The Next Chapter

I’m not entirely sure what the next chapter of my life entails, but some of it is starting to come together.

I am going to quit my day job, stay with my parents for six months, and see if I can support myself with my writing.   I considered about a thousand different plans, but this is the one that feels like it’ll lead to a happy, healthy future for me.  Getting an apartment of my own was tempting, but I still would have been juggling two jobs on top of adjusting to living alone. In the interest of my mental health, that didn’t seem like an ideal plan. Moving  back to my hometown isn’t my dream, but for six months, I think it’ll make for a softer landing while I readjust and plan the rest of my future.

I put in my notice at the day job today.  This isn’t how I wanted to quit.  What should have been a joyous moment feels weird and flat when all I want to do is celebrate it with Mr. Vaughn. It’s a strange, bittersweet moment instead.

I have insurance more or less squared away (thanks, Obama!) and it will start September 1.  My last day at the day job will be August 28.  In the meantime, I’m sorting/packing/moving.  My dad came and took a load of things home yesterday.

It’s weird and awful to dismantle the house I’ve lived in for the past 8 years.  It’s even more weird and awful to dismantle the rest of my life.  Mr. Vaughn and I are awkwardly cordial. I cry a lot. Sometimes I forget for a few minutes and when I remember it feels like I’ve been kicked in the chest.

Knowing I will be leaving a job that is causing me nothing but stress now is a major help. It allows me to feel in control of my life again.  It gives me something to look forward to.

I’ll be starting fresh in the fall.  I’ll move into a lovely room with a bay window where I’ll spend most days writing.  I think I’ll set my desk up so I can look out over the field where my parents’ horses graze.  I’ll go for walks and play with my camera and get my writing career in order.  I’ll see if I can talk my mom into taking a yoga class with me. I’ll find a therapist who can help me find ways to grieve and move on. I’ll go out with friends and make new ones and try stuff that scares me witless.

Fall has always felt like new beginnings to me and it’s my favorite time of year. I have a vision of waking up on cool, fall mornings and sipping tea while I sit down at my computer and write. It’s something to hold on to as I put one foot in front of the other and get through what needs to be done now. The remainder of the summer will be rough, but I’m starting to see the briefest sliver of a silver lining.

Earlier today, when I was talking to Christoper Koehler, he made an off-hand comment about my move to my parents’ house being a writing retreat, and I like that idea.

So for the next chapter of my life, I’m going to be at a six-month writing retreat.  And bittersweet or not, that’s definitely something to look forward to.

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Flash Fic Monday – Universal Glow

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Universal Glow

Seth dug his fingers into the sand below him, letting it sift through his fingers.  He did it over and over, letting the motion become mindless meditation.  It was late—after midnight at least—and the solitude on the beach was welcome.

His mind had been whirling for days, jumping from one plan to the other, trying to decide what to do with his life. He’d lost his job and been dumped just a few weeks before he was scheduled to fly to Puerto Rico. Going on the trip wasn’t the practical choice. He had no idea when he’d find a new job and he only had a few months of savings squirreled away.  Seth had always done what was practical. His ex-boyfriend had always complained about that.

His first instinct had been to cancel the trip but something had urged him to go anyway. It felt like a tiny nudge from the universe telling him not to do what was practical for once.

Puerto Rico seemed as good a place as any for him to mull over what he wanted to do with his future.  He hadn’t loved his job, so getting laid off wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. It was, however, inconvenient when he had no idea what his future held.  He felt like he needed a fresh start. Like he was ready to dismantle his whole life and start from scratch.

Tiny sparks of blue light began to appear, speckling the dark water like fireflies.  It grew until the whole shoreline glowed blue, moving in soothing, rhythmic waves with the motion of the water.  Awe thickened his throat and made his heart beat fast.

Intellectually, Seth knew the light was caused by bioluminescent dinoflagellates—a type of bacteria—but it didn’t make the moment any less wondrous.  He felt like he was a part of something—the vast and infinite universe stretching before him, enfolding him in its arms.

Seth flopped onto his back to stare at the sky, the pinpricks of light from the stars gleaming brightly.  A dark figure appeared in his field of vision, peering down at him.

“You alright?”

Seth nodded and took a deep breath, propping himself up on one elbow to look at the guy.  The blue glow of the dinoflagellates was beginning to fade and Seth felt a sense of calm settle through him.

“Yeah,” he said. “I think I’m going to be.”


This is a very late entry, but I hope you enjoyed it.

