Happy News

I’ve got two exciting things to talk about!

The first is that earlier this week, I contracted a novella with Dreamspinner Press!  Woo! It’ll most likely be out at the end of the year, and it’s Travis and Noah’s story. I had a blast writing it, I fell in love with these guys so hard, and I can’t wait for you  to read it too. It’s actually the longest book I’ve written for publication to date. Holidays play a big part in the story, not to mention a little bit different twist on the friends to lovers trope. So basically two of my very favorite things. Seriously, you guys, I adore this story and I’m so happy it’ll be out to enjoy during the holiday season. I’ll post more info as I have it. But for now know that His Needs will be coming to a bookshelf near you!

And then, the bittersweet news…

Amber Quill has officially shut it’s doors as of today. And it’s still sad news, and it still hurts my heart. The Seattle guys are currently unavailable. But they won’t stay that way for long. I’m working with a fantastic artist and friend (details to come!) to give them a great new look inside and out. And then I’ll be publishing them myself in the usual outlets. At the very least, they’ll be at Amazon and ARe. I don’t have all the details worked out yet where that’s concerned. But I’ll be sure to provide the info when I have it. Rest assured, if you already have any or all of the Something Like books, they won’t be changing. Or if they do, it’ll be minor things. I’m not adding any new content. So you don’t need to purchase the new editions.

The new versions will hit the e-tailers sometime in the next couple of months. Definitely watch this space for updates. There’ll be lots of news in the coming months!

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Vacation Days

I love days off from the day job. I love them even more than I used to, since everything went sideways and has yet to straighten out. I particularly love that my boss was like “take some days before crap really starts flying so that you don’t get shafted.” That’s a good boss right there.

At any rate, I have to work today and tomorrow, but then I have the rest of the week off. Two days on, five days off…that’s how it should always be! LOL.

So the focus issues aside, because I’m very much looking forward to the time off and I don’t want to work, I’m thinking about what I’ll be doing on those days other than lounging in comfy clothes. I have a little reading to do, get ahead of the game. I have much knitting to do, and audio books to listen to. That right there is an awesome thing.

And then there’s writing.

Yeah, I haven’t put many words on the page as far as this new story has gone. I’m in that “second guessing all my choices and should I even write this book” stage of the game. It happens to me every time. Every. Single. Time. I start plotting and thinking and I get all sorts of ideas and then it’s like I slam into a concrete wall. I agonize over every little choice and talk myself out of and into the story about seven dozen times (and that’s not an exaggeration). I irritate the people in my life fretting over simple things. And I’m still firmly in that stage. I have yet to see my way clear.

But I have tentative thoughts of writing on my days off. I often do that with days off, and it seems like I can focus well. But I don’t know yet if I’m ready to get going on the story. Or if I want to work on other things, writing wise. So I don’t want to plan anything and have it fall through…either because of external or internal forces. When that happens, I have a tendency to beat myself up. So I don’t want to set myself up for failure.

If I do, then I do, and that’s great. If I don’t, then that’s okay too. Ultimately, these days are about relaxing and unwinding, which I’m in need of. And if that means I spend some time at my computer putting down words, then all the better.

Flash Fic Friday

**Whether you celebrate it as a Christian holiday, or are just in it for the eggs, bunnies, and chocolate, or both!, here’s wishing you a very Happy Easter!**

“Guys, come on!” I called out, picking up my keys from the sideboard, and grabbing the light jackets off the hooks by the door. “We’re going to be late!”

There was a patter of small feet, and then our five year old son Damian rocketed into my knees. It was his favorite game, so I obligingly pretended he was about to knock me over. I stumbled back dramatically, scrabbling against the wall to stay upright. Damian chortled, a sound much deeper than his small body should have been able to produce.

“Don’t fall, Daddy!” He screeched, his voice pitching up, responding to my dramatics. This too, was part of the game.

I clutched at my chest, playing along. And then I realized what he was wearing. His pants, vest, and bow tie were white. His dress shirt a pale robin’s egg blue. His blond hair was plastered to his head with his papa’s gel. And his shoes were also white and very shiny.

“What are you wearing?” I asked, just a little incredulously. Damian looked down at himself and then back up at me, his blue eyes wide and guileless, and then shrugged.

“Papa did it,” he accused. I fought to keep the grin off my face. He’d learned the blame game from us, a thing we’d done since we first started dating ten years ago.

“Mike, honey, what did you dress our son in?”

Mike’s eyes, so blue that everyone always mistook him for Damian’s biological father, gave me a wide grin. “Look at our son, Joe. Isn’t he just too adorable for words?”

He did look cute, this boy we’d adopted just six months ago. From the moment we brought him into our home, we knew he was ours. He’d been living in not the best of situations, and his mother had finally given up custody. But though Damian had been through hard times, he adapted quickly, and after a rocky first couple of months, he was now a smiling, happy, well adjusted little boy.

