to puppy classes?”

I looked down at Gigi, who was curled in my lap. “She’d be terrified.”

Cassie frowned in frustration. “When I suggested you get a dog, I didn’t mean you should use it as just one more excuse to never leave the house.”

“We leave the house. We go to the grocery store and the post office, not to mention all our walks around the block.”

“Just try one class. Gigi will thank you for it.”

The kid sat up in his chair. “And Russian Mark was at that class?”

I shook my head. “We never went. I just couldn’t subject her to the stress of a class. But one day, I read about a new dog park being built just down the street from my house.”

It had been the announcement that the new dog park would have a separate space for small dogs, that’s what caught my attention. I thought that if all the dogs were her size, she might get used to them. And I had to admit Cassie had a point. We needed to get out more.

It had been a warm July morning when Gigi and I drove to the dog park. There was only one other car in the parking lot when I pulled in. I eyed the section for small dogs. It was empty, just like I’d hoped it would be. I wanted to give Gigi time to get used to the space, smell the other dogs and relax before we had to confront anyone else. I carried her through the double gates and set her down on the wet grass to explore.

In the distance, in the large dog section, I saw a man tossing a ball with what looked like a Great Dane. The dog and the man looked like they matched – both tall and thin. The Dane bounded after the ball with great loping strides, but it was the man who captured my attention.

The kid grinned. “Russian Mark?”

I nodded. “Russian Mark. Only back then he was just Mark, newly arrived from Russia.”

“And you met that day at the park?”

I shook my head. “Not that day. It took a long time. Gigi and I went to the park the same time every day and watched them from a distance.”

The truth was, it had become something of an obsession as I tried to time our trips to the park to coincide with his. Some days I had barely noticed him because I was busy holding Gigi and letting her get acquainted with another dog from the safety of my arms. I’d look up, and the man with the Great Dane would be gone. I hated the sinking feeling of those days.

Then, one cool October morning we’d arrived just as the man and his dog were getting out of their car.

“Morning.” I think I blushed as I said it. I held my breath waiting for him to answer.

“Good morning.” His accent was thick. And sexy.

Up close he was even more handsome that he’d looked from a distance. Tall, dark, with a shy smile that grabbed me deep in my guts. Neither of us moved toward the entrance to the dog park. I held Gigi close but for some reason she wasn’t shaking, even though the Great Dane was only a few feet away.

I cleared my throat. “I’ve seen you here before. I think we come around the same time.”

“Yes. Every day.” He held out his hand. “I am Mark. It is nice to meet you.”

“Oh.” I blinked at him. “I’m Mark, too.” Our hands touched. It was a long time before either of us let go.

I smiled at the young man sprawled across a chair in our living room. “And that is when I became Mark G and he became Russian Mark. And the rest, as you said, is history.”

“What about the dogs? Was Gigi okay with the Dane?”

I laughed. “They were best friends from the start. It turned out Gigi was only afraid of other small dogs. She loved the big ones. We never went into the small dog section again.”

The sound of the front door opening was followed by the thunder of three dogs galloping through the hallway and into the living room.

Mark appeared in the doorway, looking just as handsome at 65 as he had at 30. “Have you finished your interview?” His accent had softened over the years, but it still got to me. “I hope you told him that after all these years you still want to marry me, because now it is time to get dressed.”

“Good.” The kid sprang up. “I wanted to get a couple pictures of the two of you in your tuxes. But first, do you have any relationship advice for the younger generation?”

Mark met my gaze and smiled. “I’m sure Mark G told you the most important thing. You should always have a dog.”


The End

Making Home - coming out 10/3/2017

I'm so excited to announce that my newest book comes out tomorrow! It's a novella, the first in a new series set among the faculty and staff at Bay Valley U. Making Home is the story of two men with very different histories who have to figure out how to make a future together. This beautiful cover was created by  Fiona Jayde.

