My Brother’s Idea

Out of all my siblings, my younger brother Joe and I are the most alike. Even though there are four years between us, we have plenty to talk about. And one of those things is writing. Mostly my writing, and I tell him about all the thing going on with my current story and then get mad when he tries to “rewrite” it the way he likes. But it’s a playful game, and often in the discussing, he helps me work out a sticking point. Or, because of his ramblings, I know EXACTLY what I don’t want to do. Either way, it’s usually constructive.

A dozen years or more ago, he told me about this idea he had. A man who continually dies so that he can help lost souls cross over. It’s his job. He goes to work to be killed, in a very particular way, and then goes about his business. That was about as much as he had at the time, a few other salient details, but nothing more. But it’s stuck with me all this time. The idea, the mental image he created when he told me about it, and I’ve thought about it on and off for years.

Last year (or was it the year before?) I asked him if I could have it. Because I could think of what came next, and how things would progress, and even though I was certain it was nothing like what he would have written, I wanted to steal his base idea. With permission, of course.

He gave it.

So I started writing it, though it failed immediately. I didn’t have all the details down the way I wanted, and I shelved it. And there it sat for a good long while, until I saw the Dreamspun Beyond call and just knew I had the right story for it.

Joe’s base idea is still the same: A man goes to work to be killed, over and over, to help lost souls cross over. But the rest is all mine.

All fifty thousand plus words of it.

And it’s done.

After some very focused writing days, a lot of encouragement and cheerleading, it’s done. And I’m proud of it and I love it. And there’s still work to be done, tweaking and fixing and polishing. But it’s done.

*collapses*

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Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt: a road trip and a discovery. Enjoy!**

“I got the snacks!”

I chuckled over Jake’s enthusiasm. He was more excited about the trip than I was, but he loved to drive, and three days on the open road as we transversed the country sounded like heaven to him.Me? I wasn’t quite as excited as my best friend, but his eagerness more than made up for it. I was only doing this for him anyway. His grandmother’s ninetieth birthday could not be missed, and Jake decided to turn it into a vacation. Three days to drive there, three days to hang out and celebrate, and three days back. I still wasn’t sure how he’d talked me into going with him, but Jake was persuasive in the best of times. When there was something he really wanted? I couldn’t even try to stand in his way.

“Get a move on!” Jake called over the top of his car. I laughed again, and pushed off from the door. I turned and locked it, and then jogged down the steps with my bag slung over my shoulder. Jake popped the trunk, and I dropped the bag inside, then slammed it shut. Jake winced.

“Careful with her, now.”

I refrained from pointing out that the car was actually an inanimate object, and didn’t have feelings. But Jake was overly attached to his car, and I knew it. I patted the trunk consolingly, then climbed into passenger side. Jake shot me a huge grin.

“Thanks for coming with me. It means a lot to me.”

“Of course, Jake.” He’d been my best friend ever since he and his mother moved in next to my family. We’d been barely old enough to walk. And the past thirty years we’d been inseparable. He wanted me to go, of course I would.

He was my world

He pulled out onto the street and pointed the car toward the highway. Thirty minutes later, we were cruising the interstate at only a slightly higher speed than the limit. Jake turned up the volume on his music, classic rock, and I settled back, letting his smooth baritone wash over me, as the rhythmic whir of the tires on pavement lulled me. I wasn’t asleep, for all that it was seven o’clock in the morning, but I was soothed by the whole thing.

We rode like that for hours, occasionally making conversation, or pointing out a bit of interesting landscape, but mostly riding in comfortable silence. Jake ate like a machine, and I passed over his snacks as he wanted, whatever he was hungry for. We passed the day like that, him behind the wheel, me helping him navigate. Which, when I thought about it, was pretty much how we lived our lives. Eventually, the sun had slunk below the horizon, and Jake’s eyes began to droop.

“Maybe we should stop for the night, huh? Get some dinner?”

Finding a hotel was easy, and they had plenty of rooms available. I went to reserve two, but Jake’s face fell and he bumped me with his hip. “No need to waste the money, yeah?”

I turned to the clerk. “One room with two queens please.”

Upstairs in our room, Jake investigated everything, and found a nearby restaurant in the little book on the bedside table. It looked good to me, so I agreed. Jake wanted a shower first and I turned on the TV to find something to watch while I waited for him to be ready.

“Can you grab my bag of stuff out of my bag?” he shouted.

I rolled my eyes, chuckling as I pushed off the bed. It was a good thing I’d long ago become fluent in Jake-speak. I put his bag on the bed, then unzipped the duffel and sifted through the content until I found his toiletries bag. I shoved aside t-shirts, and there at the bottom was the bag. As well as a rope bracelet. My heart started to pound. The piece of hemp was worn and frayed, but still whole. I’d given him that when we were eight, and I’d learned how to tie sliding knot.

