Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby with Sean Kennedy

July 13, 2015

Sex.

 

Yeah, yeah.  I said the magic word.

 

One of the main criticisms levelled at the Tigers books, besides Simon’s unlikeability (which KILLS me, especially as I’ve now admitted my family think I’m him) is that there is very little sex on the page.

 

I don’t know why that should be a criticism, or why it should be expected that every m/m book must have steamy engorged-cock sex scenes every so often.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it.  My book with Catt Ford, Dash and Dingo, has much of the sexiness that occurs between two men.  Because it seemed suited to that style of story, which was in every way rooted in classic gay pulp tropes and adventure action tropes.

 

tumblr_nqgvn5tGv01su49fgo1_500.gifBut when I started writing Tigers, I thought Simon – despite wearing his heart on his sleeve – is also a pretty private person.  You just have to watch his interactions with his family.  Of course that improves with each book, but I guess Simon thinks some things are his business, and his business alone.  Okay, he might admit to Declan having a pretty cock in Book #3, but that was more to mortify him than anything else.

 

So let the curtains rustle in the windows and watch the fade to black occur whenever these boys retreat to the bedroom.  It’s their circus, and their circus alone.

Tigers on the Run: Melbourne with Sean Kennedy

July 13, 2015

Let’s talk about Melbourne.

 

I often say that Melbourne is a character itself in the Tigers and Devils universe.  It was the city I was born in, the city I returned to live in for a decade, and it is the city of my heart.  You know how you just feel you belong somewhere?  I belong to Melbourne.

 

So I thought I would talk about some of the things I love so much about the city.  Some of them have already been adopted by Simon as his favourite things.

 

Here we go:

 

  • the MCG, obviously.  The home of Australian Rules Football.  Richmond train on the grounds in front of it on Punt Road.  It was also the stadium used for the Melbourne Olympics.  Where I lived you could often hear the crowd roaring if the wind blew in the right direction.
  • PICEDITOR-AGE

 

 

 

  • Pineapple donuts.  ‘Nuff said.ADP_7c10_detail

 

 

 

  • The Cheesestick.  A lairy art installation on one of the major freeways which a lot of people hate but I love.
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  • The Antarctic winds blowing straight through you.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Hanging Rock – a place of legend that most people still believe is real.  MIRAAAAAANDAAAA!
  • picnic-at-hanging-rock
  • Trams.  Trams makes a city magical.
  • Good vegetarian food on every street corner!  Believe me, that’s heaven for a veggo.
  • BOOK STORES.  Perth City justclosed down its last book store.  You now have to travel out to shopping centres in the burb to find a book store.
  • There is just a spirit in Melbourne that is like no other.  It really does feel like a city that accepts you, no matter who you are.  It is the perfect city for Simon and Dec to live the rest of their lives.

Does Melbourne feel like a city you would like to live in?

Welcome to the Tigers on the Run release party with Sean Kennedy

July 13, 2015

Sorry I am a little late to my own shindig, but I am full of ineptitude when it comes to WordPress.

 

Hello, and welcome!

 

As you may have guessed, I am Sean Kennedy and today “Tigers on the Run”, the third book in the Tigers and Devils series, is released!

 

I’m not exactly sure how to start, but I thought I would talk a little bit about the state of out players in Australian football.

 

Um, there’s none.

 

There never have been.  There have been rumours, but they always turned out unfounded.

 

The first Tigers and Devils book was released in 2009.  And although I never thought people would really read it back then (or would still be reading it now) I do believe I thought there might have been a real Declan Tyler by now.

 

But no.  Nada.  Zip.

 

What about rugby league?

 

Okay, there has been one (yes, 1) player to come out as gay, and that was Ian Roberts back in 1995.  Twenty years ago.

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Twen – ty.

 

No one since.

 

You would think that maybe when one person did it, it might make it easier for the next.  But nobody ever took up the mantle after Ian Roberts.

 

But other sports have seen gay people out and proud.  Matthew Mitcham is our Olympic gold-winning medallist.  Casey Dellacqua in tennis.  And of course, Ian Thorpe just recently came out.

 

But still no-one in the AFL.  Is it because it is the last bastion of extreme Australian masculine sport?  I don’t know if I have an answer for it.  I don’t think anybody does, really.

