A free short story featuring The Boys of Summer!

Small_Banner_Boys_of_SummerWow! What a whirlwind these past two weeks have been! Today is the final day of The Boys of Summer Tour! The contest for the $50 Amazon Gift Card ends tonight at midnight, so be sure to go to the various blog posts, read, comment, and follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter to increase your odds of winning!

Earlier today (well, yesterday now) I was interviewed by Beckey over on In the Pages of a Good Book: 10 odd facts about me that I bet you never knew before! Be sure to drop by and find out where my hidden talents lie! *eyeroll* 😉

I want to take this moment to thank Andrea and all the hard work performed by Virtual Writers, Inc.! This has been a wonderful experience for me, and I have enjoyed meeting and interacting with everyone along the way. I hope you’ve had some fun, too! I would highly recommend this service to anyone seeking to do book promotion. 🙂

As a special parting gift, I’ve written a short story featuring Rick and David from The Boys of Summer. Warning: there are mild spoilers for the novel, so you might want to consider whether or not you want to read more if you haven’t read the story yet! And also, this short story contains a very explicit sex scene (okay, a smoking hot sex scene…). This is an adults only website, but I thought I should point that out.

So without further ado, here is “All I Want for Christmas”. Stay tuned at the end of the post to find out how to enter to win in the Rafflecopter. And thank you all for joining in on the tour–I couldn’t do this without you. 🙂

christmas tree_stevep2008“What on earth are you doing?”

Em’s voice coming from behind startled David. He yelped at the sudden intrusion of sound and spun with the pan of cookies he’d just taken out of the oven. Cookies threatened to slide off the no-stick surface and he had to juggle them to keep them from falling onto the floor.

“Jeez, Em! You scared the bloody wits out of me!”  Hastily, he set the hot pan down on the stovetop, tucking the potholder under one arm as he glared at her.

“Sorry. I thought you heard me come in.” She didn’t look sorry, however. She smiled widely at him, obviously amused at his expense.

“I couldn’t hear a thing over Bing there.” David indicated the CD player with the oven mitt, where Bing Crosby crooned about a White Christmas. Despite the fact that Emma was standing in his kitchen wearing a navy crop top and white shorts, which just so happened to set off her tanned legs very nicely, Christmas was right around the corner. Less than a week now. David was determined to make it absolutely perfect this year.

“You’re so cute when you get this domestic urge to bake,” Emma commented, flicking a long strand of copper hair back from one shoulder. “It’s particularly funny because you never cook at all the rest of the year if you can help it. I think you’d live on take-out, if you could.”

For the briefest of moments, David saw Rick in his kitchen, peering in his refrigerator with disapproval and volunteering to cook dinner. Standing in the kitchen, drinking a glass of wine, and watching Rick create a delicious meal out of what seemed like nothing at all had been one of his favorite memories to revisit in the four months since Rick had gone back to his home in Hawaii.

Well, one of his favorite G-rated memories, that is. His cock stirred hopefully at the thought of some of his other favorite memories of the month Rick had spent in California last summer.

“I like baking at this time of year. I’ve never heard you complain before, unless it’s about the calories.”

“I’m not complaining. I’m commenting. You’ve baked a lot this season, haven’t you? Tell me you made sausage balls again. No one makes them like you do.”

“The recipe is online. You just have to Google it.”

“I don’t care what you say.” Em shook her head. “No one has quite your touch.”

David couldn’t help but preen a little. “The secret is in the mixing of the ingredients. And the choice of ingredients, too. The right sausage is important, but the right cheese? That’s critical.”

“See?” Emma arched an eyebrow. “No one makes sausage balls that are as good as yours. I’ve never seen you bring home any leftovers from a party, either.”

“Well, I made plenty this time, but they’re all in the freezer right now. No one gets to eat them until Christmas.”

David had a reputation to maintain. He’d made several batches, experimenting with a gluten-free recipe as well. In the past, the sausage balls never made it to the Christmas party because everyone kept eating them before the big day. He’d made extra at Thanksgiving this year, but they were all already gone.

“What kind of cookies are these? They smell fabulous.” She reached around him to pick up one of the cookies cooling on the rack beside the stove.

“One,” he admonished. “Tell me what you think.”

sugar cookies wikipedia commonShe bit the head off of a reindeer dusted with colored sugar. “Mmmm. These are wonderful. Almost like tea biscuits. With just a hint of lemon, right?”

He nodded. “They’re sour cream cookies. One of my favorites. This year I added a little lemon zest. I don’t make them often because they’re such a pain in the ass.” He glanced around the kitchen at the hopeless mess. Over on the CD player, Bing began singing about coming home for Christmas.

Emma laughed. “It does look like you detonated a flour bomb in here. That’s why I wanted to know what you were up to. That and you’re wearing an apron over your gym clothes. You have been to the gym, haven’t you?”

David glanced down at himself. He was wearing a threadbare brown T-shirt with the word “Shiny!” printed on it. Below that, he had on running shorts. He’d exchanged the expensive track shoes for a pair of old flip-flops as soon as he’d gotten home, however. It was just as well—he had flour everywhere, despite the apron. “Well, you know,” he said a bit self-consciously, “I have to look the part of a successful scriptwriter. You know Hollywood.”

She snorted inelegantly. “Bullshit. Most scriptwriters in Hollywood look like they spend all their time playing World of Warcraft in their mothers’ basement. This has more to do with impressing a certain ex-fighter pilot than meeting Hollywood’s standards. What’s the news on that front, anyway?”

David turned to shift the cooled cookies into a container so he could move the ones from the oven onto the cooling rack. When he spoke, he deliberately misunderstood her. “Well, they’ve cast the role of me. Of David Braxton, that is.”

After David had returned from his scouting trip in Hawaii, where he and Rick had crash landed and had to survive under grueling conditions until rescued, he’d sat down to write about his experience there. Not the actual plane wreck or being marooned on a deserted South Pacific island, but about the incredibly vivid dream he’d had while they were there. In his dream, he and Rick had been transformed into two young men during the Battle of Britain—and they’d been doomed in love and by the war. David had changed their names a little bit for the purposes of the script, but had essentially written the dream as he’d remembered it. He’d feverishly written the screenplay in a matter of weeks, desperately trying to recapture some of the heartbreak of the story that had played out in his dream before he forgot all the details. The fact that he could remember nearly every element of the dream as though he was watching a movie had been an unexpected blessing. When he was finished, however, he thought he had a hopelessly maudlin tearjerker that no one would ever want to read. Emma had sobbed her way through the script and then begged him to shop The Boys of Summer around. To his surprise, one of the smaller studios he’d worked with in the past had snapped it up, claiming that WW2 stories were back in again.

