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.

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.

More on Mondays, deleted scene

There’s a part in One Little Lie where there’s a Very Gay Double Date, and I had fun writing it, which is probably why there’s so much of it. Here’s a deleted scene.

Things to know: Ryan and Luke are dating. So are Lydia and Alicia. They’re in the car, heading to a gay club.

~

Ryan

Lydia and I had our differences, but I’d never loved her more. Her bad attitude and attempt to ruin our night meant that I wasn’t the one doing anything stupid. I was actually kinda relaxed. It was hard not to be. I got to sit in the front because my boyfriend was driving. That was one of those little, totally insignificant things I never thought I’d get to do in high school; the kind of thing I wanted because I didn’t think I could have. Gotta say, it wasn’t bad.

The scenery outside was miles of boring, flat farmland, so I looked at Luke instead. Orange light spilled in the car then faded and the shadows played across his face. He occasionally took my hand and held it while he drove. Totally unsafe but I couldn’t protest. I was too busy being happy and soaking up this moment in case the first double date nerves came back.

sunset.jpeg

“Um, Ryan,” came Alicia’s voice from the backseat, “Did you want any of our beverages? Because now is the time as, uh, we’ve almost drank them all.” ‘We’ was more like Lydia but I didn’t call her on it and declined a drink.

I got high on life. Which sounded lame, but I just didn’t drink very often. I had poor reflexes and an inability to keep my thoughts to myself at the best of times, so I didn’t need help from alcohol to make a fool of myself.

“It’s okay, you can drink,” Luke told me.

I eyed him. “You’re just saying that so you can take advantage of me,” I accused. Though if that was the case, why was I objecting? He could totally get me drunk and take advantage of me.

He rolled his eyes. “I mean it; you’re a fun drunk.” Maybe I was warming up to alcohol.

I turned around to look at the girls and perhaps ask for some of the alcohol, but Lydia had her head tipped back as she drained the rest of the liquid. The long, pale line of her neck didn’t do anything for me, but it distracted Alicia enough that she didn’t notice my gaze. Huh. How did that work? She liked the way Lydia looked but didn’t want to do anything about it?

Well, probably. You didn’t have to want to hump something to appreciate its aesthetic value, otherwise museums and art galleries would be really weird.

I turned back to Luke. “No, if you’re not drinking I won’t either. Solidarity boo.”

Luke’s hand went from the wheel to land on my thigh, squeezing once and then pulling away. That moment was way better than booze.

~

More on Mondays: Now with More Puppy

My dog didn’t get a lot of exercise or outside time today because it’s been gloomy and rainy all day, so perhaps I should have expected when we went out on the deck and it started raining. As I’m in the process of moving in and outside, and this is the second time I’ve done that while trying to write this blog post, I’m not even gonna try to connect what I’m saying now to anything relevant.

Sometimes I say something and then immediately contradict myself, which is a Ryan thing. Ryan is from the novel I’m about to share an extended scene from. See, now the random stuff I’m talking about is related!

Additionally, it’s hard to think of stuff to say when there is a nearby dog barking her head off. Not really sure what she’s barking at, because she’s looking up. She does bark at birds, but there aren’t any birds, or planes, or flying men with capes.

She doesn’t like stay inside days. I’d say she gets crazy, but really she gets crazier, which is also a Ryan thing.

Have I posted a picture of my dog yet? I’m asking in a rhetorical manner because I’m totally about to regardless of what the answer is.

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This sums up her current mood pretty well.

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But this works too.

Okay, only one more I swear, I need one where she doesn’t look miserable.

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Man, she’s great. Even though she’s barking again.

Without further ado, unless I think of more ado, here is something from One New Start. Available now! Which is new development, which is why exclamation. !!!

