Life advice I’ve never taken: be slightly less unhinged

For some reason, I uploaded a bunch of image quotes I made for One Little Word all at the same time. I guess I was trying to be helpful and have them all in one place, which mostly means I have no idea which ones I’ve used already. This might not be a problem for those with better memories, but I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I don’t even remember how I started this sentence.

Every time I post a quote, I resist the overwhelming urge to add that I’m pretty sure I haven’t posted this one yet. But maybe I have, so let’s just gloss over it if I posted this last week too. I figure putting it out there once is enough. In summation, if I post quotes more than once, please be cool about it. Thanks!

Also, yes, I did only say be cool because it’s in the quote below.

This excerpt involves a boy flipping out because he’s about to have lunch with another boy. This second boy is open to the possibility of being attracted to the first boy, which is where the insanity comes from. I could have just used their names instead of calling them boys, but I’m telling myself it’s too late to change that now.

Being attracted to someone is a totally understandable reason to be a lunatic. No, that’s not true at all. It’s not okay to be a lunatic in a dangerous way when you like someone. But it is okay to be a gigantic nervous weirdo in the romance department, lots of people aren’t smooth operators.

By reading this, you might think Ryan is a gigantic nervous weirdo when he has a crush. I want you to know that’s not true at all. Ryan is a gigantic nervous weirdo always, but in this case, he happens to be a weirdo and have a crush at the same time. This is an important distinction (no, it’s not.)

 

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Ryan

I had butterflies. Stupid, gigantic butterflies, furiously beating their wings inside my stomach. Was I going to burst into song? Was I going to throw up? Maybe!

Hopefully, I wouldn’t do either of those things. I just couldn’t say for sure.

I willed myself to still from where I was vibrating out of my skin. Be cool. No, that was impossible… be slightly less unhinged. I could try that.

Okay, I would walk into the cafeteria and sit down with the baseball guys, something I’d done multiple times before. No big deal.

Only…

There was a particular guy at the table. One who was interested. In me! He may not be Luke, but the problem was that Luke wasn’t interested.

Surely I’d gotten the neuroticism out last night. I went through every piece of clothing I owned trying to find the right thing to wear. I eventually picked out my best fitting pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, and a green plaid shirt to layer with. No need to dress up too much. Or drive myself crazy.

Or drive myself crazier? Because I was jumping up and down, just a little, where I stood. I tried to stop… nope, still rocking on my heels. I felt extremely excited.

 

Kissing Complications

Luke’s life quickly gets out of hand when his stupid mouth and dumb ideas lead to strange new places in One Little Word. An excerpt and image quote will follow after my nonsense.

The idea that immediately came to my head for a title was, Luke’s experiences aren’t universal. Maybe that needs more explaining. That’s a quote from Kimmy Schmidt. As I’m really lazy right now, and most of the time, I’m going to roll the dice and hope I spelled Schmidt right even though there’s no way. Oh, I spelled it a different way the second time and the red squiggly appeared, so hooray, I got it right once and still don’t need to open a different window to look it up. Small miracles, y’all. I will take it.

I’m not sure whether Luke’s experience with kissing a boy is universal or not. Maybe not exactly but it’s also not uncommon. Many guys kiss other guys. The part that’s less universal is kissing another boy as part of a fake dating scheme. Well, it is universal in romance novels. Like this one.

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Luke

Lunch went… awkwardly.

Duh. I had just sucked face with a guy in front of everyone in the cafeteria.

And I thought the stares were bad before.

No, everything was perfectly normal…

Yeah right, that wouldn’t work.

This wasn’t a video or a rumor. I had kissed a guy in public. Naturally, the atmosphere at the baseball table felt incredibly tense.

I insisted the earlier kiss wasn’t real. I told the team that Ryan and I weren’t together. Then I kissed him in front of everyone, and now we were having lunch with my shell-shocked team.

There had never been this much quiet at the table before. Without anyone speaking, my thoughts were loud. My mind kept repeating that I had kissed Ryan in front of everyone. It wouldn’t let that go.  I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around it.

I kissed Ryan. Yep, there I went again. I hoped it would stop being true somehow. Wait, oh god. Instead of helping, I made things worse.

Because I couldn’t just say I kissed Ryan. That wasn’t enough. It had happened more than once, so the specific time would need to be specified.

