Luke is always the last to know

If it seems like I’m posting a lot about the first book in my gay romance series, One Little Word, the reason is because… I am. If you like these posts, awesome and I love you. If you don’t, then sorry and it won’t last forever.

At least in this instance, there’s a method to the madness. The method is celebrating the release of the new edition. Or maybe that’s the madness? It’s either the method or the madness.

Here’s a summary and a quote from the book.

One Little Word

Luke faces trouble of monumental proportions. The straight baseball player has one chance for salvation… a plan that includes “dating” another boy. Yikes. Luke is (reluctantly) ready for every possibility involving a fake boyfriend except what happens if he falls for the guy.

Ryan the awkward science nerd is the only openly gay kid in their small town. He’s smart enough to know that crushing on a straight jock is a terrible idea… even if Luke is painfully attractive.

From innocent kisses that turn scorching to holding hands and never wanting to let go, what started as a fake relationship feels shockingly honest and genuine. But Ryan fears what they have can’t be real. Luke’s afraid it’s already too real.

Will this unexpected couple step up to the plate and go to bat for each other, even if it might mean striking out?

 

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I’m single and ready to mingle. Wow, that sounded incredibly lame. I would never say that out loud.

I couldn’t keep a grin off my face as I walked down the halls. Maybe a few people shot me weird looks, but who cares? I had a lot to smile about. Namely, I no longer had a boyfriend.

What a weird sentence. At least for me, a straight guy.

Dealing with Ryan these days had gotten… Wait, he’s not a bad guy. He’s really nice, for a snarky jerk. I like him. Platonically! Not romantically because I’m straight. Some other guy will go crazy for him and those weirdly nice legs of his. Just not a straight guy like me.

 

Everything is awkward, a true (fake) high school story

Previously on One Little Word, a totally straight boy and a not-at-all straight boy kissed each other to convince a teacher they’re dating, because a series of contrivances made this necessary. And now everything is awkward.

Only one of them knew the kiss was coming, which is part of the problem because the surprised boy can barely handle stuff he’s expecting when it comes to this fake dating arrangement. And also the two boys like each other, which is most of the problem. One boy doesn’t think mutual affection is possible and the other one doesn’t even know about his crush on a conscious level.

Because I feel like it would be annoying and boring if I posted the same summary every time, I instead make something up when necessary. So I’m not sure if that summation is confusing, but it at least sets up this deleted scene from One Little Word very well.

Side note: If for some reason I had to sum up One Little Word in five words, then “And now everything is awkward.” would work really well.

~

Ryan

1littleword - smallI could face Luke. Definitely. If he even showed up.

I sat at our usual table in the library in the corner farthest away from the librarian. The table was crammed in between shelves that housed history tomes no one ever touched.

I tried not to worry over whether Luke would be here or not. We usually met in the library and goofed around more than studied, but he hadn’t shown up the last few times after our kiss.

We were friends, I reminded myself. My attraction wasn’t real. Or it was, but it was also chemical. I understood that. I could get past that.

Dopamine production increases with attraction and makes the body loopy. Butterflies appear, feelings become more intense, and dopamine triggers similar responses to what crack cocaine creates.

Seriously, love was a drug, and it needed to be freaking outlawed so I would avoid overdosing and totally embarrassing myself.

I used my science brain whenever I could to make the mess of my life more palatable. There was herd mentality, which was why I was reduced to the sidelines of school. And survival of the fittest, so I hoped I never broke a bone again because I definitely wasn’t very fit.

Not like Luke.

While a little delirious and in a lot of pain, I possessed vague memories of him catching me when the loft floor collapsed. I remembered being pressed against his solid chest. Or maybe I’d dreamed about it so much it seemed like a memory now: those arms cradling me and holding me up.

Shit. Dealing with my insane crush seemed difficult enough when no one noticed me. Now everyone had seen me and the most popular guy in school making out.

I felt like an exhibit in a zoo as people kept staring at me. Normally, I’d have some witty comeback to make them blush and look away, but I was too lost in my own thoughts.

