Book Club

This is an excerpt from the novel Like You a Latte, which features a gay young adult romance. This section shows our heroes getting to know each other while discussing literature.

“I have to read The Great Gatsby for a class,” Owen explained while gesturing to the slim paperback currently obscuring my notes. “What are your thoughts?”

Are you actually reading the book or cheating and looking up a summary on the internet? That was my first thought. He was clearly different than me and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it was the second one then this budding friendship could end right now with no regret on my part. There were some things that just couldn’t be tolerated.

Yet it felt rude to outright ask. Instead, I questioned, “You want to have an academic discussion with me?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t know if you’d really want to just hang out without being ‘productive’ or whatever.” I fought the urge to look at the notes the book covered again. “So I figured this would be the best of both worlds.” He grinned and leaned towards me. “You surprised me.”

Hmm, had I been too eager by just agreeing to chat with him? It wasn’t like me. I felt defensive and too obvious, like a silly, infatuated boy who fell for the first guy with a nice smile, but then again, he put thought into a conversational topic. He wanted to think of something that would make me keep chatting with him, so maybe we were even.

I couldn’t hold back the moment of truth any longer. “Are you actually completing the readings or are you just finding the relevant information online?”

He scoffed. “Seriously? I’m trying not to be offended here.” That was fair, just because he went to public school and seemed laidback didn’t mean he couldn’t also be serious about his studies. Maybe I judged him too much based on shallow observations.

“I’m sorry,” I started automatically. I would hate someone doubting my intellect.

“Did I look online, really?” He looked smug. “I watched the Leo DiCaprio movie.”

Oh dear. There were no words to adequately convey my horror. I felt frozen for a moment. Whatever expression was on my face made him crack up.

“I couldn’t help myself,” he clapped his hands, still chuckling at me. “That was totally worth it.” People glanced over at our table and he paid them no mind.

I didn’t care if we were causing a commotion either. I had to clarify that, “You’re actually doing the reading?” My relief beat out embarrassment or annoyance. That was the second joke he played at my expense, but it didn’t feel unfriendly. He apparently liked teasing me and I didn’t mind as much as I should.

“Not only am I doing the readings,” he said while leaning back in his chair, “I finished the book early.”

Pretty good, especially for a public-school kid. No that was unfair; not everyone could control where they went to school. Still, I felt giddy with relief. God, imagine trying to be friends or having a crush on someone who used Sparknotes. I couldn’t even picture it; it was too absurd.

I tried not to look too overjoyed, going for a simple, “Good for you.”

His arm nudged into mine good-naturedly. “I may not be the Hermione Granger type, but I’m not a complete slacker. I do my homework.”

Would Hermione Granger have a better GPA than me? No, I couldn’t start down that road, it was madness. “I can’t decide if it’s a compliment or not to be compared to Hermione,” I told him. She was the uptight book nerd stereotype on magical steroids.

“She’s the cleverest witch her age,” he responded immediately. “It’s totally a compliment.”

“Perhaps,” I said with a smile. “But I would look terrible with long, bushy hair.” And no way would I want the job of wrangling Harry and Ron.

He laughed. “You’re more fun than I thought you’d be.”

I wasn’t sure many people would agree with him, but the words ridiculously pleased me. I tried not to show it. “Why did you want to get to know me if you didn’t think I’d be any fun?”

He looked away for a second and coughed awkwardly. Oh, were we getting into dangerous territory? “I just meant,” he started after a moment, not quite meeting my eyes, “That I didn’t think you’d be so willing to talk to me. I thought it’d be a challenge to get you to just chill.”

I’d never been accused of being easy in any capacity. Yet I found myself lacking and I didn’t like it. “Well, I hate to disappoint—”

“No, you aren’t,” he assured me. “I’m glad you can relax and have some fun.”

Well, no one had ever accused of me of being able to relax and have fun either. It just showed my defenses were weakened by a busy schedule and a pretty face. It was my turn to cough awkwardly and try to get us back on track. “Okay, what did you think of the book?”

Just being with him was a distraction I needed to avoid, but I couldn’t bring myself to. Once I started looking at him, I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t even remember what the book was. I looked down at the table. Right, The Great Gatsby.

He considered the question a moment, then gave me a droll look. “Is it a totally cliché and uninteresting opinion to think the two dudes totally wanted each other?” The part of my brain that couldn’t help itself added that question to the growing list of reasons he batted for my team, next to the rainbow wristband and the way his eyes seemed to lock on mine.

