small town romance writer

Gay Wins Big Brother: FREE Gay Excerpt Small Town Romance Writer

This summer the only openly gay man in the Big Brother house won the grand prize of five hundred thousand dollars. But before anyone starts clapping, the title of the article to which I’m linking is, Did a Racist Win Big Brother 15?  Here are a few of my posts on the subject this summer. And I haven’t been the only one blogging and talking about the racist comments.

 From NBC News Entertainment:

and then there was Andy Herren, an openly gay contestant who found himself on the receiving end inappropriate slurs from his fellow houseguests, but managed to make enough verbal waves to spark a Facebook statement from his former employer explaining that he “does not represent the opinions or values of College of DuPage.”

Andy Herren wasn’t the only one, and actually he didn’t make the majority of the racists comments. These racists comments were addressed at the season finale last Wednesday night when the house guests came together for the first time since each one had been evicted, before a live audience. But they weren’t addressed in any detail by any means, and it would be interesting to see how some of these houseguests reacted to what America saw this summer on TV and the live feed. Several of them were fired from their jobs just like Andy Herren.

But not everyone made racist comments. Unfortunately he didn’t win the prize. Howard Overby said this:

“My sincere prayer to anyone who has said anything like that … is that you grow from this, you mature from this, you own this,” he explained. “Hopefully there’s a change from the inside out.”

FREE Gay Excerpt Small Town Romance Writer

All week I’ve been posting excerpts from published books, and because this is the last day of the week, I figured I would post an excerpt from an upcoming book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series. This one is tentatively titled Small Town Romance Writer, it’s 113,000 words in length, and it’s the eighth and final book in the series.

I’ll post the pg rated part of the excerpt here, and then you can click to my Word Press blog to read the erotic parts.

Chapter Fourteen
 
            While they were in the airport waiting for a flight to Boston, Ethan phoned Travis to talk about another bad review he’d received from The Shark Lady. This time his voice sounded wrecked with anger, to the point where he practically hissed and Travis had to pull his cell phone away from his ear.
            “That fucking asshole is trying to ruin me,” Ethan said. “Who writes two bad reviews for the same book? That was no accident, Travis. I’m going to write an open letter to that shark fucker on my web site and I’m going to fucking eat her for breakfast.” This time The Shark Lady had taken his highly toned down sex scenes out of context and turned them into hysterical examples of bad writing. She’d blasted it all over various social media web sites. Travis didn’t mention this to Ethan, but even he’d smiled at a few of her comments. They were genuinely funny, although highly out of context.
            Even though Travis had never been a fan of Ethan’s writing style, Ethan was his best friend and he had to say something to calm him down. But more than that, Travis had to admit that the review had not been fair. Funny, but not fair. He’d seen this before more than once, the way a clever book reviewer can take an excerpt from a book…any book, including the bible…out of context and make it look ridiculous. It was an age old trick some book reviewers’ use, but unfortunately most people didn’t recognize it or understand it. And there was nothing an author could do about it except take it with grace, write the book reviewer’s name down on a list, file it somewhere for future reference, and then get even with the nasty reviewer sometime down the road in the future.
            “You have to calm down,” Travis said. “If you write an open letter to a book reviewer about a bad review the only thing that will happen is that you’ll make yourself look bad. And you have so many wonderful things happening right now that would be huge mistake. Just laugh it off. Take it as a compliment. How many authors get two reviews from the same reviewer?” That’s what Travis had done.
            “You don’t know what it’s like,” Ethan said. “No one ever wrote a review like that for your book.”
            That was true. Travis’s award winning book had received some excellent reviews, and mostly middle of the road reviews. But this worried him even more than if he’d had bad reviews. He’d always believed the books that sparked the most controversy and created the most interesting discussions were the most valuable. In order to spark discussion a book had to be both loved and hated. But he didn’t want to get into that with Ethan on the phone, in the airport. So he continued to pacify him and stroke his damaged ego until they said it was time to board the plane.
            “I have to go now. We’re boarding. Call me later when I get to P’town. Just don’t write or say anything you’ll regret. Let it go, Ethan. Don’t do or say anything in public. You’ll regret it. Just trust me on this one thing.”
            “Can I send her a dead fish?” Ethan asked. “Or maybe a ticket for a cruise ship in shark infested waters.”
            “No, not even that. Let it go. She only wants you to respond. She’s goading you.”
            His voice had mellowed by then. “I suppose you’re right once again. Thanks for listening to me rant that way. But I will get even with that nasty, vicious, evil excuse for a human being someday if it’s the last thing I do.”
            Travis smiled. “I have no doubt about that. Call me later if you want. Love you.”
            “Love you, too,” Ethan said. “And thanks again for being there, as always.”
            When Travis hung up, Scottie reached for their carry-on bags and said, “Is he okay now?” He’d been listening to the conversation the entire time. He seemed to have come to his own personal understanding about Ethan and Travis’s relationship and he never questioned the dynamics.
            Travis stood up and said, “I think he is. But I have a feeling someday in the future he’s going to picking his teeth with the remains of the woman who wrote that nasty book review. Ethan never forgets anything that bruises his ego.”

The moment they boarded the plane, Travis noticed the way Scottie was staring at him. “Knock that off,” he said. “We haven’t even buckled our seatbelts yet.” He knew that look in Scottie’s eye.

Scottie laughed and said, “What?”

“You know what you’re doing,” Travis said. “Just calm yourself and we’ll see how things go. I don’t feel like getting arrested.” He’d promised Scottie they would have sex on the plane: a blow job and a fuck in the rest room.

So Scottie sat back, buckled his seatbelt, and closed his eyes for the next hour. Travis had always admired Scottie’s ability to fall asleep with such ease. Travis still had to concentrate on sleeping each night when he went to bed, and it was impossible for him to sleep on a plane, especially a flight as short as this one from Iowa to Boston. So he pulled out a new book he’d purchased for the trip that discussed communication, literature, and semiotics. This was part of the course he would be teaching the next semester titled, Communications and Literature. There were some things about the topic even he didn’t understand, and he often wondered about how much easier his life would have been if he’d decided to write simple, entertaining books like Ethan. He would have been flying in first class that day, too, instead of coach.

When they were in the air for about an hour, Scottie opened his eyes and slid his hand across Travis’s knee. He smiled and asked, “Wanna gimme head now?”