In this part, Ryan and Luke are boyfriends about to have an adventure. The adventure involves devious behavior and being up to no good. There are many reasons Ryan would be a bad criminal, and some of them are mentioned here.

~~~

Ryan

Still not going along with the incognito part of the plan, or being very bad at it if he was, Luke used his turn signal and still hadn’t cut the lights as we approached our destination. Yet he told me, “We probably shouldn’t talk when we get out.”

“I’ve been practicing my whispering voice!”

I didn’t try to whisper that, so it’s okay I said it at a volume that made Luke wince.

“It’s still too loud,” he assured me. The car slowed down.

“You haven’t even heard it.”

“Still, I’m right, aren’t I?” he replied without taking his eyes off the road.

… My vocal chords just weren’t capable of whispering. Luke didn’t have to be so accurate. “Stupid Luke,” I grumbled.

“You said that out loud,” he pointed out.

“I’m aware, stupid Luke.”

“May be stupid Luke, but I’m your Genius.” Oh pet names, my only weakness besides all the other ones. Luke slowed the car and parked, giving me a grin.

I glared. “No, this is dangerous and wrong and hot, not sweet!

He shrugged. “Can’t help being sweet, just who I am.”

We got out of the car.

The plan was to go in, get the job done, and get out. Smash and grab. Well, no grabbing. We would save the grabbing for later, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. We’d just smash. Wait, that was dirty too, wasn’t it? Everything was dirty these days, what was wrong with people?

This might not have helped with the tough, ruthless thing I was trying to do, but Luke and I held hands while we worked our way through the darkness. I could try going it alone… I’d fall over a zillion times. Also, Luke’s hand in mine. I may be a criminal now, but I wasn’t gonna turn down a good thing.

Books, bowling, boys, and possibly even more B words!

One New Start is available now!

I’m so proud of myself! Not for writing a book, I mean, I guess for that too. Mostly because I’m actually posting on the day it’s released. I’m a serious author, don’t I always do that? Cue the nervous bisexual laughter.

Anyway, let’s focus on the positives. Like One New Start! Available now.

Here’s an excerpt. Ryan and Luke are on a double date at a bowling alley. Ryan has never bowled before but that’s not going to stop him from dominating. (it probably will stop him but shhh, he believes)

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Ryan

I looked to the… playing area where I would soon have to throw the thing into the other things. How many balls did I get to throw? The other people were only sending one ball at a time. That didn’t seem right. I had two hands. And also two feet.

I watched for a few moments, but yeah, everyone only sent one ball down the hallway at a time. Maybe they were all doing it wrong? I glanced at the people I came here with. Lydia smirked at me as I realized this might prove challenging.

I turned back to Luke. “If I don’t knock them all down, I’ll throw my shoes at the pins,” I decided sensibly. “That’s what the shoes are for.”

“That’s… well.” Luke thought about it, then nodded. “Okay, as long as you’ve got a plan.”

There was that whole thing where he wanted to keep me from hurting myself and others, so normally he wouldn’t agree to me wildly throwing things. However, if there was a competition, all bets were off. Unless the contest was betting and then bets were totally on.

I looked to the… playing area where I would soon have to throw the thing into the other things. How many balls did I get to throw? The other people were only sending one ball at a time. That didn’t seem right. I had two hands. And also two feet.

I watched for a few moments, but yeah, everyone only sent one ball down the hallway at a time. Maybe they were all doing it wrong? I glanced at the people I came here with. Lydia smirked at me as I realized this might prove challenging.

I turned back to Luke. “If I don’t knock them all down, I’ll throw my shoes at the pins,” I decided sensibly. “That’s what the shoes are for.”

“That’s… well.” Luke thought about it, then nodded. “Okay, as long as you’ve got a plan.”

There was that whole thing where he wanted to keep me from hurting myself and others, so normally he wouldn’t agree to me wildly throwing things. However, if there was a competition, all bets were off. Unless the contest was betting and then bets were totally on.

More on Mondays (totally a thing! I just started it!)

My typical plan for posting deleted scenes and extras from my novels is this: I post them whenever I remember to do that. I decided to go all organized and just start putting up something one day every week. This is when I ran into a problem.

See, I wanted alliteration. Thirsty Thursday. Man Crush Monday. Taco Tuesday. None of those are related to what I’m doing. Though I guess having crushes on men isn’t totally unrelated.

Okay, I spent a few minutes pondering different words. Deleted, bonus, additional, cut, removed. I was looking for any word that also started with the same letter as a day of the week.

I couldn’t find one that worked, so I’m going with More on Mondays.

bookssss

What’s More on Mondays you did or didn’t ask?  It’s where I’ll post new writing that didn’t make it into a previous book or longer versions of a scene. You know, outtakes, edits, revisions, excerpts and other synonyms.

Did I just tell a long story for basically no reason? Now you know why I have surplus content!

Oh, surplus, that could have worked. Surplus Sundays. Or Supplemental Saturdays. Oh well. I already decided.

For the inaugural More on Mondays post, I went with something from my upcoming release, One New Start. Inaugural? I’m so fancy. Here’s what you need to know: Ryan and Luke are boyfriends, Ryan came up with a list of new things to try, and they are maybe going to dance.

(Whenever I sum things up, I have the urge to add ‘and that’s what you missed on Glee’ at the end. Am I going to be like this for the rest of my life? Damn you, Glee!)

Anyway, here’s a story.