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics for this week! We have lots of new people joining us!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Closing a Chapter

There is no way to make the phrase Mr. Vaughn and I are getting a divorce any less ugly.  It’s raw, like the way the spot in my chest feels every time I draw in a breath. It’s been coming for a while.  A few years, maybe. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time because it was gradual. Neither of us did anything horrible to the other.  But we did neglect our relationship.  There’s blame on both sides. We weren’t communicating well. I missed hearing what he was saying and he didn’t articulate how serious he felt things had gotten.  I still love him and am willing to fight for the relationship. He isn’t.  There’s not much more to say about that.

It hurts every time I think about the things I could have done differently.  I’d give up almost anything to go back in time and fix things. But I can’t.  So now I’m contemplating a future without him. He’s the person I wanted to grow old and grey with and with that gone, I’m not sure what lies ahead.

I’m terrified and hurting and so damn grateful for the people who’ve helped me through this first part of it.  There’s a lot I have to figure out still. Legally, it won’t be too awful, since we don’t have kids and we’re in agreement about what to do with the house.  But untangling two lives that have been intertwined for eleven years is a tricky, painful process.  I’ve barely begun and there are days I wonder how I’ll ever get through it all.

I probably won’t say much more about it publically, because it’s hard enough to deal with in private.

Those of you who already know, thank you for all the love and support.  I don’t think I would have made it this far without you.

Will this affect my writing? Probably, although these days it feels like a salvation. A distraction from everything else going on in my head.

Even in the darkest, most awful moments, I still believe in happily ever after’s.  Even if mine didn’t work out the way I planned.

Bully & Exit – Final Tour Stop & Giveaway

The release for “Bully & Exit” has by far been my most successful release.  The feedback and reviews have been wonderful and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to flail (publically or privately) over the story. My confidence had been flagging lately and it was sorely needed.

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who helped make it possible: betas, editor, readers, reviewers, bloggers, and friends. ❤

If you haven’t yet, stop by my Bully & Exit Pinterest board for the story inspiration.

For my final blog tour stop I visited Rainbow Gold Reviews.  If you’ve read the story already, you’ll want to read the character interview.  If you haven’t bought the book yet, I’m offering a giveaway, so stop by and enter that!

Happy reading.

Flash Fic Monday – Shadow Investigations

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Shadow Investigations

“You see something, don’t you?” Laura Guerrero asked, a frown furrowing her otherwise smooth brow.

Tommy Franks nodded, running a hand across his short-cropped hair. “Yeah.”

“Bad?”

He nodded again, glancing at the empty swing. The shadow of a figure on the brown, crispy grass was small. Too small.  A child then, maybe not more than three or four.  He hated toddler cases. They were always the worst. There were days he wanted to throw in the towel, give up on this private detective gig.  But how many PIs were able to see shadow traces of missing people along with the physical evidence? It was a weird gift—one that he’d happily give back if he could—but if he couldn’t get rid of it, he figured it was his duty to use it well. He already drank himself stupid over the missing people he couldn’t use his gift to find, he didn’t know what he’d do it he tried to ignore it completely. Well, probably something involving his old service revolver, but that was a mental rabbit hole he tried to avoid traveling.

“You ready to go, Franks?”  Laura asked, breaking him from his thoughts.  He nodded and stood with a heavy sigh, knees crackling in protest as how long he’d crouched in one spot.  He was getting too damn old for this shit.

“Yeah, let’s do this,” he said with a sigh.  He glanced at the shadow, noticing the way the hair seemed to blow in one direction.  “Looks like we’re heading East.”

“Hope we make it in time,” Laura said as she tightened her long, black ponytail.

“Yeah, me too,” Tommy agreed, remembering the last child corpse they’d found.  “Me too.”


The idea for this didn’t come to me until this afternoon, so please excuse me if it’s a little rough around the edges.

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics for this week! We have lots of new people joining us!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fic Monday – Ocean Path

Ocean

Ocean Path

The fence stood between the two properties for as long as Aaron Shaw could remember.  As fences went, it wasn’t impressive. It was made from sections of old felled trees that had been driven into the ground in a line that stretched from the woodlot out into the lake. It wasn’t meant to keep anyone in or out, just divide the two parcels of land.

No one in the Shaw or Reece families could remember what started the feud.  No one cared. Hate was hate, no matter where it originated and they reveled in it.  Except Aaron.

Aaron loved Timothy Reece.

He watched Timothy from his bedroom window, especially when he chopped wood.  Aaron could never tear his eyes away from the sweaty, rippling muscles.

There was no privacy in the house and he was embarrassed to think about what he’d been doing when his sister caught him staring at Timothy.  Ever since, he’d been treated like a pariah in his family. If they could have cast him out, they would have, but the island was small and there was nowhere for him to go.

Aaron glanced around to be sure no one was looking, then stepped up onto the fence.  The pieces of wood were only six inches above the sand, but it felt like a mile. His heart pounded in his chest and his palms grew damp as he stepped onto the next. One after the other, until the sand disappeared and there was just water around him.

