Welcome To Fake Paradise!

This is the personal writing blog for Joana Hill, creative writing major extraordinaire! Here you'll find the random ramblings and occasional writings of a girl obsessed with gay romance and the yaoi manga FAKE. You've been warned.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Purpose behind writing

Since winter vacation started for me, I've been reading a lot more. I recently finished Paranormalcy, a book that's gotten some pretty good ratings. When I was talking to my friend, Ashlie, about it though, I found myself saying that I didn't like part of it. I'm the kind of person that can be fairly forgiving with books, but it just stuck out to me. Whenever the subject of vampires came up, she seemed to be bashing a certain pop culture phenomenon.

If I had to put my finger on it, I'd say that it seemed like a person who was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer who also hated Twilight was writing it to give the middle finger to sparkly vampires. I'm by no means a Twilight supporter, but this just doesn't seem like a good reason to write a book. I mean, I'm sure there were plenty of other reasons, and when she got past the whole vampire thing it was fine for the most part, but like I said, it stuck out to me.

So what do you think? Do you think it's okay for a book to be obviously written as an answer to another, especially negatively like this?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Writing updates

Artistic License and Fortissimo are both out to beta readers. Fortissimo will of course take a while to edit since it's fresh out of NaNoWriMo and so raw it puts raw meat to shame, but Artistic License will hopefully be ready for ABNA. In the meantime, I'm writing a new novel that I aim to have finished by the end of January. It's called Nowhere Fast. I have it up on two websites: FictionPress, as usual, and a new site called Figment. I will be posting the entire first draft on these two websites and leave it up there while I edit, but if I'm satisfied enough to send it out to literary agents, it'll be coming down when I send out the queries. So if you're curious about my writing beyond my drabbles, feel free to check it out :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

50k and beyond

Fortissimo officially hit 50k on the eighteenth, but I'm still going strong. My actual goal for NaNo is 65k, which is more on-par with how long a YA novel (or at least a YA general fiction novel) is.

I know I have a lot of editing before me. Fortissimo isn't completely unsalvagable, but there are places in it that are just a mess. But you know what? I'm fine with that. I wanted to tell this story and I did. Besides, with a month of Christmas vacation before me in December/January, all I'll really have to do is write and edit.

So I guess what I have before me is editing both Fortissimo and Artistic License. I'm not sure what I want to do with Fortissimo at this point. Given the popularity of shows like Glee, maybe it has a chance of making it. Of course, who knows if Glee will even still be going strong when I feel ready to put Fortissimo out there.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Your favorite YA novel?

So with Christmas coming up in about a month, my mind has, of course, been set to what I want for Christmas. Being twenty years old, my relatives pretty much have no idea what I like and just give me money. This is all well and good, but I like books :(

So what's your favorite? As the title says, preferably YA since that is what I read and write the most. Even if you think I've already read something, mention it anyway! I'd love to just get a discussion going about this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fortissimo progress

I've come to a part in NaNo I dread: when I know I want to change something. But NaNoWriMo is about chugging through the novel no matter what. It doesn't matter that I want to completely change the ending; I can keep writing like I had and change the ending in December when I'm not restrained by that 65k I'm determined to get by the thirtieth.

That said, Fortissimo is turning into a clusterfuck (if you'll excuse the language; I'm assuming anyone who's following this blog already knows I swear like a drunken sailor). I have Christmas vacation for a month, in which time I will be editing both Fortissimo and Artistic License. AL will be sent into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award when it starts up for 2011, so here's hoping it works out :)

That's all for now.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Update on NaNo

It's day four, and I'm up to 12,828 words so far. It's not even noon, though, so you can bet that will be increasing :) And here's a bit of the novel to tie you over until this thing hits shelves *crosses fingers*

I stared at the man sitting at the piano. He was the same one form the Spring concert. If I asked Noelle, she’d probably roll her eyes and tell me if I listened, I would've known he was going to be our new pianist.

“Good morning,” he said, finally looking away from the music sheets in his hands. I stiffened in my place, but he didn’t seem to notice. “You’re Rin, right?”

I swallowed the lump in my throat and nodded. “Yeah, but how did you know?”

“Mr. Kais talks about his students a lot.” He smiled in a secretive sort of way and turned back around so he was facing the piano. And then he moved to the side, giving me room to sit beside him as I approached.

I glanced around. There were some students around, but they were too wrapped up in their own conversations to notice us. So I sat.

“Do you know how to play?” he asked. I was just sitting there, staring at the white and black keys before me. “You don’t have to look so terrified; it won’t bite you.” He took one of my hands and arranged my fingers over some keys. “Just try playing some scales.”

I pounded down, and a horrible combination of sour notes sounded. He let go of my hand, and I leaned back, blushing. “Sorry,” I muttered.

“You’re not a very subtle person, are you Rin?” He didn’t say it meanly, but he still looked like he was trying not to laugh.

The door opened, and I hunched my shoulders.

“Good morning, Ritchie.”

I looked up to see the choir director, Mr. Kais. He was a bit older, probably mid-thirties, not that he had ever told me. He was a great director, but he often looked tired, and his brown hair was starting to get grey patches.

Ritchie stood up from the piano bench and followed Mr. Kais to his office. They both disappeared inside, closing the heavy, soundproof door behind them. I sighed and fell forward, letting my forehead hit some piano keys. Surprisingly, it sounded better than when I had been trying.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Excerpt from Fortissimo

Hey! How's NaNoWriMo going for everyone? I'm well-past my goal for the day but I plan to keep going! I just thought I'd pop in and post a scene I've written that I had in my head for a long time before NaNo actually started :D


Skate City was completely crowded as Noelle pulled me by my wrist into the facility. Not that I didn’t expect it to be, being a Saturday and everything, but with my luck, I’d probably crash into someone in the skating rink and make a situation that was incredibly awkward. I’d had plenty of those in the few weeks school had been in session; I didn’t need them with random strangers.

“Oh we’re not going skating right away,” Noelle said. When I looked at her like I thought she was insane, she smiled and continued. “Keith, Aurora, Gus and one of Aurora’s friends are supposed to be here. We’re all going to play laser tag!”

I cringed at the thought. It’s not that I didn’t want to play laser tag; I’d done it a few times before and had a pretty good time of it. But the thought of being in a dark room with Keith? Fucking terrifying if you asked me. I didn’t think he was going to rape me or anything, but well…

“Oh, there they are!” Noelle exclaimed, and she tugged on my arm, signaling me to keep going. She hadn’t let go of my arm since we had gotten there, and I had a feeling that she wouldn’t anytime soon. This was the kind of situation she probably thought I would run away from if I was given the chance, and to tell the truth, it was.

I don’t know why I was surprised that Keith wasn’t wearing one of his Hawaiian shirts; I’d seen him outside of choir class a few times and he wasn’t, and he also wasn’t the times we had seen each other the summer before. In a way I was curious about why he wore them, but at the same time, I had a hard time forming coherent sentences every time he smiled at me. Not that I thought I had a chance, considering he was pretty much going out with Aurora at that point.

“I’ve never played laser tag before!” Gus said as we headed over towards the arena, where there was a booth to check in at. There was a guy about our age sitting there, looking bored, but he smiled and looked quite a bit more entertained as Noelle leaned forward and gave him the details of our reservation.

Keith glanced at me as Noelle flirted shamelessly with the guy, but neither of us said anything. I knew that a lot of people thought Noelle and I were going out, and I had learned it was best to just not say anything. It wasn’t like I was making an effort to let people know I was gay, anyway.

Finally Noelle was done being, well, Noelle, and the guy got up from his chair and signaled for us to follow him. The lights were still on in the arena, but I could see strips of lights along the floor and ceiling that would be helping us find our way around once the game began.

“How do you wanna do this?” the guy asked of us as he pulled out some huge drawers with laser guns and parkas. “You can have it be a free-for-all or teams, whatever you want.”

Aurora started jumping up and down, clapping her hands together. “We brought Aria so we could have even teams!”

I was really dreading what she meant by ‘even teams,’ but Aria grinned and high-fived Noelle as everyone started shuffling themselves around. It appeared that it would be me, Gus and Keith against Aurora, Noelle and Aria. This would end spectacularly or in tears for all involved, I just knew it.

“Well don’t look so happy about this,” Keith said as he was handed his equipment. He slipped the laser-detection parka on.

I shook my head and quickly put my own equipment on, setting the gun down on the floor so I could have both hands free. Gus already had his ready, but he was kind of tipping to the side since the equipment was so heavy. The girls giggled as they watched him, and Aurora caught him before he actually fell on the floor. “I’m fine,” I finally said.

“Is he always this… cute?” Keith whispered it to me, leaning in close so the guy explaining the rules to us (rules we all already knew but that he was probably required to recite every time someone used the arena) wouldn’t get mad and snap at us. I could feel my face getting hot at the close proximity, but I managed to fight it down.

“It’s not like he does all this on purpose,” I said. “It’s just how he is. And since when would another guy call Gus ‘cute’?”

Keith leaned away and shook his head, smiling. “I’ve called you cute, haven’t I?”

He patted me on the back before following everyone else deeper into the arena. We were all supposed to find our own places to camp out until the lights went out and the game began, though, so I stayed where I was.

After about two minutes, I saw the guy climb some stairs and go up into a room with a glass front that he could see us out of. “You ready kids?” he said, his voice coming out of the speakers around us. Like he had any right to call us kids. No one responded, though, considering we were supposed to be in stealth mode, and he took that as meaning it was time to turn off the lights.

As soon as they went off, I heard a high-pitched scream. I couldn’t tell who it was, but it sounded like one of the girls. I shook my head and tossed my laser gun from one hand to another, trying to figure out what I wanted to do first. We had twenty minutes, and the score for each team would be by how many times they could get members of the other team; there wasn’t a set number of times before we were completely out of the game.

I ended up just wandering around, not encountering anybody. I heard them once in a while, usually swears when someone had shot someone else and frozen them for a few seconds.

“Gotcha!” came a voice, and I screamed and ducked out of the way just as I heard the click of a laser gun being fired. Apparently I had avoided it, because my parka wasn’t vibrating.

