Baseball Monday: Out in the Field Epilogue

Baseball MondaysIn light of it both being Pride weekend in NYC and the recent Supreme Court ruling, I thought it might be fun to revisit some old friends, and so today, I give you a little epilogue with Matt and Iggy from Out in the Field.

Matt lingered in bed, enjoying the sun streaming in through the window and nothing in particular on his agenda for the day. Maybe he’d read a book or take a walk, or maybe he’d just sleep another hour; there was no rush on anything.

He wasn’t even that sore. Well, he was a little sore, especially through his legs, probably from all the jumping and cheering he’d done when the high school kids he’d been coaching had won the city-wide baseball finals. And, since today was technically the last day of school, he was done coaching for a while, unless he decided to get involved with Little League or something over the summer. Iggy had been encouraging him to do just that. He’d grumbled about getting old and needing some time off, but he knew perfectly well he coped better with Iggy’s time away during the baseball season by keeping busy. So, yeah, maybe he’d look into a coaching gig for the summer now that the academic year was over. He’d worry about that tomorrow, because right now, he was drifting back to sleep.

Just as he was slipping into dreamworld, though, there was a crash at the front door. Matt jerked up in bed, convinced the apartment was being broken into. He was about to scramble out of bed and grab a bat or something when he heard, “Matt! Matt, oh my god, Matt! Where are you?”

“Bedroom. Jesus, Iggy, you scared the shit out of me.”

Iggy appeared at the bedroom doorway with a sheepish grin. “Sorry. Well, not really. Have you heard the news?”

“What news? I just woke up.” Matt stretched his arms and wondered if he should bother to lay back down. “Shouldn’t you be at practice?”

“Fuck practice. This is more important.”

Matt spared a thought for what on earth could have Iggy this wound up, but instead patted Iggy’s side of the bed and said, “All right. Tell me.”

Iggy smiled, so clearly it wasn’t bad news. He sat on the bed and put a hand on Matt’s thigh. “Babe, the Supreme Court ruling was just announced. We won!”

Through the haze of sleepy misunderstanding, Matt stared at Iggy until he remembered that the Court was supposed to have ruled on marriage equality. “Wait, what? We won?”

“It’s unconstitutional to ban us from marrying each other. Not just here in New York, but across all fifty states. Can you believe that? Did you ever think you’d see the day?”

“No. I really didn’t.” It was overwhelming. Matt’s heart raced as he thought about it. But then, the world had changed so fast. When Matt had retired from the game, coming out publicly seemed inconceivable. But now Iggy was out and proud and still an active player. He got some shit for it in some stadiums, but the Eagles organization made it clear that they always had his back. They’d even issued tee-shirts just that season that showed the Eagles’ logo done in a rainbow. Fans could purchase Rodriguez jerseys (and faux vintage Blanco journeys, even) with pride messages or rainbow flags on them.

Matt had been following the news. He and Iggy had talked quite a bit when the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. But Matt was still adjusting his expectations. He was a gay man in his forties, after all, and he’d spent most of his life hiding that he was gay; marriage had never felt like it was in the cards. Not even after the state of New York had ruled it legal.

He looked at Iggy, who was still smiling ear to ear. “It’s really…” Matt tried. Then he shook his head. “I mean, across the United States. All of the states. Gay couples can get married?”

Out in the Field“Yup. I mean, I imagine there will be some resistance in some states, you know, but it’s… I had pushed the whole thing out of my mind. I was worried the Court would rule with the appeals court and the bans would be upheld, and I didn’t want to think about that, so I had pushed it aside. We’ve got that series against the Sox starting tonight, which is what I really should be thinking about, and Bill is going to kill me, but… I got an alert on my phone just as I was raising my hand to hail a cab to the stadium, so I came back because I had to tell you in person.”

Matt closed his eyes for a moment to just feel everything that was happening. It had been a strange couple of years. Iggy was still widely considered one of the most valuable players in the Majors, Matt was highly sought after as both a coach and a public speaker, and the anticipated apocalypse hadn’t happened. So life was good. But Matt’s reluctance to even think the word “marriage” near Iggy had stemmed in part from his constant fear that all of this was about to crumble down around them.

