Hey, y’all! So for those of you who aren’t on Facebook or who missed the takeover Santino Hassell and I were part of yesterday, we wanted to share some info about the project we unveiled there! We recently started co-writing the first book of a planned erotic romance trilogy. The title is BISHOP’S MOVE, and if you want a sneak peek at the blurb and an excerpt from the first chapter, read on! 😉
(Note: the blurb and excerpt are unedited and subject to possible changes during revisions.)
BISHOP’S MOVE BLURB
In near-future Chicago, virtual reality is an escape from the grit and grime of everyday life.
Lucky Amonte will be paying off his VR gaming system forever, but it’s worth it to experience his dirtiest fantasies with anonymous strangers in the Drift. After work and in the game, he’s LuckyStrike—the androgynous, chubby fashionisto who fiercely rocks big hoop earrings and flashy ensembles. He also craves rough sex, a little humiliation and dominance, and he’s finally found the perfect virtual partner in sexy, mysterious Bishop.
Jamie Bishop spent most of his twenties incarcerated for protecting someone he loved. Now he’s stuck in a thankless job delivering pizzas and passing coded messages for his shady boss. Life isn’t kind to ex-felons, but in the Drift, he’s simply Bishop. Clean-cut and average. No prison tats. No brawny, intimidating physique. And there, he has Lucky, whose desires align perfectly with his own.
When their fantasy and real lives collide, Bishop is forced to decide—either play it safe and keep a low profile or make a move and find out whether their virtual chemistry is more than just a game. But drawing Lucky into his world could put both their lives on the line.
Trigger warnings: This book contains some breath control play and a scene portraying characters who consensually act out a fantasy of a nonconsensual situation.
Sliding into the Drift always felt like an electric shock—a sharp, sudden spark that left every nerve alight and every fine body hair briefly standing on end. By now, I expected the familiar, rough shiver and the accompanying mental rubber-band-snap of my brain and body syncing with the Virtual Drift gaming system.
I didn’t so much choose my avatar as sank into it, my mind absorbed into the entity I played within the game. When I Drifted, I literally became LuckyStrike. I saw, heard, felt, and spoke through my avatar. A sensory experience unlike any virtual reality system I’d ever used before, and so far, I was completely addicted.
Logging into Novo Society took only a slight motion of my glove-covered hand. In a blink, the real world vanished and I stood in the small studio apartment I’d purchased using in-game credits.
To call the place spartan was being generous, but I didn’t play the game for fancy digs. I used the system mainly for social interaction and sex, with the occasional first-person shooter thrown in. Tonight, as every Friday for the past two months, had been reserved for me and Bishop. Our requirements were simple: four walls and a lockable door. Anything else I needed, Bishop gave me. With just the right amount of roughness.
Goddamn, I needed him tonight. It’d taken every ounce of willpower not to sign into the game until a couple of minutes before our usual six p.m. meeting time. I knew myself. Knew logging in early would only increase my frustration. Even expecting Bishop’s knock at any second, I stalked the perimeter of my virtual studio like a caged animal, shaking out my limbs, the bangles at my wrists jangling with the agitated movements. Restless energy flowed over my skin, humming like power lines. It had been a bad week—the worst week—and now, with the promise of release so near, my anxiety threatened to shake me apart.
Half an hour passed.
Fuck fuck fuck.
Where was he?
I hadn’t needed Bishop this badly since the very first time. Eight weeks ago, I’d been so desperate, starved for someone to take control and use me like I needed to be used. I’d been wasting time playing with wannabe Doms, and then Bishop walked into The Forum. I brought him to this apartment, and he put me on my knees. And it was perfect.
So perfect I probably thought about it too much, and yet I knew tonight I’d be asking him if we could discuss our arrangement, find another gap somewhere in both our schedules. Some way to make this more than just a once-weekly thing.
I had no idea what Bishop did with his time outside of the game. We didn’t talk about those things. Ever. When we were together, I saved my breath for begging. And Bishop, he liked to hear me beg. But now that I’d had a taste of the sweet, heady relief only Bishop could provide, it was getting harder and harder to endure the seven-day stretches without him.
Surely he could find a way to free up another evening. He had to crave this as much as I did. He had to. Our virtual chemistry was far too intense to be one-sided.
I stopped in the middle of the room, the bangles clinking into place as I dropped my arms to my sides. Chandelier earrings hung from my lobes, and I felt them swaying and tinkling lightly in the wake of my abrupt stillness.
I liked the soft sound. I liked the way they made me feel. And here in the game, I could wear them. I didn’t have to be the buttoned up version of Lucky. The one who spent anywhere from forty to sixty hours a week in a thankless IT job where I felt like my soul was slowly being crushed beneath a white-collar facade and the weight of other people’s expectations.
LuckyStrike might have wild, lavender hair, pointed elf ears, and creeping vine and ivy tattoos, but other than those minor alterations, he was me in all my fierce, fat, thick-thighed glory. I was him. And Bishop accepted all of it. The makeup and nail polish, the jewelry, the mishmash of clothing styles.
