Excerpt! Excerpt!

Crazy, but this book is coming out next week! It feels like a million years ago that HOME TEAM was published, but actually, it’s only been a year. Are you ready for the sequel? AWAY GAME picks up where HOME TEAM left off, but with Zach, instead of Aaron, this time. Zach may be out of the closet, but that doesn’t make dating Aaron any easier this time around. Especially during the playoffs, when superstitions are heightened.

Zach wakes up when the bed dips, and he rolls into the warm space where Aaron was sleeping. “Morning,” he says, rubbing his eyes open. Aaron almost made it all the way to the bathroom. He stops and turns, face frozen like he’s been caught.

“I’m just taking a shower,” he says.

“Then why do you look so guilty?” Zach asks. He pushes himself up, back against the headboard. His glasses are on the side table, next to the condom wrapper from last night.

“Because I feel guilty?”

“Are they telling you guys not to have sex before games now? That’s an old wives’ tale, Aaron. That isn’t true.”

He shakes his head. He stares down at the carpet, an ugly geometric pattern of orange and green. “It’s the playoffs,” he says. “If we lose this…” He sounds so pained.

“It’s only sex, honey,” Zach says. Aaron shrugs, like that doesn’t explain his lack of discipline. Because Aaron is the one who has to win tonight, not Zach. Zach may write about sports, but he has no idea what it takes to win at this level. “I absolve you,” Zach says, waving his hand between them. He makes a vague gesture like he’s seen priests do on TV. “Go take a shower, and wash your sins away.”

Aaron gives him a little smile before he disappears around the corner. Zach listens for the water before he turns on the TV, looking for the news. He stretches out on the bed, ignoring his phone for as long as possible. It’s not that he expects a fire. Zach just doesn’t want to get out of bed yet. It’s so early that Zach’s alarm didn’t have a chance to wake him up.

He curls up on Aaron’s side of the bed, enjoying the leftover warmth and waiting for the local preview of tonight’s game. He lasts all of a commercial break before he gives up and gets up for his phone. Zach does a quick scan of his email first, checking in with his editor and the Falcons’ press coordinator. She has an morning conference scheduled, as well as players and coaches available for interviews. Zach should get moving.

“You’re taking your time,” Zach calls out, wandering into the bathroom, leaving his phone on the bathroom counter and peeing while Aaron is still in the shower. “I thought athletes were the masters of the five-minute shower.”

“You wore me out last night,” Aaron says over the sound of the water. He pulls the door back to make a sexy face at Zach. It doesn’t have the same effect when his hair is white with shampoo bubbles.

“Don’t make me flush,” Zach teases, his hand on the handle.

Aaron goes back to his shower. “I sit in ice baths after every game,” he says. “Do your worst.”

Zach’s worst would barely touch Aaron. He finishes up while Zach is brushing his teeth, and when he steps out of the tub, wrapping a towel around his waist, the look on his face is more smug that anything else. He smacks Zach on the ass on his way out.

“You’re not forgiven,” Zach tells him. He hears the TV volume turned up in the next room and Aaron ignoring him. Rolling his eyes, Zach ignores him right back and digs into his kit for his razor and shaving cream. Usually, Zach likes to shave in the shower, but he does it at the counter with the water running in the sink this morning because he knows Aaron will be leaving soon. He doesn’t want to miss the goodbye.

Aaron doesn’t have anything here except the clothes he was wearing last night: a royal blue suit, striped shirt, tie, and the argyle socks Zach knows he stole from Zach’s dresser. Or maybe their laundry was mixed up together. That’s been happening more often lately.

He flinches when his razor bites into skin. There’s blood, and Zach stops it with a bit of tissue. He has to learn how to control his smile while he’s shaving.

“I’m off,” Aaron says, hanging off the doorway. He’s looped the dark tie around his neck, but didn’t bother to knot it. Zach’s fingers twitch compulsively, wanting to go over there and put Aaron together: tie knotted, shirt tucked, jacket buttoned. But Aaron looks good like this, too, and Zach knows he was the one who took him apart. “Zach?” Aaron says, narrowing his eyes and staring at him funny. “Are you listening?”

“Not even a little,” he says. Zach leaves his razor on the counter and grabs a hand towel to wipe away most of the leftover shaving cream. He wants to kiss Aaron with nothing getting in their way.

If you’ve already pre-ordered AWAY GAME, thank you. Your copy is waiting and will be ready for download September 25th. If you haven’t yet, it’s so easy. Follow the link, click the big button that says I WANT THIS!, and pay. No need to create a new account. It’s that simple.

And if you buy it, you’re that awesome. Thank you.

This is so boring, but the lady demands. I started using a stock Apple wallpaper after the iOS 7 update wiped my old one, and now I love it. The layout is my new distraction avoidance technique. Anytime I think about opening Twitter or Tumblr, I open Marvin and read a book instead.