But, no, the Supreme Court had ruled that gay couples across the whole country could get married.

Iggy was saying something now; Matt stopped thinking to listen.

“So in the eyes of the law, we’re real people, you know? Our relationship is real. And it means something important.”

Iggy was right. All the years he and Matt had been together had been good. Not without problems, both outside of their relationship and within it, but definitely good. Great. Amazing, even. Matt’s love for Iggy hadn’t dimmed in the years they’d been together, even after they settled into routines and habits. Matt loved Iggy even more now than he had that night of his going away party, back when he’d been traded to Texas and was planning to move across the country, and Iggy had stood in the kitchen and told Matt he loved him and wasn’t ready to let him go yet, and Matt’s heart had neatly burst because he loved Iggy right back. He loved Iggy more now than he had when Iggy had supported him through his injury and retirement. He loved Iggy more now than he did the day Iggy came out to the public and they’d hugged in the stadium in front of God and the Eagles and everyone.

And because they’d been together for nearly six years, and because the world had not ended because of it, and because the Supreme Court of the United States had just more or less blessed their relationship, Matt said, “Marry me.”

Iggy’s smile was incandescent. “Oh, baby. I thought you’d never ask.”

Surprise Out in the Field Valentine’s Day Short!

Lots of big news this week if you’re a sports fan. There are Olympics going on. NFL-bound player Michael Sam came out of the closet. My beloved Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter announced he’s retiring at the end of the upcoming season. And today is not just Valentine’s Day but also the day that pitchers and catchers report for baseball Spring Training. So I thought, what better way to celebrate than a short visit with Matt and Iggy? So here you are! Enjoy!

Matt frowned at Iggy’s giant suitcase, half packed and laying open on the bed. Iggy hadn’t even left the city yet, but the apartment already felt empty. With a heavy sigh, he left the room and walked into the kitchen, where he put a half-hearted effort into making a sandwich.

He was half eating, half reading the sports news on his phone when a snow-covered Iggy blew through the door.

“Don’t go outside,” Iggy said. Continue reading

five things: people singing plus favorite books of 2012

Weekly wrap-up!

1. Show and Tell will be available for your reading pleasure on Tuesday!

2. I went to see the Les Miserables movie last weekend. I had FEELINGS. Here’s the thing: I love Les Mis. I saw it on Broadway twice. I have an ex who also loved it, and the original cast recording got a lot of play on long car trips, during which time we would both sing along loudly and badly. I own two different cast recordings. I watch the anniversary concert whenever it’s on PBS. I LOVE IT, okay?

Although I generally enjoyed the movie, I wanted to like it more than I did. On the plus side, Hugh Jackman is fantastic and has an even better voice than I expected. (I was a little worried. He totally pulls it off.) Eddie Redmayne totally won me over. I loved Aaron Tveit and Samantha Barks. (Someone please put Aaron Tveit in all of the movies, thank you.) It was fun to see something I’d only seen on stage brought to life with real sets and things. On the other hand, I thought Russell Crowe was horribly miscast. The problem with singing live instead of lip-synching is that there were a lot of scenes that were just close-ups of one character singing a solo, and that made the movie drag. (Also, I wanted there to be more singing and less emoting, especially on Anne Hathaway’s part.) Somehow I had also forgotten how unrelentingly unhappy the story is, and I walked away from the theater thinking, “Why was this made into a musical again?” (I watched Chicago again recently and had a similar reaction. Like, “Wow, every one of these characters is a terrible person. Why am I watching this again? Oh, right, I love the music.”)

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to sing all the parts from “One Day More” using different voices while I take a shower, but the movie fell just short of being awesome for me.

3. On New Years, I participated in a New Year’s Kisses Party. You can go on over here to read Matt & Iggy’s first kiss (from Out in the Field) and enter to win prizes. The contest was extended through January 7, so there are still a few more days to enter.

