New Release Blitz: Poz by C. Koehler #ContemporaryRomance #LGBTQ @christopherink @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Poz

Series: The Lives of Remy and Michael, Book One

Author: C. Koehler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/25/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, young adult, sports, family-drama, gay, HIV positive, HIV, AIDS, in the closet, coming out, rowing, illness/disease

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Description

Even at an allegedly gay-friendly high school, being out isn’t easy, not if you play a sport. Remy didn’t just play a sport, he lived for a sport. He bled crew and rowed with his best friend, Mikey. He’d known him forever but was a year ahead of him in school and crew, varsity to his JV. But then something changed. They were on the way to a regatta in San Diego and suddenly they noticed each other. Remy don’t know what happened. They’d changed in front of each other in the locker rooms all the time at school. But Remy’d never looked and suddenly all he could do was stare.

Remy thought Mikey felt the same, yet somehow Mikey didn’t want a relationship. Whatever, Remy didn’t have time for drama. They had a major regatta to prepare for. They make apps to help lonely young men to find temporary companionship, and let’s just say, Remy enjoyed the summer before his senior year. Then everything caught up with him and it all came apart.

Mikey was furious, but if he didn’t want a relationship, why was he angry? It turned out there was a price for playing around, and when Remy got sick, he had to wonder, where would Mikey be?

Excerpt

Poz
C. Koehler © 2020
All Rights Reserved

When all this started, my older brother Geoff didn’t know I was gay, at least not to my knowledge. I’d called him “Goff” when we were really young because I couldn’t pronounce his name. He’d called me “Germy” because he couldn’t say Jeremy. He still calls me Germy, even though everyone else calls me Remy. I still called him Goff, so I guess that was fair.

Goff was thirteen minutes older—we were twins of the fraternal variety—and he milked that older bit like a Holstein cow. Thirteen minutes, but you would have thought it was thirteen years. Anyway, he played football. He looked out for me, or at least tried, but he was and is straight as a plank. We wrangled a lot, still do, but he saved me from a lot of homophobic hassling, sometimes at the hands of his own friends, without even knowing I was gay, which was pretty cool of him.

“Teammates,” Goff would say. “They’re not my friends, not if they’re giving you shit.”

He was a good guy when he wasn’t being an asshole.

That said, Goff never understood a fundamental part of me, at least not until I came out to him. I guess that was my fault though. How could he when I’d never told him I was gay? But how could I when I couldn’t have borne losing my brother? He was my twin, the person I was closest to in the world. Losing him would’ve meant losing a part of me. We fought like cats in a gunnysack and it drove our parents crazy, but they never understood that we went to the trouble of irritating one another because we loved one another. We certainly weren’t going to tell one another that. We were (and are) teenage males. Dad was a shrink. Dr. Babcock should’ve gotten that but didn’t.

So anyway, Goff missed a major piece of who I was and everything that went along with it. Now I wouldn’t say all teenage boys were sex-obsessed, just every one I’ve ever encountered. But he had all the sex he wanted and had no idea what it’s like not getting it. For me, it was not being gotten. So, I was horny as hell in high school and about to burst. That was the start of all my problems, I guess.

Our family lived in Davis, an über-liberal organo-groovy college town about seventy miles from San Francisco. Davis had bought into Cesar Chavez’s grape boycott, which I read about in history class; it made itself a nuclear-free zone, which was kind of a joke when UC Davis boasted a particle accelerator of its very own. Besides, what good would the declaration of being a nuclear-free zone have done? Protect the city if the US and the USSR had nuked each other? There were three major Air Force bases around the city during the Cold War. There’d have been a bright-blue flash and then nothing. Good luck with that nuclear-free zone. The city was also a declared sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. I could go on, but why bother? A homecoming prince even brought his boyfriend to prom one year. As a gay kid, I should’ve been golden in a city and high school like this.

But someone forgot to send my parents that memo, or at least my mother. Mom was a smart woman—she majored in chemistry in college and went on to become a drug rep for a pharmaceutical company after she decided getting a PharmD wasn’t for her—but she was oblivious sometimes, especially where Goff and I were concerned. Of both our parents, she was the louder with the compulsory heterosexuality messaging, things like telling me I was morally obligated to take some unpopular (read: fat with braces) girl to the prom. She said it was my “gentlemanly duty” or some such bull, but Goff and I both knew it was because she herself had been fat with braces in high school. She wasn’t doing it deliberately—trying to make me miserable—but she succeeded admirably.