So, David now found himself being hailed as a ‘promising’ scriptwriter after years of failed projects. Fortunately, his boss was cool about him being flexible with his hours, and things had slowed down due to the holidays anyway. Besides, from a practical standpoint, David’s newfound status wasn’t hurting Pegasus Productions, either. And his boss had offered to invest in the project, too.

“I wasn’t talking about the movie, though I still don’t see why you couldn’t play you. You’re certainly buff enough these days.” She snagged another cookie.

He smacked at her hand, but not very hard. The ‘buff’ compliment was nice to hear. “Yeah, but no amount of makeup or workouts will make me twenty again.” His voice was rueful. “Most of those pilots were hardly more than schoolboys.”

“I thought you made the characters older for the movie.”

“A bit. More than I liked, to be honest.” The studio had balked at finding actors young enough for the script the way it had originally been written. A gay love story set during the Battle of Britain had been a tough enough sell to begin with. The studio had been worried about projecting the wrong image had they gone with lead actors barely out of their teens.

He’d argued for keeping the integrity of the story intact, but it had been Rick who pointed out that maybe it was better to compromise on that point in order to get the story out there for people to see.

“A movie like that might have made a difference to me growing up.” He’d shrugged when he said it, but he’d liked the script. He said so. He’d also given David a funny look after reading it. “That was your dream?” he’d asked.

“More or less.” David had shrugged in turn.

Rick had surprised him with a full body hug, and then had kissed him as though he was trying to put into that kiss all the words he could not say.

It had ended the debate on the age of the actors, as far as David was concerned.

“Well, they’ve got thirty year old actors playing teenagers in high school all the time. I think you could make it work if you wanted. Face it, you just don’t want to be in front of the camera anymore.”

David nodded in agreement. “It’s an unforgiving spotlight, especially in HD these days. Besides, I like looking at things through the other side of the lens.” He’d given up acting himself years ago. He much preferred his job as a locations scout and being general dogsbody to the production teams for various movies and television programs.

Jaunty Irish pipes accompanied “Christmas in Killarney” on the player. David continued to roll out and cut cookies, dusting them with the lemon zest and granulated sugar before transferring them to the baking sheet.

“So, they’ve cast your role. What about Rick’s?”

“Nothing so far. They’re having a hard time casting that role.”

For the movie script, Rick Sutton had become ‘Rick Sheppard’. David had a very specific type in mind to play the role, and he’d made sure to make his wishes known. Everyone knew about the author of some popular vampire stories who’d been vitriolic over the casting of a mega-celebrity to play her main character. The producers for the film had completely shut her out for the rest of the film’s production. The author had later praised the actor’s performance—but that’s not what most people remembered. David didn’t want to end up shut out in the cold because he hated whoever they chose to play Sheppard in his story. But the role of Sheppard was critical. It had to be the right actor.

“So.” Emma dragged the word out playfully, reaching for another cookie but giving in with grace when David threatened her with a spatula. “Why the big push for the holiday spirit this year?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” David bent over the open oven door, positioning the cookies within. Hopefully Em would blame the redness of his face on the heat from the stove. He straightened and set the timer.

“David. The baking, the decorations. You’re kind of going all out with the Spirit of Christmas this year, aren’t you?

He maintained his cool, scattering more flour on the counter and re-working the dough. “I always decorate.”

“You haven’t done more than string some lights on the palm tree out front for years. This time it looks as though you hired Martha Stewart.”

“I told you, the Grinch stole all my decorations last year. He didn’t bring them back until this past week.”

“Uh-huh. Not buying it.”

David sighed and tossed the pot holder down on the counter. “Okay, so Rick hasn’t had much of a Christmas for the past, oh, I dunno, five or six years. This is the first time he’s been to his brother’s for the holidays since he was discharged from the military.” For being gay. Even though he didn’t say it aloud, he knew that both he and Em were thinking it. He often wondered what it was like to love something so much and yet know it was killing you. Rick had given the military everything he had and it had nearly destroyed him. It had taken a desperate man to deliberately use Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to force a discharge from service.

He swallowed hard. “I just want things to be perfect. Heck, if I could import George Bailey running through the village shouting ‘Merry Christmas’ while snow gently fell around him, I would.”

He snapped floury fingers when he realized he could recreate Bedford Falls, if he so desired. He had connections. He could hire a snowmaker and…

“Don’t.” Em put her fists on her hips.

“Don’t what?”

“I know what you’re thinking. Don’t. Rick doesn’t want a Norman Rockwell Christmas. He just wants to be with people who care about him.”

“But—”

“No buts. Trust me on this one. You don’t need to stage a big Hollywood-style scene. Besides, as hot as it is, you’d never get the snow to last.”

Damn, she really could read minds sometimes.

Emma laughed at his expression. “You’re so adorable when you’re in love.”

David stuck his tongue out at her. “When have you ever seen me in love before?”

“Like this? Never. That’s how I know it’s real.”

David certainly hoped it was real. Sometimes he wondered if the emotion was all one-sided—Rick was so guarded with his own.

“When’s he getting in town?”

David started prepping the next batch of cookies. He wasn’t avoiding her eye, really. “In a couple of days, I think.”

“Hmm.” Her tone indicated he wasn’t fooling her with his practiced nonchalance. “I saw his commercial the other day.”

“Did you?” David looked up, all pretence at not caring about Rick’s schedule vaporized. “What did you think?”

“I honestly teared up at his bit, and you know I am not particularly sentimental as a rule. But it was really good.”

The first time David laid eyes on Rick, he’d pictured him in Hollywood, playing a wide variety of tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold roles. He’d pulled some strings when Rick was visiting last and had gotten him an audition for a commercial which featured a solider coming home from the war. It had seemed tailor-made for Rick, and David had been right. Rick was perfect in the role.

“It was good, wasn’t it?” David tried to hide his bias but failed. “I mean, he’s more than just a pretty face—he can act too.”

Em nodded. “I thought he was going to cry when the dog came out of the house and it was so excited to see him. But he didn’t. The emotion was there just under the surface, though. Very convincing. “

“It’s getting a lot of hits on YouTube.” David felt as though it was a personal achievement. Well, in a way, it was. Rick had thought the whole idea of acting silly, and had only gone along with it to prove to David it wouldn’t work. He’d been surprised when he was accepted for the commercial, and staggered by how much he was paid for what he called ‘sixty seconds of work.’ The parent company, which had just been looking for a patriotic, schmaltzy way of tugging at the heartstrings in order to sell diapers, was delighted with the internet appeal of the commercial. David had been getting other nibbles along those lines, casting agents looking for someone with Rick’s devastatingly rugged good looks. Unfortunately, all he could do was forward them on to Rick, along with the membership information to join SAG and the other local organizations for actors. He hoped Rick didn’t think he was being a nag or trying to pressure him into relocating to the mainland.

