shitt’s creek

My newest obsession is Schitt’s Creek, which has been on my Netflix watch-list literally since I got Netflix. It’s been so long that actually watching it marks the end of era as the show will never again be that thing I want to watch but have never seen. But that’s okay. It’s really freaking good.

I am now going to gush about the show a little, which I have given myself permission to do because I also found a way to relate it back to books.

Premise: Schitt’s Creek is one of those riches to rags stories about a wealthy  family who loses everything and has to start over. Which feels like a trope even though the only other show I can think of like it with a similar premise is Arrested Development.

Schitt’s Creek is the name of the town the Rose family starts over in, and Schitt is the name of the town’s founders, and their descendants still live in the town. It’s also ‘shit’ with an extra ‘t’, duh, but that apparently makes it appropriate enough to display with no censorship at all, which I think is really cool.

Why it’s awesome: Everything everyone says is hilarious, or the way they say it is what makes it fantastic, and I adore stories about terrible, selfish people learning to be a little less self-centered, preferably while still being endearingly terrible.

Also, duh, there’s queer characters! Awesome queer characters too. Even though it took me forever to start watching, usually the quickest way I start a book or show is: Do I have a mild interest? Are there gay people? If the answer to both is yes, I’m totally there.

My darlings:

Alexis, the adventurous free spirit. She also has hella style game, and she’s gorgeous. I would love to say I’m more like her, but I’m not.

David is who I uncomfortably identify with. He’s a worried over-thinker who is moody and obnoxious with an acerbic wit that is usually not appreciated. P.S. yay for pansexuality. In terms of growth and personal story, I prefer Alexis’ arc better. But David has the best romance.

Books!

Okay, now after being a loser about a TV show I love, here is a quote from One Little Word about being chill and not a weirdo.

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College Admissions, but in a fun way!

Talking about anything in the world? Super easy, I will do that even if not asked. Talking about myself? Not my favorite thing. Especially if I have to say nice things about me. My self esteem isn’t terrible, but boasting about yourself is just awk. So I’m pretty sure I hated writing college admissions essays.

But college essays written by the Stranger Things kids? I’m so there. I also enjoyed these because ‘freaking out about college’ is half the plot of One Step Forward. The real college application process is stressful as hell but fun when fictionalized.

My favorite character in general is Steve. And that he used a dictionary definition in his essay is objectively hilarious and perfect. I also enjoyed it because I had the character Luke do the same thing and they are both sweet, un-creative confused bisexual disasters.

I have one friend who also loves Stranger Things and we were at trivia the week after the third season aired. I asked what he thought about the latest episodes, and he looked at me and said, “You can’t spell America without Erica.” Which might be the best response to anything ever. So this is my way of saying that Erica’s essay was also awesome.

Acting is as hard as having a fake boyfriend.

Putting on a production worthy of the stage, Ryan and Luke are fake boyfriends acting in a very weird show for dubious personal gain. And they’re actually really bad at acting, but since I’m tying this into the theater it sounded better to say they were stage worthy.  No, it still works. A comedy of errors is a thing, so that’s what they are.

It only now occurs to me that I don’t actually have to reference the theater because this story takes place after the characters see a play, but it is, you know, after that. So fake boyfriends Ryan and Luke are at an after party where Luke thinks thoughts.

While I wouldn’t say Luke was straight until Ryan came into his life, I would say he had no idea liking guys was an option for him until, well, not this part. He still doesn’t know that, but it’s helpful information to know to avoid being as confused as him.

So Luke is at a party and nothing makes sense, which is par for the course of his life lately. This scene is sort of in the book One Little Word, but this is a different version.

Luke

I expected Zach to watch the spectacle of me and Ryan like it was quality entertainment. I wasn’t even surprised when he brought microwave popcorn to lunch one day, the perfect snack while he watched the show. He was around laughing at my expense, but I secretly appreciated that.

Zach and Joey knew this wasn’t real, hell half the school probably believed the true rumor Alicia and Lydia started, but they didn’t know for sure. It helped that Zach did, that there was someone who knew it wasn’t like that and treated me just the same, like I was there to amuse him.

So while him being a total jerk comforted me in one sense, I also appreciated a break from Zach at the play. The theater wasn’t what he considered quality entertainment. Ryan and I hadn’t really gone together, but Lydia didn’t respond to my texts, so the two of us technically went together.

