My Stories

I've been at this writing thing a long time-- I first began writing stories when I was about sixteen. My 10th-grade English teacher, Mr. Norman Haider, assigned us the task of rewriting A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, from the point of view of Finny, the second character.

I was inspired, and began writing short stories a while later. I took creative writing classes at the University of Pennsylvania, but nothing was published, even in the college literary magazine.

After I graduated from business school in 1983, I bought a Commodore 64 computer for its word-processing capabilities, and entered the computer generation. But still, nothing was worth publishing, though I was sending stuff out all the time. My best result was a story called "Trenton Makes," which was named one of the top 50 stories in a Redbook magazine fiction contest. It's a sweet story, never published anywhere, about a recent college graduate who meets a girl at his cousin's bar mitzvah.

Erotica

It wasn't until I began writing gay erotica that anything got published-- and back then, I was confused and/or in the closet, so I published under the name Dirk Strong. I couldn't really tell anyone they were my stories at first, but I did make $75.00 each, and they were fun to write. It was exciting to get something in print after trying for so long.

These are the stories from that period, though I don't have the exact publication dates for some:




  • "The Building Inspector," Honcho, June 1987
  • "The Cop Who Caught Me," Honcho, September 1987
  • Both these stories were inspired by my life in Albany-- working on the Pyramid Crossgates Mall construction site, and driving the Taconic Parkway back and forth to New York.

I actually sold a bunch of other stories at this time, but because of editorial changes at magazines they didn't get printed. I finally found a venue for two of them, a website called Gay Link Content, which licensed them to various gay sites.

I published three other newer stories there, too. The last two were inspired by my work at abc distributing, where I had to take a drug test in order to be hired, and where I worked in a big empty warehouse for a while.

Literary Fiction

Finally, I attended a writer's workshop at LIU-Southampton where I studied with Russell Banks, fresh from his success with Continental Drift. I had been living in Miami for a little under a year, and already South Florida had started to get under my skin. He assigned us a series of short exercises-- describe a person, describe a place, and so on. One of those was to think of a place your character would never go, and then think of a reason that would make him or her go there.

I wrote about this biker bar in Key Largo called The Caribbean Club, which allegedly had appeared in the Bogart & Bacall film To Have and Have Not. I kind of wanted to go there, because of the Hemingway connection, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. When I finally put all those exercises together, I ended up with a short story called "Angel Dust." I submitted it to a short story contest being run by South Florida magazine (now sadly defunct). I won!

At last, a story in a mainstream magazine! Of course, they edited the hell out of it,] without asking me, and even changed the name to "My Cousin's Keeper." And I don't think they even paid me. From then on, I started publishing short stories in magazine and anthologies. The stories from that period are:

  • "Holding On" in Vox, fall 1992 (an FIU student literary magazine)

  • "The Cat in the Bouquet" as "A Christmas Wedding" in The Cat Came Home For Christmas mini-mag, 1995

  • The Cat Who Went North - The Cat Who Loved Christmas mini-mag, 1994

  • "At The Diner" - In The Family magazine, Winter 2003
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