Keep Reading in 2017

I had this big plan to write a blog post about new books for the New Year, but then somehow I missed January. It’s like the election happened in November and the next thing I knew it was February. I won’t even go into a rant about how invasive current events are to the creative process. There’s a lot of noise out there, and rightly so. This is the time when we should all be paying attention and making our voices heard. But that’s not really what this post is about. I’m going to take a moment, take a breather, and just talk about books.

January and February have been busy months for me in terms of newly released books with Bold Strokes Books. I thought I’d take a minute to highlight each in case you missed them.

The last two installments in the Nash Wiley series came out in January and February. They were part of a series of four short stories about Nash’s adventures in dating while trying to win the heart of her true love, Anna.

smothered-and-coveredSmothered and Covered
The Adventures of Nash Wiley, Story 3

The last person Nash Wiley expects to bump into over a two a.m. breakfast at Waffle House is her college crush, decked out in a curve-hugging law enforcement uniform. Nash can’t believe her luck when Ms. Crush asks to join her, explaining that she’s just getting off shift. But something seems a little off. It could be the glitter in her eye shadow, or the black lace bra peeking from her barely buttoned uniform shirt, or maybe the exotic dancers who stroll in from the local gentleman’s club and crash their private reunion. Nash isn’t sure she’s still hungry until the waitress takes her order. “How you want those hashbrowns, hon?” Ms. Crush pins Nash with a sultry gaze and answers for her. “Mmm. I’ve heard she likes hers smothered and covered.”

privacy-glassPrivacy Glass
The Adventures of Nash Wiley, Story 4

As Nash Wiley entered the elegant Savannah Victorian and scanned the room she had one thought: This is one gay wedding that could really get out of hand. Only a lesbian would think it was a good idea to ask her long time ex to be maid of honor and then let Ms. Ex offer up a toast after drinking way too much white wine. But the evening turns even more surreal when Nash commandeers a stretch limo and her best friend for a late night drive out to the beach, and friendship turns into something more. Champagne on ice, seat belts optional and privacy glass a must.

The next February release, which is now available everywhere books are sold, is an adventure romance titled Birthright. This is a story I’ve wanted to write for a long time and I’m very excited to finally get to share it with readers. It’s the story of one hero’s journey to self-discovery and the love she finds when she arrives there.

birthright-6Birthright

When her spies bring news that a swordswoman imprisoned in a neighboring kingdom bears the Royal mark, Princess Kathryn sets out to rescue Aiden, the woman she’s sure is the true heir to the Belstaff throne and the solution to a tyrant’s campaign to overrun her small queendom of Olmstead.

That solution, however, is more of a problem. Too footloose for responsibility and distrustful of Kathryn’s selfless moral code, Aiden is a resistant heir. Her only interests are freedom and adventure. Despite their differences, Kathryn and Aiden discover common ground and a growing attraction as they set out on their mission to defeat the ruthless rogue ruler of Belstaff.

The true test lies ahead, when they find they must free their hearts to finally liberate their queendoms.

I hope you enjoy these stories! Thank you for reading.

Hootenanny 2016 – Day 11

A copy of Valley of Fire is up for grabs. Happy holidays!

Women and Words

Day 11.jpg

My friends, welcome to day 11 of the 2016 Hootenanny, in which we pretty much pulled out a bunch of stops and flooded your world with as many books as we possibly could (and tried not to lose our minds in the process…we’re not sure that didn’t happen yet, so check back later).

I’ll be honest. This place is a wreck. LOL. The furniture is covered with tinsel, reindeer, elves, pizza boxes, eggnog cartons…omg. But it’s okay, because nobody really sleeps during the Hootenanny, so what’s the point of trying to lie down? The elves have busted out the Twister game again and that’s been going on for a while. The neighbors came by with more eggnog (that’s so nice) and a bucket of fried chicken. That, too, is a nice change but omg we’re sure it’s not doing us any good in terms of healthy livin’. But hey, it’s…

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A Time for Vigilance

writing

Now, more than ever, is the time to show our love for one another, to stand up for common decency wherever we go and to create stories that celebrate our diversity.

Probably anyone who’s reading this blog post is still feeling wounded and in shock two days after the election. I live in California. I’m surrounded by people in shock. We can commiserate together. But I grew up in the Deep South, so I know the same support isn’t there for everyone. Those of us in safe zones have to reach out to those who aren’t. Those of us in safe zones have to speak out for those who can’t.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

I spoke to a family member in Mississippi yesterday who voted for Trump. He assured me that everyone who voted for Trump isn’t racist, that their vote was simply about economics and voting for an outsider. My reply was simple. If Trump isn’t racist then he should stop saying racist things.

I’m working on a memoir project that has required me to have some in-depth conversations with my father about racial bullying that happened in Alabama, in the 1970s when I was growing up. I asked him how a parent explains racism to a kid. I thought he’d have some wise answer for me, but he just said, you can’t. He said that all you can do is set a good example, tell your kids to do the right thing and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

I keep seeing Facebook posts from people who are unfriending folks who voted for Trump. I think part of why this election took us by surprise is that too many of us insulate ourselves and our social media platforms with people who think just like we do. I’ve tried not to do that, even though some posts make me angry. They are a shocking glimpse sometimes into how people you thought you knew actually think.

I’ve discovered that the folks who make me angry because of hurtful words in their Facebook posts also believe that they’re saying these things in a vacuum. They think they’re only talking to others who agree with them. Most of them are friends who live in the South. When I go home, they seem happy to see me. We have dinner together and I do believe they genuinely like me. I believe we really are friends. And when I join their conversations on Facebook they’ll say that they weren’t talking about me. They were and I’m there to remind them that they do know someone in the LGBT community. Me.