I turned around to see it was Aria. I narrowed my eyes and held up my gun, shooting it off just before she got the chance to run. “You were saying?” I said. I could barely see it, but I knew Aria was scowling as she just stood there, waiting for her frozen time to be over. I couldn’t see anyone in the immediate vicinity, but I still took the free time to get out of there before Aria’s gun activated again.

Another few minutes of wandering yielded me coming across Gus, who had been
shot by Noelle, or at least that’s what he told me.

“I heard her voice, but I never saw her.” He sounded horrified at the thought, like Noelle was a ninja and he had gotten hit by shuriken. Of course, for Gus, that kind of situation would be cooler than he could handle, if I knew him well enough. Just as I was about to abandon Gus for my own safety, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I practically jumped out of my own skin and reared around, getting my gun ready to shoot.

“Rin, it’s just me,” Keith said right in my ear. Why he felt the need to whisper in the my ear so much was something I didn’t want to think about. So I just scowled and pushed him away.

“The hell you think you’re doing, sneaking around like that? I could’ve shot you!” I said.

“Uh, Rin, we’re kind of supposed to be sneaking around. You know, we don’t get shot, but we shoot them. That’s the point.” Keith patted me on the shoulder and started to run off again. “Anyway, we shouldn’t all be in the same place; it’ll make it easier for them to get us.” He patted me on the shoulder, and it was too dark to see, but I just knew he was smiling again. “I’ll see you in about thirteen minutes, Rin!”

Gus’ park had finally stopped vibrating, which means that he wasn’t frozen anymore. I pointed him off in one direction of the maze of walls we were in, and he nodded enthusiastically and went on his way.

“Got you!” It was Aria again, and it seemed like she hadn’t learned from last time. I ran for my life, avoiding her gun’s range every time she shot by ducking or veering right or left. We ended up running through the entire facility a few times, because Aria just didn’t want to give up in getting me frozen. What the hell did she have against me in the first place?

Finally, we got to the front, where there was a big, open space. I still managed to jump around and avoid when she shot at me, even when Keith emerged from one of the entrances into the maze and stared at us.

“Who the hell do you think you are, Vash the Stampede?” he asked, looking partly amused and partly confused.

I stopped right where I was. “Who?” And just like that, I was shot. My parka vibrated and my gun was useless when I tried to use it. Keith smacked his forehead, and Aria took his distraction as an opportunity to shoot him as well.

“Well, so much for making up for Gus being shot right away,” he said. The open area was lit a little better than the corridors of the maze, so I could see him smile this time. I nodded, not sure what else to do.

Finally, our freeze time was over. Keith glanced around, but it didn’t seem like any of the girls were in the immediate vicinity. Aria had run off after exacting her revenge on me, so had probably lost interest and gone off in search of Gus so that she had a three-for-three record. I had no idea how many times the girls had been shot, but I was determined to even the score.

“Rin, get out of the way,” Keith said calmly.

I blinked a couple times, and he ended up pushing me out of the way and shooting his gun. I turned to see Noelle scowling as she stared at her gun, which was temporarily useless since Keith had gotten her.

“I think we should get out of here,” Keith said. All I could do was nod in agreement.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fortissimo drabble 20

And here's the final drabble for Fortissimo. NaNoWriMo starts in three and a half hours for me, so I'll be writing for the actual novel! Hope all of you reading this have fun with NaNo, and I'll be keeping this blog updated on my progress :)

Drabble 20

Gus stayed with me the night after the first day of school. I’d only known him about a year, but I never argued and neither did my father. If there was one obvious thing about Gus, it was that he wasn’t interested in sex.

“Noelle, can we go see Rin?” Gus asked as he flopped over on my bed. He was already dressed for bed, but I wouldn’t put it past him to run across the street in his oversized footie pajamas. He got up, too, but I stopped him.

“I’ll call him and see if he wants to come over,” I said. Gus fell back over with no protest.

“Yeah?”

I rose my eyebrows and stared at the phone. Rin sounded out of breath, and there was a lot of shuffling going on.

“Rin, were you… busy?” I asked, feeling kind of awkward.

There was a long silence before Rin said, “I’d rather not talk about it.”

“If you were… releasing some tension, I can call back later,” I said quickly.

There was a long silence.

“I don’t think I can look you in the eye right now, anyway,” he said, and hung up.

“Is Rin coming over?” Gus asked as he bounced on my bed.

“He’s busy.”

“That’s Mom’s word for when she’s having sex,” he said.

I clamped my mouth shut. Gus knew about sex, but masturbation seemed like it was going too far. So I clapped my hands together and said, “Let’s watch a movie!”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fortissimo drabble 19

For our final few hours of freedom, Noelle wanted to meet with Aurora and Keith. I felt awkward around them since the day we visited Keith while he was sick; Aurora had acted so caring that I couldn’t help but feel like there was something going on there. I felt like I had been intruding.

“So why are we meeting them at the Salvation Army?” I said, staring up at the old building. Mostly I saw older people going in and out, with the occasional family with five or more kids trailing behind.

“Hey, don’t diss the Salvation Army,” Noelle said. She poked the tip of my nose before turning back to the building. Her face lit up. “Aurora! Keith!”

Keith jumped in surprise and just watched as Aurora let go of his upper arm and came over to see us. He looked uncomfortable, making it obvious that at least he hadn’t been expecting us.

I went over to him, ignoring Aurora and Noelle as they talked so fast I could hardly understand them. “Getting some last-minute school shopping done?” I said. I glanced down at the bag he was holding. I couldn’t see what was inside, though, so I met his eyes again.

“Yeah, she tends to drag me along without my permission,” he said.

I looked back at my two friends. “No wonder they get along so well. They’re different versions of the same person.” I shook my head and stepped a bit closer to Keith.

“What?” he asked, sounding caught off-guard.

“The thought of two Noelles terrifies me.”

The girls burst into laughter and waved at us, saying something about going to McDonald’s.

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” Keith was smiling in a joking way, and he bowed with a flourish.

“I’m not a damsel in distress,” I muttered, starting off after the girls.

I glanced back at Keith, who smiled in a more sincere way and said, “My mistake.”

Fortissimo Drabble 18

Noelle sneezed after flopping over on an old mattress up in the attic. “Someone needs to clean up here,” she said, sounding congested. She grabbed a dusty broom from the wall, tearing apart cobwebs in the process.

“We’re just here to find my backpack, Noelle,” I said, taking the broom from her and putting it aside.

“Why did you wait until the day before school starts to do this?” she said.

“I was too busy being bugged by a psycho fangirl who thinks I need a boyfriend.”

“What?”

“What?”

I tried to pull a box out of one of the piles without disturbing the rest. It didn’t work. “Shit!” I said as a particularly heavy one fell on my foot, with only the thin layer of my sock between them. I jumped back and sat down, holding my injured foot. The sudden movement threw the box on its side, and the contents spilled out.

I stared at the old issues of Playgirl laying there on the stained floor. Noelle was frozen in her spot, so I did the only thing I could think to do. “Well, that happened,” I said, and I kicked the magazines under a low table.

Fortissimo drabble 17

“What happened to your boyfriend?” a voice asked. I was sitting in the middle of the field hockey field, just staring up at the slate-grey sky. The season, my final high school sports season, was over, and I was feeling kind of sad.

I looked up to see it was Terry, the field hockey team manager. It wasn’t even below freezing but he was bundled up in a long, fleece coat, knit hat and flannel scar. He had his hands stuffed in his pockets, so I couldn’t tell if he was wearing gloves.

“No boyfriend. Aurora Monroe is a free spirit,” I said. I laid back on the grass, only slightly shivering because it had frosted-over the last few days.

“He broke up with you?”

I sat up and stared at Terry, making it clear that I had no idea who he was talking about.

“That guy, Keith. I thought you two were together.”

“Oh! No. Never. He’s incredibly gay.”

Terry smiled at that, and he actually sat down beside me on the grass. “Sorry it didn’t work out.”

“It worked out for Keith, in the end,” I said. I glanced over to the path that lead from the school to the various sports fields. Rin and Keith were supposed to be meeting me, actually, but I didn’t see either of them. “Hey. You feel like going out for smoothies?”

Terry looked so incredibly surprised at the suggestion, and then he sat up. “You sure?” he said in a voice like I had just asked him to elope with me in Vegas.

I patted him on the back and said, “It’s just smoothies, dude.”

This is Rin



He's not normally so chibi, but he IS normally this adorable.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

250 Words blog fest

Yet another attempt to link up with other people via a mass blogging experiment/blogfest/thingy. This time, the challenge is to post the first 250 words of your story. Details (and a list of links to other blogs doing it) can be found here.

So, here's the first 250 words on my novel in progress, Memories. Although yeah, I'm probably gonna rewrite it because it's rather bleck, but whatever.


I’m going blind.

That’s what the optometrist says, anyway. For the last two years my vision has been getting progressively worse. He can never figure out why, mostly because he wouldn’t believe the reason if I told him. He just knows it’s happening.

I’m not… too worried. After all, without my glasses I can still see clearly, about an inch in front of my face. The doctor said that at the rate it was going, it would probably be a few years.

Of course, this is the part I’m not sure about. I’m going blind because of one of my abilities: I can see the future. But I can’t seem to see a future where I go completely blind.

This might, of course, just be some kind of cruel irony.

In the mean time, I spent most of my time being a normal eighteen-year-old guy. I even had a job at the bookstore in my local mall. Because when your vision is getting progressively worse, being surrounded by books with small text is obviously the best choice in life.

Then again, I still had my sight. The prospect of blindness maybe hadn’t hit me as hard as it should have at that point.

“Afternoon, Arthur!” the girl at the front counter called. I didn’t talk to my coworkers a lot. Most of them were college students who took the job because they thought it would be easy. Who in the world reads books, after all?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fortissimo drabble 16

Fortissimo drabble 16

Mom and Dad knew I was having someone over for supper. When I told them the previous night, they seemed to assume it was a girl. Mom asked me if Aurora and I finally got together. All I could do was smile and shake my head.

“You sure they’re gonna be okay with this?” Rin asked. He sat beside me on the floor. He kept trying to lean into my side, but I moved around too much as I shot zombies on TV.

“Sure, you know my dad’s cool,” I said.

“The deepest conversations we’ve had involved me choosing glasses frames.” He adjusted said glasses.

I paused my game and leaned over. Then I took his glasses off and kissed him as I put them aside.

