Posts

Showing posts from 2017

Saying Goodbye to My Dad

Image
Today at 10:31 a.m., my dad closed his eyes for the last time. When he did, a part of me died with him.
I’ll accept your condolences but please check your religion at the door. And don’t talk to me of your God and His wisdom and mercy. Not today. Not today. I believe in God, I do. But not today. Not today. Today, I feel He abandoned me and my father when all I could do was hold his hand and rub his head and tell him I loved him; when all his doctors could do was increase his pain medicine and escalate the frequency with which he received them, and swab his mouth with plain gelatin to make up for the water he could no longer drink, the food he could no longer eat.
The first time I, went, alone, to visit dad in the hospital, I arrived in his room while he was still downstairs in radiation. A nurse walked in and asked who I was.
“I’m Larry, his middle son.”
“Oh, you’re the one who lives in Philadelphia!”
“Yes, how did you know that?”
“Your dad talks about you. He talks about all of his…

Rainbows & Unicorns, or Truth in Fiction

Image
An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.  — F. Scott Fitzgerald
I, like most writers with a modicum of self-control and a soupcon of good sense, don’t comment on reviews. But I do read each and every one. Mostly out of curiosity. I’m genuinely curious about what readers think of my work, of the stories I chose to tell, of the words I choose to tell them with—and yes, I realize that can be two very different things. I realize reviewers write not for writers but for other readers to either steer them to books they liked or away from others that somehow disappointed them.
I don’t read reviews to learn what readers want—I decided long ago when I started writing seriously that I wasn’t writing to market but rather writing the stories that burned in me and let the market find me. Perhaps a stupid approach—certainly not a lucrative one, but one that allows me to feel good about my work. And on those dark day…

The Rebranding of Larry

Image
On June 26, I quit my job. I immediately stopped doing three things: setting my alarm, ironing clothes, and shaving. The next day I started Klonopin, an anticonvulsant often prescribed to treat panic attacks and anxiety. Five days later I sat in my doctor’s office and, in tears, admitted that for the first time in I didn’t know how long, I felt like myself. He referred me to a therapist and the work began.
With no job, and a new book set to be released August 1, I had nothing to do but work on myself and write. I needed to figure not only who I was but who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do next. Writing was a part of that. With the publication of my first book, What Binds Us, I was classified as a romance writer specifically gay romance, more commonly referred to as mm romance. I was never quite comfortable with that definition quite frankly. My books have strong romantic elements but I don’t see them as romances. Being so close to releasing In His Eyes, I really needed to think thro…

On Reading, Writing and Favorite Lines

Image
I don’t read when I’m working on a book. I’m too easily influenced by what is happening around me when I write: events, conversations, songs, people—they all comes into play and get filtered into my work. So, I avoid reading to avoid another writer’s influence. Since In His Eyes was released on August 1, I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading. Most recently I picked up “The Best of Saki,” by H.H. Munro, a British writer whose witty, mischievous, and sometimes macabre stories satirize Edwardian society and culture. I fell in love with his prose. Often there were lines that were sublime: concise, biting. As read, I made notes highlighting those special lines. This post is about favorite lines from books I’ve recently read.
H.H. Munro (Saki): His casual comments on marriage were a particular favorite of mine:
You’re married to him—that’s different; you’ve sworn to love, honour, and endure him: I haven’t. –Laura
To have married Mortimer Seltoun, ‘Dead Mortimer,’ as his more intimate enemi…

Confederate Statues, Trump, and the Power of Words

Image
“When he was young, he’d learned that words hurt, maimed, scarred. When he got older, he’d learned that words could also comfort, heal. But he’d never forgotten the first lesson. Perhaps that was why he’d chosen a career in finance: numbers. Numbers added up; they did not tear down.” From Black & Ugly
I grew up in an era when our parents told us to remember “sticks and stones make break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
Having been called faggot more times than I can remember, and once the N-word by an alcoholic white trash neighbor in our otherwise democratic, and progressive East Falls neighborhood, I know from experience our parents were wrong.
As a wordsmith, as a writer, I understand the power of words—I understand that words can strike with the force of a hammer. Words can also heal; they can bring us together. Or, tear us apart.
Let’s talk about the Charlottesville tragedy and Trump. From this writer’s point of view what was most offensive about Trump’s reaction—Trump’s