 

But I have to wonder, in another six years, if we’ll still be asking this question.

 

But, I digress.  Any questions about the book, new or old?

Immutable Release Party – Fantasy

July 8, 2015

Immutable is my first full on fantasy story. The rest have been sci-fi. So why suddenly a fantasy story? Why a shifter not an alien? (Hmm, plot bunny…)

I didn’t used to read a lot of fantasy except for the books of the late Sir Terry Pratchett. Yet I love Terry Pratchett – you can see my tribute to him here. But I also didn’t used to read a lot of romance and now I write it. I’m one of the people who came to m/m romance via the fanfic route rather than the mainstream romance route. So the past really is no guide to the future.

I am a long time sci-fi fan, but in many cases more for sci-fi movies and TV shows than books. Though my all time favourite books remains The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy. I’m a fan of the optimistic vision of Star Trek, but even more when it’s tempered with uncomfortable reality – like in the Deep Space Nine series. I also love some grittier military sci-fi, like Aliens. So it’s a strange thing that I’ve even had the idea to write a fantasy/paranormal romantic story.

But my tastes are changing. Lately I’ve been reading a lot more fantasy, whether it’s classical high fantasy, like George R R Martin, or m/m urban fantasy like Psycop or SPECTR. And everything in-between. In fact several of my current favourite authors write at least some fantasy.

That’s not the only genre I’m reading more of. Crime is another, and I combined crime and sci-fi, along with romance of course, in my recent release Mapping the Shadows {link}

We change. At least in part because of the books we read and movies and TV we watch. Using the Goodreads site the past few years shows me the gradual change in my reading habits. We should always be open to getting into a new genre and never dismiss it out of hand because it’s not the kind of thing we usually read.

It’s not only reading. I’m working on moving out of my comfort zone, and expanding what I write. I’ve got an F/F sci-fi story published and a couple of short contemporaries. I’ve got a longer F/F contemporary drafted waiting for editing. I’ve got plans for a m/m near-future murder mystery story to write later this year. But I don’t think purely contemporary is for me. I always want an extra genre element to it – be it crime, fantasy or a zombie apocalypse. But the great thing is to explore and not assume there’s only one genre to read or to write.

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Question – how have your reading habits changed over the years? If one of those changes was starting to read m/m fiction, how did you come to the genre?

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Immutable Release Party – Shifters

July 8, 2015

Immutable is my first ever shifter story. I’m not going to tell you what kind of shifter is involved, because spoliers! But I’ll tell you that it’s not a werewolf. Not that I have anything against werewolves. I love me a werewolf, be it Sergeant Angua in Pratchett’s Discworld books, or Oz in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, or Scott McCall in Teen Wolf. But there are lots of different shifters besides werewoves around these days. Still lots of the classic wolves of course, but also plenty of big cats, and everything else from sloths to octopi.

Legends of humans that turn into wolves and other creatures are ancient, but continue to appeal today. Like many tropes that originate in horror stories, they are symbolic of our fears. Like vampires are symbolic of fears about sex and sexuality, and zombies are symbols of fears about contamination and disease. Shifters can symbolise the fear of the animal side of human nature and what happens if it is unleashed. They’re good for themes of identity too. Which am I, human or animal, or something else?

Attitudes to them are different though. They used to be scary, but shifters have followed the vampires into the romance genre. Maybe it’s because our attitude to animals has changed. People used to be more afraid of them or consider them dangerous pests. Now we tend to admire animals like wolves and big cats. At least those of us who don’t live near them and don’t have to deal with them eating our livestock or pets. So a shapeshifter can be romantic and sexy, though with that extra frisson of danger. The current, dare I say it, obsession, with Alpha Males in the romance genre may be a factor too. Make a character a wolf part of the time and the whole Alpha Male thing can be taken to literal extremes.

So shifters are fun to read about and maybe I’ll write more in the future. The nearest I’ve come to a shifter before this is a shapeshifting ship’s doctor in my Red Dragon series, who cycles between male, female and alien form. Zhe gets an extra uniform allowance.

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Question – what’s the oddest shapeshifter you’ve seen? Mine would be the sloths, in a story by Charlie Cochrane in the Lashings of Sauce anthology. Being a sloth part of the time might not be as sexy as being a wolf or panther, but there’d be less racing over moonlit hills persued by hunters and more just hanging out and chilling. Sounds good to me!

