Life Advice I’ve Never Taken: You need to calm down

This song is life, according to a friend of mine. If you disagree, take it up with Megan.

Every famous gay person in the world is in this video, so I’m posting it. There will be enough times when I’m off topic, but as every famous gay person in the world is in this video, this doesn’t count. I’m barely even exaggerating.

Once, I saw something where Taylor Swift was called Gaylor Swift. In an affectionate way, naturally. That’s maybe not that clever, but I remembered it.

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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.

Meeting the parents is always awkward. Even (or especially) if you aren’t really dating.

On Wednesdays, we wear pink. But on Mondays, we post outtakes from novels. Or at least I do. It’s fetch? No, stop trying to make fetch happen. I got started on a Mean Girls thing and now I can’t stop. Or maybe I can.

Alright. This is a deleted scene from One Little Lie. The first one was about fake dating, and this is the second one, which is totally different. And also about fake dating.

Luke and Ryan fake dated in the first book, due to Reasons That Made Sense at the Time, but they’re real dating in this one. As Luke and his friend Lydia aren’t ready to come out yet, they pretend to date each other instead. This is where Luke is about to meet Lydia’s parents.

~~~

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Luke

My parents were like… damn, I should have asked Ryan for a simile. Introducing them to Lydia was super easy, so they were something like that. Lydia’s parents were the opposite of whatever the super easy thing was. I wasn’t very good at this to begin with and then having to smile and make nice with the homophobes…

No, Lydia’s parents. They were homophobes, but they were also Lydia’s parents. This was important to her and I didn’t want to face her wrath. Ugh, there were so many reasons to be nervous I couldn’t pick just one.

“Do I need to take off my shoes when I get in there?” I asked. That had never been a house rule at any home I went to regularly, but maybe people with teenage boys gave up on cleanliness. Lydia shook her head.

We had just pulled up to the house in my car.

“Should I make the sign of the cross in front of them or something?” I asked next. They were religious.

“Relax.” She looked pretty calm, just uncomfortable. “I didn’t think I’d have to remind you we aren’t actually dating.”

“I know, but you’re, uh.” I sighed and rested my head against the headrest. “I know you need this. I don’t want to mess it up.”

“It’ll be fine.” She smiled and placed her hand on top of mine for a moment. “Thank you.”

We got out of the car and looked towards the house together. It was large enough for their big family but relatively small, like they had only as much as they needed, and the plants and decorations outside were sparse. There was a little stone cross decoration in one of the flower beds, and the area was neat and well-kept but modest.

Modest. That was a good word for the whole house. My parents liked having the nicest things, without being too flashy for a farming and agricultural community like this, but Lydia’s parents kept everything at a minimum. It was clean and simple with pale yellow paint on the house, but the light blue shutters looked pretty. Should I tell them that? I’d been a guest in people’s homes before but now I couldn’t remember how to act.

“Should I have brought a housewarming gift?” That was a thing people did on TV shows and in movies.

Lydia sent me a look that translated to stop being weird. “My parents have lived here since before I was born.”

“Oh. Should I have brought a gift for that?” I asked, unable to stop being weird. She grabbed my hand and pulled me along.

More on Mondays (totally a thing! I just started it!)

My typical plan for posting deleted scenes and extras from my novels is this: I post them whenever I remember to do that. I decided to go all organized and just start putting up something one day every week. This is when I ran into a problem.

See, I wanted alliteration. Thirsty Thursday. Man Crush Monday. Taco Tuesday. None of those are related to what I’m doing. Though I guess having crushes on men isn’t totally unrelated.

Okay, I spent a few minutes pondering different words. Deleted, bonus, additional, cut, removed. I was looking for any word that also started with the same letter as a day of the week.

I couldn’t find one that worked, so I’m going with More on Mondays.

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What’s More on Mondays you did or didn’t ask?  It’s where I’ll post new writing that didn’t make it into a previous book or longer versions of a scene. You know, outtakes, edits, revisions, excerpts and other synonyms.

Did I just tell a long story for basically no reason? Now you know why I have surplus content!

Oh, surplus, that could have worked. Surplus Sundays. Or Supplemental Saturdays. Oh well. I already decided.

For the inaugural More on Mondays post, I went with something from my upcoming release, One New Start. Inaugural? I’m so fancy. Here’s what you need to know: Ryan and Luke are boyfriends, Ryan came up with a list of new things to try, and they are maybe going to dance.

(Whenever I sum things up, I have the urge to add ‘and that’s what you missed on Glee’ at the end. Am I going to be like this for the rest of my life? Damn you, Glee!)

Anyway, here’s a story.

~~~

Ryan

Reckless disregard for limb and law time was over. For now. Normally I would be sad about that, but I had dance lessons on my list.

There was no way dancing could go wrong. Saying that might be inviting the universe to show me all the ways things could blow up, maybe even literally, but not this time. My logic is flawless. Go me, using logic! Another new experience!

I really wanted to learn to dance. If that happened, then I picked up a new skill and did what I set out to do. If not, I still got to press my body to Luke’s body. I also really wanted to do that. Either way, I won.

