And Now for My Next Trick: Update on Upcoming Books and Other Insanity

My local RWA chapter does a time capsule each year, wherein every member writes down some things s/he hopes to accomplish in the next year. We put the pieces of paper in a box and don’t look at them again until a year later. I was surprised to see that I’d actually done just about everything I’d set out to in 2014. Well, “get organized” was and is perpetually on my list, but I did sit down in September to map out the next six to eight months of writing. (At BEA last year, Tere Michaels said to me, “So what’s next for you?” and when I said, “Uh…” she said, “You should always have an answer to that question.” So I try to keep that in mind.)

I’m currently about a month behind schedule, though.

I believe in plans. If I’m going to make a go of writing as a career—something I want very much—I have to have a plan, because going about it haphazardly will likely lead to me living in a cardboard box under the Manhattan Bridge.

But life. Oh, how life intervenes sometimes.

I figured I’d take a little time out to talk about some of the all-out insanity of the last few months and what I’ve got on deck, partly to explain my occasional absences from social media and to let you all know what I’m working on, and partly just to write about it.

This is a long post, but I hope you’ll read to the end. I buried the lead on some news.

• My non-writing career stuff got complicated in 2014 when the company I work for by day laid off half its staff in the spring. Figuring I’d probably get laid off in the fall, I hung up my freelance shingle again in July. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve worked in publishing for years and have long done editorial freelance on the side, but I’d taken a two-year hiatus to focus on writing. Well, as soon as I hung the shingle, I got two regular clients, which was great! Financial security is always good! But they kept me BUSY all through the fall. And then I didn’t get laid off after all. So mostly I just worked. A lot. I need to make some changes in 2015, and I will, though my plan is not concrete just yet.

• Personal: My uncle, my mother’s brother, passed away in December after a long battle with cancer. I’d been mentally preparing for this for a while, but everyone thought he had a few more months left, so it still felt sudden. I went down to visit family for a week, which was nice but also incredibly sad. He was a really great man.

New cat, keeping my writing notes warm.

New cat, keeping my writing notes warm.

My mother has been having a difficult time with things—not just this but a bunch of other stuff, too—so I spent a lot of November and December with her. She’s getting ready to move out of her apartment and probably out of New York for at least a little while, and so her cat has moved in with me indefinitely. So now I have two cats. Which is why my Twitter is kind of All Cats All the Time lately.

The family stuff and the cats and my freelance work schedule all hitting at the same time was really tough. It was also an opportunity to put things in perspective. I’ve seen a lot of the flame-outs and community drama on social media recently—side effect of sitting at a desk all day and having a short attention span, I guess—and I understand how easy it is to get caught up in it, but I also decided over the holidays that I was going to blow off the Internet and spend time with family. My uncle’s passing brought home for me that my parents are aging and won’t be around forever, so I should make more time for them, for example. I want to make more time for what’s important to me, which is primarily my family—both biological and chosen—and my writing. So that’s where I’m focusing my energy right now.

• Other stuff: I just finished out my year as president of Rainbow Romance Writers, but in the meantime got myself elected to the Board of the New York City chapter of RWA (as vice president of programs). So I’m doing that, too.

• And so onto the writing:

• An obvious highlight in what was otherwise a completely crappy December was the release of When the Planets Align. I spent the week before its release in Georgia with my family, so it felt weird and a little inappropriate to beat the promotion drum too loudly under the circumstances.

Still, I got a lot of the blog tour stuff written before I left for the funeral, so I hope people found out about the book. This is a challenging book. I predicted critical response would be mixed. The story is told nonlinearly. When I was about halfway through the first draft, I ran into a post on Facebook that was basically, “These are all the romance tropes I hate the most!” and Planets includes almost all of them. I wasn’t at all sure how the Joan character would be received, because she’s not really a villain but she is an obstacle between the characters and their happily ever after, and she was really hard to write. I’m glad to see reviews are mostly favorable, but I also recognize this is not a book for everyone. I hope those of you who do decide to buy it enjoy it!

