#FlashbackFriday

“This book wasn’t about passion or need. It was more of a discovery of wants and hopes.”

awakeningsAn existential awakening and lots of French chansons equal a favorite neighbor seen in a new light.

Iggy Wilker never expected his 36th birthday to turn into an existential crisis. When Iggy’s friends celebrate him with his usual favorite pastime—drinking, dancing, and willing guys—he suddenly wants nothing to do with any of it. He’s fed up and ready for something else. The question is what?

Ronan Clenney has had his eye on his neighbor forever, but as a single father of a precocious eleven-year-old, he’s never believed he stands a chance. But over a late-night cup of tea, it seems that circumstances have changed. Is this the right time, finally?

Iggy has never believed in romance, but can Ronan show him he’s wrong? That love is a real thing?

M/M Contemporary / 11 120 words

BUY LINKS / ADD TO GOODREADS

JMS BOOKS | AMAZON | AMAZON UK | KOBO | ITUNES | B&N | GOOGLE PLAYSCRIBD | SMASHWORDS

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Awakenings quote review quote

There’s also a short Valentine’s Day story about Iggy and Ronan you can read after you’ve read the book here on the blog

Excerpt:

We do this a lot, me and Ronan, hang out together without talking, sometimes with music playing, sometimes not. It’s never uncomfortable, I never feel the need to talk just for the sake of talking. I can relax in his company in a way I’m unable to around anyone else. I’ve come to cherish these moments and I crave them more and more.

“Thanks for this,” I say after a few minutes.

“Anytime. Tell me about the ‘eh’ night.”

I sigh and rub my palm on my head. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Who says something’s wrong?”

“It must be, right? I don’t like doing the stuff I’ve always loved anymore. The guys brought me to a huge party tonight. I’m not kidding when I say ten guys threw themselves at me during the first hour. And what did I do? Declined their generous offers, drank sugary drinks, and hid in the bathroom where Dicky Potter tried to get me to suck his cock by waving it in my face and insulting my height.”

“Oh, no! Not your height,” he says with a faux horrified expression. “He must’ve had a death wish.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” I throw a mock glare at him. He knows that being vertically challenged is a sore spot for me, but he’s the only one who can get away with making fun of it. Also, anyone with two brain cells can probably figure out why I wear boots that add four inches. Hint—it’s not for comfort.

“And…Dicky Potter?” He rises an eyebrow.

“Yeah, you know. He waved that thing at me as though he tried to Wingardium Leviosa me.” I show the motion I’ve learned from the movies with my finger.

Ronan presses the heels of his hands to his eyes and his shoulders shake.

“What’s so damned funny?”

“I shouldn’t have let you watch Harry Potter with Emery and me. I will never be able to look at them again without thinking about Dicky Potter,” he chokes out between chuckles. “And then Emery is going to ask what’s so funny, and—”

“Stop!” I hold up my hand. “Not another word!” My eyes are about to bug out of my head at the thought of sweet Emery hearing about that. Ugh. I shiver.

He peers at me and we burst out laughing.

The silence returns after our merriment fades. A new song starts playing on the stereo. A haunting violin and a lonely piano is followed by a guy singing. His voice is so full of emotion, I can’t help wondering what he’s singing about. The words hit me right in the heart and make my chest ache with loneliness. A lump appears in my throat and I swallow to keep it from spilling out of my mouth.

I can feel Ronan’s eyes on me. Can he see my weird mood? The shine in my eyes caused by French words sung with a desperation I’ve never heard before? I suck in my lower lip to stop my chin from trembling.

“Would you like more tea?” Ronan’s voice is soft, as though he’s addressing a scared kitten.

I don’t trust my own voice, so I nod. The familiarity of his movements when he fixes my tea reassures me. The care in which he adds loose tea leaves to the infuser and pours water of just the right temperature over them. The way he patiently waits three minutes while it steeps. The gentle smile he gives me as he sets the mug in front of me.

The French guy agitates my heart with his singing, and Ronan calms it with his kindheartedness. The contrasts are intense, making my skin feel too snug for my body, my chest tight, and my stomach worried. My pulse flutters in my neck, and I worry that Ronan will see it. I don’t know what to do with myself.

