Me All New Again

When an author gets a new publisher, no matter how long they’ve been doing this, you feel all squeaky and new again. You pretty much start out at the beginning doing forms and getting added to loops and meeting new people. It’s like you’re a brand new author. The feeling of that first contract comes back to you. And yeah, you might grumble a little at all the hoops you have to jump through, but you don’t really mind it because that new contract feeling is pretty  much priceless and fills you with excitement.

So, um, yeah. Loose Id took my NFL novel. 😀

I’m really excited about it in a quiet kind of way. I wanted to jump up and down and squee and stuff, but that’s not exactly me. I’m more the Cheshire cat grin kind of person. The I’ve-got-a-cool-secret kind of person. But I am totally excited to be with this publisher. I have a lot of friends with them. And I’m hoping to expand my readership by being with this house.

I’ve got some revisions to do and I’m willing to compromise. All my editors know this about me. If I don’t like their suggested change I will make a case for a change of my own or for leaving it as it is. I’m no diva. I’m always reasonable, but I don’t let anyone bulldoze me either. I’m a good writer with a good reputation and while it’s okay to treat me like a brand new author in some ways (the paperwork, etc.) it’s not okay to treat me that way when it comes to my manuscripts. Not that they are. They’re really respectful of my creative process.

So all the nail biting is done. And the hardest work is about to begin. The book is slated for release September 18. And there’s lots to do before then. I’ll admit to being a tad nervous about my cover but not about the editing process. I think my book will be better for the hard work my editor will demand of me. I asked for this. I wanted this book there. And I’m so glad it is!

And now, a Marcus for this overcast (at least out here in the canyon) Monday morning!

Man, he walk my runway any day! 😉 Happy Monday!

Sweet and Sour

You all know that my old man is kinda…different. Witness the growling cows statement from an earlier blog post plus a host of other things I’ve probably talked about but can’t recall right off the top of my sleepless head at the moment. Well, I’ve decided he’s even weirder than I thought which is saying a lot because we’ve been together 14  years.

Here’s the deal. We have a couple of fruit trees in our yard. One seemed to me to obviously be a lemon tree. He pretty much concurs that it is. The other tree has these freakishly deadly thorns and what appears to be oranges on them. I’ve always been undecided on exactly what kind of fruit it bears. The leaves look like orange tree leaves. It’s definitely a citrus fruit. Some of the fruit is orangey but most is yellow and not even a dark yellow like the lemons but pale. Granted, most of the fruit on this tree hangs in the shade and doesn’t get sun.

Anyway, one day Rott decides to find out just what the hell those are all over that tree. He braves the rattlesnakes (okay it was only 1 and it was sort of young and totally non-aggressive) and picks a fruit. He peels it and eats it. When I get home, he tells me he ate one and it was sweet and juicy and definitely an orange. I’m not one to argue with him so I figured, okay, we have pale oranges. Go figure.

Then, my pal ZAM sends me a juicer. I buy a bunch of oranges at Sprouts and made orange juice that kicked ass so hard I’ve been drooling for weeks afterward. Since I’m allergic to citric acid if I ingest too much at one time, I lay off the citrus stuff in the juicer until this week. I send Nikki out to pick the “oranges.” There are no rattlesnakes this time but she’s dive bombed by some huge ass insect called a hawk something or something hawk. It’s part of the wasp family I think. Anyway, between the bag Nikki picked and the box Rott picked (he got tired of her whining about the hawk bug and finished her job) I had a lot of fruit to juice!

On Saturday, I had Nikki chill the “oranges” in the fridge then peel them. I go into the kitchen prepared to juice, she hands me a bowl of peeled citrus and the scent of GRAPEFRUIT assails my nose. I break a couple of them open. Uh huh. Grapefruit. Nikki immediately says we should test them because how could Rott mistake a grapefruit for an orange? By now, I’m just thinking Rott must have ate a lemon or something before he tested that grapefruit and found it SWEET. No way are the fruit in my bowl oranges.

I juice 4 of them. I sip from the cup. EEEWWW that’s sour and bitter! It’s definitely grapefruit!

Now, I have a huge glass of the stuff and I’m not gonna drink it. Nikki sips it and makes a face and ponders if it’s fixable as a drink if we add other fruit and sugar. I’m like, EW NO.

I go on to juice some real oranges that I had luckily purchased in the store, not being all that positive myself that those big yellow fruits were oranges. I add strawberries to the oranges. OMG. Super sweet. The strawberries were awesomely sweet. Full of potassium too which I appear to need in abundance. I filled my huge beer stein mug and drank it all down. Damn it was good after that mouthful of grapefruit juice. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice I froze…

Since it’s Monday, it’s time for a Marcus!

 

Wishing you all great Monday and a Happy 4th of July if you’re an American!

 

Blockbuster

At work, I earn movie tickets in the customer service program. Over the years, I’ve earned quite a few of them. When Nikki (Motley) was younger I always gave her the tickets because like most teens, her friends were always going to the movies. Rott and I rarely went to the movies so it was no loss giving her the tickets. In the last couple of years though, I haven’t given her the tickets and Rott and I acquired a little stash of them.  Did I already say that Rott and I don’t usually go to the movies? 😉 Well, not when we lived in the Santa Ana-Orange area. Apparently, now that we live in Brea, Rott wants to go to the movies.

