What’s coming next
I haven’t blogged for a while – real life caught up with me and I’ve been busy and preoccupied. But I did want to touch base with what I’ve been doing.
I’m currently working on the edits for Home Work, the next Life Lessons book. No release date yet, though. And I just finished a short story I’m submitting to a Storm Moon Press anthology. This one is a 20,000 word short that is a swords-and-horses m/m romance fantasy. We’ll see what their editor thinks of it. It was one of those ideas that ambushed me when I was supposed to be doing something else.
But the next thing you will get to read from me will be my freebie novella for the Goodreads M/M Romance Group. My story for the Love is Always Write event is a 63,000 word novella about two guys who meet during WWII, and build a life together. Members of the group will get to read it when it releases, sometime after May 15th. The moderators keep the exact date secret, to build suspense. There will be 140+ stories by authors like Z.A. Maxfield, Andrea Speed, Stephani Hecht, Daniel Kaine, Jeff Erno, Kate Sherwood, SJ Frost… and many more. I am so looking forward to reading these over the next couple of months.
I posted a teaser – the opening scene from my novella – in the thread for this event, but I thought I would post it here too, in case folks are interested. Eventually this will be available as a download pdf too, because not everyone will want to read 63,000 words on the computer screen. But it will show up first as part of the upcoming event in the group.
The prompt for the story was a photo, and letter. And even though I really didn’t want to take on something historical with all the research involved, these two guys just grabbed me until I wrote them a life:
Two young men stand in the riveted steel doorway of a ship. The one inside the doorway is young and classically handsome, hatless, with wavy dark hair falling over his forehead. His eyes are narrowed against the sunlight and a small smile hovers on his lips as he braces himself in the door frame. The man in front of him is younger still. His attractiveness is more the flush of youth and good health than perfection of features. He grins, squinting in the brightness, dressed in the white hat and shirt of the WWII US Navy. Although the two men stand only casually close together, the sailor in front has one hand raised, over his shoulder, to keep a firm grip on the shirt of the man in the doorway behind him.
We met onboard, both of us so very young – still in our teens – but we were old enough to serve our country. And against all odds, and the many risks involved, we fell in love and have managed to stay together for the last 60 years. Now, as our time together inevitably gets shorter and shorter, I can’t wait any longer for the right to finally marry the man I’ve loved all these years.
“Babies,” a deep voice growled in Daniel’s ear. “They’re sending us babies now.”
Daniel glanced over at George. The older man hawked and spat over the rail, his eyes fixed on the deck below. Daniel turned to see where George was looking. At the top of the gangway a group of new men stood at attention under the eagle eye of Lieutenant Matthews. Daniel sighed. They did look young. Maybe not the barrel-chested man on the end, but the rest of them. That freckle-faced towhead should have been on his bike delivering papers in some town in Iowa, not standing in a painfully clean uniform on the deck of a fighting ship. The guy beside him wasn’t much older, maybe eighteen. He had straight dark hair, the winter-white skin of a city kid and the big brown eyes of a startled deer. Daniel had a sudden wish he could ship them all back home. And then go home himself.
He bent back down to his scrubbing. It wasn’t like there was a choice for any of them. The Japs had forced this fight on America, and none of her native sons were backing down. At nineteen, Daniel wasn’t that much older than those kids with their unstained sea-bags and wide eyes. He felt older though. Years older. Maybe decades. He might only have been on board ship for three weeks before the attack at Pearl, but everyone who’d been there was a veteran, after.
Matthews finished his spiel to the new guys and then handed them over to Chief Brown, who began leading them toward the hatch. Most of them followed along behind the Chief quickly like good little ducklings but the dark-haired guy paused, looking around. Those wide brown eyes swept over the ship like he was seeing something amazing, and then looked straight up at Daniel. Daniel realized he was staring back. The guy wasn’t that good looking. He had kind of a big nose, thin lips, was tall and thin and gangly. But there was something so open in that wide-eyed stare Daniel felt a rush of protectiveness. If the guy really was that green, the next few months were going to knock the shine off him in pretty painful ways.
For a long moment their eyes met. Daniel grinned, and then let it shade just a little towards scorn, as befitted a seasoned crewman looking at a new recruit. Even from a distance, Daniel could tell the guy turned bright scarlet, before bending hurriedly to scoop up his seabag. As he rushed to catch up with the Chief, he tripped over something and stumbled. His bag dropped to the deck with a thump but he saved himself from a fall with a jerky stagger and wild windmilling of his arms.
Beside Daniel, George barked a laugh. “Wait till we put to sea. That one’s gonna be falling down the hatches and puking his lunch.”
“Maybe.” Daniel paused in his scrubbing as the guy down on the deck knelt and ran his hand over the irregular furrow in the decking that had tripped him. He glanced up at Daniel, eyes wide and startled.
Yeah kid, that’s what happens when a Jap plane comes in low, out of the sun, at daybreak. Daniel looked back expressionlessly. The young guy’s flushed face slowly paled. He looked back down at the deck, and then stood, hefted his bag, and hurried after the Chief.
Daniel realized he’d been staring after the guy’s ass as he disappeared down the hatch. Not good. He turned to George and sloshed some grimy water his way. “Hey. Your grapevine tell us when we’d be leaving and for where?” The navy didn’t tell ordinary seamen anything, but George had some kind of uncanny nose for secrets. Sometimes he would share.
George gave him a grin that was missing a front tooth. “Why would I tell you?”
“Because you like me. And because you owe me a pack of smokes and I’ll cancel the debt if your intel is good.”
“Now Danny-boy, you know what they say; loose lips sink ships.”
“There’s nothing loose about me,” Daniel smirked. Then he paused as if reconsidering. “Loose morals, maybe.”
“Yeah. That blonde last night was a peach.”
“Wasn’t she though?” They had been given a few hours of liberty. Not enough to go home from Frisco to San Diego, but enough to find a bar or a hotel room. And there were always girls available in the bars near the docks. Pretty, fresh-faced All-American girls who would just love to spend some time with a sailor serving his country. It was none of George’s business if Daniel had taken the girl for a soda and then escorted her home. “Come on Georgie Porgie. Where are we headed?”
“Well…” George’s voice lowered and he leaned closer. “If I did have any advance information, I might bet that we were leaving tonight and heading for the Bismarck Sea.”
“The Bismarck Sea? Never heard of it. What’s out there?”
“Japs, for sure.” They looked at each other more soberly. Wasn’t that the truth. …