 

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Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings – pre-order available now

Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings is now available for pre-order at JMS Books. And as usual, they offer 20% off all pre-orders and new releases for an entire week after release date. So clickety-click the link below, and order your copy now 🙂

Cover blurb releasedate

Pre-order: JMS Books (20% off until Sep 27)


Excerpt: 

It’s been nearly three weeks since Mom’s accident—and the leaves are more yellow than green but the heat still refuses to let go—when my phone rings just as I’m on my way back to my office after a long, infuriating meeting. I don’t recognize the number but accept the call. “Oren Walker.”

“Oren. Hi. It’s Pete. Pete Higgins. Your mom’s next-door neighbor.”

“Oh, hey!” I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about him these last few weeks. In the shower, before bed, while having my morning coffee. He’s hot enough to set fire to my pants, but that’s only part of the appeal. Mom hasn’t stopped talking about him since her accident; about how gentle he was when he helped her. How considerate and thoughtful and nice he was when she was hurt and scared, and in the days that have followed.

Of course, I noticed all his good sides myself, those few minutes we spent together, and he hasn’t been far from my thoughts whenever I’ve had a free moment.

“I’m sorry to disturb you at work,” Pete says.

“No problem. I just got out of a meeting with some very upset people and could use a friendly voice right now.” I close my office door behind me and throw myself onto my chair. “What can I do for you, Pete?”

“Nothing urgent. I just needed to tell you something.”

“Shoot.” I lean back and close my eyes, rubbing my temples with my thumb and index finger, trying to fend off the threatening headache.

“I just wanted to let you know that I interfered with your mom earlier. She was on her way to the grocery store. On foot, with her crutches, and I managed to catch her when she hobbled past my house.”

I groan. “Oh my god, her stubbornness is unprecedented.”

“Yeah, I hear you, man. I had to sweet talk her forever before I managed to convince her to go back home. The thing that persuaded her was when I lied and told her I was on my way to the store myself so I could pick up whatever it was she needed.”

“I don’t understand. I bought everything on her list the day before yesterday.”

“Nuh-uh. You forgot the chocolate chips. She couldn’t bake cookies for the church bake sale on Sunday. It was a class one disaster and I’m surprised she didn’t call 911.”

I groan again. “I can’t believe her,” I grumble. “I’ve told her, again and again, to call me whenever she needs anything. I bring my phone everywhere. To bed. To meetings. To the fucking bathroom when I take a shit, so I won’t miss her call.”

My rant is interrupted by a boisterous laughter.

“Gaah, I’m sorry. That was way more information than you needed.” My face heats and I slap myself on the forehead. Good job, Oren. Way to seem like a crazed lunatic in front of the nice man!

“Nah, it’s fine.”

“No, I’m sorry. That was highly inappropriate. Mom would be so ashamed of me. It’s no excuse, but I’ve had a long day.”

“I figured.”

I rub my temples harder. “I just don’t understand why she won’t call me.”

“Listen. She’s fiercely proud of you and all the hard work you’ve done to get where you are. She told me she doesn’t want to be a bother.”

“She’s not.”

“I know that. I told her. But she insists that you are busy and stressed and don’t need more on your plate right now,” he says.

“But she’s my mom.”

“Yeah. But take it from me, as a parent. When you’ve spent the biggest part of your life loving and protecting your kids, you can’t just turn it off. It’s instinct. We want to be the strong, invincible protector we’ve always been and it’s hard to accept that the situation might be reversed.”

“Oh.” That makes a lot of sense; I’ve never thought about it like that. “Thanks. That was a lot more helpful than you probably realize.”

He laughs. “Yay! Who woulda thought? Me doling out parenting advice!”

“You’re better than you give yourself credit for.”

 

Writing update

Hi everyone! Did you have a nice weekend? I did, I got lots of writing done. We have an author chat room with JMS books where some of us authors hang out and sprint together, and this weekend I was fortunate enough to sprint with both Tinnean and Elizabeth Noble.

Having other people to sprint with is very helpful: it’s so great to have someone cheer you on, and someone to be accountable to instead of just sitting by my desk and say I’m writing when what I’m really doing is scrolling Twitter. So I’m really grateful to my author friends at JMS Books who hangs out in the chatroom doing sprints. And tonight, I have another sprint date with the lovely T.A. Creech.