I needed that. To be accepted for me, even if it was a slightly fanciful version of myself. I didn’t exactly lack for confidence, but I spent so much time maintaining a charade and wearing a stifling, colorless disguise. Just another cog in the big corporate machine being forced to blend, blend, blend. I only got to be the real Lucky after business hours, and only a handful of people knew that Lucky—including Bishop.
I needed him. Tonight more than ever. So where the hell was he?
And here’s a little peek at our fierce and fabulous Lucky inspiration. 😉
And Bishop’s awesome inspiration.
Hi, all! For anyone wondering, this is my list of upcoming releases and works-in-progress. All dates are tentative/subject to change, but this is how things stand right now. 😀
October 2017 – OFF THE ICE (Hat Trick #1) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Sports. Age gap. Earnest Midwestern hockey player meets grumpy Puerto Rican sociology professor with a dash of kink.
May 2018 – GOALIE INTERFERENCE (Hat Trick #2) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Sports. Rivals to lovers. Bisexual character. Interracial relationship. D/s elements. POC characters. Two ice hockey goalies competing for the starting slot on the same team. Tempers flare and things get hot. 😉
August 2018 – NECESSARY ART (Art & Soul #2) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Graffiti artist/skater. Lawyer-turned-sculptor-turned-non-profit-organizer. Age gap. Opposites attract. Demisexual character.
November 2018 – TRADE DEADLINE (Hat Trick #3) – with Avon Gale – Riptide – Contemporary romance. Sports. Friends to lovers. Sweet and sexy. Bisexual character. A veteran hockey player is traded to his hometown team and reunites with his best friend/first crush from childhood. When I say sweet, I’m serious, y’all, there are DOLPHINS.
ANOTHER ROUND – In progress – First book in my texting trilogy. Contemporary romance. Opposites attract. Multicultural couple. Cute, nerdy number cruncher meets hot, bearded, tattooed gym owner/MMA fighter through rather unconventional circumstances.
Vloggers trilogy – In planning
Hard Hats #3 – Outlined
For the last 7+ months I’ve been fairly open about my struggles with writing and depression, and more recently, the mystery illness that landed me in the emergency room and countless doctors’ offices over the last month (and has yet to be identified). Those of you who follow this blog or are friends with me on social media have doubtless seen some of my posts. I decided to be open about the depression in particular for two reasons:
1) The stigma that surrounds depression/mental illness is seriously upsetting, and I feel the only way to change that is through open discussion and for the people who suffer from depression not to feel forced to hide it like it’s some shameful secret.
2) Out of respect for my readers. See, I do 100% believe I’m entitled to my privacy and I don’t blame any author who might be in a similar situation for keeping it quiet. This is a decision every individual has to make for themselves. But, for me personally, because my depression affects everything in my life, including my writing, I wanted to be upfront about it. I didn’t want my readers to think I’m just taking some extended vacation and hanging my unfinished series out to dry without a care that people are waiting for more books. Authors are human—we need breaks sometimes, it’s true—but the reality is I want to be writing, and the fact that my words have seemingly abandoned me is a pain I deal with every day. I’ve written since I was around eleven, since the time when the only people who saw my stories were my friends in junior high, and I didn’t even entertain the hope that I might be able to make what I loved a career someday. Writing has always been cathartic for me, and being unable to write for over half a year now makes me feel like I’m missing some critical part of myself, my soul. Believe me, I didn’t make the conscious choice to stop writing, and I’m fighting to get through this block every day.
The TL;DR version of what happened is that back in October I got hit by the worst bout of depression I’ve ever dealt with. I experienced suicidal ideation, nearly ended up in the hospital, scared my family and close friends, and had to seek the help of a therapist for the first time since childhood.
I am only now, nearly 8 months later, getting to the point where I’m started to feel excited about writing again and hopeful that I’ll be able to break through this block and start putting words on the page. Still, I’m taking things cautiously. When the words do start flowing, I want to allow myself to write without any pressure. I’ve realized lately that I can’t write on a strict schedule. I have to focus on the story that is calling to me most strongly, and yes, that does mean that sometimes it’s a long wait between books in my series. I apologize for that, but I just can’t force myself to work on a project simply because I know I should try to keep series releases consistent, not if in my heart of hearts, I’d rather be working on something else instead. Forcing myself to try to write what I should be writing only stresses me out and makes it feel like a job. And while, yes, this is what I do for a living, I started writing for love and for fun, and I don’t want to lose that feeling—the happiness I experience when I’m working on a project I’m truly excited and passionate about.
