Horatio waltzed into my life fashionably late, expecting everything else to grind to a halt while he made room for himself. Then again, why shouldn’t he feel that way? For years I had the same attitude. I waited patiently, trying to make decisions for myself but always knowing any moment could be the moment when it stopped being my life and became our life.
Hello, is this Moodboards Anonymous? My name is F.N. Manning, and I’m addicted to moodboards. Oh, this isn’t Moodboards Anonymous? And that support group doesn’t exist? That’s fair.
As you might have guessed, I enjoy making mood boards, which I put as one word in every instance before this one, but I get the red squigglies so now I’m changing my mind. This is for my new adult fantasy novel, that is also naturally a gay romance, Black Cats and Bad Luck. Here’s a board for the main characters, Mason and Horatio.
After years of waiting for a mysterious man from his dreams who might not exist, Mason is ready to move on with his life. Until Horatio finally appears, and his whereabouts were stranger than anyone imagined. With the help of the smartest paranormal experts, or at least the only ones available, the guys must battle the forces of evil, keep everyone safe, and see if their relationship can become more than a good dream and survive in the real world.
When I spent too much time on the computer, whether searching for Horatio or playing games online, Dad would bring me back to real life. Life’s not happening there in between the ones and zeros, he’d say. It’s happening out here. I’d hate for you to miss it.
After what felt like a lifetime of the alleged perfect man for me being so close yet never close enough to touch, I drew my own conclusions. My only defense, I suppose, was that I lived with the idea of him for so long, I began to think that’s all he was. An idea, a hope, a dream who lived within a dream.
Here is a story about a loner who may want to be less alone. So Lydia takes a break from her busy schedule of hating everything and makes a new friend. This comes from When We Were Strangers, which is the free introduction to the characters in the One More Thing Series. This post is the introduction to the introduction. Or something.
This image perfectly sums up Lydia. And you can read this scene or the whole story at anytime because it is free. In case you missed any of the times I said free, I’m going to say free again. Free!
What a beautiful summer day. With fresh air, flowers blooming, and sunshine shining down… everything was super annoying. I hated days like today. I hated most things, but I especially hated today.
Despite protests, I somehow ended up at a church picnic with my family on the other end of the park. I could only survive a few minutes of everybody praising the lord for this ‘blessed’ day and being offered potato salad from people way too intense about potato salad. Naturally, I fled.
In the back corner of the park, there lied a neglected area where public space met someone’s private, unkempt property. Sitting on top of the backrest of a hard as hell bench, I smoked a cigarette in solitude.
Hard to say what was more isolating: being alone in a crowd or being free and almost wanting to go back because maybe terrible company would be less lonely than no company. If being alone wasn’t good, and being with people wasn’t good, then how did I win?
Suddenly, I wasn’t alone.
“Does being such a cliché ever bother you?” a voice asked. The speaker stepped into view, a girl with burgundy hair, wearing a light blue shirt.
“Excuse me?” I responded coolly, steadying myself by resting my free hand on the concrete slab doubling as my seat, though I gave no other indication she startled me.
“Bad girl in black smoking by herself,” she elaborated, small smile on her lips. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, 10/10 on the aesthetic. I can feel the angst even from a distance, but it’s a little obvious, isn’t it?”
“Who are you?” I kept asking my own questions instead of acknowledging hers.
“Alicia Phillips, we go to the same school.”
“I believe you.” If I wanted to know my peers better, I… nope, I couldn’t even finish the thought.
She forced a laugh, smile turning tense. “You have no idea who I am, do you? It’s fine.” The confidence she possessed to speak to me so boldly evaporated as if it never existed.
I raised a hand, indicating she should stay while I considered her. I… she… huh.
Studying her, her blue shirt displayed a small white logo near the right sleeve, part of a uniform for a counselor at a summer camp near the outskirts of town. She wore khaki pants with her hair tied back in a ponytail. Her skin had more color than my vampiric whiteness, her figure fuller and curvier. It was hard to place her because she might look different during the school year.
Alicia Phillips. She wasn’t afraid to give me attitude, yet she acted embarrassed when I failed to recognize her. A girl both at home and uncomfortable in her own skin. Capable of brief moments of bravery… like when in front of an audience.
“I recognize you,” I realized. “You’re in plays, right? Plays are… cool.” Plays weren’t cool, but I was trying to be polite. Rudeness was more satisfying when it was earned.
“Wow, you couldn’t sound even the slightest bit convincing, could you?” she asked in that gently teasing manner she kept addressing me with.