“Hoping to recreate Halloween?” he asked against my lips.

“I kind of like you better sober,” I said.

The door opened as we kept kissing, and neither of us bothered to turn and see. “Keith?”

Rin was the one to pull away, and he put his glasses back on.

“Hey, Dr. Bowers,” he said. He was trying to sound casual, but his face was beat-red.

“Hi, Rin.” He smiled before nodding outside. Mom was getting groceries out of the car. “Could you help her with that, Keith?”

I was hesitant to leave Rin alone, but I still nodded and got up. “You gonna be okay?” I asked close to his ear.

“Maybe I should just follow you.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Fortissimo drabble 15

Fortissimo drabble 15

I finally approached Mr. Kais on October fifteenth. Aurora had field hockey practice, and Mr. Kais pulled an uncharacteristic move by staying after school instead of heading right to his music store. So instead of watching the girls run up and down the field, whacking each other with their sticks, I headed for the choir room.

Ritchie was in there playing the piano. Mr. Kais was sitting on the hardwood floor. He had a ton of paperwork spread before him, but instead of writing, he just sat there, his eyes closed. Ritchie stopped playing for a split second as he looked back at me. This was enough to make Mr. Kais look up.

“Forget something, Keith?” he said. I shook my head, and he un-hunched as I walked over to him.

“Could I talk to you for a minute?”

Ritchie suddenly stood up. “I have to get going; I was supposed to be over at Lydia’s daycare by now.” He gave us a smile as he left, leaving the piano covered in sheet music from choir and honor choir.

I looked over to Mr. Kais. He seemed to be debating whether to stand up or not. “Mr. Kais, are you two…”

He took his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose. “That’s not why you came here, is it?”

“No.” I had been thinking about how to word it since I heard him saying that morning that he’d be staying later than usual. “I… like this guy, and my friend says he doesn’t even know I’m gay. She says I need to be officially out.” I could hear the quotation marks in my own voice at those last two words. “And well, you know I’m gay, as well as everyone who was in the GSA last year.”

Mr. Kais put his glasses back on, his eyes showing his concern. “Is that what you want?”

“I do really like Rin,” I said, only realizing I said his name after the fact. I ducked my head, trying not to blush. When I looked up, though, Mr. Kais was smiling.

“You could be after much worse guys,” he said.

I smiled and ducked my head again. “Yeah.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fortissimo drabble 14

Fortissimo drabble 14

Aurora showed up at my house at seven am on the first day of school. I had been planning to use my own car, but she seemed determined to drive into Ella Woods High in her light-blue convertible.

“Have you had breakfast yet, Aurora?” Mom asked from where she stood at the stove. If there was one thing Mom did best, it was make breakfast from scratch.

Aurora’s stomach answered for her with a loud growl, and she smiled sheepishly. “That’d be great, Mrs. Bowers.”

While Mom continued with that, I led Aurora into the living room. Mom eyed us, then smiled and flipped some pancakes.

“Does your mom know you’re gay?” Aurora said. Mom had put a bag of donut holes on the coffee table to hold us over, and she chose one covered in powdered sugar. “I mean, you don’t go announcing it, but it’s not like it’s a secret, either.”

The donuts didn’t seem all that appetizing since I was smelling the pancakes and bacon cooking, so I let her take all she wanted. “I don’t think so,” I said. “Then again, most people outside the GSA don’t.”

I could hear Mom humming along with the early-morning radio. She probably wasn’t even listening to us; she wasn’t the nosy kind of mother that you had to sneak around or whatever so she wouldn’t find out your deepest, darkest secret and then go tell her knitting club.

Aurora sighed and leaned back, licking the powdered sugar from her fingers. “So you’re basically closeted and you’re trying to attract the attention of a guy who is, for all intents and purposes, straight.” She said it deadpan, so I couldn’t tell what she was actually thinking.

“Pretty much.”

“Well then.” Aurora leaned forward again. “Want a donut?”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fortissimo drabble 13

Fortissimo drabble 13

I stood there outside the skating rink, leaning against the barrier. Noelle was beside me while Keith, Rin, Gus and Aria were on the rink. Rin was clearly not that good, but Keith didn’t seem to mind helping him stay on his feet. Rin kept saying something when Keith would catch him, but I was too far away most of the time to hear it.

“I find it funny that they didn’t become friends before this,” Noelle said. She was watching Rin and Keith as well, her arms folded over her chest. “We went skating a couple months ago and he wouldn’t let me near him if he lost his balance.”

Keith plucked Rin’s glasses right off his face and skated off, laughing like a madman. Rin swore loudly, causing some parents leading small children around to glare at him, and bolted after him. The combination of his bad vision and bad coordination caused him to crash into Aria, who screamed.

“Rin is groping her chest, isn’t he?” I asked.

“Not like he enjoys it.” Noelle skated around and joined them in the rink so she could help Rin and Aria up. Keith was already over there, though, taking Rin by the arm and saying something to Aria. Probably along the lines of ‘Chill the fuck out.’ Even with how far away I was, I could tell that Rin was blushing hard.

Eventually, Aria made her way over to me. “He groped me!” she said, sounding indignant.

I sighed and shook my head. “Not like he enjoyed it.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Drabble 12

Fortissimo drabble 12

Aurora came over after field hockey practice. Sometimes I wondered if she had any other friends, but she had to. I guess I just wasn’t used to having friends who would rather sit down on my couch and watch anime with me than whatever else they had in their life.

She was still dressed for field hockey, in her red shorts, white shirt, cleats and knee-high socks. Her blonde hair was high up in a ponytail, but strands of it were falling down. I had to admit, I could understand where the guys who joined choir for the chance to talk to her were coming from. Not like I wasn’t doing the same thing for Rin.

“So I was thinking,” Aurora said as she gulped down some of the smoothie she had gotten on our way over. “You’re doing nothing to really try to get Rin.”

I glanced at her from the DVD wrack. “It’s not like I can just turn to him during choir and say, ‘By the way, Rin, are you gay? I joined choir just to be with you.’” I gave her an exasperated look, but she just giggled.

“I thought we could all go down to Skate City,” she said, rocking forward and back. “I could reserve the laser tag arena for a sessions. Boys against girls.”

“Boys against…”

“You, Rin and Gus against me, Noelle and one of my friends.”

My eyes fell on the spine of Trigun, and I pulled it out. Aurora looked at me expectantly as I approached. So I said, “Sounds like fun.”

Drabbles 10, 11

Fortissimo drabble 10

I hadn’t been friends with Aurora for long, and I hadn’t even known Keith a month. Given that, I still found myself being dragged along the day after my birthday because Keith was sick. Aurora said it was my fault because he got it from me. Not like I made him be all touchy-feely while I was hacking up a lung.

Still, she had called last night and gotten my mother, who was ecstatic that I apparently had more than two friends to my name. She even made chicken noodle soup before work. A fancy degree in Community Health and she still swore by a good, homemade meal.

Aurora didn’t even knock, instead going in and calling out to Keith. No wonder she and Noelle got along so well.

“Hey, guys.” Keith was huddled there on the living room couch, wearing flannel pajamas and an afghan draped over his shoulders. It was close to ninety degrees outside, so I was roasting just looking at him.

“My mom made soup for you,” I said, taking the thermos out of my messenger bag. “She also said I should say sorry for making you sick.”

Keith sniffled a little, but he was smiling. “Don’t sweat it. It’s not like you gave me an STD, Rin.”

I knew I was blushing at that, but Keith had turned to tell Aurora where the bowls were, so he didn’t see it. Besides, it’s not like he was gay, right?



Fortissimo drabble 11

Rin wasn’t the first guy I had a crush on, but he was probably the least likely to call me a fag. I had a past of falling for jerks: the guy on the football team who was bitter about not making quarterback, the star of the school musical who punched my lights out for just asking if he was gay.

That second one was in choir, apparently, and on the first day, I found myself sitting in the bass section, sandwiched between him and Rin. They both kept stealing glances at my Hawaiian-print shirt. At one point they looked at the same time, noticed each other, and turned away. Rin was blushing, while Derek was scowling.

Finally, Mr. Kais ended rehearsal about ten minutes early. I noticed he was heading for the piano player, Ritchie, but he stopped and turned towards his office. He disappeared into it as Ritchie was surrounded by a gaggle of girls from the soprano section.

Noelle was behind me in the mass of students trying to put away their music folders. She had been watching this as well, but she said nothing. Sometimes I didn’t understand that girl.

“He’s a fag, you know,” Derek said when Noelle turned to him. “Runs that stupid Gay-Straight Alliance now.”

Noelle scowled, but before she could say anything, a folder met his head. “No one wants to listen to you deny your own homosexuality, Derek,” Rin said, sounding more bored than mad.

“And what about you?”

“What about me?” Rin adjusted his glasses and took Noelle by the arm, leading her away after putting his folder in its place.

I couldn’t help but smile as I watched him leave. Even if Rin wasn’t gay, he was pretty amazing.

Drabbles 7, 8, 9

Fortissimo drabble 7

I knew it was a long-shot that I’d recognize him, but the morning after Halloween, I entered school looking for that guy I had made-out with. We hadn’t gone all the way; he was drunk and I knew I’d feel guilty about it later. And maybe his proclamation about liking guys was just the punch. But what better way to get over one guy than to try for another?

“Hey, Noelle!” I called when I saw her sitting at a cafeteria table with Rin. She waved but didn’t take her eyes away from her friend.

“My head feels like someone drove a railroad spike through it,” Rin said as I sat down at the end of the table. The smell of artificial eggs and turkey sausage from the kitchen tempted me, but I had a feeling I wanted to hear this. “And I have a feeling I made a complete ass of myself.”

“Aw, Rin.” Noelle hugged him to her and I turned away. I’d seen more than enough of that. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad. You said HE wasn’t drunk, right?”

“That’s the point! I just… threw myself at him~” Rin let his head fall to the table, and Noelle frowned.

“I think he wants to be alone,” she whispered to me. She signaled for me to follow her, and we got about halfway to the kitchen before she turned to face me. “You’re gay, right?”

This was seemingly out of left field, so it took me a few seconds to respond. “Why yes, yes I am. Why does that matter?”

“What would you do if you got drunk and made out with some random guy?”