So, with all that being said, I’ve had to make a tough decision, and trust me, it’s not one I made lightly. Tears were shed. But being that I’ve received dozens of messages, tweets, and questions about the Portland Pack Chronicles, I know it’s a series that readers are eagerly awaiting more of. My coauthor, Kenzie Cade, is also eager to get back to our boys and continue writing. Unfortunately, due to my current circumstances, I’m the one holding things back—and I don’t think that’s fair, not to her, and not to the readers who’ve enjoyed the series so far, not when she could keep writing and get the stories to you faster than if I stayed involved. Because right now, with the lingering depression and the health issues that have plagued me over the last month or so, the only answer I can give about when I’ll be able to return to the Portland Pack Chronicles is “I don’t know.” So, sad as it makes me, I feel like this is the best decision for the future of the series. I’m sure Kenzie will more than do justice to the Portland Pack boys on her own. She’ll rock it—I’ve told her so—and I wish her much success!
As for my other in-progress series, fear not! The series I’ve started on my own will be completed eventually, even if it takes me much longer than I ever anticipated. I will break through this! I have so many stories I want to write and projects I’m excited about. I’m not giving up. Definitely not. Watch this space, because I’m sure, in time, I’ll have a much happier update to post.
In the meantime, thanks for your patience and understanding!
Over the years I’ve occasionally mentioned that I’ve been depressive since childhood. I don’t tend to talk about it much because there’s a certain stigma attached to any kind of mental illness, including depression, which many people think you should just be able to snap out of and brush off your shoulder.
My depression tends to happen in cycles. For weeks, months, I’ll feel… mostly good. Mostly positive. Then my mood takes a sudden downturn, and for weeks, maybe months, I become mired under this dark, crushing weight. But then, usually, the upswing starts. I come out of it and I go back to my normal (for lack of a better term).
A few weeks ago I scared some people when I vanished from most of my social media accounts for a good week or so. I didn’t mean to cause anyone concern, but it was as if my brain suddenly said, “nope,” and I didn’t want anything to do with… well, anything. Apps got deleted from my phone. Emails fell by the wayside.
I’d had a moment not too long before. An “I am not okay” moment, when I realized this depressive cycle felt more like a rapid decline into nothingness. It seemed—and still does seem—impossible to imagine any kind of upswing. But when my thoughts went from dark to potentially dangerous (for myself), I knew I needed to do something.
I sought out a therapist, and after seeing one who sent up about a dozen red flags, I found a different one through GMLA (the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association), who is familiar with dealing with clients who fall on the GLBTQ spectrum. Let me tell you, when I walked into her office and saw rainbow flags, I nearly lost it. After meeting one therapist who was not only lacking in tact, clearly didn’t have a clue how to deal with a client like me, I was so afraid I might have to start making long drives into Chicago to find someone who fit my needs. So far I’ve seen this new lady twice, and it’s hard to say what kind of results this therapy will bring. But at the very least I feel hopeful that maybe with her help I’ll be able to dig myself out of this.
During our first visit, she said to me, “Sometimes I might say something you don’t agree with. I’m human, and I’m not always right. Feel free to tell me to fuck off. Go ahead and say, ‘M, get fucked.’ I promise it won’t offend me. The only way I can figure out what’s working for you is if you tell me when something isn’t.”
With snot and tears flowing, I nodded, and I thought to myself, We’re going to get along great.
So that’s what’s happening with me. To the people who already knew or who reached out to me when I disappeared, thank you for the support. It means more than I can say.
I can’t lie. This post was hard for me to make. In fact, I’m only discussing the situation because literally everything in my life is being affected, and that includes my writing. Even though I wish this wasn’t the case, all of my projects are currently on hiatus. Because, well… if there’s no me, there certainly won’t be any future books either. So I have to focus on getting myself better before the words will start flowing again. I’m hoping that any readers who might have to wait a little longer for the next book in the Portland Pack Chronicles or my other series will understand the delay.
Happy New Year, everyone! Aside from one last “Authors I’m Thankful For” post next week, this will be my last post of 2015. Here’s hoping I’ll be back with a vengeance in 2016. 😉
Hey, all! It’s been quuuite some time since I did a writing update, so I figured now would be good. 😉
What’s happening in the writing world of Piper Vaughn? Read on to find out. 😀
To save his bookstore from closing, Mark Werner realizes it’s going to take a miracle—like getting reclusive, best-selling author Shepherd Knight to agree to appear for a signing.
After their disastrous last encounter, Mark doesn’t hold up much hope Shepherd will agree. Shepherd’s never made a single public appearance. In fact, Mark wouldn’t even know what he looks like had he not accidentally discovered the sexy stranger he’d been flirting with for months, aka “Tall-Dark-and-Grumpy,” was also his fanboy obsession.
But desperate times call for desperate measures. If Mark can convince Shepherd, it’ll be a major coup in the book world, and might just save Bookmarked from sinking. Too bad Shepherd won’t reply to his e-mails. Yet Mark didn’t earn the reputation of having a “sunshine-and-rainbow-fart” personality for nothing. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his man… and hopefully not make a fool of himself in the process.
