More on Mondays: Now with More Puppy

My dog didn’t get a lot of exercise or outside time today because it’s been gloomy and rainy all day, so perhaps I should have expected when we went out on the deck and it started raining. As I’m in the process of moving in and outside, and this is the second time I’ve done that while trying to write this blog post, I’m not even gonna try to connect what I’m saying now to anything relevant.

Sometimes I say something and then immediately contradict myself, which is a Ryan thing. Ryan is from the novel I’m about to share an extended scene from. See, now the random stuff I’m talking about is related!

Additionally, it’s hard to think of stuff to say when there is a nearby dog barking her head off. Not really sure what she’s barking at, because she’s looking up. She does bark at birds, but there aren’t any birds, or planes, or flying men with capes.

She doesn’t like stay inside days. I’d say she gets crazy, but really she gets crazier, which is also a Ryan thing.

Have I posted a picture of my dog yet? I’m asking in a rhetorical manner because I’m totally about to regardless of what the answer is.

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This sums up her current mood pretty well.

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But this works too.

Okay, only one more I swear, I need one where she doesn’t look miserable.

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Man, she’s great. Even though she’s barking again.

Without further ado, unless I think of more ado, here is something from One New Start. Available now! Which is new development, which is why exclamation. !!!

In this part, Ryan and Luke are boyfriends about to have an adventure. The adventure involves devious behavior and being up to no good. There are many reasons Ryan would be a bad criminal, and some of them are mentioned here.

~~~

Ryan

Still not going along with the incognito part of the plan, or being very bad at it if he was, Luke used his turn signal and still hadn’t cut the lights as we approached our destination. Yet he told me, “We probably shouldn’t talk when we get out.”

“I’ve been practicing my whispering voice!”

I didn’t try to whisper that, so it’s okay I said it at a volume that made Luke wince.

“It’s still too loud,” he assured me. The car slowed down.

“You haven’t even heard it.”

“Still, I’m right, aren’t I?” he replied without taking his eyes off the road.

… My vocal chords just weren’t capable of whispering. Luke didn’t have to be so accurate. “Stupid Luke,” I grumbled.

“You said that out loud,” he pointed out.

“I’m aware, stupid Luke.”

“May be stupid Luke, but I’m your Genius.” Oh pet names, my only weakness besides all the other ones. Luke slowed the car and parked, giving me a grin.

I glared. “No, this is dangerous and wrong and hot, not sweet!

He shrugged. “Can’t help being sweet, just who I am.”

We got out of the car.

The plan was to go in, get the job done, and get out. Smash and grab. Well, no grabbing. We would save the grabbing for later, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. We’d just smash. Wait, that was dirty too, wasn’t it? Everything was dirty these days, what was wrong with people?

This might not have helped with the tough, ruthless thing I was trying to do, but Luke and I held hands while we worked our way through the darkness. I could try going it alone… I’d fall over a zillion times. Also, Luke’s hand in mine. I may be a criminal now, but I wasn’t gonna turn down a good thing.

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Books, bowling, boys, and possibly even more B words!

One New Start is available now!

I’m so proud of myself! Not for writing a book, I mean, I guess for that too. Mostly because I’m actually posting on the day it’s released. I’m a serious author, don’t I always do that? Cue the nervous bisexual laughter.

Anyway, let’s focus on the positives. Like One New Start! Available now.

Here’s an excerpt. Ryan and Luke are on a double date at a bowling alley. Ryan has never bowled before but that’s not going to stop him from dominating. (it probably will stop him but shhh, he believes)

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Ryan

I looked to the… playing area where I would soon have to throw the thing into the other things. How many balls did I get to throw? The other people were only sending one ball at a time. That didn’t seem right. I had two hands. And also two feet.

I watched for a few moments, but yeah, everyone only sent one ball down the hallway at a time. Maybe they were all doing it wrong? I glanced at the people I came here with. Lydia smirked at me as I realized this might prove challenging.

I turned back to Luke. “If I don’t knock them all down, I’ll throw my shoes at the pins,” I decided sensibly. “That’s what the shoes are for.”

“That’s… well.” Luke thought about it, then nodded. “Okay, as long as you’ve got a plan.”

There was that whole thing where he wanted to keep me from hurting myself and others, so normally he wouldn’t agree to me wildly throwing things. However, if there was a competition, all bets were off. Unless the contest was betting and then bets were totally on.

I looked to the… playing area where I would soon have to throw the thing into the other things. How many balls did I get to throw? The other people were only sending one ball at a time. That didn’t seem right. I had two hands. And also two feet.

I watched for a few moments, but yeah, everyone only sent one ball down the hallway at a time. Maybe they were all doing it wrong? I glanced at the people I came here with. Lydia smirked at me as I realized this might prove challenging.

I turned back to Luke. “If I don’t knock them all down, I’ll throw my shoes at the pins,” I decided sensibly. “That’s what the shoes are for.”

