|Christmas Goes Analog|
Publisher: Loose Id
Cover artist: Valerie Tibbs
Length: 30,000 words
Heat rating: Explicit
Tagline: When plans to celebrate a traditional Christmas together with Rob's family fall apart, Shawn decides to create their own Christmas tradition.
When Rob's dad was injured by an uninsured driver, it spelled the end of Rob's carefree childhood and, more important to Rob, the idyllic Christmases they used to have. Hard work and sacrifice nets him a degree in computer programming and then a contract at a rapidly-growing video game company. Things are looking up, especially when he meets his new System Administrator. But the closer it gets to Christmas, the more bugs there are in the system.
Shawn's found him. The Guy. But Rob's had it rough and it's been years since he's been anything but responsible. It all comes boiling to the surface when a family financial crisis is followed by a work emergency that ruins Rob's plans to bring Shawn home to meet the family over Christmas holidays.
With Rob's mood growing darker the closer it gets to Christmas, Shawn needs to find some way to give Rob the Christmas he's so desperate for. And he just might have the plan...
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Robert Forbes, 24, works as a video game programmer
Shawn Thomson, 26, works as a system administrator/hardware guy at the same video game company as Rob.
Not long before lunch, a flash of movement in the door caught Shawn's eye—and his irritation. Like any other sysadmin, he hated it when people came looking for him instead of sending a ticket. First, it usually screwed up the documentation, so he ended up doing it all at the end. Second, it meant they thought they were going to butt in line ahead of everyone else. He spun in his chair to give the interloper a good lesson in "don't bother the guys with the system access" but froze instead. A tall, dark-haired guy with a slightly self-conscious smile and eyes full of laughter stood in the open doorway.
"Hi. Sorry. I tried to make a ticket, but the system wouldn't let me. I'm Rob."
Rob? Oh, Robert Forbes. "Come on in," Shawn heard himself say. It was like his whole body was on fire, or he'd stuck his finger in a socket. He wondered if he was having a stroke; his brain seemed to be caught in an infinite loop.
Blue screen of death. Wonder if he'd give me mouth-to-mouth? He shook himself mentally and made his lips form the words, "What can I do for you?"
Rob took a couple of uncertain steps into the room. "I don't want to push—I know there's a protocol in place—but my access keeps going in and out. Sometimes I can get in; sometimes I can't. And there doesn't seem to be any kind of triggering event. It's just random."
The part of Shawn's brain that wasn't completely occupied in wishful thinking poked at that and came up with several possible solutions.
Easiest first. "Let's check your cables." He got up and slipped past Rob, catching the other man's scent as he moved by. Damn, he even smells good. What are the chances?
Rob followed him, looking baffled. "But I can get on sometimes."
Shawn dug through the box of spare cables and pulled out a couple of Cat 5e's and an IDE cable, just in case, though he doubted the problem was inside the box. Unless there was a corrupted file in the operating system, but that wouldn't cause the intermittent connection issues Rob was experiencing. "Occam's razor," Shawn told him. "We'll try the cables, then look at other things if the cables don't work."
Rob held out his hand. "I'm sure you have better things to do. I'll take them up and try them out."
Not likely. "That's okay. I need a break, and it's a good excuse to stretch my legs." Good thing his name wasn't Pinocchio, or his nose would be six feet long after that lie. He gestured at the door and smiled. "Let's go get you set up."
It only took a minute to swap out the Cat 5e cable. But it was definitely worth the effort because when Shawn crawled back out from underneath the desk, Rob looked quickly away from him and blushed.
Yes! Nothing says gay better than checking out your coworker's assets. And that blush...
Shawn didn't make his move right away. He hung around for another twenty minutes, making Rob repeat all the actions that had caused him problems.
In triumph, Shawn twisted the old cable into a knot, then pulled a set of wire cutters out of his pocket and snipped it in two with a dramatic flourish. At Rob's surprised look, Shawn grinned. "That way it won't end up back in the box again." He sent a silent prayer of thanks to whatever Cupid was in charge of gay men's love lives, the one who'd handed him such an easy fix and made him look good in front of this new guy.
This new, cute guy.
He glanced at the clock. "You wanna get some lunch?"
For the first time, Rob looked uncomfortable. "I, uh, brought my lunch."
"My treat. In honor of your first day. We owe you something for this." Shawn waggled the broken cable.
