Writing Life: The Rewards of Patience

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“That’s the magic of revisions – every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.”  ― Kelly Barnhill

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.” ― Stephen King

“The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” ― Neil Gaiman

I recently hit the point in revising HOW TO HEAL A LIFE where I’m even more connected to the story and the characters. I’m adding those extra little touches that allow for deeper meaning and emotional impact. I’m learning far more than I knew I was missing about who these characters are. At the same time, I’ve been strengthening their interactions, tweaking the overall story arc, and filling in any plot holes.

It feels really good to be at this point. I wanted to wrap this book up MONTHS ago, but I’m so very glad I stuck it out and kept on plugging away at the revision phase instead of calling it “quits” too early. I would’ve been seriously disappointed in myself. Especially when it came to this book. Seth’s journey is a difficult one, but I always hoped that would make the book all the more emotional and powerful for the reader. I wanted to give his story the attention it deserved. 

Now it’s coming together to be what I’d always envisioned for his story, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have a bit more to go with the revisions, but for me, this is one of the most rewarding parts of the writing process. I can’t wait to do my next read-through and see the full effect.

Sloan’s Favorites: Learning to Love Again

Here’s another one of my picks for my “Favorite Scenes” blog series. It’s an excerpt from my second novel BREATHE.

Why I chose this excerpt: This scene includes one of my favorite moments from BREATHE, when Jay shows Lincoln his tattoo of the two wolves running side by side and tells him that he wants a future together, all while they stand in the location where they had their first kiss.

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Lincoln sucked in a long breath with Jay’s words. He watched the other man leave. Jay didn’t falter as he made his way through the bar and out the rear entrance. The door closed behind him, and Lincoln faced the line of whiskey bottles.

Could he really do this?

He wanted to believe he owed it to himself. The truth was, he owed it to both of them.

He stood and followed the same path Jay had, passing by the old guy sipping whiskey at a table near the bathrooms. Lincoln didn’t hesitate. He shoved open Sonny’s back door and exited into the warm night air. The full moon lit the parking lot more than the streetlamps.

Jay waited for him, leaning against the wall near where they’d first kissed, where they’d first touched.

“Come here.” Jay tugged him in close.

Lincoln couldn’t trust himself to hold Jay. He stared at the man’s chest—where the blood had been when he’d lifted Jay into his truck and drove him to the hospital, where he had pressed against the blood-soaked shirt as he raced through the streets, listening to the breaths gurgling out of Jay, feeling the tears stream over his own cheeks. “Are you okay?”

“I am now.”

He kept staring at Jay’s chest; it moved up and down with each breath. He’d spend forever watching the man breathe if he could.

Jay cupped Lincoln’s chin and forced his head up until their gazes locked. “I’ll be okay if you say yes. I don’t want to live without you.”

“This—us—it can’t work.”

“It has to.” Jay brushed his lips over Lincoln’s ear. “I don’t want to lose you.”

The warmth of Jay’s body against his made it hard to think. Lincoln gripped Jay’s hip in his hand. “Can you promise me every time you look at me she isn’t all you’ll see? That you won’t see everything I took from you?”

Jay kissed along Lincoln’s cheek and chin to the corner of his mouth. “Every time I look at you all I see is you. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, but I don’t even want to think what it’ll be like if we don’t try. She deserves to be remembered, to be talked about. I’d like to share her with you. I know you’re strong enough to learn to love her too. Not to hate yourself because we’re here and she’s not.”

“You give me a lot of credit.”

“You’ve earned it.” Jay wrapped his arms around Lincoln’s neck. The press of Jay’s mouth to his melted Lincoln’s resolve to think instead of feel. He pulled Jay closer. Their tongues met, like old lovers, tentative, slow at first, relearning each other, remembering what was so good about being together.

Lincoln fell into the sweet oblivion of kissing Jay. His world shrank to that parking lot, to the two of them.