“Yes. He’s the best looking kid ever,” I agreed softly, and I cupped my hand around our son’s cheek. Then I gave Mike a pointed look. “But as cute as he is, it’s not exactly appropriate for what we’re doing, you know?”

Mike blinked. Then he shouldered the bag he was carrying, and shoved us both toward the door. “Come on. We’re going to be late.”

***

An hour later, I had to admit that watching the perfectly dressed adorable child run around with all the other well dressed children while looking for hidden Easter eggs had been just too perfect for words. Mike had his camera out, the expensive one with the lenses that he wouldn’t let me touch, and he’d photographed our son to within an inch of his life. But now the eggs were all unearthed and the organizers of the egg hunt and community picnic were gearing up for the rest of the fun and games. I wanted Damian to participate, but he’d ruin his clothes. And it couldn’t be comfortable either. I frowned again in Mike’s direction, unable to believe he had dressed our kid this way.

As if my thoughts conjured them, my husband and son came running toward me, laughing for all the world. Damian fell down in my lap, his cheeks pink and his eyes happy. Mike snapped a few more pictures, then carefully put his camera in the case. As soon as he was done, he told Damian in no uncertain terms that it was time for a potty break. Damian knew better than to argue, and though he dragged his feet a little, Mike took him to the bathroom on the far side of the park.

I leaned back against the tree where Mike and I had spread out our blanket, and just absorbed the laughing, shreking, happy sounds of children playing and having a good time. The youngest were infants, the oldest maybe ten or twelve. But every last one of them seemed happy, and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.

It grew even wider when Mike and Damian emerged from the bathroom, this time with Damian dressed in a pair of khaki’s and a polo shirt. Still on the nice side, but a lot more practical for running around and playing games. He tugged on Mike’s hand and pointed frantically to the jungle gym just ten feet away. Mike ruffled his hair and motioned him on. Damian tugged his hand and spoke earnestly, and only when Mike nodded gravely did he finally run off to play.

A moment later, Mike was at my side and I lifted my arm so he could snuggle in.

“He wanted to make sure I’d be watching,” Mike murmured.

“Of course,” I said. “As if you’d take your eyes off him.”

“And he wanted to know I’d protect his eggs and not let ‘that mean Molly’ take them.”

I laughed and kissed his temple, before glancing at the basket were he’d carefully horded the ten or so brightly colored eggs he’d rooted out from their hiding place. They were plastic and no doubt filled with chocolate. We’d have to be careful to dole that out. Too much sugar, and Damian got sick. Mike did too, for that matter.

“As if you’d let anything happen to his treasure.”

Mike grinned and nodded. “He trusts us, Joe. He really does now. To be there. To take care of him.”

“Yes. He does.”

Mike’s eyes welled up, but he kissed me quickly, and then leaned back in my arms. He didn’t say anything as he turned his attention to our son. I watched him watch Damian. No words were needed. Our family was finally complete.

Jump Start

I need one in the worst way.

You may (or may not) have noticed that the word meter on my latest WIP has not moved a single bit. I have the first couple of paragraphs written of the opening scene. I have my characters. I have about three plot points I want to hit before I get to the end, where there will be an HEA (because this is romance!). But I’m having trouble getting going. I wrote those first few paragraphs when the idea struck, typed them out quickly and emailed them to myself. But that’s all. I’ve barely even written any notes. And the few times I have, the story has gone off the rails in a direction that I didn’t want it to. Somewhere that’s out of character for my MCs.

Normally, I’d say that’s what the characters want and I’d roll with it. But it’s not. Nor is it what I want from the story. So I have to back up again and refocus.

I have this feeling like the story is just out of reach. That if I could just get into the groove of it, then the rest of it would unfold before me. If I could just get going, I’d be okay. Seth and his pretty man would commence falling in love in the way that was right for them and not by falling into all the tropes and cliches along the way.

Side note: there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with tropes and cliches. At all. Cliches are cliches because they are true; tropes are popular because people LIKE them. (Me included!) I have no problem with tropes and cliches. What I’m actively avoiding is my brain’s sudden need to throw a bunch of them in together. Seriously, one or two are enough for a story, thanks.

So anyway, yeah. I need the jump start to get going. I need the thing that’s going to drive the story. Once I can get going, then I’ll be okay. (Or at least, I’ll have a different set of problems that come with telling a story) But until then I’m actively thinking while I go about all the other things in my life and trying to find that one thing, that scene, that thought, that is going to jump start this story and get the engine revving.

Of Names and Men

Those who are the closest to me will know that I am…weirdly picky about names for my characters.

I’m drawn to certain names, and one letter in particular, and so they keep popping up when I’m trying to figure out what my character is called. Not only that, but if I have some sort of association with the name, good or bad, it’s immediately off this list. On top of that, the name needs to fit with the character. By that I mean it has to be something his parents would have named him, and also be age appropriate.