Rob still looked unsure, and Shawn was suddenly hit by the unwelcome idea that maybe Rob already had a boyfriend. Damn, he hoped not. He did his best to look unthreatening and friendly, with—he hoped—a little sexy in the mix.
A broad smile spread across Rob's face, as if he'd read Shawn's mind, and he nodded. "Okay. Let me get my jacket."
Shawn took him to a small pub a few streets away. Over the course of lunch—a burger for Rob, chicken in Thai peanut sauce for Shawn—he learned a lot about the new hire. Rob had graduated only last week, and this was his first time living away from home. He had a sister, a nephew, and a niece, who all lived with his mother. His father was disabled and lived in a private nursing home, which Rob helped pay for. He loved movies—science fiction and superheroes, mostly, but a good action film with lots of explosions could tempt him as well.
And he was single.
By the time they'd gotten back to work, Shawn had talked Rob into a date on Friday night, gotten his phone number and his personal e-mail from him, and had extracted a promise to eat lunch together the next day. That afternoon, for the first time in months, Shawn took his break, so he could spend some more time with Rob. They walked back from the breakroom together, and Shawn was pleased to note that Rob seemed reluctant to leave, lingering in the doorway until Shawn had to shoo him off so they could both get their work done.
When Shawn left work that evening—late, as usual—he was actually looking forward to going back the next day, which was something else he hadn't done in a while. Not for the job—for Rob.
So when Ruairi called back late that night to ask, "Are you interested in that job?" Shawn knew what his answer would be.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was laid off one summer, from a job I hated, and decided that I would give the writing a serious go, as a way to take back the parts of me that the hostile work environment had crushed. I started several different projects, in differing genres, and kept noodling away at them until I had one finished. At some point, I stumbled across my online critique group, which has been the best thing that ever happened to me, because it was their support and approval that convinced me to submit something. I was lucky enough to catch the eye of Raven McKnight at Loose Id and it's been a fantastic experience. It's nice to work with someone who gets your goofy jokes and actively encourages your weirdness and 'not in the box'-ness.
What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
I give it time and treat it seriously. I think I'm more forward about promotion, because a professional treats promotion like a part of the job. And I'm more likely to give myself the 'down' time between drafts, because I understand how I write much better now. I tend to write a clean first draft, but--like many pantsers--it's more of a detailed outline, not a full first draft. Rewrites
What websites do you visit daily?
Daily? My email. Twitter. Absolute Write. My critique group. News sites and any interesting links that show up in my Twitter feed or elsewhere. I try to stay off the internet, if I can, since it can be a huge time waster and I'd rather make words.
If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
Lol. I'd write the prequel first. The biggest complaint about the first book was that people wanted to know the story of how Levi and Glynn got together. Bite Me Tender took place about four years into their relationship. But I love those two so much, they'll definitely be coming back.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I like that I'm independent, that it's a structured activity that taps my creativity in a way that everyday life doesn't even come close to. If you want to get all psychological about it, I'm an INTJ, which makes me analytical, creative and someone who can't help fusing things that, on the surface, don't belong together. Writing feeds a part of me that the day job can't even touch.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Write anyway. Find some time. Find some people to help you learn to do it better. Don't be ashamed of your ideas, don't let anyone tell you that girls can't write scifi or fantasy. Own your weirdness and seek out people who are also weird. Experiment. Don't think of a failed project as a waste--it's practice.
And don't let anyone tell you that you're too aggressive and it's not appropriate. Screw that. Push.
What is your work ethic when it comes to writing?
When not tied down by other responsibilities, I like to hit a minimum of 1500 words a day, though not necessarily all on the same project. It's nice if I get it all on one, but it rarely works that way. A lot of days I'll go beyond that, but not always. I keep a number of projects going at the same time, because some days my subconscious isn't ready with the next step of a story, so I move to something else. As long as words are coming out, I'm happy, but there have to be words each day.
How do you cope with stress as an author?
Work avoidance, until I can't take it anymore. :P Then I very deliberately open up a file that doesn't have a due date and put about 250 words on it. After that, things tend to flow smoothly. But I do have a tendency, once I get a book open, to obsess over it and work on it all the time, which is part of my stress-coping mechanism.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
Can I plead the Fifth, even if I'm Canadian?
