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Wrong Locker Book Blast

Wrong_Locker_Scarlet_Tie_Designs

 

Author Bio:

Short, sexy and sweet— where a little love goes a long way.

That’s the best way to describe Jackie Nacht’s stories. She was introduced to M/M Romance through her sister, Stephani, and read it for years. Then, she thought it was time to put her own stories on paper. Jackie began writing short and sweet stories that ended with a happily ever after.

Thinking back to her own book addiction, where there were many nights Jackie stayed up way too late so she could read just one more chapter— yeah, right— Jackie decided to write short romances for young adults as well as adults. Hopefully, they will give high school and college students, or working men and women something they can read during their lunch hour, in between classes or just when they want to briefly get away from the daily stresses of everyday life.

Author Contact:

Website: www.jackienacht.com

Blog: www.jackienacht.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackie.nacht?ref=tn_tnmn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JackieNacht

Cover Artist: Zathyn Priest – Scarlet Tie Designs

Publisher: Featherweight Press

Blurb(s):

Sometimes the best way to turn your bad luck around, is reach out for the hand willing to help.

Sophomore Shaun Richards could not have any worse luck. The front office ended up placing his locker in the senior wing this year. A month into the year and it hasn’t gotten any better. A group of seniors make it their mission to prove that he doesn’t belong and gives him a hard time on a daily basis.

While eating lunch alone one day senior, Nash Wilder comes to sit with him. Shaun has had a crush on the senior all year and wonders what the heck the senior was doing sitting with the geeky underclassman?

 

 

Excerpt:

Wrong Locker by Jackie Nacht

EXCERPT:

I was in pure hell. As I stood in front of Northeastern High, I could already feel my body tremble in panic. I was barely able to swallow, my throat dry with fear. Scrubbing a hand over my face, I wiped away the stray beads of sweat that showcased my anxiety to everyone passing me by.

Why was I so afraid to walk through those double doors? Oh that’s right. The front office had assigned me a locker in the senior hallway this year due to overcrowding. A sophomore in the senior wing? What in the world had they been thinking?

“You get up late, Shaun? Do you need me to start calling you in the morning again?” Wade adjusted his backpack as he came to stand next to me.

Wade was my only friend in school. We had grown up together and were tight as they came. He was protective of me and vice versa. He was also the only one I’d ever told I was gay, outside of my mom, even though I was teased ruthlessly by the jerks who just assumed. I wasn’t hiding it, but it was no one’s business either, so I didn’t confirm or deny.

How could I tell Wade that every day I tried to be this late? That way I might avoid having to walk to my locker in a hall crowded full of jerks that made it their life’s mission to put me through hell on a daily basis. If I came in late enough, I would only have to deal with a few stragglers as opposed to the whole gamut.

“No, I’m good, Wade.” My voice quivered. I hated feeling this way.

We entered the school together, and Wade paused at the front of the sophomore wing, pursing his lips. “Do you want me to go with you?”

As much as I wanted to say yes, I knew these jerks would be horrible to Wade, and I wanted to protect my one and only friend. “Go on to your locker. We only have a few minutes to make it to class.”

Walking away from Wade was a test of my courage. My whole body started to go on lockdown, ready to be verbally attacked, insulted and made to feel like a piece of chewing gum on the bottom of a shoe.

Putting my head down, I turned the corner, heading for my locker. I learned that if I didn’t make eye contact with the seniors, usually they would ignore me. I prayed that this would be one of those days. Getting to my locker, my fingers trembled as I grabbed my lock. Sheesh, I couldn’t even get the combination in I was shaking so badly. After screwing it up once, I had to try ‑­

spinning the combination out and trying again.

I took too long. The presence behind me confirmed that my day of hell was about to begin. Leaning my forehead against the cool locker, I didn’t even bother to try opening it up as my breath quickened.

A fist slammed next to me, causing me to jump.

Blake was there, leaning against the locker next to me with two of his buddies standing next to him. I have no clue what I ever did to offend the guy, but he hated me with a passion and was the ringleader to a group of seniors that gave me hell on a daily basis.

“Why haven’t you left yet? No one wants you here, fag.” Blake all but sneered at me.

It was the same thing every day. A sophomore wasn’t wanted in the wing, but it was more than that. This guy hated me. And I absolutely loathed being called a fag. That was just as bad as a slap to the face. Worse.

There was no point in responding. I’d tried the first couple times, explaining administration couldn’t switch my locker and that the sophomore wing was on overflow to other wings. Heck, there were a few more sophomores in this wing too, but they didn’t seem to have half as much trouble as I did. Of course, those sophomores were athletes.

Me, I was more on the small side, skinny as they came with stylish brown hair that I used to love but now seemed to be a beacon for these jerks.

“I don’t want to see you anymore. I don’t care how you do it, but I don’t want you walking in this hallway again.” Blake slammed the locker with his fist again. The three walked away, laughing and jeering at my humiliation.

I had hoped that it would get better, that these guys would get bored and leave me alone. Yeah, they hadn’t physically hurt me, yet. I knew that it was only a matter of time. Things had escalated too quickly in the last month since I had started school.

The bell rang, and I groaned, knowing that I was going to get into trouble for another tardy. Some days it just didn’t pay to wake up.

I ran all the way to my classroom and got a stern look from my Spanish teacher before sitting down in my assigned seat. This was the best part of my day. While one group of seniors were jerks, they weren’t all bad. Spanish was an elective that students were required to take two years of. Most waited until the last two years but I knew that I wanted to minor it in college so I wanted to have four years of languages.

