j. leigh bailey

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Traveling Thru Africa... from Home

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on September 25, 2013 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

One of my favorite parts of starting a new project is the research.

 

In my first novel I didn’t have too much to research. I got to look up some information on baseball and soccer, parts of the uniforms, seats at Wrigley Field. Nothing too in-depth or out of the realm of the normal.

In my second novel I got to learn a lot about power tools, the location of a state park, the rivalry between two colleges in the same town, and the name of the truck stop near Northfield, MN. Again, nothing too in-depth or out of the ordinary.

 

My third book, well, that one is going to be fun. It takes place in Cameroon, Africa. I’ve never been to Cameroon (or anywhere in Africa, really). Researching it—everything from the major airports and transportation infrastructure to the local flora and fauna—is So. Much. Fun. Using Google Maps, I was able to zoom in on a satellite image and trace the route my characters will take while crossing the country. I was able to tell when the roads went from being paved to dirt. I found the absolute *best* place for them to be kidnapped by mercenary rebels from the neighboring Central African Republic. I could see the actual stone wall that separated the countries and the highway that was *right there*!

 

I could not have written this story fifteen years ago, at least not with the same level of authenticity.

 

Because I went to college for International Relations with an emphasis on Africa and the Middle East, I knew that there was more to Africa than the stereotypes we westerners normally see. It’s not all safaris through the savanna or starvation in the Sahara. It’s not all primitive tribal structures and tiny villages. Do those things exist? Of course, but there are also big cities with shopping malls and McDonald’s restaurants.

 

 

Instead of relying on the stereotypes, thanks to the amazing tools of the technological age, I almost have too much information. I want to include it all! But I have to be judicious in what I incorporate where. My main character is not a zoologist or botanist, so he wouldn’t know a mahogany tree from a mangrove.

 

The great part, though, is that because of the route they are taking to get from Yaounde to the fictional refugee camp that is their destination, they get to experience several different geological areas. Cameroon is considered the “little Africa” within the continent, because every geographical terrain found in the continent is also found in the country. Also, more than half of the animal species in Africa can be found in Cameroon.

 

Thanks to the internet and the huge resources it can link me to, I know exactly how long it will take for my character to fly from Chicago to Yaounde and where he will have to layover. I also have turn by turn directions from Yaounde to the camp. I’ve also learned the intricacies of the insulin pump, how to refill it, how to wear it and the effects of certain stressors on people with diabetes. I love that I don’t have to plan a big research trip (though I do enjoy those) or do a lot of up-front research. I can write my story and when I need to know something, Google comes to the rescue.

 

And, since my research has taken me to very shudder-inducing territory, I’m sharing a snippet of my new WIP that relates to some of the “wildlife” in Cameroon. Enjoy!

 

 

 

          A flash of red caught my eye. My backpack sat under the cot by my feet. I lifted the bag and—“Holy shit!” I tossed the bag across the small enclosure and swung my legs up onto the cot. There, where it had apparently nestled in for the night under my bag, was the biggest fucking spider I had ever seen. Nightmarishly big. Huge. As big as my hand at full-spread. As big as a fricking pie. A furry fricking pie. Rust-colored fur encased its freakishly large body. “What the fuck is that?”

          I didn’t appreciate the gales of laughter coming from the other cot. I’m a guy and, on the whole, spiders and bugs didn’t bother me. But when the spider was big enough to crush my skull, I got a little squeamish.

          Henry stood up and reached for the mutant arachnid.

          “Don’t touch it!” I may have squealed like a girl. Maybe.

          “It won’t hurt you. Unless you’re allergic to spider bites, a bite from this guy wouldn’t do more than irritate your skin for a couple of days.”

          “Fuck that. If that thing bit me, it could take a finger. Or maybe an arm.” I scooted back on the cot until I hit the plywood board of the wall. I was pretty sure, if it came down to it, I could break through the cheap particle board to get out. I thought it might have become necessary when Henry actually picked it up. Its legs, and I wasn’t exaggerating, were as long and thick as my fingers and wriggled madly as Henry turned it so that I could see its face.