How should we handle this? Was there a way to handle this where I could still have Luke as a friend? Doubtful.

I’d been working myself into knots about this mess all day. Just when I was ready to let myself relax because Luke wouldn’t show up, there he was.

He looked as delectable as I remembered.

Dropping down in the seat next, he pretended everything was normal and he hadn’t been keeping his distance. I couldn’t blame him. I blamed Lydia, not that she noticed or cared about any of my frosty looks at lunch.

Had I been aware Luke was going to kiss me to avoid Mrs. Sharp’s wrath, I would have talked him out of it. I knew it would cause him to freak out, but he hadn’t consulted me. Lydia had somehow convinced him not to. She wanted Luke obviously and he wanted her too. Everyone knew that, so why was hurting me a necessary step in the process?

I tried to conceal a dreamy sigh as I got to drink in the sight of Luke up close once again. His blonde hair looked soft as ever, and I thought it was getting a bit longer. He wore a blue, long-sleeved shirt that stretched over his broad shoulders. He looked frantic but still smiled at me. I went lightheaded for a second. He looked so good and the dimples hadn’t even made an appearance.

And now the story of this story

Because I am incapable of on topicing, first I have to say that the title I made up sounds like something Perd Hapley would say. He’s the painfully literal over-explainer and reporter from Parks and Rec for those who aren’t as Perd obsessed. Actually, maybe the title is an actual quote from him? Well, either way, totally intention on my part.

(The only way to improve on the perfection of Perd, in my opinion, is to know his actor is also a reporter in real life and he only plays reporters.)

perdreddit
pic from reddit

The Story’s Origin Story

Fun fact, or at least one of those things, when I wrote One Little Word, I had no idea what I was doing. It was my first ever YA gay romance and the plot contained such depth and complexity. Just kidding, the original idea was this: so there’s this nerd. And then there’s a jock. And they aren’t friends but then they have to date for reasons.

How did I come up with something so original? Easy, I didn’t try to be unique! I wanted to use popular tropes. Plus, I was also counting on my complete inability to ever keep things simple to ensure the end result would be both familiar and unique.

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Needed a picture, so here’s one with a quote from the book.

Writing this, it sounds like I had a plan with this novel. When I wrote it, again, I had no idea what I was doing. Whether I’ve learned anything since then, who knows, but now I more confidently fumble my way along.

These observations brought to you by my attempts to make a print version of the ebook.

Extreme Makeover Book Edition

Someday I would love for all my books to have print and audio versions. Though, it’s hard to say when that mythical day will arrive. My current print efforts are being done with all the speed of an old, doomed gazelle at a watering hole.

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Another quote

The cool part is that the ebook is getting an update. New cover, expanded scenes, theoretically more editing. Which means, when One Little Word goes on sale, that’s a perfect opportunity to get the new edition, become acquainted with the series, or even leave a review. I’m saying all this as if it’s totally just occurring to me and not something planned at all.

The One Little Word sale is from, oh my god, I literally just looked it up, how do I not remember again? Okay, the sale is from Feb 16-23. The book will be 99 cents the whole time. Yay!

Also, if you have Kindle Unlimited, anytime before April is a good to check out the book. Or any of the books I’ve written. Since they are leaving the KU library. I have as much idea as you whether this will be a permanent change or not, which means I have no idea. Unless you have an idea, then you know more than me, so let me know? That would be kind.

The End

And now, I’m going to start as I began, with gratuitous Perd Hapley.

Fake dating, fake break ups, and other stuff that is not fake.

I adulted today! Take that not-adulting! My dog will not get heartworm because I ordered more heartworm pills for her. I even talked to a person over the phone and everything.

If you regularly talk to people on the phone for business or pleasure, or if you have less social anxiety than me, maybe this isn’t a big deal. I’m still going to bask in the imaginary glory of a task handled and a job well done.

Wow, I’m actually going to get at least two things done today. What else am I doing? Posting this. Here is an extended scene from One Little Lie. This is a different version of something similar in the book.

Setting the scene: Due to insanity and stupidity, Luke was out of the closet at school and publicly dating Ryan Miller. When this news reaches home, he pretends to be dating a girl instead. Now the group is talking about this.