This period, I got to stare at the back of the football co-captain, Nash Wilder. The man was gorgeous with sun-streaked light brown hair that had a short messy style to it. He was filled out ‑­

with muscles that I would forever lack and a tan I wish I could achieve. However, in my paleness, all I could hope for was a third degree burn. The man was handsome and unattainable. It seemed every girl dreamed he would ask them out, but the guy remained oblivious, concentrating on sports and school.

Glancing up at the dry erase board, I began doing my silent work of conjugating verbs and putting them into sentences. The tension in my body was still there from my earlier confrontation, but a small amount slipped away, knowing that I would have at least a small reprieve.

I was just about finished when Nash turned and stared at me. I glanced up from my paperwork into his puppy dog chocolate-brown eyes, surrounded by long dark eyelashes.

My jaw threatened to drop as he just scrutinized me. What was he thinking? Did I have something on my face? Oh God I did, didn’t I?

“You okay, Shaun?” Nash whispered, doing a quick glance over his shoulder to make sure the teacher wasn’t looking.

Nash knew my name? He freakin’ knew my name. I didn’t think anybody as popular as him would ever notice someone like me, unpopular and not an athletic bone in my body. He also sounded concerned. About me?

“I’m fine,” I croaked out.

Someone in Nash’s social stratosphere didn’t want to hear about all my problems. Probably would bore the guy to death.

Nash stared at me for a moment more before he went back to his work. I blew out a breath with relief that I didn’t have to discuss the jerks that constantly harassed me. How embarrassing would it be to admit to Nash the extent of my struggles, while crowded hallways seemed to simply part for him as he strolled along?

Rolling my pencil between my fingers, I frowned down at my work. This year was going to be so long for me. How was I ever going to be able to get through it? Sighing, I decided to try not to think about it as I got back to my work. Maybe in time I would have an answer, but right then, all I wanted was to survive the day.


Tour Dates: 8/20/14

 

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, MM Good Book Reviews, Full Moon Dreaming, SA McAuley, My Fiction Nook, Love Bytes, Prism Book Alliance, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Will Parkinson, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Charli Green, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Cate Ashwood, Hearts on Fire, Iyana Jenna, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Inked Rainbow Reads, Trisha Harrington’s Blog

Posting on 8/21/14:

Amanda C. Stone

 

Sales Links:
http://www.featherweightpublishing.com/BookStore.php?YA=JN_WRLOCKER
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MHFF8UI?_encoding=UTF8&tag=mp0def-20

 

 

 

 

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By |August 20th, 2014|Blog|1 Comment

Wet Paint Cover Reveal

 

Wet Paint 400x600

 

Author Bio:

WILL PARKINSON believes that no matter what obstacles are thrown in the path of young love, it will always find a way to win in the end. He wants his characters to have their happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean that it’s going to come easily.

None of this would have happened if he had followed the advice he was given many years ago. “What are you wasting your time on that for? It’s never going to amount to anything.” He believed it for the longest time, abandoning characters he’d created in his childhood.

He picked up his very first m/m story by a writer named Eden Winters, who was an absolute joy when they corresponded. She asked him if he wrote and he told her the story. Eden explained to Will that the voices in his head would never go away and how he needed to let them out. With that thought in mind, Will put e-pen to e-paper once more. It was truly a liberating experience and one he has no intention of giving up again.

 

Author Contact:

 

Website: http://www.willparkinson.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WillParkinsonau

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/will.parkinson.520

E-mail: will@willparkinson.com

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Video trailer:

Blurb:

Although Addy’s heart and body bear the scars from his life before he was adopted by the Deans, he’s ached for something he thought he would never find. Until he met Benny. He isn’t sure how anyone can care for someone as broken as he is, even though he wants it desperately.

 

High school senior Benny Peters has his whole life planned out for him, until a chaste kiss at summer camp opens a new world of possibilities. Determined to erase Addy’s insecurities, Benny works to take away his boyfriend’s pain and replace it with love.

 

When Addy’s past intrudes on their future, it’s going to take everything Benny can muster to show that no matter what – or who – they face, they belong together.

 

Excerpt:

Benny cast a glance at Addy, noticing how his eyes kept darting to him and then to the floor. He seemed troubled, unsure.

“Addy? Is there something wrong?”

Addy heaved a deep sigh, then was quiet for a moment. “Do I embarrass you?” he finally asked.

“What? No, of course not. Why would you even think that?” Benny was genuinely perplexed.

“Jackson and Taylor don’t seem to have any problem touching each other, but you act like I’ve got germs or something and won’t come anywhere near me when there’s other people around. I have to wonder if you’re ashamed to be seen with someone like… me.”

“Oh God, no,” Benny replied sharply. “Please don’t ever think that. You know what? C’mere.”

He grabbed Addy’s arm and dragged him into the lounge.

“Listen to me, little man. I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be ashamed of you. If anything, you should be ashamed of me.”

Addy looked puzzled. “Why?”

Benny slid his fingers through his stubbly hair, then rubbed the back of his neck before he spoke. “I’m not really comfortable with being… like this. I really do care for you, but I’ve never felt this way about a guy— well, about anyone—before, and I don’t know how to handle it. So no, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of you at all. I’m just not sure how to deal with everything.”

