Tag Archives: high school

New Release Blitz: Big Love by Rick R. Reed

Big Love | Rick R. Reed

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 18, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64,100

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Blurb

Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay. But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men.

A new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth is also starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup, and the last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of.

As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

Excerpt

Big Love
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Truman Reid was white as a stick of chalk—skin so pale it was nearly translucent. His blue eyes were fashioned from icy spring water. His hair—platinum blond—lay in curls across his forehead and spilled down his neck. He was the kind of boy for whom adjectives like “lovely” and “pretty” would most definitely apply. More than once in his life, he was mistaken for a girl.

When he was a very little boy, well-meaning strangers (and some not so well-meaning) would ask if he was a boy or a girl. Truman was never offended by the question, because he could see no shame in being mistaken for a girl. It wasn’t until later that he realized there were some who would think the question offensive.

But this boy, who, on the first day of school, boldly and some might say unwisely wore a T-shirt that proclaimed “It Gets Better” beneath an image of a rainbow flag, didn’t seem to possess the pride the T-shirt proclaimed. At Summitville High School, even though it was 2015, one did not shout out one’s sexual orientation, not in word, not in fashion, and certainly not in deed.

Who knew what caused Truman to break with convention that morning when he made up his mind to wear that T-shirt on the first day of school? It wasn’t like he needed to proclaim anything—after all, the slight, effeminate boy had been the object of bullies and torturers since, oh, about second grade. Truman could never “pass.”

He was a big sissy. It was a fact and one Truman had no choice but to accept.

His shoulders, perpetually hunched, hunched farther during his grade school and junior high years, when such epithets as “sissy,” “fag,” “pansy,” and “queer” were hurled at him in school corridors and playgrounds on a daily basis. Truman knew the old schoolyard chant wasn’t true at all—words could and did hurt. And so, occasionally, did fists and hands.

And yet, despite the teasing—or maybe it’s more apt to say because of it—Truman was not ashamed of who and what he was. His single mom, Patsy, his most vocal supporter and defender, often told him the same thing. “God made you just the way you are, honey. Beautiful. And if you’re one of his creations, there’s nothing wrong in who you are. You just hold your head up and be proud.” The sad truth was, Patsy would often tell her boy stuff like this as she brushed tears away from his face.

It wasn’t only tears she brushed away, though. Her unconditional love also brushed away any doubt Truman might have had that he was anything other than a normal boy, even though he was not like most of the boys his age in Summitville, Ohio, that backward little burg situated on the Ohio River and in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In spite of the teasing and the bullying—and the pain they caused—Truman wasn’t ashamed of who he was, which was what led him to wearing the fated T-shirt that got him in so much trouble his first day as a freshman at Summitville High School.

The incident occurred near the end of the day, when everyone was filing into the school gymnasium for an orientation assembly and a speech from the school’s principal, Doug Calhoun, on what the returning students and incoming freshmen could expect that year.

Truman was in the crush of kids making their way toward the bleachers. High school was no different than grade school or junior high in that Truman was alone. And even though this was the first day of school, Truman already had a large three-ring binder tucked under his arm, along with English Composition, Biology, and Algebra I textbooks. Tucked into the notebook and books were papers—class schedules of assignments and the copious notes the studious Truman had already taken.

Kirk Samson, a senior and starting quarterback on the football team, knew the laughs he could get if he tripped this little fag in his pride-parade T-shirt, so he held back a little in the crowd, waiting for just the right moment to thrust out a leg in front of the unsuspecting Truman, whose eyes were cast down to the polished gymnasium floor.

Truman didn’t see the quarterback’s leg until it was too late, and he stumbled, going down hard on one knee. That sight was not the funniest thing the crowd had seen, although the pratfall garnered a roar of appreciative laughter at Truman’s expense. But what was funnier was when Truman’s notebook, books, and papers all flew out from under his arm, landing in a mess on the floor.

