Mele Kalikimaka; How About an Excerpt?

So now that “Mele Kalikimaka” is out, I figured you, Constant Reader, should get a little taste of our story. And why not a section primarly written by Noah, so you can see just how good he is with setting up characters and scenes. Maybe you’ll get an idea why I was so excited to write a story with him?

Meet Micah Keolu, who has lived in Hawaii all his life….

Micah woke to the sound of the mynah birds right outside his window, chirping away and greeting the early morning. It was a far more pleasant sound than his blaring alarm that was set to go off in another few minutes. The clock read 3:50 a.m., and Micah wasn’t ready for another full shift of work.

Ordinarily, a cup of cheap store-bought coffee was enough to give Micah that morning boost. But on back-to-back work shifts like today, he needed something stronger. From the cupboard, he pulled out a half-full bag of Kope Farms brand Kona coffee and inhaled the deep, strong aroma. It was about the only luxury item he allowed himself, and that was only because his cousin worked on the coffee farm and was able to get it to Micah for a good price.

While the coffee brewed, Micah sat down to a breakfast of leftover rice and chicken from the restaurant. It wasn’t the best or most nutritious meal, but at least he wasn’t starving. He had food in his stomach, clothes on his back, and a roof over his head. Micah considered himself lucky.

After breakfast and a quick shower, Micah got in the elevator, toting an extra-large thermos of coffee. He braced himself as the elevator started with a hard jolt. Micah and most of the other long-time residents accepted this as normal, even though Micah had told Todd Bates, the building manager, about it several times. The building was over thirty years old—older than Micah—and in need of repairs from the basement to the penthouses. But, it seemed like Bates was more interested in keeping everything looking pretty than in how things ran.

“First impressions are very important.” Bates always gave the same kind of pep talk in the morning before Micah and the other maintenance workers started their shift. As a former real estate agent, Bates knew how to sell an apartment in the building but had no clue how the building functioned. “People coming to Hawaii for the first time want that famous ‘aloha spirit.’ We want to make their experience unforgettable.”

Micah would shake his head.

Bates, a transplant from Chicago or some damn place on the mainland, didn’t know the first thing about aloha spirit or anything truly Hawaii. Bates thought that everyone in Hawaii wore bright aloha shirts and leis and did the hula all day long. Or at least that was the commercialized image of Hawaii he wanted to spread to the tourists and renters in the building. It was bad enough the employees had to wear insanely bright blue flowery shirts that were uncomfortable and retained the heat. At least they didn’t have to wear the plastic leis that Bates had proposed.

After Bates’s meeting about the busy holiday season and news of more tourists arriving, he made sure they all knew—as if he hadn’t told them already at least a hundred times—to greet the guests with “aloha!” Micah rolled his eyes and could almost feel the other guys doing the same. The other workers had found a sneaky way to avoid it by speaking rapid-fire Filipino and pretending not to know any English.

Flashy Hawaiian shirts always gave tourists away, especially the ones who were visiting for the first time. They had that excited gleam in their eyes, and while Micah was usually happy for them, his enjoyment quickly waned when they showed their ignorance and privileged attitude.

But, Micah knew tourism was the lifeblood of Hawaii. And not all tourists were like that. Most were friendly, even if a little uninformed, and wanted to know more about Hawaii—the history, the culture, the language—and not where to find the best surf spot or mai tai.

In actuality, Micah didn’t mind talking with the guests. He liked finding out about where they came from and how their homes differed from his own. It made him wonder about the different places he might be lucky enough to visit one day. He dreamed about exploring famous places and seeing landmarks he had only seen in pictures and movies. Micah had never left the islands and wanted to explore the rest of the country, even the world. He would love to experience the changing of seasons—see the colors of the leaves in fall, experience snow for the first time, see spring flowers break through the earth. In Hawaii, it was sort of a constant season with periods of hot and not-so-hot during the year.

Micah knew it was still a long way off.

But he was getting there.

You fulfilled your dreams one step at a time.

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Isn’t Micah a sweetie? He’s going to save Chandler Buckingham from a life time of near “social servitude” to his very wealthy family!

Hope you want to read more!

Namasté,
B.G.

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Amazon UK
B&N
ARe

“Mele Kalikimaka” is Our Way to Say “Merry Christmas” to You!