• My primary goal for 2014 was to finish writing the first three books in my upcoming baseball series, called the Rainbow League. I did actually accomplish that, as of about a week ago. That was not an easy thing. I aim to write 2+ books a year, but here, I wrote 3 full novels over the course of 14 months, on top of everything else. (I also finished Planets and wrote the first drafts of two entirely new novels, for what it’s worth. That is a superhuman amount of work, and I’m frankly astonished I actually accomplished it. Look, I’m here to tell you, if you really want something, you’ll figure out how to make it happen. I figured it out. I wanted to tell these stories. I made the time to do it.)

I’m working on first edits now for Book 1. It’s called The Windup. This is the rare book where I, uh, hit it out of the park in the first draft. (Sorry, expect a lot of baseball metaphors in 2015.) I often do a lot of rewriting and adding and moving when I revise—and I love revising, I really do, I think it’s the editor in me—but The Windup went to the publisher polished and trimmed but not substantially different from that first draft. It’s good, I think; I like this book a lot at any rate. I paired up a character who suffers from an anxiety disorder but is open about his life and his flaws with someone who is cool and outgoing but keeps his emotions and anxieties close to the vest. So they have to find some middle ground. While playing baseball together.

I threw up a placeholder page for the series that will contain more information and some fun stuff starting in the second half of February. I’m aiming to launch some of the preliminary stuff starting the week pitchers and catchers report for MLB duty. The first book is scheduled to come out in April.

• What of the other two books I mentioned? Well, those are first drafts, which means they still need to be put through the revision wringer before I’ll call them finished manuscripts. The first, a new adult novel that is kinda sorta but not really a gay-for-you story, is almost there. The second, a historical set in NYC in the Gilded age and already contracted with Kensington for 2016, is waiting for my attention in the queue. I haven’t looked at it since I finished the first draft in early December. So those are my immediate next projects.

• Today I also plan to start reading The Boy Next Door for preparation to finally, finally write the sequel for Neal. It’s in my six-month plan and everything. I mean it this time. Note that TBND is about to come out of contract and will likely be out of print for part of this year, but hopefully a shiny new edition will be out soon. Stay tuned for more info on that.

• I have a couple of other books I want to write this year, so the good news is that there will be more Kate stuff for the foreseeable future.

So that’s the long-winded version of what’s going on with me. I hope you all are doing well and keeping busy. :)

The Newsletter!

Hear it first in your inbox! Just a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter. I’m aiming to send it out once a month on the first Tuesday and then again on release days for new books. This month’s has news about new translations and audiobooks and an upcoming event to celebrate my series that will be coming out starting this April. Sign up here!

Subscribe to my mailing list

* indicates required




“Si esto fuera una película”

ChowA fan was kind enough to translate my freebie story “If This Were a Movie” into Spanish. If you want to read the story en Español, read on! And thank you to Lady Sade/Vraion!

PDF Download: “Si esto fuera una película”

La vida de Kyle pasó por delante de sus ojos cuando vio que un perro grande como un oso se acercaba galopando en su dirección a una velocidad alarmante. La bestia era todo pelaje marrón, dientes y babas, e iba disparado hacia Kyle, tan rápido que este no pudo arreglárselas para mover sus pies.

—Oh dios mío, oh dios mío, oh dios mío…

Al principio, Kyle no captó que la intensa invocación a la deidad no provenía de él, si no de los labios del hombre que corría a máxima velocidad detrás del perro.

¿Era una estampida?

Kyle acabó tumbado boca arriba, con el peso pesado de aquel oso sobre él, y la cara llena de lengua.
La tierra voló cuando el hombre que perseguía al perro lo alcanzó y derrapó hasta frenar.

—Tiny, no. No, Tiny. Bájate del simpático señor.

El perro parecía inamovible.

Kyle hizo acopio de todas sus facultades, lo suficiente como para mover las manos intentando apartar la lengua del perro, sin conectar porque este levantó la cabeza, apartándola. Por lo demás, el animal se acomodó sobre el cuerpo de Kyle como si Kyle fuera un almohadón grande de terciopelo y el perro gigante fuera una delicada princesa. Kyle suspiró y dejó caer su cabeza sobre el césped. Levantó la vista.

Vaya, hola. El dueño del oso era un hombre alto, moreno, ligeramente desaliñado con un cuerpo esculpido en el gimnasio. Sus músculos se flexionaron cuando tiró de la correa del perro, aunque el perro parecía determinado a no moverse.

