What a wonderful story…
I dedicated my latest novel, HOW TO SAVE A LIFE, to one very special young man named Gary. Who is he? I wrote a guest post several years ago where I shared about Gary, my very first love. Since How to Save a Life’s been out for a few weeks, I thought I’d repost that old blog entry for anyone who’d like to know more about the story behind the dedication.
The following was originally posted at Fiction with Friction on March 25th, 2010.
My first release is available at Loose Id this week, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. The book is titled MORE and is the story of a confirmed loner who breaks all his rules for two men he meets at a sex club. Too bad his father will do almost anything to put a stop to the relationship.
Writing and submitting a book was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. And with its release I’ve been thinking a lot on life and goals and love and risks.
Thinking about all that took me back in time to my very first love.
He was an older boy who lived down the street from me and wanted to play “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Uh, get your minds out of the gutter, folks. He was talking about my horse and his goat.
And no, those aren’t some special code words for penis and vajayjay. I grew up on a farm. I really had a horse. And he really had a goat.
There was much discussion on the deal. I think it went like this…
Gary: “I’ll bring my goat tomorrow.”
Gary: “You can show me your horse.”
I think I mentioned he was older than I, and I was seriously crushing on him, so words weren’t my forte right then. I was lucky I could form single syllables.
The next day, he dragged that goat almost a mile from his house to mine along a major two-lane US highway. I can just imagine all the truckers and summer vacationing families laughing at this kid walking his goat down the center of the ditch, the blazing sun beating down on them, sweat dripping off his brow, the stubborn goat stopping every few steps, and Gary dragging it by the little rope he had looped around her neck. You really would have thought Gary was getting a piece of ass for how much effort he went to with that goat. That boy loved horses.
I would’ve loved a kiss, but I never did get to kiss Gary.
After the horse/goat deal, we didn’t see each other as much. When it came time for me to go to the same high school as he, I decided I’d work up the nerve to talk to him again. It was my chance to get him to notice me. I had it all planned out. I was going to be lost, wandering by his locker and have to ask him how to find my next classroom. Not the greatest setup, but I was fourteen. Give me a break.
Never did get to try it out, though. Gary was killed in a car crash before the school year started. As far I know, he never did get to ride a horse.
That’s a regret I still carry with me. I should have asked Gary if he wanted to take my horse out for a ride, even if it meant I’d get in trouble when my parents got home. I should’ve offered. I should’ve asked.
I should’ve kissed him.
If I had only known that summer we spent together was the only one I was ever going to have, I would have taken a chance sooner.
Sometimes taking a risk is the best option. So my advice…if there’s ever something you really want to try but are afraid to, don’t let the fear stop you. I wanted to write a novel about three men who meet on the same night and fall in love. I guess…dreams really do come true.
So what was your first love? Your first crush? Did you kiss? Hold hands? Come on, I’m feeling nostalgic. Share…
Good luck to each of you on making your own dreams come true.
To all my readers, a huge thank-you for helping HOW TO SAVE A LIFE reach the Top 10 Bestseller’s list (currently #4) at All Romance eBooks and the Gay & Lesbian Romance Bestseller list at Amazon (top location spotted was #4). My first novel MORE has even reappeared as a bestseller (#2 in Gay & Lesbian Erotica at Amazon). THANK YOU, EVERYONE!
Also, thank you for all the recent emails and other messages about the book. Hearing from readers means a great deal to me, and your words of appreciation and encouragement seriously help me through the tougher writing days. I’m thrilled so many of you are enjoying Walter and Kevin’s story.
All my thanks,
“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song”
–from “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden
An adorable Christian and Olli fan vid.
I had to permanently retire my old keyboard and have sent it off to the tech recycling center. I wrote MORE, BREATHE, TAKE ME HOME, and several of my short stories on this one. Actually, if you look close you can see there were two of them. That’s how much I loved this keyboard. I would still be using it too, but one of them no longer worked and on the other some of the keys were sticking and others had completely stopped working. Hard to type a 100,000+ word manuscript with no “S” key.
Good-bye, old friend. Thanks for helping me tell my tales.
I learn something new with each story I write. Both about me and the craft of writing fiction. As I’ve shared before, my current novel has been through a rocky schedule in terms of the actual writing, but it has had some of the biggest lessons for me when it comes to the “how” of writing.
Here’s what I’ve learned or had reinforced into my writer’s brain this past week:
- It’s amazing how many bits of dialogue or even entire scenes I thought were important that never make it in the final manuscript. They are the moments that seemed to be at the core of the story and its meaning when I was writing the outline, yet once I’m into the story on a deeper level, those “darlings” just seem to lose their punch. But they were important for the journey. They helped me get to where I wanted the story to go. Writing is a process.