So once again Ben (that’s me) is very excited. I’m excited a lot! But then I love life, even when it’s going through a rough patch. Yep! That’s me! LOL!

And today I am excited for a couple reasons. First, my new holiday story is now available to you, my wonderful constant readers. This tale is called “Mele Kalikimaka,” and for those of you who somehow haven’t heard the song, “Mele Kalikimaka” is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to you. But the song was only part of the inspiration for this tale.

So I was talking to my friend, up and coming writer, Noah Willoughby and I was telling him how I was trying to come up with an idea for this year’s Dreamspinner Advent Calander. I wanted to come up with something totally different that my previous holiday tales. Also, Noah and I had been talking for at least a year about the possibility of writing something together. And we somehow happened to be chatting how Christmas is celebrated a bit differently where he lived—Hawaii. Then quite suddenly it hit me! What if I got away from snow storms and snowmen and Santa working magick and wrote about Christmas in a place where it never gets cold and a snowflake is the last thing you’ll see? And wouldn’t this be the perfect opportunity to finally write my story with Noah?

And that’s how it began.

I am also excited because this is my first professional collaboration story. In fact I haven’t written anything with someone in…well…too many years to count. I was nervous too. Writing with someone can be a problem with egos and hurt feelings and one person thinking they should be in charge and on and on. But that didn’t happen! This story wrote itself as smooth as…lovely Hawaiian sand. The biggest problem was the scenes we wanted to write together. Noah is five years behind me! And we both work full time. Finding time slots where we were both awake and not at work was our biggest obstacle. But we did it! And I am so very proud of this story!

Want to know more? Well…here you go!

MELE KALIKIMAKA

Being rich has its advantages, but it is also rife with suffocating pressures and family telling Chandler Buckingham how to live his life. When his assistant offers to help him escape the mounting obligations of the holiday season by running away to Hawaii, Chandler jumps at the chance. Only to find nothing is quite as he’d expected.

Micah Keolu has lived in Hawaii all his life. He has to work two jobs and has little time for a social life, but his loving family and the island beauty around him have given him a heart as big as the ocean. And then one day he rescues a man trapped in an elevator in the building where Micah lives and works maintenance.

The unexpected happens as they find themselves drawn together, only to learn there is more to each other than meets the eye. Can two men from very different worlds find a way to enrich each other’s lives? Maybe the magic of the holidays just might bring them lasting joy!

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Advent Calendar “Bah Humbug.”

Noah and I are very excited (yes!) to present this story to you and we hope you will give it a chance. Hopefully it will bring some holiday cheer in this season that has a lot of people depressed, even more than usual.

“Mele Kalikimaka!”
B.G. Thomas

PS: Scroll down beneath the Buy Links for a little more “Mele Kalikimaka” cheer!

Buy Links:
Dreamspinner Press
Amazon
Amazon UK
B&N
ARe

…and for a HAWT Bette(r) version (maybe)…

I Am So Thankful to Have a Home

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So, after six hours on the road Wednesday to go see my mom (for the first time in two years), then two very full days there (I even had to have naps) and then a very full morning and a long drive back (for some reason it took a good hour and a half more) we are home. Tired. Worn out. But satiated and content.

And we are, after all, home. In a house. In our house. Tonight, we will be sleeping in our bed. The bed’s in Mom’s husband’s house are…well, as Goldlock’s said about Papa Bear’s bed…too hard. Tonight’s bed, even though it is this Daddy Bear’s bed, is just right.

I have to work tomorrow but I have time to get a good night’s sleep. And I think that I will. Yes, I do. In my bed.

I miss Mom already. I do. Very much. And hey! I have a mom!

My daughter doesn’t. Kaththea passed away two years ago and Jayli grieves deeply. I supposed she will for a long time. In fact, I know many people who don’t have a parent. Even both of them. Parents are an often neglected blessing. It’s easy to take them for granted.

And so is a roof over the head, whether it is an apartment or condo or dorm room or house. There are millions of people in this world who are homeless. Researching showed there are at least two thousand homeless people in Kansas City, 30% of them unsheltered. And our homeless situation is an all-time low. Many cities have far more homeless.

A place to stay and count as our own is a huge neglected blessing. People, myself included, take it for granted.

Not tonight. As I am home sweet home, and sitting here on my couch, in my living room, with my dog Sarah Jane cuddled up next to me, warm, and typing on my computer, with the two new Dreamspun Desires novels on the arm of said couch, and ready to make a relaxing cocktail, I can only see the tremendous amount of blessings I have in my life.

