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Flash Fic Friday

**Follow along this December as we watch Cody get his Christmas Miracle. Four part series coming your way, with the first three being the Fridays, and the final installment on Christmas Eve**

Normally I loved the holidays. From Halloween to New Year’s, I celebrated everything I could. I went all out with the pumpkins, cobwebs, and ghosts at the end of October, which transitioned into nicely more pumpkins, mums, and gourds for November. Then the snowflakes, snowmen, bells, stockings, garlands, and elves came out on the day after Thanksgiving and carried me into December. The tree went up the first weekend of the month, and carols filled my house. And then I left it all up, but added sparklers and streamers for the last day of the year.

But this year, things were different.

Jake and I had been together for nine years, and this wasn’t the first time he’d been deployed. And usually I used my love of the holiday season to keep myself upbeat and occupied. But it was the first time since we married three years ago. And that made it feel different in ways I’d never anticipated.

I knew being a Marine husband was hard. I’d been doing it in one capacity or another since Jake and I first started dating. I’d been with him as he came out to his platoon as bi, and was there by his side, nervous as hell, as he finally introduced me to his brothers in arms. It hadn’t always been easy. Nothing worth having ever was. But we’d made it through all of the hard times and we were happy.

Jake was nearing his twenty years, and he’d been stationed here for the past five. I thought, maybe naively, that we were in the home stretch. He had his job on base that he excelled at, and his CO was more than happy to keep him around. Retirement was still officially two years away, and Jake wasn’t even sure yet if he was going to muster out when he hit his twenty years. We were still talking about it. I wanted him to, but he loved being a Marine, and I wasn’t going to stand in the way of that. I never would.

When the orders came through that his platoon was being deployed, my heart sank. I hated being apart from him for such a long stretch. He’d been gone for nine months, and I just didn’t have it in me to celebrate without him. I’d halfheartedly put up some of my fall decorations, but I hadn’t felt it in my soul. And now it was the sixth of December, and I hadn’t changed to my Christmas/winter decorations.

I was feeling it especially hard today as my cubicle mate had been playing carols all day. So by the time I got home from work, the melancholy had settled in deep. I was moping so hard, I almost didn’t see the package waiting for me on the doorstep. Knowing I hadn’t ordered anything, I picked it up cautiously. But it had my name on it, and the black swoop-smile on the side of the box let me know it was probably safe.

Once inside, I set it carefully on the table by the door, took off all my winter gear, and then picked it up and padded in my socked feet to the kitchen. The tape came off easily, and inside was a crystal star. It was gorgeous, the way the facets caught the light, and I gasped at it’s sparkle.

The note was at the bottom.

Hi baby boy,

I know this year is going to be super hard on you. Me too. I want to be with you, to watch your face light up in joy as the holidays approach. To experience your happiness. But I can’t this year. So instead, I’m sending you something I know will put that look on your face, and that spirit in your heart. When you put this on top of the tree, when you see it there every day, know that my heart is there with you and I’ll see you as soon as I can. Enjoy the holidays, sweetheart. Even if I can’t be there with you.

I love you,

Jake

The tears were involuntary but I smiled through them. Carefully placing the tree topper back in the box, I scrambled to the storage space to pull out all the decorations and get busy. I needed everything up and decorated so I could put Jake’s thoughtful gift on the tree and feel his love.

He wanted me to, so I would.

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Flash Fic Friday

**Let’s visit with Cole and Luke from last week!**

I groaned as the alarm went off, then rolled over and buried my face in the pillow. Luke reached over me to silence the alarm, then snuggled up and pressed his nose into the back of my neck.

“Wake up, baby.”

His voice was soft and cajoling, but I’d eaten far too much yesterday and had one too many glasses of wine. After the whole thing with Luke’s mother, I was emotionally wrung out too. I just wanted to sleep.

“No work,” I muttered, the pillowcase sticking to my lips. “Keep sleeping.”

“Oh no,” Luke said with a chuckle and giving me a gentle shake. “This was all you. The whole reason we set the alarm in the first place. Time to wake up.”

“Don’t wanna.”

Luke chuckled again, squeezed me tightly, then attacked my neck with playful, biting kisses. I squirmed, my body reacting to his touch, but just as I was about to really get into it he pulled away. I felt him sit up, and then he whipped the blanket back and gave me a sharp smack to the ass.

I yelped.

“Get up, love. It’s Black Friday.” The sound of him standing was immediately followed but a groan as he stretched. I flopped onto my back quickly so I wouldn’t miss the show, but he was finished by the time I got my bleary eyes to focus. Damn.

“Come on, Cole. I’ll start the coffee, you get dressed. You know what you have to do.” He pointed finger guns at me and I couldn’t help but laugh.