Slowly Jay placed one chaste kiss after another on Lincoln’s lips before speaking. “I was thinking…”

“You think too much.” Lincoln leaned in. He wanted more of that kiss. More of Jay.

Jay pressed two fingers to Lincoln’s lips. “You need somewhere to live. And I could use help fixing up my place.”

“You can’t seriously—”

“I want you to live with me. If it’s too weird to live in my house, I want us to get our own place.”

“Jay…my sister needs me.”

“She’ll have you. She’s got the money to buy a new house. To take care of Jessica, the boys. There’ll be more than enough.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I gave her my share of the settlement. I never wanted it. It was my parents and Stuart who started it all.”

Lincoln stared at Jay, then grabbed him by the back of the neck and crushed their mouths together. Jay Miller couldn’t possibly be for real.

How the hell had this man, practically a kid, whom Lincoln had hurt so badly, kept from turning into an angry, jaded person? How had Jay learned to love again?

Following his lead was the least Lincoln could do. He wanted a life with Jay. Wanted to believe they could move beyond the past and really live again.

Wanted to believe forgiveness and love were enough.

Jay held Lincoln’s face in his hands. “Come home with me, Linc.”

Lincoln rested his forehead against Jay’s temple. “You’re sure?”

“I am.” Jay lifted the sleeve of Lincoln’s T-shirt and traced his fingers over the destroyed tattoo. “The eagle’s a symbol of courage and wisdom. Some believe if you can embrace both, you can fly above all of the shit in your life.”

“All of it?”

Jay nodded and rolled up his own shirtsleeve. The outline of an eagle feather crossed his upper arm; two wolves filled the interior of the feather, running side by side.

Lincoln ran the tips of his fingers over one wolf, then the other. “Why?”

“I wanted you to know…to see…we can both live beyond our pasts. Together.”

(c) Sloan Parker, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

The full story is available at: Amazon US | iBooks | B&N | All Romance eBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Sloan’s Favorites: A meaningful moment in MORE

Here’s another selection in my “Favorite Scenes” series. It’s from MORE (More Book 1).

Why I chose this excerpt: Selecting an excerpt from this book was actually much harder than I thought it would be. There were several I wanted to share. I decided on the following moment because I love that Luke is finally asking the question he wondered the very first night he met Richard: how did Richard get the scar on his chest. It takes Luke a long time, but he’s also finally able to open up and say he wants to live with them.

More (More Book 1)

This excerpt is NSFW.

Richard jerked back. “I want you both to move in with me, permanently.”

It took a moment for my swimming head to shake off the desire. “Stay?”

“Stay. Indefinitely. Stop pretending you’ll be looking for an apartment at some point. Move all your stuff here. No talk of this place as mine anymore. It’ll be ours.”

I didn’t say anything.

“I know this is a huge thing for you.”

I stared at my hands. No tensing. No freaking. No desire to run. “Okay.”

“What?”

I looked up at him. Hopeful green eyes gazed back at me.

“It may not seem like it, but I’m trying. I want to stay here. I want to make this work.” I want to believe nothing will make me leave. Not me. Not my father.

Richard flung himself at me. The force sent me sailing over the side of the chair. I landed on my back with him on top of me.

“Oh God. Luke, are you okay?”

“Yeah. Ow. I think so.” I laughed and rubbed the back of my head.

His fingers explored my scalp.

I brushed his hands away. “I’m fine.”

He smiled at me, and his lips covered mine again. He rolled us around on the floor, tickling my sides. I laughed more, letting the ease and comfort wash over me.

I attempted a dodge of his movements. My hips and ass wiggled, but his solid body pinned me in place. He unbuttoned the top of my pants and slid a hand in. I was still laughing as he grasped my dick.

He didn’t relent with his hand or his mouth. I thrashed my hips into his touch. He knew how to work me with his big fist. I could smell my own need.

My hands grazed his bulge as I went for his pants, and he groaned. I lowered the zipper, pushed down his underwear, and released the red, swollen prick. As it always did, his cock firmed more with my touch. I considered taking him in my mouth, but his next words stopped me in my tracks.