—Vamos, Tiny —dijo el hombre.

Si el peso del perro no hubiera estado aplastando sus pulmones, Kyle podría haber encontrado gracioso el hecho de que aquel peculiarmente enorme perro se llamara Tiny (diminuto), pero tal y como estaban las cosas, a Kyle le preocupaba que su esternón estuviera a punto de ceder.

—Lo siento mucho —dijo el hombre—. Él no suele actuar así. No sé qué es lo que le ha dado…

Con la misma rapidez con la que Kyle había sido aplanado como un panqué sobre el césped, Tiny el Oso perdió el interés, se levantó y se marchó.

Kyle respiró profundamente.

—Eh, ¿necesitas ayuda?

Kyle levantó la vista y vio al guapo propietario del oso extendiendo la mano para ayudarlo. Kyle se permitió brevemente fantasear con que el sol se asomaba directamente por detrás de la cabeza del hombre como un halo, y las nubes se apartaban, y los ángeles cantaban. En realidad, ninguna de esas cosas pasó, pero el hombre era bastante encantador. Kyle estiró el brazo y se permitió se ayudado a ponerse de pies.

—Entonces, esto… —intentó Kyle, quedándose sin palabras por el atractivo hombre, que le sonrió. Señor, tenía una sonrisa preciosa.

—Soy Chris— dijo el tipo—. Y este es Tiny, aunque probablemente ya lo sepas.

—El nombre más lógico para un oso con correa es Tiny.

Chris sonrió.

—Eso es lo que pensé. En realidad, es de raza Chow Chow. ¿No es así, chico? —Chris alargó el brazo y rascó a Tiny entre las orejas—. Y creo que le gustas.

—Supongo. —Kyle miró al perro, sintiéndose desconcertado, sin entender qué acababa de pasar.

—Entonces, ¿vives por aquí? —preguntó Chris.

—Sí, solo estaba acortando por el parque para ir a casa desde el trabajo. ¿Y tú?

—Ajá, Tiny y yo acabamos de mudarnos, a unos pocos edificios en dirección oeste.

Kyle no sabía qué decir. Aún estaba nervioso por haber sido derribado por un perro, pero Chris era tan guapo que Kyle no estaba listo para dejarle ir. Chris acarició a su perro y sonrió. Tenía aquella bonita línea de barba de varios días en su barbilla, el cabello un poco desaliñado, y en verdad tenía un aspecto delicioso. Kyle intentó no mirarle fijamente.

—De verdad que lo siento —dijo Chris—. Nunca le había visto hacer esto antes.

—Parece que estoy bien. —Kyle se sacudió el polvo del trasero y de la parte posterior de sus muslos. Tiró de su camiseta para que cualquier resto de tierra y césped cayera. Le sonrió a Chris, que a su vez le devolvió la sonrisa.

Sus ojos se encontraron por un momento.

—¿Sabes? —dijo Kyle, después de dejar que el momento se disipara—. Si esto fuera una comedia romántica cursi, esta sería la escena en la que la pareja tiene un encuentro fortuito. Lo más seguro es que habrá un gran mal entendido o algo que separará a la pareja más adelante, pero acabarán juntos al final. Y todo el tiempo, el perro supo que estaban predestinados después de todo.

Chris rió, lo que era bueno. Kyle no sabía si era gay (lo sospechaba, basándose en lo ceñido de su camiseta, aunque eso era un indicador poco preciso), pero había hecho la broma sin pensar. Culpaba el hecho de haber sido asaltado por un perro.

Un perro que ahora se sentaba obedientemente a los pies de Chris y agitaba su cola, con la boca abierta. Kyle no creía que los perros sonrieran, pero este parecía estar sonriendo.

—Pero con tíos —dijo Chris.

—¿Cómo?

—Si protagonizáramos una comedia romántica en la que mi perro orquestara un encuentro fortuito, de lo que estoy bastante seguro es lo que acaba de pasar, sería una comedia romántica con dos tíos.

—¿A quién le importa? —preguntó Kyle, aún sintiéndose aturdido.

—Bueno, a mí no. Eres guapo. ¿Quieres tomar una taza de café conmigo?