Travis continued to stare at the book he’d been reading, pretending he wasn’t amused. “Go back to sleep.”

“C’mon,” Scottie said. “Just one quick blow job. No one will see us.” They were sitting at the back of the plane, with Travis in the window seat and Scottie in the aisle. There were people behind them and in front of them, but the seats were tall enough that none of them could see anything unless they actually stood up and leaned over. And the seats on the opposite side of the plane beside them were occupied by two guys in their early twenties who both seemed to be sleeping. And they both seemed to be traveling alone.

“It’s too risky,” Travis said. He nodded to the guys across the aisle.

“They’re sound asleep,” Scottie said. He pulled down his zipper and shoved his hand into the fly of his jeans so he could stroke himself.

Travis smiled. “Stop that. Pull up your zipper right now.”

“How about a hand job,” Scottie said. “I’ll put my jacket on my lap and you can reach over. No one will notice.” He pulled his hand out of his pants and put his jacket on his lap so no one could see his dick.

Travis looked across the aisle to make sure the two guys were still sleeping, and then he slowly reached over and put his hand in Scottie’s pants. He tried stroking him this way for a minute or two, but couldn’t seem to find the right grip. He had to actually pull it out to stroke it fast enough to get Scottie off. While Travis did this, Scottie rested his head back and closed his eyes. Travis made sure he watched everything around him, and he listened to every movement to make sure no one would walk up behind them and catch him in the act. When the young guy sitting across from them moved to change positions in his seat, Travis stopped moving his hand and sent him a smile. The guy returned the smile and closed his eyes again. He obviously had no idea what was happening and he didn’t seem to care anyway. All he wanted to do was sleep.

Then Travis noticed a flight attendant heading toward them and he stopped once again. As the attendant passed, glancing at each passenger in each seat, Travis sent him a smile, too. The flight attendant returned the smile, without a clue.

These little stops and starts must have excited Scottie, because each time it happened Travis felt Scottie growing closer to climax. Scottie wasn’t the type to moan or make exaggerated sounds or movements. Scottie came quietly, without much fanfare, but there were always subtle signs in advance. Travis always knew when Scottie was close because he made a strange face where his eyebrows furrowed and he always started moving his head back and forth. And when Travis noticed these things that day he started stroking faster.

In less than two or three minutes, Scottie’s body went dead still and Travis felt something warm on his fingers. Travis held him a little longer, and then he pulled his hand out from under the jacket and he kissed Scottie on the lips.

Scottie wiped a line of perspiration from his forehead and said, “I made a mess all over your hand.”

Travis shrugged. “I don’t mind.”

“I’ll go to the bathroom and bring you back a towel,” Scottie said.

“Don’t bother,” Travis said. Then he lifted his hand and licked his fingers clean. He knew this would excite Scottie and he did it on purpose.

Scottie kissed him and said, “Lick my jeans now.”

He would have if they hadn’t been on a plane surrounded by all those people. But that would have been far too risky, so he laughed and said, “Go clean up now. It smells like bleach back here.” Scottie was one of those men who had that extra strong bleach smell that seemed to fill the air.

When he stood up to use the bathroom, he covered his crotch with the jacket so no one would notice the mess he’d made. Travis moved sideways to get comfortable again, and he noticed the guy across the aisle from him move again. As he changed positions this time, the guy opened his eyes and lifted his head a little. When Travis noticed him sniffing the air, Travis lowered his gaze to his lap and pretended he hadn’t seen him.

Of course a half hour or so later Scottie wanted to sneak into the rest room and fuck Travis before they landed in Boston. He kept poking Travis in the arm and saying, “Let’s do it.”

Travis finally reached a point where he couldn’t resist any longer, so he leaned over and spoke in a stage whisper. “Wait a few minutes, and then follow me. Give me a minute to get out of my clothes.” Unlike Scottie, Travis had already had sex in rest rooms on planes and he’d always found it highly erotic.

Without waiting for Scottie to reply, he stood up, stepped over Scottie’s legs, and walked to the back of the plane to get naked in the rest room. He went inside without locking the door and removed all of his clothes, including his socks and shoes. Part of the thrill for him was being completely naked, not just bent over with his pants down around his knees. That was the kind of thing he’d done with strangers on planes, but with his own partner whom he trusted he wanted to experience the freedom of getting fucked in the rest room in the nude. While he waited for Scottie to come in, he braced his hands on the sink, leaned forward, arched his back, and spread his legs. And when the door opened a moment after that, he flung his head to smile at Scottie and said, “Give it to me hard.”

But it wasn’t Scottie standing in the doorway. It was the young guy who had been sitting across from him in the aisle. The guy’s eyebrows went up, he stared at Travis for a moment, and then said, “I can do that.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a condom. “I’m always prepared.” Then he walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.

As he placed his palm flat on Travis’s naked ass, Travis said, “I’m waiting for someone else. He was supposed to join me.”

Then the bathroom door opened and Scottie gaped at the two of them. He entered quickly and locked the door so no one else could enter.

“I thought it was you,” Travis said. He didn’t want Scottie to think he’d encouraged this strange young man to follow him inside.

“He got up first,” Scottie said. “When I saw him heading toward the bathroom I didn’t know what to do, so I waited outside for a minute.”

The young guy shrugged and said, “It’s cool.” He patted Travis’s ass and laughed. He looked at Scottie and said, “He said he wants someone to give it to him hard, man.” He rubbed Travis’s ass and said, “I think the two of us should give it to him hard. It’s fate.”

Scottie and Travis exchanged a glance. They hadn’t taken a third for a while, but it wasn’t as if they’d never done three-ways before, and Travis had to admit the young guy reminded him of a lanky dark-haired actor he’d seen on TV recently. He had a messy, casual appeal and he wore his loose jeans low on his hips. So Travis said to Scottie, “I don’t mind if you don’t.”

“I think it’s hot,” Scottie said, as he pulled his erection out of his jeans and started to stroke it.

After that they didn’t waste time. The young guy with dark hair opened his pants, pulled them down to his knees, and covered his dick with the most unusual bright red lubricated condom. Travis spread his legs wider and the guy grabbed his hips. He entered fast and gave it to Travis just as hard as he’d asked for it when he’d seen him standing in the doorway. After he came, he pulled out and Scottie entered and repeated what the young guy had just done. The young guy removed the condom and threw it into the commode, but he lingered there with his pants around his knees watching Scottie fuck Travis. When Scottie came, Travis grabbed his dick and he climaxed, too. The entire scene took about ten minutes. When it ended, Scottie kissed Travis on the lips and the young guy patted him on the ass.