Women in Mississippi had taken their girlfriends to prom, or at least tried. Hell, even in Davis a few years ago, the aforementioned homecoming prince took his boyfriend, but my mom? She thought I had to make life better for every desperate and dateless girl out there, just to restore some cosmic balance because her life sucked during high school. Why didn’t she get that this was my life, my one-way ticket through high school, not her do-over?

When I said things like that, her response was, “I think you can take one evening out of your life to make a difference in someone else’s.” Given the essentially obligatory service hours necessary to get into college these days, I thought I already had.

My boyfriend could’ve plowed me on the table at Thanksgiving, and she would have still said that. If I’d had a boyfriend. Well, there was Mikey Castelreigh. He wanted to be my boyfriend. I thought of him more as a kid brother even though he was only a year younger. I felt like there was a big difference between a sophomore and a junior in high school, however. Mikey looked like he missed the puberty train. I had a left hand. What I needed was a close friend who was gay. Mikey fit that bill very well.

Even at good ol’ tolerant, GSA-sporting Davis High, it wasn’t easy being different. We were still teenagers. Being smacked on the ass with the gay wand when I was born didn’t change that. I wanted to think Mikey understood that. I think what Mikey didn’t get was why we couldn’t be friends with benefits. Uh…because it would have been like blowing my brother? If I had a brother who swung that way. But then, as has been pointed out to me many times, I also saw what I wanted to see and not always what was really there. Or boats. I saw rowing-related things very clearly. It was life that tripped me up at every turn.

But telling my parents? Like that would ever happen. Hear that flapping noise? That was the pigs flying out of my butt, which would happen right before I’d tell my parents I liked the cock. I never got the best vibe off them where that was concerned. Sure, they had gay and lesbian, even trans, friends, but it was different when it was their kid, you know? They were on a need-to-know basis where my life was concerned. Coming out? Survey says: No!

Goff told our parents about a lot of things that went on his life—whereas I told them very little—but then he and I had very different relationships with them.

“So how’s that working for you, Goff?”

“Shut it.”

I smiled, but it was really more of a smirk. “Still think having the olds know every single detail’s harmless?”

“You’re really kind of a dick sometimes, you know that?”

“Everybody has to be something, I guess.”

“Really? I thought you were more of an asshole.”

He had no idea what he was doing to me with this conversation. I mean, the homoerotic subtext was barely sub. Sure, Mikey and I were going to die laughing about it later, but right then I had to bite my tongue, and that was kind of painful.

I looked at him for a few moments, totally expressionless. Just long enough that he’d gone back to his homework. Just long enough to make him squirm. “What? You’re creeping me out.”

“I could’ve sworn I heard you say stop sleeping in your bed when you sneak out to see your girlfriend.”

Mom and Dad never checked on me. Ever. I never gave them a reason to. Goff? Too many. Neither of us was stupid enough to think pillows under the blankets would fool them, but me in his bed? Physically we were nothing alike, but at least I made breathing sounds. We had a Jack and Jill bedroom setup where our rooms met in a common bathroom. We locked the bathroom door leading into the hallway and put the pillows in my bed, I moved to his, and he was out of there. He always showed his gratitude.

“You… That’s harsh, man.”

“Times are hard.”

Goff threw down his pen. “Why’re you doing this?”

“Because it’s almost summer, which means fall’s not that far away, which means neither is the prom, and it’s never too early to present a united front.”

“You’re really twisted, you know that?”

I shrugged. “And you know she’ll try to get you to take someone besides your girlfriend, since you quote, unquote haven’t been dating that long.”

“They’re not that bad,” Goff said, sighing.

“Have it your way, but don’t come whining to me when Mom does exactly that.” It’s not that I was smarter than Goff. I wasn’t. But I was smarter in different areas, like sneaking. It was like he didn’t have an ounce of guile in him. Apparently, I received both our shares. Somehow, and despite getting him into endless trouble when we were children, he still trusted me. Maybe it’s because as we grew older, I got him out of scrapes, at least when I knew about them in time.

Maybe I shouldn’t have complained. Goff got the same kind of nonsense from our parents, too, and never mind that he had a girlfriend. She wasn’t even a cheerleader. She was supersweet and amazingly intelligent. He met Laurel because I brought her home to study for AP Biology I. It took him a few months of whining like an Irish setter, but they eventually took to studying each other’s biology. I knew this because Goff was too chickenshit to buy his own condoms, so I had to buy them for him.

