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Archive for December, 2012

Over the years I’ve written a number of Chrsitmas stories, so I thought in order to get ready for the holidays, I’d feature each of them here on my blog.  Last year’s story was A Present in Swaddling Clothes.  As I was looking for a story idea, my unmarried sister was regnant with her first child and she requested that if anything happened to her, that I raise her daughter.  The prospect was a bit daunting, so I decided to write about it.  The result was A Present in Swaddling Clothes.

PresentinSwaddlingClothesBlurb:

Josh held baby Vivien when she took her first breath in the world, and he has loved every breath she’s taken since. Now Vivien needs a home—a “for real” forever home, and Josh would love to be the one who takes her in. But Josh’s partner, Sammy, isn’t a fan of children of any size or stamp. Will Josh have to choose between being a lover or a parent, or will Josh’s niece work her baby magic on Sammy, giving them all the best Christmas present of all?

Purchase from Dreamspinner Press

Excerpt: 

“You have a girl,” the nurse said, and then she motioned for Josh to come over. “She’s beautiful and perfect.”

“Her eyes are closed,” Josh said as he looked down at the crying, openmouthed baby. The nurse turned down the light, and the tiniest baby Josh had ever seen opened her big blue eyes, and Josh felt his heart begin to melt. The nurse lifted the baby and handed her to Josh, who looked down into that beautiful little face, feeling a tear run down his cheek. Turning around, he showed Nicky her daughter. She couldn’t hold her because they had to finish the surgery, but Josh let Nicky look. “She’s gorgeous, Nicky.”

“She is that, and her name is Vivian.”

“Hello, Vivian,” Josh said softly, greeting his niece with a smile. He knew she couldn’t smile up at him, but she stopped crying and her eyes closed. “Is something wrong?” Josh asked.

“No,” the nurse said indulgently. “She’s falling asleep. She’s had a hard time of it too.”

Josh nodded and watched the precious child as he held her, waiting for the doctors and nurses to finish with Nicky. Josh sat on the stool he’d occupied earlier and let Nicky gaze at her daughter. “You did good, Nicky, really good.” Beyond that Josh didn’t know what to say, and his throat closed around his words. He was holding a new life in his hands. Josh had held babies before, but never like this, and the entire experience sent ripples up his spine when he thought about it. This was his niece, Nicky’s daughter, and as close to a child of his own as he was ever going to come. “Happy Thanksgiving,” Josh said to Nicky with a grin. “I can’t think of anything anyone could possibly be more thankful for than this little one.” Nicky didn’t answer, she simply smiled and stared at her baby.

The nurse took Vivian from Josh and carefully cleaned her up before placing her in a fresh blanket and handing her back to Josh. It was a good thing his partner, Sammy, wasn’t there; he hated the sight of blood. Eventually, once the incisions were closed, they checked Nicky over thoroughly before wheeling her to recovery and then into a room, where Josh was finally able to let his sister hold her baby. Once she was, Josh left them alone to get acquainted, and so Nicky could nurse Vivian.

In the hallway outside the room, Josh pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Sammy, it’s me.”

“Is everything okay? You’ve been gone such a long time. Nicky and the baby are okay, aren’t they?” The questions flew off Sammy’s nervously excited tongue.

“Yes. They’re both fine. She gave birth by Cesarean, but they’re both fine now. Nicky’s feeding the baby, and I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know what was happening. Both mother and baby are fine and healthy. It’s going to take Nicky some time before she’s 100 percent, but Mom is coming to stay with her.”

“She called a few minutes ago,” Sammy told him. “She said she’s on her way and she should be there in a few hours.”

Relief flowed through Josh. He knew Nicky was exhausted, but so was he. He had stayed up with Nicky through the long hours of her labor, and he hadn’t slept in over twenty-four hours. He hadn’t felt it until now, but with the adrenaline wearing off, he could barely keep his eyes open. After yawning, Josh told Sammy that he’d be home as soon as he could before hanging up the phone. Next, he called some friends of Nicky’s and gave them the good news. He had a whole list of people that he’d been given to call and dutifully made all the calls before pushing open the hospital-room door and peering inside. Nicky was resting back on the bed with Vivian in her arms, and both of them looked as though they were asleep. Josh motioned to one of the nurses, and she came inside and took Vivian to the nursery so Nicky could sleep.