Addy took Benny by the hand and peered into his eyes. “That’s all I needed to know. I don’t want to rush you. If you need time, you’ve got to know I’ll give it to you. I just wanted to be sure that you wanted me.”

Benny regarded his boyfriend. Yeah, hisboyfriend. Benny had never been afraid to stand up for anyone in his life. Why should he be ashamed to stand up for himself now?

“C’mere, little man,” he growled, putting his hand on Addy’s neck, pulling him in close.

Addy’s eyes went wide, excitement dancing in them. Benny licked his lips and then pressed them to Addy’s in a deep, thrilling kiss. Someone whimpered. Benny wasn’t really sure which one of them it had been. He felt his synapses fry. It was the most incredible thing he’d ever experienced. A voice called out, startling them both.

“Benny? Is there something you’d like to tell me?”

Benny looked up and stared for a moment at Taylor, who had a wide smile across his face. Benny could feel his cheeks heat up. This wasn’t the way he wanted this to go, but damn, right now he needed Addy in the worst way.

“No, Taylor, not right now,” he replied quietly.
Then he went back in for another one of those amazing kisses.


Tour Dates: 8/18/14

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Angel Martinez, Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Cate Ashwood, Amanda C. Stone, SA McAuley, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Love Bytes, LeAnn’s Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, Havan Fellows, Emotion in Motion, My Fiction Nook, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Charli Green, Jade Crystal, Lee Brazil, Trisha Harrington’s Blog, Will Parkinson, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Wake Up Your Wild Side, EE Montgomery, Inked Rainbow Reads, Full Moon Dreaming, Top2Bottom, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Fallen Angel Reviews, Sinfully Sexy, Iyana Jenna, Andrew Q. Gordon

 

 

Sales Links:
E-book: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5417
Paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5418

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By |August 18th, 2014|Blog, Pitch, Uncategorized, Wet Paint|4 Comments

Key of Behliseth Cover reveal

Key of Behliseth

 

Author Bio:

Lou Hoffmann, a mother and grandmother now, has carried on her love affair with books for more than half a century, and she hasn’t even made a dent in the list of books she’d love to read—partly because the list keeps growing as more and more fascinating tales are told in written form. She reads factual things—books about physics and stars and fractal chaos, but when she wants truth, she looks for it in quality fiction. Through all that time she’s written stories of her own, but she’s come to be a published author only as a johnnie-come-lately. Lou loves other kinds of beauty as well, including music and silence, laughter and tears, youth and age, sunshine and storms, forests and fields, rivers and seas. Proud to be a bisexual woman, she’s seen the world change and change back and change more in dozens of ways, and she has great hope for the freedom to love in the world the youth of today will create in the future. You can find Lou on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lou.hoffmann, or twitter @Lou_Hoffmann.

Author Contact:

Cover Artist: Catt Ford

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press (Dreamspinner Press imprint)

Blurb(s):

On his way to meet a fate he’d rather avoid, homeless gay teen Lucky steps through a wizard’s door and is caught up in a whirlwind quest and an ancient war. He tries to convince himself that his involvement with sword fights, magic, and interworld travel is a fluke, and that ice-breathing dragons and fire-breathing eagles don’t really exist. But with each passing hour, he remembers more about who he is and where he’s from, and with help, he begins to claim his power.

Lucky might someday rule a nation, but before he can do that, he must remember his true name, accept his destiny, and master his extraordinary abilities. Only then can he help to banish the evil that has invaded earth and find his way home—through a gateway to another world.

 

Excerpt:

KOB excerpt graphic when something is true

Tour Dates: 8/12/14

 

Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Amanda C. Stone, Havan Fellows, MM Good Book Reviews, Prism Book Alliance, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Velvet Panic, Love Bytes, The Hat Party, Angel Martinez, Fallen Angel Reviews, Iyana Jenna, Will Parkinson, The Novel Approach, Hearts on Fire, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Smoocher’s Voice, Cate Ashwood, Kimi-Chan, Dawn’s Reading Nook

Sales Links

Code: SUNCHILD
20% off – preorders
15% off – first 2 weeks after release
Enter the above code for 20% off preorders of Key of Behliseth!

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By |August 12th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Wet Paint is coming! Ask me (almost) anything

 

WetPaint_postcard_back_Harmony

It started last year. A dream about a story where one guy had been lusting over another all throughout high school. I woke up in the middle of the night (as I am often wont to do) and wrote it down. I thought that was the end of it. But no. The boys had other ideas, though. I shared the story with a friend. She said it would make a good full length story and that I had a ‘young adult’ voice. That got me thinking about doing more with the story. Taylor and Jackson were definitely on board with that.

So I sat down. They were no longer going to be in college, they were going to be in high school. Their circle of friends expanded, and their lives took on a life of its own. In the original there was no Becca. There was no Kevin. Yet they came to play, too.

Pitch was my first story that I even considered sharing with the world. I had some help from an amazing person who helped me to show and not tell, who encouraged the story along. Who told me it didn’t suck. I look at it now and think, “oh geez, I could have done this differently”, but I’m still happy with what I wrote. Mostly. (The urge to tweak is still there.)

The one thing that most people had in common was a love for one particular character. He was supposed to be a background person, someone who was there to provide moral direction. Instead he became the ‘oh damn, I wish I had a friend like him’. The end of Pitch was supposed to be that. The end. But a few friends who were reading it wanted more. They wanted me to tell a story for Benny. And it seemed impossible, until the end of the book when everything came together and suddenly the story for Benny made sense. So I went back and jiggered a few bits, making it seem like Benny had something to say. Now he does.