He paused and looked around one last time. The sun was setting and he didn’t have long before the two families would return. He’d lured them all out of the two homes, but it wouldn’t take long for them to figure out what he’d done.  This was his only chance.  His stomach twisted in knots as the wind whipped up, splashing waves over his shoes.  Just a few more steps and the fence would end.  The path into the water would abruptly disappear, leaving no option but to turn back.

Or jump.

One step forward.Then  another.

“I know what you did, Aaron!”

His shoes slipped as he stepped on the third log and his heart pounded in his chest as he struggled to steady himself.  Carefully, once he had his balance again, he turned to face the familiar voice, even as he wondered why he bothered.

“I’m sorry, Timothy,” he called over the roar of the wind and the splash of the waves. “No one was supposed to know. Especially not you.”

Timothy stepped closer, walking blindly, his gaze locked on Aaron’s. “Damn it, Aaron.  You don’t get it, do you?”

Get what? he thought numbly. Get that my life is over?

Aaron’s heart beat faster at the sight of Timothy’s bright blue eyes, so close, but he couldn’t read the expression in them.  Timothy grabbed him, fists gripping Aaron’s shirt until their faces were inches apart. He tried to push Timothy away, but his feet slipped on the wet wood, going out from under him.  The shock of cold lake made him draw in a breath and Timothy’s body was heavy as the water pulled them both under.

He closed his eyes, feeling the cold numbness begin; only regretting he’d dragged Timothy into this mess—in every sense of the word.

I’m sorry, he thought.


Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics for this week! We have lots of new people joining us!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Bully & Exit Release

Bully & Exit has been two years in the making and is the first full-length novel I’ve released. I am so, so excited to share it with you. I hope you love Nathan and Caleb as much as I do. ❤

Join me on Prism Book Alliance today as I discuss the plan for the series and a chance to win copies of Bully & Exit.

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Theater student Caleb Stockwell is ready to leave college behind. Too bad his past isn’t ready to let him go.

With less than a month to go until graduation, Caleb runs into Nathan Rhodes at a house party.  Nathan is a star hockey player for Western Michigan University and finally ready to step out of the closet.  He’s also the guy who broke Caleb’s heart in high school.

Nathan’s determined to make amends for what he did four years ago, but Caleb isn’t willing to risk getting his heart stomped on again.  With only a few weeks left before they go their separate ways, it’ll take all of Nathan’s creativity and help from some interfering friends to convince Caleb to give him a second chance.

Excerpt:

Nathan’s voice was soft when he spoke, gentle as it’d always been. “Caleb Stockwell. I’ve been looking for you.”

Caleb cleared his throat and ignored him, tipping the bottle up for another long drink. He licked the spiciness from his lips as he debated making another run for it. There was a shrub blocking his way in one direction and a hockey player in the other. Even if he hadn’t been drinking, the odds weren’t in his favor. “Nathan Rhodes,” he managed.

“Damn, I can’t believe it’s you!” Nathan leaned in, and Caleb pulled back, uncomfortable with him being so close.

Caleb laughed bitterly. “It’s me. Now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can run along.” He motioned with his hand, encouraging Nathan to leave.

“It’s really good to see you,” Nathan said, ignoring him. He took a seat on the pile of discarded construction materials, his knees brushing Caleb’s as he lowered himself down. Caleb pulled away as if scorched.

“Yeah? Too bad I can’t say the same,” he muttered, his head swimming as the alcohol began to hit him. He eyed Nathan’s long, long legs and the way he was pinned in by them, remembering the way they’d felt tangled with his as they came, panting shallowly against each other’s skin. It brought it all back: the scent of Nathan’s cologne, the taste of his skin, the way Caleb’s heart raced in his chest when Nathan held him close. It brought back the memories, the ones he’d worked so hard to run from. The good and the bad. The sharp, intense happiness of falling for Nathan. The aching, crushing hurt that paralyzed Caleb for months after Nathan was no longer in his life. Everything he’d buried four years ago and vowed never to touch again.

He caught the first glimpse of doubt on Nathan’s face. “Are you okay, Caleb?”

“Oh, I’m motherfucking peachy,” he snarked and took another long drink. “I’ve made it through four fucking years trying to ignore the fact we’re on the same campus, and with barely a month left in my senior year, I thought maybe I’d managed to pull it off. But, no, Lowell had to drag me to this goddamn party, and, of course, you showed up too. Just my luck.”

He raised the bottle again, but Nathan wrapped a hand around the neck and tugged. He was stronger than Caleb, so Caleb let go, afraid he’d end up getting pulled onto Nathan’s lap if he didn’t. Nathan took a drink and passed the bottle back, licking the taste of rum off his lips before he spoke. “You’re so angry at me.”