4. Just for funsies, I thought I’d pick 10 books I read in 2012 that I enjoyed. This is going to be a genre smorgasbord, so bear with me. I hesitate to even call these the best books of the year, because my reading habits were really odd, so these are basically A Bunch of Books that Kate Really Liked. (And somehow, I read 102 books in 2013, so it took some time to winnow down this list.) In the order I read them:

Nowhere Ranch by Heidi Cullinan. I had put off reading this one because I’d heard there was a big scene featuring a sex act that makes me kind of squeamish (I’m a wuss, okay?) but it wound up being maybe my favorite of Heidi’s books, and The Scene? It totally, totally works within the context of the book.

Bonds of Earth by G.N. Chevalier. Maybe the best m/m historical I read this year, a pleasant surprise given that I bought the book almost entirely because of the evocative cover.

What Binds Us by Larry Benjamin. This probably falls more on the gay lit end of the spectrum. There’s a love story, but it’s not the central arc of the book. Beautiful writing, emotional intensity, well-drawn setting. Highly recommended to everyone.

Armed and Dangerous by Abigail Roux. 2012 was the year I gave the Cut & Run series a second chance. (I’ll admit, I didn’t love the first book in the series. But I was looking for something to read in March and thought, “Everyone loves these. Maybe I missed something.” I did miss something, because this series is great, with a really wonderful emotional arc that spans the books.) This was my favorite entry in the series thus far. Can we have the next book now please?

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. I’mma finish this damn series if it kills me. I’m not a big epic fantasy reader, but I loved this book. Read in conjunction with Alison Weir’s book on the Wars of the Roses got me all excited for medieval history, too. [/nerd] (My youngest brother, actually, recently became a total GRRM fanboy, so I’ve been enjoying discussing the books with him. He and I don’t have a ton in common, so it’s nice to have something to bond over.)

The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins. Nonfiction book on a crime in New York in the 1890s that reads like a novel and is tremendously compelling.

Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward. 2012 was also The Year Kate Finally Got Around to Reading Those J.R. Ward Books. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Zsadist and Bella’s book is the best one, right? (I am so dying for Lover at Last, I can’t even tell you.)

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie by Jennifer Ashley. I think this one made everyone’s favorite romance novel list a couple of years ago, but I only got around to reading it this fall. No lie, it’s really good. If you’re a fan of m/f Regencies, this is required reading.

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. Speaking of things I finally got around to reading! It’s brilliant and unusual and though it takes a while to get off the ground, once the plot gets going, it makes a lot of interesting twists.

Ethan, Who Loved Carter by Ryan Loveless. If you want a sweet, feel-good romance, this is your book. A character with Tourette’s meets a character with a traumatic brain injury, and though there’s not a lot of conflict between them, I really liked it.

Bonus #1: A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean. I did a reading with Sarah in March and got to talk to her some, and she’s super fun. So, I read her backlist. She becomes a better writer with every book, and this was my favorite of her books so far. (I know my audience here, though. This is another m/f Regency. Put down the pitchforks.)

Bonus #2: Pressure Head by JL Merrow. I’m a sucker for a story about a psychic. It’s not flawless, but Merrow has such a wonderful writing voice that I just want her to keep writing books forever. I want for there to be a sequel to this one.

Bonus #3: Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson. I read this whole book on New Year’s Day when I was recovering from my hangover and I loved it to pieces. It’s sweet and cute and laugh-out-loud funny.

There’s a lot of m/m on this list, which is funny considering I read many fewer m/m books in 2012 than in recent years past. I did read A LOT of just-okay m/f Regencies. I love them, but they become sort of same-y and interchangeable, particularly if you, like me, tend to read, like, six of them in one go before wandering off to read something else. I found most of the ones I read this year fun and entertaining but forgettable.

5. Now that it’s 2013, my official tenure as Vice President of the Rainbow Romance Writers has begun! Honestly, I am feeling equal parts “Let’s do this!” and “What the hell did Heidi and Damon talk me into doing?”