On Writing Books & Dreaming of Movie Versions

Image
Before every book’s release, everything seems possible: This will be the one, this one will be widely read, and receive accolades; this one will top the New York Times Bestseller list. Ellen will call. And then inevitably the book comes out and you get up early and check your Amazon ranking. Not Number One Not even close. Not yet. Maybe tomorrow. And then tomorrow comes and the day after that and the day after that. And you continue to dream, begin boldly to imagine the movie version…
I was part of the Authors Corner at the Ask Rayceen Show in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. One of the questions Rayceen asked each of us authors was which of our books we saw as a movie and who did we want the lead actors to be. I didn’t have a ready answer, stumbled through a response. But it wasn’t the right answer. I’ve been obsessing over the right answer ever since. I know on one level this obsessive pondering of this question was partly due to my OCD—which now thanks to a wonderful doctor and …

Borrowed Voices

Image
I have lived with dogs for 22 years. Channing, Coco, Toby of York (Toby), Victor Lorde Riley (Riley). But I have been with Toby the longest. Like an old married couple, we are familiars; we know each other’s quirks and preferences; we are comfortably with the rhythm of our life together as the tides wash us up against each other and pull us apart, secure in the knowledge that it will also bring us back together again. We take comfort in each other’s presence even when I am writing and he is sleeping at my feet. Our nearness is enough.
Channing, Coco, Toby, Riley. I have learned so much from living with dogs. This post is all about what I have leaned form the canine companions I’ve been lucky enough to know.
Approach every stranger as if he or she was a friend, a potential ally. If they respond by throwing shade your way, hike up your tail and walk away.
Help your friends. Coco used to always rush to the kitchen door to greet me when she
heard the garage door open. After she went deaf, To…

In His Eyes—Happy Release Day to Me

Image
Today is the release of my third novel—my first full length work since Unbroken which was released in 2013. This is my fifth release in six years—still it feels like the first time I’ve ever released a book. It’s accompanied by the same worry, the same doubt: did I write the best book I could? Will readers like it? Will anyone read it?
On Saturday, we saw Diana Ross in concert at the Mann Center in Philly. The outing was part of our new effort to get out more, to do things together. Our therapist says that’s important—yes, we have a therapist; after twenty years together, the waters of matrimony are still sometimes difficult to navigate. Anyway, back to Miss Ross. I watched her closely, as I watch all artists—and let’s face it we writers are artists, too. I was impressed by her energy, her humanity: from the stage, she came off not so much as a diva as a person, doing her best and hoping to please a crowd. Her daughter opened for her and she brought her grandchildren on stage—yes Miss …

"In His Eyes" — The Soundtrack

Image
I’ve talked about this before but I believe every life has a soundtrack. My own life’s soundtrack is dominated by Donna Summer, Grace Jones, and Michael Jackson. Music is a marker—every song can take us back to a specific moment in time, or fix us to the mood we were in when we first heard it. Thus couples always have “our song.”
As I said, every life has its own soundtrack. The same is true, I believe of books. Songs referred to in books, can set a mood, it can also anchor the story in time, just as descriptions of fashion and hairstyles can. All of my novels have soundtracks and my latest, In His Eyes, which releases a week from today (August 1) is no exception.
This post is dedicated to looking at the songs from this book. I’ve included the Chapter headings in which the song appears for easy reference. 60. Independence Day“Independence Day” by Bruce Springsteen. Each character is different so each has his own taste in music. This song sums up Reid’s inner tumult that leads up to the …

On the Importance of Pianos

Image
I am enamored of pianos—if not simply obsessed with them. It’s one of the few things we don’t own that I’ve always wanted. Even though I’m not at all musical.
I suppose that is one reason pianos always seem to appear in my books.
It is at a piano that Thomas Edward and Dondi’s brother, Matthew first connect in my first novel, What Binds Us:

I was wandering the corridors of that huge house when I passed by an open door. Light and music splashed onto the hall carpet. Someone was playing the piano. I stopped to listen.
“Don’t just stand out there,” the person said. “Come on in.”
So I did. A rosewood concert grand piano held court in the middle of the room. Its elaborately scrolled legs knelt on a Tabriz carpet the color of dreams. Matthew sat in a lyre-back chair in front of the piano. His legs were stretched out and his bare, pale feet curled around one of the piano’s massively carved legs. His hands rested on the pale ivory keys. He stared at me with his grey eyes.
If Dondi was an epilogue…