Category Archives: Kept

KEPT wins Reader Views Literary Award

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Hey blog readers and book readers! I’m thrilled to announce that my novel KEPT has won First Place in the 2016 Reader Views Literary Awards, for the Gay/Lesbian/Erotica category.

Here’s a link to the list. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up. It’s quite the chore to be the one-stop shop for all in the world of self-publishing, and I have great respect for all who entered into the award contest, too. OK, now back to writing the sequel to Benediction.

KEPT, by Jim Arnold

KEPT: Two Truths and a Lie

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Herewith: Of the following statements, two are true and one is false.

To figure out which is which, you’ll have to read the book. (or just send me a message and I’ll respond!)

Nancy Argento is an second-rate reporter from Cleveland trying desperately to redeem herself with a new job in Palm Springs.

Jacy Martin is part of the rich family that owns the Native American casino in Palm Springs.

In a fit of absolute and horrid rage, studly contractor Connor Hurst strangles former TV star Carol Blair Rosen.

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Why KEPT? The Inspiration and the Notes. . .

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I had the pleasure of re-watching the 1946 version of “The Postman Always Rings Twice” again last night. This wonderful example of early post-war film noir stars the luminous Lana Turner (how does one get that silky platinum hair?)  and the quite studly John Garfield, (as well as Hume Cronyn, Cecil Kellaway and Leon Ames in supporting roles) in the James Cain story.

postman-always-rings-twice-3

The Postman Always Rings Twice

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like in his “Double Indemnity,” this story involves getting rid of an inconvenient third wheel who happens to have some money. These two stories, as well as Cain’s fabulous “Mildred Pierce,” are all basically about greed and our susceptibility to letting it drive our actions. This is usually at the hands of someone who uses sex as a convincing argument, if you have or had any scruples to begin with. Traditionally, this role was played by a woman, who became known as the femme fatale.

So these Cain movies/books and the additional “After Dark, My Sweet” – a similar type of noir story, set in the SoCal desert of around 1990 and from a book by Jim Thompson, are the inspiration for the screenplay I wrote of “Kept,” which I turned into this novel.

Having spent so much time in Palm Springs myself, I wanted to set a crime story there. Also, I wanted to remake the femme fatale role into an homme fatale, and make male-male gay attraction the driving force behind the greed this time around.

I’d often felt that the Palm Springs area was a crucible – where people from many backgrounds mixed. You had your gays, your old white Republican retirees, retired movie stars, Mexican immigrants, Marines from 29 Palms, the Native American Tribes, tourists from all over, real estate speculators, and everyone else as well. I thought there’d be lots of stories and potential for dramatic conflict in them.

And there is! It’s all in KEPT.

KEPT: The story of the cover art

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When you self-publish a book, one of the crucial decisions you make is approving the cover art and design. For most writers, this is counterintuitive, as our strengths generally (at least we hope) lie in the realms of words and storytelling, not so much in imagery.

Which makes this process even more nerve wracking.

Because – there’s this thing out there called the Internet now. Where everybody goes for books. And usually they’re bombarded with a screenful of pixellated book covers, all of them vying for the opportunity to catch the browser’s eye. Decisions are made on the basis of interest in the cover. There’s no table full of books to flip through. There’s no physical shelf showing all the new books in the genre. It’s a much bigger and confusing landscape and of course, it’s all virtual.

And what is it that catches the browser’s eye? Color, for one thing. Red is more eye-catchy, than say, brown or yellow. Hello stop signs! Also strong graphics, I think, especially considering small screens.

And of course, naked men, for this genre, which is a gay mystery/suspense/thriller. The one action the cover is designed to elicit is a click further – basically that’s it, stop and find out some more.

So I did have an image in mind, which I gave to the cover designer at that point — it’s this:

2365800428_0cc260e6a8 I found it on the internet, on Flickr. I didn’t take the photo and I don’t know who the subject is. But I do know it’s an image of the desert near Palm Springs, and also has a hot looking half-naked guy who looks vaguely Latin as the subject.

One of the main characters in KEPT, if not the main character, is a guy named Jorge who anglicizes his name to George. This would be my cover image.

The cover designer at CreateSpace (the company Eureka Street Press uses for actual book and ebook publication) came up with this image based on the idea of a man in the desert:

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So, a different desert (it looks more like Joshua Tree to me, and well, it’s close enough) and a different man, obviously, someone from their bank of usable images. Yeah, he’s got better abs, too, that never hurts, right?

Simple typography for a very simple title, and my name as the author. I think it sticks out on a page full of busier titles (though I was unable to get much red in this image). What do you think?

KEPT Character Biography: Andreas Alvarado

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Another in the series of character bios for my novel KEPT. Here we have Andreas Alvarado, the corpulent and criminal manager of the tribal casino in Palm Springs (Montana Grande).

