• The Case of the Missing Drag Queen

    Broke, saddled with a mountain of debt, and dependent on his Aunt Callie’s support, aspiring writer Luke Tanner has returned to Kentucky to put his life back together after a failed five-year relationship. On his twenty-fifth birthday, Luke meets diminutive Pixie Wilder, a long-time performer at the Gilded Lily. After headliner Ruby Dubonnet doesn’t show up, Pixie takes her place as the star of the show—a motive that makes her a suspect in Ruby’s disappearance. Luke reluctantly agrees to help his new-found friend clear her name. He and Pixie set out to find the missing drag queen, and in the process, put themselves in danger.

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  • Aucune Bonne Action

    La veille de Noël, en 1966, Philip Potter, un conservateur du Smithsonian au grand cœur, termine ses achats de dernière minute. Au même instant, James, son compagnon depuis plusieurs années, s’ôte la vie chez eux. Inconscient de ce qui l’attend, Philip dépose des cadeaux à un refuge pour sans-abris, un acte généreux qui fera plus tard de lui un suspect dans le meurtre d’un prostitué. Après la mort choquante de James, deux hommes entrent dans la vie de Philip… et tous deux conduisent une Continental jaune. L’un d’eux, toutefois, est un tueur avec le sang de six prostitués sur les mains. Et tous deux cachent quelque chose. Comme Philip est sur le point de le découvrir, aucune bonne action ne …

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  • Equality: What Do You Think about When You Think of Equality?

    In the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Stride Toward Freedom and Malala Yousafzai’s, I Am Malala, Equality: What Do You Think About When You Think of Equality? presents thought-provoking and compelling personal essays that probe a concept professed to be the very foundation of our democracy—a concept that may even be more vital today than in the past. From international bestselling author, Anne Perry who asserts we must look within ourselves to our emotions, experiences, and beliefs before we attempt an honest and truthful answer, to Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist and author, who claims diagnostic labels used in treating mental illness often stigmatize and dehumanize the patient causing clinicians to view their patients in terms of their diagnosis rather than …

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  • No Good Deed

    On Christmas Eve in 1966, Philip Potter, a kind-hearted Smithsonian curator,  wraps up his last-minute shopping. Meanwhile, his lover of several years takes his own life back in their home. Unaware of what awaits him, Philip drops off gifts at a homeless shelter, an act of generosity that will later make him a suspect in the murder of a male prostitute. Following James’s shocking death, two men enter Philip’s life—and both drive yellow Continentals. One of them, though, is a killer, with the blood of at least six hustlers on his hands. And both are hiding something. As Philip is about to discover, no good deed goes unpunished. (Originally released by MLR Press in 2013 as After Christmas Eve)

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  • Whippersnapper

    Tellumo Magnamater is a fresh-out-of-college, first-year English teacher at Salt Lick County High School in Kentucky. He rides the bus to and from work, and every day he walks to the gym behind his small efficiency apartment to exercise. Perhaps because of being raised by two lesbians, Tellumo is attracted to older men. He sets his sights on fifty-something available bachelor Oliver Crumbly. But Tellumo isn’t the only resident interested in Oliver. Peggy Tucker, a widow approaching her sixtieth birthday, is determined to marry again, and she thinks Oliver is her perfect match. Despite Tellumo and Peggy striking up a friendship at the gym, neither realizes they are interested in the same man. But the joke might be on both of …

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  • Happy Independence Day

    Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. Little does he know the world is already changing, and his part in it won’t be what he expects. A prelaw student at Columbia University, Terrence’s interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie, the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn. Too bad Cameron bolts whenever Terrence looks his way. College dropout Cameron McKenzie left tiny Paris, Kentucky with dreams of a career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he prostitutes himself to survive. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes. He’s in over his head with no way out—at …

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  • The Bear King of Snowbird Mountain

    Recently single Jeremy Jenkins is an average guy working hard as a landscape designer in the mountains of Tennessee. At a conference in DC, he meets gorgeous Donald Matthews, who says the strangest things—like how he thinks Jeremy is hot and wants them to spend the rest of their lives together. This story is part of A Taste of Honey, a Dreamspinner Press Anthology. Other stories in the collection: The Bear Fetish, by John Amory The Bear Next Door, by Jack Byrne The Bear at the Bar, by J. Scott Coatsworth Barefoot, by Lillian Francis Just Breath, by John Genest Bear Chasing, by Renae Kaye Golden Bear, by G. P. Keith Hunting Bear: A Fairy Tale with a Very Hairy …

