9 Willow Street, His Steady Heart, Nell's WIP, Writing Update

Writing update

Hi everyone! Time for another update on what I’m doing with my life.

First of all, I finished and submitted my bunny shifter story, 9 Willow Street. I signed a contract, and it will be released sometime in July. I’ll give you more details as soon as I have them. But we can start with the blurb:

Heartbroken after the death of his beloved Nana, Hannes, the family outsider, finally allows himself to grieve. The legal battle over Nana’s quirky old house— the only place he’s ever felt accepted and loved—is over, and he moves in and finds a sense of peace.

…and a rabbit.

An adorable bunny with a huge personality moves in, too, and refuses to leave. Hannes instantly falls in love with the sweet animal who helps heal his heart. But one morning, Hannes’ view of the world changes when the rabbit transforms into a man. A man named Mattis.

After the initial shock, Hannes and Mattis discover a connection between them that runs deeper than it seems. Will their newfound feelings survive unraveling secrets and meddling families, and grow into something real? Something deep and everlasting?


My current WIP is an unnamed story for a JMS Books submission call, Autumn Love, where the main characters have to be 40 or older. My MCs are Oren Walker, a 47-year old workaholic without a family (except for his elderly mother) and Pete Higgins, a 48-year-old divorced bisexual guy with two college-aged kids. Pete is Oren’s mother’s neighbor and the story starts with Oren coming to say thank you to Pete after Oren’s mother fell and broke her femur, and Pete helped her.

I’m currently at about 6000 words and the deadline is May 31.


And then I have a treat for you:

I have the cover for my May 25 release, His Steady Heart. Wanna see? No pre-order yet, but I’ll post links as soon as I have them.

Isn’t it gorgeous?? 😍😍

hissteadyheart

Ashley Buchanan—Buck—moved back home to take care of his sick mother when he was 22. That was the first time he met Pippin, the neglected 6-year-old boy next door. Fifteen years later, Buck—a caretaker by nature—offers up his couch for Pippin, who needs a break from his mom and a quiet place to sleep.

Pippin Olander is a ray of sunshine despite his emotionally lacking upbringing and works hard to make a better life for himself. Even though he’s fiercely self-sufficient, he learns to accept help from Buck, his rock and only steady presence in his life.

Their friendship deepens and grows into something more as they spend more time together. But when other people try to throw a wrench in the works, when Pippin’s independence is triggered, can Buck and Pippin trust in the love they’ve found?

9 Willow Street, Nell's WIP

WIP teaser

Here’s a second (unedited) teaser from my current WIP, 9 Willow Street. (The first teaser is here.) It’s inspired by my naughty bunny shifter story (I told you about it here) and this is from the first chapter, when Hannes meets the bunny for the first time.

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When my suitcase is put away in the guest room, I return to the kitchen to take care of the food before it perishes.

…and is met by a surprise, a rabbit, in the middle of the kitchen.

I do a double take and come to a halt. “Hello there,” I say.

It stiffens at the sound of my voice and after a moment’s hesitation it hops away. But instead of heading for the back door, it ends up in the corner of the U-shape created by the counters and the breakfast bar, and the bunny is trapped.

With its side turned to me, it flattens itself on the floor, ears flat against the head, down the back.

Carefully, I lower myself to the floor and sit cross-legged at a safe distance.

“Where did you come from?” I keep my voice low so I won’t scare it. “Did you sneak in through the back door? Didn’t you want to stay in the garden and eat all my carrots instead, huh?”

Its nose wiggles furiously and it flattens itself even more to the floor. The rabbit is mainly white, with black ears, black around the eyes, and has black spots and larger areas down its back to the tail. The coat is shiny, and the bunny looks healthy and well fed.

“You’re a beautiful one, aren’t you?”

As carefully as I sat, I get back up on my feet and without taking my eyes off my new friend, I grab a small bowl, fill it with tap water and set it down on the floor. Then I retake my cross-legged position, making sure not to sit too close to the water bowl.

“Don’t be afraid. I know I probably look big and scary to someone as small as you, but I promise I’m nice. I won’t hurt you. And look!” I point at the bowl and then roll my eyes at myself for talking to it as though it can understand what I’m saying. But I don’t let that stop me.

“There’s water if you’re thirsty. And when you’re not as scared of me anymore, I can go back out into the garden and dig up a carrot for you. Would you like that?”

One of its long ear twitches.

“Aha, you liked that idea, didn’t you?”

 

9 Willow Street, Nell's WIP

WIP teaser

Today, I’m sharing an unedited teaser from my current WIP, 9 Willow Street. It’s a longer version of my naughty bunny shifter story (I told you about it here) and this is the first chapter, pretty much the beginning, except for a page or so before this that sets the scene.

Hannes (the narrator in this teaser) has inherited a house from his beloved great grandmother, Nana Ellen, who died unexpectedly at age 109. Because of family drama he didn’t get access to it until now, ten months later.

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Ten months ago, when my father called me and told me Nana was dead, I thought he lied to me at first. I spoke to her on her birthday, sad and heartbroken that I couldn’t come and see her, bake her a cake and give her a present. All the flights were canceled because of a terrible storm and I had no way of getting to her, but she wasn’t upset.

“Pish-posh my dearest Hannes. You’ll be here when you can, I know it. Just text me a picture of your lovely face and I’ll be happy,” she said.

So I did. I took a selfie with my hands shaped as a heart, and before I texted it to her, I wrote Nana and Hannes forever, on it. That’s what she always used to say every time I was upset over being misunderstood by my family.

