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Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Tree

A post by Matt on the 2 Boys in Love blog today got me waxing nostalgic about a tree.  Not all trees, although that's what Matt's wonderful, uplifting post was about.  He was talking about trees in general and was inspired by this wonderful painting he received from the uber-talented Thorny Sterling.

I love trees. All trees, but especially old, gnarly ones that have lived long enough to tell stories of their own if they could. As I read Matt's post, I started thinking about one tree in general: the tree in my mom's backyard. As I typed my comment on the 2 Boys blog, I found myself getting more and more emotional. This is my comment, slightly edited:

We had a giant maple in my backyard as a kid and it was the perfect climbing tree - you could go around and around and around - all the way to the top. I had favorite spots. One giant cubby where I could stretch out against the trunk and read. One where I could straddle the branch like a motorcycle or lay on my belly and put my book/elbows on the "Y" shaped branches and read. We even made a haunted "house" one year - hanging stuff in the tree to tickle you or that you'd have to navigate around as you climb. It was the biggest tree on the block and every kid's favorite - it was like it had a life of it's own. My mom passed a few years ago and I had to sell the house. I wrote a letter to the new owners - a young couple - and told them about all my memories of growing up there - and especially the tree. I literally went out back to said goodbye to it before leaving the last time. This past fall, I drove past the house and saw giant slabs of wood all over the back yard. I wanted to scream. I remember texting my big brother, "They cut down the tree :( " I didn't even need to tell him who or what tree I was talking about. It was a long time before he responded with "They did?" I sent, "Yep" and he sent back a sad face with a tear. Ugh. Sorry. I didn't mean to get all morose, and I'm making myself cry, but my point was, I get it. Trees are so much more than just trees to me.

That maple wasn't just a tree - it was The Tree. There were other trees in our yard all through the years, but they had specific names like: The Blue Spruce or The Tree Out Front, but the maple in the backyard we just called The Tree.

"Mom! Have you seen my bike?"
"Yes, dear, it's right where you left it - under The Tree!"

(Phone call from Mom) "You'll have to come see The Tree before the leaves fall. It's the most gorgeous red I've ever seen this year!"

It earned that title because it was majestic - the biggest tree in the entire neighborhood and had been planted by Mrs. Cedar, the original owner of the house, sometime around WW1. The house was a big old, two-story brick on a hill but The Tree's branches extended out over the roof almost reaching the front yard.  It shaded the next-door neighbor's entire backyard too.

In recent years, my husband and I cursed The Tree because of the sheer volume of leaves to be raked and hauled to the curb. It would take days to clear her yard of leaves. A small sacrifice for all The Tree had given us in return.

I wanted to post a picture of The Tree here for you to see, but I sadly realize, I don't have one. Maybe someday I'll stumble across one - I hope I do - but thankfully, I remember every branch.  I can close my eyes right now and remember where every hand and foot had to be placed on every branch as you climb up, up, up to the very top.

When I finished typing my comment to Matt, I was sitting here bawling as if I'd lost a member of my family and that's when it hit me.

I had.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Sacred Husbands' Ceremony

The Sacred Husbands' Ceremony

Mason brought the big horse to a halt.

“Let’s stop here for a minute.”

Luke pulled his stallion up as well and studied his friend as they both dismounted. They were headed back to the ranch, the glow of the setting sun casting long shadows on the dry ground. They had a ways to ride before reaching home and it was unlike Mason to risk losing daylight to watch a sunset, but then, he'd been acting odd all day. They’d spent the entire day together—just the two of them—it'd been Mason's idea, yet he'd been distant and quiet the whole time, even more than usual.

“Amazing sunset,” Luke said, and smiled as Mason took his hand.  Mason didn’t answer but Luke saw him nod in the amber light. "Thanks for today, Mace. I really enjoyed...."

Mason cut him off. “Would you... would you marry me, Luke?” His voice was gruff and low but Luke heard him perfectly. The problem was, he couldn't believe what he heard. This was Texas. There was no way in hell Mason would actually propose. Luke chuckled.

Would I?  Obviously, the use of the word 'would' makes this a hypothetical question. Otherwise, it's not really fair, because you'd know my answer ahead of time—you know, before you properly asked.”

“Jesus, Luke,” Mason growled as he turned to him. Their gazes met and the intensity in Mason's blazed back at him. 

Oh. Oh! Luke’s heart froze and his breath caught as Mason sank to one knee, his gaze never leaving Luke's. This time it was barely a whisper.

Will you... marry me?”

Luke looked into the blue eyes he’d known forever and bit his bottom lip, trying not to grin. He wanted to kiss Mason so bad right now. Instead, he smirked.