The young guy pulled up his pants and said, “That was nice, guys. Thanks.” Then he left them alone.

Scottie put his dick back into his jeans and said, “That was nice. I totally didn’t expect it. Now I can finally say I had sex on a plane.”

Travis was still naked and he had to take care of things, so to speak. Scottie hadn’t used a condom because there had been no need for him to use one. So Travis pointed to the door and said, “Go back to the seats and let me clean up before we both get arrested.”

When Travis finally got dressed and exited the small bathroom, there were two people waiting outside. He passed them and smiled, pretending nothing unusual had happened, but one of the people gave him a look as if she suspected something. When he reached his seat he couldn’t remember whether or not he’d flushed the toilet where the young guy had tossed the vivid red condom. He panicked for a moment and pictured the woman screaming and calling for a slight attendant. But a few minutes later he saw her pass by and return to her seat a few rows ahead of him. She didn’t seem as if anything was wrong, so he figured he must have remembered to flush.

Scottie and the guy across the aisle who had just fucked Travis seemed to have bonded while Travis had been cleaning up and getting dressed. They wound up talking across the aisle until the plane landed, all the way out of the plane, and even as they walked into the airport.  They talked about baseball and how they were Red Sox fans. Travis knew nothing about baseball and he smiled and listened while they repeated the names of players and highlights from games that season.

When they reached the exit they stopped and the guy smiled at Travis. “Thanks again, dude. That was fun.”

As Travis was about to say, “You’re welcome,” a young blond woman in a sundress ran up behind the young man and said, “Honey, there you are. Did you have a good flight?” Then she kissed him and said, “I’ve missed my big strong husband so much. The kids are in the car with my mother and Aunt Nan.” She pronounced aunt as ont.

Travis and Scottie exchanged a smile and they both stood there waiting to see how the young guy would react. After his wife kissed him, he remained expressionless while she looked Travis up and down and asked, “Can I help you?” She had an attitude that suggested superiority, and she spoke with a defensive tone, as if she couldn’t figure out why her husband was standing there with two attractive young men.

The young guy who had just fucked Travis sent Travis a pleading glance.

Travis smiled at the wife and said, “No, we have to catch the ferry to Provincetown now. We were just talking guy talk with your husband on the plane.” He faked punched the young guy in the arm and said, “Isn’t that right, buddy.” He emphasized the word buddy just like he’d heard straight guys say it.

The young guy’s face turned pale white and he shrugged. “Ah, that’s right, man.” Then he took his wife’s arm and led her out of that airport as fast as he could.

On the way to the ferry, Scottie joked about the expression on the guy’s face, and he seemed to think the wife had suspicions about her husband from the way she’d looked at Travis.

“Notice she didn’t look at you that way,” Travis said. “She looked at me if she wanted to scratch my eyes out. And I didn’t do or say anything to provoke that kind of a reaction from her.”

“Dude,” Scottie said. “Her husband just fucked your brains out on the plane.”

“She didn’t know that,” Travis said. “And I had no idea he was married. He wasn’t wearing ring.”

“He put it on when he sat down again,” Scottie said. “I saw him do it when he didn’t think anyone was watching.”

This hadn’t been the first time so-called straight married man had pulled something like this on Travis. They all removed their wedding rings when they traveled without their wives. “Well I think it’s sad,” Travis said. “He could have at least said he was married so I could decide whether or not I wanted to do anything with him. And if I’d known he was married I would have said no.”

Scottie put his arm around Travis and said, “Maybe he’s bi-sexual. Who knows? I’ll never forget the look on his face when she showed up, and I’ll never forget the way she looked at you.”

Travis would never forget it either, and mostly because it wasn’t the first time it had happened to him. But he vowed it would be the last. From that day forward he would ask them if they were married. And if they were he would tell them to go home and fuck their wives and leave him alone.

Read More….

Free Weekend Excerpt: Small Town Romance Writer

Free Weekend Excerpt: Small Town Romance Writer

I just submitted the ms for Small Town Romance Writer to the publisher and while it’s all still fresh I thought I’d post another raw, unpublished version here. This book ran over 113,000 words by the time I sent it off, and so far I haven’t heard any screams from the publisher. The average e-book romance novel runs about 60,000 words, and I’m usually contracted to only write 50,000 words. I thought this book needed more depth, and I couldn’t help running over word count this time.

The basic premise of the book is literary gay author vs smutty erotic romance gay author. And even though no one will believe me, this book is not even closely related to my own life as a writer. I did take from some of my experiences, but the reason I made the two main characters so different was because I wanted to show how two different writers go through life with different POVs.

In any event, here’s the excerpt. In this scene, Travis, one main character, meets someone he really likes and doesn’t even realize this until he discovers the guy might be dating someone else. It shows how passive Travis can sometimes be a bit aggressive, and it’s highly out of character for him to react this way.

It was evident Scottie didn’t know Ethan very well. Ethan had once had a bad haircut when they’d lived together in Iowa and Travis had told him the truth then. Ethan took his criticism so seriously that time he wound up wearing a baseball cap for the next month. After that experience Travis had learned it was much safer to lie to Ethan in some cases. Like that time he wore an ugly red shirt to a party and he asked Travis for his opinion. The shirt was so bad it made Travis cringe. But he smiled and told Ethan, “I love it. It’s the best shirt I’ve ever seen and I might even ask if I can borrow it in the future.” This made Ethan smile for the rest of the night, and he had no idea everyone else at the party was talking about the guy in the ugly red shirt.  Oh, Travis had learned the hard way what Ethan didn’t know would never hurt him.

            “I have to think about it for a while,” Travis said. “I can’t keep avoiding him forever.”

            “You’ll figure it out,” Scottie said. Then he hesitated for a second. “I have to ask you something. When you say we’re taking things slowly and this is a casual relationship does that mean we’re both allowed to see other people.”

            Travis smiled at his innocence. The poor kid was worried he would date other men. “Yes,” he said. “We are allowed to see other people. After all, this is a long distance causal relationship. It would be unrealistic for you to assume I’m not going to see other people.”

