Sunday, July 3, 2016

A More Perfect Union Anthology (Review + Guest Post)

A More Perfect Union Anthology

Title: A More Perfect Union
B.G. Thomas
J. Scott Coatsworth
Jamie Fessenden
Michael Murphy
Length: 104K
Format: eBook, Paperback
Release Date: 6/26/16
Pairing: MM
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press


On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made a monumental decision, and at long last, marriage equality became the law of the land. That ruling made history, and now gay and lesbian Americans will grow up in a country where they will never be denied the right to marry the person they love.

But what about the gay men who waited and wondered all of their lives if the day would ever come when they could stand beside the person they love and say, “I do?”

Here, four accomplished authors—married gay men—offer their take on that question as they explore same-sex relationships, love, and matrimony. Men who thought legal marriage was a right they would never have. Men who, unbelievably, now stand legally joined with the men they love. With this book, they share the magic and excitement of dreams that came true—in tales of fantasy and romance with a dose of their personal experiences in the mix.

To commemorate the anniversary of full marriage equality in the US, this anthology celebrates the idea of marriage itself, and the universal truth of it that applies to us all, gay or straight.

Someday, by B.G. Thomas

Lucas Arrowood is walking to school on his first day of kindergarten when he meets Dalton Churchill—a boy who stops and helps him tie his shoe. He knows from that moment he is going to marry that boy one day.  “Boys can’t marry other boys,” his mother explains, but that doesn’t stop Lucas. He knows what he wants.

He and Dalton become best friends—and then, no matter how much he resists, Dalton falls in love with Lucas. Dalton's very conservative family can't accept that their boy loves another boy, but finally Dalton stands up for love and for Lucas. Still, he declares he won't marry Lucas until it is legal everywhere. He hates the “Commitment Ceremonies” gay men have. They aren’t the real thing. Why bother?

So Lucas waits for his day. The day same-sex marriage finally becomes legal and he can be joined forever with the love of his life.

Flames, by J. Scott Coatsworth

Alex and Gio had a big fight, and Alex ran away. Then a fire at home destroyed the life they had built together, and threatened to take Gio away from him.

Alex had always thought love was enough to keep them together. Why did they need wedding rings or legal certificates? But now, with Gio lost in a coma, his mother has banished Alex from his side.

What if Alex’s voice is the only thing that can bring Gio back from the brink? Their memories are all Gio has left, and the urge to just let go is getting stronger.

Still, nothing can keep Alex from Gio's side. If it’s against the rules, he’ll break them. In stolen moments alone together, Alex fights to bring him back, one memory at a time.

Destined, by Jamie Fessenden

When Jay and Wallace first meet at an LGBTQ group, they have no idea they’ll be dating six years later. In fact, they quickly forget each other’s names. But although fate continues to throw them together, the timing is never quite right. Finally they’re both single and  realize they want to be together… but now they can’t find each other! With determination and the help of mutual friends, Jay and Wallace can finally pursue the relationship they’ve both wanted for so long.

It’s only the beginning of the battles they’ll face to build a life together.

From disapproving family members all the way to the state legislature, Jay and Wallace’s road to happily ever after is littered with obstacles. But they’ve come too far to give up the fight.

Jeordi and Tom, by Michael Murphy

Living as an open, loving gay couple in the rural South isn’t easy—even today.

When Jeordi and Tom move in together and come out to their families, Jeordi's family does not take the news especially well. When yelling doesn’t work, they send in one sibling after another to try to separate the couple. When that fails, they call out their pastor to help Jeordi see the error of his ways. But Jeordi’s love for Tom is greater than anything they throw at them.

When an accident sends Jeordi to the hospital, his family goes too far when they try to keep Tom from visiting his partner. Jeordi and Tom are determined to do everything in their power to gain legal protection so this can never happen again. But when a bigoted county clerk refuses to issue them a marriage license, Jeordi decides a big, bold effort is called for, which is precisely what he sets in moVon so no one can ever separate him from Tom again.

