A Mind of Its Own

I’ve decided that my brain has a mind of its own. No matter what I need to do when it comes to writing, my brain has its own ideas about that. I have two manuscripts I need to finish, one a novella length of about 25K and the other a novel length or at least a longer novella of at least 40K. My brain has decided it doesn’t want to help me out with these two stories. My brain has come up with a new idea and it’s digging in its heels and pushing me to write the new idea.

The new idea is a sequel to my NFL novel. The novel that isn’t even sold yet. The novel that has me biting my nails and planning what to do if the publisher doesn’t want it. Why the HELL would I want to write a sequel to something I haven’t even sold? Tell me why, Brain!

My brain doesn’t have an answer why. It just wants to write this story, tentatively titled Out of the Pocket. It wants to write it so badly that if I work on the story, my fingers fly on the keyboard and ideas rush from my brain to those fingers and onto the page. It’s already 6K words.  It requires me to bug my friend Jen for info because the heroes play college football in Indiana (one for Purdue and one for IU.) It requires me to take a secondary character from Scrambling (the NFL novel) and show WHY he’s a slick, sophisticated, cheesy phony.

The answer to why he’s a phony in Scrambling is, of course, simple. He is broken. And therein lies the story.

So in this NFL story I have two heroes who meet as rivals. They meet on the football field as one of them tackles the other one. Repeatedly. And then they meet after hours on a practice field in the dark by accident and sparks fly. The sparks lead to a furtive encounter that not only changes their lives in the moment, but changes their dreams for the future. I follow them from that first encounter in college through their years in the NFL.

And then there is the moment where the quarterback breaks. Something happens between him and the defensive end that causes them to split after years of hiding their relationship. The quarterback’s heart breaks. His spirit is broken. He is numb inside and he makes a wrong move on the field that leads to a career ending injury. He thinks that his lover will come for him then, because he’s no longer an active player and is probably going to have to retire. But he doesn’t come.

So the quarterback retires and faced with a bleak life alone, his heart broken, his soul numb, he reinvents himself so he can survive. He becomes the poster child for retired gay NFL players. He’s a media darling making tons of money with his investments and always in the public eye as a successful motivational speaker. He has a relationship with one of the heroes from Scrambling. But when that man finds his HEA, leaving our broken ex-quarterback to face the reality of his lonely existence…he breaks again. Publicly during a live TV interview. He walks out and drives half the day to the place where the love of his life walked away from him and he falls apart. Luckily, the other hero, who has also since retired, sees the interview and knows what’s happened. He drives several hours and arrives after our broken hero…to finally pick up the pieces and make everything right.

The story won’t let me go. At all. I can’t stop writing it. So I guess I’m going to have to give in to my brain and just keep going on Out of the Pocket. Hopefully, Scrambling gets a home soon so I know Pocket will probably have one too.

Now, it’s time for a Marcus! I’ve never been a fan of the tighty whitey but on him, they look good!

Wishing you all a wonderful Monday!

Growling Cows

I can’t believe that in the Memorial Day madness of having to go to work, I forgot to post last Monday. Yeesh. I’m a dork. But yeah, I do work on Memorial Day. I have for the last 13 years because my company puts on a big Memorial Day event. I ate something my stomach didn’t agree with at the event (been having health issues related to my stomach lately) and spent the next two days in bed in agony. Meh. I’m better now and staying away from a lot of foods I used to eat.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering about the odd title of my post. Rott came in the house the other night and said the cows were growling. Well, I grew up across the street from a dairy. I’d never heard a cow growl before. Here in the canyon, the cows come up to our fence, thrust their heads over and munch our plants and grass. I often hear them mooing and lowing. I think the growling Rott refers to is lowing. However, to his city boy eyes the cows look mean and they sound like they are growling.

I realized it’s all perception.

Perception has been the thorn in my side this week. Luckily, not a bad thorn. More a resigned eyerolling type of thorn. And no, it’s not the growling cows that pricked me. It’s Goodreads reviews or maybe it’s just reviews in general and it’s just the Goodreads ones that stuck their thorny selves into my hide.