Años después, cuando el pobre Tiny tenía artritis, Kyle empleó unos buenos diez minutos intentando fijar un morral al collar del perro.

—Estate quieto, chico. Solo necesito que…

—¿Cariño? —llamó Chris, tocando a la puerta—. ¿Me estás dejando plantado?

—No. Aún estoy intentando que esto…

Tiny resopló y se acostó en el suelo, colocando sus patas delante de él. Por supuesto. Kyle terminó la tarea y se puso de pie.

Abrió la puerta para encontrarse con la mirada preocupada de Chris.

—No estoy seguro de que se suponga que nos veamos —dijo Kyle.

—No me importa. ¿Qué estás haciendo?

—Arreglando el oso que llevará el anillo.

Tiny trotó hacia Chris y le ladró.

—¿Te refieres al portador del anillo?

—Nones, oso. Lo dije bien la primera vez.

© 2014 Kate McMurray
Traducido por: Lady Sade/Vraion

Meet Michael and Simon from When the Planets Align!

Meet Michael and Simon!

When the Planets Align Michael

Michael Reeves

When the Planets Align Simon

Simon Newell

Michael is outgoing and confident, but a bit scatterbrained. Simon is shy but smart and practical. Their friendship has endured despite their differences, but now they’re at a crossroads: when Simon returns to New York City after running around the world and away from Michael for a few years, how do they reconcile and build a new relationship?

When the Planets Align is the story of the relationship between Simon and Michael over about fifteen years of friendship, in which they care for each other, hurt each other, and fall in love with each other.

You can buy it now from most bookstores.

Dreamspinner Press (25% off until December 25!)
Amazon
All Romance eBooks

When the Planets Align is now available!

Out today from Dreamspinner Press:

When the Planets Align

When the Planets Align

Best friends Michael Reeves and Simon Newell always lived within ten minutes of each other, but somehow they’re never in the same place at the same time.

Brash, outgoing Michael’s unwavering confidence that he and Simon are meant to be carries him through some hard times. When Simon moves to New York, Michael dutifully follows. Quiet, practical Simon loves Michael as a dear friend, but he’s not ready for anything romantic.

Several years and several failed relationships later, Simon realizes he’s been in love with Michael all along. Only now Michael has moved on. Though Simon offers everything Michael’s ever dreamed of, the timing is all wrong. Confusion, betrayal, and secrets from the past threaten their friendship until it might be time for them to go their separate ways. Or maybe the planets will finally align, and Michael and Simon will find themselves in the right place at the right time to take the next step.

Available now from your favorite bookstore! eBook | Paperback

When the Planets Align Blog Tour [Complete]

When the Planets Align Blog Tour

Check out all the stops on the When the Planets Align Blog Tour. This is a mix of interviews, original guest posts by yours truly, excerpts, and giveaways. I’ll update this post with links as the posts go live. I hope you’ll drop by a few of the stops on the tour!

Dec 16 Boys In Our Books
Dec 17 It’s About the Book
Dec 18 The Blogger Girls
Dec 19 Romance at Random
Dec 19 Joyfully Jay
Dec 22 The Novel Approach
Dec 23 Diverse Reader
Dec 23 ARe Café
Dec 29 Prism Book Alliance

“Let Your Heart Be Light” (12 Days of Christmakwanzakah)

12 Days of ChristmakwanzakahThis little flash story is part of the 12 Days of Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop. For a full list of stories posted during the hop, check here or here.

“Let Your Heart Be Light”

snowflakelinebreak

Milo was living the dream.

That was, he had come to New York City with not much more than a fuzzy plan and forty bucks in his pocket and somehow had managed to eke out an existence by sharing an apartment, working two jobs, living on a diet of mostly ramen and peanut butter on Wonder Bread, and feeling exhausted all the time. Still, he’d made it to New York, something he’d been wanting to do since the age of twelve when he first saw a TV show set there and thought, “I’ll get there some day.”

And now here he was, spending a Friday night staring at the one bulb that had burned out in the string of Christmas lights one of his roommates had put up around the perimeter of the living room, surmising that he’d very likely be spending the holidays with the mouse who lived in the cupboard because all of his roommates had families to go to, but Milo could not afford the flight home.

Shane, the beefcake ex-football player who lived in the bedroom adjacent to Milo’s, came into the living room and said, “Bro.”

