Who still drank root beer after age ten?

The only thing I can think of to say doesn’t relate to the image quote I’m going to post from One Little Word. I wanted to put some incredibly charming, witty words here and then connect them to the next part, but I got nothing. So I’ll just say what I thought of anyway because, well, it’s the only thing I can think of to say.

A million years ago, in a post I am too lazy to link, I talked about  how One Day at a Time was a cool, cancelled show about Latnix people and queer characters and representation. Every now and then, I tell myself, hey that got picked up by a different network so I should comment on that and be happy.

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From IMDB

 

So hey, One Day at a Time got picked up by Pop and I’m happy about it. That sounds sarcastic, but really, I’m thrilled. That still sounds sarcastic, but I have waited a long time for there to be a funny show about Hispanic people and I’m glad it’s not over yet.

Also in case you’re wondering, no I could not resist using the photo I chose. Hi lady from Brooklyn 99!

Scenes from a book

Okay, now for a quote and excerpt from a book. Here’s what you need to know. There are two guys who don’t like each other. They’re at a fall festival and decide to turn everything into a competition. Possibly they fall in love.

Luke

We played the most competitive version of ring toss ever.

A one at a time game, but we stood right next to each other on the taped line in the parking lot, trying to keep the other person from making it as much as we tried to get a bottle ourselves.

Ryan’s brows were scrunched, an intense look of concentration on his face. I had to look away to focus. He was just so intense and weird, which wasn’t exactly a bad thing, except for how he hated me.

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This experience felt nothing like being on the mound at a game, but a surge of triumph still went through me when I got a bottle, smile growing while Ryan tried to elbow me. We kept throwing until there were no more rings left. I felt mildly ridiculous to get so into the game, but I still pumped my fist in the air when I won.

Only to be met with Ryan’s bitchy face. “This wasn’t fair,” he complained, crossing his arms and sulking.

I grinned. “You’re such a sore loser.”

I wasn’t planning on taking any of the bottles I won, we wouldn’t have enough hands to carry them, but I grabbed one. Root beer.

I’d seen Ryan drink it at lunch and pushed the bottle into his chest, making him take it and uncross his arms. That was another reason he was weird. Who still drank root beer after age ten?

Sports!

I’m posting this the day after the Super Bowl. I feel like I should mention the Super Bowl, but as I’m writing this the day of the game and it hasn’t started yet, I don’t know what to say. Um… How about that game, huh? It sure was something. And that one commercial? So funny!

While I might be advertising myself as a loser depending on how the game goes, I hope KC wins. It took me a really long time to realize they made it all the way this year, but the Chiefs are my home team. Plus, I’m in the area this year, so it would be fun to see everyone go crazy. I wasn’t here when the Royals won the World Series, but the grade school my nephews go to cancelled school like it was a snow day the day after the game.


Anyway, every other Monday is when I post an extra from one of my books. This is from One Step Forward. Due to shenanigans, our hero Ryan finds himself stuck in a car with Joey, a member of the baseball team he has nothing in common with.

Ryan

With no other options, I guess I could learn about Joey. Desperate times. Maybe it would be fun? Didn’t believe that, but I couldn’t come up with something better to do. Okay, a question. Can you imagine anything worse than this? No, something easy. A warmup before the heavy hitting, Pulitzer prize stuff. A softball. Different from a baseball but don’t ask me how.

“How many siblings do you have?” I asked. Question transmitted, I waited with bated breath for the answer.

The Secret Ingredient

Insert banter/witty intro here. I would try to think of something, but this is a good-sized story, so maybe I should just get right to it. Yeah, that’s my excuse. I mean reason.

This is a deleted scene from One Little Change. In that story, Luke and his boyfriend have an awkward sexual encounter and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Instead, he’s talking to his foster sister Lydia. Lydia is dating Alicia, who is asexual. Luke is dating Ryan, who is sexual.

In this story, Luke is trying not to think about Ryan while trying to figure out how asexuality works. Luke never knows how anything works. It’s part of his charm or something.

Luke

Once upon a time, even though she could still be vicious as hell early in the morning, I used to enjoy not seeing Lydia all put together. No makeup in a tank top and pajamas, hair mussed, eyes sleepy, just a regular person. Wasn’t getting much enjoyment from that today.

But there were some bright sides to this awful day. I might not be too late for work. I definitely was going to be late but not as late as I thought when Lydia parked herself in my room and refused to leave until we talked. And now Lydia was making me breakfast. And the best part of all? Talking about her and Alicia meant I didn’t have to think about me and Ryan.