I was jotting down resolutions and yearly goals in my offline journal yesterday, and one of them was simply, “Be awesome.” I think that is my general command of 2013. Be awesome, 2013!

New Year’s Eve Kisses Party

I’m participating in a New Year’s Eve Kisse Party, which will include some sexy excerpts of first kisses from novels from a bunch of great authors. It’ll be hosted by Kay Berrisford (where you’ll find Matt and Iggy’s first kiss) and Tara Lain from December 31st through January 1st.

There’s a $35 gift card and some books to win, so go check it out!

five things: happy holidays!

I always thought there was something kind of quaint and Victorian about Brooklyn during the holidays.

I always thought there was something kind of quaint and Victorian about Brooklyn during the holidays.

Weekly wrap-up!

1. It has been a little tough to get into the holiday spirit this year. Not for any specific reason, it just… doesn’t feel like the holidays. Maybe I haven’t listened to enough Christmas music, or maybe I did myself a disservice by doing ALL of my shopping online, but… it’s tough to get into that headspace for me right now.

This has not always been the case. The first five years I lived in New York, I worked for a major publishing company with an office in Midtown, not far from Rockefeller Center, and that is a place where the holidays basically hit you in the face. I could have done without the crowds, but I liked all the decorations, the lights, the buskers playing “Silver Bells” on saxophones, all of that. I always thought there was something magical—and tourist-y and commercial, sure, but generally magical—about New York at Christmas. I think my early years in New York were characterized by a lot of wide-eyed, “People come from all over the world to see this, but I live here.” Perhaps now that I’ve lived here for ten years I am a little long in the tooth, a little more cynical, a little less awed by the same old stuff every year. But I find the idea that this city might not still capture my imagination the way it used to a little depressing.

So, come on, New York. You’ve got, like, four days to do something impressive!

2. Although, speaking of New York at Christmas, I went out last Saturday night and ran into Santa Con, an annual… thing… in NYC wherein hundreds of people dress in Santa suits. Normally I think it’s cute, and there’s something really funny to me about a proliferation of Santas in the city, but I’m less impressed when the influx of red-suited individuals causes there to be a wait for a table at a restaurant that’s usually not crowded on Saturdays.

Not the most action-packed week otherwise. I went to a couple of holiday parties and watched a lot of the Food Network. (I am so hooked on Restaurant: Impossible. It was my binge watching of Pawn Stars last summer that partly inspired Show and Tell, so maybe watching Robert Irvine be all cranky and British as he rehabilitates failing restaurants will inspire me to write a story. WE’LL SEE.)

3. Speaking of writing, I started a new story that is a play on a favorite trope of mine, someone world-famous paired with a regular guy. Writing it is going very well. I’m hoping to spend a lot of the next week on that.

4. You can take a look at my last few posts for newsy things, but to recap:

Out in the Field and Lead Us Not were nominated for a couple of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Members Choice Awards, and that is quite awesome.
• I’m going to be posting some “deleted scenes” from my upcoming book Show and Tell over the next couple of weeks. These are flashbacks to past lives, basically, and I had to cut them from the novel because they were messing with the pacing, but I still really like the scenes, so I got permission to post them here as free shorts. I hope they serve as a dirty tease for the new book. 😉
• I tinkered some with the website last weekend. Changes are subtle, but I consolidated my social media links in the sidebar, I added buttons so you can share blog posts on various social networking sites, and I fiddled with a minor banner redesign—now with cute boys! (Fun trivia fact: the photo of the guy gazing out the window features the New York skyline. I realized after I downloaded the high-res image that the skyline is backward! Ha! Thanks, stock agency, for your silly Photoshop fail. Still a nice image, though.)

5. Well, that’s all I got this week. Happiest of happy days to you and yours!

The Rainbow Awards

I am thrilled, excited, honored to announce that Across the East River Bridge was awarded 3rd place in the Best Gay Paranormal category in the Rainbow Awards.