“I know,” said Milo.

“It’s karaoke night at Franklin Station. I’m meeting Ellie there.”

“Uh-huh.”

Shane sighed. “Come with us, dude.”

Milo sat up a little straighter on the sofa. “It’s cute that you think I can just conjure up money to go to a bar. I need my last twelve dollars to feed myself, thanks.”

“I’ll buy you a beer.”

“Fine.” Milo peeled himself off the sofa and looked down at his clothes. He was still wearing the black polo and unfortunately pleated pants that were his uniform at the restaurant where he waited tables. “Uh, let me put on some less dorky clothes.”

When they arrived at the bar, there was a balding guy singing “Piano Man” on the low stage at the back of the bar, and maybe a dozen other people milling about. Someone had put silver tinsel garlands and blinky colored lights around the stage. Shane’s girlfriend Ellie was leaning against the bar, sipping from a pint glass. “Hi, boys,” she said. She gestured to a girl standing next to her with short dark hair and big glasses. “This is my friend Liz.”

Milo shook Liz’s hand. She smiled at him beatifically.

Shane ordered two beers and handed one to Milo, who took the glass gratefully. The beer was dark and bitter, not quite what Milo would have ordered for himself, but then, the taps were a confusion of carved animal figures and brands Milo had never heard of. Like many of the bars around Milo’s Brooklyn apartment, this place catered to a specific rising class of hipster twenty-somethings who liked the unique and obscure. Which made Shane look a little out of place, actually; by rights he should have been butting heads with other guys who looked like linebackers at a sports bar.

Shane immediately got to work flipping through the songbooks and recording his choices on the little paper slips that came with the purchase of a drink. Then he looked over at Milo. “Hey, bro, you want in on this?”

Milo walked over and flipped through the songbook, which was as thick as a dictionary. He was overwhelmed by the number of choices. Shane handed him his last slip and a pen, so Milo decided to choose his one song carefully. While he was looking, Shane handed his other choices to the DJ and, up on stage, a girl in a very short skirt broke into a thin rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock.”

“I hate this time of year,” said the DJ.

Liz sauntered over to Milo and said, “So you’re Shane’s roommate, huh? Ellie was right, you are really cute.”

“Also gay,” Milo said. “I mean, just so we’re on the same page.”

The DJ cleared his throat. “Blondie, you’re up next.”

Shane ran up to the stage as the opening lick of “Sweet Child of Mine” resonated through the bar. Milo groaned, having forgotten that Shane loved Guns n Roses. Shane even did the Axl Rose dance, swaying his big body on his feet as he sang.

“What a dork,” said Ellie. “You pick a song?”

“I think so,” said Milo. Normally, a karaoke song wouldn’t be the key to the whole night, but he couldn’t afford to buy another drink, so this really was his one shot. He handed the slip to the DJ.

snowflakelinebreak

A blond dude was screeching like Axl Rose from the stage when Aaron walked into the bar. He did a quick scan for Liz and found her stroking the bicep of some guy—albeit some really hot guy—so he walked toward her. He caught her eye just as the blond dude on stage was tacking some unneeded melisma onto “mi-i-i-ine” at the end of the song.

“Oh, Aaron!” said Liz, grabbing Aaron’s arm.

In his peripheral vision, he saw the blond dude hop off the stage and hand the mike to a brown-haired girl who looked like Liz’s friend Ellie. She started to sing a Fleetwood Mac song, so yeah, definitely Ellie. She had a bright, high voice totally unsuited to the Stevie Nicks catalog and yet that was always her karaoke go-to.

The blond dude was headed toward Aaron and Liz. Oh, right. He was Ellie’s hulk of a boyfriend. But who was this hot guy with the lean face and the chin and all that thick brown hair?

“So how are you doing?” Liz asked, her face all sympathy.

“I’m all right,” said Aaron. He didn’t want to linger on the fact that his father had lost his fight with cancer a month before. The wound still felt too raw. Mostly, he’d spent the three weeks since the funeral going out as often as possible to avoid having to think about how he’d never see one of the most important people in his life ever again. Karaoke had seemed just the thing when Liz suggested it.

When Liz pouted at him and tilted her head, he turned to the bartender and ordered a beer.