Josh went in as well and leaned over the bed to kiss Nicky on the forehead.

“Are you leaving?” she asked.

“Yes. I’m going to try to get some sleep, and I’ll be back tomorrow morning. You get some sleep and take care of that beautiful niece of mine.”

“I will,” Nicky said with a smile. “You get some rest too.” Nicky took Josh’s hand and squeezed it. “Thank you so much for being here. It meant the world to me.” Nicky began to cry, and Josh handed her a tissue from the bedside table.

“You know I wouldn’t have missed this for anything. I’m never going to have a child of my own, so I intend to spoil yours rotten.” Josh gave her his best grin, and Nicky smiled behind her tissue.

“You’re too good to me,” Nicky said, dabbing her eyes.

“No, I’m not. The world’s just too hard on you,” Josh said before kissing her again. She released his hand, and Josh walked toward the door. “Call if you need anything, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“I will,” she promised, and as Josh left the room with a wave, he saw Nicky flash him a smile. Josh made it to his car and began to drive home. He stopped along the way for coffee more than once before pulling in front of his and Sammy’s home, a little more than an hour north from where his sister lived in Baltimore. Josh hadn’t been sure if Sammy would be home from visiting his family yet, and he smiled when he saw Sammy’s car parked in its usual spot. Getting out, Josh walked toward the front door, and it opened as soon as he stepped onto the porch. Once he stepped inside the house, Sammy closed the door and then pulled Josh into a hug. “I have soup for you, and Mom sent some Thanksgiving dinner home along with some of her fresh bread.” Sammy refused to let him go even while he talked, and Josh rested his head on his partner’s shoulder, already feeling the urge to sleep beginning to take over. “Come into the kitchen and eat, then we’ll get you up to bed.”

Josh was too tired to answer and simply let himself be led by the hand into the large and immaculately clean kitchen. Josh took a seat at the table, and Sammy moved around the space, opening drawers and cupboards. Josh had no real idea where anything was in this room of the house. He and Sammy had decorated the house together and done most of the work required to bring their century-old house back from near wreck and ruin. A warm bowl of turkey soup with a cream base was set in front of him, and Josh looked to Sammy with a grateful smile. “I love this,” he said and felt Sammy’s hand on his shoulder.

“I know you do. That’s why I made it.” Sammy smiled at him and sat at the next seat with a cup of tea. “How did it go?”

“It was rough,” Josh told him as he started to eat, the rich, creamy soup sliding down his throat, comforting from the inside. “The baby wasn’t coming, so they had to do a Cesarean. Nicky’s sore, but she’s doing okay. How was Thanksgiving at your mom and dad’s?”

“It was nice. They both said to say hello and to tell you that Nicky is in their prayers. Mom also sent lots of leftovers, and she baked you a special pumpkin pie.” Sammy took a sip from his cup, and Josh smiled. Mona always took care to make Josh’s favorites. He knew where Sammy got his love of food. In many ways, Sammy was the male version of his mother because, like Mona, he said love with food.

“I’m sorry I missed it,” Josh said quietly. He knew everyone would understand.

“I know, but you had something more important to do. They’ll see you around Christmas, and they said they’ll be down for the Christmas party in a few weeks. Mom asked if she should bring some of her homemade caramel corn, and I told her to bring whatever she’d like.”

“Tomorrow I’m going to ask Nicky to come. She and the baby can spend the night in the guest room. She’ll be ready to get away by then, and I’ll have the chance to spend some time with Vivian.” An image of her precious blue eyes looking up at him in the delivery room flashed in his mind. Josh knew he would never forget that moment as long as he lived.

Taking another sip of soup, Josh gazed at Sammy and saw a touch of fear in his eyes. He knew what that meant and had been expecting it. “Just don’t expect me to… do… anything with the baby. I’m allergic to dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, children, and I like it that way.”

“Sammy. Vivian is adorable. You’re going to take one look at her, and she’ll have you wrapped around her little finger.”