            “I’m not talking about you,” Scottie said.

            Travis opened his eyes wider. “I don’t understand.” He hadn’t expected this.

            “This guy asked me out this morning,” Scottie said. “And I said I would think about it. I wanted to see if that’s okay with you.”

            Well. It didn’t take himlong to find someone else. Travis had underestimated him in more than one way. But he didn’t want Scottie to think he was upset about this, so he laughed it off and said, “It’s fine with me. We are both free to see anyone, or do anything, we want to do. No strings attached.”

            “Good, that’s a huge relief,” Scottie said. “I’m kind of new at all this, and I didn’t want to go out with someone else without talking to you first.”

            “What’s this guy like?” Travis asked. “I’m just curious in a basic sense. It’s not that I care or anything.” He felt a lump in his throat. He hadn’t even thought about going out with anyone else yet.

            “He’s a nice guy,” Scottie said. “He’s about your age and he owns a few small coffee shops in Providence. He has a weekend place in P’town on the East End. You might even know him.”

            Travis placed his palm to his chest and sat up higher. “Is his name Glen?” Provincetown was a small community, and everyone knew everyone else. He’d met a guy named Glen at a few parties and gallery receptions who owned coffee shops in Providence and had a weekend place on the East End. From what he could recall, this Glen was not around his age. He was closer to forty than thirty. He had a good body, but he dyed his hair that obnoxious jet black some middle age men think makes them look younger. And he had the thinnest lips Travis had ever seen on a man.

            “Yes, his name is Glen,” Scottie said. “Do you know him?”

            Travis forced himself not to groan aloud. “Does he have dyed black hair and big white teeth? And painfully thin lips? And does he have a tendency to blink with his entire face a little too much?”

            Scottie laughed. “I’m not sure if his hair is dyed, but it is black and he does have a tendency to blink every now and then. I get coffee at his shop in the morning on my way to class, and this morning we started talking and he asked me out.”

            “I’ll bet he did,” Travis said. He also knew this Glen had a reputation for going after younger men in their twenties. “But just so you know, he’s not around my age. I’m thirty-two. He’s more like forty-two. Maybe even fifty-two for all I know. He’s an old man.”

            “Well I didn’t ask him his exact age,” Scottie said. “It doesn’t matter to me and I didn’t want to be rude. What’s wrong? You sound upset.”

            “I’m not upset about anything,” Travis said. He felt like kicking the chair. “If you want to go out with that old man, who am I to say anything.” Maybe he was one of those younger guys that liked the old ones.

            “Good,” Scottie said. “I’m glad I asked you about it. I have to go study now. I’ll talk to you over the weekend.”

            Travis didn’t want to wait until the weekend. He wanted to know more about this Glen and what he was up to with Scottie. “I’ll call you tomorrow night around this same time,” he said.

            “Call me on Friday night around this time,” Scottie said. “I told Glen I’d get back to him about dinner tomorrow night. And since you’re okay with it, I’m going to call him as soon as I hang up with you. You’re sure it’s okay.”

            Travis kicked the wall. “Of course it’s okay. I’ll call you on Friday night. Have fun with the old guy tomorrow night.”

            When Travis went to bed that night, he tossed and turned so much he had to get up and take a sleeping pill. He never took pills to go to sleep. He’d always been one of those people who could fall into bed and drift off to sleep without any problems at all. He kept thinking about Scottie going out with that hideous old creature with big teeth and dyed black hair that lived up on the East End, of all places. Travis owned a home on the West End, where a more residential dignified group lived. Like most gay men in his position, he cared about his address. He was surrounded by Boston attorneys and people who spent the winters in Key West. The gay couple across the street from him owned radio stations and the gay guy who owned the house behind him came from an old Boston family that had made their money in shoe laces. Travis wouldn’t have been caught renting in the East End, let alone owning a home. In his opinion, the East End had always been for tourists and those who walked through town all summer licking ice cream cones with flip flops on their feet and short that bunched up in their crotches. 

            By the time he finally did fall asleep, he had dreams of the hideous Glen creature dancing at the A-housewith Scottie. He woke up around seven in the morning at the exact moment this Glen creature was about to make love to Scottie. He had Scottie in his arms; they were both leaning backward in the middle of Commercial Street in front of Spiritus Pizza, and all Travis could see were Glen’s big white bleached teeth moving toward Scottie’s beautiful young lips. Travis sat up in bed, with his heart racing and sweat rolling down his face, and punched the pillow so hard he bruised his knuckles on the headboard.

            He spent the rest of the day trying to work. He tried as hard as he could to write that article about gender power in gay fiction, but he kept thinking about Glen’s big white choppers moving toward Scottie’s lips. He grew so frustrated he ripped a sheet of paper from his typewriter, crunched it in his fist, and stormed out of the house. He walked all the way to Herring Cove with his hands in his pockets and his head down to avoid anyone he knew.

            He tried to rationalize his feelings because he’d been the one who had insisted they keep things casual. He couldn’t blame Scottie for going out with Glen. Besides, he’d said it didn’t bother him. When he realized how alive he felt, and how long it had been since he’d cared this much about another guy, he decided not to call Scottie on Friday night. He called him late on Thursday night instead.

            The phone rang about six times and he almost hung up. It was after midnight and he had a feeling Scottie had decided to go home with the old man who owned the coffee shops. He felt a little silly by then, and he didn’t want Scottie to think he was a lunatic stalker.

            Then Scottie picked up and said, “Hello?”

            “It’s me,” Travis said, in a casual tone. Scottie obviously didn’t have caller ID. He could have just hung up and Scottie would never have known he’d called.

            “Hey,” Scottie said. “What’s wrong?”

            “Nothing’s wrong,” Travis said.

            “Well it’s after midnight,” Scottie said. “People usually call at that hour when something’s wrong. Are you sure you’re okay?”

            Travis clenched his fist and took a quick breath. “I told you I’m fine. I just called to see how your date went.”

            “It didn’t happen,” Scottie said. “There was some kind of crisis at one of Glen’s coffee shops and he had to cancel. He promised me he would make it up, though. He said he’d bring me up to his house in P’town this weekend. He’s picking me up on Saturday. Isn’t that great? We should all plan to get together for tea dance on Sunday at the Boat Slip.”