“He hasn’t said anything more along the lines of moving here, though, has he?”

David shook his head. The only thing David wanted for Christmas was to hear that Rick had given up his air charter business in Hawaii and was moving to California. Where they could have a shot at a real relationship. It was a lot to hope for, though. Nothing could have surprised David more than when Rick came to visit in the first place. Sure, he was reconnecting with his brother again, but he’d spent a lot of nights over at David’s place, just the same.

The twang of a ukulele accompanied “Mele Kalikimaka” on the CD player, and David made a mental note to remember how to pronounce that phrase. It might come in handy over the next couple of weeks.

“No, but we do email each other all the time.” Well, David emailed Rick. He sent chatty emails about his day, and photos that he’d taken that week. He’d written long emails from his hotel room late at night, when he was bored and just a little bit lonely, working on some out-of-town job for Pegasus Productions. Rick, on the other hand, leaned toward one word responses. Sometimes he sent links to interesting articles, which David took as a hopeful sign that they were still in a relationship, but a grand epistolary romance, it was not. On some level David wondered if it would have been different if they were still writing old-fashioned snail mail letters to each other. If maybe the very fact that the letters took so long to arrive would lend some poignancy and strength to the communication. He doubted it though. He suspected only the convenience of email made Rick communicate at all.

Something of his thoughts must have showed on his face.

Em came forward and squeezed his arm. “I just don’t want to see you getting your hopes up or anything.”

“I’m not,” David lied. He forced a smile. “I’m just happy he’s coming into town for Christmas, that’s all. Best gift ever.”

“Uh-huh.” Em touched his arm again. “Well, you know where to find me if you need me. I’ll see you at your party if I don’t catch up with you before then.” She glanced at her watch. “I’m going to be late for yoga class if I don’t leave now.”

“You shouldn’t have eaten those cookies, then. I thought you were supposed to do yoga on an empty stomach.”

Emma wrinkled her nose at him. “Oh-ho, listen to the expert here. Why don’t you come by and sit in on a class sometime? I think it would do you a world of good.”

“Maybe after the New Year.” David smiled and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “Be an angel and restart Bing on your way out, will you? I’m all covered in flour.” He waggled sticky fingers at her. The CD player had fallen silent. “Set it on replay while you’re at it, okay?”

“Sure. See you later!” She waved on her way toward the door, pausing to start the CD player again. The opening bars of “Silent Night” filled the room. David smiled as he went back to the baking. He tried one of the gluten-free cookies he’d made earlier. Adding butterscotch chips to the recipe had been a good idea. They didn’t taste like traditional Toll-House cookies, but they didn’t taste like they were full of sand, either. Still, they weren’t the same as the ‘real thing’. They didn’t bake the same, nor did they have the right consistency. There was nothing he loved better than a crispy on the outside, slightly chewy in the middle Christmas cookie. He couldn’t deny, however, that he felt better since making an effort to go gluten-free. Once the holidays were over, he’d go back to being strict again. For now, “but it’s Christmas” was his excuse for cheating.

The impression of movement behind him caught his attention.

“What did you forget this time, Em?” he asked without turning around.

“I didn’t forget anything. Just admiring the view.”

David dropped the cookie cutter with a clatter and whipped around. Rick was leaning negligently in the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest, his eyes hidden behind dark aviator sunglasses. David stared in disbelief for several seconds, drinking in the long, lean form of his body, memorizing details to take out late at night and review like a miser counting his gold. The way his black T-shirt stretched taut over muscles that were impressive without being ridiculous in the extreme. The half-smile on his face, as though he weren’t quite certain of his welcome. His dark hair sticking up in wild disarray, as if he’d run a careless hand through it without notice of the results. The suggestion of a rapidly approaching five o’clock shadow on his jaw line.

“Rick!” David was conscious of equal parts delight and dismay. Great. He’d meant to look his best when Rick arrived—hell, he’d offered to meet Rick at the airport and had been turned down, so it had been in his mind to look his absolute hottest when Rick finally came over. Happy as he was to see Rick now—two days early hadn’t been in his plans. “What the hell are you doing here?”

It might have been his imagination, but he thought Rick’s features froze just a little.

“Not that I’m not glad to see you,” he added hastily, looking around for something to wipe his hands on and giving up to smear flour all over his shirt when he couldn’t find a dish towel. “But I thought you weren’t coming in for at least another couple of days. This place is a wreck.”

A curious expression passed over Rick’s face; there and gone so fast that David only had time to register that something wasn’t quite right.

There’s something he doesn’t want to tell me. David’s heart began to batter its way against the walls of his chest like a wild bird looking for its way out of a building.

“I was able to trade my ticket for a few extra days.” Rick removed his sunglasses and tucked them into the collar of his shirt. David was tried to decide if he should give in to his joy in seeing Rick again or play it cool and act as though it was no big deal.

Rick took the decision out of his hands, peeling himself off the doorjamb with an easy grace. David found himself meeting Rick halfway, and then they were kissing as only two people who hadn’t seen each other in months could do. As though their very lives depended on the breath of the other. David tried keeping his floury fingers to himself, but Rick had his hands in David’s hair, turning his head so that their lips could lock. David couldn’t help it; he wound his hands into Rick’s T-shirt.

Even when they parted for air, Rick continued to gently nip and peck at David’s lips, displaying a desire for contact quite unlike him. All of David’s apprehensions vanished under Rick’s touch. Instead, he was filled with a need to growl and mark territory—to lay claim to this man and make sure the world knew who he belonged to.

Embarrassment at his feelings made him push Rick back reluctantly. “Crap. I got flour all over your shirt.” He brushed ineffectually at the black cotton—making things worse as he spread flour and remnants of cookie dough.

“I don’t care.” Rick moved in to kiss him again. This time, David could feel the hard length of Rick’s cock pressing against the denim of his jeans. For one glorious moment, David pictured the two of them sweeping the counter clean of the baking, snagging a bottle of olive oil from the cabinet, and going at it like rabbits right there in the kitchen. Hell, they wouldn’t even need to take their clothes off. David thought he might come right now just from rubbing up against Rick, from the very scent of him, from the feel of Rick’s arms around his body. Just a little more friction, a little more rutting, and he’d be there.

Instead, the timer went off for the next batch of cookies.

“Sorry.” David let the regret leach into his voice. “I gotta get these.”

Rick stepped back and watched with that small smile in place as David got the batch of cookies out of the oven.