She sent me back a picture of herself with her head tilted back and the back of her hand against her forehead in a dramatic fake swoon and the ever-present twinkle in her eyes clearly visible. I promptly set the picture as a background on my phone.

So is it really so weird I didn’t believe Father when he called me and told me she had passed?

“Are you sure?” I asked, thinking that it couldn’t be true, considering the last time she’d even had a common cold was fifteen years ago when she was ninety-four.

“I am a real doctor…unlike some people,” Father replied. “Obviously I know what I’m talking about.”

Great. Even when he called me with terrible news, he still found the time to mock my career choice and remind me of my status as the family outsider. The herbalist quack in a family of real doctors. My father is a surgeon and my mother an oncologist, and my three older sisters and brothers are all doctors, too. Then there’s me. The black sheep of the family. The heathen in a family of scientists.

When we hung up, I called Nana’s phone, only to be met by Father’s disdain.

“I knew you wouldn’t take my word for it, Hannes.” He sighed, that put-upon sound everyone in my family excel at. “I wish you would grow up sometime. Are you happy now?”

I hung up without saying goodbye.

Are you happy now?

What kind of thing is that to say to someone who’s just gotten the most dreadful news of his life?

Nana and Hannes forever.

Not anymore.

 

His Steady Heart, Nell's WIP

WIP teaser

Now that the second book in the collab project I write with Kris T. Bethke is submitted to our publisher, I’ve gone back to writing Buck and Pippin again. If you’re new to my blog and wonder who the heck are Buck and Pippin? click here to get some backstory.

Since I wrote about them four weeks ago, their story now has a title (His Steady Heart), I have a deadline (March 31), and the book has a tentative publishing date (sometime in May).

This snippet is still from chapter 1 of the WIP, but not directly following the first teaser.

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“You should get some sleep. I’ll go.”

“No.” I straighten and rub my eyes again. Then I make a quick decision, pull out a drawer where I keep the extra key for the house, grab it, and put it on the bar in front of him. “Stay until you need to go work.”

I’ve meant to give it to him for a long time but getting him to accept stuff is a struggle, even little things. His pride’s got pride, so just getting to a point where he accepts a hot drink without me having to twist his arm has been an uphill battle.

His fingers twitch as though he wants to reach out and take it, but he just keeps looking at it. I put my index finger on the key and nudge it closer to him.

“I…” He lays a fingertip on the metal and frown.

“Pippin.” I soften my voice. “I worry when you’re sittin’ out there freezin’ your butt off, strainin’ your eyes tryin’ to read in the dark.”

“I’m all right,” he whispers.

“I know you are.” He’s more than all right. I don’t understand how he grew up to be such a great person considering his childhood. “Do it for me?”

“Why?” He looks up at me with wrinkled eyebrows.

Because someone needs to look out for you when your ma is too busy screwing her latest sugar daddy to be able to afford to warm up the house this winter. Because you’re so darned strong, working two crappy jobs and saving up what little you can spare for college. Because you’re too good for this shitty situation life dealt you.

 

About Nell, Guestpost, Nell's WIP

WIP teaser and guest post

One of the new things here on the blog now that I’m trying to produce regular content, is a teaser from current WIP. I’ve mentioned it earlier here, and it’s the May/December project I’m teasing from. It’s still untitled and I haven’t written a lot more since I told you about it (I’m traveling and I’ve had to prioritize writing my chapters in the collab project I’m working on with Kris T. Bethke.)

If you need a reminder, the story is about two neighbors called Buck and Pippin. They’ve known each other since Pippin was six, but now that he’s all grown up, things are starting to happen. This is the (unedited) beginning of the story.

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I see him immediately as I turn my truck onto our street. Huddled up under a threadbare blanket, he’s curled into a ball at the top of the stairs leading up to the tiny, rundown house he shares with his mom. He has a paperback book open on his lap and he uses the flashlight on his cell phone so he can see to read since it’s still dark outside.

I frown and grip the steering wheel until my knuckles whiten. It’s too cold for him to sit there. It’s the second week of January, and even though we still haven’t gotten any snow—it was our first green Christmas in years—the temperature hovers in the low thirties. Even in the dim light, I can see him shiver.

With a huff, I park on my driveway, throw open the door, and step out. “Hey Pippin,” I holler, and his head shoots up. How he missed the rumble of my truck is a mystery, but he tends to shut out everything around him when he’s got his nose in a book.

His generous mouth stretches in a wide smile and he raises his hand in a wave.

“Get your butt over here,” I call.

He pulls the blanket tighter around his narrow shoulders. “I’m okay. You must be tired after your shift.”

I roll my eyes, not caring that he can’t see me. That guy! He doesn’t wanna be a bother but doesn’t realize that he never is. Not when I first moved back in with my ma to take care of her when she was sick—I was twenty-two and he was six the first time I found him on the stairs because his mother had a “gentleman caller” as Ma used to call them—and not now.

“Don’t make me come get ya, Pippin Olander. That’ll make me grumpy for sure.” I cross my arms over my chest and glare at him, but that only makes him laugh.

Imp.


Just one thing before I go: today, I’m a guest over at Joyfully Jay where I talk about Awakenings & French Songs. I’m giving you an insight into a writer’s life and share an excerpt from the story exclusive for Joyfully Jay. There’s also a giveaway.

If this sounds like fun, clickety-click here to read the post.