So what is it I’m writing, you might ask? Well, I’m working on a holiday story, tentatively called Four Christmases for one of JMS Books Trio collections. If you haven’t heard of the Trio collections, they are, and I quote, “themed collections of three gay romance stories by a trio of authors. Each story is available separately, but readers can get all three for a discounted bundle price.”

Four Christmases is sort of an enemies-to-lovers story, but not really, and it’s about Auden and Poe whose families (who are neighbors) have been locked in a stupid fight for years, but now the MCs meet after haven’t seen each other for a decade or so, and are attracted to each other. The story will be told over four Christmases (hence the title), and start in 2015.

I’m really liking where it’s taken me so far and the plan for tonight is to start writing 2016.


It’s hard, writing Christmas stories in August with palm trees and 35C (95F) outside the window, so to get in the right holiday spirit I listen to music. My husband is not a fan of Christmas music in August and glares at me, but I just smile sweetly and say It’s work, honey, and that’s that 😀


And while we’re on the topic of Christmas, don’t forget that Unexpected Christmas is now available on Kindle Unlimited!

blurb ku bigger text

Amazon | JMS Books (if you want to buy it and own it 🙂 )

Unexpected Christmas on KU

Is it too early to start talking about Christmas books? Yes?

Not for me; I’m currently trying to write one so I’m doing my best to get into the holiday spirit. Christmas music in August? Welcome to my life! 🙂

Maybe you’re one of those people who thinks it’s never too early for Christmas? If you are, here are some great news for you: Unexpected Christmas is now available on Kindle Unlimited!

So if you have a KU subscription and haven’t read my story about Danny and Ax yet, now’s your chance to do it without having to pay extra! 🙂

blurb ku bigger text

 

Amazon | JMS Books (if you want to buy it and own it 🙂 )

Excerpt:

A few minutes later, a vehicle approached from behind. Reacting instinctively, I turned around and waved my arms, hoping the big truck would stop and have mercy on my freezing ass.

I let out a giddy yelp as it slowed down, but it got stuck in my throat when the driver rolled down the window.

He was huge and couldn’t hold his head upright without banging it on the ceiling. Big steel gauges adorned both his ears — at least an inch and a half wide — and his hair was black and so closely cropped it resembled a five o’clock shadow more than an actual haircut.

“You need a ride?” he asked and his voice was deeper than the Mariana Trench, perfectly matching his frightening appearance. Black tattoos crept up his neck and snaked down his hands below his sleeves. His shoulders were wide, his muscles strained the sleeves of his thick black jacket, and his cheeks were hollow. I was one second from shitting myself.

“I’m not riding with a serial killer!” The words slipped out of my mouth and I groaned. I couldn’t have kept my mouth shut for five fucking seconds to avoid being chopped up and thrown to the wolves?

He threw his head back and let out a thunderous laugh.

“What’s so goddamned funny?” I glared at him, but he didn’t seem to care.

“I’m no serial killer.”

“And I’m just supposed to take your fucking word for it?” I raised an eyebrow. I knew I was being combative and taking out my frustration on this stranger, but I couldn’t stop myself.

“You could call my ma for references.”

“Ha ha. Very funny.” With a deep sigh, I resigned to my fate and started walking again. No way was I getting into a car with that mammoth of a man.

“Where you goin’?” he called after me. When I didn’t bother to answer, he eased off the break and let his truck crawl after me.

I swirled around. “Stop following me, you creep,” I hissed.

He let go of the steering wheel with one hand and held it up as if he surrendered. “Look, man. It’s freezin’. You’re wet and miserable. Get in the truck and lemme take you wherever you’re goin’.” His deep voice was surprisingly gentle. Non-threatening, as if he’d come to expect reactions like mine.

“I’m really not a bad guy.” He stuck out his lower lip in a pout that would have made a five-year-old girl green with envy and I had to bite my lip to stop a smile from erupting.

“Really?” I tried to hang on to my mistrust, but he made it hard. His appearance screamed RUN AND HIDE, but there was something soft in his eyes that told a different story.

He shot me a crooked smile. “It was worth a try. It works on my niece every time.”

The fucker knew all the right words to say to disarm me. “And how old is she?”

“Four.”

I huffed out a reluctant chuckle. “Well, you know how it is. Everyone always says how they couldn’t believe their neighbor was a serial killer because he seemed like such a nice guy.”