I had to figure out a way to get Lydia while pretending to be with Ryan. I was meeting with the scholarship guys, I would get on their radar, and hopefully things would go from there. They wouldn’t have to know I was dating Lydia; I was getting good at hiding things.

No, that was being unfair. To myself. Maybe I was having a conscience. I had no time for anything pesky like that. My family wasn’t rich, so I needed scholarships as much as anyone. And I was an ally, I was part of that whole LGBT+ thing, right? So, I counted. I knew this should be wrong. Why didn’t I feel that guilty about it?

This was the perfect time to make something happen with Lydia, but I ended up babysitting Ryan.

Maybe that wasn’t fair. He was normally pretty entertaining, but he was hilarious when drunk. I’d get distracted and turn back to Lydia, but Alicia was keeping her company, so I’d make sure Ryan didn’t accidentally kill himself somehow. He broke his leg totally sober, so it could happen.

Lydia and Alicia were giggling about something on one side of me, and Ryan’s head fell on my shoulder. We were supposed to be dating, so I let it happen, but the moment felt weirdly intimate as a slower song started to play.

Well, it felt weirdly intimate for a second or two, until a third wheel stood in front of us.

“Zach!” Ryan yelled right in my ear, the full force of that dopey drunk grin now turned on my best friend.

What was he doing here? “You didn’t even come to the show,” I pointed out.

“Gross,” he said. Then he nodded to Alicia. “No offense.”

“I had to sit through a baseball game for these two.” She gestured to me and Ryan. “I totally get it.”

“That’s like a party foul,” I insisted.

“I brought booze,” Zach added, holding up a dark-colored bottle of something he purchased with his fake I.D. It wasn’t like he could steal liquor from his house. Oh yeah.

He really should know this, but in case he didn’t, I informed him, “Muslims aren’t supposed to drink.”

He sent me an incredulous look. “No one here is supposed to drink. We’re all minors.”

So as I understood it, “That makes you, like, double wrong.”

“Ignore him,” Lydia said to my best friend while keeping her eyes on the alcohol. “You’re totally welcome.”

 

Being friends with your boyfriend is important. Maybe.

Luke Chambers is captain of the baseball team as a junior. That’s pretty cool. Starting with a positive is better than not starting with a positive, because of science, so that’s the good part. His personal life is a lot more complicated due to his grumpy boyfriend.

Wait, he’s straight. His boyfriend is not straight, but that’s okay because Ryan is actually his “boyfriend.” They get along really well, if you say it like this: Ryan and Luke get along “really well.” While that is not the biggest problem in Luke’s life right now, he thinks it’s the only issue he can solve.

So in this scene from the new edition of One Little Word, Luke is trying to smooth over the animosity between them so they can be friends. You cannot say it like this: Ryan and Luke are going to “be friends.” Because when put like that, it sounds like they won’t really be friends but are something else instead, it’s almost suggestive, and that is very bad.

~

Luke

I drove Ryan home after my baseball game.

“Can we at least try to get to know each other?” I asked. Might as well take this opportunity to clear the air while he can’t run away.

“What’s the point of making nice? You’re just using me to get out of trouble.” Ryan spoke while staring out the window, wanting to ignore me as much as possible.

“Well, have you ever heard about making the best of a bad situation?”

“Yeah, it’s called high school and I do that every day. Though you’re making it especially challenging lately.”

“Maybe you’d have a better time if you weren’t so busy trying to embarrass me,” I reasoned with more patience than I felt.

“That’s the only good part.”

I reminded myself I wanted to make peace. “If we tried, maybe we’d get along. Who knows what we have in common?”

“Nothing,” he responded immediately.

Patience wearing thin, I snapped, “How would you know if you never stop for two seconds to find out?”

“Let’s see, I enjoy microbiology, hot guys, and embarrassing straight jocks with big mouths. How many of those interests do we share?”

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There was no need to answer. I obviously wasn’t a fan of the last thing, and science confused me and wasn’t my best subject.

“I don’t understand why you have to make this so difficult,” I said instead. “Why even do this?”

“For my dad.”

“Even though you clearly hate me and spending time with me?”

“Duh.”

Which wasn’t a great answer for me, but I stopped being annoyed with him. He lived to torment me, yet now I remembered he didn’t hate everything. He really cared about his dad.

