Posts tagged “holiday

Thanks to Author Carey Parrish for His Lovely Review of GIFTS NOT YET GIVEN!

Gifts Cover Low Res (427x640)I so appreciate the lovely review of Gifts Not Yet Given at Sole Focus. Carey Parrish is a talented author (Marengo and Big Business) whose books I’ve enjoyed and I was delighted to read his review of my new book. In part, his review reads:

Very few writers can touch a reader’s heart but Kergan Edwards-Stout knows how to do just that. Gifts Not Yet Given easily jumped onto my top ten books read in the past year and it will remain a favored selection in my library. With so many writers competing in the literary world today, it takes a true author to rise above the pack, and Mr. Edwards-Stout is one of those few gifted storytellers.

His full review can be found here.  Thank you, Carey!


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!


Fri. Dec. 6th and Sat. Dec. 7th: Holiday Book Signing

ChotfHi everyone!  I’ll be at Church of the Foothills in Orange County, CA, signing books on Friday December 6th and Saturday December 7th, from 9AM to 3PM each day.  There will be lots of other gift items on sale, so come by and get your holiday shopping done in one swoop!

Church of the Foothills is a great, progressive Christian church located in Tustin Hills across Dodge Avenue from Foothill High School.  LGBT affirming with an active LGBT presence.  We’ve organized protest rallies against Prop 8 at the church and held the first legal church wedding in OC of LGBT couples, my dear friends Deb and Mary Kay.  Check out some of the pastor’s mind-blowing sermons, including a reinterpretation of the role of eunuchs in church history, and just what Jesus thought of them, on the church website linked above.  See you soon!

Church of the Foothills
19211 Dodge Avenue at Newport
Santa Ana, CA 92705


Rave Review of “Gifts Not Yet Given” from Edge on the Net

Edge on the NetI’m so thankful for the amazing review that Gifts Not Yet Given received from Edge on the Net, the world’s largest network for gay news and entertainment, by reviewer Christopher Verleger.

I am so appreciative to share the review with you!

“Author Kergan Edwards-Stout follows up his engrossing debut novel, “Songs for the New Depression,” which examines thirty years in the life of an AIDS-stricken California man, with the equally profound, “Gifts Not Yet Given,” a short story collection of compelling characters and circumstances ranging from the mundane to the maladjusted.

The events depicted in all fourteen stories occur on or around a specific day of celebration, including family gathering holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, such festive occasions as Halloween and Mardi Gras, Mother’s and Father’s Day, as well as the obligatory wedding and office party. With a holiday or special occasion as the backdrop for each entry, emotions run especially high throughout and the behavior of the represented individuals is contrary to the everyday.

One of the strongest and more uplifting stories, “Hearts,” describes the unbreakable friendship between Karyn, an insecure teen, and her gay best friend, Kevin, who accompany each other to a high school Valentine’s Day dance. The equally heartwarming “The Fourth Christmas” introduces Andrew and David, a couple celebrating their fourth anniversary despite the opposition of Andrew’s conservative mother, Natalie.

Conservatism and religion appear prominently in several stories, including “The Old Rugged Cross,” a heartbreaking, albeit somewhat affirming, tale of a mother, Cassandra, who begins to question her faith and purpose in life after her firefighter husband and son perish in the line of duty. Evelyn, the stubborn, bible-thumping protagonist in the grim “Mother’s Day,” believes having three estranged sons is just another example of God’s will. Thom, Evelyn’s youngest son, makes a surprising, conciliatory appearance in the sequel, “Father’s Day.”

My personal favorite, “Glenbourne, IL” tells the moving story of a cancer survivor revisiting his past during a Thanksgiving visit to his childhood home.

Although select stories are arguably too brief, all never fail to pack an emotional punch, and the collection, as a whole, is chock full of joyous albeit occasionally awkward instances and imagery (divorce, a sacred family recipe, an Easter bunny outfit) that are relatable, or at least familiar to everyone. With the holiday season approaching, “Gifts Not Yet Given” reminds readers, however flawed, to accept, appreciate and when warranted, forgive our families and friends.”

Thank you, Edge on the Net!!!

 


Are you on LibraryThing? Enter to Win!

imagesAre you on Library Thing’s Early Reviewer list? My new book Gifts Not Yet Given is on October’s list! They’re giving away 25 author-signed copies of the book, so hurry and enter!

And even if you don’t win, if you love books, it’s a great program. Sign up for it, and you enter the contests for books you want.  If you win, you simply put your review of the book (good or bad) up online for all to see!  It’s a great free way to read, and for authors it is a great way to get the word out about our books!


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


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!


Advance Praise from Two-Time Ferro-Grumley Fiction Award Winner Trebor Healey

Trebor HealeyOkay, I’m pulling out all the stops on this! I just got a lovely note from Trebor Healey, whose A Horse Named Sorrow was awarded the 2013 Ferro-Grumley Fiction Award, which he’d won previously for his Through It Came Bright Colors.  At the recent Lambda Literary Awards ceremony, Trebor was also awarded the 2013 Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize.

As the Ferro-Grumley is basically the Holy Grail of gay fiction writers and given that Trebor is so tremendously talented, I was thrilled when he read my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, and gave me the following quote to use:

“The stories in Gifts Not Yet Given are vital, essential and remind us that much of human life is gained or lost through family. Edwards-Stout shines a light on contemporary life with skill and wit. A dynamic and engaging read.” – Trebor Healey, A Horse Named Sorrow and Through It Came Bright Colors.

Can’t wait to share this book with the world!  It’s up for a giveaway on Goodreads until October 14th!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Gifts Not Yet Given by Kergan Edwards-Stout

Gifts Not Yet Given

by Kergan Edwards-Stout

Giveaway ends October 15, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 


Thanks to the Old Town Orange Plaza Review!

Orange Plaza ReviewI really appreciated the opportunity to be interviewed and photographed by the nice folks at Old Town Orange Plaza Review about my new book, Gifts Not Yet Given, as well as my debut, Songs for the New Depression. It’s a fun local paper spotlighting those in our area, and it was great to have them include me!

Advance, author-signed copies of Gifts Not Yet Given will be available exclusively at Eikon Home & Gift in Orange starting September 10th. It’s a great shop filled with interesting objects for the home, and they’ll also be hosting a book signing in November, so stay tuned for details!


Cover Art for “Gifts Not Yet Given”

As you may know, I have a new book coming out this fall.  It’s a collection of short stories, all revolving around holidays, in which characters experience moments where their lives are altered, ever so slightly.  Some tales are bittersweet, some funny, and some heartwarming, and I look forward to sharing them with you soon.

In the meantime, here’s a peek at the cover art my handsome husband, Russ Noe, created for the book.  I’m one lucky guy!

Gifts Cover


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!