Shenanigans

Shenanigans are afoot in One Little Lie, and Ryan tries to figure out what he thinks about these antics and what he should tell his father. This is a different version than what appears in the book, with some extra content.

Ryan

Should I cut the old man some slack? At least he knew I had a boyfriend, unlike Luke’s family. Which was totally fine and I wasn’t bothered at all. I should probably be storming off or sitting down in a huff so we could sulkily watch TV together, but I got distracted thinking about Dad and Luke’s new scheme.

“Anything else?” Dad asked when I just stood there.

“It’s just—” I’d been tempted to run this whole thing by Dad, but I couldn’t when he was being like this. It’s not like he was being very accepting anyway and I didn’t want that to get worse. “Never mind.”

He eyed me keenly. “What is it?”

“I’m wondering if we should switch our home insurance provider.” I am so bad at lying on the fly. Isn’t that a skill all teenagers possess in their genes, like instinct?

Dad called me on the obvious and terrible diversion I tried to use. “You’re hiding something.”

“Should I get a tattoo?” I asked. That was better for distraction and if he said yes, I could get a tattoo. Too bad needles kinda scared me.

“No,” he responded instantly, then thought about my shifty behavior. “Is it about you and Luke?”

I grabbed the remote and hastily turned up the volume while telling my father to, “Leave the questioning to Stabler and Benson.” Then, like it just occurred to me, I said, “Hey, isn’t it time for them, anyway?”

“Stabler isn’t even on the show anymore,” he said while holding his hand out to me. I gave him the remote and he flipped channels.

Stabler was hot for an old guy and I heard he used to play a character who had forbidden gay relationships in prison. We should look into getting HBO. Before I could tell Dad that, he told me, “I don’t know what’s going on with you and Luke, but if you have to lie to me about it, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.”

I left then instead of watching TV. It wasn’t like I could say, ‘hey, Dad, you know how Luke’s dating me and you’re already so super cool with that? He’s gonna pretend to date Lydia while he goes out with me.’ Yeah, I didn’t see that going well. Did that mean something or did Dad just not understand? He never had to come out.

No, everything was totally fine. I was totally fine.

I wasn’t fine. Acting like the chillest, awesomest boyfriend ever meant I was only on duty when Luke was around. So maybe I did freak out a tiny bit. Stupid Dad and his stupid words. The less said about that unpleasantness the better. And it wasn’t my finest moment, so I only want to focus on the parts where I’m super great instead.

Okay, fine, maybe the freak out went like this:

Luke pretending to date Lydia? How could that go wrong? Oh, only in a million ways. He could realize how hot she was and dump me. He could realize how easy dating a girl was in this town and dump me. He could see how easy dating anyone other than me was and dump me. Or worse, maybe he’d decide he was both bi and a stereotype and not dump me but instead date Lydia and me behind the other’s back.

Anything could happen. However unlikely it seemed, their fake dating could go so well that they decided to make it a reality. It didn’t sound so crazy since that’s what happened with Luke and me. Wait, no, our fake dating had gone terribly. Yet we still ended up together anyway. Aww.

I could handle this, right? And even if I couldn’t, did I have any right to complain? Luke went from zero to gay, or gayish, really fast. He had no adjustment period. I couldn’t ask him to speed things up on my behalf. Especially when we were already cruising at warp speed. Dammit, I should have talked to Mrs. Sharp about this. No, that would be insane. And this plan was what, perfectly logical and normal?

Okay, maybe I was still in the middle of my freak out when my cell phone vibrated on my desk.

A brief oral history of farming and other more interesting things

Can you call something an oral history if it’s in someone’s mind? An oral mental history.

Hi. Hola. Bonjour.

(I don’t know how to spell bonjour, and the spell checker thing offered ‘bourbon instead, which I know is wrong, but I was tempted to put anyway.)

Now that we got the greetings out of the way, here’s some fiction! Some of this is in One Little Lie, and some of it is extra.

