Revisions and Deadlines

The publisher has asked for some revisions on Hearts and Hazelnuts. Not a bad thing at all!

Okay, yeah, it’s always a little bit of a blow when you’re told to fix something. Of course it is. So I needed to mope about that for a minute or two. And then, almost immediately, I started planning where I could make the revisions/expansions/additions. It will enhance the story, of course it will. And flesh it out more. I’m all for that.

I just don’t have a lot of time to get it done.

With Ghostwalker also having a deadline.

Basically, I will have to write my little fingers to the bone, quick quick quick, with extreme focus.

So yeah, focus has been a little bit of a problem. I’ve got two stories that need writing on, and waiting to hear on a third, so I’m feeling scattered. But I’ll put it together and get it done. I don’t have a choice if I want these stories out in the world. And I very much do.

Revisions before deadlines, here I come.

Flash Fic Friday

**Today’s prompt is two guys in a rock band admitting they have feelings for each other for the first time. Enjoy!!**

The thing I liked most about the playing the venues was the private bathrooms in the dressing rooms. When The Lost Boys were playing for hundreds instead of hundreds of thousands, we thought we were lucky when we had a room to gather offstage, let alone a bathroom. But now we had made a name for ourselves, each member of the band had their own dressing room, including private bathrooms. After a show like that, when we’d be on fire, everything coalescing, the beat driving us and the audience to heights we rarely achieved, a shower to wash off the sweat and makeup and just cool down felt like heaven.

I emerged twenty minutes later, feeling tired beyond belief but so fucking good. I lived for the music, for the shows like that when me and the guys were perfect and the audience was right there with us, feeding us back that amazing energy. I plopped down on the love seat and stretched out as best I could. We’d done all the publicity stuff earlier in the day, and with tomorrow as an actual day off, I could relax. In a little while, we’d move to the hotel, but for now, it was just nice to relax. Wind down a little.

Three quick raps on the door announced Cody’s arrival before he pushed into the room. His smile was weary but somehow bright, and his blue eyes twinkled as he looked at me. Luke and I had started the band in our garage fifteen years ago, but Cody had joined us just before we hit it big five years ago. We’d been signed to a label, but our drummer had to go. Asshole couldn’t keep time, but he was the best we could find at the time. The label had brought in a plethora of musicians, but Cody was by far the best. He fit in with me, Luke, Celia, and Sarah seamlessly and The Lost Boys had shot to fame.

I couldn’t quite pinpoint the moment I’d gone from just lusting after his beefy, drummer arms to wanting to so much more. He was beautiful and amazing, but even more than that he was funny, intelligent, and incredibly sweet. He was everything I wanted and some time in the past five years, I’d stopped sleeping with whoever threw themselves in my path, to wanting only him. My heart always gave that little leap whenever he gave me his attention. I did my best to rein it in, to not let it show. Not only because I wasn’t entirely sure how he’d react, but because sleeping with a bandmate was not a good idea. Not if it was just a fling. That way led to problems.

I didn’t want just a fling, but it was safer to keep it to myself.

“Mike!” Cody’s grin grew till I thought his face would split. “Fucking awesome show, man!”

I couldn’t help the answering grin. I held out a fist so he could bump it with his as he flopped down beside me. I sat up so he could have room even though all I wanted was to stretch out across him. I distracted myself by reaching for a long neck bottle of beer sitting in the tub of ice on the table. I twisted off the cap, and then hissed in pain as I caught my finger on the edge of the cap. The callus on my middle finger had split during the second encore when we’d launched into the extended rendition of our first, and still biggest, hit “When The Dust Settles.”

“You okay?” Cody sat up straight and reached for my head. “Let me see.”

I stared in shock as he cradled my hand gently in his own. When he ran his fingers lightly over the pads of my fingers, I sucked in a breath, my gaze shooting to his. Cody’s smile was gentle, and he moved his fingers to rub my palm.

“Such strong hands,” he murmured.

“Cody?”