He raised an eyebrow when David turned the oven off. “Don’t you have more cookies to bake?” He indicated the remaining mound of dough on the counter.

“Screw the cookies.” David did growl this time.

“I’d rather screw you.” Rick gave David his sexy smile now, the one that should be registered as a lethal weapon.

“Perfect. Exactly what I had in mind.” David grabbed Rick by the arm and dragged him, laughing, toward his bedroom.

It didn’t matter that Rick was hiding something from him. It didn’t matter that David wasn’t looking his best. He pushed Rick into his bedroom and hurried down the hall to the bathroom to wash his hands, hastily glancing in the mirror as he did so. Okay, so he was still grubby from his workout. But he recognized the raw need on the face staring back at him in the glass. Fuck or be fucked, he didn’t care. All he knew was that he needed Rick, right now, in his bed.

He fumbled with the nail file, making sure he got all the dough out from under his fingernails, digging furiously in his haste. He shucked off his T-shirt, too, and ran dampened hands through his hair in an effort to look a bit more presentable before returning to the bedroom.

Rick was waiting for him, standing with his back to the room, looking out the window.

Completely naked.

“God, what you do to me,” David said, causing Rick to turn. His cock stood up from the thatch of dark hair at his groin, begging for attention. David loved everything about Rick’s body, but most especially the aerodynamic perfection of his cock and the way Rick’s body hair seemed to do everything in its power to point to that lovely, wonderful organ.

He stalked across his bedroom, clashing with Rick in what was almost a grapple, mouths fighting for domination while their hands groped and clutched.

“Four months, three days, six hours.” Rick’s voice in David’s ear was electrifying. He was keeping track. By god, he was keeping track. Hope surged like a tidal wave and David engulfed Rick’s mouth, inhaling him deeply as their tongues met and fucked.

God, he was so close. It wouldn’t take much more—in fact, this whole thing was about to become very embarrassing if he wasn’t careful. Through his jogging shorts, he took hold of his cock, squeezing it off at the base to avoid coming too soon. He broke off the kiss with a mewl of frustration. “I need you to fuck me.”

The way Rick’s pupils darkened his entire eye was gratifying, to say the least.

Somehow they made it to the edge of the bed. Rick peeled off David’s running shorts, pausing to mouth his dick appreciatively until David pulled him up with a groan. Silently communicating to each other with only their eyes, they tumbled into bed. David reached for the beside drawer where he kept lube and condoms, but Rick beat him to it with a laugh. David rolled onto his back, clasping his knees with his hands and spreading his legs apart as Rick found both lube and a condom. Yeah, he was begging for it. So what?

He cried out at Rick’s first touch, his cock bouncing up in anticipation. The shudder that ripped through his body was exquisite. More. He needed more. He spread his legs even wider, tucking his pelvis up for easy access. Take me. He didn’t care what he looked like. Just fucking take me.

And more he got. Rick lavished attention on his body like a man starved for water finding an oasis in the desert. The backs of his thighs, the curve of his hipbone, the soft skin of his balls. Every time David thought he couldn’t take it anymore, that he was going to blow his wad any second, Rick would somehow settle him down by changing gears and devoting his efforts to another part of David’s body. His nipples were teased and pinched just the way he liked them, sending an electric current straight to his dick. Rick mapped every inch of David’s skin with his mouth, his lovely, oh-so-talented mouth. David writhed and basked under the pleasure of Rick’s touch, again and again coming to the edge of orgasm without crossing over.

David almost sobbed with relief when Rick finally brushed his hole. He arched up into the touch, his thighs quivering with tension. “Oh god, yes. Yes!”

Lubed fingers entered his body, pumping and thrusting in a way that had him rocking back against Rick’s hand.

“Look at you.”

The sound of Rick’s voice, so unusual during their lovemaking, made David open his eyes.

“You want this so bad. You—” Rick was obviously at a loss for words. “You abandon yourself. “

“Less talk, more fucking,” David ground out.

Rick laughed, as he knew Rick would. Rick withdrew his fingers from David’s ass. The loss was keen, but momentary. He watched in fascinated anticipation as Rick rolled on a condom and lined himself up. The pressure of Rick’s cock against his asshole was exquisite torture. David forced himself to relax, even as his entire body wanted to arch up into the pressure entering it.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” David turned his head from side to side as Rick folded him up and began to thrust. He felt the powerful contact of Rick’s thighs against the back of his own, and the indescribable fullness that came from having Rick’s cock fully up his ass. The urge to push back against him was powerful but David held still, maintain his position so that Rick could pound him freely.

A groan tore its way out of Rick’s throat and David smiled to himself at the knowledge of his power. It was a brief triumph, however. Rick caught the edge of his prostate, and David saw sparks behind closed lids. He slid over the edge into his orgasm. Rick continued to pound him, triggering shudder after shudder long after he thought he was done.

Rick suddenly stiffened, and David felt Rick’s thighs tighten as he released himself into the condom, the warmth filling David from within. He hooked his legs around Rick and rested, panting a little with the weight of Rick on top of him.

“Now, that’s what I call a Merry Christmas,” David said, in the quiet that followed.

He felt Rick’s laughter against his chest.

****

“No, you can’t have any sausage balls. They’re for Christmas.”

“I’m starving.”

“Well, if I’d known you were coming into town early, I’d have made sure there was plenty of food for feeding time at the zoo.” The morning sun streamed through the kitchen window, as golden and glorious as David’s mood. He hummed “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” as he filled two mugs with steaming coffee.

“But you have enough to feed an army!” Rick protested. He was looking gorgeous, as usual, shirtless and wearing nothing but sweat pants. David was tempted to give him anything he wanted but felt he had to put up a token fight.

“You’re welcome to as many gluten-free sausage balls as you can eat.” David smiled sweetly.

“Um, thanks but no thanks.” Rick groused a little bit more but then began fixing the two of them omelets with chopped spinach and green peppers.

David cradled his coffee mug in his hands and asked the question he’d been avoiding since yesterday afternoon.

“So why did you come to the mainland early? Does your brother know you’re here?”

Rick froze momentarily as he stood at the stove, his back an expressive line of unwillingness to talk, and then he forced himself to relax. David had to give him credit; his level of self-control was amazing.

He tended to the omelets as though nothing had happened. “I got an audition for your script. For the part of Rick Sheppard. I came over early to test for the part. I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure, but I’ve been offered the part.”

He expertly scooped the omelets out of the frying pan and turned, plates in hand, to face David. His expression was one of hopeful anxiety.

Elation and concern warred within David. He didn’t know what to say.

Rick’s shoulders sagged. “You’re not happy. I can turn the part down, you know.”