And Out in the Field received the One Perfect Rate honorable mention.

I was on the jury for the third year in a row this go-around, and I have to say, every book I read for the contest was really good, so I consider myself to be in some excellent company. So many excellent books were acknowledged; I bet your wallets are hurting now, eh?

Many thanks to Elisa for making the awards really special.

five things on friday!

Welcome to my weekly wrap up of things I am up to!

1. Doing! Leaving on a jet plane tomorrow to go spend 9 days in the upper midwest for my first vacation out of the city in a very long time. I hope to spend a great deal of it just sitting around reading. I have more books than I could possibly read in a week! Hopefully I’ll get a lot of writing done, too. My family owns some property in northern Wisconsin and that’s where I’ll be most of the week; my dad claims there is wifi there but implied when pressed that Internet may be spotty. Thus I might be even more of a rare presence on social networks than usual! But I hope to come back relaxed and refreshed; this year has been stressful and busy!

2. Reading! This week, I read R. Cooper’s Play It Again, Charlie, which I loved, and Stars and Stripes, because of course; I’m already waiting for the next Ty and Zane book. I’m packing a stack of books and my Kindle to take with me on vacation. I’ve got a couple of nonfiction books, the first book in JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, more George R. R. Martin, and a zillion Kindle books. I’ve been binge buying a lot of historical romance, so that might feature heavily. (Any MUST READ books I should take with me?)

3. Making! The obvious promotional material for a book about baseball players is a baseball card, n’est-ce pas? I designed these and got them printed; they came in the mail yesterday. (Sorry the photo is a little fuzzy.) They look pretty good in person, IMHO. I’ll have these at GayRomLit for anyone who wants them.

4. Writing! I’ve written about 6,000 words this week, all on new projects and not on any of my old project. I’m not sure if any of it works.

Like, can you redeem a character who has done something irredeemable? Earlier this week, I was listening to an old episode of This American Life about bullies, and after I thought about it, I wrote a scene in which a 30-year-old guy runs into his high school bully at a gay bar. I like the scene I wrote, but I worry that a romance between these two characters is completely impossible, that the victim could never forgive the bully for putting him through hell, no matter how repentant the bully is. (Then I showed the scene to one of my betas, and because she’s awesome, she was like, “No, I think you should keep going.” But I don’t know.)

Then I started writing this cop thing, but I don’t like it so I’ll probably scrap it.

I’ve also been turning around an idea for a series, which will be a real challenge for me because I’m rarely motivated to write sequels. So, if I plan the series as a series from the get-go and pitch it to a publisher as a series, maybe that will be my incentive to follow through with writing it. I want to play around with stereotypes in this series, though, so I’ve got an ex-military alpha type and an artistic type who find love under unusual circumstances, and I want to plan out this series so that the two characters go on adventures as their relationship grows and develops. We’ll see, I’m gonna run with it and see where it goes.

5. Last Thing! I don’t have a fifth thing. Discussion topics I’ve considered: people who don’t ever leave New York City and how never leaving warps their world view; what to do when one is in public and also reading a hot sex scene; the period a few months ago in which I was listening to a lot of m/m books in audiobook (hooray for Dreamspinner’s audiobooks) and it is SO WEIRD to have someone read a sex scene to you, especially when you are just out walking in the park; the fact that, on my last day in NYC until Monday 8/27, I thought I should order something exotic for lunch but my lunch buddy wanted Subway; the sublime pleasure of walking along the park on a hot day and seeing a really hot guy with interesting tattoos walking his dog while not wearing a shirt; how much I enjoyed catching up on all the TV I DVRed during the Olympics this week. I dunno. Are there burning issues?

I so need a vacation, you guys. I hope your week is also pleasant and relaxing.

