Memories of Down Under from Guest Blogger Jim Provenzano

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DownUnder_January Is Banner

Reading Down Under: Scattered Thoughts’ Aussie Special!

from author Jim Provenzano

Longtime followers know that I got some great reviews for my last two books from independent reviewers. Their prolific blogs continue to amaze me by the sheer number of books they promote, and the reviews are often thorough and heartfelt. You can click on the “Reviews” links on this blog on the right column to read them all.

But one of the most outstanding sites is Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Not only did I enjoy expansive praise-filled reviews for both Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love; I was also honored with a guest author spotlight, where I rambled on about why I decided to write the sequel. Every Time I Think of You was also among those chosen as one of the Best Books of 2014!

So it was without hesitation that I decided to help promote Melanie M.’s latest endeavor, a January special all about Australian and New Zealand authors!

OnWingsofSongAnne Barwell, one of the featured authors
Here’s the deal. More than two dozen Aussie and Kiwi authors will get a special post about their latest works. Look for the clues in the text, (it’s a web-based scavenger hunt) and you could win books and other Aussie and Kiwi-themed prizes. Look for posts about (and guest-written by) these Australian authors, each day in January. There are even a few New Zealand authors as well:

Christian Baines, N.R. Walker, Anne Barwell, Nic Starr, Meredith Shayne, Renae Kaye, John Wiltshire, John Terry Moore, Lily Veldon, Barry Rowe, L. J. LaBarthe, Beany Sparks, Nicki J. Markus, Michelle Rae, A. B. Gayle, Lisa Harris and Isabelle Rowan.

British diversdive2
American readers owe it to themselves to read Australian and kikiw authors. their slight differences in language and syntax are fascinating, and their perspectives on life are just a little bit different, but yet familiar.
My love for the Land Down Under extends beyond this fun promotion. Back in 2002, I had the thrill of attending the sixth quadrennial Gay Games. Since I didn’t compete that time, I had the freedom to travel to nearly every sporting event, from the rugby fields near downtown, to the Olympic stadiums for track and field, and across the campus to the volleyball and aquatics centers, or centres, as they spell it.

With more than 100 interviews conducted (including a few funny stilted ones in my limited French and Italian) on old-fashioned cassette tapes, and about 40 rolls of film – yes, film, my last pre-digital project- I put together dozens of articles about every sport, and the ceremonies and spectacles as well. You can enjoy the archived articles on my Sports Complex website. But please forgive the dated HTML formatting. I haven’t been there in a while.

Joel
Figure skating rocked!
My host was a generous fellow with a fabulous downtown apartment, who also was on one of Sydneys toughest basketball teams (they made it to the finals, as I recall). He welcomed my “frequent overnight guest” and even hosted a dinner party where (yes!) we enjoyed shrimp on the barbie!
But I also participated in a reading at an art gallery, and Graeme at Bookshop Darlinghurst bought some copies of my first novel, PINS. That later led to a nice consignment deal with an Australian wholesaler. It all gave me a fun thrill to know that more than 100 folks got print copies of that novel, without the middleman of Amazon.com (or Amazon.au).

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Aussie and Samoan ruggers

This was at the the peak of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and while I longed to spend more time on the other side of the planet, I did not get a chance to see the New Zealand hobbit houses or the beautiful expanse of either country. I did get a few Lord of the Rings souvenirs, however!

But the pleasures of Australia were often more subtle than a blockbuster movie. The wildlife was just different enough to beguile. Odd geese with long bills puttered about in downtown public parks, and by night, across from my scenic guest room balcony, the brightly lit spires of a skyscraper were surrounded by a massive flock of bats. My host told me the bats scooped up thousands of moths attracted to the lights.
hockMontreal ice hockey
But what really charmed me were the people. Their musical accents, their way of turning a phrase with an upward lilt, and their enthusiasm in welcoming guests from around the world was amazing. I met Samoan rugby players, French cyclists, Croatian volleyball players, and got to soak in the shared joy of being in that wonderful land.

