Holiday weird

scroogeI am not a holiday person. Not quite Scrooge, but definitely not Buddy the Elf either. Somewhere in between lies me. I normally avoid Christmas music. I understand, but resent, HGTV and DIY Network focusing on holiday decorating instead of just showing a marathon of Rehab Addict or Rescue My Renovation. I will be sending out holiday cards, however, just so folks know I’m thinking of them and wishing them well.

excited BuddyNow I’ve been ill the past few days: fever, chills, shivering, headache—you get the idea, the unwelcome and the usual. During this illness a few weird things happened that I’d like to share.

First, I turned 51 on Monday, which isn’t weird and was actually great. But I was so sick the other night that I was too weak to find the TV remote and turn away from that Rockefeller Center thingy NBC does where they light the massive-ass Christmas tree. You know, they have the Rockettes and celebrities singing live, so I saw Mariah Carey fighting with her ear plug and her clothes, and for some reason Seth McFarlane was singing—thought I was hallucinating that one—apparently the guy has an album out. Giggity giggity goo.

I have never, NEVER watched this event (hence the reference to my age), but, I enjoyed it. I found myself smiling and singing along and laughing and what the fuck?! And when they lit that tree, it was breathtaking, and I had little breath to take at that point.

Second, singing along to some of those songs reminded me of years ago attending some office party. I was living in Oregon. I sat with my supervisor and several other coworkers. We chatted and lamented the poor choice of salmon as a vegetarian option for folks who didn’t eat meat. They didn’t want to make a fuss, and I’m a carnivore but felt outraged for them. I’m good at that. Anyway, as everyone but me got up to mingle, I smiled and waved and chatted with folks who came to me—mobility issues even then.

Suddenly this older gentleman I didn’t know came and sat directly across from me. I think we introduced ourselves, but the way he kept staring at me kind of weirded me out. Then he began singing! To me! At first I was unnerved and uncertain, but his voice was so rich and deep, I began to smile. He sang “White Christmas” to me, I think. I was touched. It made me feel special. I suppose I remember the impressions and feelings of that night more than anything else. Thanks mister.

Third, this will be our first Christmas without our mom. We lost her in February. When we were kids we’d help decorate by tossing tinsel on a real tree and placing bulbs on the limbs we could reach. Being the smaller beings in the house, we were best suited to scramble beneath the branches to reach the stand to fill it with water. I loved the smell, the lights, the bright wrapping paper. But, as is often the case, once I became an adult, assembling the tree and decorating it became a chore. And I remember years of grumbling whenever Mom got that look in her eye: time to put the tree up! But in the last decade I spent with her, I began just doing it because it made her happy, and hell, why not?

Having said that, I’m still me—not Scrooge and Buddy. Despite enjoying How Murray Saved Christmas the other night, despite giggling and smiling like an idiot when I see that Starbucks commercial with Carlton dancing, despite Elf becoming my all-time favorite holiday movie, I will not be putting up and decorating a Christmas tree. I’m not decorating jack!

I will, however, do something Mom always wanted but rarely got around to doing: give to folks who need it. Extra money was hard to come by for all of us, but Mom gave when she could. Doesn’t every town do that, put together a list of families who need items, clothing, or toys for Christmas? I’ll give what I can to Paralyzed Veterans of America or the Huntington City Mission or Little Victories, or to any one of these groups in my area: Holiday Charities.

I’ve made sure to give to the Trevor Project and CrowdRise’s campaign to help people suffering with HIV/AIDS, while at the same time sending a lump of coal to Pastor Steven Anderson of Tempe’s Faithful Word Baptist Church for being “naughty,” although my word is not so charitable. Ha-ha! See what I did there?

So even if Mom’s decorating ideas didn’t take hold of me, her loving and giving spirit did.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, ya know, whatever. Have a good one, people!

 

We have a winner!

Carolyn is the winner of autographed copies of my novels Right On Time and Button Down, and the Hot Off the Press anthology, which includes my short story “McAvoy Made” along with fifteen other delightful stories by a variety of authors.

Hooray!

Congratulations, Carolyn, and thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a comment on my Birthday Giveaway post.

I’m thrilled to be able to share my happy day with you and that I have books to offer. Being published is a dream come true.

I’ll be spending my birthday writing, editing, and reading (not necessarily in that order).

Have a great week, people!