“What makes you think I’m not happy?” David forced a beaming smile. Okay, the part had been written with Rick in mind, but there was the fact that Rick would be acting out love scenes with some hot, young actor, and David wouldn’t be human if a part of him wasn’t slightly jealous. “This is fantastic! I mean, I never thought you’d be offered the part, but you are perfect for it.” I wrote it with you in mind, after all. Sure, the part had been written for a younger version of Rick, but it was Rick just the same. There was a kind of beautiful symmetry in Rick playing the part of the dream that had made David bold enough to declare his feelings in the first place.

The tension in Rick visibly eased. “Really? You’re okay with this? I wasn’t going to accept the part until I knew how you felt about it.”

“Are you kidding? You’ll be awesome.” David moved in closer and kissed him. He suddenly pushed Rick back so he could stare at him. “Wait, does this mean you’re relocating to California?”

Red-faced, Rick set the plates on the table. “I got an offer for the charter service. That, plus the insurance money on the wrecked plane gives me a little cushion to see if this acting thing is going to work. I’m not giving up the house in Hawaii just yet,” he was quick to add, “but I can lease that for now. I figure I’ll give the acting thing a shot and see what happens.”

David thought he was happy before, but now he wanted to burst into song like a character from a cheesy musical. “Well, you know you can hang out here until you find a place of your own, if you want.” He made an effort to sound nonchalant, and caught Rick grinning knowingly at him. Oh well.

“Sam doesn’t know I came over early,” Rick confessed when they were cleaning up after breakfast. “I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure what was happening.”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” David warned. “I’ve seen more than one pilot or movie fold for lack of investors or poor market testing. Just because you’ve been offered the part doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing.”

“I know.” Rick was quiet when he answered. After a beat, he said, “Sam invited you to join us for Christmas. I guess he figures they’ll get to see more of me if you’re in the same house too.”

homecooked dinner flickr commonsImages of himself by Rick’s side suddenly flooded his mind—the two of them holding hands at the table, taking a post-prandial walk after they’d stuffed themselves with holiday goodies, his sausage balls being the hit of the gathering. “Cool. I’d like that.”

Rick’s smile was like someone had turned on a spotlight. It dimmed a little as a small frown creased his forehead. “You’re sure you’re okay with the movie thing?”

Rick’s uncertainly was endearing.

“Yes.” David reinforced his affirmation with a kiss. “I was just surprised, that’s all. I hadn’t heard anything at all, and well, you’re brand new at this.” He frowned. “You didn’t agree to a ridiculously low salary, did you?”

Rick snorted. “Don’t worry. Remember, Sam’s a lawyer. He won’t let me sign anything unless he looks it over first.”

“Well, that goes ditto for me too. I know the difference between a good contract and a bad one, so let me take a look at it as well.”

Later that evening, he pulled out his duffle bag with the intent on packing a few things to take with him to Sam’s house. It was the same bag he’d taken with him on their ill-fated flight that had resulted in a crash landing on a deserted island. Sometimes David dreamed of the crash, only in his nightmares he’d turned Rick over in the pilot’s seat to discover sightless eyes staring off into eternity. He always woke from those dreams with a startled gasp. Just being able to reach out and touch Rick was a wondrous thing now.

The bag proved to still have some sand, leaf litter, and bits of paper in the bottom of it, and he took it into the bathroom to shake it over the trash can. Ticket stubs to a luau, markers for a snorkeling trip, and receipts from the hotel fluttered over the can, some spilling onto the floor as well. He picked up the receipts—he’d need those at tax time. In fact, he should have turned them in to his boss for reimbursement long ago. Obviously, those normal post-trip details had slipped his mind in the aftermath of a near-death experience. He gave the bag a final thump and something pinged off the can and landed on the tile.

Frowning, he bent over to pick it up. It appeared to be a small disc of some sort. He thought it was cardboard at first, but then he realized it was some type of compressed fabric.  It was smooth to the touch when touched it. Something about it made him want to rub his fingers over it. When he did, he felt the worn edges of stamped lettering. He flipped the disc over, noting the how thin and frayed the material was around the hole meant for a chain to be threaded through. He couldn’t make out the words at first—he had to tip the disc toward the light.

To his surprise, he realized he was looking at a dog tag. A very old dog tag. He smoothed his thumb over the depressed letters in the material, his hand shaking a bit as he read them.

Sheppard, Richard J

It was followed by a string of numbers and the designation “RAF”.

It couldn’t be. It was impossible. He hadn’t even known that the RAF used compressed fabric for ID tags during WW2—he’d assumed they were metal, the way dog tags were in the military today.

How had it gotten in his bag?

Like a flash, the memory came to him of Rick holding the rotting leather journal they’d discovered in the abandoned base on the island. He knew Rick had tucked it in David’s backpack, which had later been stuffed in the duffle on the trip home.

The tag must have fallen out of the journal. What had happened to the journal?

Clutching the tag in his hand, he rushed to the desk in his bedroom, pushing aside papers and opening drawers until he found what he was looking for: the old journal. The book was in poor condition. He’d only tried to read it once; the ink was faded and the pages wanted to disintegrate when he handled them. He’d put it away, hoping it might dry out. But he’d forgotten all about it. Carefully, he opened the cover. On the flyleaf, in rusty brown lettering, he read the name of the journal’s owner.

David Braxton.

Okay. This was a problem. Names that he thought he’d made up obviously belonged to real people. The very first thing he needed to do was contact the production company and request a name change for the characters.

But that begged the question: how had he come up with the names in the first place? Perhaps he unconsciously picked the name Braxton after having seen it in the journal, though he didn’t remember doing so. But the dog tag? He’d never seen it before today.

Sitting at his desk, the journal in his lap, he opened his palm and looked at the tag lying there. What if his dream wasn’t just a dream? If it was real, then the David in his dream somehow ended up in the South Pacific during the war—and carrying his Rick’s tag.

Goosebumps raised on his arms.

“Hey. You okay?”

He looked up to see Rick leaning in the doorway, like he’d been leaning in David’s doorways his entire life.

David smiled, tucking the tag into his pocket. He closed the journal, placing it on the desk as he stood up. “Yeah.” His voice was a little shaky. “Just got distracted by some research.”

“That from the island?” Rick indicated the book.

David nodded, joining Rick at the door.

“Something tells me there’s another story there.”

“Yeah.” David took Rick’s hand in his own, marveling at the feel of the warm flesh against his skin. “But that can keep for another day.”

“Hey.” Rick looked down at their joined hands, his voice suddenly soft. “Things have been a bit crazy lately. I’m afraid I haven’t gotten you anything for Christmas yet. What do you want?”