I don’t think you need a lot of background information to understand this scene, but just in case, Ryan and his dad are going to build a barn. Maybe. Ryan’s dad is trying to teach him things, and because Ryan is Ryan, it’s not going great.

 ~~~

barnrainbow

It was a nice spring afternoon. My father and I stood outside in the light with nothing around to provide shade, but the sun felt nice on my skin. We were out back on our property, surveying the spot where our old barn used to be. Did this count as exercise? I was totally going to count this as exercise.

My dad’s family used to have their own farm, but it took a lot of work. The Miller operation used to be family owned and run, so there wasn’t a big budget to hire new staff with once the number of family members dwindled. Grandpa came from a bigger family, but Dad only had a brother who didn’t live in the area anymore. I was an only child, and Mom had died when I was young.

We didn’t have livestock anymore but that could change once we had a barn again. Dad had traded favors with a bunch of guys he knew to help knock the old structure down after he, Luke, and me attempted it ourselves, and he paid a crew to remove the remains.

There were some supplies at our feet like a big sketch pad, pencils, a tape measurer, and even a freaking protractor that was metal and different from the one I had to get for school. My dad owned a protractor. I really needed to mock him for that.

Before I could, he turned to me and asked, “So what’s the first thing we should do?”

“Go inside and order a pizza?” I suggested even though I didn’t have much hope the answer would be yes.

Dad sighed, though it was more for show than out of true annoyance. He had a pretty high tolerance for annoyance, which he had me to thank for. “I’m going to force this knowledge into your brain one way or another,” he informed me. “So you could at least cooperate.”

Learning about blueprints and construction probably wasn’t the worst idea in the world. I already had some experience as I built a dunk tank for a science project, and there were all kinds of engineering jobs out there in the mythical Real World for science nerds like me that might require these skills.

Still, being totally obtuse made this way more fun for me. I feigned obliviousness. “It’s a barn. Build a big square and put some dividers in it, how hard could that be?”

Dad smacked me lightly on the head. “You can’t even understand how dumb you sound right now.”

Father of the Year, right there.

 

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.

sunset.jpeg

“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.

You’ve already posted this quote before, I’ve told myself multiple times. Are you sure, I ask me next. Pretty sure, I reply. I should check just in case, I decide and then I agree with me. And then my dog tells me to pay attention to her or I see something outside or whatnot and I get distracted. Until today, when I finally see that, no, I have not yet posted this quote.

The quote is from Summer Romance, and it’s available on Amazon.

fnmanningsr

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!

What Love Means Excerpt

This is an excerpt from What Love Means, an MM romance. You can get it on sale now for 99 cents!

Cal

Maybe Max and I could spend time together in some unused corner of the library. I enjoyed that particular fantasy of mine a great deal, perhaps I could make it a reality.

Except Max texted me that he had to go run an errand. Damn. The brusque tone and to the point message made me frown at my phone for a moment. We were dating now. Was that any way to treat his boyfriend? It upset me until I realized that was just Max. We could be engaged and head over heels and he would still probably send a text like that. He was Mr. Too-Cool-To-Express-Emotions-Correctly-Like-A-Normal-Person, which meant we’d have to take my name because his surname was even longer than mine… That line of thought got off track.

I saw a familiar dark head bent over a nearby computer. Okay, it wasn’t the dark locks I noticed. He’d taken off his jacket, but I still recognized those shoulders. I really liked his shoulders.

He said he had an errand to run but was actually in this secluded section of the library. There were just a few computers here as most of them were at the front. Was he doing something embarrassing like looking at porn? That seemed stupid when he had access to a real, willing guy.

I wanted to catch him. I managed to get closer without alerting him to my presence, but when I saw what was on the screen, I spoke without meaning to. “That’s a college application.”