Some highlights:poloflowers

Los Angeles water polo team
SydneyVolleyGals– singing “Happy Birthday” to performer k.d. lang along with thousands of others at Opening Ceremonies,

– frolicking in the kids’ rec pool with two water polo teams at the official Olympic aquatics centre,

– hoisting beers in a large gay bar with three softball teams while singing along to an ABBA medley,

– getting directions to the ice hockey arena from a friendly shopkeeper in the far off suburbs, who asked, as easy as “Bob’s your uncle,” “Oh, you here for the Gay Games?”
Sydney volleyball team
Anyway, certainly you can read more diverse perspectives from the array of LGBT authors in Scattered Thoughts’ January author showcase. So check out the website and get reading!

 

Jim Provenzano

You can find/follow Jim at his website:  http://www.myrmidude.org  and his Goodreads page.  Don’t forget to check out Jim’s marvelous books, Every  Time I Think of You and Message of Love.

Review: Message of Love by Jim Provenzano

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Message of Love coverFebruary 1980. Philadelphia, PA.  Reid Conniff and Everett Forrester are enrolled at Temple University and have started to adjust to life as college students and life away from home.  But further challenges have to be faced by these two young men.  In addition to being out and gay, Everett Forester is still learning how to live  with his disability.  Going to class, navigating around campus in a pre Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) world presents Everett with some huge hurdles to overcome, including those of intimacy with his lover, Reid.

But Everett’s demanding mother has other plans for her son and they don’t include Everett graduating from Temple University.  After much pressure from his mother, Everett gives in and transfers to the University of Pennsylvania.  Now Everett and Reid must juggle school work and the daily struggle to be together as they attend different schools and a variety of commitments.  The solution? An apartment in the city that is perfect for them both and a landlady more friend than landlord.

As the 1980’s progress, Reid and Everett face many events and issues that will test their love and commitment to each other.  The rise of a strange disease that seems to target gay men, student protests, and the further exploration of their sexuality.  But it’s a mysterious Polaroid of Everett taken shortly before they met that may bring the most danger to Everett and Reid’s life together.  Who took the provocative photos of Everett? That answer will forever change Everett and Reid’s life together.

Message of Love opens June 1983 as Reid and Everett are attending a benefit dinner for handicapped kids in Pittsburgh.  The affair for a local non profit was organized by Everett’s mother who has moved to Pittsburgh to be closer to her son.  We get a glimpse into their present day relationship and a few remembrances of the past before we flashback to February 1980 the starting time for the majority of Message of Love.

There are so many  great elements of Message of Love, the first being the time period of the story.  The 80’s are well represented here and the in-depth research done by Jim Provenzano shows.  The story is full of 80’s cultural notations, from the ever present video stores and Sony Walkman’s to the Rocky Mountain Horror Picture Show where audience participation is starting to spread out from NYC where it started.  We get Spandau Ballet’s “True”, The Spinner’s “Working My Way Back to You” and of course The Pretenders’ “Message of Love”.  Provenzano gets the feel of the times just right. Reid and Everett’s homosexuality is somewhat more accepted by their peers and families and the protests of the 60’s and 70’s has for the most part changed from anti war demonstrations to anti-nuclear protests after the accident at Three Mile Island in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania in 1979.  Such notable events are mentioned throughout the narrative helping to further establish the time frame and setting.

Of utmost importance to Reid and Everett’s story is Everett’s disability as it impacts every aspect of their life together.  Lumbar fracture, partial paralysis.  Four life changing words.  And it is here that Provenzano does some of his best work.  Starting in Every Time I Think of You and continuing into Message of Love, the reader is pulled first hand into Everett’s hard won adjustment to his disability, his mental and emotional state directly after his accident as viewed by Reid.  Reid not only sees the struggles that Everett goes through but also Reid’s adjustment of his long term goals in order to help support his lover in every way possible.  One of the things I loved about the first story is that they still acted like the 17 year olds dealing with all the uncertainty and pain that happens for Everett to accept his disability and go forward and for Reid to accept the change in Everett.

Now at college and away from home for the first time (the exception being Everett’s rehabilitation), they start to experience all the new freedoms and personal growth that change brings.  For Everett, it is the everyday challenge of getting around campus, dorm life, and transportation.  Reid and Everett both mention the relative ease of traveling around Temple University because of its wide sidewalks and flat ground.  Also because Temple had a Students with Disabilities Dorm.