His eyes grew big and round. “You’re sayin’ you don’t trust my niece as a character witness?” He sounded as I’d just delivered the biggest insult of his life, but the amused glint in his eyes told me it was all for show.

“Can you blame me?”

“I guess not.” He sighed and grew serious. “Please. I couldn’t live with myself if I left you here to freeze to death.”

My body screamed at me to take him up on his offer. The ice pellets were relentless and I was soaked and gloomy and was starting to feel like maybe being ax murdered wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to me right now.

The openness in his posture and honesty in his eyes had me on the verge of caving. “You promise you won’t kill me?” I sounded like a scared little kid even to my own ears.

Cover reveal

I have the cover for my upcoming story, Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings. Wanna see it? Isn’t it lovely? 🙂 I will update with pre-order links as soon as I have them.

Of_Autumn_Leaves_and_new_beginnings

Sometimes love finds you even when you’re not looking for it.

At 47, Oren Walker isn’t looking for love. When he knocks on Pete Higgins’ door, all he wants is to thank him for helping his mom after she broke her femur. He never expected that one look at the man would make his knees weak and heart flutter.

Pete is happy—albeit a bit lonely—after divorcing his wife of 20 years and isn’t looking to replace her. But when Oren shows up, all grateful and handsome and in that fancy suit, the longing for the deep connection of a relationship flares up inside him.

As the leaves turn yellow, Oren and Pete spend a lot of time in honest conversations. Their attraction grows. Will the two men recognize the promise of new beginnings, and take the chance to find the happiness they both deserve?

RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 21, 2019

If all you have is a few minutes…

If you’ve followed me for a while, it won’t come as a surprise to you that I LOVE short stories, I have ever since I read Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew in my early teens. There was especially one story in that collection that stuck with me, called Survivor Type. It isn’t long, but in just a few pages Stephen King managed to scare me and gross me out, and I’ve never forgotten it, never forgotten how much punch it packed while still being so short.

That’s why I love writing and reading short stories. I love reading about a slice of life in the characters’ lives. I love being dropped into the thick of things, not knowing what happened before, but learning enough in the short read to be able to enjoy the story.

So, needless to say, I read a lot of short stories. And a lazy Sunday a couple weeks ago, I had a short story marathon, and thought I’d recommend three of them.

The Reasons Why is a wonderful story about an established couple where Eliot is annoyed when he gets home, but Ben reminds him why Eliot loves him so darned much. Chicken Soup is a story about loneliness, but also hope, and the ultimate proof that it only takes 3348 well-written words to make me cry. Honey, I’m Home is another established couple where Gabe realizes he’ll do anything to keep the lovely Ruben.

All three are under 5000 words (like all stories in the JMS Books “Hot Flash” series) so if you only have a few minutes to spare but want to read something great – pick one of these!

hot flash

Buy links: The Reasons Why | Chicken Soup | Honey, I’m Home


The Reasons Why by J.M. Snyder

After a long day at the office, all Eliot Travers wants is a much needed nap before dinner. Which his husband Ben is supposed to make.

But when he gets home, Ben is playing a game on his phone and Eliot doesn’t smell anything cooking in the kitchen. As Eliot’s temper starts to rise, he wants to know what exactly Ben’s been doing all day long.

Ben tells him to look on the table by the stairs, where Eliot finds a note he missed when he came in. A note that reads The Reasons Why I Love YOU.

A second note on the steps leads upstairs. Then Eliot finds a third, and a fourth.


Chicken Soup by Mel Bossa

Though Jimmy’s ill and isn’t getting any better, he hopes to have a bit of fun during Pride weekend. When he meets Nolan, a young dancer in the parade, Jimmy takes a chance on making himself vulnerable for the first time in years.

What Jimmy doesn’t expect is how strong Nolan will make him feel with a simple gesture of support.


Honey, I’m Home by Michael P. Thomas

Loving Ruben Pacheco is easy. He’s sweet, he’s supportive, he keeps the bills paid and plenty of food on the table. Loving living with Ruben’s parents presents more of a challenge. They’re critical, overbearing, and openly rooting for Gabe to go home so Ruben might crawl back into the closet.

Gabe’s in love, but he’s getting annoyed — Ruben’s great and all, but is he worth all the hassle?


