Luke is totally not afraid of horses.

Here’s some fiction about people riding horses. Literally, not in a euphemism way. Should I make that sound more exciting? Here’s some fiction about people riding horses!

Nailed it.

Again, not in a dirty way.

This is a scene I didn’t end up using from One Little Change. I took out anything other than vague references to the plot, so this isn’t spoilery and you also don’t need to know anything about the characters.

Enjoy! (Or don’t, you do you.)

Luke

This was the awkwardest experience ever. Happening right now. Around me. Under me. That sounded weird. I was on a horse. It was awkward.

Maybe it wasn’t that weird… it was just also really weird.

“Slow down,” I suggested to Lydia while tightening my arms around her waist.

“You are such a baby.” Swore she sped up while she said that.

“There’s a branch up ahead!” I warned.

“Stop backseat horse riding!”

We were at the camp where Alicia worked, picking up my little sister Lily. Camp was over for her group, but there were still counselors around and they’d soon be getting ready for the next batch of kids. No one seemed to care or question us when we went to the stables and checked out the horses, all the employees too excited for the downtime between cycles, so I followed Lily and Alicia’s leads.

Lily decided we were going to go riding, which I didn’t really know how to do, but she seemed comfortable getting the horses ready.

While Ryan and I patching things up was good for my heart and mind and soul and everything, maybe it was good for my body too. The Millers didn’t even have horses yet, and Ryan and I were in no way married, but my little sister Lily was acting like their imaginary horses were as good as hers.

Our family didn’t have a barn of our own, and the ranch I worked on had different livestock, so I’d never ridden. Maybe a few times at the fair when I was a kid and then horses seemed girly. Why? Yeah, girls liked horses. Sometimes to a scary degree. But the animals were giant and they had strength and what about them was girly, and even if it was, what about that was girly in a bad way?

I told the girls they could ride and I would just wait for them, maybe go back to my car. And now somehow I was behind Lydia on a horse.

The horse Lily rode had a chestnut coat, was obviously named Chestnut, and was fast, as she charged ahead and lost us pretty much immediately on the path.

Alicia’s tan horse, Blondie, they didn’t dig too hard for names, looked like it had the ability to catch up or at least get close to Lily’s horse even though it moved at a slower pace to accommodate me and my steed.

My horse was named Button and had a white coat with grey spots. No idea if its coat was always like that or that just happened when a horse was, like, 90 years old. If he tried to go as fast as Chestnut, he would probably die.

I liked Button. He was an old guy that was just doing his best.

While I probably wasn’t in any danger, I clung onto Lydia for dear life.

“Just be careful,” I told or reminded her.

“Stop telling me what to do.”

“I will if you be careful.”

“I’ve done this before.”

Yeah and so had Button, 900 times, and I think he’s had enough. It’s a big job carrying two people.

~

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This is a terrible segue: Hey, it’s summer! You know what takes place in the summer? Summer Romance by F.N. Manning.

fnmanningsrNeil and Carter work at the grocery store and sparks fly over the avocados. Or something like that. Here’s an excerpt:

“Why do people think you’re cool? You have a cat named Princess.” I wiped tears of laughter away from my eyes. The soccer star, the guy the ladies loved, the confident guy who strolled through the halls of high school? That guy had a cat named Princess.

“Says Corny the Klutz,” he responded, but the words didn’t hurt as he gave me a mock scowl and a good-natured shove.

However, he became nervous after he said the words, obviously afraid he went too far. Normally, I hated even the reminder of that nickname. It didn’t hurt as bad now. Hearing it from my cute friend’s lips soothed away any sting.

I let him stew about his faux paus for a moment until I smiled slyly. “I still think yours is worse, Princess.”

His expression was priceless. “Princess isn’t my name, it’s the cat’s!”

Solving World Hunger

Here’s an excerpt from One Little Problem. The series follows Ryan and Luke, high school sweethearts, and their mocking friends.

Ryan POV

“I’ve solved all our problems,” I announced to the table.

There was a pause as everyone stopped their individual conversations and focused on me. “Like, of the people sitting at this table or globally?” Alicia asked.

Lydia watched me with an amused, superior little smile. “I’m particularly interested in your solutions for world hunger, our current president, and people who take up two parking spaces.”

Zach rolled his eyes. “Smaller scale guys, he’s totally talking about him and Luke.”

Oh yeah, I was at a table of people who wouldn’t hesitate to mock me, which could be bad sometimes when there was stuff about me that was mockable but also this was totally where I belonged, so I had to endure it. However, maybe I didn’t need to share this idea with group. “No, I totally got an idea for that world hunger thing.” Um… “More food.” Nailed it.

Luke nodded. “Good idea, babe.” Way to be supportive. He looked at my plate. “You gonna donate that pizza?”

I eyed him knowingly. “Donate it to you?”

