Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I’m Ranting Today

Hi guys and gals,

Sorry, but today is a rant day. I’m pissed and I need to get something off my chest.

I belong to a group of screenwriters who meet every Tuesday morning in San Francisco. Generally, two people send out 20 to 50 pages of script over the weekend, and then we meet to critique both scripts. It takes about three hours to crawl through 50 pages, making notes and suggestions along the way. It’s a tedious and time-consuming process, and most of the writers in our group take the task seriously and come up with their best advice for improvement. I know I certainly do.

Last week it was my turn. I sent out 50 pages, asking for comments on pages 20 to 50. It was my first submission to the group in two months. I sent it out on Friday, so everyone would have plenty of time to read and comment.

We all met at 10:30 on Tuesday morning. The first session was taken by discussing the experience two members had while pitching their screenplay to producers at a pitch fest. The discussion ate into my time by ten minutes, so I was left with only thirty-five minutes to discuss my script.

When the group leader turned the conversation onto my script, one woman, a know-it-all who considers herself the queen bee of the group, started the discussion by stating that she didn’t have time to read it. I thought: no problem, I’m not interested in your opinion anyway. But then, she read the first line of my script, and proceeded to dominate the conversation for the rest of the time, going into such nit-picky detail that we crawled through only a few pages.

I was expecting a much higher-level discussion of how all the twenty or so scenes fit together, if it flowed well and made sense, and if there were any problems on a scene overview level. But no, every time I tried to steer the conversation to the scene level, this woman dragged it back down to page-one detail.

The just of it was is this was my one chance to submit these fifty pages to the group. Once submitted, we rarely critique a piece again. So this lady basically robbed me of getting valid feedback from the other members, just because she was unprepared to discuss it at a higher level.

I have no problem, Loraine, if you don’t want to read my work. I don’t care. But if you don’t read it, have the courtesy to keep your condescending mouth shut!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: Eye of Scota: Cinaed by Serena Yates

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 202

The one thing that keeps the priests in power and the planet’s population from slipping into moral decay are the magical Slanach Stones. But when it becomes apparent that the current horde of stones are losing their healing power, The High Priest of Dalriata sends a young priest, Cinaed MacAlpin, to a distant land to gather more stones.
Cinaed’s quest leads him to the mystical Eye of Scota, a portal through space that links with Stonehenge on Earth, and the supposed source of the Slanach Stones. But instead of finding more stones, Cinaed finds Tadeo Banderas, the captain of a space ship from earth. Tadeo has been marooned on this planet, and is near death from an animal attack. Cinaed uses his only healing stone to bring Tadeo back to health, and in so doing, falls in love.
Through the Eye of Scota, Cinaed discovers that there is no need for more stones, because any depleted Slanach Stone will regenerate its power when a healing priest and a warrior, who are soul mates, physically bond. Thus, the only thing that can save the planet is the one thing the Council of Priest forbids under penalty of death.
Cinaed’s quest, with Tadeo at his side, turns into a pursuit to convince his own government to allow, even encourage, homosexual bonding.

I confess I have little experience with either Sci-fi or fantasy, and this story has elements of both, so I don’t know how this tale compares with others in the same genre. It is a light, fun, fast paced, delightful read. It is well written and often touching.

I found the character’s situations and their mystical world rather creative and interesting. The sci-fi elements were well conceived, but I felt the author holding back. For instance, the Eye of Scota is a portal to Earth, and I kept expecting someone to use it to travel to Earth, but that portal was never used. Instead it became an all-knowing voice with plenty of attitude. Another example was Tadeo’s phaser gun, which would have come in handy in the second half of this tale, but was somehow forgotten about.

The main characters are certainly likable, but didn’t have the kind of depth I generally look for in fiction. That could be because the characters’ internal arcs didn’t develop as they worked their way through the external challenges.