I was a guy who had kissed another guy enough times to need clarification when referencing the touching of our lips.

Mental malfunctions

Do you ever have a moment at three in the afternoon where you’ll like, damn I’m hungry, and then you realize you haven’t had anything to eat? Maybe not if you don’t have hyperfocus and ADHD. Occasionally, that happens to me. My two speeds for concentration are, oh hey, did you see this cute dog on the internet and on the other end, ALL FREAKING IN.

This is all I have to talk about now because  I’m very hungry, but the food I warmed up is still too hot to eat. I do have a quote from One Little Word to share, so I guess I’ll do that.

I was going to provide the relevant information here before the excerpt, but then I realized that it’s literally a guy crushing on another guy. So that’s all the details right there.

_

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Ryan

Luke was one of my new friends. Making nice and getting to know him seemed like a good idea at the time. He apologized and he was my boyfriend as far as the principal was concerned.

However, once I stopped despising a guy that hot, I was doomed. Hell, once I fell into his arms like a damsel in distress, I was doomed. Saving me gave him a clean slate and made him instantly crush worthy.

Hating him had provided some protection from his stupidly attractive face. Now all I noticed was the green of his eyes, the way the light looked in his hair. Anytime the dimples appeared, a small electrical fire started in my brain and I lost all cognitive function while repairs were made.

 

Screw Ups, a love story

And now a moodboard for One Little Word. In this story, a cocky jock tries to avoid trouble while creating an arguably bigger mess.

Ryan

Luke fidgeted, still avoiding my gaze. “I could have been suspended. I got detention instead. Because, uh.”

The moment felt solemn. I’d never seen the big man on campus act less than totally confident and self-assured. I waited with bated breath, almost afraid I would pass out. That’s how long it took him to speak again.

Finally, the wait ended.

“I told them I’m gay.”

The solemn mood evaporated. I burst out laughing. He looked annoyed at my outburst, but this was the most hilarious thing I’d ever heard. I couldn’t stop giggling.

“I also said we’re dating,” Luke told me next.

That shut me up.

 

Favorite Characters: There is a correct answer

I write YA gay romance novels, in case you had no idea. My One More Thing Series starts with fake boyfriends and then becomes what I would describe as, “cute idiots, sarcasm, and more cute idiots.” My guess, and from the few people who have told me, most people’s favorite character is Ryan.

As Ryan is one of two main characters and the whole series is about him and his love life, that makes sense. He’s funny and zany and very likeable character-wise. My fave is Zach. I like Ryan, and Luke, the other main character who I think of as a bi-disaster who tries to not be a terrible human being, but Zach would agree with me here when I say he’s the best.

Ryan is a lot, and I am a lot, so having two a lots in my head is A LOT a lot. So Zach. I love him. It’s not relevant to anything, really, but I’m proud of myself for not letting his moodboard get out of hand.

Zach!

When I saw Zach, I had no complaints. Unless I was drooling, then I took issue with myself for being such an obvious loser. He wore a dark leather or faux leather jacket, tight jeans, and his hair was flawless. Like honestly, I stared while looking for a flaw, because it was giving me a complex, but there were none.

Luke OLW

Here is some writing and art about Luke Chambers from One Little Word. This is part of my series of posts celebrating the new edition of the book. Yay!

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Luke

On the pitcher’s mound with all eyes on me, I can handle heavy hitters, fastballs, anything. Real life is different. And dumb jocks like me aren’t known for being good with words. When some careless remarks heard by the wrong ears land me in big trouble, I panicked as my easy life turned anything but.

Being Luke Chambers means guys want to be me and girls want to date me. I never considered guys could want to date me too. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because, as crazy as it sounds, there’s only one way to prevent disaster: I need a boyfriend.

Out of the fire and into… a gay relationship. My pretend romance with Ryan Miller may look like puppy love, but his real feelings for me seem closer to pure hatred. The guy showed up to one of my games in a cheerleading outfit for girls just to humiliate me. It worked. He challenges me on everything, even something as unimportant as a game of ring toss.

I didn’t think life could get crazier than having a fake boyfriend. Then I started liking him.