Who inspired me for this, who was I thinking of or who did I have in my mind’s eye while writing? James Gandolfini, Joe Mantegna, they come close. If they were Native American and lived in Palm Springs and were devious and bossy.

James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini

Joe Mantegna

Joe Mantegna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex, Age, Ht. and weight: Male, 45, 5-9, 200+ lbs.

Black/gray hair and black eyes.

Posture: good, pot belly though.

Appearance: dresses very nicely in the tribal executive style.

Has no visible deformities other than that he’s heavy.

Heredity: prone to alcoholism, high blood pressure. This means he could have a heart attack at any moment.

Social:

He was lower middle class, now with the tribal casinos, he’s upper class in income.

Occupation: he’s the tribal manager of the casino. He’s the big boss. He knows the governor!

Education: he’s a college graduate, a local college (San Bernardino) liberal arts marketing degree. His favorite subject was California History. He also did well in math, surprisingly. Good for counting money.

Home life: his aged mother is still alive, she’s revered in the tribe. The parents were also tribal leaders. His father is the person they named Andreas Road after in Palm Springs. Andreas himself is divorced and has 3 grown children. Two of the girls work at the casino, and the boy is away at Stanford. He’s so proud of his boy. (which is just another reason Jacy Martin hates him).

Religion: Roman Catholic with some of the tribal beliefs thrown in.

Community: He’s head of the tribal council. Also a member of many local civic organizations that have nothing to do with the tribe.

He is a Democrat, but has a lot of successful dealings with Republican congressmen and the former governor, etc.

Amusements: he’s very much a businessman, so he reads those kinds of magazines. He likes going to the movies. He’s odd that way, an independent film fan, who goes to arthouses. He also has a girlfriend (on the sly) who lives in Joshua Tree. She is an artist, a white woman. She makes jewelry, and he wears a lot of it.

Psych: He’s straight.

Premise, ambition: The face he shows to the public is very much a straight shooter, believes in doing what’s best for the tribe. Wants to build up the tribal holdings in Palm Springs to be very lucrative for the tribe — and himself. Works well with the white folks in town.

Frustrations, disappointments: Andreas is one of those people who are actually quite contented at his successes, legitimate and otherwise. He’s a little arrogant because of that. It’s only when Jacy starts trying to fuck him up that he has to go on the defensive.

Temperament: generally optimistic

Attitude: very militant. He gives orders, he is in charge.

Complexes: Superstitions. Andreas has a whole complement of superstition from the tribe. Gods on the mountain, of the desert plain, etc etc. He really believes in this stuff, as opposed to Jacy, who knows it’s bunk.

He’s an ambivert.

Abilities: Very good at math. He, unlike Jacy, does speak Spanish. And French. And Italian, and German. Even Swedish (for those Scandinavian tourists)!

Qualities: he has a really good business sense (as in new opportunities) and a low tolerance for bullshit. He can smell it a mile away. Distrustful of Jacy, as he should be.

IQ: High

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Kept Character Biography: Jimbo McLaughlin

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The Marine — the Marine in the closet. Until he’s not in the closet any more. I was thinking more in the realms of all the blond boys who do porn as gay for pay — as guides to envision the twins Timbo and Jimbo. I did two separate bios for them, only including Jimbo’s here as he’s more of a character in the actual book.

You get the idea.

You get the idea.

You get the idea.

You get the idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimbo McLaughlin

Jimbo – Marine
Sex: Male, Age 23. IDENTICAL TWIN OF TIMBO McLaughlin
Blond Hair, Green Eyes, Tan, Muscular.
5-10, 170.
Posture: Military
Good-looking, almost mean looking, a sneer.
Class: lower class, educated in military to be something more.

Occupation: truck driver in the Marines, stationed Twentynine Palms. Did a tour of Afghanistan already.The TWINS DRIVE A JEEP that they co-own.
Education: High school and marine schooling.
Home life: They are from Texas. Their parents are still there, in Fort Worth. They have 2 older sisters, both married with kids, both in Texas. Their parents are conservative, Republicans.
Religion: Southern Baptist upbringing. Jimbo is less religious than Timbo.
Race: Blindingly white.
Politics: Timbo is almost reactionary right wing. Jimbo doesn’t really know, can be swayed either way.
Amusements: They like to get drunk, pick up girls. They don’t read. They do watch TV sometimes. Both much more interested in criminal activity. Although Timbo is more violent.

Sex: Says he’s straight. Jimbo is really gay, hides this from Timbo, from everyone.
Personal premise: It’s “I ‘m gonna get mine and fuck you in the process.”
Too young to have ever been disappointed. He’s terrified that Timbo will find out he’s really gay.
Temperament: highly volatile, not someone you’d want to cross.
Attitude: he’s always right, you’re definitely wrong, and, you’re an asshole.
Complex: Mistrustful of anyone not white. Very prejudiced, that’s why his attraction to George is so hard for him to understand.
Ambivert – he’s more outgoing than Timbo.
Abilities: lies well. Speaks a few words/phrases of Pashto.
Qualities: Can sense pros/cons of any situation very quickly.
IQ: Exactly the same as Timbo, higher than it would appear by their gruff presentation.