            So now this creepy white-toothed idiot was taking Scottie to P’town for the weekend. This made Travis want to pick up the phone, hurl it at the window, and throw it into the bay. But he took a deep breath and counted to ten.

            “Are you still there?” Scottie asked.

            “Yes,” I’m still here, Travis said in his calmest voice.
 

            “Are you free on Sunday afternoon?” Scottie asked. “I’ll tell Glen.”

Small Town Romance Writer: The 113,000 Word Version

Small Town Romance Writer: The 113,000 Word Version

This is one of those posts I do every now and then when I’m getting ready to submit a book to the publisher. It helps me see what the book description looks like in print, it helps me check out the first few pages, and readers tell me they like reading these things.

This particular book is the final novel in the eight book series I’ve been working on for the last year for Ravenous Romance. And this time, with this final book, for some reason I ran way over the contracted word count and it wound up being 113,000 words. Before I started editing it, it was almost 150,000 words. It could have stood alone at 150,000 words, but I think it works better when it’s a little tighter. I think part of the reason the book ran this long is because it covers a time period of over twenty years, from l990 – 2012. I don’t usually do that, because I prefer to cover shorter time periods. However, this time the story seemed to take over and I didn’t have much of a choice.

Here’s the book description, in raw form. Below that is an excerpt from a part of the book where Ethan wants Travis to read his new novel…also unedited, in raw form, and set in the year 2000.

In this 113,000 word gay romance, when bad boy male stripper Ethan and quiet academic Travis first meet at the storied Iowa Writers’ Workshop in l990 neither one of them know this unusual relationship will consume the next twenty years of their lives…even as their lives change and they meet new people, and they each take different paths as career writers.

Ten years later, Travis is a well-respected author in the LGBT community who is up for a prestigious literary award and Ethan is still a struggling gay erotic romance author writing short stories for small presses that garner him a less than fifty dollar flat fees. But all this is about to change when Ethan soon becomes famous for a gay romance that Travis thinks is quite possibly the worst book ever written.

As Ethan’s mainstream writing career progresses and he becomes known as the Small Town Billionaire Author, Travis’s career moves forward in more subtle, literary ways. Although there are times when Travis is jealous of Ethan’s fame and fortune, he’s found the young man he thinks is the love of his life and nothing else matters. In fact, his life seems perfect…until tragedy strikes and leaves him with nowhere to turn but to Ethan.

Ten years after that, in 2011, both Ethan and Travis have evolved in many ways as men and authors. They also find themselves in situations they hadn’t predicted, and the tables have turned on them. Their long-lasting, unusual relationship is challenged once again when Ethan is up for the same award Travis won twenty years earlier, and this time it’s either going to make them or break them.    

Excerpt:
Ethan stood up and walked to a briefcase he’d left near the back door. He picked it up, carried it to the island, and set it down next to a large porcelain rooster that had the most ridiculous expression he’d ever seen. He hated cute things; he despised the way this entire house was decorated. As Ethan unzipped the case, Travis walked over to see what he was doing.
            Ethan pulled a thick stack of white papers out of the briefcase and set it on the counter. The stack wasn’t neatly piled and most of the pages were dog-eared. He pushed it toward Travis and said, “I’d like you to read this and tell me what you think.”
            Travis gulped and glanced down at the papers. “What is it?”

            “It’s a novel I wrote,” Ethan said. Although his short stories had been getting published in anthologies and magazine for years, he’d never actually written a full length novel. This was his first attempt and what Travis thought of it meant more to him than anything. “I’d like you to read it and tell me what you think.” He’d never asked Travis to read anything like this before. He’d never asked anyone to read his work before. The first people who read his short manuscripts were usually professional editors. He didn’t believe in feedback from non-professionals.
            Travis glanced at the title and read it aloud: “To Badly Feel the Darkness of Emotion.”
            “It is catchy,” Travis said. “You never mentioned you were writing a full length novel. How long did it take?”
            “About a month,” Ethan said. “It’s about 150,000 words. I would have finished it sooner, but we had a lot of events with Lance’s job. For a while it seemed as if there was a different party every night. Entertaining clients is a huge part of what Lance does. I’m so excited about this. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.”
            Travis continued to stare at the first page. “I see,” he said.
            “Is that all you’re going to say?” He’d expected at least a little excitement from Travis.
            “I’m not sure whatto say right now,” Travis said. “You hand me a manuscript for a full length 150,000 novel you wrote in a month and the title isn’t even grammatically correct.” He lifted his hands and wiggled his fingers. “You don’t feel badly. You feel bad on an emotional level, not badly. You feel badly with your fingers.”
            “I know that,” Ethan said. “I believe in common usage, and everyone says they feel badly. I write the way real people speak, and it’s the story that matters, not the grammar.” He’d always been a believer in common usage as opposed to proper grammar, and from what he’d been reading there were many who were beginning to speak out about this, even on academic levels. He’d recently read an article in a university review that talked about ending sentences with prepositions. “I want you to read it and tell me what you think about the story. It’s an erotic romance with light BDSM where two guys fall in love. It’s really an emotional love story this time, filled with schmaltz. I got tired of writing about just sex.”
            “I see,” Travis said, as if they were the only two words he knew. He turned the title page over and read aloud from the first page: “Like a chiseled and detailed statue, his elegantly muscle toned body crept up the elderly semi-circular staircase lovingly. It’s treads squeaked laboriously with each step he took, as he made his way slowly and carefully to Adam’s bed. His feet stopped abruptly at the top of the stairs when he saw Adam longingly and lovingly glancing in his direction. He smiled widely and muttered darkly with slight stutter, ‘I’m here. I’m here, my love.’”
            When Travis paused, Ethan leaned forward. “What do you think? Isn’t that a great first line?”

