Carolyn Sohier, the Greta Garbo of divas, is giving a once in a lifetime concert that Tim can’t afford to attend. Tim—an overweight, twenty-something virgin—regrets lending the hunky bag boy at the grocery store money that could have bought him a ticket. Tim needs to call in his debts, but money isn’t the only thing holding him back.
The first time Tim met Javier, he was blown away by the attention. He didn't often—actually ever—get a guy, let alone a hot one, pay attention to him. The problem, Javier is straight; yet he gives Tim mixed messages. Tim can’t get Javier off his mind, unless he is pursuing his love for theater—or talking with his best friend, Julia, about the “unattainable” crushes they share on some of the guys back home.
With the Carolyn Sohier concert fasting approaching, Tim struggles to get tickets. If he hadn't lent Javier the money to, well, have his way with him in the beer cooler at the store they worked at together, maybe Tim wouldn't have lost his job, and would be able to see Carolyn perform. But Tim’s learned his lesson from all this…or so he thinks.
The entire first episode (over 70 pages) is available for free at Amazon
Chapter 1: America’s Got Divas
I put down my doughnut, picked up my iced coffee and took a sip. The extra-extra cream and extra-extra sugar gave me a nice little rush. It wasn’t quite as good as Starbucks’ but being unemployed I had to make the best of my homebrewed pot.
I had my cell phone cradled in the crook of my shoulder, talking to my best friend Julia. “With my Kindle,” I said, “I can read them without people staring at me on the subway.”
“I still can’t believe you like girly romance books,” Julia said. I could hear her slurping her own coffee, probably an iced Double Mocha Grande, being that she was at our old Starbucks in Salem. “You’re the only guy I know who has every Chippendale Publishing book ever released.”
I didn’t really but I didn’t want to quibble over details. “Oh my God,” I said, as a bit of powdered sugar sprayed from my mouth and landed on the blanket I had covered over me. I was getting ready to watch TV. “I almost forgot to tell you.”
She slurped some more of her coffee. “What?”
“Guess who’s doing a comeback concert?” I brushed the sugar dust off the blanket.
“No,” I said, raising my voice.
“I don’t know. You got me,” she said, and from her muffled speech, I could tell she was eating, probably a slice of carrot cake or a blueberry scone. I know what Julia likes. When she eats desserts, she usually goes for something that has a vegetable in it or some antioxidant fruit, because, of course, they’re healthier than my powdered doughnuts.
I pulled the blanket closer to me. “Carolyn Sohier,” I said. “She’s finally coming out of seclusion and doing a concert.”
Carolyn, who?” I heard the clinking of the fork against the plate. Carrot cake, I bet.
“Carolyn Sohier― you know, the singer who was in Witches of Salem, that movie we saw the night I slipped on the ice in Danvers? And she was also on Broadway in―”
“Oh, her. That movie was terrible.” I could practically hear her nose wrinkle in disgust. Julia was brutally honest. “Well, I liked it,” I said. “She’s an amazing singer.”
“She didn’t even sing in that movie,” she said, with her voice trailing off at the end.
“Well, it wasn’t a musical. But she did sing the theme song. Remember, we saw her on last year’s America’s Got Divas. She was the guest judge.”
“I suppose you’ll want me to go with you,” she said.
I clicked the remote control. “We’ll see. Tickets are expensive. She’s decided to come out of seclusion, out from her Greta Garbo cocoon. It’s a one-night only performance up in Bar Harbor.”
“Maine? Who the fuck gives a comeback performance in Maine? Bar Harbor, nonetheless. What, is she going to come out on stage riding a moose?” She laughed.
My neck was beginning to ache. I rubbed it. “I guess that’s where she lives. It’s a benefit of sorts.”
“So are you going to take the train or bus your ass up here to see her?”
By here Julia was referring to New England, where we had both grown up.
“You wanna go?” I asked.
“You mean will I go?” Julia wasn’t a huge fan of divas like I was, but she knew I had no one else to go with and wouldn’t travel alone.
“C’mon, you like her,” I said. “You even said her rendition of that Barry Manilow song was better than his.”
“Is that the song she sang when she shit herself on stage?”
“Whatever,” I said and tossed the remote onto the seat cushion next to me. Julia was referring, of course, to Carolyn’s fairly well-publicized stage fright. Carolyn had suffered a particularly bad spell several years back and, well, embarrassed herself on live television. It was pretty sad. Julia thought it was funny.
I turned as an ambulance’s siren rang out from the street below, followed by a blare from its horn. I hated the sound of ambulances. I got up to shut the window as it took a turn down Charleston Place.
“Five floors up and it sounds like the cops are right next door,” she said. “I don’t know how you can stand living in New York City.”
“It was an ambulance and I’m in Brooklyn.”
I looked at the wall clock, a gift I bought myself. It had logos from nearly all the big Broadway shows over the past two years. “Shit. It’s almost time for America’s Got Divas and I haven’t even set the DVR.”
“Alright, I’ll let you go. Besides, I should check the dryer.” She was at our old Starbucks across from the Laundromat. “Oh and how are you going to come up with the money to buy tickets for this reclusive diva? Didn’t you just get done telling me you’ve already spent this week’s and next week’s unemployment check?”
I didn’t want to get into it. “Javier,” I said. “This week, he’s finally going to pay me the money he owes me.”
“Oh, God. Not Javier.” I knew her well enough to know that she was probably rolling her eyes as she said it.
“Shut up,” I said, with no real force behind it. Julia could be such a bitch. She was always reminding me of the things I did wrong, which were plenty, and the things I should be doing to better myself, which, quite honestly, were spilling out of my inbox.