Five Things on Fr—Saturday

I had this idea for a weekly wrap up post yesterday. “I could make a list!” I thought. “And post it on Friday! It could have five things! It could be called ‘Five Things on Friday!’ Maybe it’ll even catch on and become A Thing!” Alas, I also worked a thirteen-hour day at the day job yesterday, so when I got home from the office, pretty much the last thing I wanted to do was stare at a computer screen and try to form words. But I still like this weekly wrap-up idea, so here are five things I’m reading and doing, in no particular order. Hopefully this will become a regular thing.

So many books!1. Reading! This is part of the pile of books next to my bed. I’m taking a break from reading romance to delve into some nonfiction, and also Game of Thrones. I may finish the whole series someday! I think I mentioned that my summer project is to learn a lot about British history, not for any real purpose beyond just to do it. But the funny thing about dipping your toe into the water is that soon you realize how vast the ocean is. I started reading this book on the Wars of the Roses (Alison Weir’s, which is really well-written and engaging) which soon made me realize how little I know about European history on the whole. I picked up John Davies’s book on Wales because I myself have a whole lot of Welsh ancestors (and some cousins who are still in Wales), and yet I know almost nothing about the country. (I do know that my Welsh family’s tartan is red and green and looks like Christmas, though, so there’s some trivia for you.) I’m also reading Sherry Jones’s Four Sisters, All Queens, which I got at a reading I went to a couple of months ago. It’s a nice supplement to my new case of Anglophilia. My only issue with the book is that it requires me to believe that these very young queens have a lot of political savvy, that teenaged girls are capable of playing politics with the big boys—no, wait, that makes perfect sense, never mind. :)

2. Doing! I saw the Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar last week. It’s one of my favorite musicals ever. It was enjoyable, but not very innovative, which is maybe why the show isn’t doing that well. (I saw the touring production a few years ago, the one with old Ted Neely as Jesus—he also played Jesus in the 70s movie; Google tells me he is 68 years old—and Corey Glover as Judas, and that was a fun show.) Still, it’s hard to go wrong with that music, and the actor playing Judas is outstanding, so if you’re in New York and can get cheap tickets, it’s worth seeing. I’ve had “Heaven on Their Minds” stuck in my head ever since.

And I plan to see Magic Mike later today. Other than that, I’ve been working a lot. Boo.

3. This is a great roundup of links to discussions of race and romance. (I have a lot of complicated feelings on the matter.)

4. Like me! Really like me! I never solicit things like Facebook likes, but it came out earlier this week that a great number of likes on your Amazon author page somehow boosts your visibility on the site, whatever that means. (I assumed book sales tied into this more, though. Amazon keeps recommending I read this book called Out in the Field, for example. LOL.) And I thought, hey, I never do this. I don’t care if you click the button, but if your clicker finger is feeling especially itchy, you could:

Like my Amazon author page
Like my Facebook page
Be my friend on Goodreads.

But only if you want to.

5. Links! Places I have been this week:

I was interviewed by Wave!
Out in the Field got a lovely review from the Novel Approach.
I wrote about flawed heroes for the RWA-NYC blog.

Phew! Busy week! Hopefully I’ll see you back here next week and we can do it again!

reviews and things

Good news first: “Lead Us Not” got a five-star review from The Novel Approach.

It’s enough to give a girl a complex about self-publishing. I swore up and down for a long time that I didn’t want to do it. It’s so much work—hiring editors and designers, converting files, distribution. I got a taste of that here in a micro scale, and it wasn’t so bad. So now I don’t know. I’ve got a couple of other shorts languishing on my hard drive. Maybe I’ll polish them up and make them available for $0.99 or something. (I think for novel-length work, I’d still want to go with a publisher.)

Also good: Out in the Field got a 4-star review from The Romance Reviews. That was pretty swell.

I’m hoping to spend a good chunk of this summer focusing on my writing. I started a bunch of new things this winter that I never got around to finishing. So I’m excited about that. You should be, too, because that means hopefully more books next year! My problem right now is deciding where to focus—I think contemporaries are my bread-and-butter, but I’ve got a few historicals that I’ve started and I have this insane idea for an epic fantasy. I KNOW! It keeps things interesting, though.