“That was Rin?” I said it before I could stop myself. Noelle stared at me. “I mean…”

“You took advantage of Rin when he was DRUNK?” she demanded. People were staring at us now, but fortunately, Rin was still busy banging his head on the table.

“He kissed me,” I said, not meeting her eyes. “I didn’t even know it was him. Hell, I didn’t even know he was gay!” I saw you two together last choir practice and…”

“Noelle clammed up at that, her brown eyes abandoning that hard glare she had directed at me. “Just talk to him. He’s a wreck, Keith.”


Fortissimo drabble 8

I’d gone to the beach with Rin tons of times in the past; it was actually our most frequent activity in the summer since before we were old enough to go there on our own and had to be accompanied by an adult or five. Because of this, I thought I had gotten to know how it would go: I would swim around, maybe get into a water fight with people that I knew. Rin would just sit there on a towel or blanket, listening to music and burning his skin cells to a nice, golden brown.

What I didn’t remember happening, though, was Rin staring off into space the entire time. Usually had some pretty nice conversations when I bothered to sit down with him.

“Rin? What’s up?” I said. His eyes were moving, now, and I finally figured it out: he wasn’t staring into space, he was staring at something. And when I looked, that something was… very male.

It was Ritchie, that guy who was supposed to be the choir piano player come Fall. He was walking out to the lake and picking up his daughter, who had been chasing the tide for a good half hour. It was also the guy I had seen kissing our choir director last Spring. Mind, I had never told anyone that.

“Rin? You are aware that’s a guy, right?” I said. Well it was rather clear, since he was just wearing swim trunks and a pair of flip-flops, but you never know.

“Yeah…”

“Rin, are you gay?”

“Yeah…” He stopped for a second and blinked. “What?”

“Are you gay?” I asked again.

Rin ducked his head, bringing his eyes away from Ritchie for the first time in what had to be at least an hour. I could see the blush on his face, though; I knew it wasn’t a sunburn.

“Oh my god, you are!” I said, standing up. I couldn’t stop myself and ended up clapping my hands, too, which got a few people staring at us. Rin turned laid down on his stomach and buried his face in his arms.

I sat down next to him and started rubbing his back. He was clearly embarrassed. “…sorry.”

Rin raised his head up enough so I could see his eyes. “It’s okay.”


Fortissimo drabble 9

I’d never been into the Salvation Army. It wasn’t that I was a clothing snob or anything, but I never felt the need for t-shirts at five for three dollars. Aurora dragged me in there on the last day of summer, though, saying I needed something outrageous to catch Rin’s attention.

“He’s kind of self-centered,” she had said.. “Or maybe dense. Unless you’re willing to just go up and confess your feelings, he’s not gonna get it. So at least get his attention first.”

I had come to understand that. When he had helped me after I was sick, I could tell he didn’t get it. When I smiled at him, or when I laid my head in his lap during Aladdin. Then again, he might have just been used to it, with how much I had seen Noelle sit on his lap, among other things.

“How do you feel about pink?” Aurora asked. She held up a shirt, baggy as I liked, but it looked like it had been colored by a highlighter. I shook my head, and she put the thing back on its wrack.

“Oh my god, Hawaiian print!” Aurora was laughing her ass off at this point, and she took a tacky-looking Hawaiian-print, button-up shirt off the wrack. Despite how funny she seemed to think it was, I took it from her.

“This could work.”

More Fortissimo drabbles

Yes, I said these would all get their own post but I've done so many... I'll be posting them a few at a time to catch up XD Enjoy


Fortissimo drabble 4

Melody giggled as the bag of flour exploded in her face when she tried to pour some into the bowl. Aurora was laughing right along with her, despite the fact that the pizza they had so carefully been constructing up to that point was kind of ruined, and we didn’t have any more flour in the house.

“Hey Keith!” Melody called as Aurora went for some washcloths to clean up the mess. “Could you call up the House of Pizza? You know what I want.”

I did know what she wanted, mostly because both our parents worked so summer usually meant we ordered-in since neither of us could cook. Apparently Aurora could, but our bad kitchen skills were rubbing off on her at this point.

“Is Aurora your girlfriend?” Melody asked. She had come in while I was ordering and was there at the foot of the stairs. Her clothes were still covered in wheat flour, so she probably intended to change.

Aurora flopped down on the couch beside me, and a small puff of flour rose from her clothes. “He’s gay, dear, I don’t have the right equipment.”

Melody frowned and went upstairs without a word.

“My family’s not really involved in my love life so they tend to uh… do that.” I waved in Melody’s general direction and smiled sheepishly.

“Heh,” was all Aurora said for about a minute. “But you have someone you’re interested in, don’t you?”

I eyed her. “How can you tell?”

“Woman’s intuition, my dear,” she said. Then she turned over so she was on her side and looking at me. “Do I know him?”

I shrugged and picked my cell phone up off the coffee table so I could toss it between my hands. “Yeah, I guess. It doesn’t really matter, though, unless I find out he’s gay, too.”

Aurora and I were silent after that for the full time that Melody came downstairs to check if the pizza had come. She took our silence as a no and I could soon hear the shower going.

Finally, seeing that Aurora wasn’t going to say anything, I got up the nerve and asked, “Aurora, do you think Rin’s gay?”

“We can hope, right?” She gave me a smile before turning to sit upright again, another puff of flour left in her wake. “Meanwhile, you think your mother will forgive me for dirtying up her sofa?”

“She’ll get over it.”

Fortissimo drabble 5

I saw Mr. Kais go outside with that guy after he dropped off his daughter. I still didn’t know who he was, though some other people were saying that the guy was going to replace Roberta since she was retiring and wouldn’t be our piano player come next year.

I was curious, though, so I said something vague to Rin about having to get some fresh air and followed them outside. Finally, I found them around the corner of the building, and Mr. Kais was saying something.

“Ritchie, I doubt that would be… appropriate,” he said. So the guy’s name was Ritchie? Good to know.

“I’m not implying anything, Mr. Kais,” Ritchie said, leaning against the side of the building.

“You can call me Ben, you know. You’re not a teenager anymore.”

Ritchie smiled at that and closed his eyes. “No I’m not,” he said. “I was serious when I said I had a crush on you when I was still in school.” He looked over to Mr. Kais at that, looking like he was expecting something. I gasped involuntarily, and then I disappeared around the corner in case they had heard me.

“Yes, and I don’t think it would’ve been good on my faculty review for the first few years of my career to involve a student relationship,” Mr. Kais said.

“What about a coworker relationship?”

I was blushing by now, but I was trying to keep quiet. Rin had been staring at Ritchie for so long, and I knew he was gay so it didn’t take much to guess that he had a crush. But Ritchie quite obviously had his sights set on someone else.

“Not like I know whether you’re gay or not,” Ritchie went on. “Even when you started the GSA, you never mentioned it.”

“My sexuality isn’t something to discuss with my students.” Mr. Kais was sounding even more uptight than he usually did. He was guarding himself, like he thought that Ritchie would get something out of him that he didn’t like.

Ritchie laughed, softly, but nothing was said. I dared to turn the corner and look.

They were kissing.

I couldn’t help myself at that; I screamed, and they jumped away from each other and looked over, but I was already backing away and running towards the door. It was almost time to warm-up, and Rin was bound to be wondering where I was. But, most of all, I just wanted to forget what I had seen.

“Noelle? Where’ve you been?” Rin asked.

I knew my face was still red, and I must’ve been breathing hard enough to sound like I had run a marathon. “Uh, nowhere.”


Fortissimo drabble 6

Aurora invited practically the entire school to her Halloween party, and Ella Woods being a small town, with Ella Woods High having in excess of four hundred students, I should have expected that they’d come. It was a masquerade, though, and so I didn’t recognize anyone. Aurora had greeted me at the door, but other than that, I was lost.

I don’t know what I hoped to accomplish by being there. I didn’t partake in the spiked punch, no matter how much I wanted to forget Rin. So I just stood there in a corner of the backyard, watching the world go by.

There was a guy, clearly drunk, stumbling nearby. Someone shoved him out of the way, and he fell against me. His face, or what I could see of it since he was wearing a mask like everyone else, was flush. He grinned up at me. “You’re kinda cute. Can I look under your mask?” He reached out for my mask, but I easily stopped him.

“You know I’m a guy, right?” I said. I helped him turn around so he was facing me, but he fell against me and nuzzled his face into my shoulder.

“I liked guys,” he murmured. “I’ve never kissed one, though.” He reached up and pressed his lips to mine. I could taste the alcohol on his breath but not the fruit punch; someone obviously didn’t know how to be subtle. Even though this guy was drunk off his ass, I couldn’t bring myself to push him away. Our tongues met, and his hand crept down to around my waist, brushing a little lower. I jumped in surprise, and suddenly became aware of my surroundings again. No one was watching us, but I still pushed him away.

“Aw, you don’t like me?” He was pouting.

I glanced around. Aurora had said since I was her friend, I could go inside if I wanted to, but most of the other guests were restricted to the spacious backyard. “Come on,” I said, leaning in to say it in his ear. I took one hand so I could guide him. “We can go somewhere more private.”

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fortissimo Drabbles

I've actually been posting these over on my Tumblr (which can be found here, but I thought, since this is my writing blog, I should post them here, too :) Since I already have a few out, I'm going to put them all in one post and then any others I write will have their own. These are just drabbles (VERY short stories) centering around my NaNoWriMo 2010 novel Fortissimo, and so far I've been using them to explain some background things for it :) Enjoy.


Fortissimo drabble

A spoon never seemed so heavy. I hated, hate, liquid medicine but I was sick and that was all we had in the house. Mom had to work for the first time in a month, so she said she’d come back after work with some liquid capsules or something.

“Riiiiiin!” That sing-song voice could only be Noelle, already in the house without even knocking on the door. I heard more footsteps than hers, though, and so I chugged the medicine and grabbed some paper towels I could gag into in case any of it came back up.

I managed to not throw up, though, which was good considering Noelle was bringing in two people I didn’t know, and it would’ve been kind of bad if they thought I was throwing up at their mere presence.

One was a girl with long blond hair and blue eyes. It was summer, so she was wearing the least-modest thing she probably thought she could get away with, meaning really short cut-off jeans and a belly-baring tank. She was dragging along the second person I didn’t know, but I didn’t get a good look at him before Noelle descended on me not unlike a vulture.