            “Well,” Travis said. “I’m not sure what to say.”
            “You don’t like it,” Ethan said. He knew that look on Travis’s face. He hadn’t seen it since the last time Travis drank too much and heaved his dinner.
            “This is an awkward position, Ethan,” Travis said. “I’m not sure what you want me to say. You show me a novel you claim only took one month to write. One fucking month. It took me years to write my novel. Then I read the first line and I see you begin the book with a simile, you misspell its, you use said bookisms for dialogue tags, and there seems to have been a sale on adverbs the day you wrote it.” Travis pointed to the next line and read it aloud: “’You’re here,’” Adam mumbled alluringly.” He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed.
            “I wanted the first few pages to be filled with emotion,” Ethan said. He wasn’t sure about the other issues Travis had mentioned, but he didn’t want Travis to know that. Travis could be so structured and picky sometimes, not to mention condescending.
            “Mumbled alluringly?” Travis said. He sent him a frown and shook his head. “That’s not good, Ethan. You need to work on it a little more. And maybe hire a good editor.”
            Ethan sat back and sighed. Why did Travis always have to be so condescending? “All I wanted you to do was read it and tell me what you think. But if that’s too much trouble, don’t bother. I’m never going to write literary books like you. I know and I’m okay with that. But I know I can write sexy books with a lot of romance and a killer story.”
            Travis rubbed his jaw and took a quick breath. “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll take the book with me and read it from cover to cover. I’ll overlook all the grammatical issues and I’ll let you know what I think of the story; just the story. I’ll be completely objective in that respect. But you have to promise you’ll take my criticism as objectively. In other words, you can’t get mad at me.”
            “It’s a deal,” Ethan said. “All I want you to do is read it and tell me what you think.”
            Travis glanced down at the page and saw the byline. “Who the hell is G. X. Cloud?”
            Ethan sat up higher and squared his back. “That’s my pen name for this. Everyone’s using them nowadays, especially in e-publishing. And since this is a first novel, I wanted something different than I’ve used before.”
            E-publishing?” Travis asked, with a sarcastic emphasis on the e.
            Ethan nodded. “Electronic publishing,” he said. “It’s where people read electronic books instead of print books. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately on the Internet. I’ve seen articles that claim everyone will be reading e-books on an e-reading device of some kind by the year 2010. And a lot of writers are using pen names with two initials.”
            Travis rolled his eyes. “Well this is the year 2000, and I haven’t seen any signs of thathappening in publishing, so don’t hold your breath, G.X.”
            When it came to technology, Travis had never been open to the concept of change. Ethan had been spending a lot of time on the Internet and he’d seen the changes already happening in the publishing industry. Of course most of the people associated with traditional publishing like Travis either laughed at, or scorned, anything that resembled the concept of electronic books. But Ethan didn’t agree, and he had a feeling the world would change in the next decade and he wanted to be part of that change.
            “You can take this hard copy manuscript,” Ethan said. “I have an electronic back up on file. I back up all my work now with digital copies.” He was by no means a tech genius, but he wanted to use technical words to impress Travis. He knew Travis wrote his literary books on the same old typewriter he’d used at The Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and he found this amusing and quaint. Travis didn’t even have an e-mail address yet, and most people Ethan knew did. About a year earlier, Ethan had been warned by one of the publishers with whom he worked if he didn’t get a computer and learn how to submit his short erotic stories as Word Documents, he would soon become obsolete and no one would be willing to read his hard copy manuscripts. At first Ethan ignored the advice, but then it actually happened. One of his small publishers wanted to buy a short erotic gay story for an anthology, but he told Ethan it had to be submitted electronically. On that same day, Ethan bought a computer and asked Lance to show him the basics. Lance had already been using computers for architectural design and he knew the basics.
            Travis made a face. “I’ll stick with my old typewriter for now, thank you. But as long as you have a copy, I’ll take the manuscript with me and I’ll read it.”
            Ethan jumped off his stool and hugged him. “Thanks,” he said. “I know I’m never going to be as good as you, but not everyone can write literary novels that win big book awards. Some of us just want to entertain people and have a little fun.” Although he wanted that to sound like a compliment, he also wanted to let Travis know he wasn’t a complete idiot just because he didn’t get his graduate degree in Iowa. The competition between them often equaled the love between them, which made moments like this more intense. They always seemed to be on the verge of a kiss or a slap in the face.
            And Travis always made sure he went insult for insult. He tapped Ethan’s messy manuscript and said, “And I’m sure I’ll have more than a little fun reading this.”
 
  

Gay Marriage Montgomery County, PA; Free Excerpt Small Town Romance Writer

Gay Marriage Montgomery County, PA

As most people know, same sex marriage in PA is still illegal in spite of the SCOTUS ruling this summer. In protest, D. Bruce Hanes, who is a Montgomery County Clerk, is straight, and has two children, started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples this summer.

From my earlier post:

Even though same sex marriage is still not legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County in PA issued marriage licenses to same sex couples today in defiance of the ban on same sex marriage. Tony and I live in Bucks County, PA, which is only a few miles from where the marriage licenses were issued, and it’s s significant move for those who issued the licenses and those who obtained them.

When I wrote that post I was still under the impression I lived in a highly progressive community that stood for equality and cared about being on the right side of history. However, in recent weeks the mayor of New Hope, PA, which has a large LGBT population and is only a few miles from Montgomery County, PA, decided to refuse marriage to same sex couples based on what many legal experts say are weak legal reasons. I posted several times about that.

Even though there are legalities involved here, sometimes it’s important to be on the right side of history in order to make a change. There was a time when people of African descent were not allowed to use the same bathrooms and water fountains as white people. Clearly, Mayor Keller doesn’t believe the issue of gay marriage is important enough to take a stand and challenge.

Today it will be decided whether or not Hanes acted illegally as county clerk by issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, and many people are watching this closely. Here’s a link to a local article.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court will consider whether Hanes acted illegally when he began doling out licenses to same-sex couples on July 24, one month after the U.S. Supreme Court declared part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. State attorneys have argued that the documents have no “value or legitimacy.” So far, Hanes has granted marriage paperwork to at least 157 gay couples.

If the court sides with Hanes, the ruling could bring same-sex marriage a step closer in Pennsylvania, the only Northeastern state that does not permit gays to marry or enter into civil unions. If the court rules in favor of the state, the marriage licenses Hanes issued could be rendered useless.

I have no idea what to predict, but I will post an update soon. Similar things have been happening in other states, too.

This week has seen a flurry of activity supporting the freedom to marry in New Mexico. Three counties in New Mexico have been ordered by district court judges to end marriage discrimination and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. County clerks in three additional counties have followed the lead of these rulings by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in their own counties. These huge steps forward in New Mexico this week bring renewed urgency to why we need the freedom to marry uniformly across the state – and, ultimately, why we need the freedom to marry nationwide.

