An anthology of short fiction featuring the finalist selections from the 2021 Saints+Sinners Literary Festival.
By Lee Patton
For 21-year-old gay virgin Gabe Rafferty, the first decade of adulthood is unpredictable and intense.
Flat broke upon college graduation, Gabe navigates the passage from menial work to globetrotting corporate drudge, then strives for a real chance at professional fulfillment. His journey exploring his sexuality—from inhibited innocence, to first-love crises, to random hookups—doesn’t seem to lead to the more sensual, committed relationships he wants. Then he meets Marty, an African American art student, and Gabe must face his white working-class background and racist father for a chance at true love.
Throughout, he traverses the joys and hazards of loving a headstrong cast of friends, including a lesbian couple, and Candy, a straight female friend whose life intersects with Gabe’s in unexpected ways.
For Gabe, what happens after coming of age and coming out is a scramble to survive first journeys into sex, love, and livelihood.
Owen is only confident in two places: at work, supporting clients through IT woes, and when he’s sitting around a gaming table in the role of a smooth and charming bard. He’s never acted on the crush he’s had on his physiotherapist—and total cubcake—Toma. Even though Owen’s no longer Toma’s patient, and his crush hasn’t dialed down in the slightest, Owen can’t figure out how to make a move.
When a friend decides to play a prank involving Owen’s contact list, Owen spends the morning of April Fools’ day inadvertently texting smooth and charming thoughts about Toma... to Toma himself.
By the time Owen discovers the prank, things are completely out of control. Discussions of thighs and awards for the World’s Best Chest have been handed out—not to mention they’ve set an accidental coffee date—and there’s no taking that sort of thing back. When this joke finally gets told, Owen’s convinced he’ll be the punchline, but with a little luck and some nudging from his friends, the last laugh might be the best of his life.
It’s 1937, and Heath Barrington is a naïve twenty-two-year-old about to set sail across the Atlantic on theQueen Mary. While on board, he meets the handsome Lord Simon Quimby, who invites Heath to his estate. Heath falls for Simon hard, but Simon soon becomes withdrawn and distant. Is Simon all he appears to be, or is there more to him than meets the eye? And what of the old gypsy curse Simon claims his family is under? Did it really cause his mother’s death, his sister’s suicide, and his father’s murder, or did Simon have something to do with it all? It’s up to Heath to uncover the truth, despite his heart telling him otherwise.
In this prequel to the Detective Heath Barrington Mystery series, Heath discovers that first love changes you forever and drives you to become the person you’re destined to be.
As a baron’s youngest son, Hector Somerville has no real prospects. He will not inherit, and he’s overshadowed by two perfect brothers. While searching for ways to improve his situation, Hector finds respite in an invitation to a country estate—and has a second chance at rekindling his illicit affair with Viscount Wentworth, captain of HBMS Dragon. The upcoming fortnight could be everything Hector dreamed of since their disastrous parting.
Wentworth has forsaken love, and yet, memories of guilt and heartache resurface. He loved a boyhood friend once, Hector’s older brother William, until the man left him, trampling his heart in the process. Years later, he wonders if he ever fell out of love. Is his heart bound by William, or can he create a life with Hector?
High schooler Crispin Haugen already has so many identities to sort through—Asian, Scandinavian, not to mention gay. Then a messenger from another world arrives to tell him he also carries the blood of dragons in his veins.
Transported to the Realm of Fire, where dragons and humans live in harmony, Crispin falls for Davix, a brooding, nerdy scholar. But dark mysteries threaten the peace of Crispin’s new world. Without warning, dragons from the Realm of Air unleash a bloody war.
With everything he cares about on the line, Crispin must find the courage to fight...for justice and for love.
The writing of this book was supported by the Toronto Arts Council with funding from the City of Toronto.
By St John Karp
Andre met his best friend Amy on a night like tonight. The way Amy tells it she had to stop him from climbing over the bar at Aunty Bob’s to punch the bartender, though if you ask Andre he’ll say, “What? That never happened. I don’t even know what you’re saying to me right now.”
Now Amy is worryingly missing in action, and Andre goes to Aunty Bob’s on a quest to find her. No sooner does he walk in with his depressingly heterosexual date than his best hat is spirited away by a lesbian in the throes of breaking up with her girlfriend. She in turn has it stolen from her when she starts a fight with two twinks at the bar. The hat makes its way around Aunty Bob’s from one head to another, giving glimpses into the dozens of stories playing out at the same time, unaware of each other but colliding in catastrophic ways. Can Andre find Amy before this party devolves into a nightmare of broken hearts, malevolent drag queens, and spontaneous human combustion? Or has it always happened this way, every night, at Aunty Bob’s Quake City Club?
I know what you are. Five words scrawled on a note, and Heath knew his life was now in jeopardy. He had no choice but to confront the blackmailer and find out what proof he had. But what then? Pay up and risk demands for future payments? Or not give in and throw his life away?
The decision’s made for him when the blackmailer turns up dead. Is Heath a murderer? Even he isn’t sure, thanks to several double martinis. Other suspects include a voluptuous neighbor, a smarmy grocer, a ruthless gangster, Heath’s cousin Liz, who was once married to the blackmailer, and Miss Caldwell, a wily librarian who has eyes for the blackmailer’s current wife, Alice. Heath tries to read between the lines to solve the case of a death overdue before he’s arrested for the crime.
Praise from Mystery Scene: "Pederson successfully evokes and shrewdly capitalizes upon the time in which his mystery takes place, using the era’s prejudices and politics to heighten the story’s stakes and more thoroughly invest readers in its outcome. Plausible suspects, persuasive red herrings, and cleverly placed clues keep the pages frantically flipping until the book’s gratifying close."