“I brought ice cream!” she said with a huge smile on her face, holding up a grocery store bag. I could barely make out the label on the tub. It was just plain old boring vanilla, but just the thought of trying to eat at all, ever made me queasy. I ended up running to the bathroom and making it just in time to hurl into the toilet.

Well, there went my medicine.

As I sat back from the toilet, I sighed and unbuttoned my pajama top. Even though I was a guy, I had always felt the need to be fully clothed even when it came to my night clothes. I was way too hot and sweaty to care about that, though.

“You gonna be okay?”

I jumped in surprise and looked to see Mystery Guy was there in the doorway, leaning in and looking concerned. I glanced around, but Noelle and her other friend were nowhere to be found.

“Yeah I… I guess I just have a stomach virus or something.” I tried to stand up, but the sudden rush made me dizzy and I started falling back. Mystery Guy caught my hand, and I ended up awkwardly leaning there in midair.

“I’m Keith, by the way. Keith Bowers. You may know my father.”

“The optometrist, right? We’ve met.” Understatement, considering I’d had horrible vision for years. I let Keith pull me to my feet, but I still felt dizzy so I didn’t protest when he steadied me by putting an arm around my waist. “I’m Rin, but I’m sure Noelle already told you that.”

Keith smiled, but before he could answer, Noelle was upon us. “Rin, you should go lay down! I’ll put in a movie.” She glanced between us and seemed to find Keith’s handling of the situation fine, because she went on her way.

“What movie did she get?” I asked.

“I dunno, but it has a giant pair of lips on the cover.”

Yeah, that figured.



Fortissimo drabble 2

My birthday is on August seventh. I used to hate the fact that my birthday was in the summer, because in elementary school, they always gave out candy to kids on their birthday. Once I hit junior high, though, I figured out it was better this way. There was a bitch of a teacher who liked to patrol the lunchroom and she’d single you out and make everyone sing happy birthday to you. As if I needed another reason for people to stare at me.

This particular birthday, I was turning sixteen. Both my parent had to work, but they promised they’d come home with a cake and let me have my presents. I had found them a week ago, but I wasn’t going to tell them that.

Noelle was otherwise occupied, so I was mostly just sitting in the kitchen, blasting my mother’s boom box and singing along because nobody could hear me. I’d been in choir all my life and was pretty much used to singing in a crowd, but I’d never gone for solos. I just… got nervous when someone listened to me sing on my own, even though the choir director, Mr. Kais, swears I had an awesome voice. I kind of think he’s required to say that, though.

It was in the middle of All Star that I heard the mail dropping to the floor through the slot.

“Greeeeat, more junk mail,” I muttered as I shut the boom box off and headed over. There were the usual credit card
applications and store flyers, but the one actual piece of mail… seemed to be for me.

I got the envelope opener out of a drawer in the kitchen and sliced it open on top. There was a small note inside, written on a lime-green sticky note. It said, “Happy birthday.”

No return address, no name, nothing. There was something else, though: a silver necklace chain with a charm shaped like a bass clef on it. I eyed the thing as I took it out of the envelope and hung it in front of my face.

The phone suddenly rang, and I piled the necklace in my hand and went over to answer it. “Young residence, this is Rin.”

“Riiiiiiin.” Noelle, of course. “Me, Aurora and Keith are right outside your house. If you aren’t proper get that way so we can go out!”

I glanced out the window, and sure enough, Noelle, Aurora and Keith were standing there. Noelle had her cell phone to her ear and was waving her free arm in the air frantically until she saw me looking. I was already dressed, of course. Without thinking, I put the necklace on and headed out.



Fortissimo drabble 3

Our high school wasn’t big, but I was still amazed at how crowded it seemed in the choir room as Aurora led me in. At the last GSA meeting, she had insisted I go to the Spring choir concert since I had missed the winter one.

I had never even thought about choir before; it was one of those things I knew existed, but I never really thought it was for me. Aurora kept telling me it was awesome, though, and that evening came down to either going to the choir concert or ordering pizza and a movie with my little sister. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with that, but she was less likely to guilt-trip me for missing a session of Disney princess movies.

Aurora was waving to everyone like they were all the best of friends, but she stopped at one group in particular. One girl and two guys, with the girl sitting on the taller guy’s lap.

“Keith! This is Noelle, Rin, and Gus,” she introduced. Rin was the one with the occupied lap, but he was also the one that was staring behind us. When Noelle noticed this, she turned to look.

Rin had been staring at a man standing up front with a little girl in his arms. He was talking to another man, who Aurora had pointed out earlier as the choir director Mr. Kais. The first man looked young, probably not very far out of high school. Then again, if the girl was his daughter, I suppose looks can be deceiving.

Before I could say anything, Aurora was tugging me along to meet more people. “Is Noelle Rin’s girlfriend?” I found myself asking.

Aurora stopped for a moment and looked like she was considering this. “Nah, they’ve been friends forever. I can’t imagine either of them would make it out alive if they tried to form something romantic.” She smiled. “Seriously, since elementary school. I remember Noelle beat up this one guy for making fun of Rin on the playground. I’ve only become friends with them recently, though.”

Aurora had stopped to talk to more people, though she kept a firm grip on my arm so I couldn’t get away. That didn’t mean I couldn’t turn, though, and so I looked back at Rin. He was still staring at that man, and if I knew anything, I knew what that look meant.

“You’re joining choir next year, right?” Aurora nudged me, trying to make me take part in the conversation.

Rin finally turned away from the man and pushed Noelle off his lap. I smiled. “Yeah,” I said. “Could be fun.”

Writing Compelling Characters

Because I like to follow the cool crowd, I've decided to take part in The Great Blogging Experiment in which people post on one topic and we all see what different contributions everyone has :) As the title suggests, the topic is Writing Compelling Characters.

So. Characters. Personally, they're my favorite part of a book. Some people will read something and say they're a fan of it, but then go on to say how they hate everyone and their mother as far as the characters goes. Maybe this works for some people, but I don't get it!

I need to like characters to like a book. What's the point of sitting down and reading about their adventures if you can't root for them, after all? And for me, they don't necessarily need to be anything special. Me liking a character can be as simple as liking their characterization. If they start out as a Mean Girl and progress throughout the novel into a more sympathetic character, such as in Before I Fall, then I'm golden. I don't see the point of main characters that remain static throughout the book, I suppose. What's the point of the conflict if it doesn't change them for the better, at least a little bit?

Another thing I enjoy is quirkiness. To take another example, there's Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. In it, Cass, the older sister of the main character, Caitlin, runs off with her boyfriend and ends up working on a Jerry Springer-esque talk show as stage crew. One day, Caitlin watches a bit of the show and sees Cass by the side of the stage in one shot. She tells her mother, who becomes obsessed: every day she watches the show, hoping for a glimpse of Cass. It's this kind of small add-on to a story and its characters that makes me go, "Oh, cool!" and only wish I were that creative in my own storytelling.

I suppose that's it for my ramblings! Anyone out there care to add their own opinion?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My LGBT Bookshelf

I actually posted this earlier as a note on FaceBook, but I figured I’d put it on my blog as well, and maybe people who follow me would want to comment on it :P It’s just a list of all the LGBT books I have right now.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Love is never easy.  Especially if you're Paul.  He's a sophomore at a high school like no other--and these are his friends:

Infinite Darlene, the homecoming queen and star quarterback.

Joni, Paul's best friend who may not be his best friend anymore.

Tony, his other best friend who can't leave the house unless his parents think he's going on a date... with a girl.

Kyle, the ex-boyfriend who won't go away.

Rip, the school bookie, who sets the odds...

And Noah. The Boy.  The one who changes everything.

Love meets love.

Confusion meets clarity.

Boy meets boy.

Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan

A ten-year best friendship is put to the test when Chuck and Hal spend their first summer apart falling for two questionable mates: a sexy Saudi songstress and a smokin' hot French punk.  As Chuck heads off to summer theater camp and Hal stays in their hometown, learning how to drive, they keep in touch via blogging, reporting to each other about their suddenly separate lives and often ridiculous romantic entanglements.  As both their relationships take some unexpected turns, Hal and Chuck struggle to come to terms with their growing differences while trying to keep their friendship alive.

A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan

Cameron doesn't want to go to prom. Not with his boyfriend, Shane, and definitely not with his fake date, Virginia. Sure, it's senior prom, it's the end of high school, and Virginia's drop-dead gorgeous. But none of that matters to Cam, who's never liked any high school dance. Ever.

Then an unexpected kiss changes everything, and Cam needs to make a quick exit. After teaming up with a waiter who's been dealing drugs in the bathroom, Cam leaves the prom. But his night is far from over. From a high-speed car chase, to a stop at the after-prom party, to a bar with a wild dance contest...Cam's night finally ends in the most unlikely of romances.

Peter by Kate Walker

Pressured by his peers and society to conform to the stereotyped macho image, fifteen-year-old Peter feels both confused and repelled. His confusion and his horror increase when he finds himself attracted to his brother’s best friend, David, who is gay. Here is a daring, exceptionally honest novel about sexuality and the need to be true to oneself. Peter shares his every muddle and perception with us, and his candor just might help us find our own way.

Hero by Perry Moore

The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he’s been asked to join the League - the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he’s gay.

But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide; but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League.

To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagined. To find happiness, he’ll have to come to terms with his father’s past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

What happens when your two best friends fall in love...with each other?

"Their friendship went so far back, it bordered on the Biblical -- in the beginning, there was Nina and Avery and Mel." So says high school senior Nina Bermudez about herself and her two best friends, nicknamed "The Bermudez Triangle" by a jealous wannabe back on Nina's eleventh birthday. But the threesome faces their first separation when Nina goes away the summer before their senior year. And in ten short weeks, everything changes.

Nina returns home bursting with stories about Steve, the quirky yet adorable eco-warrior she fell for hard while away. But when she asks her best friends about their summer romances, an awkward silence follows.

Nina soon learns the shocking truth when she sees Mel and Avery...kissing. Their friendship is rocked by what feels like the ultimate challenge. But it's only the beginning of a sometimes painful, sometimes funny, always gripping journey as three girls discover who they are and what they really want.