Ryan is more challenging than Algebra II, yet a million times more interesting. Making him laugh is like hitting an out of the park home run. His hand in mine… there’s no comparison, I’ve never felt anything like this before.

Being out and proud isn’t the easiest thing in a small town like this, but it doesn’t stop Ryan from wanting something real. I don’t blame him. Pretending with him has started to feel more real than anything else in my life. That doesn’t make admitting my feelings easy. I’m not sure I can give Ryan what he needs… but someone else is willing to try.

If I don’t figure this out soon, I might lose Ryan Miller before he was ever really mine.

 

Performance Art or Something

If I haven’t mentioned before that I’m updating One Little Word, then I’ve at least mentioned it now. I’m working on getting a print version done too.Which means that it’s relevant for me to post stuff from that book. I was going to anyway but being relevant is cool.

And when I say I’m working on updating it, I mean it is updated. There’s new cover art, hopefully better editing, and expanded scenes. Hooray!

The book is a gay romance about fake boyfriends, and there’s a scene where they go to a high school play together. I’m not really sure why I decided the play should be A Midsummer Night’s Dream because that might be the only popular Shakespeare play I haven’t read but whatever. On the other hand, “what fools these mortals be” could basically be the summary for the entire series, either that or “boys are dumb.”

Here is some art and an excerpt from the theater date.

 

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Ryan

LUKE AND I ATTENDED THE DRAMA CLUB’S fall presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream together.

He got to pretend he was an out and proud athlete, and I had someone to go to the show with, so I refrained from complaining. However, I couldn’t stop myself from flailing internally at how date-like it seemed, but I covered pretty well, I thought. Good thing my not-date was fun to laugh at.

We were early, so we stood in line and waited to be let in while I watched Luke with a bemused expression.

“The play takes place in the woods, right? You’re sure one of them doesn’t wander off and die?” he asked hopefully. “It’s the perfect horror movie scenario.”

“This isn’t a horror movie, it’s a comedy.”

“They should have done Romeo and Juliet instead,” he muttered.

His acting chops weren’t great, but they were good enough for people to believe our act, so maybe he would make a good Romeo. With passionate green eyes and dimples, I could see how any naïve young Juliet would follow him to certain death.

I felt nervous and excited just from the awkward hand holding we were doing.

“You like Romeo and Juliet?” I questioned.

“I like swordfights and death. It’s the Shakespearean version of an action flick,” he reasoned.

“Well, this is the Shakespearean Hangover.”

His eyes narrowed. “No way.”

I shrugged. “Everyone wakes up confused in a forest and there’s a donkey instead of a tiger.”

While not completely convinced, he decided, “I guess I’ll give it a chance.”

“You’re so uncultured,” I teased.

“Hey, don’t be mean. I’m your boyfriend,” he teased back, but I couldn’t handle hearing him say those words.

“Shut up.” I removed my hand from his suddenly.

Luke frowned. “I’m joking.”

“You suck at it.”

He doubled down, clutching a hand to his heart and imploring, “Oh, I’m so sorry, baby. Can you ever forgive me?”

I did not melt. I fought a smile while saying, “Pretty sure you’re hopeless.”

He grinned. “But you love me anyway.”

The words caught in my throat.

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.)

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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.

Romantic Couple’s songs and completely inexpert opinions about music

I’m not a music snob. Not that I’m entirely opposed to the idea but my conversational ability when it comes to music is “I like this’ or ‘I don’t like this.’ And keeping track of all the artists and songs is, well, I already can’t keep track of all the books and TV shows I like and want to check out, so music is something I enjoy but it’s not a passion and I’m not an expert.

Feels like I should break this post up into sections

Looking at some of the songs I’ve posted in the past, I seem like I could be a music snob. My tastes are all alternative, sometimes not even the tracks played on the radio stations. It almost seems like I know my stuff. Oh, you like Billy Eilish too? Bad Guy is so overplayed, and I liked her before she was cool! That was my hipster impression.

(Apparently I’m feeling lucky because I’m just taking it on faith that I spelled Eilish right. So if I did, go me! If I didn’t, my bad!)

In reality, I’m not sure the music snobs would accept me into their group. One, while alternative is my favorite musical genre, what the hell even is alternative? I’ve been listening it to for a very long time and I have no idea. The closest I can come up with is that it includes a lot of other things, some folk, rock, indie, punk, grunge, etc. And also its not pop. Can that be a definition, not being something? Even though some pop and alternative do crossover but that’s way over my head.