Kirk, watching from nearby with a smirk on his face, whispered two words to the kids passing by: “Kick ’em. Kick ’em.”

And the kids complied, sending Truman’s notes, schedules, and texts across the gym floor, as Truman, on his knees, struggled to gather everything up, even as more and more students got in on the fun of sending them farther and farther out of his reach.

Now, that was the funniest thing the crowd had seen.

Who knows how long the hilarity would have gone on if an authority figure had not intervened?

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About the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction.

He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…”

Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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New Release Blitz: Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? by Andy V. Roamer

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? |Andy V. Roamer

The Pizza Chronicles #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 55,100

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Blurb

RV is a good kid, starting his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School. Though his genes didn’t give him a lot of good things, they did give him a decent brain. So he’s doing his best to keep up in high school, despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots and insist on other rules.

Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His puny muscles. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all—that he might be gay.

Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher, who is gay and always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole.

But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.

Excerpt

Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Andy V. Roamer © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One—Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza?
Why can’t life be like pizza?

I’ve been asking myself the question a lot lately. I love pizza. Pizza makes me feel good. Especially since I discovered Joe’s. Joe’s Pizza is quiet and out of the way and allows me to think. And Joe’s combinations are the best. Pepperoni and onions. Garlic and mushroom. Cheese and chicken. And if you really want that little kick in the old butt: the super jalapeno. Mmmm, good. Gets you going again. And lets you forget all your troubles.

What troubles can a fourteen-year-old guy have? Ha! First of all, I’m not a regular guy, as anyone can guess from my taste in pizza. My parents are immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves here in the United States. Besides the usual things American parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in school, my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics, communism, fascism, global warming, and the fact they and their parents survived violence and jail so I-better-be-grateful-I’m-not-miserable-like-kids-in-other-parts-of-the-world.

Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable already. Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around the corner might be building.

I don’t know why I worry about everything, but I do. It’s probably in my genes. Other guys have genes that gave them big muscles or hairy chests. I got nerves.

And then there’s my name. RV. Yeah, RV. No, I’m not a camper or anything. RV is short for Arvydas. That’s right. “Are-vee-duh-s.” Mom and Dad say it’s a common name in Lithuania, which is the country in Eastern Europe where my parents were born. A name like that might be fine for Lithuania, but what about the United States? Couldn’t Mom and Dad have named me Joe, or Mike, or even Darryl? My brother, Ray, has a normal name. Why couldn’t they have given me one?

I even look a little weird, I think. Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that get in the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some zits lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty sight, is it? At least the glasses are not too thick. Mom and Dad don’t have a lot of money to spend, but they did fork up the money to get me thin lenses, so I don’t look like a complete zomboid.

What can I do? I try my best, despite it all. I’m lucky because I’ve done well in school, so at least my genes gave me a half-decent brain. Hey, I’m not bragging. It’s just nice to feel good about something when most days I feel pretty much a loser at so many things. When I was in grammar school, there were enough days when I came home from school and cried because some big oaf threatened me, or I got hit in the stomach during my pathetic attempts to play ball during recess.

Mom always tried to comfort me. “Nesirūpink,” she would say. “Esi gabus. Kai užaugsi, visiems nušluostysi nuosis.” We talk Lithuanian at home. Translated, that sentence means, “Don’t worry. You’re smart. When you grow up, you’ll show them.” Actually, not “you’ll show them,” but “you’ll wipe all their noses.” Lithuanians have a funny way of expressing themselves. Not sure I aspire to wiping anyone’s nose when I get older, but that’s what they say.

Whatever. I’m determined to put all that behind me. I’m starting a new life. My new life. Today was the first day of high school. I’m going to Boston Latin School. You have to take an exam to go there, so it’s full of smart kids. Besides smart kids, it has heavy-duty history too. It was founded in 1635, a year before Harvard. They already gave us a speech about that.