Not that any of this made any sense. Okay, Alicia couldn’t have sex. Wait, maybe she could. She just didn’t want to. Yeah, I didn’t think she had a medical condition where… no, I wasn’t going to guess. I wasn’t going to think about her private parts. Maybe it was, like, just how she was. Ryan liked guys, Lydia liked girls, I liked both, and Alicia liked neither.

No, that couldn’t be right either. She was dating Lydia. Alright, even knowing Lydia might make fun of my general ignorance, I had to ask for clarification. “You and Alicia, like, kiss?” I needed a mental picture. Wait, ew, not literally.

“Of course we kiss.” She faced the stove while she made pancakes, but I could hear her roll her eyes. She rolled her eyes loudly.

“But you don’t do other stuff?” I wondered next. Maybe this was dumb and obvious to her, but I was just trying to understand. Wasn’t even sure these questions would help me do that but maybe they would at least help me think of better ones.

Would it be possible for Alicia not to know what she liked? Like on the checklist of sexual activities, maybe she had to try each one and then decide to cross them off her list or not… that really didn’t sound right. Didn’t sound totally wrong, but it really didn’t seem like a good idea to suggest that an asexual person should do sexual stuff just to be for sure.

She turned around for a moment, regarding me suspiciously. “Why are you asking about what my girlfriend and I do together?” Fair’s fair. No, she didn’t care about fair.

“Because I have no clue?” It sounded like a question, but it was true. Duh. I just didn’t know me not having a clue was something I’d ever have to explain to her. I thought she just assumed I had no clue, like Zach did, and that made it easier for everyone involved. I didn’t know if my eye roll was strong enough to be heard when not looking at my face, but she was looking at my face, so she could see it.

“Not because you think it’s hot,” she clarified. One hand flipped a pancake while the other was on her hip as she regarded me frankly.

Why would her and Alicia kissing and stuff be hot?  Oh, because two girls. Maybe that could be hot… if one of those girls wasn’t practically my sister and the other one wasn’t… whatever Alicia was. And if I hadn’t had a terrible sexual encounter with my boyfriend the night before. “I’m with a guy now,” I reminded Lydia.

“That doesn’t mean you don’t like girls.” Guess she was appeased though because she turned around again.

“Yeah, whatever.” Yep, bi pride. I would wave my bi flag later. I focused on the topic we were discussing. “Alicia doesn’t feel whatever it is that tells her, let’s have sex, right? Well, what if you guys were kissing or whatever and she did feel that? I mean, is that possible?”

Also, did bi people have a flag? No, wasn’t the time for that.

“We make out and stuff.” The words sounded a little short, but Lydia sounded like that a lot, so I couldn’t tell if that meant something or was just regular. “Some stuff,” she added. “Not all the stuff,” she finished lamely. Lydia brought the food over to the table. She had a look on her face like she had no idea what she was talking about.

“Is that difficult? To do stuff and then stop?” Always was a challenge for me and Ryan. Or we thought it was, maybe all that had been a blessing in disguise.

“Kind of. I think because we’re still figuring out how we work together. I mean, I didn’t think this was even an option, not anytime soon at least.” She had a faraway look in her eyes for a moment, then she shook her head. “It will be easier once we know. I hope.”

“I’m sure it will be,” I assured. “If you guys do some stuff, and you’re still figuring out how it works, then couldn’t being, uh, intimate together be a part of that?”

Lydia rolled her eyes when I said intimate. “In theory.” Sounded like she had more to say… but then she didn’t say any of it.

“How do you know?” I pressed when she went quiet. “Maybe she likes you that way? You’re the right person.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” Lydia said, glaring at me.

Maybe her hormones or sex drive or whatever were just idling, the engine on but the car not moving, until the right person got in the driver’s seat and stepped on the gas. All she had needed was to find the right girl. Though, huh, maybe that was bad. I remember my parents hoping I’d find the right girl and get over Ryan. Maybe it didn’t work like that.

In case there was any doubt, I still had no clue how this worked. There probably wasn’t any doubt.

“Do you know how it works?” I didn’t tell her my car analogy because that might be offensive to compare women to cars. Being a car sounded pretty cool to me though.

“Of course!” Lydia glared at me.

Lydia glared at me a lot, and it was early, and I had pancakes to eat, so I began cutting my food without paying her much attention. She didn’t usually mind being ignored, think she preferred it, but when she was expressing how little she thought of something or someone, then she wanted attention.