By Lee Patton
Determined to record every summer day, young history teacher Luke Devlin starts school vacation imagining he’ll describe backcountry adventures in the Rockies and sun-splashed days home in Denver. But all too soon the season veers into crisis, when his older brother faces life-threatening illness and Luke becomes entangled in a love affair that’s as fast-moving and possibly as fatal as his brother’s diagnosis.
As Luke manages the household for his absent parents and struggles with the constant pressure of his unfinished master’s deadline, his fling with a Wyoming rancher grows serious just as his brother’s crisis overwhelms him. Luke’s love of his native ground and his search for romance collide with the hard realities of mortality and loss during an unexpected summer.
By Louis Barr
Film star Diana Danning hires private eye Clint Steele to find her son, Shane, after he vanishes like smoke in the night. LAPD Captain Hal Flynn suspects Shane disappeared by choice; until Clint and Diana receive a late-night call from Jud Tucker, the most under-the-radar serial killer since Patrick Bateman. Tucker demands five million dollars within twenty-four hours, or nobody will ever find Shane's body.
With no time to lose, Clint turns to his former West Point barracks mate and best friend, Mars Hauser, to lend his cyber espionage and digital black ops skills to the case. As Clint, Mars, and Captain Flynn race against time to rescue Shane and bring Jud Tucker to justice, their greatest threat may be much closer than they know.
By Julian Lopez
This compilation of short horror stories is certain to frighten, but also seduce. From the alluring handsome stranger disguising his true identity as the Grim Reaper to the ancient Egyptian elite returning after centuries to cause mayhem, and spine-tingling tales of the full moon, vampires, werewolves, and other lurking creatures. The Eiffel Tower is only a short distance from the circus, with its sinister freaks coming out to play. Antique Venetian masks serve as optical instruments to see the seducing spirit others cannot, a mariachi is in search of his deceased lover Adrian, and a queen of hearts card promises more is at stake when the odds are just right. All are part of the pleasure of horror in this compilation that delivers like the horror classics…good ole tales of terror.
An anthology of short fiction featuring the finalist selections from the 2020 Saints+Sinners Literary Festival.
By Julius Eks
Ben considers himself lucky. He found Gabriel early in life and he is loved.
But at twenty-one, he’s beginning to question if the boat of youthful independence will soon set sail without him. Will his devotion to Gabriel prevent him from exploring with other guys? Will he ever get to experience the heart-wavering thrill of falling in love again?
Vacationing on Gabriel’s family boat on the French Riviera, Ben is unprepared for the arrival of Leo, a beautiful adolescent thriving in the noontide of carefree nonchalance. Over the course of a single day, Ben battles his burgeoning lust and intensifying guilt.
Will he betray Gabriel, who has done nothing but love him? Or can he resist the carnal temptation of the most beautiful boy he has ever seen?
Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious—and gorgeous—personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.
Silas’s parents try to browbeat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so tolerant for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.
Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving. And maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.
By Greg Herren
Someone is killing the Grande Dames of New Orleans!
It’s Christmas time, but the last thing in the world Scotty Bradley wants under his tree is a murder case that strikes close to home. The premiere party for a new reality show sets the stage for a murder, and Scotty’s sort-of nephew is the prime suspect. As more and more cast members fall victim to a cold-blooded killer, Scotty and the boys must figure out what is real and what is scripted, and have to exhume some long-buried secrets in order to bring the killer to justice.
A Scotty Bradley mystery.
Alan Keyes takes a break from his police duties to scratch his acting itch in a local stage production. But when the leading man is murdered during the opening night performance, his partner Detective Heath Barrington is thrust into the limelight to find the killer. Alan soon learns the theater has a deadly past and ghostly forebodings, including a telegram that seems to have come from the beyond.
Among the large cast of suspects is Oliver Crane, the director whose finances depend on the success of this play, Jazz Monroe, Milwaukee’s sweetheart with a secret, and the handsome actor Henry Hawthorne, who has designs on Alan. When Alan seems to return Henry’s attentions, Heath must put his jealousy and insecurities aside to determine what’s real, what’s illusion, and who’s acting and who’s telling the truth before death takes a bow.
A Detective Heath Barrington Mystery
By Bud Gundy
Intelligent, handsome, and struggling to make his rent, thirty-year-old Drew Morten loses his only meaningful relationship when his grandmother dies. A famous television anchor, Claudia Trenton leaves Drew the legacy of her secret memoir. From the fate of a vanished medieval prince to a top-secret NASA study about a mystifying space object, her unreported discoveries hum with wonder.
But history merges with the present and upends Drew’s life when he has a terrifying revelation. Teaming up with a brilliant woman who receives the same vision and a handsome man whose arrival is either fortuitous or sinister, Drew follows the clues in his grandmother’s memoir and races against time to save the world from an apocalyptic nightmare about to be unleashed in downtown San Francisco.
As catastrophe looms, so does the question: Who, or what, is the real enemy?
Two newly single, Black, queer, and socially aware men have packed up to start again—in love, career, and life—in the West Hollywood neighborhood of LA.
Zaire James, on the cusp of 30, has decided marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Despite friends, family, and coworkers loving Zaire’s “perfect” partner, divorce is a necessary step for finding himself and being free. If only it were that easy.
Kenny Kane has made a career of deferring dreams, lowering expectations, and chasing partners not on his level in hopes of finding a love to call his own. However, on the verge of the big 4-0, he realizes the clock is ticking on all his dreams.
As Zaire and Kenny undo the significant relationships of their pasts, they hope new opportunities, energy, mindsets, and connections will reinvigorate what is missing in their lives—drama and all.