A Challenge? The Horror!

Since The Man from PigPerfect mysteriously turned up on her front porch, Janessa Chang-Showalter has had to shoot her dog, watch someone else shoot her hormone-crazed husband, and now she’s scared to death of the baby she’s being forced to deliver. She’s beginning to wonder if running off with Andrew to his Nebraska hometown was such a hot idea after all.

Scooby-doo-meddling-kids-1970

I love a good writing exercise.  Timed exercises; photo prompts; ones that use structure, like 100 words or haikus — I like the way they get things flowing, and I love to see the way a gang of writers can take the same prompt and take it in a hundred different directions.  So when a friend of mine told me about NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge, I was all in. There’s a time element (8 days, in Round One, to write a story from scratch), a word limit (2,500), and prompts relating to genre, subject, and character — a competition seemingly designed just for me!  I figured as long as I didn’t get Horror for my genre, I had this on lock.

The night before the Round One assignments were revealed, I actively fretted: I hope I don’t get Horror as my genre for the Short Story Challenge.  And the Universe, as is occasionally her wont, picked up on two key phrases — namely “Horror” and “the Short Story Challenge” — and lined ’em right up for me in the nick of time.  By fretting about it, I had more or less asked for it, and I sure did get it. 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

New Holiday Release: The Gift of the Gay Guy

Gift Gay Guy CoverIf you’ve read any of my stuff — or seen any pictures of my husband — you know that I’m a fan of the Fat Guy.  I’m also kind of a pushover for the cheesecake centerfold-type Hot Guy in a Santa Hat, so the idea of crafting a short Holiday romance was an easy sell to me.  Heck, you put a twink in a mall in December, get some rakishly handsome broke dude who can fill the suit without a pillow a holiday gig in a fake beard, now you’ve got fat, hot, a Santa hat, and a cultural mandate for one guy to sit on the other’s lap — this shit writes itself.

Try as I might, though — and some days we go wander around the Cherry Creek Shopping Center and “try” just for want of something better to do — I couldn’t find Romance in the Mall.  Not on Santa’s lap, not in the parking lot, not even at Hot Dog on a Stick.  The rented felt suit and cottonball beard just weren’t doing it for me; I found Sweaty, and Stinky, but darned if I could find Sexy in there anywhere — this is probably part of why I hate Halloween.  But I do love Christmas — in flattering light and a cozy sweater it’s hard not to feel romantic — and I discovered that if you put the fat guy and the twink together at, say, an airport hotel, which has beds in it, that “holiday spirit” shortly bubbles to the fore.

Mind you, the fat guy — we’ll call him “Derrick” — is reticent to celebrate Christmas with his Appearances Are Everything Mom for the first time since his partner’s death three years ago, and the twink — we’ll call him “Lee” — is really more of a sticky-fingered mistake than any kind of prospect; Derrick surprises nobody more than his damn self when he shows up at his Family Christmas with Lee by his side, and when his cop brother Chad recognizes Lee from Once Upon a Time, Derrick feels more like a heel than any kind of man in love.  While Lee reveals a soft side, Derrick’s convinced he’s a hardened criminal, and he can’t help but worry: what if the next thing Lee steals is Derrick’s heart?

Find out today!  The Gift of the Gay Guy is 20% off at JMS Books — just $3.19 for your Kindle or your e-reader app on your tablet or phone.  It’s short, it’s sexy, and it’s kinda fun — just like a Google Image search of “hot guys in Santa hats,” but without quite as many random kitties.

And if Derrick and Lee ignite a sexy holiday spark in you, fan it with the other JMS Books December releases:

The Firefighter in the Snow | Vivaldi in the Dark | Bad Secret Santa | Yule Be in my Heart

Nowhere to Hide | Holy Xavier | Christmas Deception | And We Will Live Happily

Thanks, JMS Books!

Thanks, JMS Books!

My Work in Progress in One Hundred Words

Lorelei Lee

Lorelei Lee

(Always avoid alliteration…)

One of my favorite writing exercises, albeit one from which I enjoy the occasional extended hiatus, is the 100 Word Story.  As you will not be surprised to learn, one of my challenges as a writer is shutting the hell up about this over here and that over there and getting down to the business of telling the dang story already.  Micro fiction is something of a trial for a writer like I (as Lorelei Lee might have said), but is a great opportunity to practice whittling down the noise and the fripperie into What I Am Trying To Say.  So the challenge, of course (besides not overusing words like “challenge”) is to tell your story, or your snippet, anyway, in 100 words exactly — not 101, not 99.  It is a widely celebrated, if arbitrarily selected, Micro Fiction genre, and one to which writers of no less an impressive stature than, for example, this one have devoted entire (if neglected) Tumblrs.

Something I’m celebrating today besides the 100 Word Story itself is the fact that I have actually sat and put fingers to keyboard, for the first time in a while, and started crafting something that can (finally!) lay claim to the title Work in Progress (as opposed to a Tedious Edit or an Idea That Just Sits There Going Nowhere While I Watch TV).  To date, the story has only come to me in broad strokes, and I’m not sure yet where it will end up, but I do know where it starts, and when my opening paragraph clocked in, quite by accident, at 100 words exactly, I felt compelled to share.

Give one a try.  I find boys super effective 100 Word prompts, and I can usually scrape together 100 words about food — there’s at least one on that dusty old Tumblr that’s inspired by both.  Remember to use your hyphens like a madman to manipulate your count, and heck, maybe check back here every once in a while in case I manage to wring out 100 more share-worthy words from time to time.

From today’s newborn, and as yet untitled, WIP:

The rickety lean-to club under the train tracks is drenched in the glittering raindrop refractions of blue spotlight off blue sequins.  The lyrics of September in the Rain, swinging with a nostalgia only Dinah Washington could imbue, nudge some to reach for the little umbrellas they imagine adorn their cocktails.  No one is disappointed, though, at the lack of fruity drinks or paper garnishes; it’s not actual rain, after all.  Cheap beer and plenty of it has made The Crossing famous, and the sticky tables-for-one overflow with empties-for-three; when you drink to forget, pineapple juice just gets in the way.

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A fan of short fiction?  Learn all about my next short release here, and make plans to buy it on March 10th!

New Release: Going for Gold

Today marks the release by MLR Press of EM Lynley’s Olympic-themed M/M anthology Going for Gold, which also means that my latest short story, “Hot Shots,” is at last available for consumption.  One of eight in the collection, “Hot Shots” is the story of Beau, a young Olympic hopeful who kinda sucks at sports, and Marcel, a dashing European shooting champion who undertakes to make an Olympian out of him.  Beau surprises them both by showing some real talent on the range, but his wandering eye could make it hard for him to hit the target when it’s Marcel’s heart.

Read a quick excerpt here, then buy the E-Book here!

(Also available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle.)

When I say that I had always yearned to be an Olympian, what I of course mean is that I am ass-over-teakettle nuts about jocks, and my life’s primary ambition has long been to fuck as many Olympic athletes as possible.  The first time I ever clapped eyes on Michael Phelps’ extraordinary body in nothing but a Speedo, I knew that world-class athletes were my sexual destiny, and I set my sights on the Olympics at an early age.  The shortest distance between two points being a straight line, I figured bunking up in a dorm full of them would provide me the easiest possible access to the Hottest Guys in the World. Continue reading