New Release: September’s Always Gorgeous

 

Septembers_Always_Gorgeous_400x600“Now that I think about it, you don’t see very many people doing this in November,” I say, rubbing my hands together. I take a sip of my hot chocolate and adjust my scarf.

“Whatever. It’s a gorgeous day.” Esau says. He looks perfectly comfortable in his T-shirt, even if he has muscled up a bit in the chest since it probably fit him just right.

He’s right: for November, it is a gorgeous day. Blue sky and sunshine, the leaves skittering across the sidewalk glittering gold and red. But the sunshine is thin, the blue sky is brittle. It’s a gorgeous day for a hike or a bike ride, anything that gets the blood flowing more than standing around pretending to know how to paint.

The botanic gardens are not at their most lush this time of year. Nothing’s green, nothing’s pink; nothing’s blooming or bursting, nothing’s full or fecund. But we both live close—me just a couple blocks to the east, him a mile or so south—and with my membership, we can rove the grounds anytime we want for nothing.

The painting was his idea. “You know how people do. We should set up easels, paint the flowers.”

“What flowers? It’s November.”

“Paint the koi, then. Branches? Come on, it’ll be fun. There’s beauty in every season.”

“Is that a crack about my age?”

“Oh phew, that was a close one. For a minute there I thought we were going to have to endure an entire conversation without obsessing over age. Nice save.”

“Sorry.”

“You’re not exactly November, babe, I hate to break it to you. Mid-September, maybe, and September’s always gorgeous.”

*

When Drew Schilling wakes up with a world-class hangover, he’s not especially proud of himself. He’s almost forty-five years old—really, by now he should know better. He certainly knows better than to bring home a hook-up like Esau Wallenberg. His friendly face, his super-hero physique—charming qualities that appeal to Drew, naturally. In a guy old enough to rent a car. This kid’s barely eighteen. Once they’re out of bed, Drew just wants to send Esau home and forget the whole mortifying incident.

But Esau thinks he’s in love. He’s even talking marriage, but what the heck do we know when we’re eighteen? The kid’s got his whole life ahead of him. And Drew’s got some life left ahead of him, too, thank you very much.

He just needs to figure out a way to undo a huge mistake so he doesn’t have to live it without Esau.

Part of JMS Books’ “Love Wins” series, September’s Always Gorgeous is out today. It’s even 20% off at JMS Books dot com.

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Thanks, JMS Books!

 

New Holiday Release: It’s Not Yule, It’s Me

Its_Not_Yule_Its_Me_400x600Shannon hates Christmas. Mostly because Christmas hates him. It sure seems like it, anyway: every crummy thing that’s happened to him since high school has befallen him at the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Every humiliating break-up, every high-rise hotel fire—heck, a few years back, one guy he had the hots for up and died. Which goes a long way toward explaining why he’s a whimpering mess when he meets Ben the barista one Christmas morning at his neighborhood coffee house. It doesn’t completely excuse his using Ben’s T-shirt as a handkerchief—while Ben’s still in it—but Ben’s nothing if not a good sport. Ben’s such a bright spot that after a while Shannon wonders if maybe his Christmas Curse hasn’t been lifted. And what better place to test this theory than at Ben’s family festivities? It’s not like Christmas is actually cursed.

Is it?

Find out in this year’s Very Special Holiday Episode, It’s Not Yule, It’s Me. Out today at Amazon, or save 20% off when you get yours direct from JMS Books this week.

For an exclusive excerpt, read on:

Continue reading

New Release: Long Haul (The Mile High Club: Book 2)

On the day the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, Tanner Bradac doesn’t even have a boyfriend, so you can imagine his surprise when he and his buddy Clark get carried away by the celebratory spirit of the day and wind up lawfully wedded husbands. The wedding may have been a light-hearted lark, but Tanner and Clark are willing to give marriage a go. After all, how hard can it be?

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And it’s no wonder we use the rainbow flag to signify this community, [Tanner] thought as he and Clark dipped into the flow with people of every stripe. Yuppie couples in khakis, hippie families in bare feet; young men in glittery tutus sporting fairy wings flittered around leather-jacket lesbians, hopeful faces of every age and nation laughing with friends, hugging strangers, and throwing confetti. Probably there were protesters, too—there was always somebody with an axe to grind when the pursuit of happiness was center stage—but Tanner didn’t see any. They certainly didn’t register. This was not a parade that was going to be called on account of any amount of rain, not today, and unless the One Man, One Woman crowd was going to start whacking people with their protest signs, notice would not be paid.”

The idea to give Tanner and Clark a not-so-gentle shove down the road to lawfully wedded what-have-we-done? came to me on the day the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Straight people have been legally leaping before they look at least since Nevada became a state, and I figure the Obergfell ruling leveled the playing field where rash relationship decisions are concerned. I knew I wanted this second book to focus on Tanner and Clark, but I also wanted to keep it around 20,000 words, and when I took my first crack at their story in April, they were still just friends by 19,500. I tried to sex-scene them into falling in love, and the ensuing night in a divey 50’s diner-themed hotel room was even kinda hot, but it felt tacked on—my loyal beta readers never agree on anything, but they all agreed on this. When SCOTUS handed Tanner and Clark the chance to get married, my problem was solved—at last, an opportunity to plunk them down in the middle of a relationship, whether they were in love or not.