Today I am thankful for all of this and more in this time of Thanksgiving. An event I don’t see as some kind of money making campaign. I choose to see it as a reminder to be thankful for all that I’ve been given. And a hope that I can remember this all year long!

Thank You Universe,
Namasté,
Ben aka BG Thomas

Thankful for My Personal Family; The One I’ve Helped Create

I am so thankful for the family I have helped create. Of course that means my daughter Jayli, but it is also the family. The “village.” The safe harbor against a world that can be dark and cold.

There is the “head” of this family, the man who came to find me, who chose me, and who I chose in return. The man who married me on November 5th, 2005, even thought we couldn’t get “legally” married at the time. It was a public ceremony, announcing to one and all, friends, neighbors, strangers, hotel staff that wandered by, the world, that we were marrying each other. In the old way. The way that mattered since the cave man days. No piece of paper was needed.

Then we legally married on June 30th, 2015, by telling the world we respected the opportunity that we had been (finally) given and chose to tell the legal system that we were married! I cry on both days. Happy tears of course.

I am so thankful for this man.

And then there are the dogs.

I am thankful for Sarah Jane and Oliver

I am a dog person. I like other people’s cats a lot. But I like dogs. No. Love them.

I love these creatures, the most successful and amazing genetic experiment in all of human history. One that until about a hundred years ago was more or less a happy mistake.

Dogs are unique in the way that they have been companions to humans for thousands of years. Wolves that will associate with humans have been shown to prefer the company of wolves. Dogs on the other hand, even dogs that might have been pack dogs, prefer and/or come to prefer the company of humans. Dogs depend on us. They do better with us. The same way a lot of us do better with dogs.

That is certainly true of my dogs, Sarah Jane and Oliver. In many ways Sarah is “my” dog (I almost feel that she is my familiar) and Oliver is my husbands. I found SJ and he found Oliver. They in many ways bonded to the founder. But that is not entirely true and a big part of that is that R is a cat person and I am a dog person and so Oliver has become my buddy and friend in so many ways.

R has teased/groused that I love Sarah more than I do him. I told him that when he meets me at the door each day wagging his butt and crying in utter joy that I am home, then I will love him more than the dogs!

And of course he is my man. R, not Oliver. He is my companion and my protector and partner.

I am so thankful for this amazing and wonderful family.

With them I am even more complete.

Namasté,
Ben aka B.G.

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I Am So Thankful for More Than Enough Food

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I am so grateful that I have always had more than enough food.

Once, and only once, for maybe a week, did I worry about having enough food. That’s it. In my entire life. There are people starving out there.

My husband and I helped make Thanksgiving dinner this year. We’ve been doing it alone for years, and with as many Thanksgivings as I’ve had to work, R has made it alone. So why should my mother, who has spent night and day watching over her husband who had a stroke this past year, have to do it alone? And she did plenty believe me! R and I made the turkey and I did the stuffing (which was mindbogglingly good if I do say so myself), but there was also mashed potatoes (real) and gravy, green bean casserole, creamed corn (home made and my gosh I’ve never had anything so good), deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, cream cheese salad (OMGosh!) and of course rolls. Not to mention four kinds of pie! Pumpkin (the regular kind), layered pumpkin pie (a wonderful specialty of my mother’s) , chocolate pudding pie and the Amish pies R and I brought, gooseberry pies (wow!) and four or four different kinds of cookies she made.

It was me, my husband, my daughter, Mom, her husband, and his sister.

It was all wonderful and I liked the sister, Virginia, a lot!

I took a little nap from all that food and now I am up and here in just a bit we are going to watch Captain America; Civil War. Mom loves it when either I or my brother watch Marvel movies with her because she doesn’t always understand all that is going on and we can run commentary for her.

And there is so much food! In this world where people are starving.

Sometimes (most of the time?) it is what we have so very much of, or what we never even think about, that we (me, I will speak for me) forget to be thankful for.

So today, through my whole meal, as I was eating, this is what I did.

1) Thought about what I was eating and enjoyed it. Really enjoyed what I was eating instead of just shoveling it in like coal into a furnace.

2) Stayed conscious of how grateful and blessed I was to have such a big wonderful complete meal when I happen to know there are people who considered themselves lucky to have a Swanson’s turkey TV dinner meal.

