Posts tagged “christmas

GIFTS NOT YET GIVEN Lands on a “Best Books of the Year” List!

Gifts Not Yet GivenHow could my day possibly get any better??? Well, by finding out that my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, made a “Best LGBTQ Books of the Year” list! WOO HOO!

“Edwards-Stout writes beautifully, and the stories are charming and uplifting.”

Thank you, Queer Books with Julie!


This Holiday, Share Your Gay Gifts with the World

Like many other LGBT people, I grew up thinking that I was all alone in the world. I knew of no other gay folks, either in or out of the closet, and this absence of role models likely contributed to my then sense of solitude. It didn’t help that within my own dysfunctional family, I had secrets to keep about who I was, which created a wall between me and them. In those pre-internet days, I would scour every book and newspaper in hopes of finding the slightest reference that someone else might be gay like me.

At Christmas time, I have fond memories of watching The King Family TV holiday specials in the 1960s and 70s, where a large family of varied talents would gather together in a faux-living room to sing and spread holiday cheer. There was something so nurturing about the bonds the family seemed to share, which gave me not only comfort, but an idea of what family could actually be. Still, while I wanted to be a part of that family–to be loved and valued as one of its own–I didn’t see myself reflected in the faces staring back. Would it have made a difference to have known that one of the King Family was actually gay?

King Family member Cam Clarke was then only a child himself, but would go on to be a sought after voice-over artist and out gay man later in life. Indeed, as we celebrate the holiday season, it is difficult to separate the season from the LGBT individuals who helped contribute to it through their creations of song and craft.

You can’t get through the holidays without catching a refrain from one of renowned vocalist Johnny Mathis‘ countless Christmas classics, yet how many will know that Mathis is an out gay man? Think of the dazzling (if over-priced) ornaments created by famed designer Christopher Radko, also a gay man. Indeed, in towns all across America, audiences will flock to see ballet performances of The Nutcracker, unaware that its composer, Tchaikovsky, was gay. Writers as distinctive as Truman Capote and David Sedaris have shared Christmas memories through their books. Victorian poet Christina Georgina Rossetti’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “Love Came Down at Christmas” were both turned into popular Christmas carols, but most people do not know that her brother later burned the love poems that she’d written to women. Even as we shop through the malls, buying gifts for one another as Wham!’s “Last Christmas” plays in the background, most are likely not aware that the founders of Stonewall Kitchen, makers of tasty gourmet food items, are gay, or that Tim Cook, president of the ever-popular Apple company, creators of iTunes, iPads, and iPhones, is also gay.

Yet how much more powerful would it be if LGBT people proudly claimed our history, calling it out, and coming out ourselves in the process? We each have certain gifts to contribute to the world, both large and small, but key to giving is to give authentically, as out and proud LGBT men and women.

The most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa, was painted by a gay man, Leonardo da Vinci. The Sistine Chapel ceiling was conceived and crafted by another, Michelangelo. One of history’s most successful commanders, Alexander the Great, was gay. Gertrude Stein, of “a rose is a rose is a rose” fame, was lesbian, as are tennis greats Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. One of the most popular plays in America, the quintessential Our Town, was written by a gay man, Thornton Wilder, and one has to wonder how being gay shaped his views on small town life.

In my new fiction collection, Gifts Not Yet Given, the characters (particularly those who are LGBT) are each facing a moment in which their choices and actions will define them, for better or for worse. It is that way for each of us; the way in which we choose to operate in the world makes a difference. Do you have a moment to spare to help someone in need? Do you have stories which might assist others lead better lives? Are you living your life in truth and sharing your gifts with others? What do you have to contribute to society?

Regardless of what your gift is, the more important aspect is that you be honest in sharing it. Tell people who you are, as LGBT individuals, and show them that your contributions to the world matter. Without us, there would be no “Send in the Clowns,” “Come to My Window,” or Glee.

This New Years, revelers will celebrate the passing of one year and the dawn of another, and as they do, they may be listening to a popular song being sung by one of the top music superstars of his day. And while many may infer that he is gay, as the singer has yet to come out publicly, his is one gift that we can’t yet count.

Tell your story. Live authentically. And make the Yuletide gay…

Kergan Edwards-Stout’s new collection of holiday-themed short stories, Gifts Not Yet Given, was recently named a “Perfect book to give everyone this holiday season” by the nationally syndicated column, The Bookworm Sez. It is available now in paperback and e-book at Indie Bound (Independent Book Stores), Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or at your favorite book sellers.


Out in Print: Great Review of GIFTS NOT YET GIVEN

I’m very grateful for the wonderful review of my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, by Out in Print (which was a champion of my first book, Songs for the New Depression, naming it one of 2012’s best books.)