I’m not going to name a man Braxton if he’s the forty year old son of Italian immigrants, you know?

Above all, it has to be a name I like, that I won’t mind writing/thinking/seeing a gazillion times.

So sometimes, this is an easy task. Sometimes I see the name and it inspires the character. Sometimes I have the character first, and with very little thought, the name appears. I often have backstories as to why a character has the name they have, despite never getting to work them into the tale. Names are sort of my thing, and have been a bit of an obsession for a long time. I’ve always collected them, collating them away for use somehow, someway.

I’ve barely begun my latest WIP. Just have a few paragraphs written. Just the very beginning. But a big part of that was for days on end, I had no idea what the name of my narrator character was. I didn’t. I had his love interest pretty clearly, and though I did change his name at the very beginning, I quickly found the one that fit him. But for my MC who was telling us the story? I had no idea. I waffled back and forth, changed my mind a dozen times, kept trying on new ones that didn’t quite fit. Friends weighed in on the dislike of a few and offered reasoning for discarding a few others. Nothing felt right anyway. This guy was coalescing in my mind, all his pieces were coming together. I was learning about him, figuring out all the bits that made him, and I had no idea what he was called.

Until it came to me, out of the blue and it fit.

Now all I can think about is Seth, and how he’s going to fall in love with a pretty man. And I’m excited to tell the story.

The Stories I Write

I write about two guys falling in love. However that should happen. More often than not, it’s on the sweeter side. There’s not a lot of heavy angst. Just two guys meeting (or who already know each other) and then falling in love while they go through some stuff.

And it seems my stories are a particular length. You won’t see any 100,000 word epics from me. My plots aren’t that intricate. My characters aren’t that complex. I use as many words as I need to tell the story, and no more than that. So my wheelhouse seems to be the novella length book. Average is about 30k. Which is (very) roughly about 100 pages. I’m very comfortable with this and happy about it. I’m not going to pad my stories with scenes that aren’t necessary just to have more words. But neither do I have a strict word count (unless it’s a sub call) to which I’m trying to write. When I write the story, I have a goal sometimes, but ultimately, it will take as many words as it takes and whatever that is, I’m happy with. (Though, yes if you look at the WIPs page, I’m aiming for something a little longer with my next one. At the moment it feels like a longer story, but that could all change.)

It took me a while to get to this point. I looked at what everyone else was doing, and I put this immense pressure on myself to be like them. That all the hurt and pain and angst and long, drawn out, word heavy books made it real. And they are. Those books are very real. And they make  you feel and hurt and have satisfaction when you get to the end (I love reading those books!) But it took me a long while to get to the point where I could accept that my stories are just as real. (Which is silly, because sometimes I’m in the mood for shorter and fluffier so it makes sense that other people would be too)

Now I’m in a place where I have embraced what I write and how I write them. (I wrote about the how here.)

And if all that sounds like your kind of story, then please, check out my backlist.

Flash Fic Friday

The cold rain beat down steadily. Not a downpour, but an unrelenting flow. He was drenched through his clothes, his skin chilled, and his dark hair plastered to his forehead. And still he stood. Unceasing in his vigil. He would not be moved. He would not leave this spot. He could not. He’d made a promise and it was one he would not break.

“Come inside,” his sister coaxed, worry in her deep brown eyes. But he just shook his head, his gaze fixed on the horizon.

“You’ll catch your death,” his mother scolded, the frown etched in lines around her tight mouth. But he did not care if he did, for this was worth it.

“Stop this foolishness,” his father implored, anger and concern in the bass rumble of a voice. But he did not dignify that with a response, because he knew better.

All day he stood. Waiting. Watching. He was scared. He was worried. But he remained at his post as he said he would be. And as the hours passed and the rain continued to fall, he began to fear something terrible had happened. But he did not give up hope. He had faith in the one who had given him the words, and he knew the depth at which he’d returned the promise.

By late morning on the sixth day, I will return. Wait for me. For yours is the first face I wish to see.

He had said he would, and though the sun was now sinking, still he stood. Because he had promised that he would be there and he was determined to do so.

And then, his heart leapt as a lone figure crested the hill. Even from the distance, he could tell the traveler was weary. Perhaps hurting. But the figure paused, looked in his direction, and then quickened pace. His heart in his throat, he couldn’t help running and they met half way.

The first time he laid eyes on the man before him, he knew he’d lost his heart. And now having him once again in his arms, all was right with his world.

“I apologize for the delay.” The words were mumbled into the skin of his neck, and he couldn’t help the small smile. “Thank you for waiting for me.”

He pulled back, and then kissed his love with all his heart, putting into it all the longing and love that he felt. When he pulled back, they were both smiling. “Always.”