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Not sure if dancing was girly or not, but I wasn’t going to be dancing with a girl. And seriously, dancing was a socially acceptable way to press my body to my boyfriend’s body in public.

If anyone thought dancing wasn’t worthwhile, they were dumb and didn’t have a pretty boyfriend.

We stood in the dance classroom with its polished wood floor and mirror on one side, so there were two Lukes. A dream come true. I could only touch one though. My boo and I stared at each other while mirror boo stared too.

Luke’s blue t-shirt stretched enticingly over his shoulders and I put my hands there, to encourage him, get the ball rolling. To feel his shoulders, warm and strong as always.

“You’re the one that picked this activity,” I reminded him. I had the idea but he’s the one who said we should do this one next.

His hands went to my waist, so we were maybe getting closer to dancing. “I picked this because most of the ideas you had written down are criminal, impossible, maybe going to get us killed or definitely going to get us killed.”

“That sounds like a personal problem,” I told him sagely.

dance

~~~

Just going to casually add (in a casual way!) that One New Start comes out on Sept. 15.

Ahoy!

Once when I picked up my nephew from a skating party, he turned the corner of the building before me and then when I went around the corner, he screamed boo and I jumped. He was only a few steps ahead of me, and I knew exactly where he was, and I still jumped.

He was very impressed with himself for being able to get me, but it wasn’t as big of a deal to me because I will jump at anything. I’m twitchy as hell.

When Stranger Things blew up, I watched the first season only a little before the second one came out. All I knew was people loved it, and I thought it was some quirky, cute show about weirdos. Turns out, there’s monsters.

The first season was terrifying.

Also, I’m super tough and I like a scary show!

Season three spoilers ahoy! (oh my god, I’m so clever)

Reading and TV combined is awesome, so here’s the script for a scene paired with the actual scene. Yes, this is mostly an excuse for me to talk about one of my interests, but it’s also relevant to the gay, so I’m on topic.

Steve slides under the stall instead of crawling like the script says, which is of no importance, but a way more Steve thing to do. Also, Robin says the girl Steve’s talking about (her) sounds awesome. It’s not in the script, but Steve instantly agrees she is awesome and I like to think it’s because Joe or Steve, both probably, just needed to make that clear because they’re sweethearts.

*hipster voice* I loved Steve from the start. In season one, he was supposed to be suave and a player or whatever, but he seemed like a giant adorable goofball who’s definitely cooler in his mind than real life.

For extra queer thoughts, bisexual Steve is a thing that exists in my mind and it brings me great joy. Once I saw something on Twitter or Tumblr, they both start with T how am I supposed to keep track? Anyway, it was a comment about how every 80’s movie was at the same time the gayest movie ever made and the most homophobic movie ever made, and s2 had that vibe with Steve and Billy. I would have totally supported them going down the gayest ever road.

Finally, while Stranger Things is the scariest book, movie, TV show, or idea ever created and I am a giant badass for viewing the entire thing with only mild screaming, it is possible that it’s not super scary. My 11-year-old nephew also watched all of it and even had parental approval to do so. His favorite part is how the kids are allowed to swear.

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.

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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.

Review: Out of the Pocket

Sports are not my thing. What is my thing? Everything but sports. I did watch the World Cup, because my friend had a party and provided free donuts. I watched one Superbowl for the actual game and not the commercials, and it wasn’t too bad, but I still never did that again.

When I say I was able to read all of Out of the Pocket, that’s not an insult or me having nothing else to say. Good job, Bill Konigsberg, I finished a sports book! The book is very sports and I am very not sports. If you’re into gay, coming of age sports stories, this is probably the best one you’ll find. The writing is super good and it’s easy to read even if you don’t know anything about football.

Summary and definition, all in one:  The pocket is a safe place for quarterbacks while they find someone to throw the ball to. Being out of the pocket means the QB isn’t in the safe zone and a bunch of scary dudes are running toward him and trying to tackle him into the ground.

Before coming out of the closet, Bobby Framingham has to go out of the pocket as he’s out of his comfort zone when things start changing during his senior year of high school. He tells some people he’s gay, other people find out, and things keep happening a little quicker than he’s ready for. He doesn’t want anything to change but that never works out in fiction.

Being out of the pocket isn’t his strong suit on the field but now it’s happening during life too. Get it? There’s a double meaning!

Sports! Ahem. Sports: There’s a lot of action with the football games and while some of it went over my head, it’s pretty fast paced and not terribly difficult to follow. There’s also a good amount of moments with the team that are fun and lively. My notes were, “Very sports. Very bros.”

If you like football or other sports and are interested in things people who know things about football and other sports have to say, there’s a forward and afterward by people who are much more well informed than me.

The end of the world as we know it: When you have a secret, sometimes you can ignore it and pretend like it doesn’t exist. Until you can’t anymore and suddenly everything is about the secret. Because all the parts of life you like will be ruined if people find out and all the parts you don’t like will be even worse.