“That’s… well.” Luke thought about it, then nodded. “Okay, as long as you’ve got a plan.”

There was that whole thing where he wanted to keep me from hurting myself and others, so normally he wouldn’t agree to me wildly throwing things. However, if there was a competition, all bets were off. Unless the contest was betting and then bets were totally on.

Musings from a theater kid

Alicia is a character from the One More Thing series. She’s dating Lydia. She likes drama. Wait, I need to be more specific. The kind you do in school. Wait, I need to be more specific. She’s into theater.

Because her POVs in One Little Change didn’t need to be a million years long, I had to cut her thoughts down. Here’s some cut and uncut parts from her story.

The music in Spring Awakening was pretty awesome. The play itself wasn’t my favorite. There were a million gross undertones that were part of the times or something, but no one cared because it was the taboo play about sex. Everyone in drama with me was constantly begging for it to be our next show because it was so edgy. However, if that was the play every high school drama department wanted to put on, that made it normal and not really edgy at all.

Grease was on the tame, acceptable side of high school theater productions and Spring Awakening was on the other end. Wasn’t there something in the middle we could explore instead of doing Grease another freaking time?  I’d been Sandy, I’d been Rizzo, I’d been Frenchy, and I’d even been Kenickie once. At least playing a T-Bird had been different than playing a Pink Lady.

No grade school, middle school, or high school production would let me play Danny Zucko. Being Kenickie when Evan Sanders got sick and I was doing crew was one thing, but actively promoting crossdressing and having two girls play the main love interests? That pushed this innocent musical over to the Spring Awakening side of things but in a way I was actually interested in. The administration, however, was decidedly not interested.

Theater was my happy place. My safe place. Lydia was sort of becoming like that too. I felt like I belonged with her one minute but then things got scary the next but a good kind of scary, that made my heart beat faster, that made me want to burst into love songs. Only then there was this. This was scary but not in a good way.

We were sitting on the dock of the lake, sun shining down brightly, though strategically placed trees were currently giving us shelter from the harshest rays. I wasn’t attending summer camp this year, but I was a counselor at one outside of town instead. Well, Ryan liked to complain there was no lake in Lake Forest. Or forest, but we had both on these grounds. Technically, he was right. We were outside the city limits. Fine, I was a counselor at a camp outside of town.

The whole place wasn’t about theater or the arts or anything, though me and a few other teens with experience were the ones running the drama units. Being outside in the bright sunshine wasn’t usually my thing. However, with my shorts and a light blue shirt, with the smell of fresh air everywhere, it was kinda nice out here.

We just ended a session with one group of kids and another would come in next week. There was a barbecue tonight to celebrate, with counselors and significant others. Or siblings. Lydia and I weren’t siblings obviously, we didn’t even look alike. My boss was firmly convinced we were even though no one had tried to convince him. Some people were like that.

Other people decided that girlfriend meant friend who was a girl. Holding hands, kissing, hell even getting married and having rugrats one day? Wow, what an interesting choice to do that with your friend who is also a girl.

Awkward turtle. Do people still say that?

Ryan Miller and Luke Chambers do everything they do in the most terrible and awkward ways, including, well, you know… it.

Doing it.

IT!

You understand. That’s enough.

SEX! Sex was the it in that case. In case you weren’t aware.

One Little Change features Ryan and Luke navigating intimacy and a long distance relationship. Here are some outtakes involving Ryan’s feelings about all of this.

Ryan

First experiences were always weird. Right? Right. I think so. Especially if I was involved. Things would only get better! I had to remember that. Just, it was difficult. Since this was the last memory before I left.

I didn’t want to worry but freaking out and jumping to conclusions was my natural state. I had so much experience with it and much less with being calm and not panicking. This was why we had a plan. It might suck but we could get through it. Who knew that would apply to our first time?

No, don’t think about that. Just, the plan was for me leaving. Oh god. I was already leaving but at least I had been leaving on a high note. Except now. I was leaving on a not high note. An awkward note.  It might suck but we can get through it. We can handle it. I hoped that was still true.

I was the rightest person to ever right and everyone should always listen to me because I could do no wrong, but my powers were too great. The common folk feared my gifts and never heeded my advice. Too bad. Cause see, I told Luke we should freak out first. So we could get it out of the way. Granted, that was about me leaving, not about—

We definitely should have freaked out beforehand. Because I was so going to freak out now.

Luke is totally not afraid of horses.

Here’s some fiction about people riding horses. Literally, not in a euphemism way. Should I make that sound more exciting? Here’s some fiction about people riding horses!

Nailed it.

Again, not in a dirty way.