Basically, the boys in this story are dating each other. The girls in this story are dating each other. Coming out is difficult, so the people with ‘L’ names said they were dating each other instead.

~

Ryan

Our foursome talked strategy at lunch. Now that Alicia had seen how terrible Luke and Lydia were together, she was in and wanted to help. My guess was that she hadn’t been as cool about this idea as I was when she was told and was trying to make up for that now.

Her efforts to get Luke and Lydia to formulate a plan weren’t working; it didn’t seem like they wanted to do much. They sat on the same side of the table and people watched us and whispered. Hey, in this fake scenario, I was a pretty mature person by eating lunch with my ex and his new girl. Good for pretend me.

I couldn’t even imagine I would be anywhere near as composed if this were real but that just meant I had a strong sense of self. I knew who I was and what I was about. Still. I liked the idea of being that mature. I tried to find this hidden well of maturity while talking about Luke and Lydia’s relationship.

“Are you and Ryan going to break up?” Alicia asked Luke.

“Like hell we are, you homewrecker,” I responded automatically.

So much for that maturity.

kiss-2931833_960_720Alicia gave me a patient, amused expression. “If the latest rumor is that you two are dating,” she nodded her head at the pair across from us, “maybe you two should publicly break up first.” She pointed to me and Luke.

Okay, I was feeling a lot less cool with this suddenly. I glared at Alicia and she shrugged, not understanding. Because she wasn’t out and no one knew about her and Lydia, so she didn’t have to “break up” with anyone to make this work.

Luke smiled at me. “What do you think? I bet we could top our last fake break up.”

I felt an eyebrow raise against my will as I considered that. Our fake breakup had included a public screaming match in the hallway, accusations of betrayal and jealously, and Luke being slapped.

Maybe this new charade would make sense as everyone thought Luke and me already broke up once partly because Lydia was the other woman. Topping that would be a challenge but could be fun.

Then I remembered what I was thinking about and shook my head.

“I don’t know if that’s necessary,” I said, trying to sound rational instead of weak and scared.

“Come on, give us a show,” Alicia encouraged.

“You do have a flair for dramatics when the occasion calls for it,” Lydia said stiffly.

Had Luke not been helping her out, she probably would have found a way to say that in a less complementary manner: drama queen. I smiled sunnily at her and she scowled until Luke saw her scowling at me and elbowed her and she looked down at her food instead with a little huff.

Still. “I don’t want to break up,” I admitted quietly.

“You don’t have to,” Lydia said unsurely, “But it would help.” She glanced at Luke.

“Come on, it won’t be a big deal,” he tried.

“No,” I said firmly.

I was already loaning out my boyfriend and I felt sympathetic to their cause, but I couldn’t do more. Fine, no maturity for me, but I couldn’t go through a break up, not even a fake one.

Luke and I were actually dating now and I didn’t want a break up screwing that up even if it wasn’t real. And our fake fight had turned real last time; that could happen again. I couldn’t stand up in public and say I didn’t want to date him anymore and I didn’t want to hear that from him. It felt like tempting fate or at the very least subjecting myself to something awful.

I didn’t explain very well, but Luke seemed to get it. His foot kicked mine under the table and he had a small gentle smile on his lips when he looked at me. “Hey, it’s okay. We won’t break up.”

I was probably being silly. But then again, it was hard to feel anything other than content when Luke looked at me that way and our legs touched under the table.

After a moment Alicia sighed. “So, the basic plan is just to half ass this?”

Everyone nodded.

~

This has been More on Mondays, where I post outtakes and deleted scenes. On Mondays. Every other Monday to be exact.

Friendship, cookies, and bi panic. Totally normal bro stuff.

I was gonna do the talky talk talking thing here, but this is a pretty good sized scene, so I’ll just get to it. Porcupines! (Sorry, I couldn’t completely do the whole serious, professional thing. That would be too weird.)

This is from One Little Lie, and it’s a deleted scene.