*heading off to find birthday cake*

Birthday giveaway

A week from today I’ll be holding a drawing to give away autographed paperback copies of the Hot Off the Press collection (that’s work by sixteen authors, including my short story “McAvoy Made”) and my novels Button Down and Right on Time. That’s three paperback books!

Hot Off the Press: Words hold the power to hurt as well as heal, and choosing them is a complicated and delicate process. No one knows this better than the men who work with them every day. Authors, reporters, reviewers, and publishers struggle to balance truth, art, long hours, and stressful jobs. Whether they’re trying to write a novel or advance a career, it can leave little time for love. The men in this anthology are seeking romance on and off the job, in print and online, against backdrops of fact, fiction, and even fantasy. Their tales are different but have one thing in common—there’s a happy ending waiting on the last page.

Find excerpt here.

Right on Time: Throughout his life, successful artist Barnaby Rosenthal has been rescued repeatedly by his one constant, Charleston Meeks. But it’s been seven tumultuous years since he’s last seen the temporal agent outside of his dreams and paintings.
Recently retired from his father’s Restore Point Program, Charleston’s ready to approach Barnaby in their present year of 2020 and discover if the two of them can build a future on their harried past.
Standing between them is a conservative senator determined to erase the people saved by the RPP, and much of her rage is focused on Barnaby. For the senator, time travel goes against God’s plan, so with the help of her hired guns, she intends to correct the program’s meddling by any means necessary.
For the first time, Charleston may not be there to save Barnaby.

Find excerpt here.

Button Down: When he finds himself captivated by a movie-star handsome stranger he meets in a bar, lawyer Ford Reilly watches a simple one-night stand develop into a taste of what living honestly might bring him.
Out and proud Gus Hansen has built a small architectural firm from nothing, but could lose it all as he tries to break a contract he signed before knowing about the project’s antigay ties.
After Ford discovers he spent a passionate night with the man on the other side of the dispute he’s handling, he finds himself in more than one quandary. He can either maintain the status quo, enforcing the contract to the letter, or he can defy his overbearing father and break free of the closeted life he’s built for himself in order to be with Gus.
Gus has his own choices to make. He knows the sting of loving a man who hides himself, but the longer he lingers in Ford’s presence, the more difficult it becomes to deny their attraction. 

Find excerpt here.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post. Deadline is Sunday, Nov. 30, midnight. I’ll draw the winner’s name on Dec. 1, my birthday! Hooray for me and the winner, whoever that ends up being.

Best of luck, people!

New collection

Hey, everyone! Today the Hot Off the Press Anthology from Dreamspinner Press arrived. My short story McAvoy Made is included along with fifteen other fabulous stories. We’re having a release party at the Dreamspinner Press blog, and there’s a giveaway going on over at The Novel Approach.

Check it out, people!

McAvoy Made

My short story McAvoy Made is part of Hot Off the Press, a Dreamspinner Press AntholHotOffthePressLGogy, which debuts Nov. 10. I had a blast writing this and fell in love with my main characters. I hope you fall for them too. Preston and Duvall are two very different men stuck in ruts of their own creation. They’ve become comfortable, complacent in their behavior, and it takes coming together to shake up their lives and brighten their futures. Preston has blinders on, focused so closely on a project honoring his sister that he’s given up living for himself, while Duvall runs through men at an insatiable pace, never pausing long enough to truly connect.

Here’s is an excerpt of Duvall watching Preston from afar:

In the cavernous lunchroom of Minder Programming and Technology, Duvall absently nibbled at his danish and pretended to read Out Magazine on his iPad, while stealing glances at the cutie sitting by the wall of windows. Ignoring the view of the courtyard, the guy sat alone—always alone—at the same small round table every day. He never ate during his lunch hour but did manage the occasional juice box as he scribbled away at something.

Ever since catching sight of him three weeks ago, Duvall had been watching, trying to figure out what he was doing. The new guy’s looks were adequately alluring, to be sure: blond hair, shaved on the sides but long and floppy on top, a fit, lean build, nice shoulders, frameless glasses, pretty face. Duvall hadn’t seen the color of his eyes yet, and he was hoping for blue or green, but it was the project the stranger worked on so diligently that piqued Duvall’s curiosity.

Some employees of MP&T worked at their desks right through their breaks. Some went for walks in the park or stepped out for a smoke or ran errands. This guy sat in the lunchroom fiddling with colored paper and ink. It certainly didn’t appear to be something related to the company.