Both stories take place prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities”.  So we watch as Everett has to work hard to get around such hurdles as a lack of ramps, too many stairs and other hardships for the disabled made easier by the handicapped accessibility we see today.  Then we get a deeper, more uncomfortable look into Everett’s daily life as Reid watches people overlook Everett and talk only to Reid when they are together.  We see the cloak of invisibility that seems to fall over people in wheelchairs as those more able to navigate pass them by without notice or equal treatment.  Or Reid’s frustration as he acknowledges that some of the people/students regard Reid as some sort of “guide dog” for Everett instead of seeing him as Everett’s boyfriend.

Provenzano describes with great sensitivity the impact of Everett’s disability on their relationship, from living arrangements to their ability to have sex.  There are moments in their relationship that just ring with authenticity where Reid is prone to be overprotective and as a result Everett needs to reinforce his own need for independence and assistance on his own terms.  That’s an honest relationship, warts and all. We see them argue and listen to their internal insecurities.  We also get a factual look at sex and the sex act between Everett and Reid.  For some readers, this aspect of the story might be more raw and factual then is wanted.  Because, honestly, the author realistically lays out the physical limitations and logistics for both Reid and the reader as to what Everett can feel, his life with catheters, and what ablutions are required in order for them to have sexual relations. Sometimes frustrations and miscommunication ensue. Spontaneity is out, planning is in. And that includes defecation.  Too much information?  Perhaps.  But it conveys to the reader exactly what Everett’s life is like and makes it and Everett real.

Jim Provenzano includes positive elements as well in Everett’s adjustment to life with a disability. It’s the joys of relating to children like Everett from the summer camp for special needs children where Everett and Reid act as counselors to the rough and tumble sports team that Everett plays on.  Bringing all these extra layers and facts into Reid and Everett’s life together helps to connect the reader intimately to their romance and growing commitment to each other.

Message of Love chillingly brings in the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic and the beginnings of public awareness.  Its introduction in the story is subtle but grows steadily throughout until it will have a major impact on the main characters and those around them. First a small mention in the newspaper, then an article that their landlady brings to Reid’s attention, and our knowledge of the times and the disease just ramps up our anxiety and concerns for characters we have come to love through two stories.And always at the center is the love and romance between Reid and Everett, painstaking in its growth and so satisfying in its depth of feeling and commitment that we never once question their love for each other.  I fell in love with these two young men in Every Time I Think of You and that love affair continues here in Message of Love.

The narrative moved at a slower rate than in the previous novel which is to be expected as it lacks the dramatic impact of Everett’s accident.  The details of the reality of Everett’s daily regimen and physical bodily functions sometimes slowed the tale’s momentum down to a much more leisurely pace than most readers might want.  Perhaps if you looked at it as less a total romance and more of a journey of two young men coming of age and growing together into adulthood and a loving commitment, then the richness of its details and the complexities of its characters will make this a story to remember.

If you are new to Reid and Everett’s story, then begin with Every Time I Think of You.  If you are familiar with that novel, then Message of Love is a story not to be missed.  No matter, this is a wonderfully satisfying and uplifting novel, certainly one of Scattered Thoughts Best of 2014.

 

Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano
Message of You (sequel) by Jim Provenzano

Cover Art; Getty Images. Used with permission. Cover Design: Kurt Thomas

Book Details:

Paperback, first, 372 pages
Published March 15th 2014 by Myrmidude Press
ISBN 0615669247 (ISBN13: 9780615669243)
edition languageEnglish

In the Author Spotlight: Jim Provenzano

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spotlight on booksMessage of Love cover

ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords is happy to host Jim Provenzano today, talking about his latest release, Message of Love, the sequel to the Lambda Literary Award winning, Every Time I Think of You.

Giveaway:  Jim has brought with him a Kindle ebook copy of Every Time I Think of You to give away today along with a copy of Message of Love to a 2nd winner.  To enter to win, leave a comment below as well as your email address so you can be contacted. We would also appreciate it if you left your Amazon email address in the body of the comment to make it easier to send the book to you as it is a Kindle edition.  Contest closes 4/19. Thanks.