Sammy shook his head stiffly. “Babies scare me, you know that. They’re so small, and I don’t know a thing about them.” He shook his head again. “I know you’ve talked about children a few times, but I never realized you were that serious. They scare me to death, and don’t get me started on the pooping, peeing, diapers. Oh, and let’s not forget the puke and projectile vomiting. No.” Sammy continued shaking his head the entire time.

“I didn’t say we needed to adopt or have a child of our own. You told me how you felt about children when I first met you, and I’d never try to make you do anything you really don’t want to do.” Josh took Sammy’s hand. “But you know Nicky is going to need help with Vivian.”

“I know. You’ll need to help, and I’ll help too. Just don’t expect me to actually hold or take care of her. Once she’s older, I’ll show her how to cook and we can bake cookies and cakes together, but while she’s at that spit-up stage, she’s all yours.” Sammy grinned, and Josh went back to his soup. Once the bowl was empty, Sammy placed a plate with a piece of pie in front of him, and Josh took a bite of Sammy’s mother’s pie and groaned softly as the creamy pumpkin slid down his throat. “By the way, before I forget, Terry called yesterday, and he said they just got in a lamp that he thought we’d like. There are pictures on the web. It looks really nice, and I asked him to hold it until you could take a look at it. It’s a newel-post lamp, and it’s never been electrified. It looks like it needs some work, but he says it’s nothing we can’t do. I thought it would look great in the parlor.”

“Can we look at the pictures tomorrow?” Josh said with a yawn as he finished his pie. Now that he’d eaten, his bed was really calling to him.

“Of course. Terry said he’d hold it until Monday for us,” Sammy said, and Josh pushed back from the table. “Do you want to go right up to bed?” Sammy asked as he took the dishes to the dishwasher.

Josh covered his mouth as he yawned. “I think so.”

“I’ll be up soon,” Sammy said from the sink as he finished cleaning up the kitchen. Josh walked up the stairs and into the room they used as a family room. He and Sammy entertained a lot, so the main floor included the formal living room, parlor, and dining room as well as their kitchen. They used the extra bedroom upstairs as their television and media room. After turning on the television, Josh lay down on the sofa and turned on the Food Network. It wasn’t long before his eyes began to drift closed, and soon he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Let’s get you to bed,” Sammy said softly as he reached over and turned off the television.

With a sigh, Josh forced his legs to work and walked into the bedroom, yawning almost the entire time. After cleaning up in their en suite bath, Josh stripped down and climbed into their bed with crisp, fresh sheets that Sammy must have changed just today.

Sammy took good care of him, there was no doubt about that. They both worked, but Josh’s days were much longer, and his job as a food-systems engineer involved a lot of travel. Sammy worked close to home, and early in their relationship, Sammy simply took over taking care of their home. With Sammy, everything had a place, and Josh could always find what he was looking for.

The bathroom light switched off, and Josh heard Sammy’s footsteps in the now dark room. The door to the closet where they kept the dirty-clothes basket opened and closed. Then Josh felt the bed dip, and Sammy joined him. They didn’t curl together like they used to. After almost fifteen years together, they rarely cuddled in bed anymore. Sammy usually complained that it made him hot and sweaty. Sammy did lean close to him, his warm hand stroking Josh’s cheek, and then Josh felt Sammy’s weight shift as he was kissed good night. “Love you,” Sammy said before kissing him again.

Josh returned the kiss. “I love you too.” He felt Sammy hug him for a few seconds, and then Sammy rolled over onto his side, and Josh did the same. They had a good life together. They were settled and very happy. Sammy took good care of him, and he took care of Sammy. Sure, some of the passion had gone out of their relationship after fifteen years, but that was to be expected.

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An Isolated Range released on Monday and its  already received two incredible reviews. House Millar awarded it 5 Drops and an Award of Excellence and Mrs. Condit Read Books, awarded it 5 Sweet Peas. Click on the links to read the entire reviews.

AnIsolatedRangeMDWhen veterinary assistant Quinn Knepper sees Marty for the first time, his heart nearly stops. He’s smitten, and Marty appears interested though shy. There are just two problems: Quinn’s father wants him to hide his sexuality from the world, and Marty’s Wyoming Senator father is a homophobe with no idea his son is gay—which Quinn learns when the senator proposes an amendment banning gay marriage.