Harmony Ink, the young adult division of Dreamspinner Press, has agreed to publish Wet Paint, Benny and Addy’s story (I’m sorry, Benny did NOT end up with Taylor, that was never even a thought in my head).

Now I’m going to admit something to you. Some people had a hard time with Pitch because of some issues of stupidity on the part of the main character. Taylor is sixteen in the story, almost seventeen. He made some choices that were not too bright, but, according to my friends who work with young adults, they were perfectly consistent with reality. We all have secrets, and Taylor’s almost cost him everything.

Another thing that some found off-putting  was something Jackson does. Again, he’s sixteen going on seventeen. I’m sorry. Kids make spur of the moment choices that they later regret.

And, finally, there is the subject of abuse. It plays a small role in Pitch when Taylor and Benny meet Addy. It’s not in-depth discussion, but it’s there.

Why am I telling you this? Because in Wet Paint some of these issues are revisited. The big one being the abuse. If it’s a red-flag issue for you, then you probably will not want to read Wet Paint. Addy’s story cannot be told without it, and I can’t sugarcoat what happened to him and how it affects him to this day, and may for the rest of his life. I can’t shy away from it in his story. I’m certainly not going into graphic detail, but the imagery is there.

I disagree with one reviewer who said this was too adult for a YA novel. I think kids need to know these things. Unless you’re hiding them away in their rooms, there is no way they won’t already hear it or, in some cases, even have to deal with it. In the end, Taylor realizes what he did was wrong, and he paid a price for it. Like real life.

So, for those who enjoyed Pitch, I sure hope you’ll like Wet Paint. It was tough to write, but I’m very happy with the outcome.

Now, instead of ending on a heavy note, I want to introduce you to my inspirations for the characters.

 

 

BennyCaption
  Benny Peters. This guy is a bit older and has more facial hair than I see Benny having, but his body type is perfect.

Benny is my ideal. He’s smart (wickedly so), he’s built (but not hardbodied), and he’s sweet (like candy, baby)

If there were ever perfect book boyfriend, Benny would be mine. He says the things that shows he wants to protect you, to keep you safe. He’s possessive and, maaaaybe a tad domineering, but if you’re important to him, he refuses to let you go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AddyCaption
Addy Dean. Met Benny at Camp Care where Benny was his counselor. Did something that would change his life forever.

Addy has not had the best life. He was abused by his biological father, physically and sexually. He was angry and hurt. He never let anyone inside of his shell. Yet Benny found a way in, and Addy didn’t want to let that slip away.

Adopted by the Dean family when he was a child, Addy is finally coming to grips with what happened. He’s opening up to his family, much to their relief. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liam

 Liam Hartwell. This year he’s going to cause problems between Benny and Addy, but not everything is as it seems when this young man is involved.

 

 

By |August 8th, 2014|Blog, Pitch, Wet Paint, Writing|8 Comments

Update on Wet Paint…

I have had my second set of edits for Wet Paint. I have my cover for Wet Paint (done by the amazing Reese Dante!) and will be asking the bloggers of Pride to help with the unveiling.

For those who haven’t read Pitch and met Benny, this is his story. Of all the characters that I’ve ever written, he is my favorite. He is the best friend you’ll ever have. He’s got brains, he’s got brawn, and he’s got a heart as big as all outdoors.

BennyCaption

This is my Benny (except he doesn’t have facial hair).

Benny has been Taylor Andrew’s best friend since kindergarten (it was the whole pee pants thing that started it). He’s never been one to turn away from a friend in need – though he was driven to that point once and has regretted it ever since.

Taylor and Benny also appeared in two shorts. One was for Mrs. Condit and Friends and one was for Harmony Ink during the Day of Silence. Both of those are posted below if you’d like to see them.

Day of Silence

Taylor Andrews sat in the assembly, waiting for the class president, Jackson Kern to make his way to the podium. He wasn’t sure what had prompted this unannounced gathering, but if it gave him the chance to see Jackson, he was certainly going to take it. Taylor watched as Jackson bypassed the large screen on the platform and slowly approached the microphone. He shuffled the index cards in his hand, before placing them on the inclined surface. Jackson tapped the microphone a couple of times, causing the vibrations to echo through the gymnasium. Silence fell over the crowd and all eyes turned to the star pitcher of the school’s undefeated baseball team. Jackson cleared his throat, raised his eyes toward the bleachers and started his obviously rehearsed speech.

“Good morning students and faculty. Friday, April 19th, 2013 will be the National Day of Silence. What this means is some students will remain quiet throughout the day in support of LGBT people and their allies.”

Jackson paused while murmurs rippled through the crowd. A coughed out ‘faggots’ carried across the wide gym. Laughter was heard, which only exacerbated the situation. Taylor watched wide-eyed as Jackson stood stock-still, taking it all in. Considering Jackson’s feelings about gay people, Taylor was surprised when Jackson held up his hands and called for the group to quiet down.

“This is exactly what I’m talking about. You’re talking about your friends. Your classmates. People you see every day. Is this the kind of of treatment you’d give them to their face? Or is it just funny because no one knows who you are? To be honest, I don’t find it amusing at all. What if it was your brother? Your sister? Your best friend?” Taylor watched as Jackson’s eyes roamed over the crowd. He was uncomfortable when they came to rest on him. “What if it was someone you cared about?”