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Getting It Right, the Second Time Around

by Jim Provenzano

When I started writing my fourth novel Every Time I Think of You, the first few chapters came to me in a dream in January 2011. I’d already had a few other novels nearly completed, but the story of Reid and Everett basically took over my life.Every Time I Think Of You

After finishing it in early December of that year, I agreed with the almost unanimous suggestion of friends who had read early drafts, and cut an epilogue where Reid and Everett are living ‘happily ever after’ as college roommates in Philadelphia. I realized that the last chapter was actually a draft treatment for a sequel. What happens after the rush of romance concludes with the blossoming of love? Well, a lot happens.

In the sequel, Message of Love, Reid and Everett attend separate universities in Philadelphia. While Everett’s studies focus on politics and world affairs, Reid remains devoted to his Forestry studies. And while the symbolic aspect of the City of Brotherly Love offers new adventures for them, the urban environs tests their relationship, and in particular, Reid’s once heartfelt passion for nature.

I prepared for my new novel, Message of Love, with funds generated from a small yet successful 2012 Kickstarter project. The week before attending the Lambda Literary Awards in New York City, where Every Time I Think of You won the Lammy for Gay Romance, I spent a week in Philadelphia. Combining my journalism experience with a bit of adventurous tourism, I researched the campuses, the city and Fairmont Park, where most scenes are set.

I also spent several days in the archives at both Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and at the Philadelphia Public Library, where I scanned issues of the Philadelphia Gay News, converting page after page into saved PDFs. I even found a house where the fictional version of an apartment would become their home.

Numerous personal interviews with current and former Philadelphia and Greensburg residents, and graduates of Penn and Temple, led to an insightful perspective on the novel’s setting. Sometimes a single detail or correction would lead to an entire chapter revision. But what surprised me were how often real-life events aligned with the story I had already outlined.

I spent months researching the disability issues relating to Everett’s experience, both from the perspective of a paraplegic and someone who loves him. Personal interviews with wheelchair users led to new insights into their daily lives.

As a former professional dancer, one of the most inspirational aspects came from other dancers. Like my first novel, PINS, about high school wrestlers, I took my own physical experience as a sort of muscle memory. By watching and talking with a wonderfully talented dancer and a choreographer from the Oakland, California AXIS Dance Company, I was able to feel and visualize the practicality and athleticism of a young active paraplegic.

But with a specific time frame, thirty years ago, I didn’t have the advantage of relying on contemporary aspects of disability. I bought several books from that era, specific to the limitations of the early 1980s, before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, and before most sidewalks and buildings were made accessible.

As with Every Time I Think of You, the story is written from Reid’s point of view and his attempts to comprehend and understand Everett’s challenges. Despite being a pair of romance novels, I worked within the popular genre while crafting a decidedly new approach. I also read many gay and straight romance books with disabled characters. Some of them were touching and sweet. Some were uninformed and misguided.

But at the same time, while I endeavored to ‘get it right’ about such a relationship, I kept asking myself, ‘Is this a Romance?’ Reid and Everett are already boyfriends. The quest of finding love has been achieved. Their new challenge is to sustain their love through some separation. Veering from the standard romance, they live together for most of the story.

With the advantage of having already established the love between Reid and Everett, I faced new challenges with an historic time and urban setting, placed against the encroaching threat of a plague.

Many contemporary romances quickly dispense with AIDS and other difficult issues, and that’s fine. That is the decision of other authors, to make a fun, sexy escapist story. But having set this sequel after the ‘halcyon’ days of the late 1970s, when being gay wasn’t a big problem in some communities, the sequel would have to deal with realities of the era in which I came of age; infidelity, identity, and the growing, then unnamed, epidemic.

A major symbol, a small evergreen tree, served as an actual gift in Every Time I Think of You. For Message of Love, a single ivy leaf, used on the book’s cover, becomes a significant gift of apology in a crucial moment when Everett and Reid’s relationship is at its most fragile. Yet Everett’s life as a paraplegic is not a mere metaphor, but a realistic aspect of his life that’s given a thorough focus.

In the first book, the two young men’s time together is sporadic and passionate. In the sequel, their extended time together offers a new perspective on moving beyond the initial rush of first love, and growing toward a stronger form based on trust.