I’ve also written one story for the Hot Flash line and since this is my blog, Imma go ahead and do some shameless self promotion. (Since it’s the same cover as the ones above, I’m choosing another graphic instead) 😀

all I see promo 2

Theo and Kieran have been together for five years. They’re very happy…behind closed doors. Theo accepted from the start that Kieran isn’t out to his conservative parents and has a lot to lose if they find out about his sexuality.

But a moment of sadness at a wedding changes things. Theo is faced with a decision: live the rest of his life in secret…or break it off.

Or is there a third alternative?

M/M Contemporary / 4633 words

 BUY LINKS:

JMS BOOKS | AMAZON | AMAZON UK | KOBO | ITUNES | B&N | SMASHWORDS | SCRIBD
 | GOOGLE PLAY |

 

Monday Book Talk

booktalk banner

One day, I want to write children’s books. I adore children’s books, especially middle grade stories when kids are developed enough to understand complex story lines, but before all the teenage drama that eventually will ensue. I also love coming-of-age stories, and they are common for that age. Not to mention: the covers are so colorful and beautiful and happy.

So currently, I’m reading a lot of children’s books, because while I don’t listen and adhere to many of the traditional “writing advices” other writers share so generously, there is one piece of advice I do follow:

6840-Stephen-King-Quote-If-you-want-to-be-a-writer-you-must-do-two

I can’t write if I don’t read, that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? And I need to read more before I can attempt to write any myself.

So while doing that, I stumbled on an absolutely fantastic book: Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby.


hurricane seasonFig, a sixth grader, wants more than anything to see the world as her father does. The once-renowned pianist, who hasn’t composed a song in years and has unpredictable good and bad days, is something of a mystery to Fig. Though she’s a science and math nerd, she tries taking an art class just to be closer to him, to experience life the way an artist does. But then Fig’s dad shows up at school, disoriented and desperately searching for Fig. Not only has the class not brought Fig closer to understanding him, it has brought social services to their door.

Diving into books about Van Gogh to understand the madness of artists, calling on her best friend for advice, and turning to a new neighbor for support, Fig continues to try everything she can think of to understand her father, to save him from himself, and to find space in her life to discover who she is even as the walls are falling down around her.

Nicole Melleby’s Hurricane Season is a stunning novel about a girl struggling to be a kid as pressing adult concerns weigh on her. It’s also about taking risks and facing danger, about love and art, and about coming of age and coming out. And more than anything else, it is a story of the healing power of love—and the limits of that power.


(Look at that pretty cover, which is extra pretty when you’ve read the book and know that Fig, the MC is obsessed with Vincent Van Gogh – look at that swirly sky!!)

This is an absolutely fantastic book and everyone should read it, whether you’re a middle grader or a soon-to-be forty-seven year old woman like yours truly. It also has LGBT representation which is why I’m writing about it here on the blog. If we ever are to rid ourselves of bigotry of any kind, we need to educate our kids. And what better way to do that than normalize it by telling inclusive stories?

The LGBT aspect is handled beautifully in this book. When Fig (who’s a wonderful character) realizes she likes girls instead of boys and tells her dad Tim, his reaction is great. He listens to her and accepts her truth without questioning it. Without showing the slightest bit of hesitation.

But also, if this had been a M/M romance book, it would be labeled as a double-GFY (and I know the GFY label is problematic and I agree with the arguments why we shouldn’t call it that, but this story is told from Fig’s POV so we don’t get any insight to whether either of the grown up men have liked other men before) because it turns out that Fig’s dad falls in love with their new neighbor Mark. Both men have only had relationships with women before, but when Mark helps Fig with her dad, they connect.

And as a M/M writer, I watched their relationship unfold through Fig’s eyes. She didn’t understand it the way I did, and when she found out by accident she was angry. But not because her father likes another man, but because he kept it a secret from her, and because when she told him her truth, he didn’t reciprocate. Valid reasons to be angry, if you ask me.

Also, the M/M reader in me screams for Tim and Mark’s story from a romance POV. Watching their relationship unfold through the eyes of the eleven-year-old protagonist was interesting and fabulous, but I want more. I want their points-of-view. Their backgrounds, their feelings, their deepening connection. Is that too much to ask?? 🙂

Anyway. Buy this book for any middle grader in your life. Or for anyone who loves books ,really. It kept me up all night reading it, and I sobbed for an hour straight, that’s how good it is! 🙂