The issues I mentioned above are trivial, and didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this story. The one complaint I have is that the story felt a bit rushed. I saw numerous opportunities where the author could have expanded the story or gone into more depth, but chose not to. It seemed to me that situations were too quickly gotten into, but more importantly, too quickly resolved. I feel that this story could have easily been expanded into a much more satisfying read.

Still, that aside, there is much enjoyment to be had following these two lovers as they attempt to battle an established religion to bring about sexual freedom and equality, and save their world from decay. I walked away from this book hoping that the author has a sequel up her sleeve. I can recommend this book to anyone who enjoys highly creative tales.

To lean more about this book or its author go to

Sunday, September 26, 2010

October Events - A Different Light bookstore

Thursday, October 7 @ 7:30pm
Dr. Jallen Rix
"Ex-Gay therapy is both ineffective and traumatizing and often leaves wounds which may feel impossible to heal. Until now, there were few books that offered hope for people who have endured this torture and brainwashing. In Ex-gay, No Way, Jallen Rix shares his inspiring story, the path that leads out of self-loathing and depression." --Darren Main, author of Hearts & Minds: Talking to Christians about Homosexuality

Monday, October 11 @ 7:30pm
Steven Saylor
New York Times bestselling author and "modern master of historical fiction" (USA Today) Steven Saylor introduces his highly-anticipated new novel EMPIRE and focuses on the heavy homosexual undertones only at A Different Light. The Pinarius family witnesses the madness of Caligula and Nero, the eruption of Vesuvius, the burning of Rome, the spectacular opening games of the Colosseum, the persecution of Jews and Christians and much more.

Thursday, October 14 @ 7:30pm
Anthony Bidulka, Ellen Hart, Greg Herren
Gay mystery writers Bidulka and Herren return to A Different Light and bring Ellen Hart along this time. The three authors read and sign from their 2010 books and discuss the state of gay mystery. Anthony Bidulka (Date with a Sheesha), Ellen Hart (Wicked Games), Greg Herren (Vieux Carre Voodoo: A Scotty Bradley Mystery).

Tuesday, October 19 @ 7:30pm
Daniel Allen Cox
This second novel by Lambda Literary Award finalist is an incendiary story about two pyromaniacs who fight homophobia in Krakow, Poland. Radek, a bisexual artist, is convinced that fire is the great stabilizer. Driven by rage, sexual curiosity and Pink Floyd, lovers will buck church, government and the LGBT community to find sexual freedom. Provocative and unnerving, Krakow Melt is at once a love letter and a fiery call to arms.

Friday, October 22 @ 7:30pm
G.A. Hauser, Alan Chin & Kage Alan
From erotic to campy, gay fiction comes in all shapes and sizes. A Different Light brings three authors to read and sign from their new novels and comment on their experience capturing the gay experience in book format. G.A. Hauser (Hot Rod), Alan Chin (Match Maker), Kage Alan (Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell).


For more info, contact:
Oscar Raymundo
Events Coordinator
A Different Light
489 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 431 0891

Friday, September 24, 2010

Author Spotlight on Alan Chin today

Hi Everyone,

Today, Saturday the 25th, from 1 to 6 EST, I’ll be in the author spotlight at Dreamspinner Press’s Facebook page.

Come by and say "Hi." Learn more about me and my new release, Match Maker.

Leave a comment and you could win a free Match Maker ebook.

Check it out here:

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Decline of Religion Through Story

Humankind has an insatiable appetite for stories. Story is our most prolific art form, and each day we devour them in billions of pages of prose, the unending stream of television comedies and dramas, movies, 24-by-7 broadcast news, the internet, and even dinner-table bragging. We even experience stories when we sleep, through our dreams. And what compels us to experience stories? The need to know how to live.

Each and every day we humans seek an answer to the ageless question Aristoltle posed in Ethics: How should a man/woman lead his/her life. Strangely enough, even though we seem to spend most of our waking hours chasing after the answer, it seems to elude us. The harder we chase after it, the more it slips through our fingers.

