New book! Hooray!

Happy book release day! This is in no way a national holiday, but my book Falling in Love and Other Bad Ideas is out now.

Sometimes bad ideas are the hardest ones to resist…
Zach Ahmad is more used to fooling around than falling in love. In fact, the bi baseball player’s fondness for having a good time earns him many parental lectures from his disapproving father. But Zach isn’t expecting anything to change during his senior year, until he literally falls into the arms of the new boy at school.

When the new guy isn’t impressed by his charms, Zach can’t help but be intrigued by the dog-lover and do-gooder. Even if his meddling friends are trying to turn his life into a romcom. Just when Zach is ready to take a chance on something real, a curveball from his dad puts his whole future in jeopardy. Can Zach face his biggest challenge ever and still fall in love, or will he fall flat?

Falling in Love and Other Bad Ideas is an LGBT romance about what happens when a guy who never falls in love finds himself in a romantic comedy filled with meet cutes, matchmaking friends, and supposedly adorable canines. While characters in this story appear in the One More Thing universe, this standalone Zach novel can be read separately from the other books.


That’s the official stuff, but I wanted to say a little more about the book.

Inspiration: Zach is the kind of character who takes over. At least, he is for me. When writing this series, I would look back over a scene he’s in and remind myself the book wasn’t about him. Which meant naturally I needed to make a novel about him.

Our common traits: Sometimes I use a specific trait or event from my life, but I usually do more an inspired by true events thing than an accurate recounting. Zach and I sort of have lots in common in that we’re not-white bi people who avoid serious situations, and we don’t believe in the religions we were born into. However, we’re only share those traits in broad strokes, the more specific one goes, the more different we become. The part where I did draw inspiration from my own life is in how Zach’s parents don’t address him being bi.

Differences: Zach is confident in a way few people, including myself, are. His ego is both his biggest strength and weakness. And when focusing a book on him, it’s a great place to start as we test his confidence and see what’s under his bravado.

Sneak peek at new gay romance

In romcom terms, Zach Ahmad is the playboy who never falls in love. Here he is living his best life at the start of Falling in Love (and Other Bad Ideas).

Zach

Some people thought there were no guarantees in life. Those people hadn’t met Macy Owens. As far as sure things went, her level equaled water being wet or my best friends saying moronic stuff. Simply put, the girl was easy. Did I seem too mean? Game respected game. And me? I was easy, breezy, beautiful—no, that was something else.  

While rejection seemed unlikely, I couldn’t go out looking average. If flirting and having fun were official sports, I would be a major leaguer. My professional pride prompted me to be at my best. Checking my reflection in the glass door of the restaurant I stood in front of, I spotted a handsome bastard. Me, of course. I also thought I saw this guy I used to hook up with working inside, but no, I was the pretty one.

We should take a moment to admire my soft, lovingly moisturized brown skin free of pores. Or my expertly styled dark hair, athletic body, and cunning smirk. And as a high school senior, I swaggered around like I ruled the world. Though to be fair, I did that even before this year. Dressed in tight jeans and a snug old baseball t-shirt, the total Zach package was, in a word, irresistible.

This rural town lacked an abundance of dining options, but this establishment was one of the mid-priced chain restaurants we did have called, I don’t know, Bland White People Restaurant. My company for the evening wanted to eat here before the fun part, so she selected this place. I agreed because she had a belly button ring and her parents weren’t home for the weekend.

I typically won contests of style, but Macy bested me in the fashionably late game we were apparently playing. The guy I used to hook up with, Brendan Carver, tended bar for the evening, so I went to speak to him. Recently 21, he took classes at a local community college, had insane upper body strength, and I probably couldn’t list anymore facts regarding him. Fortunately, I arrived in front of him at the bar.

“Want a drink?” he asked.

I grinned. “Oh forward, I like that in a man.”

He rolled his eyes. “I’m the bartender.”

“Another great quality,” I enthused in fine form. I could go from zero to flirty quicker than a snap of the fingers.

Crossing his arms, he wouldn’t play. “Knock it off.”

Pouting slightly, I told him, “I forgot you’re no fun.”

Brendan went back to work, which I expected. We hadn’t hooked up in a while. Several guys I used to fool around with were more careful when near me in public. It made sense as I came out while they were still in the closet. Sitting on a barstool, I could still enjoy the view in front of me. A view which was…. okay, mostly average. In looks and in that watching a guy slice lemons wasn’t exactly the highlight of my life.

The assembly line which produced Midwest farm boy types gave Brendan a no-nonsense set to his jawline along with plain brown hair and eyes. A boring picture suited to this boring town. Except for his muscles, which were glorious. His sturdy frame exuded strength from working on his family farm and wrestling all through high school. Hey, I knew more facts. Guess he got a second job here.

Brendan had never been much of a talker, and no temper went with his strength typically. However, if provoked in the right way, or if I asked very, very nicely, then things could get interesting. This one time—

“Stop it,” he ordered, feeling my stare.