More Cowbell… or more pop music

equalizer-153212_640I actually like all kinds of music. In a verbal conversation, this is normally the point where someone is like, oh yeah, you like metal/christian/country? Dude, you don’t have to be a jerk. And the answer: No! Not as a whole, but yeah, I could find a few songs I liked of just about anything.

While alternative is generally not pop (except for when it is) I do love me some pop songs. One Direction, Britney, Ke$ha, I’m all for it. That’s what this post is about, adding some pop. Because I wrote everything that went before this paragraph without remembering that I had also posted a Taylor Swift song.

A Very Serious Musical Debate

I put all of that in title case, but I didn’t for the other headers, so please don’t notice that. Thanks, you’re the best.

Music critics Ryan Miller and Luke Chambers of the esteemed Not-Real Music Magazine discuss some pop songs in One Little Problem. They’re trying to figure out what their couple song would be. I will soon give you that scene and one of their options, Sucker by the JoBros.

One more thing though, remember when I said I could almost be a music snob? That was before I revealed my intense love for the Year 3000. That was like the first Jonas Brothers hit, and it’s really old now, and I was a little too old to like it even then, but damn, it’s a great freaking song.

Then I got distracted by Danny Trejo

Photo from WGNTV

Oh, I know one other thing about the Jonas Brothers. (Actually, I know a fair amount, because I once made the mistake of clicking on an article about Joe and Sophie Turner and now my Google feed won’t shut up about that.) Danny Trejo was in one of their music videos, Burning Up.

 

You may not know the actor’s name, but Trejo is the scary Mexican from literally everything where they’ve ever cast a scary looking Mexican for the past couple decades. While the amount of media with scary Mexican dudes isn’t great, there is so much that is great about Danny Trejo.

My favorite random fact is that Trejo would agree to be in people’s student films if he was available just because he’s an incredibly kind person. (He got into acting later in life and he’s a fellow Mexican American, that’s cool too.) And also, he was in a JoBro music video for some reason!

Ryan, Luke, and the JoBros

This is Ryan and Luke trying to figure out their song. And also a song.

Ryan

The fading sun cast Luke’s tan features and sandy blonde hair in a soft glow and if I listened very closely, I might be able to hear angels singing because even they marveled at his beautiful muscles and green eyes.

Luke cut into my thoughts, saying in a firm voice, “No Jonas brothers. I have to take a stand somewhere.” He made a fist with one hand, punching it against the steering wheel to show the force of his metaphorical stand.

“The JoBros are the hill you want to die on?” It was in my nature to question things, but I could maybe respect that. Nick was pretty hot; the Jonas Brothers weren’t a terrible way to go.

Luke paused for just a second, aha! Then he doubled down. “It’s an important hill.”

“Whatever, I know you have Year 3000 on your iPod.” I turned towards my window to avoid showing my smile. Wait for it…

“Dammit,” he cursed under his breath. “Did Lily tell you?” She didn’t; his little sister wasn’t a terrible secret keeper.

I grinned triumphantly. “No, you just did.”

The car slowed as he took the turn to his house. “Isn’t that song  you mentioned before kinda suggestive for us?” he questioned. He just got a haircut, so his dirty blonde hair was cut relatively close to his head. My fingers itched to familiarize themselves with the new length of his locks.

“And that’s a point against it?” I was all for suggestions, as long as those suggestions were about and/or coming from sexy guys.

“No,” he admitted. “But come on, we’re gonna tell people that’s our song? Sucker?”

Luke knew what it was called! He totally dug the JoBros. Wait, did he think Nick was more attractive than me? Wait again…

“Okay,” I said. He had a good point. I tried to relax into my seat.

I wasn’t driving, so I had a good view of the slight pout forming on his face. “That’s all? I thought it was good innuendo.” It went something like, I’m a sucker for you, which yeah, could be taken so differently.

“It is,” I agreed. That was why I hadn’t been able to say anything else. Startling the driver by screaming or tackling him with my body wasn’t a great idea. “I’m so proud of you.” This is why his nickname was Genius. There was no one else I’d rather spend my Friday night with.

~