Bobby wants to win games with his team and play football in college, and he’s not sure that’s possible if people find out he’s gay. There’s a lot of that, I like my life the way it is, I don’t want it to change stuff. Even though it has already changed. College is approaching, he’s growing apart from some friends, and his dad doesn’t seem to be himself.

Naturally, YA is really good at teen angst, and this book fits in. I love the impending sense of doom and the end of the world because that’s really how problems seem sometimes, especially with something as big as coming to terms with sexuality. There’s a lot of worrying about how things will go wrong, how the main character won’t get the future they wanted.

I also like how the novel highlights that coming out isn’t typically a one and done thing. Bobby comes out multiple times to different people with varying reactions. But as each coming out happens, it’s okay, even when it goes bad. The world doesn’t actually end. Sorry, spoilers.

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Writing Style: Great writing that is so effortless it makes me want to cry out of appreciation and jealous, impotent rage. The more you read, the more satisfying it gets. It’s all fairly straight forward at first glance, which works well for a sports book. No flowery prose, just the action. However, there are plenty of parallels and metaphors and all that good literature stuff.

My favorite part: Bobby tries to discuss coming out with a guidance counselor who is very focused on getting the right answer to his crossword puzzle. It’s a cute scene. What I loved about it is that Bobby can’t fathom going to college or beyond as an openly gay athlete, it just doesn’t happen very often. The counselor tells him that someone has to change the world and he could be the one to do it.

If you’re wondering why I love that part, here are my thoughts: UGH. IT’S JUST SO GOOD. WOW. GAH. I LOVE IT. SO GOOD!

Plot Twist: Just kidding, it’s right there in the offical summary that Bobby gets outed. Coming out to the larger world wasn’t his choice and there was some angst and distress, naturally, but I enjoyed that he eventually went with it all instead of dwelling on what he couldn’t change.

Moving on and focusing on the positives and whatnot is such a weird, foreign concept for me, the perpetual worrier who is incapable of letting things go. I liked how Bobby decided to take control of what was happening even though it didn’t happen how he planned.

The Supporting Cast: Actually, there’s a lot of supporting characters. The novel is a glimpse into Bobby’s world, so several faces come and go. For me, Austin and Carrie were the other characters that stood out.

Carrie is the BFF and quasi love interest, she’s very manic pixie dream girl. She’s a little much for me sometimes, but she also had some good lines. Her character is very strong. She takes over a lot of the scenes she’s in, not in a bad way, she’s just larger than life. Everyone thinks Bobby and Carrie are dating, and even Carrie thinks they should be at the beginning. I’m not totally sure there needed to be a one-sided attraction. She gets over it pretty quick and everyone assuming they’re dating would work just as well on its own.

Austin is one of Bobby’s best friends. Austin is a ladies’ man and a football bro. He’s a bit of a dick as he tells some friends Bobby is gay, but it seemed like he just didn’t know how to react. He tries to support Bobby and ultimately it was one of those things where he wasn’t as big a jerk as he could have been.

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TL;DR? This is as brief as I was able to make it: Bobby makes a couple comments to himself about how Austin selectively acts Mexican when it works for him. Austin is mixed, white and Mexican (me too, samesies), and many people probably didn’t give the parts about his ethnicity a second thought because they’re very small. Just let it go, I told my brain. My brain did not let it go.

With being biracial or bisexual, it’s sometimes hard for people to get things that aren’t always visible. For example, if you’re a guy dating a guy, you’re gay. If you’re a guy dating a girl, you’re straight. In my experience, some things aren’t one or the other. Some things are always both.

Some parts of YA are intense, so let’s be clear this isn’t a call out or anything. Fiction is rad because it can be anything. And all the things Bobby thinks about Austin’s race are a very accurate outsider POV as I’ve heard them said to me a million times. I just wanted a little more. Why did Bobby think these comments about his friend’s race and not say them out loud? Had he said them out loud before and they weren’t appreciated?

I don’t need an after school special where a Very Important Lesson about racial sensitivity is learned. Things could have gotten worse, and Bobby could have doubled down on his comments to Austin. Either way, I just wanted more, for the throwaway comments to be given a little substance.

The Romance: There is some, hooray, but it isn’t the main focus. The love interest this time is named Bryan and he’s great. He’s in college and he’s sweet, confident and supportive, a very good first boyfriend. There’s a lot of uncertainty and figuring stuff out in the plot, so it’s nice to have this relatively uncomplicated romance.

There’s a moment where Bobby is freaking out and Bryan is just steady. Bobby thinks the world is ending and Bryan’s just like, nah. And of course, they’re by the water for maximum mood. That’s another of my favorite moments.

One Little Change: Gay YA Romance

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?

One Little Change is a gay high school romance about ridiculous people doing ridiculous things. This is the fourth book in a series, and there is light discussion and depiction of sexual content.

The book is available now on Amazon.

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.

You’ve already posted this quote before, I’ve told myself multiple times. Are you sure, I ask me next. Pretty sure, I reply. I should check just in case, I decide and then I agree with me. And then my dog tells me to pay attention to her or I see something outside or whatnot and I get distracted. Until today, when I finally see that, no, I have not yet posted this quote.

The quote is from Summer Romance, and it’s available on Amazon.

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