Exaggerated realization played across his face, like that thought had just occurred to him as I said it. “I am pretty hungry,” he admitted, putting on his best innocent face. Not sure how well it worked, but I’m pretty sure all higher brain function ground to a halt whenever he showed me the dimples, which he was doing, so I was a goner.

I slid my plate towards him and he took the pizza off it. “You’re lucky your cute,” I told him.

He smiled. “So are you.”

“I’d argue but I can’t.” Our shoulders brushed against each other companionably, occasionally nudging playfully as we smiled at each other. I liked having a group of people to sit with at lunch but sometimes it would have been okay if it was just Luke and me.

“You can have my food now,” Zach offered to Luke. “That put me off eating.” See, there he goes proving my point.

“We have a game today, choke it down,” Luke ordered.

Zach raised an eyebrow. “Are you that romantic with your boyfriend?” Zing. He may be insulting us but that was still a good one.


You can read the whole story here.

One Little Deleted Scene

Perhaps this is a medium length scene at least, but I’m doing a thing. Because of the titles, get it? This is a deleted seen from One Little Lie. If you haven’t read before, Ryan and Luke are dating, and Luke is pretending to date Lydia for the sake of both their parents. Ryan is trying to figure Luke out, and that’s what you missed on Glee... or whatever.

Also, hey, let me so casually slip in that the third book, One Little Problem is available right now! Hooray!

~~~

My life was really almost perfect. I had no problems. Except for boyfriend problems. Life had never gone so smoothly, only one area was wrong, but it wasn’t a little area. It didn’t matter that everything else was fine, having that part off screwed with the entire system. It made it feel like everything was wrong.

“I think something’s off,” I started, mostly talking to myself while I graded freshman quizzes for Mrs. Reynolds and she hopefully was doing something academic and teacherly on her computer instead of taking personality tests while I did TA stuff. That had happened before.

“If you mean with the bio quizzes, I know, they’re dumber than usual.” I glanced up at her, my look telling her that was inappropriate. I mean, she wasn’t wrong but still I’d hate for her to get in trouble; it was too late for me to find another favorite teacher. She continued, “Just grade and don’t despair for the future of America.”

She turned back towards her computer then seemed to think of something and looked back at me. “But If you mean there’s something wrong with your personal life, please continue.” To her credit, she acted super professional and teacherly during classes and in front of most the student body and faculty. But when she was just with her little cadre of science nerds, her filter greatly diminished.

“It’s with Luke,” I confided. “He seems happier and likes being around me, when he isn’t busy with Lydia, but he won’t really tell me what’s going on.” These freshmen quizzes were bad too, but I’ll own up to being a terrible person. I cared more about myself right now than the future of the country.

She made an acknowledging noise and said, “You should probably talk to him.” Was she listening? I tried, but he shuts me down.

But maybe he had nothing to share? I couldn’t tell if it was me or him. “Normally I just wait him out and he gets himself together eventually. But things just feel different. Only then I wonder if I’m just not being supportive.”

“You could find out,” she started.

I kept going. “But it’s hard to be supportive when he’s keeping me at arm’s length.” I didn’t feel like a priority anymore. But see that was about me, so was I just being needy or something when this was about Luke?

“You should let him know your concerns.”

“Once when we were texting he told me he hoped his mom got strawberry jam from the store instead of grape,” I reminisced while slashing a red mark through an answer on the sheet in front of me. “And then I couldn’t text later, so he called me on the phone just to tell me she got the strawberry. And now there’s this whole thing we suddenly can’t talk about? That’s not right.”

“So—”

“I have no idea. I can only do so much of this on my own.” I could keep going back and forth on whether I was crazy or not, but it didn’t really matter. I was only one side of the equation and I couldn’t figure anything out without input on his end. Which meant…

“Which is why you should talk to him,” Mrs. Reynolds said as I said, “I have to talk to him.”

“Yes, finally,” she told me. “Thank you for listening.”

“What?” She couldn’t steal credit! “I came up with that on my own.” Five bucks said she wasn’t even doing anything important on her computer.

She raised an eyebrow and said dryly, “You’re so lucky you’re my second favorite student.”

“What? I’m your favorite.” I would slap Shelly Michaels if she’d edged in front of me.

“This conversation has caused me to evaluate my priorities.”

I held up the papers in front of me to her. “I can let you grade these.”

“Look at that, you’re my favorite again.” Damn right.

“What are you doing anyway?” I leaned over to look at her computer screen and she tilted it away before sighing and letting me look.

“I really need to know which District I would be in if life were the Hunger Games,” she filled me in as I glared at her. “You can take it next!”

Apparently, I would be in District Seven. I didn’t even care.

But why District Seven? That was so unfair that I apparently belonged in a forest since I lived in a flat, Midwestern plain. And who cared about District Seven, anyway? It was such a boring district. …Though, Johanna Mason was a badass and that was just a fact. Okay, I cared a little. But mostly, my mind was on Luke.

Luke had been good about sharing with me, up until recently. But maybe I hadn’t done the same. I had concerns and didn’t tell him. I thought I had a good reason for not voicing them but… I don’t know. I could be wrong. I hate being wrong. Oh well, I’d have to talk to Luke and get things figured out.

WIP

I’m working on the third installment of the One More Thing series… what is the third part of something called, a threequel? Probably not. Anyway, here is a small excerpt from the book, One Little Problem. I don’t think any context is needed, it’s just the protagonists snaking with each other, as is their way.

Luke didn’t even think about my suggestion. “Even you aren’t that gay,” he scoffed, keeping his eyes on the road. He was driving, I wasn’t, so I happily put my eyes on him. He wore a blue t-shirt that hugged his shoulders, and his aftershave smelled woodsy and intoxicating.

He was gorgeous, but I glared at him anyway. “How dare you imply there are limits to my gayness?”

“You’re right,” he conceded. “My mistake.” He looked over at me for a moment with a goofy smile that showed off his dimples.

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.

 

One Little Lie

I am in the zone today. What should I write about to introduce this post? I said to myself. Was there anything interesting that happened today? Did I hear about anything worth sharing? I thought about it, or I tried, but there were no thoughts in my head.

All I did today is write. All that was in my head was related to writing. So good for me, being productive, but that doesn’t give me much to go off of.

Enough about me, what about you? Did you get a lot accomplished today? Then it’s time for a break. If you didn’t, then it’s time for a break anyway. I have found that it is always time for a break, which is why I’ve had problems being productive in the past. Anyway, go check out One Little Lie.

newollieMergedLuke Chambers isn’t gay.

His boyfriend might disagree. His girlfriend would definitely disagree. Wait, let’s back up.

Bisexual. He’s supposed to be bisexual. Except there’s a few problems with that:
He never liked a guy before Ryan.
He doesn’t like that drag race show every gay person he knows watches.
He has zero fashion sense.

Okay maybe that last one doesn’t matter. And he only knows, like, four gay people. Five if you count him. Do you count him? Luke has no idea.

Here’s what he does know:

He likes Ryan Miller.
His parents are suspicious of how much time he spends with Ryan.
He agreed to help Lydia and now he has a boyfriend and a fake girlfriend.

What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, probably.

Luke wants to figure things out. He wants to know what to tell his parents. And he wants to help his friend Lydia. Most of all, he wants to keep dating Ryan. He wants to do all these things at the same time but doesn’t know if he can.

There’s a shelf life to this closeted thing. He just doesn’t know if he can come out. Can he can be himself on his own terms and still have Ryan?