“He’s at his best when he’s sharp and cutting, riding the edge to undercut the sweetness or the sadness, depending on how its played. That’s a combination that really works for him, and he manages to hit it more often than not.

He hits it hard in the opener, “The Nutcracker,” a biting piece about corporate ball-buster Sheila, whose mask of invulnerability drops when she receives the titular souvenir as a gag gift at the office Christmas party. The story is witty, observant, and altogether successful in its portrayal of office manners as well as career goals, and even though Sheila is easy to hate, she becomes a sympathetic figure by the end. This is the kind of story Edwards-Stout tells very, very well…

Not all of these stories are about gay men or women, but don’t let that stop you from picking up this fine volume of well-written pieces, most of which are powerful and emotional without the taint of cheap sentimentality that the holidays usually induce.”

Gifts Not Yet Given is available now in paperback and e-book at Indie Bound (Independent Book Stores), Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or at your favorite book sellers!


The Bookworm Sez: “The Perfect Book to Give This Holiday Season”

Gifts Not Yet GivenThanks so much to Terri Schlichenmeyer who includes Gifts Not Yet Given in her nationally syndicated column, The Bookworm Sez, on her list of “The Perfect Books to Give Everyone This Holiday Season.”  She notes:

For the person on your list who loves the holidays — all holidays — wrap up “Gifts Not Yet Given and Other Tales of the Holidays” by Kergan Edwards-Stout. It’s a collection of short stories about the holidays we hold dear and the ways we keep them.

I also got a very sweet note today from a reader who just finished reading Gifts Not Yet Given and wanted an autographed copy to send her mother:

I just finished your book… And I loved it.  Imaginative stories that touched and uplifted the heart… Well-crafted  and colorful characters with rich inner lives.  What a wonderful writer you are!

I’m happy to send autographed copies of the book to those interested. Heck, if you want to send to someone as a gift, I’m happy to gift-wrap it and include a note from you as well! Just send me an email and we can coordinate payment and shipping.  Happy holidays!


Thanks to the Great Midwest Book Festival!

Great Midwest Book FestivalI so appreciate Gifts Not Yet Given as being included in the honorable mentions in the fiction category of the Great Midwest Book Festival! Gifts is a collection of 14 tales, themed to holidays as varied as the Fourth of July and Christmas, which I hope you all enjoy. It’s the perfect book for this holiday season — to gift or read!


My New Book is Available NOW!

For anyone interested in my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, I’m happy to announce that it is available now in paperback and e-book. Click the link for the reviews and quotes thus far–I’m very thrilled!

Gifts Not Yet GivenIf you’re looking for a holiday read or gift, I hope you consider this!  It’s a mix of short stories, with a variety of characters–young/old, gay/straight, people of varying ethnicities and faiths–all united by their shared humanity.  Each of the characters is facing a choice of how to best move forward in life, and celebrates our commonalities.  I like to think of it as a gift that can expand hearts and open minds! 🙂

Order now at Indie Bound (Independent Book Stores), Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or at your favorite book sellers!

For those in the Orange County, CA, area, join us at the book launch party at Eikon Home & Gift on Friday November 15th, 6-8PM.  Facebook event details are here.  Stop by and say “hi,” share a glass of wine, or buy a book and peruse the wonderful items in the shop.  I look forward to seeing you!


Provincetown Magazine: Excerpt from “Gifts Not Yet Given”

For those in P-town this week, pick up the October 10, 2013, issue of Provincetown Magazine, which features an excerpt from one of the stories in Gifts Not Yet Given, “The Cape.” The tale takes place on Christmas in Provincetown, as a Boston native flees his city for solace in his seaside bungalow. It is one of my favorite stories in the book, and I’m appreciative to them for sharing it with their readers!

Provincetown Magazine Cover Cape Gifts Photo


Thanks, Gregory G. Allen, for interviewing me for Huffington Post!

Gregory G. AllenIt was great catching up with pal, author Gregory G. Allen, who interviewed me on my new book at The Huffington Post!  Greg is one of those rare multi-hyphenates–he writes, he acts, he directs–and does them all well.  As he is in the process of adapting Missing, by Drake Braxton, as a screenplay for a feature film, I am grateful he was able to take the time to chat.  Thanks, HuffPo, for sharing it!

Here are a few of his questions, but head over to Huffington Post for the full exchange!

Allen: What’s your favorite story in the book?

Edwards-Stout: It’s hard to choose, but I feel very connected to the title story, “Gifts Not Yet Given,” which is the last story in the book.

Allen: Why is that your favorite?

Edwards-Stout: I think it’s because, as a writer, I’m still surprised that those pages were written by me.

Allen: How so?