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Immutable Release Party – Dream states

July 8, 2015

I mentioned earlier that the idea for Immutable came to me while snoozing in bed one morning last summer. Not quite asleep, not quite awake, I let it play out to its conclusion in my head. I say it arrived fully formed, but really, it was my mind telling itself the story, and being in a half asleep state, sliding quite easily to what happens next. The unconscious mind is stronger when you’re not fully awake, and the unconscious mind is much cleverer than the conscious mind. It knows all the things your conscious mind can’t hold the whole time. Trusting the unconscious—“the boys in the basement” as Stephen King calls it in On Writing—is important for a writer. When a writer is working on a story, then even when they aren’t consciously thinking about it, the unconscious mind is busy. When it’s got something worked out it shoves it up into the conscious mind and the writer says “this idea just came out of nowhere.”

It’s also the place where characters pick up their tendency to misbehave. Many writers find they can’t make a character do what the writer planned in a convincing manner while writing. The character seems to have a mind of their own. But really it’s the unconscious mind, which already knows the character best and knows what they would and wouldn’t do. Best to do as it tells you.

But back to dreaming and semi-dreaming states. I have had the germs of ideas from actual dreams before, but dreams are usually too wacky to write just as they happened and produce a coherent story with. My novel Higher Ground started as a dream, of climbing to higher ground, while water rose behind me. There were various other bits to it. But that only gave me a basic concept to start from. It took plenty of work to create characters and plot from that. Half-asleep daydreams on the other hand will be more coherent stories, but without the inhibiting powers of the wide awake mind which is too quick to jump in and say “stop that, it’s far too silly.” Creative snoozing is very useful to writers! (Yes, it’s one of the few jobs when napping can count as work.) It allows in odder ideas than the wide awake brain would have countenanced.

In Immutable Callum is in a kind of dream state himself. He’s in a thrall or trance part of the time and it lets him accept things he would otherwise have questioned. But this state is a fragile one, for the writer too. One car alarm going off outside and waking you up fully, and it’s popped like a soap bubble. The same for Callum (without the car alarm.) Once reality hits, his bubble is burst and his dream is over.

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Question – ever had a great idea come to you in a dream or half asleep state? Did you act on it? Write it if you’re a writer? Did it make sense in the light of day?

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Immutable Release Party Excerpt and Giveaway

July 8, 2015

Immutable isn’t just my first none HEA story, and my first non-anthology story with Dreamspinner Press, it’s a first in lots of ways. It’s my first ever fantasy story. I’ve done a zombie novel before now, called Patient Z, but they were very much science fiction zombies. It’s my first shifter story. It’s my first set in a historical fantasy setting. It’s not quite my first story in First Person point of view, but it’s the first of those longer than a short story that I’ve sold. So because of all of those firsts I’m just dying to see what people make of it.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 1, to see what you make of it! Keep going and at the end there’ll be a chance to enter to win a copy.

Chapter 1

The wind was cold that morning I found him. I remember. I’d come down to the beach when the sky was barely light. Fine rain misted my hair and clothes as I scrambled down the cliff path onto the sand.

I carried a basket on my back and began filling it with driftwood as I walked. Driftwood burns with a strange blue flame, but there were so few trees on the island it was the only type of wood we ever had to burn. Those who could afford it bought coal shipped over from the mainland. Me, I pick up the sea coal that washes ashore from the coal seams exposed under the water. I always pounced on a piece of that when I saw it, as if it were a diamond. Winter wasn’t far away. Ma wouldn’t make it through the winter if I didn’t keep the cottage warm enough.

I threw those thoughts off and continued along the beach, shoving driftwood in the basket, watching among the seaweed and pebbles for the precious sea coal. With my gaze glued to the sand, I didn’t spot the body until I was close enough to see instantly that it was a man. He lay on the wet sand, pale, almost gray in the morning light.

I ran, hoping—praying—not to find him dead. He was naked, but that didn’t surprise me. The sea can strip a body bare. I dropped the basket off my shoulders as I fell to my knees beside him. It toppled, spilling out its load.