I took a sip of my drink but couldn’t hide an amused look. “Are you pandering to your audience?”

“No, I think, I mean,” he stuttered adorably for a moment. Was there a blush on his face? It was hard to tell with the lighting in here. “I really think Nick wanted Jay Gatsby like Gatsby wanted Daisy, even if his feelings weren’t returned.”

I wasn’t completely sold that anyone from The Great Gatsby got down in the forbidden garden of homosexual delights, though Quinn agreed with him. She called it The Great Gaysby once. I told her to quit joking around. Literature was serious. Everything was serious when it came to me. Owen really thought I was fun? I stopped thinking about this.

“Do you want to tell a class full of students that?” I asked. I was out and from the conversation it sounded like he was too but that didn’t mean I’d want the trouble of trying to defend the inherent gayness of a literary classic to all my skeptical, straight peers.

“Oh,” he said as he considered my words. His face scrunched up adorably and his shoulders sagged. “I might be in trouble then.”

“Stick to the symbolism of the eyes on the billboard and the light at the end of the dock,” I advised. “You’ll be fine,” I advised. “And focus on the main themes of class divides and wealth if you need more to say.”

He nodded seriously. “And when do I talk about the Jay-Z songs they used in the movie?”

I felt my eye twitch. “You’re trying to torture me, aren’t you?”

He grinned unrepentantly. “I couldn’t help it.”

We sat there looking at each other and the moment started to feel intimate. He was cute, funny, clever, and I needed to stop listing his positive attributes. I cleared my throat. “I should get back to studying.”

“Come on” he argued. “We didn’t get to discuss Hogwarts houses.”

“I have work to do and so do you,” I reminded him. I had my fun for the night. Besides, I was clearly a Ravenclaw and he was such a Gryffindor. Back to studying. He eyed me and I met his gaze without flinching. I wasn’t going to budge. “Back to work,” I said firmly.

“So, you are a challenge after all,” he concluded evenly.

That totally wasn’t what I was trying to do. I wasn’t playing coy or hard to get. I’d had my break time and now it was time to get back to work. But instead of calmly explaining all this, I asked, “That a problem?”

His lips quirked up. “Nope.”

We both got back to our respective work. That was all, show’s over, nothing to see here.

Now would be the worst time to start something new. I didn’t have any spare moments. And yet, I wanted to anyway. I didn’t even have the free time required to start obsessing about whether this was the best time to get into a new relationship or not. I would have gladly spent more time worrying about this but.

I wanted to get to know him. Something told me he would be worth it.

You can get the rest now on Amazon or KU.

One Little Lie

onelittlelieCOVI’m trying out a new cover for One Little Lie. That is literally all I have to say about that, but then this isn’t a very exciting post is it? In honor of the new cover, or me not having anything to say, or you being pretty, in honor of something, here’s an excerpt from One Little Lie.

Sometimes instead of going and getting the book description and copying and pasting it, I challenge myself to come up with a new blurb instead. So, if you want the professional, polished summary go here. My improvised summary is this: two giant spazzes date each other and everyone mocks everyone else. Yay? Although really, one character is a giant spaz and the other character likes to think he’s cool, but he’s maybe an even bigger spaz.


Ryan

It was after lunch and Luke and I were discussing very serious matters.

“I think you’re just going to have to accept the reality of the situation,” Luke told me.

I frowned and leaned against his locker. “That really doesn’t sound like something I would do.”

Luke stood opposite me in a red shirt that hugged his shoulders perfectly. “Aren’t you all science-y?” he asked me. “That’s about facts and…” he trailed off.

“Go on,” I challenged. “Name one other thing.”

“Science,” he said decisively, like he wasn’t a big idiot.

I wasn’t fooled. “Science is about science? I’m dating a genius.”

His face brightened. “Oh, I am alright with that being my new nickname.”

Genius? “Like hell!”

He tutted at me. “You’re not being very accommodating and aren’t relationships about compromise?” Whatever, he wasn’t the relationship expert; I already called it.

“Lemon drop is mine,” I insisted.

He inched just a bit closer and in a low voice said, “Yeah, he is.”

I smiled and looked away to deal with the sudden rush of affection I felt for him. I tried to glare sternly. He had to get his own pet name. His chest puffed up, like he was proud of himself while he grinned at me and I tried to decide my next move but then suddenly we weren’t alone.

The rest is available here!