Traditionally, mankind sought the answers to Aristotle’s question from philosophy, science, religion and art. But of these four wisdoms, religion held the most sway with the general population. It defined every aspect of how each man and woman was to live and relate to each other and to the environment. But religion, for many, has become an empty ritual that masks hypocrisy. As we are inundated with other forms of stories from movies, TV, books and media, our faith in traditional ideologies diminishes. We as a culture are turning to the source we now prefer to believe in: the art of story.

Film, novels, theatre, and television have become humanity’s prime source of inspiration as it seeks to gain order from chaos. As playwrite Jean Anouilh said, “Fiction gives life its form.”

So as we go forward into the void called future, fewer people are relying on religion to guide them, and more and more people depend on the writers – novelist, screenwriters, playwrights, journalists – to delve into the human condition and find meaning, then relay that meaning to the masses in the form of story.

Fiction then, is not a flight from reality, but the shiny new vehicle that carries us in search of reality, and the writers, or storytellers, are the new messiahs who lead the way. Some of them even seem to walk on water...

When you think about it, that puts a very weighty responsibility on the shoulders of writers, one that I don’t believe should be taken lightly.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bob Lind Reviews Match Maker

Reviewed by Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 328

The revelation that they were a gay couple forced Daniel Bottega and Jared Stoderling off the professional tennis circuit four years earlier. In the interim, Daniel was marking time as the tennis pro at a quiet country club in San Francisco, while Jared pretty much crawled into a liquor bottle to drown his crushed dreams. When Daniel is approached to train Connor Lin, a promising young prodigy whose tennis game needs focus, he decides to gets Jared involved as well. Besides getting Jared off drinking, it reawakens both of their spirits of competition. Jared goes from just helping Connor workout to being his doubles partner, and both begin to move up the ranks on their singles tournaments.

When the press covering one of the midlevel tournaments gets tipped off about Daniel and Jared's relationship, it results in rumors that Connor is gay as well (He isn't), and the trio experience bias from homophobic judges as well as receiving threats of violence. Determined not to quit again, they continue to compete, supported by good friends and Connor's second generation Chinese-American family. As if the pressure of competition and the homophobia wasn't enough to deal with, all three suffer physical and emotional obstacles that threaten to shatter their dreams.

In a word ... Wow! After reading his previous two novels, I expect outstanding writing from Mr. Chin, but this raises the bar far above any expectations I had. The story will remind you a bit of the gay classic "The Front Runner" in its intensity and "we VS them" conflicts, but I believe the story and characters are even more realistic and relatable here. It's the rare novel you may want to read numerous times, and is a great gift for anyone facing adversity. Beautifully and skillfully done, I give it five match point stars out of five. Bravo!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dumbing Down of America

I've blogged about the dumbing down of America on a few occasions, and even mentioned it in my new novel, Match Maker. And whenever I mention that topic, which I believe to be a dangerous epidemic in our country, I get pushed back from people believing that I'm being elitist.

So before pushing back, or merely brushing me aside as egotistical, watch this video and then tell me you want these people deciding who should be running our government:


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Review: Secret Historian by Justin Spring

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 478

Drawn from the diaries, journals, letters and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, this biography is a reconstruction of one of the most bizarre lives in modern gay culture.

An introvert English professor by day, sexual renegade by night, Steward was an intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder. He also claims to have had sexual relations with a number of famous, or soon-to-be-famous, men, including Rudolph Valentino and Rock Hudson.

For most of his adult life Steward kept a detailed file of each sexual contact, of which there were well over eight hundred, and included the most intimate details of each encounter. As he grew older, he was drawn more into picking up rough trade, and enjoyed BDMS relations with his partners, where he always played the submissive role. Steward hooked up with Alfred Kinsey, and his sex file was instrumental in Kinsey’s landmark sex research.

He finally fled the academic world to make his living as Phil Sparrow, a tattoo artist on Chicago’s notorious South State Street. There he was able to meet a steady stream of sailors and rough trade, and kept the back room jumping. Later in life, during the early 1960’s, Steward moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, and through his Tattoo parlor in Oakland, became friends with many Hell’s Angels. Once in California, under the name of Phil Andros, he wrote a number of pro-gay pornographic novels and short stories.

