The road to where is paved with good intentions? Probably somewhere awesome. This is relevant to the quote I have to share with you today. As high school seniors, Ryan and Luke have been putting off discussing the future until they’re ready. This is supposed to save them from freaking out and causing a huge mess. Does it work? Maybe. But probably not.
In this excerpt fromOne Big Decision, Ryan is discussing what senior year means for him and his relationship.
In our relationship, panicking and freaking out has historically caused anything from a mild inconvenience to a cataclysmic event that ended the dinosaurs. When discussing the future, we decided not to start the chaos early. Not worrying about it until the time came was great, but it couldn’t last forever unfortunately.
Soon high school ended. College beckoned with its new opportunities and limitless potential. Living in this rural, fairly small community all my life, I’d probably been looking forward to college since grade school. The only opposite silver-lining was all the things that might happen to a high school relationship once high school ends…
When I started One Little Word, it was an experiment in writing and publishing something for the first time. I did not give enough thought to the title or the possibility I would base all titles off this first one, and I only had a fun idea to play with and see where it went.
Starting with the jock/nerd and fake relationship tropes, I started writing. And now nearly ten books later, the final novel in the series is here. One Big Decision is out now!
These zany, slice of life novels are contemporary gay romances that aren’t for everyone as they full of so much snark and silliness, but I’ve had a great time writing them and getting to know these characters so well, and I’m grateful for everyone who went on this journey with me, Ryan, and Luke.
In this final book, Ryan and Luke must figure out their plans for the future separately and together while enjoying the remaining days of senior year. In this scene, Ryan and Luke are buying tickets for the prom. This involves talking to one of their favorite teachers, who happens to be kinda scary but has a soft spot for them, and trying to guess the prom theme.
From a distance, the table in the cafeteria selling prom tickets resembled a Valentine’s Day explosion made more garish by being late. Up close, the glittery red hearts made of construction paper, shiny material, and naturally, a shitload of glitter… they weren’t hearts at all, rather different shapes with a central theme, the theme being a sea of… red?
“Do you know what the theme is?” I asked Boyfriend as we took our place at the end of a small line.
“Love or something?” he guessed.
“Romantic,” I noted.
When Luke bought our tickets, he asked Mrs, Sharp, “Hey, will you be there?”
“I’m chaperoning,” she answered, tone making it clear she wouldn’t sell these tickets to teenagers otherwise.
“Because you identify with the theme of A Violent and Painful Death?” I guessed.
“No,” she said shortly.
“You don’t identify or that’s not the theme?” I clarified.
“Both?” she tried.
“What is the theme?”
She glanced to the decorations surrounding the table. “Red?”
“Ohhh, the theme is Blood,” I realized. “I understand now. You’re what causes the blood.”
“That’s not accurate… I think. At any rate,” she continued. “The principal suggested I ought to experience one senior prom as an educator here before leaving.”
“You could say no,” I pointed out. “What’s he gonna do, fire you?” This was her last year teaching at this school before she went to greener or at least bigger and gayer pastures.
“Actually, it sounded like a good idea.” She frowned while watching me do a happy jig about having prom tickets. “Though I could be wrong.”
When a new cover got made for One Little Word, I showed it off on my mailing list. I did not remember to post it on my blog, which I only discovered when I couldn’t find the cover in my images. Oops. Better late than never?
Quick summary: A jock screws up and must depend on the one guy who hates him while they try to sell the ruse of their secret fake relationship, which is getting less secret and fake with each passing day. This involves lots of hand holding, which brings us to the cover:
This isn’t the first time I’ve had an illustrated cover made, but it’s the first time I knew I was getting an illustrated cover. Technically, their heights should be reversed as the guy in pink is taller, which I keep telling myself doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Also, maybe he’s slouching or they’re standing on uneven ground.
Anyway, I also wanted to share an excerpt from the book. I did not know which part to share, so I decided to use one of my favorite scenes. In it, Ryan and Luke are at a grade school fair, and they are turning every game they play into a competition.
