Mysteries


Short Stories


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.

All these stories have been anthologized and you can read more about them here.


Crime Fiction


Cozy Crime Stories
The original Happy Homicides. Contains my short story "Dog Forbid." Steve, Lili and Rochester journey to Amish country over Thanksgiving with Joey, Mark and Brody. The Valentine's Day edition of Happy Homicides, vol. 2. In my story, "For the Love of Dog," a young woman's body is found in the space next to Gail's cafe. Steve and Rochester return to the Happy Homicides fold with "Riding the Tiger," in which Rochester chases a cat and once again leads Steve into trouble.
litter 2020 200 All three of these stories are also included in my anthology, A Litter of Golden Mysteries. Five other original stories and one piece of flash fiction fill in the gaps between stories and provide quick crimes for Steve and Rochester, the heroes of my golden retriever mysteries, to solve.

Short Crime Fiction


I have two pieces of short crime fiction coming soon. One of them will be in the summer edition of Guns and Tacos a serial fiction from Down and Out Books, and the other has been accepted for anthology about swinging sixties private eyes. I'll post information here when they're available.  
"Stepping Stones" is a creepy story I wrote for the Bronzeville Bee, which now seems to be defunct. I hope I didn't have anthing to do with that by writing a reverse Lolita-- a young boy who is being groomed by his stepfather, with gruesome results. I hope to make it available somewhere.   bronzeville bee

My story, "Djinn and Tonic", which appears in the Malice Domestic anthology Murder Most Conventional, begins this way:

There was real magic in the world, and false magic, and it took a genie to tell the difference. That was the basis of Biff Andromeda’s private investigation business – using his skills to grant wishes and solve problems for customers.

The shrill ring of his cell phone woke him from a very pleasant dream involving his girlfriend Farishta and a Turkish carpet that flew in lazy circles around the dome of the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul.

He grabbed the phone from the bedside table and groggily said, “Hello?”

“Biff? It’s Yegor Kleyman. Sorry to call you so early but I’m in terrible trouble and I need your help.”

 murder conventional

"Southernmost Point" is an Angus Green story in Florida Happens, the Bouchercon anthology. It begins this way:

It started with a selfie, and the drag queen who photo-bombed my boyfriend Lester and me.

Lester represents single-batch whiskeys, based out of Fort Lauderdale, where we both live. His region extends all the way to Key West, and one weekend in January he had a couple of promotions set up at bars on Duval Street, in the center of the entertainment district. I had a couple of days’ vacation coming to me from the FBI, where I work as a Special Agent attached to the Violent Crimes Task Force, so I took them and went along for the ride.

 florida happens

"Public Relations" appears in the Great Filling Station Holdup anthology, a collection of crime fiction based on the songs of Jimmy Buffett. Mine comes from a song in the Broadway musical, Don't Stop the Carnival, and begins this way:

When Dick Jeffries was caught on camera barebacking a young male exotic dancer, I kicked into full damage control mode. It wasn’t just that he was a married man and a member of the WASP establishment—he was the CEO of a company that made and marketed condoms.

As soon as Dick notified me, I flew to New York from my home on St. Thomas and took an Uber to his penthouse apartment on Central Park West. It was a bitter cold January day, and by five o’clock the sun was already setting. Was that a metaphor for the end of Dick’s career, and perhaps even my own as his PR consultant? I sure as hell hoped not.

 filling station

Short Literary Fiction



My career writing literary fiction kicked off when 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:

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

  • "Japanese Time" at Verbsap. Well, this story isn't exactly new; I wrote the first draft of it over thirty years ago. I attended the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference three times-- in 1979, 1982, and 1992, though this story probably came out of my first or second trip there, hanging out around the piano in the barn. It took a long time before I really knew what to do with it. The editor at Verbsap was great at helping me figure out exactly how to make it work. 

  • "Rashomon at Green Park Tube Station" originally published at Subterraneans.com, a short-lived gay and lesbian literary website run by Angela Faith Brown. This is a very different type of story for me, very experimental in form. It takes its inspiration from the movie Rashomon, by Akira Kurosawa, in which the same event is described by different people who witness it.
 

sarasota scene

I began "What She Left" a long time ago, but only a few years ago did I find a place for it in Sarasota Scene magazine. It's about two brothers discovering the legacy left to them at a beachfront cottage.