Free Excerpt Small Town Romance Writer

Along with several other projects I’ve done this summer, I’ve also been working on the final book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, tentatively titled, “Small Town Romance Writer.” I know a lot of people will be looking for similarities of me in the book, but I never work that way and rarely ever insert anything autobiographical in my books. If and when I do this, I take bits and pieces from my life or my experiences and I embellish them to the point where they are beyond recognition. I think that’s important in writing fiction, because fiction should be larger than life. Otherwise it wouldn’t BE fiction.

The two main characters in this book are writers, but they are totally different writers. One writes erotic gay romance and figures out a way to make billions. The other writes literary gay fiction and he wins awards and gains prestige. The book starts out in 1990 and covers the course of their lives and their careers as authors for the next twenty years, where they experience every emotion there is from, jealousy to closure. I didn’t want the book to run over 80,000 words, but it wound up being 112,000 words…about 400 pages. Here’s an excerpt from the raw unedited version.

1990

           

            When former male stripper Ethan Holmes gained admission to The Iowa Writers’ Workshop he had the best of intentions. And while he often bragged to people it was the oldest and most celebrated writers’ workshop in the country, and he never failed to mention how difficult it was to get accepted, he often wondered in private how he would suffer through the intense academic two year residency requirement without losing his mind.

            By the end of his first year in the program the only two things that kept him in Iowa were his best friend, Travis Lane, and a guy he’d met over the summer, Lance Mannington.

            Ethan had met Travis Lane the day he’d started the program. At the time, Ethan hadn’t planned ahead for housing and he’d spent his first night in Iowa in a dumpy hotel off-campus. He was from a small town on Florida’s Gulf Coast and he’d always been able to find affordable housing as an undergrad student there. No one had mentioned to him that affordable on-campus housing at the University of Iowa was so scarce in September. He thought he’d show up the day he arrived, sign a lease, and everything would fall into place for him the way it usually did. He’d always been charmed that way, and he knew it. Evidently, all these people had planned ahead.

            On the first day of class, the other grad students all looked and sounded so aggressive and competitive Ethan wanted to hide behind a door. It didn’t take him long to realize this wasn’t small town Florida where he could get away with anything by flashing a seductive smile, opening his shirt a little, and moving his hips just the right way. When he overheard the female students discussing feminism and rape culture, he knew casual flirting with them wouldn’t get him anywhere. When he overheard the male students talking about gender politics in fiction he groaned aloud and turned in the other direction.

            Then Ethan spotted a young man standing in the corner leaning against the wall, glancing down at a thick book. He seemed to want to remain separate from the others. There was a green canvas backpack at his feet stuffed with books, and he seemed oblivious to his surroundings in a forced way no one would have noticed if they weren’t paying attention to him. While he looked at the book, his eyes kept darting up at the other students waiting to go into class, which Ethan found interesting. The guy wasn’t even reading the book; it could have been upside down. He was only pretending to read the book.

             This unusual guy stood about six feet tall, had a slim, lanky body, and his short, straight hair reminded Ethan of the wheat fields he’d seen on the bus driving through Iowa. He wore a crisp white button down shirt that day, and flat front khaki slacks that bunched up at the hem around his brown oxfords. When his eyes went up and he noticed Ethan staring at him, he looked down at the book so fast Ethan didn’t even get a chance to send him a smile.

            So Ethan walked over to him, with his hands in his pockets and his head held high. He’d worn his tightest jeans that day, the ones that made his crotch bulge. He hadn’t brought any books or materials to class because he hadn’t unpacked any of his things yet. He leaned back against the wall next to the nervous young man, and said, “Hey, man. I’m Ethan.” He extended his right hand. “It’s nice to meet you.”

            The young man hesitated for a moment, and then he shook Ethan’s hand and said, “I’m Travis Lane.” He spoke with a soft, cautious tone, as if he’d lost his voice.

            But Travis didn’t hesitate to look into Ethan’s eyes, which made Ethan feel more at ease. At least there didn’t seem to be anything fundamentally wrong with him.  “I was wondering if you could loan me a notebook and a pen, buddy,” Ethan said. “I just got here last night and I haven’t had time to unpack my shit yet. You should see the shithole hotel where I’m staying. I still don’t even know where I’m going to live yet.” He laughed and scratched the back of his head. “I guess I should have thought about that a while ago.”

            Travis sent him a look. His head jerked back a little and he asked, “You didn’t secure housing beforehand?”

            Ethan shrugged and smiled. “You know how it is, man. I figured I’d worry about it when I got here. I’m from a small town in Florida and it’s pretty easy to find digs where I come from.”

            Travis bent down and pulled a notebook and a pen from his overflowing backpack. He handed it to Ethan and said, “I waited a year to get my apartment in Hawkeye Court. Around here you really have to plan ahead for these things. Didn’t anyone tell you?”

            Ethan laughed. “I probably didn’t pay attention to them. You know how it is, man.”

            “Well you’re going to have a tough time now,” Travis said.  

            “Clearly,” Ethan said, taking the notebook and pen. “Thanks for letting me borrow these, bro. I appreciate it. I probably shouldn’t even be here in this program, but I figured I’d give it a shot since they admitted me.”

            “I don’t understand,” Travis said. “I worked hard to get accepted. I killed myself.”

            “Where are you from?” Ethan asked. He could see they’d come from two different worlds, but he wanted to make a point.

            “Connecticut,” Travis said. “I went to Yale and I’ve been planning to come here for the past four years. It was my only goal all through undergrad school. My mom and dad are both attorneys and they wanted me to be a lawyer but all I ever wanted to do was write. I had to get into this workshop; otherwise they would have made me go to law school. I wouldn’t have had a choice.”

            Ethan looked at him and smiled. “I’m from a small town on the Gulf coast of Florida. My mom’s a waitress and my dad’s a trucker, and neither one of them graduated from high school. I worked my way through undergrad school as a male stripper in both gay and straight strip clubs all over Florida. And I still don’t know how I got into this workshop. I heard about it one day last year and I figured I would apply and see what happened. I’m still shocked they let me in.”

            “Well you must be good,” Travis said. “They don’t just let anyone into this program.”

            “I guess they liked something I did,” Ethan said. He’d always been able to write and he’d never had to work hard at it.

            Although Travis didn’t seem stunned, he did tilt his head sideways and ask, “Do you want to be a writer?”