~~~

Ryan

Reckless disregard for limb and law time was over. For now. Normally I would be sad about that, but I had dance lessons on my list.

There was no way dancing could go wrong. Saying that might be inviting the universe to show me all the ways things could blow up, maybe even literally, but not this time. My logic is flawless. Go me, using logic! Another new experience!

I really wanted to learn to dance. If that happened, then I picked up a new skill and did what I set out to do. If not, I still got to press my body to Luke’s body. I also really wanted to do that. Either way, I won.

dancing

Not sure if dancing was girly or not, but I wasn’t going to be dancing with a girl. And seriously, dancing was a socially acceptable way to press my body to my boyfriend’s body in public.

If anyone thought dancing wasn’t worthwhile, they were dumb and didn’t have a pretty boyfriend.

We stood in the dance classroom with its polished wood floor and mirror on one side, so there were two Lukes. A dream come true. I could only touch one though. My boo and I stared at each other while mirror boo stared too.

Luke’s blue t-shirt stretched enticingly over his shoulders and I put my hands there, to encourage him, get the ball rolling. To feel his shoulders, warm and strong as always.

“You’re the one that picked this activity,” I reminded him. I had the idea but he’s the one who said we should do this one next.

His hands went to my waist, so we were maybe getting closer to dancing. “I picked this because most of the ideas you had written down are criminal, impossible, maybe going to get us killed or definitely going to get us killed.”

“That sounds like a personal problem,” I told him sagely.

