True Colorz is your web source for all things YA in the LGBTQ community! Our blog features new releases, featured authors, interviews, and reviews/recommended reading.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Featured Author & Giveaway: Jay Bell

Jay Bell
Jay Bell never gave much thought to Germany until he met a handsome foreign exchange student. At that moment, beer and pretzels became the most important thing in the world. After moving to Germany and getting married, Jay found himself desperate to communicate the feelings of alienation, adventure, and love that surrounded this decision, and has been putting pen to paper ever since.

Connect with Jay Bell on Twitter @JayBellBooks or visit his website:

Q&A with Author Jay Bell:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

    Tim Wyman, from Something Like Winter. As for what I would do, I would take my shirt off and stare at myself in the mirror all day. I’m not a superficial person when it comes to appearance. How I or anyone else looks matters less and less to me the older I get, but I always thought it would be fun to have muscles without the tedious effort of having to workout every day.

    But that’s not really my answer. I think I would rather be Tim’s dog Chinchilla. She’s a character in her own right, so I believe that counts. Anyway, I would love to hang out with Ben and Tim, spy on their new life together, witness the wonderfully mundane moments they share. I bet they have a very loving home, and I’d love to witness their relationship from the outside. Besides, being a dog for a day would be incredibly cool! If I got bored watching Ben and Tim, I could take a stroll down the street and pee on a bunch of stuff. Bonus!

  2. Kamikaze Boys is about two very brave high school students who never give up.  Please tell us what inspired you to write Connor and David? 

    With Kamikaze Boys, I wanted to capture a rough time I went through from about twelve to fifteen years old. I had just moved to Texas and didn’t fit in at all. Like David, I was bullied every day and dreaded going to school. I wish I had expressed that feeling more in the book, how just the thought of having to face another day of school made me almost physically ill with fear. I was terrified—every single day—for years. Eventually I hit bottom, or maybe I snapped, and I started lashing out. I became a very destructive person, and while I ended up causing a lot of terror and pain myself, I still believe it was the only way for me to survive.

    Later, when I was sixteen, I found balance. Love had a lot to do with that. I came out when I was sixteen and focused more on finding the right guy. My first boyfriend and I were together for nine months, which is a small eternity at that age. Basically I starting living the life that was best for me, no matter the consequences, and that helped to banish a lot of my anger and fear. In Kamikaze Boys, I sort of combined these two stages of my life. David learns to let go of fear and harness his anger, but luckily he has Connor to help temper this out before it becomes too self-destructive. I didn’t have the benefit of someone like that, but I wear my scars with pride.

  3. Can you tell us a little about Ben and Tim’s journey in the Seasons series and how first love changes over time?

    Just the thought of first love makes my chest swell with warm sparkly feelings. There’s nothing more optimistic in the world, nothing with more potential, than young love. And I don’t mean the age of the people involved, but rather the feeling when a new love is born. The power of such love shouldn’t be underestimated, but it also has its limits. We’ll get to that in a second. First, let’s talk about Ben and Tim.

    At the beginning of Something Like Summer, Ben as a character has very little room to grow. He’s loyal, brave, and has a good head on his shoulders. His only flaw might be his willingness to sacrifice almost anything for love, but personally, I consider that a virtue. The real conflict begins when Ben becomes divided, when he has two loves worth fighting for. Later in his life, Ben gets his first true taste of fear when he loses someone dear to him, and oddly enough, it’s the decades of unrelenting bravery that makes him unprepared for this.

    Tim, at the beginning of Something Like Winter, is Ben’s opposite. He’s absolutely riddled with fear. To Tim, love is a complete mystery, unlike Ben who wields the emotion like a sword. When two opposites such as Ben and Tim come into contact, it’s inevitable that they will have an influence on each other. Ben leads by example, showing Tim everything he could be, and even though it takes more than a decade of nurturing for that seed to sprout and bloom, Tim is forever a changed man.

    I don’t believe in karma in the metaphysical sense, but Ben and Tim’s journey is one of a good deed repaid.  All the times that Ben stepped into Tim’s life when he was weak and helped him—even at the expense to the stability of his own life—are finally repaid in the end. When Ben is weak, learns what it means to live with fear, that’s when Tim is able to play the shining knight and save him. And it was Ben that gave Tim this armor and polished it up.

    That brings us back to first love.  The tricky thing about meeting your first love again, is how all of those feelings come rushing back. The intoxication, the youth, the potential—they’re like a drug. The strength of these feelings have a limit, because eventually, reality catches up. We’re not who we were when first falling in love, and neither is the other person. Once the nostalgia dies down, we’re left to discover how much substance is left, so I don’t think Ben and Tim’s journey is over quite yet, but at least this time they will be on equal footing.

  4. What do you have coming up next?

    Well, I’m very excited to announce that the “Something Like…” books are becoming a proper series. I’m in the middle of writing Something Like Autumn right now, which is Jace’s life story. There’s a theme to that book that I’ve felt the need to tackle for some time, but readers will have to discover what it is for themselves. Something Like Spring will follow, and it will give us that outsider look at Ben and Tim’s relationship, although it won’t be told from Chinchilla’s perspective. Ha! Instead, we’ll be introduced to a new character while revisiting those from the previous three books. It’s important that Autumn come first though, since there are events in that story of importance to Spring. Once I’m done with the Seasons Series, well… who knows!

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    To be brave. Fear is the greatest opponent we face in life. Whether it’s our own, or the fear others have for us, we must learn to be brave. Fear can ruin your chances of falling in love, of working your dream job, and of being whoever you were meant to be. Remain true to yourself, live the life that makes you happy, and you’ll find all those people you worry about now will be happy for you too. At least if they love you they will be, and if not, you shouldn’t let them hold you back. Of course there’s a time and a place for all emotions, so if you’re standing in the road and a bus is hurtling your way, then please do feel fear and get out of the way! But when it comes to matters of the heart, be brave. Be braver than you ever have before, and you will find happiness.

Now Available from Jay Bell:

There are two sides to every story. When you’re Tim Wyman, sometimes there are three. Tim hoped moving to Texas would mean a new beginning, a chance to spread his wings, but he soon finds himself falling into the same tired patterns. Until he meets recklessly brave Benjamin Bentley. Suddenly a whole new world opens up to Tim—love, sex, warmth… home. Certain that society won’t understand what he and Ben have together, Tim struggles to protect their relationship, even if it means twisting the truth. As his lies slowly push Ben away, Tim learns that the greatest enemy can come from within. Buried beneath a decade of deceptions, Tim must claw his way to the surface in the hopes of learning to fly.