Speaking of shit of whatever species, Goff was in it because a teammate was caught dealing molly. Goff’s friend slash teammate was busted by the cops at a team party. Oddly enough what our parents freaked out about was that Geoff had alcohol on his breath. He blew a 0.12 as a matter of fact. I think that was half again the legal limit. Yeah, hi, Mom and Dad, he was at a party where the host was busted for dealing Ecstasy. You maybe want to focus on the larger picture? Or maybe they were, because I knew for a fact my brother didn’t and wouldn’t take drugs. Anyway, Goff couldn’t fart without them breathing down his neck for a while.

But if I’d known about the party, I’d have told him to watch his step, because rumors of drug-dealing by members of the football team had been flying around school for weeks. At the very least, he might’ve limited himself to a beer or two instead of getting trashed. Then Goff could’ve told the olds, “Sorry, Mom and Dad, I know it showed bad judgment, but I planned to call Germy to come and get me.” And I’d have absolutely covered for him. For that matter, he could have gotten trashed, and I’d still have picked him up if he had warned me in time to cover for him.

Weirdly enough, they were totally permissive where I was concerned. They thought I was a late bloomer and hoped the talks they gave Goff about sex applied to me, too, because they made me sit down and listen to every single one of them, not that they contained anything I needed to know. But the last one? I couldn’t take it anymore and I cranked up the sarcasm. It bugged Dad, I knew that for sure, and I was pretty sure I managed to irritate Goff, and never mind the fact that he was sick of those talks too. Goff already knew not to get his girlfriend pregnant and to make sure he was in charge of his birth control.

Except for the condom buying. I was in charge of that.

“Could you maybe shut up, Germy? This is bad enough without your sniping.”

Dad nodded. “Please listen to your brother. I get that you may be too old for these, but you’re not making this easier on any of us. If you stop, I promise this will be the last one.”

“You’ve said that every time, Dad. Yet here we are, another ho-hum day in paradise listening to these riveting talks,” I said acidly. “I think we’ve got a lock on the prevention of premature grandparenthood. Not much else, but babies are definitely one sexually transmitted parasite we can rule out. Maybe someday we can move on to spirochetes.”

“Jeremy…” Dad said in that warning tone of his. It held a hint of a threat, but what did I care? I’d heard it all my life and it had long since ceased to have the desired effect. It was more proof that I was the changeling, the odd Babcock out.

These things were so stupid. Take today’s lecture. Please. Dad actually had the nerve to refer to the labia as a butterfly. How the hell was I supposed to keep a straight face when confronted with that? Dad was going on about female anatomy again, trying to help Goff—and presumably me—locate the G-spot. I would never need to know, and based on the noises issuing from Goff’s room of an evening, he already knew exactly where to find it. What I needed—what we both needed—was basic information on sexually transmitted infections. Anatomy had been covered in eighth-grade sex ed.

Yet this was vintage Dad, blithely charging ahead, with Goff in tow more or less willingly and me digging in my heels every step of the way. I could not say Dad never heard, if only because sound waves did stimulate his auditory nerves. It never changed his behavior, however, and trying to persuade Dad was like arguing with the wind for all the good it did, at least not once he had a notion fixed in his mind. Mom had some facility in managing him, but then, she had more experience. Goff and I were only teenagers, so what did we know? I was convinced that was how Dad’s thought processes ran. The bizarrissimo part of it all was that Goff was the good twin whereas I questioned everything, fighting anything I thought absurd with tooth and claw. I had even overheard Dad say as much when he thought he was unobserved. Yet Dad—both parents, really—kept Goff on a shorter leash.

I thought this different treatment was because of our different sports, I really did. Football? Sure. Everyone knew the deal or thought they did. What they really knew was the reputation that came from a bunch of idiotic movies. Goff sure wasn’t like that, and most of his football friends weren’t either. But crew? They had no idea about crew, not really, and never mind the stupid amounts of parental involvement my club required. No, when Mom and Dad were in college, rowers were pale, muscular gods and goddesses who walked the campuses, ate obscene amounts of food after their early-morning practices without gaining a pound, and stuck mainly with their own kind. They told me as much. That my club’s juniors program practiced in the afternoon must have thrown them off my scent, because I had a tan despite the sunblock.

Seriously, I got away with murder. Or at least I did the summer before my senior year, and the person I killed—or almost killed—was myself. After that? I lived on Cellblock Q.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Christopher Koehler always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until his grad school years that he realized writing was how he wanted to spend his life. Long something of a hothouse flower, he’s been lucky to be surrounded by people who encouraged that, especially his long-suffering husband of twenty-nine years and counting.

He loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it’s in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.