He raised his clear blue eyes to lock gazes with David, giving his hand a little squeeze.

“You’re here,” David said simply. “What more could I want?”

The disc felt like it was burning a hole in his pocket.

~the end~

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A 5 Star Review for The Boys of Summer and a community comes together!

Pop A CorkWow! What a great way to start the morning! I woke to a tweet from @Kirstyv1 (Kirsty Vixard from All in One Place) letting me know that she’d posted her review of The Boys of Summer! Can I say I was blown away? Despite the fact that it is sleeting here this morning, I am toasty warm, basking in the glow of such a nice review. 🙂

It’s Day Six of The Boys of Summer Book Tour and there is still so much more to come! Reviews, interviews, blog posts–and tomorrow, I’m hosting a live Twitter chat for one hour at 1 pm EST withe Virtual Writers! We’ll be using the hastag #TheBoysOfSummer, so do drop in for an hour and ask me your questions! You can find me on Twitter @SarahMadisonFic. There are all kinds of ways for you to enter to win the $50 Amazon gift card–just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter wherever it appears on the page!

The Boys of Summer has also been nominated for Best Historical in the Goodreads M/M Romance Readers Choice Awards! The polls have opened for voting–do head over, check out the enormous list of nominees in every category, and vote for your favorites!

sugar cookies wikipedia commonIf you’re here for the Queer Town Abbey Christmas Blog Hop (and the cookie recipe I can no longer eat) then you want to go to this link here. It will tell you all about the hop and the great prizes up for grabs! Due to technical difficulties, the hop is being extended one more day–your chance to get in on some great prizes!

 

Snow_Dog_resizedTo me, Christmas is all about those Christmas miracles. Remember that scene at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, where the townspeople helped by George Bailey show up at his door and shower him with the money out of their pockets? No one person can afford to give much, but because there are so many people involved, the total is more than enough to meet his needs. That scene gets me every time. My heart fills with emotion as they crowd into the entranceway of his old house, filling the room with their love and spontaneous giving. Well, the M/M romance community is doing just that with some of our own. Authors Eric Arvin and T.J. Klune, engaged to be married in real life, are facing what Becky Condit calls a ‘medical tsunami’. Eric is currently hospitalized and facing brain surgery. His recovery will be long and costly. The M/M community, like that of Bedford Falls, is rallying around to help raise money for the couple’s ongoing expenses. Even if you cannot afford to donate at this time, please consider spreading the word. Links to how you can help are on Mrs. Condit & Friends.

With that. I’m headed out to take the dog for a quick run before work! Y’all stay safe and warm now, okay? And give your loved ones a hug.
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What Christmas Means to Me: QTA’s Christmas Blog Hop

qta_christmas_blog_hop-180x179Welcome to my installment of Queer Town Abbey’s Christmas Blog Hop! Have you checked out the master list of participants and all the fabulous prizes being offered? Not to mention all the cookie recipes! Be sure to read all the way through the post to find out what you can do to increase your chances of winning a terrific prize! Once you’ve done that, click on the link to enter take you back to the main list (and the Rafflecopter). Answering the question from this post that will increase your chance of winning! Now, on to the post!

Christmas has always been a bit of an odd thing in my family–a strange hybrid of Scrooge’s Christmas Past and Present. I used to wonder how Scrooge could be so tight-fisted and hard-hearted when he’d experienced the kinds of Christmases his old master Fezziwig enjoyed–but never noticed that’s what my family was like. I grew up in a family of service-oriented people. My father almost always took the Christmas Eve shift at the ER, and we were not allowed to open presents (the most important part of the day to a child) until he returned home late Christmas morning. After we ate breakfast and opened gifts, we’d pile into the car and drive for hours to my grandparents’ house.

christmas tree_stevep2008Now THEY knew how to do Christmas! People of strong religious beliefs, they had no problem with mixing Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, and the celebration of the birth of Christ. The tables groaned with food–all the best that a Church Lady can make. The stack of presents spilled out from under the tree and into the middle of the room. Family came in from all over the country just to share that one day with my grandparents, in a room full of laughter and light. It was magical in every since of the word. Even if there had been no presents at all, we still would have gathered, goofy smiles on our faces, like the Whos down in Whoville the morning after the Grinch stole Christmas.

When my grandparents died, some of the magic went out of Christmas. I entered a service-oriented profession myself, and as a single woman without children, I almost always had to work the holidays. I don’t mind telling you, I resented this attitude that I somehow did not deserve a holiday because I only had a furfamily.

It got harder to get home. There was less reason to go home, as well. Family gatherings were stiff, cold sessions in which everyone kept one eye on the clock, counting the minutes until they could reasonably plead the need to start the drive home because everyone had to be at work the next day. Christmas wasn’t about food or gift-giving, my mother would say. Somehow her God was a lot less happy than the God I grew up knowing.

chocolate chip_wikipedia.orgFor years, I tried to honor Christmas in my own way. I’d decorate, and bake cookies to give to friends (even though the rest of the year, I am no Martha Stewart!). I’d watch my favorite holiday movies. I’d save all year and buy myself a really nice gift–a new saddle, or that laptop I desperately needed to replace. But over the years, I’ve noticed that I’ve gradually stopped doing that as well. The movies are available on DVD or Netflix or cable 24/7. There is nothing special about sitting down to watch Rudolph now. I can’t be bothered decorating when I am rarely home and I’ll just have to take it all down myself anyway. I’ve developed a wheat-intolerance–holiday baking is just not the same. And money has been tight enough lately that big extravagant gifts to myself once a year are a thing of the past.

Imagine my surprise when I realized I’d turned into Scrooge. Yep. Slowly over the years, the joy of preparing for Christmas has turned into ‘one more thing on the to-do list.’ Even though I am no longer a family of one, I have only been giving Christmas a half-hearted effort for years now. The answer is obvious, of course. Like any relationship, you get out of Christmas what you put into it. For years I’ve worked myself to the point of exhaustion–it’s hard to make merry when you’d rather spend the day asleep in your bed.

So this year, it’s going to be different. I’ve pulled out my favorite movies. I’m looking into gluten-free baking options. I’m going to do Christmas–maybe not like my Granny used to do, but with the joy and love of the season. I hope you will, too.

Muppet Christmas CarolRemember when I said my favorite Christmas story was “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens? Well, I have to confess right here, my favorite version of that story is the Muppets version. Remember that. “Muppets”. It will be important when you go check out the Rafflecopter on QTA’s master list!