Edwards-Stout: Well, in this case, the title came to me before the story did. I was looking at the stories I’d written thus far, contemplating names for the collection, and this title just popped into my head. I knew that I needed a complementary story for it, and once I started writing, the story materialized very quickly. It’s about a woman struggling to deal with issues around her daughter, and I find it particularly touching. I still can’t believe it came out of me!

Photo credit of Gregory G. Allen: Tom Schopper


Robert Michael Morris on “Gifts Not Yet Given”

The ComebackRuss and I were first introduced to Robert Michael Morris, like most of America, through the hysterical (and too-short-lived) series, The Comeback.  On it, he played Mickey, Lisa Kudrow’s hairstylist, and he delivered lines and wonderful reactions like nobody’s business!

What most people don’t realize is that, in addition to being a sought-after actor, he is also an accomplished author and playwright.

He read my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, and gave me a lovely quote:

“Kergan Edwards-Stout’s new book, a collection of thematic short stories, is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are going to get. And that is delicious. The short story form is a delicate blend of trenchant dialogue, brisk character sketches and local color, and here they are all totally satisfying. What I love about short stories is that I always want a bit more, a tidier resolution, and I am a sucker for a happy ending. Mr. Edwards-Stout has mastered this form, titillating, plucking the heart strings and most often causing a smile of recognition. Some stories already portend a lengthier treatment, a novella perhaps. He touches our common humanity and amazes with his insight. The little collection is a Gift Already Given: a gift of delight and sweet humanity.” – Robert Michael Morris, actor – The Comeback, Running Wilde, and author – An American Scrapbook


First Review: “Gifts Not Yet Given”

Gifts Not Yet GivenMy sincere thanks to veteran reviewer Amos Lassen, who has been a wonderful supporter of the arts–particularly LGBT-related work–for his very kind review of my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given. He’d reviewed Songs for the New Depression and had liked it, but I was blown away, and so humbled to read in his new review, that Songs was “one of the highlights of my literary life.”  WOW.  He goes on to write:

“Kergan Edwards-Stout impressed me greatly with his first book, Songs for the New Depression and he gave himself quite a task for measuring his work that was yet to come. I am glad to say that this book not only lives up to my expectations, it surpasses them… What I found to be so amazing in this book is that the author’s personal stories became my personal stories as well and to me this attests to the universality of man. It is almost as if he wrote some of these stories directly to me. I knew from the moment that I read the preface that I would be in for a special treat reading these stories but I did not know that they would affect me the way that they did. To me, a sign of good, or even great, literature is when the writing speaks to you. This is what Edwards-Stout is so good at. He not only writes each story as if he is writing just to you, he has each story pull you into it. You are not just a reader—you are also a participant. Several times I had to stop reading to make sure that I was indeed reading something written on a page and not being acted out before my eyes.

There is something else this writer does that is stunning—he is able to mix love and compassion with anger and rage and he has us laughing and crying in the same story and sometimes in the same sentence. He writes of love in a way that is self-defining and makes you never again question what it is.”

Mr. Lassen goes on to write a generous review of Gifts Not Yet Given, which you can read in full here.  My heart is full.  Thank you!


“Gifts Not Yet Given” – Book Trailer

I’m very pleased with the book trailer for my new collection, Gifts Not Yet Given, coming soon. It is hard to capture, in less than one minute’s time, the nuanced stories within, as well as the magical depths and surprises, but I think this gives a hint of the book to come. Enjoy!


Favorite Holiday Album This Year

If you follow my posts or have read my novel, you already know that I’m a Christmas fanatic. In our house, we typically put up three trees, have a gigantic nutcracker collection, and at one point had a holiday CD collection totaling over 200, which is kind of crazy, considering that you really only hear the same 26 songs over and over.  While I’ve thinned out the collection dramatically, each season I still hunt for new and interesting additions.

Winter WonderlandThe problem, thought, is that while everyone and their brother cranks out holiday CDs, rarely are they done right.  Typically the arrangements are too pop or generic, or the artist tries too hard to create something different that it entirely misses the mark.  To capture the warmth of the season, you must create the proper mood and tone, which is trickier than it sounds.

Being a fan of Patsy Cline, I was floored when I first heard Mandy Barnett sing.  Barnett effortlessly captures the essence of Cline, and it’s no wonder: she played Cline onstage in a tribute play, worked with Cline’s own producers, and uses many musicians from “the good old days” in crafting her music today.  I’d been a fan for some time, but just stumbled onto her 2010 holiday CD, Winter Wonderland, which is really wonderful.

She manages to capture the sounds of the classic tunes of yesterday (think folks like Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Patti Page), but in a way which doesn’t feel dated.  She sings flawlessly, bringing a timeless quality to all of the tunes you know and love.  No surprises here, but that, in the end, is a good thing.  Happy holidays!