It sounds like some kind of action/adventure/spy movie, doesn’t it? Probably starring Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman and perhaps in an odd bit of casting John Travolta as the president. Tossing in Cate Blanchett into any film is always a good move so we’ll give her the female lead. For my own personal consumption Ryan Gosling and Scott Caan will also have to be present. Believe me, their talents will be put to very good and very frequent use...
Yeah, ok, I have no idea where that little tangent sprouted from but let’s all just ignore it was ever there and move on like dear Ms. Stowe is actually sane. Agreed? Good.
As for your Day Nine tease, here it is…
Chapter Nine: The Irony of Sirens
“Mercer knew the refuge like the back of his hand and would have no trouble driving out of there in the dark. Besides, he liked watching the million stars pop out of the dark heavens. When he had been a boy he had thought it was some kind of magic trick. He remembered his mother laughed when he’d told her that. He never told her anything like that again.” (page 134)
On the novel front, I sent back the final edits for this fine romantic masterpiece yesterday. Word on the street is that Hard Wood, Soft Heart should be out the middle of next week. Pardon me while I “Hooray!” Please feel free to join in. There’s naughty confetti in the bowl by the front door. But let’s be careful out there everybody. Nobody wants a metallic penis in their eye… at lease I don’t think anybody does. We’ll just assume not.
As for all of those looking for their through-the-keyhole peek at my rather screwed up life, here it is…
How do I decide what to buy at the grocery store? Simple. It all depends on two things.
One: my mental health of that shopping day. Yes, folks, it fluctuates more than the stock market so I never know until I wake up what I’ll be able to pull off normally that day. Cool, huh?
Two: where in the store the food is located. I’ve got to be having one darn good sane day to get me to the meat section. Frozen foods take too long to find what I’m looking for so they’re usually off my list. In fact anything that I don’t know where it is in the store is a no-no. Me wandering through the aisles is a bad, bad thing. Thankfully the produce and bread are usually fairly close to the door so they’re usually good to go. What I'm actually hungry for never has anything to do with it…
Ok, everybody’s head away from the keyhole for the day. I’ve got you some fresh produce on your way out today. Please pick up an apple, plum or watermelon and enjoy the few fruits that have somehow survived in the weeds of my insanity.
Day Three has arrived on the coattails of a beautiful dawn.
On gorgeous days like this, my muse soars. I spend the hours trying to catch up with her, trying to capture the world she sees into words born on nervous fingers…
In other words, I’m a bit shaky today. It happens… It happens a lot when I have family coming.
One of the weirdest things about my brain and all its crossed wires is that excitement equals panic. The same buttons are pushed in my mind. It’s a lot like if every time on a bitterly cold winter’s day that you turn on the furnace or stoke the fire, all the fire alarms begin to blare and scream at you. All the sprinklers erupt, sending their cold, cold water onto your head, stunning you. No matter how many times it happens, no matter how many times you know it’s going to happen, there is just nothing to shield you from the icy water and the screeches of panic…
Ok, apparently my muse has decided to fly into a hornet’s nest today. Pardon me if I choose not to follow her this time around.
Instead, let me give you the Hard Wood, Soft Heart tease of the day. I hope you enjoy this little morsel and will come back again for another taste….
Chapter Two: Ghost Runners
“Born in St. Louis on a wickedly hot July day, from the very beginning Mercer’s life had been about avoiding the things a man can’t change. Like the blazing hot weather that seemed to follow him around every summer of his childhood, he came to mutely accept the fact that his father only came to visit on the weekends and that his mother rarely smiled at anyone but her little boy…” (page 29)
Today, I offer all my wonderful guests cotton candy and lemonade. Please grab a kite on your way out and soar with your own muse through the endless skies.
As Blow Torch’s release date nears and cover art is teasing your fancies, I thought it time to reveal the dark and twisting road that led me back to fictional Hellesgate, Kansas. So strike up a match, grab a flashlight or dig out those night vision goggles you’ve always wanted to play with and join me on the rocky trail to my first encounter with sequel smut.
The following facts are all true, no embellishment needed.
Hard hat may be required.