This four-year ‘distraction’ has led to creating two of the most endearing characters I’ve created. I really grew to love these guys, and I hope readers will, too.
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Author Bio:

Jim Provenzano is the author of the novels PINS, Monkey Suits, Cyclizen, the 2012 Lambda Literary Award-winning Every Time I Think of You, its sequel Message of Love, and the stage adaptation of PINS.

A journalist in LGBT media for two decades, and the guest curator of Sporting Life, the world’s first gay athletics exhibit, he also wrote the syndicated Sports Complex column for ten years. Currently the Assistant Arts Editor at the Bay Area Reporter, he also edits its weekly BARtab nightlife section.

For more information on Jim Provenzano’s books, visit

Watch the book trailer, which features a performance of Dudley Saunders singing “Message of Love,” the title song (by The Pretenders), and enjoy the companion video playlists for Message of Love, Every Time I Think of You and PINS on Jim Provenzano’s YouTube channel:

 

 

 

 

 

ScatteredThoughts Week Ahead in Reviews, Author Guest Posts and Contests

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It’s already midApril and I have just realized that I missed posting my March 2014 Review Summary and Best Covers.  Sigh.  Sometimes Gardening_Tools_Clip_Artthings just get away from you and this certainly did last month.  So I am posting the review to run later today.  There are so many wonderful authors and books represented that you are sure to find several to add to your TBR or Must Read stack of stories.   Included in the reviews are the penultimate story of the Cut & Run series from Abigail Roux and the first 2 stories in the second group of Pulp Friction 2014 series.

Spring has finally come to Maryland (although it may only be here a week).  My cherry blossoms are blooming as are those around the tidal basin.  So I am off to grab some weeds and bird watch in the sun.

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Here is the week ahead in reviews, author guest blogs and contests:

 

  • Monday, April 14:                 Author Spotlight: Jim Provenzano and Book Giveaway
  • Tuesday, April 15:                 Memories of Love by Jim Provenzano
  • Wed., April 16:                       With Pride by Megan Derr
  • Thursday, April 17:               Megan Mulry :Author Guest Blog and Book Tour (Contest)
  • Friday, April 18:                    Bound to be a Groom by Megan Mulry
  • Saturday, April 19:                Floodgates by Mary Calmes

Review: Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.
Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”
– Alice Walker

Every Time I Think Of YouIt’s winter, 1978 in the small town of Greensburg,Pennsylvania and for teenager Reid Coniff everything is about to change.  The woods are calling him out into the night and snow.  Not exactly to admire nature, although Reid does that too.  But the thin walls of his house make it almost impossible for a teenage boy to find sexual release and these woods are a perfect place for privacy.  Or so Reid thinks.  Because after a short hike, Reid comes across another boy with the exact same purpose on the mind.

Everett Forrester, scion of the Forrester family who founded their town, has come to the woods around Forrestville, a wealthy community, that separates the rich from the rest of the citizens of Greensburg, to escape his family and have a moment of sexual self pleasure.  With divorced parents, home now consists mostly of a controlling mother, a housekeeper who is more friend and ally than servant, and a beloved sister who lives in Pittsburgh far outside the sphere of his family and their wealth.  Everett is not prepared for the tall, lanky boy that finds him almost naked in the woods, in the middle of masturbing.  But one sloppy wet kiss later, both boys find release and a new destiny together.

What follows that remarkable meeting is a relationship that grows and deepens over time.  It didn’t matter that townie Reid attended the local public high school or that wealthy Everett attended a prestigious prep school just outside Forrestville, the next months found them constantly together.  Trips to visit Everett’s sister Holly is Pittsburgh served as a way to be alone, exploring their newly discovered passion for each other and sex.  They share their hopes, their dreams and their problems and their relationship deepens even as they hid who and what they were to each other.

High school is still such a difficult time made more so by a first love and being in the closet. Everett and Reid have not only to deal with hiding their relationship but the fact that they come from two very different backgrounds and two diverging views of their future. Most couples have only a few obstacles to overcome, but Everett and Reid face the most daunting obstacle of all when an accident on the playing field changes their lives forever.