Innocence wasn’t well suited to me, but I tried my best.  “I’m not doing anything.”

“Stop it,” he repeated.

“Is that any way to talk to a paying customer?” I scolded lightly.

“You haven’t ordered anything yet.”

Don’t mind if I do. “I’ll have a margarita on the rocks with a double shot of tequila.”

“Nice try.” Yes, I was 18, not 21, and— “We both know how you get with tequila in you.” Oh, well look who came out to play.

Eyes locking, focus narrowing, the atmosphere between us became positively smoldering. I smirked, body going loose and inviting. He did the opposite, crossing his arms as his face closed off. Yet his eyes radiated heat. If the bar weren’t in the way, one of us would be closing the distance between our bodies. Well, I wouldn’t let a little obstacle like that stop me. I reached out and—

“I told you to knock that off,” he spoke gruffly, side stepping my hand.

“You started it this time.”

“High school boys are so juvenile.”

“That’s not what you said when we—”

“I have another customer.” He left to bring a man at the other end of the bar his check. I watched Brendan’s green work shirt stretch taut over his big shoulders when Macy found me.

“Are we eating at the bar?” she asked as Brendan finished with his customer and came back our way.

“Nope.” I nodded over to him. “Just trying to sweettalk the barkeep here into parting with some of his finest or cheapest liquor, but he refuses.”

“I see. Maybe I could convince him?” She pushed her cleavage out towards him.

“Not a chance,” he answered without taking the bait.

“I’ll go get us a table,” she said to me and left.

“I see why you two get along,” Brendan noted.

I feigned offense. “If you’re implying that me or my lady friend are promiscuous—”

“I wouldn’t say anything of the sort about a nice girl I don’t even know.” He looked around before getting out a shot glass and filling it with tequila. “You though.” He slid the shot to me discreetly. “You’re a slut,” he said with a wink, his voice as dark and rich as the top shelf whiskey behind him.

“It pays off.” I down the drink quickly, feeling the heat of it in my throat, liquor seeming potent when coupled with his gaze. I took a breath, nodding to him and preparing to leave to go find my date.

“Hey, wait. Did you know I got accepted to Brown?”

“Mazel tov,” I responded, ignoring how the words felt somewhat unsettling on my tongue due to a complicated situation that had virtually nothing to do with me.

“Yep, so next week, I’m telling my parents I’m ga—” His eyes scanned our surroundings, afraid of being overheard. “Well, you know what I’m telling them.”

“I understand.” It would suck if someone overheard him here and outed him right before he planned on doing it himself.

“Anyway,” he spoke while bestowing me with the gift of another shot. “If you wanna get together after the big announcement? We could do something. You can help me celebrate if it goes well, or distract me if it doesn’t.”

This shot tasted even better than the first, head swimming pleasantly with liquor and ideas for our future encounter. I nodded my assent. “See you then.”

I went to join my date for the evening. I knew I was good, but setting up plans to hook up with one person while on a date with someone else?  Sometimes I even surprised myself. And these two people were both good times, and they weren’t looking for anything serious from me, exactly what I was looking for from them.

Basically, I was the best. My life was the best. Everything was incredible and not at all boring… okay. Occasionally, a stray thought about where I went from here entered my mind. How did one improve upon perfection?

Whatever. Life was good. And if I had to choose between life being good but boring or terrible but interesting, well. Luke once told me never to answer that question. It might be the only time he said something sensible enough to listen to.