Steward published three significant nonfiction books in his later years: Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos, a social history of American tattooing; Dear Sammy: Letter From Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, a memoir of their friendship; and Chapter from an Autobiography, a memoir of his life and times.

This book should have been titled “The Life and Times of an Underground Slut.” Through his twenties and thirties, he averaged a sexual contact every forty-eight hours, and he was convinced gay men had no business being in relationships. Keep in mind this was decades before Stonewall and gay liberation. Later in life, he enjoyed paying straight hustlers to force him into submission, and even had a one-page typed sheet explaining what treatment he expected of them.

Although I neither approve or normally enjoy reading about such behavior, it is a tribute to the author that I kept turning to the next page to find out more. This is an extremely well written biography. Sometimes funny, often times shocking, always vivid. I couldn’t put it down. Justin Spring is a huge talent, and even makes the most mundane topics seem interesting.

More interesting than Steward’s personal life, was the times that he lived, where being caught with another man could land you in prison, and many a man fell prey to blackmail. It was times when all gay men were driven deep underground, and even the mere suspicion of being gay would lose you your career. The author presents a fly-on-the-wall account of American homosexual subculture and persecution. It does make one appreciate how far we’ve come in fifty years.

This book is a journey, a long one, but well worth the time and effort. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about gay life prior to Stonewall, or simply read the remarkable tale of a man who threw caution to the wind and lived the life he craved.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fan Mail

Last week I was blown away by a email I received from a fan. Match Maker was released on Monday, Sept. 6th, and I received the email below only two days later. This person must be a speed reader. Wish I could read a novel that fast. Maybe that way I could catch up on my review stack.

But the thing is, she sent me an earlier email telling me how she loved the book. When I emailed her back, thanking her and saying how I loved to hear from readers, she sent this reply:

Mr. Chin,
I was initially hesitant to write to you, but after reading your note I am glad that I did. It is interesting to hear that writers would like to hear from their readers. You are the first that I have written, although I follow a few and regularly purchase their works. Before your note, I tended to believe that it may have been a little "Annie Wilkes-ish."

I am a big tennis fan, which moved me to try Match Maker. I suspected with the U.S Open up, I may have the chance to feed that particular need for a great tennis romance.

I was very moved by Jared and Daniel's story and your beautiful style of telling it. They compelled me to write you. The "behind the game" information was also wonderful, and made the story so very real. Match Maker is now in my "Read Again" folder.

I typically purchase ebooks; easy to store and I admit, I do not like to wait for the mail. Hopefully, your other works will make it to the ebook format soon.

So, let me state simply, I'm met dozens of authors over the last three years, and I don't know a single one who isn't thrilled to hear from an appreciative reader. So please, if you enjoy a book, even if it's not one of mine, , please make the effort to Google that writer and send a quick note. It takes so little time and it means the world to us writers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Writing Tip #22 The Reader Bond

The reader’s emotional involvement is held by the glue of empathy. If a writer fails to fuse a bond between reader and protagonist, the reader will soon lose interest and walk away.

Involvement has little to do with altruism or compassion. Readers empathize for very personal reasons. Mostly because they identify with a protagonist and his/her desires in life. When the reader roots for the protag, s/he is in fact, rooting for his/her own desires in life. Through empathy, the reader vicariously links to the fictional character, and tests and stretches his/her humanity. That is the gift of storytelling – to enable others to live beyond their own lives, at all the various depths of their being.

To establish empathy, therefore, is critical, while sympathy is optional. Sympathy means likeable – Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, or Tracy and Hepburn. We like and admire them. But empathy is more powerful. It means: they’re like me.

Many writers go out of their way to make their protagonists likable. But likable is no guarantee of reader involvement. We all know likeable people who are painfully boring. Rather, the reader identifies with deep character traits, with innate qualities revealed through the choices a character makes while under pressure. In this way, even the most unsympathetic characters can become empathetic.