Expected release date: October 26, 2015 (potentially subject to change)
PRICKLY BY NATURE (PORTLAND PACK CHRONICLES #2)
In the four months since hedgehog shifter Avery Babineaux started investigating the disappearance of a young female werewolf from the Portland Pack, he’s discovered his life’s passion. Now he’s apprenticing under established PI Corbin Reid. Avery hopes his training with Reid will help him finally bring Lacey home, but detective work isn’t without its perils, and the potential dangers strain his relationship with his new mate, Dylan.
Dylan Green would be perfectly content with his mating and his motorcycle shop if it wasn’t for his constant worry about Avery’s safety and the fact that Avery’s never home. Proud as he might be of Avery’s determination to prove his worth and fulfill his promise to Lacey’s father, Dylan can’t stand the thought of Avery being hurt. Yet what right does he have to demand Avery give up his job when it’s clear Avery’s found his true purpose? Still, Dylan wishes he could, and the appearance of a new police detective who sets his sights on Avery only adds to the tension.
Something has to give, but stubbornness runs in both their veins, and it might take a catastrophe for them to find a compromise they can live with.
Expected release date: November 16, 2015
Cover reveals for these two are coming soon, so stay tuned!
Works in Progress
Currently I’m working on a contemporary fairytale retelling, which I’m co-writing with my friend, Rowan Speedwell. We intend it to be the first of three, if all goes according to plan. Keep your fingers crossed. 😉
Once I finish my project with Rowan, Kenzie Cade and I will be diving into the third book in the Portland Pack Chronicles series, the first of which is PRICKLY BUSINESS.
I will also be continuing with Gavin’s story, which I started but had to put on hold because of illness and other deadlines (it’s been a crappy couple of years for me health-wise, let me tell you). If you don’t know who Gavin is, he was a secondary character introduced in HOOK, LINE, & SINKER.
I also have plans for another novella in the same world as BOOKMARKED, which I hope to release sometime next summer.
Lots of other ideas and potentialities — an ace character, sport books, more shifters, a rap star — but I’ll share more details about those later. 😉
Happy Fall, y’all!
Birthday flash fic for Malachi and Aaron from “Wood, Screws, & Nails.” 🙂
Birthday Surprise by Piper Vaughn
Happy birthday month, Amber! Thanks for inviting me to contribute to your Birthday Bash. I had a birthday earlier this month too, so it’s extra special for me. 😀 This flash fic features Aaron and Malachi, characters from my co-written book, Wood, Screws, & Nails, which came out from Dreamspinner in April.
Hope you enjoy!
“Happy birthday, Mal.”
Despite being distracted by the sight in front of him, Malachi shivered at the whisper in his ear, the scrape of stubble on his skin, the warm, hard body against his back. He stood in the entryway to Aaron’s apartment—which typically exemplified the definition of “Spartan bachelor pad”—but tonight, it had been transformed into something magical. Candles of various sizes adorned every flat surface, casting a welcoming yellow glow. In the center of the living room lay a red and white tartan-patterned…
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Welcome to the “First Undressing” Blog Hop! The challenge? Write a flash fic of no more than 1500 words about undressing a stranger on camera. This is my contribution. It’s exactly 1500 words. I hope you enjoy it! And be sure to check out links to all the other stories here.
Let Me Watch
by Piper Vaughn
“Take off your clothes.”
My words broke the silence of the hotel room. The man who watched me from several feet away quirked his lips in a smile. His Xtube handle was showingitoff. I didn’t know his real name…or what his face looked like. He always wore masks that covered his features from forehead to nose. Tonight’s was black with glimmering gemstones for accents, one of the many I’d admired as I watched him online over the last few months. “Why don’t you do it for me?” he asked.
I shook my head. “I like to watch. You know that.”
“I do know.” showingitoff played coyly with the top button of his shirt. “But if I’m supposed to be your birthday present, don’t you want to help with the unwrapping?”
Fair enough. This was a gift, arranged and paid for by my closest friend, the only person who knew my secret aside from the man standing before me. I wouldn’t have had the audacity myself. I preferred to do my watching from behind the comfort and anonymity provided by my computer screen. I rarely watched anyone in person. One of my exes considered himself an exhibitionist, but it never went beyond stripping. I liked to give commands; he didn’t like to take them. Thus, ended that relationship. showingitoff had been accepting my orders for months, making him my own personal peep show. All of our interactions had been through chats up until now, and I always watched him with my own camera off.
I wondered if he liked what he saw, having had his first glimpse.
His fingers continued to toy with that top button. “Don’t you want to see what I have on underneath?”
I did; desperately. He shared another of my kinks. He liked wearing women’s lingerie as much as I liked to see men wear it.
I crossed the few feet between us and brushed his hand aside, hoping he didn’t notice the way my own hands trembled. Gorgeous didn’t even begin to describe him. He was lean, with lightly defined muscles, a narrow waist, and a taut, plump ass I’d been dying to sink my teeth into. It looked amazing in a thong, and I should know. He’d worn a lacy one for me on camera just last week.
