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As anticipated last week, this is the second tribute this journal, and the Rainbow Awards, would like to do to another friend we lost too soon and too suddenly. I exchanged some email with William Neale, but he was relatively young to the Gay Romance crowd, and so probably, if I hadn't the chance to spend time with him in New Orleans, during the GRL convention, he would have been yet another great author of Gay Romance. But I had that chance, and I will always remember that lunch with Rick R. Reed and William, and cherish that memory. I was really looking forward not only to meet William again at 2012 convention but also to go and visit him in Cleveland. Unfortunately the email I sent to William telling him I was arriving in his city was sent when destiny had already decided it was time to steal his soul to this world.

I would like to dedicate the Gay Romance category to William Neale, from this moment on this Award will be listed and assigned as "The William Neale Award for Gay Romance". And if you wonder why, of all the categories I have, I picked this one for him, I will use his same words as a reason:
Those who seek brutally "real," gritty, and angst-ridden life stories probably won't find them in a William Neale book. "That's okay," said Neale. "Not everybody wants or appreciates a feel-good story. As for me, reading has always been a wonderful escape from reality. Even as a child, I loved the fantasy of becoming Peter Pan, Huck Finn, or one of the Hardy Boys."
This is basically the essence of romance, "a wonderful escape from reality".

I asked to Laura Baumbach, of MLR Press, to introduce the Awards: "William Neale was a unique man -- successful, driven, savvy and shrewd. At the same time, he was kind, thoughtful and generous. These are not traits one often sees together in the same person. As I grew closer to Bill over time, I saw all these qualities shine in him. He approached his writing with the same drive for excellence that his marketing career had been blessed with, he examined and evaluated the romance community and market with the seasoned eye of a professional and he treated every worthy person he met at events and online with a consistent element of grace and insight. I watched him spend hours with readers and fellow authors, making them each feel special while they were with him, basking in his focused attention and interest.

He was a true people person, a gentleman and a gentle man. All our lives are lessened with his passing. I believe a part of Bill will always live in his writing because it reflects that same wonderful combination of personality traits-- driven, savvy, kind and thoughtful characters and story lines. Like all skilled and successful authors, Bill gave a piece of himself in his books. This allows us to cherish his memory and bring him back to our side each time we read or reread his work. Bill sitting close with that little pleased smile on his face as we enter his
world with each reading. I think that image would make Bill happy. --Laura Baumbach"

William Neale's last addition to his Home series, Hope, will be available this next Friday at MLR Press:

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