While writing is his passion and his life, when he’s not doing that, he’s a househusband, at-home dad, and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and the other ways people behave badly.

Christopher is approaching the tenth anniversary of publication and has been fortunate to be recognized for his writing, including by the American Library Association, which named Poz a 2016 Recommended Title, and an Honorable Mention for “Transformation,” in Innovation, Volume 6 of Queer Sci Fi’s Flash Fiction Anthology.

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Release Blitz: M4M by Rick R. Reed #LGBTQ #ContemporaryRomance @rickrreed

Title: M4M

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 31, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, online dating apps, deception, HIV, men over 40, grief

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Synopsis

Three great stories. One great love. VGL Male Seeks Same Poor Ethan Schwartz. It seems like he will never find that special someone. At age forty-two, he’s still alone, his bed still empty, and his 42-inch HDTV overworked. He’s tried the bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find one another, but for Ethan, it never works out. He wonders if it ever will. Should he get a cat? But all of that is about to change… NEG UB2 Poor Ethan Schwartz. He’s just had the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s been diagnosed HIV positive. Up until today, he thought his life was on a perfect course. He had a job he loved and something else he thought he’d never have: Brian, a new man, one whom Ethan thought of as “the one.” The one who would complete him, who would take his life from a lonely existence to a place filled with laughter, hot sex, and romance. But along with the fateful diagnosis comes another shock—is Brian who he thinks he is? Status Updates Ethan finds himself alone once more and wonders if life is worth living, even one with a cat. Via a Facebook friend request, an old nemesis appears, wanting to be friends. Ethan is suspicious but intrigued because it seems this old acquaintance has turned his life around…and the changes just might hold the key to Ethan getting a new lease on life…and love.