By the time I got into the kitchen, there was a pot of hot, delicious brew waiting for me. I poured a cup, inhaled deeply, then added a dollop of creamer and sipped tentatively, not caring that it was too hot.

“You get everything?” Luke asked. I nodded, still not ready for speech. He grinned. “This was you, Cole. This is what you wanted. I only agreed because I love you.”

Feeling more awake now, I was able to smile. He was never shy about giving me the words and I loved hearing them. I leaned over so I could kiss his neck, and then said, “I know. I love you.”

Luke pressed his lips to my forehead. “Breakfast first?”

I shook my head. “Maybe in a bit.”

“Good then. Let’s get cracking.”

****

It took the better part of the morning, but by the time we stopped for lunch, everything was pretty much done. The tree (fake because Luke was allergic) was up and fully decorated, the white lights sparkling from every branch. We didn’t have a ton of ornaments, but what we did have meant something to us and it looked incredibly pretty. The garlands were up above the doorways, candles and bells decorated the end tables, and my collection of elves had found homes throughout the house. We even had candles in every front window, the battery operated kind that would flicker and cast a warm glow without lighting the curtains on fire.

Soft carols played over the speaker, and Luke had just laid down the finishing touch: a dark blue rug with snowflakes all over it. It looked fantastic in front of our space heater, which I only got because it looked like a real fireplace. Or a close approximation anyway.

I sighed happily, and sat on the couch to take it all in. Luke joined me a few minutes later, bringing with him mugs of hot chocolate. It was the instant kind, but it was the thought that counted. I kissed him as I took my mug, and then snuggled into his embrace. We sipped and he hummed along with “Adeste Fideles.”

Warmth and happiness filled me. I had Christmas and the man I loved. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Hey y’all. Flash Fic Friday is back!**

I shoved my hands deeper into my coat pockets and bounced on my toes. The wind whipped around me, but my anger…my hurt kept me warm.

“Baby, it’s freezing out here.” Luke’s voice was soft, cajoling, but I just shot him a scathing look over my shoulder. I hadn’t heard the door, but it had taken him long enough to come after me. And that, too, added to my hurt and anger.

“I’m aware,” I bit out.

Luke stepped around me so he could hold my gaze. I met his stubbornly, raising my chin. Defiance just poured off me.

“We’re about to serve dinner,” he said in that same tone.

I scowled harder. “I’m aware.”

He blew out a breath and chanced a step closer. He lifted one hand, as though he was going to touch me, and normally I would be all about that but not right now. Luke must have seen that in my face because he let his arm drop.

“Cole, honey–”

“Your mother is mean to me,” I said, trying for firm but it came out more like whine. I shook my head and shored up my resolve. “She’s so rude.”

“I know,” he murmured.

“The things she said to me! And not just today.” I made an angry noise, and I caught the twitch of Luke’s lips, because he always found it amusing when I made that noise. But he knew better than to smile.

“I know,” he said again.

“And you just let her. You let her say…” I trailed off because that was the worst part. That his mother spoke to me with rudeness and disdain was hard enough to bear. But to have Luke just sit there, let her speak to me that way, that was so much worse. I loved him more than anything on the planet, and for the past two years he’d been my everything. My rock, my solace, my confidant. And I was the same for him. From the moment we met, we just clicked. It hadn’t taken us more than a few weeks to go from friends to lovers, and we’d been inseparable ever since. Which is why I put up with his mother in the first place.

We didn’t see much of her, but it’s was Thanksgiving, and she insisted Luke had to be here for the family dinner. Which meant I was here too. Because wherever he went, so I did I.

Luke took another step closer. “Do you trust me?”

I sighed, half exasperation, half affection. “You know I do.”

“Then please trust me.” He held out a hand. “Come back inside.”

I didn’t hesitate to take his hand. Because really, no matter how angry and hurt I was, no matter that his mother was a wretched woman, no matter what was going on between us, I loved and trusted him.

The scents of turkey and stuffing assailed me as we stepped into the house and removed our outer wear. Once we were done, Luke took my hand again and he led me into the dining room. His entire family was gathered around the table, and the feast itself looking like a Norman Rockwell painting. Every dish was picture perfect, and there were even candles around the centerpiece of autumnal flowers. Luke pulled out my chair and I sat, steadfastly refusing to make eye contact with anyone. Least of all his mother.

The room was quiet, but that wasn’t unusual. I’d been to enough dinners with his family over the years to know that every one remained quiet until after Luke’s mother said the blessing. I kept my gaze down, but smiled a little when Luke slid into the seat next to me and put a hand on my thigh under the table.

“Dear Lord,” his mother began, and I fought not to flinch at the sound of her voice. “We gather together as a family today to share in the joy of us all and partake of this amazing food You’ve provided for us. And I ask that you help open my heart to this beautiful soul my son has fallen in love with.”

My head shot up, I couldn’t help it, and Luke’s mother was looking right at me. She gave a tiny smile and drew a breath.

