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Love Is Proud

Genre: LGBT Romance Anthology
Length: Anthology (352 pages / 138k words)
Age Range: 16 and up

Publisher & ISBN
JMS Books LLC / ebook 9781634862080
JMS Books LLC / print 9781534909052

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In the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016, a gunman entered Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and opened fire. Forty-nine innocent people lost their lives that night, and many more were injured. The LGBT community reeled when the news broke, not only because it was the deadliest mass shooting in the US to date, but because the act of terror and hatred was aimed directly at them.

In the aftermath, many of us struggled for a way to express our grief and fear. With that goal in mind, the authors of JMS Books sought an outlet for their emotions; thus, this anthology of short stories and poems was created.

Love Is Proud celebrates queer love in all its forms, showing that love must triumph over hate. Whether it's spending a quiet evening together at home, a night out on the town, or attending the local Pride event, this collection embraces how empowering love can be between men -- or women, or any and every shade under the LGBTQIA umbrella.

Featuring never before published work from 49 different authors, Love Is Proud is a collaborative effort whose entire proceeds will go to Equality Florida to benefit the victims and their families of the Pulse nightclub shooting. All the work in the collection, including the editing, has been donated to offset the costs. This stunning anthology will be a charitable keepsake whose message of pride in who and how we love is an enduring testament to all those affected by this tragedy.

NOTE: Some stories in this anthology contain adult content. My short story in the anthology is entitled "Go with the Flow," which is not available anywhere else.

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EXCERPT FROM Go with the Flow:
"What do you think?" my best friend Mike asks, nodding at someone in the magazine section of the bookstore. "He, she, or it? Tight jeans, skinny legs, nice ass --"

"So female?" I ask.

Mike's an ass man, he's told me as much. Being on the football team means he's dating a cheerleader, of course, and baby's got back, if you know what I mean.

His brow furrows. "I don't know. Some guys have bubble butts. This isn't a Kardashian thing but there's padding there, for sure. Hair's super short, though. Iron Man T-shirt. No boobs."

"So male." Now I'm curious in spite of myself. I lean over the counter on the pretense of wiping an imaginary spot in front of Mike, but I still can't see anything. Damn it. "Maybe it's half and half."

Mike glares at me. "There's no such thing."

Sometimes I forget how much smarter I am than he is. "Hermaphrodites. Look it up."

Grabbing my shirt, he tugs at it like he's going to pull me over the top of the counter. "Just come over here and take a look."

I step back and shrug my shirt down. "Fine, damn. Don't get your panties in a bunch. It's probably a guy."

"I don't know," Mike growls. "That's the thing. It's killing me!"

"You said no boobs."

Mike shakes his head. "That doesn't mean anything. Ever seen an A cup? That's practically nothing."

I give him an odd look. "Hello? I'm gay, remember?"

"You've seen boobs, though. Don't act like you haven't." Mike reaches for his drink, then curls his fingers into a fist before they reach the mug. "You coming out to see this or what?"

I trail the rag across the counter as I step around it, taking my time to straighten the travel mugs for sale, the candy bars, the display of bagged coffee. When I get to where Mike is, I glance over at the magazines. "I don't see anyone. Where --"

"There." He shoves me around him and points, points, like a stupid little kid.

I want to slap his hand down. What if the person looks over here and sees him? Lowering my voice, I cry, "Mike!"

"What?" He points again. "See? There, there!"

When I look again, I see someone around our age in front of the magazine rack. From the back, I'd say male, no question -- sure, he has a round ass (quite a nice one, Mike's right about that) and his jeans are tighter than most guys wear, but he's tall and lanky and has no curves to speak of, no hips or softness about him, nothing feminine. Add in the comic book T-shirt and the haircut, which isn't just a short girls' cut but a classic taper, long on top and clipped close on the sides and back. Hell, his nape is shaved. There's no doubt about it.

"Guy," I announce.

Mike squints at him. "You sure? That butt, I'm telling you. I'd hit that."

I give him a sideways look. "You'd hit just about anything. You hit on me once, remember?"

"Hey, I was drunk." When I turn to head back around the counter, Mike grabs my arm. "Look, look! Still think that's a guy?"

I glance over my shoulder. The guy by the magazines must've finally overheard Mike; he looks over our way at the same time. From the front, I can't be sure -- there's nothing distinctly male or female about the face, nothing to tell me definitively whether or not it's a guy.

What I do know is I've never seen anyone prettier in my entire life. Large, almond-shaped eyes the color of cloudy skies. Long lashes, heavy eyelids, a "come hither" look that makes me take a step towards the magazines before I feel Mike's hand on my arm holding me back. Smooth skin with a smattering of freckles across both cheeks. Mouth a little too wide, lips a little too red, nose a little too pert. Short cropped hair carelessly tossed to one side of a furrowed brow.

Boy or girl, I don't care. I'm in love.