Why did he still have it? And more importantly, why did he pack it in his bag? He wasn’t an overly sentimental guy. So why did he have this piece of our childhood and why was he carrying it with him.

“Hey!”

I startled, then took his bag into the bathroom, dropping it onto the closed toilet lid without look at him and heading back into the room. I told myself to put the bracelet back away and pretend I didn’t know about it, but I couldn’t stop staring.

I was still holding it in my hand when Jake emerged from the bathroom.

He caught sight of me and froze. Then he gave me a lopsided, nervous grin. “So. Uh. I see you discovered my secret.”

I shook my head, holding it up. “Jake? I… uh?”

He smiled. “I don’t go anywhere without it. That’s the moment I knew I…” He looked scared for a second. Then cleared his throat. “The moment I fell in love and lost my heart. To you.”

“You never said anything,” I whispered.

“How could I? But, you know, you have the proof of it in your hand so…” He blew out a breath. “Luke?”

I walked forward, and he sucked in a breath. When I was right in his space, took his hand in mind and slipped the bracelet onto wrist. It barely fit, even extended all the way. But I managed to get it on, and in the process, I felt like I marked him as mine. Just as I had all those years ago.

I grinned. He grinned back. And then I noticed what he was wearing. I rolled my eyes, and nudged him toward his bag. “Get dressed. I believe we have things to discuss.”

He sighed, and kissed my temple as he walked by. “I guess we do.”

 

Down with the Sickness

Behind on my word count, I had a plan. And because I had a plan, it didn’t work out like I wanted.

I felt the sickness creeping up late last week. I refused to give into it. I got immunity boosters and slept well. I wasn’t going to let it take me.

It got me anyway.

I woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat and a general ickiness that couldn’t be ignored. I tried to. Of course I did. Hot tea and some cold meds, I tried to push through. I didn’t quite succeed. Friday night I got a few words in, and I got a few more in on Saturday. But nowhere near where I wanted for the weekend. And I started to panic a little, because the deadline was looming, and I really, really needed to make some progress.

Sunday, however, dawned a bright new day.

Apparently my immune system is stronger than I thought, and while I wasn’t at 100%, I felt much better than I did on Saturday.

So I sat down to write.

I wrote.

And wrote.

And wrote.

And wrote.

I had a loose goal of 15k by the end of the weekend. That would be some solid, good progress by the end, would get me passed the halfway mark and I’d start to breathe easier. But I didn’t write 15k words.

I wrote 22 thousand words.

Twenty. Two. Thousand.

I was worried I wouldn’t have enough story to make the 50k minimum. I was sure by the end, I’d have to go back and fill in more words, expand scenes and even add some new ones. That’s always a little trying for me, as I find it difficult to fill in. I’m a linear writer, and I need to write in order. So thinking of things I missed before is very hard for me.

But I don’t have that worry now. I have about ten thousand words left to reach the minimum, and at least that, if not more, left in plot. Ghostwalker is nearing the end. And while I’m anxious to get there, I’m reluctant to let it go. This story has been a long time coming, and I love Blake and Derek.

I’m hoping I’ll have it done by the end of the month. Then I have plenty of time to tweak and polish, before I have to send it in. I’m looking forward to it.

Flash Fic Friday

**The prompt was simple this week: Tom bails Greg out of jail. Enjoy!**

Tom watched as Greg collected his belongings. Keys, phone, wallet, pink hat with the pointy ears. Greg made sure he took possession of each item before signing the form the booking sergeant held out. He signed a few more forms, and Tom stood by, not saying a word until Greg was finished. Then Greg walked toward Tom, and just as Greg opened his mouth, Tom turned and headed out of the precinct. He didn’t have to look to know Greg was following behind him.

Silently, they made their way down the long parking lot to the car. Without a word, Tom got into the driver’s side and stared straight ahead, waiting for Greg to get in as well.

“Tommy, I’m sorry.”

Tom blew out a breath, spared a glance at Greg, before he started the car and got into motion.

“I can’t not protest, Tommy.” Greg’s voice was low and urgent. “I have to keep speaking out. I can’t be quiet. We can’t be quiet. That’s the only way anything will change.”

“I know, Greg.” Tommy turned onto a quiet street, wending his way toward home. “And I love how vocal you are. How hard you fight. It’s one of the things I’ve always admired about you. And if I hadn’t been on shift, I would have been right there with you.”

“I know! So what is with you? I said I was sorry.”

“I’m not mad.”

A beat of silence. “Really?” Disbelief laced Greg’s voice. “Because you haven’t said a single word to me since I called you for bail.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t love getting up in the middle of the night to bail my husband out of jail.” Tom shook his head. He reached out and grabbed Greg’s hand, squeezing his fingers. “I get it babe. I do. Of course I wish you hadn’t gotten arrested. But I’m not mad. Because if you don’t speak up, then who will?”