Every Time I Think of You  by Jim Provenzano is a true revelation. I have read many coming of age stories.  And I have also read just as many coming out stories but none of them have the depth, texture and power of Every Time I Think of You.   Winner of the Lambda Literary Award in 2012, this is storytelling at its most intimate and perceptive.

The journey of Reid and Everett will make you hark back to your own adolescence, it will make you laugh and cringe in acknowledgement of the trials and tribulations of high school and the throes of a first love. This elegant and moving tale will pull forth all feelings possible when we remember what it felt like to be young and in love for the first time. In the telling, the author and his characters ask for our understanding and get it by the descriptions and in the remembrances of being young. For the very bravery of youth itself in its outlook and optimism and the pain that experience and time often inflicts.  Even now I want to reach for that book again and start at page 1 as Reid embarks on his journey once more into the woods where he will meet Everett and his future.

The characters Provenzano created for his story are remarkable for their complexity and authenticity as children of the 70’s. With all the references we would expect from the late 70’s Jim Provenzano frames out his setting and time period and puts the reader into the mind and heart of Reid Coniff, a teenager of the threshold of an explosion of self discovery in 1978.  Our narrator is a product of a loving family in a small town in Pennsylvania. Reid is that extraordinary voice that strikes a recognizable note in all readers. He is introspective with a passion for plants and nature in general.  He knows what he wants to do with his life and has the support he needs from his parents.  But that one night in the forest changes everything for him.  Here is a small excerpt just as Reid ventures into the woods in chapter one:

Entering the edge of the small woods, I felt warmer and secure. I’d rarely encountered other people in that small expanse of trees and its charming creek, which is why I’d long considered it my own private refuge.

A thick blanket of snow lay at my feet, sleeves of it bending the limbs of shrubs. Bluish whites contrasted the dark limbs of the evergreen branches above.

Further in, the snow under the tall evergreens was softer, quieting my footsteps as I encountered something unexpected; a pair of grey sweatpants and a green parka hanging on a tree limb.

Then I saw him.

The following scene beautifully delivers the urgency of youth, and the first fumblings at sex. It’s delivers the realistic joy of the first sexual discovery with another person and the shyness that comes after their first kiss and sexual release.  It’s that moment where Reid thinks for the first time “Where the hell have you been all these years?

And then you remember that these boys are only seventeen with their life spread out before them, and that thought becomes one of wonder but also of the pain because we realize how much of life is still before them.

And you are not even out of the first chapter.

Everett Forrester’s voice feels so true to that age and time period.  It’s full of bravado and charm and yet it hides so much feeling and insecurities that you find yourself falling in love with him as much as Reid.  The combination of these two young men, so full of life and the awkwardness of youth, is both captivating and painful.  We watch them venturing out of their self described roles and into a journey of personal growth, love, and sexual discovery.  A time when all their futures are full of the impossible and where they will always be together.

And from our remembered perspectives, their jubilant bravado and youthful innocence is received with the understanding and compassion of age, letting us relate to and empathize with these young men on their journey together with all its attending highs and lows.

Provenzano doesn’t shy away from the warts and issues of the times and of being a teenager during that era, homophobia included.  Nor does he gloss over the brutal facts of the impact that a debilitating accident has on these boys,their families and their budding romantic relationship. Everett’s accident is one that almost singularly destroys Everett and Reid’s relationship as well as Everett’s dreams for his future.  It is one that can happen on any playing field across America, this time it just happened to Everett.  That doesn’t make it any easier to accept for Everett, Reid or their families.  Or for the reader for that matter.

The story ends in the winter of 1979.  Less than a year has passed but somehow it feels as though I have walked miles and lived years with these boys. This amazing narrative, at times honest, tender, and raw, has left me so well acquainted with their characters, that to see the end actually hurt.  And that’s after 266 pages.  Reid is now at Temple University in Philadelphia.  And Everett? Well, that joy of discovery awaits you within these pages.

And it doesn’t end here.  The sequel, Message of Love, continues Reid and Everett journey into adulthood and their possible future together. But first there is Every Time I Think of You, an evocative and immensely powerful “coming-of-age”  tale so compelling in its truth that you won’t want to put it down.  The strong adolescent voice that is Reid Coniff, wise ,uncertain, tentative and brave.  It is the voice of a 17 year old…so full of everything it means to be 17. It is real, painfully so at times. Reid will entice  you back to his story and that of the young man he loves with all his heart.  And Everett with the burdens and struggles to come will hold fast to your heart, never to let go.