One by one, I undid the buttons of his shirt. He was a gift, but if his clothes were wrapping paper, they’d be the plain brown serviceable stuff. Simple shirt, plain jeans, worn canvas shoes. Underneath, his chest was bare, but as I undid the fly of his jeans, vivid purple lace peeked out from the gap.
My hands trembled a bit more as I shoved the jeans down to his ankles. He slipped off his shoes and kicked away the jeans as I stepped back to take in the view. Delicate purple panties clung to his erection, which slanted sideways beneath the lace. A matching garter belt rested low on his waist and lace-topped stockings covered his legs to mid-thigh. My breath escaped in a rush of shaky air. Sweat beaded on my upper lip. I wanted to touch him, but that wasn’t part of the game. Instead, I took another step away, to distance myself from temptation. He’d been paid to let me watch, nothing more. Kisses, touching, fucking, that was all out of the question, even if I was hard as stone for him, trapped in the tightness of my own briefs. I considered taking my cock out to stroke it while I watched, torn between leaving it there, straining beneath the material of my underwear and jeans, or letting it hurt until I got home to relish the ache as I jerked myself off.
“Lie on the bed,” I said. “On your back, spread your legs.”
showingitoff pivoted slowly, presenting me with the perfectly rounded curves of his ass. The top of the purple thong disappeared into his crack. I wanted to pull it out with my teeth. Instead, I fisted my hands and walked over to the desk. After checking to make sure my camera was still filming, I adjusted the angle, flipped the desk chair around, and sank down into it, ready to enjoy the show. This video would be another gift, for my own personal collection. I loved the fact that no one else would ever see it.
He laid himself out on the bed, letting his knees fall open. The lacy panties couldn’t quite cover his balls. Deep pink and hairless, they escaped the material on on either side. showingitoff kept himself scrupulously groomed; I knew that from simply watching him online. There wasn’t a hair on his body, save for the dark locks that fell over his forehead, and I assumed his eyebrows, though the mask hid them.
“What shall I do?” he asked.
“Show me your cock. Take it out and touch it—slowly, with only one finger.”
showingitoff didn’t play coy now that we’d officially begun. He lowered the front of the panties until they rested beneath his balls. His dusky cock angled toward his stomach, hard enough that it seemed to hover a couple of inches above the skin. He drew his long forefinger from the base to the tip, lingering there to toy with that sensitive spot on the underside of the head.
He nodded and said in a breathy tone, “Very.”
“Play with your slit.”
Shuddering slightly, he obeyed. He ran the pad of his thumb over his cockhead, then dug into the slit with his nail, hissing through his teeth as he did so.
“Squeeze your balls with your other hand.”
Without hesitating, he gripped his sac with his free hand, squeezing and tugging it down. He continued to thumb the head of his cock, rubbing in circles, spreading pre-come. I bit back a moan at the sight. I wanted to lick him there, taste that bitter salt on my tongue. I wanted to be close enough to smell him. Would his scent be as musky as mine was? Or sweeter from the lack of hair?
“Have you ever thought about me touching you?” I asked.
He groaned and squeezed his balls ever harder. “Yes.”
His eyes met mine, glittering beneath the shadows of the mask. Today I’d gotten close enough to know they were green, almost cat-like in their intensity. “My nipples. My mouth. My cock, my ass. Everywhere.”
“Have you thought about touching me?”
“The same places I want you to touch me.”
My cock throbbed in my briefs. As much as part of me wanted to savor this moment slowly, now that I had him here, in front of me, the stronger urge was to watch him fall apart, watch him writhe and arch his back as he did when he came for me online. “Wet a finger and put it inside you. Fuck yourself with it while you stroke your cock. When you come, I want you to imagine it’s me touching you. My finger in your ass.”
He shuddered again and stopped playing with his balls, raising that hand to his mouth to coat his middle finger with drenching licks. He swirled the pad around his pucker only once before pressing his finger inside, down to the last knuckle. A soft grunt was the only sound he made as he slipped it in and out, quickly finding a rhythm that complemented the one he used to stroke his shaft.
I watched as he obeyed me, the purple lingerie a stark contrast against his creamy white skin, his legs splayed wide, chest rising and falling with quickening breaths. Seemingly of its own accord, my right hand went to my fly. I unzipped it and pulled my cock free. I’d come with him, here and now. In exchange for his gift to me, I’d let him watch, let him see how he undid me every time we played this game.
“Soon?” I asked.
I spat into my hand and started jerking on my cock, tugging it with quick, determined motions. There was one goal here—to come at the same time he did. I could tell by his stuttering breaths he was well on his way.
His words set me off. My balls hiked up with his first moan and I spurted over my fingers as his back arched and he writhed, head thrown back, as I’d known he would.
For several moments, only our panting filled the room. Finally, he said, “You have me all night. Maybe next time it’ll be your finger in me. Or your cock.”