This is a scene I didn’t end up using from One Little Change. I took out anything other than vague references to the plot, so this isn’t spoilery and you also don’t need to know anything about the characters.

Enjoy! (Or don’t, you do you.)

Luke

This was the awkwardest experience ever. Happening right now. Around me. Under me. That sounded weird. I was on a horse. It was awkward.

Maybe it wasn’t that weird… it was just also really weird.

“Slow down,” I suggested to Lydia while tightening my arms around her waist.

“You are such a baby.” Swore she sped up while she said that.

“There’s a branch up ahead!” I warned.

“Stop backseat horse riding!”

We were at the camp where Alicia worked, picking up my little sister Lily. Camp was over for her group, but there were still counselors around and they’d soon be getting ready for the next batch of kids. No one seemed to care or question us when we went to the stables and checked out the horses, all the employees too excited for the downtime between cycles, so I followed Lily and Alicia’s leads.

Lily decided we were going to go riding, which I didn’t really know how to do, but she seemed comfortable getting the horses ready.

While Ryan and I patching things up was good for my heart and mind and soul and everything, maybe it was good for my body too. The Millers didn’t even have horses yet, and Ryan and I were in no way married, but my little sister Lily was acting like their imaginary horses were as good as hers.

Our family didn’t have a barn of our own, and the ranch I worked on had different livestock, so I’d never ridden. Maybe a few times at the fair when I was a kid and then horses seemed girly. Why? Yeah, girls liked horses. Sometimes to a scary degree. But the animals were giant and they had strength and what about them was girly, and even if it was, what about that was girly in a bad way?

I told the girls they could ride and I would just wait for them, maybe go back to my car. And now somehow I was behind Lydia on a horse.

The horse Lily rode had a chestnut coat, was obviously named Chestnut, and was fast, as she charged ahead and lost us pretty much immediately on the path.

Alicia’s tan horse, Blondie, they didn’t dig too hard for names, looked like it had the ability to catch up or at least get close to Lily’s horse even though it moved at a slower pace to accommodate me and my steed.

My horse was named Button and had a white coat with grey spots. No idea if its coat was always like that or that just happened when a horse was, like, 90 years old. If he tried to go as fast as Chestnut, he would probably die.

I liked Button. He was an old guy that was just doing his best.

While I probably wasn’t in any danger, I clung onto Lydia for dear life.

“Just be careful,” I told or reminded her.

“Stop telling me what to do.”

“I will if you be careful.”

“I’ve done this before.”

Yeah and so had Button, 900 times, and I think he’s had enough. It’s a big job carrying two people.

~

New YA Books

What’s new in YA right now and what’s on the horizon?

I have no idea!

Everything is just so much, all the time, you know? Maybe not, because what I said doesn’t make a ton of sense, but I can’t keep up with new releases. So it’s good there’s other people out there to do that for me.

I found this list of YA fiction being released in July-September. These are all sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. The full list is here, but I figured I would just mention the queer ones. Because Hella Gay YA and all that.

The Infinite Noise: A Bright Sessions Novel  by Lauren Shippen

Description: Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Release: Sept. 24

The only podcasts I’ve ever listened to are fictional ones about gay characters and true crime, and I’m sure there’s other types that are really good… but yeah, I’m only interested in podcasts if there’s true crime or queer characters and hopefully less crime.

Basically, it’s really cool that The Bright Sessions podcast is a book now.

 Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Description: There are no monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. Jam and her best friend, Redemption, have grown up with this lesson all their life. But when Jam meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question–How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Release: Sept. 10

Jam is trans and selectively nonverbal, and this book sounds interesting and too scary for me. I have begun to very, VERY slowly enjoy a little bit of horror, mostly by accident. Otherwise I am a big coward and there’s no shame in that because I said so.

Red Skies Falling (The Skybound Saga) by Alex London

Description: Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle’s stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar’s first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers’ darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal.

Release: Sept. 3

Game of Thrones but gayer. And YA.

Is Game of Thrones already gay? I’m gonna get around to watching that eventually. I’m guessing there’s less gay people dying in horrific ways in this novel. Again, I don’t watch GoT, but it always seems like somebody is dying in horrific ways.

Of Ice and Shadows (Of Fire and Stars) by Audrey Coulthrust

Description: Princesses Denna and Mare are in love and together at last—only to face a new set of dangers.

Mare just wants to settle down with the girl she loves, which would be easier if Denna weren’t gifted with forbidden and volatile fire magic. Denna must learn to control her powers, which means traveling in secret to the kingdom of Zumorda, where she can seek training without fear of persecution. Determined to help, Mare has agreed to serve as an ambassador as a cover for their journey.