As this bit has two lines I love, that’s probably part of why I enjoy it so much. Especially since these lines, in my opinion, don’t make for great quotes and are hard to appreciate out of context, so I unfortunately haven’t made image quotes with them. If you want to guess the lines I love, go ahead. I’ll tell you after the scene.
LUKE STARED DOWN MY GRINNING FORM, his arms crossed against his chest, a reverse of our earlier position. Except his arms were more impressive with muscles bulging and straining against the material of his shirt.
I teased him to avoid the distraction. “Now you’re the sore loser.”
He wasn’t impressed with my victory. “Cakewalks are entirely luck based.”
“There was no rule there had to be skill involved.”
The possibility of him winning sweet treats kept him from complaining when I selected the cakewalk. Maybe I had good karma stored up because I always won cakewalks. I held a cake wrapped in plastic in my hands, funfetti with white frosting and sprinkles. Luke wanted me to pick brownies instead; he was so weird. Funfetti was the best.
“You’re at least sharing that cake with me,” he argued.
Luke had given me a root beer when he won the ring toss, an unexpectedly sweet gesture. He wanted to bribe me into the dunk tank, so the present wasn’t sweet. The nice part was how he remembered my beverage of choice. I may share my dessert, but he didn’t need to know that yet.
We did basically every event, jostling and trash talking each other at the slightest opportunity. Things that weren’t even really a competition we turned into one, like the duck pond. Except we got into an argument about what constituted winning, getting a duck with a higher number attached or drawing a duck that earned two candies instead of one.
We had time for one more game before heading back to our booth. The objective for our last game was to knock down cans with beanbags. This was another activity where Luke had an advantage, but Alicia was manning the booth for community service credit, so maybe she would help me out.
She stared at us incredulously when we stepped up to her table. “Isn’t this game a little too easy for you?”
Luke nodded. “For me, but I have to give Ryan a fighting chance.”
“Tell that to the duck pond, jackass,” I fired at him hotly.
“I won the duck pond,” he argued immediately. “Not you.”
Before we could get into it further, Alicia held up her hand. “Yeah, this and the duck pond are for kindergarteners. You know that, right?”
We looked around. The cans were regular empty pop cans, and the beanbags were at least half their size, so it did seem pretty simple. Unless you were five and could barely aim. And the kids in this line were especially young and all of them had parents holding their hands. The adults behind us watched us with exasperation.
The little competitive bubble Luke and I were in burst. It had been so easy to get absorbed in trying to beat him, everything else faded into the background.
“Oh, I guess we shouldn’t do this one then,” Luke said, sounding as silly as I felt.
“No, don’t let that stop you,” Alicia told us. “By all means, play the angriest game of Can Knock-Down the world has ever seen.” Her sarcasm skills were almost as good as mine.
We retreated from her booth as she laughed at us for being giant children. Damn, I wished I hadn’t drunk the root beer Luke gave me. I could have chucked it at her.
While our competition was intense, it had almost been fun. I hadn’t minded being in Luke’s presence then. I’d stopped keeping score at one point, only wanting to beat him so he wouldn’t be as smug.
Plus, maybe he had this ridiculous pout whenever he lost that I wanted to kiss away. Ugh. Being attracted to someone I hated was difficult. I’d feel the urge to punch him one moment and want to shut him up with my tongue in his mouth the next.
“I’m not getting in the dunk tank again,” Luke declared when we got back to our booth. His artificially orange skin looked like a bad spray tan. Yet even orange, he was still hot.
I couldn’t pull off that look so well. “What if I promise not to accidentally dunk you?” I offered.
“That doesn’t stop everyone else who tries to hit the bullseye.”
I smiled. “I may be able to help with that too.”
“I knew it!” He rounded on me in anger. “You’re such a cheater!”
“Do you want to cry about it, or do you want me to rig the game?”
He stopped and paused. Then he decided, “Definitely, definitely rig it.”
–The rest of the story is available here. My favorite lines are ‘Tell that to the duck pond, jackass,’ and ‘By all means, play the angriest game of Can Knock-Down the world has ever seen.’