  "The Angel Fenstermacher" is another story I wrote long ago, inspired by my travels around South Beach on Friday and Saturday evenings, when the streets were filled with Orthodox men in black hats and coats on their way to or from shul. I was lucky to get it included in an issue of Inspicio magazine.

Romantic Fiction


christmas shift 200 A few years ago, MLR Press was putting together a group of reindeer shifter stories for Christmas. Mine was called Christmas Shift, and it's about a young EMT who helps pull Santa's sled, and the rest of the year uses his skills to help patients in remote wilderness rescue operations. What happens, though, when his boyfriend asks him to come to Florida with him?
 cat who cover 200

My friend Caren Neile was editing mini-magazines for the Globe, a tabloid newspaper, and asked me to contribute a story for an edition focused on cats and romance. I ended up writing a second for a later edition. The cat in the stories, Pilar, was modeled after my friend Pam's Hemmie, a Hemingway cat with six toes, descended from dozens who roamed around Hemingway's house in Key West. Pilar is an Abyssinian, a breed with a lot of dog-like qualities, and it was fun to write these two stories about her.

  • "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

Eventually I collected these two stories, and three other literary short stories, into The Cat Who Got Married. One of my favorite stories, The Temple of Lights, is in that collection, inspired by my experiences landing at Philadelphia International Airport and seeing a glowing building in the distance. Another story, "A New Palace for Rajah," was a way to remember my friend Vicki Van Lieu's family cat, a very regal one with a glossy black coat.

Inspiration strikes at all different times. I clearly remember driving on I-95 north, passing through the city of Miami, when I heard a voice in my head that said "I lost my aunt at the grand opening of the new shopping center last Wednesday." And I knew immediately the speaker had a very simple voice, in which she'd express the meaning of "lost" in two ways. She and her aunt were separated in the crowd-- and then her aunt died, leaving Ima Jean to say that sentence. Ima Jean was such fun to write about that I wrote two stories about her as she finds her way in the world on her own, for the first time.

   

Are you a Parrothead? Love crime fiction? Then this 15-author Zoom event is just for you: Thursday March 11, 7:30 PM ET

https://broward-edu.zoom.us/j/99065613019

Click this link to register in advance (and get a confirmation and reminder), or to attend the event that night. No advance RSVP necessary.

I have been a Buffett fan since I first moved to Miami in 1986. I loved the way his music reflected the environment around me-- the sunshine and palm trees, the relaxed weekends, the mix of cultures, languages and musical  styles. I've seen him in concert numerous times, and have most of his CDs.The Great Filling Station Holdup is an anthology of crime fiction inspired by the songs of Jimmy Buffett. Sixteen noted authors of crime fiction chose one song per album to inspire them to create an all-new story.

I have read Tales from Margaritaville over and over, and even have his children's books. 

My favorite experience, perhaps, was seeing his musical, Don't Stop the Carnival, at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Based on a novel by Herman Wouk, he created a fabulous musical adventure. When I had the opportunity to choose a song, I went right for this album. The song that appealed to me was Public Relations, because it connects to the schmoozing I used to do when I worked in university alumni relations.

Each story takes its title from the song that inspired it. There's a double entrendre in the title of mine-- it's about a condom executive who's caught on camera having sex, and how his PR professional has to step in to save the day.

 holdup invitation

 An openly gay homicide detective explores the dark corners of sunny Hawai’i.

 What the critics have said about the Mahu Investigations:

“Plakcy keeps the waves of suspense crashing!” In LA Magazine
“Hits all the right notes as a mystery.” Mystery Book News
“Kimo brings needed diversity to the genre, and the author handles the island setting well.” Honolulu Star-Bulletin
“Spotless pace, intriguing plots twists, and an earnest depiction of challenges faced by people transitioning out of the closet.” Honolulu Advertiser
“Recommended to a wide audience.” Reviewing the Evidence

Read more: Mahu Investigations

 


MM Romance: The Lock-Keeper's Heart


 

Can two broken men heal each other?
lock keeper 300

In the aftermath of a failed love, Isaac Evans drops out of college and flees Philadelphia for a lock-keeper’s job on the Delaware Canal in rural Pennsylvania, where he pursues a life of Thoreau-driven solitude.

