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!

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But Then How Will We Know We’ve Arrived?

In general, I think the comings and goings boards in airports and train stations invite reverie, be it wistful (“Ah, Paris…”), wishful (“Someday, Bombay…”), or wondering (“Where the hell is Show Low?”). But I gotta hand it to whoever programs the Departures monitors at the Miami International Airport for this bit of handiwork.

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Who boards a flight when the airline doesn’t know where it’s going? What does that person pack? How into their long and engrossing book do they let themselves get? Should we be concerned that a flight to “Unknown” is departing from an airport whose three-letter IATA code is M.I.A.?

Who works such a flight? Does the crew know where they’re going? Surely the pilot, at least? If they don’t know where they’re going, how do they pace their service?

Who walks up to the Departures monitor looking for this flight? ” I just want to see if Auntie McGee got off on time.” “Where was she going?” “I don’t know.” “OK, let’s look under ‘Unknown’… There it is!”

And still it managed to depart late. You don’t know where you’re going, but you know you’re late leaving to get there? Who are you, Eeyore? You probably  also assume it’s going to be raining when you arrive and all the good-looking men will be married or straight. You might wanna read up on Positive Mental Attitude before you plan your next mystery vacation.

We were looking for our own departure gate when my flying partner brought this to my attention, and my imagination instantly bounced out in a thousand directions at once. The incompetence! The hilarity! The What the Hell?! So much of the magic has been sucked out of travel for me these days. For most of History, the Journey has been as big an adventure as the Destination itself. And flying certainly used to be, but now it’s a blaring, billboard-saturated, TSA-monitored hassle. Most days. Every once in a while — and it helps if you’re in an airport with good cuban coffee — I’m reminded that the main reason I was drawn to travel was to explore. This day I eventually winged off to Houston, or Chicago, or another who-remembers-where that I’ve been to a million times, but my wheels had been set a-turn. Yeah, I’ve ben to hundred of cities in dozens of countries, but it’s still true: an immeasurable majority of the world’s art, food, architecture, waterfalls, smells, and smiles — not to mention the entirety of Show Low, Arizona — are yet Unknown. If you’re gonna bother to put your camera, your notebook, and a clean pair of underwear in a bag and set out, what better place to go?

City Code Snapshot: YVR

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If this all sounds familiar, it’s hopefully because you remember this post from last year, and not because all my posts about flying sound the same (although I suppose that would be its own commentary on the nature of the gig these days…).  I’m reposting this Rhapsody in Blue and Green about my favoritest of all airports for the benefit of those among you who may wonder why (or, for that matter, how) I set my upcoming erotic romance almost entirely on Vancouver International Airport property.  You Again? is a short, sexy love story about When Henry Met Zack that gets kinda hot kinda right away.  Sure, to the casual reader, it’s about sex, it’s about expectations, and it’s about beauty and the eye of the beholder.  But if it’s True Romance you’re looking for, remember: Greater love hath no man than a flight attendant for his favorite airport. 

YVR totemWhen last I featured a City Code Snapshot, it was of our isolated airport layover in Houston.  I am a frequent and vocal critic of — OK, whiner about — lengthy airport layovers and their high boredom factor, as you will by now have noticed.  Thus I feel like there is a certain amount of poetic justice in the fact that my very favorite of all airport layovers — the one for which I single-mindedly bid to the exclusion of any other factor, and for which I shamelessly whore myself on the trade board — is in one of the most glittering and glamorous cities in North America.

I don’t care if I never see downtown Vancouver on a layover again, as long as we continue to luxuriate in these posh airport digs, and from me that’s pretty big talk.  The five-star hotel is not just attached to the airport, but is perched feet from the USA Departures terminal, and the view from the relaxation chamber that other hotels might try to pass off as a mere “room” is very often of the airplane that has delivered you there.  But not to worry: if this reminder of your fast-approaching a.m. departure threatens to foul your mood, the blinds are easily closed, noiselessly and automatically, at the push of a button beside your comfy bed.  Continue reading

You Go, Grandma

wheres the beefI had two pretty boring grandmas.  As far as I know, anyway; it’s not like I ever made much of an effort to get to know them as anything other than a great fan of the bargain basement and the Lawrence Welk Show (my dad’s mom) and the chain-smokingest, best meatball maker ever to come out of Potter, Nebraska (my mom’s). They both lived through the Depression and watched their husbands march off to war and raised reasonably well-adjusted families (we’ll say, for the sake of keeping this post moving…); my dad has four brothers and four sisters — maybe that was quite enough excitement for my Grandma Mil.

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But, try as we might, we never unearthed much in the way of a secret past for either one of them.  Mil wasn’t a riveter or a welder or a test pilot during World War II; Edie didn’t spy on Hitler or seduce Picasso or play professional baseball.  They were housewives in sensible shoes (Edie did sport the occasional spectator pump in her day, but Mil was Keds all the way) who cracked the very occasional joke and day-to-day did the best they could, and who wants to watch a movie about that? Continue reading

“Happy Holidays”

flying santaThis is re-posted from last year.  Not to be boring, but I find that the topic will keep cropping up…

I bought my Christmas tie at Hong Kong’s Stanley Market ages ago for like two dollars, and have worn it to work (in strict accordance with my company’s uniform guidelines, I might add, cuz that’s how I roll) for the whole month of December pretty much ever since. We celebrate Christmas, but I am not a Christian, and my tie, as befits a Christmas tie from China, is very generic; no Jesus, no Santa, just a bunch of snowmen and gold star-topped trees. Mostly I wear a holiday tie because it is my one and only opportunity to vary the uniform that I wear every day. The very same uniform, come to that, that, at my broke-ass company, I’ve been wearing for my entire career. Lots of pilots wear them, too, and it’s fun, for two or three weeks, to start pre-flight briefings with a compliment, even one as bland as “Nice tie.”

When a passenger tells me, “Nice tie,” I used to say “Thank you. Merry Christmas,” figuring that if you were going to take the time to comment on my Christmas tie, then you were probably someone who celebrates Christmas, too. But lately, the Nice Ties have been delivered more and more with a certain sly tone that implies a knowing wink, and I have dropped the M.C., sticking with a bland and pleasant “Thank you.” While I hope the tie is able to impart a small amount of General Cheer on flights at a time of year when travel can be high-stress and hassle-full, I do not wish to be implicated in anyone’s personal, FOX-fueled war on the phrase Happy Holidays. Continue reading