He didn’t jump. Damn, that would have been fun to see. Instead, his shoulders tightened and he wore a defensive scowl on his face when he slowly turned to look at me.

Nope, I couldn’t process this. “You’re actually applying to college?” I wondered. He crossed his arms and didn’t look at me. “No way, you couldn’t.” His annoyed eyes met mine then. “I mean, you’re capable. Theoretically. It’s just…” I paused. Surely there was a diplomatic way to say this? Nope, I just couldn’t see it. “You filled out an application, listed your activities and grades, and will wait to hear back from them?

Max sighed. “Isn’t that how it works?”

“With most people,” I nodded. “I just can’t imagine you earnestly filling out why you want to attend a school with a response other than ‘screw you’ or ‘none of your business.’”

“You don’t think they’ll appreciate that?”

My brain didn’t have words to adequately process my horror, so a series of high-pitched shrieking filled my head.

Max finally relaxed and laughed. “It’s a freaking joke, oh my god. Your face.”

I smoothed my shirt reflexively and tried to send him a prim look. “I know, I knew that.” My face wrinkled. “But even the thought of it—” I stopped, shuddering, and his lips quirked up in a tiny smile.

Get it here!

Book Review: Just A Dumb Surfer Dude

Quick summary: Cooper’s life is fine but uneventful. He’s smart, his classes are easy, he has people who care about him, but he mostly feels like he’s waiting for his life to start. Then a new kid comes to school and everything changes.

(I tried not to spoil things but there are probably mild spoilers and hints about what happens in my review.)

What I thought: Just a Dumb Surfer Dude: A Gay Coming-of-Age Tale is a quick, fun read that would work well for reading during the summer or at the beach but can be read anytime. The “surfer dude” is less important than one might think by the title, but those who like humor, sweet romances, and romantic comedies will enjoy this story.

I really liked the narrator’s voice and liked that there were multiple love interests, that’s not always something you see in LGBTQ teen fiction. It started out a little slow for me, but I got more interested as I kept going.

Depending on how perceptive you are, there may be a fun twist or two. I am usually much better at picking out this kind of thing, but I didn’t see it coming, so I really liked the surprising direction the story went in.

The Romance: Cooper is presented as an intelligent guy, but he has no experience with relationships or dating, so there’s a coming-of-age aspect where he explores getting close to guys romantically. It’s all new and intense and scary. While this story is on the shorter side, it still tells a complete story about finding love. It’s not heavy on the angst but has a few ups and downs and isn’t completely predictable.

If you’ve been reading a lot of stories about boy meets boy and then one or both boys freak out about liking another boy, this book offers variety. Cooper already knows he’s gay, so the story explores finding that special person more fully and what makes someone “the one” without any sexuality crises.

There’s also a sequel.

Plotty Details: Cooper’s life at his all-boys school is okay, but there isn’t much going on. He has one best friend he’s close with and his relationship with his father is important to him. Both he and his father don’t enjoy being single. He’s one of the only gay kids he knows and hasn’t had any romance yet and is sort of getting impatient waiting for it. While there’s no love interest in his life, his best friend is also gay. They aren’t out to everyone, but Cooper’s dad knows.

Cooper finally gets some excitement in his life when a new student comes to school. He’s even paired up with the hot guy in one of his classes. The problem? This new boy seems to like him even though his best friend really wants to go out with the new guy.

Best Part: Cooper has great relationships with his father and his best friend Alex. If you like your romances to have a little more depth, there is also plenty of father-son moments. Cooper and his dad don’t relate to each other perfectly but love each other and that comes through. The father is an English teacher and there’s a lot of little quips I enjoyed about different books. The dialogue was at its most witty when Cooper was with Alex or his father. Cooper’s a big smart alec who loves tormenting the people he loves.

One Little Word

My next book, One Little Lie, will be released on Oct. 20, As it’s the sequel to One Little Word, I’ll be blogging about that book some to gear up for the next one. I expect to post excerpts, graphics, and… well, mostly excerpts and graphics unless I think of something else.

olwfnNEWWhat 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.