Prussian immigrant Lenert Tessmer trudges along the canal towpath in good and bad weather, hobbled by his dialect which prevents him from connecting with others. Then Lenert breaks his leg, and Isaac’s Quaker beliefs force him to offer a place where Lenert can recover.

Slowly, these two broken men find solace and healing in each other. But with railroads replacing the canal and narrow-minded outsiders who threaten their country idyll, Isaac and Lenert will have to face their deepest fears to develop a love that will endure.

Fans of MM historical romance will appreciate a fascinating time period, filled with unique details and a vibrant location, and a focus on the lives of working-class men in the 19th century who dare to love other men. This historical MM romance set in a small town in rural Pennsylvania in 1872 has a hurt/comfort theme.

Available for pre-order at Amazon.com. Publication date June 3, 2021.

Story: "Public Relations" in The Great Filling Station Holdup


 

When editor Josh Pachter invited me to submit a story for his anthology based on the songs of Jimmy Buffett, I was thrilled. I have been a Parrothead since I moved to Florida in the mid-1980s. It was a great challenge first, to choose a song, and then to write a piece of crime fiction that ws inspired by that song.

I chose "Public Relations" from Buffett's Broadway musical "Don't Stop the Carnival," based on a book by Herman Wouk. I loved the color, the characters and the atmosphere of the show, which I saw at the Coconut Grove Theater. It reflected so much of the South Florida I love-- and after all, Miami is the capital of the Caribbean.

If you know me at all, you know of my love for the double entendre-- and once I settled on this song I knew my story had to involve someone having sex in public. Very quickly I knew it was the ostensbily straight, married CEO of a manufacturer of condoms, caught barebacking on video. That's public relations for you!

It's also the kind of crisis that takes an experienced PR guru to manage, just like Norman Paperman, the star of the musical. Want to know how the real crime comes in, and how Norman saves the day? You'll have to read the story. You can pre-order the book until pub date on February 22, or order it whenever you're reading this. The best place to do so is from the publisher, Down and Out Books, though I'm sure it will be available through all the usual sources, including Amazon.
 parrot kindle cover

Can a lord and valet find love in Victorian England?


 

gentleman 200


 I'm a huge fan of British historical gay romance, like that written by K.J. Charles and Cat Sebastian, among others. So a year or more ago I decided to try my hand at one. Though many of those are earlier, I wanted to focus on the Victorian era—specifically December, 1877. I can’t say exactly why. But I read a lot of Victorian literature in college and graduate school, so I felt familiar with the era.

I began by with research on the common tropes. Inheritance is a big one, because many of the grand estates were entailed—they were often tied to a title, and the property could only be inherited by the holder of the title. Younger sons were left to find their own way in the world once their father died.

Class differences were also big, and the idea of an upstairs/downstairs romance was frowned upon. I set out to incorporate those tropes into an MM romance.

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 I began with Lord Magnus Dawson, the third son of a duke. His oldest brother will inherit, while the second son has been set up with a tea plantation in in Ceylon. Magnus’s father bought him a military commission, but when the Duke became ill, Magnus sold his commission to look after his dying dad. The book begins with the Duke’s death, and Magnus realizing he will soon be cut off and needs to find a way to make a living. 

One of the ways a young man could succeed back then was by education, and Toby Marsh’s father, a wealthy manufacturer, sends him to King’s College and then to Cambridge. Unfortunately, the senior Marsh dies before Toby can finish his degree, and he’s forced to serve as a valet slash tutor to his wealthy dissolute roommate.

When the book opens, he’s struggling to make a living as a freelance tutor in Cambridge. Then an unusual summons arrives, which will put him in close quarters with Magnus. Love blossoms between them—but can it survive against the stigmas of the Victorian era?

One of my beta readers wrote, “I was completely taken with Magnus and Toby and their personal back stories.”

I hope you will be, too!