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  • Until Thanksgiving

    Josh Freeman knows his best days are behind him. After his partner of seventeen years has an affair with a younger man, Josh buries himself in takeout boxes, half-smoked joints, and self-pity until his best friend gently kicks him in the ass and encourages him to try out a new job in Washington DC—at least until Thanksgiving. Though DC has its share of troubles, specifically in the form of a murderer targeting gay men, Josh soon discovers its charms as well. Unlike his old home, DC is crawling with men who want to date him—apparently he’s not as overweight, out of shape, or over the hill as the man he once loved made him believe. In particular, Josh would love …

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The Crotchety Old Man

Jan 11, 2021
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Alternative Reality

Alternative Reality

I am not a Republican. Although registered as a Democrat, I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool supporter. I’m not big on identity politics and am not a single-issue voter, but freely admit support for gay issues often moves me to vote for Democrats. I believe in the party system. Leadership positions I’ve held have shown me the value of diverse points of view. Hearing opinions other than mine has been extremely helpful and often moved me to alter my position or even change my mind. Solving problems requires agreement on the facts of the matter. Differences of opinion about how to respond to those facts are legitimate and worth discussing. Manufactured facts shut down the process and eliminate any hope of a …

Jan 07, 2021
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Journaling

Journaling

Writing in my journal tops my list of retirement activities. I’ve kept a journal for more than four decades and counting. Over the years, my reasons for writing and the frequency of entries have often varied. If there’s any pattern, it’s that I write when I must. A pen an ink journal is the only option. Anything else is too easily edited as I write or later. Editing as I go wastes time. Lots. I can spend hours wordsmithing a first sentence. Beyond scratching out a word or two, ink prevents self- editing. I prefer bound journals with lined pages. Binding keeps me from ripping anything out. Lines save time too. Without them, I’d drive myself crazy trying to keep …

Jan 04, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Retirement Resolutions

As of January 1, I’m officially retired. Friends ask what I’m going to do. The short answer: Whatever the hell I want. Living my best life is the goal. Figuring out what that looks like is the challenge. Rarely leaving the house for most of 2020 was good practice, a learning experience, and a chance to think about life after work. Moving is unlikely. Athens is a great place to live. I love the historic vibe, the tight-knit community, and the mild climate. Unlike anywhere else, I know my way around enough to get where I need to go and have friends who are happy to drive when I can’t. Travel is doubtful. Vision issues prevent me from driving and …

Dec 31, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on After the Freeze

After the Freeze

Planting a vegetable garden is a risky venture. Experience helps, but luck always plays a role. A winter garden is especially tricky. Sub-freezing temperatures can be fatal. A two-day cold snap this past week had me holding my breath. When it comes to winter weather in Athens, anything is possible. My first year here, the temperature stayed below zero for several days. That’s rare. More often, the temperature will fall below freezing for maybe an hour or two early in the morning. Even before the freeze, the lettuce was iffy. I suspect the transplants had been in pots too long when I bought them. Except for some butter-crunch in pots, none of the lettuce survived the cold snap. Most of …

Dec 28, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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My Little Plant Factory

Toodles surprised me this year with everything I need for my own seed-starting operation. I’m guessing my sweet little dog thinks her thoughtful gift will keep me at home. She knows me so well. I’ve mostly avoided planting anything permanent. There are many reasons, but the biggest is a deep and abiding affection for annuals. I especially enjoy experimenting with new varieties and changing things up every year. I started off small enough for a few twelve-packs from the garden center to do the trick. My flower beds expand a bit every year and nearly doubled in the past few months. Relying less on garden centers and more on home-grown plants makes sense and (theoretically) saves money. Seed catalogs offer …

Dec 18, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Garden 4.3ish

Garden 4.3ish

My first garden (Garden 1.0) was on someone else’s property — a duplex with a fenced-in yard and a patio. I may have gone overboard a wee bit. Over the next few years, “a little color” along the patio morphed into a flowerbed that covered maybe half the yard. Garden 2.0 was literally an overnight success. The last load from the duplex was a pickup truck filled with shovels-full of plants I wanted. Good thing. The landlord mowed everything the very next day. I planted the truckload of blooming plants late that night. The neighbors were amazed next morning. Garden 2.0 was also my introduction to plant and seed catalogs. Not since the Sears & Roebuck Christmas catalogs of my …

Dec 10, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Spot On with Spotify

The way buying and listening to music keeps changing has long pissed me off. I’ve gone through vinyl, 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, compact discs, MP3s and a variety of music players and streaming apps. With the possible exception of the awful 8–track, each has pros and cons. Spotify, however, tops them all and keeps me decidedly less crotchety. Though many consider vinyl the gold standard, it ain’t perfect. My favorite albums had warps, skips, sticks and other flaws that messed with the sound. Listening to one or two specific songs was too much work. I’d stack three or four of my favorites on the turntable (hence all the damage) and would eventually end up liking the entire side. My album …

Dec 03, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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My Bubble-mate