The tension melted from Greg’s shoulders, and he exhaled heavily, settling back in the seat. Tom refocused on the road, but he kept glancing at his husband. The man was beautiful, if tired and disheveled. And the pink hat looked good with his dark hair.

“You’re going to keep speaking out, and I love you for that. You have a voice when so many others don’t. But honey? Please can you try not to get arrested again? Bail money aside, coming to get you, I worry what could happen and…” Tom’s gut clenched as his mind raced with all the possibilities.

“Yeah,” Greg said quickly, soothingly. “Of course. I’ll do my damnedest. And pretty soon? Pretty soon all this protesting, speaking out, constantly barraging them, they’ll learn. They’ll learn we aren’t going to get tired and give up. That we aren’t going to go away. We’ll make a difference.”

Tom nodded. He wanted exactly that. Though he didn’t have the unwavering faith his husband had, he still held onto hope.

Pulling into their driveway just as the sun lightened the sky, Tom wearily exited the car and pulled Greg in close when the man pushed into his space. Maybe not the most pleasant way Tom had ever spent the night. But it was worth it. Important. He wasn’t in the position to do it himself, but he loved Greg with all that he was. He would support the man in everything he did.

Even bailing him out of jail.

News!

Coming in April from JMS Books… Enchanted Love!

Okay, I’ve talked about it a few times in vague terms, but Enchanted Love is the story of Eli and Chase. Chase sweeps Eli off his feet, and they fit together perfectly. There’s no angst here. Just two guys who find each other at the right time and settle into their happily ever after. It’s a happy little love story. And I adore it. Specific details when I have them, but watch this space for news. I’m super excited about sharing it with you, and I’ll be sure to share details as soon as I have them.

Ghostwalker is almost to the halfway point, both in words and in plot. It really should be farther along than it is, and I’m definitely in a time crunch. I got inside my own head about a few things, and let myself focus on other endeavors for a bit. But I’m not worried. At least, no more than usual that is. The good news is I know exactly where the rest of the story is going, and half the major plot points written out in bullet points. I’ll have to dig in and really get some words on the page. I see another sequester in my near future. And really, when I set aside that kind of time and really focus, I can get a lot of words on the page. I think the most I’ve ever written in a 24 hour period was 12k, because I had to sleep at some point, but my average is more like 7-10k. I want to get this done by the end of the month so I have time to tweak and polish, but fortunately I have some weekend days and quite a few nights. So I’m confident I can get it done.

But in the meantime, enjoy Valentine’s Day! Whether it be with your special someone or someones. Or with a good book and a glass of wine.

heart-health-red-wine-3000x2250

 

Flash Fic Friday

**A Valentine’s Day prompt this week! Evan thinks the box of sweets is from his work BFF to cheer him up after a recent breakup…but is it? Enjoy!**

Evan wasn’t really big on celebrating Valentine’s Day himself, but he enjoyed all the red and pink decorations, and he liked seeing couples in love. All that gave him hope that one day he would find the same. He’d take hope wherever he could find it these days. Since Christmas, since that moment when Lou had walked out, he’d had little hope.

Evan shook his head and resumed his walk. Sure, after the fact he’d realized how much better off he was without Lou. It hadn’t been as amazing as he thought it had. But it had taken it quite a while to get to this point, because he’d been certain Lou was it. His forever. And now he was thirty-seven and alone again.

That was more than a little depressing, and even more so when he thought about his age in conjunction. Evan knew from a young age he was the settling down type. In all his fantasies, he had imagined being settled long before now. But that hadn’t happened. Reality was different.

It had taken a lot of tears, soul searching, and one ritual burning, but he was okay now. Most of the time anyway. Evan pushed it all aside as he got to his corner cubicle. He had the office luncheon to look forward to later, and the quiet chatter that filled the floor seemed happy and upbeat. It was a good day, and Evan resolutely refused to let those morose thoughts ruin the mood.

The dark mood that threatened abruptly vanished when Evan got to his desk. Because right there in the center of his previously spotless desk was a red, heart shaped box. The satin bow was a nice touch.  No card, but Evan didn’t need one. He knew who the present was from. A grin stretched his mouth, and he lifted the lid to sample one of the smooth, milk chocolate confections inside. He gave a tiny moan as it melted on his tongue, then slid his jacket off and hung it up.

“Whatcha got there?” Joanie’s melodic voice sounded behind Evan, and he turned as his smile grew. He burst out laughing when he saw his work best friend wearing a headband with heart-topped antennae.

“Like you don’t know.” He leaned down and kissed her cheek. “Thanks, Joanie B. The chocolates made my day.”

She glanced at the desk, and then back up at Evan’s face. “I didn’t get them for you.”