This is one of ScatteredThoughts Best of 2014.  Go, get it now and start your journey along with Reid and Everett into their future.  Trust me, this story is one that will always stay with you, heart deep and full of love.

Cover Art; Getty Images. Used with permission. Cover Design: Kurt Thomas.  Cover is simple and elegant and references a major element in their story.

Every Time I Think of You
Message of Love (sequel)

 Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published November 26th 2011 by CreateSpace/Myrmidude Press
ASINB006EVNCJK
edition languageEnglish
literary awardsLambda Literary Award 2012

Buy Links: Amazon  also at Barnes & Noble (nook)

Spring has Sprung…finally, Winner Announcements and the Week Ahead in Reviews, Contests, and Author Guest Blogs

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Well, I am almost afraid to say it….maybe Spring has finally arrived here in the DC Metro area. Shhhhhh! Not too loud.  I hate to be superstitious but  lately it seems like the sleet, or snow is just hovering at the edges threatening to make a reappearance and coat everything in white instead of cherry blossoms.  So I am going to tiptoe around the fact that I got out in the yard for the first time to start my garden cleanup and to check out if any brave little sprouts had made it above ground.  The irises have poked out, so have the autumn sedum…plucky souls that they are.  The maple trees are in flower and the squirrels are taking full advantage by littering the yard with all the flowers and twigs they have snipped off to get at the maple sap.  Oh that maple sap….the first run is so sweet, like a cold drink of water with a hint of sugar……that if boiled down becomes that golden wonder maple syrup.maple trees tapped

At this time of year (ok earlier in March but not this year), I used to give maple sugaring demonstrations to the public.  I would be boiling gallons of sap that I started to collect in January and stored until March from trees along the stream banks where the old mature red and sugar maples stood.  I would let the kids watch me tap a tree and, if lucky, watch the maple syrup evaporatorsap start to run out the hole immediately to their awe and wonder.  Then over to the evaporator and the wood fire that constantly burned cooking away the water and reducing the sap to syrup.  It’s quite a laborous process which is one of the reasons that the price for maple syrup runs so high.  I would tap red and silver maples native to Maryland, sugar maples that had been planted for their color and even boxelders that make a strong hearty syrup, each species of tree giving the syrup its own unique taste.  I would even order some Alaska Birch syrup to give everyone a taste of that regionally strong and robust syrup, my that’s an  acquired taste.

In New England they don’t start this process until April because of their winters and this year Maryland is right along with them due to our unusually harsh and lingering  winter.  How I loved introducing people who have grown up on Log Cabin or Mrs. Butterworth’s to the real thing!  That never gets old.  I love the natural history and the cultural history to making maple syrup.  It keeps me in touch with the past, it makes me appreciate the changing of the seasons and the bounty of nature.  And what it can do to a stack of blueberry pancakes is out of thismaply syrup world….

So yeah….Spring is here.  The maple trees in flower and the squirrels gnawing the heck out of them for the sweet sap tells me so.  And now I feel the need to go make some flapjacks.  With butter.  And real maple syrup of course!

Winner Announcements! The winner of Katey Hawthorne’s Book Contest is Alishead1.  Congratulations to Alishead1.
Leah Karge is the winner of the When All the World Sleeps blog tour. Congratulations to Leah too! Thanks to everyone who left comments.  Your participation is always appreciated. The winners have been notified.

Oh, and happy 5th Anniversay to Less Than Three Press, congratulations to you too.

While I am making breakfast, here is the schedule for the week ahead:

  •  Monday, April 7:    The Calm Before by Neena Jayden
  • Tuesday, April 8:     The Forester II: Lost and Found by Blaine D. Arden
  • Wed, April 9:             Author Spotlight: Blaine D. Arden (and Book Giveaway)
  • Thurday, April 10:    In Distress by Katey Hawthorne
  • Friday, April 11:        Controlled Burn by Laura Harner
  •  ***************        Cold Comfort by Lee Brazil
  • Saturday, April 12:    Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano