Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction

The Arizona Legislature passed a measure that allows business owners to refuse service to LGBT and other individuals based on “religious freedom.” While getting dressed for the rent paying job, I caught a bit of it on CNN. They’ve really going to make it legal for companies of any hatemongering variety to refuse service to people who don’t fit in with their religious beliefs, who don’t think like they think, and don’t do like they do?

The reporter I listened to asked a brilliant question. Something like, “But how far do you think this should go? What happens when companies start refusing service to interracial couples or unwed mothers because their lifestyles don’t match the store owner’s beliefs?” The reply? “Oh, it won’t go that far. It just pertains to homosexuality.”

Oh my goodness, gracious, really?! I’ve said time and time again, there’s not enough hate or meanness in me for me to ever pick up a religion. I just don’t have a heart that cold. I’m sitting here at the rent paying job wishing I was rich. Wishing I had more money than Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg combined. Enough to buy a huge Wal-Mart sized company that sells the newest, latest thing that everybody has to have. And everytime someone came in with a Bible, Koran, Torah (whatever) I’d refuse service. “I’m sorry. Your beliefs don’t match mine. You have to leave.”

I want to believe that if the holier-than-thous were ever subjected to their own behavior, if they ever had to listen to and be a victim of the painful words that come out of their own mouths, they’d stop. Even Anne Frank, to keep her sanity while in hiding, had to tell herself, “I have to believe that people are really good at heart.” I’ve been the victim of similar hate and judgment as what’s happening out west and I’ve seen it happen to my friends, so I’ll do everything in my power to never be the perpetrator. I want to believe somewhere deep inside, Christians are real human beings with feeling and emotions, empathy and sympathy, and if they actually saw what they did, they’d stop wanting to perpetrate.

I remembered my promise to the kind soul who gave me a copy of Foolish Hearts, that I’d say something in this space on my humble page. Something Martha style, something cute and quirky that involves me doing everything in my power to check out anything and everything naked. But I’m not feeling it today. I just can’t be funny when I want so bad to cry.

I reread some of the pages. They reminded me how much pleasure I found in this book. It’s an anthology of old school romance, not the kind you see, but the kind you feel, whether its fresh and new, an old love remembered, or one with a good foundation that was damaged and just needs a little rebuilding. It’s warm and cuddly and forever. It can handle anything tossed at it and it will survive and thrive. I found myself smiling again. The interview with the editors, Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. (Becky) Cochrane was just as soothing.

1. How did the two of you meet? What’s the story behind you joining forces to create such an amazing anthology?

Timothy: We met online in an AOL chat room in 1997. We met in person for the first time in February of 1998 when Becky came to Manhattan. By that time, we’d begun to write together via email with our two other writing partners. Jim Carter lived in Southern California and Tim Forry also lived in New York City. We were a tri-coastal team.

Becky: When Timothy moved to Houston in late 2001, it became easier for us to collaborate as a duo. In addition to writing under the name Timothy James Beck with Jim and Tim, we co-authored two novels. Writer Greg Herren and the two of us all interacted with one another via LiveJournal. Greg had to evacuate New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and read our novels. That began an association with him that led to Fool For Love, ultimately published by Cleis Press. They tell us that anthology was one of the highest selling titles for the now defunct InsightOut Books. So it was anatural progression to work with Cleis again.

2. I’m still coming off the high of all the true love flowing around me from last Valentine’s Day. Everybody has a story. What’s yours. Give me a personal Foolish Heart memory that will put a smile on your face when you tell all your roommates in the old folk’s home you’re put into by your progeny.

Becky: I have no progeny, but my friend and collaborator Tim Forry assures me I can live in his attic when I get old. He’ll probably be tired of my stories by then. I’ve made just about every mistake a person in love can make. Fortunately, this provides good writing material.

Timothy: My personal Foolish Hearts stories are usually embellished upon for my short stories so it’s probably better just to find those and read them than to hear about what actually happened in my real life.

So secretive are the both of them. I like it.

3. What first inspired you to pick up a pen and what keeps you inspired to continue the ink flow?

Becky: Everyone in my family enjoys telling stories, so it was natural for me to want to do that, too. Unfortunately, I was shy and never liked being the center of attention. When I began to read, I saw another way to tell stories. I was always encouraged, from my earliest years, by my parents and an uncle who was a published writer. I haven’t written much lately,
but there are always stories going on inside my head.

Timothy: In the third grade, we were tasked to write a short story, and I remember not knowing what to write about at all. I had a mini panic attack and almost started crying because I didn’t know what to do and was afraid I’d get in trouble. This experience has served me well. Now I know that ink doesn’t always flow, but it’s okay. I only write when I’m inspired and that seems to work for me.

Becky: I think we both agree that editing other writers–and we’ve worked with some really outstanding ones in our three anthologies–is a good way to keep fiction part of what we do even when we’re not writing.

4. Since finishing the last page of Foolish Hearts and holding it against my chest for its well deserved deep breath, I’ve moved my copy of Best Gay Romance 2014 to the very top of my to-be-read pile. What else spectacular do you have coming off the press in the near future?

Becky:We don ‘t have anything on the schedule right now. This is a busy time for both of us. But I do have some ideas taking shape.

If you want to try to win a trade paperback copy of this delightful anthology, just leave a comment below. I’ll pick a winner at random on Saturday, March 1st.

Never be afraid to love.

“A foolish life is a life well lived, and a foolish heart is a heart well loved.” Introduction by Timothy J. Lambert. (I love this quote. If I could sew, it’d be on a sampler within a week!)

Excerpt from: Hello Aloha
by Tony Calvert

I’d thought Michael Stetson was “the one.” My sister Jenny thought he was “the one.” Even Chad, who never liked my boyfriends, thought he was “the one.” The only person in my life who didn’t think Michael Stetson was “the one” was Michael Stetson. With a name that reeked of cowboys and cheap cologne, I should have known it, too. Maybe his deep dark eyes or the way he kissed me made me think we were something special. Maybe it was how easily he slipped into my life, sharing my condo and closet space. It wasn’t long before we were doing relationship things like picking out new paint for the master bath and debating how to tile the kitchen floor. We quit going to clubs, instead opting for dinner with other couples, the theater, or weekends at the beach. The wildest thing Michael ever wanted was a threesome on Saturdays: me, him and Orville Redenbacher. Orville and I always let him pick the movie. Everything was perfect.

Until it wasn’t.

One Monday I came home and found Michael and his suitcase in the kitchen ready to say good-bye. He said things were getting too “real,” and he wasn’t ready for that. It was time for him to go. He was going to stay with a cousin or an uncle in Idaho to get his mind clear. He assured me it wasn’t me, it was him, and then he was gone.

That night, lying alone in my bed, it felt like it was me. Three-hundred-forty-seven days later, it still felt like it was me.

So here I am at another wedding, destined to hang out at the bar with the other lonely-onlys who hadn’t managed to get a date, toasting the happy couple while wallowing in my own misery.

Maybe I am a little bitter.

After dinner I found a distant corner to watch the festivities. I couldn’t help but smile. Chad was in an animated conversation with Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck. Martin appeared to be getting sage advice from The Mad Hatter and one of the Tweedles. I could never tell them apart.

I felt a tap on my shoulder.

Great. It was Goofy.

He made a grand gesture toward the rest of the party, indicating that I should join.

“I’m good right here.”

He crossed his arms and tapped his foot in what I assumed was an exaggerated imitation of me.

I found myself explaining. “I’m not much of a Disney guy.”

Goofy brought his hands to his cheeks like the Home Alone kid.

“It’s nothing personal. My sister loves you.” I hesitated a moment then felt compelled to add, “Really she’s a big fan of Pluto. There was this time that my mom came here without us –”

Goofy seemed to gasp.

I nodded. “I know! Who goes to Disney World and leaves the kids at home? Anyway, my sister asked for a stuffed Pluto and my Mom came home with a stuffed Goofy. She said you were both dogs, and you were the one who reminded her of Jenny. Because you were both goofy, not because my sister has buckteeth and big ears. No offense. Although until she got braces, her teeth were a little big.”

Goofy pulled his ears, so I assumed no offense was taken.

“Be honest with me; don’t you get tired of these things?”

Goofy shook his head vehemently.

“Oh, come on. First you have to watch people gorge themselves — do you even get to eat?”

He rubbed his belly; I wasn’t sure what that meant. Did Goofy eat before the banquet, or was he fed scraps like the good dog he was?

“Then you have to goof things up, and I’ll bet a lot of kids pull on those ears. Plus if it’s a wedding, no matter how cute the couple is, you know that about a third of marriages end in divorce.”

He shook his head, disagreeing with me. Apparently Goofy was a believer in happily ever after.

“I’m sure Disney couples don’t fare much better. How long do you think it took before Prince Eric got all paunchy, stuffing his face on seafood? He probably even ate that singing crab. You know Ariel finally looked across the table and said, ‘I gave up my fins for this?'”

Goofy put his hands over his ears as if to drown me out.