A few weeks back we saw the Avengers, which I’d like to see again. And it’s definitely a DVD we’re going to have to buy. This weekend we saw Men in Black 3.  Oh, and last week we bought Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I wish we’d seen that one in the theater. They blow up a lot more stuff in it than they did in the first one.

Anyway, I juggled a lot of hats this weekend including the one where Rott and I went to the movies. I’m not sure where the idea sprang from but hell if I didn’t starting thinking that being a good multi-tasker is like being a good super hero or movie hero. When the bad guys are coming at you from a dozen different directions and you manage to fend them all off, it’s a lot like juggling a bunch of different things that need doing: send off cover mockup to one author, size and send final cover files to another author, do some website maintenance, update Facebook, send out a few tweets, answer a few emails, fill out a cover art form and send it in, look over edits, look for some cover images, start a new mockup, write a few paragraphs in my WIP because I had an idea, switch back to movie maker to add something I had an idea for there, back to email, then check my phone, back to Photoshop to finish an ad, send off the ad, post the ad graphic, send off an invoice, take a break to read a little and right back to the grind again.

Um, yeah. Super-hero sounds like a good title to me. I wouldn’t look very good in tights though. When I was younger sure, but not now. I might take the cape though or some of Ironman’s gadgets. Yeah, gadgets sounds good! Here’s a look at some of what I did this weekend:

Excerpt from Out of the Pocket:
Opening his eyes, Bryce saw that Joss’s expression had turned sad. He rubbed his thumb over Joss’s down turned lips. “When Evan broke his leg, I knew it was all over. I knew he’d go home to California and somehow he and Reed would end up together. I’m afraid I wasn’t very nice to him about it.” He shrugged. “I was scared of being alone again. Afraid to face the emptiness of my future. The façade I’d built to hide the fact that I was just going through the motions cracked wide open and the moment that woman asked about my true love, I lost it. Every emotion that had been held in deep freeze broke free and everything I’d felt the day you walked away from me came rushing back. And I broke all over again.”

He felt his tears spill over once more, unable to stem them, unable to stem the flood of emotions he’d held back for eight years. “The night you left me, I drove back to Atlanta and somewhere before dawn I found myself standing on a bridge in the middle of nowhere off I-75 wishing I had just driven out to the Port of Savannah and chucked myself off the Talmadge Bridge.”

Joss sucked in a breath, the sound sharp and harsh in the subdued quiet of the cabin. Bryce chuckled and the sound seemed rusty and self-deprecating even to his own ears. “Of course, I didn’t have the balls to do such a thing. I couldn’t do anything right except play football and after you left me, I couldn’t even do that right. Two concussions in the next five games all because I couldn’t concentrate. They told me to quit or I’d become a vegetable. Since I was already a zombie, emotionally numb and totally uncaring of my own welfare, I kept playing. Three more games and then Jackson’s hit. I was unconscious for more than a day. Even I couldn’t ignore the doctors when they told me quit or die.”

Hard arms tightened around him until his ribs ached in protest. “My God. How could you have kept playing after they told you to quit the first time?”

“I didn’t care.”

“Jesus Christ, Bryce! You could have died!”

The angry shock in Joss’s voice made Bryce sigh. “When my agent told the world I was quitting because of the concussions, when I came out that same week, I thought you would come back to me. I waited and waited but the phone never rang and you never showed up.” The pain of that horrible waiting time came back to him in an instant. He’d been so full of hope, only to have it crushed as days went by with no contact from Joss. He shivered, hunching his shoulders under the blanket.

“Shit.”

He stared into Joss’s remorseful face. “I thought that football meant more to you than I did. Your team was doing well, it would have hurt your career to be with a retired player who had just come out. Even as friends. Whatever hope I still had within me died. And I died right along with it.”

“Holy fuck.” Joss’s soft murmur held complete astonishment. “I didn’t know. When you retired, I was out on the west coast in rehab. I’d fucked up. I was drinking heavily. Not playing well. I got myself arrested, benched, suspended and sent to Betty Ford. They pulled a major intervention on me. I’m surprised you never saw any of that on ESPN or in the papers.”

“I couldn’t bear to look at either.” Bryce wondered how different things would have turned out had he know what had happened to Joss.

Yes, it was a busy weekend but my super hero self managed it all and I didn’t exhaust myself either. Of course, that could be because I’ve been drinking freshly juiced oranges from my yard thanks to Z.A. Maxfield who was kind enough and awesome enough to send me a juicer as a gift. It’s kinda weird to walk out to the tree, pick 4 oranges, peel them, stuff them into the juicer and have orange juice. Weird. But really, really good.

Now, it’s time for a Marcus and then off to work!

He looks like he could be a super hero. No matter what they put him in, he looks good! LOL

Happy Monday everyone!

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!