When We Were Strangers

For my One More Thing series, I wrote a free prequel called When We Were Strangers as an introduction to the characters. I don’t think I promoted it much on social media, so I’m finally doing that. Even though it technically takes place during the summer and this is the winter. I’m really selling this, aren’t I? I hope you have enjoyed this summary of everything I did wrong, now here is the book!

Okay, this is a scene from Ryan’s story, and I would explain, but it’s pretty self explanatory.

Ryan

Have you ever found yourself standing buck naked in a wheatfield in broad daylight? Only there wasn’t any wheat. Or if there was, it was in seed form, so you were basically out in the open where anyone could see you. Has this ever happened to anyone else? Of course it has. It probably happened all the time and was so relatable.

Man, if only I could say it wasn’t every day I ended up locked out while wearing no clothes, but it occurred way more than I was comfortable with. Once. It happened once times. This time, in fact. And it was once more time than I ever wanted.

Ha-ha. Just kidding. I wasn’t naked. Nope. Not at all. Who was naked? Me?!?! No way. I wasn’t naked, you were naked! Oh my god, don’t panic. RYAN, STAY CALM. DON’T PANIC. PLEASE SAVE ME BATMAN, SUPERMAN, OR RYAN REYNOLDS. HEY, HE STOLE MY NAME. No, he had it first since he was older than me.

Ahem. Okay. As I wasn’t in the best headspace for narration, I would come back later. Hopefully when I was calmer and wearing pants.

–the rest of the story is available here for free.

Friendship

This is a scene where two boyfriends try to support their friend. It’s from Falling in Love and Other Bad Ideas.

Zach

Ryan and Luke watched me eagerly as I grabbed things from my locker. I shared homeroom with the former, and Ryan treated homeroom, punctuality, and other things he didn’t want to do as optional rather than mandatory, one of the few things I respected him for.

Luke always complained about Ryan’s brown hair falling into his eyes and adding additional walking challenges for a guy who never made peace with gravity, but now his own blonde locks were doing the same thing. Ryan had the same shoes as Luke so their feet could be twins or something. They were both wearing flannel shirts, Ryan’s mostly red with blue, Luke’s mostly blue with red. Which… how? Did they call each other up and plan their outfits? Luke never even wore flannel.

Luke said, “I want to talk about Zach’s love interest.”

I scowled at how he phrased it while saying, “And now for the simple, folksy Luke wisdom.”

He frowned. “Don’t think anyone has ever called me folksy before.”

I smirked. “They have called you simple, that’s what I’m hearing.”

“Hey,” Ryan warned, jumping to his boyfriend’s defense. “I will fight you. With my words.”

“Dude, come on.” Luke said to me, giving me his earnest, dumb Luke smile. “You should go for it.” Groundbreaking. He kept going. “Somewhere along the line you went from not dating much to not dating at all. If you like this guy—”

“I don’t even know him.”

“Then get to know him. And if you like him, go for it.”

“God, you’re hot,” Ryan told him.

“Thanks babe.” Luke’s dimples appeared as he smiled at Ryan. “I’m also right.”

“Duh, that’s what makes you even hotter.”

They left, even though we had been right next to homeroom, and Luke needed to go to homeroom because that was how school worked. He let Ryan lead him off anyway because true love meant more than compulsory attendance or some shit like that.

When Luke and Ryan were morons who made their relationship 50 times more difficult than it needed to be, at least they provided some entertainment. However, it was also a hassle for me because they would both expect me to listen to their woes and provide answers. Nobody even paid me for it. Yet this same page, ride-or-die stuff they’d been doing lately was so… insane.

The couple weren’t just crazy kids hopped up on hormones thinking they were destined to be together forever. They had become shockingly stable somehow. As if they truly expected to go the distance when they’d barely even started the race.

Kissing Complications

Luke’s life quickly gets out of hand when his stupid mouth and dumb ideas lead to strange new places in One Little Word. An excerpt and image quote will follow after my nonsense.

The idea that immediately came to my head for a title was, Luke’s experiences aren’t universal. Maybe that needs more explaining. That’s a quote from Kimmy Schmidt. As I’m really lazy right now, and most of the time, I’m going to roll the dice and hope I spelled Schmidt right even though there’s no way. Oh, I spelled it a different way the second time and the red squiggly appeared, so hooray, I got it right once and still don’t need to open a different window to look it up. Small miracles, y’all. I will take it.

I’m not sure whether Luke’s experience with kissing a boy is universal or not. Maybe not exactly but it’s also not uncommon. Many guys kiss other guys. The part that’s less universal is kissing another boy as part of a fake dating scheme. Well, it is universal in romance novels. Like this one.

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Luke

Lunch went… awkwardly.

Duh. I had just sucked face with a guy in front of everyone in the cafeteria.

And I thought the stares were bad before.

No, everything was perfectly normal…

Yeah right, that wouldn’t work.

This wasn’t a video or a rumor. I had kissed a guy in public. Naturally, the atmosphere at the baseball table felt incredibly tense.

I insisted the earlier kiss wasn’t real. I told the team that Ryan and I weren’t together. Then I kissed him in front of everyone, and now we were having lunch with my shell-shocked team.

There had never been this much quiet at the table before. Without anyone speaking, my thoughts were loud. My mind kept repeating that I had kissed Ryan in front of everyone. It wouldn’t let that go.  I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around it.