         “It’s a giant baboon spider. Its mouth isn’t big enough to do more than take a nip.”

          A shudder wracked my body. “Get that thing away from me. Or get me a shotgun.”

  

  

This is a giant baboon spider... as you can see, from the right angle, it kind of looks lilke a monkey with a creepy smile.

 

Page 200 Celebration

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on July 30, 2013 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

  

 

I find that if I celebrate milestones in my WIP, I can stay positive and productive. As such, I want to celebrate having surpassed the 200 page mark. When I hit 100 pages, I shared as short scene from my WIP. Now, at 200, I'm going to do it again. In fact, I am going to share the entire 200th page.

 

Granted, it's not in context (I can't give away all my secrets!) but it is a nice chunk of family drama.

 

He looked at Mrs. Ortega and at Danny who stood leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. “This is their house. I’m not going to ask them to leave.”

 

“Brad,” Mrs. Ortega said softly, “we will leave you to—” Her voice cut out as Danny shook his head. It was clear that Danny wasn’t going to leave Brad alone with his mother.

 

“You’re fine,” Brad told Mrs. Ortega. “We won’t be long.”

 

Mrs. Ortega nodded but watched him with concerned eyes.

 

“Fine.” His mother pulled an envelope out of her bag and held it out to Brad. When he didn’t get up to get it from her, she sighed and set it on the end table next to the couch. “That’s your plane ticket. Your flight leaves on August third, out of Minneapolis.”

 

“I’m not going to St. Louis. I have a job and a life here. I don’t want anything to do with Nolan’s parole hearing.”

 

His mother flinched. Not at his refusal. Brad knew that hadn’t registered. But mentioning the hearing in front of strangers, that got the reaction. It might tarnish her perfect image to have it known that one of her children—not to mention two others—were in prison.

 

“Of course you are. Don’t be difficult.”

 

“I’m not being difficult, I’m being honest. I’m not willing to give up my life here just to help the family put on the perfect, united front.”

 

Mother’s eyes darted around the room, before halting once again on Brad. “You owe it to the family to be there. This never would have happened if not for you.”

 

“No. That’s bull shit.” Brad ignored his mother’s tightening mouth at the profanity. “I didn’t do anything. Nolan, Greg and Patrick made their choices. And, to be clear, I believe they got what they deserve, and Nolan and the others can rot in jail forever and I wouldn’t care.”

      

 So, do you find celebrating the milestones--big and small--helpful? What do you do to celebrate your achievments?

 

WIP--Dabbling in Poetry--BEIGE

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on June 12, 2013 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm not much of a poet, I admit that freely. But every now and then I dabble. This poem was a piece that had been accepted for an anthology that has since been cancelled.

 

 

 

Beige is a blank page of newsprint,

Nothing without the rainbow of

Crayons and markers, pencils and chalk.

 

Beige is blah.

Too dark for white, too light for bright

Dull, dreary, lifeless and lackluster.

 

No child responds "Beige" when asked her favorite color.

The answer is pink or blue, purple or green,

Hues that are vibrant and cheerful, or dark and deep.

 

Beige is boring.

No glitter or glitz, no pizzazz or jazz.

Unexciting, uninspiring, uninteresting.

 

Beige is stuck, standing alone

Surrounded by the bright and shiny,

The bold and beautiful.

 

Beige is a state of mind.

Impassive, unresponsive,

Static, stagnant, stymied and stalled

 

Beige is me.

Boring, dull, unexciting,

Desperately wanting to be red.

 

 

 

Now, before anyone things that I'm wallowing in self pity, I'll also add that beige can also mean adorable puppies that make you smile, hot shoes that give you killer legs, khaki pants on a sexy man and any other number of good and happy things!

 

 

A Darling Killed

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on June 5, 2013 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

From the "killing your darlings" pile...