“Gosh, I don’t know. Someone once told me I shouldn't say yes to the first boy that asked...”

“No other boy better ever have reason to ask you that," Mason grumbled.

Mason fumbled in his pocket for a moment before producing a black box with his free hand. He flipped it open with his thumb and Luke gasped.

Luke looked at Mason and in that moment he saw the six-year old boy who'd smiled up at him so shyly the first time they met. He remembered The Sacred Blood Brothers Ceremony where they'd bravely mixed their blood together and vowed to be brothers forever—like these rings: the two of them, side by side, always and forever.

Luke smoothed a stray lock of hair from Mason’s eyes. “There'll never be anyone else, Mace. You’re my first, my last, my only. Yes, I would love to be your husband.” A thought occurred to him and he couldn’t resist adding, “It is husband, right?”

Mason laughed and pulled Luke down, into his arms. “Yes, Luke. Husbands.”

Luke kissed him before looking into the only eyes he ever wanted to wake up to and said, "The Sacred Husbands' Ceremony, huh? Yeah, Mace. Let's do this."


When this picture got posted on the Monday Flash Fic page, I immediately knew the scene - I'd written it. It's from book two - the sequel to my novel. The setting was a little different, but this is definitely Mason proposing to Luke. I pulled up Scrivener and, yep... found it. A little tweaking is all it took. I ended up cutting two hundred words and changing a few others, but... yeah, it was written awhile ago.

I had fun spending a little time with Mason and Luke again and I'm thinking I like this setting better than my original one anyway, so, for now, anyway, it's a permanent part of book two. Now I just need to finish book one and get it submitted.

Pretty sure that was Helena's plan when she posted this picture anyway. ;o)

Check out everyone else's 'take' on this picture. Links can be found on the group page.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Blahdy, blahdy, blah.

I'm sure this becomes boring after awhile. No big deal. As my co-writer, Helena Stone sometimes says, "Blahdy, blahdy, blah."

But for me, to wake up and log on to see our book on the Dreamspinner page under Coming Soon with a pre-sale link is pretty darned exciting

So, if you've been the least bit curious about the love child Helena and I created during our first Skype session, this is your chance!  Strangers In The Night will hit your Kindles on March 11th, but you can pre-order now!  And it's on sale!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bounce House

My friends, Helena Stone and Brigham Vaughn do a Flash Fiction post every Monday.  Last week, Helena and I were chatting and she chuckled and said Theo Fenraven had just sent her a picture for them to use. She showed it to me and I had to laugh. But then I started thinking...  And then I started writing... And then I showed it to them and they invited me to post mine along with their's. So, here is my take on Theo's picture.


“They’re making fun of me already.

I haven’t even been here for one full day yet.  That’s okay, though. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before. I move around a lot and I’m used to the other houses making fun of my bright red roof and porch with the funny blue stairs that can’t be climbed because there’s no railing. They call me four eyes and make fun of my kindergarten colors. Whatever. I know I’m not perfect like them. I don’t have well defined edges and a perfect roofline. I’m kind of round and puffy and my shingles need cut. I’m not strong like them either. When a heavy wind comes along, I’m the first to go down.

They even have sophisticated names like Tudor and Ranch. See the one next to me? That’s Colonial. But me? Even my name is ridiculous. Who names their kid Bounce, anyway? Yeah, that’s my name. Bounce House. Go ahead and laugh. I’ll wait.

Because you know what? Those houses next to me might look pretty on the outside, but there’s a lot of unhappiness behind their doors.  I hear the yelling and the screaming that goes on inside. They aren’t as perfect as they want everyone to believe. A new coat of paint and some flowers don’t make the family on the inside any happier. It doesn’t keep their kids from crying or being sad.

No, they can have their carefully coordinated color-pallet. I’ll keep my bright yellow walls and my too-red roof and the mouth that’s too big for my face because all those things make me… me…  and I make the people inside me and around me giggle and laugh. They love me because I’m colorful and fun and I make them smile every time they see me.  They bump up against me and I bump back. Sometimes I even knock them off their feet, but they don’t care – they love me anyway – even if I jiggle too much - because I make them happy. They love me for who I am and they don’t want me to change.

Hear those kids squealing right now? That’s because they just spotted me – me - not Colonial.  They’re running this way to play with me – not him or any of the ‘perfect’ houses.

But I can’t talk anymore because here they come! Gonna’ get pounced on in three… two… ‘UMPHPH’  Hahahahaha!”


 Check out Helena Stone's story here and Brigham Vaughn's story here.
Thanks, girls, for letting me play with you! ;o)