Is He Or Isn't He? by John Hall

In the glittering world of New York City's richest and most famous prep school, best friends Paige and Anthony become equally entranced by the enigmatic, ever–so–cute new guy Max, but in order to snag him, they must first use their charms and wit to discover the truth–is he or isn't he?

David Inside Out by Lee Bantle

David Dahlgren, a high-school senior, finds solace in running with the track team; he’s a fast runner, and he enjoys the camaraderie. But team events become a source of tension when he develops a crush on one of his teammates, Sean. Scared to admit his feelings, David does everything he can to suppress them: he dates a girl, keeps his distance from his best friend who has become openly gay, and snaps a rubber band on his wrist every time he has “inappropriate” urges. Before long, Sean expresses the thoughts David has been trying to hide, and everything changes for the better. Or so it seems.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Speak Loudly

It started early this morning; my Twitter feed, which I have open by default since I use a browser plug-in for Google Chrome instead of the site itself, started having messages from my writer friends, agents I follow etc about the same thing: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a book about a young woman who was raped and refuses to speak out about it, was being equated with soft-core porn because of the two rape scenes in it. You can find details on the incident, along with a comprehensive list of other blog posts about it, here.

Rape is not pornography.  The brutal, sexual assault of a minor is not sexually arousing and the person that sees it as such is, as far as I’m concerned, a very sick individual.  Besides that fact, there are many, MANY books categorized as young adult that DO contain sex scenes, scenes between a boy and a girl, or a boy and a boy, or a girl and a girl, where they express their love.  Should those count as soft-core porn and be thrown in the banned-books bin because religious fanatics say so?

That, however, is neither here nor there.  The point of my post is that Speak, and other books about serious issues such as 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher (a book that deals with suicide) or Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (a book that deals with physical abuse) would be banned, and those who could seek solace in books that let them know they’re not alone would never get that chance.

And that is why banning books sucks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010!

So I've decided on what I'm doing for National Novel Writing Month this year! And I thought I'd just use this blog instead of making a separate novel blog like I did for AL. I already wrote out a pretty good character description list in a topic on the NaNo forums, so I thought I'd post it here as kind of a preview for my upcoming novel, Fortissimo.

Rin Young- the POV character. He's been in choir all his life and is gay, but has only ever come out to one person because he thinks he's socially awkward enough. He is a pretty awkward person, and the fact that he's somewhat tall and really gangly doesn't help his self-esteem. However, he is extremely comfortable around his friends; it's just strangers that make him like that. He's a junior.
Keith Bowers- the love interest. Wears Hawaiian-print shirts in choir to catch Rin's attention (Rin doesn't know that's the reason) even though Keith doesn't know he's gay. His father is an optometrist, which is the excuse Keith uses to meet up with Rin sometimes (Dr. Bowers is Rin's optometrist). Is somewhat friends with Aurora at first because he attended GSA meetings the previous year. Also a junior.
Benjamin Kais- He's the choir director, a man in his mid-thirties that has been working at the school for ten years. After school he co-manages a music store with his younger sister. He also founded the school's chapter of Gay-Straight Alliance, though he doesn't seem to date so his own sexuality is a mystery (to most people).
Catalina Kais- Mr. Kais' younger sister, working on her doctorate in creative writing. She co-manages the music store with her older brother, though thinks it's a shame that he gave up being the supervisor for the GSA just so he could work there. A bit eccentric.

And the rest don't have last names yet...

Noelle- She's been Rin's best friend for years, helped by the fact that she lives across the street from him and would often spend the night when she was younger and her father worked late. She's the only one that knows Rin's gay at the start of the story. She's also a senior and hoping to get into Juilliard for vocals, despite the fact that she gets homesick just thinking about it.
Aurora- She's more Noelle's friend, but she warms up to the rest, particularly to Rin when she finds out he's gay because she's an active member of their high school's Gay-Straight Alliance. She also likes to paint his nails during the study hall they share every other day. Also a senior.
Gus- A sophomore in the tenor section who immediately latched onto Rin's group of friends the previous year. Despite his broken home life (his parents are divorced and his mother either ignores him or doesn't know how to deal with him) he's usually in quite high spirits and has been known to launch himself through the air instead of walking.
Ritchie- The piano player for the choir and fresh out of college. He's the current staff supervisor for the GSA and is known to be gay, despite the fact that he has a young daughter. His relationship with Mr. Kais is the subject of a lot of gossip (mostly between female students). Rin had a crush on him ever since they met the previous spring, though Ritchie ends up shooting him down because he apparently "likes older men."
Lydia- Ritchie's four-year-old daughter. He is her daughter by blood, though all Ritchie will say of her was that "college was a crazy time." Her mother left her under Ritchie's care at a very young age, though she doesn't seem to mind.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Meanwhile… back at the ranch…

Sent out to a few more agents, but only heard back from (aka been rejected by) one of them, so I’m still waiting on two right now. I’ll probably send out to a few more in the next couple days whether or not I get my responses.

Mostly I haven’t posted here in a few days because I’m back in college :) Well I only got back here on Tuesday, but I’m here. I had my first two classes (Recent American Poetry and Elementary Spanish I) on Wednesday, and I feel like it’ll be a good year :)

In other news, I plan to do some EXTREME WRITING with my long weekend so I can get my newest project past the 10k mark and see if it’s really worth it to continue. It’s one of those “humorous” stories I’ve been wanting to write for so long. The Young Adult genre needs more laughs, especially as far as the LGBT section is concerned. As Joker would say “Why so serious?”

I suppose that’s all for now. So, in closing, any lit nerds reading this can have a good laugh:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The queries have been sent…

And I’ve got my first rejection (from my top pick agent, no less!) Oh well, right?  As Dori would say, just keep swimming.  I’ll keep querying for Artistic License.

I’ve also decided to get Memories finished up by the end of the year so I can edit it and make it my next querying novel.  Between the two, I’m sure I’ll find SOMEONE who’s interested, right? :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Inspiration comes in the weirdest places

I was editing Artistic License the other day, but I decided to take a break.  I’ve been playing a few video games on and off lately, one of which is Hotel Dusk: Room 215.  I realized two things after a while.

1: Cameron’s last name, Nile, came from the crime syndicate Nile in the game.

2: In AL, a bucket of white paint is thrown over Cameron’s painting for revenge.  In Hotel Dusk, a bucket of white paint is thrown over an important painting, though it’s by the person who made it in the first place.

These two things are rather small, but it seemed weird when I realized it.  I wasn’t even thinking about it in either case!  I made these two things from one of my favorite video games into my own, and I think that’s what I like about writing. Even when you take elements from another work of fiction, it’s different with each person that’s writing.

But on that note, there’s only about a week until I start submitting this thing I call a book, so I should probably get back to editing it.  Wanna make it hard for them to say no, after all!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In a little over a week

I’ll be starting submission for Artistic License.  I’ve made a promise with two of my friends that we’d all start querying come August, and it is getting closer and closer with each passing day (funny how that works, huh?).  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  Even though I’ve been posting my writing on the internet for ages, and I’ve been thinking about publishing for at least half as long, I’ve never actually buckled down and sent my novels in for that almost inevitable rejection that is bound to come.

And maybe I’ll cry, maybe I’ll be mad that they didn’t think I was good enough.  But at least I can say I tried.  Right?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Differences, I guess

It’s homecoming week in my town. Lincoln, Maine does not celebrate the Fourth of July like every other town; when we have fireworks, it’s for homecoming. I guess that’s just one difference between myself and other people when it comes to how we grew up.

I base my stories in Maine and use my experience growing up in a small Maine town to make the characters authentic. If that means people think they talk weird or want to know why they say ‘supper’ instead of dinner, or why they’re not wearing a coat when it’s fifty degrees out (fifty degrees isn’t cold, Florida!) then that’s just how it’ll have to be. Though admittedly, I haven’t gotten as many questions on my actual stories as I have on myself.

But that’s mostly because people are unaware that their way of life isn’t how everyone lives. This isn’t all that good for a writer. Why write, something that requires you to be aware of the world and maybe even do a LOT of research, when you’re so close-minded? Back when I was still active on inkpop, I got plenty of comments on my stories from other writers saying they couldn’t read them because they were about gay kids. What’s the point? If you’re going to at least try to make your life as a writer, you won’t make it very far if you refuse to acknowledge other ways of life exist.

Actually, continue on the way you’re going. I could always use a good laugh.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where My Life Is Going

I realized something Saturday after my mother told me a very interesting piece of information.  That interesting piece of information was that a former friend of mine and her boyfriend had gone into the town office, where my mother works, to get a marriage license.  Now I don’t really give a crap about this former friend because she’s just that: a former friend.  We stopped talking years ago and she’s never made the attempt to get back in touch with me.  But when it comes down to it, the story behind why Becka and I aren’t friends anymore is a whole different story.

Anyway, what it made me realize is this: I’m growing up.  The people that I went to school with are getting jobs, getting married.  Hell, I’ll even be twenty in a little over a month from now.  The difference between me and Becka?  Whereas she’s apparently ready to settle down with a husband and be content with her life, I’m not.  I haven’t had a boyfriend since my junior year of high school.  In August, I’ll be submitting my query letter to agents all over the US and hope that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to make it big and live my life like I want: make my money off writing, and probably live alone in an apartment with high-speed internet and the latest copy of MSWord to keep me company.

What does that mean for me?

Well, when I graduated and they wrote up the “class prophecy” with where they thought everyone would be in ten years, they said I’d be a housewife who had made a name for myself writing children’s picture books.  I guess, at this point, I’m determined to prove them wrong :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Weekend plans

I thought about seeing The Last Airbender this weekend (if my mother will bring me to the movies; the closest theater to our town is forty minutes away).  But then I read up on it and realized I wouldn’t be able to stand two hours of “Soaka” instead of “Sokka”.  That’s just the kind of person I am.

In other news, I’m still chugging away at I Heard It On The Radio.  I’m at 14k right now, which is a little under where I’m supposed to be by the end of today, but I’ll be working on it more when I get home and don’t have internet to distract me.  Even though I’m behind, it’s actually going pretty well.  I’m allowing myself to jump around to different scenes instead of having to write it in order, so if I find myself stuck at one place, I’ll just move on to another.  Genius, amirite?

