Green’s Thumb

Don’t miss the “Writing Of” and Reading Sample below!

Real men, real love, real happy.

Mitch Graham and Karl Hartman are meant for each other – they just don’t know it yet. They’re both gay, middle aged, single, and open to meeting that special someone. Problem is, they never get out of the house!

With Karl working from home, and Mitch’s non-existent social life, it seems unlikely the two will ever meet. When Mitch decides on a whim to visit a new dog park, Karl’s greyhound takes a shine to him, and the game is on.

In a sneaky bid to spend more time together, Karl hires Mitch to do some landscaping work on his front yard. It doesn’t take long for something special to grow along with the flowers.

Author’s note – This book is a standalone M/M silver romance. Steamy content included!

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“What an amazingly great read. Love can be found regardless of age. Simply wonderful!” 

“It was so refreshing to read a M/M Gay story that was about established men. Most gay fiction features young studs, not middle aged men, and it was a down right delicious!! Thank you, to the author from this 50 year old gay man! It was well worth the read!”

“The chemistry was HOT and the story was funny, sweet & very well written.”

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The Writing of Green’s Thumb

This story was my first attempt at a contemporary romance. Primary motivation came from my frustration with books featuring “older” gay men who didn’t do anything different than guys in their twenties. I wanted something more realistic and drew from my own life experience for some elements of the story. And to answer your question, this book is not a thinly veiled autobiographical account.

At the time of it’s writing, my goal was to use Green’s Thumb as the first book in a romance series called “Retail Men”. I thought it was high time someone wrote about the everyday guys out there working regular jobs. Most gay romances, it seemed, featured rich, famous, privileged guys living extraordinary lives. What about the rest of us? Don’t we deserve love too? I don’t know any millionaires, rock stars, or Hollywood actors, and I certainly would never expect one of them to fall in love with me!

In hindsight, I freely admit the story is rather simple and moves quickly. Some of this was intentional and the rest can be blamed on my inexperience as a writer. Still, the way the main characters interact, including sex and the pace of their relationship, reflect the realities of men in their fifties. As it turned out, my readers agreed with me.

I began receiving impassioned notes from those deeply touched by the true to life nature of my story. It spoke to them in ways I didn’t expect, and they were thrilled by a tale they could relate to. Frankly, I found their heartfelt comments both humbling and satisfying. Any author would feel privileged to know their work provoked such emotion and gratitude. It reminded me of the power of words; even those of a minor piece of fiction.

Though the book was well-received, I changed my mind about the Retail Men series, leaving Green’s Thumb as a standalone. Somewhere down the line, it’s my desire to expand and improve the story using the skills I’ve since learned. Given limited time and the need to write new material, it may never happen. Still, I haven’t given up on the idea of a series about older gay men finding love. When the time and circumstances are right, I’ll get started on it.

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Reading Sample

Chapter 1 – Mitch

“Seriously, Dad, you have got to get out of the house occasionally. You’re never going to meet anybody just going to work and sitting at home.”

Lisa was right, as usual, and I appreciated her concern, but with a very limited budget and even less time, it was difficult coming up with ideas. We had just finished our usual Wednesday night dinner at my apartment, and Lisa was freely dishing out the advice before she headed home to her family. I saw her to the door, where I got my usual rib-cracking hug, and sent her on her way with some leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Her husband, Robb, was brave enough to watch their four-year-old twins by himself so she and I could continue our well-established weekly dinners. Without a scheduled time, a whole month might pass without contact, and neither of us wanted that to happen.

Her older brother, Grant, often joined me for a quiet walk through the nature preserve near his home, so we connected on a regular basis too. When he and his wife, Katie, needed a date night, I usually watched six -year-old Alyssa for them. She would dig out all the ingredients for hot fudge sundaes, and afterwards we would watch a movie. She rarely lasted through the entire thing, usually falling asleep with her head in my lap. I always kept a book nearby and would read until her parents came to pick her up.

I was fortunate my children lived in town, and we were so close. There was a time, when I came out to them after the divorce, I was afraid of losing them both. My ex-wife created a toxic environment in our home, and it was all I could do to counter her influence and hold things together. I loved my children dearly, and made sure they knew it, but I feared their rejection when I told them I was gay. Though they were surprised, they both accepted me without reservation, as did their future spouses, saying they just wanted me to be happy. I’d dated a little bit over the last decade, but never managed to find anyone with staying power.

My life revolved around work, home, and running errands – hence the free relationship advice from my daughter. My job at Green’s Thumb didn’t pay very much, which left me with few options for a social life. Everything I was interested in doing had a cost attached which I couldn’t afford, even if it was just the extra gas driving back and forth. Hoping to meet someone at work wasn’t going to happen either.

The store owner, Roger Green, had as much use for a homosexual as he did a third arm. If he even suspected I was gay, I would find myself unemployed so fast it would set a speed record. That only left internet dating, which after a very brief and discouraging attempt on my part, was carefully placed in the trash can of bad ideas. At 53, I was no longer a young man, though I was still in good shape. My looks were nothing special, and I was shorter than average, with plain brown hair and eyes. The truth is, no one was lined up at my door to ask me out, and I was just going to have to take my chances that Mr. Right, if he existed at all, would stumble across my path some other way. Meanwhile, I had life to live.