Dealing with two unsupportive families is a heavy burden, but Quinn vows to make it work. Unfortunately, that may mean putting his life on hold while Marty overcomes his emotional isolation—unless, of course, Marty sacrifices his happiness to his father’s political ambition and ends the relationship before it gets started.

Purchase from Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3426&osCsid=49b2crqfmqbv4lkl9di2k4h1b4

Chapter 1

Marty Green sat with the other players on Wyoming’s Brackett College basketball team. The team bench was packed as they all waited for the game to begin. Marty imagined that all the other freshman sitting near him felt the same butterflies in their stomachs that he did. Marty loved basketball—it was one of the honest and true passions in his life. That, and science. He was thrilled to have made the basketball team, even if he was destined to spend much of the season sitting on the bench. Marty knew he didn’t have the talent to make it to the pros or even to get into one of the Division I basketball programs, but he didn’t really care. He played because he loved the game and loved being on a team. He played because it was in his blood, and because there were those times when he and the ball seemed connected, when everything went exactly right. He lived for those times.

The starters were called to the court, and Marty watched as they ran out and got into position. Marty felt the excitement inside him ramp up. These were his teammates, and even though he wasn’t playing, energy coursed through him. His legs bounced slightly, and he could feel the blood rushing from head to toe. It was like the energy from the entire crowd had centered on him, and he loved it.

The ball was tipped, and play began with his teammates in control of the ball. They raced down the court, dribbling and passing the ball rapidly back and forth in a dance that Marty desperately wanted to be a part of, but he could only wait and hope. A shot was taken, and they scored. The other guys on the bench all turned to one another, smiling, sharing their teammates’ success as they watched, waited, and hoped that they’d eventually get their turn.

They were ahead at halftime. Granted, they were playing Cheyenne, a school slightly smaller than theirs, and one they fully expected to beat. The starters had been rotated out of the game early on, and the second string had still been able to score. The team filed back into the locker room to wait out the halftime while the crowd was entertained by the cheerleaders.After a pep talk, the team returned to the floor and waited for the game to resume.The coach pointed down the bench, and Marty hoped he’d be chosen, but of course he wasn’t. Play began for the second half with many of their best players resting. One of the starters, Kyle, sat next to Marty, with his friend Pat on the other side. Kyle was a senior and he watched the play with eagle eyes.

“He’ll never make the shot,” Kyle said, motioning toward the player from the other team as he was about lift off. “His feet aren’t in the right position and he’s a little off balance.” Sure enough, the ball skimmed around the edge of the rim and then fell back into play, with one of Mike scooping it up and racing full-tilt down the court with the rest of the players behind him. Mike made the shot easily, and Brackett pulled further ahead. Play continued, and Kyle continued his quiet narrative, pointing things out to Marty that he might have missed. “You learn by doing and by seeing other guys’ mistakes,” Kyle said just before throwing the towel he’d had hanging around his neck onto the bench and hurrying back into the game.

Marty watched as the second half continued. They were way ahead now, and as more players came out, Marty heard what he’d hoped for: “Green, you’re in,” the coach said, and Marty hurried onto the court just as the other team called time. The other team’s players all huddled around their coach, and for a few seconds, Marty thought he could hear what their coach was saying. Everything seemed heightened—the sound of the crowd, the voices of the other players—and as he looked over at his coach, he swore he could hear him telling him to stay in the pocket from all the way across the court. Marty knew he had to be hearing things, that he was so keyed up and hypersensitive about playing in his first college game that he had to be his imagination.