I started paying attention because I had accidentally earned her wrath, I did that a lot, and sometimes violence followed the wrath. Looked like Lydia wanted to take the knife she was using to cut her pancakes and stab me in the throat with it instead.

Lydia’s reaction to not being in control, feeling insecure, and a whole lot of other stuff was anger, so none of that fazed me. I wasn’t a complete moron, so I paid attention in order to defend myself, but I wasn’t fazed. I waited her out and she sighed.

“I thought I understood how it worked,” she admitted quietly, staring down at her pancakes and biting her lip, then she shook her head. “Might be just as clueless as you.”

“Sorry,” I told her sincerely. I was as clueless as me all the time and it wasn’t fun. “I don’t think I’ll be able to help you with this.”

She rolled her eyes. “I never thought that was an option.” She could at least pretend!

“I hate you,” I told her sincerely.

“Oh Luke, you’re my only hope,” Lydia said. Her voice was dry and not at all believable. “I need your big brain so badly.” Her face turned wicked. “Did Ryan say that to you last night?” Just swapping out the word brain for a different part of the anatomy, her eyes seemed to suggest.

I was the one who wanted to grab my knife and stab her. I tried to. Well, I mimed doing that but wasn’t really going to, and Lydia brought her knife up to block mine anyway, so we had a mini swordfight with our butter knifes for a minute until we calmed down and ate our food.

Holy crap, these were good pancakes. Maybe better than my mom’s, and just having that thought made me look around wildly for a second, afraid she’d jump out at me from the shadows and ask why I betrayed her, but nothing happened, so I told Lydia, “These pancakes are good.”

“Family recipe,” she told me easily, then what she said registered with her. “Old family.” As in the one she had before this one, her biological family. “I mean, uh. Mom used to say the secret ingredient was love.”

“You cooked for me with love?” I asked in amusement. First good food and now this; the day was turning around.

“No! That’s bullshit.” She scowled. “The secret ingredient is a shit-ton of butter.”

Butter. It was better than love.

At the moment, yeah, that sounded about right.

Boyfriends, bowling, and bloodlust

Having a character like Ryan Miller who doesn’t always play by the rules of the world when he can make stuff up instead is fun because it gives me a chance to take something normal like bowling and then make it much weirder.

In this case, that means Ryan thinks bowling should be like a monarchy with guards and rulers and prizes. Well, the prizes are just cause prizes are awesome. Duh.

Despite having no experience ever bowling and only respecting the sport because it includes outfit changes (the shoes), Ryan is determined to kick ass when on a double date with his boo Luke and his friends Alicia and Lydia.

The following is a scene from the bowling date in One New Start and some art. Ryan and Luke are on one team with the girls on the other, and Ryan and Luke really enjoy winning, each other, winning again, and each other again.

~

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Ryan

Bowling. Was. AWESOME.

Winning helped. Winning was the best. The girls were trailing in our metaphorical dust. Luke and I were totally gracious winners.

Just kidding, we were so stupidly obnoxious, the worst winners ever. Hey, we won at being bad winners too! Alicia and Lydia got more and more annoyed while losing harder and harder.

One magical time, I almost got a strike!

A lot of times, I got less than almost a strike.

“Okay, you’re up,” Luke told me, handing me my ball.

I started with the pink one for little girls because it looked like fun, but I was using a regular black ball now because I was a man, grrr, and I wanted to win dammit.

“Eyes on the prize,” my boyfriend instructed.

“There are prizes?” Bowling just got even better.

“I’ll get you a prize afterward,” Luke promised. Yay! “Focus,” he ordered a moment later, knowing prizes were dancing around behind my eyes. His eyes blazed with fierceness. He was a commander, readying his troops for war.

I raised the fist not holding the ball in the air, looked towards the pins, and gave my best war cry. “Wooo!” I ignored how girly that war cry was.

Luke nodded, smacked me on the ass, and sent me off to war. Bowling.

I marched up, squared my shoulders, let the ball fly and—

I knocked them all down.

I hit all the pins! On the first try! I did the thing! Strike! I punched my fist out in front of me, like I was going to strike. No, that was what it was called. That was the first strike I had ever bowled because this was the first time I had ever bowled.

I stood there looking at the pins, wondering if they were going to pop up and say just kidding.

Luke Chambers screamed in the background. Hollering for me. Excited for me. “YAY, RYAN, YOU DID IT!”

I turned around in a daze and there he was, jumping out of his seat. Face alight with excitement and caught up in the moment. He was beautiful. Always was, but now he was beautiful for me, because I did the thing.