In his real life, Manu Contrares makes a decent living as a videographer in New York. But when his mother goes into hospice, he heads home to Bay Valley to help take care of her and ends up back at his first job on the janitorial staff of the local college. It feels like a long step down for a proud Hispanic man.

Chris Hall loves teaching but hates research. That’s becoming a big problem because his third-year faculty review is coming up and if he doesn’t make something happen soon, he’ll be out. He’s spending his nights working in the lab on a Hail Mary attempt to save his job.

When the two men meet, it’s explosive. And complicated. Chris is lily-white and culturally tone-deaf and Manu’s only in town for a short stay. It’s a recipe for heartbreak. Still, the pull between them is too strong for either to ignore. Can they overcome their different backgrounds and somehow surmount the geographical problems, or is this a fling that will leave them both more exhausted and lonely than before?

Have a happy, healthy New Year

In honor of Rosh Hashanah,  the Jewish New Year starting on Sept 21, Fields of Gold will be free on Amazon 9/22-25. Fields of Gold is the second in the Tarnished Souls series (you can get the first one, Learning From Isaac for free by signing up for my newsletter on Instafreebie). Tarnished Souls is a series of Jewish holiday romances. (yeah, I know, who knew that was a thing?). Learning from Isaac is the Passover story and Fields of Gold centers around the Rosh Hashanah themes of forgiveness and redemption.

Here's the blurb:

Politics has always been a dirty business. Avi knows all about that—after all, not only has he been studying historical compromises and intrigues, he has been sleeping with his very own corrupt politician. The affair used to be about love, but lately Avi’s going through the motions, waiting for the day when he completes his dissertation and finds a job far, far away.

Waiting for that day to come, he has put his life on hold and gets jolted awake when he meets Pete, a tall blond farmer who charms Avi with his dazzling smile and his straightforward life. Except Avi knows that even an organic farmer can have an agenda and if something is too good to be true, it is time to get suspicious. Is this just another nightmare or can Avi leave his doubts behind, learn to trust and find a life in the sun?

Check it out for free from Sept 21 to Sept 25. My New Years gift to all of you. L'Shana Tova.


Helping out


I'm a diver and a swimmer and being underwater is one of my very favorite things. I live in a very part of the world - this county has 10,000 lakes. (Most are tiny, but still....) I love the taste of our well water and the greenness of our vegetation. Here, a heavy rain in the summer just means I don't need to water the garden for a few days. All in all, I love water.

Spending time on (or in) one of the lake up here it's easy to forget that water can be dangerous and even deadly. Then I turn on the news. It seems like the world is swamped in watery disasters lately. So I thought I'd dedicate this week's blog to reprinting information on how to help out victims of the flooding in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Texas.

The New York times has a nice article on donating to Harvey victims, listing national and local charities including the LGBT Disaster Relief Fund. Consumer Reports also has a list, and some tips for avoiding frauds

The flooding in South East Asia this monsoon season  has been horrific, over a thousand people have been killed. The Independent has some information on the monsoon flooding and some donation suggestions, including Oxfam. The Red Cross/Red Crescent is working on all fronts, a sort of one stop donation point.

It's hard to take in the devastation water has been wreaking this summer. And it's difficult to know how to help. I'll be donating a little cash to help out. It seems like the least I can do. 


Cooler times

It's still August and in most of the northern hemisphere, that means summer is still going full blast. Here in Northern Wisconsin, it's cooling down. Which puts me in the mood for bulky sweaters and boots and quiet. 

Our summer is short, but frantic. Folks visit, we swim and bike and walk and spend every possible moment outside. I love it. But I also love when the end of August rolls around and everything quiets down. For one thing, I can get back to my keyboard. It's hard to carve out the time to work when the house is full and the lake calls.

Fall must be coming because I started a new book yesterday. It's the second in the Bay City University series (the first - Making Home - is coming out sometime this fall). This one is a later in life love story and you know how much I love those. 

