NEG UB2: An Exclusive Excerpt from the trilogy M4M by Rick R. Reed

NEG UB2: An Exclusive Excerpt from the trilogy of romance, M4M
NEG UB2. For those of you not familiar, this shorthand, meaning ‘negative; you be too’ has shown up in online personals for years…and it can be kind of hurtful. In the excerpt below, our underdog romantic hero, Ethan Schwartz, comes across the phrase for the first time.

Finding and keeping love can be a challenge in the modern world of blogging, social media, and online dating, as one man will learn in this trilogy.

“VGL Male Seeks Same”

Poor Ethan Schwartz. At forty-two, he’s alone, his bed is empty, and his HDTV is overworked. He’s tried bars and other places where gay men are supposed to find each other, but it never works out. Maybe he should get a cat?

But his life is about to change…

“NEG UB2”

Poor Ethan. He’s received the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s HIV positive. Until today his life was perfect, with a job he loves and Brian, who could be “the one.” The one to complete him and fill his lonely life with laughter, hot sex, and romance.

But Ethan’s in for another shock. Could Brian have infected him?

“STATUS UPDATES”

Alone again, Ethan wonders if life is worth living, even with a cat. When an old nemesis sends a Facebook friend request, Ethan is suspicious but intrigued. It seems this old acquaintance has turned his life around, and the changes might hold the key to Ethan getting a new lease on life… and love.

Enjoy an Exclusive Excerpt

One thing that will let you know I wasn’t online for naughty purposes was the dispassion I felt as paged through the site with its come-ons, its cries for help, its attempts at wit, and its leave-nothing-to-the-imagination photographs (or pics, I guess you would say…I really must get with the times one of these days!). Like the hopeful in A Chorus Line, I felt nothing. But this allowed me to view the site somewhat objectively and what stuck out to me and what really caught my eye—over and over again—was a little shorthand that many guys had chosen to include in their ads. This shorthand made this newly diagnosed HIV positive man feel excluded, hurt, and alone.

The term? NEG UB2.

So short, so to-the-point. So cutting. So cruel. It’s equally as bad as a few other key phrases designed to keep the “unworthy” at bay, phrases like “No fats” or “No fems”. But it’s NEG UB2 that really got to me.

Do the people who put that in their “what I’m looking for” realize how casually hurtful that phrase can be? Do they stop for a moment to consider that someone—or even many someones—out there reading this hateful little phrase may be newly diagnosed and struggling? Or maybe they’re not new to HIV or AIDS itself and came to this online community looking for a little love, a little companionship, and maybe a feeling of being included? Do they stop to think how very STUPID the phrase is? Not just in its cruelty, but also in the fact that if they think it’s some kind of magic phrase to screen out all potential suitors who are HIV positive, they’re using something that’s probably as effective as a condom full of holes? Just saying you’re negative and asking someone else to be the same way does not make it so.

Trust me, I know.

I also know that maybe, in their misguided, unthinking way, these guys are just looking to protect themselves from contracting a disease that may seriously impact the rest of their lives. Even though my doctor tells me that an HIV diagnosis no longer has to be viewed as a death sentence, it still is a life-changing illness, albeit one that’s not quite as life-threatening as it once was. If you don’t have it, you don’t want to get it.

Trust me, I know.

But even if you put that phrase in your profile as a means of self-protection, consider what you’re doing and how it might affect someone else online. Someone, like me, who already feels singled out and, in his worst moments, like damaged goods that no one will ever want again. That phrase makes my lowest moments plunge lower.

Whatever your intentions, ignorant, self-preservative, or just plain callous, consider this: you can make the same message without making someone feel so bad. By simply stating what you believe is your own status—healthy negative and would like to stay that way—is a gentler way of getting across the point: “I’d rather not get involved with someone who is HIV+ because of the risk.” And it’s certainly kinder than saying NEG UB2.

Or maybe—and here’s a radical notion—maybe you should just do away with phrases like NEG UB2 or a gentler variation and say nothing at all. Take your chances. Make your connections based on things other than someone’s medical history. There are ways to protect yourself. There are couples out there who are one half poz, one half neg…and they make it work.

And besides, if you’re looking for sex online, isn’t it wise to simply assume everyone is POZ? And then you can really protect yourself…rationally and thoughtfully.