I wrote this story before The Kentucky County Clerk Who Shall Not Be Named, lest it prolong her fifteen minutes, was the only person in the world Facebook seemed able to share posts about. This story’s not really about social acceptance of or opposition to same-sex marriage, but rather about how two young people try to tape the map together when the roads they’ve been traveling along merge without warning into one. And as the Kentucky debacle devolves into another Westboro photo op in the race—exceptionally competitive this year, or is it just me?—to be crowned the Most Appalling American of 2015, it occurs to me that that’s rather the point of this story, like so many queer romances before it: no matter how “firmly held” someone you’ve never heard of’s opposition to it may be, love barrels along. Some days it marches, head held high, other days it straggles resentfully; it clatters and clangs to the top of the really steep hills, then zooms along the straightaways, top down, scarf a-flutter. Love doesn’t even ask permission of the people it’s messing with—it can hardly be bothered to scoff in the general direction of any busybody third party with the temerity to think she gets a say. Let people be opposed; let people picket; let people (pointlessly, in this instance, as it’s been legal there for 10 years) move to Canada—Tanner and Clark will still have to figure their shit out. Marriage isn’t about what reactionary elements of society approve or disapprove, and neither is this story—it’s about two dudes jumping off a bridge just to see if love will catch them. Which may well make them seem crazier than a Kentucky county clerk, but hopefully more fun to read about.

haul-250Our friends at Eyes on Books have very helpfully organized a mini blog tour to herald this story’s release. For exclusive excerpts, author interviews, and your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card, tag along!

Long Haul is available today from JMS Books.

Thanks, JMS Books!

Thanks, JMS Books!

Of All Days to Seize

brush-your-teeth-1588915Well, so, hooray-ishly, it’s NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge time again. It’s my favorite writing contest because I love writing to a prompt, and because last year’s sixth-place finish netted me my cutest favorite satchel (in which I found a forgotten chocolate bar from Nicaragua just the other night — it’s the prize that keeps on giving!).

In the first of the three rounds, we get to combine scores from two stories, which can only be a good thing for me, as I’m not much of a suspense writer. Taken on the whole, romance is actually kind of the opposite of suspense — like what, they might not end up together? — but I’m not going to make excuses for this story. I wrote it, I fiddled with it, I abandoned it in favor of another idea, then came crawling back and submitted it. If only it was as suspenseful as the wait to see if it scores…

You get 48 hours to write a story of 1,000 words or less. My groups prompts were Genre: Suspense, Location: Dentist’s Office, Object: Blank Check. What happened with them (with 2 words to spare) is this:

Of All Days to Seize

Porsha knew every inch of the old Victorian. She’d been running Dr. Sanchez’s dental practice out of the high-ceilinged historic home for four years, and you couldn’t find a cheerier, more innocuous space. During the day. She’d never had occasion to tiptoe around it by herself in the dark until tonight, and suddenly every coatrack was a shadowy thin man waiting to catch her in the act. She was letting her imagination run away with her. She was not letting her guilty conscience run away with her, as Keith would have suggested. Mainly because she wasn’t doing anything all that terrible, but also because shut up, Keith—she’d be as glad to leave him behind as any of the rest of it.

It wasn’t like she’d planned this. She bought supplies for the staff kitchen at the Costco over by her house, she’d snatched up the smiley tooth material for the waiting room curtains from the craft store bargain bin; Dr. Sanchez reimbursed her by check all the time. She hadn’t purposely asked Dr. Sanchez to cut this particular check right as Mrs. Derani came bursting through the door clutching a cheek the size of a softball and moaning about the pain, the pain! Heck, Porsha had been home and on her second glass of chardonnay before she’d even remembered dropping the checkbook back into the drawer amidst all the hullaballoo, the signed, blank check with her name on it biding its time on top of the stack. Dr. Sanchez may as well have written Now’s your chance on the Memo line. Continue reading

New Release: Heat Wave: Colorado Springs

This year, authors at JMS Books took on the challenge of writing a series of stories set during a massive heat wave sweeping across the United States. This summer is shaping up to be a real scorcher, one of the hottest in history, and these stories really crank up the heat! As temperatures soar, tempers flare and libidos rise, and we’ve cooked up 18 sizzling tales of summer love. This steamy summer series launches today with three titles. Among them:

Heat_Wave_Colorado_Springs_400x600Just when barbecue boss Spencer Worthington is convinced nothing in the world could be hotter than Colorado Springs this summer, along comes Ethan, sizzling ribs with his dad at a rival booth. Just looking at him makes Spencer sweat, and when Ethan’s dad reveals himself to be a homophobic heckler, Spencer’s temper flares. Conflict erupts, and a passerby proposes a civilized solution: a reality TV cook-off — such as the one she happens to produce — to settle the score. May the best meat win.

Seeing an opportunity to win a big fat cash prize and big fat Ethan, Spencer signs on. But when his secret sauce goes missing at the height of the competition, all signs point to sabotage, and he neglects to look before he leaps to conclusions. Now the money and Ethan are both on the line, but how can Spencer keep his cool in this heat?

Read an excerpt and get your copy at JMS Books. It’s 30% off (along with my other JMS titles) during July as part of their Fifth Birthday Blowout. Festivities also include two chances to win this and other Heat Wave stories — visit their website for information about giveaways, then swing back by as part of the scavenger hunt!

Thanks, JMS Books!

Thanks, JMS Books!