I didn’t want to be reminded of the humiliating experience I had had with Javier, the bagger at the Good Barn, my former place of employment. In short, he got me fired. “He’s getting money from his student loan,” I said. “He is going to pay me back on Wednesday.”
“We’ll see about that. Didn’t I tell you not to give him that money? Didn’t I tell you you’d probably never see it again? But no,” she said, holding onto the vowel a bit longer than necessary. “You still went off and gave it to him after giving him a BJ in the beer cooler behind Produce. He’s going to ruin your wholesome, good-natured reputation.”
Thanks so much for stopping by. So, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Oh, thank you. I’m glad to be here.
A little bit about myself…the dreaded job interview question. Somehow here it doesn’t seem as bad.
Well, for starters, I come from Massachusetts. I recently moved to Florida to pursue writing—and an easier lifestyle than what I had in crazy Boston.
Here I am almost a year later and am busier than I ever thought of being up North. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I love it here.
I’m also openly gay and have a wonderful husband. Oh, I should also mention that we’re both owned by a twelve year old dog named Bandit. I think he’s more famous than I am. He’s even got his own blog.
How did you get started writing?
From a professional standpoint, I started looking at it more seriously when I started blogging back in 2005.(The site above that Bandit has since taken over.) It was early on, before blogs were big and I was fortunate enough to catch the wave—albeit a small one.
I wrote every day and with some positive feedback I was encouraged to dust off a novel I had written a few years prior. That novel has yet to be published, but it got me working on other works.
What was the inspiration for your book?
Music. I am forever finding a song that strikes a mood, creates a scene and launches a story.
For Tim on Broadway, there were several songs that inspired me. The most notable was probably the finale from the Bette Midler film called The Rose. I’m a huge Bette fan. There’s something about her energy in The Rose, especially that last song, which I wanted to capture in writing. Tim’s fascination with Carolyn Sohier is The Rose come to life.
What’s the one genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to?
I haven’t written a sci fi piece. However, I have an idea I’ve been bandying about with a friend. Something about a gay astronaut…aliens…saving Earth from environmental disasters. I don’t know. I’m still letting the idea marinate. I guess the song hasn’t come out yet that would inspire me.
Are there any genres you won’t read or write in? Why?
I’m pretty open. But, you probably won’t see me writing the next werewolf or shape shifter series. Nothing against them. For me, I have to be grounded in reality. It takes a special writer to do that for me. That being said, one of my favorite TV shows is Once Upon a Time—talk about straying from reality—but what I like about that show is how they weave in “real” characters and settings. Plus, I have a huge crush on Prince Charming.
So, what are you working on right now? Got any releases planned, or still writing?
Right now I’m finishing up a short story for a Christmas anthology called Boughs of Evergreen. My piece in it is under the working title of One Nightstand, which is a tender story about a college guy searching for love in a casual hookup he has on Christmas Eve. The story was inspired, by Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me”. I love that song. The publisher is Beaten Track. It should be out right before Christmas. There’s some great talent in that anthology. So be sure to check it out. Plus, we’ll be donating proceeds to an LGBT youth charity. The project is very exciting to be part of. Plus, Beaten Track is a dream to work with.
Alright, now for some totally random, fun questions. Favorite color?
Teal. (Sorry, this is the closest I could get to the color teal)
The Rose, go figure.
Book that inspired you to become an author?
Oh, s#@t that’s a tough one. I’d have to probably say Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.
Alright, you have one superpower. What is it?
Flying. I think that would be so much fun. I occasionally do it in my dreams—real vivid lucid ones. I almost feel like I already know how to.
You can have dinner with any 3 people, dead, alive, fictitious, etc. Who are they?
Bette Midler would definitely be at the table. I’d then probably ask my mother to go; she just died a few months back and was a big Bette Midler fan also. My mom would be pissed if I didn’t conjure her up to see The Divine Miss M.
Who else? Let’s add God to the table. In whatever fashion he or she decides to show. Since I’d be resurrecting a dead spirit, I wouldn’t want Bette Midler to freak out and get all Hocus Pocus on me. I think God might be able to calm her down.
Last question: Which of your characters are you most like and how/why?
Oh, boy. From Tim on Broadway it would probably be Tim. I had a weight problem when I was a kid. Being fat really made a difference on how I saw the world, and, unfortunately, how the world saw me. I tried to bring that feeling of being an outcast into my book. In a way, we are all outcasts. That’s why I think so many can relate to the story.
September 15 - Sharing Links and Wisdom
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September 23 - Author Karen Swart
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October 13 - Roxanne’s Realm
About the Author:
Rick Bettencourt is the author of Tim on Broadway, Painting with Wine and Not Sure Boys. He lives with his husband and their little dog, Bandit, in the Sarasota area of Florida. Rick originally hails from Boston’s North Shore where he learned to speak without pronouncing the letter “r”— and say things like “tonic” when he wanted a Coke, or “bubbler” when getting a drink from the park’s water fountain.
A few years ago, Rick was adopted by a Cairn Terrier named Bandit. Recently, Bandit moved Rick, and his husband of several years, to Florida to escape the New England winters and avoid being engulfed by snow drifts when going about their business.
When Rick is not being walked around the block by Bandit, he might be found working on a story about an underdog character triumphing over adversity. Or you might catch Rick watching The Walking Dead or Once Upon a Time, reading something like Running with Scissors or some personal development book, or writing to a group of folks on his mailing list.
In addition, Rick enjoys theater, art, old postcards, and amusement parks. He also loves to hear from his readers.
You can follow Rick on Twitter @rbettenc or subscribe to his mailing list at www.rickbettencourt.com