Here’s the deal: I wrote a FREE story for the M/M Goodreads group. Someone decided to attach the stories to the author profiles so people could click on them and review them. There are two reviews on my story where the readers obviously have very different perceptions of my story than I have. They didn’t trash the story, but their comments were slightly sarcastic and showed that they weren’t happy with how I wrote the story. Mostly, they weren’t happy with it because they just didn’t see things the way I see things.

Let me break it down for you a little. First, they complained about the realism of my story because one hero doesn’t realize the other hero is the son of famous parents. Their take on this was that in the age of the internet, Daren should have known who Taylor really was. My take on this is that I don’t fucking know what KK Downing of Judas Priest’s son looks like. A lot of famous people have kids whose faces aren’t known to the public and whom you might not find if you Google them. And my character doesn’t have a reason to Google the man he’s in love with. Not everyone is into Googling the people they know. And this is a family where the famous father doesn’t want his kids in the limelight, doesn’t want them in the music business and wants him to be an attorney! A father like that isn’t going to let the press take photos of his kids. And that is exactly who my character’s father is.

Next item, the reviewers complained about how callous Daren was with his fuck buddy Wes. Well, for one, have you ever seen how unsentimental men can be about a fuck? I mean, even straight guys can be that way. I said straight up that Wes was with Daren solely as a fuck buddy. Daren wasn’t using Wes without Wes’s consent. Wes puts himself out there as a fuck buddy. I clearly said so when I said Wes flitted from man to man like a butterfly in a garden. Daren at least likes Wes as a friend. Yes, he was using him for the occasional blow job without much reciprocity, but that’s how Wes arranged the relationship. It wasn’t Daren doing something that was hurtful to Wes.

You know, a man read this story before I turned it in. A GAY MAN read the story. He didn’t see anything wrong in the way I portrayed the men and their motivations. In fact, he reminded me that men don’t use as many words as women when they talk about themselves and their relationships. He reminded me that men aren’t always as sentimental as women and can compartmentalize sex. We also had a discussion about a certain set of female readers who expect all gay romances to be as flowery and emotion baring as het romances when in reality a lot of men – including gay ones – just don’t talk like that or explain themselves that way. So whose perception of reality is actually skewed here?

The third item that they didn’t like was how Daren and Taylor react when they finally reveal they’re in love with each other. After five years, they felt the two men should be swooning over each other. In the story Daren pinches himself hard to make sure he’s not dreaming, but overall, both men are relieved everything’s going to be okay. They’re eager to get to bed. They aren’t into a long discussion of feelings right then. You love me? Great, I love you too. Can we fuck now and talk later cause I’ve had a boner for you for five years?

It’s a humorous scene which is how I intended it. So in this instance, there is a little literary license taken because the scene is meant to be funny not all that reality based. But again, a GAY MAN read this and didn’t find it to be out of the ordinary at all. Men downplay their emotions a lot and use humor to cover. So once again, the two readers have a different perception of reality than me and my gay male beta reader (who is an author as well.)

So I guess they heard growling cows. Meh. It happens. What can you do? 😉

How about a Marcus so I can get myself off to work?

Such a fun photo! Well, that’s my perception anyway. LOL Have a great Monday!

 

Hurts

The stuff a person does in order to write a book can be pretty varied. Lately, all I do is read up on the NFL. Except when I’m reading up about player injuries in the NFL and then the specifics of how doctors deal with those injuries. When you start reading up on this stuff it becomes clear why these guys are paid so much money. The injuries they can sustain aren’t scraped knees and elbows.

In Scrambling, my quarterback is running with the ball because his receivers are under heavy coverage. He’s tackled from behind which causes his head to jerk forward then back as he’s on this way to the ground. And because of his forward momentum, he hits the ground pretty hard, knocking the breath from him for a few seconds. He has pain in his neck and, of course, they collar him to keep him immobile until they can discover the extent of his injury. He ends up with what is relatively a minor injury on the big scale of vertebrae injuries, a compression fracture of the C6 vertebrae which requires about 7-8 weeks of wearing a cervical collar. However, it leaves him with a decision to make about whether or not to continue playing. Another hit like that and the next fracture could be much worse.  Much worse means damage to the spinal cord which could lead to paralysis and in some cases death.