The man lay facedown, his legs still in the surf, the waves breaking over them and ebbing as if trying to pull him back into the sea. He had skin as pale as ivory—not the skin of a sailor or fisherman exposed to the sun on deck all day. His exposed back was smooth and unmarked, without the tattoos or scars from the lash sailors often had. Hair as black as anthracite lay across his shoulders, a few strands of seaweed caught in it.

I laid a hand on him, fearing I’d find him cold and dead. But he was warm. I turned him onto his back. Nobody I knew. My island, Sula Skerry, was so small I knew the face and name of everyone who lived here. This face I’d never seen. This face… I’d never seen a face like it. Not even in schoolbooks about the legends of changelings and fair folk. For he was fair, God forgive me. I’d never seen a man so fair.

He lay against my arm, eyes closed, thick black lashes brushing cheeks marred only with wet sand. I touched his chest to feel if he still breathed. He did. I left my hand there, on that warm skin, as pale as the rest of him, one dark nipple under my palm.

“Cold….”

I gasped at the sound of a voice and stared down at his face. He’d opened his large and dark eyes. So dark I couldn’t say they were any color at all, like I can say mine are blue. They weren’t merely dark brown; they were black. He’d spoken, and his mouth, his well-shaped lips, moved again. “I’m cold.”

The wind on his wet, naked skin must have been sucking the heat from him. I had to get him somewhere warm. I pulled off my jacket and wrapped it around him. But his long legs were still naked, and his…. I tried hard not to look at his member, for that’s a sin.

“Can you stand?” I asked him, grateful we understood each other. Sailors had been washed ashore here before, who spoke languages none among the islanders understood. I helped him up, but he sagged against me and I had to catch him in my arms to keep him from falling. I’d never get him up the cliff path to the cottage in this state. If I ran for help, he’d be dead of cold before I got back. I had a better idea.

“Hold on to me.” I hauled him toward the cliff face, a hundred feet or so along the beach, dragging my basket behind me. Good thing I’d been coming down here since I was a boy, when Ma was the one collecting the driftwood, and I’d followed behind her, barefoot, searching for shells or stones with holes in them—those were lucky—and always the precious sea coals.

With him lolling against my side and leaning heavily on me, I reached the mouth of a small cave. I’d first found it when I was eight years old. I’d hidden in it, listening to Ma calling me. “Callum! Callum!” A game to me, frightening to her the first time, fear in her voice that I didn’t understand. The cave seemed huge then, like a cavern. Fifteen years later I had to stoop over as I went into it, and I could reach the back in only a few steps.

It lay well above the high tide mark and only the worst storms ever reached into it, so there was little on the floor but dry sand. Some lichen grew on the walls. Nothing else lived here since it got sunshine only at dawn, as the sun rose over to the east and lit this cave low in the cliff for little more than an hour.

I lowered the man to the floor of the cave and he lay there shivering, despite having my jacket wrapped around him. What should I do? Go to the cottage and fetch him some clothes? Go to the village and fetch the constable or the doctor? I felt a strange reluctance to bring anyone else. I wanted him to myself.

“What’s your name?” I asked him.

“Breen,” he said, voice shaking as he spoke. “B… Breen.”

Breen? Where was that from? For all he spoke our language, he had a foreign look to him, with that coal black hair. Some of the shipwrecked sailors who washed up on the island before had skin browner than the most tanned and leathered of the shepherds and fishermen. This man had skin as pale as a highborn lady who’d never ventured out without a shady hat or parasol.

A fire. Yes. I could make a fire for him to warm himself by. I emptied my basket and built a fire at the mouth of the cave. Dried seaweed served for kindling, and I made a spark with the flint I had in my pocket. I blew softly on it until it caught and flames licked up. The wood ignited and the fire began to crackle. I hauled Breen closer to the mouth of the cave. A little smoke came in, but the wind was blowing from the north, down the beach, not from the sea, so most of the smoke blew away from us.

Breen sat up after a few minutes warming by the fire, pressed close against my shoulder. I didn’t know if the touch warmed him, but it sent a flush through me. Heat pooled low in my belly. I tried to ignore it. Mustn’t think on it. I could have left him then, gone up to fetch him some clothes from the cottage. He was out of the wind and had the fire and my jacket. He wouldn’t freeze in the time it took me to get there and back. But I didn’t want to go. I had a strange fear that if I let him out of my sight for even a minute he’d disappear.