And about pressure. The pressure to succeed with all this history breathing down our necks. Pressure, ha! Doesn’t scare me. I know all about pressure. I’ve gotten pressure from cretinous bullies at school. I get it from cretinous Lith a-holes, who Mom and Dad keep pushing me to hang around with because they say it’s important to be part of the immigrant community. And I even get pressure from cretinous jerks in the neighborhood.

Cretinous. A good word. That’s something else about me. I like words. Real words and made-up ones. There’s something cool about them. Yeah, yeah, I know what people would say. You think words are cool? Kid, you’ve got more problems than you thought.

Well, I’m sorry. I do think words are cool. There’s something fun about making them up or learning a new one. Kind of unlocks something in the world. And I like the world despite all my worrying. It can be an okay place sometimes.

Okay, okay, I’m getting off track. I want to write about my first day of school. Mom and Dad gave me this new—well, refurbished, but new to me anyway—computer for getting into Latin school, and they keep after me to make good use of it. So, I’ve decided I’m going to write about my new life. My life away from cretins—Lith, American, or any other kind.

The first person I met at school today was Carole. Carole Higginbottom. She’s in my homeroom. She was sitting in the first row, first seat, and I was sitting right behind her. We started talking. She’s from West Roxbury, too, which is where we live.

West Roxbury is part of Boston. You have to live somewhere in Boston in order to go to Latin school. West Roxbury is a nice neighborhood, for the most part, with houses, trees, grass, and people going to work and coming home. Kind of an all-American place, I guess. We used to live in a different, tougher part of Boston, but Mom and Dad moved away from there because they said the neighborhood was getting too rough. They promised I wouldn’t get beat up so much in West Roxbury. I don’t know. West Roxbury is better, but I still have gotten a few black-and-blue marks with “made in West Roxbury” on them, so as far as I’m concerned it isn’t any perfect place either.

Carole lives in another part of West Roxbury, near Centre Street, which is the main street in the area. People like to hang out there. Mom says that part of West Roxbury is a little dicey. (Mom thinks a lot of neighborhoods are too dicey. Maybe that’s where I get my worrying from.) Anyway, Carole sure doesn’t seem dicey. As a matter of fact, she’s a little goofy. Tall and skinny with red hair, red cheeks, and a million freckles. And she has a really sharp nose that curves up like those special ski slopes you see in the Olympics. But I get the feeling she’s smart. She says she likes science. That’s good because I might need help with science. I’m better with other subjects like history and English.

Our homeroom teacher is Mr. Bologna, Carmine Bologna. He’s a little scary with slicked-back dark hair and even darker eyes that stare at you forever. He looks like he’s part of the organization we’re not supposed to talk about—you know, the scary one from Italy that’s into murder, racketeering, and drugs. Two guys were horsing around in the back of the class and Mr. Bologna came right up to them, said a few words under his breath, and just stared at them. Boy, did they settle down fast. I’m no troublemaker, but I’ll really have to watch myself. Don’t want to deal with the Bologna stare if I can help it.

Today was mostly about walking around, learning about our subjects, and meeting teachers. Besides all the regular subjects, I have to take Latin. I don’t have anything against it per se, but is it really necessary to learn a dead language? And then there’s the teacher, Mr. Aniso. He’s kind of light in his loafers. That’s another new phrase I learned recently. It refers to gay guys, and Mr. Aniso is so gay it hurts. I just hope he can’t tell anything about me. I don’t wave my wrist around the way he does, do I?

Yeah, that’s something else I have to come to terms with. I might be heading in that direction. Yeah, me. I can hardly believe it. Me! Why? It can’t be true, can it? I’ve been praying to God, asking Him not to make me gay, but I don’t think He’s listening. If He exists, that is. Maybe He’s not answering because He doesn’t exist.