Macbeth is the perfect example. Driven by power-lust and an evil wife, he goes on a killing spree. He’s a ruthless killer, a monster, right? Not so. Shakespeare gave him a conscience – something we all have and can relate to. When Macbeth asks, “What kind of man am I?” the reader/viewer has most likely asked that question of him/her self. The reader understands what it’s like to be guilt-ridden. So this killer transforms into an empathetic hero.

So the key to forge an empathetic bond, is first to put your characters in a series of pressure situations, and the pressure should increase with each one, and then have the character make choices under pressure that reveals deep human character that readers can relate too. I find it best when an author focuses on one or two character traits, loyalty for example, and then continually bombards the character with situations that test that loyalty.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Review: The Lonely War By Alan Chin

Reviewed by Victor J. Banis
Pubished by Zumaya Boundless
Rating 5 stars

One of my favorite authors, Alan Chin invariably manages to combine an intriguing story with the kind of lush romanticism that seizes the reader and keeps him spellbound. I found his first novel, Island Song enchanting, and with The Lonely War, he has clearly matured as a writer.

A couple of problems got in the way of my full enjoyment of this novel, however, and I might as well get them off my chest. First, the author desperately needs another pair of eyes to look out for mistakes. I don’t mean the sort of typos that have become epidemic in today’s publishing and which I have despaired of ever seeing eliminated, but lapses rather more serious. Here, as one example, is a description from page 6: “he inhaled sharply, catching a whiff of Mitchell’s scent; beneath the pleasant odor of talcum powder he discerned the aroma of sweat moistened skin.” Three pages later, on the whaleboat carrying them to their ship, Andrew notices, “the faint scent of talcum powder mixed with sweat-moistened skin.” It is not simply that this jars, though it does. It is the kind of lapse the big-time critics love to pounce upon. Kirkus once speared me for repeating a description a couple of hundred pages later. They’d be all over this.

And since I’m carping, I will add that I felt some of the scenes in the Japanese prisoner of war camp strained my credibility. I’m not saying that they might not have happened as described, I have no real knowledge of life in Japanese war camps –for all I know, the author may be describing events that in fact happened in real life—which, alas, is irrelevant. In fiction, the litmus test is not, is something real, but does the author make it seem real for the reader. The Japanese camp, Changi, was reputed to be a hell-hole, but it comes across here sounding pretty cushy compared to my brother’s experiences as a prisoner of war in a German camp. I never get that sense of horror here that my brother’s tales and those of his fellow prisoners engendered, though in all fairness, horrific is not this author’s forte.

So, I waffled a bit over rating this book, because the flaws do diminish its impact somewhat, but in the end, what is good about it is so extraordinarily good that it simply outweighed any shortcomings. The prose is masterful. The characters are well drawn and believable. The pacing is beautiful and the ending is absolutely note perfect. This author always writes something more than just a story – he touches upon the universal truths, without ever becoming preachy. There is enjoyment to be had here, but there is wisdom to be gleaned from the book as well. Only the best writers manage that without short changing one or the other.

The Lonely War is a lovely read, touching, sometimes painful, sometimes humorous, and at all times vivid. Alan Chin remains one of my favorite writers. I always look forward to his next work and he is one of those authors whose work I never hesitate to recommend to others, as I do this one.

Friday, September 10, 2010

September Events - A Different Light bookstore

Tuesday, September 21 @ 7:30pm
Lambda Literary Emerging Voices Retreat Fellows
Meg Day, Chuck Forester, Liz Green, Billie Mandel & Oscar Raymundo
We're proud to bring together the Bay Area-based 2010 Lambda Literary Writers’ Retreat fellows for a special reading and discussion. From slam poets to femme novelists, the diversity of styles and genres highlight the vitality of new queer voices. Be the first to listen to their up-and-coming projects and support their emerging talent.