Every season has it's blessings. I'll miss the warm weather, but this is a sweet time, too. 


Interesting times

My inbox is filled with a wide variety of repudiations of Nazism and calls for everyone to renounce white nationalism and commentary on the need to resist fascism and, while I have witnessed the steps it took to get us here, I still can't believe it. 

I lived in the western US during the 1980's and 1990's and watched the rise and fall of groups of crazy, violent bigots. What a relief when the Southern Poverty Law Center took down the Aryan Nations and we could all breathe a little more easily.

Or not.

Because here we are 20 years later and I'm getting emails from people like my boss telling me they don't think it's okay to be a Nazi. You'd think that would go without saying. But I guess it doesn't. So just in case you were wondering, not only do I think Nazi's are abhorrent, I think Black lives matter and Trans lives matter and Gay and Lesbian lives matter and your life matters just as much as mine and vice-versa. I'm not sure that Anne Frank was right that we're all good at heart, but I know that it's what we should strive for.

As you all know, I like to garden. Growing food in my little organic plot has taught me that there's strength in diversity. Growing just one kind of plant breeds disease and attracts pests. And makes for very boring dinners. The same is true with people - too much sameness leads to the disease of bigotry and attracts violent, destructive pests.

Let's hope this is the final eruption of this shit. 




It'll be better when it's better

I love a good redemption story. I go weak in the knees when the hero stumbles, makes big mistakes, and somehow finds his way back. There's nothing quite as satisfying as a generally good guy who self-destructs in a big way before figuring out how to make his life better than before, preferably all tied in with a nice romantic happy ever after.

Redemption stories, or at least the opportunity for that kind of story, are all around us. I've known plenty of people who made a big mess of their lives using alcohol or drugs or gambling or spending or sex or food. Modern life seems filled with addictions of various kinds. Sometimes addictions are benign, other times they're a train wreck. Maybe that's part of why I like redemption stories so much, most of the destructive narratives I see in real life don't end well. Thank God for fiction.

Studies show that novel reading makes us more empathetic. Maybe it's because they train us to believe that it's never too late, that love is just around the corner and it's all going to be okay. And in the end, even if everything isn't okay, isn't it better to believe in the possibilities of redemption for ourselves and for those around us? I think so. 

But then I would.

How about you?

A good predator is hard to find


There are rabbits in my garden. Lots of them. It's a community garden, so there are plenty of opinions about what to do. We tried live trapping, but some folks think that puts the poor bunnies at risk. I think not trapping them is endangering my beans, but that's a discussion for another time. In the meantime, we've reinforced the fence and are doing our best to keep the damned things out. What I'd really like to do is build a perch tall enough to attract a hawk or owl or eagle to eat or scare away all the bunnies and chipmunks and mice. 

Life isn't supposed to always be sweet and cuddly. The fox I saw trotting down the road with a small animal clamped in it's mouth was just another parent taking food back to the kits. I hope that dinner didn't involve a neighbor's cat, but I can't really blame the fox if it did. She's got to feed her babies.

All this death and destruction got me thinking about the editing process. It isn't always pretty. For the most part, I'd rather not add that extra scene or take out that wonderful anecdote or tighten up loose plot points or characters. But I know from experience that without a hawk-eyed editor, my stories can get as stunted as those half-eaten beans. If I insist that editors treat me gently, the story (and eventually the readers) will suffer.

I could extend this hawk metaphor further - talk about how editors can step back from a manuscript and see clearly just like eagles sitting on a perch - but I think you get the point. And I'm betting that those are the bits any sharp-eyed editor would pluck from this blog post anyway. I will say that anyone who tries to edit their own work is likely to end up running around in circles like I did the other day as I tried to chase a rabbit out of the garden. The slippery devil slid under a spot in the fence where I didn't know it could go. I did learn something that helped me plug one more hole, but I didn't solve the problem. At least not as effectively as a wise old owl would. 

Everything needs a little pruning. Even if it hurts.