“What’s your name?” he asked me suddenly, rousing me from a daydream, my mind full of… sin.

“Callum. Are you a sailor, Breen? Were you wrecked?”

“Wrecked?” He asked it as if he didn’t know what the word meant. He had an accent, not local, not even like the men who sometimes came from the mainland.

“Were you on a ship? Did it sink?”

“No. No ship.”

No ship? So how’d he come here? For he’d surely come out of the sea.

“A fishing boat?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I am here for you, Callum.”

“What?” I turned to him, thinking I’d misheard, or he’d misspoke, not knowing our language so well after all. His eyes were huge and so beautiful. Looking into them felt like falling into a tarn, or looking up into the night sky, at the velvet blackness.

“I have heard you call me,” he said, voice low, a dark, throbbing edge to it. He reached for me, his long fingers touching my face. Shock made me want to pull away. But the thrill down my spine at his touch—fingers still cold despite the fire—kept me riveted. I could no more stop him than I could fly. He leaned close. I thought he was speaking. His lips formed words, or perhaps my name, but my ears were full of the crashing of the waves and the crackle of the fire. His lips touched my mouth.

I closed my eyes. A kiss. He was kissing me. I’d never… not with a man, not a kiss. Some… fumbling with other lads, and a kiss with a lass or two, because they expected it, and because other people expected it, and it kept them from talking about me. But this… nothing had ever felt like this. His mouth slanted across mine, lips soft, but something hard behind them. No, not hard. Strong. His skin was smooth where mine was rough. I hadn’t shaved before coming to the beach.

His tongue—hot, wet—touched my lips. It should have been disgusting. Sin should feel disgusting, make me want to stop him, push him away, drag him out and toss him back in the sea that brought him. But instead it thrilled me. I wanted his tongue inside my mouth, and I opened my lips to him. It pressed in and found mine. Oh, God, to feel that for the first time. Like his tongue was a flint and mine was kindling. A spark and then flame.

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If you’d like to read more check out the buy link below, or enter the contest to win an ebook copy. Comment and tell us about a memorable reading first. Maybe the first time you tried a genre you thought wasn’t your thing—and loved it. Or your first M/M book. Did it change your reading habits forever?

Answer by Friday 10th, 18:00 BST (that’s UK time) and you’re in with a chance to win.

Contest now closed. Thanks for entering and congratulations to the winner JJ.

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Immutable Release Party with Becky Black

July 8, 2015

Becky Black here. Afternoon, all, or evening, or morning wherever you are and welcome to my few hours hosting the blog for my release day party.

My Bittersweet Dreams novella Immutable is out today.

Blurb

Every night, in the tiny cottage he shares with his dying mother, lonely young shepherd Callum dreams of having a lover by his side. A man to share his bed and his life. One day, as he gathers driftwood on the beach, he finds Breen, a beautiful, naked stranger. Breen makes love to him, leaving Callum certain he’s only a fantasy. But the stunning Breen is there again the next day—fulfilling Callum’s every wish. Then Callum’s hopes are shattered when he learns of Breen’s true nature. Panic and desperation drive Callum to commit a terrible betrayal to try to keep Breen from leaving him.

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It’s an unfortunate truth: love doesn’t always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.

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I’m pretty new to Dreamspinner, with only a couple of anthology stories with this publisher before this one. But I knew the Bittersweet Dreams line was the right home for this story, because it doesn’t come with a happy ending. And there was no way to get one in there, wrack my brains as I might. The story arrived fully formed in my brain just under a year ago. I remember the exact date in fact, 29th of July. I was snoozing in bed early in the morning on the last day of a visit to family, and this story began to play out in my half-asleep mind. Later on the train home I wrote up a long summary of the idea and a few days later I started writing the draft.

This was quite unusual for me. Normally I get a story idea, write some notes, then let it simmer away for a while until I decide to add it to the plans or not. This one didn’t work that way. It wasn’t on the plan, but I started writing it anyway, thinking it would only take a couple of weeks to write the draft, since it’s fairly short. Of course I kept trying to figure out how to give it a classical Romance happy ending, knowing that it would severely limit its market without one. But the story lived up to its title. It was Immutable. The plot ended up pretty much exactly as it had come to me that first day.