- I can’t be afraid of moving a scene to a completely new setting. Sometimes I’m telling the right interactions and dialogue in the wrong place. The scene can take on a new intensity in the “right” location. Setting can influence the entire tone of a story. If two characters fall in love while moving from public place to public place, that story will have a very different feel than a story about two characters falling in love while staying at one of their homes, just the two of them for days on end.
- When I’m stuck on a character’s emotional reactions, I should always go back to the basics. What are the character’s goals, wants, needs? And how are those driving his actions and his responses? I can’t be afraid to make the story primal. Humans are complex creatures, but we are also driven by simple, personal motivations.
- I have to be “feeling” a scene to revise it. Sure, the writing hasn’t been polished yet, some of the sensory details are missing, and I have yet to write parts of the emotional responses and dialogue, but if I’m not interested in the core of what is going on in the scene, who the hell else will be? I give the scene two chances to pull me in. Maybe I was in a bad mood the first read through or maybe my mind was on something else. If I’m still not feeling it on the second read through, it’s back to the drawing board. Every scene, every interaction doesn’t just need a purpose, it doesn’t just need to move the story forward, it needs to grab the reader and hold on. The least it needs to do is get me excited to revise it.
And yet again, I think I’ve proven how crazy my writing process is, but I’m more than okay with that. It works for me.
Another thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years is to appreciate every moment I’m writing and to embrace the story I’m working on. Each of my novels has been quite different from the others. Over thinking the process and the act of writing, or doing any sort of comparison between works, is counterproductive. Enjoying the journey of storytelling and the characters I’m creating is a big part of what makes writing such a joy.
I try to start every writing session with that in mind.
It’s all about the story.
- When I can’t stop laughing at something I just wrote.
- When the dialogue actually flows and sounds realistic on the first attempt.
- When my critique partner sends me a chat message to share some awesome plot ideas she’s working on and we both get even more jazzed about the story (the hard part is waiting to read it).
- When I hit that moment where I’m so far in the zone with this story and the characters’ lives that any past criticisms or reviews (especially the overly “positive” and “negative”) are gone from my head and all that’s left is the current journey and where I’m taking these men.
- When I re-read a part I hadn’t read in a few weeks and I’m so blown away by the intensity of the emotions and what’s going on that I can’t stop reading even though I know what’s going to happen next.
- When I re-read a part I hadn’t read in a few weeks and I’m surprised by the writing. “I wrote that? When? Was I half asleep?”
- When I re-read a scene I think is pretty solid plot-wise and I come up with an addition or twist I hadn’t even considered that takes the story to a whole new level.
- When I add in a new element of a character’s personality or backstory, then go back to layer in notes about the addition and find that this new element works perfectly with several scenes I’d already written and makes them even better.
- When my cats all come to see me in my office at the same time and sit at my feet and on my lap while I write. Sure, two-thirds of them are trying to tell me their hungry, but it’s nice to have the company.
- When it doesn’t matter there are dirty dishes in the sink, a to-do list a mile long, or a hundred emails to read. Kevin and Walter are having the most intense moment, and I’m not leaving the page for anything. Well, certainly not for anything related to washing dishes or taking out the trash.
Some days, writing is hard, but days like today are why I love this gig. Thank you to all the readers who make it possible for me to do this for more than just myself.
Thanks to my fabulous and wickedly smart uncle (Hey T!) I learned how to play Pandemic a few months back. It was my first time playing a cooperative board game where players work together rather than compete against each other. We just got our own copy of Pandemic and have been playing the two player version. I have to say, I love cooperative games like this!
Maybe it’s the romantic in me that prefers the non-competitive nature of the game. I really hate seeing my sweetie get frustrated when I’m kicking her ass in a game. I mean, all we have to do is mention the game Clue and I can see her get all serious like she might actually be able to beat me this time, then her expression falls as she thinks, Nope. She ALWAYS wins that game.
Then there’s the other night when we decided to play Monopoly, something we haven’t played in years. I think I ended up in jail 42 times. My mood was pretty good the first 40 times, but I hit the 41st and it was no longer funny. It was just sad.
At least with Pandemic if we go down, we do it as a couple and have some laughs at ourselves at the same time.
Now if we could just figure out how to always get us a happy ending in Pandemic, all would be right with the world. (I do love my happy, all-is-right-with-the-world endings.)
What’s your favorite board game? I’m a game geek and would love to try out some new ones.