Anyway, I’ll be working on editing Artistic License and writing I Heard It On The Radio over the weekend, so I guess that’s what all be doing.  Not all that interesting, but what can you do when you live in a small town?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

JulNoWriMo

I’m participating in JulNoWriMo because I decided I need a good kick in the ass to get to writing again.  I haven’t written anything significant since Artistic License.  Part of that is probably because I got hit hard with depression in late November and December, but another part of that is probably that I was working so hard on AL, to get parts of it rewritten and the entire book edited that I’d just put actual writing to the side.

So, as I said, I decided to do JulNoWriMo.  It’s like NaNoWriMo, but it takes place in July (which is now, in case you weren’t paying attention).  I’m writing another gay romance story called I Heard It On The Radio, about a guy whose mother is a popular radio DJ in their town and likes to talk about her family on air.  Because of this, he has a hard time telling her anything for fear that she’ll talk about it on one of her shows and let the whole tri-city area know about one of his secrets.  Needless to say, she eventually finds out he’s gay and blabs about it, embarrassing him to no end.

That’s all I really feel like saying about it, though :P I’ll definitely be making a cover for it though, when I find the time between writing that and editing Artistic License.  I plan to have AL out in the querying world by August, after all!  Maybe I Heard It On The Radio will be my second novel!  I’d really love to make my living as a realistic fiction author, although I do have Memories, which is sci-fi.  So it’s kind of a problem.  But realistic fiction is my favorite, and good fiction books seem to be really lacking in the YA market these days.

I say that as if I think I can change it.  Hah, I wish.  It’s nice to dream, though.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Editing Shenanigans

I did something last night that I hadn't done in years, and didn't ever think I'd be doing again.

I turned on the grammar check on Microsoft Word.

Yes, I know, people like to make those jokes about how it's always completely off-base and doesn't know what it's talking about. But despite all the fans I have online, my prose can get weird at times. So I turned it on along with the style checker, and I went through all 64k of Artistic License, letting it check for wordiness and passive voice, among other things. I set up at my kitchen table and sat there for several hours as my mother sat about ten feet away, watching sitcoms.

At one point I went to my bedroom, and she went to get a drink. When I looked out, she was staring at the screen. Lord knows what she was thinking as she read what I had up XD Ah, well. If/when AL gets published, she'll find out about it anyway, right?

I'm shooting to have it edited enough and a decent query letter out by August. Me, Nita and Ashley plan to start querying agents in August, just as kind of a group goal. It would be awesome if we could all debut at the same time. All realistic fiction! Take that, vampire hype.

Ah well. It's a nice dream.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Aspire To Be Cliche

Well no, not really. But I've been pushing around ideas in my head, and I decided that since I'm done with the most recent edits to Artistic License, I needed to write something that was lighthearted. Something that could actually be labeled as a comedy (and dare I say, a romantic comedy? Why yes, I dare!). And the perfect candidate?

Well, I have this old novel idea. It was originally about a guy losing a bet to his best friend and having to dress like a girl for a few weeks at the restaurant they work. Now I can't say that I'd like to deal with the cross-dressing thing again, but the rest of the story can be salvaged (it was a NaNoWriMo project a few years ago). It was called A Boy By Any Other Name since they even gave the MC (Nathan) a name for his 'alter ego' (Natalie). Might have to rename the story, but other than that, I do believe I'd be ready to go!

Of course I still have to write and edit a query letter for Artistic License, since I want to have it out into the world starting on my birthday. August 13th! So I guess we'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Artistic License progress

So I'm done feeling sorry for myself, at least for now. And according to the AL folder on Kaya (my laptop), I'm on the fifth draft. Said fifth draft might be finished next week. At this point I'm still counting drafts, but it's different from before.

Draft one was the first draft that I wrote back in November for NaNoWriMo.

Draft two was what I had posted on inkpop. It was an edit of draft one in which huge chunks were cut or rewritten, bringing the word count down from 82k to 63k.

Draft three was the draft I worked on before I got my review from HarperCollins. Mostly I worked on rewording things and the only detail I added to the story was Cameron having a pet name for Michael (Cameron now calls Michael babe most of the time :P)

Draft four occurred after I got the HarperCollins review. I worked in some of their suggestions but figured out how to avoid some on my own with rewrites of sections that weren’t even mentioned.

Draft five, which is what I’m currently working on, is more rewriting of various sections across the book. With the added and deleted details that happened while I was working with the HarperCollins review, some things need to be added into the story and some things need to be taken out. I don’t have the chapters together since I’m still tweaking them, so I don’t know the word count right now. Draft four runs at 62,260, which is a pretty good length for a general fiction YA novel.

I guess we’ll see how it goes then, huh?

In other news, I have my costume for PortCon almost completely gathered. I need red shoes and knee socks, and the overalls I got are khaki instead of denim, so my mom’s going to help me dye them. But I made the hat! Yes, made. I measured, patterned, cut and sewed it all by myself (well, mostly by myself).

Picture0012

Aren’t I adorable?

Until next time :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mixed feelings

So I finally got the review from HarperCollins on Artistic License, and I have mixed feelings about it. It was just so... very negative, in a way. Like other reviews have all the things that the editor liked about the project and then, if you squint, you can see a small criticism. But mine had four good-sized paragraphs of what was wrong with my book and one saying they liked how I set up the school.

It's a confidence breaker in one way. But Meagan and Nita both pointed out that maybe it means that they actually care about seeing AL improve, which might be the case. I dunno. Before I got the review I was editing like mad but now it seems like the review made me come to a stop and actually think about being an awful writer.

Sigh.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Home for the summer

Joana is home for the summer. Wanna know what that means? Well originally it meant I was going to spend more time at home, get my writing done by hand and just relax. But circumstances changed and now I'd rather lurk around the library than stay at home where I could be verbally abused by an ornery old man who really and truly doesn't understand me or anything I do beyond when I don't make sure there's not a single speck of dirt on the floor or a single dirty dish in the sink.

I will proudly grow up to be a husbandless old crone if this is what it means to be a housewife, thank you very much.

On the bright side, I'll be going to PortCon this year. It's an anime convention held in Portland, this year three days starting June 25th. I'll be cosplaying as Lyra, the female protagonist from Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver because I wasn't enough of a geek already. I'll be sure to have pictures taken :P

I don't really have any writing to post on here right now. I started a sequel to Artistic License but I'm not sure how well it's going. I've tried to keep stories about Cameron and Michael lighthearted, but the sequel, one of the things it deals with is Michael finally getting treatment for his depression and my first attempt at handling that was, well, depressing. And made Cameron seem like a jerk. So I don't know if I'll keep going with that or just put it aside. I guess we'll see.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I think my brain is broken

Yes. I have two finals and a paper due next week, and then I am off for summer vacation. And I have not been able to write. People, it's official: college has broken Joana's brain. But when I get back home and can just sit down with a notebook, I will be doing so much writing.

And maybe, just MAYBE, I'll have that review for Artistic License from the editorial board. I was telling Ashlie that if I have it before I leave, I'd sacrifice a fiver to the printing fund gods and print off Artistic License so I can red pen it the old fashioned way. I guess we'll see how that goes. I'm kind of nervous to see what they'll say, though. I've never gotten my work professionally critiqued before so I'm kind of scared D:

Anyway. I guess I'll be heading to bed now, since it's almost 2am. Will be getting my paper at least to the halfway point tomorrow if nothing else.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Preview of Memories, chapter 18

Chapter 18

We lost the girl in an alley even though it led to a dead end. It was such a cliché that it almost made me mad. Tristan still went into the narrow space, and I heard a splash as he stepped into a puddle I hadn’t even seen before.

“Ow!”

The puddle suddenly rose up, and Tristan lost his balance. I managed to catch him before he hit the ground. “What in the world?” he said.

The water formed into a girl before becoming solid and taking on color. It was, of course, the girl with the water powers we had been chasing after. “What do you want?” she said, her eyes narrowed. It wasn’t entirely obvious that we had powers too, so I couldn’t blame her for being suspicious. She tried to run past us, though, and I did the only thing I could think to do.

The girl’s eyes went wide as I lifted her into the air with my telekinesis. I waved a hand to turn her so she was fully facing us and said, “We just want to talk.” She tried to turn into water again, but I managed to keep her off the ground so she turned back to normal.

“If you’re so afraid of being caught, why did you use your power so openly?” Tristan said.

When the girl hit the ground, free of me, she didn’t try to run. She just shrugged and stared down at her shoes. “No one else was doing anything. That woman could’ve died.” She glared up at me, a piece of her brown hair falling over her face and obscuring one eye.

She didn’t even know the reason I had been hesitant to help but she was still making me feel guilty about it.

“What’s your name?” I said. When she looked up, I continued with, “I’m Arthur and this is Tristan. And you are?”

She looked down, and I realized that Tristan had taken hold of my and after I caught him. Whether Tristan realized this or not was debatable. “Tallulah,” she finally said.

An ambulance, probably the one that had picked up the people from the crash, rushed by. Tristan and I looked over to it out of instinct, and when we looked back to Tallulah, she was gone. There wasn’t even a puddle around. I shook my head and turned around, but Tristan kept standing there.

“Tristan? Is something wrong?” I said.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Deep, philosophical ramblings. Or not.

So I decided to post Memories on inkpop again and get back in there. Because as much as I would like to strangle that community, I met a lot of good people since I joined in November. So I decided to go back and just hang around, letting my writing get wherever it will.

And I've been amusing myself with the thought of people reading Memories and getting to the point where Tristan and Arthur have sex. It isn't even incredibly risqué, for those that read that scene. Arthur is afraid to touch people and Tristan assures him that he doesn't care if Arthur could kill him. So Arthur gets a bit emotional, and they end up having sex.

But the inkpop community seems so uptight when you bring up that subject. It just makes me laugh, I suppose. They're both eighteen or older, in love, and don't rush into it. I suppose we'll see how it goes :P

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And then there was this

For those who follow my book Memories (previously posted on inkpop, now only found in its entirety on FictionPress), you know that Arthur and Tristan are together by now. And last night, I lurked inkpop for a bit and found that they seemed to be obsessed with sex in young-adult novels. So, there's this.