I don’t know. People on TV and in books say being gay is okay. Movie stars and rock stars are gay. There are gay mayors and other gay political types. That’s fine for them, but they don’t live with my family. Mom’s a heavy-duty Catholic. Dad’s a macho, “what-me-cry?” kind of guy. And my younger brother, Ray, well, Ray probably doesn’t care one way or another, but he doesn’t count anyway since he hates everybody. And then there are all those Lith immigrants, the community that’s so important to Mom and Dad. Most of them are so Old World and conservative. I don’t think being gay would go down well with them.

Not that I am gay for certain. I’m just saying it’s crossed my mind because…well, because I think about guys sometimes. And I notice them. Notice how they look when they’re coming down the street. Notice their eyes or their hair or the way they move. Just notice them.

Oh, I notice girls, too, but something about guys is different. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think about them as much or maybe more than girls. And I want to be with them. Is that normal? What’s normal anyway? To be honest, I’m so inexperienced. Never dated. Never even kissed anyone. Not like that anyway. No, I’ve spent my time worrying about communism, terrorism, and global warming. Like I said, I’ve always felt a little out of step with the rest of humanity.

Dealing with all this is just too much. To be nervous about things the way I am. To be speaking a language most people haven’t heard of. To have a strange name. To wear glasses and look nerdy. And now I might be gay? It’s all too confusing. I might as well start on antidepressants, or something stronger, right now.

But no. I try to look on the bright side of things. Take Carole for instance. She seems nice and fun, and maybe we’ll be friends. And if she likes me, I can’t be too weird, can I? I guess I’ll find out. I better not think about it. There’s enough to worry about as it is. I just have to take a breath and focus on my homework. Yeah, we got homework already. At least that’s one thing I’m good at. And when I go to Joe’s, well, life’s not so bad, at least while I’m eating my chicken and cheese or super jalapeno slice.

About the Author

Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books division and then wearing many other hats.

This is his first novel about RV, the teenage son of immigrants from Lithuania in Eastern Europe, as RV tries to negotiate his demanding high school, his budding sexuality, and new relationships.

He has written an adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon, under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.

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New Release Blitz: New Boy at the Academy by Sam Hawk

New Boy at the Academy | Sam Hawk

Tales from the Academy #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 25, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79,800

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Synopsis

Timmy had no clue that the first day of 10th grade at the Academy would rock his world. He thought it would be just like last year, with its endless bullying and recesses spent reshelving books in the library with his best and only friend Carleen. The sissy boy and the fat girl had bonded over their shared outcast status.

But Carleen shows up filled with sassy confidence and declares they’re going to rule the school. By Christmas, the freaks and nerds would be the cool kids, and the mean girls and jocks would be the outcasts. Something had happened to her over the summer, but what?

And then, the two of them lay eyes on the new boy at the Academy. Doug has auburn feathered hair, veiny biceps, and green eyes the color of Sprite bottles. Plus, he’s come all the way from exotic Los Angeles, California. He rocks out to Patti Smith while Timmy loves ABBA. How does someone so cool end up in tiny, conservative Edgewood, South Carolina?

When Carleen immediately declares Doug a fox and her new prospective boyfriend, Timmy is shocked at his jealous reaction. He’s not supposed to like boys in that way, is he? Doug stirs up weird new emotions deep inside him as Timmy embarks on the adventure of his life. He and his hometown will never be the same.

Excerpt

New Boy at the Academy
Sam Hawk © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Edgewood, South Carolina

1980

God didn’t answer my prayers and bring the Rapture on Labor Day, so I had to start tenth grade after all. I stepped in front of the mirror to assess my new back-to-school outfit. I hated it. I’d begged Momma to buy me the alligator shirt from Belk’s, which really cost her a lot, but did it have to hug my body so much? I tried stretching it out, but it would only stretch so far. I thought I’d look like Tom Selleck with his big veiny arms. Instead, I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy. I was trying to flex my chest when Momma walked in.

“Honey, get a move on. We have to be out the door in fifteen minutes, and you haven’t even touched your Pop-Tarts.”

“Momma, I think I need to change clothes.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked as she pulled and tugged on my shirt. “This is what you wanted. You look very handsome.”