This week marks nine months of working from home. The residents of my bubble (me and Toodles) elected not to celebrate the holidays. We talked about a party but decided to follow expert advice and avoid social gatherings. To be totally honest, Toodles was never a fan of the party idea. Crowds aren’t really her thing. For her, two is perfect and three is a potential riot. ANTIFA and Proud Boys are everywhere. Though we generally agree on politics, we do have our differences. I think she should go out the doggie door to our fenced-in backyard without me. She disagrees, and insists I’m stingy with the treats. No matter the fight, we never go to bed angry. Pandemic fatigue …

Nov 26, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

An early mentor was a big believer in the power of positive thinking. He’d thoroughly researched positivity, often spoke on the topic, and developed a program on the subject for the Kentucky extension service. His sage advice and practical suggestions for fostering a positive attitude have stayed with me and served me well over the years. The glass is both half empty and half full. How you see it is a choice. Focusing on the positive (what you have) instead of the negative (what’s missing) has all kinds of benefits. The silver lining may be hard to find, but it’s always there — somewhere. Sone find staying positive easier than others. I’m a natural. Long before learning about the gratitude …

Nov 15, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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Winding Down

My thoughts about when to retire have changed many times over the years. Early on, saving for the golden years wasn’t a priority. Retiring before 75 or even 80 seemed unlikely. Saving enough seemed impossible — even after I finally started putting money into retirement accounts. For the longest time, quarterly statements confirmed I’d indeed be very old before I’d have enough to fund my retirement. Oh well. Better not enough than nothing at all. I kept contributing through several jobs, ending up with 15 to 20 aggressive-growth mutual funds. Statements from several brokers came at different times without attracting my attention. Then I sat down and added them all up. The grand total made me nervous. I couldn’t stop …

Oct 27, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on A Work in Progress

A Work in Progress

After downsizing in 2012, I decided to figure out what I wanted before doing much to the tiny yard. Changes since then have been obvious and mostly involve removing things to make mowing easier. The garden is still a work in progress, but what I want gets a little clearer every year. The rock edge on the lawn side of the dry streambed makes mowing and edging difficult. Keeping the Bermuda grass from growing between the rocks is impossible. Replacing the rocks with edgers solves the problem and will add several square feet of lawn. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how protected the backyard is. The picture above shows why. The six-foot privacy fence in the background sits atop a …

Oct 23, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Seven Months Later…

Seven Months Later…

COVID-19 has been with us for seven months. Millions of lives have been forever changed. My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones, jobs, homes, or peace of mind. For me, the pandemic has so far been more inconvenience than hardship. I’m grateful, but take nothing for granted. I rarely leave home and always wear a mask when I do. I canceled my gym membership due to COVID. A bout of plantar fasciitis has forced me to suspend my daily runs. Sprucing up the yard has become my total body workout. I’ve removed big limbs, cut shrubs back hard, and moved tons of rocks, edgers, soil, sand and mulch. I’ve kept off the weight I lost and …

Oct 17, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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My First Last Lecture

Monday was the last day for my big class. Meeting twice a week cut the time in half for this one-credit course. Despite being the largest class I’ve ever taught and the first never to meet face-to-face, they are the most fun group of students I’ve ever had. I launch the Zoom fifteen minutes early with my camera off. A Spotify playlist of vintage R&B artists (Aretha, Roberta Flack, M People, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and others) fills the awkward pre-class silence. All my students were born after 2000 so it’s all new to them. Comments about the music fill the chat box before class starts. I stop the music, turn on my camera and wait for them to turn …

Oct 11, 2020
By Michael Rupured
Comments Off on Gardening is for Optimists

Gardening is for Optimists

An unseasonably cool fall prompted a flurry of activity in the garden. I’ve spent a small fortune on dirt, mulch, and plants and followed by hours of manual labor. Visions of a bountiful harvest and beds teeming with colorful flowers keep me going until the work is done. Telling myself the coming season will be the best yet is standard operating procedure. I’m usually right too. Weather can wreak havoc and varieties sometimes fail to meet my expectations, but more often than not, the garden exceeds my expectations. Weather is a perennial wildcard. Temperatures need to climb above freezing every day. I got lucky and experienced no serious cold snaps with my last winter garden. Anything is possible. We had …

Sep 29, 2020
By Michael Rupured
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My Winter Garden

Fall has arrived early in Athens. Summer heat typically persists through September and into October. Not this year. Aside from a few muggy days, September has been wet and unusually mild — perfect planting conditions for a fall/winter garden. High temperatures and dry conditions usually prevent me from planting anything before the middle of November. By then, garden centers have been picked over. Last wee, I popped by just in time for a shipment of fall veggies and picked up Romaine lettuce, Bibb lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower (which turned out to be cabbage). A six-week head start this time of year is huge. Shorter days slow growth as plants shift energy to developing roots. Bigger, more robust plants …