“Well, I appreciate what you’re doing for me,” I told him with as much sincerity as I could.

“Does baseball lead to brain damage? I told you, it’s not for y—”

“I’m still grateful. Did I ever thank you? Thank you, you’re a good son.”

~

 

Luke OLW

Here is some writing and art about Luke Chambers from One Little Word. This is part of my series of posts celebrating the new edition of the book. Yay!

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Luke

On the pitcher’s mound with all eyes on me, I can handle heavy hitters, fastballs, anything. Real life is different. And dumb jocks like me aren’t known for being good with words. When some careless remarks heard by the wrong ears land me in big trouble, I panicked as my easy life turned anything but.

Being Luke Chambers means guys want to be me and girls want to date me. I never considered guys could want to date me too. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because, as crazy as it sounds, there’s only one way to prevent disaster: I need a boyfriend.

Out of the fire and into… a gay relationship. My pretend romance with Ryan Miller may look like puppy love, but his real feelings for me seem closer to pure hatred. The guy showed up to one of my games in a cheerleading outfit for girls just to humiliate me. It worked. He challenges me on everything, even something as unimportant as a game of ring toss.

I didn’t think life could get crazier than having a fake boyfriend. Then I started liking him.

Ryan is more challenging than Algebra II, yet a million times more interesting. Making him laugh is like hitting an out of the park home run. His hand in mine… there’s no comparison, I’ve never felt anything like this before.

Being out and proud isn’t the easiest thing in a small town like this, but it doesn’t stop Ryan from wanting something real. I don’t blame him. Pretending with him has started to feel more real than anything else in my life. That doesn’t make admitting my feelings easy. I’m not sure I can give Ryan what he needs… but someone else is willing to try.

If I don’t figure this out soon, I might lose Ryan Miller before he was ever really mine.

 

That Moment When…

For a second, I thought I threw in a casual reference to another gay YA novel with my title but then I realized it’s actually That Feeling When.

Okay, I’m calling this ‘that moment when you’re reading a romance book and you know things  the main character doesn’t, so you yell helpful stuff at them like they can hear you.’ This is from The Forbidden by Dante Cullen.

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Because you’re going to fall in love! Duh.

Since this reminds me of a graphic I made for One Little Word, I’m going to post it too.

 

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Because you lovvvvvve him. Or actually, it’s more because Ryan is really annoying and you also have a crush on him. Close enough.

One Little Word in three little words (that’s not confusing at all)

Okay, since I re-released One Little Word I have some artwork to post to celebrate the new edition that I’m sharing in a somewhat timely manner, so that’s cool. I feel like I should throw in some keywords here, so the novel is a young adult gay romance about fake boyfriend shenanigans involving a jock and nerd. Was that too many keywords? I’m going to say no.

I’m reasonably sure this is a quote from the book, and it’s also a great summary of the series as a whole.

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Can jazz hands be sarcastic? I’ve decided the answer is yes.

Flirting in cars with boys

And now for a scene from a first date. This is from One Little Word.

Helpful information: Our plucky protagonist Ryan is determined to have a good time with cool, cocky Zach despite Ryan being a giant loser who happens to have a black eye. He also has a fake boyfriend, so it’s hard to say which of those things will be a bigger hindrance. (It’s totally the fake boyfriend.)

~

Ryan

owlflatThe vehicle was old but not worn down, more vintage. A red sports car that wasn’t too flashy for a town like this as it was retro but still fit Zach’s personality.

“None of this was what I expected when I tried to imagine dating in this town,” I admitted while buckling my seat belt.

“Having a fake boyfriend and a real date?”

“Yeah, I imagined more sneaking around.” Not that I was complaining. This was preferable, black eye and all.

“Well, Luke helped us.”

I wasn’t sure about that.

“He’s taking a lot of the heat. I figured there wouldn’t be a better time than now to come out,” he explained while driving.

“Letting Luke take the fall? That’s kinda cold,” I joked.

He wasn’t sorry. “I’m kinda a jackass.”

“You get by on your charm.”

Zach grinned. “It does help.”

“Well, I don’t know if it’s working on me,” I said coyly. It totally worked on me.

“Oh really? Guess I’ll have to try harder.”

