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.

Gay YA Kindle Unlimited Reads

Kindle Unlimited has about a million books, but finding the readable ones is sometimes a challenge. Was that a diplomatic way to put it? I was trying to find a diplomatic way to put it. I like KU! My books are on there. That totally wasn’t a hint that you should go check out my books, but you can if you want to.

Anyway, if you’re looking for some young adult novels featuring gay romances that are available on KU, here’s some I found that are worth a look. Are there any others you like? Let me know!

 Cupid Painted Blind

Summary: Few things are more exciting and, frankly, unnerving than your first day of high school. Except, maybe, coming out to your friends when they already kinda knew you were gay. Or finding out that the breathtakingly handsome guy you’ve just met is best buddies with your archnemesis who happens to be a homophobic bully. Or being teamed up for a school assignment with that decidedly unattractive, facially-deformed, freaky-looking weirdo who hasn’t got a friend in the world. Or all of the above.

My thoughts: Anything by Marcus Herzig is a safe bet. I’m currently reading (and LOVING) Never Do A Wrong Thing. I had trouble getting into Cupid Painted Blind, but the writing is good and I bet a lot of people would like it.

Nail Polish and Feathers (Deep Secrets and Hope Book 1)

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Evan Granger has no problems with being gay. Despite his mother’s objections, he wears nail polish and makeup to school and pursues his goal of becoming a professional drag queen.

TV drag star Taffy Sweet gives encouragement and Evan’s cousin Holly tries to protect him, but school bullies abuse him so badly because of his sexuality and the girly way he dresses that he ends up at the hospital emergency room. After that, even his new crush, a closeted football jock named Moe Garcia, is unhappy about Evan’s choice to live his life openly gay. But even in girly clothes and nail polish, Evan is a force to be reckoned with, and he soon shows the bullies—and everyone else—that beating a drag queen up does not mean the queen is beaten down.

My thoughts: Slice of life story for a resilient young man who is determined to be himself. This is a series and the first two books are available on KU.

At the Lake

Summary: Shane Martinelli and William Houghton come from very different backgrounds. They meet at a high-end summer camp in the Adirondacks, where Shane works as a lifeguard to earn some money and begin saving for college. William is one of the guests, and he doesn’t want to be there. As far as William knows, his father only dumped him at the camp so he could spend time with his latest mistress. When Shane figures out William can’t swim, he offers to teach him. William enthusiastically responds, but when an unexpected storm blows in, William is caught in the water and Shane comes to his rescue. They barely reach shore before lightning strikes the dock—close enough to damage Shane’s hearing.

The following summer both boys return to the camp. Shane doesn’t let his use of hearing aids stand in his way. William is now a counselor-in-training. The attraction between them is undeniable, but how can they possibly make it work? Once camp is over, a week at William’s family home in the Hamptons will determine if the love that bloomed at the lake can survive in the real world.

My thoughts: Chronicles a developing romance with some drama and surprises thrown in. There’s lots of good characterization and descriptive settings.

Pride & Puberty

Summary: Diego Ramírez is an eighteen-year-old gay with niche internet fame who is just trying to get through high school without being recognized. Everything is turned upside-down when his Filmmaking teacher throws him into a group project, and of course one of his partners is Mauricio Fernandez, the quarterback. His plan of successfully making it through high school without anyone taking notice of him was beginning to fall apart as his group managed to insert themselves into Diego’s life. Somehow, he’s not even mad about it.

My thoughts: For those looking for cute, fluffy romances without angst or drama.

Bisexual Blues

This is a scene from One Little Lie, a humorous romance featuring a bunch of queer high schoolers. The book is currently on sale!

Luke

Zach was at our lockers, thankfully by himself and not making out with anyone this time. I viewed him from the other end of the hall. Wait, I’m glad he’s alone because he’s been all over girls and he makes it hard to get my books. Not that I’m heading over there at the moment. But that’s why I said thankfully. Because of him and the girls.

Not for any other reasons but that he was annoying and got even more cocky after fooling around. Yep, him going after everyone was totally a hassle and I wasn’t thinking of any one specific instance where it wasn’t a girl he was kissing.

“You can’t avoid him forever.” Ryan stood beside me and looked amused.

I would have tried to act all casual and like I had no idea what he was talking about, but then I looked down at myself and realized I had scrunched myself against the wall as much as possible in the space before the lockers began and was half obscured by the tall structures, with just one eye and one side of my face peering intently at Zach.

Avoiding Zach forever? “I could test that hypothesis,” I said loftily.

“Okay, you speaking science to me is so hot,” he leaned close to me with a smile on his face and then playfully pushed me in Zach’s direction. “But really, go talk to him.”

I nodded. I probably should. I really don’t want to. I gave him a pitiful look. “Please don’t make me?”

“I won’t.” My boyfriend is a sucker for my puppy dog face. I didn’t even have to break out the dimples. Except then his face turned calculating. “I’ll go tell Lydia.”

She would definitely not fall for my puppy dog face, my dimples, or any of my faces.  “I really hate you sometimes,” I told Ryan seriously.

He only smiled at me and quipped, “Don’t be like that, Undecided Nickname.”

“Oh my god. Fine. I’m going.”

This wasn’t a  big deal or anything, but Ryan had totally gotten here early. There was nothing special about today at all, he was just here before homeroom because he knew I’d be freaking out about Zach and wanted to provide moral support or something less sappy sounding.

And that was pretty cool of him and I wasn’t at all getting sentimental over the little gesture and behaving like a giant girl whose boyfriend did something nice and so I got all dreamy and swoony and melty. Yeah, Ryan was great. No big deal, nothing to see here, move along.

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.

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!

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.

A (Not) Christmas (Not) Miracle

Hi, how are you? Did you say cold? I’m going to assume you said cold. Me too! Yes, there are places that don’t get freezing and snowy this time of year, but I don’t want to think about that since I’m not in one of those places.

This is just a quick post to say that exciting things will be happening soon. Starting next week, there will be sales on F.N. Manning books lasting throughout the month. Every book will on sale at one point except for Entirely Too Gay.

Why isn’t ETG on sale? Because it’s already free and you can get it here.

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.