“Yeah, right.” Evan chuckled as he sat.

“Evan.” Joanie stared right at him. “I’m telling you. I didn’t. I made the red velvet cupcakes you like for the potluck because I knew they would cheer you up. But the candy is not from me.”

Evan sat up straighter and really studied her. Joanie was the greatest friend, and he wouldn’t put it past her to do something exactly like this. She would think it was the best way to cheer him up. But Joanie also didn’t lie, and she was very serious. It took a second for everything to process. Just about the time Evan decided she was telling the truth was the moment Joanie figured out what was going on.

“There’s no card or note?” Joanie’s eyes lit up as he shook his head, and her voice dropped. “You have a secret admirer!”

Rolling his eyes, Evan shooed her away. “I don’t. Stop it. I’m sure there’s an explanation. I can’t be the only one who got one.”

Joanie opened her mouth but Evan shut it down with another firm dismissive motion.

“Go to work,” he told her.

She went.

***

It was three hours later when the heart antennae appeared over the top of the cubicle wall seconds before Joanie’s  beaming face.

“No one else got one. I checked. You have a secret admirer.”

“Go away,” Evan said, purposefully ignoring her sing-song voice. She frowned before she disappeared again.

Once she was gone, Evan let himself grin. Someone liked him enough to leave him chocolates. He wouldn’t go so far as to think he actually had a secret admirer. But it was nice to think of nonetheless.

The smile stayed on his face the rest of the day.

***

It was after six before Evan finally finished what he was working on and was able to pack up for the day. He went through the methodical process of shutting down his computers and putting away his things. He snapped off his desk lamp, and then stood to shrug on his jacket. His eyes fell on the now half empty heart.

That had really made his day.

After a moment’s debate, Evan decided he was taking the chocolates home. He’d been going to lock them in the drawer and have more again tomorrow. But he thought he’d rather have them this evening with a glass of wine, remembering the feeling he had when he saw them. He tucked them into his messenger bag, slung it over his shoulder, and headed out.

At the elevators, Evan ran into Lucas, one of the managers in a neighboring department. Evan admired Lucas’s confident, take charge attitude. He also enjoyed the way the man filled out a suit, and the bright smile he always gave Evan. Lucas was definitely the stuff Evan was happy to fantasize about.

The elevator arrived before they could do much more than exchange greetings. Lucas stepped back and allowed Evan to enter first, and Evan hit the button for the bottom floor. Lucas offered him a small smile, little more than a smirk.

“How did you enjoy your chocolate?”

Evan gave a tiny moan of happiness. “They are unbelievably good. I…wait. How did you know about that? Did Joanie ask everybody in the whole company?”

Lucas shook his head, and his grin grew heated. “No. But I was hoping you would enjoy them when I picked them out.”

Evan opened his mouth to speak, but he couldn’t manage to make a single sound. It’d been a gift from Lucas? How was that possible?

The elevator dinged, and Lucas stepped into Evan’s space, putting a hand on the small of his back and steering him out into the garage. Evan could smell Lucas, the hint of spice and fabric starch, and he nearly moaned at the heat the man was giving off.

“How about dinner? I have reservations. And I can tell you all about how I’ve been plotting this for weeks. Ever since I heard you were no longer with your boyfriend and I could see you were healing.” Lucas leaned down, and skimmed his nose against Evan’s cheek, making him shudder. “And you can tell me if you want to pursue this after dinner?”

Evan swallowed, smiled, and nodded. This was already turning out to be one of the most romantic Valentine’s Day Evan had ever had. And the promise in Lucas’s voice, and the heat in his eyes, assured Evan it was about to get even better.

A Shift

So, I wrote Enchanted Love for a sub call, and come to find out, after a lot of deliberation apparently, the publisher has decided to discontinue that particular collection. It was a surprise, actually. And I never expected that to happen. Not to mention, I really didn’t expect to get that answer after they had the MS for so long. So I was particularly shocked, and it took me a bit to absorb it.

It wasn’t a rejection by any means. The publisher didn’t even really review it. The collection isn’t being put out this year, so my story was once again mine to do with as I wished. And even though it wasn’t a rejection, it felt like it a bit. So I had to readjust my thinking. Decide what to do next.

And there were definitely options, choices to make. It took a little thought and discussion, some back and forth with a couple of friends, before I decided on trying a different publisher.

Details coming soon when they are confirmed, but I believe I’ve found a home for it! I’m excited because I love this story. It’s sweet and fluffy and there’s  little self-indulgent bits and Eli and Chase are just so freaking adorable. It’s just a feel good story, one that I love, and I’m can’t wait to bring it to you.

So watch this space for details. I’ll post them as soon as I can.

In the mean time, I hope you look forward to a happy short story that’s all about the good feels. 🙂