What’s Kim Reading Now? Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

This may come as a shock to you, but I read in genres other than m/m romance. And Stephen King is an old favorite of mine. Back when I was an impoverished student, his were pretty much the only books I’d buy as soon as they were released, and I’d stay up late to gobble them down. I’ve read him less diligently in recent years–my fault, not his. But when I was looking for an audiobook to spice up my walks, how could I resist a sequel to The Shining?

I did listen to his book rather than reading it, which presents a somewhat different experience. The narrator was terrific, dealing adeptly with the many character voices. I especially liked how he managed female characters–including a main character who’s a child–without using falsetto or other annoying tricks.

And I enjoyed the book as a whole. I don’t think it’s his best; it wasn’t as scary as I’d hoped. The suspense wasn’t quite as tight. I got the feeling King couldn’t bring himself to put a girl in too much danger. And the plot, as usual with King, was okay but nothing spectacular. Where he really shines (Hah! Pun!) is how he writes his characters. They feel real, even if they play only a minor part. And Mr. King can just plain write–he can tell any tale well.

Because I’m so often engrossed in writing and the editing process myself, I don’t read the same way I used to. I pay more attention to the mechanics. And I noticed a few minor slips that I know my editors would have caught. Nothing wrong, per se. Just some passages that needed a bit of tightening up. But then, I’m not Stephen King.

The book gave a satisfying conclusion to the story begun in The Shining, and it was a fine companion for many miles of walking.

Blast from the Past: Pukawiss the Outcast by Jay Jordan Hawke

Blast from the Past

 Pukawiss - 200ppi

Title: Pukawiss the Outcast

Author: Jay Jordan Hawke

Series: The Two-spirit Chronicles: Book One

Publication Date: January 15, 2014

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title


Pukawiss the Outcast is the first book in my series, The Two-spirit Chronicles published by Harmony Ink Press. A two-spirit is a concept by Native Americans to explain the wide spectrum of human sexuality, including gay people. In Ojibwe traditions, a two-spirit was believed to be very special. They were considered especially strong prophetic dreamers. I thought it would be interesting to explore this phenomena in the modern world. My lead protagonist, Joshua Ishkoday, grapples with both his sexuality and the strange talent for dreaming that comes with it. The sequel, A Scout is Brave, was just released by Harmony Ink Press and develops that idea further. It’s set in Boy Scout camp, so Joshua has to deal with the additional nightmare of anti-gay bigotry. The main point of the series is to highlight the sharply contrasting ways in which gay people are treated in society. Christianity has historically condemned gay people. But if you study other traditions, you quickly learn that such approaches are not universal. I would like my readers to understand that the stigma against homosexuality is the only thing that is not natural or universal. Pukawiss the Outcast celebrates a very common Native American tradition that venerates gay people. It may seem like the whole world, and all of history, is against you. But that simply is not true. Imagine living in a world where as a gay person you are considered something extra special—that you are in fact touched by God. That’s a radically different world from the one most gay teens grow up in today. I want people to see what that is like through the eyes of my teen protagonist.

Blurb: When family complications take Joshua away from his fundamentalist Christian mother and leave him with his grandfather, he finds himself immersed in a mysterious and magical world. Joshua’s grandfather is a Wisconsin Ojibwe Indian who, along with an array of quirky characters, runs a recreated sixteenth-century village for the tourists who visit the reservation. Joshua’s mother kept him from his Ojibwe heritage, so living on the reservation is liberating for him. The more he learns about Ojibwe traditions, the more he feels at home.

One Ojibwe legend in particular captivates him. Pukawiss was a powerful manitou known for introducing dance to his people, and his nontraditional lifestyle inspires Joshua to embrace both his burgeoning sexuality and his status as an outcast. Ultimately, Joshua summons the courage necessary to reject his strict upbringing and to accept the mysterious path set before him.

Author’s Bio:


Jay Jordan Hawke holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in history, as well as a second master’s in Outdoor Education. He loves everything sci-fi, especially Star Trek, and hopes to be on the first starship out of here. In the meantime, he teaches at a college prep school and anxiously awaits the day when he can write full time. His hobbies include camping, reading, running, and writing. He currently lives in Indiana.


Buy Links:


Pukawiss the Outcast:


Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Pukawiss-The-Outcast-Jordan-Hawke-ebook/dp/B00HVRDADY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390435829&sr=8-1&keywords=Pukawiss+the+Outcast

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Pukawiss-Outcast-Jay-Jordan-Hawke/dp/1627986464/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1390434814&sr=8-1&keywords=Pukawiss+the+Outcast


A Scout is Brave:







Excerpt from Pukawiss the Outcast:


“He’s been acting weird,” Mokwa said to Jenny.

“Yeah, well, there is a reason for that,” Jenny responded. “And it’s why I wanted to talk with you alone.”

“Jealous of all my quality alone time with Joshua?” Mokwa teased.

Jenny simply ignored the insinuation. “Listen, haven’t you noticed that something was—” She paused for a second before continuing. “—a bit off about Joshua at the pizza place?”