“Ya think?” Caleb snarled. “Didn’t it ever occur to you I would be? What the hell makes you think you can waltz in here and pretend like all the shit that went down between us didn’t happen?” He tried to stand, but Nathan’s dark denim-clad knees were on either side of his, pinning him in place. The bottle was pried from his suddenly limp fingers and set aside.

“I don’t think that,” Nathan protested. “I was just glad to see you, and I… I wanted a chance to apologize. I didn’t … I wanted …”

Caleb’s lips parted in surprise as cool fingers framed his face, and for the first time in four long years, Nathan’s lips were pressed to his again. Involuntarily, Caleb’s eyes closed, feeling a rush of heat wash over him, taking him right back to the first time. Before Nathan broke his heart.

Buy Links:

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Amazon US

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Smashwords

July News

JULY 6

There’s no flash fic from me this week (I’m absolutely buried in final edits and formatting right now) but be sure to visit Helena’s Heat for her flash fic.  So far, she was the only one who wrote one this week.  I really love the prompt though, so I may try to write it this week if I can find a little time.

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If you didn’t have a chance yesterday, stop by Prism Book Alliance for my Outside the Margins post.

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If you were eagerly anticipating the Bully & Exit release tomorrow, I am afraid I had to bump it back to this Friday, July 10th.  Final edits took a bit longer than anticipated, so I decided to push it back a few days in order to put out the best possible book and not stress myself out any further.  Eee! I am so excited to share this book with you guys. I love Nathan and Caleb so much. ❤

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Finally, please stop by Diverse Reader for info on the Christmas in July Giveaway I’m taking part in along with a group of incredible authors.  You have a chance to win books from 20 different authors! How awesome is that?

Dilemma

When I spoke to my parents a few days ago we discussed a lot of random things, but the SCOTUS ruling was a big one.  They were thrilled by it and understood my excitement both for myself and for the people I care about.  Unfortunately, it also led to an interesting discussion about one of my aunts that left me feeling apprehensive.  According to my dad, one of my aunts was quite upset about the marriage equality ruling.

This aunt is my dad’s older sister.  She’s in her 70’s and not in great health, although I am hopeful she’ll be around for a number of years.  She’s also basically the only aunt I have left.  The ones on my mom’s side of the family no longer speak to us (there was a huge, family-destroying fight after my grandma died) although one still occasionally exchanges cards with me.  My dad’s two other sisters are dead, so this one aunt is more or less all I have left in that generation of family.

Her views on homosexuality never come up in any discussion I’ve had with her, but apparently she’s very against gay marriage.  My dad thinks my aunt’s feelings tie into her Catholic upbringing. Both my parents are practicing Catholics as well, but basically they ignore all of the social teachings about birth control, abortion, women as priests, priests being allowed to marry, gay rights, etc.  I don’t understand it, but I respect that attending church has meaning for them.  My aunt, however, seems to follow the church’s teachings much more strictly.

The situation with her puts me in a weird spot. She doesn’t know I’m bi or that I write m/m romance.  It’s not because I’ve intentionally tried to hide it, but it’s honestly never come up in conversation.  I think she has a vague idea that I write, but we’ve never actually discussed it in any depth and she’s never asked about the subject matter.  Every conversation we have in the future will be tinged by the knowledge that she most likely wouldn’t support me if she knew. I don’t like hiding who I am or what I do.  It feels like a cop out to not tell her, simply because I have the privilege of choosing to keep silent because I happen to be married to a man.

In comparison to many people’s experiences, the potential to lose the support of a single family member is pretty mild, but it doesn’t make it any easier. She’s the aunt who counted my fingers on one hand and somehow always came up with six even though I could never figure out where the extra one came from.  She’s the one who did crafty painting projects with me as a kid. She’s the aunt who introduced me to vintage glassware and made me fall in love with it.  The aunt who made sure I ended up with some of the beautiful costume jewelry that belonged to my grandmother because she knew I’d appreciate it.  She’s the last aunt I have left and she’s not getting any younger.

I know for a fact that if she made homophobic comments in front of me, I’d speak up.  I don’t think there’s any way I could hear it and NOT speak up.  It just isn’t in my nature.  Chances are it would lead to a discussion where I’d be honest about my identity and profession.

But the thought of bringing it up out of the blue leaves me with a very uneasy feeling.  Creating drama (even for a good reason) isn’t something I like. I know my parents will support me either way, which I am intensely grateful for, but I honestly have no idea what will happen if I tell her.

There’s a chance that by getting to know me, she could change her mind.  That’s what makes me lean toward wanting to tell her.  But that’s a pretty big gamble.  The thought of losing her love and support makes me hurt, but deliberately hiding who I am in order to keep it does too and I have no idea which choice is the right one.