“Oh, Aaron,” Liz said. “You know Ellie’s boyfriend Shane. This is his roommate… Miles.”

“Milo,” said the really hot guy. He extended his hand toward Aaron.

So Aaron shook it. Milo’s hand was warm and calloused. On closer examination, Milo seemed too thin, too tired, too scruffy, and yet there was something endearing about that. Aaron met Milo’s gaze and for a brief moment he imagined he had just encountered a kindred spirit, someone who wanted this damned year to just end already so he could start anew in the next.

Or, well, Milo had really pretty eyes, kind of green in the light of the bar.

Ellie tried to get everyone at the bar to sing along about the chain, but no one was really biting. She finished off and descended into the audience, looking flush and happy. Shane threw an arm around her.

“Uh, Milo? You’re next,” said the DJ.

Milo shot Aaron what could only be interpreted as a self-deprecating grin and then grabbed the mike from the DJ on the way to the stage. The opening piano tinkles of the song sounded familiar, but it wasn’t until Milo crooned, “Have yourself a merry little Christmas,” that Aaron fell in love.

Milo’s voice was soft and rich, like honey, but more forceful when he got to the crescendos. The second verse was what really got to Aaron. Milo winked when he sang, “Make the Yuletide gay,” which told Aaron everything he needed to know about Milo’s orientation, but then Milo closed his eyes and sang about troubles being miles away.

If only.

Liz walked up and nudged Aaron’s arm with her shoulder. “He’s great, right? Ellie’s been talking him up for weeks. Said Shane had a gay roommate who was cute as a button, and I just knew I had to introduce you.”

Aaron raised an eyebrow at Liz. “You know, just because two guys are gay doesn’t mean they’re meant to be together. You hadn’t even met him until tonight, had you?”

Liz shrugged.

“I’d be more mad if he wasn’t adorable,” Aaron said.

On stage, Milo was still singing, his voice ringing out over the growing crowd at the bar and warming up Aaron down to his toes. A hush came over the rest of those gathered as everyone stopped to listen. How could they not? Milo had some serious talent.

This year had sucked, no doubt about that. But in Milo, Aaron was suddenly seeing possibilities.

snowflakelinebreak

When Milo walked back to the bar, that guy Aaron was still there, and he was smiling. Aaron was no-joke hot, all curly brown hair and a chiseled jaw and probably there were serious ab muscled under his dark-red sweater.

Back on stage, some dude started belting out “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a tone-deaf, growly way. Milo winced.

“They’re not all Sinatra,” Aaron said.

“No, I guess not.”

Aaron looked Milo over. “Can I ask, what made you want to sing a Christmas song?”

Milo glanced back at the stage. Why had he chosen it? He hadn’t known exactly why at the time, just when he’d seen the song listed, it seemed perfect. “Homesickness? I don’t know. I can’t afford to fly back to see my family this year, so I’m trying to fit in the holiday spirit where I can.” He smiled. “Plus, my mom had this recording of Judy Garland singing that song, and I know it’s a total gay cliché, but I loved it. That’s one of my favorite holiday songs.”

“You sang it well.”

“Thanks.” Milo felt the flush come to his cheeks. “And you? What will you sing?”

“Undecided. Or I might ditch this crowd and go somewhere else.”

“Oh.” Milo’s disappointment was a palpable thing. Which was crazy because he’d known this Aaron guy for all of ten minutes. But there was a spark here, or something, some little bit of magic that Milo wanted to explore.

“You could come with me,” Aaron said with a smile.

“Honey, why didn’t you say so. Let’s go.”

snowflakelinebreak

They walked. It was cold out, but Aaron barely felt it because he was too busy concentrating on every word that came out of Milo’s mouth. Because Milo was sweet with a sassy edge, because he worked his ass off to live in the city of his dreams, because his holidays were on the verge of being ruined but he hadn’t given up hope yet.

Aaron had lived in the neighborhood for a few years, so he pointed things out to Milo: the bars and restaurants he liked, the coffee shops he frequented, the nondescript bagel place that sold the best donuts anywhere. He showed Milo the vintage store that sold clothes for cheap and the schoolyard that hosted a flea market on the weekends.