I should put her in her place, eviscerate her. It may make me feel better. Because I was confident, scary Lydia Smith, the badass in black clothes. People wanted to know more about me but weren’t stupid enough to come ask. I was unapproachable. Nobody talked to me like she did. I would be annoyed, but curiosity won out.
“Wanna help me be less of a cliché?” I asked.
“Huh? You’re not suggesting a makeover, are you?” Never. Wordlessly, I held up the pack of cigarettes in an offer. “Oh, smoke with you?” She neither accepted or refused, talking to herself as she continued, “Peer pressure. This is, I’m being pressured by a peer. Holy afterschool special, Batman.”
Hopeless theater weirdos were the last thing I needed, people who didn’t know how to talk without a script, so I wasn’t charmed. I laughed anyway. “You’re strange.”
“Yeah, well.” She met my eyes, held her head higher. Impressive. “I’m a proud drama kid, and my best friend is a bad influence on me.”
Ryan and Luke watched me eagerly as I grabbed things from my locker. I shared homeroom with the former, and Ryan treated homeroom, punctuality, and other things he didn’t want to do as optional rather than mandatory, one of the few things I respected him for.
Luke always complained about Ryan’s brown hair falling into his eyes and adding additional walking challenges for a guy who never made peace with gravity, but now his own blonde locks were doing the same thing. Ryan had the same shoes as Luke so their feet could be twins or something. They were both wearing flannel shirts, Ryan’s mostly red with blue, Luke’s mostly blue with red. Which… how? Did they call each other up and plan their outfits? Luke never even wore flannel.
Luke said, “I want to talk about Zach’s love interest.”
I scowled at how he phrased it while saying, “And now for the simple, folksy Luke wisdom.”
He frowned. “Don’t think anyone has ever called me folksy before.”
I smirked. “They have called you simple, that’s what I’m hearing.”
“Hey,” Ryan warned, jumping to his boyfriend’s defense. “I will fight you. With my words.”
“Dude, come on.” Luke said to me, giving me his earnest, dumb Luke smile. “You should go for it.” Groundbreaking. He kept going. “Somewhere along the line you went from not dating much to not dating at all. If you like this guy—”
“I don’t even know him.”
“Then get to know him. And if you like him, go for it.”
“God, you’re hot,” Ryan told him.
“Thanks babe.” Luke’s dimples appeared as he smiled at Ryan. “I’m also right.”
“Duh, that’s what makes you even hotter.”
They left, even though we had been right next to homeroom, and Luke needed to go to homeroom because that was how school worked. He let Ryan lead him off anyway because true love meant more than compulsory attendance or some shit like that.
When Luke and Ryan were morons who made their relationship 50 times more difficult than it needed to be, at least they provided some entertainment. However, it was also a hassle for me because they would both expect me to listen to their woes and provide answers. Nobody even paid me for it. Yet this same page, ride-or-die stuff they’d been doing lately was so… insane.
The couple weren’t just crazy kids hopped up on hormones thinking they were destined to be together forever. They had become shockingly stable somehow. As if they truly expected to go the distance when they’d barely even started the race.
Okay, good point. Especially when written over a black and white photo. And I guess it’s supposed to be inspirational. But also a little hilarious? Mind reptiles! That’s just an amusing mental image, a bunch of ignorant little lizards in one’s brain, having a tea party. Huh, I only used that example to further make the mental image more ridiculous, but depending on your view’s of American politics, I could have also made the point… more pointier.
For some reason, I uploaded a bunch of image quotes I made for One Little Word all at the same time. I guess I was trying to be helpful and have them all in one place, which mostly means I have no idea which ones I’ve used already. This might not be a problem for those with better memories, but I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I don’t even remember how I started this sentence.
Every time I post a quote, I resist the overwhelming urge to add that I’m pretty sure I haven’t posted this one yet. But maybe I have, so let’s just gloss over it if I posted this last week too. I figure putting it out there once is enough. In summation, if I post quotes more than once, please be cool about it. Thanks!
Also, yes, I did only say be cool because it’s in the quote below.
This excerpt involves a boy flipping out because he’s about to have lunch with another boy. This second boy is open to the possibility of being attracted to the first boy, which is where the insanity comes from. I could have just used their names instead of calling them boys, but I’m telling myself it’s too late to change that now.