And in other news, I’ll be starting my book tour for The Boys of Summer with Virtual Writers on Monday Dec 9-22! There will be interviews, a live Twitter chat, blog posts, and lots of chances for you to enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card–that would be handy right about now, wouldn’t it? 🙂 Be sure to come back to the website for all the details, or check out the book tour schedule here.

Oh my! I almost forgot the cookie recipe! This is a favorite, especially if you like to cut out cookies in your favorite holiday shapes, but it IS a little tricky. I got the recipe many years ago from a friend who ‘added flour until it felt right.’ Those recipes can be challenging to translate, so your mission, should you choose to accept, is to try this recipe this year and let me know how it turns out!

sugar cookies wikipedia commonSarah Madison’s Sour Cream Cookies:

I cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

Flour sufficient to roll dough (4.5 to 5 cups all-purpose flour)

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add 1/2 of the cup of sour cream. Mix the baking soda and cream of tartar into the remaining half of the sour cream and all to the total mixture. Put in enough flour sufficient to allow handling (usually about 4.5 to 5 cups). Roll and cut out. Decorate with colored sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown (about 9-11 minutes). Very nice with grated lemon rind added!

This blog hop will overlap my book tour a bit, but never fear, I’ll keep you posted on both events!

 

 

 

 

MJ O’Shea shares “Newton’s Laws of Attraction”

newtonslawsofattraction_finalHi everyone! Today we’re spotlighting MJ O’Shea and her latest Dreamspinner Press release, Newton’s Laws of Attraction!

MJ O’Shea is here to share a little bit about what this holiday season means to her, as well as an excerpt from her newest release!

And now… MJ!

Christmas, for me, has always been about family — about decorating with my mom and giving ourselves goofy holiday manicures, baking, visiting my grandparents, going on walks and taking strings of fruit for the deer in the park. I’ve never associated Christmas with falling in love.

But New Years? New Year’s is for romance 🙂 It doesn’t have to be falling in love, exactly, there are all kind of romance to be found in places you’d never expect. Maybe it can be a general sort romance, a magical night where everything is shiny and new and all kinds of things are possible, maybe it’s just the romance of a really close group of friends, pretty glittery things and a few great drinks. No matter what, that night has always been romantic for me, no matter what form.

homecooked dinner flickr commons But of course it doesn’t hurt to have that one fantastic midnight kiss:) It can be from someone you’ve loved for years, a new fling, maybe even a mysterious stranger! Magic and romance can come in lots of forms. In Newton’s Laws of Attraction, I tried to give my two main characters, Ben and Rory, that magical fun night with friends and the kind of New Year’s kiss that makes everything perfect…

Newton’s Law of Attraction

By MJ O’Shea

Publisher Dreamspinner Press

Genre M/M Contemporary        

Release Date 11/27/13

Blurb: Rory was Ben’s oldest and best friend until senior year of high school, when they confessed they’d harbored feelings for each other all along. They enjoyed only a few months of happiness until Ben chose closeted popularity over true love… and he’s regretted it ever since.

Eight years later, Ben is out and proud and teaching art at the same high school he graduated from. When he learns the chemistry teacher is retiring, he’s excited to meet her replacement until he finds out the brand new teacher is none other than Rory Newton—the first love he’s never quite gotten over. Despite a painfully awkward start, it doesn’t take Ben long to realize he’ll do whatever it takes to win Rory back. But it’s starting to look like even his best might not be enough.

NEW YEARS was a giddy, blurry night. Ben still couldn’t quite believe what had become of his life, how much things had changed since September. The guys, Jeremy’s wife, Pinky, and a few of her musician friends had gathered at Sugarshack for a silly night of dancing and drinking in a room full of strangers. Ben had thought that things might be weird between him and Rory in front of their friends, that maybe they wouldn’t touch, or that Rory would pull away like he had been all fall. Not even close.

Who knew if it was the alcohol or the high from a room full of glittery happy people, but Rory acted nothing like Ben had expected. Their whole group did a round of shots when they first got there, and then Ben nearly got knocked to the ground by an exuberant Rory who wanted to dance. He laughed and held out his hand, which Rory used to drag him out to the dance floor. They’d never danced together before. Ben was pretty glad because he was rather sure he couldn’t have handled it. Even with the others crowding around them—Fen laughing and spinning Pinky, Jeremy and Delia bouncing up and down, Pinky’s friends joining the show—it still felt like he and Rory were alone and quiet in the eye of a raging storm of people, touching, grinding, pressing closer and closer.

They danced and touched and laughed and drank and touched, and Ben wanted to kiss Rory so damn bad, but he didn’t know what was acceptable. The clock counted down to midnight, to another year gone. For the first time in ages, Ben didn’t feel that year had been like a black wasted hole. He was finally where he wanted to be. Almost, at least.

It seemed like only a few minutes had passed when the actual countdown began. Ben had been at the bar with Fen when it started, but he looked out over the crowd, searching for a glowing head of caramel waves. There he was, and he was looking for Ben too, head popping up over the crowd until they connected gazes, and Rory’s face broke open into a huge grin. So that’s the way it was.

Ben turned away from the bar and surged through the crowd. Ten, nine… there he was, only a few feet away. Five, four… he reached Rory, and they just stood there for a second. But then Rory’s hands were reaching out toward Ben’s, and their fingers entwined, and fuck it. He didn’t care. When the crowd shouted, ringing in the new year, he rubbed his nose against Rory’s and kissed him, kissed him like none of their friends were ten feet away, probably with their mouths wide open, but hopefully, finding their own kiss, their own moment of happiness. He kissed him like, well, like he was in love and it was a beautiful night and anything was possible. That’s what it felt like, no matter what the truth was. They drew away from each other, smiling and goofy.

“Happy New Year, Ro,” Ben whispered in his ear.

“You too, Ben.”

I hope you enjoyed the little excerpt, and thank you for having me!!

My pleasure, MJ! I hope you’ll come back again sometime! You an find mind online at the following links:

Website: http://mjoshea.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MjOsheaSeattle

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mj.oshea.5

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3512511.M_J_O_Shea

About MJ O’Shea:

I’m Mj O’Shea, author of erotic romance–well all sorts of romance actually, that’s just what’s been published so far!

I grew up, and still live, in sunny Washington state and while I love to visit other places, I can’t imagine calling anywhere else home.

I spent my childhood writing stories. Sometime in my early teens, the stories turned to romance. Most of those were about me, my friends, and our favorite tv stars. Hopefully, I’ve come a long way since then…

Right now, I have four books published through Republica Press (click on the link to visit their site), but I’m constantly working on new projects.