Cervical fractures aren’t like breaking a leg. Those bones protect the spinal cord so any sort of injury to the vertebrae is a possible injury to the spinal cord. And trust me, you do not want to injure your spinal cord. Injuries to the C1 and C2 vertebrae are a very, very bad thing. They are the two that connect your head to the rest of you. And the other 5 vertebrae in the cervical area (the neck area) are all pretty important too.

There’s a chart I saw that shows the sections of vertebrae in the spine and what they are called and what numbers of vertebrae are in that section (ie the C numbers.) Also on that chart was a very scary thing. It showed at which place on your spine damage to the spinal cord would cause you to be a paraplegic, quadraplegic, where damage would affect your heart and other organs and where damage would cause you to stop breathing and possibly die.

Very scary stuff. Yet football players risk this continually. Makes you wonder if all that money they get is even worth it really.  The top ten most horrendous injuries in football included Joe Theisman breaking his leg from a hit by Lawrence Taylor. I saw this live on TV. To this day, thinking of it makes me want to puke. It was awful to see. Other top injuries included Mike Utley of the Lions who was paralyzed and Stone Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs who died on the field from a neck injury. There’s a lot of these out there on lists with gruesome video attached. Tough to watch unless you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not.

People can say players get paid the big bucks to risk their bodies and lives, but I don’t think you can put a price on being able to walk or be alive. It is their choice to play but man, this is a rough sport.

Now, how about a Marcus to make Monday better?

Oh, now that’s really nice. Very elegant and excellent for this sunny Monday morning! Have a good one!

 

 

Pride and Fear

I’ve been diligently working on Scrambling, my NFL romance but I took a break late last night to sit in the living room with the old man where it was cooler. He was puttering around, the 40 Year Old Virgin was on some channel with too many commercials and I was reading a book on my phone. In the book, one of the heroes denies himself and the other hero of a happily ever after because he’s got some weird ideas about relationships and love. His pride is mostly what stands in the way of his happiness. And even though he knows he hurts his lover by leaving him all the time, he feels the other man could do better than him so he won’t stay. He’s ravaged his lover’s heart and he knows it, all because of his own stubborn pride.

In Scrambling, my two heroes don’t suffer from pride issues. What they suffer from is fear. Their fears are deeply embedded, something they’ve both lived with since their teens. And mostly, they are childish fears. After all, they first arose when the guys are in their middle teens. Kids that age have a ton of irrational fears. These guys carry the fears into adulthood which puts a whole new layer of fear onto the original fear.

See, in their teens, they are afraid to come out to each other for simple reasons. They don’t want to lose their friendship. Well, kids are weird and even though these guys have been friends since they were six, coming out can be a real unknown. Kids can be cruel. Someone you’ve known your whole life might not understand. So their initial fear at 15/16 is understandable.

However, when they go off to college for their freshman year they come out to each other. Unfortunately, that’s only half the confession. They’ve both been secretly crushing on each other for the last couple of years. Neither can say it though because of fear. One’s just been rejected by his parents for being gay. He doesn’t want to tell his best friend he loves him because he’s overly sensitive about being rejected. He’s afraid. The other one thinks his friend is involved with someone so he’s afraid his confession of love wouldn’t be welcome.

Over the years, these initial layers of fear have other fears dumped onto them so what happens is that they are almost thirty before the truth comes out. And what’s sad for them (but good for the book’s level of angst) is that they have plenty of opportunities to tell the truth. Sometimes other people advise them not to. Sometimes they just err in judgment. Other times, the fear just overwhelms them.

They even sleep together once and one of them says “I love you” but the other one misunderstands. In fact, the difference between “I love you” and “I’m in love with you” is one of the things that comes between them. They’ve spent years saying “I love you” to one another because they are best friends. When one of them says it (after the big sex scene) and means it on a whole other level, the other one doesn’t get it. It’s not until he’s the one blurting it out while under the influence of morphine in the hospital that everything becomes clear to them both.

“I love you,” Evan blurted out, the morphine and the pain making him feel like he was floating in a world where the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth should ever be spoken between him and Reed. He hurt like hell and half the pain was because he needed Reed and Reed wasn’t there. Except he was. On the phone. The lifeline of his voice in Evan’s ear making everything better.

“I know you do.”