Excerpt – Gay Teen Romance

I know that you can read an excerpt from the beginning of the book anyway on Amazon, but it just feels wrong to start posting snippets and not start at the start. So here is an excerpt from Like You A Latte, a story spanning the junior year of a brainy, bookish student who meets a laid back guy in a coffee shop.

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 cranky teenagers and adults poured in here 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 my 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.

Maybe he was an artist. There were faint marks of color on his arms 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.

After diving into school, no one else had caught my attention in a while. I felt the first spark of attraction in my gut and my pulse sped up. The angst and despair of my breakup had faded and the fog of academics obscuring everything else lifted somewhat and I just stared at the boy in front of me. The novelty of it left me speechless for a moment while I remembered that guys existed. Guys like this boy before me who were fun to look at with soft hair I wanted to touch. I savored it, that feeling of interest, after going without it for so long.

Which meant that for a few moments, it was just him and I, eyes locking as I finally made it to the front of the line. He had hazel eyes. The light caught them just right and almost made them sparkle. I shouldn’t let his smile get to me, he gave that exact smile to everyone, but I wanted to believe it meant something different when it came to me and I almost convinced myself it did as his eyes stayed on mine and—

“Are you going to order?” said an impatient female voice behind me.

Oh right.

“Oops,” the guy said with a soft laugh and smiled sheepishly at me. It was even more captivating than his earlier smile.

You can get the rest here.

 

 

Barns and Boys

This is an excerpt from One Little Lie, a YA story featuring a gay couple.It’s on sale right now!

We stood in the hardware store in the paint section. Well, one of the hardware stores. In a town like this, hardware stores were the equivalent of Starbucks. There were lots, but they were bigger than the crowded coffee shops. Ryan and I were in the paint aisle.

There were paint cans in varying sizes on both ends of the aisle while the middle gave way to an array of swatches in all colors of the rainbow on one side and a counter on the other. We had various swatches laid out on the counter.

“This one?” Ryan asked holding up one swatch and pointing to a particular colored rectangular.

I viewed the color he pointed to, a shade of red labeled crimson, nestled between one shade lighter and one shade darker. I could see the hues change on the swatch, but the last few colors Ryan pointed out seemed practically identical.

I told him that. “It looks exactly the same as the other one you showed me.”

Ryan glanced at another swatch on the table and told me, “That one was ruby. Now I’m asking about crimson.”

Okay, paint color and my ability to tell the difference had nothing to do with whether I was attracted to guys, but I had to ask, “Can you actually tell the difference?”

He held up the one in his hand. “This one costs 75 cents more.” Which was a no. Damn. I mean, I knew it had nothing to do with my sexuality, but still. Would have been nice to weigh that as some innate talent of queer guys I didn’t possess and draw conclusions from there.

I glanced around. “Do they have bright pink with sparkles?”

“My dad would kill me.” Ryan’s eyes lit up even as he shook his head. “No, he would kill you.”

“No, just like, as a palate cleanser,” I gestured to the samples in front of us. “These are all so boring.” We looked at reds, then browns, then a bunch of greys and tans and were back to red.

He tilted his head in acknowledgement but countered with, “It’s a barn.”

“It can be a cool barn,” I muttered lamely.

Ryan nudged his side into mine and looked at me with a small smile on his face. “You’re cute.”

Get the rest here.

 

 

More sales

The holidays are over, well except for New Years, but there’s still reasons to celebrate… again, besides New Years. F.N. Manning books are on sale! Okay, I know that’s not an especially fancy reason to celebrate, but still, discounts are cool.

One Little Word and One Little Lie are on sale from Dec. 26- Jan. 2.

One Little Word Summary:

What 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.

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.

 

Treat Yo’ Self

December is the time when most people start shopping for others as various holidays encourage gift giving and thinking of your fellow man and peace on earth and whatever. That’s great and all but don’t forget about yourself.

I’m just a concerned citizen with no conflict of interest or agenda of my own, telling you to think of you. How might you do this, you ask? I’m happy to tell you!

tys
This has nothing to do with anything really, I just love Parks and Rec.

In case you want to treat yo self (shout to Tom and Donna), here’s a couple suggestions that are on sale this week:

What Love Means – A prep school brat and a biker have a complicated past and an uncertain future. Plus, spelling bees!

Then There’s You – Kissing in costumes always makes things difficult.

Both these stories are on sale from Dec. 10- 17th. Get them for 99 cents while you can!

Not only do you get great books to read while it’s snowing and you’re stuck indoors, but they’re on sale so you can still get presents for others and yourself.

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.