“God, Luke. I need to fuck you.”

I stilled. “Maybe we should leave the clothes on.”

Richard threw his head back and laughed. “I’d hope I can have at least some control.” I stroked his cock. His eyes rolled back and he pumped his hips. “Uh…okay. Let’s leave the clothes on, but let me at your dick.”

He undid my pants and lay on top of me. We rocked in swift jabs, sliding our dicks together, and came fast. We lay on the kitchen floor, breathless, our shirts lifted, our stomachs slick with our spunk, and our spent cocks lying free.

Some goddamn humping, and it was one of the best fucks of my life.

Richard reached for a kitchen towel and wiped us clean before he fell back onto the floor beside me. “Shit, never thought you’d say yes.”

“Me neither. When you first asked us to stay, I thought I’d be moving to Walter’s after two days.”

He rolled onto his side and propped his head on a bent arm. “That was my fear. It only grew the more I got to know you. At first I didn’t want to see you leave before you gave us a try. Then I didn’t want to see you go because I didn’t think I could take you walking out on us.”

I pushed him over and straddled his hips. I drove my lips, my body, my hands against him, letting him feel me, showing him I had no intention of leaving.

I swept my hands under his shirt. I’d never get over the addiction of his skin. My fingers brushed over the scarred flesh. “How’d you get this?”

A laugh rushed out of him. It was almost Matthew’s giggle. It took a moment before he could form words. “Matthew asked me that the first week you were here.”

“I never said I was one for heart-to-hearts.”

He lifted a hand to my face. “I never asked you to be.” His fingers stroked my cheek. He dropped his hand and snaked it under his shirt to the edge of the scar by his nipple. “Some homophobic asswipes attacked me at a college party. One of them had a knife.”

“Oh God.” I unbuttoned his shirt and ran my fingers through the blond chest hair, over the firm pectoral muscles. His flesh jumped. Small bumps rose up. The color of his tan skin darkened. My fingertips examined the raised line of flesh.

He sucked in a sharp breath. “Luke.”

I traced the scar to his underarm and back.

“I’ve never liked anyone touching me there but you.”

Heat rose in my cheeks. “It was bad?”

“I was in the hospital for a week. I lost a lot of blood, and there was an infection. It was full of dirt and glass from the beer bottles. They dragged me pretty far.”

“What happened?”

“I’ve never hidden who I prefer to sleep with. My junior year I lived in a frat house on campus. Some of the brothers didn’t like knowing a gay guy slept in the same house they did. They wanted me out, and beating the shit out of me was their best plan. I lost the fight.”

“That’s hard to imagine.”

“It was me against five. I knew I’d never win. Not when I saw the knife. But I couldn’t back away. I couldn’t let them push me around.” He laid a hand over mine. “No one bothered me again. The rest of the fraternity respected me for fighting—for staying when it would have been easier to leave.” He moved our combined hands along the scar until my palm lay over his heart. “They sent me to a plastic surgeon, but I didn’t want it fixed. I wanted the scar.”

“Why?”

“To remind me no matter where I go in life, someone could always have an issue with me. For whatever reason. Because I’m well-off. Because I’m opinionated. Because I’m gay. I can’t let people get in my way or I’ll never succeed. I’ll never get what I want.”

“What do you want, Richard?”

“Right now? I want you to move in with me.”

(c) Sloan Parker, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

The full story is available at: Amazon US | iBooks | B&N | All Romance eBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Interview & Giveaway: Enter for a chance to win a gift card and free Sloan Parker book

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I’m a guest at On Top Down Under Book Reviews this week to help celebrate their third anniversary. I’m talking about writing the sequels to MORE, the next Haven book, and my other upcoming projects.

Stop by to check out my interview, enter the giveaway, and wish On Top Down Under congrats for three years of blog awesomeness.