-Order your copy here. The book comes out on Oct. 18

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.

~~~

bookb

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.

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.

More sales

The holidays are over, well except for New Years, but there’s still reasons to celebrate… again, besides New Years. F.N. Manning books are on sale! Okay, I know that’s not an especially fancy reason to celebrate, but still, discounts are cool.

One Little Word and One Little Lie are on sale from Dec. 26- Jan. 2.

One Little Word Summary:

What happens when the most popular guy in school must depend on a social pariah to save his skin?

Luke Chambers is about to find out. When one stupid word heard by the wrong ears sends the captain of the baseball team’s life into chaos, his plan to get out of trouble involves the one kid who seems to hate him.

Ryan just wants to have some fun at the jock’s expense. He won’t be stupid enough to fall for the gorgeous blonde with green eyes, dimples and impressive arm muscles from pitching. Okay, he might like to look, but it’s difficult being the only gay kid in a small town.

Relationships are never easy, especially when both people want different things. Ryan wants a boyfriend who wants him back. Luke wants things to start making sense again. But what if they both wanted the same thing? What if they want each other?

Could one terrible word lead to something great?

One Little Word is an LGBT teen fiction book for anybody who loves fun romantic comedies, fake boyfriends and silly situations, enemies becoming friends and opposites who attract. This gay romance novel also includes a ridiculous amount of hand holding. This is the first book in a series, though this novel can stand alone.

July in Christmas

You know how Christmas in July is a thing? Yes, it is actually the season for Christmas, so there’s no need to worry about another made up Christmas in like seven months, but this won’t make sense if I didn’t remind you of Christmas in July first (it might not make sense anyway.)

But anyway, instead of Christmas in July, why not have July in Christmas? Do not go outside in your swimsuit if it’s snowing, but you can have the feeling of July during the holiday. Several F.N. Manning books are on sale that feature summer, so you can pretend it’s summer… if you want. You could also just read the books. Up to you.

These titles are on sale Dec. 18-25:

Summer Romance

Beach Bum

Pool Boy

Happy July in Christmas or just Happy Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate!

To bi or not to bi? That is the question

A snippet from my book One Little Lie that is available now. Enjoy!

Luke

I didn’t like guys. People thinking of me as gay still felt uncomfortable. It was a label that didn’t quite fit. I used the word in my head sometimes because it was better than saying homosexual or something, but I hated hearing it out loud in reference to me. Not that there was anything wrong with being gay! My boyfriend was gay. But me? I didn’t feel gay. I didn’t think I was gay.

Okay, I did have a boyfriend.

And I liked my boyfriend. I could never admit he was good looking to his face because he would become more insufferable than he already was, but I was attracted to him. I never thought long limbs, a flat chest, and decidedly masculine hands were a turn on before, but Ryan was different. And there was nothing girly about him even if he once wore heels and a cheerleading outfit.

I liked his body, every masculine inch of it. But other guys? Gross.

I guess my best friend Zach was pretty or whatever. I could admit that. It didn’t mean I was attracted to him, just that I had eyes. Anyone could see that. Whatever. I just wasn’t attracted to guys… though, okay, maybe I wasn’t terribly attracted to girls at the moment either.

All I could say was that guys didn’t sound appealing and girls didn’t sound appealing, but man, now that I’d mentioned Ryan in a girl’s cheerleading uniform? I was definitely into it. So, that was, what, like a tie?

Maybe my fondness for that visual didn’t say anything about me. Except that I was pretty into the person I was currently seeing and no one else measured up. I’d never felt that way about anyone before, so it was both thrilling and terrifying. Figuring out my sexuality on top of everything else was really difficult.

Did liking one guy make me gay? It felt like everyone in this town thought the answer was yes, but I still wasn’t sure. So yeah. When I told my parents, I didn’t want to be in this this unnamed, unknown place. I wanted to have answers for them.

Right now? I had none.

 

When Katie Met Cassidy

Libraries have changed a lot since I was a kid. Wow, that sentence immediately made me feel old. I guess most of it is the same actually. I mean, how much can libraries really change? It’s a place where you get books. And it used to be that place where I go could to play the Magic School Bus computer game, but I don’t care about that anymore.

I’ve been taking my nephew to tutoring at the library and there’s two big differences I’ve noticed. One, some libraries have 3D printers now. I’m sure there’s lots of academic, important reasons for a library to have one of those, but the only reason I know about it is because my nephew used it to make a fidget spinner. They’re everywhere now, but I went all over with him looking for one last year until he printed one himself.

But also, the content changes.

41nHt1QO1NL.jpgI’m from the Midwest. The area I was raised is probably less liberal than other big cities but more liberal than every small town in the Midwest. And I myself am super liberal. Would that be a lame superhero or a cool one? Super Liberal would give everyone healthcare and make it safe for trans people to use the bathrooms they want. So, not a terrible superhero all in all.

Anyway, right when you go into the library, there’s a shelf with new books and cool books that the librarians set up that people might be interested in. I was trying to put back the sports book my nephew just grabbed (because we’d been in earlier in the week and he’d gotten as many books and DVDs as he could carry, he didn’t need more) when I saw a pink cover and a pair of lips.

When Katie Met Cassidy, the title said. What are the chances Cassidy is also a girl, I thought to myself. Probably not very likely. They wouldn’t just have a super gay book out where anyone could see it. There’s children here. I checked anyway. It was a super gay book.

It was an awesome moment. That book wouldn’t have been there on the front shelf, probably wouldn’t have even been allowed in the library, when I was a kid. But it was now. Out in front where anyone could pick it up and look it. A book the librarian thought other people would like or needed to read. Progress and stuff. Awesome.

Here’s the summary of the book for those that are curious:

When it comes to Cassidy, Katie can’t think straight.

Katie Daniels, a twenty-eight-year-old Kentucky transplant with a strong set of traditional values, has just been dumped by her fiancé when she finds herself seated across a negotiating table from native New Yorker Cassidy Price, a sexy, self-assured woman wearing a man’s suit. At first neither of them knows what to make of the other, but soon their undeniable connection will bring into question everything each of them thought they knew about sex and love.

When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy about gender and sexuality, and the importance of figuring out who we are in order to go after what we truly want. It’s also a portrait of a high-drama subculture where barrooms may as well be bedrooms, and loyal friends fill in the spaces absent families leave behind. Katie’s glimpse into this wild yet fiercely tightknit community begins to alter not only how she sees the larger world, but also where exactly she fits in.