“I suffer from the mother’s affliction that no person in this world could be good enough for my son. And it has caused me to be rude and judgmental, when Cole has shown this family nothing but kindness. My own son had to call me to task, point out my behavior and show me how unacceptable it is. Lord, I ask you to forgive my sins in this regard. But Cole, I also ask you to do the same. I should be thankful that such a wonderful person loves my Luke, today especially, but every day. I’m sorry I hurt you, Cole. And I promise to do better.”

I was stunned. Because for the first time, I actually heard genuineness in her words. She meant it. All I could do was nod.

She smiled, a little shaky, but it was there. “I’m far from perfect. And I’m sure I’ll mess up again. Next time, just call me out on my rudeness, okay Cole?”

“Uh, sure.”

Everyone laughed, his mother closed the prayer, and I turned to Luke as everyone dug into the food, chatter starting up. He was wearing a huge grin.

“I’m thankful for you, baby. Every day. Every hour. I love you.”

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Why I Don’t NaNoWriMo

The first time I did NaNo, it was five years ago. I’d heard it was a thing but never really looked into it. But then I was a newly minted published author and I was like, man, I need to do this! I’m an author! Let’s go!

I had my brain engaged and I started writing as soon as the clock ticked over to November 1st. I came home from work every day and wrote. I wrote like a rockstar! And I wrote 51,000 words in ten days and had a finished book! I was amazing.

And every single word of it was garbage.

I spent the rest of the month trying to fix it, but I basically just….couldn’t. And that’s when I learned that my brain does not write this way. I need to adjust and change as I go. And I need to take breaks from a story and just figure out if what I’m writing is the right thing to write. I need to let things percolate in between. So while I can (and do!) write a lot of words in quick succession, the whole push behind NaNo isn’t what fuels me and I don’t produce quality words. And when I don’t start with something that’s close to what I want in the first place, it’s impossible for me to edit and tweak and fix and polish.

I tried it again the year before last with that in mind, just on my own, and worked in the way that I know I work best. But I didn’t complete the challenge and that felt like a failure, even knowing that any words at all is a win.

So I don’t NaNoWriMo. Because it doesn’t fit my process and my brain can’t let go of the feeling of failure when I don’t do what I should.

But to all you authors out there that do and can? Rock on! You’ve got this! You’re going to write amazing words this month, and we’re all looking forward to seeing those words in print. All the blood, sweat, tears, frustration, and joy will be worth it in the end. I’m cheering you on the sidelines.

Write on, writers!

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The Truth of the Matter

Every time I go to the doctor, I’m asked if I’m depressed. I get it. I have pretty severe anxiety, and anxiety and depression (as an NP once put it to me) “play very well together.” On the whole, depression is not something I experience. So I can truthfully answer that no, I’m not depressed.

But these last few months…hell most of this year….it’s been different. I have felt so very uninspired. And I’ve blamed it on the publisher who shall not be named and the very super crappy situation at the EDJ (which thankfully will be changing in a few weeks). And they’ve definitely played their role in all of this. The mental and emotional energy I’ve had to put into dealing with all that has left my well empty.

And just today, I had a face palm moment of realizing that another reason is because I have been absolute crap at taking my medication. Not for any reason other than I keep forgetting and then it gets pushed around and hidden under something and then I really really forget.

Words have been like pulling teeth. I haven’t knitted hardly at all. And I haven’t worn makeup in weeks, and that’s my favorite form of self expression. For a super creative person like me, to not be creative and fill the well has made things so much worse.

So the lack of spoons and the lack of meds…yep. I’ve been depressed. Only I didn’t see it for what it was. Needed a little tough love.

And it also makes me feel better, in a way. Because there’s a reason that I’ve been so uninspired and uncreative. And there are things I can do to help myself. And I am making those changes. I’m unhappy with the me I’ve been lately, and unhappy with my lack of engagement.

So expect things to change around here! I’ve updated this site so that all the links and covers are current for my rereleases. I’ve got the books that are coming soon up as well. And Flash Fic Friday, which has sadly been absent for an unforgivable amount of time, will be making a come back later this month.

A Timely Gift rereleased today! So if you haven’t had a chance to read it you can check it out here! If you’re in the mood for a holiday story that starts with a solstice gift and ends on Christmas, be sure to take a look. And it’s on sale right now! (If you read the original, no need to repurchase. There have been minor tweaks, but no substantive¬† changes. It’s still the same story)

And coming up in just a few weeks is Miracles in Space. Y’all. I’ll do a dedicated post for this one soon but it’s an homage to my beloved Star Trek. It’s got alien races and politics, and I kid you not, a language that has rules and was created for me by an actual linguist. (who also happens to be my brother, but that doesn’t negate the linguist part) Oh and mpreg. You can preorder it here. And it’s part of a trio of sci fi stories, so if you’d like, you can get all three in one collection. Check it out.

