(Abridged) 20 Questions

This is an excerpt from my YA M/M romance called Like You a Latte.

Owen sat up straight in his chair and met my gaze with a forceful look. Oh boy, I prepared for a doozy. Something deep and philosophical maybe. Or something incredibly invasive and personal. He took a breath and then asked, “Glass half empty or full?”

At the very least, I was expecting some stoner paradox. I saw a 4/20 pin on his apron one day. If Chuck Norris can beat everyone, could he beat Chuck Norris? I didn’t know whether this was an improvement on that question or not.  “Do you want more time to think of a question?” I asked him.

“I’m the one asking now,” he told me primly. “Kindly answer.”

There was probably a mathematical equation to figure it out. Find the circumference of the glass and then- “I’d have to see the glass,” I told him once I spent a few seconds pondering it.

Owen nodded. “Chicken or egg?” he asked next.

I blinked at him. “Which is my preference?”

“Which came first?” he clarified. There wasn’t a way to win this game the way we were playing it, but he was definitely losing. And it was his choice to go easy on me and not ask anything personal but that didn’t mean I had to do the same.

The chicken or the egg. Just as trivial as glass half empty or half full. Simple at least. “Scientifically—”

“Journey or destination?” He cut me off to ask.

“I didn’t get to answer the second question fully,” I protested.

“Trust me,” his tone sounded drier than the blueberry muffins on sale today, which wasn’t hard because they were very moist, but his tone was still pretty dry. “That one word was enough.”

“And you wasted your questions.” And again, not that this was a competition, but if it were, I would so totally be winning. I was going to kick his ass with my questions.

“No, I’m getting a pretty good idea of how you see the world.” He held up his hands in a frame shape as his eyes skated over me, like he was getting the full Spencer Sharp picture.

“Those questions told you something you didn’t already know?” If so, I might have to question my evaluation of his intellect.

“I’m confirming my hypothesis,” he said with a smirk. “Isn’t that something you smarty pants types care about?”

I suppose. Him saying hypothesis was mildly arousing. I shook it off. My turn to question him. “What’s your least favorite subject in school?” His favorite was English. Was he a thoroughly right brained person and hated math or did he have a proficiency but not interest in the numbers and sciences?

“No, you didn’t answer my last one yet. Journey or destination?” He rested a hand on his chin and looked at me expectantly, like he was dying to know the answer.

Oh, well that was simple. “Destination, obviously.” The journey was the necessary steps you had to take in order to complete your goals. An equation. A formality. The instructions. Or the recipe. But the point wasn’t about how to make a pie, it was about eating the pie.

Owen rolled his eyes but smiled as he said, “Obviously.”

I understood as I wanted to roll my eyes too as I said, “And you disagree obviously.”

While I still maintained his questions were stupid, this was fun and lighthearted, exactly what I needed. Maybe that was why he didn’t ask anything difficult. He was good at reading people. He had that thing I used to think was made up, but I’ve since come to terms with me just not having it, emotional intelligence.

“You never told me your least favorite subject,” I said.

“Spanish,” he answered.

Hmm, that was another right brained discipline. Fascinating. “Interesting,” I mused.

“I don’t like the teacher,” he elaborated.

“Fair enough.” I thought about another question. “Hogwarts house?” I could be whimsical sometimes.

“Okay, I’m happy to answer but maybe not now.” He waved a hand. “That’s a whole thing. A big discussion. We’ll have to devote a different night to it.” He looked excited about it. Him taking the house he’d be sorted into so seriously was a little silly… I should find it a little silly. It was actually kinda hot. And I liked when he made references to seeing me in the future. The small hints that he liked having me around and wanted me to stay in his life.

“I’ll defer that question for a later date,” I concluded formally, feeling a smile form on my face when he snorted at my tone.

“One more.” His eyes danced with something I couldn’t make out in the low lighting. The hazel depths just seemed warm, happy, and I couldn’t tell if there were any flecks of green there, but I liked the hint of something a little mischievous and challenging in his gaze. “Make it good,” he challenged or encouraged.

Whichever it was, it worked. “Last boyfriend?” I asked. I had done a very good job with this friendly/flirty dance we’d been doing, considering I didn’t usually do this. I usually knew what I wanted and what I was getting. And now the perfect opportunity presented itself where I could test the waters. I couldn’t resist.

And the waters were… murky.

Owen blinked and his mouth dropped open like I surprised him. “Oh, uh.” He fidgeted and laughed awkwardly. His fingers twitched on the table and he looked down, not knowing what to say.

Shit. What if he had a bad breakup? I probably would have reacted the same way if put on the spot about Lucas and I didn’t know if I’d share. While it wasn’t a school course, Lucas and my last relationship were definitely my least favorite subject. “Sorry, you don’t have to answer if—”

“No, it’s fine.” It didn’t seem entirely fine. He met my eyes and gave me a weak smile. “I just. I’m not really the boyfriend type,” he said quietly.

“Oh.” I guess that made sense. He didn’t make a lot of plans for the future, he didn’t seem like the type to be tied down. I couldn’t quite process my feelings about his admission. I should have suspected as much. Still. Having it said was something else. I regretted asking this question.

“I mean,” he amended. “I haven’t been, in the past.” He still looked a little nervous, but there was a gentle, hesitant smile on his face. Was he afraid of how I’d react?

