Plot Device

Have you ever read books before? If so, you know the part in every adventure/fantasy/epic series where the hero faces a mysterious journey. And nobody knows what’s going on, but then someone wise appears and is happy to tell the protagonist more about their destiny. Wow, how great is it they just happened to run into somebody who knows all the relevant information? Except then the wise person opens their mouth, wolves appear, and they totally get eaten by wolves.

To be fair, I guess that doesn’t happen in every adventure book. Only about half. In the other half, the Person Who Knows Everything has to be secretive and can’t tell the hero more because of reasons. Maybe the reasons are good. Maybe they aren’t. What the reader hears is, ‘This is a plot device, so I can’t tell you more information because that would be too easy.’

I was about to discuss something in Witch Eyes, but I can’t. Because of reasons! Actually, the reasons are simple and can be stated clearly, assuming I don’t get attacked by wolves  before completing the next sentence. I wanted to talk about something I appreciated in the novel and then I realized maybe I should be less direct because it’s technically a spoiler.

Witch Eyes uses one of the methods I described, or something similar, to avoid giving too much away. But it comes in spell form, which I really respect, making the plot device something magical. Instead of just writing around the plot device, it’s literally part of the story. Cool!

 

 

Go dancing, a M/M short story

Here is a short story, loosely inspired by the song “Stay Young, Go Dancing” by Death Cab for Cutie.

 

If all the world were a stage, I preferred a behind the scenes role. Yet all eyes were fixed on me as I puzzled my way through slow dancing. I was hyper aware of his warm hand in my own and the heavy weight of my partner’s other hand on my lower back. My dance partner! A bigger commitment couldn’t be assigned. We never even had a conversation before. He only stretched one arm out towards me, and now we were in the middle of the dance floor, two guys with a crowd of eyes watching.

With his dark hair, dark eyes, and an even darker tux, I had trouble looking away. The white dress shirt was unbuttoned at the top, the tie undone but the light purple scrap of fabric hanging loosely around his neck.

“Can’t say I expected this,” I spoke. I tried to follow his lead, the motions not practiced but fluid. “This is crazy.”

“You’re not the only one who thinks so,” he muttered, hand tightening against mine briefly while he glanced toward the spectators.

“It’s just, I’m nobody. And you’re–”

“We both got invited to the same wedding,” you protested.

“And I was under the impression you were, uh that dancing with me wasn’t something you would be interested in.” I should have just said ‘straight,’ but he reminded me of a skittish animal, like he might spook and bolt. I kept talking, perhaps to soothe him, though it mortified me. “This isn’t where I expected the night to go. Me touching your arms. You have nice arms.”

“Uh, thanks.” We spun, slowly. Enough to see two girls from the wedding party gawking. “God, do they have to stare so much?”

“Think so.”

“Don’t have to take their side.” The petulant quality to his voice seemed cute, less menacing without the usual stubble and leather jacket.

“You don’t have to tell people stuff if you aren’t ready, obviously, but. What did you think would happen?”

“I had no clue I would do this until I did. Also, I wasn’t sure you were gonna say yes.”

“You have very nice arms.”

He laughed. “You mentioned.”

We managed to dance without comment for a little while.

Close together with a stranger, someone I’d only seen from afar, it felt weird. Nice too. He smelled woodsy and like the lavender from the centerpieces. The bride’s little brother, he had stood on her side of the altar with women in identical champagne-colored dresses. The groom’s older sister stood on the groom’s side. Cobbling the honorifics together, he became the ‘man of honor,’ her the ‘best maid.’

“Why did you ask me to dance?” I wondered.

He nodded, indicating the happy bride. She picked her dress up as she spun around, showing her neon pink shoes covered with sparkles. The footwear didn’t match well with her color scheme, but I heard her thought process when getting punch. She was the bride, she could do what she wanted, and those shoes were worth clashing.

Even from here, we could hear her laugh. A bright sound as she spun again, her and the groom dancing with a group of kids. The song was slower, romantic, but that didn’t stop the kids or the happy couple.

“She’s really happy,” he noted. “Ecstatic. Annoyingly so.”

“She’s beautiful.”

“Yeah.” He smiled, watching as her and the ring-bearer grabbed hands and jumped up and down while the groom danced with a flower girl on his shoes. “She said why are you frowning, you should feel just as good as me.”

“Can’t say no to the bride?

“Wouldn’t be smart. She told me to dance with whoever I wanted and not to waste time on anyone else. I don’t think she imagined her advice would play out like this.”

The song changed, upbeat now, and fear crossed his face briefly. The song changed abruptly, back to another slower one, the bride lowering her hand after indicating to the DJ he should change it. We had a little more time.