“MY BOYFRIEND GOT A STRIKE!” He hollered and Lydia snickered. “CRAP,” he yelled a moment later. “SHOULD I HAVE YELLED THAT?” Did he know he was still yelling? “OH WELL, WOOHOOO. GO RYAN!”

I went. Flinging myself into Luke and he was there and ready to catch me and we jumped up and down together, celebrating like lunatics, big grins on both our faces.

Bowling date! The rest is available in One New Start.

A quote from nothing (Also books and gay magicians)

Soon as I started writing this post, intending to share an image quote, I got sidetracked and thought of something from Arrested Development, so I will now journey down this detour and see where it goes.

First order of business is, of course, the obligatory disclaimer. I, F.N. Manning, being an Arrested Development fan of Sound(ish) Mind and Body, and having seen all the episodes and seasons while in possession of a brain, do hereby acknowledge that the new offerings aren’t as good as the old ones.

If you like AD, you will never in your life be able to have a convo about the show without talking about how the Netflix seasons aren’t as good.

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And now, a very brief version of the story of one family and their disappointing magician relative

Do I sound a little bitter? I didn’t hate the new stuff. (It wasn’t as good the original, I agree and I know, but I didn’t hate it) And without the new stuff, there would be no gay-magician Gob in all his glorious gay-magician glory.

blunderI would never want to live in a world without the beautiful trashcan fire that was Gob Bluth and Tony Wonder. Two narcissistic showmen with few redeeming qualities realize that they’re alike enough to fall in love with the only person they could ever fall in love with: themselves.

A wild and very entertaining ride to watch. Gob, a person who only knows how to make a giant spectacle of himself had very little experience with being a human being suddenly had to handle real emotions in his over-the-top, completely stupid way. Basically, he was very suited to being in peak gay disaster mode, but he also got just about as close to acceptance and honesty as a person like him is capable.

Gob and Tony also have one of the best and most accurate couple names: Blunder.

Closer to what I actually intended to talk about

The very precise and thoughtful way I come up with titles for blog posts is just by writing down whatever and then going, eh, good enough. As soon as I wrote, a quote from nothing, it made me think of the moment (in the 4th season of AD) where Tobias starts singing what sounds like a show tune.

Why is that hilarious? I have no idea. I think it’s hilarious. That’s basically the story of AD, you either love it and all of it is brilliant for reasons you aren’t really sure of (minus the new seasons) or you don’t care about it at all.

At long last

We get to my original point, which is an image quote related to Ryan and Luke from the One Little Word series, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t actually from any of the books. Unless it is. Keeping track of things is hard.

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Ryan and Luke are really good at being giant idiots together! So that’s… something.

No one dies in this book!

Horror movies are not something I enjoy. Doesn’t really matter if the subject is actually frightening to me. If there is ominous music and something jumps out of the shadows, I will jump too, except I’m jumping due to terror.

Every time I have watched a horror movie, my first thought is, why am I watching this? Then, as it begins, I generally spend a few moments going, hey, this is nice, why can’t it just stay like this?

Because at the beginning of the scary movies, there’s calm, happy people just going about their day. Excited to go camping or to a house that totally isn’t haunted. I like those parts. And maybe it’s a lot less interesting if people just have a pleasant day and nobody dies, but I’d be okay with that.

Naturally, this doesn’t have a lot to do with the point of this post. This is a snippet from One New Start. It’s from the beginning, where life is going right. There are no monsters in this book, but there may be other challenges. Eventually. Just not in the beginning where everything is great.

Ryan

The stars were up there above us, filling the night sky like they were meant for private viewing by us and us alone, as if we were in our own private planetarium. We were laying out on the hood of Luke’s car, and he had his arm stretched out behind me, so it was my pillow. A solid, unyielding pillow that would never sell in stores because it was odd and misshapen. No one would buy it except me, who would purchase every last one.

We shared a few quiet moments just gazing up at the sky. Together.

“I’ll keep on keeping on,” Luke said. “Being boring me while you take a normal thing like having new experiences and find ways to make it extreme or scary.”

There was no guarantee I would do that! Unless one counted past experiences and my personality as a guarantee.

“I want new experiences!” I defended. Being not crazy could be part of that.

“You’re still going to be the same person while you’re having them,” he reasoned.

“I guess.” I did like me. But there were so many options out there. “Unless I can be Cher? Can I be Cher?” I crossed my fingers and held them up so he could see them.

“Don’t want to date Cher,” he replied. Aww. Sweet.