“So.” He blew out a breath. “We’ve been dancing around this for a long while now. At least I have. And I see the way you look at me sometimes, so I’m hoping…”

“Yeah.” I slid closer, drawn forward by his gaze. He curled his fingers around mine, pulling me along. As soon as I was close enough, he grabbed me and pulled me right into him, reaching up and cupping my head. He slid his fingers into my hair, and I all but melted under his touch.

“Tell me what you want.”

It was a command, and I didn’t know he had that in him, but I obeyed. “Want you. But not just once. Once won’t be enough. So if that’s not what you want then you need to–”

Cody kissed me. With such force and emotion, I knew without a doubt, he wanted exactly the same thing.

Flash Fic Friday

**Another prompt! Two EMTs meet for drinks after a horrendous day. Enjoy!**

It had been a shit day. No, worse than shit. The worst freaking day I’d ever had on the job. And that was saying something, because I’d been an EMT for going on fifteen years.

We’d been going nonstop since we clocked in this morning, and an eight hour shift had turned into twelve when an accident on the freeway turned into a seven car pile up. I was exhausted, not only from that last part, but from the rest of the day. We’d lost two heart attack patients en route despite Paul’s masterful driving and the sirens blaring. A child burned by boiling water I was afraid wouldn’t pull through. A young man, dressed in pink and glitter, beaten almost beyond recognition. At least he’d given me a smile before he passed out.

Worst day I’d ever had, and I knew Paul was feeling the strain just as badly. He was silent as he restocked the bus, making sure we once again had plenty of gauze, IV tubing, needles, gloves. We’d gone through more than average today. And my usually chatty partner wasn’t saying a word, banging around in the back.

I caught him when he jumped down, boots thudding on the concrete floor of the bay. He looked up at me with a vacant stare in his usually warm brown eyes.

“Hey, let’s head over to Jake’s and have a beer.”

Paul scowled and shook his head. “I’m… nah. I’m just gonna head home.”

That’s exactly what he didn’t need. I knew Paul better than he thought, and he needed to decompress some before he closed himself up at home. Otherwise, the images from today would haunt him. I wanted to avoid that at all costs, if I could.

I took a step closer into his space, almost crowding him up against he back of the bus, but not quite. He glanced around quickly. “Martin.”

“It’s fine,” I soothed. “But come meet me at Jake’s, okay? Just a beer. Maybe some wings. Just to wind down.”

It took him a minute to agree, but then he gave a nod and pushed away, striding toward the locker room so he could get out of his uniform. I gave him a good ten minutes before following him in. By that time, he was almost done, and ready to head out. He gave me a wave, called to a few other guys, and left. I went about my business and then did the same, driving right to the bar that was halfway between my place and the station.

I was relieved to see Paul’s beat up Bronco in the lot.

I found him inside, slumped at a table in the corner with a plate of nachos and two bottles of beer. I slid in across from him. He spared me a quick glance, but he kept his gaze focused on his food.

“You all right?” I kept my voice low, just loud enough to be heard over the ambient din. Jake’s wasn’t overly crowded at this time on a Tuesday night. The weekends were different. But there was a reason it was our preferred hang out.

“Yeah.” Paul blew out an explosive breath and finally looked at me. He offered a weak smile. “I will be. Just, man, a hell of a day.”

“Yeah, it was.” I leaned forward. “When we get home, I’ll help you forget the day. Maybe a long bath, hm? Or just right to bed. What do you say?”

The last of the tension drained out of him, and he sat back with a smile. Fifteen years on the job together, ten years of loving and living with him, I knew exactly what he needed. We’d had to keep it quiet at work just because they would have split us up had they known we were anything more than roommates. Truth was, they probably did know, but since we were careful not to flaunt it, and it never affected our performance, they looked the other way.

“Thanks, babe.” Paul’s voice was soft, and he slouched down a bit so he could push his foot against my ankle. Let me know he was there. “That sounds perfect.”

I nodded, reached out, and squeezed his hand quickly before I scooped up up some nachos. “Enjoy the beer and the nachos. Watch the game. And then I’ll meet you at home and we’ll take care of each other.”

A grateful sigh, a small smile, and Paul settled in to do just that. I watched him more than the game. Anything he needed, I would do. And I knew I’d be happy to do that for the rest of my life.