Taylor shifted in his seat. Becca had already made Jackson’s feelings toward him clear and the fact that Jackson was looking at him when talking about gay people made Taylor all the more uncomfortable.

“The student council has spoken with the teachers of the school. We have been assured that anyone who wishes to participate will not be called out for it. We have cards to hand out to students who would like to support their friends. You can pick them up at the student council office. To make it perfectly clear, if a teacher asks you a question, you must answer it. Please don’t make this difficult for anyone. If they disagree with you, simply smile and carry on about your business. They are within their rights, too, but not to harass or ridicule you.”

Jackson held up a card to the audience.

“Today, I am silent. Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?” he read. He then put the card down and regarded the audience with what appeared to be pain etched on his face. Behind him, pictures began appearing on the screen.

“The statistics concerning gay teen suicide are staggering,” he said. “Every day more promising futures are cut short by self-loathing. We can’t fix it for everyone, but we can start to  show that we won’t tolerate it here. By joining in the National Day of Silence, I hope to show what happens when we lose one more person, one more friend, one more family member to pain and abuse. My voice will be silent for a day, to speak for those who have been forever silenced.”

Jackson turned and gestured toward the screen. A young man with blond hair and bright blue eyes appeared. “This is James. When James was thirteen the bullies started in on him. According to his parents, James was a slight, effeminate boy, but so strong in many ways. He loved his family, his church, and his friends. It got so bad that he begged his parents to let him stay home, but wouldn’t tell them why. He was fifteen when he hanged himself. His twelve year old sister found his body.”

Another picture appeared. This time it was a young girl. Long red hair, deep-set green eyes opened wide, peering at the sky with a look of awe on her face. “This is Melissa. She was teased at school for two years when she was caught kissing another girl. Her parents kicked her out. She ended up in a foster home. Mr. and Mrs. Arkin wanted to adopt Melissa and give her a safe home to grow up in. Melissa finally couldn’t take the constant teasing. She took pills, went to sleep and never woke up. She was twelve.”

Over and over, the pictures changed. Each time Jackson gave the story of a young life, snuffed out by cruelty and hatred. When at last he reached the final picture, he turned and faced the students who sat in rapt attention. “Any one of these young people could have been someone you know. Any of them could be someone who would have been your friend. Each of them had potential that was extinguished too soon. This can’t go on. We can’t lose any more of our peers. It’s my hope that you will join me on April 19th and support those you may not even know, as well as those you have yet to discover the truth about. Thank you.”

Everyone in the gym was quiet as Jackson left the stage. There were tears streaking the faces of people close to Taylor. He looked to his best friend Benny Peters, who raised his eyebrows before he stood up and began to clap. Taylor counted his breaths, focusing on them, praying to not have a panic attack just this one time, as he joined Benny. Around them others rose, until the applause was thunderous in the enclosed gym. Taylor noted that some people didn’t stand, but they were vastly outnumbered by those who did.

As people filed out of the gym, Taylor turned to Benny. “What did you think, Benny?”

Benny smiled down at him. “I’m gonna do it, Tay. I’m doing it to support my best friend, but also because I can’t deal with the thought that someone I know might not be here tomorrow because I didn’t stand up for them today. I know how you feel about coming out, and I respect that, but I need to do this. I’m not going to ask you to join in, but know that if you do, I swear I’ll have your back.”

Taylor gave Benny a wide smile. “I’m there with you. Always was, always will be.”

Benny bumped Taylor’s shoulder with his beefy arm, causing Taylor to bounce against the lockers.

“Let’s go see about getting some of those cards, okay? I want everyone to know that I support LGBT people and that I am most definitely their ally.”

Taylor got a warm feeling throughout his body as Benny slid an arm around his shoulder and pulled him close. “Why do you think he did it? Jackson’s made it really clear how he feels about gay people. Why do you think he stood up in front of everyone today and made this speech?” Taylor wondered aloud.

Benny shrugged slightly. “Maybe he’s evolving on the issue. A lot of politicians today seem to be. I’m hoping that one day we’ll be able to look back when our children ask us, ‘what the hell were they thinking back then?’ and have an answer for them. I hope that one day, a Day of Silence won’t even be necessary anymore.”

“I just hope it’s within our lifetime, Benny. We’ve already lost too many people.”

“Amen, Tay. Amen.”

 

Benny Meets Mrs. Condit:

MEET BENNY! 
Benny sat quietly on the butter soft gray fabric couch. He could see a few cat hairs and it made him smile. He loved people who really cared for their furry friends. When the woman, who said her name was Mrs. Condit, entered the room with lemonade he could smell the delicious aroma of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and he groaned. When she smiled at him, it made him think of his Grams. She held the plate out to him, clearly offering one of the sinfully tempting treats, but he said ‘I can’t’ and shook his head, “Thank you, but I’m a vegan. I don’t eat eggs or dairy.”
The woman gave him a patient smile. “Hon, I’ve been a reviewer for years. Trust me, I did my research. They’re totally vegan. Plus,” she whispered conspiratorially, I put walnuts in them.”
Benny bit into one and moaned appreciatively as it melted in his mouth. “Oh my god, these are amazing. Do you treat everyone like this?” he asked, licking bits of crumbs and gooey chocolate from his fingers.
Mrs. Condit shook her head. “Nah, usually Lucky takes care of the interviews, but I pulled rank and got you before he did.”
“With this kind of service, Mrs. Condit, you can interview me any time!” he said with a laugh.
Mrs. Condit relaxed back onto the matching armchair, settling in with a notebook. A Maine coon cat padded through the room and leapt up onto the chair, glaring at Benny. Mrs. Condit gave the kitty a rub between the ears, which set the motor running.
Mrs. Condit thumbed the pages she had in her hand until she found the one she was looking for. “Okay. Ready?”
Benny nodded sharply, stuffing the remainder of the cookie in his mouth. “Mmfready” he mumbled, trying to swallow the cookie. Mrs. Condit went to the kitchen and came back with a glass of soy milk.
“Sorry. I should have given you that to start with.”
Benny gulped the cold beverage and gazed affectionately at Mrs. Condit. “I’m ready.”
“Hi, Benny! Welcome to the blog tour for Pitch. Don’t be nervous. We’re just here to introduce you to Mr. Parkinson’s many fans.”
“Thanks for inviting me. I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time.”
Question 1: Tell us a little bit about yourself: how old are you, where do you go to school, what are your hobbies, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Benny gave a mischievous grin and started counting on his fingers. “Sixteen. I go to school in Bay View, Wisconsin. Hobbies?” Benny scratched his head. “Keeping Taylor out of trouble, I guess. With my school load, I don’t really have a lot of time for much else. It’s hard enough to make the time to see Tay. As for what I want to do when I grow up, since I’ve been a little kid, I knew I wanted to do something to help people. I don’t know exactly what yet, but I know that’s where my heart is at. I get this warmth through me when I do something that benefits other people.”
Question 2: Tell us about your family. Do you and your parents get along well?
“My mom and dad are great. For the most part, anyway. They’re entirely focused on school. I have to be the best. It’s expected that I’m going to be the valedictorian. Once in a while I wish they’d let up, just a little. I think that’s why I need Taylor in my life.”
Question 3: How long have you and Taylor been friends? What makes him a great friend?
“Taylor and I have been besties since kindergarten. There’s a funny story there, but I don’t usually tell it to people. What makes him a great friend? There isn’t just one thing. Taylor is the part of my life that is like a release valve. I need that smile that he brings to me. The way his eyes light up when he talks about his crushes, the way my heart breaks when he talks about his fears. He needs me and I need him.
Question 4: What does the word “bully” mean? Why do you think some people are bullies and how does it affect you when you see someone bullied?
A bully is anyone who takes pleasure in hurting another person – either physically or emotionally. I think that people fall into two categories when it comes to being a bully. 1) They’re afraid they see something of themselves in the person they’re picking on or 2) They’re just jerks. I know I’m oversimplifying things and that there is a lot more to it than that, but that’s how it seems to me. I’d never tell anyone else this, but when I see someone being bullied, I always see them with Tay’s face. The fear and panic when they’re close to the edge. That’s my friend’s face and I’m not about to stand by and let it go on. I will step up for them.
Question 5: Does it bother you that Taylor is gay? When did you first find out that he is gay, and what did you think at the time?
Benny fingers his jacket, not meeting Mrs. Condit’s eyes for a moment. “No,” he answered quietly. “It doesn’t bother me that Tay is gay. I think I knew before he told me. It was mostly that I was just waiting for him to trust me enough to let me in. I knew he was working up to it one day when I was at his house and he was so nervous. When he finally blurted it out, I acted cool about it, but inside I was so damned happy that he finally admitted it out loud.
Question 6: You spend your summers working at Camp Care. Can you tell us what you do there?
“Camp Care is a place for abused kids to feel safe. When Tay told me he was going to be going there, it seemed like something I could do to make a difference. It was like it was calling my name. The fact that I’d be able to spend some time with my best friend just made it that much better to me. I try to engage my camper in activities, to find an outlet for their feelings. Mostly, though, I listen.”
Question 7: You are a big guy. How tall are you? Do you like to work out to keep in shape? Do you think you intimidate people just because you are so big? Why is that a good or a bad thing?
“I’m six-one. I do a lot of weightlifting in my downtime. Every night I do reps to burn off excess energy and help calm my mind before I go to sleep. Are people intimidated by me? Yeah. Definitely. It has advantages and disadvantages. A lot of people are afraid to approach me because I’m big and scary. It works to my advantage when I have to face a bully though.
Question 8: When you go away to college what do you think will be an important thing for you to do right away?
I’ve got a plan, but it really depends on someone else. I know that I’m going to be heading to Vermont for college, but so much about this revolves around decisions I hope someone else is going to make. Don’t ask me who, though. I’m not ready to talk about that.
Question 9: Taylor likes to watch his friend Jax play baseball. Is there a sport you particularly enjoy playing or watching?
Benny rolled his eyes. “Sports are frowned upon in my house.” ‘They take time away from your studies,’ Benny said in a mocking tone. “My parents are all about the grades. They have to come first. And I get it, I do. My dad had to work hard to get where he is. Nothing ever came easy for him and I don’t expect it will be easy for me, either. But I’ve got a long-term plan and I know what has to be done to get there. Of course, there’s been something added that I hadn’t considered before, so now I have to adjust a bit.”
Question 10: Do you know if Mr. Parkinson is going to write any more stories about you, Taylor, Jax, and your friend Addy? Why is it important for young people to be able to read stories about people like themselves or like people they may know?
Benny gave a sly grin. “Well, there’s talk about a story called ‘Wet Paint’. When he told me about his idea my jaw dropped. I think he might want to reconsider it, because I know that no one is going to want to read it. He seems to think they’ll enjoy it, though. As for why it’s important for people to read stories like this? They need to know they aren’t alone. The world is big and scary. When Tay finally worked up the courage to tell me he was gay, he was so sure he’d lose it all. It shouldn’t be like that. Not for anyone.”
Thank you for taking the time away from your studies to visit with us today. Best wishes for success in college, Benny.
Benny thanked Mrs. Condit for her time as she led him to the door. He looked back at the rest of the cookies, still oozing warm chocolate and gave a whimper. She patted him on the shoulder and wrapped the remainder in a paper towel for him to take back to the hotel room.
“Thank you,” he said sheepishly. “Those really are the best cookies ever. And you’re the best host ever.”