I'll confess, names of people around me often end up in books. Very rarely do personalities get transplanted, though, since characters tend to arrive in my head with very definite ideas of who they are and what they want. Random stories often appear, with names changed to protect the guilty. You're all fodder to the word machine!
What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your own writing?
I read MM and other LGBT fiction, plus a variety of fantasy and science fiction. I'm a spec fic writer by nature, but I love the challenges of writing in the MM genre and the freedom it gives me to write about themes and ideas that are skated over or often downright ignored in mainstream publishing. So I go back and forth between my two loves. Last MM book read was the Power Play duology by Rachel Haimowitz and Cat Grant. Last sff book (series, really) read was John Scalzi's Old Man's War, which was an interesting setting, though I found I was getting a little tired of the 'Oh, what a cool universe I've created' by the fourth book, and began hoping for a bit more story.
|Bite Me Tender|
What good book have you read recently?
I listen to a lot of audiobooks, because I do a lot of driving. So, I'm 'reading' Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself trilogy, which is a pretty interesting take on the fantasy genre. It looks on the surface like a fairly generic epic fantasy, but he takes a number of classic fantasy archetypes and--shifts them, ever so slightly. Odd little combinations. His characters are likeable, the story keeps me coming back, though it's so subtle I really can't explain the draw. Next book slated for listening is a non-fiction about sociopaths.
What do you like to do when you're bored?
Lol, I do research. Or household repairs. There's always a list for both. Right now, I'm researching
San Francisco history,
reading up on police procedures and making lists of angelic hierarchies. I'm also
fixing two broken chairs, building support frames for the firewood in the basement
and contemplating building a swinging gate in the pony barn.
If you were a color, what color would you be?
Red. Definitely red. Or midnight blue.
Please complete the sentences
I love pizza with ham and pineapple.
I'm always ready for a nice bottle of red wine. Australian, preferably.
When I'm alone, I giggle and immediately throw my to-do list out the window, in favour of reading about boys in love and drinking wine.
You'd never be able to tell from looking at my house, but at work I'm really incredibly organized. Anally so, so to speak.
If I had a halo it would be dented and crooked, or lost under a pile of papers somewhere.
If I could change one thing about myself, I'd like to be able to sing, instead of just scaring small children.
I can never watch horror movies because then I'm trapped in my house with the axe in my hand, until the authorities take me away.
Bite Me Tender
Blurb: Levi is a werewolf. His boyfriend, and the love of his life, is a witch. After living together for three years, they decided to commit to each other and change Glyn into a werewolf. Levi hoped the pack would accept Glyn more readily as a wolf. Glyn hoped it would eliminate his erratic magic and erase the OCD it caused. One year later, they're still trying...
Levi can't understand why his bite won't change Glyn and he's running out of time to figure it out. His pack is being threatened by a larger one, he's facing dissension in the ranks of his own ruling council and Glyn's grandmother is poking her witchy nose into their relationship.
Under threat of a violent takeover, the council pushes another potential wolf at Levi, infuriating Glyn and adding weight to Levi's own doubts. Council machinations divide the two lovers, leaving both men questioning their lives, their love, and what they're willing to endure for each other.
Full moon is a time of power and change. It could be a disaster, or it could be the key to happily ever after. If they're strong enough to wrestle their happiness from its bloody claws.
Nuts About You (in the Forgotten Menagerie anthology)
Blurb: Nathan's been crushing on one of his regular Bulk Mart customers for a while now. In squirrel form, he sits on Vince's bird feeders, munching on seeds and enjoying the eye candy. Until the day Vince notices him raiding the feeder...
Storm Moon Press http://www.stormmoonpress.com/books/Forgotten-Menagerie.aspx
Contemporary Romantic Comedy, found in the Underground Erotica anthology. It was produced by a group of erotica writers at Absolute Write as a fundraiser to help support the massive forums there. My story is about the lengths we go to, in order to make our loved ones proud of us. Even if it means trying to ignore your claustrophobia to go spelunking with your outdoorsy boyfriend.
Author site http://wp.me/P30c7r-hs
Because Christmas ornaments play a fairly significant role in the story of Christmas Goes Analog, I decided to give away an ornament. It's made of pewter, and is crafted by a local artisan's workshop.
In order to enter, simply follow this link: http://wp.me/p30c7r-hp and leave a comment under that post on my blog. The winner will be chosen on December 10th.
Find Me Here
Website: The Blunt Instrument http://thebluntinstrument.wordpress.com