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“Kept” Character Biography: Vi Gamble

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Here’s another in the process of the writer’s preparation of character biography – here, Violet Gamble (Vi) of “Kept,” one of the more fun characters to play with.

Out of all the characters in the book, this one morphed probably more than the rest. I had originally envisioned her as a small-time meth dealer, but as I wrote the screenplay of KEPT (which preceded the novel) the phenomenon of “Breaking Bad” happened, and I didn’t want to have similarities to the TV show’s story, so I made her an unsuccessful dealer of pills ‘n pot.

Who was inspiration? Originally, it was characters like a rough Linda Hamilton, as well as the actress who played Danielle Rousseau in “Lost” (Mira Furlan) and Katharine Ross (at least her look) in any recent movie or TV appearance (so I guess sexy, long haired, truthfully-aged beautiful actresses not afraid to show who they are).

Linda Hamilton

Linda Hamilton

Mira Fulman

Mira Fulman

Katharine Ross

Katharine Ross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violet Gamble – Drug dealer. Incestuous. Who do I see as inspiration: Danielle Rousseau (Mira Furlan), from LOST. Katherine Ross. Linda Hamilton. She drives a pickup truck. Old, dinged. An F150. 1995.

Sex, Age, Ht/Weight: Female, 50, 5-6, 125

Hair: RED, dyed redder than it would ever be.. Blue eyes. Nice skin, very tan, a little leathery — she lives in the desert.

Posture: good, not fantastic

Appearance: she looks like she’s been in the sun too long. She is very tan, very red but does not look like she belongs shopping on El Paseo.

Defects: She’s had a bad nose job. She has psoriasis. She’s malnourished, cause of the meth and other drugs, so she has a few bad teeth and she has bad breath. But ironically, she still can get guys.

Heredity: nothing comes to mind – the worse thing is her name, Okie background in the 1930s.

Sociological:

“White trash with illusions” background.

She’s a drug dealer and a meth lab operator. She’s worked in the underground cash economy basically forever, from prostituting to being a con-woman to dealing drugs, that is the only thing she understands. The rest of the world’s conventions are unknown. She keeps cash in places like shoeboxes, safety deposit boxes, etc.

Education: she got a high school diploma. Lot of good that did! She’s a veteran of the military, was there for a couple of years so she knows her way around the soldiers a bit, (helpful near 29 Palms!) speaks their language. She’s retired from the Navy.

Home Life: her parents are dead. They died young, they had such hard lives. But they weren’t crooks. They were also divorced. She’s got a few brothers and sisters in different places, mostly Arizona, Vegas, some New Mexico and Texas. All of them like drugs. Violet has been married and divorced twice. Once she was widowed. Her husband died under mysterious circumstances and Violet might have been the one who murdered him. (Three boys have two different fathers) Her divorced husbands are still around, still alive somewhere. One’s in Reno.

Religion: She’s an atheist

Race, Nationality: Background is Anglo-Saxon

Place in community: an outcast. They live on land out in the middle of fuckin nowhere. They are shunned by their neighbors. The only exception is a few of the men, who Violet fools around with. She’s still kind of hot.

Politics: She does not vote.

Amusements, Hobbies: Young Service men. She has odd dreams of learning how to ski. She looks up at the mountains sometimes and wonders what if…. But not for long.

Psychological:

Sex life, moral standards: she’s a whore by most standards. She has fucked her own son, for Chrissakes! She likes sex, likes younger men. She is straight.

Personal premise, ambition. Like everyone else, wants to be rich. Wants to be INDEPENDENT. Does not really trust men, just likes them for sex.

Frustrations, disappointments: She’s remarkably ok with her lot in life. She knows she’s been dealt a bad hand but does her best to deal with it and is proud in her own way of what she’s accomplished. She has a very different yardstick.

Temperament: volatile, has an explosive temper.

Attitude: Wakes up cheerful and it goes downhill from there. She’s been around long enough to know that things change a lot and what is true today won’t necessarily be true tomorrow.

Complexes: Obsessed with her nails and hair. Likes fashion magazines. Is a smoker, has to have her cigs, lighter, etc always close by. She’s a real addict that way.

Extrovert: Yes, she’s outgoing

Abilities: Has a way with men. Actually knows some Spanish. Has some aptitude with things like car engines, she has been so self-reliant for a really long time. She can fix the plumbing, etc.

Qualities: She has western tastes. Pretty much simple things, tied to where they are. She’s really not grandiose. She does the drug stuff because she’s a user herself, but also because it was the most lucrative thing available

IQ: surprisingly high.

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