Sloan’s Favorites: Best friends become lovers in TAKE ME HOME

Here’s another selection in my “Favorite Scenes” series. It’s from TAKE ME HOME, winner of the Oklahoma RWA’s International Digital Awards in the Contemporary Novel category.

Why I chose this excerpt: This is Kyle and Evan’s first kiss in ten years, and it starts them down an inevitable, explosive path. I loved taking a guy like Kyle and transforming him so he’s totally fixated on one man, focused on proving himself to the only sexual partner he’s ever loved.

Take Me Home

 

Evan shivered. Which made no sense. He was still warm from the run, the sweat on his skin not even dry yet.

Kyle took another step. Evan wanted him to stop. He wanted to shout all the reasons why this had to stop, before it got started, wanted to tell Kyle not to move another inch.

He didn’t.

And Kyle didn’t stop coming at him until they were practically touching, Kyle staring down at him.

Evan tried to focus on Kyle’s words, on the news about the journal and his grandpa, but all he could think about was what he’d seen when he’d walked into the apartment: Kyle, all skin and taut muscles, wearing only his tight-as-sin white underwear, the briefs stretched over his cock, and the way Kyle had looked at him in the dim light of the hallway.

Just once. He’s leaving anyway. Evan closed his eyes and forced himself to concentrate on the conversation. He looked up at Kyle again. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” Kyle said the word with a slight curve of his lips. He took a step back and reclined against the wall, looking casual, like he was about to flirt with a bartender for a free drink. “After I read it, I was thinking about that night in the motel room in Iowa on our first drive out here.” He slowly swung his head in Evan’s direction. “Do you remember that night?”

Evan nodded.

“Do you ever think about it?” Kyle’s voice was barely a whisper.

Up until a few months ago, Evan hadn’t let himself, but since he’d moved in with Kyle… “Sometimes.”

“Like right now?”

“Yeah.”

Kyle slid along the wall, traveling the last remnants of space between them. “Ev, I’ve been waiting ten years to finish what we started.” He pushed off the wall and turned until they were face-to-face again, his dark eyes unflinching as he leaned in. He stopped before their lips touched. The heat of that mouth and body so close stoked the fire inside Evan.

His own body reacted, his cock pushing at his shorts. He wanted to shove Kyle against the wall and kiss him until morning, do everything he’d ever dreamed of when it came to touching Kyle, everything he ached to feel about the man.

The smile Kyle gave him next wasn’t the usual cocky one he’d used with countless guys over the years. He pressed forward and slid his lips along Evan’s skin from the base of his neck to his earlobe, leaving a trail of goose bumps in his wake. He lingered over Evan’s ear and whispered, “You smell so damn good. I want to fuck you, Ev.”

Evan shivered again. “We shouldn’t…” He couldn’t say more. Didn’t want to. The time for talking was over. Kyle ran the tip of his tongue along the outside of Evan’s ear, and Evan instinctively moved closer. His breath hitched with the touch of Kyle’s bare abs against him. Why had he worn a T-shirt to go running?

Using only the weight of his body, Kyle turned them until Evan’s back was against the hall wall, then flattened his palms to the wall on either side of Evan’s head. He licked his lips and spread his legs until their bodies lined up groin to groin, then rolled his hips, putting pressure against Evan’s cock. “God, Ev…”

With that movement, those two words, Evan groaned and let his head fall back to the wall. He couldn’t stop himself. He rocked his hips in time with Kyle’s. The feel of Kyle’s body, his hard cock against him, drove Evan’s own arousal higher.

Kyle spoke again, his voice even lower. “It could be so fucking good.”

Evan lost track of the arguments he’d been telling himself since he’d left the apartment earlier. He raised his head, and their lips met, the softest brush of flesh until Kyle opened his mouth, seized Evan by the back of the head, and slid his tongue into the touch. The kiss deepened, and Evan thought he’d never be able to stop feeling Kyle’s mouth on his, their tongues pressed together.

(c) Sloan Parker, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

The full story is available at: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | iBooks | B&N | All Romance eBooks | Kobo | Google Play