I’ve found that if you jump into one of these conversations with anger it doesn’t work. I usually try to say something that’s rather quiet just to let them know I’m listening. Conversations with people who don’t agree with you are important. Genuine conversation can change minds and help us understand each other. It’s not easy, but it might be the only way.

I was thinking of all of this as I was driving to work this morning. On the way in I stopped at a Starbucks and there were two Latina women in line behind me. The woman closest to me looked visibly upset and was standing pretty far from me. From behind I’m sure I just looked like some random white guy so she probably didn’t want to stand too close. I asked her if I could buy her a coffee. Her face immediately brightened. I think she was shocked. I bought the woman next to her a coffee as well.

You always see that stupid bumper sticker that says practice random acts of kindness. I say let’s make that real.

A pumpkin spiced latte is not going to save the world, but it’s a start.

Now is the time for vigilance, my friends.

Now is the time to show everyone that love is stronger, for real.

The Adventures of Nash Wiley

Today marks the release of the first in a series of fun short stories featuring the likable, comical, perpetually searching, Nash Wiley. Four short stories will be delivered by Bold Strokes Books during the course of the next four months, including today’s release of Death By Cocktail Straw. Each narrative builds on the next until the last story in the series is released in February 2017.

Here’s a brief synopsis of each wild Nash Wiley adventure. Happy reading!

death-by-cocktail-strawDeath By Cocktail Straw
Release Date: November 1, 2016
How did a club night with friends go so off the rails? Nash’s day had started out so well. An adorable barista flirted with her as she picked up her morning espresso, which may have contributed to the distraction that moments later nearly ended in disaster. Nash had used the word “disaster” carelessly not realizing how far the rest of her day would spiral after her tragic morning commute. Picking up girls after midnight in an ER is a clear sign of desperation, right? Unless that girl is the enchanting nurse who keeps coming to her rescue.

one-more-reason-to-leave-orlandoOne More Reason to Leave Orlando
Release Date: December 1, 2016
Nash Wiley, aka: slow learner, discovers that hooking up with your sexy neighbor isn’t such a great idea, especially if you like your apartment and you’d like to keep living there. Having sex with both of your neighbors is an even worse idea, especially if those neighbors happen to be in a relationship… with each other. Threesomes always sounded so exotic and exciting in the abstract. As it turns out the reality of sleeping with two women at the same time is a lot more complicated. But it wasn’t like it was Nash’s idea and when the offer presented itself she found it impossible to say no.

smothered-and-coveredSmothered and Covered
Release Date: January 1, 2017
The last person Nash Wiley expected to bump into over a two a.m. breakfast at Waffle House was her college crush, decked out in a curve-hugging law enforcement uniform. Nash can’t believe her luck when Ms. Crush asks to join her, explaining that she’s just getting off shift. But something seems a little off. It could be the glitter in her eye shadow, or the black lace bra peeking from her barely buttoned uniform shirt, or maybe the exotic dancers who stroll in from the local gentleman’s club and crash their private reunion. Nash isn’t sure she’s still hungry until the waitress takes her order. “How you want those hash browns, hon?” Ms. Crush pins Nash with a sultry gaze and answers for her. “Mmm. I’ve heard she likes hers smothered and covered.”

privacy-glassPrivacy Glass
Release Date: February 1, 2017
As Nash Wiley entered the elegant Savannah Victorian and scanned the room she had one thought: this is one gay wedding that could really get out of hand. Only a lesbian would think it was a good idea to invite so many exes and then let them offer up toasts after drinking way too much white wine. But the evening turns even more surreal when Nash commandeers a stretch limo and Anna Hayes for a late night drive out to the beach and friendship turns into something more. Champagne on ice, seat belts optional and privacy glass a must.

 

The End

theend

My wife Evelyn took this picture.

I finished the first draft of the manuscript for Crossing The Wide Forever today. Weighing in at just over 67,000 words it’s the longest story I’ve written to date.

There seems to be a moment about seventy-five percent into every book that I have written thus far where the whole thing stalls and I worry that I’ve gone off the rails and have no idea how it’s all going to come together. I lose sleep, I fret, I drive my wife Evelyn crazy recapping scenes in the story. (She says not, but I’m sure I do.)

With a fourth cup of coffee in hand, my writing playlist piping in through noise-cancelling headphones and the lights in my studio dim… I write the next 1,000 words. Because you just have to. You have to push through to the other side.

Four thousand words later I crawl into bed, exhausted, frustrated, and dream about the book. Scenes flash through my mind like I’m watching a movie. And then it happens. Somewhere between asleep and awake, at about four o’clock in the morning the whole thing comes together in my head. I can see it all the way through.

In the dark I get up and go downstairs to scribble all of it down on a giant yellow legal pad. My cat Otis is happy. He finally has somewhere to sit. (Cats and paper, what is that?)

I’ve also noticed that every time I finish a book, the minute I type the words “The end,” I’m euphoric. My head feels lighter. I can finally stop worrying about these characters that I’ve been living with for weeks. I’ve gotten them through to the end and they’re going to be okay.

Everyone gets what they need in the end, except me, because now I’m feeling sad. I begin missing those characters. They have more stories to tell.

I email the acquisitions editor Sandy at Bold Strokes Books and tell her I have a great idea for a sequel. Sandy is always kind in her correspondence, so she promptly replies and gently reminds me sequels don’t sell as well. Sigh.

#TheWritingLife