I considered saying yes. God knew I wanted to. But not as much as I wanted to see him in person again. I shook my head. “Not tonight. Next week. Here. Same time.”
It was a risk. He stared at me for so long I thought he’d refuse. Then he smiled.
“Yes,” he said. “As long as you help me undress.”
© 2014 Piper Vaughn
Earlier today I posted on Facebook. This was my status update:
Sometimes I really want to write a story set in feudal Japan. Put all the research I did when I wrote fanfic and my years of Japanese classes to some kind of use. Then I think to myself, “Self, you know maybe only 3 people would read it,” and I deflate. Just randomly thought about it again this morning during a convo with the hubs.
I had some people comment to say they would read it, or to just write it anyway. One comment suggested I write a story set in modern-day Japan instead. And yet another asked whether I write for the joy of writing or for other people.
Honestly? I’ve been writing since I was 10 or 11 years old. For years, no one read my work but me. Then I got brave and started sharing my scribblings with friends from school. Then later, when the internet started getting more and more popular, with my online friends. Eventually I started writing fanfic and posting it on websites like FanFiction.net. Years after that, I discovered that m/m actually existed in a genre outside of what I was reading—and writing—online. Yes, I thought. I’ve found my people. Needless to say, if you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably aware what eventually came of that. 😉 I’ve been published professionally for almost 3 years now, and I still sometimes write things that will never see the light of day. Stuff that I needed to get out as a catharsis of sorts, and then I stuck it in a folder and moved on.
I’ve seen the “write to the market” versus “write for yourself” debates. I have two stories out presently that were written simply out of love, knowing they likely wouldn’t have a very broad audience. One was solely for myself. Zombie Wonderland, my zombie apocalypse Christmas novella. The other, Love Rising, was written both for me and one of my best friends. I knew when I started both of these they wouldn’t sell very well. I wrote them for the joy of it and because the ideas dug in and refused to let go.
But… since the beginning of time, when people started telling stories orally, there was always a point to the telling—to entertain, teach lessons, pass on traditions, etc, etc. Storytellers crave an audience, and I’m no different. We all—or perhaps I should say most of us—hope that people will read and enjoy our stories. Hopefully many people. But being that there are only so many hours in day, sometimes we have to make the tough call: write the story that you know full well very few people will read or write the story that has the potential to reach a much broader audience. I’ll be frank—I write for the love of writing, but I also do this for a living, to help supplement my husband’s income and put money into my son’s college fund. I’m fortunate in that I’m making a career by doing what I love and have always wanted to do. That being said, sometimes I allow myself to be fanciful, to write a story regardless of whether or not I think there will be an audience for it. And sometimes I make the practical choice. But even in that case, I’m writing what I want to write. I don’t write trying to take advantage of what may or may not be popular. Contemporary is my main genre because it’s what I primarily enjoy reading—and what most of my ideas happen to be when they pop into my head. I have plans for shifters and another merman and whatever else starts to scratch at my brain. I write what calls to me. But if I have a choice between two different ideas and I know that one will find a broader audience than the other, well, sometimes I go with the more marketable idea. Sometimes but not always.
So, do I write for joy or do I write for others? The answer is as simple and complex as this—both.
Hey, all! So since I finally got going on my NaNoWriMo project, I thought I’d share an excerpt with you guys for WIP Wednesday. This is the very beginning of the story when my two MCs meet in a rather unconventional way.
Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
“Hey! Somebody call an ambulance!”
Gabe’s head jerked up at the shout. He looked over to see some type of commotion happening near the bar. A group of guys stood in a half-circle, staring down at something on the floor. Someone yelled for an ambulance again.
“Fuck.” Gabe chugged down the dregs of his beer and pushed back from his table. Didn’t it always fucking figure? His first day off in a week thanks to another paramedic quitting at the end of his shift last Friday, and he hadn’t even been at the bar for fifteen minutes before some schmuck had to go and get injured somehow.
Javier, the firefighter Gabe had come to the bar to watch the hockey game with, returned from the john just as Gabe pulled a pair of latex-free gloves from his inner jacket pocket. Carrying a few pairs was a force of habit after more than a decade working as a first responder. Shit happened when least expected and it always paid to be prepared, especially when the bodily fluids were flowing. Or, more likely in his occupation, gushing.
“What’s up?” Javi asked.
Gabe shook his head and started toward the group, knowing Javi would follow. As a firefighter who’d cross-trained as an EMT, Javier knew enough to lend a hand if it came to that. Gabe pushed through the gawkers without any pardons or excuse-me-pleases. Now was not the time for niceties. He could barely manage them on the best of days, let alone when he was exhausted after seven straight days of twelve-hour shifts.
A guy lay on his side in the middle of the circle, seizing, blood covering his mouth and chin. That in itself wasn’t totally alarming. Gabe had seen enough seizures to know if the tongue got bit, there’d be a mess. He glanced at the guy’s crotch, checking for urine, but saw nothing. It didn’t always happen, but it was second nature to check. The people who were pretending didn’t usually think to piss themselves to make it more convincing.