 

Allen Ginsberg and Daniel Radcliff from
the set of "Killing Your Darlings"

 

This is a part of a scene that I absolutely love. I had so much fun writing it, and the image was so clear in my head when I did. Unfortunately, it's one of those scenes that really doesn't add anything to the plot, so it had to go. Actually, I think I'm going to revise it and add it at a different part of the story, so I may get to keep it, but for now, it's suffered the "highlight, hit delete" fate.

 

     As if on cue, a squealing toddler dashed across the hall, a tan and white terrier at her heels. She careened into Brad’s legs and wrapped her chubby arms around his knees. She craned her neck to look up at him. She said something in a language that he thought was supposed to be English but might have been Romulan. Or maybe Elvish. He held his hands away from his body so there was no way he could accidently touch her and jerked his eyes to Mr. Ortega for some kind of clue as to how he was supposed to react.

     “My granddaughter, Veronica. She wants you to protect her from Pepe.” Mr. Ortega pulled the girl away from Brad and settled her on his own hip. She leaned away from him and held her arms out to Brad.

     “Pepe?” Brad asked, completely lost.

     “Pepe, the dog,” Mr. Ortega said, adjusting his grip on his squirming granddaughter who was still pulling away from him. “I think she wants you to hold her.”

     Pepe yipped and sat on his haunches, furry tail wagging furiously.

     “Ah… okay.” Brad studied the toddler and tried to determine the best way to hold her without breaking her. The second he put his arms out, the tiny person launched herself out of her grandfather’s arms and into his. Brad grunted at the unexpected weight. She was more solid than she appeared. She wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs gripped him at his waist.

     Brightly colored Dora the Explorer barrettes decorated her glossy black hair. Large eyes, nearly as dark as her hair, dominated her chubby face. She was simultaneously the most adorable and scariest person he’d ever met. As the youngest of four siblings, and without any cousins, he’d never been around babies.

     Mr. Ortega looked on with a pleased smile.

     Veronica leaned back as far as she could while maintaining her strangling grip around his neck and puckered her lips at him. When he just stared at her, her brows scrunched and she pursed her lips tighter. Finally she released her hold and crossed her arms across her pink-clad shirt. “Beso,” she said in a commanding tone.

     “What does she want?” Brad whispered his question to Mr. Ortega in the same tone he’d use to ask a lion tamer why the big cat eyed him like a rump roast as he adjusted his hold to match her shifting weight.

     “She wants a kiss.”

     Heat rushed up Brad’s neck and over his cheeks. He looked at Mr. Ortega and then at the girl in his arms. What in the world was he getting himself into?

     “Just make a loud smacking sound,” Mr. Ortega advised.

     Brad gave Veronica a quick peck on the top of her head, making what he hoped was a suitable smack. She giggled and cuddled close, resting her head on his shoulder. The scent of soap and maple syrup enveloped him, oddly comforting.

     “Okay, Veronica,” Mr. Ortega said, stepping forward. He reached over and tried to pull her away from Brad. She tightened around him like a boa constrictor. “Veronica,” Mr. Ortega said in a firm voice, “Go back to the kitchen. Abuelita will be looking for you and I’ve got work to do.”

     Her bottom lip stuck out, but she relaxed her hold on Brad’s neck and let her grandfather set her on the floor. The terrier, apparently happy to have someone on his level again, jumped up, his whole body quivering in excitement, and raced around Veronica’s legs. His long pink tongue darted out, catching the toddler on her ear. She squealed and raced to the other side of the house.

     “Sorry about that,” Mr. Ortega said, stepping to the side and gesturing Brad to follow him. “My wife watches some of the grandkids a few days a week. Usually they know better than to leave the den or playroom while I’m working.”

     “No problem,” Brad replied. Not that he could have said anything else, but it really had been kind of a neat moment for him. Part of him wondered how Mr. Ortega would react to know that it was the first time Brad had ever kissed a girl.

  

What do you think?

Voice Lessons

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on May 27, 2013 at 10:40 AM Comments comments (0)

To me, VOICE is one of those intangible writing things that you know it when you see it, but can't really explain it. It's a combination of what is said (both in dialogue and in exposition) and how it's said. It's not just attitude or snark (though that kind of voice is easier to spot), it's also the rhythm and sentence structure, the vocabulary. It's important to keep voice consistent and authentic.