Mokwa wanted to answer “no,” but he knew by now that when Jenny asked him questions like that, she already had the one correct answer in mind. His only real option was to listen to it.

“What do you mean?” he asked, figuring he couldn’t go wrong with a question.

“With Kiwi?” Jenny said, as though it were obvious. “Seriously, you didn’t notice?”

“He seemed to be having a great time,” Mokwa pointed out, realizing that it was the wrong answer even as he said it.

“Around you, maybe,” Jenny asserted.

“He’s my bro; of course he has a good time around me.”

“But not around Kiwi!” she said forcefully, making an obvious point. “Joshua wasn’t even upset that she was just using him to make Black Crow jealous.”

“What are you saying?” Mokwa asked, just wanting to get the confusion over with.

“I think Joshua is a two-spirit,” Jenny said calmly.

“Two-spirit? No way.” Mokwa chuckled at the notion. “I’d totally know.”

“Way,” Jenny responded. “And you’re too clueless to know anything.”

“No, he was just being shy around Kiwi. He’ll open up eventually.”

“Look,” Jenny said. “What typical teenage boy has no interest in the most beautiful girl in Wisconsin when she practically throws herself at him?”

“Yeah, Kiwi is definitely a fox!” Mokwa agreed. He looked lost in thought.

Jenny hit Mokwa on the shoulder. “I’m being serious.”

“Ouch, okay, sorry. Me too. This is me being serious.” Mokwa molded his face, attempting to clone Little Deer’s stoic expression.

Jenny broke out in laughter. “I can’t stay mad at you,” she teased. “But really, what about Joshua?”

“Fine, I’ll ask him about it. We’re like brothers. He’ll tell me anything.”

“Oh my God, Mokwa, you can’t just ask him!” she said as if Mokwa were an idiot.

“Why not?”

“Because he’s probably not comfortable with it.” Again, Jenny sounded like she was explaining the obvious to Mokwa.

“He did say his mother was crazy antigay,” Mokwa recalled.

“There is something else,” she said, quieting down a bit.

“What else?”

“You shouldn’t flirt with him.”

“Oh my God, you really are jealous of Joshua!” Mokwa teased. “You should be,” he added, as his facial expression got really serious.

“You really don’t get it, do you?”

“Wow, just tell me,” Mokwa insisted, tired of playing this game.

“He’s got a crush on you.”

“No way! Pukawiss is my brother, that’s all,” Mokwa pointed out, dismissing Jenny’s apparent revelation.

“You have no idea how hot you are.”

“Well, when you put it that way, I guess it does make sense,” he finally agreed.

“So you’ve got to be careful around him.”


“Yeah, you are such a tease, and you don’t even realize it.”

“I can’t help it.”

“I know you can’t,” she said. “It’s why I love you so much.”

“Okay, I’ll try. Any more insights to share?” he teased.

“Just a command. Stay the hell away from Kiwi!”

“Why don’t you tell me to stay away from Joshua?” Mokwa replied.

“Because that’s hot,” Jenny joked.

“If I stay away from Kiwi, can I still flirt with Joshua?”

Jenny hit him again.

“Ouch,” Mokwa said. “Sheesh.”


Ooh, That’s Interesting!: Ajvar

Things have been quiet here on the blog as I finished the first draft of my 13th novel, Rattlesnake. I also had two laptop meltdowns and a traumatic phone upgrade, all of which have sucked away far too much of my time. I’m planning a (probably quarterly) newsletter in the near future, with excerpts, free stories, updates, contests, etc. You can sign up using the form off to the right or by going here: http://eepurl.com/bau3S9.

So let’s talk about ajvar.


It’s pronounced ahy-vahr. I believe it’s native to Serbia, but it’s also very commonly eaten in Croatia, where I’ve lived. It’s made of roasted red peppers, eggplant, and spices, and is used as a relish or spread. I like it on a sandwich or on roast chicken, or just eaten beside the main course. You can get it in varying degrees of sweetness and spiciness. My small neighborhood groceries in Zagreb always had a large selection, but since my understanding of the language is rudimentary, I usually just chose a jar at random. A lot of people make their own, and I can tell you that homemade ajvar is especially delicious.

Unless you have a Balkan grocery store near you, ajvar is fairly hard to come by outside of that region. I did see some jars of Bulgarian ajvar during my last trip to CostPlus, an import store here in California. The jar in the photo is a Croatian brand.

If you’re not familiar with foods from the region, I’d describe ajvar as sort of like salsa or chutney, but not quite.Which gets me thinking about foods that are specific to a place and hard for anyone else to understand. Like peanut butter. Although it’s a sandwich staple in the US, every European I’ve spoke to finds the concept odd. (I tell them it’s sort of like Nutella minus the chocolate, but that doesn’t help much.) Ketchup is apparently mysterious in some places too. Once, when I was in Ljubljana, Slovenia, our waiter sussed out that we were Americans and proudly brought us a bottle of ketchup. We were eating pizza.

I think nearly every place has some food like this–something beloved to the locals but puzzling or unknown to everyone else. What are some of the foods like this in your region?

Blast from the Past: Fortunes of War

Guest review by Christopher Hawthorne Moss!