There’s plenty of sex in it, so maybe I could have sold it as erotica, but that didn’t feel right for it either. The story is about a romance, just one that doesn’t get to even a HFN, never mind a HEA. It’s still a hopeful story in the end, I think. Callum, the lead character, makes a big mistake and pays the price, but he learns from it and he’s going to move on and do better in the future.

So as I’d thought in the first place, Bittersweet Dreams was the best home for it and I was delighted when, after I’d edited and polished it, Dreamspinner Press accepted it. And today, 11 months and a week after I got the first idea, it’s out.

What about you, readers? Do you get an idea – for a story or any other project – and dive right in? Or do you ponder it and consider the idea from all angles and scheme about it for a while before you decide whether to go ahead or not?

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Freshman Blues Release Party with Ravon Silvius: Celebrate!

July 3, 2015

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So, people must be wondering a lot about all this talk about starting college when it’s July-and tomorrow is the 4th!

I figured I’d go out with a figurative bang and talk about vacations, since summer vacation—and vacations from work—are a grand part of life, whether it be school life or work life. At the end of the day, no matter one’s worries about work and school, what really matters is one’s family and loved ones. What with the landmark victory last week for gay marriage and the coming celebration of America’s birthday, I figured it would be good to talk about partying!

In Freshman Blues, people party before vacations with enormous frat parties and celebrations, complete with showing off superpowers. In college, I can’t count the number of random parties, Thirsty Thursday celebrations, and Friday night celebrations that happened for very little reason other than to have fun. I worked a lot of my own fun or funny college experiences into the book. After all, a huge part of college life is goofing off!

But how do you guys celebrate? Will your fourth be spent by the pool, at a barbecue, or out on a lawn, watching fireworks? For those outside the U.S., what sort of vacations do you take when you have the chance—or what would your dream vacation be?

Let’s talk about partying as I leave my last post for the day! Thank you all so much for participating!

Just as a last reminder, you can grab Freshman Blues here at Dreamspinner!   You can also check out my other work, or visit me to continue the conversation past the release party, at my blog!

I’m going to leave you all with one last cover shot, blurb, and an excerpt! Thanks again everyone, and I’ll be around to chat in the comments until midnight!

Freshman Blues

Freshman Blues

When Chris is invited to prestigious Creekville University, he discovers he is part of an experiment by the mysterious Professor Faran. There’s no other way a C student like him would have been accepted into a college where academic mastery results in unique powers like levitation or empathy. But if Faran is right, even below-average students can get special abilities and a good job after graduation. Chris just has to work hard.

Chris isn’t the only one, either. Frederick has worked for Faran for years, and Chris is intrigued by the aloof and sexy older student. But Frederick is too terrified of life after graduation to pursue romance. As they work together, Chris tries to help Frederick out of his depression, all while juggling friendship, classwork, dating, and trying to carve out a place he can belong.

But funding for the experiment is running out, and Chris has to acquire an ability—any ability—soon, or he’ll lose his opportunity at Creekville, and any chance with Frederick, for good.

Excerpt:

Chapter one

Chris took a deep breath. Then another. The Isaac Newton dormitory loomed over his head.

The engine of his parents’ car gunned, and he gave a weak wave to his mother. The last thing he saw was her proud smile as the car began to pull away, leaving him on the sidewalk with his two enormous suitcases by his feet. The car rushed past the faded sign proclaiming “Creekville University, 1891,” and then was gone.

Chris turned back to the double doors and took another deep breath, the butterflies in his stomach threatening to spill out of his mouth. He took a crumpled paper out of his pocket.

“Are you lost?” He jumped at the voice. A girl with long blonde hair smiled at him, her teeth bright white. “Need help with your bags?”

“Uh….” He cleared his throat and started again. “I’m Chris Taklo. I’m, uh, a freshman.”

She smiled wider. “I figured as much. What floor are you on?”

“Fourth floor. Reed Hall.”

“Great!” She stuck out a hand, and he stared at it for a moment before shaking. “I’m Krystal, and I’ll be your RA this year. Welcome to the Newton dorm.”

Chris took a breath, his stomach calming. “Thanks.”