3) Stayed conscious over the fact that I had loving family to eat with.

4) Was blessed to not only have a husband, but one who drove us all the way to Arkansas to see my Mom, who helped cook, and was kind enough to do one of the worse Thanksgiving jobs; cut all the leftover turkey off the carcass so my mom didn’t have to.

What a Thanksgiving.

Today I am thankful for the big and small—more than enough to eat. And to have had such a wonderful Thanksgiving meal!

Thank You Universe,
Namasté,
Ben aka BG Thomas

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I Am So Thankful for Family

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I am so grateful for family.

And when I say family, I not only mean my family of choice; I mean family by blood. I am a fortunate gay man that was not kicked out of the house and did not lose my family when I came out. I thought I was going to be. I figured my dad would want nothing to do with me. I hoped that my mother would at least live with it. I thought “family” was going to be over.

And yet it all went over much better than I thought it would. In fact my dad all but yawned. He’d figure it out. Because I talk with my hands! LOL! I wanted to cry out (actually I did), “What does that have to do with anything?” and then realized I was gesticulating with said hands!

As it further turned out, one of my father’s oldest friends (and who my brother was partially named after) was gay!

“Dad!” I cried (yes, I actually did). “How in the world has that never come up? How could you never have told me that Uncle Alan was gay?” (not really my uncle, but as a kid he was so close to my dad that using the word Mr. Brown seemed wrong to my parents)

Dad shrugged and said something like, “I never thought about it much. It wasn’t important.”

Mom was the one who wound up struggling with the whole gay thing. She still does I think although she loves my husband dearly and considers us a couple and everything, but she still hopes we’ll both find a nice lady (I almost asked her once, “You mean the same one?”)

But that doesn’t matter. She is trying. She loves me. She loves us. And tonight I am having dinner with her and my family—my husband and daughter—and her new husband and, yes (!), we are all family! We are in Arkansas, visiting my mother, for Thanksgiving! This is the first time I’ve seen my mother in almost two years.

My blessings are overwhelming! Not only do I have my beloved family of choice. Not only do I have the family I helped create. Not only do I have my family by (legal) marriage. But I have a blood family that loves me and accepts me and who I love and accept back.

That is a lot to be thankful for.

Namasté,
Ben aka BG Thomas

Grateful That I Have a Daughter

I am a gay man. Thought I might be bisexual, but no. I mean I guess I might be a Kinsey 5.75, buy yeah, pretty much gay. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love my daughter’s mother. I did. And I am so grateful that I am not one of those so-called Gold Card Gays.

We didn’t work out but we gave it a good try. And in the bargain I got a daughter.

I discovered something when she was a baby though…. I seem to be missing something. Some gene….

Everyday I see people posting about their children. On and on, photographs, aren’t they cute, etc. And without thought, without resentment, without thinking about it, their children are first first first in their lives. Jayli truly nearly drove me insane when she went through her colic stage. Other parents poo-pooed it as a minor thing. I thought I might jump off a building!

But thank God I have her. Thank God!

When her mother and I split, I didn’t do what a huge amount of gay men do. I didn’t run away. I didn’t—for instance—run off to Chicago (my sort of home town) and live a life of frolicking with the gays. I stayed in Kansas City. Jayli didn’t ask to be born. Why should she have a part time dad? A man she flied off to Chicago to see every other Christmas?

I would not do that to her!

So I stayed. And I tried to be the best dad I could be. I haven’t always been successful. Ask Jayli. I am sure she will tell you of my failings.

But I’ve tried. I’ve tried to do my best….

I remember her being born. I was there. I held her first. I stamped her little feet on the ink pad and then that sheet of paper from the hospital. I remember first birthday cakes. I remember her jumping on the coffee table with her pretend guitar and rocking out to Guns ‘N’ Roses Sweet Child of Mine.

I remember that Dad was the first thing she said.

I was there for graduations. Proms. First boyfriends and terrible breakups. I’ve always been there for her no matter what.

I gave her…ah…advise. I wanted to scream when she called me and asked—this was my daughter!—but I didn’t. I gave her the info she asked for. She thanked me for it later.

We can fight like cats and dogs. But in the end, I am so blessed.

I have a daughter!

And I love her with all my heart!

Namasté,
Ben aka BG Thomas

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