Fortunes of War by Mel Keegan

Blurb:  In 1588 a young mercenary and the son of an English earl meet by a quirk of fate. Dermot Channon is a soldier, while Robin Armagh has been sheltered on his father’s estate. Love blossoms fast while war looms on the horizon. Under the thundercloud of armed conflict, Channon leaves England and the Spanish Armada sails soon after. Robin despairs of seeing him again, for their countries are locked in an endless struggle. Years fly by, and in 1595, when Robin’s brother is taken for ransom in Panama, the dangerous duty of delivering the price of his life and liberty falls to Robin. He sails with the historical ‘1595 Fleet,’ commanded by Francis Drake, hoping to bring home his brother. But Fortune has other plans for Robin and Channon. Ahead of them is a an epic adventure in hazardous waters where old enmities, Spanish and English, shape their future together — and try to drive them apart.
My comment: 
This is the first MM novel I ever heard of.  My friend and author Brandy Purdy told me about it.   I was astonished.  I didn’t even know the genre existed.  It was a fateful day that I read it, since in the more than ten years since I have gone through a major transformation, getting into reading and writing MM romance and ultimately figuring out that I am a gay transgender man.  The author, Mel Keegan, is now my very good friend and started the GLBT Bookshelf at www.glbtbokshelf.com that I will ultimately take over when he retires.  If I have read and reviewed your book, it’s because I read and reviewed FORTUNES OF WAR all those years ago. 
Fortunes of War
Mel KeeganDermot Shannon is the bodyguard of the Spanish Ambassador in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. After someone tries to poison the ambassador, Shannon accompanies him to the country estate of Robert Armagh, a Catholic bent on revenge for the murder of his pretty wife. There Shannon meets Armagh’s son, Robin, and it is love, almost, at first sight. Robin is young, starved for a father’s approval and affection, and ripe for the picking. What Shannon didn’t count on was falling in love.

Sadly the two must part, because England and Spain are now at war. While his dashing lover goes back to Spain to fight for that country, Robin leaves the family estate for London and a new life. Before he can leave, though, his father gets wind of his tryst with the Hiberno-Spaniard and has the crap beat out of him by the priests. In London he gets work as a cartographer, pines for Shannon, fears he is dead and then concludes he had never been more than a boy toy for Shannon, and gives up and marries the boss’s daughter. When his brother is held in the Caribbean for ransom, he takes ship only to find himself captured by… Shannon! The rest of the story is kissing and making up, fighting rival privateers, lots of swash to buckle, and lots of graphic sex.

So… love, longing, swashbuckling, pirates, sex… what’s not to love? This novel is not meant to be painstakingly historically accurate, but Keegan seems to have the spirit of Elizabethan politics and war in his hands. It’s a sweet love story for the most part, though the desertion of wife and kids by Robin is only topped by his decision to marry and have kids when he should have known better. There is an awful lot of the use of the word “boys” in this novel, but never fear… it really means older boys.. young men.. I hope. In reality, boys it might be, but you know how people will talk.

I’m glad I read it, can see why Brandy Purdy recommended it, it being her era and m/m and all. I was just happy to find it on Kindle, so I bought it, had it sent to my Kindle, and enjoyed a good entertaining read.

Happy New Year!


I spent my exciting New Year’s Eve working on my WIP, my 13th novel. How about you?

I have a new project planned for this year: a newsletter. I hope to send it out quarterly or so. I promise I won’t clog your email inbox with spam! The newsletter will contain updates on my new releases, sneak peeks of works in progress, free short stories, contests, and whatever else I can think of to entertain you. It’s quick and easy to sign up. Just click here or fill in the form in the sidebar to your right. And if there’s anything special you’d like to see in the first newsletter, please let me know.

2014 was a busy year! I published 3 novels (Pilgrimage, Motel. Pool., and Bone Dry) and 3 novellas (“The Pillar”, “The Golem of Mala Lubovnya”, and “The Dance”), and some short stories. I had translations released in German, French, and Spanish. Three of my books came out in audio format.

And of course I worked on more. I currently have two novellas set for publication this spring (one of them will be in the third Gothika anthology, Claw. It has a werewolf theme!). I recently submitted my 12th novel and I’m almost done with the first draft of the 13th. Several French translations and another audiobook are currently in the works.

I also updated my website and started regular features on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Since I started using a FitBit during the summer, I’ve walked 743 miles.

And I got to see some old friends and meet lots of wonderful new people at the Gay Romance Northwest meetup in Seattle, at GayRomLit in Chicago, and at Bent-Con in Burbank.

Travel-wise, I didn’t leave the US this year. But I do get around. I made 3 trips to the Pacific Northwest, a couple to southern California, and one to the city where I was born, Chicago. I made some shorter treks too, to the Sierra foothills, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco. I’m planning a couple of farther jaunts in 2015. Orlando’s on the agenda, as is Washington, D.C., and–I hope–Europe. I’m not sure where in Europe yet. Definitely Croatia, but maybe also Malta and/or someplace else. Where should I choose?

I hope 2015 is a good year for all of you, filled with peace, joy, and lots of reading!