 

I struggle with voice. I have a fairly distinct (albeit a little boring) voice of my own, which can be seen in my posts and e-mails, even in person. It's also in my writing. The problem is that my voice is very ME and I'm a 30-something adult woman. My characters, on the other hand, are 17-19 year old boys. We don't think or talk the same. I try to reconcile the two. I don't want to pander.  A young adult can spot a fake a mile away. If it's not authentic, they'll know it.

 

I'm combing through my manuscript Guyliner in an attempt to keep the young-ish voice consistent. It's been pointed out that the first half is pretty good, but that it maybe gets a bit muddled in the second half.  And since I'm tweaking other things, I figured it was a good time to go through and see if I can tweak any of the aspects that make my 17-year-old boys sound like 34-year-old women.

 

In my combing, I have run across some fun words or phrasing that definitely had to be adjusted. Not because 17-year-olds don't have advanced vocabularies or use old-fashioned phrases (hey, some might!), but these are words and phrases that Graham and/or Connor probably would not use.

 

1.  Euphoria--a great word. Connor's well-read and educated enough that he knows the word, but it's not likely to be used in his everyday thoughts.

 

2.  Perilously--another great word, but kind of old-fashioned. Makes me think of Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie, not soccer players. "Poirot's Perilous Parade..."

   

3. "Politely shunning the advance." Apparently my guys are in a Regency ballroom, not a dance club.

 

4. "Incited Connor to violence." A little too police-report. Does nothing to add to the sexual tension of the scene.

 

5. Prolong the return to reality = put off reality

 

6. "No matter how elegantly situated or roomy the accomodations..." Really, Graham? Like you're not actually thinking "No matter how fancy the big room was..."

 

7. "I'm sorry I'm being such a crabby ass." Um... I could see a woman, especially a family member, telling Connor he was being crabby, but I have some trouble imagining him calling himself crabby. He'd probably stick to "an ass" or, if he was really sorry, "such an ass."

 

8. Looking for "advice or insight into the situation." That might be the goal, but he's probably going to mom so she can tell him what he should do.

 

9.  The uncensored movement = dumb-ass move.

 

10. Harrumph. I love this word, but decided it was defintely too old fashioned. Especially since it was a teenage girl doing the harrumphing.

 

Now, just to be clear, it's not that I think young adults would not know or understand these words or phrases. But, in an effort to keep things authentic, most teens would be unlikely to use these words in either their every day conversations or their internal thoughts. And, with some of them, they don't quite fit the mood I'm trying to create in the scenes.

 

Also, this in no way encompasses all that is "voice." But I'm not qualified to expound upon that topic. Like great art, I know it when I see it, but can't explain it for crap. :)

 

Some examples of authors/books with great voice:

  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green--both Will Graysons and both authors=AMAZING! 
  • Charlie Davidson Series by Darynda Jones
  • Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward
  • Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  • Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

 

What are some of your favorite examples of great "voice"?

WIP Wednesday--The First Kiss

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on May 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

There's something exciting about the firsts in life. The first step, the first word, the first kiss, the first heart break, the "first time". All of these firsts are full of powerful emotions and so, as writers, we are drawn to them, to exploring these special occassions.

 

Today, as a special treat (I hit the 100 page mark on my manuscript!) I'm sharing a snippet of my current WIP (temporarily called Nobody's Hero) in which my two characters experience their first kiss. I'd really love to know what you think.

 

______________________

 

     “Thank you,” Brad said softly. “For the tour and for dinner. I had a good time.”

     Danny let the warmth of those fingers seep into his skin and cursed his reaction. He must have been pretty hard up if he let something as simple as Brad’s touch get to him. “I’m glad.” His voice was husky, completely contrary to the casual tone he’d hoped for.

     Brad swallowed then took a deep breath. “Here’s the thing.” He paused.

     “The thing?” Danny prompted, finding it hard to breathe.

     “Yeah. The thing. I like you.”