I have a habit of opening big. In my stories, I try to dump the reader right into the deep end with my heroes. My prologues are often filled with sex, violence, heartbreak, action or adventure. I’ve only got 50K words here to work with so there’s no time to ease the reader into the story. However, once the mayhem and angst has sufficiently whet everybody’s appetite, I try to wade us all back to calmer, shallower yet clearer waters. After all, a wading pool is an excellent place to get to know a handsome stranger.
Well, if life imitates art then somebody stole my wading pool.
With a month left until my deadline for Blow Torch, the morning of April 27 broke to the ungodly wail of tornado sirens in North Alabama. (I was visiting my parents for my birthday in the house I grew up in. My timing has always sucked.) By the time the darkened clocks struck ten that same night, over 100 people were dead, hundreds were missing and thousands were now homeless.
I lost no family.
We lost no houses (Although an EF-4 tornado literally ripped to shreds a whole neighborhood only a quarter of a mile away from my sister’s house… my sister’s house where her new precious family was cowered in their bathroom. My parents and I spent the day in and out of the closet… how apropos can you get for a writer of gay romance/erotic, huh?)
We were all blessed to have survived that terrible day. But even blessings can come with a few nasty thorns.
We had no power, no phone, no cell phone for five days. Gas lines were miles long. It took stores days to re-open and when they did it was with minimal power and dwindling supplies. We were lucky and had water. We didn’t even have to boil it before using it.
For that first day, we had no way of knowing whether my sister, her husband and her baby had survived. The roads were blocked by trees and houses. And all we kept hearing on the radio were the reports of death and disaster in her little town.
In the end, nine people died just that sliver of a quarter mile away from her.
My sister, her family and her house all survived.
The second day, my parents’ kitchen caught on fire while we were trying to heat some water. I was the one that found the kitchen in flames. I was the one who screamed her head off for her daddy to come save the day.
We were so, so blessed.
It’s important that I keep saying that.
It’s important that you know that I know that.
See, survivor’s guilt is a real bitch and can screw with your mind like a real motherfucker. Two and half months later and I’m still rolling around in the dirt with it.
It sucks you dry from the inside out. A lot of me is still barren, I think…
Now, this would be the perfect time for that wading pool.
Guess it blew away with the water tower and our neighbor’s trampoline.
Power came back. My scribbles on notebook paper written under a flashlight were transferred to computer and life and Hellesgate went on.
One week later, as many roads were still impassable and scores of people were still missing, food poisoning struck my family.
My sister and my mother were horribly sick for days.
Again, I was spared.
Again, I was lucky and blessed.
Unfortunately, I also went crazy.
It was bad.
I hadn’t had a panic attack that severe in almost ten years. It lasted one whole week, I’m talking a week of 24/7 here. It was terrifying in more ways than I could ever put to words. For days, I didn’t think I’d survive it. Catch the irony here? Dying of survivor’s guilt? How novel.
It took me weeks but I finally was able to crawl out of that whole. I was shaky and sweaty and whole lot worse for wear but I was whole.
I was blessed.
It’s important for me to keep saying that. It’s important for me to keep knowing that.
Blow Torch, however, was in shambles. While a third of it was written and all of it was well plotted out, Hellesgate proved to once again be a slippery bitch.
My computer crashed.
We’re talking big crash.
I was blessed.
I didn’t lose any work. Like a good writer, I had backed everything up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to it for several days.
Time was ticking down.
I finally got to go back to my home. Florida never looked so beautiful before… the hailstorm I’m taking as a fluke. It was only quarter size hail, after all.
I was blessed.
Really, I was. Blow Torch got done one day shy of its deadline. Hellesgate, Kansas had been conquered once again.
So, I lost a little sanity along the way? I was working on half a tank before Blow Torch so what’s a few more gallons shy amongst friends?
And if you all are so good as to ask for me to return to Hellesgate for a third visit, I most certainly will. I’m scarred and battle-tested now, and know to bring a little extra Prozac, a fire extinguisher and a tornado shelter with me this next go-around.
Yes, Blow Torch was indeed a dark and twisting road, and I may have lost my wading pool along the way…
But, thank God, I was blessed.