Buy The Book:
Amazon ~ Dreamspinner

4 stars

*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America made same-sex marriage a legal right for all. I remember that morning very clearly. I was running late for work and was standing at the kitchen counter packing my lunch. The news was on in the background when the ruling was issued. The first thing I did was call my uncle and tell him and his husband congratulations. They had traveled from Louisiana to New York the year before to get married after being together for 25 plus years and now they were legally married, not only in New York and Louisiana, but in every other state as well. So when I received the email asking to promote and review this anthology, I couldn't pass it up!! 

Flames, by J. Scott Coatsworth

Alex and Gio

This was a sad, but hopeful story of second chances. Not in the typical way we think of a second chance story, but a second chance nonetheless. When Alex comes home angry after a bad day, he takes it out on Gio. He gets mad and storms out, and while he's gone tragedy strikes, and Alex discovers just how fragile life can be. 

I'll be honest, I wanted to punch Alex in the face. He was a complete and utter twat. But he slowly redeems himself, to the point that I was absolutely heartbroken for him. He was a well developed character and showed great growth throughout the story. 

The story is well written and a real page turner. 

Jeordi and Tom, by Michael Murphy

Tom and Jeordi

Jeordi and Tom are young, in love and in a committed loving relationship. Unfortunately, they live in a rural town in Kentucky, surrounded by religious bigotry. When Jeordi ends up in the ER, and Tom tries to see him, it doesn't end well when Jeordi's family interferes.  

This was a good story, and sadly their situation is an all too common occurrence. I loved the main characters. They were sweet and loving. I know this was a short story, but I wish the characters had been better developed. I wasn't really sure how old they were, what they looked like, what they did for a living. I don't need a ton of details, but it would have been nice to have been told some of the basics. 

I wanted to throw Jeordi family off a really tall building. The people and their religious bigotry make me so angry. I won't preach. I really won't preach, I'll just say this was an enjoyable read. Somewhat unrealistic, but still enjoyable. 

Destined, by Jamie Fessenden

Jay and Wallace

This story is all about destiny. When you're destined to meet, yet the time isn't right for you to be together. Jay and Wallace meet again later, and the time still isn't right, but when the time is finally right, and Jay is single, he searches for Wallace and finally finds him. This is their story. It takes us through the progression of their relationship. From dating, to moving in together then to marriage. It was well written, but a bit slow paced at times. The characters were both likable. All in all it was an enjoyable read. 

Someday, by B.G. Thomas

Lucas and Dalton

Lucas meets first grader Dalton on his first day of kindergarten. Dalton teaches Lucas to tie his shoe, and Lucas tells his mom he is going to marry Dalton one day. Lucas doesn't accept his mom's explanation that boys can't marry other boys. Lucas knows deep in his heart that it'll happen. Lucas and Dalton become best friends. We follow Lucas and Dalton's story from that day, through middle school, high school, college and into adulthood. 

This was my favorite story in the anthology. I loved the characters. They were likable guys you could root for. They just had to get their right to marry. They had to get their HEA. I loved watching them grow, and although I wanted to punch Dalton at times, he redeemed himself. These characters are well developed, the story well written and paced well. I adored Lucas' mom and his best friend, Sam (Samantha). They were both supportive and there for Lucas when he needed then most. 

Anthologies are tough to rate, but this one was actually enjoyable. The stories were all about novella length, and not just short stories, so we actually got to know the characters, and the stories all had a plot, something that can be missing in anthologies. The LGBT community gaining the right to marry is so monumental. It was important to these four authors and their husbands and it shows in their stories. 

Author Bios

B.G. Thomas

B.G. Thomas lives in Kansas City with his husband of more than a decade and their fabulous little dog. He is lucky enough to have a lovely daughter as well as many extraordinary friends. He has a great passion for life.