~~~

One Little Lie is a humorous coming of age tale that includes snark, shenanigans, and a developing relationship between a jock and a nerd. This YA novel featuring an MM romance is the second in a series but can be read on its own.

Summer Romance: New Material

I am trying to go through the books I wrote during the summer and turn them into a bundle but because I love giving myself lots of additional work, I’m adding a bunch of new content to Summer Romance.

Here’s a portion I worked on today:

A pop and a new Carter hairstyle? I had never wanted to say I was hashtag blessed before, but I felt very tempted now. I dragged my eyes away from his hair and told him, “Thanks again.” Then I couldn’t help myself. “We are so totally getting friendship bracelets.”

“Being friends with you is going to be painful, isn’t it?” he asked but with a smile.

“I can’t help it. You’re so…” I gestured vaguely at him. “Right there. And your face is so fun to mock.”

“I have a great face,” he defended.

Privately, I agreed. To him and his great face, I scoffed and said, “Look who’s modest.”

“You’re still an asshole,” he told me seriously. Had I gone too far? He smiled. “And I still don’t mind.”

I pursed my lips in contemplation. “I wonder if there’s a way to put that on the friendship bracelet.”

He gestured to the pop on the table. “Are you going to drink the beverage I so kindly procured for you?”

I made a decision and shook my head. “Nope.” His face fell for a moment and I told him, “We are.”

I got up and went to one of the market attendants behind the counter who wasn’t busy and he got two paper cups for us to use. I brought the cups back to our table and opened the can.

Carter wasn’t lying. He did have a great face. And hair, I couldn’t forget the hair. But his face stole the spotlight now. It was so soft and pleased when I poured us both a cup of pop.

The rest of the conversation was spent talking about trivial matters and trading stupid banter back and forth. I considered this whole day a true sign that we had gotten past the coworkers stage and entered into friendship territory.

New Fall Story

Here’s a snippet of what I’ve been working on today. Boy meets boys in a coffee shop.