Relevant information: Luke is dating a boy and wants to figure out his sexuality but most of his feelings about this are “oh god, oh god, oh god.” He goes to his friend Zach, known bisexual and avoider of feelings, for help.

~

Luke

My sister said she thought I was a boring straight guy once. I was certainly interesting now; my dilemma was multifaceted. I had no idea what I was. I didn’t think and maybe didn’t want to be gay, but what if I was? Things had never felt this good, this intense before.

That’s what I thought about after leaving Ryan’s house.

heartThen there was the other part, which was maybe worse. Maybe things didn’t feel so intense and crazy and wonderful because Ryan was a guy. Maybe it felt that way because my feelings for Ryan were more than I’d ever had for anyone else, maybe it was lo-

Nope. No. Too scary.

I’m the good guy, I’d always been the good boyfriend. I held doors open, paid for dinner, tried to listen, bought flowers, all of it. I executed all the right moves on the outside, but it never felt like this on the inside.

I’d said I love you before and I had thought I meant it at the time, but it didn’t feel like this. Real, intense. Consuming. Was I gay? Did it matter that I still liked girls?

I wasn’t the type to do awkward or self-doubting and now there was a lot of that in my life. Ryan and I were each other’s first boyfriends. Though he’d been on a few dates with Zach and had definitely been attracted to other guys. Maybe Ryan was special to me, but I wasn’t special to him.

Huh.

What a not fun thought.

That was only one of the reasons I couldn’t share with Ryan when he offered last night. Mainly, I wanted to go into his house and do anything that involved being undressed and not talking. Also because I didn’t want all of my fond, serious thoughts to spill out. And also because… it just didn’t feel right unloading all this stuff on him.

Lydia had her own soul searching to go through, so I turned to Zach. The easiest way to get Zach to cooperate was to tell him exactly what you wanted and make it clear that you would leave him alone after you got it. This wasn’t baseball. No warm up. No beating around the bush. Direct.

When it was time for our next away game, I clapped him on the shoulder and sat down next to him on the bus. “Prepare yourself for a serious conversation,” I informed him.

“Thanks for the warning.” He moved to get up. “But you didn’t inform me in writing at least three days in advance so—”

“Okay, but I want to talk about BEING GAY AND QUEER SHIT,” I raised my voice. “Whoever sits next to me will have that to look forward to.” Suddenly there were no free seats for Zach. “Come on, we can do this quickly.”

He sat back down but complained, “I don’t want to hold your hand through this. Can’t you talk to your actual boyfriend about this?”

“I’ll tell him once I figure it out.” He did it on his own.

Okay, this was what I was talking about earlier. The big reason I couldn’t let him help me. Not only did he figure it out on his own, my addition only made things more complicated. I opened my stupid big mouth and told people he was gay.

I didn’t really know him at the time. I didn’t know about being in the closet or outing people. It was an accident. I just… After that, I didn’t want to put this on him. I could do this myself.

Mostly. I told Zach, “I’m talking to you whether you like it or not.”

He idly glanced out the window, but I doubted he’d make a break for it. “Fine.”

“Fine.”

guypicsDeep, deep down he was really a good person. You just had to get through all the bullshit first. Zach liked to present himself a certain way and his family weren’t really the type to have serious, intense conversations. My parents freaking loved talking. I just didn’t think they’d want to listen to anything I had to say at the moment.

I didn’t say anything for a few moments. “So,” Zach said after a tense silence, “Are you gonna start talking then, or what?”

“Right, right.” Okay. I wanted this. “I bought some time. With the Lydia thing. But I still don’t know.” There.

He didn’t say anything. I just expressed my doubts in such an eloquent and articulate manner and he had nothing to say?

“Okay, so this is supposed to be a conversation,” I explained.

“I’m aware,” Zach said cooly. That was all he said.

“It’s your turn to talk,” I prompted. Maybe I should jump out the window instead.

He shrugged. “I don’t know what you want me to say to that.”

Oh dear god. “Help me,” I ordered. Or maybe begged. “How do I even decide? It’s like a big decision. Straight or gay.”