            Ethan shrugged. “I want to make a lot of money.”

            Travis laughed and said, “Well you can do that stripping. You don’t need The Iowa Writers’ Workshop. If I had your looks and your body, I might not be standing here right now myself.”

            That was when Ethan knew they were going to be friends. Though Travis looked like a tight-ass at a glance, he was far from it. Ethan looked him up and down and said, “You could strip with that ass. You wouldn’t starve to death. They love it when the smart looking guys pull down their pants. And you’re cute as fuck.” He made the remark about Travis being cute to see if he was gay. All of Ethan’s instincts told him Travis was gay but he wanted to be certain.

            Travis didn’t seem offended about the cute remark. His face turned a pale shade of pink and he said, “Well, thanks for the compliment, I think. But I think I’d better stick to writing. As it is, I still might starve to death doing that. At least that’s what my parents think will happen.” Then he stopped and hesitated for a second. He rubbed his jaw and thought as if he was choosing his words with caution. “I’m curious,” he said. “Are you gay? I am; just so you know.”
            Ethan didn’t mind the bluntness of that question, and he had come to terms with being gay when he was in high school. But he liked to play games, especially with someone who asked such a direct question without knowing anything about him. He shrugged and said, “What if I said I don’t like labels?”
            Travis lifted his eyebrows and said, “Then I would think you are mostly likely gay and you’re not ready to admit it aloud, or you are still lying to yourself. Your type is always like that.”

            “My type?” Ethan laughed at his innocence.

            “The rough-looking, straight dude who can pass whenever he wants to pass as straight,” Travis said. “Your type likes to hold out for a while.”

            “Well you would be wrong,” Ethan said. “As it happens, I’m into dudes and I have no problem admitting it aloud to anyone. If anything, my problem is that I’m into dudes a little too much. I can’t stop thinking about anything but men.” He glanced at a young woman in the hall with long flat, dark hair parted in the middle and he frowned. She wore a gray plaid skirt and black ballerina slippers. She didn’t have ankles, and her legs reminded Ethan of tree trunks. There were so many flawed people in the world he found it exasperating sometimes. “From the way it looks, all I’m going to be doing is thinking about men, because I haven’t seen a single man or woman yet that’s even halfway hot enough to actually fuck.”

            Travis blinked. “Well thanks.”

            Ethan patted him on the back. “Present company excluded,” he said. “I should have said that you’re the only cute guy I’ve seen since I got off the bus in Iowa.”

            “You’re full of shit,” Travis said.

            “Sometimes,” Ethan said. “But you are hot.”

            “What about beauty from within?” Travis asked. “Doesn’t that count for something? I like to think it does.”

            “That’s what yourtype always says,” Ethan said.

            “My type?”

            “The good-hearted elitist who cares about issues and all of humanity,” Ethan said. “You’re only fooling yourselves, and you’re the first ones to jump into the sack with the first hot piece that comes along.”

            Before Travis had a chance to reply, the other students began filing into the classroom and Ethan turned to join them. Travis followed him, and Ethan and Travis sat next to each other that first day.  After class they went out for coffee, where Ethan made sure he pulled Travis’s chair out on purpose. Even though they came from completely different worlds, they balanced each other in a natural way and finding things to talk about never seemed to be an issue. Ethan couldn’t believe his luck once again, so on the way out of the coffee shop he asked if he could see where Travis lived and Travis brought him to the small on-campus apartment he’d rented.

            It wasn’t much of an apartment, but the moment he walked inside Ethan knew it was better than the shabby hotel room where he’d spent the night. There was an open floor plan that had a living, dining, and kitchen area. In the back, there was one medium sized bedroom with a double bed, a closet large enough for two people, and a basic bathroom with a shower and a tub. Although nothing was elaborate, and the gray carpets and old white bathroom tiles had been around since the disco era, Ethan didn’t want to let this opportunity slip away without doing something about it.




U of Iowa Free Writing Workshop

U of Iowa Free Writing Workshop

Someone sent me this link earlier today and I wanted to post about it before I forget. The University of Iowa is offering a free online writers workshop that looks very interesting. I haven’t seen anything like this before from them.

The University of Iowa is offering a free online creative writing workshop for emerging fiction writers, from Sept. 16th to Oct. 28th. The workshop consists of seven online live sessions with seasoned literary writer and author Nate Brown. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Mississippi Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Wag’s Revue (and many others). He currently serves as Deputy Director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

Connected via the Internet, writers will join as an online writer’s group to discuss and share their own work while learning proven techniques to improve and hone their craft. Each weekly session will center on one specific component of fiction writing such as character-building, plot-making, story-setting, conflict, POV, descriptive writing, and developing scenes.

Interested writers who want to participate must submit a resume, statement of purpose, and a writing sample before Sept. 6, 2013. Writers with no prior publishing credits are eligible. Only 15 writers will be accepted.

And this is the University of Iowa, with the storied Writers’ Workshop that some people will do anything to get into. I’m not a total snob about schools (just a partial snob), but when I hear that someone was part of the Writers’ Workshop I tend to get a thrill up my leg that’s hard to explain.

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a two-year residency program which culminates in the submission of a creative thesis (a novel, a collection of stories, or a book of poetry) and the awarding of a Master of Fine Arts degree.

For more than 75 years emerging writers have come to Iowa City to work on their manuscripts and to exchange ideas about writing and reading with each other and with the faculty. Many of them have gone on to publish award-winning work after graduating. With the spirit of an arts colony and the benefits of the research University of which we are a part, the Writers’ Workshop continues to foster and to celebrate American literature in all its varied forms.

In my 8th and final novel in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, I set a good part of the book in Iowa because the two main characters both meet and fall in love at The Iowa Writers’ Workshop. It’s a very prestigious program, and not simple to get into by any means. Many excellent authors have been graduated from there, and I have a gay nephew in med school at U of Iowa right now. So I wanted to add this to the book, especially because the book will be titled, “The Small Town Romance Writer.” The only issue I’ve had so far with this book is that it’s turning out to be much longer than I’d expected. This one will be over 110,000 words, which is far longer than what I usually do. But the book begins and ends in Iowa.

In any event, check out the link I’ve provided above about the online workshop. I’m a growing fan of all higher education online, and I think with rising tuition costs most people will be looking into this more in the future.