So to sum up? I’ve been in a bad place, and it’s been a combination of outside and inside forces. But now that I’ve fully recognized it, I will do what I can to help myself. That’s not to say I won’t still have bad days, but here’s hoping they become fewer and farther between.

 

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The State of Things

Yeah, so it’s been a while. And I always keep saying that I’m going to do better about keeping things updated and then never do. I need to try, that’s for sure.
But the truth is…I’m mentally wrung out.

I haven’t spoken much about the Dreamspinner debacle. I don’t intend to go into specific detail here either. I think it’s pretty well known that authors (and other content creators) are not getting paid and that there’s a lot of…waffle coming from the DSP staff, in particular the CEO. I don’t need to rehash it. I pulled all my titles with them back in May after yet another excuse about late payments.¬† Late payments have been going on for quite a while, and there was always some excuse. And then everything started coming out, and I bit the bullet and requested my titles back. I was granted reversion immediately, and began the process of republishing them with JMS Books. Just about everything should be back out for purchase within the coming months, and some titles are already out again.

And as of today, no, I still haven’t gotten paid for Quarter 2.

I will say I’m sad at the state of things with that press, but it’s also not the same press I first signed with more than six years ago. And I need to do what is best for me and my writing career if I intend to keep writing.

With all that being said, it’s no wonder my creative mojo has kind of tanked. Not only is there this going on, but the day job has…gone a bit sideways and it’s also taking it’s toll. I find myself out of spoons, and fucks, and I just can’t at the end of the day. Most of the time.

I’ve been stress crafting soaps. And knitting some. And watching people create things on YouTube.

But in my heart of hearts, despite everything else, I am a writer. I have been since I was ten years old and first put pen to paper. And fingers to keyboard. I constantly live with voices in my head, plots and characters, and interesting turns of phrase. I’ve improved in my craft, and with each new thing I write, I try to get even better. I love creating stories, and helping my guys find their happily ever after. I may not be the most popular author in a fairly saturated genre, but I have a particular voice and there are those who enjoy my style, my characters, and my narrative.

So today I break ground on a new story. Today I remind myself that there are readers out there who want to see what I have coming up next. Today I remember it’s not all about the money, and that the joy of writing a story is it’s own reward. (Don’t get me wrong, the money is important as I, and all authors, deserve to be paid for our work. But it’s not the only thing.)

Today I start Declan and Luka’s story.

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The New and The Not So New

So lots has been going on and I haven’t been here to keep you updated. My fault. I’ve been letting other things get in the way. But here I am, once again, promising to do better about it.

What’s been going on, you ask?

Well most recently, my littlest brother came to visit and it was a great week. I took a couple days off from the EDJ to hang out with him, so that was lovely. We got tattoos together (and so did Sister) though they aren’t matching, and we did an escape room. Let me tell you, that was a blast. My oldest brother wasn’t around, sadly, but the other four of us did the room. We beat it with five minutes to spare, broke out, and bought t-shirts to prove it. We’re all fairly good at puzzles, so the hardest part was actually finding the clues. I’d totally do it again.

But other than that it’s been work. Work at the EDJ, and working on writing stuff. I’ve had a hard time settling to anything, so I wrote a flash story that will be out in September called Champagne Thursday, just to get the juices flowing. It sort of worked. heh. And I also worked on getting some of my previously published titles ready to be re-released. Just gave them an extra polish and approved new covers. it’s been fun, and I’m glad that they won’t be out of circulation too long, so if you haven’t had a chance to pick them up, you will get that chance soon.

Forever Nine was just released, so that’s a brand new story from me. Buy links in the books tab, if you’d like. As I’ve said, here and other places, it’s a bit of a departure for me. In that it’s a BDSM, not that there’s a lack of KTB brand feels. Because those are definitely there. But it’s also heavy on the Dominance and Submission, with some pain play and edging thrown in. I love it. And there will be more to come in that realm, for sure.

Right now the new I’m working on is a sci fi story, which is also a departure, but still loving it. I know not every one of my readers is going to love every one of my books, but this is something that’s been in my heart for a long time, so I’m happy to branch out. Sci fi, and fantasy, was my very first love, ever since I was a wee child. And with romance thrown in, that’s double the good.

Ghost of a Chance is back out on August 3rd. Buy links when I have them. Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love comes out August 17th. And Hearts and Hazelnuts will be soon to follow. I’ll update those buy links too. Everything else will be rolling out between now and February. Anything I re-release will not have substantial changes, but there will be small tweaks and extra polish. And new covers. So you definitely don’t have to buy them again if you’ve already got them. But there will also be some new things in there too, so keep your eyes peeled!

So that’s the update! I’ll keep y’all posted of things to come!