Tugging at Your Heart Strings

Disney Wonder cruise ship sails under the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to the Port of San Francisco

As you may have learned in my previous post, I got Romance for a genre in the latest round of NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge, which is kind of my thing. Our assigned object was a map, our assigned location was a tugboat, and we had 48 hours to write a 1,000-word story; I was like, I got this, and I cranked out what follows. I was pretty happy with the way I worked the map into the story, but as I was snipping my first draft down to size (and rushing the ending), I realized that the tugboat was more “this thing that exists” than any kind of true “location,” so I went back to the drawing board. The second story was a smash (in my own mind — results for this round are a week or so away yet), but I kind of like these guys — if you’ve read my stuff, you know this isn’t my first redheaded Romeo — so I’m sharing their story just because, as the guy who wrote it for them, I feel like it’s kind of my job. Enjoy what my “Documents” file calls

Tugboat Romance A

“A tug?”

“Yes, Captain.”

“What do you mean, ‘they’re sending a tug?’ I’ve docked this beast in Mazatlan a hundred times. I was here last week.”

“Yes, Captain. I remember. Welcome back. Order of the Port Authority, I’m afraid. Please standby; the tug’s on its way.”

Annoying. Andreas wasn’t the Captain of the Cavalcade, but he was the Second Mate, which often seemed to be a euphemism for Jackass Who Steers the Boat Into Port When the Captain’s Too Drunk to Do It. They did keep calling him Captain; maybe that’s why they were sending the tug.

There was nothing for it but to wait. He was dying to drop anchor and get back to sulking in his room, but there was plenty of time for that. There was no question Keith was the man of his dreams. The question that did nag, of course, was, Then why did you sail away from him, you fool? Continue reading

Clark Parker Bums a Smoke

Playing Clark Parker’s best friend in the school play was one thing, but finding the nerve to socialize with him at the cast party is quite another. And he’s coming this way…

My latest entry in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is a 995-word romance. As a romance writer, I am of course much more familiar with the genre than I’ve ever been with, say, horror, which made this story harder to write than the first two in this competition because there was pressure for it to be perfect. But of course that pressure came mostly from myself, so I set it aside, imagined the Cutest Boy in School, and wrote the best Very Short Romance that I had in me this day. And threw in a little Music Man, just to be on the safe side.

musicman03

Our group was given Romance for a genre, a tugboat for a location, and a map for an object. I’m gunning for big points on creative use of prompts…  😉 Enjoy

Clark Parker Bums a Smoke

Where they got the idea to use a maritime motif for the playground, I’ll never know. We’re a hundred and eighty miles from the nearest navigable river, six hundred from the coast; hell, they even drain the pool for winter and half the spring. And it’s not like it’s a pirate ship or the Love Boat. No, the centerpiece of Agnes Schmidlap Park is about two-thirds of a wood-beam tugboat plying the gravel, two sun-baked old tires hanging off the side. You know, for authenticity. Some mayor who owned the meatpacking plant fifty years ago probably wanted kids to grow up thinking hard work was the ultimate fun. Help tug our town to success! Too bad they shut the plant down like ten years ago. God, I can’t wait to graduate and get out of here.

Six weeks to go. Meanwhile, tonight’s the “cast party” for The Music Man, which means a keg in the park and enough teenager tequila barf to float this tugboat. It was a fun show and all, but I’ve been playing Marcellus to Clark Parker’s Harold Hill since rehearsals started in February; if I have to spend five more minutes within arm’s length of his shimmery hair without running my fingers through it, I’m worried the effort’ll break my elbow. Here on the prow of the tug, I can at least lust after him from afar, without his goody two-shoes “concern” about me smoking.

Except now he’s walking over here. And he’s carrying two big red cups full of beer. Is one for me? Do I hide mine? Chug it? Marcellus had lines to bounce off Harold; I have fuck-all to say to Clark Parker.

“Hey.”

“Hey.” OK, that wasn’t so hard.

He offers me a cup. “You need a beer?”

Mine’s full. “Yeah. Thanks.”

I flick my butt into the night, hoping he won’t start up.

“Can I bum one?”

Look who’s full of surprises. “You don’t smoke.”

“I do all kinds of stuff.” Did Clark Parker just wink at me? That’s definitely worth a cigarette. Continue reading

Love Has Reasons: Now in Paperback!

Love_Has_Reasons_400x600As you know (or as the name “Mister Stewardess” will tell you), I work in a customer service-intensive job. The epic, childish fight over To Recline or Not To Recline even ascended to the level of national news last week — I certainly understand the impulse to haul off and smack somebody upside the head with a rolled up USA Today or a book. And if you are the type who goes around whacking people with reading material, I’ve got good news: now you can keep my latest novel close at hand for just such an occasion. Love Has Reasons is out in paperback, and you can get your very own copy at JMS Books or Amazon.