The scent of coffee hung heavy in the air, naturally, but mixed with other scents of the season. I watched the staff work as I waited in line. I detected crisp notes of apple, hints of warm cinnamon, and the enticing aroma of other fall spices.

Others behind the counter were rushing around frenzied, but now that I noticed one of the baristas in particular, I saw that he was different. It took more than an afternoon rush to rattle him. He smiled at each person who came up to the counter and I was struck by how genuine it seemed. There’s no way he could be so friendly. Not while teenager after teenager poured in here after school for a caffeine fix, rattling out orders and huffing impatiently. Yet he was easy going, the calm in the center of the storm.

Lately, my life held a whole lot of storm and not much calm, so someone like that held a certain amount of appeal at the moment. Even if otherwise he might not be type. I wondered if his brown hair would feel as soft as it looked and what it felt like to have a posture that relaxed posture.

He was a free spirit maybe, or an artist. There were faint marks of color on his arm that he hadn’t quite washed off and eclectic wristbands on one arm. One of bands was a rainbow, which might be why Quinn assumed he played for my team. And the once over he gave me when we finally made it up the counter made me agree with her hypothesis.

~

 

One Little Lie

I’m hard at work on One Little Lie, the sequel to One Little Word. My writing process isn’t very glamorous, it’s just a lot of flailing internally, telling myself to write faster, and curling into a ball and crying because I really hate editing.

I’ll be sending out early copies to beta readers who want to provide feedback, and you can sign up for that here. I’m sending out the beta copies in August even if that means emailing them at 11:59 pm on Aug. 31. I  also hope to post a preview soon on Amazon.

For now, I’ll just post the beginning of One Little Lie.

~~~

“Hey, gay boy!” The taunt came as I walked briskly through the school doors. What a way to start the day. Small town bullies had so few targets when almost everyone in our farming community was the same, so the out gay kid known as me was a perfect choice.

Rural Lake Forest (which had neither lake nor forest) was a small city that unfortunately for me felt like a small town. But I didn’t have time to cater to this moron heckling me today. “Hi there, repressed jock,” I replied breezily while attempting to stroll past him.

“Where are you rushing off to, princess?” the bully asked with a sneer, stepping in front of me.

I smiled thinly. “You should really be careful about what you say. You never know who might overhear.” And there’s no way I was pretending to date this guy. You might wonder if that was even an option. You’d be surprised. But that was a story another day.

He scoffed. “I don’t need life lessons from a fairy.”

Being negative so early in the morning would surely earn him bad karma, but it wasn’t my job to stick around and teach him to be a better person. Was that uncharitable? Did my unwillingness to be kind even to those who were mean to me ensure that I would have bad karma too?

Screw it, it was too early for karma.

I resumed walking and the guy jumped out of my way so that he wouldn’t have to get up close and personal with the queer kid. Also because I had two coffees in my hand and he didn’t want to wear them. As I passed him, he said, “We weren’t done yet.” The jerk actually sounded a little sad; he was probably happy to catch me alone.

Now that I hung around with the captain of the baseball team, Luke Chambers, there was less bullying. Reduced bullying and fewer hostile stares meant more me time, which was great since me is my favorite person in the world. Though Luke was quickly gaining ground.

“Sorry,” I apologized quickly, pausing for a moment against my better judgement. My boyfriend Luke was turning me into a softie as I almost felt bad for ruining this asshole’s fun. Remaining cynical and jaded by the world when dating such a dreamboat was a challenge. Oh god, did I use dreamboat in my inner monologue? I’ve been corrupted.

The bully snorted. “Whatever, fag.” Yep, no reason to feel bad.

“That’s the spirit,” I said and tried to go on my merry way.

“You aren’t even going to play along?” he asked with a frown. “You used to.”

True but that was a defense mechanism as I used my words to fluster bullies and then run away. I didn’t have an overwhelming amount of strength. I worked on our family farm, sure, but my diet consisted mainly of sarcasm and root beer and I spent my free time in my favorite science teacher’s classroom.

I told the jock, “I have more important things to do now.”

“Like being queer?” he smirked and held up a hand for someone to high five him for his verbal genius before realizing his friends weren’t around.

“Is everything okay here?” The words were said by a sharp voice. After the quick click of heels, the owner of said voice, the aptly named Mrs. Sharp, was standing next to us and viewing us with keen eyes. She came by too late to hear anything, that was how it usually went, but she made an educated guess that we weren’t best buds.

The stature of this teacher in her early 30’s wasn’t intimidating, but her no-nonsense attitude, cold stare, and hair always pulled tightly into a severe bun made her the instructor that students never dared challenge.

The wannabe bully made a quick getaway and I wanted to follow, but Mrs. Sharp stopped me with her soul sucking gaze and I stood frozen while contemplating the best way to lie to this teacher who could snap me in half with just the powers of her mind.

What a way to start the day.