Books!

Rules: In a text post, list ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you. Tag [some] friends, including me, so I’ll see your list. Make sure you let your friends know you’ve tagged them.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Read it first for English class, grade 11. That’s when I realised “great” literature doesn’t have to be epic.)

2. Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (Read it first in a bus station in Thunder Bay, on my way home after crossing the country on Greyhound by myself at 19.)

3. Paterson by William Carlos Williams (Read it first during the summer semester when I took advantage of the university library and read everything by and about Williams. One day, I’ll tattoo his line–Look, there lies the city!–on my arm.)

4. The Leaving by Budge Wilson (Read it first soon after I received it as a gift for Easter when I was 9. The girls in these stories were my Anne Shirleys, pulled into the (almost) modern day.)

5. The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton (Read it first probably soon after I learned how to read. Three siblings find a magic tree which leads to different worlds. Then I started making up my own stories about different worlds.)

6. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Read it first in grade 10, and then we saw the Baz Luhrmann film in the theatre on a field trip. Cemented these words in my 14-year-old brain.)

7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Read it first, grudgingly, in a university course where it was paired with Bridget Jones’s Diary. Read it again, enthusiastically, last year. It’s all about timing.)

8. Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock (Read it first, I think, Christmas ‘91. I would’ve been turning 10. My delight for that multi-media love story was definitely a sign of what was coming.)

9. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (Read it first in Halifax, two years ago, deep in the despair of trying to finish my first novel. After years of reading this book’s praises, I finally gave in. And I finished the novel.)

10. Sleepover Friends by Susan Saunders (Read it first during those days when your fiction series of choice said everything about you. I read Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins and Bad News Ballet, too, but these girls were most me.)

Now tell me your books!

Origin Story

When I’m in collecting mode, everything–ideas, characters, titles, dialogue–goes into nvALT. (The app is actually Notational Velocity, but I prefer this fork for some of its additional features, such as live word count). The beauty of nvALT is in its simplicity. Type a word into the search bar to find the notes you’ve made previous; if there are no notes with that word, hit ENTER to make a brand new one. That’s it. Notes are easy to make, easy to find, easy to edit. Everything is saved in plain text. I had upwards of a thousand notes, all saved in a 20MB folder.

I say “had” because I like to review my notes regularly. There are some things I save for reference purposes: song lyrics, resumes, a reading log, the full text of HENRY V. But a lot of the notes in nvALT are one sentence long. Here’s one: “Have to tell the story of a thousand rainy days.” That’s a Sting lyric, but it’s also a book idea. Once it becomes a book, a blog post, a newsletter story, and I don’t need the note anymore, I delete it. (They’re easy to delete, too). I’m down to 476 right now.

Here’s a treat for all of you waiting on AWAY GAME: the very first notes I wrote on the characters. This is the entire text file; no changes. (Yes, I often talk to myself as I type. It’s a habit born of 750words.com.)

aaron

gavin

ethan

zachary

josiah

elijah

jonathan

max

callum

jacob

I use this character generator a lot because if you ignore the ages, it’s just a good source for names and personality traits. I needed names for the next thing I’m writing, a pro hockey player sent down to the minors, who discovers the local sports reporter is his ex boyfriend. They broke up because he wouldn’t come out of the closet. Here’s what the generator gave me for the hockey player: Ethan, jock, responsible, leader, disciplined. His unique trait is that he’s estranged from his family. Here’s what the generator gave me for the reporter: Colton, book worm, honest, courageous, strong. His unique trait is that he has a big grudge.

Zach is a hockey player. He used to be a star. He was a first round draft pick, he has two Stanley Cups, and he scores goals. Or he used to score goals. Now he’s 36, and he doesn’t get as much ice time as he used to.

Now he’s a leader on the team. But not on the ice or in the locker room. Zach is the guy who make the team a team. He throws parties. He organizes trips to strip clubs. He has season tickets to the Chargers.

One night, after a game and drinks after with the rookie on the team, Zach is driving them home, and he’s a little drunk. They both are. He swerves the car off the road and crashes his car into a pole and puts out the lights in that neighbourhood.

He’s in trouble, not so much for the car, but for having the rookie star in the car with him. The team sends him away to deflect the press away from their current star. They send him down to the minors.

I don’t remember if there was a reason why I changed their names. It might have been as simple as when I started the actual writing, I forgot the hockey player was originally Zach. My nvALT notes are about capturing thoughts before they disappear. They grow from there. Sometimes they become even bigger than I could have imagined.

If you haven’t ordered AWAY GAME, what are you waiting for? Go do that now! Only $4.99 for 48k of Zach (the reporter) and Aaron (the hockey player) and their inconvenient feelings.