Paul glanced at me and the look I got, the flash of love and gratitude, let me know he was happy to do the same.

Flash Fic Friday

**Once again, we delve into the world of prompts! It’s been quite a while since we’ve done these, but we’ve decided to pick it back up again. So without further ado, I bring you a flash fic based on a very specific prompt. It was much more involved, but it boils down to someone needing space, an accident, and being there anyway. Enjoy!**

Moping.

That’s what he was doing. And he knew it. Jason picked up his phone for about the hundredth time that day, millionth time that week, to call Nick only to remember yet again that they were currently on a break.

Because Nick “needed space.” Whatever the fuck that meant.

A year ago, Jason would never have thought he’d have given his heart so fully to another man. He didn’t think he was capable of that kind of love. He’d made it to thirty-five without ever feeling the need to fully commit to someone. He was happy dating until they both got tired and moved on. But then he ran into Nick, literally, and his world changed.

Jason had been walking out of the coffee shop and Nick had been walking in. Only Nick wasn’t paying attention to what was going on, his gaze focused on the phone in his hand, and slammed right into Jason. Coffee covered them both, and embarrassment flooded Nick’s face. A replacement drink and an offer to pay Jason’s cleaning bill had somehow translated to an hour’s conversation. Which became a date. Which became a weekend in bed, and naked breakfast. They’d been inseparable ever since.

At least, Jason thought they had. Until Jason said the L word and suggested they finally move in together and Nick had paled and asked for the dreaded space. Which, of course, Jason gave him because there was nothing Nick could ask for that Jason wouldn’t give. And Jason spent the past week moping like a teenage girl because he wanted Nick with him. Not off doing…whatever the hell he was doing.

Jason tossed the phone down and sighed heavily, flopping back against the couch and rubbing his hands on his face. He really thought Nick would have called by now. Nick’s past relationships hadn’t been good, and one had been downright scary, so Jason understood his man’s need for caution. Ultimately, that was why Jason agreed to let Nick go for a bit. Not entirely, and he made that clear, but he knew if he pushed too hard, Nick would end things for good. At least this way he knew Nick would come back. But that didn’t stop him from wanting Nick right beside him, curled up in front of the fire, cozy and warm and together as the storm raged outside.

The snow had been falling for twenty-four hours, and the city had all but shut down. It would have been the perfect time to snuggle together and forget the rest of the world existed. Instead he was alone and missing Nick.

The phone rang, and Jason snapped it up the second he saw Nick’s sister’s name flash across the screen. Why in the hell was Amanda calling?

“Hello?”

“Oh my god, JJ!” Amanda’s voice was shrill and panicked. “He’s all banged up and they won’t let me back there and you have to come because I don’t know what’s going on and—”

“Whoa whoa, slow down.” Jason’s heart thudded in his chest and he stood fast. “What’s going on?”

“Nicky! He got caught in the storm and he crashed into a ditch and he was there for hours before someone found him.”

Jason was already running for the door. “Which hospital?” He hit the button on his key fob to start his car then started pulling on his boots, trying not to drop the phone.

Amanda told him and he assured her he’d be there as soon as he could. She urged him to be careful but she didn’t have to worry. Not only did he live on a main road and was only ten minutes from the hospital, but his truck was heavy and had all wheel drive.

Jason still drove with extreme caution, and the buildup of snow and ice meant it took more than thirty minutes to go six miles. He kept the panic at bay only because he needed to focus, and it would serve no one if he ended up in a ditch too. Fortunately, there was no one else on the roads, and though he had to go slowly, he made it without incident.

He found Amanda the moment he finally made it into the waiting room. She told him everything she knew at that point, which was very little, and then they sat huddled together, ignoring the TV. Eventually, after what seemed like hours, a doctor came in.

“He’s fine.” The doctor offered a warm smile. “Well, not fine. He has a couple of pretty serious contusions, a broken wrist, and a couple of bruised ribs. And even though he was out there for a couple of hours and was pretty hypothermic, he doesn’t have frostbite. We’ll keep him for a day or two, but he should make a full recovery with a little time and care.”