Saturday, September 25 @ 4pm
Odd Man Out: An Autobiography
Jeff Commings
Jeff Commings was the first African-American to win a gold medal in swimming at the Olympic Festival, but he spent all of his teenage years and young adulthood afraid to live openly as a gay man. Heartbreaking and funny, Odd Man Out is an uncompromising tale of the courage, perseverance, talent and friendships that help bring out the best in you.

Monday, September 27 @ 7:30pm
Citizen, Invert, Queer: Lesbianism & War in Early 20th Century Britain
Deborah Cohler
Incorporating cultural histories of prewar women's suffrage debates, British sexology, women's work on the home front during World War I, and discussions of interwar literary representations of female homosexuality, Cohler maps the emergence of lesbian representations in relation to the decline of empire and the rise of eugenics in England.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact:
Oscar Raymundo
Events Coordinator

A Different Light
489 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

(415) 431 0891

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review: Song on the Sand By Ruth Sims

Reviewed by Victor J. Banis
Published by UntreedReads
Rating: 5 Stars

Tony Dalby is 86. Confined to a wheelchair in a nursing home, he lives on memories of an almost career as an actor and dancer, and of his one brief brush with stardom as a stand-in for Zaza in La Cage aux Folles. Angry at the world, he makes life miserable for himself and the staff who look after him.

Tony befriends a handsome young man, Drew, who comes to the nursing home every day to visit his “cousin,” Jesse. “He looks awfully young to be here,” Tony says of Jesse. Drew responds, “He’s twenty-nine today, Mr. Dalby. And he can’t even celebrate.” Tony is horrified. “Boys of twenty-nine didn’t belong in a place like this, a depository for old people with nowhere else to go…”Jesse, blind, deaf and paralyzed as a result of an accident, was an actor too, in community theater. Tony begins to spend more time thinking about Jesse and less about himself, and finds his pent up anger gradually melting.

I can’t tell you much more without spoiling the plot for you. Suffice to say, Song on the Sand is sweet, even sentimental, the kind of story that a writer of lesser talent could make sappy and saccharine, but Ruth Sims is too fine an artist for cheap effects. She paints her canvas with a master’s brush, and it would take a colder heart than mine (which is infamously cold) to read this story without a tear in the eye.

I don’t mean to suggest this is a downer, however. It isn’t. It’s about love - not romantic love, but love of life – and about reaching out, of bridging that vast chasm that separates us from one another. It is written with genuine charm, which is not as easy as one might think, but it is written as well with insight and a gentle sympathy for the human condition. Tony and Jesse and their song on the sand will linger in your thoughts long after you’ve finished reading. Highly recommended, but have a hankie handy.

To read more about his story or author, go to

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Match Maker, available at Dreamspinner Press on Sept. 6th

Hello Everyone,

I hope this email finds you doing well.

I’m excited to announce that on Monday, Sept. 6th, Dreamspinner Press will publish my third novel, Match Maker. If you are at all interested in the trials and triumphs of gay tennis players on the Pro Tour, you can read the first 2 chapters at

In the four years since being forced off the professional tour for being gay, Daniel Bottega has taught tennis at a second-rate country club. He found a sanctuary to hide from an unkind world, while his lover, Jared Stoderling, fought a losing battle with alcohol addiction to cope with his disappointment of not playing on the pro circuit.

Now Daniel has another chance at the tour by coaching tennis prodigy Connor Lin to a Grand Slam championship win. He shares his chance with Jared by convincing him to return to the pro circuit as Connor’s doubles partner.

Competing on the world tour is challenging enough, but Daniel and Jared also face major media attention, political fallout from the pro association, and a shocking amount of hate that threatens Connor’s career in tennis, Jared’s love for Daniel, and Daniel’s very life.

See the video trailer at:

My Publisher and I want to invite you to a virtual book signing on Monday, Sept. 6th at the Dreamspinner Press website and blog.