I kissed Ryan. Yep, there I went again. I hoped it would stop being true somehow. Wait, oh god. Instead of helping, I made things worse.

Because I couldn’t just say I kissed Ryan. That wasn’t enough. It had happened more than once, so the specific time would need to be specified.

I was a guy who had kissed another guy enough times to need clarification when referencing the touching of our lips.

Mental malfunctions

Do you ever have a moment at three in the afternoon where you’ll like, damn I’m hungry, and then you realize you haven’t had anything to eat? Maybe not if you don’t have hyperfocus and ADHD. Occasionally, that happens to me. My two speeds for concentration are, oh hey, did you see this cute dog on the internet and on the other end, ALL FREAKING IN.

This is all I have to talk about now because  I’m very hungry, but the food I warmed up is still too hot to eat. I do have a quote from One Little Word to share, so I guess I’ll do that.

I was going to provide the relevant information here before the excerpt, but then I realized that it’s literally a guy crushing on another guy. So that’s all the details right there.

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Ryan

Luke was one of my new friends. Making nice and getting to know him seemed like a good idea at the time. He apologized and he was my boyfriend as far as the principal was concerned.

However, once I stopped despising a guy that hot, I was doomed. Hell, once I fell into his arms like a damsel in distress, I was doomed. Saving me gave him a clean slate and made him instantly crush worthy.

Hating him had provided some protection from his stupidly attractive face. Now all I noticed was the green of his eyes, the way the light looked in his hair. Anytime the dimples appeared, a small electrical fire started in my brain and I lost all cognitive function while repairs were made.

 

Screw Ups, a love story

And now a moodboard for One Little Word. In this story, a cocky jock tries to avoid trouble while creating an arguably bigger mess.

Ryan

Luke fidgeted, still avoiding my gaze. “I could have been suspended. I got detention instead. Because, uh.”

The moment felt solemn. I’d never seen the big man on campus act less than totally confident and self-assured. I waited with bated breath, almost afraid I would pass out. That’s how long it took him to speak again.

Finally, the wait ended.

“I told them I’m gay.”

The solemn mood evaporated. I burst out laughing. He looked annoyed at my outburst, but this was the most hilarious thing I’d ever heard. I couldn’t stop giggling.

“I also said we’re dating,” Luke told me next.

That shut me up.

 

Presenting a revolutionary new character, the Moody Teenage Girl

This mood board could speak for itself and I think I’m mostly going to let it. Except to say, hi, this is a mood board for the character Lydia from One Little Word. If you have questions, please refer to the image below. It’s literally all there.

I have nothing in common with Lydia, except that we both happen to be attracted to women, except she’s only attracted to women and I’m not, so maybe that doesn’t count. She’s one of the easiest characters to write even though we aren’t alike at all. Maybe it helps that she hates everything.

Lydia Smith could be a girl on a poster, beautiful and unattainable in a sweater that hugged her cleavage. Her black hair would get caught in the wind for a few seconds and whip around her face, making her look like a model. She smoked on top of the backrest of a bench, her legs hanging down on the seat. She had a free period and never spent it inside in a classroom when she could be a rebel instead.

We get it, you’re cool. That doesn’t mean you need to wreck your health with cigarettes or sit outside even though the weather’s getting cold

Favorite Characters: There is a correct answer

I write YA gay romance novels, in case you had no idea. My One More Thing Series starts with fake boyfriends and then becomes what I would describe as, “cute idiots, sarcasm, and more cute idiots.” My guess, and from the few people who have told me, most people’s favorite character is Ryan.

As Ryan is one of two main characters and the whole series is about him and his love life, that makes sense. He’s funny and zany and very likeable character-wise. My fave is Zach. I like Ryan, and Luke, the other main character who I think of as a bi-disaster who tries to not be a terrible human being, but Zach would agree with me here when I say he’s the best.

Ryan is a lot, and I am a lot, so having two a lots in my head is A LOT a lot. So Zach. I love him. It’s not relevant to anything, really, but I’m proud of myself for not letting his moodboard get out of hand.

Zach!

When I saw Zach, I had no complaints. Unless I was drooling, then I took issue with myself for being such an obvious loser. He wore a dark leather or faux leather jacket, tight jeans, and his hair was flawless. Like honestly, I stared while looking for a flaw, because it was giving me a complex, but there were none.

Ryan!

As someone who will use any excuse for a moodboard, I really like moodboards for some reason, here’s one for the character Ryan from One Little Word I have definitely made art for OLW before, but this is new art. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t use the “as a gay scientist” picture the first time, such a missed opportunity and travesty. Plus, I’m celebrating the new edition of the book.

 

There was a lot to Ryan.

I couldn’t force any baseball knowledge into his brain unless he thought a player was hot, but he absorbed science facts like a sponge. He listened to weird bands I’d never heard of, but they played good music. He was a devoted son, and he loved pasta but was so bad about not getting sauce on his face.

 

I’m not sure this is related, but in my head it is, so that’s close enough for me, as I’m you know, the one writing this. David from Schitt’s Creek kind of reminds me of Ryan because they’re both opinionated, sarcastic, and awkward. Which is as good a reason as any to post a clip of David being cute with his boyfriend.

 

 

 

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.