Another guy knelt next to Seizure Guy, his hands clenched tight at his sides, brow furrowed in worry. Gabe could tell he wanted to reach out to the one who was seizing, but he was either frozen in fear or he knew better than to try to hold someone having a seizure down. Gabe didn’t care which. He just hoped the guy kept his hands off.
“Got a clean towel?” he asked the bartender as he snapped on his gloves. The guy nodded, reached under the bar top, and tossed him a small, grayish towel. It had seen better days, but right then Gabe wasn’t expecting a sterile work environment. He just wanted to staunch the blood flow long enough to see if there were any serious injuries.
Gabe got down on his knees. The guy’s violent jerking had slowed to a few sporadic twitches. The other one whispered soothingly and reached out a shaky hand, smoothing dark hair off Seizure Guy’s forehead. “Come on, baby. Come on. Come back.”
Ah. Boyfriend, then. Gabe assigned him the label without another thought. It was what they all did in lieu of names in situations like these. Might seem cold or unsympathetic, but a trauma scene usually wasn’t the place for introductions and “how-do-you-dos?”. Nicknaming people based on their injuries made the most sense, and it kept things organized in his head.
Seizure Guy’s random twitches stopped. After a moment, his eyes blinked open, hazy and unfocused, one green, one hazel. The disparity was enough to make Gabe freeze for a moment before he snapped back into action. He took Seizure Guy’s shoulder in hand and gently turned him onto his back. Then he spared a quick glance at the boyfriend. “You know him, I’m assuming? This ever happened before?”
The guy nodded. “Yeah. He has epilepsy. Are you a doctor or something?”
“Medic. Anything else I should know?” Gabe briefly inspected the medical alert bracelet on Seizure Guy’s wrist. It was subtle, matte black and stainless steel, and stylish enough to pass for a regular piece of jewelry to the untrained eye, but Gabe had been in medicine long enough to spot the asklepian symbol at ten paces.
“Not that I’m aware of.”
Gabe reached for Seizure Guy’s chin and dabbed at it with the towel. The skin was split, the shine of bone visible underneath. He’d probably cracked it on the edge of the bar when he fell. A gruesome looking wound, and one definitely requiring stitches, but nothing life-threatening.
“Anyone call an ambulance yet?” Gabe asked as he slid his gloved fingers into Seizure Guy’s thick hair, feeling along his scalp for any other possible injuries.
There was a round of muttering and then someone shouted yes from the back of the group.
“Call it off. I’m a paramedic. Ambulance eleven. Last name Favero. Tell them we’ll get him to the hospital.”
The boyfriend looked at him in surprise, but Gabe had been a paramedic long enough to know that most experienced epilepsy patients would only be pissed and embarrassed at having an ambulance called and being carted off on a stretcher when this was something they dealt with on a regular basis. The postictal stage didn’t last very long, and as soon as the guy was fully cognizant again, he’d probably nix the ambulance idea with a vengeance.
Gabe didn’t bother explaining his reasoning. “What’s his name?”
Gabe pressed the towel against the gash on Simon’s chin and held it there, peering down into his eyes, searching for signs of awareness. In his experience with epilepsy patients, he knew Simon should be conscious enough to answer questions by this point, even if he might not remember afterward. “Simon? Can you hear me? Do you know where you are?”
Simon blinked slowly, gaze still clouded by confusion. After a second, he spoke, his voice somewhat garbled. “Y-yeah. Hear you.”
“Can you tell me where you’re hurt?”
Simon’s forehead wrinkled. “Mouth…head…chin.”
“Yeah, you split your chin open. We’re going to need to get you to the hospital. It has to be stitched.”
Simon nodded groggily. “Okay. No ambulance.”
“Nope, no ambulance.” Gabe looked up to see Javi standing nearby. “You okay to drive to Northwestern or should we get a taxi?”
“I’m good. Didn’t even finish my beer. Advocate is closer, though.”
Gabe shook his head. “I don’t know the staff there. The bleeding’s already stopped on this. He’ll be good for the drive.”
“All right. I’ll pull around front.”
Javi took off back toward their table as Simon struggled to sit up. Gabe dropped the blood-stained towel and got a hand behind his shoulder blades to hold him steady. Most of the crowd had begun to disperse now that it was evident the guy wasn’t about to keel over dead or give them any more of a show.
“Hey,” the boyfriend said. “Thanks, but I can take him. We’ll grab a taxi. There’s no need for—”
Gabe arched an eyebrow at him. “You want to sit in the ER all night? I can take you in the back way, have him in a room in less than five minutes.”
After a second, the boyfriend nodded. “Fine.” He leaned closer to Simon and wrapped an arm around his waist. Gabe pulled his own hand away and stood, ready to step in and help if needed, but the guy got Simon up onto his feet without any mishaps.