Event Description: Would you like a signed, personalized copy of Match Maker? If you buy the paperback at (week of Sept. 6th) and leave your personalization request on the Dreamspinner blog (; there will be a corresponding entry nearer the time), I will personalize and sign the book for you before it is shipped! Also, you can have it shipped anywhere, so you can buy copies as gifts and have them personalized and sent directly to that special person.

Thanks for your support,
Alan Chin

Friday, September 3, 2010

GuyWriters presents "Eat Our Shorts"

Get your tickets now!

Sept 8, 10, 15 & 18 at the SF Fringe festival

After months of planning, casting actors and rehearsing,
GuyWriters is set to present "Eat Our Shorts" at the San Francisco Fringe Festival.

Each of the short plays in the "Eat Our Shorts" line up was written, produced and directed by members of GuyWriters. While the subject matter ranges from the comedic to the existential, each play has a common thread - gay life in San Francisco's iconic neighborhoods. Here are this year's featured short plays:

A View From the Heights (Bob Hayden, playwright). Spying on new neighbors prompts a Pacific Heights couple to assess their marriage.

Going Down? (Tom W. Kelly, playwright). Tourists. Leathermen. Elevator.

The Move In (Rhoda, playwright). Ex-boyfriends try for closure in Hayes Valley.

Balboa Bash (Bob Hayden, playwright). Homophobia amongst teenaged boys in the Sunset circa 1950s.

Don't Toy with Me (Andrew Black, playwright). GI Joe and Ken meet cute at Malibu Barbie's place.

The Pick-Up (Rhoda, playwright). It's all flirting and games until someone gets hurt in the Marina.

Life Is Short (Tom W. Kelly, playwright). A car crash leads to an existential repartee between a bickering couple.

'Tude and Gratitude (Edgar Poma, playwright). A young dancer ruminates the effect of Lady Gaga on his life.

Show times:
Sept. 8 - 7 p.m.
Sept 10 - 10 p.m.
Sept. 15 - 8:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 - 8:30 p.m.

This event will sell out! Get your tickets early!

For tickets, call (800) 838-3006 or visit

Graphic Design by Robert Perry

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Counterpoint, Dylan’s Story by Ruth Sims

Reviewed by Alan Chin
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 314

Near the end of the Nineteenth Century, Dylan Rutledge has two obsessions: composing music and Laurence Northcliff, his history master at the Bede School for Young Gentlemen. When all others turn against Dylan for the wild and unorthodox music he composes, Northcliff is the only one who encourages his dream. The two fall deeply in love, but it is a forbidden love in England, punishable by long prison terms at hard labor.

But Dylan’s passion will not be put down. He alienates himself from family, friends, and country when he moves to Paris to study music and live openly as Northcliff’s lover. Although he finds happiness in the arms of Northcliff, he pays a heavy price being out, even in Paris. At every turn, his career is fraught with disappointment, rejection, and eventually a devastating loss that shreds his soul. Can his music bring him back from the brink? Can the love of a man be the strength he needs to survive?

This book is a joy to read. The story is well structured, the characters are compelling, the prose carries the reader along in a dream. I knew before opening the cover page that Ruth Sims has a gift for storytelling. I found that out in her book, The Phoenix. But Counterpoint is far and away a superior, more thoughtful read. Sims has created something rare, an absorbing read that takes the reader through the entire range of emotions, and then back again.

Does it have flaws? There is the occasional head hopping. There are several opportunities where showing, rather than telling, would strengthened the read. There are other places where the dialog is too on-the-nose. But these minor issues go unnoticed as the reader wraps these characters around himself like a cloak on a cold night, and feels their passion and pain. Upon finishing the last page I wanted to stand, clap my hands and yell, “BRAVO.”

This story was several years coming to print, and well worth the wait. If you’re looking for the kind of hot erotic scenes that have become so cliché in mm fiction today, then keep looking. But for anyone who enjoys passionate characters struggling with basic human needs, alluring prose, and historical detail, then I highly recommend this read.

For more information about this book or its author, go to