     Danny’s heart jumped in his chest, even though he knew a “but” was coming.

     “But my life is a mess right now. I’m not in a position to start something with someone. It wouldn’t be fair to ask you to take on me with all of my issues.”

     “Shouldn’t that be my choice?”

     “Not in this. Bad things tend to happen to people who get too close.”

     “That sounds a bit melodramatic.”

     “Yeah, well, it felt pretty damn melodramatic at times. I just…” Brad closed his eyes and his grip on Danny’s wrist tightened. “I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you because of me.”

     “Brad, I won’t pretend to know what you’re talking about. In fact, you’re being pretty damned obscure. But I will respect your decision. If you’re afraid I’ll throw myself at you or come on too strong or something, I won’t.”

     “It’s not that I think you are, or would, get all pushy. Its more that I need to remind myself why I can’t get involved, and give you an explanation for why I’ve got to back off.”

     “This is your version of it’s not you, it’s me, huh?” Danny had to force back a shiver when Brad’s hand started to caress his arm. He didn’t think Brad was aware of what he did. The leisurely glide of Brad’s palm from wrist to elbow was almost enough to distract him from the conversation. And since everything in him really wanted to reject Brad’s words, he needed to keep his mind on what they were saying.

     Brad’s head tipped forward, his chuckle bitter. “Something like that.”

     Danny reached up and cupped Brad’s cheek in his hand. Brad’s startled gaze jerked up and met Danny’s.

     “I can respect your decision. I don’t completely understand, but I’m not going to try and change your mind. Don’t get me wrong—I wish you would change your mind, but I’m not going to push. So, don’t take this as a push, okay?”

     “Wha—”

     Danny slid his hand so that it cupped the back of Brad’s neck, and he pulled Brad forward until their mouths met. The kiss was too short for his liking, but it was sweet and gentle. Danny didn’t try to deepen it, or make it last longer. It wasn’t about showing Brad what he’d be missing out on or urging Brad to reconsider. The kiss was acknowledgment, disappointment and hope all twisted into a brief melding of lips.

     Danny broke the kiss and rested his forehead against Brad’s. “I respect your decision, but I hope you don’t mind that I regret that we’re not going to explore this.”

  

_____

 

 

And, speaking of two boys kissing, who else is completely excited for David Levithan's upcoming release Two Boys Kissing? August can't come soon enought for me!

 

 

So, care to share your first kiss memories?

 

 

 

Editing/Revising--Week 1

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on September 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I've been a busy little bee over the last week.

 

I finally finished my first draft of GUYLINER.

 

I've started a sort of line-editing process with the manuscript. What am I finding?

 

The first three chapters are very well written. Great. Except for two glaring flaws (which might make one reconsider the definition of "well written"):

1.   I use passive voice A LOT. Which is embarassing because I know better. In a critique session at my local chapter of RWA, a member pointed it out, so much of what I've written since then is more active (I hope!) but the first chapters are horribly passive. I wonder if that has anything to do with my own passive-agressive tendencies?

2. Despite being well written (in terms of flow and detail and character building), the voice is wrong. The voice is very me. Which would be okay, except the main characters are 17-year-old boys. 17-year-old boys do not talk like me, nor me like them. Now I have to revise to make it sound a little younger and more macho without tossing in copious amounts of slang.

  

This is my MS notebook, complete with tabs
and color-coordinated pens and sticky notes.

That's not all I've been doing though. I have also started a process I've put off for a very long time: researching agents, editors and publishing houses.  Now, the delay in starting these aspects didn't have anything to do with fear of the overwhelming importance of this task (okay, maybe a little bit, but only a little bit!). I did not want to count my chickens.  I'm easily distracted and it seemed premature to look for agents and editors when I didn't even have a complete manuscript. Well, the manuscript is complete, albeit in rough shape, and qerying is the next step, thus the research.