Being attracted to someone is a totally understandable reason to be a lunatic. No, that’s not true at all. It’s not okay to be a lunatic in a dangerous way when you like someone. But it is okay to be a gigantic nervous weirdo in the romance department, lots of people aren’t smooth operators.
By reading this, you might think Ryan is a gigantic nervous weirdo when he has a crush. I want you to know that’s not true at all. Ryan is a gigantic nervous weirdo always, but in this case, he happens to be a weirdo and have a crush at the same time. This is an important distinction (no, it’s not.)
I had butterflies. Stupid, gigantic butterflies, furiously beating their wings inside my stomach. Was I going to burst into song? Was I going to throw up? Maybe!
Hopefully, I wouldn’t do either of those things. I just couldn’t say for sure.
I willed myself to still from where I was vibrating out of my skin. Be cool. No, that was impossible… be slightly less unhinged. I could try that.
Okay, I would walk into the cafeteria and sit down with the baseball guys, something I’d done multiple times before. No big deal.
There was a particular guy at the table. One who was interested. In me! He may not be Luke, but the problem was that Luke wasn’t interested.
Surely I’d gotten the neuroticism out last night. I went through every piece of clothing I owned trying to find the right thing to wear. I eventually picked out my best fitting pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, and a green plaid shirt to layer with. No need to dress up too much. Or drive myself crazy.
Or drive myself crazier? Because I was jumping up and down, just a little, where I stood. I tried to stop… nope, still rocking on my heels. I felt extremely excited.
Do you ever have a moment at three in the afternoon where you’ll like, damn I’m hungry, and then you realize you haven’t had anything to eat? Maybe not if you don’t have hyperfocus and ADHD. Occasionally, that happens to me. My two speeds for concentration are, oh hey, did you see this cute dog on the internet and on the other end, ALL FREAKING IN.
This is all I have to talk about now because I’m very hungry, but the food I warmed up is still too hot to eat. I do have a quote from One Little Word to share, so I guess I’ll do that.
I was going to provide the relevant information here before the excerpt, but then I realized that it’s literally a guy crushing on another guy. So that’s all the details right there.
Luke was one of my new friends. Making nice and getting to know him seemed like a good idea at the time. He apologized and he was my boyfriend as far as the principal was concerned.
However, once I stopped despising a guy that hot, I was doomed. Hell, once I fell into his arms like a damsel in distress, I was doomed. Saving me gave him a clean slate and made him instantly crush worthy.
Hating him had provided some protection from his stupidly attractive face. Now all I noticed was the green of his eyes, the way the light looked in his hair. Anytime the dimples appeared, a small electrical fire started in my brain and I lost all cognitive function while repairs were made.
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:
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.
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.
I 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.
Ryan and Luke are really good at being giant idiots together! So that’s… something.
There were people on the open porch down below and clustered awkwardly around the clear blue pool. It was lit from the inside, so it was bright and cast an artificial blue glow around the proceedings.
“Why do you need a pool?” I asked. “We have the ocean.”
He shrugged. “My parents don’t go to the beach much.”
“That sounds like a personal problem.” In one sense, I got that the words might not totally make sense, but the drunk part of me told myself that was a perfect response.
He studied me while I looked at the people down below. “Why do you like the beach so much?”
“It’s the beach,” I said simply. Duh.
“That’s not a reason,” he argued, but lightly, and I really wanted to answer because he didn’t seem so upset with me at the moment. Only…
How was I supposed to answer trick questions right now? That wasn’t fair. It was just one of those things in life I’d decided a long time ago and I didn’t have to think of reasons for it anymore; it was just a truth. I loved the beach.
I stared at Bryce instead. There was some lighting outside, but it was darker up on the balcony, just a bit of light making it out here from inside his room. It was hard to make out the color of his eyes right now, but they weren’t the artificial, chemically treated blue of the pool. They were the blue of the ocean. Even if I couldn’t see his eyes clearly, I knew that.
I spent most of my time at the beach before I even met Bryce, so there had to be reasons I liked it that had nothing to do with him. At the moment, I couldn’t think of any of those answers. All I could come up with was that the water there matched his eyes.
He was up here with me, annoyed but not leaving yet. It didn’t matter if this was a lame party because it was in his honor and he probably hated not mingling with the guests and doing what he was supposed to do. I wanted to make things better. I wanted to tell him about how lovely his eyes were and how they made me feel, even if it was super cheesy.
I tried, but all I managed to say was, “You’re pretty.”
–This is an excerpt from Beach Bum, a young adult M/M romance. You can get the rest here.