“Regrets?” I wondered.

“Only that any kind of preparation for whatever comes next would have been smart. But holding you and swaying? I can do that.”

“Then I guess just focus on this part?”

“I can do that too.”

We kept dancing.

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?

Being friends with your boyfriend is important. Maybe.

Luke Chambers is captain of the baseball team as a junior. That’s pretty cool. Starting with a positive is better than not starting with a positive, because of science, so that’s the good part. His personal life is a lot more complicated due to his grumpy boyfriend.

Wait, he’s straight. His boyfriend is not straight, but that’s okay because Ryan is actually his “boyfriend.” They get along really well, if you say it like this: Ryan and Luke get along “really well.” While that is not the biggest problem in Luke’s life right now, he thinks it’s the only issue he can solve.

So in this scene from the new edition of One Little Word, Luke is trying to smooth over the animosity between them so they can be friends. You cannot say it like this: Ryan and Luke are going to “be friends.” Because when put like that, it sounds like they won’t really be friends but are something else instead, it’s almost suggestive, and that is very bad.

~

Luke

I drove Ryan home after my baseball game.

“Can we at least try to get to know each other?” I asked. Might as well take this opportunity to clear the air while he can’t run away.

“What’s the point of making nice? You’re just using me to get out of trouble.” Ryan spoke while staring out the window, wanting to ignore me as much as possible.

“Well, have you ever heard about making the best of a bad situation?”

“Yeah, it’s called high school and I do that every day. Though you’re making it especially challenging lately.”

“Maybe you’d have a better time if you weren’t so busy trying to embarrass me,” I reasoned with more patience than I felt.

“That’s the only good part.”

I reminded myself I wanted to make peace. “If we tried, maybe we’d get along. Who knows what we have in common?”

“Nothing,” he responded immediately.

Patience wearing thin, I snapped, “How would you know if you never stop for two seconds to find out?”

“Let’s see, I enjoy microbiology, hot guys, and embarrassing straight jocks with big mouths. How many of those interests do we share?”

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There was no need to answer. I obviously wasn’t a fan of the last thing, and science confused me and wasn’t my best subject.

“I don’t understand why you have to make this so difficult,” I said instead. “Why even do this?”

“For my dad.”

“Even though you clearly hate me and spending time with me?”

“Duh.”

Which wasn’t a great answer for me, but I stopped being annoyed with him. He lived to torment me, yet now I remembered he didn’t hate everything. He really cared about his dad.

“Well, I appreciate what you’re doing for me,” I told him with as much sincerity as I could.

“Does baseball lead to brain damage? I told you, it’s not for y—”

“I’m still grateful. Did I ever thank you? Thank you, you’re a good son.”

~

 

If you outlaw love, only criminals will have guns. Wait what?

What should I title this post? I asked myself while looking at the image, which was literally all that I had on the page. Hey, my brain pointed out, that’s almost a Ke$ha song. Then, upon invoking her name, glitter rained down on me and unicorns were also there or something.

Bonus Ke$ha thoughts!

Anyway, I have to talk about Ke$ha. Guess what? I like Ke$ha. Does she still do the dollar sign in her name? I wanna say no but that’s a hard habit to break. Also, I have to say the same Kesha fact I say literally every time she’s brought up, which is that she’s really smart! Because you can be the patron saint of partying and hangovers and still have a brain, so that’s inspirational or something.

Once, I went to one of her concerts and what I remember is a giant pear costume and a giant penis costume. Along with a mother of some grade schoolers a few rows ahead of my group, who gave up at the point the giant penis entered the stage and she promptly took her children somewhere more family-friendly.

I don’t remember the context for the giant pear. And the context for the giant penis was that I was at a Ke$ha concert.

This is my favorite song of hers, entirely because it is very fun to do the ‘rrrrr” parts of tigerrr or Budweiserrr.

The Original Point

Sharing an image quote from One Little Word is what I originally set out to do, so I should probably do that now.

True story, the app I have for making these graphics is just for my phone where the screen is obviously much smaller. So everything looked fine there but now I don’t think I centered the text right. The important thing is I tried.

Ryan is an embarrassing nerd who likes Luke, and he would really like all of this to not be true, but he’s in a gay romantic comedy, so he doesn’t get his wish. Here are more of his feelings on the matter:

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Happy valentines day!

As a YA gay romance writer, maybe it’s a good idea to post something for Valentines Day. I had this thought on Feb. 18. Depending on how you look at it, I’m either a little late for this year or very early for next year.