As rising tensions and unexpected betrayals put Mare and Denna in jeopardy and dangerous enemies emerge on all sides, can they protect their love and save their kingdoms?

Release: August 13

This is the book where, whenever I see the first one on the list of top 100 queer YA novels, I’m like that looks cool, I should read that. And then I remember my KU is filled with M/M teen romances because those are the ones I write and occasionally blog about, but I  read real slow, so I don’t read this yet.

True story. I’m sure all of this really helped you with your reading selections. I still want to read the first one, then this second one, because I have to go in order and because fantasy novel about princesses in love.

 

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre

I’m including the cover of one book that may not be queer, or isn’t as far as I can tell, but I liked the tagline. So simple but memorable. This one also might be too scary for me, but again, love the tagline.

One Little Change

Guess who has a book available for pre-order? This is a really easy game. Yes, the answer is me. Well, probably lots of people but also me.

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Can Ryan and Luke’s relationship survive a little distance?

Yes. Totally. Shut up. These are all answers Ryan Miller might give you in response to that question. A summer apart will only bring him and Luke Chambers closer together in the end. However, Ryan might actually be a bit glad to be away from his gorgeous baseball player boyfriend for a while.

Why?

Well, Ryan and Luke are navigating the next big step in their relationship, and maybe it’s not going great. Yeah. They’re taking things to the next level, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. They’re handling it with all the grace and dignity one would expect of them. Which is to say, none at all.

The distance between them is only supposed to be geographical. However, dealing with their changing relationship might just pull them apart even further. Will getting closer actually bring the couple closer or tear them apart?

As you might have heard, like in this very post, you can pre-order a copy of One Little Change now! And the release date is really soon, the 21st, because I totally didn’t forget to post about this sooner. I am such a professional.

This is an excerpt from Summer Romance, one of F.N. Manning’s M/M YA novels

*

“Carter Ford is working here too?” I asked. I had to be sure this wasn’t a hallucination. I guess I could just call him Carter now; being coworkers meant we would be on a first name basis. “Carter Ford?”

He always seemed well-dressed and in control. I didn’t expect him to need a job like this when he could be doing whatever good looking, popular people did in the summer. Maybe the same thing I did – sitting on the couch and watching TV or occasionally going out into the world – but just being good looking and popular while doing it.

“Do you know him?” Lily asked me. Perhaps being older than him or being his boss meant she wasn’t fazed by the presence of one of the most popular guys in my grade. And she was a great pseudo sister for even asking that question and implying I could be in the same social stratosphere as him.

“No,” I told her. “I don’t know Carter Ford at all.” I knew of him, but I’d never been properly introduced. Oh god, was that about to happen now? I sat up straighter in my chair.

“You could just call him Carter,” she recommended and then he came in and sat with us and I tried to be normal, listen to what Libby said, and basically do anything other than obsess over the guy sitting next to me.

-Summer Romance is available here.

Stargazing

I’m working on editing One Little Problem and planning for the fourth book, One Little Change. How’s that going? Uh… I’m the one asking the questions here! Only I’m not asking any questions. Except for the one I just asked.

Yeah, today has been tough. Productivity and I are just not getting along today, which is totally its fault and not mine. Productivity knows what it did. Hope your day is going better!

I did manage to get one thing done today. Here’s a quote and excerpt from One Little Problem, out now! Ryan and Luke look at the stars a lot, it’s their thing, along with hand holding.

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* * *

Ryan POV

“The one relevant thought I did have,” Luke said, “Aside from why planetariums even exist because we already have outside at night, so isn’t the whole world a giant planetarium already—”

“Oh my god,” I laughed.

“Aside from that,” he said pointedly, moving to take his arm away from me, but I didn’t let him. “I was thinking that even though looking at the stars is romantic, the stars themselves aren’t that romantic.”

“Because they’re giant balls of fire and gas that would instantly immolate us?” So sexy!

“No, just all the myths and stuff associated with them.” We fell silent a moment to hear the recorded voice played over the speakers narrating facts about the stars. The myth about the bear constellations, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, was that Zeus turned his side piece into a bear, so his wife wouldn’t rage quit him or the world or something and then the lady’s son killed the bear not knowing it was his mom. Yeah, that wasn’t very romantic. Both the story and the serial cheating.

“They’re mostly about lost souls and tragedies,” Luke continued. Now the voice-over talked about Andromeda, who was sacrificed to a sea monster. “And some of it was violent, like the scorpion killing Orion.” Oh, Luke knowing things was so sexy. “I started regretting bringing you here because if you were still mad at me, then this place was giving you all kinds of ideas for revenge.” He shuddered. “I did not want to have to deal with scorpions.”