dance

~~~

Just going to casually add (in a casual way!) that One New Start comes out on Sept. 15.

Review: Out of the Pocket

Sports are not my thing. What is my thing? Everything but sports. I did watch the World Cup, because my friend had a party and provided free donuts. I watched one Superbowl for the actual game and not the commercials, and it wasn’t too bad, but I still never did that again.

When I say I was able to read all of Out of the Pocket, that’s not an insult or me having nothing else to say. Good job, Bill Konigsberg, I finished a sports book! The book is very sports and I am very not sports. If you’re into gay, coming of age sports stories, this is probably the best one you’ll find. The writing is super good and it’s easy to read even if you don’t know anything about football.

Summary and definition, all in one:  The pocket is a safe place for quarterbacks while they find someone to throw the ball to. Being out of the pocket means the QB isn’t in the safe zone and a bunch of scary dudes are running toward him and trying to tackle him into the ground.

Before coming out of the closet, Bobby Framingham has to go out of the pocket as he’s out of his comfort zone when things start changing during his senior year of high school. He tells some people he’s gay, other people find out, and things keep happening a little quicker than he’s ready for. He doesn’t want anything to change but that never works out in fiction.

Being out of the pocket isn’t his strong suit on the field but now it’s happening during life too. Get it? There’s a double meaning!

Sports! Ahem. Sports: There’s a lot of action with the football games and while some of it went over my head, it’s pretty fast paced and not terribly difficult to follow. There’s also a good amount of moments with the team that are fun and lively. My notes were, “Very sports. Very bros.”

If you like football or other sports and are interested in things people who know things about football and other sports have to say, there’s a forward and afterward by people who are much more well informed than me.

The end of the world as we know it: When you have a secret, sometimes you can ignore it and pretend like it doesn’t exist. Until you can’t anymore and suddenly everything is about the secret. Because all the parts of life you like will be ruined if people find out and all the parts you don’t like will be even worse.

Bobby wants to win games with his team and play football in college, and he’s not sure that’s possible if people find out he’s gay. There’s a lot of that, I like my life the way it is, I don’t want it to change stuff. Even though it has already changed. College is approaching, he’s growing apart from some friends, and his dad doesn’t seem to be himself.

Naturally, YA is really good at teen angst, and this book fits in. I love the impending sense of doom and the end of the world because that’s really how problems seem sometimes, especially with something as big as coming to terms with sexuality. There’s a lot of worrying about how things will go wrong, how the main character won’t get the future they wanted.

I also like how the novel highlights that coming out isn’t typically a one and done thing. Bobby comes out multiple times to different people with varying reactions. But as each coming out happens, it’s okay, even when it goes bad. The world doesn’t actually end. Sorry, spoilers.

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Writing Style: Great writing that is so effortless it makes me want to cry out of appreciation and jealous, impotent rage. The more you read, the more satisfying it gets. It’s all fairly straight forward at first glance, which works well for a sports book. No flowery prose, just the action. However, there are plenty of parallels and metaphors and all that good literature stuff.

My favorite part: Bobby tries to discuss coming out with a guidance counselor who is very focused on getting the right answer to his crossword puzzle. It’s a cute scene. What I loved about it is that Bobby can’t fathom going to college or beyond as an openly gay athlete, it just doesn’t happen very often. The counselor tells him that someone has to change the world and he could be the one to do it.

If you’re wondering why I love that part, here are my thoughts: UGH. IT’S JUST SO GOOD. WOW. GAH. I LOVE IT. SO GOOD!

Plot Twist: Just kidding, it’s right there in the offical summary that Bobby gets outed. Coming out to the larger world wasn’t his choice and there was some angst and distress, naturally, but I enjoyed that he eventually went with it all instead of dwelling on what he couldn’t change.

Moving on and focusing on the positives and whatnot is such a weird, foreign concept for me, the perpetual worrier who is incapable of letting things go. I liked how Bobby decided to take control of what was happening even though it didn’t happen how he planned.

The Supporting Cast: Actually, there’s a lot of supporting characters. The novel is a glimpse into Bobby’s world, so several faces come and go. For me, Austin and Carrie were the other characters that stood out.

Carrie is the BFF and quasi love interest, she’s very manic pixie dream girl. She’s a little much for me sometimes, but she also had some good lines. Her character is very strong. She takes over a lot of the scenes she’s in, not in a bad way, she’s just larger than life. Everyone thinks Bobby and Carrie are dating, and even Carrie thinks they should be at the beginning. I’m not totally sure there needed to be a one-sided attraction. She gets over it pretty quick and everyone assuming they’re dating would work just as well on its own.

Austin is one of Bobby’s best friends. Austin is a ladies’ man and a football bro. He’s a bit of a dick as he tells some friends Bobby is gay, but it seemed like he just didn’t know how to react. He tries to support Bobby and ultimately it was one of those things where he wasn’t as big a jerk as he could have been.

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TL;DR? This is as brief as I was able to make it: Bobby makes a couple comments to himself about how Austin selectively acts Mexican when it works for him. Austin is mixed, white and Mexican (me too, samesies), and many people probably didn’t give the parts about his ethnicity a second thought because they’re very small. Just let it go, I told my brain. My brain did not let it go.

With being biracial or bisexual, it’s sometimes hard for people to get things that aren’t always visible. For example, if you’re a guy dating a guy, you’re gay. If you’re a guy dating a girl, you’re straight. In my experience, some things aren’t one or the other. Some things are always both.

Some parts of YA are intense, so let’s be clear this isn’t a call out or anything. Fiction is rad because it can be anything. And all the things Bobby thinks about Austin’s race are a very accurate outsider POV as I’ve heard them said to me a million times. I just wanted a little more. Why did Bobby think these comments about his friend’s race and not say them out loud? Had he said them out loud before and they weren’t appreciated?

I don’t need an after school special where a Very Important Lesson about racial sensitivity is learned. Things could have gotten worse, and Bobby could have doubled down on his comments to Austin. Either way, I just wanted more, for the throwaway comments to be given a little substance.

The Romance: There is some, hooray, but it isn’t the main focus. The love interest this time is named Bryan and he’s great. He’s in college and he’s sweet, confident and supportive, a very good first boyfriend. There’s a lot of uncertainty and figuring stuff out in the plot, so it’s nice to have this relatively uncomplicated romance.

There’s a moment where Bobby is freaking out and Bryan is just steady. Bobby thinks the world is ending and Bryan’s just like, nah. And of course, they’re by the water for maximum mood. That’s another of my favorite moments.

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.

~