 

Researching editors and agents led me to the other thing I've been working on this week: Writing a query letter. I had no idea where to start, so I did some research. There's a lot of random stuff out there, and a lot of example of "bad" query letters. The site I found the most helpful was the Nelson Literary Agency website, which actually led me to Kristin Nelson's blog, Pub Rants. She had a whole series of posts about writing query letters to snag an agent. These posts included examples of the story summary/blurb and actual, successful queries, with Kristin's analysis of why the query worked.

 

Researching query letters then led me to actually writing a query letter, which I immediately submitted to the Rainbow Romance Writer's critique loop for review, where I got great input about my letter and found a CP, one who isn't weirded out by reading YA GLBT romance.

 

So, all in all, a very busy, but successful writing week. Oh, by the way, I worked the Day Job this week, too.

 

 

What have you been up to this week?

The End

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on September 2, 2012 at 10:20 AM Comments comments (0)

You want to know the most important two words in an author's vocabulary? The End. Yeah, those are the words that indicate that the WIP is done, that the days and weeks and sometimes months and years have culminated in a complete manuscript. For some of us it's an excuse to celebrate. 


Oh, yeah, by the way I FINISHED GUYLINER!  It took me four months andI missed my self-imposed deadline by 16 hours, but I was finally able to write those words. 


But do I get to sit back and bask in my genious?


Oh, no. 


You see, in an effort to avoid getting stuck in over editing early on, I took the approach of just getting the story down, with the full expectation that I'd have to go back through and add texture and detail to the manuscript, fill out the bare bones. So that's the next stage And when that's done, I have to edit and revise and repeat ad nauseum. And I'll need beta readers to critique the hell out of it. 


Then do I get to sit back and relax? 


Not if I want to get it published. 


The publishing industry feels like a never-ending process. Even when you figure your manuscript is done, you have to sell it to someone who wants to publish it, which requires research and querying and eons of waiting. Then, if you are lucky enough to sell it, the publisher will likely have a list of required revisions and then editors will have a list of required revisions. Even when the book is "done", there is still the marketing and promotion and, assuming you don't want to be a one-time author, you have to start the next project (which you've probably already started alongside the rest of these little details. 


But, for now, I am going to celebrate that I was able to type the words (metaphorically--I didn't actually type them) THE END to my first draft of a novel. 



Contest Junky

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on August 13, 2012 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have turned into a bit of a contest junky since I joined RWA. Or, more specifically, since I've had anything complete enough to enter into one (or several) of the contests held by the different chapters of RWA.

The first I entered was the Charter Oak Romance Writers' "Golden Acorn Excellence in Writing Contest" in which the first 20 pages of the manuscript is judged.

The second contest I entered was the Central Ohio Fiction Writers' "Ignite the Spark" contest, which critiques the scene in which the Hero and Heroine (or, in my case, the Hero and Hero) first meet.

The third contest I entered was the Greater Seattle Romance Writers' "Emerald City Opener" contest that judges the first seven pages, searching for the best beginnings.

The fourth conest I entered--under pressure from fellow Rainbow Romance Writers authors--was the "Golden Rose" contest, hosted by the Rose City Romance Writers.

Considering each contest cost me between $20 and $35, that adds up. Why would I drop so much moola on these contests? Do I have an overwhelming urge to become the next Michael Phelps of the unpublished romance writing world? Am I pining for a collection of fabulous prizes and monetary awards?

There are a two main reasons that I, and many others, submit to these kinds of contests.

1. FEEDBACK! I need feed back on my writing. I don't need friends and family members telling me "that's nice, dear" or enthusing about my wonderful world of YA gay romance. I need honest, critical feedback so that I know what areas need the most work. I have never had (this is going to sound so bad!) anyone give me real, negative feedback about my writing. Let me tell you, it's not because I'm just that good. I'm not. Feed back from people who don't know me, and who are familiar with the romance genre, will be invaluable.

2. THE DREAM! In most of these contests, the finalist in each catagory have their entries forwarded to the "final" judge, who is usually an editor or agent who just might decide that my novel/concept/first chapter is so good that they absolutely must request a full or partial manuscript and will sign me on right away. Is this likely? Probably not, but, well, hope springs, right?

The results of my contest-entering splurge?