The relief flooded Jason and was so acute his knees actually went weak. The doctor told them they could head up to the sixth floor as Nick was being moved to a room as they spoke. Amanda and Jason were quick to head for the elevators. When they got there, Amanda insisted he go in first, that she would give them some time. Jason almost told her that he and Nick were technically on a break and Nick probably didn’t want to see him. But he needed to see with his own eyes that Nick was all right.

Jason quietly entered the room. Nick’s eyes were closed, and he seemed to be sleeping. There was a small bandage on his forehead, a cast on his wrist, and he was propped up a bit. Otherwise, he looked no worse for the wear. Jason’s heart pounded, and he was caught by indecision as he didn’t know whether he should step closer or leave altogether.

Nick’s eyes popped open, and he stared for a moment before he whispered, “What are you doing here?”

There was a squeezing pain in his chest, but Jason stood firm. He didn’t walk closer, didn’t take Nick’s uninjured hand like he wanted to, but he didn’t leave either.

“Amanda called,” he said softly, gaze roving all over Nick’s face. “Scared the shit out of me, hearing you’d been hurt.”

Nick closed his eyes and let out a sigh, then winced like even that hurt. “But we’re supposed to be taking time apart.”

“I know you need space, and I’ll leave. But goddamn, I needed to see you were all right.” Jason took an involuntary step forward, then caught himself. He fisted his hands so he didn’t reach out. “I love you. Remember that, okay?”

When Nick didn’t say anything, Jason let out a breath. Nick was okay. He was talking and the doctor said he’d make a full recovery. That was enough for now. He’d go back to the waiting room and hang out, check to make sure Amanda could get home safely, and then leave. He turned to go, and made it almost to the door before he heard it.

“Jason.” That’s it. Just his name. But it was the sweetest sound in the world. He turned back, and Nick offered him a shaky smile. “Stay.”

Jason was at Nick’s side in an instant, reaching out and taking Nick’s hand in his, being careful of the IV. Nick squeezed his fingers

“I was just scared, you know.” Nick’s voice was barely audible, and Jason leaned in closer. Jason didn’t have to ask to know what he was talking about. “Still am. But I could have died out there.”

Immediately, Jason saw where this was going. He bent his head and brushed his lips over Nick’s knuckles. “Now’s not the time to be making any decisions, baby. Just focus on healing, and then we’ll figure out us.”

“I think you’ve got us pretty well figured out all ready.” There was humor in Nick’s voice, and his lips quirked into a tiny smile.

“I do. And you’ll get there. I’ll wait.”

Nick relaxed, like that was exactly what he needed to hear, and a minute later, was fast asleep. Jason didn’t let go of his hand. He had no doubt they’d sort things out. He wouldn’t push, but now Nick knew he wasn’t going anywhere. Would really be there any time for anything.

Jason knew that was exactly what Nick needed. At least one good thing came out of this accident. If Jason had his say, it would be a tiny blip on their way to happily ever after. But as it was, it was enough for now.

Full Steam Ahead

This past year, Dreamspinner Press started releasing stories in the Dreamspun Desire line. Category romances ala Harlequin but for M/M. I thought it was a nifty idea, simply because that was the romance I grew up on. I’m sure I’ve shared this story before, but I’ll do so again.

My Oma subscribed to Harlequin, several different lines, and every month, she got several boxes filled with four paperback Harlequins. For a long time, I thought this was how romance was written. And I coveted those books. When I was far too young, I started stealing them. Yeah, that sounds awful. But Oma couldn’t share them with me because, as I said, I was really too young to be reading them. As was Sis, who is three years younger than I am. But we wanted them and so we devised a very sneaky plan to get them. We’d head over to Oma’s house with an empty backpack and we would hang out with her. But she took naps, of course she did. So I would hide around the corner, and Sis would “play” in the front room with an oversized truck. She’d drive it over to the box by Oma’s chair, where she was snoring away, slip a few books into the truck, and then drive it over to me. We never took too many, maybe 12 or 15, and then we’d play some more, hang out, before we eventually couldn’t stand it anymore and walked back home.

To this day, I still don’t know if Oma knew we took them or not. But probably she did.

