Category Archives: Writing

MUSIC BOX Novel and VALENTINE SHOWER Short Story Available for Pre-Order

The rollout continues! I’ve got two projects coming out in the next few weeks. My novel Music Box will be out on January 20, 2014, and is available for pre-order now in e-book or paperback. Here’s the blurb:

Music BoxWhen bullies chase Jonah Winfield to the front step of Avakian Music, owner Davoud Avakian intervenes and offers Jonah sanctuary among the lush chords of the Music Box’s Steinway Grand. Jonah’s sexuality isn’t a problem for Avakian, but it’s an issue the kids at school won’t allow Jonah to forget—whether he’s ready to deal with it or not. When the bullying escalates to violence, Jonah’s favorite music teacher, Mr. Gaston, wants to take the bullies to the principal.

Speaking up for his favorite student may bring Paul Gaston’s own sexuality up for debate, and with budget cuts looming, he’s already on shaky ground. Forcing Jonah to do anything will only make matters worse. Getting Jonah’s cooperation requires earning his trust and helping to preserve the sanctuary of the Music Box. But the generations old music store handed down to Davoud is on the verge of bankruptcy. If Paul and Davoud can’t figure out how to turn the business around, everyone will feel the loss.

Valentine Show coverIf you want more, my short story Valentine Shower (originally titled Blue Valentine) will be out on February 12, 2014. It’s also available for pre-order now. Valentine Shower is part of a new e-book anthology from Dreamspinner Press called A Valentine Rainbow. Here’s the blurb for my story:

For Reuben, numbers are everything people are not: rational, predictable, and soothing. Outside of this family, his boss, Terry, is the one person he feels connected with. In the years they’ve worked together, listening to Terry’s jokes and stories over coffee has become a reliable part of his routine. But he’s missed having family nearby since his parents retired to Florida, and figures he’ll need a woman to correct the problem. He’s hurt and confused when Terry not only refuses to help, but announces he won’t be coming around much anymore. It’s up to Reuben’s no-nonsense sister Yaffa and his therapist, Dr. Greenberg, to help him understand Terry’s feelings—and his own. 

I hope you enjoy them both!

Santa Arrives a Day Late: MUSIC BOX Available for Pre-order

Today was a great day. This morning, I walked to a nearby coffee shop and watched the passing crowd while editing one scene in my current novel, writing another, and making notes on four more.

This afternoon, my brother and I went to see Gamble House, an enchanting example of the American Arts and Crafts style designed by architects Charles and Henry Greene.

Gamble House

Gamble House, Pasadena, CA

While I was sitting on a bench taking in the exterior of the house, the news came through that my novel MUSIC BOX has hit the Coming Soon page on the Dreamspinner Press website. Music BoxIt’s available for pre-order now, in e-book or paperback form, and will be in stock on January 20.

I couldn’t ask for a better Christmas present.

MUSIC BOX gets a Cover

The editorial process for MUSIC BOX is well underway, and we’ll be starting work on BLUE VALENTINE soon. In the mean time, here’s a preview of Reese Dante’s new cover for MUSIC BOX.

Music Box Cover

A Contract for BLUE VALENTINE

Yay! I’ve just signed a new contract with Dreamspinner Press for publication of my story, Blue Valentine.

Launch Day for THE DOOR BEHIND US

Today is launch day! The Door Behind Us is available for purchase and download today at Dreamspinner Press. The Kindle version is up on Amazon.

The Door Behind Us Cover

Available today!

I first heard Jersey’s voice in 2009 when I woke from a dream with him in my head. I was so taken with his voice and story that I had to get up and take notes. I hope others will find him as compelling.

THE DOOR BEHIND US Available for Pre-Order at Dreamspinner Press

The Door Behind Us Cover

Available now from Dreamspinner Press

It’s 1919, and Frank Huddleston has survived the battlefields of the Great War. A serious head injury has left him with amnesia so profound he must re-learn his name every morning from a note posted on the privy door.