B.G. loves romance, comedies, fantasy, science fiction, and even horror—as far as he is concerned, as long as the stories are character driven and entertaining, it doesn’t matter the genre. He has gone to literature conventions his entire adult life where he’s been lucky enough to meet many of his favorite writers. He has made up stories since he was a child; it is where he finds his joy.

In the nineties, he wrote for gay magazines but stopped because the editors wanted all sex without plot. “The sex is never as important as the characters,” he says. “Who cares what they are doing if we don’t care about them?” Excited about the growing male/male romance market, he began writing again. Gay men are what he knows best, after all—since he grew out of being a “practicing” homosexual long ago. He submitted a story and was thrilled when it was accepted in four days. Since then the stories have poured out of him. “It’s like I’m somehow making up for a lifetime’s worth of stories!”

“Leap, and the net will appear” is his personal philosophy and his message to all. “It is never too late,” he states. “Pursue your dreams. They will come true!”

J. Scott Coatsworth:

Scott has been writing since elementary school. After leaving writing for twenty years, Mark, his husband, told him “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”

Since then, Scott has gone back to writing in a big way, finishing more than a dozen short stories – some new, some that he had started years before – and seeing his first sale. He’s embarking on a new trilogy, and also runs the Queer Sci Fi site, a support group for writers of gay sci fi, fantasy, and supernatural fiction.
Mark and Scott have been together for twenty four years. They met at the Pacific Center, an LGBT center in Berkeley, California, in 1992. They dated for two weeks, and then Scott moved in with Mark, and the rest is history. They run their own business together, study Italian, and are almost never found apart.

Jamie Fessenden
Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school. He published a couple of short pieces in his high school's literary magazine, but it wasn't until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest. With Erich alternately inspiring and goading him, Jamie published his first novella in 2010, and has since published over twenty other novels and novellas.

After legally marrying in 2010, buying a house together, and getting a dog, Jamie and Erich have settled down to life in the country, surrounded by wild turkeys, deer, and the occasional coyote. A few years ago, Jamie was able to quit the tech support job that gave him insanely high blood pressure. He now writes full-time... and feels much better.

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy met his husband Dan thirty-four years ago during a Sunday service at MCC in Washington, DC when a hot, smart man sat down beside him. Due to a shortage of hymnals they had to share.  The touch of one hand on the other in that moment was electric. Sparks flew that day. Though neither had planned it, they spent the day together followed by the night.  From that day, for more than three decades they’ve rarely been separated, each finding in the other their soul mate.

In the District of Columbia, where they lived, marriage became possible in early March 2010.  The minute it happened they were in line to get a marriage license, only to be stumped because the license required the name of the person who was going to marry them. There was such a sudden rush of same sex couples wanting to get married that the office already had a two-month backlog before an appointment could be secured.  Since they weren’t at all convinced that the Congress wasn’t going to step in and do something stupid to take away this right, they started calling everywhere to find someone who would marry them. It might be legal, but finding someone to marry them was proving to be a challenge.

When an article appeared in the newspaper telling of a small, local United Methodist Church that had decided to go against general church policy because marriage equality mattered deeply to them, a conversation started.  After a series of emails and phone calls, suddenly they were seated with two retired UMC ministers who were willing to risk it all to do the right thing.  A few days later, license in hand, surrounded by a handful of friends and their best dog, Shadow, they were finally legally married.

Thanks for allowing us to have a guest post on Bayou Book Junkie for “A More Perfect Union”, a new anthology of stories about same sex marriage and marriage equality by four gay, married men. Together, we have a combined 21 years of marriage, and 88 years together as couples.

BBJ asked all four of us to answer three questions about how the advent of marriage equality in the USA affected us:

1. Where were you when you heard the Supreme Court's ruling?

Jamie Fessenden: I believe I was at home writing and alternating time on social media. I heard about the ruling on Facebook.