Once we got home, we’d race up to my room and read all the blurbs, deciding which ones we wanted. We had a system of who got to pick first, and then we’d go back and forth until they were all gone. And then we’d devour our selections before switching. And then, when we were out of books, we’d go back and do it all again.

This was how I learned about romance, about tropes, about over the top feel good feels and finding your true love. Of course, they were all het, and mostly white, and lots of ridiculous, awesome tropes. But we loved it. And there are certain things we remember to this day, still quote at each other as our own private jokes.

But as I said, this is what I thought romance was, and it was my goal to write one.

As I grew up and saw the whole world of romance before me, saw so many other stories out there that weren’t category romances, I expanded my horizons. I bought romance in droves, though I also learned of paranormal with a romance plot. So many books, so little time.

And I still wanted to write one. Did, in fact, write several. On paper with pens, just to get the stories out of my head.

Six or seven years ago, I finally stumbled on M/M romance, and I began to devour that. This is where I finally found my fit, my niche, where the stories really came alive. This was where I finally wrote a story I felt was worth publishing, or at least trying, and I’ve been doing it for more than three years now.

But I never lost the soft spot in my heart for category romances.

When Dreamspinner first announced the Dreamspun Desire line, I had a thought that perhaps, I’d write one. But I couldn’t quite get the tropey goodness that was a category romance to coalesce in my head. Which was fine. Because I was still writing my stories, and I could include some tropes.

But then, DsP expanded the Dreamspun line to include Beyond and Undercover. Undercover is mysteries and crimes, and sounds delicious. But Beyond? Contemporary paranormal? That right there is my true crack.

I’d long had the idea for Ghostwalker, and even began writing it at one point, though it didn’t solidify properly and went by the wayside. When I saw the call for this new line, my brain went into overdrive, bringing up this idea. Reminding me of all it could be. And changing it to what it should be. I put together a mini proposal and sent it in to see if DsP would be interested in the story. I started writing it, sent in my beginning, and waited to hear if it was right for the line or not.

Yesterday, I got the go ahead.

So it’s full steam ahead, all focus on, ready to go.

It’s both thrilling and scary to have a story requested by the publisher. Thrilling because they think that my boys and their story is right for the line, and that’s exhilarating. (Though by no means does it mean that they will contract the book.) Scary because there’s an expectation to meet, and I only have 20% of the story written at this point. But I get to include some of my very favorite tropes–like bonds and forced proximity and lust at first sight–with a different twist on ghosts and the spirit realm.

I’m excited about writing this one, even as I psych myself out, and I know I’ll have a blast writing it. I have a deadline and a word count to meet, and I’ll need to put on my very best author hat to get it accomplished. But I’m so looking forward to it.

And I hope you will too.

Flash Fic Friday

**One last time with Travis and Noah. A little follow up. Enjoy!**

I glanced over at Travis as we worked, keeping an eye on him. He’d been strangely quiet for the last few hours, and he kept touching the ring on his left hand. Even though he hadn’t taken it off since I’d put it on his finger Christmas Eve, he hadn’t gotten used to it in the past week and a half. Or maybe it was something more than that. Maybe he was having second thoughts. I knew he loved me to the depths of his soul, had for a long time, but that didn’t mean he was ready for this step, right?

Okay, I knew that was foolish. From all the conversations we had, Travis had been ready to marry me for years. He was just waiting for me to get to that place. I finally got there a couple of months ago, but I wanted to make a spectacle of it, wanted to replace the bad memories of last Christmas Eve with much better ones. The best ones.

But he was quiet in a way he never was, and he kept pausing to fiddle with his ring, and I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Sweetheart?” I kept my voice soft because he was lost in thought, and holding the crystal star from the top of the tree, and I didn’t want to startle him. But he looked up immediately, question in those beautiful blue eyes. “You having second thoughts?”

His brow creased in confusion, and I fought to keep the smile off my face. Instead, I pointedly glanced down at his hands, where his right fingers were fiddling with that ring again. Even though I knew that wasn’t the case, I’d deliberately asked it so he’d get cranky and share what was really going on in his head. After half a lifetime together, even though we’d spent most of that as friend, I knew my man, and I knew the quickest way to get to the heart of things.