About the Author:Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their Boston terrier.

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From Fan to Friend by Vivien Dean – Guest Blog

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes Vivien Dean, as she celebrates the release of Stranded with Desire, which she co-wrote with Rick R. Reed.

From Fan to Friend

I am no stranger to collaboration. I wrote over seventy stories with Pepper Espinoza, someone I’d known since she was nineteen, but we entered our five-year partnership as Jamie Craig as a bit of a lark. We knew each other too well to take it too seriously.

But I have a confession to make. The first time Rick Reed asked me to collaborate with him, my fangirl heart went a little crazy.

I knew Rick professionally, of course. We’d met in person at EPICon and GRL, and he’d worked with me and Pepper on one of our books as an editor, but those were not my first exposures to him. My first exposure to Rick was through his work. Specifically, the novel Orientation. I bought it because I have a soft spot for reincarnation stories, but I finished it completely shattered and blown away. I immediately started buying up his other work and turned into a fangirl for a huge host of reasons, but the biggest was obvious from the start.

Rick is fearless about writing flawed men who actually feel like people I know in real life. That’s not always the case in a lot of romance. There’s an ideal that many heroes seem to conform to, and while Rick’s protagonists are heroes in their own right, he never shirks from letting their very human sides play prominent roles. How could I not turn into a fangirl?

Somehow, I think I managed to control my fangirl tendencies in our professional interactions—well, I hope I did anyway; Rick might have a different opinion and is too much of a gentleman to tell me—but then I received a fateful email from him. He had a question to ask me.

Did I want to collaborate on a story with him?

I read it through a few times, convinced I’d read it wrong, but the message never changed. A little voice inside me kept whispering, “Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod.” The bitchy naysayer that resides in the back corner of my brain—I try to keep her locked up, but she gets out a little too often for my own good—kept asking, “Why would he ask me to write with him?” Thankfully, my fingers have a mind of their own, and I typed back an appropriately enthusiastic “Of course!” before either of those other voices could send me down a very wrong path.

One of my best decisions ever.

I quickly discovered that Rick is as inspiring on the first draft side of the story as he is on the final copy, but better than that, he let me into his writing space where his wonderfully real men came to life. Our work ethics and habits are very similar, so the actual process was so painless we could concentrate on just telling the story. Amidst it all, though, the voices inside me merged. I was still a fangirl, but now I knew Rick on more of a personal level. Just like the characters we created, he became more real to me, too. He’s charming, intelligent, and generous of spirit, and I’m so lucky to be able to call him a friend as well as co-writer.

Stranded with Desire brings to life more of the flawed men we adore. Colby squashes his feelings for his boss for the greater good—setting aside his personal happiness in the process—while Maine lives in an all-too-familiar world where he’s been taught to believe appearances are everything and being gay just isn’t a viable option. Both make sacrifices, but it’s those sacrifices that root them in reality while still allowing them to find their way to getting the romance they deserve. We love them to pieces. We hope the readers will, too.

perf4.250x7.000.inddWhen their plane crashed, their desire took flight.

CEO Maine Braxton and his invaluable assistant, Colby, don’t realize they share a deep secret: they’re in love—with each other. That secret may have never come to light but for a terrifying plane crash in the Cascade Mountains that changes everything.

In a struggle for survival, the two men brave bears, storms, and a life-threatening flood to make it out of the wilderness alive. The proximity to death makes them realize the importance of love over propriety. Confessions emerge. Passions ignite. They escape the wilds renewed and openly in love.

When they return to civilization, though, forces are already plotting to snuff out their short-lived romance and ruin everything both have worked so hard to achieve.

About the Authors: Vivien Dean is a firm believer that love doesn’t care about gender. That’s why her titles encompass both GLBT and het, erotic and sweet, as well as a wide variety of genres. After growing up in the snowy and isolated Midwest, she went off in search of her creative muse. She performed on stage, wrote and directed indie films in Orlando, then met her British soulmate online. One wedding, two children, and ten addresses later, she resides in the Bay Area where it’s easy to indulge in her favorite pastimes—good theater, great movies, and amazing food.

Vivien is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner and collaborated with Pepper Espinoza to write as Jamie Craig for five years.

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Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

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