“But it fits so close.”

“Timmy, I have told you time and again you’re not fat. It’s all in your head. You are absolutely average on the height and weight scale and exactly where you need to be at fifteen.” She patted my tummy, causing me to suck in. “You’ll lose that little bit of pudge in no time in gym class.”

My heart sank at the thought of gym class, and I almost lost my appetite for Pop-Tarts. Almost. Momma smoothed down my cowlick at the kitchen table as I bit into the brown sugar cinnamon pastry.

“Thank goodness you inherited the Ashburn hair,” she said. “Such a beautiful chestnut brown and such a noble hairline. It’s a sign of your aristocratic heritage, you know, on my side of the family. All the Ashburn men had beautiful hairlines. Thank goodness you take after me and don’t have your daddy’s stringy mess.”

I guessed my hairline was okay, but my new haircut was way too short. Daddy had taken me to get it cut only after Momma called him ten times to remind him. He and Momma got divorced when I was two, and it was always weird when he came by, which wasn’t often. Naturally, he took me to the awful old barbershop next to the pool hall instead of the new unisex salon in the Augusta Mall I was secretly hoping for. He told the barber to “buzz it” and then went next door for a beer. I managed to talk the barber into keeping a little length, but not much.

“Now go brush your teeth quick as a bunny rabbit,” said Momma. “Carleen’s mother called this morning and said her car’s not running and could I run by and pick her up for school. So, we have no time.”

Carleen’s house was across the tracks, and I knew Momma didn’t like going over there, but Carleen had been my best friend since kindergarten. Actually, you could say she was my only friend. She was the only one I talked to for hours on the phone at night; the only one I hung out with after school; the only one to ever invite me to a sleepover, which Momma had never allowed me to do since boy-girl sleepovers just weren’t done. I hadn’t seen her all summer because she’d been working at her grandparents’ peach farm. I was glad we’d be going to school together on the first day. I needed my friend with me.

We pulled in front of the house, and Carleen came right out.

“Good Lord, Carleen’s put on even more weight this summer,” said Momma.

Momma was right. Carleen had always been the biggest girl in class, and she wasn’t getting any smaller. I recognized her smock top from last year. A smock top was supposed to fit loose, but hers pulled in all the wrong places.

“Hey, Carleen,” said Momma as Carleen got in the car. “You sure do look pretty for your first day of school.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Thompson,” said Carleen. I waited for an eye roll, but she just smiled at Momma like she really believed it. I looked at her more closely, and there was something different about her. Was it confidence? If so, it was new. Was that lip gloss she was wearing?

“Hey, Timmy, did you hear we’re getting a new boy in our class this year?”

“No,” I said, dreading the addition of another redneck bubba to the roster.

“They say he’s from California and he’s real cute.”

“Really? California?” said Momma. “What’s he doing here?”

“I think his momma’s people are here. He’s related to all those Herlongs.”

“Does that explain the lip gloss?”

“Timmy, don’t be rude,” said Momma.

“I just wanted to look pretty for the first day of school,” replied Carleen.

“And you do,” said Momma.

When Momma pulled up in front of Patriot Christian, Carleen looked me square in the eye and gave me a big smile and a thumbs-up.

“Come on, Timmy. We’re gonna rule the school in tenth grade. Let’s do it.”

Meet the Author

Sam Hawk’s fiction is inspired by his experiences at a private Christian Academy in rural South Carolina in the ’70s. He survived his Southern adolescence with his sanity relatively intact and went on to earn degrees from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Law School.

He also served in the US Army as a JAG officer for twelve years. He resigned his commission when it became clear he was expected to persecute homosexuals as part of his job.

Sam then moved to Dallas, Texas where he met the man of his dreams and found his LGBT family. Sam and his husband have been married for over ten years and live with their Corgi and Chartreux cat in the requisite charming old house in a historic district where gay couples are legally compelled to live.

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