It took him a second to catch my meaning, but as soon as he did, he dropped his hands and scowled hard at me. “No. Don’t be stupid. Of course I’m not having second thoughts. What kind of fucking question is that?”

I tucked the garland I was holding away in the box and stepped closer, reaching out. Travis immediately put the star down and pulled me into his arms. I settled in with a sigh. We fit so well together, and it always felt exactly right to be snuggled in his arms. He squeezed me tightly, kissed the side of my head, then smacked my shoulder as he let me go.

“What the hell, Noah?”

I laughed a little then, and bumped him with my hip. “You’re quiet. Keep messing with your ring. I have to wonder.”

He looked me straight in the eye. “No you don’t. Not ever. Right?”

I grinned then. As soon as we were done, I was going to bend that man over the couch and take him hard. “Right. So. What’s up?”

Travis stilled for a moment, then shrugged, and went back to unwrapping the lights from the tree. “I hate undecorating. It’s depressing.”

“Undecorating?” I snorted out a laugh.

“Shut up.” He cracked a tiny smile as he wound the lights carefully around his arm so they wouldn’t tangle up in storage. “Just, you know. Christmas decorating, having you here with me. I’ve wanted that for so long. So taking it all down…kinda sad.”

I didn’t bother to point out that he was being sappy. I liked it when he got that way. “Yeah. True. Except we’re going to have a lifetime of Christmases. So taking it down is fine, right? Because we’re just going to put it all up again in a eleven months. Over and over again. For the next fifty years.”

Travis’s eyes went dark, love and lust making his pupils dilate. “Only fifty?”

I shrugged one shoulder. “After that, our grandkids will do it for us.”

It had been exactly the right thing to say. Travis’s gaze was so filled with love I nearly dropped to my knees. And then, while I was down there, I’d drag him close and blow him. He knew exactly what I was thinking, because he always did, and his expression turned wicked.

“I love you, baby,” he said with a soft voice. And then it turned as filthy as his gaze. “Last one in the bedroom gets to bottom.”

I took off, knowing he was trailing behind. As usual, we were right there in sync, both of us wanting opposite roles. We very rarely, if ever, had an issue where that was concerned.

As soon as he crossed the threshold, I grabbed him, pulled him into me and lifted up so I could kiss him breathless. When we pulled apart, he panted breathlessly against my lips, pupils blown and dick pressing hard into my abdomen. “I love you too. Forever and always. Strip and get on the bed.”

He laughed and did as I asked, and I grinned as I got naked too. I had no doubt we’d have this for the rest of our lives.

The New Year

So yeah. Onward, right? Only way to move is forward.

So that’s what I shall do.

I’m waiting to hear on a few things. And I hate waiting. Waiting is really hard. And I’m also no good at it at all.

Writing is at a little bit of a standstill until I hear back on one of the things. Basically, I’ll find out if Ghostwalker has a deadline or not. If it does, then I need to write my butt off. If it doesn’t, then I can go at it at a more leisurely pace. And don’t have to worry about word count. Either way works just fine for me, but until I know for sure, I haven’t made much progress on it. Other than taking notes and continuing to plot. Which is good, because that needs to get done as well.

I have a few other plot bunnies and some thoughts about what I want to work on after. I’ve been going at a pretty good clip since this summer, when I finally got into the groove for Something Like Want. While part of me wouldn’t mind a break, I mostly want to keep that momentum going. This is the first time since August I haven’t had the next thing riding me to get my current story done, and that feels good. But it’s certainly not for lack of ideas. I have plenty of those.

I don’t make resolutions, because that’s a sure way for me to fail. But I do set goals, things I aim toward. The big things for me are more words on the page and not taking so much down time, both between projects and during writing sprints. I know the way I work best, and I’ve embraced that in the last year. But while I need to take a little breather time between projects, and even while I’m working on them, I need to get better at bouncing back and moving on. So that’s my goal for this year, so I can bring you more stories this year and next.

Watch this space for news.

I hope the new year treats you well, and that you find joy wherever you can.