“You’re acting like there’s no other options.” He rolled his eyes. “Like being bi, for instance.”

“Yeah, I guess.” I shrugged.

Zach said he liked guys and girls. That was an option, hypothetically. I couldn’t imagine it any more than I could being gay; maybe I liked it even less for some reason.

It wasn’t that simple, was it? To just say, oh, I like both and there, problem solved. That was awfully convenient. How long could that last for? Wasn’t it just putting off the inevitable? I couldn’t decide if that’s what I wanted to do or not.

“Please don’t let this inflate your ego more,” I told Zach, “But you make it look really easy.”

“I’ve known I was gay for a while now,” he said simply. He used gay and bi interchangeably sometimes, but how was I supposed to know if that was what he was doing this time? Then, seeing that I was clearly about to ask if he was gay now, he added, “I’m still bi, but I don’t have a problem with either term.”

Gay had become something of a catch all term, but it didn’t feel like it to me. If I called myself gay out loud, that meant I liked men and men only. Zach didn’t agree. Not that there was anything wrong with being gay, obviously. It just wasn’t me.

Zach sighed and his tone wasn’t exactly gentler, but for him it was almost warm and fuzzy as he continued, “You suddenly found yourself in a… situation.” Instead of boyfriend, I would have to refer to Ryan as my situation later; he’d get a kick out of that. “It might take time to figure everything out.”

I thought about that. How much time did I get? Did I have to become gay after my transitional period was over? When should I expect my membership card in the mail and how did I go about returning it?

heartyStill, it wasn’t bad advice. This was new to me. I got a little time at least. All I could come up with to say in response was, “Wow, you sound so wise and rational.”

“I know,” Zach shuddered. “I don’t like it.”

Well, that didn’t really help. But I guess it was reassuring. I felt really dumb, but I hadn’t been dealing with this for that long, that was true. But Zach had known he was gay for a while now?

“I don’t think I’ve seen you go after a guy besides Ryan,” I noted.

“Oh god, we are not talking about that,” he said firmly.

I sighed. This was probably as good as our conversation would get, so I deemed Zach’s best friend duties over with and reached into my backpack. “Hey, I brought snacks.”

Zach smiled. Now some of the guys looked jealous, which made his smile grow. Zach liked envy even more than dessert. Ryan made cookies for the road. We ate them all ourselves but shared with Joey too. Apparently, I owed him for always telling him things he didn’t want to know.

~

This is part of a continuing thing I do called More on Mondays.  Where I post extra scenes, hence the more, on every other Monday, hence the Mondays.

No one dies in this book!

Horror movies are not something I enjoy. Doesn’t really matter if the subject is actually frightening to me. If there is ominous music and something jumps out of the shadows, I will jump too, except I’m jumping due to terror.

Every time I have watched a horror movie, my first thought is, why am I watching this? Then, as it begins, I generally spend a few moments going, hey, this is nice, why can’t it just stay like this?

Because at the beginning of the scary movies, there’s calm, happy people just going about their day. Excited to go camping or to a house that totally isn’t haunted. I like those parts. And maybe it’s a lot less interesting if people just have a pleasant day and nobody dies, but I’d be okay with that.

Naturally, this doesn’t have a lot to do with the point of this post. This is a snippet from One New Start. It’s from the beginning, where life is going right. There are no monsters in this book, but there may be other challenges. Eventually. Just not in the beginning where everything is great.

Ryan

The stars were up there above us, filling the night sky like they were meant for private viewing by us and us alone, as if we were in our own private planetarium. We were laying out on the hood of Luke’s car, and he had his arm stretched out behind me, so it was my pillow. A solid, unyielding pillow that would never sell in stores because it was odd and misshapen. No one would buy it except me, who would purchase every last one.

We shared a few quiet moments just gazing up at the sky. Together.

“I’ll keep on keeping on,” Luke said. “Being boring me while you take a normal thing like having new experiences and find ways to make it extreme or scary.”

There was no guarantee I would do that! Unless one counted past experiences and my personality as a guarantee.

“I want new experiences!” I defended. Being not crazy could be part of that.