“Parents aren’t helping you move in?” When Chris shook his head, she nodded. “That’s fine. What room number are you? No, wait. Let’s get your bags first. You’re sure it’s Reed Hall, right?”

“Right. Room number….” He glanced at the paper in his hand. “Four-oh-nine.”

“Okay. Here we go!”

She began to recite something, and tension fizzed on Chris’s skin. He tried to pick out the words and numbers, and figured it out just as his bags began to levitate off the ground.

It was a physics equation, and it rattled off her tongue so fast he could barely make out the pronunciation of big G and little G, mass and velocity. The bags soon floated over his head, and then up toward the window of the fourth floor. Krystal changed the recitation, rattling off variables related to momentum, and the bags floated through the window.

“There.” She took a breath, then broke into another large smile. “That should lighten your load.”

Chris kept staring at the open window where his bags had disappeared. This was college. He hoped he could make it through even one semester. “Thanks.”

“Don’t look so down. You might be able to do that one day, if you decide to major in physics.” She patted him on the shoulder, then hopped up the cement stairs. “C’mon, let’s get you to your room. Do you know what you want to major in yet?”

Chris’s mouth twisted. “Not yet.”

“That’s okay.” The interior was plain, the walls a smoky yellow. Fire doors marked exits down long hallways, but Chris didn’t get the chance to explore before Krystal hit the elevator button with a well-manicured fingernail. “A lot of freshmen come in not knowing what they want to do. I’m sure some of the older students will give you suggestions, though.”

“Right.” The elevator dinged, and Chris stepped inside. A blue tarp stretched across the interior, and he peeked over. There was nothing on the other side.

“That’s for researchers transporting animals,” Krystal said. Chris blinked. “And here we are—Reed Hall.”

The doors swung open to the Reed Hall of the Isaac Newton dormitory, fourth floor. Chris’s new college home.

Green carpeted hallways led to two lounges on either side of the elevator lobby. His bags lay on the floor of the lounge to the left. A guy with a buzz cut was currently using them as a footrest. A football game blared on the television.

“Derric!” Krystal shouted. The buzz cut guy raised an arm in a lazy wave. “Get off the new student’s bags!”

Derric lifted his legs, Chris’s suitcase falling on its side. “Sorry,” he said with a shrug.

Chris sighed, then walked over and pulled the bags away from the chair Derric sat in. “You a freshman?” Derric asked, his gaze swiveling from the TV mounted on the wall. “That’s all you have?”

“Yep.” Chris grunted as he lifted the bags.

Derric shrugged again, then went back to watching the game. Well, fine, then. He wasn’t someone Chris would bother with much.

Reed Hall stretched down past the two lounges, a row of closed doors on either side. The first one he passed was decorated with colorful letters spelling Krystal R.A.

“This is my room.” Krystal had followed him. “There are sixteen people in Reed Hall, though I haven’t met all the new arrivals yet. Can you manage from here?”

Chris nodded. He certainly hoped so.

“Great! We have a hall meeting tonight at eight where you’ll meet all your hallmates. Let me know if you need anything at all. The two guys in the room next to mine are also seniors, and I wouldn’t ask Frederick, but you can ask Kiefer anything if you can’t tell me.” She winked, and Chris’s face heated. “Also, your roommate is a sophomore, so you can ask him whatever you want too. Welcome again!” She waved, and Chris waved back before heading on down the hall. He wondered who Frederick was, and why he shouldn’t speak to him.

Most of the doors he passed were closed, including the one next to Krystal’s, where she’d said the seniors lived. There were two bathrooms—one for males and one for females—and finally he passed another open door.

Paintings covered the entire room. Some were modern—splotches of bright color on white canvas—and others depicted stick figures. A few were more detailed, showing women in colorful dresses dancing in a brightly lit ballroom. A girl with long dark hair sat behind a desk, sketching something. She lifted her hand from the pencil for a moment, the utensil staying aloft and continuing to sketch. Almost certainly an art major, Chris thought.

Chris kept moving, staying aware of the numbers on the doors. His room was last.

He passed another open door, but the room had no occupant. A giant football jersey was spread across the doorway. Must be Derric’s room.

Finally, he stopped outside room 409, a bright red exit door down the hall to his left. He set down his bags and fumbled for his keys a moment before swinging open the door.