Michael Murphy: The morning the ruling came down, I had considered going down to the Court to be present when the decision was announced, but I had other things going on at work that day and needed to be there instead.  I had been present when the cases were argued, along with thousands of other people, mostly in favor or equality for all with regards to marriage, so I had to be content with being present at the beginning instead of the end of the process.

J. Scott Coatsworth: Mark and I were in our home office, with the TV on, refreshing the SCOTUS Blog feed madly. At the time, I was doing a daily equality blog called Marriage Equality Watch, and we were all ready to blast out the news. We hoped for a win... but with this Court, you never know. And so we were nervous as hell.

B.G. Thomas: I was at work. I had just happened to turn on my phone and opened Facebook and there it was. I nearly burst into tears. I was overjoyed and so incredibly happy. I jumped on the forklift and zoomed over to area of the building where my husband works and let him know. I was utterly amazing.

2. What were the feelings you experienced when you heard the Court's decision?

Jamie Fessenden: I couldn't believe it, at first. I thought it might be a misinterpretation or rumor, so I went to check it out on news sites. To my surprise, it was true. I really hadn't had much faith in the court making the right decision.

Michael Murphy: While I basically knew what the decision was likely to be based on the briefs submitted and the questions the justices had asked during the arguments, it was still a tremendous relief to hear the decision given and to know that it was indeed done, that nothing had cropped up at the last minute to derail marriage equality. The instant I had the ruling in hand, a minute or two (at the most) after it was announced, I immediately shared it with my boss since we had filled countless amicus briefs with the District Courts, Courts of Appeal, as well as the Supreme Court.

J. Scott Coatsworth: Absolute elation. It's hard to describe. We screamed, we jumped up and down, and then we cried and cried and cried. We had personally been fighting for marriage equality in one way or another for at least 11 years, and yet it seemed to come so suddenly. Just a year before, only a handful of states allowed it, and then on the eve of the decision, that number had swelled to 37. In one fell swoop, it jumped to 50. It was overwhelming. And humbling. It meant the cause we had fought do hard for was done, and there was a sudden void in our lives where it had been.

B.G. Thomas: As I said above, I was overjoyed. I had to go the restroom to make sure I wasn’t crying in front of everyone. I was flying high all day. To know what I already knew—that I am not a second class citizen—was incredibly powerful. Civil Unions were not enough. Now not only did I have my own marriage, but I knew everyone else could have one as well. And now two years later, I find I am just as happy! And the feelings are just as powerful. Not a second class citizen! I am legally equal to everyone else in this country.

3. How did you and your partner (if you have one) celebrate the court's ruling?

Jamie Fessenden: I called my husband at work and told him about the decision, but he'd already heard. We didn't celebrate, because for us, the big decision had come six years earlier, in June of 2009, when the New Hampshire legislature legalized same-sex marriage. On THAT day, Erich came to my apartment (we'd been dating for seven and a half years, but we hadn't yet moved in together) and almost immediately getting down on one knee to propose. We had to wait a bit longer than a year for the law to go into effect and to buy a house together, but we married in the fall of 2010.

Michael Murphy: As news junkies, we watched and listened to every commentator tear the decision apart and argue for or against equality.  We both continue to be astonished by how completely some people can twist logic to fit their preconceived ideas on a particular subject. We did not do anything special to celebrate, partly because we have been together for so long (34 years).

J. Scott Coatsworth: Immediately? We went out to a great dinner together. In the longer run? A bunch of little things. We celebrate now by holding hands together in places we used to be afraid to show personal affection. We celebrate by learning to be comfortable with the word "husband". And using it in front of strangers. I celebrate by writing stories like Flames, about an abiding love between two men that is worthy of the word "marriage." And we celebrate each year by adding another notch to our anniversary scorecard. Eight years married this fall, 24 years together.

B.G. Thomas: And as for how we celebrated? Well, that’s none of your business. LOL!

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