Ashok Rai is fit, charming, and dynamite in the sack; for Danny Hanrahan, falling in love with him is a piece of cake.  Embracing his alter-ego, celebrated drag diva Raima Reason, proves to be more of a challenge.  Danny divorced his wife for a reason, and it wasn’t so he could go out and find someone who takes even longer than she did to put on makeup. When Raima’s career looks set to take off, Danny has to decide if he’s along for the ride, or if a boyfriend who’s sometimes a girl is more than he can handle.

 

 

A Little Romance

The other night, prompted by something or other he’d seen on Facebook, my husband turns to me and asks, “What’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever done for you?”  Easy, I think, because obviously the most romantic thing he’s ever done for me will leap to the front of my memory and right out of my mouth.  An awkward silence ensues, followed by hemming and hawing, until eventually, and visibly disappointed, he says, “Well, whatever it was, it must not have been that romantic.”

popeyes biscuitsIn truth, our daily life is not exactly a series of Grand Romantic Gestures.  And your friend who acts like hers is?  She’s lying. But I find romance in the little things.  In the occasional springtime bouquet of irises he’ll bring me, which he knows are my favorite flower because they are purple.  In coming home from a trip to a candlelit apartment and a glass of wine.  Hell, I think it’s super romantic when he brings home Popeye’s without me asking him to and he gets my order exactly right; for a writer of gay romance, I’m not especially hard to wow. Continue reading

The Month Formerly Known as “November”

NaNo 2013 FB CoverNational Novel Writing Month is again upon us!  My most favoritest month of the year is only a week away.  Where once boring old November heralded little more than grocery store pyramids of canned pumpkin and the beginning of Holiday travel mayhem, since my introduction to NaNoWriMo it has been reborn as thirty coffee-soaked days of work shirking, writing like mad, and Art for Art’s Sake.  This year will see the production of my eighth NaNo masterpiece, so I sort of have my pacing down, and I take a lot of vacation from my airplane gig, so I have more time in my month than most people, but 50,000 words in 30 days is still a challenge.  An ambitious yet achievable goal which every November 3rd I know for a fact I will trounce, and every November 17th seems impossibly, sadistically unreachable.  The hilarious highs, the finger-paralyzing lows, the character whose name you keep changing — it’s all part of the process, and the need to push, pull, or drag a story across the 50K finish line before midnight on the 30th smashes the limits of my creativity like nothing I’ve tried before or since.  Because they’re 50,000 words of Awesome?  No.  In many cases, quite the contrary.  But they’re 50,000 words I didn’t have on October 31st.  They’re words I can render into beauty or comedy or bird cage liner, and they breathe life into characters whose stories no one else was going to tell — whether anyone else reads them or not.

I’m already in love with this year’s characters, who I hope will love each other; if nothing else, we’ll have a Vespa-riding grandma to fall back on.  My blurb on the NaNo website reads thusly:

Santa Fe attorney Danny Hanrahan is the King of the Easy and Obvious Choice, and falling for sexy Ashok Rai is a no-brainer. Embracing Ashok’s alter ego, drag diva Raima Reason, is more challenging; Danny divorced his wife for a reason, and it wasn’t so he could go out and find someone who takes even longer than she did to put on make-up. When Raima’s career looks set to take off, Danny has to decide if he’s along for the ride, or if a boyfriend who’s sometimes a girl is more than he can handle.

"Love has reasons which Reason cannot understand." - Blaise Pascal

“Love has reasons which Reason cannot understand.” – Blaise Pascal

 

This year I revisited a Year One trick of inspiration and designed a cover for my book.  I’ve put pictures of guys that look like my characters around my desk, and I’ve been watching drag shows with a more critical eye of late, figuring if I can’t get a book out of what my husband’s intro to the drag scene has brought into our lives in the last year, then I might as well skip it.  And in case I’m not geeked up enough the night before National Novel Writing Month starts, this year my latest novel, Crazy Like Fox, which itself began life in November, is celebrating its print release.  Watching a NaNo novel make good (such as I did last year when Kiss Me, Straight was released in November, too) is sure-fire inspiration to write to the finish, whatever the cost to logic and grammar, and it is my hope that this year’s novel will one day have a crack at the world, too.  But first I have to stay home from work, slip into my jammies, put Sheena Easton on Pandora, and write like no one is watching, because the one book you can be sure no one will ever read is the one you don’t get around to writing.

Want to write a novel of your very own?  You’ve even got a week to plan!  Sign up at nanowrimo.org 

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Crazy_Like_Fox_400x600Want a print copy of Crazy Like Fox?  Get it at JMS Books for the introductory price of $12.00 starting October 31st!