Excerpt

M4M Rick R. Reed © 2020 All Rights Reserved Ethan Schwartz was alone. At forty-two, the state of being alone was almost like having another person by his side, a person he was growing to know more and more intimately with each passing night in his too-big-for-one bed. In fact, Ethan sometimes wondered if being alone was his natural state of being. Perhaps it was simply his fate to spend his evenings in front of his brand-new forty-two-inch Toshiba HDTV, watching classic 1940s movies from an endless queue at Netflix. He wondered if his life would ever change. Maybe he would continue to go to work at his job as a publicist for several Chicago theater companies, come home about seven o’clock, nuke a Lean Cuisine, fall asleep in front of the TV, and repeat the routine until he expired. He had thought, as he tossed in bed at night, in those endlessly stretching hours slogging their way toward dawn, of getting a dog or even a cat. He envisioned himself walking into his apartment door at night, greeted by a French bulldog’s grin or the slightly harlotish leg rub of a Maine coon. But an animal just didn’t seem like—well, it just didn’t seem like enough. In the above scenario, he also imagined a man coming in the same door minutes later and Ethan getting the four-legged companion riled up by saying “Daddy’s home!” No, Ethan knew—in his heart of hearts—he wanted an animal of the two-legged variety, one who would talk back to him, one he could spend long autumn weekends in Door County with, one he could take out to dinner parties and bring home to his family at Christmas. He wanted an animal that wouldn’t shed and would need little housebreaking. Well, at least not much. At forty-two, Ethan had lowered expectations. He also dreaded the thought of subjecting some poor tabby or Boston terrier to a solitary existence much like his own. After all, the stand-in-for-a-boyfriend pet would spend most of its time roaming the apartment by his or her lonesome and staring mournfully out the window because of Ethan’s long hours at work. He knew from experience that subjecting an unsuspecting animal to an existence akin to his own would be cause for calling out the SPCA. So Ethan would have to go on dreaming of meeting Mr. Right in human form and continue to watch as those dreams faded into wispy gossamer as the years relentlessly marched toward old age. Already Ethan found it necessary to use a moisturizer on his face and a depilatory on his back. His dark brown hair he kept buzzed close to his skull in an effort to minimize its traitorous thinning. Starting at around age thirty-two, every year he’d added a pound or two to his five-foot-ten-inch frame, and every year that pound or two became harder and harder to lose, in spite of long, sweaty hours on the treadmill or a diet consisting chiefly of the frozen culinary delights of the people at Smart Choice, Lean Cuisine, or South Beach Diet. Heading toward middle age sucked…especially when you were doing it alone. Tonight Ethan dug in the Doritos bag for one remaining chip of decent size while glued to the adventures of Ugly Betty. Why couldn’t he at least find a nice nerd, as Betty once had? Why couldn’t he at least have a little drama at work, like the Mexican magazine assistant faced every single day of her charmed life? Ethan’s days were spent trying to chat up theater critics in hopes of persuading them to write a review or feature on whatever play he was pushing that week. Or he holed up in his cube and wrote the same press release over and over, with only the titles, venues, and dates changed. When he had taken the job ten years ago, he’d thought the free nights out at the theater would be a great way to get dates. He’d assumed he would meet lots of handsome actors, and they would all want to cozy up to the publicist who could get them so much press. He’d thought wrong. Ethan got up and shut off the TV and threw his Doritos bag in the trash. He stretched and looked out the window. His move to this North Side Chicago neighborhood had been another misguided romantic maneuver, one that started full of hope and confidence and had been dashed by cold reality. He felt even more isolated and alone as he looked down from his studio apartment on Halsted Street, the blocks between Belmont and Addison that Chicagoans referred to as Boystown. When he had rented the little studio above a gay bookstore a decade ago, he had reasoned that wrangling a date would be no more difficult than hanging out his third story window with a smoldering gaze and a come-hither pout. He had reasoned wrong. Shortly after Ethan had moved in and hung his first Herb Ritts poster, Boystown had begun quickly gentrifying itself. Most of the gays moved farther north to Andersonville or even Rogers Park. Sure, gay bars still lined the street, and the teeming throngs continued to taunt him with luscious examples of masculinity on the prowl, but it had been a long time since one of the minions had made his way up the creaking stairs to Ethan’s studio. Oh, he supposed he could throw on some jeans, T-shirt, and his Asics and run across the street to Roscoe’s or any of the other watering holes lining the rainbow-pyloned avenue, but he had been to that dry well too many times to even consider it. Every year, it seemed, there was a new crop of gorgeous twentysomethings laughing and drinking…and practiced in the art of ignoring nice but nondescript men like Ethan. One could only endure so long the hours of standing against a wall, Stella Artois in hand, trying to look approachable and then never being approached. It didn’t do much for the ego. And it didn’t do much for the wallet. Or the self-esteem. Or certainly the romantic, or even sex, life. No, the bars had long ago lost their allure, becoming more and more an exclusive club for younger gays looking to hook up, or dance, or text message each other…or whatever other ways they found these days to make Ethan feel old. Besides, Ethan hoped for a more meaningful connection. And with each gray hair, each crow’s-foot and laugh line stamped upon his features, he despaired of ever finding it. He padded into the little bathroom and gasped as a cockroach beat a hasty retreat into a crack between the baseboard and linoleum-tiled floor. He shook his head and thought that even the bugs wanted nothing to do with him. He looked at his tired face in the mirror and laughed. “Jesus,” he said to his reflection, “you’re pathetic.” He held his aging mug up to the light cast by the overhead fixture and said, “What’s wrong with everybody? You’re not so old. You’re not so bad.” And indeed, Ethan spoke the truth. He looked every bit of his forty-two years, but that was still pretty young, wasn’t it? Didn’t somebody at the office just yesterday say something about forty being the new thirty? And his face, while certainly not Brad Pitt sexy, was pleasing, with a nice cleft in his chin, a strong nose, and deep blue eyes framed by long black lashes. His lips were a bit thin—a gift from his German father—and he could probably use some sun to give his pasty complexion a little pizzazz, but all in all, it wasn’t a face one would run from, screaming into the night. It was every bit as cute as a Tom Hanks or Will Ferrell. Ethan pulled his toothbrush from the medicine cabinet and decorated its bristles with orange gel—when had toothpaste gone orange?—and gave his teeth a savage brushing, even though his dentist always admonished him about that, telling him a slow, gentle course was the way, lest he wanted to erode his gums entirely away. But Ethan had never been able to dissuade himself from the idea that the harder the brush, the whiter the teeth. He spit and wiped his mouth on the hand towel and headed back into the common area to pull out his queen-size—hush!—futon for another night of lonely slumber. Tomorrow, he thought, he had to do something about his depressing state. And he did not mean moving out of Illinois. Somewhere there had to be a companion for him, just waiting. His dream man wasn’t in all the places he had fruitlessly checked, like the bars, backstage, and in his office. But he was out there, and like Ethan, he too was pulling the covers up by himself and thinking the answer to the riddle of how to escape a solitary existence was just within reach. Just before he fell asleep, he wondered if his mystery man also cynically told himself the same thing every night. “Shut up!” Ethan cried into the darkness. And then whispered, muffled into his pillow, “Tomorrow will be different. I just know it.”

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NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet 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…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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