I didn’t regret asking this question. “So, you’re saying—” I started to ask and then trailed off. He might be open to it with the right person? I tried to make my posture open, to seem nonjudgmental. I didn’t want to scare him off.

“I’m saying that I don’t know.” He shrugged, looked down at the table. Good because I couldn’t hide a wince. That didn’t sound very optimistic. “It’s not that I’m opposed,” he continued. “I just haven’t been in a serious relationship. I’m usually more casual.”

So, like the opposite of me. I already knew that. I probably needed to say something.

He spoke again before I could formulate a response. “But remember, I’m the one of us who likes trying new things.”  The gentle smile was back on his face, hopeful. Oh. And that, that definitely sounded optimistic to me.

I didn’t know if I should smile back, maybe I should just be neutral and supportive, but that hopeful look made my insides all soft and warm and I had to smile at him. “Yeah,” I said lightly but with a bright smile on my face. “I guess you are.”

The book is available here.

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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.

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.

 

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.

Familial Love

I’m now reading Just a Dumb Surfer Dude: A Gay Coming-of-Age Tale by Chase Connor. Supportive families are a must in YA LGBTQ fiction, but sassy families are great too. Here’s a quote:

“Why are you having trouble with the fellows? I mean, I don’t understand wooing other men, so I can’t help much, but…”
“For crying out loud, dad.”
“I’m just saying, you must be doing something wrong. ” He shrugged. “I lost my virginity at 15.”
“Yeah,” I scoffed. “To mom. And then you guys dated the rest of the way through high school, college, and then got married.
“One sexual partner doesn’t make you a stud, dad.”
“At least I’m not a virgin. Nerd.”

Nicknames are serious business

This is an excerpt from One Little Lie, which will be released on Oct. 20.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genius? “Like hell!”

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

“Lemon drop is mine,” I insisted.

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

~

Riding With Brighton Review


It’s hard to imagine anyone could find fault with Riding with Brighton. It’s a great character piece and a lovely romance too.

Summary: Jay Hall sees his life from a fresh perspective and finds himself wanting. He wants to change everything and knows just the person to help him: Brighton Bello-Adler, who is just about the coolest person in the world. They spend a few days together and go on an adventure of self-discovery and romance.

About Jay: Jay is unhappy with his life because he’s unhappy with himself. He’s good looking, popular, and an athlete, but he’s not impressed by his friends or any of his accomplishments. Because he’s been living with a part of himself he was too scared to acknowledge. But things are changing.

Jay’s been getting to know someone in one of his classes, Brighton. He likes talking to Brighton but feels really inadequate compared to him. Brighton is a shameless flirt with everyone, charming, an artist, and openly gay. He’s seems very confident and sure of who he is. And Jay wants to be like that. So he thinks.

It becomes pretty clear that it’s not hero worship Jay feels but a crush. It’s really sweet watching Jay gushing about Brighton in the safe context of a role model. He thinks he wants to be like Brighton, but he really wants to be worthy of catching Brighton’s attention.

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It was a sharp right turn, backward a good mile and a half, around corners, down hills, through a forest, and across the universe from where I really wanted to go.

About Brighton: In addition to Jay, there’s Brighton. Brighton is kind of a perfect angel who does no wrong but he’s still a strong character with his own voice. Jay’s the star of the show while Brighton is a supporting player, but again remember that this happens over the course of a few days and Jay has enough drama going on that it would have been too much to add more conflicts for Brighton.

What’s really great about Brighton is that he’s just a normal guy. He’s not boring but his life is going pretty well. And while that might not be great from a story perspective, it’s refreshing and a much needed portrayal of a gay teen in today’s culture. There’s no angst or depression. He has loving friends and a supportive family and being gay is just one part of him. He’s a good counterpoint to Jay and a realistic ,sometimes seldom seen, type of gay teenager.

The romance department is the only area lacking in Brighton’s life. He wants to be a normal kids who goes and dates and takes someone to prom. But there’s not a lot of dating options in his town. And he’s very attracted to Jay. He’s torn between the strong pull he feels for him and keeping his distance while Jay figures stuff out. He doesn’t want to get his heart broken but he can’t help the more attracted he becomes the more Jay shows of himself of Brighton.

What makes it unique: This is an interesting story because all the action takes place in the space of a weekend. It’s like a crash course in Jay’s psyche and emotional development as he dives head first into issues he’s never been able to confront before. The book provides a really in-depth character analysis and there’s lots of upheaval and revelations as Jay fits the coming out process into the span of a few days.

The Romance: The action is both the story of Jay finally being honest with himself and those around him and getting to know Brighton better. They can’t really help falling for each other the more time they spend together. They develop a real connection and a very supportive partnership.

There’s a lot of fun and flirty banter and swoon worthy moments. The book has the feel of a whirlwind romance, something intense and all consuming. But it’s not an artificial, insta-love kinda thing because the main characters get to know each other very deeply in a short amount of time and there’s both big romantic moments and more tender elements where the characters discovering each other and falling hard.

Favorite Part: The prose. The prose is just, really, really good.

My thoughts: Haven Francis wrote a beautiful book that should probably be read more than once in order to fully take in and appreciate everything. It’s life affirming and lovely but also doesn’t solve everything.