Gerald “Jersey” Rohn, joined the Army because he wanted to feel like a man, but he returned from the trenches minus a leg and with no goal for his life. He’s plagued by the nightmare of his best friend’s death and has nervous fits, but refuses to associate those things with battle fatigue. He can’t work his father’s farm, so he takes a job supervising Frank, who is working his grandparents’ farm despite his head injury.

When Frank recovers enough to ask about his past, he discovers his grandparents know almost nothing about him, and they’re lying about what they do know. The men set out to discover Frank’s past and get Jersey a prosthesis. They soon begin to care for each other, but they’ll need to trust their hearts and put their pasts to rest if they are to turn attraction into a loving future.

Available now for pre-order in e-book or paperback from Dreamspinner Press. Release date: October 14, 2013.

Dreamspinner Press to Publish MUSIC BOX

I just signed a contract with Dreamspinner for publication of Music Box next winter!

A New Ending for MUSIC BOX

I recently worked on the ending to my latest novel, Music Box. The original ending had a new music group preparing to go on stage for the first time. They were worried about the size of their audience and whether their loved ones would show. It did many things that you want an ending to do. It was upbeat, and it suggested a new beginning, while still leaving a few unresolved issues to keep the reader interested. (Always leave the reader wanting more.) It reminded the reader of the journey the main characters had made. It suggested a future while leaving some ambiguity and room for doubt. Since this was a romance, it was optimistic. All in all, it was not bad for a first draft.

Somehow it fell flat. What I’d failed to do, I finally decided, was to get into the head of the main character, Jonah.

Jonah has been a challenge to write. He’s a teenager. I’m a middle-aged man. He’s just coming to terms with his sexuality. I came out in the mid-eighties. Jonah is forced to deal with his attraction to men by bullies who are certain of his sexuality before he is. He tends to go into denial, to not think about his problems until events force him to play the hand he’s been dealt. Jonah has never been one to delve too deeply into his own head. If I simply had him think about his new circumstances, I would risk taking him out of character.

I needed to show Jonah’s reaction to his new circumstances. My solution retained the basic scene and added some interior monologue, but I also used Jonah’s perceptions to hint at his interior state. I placed the image of two older men who have recently entered into a relationship into juxtaposition with some innocuous dialog. Jonah’s comment, “I’m ready,” is given greater import by its context. It’s not exactly subtle, but I hope most readers will get the message without noticing the mechanism.

THE DOOR BEHIND US to be Published by Dreamspinner Press

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for the publication of my second novel, The Door Behind Us. No dates or details yet. Publication is sure to be many months out. Nevertheless, I’m delighted to be working with the folks at Dreamspinner.

I’ve also made progress with Music Box. The initial edits complete, I sent the novel out for comment last week. I’ll put it aside for a while so that I’ll have fresh eyes when I next work on it.

My current project is to restructure and expand the 50,000 word draft of Blame the Family–my first foray into the detective genre–which I put aside some months ago. I was stymied for a while deciding how to handle some material related to the antagonist, but the break proved helpful. I’ve got an idea how to move forward.

Choosing an End

I’ve just rewritten the ending to my new novel, Music Box. I have been thinking of this book as a romance, however serious the subject matter of bullying. In the romance genre, of course, there are two main protagonists who fall in love, and there is a happy ending. However, Music Box diverged from this model early on, when I decided to have three main protagonists and three point of view characters:

  • Jonah, a boy who is being bullied in school;
  • Paul, the high school music teacher; and
  • Davoud, the owner of the local music store.

Originally, Paul and Davoud were to come together over their mutual interest in helping Jonah. Things went somewhat afield when Jonah managed to develop a crush on another student, Billy. While Billy isn’t a POV character, he’s now a more prominent character, and his relationship with Jonah is now a major sub-plot.

Still stuck on the idea that I was writing a romance, my original ending had Paul and Davoud happily engaged, Jonah and Billy at a point of mutual understanding, and the bullying situation more-or-less resolved. However, once I had a complete draft of the novel, I found that I was not satisfied with the resolution of the bullying issue. That is what I just changed, for the better I think. One thing is clear, this is no longer a traditional romance. Hopefully, it is a better novel for all that.