Pretend that I am saying one of two things based on your feelings towards this holiday. One: Aww, Valentines Day, so romantic! Two: What a stupid holiday designed to make singles feel bad and sell cards and chocolate.

Then either way, I want to add that I had chocolate covered strawberries on the 14th and they were delicious, which might be redundant because duh, they were chocolate covered strawberries.

Here’s a quote from One Little Lie that I have decided is related to love. It’s about a boy dating another boy, so it counts, but I think I had other image quotes that might have been more appropriate. I’m committed now though, so here it is:

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And now the story of this story

Because I am incapable of on topicing, first I have to say that the title I made up sounds like something Perd Hapley would say. He’s the painfully literal over-explainer and reporter from Parks and Rec for those who aren’t as Perd obsessed. Actually, maybe the title is an actual quote from him? Well, either way, totally intention on my part.

(The only way to improve on the perfection of Perd, in my opinion, is to know his actor is also a reporter in real life and he only plays reporters.)

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pic from reddit

The Story’s Origin Story

Fun fact, or at least one of those things, when I wrote One Little Word, I had no idea what I was doing. It was my first ever YA gay romance and the plot contained such depth and complexity. Just kidding, the original idea was this: so there’s this nerd. And then there’s a jock. And they aren’t friends but then they have to date for reasons.

How did I come up with something so original? Easy, I didn’t try to be unique! I wanted to use popular tropes. Plus, I was also counting on my complete inability to ever keep things simple to ensure the end result would be both familiar and unique.

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Needed a picture, so here’s one with a quote from the book.

Writing this, it sounds like I had a plan with this novel. When I wrote it, again, I had no idea what I was doing. Whether I’ve learned anything since then, who knows, but now I more confidently fumble my way along.

These observations brought to you by my attempts to make a print version of the ebook.

Extreme Makeover Book Edition

Someday I would love for all my books to have print and audio versions. Though, it’s hard to say when that mythical day will arrive. My current print efforts are being done with all the speed of an old, doomed gazelle at a watering hole.

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Another quote

The cool part is that the ebook is getting an update. New cover, expanded scenes, theoretically more editing. Which means, when One Little Word goes on sale, that’s a perfect opportunity to get the new edition, become acquainted with the series, or even leave a review. I’m saying all this as if it’s totally just occurring to me and not something planned at all.

The One Little Word sale is from, oh my god, I literally just looked it up, how do I not remember again? Okay, the sale is from Feb 16-23. The book will be 99 cents the whole time. Yay!

Also, if you have Kindle Unlimited, anytime before April is a good to check out the book. Or any of the books I’ve written. Since they are leaving the KU library. I have as much idea as you whether this will be a permanent change or not, which means I have no idea. Unless you have an idea, then you know more than me, so let me know? That would be kind.

The End

And now, I’m going to start as I began, with gratuitous Perd Hapley.

This is not a book review.

Reading a book takes me roughly 84 years. And then writing a review adds an additional 107 years to the process. So, like, I’m really slow. That’s the point. I finally finished Witch Eyes and while I don’t want to spoil you too much, here’s my overall impression. Are you ready?

It was good.

True story. Well, no, the story is about witches and other supernatural creatures, so I’m pretty sure it’s fiction. 90% certain. But I liked it, that part is true.

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I have heard of Philip Roth.

Okay, so this isn’t a review so much as it is, um. A general commentary on topics related to books and literature. How exciting!

If you want more information about the book, the author Scott Tracey described it as “Romeo and Juliet, but with boys. And witches.” What a badass summary.

Also cool, the author’s interests at the back of the book are listed as “villains, witches, and sarcasm.” I mean, if you were only going to like three things, those would be the three to like.

As I said, I’m done with Witch Eyes. Or at least the first book since its a trilogy. I started The Forbidden by Dante Cullen and may have it read by 2043. Stay tuned.

And Now For More Nonsense – I felt like I needed a header here

Have you heard about this newfangled invention that’s supposed to be all the rage? I think they’re called audio books. I really need to look into those. I’m not good at doing only one thing at a time, not when I could be doing two things. Did you know two things is more than one? Probably, if you can count.

Multitasking makes my ADD brain happy. Though because focus is a challenge, I’m not sure that splitting my focus between two things is very helpful, but it still makes me feel accomplished.

And now I have run out of all the things I intended to say and all the new things I found to say along the way. So instead of awkwardly saying bye, I’m going to end with a quote from Witch Eyes.

I highlight portions I like when reading, so I’m just going to use the first part I randomly scrolled to because I like it. Duh, what’s why I highlighted it.

I forced myself to finish my homework before considering plans to raise the dead.

Solid plan.

Now for the awkward bye. Bye!

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.

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.