 

Luke is always the last to know

If it seems like I’m posting a lot about the first book in my gay romance series, One Little Word, the reason is because… I am. If you like these posts, awesome and I love you. If you don’t, then sorry and it won’t last forever.

At least in this instance, there’s a method to the madness. The method is celebrating the release of the new edition. Or maybe that’s the madness? It’s either the method or the madness.

Here’s a summary and a quote from the book.

One Little Word

Luke faces trouble of monumental proportions. The straight baseball player has one chance for salvation… a plan that includes “dating” another boy. Yikes. Luke is (reluctantly) ready for every possibility involving a fake boyfriend except what happens if he falls for the guy.

Ryan the awkward science nerd is the only openly gay kid in their small town. He’s smart enough to know that crushing on a straight jock is a terrible idea… even if Luke is painfully attractive.

From innocent kisses that turn scorching to holding hands and never wanting to let go, what started as a fake relationship feels shockingly honest and genuine. But Ryan fears what they have can’t be real. Luke’s afraid it’s already too real.

Will this unexpected couple step up to the plate and go to bat for each other, even if it might mean striking out?

 

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I’m single and ready to mingle. Wow, that sounded incredibly lame. I would never say that out loud.

I couldn’t keep a grin off my face as I walked down the halls. Maybe a few people shot me weird looks, but who cares? I had a lot to smile about. Namely, I no longer had a boyfriend.

What a weird sentence. At least for me, a straight guy.

Dealing with Ryan these days had gotten… Wait, he’s not a bad guy. He’s really nice, for a snarky jerk. I like him. Platonically! Not romantically because I’m straight. Some other guy will go crazy for him and those weirdly nice legs of his. Just not a straight guy like me.

 

Performance Art or Something

If I haven’t mentioned before that I’m updating One Little Word, then I’ve at least mentioned it now. I’m working on getting a print version done too.Which means that it’s relevant for me to post stuff from that book. I was going to anyway but being relevant is cool.

And when I say I’m working on updating it, I mean it is updated. There’s new cover art, hopefully better editing, and expanded scenes. Hooray!

The book is a gay romance about fake boyfriends, and there’s a scene where they go to a high school play together. I’m not really sure why I decided the play should be A Midsummer Night’s Dream because that might be the only popular Shakespeare play I haven’t read but whatever. On the other hand, “what fools these mortals be” could basically be the summary for the entire series, either that or “boys are dumb.”

Here is some art and an excerpt from the theater date.

 

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Ryan

LUKE AND I ATTENDED THE DRAMA CLUB’S fall presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream together.

He got to pretend he was an out and proud athlete, and I had someone to go to the show with, so I refrained from complaining. However, I couldn’t stop myself from flailing internally at how date-like it seemed, but I covered pretty well, I thought. Good thing my not-date was fun to laugh at.

We were early, so we stood in line and waited to be let in while I watched Luke with a bemused expression.

“The play takes place in the woods, right? You’re sure one of them doesn’t wander off and die?” he asked hopefully. “It’s the perfect horror movie scenario.”

“This isn’t a horror movie, it’s a comedy.”

“They should have done Romeo and Juliet instead,” he muttered.

His acting chops weren’t great, but they were good enough for people to believe our act, so maybe he would make a good Romeo. With passionate green eyes and dimples, I could see how any naïve young Juliet would follow him to certain death.

I felt nervous and excited just from the awkward hand holding we were doing.

“You like Romeo and Juliet?” I questioned.

“I like swordfights and death. It’s the Shakespearean version of an action flick,” he reasoned.

“Well, this is the Shakespearean Hangover.”

His eyes narrowed. “No way.”

I shrugged. “Everyone wakes up confused in a forest and there’s a donkey instead of a tiger.”

While not completely convinced, he decided, “I guess I’ll give it a chance.”

“You’re so uncultured,” I teased.

“Hey, don’t be mean. I’m your boyfriend,” he teased back, but I couldn’t handle hearing him say those words.

“Shut up.” I removed my hand from his suddenly.

Luke frowned. “I’m joking.”

“You suck at it.”

He doubled down, clutching a hand to his heart and imploring, “Oh, I’m so sorry, baby. Can you ever forgive me?”

I did not melt. I fought a smile while saying, “Pretty sure you’re hopeless.”

He grinned. “But you love me anyway.”

The words caught in my throat.