 

An exclusive short for Mrs. Condit where Taylor goes to find a special gift for his best friend

Taylor grumbled as the bus stopped yet again. If it wasn’t for Benny’s birthday coming up next week, there was no way he’d ever be downtown during the preparation for festival week. Too many people jammed the bus, leaving Taylor feeling somewhat claustrophobic. The man who sat next to him reeked of sweat and something Taylor was sure he didn’t want to think too hard about. At that point Taylor wished he could offer the man a bar of soap.
He could feel himself getting jittery, his hands twitched and he was unable to still them. Mercifully, the ride was nearly over. His destination was just a few more blocks up on Wisconsin Avenue. Why Benny had to have this particular item escaped him, but when his best friend wanted something, Taylor was going to do his damnedest to get it for him.
The door to the Army and Navy Surplus store was unremarkable. If you weren’t actively looking for it, you’d probably miss it. When Taylor pulled it open, the smells of musty air mixed with dozens of other scents.
“Hey kid, what can I do for you?” the clerk called out as he straightened up a display.
Taylor took a few hesitant steps toward the man, noticing the dog at the man’s heel.
“What’s the dog’s name?” Taylor asked, bending down to greet the canine companion.
“This here’s Jake,” he said, running his hand over the dog’s head. He was rewarded with a bark and a waggling tail. It was then that Taylor noted the milky eyes.
“Is he—”, Taylor fumbled for a word.
“Yeah, blind as a bat. I’m kind of his seeing eye human. Jake’s a military dog, well, at least he used to be. He was part of my brother’s unit in Kuwait. When they got attacked, Leon was killed and Jake was blinded. They retired him and I asked about adopting him. He’s old now. I’m surprised he still gets around.”
The man turned his head and wiped a tear from his eye. Taylor didn’t say anything. Jake stepped toward him, sniffing the air.
“Is it okay if I pet him?”
“Sure thing. He loves to be touched.”
Taylor ran his hands over the stiff fur. He could feel the dog leaning against him, enjoying the attention.
“Jake’s nothing but an attention whore,” the man said, giving a snorted laugh. “So what can I do for you? Pretty sure you’re not here to play with my dog.”
Taylor stood, chuckling when Jake gave a small whine and began nudging his hand.
“My friend came here a while back and found something he liked. It was some kind of silverware set. He told me it was stainless steel and—”
“Your friend’s name wouldn’t happen to be Benny, would it?” the man asked.
Taylor was stunned. He nodded his head and the man gave a hearty laugh.
“That boy is something else. I’m guessing you’re Taylor then, right?”
Taylor’s head was spinning. It was weird enough that this man knew Benny, but to know his name, too?
“Uh…yeah. How did you know?”
The clerk stepped behind the counter and reached inside one of the display cases. He pulled out a small box and placed it on the counter.
“This would be what you’re looking for.”
Taking the top off the box, Taylor looked at the compact silverware piece. It was an interesting piece, The spoon had brackets where the knife and fork slid into it. He had to admit, it was certainly unique.
“Yeah, I think this is it.”
“I can tell you for a fact it is. Benny picked it out himself. He asked me to keep it on the side because you’d be coming to get it.”
Taylor grinned. His best friend knew him way too well. Taylor paid for the set, still uncertain why Benny would want it, gave Jake a quick hug, and shook hands with the clerk.
“Tell Benny to stop back. That boy’s damned funny and he loves Jake.”
“I’m not surprised. Benny is as much an attention whore as Jake,” Taylor admitted.
Taylor had his hand on the door, ready to leave, when it was pulled open. Jackson Kern, class president, stood in the entrance. Taylor sucked in a quick breath. He moved out of the way, allowing Jackson to enter the store. Since Becca had told Taylor how Jackson felt about him, he’d done his best to stay out of the young athlete’s way. Taylor’s stomach lurched. He felt he was in a free-fall. He noted wryly that he was standing behind a packed parachute. How appropriate.
“Taylor?” Jackson said cautiously, stepping toward him.
“I was just leaving,” Taylor mumbled. “I need to get home.”
“Can you give me just a minute?”
Taylor shook his head. “No, I really have to go.”
Jackson sighed and stepped aside, allowing Taylor to get through. “I’m here for the student council. I know you volunteer a lot. Maybe you’d like to be part of the committee for this one?”
Taylor winced and he felt himself begin to sweat. The only reason he was helping the student council was so that he could see Jackson, but being this close to him and knowing his feelings about gay people, Taylor didn’t want to take the chance he’d blurt something out. The closet may be suffocating, but at least it was safe.
“Not right now. Maybe another time.”
Taylor rushed through the exit and stepped out into the bright sunlight. It took a few minutes to slow his hammering heartbeat.