“You’re still going to be the same person while you’re having them,” he reasoned.

“I guess.” I did like me. But there were so many options out there. “Unless I can be Cher? Can I be Cher?” I crossed my fingers and held them up so he could see them.

“Don’t want to date Cher,” he replied. Aww. Sweet.

Also, that wasn’t a no, so maybe I could be Cher… then again, one of the only things I had going for me that Cher didn’t have was that Luke Chambers wanted to date me, so I wasn’t giving that up.

“Nicholas Cage?” I offered instead. He was another guy.

“Even worse.” His disgusted face was so cute.

If the opportunity presented itself to be Nick Cage, I would totally do that just to freak Luke out, but otherwise I would be me. That sounded just fine actually. I had great people in my life, great things to look forward to, and a really great boyfriend.

This was going to be an incredible year.

Life Advice I’ve Never Taken: Don’t be Weird

I occasionally do this thing where I read a book, then write about what I read and post my thoughts on here about said book. Some people call this book reviewing. I call it that too. I don’t do that as often as I’d like because I’m really slow. To solve that, what if I talk about a book I haven’t read?

Yes, that might be difficult considering, you know, I haven’t read it. However, I’m not gonna let that stop me!

Basically, I just wanted to share the tagline or whatever you want to call it from Lock & West by Alexander C. Eberhart.

Note To Self: Just Don’t Be Weird

Lock is awkward. He can’t make eye contact, counts when he’s nervous and has to remind himself several times a day how ‘normal’ teens behave. Homeschooled most of his life, he’s resigned himself to a friendless existence at his new Atlanta high school.

Until he meets West.

 

Just don’t be weird! I love that. In my experience, that’s easier said than done.

For example, I’m bad at knowing how to end things, so I just kind of… stop. Like now. Bye!

Poetic, coherent thoughts that aren’t at all cheesy

Sometimes, I have a perfect beginning for a story and other times I play around with a million ideas because I can’t quite figure out how to begin. This was one of those million options I considered for the beginning of One New Start.

Ryan, one of the main characters, is pretty random and spastic, so maybe I didn’t even need to provide a reason for the adventures he embarks on, but this Ryan, the guy who is about to embark on adventures. He’s talking about senior year.

Of high school. I write YA. Not geriatric-A.

~

flowers

Ryan

They wrote songs about this, the way I was feeling.

Cheesy, stupid songs that I would never admit to liking out loud but always got stuck in my head anyway. Songs about how nothing could stop you, how the future was ahead. YOLO, carpe diem, the time was now, the feeling was right, I have no idea.

Recently, the musical selection had been a little… why? Whenever I turned on the radio to a pop station or a country station or a rap station, and that was all we had here, the same stupid Lil Naz song was always playing about a horse and roads and whatever. Boring.

But hey, Lil Naz was gay now! No, he always was but now the public knew. That was cool.

Don’t know that I even need to say this, but like that’s ever stopped me before, I would rather talk about me than Lil Naz.

I woke up this way. Fabulous. And also, excited. Like, hard to sit still excited, ready for what’s next, big crazy smile on my face excited for the start of my senior year.

Living in my small town and being the gay kid, it had been a long time since I was excited for the school year. It was always ugh, another year, at least it’s one step closer to freedom, but it’s still not here yet.

Now it’s like, yay, another year!

They wrote songs about this. Cruising down the road with my baby next to me, windows down, wind in my hair. A beautiful guy next to me and nothing can stop me.

Yeah, there was a song about that. I didn’t know the words, but I was singing it anyway. I was living it anyway.

~

This has been More on Mondays, where I post outtakes and deleted scenes. On Mondays. Every other Monday to be exact. I wanted to italicize this, so I did.

Time traveling powers not included.

As I start reading Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey, it occurs to me that this would have been a really good book to read before Halloween. This observation really doesn’t help me because I can’t go back in time, so let this be a lesson to you.

What that lesson is? I have no idea.

This is a quote from the book. I would add more context, except that I ‘m not sure what to add. True story!

No victory was worthwhile unless it cost you something. Unless you grew from it.