Something Like Winter, the companion novel to Something Like Summer, tells the story from Tim Wyman’s perspective, revealing new private moments and personal journeys.

Love, like everything in the universe, cannot be destroyed. But over time it can change. The hot Texas nights were lonely for Ben before his heart began beating to the rhythm of two words; Tim Wyman. By all appearances, Tim had the perfect body and ideal life, but when a not-so-accidental collision brings them together, Ben discovers that the truth is rarely so simple. If winning Tim’s heart was an impossible quest, keeping it would prove even harder as family, society, and emotion threaten to tear them apart. Something Like Summer is a love story spanning a decade and beyond as two boys discover what it means to be friends, lovers, and sometimes even enemies.

If the world is against you, don’t give up. Find yourself a kindred spirit. Then you can start fighting back. They say Connor, the one with the crazy eyes and creepy scar, tried to kill his old man. Lately he’s been seen hanging out with David, the gay guy who always eats lunch alone. They make an odd pair, the loser and the psychopath, and bad things happen to people who mess with them. Not that Connor and David are looking for trouble. Even when taking on the world, they seem more interested in each other than fighting. Kamikaze Boys is a story about breaking the chains that bind you and using them to beat down anyone that gets in your way. Better yet, it’s about holding hands with the guy you love while doing so.

Dueling with mad magicians, battling possessed beasts, and surviving endless hostile landscapes? Easy. Loving someone you weren't supposed to? That was hard. A faceless killer terrorizes the five lands, extinguishing from great distances the lives of even the most powerful men. It is from this murderer that Dylan is forced to flee. Only Tyjinn, a brash and unpredictable bodyguard, stands between Dylan and certain death. Rather than play it safe, Tyjinn makes an unusual proposal; to hunt the hunter. This isn't the only unorthodox idea he puts forth as an attraction blooms between the two young men. In the midst of uncountable obstacles and unforgiving odds, can Dylan really afford to recognize his own feelings?

From the cradle to the grave…

The Black Oligarch is dead. Some call his replacement a boy, others call him a threat. Cole lost everything the night he became Oligarch: his family, his home… even Jonah. Now he’s alone, left only with painful memories and the power to destroy the Five Lands.

When Dylan is sent to help Cole, he finds they have more in common than expected. They hope to build a new life together, but dark forces have other plans for them. The dead are rising, bringing secrets from the past that threaten to change their lives forever. Can Dylan guide a young man through the darkness and protect those he loves without making the ultimate sacrifice?

Something Like Winter Giveaway!

Jay Bell has generously donated a free copy of Something Like Winter for one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, please leave a comment below along with your email address. A winner will be chosen February 3rd.

Are you familiar with Jay's books? If so, tell us which character YOU would like to be. If not, tell us what you would do if you were a dog for a day!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Always Joey by Adelhardt H.

Always Joey by Adelhardt H.

Free Online Fiction
115 Pages

Blurb: Joey is forced to pair up with Jimmy for a school assignment. Too embarrassed to be seen with the school's biggest social outcast (who is also rumored to be gay), Joey agrees to go over to Jimmy's house to work on the project. Away from the scrutiny of their peers,
Joey finds that he actually enjoys Jimmy's company. But Joey quickly realizes that Jimmy has developed a crush on him, and although Joey likes the attention, he doesn't want to lead Jimmy on. Will Jimmy's strong feelings ruin their newly formed friendship?

Review: Jimmy is a seventeen-year-old boy who is ostracized at school because he's rumored to be gay. He hasn't had any friends in three years. Others perceive him to be sarcastic and mean, but that's purely a defense mechanism. He's very sensitive and longs for someone special in his life.

Joey is a popular kid, and like everyone else at school, avoids Jimmy like the plague. Much to his dismay, he's forced to partner with Jimmy for a project, and decides to work with him at Jimmy's house to avoid being seen with him in public. That kid could ruin his reputation.

Over the next several weeks, Joey begins to see the cracks in Jimmy's armor. He sees the boy who is desperately lonely and trying to latch onto whatever kindness Joey has to offer. He realizes how much he cares for Jimmy and wants to be his friend. He accepts that Jimmy is gay and that Jimmy has a crush on him; he is flattered by the attention. He even goes so far as to allow flirting between them, although he makes it clear to Jimmy that he's straight.

It's heartbreaking to see Jimmy so desperate for affection that he'll take whatever he can get, even if it means crushing on a straight boy. At the same time, it's heartwarming to see Joey befriend him and be so affectionate and comfortable with him, even though he just wants to be friends.

Jimmy gives Joey much cause for self-reflection, as Joey struggles to accept newfound feelings towards his friend.

This is a beautiful coming out story. Both characters are really sweet. If you enjoy young adult fiction with sweet, intimate moments, I highly recommend this one for you!

Review by Madison

Monday, January 21, 2013

Featured Author Stephani Hecht

Stephani Hecht
Stephani Hecht is a happily married mother of two. Born and raised in Michigan, she loves all things about the state, from the frigid winters to the Detroit Red Wings hockey team. Go Wings! You can usually find her snuggled up to her laptop, creating her next book or gorging on caffeine at her favorite coffee shop.

Connect with Stephani Hecht on Twitter @StephaniHecht or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Stephani Hecht:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? What would you do that day?

    Christian--he is in the best place to the most good for the rest to the characters. I would get him to make Taylor and James realize how much they like each other. Then I would make force him to make Jessica to realize just how great she is and that she doesn’t have to always worry just about others, that it’s okay to think of herself at times, too. Then I would give Dalton some big-brother advice. Before I moved on to Andy and told him to slow down and enjoy life more.

  2. Please tell us what inspired you to begin writing Young Adult?

    I had so many younger readers coming up, telling me that they were reading my adult books, that I decided it was time to give them a series of their own to enjoy.

  3. Can you tell readers a little bit about the Haven Coffee House Boys series?

    It’s about a group of lgbt high school friends, who are seniors, on of the cusp of young adult-hood. We get to watch them as they grow up and struggle through every day life.

  4. You deal with some serious issues in the series. Please tell us the importance it was for you to write about these issues that YA LGBTQ teens face?

    I didn’t want to hold back and sugar coat these issues, because this is what these kids face every day. I felt I owed it to them to make these books raw and real.

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    That while there is a lot of crap in the real, there is a lot more hope. That there is a lot of good out there and it always outweighs the good. That the cliché really is true, It Does Get Better.

Now Available from Stephani Hecht:

Sometimes the ones you love can hurt you the most of all.

Devlin is used to others thinking that he’s a jerk. He likes it that way. It makes it so, nobody ever expects too much of him. Only his close friends really know that soft side of him, and, that he’s never exposed enough so he can get hurt. Then Christian, Devlin’s boyfriend, needs him more than ever. Will Devlin be able to let his guard down enough, or will he risk losing Christian forever?

Excerpt from No Tea No Shade:

“I’ll miss you, Devlin,” Andy said in a strained voice.

“I’ll miss your ugly mug, too.”

Devlin was shocked to feel tears building up in his eyes. He quickly blinked them away since he never liked to show any emotions, viewing them as a weakness. It was hard, though, as he was going to be lost without his best friend. Andy helped keep him balanced and everything in perspective. It was going to be hard having to deal with life and all its crap without having Andy by his side.

Andy stepped back. “Make sure to take good care of Christian. Don’t do something stupid and lose him. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You know that, right?”

Devlin swallowed hard. “Yeah, I do.”

“Don’t be too hard on him. He only wants what’s best for you.”

“I know.”

“And try and get Taylor and James to get their heads out of their asses and realize that they like each other, will you? It got boring watching them stumble around months ago.”

Devlin laughed. “I’ll do my best, but they do seem determined to be stubborn about that one.”

“Watch out for that new kid, Dalton. Make sure he doesn’t get himself killed. He’s actually really likeable once you get past the skinny jeans and Gaga shirts.”

“I’ll try, but we both know what a smartass he is.”

“And for bloody hell, will you tell Jessica I forgive her for forgetting my birthday. Tell her she can make it up to me by buying me something sickeningly expensive when I get back.”

Devlin shoved his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. “Don’t tell her, but I think she has plans of throwing you a party when you get back.”

“That will do just nicely.” Andy looked over his shoulder and let out a sigh. “Well, I guess I kept Monster Dearest waiting long enough, so I better get going before I make her miss her hair appointment or anything.”

Andy turned to leave, but he paused and said one last thing. “Make sure you tell Christian to take care of you, too. I worry about you most of all.”

That took Devlin by surprise. “Why? I can take care of myself. I always have.”

“Yeah, and I always worry that one day you’re going to get tired, and there’s not going to be anybody there to catch you when you fall.”

With those final words, Andy got into the waiting limo and left.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Featured Author: Jax Cordoba

Jax Cordoba grew up learning the gift of gab from his Irish family, and soon turned his talent of weaving oral tales to writing silly stories. After college, a journalism degree with a minor in computer science led, with a surprising twist, into software design. A few years later, Jax returned to his silly stories, hoping to provide inspiration, and maybe a chuckle or two, to the younger generation struggling with bullies and all the other nasties of the world. He promises, hang on, it gets better.

Connect with Jax Cordoba on Facebook:

Q&A with Author Jax Cordoba:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

    I guess, the answer to that would be Cal, because I envy that strong confidence he has. If I had that for 24 hours, I'd probably be brave enough to go on a TV talk show and promote the book to the general public.

  2. Please tell us what inspired you to write Fate Lends a Leg?
    The original seed of the story I actually got from one of those "amazing but true" types of programs on TV. In one particular episode I watched, they had the story of a 3 year old boy in the U.S., who would spend hours a day, drawing pictures of airplanes with his crayons and talking about "the war", "the fuselage fire", and "worried about his buddies". After some research, the boy's father discovered he was drawing WW2 style planes. About a year later, the boy grew out of whatever phase he was in, and doesn't have memories of the incident now. The program got me to thinking, "What if the boy's memories returned later? How would such traumatic memories influence his choices in life?" So I jotted those notes into my plot bunny spreadsheet and later returned to them.

  3. What is one thing many people don’t know about you but you wish they did know?

    In the past, I've been wrongfully accused of being a snob. I'm really not. I think people can get that impression though, because I'm a bit of an introvert with some trust issues, so I don't open up easily, especially when first meeting people.

  4. Do you ever use real life experiences, people, and conversations when you write fiction or is it all from your imagination?

    Oh, I think all writers draw upon their own lives, to a certain extent, when writing stories. In the case of "Fate", I based the character of Bill on my own high school experience and the novel turned out much more autobiographical than I'd origionally planned. For me, it was a Christmas party where things got rough. Like Bill, I went into denial and downplayed the incident in my mind to just "a bad date"; in my case for many years.

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    Initially, I'd like them to have fun reading the novel and solving the mystery of the dreams along with the boys. And they should appreciate the many funny and sweet moments. I'd also like, when they finish the book, to be left with a sense of hope and wonder, remembering that the world is a very big and complicated place full of many fascinating things we only pretend to understand. Even when things seem their bleakest, don't give up. There's usually something very interesting just around the corner, waiting for us to discover.

Now Available from Jax Cordoba:

Teenage Olympic running hopeful Calvin Granger arrives in his new town angry about changing schools—again—and sad about leaving his boyfriend behind. Then he meets skittish cyclist Bill Moilet, and soon strange dreams and thoughts of Bill distract Calvin from his misery… until Calvin breaks his leg and his Olympic ambitions crumble. Cal’s injury does have one upside: it brings him closer to Bill, who offers to help him out while he’s recovering. But whenever they start to get too close, Bill clams up or disappears. To add to Cal’s frustration, living with a full-leg cast proves to be a miserable experience. When Bill finally begins to open up to Cal, the strange dreams become more vivid—dreams, Cal learns, that they share. Can the boys decipher what their subconscious minds are trying to tell them, or is history doomed to repeat itself?

Excerpt from Fate Lends a Leg:

        Much sooner than Cal would have expected, Bill returned. Cal watched Bill fight with the driver’s seat, pulling it up as far as it would go before he could comfortably reach the pedals. Cal handed over the car keys.
        “Where to?” Bill asked.
        “Just that burger joint down the road is fine.”
        Bill started the car. A rockabilly song came through the speakers. He reached over and turned the radio off before putting the car in gear and backing slowly out of the driveway.
        Bill drove without speaking, his light eyes darting from one mirror to another, then out ahead again.
        Steel. That’s the color, Cal thought. The color of Bill’s eyes shined like the gray-blue of Damascus steel.
        Pulling into the lot of the restaurant, Bill glanced over at Cal’s cast. “Just drive-thru, I assume?”
        “That’s fine.”
        Bill pulled up to the speaker and placed Cal’s order, but didn’t get anything for himself.
        They pulled up to the window. Cal reached forward toward the little tray in the center console to grab his wallet and noticed that Bill jerked his hand away. Watching more closely, Cal fished out some money and handed it to Bill, who sort of shrank back slightly before taking the cash and paying the employee. Bill handed over the change and the fast-food bag, being careful not to touch Cal.
        While Bill drove them back to his house, Cal kept a careful watch on him. Even though Bill’s eyes were always focused on driving, when Cal leaned over slightly toward him, Bill would also move over. It was like Cal had an invisible force-field around him that nudged Bill away when he moved closer.
        And Bill seemed completely unaware he was doing it. The strange behavior struck Cal as very odd.
        Back at the Granger house, Bill turned off the car. “Which one is the house key?” Cal pointed to the key.
        Bill jumped out of the car and rushed around to the passenger side, then opened the car door and retrieved the crutches from the backseat before handing them to Cal. As Cal slowly crawled out of the Camaro and managed to stand, Bill hurried to the porch, unlocked the front door, then came back to get the fast-food bag. Bill closed the car door when Cal was safely out of the way. He then ran back to the porch and held the screen door open for Cal. After they got in the house, Bill followed behind, still carrying the food bag as Cal slowly made his way to the dining room.
        Cal noticed in all of his super-speed running around, Bill never got within twelve inches of him. He sat down at the end of the dining table. While he fought with the crutches and tried to find a convenient place to put them, Bill put the bag on the table in front of him.
        Cal smiled appreciatively. “Did you want—”
        “Can’t stay, Mom will have dinner waiting,” Bill announced as he left.
        “Hey, you want to—” Cal yelled out before he heard the front door close. “—drive me to school tomorrow?” he said to an empty room.
        Cal ate his dinner, just thinking about Bill. He was a puzzle wrapped in an enigma. Taking another bite of the hamburger, Cal didn’t know which he should try to figure out first.

        Late that night, after finally falling asleep, Cal had the weird dream again. He stood in a forest, surrounded by trees, and he desperately had to find something. He tried to take a step forward, but his right leg felt strangely numb, and he couldn’t seem to bend his knee. But he had to move, had to find—
        Then the jolt of the cast banging into his left knee as he tried to roll over woke him.
        As that sense of desperation faded, Cal struggled to go back to sleep.

Friday, January 11, 2013

One Boy's Shadow by Ross McCoubrey

One Boy's Shadow by Ross A. McCoubrey

One Boy's Shadow by Ross A. McCoubrey

Published by iUniverse
434 Pages

Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Caleb Mackenzie doesn't put up a fight when his father announces the family is moving to Stapeton, Nova Scotia. In fact, Caleb looks forward to a fresh start in the scenic little area. Their new home, Wakefield House, sports large rooms, a big barn where Caleb can work on cars, and acres of forested land for privacy. But it also has a troubling past. In 1943, a boy who lived in the home vanished.

Caleb hears the stories about what may have occurred so many years ago, but he passes them off as folklore until one day he's alone in the woods and hears the faintest whisper. Did someone in the distance just call his name? And what about his discovery in the hayloft? Could there be something to those old stories after all?

The initial need to dismiss everything as coincidence becomes a soul-searching journey into the past where Caleb is determined to uncover the truth about what really happened to the missing boy. And in the process, he learns even more about himself and what's really important.
“I’ll cover your mouth with one hand to muffle any noise you make, I promise.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed.

Shane was giggling too as he said, “Guess that’s not very romantic, huh?”

"Not really. It’s oddly kinda hot, but, no, not very romantic.”

“Fair enough.” Shane flopped over on his back, still snickering.
Review: After experiencing several inexplicably creepy events on his family's new homestead (complete with creepy barn and creepy woods), Caleb realizes there's something to the stories he's heard about the place being haunted. I was on the edge of my seat (and wrapped tightly under a blanket) throughout most of the book as I pieced together what happened to Toby all those years ago. It was a delicious mystery that turned out to be an achingly beautiful tale of love and loss.

As Caleb and his friends uncover more and more of the truth regarding the 60-year-old mystery, they are forced to face their present-day fears and open up to each other in a way that causes them to form closer bonds of friendship, family, and love.

Although what happened to Toby (the ghost) is tragic, he is able to touch each of these boys in a very special way, and in the end, find his own peace. This is a remarkable tale beautifully told.

Ross McCoubrey is donating all proceeds from the sale of this novel to The Youth Project in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Learn more about the project on their website or visit them on Facebook.

Review by Madison

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Boy from Brighton by Geoffrey Knight

The Boy from Brighton by Geoffrey Knight True Colorz Honor Roll

The Boy from Brighton by Geoffrey Knight

Published by Geoffrey Knight
12,250 Words

Blurb: Seven-year-old Charlie thinks he is invincible. He is convinced he has a clock for a heart, which makes it impossible for him to die or feel the sort of heartache his mother always feels every time she and Charlie must flee another abusive loser who doesn’t deserve a woman like Charlie’s mum.

But yet again Charlie and his mum find themselves at Aunty June’s in Brighton on the south coast of England. And while Charlie’s mum seeks refuge, Charlie himself lets his curiosity get the better of him in his latest attempt to prove his own immortality.

That’s when he meets him.

The boy who saves Charlie’s life.

The boy from Brighton.

Review: Seven-year-old Charlie is wandering alone at the pier one morning when he takes a tumble that would've been deadly were he not rescued by an older boy named Ant. Unfortunate circumstances led each boy to be at that unusual place at that unusual time, but fate smiled upon them that day. Charlie is instantly enamored by the older boy, and they proceed to spend the day together, palling around and having a bit of an adventure until it's time to part ways.

Their interaction is all very sweet and innocent. Although the reader might identify Charlie's feelings as first love, Charlie is much too young to put words to his experience. He leaves Ant unsure if he'll ever see him again, but knowing somehow that Ant has made a lasting impression on him.

They followed above me as I started walking along the pier, past the shut doors of the Palace of Fun and the closed sideshow stalls, locked up tighter than a chest of treasure. It felt eerie and strange, like I was the only person left on Earth. Like everyone else had simply vanished, been eaten by those hungry seagulls, and now I was the only one left. My feet clippety-clopped along the planks of the pier in time with my tickety-tock alarm clock heart. I passed the restaurant and could smell the stale beer that had soaked into the boards the night before. I rounded the fun fair and the sealed-up dodge ‘em car rink and the scaffolding of a new rollercoaster ride that wasn’t here the last time Mum and me fled to Brighton.

I reached the very end of the pier and looked out at the far horizon.

There was nothing but water and a stupid old railing standing between me and France. I wondered whether or not my old clock would keep ticking if I tried to swim that distance. I wondered if Aunty June would jump into her Cavalier and go zooming over the hills of France to fetch me, steering wheel in one hand, ciggie in the other. I wondered if the sea was cold. I wondered if it was full of dolphins and turtles and mermaids, or full of rubbish people had rolled into the waves—rusty cars and broken prams and shopping trolleys with wonky wheels.
I love Geoffrey Knight's voice in this story. The characters and their surroundings spring to life in vivid detail, especially the sights and sounds Charlie experiences throughout his day. There's also quite a lot of humor throughout the story, which made it all the more enjoyable. The Boy from Brighton is nestling into a cozy little spot on my favorites shelf, where I will revisit it often!

Review by Madison

New Releases for January 2013

Featured New Releases:

By the Creek by Geoff Laughton

By the Creek by Geoff Laughton

Published by Harmony Ink Press

Soon-to-be high school junior David Harper hates his family’s move to the country. There’s nothing to do, and he misses his friends in the city. But he doesn’t have a choice. His mother’s job is in Mason County now, so David and his mom are too, and he has to make the best of it.

At first, the only redeeming feature of David’s new home is the swimming hole across the field from his house. Then David meets Benjamin Killinger, and suddenly life stops being so dull.

Benjamin is Amish, and cooling off in the swimming hole is one of the few liberties he and his brothers enjoy. A friendship with an English boy is not—but that doesn’t stop him and David from getting to know each other, as long as it's on the neutral ground by the creek. After David risks his life to save Benjamin’s father, the boys’ friendship is tolerated, then accepted. But before long, Benjamin’s feelings for David grow beyond the platonic. Benjamin's family and the rest of the community will never allow a love like that, and a secret this big can’t stay secret forever...

A Snowy Winter Path by Jackie nacht

A Snowy Winter Path by Jackie Nacht

Published by Divine Destinies

When Gray snowboards his way to the fork in the road, who will you choose for his happily ever after? An interactive ending.

Eighteen year old Grayson has been training hard to make it onto the Snowboard cross circuit until he hits a major growth spurt and his riding goes south. When he finds out he has an opportunity to get professional training and all is not lost, he realizes he has some tough decisions to make if he wants to make a go of being a professional snowboarder. He finds support from his best friend, Brody, and also from a most unexpected place—his brother’s training partner, Parker. While each of them help Grayson along the way, he also realizes both may be more interested in him being more than just friends. And now with his growing feelings, he needs to make a choice between the two. Who will be Grayson’s choose? An interactive ending where readers will get to choose the happily ever after.

The Battle for Jericho
by Gene Gant

The Battle for Jericho by Gene Gant

Published by Harmony Ink Press

A battle is brewing in the conservative little town of Webster’s Glen. Gay activist Dylan Cussler stirs up the establishment when he moves in with his boyfriend and sues the state over its gay adoption ban. Sixteen-year-old Jericho Jiles and his best friend, Mac Travis, decide to do their bit to convince Dylan and his boyfriend to leave town. But when Dylan turns up before they can finish trashing his house, Jericho panics, leaving Dylan unconscious and wounded.

Drowning in guilt, Jericho returns to Dylan’s home to make amends. He is surprised when Dylan forgives him and opens his eyes to the world around him. Soon Jericho comes to a life-changing realization: he is attracted to boys as well as girls. That’s a problem, considering Jericho has a girlfriend and very strict, very religious parents. Accepting his sexuality means he must question not only his identity and his place in the world but his relationship with his girlfriend, his parents, and with God.

No Tea No Shade by Stephani Hecht

No Tea No Shade by Stephani Hecht

Published by Divine Destinies

Sometimes the ones you love can hurt you the most of all.

Devlin is used to others thinking that he’s a jerk. He likes it that way. It makes it so, nobody ever expects too much of him. Only his close friends really know that soft side of him, and, that he’s never exposed enough so he can get hurt. Then Christian, Devlin’s boyfriend, needs him more than ever. Will Devlin be able to let his guard down enough, or will he risk losing Christian forever?

The Divide: Uprising (The Divide, Book One)

The Divide: Uprising by Kim Flowers

Published by Queerteen Press

During the Second Civil War, a new U.S. political party called the Family Protection Movement established The Divide, which separates Normal people from those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Seventeen-year old Serenity Blackwater lives in the normal Midwestern town of Mapleville, but she is not normal. She hacks into an illegal gay chat room and meets Dawn, a lesbian who lives in a gay community less than a mile away. Serenity discovers normal people can bribe their way inside the walls and decides to go, both to meet Dawn and check out what may be her future home.

Dawn is even more beautiful than Serenity hoped, and the two soon become a couple. But Serenity only has a few months before she must take the Normal Verification Test, and then she’ll be separated from her family forever. So she joins the Human Equality Organization, an underground group working to end The Divide. Dawn thinks the rebellion is too dangerous, and since Dawn’s ex-girlfriend Malaki is also a member, Serenity doesn’t tell Dawn about her involvement.

Serenity reveals to the HEO that her parents are leading a campaign to organize attacks on all Gay Communities. With her help, the HEO creates Project Jericho, in which all Gay Communities walls will implode at once. But after too many delays, and when Dawn discovers Serenity has been spending more time with Malaki than her, Serenity knows she has to start the revolution herself. She heads to D.C. to contact a group of senators secretly against The Divide ... or straight into a trap set by the Family Protection Movement.

Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano

Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano True Colorz Honor Roll

Every Time I Think of You by Jim Provenzano

Published by Jim Provenzano
266 Pages

Blurb: 1978: In a snowy Pennsylvania forest, Reid, a studious high school distance runner, meets Everett, a privileged and capricious charmer. As their lives become intertwined, Reid is swept up in Everett's adventurous world. When a near-fatal accident changes both their lives, Reid and Everett's determination to keep their love alive faces obstacles of family, time and distance.

Review: These boys really tugged at my heartstrings. I wasn't so sure about Everett at first. I feared he would be a bad influence on Reid with his thrill-seeking and smooth-talking behavior. But really, these two are so right together. Everett is able to pull Reid out of his shell. Although Reid is more sensible, he loves the excitement he feels with Everett, and Everett makes him feel special. He quickly finds himself falling in love with the mischievous and charming boy who lives just on the other side of the woods.

Despite his sometimes cool exterior, Everett falls hard for Reid as well, and in between their boys-will-be-boys shenanigans, there are moments of such sweetness, it wasn't long before I fell in love with Everett, too.

Reid is such a wonderful character, full of unconditional love for his boy, Everett, even after tragedy strikes. Knowing that their relationship might never be the same, Reid is still determined to hold on to Everett and show him how much he really loves him. I love the way Reid never gave up on Everett, even when Ev pushed him away. Time and distance are no match for true love!! The letters and gifts exchanged over their time apart were so sweet. I was completely swept up by their love story.

I also love the way Reid didn't lose track of himself. He continued to pursue his dreams of working the summer job in the park and pursuing his education, despite how hard it was to be separated from Everett. There were times he was tempted to walk away from his dreams and throw himself into helping Everett, but Everett loved him too much to let him do that. They both showed a great deal of courage and maturity in dealing with their tragic circumstances. Everett, in particular, showed tremendous growth by the end of the story.

I wish these two many happy and slightly naughty years together!

Review by Madison

Monday, January 7, 2013

Featured Author: Amy Lane

Amy Lane Amy Lane has four children, two cats, an aging dog, a crumbling mortgage and an indulgent spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and m/m romance--and if you give her enough diet coke and chocolate, she'll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She'll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

Connect with Amy Lane on Twitter @amylane or visit her website:

Q&A with Author Amy Lane:

  1. If you could swap places with one of your fictional characters for 24 hours, who would you choose to be? Why? And what would you do that day?

    I would be Deacon from Keeping Promise Rock, I think, for a lot of reasons.  First off, he’s the strong silent type, and I am NOT silent, and not particularly strong, so that would be a switch up.  Secondly, everybody is telling him to eat!  And cooking for him.  Oh my God—that would be a dream too!  And third?  Mostly, it’s the horses.  I admire the hell out of horses, and I love watching people ride, but I am a total horse coward.  When I was a kid I kept trying to be near them—I got (at various times) stitches under my arm from a bite, a concussion from a loose saddle, and three broken bones, a broken nose, and facial lacerations from a spill I could have avoided if I’d had a lick of sense.  That last one sort of killed it for me.  I’ve ridden since, and my parents and best friend both have horses, but I figure it’s better a long distance love affair.  So Deacon is my chance to be a superstar on a horse.  I’d probably ride them for the whole twenty-four hours, and Deacon wouldn’t begrudge me one bit.

  2. Please tell us what inspired you to begin writing Young Adult? 

    I taught high school for almost twenty years, for one, and I met my own husband in my second year of college for another—we’ve been together for twenty-five years.  I have a real sense of romantic possibilities at that age.  I never doubted that any of my high school students could find their soul mate in their senior year of high school—I know that they didn’t always, but the hope and the self-discovery of that age is exciting.  When students read romance novels in my classes, I know that they were trying to find a model for who they wanted to be when they grew up.  They learned honor and hope and family (especially in my school, where family wasn’t always a blessing) and when I wrote romance novels, that was what I was trying to give to my readers.

  3. Can you tell readers a little bit about the bond between Chris and Xander in The Locker Room?

    The way kids bond over sports is enchanting.  It’s almost a magical human thing.  And teaching where I did (right across the freeway from the Kings arena, actually) I got to see how young and vulnerable even the most jaded students would become when they ran into a basketball player in their everyday lives.  Those players were gods to them—and Chris Webber, Doug Christie, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakowicz—they never let us down in terms of being kind to their fans.  They would take pictures with kids anytime, anywhere—when they went grocery shopping, when they were in the parking lot.  And I know that a lot of kids like Xander, who had nothing on top of nothing, drew a lot of hope from that.  I remember a young man who was dating the prom queen.  He was an awesome young man—but his family situation was not great, and she loved him anyway.  There was an event for the students to go see a Kings game at only ten dollars per ticket.  I said, “Why aren’t you taking your girl?”  And he didn’t have the money.  I bought his tickets—and that was a magical thing for them.  That was a chance for them to go and be a part of a big community of people who all loved the same thing.  I wanted to recreate that moment.  I wanted to give the Xanders of the world a chance to shine.

  4. Do you have any upcoming YA’s that you want to tell us about?

    I’ve actually had an idea for one for a long time—and I may get a chance to write that, and I’m excited.  What I wouldn’t mind telling you about now is an old set of stories I wrote when I was self-publishing.  I actually wrote them for my older children (who were in high school at the time) and although the editing isn’t great, they are part of the epic fantasy tradition, and I’m really proud of them.  They are truly YA—their protagonist starts out at fourteen years old, and the first book spans about twelve years of his life and the second book looks back upon a very crucial year.  He is bisexual, and although that is certainly not his defining trait, the connections that his different lovers bring him turn out to be the defining difference between success or failure in what turns out to be a very important endeavor.  The books are called Bitter Moon I: Triane’s Son Ascending and Bitter Moon II: Triane’s Son Reigning—and they are two of my lesser-known works.  But young LGBTQ adults who have enjoyed the works of J.R.R.Tolkien, G.R.R. Martin, or Lloyd Alexander may really enjoy them.

  5. What would you like young readers to take away from your novels?

    Well, like I said, when kids were reading romance in my classroom, they were reading it to see how it worked in the adult world.  “Who do I want to be when I grow up?”  I want them to see that making moral choices isn’t always easy—but it’s always worth it.  I want them to see that treating people well reaps the benefits of being treated well in return.  I want them to see that kindness is sexy, and that nice guys very often finish first—they just don’t brag about it.  In Bitter Moon, the three gods are Compassion, Honor, and Joy—I want them to see that these things are tremendously important in being happy human beings.

Now Available from Amy Lane:

All is not right in the land of the three moons.

From the moment Yarri Moon was born, Torrant heard the bells of joy whenever she was near. But the world can be a cruel place, even for the moon destined, and when an evil born of ignorance destroys their families and their home in the heart of Clough, Torrant and Yarri learn first hand how ugly prejudice against the Goddess moon can be.

After a terrible journey, they find shelter with Yarri's family in Eiran, a land of easy tolerances and joy. However, as Torrant grows, so does his anger at the forces that destroyed their peace, their home, and their family back in Clough.

Torrant is a healer and a poet, and he has the magic gift of truth. As he waits for Yarri to come of age, he sees, first hand, how the same beliefs that destroyed their home are poisoning the lands around him, and corrupting the hearts of the people within.

Ultimately, Torrant is faced with a choice: He can claim Yarri and they can live the love that has been promised them since the beginning, or he can take his one, most terrifying and secret gift into the land of Clough and remove, in one dreadful strike, the evil that has cost him and his beloved so very much.

But choosing vengeance over love exacts its own terrible price, and Torrant may find that the part of him that was destined to be loved by Yarri is the part that's annihilated in his quest to make her safe.

Bitter Moon II: Triane's Son Reigning takes place immediately after the end of Bitter Moon I: Triane's Son Ascending.At the end of book one, Torrant Shadow's treasured school has been destroyed in a misguided assassination attempt by King Consort Rath, the man who ordered the death of Torrant's mother and foster family. Torrant, who had been planning to wed his moon-destined, Yarrow Moon, finds instead that he can no longer bear not knowing when Rath's poison will next threaten her life or the life of her kin, the family that took them in as they fled from Rath as children.

Bitter Moon II finds Torrant riding into Clough with his best friend (and one-time lover), Aylan, at his side. Torrant plans to assume the identity of Yarri's older brother, Ellyot Moon and take over Ellyot's position as a regent of Clough. He hopes to overthrow Rath bloodlessly, through the political arena, and therefore to kill all of Rath's genocidal policies as well. What he doesn't count on is the backlash of Rath's guardsmen on the Goddess people of Clough, and Torrant realizes he must assume more than one identity as he argues for human rights in the day and protects the Goddess folk's very right to exist by night. Aylan, who failed once to do what Torrant is doing now, finds himself engaged in a full time struggle to save Torrant as Torrant tries to save the world.

After a spectacular and heart-ripping failure, the perilous situation in Clough is even further complicated when Yarri realizes the full extent of Torrant's danger. Never one to sit back and let events unfold without her, Yarri ventures into Clough, supported by the friends and family Torrant left behind to protect. Together with her cousins they venture into the heart of enemy territory to protect the family member they call 'the heart of their Joy'.

Filled with adventure, danger, love and heartbreak, Bitter Moon II: Triane's Son Reigning takes us on a journey with Torrant Shadow who learns the complexities of love and the evils of power firsthand, as well as the hardest truth of all: One man alone can't save the world, and love is only salvation when it comes with blood and sacrifice.

Other Titles from Amy Lane:

Xander Karcek has only wanted two things in his life: Christian Edwards and basketball—the man he loves and the game that let him escape a childhood he’d rather forget. His two obsessions have served him well. He and Chris beat the odds and stayed together through high school, college, and right on to the NBA. But life under fame’s microscope isn’t easy, especially when two men are pretending to be frat-buddies so the world doesn’t know they’re the next best thing to married. Their relationship survives the sacrifices they make and the lies they tell to stay together, but when their secret is exposed, the fallout might destroy them when nothing else could. Chris and basketball are the two things holding Xander together. Now the world is asking Xander to make a choice. Is there an option that includes a future with the man he loves?
One day, Tate "Talker" Walker sits next to Brian Cooper on a track meet bus—and sees him like nobody else on the planet has ever seen him before. One day, Brian Cooper looks at Talker's bright punk facade and listens past his constant chatter—and knows him like nobody else on the planet will ever know him again. One day, two boys meet, and even though they fall in love, it’s still a long and bumpy ride. Tate needs to learn to listen, Brian needs to learn to speak up, and the event that teaches them both exactly what they need from each other almost destroys Tate and leaves Brian no recourse but violence. For their love to survive, Tate and Brian have to overcome the pain of violation and the repercussions of revenge. Even more difficult, they have to hold each other steady while one finds his peace and the other his voice, because a dream boy isn't really a dream boy if he doesn't know his own worth.

Budding Moon Press & Young Adult QUILTBAG Fiction

In the middle of 2012, we at Storm Moon Press sat down to discuss how we wanted to branch out. The logical step for us was young adult. All three of us—the owners—identify as some part of the QUILTBAG spectrum, and the one thing we all agreed on was that, while growing up, there was painful lack of us in the books we read. While the offerings are now a little more varied, there is still a terrible disparity of books with QUILTBAG main characters. In response, we founded Budding Moon, our QUILTBAG young adult imprint.

We debuted the imprint at Necronomicon 2012 in Tampa, Florida. On a panel about what QUILTBAG fiction was, the main direction of the conversation turned to young adult fiction. Along with our other panelists, we discussed the importance of QUILTBAG literature for the youth of our world and how publishers needed to take more chances with main characters that identified as such. Sadly, we know that isn't about to happen any time soon, and so it falls to the smaller publishers to fulfill the need of QUILTBAG youth.

The response at Necronomicon was astounding. In a rather packed panel room, the resounding 'YES!' was stunning to us. We had known there was a need, but we hadn't realized the depth of that need until that panel. As we walked out after the panel, we resolved to do everything we could to produce the quality and varied young adult fiction that this audience was craving. All genres, all flavors of sexual identity and sexual orientation and lifestyle choice (such as monogamy and polyamory). And that's what we've been doing since.

In 2013, we hope to acquire some wonderful works from talent authors to share with both the young audience as well as the older audiences. Right now, we have several anthology calls out (and several more to come out throughout the month of January), as well as a couple of line calls. Some of those upcoming calls are:

* Take a Bite Out of Life is all about vampires geared for young adult readers. QUILTBAG main characters and unique vampires are what we're hoping to see sent our way.

* A Touch of Glim is for awesome steampunk fiction with young adult, QUILTBAG main characters. Give us those gorgeous Victorian settings filled with steam and magic!

* For Long, Long Ago, we're looking to acquire retellings of fairytales, but with QUILTBAG main characters and themes. A genderqueer Rapunzel, or a lesbian slant on The Snow Queen, or a sci-fi twist on Alice's Adventures In Wonderland where Alice works alongside a bisexual Mad Hatter and a trans* Cheshire Cat. The possibilities are endless.

There will be many more calls—both anthology and line—as we move through the year, and we can't wait to work with outstanding authors to bring beautiful QUILTBAG fiction to the young adult audience. It's become an important, driving aspect of Storm Moon Press and its owners, and we hope authors will see and fulfill the growing need within this area of publishing.

S.L. Armstrong is the Managing Editor for Storm Moon Press. She is also the co-author of Making Ends Meet and Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley. S.L. can be found at or on Twitter @_slarmstrong.

Giveaway Opportunity!

This guest post is part of Storm Moon Press' 3rd Anniversary Blog Tour! Comment on this post or any other post on the blog tour with your e-mail address, and you'll be entered for a chance to win the Grand Prize of receiving 1 FREE e-book each month of 2013 from that month's new releases for a total of 12 free e-books! Runners up will receive a $25 gift certificate to their choice of Amazon or All Romance eBooks. For more details and to find out about our 3rd Anniversary, head over to Storm Moon Press' Official Blog. Thanks for joining us!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Rest is Illusion by Eric Arvin

The Rest is Illusion by Eric Arvin

The Rest is Illusion by Eric Arvin

188 Pages

Blurb: A coming of age story with a supernatural bent, set on the campus of Verona College. The story centers on five students whose lives are further complicated by an unseen force that surrounds the college, changing them forever.