“I can walk by myself, Marco,” Simon muttered as the boyfriend started ushering him to the door.
“He have a jacket?” Gabe called after them. It was mid-October in Chicago and Simon’s thin T-shirt wouldn’t offer much protection against the drizzly chill outside.
“Oh, shit.” The boyfriend—Marco—glanced over his shoulder and tipped his chin toward one of the bar stools. “Can you grab that? And mine’s right next to it.”
Gabe grunted as he stripped off his gloves. He shoved them into his pocket so he could pick up the jackets Marco had indicated. He knew Javi well enough to trust the guy had grabbed his own stuff from their table before he left. The bill they could settle later; they came to Rowley’s often enough. If Simon and Marco had started a tab, well, that was their problem.
He followed them to the door and waited while Marco took the jackets from him and pulled on his own, then helped Simon into his. There was a moment of tension when they got to Javier’s SUV and Marco tried to insist on being in the back with Simon. Gabe just sighed. “Look, man, we don’t have time for this shit. I’m the medic. I’ll sit with him in case something unexpected happens. We’re not at a club. I’m not trying to steal your boyfriend.”
Marco opened his mouth, but a beep cut him off as the driver waiting behind Javi laid into his horn. Javi gestured to them and Marco grudgingly got into the passenger seat while Simon and Gabe slipped into the back. Simon leaned against the seat and closed his eyes as Javi pulled out into traffic. He was clearly in pain and he still looked a little dazed.
“How’s your head?” Gabe asked.
“Hurts,” Simon answered, his voice slurring. Swollen tongue, probably. “Always does after.”
“How long have you been having the seizures?”
Gabe wanted to ask more, but he knew better than to keep the guy talking when every movement obviously caused him pain. The gash on his chin was like something out of a horror flick with the bone showing through. Hurt like a bitch, no doubt, but it was a classic case of “looks worse than it is.” Maybe half a dozen stitches at worst, and if Gabe got him in to see Munoz, he’d barely have a scar to show for it.
Good thing, too. It would be a pity to scar up that face. Now that Gabe had a chance to take proper stock of the guy, he could acknowledge that much. It wasn’t a perfect face, no. Simon’s nose was a bit too wide at the tip. But high cheekbones, straight brows, and a strong, rounded chin complemented what was probably the prettiest mouth Gabe had ever seen. Full and somehow vulnerable with an intriguing little dip in the center of the upper lip. His hair was an indeterminate color in the dimness of the car’s interior—some shade of brown, Gabe thought—but the dark waves flopped over his forehead in a sexy, careless style, partially shading one eye. The green one if Gabe remembered correctly. And those eyes were as interesting as the rest of his features, fascinating in their lack of symmetry.
That mouth, that face, and the body Gabe had scoped out as Marco led Simon outside, it wasn’t a surprise his boyfriend was protective. Any other time or place and Gabe probably would’ve made a play. Dating didn’t mean exclusive. Gabe had fucked enough boyfriends, separately and together, to hammer that point home. But he’d never tried anything with a patient, and he wasn’t about to start now, despite how unofficial this was. He’d get Simon pushed to the front of the line at Northwestern and call his responsibility done. Maybe he and Javi could even be back at Rowley’s to catch the second half of the game, and Gabe could find someone young, willing, and bendable to help him work out some of the built-up strain after a week of back-to-back shifts. A perk of Rowley’s being the only gay sports bar in town, there was never any shortage of guys looking to get fucked. If he was lucky, his entire evening wouldn’t end up a complete bust.
Hey, y’all! So, I spent this past weekend in Seattle, hanging out with friends and attending the first annual GRNW Meet-Up. I found out while I was there that thanks to the event, two of my books now have a home at the Seattle Public Library, which is more than a little mind blowing. I had a nice dinner with some of the lovely people from Less Than Three Press, and, thanks to dear MJ carting me around the towns near the Mt. Rainier foothills, I was able to do some research for the shifter series I’m currently planning. It was fun. 🙂 If I can attend the meet-up next year, I’ll definitely do so.
In other news, I’m happy to announce that Moonlight Becomes You officially has a new home! The second edition of the book will be coming out from Dreamspinner Press in the spring. Barring any unforeseen complications, it should hopefully be out in April. Just FYI, for any who have been waiting for it, this second edition will have more than 16,000 words added and it’ll be released as a paperback with new cover art. Woot! Some of the added scenes come from our free vignette collections, More Than Moonlight and Beyond Moonlight, which some readers have read already, but the other material is brand new and never before seen. (And for anyone wondering, The Luckiest and Moonstruck will eventually be rereleased as paperbacks, too, and Moonstruck will have a good 12K or so added.)
That’s all for now! Kade Boehme and I finished our WIP, Wood, Screws, & Nails, and turned that in to the publisher. Next we’ll be starting on One More Thing (One Thing #3), which should be coming from Dreamspinner in the spring also, likely in March if everything goes well. We’ll keep you posted!