As they got to Grand Army Plaza, Milo was saying again that he was a little sad he couldn’t see his family for Christmas, so Aaron said, “My friend Christine does this orphans’ pot-luck thing on Christmas. All the people who can’t go home gather at her house. I went last year because…” And then Aaron remembered.

“Because…” Milo said.

“Well, my father was sick, so my parents spent the holidays in the hospital. Mom told me not to come home because she didn’t want me to see Dad that way.” Aaron’s voice caught. He tried to swallow the emotions that threatened to burst out of him. Quietly, he added, “He died a month ago.”

Milo clapped a hand over his mouth. “Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry. You must be devastated.”

Aaron nodded.

Before he really understood what was happening, his face was pressed against the scratchy wool of Milo’s coat, but then he sighed and sank into the hug, because he needed it.

He pulled away gently and took Milo’s hand. He didn’t know what was really happening here, but he thought it was the beginning of something important.

He gestured toward the Christmas tree under the arch in the middle of the plaza. “That thing is here every year. It’s not real, obviously.”

Milo squinted in the direction of the weird electric tree that faded from blue to purple to pink as they watched. “There’s something deliciously tacky about it.”

Aaron laughed. “Yeah, I always thought so, too. And over there is what is allegedly the world’s largest menorah.”

Milo turned around and looked at the menorah. “That’s it? Really? It’s not even that big.”

Aaron squeezed Milo’s hand.

And then, in the neon color-changing light that bounced off their faces from the deliciously tacky Grand Army Plaza Christmas tree, Milo smiled and cupped Aaron’s face. “You feel it too, right? I’m not crazy?”

“You’re not crazy.”

So Milo kissed Aaron and Christmas became a little bit merrier.

2014 Rainbow Awards!

Wow! I’m so honored to have received the following:

WinnerMD Winner! The Playing Ball anthology I worked in with Shae Connor, Marguerite Labbe, and Kerry Freeman won first place in the LGBT anthology category! The anthology features my first foray into historical, “One Man to Remember,” a romance between a rookie baseball player and a sports reporter set in the Jazz Age.

I’ve been a runner-up before but never a winner. It is pretty fantastic to share the win with my fellow baseball-fan writers and friends! The anthology was a lot of fun to put together. I’m beside myself that it won the award.

HonorableMentionSM The Silence of the Stars won an honorable mention (that means the book received a score of 36 or above (out of 40) from at least one judge).

It was also the runner up (10th place) for the The William Neale Award for Best Gay Contemporary Romance. That was a big, tough category—many really amazing books!—and I’m thrilled to have made the list of finalists.

Bonus: I was a judge for Lesbian Contemporary General Fiction, and this was also a pretty strong field. If you’re looking for a good lesbian read, you can’t really go wrong with any of these.

Here are all the winners! Congratulations to all!

When the Planets Align is available for pre-order!

When_the_Planets_Align_FINAL_FlatYou can now pre-order your very own copy of When the Planets Align!

From Dreamspinner Press: eBook | Paperback

Or you can add it on Goodreads!

About the Book:

Best friends Michael Reeves and Simon Newell always lived within ten minutes of each other, but somehow they’re never in the same place at the same time.

Brash, outgoing Michael’s unwavering confidence that he and Simon are meant to be carries him through some hard times. When Simon moves to New York, Michael dutifully follows. Quiet, practical Simon loves Michael as a dear friend, but he’s not ready for anything romantic.

Several years and several failed relationships later, Simon realizes he’s been in love with Michael all along. Only now Michael has moved on. Though Simon offers everything Michael’s ever dreamed of, the timing is all wrong. Confusion, betrayal, and secrets from the past threaten their friendship until it might be time for them to go their separate ways. Or maybe the planets will finally align, and Michael and Simon will find themselves in the right place at the right time to take the next step.

Available December 19!

Also, there will be blog touring. More info on that after Thanksgiving!

PlanetsBlogTour

Free Story: “If This Were a Movie”

ChowI wrote a story for the Dreamspinner Press newsletter, which you can read at the Dreamspinner blog. It’s a flash fiction meet cute involving two guys in the park and a very big dog (illustrated here). So if you need a little romance today, check it out.

This is as good a time as any to point out that all of my freebies can be found under the “free stories” tab in the menu bar up top.