When I’m not writing, I love to play the piano and cook and paint pictures…and of course read. It’s nearly impossible to work on my own writing when I’ve gotten myself hooked into a great new book:) I like sparkly girly girl things, own at least twenty different colored headbands, and I have a little white dog with a ginger eye spot who sits with me when I write. Sometimes she comes up with ideas for me too…when she’s not napping.

 

The Traveler Returns: What Happens After the Adventure Ends?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing The Hobbit. I like Martin Freeman as an actor–I think he’ll lend just the right touch to the role. The Hobbit was my favorite of all the Lord of the Rings books, and I loved the movie adaptation of the trilogy.

But I feel a little like Bilbo now, once he finally returned to the Shire and Bag End. Mind you, my own abode is not the tidy, comfy little home depicted in the movie trailers. If I were Bilbo, I wouldn’t have wanted to leave either.  But I did the reverse this past week, I left my not very pleasing home and journeyed to the land of The Hobbit–traversing much of England in gentle meandering way that did my bruised and weary soul much good. I only wish it could have lasted longer.

I didn’t take in the sights, though everywhere I turned there was a breathtaking piece of history or scenery to see. I took in the people. The homes where books were stacked floor to ceiling in haphazard and sometimes dangerously tilting piles, and yet their owners could lay their hands on a favorite title at will. I  discovered tea with milk is a most wondrous thing (and know not how I lived without it so long). I ate vegetables I’d never heard of, such as celeriac, and ones I thought I hated, such as parsnips, brussels sprouts and field greens. I ate myself silly, in fact, as gluten free options are not only plentiful but delicious as well.

And I walked. I walked down muddy lanes and along the South Downs. I walked on fields so green they didn’t seem they could possibly be real, with sunlight that poured in great golden beams from behind scudding clouds overhead. I walked in picturesque old towns that could have been pulled out of a Dickens story, saw uniformed school children that looked like they could have just come from Hogwarts, found a piece of a Roman temple and held it in my hand.  I walked along the streets of Oxford on a drizzling day and saw the actual locations of places mentioned in my favorite book, Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. I drank pots of tea and toasted crumpets on the fire. I walked hand in hand in the rain with someone I love.

I met dear friends and made new ones.

And I learned so much! Not just in terms of fascinating local and cultural history (but I now know why racehorses were sold in guineas–because the commission to the sales agent was factored in–so if a horse sold for 20,000 guineas, then 20,000 pounds went to the owner and 2,000 shillings went to the agent.) but in life lessons too.

I learned that things that make you turn up your nose on hearing about it (say, for example, tea with milk) are often fabulous in the reality. That when you never leave home, everything is an adventure.Just walking down the street of a town you’ve never seen in a country you’ve never been is magical. When you’re happy, you eat what you want and stop when you’re full, and you don’t have to worry about your weight. That much of what I worry about on a regular basis really doesn’t matter in the big picture, nor does worrying about it change the outcome.

I need to play more and work less. I need to write until the story is done and not to arbitrary goals and deadlines set my myself as a means of ‘making it’ as a writer. I need to walk the dog and ride the horse while I can because there will be a time when I can’t do these things–and I will look back on this time with regret for not doing them more often.

I need to breathe moist air, rich with the smell of soil and growing things, on a regular basis. I need to read more books and spend less time online. My stories will be all the better for these things, and to a writer, that’s what really counts in the end.

But I do wonder how Bilbo felt when he returned home at last, never to go adventuring again. Glad to be safe and sound in his snug home once more? Or thinking regretfully of the beautiful vistas and magnificent cities he’s left behind? I know I’ve come back bursting with ideas of how I can incorporate my experience into the latest WIP–how England itself will become a character in the story as the next section unfolds.

I can’t wait to start working on it.

So while I am spending Christmas alone this year, I’m not really alone. I have a stack of presents to open tomorrow, thinking of all my dear friends as I do so. I will head out to the barn to dole out carrots and scrape the mud off my mare so I can ride her. I will watch the Muppet Christmas Carol tonight and work on my stories. And I will love every minute of it.

Wishing the very best for you and yours this holiday season!

 

Going for Gold, the Olympic themed M/M anthology has been nominated for the 2012 Goodreads M/M Romance Readers Choice Awards! Voting is open until 12/31 and you don’t have to be a member of the group to vote–though it’s easy to join as well. Drop by and vote on your favorite books, authors, characters, pairings and more!

Also, Dreamspinner is holding a huge Christmas sale! I just found out about it and it is almost over, but you still have time to do a little last minute Christmas shopping for that lover of M/M romances in your life (even if that is just you!)

 

What’s coming up next?

Christmas Tree via flickr Creative Commons stevep2008

Oh my! There’s a lot coming up soon on the website and in my life. I’m about to go on the adventure of a lifetime–my first honest-to-god take-the-whole-week-off vacation since 2004! And when I sat down and counted in the holidays, I realized that this is the first time I’ve taken 12 days off in a row since the early 90s.

And if that weren’t exciting enough, I’m actually leaving the country. As in getting on a jet, using a passport, the whole nine yards. You might think my level of excitement is a bit extreme, but think about it: how likely is it that I’ve ever been anywhere exciting if I’ve never had more than 4-5 days off in a row for over a decade? Yes! I am very excited! I bought a 32 GB card for my camera, just so I wouldn’t run out of data storage before my return!

The best part is that I will be traveling to the UK, which happens to be the location of not only the current WIP, Hold the Reins, my story about Olympic level event riders, but the site of a joint project I’ve been discussing with my good friend and co-author, Claire Russett. Hold the Reins is the expanded version of Lightning in a Bottle, one of eight novellas included in the M/M romance anthology, Going for Gold. Local color! Authenticity! It all comes down to the stories in the end, my friends! And the best part is I will be spending this time with someone I love, as well as meeting up with old friends and new ones, too! I will also being seeing first hand some of the places I’ve read about my entire life but so far had only lived in my imagination. I am beside myself with anticipatory glee, guys!

As such, this means I’m going to have to set up some things to deploy on remote–my internet access will be limited until I return. So although I am participating in the Secret Santa Blog Hop (individual prizes with each blog, and comments/ blog following gains you additional entries for the Grand Prize of a Kindle!) running Dec 17-19th, the blog is set on a time delay, as I will already be out of the country! Do leave your comments and your email address when it appears, however, as I will get to them as soon as possible. You might have to wait a bit to see a moderated comment, however, as I will have limited internet access during my trip.

Be sure and check back on the 17-19th, however, to read my blog and comment to be entered into the various contests. More details on that blog to follow!

I will also have a guest interview spot on the 18th with Sharon Buchbinder, that I really enjoyed! I hope you will stop by there as well when the link goes live (details to follow) and leave a comment as well.

Until the next update, then…it’s back to planning and packing for me!