Note that this takes place farther into the book. This is after Arthur discovers his power to make other's powers not work extends to other bodily functions, like, as Katherine gives as an example, being able to stop people's hearts.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Arthur, just because you have the power doesn’t mean you’d use it.” Tristan put a hand to my face and leaned into kiss me. I flinched away, but he moved in again. “I waited two years to be with you again, Arthur. I’m not afraid you’ll stop my heart.” He kissed me. “Not in the literal sense, anyway.”

“That one was corny even for you,” I said.

“And yet it’s true. I’m not keeping my hands to myself just because you know you could kill me now.” He pushed a piece of hair from my eyes and smiled. “It’s like Aunt Katherine said: you’re not that kind of guy. Right?”

Tristan seemed to know me better than I did. It made me feel better, though, to have someone that had such faith in me. He never doubted I could do something, including the right thing.

“…thanks,” I said. Tristan tried to move his arms around me, but I wasn’t in the mood and he could tell that. “I appreciate the support, Tristan. But you don’t need to feel like you need to always be touching me.”

Tristan took my hand in both of his. “That I can’t agree with.” He kissed me again, still holding my hand. “I kept thinking you weren’t real. I mean, how could you have been? You were amazing, and you actually wanted me. And then you were gone.” He put a hand to my cheek. “I feel like if I let go, you’ll disappear again.”

I frowned, and then I glanced to my bed. Tristan hadn’t even alluded to sex lately, but I thought about it. So I kissed him, pulling him by the collar until I hit my bed and he pushed me down so he could get on top.

Telling Lies, chapter 1

For those that don't know, this is actually a rewrite of an old story that I've never finished. I'm rewriting it to be more appropriate for a YA audience (the old version had a LOT of sex). Feel free to leave your thoughts!


Chapter 1

Things changed for me the summer before my freshman year. Junior high had been a highlight of my life. In fifth grade I met the guy who would become my best friend, Jamie, and later Jamie’s childhood friend Devin. We got through the public education system together, or as together as we could, under the circumstances.

Jamie was gay, and he wasn’t afraid to say it. But not everyone was so enthusiastic about accepting it as he was. He was ridiculed by our classmates and even by the teachers, though the latter were a lot more subtle about it. Devin stood behind him the entire time, because, well, they’d been friends forever. But I didn’t know what to do.

Still, when Jamie told me, that last day of eighth grade when the subject turned to high school, that he and Devin wouldn’t be there with me, it hurt. Jamie and Devin were going off to Clearbell School of Arts and Sciences to be artsy and surrounded by people that wouldn’t shove Jamie in a locker for liking guys.

The least they could’ve done was tell me earlier.

Even after a year and a move to a new town, I didn’t have the guts to contact him. And he never bothered trying to talk to me. It was like those four years of my life had been cut with a pair of safety scissors out of my memory. I tried to forget, but the ragged, imperfect edges still remained, taunting me in the back of my mind as I trudged through my sophomore year at a new school.

But then, there was Jason.

“I told you to watch out for that ball, Isaac.” Jason had his arms folded, still watching the dodge ball game that was going on.

I had what was probably a healthy bruise on my head from where I had been hit with one of those tough, rubber spheres. At least getting hit meant I could get out of the game. No one ever felt inclined to try to get a ball to me to get me back into the game, and I was okay with that. “You’re not my team captain. I’m not supposed to listen to you.”

“Like Natasha is a better judge of imminent danger than me?” he said.

We both looked over to Natasha, my dodge ball team captain. She was yelling at her team members to pick up the pace, something she had been doing all period. I personally thought that first period wasn’t the time to be ‘picking up the pace,’ but who was I to judge?

I lowered my head, feeling odd about staring at Natasha with Jason right beside me.

I brought my eyes away from Natasha and stared down at my lap. My face grew hot as Jason reached over and ran his hand down my hip, down to my thigh where the gym shorts didn’t cover.

“Um, Jason,” I said.

He turned his head to look at me, and I stared down at his hand. He took it away and stood up, going to stand beside Natasha.

Jason was a senior and three years older than me. He was so much more… cool and collected than I was, and I still had no idea what he saw in me. I was delicate, for a guy. Just last week we had been lifting weights in class, and he had to lift a thirty pound one from me because I couldn’t even move.

He hadn’t laughed at me like the guys in my class. He hadn’t even had that same smile on his face that he always has when he looks at me. He looked…

Terrified.

A ball came sailing towards me, and I caught it before I could think.

“Madison, get in the game,” the gym coach yelled.

I looked over to Jason. He was yelling instructions out to his team, not paying attention to me. Natasha was looking back at me, looking impatient for me to get onto the court.

Well, no one ever said gym had to be easy.

***

Theodora was a weird girl. She had a large amount of wigs that she switched out constantly. Sometimes I’d see her in the morning and she’d switch her wig out by lunch.

I didn’t actually know what she had under there. Jason said she was just eccentric. That might explain why she always sat alone at lunch.

Then again, I did too. Jason and I had the same lunch, but he always sat with his friends from the senior class and it made me nervous. Sitting next to Jason there made me feel like they were comparing us, like they wondered why he was with that quiet, scrawny kid in the first place.

“You sure you have the right table?” Theodora asked as I set my tray down across from her.

I let my gaze go over to Jason and his friends. They were all laughing at something, looking like they were having the greatest time in the world. “I-yeah. You mind?”

There was no one else there, not even at the other end of the table. All Theodora did was adjust her wig, a curly, purple affair today, and look over to Jason’s table. “They annoy you too, huh?” she said.

I was tempted to say yes. Jason’s friends annoyed me. If it weren’t for them, I could sit with my boyfriend at lunch. But there I was, sitting down with some random girl because I was afraid of being compared to him.

“No,” I said. “Intimidate, I guess, is the right word.”

“Well don’t worry about that,” Theodora said. “They’ll be gone in a year anyway.”

“What?” I looked up from my macaroni. A piece of my blond hair fell into my face, and I pushed it back, annoyed.

“Um, they’re seniors,” Theodora said. “They’ll be graduating this year.”

I stared down at my food, lost for words. I guess even though I kept reminding myself that Jason was a senior, the fact that he’d be graduating this year… never really clicked.

I was almost tempted to go over and sit with him. Jason always sat at the end of the table, leaving enough room for one person to sit at the very end of the bench beside him. But he never made the effort to sit with me, so why should I bother?

“I’ve seen you with that guy. Are you friends?”

I turned to Theodora. She was looking at me innocently. I barely knew this girl, besides the fact that she likes wearing outrageous wigs and that she always sat alone at lunch. It was a clean slate, basically. Cleaner than the one I had created since I moved here in August, anyway.

It didn’t, however, make me want to tell her anything.

“Yeah, friends,” I said. I ducked my head before Theodora could look me in the eye. Not even I thought I could be believed.

“Isaac.”

I turned to see Jason leaning over the bench, one arm around my shoulders. My face started turning red.

“You left your clarinet beside your gym locker,” he said.

I finally noticed that the arm he put around my shoulders had my clarinet case. Theodora was staring at Jason like he was an alien, her eyes wide and her entire body stiff.

“Thanks.” I put the case down beside my backpack. Jason lingered there, his hand on my shoulder, and I turned to look at him. “Did you need something else?”

Jason glanced around before pulling me into a kiss. “You still want a ride home today?”

All I could do was nod.

“Friends,” Theodora said. “I wish I had a friend like that.”

I took one last look at Jason. He was back at his own table, listening to something one of the girls was saying. He ran a hand through his brown hair, then he glanced my way.

No matter how much I complained, those smiles he gave me made it worth it. Of course, the girl who had been talking to him seemed to think he was smiling at her. She flipped her hair and smiled back, but Jason wasn’t paying attention.

“You sure you don’t want to go over?” Theodora asked. “Looks like you have some competition.”

I shook my head, turning back to my food. It was only competition if I knew how to fight for him in the first place.

***

Jason was waiting outside the band room when the last period bell rang. I knew for a fact that he had Calculus then, which made his presence that much more of a surprise.

“Have a good day, Isaac,” the band director said. She was putting away some music sheets, but her eyes were on me and Jason.

“Thank you, Miss Piper.” I waved vaguely before letting the door fall shut.

“She seems nice,” Jason said. “I took band freshman year, but there was a different director.”

“Really? What instrument did you play?” I twitched a little as he took my hand, but I didn’t say anything about it.

“Trombone.”

The band geek in me made me laugh, but the common sense in me cut it down to a snort. I smiled and put my free hand over my mouth, trying to hide it.

“There’s his smile.”

We were at Jason’s car now. He picked me up and sat me down on the trunk before kissing me. He ran his hands down my body and stopped at my hips while I put my arms around his shoulders.

“You really should smile more, babe,” he said into my ear. He licked at the bottom before pulling away.

There was a car driving by at this point. The driver wasn’t someone I really recognized, but he beeped his horn at us and said something. I didn’t hear what he said, but judging from the look on Jason’s face, it seemed he had. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.

“Um, do you want to stay at my house for a while?” I asked.

Jason watched as the car drove away before nodding.

I probably wouldn’t have invited Jason if my mother was home, but I knew she was doing errands that afternoon. It was because as… charming, I suppose, as Jason was, he still had the bad habit of not being able to keep his hands off me when he thought we were alone.

Case in point, as soon as we got inside, he had me down on the couch, kissing me hard.

“You’re lucky my mom’s out today,” I said when he finally pulled back.

His hair was hanging down, just long enough to touch my cheeks since he was still close to my face.

“Your parents don’t know about us do they?” Jason said.

I pulled him into another kiss, and he licked at my lips so I would let his tongue in. “Well I… no. They wouldn’t believe me if I just told them. They still see me as their innocent little boy.”

Jason was touching me all over as I said that. He finally settled his hands in the back pockets of my jeans. I wrapped my arms around his back and he moved down, nipping at my neck before moving down to the collar of my shirt.

“Innocent? Maybe compared to me.” He licked at my neck before pushing away.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I said.

Jason stared at me, seeming to consider something. But then the door opened and he was more than willing to turn and look. “Ah, hello Mrs. Madison.”

I jumped away from Jason as my mother came through with grocery bags.

“Jason, what brings you here?” she said.

He got up and jogged over into the kitchen so he could help Mom put the food away. “Isaac asked me to help him with Geometry, since he has a quiz tomorrow.”

It was Thursday, and I had mentioned it in passing on Monday. Sometimes I wondered how he did half the things he does.