The sheer size of MP&T made it impossible to know every employee or even most. The guy had to be a new hire because he wasn’t on the employee page on their website. Duvall had checked. There were a couple of bios without pictures that were added last month, showing only faceless pale blue silhouettes where a mug shot should be. Maybe this guy was one of them.

Duvall sipped his coffee and watched the guy dip a pen in a small jar of ink, then write on some rough-looking gray-blue paper. He hadn’t figured out what the man did for MP&T, but if he had to guess, Duvall would choose accountant. The guy looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties, and he wore a suit. Only MP&T department heads (like himself), administrators, and accountants wore suits. The techies who worked beneath Duvall tried to stay hip and irreverent by wearing jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers—or antennae and bunny slippers, as evidenced by Leslie Ngo-Jacobs on the third floor.

“You didn’t wait for me,” Mug Jacobs complained as he dropped into the seat across from him. He was one of those ponytail-wearing straight boys with hair thinning on top, a somewhat reformed hippie, and Duvall’s best friend since grade school. Married to the aforementioned Leslie, he was a surprising choice for administrative assistant to MP&T’s president, but somehow it worked, that mash-up of ex-hippie with tailored suits and mani-pedis.

“Oh, uh… sorry—hey, wait a minute. You were supposed to be here twenty minutes ago.”

Mug grinned and stirred his soup. “Too late, you already apologized.”

Duvall smiled and went back to watching his stranger.

“Ask me how our vacation was,” Mug said.

“How was your vacation?” Duvall never took his eyes from his target.

“Try to sound a bit more interested…. What are you staring at?”

“You know him?”

“Who?”

“There, in front of the windows overlooking the courtyard.” He pointed. “Little blond guy.”

Mug adjusted his glasses and squinted in that direction. “He wasn’t here when I left.”

Duvall turned to him. “You don’t know everyone in this complex.”

“No, you don’t know everyone in this complex. I make it my business, dear.” Mug shook his bottle of tea, popped the top, and took a swig. “He’s cute. I’ll give you that,” he said over the racket of removing the wax paper from his sandwich.

“Yes, yes he is.” Duvall smiled.

“Oh, I get it.”

“Huh?”

“You’ve run through all the hot gay guys in the complex, even some of the ‘straight’ ones, so blondie over there is just the new meat.”

Duvall snorted but didn’t deny his friend’s assessment. It was accurate. He had been a busy bad boy, and a new game piece on the board was tantalizing.

*****

There. Hope you enjoyed that, just a bit from one story out of the sixteen in this collection. Hot Off the Press debuts November 10.

Have a great week, people!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Hey all! For the past forty-five days I’ve been modifying my eating and activity habits in an effort to improve my health. The benefits so far? I’ve lost ten pounds, saved money, and I’m sleeping better. Hooray! I gave up my Goodreads account and unpublished my Facebook fan page in an effort to streamline things. So, if you want to find me, friend me at my Facebook profile page. Any new releases I have will be announced here and there. I’m keeping my GLBT Bookshelf pages because they’re a load of fun for me. And, of course, there will always be Twitter. I’m also rather fond of my Amazon author page, so check that out when you get a chance. I’ve become a senior editor at Harmony Ink Press, and what little energy I have needs to be put to the best use. After all, I’ve got writing, editing, promoting, and reading to do. Have a great week, people!

Do what you can do

That’s my new mantra. After a tiny financial disappointment, I was feeling stressed and depressed early yesterday. I was hoping to consolidate some debt, but it fell through. However, following a much needed nap, I saw that I can only do what I can do, right? If I’m careful with my spending, I’m good for the month. I’m not eating out anymore due to health reasons, so I should save money on that end. At least I hope so.

On the writing end, I’m nearing the conclusion of a novel I’ve been working on for quite a while, and I’m pleased with it. What I wasn’t pleased with was the struggle I had with the story. I don’t normally have that, so I’m a bit worried about it. I’ve found a beta reader to give me an unbiased, constructive opinion on story, characters, conflict, romance, etc.

Speaking of what I can do, back in July I sold my short story McAvoy Made to be included in an upcoming anthology…uh, sometime in November. This was not a story I struggled with. That story was a joy to write. I wish they could all feel like that. Wouldn’t it be funny if the one that was a battle is the more popular one? Who knows?

Have a great weekend, people!