Review: This story is centered around a group of five college students: Dashel, Ashley, Sarah, Tony, and Wilder.

Dashel knows he is terminally ill but hasn't told anyone at school. His condition is the same one that claimed the life of his father, and when Dashel's symptoms worsen, he knows his days are numbered. Although we get alternating points-of-view, and rich character development, Dashel is the nucleus of the story. The other characters are all connected to him in some way. Ashley is Dashel's roommate and close friend. They're both considered outcasts in their fraternity; Dashel is openly gay and Ash is an albino. Tony is also a member of the fraternity. He's the "big man on campus" but harbors his own big secret and finds himself drawn to Dashel. Sarah is close to Dash, and although she loves him, she's accepted that they'll never be more than friends. And Wilder is a manipulator on a power trip who has his eye on Tony.

Throughout the story, we follow Dashel as he ultimately makes peace with his fate, and we see how that affects the people around him. There's a definite mystical quality to his journey as he turns to nature for comfort and understanding. He's particularly drawn to a large old tree on campus that he affectionately refers to as Old Lady. Dash finds such solace at the end of his journey that I found myself in tears, not from sadness (well, not just from sadness), but from the beauty of it.

Eric Arvin has done a masterful job at creating vivid characters that completely suck you into their surroundings and make you a part of their journey. The prose is beautifully crafted, particularly descriptions of setting. And those final few paragraphs--so powerful, so moving. I want to be thinking those thoughts in my final moments.

Excerpt from The Rest is Illusion:

Dash led the way through the hushing snow and stern darkness. He walked as if he were unencumbered by the clustering balls of snow at his feet. He stared straight ahead at all times, not bothering to look around or down. His mind had already arrived at his destination. It was merely waiting for the rest of him to catch up.

Tony followed faithfully, unquestioningly. Dash had become a beacon, a lantern, a light to guide Tony through the dark. Tony's feet felt weighed down by the icy precipitation and his own sense of desperation. It was only Dashel’s onward march that kept him from falling like lead to the ground.

Through the snow they journeyed, two silent travelers, each requiring the other’s help out of bleakness and solitude.

As they reached the grand old tree that peered forlornly, always lonely, down into the valley, the clouds overhead parted. The night took on a pristine presence as a regal sphere of moonlight shown. Lambency took over the valley, gently brushing it like an old mother. The reflection on the frigid water below made it appear the satellite of the world was being transported by waterway, making its elegant passing downriver until morning’s light was born in the sky.

Dash waited by the tree for Tony to trudge up alongside him. It was heartrending for Dash to see him like this. His image of Tony up to that point had been of the lighthearted but strong jock. He saw, through Tony’s pain, how premature that opinion was.

Tony only stared at the white snow as he came shoulder to shoulder with Dash.

“Look up,” Dash ordered softly. Tony’s chin rose slowly, his eyes meeting Dashel's eyes. “Look there,” Dash gestured out to the river.

Tony looked where he was told. There was a fine, sudden change in his expression, almost imperceptible. The moon’s glow on the curves of the great waterway below quelled the rage inside Tony just the tiniest sliver. It would do its work, Dash knew. If they stayed by the tree long enough, Tony might begin to feel more like himself again. The night would leech out the darkness from him.

Dash cleared a space below the Old Lady where they could sit free of the wet snow. Tony sat zombie–like, as if in a waking coma.

“I like to come here on nights like this,” Dash said, interrupting the silence of several minutes. “When no one else is crazy enough – or maybe sane enough to come out. I get some great vibes here, some real zingers of thought. Do you have any places like that? Places that make you yourself?”

“No,” Tony replied. It was the first he had spoken since they had left the house. A distant answer, but an answer nonetheless.

“Well, maybe you could come here then,” Dash offered.

“This old tree, the valley, the river – they help me think. Help me get away and wade through all the crap I’ve cluttered my life with. When you get rid of the clutter, all that’s left is what mattered in the first place.” There was still only quiet emanating from Tony, the shell of a damaged soul. “You can’t let him take over, Tony. Whatever he’s taken from you, let him have it, but no more. You have to just not care. It might be uncomfortable at first, but in the end, it will be so much less painful. When he realizes he has no control he loses interest.”

“It’s my life, Dash. My life. He’s going to ruin my life if I don’t...” Tony whispered. A branch creaked overhead.

“He won’t win in the end, Tony. It’s all absurdity anyway. Everything we do we’re just doing to bide time until we die,” Dash said.

They sat quiet once more. The clouds that had appeared in the early evening vanished and the moon held discourse with the tree on the bluff over the winding river.

Dash stirred once more, as if awakened from a dream. “See that big limb up there,” he pointed just above Tony. “I climbed up there last spring. I sat up there all night just watching the river.”

“That’s high,” Tony observed, half interested.

“Yeah. I kept having this dream I was a bird sitting on that limb. I guess I wanted to enact it for real. It’s a great dream. I still have it. And it has a beautiful ending,” Dash said, as his voice took on a silky note.

“How does it end?” Tony asked, his interest heightened a splinter.

“Well, I can’t tell you,” Dash teased. “Then it won’t come true. Actually, I really don’t know how it ends. I always wake up before that. But I know it’s the right ending.” He paused and smiled. “The view from that limb is so wonderful, Tony. The river cuts through the hills of the valley like – like a band saw. In the early dawn light, the water sparkles like flashes of 'hello.' And then the mist...I swear it, the mist in the morning dances in circles. In circles, Tony. Waltzing with the spirits of the valley – the river dwellers – down the hill to the river. It’s a beautiful dance, though I have only seen it once. But it’s more real than anything I can remember.”

Tony looked at Dash as he spoke. He saw Dash’s eyes turn glassy and a radiance came from him as he gazed out at the valley. There was a warmth, an indescribable comfort, in Dash’s voice.

“You think I’m nuts,” Dash said, feeling Tony’s stare. “No, Dash, I don’t,” Tony said, coming around to himself. Tony leaned his head on Dashel's shoulder. A moment of tenderness from the football player that Dash had not expected.

“This is for us,” Dashel whispered. “This is all for us.”

They sat under the shelter of the Old Lady, such as it was, into the first hours of the new day. The moon, naked of the night clouds, hung high in the ancient sky.

Review by Madison