The GSRWA ECO contest I did not final. I'm okay with this, though. I can't wait to get the feedback (see #1 above) so that I can target areas for improvement.

The Golden Acorn... I'M A FINALIST! The top five entries were submitted, along with a 2 page synopsis, to the final round judges. Mandy Hubbard (!!!), D4EO Literary Agency, has been given the top five entries of the YA category. That little seed of hope... yeah, it's sproting. NOw I have to wait (there is so much waiting involved in the writing industry) to find out the results.

The other two, the results aren't in yet.

Now, on the off chance that THE DREAM comes true, I'd better finish my manuscript so when I do get the request or a full or partial MS, I'll have one ready! So, I'm off to write.

Okay, peeps, write on!

The First Kiss--WIP Wednesday

Posted by J. Leigh Bailey on Comments comments (0)

The many "firsts" in life provide excellent emotional fodder for writers since these "firsts" are inherently filled with emotion. The joy of watching a child's first step.  The first day of school.  Meeting your significant other for the first time. The first kiss.  Firsts are a big deal.

   

As a special gift, today I'm sharing with you a snippet from my current WIP, tentatively titled Nobody's Hero which includes my characters' first kiss. I hope you like it!

  

  

    

_______

 

     “Thank you,” Brad said softly. “For the tour and for dinner. I had a good time.”

     Danny let the warmth of those fingers seep into his skin and cursed his reaction. He must have been pretty hard up if he let something as simple as Brad’s touch get to him. “I’m glad.” His voice was husky, completely contrary to the casual tone he’d hoped for.

     Brad swallowed then took a deep breath. “Here’s the thing.” He paused.

     “The thing?” Danny prompted, finding it hard to breathe.

     “Yeah. The thing. I like you.”

     Danny’s heart jumped in his chest, even though he knew a “but” was coming.

     “But my life is a mess right now. I’m not in a position to start something with someone. It wouldn’t be fair to ask you to take on me with all of my issues.”

     “Shouldn’t that be my choice?”

     “Not in this. Bad things tend to happen to people who get too close.”

     “That sounds a bit melodramatic.”

     “Yeah, well, it felt pretty damn melodramatic at times. I just…” Brad closed his eyes and his grip on Danny’s wrist tightened. “I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you because of me.”

     “Brad, I won’t pretend to know what you’re talking about. In fact, you’re being pretty damned obscure. But I’ll respect your decision. If you’re afraid I’ll throw myself at you or come on too strong or something, I won’t.”

     “It’s not that I think you are, or would, get all pushy. It’s more that I need to remind myself why I can’t get involved, and give you an explanation for why I’ve got to back off.”

     “This is your version of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, huh?” Danny had to force back a shiver when Brad’s hand started to caress his arm. He didn’t think Brad was aware of what he did. The leisurely glide of Brad’s palm from wrist to elbow was almost enough to distract him from the conversation. And since everything in him really wanted to reject Brad’s words, he needed to keep his mind on what they were saying.

     Brad’s head tipped forward, his chuckle bitter. “Something like that.”

     Danny reached up and cupped Brad’s cheek in his hand. Brad’s startled gaze jerked up and met Danny’s.

     “I can respect your decision. I don’t completely understand, but I’m not going to try and change your mind. Don’t get me wrong—I wish you would change your mind, but I’m not going to push. So, don’t take this as a push, okay?”

     “Wha—”

     Danny slid his hand so that it cupped the back of Brad’s neck, and he pulled Brad forward until their mouths met. The kiss was too short for his liking, but it was sweet and gentle. Danny didn’t try to deepen it, or make it last longer. It wasn’t about showing Brad what he’d be missing out on or urging Brad to reconsider. The kiss was acknowledgment, disappointment and hope all twisted into a brief melding of lips.

     Danny broke the kiss and rested his forehead against Brad’s. “I respect your decision, but I hope you don’t mind that I regret that we’re not going to explore this.”

  

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Speaking of two boys kissing... who else is super-excited for David Levithan's upcoming book Two Boys Kissing? --Comes out August 27th!

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