The refs signaled the resumption of play, and Marty got his head in the game, paying close attention to the ball and everyone around him. The whistle blew and the ball was in play. Marty knew his assignment and guarded his player while looking for an opening. The ball was passed his way, but one of the other players on his team scooped it off its trajectory and rocketed down the court. Marty followed, his feet pounding on the polished floor, ready to assist if he could, but the shot was good and they scored. Then the other team had the ball, and Marty stayed close to his man when the ball came their way. Marty wasn’t able to get it, but he did manage to bounce it off the other player and out of bounds, forcing a turnover to their team. The ref handed him the ball, and he stepped out of bounds. This was the first time in an actual college game that he’d had possession of the ball. Marty passed it to Clark and jumped into the play, following the others down the court. Clark passed the ball, and then it was passed back to him. Marty watched as a shot was taken, but it missed and then one of his teammates rebounded the ball and put it back in the basket for a score. They were doing well, but he knew his time was limited. There were others guys who needed their chance to play, and if he wanted to stay in, Marty needed to make something happen.

The other team had possession, and he stepped away from his man, watching the ball as it was passed over. Realizing he’d created the opening, Marty instantly closed it and snatched the ball out of the air. He dribbled it and then began running down the court. He felt almost at one with the ball, blood pumping, legs pounding, arms working as he reached the far side of the court and got into position.

Suddenly, almost like a fuse had blown, Marty’s head throbbed and his balance seemed all out of whack. He tried to steady himself with his left arm, but it didn’t seem to want to work. He stopped moving and looked around for a player to pass the ball to, but everything in the room looked distorted. The ball was snatched out of his hand, and Marty could vaguely hear his name being called, but it was like listening through Jell-O and he couldn’t make out anything else. He knew which way the bench was and he took one step. He lifted his left leg and set it down, but he seemed to keep going. He realized he was falling and he could do nothing at all to stop it. He tried, but his muscles ignored the commands his brain sent out, and then he collapsed onto the court.

Marty heard activity all around him. He tried to get up but couldn’t. All he could see was the ceiling above him, the celebratory banners waving and then starting to move in weird patterns. He could hear voices around him, but they weren’t making any sense, their words jumbled and all mixed up. Marty couldn’t take the weird sights going on above him, so he closed his eyes, hoping it would help, but it didn’t. The entire world seemed to have gone haywire. He knew people were talking to him, asking him questions that he tried to answer, but even his thoughts seemed mixed up and confused. Finally, he gave up and gave himself over to the people around him. Whatever was going on, he would have to trust that they knew what was happening, because he didn’t.

The only thing that seemed to permeate the haze that surrounded him was the sensation of flying. He liked that—it felt good. Marty tried to put out his arms so he could fly faster, but he couldn’t seem to, so he gave up and let himself fly wherever he was going. Slowly, the world got darker, and Marty didn’t fight it. He needed to sleep, and he hoped that after he woke up the world would be right again.

“Stay with us, Marty,” someone said, and Marty opened his eyes for a few seconds, but everything was strange and still swimmy, so he closed them again and kept them that way. People said more things to him, but he wasn’t really interested. He didn’t understand most of what they were saying, anyway. All he wanted to do was sleep, and as he gave in to it, the world turned black as Marty embraced the silence.

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Next Big Thing Blog Hop

As part of the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, I was asked to answer some questions about the book I’m currentky working on.  Now, I promise to answer these questiosn as best I can and I hope you find the answers entertaining.
What is the working title of your book?  Stranded
Where did the idea come from for the book? I wish I knew.  Somewhere in the depths of my demented mind.
What genre does your book fall under?  Its an M/M Romance with a bit of thriller thrown in for good measure.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Johnny, tall and lanky, sort of geeky would be played by the guy who does Sheldon on The Bog Bang Theory.  As for Kendall, I keep thinking a young Viggo Mortenson.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Kendall and Johnny have been together for a long time and the passion has waned to the point wthat Kendall thingks Johnny might be having an affair.  When Kendall is offered a part in a movie, Johnny encourages him to take it, but refuses to go with him.  On top of that Kendall picks up a stalker while filming and ends up stranded and alone, doubting everything.  Will all that doom their relationship or will it make them realize what they mean to one another.  I know its more than once sentence, but that was the best I could do.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  It will hopefully be published by Dreamspinner Press.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  I am writing it now. The draft is over half done. I’ve been working on it for 12 days.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  None that I’ve read.  This is a departure for me and I just hope it isn’t total crap.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?  I wish I knew. 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  This story is untimately about reflecting on what you have and hanging on to what’s truly important.
I’d love to hear what you think

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