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About a billion years ago (give or take a few months) I gave up writing. I was told I was wasting my time and what I was doing would never amount to anything. I listened to that voice (it belonged to my father) and let it quell my desire to tell stories. For a time.
Then I met Eden Winters. She had published a book called “The Telling” and it was to be my first male/male romance story. I wrote to tell her how much I enjoyed the book and that started a friendship between the two of us. (BTW, never be afraid to write to an author. They’re amazingly receptive and appreciate hearing that you like their stuff.) One day she asked me if I wrote and I told her no, and then explained why. She convinced me that the voices in my head were more powerful than the ones I heard from my father and I needed to give them room to grow. So I did.
At first there was a story about a young man, Taylor, who is away at college with his best friend, Benny. It speaks of Taylor’s unrequited crush for Jackson, an athlete they knew in high school that now attends the same college. This was just supposed to be a one-off. Something that came to me while I was sleeping and had to get up in the middle of the night to write it all down. However the characters refused to stay quiet and the story morphed. Now the boys are in high school and they are dealing with so many other things.
I loved writing this story.
Then after I submitted it (which took the combined efforts of several people, including KC Wells (Author of the Learning to Love series and who is currently waiting on the release date for the start of her Collars and Cuffs series, and self-publishing under Island Tales Press), Lis Craig, Taylor Rhodes, Marc Fabris, Seymour James, Sjd Peterson (author of Plan B, Tuck & Cover, and more) Becky Condit, Mr. Webb (author of City Knight and Let’s Hear It For The Boy), and Laura Harner (author of The Willow Springs Ranch series and Triple Threat ) I read the call for Mixed Tape by MLR. My original song idea was taken, so I asked about the song 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. Kris Jacen, Supreme Overlord for MLR, said that it was available.
From that prompt came the story of Mark, who is in love with his brother Eric’s best friend, Jase. Mark’s world is shaken when Eric and Jase ship overseas to join the Army. While overseas, Jase sends Mark a tape that takes his already shaky world and crumbles it to dust.
I fell in love with these boys. They made me smile and cry as I told their story. When I submitted it, I never expected that it would be picked, especially when I found out there were several big names that were also going to try for the same anthology. When Kris contacted me and told me I was receiving a contract (my first) I was stunned and maybe cried just a little.
The story came out on June 7 and the reaction was unlike anything I had expected. People wrote to tell me how much they loved it. Someone wrote and told me what it meant to her. Several folks told me they cried for my boys and their loss. And one of my favorites came from Piper Vaughn and Kris Jacen who told me they wanted to smack one of them when he…well, I don’t want to give away everything.
That said, there are people I need to acknowledge for giving me the strength and encouragement to try because without them I would have given up. Every person listed above is part of that list. But there is also Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, Max Vos, Cate Ashwood, Mary Grzesik, Silvia Violet, Madison Parker, Lauren Lewis, Aj Rose, Amy Peterson, ZAllora Allora, Grace Santiago, Jayden Brooks and so many other people.
Without you people, my guys wouldn’t exist and I wouldn’t be celebrating with each of you today.
My deepest appreciation!