“Don’t move!” someone shrieked. Chris froze.

Two enormous computer towers met his gaze, and parts littered the floor. A guy with slicked black hair and glasses stood, a pair of tweezers in his hand.

“You’re my roommate, right?” he said. “Okay, give me a few seconds to get this stuff off the floor.”

“Uh… what are you doing?” Chris asked. His new roommate turned one of the computer towers, the interior gutted.

“Making some adjustments.” He began picking up electronic bits from the floor near the door, waving a hand. “Sorry. I wasn’t expecting you. My roommate from last year never showed up, so I guess I kind of… forgot.” He grabbed wiring that lay near the empty bed on what Chris guessed would be his side of the room. “Come in, come in. I’m Gene. Short for Eugene, but… just call me Gene. You?”

“Chris.” He stepped carefully into the room, arms straining as he lifted his suitcases onto the bed. He wished he knew a few physics equations at the level Krystal did.

“Nice to meet you.” Gene shoved one of the computer towers back under his desk with a foot. “I guess, um, tell me about yourself. Where you’re from, all that stuff. We’re roommates now!”

“Uh… I’m from California. I’m nineteen.” He gave a weak smile. “Not really interesting.”

“Nineteen? Same age as me. Old for a freshman.” When Chris didn’t elaborate, Gene shrugged. “Then again, I was young in my year, so whatever. What are you going to major in?”

“Uh… no idea.” Chris set his suitcases on the now-clean floor and sat on the bed.

“Figures. Not many people know. And even the ones who do know as freshmen don’t always know exactly what their abilities will be, even in their field. I don’t know yet, either. I’m majoring in computer engineering, though. Isn’t it obvious?” He gestured to the gutted computer tower.

Some of the tension went out of Chris’s shoulders. “You don’t know your abilities?”

“Nope. Maybe by the end of this year, after a few more classes. Or maybe I’m in the wrong field, and I’ll find out I have amazing skills in basket weaving.” He chuckled, sitting down in a plush computer chair. “Is that all you have, by the way? Where’s your computer?”

“I thought I’d rent one…?”

Gene’s eyes widened. “Wow. Okay, though. I’ll come with. We can go over to ITS, and I’ll help you get something good. Otherwise, you’ll end up with some piece of crap, trust me.” His chair creaked as he stood. “Put your things away. The sooner we go the better, or the good stuff will be gone.”

“Okay.” Chris unzipped one of the bags, thinking for a second. “Let’s just go now, then. All that’s in here are clothes and bedsheets.”

Gene raised a dark eyebrow. “Wow. Light packer, aren’t you?”

“I… don’t have much.”

“Well, let’s go, then. Don’t forget your keys. Unless you’re majoring in locksmithing, of course.” He grinned, and more of the anxiety left Chris’s muscles as he smiled back.

So far, college didn’t seem so bad.

Chris just wished he actually belonged here.

Freshman Blues Release Party with Ravon Silvius: New Adult

July 3, 2015
Freshman Blues

Freshman Blues

Hello everyone! As the evening goes on, I want to chat a bit more about Frederick, and about why I wanted to write a new adult story in particular.

Frederick is a very private individual, and one who struggles a lot with the thought of his future. I don’t want to spoil anything about the book, but he’s very worried about his job prospects, and that underlies a lot of his uncertainty and character conflict.

I remember my senior year in college well, and I faced a lot of the same worries Frederick did. The last year of college is the last step before independence for a lot of people. For others, it’s the last year of high school, or the last year of graduate school. But at some point, everyone faces the reality of having to find a first job that will, with any luck, lead to a stable career.

As much as I’d like to be a full time writer, I went the PHD path and I am now a researcher. Other people I know decided to get very stable jobs as programmers or work in finance. Others are still finding their footing in a very difficult job market. A large part of the reason I wanted to write New Adult, and ended up writing Freshman Blues, was to explore the thoughts and feelings behind that first step in finding a new job.

So what about all of you? What was your first job? Did you enjoy it, or was it rough? Were you able to find work straight out of high school, college or grad school, or did you struggle for a while? Or are you still looking? Let me know your thoughts! What was, or is, your time as a “New Adult” like?

Also, I noticed that the print version of Freshman Blues is sold out on Amazon. The DSP website should still have some copies, though!