After Lisa left, I grabbed my grocery list and headed for the store. It was only two miles from the apartment complex, and the most direct route took me down a narrow two-lane road which passed one of the local parks. As I got closer, I could see traffic was backed up a little at the park entrance. As I waited, I noticed the sign had been altered to include a new bark park for dogs. I remembered reading about it being approved several months ago, though I hadn’t paid much attention. I loved dogs, but my complex didn’t allow them, and I couldn’t have afforded a pet anyway.

On my way home from the store, I approached the park entrance again and decided to pull in and check out the changes they made. The groceries would keep for a few extra minutes, and I had nothing pressing to do at home. The new pet area was located near the center of the main park, in a formerly unused space which was home to numerous large trees. I locked the car and walked over to the chain link fence to get a closer look. Since it was close to sundown, there were very few pet owners using the facility.

It was divided into two distinct areas, one for smaller dogs only, and the other for larger breeds. Each entry point included a double gate system to prevent animals from running loose in the main park. There were comfortable looking benches strategically placed in the shade, and a watering station off to one side. The dogs enjoyed plenty of green space to run, and there were numerous covered cans for waste. It looked like a great addition to the neighborhood, and a place I would have used if I had a dog of my own.

I did a little bit of thinking on the way back home, and by the time I shut off the car decided to take Lisa’s advice and visit the bark park when it was busier. I could get my dog fix and maybe meet some nice folks while I was at it. It was certainly worth a try, and even better, it was free and close to home. I usually got off work about 3:30, so I decided to come back tomorrow and check it out. There was nothing to lose, and at the very least it would get me out of the apartment and into the fresh air for a while.

The next day at work was typical; in at 7 a.m. to place orders and prep the sales floor before we opened at 8:00. My main responsibility was to advise customers on the best types of plants for their yard or garden, as well as upsell all the related equipment and tools which went along with their purchases. I enjoyed the relationships built over the years with our regular customers and found pleasure in seeing things grow.

 When I was a homeowner it was a real showplace and I loved spending time making it beautiful and productive. Shortly after she moved out, my soon-to-be ex, Bonnie, returned to the house in the middle of the night and sprayed the entire yard with industrial strength vegetation killer. She did it, I’m sure, just to hurt me. She succeeded.

Though Green’s Thumb didn’t pay well, it provided some peace of mind for my post-divorce life. My choices were very limited at the time, thanks to Bonnie, so I ended up living a simple, quiet existence which suited me, though there were obvious downsides to living hand-to-mouth. Lately, I’d been thinking more seriously of finding something different with better pay. So far there were no enlightening ideas, but you could say I was open to new possibilities.

Being early Spring, the store was flooded with eager guests, looking for something special for their yard or garden. The other part time clerks would always bring me customers with the more complicated questions, and we worked well together as a team. By mid-morning, one of my favorite regulars stopped in to chat and look over the new inventory. Suzanne Bennet was president of the East Side Garden Club, and we had known each other for years. Her flower garden was stunning, and I was proud to have had a large part in helping her create it.

As we conversed, I noticed my boss emerge from his office. Roger Green had recently taken over Green’s Thumb following his father’s retirement. The man knew absolutely nothing about running a successful business, and even less about managing people. My years of experience were meaningless to him. In his mind, I was just an employee who simply needed to do as I was told and not ask questions. As was his usual custom, he listened in on our conversation while attempting to “hide” behind a stack of plastic flowerpots. Fortunately, Suzanne was facing the other direction and didn’t know he was there.

“So, the April meeting is going to be on the seventeenth at my home, and we are all looking forward to having you as guest speaker. As soon as people found out, we were flooded with reservations. We had such a good time last year, and I can’t wait to see what you have cooked up for us this time around!”

It was good to hear the club enjoyed my last presentation, and I was looking forward to interacting with other passionate gardeners.

“Well, I can’t wait to be there, Suzanne, but you’re not going to weasel any details out of me, so you can quit trying.”

We laughed together, just as Roger moved from his hiding spot and approached us with a scowl on his face.

“I’m sure there is plenty for you to do this morning, Mitch. Your personal life can be attended to outside of work hours.”

With a nasty glare, he walked away to torture some other poor soul, and I flushed with embarrassment and anger.

When Suzanne demanded to know who that rude man was, I explained he was the new store owner.

“Don’t you worry, Mitch, I’m going to set him straight right now. I’ll see you on the seventeenth, if not before.”

She turned on her heel and went in search of my boss. I found out later from Grace, one of our part time clerks, that she’d cornered him over by the fertilizer and raked him over the coals. He was not only rude, she’d said, but lacked any sort of social skills and was in danger of losing a large group of customers if this was the way he ran his store and treated his employees. She demanded an apology and went on to tell him he didn’t deserve an upstanding employee such as myself. After promising to keep her eye on him in the future, she walked out of the door with her head held high.

Roger, red faced and sweating like a racehorse, stormed into his office, slammed the door, and had not been seen since. While Grace and I both appreciated Suzanne’s attempt to correct his behavior, we both feared things were only going to get worse. Fortunately, the rest of the day proceeded without incident, and my mind was occupied with thoughts of visiting the bark park after work. The weather was perfect, and I was eager to enjoy some canine company for a change.