Also, that wasn’t a no, so maybe I could be Cher… then again, one of the only things I had going for me that Cher didn’t have was that Luke Chambers wanted to date me, so I wasn’t giving that up.

“Nicholas Cage?” I offered instead. He was another guy.

“Even worse.” His disgusted face was so cute.

If the opportunity presented itself to be Nick Cage, I would totally do that just to freak Luke out, but otherwise I would be me. That sounded just fine actually. I had great people in my life, great things to look forward to, and a really great boyfriend.

This was going to be an incredible year.

Add don’t die to the end of all of these, a bucket list by Ryan Miller

I never run out of words to think, write, type, or other things you can do with words, until the moment I am supposed to use them for a purpose. Besides writing books, because that would be bad for an author to have trouble coming up with words.

Words are an important part of books. That was me either being super obvious or providing you with helpful information if you somehow had no idea what a book was.

The reason I couldn’t come up with anything to say for a moment is because it’s hard to know what to talk about when discussing a list of random, unrelated activities. Other than, hello, this is a list of random, unrelated activities.

Ryan comes up with a bucket list or a list of things to try or very dangerous ideas in One New Start.

Here are some items from the list that didn’t make it in, along with some that probably did, but don’t ask me to tell you the difference.

Ryan’s bucket list for senior year! *jazz hands*

Learn sweet dances and dance moves for prom
Play chicken in a tractor
Fire guns in the air like Yosemite Sam
Teach a robot how to love
Make friends with a robot
Dine and dash if that’s possible without the guilt eating me alive
Eradicate all guilt from the world without thinking of the consequences
Think of the consequences, go on an emotional journey
Write a book about my experiences while bringing back guilt
Be drag queen for a night? Include Zach, so he wont make fun of me if I’m an ugly girl.
Find perfect drag name.
Ryan… gender neutral, but not very exciting.
Go hunting if it’s not too gross and if there’s a way I won’t die.
Eat something deep fried at a fair and don’t die
Ride all the rides at an amusement park
Go to space
Drive over the grand canyon
Break a board in half with sweet karate moves
Make friends with a lion

More on Mondays, deleted scene

There’s a part in One Little Lie where there’s a Very Gay Double Date, and I had fun writing it, which is probably why there’s so much of it. Here’s a deleted scene.

Things to know: Ryan and Luke are dating. So are Lydia and Alicia. They’re in the car, heading to a gay club.

~

Ryan

Lydia and I had our differences, but I’d never loved her more. Her bad attitude and attempt to ruin our night meant that I wasn’t the one doing anything stupid. I was actually kinda relaxed. It was hard not to be. I got to sit in the front because my boyfriend was driving. That was one of those little, totally insignificant things I never thought I’d get to do in high school; the kind of thing I wanted because I didn’t think I could have. Gotta say, it wasn’t bad.

The scenery outside was miles of boring, flat farmland, so I looked at Luke instead. Orange light spilled in the car then faded and the shadows played across his face. He occasionally took my hand and held it while he drove. Totally unsafe but I couldn’t protest. I was too busy being happy and soaking up this moment in case the first double date nerves came back.

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“Um, Ryan,” came Alicia’s voice from the backseat, “Did you want any of our beverages? Because now is the time as, uh, we’ve almost drank them all.” ‘We’ was more like Lydia but I didn’t call her on it and declined a drink.

I got high on life. Which sounded lame, but I just didn’t drink very often. I had poor reflexes and an inability to keep my thoughts to myself at the best of times, so I didn’t need help from alcohol to make a fool of myself.

“It’s okay, you can drink,” Luke told me.

I eyed him. “You’re just saying that so you can take advantage of me,” I accused. Though if that was the case, why was I objecting? He could totally get me drunk and take advantage of me.

He rolled his eyes. “I mean it; you’re a fun drunk.” Maybe I was warming up to alcohol.

I turned around to look at the girls and perhaps ask for some of the alcohol, but Lydia had her head tipped back as she drained the rest of the liquid. The long, pale line of her neck didn’t do anything for me, but it distracted Alicia enough that she didn’t notice my gaze. Huh. How did that work? She liked the way Lydia looked but didn’t want to do anything about it?

Well, probably. You didn’t have to want to hump something to appreciate its aesthetic value, otherwise museums and art galleries would be really weird.

I turned back to Luke. “No, if you’re not drinking I won’t either. Solidarity boo.”

Luke’s hand went from the wheel to land on my thigh, squeezing once and then pulling away. That moment was way better than booze.

~

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.