Reed’s voice held warmth, caring and relief. Evan figured Reed had panicked when he’d seen the late hit and knew Evan had to have broken his leg. He would have been frantic to reach Evan by phone since he couldn’t just drive to the hospital from clear across the country. He also figured Reed didn’t know what he meant when he said he loved him.

Irritation washed over Evan. How many fucking years had he said the words without Reed knowing the truth? “No, you don’t know. I’m in love with you.”

Silence met Evan’s ears. And then he heard a muffled sound. A sound that could easily have been a sob.

“How long? How long have you been in love with me?” Reed’s voice was hoarse, tinged heavily with tears and emotion.

Evan couldn’t hold anything back now that the morphine, the broken leg and too many years away from Reed had made him confess the truth of his heart. “Forever. Since I knew what romantic love was.”

The sob came again, but this time it wasn’t muffled. And the voice that spoke the words Evan had longed to hear from the moment he’d left California had the distinctive tones of begging.

“Come home, Evan. Please come home.”

So you see, pride and fear are two of the most commonly used emotions when authors want to keep their characters apart. The reason they are used so much is because we humans cloak ourselves in these emotions to protect our hearts, even when our hearts don’t need protecting.  And now you know how and why writers use emotion to fuel their manuscripts. 😉

How about a luscious Marcus to round out this Monday and make it feel just a bit less like a Monday always feels?

I wish he was on Twitter. I mean I follow Dave Navarro, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Ian Somerhalder. I just need Marcus to round out the famous hotties I follow. Heh. Happy Monday ya all!

No Romance in the NFL

No romance in the NFL? No, there isn’t really. I had to make it up. You see, there aren’t any out players in the NFL. Actually, I don’t think there are any out players in the NBA, the NHL or in MLB. I want to say WTF except for the fact that it gives me an opportunity to write something I think is pretty cool…a story about the first two out NFL players.

I kept the idea under wraps for quite awhile. Only my pal ZAM knew what I was plotting. Eventually, I enlisted the aid of a co-worker to help me out with some football info. He and I discussed expansion teams and what one would be called if LA ever got one. Michael has been a huge help even though he thinks it will be a long time before an active player in the NFL does come out. I think it will happen sooner than Michael thinks.

Other than ZAM, I had my other reader all set up. Fellow author William Neale was excited to read this story for me. He knew football and he loved the premise of the story. Unfortunately, Bill died recently and I was bereft at losing a friend. Now, I’ve got other readers in place including Marty Mankins who is a brave het soul for reading a gay romance. It’s a testament to his masculinity that reading this book does not faze him  in the least. GO MARTY!

Anyway, the publisher I wanted for this book has requested the full manuscript and I’ve been working on it diligently to get it finished by the deadline, June 1. I’m just over a third of the way through this and it seems epic to me because it spans these two players’ lives from age sixteen to thirty. Of course, the bits when they were younger are like vignettes. That section of the book has each chapter showing the reader a significant scene in their lives that has to do with football, being gay and their relationship with each other. The middle section of the book takes place a few years before the present day and its focus is on a milestone event in the two mens’ lives. The player who has been in a relationship since college finds out that his partner has been cheating on him and is HIV+. The partner has a family history of illness and dying young so, of course, it takes no time at all, despite modern day medicine, for the man to end up with full blown AIDS. And he dies.

That is the turning point in the book. Both of my players face their mortality, the possibility of having their careers in the NFL cut short and choices about love and friendship. I keep them apart romantically until the last half of the book, but I do get into key issues like the way the media treats them and the things they have to do in order to keep positive press flowing, how other players treat them, how injury affects them, and what you do when you are forced by injury to retire from a game that’s been your whole life since you were six years old.

It’s a deeper book than anything else I’ve written because usually, I focus on a relationship between two people and what they have to overcome to be together. This book isn’t just about the relationship between my two players (who actually do get a Happily Ever After with each other) but about how their relationships with others and with football affects their friendship and their love for each other. I don’t usually get into external forces much in my books but this time I do. It’s an emotional story, funny one moment and heartwrenching the next. I’m really proud of it thus far and I really hope the publisher likes it because I seriously want this house to publish it.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to, putting romance – and gay romance at that – into the NFL. HEH. And now, here’s this Monday’s Marcus!

That’s such a pretty one! Oh, yum! Have a great Monday everyone!