The ride back home seemed to take forever. Taylor took the box from his pocket and was grateful his mind was occupied. He didn’t want to have to think about Jackson, despite the fact the young man lived in Taylor’s mind.
“Hey Tay,” Benny called out. “Where you been?”
Taylor gave an exaggerated eye roll. “Like you didn’t know. The guy at the store said you picked out your own damned gift. Why in the hell would you want this anyway?”
Taylor thrust the box at Benny who chuckled at him. “You never know when you might need something. Imagine me, your vegan best friend, at a party and I can’t eat anything they’re serving. I take out something I brought with me, grab my pocketware, and dig in. So, did you like Jake? He’s a good old boy.”
“Jackson showed up,” Taylor mumbled, ignoring Benny’s question.
The smile on Benny’s face was gone instantly. “What did he say? Are you okay?”
Taylor gave a slight shrug. “He said he was there for the student council and asked if I wanted to work on a project with him.”
“Okay, and that’s a problem because…?”
Taylor gave an exasperated huff. “Gee, I don’t know. Because he hates gay people? Because he thinks I’m—”
Benny put a hand on Taylor’s shoulder to silence him. “Look, you told me how he feels. I know how much that hurts you. Maybe you should give it a chance. If he got to know you, I’m willing to bet he’d come around. Jackson may be dumb, but he isn’t stupid. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He’s doing some amazing things for the community. You obviously see that. It’s one of the reasons you’re attracted to him, yeah? Don’t let his prejudices stop you from doing the right thing. You never know. Maybe you’ll be the one to teach him something.”

Taylor went to bed that night, thinking about what Benny had said. He couldn’t see himself talking to Jackson right now, but maybe one day. Jackson was doing some pretty great things. He obviously had a good heart. Maybe Benny was right. Perhaps he and Jackson could be friends.
One day.

 

 

And an exclusive to Mrs. Condit featuring Addy’s father and mother

Wet Paint is the upcoming sequel to Pitch. Wet Paint will be published by Harmony Ink this fall.

Daryl Dean stood near the living room. He’d told his son he was headed to bed, but he needed to see with his own eyes that he was okay after his night was disrupted by memories.

He peeked around the corner and saw Adrian give Benny a cup of hot cocoa, then settle onto the couch beside him. Benny lifted an arm and Addy curled up next to him, placing his head on Benny’s broad chest. He could hear the sigh of contentment from his son. The two talked quietly, Daryl unable to catch but a few words. He didn’t want to eavesdrop. More that he wanted to assure himself that Adrian was safe. When Benny pulled Adrian close, Daryl closed the door and headed to the bedroom where he found his wife reading a book.

“Is he okay?” Celia Dean asked, placing the book on the nightstand.

“I think so. Mr. Peters is sitting with him in the living room. He and I talked in the kitchen. Do you know that boy said he was surprised I was romantic?”

The warmth of Celia’s laugh helped relieve the tension he felt in his chest.

“What did you say?”

“I told him to remind me to tell him how I proposed.”

His wife rolled her eyes. “If memory serves, I was the one who proposed.”

Daryl smiled. They had been dating for nearly a year in college. He had been trying to work up the nerve to ask her to marry him, but every time he looked at her, he reminded himself she could do so much better. He left his dorm one afternoon to find Celia on the lawn outside with a throng of people. She stepped forward and the school band began playing ‘How About Us’ from Champaign with Celia providing the vocals. Her voice was crisp and sweet and it brought tears to Daryl’s eyes. When the song ended, she moved slowly to where he stood.

“I’ve been waiting and waiting for you to ask, and I’m afraid if I don’t do it, someone else will grab you up. Like the song says, some people are made for each other, some people can love one another for life. How about us?” She knelt on the grass and held out a ring box. “Daryl Dean, would you do me the honor?”

He couldn’t believe she was asking, but at that moment in time there nothing more important than his next words. He knelt beside her and drew her into his arms. “I thought you’d never ask,” he answered, choking back a sob. It was one of the most perfect moments in his life.

“Don’t worry,” she said softly, breaking him out of his reverie. “If Addy asks, I’ll tell him it was all your idea.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that.” He wiped away a tear from the beautiful memory, then inished undressing and lay down on the bed.

“It’s hard, isn’t it?” she asked, snaking an arm over his chest.

“What’s that?”

“Seeing him grow up. Knowing that he’s found someone who loves him with his whole heart and whose love he returns. Realizing he’s going to be moving on with his life and we’re going to be here waiting for him to come home.”

Daryl sighed. “I won’t deny it. But Mr. Peters isn’t your average man. He’s everything I think Addy needs in a partner. He’s intelligent. He’s caring. He’s protective. When Adrian told me he was gay, I was fearful, but the expression on Mr. Peters face, and knowing what I do about him, it told me that he’d treat our son right.”

“He’s a good man. But so are you.” Celia snuggled in closer and kissed Daryl on the cheek. “I love that you love us.”

Daryl rolled to his side and took his wife in his arms. “You and that kid are my whole life. You’ve given me everything I ever wanted and more. Yes, I’m going to be sad to see him leave the nest, but I know you’re here with me, and that makes everything okay.”

“We could always try again for another child,” she said, giving a gentle smile.

Daryl reached over and turned off the light. “I wonder if Adrian would like a brother or sister,” he said softly, pulling his wife in for a kiss.

The last thought he had before his wife overwhelmed his mind was that no matter what else, his life was still going to be amazing.

By |July 22nd, 2014|Blog, Pitch, Uncategorized, Writing|0 Comments